“It all comes back to Jesus”

Right now is one of those moments. You know, the moment where havoc has over run the hacienda and you need a breather to collect yourself. Every parent has times like this, and if not then you should be writing this instead of me.

In these moments, we ask “why?” Maybe we shout it. Why have my children still not learned to clean up after themselves? Why has my two year old decided to become Miss Sassy-pants? Why does my boy continue to think that school is a waste of time and legos will lead him to his dream job, despite the many talks we have had to steer him otherwise? 

Then we blame ourselves. “I’m not consistent enough.” “They need more attention from me.” “Reform school.” 

Not that we don’t shoulder responsibility. I mean, we are the ones supposed to be raising them. Slackers need not apply to be parents. 

Deep in our hearts, we know the truth. We know because it is the same truth that explains our own failures. Humanity is made up of sinners. We are all rebels, bent on disobedience. (Romans 3:23)

So do we just wash our hands and say, “Well, they are little sinners. I can’t change them.” and walk away? Did God do that with us?

No. 

We steer these little sinners, as well as us big sinners, to Christ. Not to a ten step method for perfect children. Not to charts and incentives and memory verses. (Those can be tools, but not the solution itself.) 

Christ does indeed have to do the work of changing the hearts of your children and mine. We must bring every situation back to this very simple thought: we sin, we do wrong before God. God saves us and frees us from that sin. And then? We don’t have to be a slave to sin any longer. (John 8:36)

And there is immense power in that simple truth. It answers the why. It gives the solution. It takes much of the guilt off ourselves and puts it back where it belongs. 

“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, how much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. Furthermore, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:10-11‬ ‭MEV‬

We can take each infraction and turn it to the Gospel. Yes, even when they are saved. The truth that saves us is the same truth that sustains us. (Jude 1:24) My kids sometimes say, “It all comes back to Jesus.”

So I share this today with you, as a challenge and encouragement: your children will sin. It is human nature, but God gives you the power to instill saving truth in their hearts. Truth that can change them forever. It’s not a job for wimps, but you have all you need in Christ to do this. 

Have Questions About This Twin Thing? Me too.

As my mind continues to spin from the shock of finding out we are having twins, I am getting a LOT of questions. And I don’t blame any of you because it is a whole new world for me too. But seeing as I get a lot of the same questions, I thought I’d answer them here, like I’m an important person or something. Ha!

1. Why didn’t you know at your 8 week ultrasound?
Because I didn’t have one. I didn’t go to the doctor until I was 16 weeks-ish along. After going through this five other times with no complications, I really felt that driving half an hour away just to be asked if I have any questions was a waste of my time and the doctor’s time. I still don’t regret that choice. Blood panels and urine samples can be done at any time, really.

2. Didn’t the doctor hear two hearts on doppler?
Nope, just one. I am assuming that if you hear a heartbeat as soon as the wand is on the stomach, you don’t just go searching for another one for no reason. If you recall what Doppler effect is from remedial high school science, it makes sense. Everything else is background noise.

3. Do twins run on either side of your family?
Nope. We have racked our brains thinking of a distant blood relative, but no. My mom’s mom is missing half her medical history though, so there is that…

4. How did the kids take it?
They were in the room with me and were just as shocked as I was at first. But then I heard, “Mom, it will be okay. We are going to help you.” I’ve got tremendous kids.

5. What kind of twins are they?
Fraternal, which is more common. One boy and one girl. They are in separate arrangements, but dear brother was smooshing his spine against his sister, which follows Franklin sibling protocol. Annoy, pester and smoosh if possible.

6. How are you feeling NOW?
Still tired. Still big. Still achy. Less sure.

7. When are you due?
40 weeks is June 4. I did a little research on twins, and they typically come a few weeks early. My nurse said we will come up with a better idea as we continue to monitor these cherubs. Which we will. As a matter of fact, I will be making up all those doctor appointments I tried to skip. Irony can be cruel.

8. Wow! Twins!! What about homeschooling? And you’ll need a bigger vehicle. Better hurry and get that house sold! How are you guys going to manage double everything?
These are exactly the first thoughts we were thinking. But then, I stopped. Jesus said not to fret over tomorrow, that we need to take each day as it comes. That doesn’t mean we don’t prepare, but I need to focus on one thing at a time, and it needs to be what the Lord shows as the next priority. If I think of it all in one chunk, I start to get woosy. And that’s not good for the baby… babies.

9. Are you guys trying for a reality show?
Nope. We only intended to have four. Things outside our control keep happening that have us still makin’ babies. I know this is God’s plan for our family, but, for reasons maybe I’ll talk about in another post, we haven’t intentionally planned this. We just give thanks and accept the new life, or lives, God gives us.

How This Pregnancy is Different (6th time’s a charm?)

Right this moment, I am lying in bed while my kids make dinner. Am I taking advantage of child labor? Maybe. Resting from a difficult day? I’ve had worse. Lack of sleep? Yes….

The real reason I am in bed here is because I can. There’s enough semblance of order in my house and excitement about cooking, that I can rest at 5 in the evening while people less than half my age do my job for me. For free. 

When I found out about children no. 4, 5, and 6, I googled “# pregnancy”. I wanted to know what to expect to be different from each pregnancy. Information was sorely lacking. And then, I realized something: pregnancy is different because of the various factors that play in to any pregnancy, not just a higher quantity. 

But for those out there, like me, I want to fill the google void with how this,  my sixth time expecting, is different.

1. I’m tired-er.

Is it my advanced years or the amount of kids already vying for my attention? I don’t know, but I am exhausted. Every pregnancy chart says I should be full of energy, but not so much for me. So, I’ve changed some habits. I am conscientious about getting enough protein daily, starting to exercise more intentionally, and being consistent about taking my prenatal vitamin. These things have helped me tremendously.

2. I’m bigger. 

The joke before we announced at 16 weeks was, “She’s just a little chubby.” I was popping pretty early on. The great thing, though, is I love tunics. Tunics hide baby bumps or at least put you in that grey area of “is-she-preggo-or-is-it-just-the-shirt?”. And they even look cute when the baby is obvious. Tunics, people. Save your hard earned $$. 

But seriously, I am only a little smaller than I was with Natalie (my firstborn) full term. Being big makes maneuvering difficult, whether it is turning in bed, or climbing stairs, or getting out of the car. I’m not sure how this will end in 20 more weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

3. I’m surer.

Don’t be deceived. I still am not a child expert. I am confident that this child will throw us curveballs that the others never thought to throw. God will give us wisdom to handle whatever comes our way. He hasn’t failed us yet.

My older children are capable and happy to help with the little ones. I keep my feelers on for signs that I am over loading them and adjust accordingly. But watching your girls sweetly helping their baby sister? Priceless. 

I was very nervous telling our children about no.6. “Not another one!!” was the response I was expecting. But in disbelief, I watched them get excited about another child. Excited. At that point, I knew we would be okay, that there was still plenty of love to go around. 

So I’m more relaxed. People can think what they want. I know what we need and don’t need for the baby. Our other five children are thriving despite our lack as parents. It will be okay.

4. I’m achy-er.

Once again, this could be my age or the fact that I was overweight before I got pregnant. It could be because it is winter and I have the bones of an arthritic knitter. I was raised to suck it up and get over it, so I haven’t started a pain reliever regiment or anything like that. Motion is lotion, so I try to stay moving. See 1 & 2 for reasons why I stop. 

So, for the google searcher out there like me, take heart! You will be just fine. Now is a great time to start teaching your younger kids to help out more. You will be surprised at how much they want to help you. 


Now, I finished writing everything above right before heading out to my 20 week ultrasound. At said appointment, I discovered that we are having twins. Twins. So, I am going to leave you with that cliffhanger, and ask you to stay tuned for “What it is like to discover twins living in you.” 

Merry Christmas!

I have never been consistent with Christmas cards. It isn’t because I don’t want to be. I love getting cards from friends and family. I especially love the extra little note that shares about their year, their family, etc. The favor should be returned by me, shouldn’t it?

Guilt riddles me every year that I don’t get a card out. I stopped feeling guilty this year though. Instead, I will issue a Christmas Blog post. And you are now reading it. And, of course, in true Franklin fashion, it is a week late. *Ahem* So… What HAVE we been up to?

I couldn’t find a decent picture without me in it… I guess I help him behave.
Stephen is still in cahoots with my dad, running the family business. He has a reputation among his peers for being even-tempered and a problem solver. I am so proud of him! He’s created a lot of neat signs this year and the last 3 months found him ridiculously busy.  God continues to teach us lessons on His provision through this endeavor.

Trademark Natalie!
Natalie is now 12 and turning into a lovely young lady. She reminds me of myself at her age (quirky), except she is much more confident. She loves playing soccer for the club team in town and loves anything weather related. She’s also turning into a fabulous babysitter!

Meredith loves a good selfie… I find them on my phone all the time!
Meredith just turned 10, and enjoys being “mature”. She’s taken a fancy to basketball and likes crafting and doing whatever Natalie is up to. She loves fashion and perfume…. our girly-girl.

Sophie. Sugar. Smiles. That about sums her up.
Sophie is 8 and is an interesting mix of eclectic tomboy with flower child tendencies. She will beat you at any game you play with her, much to the frustration of all her siblings. She will play legos with her brother and can often be found twirling and dancing instead of walking anywhere.

 

That red hair and cute grin… it’s hard not to love!
Ethan is 7 and loves his legos and anything construction related. He spends his summers digging with his best friend, Dominic. Torturing his sisters and doing crazy stunts is also high on his list of favorite past times, much to his mother’s chagrin.

Evie is always cooking up something and usually wearing jammies to do it.
Evelyn is 2 and really runs the house. She is shy with non-family, but loves everyone secretly when they are gone. She likes to watch “moobies”, footie pajamas and to play kitchen. She’s always “making dinnah.” We love her Boston accent, but are baffled as to where it came from.

At the office, drinking Black Waters Coffee. I may or may not have been taunting my sister in this photo…
As for me? I’ve enjoyed working more on my blog this year than ever before. I still home school my four oldest and have the added responsibility of helping with office work at the family business. So, sometimes we “business school” instead of “home school.” I continue to teach Bible clubs and Teen Sunday school as well. Life is busier than ever before, but I love the life God has made for our family.

As if all this was not enough blessing, God has decided to add MORE to our family… as in another child! Franklin no. 6 will be joining us in late May/early June of 2017! I’ve made it through the first trimester with much nausea but a lot of help from our children. Stephen and I concealed this little one until just recently when I could no longer explain why I look so “plump.” It has been a lot of fun! We do not understand why God continues to bless us, but we take His gifts and praise Him for them!

So what does 2017 hold for the Franklins? Well aside from a new child, we are trusting God to provide a bigger house for our growing clan. (Pray that our house will sell!!) We are planning a trip to the Northeast this year to visit my sister’s new home, as well as Stephen’s brother’s new ministry. Sporting events, sign installs, and more legos and blog posts…. I’m sure other surprises as well! We are so thankful for another year of health and family. God is good!

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

The Day I Kicked the TV Out of the House

television

In America, we have certain unalienable rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness has been applied to a broad range of things in this country. With the advent of the TV in the 1950’s, this newfangled technology became a part of the happiness of almost every American overnight.

Then fast forward 60+ years. Now we have to have portable phones that have a computer built right in, giving us access to every thing the world has to offer. And I have to sit in a classroom and explain why a student’s “pursuit of happiness” is being stifled for an hour.

If you are about to leave, I understand. There are certain subjects we don’t like to touch on. The fact that I am, at this minute, writing this post to be displayed on social media makes me a hypocrite.

I think entertainment choices have become a very polarizing topic. Each parent sets different standards for their kids on screen time. Some set no standard at all. And we don’t like to be challenged on these things lest we think our parenting skills could use improvement. We are, after all, millennials. No improvement needed.

Nevertheless, I have a personal story and challenge for you folks out there who are desperate. You see your kids growing up before your very eyes. Feeling invisible because you cannot possibly compete with celebrities and Disney channel parents who are always witty and cool.

Stephen and I are careful as to what our kids watch on TV. We are not by any means anti-media. We want our kids to learn to use media responsibly, and if we don’t let them use it at all, they will never learn how to use it the right way.

We have set up time limits, block out times, parental controls. And yet, we cannot stand guard over the TV.

As soon as I leave the room, the TV goes on. I turn it off. Leave the room. It’s back on. I give them chores (cause they must be bored to keep turning on the TV). The TV goes back on and the chores are undone. Or my favorite, I tell them to go outside on the most perfect day God ever made. They come back in after five minutes… and the TV is back on.

Sound familiar? I thought so.

I had enough of this addiction. Life is too short to stare at a phone or tablet or television screen. The best relationships happen face to face. Work ethic is not learned on google. Instagram has nothing on photos seen in real life.

Armed with this realization and knowing we all (myself included) needed a break, I did something drastic.

I took the TV out of our living room. Out of our house. It’s taking a vacation. Yeah. It’s on summer vacation.

As we speak it is sitting on a filing cabinet in my husband’s office.

The kids weren’t sure if I was bluffing. It’s not been back for two weeks. Life has been different. Better.

Here’s how:

  1. They have gotten more creative with their free time. I thought maybe they had forgotten about things like “pretend play” and making up games. They hadn’t. The kids just didn’t have a need for such creativity when it was done for them by the “stupid box.”
  2. They help out around the house more. When you aren’t looking at the screen, you see things that need to be done. Thus, helping ensues.
  3. They pay better attention. Sometimes. We are still working on this. But I no longer have to compete with Spongebob.
  4. They are outside a lot more. Stay inside and stare at the wall or play? Hm… easy answer.

I will give updates as to how this is going for our family. I will say that we do still have a TV in our bedroom (Stephen and mine), but they have no way to watch it without our phones, which they also don’t have. I’m not opposed to the occasional treat or a rainy day movie. Unrealistic expectations really aren’t my thing.

Giving the TV a vacation wasn’t something I thought I would ever do, but I am enjoying it a lot. It was a spontaneous decision, and I was seen as a bad person for awhile. My prayer is that my kids will realize that media is a treat and not a meal and use it accordingly. And really myself as well. Who couldn’t benefit from a screen free summer?

 

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