{Israel recap} Official introduction: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband goes on an amazing study trip to Israel)

Hello dear friends, family, and readers! I hope that you all are doing well on this lovely day.

Unfortunately, my computer screen is not behaving; fortunately, I’ve been wanting to rerun the Israel series (since it occurred before I had told most of you that I was doing this).

Starting today, I’m going to rerun all of the posts. And hopefully by then I’ll have my computer working again. If you want to see a few other related posts to the Israel trip, you may check them out here and here.

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Hello and welcome to my first series: staying home alone with four little girls (while my husband goes on an amazing study trip to Israel.) For fun, I’ve included pictures from Paul’s trip. Israel is a truly beautiful land.

Caesarea Maritima
Caesarea Maritima

This series begins on the day that he left, after working until six o’clock the previous night, spending the evening with the girls, deciding to start packing at 11:22 pm, running to Walmart at midnight, and finally going to bed… oh, about two.

I possess a strange set of emotions; most of the time they kick in way after the fact. I’m saying this because I really had no idea how I was going to react to him leaving. Would I cry? Be scared? Try to remember every detail of his face in case it was the last time I saw him? Not feel anything at all? Act tough? Act wimpy? What would the girls do?  

Two weeks before he left, I went through several days of wondering if I was going to survive. Like literally, survive. He’s gonna die; or I’m not going to make it; or something… I’m pretty sure life as I know it is over. 

Thankfully, with the next week came some hormonal straightening out and I began feeling nothing. This is cool. We’re going to be fine. It’ll be so fun to have the car (for the first time in months). 

I began to wonder if something was wrong with me for not feeling more sober or anxious about it.

Planning my grocery list and menu for the week he would be gone gave me the first feeling of true nervousness in my stomach. All right; so I am normal. And yeah, this is going to be okay, but it’s also going to be hard and sad and lonely. 

When Paul got home from work the night before he left, the sadness hit hard. That’s it. There’s nothing between him and this trip now. 

The theatre at Caesarea Maritima
The theatre at Caesarea Maritima

I loved the girls reactions to him when saying good-bye on the morning he left.

Hope began truly crying, “You’re going to be gone for such a long time!”

Sophia smiled at him excitedly, “Are you coming home for lunch?”

And what did I feel? Excitement for him. I’m sure some mental compartment noted that him going down the stairs that last time meant I would be on my own for two weeks, but all I could think about was how much he was anticipating this incredible opportunity.

So there you have it. The next post will start with our first day on our own (while Paul got stuck in airports for hours, had flights canceled, gates changed, and ate a lot of Five Guys.)

Day 14: Reunion

"I am the bread of life," was declared by Jesus here. "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Wow. This synagogue is built on the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum.
“I am the bread of life” was declared by Jesus here. “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Wow. This synagogue is built on the remains of the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum.

He’s back.

Safe, sound, and scruffy.

As he held me close and my head leaned into his big, hard familiar chest I heard him whisper, “Hi, mommy.”

His eyes lit up as he saw the girls. I thought they might scream or run to him, but they waited with huge smiles for him to walk down the “Do Not Enter” corridor and then hugged him and watched him with their ever-adoring eyes.

I teared up when I first saw him coming. He’s here; he’s really here; God brought him back safely to me!

As we went to get his bags and the car, I was so, so, so, so happy to not be the only adult in charge anymore; to have another pair of eyes to watch the girls with, to have a friend to smile at, to know that he would be with me now.

He showered us with presents. If I can get good pictures of them, I’ll share them in a couple of weeks.

Even though he was exhausted, he stayed up to talk to the girls while I made lunch. We ate together and then he went to sleep… for fifteen hours.

But I didn’t care; the backpack in the middle of the living room, the maps and books and pictures everywhere, the zonked out body in the bed, the mountain of laundry waiting to be done, the smiles on the girlies faces, all said one thing: Daddy was back.

And for now, that was enough to be completely happy.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Day 12: In other news

Day 13: Christmas shopping for Daddy, anxiety, and felt flowers

Day 13: Christmas shopping for Daddy, anxiety, and felt flowers

Bet Shan; this city is important because it illustrates the Romanization of the Jew at the time of Jesus. Seen here the "Cardo" or main street.
Beit She’an; this city is important because it illustrates the Romanization of the Jews at the time of Jesus. Seen here the “Cardo” or main street.
Remains from the earthquake at Bet Shan
Remains from the earthquake at Beit She’an
Theater at Bet Shan
Theater at Beit She’an
Viewing the old city of Beit She'an; Saul's body was hung in disgrace on this hill.
Viewing the old city of Beit She’an; Saul’s body was hung in disgrace on this hill.

It’s been awhile since I’ve really been able to buy Paul presents.

Gone are the days of being in love, single, employed, and able to buy things for the man you love. Not that I’d trade a big warm body to cuddle up to at night, no siree! But I do miss giving him special gifts.

Let’s see, last year I had this great idea to make homemade butter and other gifts to sell at our apartment office in hopes of making enough money to buy him a really great present. After covering the costs of   materials I had about sixteen dollars left which I used to buy him The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough which he really liked, but it was not the kind of present I had hoped for.

But this year would be different! I still didn’t have any money, but because he was gone I made some executive decisions about how the money given to us by family would be used. (Haha! rubbing hands together gleefully) Of course, the girls would get their presents, but they already have so much and the things they wanted weren’t going to cost that much anyways. So the girls and I discussed it, and we made a plan to go shopping for Daddy!

Bottom line: it was a blast.

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but here’s what we came away with. A laptop table from World Market, Hebrews from the New American Commentary series, a dress shirt and coordinating tie (picked out so lovingly and adorably by Hope and Sophia), and a stud finder (we are permanently and irreversibly diy/home improvement challenged). Yay for presents!

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After a great day of shopping for daddy, I noticed that I was really feeling anxious about him flying home. So much for my unshakable trust in the sovereignty of God that allowed me to not worry at all when he was flying over there.

Basically, I think that knowing he was so close to coming back just made me really want to know that nothing would keep us apart any longer. Everything had gone so well; it was nerve-wracking to think about what would transpire if there were any major calamities now, on our end or on his end. My solution? A night of crafting.

I am not a crafter whatsoever, but I had heard that felt flowers were really easy to make and I wanted to actually make something to give the girls for Christmas. After putting it off for two weeks, I decided that I might not get any sleep that night anyways, so I would do something to occupy my mind.

Unbelievably, they turned out in such a way that you could recognize them! It was tons of fun and I will hopefully do  more in the future. I confess one that was supposed to look like a rose ended up looking like a really bad outie belly button, but other than that, I was happy with them.

Now to go to sleep, and wake up, and hear that he’s in the states.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Day 12: In other news

Day 12: In other news

Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles

Since life is still clipping along at an ordinary pace and there is not much to report from the day, I thought I would talk a little bit about one of my goals for this time.

I believe it is a common theme among young mothers who claim to be followers of Christ that finding time to devote yourself to Him in prayer and Bible study can be at best elusive and often downright frustrating. I definitely have to confess that this has been a struggle for me.

I have also realized that simple devotional reading (i.e. go to a passage, read, think: what does this mean to me?) does not suffice for learning the Bible and therefore learning of Christ.

If I can copy off of my husband and some of his professors, you must determine first of all, “What does the passage mean?”, before you can ever make a conclusion regarding what it means to you.

This requires the skill of diligent Bible study.

This past semester my husband was required to read The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study by Oletta Wald. His praise for it caught my attention. “This is the best book I have ever read on teaching someone how to study the Bible!” My ears perked up; one, because he is extremely careful about how people teach/interpret the Bible and rarely speaks so well of a book; two, because I noticed the book was very short – maybe I could work through it! And finally build a foundation for how to study the Bible.

Well, in case you haven’t guessed already, one of my goals for this time alone was to begin reading and working through that book.

This book really is wonderful. I’ve actually only gotten through the first chapter and practice exercise, but it has been so helpful. It’s really teaching me how to dig through a passage, not to find something that no one has heard of before, but to understand the true meaning of the text.

In all honesty, I’m ashamed at how little I have studied the Bible, especially through these last five years of childbearing.

Is it difficult to find the time? Yes; but it’s also difficult to live day in and day out without that all-satisfying water of the Word. Believe me, I know.

Lord-willing, I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue to work through this little book. Interested in checking it out? Here’s an amazon link: The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Caves in Arbel
Inside the caves in Arbel
Caves in Arbel
Caves in Arbel
Rock climbing up Arbel; I want to do this!
Rock climbing up Arbel; I want to do this!

A few things have surprised me during this time of taking care of the girls alone. First that it’s been… relatively easy. At least a lot easier than I thought. Second, that Gracie seems to be missing Paul the most out of all the girls. Lastly, I’m beginning to be exhausted. The thought of that possibility never occurred to me.

Apparently there’s been a physical and emotional drain that I haven’t noticed because everything seemed to be so normal. I thought I was doing well going to bed and resting all night. But it’s not good for woman to be alone; or least this woman.

Come to think of it, this is how I felt the first week Paul returned to work and seminary after the summer. I had gotten so used to him being around, to sharing the load of work, and (most importantly for me) to feeling the emotional support of not being alone, that back-to-schooltime was a shock.

Again, I cannot help but think of single moms or parents who do this every day, all year.

Our pace is definitely slowing down during the day because of me, but we’re still trying to keep up the “fun.” So far it’s working minus Gracie being a little off.

Counting the days ’til he gets home? Not yet; I don’t think I could stand it.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 10: the weakest link

A view of Arbel from the Sea of Galilee
A view of Arbel from the Sea of Galilee
Like place for the setting of John 21
Likely place for the setting of John 21
Tour boat on the Sea of Galilee
Tour boat on the Sea of Galilee
IMG_1407
Driving to Arbel

I wondered who would be most affected by Paul’s absence for two weeks.

Hope? Who’s connection to Paul still surpasses the other girls.

Sophia? Our emotionally fragile, oh-so-sympathetic roller coaster.

Gracie? Recovering Mama’s girl.

Mckayla? Happy as long as she has her food, her mama, and a chance to run around the house and play.

I must say the answered surprised me.

Ever since Saturday night, Gracie has been asking for Paul. Not whining, not crying, just asking, “Where’s Daddy?”

She doesn’t know where Israel is. She doesn’t understand a study trip. She just knows Daddy’s not at the dinner table. And she’s getting tired of it!

I’ve noticed a change in her behavior. Like I said, asking for Paul; also becoming super clingy to me. How many times can one girl come in the kitchen and ask me to hold her? So far there haven’t been any meltdowns, but we still have several days to go.

Hang in there, Gracie; Daddy will be home soon.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Inside the main gate of Caesarea Maritima, built during the crusader era
Inside the main gate of Caesarea Maritima, built during the crusader era

There I was, Sunday afternoon, with a decision to make.

Eat with friends? or eat by ourselves?

Sounds simple, but for me it’s not.

The afternoon before I had texted my friend E to see if she had plans for after church. Her text back was not what I was looking for: D is actually off work tomorrow and we’re eating with N and K since we haven’t seen them since before Thanksgiving, but you’re welcome to come!

Not a fan of being the third wheel. Especially when said third wheel is a mom with four kids eating with two other couples and only one of them have a (singular)  sweet little baby.

All right, being honest here; I had agonized about it all Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. I didn’t want to go; but, I did. They were my friends. Not just my acquaintances, my friends. But without Paul, I’m all kinds of shy. The excuses my mind came up with were numerous: they could go somewhere more fun or closer to where they live if we didn’t go, maybe the girls would be misbehaved or I’d spend the whole time taking them to the bathroom and leaving the others at the table, and on and on.

It really was ridiculous.

But now I was walking down the nursery hallway from picking up the girls and they were all waiting for me. How could such a small, simple decision make an adult woman want to melt into the ground?

I went with them.

And I was super glad I did.

The girls were so good; and it felt so good to just be the person that needed some encouragement and support  and to be okay with that.

Goodbye ever-lurking independence. Goodbye odious voice of insecurity. Goodbye you nasty monster pride. All of you, I will see again; but for today you were defeated.

Hello to the other side of friendship. Hello to being okay with the fact that you have four kids and your life doesn’t quite look like everyone else’s. Hello to letting others be there for you.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer