3 short weeks until he is here...

a month ago...

      I sit here in my raggedy brown arm chair, knowing I don't have very long before the leg cramps kick in and I have to get up and stretch. There are only 3 short weeks until his arrival. Around me, the boys are throwing heavy quilts at each other, flirting with the line between play and violence. Their energy drains me even more than I already am after a day of chasing and cleaning and comforting and cooking. 
     Baby J has claimed so much space in front that kids can no longer read there, my laptop is no longer a "lap"top, and I find myself wondering just how my abdomen can get any bigger. I am groans and deep breaths and winces, and defeated referee between inner martial artist and bruised organs. There are long days and longer nights, my body gearing up for the newborn needs and demands. 
     The house has been purged and cleaned and rearranged, as if bringing him home to sparkle and shine will somehow convince him to sleep and sleep and approve of his new family and the 3 brothers who surely will not make this growing up thing very easy. Even with him being number 4 in 4 years, the nerves and the exhaustion grab me by surprise. The first pregnancy was the easiest, because I had no one to chase, no one to tickle and clean up after. I could nap and sit and fret over things that weren't truly fret-worthy. With each pregnancy, the demand has gotten greater, and it's true the joy has too, but the exhaustion is deep, soul deep, heart and mind whispering for silence and space and please just a little more time. 
      The fears creep in some days...can I really do this? Can I take care of 4 boys, 4-3-2-and-0, and do it well, not just survive but thrive? Can I keep my sanity about me, or what's left of it anyways, enough to juggle cleanliness and health and love and peace? How do I go out in public, already finding it hard to handle the stares with just 3 so close, big belly evidence of even more hard to come? All the "wow, you are one busy mama" and "busy busy," the B-word I've been called more times in the last few years than any other name, and I've been called them all. 
     And I try to smile, I want to explain, over the loud screams of boys tired and frustrated with their brothers and the world, "maybe...but even more, can you imagine how blessed I am? Blessed to be able to conceive so easily, to be able to bare children so uneventfully, no miscarriages, no still-births, I am overwhelmingly and undeservedly blessed. And busy is relative. When you have 3 so close, you are forced to learn to slow down and take your time and give in and give up where you held on so tightly before." 
      However much busier this baby will make us, it will make us even more blessed. These 3 boys with their unique to them laughs and their eyes so much like mine, their personalities growing stronger every day, I wonder at the miracle that it's even possible for another boy to be added to this beauty. It will be hard...I'm trying to prepare my mind for that incredible truth. But it's already more than I can handle. I trade yokes with Love and He restores the places devastated by weariness and anxiety and stress. I sit long at His feet and just breathe in His presence, and it fortifies this weak heart to face the gigantic mountain of motherhood. 
      I can do this. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control, and I repeat that every single day. I whisper, "lead me to the Rock that is higher than I," and "Love is patient love is kind love is patient love is kind." These words are not only my bread for the day, but my coffee and chocolate and wine too, my heart and body finding strength and satisfaction and joy in them. 
      I'm ready for you Baby J. Mama's ready. 


Confessions of a life unplugged

     Mac n Cheese boils and burbles on the stove. The steams rises and condenses on the microwave above, warping the plastic, and I wonder why someone would put a microwave up above a hot steaming stove. The broccoli will soon start to steam, and the hot dogs will be last. The new FM radio newely purchased at a thrift store crackles from the living room. Country tunes, the only station lacking just enough fuzzy static to be able to understand the twangy words, blares. Independence Day, a tune I love to sing on solo road trips, racing down the Interstate and no one able to hear my off-pitch notes but myself, and I don't care. The boys are playing with balloons and trucks and the slide, every now and then squealing with short-lived emergencies they are learning not to come to me 
with, because they know, "if I'm not bleeding or dying, it's not that bad." 
    Lately I've been remembering. The memories are coming with a clarity I had long since forgotten. Partly because of the hectic, all-consuming busyness of my life, partly because when my mind was immersed for hours a day in that online world, parts of it were hidden away from the buzz and glare of the screen. Now that the internet is no longer a daily part of my life, the memories have been coming as peasants to the King's court...humble, shy, quiet, waiting to be acknowledged and honored. 
     I am here, in the hotel we live in for now, standing outside the battered and bruised bathroom door. My mom is inside, has been for hours, soaking and fleeing from what, I don't understand. She does this a lot, taking refuge in the quiet bathroom, the scalding water, the oasis of a room locked, the ability to empty the bottles with no one watching. Escaping from the daily hardships, the voices from the past, the questions of the future. 
     I hand the boys plates, forks, and cups to set the table with. Jericho, not yet two, beams with pride as he carries the forks into the dining room and walks around the table, reaching up one at each plate. As we sit down and I pass out the food, I quietly say "My mom loved these chips." Trevor came home with the surprise of the Cheesy Sunchips, and it's fitting, because the radio already played My Maria today, and she's been on my mind more since her birthday last weekend. She escaped into a world that numbed and blurred the edges of a painful life. No doubt, memories of her own past haunted, especially around her birthday. I remember one year on that day, she stayed in bed, crying, and Dan took us all to the Dollar Store to pick out anything we wanted for her. She smiled through the tears and stayed in the darkened room. I sometimes wonder how life would have been different had there been something akin to Facebook back then...would the isolation and darkness not of been so consuming? Would people have realized she was struggling and reached out?
     I'm not even sure how long I've been without Internet now...but instead of getting easier, it's getting harder. I think it was when I realized, Ok, all those people I 'talked' to via Facebook, that wasn't friendship. Friendship, friendship that truly matters and adds value to your life, happens outside of the computer, face to face and eye to eye. Heart to heart. Where I have to reach out and ask how someone is doing and what their life is about, and not just have it suffice to see their status updates and let them know I'm thinking of them by "liking" their stuff. I have come to realize Facebook was good at keeping up with acquaintances, but cheapened the real friendships I was trying to cultivate. And living in an age where 99.9% of people I know are on Facebook, I feel like now, me being internet free, true friendship is an uphill battle. I can't just post a status and feel that warm fuzzy feeling of being noticed and appreciated at the drop of a hat- I have to realize a majority of those people are not going to randomly text or call me just because they miss me. I have to actually pick up the phone and use it to connect to one single person now.  
     I've found myself truly isolated most days, but the days I get to see those few ladies I am choosing to invest in, those are the ones that carry me through. They carry me through the days I don't talk to anyone but my husband and kids. This is a way of life I am slowly coming to love; disconnected from the media hype and the peeking in at people's random thoughts and arguments. Connecting myself to the new church we are attending and stepping out and investing in the people we live by. Having awkward conversations with people, because frankly, I really suck at conversation face to face. And now that I am forced to have more of those kinds of human interactions, I realize how hard this real life human connection thing is going to be. Hard but, yep, you guessed it, worth it. 
     This is purely my own experience, and one I am realizing is unique to each person and their relationship with the internet. I've had so many people hear what I'm doing and say, "Wow, that is awesome. I wish I could that..." I said that as well, and have days I still say I'm not sure I can do this. 
     But when it comes down to it, the thought of getting the internet back scares me. I have tasted what life is like without it, and cannot imagine voluntarily choosing to let my life become what it was before. I wish I was like so many who can control their time online, but I just can't. And if that means that I personally, an introvert and incredibly shy woman at heart, have to let go of the excuse that Facebook and internet is my only way of connecting with people outside of my house, I realize it's time to stop making excuses and start letting people in and letting myself out. Not hiding behind a screen and a persona that really is nothing like how I am face to face. Being content with a quiet(er) life, a life of few but golden friends. 
     And the once a week ability to sign back on, see pictures of my nieces and nephews, at least the ones that weren't sent to me during the week ;) and catch up on acquaintances that I still love and cherish but don't really need to know what they are doing on a daily basis- this works for me
     The static-filled FM radio and the antenna bringing in news and PBS kids- these are my only lifelines to the bigger outside world. It is not easy, this life we have chosen, this life God has been faithful to stick with us through. But it works for us because we have realized that the internet, while making it amazingly easy to connect to and see loved ones and friends, has made it all too easy for us to become lazy in reaching out and truly allowing us to connect with those we love. I remember days when grandparents called every birthday and Sunday, and 7 page letters were written and 2 hour long phone calls were randomly made between friends just to see how they were doing, and only a few people knew the daily, sacred happenings of a life lived. I miss those days. And it makes me sad that generations might miss out on the thrill of hearing the voices of those they love and holding their hands and looking in their eyes, in exchange for a "like" and a text. 
     There is nothing like telling a friend face to face what you did yesterday, and seeing in their eyes that they actually care, that they want to know, even if they are the only one who knows in the whole world. 12 likes, 45 likes, 6 comments....nothing, nothing compares to that.


Those crazy Thielkes

I've seen the look on people's faces. It started when we got engaged while Trevor was still in high school, with plans to marry right after he graduated. 

Then the look came when we decided to accept the position as Youth Pastors- 1 week after getting married. That uprooted us from our small town, and took us up here to Sioux Falls. 

I heard it in voices when we announced our pregnancy- a mere 3 1/2 months after we got married. 100% Planned. Expectant. 

And again...when Miah was 4 months old and we announced Judah was on his way, due 1 month after Miah turned 1. And not surprisingly when we announced Jericho and then baby #4....

We're no strangers to people's looks. Or their opinions about our choices. Everyone is free to their own opinions. Some are more outspoken about those opinions, and I respect that. It's just made me more resolute in standing my ground when I make a decision in life. Not everyone is going to understand your life decisions, because not everyone is the same, no one has had the same background. Not everyone has the same views on everything. That's just a duh. 

I'm super young. I realize that. I'm only 25 with 3 kids and 1 on the way. Trevor's even younger. Every time he starts a new position for work, people FREAK out when he reveals his age, usually a few months after they've known him. They guess late 20's, some even early 30's. He's got to be, with his family the size it is! They literally gasp when he says 23-24. He loves it. 

I L-O-V-E our life. I wouldn't trade it for anyone's. Absolutely none. My boys adore one another, and all 3 play so well together. They are smart, they all sleep through the night, and take 2 hour naps during the day. They call me beautiful and pick me flowers. They smile at me randomly and my mommy heart melts into a big soppy puddle on the dirty floor. If I were to recount all the ways I am blessed, it wouldn't be able to be contained in this blog.  It's bliss. 

That isn't to say I don't have my days where I weep into Trevor's arms, asking him why the heck he impregnated me AGAIN and to stay away from me or he will suffer more bodily hard than I have the past 4 pregnancies. Or when all 3 toddlers are screaming and wanting to be held and baby #4 is kicking my ovaries black and blue and I can't breathe and Trevor is late home from work and supper consists of cereal and apples.....and I just want to get the vacuum and pretend I'm cleaning because that's really the only time the kids leave me alone.

So here we are, on the verge of crazy again. Just a week ago I was playing with the idea of getting a smart phone. My sister is a phone saleslady and is really good at her job. I had a whole list of reasons why I should and why I need. Trevor was open to the idea. I was ecstatic. I searched for all the cute iPhone cases and accessories. I was on Pinterest for a whole nap time looking it all up. 

Then that feeling started creeping into my heart. I could hate that feeling if I didn't trust it so dang much. It's the same feeling I got vacuuming the floor at Runza, my first high school job. I just knew I had to break up with my boyfriend. I had that feeling. And I argued with God for 30 minutes straight while cleaning up hard french fries and straw wrappers. But God! I've been in love with him for so long! My poor 15 year old heart. But I just knew- I couldn't live with that feeling. 

I get feelings about things other people don't. Other people get feelings about things I don't. I can listen to I'm Sexy and I Know It and other songs as such, and be just fine. But a smart phone? Feeeeeeeling. 

Ok, so I knew a smart phone wasn't the wisest idea for my family, especially since I am about to have 4 boys to focus on and rear. I know myself. I have to have Trevor take the internet cord with him to work some days so I don't sit on my rear and waste my whole day waiting for you people to post some incredibly important tib-bit about your day on Facebook. 

So then I got to thinking....why not just give up internet as a whole? My word for this year is brave, and that would certainly be masochistic brave. I would be able to actually clean my house without seeing all the pictures of perfectly decorated and cleanly homes on Pinterest that make me so discontent with my apartment. Or that make me crazy that I can't even do 1 load of laundry a day, 1 craft a day, and 1 fabulously cooked meal a day. (I love Pinterest. I just need a break from all the perfection that is not real life.)

So I went from begging Trevor for a smart phone (he makes all final decisions in our home) to suggesting we both get dumb phones and cut internet completely. 

Then he said he was playing with the idea of getting a second job. 

*cue the look* I know I gave him the look. 

We have our reasons. Good ones, to us. We know the costs. Sometimes not until afterwards. He had a second job last summer and it was hell for 3 months. Every hard decision we've made in the past has grown us in some way or form. Whether that's experience to know to never do that again, or the wisdom knowing that sometimes you just can't get where you want to go without doing the really hard things. And hard things are sometimes good things in disguise. 

So we're getting rid of internet, Trevor is getting a second job for 2 days a week for the next 2 1/2 months, and we're trusting God for provision. Not monetary provision (well, we always trust Him on that!) but provision for strength, endurance, grace when things get ugly, and JOY to carry us through the storms. Even when things aren't crazy we need all of those things. But for sure- now! 

It's worth it, I tell ya. When I'm at the feet of Jesus, weeping, begging for strength to just get through 1 more hour, and I feel peace and have sudden inspiration to turn on some music and dance with my babies. Or when the peace doesn't come and I just feel His arms around me, knowing his presence makes all the difference. It's so worth it. When I look at Trevor, that man I fell in love with when he was 15 years old, and I smile at how far we've come, where we're going, and I have to pinch myself so I know I'm not dreaming. This is real life. In all it's messiness and hard choices and fear and blind faith. 

I'm living brave in 2014, and that looks differently for me than it would for you, maybe. I'm not excited about no internet and getting through 3 months of Trevor being gone for 2 nights a week. I don't look forward to the suffering and relish the pain. That would be sick. But I trust that on the other side of that, is joy and peace unequal to that I have in this moment.

Be blessed, friends. Be brave! 


I had a dream that changed my life.

I had a dream a few nights ago that changed my life. It was one of those that woke you up wide-eyed and heart racing fast, me nudging my husband and whispering in the dark, "Honey...I had a bad dream..." And you didn't realize till the words are spoken and the tears come just how devastating it really was. 

It was present day and I had cancer. I was expected to die right after the birth of the baby I'm carrying now. It was a girl in my dream, and I was so consumed with worry that she wouldn't be breast fed, that I arranged for my friend to nurse her after she was born. 

After I had died, I started coming back and visiting. It had always been 5 or 10 years between each visit, and each time I showed up while Trevor was alone, working on his truck. We would sit there, talking, me asking about life since I had been gone. 

"It was so hard, making sure the baby got to your friend. I was grieving you and had to take her to your friend so often. It was terrible. Don't you like Heaven?" Trevor asked me the first time I came back. He was shocked and shaken that I was there. "What's it like?" I smiled, feeling the smile straight to my soul. "I do. It's wonderful. But.... I miss you guys."

"Did you remarry?" I gently asked him the second time I came back, seeking joy and peace in his eyes. His eyes were tired, and he looked away and said, "I did. But she left me for someone else a long time ago." He was older. He was a single dad to 4 kids, had done all the baby and toddler and adolescent years by himself. The mark was evident and deep.

The next time I came and I was outside a mall where all 4 of my children were adults and inside shopping with Trevor. I walked in, and there they all were. Grown up, so real, and all at once the past 25 years of what my death had done to them hit me like a truck. One had drawn inward and stopped talking, one was angry and mean. 

I introduced myself to them...and they just stood there, staring at me, eyes daggers, accusing and cold.

Then I flashed to another time, one I just knew was even later and they would have forgiven me, where I would be able to joyfully see how their families turned out. I was at the front door and Trevor was unloading his truck. It didn't register then, in the dream, how young he looked. I flung open the door and raced inside, eager to see my grown up babies...

The scene before me was devastating. It was Miah's 7th birthday party, and he was sitting in his bedroom, hugging his knees, sobbing and yelling at the empty room, "Mommy! Why aren't you here!? It's my birthday!" His brothers and Trevor avoided him and he was left all alone in his little boy pain. Slowly the picture faded as if I was being pulled back into a tunnel of darkness...

My heart still hurts remembering, and I've often come to God asking Him what I am to learn from this, for I know I have to take something away. At first it made me hug my babies all day as my tears fell on their baby hair. I just couldn't face the possibility that one day I could die. 

What we do as Mommies, even the tiny moments, has greater impact than we realize. Every single hug, every single gentle spoken word. Every "I'm sorry," every, "I forgive you." Every moment you are present with your child you are building on the foundation of their future. Your presence alone is everything.

I have so many Motherhood books sitting beside me right now, I should be the best Mom in the universe a year from now, right? Book smarts and an incredible amount of knowledge don't make you a surgeon. Being able to get in there and fix and repair and build up and heal- that makes you a surgeon. Of course you need the knowledge. But it's in the trenches you become what you are.

Same thing with Motherhood. I could read all those books, cover to cover, agree with everything in them, and not have it affect my heart and Mothering. Not put it into practice and let it change me. Sit at my computer and escape from reality, or sit them in front of the TV all day, or not take the time to teach them, instead of just disciplining them. 

So I guess that's what I'm taking away from the dream. If I die tomorrow, it will be with the peace that I've tried to point them to Jesus, that He alone can sustain them in a broken and fallen world, and that if I do die, He will take care of them. Perfectly. Abundantly. It's not easy coming face to face with the reality of your own death. But it was a dream, and dreams sometimes have a way of making you fear things that don't exist, paralyzing you in the present, so that you can't act. But this dream is filling my sails with fresh air, making me realize how much I can't control, how much God cares for my family, and that I can parent right now in such a way that shows them Jesus and His grace for their lives. 

My main focus for 2014 is to become a better mommy and wife, and it looks like God is showing up in big ways already. I'm so excited to see what lessons are to come! If you would like a list of the books I'm reading this year, please email me! 


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Thielke Family! May your day be blessed with the presence of the God who came to dwell among us, forever making a way back into His arms!