I feel like the slow, leisurely summer I had was probably a God-send. August has been a real roller coaster.
First came my 30th birthday, on August 1. There was a long, lovely weekend of shopping, good food, and cake. Among my favorite gifts was a mini shopping spree at Bath and Body Works (thanks, Mom!). I haven’t had bubble baths and yummy-smelling lotion for ages. Michael has had to work weekends lately and didn’t have much time to shop for me, so I made it easy on him and took all three kids by myself at nine-months-pregnant to DSW and picked out a gorgeous new pair of kicks. #NewBalanceFanGirl
I remember wondering where I’d be when I hit the Big 3-0. Well, here I am. I’m a stay-at-home-mom. I’m a homeowner. I’m a blogger and podcaster (albeit taking a bit of a break from the latter). I’ve been married for eight years to my summer camp sweetheart. I have four children (what?!). I’m about to start homeschooling (never saw that one coming). I’m living back in the town where I grew up. I’m surrounded by an incredible community of family and friends. I need God and trust God and love God more than ever.
Just a few days after my birthday came this precious angel (a week early) on August 6.
Roman Anthony Franco was born a strapping, plump, perfect eight pounds after a whirlwind four-hour labor. I’m not a blog-about-my-birth-story kind of girl, but I’ll say that I’m still praising God for the wonderful nurses who cared for me, for my sister’s mother-in-law who drove over in the middle of the night to stay with the older kids, and especially for epidurals. 🙂
Michael and I celebrated our 8th anniversary on August 8 by bringing home our fourth child from the hospital. Michael managed to grab some roses from the grocery store at some point that morning, but that was the extent of our romantic efforts for the day. And you know what? We really and truly didn’t mind at all. Our beautiful new son was so obviously the fullest kind of gift we could have given or received that day. We did, however, splurge and treat ourselves to Mochasippis on the way home.:)
In honor of this terribly beautiful, terribly difficult, and terribly important vocation of mine, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes on marriage:
Together we are in love with God. God has for his purposes drawn us together so that we might find our salvation in each other’s presence, and that together we might fulfill a common mission.” -Fr. Robert Barron
We had a wonderful first week settling in at home as a family with the new baby. The three big kids loved their little brother immediately, and all three have quickly became pros at finding pacifiers, fetching blankets, throwing away dirty diapers, and holding the baby for me. Things weren’t picture perfect that week. Once we got home from the hospital, there were still children to feed, fights to referee, decisions to make, bills to pay, and laundry to do–so much laundry. Bringing home baby number four was a hit-the-ground-running kind of thing. But it hasn’t been an earth-shattering thing–not like it was for me when I brought home my first and second babies.:) Maybe it’s because the older children aren’t babies themselves this time.
Ah…there has been so much joy this month. And then the Great Flood of 2016 pulled the rug out from under us here in south Louisiana.
First of all, despite being near the epicenter of all the flooding, my house did not flood. Michael and I humbly praise God for that blessing.
The national media has not covered the flooding in Louisiana like it should have. Basically, we got a lot of rain in a short amount of time. About 6.9 trillion gallons of rain fell in the state between August 8th and 14th. That’s enough to fill more than 10.4 million Olympic-size swimming pools. All of that rain drained into our rivers, which became so full that all of the tributaries, canals, and ditches from populated areas that drain into them began to back flow with all of the water. More than 40,000 homes flooded. More than 100,000 people are displaced right now. And 20,000 people–people living even just five minutes from my house–have had to be rescued by boat. Thank God for the #CajunNavy (if you haven’t heard of them, ya’ll make sure to check out that link!).
Last Friday seemed like just a really, really rainy day. It took until Saturday evening for us to realize the severity of the situation. We slept very little on Saturday night. Michael and I pored through Facebook reports of rising floodwaters and called friends and family to see what was going on in their areas of town. Michael drove out twice during the night to make sure flood waters weren’t blocking exits from our neighborhood. On Sunday afternoon, we ended up evacuating to my parents’ house across town when we lost our electricity. Floodwaters reached the end of our street, about twelve houses down.
The extent of the flood devastation in our area over the past week has been heartbreaking and truly mind-blowing. But this disaster has also been inspiring: it has brought out the best in so many people. My Facebook feed is full of an incredible outpouring of support for my state and my community. Things like our heroic “Cajun Navy,” area businesses donating free food and supplies, people volunteering to gut ruined houses side-by-side with strangers, and truckloads of supplies driving in from cities, companies and churches all over the country. Michael spent hours on Saturday and Sunday helping a friend whose beautiful home flooded. He also borrowed a four-wheeler to go rescue a woman with a newborn in a nearby neighborhood who was staying in a stranger’s home, waiting to be rescued and taken to higher ground. It has been frustrating for me to not be able to do much to help all of those affected around me except to pray. I’ve brought two meals to families working on gutting their homes, but being home with a two-week-old and three other children under seven means I can’t spend all day ripping out sheetrock at someone’s house or volunteering at a shelter. And yet…St. Josemaria reminds us that prayer is always fruitful, even when it seems barren. I have clung to that truth.
If you’ve been following the news about the flooding here in Louisiana, please pray with me for the many, many people who have lost everything. And if you’ve been praying, thank you! I see God bringing so many graces and good things out of this disaster already. But that’s a whole ‘nuther post.
During the remaining few weeks of this crazy month, I’ll be finishing up preparations for starting our homeschool year after Labor Day. I finished ordering some last-minute supplies this afternoon. I’ve already organized my book and supply closet. Gabriel and Faith are starting a fall semester of piano lessons next week, and Faith has already started taking a little dance class. Gabriel will also be starting Cub Scouts in a few weeks (with his daddy as his den leader:). It was incredibly difficult earlier this year to make the decision to try homeschooling for this next school year. We loved our son’s school. As I tell every incredulous friend and family member and curious stranger who asks what we do for school, though, we are all just doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing. Homeschooling was Michael and I’s discernment for the children’s education for this next year, and we’re going to see how it goes.
I’m letting the Lord lead on when to ramp up my blog and podcast again. I still have many prerecorded podcasts to edit and publish. I recorded just about every week for several months this spring back when I was preparing to start a weekly radio show, and I feel terrible that I haven’t yet released the podcasts I did with so many amazing guests who gave fantastic interviews months ago. The thing is, it takes me several hours to produce each episode–not including the interview prep and the actual recording itself. I did not realize how labor-intensive podcasting would be for me when I got started! (Where’s a volunteer podcast editor/producer when you need one?!)
Oh well. As St. Jane Frances de Chantal said, “Do what the Lord is asking of you in this moment, and leave the thought of all the rest to Him.” I have taken care of myself and my family over these past few months, and I do not regret it. I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing. And I trust that God will give me the time and energy to spend more time writing in His time if that’s His will for me.
P.S. Here’s one more peek into life with four kids these past two weeks. Behold: this is what the baby’s naptime looks and sounds like. Roman’s short life couldn’t be more different than life was for his big brother, who was Baby #1! Note the infant sleeping (quite soundly) in a brightly-lit living room, with everyone going about their business playing Legos, wrestling, and at least one person pouting about something. Classic slice-of-life moment at my house, ya’ll. 🙂