{SQT} Seven Questions You Were Maybe Thinking of Asking

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(I wrote this post Friday morning but my blogging software wasn’t letting me upload any photos, and I know everyone loves photos, especially of my (dare I say it) ADORABLE kids. Hence the fact that I’m posting this “Seven Quick Takes Friday” post on a Tuesday!)

Here’s what I wrote on Friday…

Once again, it’s been too long since I’ve posted, and once again, I’m going to cheat and do the quickest and easiest post possible… a 7QT post! This time, I’m just going to answer a few of the questions that I think you might be thinking of asking!

Question #1: What have you guys been up to?

I am pleased to report that I am writing this post from the basement of my bestie Stephanie… in Pennsylvania! Stephanie and her family moved out here five years ago, and this is our first trip to visit them, so I’m pretty stoked. We’ve climbed a mountain, hiked [a very small portion of] the Appalachian Trail, played in a fjord, walked through a huge field of boulders, done hibachi, and drank a few glasses of fermented grape juice. It’s pretty much been my ideal vacation, minus one thing…

The whole PA gang, outside the scenic railway station in Jim Thorpe, PA
The whole PA gang, outside the scenic railway station in Jim Thorpe, PA

Question #2: Did Ray come?

I know your next question: Did Ray come???!!! Well, no, unfortunately, he couldn’t, since he’s still in neurological rehab in Michigan. I’ve struggled with this, I’m not going to lie. And I know he’s struggled with it too. I keep telling myself that I’ve been hoping to do this for years, and I always figured that I’d visit my friend Stephanie as a “girls trip plus kids” anyways. But it would have been much easier if Ray had been back home, working, hanging out with friends, playing golf, etc.

The reality is that Ray would not have enjoyed this trip. Climbing mountains, jumping around on boulders, and wading through fjords are not really in the cards for him right now. But that doesn’t take away the tinge of guilt I feel constantly, or any of the emotions I’m sure he’s experiencing, either.

Question #3: Are you crazy?

Yes, probably. I drove from visiting Ray in Grand Rapids all the way to eastern PA with five kids. The map app said it would take ten hours. It took twelve.

Question #4: Did you kill any of the kids?

Um, no. Actually, I hardly even came close. Well, there was the time when I was letting Little Man stretch his legs by “driving” the car while the older two boys helped me clean the windshield. Not realizing the consequences, one of the boys opened the driver side door while Little Man was leaning against it. Gravity took over. Mommy freaked. Little Man cried. Boy-who-opened-door cried. But once the initial scare wore off, everyone was fine.

The other time that I “hardly even came close” to killing one of the kids was when the boys were fighting over the space in the backseat. No one died, and I didn’t even end up pulling the car over, as I had threatened. Ultimately, I resorted to bribery – a remarkably effective tool. I now owe two kids five dollars, one kid four, and the least well-behaved (for this particular drive, anyways) gets to walk away keeping three of the five dollars that were originally on offer.

Question #5: So, how’s Ray doing?

A selfie of the two of us from several weeks ago, when we visited beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.
A selfie of the two of us from several weeks ago, when we visited beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.

He’s doing very well, thank you for asking. I know that being away from home is tough on him, but the reality is that the noise level and general craziness at our house when all five kids are home over the summer would have been a lot for him to handle. He’s accomplished both of the goals which he set for himself in early February – to be able to run and to swing a golf club. I’m pretty sure the “running” has been very limited and not something he should do without his physical therapist present, and he says that his golf swing needs a lot of improvement, but considering how lofty both of those goals seemed four months ago, their achievement is definitely something to be celebrated.

 Question #6: And, how are you and the kids?

We’re good. Ray’s being in Grand Rapids is a little bit like the good ol’ days,

Kids walking the Appalachian Trail in PA
Kids walking the Appalachian Trail in PA

when Daddy was on a business trip – he’s just gone a “bit” longer, and we’re traveling nearly every weekend in order to see him. The kids have enjoyed the travel, even if I’ve nearly lost my mind over it at times.

During the weeks, I’m working a lot, either promoting my book or building up my little freelance writing business in order to fill the gap left by long term disability insurance. We’re blessed to have a friend who loves the kids and watches them pro-bono, who also has kids that mine love to play with… and access to a pool. I’m also blessed to have something I’m good at and love to do (writing) that can help provide for our family.

Question #7: Isn’t God amazing?!!

Well, yes, yes, he is! It never ceases to amaze me how God provides for our needs. Just when the summer was looming ahead of us, and I knew having the kids and Ray home at the same time would be a challenge, God provided an awesome opportunity for Ray to go receive intensive therapy, in a quiet, peaceful, and scheduled environment. When long term disability threatened to cut our income significantly, God provided new clients and book revenue to fill the void. He provided a friend to watch the kids, and he’s even provided new friends in Grand Rapids to help us feel welcome and comfortable in Ray’s home-away-from-home.

What’s especially remarkable is this: If we didn’t have a cross to bear, we would be much less aware of these abundant blessings.

 

Here are some more photos. Unfortunately my crazy blogging platform is turning some of the photos around and then won’t let me fix them. Having spent WAY too much time on this, I’m posting them anyways. You’ll just have to tilt your head to the left. Ha.

Ray with Matt, our new God-given Grand Rapids friend.
Ray with Matt, our new God-given Grand Rapids friend.

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Me with my beautiful bestie. What a blessing she is!

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Mary on boulder field mailed

Mary Lise and Isaac hopping around the magnificent 13 acre boulder field
Boo and Bear hopping around the magnificent 13 acre boulder field

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Rehab, Radio Shows, and Book Signings… Oh My!

While I’d love to fill you in on all of the blessings of the past month, the kids will be awake and needing attention far too soon for me to do it all justice. Instead, I have a few urgent (but happy) things of which I ought to make everyone aware!

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t let everyone know that we have been incredibly blessed to be able to send Ray to a neurological treatment program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is something we’d been working on since January, and the approval from the insurance company finally came the very day after I wrote my “This is Not a Hot Mess Pity Party” post. Yes, God showed me that I needed to cling to Him, but – once again – he also showed me that He provides. Ray needed more attention, and I couldn’t give it to him. The battery of therapists and doctors at Hope Network can!

I would be even more remiss if I didn’t include this photo of the cuteness that just woke up
to bless me with his presence:

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And people say we shouldn’t have had five kids. Geesh. What would the world be without this sunny little guy?

One exciting bit of news is that I’ll be appearing on not one, but two, radio shows tomorrow (Thursday, June 9th). The first is at 10 a.m., with Allison Gingras of “A Seeking Heart” on Breadbox Media. I was on Allison’s show in February (you can listen to it here), and I guess you could say that I’ll be “back by popular demand!” Allison and I will be discussing the latest happenings in the Engelman family, faith-filled summer activities for kids, and God’s awesome Providence. I’ve been wanting to write a blog post on that topic – how God has provided for us so beautifully through these last six months – and, since I haven’t found the time to finish that post, I feel blessed to get to share it on radio instead! You can listen live from your computer, or via the Breadbox Media app, which is by far the most convenient way to listen to radio ever! You can also listen to the podcast at any time after the show.

The second radio show is “Faith in Action” with M.J. Krauter, a local Indianapolis show on Catholic Radio Indy. M.J. and I will be discussing A Single Bead, the story of how I came to write it, and how the foundational principle of prayer helped me through our family’s recent difficulties. You can listen to it live at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon on FM 89.1 or 90.1, depending on where you are in the Indianapolis area. Or, you can listen live via your computer here, listen to the podcast here, or via a radio app on your phone like TuneIn Radio.

Finally, I’m very excited that I’ll be a part of the author panel at the Teen Book Fest at the Barnes and Noble at Jefferson Pointe in Fort Wayne this Sun Saturday! I don’t know the times yet, but will update this post as soon as I do. I do know that I’ll be there chatting with readers and signing copies of A Single Bead, and I hope that many of my Fort Wayne friends will stop by to say “hello”!

As you can see, I’m keeping busy! All in God’s Providence… but you’ll have to listen to “A Seeking Heart” to get the full story! 🙂

UPDATE: The event at Barnes and Noble will actually take place on SATURDAY, not Sunday! I’ll be there at 3:00, giving a short talk and then answering questions and signing books. It’s a part of their Teen Book Fest, which is going on all weekend!