The Bell Family

Random ponderings on God, life, and the humor all around us

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Praise Factory

Several months ago, Bill used a curriculum called Praise Factory with our children.  I used this curriculum when I was the children’s director at our previous church, but they began offering the program and all resources for free a while back.  It was written by Connie Dever (Mark Dever’s wife) and is basically systematic theology for kids of all ages.  It’s a bit confusing to navigate through at first, but you eventually get the hang of it.  The program is set up to be used with a classroom of children, but we have modified it to be used during our family worship time.  We only did it a few nights a week.  The first night Bill told the story of the week (an OT, NT, and more “modern” story for each Big Idea), the next time he would reinforce the story, usually with drama but sometimes with a craft, game idea, or snack.  We would usually learn part of the scripture memory song and use the VIPP (very important prayer person) suggestions to teach our children how to pray for our church leaders.  It would be a lot of work to try to do everything she suggests each week for your personal family, so if you go this route I would encourage you to only pick 2-3 ideas for your family. 

One more thing, the music is seriously cheesy sounding to Bill and me.  Honestly we hate it (good grief we can be judgemental when it comes to music!), so two things have happened.  Either Bill has rewritten the music so it sounds more appealing, or we realize that the only ones who don’t prefer it are us, the parents.  The kids don’t care and rock it out to anything.  It’s still a great way to hide the word in their hearts.  🙂



Thankful Even for a Miscarriage

Note:  I wrote this post before we found out we were expecting the little one now growing inside me.  I am now 18 weeks along, and this baby is still healthy and thriving.  The post following is referring to the child we lost last summer:

When God in His perfect plan chose not to let us meet one of our babies on this earth, I expected the grief.  What I didn’t expect was for that to turn into such a sweet season.  I have gotten to experience the joy through trials spoken of in James.  I pray this is not misunderstood, but I find myself thankful for this miscarriage.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I have definitely grieved and am still grieving from time to time.  In the short amount of time between the positive pregnancy test and the miscarriage, I had already day-dreamed about this child.  Would it be another girl or would the trend be broken?  Will he/she ever get tired of the comments about being one of (at least) five kids, or will he respond with grace?  Will she be playful like me or more of a deep thinker like the two guys in my life?  Will he continue the pattern of looking like his siblings, or will he throw a complete curve ball and have bright orange or black hair?  Will she love Jesus?  We had even already talked about what his name would be.

I have a precious friend who, several years ago, went through a super difficult trial.  She lost her sweet little baby boy when he was only 7 weeks old.  On one of my posts she made this comment: “Much of our grief over losing a child has to do with grieving what we no longer have and will not have. It has more to do with grieving the future than it does grieving the past.”  This has been true for me.  I am sad that I won’t get to find out answers to my questions or hold this teeny one.

Though there is grief over experiences I’ll never have, there is not despair.  There is joy.  God works all things together for good for those who love Him.  Many times we don’t get to see on this earth what the good was that was worked for His will, but God in His beautiful mercy has already revealed some of it to Bill and me in this event.  We have experienced at least two big things that have already increased my faith.

One, we have had rich conversations with our children that wouldn’t have happened if not for this experience.  One of our children in particular, Liam, went through a difficult grieving period.  In conversations, we got to answer his difficult question of how a good God can take this baby.  We got to explain how this was not a “bad choice” (Liam’s words) but sweet mercy.  This baby will never experience pain, sadness, suffering, anger, but will instead only know God always.  When I asked if that was a mean God who did that, I had the joy of watching understanding come over Liam’s face that God is GOOD.  When he began weeping and said, “I just wanted to meet the baby.  Will I ever meet him?”  I got to share once again that if he follows Jesus, believing that He died and was raised for his sins, that yes, he would meet the baby, and even better, would see God face to face.  God ordained those conversations, and I am certain part of the reason for the miscarriage was to open those doors of communication and reveal a bit more of Himself to Liam.

Two, we have a deeper understanding of how big God is and how He truly is in control.  Almost every miscarriage happens because things don’t come together like they were supposed to.  The truth is, it doesn’t make any sense that things ever come together perfectly.  Do you have any idea how many things have to work “just right” to have a term pregnancy!?  It’s basically impossible for it to ever happen, yet I have delivered four beautiful babies.  Most of my friends who have tried to have children have been successful at least once.  How?  God is in control of our bodies and the bodies of the babies in us.  The decision to bring a child into this world is not our decision but His, and He is the only one powerful enough to make it happen.  Shortly after we met with Heather the day the miscarriage was confirmed, Bill looked at our four children and said, “I am more thankful for you now than I have ever been.”  God has been amazingly good to us, and I have grown in understanding how quickly I take fertility (and God) for granted.  I have a refreshing peace in this reminder that God is sovereign and once again look forward with anticipation to see God continue to reveal Himself to us.

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Bill’s Threats

I love my husband so much, and one thing that makes me love him more deeply is watching him be an amazing father.  Seriously.  Really, really amazing.  He is diligent in showing our children Jesus, in correcting them when needed, in blessing them with little gifts, in playing hard with them, in spending individual time with each of them, and in being downright silly.  One way Bill can make me laugh hard is when he “threatens” the kids.  This is never for those times our kids need heart corrections.  Those times don’t get threats but actions.  There are times, however, for fun.  These kind of phrases will come from Bill’s mouth, for instance, when the kids work together for a sneak tickle attack on Daddy.

“I’m putting the ‘kid for sale’ sign out.  I’m telling you, you used to have two older brothers.”

“I’m putting you out in the back yard so you can learn to live off the land on your own.”

“I’m going to throw you in the trash can.”

“You will be hung upside down by your toenails.”


Just Like Daddy

Bill has a certain pose that is just, well, the “Bill pose,” kind of his relaxed stance.  I watched Liam one day work carefully to get himself in this position, from leaning against the wall to crossing his arms, all the way down to one leg behind the other.  They really do pay attention.


The Natural Birth

Since Esther’s birth last February, I have had several people ask me what it was like to “go natural.”  One friend recently shared with me that I will often talk about what a wonderful experience it was but haven’t ever gone into detail about it with her.  I was convicted today that I have not given God enough glory for the experience I had.  So here goes–and when I say details, I don’t mean those kind of details. 😉

Little background first.  Liam was my first delivery.  I labored naturally for 12 hours or so, got an epidural, and had a fairly uncomplicated birth.  I loved being able to just chill while I was laboring, so I didn’t really think about going natural with Ariana at all.  Ariana’s birth began with severe contractions 1 1/2 minutes apart.  Yep, that’s how they began.  We went to the hospital as quickly as we could, and I asked for an epidural almost immediately.  After it was in, I had a short moment of relief and began feeling slight contractions again.  When I mentioned this to the nurse, she said that was fairly normal and just to let her know if they got worse.  Two minutes or so after she left the room, I clutched Bill’s arm (did I draw blood, baby?) and while weeping said, “Something’s wrong.  Go get them.  It feels like something is ripping.”  They were back in the room in no time, and before I knew it they were yanking everything out of me, getting Bill in scrubs, and running me down the hall to the surgery room.  Ariana was born 20 minutes later by emergency c-section.  The placenta was tearing away from the uterine wall, and Ariana was being strangled by her own cord.  By God’s amazing grace (thank you, Daddy!), they got my little girl breathing after a while, and she is perfectly healthy and happy today.

Because the complications I had with Ari were rare, there was no reason not to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) with Esther; however, in order to decrease chances for another c-section or uterine rupture, I needed to go naturally.  In case you didn’t get that, I wasn’t being super woman.  I did it for safety reasons.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I knew what labor felt like, and I had experienced severe pain.  Many times I said, “No thanks.  I’ll take my chances,” and then realized my fear was a lack of faith.  I finally plunged in to the idea but had many sobbing moments with Bill when I would succumb to fear, not to mention several nightmare filled nights.  I was terrified but continued praying for a calm knowing God was in control.

Labor began one night in February, and everything went as smoothly as possible.  I had been in the hospital for about an hour when the “witching hour” began (transition moment right before you begin to push).  This is the worst bit.  I did all the things I never thought I would do during labor–screamed, rudely pushed a nurses hand off me twice, and had to bite my tongue so I didn’t bite someone’s head off for telling me what to do.  🙂  Not to be discouraging to all you who are attempting this for the first time, but it was the worst pain I have known.  During those minutes, though, something else was going on that no one knew about.  Worship.  Over and over in my head I kept repeating, “Oh God!  This pain is so much less than I deserve.  My sin is more wretched than this pain.  I don’t understand your grace!”  I was weeping and shouting half out of pain and half out of praise.  I would not have been able to dwell on those things in that situation apart from the Holy Spirit, and I am still in awe of the beautiful way God comforted me during that time.  I had never understood grace as fully as I did in that moment.  

I plan to go naturally again when it’s this baby’s time, but this time I almost long for the difficult moments.  They are a little taste of what I have been spared from and make my sweet, sweet Savior that much more glorious.

EDIT:  Bill wanted me to share that the pain got better after the witching hour, and that time didn’t last long–only 30 minutes or so.  He thought it wise to not scare anyone away from a natural birth, and he’s right.  😀  Thanks, Baby!

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Helping New Parents

We have been blessed to have many people ask us often what they can do to help us, so I have decided to post a few things that have been the most helpful for us.  Please add your own in the comments section.

  • prayer–I cannot emphasize enough how this is the greatest gift we have been given
  • offer to babysit while the couple goes out
  • do a load or two of their laundry
  • clean their house
  • provide meals, even after the first week or two
  • hang out with the mother or father–sometimes we need adult conversation and encouragement
  • send emails or cards to let them know you’re thinking about them
  • offer to come over to watch the kids while the mother or father take a nap
  • run errands (bank, groceries, etc.)–my wonderful friend Rachel just did this for me today
  • take the kids out for a morning so the couple can have a chance to get some home repairs done
  • bring them coffee or a good book to remind them to slow down every once in a while
  • do yardwork
  • gift certificates to stores with baby supplies like diapers (or one for a nice restaurant for the couple)

I hinted at this above, but often parents are forgotten after the first couple of weeks of the new baby’s birth.  We can always use help in these areas, so even if the youngest child is 15, these random displays of love are always needed, especially prayer.


My Joys of Motherhood

Obviously, we are not posting much these days.  Maybe that will change again at some point, but blogging just doesn’t fit into our priorities right now.  We do, after all, have three children under the age of three.  Many people have asked what it’s like to have three children so close in age.  My answer is usually, “Humbling.”  As we’ve mentioned before, Bill and I pray for humility more than almost anything else, and God is still faithful to answer our prayers, but it is rarely in the way we want.  This has been yet another area He has been working, showing me I can’t do it on my own.  As an example, just before Esther was a month old, I got my cleaning supplies out for the first time since her birth.  That was as far as I got.  The rest of the day, I got to look at them longingly as they sat on the kitchen table.  For those of you who don’t know me, I love to clean, so it has been a blessing that God is slowly taking away yet another of my idols.

Besides being humbled through my children, though, the truth is I am more joyful than I have ever been.  Here are some things God has given me that I didn’t have before:

  • 3 x’s the hugs and kisses
  • 3 x’s the laughter and smiles
  • 3 x’s the reminders of God’s patience with me
  • 3 x’s the toys that make me smile as I watch my children discover (and 3 x’s the toys I get to play with)
  • 3 x’s the individual talk of God in our household
  • 3 x’s the stories I get to read
  • 3 x’s the music and dancing
  • 3 x’s the games we play
  • 3 x’s the booboo’s I get to kiss
  • 3 x’s the crying that will go away all too quickly as they grow too fast for my liking
  • 3 x’s the birthday parties 
  • 3 x’s the affection I get to see them display to each other
  • 3 x’s the amount I get to watch Bill play with them (I think he’s so hot in those times)
  • 3 x’s the amount I realize how gracious God is by giving me these little blessings I never deserved