Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Avery (a letter to my girl)....

Do not be afraid.

There are no monsters under your bed (your bed frame actually has no "under", but that's not the point), there are no monsters in your room, or in our house.

Nothing is coming to get you, I promise.

Mama and Daddy are here and you are safe.

And you have God watching over you always.

So please don't cry.

Please don't wake in the night in a panic, your scared cries scare us, and hurt our hearts.

Please rest easily. You are four years old and should have no worries or cares.

Your life is simple and you have nothing to fear or fret over.

We all get scared, but we're fortunate to have our faith, and our God, who protects and loves beyond measure and comprehension. God knows his plans for you and has known them before you were even conceived. He is in charge, and He loves you, so please, do not be afraid. I'd do anything to calm your fears and remove that worried look from your precious baby face.

Isaiah 41:10
10 Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

There is no need to fear.

But how do you make a four year old grasp that concept? The world is a scary place sometimes. Every bump in the night, every regular "house noise", can be quite concerning. And even benign things like characters in books can manifest in dreams as something spooky and frightening. And children as young as Avery, they don't necessarily grasp the concept of God that well. They're learning, they're wrapping their minds around it, they're open to the idea, but they don't understand, how an invisible God provides very real assurance and security in a scary world. Poor kids.

Dear Avery, I promise you that Daddy and I will protect you always, and we'll do our best to instill in you a deep understanding of God's love and promises, so you can grow in faith and trust in your security in this big world. God's got you, always, and you never need to fear, not ever, though I know you will. Trust God, then trust me, a girl as loved and cared for as you has nothing to worry over. Don't lose sleep tonight. God's light drives out all the worlds darkness!

Love Mama!

Mans best friend.....

There's talk going on in our house. Talk of adding a new addition to the family, and no, I don't mean a baby (though I wish that's what we were talking about!). Elvis and I are talking amongst ourselves, about getting the kids a puppy. After listening to Avery talk about getting one, with unshakable certainty, and weighing out the pros and cons of pet ownership, it seems we're definitely leaning towards getting our family a furry companion.

I wonder if its an intrinsic want, that all kids come to on their own, to want a dog. We've never had a dog, and we don't know many who do have one, and yet, they have both gravitated to dogs in their own way. Avery talks about "her puppy" as though she already owns one, and Landon plays with every dog he sees as though it is is own, its enough to melt your heart. Kids are clever like that!

So, yesterday we went looking for puppies, "just to see what's out there" we told ourselves. We found ourselves at the 400 Flea Market, we had no idea they had puppies there until we found ourselves at their booth, cooing over a variety of breeds of puppies. I had a fabulous cuddle with a little tri-color Shih-poo baby boy. I love it. If I could have, I would have stuffed him in my jacket and brought him home with us right then and there. I saw it on Elvis's face too, that puppy love. And now we're trying to rearrange the budget to accommodate a furry friend, those puppies aren't cheap! (haha, like my pun?).

Now, not everyone we know thinks a dog is a great idea, so we did our research and have found conclusive evidence that childhood is not complete without a dog! See the following quotes:

"No symphony orchestra ever played music like a two-year-old girl laughing with a puppy." -Bern Williams

"A house is not a home until it has a dog."-Gerald Durrell

"Every puppy should have a boy." - Erma Bombeck

See! It would be deprivation to not give our kids a dog! After all, we had dogs growing up, and I remember them fondly. Elvis's parents have a dog to this day, so do many of his siblings. Dogs are good I think. Small dogs are even better!

So, it looks like a dog will join our family in the near future! I can hardly wait to see the looks on Avery and Landon's faces when we bring that sweet pup home for the first time. I expect to see pure joy and have the pictures to remember it by!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Me: The Mother

I can tell you the very instant I became a mother.

I know the date it happened. The date that I knew I had changed from me, the college student and newly wed, to me, the mother.

Because I knew I wanted to be a mother, I was trying to conceive and implemented a few techniques to help me track my success or failure in the matter. Because of that tracking, I know with a fair amount of certainty, that Avery took up residence in me, on February 23rd 2005, and changed my life forever.

I can remember the morning I tested, and knew with certainty that she was on her way. It was March 6th, Elvis was working nights, and I laid awake at 4am wondering if we had been successful that month. And I couldn't wait and further and got up right then and tested, and got my positive result, and laid in bed for three hours waiting for Elvis to come home so I could tell him what we did. We had taken the biggest leap of faith and changed our lives immensely.

And its been a continuous and amazing transformation.

Motherhood is often touted as the hardest and most rewarding job you'll ever have, and I can't argue that one bit. Its full of challenges and struggles, but also of incredible joy and love. The rewards of having children saturate every moment of every day. Sometimes we take them for granted, or over look them, but my house is filled with the benefits of having children.

Our house is a home. It's lived it. Its full of fun and energy. It is after all, full of children.

Pieces of their youth and their personalities are strewn about everywhere. Clutter to some, but reminders to me of the blessings that God has placed into my world.

Crayons in a cup on the corner of my desk.

An upside down tractor ride on toy in front of my china cabinet.

Multiple brightly colored scribbled drawings on my fridge, which has more magnets on it then any other fridge I've seen.

Small boots lined up beside big boots in our closet.

The kids and their things have permeated every part of our lives.

And I love it.

Psalm 127:3-5 says:

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

4 Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.

5 Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!

How true it is! They're gifts. Sometimes its easy to lose sight of how precious they are. The day to day grind can get the better of us, we get tired, run down, over worked, pulled in too many directions or get too many balls in the air, and we lose sight of this truth. We get sharp tongued, and impatient and we lose the ability to truly enjoy our kids. I've been struggling with this lately. Combine too many balls in the air with a son and a daughter with very strong personalities, and you've got me, a frazzled mama who doesn't have all of the answers and sometimes melts down before I can stop and recollect myself. Thank God that he created children to be so forgiving and loving!

So today I wanted to think about the blessings of motherhood and the miracles of my children.

I wanted to pray on ways to love them better and deeper, and on ways to raise them well and set them up properly for their lives beyond our house.

Because Proverbs 22:6 says:
6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Its a big job! Motherhood (and fatherhood) is a big, serious and never ending job. But it has such amazing perks.

Like this:

And this:

And moments like these, absolute and unedited bliss:

And celebrations like this, thanking God for your children and promising in front of him to raise them right and love them hard:

And then we have the flip side of the coin. The sadness that sometimes accompanies the joy. The hardest lesson I ever had to learn about motherhood. Sometimes our babies are only ours for the shortest amount of time. Sometimes we don't get a life time to raise them and teach them. Sometimes God brings us a baby for the express purpose of teaching us. Sometimes the Lord gives and almost simultaneously takes away. Sometimes our children break our hearts. But in instances like ours, God broke our hearts to save our souls, and he had such a beautiful and amazing purpose for our son Everett. Some days its still too much for me to understand, but most days I'm capable of trusting that I'll understand some day.

Me, the mother, still wants to be raising all three of my babies, but does the very best I can for the two that God has entrusted me with. I entrust God with the other. I miss Everett every second of every day. But he helped me become the mother I am. Because of this boy.....

I cherish life more.

I value time with my kids and family more.

I'm more empathetic.

I'm kinder.

I'm more soft spoken.

I'm more aware.

I'm gentler.

I'm more tender.

And I came to believe in God, and accepted that I needed Jesus.

We came to faith through the loss of our son. We were crippled by the pain of his death and found courage in Christ to carry on.

All of my children have shaped me and changed me and have helped me become the mother I am today. And they've given me the desire to be a better one tomorrow.

And me, the mother, I am grateful.

My cup runneth over.


Monday, January 25, 2010

I need a thicker skin!

A group of friends began a discussion.

One friend asked, why do Christians think that they need to tell non Christians about their beliefs.

Others puzzled, "why do they think I need saving? Can't they see how insulting that is?"

Some Christian friends offered up their position and spoke about their understanding and experiences with their faith.

Some debating was done. Ideas bounced back and forth between the friends who did not believe in Jesus and the ones who did. Neither side would yield, not wanting to be wrong, and truly not believing they were.

The discussion continued, and words became harsher, and assertions stronger. Defenses went up and hearts shut down. And the debaters no longer resembled friends.

And people left the conversation saddened, and heads hanging. Some cried.

No one made anyone see their position any clearer. No one yielded. No one wavered from their stances, and the only thing the conversation produced was tension and hostility among friends.

This happened among my friends today. And its happened in circles of friends before, and will again. And the reasons why are complicated, and perhaps are beyond my limited understanding.

I'm a baby Christian. I'm new and fresh. I'm seeking. I'm learning. And I'm excited. Maybe I'm over excited?

I wanted to know, how do we share our faith, as Christians with the world. So I looked it up. I found sources, I printed them out, I read scripture, I highlighted it, I formed an answer I thought summed up my findings quite nicely. It sounded good to me. It sounded right to me. It was well received by my fellow Christian friends, but not at all by my non believing friends. And from our differing opinions, conflict grew, and resentment reared its head. And friends said things that hurt. And it was my instinct to withdraw from the conversation, to protect myself from the backlash of stating my beliefs boldly. I wanted to separate myself from the entire debate and maintain the peace. It crossed my mind to say something like "okay, okay, I give! We're all right, no one's wrong, lets be friends." But that's not authentic. That's not honest. I don't believe it. Saying it would be a betrayal of my faith.

But I don't like to argue.

I don't like the conflict.

My stomach hurts over it.

I want peace.

I want calm.

But I also want truth. And I want to honor God. And sometimes, as it would seem from the result of today's debate, you can't appease your friends and please God at the same time.

Today I learned that my beliefs are not digestible to a lot of people. Today I learned that a lot of people want a world where everyone can be right, where there are multiple truths to make multiple groups happy. Today I learned that it can be very risky to step up and say that you don't think like that. Today I learned that to speak up for what you believe is right, and thus imply that a group of others are not right, is a sure fire way to be disliked.

2 Timothy 3:12 states that anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it.

Its easier to shut up.

Its easier to not take part in religious debates.

It's easier to adopt a "to each their own" mentality and keep your beliefs to yourself.

But life isn't always easy.

And standing up for your convictions is not easy.

I'm not going back to the debate with my friends. There's nothing more I can offer. I didn't join to convert anyone. I didn't join to force my beliefs on anyone. I joined to answer a question. Why do Christians spread the word? Sometimes unsolicited, and sometimes to unreceptive audiences. I believe in Christianity. I believe in evangelism. I believe its good to tell the world about Jesus. But I am not narrow minded.

I am not ignorant.

I am not judgmental.

I am not naive.

I am not a bully.

I am not arrogant.

I am not egocentric.

I am not unkind.

I am not pushy.

I am not abrasive.

I don't believe I'm better then anyone.

I don't look down on my friends of different beliefs.

I don't call names.

I don't set out to convert anyone. I don't jam my religion down unsuspecting throats.

And I don't like the implication that I do.

I don't like being lumped in a group with collective bad experiences with Christianity. I don't like generalizations about my character based on my beliefs.

Those who know me know this, I am not unapproachable.

I am kind.

I am warm.

I am guarded.

I am wounded.

I am growing.

I am learning.

I am excited.

I am healing.

I am becoming more bold, but I'm very sensitive.

I'm easily hurt.

I need a thicker skin.

But I am incomplete, a work in progress, like the rest of the world.

So a group of friends had a discussion today about believers and non believers and the interactions between the two. And its still going on. And no one is winning. But I've said my peace and I'm letting it go. Any further contributions would be arguing and not debating. And arguing wouldn't being any glory to God. It wouldn't build a case for Jesus, or evangelism. It would only add fuel to the fire, and would only further divide friends.

So, big step back.

It was a learning experience for sure. I learned a lot about how my non believing friends think and feel, and that's good to know. I learned about my personal limits. I learned about what I can and cannot talk about while representing my faith properly. I learned through my research what the Bible says about spreading the word, and that's very valuable.

I got my feelings hurt.

I had some perceptions changed.

The dynamics in some relationships shifted.

But God works all things for good in those who believe. So I'm looking for that good. And side stepping any further discord among my friends.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

This morning I tripped....

And stumbled into some grief.

I never saw it coming until I was up to my neck in tears and sadness and longing for Everett.

And now its all I can see.

What ifs.

How comes.

I wish's.

My eyes are burning and my heart weighs a ton.

Joe Purdy's singing a melancholy tune to accompany my sadness.

I'm growing every day. Each day I refine some trait I hoped to improve on. I'm stronger in faith, more diligent with my diet, a more tender mother, a more loving wife. I'm growing, by God's grace I'm changing and evolving, and most days I feel like my life is clipping along quite nicely.

Then I trip and stumble into grief I never saw coming.

Because I've got too many balls in the air, and I'm not a very good juggler to begin with.

And I'm up to my eyeballs in heart ache. Crying futile tears. Wishing childish wishes.

Wanting something I can't ever have.

Wondering why we had to go through this, and why we still have to go through this. Grief never dies. It never goes away. It just lays low a while. It lies in wait. Until you've got too many balls in the air, and you're distracted, and then you step off into it like a pot hole in the road. And all your balls come crashing down and you've got nothing to do now but address your hurt and loss. Grief gets in your face and makes you deal with it, like a bully.

Its been two years.

Might as well be two minutes.

My arms still ache for my baby, who I can barely remember holding.

My eyes still long to gaze into his, and my memory can't recall what its like enough to let me fake it.

My heart still has an Everett shaped hole, nothing can repair it.

And the world still goes about its business, completely unaffected by our loss.

The sky hardly acknowledges the burning out of one star.

I can't even imagine what it would be like to have twins anymore.

I can't imagine Landon playing with his brother who would most certainly look just like him.

My mind can't wrap itself around the future we thought we'd have. It only knows the reality we ended up with.

Its nearly more then I can stand.

But here I stand.

Enduring to grieve again. And I hate that this is so depressing. My blog all about a new bright life, will inevitably be scarred from time to time with posts about grief. Its just reality. Life won't ever be perfect. It might get brighter, I might conquer some demons, and over come some obstacles. I might lose weight. My marriage might become stronger by the day. But I'll never stop loving Everett. And posts like these will come again.


"How many kids do you have?"

"So, how many kids do you have?'

Asked in casual conversation, harmless intent from the inquirer, but dangerous and painful words to parents who have lost a child.

My mind races. What do I say? What answer do I give? Do I say two and avoid a lengthy and emotional discussion, but feel guilty for leaving Everett out? Or do I offer three as my answer and risk giving too much information to the person who asked, or worse yet, risk breaking down and crying in front of a stranger? It's a situation that comes up over and over and causes a lot of emotional turmoil, and there's no right answer on how to deal with it. Sometimes I feel like explaining Everett, sometimes I feel like telling his story and making others aware of what we went through, what he went through. Sometimes I think answering honestly will serve a purpose that will make the pain I'll feel telling it worth while. And sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't think its worth the explanation. Sometimes I just don't think the other person will "get it", or I don't think they'll care. Sometimes I can tell that the person asking doesn't really want to know, and sometimes I can tell that they wouldn't appreciate how significant it would be for me to tell them the truth and open my heart up like that to them. So, sometimes I say "I have three kids" and I tell them a sad story, and sometimes I say "two" and leave that conversation pretty swiftly.

Its my decision to make, and whatever I choose, there's no right or wrong. But making the decision to explain what we went through with Everett, and the decision to show our scars is a good thing. Its good to share our story and our son, and to show the world that people like us, parents like us, we exist. It also helps to tell people about your loss and your survival, to stand as a beacon of hope, to testify to the resiliency of the human spirit, to attest to what we can endure and make it through, and demonstrate just how great God's love is, and how much healing His comfort can bring.

Sometimes we give the easy answer to protect our hearts from hurt.

Sometimes we give the hard/true answer to teach something, to feel something, to share something, and to grow a little in faith.

Its okay either way. And I need to remind myself of that. Because I get asked everyday. And every day I answer differently.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Me. The wife.

I've been doing a lot of thinking the past few days (hence the lack of writing), on being a wife. I've been researching and reflecting on what that means, and how that differs from what I have believed and how I have been playing out my role as wife.

I'm thinking I've undervalued the title of "wife", and that I have never really understood the significance of the role. Without having fully understood who a wife was and what a wife does, I've never really lived up to my wifely potential.

After having nearly lost my marriage, and having received a second (and God given) chance to revive and revitalize my marriage, I've been giving some consideration to how that can be done. Being a Christian has helped me zero in on some good resources that talk about God's view of marriage, and how He created gender roles for his creations, man and woman. I've got some good books, and some good online resources, and I've been studying up!

What did God have planned for women?

What did God want for marriage?

What roles is a wife supposed to fulfill?

What does a good wife do/look like?

Its been enlightening. I've had some "ah ha" moments, and some flat out "HAHAHA" moments as I've stumbled upon some parodies of marriage which are clearly skewed from God's original view (so offensive they're funny), but I've been truly learning and what I have learned has been very important to my self growth as a woman and wife.

It seems antiquated, but I don't mind. It stands in opposition to the feminist movement (which itself stands in opposition to the order God created for mankind to follow, but of course this is a different debate all together!), but I'm not a feminist and again, I don't mind. Its actually comforting, its simplicity and "old fashioned" feeling isn't offensive to me in the least, there's a peace in knowing and following God's plan, which I think is a built in reward to let us know we're on track.

So, I've had some questions and I've searched scripture (if you haven't been to YouVersion yet, go now!) and I've found some answers, and I feel satisfied with what I've learned. Here are some of the verses I've found on the matters of being a wife and on marriage.

Genesis 2:18-God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion"

God made man first, and then immediately decided that it wasn't good for that man to be alone. He set to work subduing man long enough to borrow a rib and fashion a helper, a companion for him. He made woman for man, a gift, a friend and lover to keep man company, to enrich his life and to help him with whatever he needs helping with. That's us. That was our biblical design, our God given purpose, be a companion and helper for men, to be good to them and for them. God knew man would need us, and designed us and placed us accordingly. It's a pretty noble calling I think, and a place of significance right? God knew man would not be happy or fulfill his purposes without us, that's special, not insulting.

Malachi 2:15-God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.

God designed marriage, the first union of man and woman happened between Adam and Eve, God's first human creations. Marriage is as old as time. So are its "rules" and guidelines on how to do it God's way, which is inherently the right way, since He designed it, patented it and wrote the instruction manual. Now I realize that this is hard for some to digest, since you'd have to be a Christian to believe this, which I am, so this sits well with me.

Now, on the importance of the role of wife, I found these two verses from Proverbs, which really outline how vital the role is, how important wives are to their husbands, how special the job is.

Proverbs 12:4-A hearty wife invigorates her husband, but a frigid wife is cancer in the bones.

That's a pretty big statement. A hearty wife invigorates her husband, but a frigid wife is like cancer in the bones? Big responsibility isn't it? We as wives are so important to our husbands, that we can make them invigorated, or make them ill like cancer in the bones? We have the power to build them up, or tear them down. We're very powerful people, whether we know it or not, our role as wife carries a lot of responsibility.

Proverbs 31:18-She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

This one is in the context of a wife doing her daily routine. Sure, it may be mundane, maybe its hectic, maybe she feels run down, over worked and under appreciated, but she senses the worth of what she does, and she is in no hurry to quit. She knows, this Proverbs 31 wife knows that what she's doing, for her husband and family is vital and important, and does it with a sense of duty and grace. Its not mundane, and its most certainly not unimportant work. She's maintaining the most important place on earth, her home and her families home.

For some, these roles might seem dated, sexist, and unappealing. I get it. But because this blog is about me, digging out a better version of myself from this mess I've made of my life, I'm going to embrace them. God's done a lot for me in the past few years. I've seen the difference believing makes. I've lived it, I've felt it. There's a shift you can feel, when you move from complete doubt to absolute faith. He hasn't steered me wrong yet, and I trust He won't. So, as a part of my life, and my increasing faith, I'm going to employ God's vision for me in marriage.

I'm going to strive to be a Godly wife, and woman. I'm not going to look at it as outdated, or sexist or backwards, but rather I'll view it as liberating and enlightening and satisfying, FINALLY having direction and guidance for marriage, which can be tricky and hard to navigate on your own. After all, we didn't do so good leaning on our own abilities and understandings right? Look where we were just a few short months ago. Separated. Living apart. Planning custody agreements. Planning a divorce. Marriage in shambles. Both of us in incredible pain, the aftermath of having torn apart the one flesh that we became when we married before God. And by His Grace, a miracle, a second chance was given, and here we are. Rebuilding! Starting anew, and building this new marriage and life on the word of God. All the better for it.

Another book I am reading is called, What Husbands Need, and its also quite enlightening. It's a small book but its crammed with some insights I wouldn't have come to on my own. I could write a whole book report on it, but I won't do that now. What I will mention is the point that struck me most while reading yesterday. Husbands need their wives to be their best friends, their wing man! I thought that was cool. Have I ever been Elvis's wing man? I'm not sure I can say I have. What do wing men do? They back up their lead guy, they offer support, they help them defeat enemies and overcome obstacles. Sounds like what God designed us for doesn't it? The analogy of a wing man is a little easier to swallow then say a cheerleader, but its essentially the same. Provide support, build them up, make them know they aren't alone and they've always got back up, and friendship in their wives. I like it.

I'm excited to embrace this new role, and to see how God rewards our marriage for it. I trust He will.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

When there's nothing to say....

Today's one of those days where I have a million trains of thought going at once. My brain has been on high speed all day and I can't sit and think of one thing long enough to write about anything in particular, or in depth. I've actually been in sensory overload for most of the day, a combination of getting up too early, and the kids being a little disgruntled, my senses were all in over drive and I've been craving this "me" time all day.

Elvis has been home from work for just under an hour now, and I am happy to report that I greeted him at the door, with a smile on my face and dinner on the table! How domesticated! But seriously, its something I've been striving to do, partly because he likes it, and partyly because God likes it, and serving both makes me feel really good about myself. We had baked chicken breasts, sweet potato casserole and green beans, and it was really good, and now we're just relaxing on our respective couches. Elvis is catching up on some sports scores and unwinding from his day at work, and I'm curled up with my lap top and iPod, finally getting some time alone with my thoughts (at long last). Its peaceful and quiet and a nearly idylic evening.

Earlier today I had a really great conversation with a good friend. We talked about our marriages, about the trials we're facing and about how NOT unique we are, how all marriages face trails and tribulations behind closed doors that often times they're able to conceal from the rest of the world. We talked about God. About His plan for marriage. About love and what God wants love to look like. We talked about the roles husbands and wives are meant to play in Godly marriages, and the specific challenges those roles present us. We talked about our individual Christian walks, and our relationships with God, how they started and where they're at now. It was good. I hung up feeling really good about what was said, and I hung up wanting to talk more about it, and that's a great thing. I haven't talked so openly about God, and my relationship with him to anyone. And I haven't talked so openly about Christan life and what I know of it (which is minimal) to anyone. It felt really liberating to share my faith, without holding back or playing it down, it felt honest, and awesome. I'll do it again for sure.

Yesterday a really lovely friend of mine offered to give me a book from her religion, and I was deeply touched. Though I'm not looking to change religions, I know that her offer comes from a deep belief that she would be doing me a favor, by passing on something she knows to be true. It was a bold move, one I am sure carried some risks for her, but so assured was she in her faith that she did it anyway, and thats commendable. Its hard to tell someone who doesn't believe like you about your faith. It's scary. What if they react badly? What if they're offended? What if they think you're weird? What if they challenge you? What if your well intentioned offer to tell them about your beliefs is flat out rejected? My friend was brave, and I want to be brave like her when talking about my faith. No more closet Christianity!

2 Timothy 1:7
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

We're intended to be bold and to speak up about what we know, the good news and the bad, out of love and out of faith, its hard, but then again, no one said it would be easy.

2 Timothy 3:12 states:
12 Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.

Declaring your beliefs and being bold with your faith comes with some risks, and every now and then you'll be met with opposition, but its part of the package, something you have to endure because you know its worth it.

Anyway, enough of that. I'm not looking to get too deep or philosophical tonight. I'm just feeling a general sense of contentment with my day. I survived my two grouchy kids, had a great conversation with a good friend, made a delicious dinner, did some house work, met my husband at the door with a smile on my face, and am enjoying unloading some thoughts and feelings here, its been a great day. Thank you God.

Now, I wish I could say I excelled in all resolutions I made today.

I didn't work out.

I didn't even eat that well.

I didn't do a lick of reading.

But I can't do everything all at once. A little here, a little there, that's good enough for me.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Light bulbs!

They're coming on in my head. Suddenly I've having realizations and "ah-ha" moments left right and center, things that were uncertain before are suddenly becoming clear and it feels good!

Now I've got all these insights and I'm shrinking myself so to speak, and equipped with a lot of hindsight, I can see where my life went off the tracks and how things got as bad as they did. Sometime in the past 5 years we got distracted by the major life changes we were undergoing, graduation, marriage, having a baby, and we got side tracked. Our focus got muddled and we really stopped being the couple we started out as. And then, sometime in the past 2.5 years, life got heavy, really heavy. And it got dark, and sad. Our already blurred vision went out all together. We stopped being that original couple that started it all, and worse yet, we lost sight of each other all together. And all we could see was our own darkness. Grief. Sadness. Isolation. Anger. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Alienation. It overtook us. Is it any wonder we drifted from one another? Did we ever stand a chance.

Thank God, and I mean that literally, that we were given a second chance at life and love, long before we ever knew we'd need it. Thank God that He saw the drift happened before we ever felt it, and that he called out to me when he knew he could reach me (after Everett's passing), so that I'd already be holding on to Him when we needed Him the most (the crumbling of our marriage). Its one of those things you can only see in hindsight. I thought when I found Christ (or He found me that is), in those months following Everett's death, that it was my big saving moment, I thought I was at my lowest and he was lifting me up then. But now, looking back I can tell that Everett's death provided a door of opportunity, where I was vulnerable and susceptible and in need of comfort badly enough that I would listen and let God reach me, and that that needed to happen when it did so my faith would have time to bloom and grow and mature enough to sustain me during the REAL challenge of holding my life and marriage together (by God's grace). See, losing Everett was painful, but my love for him has been unwavering, and I know his love for me is unchanged. The physical parameters of our relationship are of course greatly changed, but the love between mother and son isn't effected by death. God's love helped me cope, but its greater purpose then was to prime me for the next big challenge I'd face.

Losing Elvis would be a horse of a different color. The breaking down of a marriage is a different sort of death and the dynamics aren't at all the same. The love between husband and wife is not designed to survive if the marriage doesn't. We NEEDED God then, in a way we never did before. And truthfully, if I didn't already have great faith and some knowledge about how God works and what He wants from marriage under my belt, I might not have found it out in time to make a difference. If I wasn't already a woman of faith, if I didn't have a good church and a great small group, if I didn't have Christian influences and a personal relationship with Jesus, I don't know that I would have even tried to save my marriage. And where would I be now?

Some time in the past five years our train went off the tracks, and God saw it happen and put himself in place, in a perfect place, so that when we needed it the most, He could bring us safely back to the rails. And He did. And because Jesus is the light of the world, and because we believe this, we suddenly can see where before we were in the dark. And I know now that life got away from us.

Katie and Elvis the couple became Katie and Elvis nurses, then parents, then parents again, then grieving parents, then grieving individuals. Then sad individuals. Then lonely individuals. Then angry individuals. Then lost individuals. So far from where we started. But now a new opportunity presents itself.

Start again.

Focus now on the life we have, not the life we should have had, or wish we had, but the life we have, right now, tangible and real and God given. I'm quite guilty of being distracted by my wants and my wishes that I can't truly enjoy the blessings that are already in place. And then today a new light bulb went off. Start being "Katie" again, start focusing on making myself more like who I was before I got so lost in life's sadness and tragedies. Start being happy again. Start being unique again. Start being lively and vibrant. Start being a woman as well as a mother. Start being a wife as well as a caretaker. Start being a friend as well as a partner. I want to start adding some more dimensions to me and this life. I'm at a place where we can start reclaiming ourselves again, and that's just what I want to do.

The lights are on.

We're out of the dark and I can see where it all went wrong, I can also see how it can be made so much better. I'm plotting a course for a new path, a new life where with God's loving guidance, Elvis and I can grow together again and become "Katie and Elvis" the couple again, happily and passionately in love once more. Our marriage can thrive, our kids can thrive, our faith and thrive, and never ending opportunities for love and happiness will stretch out before us in ways we've never known before.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

In with the new!

So, we're two weeks into the brand new year and I've just started to finally make some tangible changes to our lives. We're starting to get our hands dirty, getting down to work and it feels good!

We're tackling a few categories, budgeting, organization, and I'm taking aim at my own personal challenge, weight loss.

For our budget, the first step we've taken, is making on. Well, actually we had one, so we tweaked it to suit our current situation, and now we're going to follow it. We're going to use the evelope system that Dave Ramsey teaches to make sure we adhere to this budget and are always aware of how much we've spent and where it went. We started today, so far so good, but we have a few birthday presents to buy, a few extra little bill payments to make, so we'll have to be very careful to not be extravagant or careless with our money, so it can last us until the next pay.

The goal of getting organized is also off to a slow start, but we're getting there. Coincidentally our organization challenge for January also deals with making a budget and a schedule, so we're doing that. We're scheduling, we're writing things down, we're using our very fancy and big new calendar to keep everyone informed of what's coming up, and I've even started using a little self made schedule for my day, to help me fit in all the little things I need/want to get done in the hours I have to do them.

I'm most excited about the weight loss goal however, because its my own personal mountain to climb, and its a big one, one I've tried to climb time and time again but have failed to succeed. So, this time around, I'm excited, I feel renewed and hopeful and can envision my successs, my triumph when I finally to make it to the top of this previuosly insurmountable mountain of a goal. But, I always feel this way when I start. Always. I always start out with good intentions. I even have a plan all laid out and ready to go. I always have a goal, a plan, and some sort of spark in me to make it all happen, but guess what always happens? That spark goes out. I lose my drive. I get tripped up, I get discouraged, and I quit, only to repeat this cycle in the near future.

So, why do I continue to get excited? Why do I continue to think I can succeed? Hope I suppose. People do succeed at weight loss. People with more weight to lose then I have, they succeed at weight loss. Shows like The Biggest Loser show us it can be done, they show us that weight loss, improved health and improved self confidence can be achieved through very hard work and diligence. And as a Christian, I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phillipians 4:13). Perhaps what is different this time around, from all the past efforts, is that until now I have relied upon my own abilities and understandings, I've been putting my faith in ME, rather than in Him, and hence, my failure .

Scripture also says:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

So, I've failed before, time and time again, I've come up short. But, that was then, and this is now, and I'm new again in Christ. Out with old and in with the new, AND, I can do all things now through Christ who gives me strength. I've got a goal, a plan, a spark, AND Christ to drive me and encourage me. Is it any wonder I feel hopeful that success is attainable this time around?

I've got goal deadlines too, special days coming up that I'd like to have little successes by. The first goal date is our family trip to Florida in about 6 weeks! The second goal is my sister's wedding in July, and the third goal date is my 6th wedding anniversary in August. The final goal date is my 30th birthday in September.

By goal one, I'd like to lose 15 pounds

By goal two I'd like to lose 50 pounds

By goal three I'd like to lose 65 pounds

By goal four I'd like to lose 70 pounds.

Big goals I know, maybe lofty, maybe ambitious, maybe unrealistic, but I'm reaching high and hoping to not be daunted by life, and not to be derailed should God have other plans that don't look just like mine.

It feels good to get started on my goals, to take them from points on a to do list and make them realities. It makes me feel like I'm making progress and that my life, our lives, are slowly being transformed into something more vibrant and joyful!

Have you made any progress in your new years ambitions? What have you done? What would you like to do that you haven't been able to get started just yet?


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just another day............

Today is just another average day in the life of me and mine.

But aren't they all?

Each and every day, whether its a day filled with excitement, or trials, or whether its a laid back, low key, "boring" day, they're your days. Each one on its own can seem underwhelming, maybe even boring, but each day is a gift, each one holds some little treasure, some little blessing, or life lesson of some kind. And they all add up, all your "dull" days and your exciting days, combine together to make your life. Our lives are, after all, just a collection of events, and days, and moments, some more memorable then others, but all of them significant.

Psalm 118:24

24 This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that God made. He made it and lovingly presented it to us, like a gift! And its our job to rejoice in it, to love it and enjoy it and all that its hours hold.

Here's what my day has been made of so far:

Woke up to the sound of my daughter calling out to go to the bathroom, 45 minutes before we're supposed to get up for school! Dragged myself to her room to help her, and she didn't really have to go! Put her back to bed and rejoined Elvis in ours.

Got some really great cuddling in before it was time to get up, I could have stayed in bed much longer, what a great start!

Got Avery ready to go to school, but we were having a rough start, I had a headache, she was a few minutes late but went off with her teacher with no tears, so it was a good start to her day. I had to promise to return before show and tell with her little Eleanor McDonald's toy that she wanted to show.

Went home and hung out with Elvis and Landon for a bit, then got packed up to take Landon to my mom and dads for a bit. Took Avery her toy for show and tell and headed off with Elvis to our marriage counseling appointment.

Had a great counseling session, talked about communication and rules for fighting fair. It was really productive and encouraging and I really enjoyed it.

After counseling we headed back home and stopped at East Side Mario's and had a nice lunch together before reclaiming Landon from my Dad. Good times.

Picked up Landon, came home and got him down for a nap.

And that brings us up to right now. I'm propped up nicely on the couch feeling quite mellow, blogging and chatting with my sister, and Elvis is in the process of bringing our new (used) dryer in the back door, which is an incredible blessing! Our dryer is old, I mean OLD! Its easily 30 years old and takes 2+ hours to dry a load of laundry, and we feel quite blessed to have good people in our life who would just GIVE away a dryer, a 4 year old in perfect condition dryer, to someone who needed it. Our friend Wendy and her husband Brad are very generous people indeed!

The rest of the day will be pretty relaxed. I have to get Avery from school in half an hour and then its just a quiet day, dinner and hanging out with the kids, I believe Elvis promised Avery a Wii sword fight, then baths and bed, and Elvis and I will catch up on some TV shows we're behind in. Its a good day.

This is a great day. A day to rejoice in some real simple pleasures, like how my girl will babble on to me about her day at school, and how she showed her McDonald's toy at show and tell, and how she'll tell me she missed me all day. I'm looking forward to unpacking her back pack with her and hearing about what letter they worked on today, and what songs they sang.

I'm looking forward to watching my kids splash in the bathtub, a few moments of the day where they play nicely together. And I'm looking forward to story time, again, a few moments of peace and quiet over a good telling of "Meet Wild Boars" (a great atypical kids story with plenty of giggles). Then bedtime............ah, bedtime. Quiet time!

My day will start and end in the arms of my husband, a gift. And sandwiched between that, the joy of being a mother and the gift of God's word and of second chances for our marriage and family.

Just another day. No drama, no excitement, but blessed none the less (or maybe blessed all the more for lack of drama or excitement!).


Monday, January 11, 2010

My Blog is a chameleon...

I hope no one minds the change in appearance. I feel compelled to change the look of my blog often, because I'm in search of a look that accurately represents this blog, and sets the tone and emotion I hope it will portray. Today I really felt like I wanted this "place" to feel tranquil and calming and light, I wanted it to feel like a good place to "be", and this color scheme really struck me for that purpose.

I hope you like it, but if not, no worries, it will undoubtedly change in the near future ;)

On a totally different note, happy Monday! What are you doing today? Its snowing here and I worked a 12 hour night shift last night, and slept poorly when I got home, so I'm feeling sluggish. By that I mean I am totally dragging! I feel all these little tasks and chores calling me, but I simply cannot make myself comply with their requests right now. Soon, maybe, but not now!


Sunday, January 10, 2010


Remember when you were a kid, and you lost at a game, messed up the punch line of a joke, were totally annihilated by a friend in some sort of competition (skipping, hopscotch, thumb wrestling), and you called a do-over? You declared a fresh start, demanded a clean start and hoped you'd do better the next time around (and if not, call a do-over!).

Do you still call do overs if you're defeated, or come up with results less then you hoped for? Or do you accept defeat, and label yourself mediocre, and just deal with it? Which way sounds better?

I'm calling a Do-Over in my marriage, that's essentially what this blog is all about. We didn't get it right the first time, not even close, we came up with much less then we hoped for and dreamed of, and for a while there it looked like we were going to accept defeat and walk away, with "Failure" or "Loser" stamped across our foreheads. But then God called a Do-Over, well, he called me to call one, and I did, and thank God he seemed to plant the same seed in Elvis's heart, and we started one together.

But Do-Over's aren't necessarily easy, nor do they guarantee you'll triumph the next time around. No, there's still much work to be done, and many sacrifices to make, and plenty of pride to swallow, and really ugly "big girl" pants to put on (or "big boy" if you're a man, sorry to be exclusionary, if that's even a word). Its hard work to get up the nerve to try again where you've failed before. It takes some courage to put yourself out there for everyone to see, and to have your closest friends and family watch as you try and piece together what you broke (you being the married couple, not any one individual). I can honestly say that it feels like the "world", our world, is watching and waiting to see if it can be done, or if we'll fail again. Its nerve wracking wondering who's on your side and who thought you were better just cutting your losses and walking away. Its intimidating knowing that some people are hoping you'll fail, or at the very least, they're not helping you succeed one bit.

It takes big nerve to try again, and to do with your head held high and your faith placed in God, and to do what you know is right even when many don't understand it or support it. I didn't see it this way when I was a kid, I thought kids who constantly called Do-Over's were poor losers, or spoil sports, but maybe they're just kids who will grow into adults who refuse to accept defeat, they refuse to just walk away from a challenge when it means so much to them.

So this Do-Over of ours, its not easy. Its messy and scary and feels sort of like walking a tight rope, so afraid to mis-step and fall. We've been going to counseling, Christian counseling, which is sort of like commissioning God to fashion a safety net for us, and we're just now testing it out, and are hoping that it works. We know we need to trust it will work, but that fear is built in and hard to rise above. There's so much more to be said and so much more to be done before our confidence and security in us has been renewed and we feel like our Do-Over was a success. There are so many bumps in this road and with each one we go over and don't break down I'm relieved and hopeful that we'll handle the next one just as well.

But I'll tell you again, sticking it out, challenging some societal beliefs that its best to just cut ties and cut losses and better luck next time, its harder then it seems. Its not easy to boldly carry out God's will when it doesn't make sense according to man's selfish will, but its far more rewarding in the end.

Is there some area in your life that you need to call a Do-Over in? Something you've failed at but are too afraid to try again? Have you been burned by a past disappointment but feel called to give it another shot?

Why not? Be bold, be brave, have faith and just do it, call your Do-Over and declare yourself clean slate! Reach out and take your second chance. No one will stop you. Chances are a lot of people will gather to watch you try though, so be prepared for onlookers, cheerleaders and naysayers alike. And no matter what they say, do it anyway.

I was never willing to let my marriage crumble to pieces and wash away with the tide like a fallen sandcastle. Not ever. But fighting for it seemed futile and scary and humiliating. But that passes. We weathered a storm, first separately and then together, and now those storm clouds are receding with the presence of the Son (note I said Son, not sun, not a spelling mistake!). It didn't feel good to be separated, like two halves of one being, torn apart, and the healing together again has been pretty uncomfortable at times. Healing is like that sometimes. We'll have scars now, no doubt, but we'll call them badges instead, outward declarations of our private (and sometimes not so private) struggle to hold on two what we are and what we have, and what God wants us to have. These scars, um, badges, will have purpose, they won't be in vain, they're battle scars achieved in a noble fight. Marriage, good marriage, God marriage, doesn't come easy, its a constant battle to keep it real, keep it honest, keep it noble, keep it fresh, keep it grounded, keep it reliable. I don't think you ever stop fighting for love and trust.

And you can call as many Do-Overs as you need!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Redefining self....

Who are you? Do you know the answer to that question? What makes you who you are and do you feel like the person you are on the inside really shines through to the rest of the world? Is the "you" that you see when you look in the mirror the "you" that you want to see? Or, is the "you" that you see accurate? Do you really see "you."

Who were are isn't static, its fluid, it changes with every experience, good and bad, we're continuously building on to ourselves, we continually evolve. That's good news I think, because you then know, that should you one day look into a mirror and no recognize yourself, you can change. You can renovate yourself, you can start from the ground up and become someone else, if one day you don't like who you see in the mirror.

So, who are you? Think on it. What makes you up? What experiences, good or bad, sculpted you into the person you are today? What do you like about you? What needs to change?

When I started this blog, which is all about change, I knew that personal change would be a big part of his life renovation. Its the biggest part. Thankfully I enjoy getting all introspective and digging deep into the core of me, and I'm not daunted by getting real with myself. I'm fantastic at recognizing a need for change, I can make an impressive plan to do it, but then I fall short on the next step, the follow through.

So, who am I? That's a big question, and it's hard to answer.

I am of course, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a nurse, these are the things all people can see at a glance.

Just beneath that first outwardly visible layer, I'm an artist, a writer, a photographer, these are some things that not everyone sees.

I'm smart but insecure.

I'm sensitive but have a hard shell around me.

I'm blessed but I'm wounded.

I'm hopeful but I'm apprehensive.

I'm generous but I'm guarded.

I'm laid back but easily riled up.

I'm defensive.

I'm protective.

That's me on the inside.

But who do I want to be? Who would I like to be, if I could be anyone, anything? What traits to I want to have?

I want to be confidant.

I want to be secure.

I want to be light hearted.

I want to be joyful.

I want to be spirited and energetic.

I want to be comfortable in my own skin.

I want to be easy to be around.

I want to put others at ease.

I want to be healthy.

I want to be buoyant.

I want to be capable.

I want to be a fun, warm, loving mom.

I want to be a loving, warm, passionate and dependable wife.

I want to be a trustworthy and reliable friend.

I want to be a grateful and loving daughter and sister.

I want to be a skilled, compassionate nurse.

I want to be a dependable co-worker.

I want to be a talented photographer.

I want to a fashionista.

I want to be eye catching no matter where I am or what I am doing.

I want to stand out.

I want to feel young, like, my age ;)

I want to feel multi-faceted, I want there to be many sides of me and I want to live them all, I don't want life to be a one dimensional and monotonous, "oatmeal" experience.

I want to be a better Christian, I want to learn more and love more and be more Christ like in the future.

I want to be vibrant, I wand to radiate life.

I want to shake of the dust that's settled on me over the past few years and start really and truly living this life again. With children and husband and family in tow, I want to start living a more vibrant and fun and energetic life!

Who's with me? Can you rhyme off who you are now, the good and the bad? Its hard to be that honest sometimes, because who wants to admit that they're tired, uninspired, lonely, guarded, bitter, or judgmental? Its not easy to be honest about who you've become. But next, make a list of who you want to be, and what you want life to look at, its the only way to know what you need to do to get there!

My first step in becoming who I really want to be is accountability. I hope that this blog will help me keep it real, and keep me on track, because I'm going to be updating you all along the way. I want to lose weight, and that's my biggest personal struggle, its hard to get started, and it seems that its even harder to stay focused long enough to get results. I get disappointed, I get down on myself, I make really high expectations for myself and I usually end up feeling like a failure when I don't meet them. Its a cycle I really need to break.

So, step one, get a weight loss plan and stick with it! Sounds easy peasy right? NOT! But, we shall see, I've got lots of tools available to me. I've got a treadmill, an exercise bike, weights, a Wii fit, and lots of friends to cheer me on! I can do this. I think I can do this. I hope I can do this. I HAVE to do this.

I will be so great to finally unburden myself and become a happier person.

If anyone wants to do this along with me, please leave a comment, we can support each other!


Have a little patience....

Impatience is a tricky thing. When we decide we want something, and I mean REALLY want something, we generally want it immediately. Each and every day we have to wait cultivates a sense of dissatisfaction, and unrest. We generally begin to get consumed by what we want and get a bit of tunnel vision, nothing else seems to matter until we get that object of our desires.

I speak from experience.

Right now while I'm trying to start a new and energized life with my husband and kids, and I'm re-prioritizing and organizing and strategizing to get us all in a better place, I am distracted by want. I want something and I want it badly enough that my thoughts are consumed by it. I want it now, I don't want to wait, and I'm feeling discontent with not having it. I'm being intentionally vague with my little secret desire, but to those who know me best, its not such a secret. Anyway, what I want should wait. I know logically that waiting is best. I know logically that if I wait until the timing is better, then I'll be able to enjoy my little "want" a lot more then if I got it right now. I know all this. But it doesn't make it any easier to stop wanting and start waiting.

Sure Abraham waited and God gave him what was promised to him (Hebrews 6:15), but God hasn't promised me anything that I know of. God never said to me, "Katie if you can be patient a while longer I PROMISE I'll give you a ______." So, I don't really know that my patience will have any effect at all. I don't know that it will be rewarding. I don't really know that if I stop wanting what I want for now, that I'll get better timing and better enjoyment of it later. I think I will, I feel I will, but I don't KNOW that I will. God and I don't have a clear agreement, nothing laid out saying this is my timing, this is His timing and lets do it His way. I don't even know for sure that the incredible desire I have now for what I want is not God given! How do I know that God's not pushing me to want what I want so badly? I don't know!

What I do know, is desire is all consuming sometimes. I do know that the pursuit of some desires can distract us from what we already have and should be enjoying. And perhaps its not the desire itself that is wrong, and its not the desire itself that creates a feeling of dissatisfaction in our lives, but rather its the feeling that we have to be continuously thinking about the objects of our desire and plotting to achieve them in order to get them. But what if we did something differently?

What if we still wanted what we wanted. What if we planned accordingly, and followed the necessary steps to get what we wanted in an appropriate way, and then we just waited. What if we put it out of our minds while we waited and just gave that desire over to God, and trusted that he would take care of it. What if we trusted Him with our deepest desires, did our part, but rather then let that desire consume our every waking thought, we delegated that concern to God and trusted that he would give it over to you when the time was right. Patience and trust is what we're talking about.

I know that I personally am afraid to give my desire over to God, because I'm afraid that I won't get it, I'm afraid I won't be in control and I won't get it if I am not personally trying to manipulate things to go my way. But honestly, I'm not ever in control and no matter how much manipulating I do, I can't force God's hand or make him grant me anything outside His timing.

All my toiling and dreaming and planning and obsessing does is torture me. It makes me impatient and disgruntled and dissatisfied, and disappointed. It makes me feel futile and frustrated and saddened and hopeless, and it distracts me from the job at hand. To love my husband and my kids and to rebuild a life for them that is dependable and love filled and solid and feels like Heaven here on earth. I'm to be building a sanctuary for us from the world, and I'm to be instituting changes that will make us stronger and happier and that will build in longevity and endurance to my marriage. But when I'm distracted by desire and I'm focused on making that one desire a reality, I can't focus on the other changes that mean so much.

So, what am I to do? Stop wanting it? Not likely. Its a built in deal and I don't think I'm meant to turn it off. I think it'll turn off on its own someday and I'll know when I don't need to want it anymore ;) So, I'm going to continue to want this secret little want, but how can I do it in a way that doesn't drive me crazy and distract me from what I already have? I have to have trust and patience. I need to to trust God with this incredibly precious desire, place it in his capable hands and say "I know you know I want this badly, and I trust that in time you'll give it to me, in the meantime, I trust you to hold this concern for me, until my life is ready to recieve it", and let that be that. Then all I can do is wait. Patiently.

And of course I'll still up, get consumed by it again, and I'll need to come back to this post and remind myself that I'm being patient and I'm trusting, and that my life is already full of people and projects to keep me busy and happy and satisfied.

So here I am, wanting and waiting, and trusting.....

But man I really hope its not for long ;)


Friday, January 8, 2010

The dark mirror.....

In counseling the other day, our wonderful counselor talked to us about a variety of very important and helpful things. She talked in depth about forgiveness and how vital it is to forgive others who have wronged you, so that your sins can be forgiven as well. Poignant and appropriate counsel for sure.

She also talked about the metaphorical mirror our spouse holds up to us. When we're dating and new and shiny, we see all these good things about ourselves when we look in the mirror. We see how loved we are, how worthy we are, how beautiful we are, and we feel really good about the reflection we see in that mirror. But over time, that same mirror begins to show us some of our more negative attributes, as our spouse sees them. Now it shows us how picky we are, how lazy we are, how argumentative we are, and of course that makes us feel uneasy.

And since then I've been thinking about the darker sides of me reflecting in that mirror. Particularly last night when I was feeling quite full of ugly emotions and thoughts that I really needed to wrestle to keep under control. In fact, I needed to put myself to bed very early to prevent that ugliness from spilling out and causing problems in my marriage. Those feelings just keep creeping up and I keep having to stomp them down, and sometimes I wonder, and this may weird out some of you who aren't used to hearing it mentioned, but I wonder if it isn't the Devil weeding his way in and trying to make me my own downfall? I do. The concept of the Devil is relatively new to me as a believer, and at first it weirded me out, but truthfully, you can't believe in God and not the Devil, we don't get to pick and choose what we believe, it is what it is, and if God is real (which I believe he is), then so is his nemesis.

So, is the Devil working on me? Is he planting ugly thoughts and irrational emotions in my mind and heart and trying to get me to make a stir so big in my marriage that it could cause a relapse in our recovery? Would he care enough about little old us to do that? From what I'm told, you betcha! God loves marriage, and the Devil hates it. So, it stands to reason that we're in a battle to keep on the side of God and to keep Satan off our doorstep.

Now, these ugly emotions I'm referring to, you might be wondering, I would be, what are they? They're jealousy, anger, no make that RAGE, and hatred. Pretty ugly stuff. But their genuine and honest human emotions, we do ugly really well. I feel like I've got these emotions wrapped up pretty tight, and contained in one dark and dingy corner of my life. They're neatly channeled in one direction and thus far, I've done pretty well in holding them back and talking myself down when the urge strikes to just explode these emotions everywhere and then the debris and aftermath fall where they will. But where would that get me? The Bible says....

James 1:20 (NIV)

20: for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


Ephesians 4:26–27 (NIV)

26: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

27: and do not give the devil a foothold.

Being filled with anger does not bring about the sort of behavior and life that God desires from me, its quite the opposite actually. As for the part about not going to bed while still angry, I guess I didn't do that last night, but I feel that it was better to go to bed feeling secretly, insanely angry (and whine about it to God himself) then to tip my hat that I was angry, have to explain why and potentially lose my cool (which I work so hard to keep) and have a totally unnecessary fight, for nothing! Now, maybe I'm wrong (chances are that I am), but I woke up not angry and feeling better, so I think I'm back on track!

But that last part, do not give the Devil a foothold. That is what I am talking about! Being that the Devil is described as quite cunning and clever, he no doubt has noticed that anger is a weakness in me and goes for that weak link hoping to cause something to break, he does this in all of us while he's attacking all the good that God is building up. If God wants it up, Satan wants it down. So its best to be aware of your "ugly" and keep it in check at all times.

My "ugly" is sooooooooooooo ugly, and I hate that its there at all, but its checked and monitored and to this day, thank God (and to God the credit really must go, since I am not this composed without lots and lots of help), its well contained!

What's your "ugly" like? Do you know what it is? Do you do a good job of being honest about its existence and keeping it in check?


Truths from good music.....

If you've followed my other blogs, you'll know how much I look for inspiration and motivation in music, and often times I'll quote a good song because I feel like it spoke to me, or it speaks for me, in a way that I'm just not eloquent enough to do. I love the way a good song can sum up my life or how I feel about my life, or a truth about life, in one beautifully compact verse.

And those of you know have read my other blogs, and most specifically my grief blog, will know that I love me some Joe Purdy! He's got a lot of songs I feel he may have written specifically for me, or maybe about me? (haha). Anyway, Joe Purdy must be a pretty cool guy I think, and a pretty wise guy too (and I mean that in a good way).

I've been thinking a lot lately about the hardships in life that weigh us down and really dampen our ability to enjoy the good things in life. Its true, sometimes, when your life is a mix of good and bad, happy and sad, hard and easy, sometimes all we really see are those negative qualities. Our hardships really become albatrosses around our necks, they burden us and distract us from the gifts in our lives.

So, as I've been thinking about this, I've been doing what I do, and thinking about music to help and inspire, because sometimes a good song, or even just a piece of a good song, can uplift me, or re-frame a situation enough to make it more bearable, and maybe through this blog, I can offer little pieces of lyrics here and there that may uplift anyone lovely enough to be reading my blog.

Lets revisit Joe then. This little piece of lyric has struck me before, and it struck me again when I was thinking about struggle and hardship. Its short and simple, not much to dissect, here it is...

"I love the rain the most, when it stops"

Lets all all deep and philosophical and take that apart a little. Let's substitute "my struggles" for rain. And "they" for it.

"I love my struggles the most, when they stop"

Say what? I LOVE my struggles? Sure thing. I love my struggles them most when they stop. I can't love them while I'm in them, because right then I'm too busy struggling and bemoaning my hardships, I'm too busy coping. But when they stop. When the storm clears and we can see easily (hey, that brings another song to mind! "I can see clearly now.....", never mind), we can see what our struggles allowed us to do, we can see the changes that our struggles facilitated.

After we've struggled and endured and come out on the other end, still standing, we can then begin to be grateful for the process of struggle. Like a test from God, our struggles test our faith, and our fortitude. And when its all said and done, LOVE your struggles for who they made you and what they allowed you to do. They didn't defeat you but rather they added to your character and strengthened you.

Maybe Joe didn't mean it that way, maybe he did, that's the beauty of art and music, they're so interpretive. One song can take on a million different translations depending on who's listening and what they need and want to hear at that moment. But this translation is mine, and maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't.

But if its raining in your life right now, take heart, it will stop, and when it does, you'll be able to see that it did something beautiful in your life, that it wasn't just rain for the sake of rain, but like it nature, where flowers grow because of the rain, you experienced some beautiful personal growth as a result of your struggles, your downpours. There are seasons in life, and there are rainy seasons, when things look grey and bleak and things just don't seem to go your way. Maybe you feel lost and isolated during these storms, but they have one thing in common, they always stop. Whether you're experiencing a sprinkle, a shower, a downpour or a flat out hurricane, it'll stop, and you'll still be standing, and all the better for it. And chances are, if you look to your left and your right, you're not alone out there in the rain, your friends and family are out there too, getting rained on in some way or another in their own lives. You're in good company.

Grab God as your umbrella, take heart, and since its raining anyway, why not jump in a puddle and have a laugh at it all!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Boy!

My boy is precious, pure preciousness!

My boy has the most squishable cheeks and kissable lips!

My boy has an unfair amount of thick dark eyelashes, its just not fair.

My boy is fiery and hot tempered.

My boy is super sensitive and easily wounded.

My boy only wants to eat food he thinks is yours.

My boy loves cuddles, Mama cuddles especially.

My boy is in awe of, and terrified of his sister at the same time.

My boy loves babies.

My boy doesn't talk much, he's the strong silent type.

My boy loves cars and trucks, what boy doesn't?

My boy is tidy! He cleans up like no ones business.

My boy likes all doors to be closed at all times, he's the self appointed door police.

My boy's a small fry like his big sis, and I like him that way!

My boy has a guardian angel in Heaven, and holds a piece of his brother with him always, even if he doesn't realize it yet.

My boy is therapeutic, just holding him makes the world feel right.

My boy learns something new and exciting every day, and its amazing to see the world through his big, brown, heart melting eyes.

My boy is a treasure and I'm incredibly proud to be his Mama.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Girl......

My girl is all kinds of beautiful.

My girl is a little pixie, she's short and slight and too precious.

She's incredibly observant.

She's smarter then a four year old should be.

She's got a memory like a steel trap.

She's got cool moves and can't help but use them when she's caught by the beat.

She's intensely loving.

She gives pretty passionate kisses ;)

She loves talking on the phone.

She hates pants, takes them off any chance she gets.

She loves the Wii fit, not the Wii, but the Wii fit specifically, loves to know her Wii age.

She loves to read, and can actually read.

She's spirited, and by spirited I mean she was sent to the principals office three times in her first month of Junior Kindergarten.

She knows where your zygomatic bone is (do you?).

She loves her family.

She thinks her brother is alright.

She knows more about loss and Heaven then she should.

She drives me.

She makes my heart skip a beat.

She reminds me that all these changes I am striving to make will be worth while if they somehow have a positive effect on her life and make her smile that smile.

That smile! She melts my heart!

I can't get enough of my girl!


Points to ponder.....

I think humanity collectively wonders, why do bad things happen to us? Why us? Why do I have to struggle? Why do we have such a hard time getting ahead? Why can't we catch a break? When will it be our turn to prosper? When will something go my way? Why does God allow bad things to happen to me? (I suppose just those who believe in God will wonder this last thought). I've wondered myself, why so much struggle in life? Why so much hardship?

The answer is pretty simple. We're fallen people in a fallen world. The original sin by the original man and woman have set us all on this course of sin and hardship, there's really no getting off it now. Struggle and strife are built right into the human experience. But, for those who believe in Christ and in salvation through Him are given these little tidbits to hold on to when times are tough. Little silver linings. Your struggle and hardship have purpose, and like all things worked through God, they can do good in our lives if we have the right attitude. Here are two I found this evening:

1 Peter 1:6-7

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

James 1:2-4

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

These pieces of scripture actually suggest that we rejoice in our hardships! The audacity ;) Rejoice in hard times, celebrate struggle, because they provide opportunity to endure, to strengthen our ability to adapt in all circumstances, they allow us the chance to prove our faith. They give us the means and the opportunity to lean on God and show our dependence on Him, which is of course, quite pleasing to Him.

So, when hardship knocks on your door, which it most certainly will at some point, don't fear or distress. Endure it. Rest assured that it will strengthen you and be a test of your faith, a chance to prove your faith is strong and that you trust in God to take care of you. Each struggle is a change to grow in faith, and that's a good thing.

That's a lot to process, as many matters of faith our to my little human mind and its limited human understanding, but its worth considering.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Something interesting....

When Elvis and I started to see a Christian counselor upon our mending of fences, she gave us an Andy Stanley DVD series to watch before our sessions, which discussed marriage and how to have a less frustrating and more fulfilling marriage. It talked about how most marriages begin, with dreams and hopes for the couples future life together. He has his dreams, she has hers, but after the "I do's" are said, those dreams and desires transform into something new all together. They become expectations. Expectations lead us down a road of demands and disappointments, setting standards for the other that often times are never, or can never realistically be met. He talked about how detrimental it is for a marriage when our dynamics change to a "debt" and "debtor" relationship, where we feel like our spouse owes us something and we want out if we can't have it. He called this the "I" marriage, emphasis on the capital I. Its all about ME. My wants, my needs, my desires and my disappointments, and he warns that no one really wins this way.

Of course the series is much more involved then what I can detail here, but it goes on to discuss the importance of getting out the "I" mentality and taking on a "i", and placing your spouses interests and needs before your own. And we scratch our heads and wonder, just like Andy said we would, well then what about MY needs? If I do what he says, which is to take my box of expectations and dump them back into the desires box, and if I admit that my spouse owes me absolutely nothing, then what on earth am I to do with my desires then? Should I drop them all together, give up my wants and dreams and cater to the desires of my spouse without ever so much as mentioning my own again? Thank goodness the DVD is quite thorough and answers to these questions were provided. He shared with us 1 Peter 5:7, and it was quite interesting, so of course, I will share it here :)

1 Peter 5:7

In the same way, you yo
unger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for "God opposes the proud but favors the humble."

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Andy explains that our desires and needs are important to God because they're important to us, and that he wants to hear them. Essentially he said we could bring our dreams and our desires, and our anxieties and concerns to him, and whine about how we're afraid we'll never get them! No judgment. He just cares. He cares because we're His, and He loves us, and what concerns us concerns him and you can unload on him anytime. He went on to say that over time, after getting in the habit of unloading these concerns and wants on God, rather then on your spouse, who will only end up feeling anxious and burdened by the pressure to meet your expectations, that a change in the marriage will be noted, the dynamics will shift once more.

Very interesting! Most certainly worthy of trying out. Rather then dump your desires and wishes not yet come true onto your spouse, to guilt or shame or to play a power trip out, give them over to God, and let him know what you want, with humility and with honesty, and he'll understand. It doesn't mean he'll grant you any wishes or miracles, but he might change your heart, and he might just get in there and change your marriage. That little piece of scripture was clear to point out that God doesn't work with the proud, but jumps in to aid the humble, so humble yourself and serve and love your spouse as God would have you do, and in time, in His time, he will give you the Grace you need to do what you need to do to have a better marriage.

Interesting stuff this marriage counseling.

On a related note, we go back to counseling tomorrow after a holiday hiatus, and I am excited for it. I think because we got such a fantastic Christian counselor, that I really look forward to speaking to her and learning from her, and seeing what sense we can make of this mess we like to call "our life." Walking out of her home sort of feels like walking out of church. I feel enlightened, renewed, uplifted and full of hope for the future. Its a pretty amazing thing, that something so broken and damaged can be so remedied and repaired from just talking about God and his will and his love. Pretty amazing stuff. I highly suggest it to anyone in need of some problem solving, or mediating, or guidance, in any area of life.

Anyway, its late and my baby girl is back to school tomorrow. Christmas holiday's are officially over with and time to get back to the regular grind. The sweet and beautiful regular grind, I could not ask for more!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Redefining friendship....

I can't seem to say what I want to say these past few days. I get an idea, it bubbles up in my head and when I sit down to write, I get flustered and "tongue" tied and overwhelmed, and then I give up and walk away.

I suppose its not a bad thing to lose my "voice" for a day or so while my thoughts compose themselves, better to say nothing at all then to say something incoherent, or worse yet, something said from frustration that doesn't reflect my true feelings, or doesn't represent me well.

I'm thinking about friendships lately though. I'm thinking about the friendships I have, and the qualities I'd like to add to my friendships (old and new) for the new year. I'm thinking "friendship" has been a pretty casual term in my vocabulary, and a pretty casual role in my life, and in the new year I'd like to see it take on a more weighty definition and a bigger role in my life. I'd like to see the role of "friend" come with greater commitment and responsibility, and I'd like the word "friend" to pack more punch. I'd like "friend" to be nearly synonymous with "family." I'd like to see my friends more regularly and I'd like to contents of our friendship to delve below the superficial into some real substance.

I'm thinking I really need to redefine what friendship means to me, and re-evaluate the friendships I have. I need to decide how I can improve them and build on them and enhance them, so that they're mutually satisfying and real and special and cherished. I'm tired of superficial pleasantries and five minute conversations in passing, I want to build real, significant and substantial relationships into my new life.

After all, no man is an island right? We need people. We need to share our lives and experiences. We need to have people to turn to and we need to be there should anyone need to turn to us. I want to open my home to friends and family alike, and I want them to come and fill it. I want invitations to be accepted, and extended. I want community. I want potluck dinners at my house and game nights and play dates and BBQ's. I want community!

I want to take the kind of community I've experienced in my group of online friends and I want to bring it into my every day life with the people in my little world. I want to break up little cliques of people, three or four clinging to each other, and create a large and loving group of people who are really there for each other and demonstrate friendship and love and concern always.

That's what I want.

I'm tired of superficial friendships.

I'm tired of part time friendships.

I'm tired of one way friendships.

I'm tired of fair weather friendships.

This is the year of getting real and getting honest, friendships included. This year I'm looking for deep, meaningful, full time, reciprocal, dependable friendships. I'm looking for community. I'm looking to not feel like an island anymore.

Anyway, I'm not certain I actually got my thoughts across just right yet, but that's the gist of it. I'm smart enough to know that friendship is so important, and I'd like to see it take a bigger role in my life in this new start in this new year!