When God’s plans look different than ours…

Baby fever- it has been raging since our youngest was a few months old. He’s now three and a half. The fever hasn’t been constant but when it is there it is an intense desire. My husband and I never seem to be in the same place when it comes to wanting another baby. When he wants one I am content with two and when I want another he is content with two. Recently I went off birth control while I waited to see my OB/GYN for my annual appointment. While I was off of birth control we were both on the same page and we both wanted another baby. So we decided to give it a try. We decided if God wanted to use us to bring another life into being then we were up for the challenge. There were moments when there was pure excitement at the thought of having another baby and then there were moments of sheer terror, but we decided to trust God with whatever the outcome was. I spent a lot time praying that God would prepare my heart for whatever He had planned even if it looked different than my plan. He is a faithful God and He did a thing. Prior to the negative pregnancy test and the arrival of the inevitable period God whispered to me- He said, “My plans are different than your plans. You won’t be having another baby, but there is still joy to be experienced.” He said that to me after I had just shared with my husband and dear friend that if the period comes I have peace about only having two beautiful souls to raise, love and train.

I recently had some hard conversations in regards to my children and who they are. Those conversations and words spoken awakened my soul and I was overcome with thankfulness and joy. A joy I had been praying for, for quite a while. You see I had been struggling for a long time to find joy in the midst of motherhood and to be honest it was beginning to feel hopeless. Then through conversations and a negative pregnancy test I found joy. I feel refreshed and renewed. It’s a joy I know only comes from the Lord.

We have two beautiful children, but they are two highly energetic children. They never seem to slow down, even when they are sick. Sometimes the high energy can been too much for my husband and I, and most days we are left completely exhausted. For a long time I questioned why God would give me of all people two highly energetic kids. God has recently revealed some things to me:

1. It is a privilege to be their mother, a true gift. An honor.

2. Their energy is a gift to the world and God has plans for them and He needs their energy.

3. They were created in His image and their personalities are beautiful.

4. God chose me to parent them because He is using it to shape me.

I’ve recently taken a step back to observe each of them and celebrate them both for the unique and beautiful souls they are. I have been amazed at who they are and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I have also realized just how different they are from one another.

I’ve learned that while they are both highly energetic it is because of different reasons. One craves human contact and connection and is filled up with it (the extrovert) and that overflow comes out in crazy bursts of energy. The other is a bit more introverted and doesn’t crave human contact quite as much, but their bursts of energy come with boredom and lack of structure. One child thrives on structure, the other prefers their days to be less structured. One likes to know how things work and is constantly taking things apart where as the other prefers that things just work with no effort on their part to make them work. One is shy, the other outgoing. One is very sensitive and an emotional soul who wears their heart on their sleeve, while the other is ruff and tough. One thrives on words of affirmation and gifts while the other thrives on quality time and physical touch. Both are givers and love to serve. Both love fiercely in their own unique ways. One hates saying goodbye, the other has no problem with goodbyes. Both are brilliant. Both love the Lord. Both are children of God. Both are going to grow up to do BIG things. Both are good kids.

While these are just a few of the things God has revealed recently I am celebrating and rejoicing in who they are and that God has been gracious enough to reveal those gifts to me so that I could be filled up and begin to view motherhood through a fresh pair of eyes. What a blessing. I am unworthy to be gifted the privilege of raising His children here on earth but I am grateful and do not take it for granted. I cannot wait to get to know them even more and watch them grow into the individuals God has created them to be.

So while as of right now there won’t be another minion running around our home I feel at peace and I am filled with joy. God is so good, even when His plans look different than ours.

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A few things I’ve learned

I find myself sitting here drinking some coffee thinking about this year coming to an end and a new one beginning. I find myself reflecting on life this last year and what I hope to leave in 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018. I think about this time last year and how sick I was. I ended 2016 with a pretty bitter, angry and sad heart. Thankfully this year is ending differently for my heart. Here is some of what I have learned from 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018.

Even if not, God is still good…

I was very sick last year. Lots of money was spent on doctor visits, tests, imaging, blood work and prescription medications.  Nothing was helping. I pleaded with and begged God to take it all away. To let the medications work or to give the doctors an answer. I needed so desperately to feel like myself again. Being stuck in bed unable to do anything doesn’t work for a do-er like me, its torture. Still nothing helped. My husband and I were sent away to enjoy time together without any stress and enjoy the warm weather in hopes that my body might get a little break. Before we left my husband mentioned me going to see his mentors wife who is a holistic doctor. I declined as I was burnt out on doctors offices, tests, medications and honestly we didn’t have the funds to keep throwing at medical expenses. While we were in Phoenix I exchanged some words with God, most of which were not pleasant and I let him know just how angry I was with the lack of change and response to healing my body like I and many other people had been asking him to do. I wondered if God was there and if He heard me. Then that still small voice spoke and said, “I’m still here and I’m going to heal you but it looks different than you think. You see I am more concerned with your heart than your physical body so I am going to start there. As for the physical body go see the holistic Dr. (I will call her K).” So when we got home I decided it was time and my husband set up an appointment and within two weeks I was sitting in K’s office. She explained EVERYTHING that was going on with my body in a way that made sense and in a way all the other doctors never did. I walked out of her office hopeful for the first time in months. She gave me some supplements and suggested a few changes to my diet and honestly within 3 weeks I felt like a whole new woman.

I learned in that moment that even if God hadn’t healed my body that He was still God and He was still good. Sometimes the healing looks exactly like we thought it would but more often than not it looks different and it’s exactly what we needed it to look like.

Vulnerability is strength…

Vulnerability is not my strong suit. I am getting better, but I also have allowed myself some grace in knowing its going to take a minute to change an old habit. I have learned that the coping mechanisms that once kept me safe and helped me survive are not serving me the same purpose anymore and its time to change some things. During my season of sickness I had to learn to ask for help and be vulnerable enough to do that and to ask for help. That didn’t come easy for me. I have grown and have learned to ask for help when I need it but I am still not very good at sharing my heart. This fall some things happened in our marriage that forced me to be vulnerable with a few safe people. It reveled the importance not just for me, but for my husband to humble ourselves and find a few safe people to be raw and honest with. It’s actually the only way to make it through life without being eaten alive. Satan likes when we isolate, when we keep the darkness hidden, when we don’t humble ourselves and share our brokenness with others. Once things are exposed to the light, healing happens and Satan has no power. I still suck and fail often at the vulnerability piece but I am learning and practicing and 2018 will be a year I practice vulnerability!

Love in the most important thing…

Loving one another is really the most important thing. We are big on this in our house. We love one another with our words and with our actions. We own our mistakes and we ask for forgiveness when it’s needed. However that extends far beyond the four walls that make up our house. We practice loving and serving those who cross our path in whatever capacity that may look like. Sometimes it means we slow down in the grocery store to have a conversation with an elderly person. Sometimes it looks like lending an extra hand and help with grandparents. Sometimes it looks like handmaking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and feeding the homeless. Sometimes it’s cleaning out the toy box and giving them to kids in need. And sometimes it looks like encouraging and speaking truth to those who cross our path. Whatever it looks like in that moment is irrelevant what matters the most is that we are loving those that God has placed in our path with the love we have from Christ.  We have had love lavished on us greatly this year whether through Christ alone or through those He has placed in our lives and we couldn’t have made it to where we are today if it wasn’t for that love, because love really is the most important thing.

Those are a few of the many things I have learned this year and there will be many more to come. I have begun to learn the importance of self care and because for me writing is part of the self care process you’ll be seeing a lot more writing from me in 2018!

I would love to hear what you have learned this past year…

A world without hate

My daughter was working on a project for the anti-defamation league for school. She had to create a work of art that for her represented  a world without hate. 

She wanted to start with something we say often, “the most important thing is that we love each other.” We talked about what that looks like. She talked about treating people the right way. She talked about being kind to one another. We gave her free range to create a representation of what a world full of love would look like to her. 

She created this:


We asked her to tell us about the pictures drawn on each heart. 

The pink one: Shane and I on the beach. 

The red one: was jus a picture of Shane and I. 

The silver one: was Shane and I in the desert.

The blue one: was Shane and I having a dinner date. 

My husband looked and me with a smile on his gorgeous face and said, “I love that her interpretation of what it looks like to love one another is us.”

I agreed and to be honest I love that too. I love it for several reasons. A few of those reasons being: 

It tells me that we are doing a good job of loving one another well. 

We are setting an example of what it looks like to love well and our kids will follow that lead. 

Our children will have a healthy view of love and marriage. 

Our children feel safe and loved because of the way we love not only each other but them. 

Anyone who knows mine and Shane’s story knows it is one of grace, redemption, forgiveness, hope and love. We had all odds against us in the beginning but we fought hard to get to wher we are today and to know our hard work is evident speaks volumes. 

Her assignment was to imagine a world without hate and create something to represent that. 

I am not an artist in the sense that I don’t draw so I won’t create a picture but I will use my words to share what I imagine a world without hate to look like. 

I imagaine a world where the most important thing is that we love one another. 

I imagine a world where we learn to put the needs of others before our own needs.

I imagine a world where we speak truth in love.

I imagine a world where we can disagree with one another and still remain kind. 

I imagine a world where we learn to value life over death. 

I imagine a world where we show and do the work. 

I imagine a world where we truly see one another and we can all take of the masks and be vulnerable.

I imagine a world where we value humans rather than devaluing them for our own desires. 

I imagine a world where we are free from slavery. 

I imagaine a world where we are free from racism. 

I imagine a world where we are free from hate and full of love.

We may never see this kind of world this side of Heaven a we live in a fallen and broken world. I cannot change or control people or this world, but I can control the way I love and I can continue to demonstrate that kind of love and live out my life without hate. 

What to you envision a world without hate to look like? How do you demonstrate love in a world full of hate? Join in and share what your world without hate looks like. I’d love to see pictures,  videos, written words etc from you. 

Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.

 

 

Security Blanket

I wanted passionate, fierce love. I wanted authentic, raw and honest love.

I found that kind of love. I have that kind of love with my amazing husband. We had to fight for what we have now and I would do it all again to have what we have now. I am thankful for him and his love everyday and I am thankful that our children can rest in the security that their parents love and respect each other!

The other day my husband and I were in the kitchen cooking a meal when he grabbed me and begun to dance with me. We slow danced in the kitchen to whatever was playing on Pandora. I glanced over and caught a glimpse of our daughter– she had the biggest smile I had ever seen come across her 4 year old face as she watched her parents dance with one another.

A few days later my husband wrapped me in his arms and kissed me. I then caught a glimpse of our son intently watching us. His face displayed pure happiness and security. My husband held me while we looked at his sweet face and I wept.

I wept for my own grief of not having that with my own parents. I also wept tears of joy and thankfulness that my children will only know that kind of love and security.

I longed and desired to find some security in my parents, their marriage and in love. I never saw it. I saw instead pain, anger, sadness and no sign of love. My parents loved my siblings and I… but deep down I knew that their marriage was never going to last. I ached for it too. I longed to have parents who set an example of a loving, strong marriage. One I could look up to when the time came for me to get married. That never happened. I had friends whose parents loved each other with a love so fierce. I longed for that.

My parents eventually divorced and I was devastated. I was thankful for the fighting to end. I wouldn’t wish for them to still be unhappy and married. However I believed that love looked like my parents and I refused to ever submit myself to that.

I wanted passionate, fierce love. I wanted authentic, raw and honest love.

I found that kind of love. I have that kind of love with my amazing husband. We had to fight for what we have now and I would do it all again to have what we have now. I am thankful for him and his love everyday and I am thankful that our children can rest in the security that their parents love and respect each other!

 

#dayofthegirl

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“Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.”(http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/).

On December 19, 2011 the United Nations declared that October 11 would become National Day of The Girl. The point? To recognize girls rights and the challenges they face.

We’ve come a long way in the way of Women’s rights, but still have a long way to go. While it’s important that we are still fighting for our reproductive rights, the wage gap, being discriminated in the workplace, continuing to fight for fairness in our voting rights, an increase in incarceration among women and maternity leave rights– to name a few. We are missing the bigger battle.

We are failing to fight for the rights of little girls all over the world. Little girls are being denied education. Little girls are sold and treated as mere objects, used for sex. Little girls are being forced to marry and have children at the onset of puberty. Little girls are treated as invaluable and weak.

Each and every little girl has in them the potential to change the world. It’s our responsibility as older women to reach out and encourage those little girls. It’s our responsibility to remind them of truth. It’s our responsibility to equip them and support them. It’s our responsibility to fight for them. We are called to be the voice for the voiceless. We are called to help the widows and the orphans. We are called to be the hands and feet.

So in honor of National Day of The Girl, I encourage each and every one of you stand up and fight for our dear sisters all over the world. To pray for them. To encourage them. To speak truth to them. To educate yourselves on the issues at hand. To love them.

Peaks and Valley’s

Call it bias but I live in the most beautiful place on earth. My view day in and day out is breath-taking. I get to stare at the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I am blessed that I can drive 20 minutes to be completely engulfed by their presence. It is not a sight I ever take for granted.
I escape to those mountains often, especially when my heart is heavy. They are a safe place. They serve to remind me of truth, of who I am and who I am meant to be. They remind me that there is more to this life than what’s in front of me.

Recently my family and I decided to go spend a cooler summer day in the mountains to hike and bask in the beauty that surrounded us. I took in the beauty, I breathed in the fresh mountain air, I silently listened to the sound of the rushing river below and I let it all consume me. It was a healing moment. It was a majestic moment. It was a moment that reminded me of part of my own story.

The mountains do all those things because when I was a lost, hurting, scared, lonely, heavyhearted teenage girl I spent a week backpacking in those mountains and my life was forever changed.

I showed up over-packed and naive. Truthfully I thought it would be a cake walk. I didn’t realize I would have to carry a heavy pack with all my things, plus food up a mountain and back down. I didn’t realize I would have to sleep outside in a sleeping bag vulnerable to anything wild that lived there. The trip was suppose to be a week of escaping my ugliness not facing it head on.

As we hiked along the trail I remember saying to my trail guide that, “ it was really cool when you can actually see how far you’ve come and can actually see you’re going up.” My guide made a comment following that, that has stuck with me ever since; she said, “ yeah it’s kind of like life we can’t see where we are going until we get to the top and then we can see how far we’ve come.” That very conversation is why the mountains will always be my go to place when my heart is heavy. Sometimes when we are in the valley it’s hard to see where we are going. We feel like we are doing all this work and nothing is changing, we aren’t going anywhere. Truthfully it’s like that when climbing to the top of the mountain as well. There are so many moments when you feel like you have made no progress and you’ll never reach the top. Life is much the same way. We gotta hike through the valley to get to the top of the mountain. We can sit and relish in that beauty for a moment. We can see how far we have come and then we begin to make our descent back down the mountain.

That’s where I struggle. I so often want to stay on the mountain top where life is quiet and peaceful. I don’t want to have to climb back through the valley just to go back up to the top of the next mountain. Then I am humbly and graciously reminded that life is meant to be lived in both the valley and the mountain tops. It’s a beautiful and wonderful mixture of both.

So here’s to living in the peaks and the valley’s because both are equally as beautiful, breath-taking and exhilarating as the other.