Things I’m Loving Lately

February 4th, 2016

It’s that time again!  I’ve got so many favorite things at the moment that I just HAD to round them up for a post!

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Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Palette

Let me start by saying I KNOW this is a ridiculously expensive eye shadow palette.  It’s crazy.  I received this as a Christmas gift from Andy which is probably the only way I can justify having it.

Let me also say I think it’s worth every penny! All 6,200 of them! Lol

This palette is entirely comprised of matte eyeshadows.  No satin finishes and no shimmers.  This is really good for those of us who aren’t 25 anymore.  It’s also great for those of us with hooded eyelids.

::raises hand::

These colors are all highly pigmented, they blend beautifully, they are laid out in nicely coordinating quads (neutrals, cools, and warms from left to right) and they just plain rock.

Youtube has a bunch of great tutorials using this palette, so you can figure out what to do with it if you do get one!

Modern skinny jeans

Denizen by Levis – Modern Skinny Jeans

These are from Target and they are AH-MAZ-ING.

My friend Rochelle turned me on to these and I’ve since convinced my sister and another friend to buy them.  We all have very different body styles and these work for all of us!

Sadly they aren’t available online, so you’ll have to go to the store, but it’s worth it!  They are so stretchy they could almost pass for yoga pants, they don’t lose their shape as you wear them, they stay nice and slim at the knee which is perfect for wearing with tall boots, and they are only $27.99!  Check them out, you’ll be glad you did!

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Mossimo Supply Company Long Sleeve Pullover Cozy Tunic

Speaking of Target…this sweatshirt is currently in stock and it’s incredible soft, cozy, comfy, and even a little stylish!  It is lightweight but warm.  It’s long enough to cover your booty which allows you to wear it with leggings, it has a cute cowl neck that isn’t so bunchy it bothers you, but it adds interest to an otherwise super casual top.  I have this in the purple color pictured, and also in the light heather blue.  In-store they have black and heather gray too.  Consider sizing up because it’s not very generous in the bust area…I normally grab a Large, but picked this up in XL and it’s perfect.

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Rusk Speed Freak Blowdryer

Another expensive beauty item, but also very worth it!  I had this on my Amazon wishlist and my mom generously gifted it to me for Christmas this year.  I’d been hearing how a good blowdryer could really make a difference in achieving the look and texture you’re going for, but I’ll admit I wondered just “how good” it could really be.  I mean, it blows hot air onto my head…what could be so special.

OH MY GOODNESS.

Having a quality blowdryer makes a huge difference!  My hair was so smooth and it laid so nicely after I finished drying it, you’d think I used a flat iron! The heat is very even and the power of the airflow is so strong that it gives wonderful results and in much less time than I was spending before.

I have a lot of fine hair and that usually means it takes a long time to dry and it can look fuzzy rather than smooth, but not with this guy!

I’m sold.

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Starbucks Floral Double Wall Traveler, 10oz

I have a weekly ritual of filling my travel mug with hot coffee right before I leave the house on Sunday morning for church.  Sipping my morning cup of Joe during our church service makes me happy.  I think I’d feel naked without my coffee on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been using a handsome stainless steel travel mug bearing the logo of the last company I worked for, and I’ve enjoyed it.  The seal was good, I’d smile thinking about my old job and it did the trick.

But I was seduced by this gloriously feminine mug from Starbucks!  I’d seen a gold polka dotted one in the fall, but couldn’t justify the $20 price tag.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but by the time the I was ready to fork over the dough, it was gone!  Not available in stores or online (unless you were willing to pay upwards of $50).

Womp womp.

I kept my eye out for other mugs I liked, but none of them sparked joy.  I’d either like the design but it would have some goofy saying on it, or they weren’t girly enough for my taste.

So, you can bet your bottom dollar, I snatched up this beauty the first time I saw her!

Pinks, reds, green leaves, gold accents.

::swoon::

I LOVE it and my Sunday morning coffee might taste even better out of this beauty :)

It’s on sale right now for $15.96!

iris

Iris – a documentary about the life of Iris Apfel

My year as a Netflix Stream Team member is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m over my obsession with Netflix.  It’s my favorite way to watch anything these days and I was intrigued when I came across this film.

I’d seen Iris before, her iconic round glasses having imprinted themselves into my memory.  A girl I followed on Instagram mentioned the documentary and I decided it would be the next thing I watched.

What a fun and inspiring woman!  She clearly has a loud and unique sense of style, but there’s something so fabulous about it.  I’m sure plenty of people think it’s “too much” but honestly, why is that a bad thing?  It’s really an art form and it’s captivating.

Toward the end of the film she talks about how she doesn’t like “pretty” and she’d rather be interesting.  Beauty fades with time and if that’s what you put all your stock in, what’s left?  Interesting lasts a lifetime.

Something about that perspective really touched me.  I’ve got a big personality and sometimes feel like I’m “too much”.  On top of that, I’m often drawn to bold and gaudy fashion.  In recent years, I’ve started consciously choosing more muted and subdued colors and styles.  I think I’ve always associated those with being more mature and as having more class.  I know style evolves over time, and that my tastes are bound to change, but I don’t want to lose my flair just because I think it’s “too much”.

Iris inspired me just last week to wear my cowboy boots twice and to commit to finding the perfect red lipstick.  Life’s short, be interesting!


Watercolor Painting!

I’ve fallen hook line and sinker for watercolor painting.  It started with another blogger I follow who began posting her beautiful creations on Instagram.  The colors and fluidity and challenge of creating something that I like have all captivated me.  I’m not even close to being as good at is as I’d like to be, but I’m having fun trying and I’ve convinced myself that enough practice has to make me get better at it.

Right?

I think I’ve always believed people are born artistic or not artistic and I fall into the latter category.

I’m not so sure anymore, so I’m going to practice a lot to see if I can disprove my own theory!

I’ve started by finding flower paintings I like and trying to recreate them.  It’s helping me learn about how the paint works and what various techniques yield.

One of my favorite things about this new little hobby is that there’s so little set up and clean up!  Just rinse the brushes and put everything away! Awesome.

So, tell me what YOU’RE loving lately!


Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

January 27th, 2016

Costco samples are awesome.

Besides keeping the kids happy, they allow me to try new items I might normally pass by.

By now we know I’m pretty into food and health, so I’m always reading blogs and articles about nutrition and healthy recipe alternatives.  In my reading I’ve come across hemp hearts, but had I not been able to try them I’m sure I would have been skeptical about buying a bag of them.

Costco had sample cups of them a while back and I was intrigued by their soft texture.  So many “seeds” are hard and crunchy, so these were very different.

If I had to compare them to something, I’d say they taste kind of like raw almonds.  Fresh and slightly nutty, but softer and more raw-tasting than roasted almonds, yet they have more “chew” than a raw almond.

I mostly appreciated what they offer in terms of nutrition: complete source of protein (supplying all the essential amino acids) 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons, and a really good source of healthy fat which keeps you full and satisfied between meals.

Trader Joe’s had a reasonable sized bag of them, so I grabbed them the last time I was there.

The easiest way to eat them would be to sprinkle them on top of things like yogurt, smoothies, salads, etc.  I plan to add them to my Whole30 banana breakfast where I slice bananas and top them with nuts, cinnamon and coconut milk.

I thought it would be cool if I could incorporate them into some kind of healthy treat for the kids.

Late afternoon they are always begging me for a snack to tide them over till dinner.  I’m usually anti-snack because it helps the kids be appropriately hungry at mealtimes, thereby causing them to eat more of their meal.  I’m convinced perpetual snacking is one of the main causes of picky eaters.

Why on earth would you eat your chicken and asparagus when you’ve been filling up on goldfish crackers and granola bars all day??

But I digress…

A quick Google search yielded this recipe for hemp heart cookies.  They sounded good but I was missing a couple ingredients and wanted to make them taste like traditional oatmeal raisin cookies.  I modified that recipe and came up with my own Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

hemp heart cookie closeup

I was pleasantly surprised by how much they taste like the “real” thing!

I feel much better offering these to the kids for a snack because they don’t contain any flour (yay for gluten free!) or refined sugar and they’re full of nutrient- dense foods that will fill them up and nourish them :)

Win/win.

Here’s my recipe…enjoy!

hemp heart oatmeal raisin cookies

Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Old-fashioned Oats
  • ⅔ Cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 3 Tbsp Hemp Hearts
  • 3 Tbsp Raisins - I used golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds - or flax seeds
  • ⅓ Cup Nut Butter - I used almond
  • ¼ Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • ¼ Cup Almond Milk
  • ½ Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Splash Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350* F
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix together dry ingredients (oats, coconut, hemp hearts, raisins, chia/flax seeds, and cinnamon)
  3. In a separate bowl stir together nut butter, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract until well combined
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring to form a dough, dough will be very chunky and loose
  5. Use a small scoop or spoon to portion dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet - the cookies are not very sticky, so do your best to press them into balls
  6. Bake cookies for 10 minutes
  7. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container to maintain freshness

 


Avery Is Three

January 19th, 2016

New Year’s Eve marked my Avery Jane’s 3rd birthday.  The whole world celebrated that night :)

table surprise

I was super excited to decorate her dining room chair with balloons in her favorite colors and Sophia The First who reigns supreme as her fave princess at the moment :) Grace even made her a birthday drawing and wanted that to be on display too.  One of the sweet moments that I want to remember more than all the tears Grace shed that it wasn’t her birthday.  Oy.

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We had traditional sprinkle pancakes topped with whipped cream and she was happy as a clam about that!

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Not that you can tell at all from her face! LOL This girl’s camera “smile” is absolutely hilarious.  Totally reminds me of Chandler Bing from Friends:

chandler's smile

We opened presents right away.

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So “happy” about her Sleeping Beauty playset LOL.

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And also really excited about getting Elsa and Anna plush princess dolls to go with the Ariel and Rapunzel she received on Christmas morning.

Pink and white cupcakes followed Avery’s choice of pizza for dinner.

My mom was able to join us for the celebration which made it even more special.  She also spent the night to watch the kids while we went to a NYE party later that night…thanks mom!

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My brown eyed girl :)

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Pink (strawberry) ice cream was the perfect accompaniment.

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She ended ate all of her ice cream and only the frosting from her cupcake, but she was a happy camper.  Especially when she was sporting her cute and girly new Cinderella outfit from grandma.

The kids had a fun night with my mom while Andy and I partied it up at our friend’s NYE murder mystery dinner.  He was Cheque Penné, a successful but quiet banker, and I was Yuna Verz, an extremely intelligent astronaut.

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I thought our parts suited us well ;)

Avery had a huge family party last year to celebrate her 2nd birthday, so this year we planned to do a small friend party instead.

Unfortunately our plans were thwarted by the worst stomach bug to ever tear through our family!  We spent the better part of about five days sick as dogs.  It was so awful!

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By this past Friday we were all healthy again, so we had the little pizza party after all!

snow bunnies

Our friends happen to love our backyard (kids are so funny!) so we planned a little outside time before the pizza party kicked off.  You can’t tell from this picture, but it was actually raining and it didn’t phase them one bit.  Oh to be a kid again…

As expected, Avery tired of the outside play before the others so she came inside and started working on her personal pizza.

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Everyone had their own lump of dough…

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And we had sauce, cheese, mini pepperoni and diced bell pepper for toppings.

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Avery chose to make an “A” shaped pizza and got to work loading it up!

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It was so fun to watch her meticulously place little pepperoni pieces along the lines of her “A” in neat rows.

The other three girls opted to make heart shaped pizzas.

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The pizzas went into the oven and the girls disappeared upstairs to play while their creations were baking.

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Next time I would make sure everyone added a LOT more cheese.  The amount they used seemed to melt into the sauce and crust during the bake time.

It didn’t seem to bother them too much though :)

pizza collage

To be honest, this party snuck up on me a little and I didn’t plan well enough to make a cake or cupcakes from scratch :(  That’s something I actually enjoy doing, so I was disappointed.  A chocolate cake mix and tub of frosting came to the rescue and I thought a heart shaped cake would be fun.

Without thinking, I made two round cakes and planned to turn them into a heart once they cooled.

To make a heart cake you actually need one square and one round cake.

Oops.

Dr. Gould suggested I cut the round edges off of one layer to make a square and go from there with the heart.  It was far from perfect and I could have used more chocolate frosting, but it turned out ok and Avery loved it.

Oh to be a kid again!

heart cake

I was actually a little embarrassed to bring the cake out because I’m generally much neater about my cake creations, but when Grace saw it she gasped and told me it was “so beautiful”.  What a peach :)

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She’s so serious!! LOL

Reminds me of this donut picture…

Photo Aug 26, 9 28 10 PM

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Avery’s friends gifted her with a fun popsicle set, a really cool zoo book and a sparkly bracelet.  She’s been enjoying all of them since the party!

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In my (limited) parenting experience, three years old is a tough age (#threenager) but I’m hoping we have a great year and no matter what, I know it will be awesome getting to see my little Avery Jane grow up and delight us all with her wonderful spirit.

I love you, sweet Avery.

September 19, 2015

Photo Credit: Jenn Anibal

 

 

 

 

 


Round and Round I Go

January 17th, 2016

Discouraged.  Overwhelmed.  Frustrated.  Filled with dread.

Not exactly the glowing feelings of hope and joy I was experiencing on New Year’s Day.

Where did that all go?

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The truth that refreshed my soul is still as true today as it was that day, but I’ve slipped back into unbelief.

Why does this happen?

One step forward, two steps back.

Clinging desperately to truth one day and gobbling up lies the next.

I’m weary of it.  I’m tired and I wish my Heavenly Father would see that and swoop me up into His arms.

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Just last night I was pouting about this to Andy…we desperately need a date night but cannot seem to sort out the logistics to make it happen, so weeks pass one after the next and we remain deeply entrenched in child-rearing and whack-a-mole.

Last night we planned to eat a nice steak dinner after the kids went to bed as a sort of “date night in”.  Sadly it didn’t play out as we had hoped.

Drew didn’t go down to sleep easily and ended up crying through our whole meal.  We brought him out to sit with us while Andy finished eating and I basically sat at the table holding him and pouting.

WHY OH WHY can’t things go according to plan ONCE IN A WHILE.  Why ON EARTH can we not seem to spend some nice, quiet, child-free time together??

Why OH WHY won’t this cranky baby boy GO TO SLEEP??

After many more tears, Drew ended up succumbing to the sleep he so desperately needed.  Andy made a Moscow Mule for himself, but my stomach was upset and I had a raging headache, so I couldn’t stomach the thought of a cocktail.

There we were on our “date night in” and already a fussy baby had spoiled it and now I felt like crap.

Thanks a lot, God.  This is just spectacular.

I KNOW I was being a spoiled brat about the whole thing.  I truly do.

In between my pity party, I was condemning myself for being so ungrateful.

“Poor little middle class stay-at-home suburban mom doesn’t get a night out and has to stay home in her warm and comfortable house with her exceedingly sweet and patient husband eating filet mignon.”

Pathetic.

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If I even take 10 steps back from myself and look at my life and circumstances, I’m tremendously grateful.

But somehow I get so deep into the forest that I cannot see the trees.

I’m leading a Bible Study table at church on Tuesday mornings and we are working through Pricilla Shirer’s book Armor of God.

So far the focus has been on the spiritual warfare that’s being waged all around us and the importance of prayer in fighting the things we don’t see.

I’m quite certain the emotional turmoil I’ve been experiencing is more than just parenting woes and seasonal depression.  In the moment it’s hard to recognize that, but I know it to be true and I’m working on remembering that there’s much more going on that what I can see.

It’s as though the enemy is like the Wizard of Oz…”Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

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If I don’t acknowledge him, he has a leg up on me and can wreak even more havoc.

Pricilla says,

That’s why he works so hard to beat you down with discouragement.  Rag you into discontentment.  Lie to you about who God is, causing you to doubt the Lord’s all-good intentions toward you.  Hammer you with accusations that place a burden of shame and guilt on your shoulders too heavy to carry.  Trick you into thinking your situation will never change, and that God doesn’t hear you or care when you call out to Him.  Soon your fire of passion starts to burn low.  You grow lackluster.  Disinterested.  Low in spiritual fiber.  Your spiritual armor goes unworn and unused.

Yowsa.

That all sounds a little too familiar.

She goes on to say,

Maybe you kind of don’t care anymore.  You’re not even sure you want to.  But through prayer, you can get your “want to” back.

YES.  I want to get my “want to” back.  I don’t want to be lulled into spiritual apathy.  I don’t want to give up and settle for just surviving.

But man is it often tempting to give up.

I have no tidy little bow to wrap this all up in.  I really don’t.

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I’m feeling better today than I was yesterday and a WHOLE LOT BETTER than I was the day before that.  Church this morning was a really good reminder of truth.  It’s important for me to show up each week just to be reminded that God is good.  His ways are perfect.  He loves me more than I could possibly comprehend.  He hears me when I call out to Him.  He has won the battle and the victory is irrevocable.

I’ll probably start to forget those things again tomorrow when my day ramps up and parenting threatens to hold my head under water.

I’m not going to give up though.  I’m going to keep calling out to Him however weak my voice may be.  I’m going to keep believing and keep begging Him to help my unbelief.

 


Hello 2016

January 2nd, 2016

Relief and hope swept over me this afternoon as I stood at the kitchen counter watching puffy flakes of snow falling outside my window, texting my neighbor back about borrowing an onion.

“Yes I’m home and I have one!”

She’s a blessing to me.  I’ve lived next to her for the better part of of a decade, but in this past couple of years, I’ve really understood how generous and caring she is.

It was a simple exchange.  I’d been lazing on the couch scrolling through New Year Facebook statuses and blog posts and I think something inside me was shaking loose.

When her text message came across the top of my screen, I swelled with excitement.

It was only an onion, but it was really so much more.

Connection with God and other people are, I believe, the most important things in our existence.

For the past six weeks or so I have been in a funk.

Frustrated, bored, bitter, anxious, cranky, antisocial, pessimistic, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, and disconnected.

There have been good days peppered in, but my spirit has been feeling flat.

I would dread the morning and long for night.

Watch precious moments and blessings pass before me and know I was missing them.

Beating myself up for that and for “knowing better” but still feeling low.

On the couch today, phone in hand, something inside cracked free.  I jumped off the couch to grab that onion, and I stood at the counter waiting to hand it off to my neighbor’s husband.

I saw him round the corner of the empty rental that separates our two homes.  I opened the side door and was greeted with a blast of cold, snowy air and his friendly smile.

We exchanged pleasantries and he was on his way.

An ordinary moment, but extraordinary too.

Rewind…

On Christmas Eve my oven was full but I still needed to bake a pan of potatoes and get to a party on time.  Not knowing what to do and feeling frustrated for not having planned better, I decided to bust out of character and ask for help.

Yes I, Rebecca Grace Gould, voluntarily asked someone for help.

Alert the media.

LOL

I texted my dear neighbor to see if she was home and her oven happened to be free on one of the busiest baking days of the year.

Her response?

“I am and what temp?”

Something about her response moved me.  It was as if she was saying, “My oven is your oven.”

Sweet community.

Connection.

Using her oven that evening was as simple as using my own.  I cannot tell you how that impacted my heart.

We live these isolated lives.  We are constantly around other people but we remain lonely little islands.  We have our headphones on or our nose buried in our phone.  We barely look at the barista or the grocery cashier.  We don’t know our neighbor’s names and we look into our children’s eyes for often less than a minute a day.

We don’t connect with others.  We don’t give and receive help from one another.  When we do, it can be contrived or complicated.

When it’s messy or painful to connect with others or live in true community, our tendency is usually to stop.  To withdraw.  To solidify our resolve to be independent.

Instead we should press in, give the benefit of the doubt, realize we’re on the same team, love deeper and give more.  We should not isolate ourselves and hoard our gifts and affections.

I’m guilty of this.

When I’m disconnected from people and I’m living in painful community rather than soul-hugging community, I’m tempted to give up hope.  To believe the lie that I’m on my own and no one understands or cares.

This leads me down a rabbit hole of melancholy.

I end up in a funk and I struggle my way through each day…hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel and fearing it won’t ever come.

I don’t answer my phone or respond to texts.  I don’t like anything on Facebook and I turn down invitations.  I want nothing more than to be alone and drown my sorrows in solitude.

That’s a miserable way to live for very long.

I’ve uttered some short prayers.  Lacking faith.  Forgetting God’s promises.  I’ve been too lazy to try harder to reach out my hand for His help.

He hasn’t gone anywhere.  He’s been there all along.

I’ve grumped at my kids for being ornery or ungrateful or any number of other unsavory things and yet I stand before my Heavenly Father the same way.

He doesn’t grump at me.  He doesn’t compare me to Himself and act shocked at how I’m responding to the world.

He knows I’m a child.  He knows I don’t have the capacity to see all He sees and know all He knows and to understand the grand scheme of things the way He does.

So He smiles at me and embraces me and offers me more grace. More love. More mercy.

A very wise friend shared a similar analogy with Andy last night and it stabbed him right smack in the heart in the very best way.  Andy understood that perspective and related it to parenting and to his relationship with God.

Today I internalized that perspective of God and how He Fathers us and it allowed me to extend grace to myself.  Something inside my stubborn dark funk began to shake loose.

Then my neighbor texted and unknowingly encouraged my soul by extending uncomplicated community to me.

We belong to each other.

We were made to be connected to one another.

About little things like an extra onion and big things like heartache, pain, triumph, and victory.

God reached down to my snowy bungalow today and lifted me out of my mud puddle.

2016 is here.  It feels fresh and new.

will screw up and there is grace for that.

will forget truth and God’s promises, but there is grace for that.

won’t live up to my manifesto for the year, but there is grace for that too.

I’m ready for this year.  I’m thankful for a renewed sense of joy, hope, and expectation.

Let’s do this thing called 2016.

 


The Results Are In…

December 18th, 2015

You may have noticed it has taken me a couple of days to weigh in on what happened Wednesday with Andy’s residency match.

You guys, there has been so much to process!

I wish I could explain it, but I’m sure I can’t exactly.

You know I’ll use about 900 words trying though ;)

Rewind to Tuesday night…around 10pm.

Andy came into the living room where I was sitting and let me know his Army friend told him the results would actually be online at 0001 hours (12:01am) and we wouldn’t have to wait around all day Wednesday to learn our fate.

This made us both incredibly excited and nervous!  We planned to stay up (of course) and log on the second the clock struck 12:01.

We had to distract ourselves somehow so we grabbed a couple of beers and a card game and set about killing time.

Before we knew it, the time was upon us.  Andy grabbed his ancient Macbook (which is SOOO SLOOWWW) but had his login info stored, and we logged on.

It took forever and we were practically shaking.

I snapped this pic right before we logged on and although we look normal (albeit orange as Oompa Loompas!), we were in fact frantic.

With trembling hands we clicked into the status area and it said…

No data.

WHAT???

We refreshed the page…

No data.

AGGGHH!

This continued on for several minutes.  Andy texted his Army friend and learned he was having the same problem.

Phew! It wasn’t just us.

We changed browsers but didn’t have the password handy because Andy had the site set to auto-populate it.  He tore through our files looking for the info.

No dice.

We finally found the info in our internet settings and tried the site with another browser.

No data.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

Our life is hanging in the balance and there’s no data!

Finally Andy’s friend texts that he got his info…his first choice too!

YAY!

I was so happy for him and just knew Andy was going to get a good outcome.

About 30 minutes after originally logging onto the site, we refreshed again and it populated!

Specialty: TRANSITIONAL

Location:

Our hearts beating out of our chests, we read the words and had no idea what they meant.  I immediately asked Andy what that meant and he had no idea either.

We just sat their stunned and anxious and a wreck.

I kept asking him, “What does that mean??” and he kept telling me he didn’t know!

Oh my goodness you guys.  It was so stressful.

I immediately decided to Google it.

Thank you sweet Jesus for Google!

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Google seemed to have a clue what I was asking, so we poured through the search results and pieced together what this all meant.

Andy did not get an OB intern year.

He did not get a Family Med intern year.

He did not get Civilian Deferred.

He did not get a GMO tour.

residency options part 2

ALL of the things we had tried to mentally prepare for were not even what ended up happening.

So what DID happen?

From what we could tell, Andy did not get one of the 10 OB spots, or even a family medicine intern year, but rather a transitional year which is a year that rotates you through a bunch of specialties.  Because the location was blank, it looked like Andy would have to track down his own placement for the year.

That was BAD NEWS.

He had two local civilian interviews just in case he got Civilian Deferred, but they only had 3 year family residency programs, so as much as they liked him, he couldn’t do a transitional year at either of those hospitals.  He would have to pound the pavement to find a hospital that DID have transitional years available and he’d have to apply for one of them late in the game.

We’d lose our military salary and health benefits for the year.  It looked like Andy may even become a less desirable candidate for an OB spot after this kind of intern year.

We were crushed.

Then our minds started reeling about how he could possibly be in the bottom 50 of hundreds of Navy med students (the Navy took on 50 more students than residency spots PERIOD last year – DUMB). How could he with all of his outstanding scores and recommendations and interviews come in so dead last in this selection process?

One of my exact statements was, “Do the other students who got spots poop rainbows or something??? What makes them better than YOU??”

It was a very hard night.

We grieved and hugged and prayed and shed tears (me).

I felt like God forgot about us.  I felt like He was looking over His shoulder like, “Oh yeahhh, I was supposed to do something there, wasn’t I?”

I know that is not true.

That’s the voice of the enemy whispering to me that God isn’t good.  That He is holding out on me.

The same voice that Eve heard in the garden when she had everything she could have ever wanted and needed and the serpent convinced her that God was holding out on her by forbidding the fruit of that one tree.

“You better take things into your own hands, because God is holding out on you.”

LIES.

I know it.  I believe it.

So we asked God for peace.  We told Him that as hard as it was, we were going to trust Him anyway.

With as much uncertainty as there was, we were going to trust that He had a plan for all of it.

After very little sleep for me and practically none for Andy that night, we woke up on Thursday and the news hung heavy in the air.  Andy went down to shower before work and he came back up quicker than he should have.

Turns out he logged into the system again, kind of like looking in the fridge over and over hoping something new and delicious will suddenly appear when you’re hungry.  You know how that is, right?

AND THIS TIME THERE WAS MORE INFO.

Location: Walter Reed Naval Hospital – Bethesda, MD

OMG!

Again I was asking, “What does that mean?? Is it for real? Will it disappear?”

I peppered Andy with questions and he didn’t know why the new info was there now and not the night before, but another one of his military friends experienced the same thing…no location at midnight but it populated Thursday morning.

This news was for real!

We are moving to Bethesda, MD in June!

The relief that washed over us was palpable.  We were not stragglers having to carve out a way for next year.  Andy was not in the bottom 50.

In fact, Bethesda, MD was our first choice location for an OB intern year.  They only have 2 spots, but from what we can gather, even though they didn’t give one of those to Andy, it seems they didn’t want to let him go, so he got a transitional intern year there.

It’s a fantastic facility.  It’s where they took President Reagan when he was shot (fun fact).   It’s near DC and it’s only about 8.5 hours from where we live in Michigan, so it won’t be too hard to drive back to MI for visits as we adjust to living away from our friends and family.

Getting this news was like entering Oz and having our world turn to color.

The emotional roller coaster we had been on in those 12 hours was harrowing.

Getting a bit of good news was so wonderful.

But I have to be honest, we are still grieving a bit.

Andy really really really wanted to get an OB intern year.  We would have happily gone to any of the 3 locations for him to have one.  Doing a transitional year makes us nervous.  We don’t know how this will factor into him ultimately getting an OB residency.

He may still have to do a GMO tour.  He may not get an OB residency and have to switch specialties (which is so sad to me because he’s worked so hard and done so well and may not get to do what he really wants to do).

Next year at this time we will be frantically logging into the site again to find out our fate again.

For now we are trusting God and processing the news and researching the areas in and around Bethesda.  We are hoping and praying that Andy will make a fantastic impression this next year and they will just have to have him in their OB program for the following 3 years.

If you’ve made it this far (I’m sorry this was SOO LONG) thank you for caring about our journey.  Thank you for reading my ramblings and for caring about our story.

I’m excited to see what God has for us and I’m excited to blog about all of it :)

bethesda heart

 

 


3 Day Countdown to the Rest of Our Lives

December 13th, 2015

Ok, that title is probably a little dramatic, but STILL I cannot believe we are only 3 days away from knowing where Andy will be doing his residency.

I cannot wait, and I don’t want to know.

I’m crazy, I know.

Part of me is dying to find out so that I can imagine the next chapter of our life.  How far from Michigan we will be.  What kind of neighborhoods and homes will be options.  The climate of our destination.  What life might look like.

BUT, the other part of me kind of likes not knowing.  If we don’t have a destination, it all feels less real.  If I don’t know where I’m going, theres’s no use thinking about leaving.  It keeps me in the “now” which is a good thing for a futuristic thinker like me.

It’s probably also a form of putting my head in the sand over the whole issue.

In a few days I won’t have to debate about knowing or not knowing.  I’ll just know.

It gives me heart palpitations just typing that out!

Andy is an outstanding candidate, so I feel confident he’ll be placed somewhere great and land a residency in his desired specialty (OB).  Every interview he’s had has gone extremely well.  All of the programs and staff members really like him and are impressed by his scores and recommendations.  He’s just so awesome, you guys.

I’m beyond thankful he had the courage to pursue a career as a physician when I kind of tried to talk him out of it.  I nudged him toward something that might be more practical for his age, like being a PA or Nurse.

Those are both terrific career options, but he couldn’t shake the desire to become a doctor.  Despite the fact he was already 30 and would need a few years of pre-reqs before even applying to med school.  Despite the fact we were about to have our first child.  Despite the fact it would cost a bunch of time and money.

He decided to overcome all those obstacles to pursue a dream that took a long time to discover.  I’m so very proud of him for that.

His decision made a whole world of things possible for us.

Becoming a doctor is a big deal.  It requires a lot of hard work, discipline, patience, endurance, stamina, commitment, and determination.  I can see why so many people don’t do it.

I thought about going to med school when I was first starting my degree in Biology, but I talked myself out of it, not thinking I had what it takes.  Andy’s decision to do it and his subsequent success has made me see it is possible!  I look back and don’t have regrets at all, but I see that I really could have done it if I wanted it bad enough.  That gives me hope that when I do want to do something that seems “too big” or “too hard” I should go for it!

I’m hoping our kids feel like their dreams are more possible when they hear the nuts and bolts of their dad’s brave story.  I think his overcoming will inspire them to overcome obstacles to their own dreams.  What a cool gift to give your kids…

Ok, so you may be wondering where we could end up.  The answer to that is a little complicated…perhaps a visual aid would help.

residency options

Yes, I’m a nerd! LOL

Let me break down the visual:

The first year of residency is called an “Intern” year.

Andy could get an OB Intern year (his first choice of all options) and we would likely end up staying in that location (see green box above) for the full 4 year residency.

Andy may have to take a Family Medicine Intern year (see blue box) and then complete 3 years of OB residency in one of the green box locations.

It’s possible that he could be “Civilian Deferred” which means he did not secure a military residency in either Family Med or OB and he would do his full residency here in Michigan (sounds good from the friends and family standpoint, but would be a big bummer for Andy).  I don’t think this option is very likely because Andy is a stellar candidate.

It’s also possible that he could get a Family Intern year (see blue box) and then there still wouldn’t be an OB residency spot (green box) for him yet so he could do a 2 year GMO (General Medical Officer) tour (who knows where!) and THEN go on to do his 3 year OB residency.

As you can see, a LOT is up in the air.  On Wednesday we are really only learning about our next 1 year (unless he gets an OB intern year which would likely roll right into the other 3 years at the same spot).  I’m hoping the more complicated options above are NOT what we get, but I honestly trust God has things in mind for us that will be good no matter what.

Ok, I’ve gone on and on, but you may be wondering what determines where we go.

Let’s look at another visual:

where we are going

As you can see, a few things come into play.  We were able to rank our top 3 choices, but that doesn’t just mean we get one of those.  How Andy performed during his interviews and what the Navy needs are both factored in.

At this point I really hope we get Bethesda, MD or Portsmouth, VA because they are in Andy’s preferred specialty and they are on the East Coast so we could drive back to MI to visit.

In 3 days time we’ll know.

Until then, I’m trying to be patient, stay present, and trust God.

I’ll keep you posted!!

 


Happy First Birthday Little Man

December 10th, 2015

Andrew James Gould.

You are ONE year old today!

It’s gone by in the blink of an eye and it’s been a year full of joy.

You were a happy baby from the start, and I felt compelled to pray over you, “May the joy of the Lord be your strength as you grow from boy to man.”

Somehow I think joy will be your strength and when you flash me that silly face you make, I can almost see into the future when you’re a teenage boy cracking us all up.

drew is one mischevious smile

You are a delight to your dad and me.  We didn’t feel a void when we had only your two sisters, but then you came along and filled a space in our hearts we didn’t even know was there.  You are a wonderful boy and you are so very loved.

drew is one serious face

That full head of ever-blonding hair and those sparkling blue eyes make my knees weak and I’m sure will attract the girls when you’re older.  You better tell them there’s only room for one woman in your life and it’s me! ;)

This morning we celebrated simply with pumpkin waffles and lots of “Happy birthdays” that made you smile every time like you knew what it meant!

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Photo Dec 10, 9 34 07 AM

This afternoon you played with some old toys that felt new again after we gathered all their pieces from around the house as we purged other toys.  You are finally feeling better after having the same feverish bout of roseola that Avery had right before she was one.  Crazy that you both had it and I’m so glad it’s gone!

I missed my happy boy :)

drew is one toothy pic

drew is one serious face door pic

We love you Dewey and we cannot wait to watch you learn and grow this year!!

drew is one


Grasping

December 7th, 2015

Well, here I am.  Finally sitting down to write even though I’ve been itching to for weeks.  Getting started is the hardest part.   I need to sit down and set a timer and just write nonsense everyday.  That might get me into a groove of writing regularly.  It’s good for my soul, and even more than that, I feel called to do it.

Hearing people say things like “I feel called to write” usually makes me judgey.  It sounds arrogant to me.  I think, “Why do you think anyone cares about what you have to say?”

I also think that of myself when I feel the urge to write.  Who cares what I have to say?

If that doesn’t sound like the voice of the enemy, I don’t know what does.  He’s called our accuser.  He accuses us of being not enough and entirely too much.

When the whispers come that say, “Who do you think you are?” or “If only you were more _____” or “You need to try harder” or “You are too much for others to handle” or “You need to tone down who you are because it makes people uncomfortable” we should automatically realize that is the voice of our enemy.  The one HELL BENT on our misery and destruction.

The voice of The One who loves us is always speaking grace and mercy and love.

There is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take GREAT DELIGHT in you; He will quiet you with his love, He will REJOICE OVER YOU with singing.

Those are words of life and rest.

Those are words I must still be struggling to truly believe.

My ear is too often tuned to the voice of my accuser rather than the voice of my Good Shepherd.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve heard these verses.  I can recite them from memory.  They are familiar and comforting.

But are they changing my life? Are they renewing my mind?

Am I truly believing them?

TRULY?

Gandhi said:

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

I believe this progression to be true.

Our beliefs determine our destiny.  Or in plainer words, they determine our lives.

If we say we believe something but it isn’t radically affecting the way we think and live our lives, then do we really, truly believe it?

I argue no.

If I believe in a holy God who is good and sovereign and promises to make all things right for all eternity and who sent part of Himself to earth to pay the ultimate price for my wickedness so that He could wash me clean with mercy, then shouldn’t that affect the way I LIVE?

YES.

It should, and honestly it does.

But I still find myself going through seasons of grasping.

Of tuning out the voice of my Good Shepherd who speaks Truth and Life to me and tuning instead to the voice of my flesh or my enemy.

This causes me to grasp for comfort and satisfaction and mind-numbing entertainment.

It causes me to want, no, need that family party to be fun and special and warm and fuzzy.

It causes me to drink another glass of beer and eat one more helping of dinner and a rich dessert, looking to satiate an ache, not in my belly, but in my spirit.

It causes me to camp out on the couch and lose myself in a TV show to vicariously experience the family and friend and neighbor experiences that I long for, but don’t have.

It causes me to make craft after craft after craft, scratching not my itch for creativity, but for wholeness.  An itch that was set into my heart by my Creator, the One I should seek first.

It causes me to become irrationally angry that my camera was on the wrong setting and the christmas tree picking family pictures didn’t turn out.  It causes me to be deeply upset that I don’t have the perfect shot of my perfect-looking family smiling happily doing the perfectly Chirstmassy thing of choosing the perfect tree.

Ugh.

know better and yet I still grasp.  I go to all of those other things instead of to my Heavenly Father.

Then, I beat myself up for knowing better and not doing the right thing in spite of my ambivalence.

Again, the enemy pushes us down and kicks us when we get there.

Not once is God giving me the side eye while I grasp and grasp to have my needs met.  Not once is He whispering that I better straighten up and fly right.

As my beloved Marijo says, “God is not standing at the corner of punishment and control.  God is at the corner of mercy and restoration.”

He longs to soak us in a warm bath of mercy and to restore us.  To transform us with His love!

Talk about good news.

That’s it!

The good news isn’t “Believe in Jesus or go to hell.”

There’s so much more.  God is inviting us to wake up to His truth and to soak in His Mercy and to be transformed.

He’s inviting us to His grand feast.

Inside the love of God, the party is happening.  It’s all around, but we find ourselves dwelling on stupid crap.  The party is not in us.

We need to remember that we are loved, forgiven, and restored. We don’t earn the presence of God by our good behavior; self-righteousness cannot live in the presence of God.

Lord, please continue to humble me.  Help me to KNOW that I cannot earn your good gifts.  Help me to understand that I’m already completely known and perfectly loved.

I believe Lord, help my unbelief.


Addicted To Felt

November 22nd, 2015

Oh my goodness you guys.

I was feeling crafty the other day and started browsing things I’d pinned ages ago on Pinterest and I stumbled across this one.  I thought it would be fun to grab a few things from Joann’s to start making some of these felt “busy bags” to help entertain the girls in the afternoon, or Avery while Grace and I are doing school.

LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT I’D BECOME COMPLETELY ADDICTED TO FELT CUTTING.

It started innocently enough…

A little “under the sea” set with a few fish and some seaweed.

Photo Nov 16, 8 08 41 PM

Then it was a butterfly set to mix and match…

Photo Nov 16, 8 08 20 PM

It was fun snipping away at the table, listening to music and creating things the girls would have fun with.

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A fun rainbow that they love singing the “Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, it’s a rainbow!” song while putting together :)

A Christmas tree…

Photo Nov 16, 8 09 09 PM

Then I started making the face set and that’s where everything went a little crazy!

The original post shows this fun and silly pic:

faces

So I got started making our own face set.  I knew the girls would really only want to put together girl faces, so I started with a couple of girls…

Photo Nov 18, 12 40 40 PM

And I got hooked! It’s been so fun to create different hair, jewelry, eyes, lips and shirts!

Photo Nov 18, 12 52 39 PM
Grace love love loves fashion, so we decided it would be fun to make some smaller people with clothing…

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She has a “go-to” outfit that she pretty much wears all the time: purple tank top, leopard print cardigan, black pants and brown riding boots.  So naturally we had to create a “mini-Grace” felt girl :)

Photo Nov 19, 2 29 24 PM

I started texting my sister photos of our creations and she suggested that I make felt people representing her and her long-haired, bearded husband.

As soon as she said that, I immediately became intrigued with the idea of making a beard! LOL

I’m hooked I tell you, totally hooked!

Photo Nov 19, 2 45 26 PM

My sister joked with me about making a felt lipstick, so I had to oblige :) But I couldn’t stop there, so I did a whole makeup set!

Photo Nov 20, 1 29 59 PM (1)

The original post had a fun plate and utensil set that inspired me to make some felt food.  I may have gotten a little carried away!

Photo Nov 21, 4 32 11 PM

The craziest thing about all of this is that I cannot draw.  Like, AT ALL.

I put pencil to paper and pretty much come up with stick figures or very distorted images.  I just cannot seem to turn what’s in my head into anything remotely close on the page.

But with felt, and no tracing or templates whatsoever, I’m somehow able to create things that look like what I’m imagining!

Free hand!  Just a blank sheet of felt and my sharp little scissors and this fun stuff comes together!  I’m pretty much in shock that it turns out at all, let alone looking like what I imagine!

I cannot stop laughing at how funny it is that I’m a 35 year old woman who is enamored with cutting things out of felt, but it is what it is and I’m having fun!

My sister can’t stop laughing about it either which makes me laugh even more!

Photo Nov 22, 12 58 55 PM

Plus, the girls really do like to play with the sets which makes it feel like a worthwhile pursuit and not just a waste of time!

Every time I think I’ve probably finished making everything I want to make, I get an inspiration to do something else!  LOL

So, there you have it.  I may not have blogged in the past 2 weeks and I may have a million and one deep and emo things that are on my mind and that I want to dissect here on the blog, but I’m too busy cutting things out of felt!

I’ll hopefully be back soon with a life update and a few recipes…

If you don’t hear from me, you can assume I’m sitting at my dining room table snipping away like Edward Scissorhands!

edward scissorhands meme


Lately in Pictures

November 6th, 2015

I made a batch of Whole30 approved ranch dressing and paired it with hot sauce on top of my salad yesterday.  YUMMM!

Photo Nov 01, 3 39 55 PM

Perhaps you’re sensing the buffalo sauce theme? These roasted buffalo cauliflower bites were tasty!

We’ll THAT’S not going to end well! Yesterday I grabbed a plate instead of a mug…thankfully I caught myself before making a giant mess!

Photo Nov 04, 4 36 24 PM

This warm fall weather has been glorious.  We’ve been spending every evening outside waiting for Andy to get home.  Drew thinks he’s hot stuff getting to roam around the yard and I get to read my library book while everyone is happy playing :)

Photo Nov 04, 2 03 04 PM

Photo Nov 04, 2 04 27 PM

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We went apple picking the other day and it was wonderful.  I love the cider mill on weekdays!  No crowds to make me cranky. LOL  We scored a half bushel of apples and have been working our way through them.  I have plans to make an apple pie with this yummy crust sometime next week.  I even want to try a lattice top!  We’ll see how that goes…

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Andy didn’t dress up for Halloween, but it struck me at dinner that night how much he looked like the love child of the Brawny guy and Mr. Clean! HAHAHAHAHA!

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The kids are all SOOOO HAPPY to have their daddy back.  The other morning Avery came downstairs and over to our bedside.  Andy was already out of the house and she asked me where daddy was.  I told her he was at work and she started crying, “Is he coming bacccckkkk???”  It was SO SWEET.  I assured her he would be home for dinner and she was very relieved.  How precious.

Always chewing on something….greeting cards are no exception!

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My sweet babies in their costumes! Sophia the First, Unicorn and Monkey.  Drew held onto that banana the whole time!  These kids are such a delight :)

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Eggs and grits for breakfast means grits end up everywhere!  It’s a good thing she’s so cute, because she’s also the messiest!

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I’ve got a pretty big obsession with Usborne books!!  I attended a Facebook party a couple weeks ago and just hosted my own last week.  My order is scheduled to arrive today and I’m more excited than the kids are for the new books!  This mermaid one was for Avery, but Drew really likes it too :)
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This girl LOVES to swing!  The higher the better.

Playground play pen :)

Another fan of the swings :)

Avery’s face!! LOL

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Somebody pinch me…

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Grace is all about the “off the shoulder” look. LOL

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He’s a morning person.  I am not.

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It’s always a treat when elusive Avery joins me in the morning :) Especially when she falls asleep instead of begging for cereal.

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He’s always on the move and often finds himself in odd spots!

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Just a FEW of Avery’s fuzzes.  I need to dedicate an entire post to these.  Oh my word.

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Had to capture a random moment of gratitude.  This was before Andy was home, but it was at a time I was realizing just how much God had been with me the whole time.  Loving me in tangible and intangible ways.  I want to get to those places of gratitude SOONER in the future.

 


Lessons Learned

November 2nd, 2015

Photo Oct 31, 12 13 18 PM
 

Andy is finally home after being gone almost all of the past 2 months!!!!

I can’t even tell you how happy we are, I am, to have him home.  The kids have missed their daddy and I have missed my best friend.

I didn’t even realize how lonely I was until I had him home again.  To talk to, listen to, laugh with, show funny internet memes to, hold hands with, cuddle with, even to cook for!

The past couple of months have been very challenging, but also incredibly eye-opening.  Here are some lessons I’ve learned…I don’t want to forget these things:

I’m not as strong as I’d like to think I am.  Sure, I can handle everything and manage to get by, but I didn’t survive these months without some very humbling low points.  I need my husband.  I need other people’s help, support, and encouragement in my life.  I need God so.much.more than I realize.

Doing everything by myself these past months has proved to me that I can do everything by myself.  Stick with me on this for a minute… I learned that it’s physically possible. Not that I should do it alone, but I can.  I think I was subconsciously always trying to prove that to myself and to Andy.  I think it’s why I resisted his help and why I always felt guilty when he would do anything with the kids or around the house.  I know I’m a little crazy, but somehow now that I’ve “proven” this to us both, I don’t feel pressure to have to be so independent and stubborn anymore!  I treasure his help now, and I’ve learned how much I need it and how important it is that I get away from my “job” from time to time.  Being a mom who is on duty 100% of the time handling everything alone and never getting away from her job isn’t virtuous.  It’s a recipe for disaster.

God will raise up people around me even if they’re not the ones I expected.  I spent too much time being hurt that I didn’t hear from certain family members during this trying time, and that caused me to be temporarily blind to the lovely people that DID step in to care for me.  The texts from friends asking how I was holding up were priceless.  I didn’t need anyone to come over to do chores, but knowing someone was thinking of me was such an encouragement to my heart.  A dear mentor had yummy treats delivered to the house.  A kind neighbor stopped over during the evening ‘witching hour’ to bring little things for the kids or feed Drew so I could eat dinner or just chat since I hadn’t had an adult conversation all day.  A sweet woman from church told me week after week to pick a morning for her to come over for a couple of hours so I could leave the house alone.  A friend convinced me to come over in my pajamas with all the kids to hang out on a rainy day and her continuous generosity has inspired me to be a better woman. These were women I didn’t expect to be the ones to support me, but whose tangible love touched me so deeply.

I have to be ok with letting certain things go. It’s OK to tell the kids they have to go play on their own so that I can do something that fills me up or even just have some quiet time.  I don’t have to make a big dinner every night, we can eat simple and fast things that are healthy, but uncomplicated.  Dishes can wait until the next morning.  School can take place in the afternoon.  People can come over when the house is a mess.  I can push and push and push to make everything happen the way I think it should, or I can let go and breathe deep knowing that I’m perfectly loved despite all those things.

Facetime sucks. I’ve said it before, but Facetime is one of my least favorite things ever!!  The kids can be totally fine and the minute a Facetime call initiates they turn into little monsters.  Hogging the screen, pushing and shoving, gathering up 101 items to “show dad” up close in the camera.  Drew grabs at the screen, threatening to end the call.  Grace thinks she’s the only person in the universe.  Avery runs away and won’t come back.  It’s always too dark on my end and I can never get all of our faces on the screen, AND I forever have an odd scowl and 4 chins.  No thank you.  There’s nothing like REAL face time and I’m so glad Andy is home so we get a break from that special form of technological torture!

Prayer is powerful. I mentioned that I had some very humbling low points while Andy was gone and those usually involved me losing my temper with the kids.  I would try so hard to be patient and kind and gentle and they would keep pushing and whining and arguing and I would just lose it and start yelling.  I don’t think of myself as an angry person, but this crazy rage would bubble up inside me and spill out in these intense moments.  I came from a home where yelling wasn’t uncommon and I decided I did not want that to be the kind of home my children grew up in.  I’m all about authentically expressing hurt, anger, disappointment and sadness, but I do not think it has to happen in the form of yelling and screaming.  It’s scary and unnecessary.  No amount of self-control seems to be enough in the moments you’re on the brink, but there is something that helps…prayer.  I didn’t cry out to God fast enough in some of my rough moments, but there was always an opportunity to gather my babies into my arms and pray aloud to God for forgiveness, mercy and grace.  This practice would supernaturally change the emotional thermostat in our home.  In fact, it was so powerful that Grace began praying aloud for us all when things even started to get tense.  Her little child heart saw God’s goodness and it strengthened her faith and now, even through tears, she asks for prayer or just prays on her own, when things get hard.  I cannot even tell you how happy this makes me.  I pray she continues to believe God so earnestly.

Photo Oct 31, 5 22 34 PM
 

My husband is absolutely positively top-notch.  You know the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”?  Well, I experienced that first hand.  I have certainly been grateful for Andy throughout our marriage…he’s a great guy, and I’ve always known that.  I’ve been particularly thankful for him the past few years for sticking with me despite my many failures.  Somehow I don’t think I quite understood just how incredible he is until this stretch of time away from him.  It’s been a combination of having him gone, seeing and hearing about circumstances around me, and I’m sure the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, but man alive I see what an absolute gem he is and I’m humbled that he is mine.  I think it becomes easy to take for granted what we have…to get into relational ruts…to become petty and ungrateful…to focus on things we wish were different.  I was sliding down that slope this summer in some ways.  With so many changes happening in our life, I think we’ve both experienced some inner turmoil, and that never really brings out the best in how we relate to each other.  The time away was a really good reset and I don’t want to lose sight of the serious blessing that he is in my life!  I love you, babe.

 

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