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!

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.25.20 PM

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.

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Then it was a butterfly set to mix and match…

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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…

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

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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 :)

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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 :)

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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.

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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.

 


These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (lately!)

October 21st, 2015

I’m happy to have a lighter post today…I’ve been pretty darn emo the past couple of months and I’d like nothing more than to post a few fun things and some food!  I’ve got to get back in the habit of blogging recipes…that was one of my favorite things to do here :)

Back, by popular demand (I’m looking at you Aunt Becky!) is a list of what I’m loving lately…

This FREE fall printable that I stuck inside one of my new IKEA frames.  Click HERE to print it for yourself!

free fall printable

Here it is on the shelf I just bought and hung the other day :)

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I’m also loving that cute little evergreen in the white pot (also IKEA)…it smells like Christmas!  That is until I kill it! #blackthumb

Fall sights are best accompanied by fall scents and I’m thrilled to have a safe way to make our home smell great now that I’m using essential oils!  I love a good vanilla or pumpkin spice candle as much as the next gal, but my asthma is really aggravated by fragrance, so I’ve either gone without or tried to use scented candles sparingly.  This year I can pump the house full of awesome fall scents and not be negatively affected at all.  Double bonus!

These two combos have been my favorites lately!

fall oil combos

L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation

loreal foundation

My sister has slowly been converting me into a makeup junkie! I’ve always had fun wearing a little makeup to spruce things up, but I never knew about high-end products or the latest and greatest drugstore items until she got me hooked on a few makeup YouTube channels.  Now I’m in and it’s been fun to discover new things that work for me.  I really love this foundation.  It has good coverage without being too heavy.  It’s very matte, so if you have really dry skin this probably wouldn’t be great for you.  In fact, I’m already bumming out that I might have to switch to something else over the winter when my face gets super dry!  This formula goes on very nicely, especially when I dot it around my face and tap it in with a damp Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge to blend and cover everything.  This little sponge is awesome.  No cake face or harsh lines near your neckline when you use it to apply your foundation!

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That beings said, I also highly recommend this cleanser to keep the sponge in tip-top shape!  It’s incredible how it unlocks all the foundation built up in the sponge.  I wash mine about every 3rd day.

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This Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara in Very Black.  Oh my goodness I love this mascara!  I know that mascara is one of those things that everyone seems to have their preferences about.  I really like lengthening mascara since my eyes are extremely hooded.  I just want my lashes to be able to peek out from under my hoods! That being said, I also like to have extra volume too.  This mascara delivers both for me and even adds a little curl from the shape of the wand.  It’s not waterproof but wears very well and has withstood some pretty serious tears!

lash sensational

These Gubbrora rubber spatulas from IKEA.  They are so awesome!  They don’t come apart, so you don’t get nasty build up in the rubber part from not drying properly.

rubber spatula

They are also heat resistant so you can use them to perfectly cook scrambled eggs without losing any egg to the edges of the pan or melting the tip of the spatula into a gooey mess!  That’s my #1 favorite use for them and I may have stocked up during my last trip to IKEA.  At $2.99 each, you can’t go wrong.

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I’ve mentioned before that I hoard cutting boards.  I also hoard rubber spatulas!  I’m forever scraping yogurt out of the tub or peanut butter from the bottom of the jar or my scrambled eggs out of the bowl or around the pan.  Ain’t nobody got time for washing between each use, so I just have a bunch on hand :)

This t shirt from Target.  You cannot tell from the photograph at all, but this shirt rocks.  It’s soft and drapey and the neckline is flattering without being too low, and the slouchy pocket adds a casual yet trendy flare.  It doesn’t cling to your midsection and it’s long enough to cover my booty so I can wear it with leggings.  I’m obsessed.  I have 2 right now (smoked plum and teal wave) and it’s taking everything in me not to order two more (probably oatmeal heather and dark gray).  I noticed that some of the colors have a v-neck, but I prefer the scoop neck!

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Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee

I was skeptical about this one, but the newsletter mentioned that it sold out every year so I was intrigued enough to grab a can!  Nothing like a little supply/demand drama to get a girl to run to the store.  LOL

It’s a medium bodied coffee ground with pumpkin spices and it’s really tasty.  Whole30 converted me to taking my coffee black, and this is a fun way to be seasonal without crap laden creamer!  Woo hoo!

97234-pumpkin-spice-coffee

While we were at TJ’s stocking up on pumpkin foods (thanks to the convincing seasonal newsletter and the absence of Dr. Gould who is not a fan of pumpkin foods) I also impulsively grabbed a jar of their Pumpkin Butter. As I grabbed the jar, I honestly thought it might be a total waste and end up dying in the fridge for 6 months before getting thrown away, but NO!

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It’s good!  Like really super yummy on top of the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread.  I like to make pumpkin bread from scratch, but the box was super easy and didn’t contain creepy ingredients AND came together in no time flat.  My girls LOVE having “special breakfasts” like pancakes or cinnamon rolls or sweet breads, so this was a big hit with them.  The bread on it’s own it fairly subtle and not overly sweet (which I appreciate) but a light slathering of this pumpkin butter takes it over the top!  YUM!  I imagine it would also be good on toast.

My fall porch decor…especially the new IKEA lanterns!

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This is not my porch, but I kind of wish it was my winter porch,  so I’m including the picture!  Also, to include both lantern sizes.

This is our last fall in this house ::insert overly emotional sobbing:: and as much as I ADORE fall, I’ve only decorated outside for it once or twice in the 9 years we’ve lived here.  Although we are well into October, I had to go for it this year and I’m so happy I did!

Photo Oct 19, 5 27 48 PM

The hay bale, pumpkins, mums, and gourds were purchased from a roadside tent.  The pewter lantern was hanging under our back patio all summer, and the two black lanterns are from IKEA.  Yes, I might have an IKEA problem…what’s it to you?! Lol

fall porch collage

I could honestly sit here all night long posting favorite things, but I’m gonna wrap it up here and post again soon :)  As always I’d love to hear your recent favorites in the comments!

Happy Fall, Y’all!


A Note From The Trenches

October 20th, 2015

This post is LITERALLY 5 days in the making.  OMG I don’t even know how to describe the last week.  I just kept sitting down to write then erased it all then sat down again then got interrupted then came back and started up again.  Everything you are about to read is from about 4 different days, so take words like “yesterday” with a grain of salt.  LOL  I just really wanted to update this space, so I’m posting the madness.

I keep sitting down to blog and then I erase everything I’ve written because I’m not writing it for me.  I don’t know why it’s so hard to write for myself sometimes.

I sit down thinking I’m going to write to figure out what I’m thinking and then all of the sudden I’m explaining things to you.  That’s not inherently bad, but it’s not what I want this space to be about.

And it usually bores me.

Today I’m thankful that so far everything is better than it was yesterday.

Yesterday started out ok with the usual early wake up from Drew, followed by breakfast, homeschooling, and lunch.  We even did two kindergarten lessons to make up for our day off on Monday.  I arranged a meet-up at the playground with friends and we even had pumpkin spice tea and homemade apple bread as a little snack to warm us up after our cold park adventures.

Right after all that I started to get my afternoon twitch.  The one where I’m feeling irritable and impatient and desperately in need of an hour alone.  Even 30 minutes.

So, I got the little ones to lay down, let Grace do her own thing and I caught up on some emails before settling into some quiet time for myself.

Grace decided to do artwork at the table right next to me, so my email time was peppered with 101 questions, but I was pressing forward…I knew I could send her off to another room for another activity as soon as I was done with what I was working on.

Then Drew woke up.

Even suggesting that was upsetting makes me feel like the world’s crappiest mom because how could I not relish every minute with this adorably precious baby boy?

Photo Oct 13, 8 36 00 AM

But I’m just feeling weary.  He’s such a sweet boy, but he’s in a challenging phase right now, cutting a bunch of teeth, fighting a cold, wanting desperately to walk and explore.

He has a lot of needs and this mama feels all dried up.

The girls continue to struggle through learning how to share and be generous.  Making good strides and then appearing to forget everything they’ve ever been taught.  They are great playmates and fierce competitors.

The thing about 3 (or more I imagine!) is that someone always needs something.  Getting all 3 to overlap with anything is a challenge so it’s usually a relentless game of whack-a-mole.

I start each day ready.  I grab my figurative mallet, I give myself a pep talk about how strong and capable I am, and I hunch into my best whacking stance, ready to face the day.  Ready to whack every need that pops up, moving swiftly to prepare myself for the next one.

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Have you every played Whack-A-Mole?

whack a mole

It’s an uncanny metaphor for parenting.

Back to yesterday…I closed my laptop.  Prayed that God would have mercy on me.  Took a deep breath and scooped my boy from his crib.

Ironically he just woke up again early from his nap, so I’ve got to close the laptop again to get him.

Now I literally don’t even remember exactly what happened when I got him up from “nap” the other day, but I do remember that by about 4 o’clock I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Either that, or put all the kids to bed immediately and hide in the attic.  Seriously.

Instead, I piled us all into the car and made a trip to Salvation Army.  It’s nice to get out of the house and the girls love to play with all the random toys while I peruse the kids clothing racks.

Except that day.  They complained and whined and fussed.  They wanted me to buy them weird giant toys and they wouldn’t stop antagonizing each other.  Avery kept melting down about every.little.thing. and Drew squirmed in the cart the whole time.

I did score a pair of jeans for Aves, 2 winter coats for Drew (not sure whether he’ll keep growing like a weed so I grabbed a 12mo and 18mo…$3 each!) and a pair of gold high heels for Grace who is obsessed with all of my “glass slippers” and desperately needed a pair of her own.

You’d think everyone would be happy to get a little something new and get out of the store, but no.  More crying.  More fussing.

I pleaded with them to behave so we could get dinner at Coney (which they love) but they could not get it together.  They kept fighting and they wouldn’t listen to any of my instruction as we loaded back into the van.

And I lost it.

I’m so tired of parenting alone.  I’m so tired of them fighting all the time.  I’m so tired of the near constant whining and arguing with me.  I’m so tired of them not listening to what I’m saying to them.

So I yelled at them.  I told them we weren’t going to Coney for dinner and that it was all their fault.  I told them that I just wanted to have a fun Friday night, but that they ruined it.

Shameful, I know.

I shouldn’t have said anything.  I should have prayed and kept my mouth shut, but every single ounce of wisdom and self-control was nowhere to be found.

They all started crying hysterically.  The girls out of sadness and disappointment and Drew because the girls’ volume was freaking him out.

So I did what any wise and mature parent would do…I cranked the radio up to drown them out.

They got louder and complained about the loud music, so I turned it up louder.

I’m not proud of this.  I’m ashamed that 3 small and adorable people can turn me inside out and make me lose every shred of decency.

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I’m ashamed that I can’t just handle this better.

It doesn’t make any sense to me that I can normally handle the majority of the home and children responsibilities just fine, but now that Andy has been gone for nearly 2 months I feel like I can’t do it at all.

I struggle with weakness and dependence and these are both things I believe the Lord is nudging me about.

And by “nudging” I mean jabbing a hot poker into! Lol

We were nearly home from our loud and emotional car ride when I realized that ditching Coney meant I’d have to cook dinner.  I couldn’t handle that idea either, so I did what any health-conscious and nutrition-passionate mother would do…I drove through McDonald’s.

Two “chicken” nugget happy meals and a salad later, we were home again and eating together around the table.

I was still overwhelmed and feeling at capacity, but somehow the intensity had died down.

Bedtime routines were swift and effective and as I tucked the girls into bed, I spent a few minutes looking into each of their beautiful eyes and apologizing.  Telling them that I shouldn’t have yelled and made them feel bad.  Reminding them that we all make mistakes and that’s why we so desperately need Jesus.  Thanking Him, in front of them, for covering all of my yelling and anger and unkindness with his holy blood.  I asked for their forgiveness and I treasured their willingness to love me despite my many faults.

Avery just smiled and sucked her finger while picking fuzz on her blanket, but I could tell she felt better.  More peaceful and calm.

Grace told me that when things were going haywire in the van she, “prayed quietly in the back that Jesus would help all of us.”

With tears in my eyes I told her that’s the only thing that really helps when things get hard.  That God loves us SO MUCH and loves to hear our voices asking Him to help.

She wished aloud that she could see God and I told her I wished I could too.  I reminded her that He is all around her and always loving and watching over her.

She gets scared of the dark at bedtime, so I reminded her that the presence of the Lord hovered over her bed all night keeping her safe.  She had a joyful smile and reached her hand up into the air above her head…”Am I touching him, mom?”

Yes sweet girl, you are.

It was a holy moment.

What the enemy intended for evil and for division between me and my children and for wounds to strike their tender hearts, God turned to good.

When we open ourselves to God’s work in our hearts, our worst darkness becomes a place of mercy and grace.

That is precisely what happened that night and I’m so incredibly thankful and humbled by His goodness.

When I am weak, He is strong.

Hallelujah.


Are you there God? It’s me, Rebecca.

October 6th, 2015

Ok Lord. Here we are. Blank page. Full mind.

I’ve sent all the kids to the backyard for a little while because I just.can’t.deal.

I know YOU are the only thing that will satisfy and that you are all I need, but I’m struggling so hard to believe that today.

I feel like a hollow shell of a woman who just posted about Jesus Frosting and drinking deeply from your living water, and now has no idea what the hell to do with the near smothering anxiety and hopelessness I’m feeling.

You say you are faithful to complete your good work in me, but I cannot figure out how on earth that is going to happen. I’m so freaking dysfunctional.

I honestly feel like I may have a mental health issue. When do you know you need to be on meds?

Shamefully I’ve often looked at meds as a crutch. I’m such a judgmental wretch.

And here I sit at my kitchen table. It’s 2 oclock on a random Tuesday and I’ve already cried twice today. I know I need you but instead of laying prostrate on the floor with my bible, I ran to pita bread and feta cheese and a strong stout.

In a moment of wisdom, I put my phone and library book down and listened to Bethel’s Come To Me on repeat.

You are my anchor in the wind and the waves. You are my steadfast and I won’t be afraid. Though my heart and flesh fail me, you’re my faithful strength. You are with me wherever I go. So Jesus, I come to you because you’re all I need. I come to you for everything. I come to you cuz you’re all I need. I come to you for everything.

Through bites of cheese and bread and heaving sobs, I felt like I had a moment with you. As though maybe, just maybe, my doubt was unfounded. That you maybe are all I need. I begged you to help me. To do your work in me despite myself. To open me up and to dig deep inside and fix my brokenness. To help me to really know you not just know cool stuff about you and how you operate in other people’s lives.

A couple weeks ago at church they suggested God isn’t looking for perfection, just devotion and that’s freaking good news for me!

I’m terrifically imperfect. But I think I am devoted.

Even as frustrated as I got today, I felt myself clinging to you…even just by a skinny thread.

I even wanted to let go of you, but something inside wouldn’t let me.

Maybe it was devotion.

Definitely it was your tender mercy.

The kids all came inside and the littles went down for nap. I gave Grace the ipad, pushing aside the guilt of that maneuver the best I could, and I crawled into bed and burrowed under all of my heaviest covers. I read a little of my library book and then I just weakly called out to you and closed my eyes.

A little while later a random kid song from the ipad woke me up and I then I heard Drew stirring in his crib. We had to get outside. I had to brush my teeth and put on a bra and breathe some fresh air.

So we walked around the block. It wasn’t magical, but it was necessary.

We came home and the girls had fun pushing Drew around the backyard while I threw dinner into the oven. We all ate while Facetiming with Andy.

I always wish Facetime went better. That the kids could all be onscreen, that I would have only one chin and no bags under my eyes, that the connection wouldn’t fail right as I was spilling my guts. You know, complicated stuff like that.

At one point I just couldn’t take it anymore so I got up and crawled back into bed. They ended the call and Drew got stuck under the piano bench so I came to his rescue. We somehow managed to move through the bedtime process without me crawling back into bed or yelling at anyone. #victory

Once the girls were in bed I started on the dishes and collecting the trash and recycling to put out on the curb. Turns out Drew wasn’t so ready to go to bed yet so I fetched him from his crib and let him play in the living room. He was clearly tired and began bumping into things as he was crawling around. That poor little noggin is getting its share of hard knocks lately. I cradled him in my arms to comfort him, and in typical fashion he struggled to get away from me.

Why couldn’t I get ONE cuddly baby? Why?

I walked him into his room, cleared 101 toys from his rocking chair and cuddled him with his blankie, begging God to let me have a sweet moment with my boy. Begging God to settle Drew just enough for a few short cuddles and a little enjoyment instead of the constant movement and climbing and straining to get down.

But no.

No cuddles were to be had, and I felt all alone.

Like I was reaching out with my whole heart to God from the song time earlier to the dark bedroom with Drew and God wasn’t responding.

I know He cares and I know He’s not some genie in a lamp, but I was desperately wishing he’d just throw me a bone. Give me some little inkling that He saw me.

I finished up the dishes and got the trash out to the curb, and I puzzled in my mind how my Good Father could seem so freaking far away.

I figured it was my fault. That my faith was just weak today and maybe tomorrow would be better.

Earlier I’d posted an ugly picture of myself on Instagram. I felt compelled to show where I really was…a red-eyed mess of tears wearing a bathrobe and not a stitch of makeup in the middle of the day. This was in contrast to my normal M.O. which takes 14 selfies to get one that makes me look pretty. I included a Dietrich Bonheoffer quote and hit “share” before I could chicken out.

That post garnered an outpouring of love that really touched my heart. People letting me know I wasn’t alone and offering prayers and reminders of God’s grace. It was such a gracious response to a very raw portrait.

I wondered if maybe God was gently nudging me with their words.

Then a couple of dear women texted me, offering conversation and care and solutions to the many things stressing me out at the moment. They really wanted to help me. They truly cared and weren’t just doing a good deed.

As cheesy as it may sound, they made me want to be a better woman.

They made me want to stand up more often to help and encourage other people. To ask enough questions to find a need and then to joyfully meet it. To put hands and feet on the loving and kind God we serve.

I’m humbled to be His daughter. I’m humbled to be surrounded by so many sweet examples of His goodness.

He hasn’t forgotten about me. He cares. He sees me.


Jesus Frosting

October 4th, 2015

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been in a weird place lately.  I didn’t elaborate much because I wasn’t even sure what to say.

I’m probably still not totally sure, but I am committing myself to speaking out more.  To telling my story.  To sharing my perspective.  To contributing to the epic narrative by saying my lines.

There’s no bravery in shrinking back and staying quiet and hiding out on the sidelines with a million things on your mind and no balls to say them.

So here I am.

It’s embarrassing for me to even start like that.  I’ve written multiple posts about how I have so much to say and how I feel my words are trapped inside me and I’m going to let them out.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It’s always the same thing after that….maybe one or two heartfelt posts and then radio silence.  Still putting words to my thoughts every single day, but shrinking back from posting any of them.

After finishing Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, I had a revelation…

I enjoy writing enough that I feel it’s worth doing even if no one ever cares and even if people think it’s crap or that I’m a narcissist.  Writing is one of the few things that brings me to tears.  I cannot get my hands on enough writing about writing and I’m moved deep inside when I think or dream about writing and much of the time when I sit down to write.  So I’m just going to do it.  For real this time.

Why am I even telling you this???

I have consciously decided not to care what you think.  This is nearly impossible for me, but I’m making the decision.

In fact, much of the odd place I’ve been in lately is a little prison of my own making.  The prison of worrying about what I should be doing or how I should be living or how I am living looks to the world at large.

The best part is…no one even cares!

Ha!

I’ve heard the quote a million times, but I’m finally starting to believe it.

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

you wouldnt worry

Thank you Eleanor.

I’m convinced I also wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of me if I realized what God really does.

That He fully knows me and deeply loves me.

THAT is what life is made of.

I’m so grateful for my church.  Grateful that I somehow managed to get myself and the 3 kids there at 9am despite the fact we all got out of bed at 8:27am.

That right there was a straight miracle.

And there was even room for Drew in the nursery, which is not always the case.

The Lord must have known I needed a little uninterrupted time to hear from Him.  That I needed to be reminded of the truth.

Life is to be found in Christ.  Not anywhere else.

The most interesting thing about this idea is, I thought I knew it.

I thought my heart knew it, not just my mind.

But it turns out I had forgotten.

Maybe not even so much that I’d forgotten, but I thought I was going to Him for life.

I thought because I knew life was only to be truly found in Him I was doing it.  I didn’t think I was going to lesser things to satisfy me.

But I was deeply unsatisfied.

Granted I’m in an intense phase of life raising 3 kids, homeschooling one of them, and holding down the fort while my husband is gone for months at a time.

That is draining and it won’t always feel satisfying.

I should probably accept that truth and allow myself to acknowledge the hard thing I’m doing.

BUT.

I was living a life lacking joy.  I was battling anxiety and dread all day long.

Little things were setting me into a panic.  I felt overwhelmed from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the moment I closed them at night.

I was daydreaming about what I thought might make me happier.  I was thinking about how my life would be different (happier?) if I wasn’t a stay at home mom to what feels like a gaggle of children.

What if Andy and I didn’t have kids?  What if I worked full time?  What if I was the writer I dream of being?  What if I was doing a better job parenting and it was therefore easier? (myth)

Lots of what ifs.  Lots of trying hard to just be happy.  To be content.  To be satisfied.

I even would go so far as to tell God, “Ok, I’m here.  I’m not going to food or wine or tv or whatever to fill myself up, so what do you have for me?”

::waits two minutes::

“Nothing?  Ok then.  I guess you just feel like being quiet. I guess I’m just not positioning myself properly to get what you have for me.  Fine.”

I figured I’d just wait it out.  I’d just keep moving forward, probably edging God out a little until He was ready to get to me.  I was feeling pretty hopeless too.  Feeling like I must have the answer to the problem and that it just wasn’t working.

But this morning at church I realized what I was doing.

Jesus frosting.

Follow me for a minute…

I’m pretty sentimental and very nostalgic.  Fall tends to bring this out in me more than most other times of year.  Certain meals, smells, sights, activities, family time, decor, have made impressions on my memory and I feel like I’m always trying to make sure this fall is as sweet as those in my past.

Adding more decorations to the living room, pumping fall scents throughout the house (cannot wait for my cinnamon, clove and nutmeg oils to arrive!) and making cozy dinners like roasted chicken and spicy chili with corn bread are all attempts at creating a reality that makes me feel warm, fuzzy, and happy.

I’ve daydreamed about how fun it would be to homeschool my children one day.  I pictured us smiling at the kitchen table, working on handwriting, phonics and math with smiles on our faces.  I imagined me being the best teacher ever and them being so thankful that I was taking the time to be their teacher.

I used to fantasize about being a mother.  Staying home with my children and loving every minute of it.  Meal time, bath time, play time.  All of it was idyllic.  They were obedient and grateful.  I was patient and compassionate.

I think it goes without saying that my reality is different than those rose-colored imaginations.  That has left me a bit disillusioned and frustrated.

I just have to try harder.  I have to do more and be better.  Then it will all work out.

LIES.  ALL LIES.

I have fallen into looking for life in:

  • my home and it’s cleanliness and cuteness
  • my homeschooling experience
  • my children’s behavior and attitudes
  • and as a dear woman at church put it, the experiences of my 5 senses

True life, abundant life, is only to be found in Christ.

In what He has done for me.  In how fully He knows me and how deeply He loves me.

I’ve been looking for life in all the things I’ve mentioned and then I’ve slathered a layer of Jesus on the top and I’ve wondered why I’m not feeling connected to Him.  Wondered why I don’t feel rest and peace and freedom.

It’s not about Jesus frosting.

I cannot just layer Him on top of all the things I’m really going to to make me feel happy.  They are rotten wells with salty water that just makes me thirstier.

He is living water.

Today I drank deeply from Him and have felt more peace and joy that I have in a long time.

Thank you Father for your grace and mercy.

Thank you that you are truly all I need.

no jesus frosting

 


Travel the World with Netflix

September 30th, 2015

I’m in a strange place lately you guys.

Andy being gone, my sister getting married, continuing to operate within my dysfunctional infrastructure….all of it has done a number on me.

Finally today, after MUCH stubbornness, I sat down and wrote a bunch of it out.  It didn’t make a ton of sense and was all over the place and was peppered with profanity, but it helped me feel so much better.  Like a release valve was loosened and a bunch of pent up pressure was released.

I’m still wrestling with how I’m living my life and what God is inviting me into, but I’m feeling a little lighter.

Thankfully.

What does this all have to do with Netflix, you might ask?

Well, I’m trying to awaken to the things that excite me.  Things that spark joy, awe, wonder, and excitement in my heart and soul.

Emo, I know.

There are so many things that do that actually.  I spent about 300 words jotting a few of them down when I was writing earlier.

Much of it could fall under the categories: music, food, stories, people.

That’s where Netflix comes in…

For the past few nights Andy and I have been watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

And I seriously cannot get enough of it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.05.41 PM

Bourdain is a chef, author and tv personality who travels the world to explore the food, culture, and people who live in places off the beaten path.

We’ve only watched 4 episodes and I’m hooked.  I’m totally captivated by his style and laid back appreciation and reverence for the places he visits and the stories he hears.

The episode we watched last night (about Libya) was sobering and eye-opening.

It’s about so much more than the food.

When I watch this show, I imagine I feel the way people who love musicals feel….the story is progressing and BAM! everyone bursts into song.

Instead of that (which usually annoys me – sorry musical lovers!) the story progresses and BAM! they are suddenly sharing a delicious indigenous meal.

I physically ache when I watch shows like this and also Chef’s Table that I mentioned last time, because they move me.  They make me want to GO and SEE and TASTE and LISTEN to the whole wide world.

I have no idea how to make that happen, but you better believe I’m near constantly trying to figure out a way.

Until then, thank you Netflix for allowing me to travel the world through your incredible original shows, numerous documentaries, and programs like Parts Unknown.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. As a member of the Stream Team I was provided with welcome kit including a voucher to apply towards my Netflix account. I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

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