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Posted on Jul 28, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Spiritual Life, Wisdom | 4 comments

A Prophetic Word?

A Prophetic Word?

 

Sometimes I find it hard to believe my life these days.

 

Charlie - 3 months

Charlie – 3 months

There are times when it seems like every single little thing I ever wanted in life has been handed to me on a silver platter.  I look around in wonder and stop for a minute to lift my hands in praise to God.  I wonder if it’s somehow wrong to be so blessed and happy.

 

Other days I get out of sorts and frustrated with less glamorous aspects of life.  At times children may be impressive little destroyers, husbands may forget to speak tenderly, extended family and friends may disappoint, and there may even be an unrecognizably puffy, middle-aged, graying woman staring back in the mirror – but isn’t that just the stuff of life?  It’s not a perfect life, but the frustrating and difficult days are much fewer than the good ones.

 

I’m a stay-at-home mom whose husband works from home and is also able to be around much of the time.  Rick often works long hours, but he can typically set his own schedule and work around the needs of our family.  God has gifted us with two little blessings who are now 19-months old and 3-months old.  They’re very close in age because we weren’t sure how many years of fertility we had left, so we figured we’d better get it done.  They are light and joy to us.

 

But taking care of two babies, plus trying to keep the house up, cook meals, manage the farm books, volunteer at church, spend time with friends, exercise, shower regularly, and squeeze in time for writing just can’t all be done well by one person.  At least not THIS person…  As helpful as Rick and his parents are, they have other responsibilities too.

 

Our wonderful helper

Our wonderful helper

Thankfully, we were able to bring in someone to help out with the housework and the kids.  She stays with us three nights a week and is a tremendous blessing.  I know I could make it work without her, but having her around means that our household is much more peaceful.  Chores are done, children are nurtured, and we’re all fairly well-rested.  It makes a huge difference – the difference between surviving and thriving!  I’ve been encouraged by the model of a godly woman in Proverbs 31.  Verse 15 says that she has servants.  This amazing woman in the Bible doesn’t do it all herself!

 

As I was puttering around the house this morning, wondering in awe at the beauty of God’s redemptive work in my life during this season, I was reminded of something I still don’t completely understand.  There was a couple who came to our church and ministered to the church staff one day.  They didn’t know us.  Our pastor knew them and trusted them.  When he told us what was going to happen that day, I burred up inside.  I was skeptical and just the tiniest bit hopeful.

 

The couple that came to our staff meeting are prophetic ministers.  Hearing that they were coming to pray over us individually and to give prophetic words to us as they heard God speak filled me with mixed emotions.  I grew up in a Charismatic church and have seen prophecy used to manipulate people’s emotions, have seen those who claim prophetic gifts be completely wrong, and have seen the rare occasion when it raises the hair on the back of my neck and proves true.  I’d often longed to have someone give me a prophetic word from God, some inkling that He knew my situation and wanted to speak to me, but there had been very few.

 

When this couple began to pray and speak over my co-workers, my defenses started to come down.  They seemed to know intimate, personal details about them that couldn’t be fabricated.  How did they know that my co-worker was a potter and an illustration from God about pottery would mean so much to her?  Over and over they accurately spoke about the person they prayed over.

 

When they came to me, I was ready to hear what they had to say, hopeful that they would tell me and all my co-workers that I was going to be mighty in the kingdom of God.  (Yes, I admit that was what I wanted to hear.)  I hoped to hear I’d have a ministry greater than Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore.  God does say “exceedingly, abundantly”, doesn’t He?

 

Instead, they told me my past.  They told me the place in my heart that was aching.  They told me how I thought the things that had gone wrong in the last few years were my fault and that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I could’ve done differently.  Then they told me there was nothing I could’ve done differently.  God was working things out in me, making some adjustments, and nothing I’d done was a surprise to Him.  I was exactly where He wanted me to be.

 

Then they told me about my future.  Their eyes bored into my soul and they saw that I was terrible at receiving, preferring to give to others.  I had no idea how to receive and was often suspicious of those who wanted to give to me.  And while the Bible says it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), it also says that God will cause us to receive blessings from others – a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  (Luke 6:38)

 

The word I was given was that I was going to learn to receive, and that I would find it wasn’t weakness but just openness to God.  They encouraged me to take the time I’d been given in my current season to press into the Lord and get to know Him more.  Without realizing how much I love butterflies, they compared me to a caterpillar in a cocoon, soon to be released as a butterfly.

 

I did as they said.  I pressed into God’s presence, spending time in Scripture, fasting, praying, and ordering my life around Christ.  I received one other prophetic word in the months that followed – received it from several people who had not spoken to one another about it.  They all told me that the answer to my prayers was already there, like it was in the shadows of the room, just waiting to step forward and be seen.  I was told to be still and stop struggling.

 

DSC_0588All my attempts at wrestling my life into the mold I had in mind for myself stopped at that point.  Obediently, I became still and stopped struggling.  Everything seemed to turn upside down, but I waited like I’d been told.  Rick finally stepped out of the shadows of my life and claimed me as his bride.  He became the person God used to provide for me.  Through his love and through the covenant of marriage we made together, blessings from God have poured into my life.  I have become a grateful receiver.

 

My aspirations to become a big deal have melted away as I’ve stepped into my role as wife and mother – a big deal to the three people God has given me to love and nurture.  The experience of waiting in stillness, aware that nothing I was able to do on my own could bring me one step closer to God’s plan for my life, has taught me to relax into what God is doing NOW in me.  If God has other plans for me at a later point in life, it’s His job to bring them about.  Not mine.  I have learned to walk in obedience and to believe that He is working out the details.

 

Sometimes fear tries to creep in, whispering that I shouldn’t get too comfortable because it could all be taken from me in a moment.  Whispering that I’m not doing enough with my education, that I’m supposed to be striving to BECOME SOMEONE.  While I know that nothing is ever guaranteed, I refuse to let fear rule my life.  For the time I have my precious husband and these beautiful children, I will soak up every moment with gratitude and praise.  If everything I’ve been given is ripped from me tomorrow, I will deal with that sorrow then.  During this season of my life, I will joyfully change diapers, wipe noses, sing silly songs, give lots of hugs and kisses, and teach everything I can to these sweet little treasures.

 

For today I choose to wrap my arms around the amazing little loves that call me mama, give all I can back to the gracious man who calls me wife, and shine with all the love I’m receiving.

 

Thank You, God, for the many blessings You’ve given me.  Thank You, thank You, thank You.

 

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Posted on Jul 9, 2014 in Love, My Crazy Family, Parenting | 2 comments

Adventures in Parenting

Adventures in Parenting

A few weeks ago my family went back to South Carolina with me so I could celebrate my 20 year high school reunion.  (20 years! Crazy, right?)  While we were there, we arranged to have dinner with a friend I’ve known longer than just about anyone.  I asked her to choose a kid-friendly restaurant for us.  She doesn’t have kids, so that was a ridiculous thing to ask her to do.  With two kids, I’m just now learning what restaurants are kid-friendly and which ones I have no business in at this stage of life. How could I expect her to know?

We were late, of course.  No matter how far in advance I prepare these days, it always ends up taking me longer to get out the door than I anticipate.  It seems like no matter how hard I try, I end up the only one in the family who isn’t properly prepared to go out.  Unless I get up before dawn, I rarely have my makeup on or hair done when I walk out the door these days.  The ponytail is my dear friend.  Often the WET ponytail.

For our dinner date Eliana had on a ruffled, bright yellow dress and Charlie was sleeping in his car seat.  We hauled our 2 babies and 2 diaper bags through the oppressive heat and humidity into the loud and cramped restaurant.  Music was blaring and the hostess seated us at a center table next to the bar.  Our high chairs intruded into the normal aisles on each end of the table.  Precariously close to the kitchen, I watched nervously as restaurant staff walked by balancing hot plates of food over my babies’ heads.

I made a mental note for future reference to specify that a kid-friendly restaurant is typically spacious, not too loud, not too quiet, and not too busy…  Cracker Barrel-ish (if you can get the kids through the store without tearing everything up).

Eliana ate her food and behaved really well, which is hit or miss these days, but Charlie woke up from his nap a few minutes after our food arrived.  I soothed him as I gobbled down my delicious meal as fast as I could, hoping to finish before he started hollering.  I was almost done when he was no longer satisfied in his seat.

I pulled him out and tried different positions, but he was hungry and not interested in anything else.  We were totally exposed in the middle of the restaurant, but I wasn’t about to sit in a dirty bathroom stall or outside in the muggy heat.  As discreetly as possible, I attempted to nurse him.  We were near the door, which kept opening as people went in and out, so it wasn’t exactly cool in the restaurant either.  Charlie is a little heater all by himself, so between holding him and the temperature in there, I was uncomfortably hot.  I smiled brightly at a nearby table of disapproving women with large, fruity drinks and wondered aloud if it was better to just let him scream.

Between the heat, the noise, and the discomfort I felt trying to nurse him in such an open area, he would not cooperate.  I’ve gone 38 years without ever knowingly exposing myself in public, but I won’t be making it to 39.

Meanwhile, Eliana had a look of concentration on her face and her eyes were watery and red.  Shoot.  She was stinking the place up.  There was another table full of people two inches behind her and I felt pretty bad for them trying to eat in such close proximity to that diaper.  Although Rick is often the one who changes Eliana’s diapers, there are rarely changing tables in men’s bathrooms, so it was up to me to take care of the diaper.  (Why would a man ever need to change a diaper?  Grrr…)

I gave up trying to nurse Charlie and ventured to the darkest part of the restaurant to scope out the women’s bathroom, fingers crossed that there was actually a changing table.  Strangely, there was a chair in front of the door and it was locked.  I asked the waitress if it was out-of-order.  She went to check and was gone for a while.  Meanwhile, Charlie screamed and Eliana reeked.

She finally came back and told me it was open and there was a changing table.  I gathered up Eliana and her diaper bag and off we went.  As I laid her on the changing table, I noticed something splattered on the wall behind the table.  Hmmm…  Did that just happen or had it been there?  Then I noticed that my hand was wet.

Gross.

Sure enough, her dress was dirty.  As I began to change the diaper, I noticed that the mess had run down her leg and into her shoe.  Thankfully, I had clean clothes for her.  It took quite a while to clean her up, clean myself up, and clean up the bathroom wall.  The entire time we were gone, Charlie sobbed hungrily.

When I got back to the table, it was time to go.  We headed to the local park so we could hang out a little longer and keep Eliana occupied.  At the park I was able to nurse Charlie in the quiet, air-conditioned car.  My friend talked to me while the husbands took Eliana to play on the swings.

While we were still in the car, Charlie decided to mess his diaper.  That’s when I realized I’d left the wipes in the restaurant.  We were in a rental car so I didn’t have extra wipes in the car like usual.  I did the best I could to wipe him up with a diaper.  I used hand sanitizer on my hands and we went to find the guys.

Rick gratefully handed me Eliana when we arrived and left to find a bathroom for himself.  I wasn’t sure who smelled worse – my clothes (because Eliana’s mess didn’t just get on her), Charlie, or her.  We were a stinky, stinky family that night…

We found a small slide with wide steps leading to it, so I handed a much more content Charlie to my friend and helped Eliana with the steps. She didn’t want to go down the small slide though; she wanted to climb the steps all the way to the top and go down the BIG slide.  I followed her and decided the big slide was big enough for me, so I sat down and put her in my lap.  At that point I realized it was really steep and holding her while going down was going to make it very difficult to moderate my speed.  I tried to get off, but Eliana was having none of it.  She wiggled so much that I had no choice but to go down or risk dropping her.  My friend was laughing loudly, well aware of my lack of athleticism and balance.  But down we went, me holding her tightly while trying to not fly off the end and land on my rear in the dirt.

I gave myself a sort-of rug burn (except it was plastic-burn) on my elbow and lost my balance.  Her foot got caught, her shoe flew off, and she ended up screaming. With my stinging elbow, I recovered her shoe and realized it was wet.  As I looked closer, I realized it was poo!  The mess had gone down her other leg and into her other shoe as well, but I hadn’t realized it while I was cleaning her up.  Horrified, I could think of no other option, so I put the shoe back on and let her play while we waited for Rick to come back.   No wonder she still smelled so bad.

At some point during this adventure, my friend informed me that Eliana had left a puddle in the high chair at the restaurant.  Her husband noticed but didn’t say anything to us about it.  Since I didn’t put her back in the high chair after cleaning her up, we didn’t know and left it there for the waitress to clean up.  As a former waitress, I cringed.

After Rick got back from his hunt for a bathroom, he took Eliana down the big slide a few times without incident.  Of course.  Then we excused ourselves and put the kids back in the car.  As we were driving, Eliana decided she needed to take her shoes off.  Since everything ends up in her mouth these days, we pulled into a gas station and cleaned her up the best we could with hand sanitizer and windshield wipes.

When we got back, Rick immediately put her in the shower and I scrubbed Charlie first, then her shoes.  We figured our friends would probably decide never to have children. 

C 12 weeks E 18 monthsI couldn’t help but think about how many of my high school friends are through this stage of parenting and highly unlikely to be cleaning poop out of their kid’s shoes at 9:00 at night.  Oh well…  They’re worth it.

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Posted on Feb 14, 2014 in Love | 2 comments

Loneliness on Valentine’s Day

Loneliness on Valentine’s Day

As I sit here between stacks of folded laundry that need to be put away, still wearing my pajamas, thinking of how badly I want a nap, I decide to trash the blog posting I just wrote for Valentine’s Day.  It was to single people who are having a hard time with the day.  I decided I just didn’t feel good about posting it.  It felt icky.

IMG_20140214_140330_123-1How can I address single people today, sitting in the comfortable home my husband has provided for me as this new life growing inside kicks and rolls and bumps me around?  As my precious one-year old happily plays at her grandma’s house down the road?  As my husband works downstairs to get the home project we’re doing to make room for baby #2 finished up?  As I glance up to see a gorgeous bouquet of roses on the table and remember the loving cards I’ve already received today?

How can I even try to speak to the issue of loneliness?

A friend from church is on high alert today, hoping her first baby will be born soon.  She’s been blogging about it and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying her candor and humor.  I feel her eager expectation, that hint of fear around the edges as she gets ready for the unknown, and the overwhelming sense of joy that soon a new life will totally change hers.  She’s really fun and we’re learning to quilt together under the instruction of our friend Jenny, an experienced quilter.  Soon we’ll both have new babies and I’m not sure how the quilting lessons will go, but we’re going to give it a try!

I’m in a mom’s group at a local church where about 40 women gather once a month to support one another, learn, share, and grow.  It’s taken me about a year to feel comfortable, but these last few meetings have been very rewarding.  It’s a little lifeline, a safe place where I’m surrounded by many other pregnant women who are also dealing with the challenges of motherhood.  I look forward to each meeting, getting to know the other members better, and learning something new from the speakers and mentor moms.

See?  I’m making friends here.

IMG_20140214_091810_713-1I remember loneliness on Valentine’s Day, but the pain of it is gone.  It’s hard to recall the dread I felt when I went to my awesome office at the job I loved, miserable to be reminded of my singleness while others received special tokens of love and I went home alone and ate pizza.  I woke up this morning to baby kisses and giggles, little arms reaching up for me to hold her and tickle her belly.  I felt how she needed me last night after we’d spent the day apart and no one but Mommy would do, the sweet way she nuzzled in and quietly fell asleep on my lap.

God has been tremendously good to me.  After so many years of wondering why I was still single (what was WRONG with me?), the richness of life can sometimes overwhelm.  Perfection isn’t the goal – just appreciation.  Pregnancy is HARD on me, but I remind myself in stronger moments that 9 months of difficulty is nothing compared with a lifetime of reward.  Sometimes we fight, get worn out, wonder at the strangeness of the person we made a covenant to spend forever with, cringe at the antics of the child who is half me and half him.  But we work it out and I see the love shining in his eyes.

I see those hands that now carry great responsibility, arms that hold a sick child who can’t sleep alone, chest that bears the weight of my head when I can’t sleep, shoulders that work to provide for our family, heart that breaks for loved ones who are lost – and I feel like my heart will explode with love.

The thing is, there was NOTHING wrong with me when I was single.  I didn’t need to be more godly, more settled, more anything…  I was exactly who I needed to be already.  All the “refinements” I made to myself during those years are lost on Rick.  I think he would’ve loved me if he’d met me at 18 years old.

The only words of wisdom I have for those who are still lonely – whether single or married – is to throw open your arms and trust Jesus to fill them.  Lift your loneliness up to Him.  If He can do such a miracle in my life, I hope you can believe He’ll do such a miracle in yours as well.

I wish I could wrap my arms around all the lonely ones today and promise you great things for the future.  I don’t know though.  It may get worse before it gets better.  It may take a long time to get better.  Until then, I encourage you to LIVE.

I didn’t wait around for Rick.  I had a great time with my friends, I loved their children, I got an education, and I spent my time doing jobs I found richly rewarding where I hoped I was making an impact in the world.  Starting a blog where I could share my thoughts and experiences, embracing the calling I felt to become a writer, is where Rick and I finally intersected in a tangible way.  I was running full-speed ahead, making the most of my single years.  Marrying him gave my ability to make a career of writing a huge boost.  It also provided me with the family I so desired.  God preformed a miracle by giving me the love I needed in His perfect time.

God’s hand is in the delay as well as the delivery. 

I still can’t tell you why it took so long for Rick and I to find one another.  I can speculate, but then I think of how awesome God is and how He could’ve parted the waters to make a way for us to find each other.  All I know is that He must’ve had a purpose in it.  As we step forward into tomorrow, I can only believe that it all works together for good and we’ll understand it better by and by.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.  I pray yours is full of love.

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Posted on Jan 7, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Parenting | 16 comments

Different

Different

My husband and I have some very different views on parenthood and for that matter, life in general.  We’re both flexible enough that it usually doesn’t cause too big of a problem, but every once in a while we find ourselves staring incredulously at one another.  We cannot always figure each other out or overlook the other’s different ways.

One area where we disagree on parenting is the whole issue of letting a child “cry it out” at night.  I’m not sure I’d be good with letting our daughter cry for 10-15 minutes, but I’ve never been able to find out.  My husband cannot stand to hear her cry and jumps up almost immediately to get her.  I’ve let it go because he’s willing to get her.  If she cries in the night, he’s the one who puts her back to sleep.  However, when she’s awake, my response to her cry is almost immediate.  She isn’t a fussy baby, so when she cries there’s typically a good reason.  I stop what I’m doing to meet her need.  My husband is much more tolerant of awake crying and tends to slowly finish what he’s doing and get to her when he gets to her.  Could we be any more opposite?

We also have very different views on eating and health.  I try to eat whole, organic foods and incorporate different textures and flavors into my cooking as much as possible.  I’ve struggled with my health over the years and have changed my habits in response to what my body seems to need.  My husband is a farmer (non-organic) and thinks my ideas on such things are ridiculous.  He strongly associates food with childhood memories and likes everything to look and taste the same way it has since the day he was born.  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and homemade applesauce are his favorite foods.  He is equally content with a frozen pizza or McDonald’s hamburger.  To get the best crops possible on our farm, he sprays things that cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

I had grand ideas about changing his eating habits when we got married.  Instead, I’ve found the trouble isn’t worth it.  While I’d like to keep our children from sugar and processed foods, he delights in sneaking our daughter cookies and Fruit Loops.  If I don’t make baked goods, he goes to his mother’s house and eats a dozen cookies at one time.  I beg him to wear sunscreen/sunglasses outside and protective gear when he does things I consider dangerous, and sometimes he listens to me.  The crazy thing about it all is that HE is perfectly healthy, with more energy than I could ever hope to have, receiving excellent reports back on his yearly blood work.  I relish my daily naps, wear sunglasses/sunscreen and I’m the one who got skin cancer!

Rick is extremely frugal.  He has a calculator in his head, remembering what things cost for long after they’ve been purchased.  He gets very upset when any money gets wasted.  I’m a bargain-hunter, but once I’ve decided and made a purchase, I rarely look back.  I don’t remember what I spent on most things – just knowing I got a good deal is enough for me.  We rarely fight about money, but we often discuss it and consider each other’s ideas about it.

I read different lifestyle blogs about parenting, eating healthy, and so on – and it’s come to make me laugh out loud.  Wouldn’t it be something if I could just make a decision and have that be the way it is?  But what a naive way of thinking!  Marriage and parenting are about two people – two ideas, two backgrounds, two different family systems – coming together to establish something new.  While Rick and I agree about many things, which is what brought us together in the first place, there are many things we feel very differently about.  It’s funny how you don’t seem to realize how different you are from someone until you are raising a child together.

We discussed the things that were important to us before we got engaged – having children, how we’d handle infertility if it was a problem, what church we’d go to, how we’d educate, what standard of living we’d have, and so on.  I never thought to tell him I didn’t want to feed our children Red Dye #5!

Before I started dating him, I happened across two very different books in which I walked away with the same message.  One was literary fiction and the other a personal memoir.  Both are written recently by modern, divorced authors who do not claim to be Christians.  Both hammered home one point with startling similarity – marriage is hard.  Divorce is even harder.  Sticking it out and finding ways to work together is worth it in the long run.

A secondary point in both books is about attempting to change your spouse.  Basically, in both books, both marriages, there were dominant characters who made most of the decisions for their family.  The other spouse typically went along with it, happy to have someone else make most of the decisions.  However, in both cases the more passive spouse had certain areas in which they were absolutely unwilling to compromise.  No matter how much work the dominant spouses did to try to get their own way, the other spouse wasn’t budging.  Not one inch.

I remember putting the last of those two books down and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that in my future marriage to an unknown man, I would be the dominant spouse.  I’m a decisive person who likes to get things done.  I almost always know exactly what I want, how I want it, and when I want it.  When I’m around, the wheels tend to get the grease they need.  But I’m careful not to be bossy, pushy, and impatient.  I have to remind myself that others don’t move at my pace.  In high school I came across a book entitled “Imperative People” and knew it was for me.  As I read the book, I began the lifelong journey of learning to bring out the strengths in my personality while tempering the weaknesses.  It really helps that I also have a strong need to be liked by others, motivating me to remember that others don’t always want to me in charge.

My life is one of holding back, snapping my jaw shut until others have had the opportunity to speak, and silencing the voice in my head that says everything should be done faster and more efficiently.  I knew that when I got married, my husband would need the freedom to stand his ground when it mattered to him – even when it made no sense to me.  It’s a good thing I realized that too, because although Rick often goes along with my ideas, when he doesn’t want to he is one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met.  I would’ve had to learn the hard way.

There are those who will read this blog and want to immediately fire off a comment about the dangers of chemicals in our foods.  They will wonder how I can silence my concerns about such an important issue.  Others will shake their heads in disapproval of our lack of “sleep training”.   But here’s the deal:  I waited a long time for THIS man.  He is amazing – giving, gentle, kind, strong, resourceful, an excellent provider, free from addiction to the pornographic thoughts that plague many men, honest, and fun.  He accepts me the way I am and even seems to like the unfiltered me.  Above all, he is godly and 100% committed to Christ.

Will I really spend 80% of my time and energy trying to wrestle with the 20% of his ideas and thoughts that don’t line up with mine?  I’ve given it a good effort and it’s like repeatedly banging my head into a brick wall.  When I meet his brick wall, I step back.  There’s no point in standing there and screaming at it.  There’s no point in trying to knock it down.  Even if I was eventually successful, the resentment he would feel at giving up something so important to him would make the “victory” worthless.

We are different.  I’m glad for that.  It would be really hard to be married to someone as decisive and high-strung as I am.  If he married someone as passive as he is, that wouldn’t work very well either.  We’re a good team.  I believe that God looks at our marriage and smiles.  There’s nothing perfect about it, about us, but we’re both committed to working it out every day.  There’s no thought of divorce, no preparation for it, no consideration of it.

We negotiate.  We talk it through.  There are some things we just have to agree to disagree on.  

I wouldn’t want to be married to anyone else.  My first pregnancy was a horrific nightmare.  I was desperately sick for about seven months, and neither of us were prepared for it.  We struggled through our shock and misery together.  He took on the job of cleaning up after me, managing all the household duties after he did his job all day, and both of us wondering if we’d ever have another child.  If I’d had a husband who was squeamish or anything but super-energetic, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through.  He was my rock.  When our precious, beautiful daughter was finally born, we realized it was worth every single moment of misery.  Both of us felt excited to do it all again as soon as possible.  This second pregnancy has been hard, and I’ve been sick many days, but it’s been significantly better than the first one.  Again, he’s been there to help me take care of Eliana, to clean up after me, and to provide comfort when I’m discouraged.

God gave me a precious gift in this man.  He’s thankful that I’m willing to go through the misery of pregnancy so that we can have children.  I’m thankful that I can get pregnant and deliver a healthy child, despite the challenges.  I’m amazed that he tolerates all the hormone fluctuations and the very unflattering way he’s seen me over the last two years.  There’s been some seriously gross stuff and the man still seems to find me attractive…  Whew!  We are a good team.

For anyone considering marriage, wishing for it, praying for it, I want to be very clear in the way I communicate about mine.  Marriage is wonderful and good in so many ways, but it is also challenging.  It isn’t automatically sheer bliss, just because you’ve found one another.  It takes work.  It takes compromise.  It takes choosing a loving response when you’d really rather scream, “Do you really have to leave your shoes in the middle of the kitchen?!”  (That’s Rick’s perspective I’m giving…)

When I think about our marriage, I try to see the big picture.  I try to see what we’re building together.  One day I see us running pre-teens to practice, dealing with them rolling their eyes at us, and tolerating their friends.  One day I see us cherishing our grandchildren, grateful to give them back to their parents when they get too fussy.  One day I see us looking back over many years together, cherishing the differences in one another, and seeing how they’ve made us into the family we are.

God bless the differences.

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Posted on Dec 5, 2013 in Love, Marriage, Parenting, Spiritual Life | 1 comment

GOOD

GOOD

Back in 2008, a couple came to my church and talked to the staff about what they felt God saying to each one of them.  I was suspicious, to say the least.  I trusted my pastor to keep the weirdos away though, so I tried to remain open to their words.

Our sound engineer recorded the couple’s words to me and I looked back at them today.  Among other things, they noted that I was a giver, but had a very difficult time receiving from others.  They said God was changing my heart and would teach me to be open to receiving, to enjoy the richness of His goodness.  At the time, I felt like receiving from others was weakness.  They told me I would come to see it as openness to God.

As I prepare myself and my family for Christmas this year, I’ve been struck by how much I’ve received over the past several years.  I don’t know what to put on my Christmas list.  I’ve been given a home to call my own, children, a husband who loves me and takes pleasure in taking care of his family, clothing, food, and many non-necessities.  What do I ask for beyond that?

The words of the couple came back to me this morning.  The truth of their words struck me.  After a season where nothing seemed to work out for me, where every road I tried turned into a dead-end, today I feel like I’m on an open, easy road.  Sure, I have a hard time with pregnancy and it really stinks to be sick so much.  It’s hard to make friends and I long for the deep friendships I left behind in Nashville.  My mother and her three sisters have all been through terrible struggles with breast cancer in the last few years.  But even with the difficulties, my life is so full and rich that I regularly find myself raising my hands in praise and thanks to God.

He has been good to me.

Last week my daughter had a restless night where she couldn’t quite seem to settle down, so we put her between us in bed.  She was so happy to be right there, quietly wiggling and flopping around from one of us to the other.  In the dark, half-asleep, I felt slobbery wetness on my chin.   Weird.  Then again on my cheek.  Huh?  It occurred to me that she was trying to kiss me.  It was too dark for her to see.  Overcome with love, I reached for her tiny face and kissed her sweet little lips.  Satisfied, she cuddled up next to me and fell fast asleep.

Is there anything better than when your child seeks you out for a spontaneous kiss?

I have learned to receive with gratitude and graciousness.  I don’t live in a mansion, drive a luxury vehicle, or wear designer clothes.  I’ve not yet achieved my desire to become a regularly published author.  But I’ve been given the most priceless, beautiful gifts imaginable.  I open my arms to receive them, recognizing the incredible value they bring.

He has been GOOD to me.

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Posted on Oct 3, 2013 in Devotional, Love, Marriage | 6 comments

How I Feel Right Now

How I Feel Right Now

I know some of you read my blog posts and Facebook updates and think,

“Oh just SHUT UP with your peace and love and babies and husband-who-cleans-the-house!”

I know.

I was just listening to my iPod on shuffle and a song I used to really enjoy came on. It’s by Kelly Clarkson, called “How I Feel.” Check it out. I used to sing this verse at the top of my lungs:

It seems every time I find a good man
He’s got a good little wife
I’m not jealous but I won’t lie
I don’t want to hear about your wonderful life
And babies! Everywhere I look…
Trophy wives with their little black books
At this rate I’m gonna end up alone

How many great guys did I meet and wonder about, only to find out they were already married?  And seriously, was EVERYONE having babies but me?  Sometimes I struggle with what I write. I think about how it makes you feel. Will this post be hurtful? Cause someone to feel annoyed by how peachy everything is for me? If you’ve spent any time with me, you know I’m no Pollyanna. I’m a realist.

When I was screaming that bitter song at the top of my lungs, giving myself a few minutes of unguarded self-pity and anger toward those who had the things I wanted so much, I still held out hope for myself. For a few minutes I might’ve forgotten, but soon I was back to the version of myself I like better.

I needed to know there was hope for me. I needed to know SOMEONE who had made it through the desert and was living in The Promised Land. On earth. Alive. Was there really anyone out there who had waited for the Lord beyond what seemed reasonable and natural and actually received the promises?  And not a movie character???

I try to convey through what I write that my life is real, not a fairy tale. I look in the mirror and wonder what my husband sees in me. Sometimes it’s hard to live with someone who’s obsessively clean. There are challenges that come along with marrying later in life, set in our ways and trying to merge into a family. Sometimes I hear the baby cry and I get frustrated because I need to get a few more things done. Why won’t she settle into a schedule? The bed isn’t made, the tax records need to be updated, and I fear my body can’t handle another pregnancy.

But there are tons of women out there who write about that stuff. You can find young mothers griping about their children on any number of blogs. You can easily find wives tearing down their husbands and dragging all their dirty laundry out on the internet.

I could probably make it pretty funny too. But why?

My story is unique and I don’t write merely for your entertainment. (Although it makes me happy when you’re entertained.)  I waited a long time for this precious husband, for the daughter who brightens up my days. I had a glimmer of hope for more than one child. I begged God for a home of my own. I didn’t ask for a mansion; just a home to call my own. I wanted stacks of dishes, dirty floors, and laundry piled up – because the mess indicated life and love and full arms. So will I now complain about it all?

Go ahead and feel frustrated and angry because you’re still waiting for God’s promises to you. At times, stop reading my blog and find one of those gripy blogs. I understand. But come back when you’re feeling better, read again, and let the words encourage you.

God is faithful.

His timing is perfect.

Even when it’s painful and hard to understand and you think your suffering will never end – there is hope.

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