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Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Fertility, Health, Love, Marriage | 11 comments

Baby Wyse #3

Baby Wyse #3

Rick and I are so happy to let you know that Baby Wyse #3 is on the way! The baby is due to be born on March 16, 2017. We are soon to be out-numbered!

After Charlie was born, I decided there would be no more pregnancies for me. Pregnancy and I didn’t get along very well, and I had my son and daughter. My hands were incredibly full with a 15-month old and a newborn, so the idea of another baby made me feel like suffocating.

But the kids are now 3 1/2 and 2, much more self-sufficient and getting along great. I considered returning to work, but the options in our rural area are limited. After exploring those options without success, Rick and I decided that another baby might be a good thing. I was still terrified of pregnancy from my two previous experiences, so I began exploring alternative health options to see if I could have a different experience in the future.

I found a wonderful chiropractor who helped with the energy deficiency I couldn’t seem to shake. She introduced me to a local naturopath who ran some tests and provided hope that I could get some deep-seated health issues resolved and have a better experience. I had excruciating pain in my knees, in spite of having lost 20 pounds and following a diabetic diet to keep my blood sugar healthy. My primary care physician, chiropractor, naturopath, and the massage therapist I’ve been working with for several years all told me the same things: 1) This is a reaction to stress. Go on vacation and get your mind off your recent disappointments. 2) You need an anti-inflammatory diet. Meat, vegetables, fruit. No more bread and sugar.

I heeded their advice. I began taking the remedy the naturopath gave me (one bottle, not hundreds of dollars in various supplements). Our family rented a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg, and we brought our babysitter along. For the first time in about four years, Rick and I slept through the night without interruption for 8 nights in a row. I cannot minimize how much that helped me. A lack of sleep for that many years had really affected me. During that vacation, I took a complete break from social media and things came back into perspective. I have been so blessed with a wonderful family, and I simply enjoyed them.

Following that vacation, I started The Whole30, which I’ve written about before. I used that eating plan to help find a good balance for my body, and while I’m not where I want to be yet, I am confident that I’m headed in the right direction. As my diet changed, anxiety fell off me. My knee pain all but disappeared. I lost more weight. I began exercising again, and as summer came around, I began enjoying gardening and the warm, fresh air.

Strange things began happening, like instead of falling asleep after over-eating, my body screamed at me to MOVE. I started jogging a little, doing jumping jacks, and even (shock…) craving vegetables! I began to have healthy, normal responses to hunger and satisfaction. My hormones balanced out and the naturopath could find NO vitamin/nutrient deficiencies when she tested me.

Baby Wyse 3As I worked on my health, Rick and I decided to let nature take it’s course to see if we might conceive, but nothing happened. We thought it was possible that we had reached the end of our biological clocks and were okay with that. We are so content and blessed with our precious children. But I’m not very good at “going with the flow”, so after almost a year of seeing what might happen, I got serious. I began tracking and testing and was very pleasantly surprised to find that IT WORKED! The first month! Whoa.

Within an hour of getting that positive pregnancy test, I went to work. I made a list with the title, “Preparation for Armageddon”. I listed all the things I needed to do in the next one to two weeks to prepare for the sickness I’d had with the other two. I cooked up a storm and filled our freezer to the brim. I organized and planned and prepared. I had boundless energy and I used it!

When week five hit (the first time I threw up with Eliana), I still felt great. Relieved, I scurried around more, doing fun things with the kids while I could, making lists, and working in the yard and garden. I was intent on meeting my “step goals” on my fitness tracker and did so every single day that week.

When week six hit (when I really got sick with both kids), low-level nausea made it’s appearance. It was no big deal. I didn’t throw up, I wasn’t couch-bound, I even felt a little better if I went for a walk! So I walked and gardened and kept on cooking. One day we had a family fun event and I was pretty tired of feeling nauseated, so I took some anti-nausea medication. The rest of the day was great and I had no issues at all.

The days since then have been a combination of feeling pretty good (except for very, very tired) and feeling yucky/nauseated. I haven’t thrown up. On the days when I’m extra-tired, I take a nap with the kids. My energy comes back within a few days and I make up for the days before. I’ve been spending more time indoors and not getting many steps in, but I’m giving myself grace for that.

So far, this pregnancy is pretty normal. I remind myself that nausea isn’t that big of a deal and repeat out loud how grateful I am that I’m not throwing up. I can go for walks (with Eliana, extreme motion sickness made walking impossible), work in the garden, pick peaches with my husband, and cook meals. My meals aren’t spectacular right now, but they’re often hot and nutritious.

We’ve decided to wait until the baby is born to find out the gender. Once the baby gets here and is big enough to sleep in a crib in his or her own room, we’ll evaluate where the older two are with their maturity level and decide how to arrange the kids’ bedrooms. We have lots of ideas, but no solutions right now, and are hoping it becomes obvious to us when we need to decide.

I’d like to have a different birthing experience this time. The epidurals didn’t fully take either time before, and last time led to a horrific spinal headache that negatively impacted Charlie’s birth and my health for a while afterward. I’m planning to fully educate myself on non-epidural pain-relief methods, utilize a local midwife, and plan for a midwife-attended hospital birth. I take medicine for a headache, so I see no reason to go through labor and delivery completely un-medicated. However, the epidural is off the table. Thankfully, with the last two, the birthing process was actually the “easy” part. Not really, but so much easier than the pregnancies themselves.

We’ve told Eliana and Charlie and they’re thrilled. They have all kinds of fun and interesting questions. I have an app on my phone that shows an illustration of the size of the baby each week. Eliana LOVES to look at it and asks me almost every day to show her how big the baby is right now. Some questions I’ve had so far include:

“When the baby gets big enough to come out, will your belly just POP?” (A basic anatomy lesson followed that question and seemed to satisfy her concerns.)

“Do I have a baby in MY belly?”
“No, sweetheart. You’re too little to have a baby in your belly. That won’t happen until you’re more grown up.”
“Like Kristina?” (our 18-year old babysitter)
“Well, yes. You have to be at least as grown up as Kristina to have a baby in your belly.”

One day when I was particularly nauseated and tired and laid on the couch most of the day…
“Is the baby in your belly still sick?”
“No, Charlie, the baby isn’t sick. But because the baby is in Mommy’s belly, Mommy’s belly is a little upset today.”
“Oh, okay. Can you walk?” (Well, shoot. I guess I’ve been particularly lazy today. After that, I got up, took a Zofran, and got some things done.)

“If you throw up, Mommy, will you throw up the baby?”

****************

I’ve always wanted a large family. Maybe we’ll stop after three and call that “large enough.” Maybe we’ll test nature a little more and see if four is possible. Rick looks at me like I’m crazy when I say that, but these kids will keep us young! 🙂 Our babysitter’s mom told me she had four more after she was my age, so it’s possible that if I keep myself healthy, I have plenty of time left…

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Posted on Jan 20, 2016 in Devotional, Love, Marriage, Spiritual Life, Wisdom | 4 comments

Marriage Mahem

Marriage Mahem

2016-01-20 21.15.13Marriage is hard.

I married a wonderful man. He’s sweet and kind. He helps out around the house. He changes diapers and gets up with fussy babies in the night so I can sleep. He is an excellent provider with a great sense of humor. There are times when I look at him and cannot believe how lucky I am. He would die of embarrassment if I told you all the things about him that I find attractive and exciting. I believe with all my heart that he is God’s gift to me and we are a great compliment to one another. We grew up with similar values and beliefs. We have a lot of fun together. I could go on and on about the magnitude of his magnificence.

And still I am writing that MARRIAGE IS HARD.

I love him with all my heart, but we are two very different people with very different ideas about things – trying to build a home together. We have to deal with one another every minute of every day. There is NEVER a break. There is NEVER a moment where what I do doesn’t mean something to him. There is no point in which I can say, “Well, these past four years have been fun, but I’m a little tired right now so I’m going on vacation. I’ll see you in three months.” This commitment I made is FOR LIFE.

“Well, of course it is,” you might think. Duh. What’s her problem? But if you’ve ever had issues with anxiety, I bet you hear the panic in my tone. The trapped, claustrophobic feeling. I bet you aren’t judging me for admitting these unspeakable truths.

I was warned that marriage is hard, many times by many people before I got married. I was told to enjoy the freedom of my singleness and be grateful that I can spend $100 without having to explain myself to anyone. These words were not lost on me. I heard them, I tried to absorb and understand them, but I simply couldn’t hear it because my aching need for all the benefits of marriage was screaming so loudly. How do you tell a starving woman that there will come a day when there’s so much food around her that she feels physically ill and wants to go on a fast? It’s ridiculous.

And of course I don’t really want to be without him. The idea of losing him, of grieving that loss and then starting the whole process over, exhausts me. I’ve adjusted to his help, his strength, his support, and not having him besides me would devestate me.

But the day in and day out of marriage can feel a little overwhelming at times. This person, this life, forever and ever, amen. This conflict we’re in, we HAVE to work it out. There’s no escape. There’s no other option. We simply have to work it out or one of us is going to spend the rest of our life angry with a side of disconnection.

Part of what I’ve been doing is looking at myself. How have I disappointed him? How have I created a situation where he is sad or hurt? How can I behave differently, adjust my expectations, compromise? Truthfully, it’s part of my decision to BE AWESOME. My mediocrity is hard on this precious man.

Part of what I’ve been doing is giving myself permission to have an opinion and insist on it. What??? As a Christian who wants to honor God, I may have gotten a little confused on the whole “submission” thing. It doesn’t help our relationship when I die a little inside every day because I’m so unhappy trying to fit into a mold not made for me. I can smile brightly and try with all my heart to fit for a while, but eventually the truth comes out. I’m giving myself permission to say what does and doesn’t work for me.

The most important thing I’ve been doing is PRAYING. Desperately praying for God to give us unity in our hearts. We are such different people that at times it feels like we’ll never be unified. We’ll both always find ourselves compromising, but not terribly happy about it. Why should we live like that? God has ordained this marriage and blessed us with children. It’s understandable that we should be in agreement, 100%, on some of the very important things in our lives.

I admit that the day that prayer came to my mind, the audacity of it nearly knocked me over. I felt like I asked God to turn apples and oranges into pears. It was ridiculous. But God is a miracle worker! He loves it when we bring our big, audacious prayers to Him. He loves it when we believe strongly enough in the power and might of GOD to trust that miracles can actually happen. And what a beautiful prayer! In hindsight it’s seems silly that I was afraid to pray it, but it was wild.

I’m not writing that I think married couples should agree on everything all the time. We are individuals for a reason and it’s good to have some diversity. But there are some big issues that it’s really helpful to agree on. For example, basic parenting practices, what church to attend, and how much time to spend with your extended family.

I’ve come to believe that unity is possible. It doesn’t mean one person gives up everything so they can pretend to agree with the other person. It’s possible for God to so radically change each one of our hearts that we truly, in the very core of our beings, want the same things. At the very heart of who each of us is, we can desire the same things.

A friend of mine married a man who seemed like a good fit for her in every way, only to discover such tremendous differences after marriage that she was despondent and afraid. Over the last 10+ years, I’ve seen that couple become unified. When I spend time with them, I hear the same ideas coming from him as I do from her. Their expectations have changed, their habits and plans have changed. They’ve truly become united in their hearts. It’s been a really neat thing to see. And they’ve told me it’s been really, really hard.

I’ve seen other good friends do the exact opposite. I’ve seen them marry with grand ideas that they’re perfect for one another and want very similar things in life, only to gradually move away from one another. I’ve seen couples with tremendous chemistry and nearly identical values turn on one another in fury and attack, tearing one another to shreds. I’ve seen the shock on their faces as they emotionally limp away, trying to figure out what just happened. I’ve witnessed the devastation of divorce much too close up, heard the wails of hurt and anger. I’ve seen the stunned children whose worlds have been ripped apart while their parents struggle just to survive. It has ripped my heart to shreds too. This horror is one that I never want to experience again. If you are considering divorce and want someone to coddle you and tell you it’s okay to leave, don’t call me. You don’t want to hear what I have to say.

Divorce is not an option. I believe when we take divorce completely off the table, remove even the remote possibility of it from our minds and vocabulary, we can truly learn how to love. (There are some extreme cases where I’d advise differently, but they are too horrible to even put into words. Use your imagination, if you must.) When we allow that slightly claustrophobic, anxiety-producing realization that there is NO ESCAPE, that we are in this thing for the rest of our lives, it forces us to find a way to make it work.

No matter how mad I ever get at Rick, no matter how hurt or betrayed, unless there is some kind of true, unrepentant evil involved, we are in this together. Forever. Because we have the rest of our lives to work it out, we don’t have to have all the answers today. We don’t actually have to come to an agreement before we go to sleep tonight. Sometimes a little sleep allows us to reset and puts things back into perspective. Because we cherish our children and want to give them the best possible lives, we will work it out. We will find a way to make it through.

Marriage is hard, but we can do it.

My friend with the unified marriage didn’t sail through the first ten years with ease. She did hard, aching work to build the marriage she knew she wanted. She allowed her husband to try and fail. She humbled herself over and over again, suffering things in silence that no one speaks of openly. She went back over and over again, opening herself up to hurt and frustration because she believed in her marriage. Maybe one day she’ll allow me to tell her story from my perspective. It’s a story of God’s faithfulness to a disciplined and determined woman who wouldn’t give up.

If you’ve been through a divorce, my heart hurts for you. I’m not standing in judgment. I repeat: Marriage is Hard. When I hear the word “divorce”, I hear heart break, betrayal, and devastation. Even in the worst of situations, God can heal, restore, and make whole again. I pray that God will heal your heart and restore back to you everything that’s been taken. You are precious and loved.

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Posted on Nov 10, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Marriage, Parenting | 14 comments

Goals for Motherhood

Goals for Motherhood

I used to scream at my family a lot.  Frustration and anger overwhelmed me and I made sure everyone heard it.  I was just a kid though.  When I was an older teen, I became convicted of my bad behavior and prayed desperately for God to help me change.

Overnight God answered my prayer.  I stopped screaming and instead became very, very quiet when I got angry.  In nearly 20 years I can only think of one time that I screamed at a family member, and that was when I was on a diet and very hungry.

Then I got married.  Learning to live together and dealing with a significant amount of change in my life caused me to temporarily forget my resolve.  Screaming makes me really not like myself though, and I didn’t want my new husband to regret marrying me.  I stopped again.  No more yelling.

Then I had kids.  Sleep-deprivation and the pull of these precious children is a constant part of my life.  Dealing with a strong-willed toddler is a never-ending battle.  And let me take a moment to admit that I’m unsure about the best way to parent her, so my uncertainty probably doesn’t help.  I’m working on that.

The other morning we were trying to get ready for church and it was not going well.  We needed to be there early because I was singing a special, but despite laying everything out the night before, getting up super-early, and being as prepared as I could think to be, we were running late.  I’d actually fixed my hair for once and had makeup on, but I was sweating and about to ruin all my hard work.  We should’ve walked out the door five minutes earlier, but Rick had some last-minute delay and I hadn’t even had time to run through the song that morning.

Eliana wasn’t listening to her daddy and ran away as we were finally trying to get in the car.  My frustration was through the roof, thinking of how unprofessional it was to show up late when I needed to do a sound check and make it to the pre-worship meeting.  Eliana received the brunt of my frustration as I opened my mouth and made sure wherever she had run off to, she HEARD me call her back.  My voice rose to new levels as I screamed at her to get back here.  She’d never heard me yell like that and I achieved my goal as she ran into the room with a startled look on her face.

Immediately I regretted it.  That look on her face crushed me inside.  I switched gears fast, praising her for coming when I called and reminding her to come when mommy or daddy call.  Still shocked, she obediently nodded at me and got in the car.

I’d screamed so loud that my throat was sore and gravelly – right before I was supposed to sing.  Nice.

I shocked Rick too.  He couldn’t believe I’d yelled at our daughter like that.  I wanted to sob.  I explained to him how important it is for me to be on time when I’m responsible for something and others are waiting on me.  I apologized for yelling and told him I know that’s not the right way to handle my frustration.

Eliana moved on quickly and was happily chattering away in the back, but I felt awful.  I kept thinking about the words to the song I was about to sing, blessing the name of God, in contrast to my angry outburst.  [Big sigh.]

I spent the morning apologizing to Eliana, hugging her, and trying to make up for it.  I begged God for forgiveness as I drank hot beverages to try to soothe my throat.  I felt the sting of what I’d done as I tried to deliver a smooth, beautiful song in spite of my scratchy vocal chords.

As a result of my outburst, I started working on a list of goals for motherhood.  I’m sure the list will be grow and change as the children grow and change, as I grow and change.  But here’s the first draft.

  1. Speak quietly and calmly, responding to situations rather than reacting. If I do react negatively, calm myself quickly and apologize.
  2. Read the Bible regularly and pray.  Keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me to meet my other goals.
  3. Greet my children with a smile – even if it’s in the middle of the night and I’m exhausted and they haven’t been sleeping. Let them know they light up my life!
  4. Kiss my children and tell them I love them when they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed. Kiss them many other times throughout the day too.
  5. Love their daddy and let them see it. Tell him I love him in front of them, and let them see my love for him in my eyes and actions.
  6. Speak highly of their daddy to my children. Tell them how handsome, successful, wise, and strong he is.  Tell them they should be like him if they can.
  7. Take care of myself – go to the bathroom when I need to (seriously), brush my teeth, eat healthy meals, exercise, shower, etc.  Don’t let the everyday needs of the children keep me from taking care of MY everyday needs.
  8. Speak highly of our family:  grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to my children. Facilitate a love-relationship between them. They need all the love they can get.  Who else will take care of them if I’m not around?
  9. Encourage my children to be one another’s best friends. Teach them to work out problems and be kind.  Deal with fighting and meanness swiftly and strongly.
  10. Keep it simple. When they get new toys, put away an equal number of old toys.  Give away or sell extras.  Don’t let a bunch of crap accumulate and junk everything up.  Rotate toys and books out of circulation and bring them back later. This keeps the mess at bay and keeps things interesting for them.

That’s what I have for now.  I know it sounds a little nuts to make it a goal to go to the bathroom, but you wouldn’t believe how busy you get as a mom.  You can forget that your child won’t suffer if you put him or her down for a few minutes and let them fuss so you don’t overtax your bladder!  And even my children appreciate it when I don’t take time to brush my teeth and put on some deodorant!

I’d love to hear your goals for motherhood/parenting!  What do you struggle with?  Share them in the comments section below.  Maybe it’ll inspire me to modify my list.

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Posted on Oct 10, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Marriage | 2 comments

The Secret of the Successful Marriage?

The Secret of the Successful Marriage?

 

She was lovely – younger than her years with a glowing complexion, athletic build, and stylish outfit.  Her smile was warm and genuine.  But she was troubled.  I was on staff as the church’s women’s pastor and although I was significantly younger than her and never married, she shared her heart with me.  She’d been married a long time.  She’d raised a family, been active with her husband in church, and trusted the life they’d built together.  Her world was rocked when she discovered he’d betrayed their covenant.  Reconciliation was not possible.  It was beyond shocking – to her, her children, and the community.

Several years had passed since the divorce and she had done some hard work to heal her torn and battered soul.  She had taken the tatters that remained and allowed God to stitch her life into something beautiful.  She became a minister to others. A broken healer.

She wanted to know if she might marry again, find that something she’d been missing all her life.  She longed for a companion to share her golden years with.  As we spoke about it, she said something that has stuck with me ever since.  It was one of those nuggets that I wanted seared into my brain.  I never want to forget her words.

Her marriage had not been perfect.  It had, in fact, been wrought with pain and disappointment.  She shared a few painful details, ways he’d hurt her beyond imagination in their younger years.  As I heard her tales, I thought about how the person you commit your life to has such power to cause pain, to destroy confidence, to emotionally crush.

I wondered aloud how a person can continue to open themselves up to someone whose insecurities can cause so much burning pain. 

She told me she’d shut down.  She’d made a decision to maintain some emotional safety while continuing to go through the motions of a life together.  Cruel words had driven her into the shadows of their marriage, withdrawing and building walls around her heart.

But that hadn’t kept her safe.  She’d dreamed he would notice the distance and pursue her heart; try to make it right.  He didn’t.  He responded to her retreat by retreating further from her.  His distance led to even more distance from her.  At the end of their marriage they’d become little more than mildly combative roommates.  As an objective outsider I could see that the whole mess was caused by fear.

She quietly choked out the words:  “He deserved my withdrawal, but I think I should’ve found a way to forgive him and move past it.”

I was stunned by her humility.

I’ve never forgotten it

As I move closer to my third year of marriage, I can tell you that even if you marry the nicest, kindest, most giving person in the world – that person will still hurt you.  It’s most often unintentional, but when you allow someone that close to your heart, the pressure can become so great that it becomes pain.  Rick and I have hurt one another.  Even with the best of intentions.  Often with eyes wide in shock that the other person reacts in such a way to what we have said or done.  And a few times we may have even caused a little pain on purpose.

I can be sensitive and emotional.  He can say things that are insensitive.  I can be sharp and demanding.  He can be naïve and critical.  We are far from perfect.  There have been times when I’ve battled my emotions, feeling my spirit try to curl up into a tight ball inside, trying to protect the tender places.

Her words have come back to me.
            Find a way to move past it.  Forgive, forgive, forgive. 

Not only forgive, but force the tight ball to uncurl.  Go so far as to expose the tender places again, knowing you may feel searing pain again.

Expose them anyway.

I’ve struggled with that concept.  What do I do with the pain, Lord?  And what do I do if it happens again and again and again?  Is there a limit?

God answered me:
IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
Give it to ME.
I’m your protector.
If you hide your heart in Mine, I will keep your heart safe.
I will heal you.

Has God allowed those tender places to be exposed because He needs me to toughen up?  Maybe He has things for me to do outside this home and family that I can’t handle if I don’t build some muscle where the soft belly of need currently is.

I don’t know the answer, but I’m trying to figure it out.

I suspect that the most successful marriages are the ones where people decide to stay open, to keep their tender places exposed, to risk the pain.  The most successful couples pursue one another when the other draws away.  They challenge their fear and intentionally seek out the love they want from their spouse.

Happy MarriageHere’s the question that drives the point home for me:
            What does curling up inside accomplish anyway? 

In my mind I see the lovely woman who lost her dreams and is finding herself again.  How many times would she have had to forgive her husband and try again?  Possibly hundreds, thousands even.

He may have changed as a result of her example and cherished her more for it.

He may have had an affair anyway.

Even if he had thrown her love away, the end could have been the same.  God was waiting ~ either way ~ to stitch her back together again into something exquisitely beautiful.  

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Posted on Jul 30, 2014 in Marriage, Parenting, Wisdom | 6 comments

How Can You Afford Help?

How Can You Afford Help?

 

It seems I’ve hit a nerve with my previous post in which I mentioned that we’ve hired someone to help us out around the house and with the kids.  Although many of you don’t comment publicly, I’ve received a number of private comments that say basically the same thing:

             We can’t afford to hire help!  How can you do that?

My heart goes out to all those who are hurting financially, living paycheck to paycheck, and going without some of life’s basic necessities in order to keep food on the table and a roof overhead.  I’ve been in that position, stressed about money and terrified that something on my car would break.  I understand that desperation and want to acknowledge that it’s not always possible to sacrifice anything else.

I have a close friend who has been known to bake her own bread to save money and to walk several miles with a stroller to pick her kids up from school because she doesn’t have money to put gas in the car.  She and her husband are both well-educated, white-collar professionals who never anticipated they’d be in that situation.  Life has taken it’s toll.  To those like her, please excuse yourself from the rest of this post.

However – if you’ve had a family vacation in the last year or pay for cable TV, I challenge you to keep reading.

Rick and I have chosen to live simply.  We have one television, but no cable or satellite.  We have one computer and one smartphone, which we won’t replace until they wear out.  Our children have plenty of toys, clothes, and nice things, but we’ve purchased very little of it ourselves.  Most of their things are hand-me-downs or gifts.  We haven’t been on a traditional family vacation since our honeymoon.  When we go away, we visit family and friends, often staying in their homes.

We don’t have it all figured out and we’re not perfect.  There are times we spend money on things unnecessarily.  Those who are close to us may look at our financial decisions and shake their heads, wondering how we can say we live simply when they live so much more simply.  And we have a great blessing in Rick’s parents who live right down the road and often partner with us to help us achieve our goals.

In 2014, in the USA, we can easily get caught up in the expectations of others, concerned more with what they think of us than what will bring us peace.  We want to appear wealthy, rather than build actual wealth.  We want to have it all right now, unwilling to wait until we can actually afford what we desire.  I use the word “we” because I have been there and still struggle with it often.

I know you’re wondering if I really suggested you stop taking annual family vacations.  Would you feel such a need to get away from it all if you had less stress in your daily life from having help around the house?  It’s great to see the world and have different experiences.  But what if daily life could be more enjoyable and less stressful?  Then a fun vacation every few years might be enough.

We independent, American, middle class families may technically be able to do it all, but what environment are our children raised in? What kind of memories will they have?

What price do we place on peace? 

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Posted on Jul 3, 2014 in Marriage, Parenting | 2 comments

The Perfect Day?

The Perfect Day?

I have a vivid memory of the day I decided to leave church.  I sat alone in an enormous crowd of people.  I had friends there, but for some reason that day they were not beside me.  I’d just faced another disappointing relationship that I’d hoped might finally lead to marriage.  Families with beautiful children surrounded me.  My own family was in another state.  Lonelier than lonely, I heard the pastor call for families that were dedicating babies to come forward.

Several couples walked onto the platform carrying their precious babies, accompanied by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other assorted family.  A toddler tried desperately to get away from her father while her baby sister was dedicated, making it a little difficult to hear the pastor’s words.  Tears sprung into my eyes and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I tried to sit there like I always had, tried to quietly pray and whisper promises to God about how I’d raise my children to serve Him if He’d please send my husband.  But all I could think was how blessed that frustrated father was to have a wiggly toddler and a newborn.

Right in the middle of the service I gathered my things and walked out.  Sobbing, I drove home and vowed that unless I had my own children, I’d never sit through another tortuous baby dedication ceremony again.  And I didn’t.  Every time I realized that’s what was happening at church, I left.  I went shopping or treated myself to a gourmet bagel or whatever.  I just didn’t want to feel my heart bleed like that again.  Leaving was my way of being kind to myself.

Eliana dedicationAbout 9 months ago my prayers were answered.  It was finally my turn to walk up front carrying my own precious baby, my husband by my side.  Two sets of grandparents, great-grandparents, and other family stood with us.  Extended family surrounded us in the pews.  Even better, I was two months pregnant with our second child.  It was a wonderful moment.  Afterward we had a big party with family and friends to celebrate.

On the last Sunday in June of this year (2014), we were able to dedicate our son to the Lord in a similar service.  My mom and several aunts, uncles, and cousins were in town for another event, so we had a lot of family around us.

I’d planned a brunch for our family members after the service and had been very busy getting everything ready for the party.  On the day before I put out our outfits, making sure they were cleaned and ironed and we knew where the shoes and accessories were.  I’d cleaned and cooked and planned.  I wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible on Sunday morning.  But I worked so hard that I was exhausted.  Instead of having a relaxing morning, I overslept and raced around trying to get everyone ready.  Hot and sweaty, at the last minute I decided to change my outfit, tried to fix my hair, and slapped on some makeup while Rick drove us the 5 minutes to church.

In the middle of all that stress, Rick didn’t say what I wanted him to say.  He didn’t do exactly what I wanted him to do.  In hindsight, it’s pretty silly, but at the time I got upset.  He had the audacity to tell me I was being ridiculous, so I blew up.  About to stand in front of our church family and dedicate our son to Christ, we were at each other’s throats.  He was angry with me for blowing things out of proportion and I was furious with him for being insensitive.

Five minutes before we were supposed to walk on stage, my fury turned to tears.  Dripping with tears and still sweating, I got some tissues from my mother-in-law and attempted to mop myself up before we walked on stage.  It didn’t work and I was a soppy mess.  It was time to go and I carried Charlie onto the platform, Rick carried Eliana, and our family joined us.  I continued to wipe tears.

My tears were out of regret for my actions that morning, but they were also sadness that Rick was insensitive, joy that we had two children to give back to the Lord, and relief that I was no longer the aging single woman who was terrified that my child-bearing years were slipping by.  I was overwhelmed by the blessing that is my imperfectly perfect husband.  I was thrilled to have my mother standing beside me, healthy and cancer-free.  I felt gratitude that Charlie will be raised right down the road from two loving grandparents, in the same town as his great-grandparents, and in the same state as his aunt and uncle.  The blessing of the adorable little guy who squirmed in my arms was awesome.  And so my swirling emotions leaked down my cheeks.

I answered “yes” as the pastor asked if I would raise my son as a Christian, if I’d support him even if God called him to the ends of the earth.  I gladly handed him over as the pastor held him and prayed a blessing over him.  It was my turn to give my child back to the Lord.  Again.  God had been faithful. 

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Rick and I quickly made up once the tension of the morning was over.  We apologized and said what the other needed to hear.  I finally stopped sweating.  We went back to the house and had a great time feasting, talking, and playing video games.  We took pictures and laughed at the boys who decided to climb the tree in the front yard.  We threw Eliana in the bathtub when she had an enormously messy diaper and soaked her pretty dress.  We passed the baby around, played Dutch Blitz, and drank too much coffee.  It was a good day.

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In 2 ½ years I’ve left behind the lonely, boring, fear-filled days of sitting alone in church and have become a woman with a family.  A woman who is no longer lonely or bored, no longer fears the end of my child-bearing years, and who gets all the messiness that goes along with a family.  My mash up of emotions, over-reactions, and stress were all the result of the beautiful blessing of this family God has given me.  We aren’t perfect, but we’re alive and thriving and growing.

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In light of all that, I’d call Sunday, June 29, 2014, a perfect day. 

 

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