February 23, 2015

It's closing day!


Two years ago, two very scared twenty-something year olds made a decision. A decision to look at the possibility of stepping out in faith, changing their lifestyle and make a move away from the comfort of the town they grew up in. And in that decision, they decided that if God is not in it, we would not keep pushing at the door. Almost two years ago, we drove out to the country to look at what only felt like a very distant dream. It still feels only like a distant dream.

For two years, we set timelines and they were broken time and time again. We waited with open arms saying God, keep opening doors if this is the place you want us to build the rest of our lives. Time seemed to move in slow-motion and sometimes as if it even stood still, but we still felt drawn to this land, called to step out in courage. There were times it felt like this will never work, in fact it still feels a little like that in some ways. But, slowly but surely, the Lord continued to open doors. After almost 2 years, and 4 days past when we thought we would be officially under contract, a contract arrived for us to review. And, we find ourselves today, getting ready to sign our lives away and step into the unknown of owning land.

This journey has been marked by what Marcus is calling "courage". It will not be easy, but we know that God is in it. He has woven details together like only He can. Courage because it is an unknown frontier. Courage because the cost at times feels amazingly intimidating. Courage because we have no clue what we are doing when it comes to building from the ground up. Courage because we may be living in a shed for years until we can finally build a home. Courage because our whole lives will change once we arrive out there. Courage for things we have yet to uncover or experience. Courage for being uncomfortable as we continue to figure out what this looks like.

So, today we step out in faith and courage asking God to continue to work this land in ways that only He can. We call Him to be Lord over our lives, over this decision. For whatever this next step looks like, good, bad, intimidating, stressful, beautiful.... here we go!


February 20, 2015

The Comparison Trap!

A couple months ago, God graciously wove my story into connection with some amazing, strong women as we have spoken truth and encouragement over our stories of infertility. Although we only know each other by way of Google Hangout, these ladies speak my same language. This is an excerpt from this week's study as I processed and prepared for our topic on Comparison. Thank the Lord for kindred souls! 



|| COMPARISON: WHAT IS IT || 
Comparison is a difficult trap to get entangled in. We can try our hardest to avoid it, we can wash our minds with truth, we can even pray for contentment, but somehow in my life it always seems to find its way back in and usually at the most inopportune times. To me, comparison is that ugly feeling that creeps up when I least expect it, that tells me, “you are not good enough” or “if only….”. 
Comparison says, "you are not good enough!"
When I think about comparison, much of it feels like it is built into our culture making it more and more difficult to avoid. Comparison has almost become a way of speech for us. I can vividly remember a few years ago talking with some ladies at work. They were talking about their young infants/toddlers, either about trying to get their kids to sleep through the night or potty training, all sharing their in depth tips and tricks on what worked for their kids, blah blah blah. I remember so badly wanting to connect, to join in the war stories of raising children and have something tangible to offer them so I blurt out a horrible example of when we were training our boxer puppy. LAME! I still kind of cringe thinking I would draw that connection and speak it out loud, but I so badly wanted to relate, to be accepted. 
Comparison can be a way we relate, we connect; but comparison can also be harbored deep down in our hearts, a hidden language of life buried deep in our souls. It is that little voice when we see the pregnant lady at Target and our ovaries cry out, WHY NOT ME!!!!  Or when we go over to our friend’s house and see everything put neatly away, their adorable pictures of a perfect little family adorning their walls and we think, MY LIFE FEELS SO MESSY. WHY CAN’T I HAVE KIDS LIKE THEM? Or even the opposite, we see their mess and their misbehaving kids and we think proudly to ourselves WELL WHEN I AM A MOM, I WILL NEVER LET MY KIDS DO THAT! Comparison, jealousy, I think they are siblings, if not twins.
In the current state of our society, I think we are becoming more and more comparison heavy. Social media is an outlet that can allow us to so easily seek approval from others, while also showcasing our lives for everyone to see. Let’s be honest here, how many of you looked at Facebook or Instagram today and felt comparison running through your veins? I did. I saw that “put together” family, looking like they were having fun and laughing. Heck, I even posted that picture on instagram of my cute little dog and husband, but you know what….it is all a lie. Yes, you heard me right, it is a lie. You know what we were doing when that picture was posted, we were in the midst of fighting. 
Over the years of living with infertility, one of the things I have most learned, those picture perfect stories we read into people’s lives are not the full picture. Deep down, those people have their own hurts that we can’t see, their own struggles. They may be able to get pregnant easily, but maybe they are struggling to keep their marriage afloat. My best friend has been pregnant more times than I dare count, but only has two perfect, beautiful children she can hold in her arms. From an outsider, their life seems perfect but until you know them, you cannot see the hurt. We like to paint pictures that our lives are perfect, but deep down every one of us is struggling in some way. 

|| DANGER OF COMPARISON ||
Comparison is harmful. It steals us of joy, it causes us to doubt God’s goodness, it takes our eyes off the goal. It pulls me away from adoration of God. When my heart hurts the most on this journey, is after I have a comparison moment. Comparison can just about kill me inside if I don’t keep it in check. I don’t want to sugar coat comparison, it is a sin. And as a sin, we must put to death comparison. 

|| AVOIDING COMPARISON: EMBRACING YOU ||
Throughout our study group, we have been going through Lois Flowers', "Infertility: Finding God's Peace in the Journey". In chapter 6, Lois paints a gorgeous picture of her "AHA!" moment. It came reading "A Horse and His Boy" from C.S. Lewis. In the story, Shasta is lamenting with Aslan and recounting his woes, his troubles along the journey. Shasta questions the events that have happened to him and others along the way. And in the moment, Aslan listens, but Aslan comforts. "'Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your own story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."' 
God says, "I am telling you YOUR OWN story."
The way that we stop comparing, is to finally realize that it is our story to live and no one else's.  
“The things that happen in the lives of other people-including their pregnancies, no matter how undeserved or unwanted they may be-are part of “their story.” It is neither our responsibility nor our business to know why God allows them to happen. “ pg 94
You want to know how to avoid comparison - embrace You! I believe that we need to rejoice in the story God is writing in our own lives. See the goodness of God in our story, no matter how broken and messed up it feels. God gave each of us a story and our purpose is to glorify and honor him with that story. We need to share our story, the FULL story. We need to not just show the photo-worthy moments, but also the real struggle and hurt because let’s face it….in this season of my life, it feels more struggle than perfection. 


When I think about our stories, I think there are two components.
1) Little moments, the “God moments”: Lois Flowers mentions in chapter 5 the term “God sightings”. I love this idea, looking for those glimpses of what God is doing. She describes them as “those often-overlooked little events and moments that gently remind us that our heavenly Father still loves us and is still working.” These are part of your story. Recognize them, rejoice in them, remember them. Because when things seem bleak, your comparison meter is running rampant, you need those “God sightings” to put your mind back on course. Mine is an encounter with God, a bike ride fighting out my emotions, ending at the dock on the lake. And as I lay down on that dock with the crisp winter wind beating on my face, I know God held me there. He whispered over my heart, “My grace is sufficient, don’t give up. The road will be long, but I will give you strength.” That moment, I recorded in a grainy, phone picture, but that image takes my mind right back to that “God sighting”.
What are your God sightings? Find them, capture them, don't forget them. They can carry you through those moments when the outcomes seem to not be going in your favor. 

2) The big picture of our lives, the God written story: I have a resource I would highly recommend to each of you and that is “RESTLESS” by Jennie Allen. If you are struggling to figure out what your story or your purpose is, this book is amazing. It gets into each of the categories of our lives in greater detail, but the overall picture is this, God gives us so many different areas that we can use for him. Think for example, this infertility group or this blog, we are here together, encouraging and supporting each other because of the thing we have in common….infertility. If we didn’t have this one little aspect in our stories, we wouldn’t be able to support and encourage each other like we do. 
Each and every gift, suffering, person, etc that God gives you is there for a unique purpose and design. Remember, God didn’t make a mistake with you. His ways are always perfect. Every moment He gives us to refine us, make us more like Him. So what does your story look like? What areas of your story can you use RIGHT NOW for God?

At the end of the day, I think we have 2 amazing truths that bring our comparison back into focus. 
“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” Hebrews 12:1-2
In these verses there are 3 “let us statements”.
--> Let us throw off EVERYTHING that is a hinderance or a sin…COMPARISON. Stop it, don’t let it get a foothold.
--> Let us run the race marked out for US…You aren’t running someone else’s race, you are running your race. God marked out this specific race for you and you alone. 
--> Let us FIX our eyes on Jesus… Stop looking side to side, stop comparing your race standing to everyone else. Look up, look to Christ. See what He is doing, what He has done. Keep your focus on Him. What does HE say about your situation? 
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
--> What we see and feel here is NOTHING compared to what is to come. He will wipe every tear away, He will bring justice and light to what feels very “unfair” right now. 

Comparison is not an easy topic, it isn't a quick one time fix. It is something we must battle with day in and day out, but I hope you can be encouraged you are not alone. Your story matters because it was written by the One who created everything, and that should be enough to satisfy the questions and the longings. 

_____________________________________________________________________________
For further readings: John 21:22, Galatians 1:10, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:2, Hebrews 11:40, 2 Cor 4:17-18, 2 Cor. 12:8-9, Psalm 66:5


Thoughts from our study group - these girls get it! 
"God is outside of statistics" - no matter what they say, God is good and he is for us. He doesn't make mistakes.
"This is YOUR story, not theirs" - stop looking side to side and focus on what He is doing right now.

"Our faith is precious to God" and God is using this very moment, this very struggle to grow our faith.
When God is working and involved, we feel "peace and unity" about the directions he leads us in.
Testing shows us God's "good, pleasing and acceptable will" - no matter what phase we are in, we are living in His will right in this moment.

January 16, 2015

Just say "no"

Today, I took a first step... A first step to knowing my limits and just saying "no."

Acknowledging you have lost a child is hard, feeling like you have to stuff your emotions or hide them in tough situations is hard. Baby showers are hard, birthdays are hard. But you know what? Lying to yourself that it isn't hard, is even harder. It's like suffering inside your own brain with no way out. 

So as I struggled through the emotions of going to yet another baby shower this weekend, I decided to just say "no." And rather than letting me feel bad about also making that decision and upset I am so emotional and selfish and letting down a friend, Marc gently leaned over and said, "losing a child is something you never get over, so don't try to. You don't have to." He gave me the grace to be ugly and selfish, while still letting me protect my feelings from further heartbreak and frustration. 

Sometimes I get a glimpse of God in Marcus. God wants me, just as I am. I do not to have to put on a show or wear my church clothes. He is cool with me in my sweatpants and hoddie and mascara running down my face. He says "comes as you are and stop pretending like I don't already know!" And He allows me to not forget Peyton, no matter how much it hurts sometimes, because sometimes I just miss my baby. 

January 11, 2015

Thirty


How can this be? How can the eighteen year old that I fell in love with be hitting a new decade? Thirty always felt like such an "old" age, but now we slowly creep into this new norm and it doesn't feel different than twenties felt. Thirty years old and I have been blessed to spend 12 of those years with him. I could not be more proud of what an amazing man God has blessed me with. He is my best friend, my encourager, my supporter, my favorite. Happy birthday my love!

A celebratory birthday corn dog at the National Western Stock Show, plus deep fried Twinkies. Yum-o!


January 3, 2015

Rest [promise #1]

I sit here today, only 3 days into the new year and my heart is already wrestling. In my flesh, I want to just sit here and cry out, "How much longer Lord?! I am sooooo tired of waiting, of wanting, of not getting. I am tired of my plans competing against your plans, or of me just waiting on everything as if my life will somehow take shape eventually. I don't have hobbies anymore, all my friends have moved on in life. I have nothing Lord, but you. Is that what you want? Because you have all of me, stripped down to nothing. Naked before you waiting for you to act mightily, to give us a breakthrough. Lord, you say....'Come to me... and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28)'.... I want that rest, why don't I feel it? Lord, I am tired."

"Over the holidays and through all the parties, you granted my soul such peace, a peace that passes all understanding and comes only from your hand. So why now? Why now does my heart feel so burdened and upset? Why must comparison rear it's ugly head again and again. Will my heart ever learn to find true contentment in You and you alone? Why must my heart be so deceitful and wicked?"

"Grant me rest, grant me continual peace...don't let Satan have a stronghold over my contentment, my mind, my life. Be King and rule over it. Put to death those ugly pieces of my old self that clings so desperately for my way, my plans. Remind me again and again that your ways are better, always better. Keep teaching me about who You are in the midst of this pain, in the midst of this struggle. Help me to just stop struggling anymore and just rest!"

"Today, this week....I will remember your promises to REST in You alone. In this current moment, you call me to rest in you, to hide myself in you, to find comfort in you. Thank you Lord, love your daughter."

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28

December 31, 2014

Twenty-Fourteen Recap (in photos)

Top Moments of 2014
Looking back over all the good memories from 2014. Twenty-fourteen didn't include many of the moments I had hoped for, it was full of a lot of lonely, quiet moments but even in those I saw God's faithfulness and comfort. Yet, 2014 felt very full of life and meaningful love. Twenty-fourteen will go down as one full of sweet moments alone with my Savior, fun photo shoots for Little1Paperie, designing our dream farm house (and changing our minds about 100x), picking a home site, clearing load upon loads of scrub oak from the farmland to bring in power (and a driveway), Marc getting the streetrod on the road, Restless ladies Bible Study, lots of business travel, coordinating the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk, girls trip to Santa Fe, countless days exploring the land, putting in a driveway, getting lasik, refinishing our kitchen cabinets and family time full of unlimited laughs. What a beautiful, messy, blessed year. Can't wait to see what 2015 has in store!!!


Favorite Images from 2014

Goodbye 2014!

Awkward Family Photo of 2014

December 28, 2014

2015 Word - REMEMBER


Remember my good 'ol word of the year?

This year, God is calling me to "remember" and not just to recall our past, recall the lessons we learned in waiting, recall His faithfulness. This year it is more about the special nature of memorizing Scripture, being able to recall His Word when lies are thrown our way. To recount His truths when we face obstacles or we need to encourage. Psalms 119:11 says, "Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You." How often is my heart not focused on Truth and seeking answers from my own experience or the world around me?

We are commanded, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Phil. 4:8). I don't want God's very Word being the last thought on my mind. I want it front and center speaking to my heart while the pages may be closed, reminding me of His ways when I need it most.

This isn't a new concept. Continually throughout the Bible, God calls His people to "remember". Time after time, the Israelites are called to remember their time in Egypt and the mighty acts that God completed in their salvation and deliverance into the promised land. The Israelites were commanded, "these commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates" (Deut. 6:6-9). They were serious about keeping the ways of the Lord. They didn't have multiple Bibles per household back then, but they were studious about recounting, reciting and remembering what God did, His commands and His promises. That was all they had!

I believe I take for granted the written Word. It is there at my fingertips. Websites and Bible apps now help us easily navigate the Scripture without having to remember verses. We just need concepts. However, that can be so dangerous if we alter the written Word only for parts that we want to recall. I want to know more, remember more this year. I want the Word written on my heart, becoming part of my conversation, on replay in my brain when I am on the road or laying down. I want it bound to my mind, solid and firm. So this year (2015), my brain and memorization skills may be put to the test, but my word and goal will be to REMEMBER.


December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

Our Christmas movie 2014

Our Christmas 2014 was simple, busy but fun. Marc and I both agree, this was one of the best Christmases in a long time. I had to work all week except Christmas day, but we seemed to fit in 2 large parties, Christmas morning with Marc's family, Christmas night with my family and my annual Hobbit date with my little brother Gregory. I love when Christmas isn't about the presents, but is all about Christ and family.

As Christmas day progressed, a huge snow storm came in. By dinner time, the flakes were starting to fall and falling fast. By 9 PM, Marc and I could hardly make it home as 8-10 inches of glittering white snow covered the streets. It was magical!