July 6, 2014

For when anxiety builds {Phil 4:6-7}

So there we sat, 3rd row back, left hand side of the sanctuary, our usual spot.....preparing our hearts for a Wednesday night service which we never attend except on rare occasions. My mind way bogged down with work and all that had to be accomplished the next day. My heart anxious about how I was going to get it all finished. My attitude was less than stellar as I entered into week 8 of 10 traveling. I leaned over to Marc and said, "I am so anxious!"

He turned to me, "You know the Bible has solid advice to deal with that?" Yes, I know. I recited right then and there what I have heard a million times,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6-7

Do not be anxious...easier said than done. How many times have I prayed that prayer? How many times have I recited that truth? Why is it so hard to accept God's peace? Why doesn't my heart feel guarded in Christ Jesus at this moment? How many more times will I ask for peace, ask for the anxiety to disappear?

When I have to travel yet again....do not be anxious....God gave me this moment
When my heart aches for a baby....present my request to God....and accept His supernatural peace even when the timing doesn't make sense
When it is hard to see how we will ever have the resources to build our house or by our land....keep on praying

And when I forget, Lord keep reminding me of this truth. I don't have to be anxious, you have called me out of it, away from the pain and confusion and into your clarity and peace. I don't have to understand it because you guard my heart. Help me to rest on your truth, to claim it over my life and circumstances. "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I" am (Psalm 61:2).

June 21, 2014

Moments that Define Us

"When a moment or a person forever changes the way you view God and the way you view life, it seems to keep coming up." - Jennie Allen, Restless pg. 120

For a while lately, I have felt a little silly when writing in this blog. I have felt like every single post still contains mention of No. 1 and miscarriage and grief....certainly almost a year and a half later I should have other things to talk about! I am not in a deep depression over the event anymore, why does it still fill almost every waking thought. No one wants to continue hearing month over month about this struggle.

Daily though, I have to remind myself that this is my story. No matter what other people care to read or hear, God has given me this unique situation to change me. He has given me this situation to bring Him glory in the midst of this pain. He has called me to walk this road however long and hard it may be because at the end of it, it is only Him. I want Him to tell me "Well done. I entrusted you with this journey and though it was rough, you grew, you changed, you used it to bring me praise, you used it to impact and change others."

For that reason, I will not back down from talking about our struggle. I will not let Satan minimize the impact of what God is doing right here and now in my life and the lives of others. My No. 1 was a defining moment, it shook my up and made me look at life differently. What is yours? Don't be afraid to talk about it, shout it to the world, make it your mission field.

June 15, 2014

To my baby daddy on Father's Day

I must admit, most of the time I doubt that Marc wants kids as much as I do (bad wife here). I have cried my heart and soul out on the journey for the past 3 years, but I could probably count the times I have seen him cry on 1 hand. He is stronger than I know and definitely a rock when my emotions are all over the place. 

Yet last weekend, as we sat "stalking" people on Facebook, I saw those tears. I saw just a glimpse of his daddy heart. As we scoured the pages seeing other people's families and fun, his heart ached in sync with mine. His guard went down long enough for me to get it. We really are on the same page. 

Oh how I wish that this Father's Day would have been the day. How I wish he had a child in his arms, but I know that when that day comes, Marcus is going to make one awesome dad. If anything, this journey has changed his perspective on kids, refined him to what type of father he wants to be. He is such a strong godly man that desires to be available, present and active in his kids' lives. I can't wait for the time God gives him the chance to use these skills.

June 8, 2014

Do You Wanna Live with Grandma? (Frozen Parody)

Lately, Roxy has been everything but a well behaved dog. With working from home, we have started giving her more privileges like being alone in the house (not in her cage) for up to 4 hours. She was doing pretty good for awhile....but then, she stole 1 brownie off the counter....1 brownie turned into a whole tub of chocolate covered almonds....which turned into a whole box of chocolate chip cookies....which turned into a book and my Coach wallet. It seems like most of these events occur close to when I am traveling a lot for work so I truly think they are anxiety driven, but it makes us so mad. With thoughts of building a new house, the last thing we want is our dog ruining the floors, carpet, dragging mud all throughout, bringing in who knows what from the farm. There are so many times I think it would be nice if we gave her to my parents (they want a dog), but I just don't know what life would be like without her....I kind of cry each time I think about it.

Last weekend, as I lamented over my chewed on wallet, I for some reason had the Frozen song "Do you wanna build a snowman?" song stuck in my head. I have never seen the movie, maybe someday I will jump on the bandwagon, but for now, my mom-friends and coworkers post enough parodies or actual clips or quote it enough that I feel like I have seen the whole thing. Here's what I came up with:

Do You Wanna Live with Grandma? (Frozen Parody)

Do you wanna live with grandma?
Come on lets go and play.
Over there she has treats galore,
You won't need me anymore.
Man don't you love to play! 

She loves to talk right to you,
in funny voices
I wish I could tell you why! 
Do you wanna live with grandma? 
You would love to live with grandma. 

Do you wanna live with grandma? 
Think of how much fun you'll have.
She has so many balls.
You'll run all through her halls.
Come on don't you want to stay? 

I know gramps will walk you,
What more could you ever want? 
Do you wanna live with grandma? 
I bet you wanna live with grandma! 

Do you wanna live with grandma? 
Mom and dad would be so proud.
They would build a house,
Without no cares,
Cause you aren't there.
It would be "no pets allowed"! 

You would be so spoiled.
You would get fat,
There is no time to be sad.
Do you wanna live with grandma?
Come on let's live with grandma! 

Ok, so it needs a lot of work and I probably need to see the movie now. Seriously, what do you do with a dog that is downright naughty, but so much your only child and firstborn all wrapped up in a snuggly, squishy package?  

June 6, 2014

House plans are in!


Can you believe it? House plans are in!!!!! Well, the house plans that we like this week.... if you have been following our farm land journey, you will know that we have changed our minds every other day (sometimes multiple times each day) on what we truly want to do living out on the farm land. Do we build little now (<600 sq. ft.) and then our dream house down the road? Do we wait now and build our dream house only once we have the money to build big? Do we build a barn with apartment and live in it until we can build something? Do we just build huge now and hope financially we keep our jobs for the long haul? What to do? Sometimes I think there are way too many options. However, our hearts keep coming back to this one little farm house. When we first started looking at house plans late last year/early January, this was the house we felt set on building. Except we made too many modifications at the time that it looked too expensive and too complicated for our liking, so we started looking further.

After months, our hearts still really love this farm house. There are two versions, a smaller and medium sized farm house, both versions contain a huge wrap around porch, 2 bathrooms and at least 2 bedrooms. We were really set on the smaller version for awhile (~700 sq. ft). We sent out for the blueprints and they finally came in!!!! .... and with them comes a whole new slew of stressors. If you thought your marriage was strong, just try building a house together. Two very opinionated first borns in the hardwood isle at Home Depot...watch out!

We quickly found that the smaller the house plan, the more claustrophobic planning felt. While we want to truly simplify and live different than what the standard "American dream" calls for when planning a house, we also need some space to move. It seriously was too small for our liking, we knew once the drawings came in that it just wasn't going to happen. So we quickly ordered the larger version (and they were on sale!). The larger house adds about 500 sq. ft so the house will be relatively the same size as our current home, plus there is a basement and extra bedroom that weren't available in the smaller model. Plus the outdoor living space is unbelievable! Wrap around porches on 3 of 4 sides.

It is so fun to finally be "settled" on a house plan. It makes it feel that much more realistic that someday we might actually be living out there! Now I am sure from seeing our track record with this process, these plans most likely will change, but hey it is all part of the crazy process of building your own home. The land owners will be back from Europe in the next couple weeks and electricity is slated to be brought onto the land in mid-June. Hopefully that means we will be under contract in the next 30 days or so.....so exciting!

[update: as of writing this last night and scheduling it for the morning, Marc has already informed me he wants a different house plan now. Ha! What did I say, our minds keep changing.]

June 2, 2014

Busy for the sake of busy

"Busy" has become such a hated term in my book. People constantly use the term "busy", making their lives seem unusually crazy. I feel like we have this impulsive urge to be busy, look busy...but yet, business is totally real and legitimate in this culture and our lives. I much prefer the term "full" when describing this phenomenon. Our lives are full in so many ways.

Lately, my life feels full to the max. I am traveling out of state 2-4 days each week with work, trying to catch up on normal life at home when I return, leading a Saturday Bible Study which I love, trying to be a good supportive wife, building and designing a home, trying to prep our house for possibly selling it this summer (and filing insurance claims for the recent storms we had hit our area). There are a lot of days that just checking one thing off my list is an accomplishment in itself. It took me 5 months to respond to my poor Compassion child, maybe I will get my cousin's graduation gift sent one of these days. Things have had to take a back burner. I "temporarily" suspended my Etsy shop 3 months ago (still haven't opened it back up), I hardly ever have the time to sit down and write (although I have a million topics jumping out of my head), working out maybe happens once a week if that. I feel like I am in "survival" mode most days.

The other day, in the midst of being overwhelmed and frustrated, I was reminded again that it is okay to put these things aside. We have to prioritize and chose to take on those things we love and that fill us up. Work, it isn't going away anytime soon, but there is so much more to life than work. In my off-work-hours (when I do get them), I need to ensure I am filling that time with things I love to do and serving how God is calling me to serve. If it doesn't meet those two simple criteria, it is just worthless and a waste of the time I have.

"Turn my heart towards your statutes and not towards selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." 
Psalm 119:36-37

So here is to not being unnecessarily busy. Here's to realizing that it is all just stuff, most of life is all just filler. Here's to taking moments to love, serve and enjoy. Here's to embracing down time and not feeling a compulsive need to be busy. Here's to surviving a crazy full summer and somehow enjoying it to the full potential!

May 31, 2014

In it for the long haul

3 years ago, we came off the pill...no clue we would be here today.

3 years of trying...1 child lost on this earth but gained in Heaven.

3 whole years.....hard to imagine it has been this long.

Three years fighting infertility and miscarriage and most of the time feeling like it is most definitely wining. At times, I think this journey has gotten easier...but other times, it continues to feel extremely isolating and long. I hope to each day grow more, then other days I seem to revert back into my old ways. Positive growth in the right direction is something right?

Each day I think "Lord, how much longer? This journey feels so long!"

But he continues to say, "Do you see how long the path to Calvary was? Do you see how long we fought for you? Do you see how much my Son suffered for your sake? And you are worried about this? I am the giver of life. I redeem the broken. I am fighting for you still. Be patient my child, this road is short in light of the eternity I have planned for you. I am coming soon so keep being you. Live for me despite this, glorify me through the pain, comfort others with this same love you feel from me." And when I feel like I can't do it much longer, he purposely has all the songs that strengthened me during our loss (my "miscarriage soundtrack") play back to back on Pandora in perfect order, no commercials or other songs to pollute their impact....those songs never randomly align. He gives me verses that specifically minister to my heart. He gives me grace for another day.

3 years feels so long.

3 years and no idea when the end may be.

3 years but tomorrow isn't even guaranteed. 

This is my story. It's broken and lovely, and I know God is redeeming even those moments that hurt the most..... I wouldn't trade it. 

May 24, 2014

The importance of self-reflection

A few weeks ago, my work sent me to a 4 day long manager training course. Four days of no emails or calls (literally, we were told to disconnect from everything), four days of intense "group therapy." Seriously, for four days, we looked at who we are, what makes us leaders and how knowledge of our motivations, reactions, etc can make us better managers that equip our staff and teams to be not just better workers, but better people. It was really cool, but also really intense. For four days, I laughed and cried with my table group (our assigned learning group) as we uncovered past reasons for our reactionary patterns and wrestled through current struggles we have within our roles as managers. We had team building activities and encouraged each other along as daily we did things to step outside our comfort zones, to learn and grow as people. My company truly does an amazing job caring about its people and helping to empower them to learn and grow.

Part of our pipe-cleaner farm, my dog

Immediately, the Psych major in me felt so at home with all the questions and prodding. I am not one to be afraid to open up and share what I am going through or what I have been through. For the first full day, I was convinced that I needed to quit my current role and head into something more in line with my counseling degree. Literally, I was so in my element here....until I had a full out meltdown. Day one we were uncovering why we react and what feelings there are behind those reactions, and then how to change. I felt immediately a need to correct wrongs and change who I was as a person. I called Marc in probably the most awkward phone call he has ever received. I swear he was about ready to jump in the car to come save me from this training...it was that dramatic and bad. Just imagine me bawling in the lobby of the hotel because we had roommates and I didn't want them seeing the ugly.

Through Marc coaching me off this emotional roller coaster, I started to realize something, psychology and therapy can be truly dangerous to people if offered outside of the confines of Christianity. For once, I was actually embarrassed by my psychology roots. You see, therapists have a way of getting you to recognize things, uncovering things simply by the way they speak and the questions they ask. They have a huge responsibility in the impact and influence they play in the lives of people. In the sake of self-improvement, they dig and prod deeper into your psyche.

Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that we sometimes need to sit back and evaluate ourselves. Without proper examination, we can't grow....but doing this apart from Scripture and God's view this journey can be dark and destructive. Self-improvement for the sake of self-improvement without direction and insight from the God who intimately formed you is dangerous. I saw that the hard way. I had bought into all that the therapist was saying, probably far too easily. For a whole day, I was listening to worldly advice that was only about satisfying myself and helping me be who I wanted to be....and I felt lost, insignificant and broken.

(Photo from shereadstruth.com)
You see, apart from looking at myself through the lens of God, I am just that, broken and lost and in desperate need of a Savior. Apart from seeing myself as created by Him, for Him and exactly how He wanted me to be, I feel a constant need to change myself, even down to the qualities that make me uniquely me. He knows the very number of hairs on my head because He put them there. He knows my insecurities and struggles, and He meets me there.

That first night as I wrestled with how messed up I felt, I was gently reminded that I needed to refocus my intentions during this leadership training. The advice we were getting was good, but it was worldly. I needed to reframe how I looked at this class and train my mind to look at the advice in light of Scripture. For the remaining 3 days, when I felt insignificant or an urge to fix, I was reminded to examine my heart and to seek God's view of the situation. With that mind shift, no longer did I feel chaos overwhelming my mind and shaking the core of who I was. I felt peace, approval and love that accompanied encouragement to change some things, but overall a security of who I am in Christ, an approval of Christ that can't shake what anyone else in this world tells me about myself. I am loved so much that the Savior of this world died for me, with all my flaws and failures....He saw my potential and created me to be me. Me being me, that's how I serve Him, that's how He has uniquely equipped me to bring His glory to this world.

May 5, 2014

I'm a mom...you're a mom

As Mother's Day is fast approaching, my heart begins to ache for those women going through infertility, miscarriage and adoption. During this season, so many people are sending their well wishes to other mom's congratulating them for the hard work they do raising children, being selfless and for just being awesome! Yet inside, so many women ache to hear those same accolades and words of encouragement. Inside, you wish that you could be a mother. Your heart longs to make it to Mother's Day and be able to celebrate alongside your fellow mommas.

Well, today, I am here to tell you. I am a mom! You are a mom! Despite the fact that no one from the outside may be able to physically tell, we are moms already. Motherhood is not defined by how many children you birth into this world. It isn't defined by how many children you are wrangling to get out the door. Motherhood is a state of being, part of who we are. Our hearts ache for our children. We dream about them, what they will look like, who they will become. Just because we don't have children to hold in our arms does not make us any less of a mother. In fact, may I be so bold as to venture that this very struggle you are facing, will make you a stronger, more faithful mother! You keep your children uplifted in prayer. You hope and wait in expectation of things not yet seen. You cry your soul out as you long to see those dreams become reality. You are an excellent mother already!

This year, I encourage you, celebrate Mother's Day to it's fullest. Don't let the sorrow overwhelm you. Embrace that you are just as much that mother you see in the grocery store or standing up in church. Motherhood changes us. We aren't the same people we were prior to this journey. Our journey to motherhood may be longer than most, but we became mothers the moment our hearts opened up to the possibility of having children. Our mothering tendencies and anticipations grow with each month we wait. While this journey is hard and long, we are moms every step of the way. Congratulations mom! May you feel loved, cherished and strengthened this Mother's Day season. You deserve it.

May 3, 2014

Audrey's Song

One year ago, as I continued to wade through the depths of grief and loss, I began to research songs pertaining to miscarriage and child loss. For some reason, I thought they might bring comfort and hope to my saddened heart. Music always has its way of doing that to me. I found a couple of songs that so dearly resonated to the pain I was going through, brought me new understanding, helped me see the hope in a dark situation. You see, I always knew there was hope. I always knew in my head that my child was in a better place, but sometimes it takes a while for that truth to sink into your soul, to actually start meaning something.

Long before we ever saw those two pink lines on a pregnancy test, God was working on my husband's heart. My husband is so wise beyond his years. Somewhere along the way, he and God had a talk. A talk that for awhile, kind of made me angry. I mean, how dare he pray that about my children that I want so much!

He prayed, "Lord, if our children will not love you and seek after you with all their hearts, then Lord, please don't give us children." - Marc

That phrase stung. Even now, the thought of it pours forth emotion in my soul. In this prayer, I heard "don't give us children." I never considered the depths of the first part. The realization that my child's disobedience to turn from God would mean forever suffering apart from God, apart from us. As I listened to "I will carry you" by Selah almost a year ago to this day, I suddenly realized, this wasn't about me and my pain anymore. Marc had said a prayer that we believed in. How dare I steal heaven from my child by wishing they were here in my arms! My precious little child, was spared suffering on this earth and suffering for all eternity. God was gracious enough to take my child directly into the throne room of the Almighty. My child was spared and I sat here angry about my empty arms. 

At that moment, that head knowledge of what Heaven and salvation are like took on whole new meaning. It was no longer about what we did wrong, but all about His grace, His undeserved grace that looked upon my child and said "I know what you might do in this life, and I don't want you to suffer that way. Today, I bring you into paradise. I will care for you forever." I, on my best day, could never offer that same assurance and love to my child. Never. For that, I am forever grateful. Forever grateful that my husband prayed that prayer. Forever grateful that even though our arms are empty, our child is saved. Forever grateful that one day, we will be united. 

"But I know that the silence has brought me to His voice.
And He says

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning, walked her through the parted seas, angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?"
Selah, "I will carry you"