Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prego shots...

Here you go. Belly shots. I am in my 31st week and these are my first pictures. I don't know why I haven't taken any yet...maybe it's because in general, I don't take a ton of pictures of myself or maybe it's because I feel so large that documenting my 'largeness' just isn't that appealing. I was a lot more fit when I was prego with Noah. I have never had swollen feet, but I've got some 'thick' toes...I just never knew my feet could spread out over the sides of my flip flops!

Anyway, Em loves my belly! Well, it's not that she loves my actual belly but her little brother who is growing in it. She tells my belly that she loves him, that they'll be best friends, that she can't wait to meet him...

*And then people ask me questions like, "Is it possible that what happened to Noah could happen to this baby?"

Anything is possible. Anything. I don't know.

No one knows...

All I know is that I have hope...hope that the "anything" in this case is life and the opportunity for Emily to actually grow old with her little brother...not as a sweet memory or a picture on the wall, but as a physical, tangible part of her life. God, please...You know my heart! Please!

Em was my junior photographer in this pic. I wanted to show you though, the amazing art on the wall! Em and her Auntie pulled out the acrylics and a canvas and Em went to town!

And, as you can see down the hall behind my big old belly, I painted plain canvas' to display Em's art work.

I saw the idea in a magazine and had to do it, especially because Em loves to express herself artistically and I want to encourage her in it, and because we have a stainless refrigerator so it isn't magnetic, therefore, no displaying creativity on the fridge!

Here's a close up of the piece she did with her Auntie.

Over the past few years as Em's brought artwork home from school or other venues, I've been overwhelmed with where to put it, though I've wanted to display it proudly to show her how truly great she is. After I saw this idea in a magazine, I was so excited that I could display it in our house, but with a bit of continuity. Here's how it went down:

  • I bought 2 for 1 canvas' on sale at the local art supply store.
  • I bought a tiny can of high gloss paint that matched my kitchen from local paint dealer/home supply shop.
  • I painted the canvas' with Em's help and a small roller brush on the back porch and let them air dry.
  • Then, we used pieces of cardboard boxes that we had in the garage to slide in the backs of each canvas. We cut them to size and then you slide them behind the center wood strip on the back of the canvas. No need for adhesive, just slip it behind there and it'll be pretty secure. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
  • Em and I selected some pieces she wanted to display and we grabbed a bunch of push pins (push pins + cardboard backing = art actually staying put on canvas)
  • Voila!
There you go! It's that easy! So, if you want an easy project and great way to display your kids' art work, have fun with the above project! If you still want your fridge to remain an art display, go for it! Either way, you'll feel really good about your kids' pieces and they'll feel like they are featured artists at the local art gallery!

Believe me, life is too short to be so anal that you don't display their work because you want your house to look like a model home! They'll notice that you either throw their work away or that you stash it away in a closet, bin or filing cabinet. Skip the model home and let your house look like an art museum! When they go off to college you can call on an interior designer...right now, though, let their work shine! You may just be raising a little Renoir or Picasso!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Forgive you?! Part III

Over my dead body!

Maybe? I'll touch on that later...

What if all of us really forgave the way Jesus instructed us to forgive?

Would it mean our hearts would not still ache for the pain another had caused us? No.

Would it mean that by forgiving another person I'm giving them permission to hurt me again? No.

Does that mean they won't hurt me again? No.

Would it mean I would have to forgive a person more than once? Yes.

If I forgive a person do I actually have to like that person still or hang out with them? No.

Can I hate them? No.

If I forgive someone who has hurt me, does it release them from their sin? No.

God releases us from our sins when we repent, or turn away from them. We don't have the power to "release" another from their sin, just ourselves by choosing to forgive. They have to have their own conversation with God, and you can rest assured God's way of dealing with us, though loving and jam packed with GRACE, is going to be more painful heart-wise than anything we could even try to heap on another just by holding onto unforgiveness! Forgiveness does not equal no consequences...obviously if you murder someone you go to prison for it, but God will still forgive you...

So, then, they aren't off the hook? Not in the way our limited minds may think...but we are, even though we may have been the one wronged. There will always be accountability for our choices, even in the midst of forgiveness.

So, then, why would we be 'off' any hook if we didn't do the hurting in the first place? Because when we choose to forgive another person we experience, and are able to walk in, a freedom that's almost impossible to explain. Sometimes it's gradual, but forgiveness frees the forgiver.

Unforgiveness does not bring freedom...instead it invites one's own personal prison, and not only that, it opens the door to physical, emotional, and spiritual decay.

Unforgiveness is a destroyer, but only for the one that holds onto it...

But you don't understand:
  • My husband is addicted to porn...
  • My wife lied to me for years about her eating disorder...
  • My husband has been having sex with a friend of mine for months...
  • My wife treats me like a child and makes me feel like less of a person...
  • My husband is abusive...
  • My wife constantly compares me to every other man alive, I'll never be good enough...
  • My husband has a gambling addiction and now we are in debt over our heads...
  • My wife only loves me because of the lifestyle I provide her...
  • My husband is gone all the time for work so this friendship with this other man is just to fill the lonely's nothing, really...
  • My wife is an alcoholic...
  • My husband had an affair years ago but I just can't get over it...
  • My wife constantly criticizes me...
  • My husband constantly criticizes me...
  • My wife is a workaholic...
  • My husband is a workaholic...
  • My wife hasn't had sex with me in ages...she's completely frigid...
  • My husband has been sleeping with several women, most of our marriage...
  • My wife just told me she's leaving...
  • My husband just filed for divorce...
  • Insert "wife" or "husband" into any of the above situations or write in your own...
Any way you peel it, when the person we love the very most, the one we committed to on our wedding day, decides that holding up their end of the deal is just too much work and not worth the effort, what do we do? Where does that leave us?

"What the freak am I supposed to do with this unexpected scenario? I sure as hell know I'm not going to forgive the bastard/bee-otch! Over my dead body will I actually forgive them!"

And that's where my concern lies...over your dead body. Because, no matter how it may all turn out, no matter how much your heart may hurt, harboring unforgiveness in your heart toward your spouse only hurts you. We think it hurts the other person but in reality, unless they have apologized and expressed remorse, they aren't looking back so your attempt to hurt them through unforgiveness goes unnoticed. God has good in store for you. He designed you for greatness but unforgiveness holds you back from walking on that beautiful path...even a path lined with thorns.

I know, and have known, people who have chosen not to forgive. Some of them are physically sick. Others paranoid and "worse case scenario" card holders. Still others are so controlled by the very person who wronged them, even though that person is no longer in their life, because their thoughts are constantly directed at hating that other person. They want freedom but can't find it because they literally can't let go of the reality that they were wronged.

We've all been wronged. Each person on the face of the earth, at some point, will have their heart broken. It does hurt more when it's from someone we love. Obviously. It also hurts to know that we'll be the ones doing the hurting at some point.

But at the end of the day, will we choose to forgive? Will we also choose to humbly repent to those we have hurt? And if the answer to each of these is no, whether for you or the other person, know that we are responsible before God for ourselves...unfortunately we cannot force another person to make the right choice.

And that is where post numero 4 will come in...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Legal Prostitution, part deux

So...this is the post where I'll likely offend a bunch of people. You see, I do not believe divorce is never an option, but I do hope it's the last option, after ALL is said and done. I know, because I know and love many people who have traveled through divorce, that both sides must work together, and, if that is not the case, there isn't anything one can do to change the other person. God's in that business, and, unfortunately, some people have become deaf and numb to God's voice and direction. Scripture even reads that God gives us over to our hardened hearts. And Christians who judge other Christians for getting divorces should probably read some of Jesus' words in Matthew regarding divorce...

I'll probably offend all the He-Man Woman Haters who think if their woman would just shut up, submit and serve a hot fresh meal each night their lives would resemble some sort of scene out of a movie. And, I'll definitely offend all the women who think guys are all the same...lazy, spoiled husbands who just want to be cleaned up after and have sex all the time. And then, of course, there's everyone else in between.

I don't think I'm perfect. I do think, however, that in marriage a lot of work is required for both parties. Humbling, selfless work. And, truly, some just aren't cut out for it.

The truth is, the divorce rate is 50% for many reasons. If you are actually to a point where you have to pay a service to facilitate an affair, which, by the way, if you think about it, is quite pathetic, really. I mean, shouldn't the fact that you have to pay someone to have an affair with you be quite telling that: one, you are desperate; two, you suck at meeting people face to face; three you are seeking intimacy or companionship with someone other than your spouse; and four, you are really just prostituting yourself by signing up for the service in the first place. Gee, how original. Justified prostitution? Really?! No. It's just plain old prostitution and by signing up, you are prostituting yourself...because you did pay a "money-back guaranteed" flat rate, right?

I can't help it, but the picture that keeps coming to my mind is of a woman continually kicking her husband in the balls. She kicks and kicks and wonders why he can't just get up and fulfill every whim of hers, all the while he's hunched over, trying to regain his bearings, let alone keep from puking.

I don't have balls but I imagine if I were continuously kicked in them I would quickly seek protection from the kicker. I'd likely look for a "cup" if you will. Some women wonder why their guys are disengaged, distant, avoiding contact/communication/intimacy with them. Have your man's balls even recovered from the last time you kicked them?

Now, I don't imagine that wives are literally walking around, kicking their husband's in the balls, but it's important to ask ourselves, as wives, the question of "Why did I fall in love with him in the first place?"

"But he's got a lot of room for improvement..." Duh...but did you fall in love with him for that rescue him or fix him? OBVIOUSLY he has room for improvement. WE ALL DO.

And then there's the guys. Not all of them, mind you, but the ones where the picture comes to mind of a guy in control with a leash on his lady, or a leash on life. The picture of a man fearful, yes, fearful, of losing control. Maybe his career isn't exactly what he'd dreamed or he believed a societal lie that getting married meant giving up his "manhood" or "freedom". He puts in the long hours to provide for his woman, who now is mostly conditioned to her posh American lifestyle, he sees that and is happy she has "stuff" but she has now allowed "stuff" to fill the parts of her heart that he once filled because, of course, those parts of his heart are filled with more work to continue the lifestyle. And so now, he loves his job more than his wife, not intentionally, but because his job pays him, rewards him, and his wife just keeps kicking him in the balls. More. More. More. But what she really wanted from him when she married him, in most cases, was for him to love her which translates: time and togetherness. Now their lives are filled with stuff, and lots of it, but the desire for more will never be satisfied with more because it can only be satisfied with each other...the reason they sought one another out in the first place.

I'm having difficulty articulating my heart and thoughts here...and there are many more running through my head for this series...believe me.

I know this post seems like I am siding with men. I am not. That picture just kept coming to my head. I'm a middle child so hopelessly always trying to find the middle ground...the common place where peace can be made. I know it is not possible in all cases. There are terribly abusive situations, extremes where people are dying, quite literally, because abuse, torment and neglect have taken residency. By definition: marital unfaithfulness. Yes, there is a reason for everything...but my heart in writing these posts is not to justify why we react and respond and treat others as we do, but instead for each of us to pause for a minute and take responsibility for our own crap, as well as assess our situations and see if they are indeed abusive, and, God forbid, if we are the abusers.
  • "What part, both positive and negative, am I playing in our marriage?"
  • "What responsibility can I take for our current marital state?"
  • "If this literally is all his/her fault, have I done all I can to help?"
  • "If my spouse is seeking an affair, why is she/he seeking a relationship outside of our own?" (What is our own lacking...)
  • And, again, back to the heart of the matter, "Why did I fall in love with this person in the first place?"
(More to come when I am not cranky and mad at a 1-lb ball of fur who woke me up at 4:20 a.m.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

De-sensitization by the masses

(These are my opinions because this is my blog. I don't need a disclaimer.)

My friend was telling me about a service website she saw on some morning show or talk show or something.

Their tag line:

"Life is short. Have an affair."

Their brag line:

"The World's Premier Discreet Dating Service with over 6,245,000 anonymous members"

This is the part of the blog post where I go off just a little bit:

What. The. Hell???

This. Is. Utter. Bullshit. Madness!!!

(These are even edited words, so if you are offended, please quickly get over it!)

The only thing that they do have correct is that life is short.

I am not a marriage expert, but I will be married next weekend for 17 years. No, the amount of years a couple has been married does not always translate into anything other than years, however, mine does. I am not going to sit here and brag about what an amazing wife I have been to Jason or what an amazing husband he has been to me. But my imperfect marriage totally stinking ROCKS! And I am a damn good wife and Jason is a wonderful husband!

Truth be told, we have emotionally gone to hell and back and I'm not just talking about our experience with losing a child or living on the brink of bankruptcy. There have been seasons in our marriage where we just weren't that enamored with one another. If you've been married more than one week, you will know to what I am referring. Literally, the honeymoon is over. I, in particular, went through a long season where I compared Jason to other men, wishing he had some of their traits. I was inviting discontent. I let those thoughts of wishing he was more verbally open, spiritually expressive, less of a workaholic, a little less clueless, I can't even remember what all else, become attention to, or realistically, attraction to, those traits in other men.

The good things that made up my husband, those that drew me to him in the first place and caused me to forsake all other men, were heart was wandering even if I told myself it wasn't going any further than that. The mind is a powerful place.

I finally confessed it to Jason. It was freeing...and painful. However, after sharing my heart with him, the wishing he was someone else didn't have any more power. God promises that He is the Light and will expose hidden things. There is a reason He tells us to confess to one another. Because then, Satan doesn't have a grasp on us...

Because. There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. A. Secret. Period. God knows and He will not co-exist with darkness, especially that which we attempt to hide.

You starts out just "innocently" having "crushes" on actors and attractive people in magazines, or a cute guy or girl at work or even a friend's boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. Then your mind wanders a bit and starts wondering how that guy or that girl treats their boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. Then the thoughts of comparison set in and with it a whole gamut of un-fulfilling lies and discontent. "Every body's life is better than mine..." It's a snowball effect. And, some snow balls become avalanches. Things are crushed in avalanches. People die in avalanches.

What had started with just thinking Brad Pitt or whatever actress was hot has now translated into a mind and heart constantly consumed with everything that is wrong with the person you married and everything right about the next guy or girl.

"If only my husband or wife were more like so and so, our marriage would be happy..."

This kind of thinking is toxic and literally, no candy-coating here, straight out of Satan's very best play books. And guess what? People buy into it every single day.

The only thing that wishing our spouses would change to be more like so and so brings is discontent, dissatisfaction and a bloated sense of us thinking that everything wrong with our marriage is obviously the fault of the other person. I mean, obviously, right?! #$%^&*

Marriages fail because TWO people don't work together. Marriages succeed because TWO people work together. TWO is the key number here. NOBODY gets married thinking they'll have an affair or get a divorce. Why get married, then, if you just know it'll fail?

Despite what many may think, marriage is not the opportunity for one person to make necessary changes in their spouse. It is up to us as individuals to work on our own crap, sometimes alone, sometimes together. It's hard work. And guess what?! Marriage is the very thing that will expose our ugliness. Our crap comes to the surface in marriage. It seems inopportune, but if you mean all the words you said before you got totally loaded at your reception, then there wasn't a disclaimer that read:

  • We're good as long as you don't offend me.
  • If you piss me off and totally break my heart, I am allowed to harbor the unforgiveness for a certain period of time, and after that you need to tread on thin ice around me...forever.
  • I'm perfect, so whenever you disappoint me, you will need to hear about it for X number of days, and or, years.
  • If you sin against me, I have full permission to sin right on back...brace yourself.
  • If I choose not to sin in retaliation, you will know about it because of the glow that hovers around my head at my mere existence.
  • And anything else I choose to add...
God is serious about marriage. He also knew it wouldn't be easy for us. Marriage is not just co-existing, but self-sacrificial living. If you don't believe me, as far as it has to do with God's word, then read it for yourself. He doesn't expect anything from us He hasn't already asked of Himself. Jesus laid down His life for His Bride. That's us. And we are asked to lay down our lives for Him. And in marriage, we are expected to love our spouse as, if you are disenchanted with your spouse, I guess a safe conclusion is to say you are really disenchanted with your own life. Harsh reality. I know I was. I wanted Jason to read my mind that I wanted a stronger spiritual leader in our house. I thought it needed to look a certain way. All the while, I was expecting him to just know what I wanted.

News flash: God did not create men with extra-sensory perception. They will not read our minds...and if they did, we'd complain that they weren't reading it right, anyway!!!!

LET ME TELL YOU...we all, every single one of us, NOT JUST HOLLYWOOD, have a PUBLIC PERSONA and a PRIVATE PERSONA. That means, when I walk out the door, 8.5 to 9 out of 10 times you will find that my face is neatly painted with a bit of mascara and semi-temporary lip gloss, I've colored in my less than fabulous eyebrows, the teeth are brushed (usually 10 out of 10 on this one...), I'm wearing a bra (again with the usually 10 out of 10 there...), and I have a smile on my face. If people ask me in passing how I am doing, the reply usually has a tune of "Great! Fine! Good! ...and you?" And as much as I am a very open person, and real, I really only open up to a handful of women, and even then, no matter how hard it is, I wouldn't ever throw my husband under the bus. Because I am not perfect. It's a harsh reality I've learned over 17 years of whining to God and Him being faithful to reveal truth...

The problem is: We compare our private lives to the public lives we see in others...the lives we portray. We will always, always, always then be disappointed and discontent because reality is, none of us is perfect.

Marriage is hard. Don't get married if you think it'll all be roses. Don't get married if you constantly will expect roses...and little love notes...and back rubs...In fact, if you have expectations that your spouse's one job in life is to fulfill your every desire, maybe not all big, but at least all the little, are you going to be highly disappointed...and we can all venture to guess that your spouse's life will be miserable living with you.

I am so sick of women thinking they are the freaking princess in a relationship and must be waited on hand and foot...and men thinking they are the machismo manly man that needs to be treated right by his woman. I know I let those thoughts run through my mind a time or two.

Oh yeah, and by the way, marriage isn't all about us. Marriage is a WE thing. Otherwise, stay single. And guess what? Just as my girlfriends and I have found, for reasons not our own, we can never seem to synchronize our "funk" stages, marriage is the same way. One is up while the other is down. Looking into it further we realized that God has graciously allowed it to reveal itself that way so that we are able to encourage one another, building the other up, instead of all be low together, pulling each other further down into a pit.

Sacrificial service. If we aren't ready to sacrifice and serve our spouse, we shouldn't get married.

I can't even begin to explain how pissed and angry and utterly grieved I am that there is an affair service being openly promoted in the media!

It's not the mere existence of the concept of having an affair, because unless you were literally born yesterday and have rock for a heart, you know that affairs have been "on the market" since humans had hearts. This is not new...or original. Unfortunately.

It's just mind-bogglingly blatant and predatory in its subtlety...and it isn't even subtle! #$%^&*.

And for those who actually believe that having a "guaranteed affair" experience will satiate what their spouse isn't filling...I am so sad for them because the "anonymity" of the whole operation will eat at their hearts and destroy not only their marriages, but their belief that marriage, though hard, is good and can be very beautiful when the TWO involved both lay down their lives for the other.

Let me be so bold as to say a few things about why our marriage isn't seeking an affair service:
  • Jason and I have had 17+ years of practicing forgiveness.
  • Even if our hearts are broken, we forgive quickly and do our own soul searching.
  • We still hold hands.
  • We kiss every single night before we go to bed, even if we are mad at each other.
  • Sometimes we have to allow ourselves quiet and space before we talk about a hard issue.
  • We apologize to one another and take responsibility for our own short-comings.
  • We do not raise our voices at each other because that accomplishes nothing and only causes pain.
  • We hug.
  • We still slap each other on the butt.
  • We've even had sex sometimes when neither or one or the other just didn't feel like it...because it's important...and if some people didn't have sex whenever they just didn't feel like it, they would never have it...most sexless marriages fail or are also known as "Friendships". I have plenty of friends, thankyouverymuch.
  • Jason is my very best friend. I decided it. I've stuck with it. And even friends hurt each others feelings.
  • We pray together.
  • We are vulnerable with one another.
  • We ask each other hard questions.
  • We don't fight over money. Our kid died. Money is just money.
  • We live one day at a time.
  • We laugh together.
  • We talk about our disappointments quickly and work through them so they don't become elevated or escalated.
  • We have fun together.
  • We actually say the words: "I was wrong." "I am sorry." "I forgive you."
  • We call each other on the phone and text.
  • We try not to take everything so seriously.
  • I am aware that I bring imperfection to our equation.
  • He is aware of the same.
  • We love each other.
  • We like each other.
  • We lovingly confront one another.
  • We don't use blanket words to describe our dissatisfaction, like: ALWAYS or NEVER
  • We try.
  • We fail.
  • We try again.
I'm so worked up about this right now...this will definitely be a series! Consider this Part I.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dog Face

Well, we've run the gamut of names...

  • Charlie
  • Pebbles
  • Cocoa
  • Mocha
  • Sweetie
  • Blackie
  • Pepper
  • Tiger
...and honestly, the list went on and on. Em just could not decide. Then, she had decided...or so she had thought. Her name would be "Tiger", just for the irony of it...oh it's ironic, alright! One, obviously Em's dog didn't resemble a tiger in a million years, and, secondly, what she didn't know was that her puppy wasn't a millionaire or and will be spayed one day!

Anyway! We met the breeder on Saturday morning to pick up Em's Maltipoo mix, that is:

Maltese + Poodle = Maltipoo

On Friday after school Em and I had done a little bargain shopping. She had gone to do a little research with her Auntie at a gourmet pet store, asked countless questions, written a list of "must haves" and informed me that the grand total for all things puppy added up to around $200...that was in addition to writing the check to the breeder. I told her that Mommy never buys things "Retail" so I was SURE we could find some great deals other places. She had her doubts until we walked out of Tuesday Morning with a doggy bed, leash, harness, collar, and food and water bowl all for under $30. My mom taught me how to bargain hunt...thanks, Mom!

Well, of course, I purchased said collar, harness and leash for a "small" breed pup, with the thought and working understanding that she'd reach approximately 10-12 lbs...

Fast Forward to Saturday puppy pick up!

Side note: We got rid of our scale, one, because Jason stepped on the face the first day we bought it 7 years ago, and two, because I used to have a problem, an obsession, with weighing myself! After having a daughter I decided it was an unnecessary item to have in our home, not wanting to pass on that horrible habit of constantly weighing myself to my very sweet, beautiful daughter! I weigh in at the Ob/Gyn and at the gym whenever I remember...that's another post, but all that to say, I'm not totally certain how much Em's puppy weighs, but the scale in the produce section will MORE THAN SUFFICE!!!! I'm thinking, FOR SURE, no more than 2 lbs, presently!

Don't worry...I'm not taking her grocery shopping! I'm not that girl...

Anyway, the breeder informed us that the little black and brown ball of fur would reach a whopping 5-6 lbs full size. Yep. Even smaller dog = even smaller poop.

I know we were all a bit shocked at her tininess. Is that a word? Anyway, in the car on the way home, after meeting her puppy for the first time, Em could not figure out what to call her because she didn't feel "Tiger" was really fitting any longer.

Em: "She's so tiny!"
Me: "We could call her 'Tiny'".
Em: "She's just a baby!"
Me: "We could call her 'Baby'".
Em: "She's just so sweet!"
Me: "We could call her 'Sweetie'".
Em: "She's just a little 'Lady'".
Me: "We could call her 'Lady'".
Em: "Let's call her 'Baby', I think that fits her the best!"

So, for about 8 or 10 hours we called her "Baby". Yes, it was my big mouth that suggested it...but, nobody backs Baby into a really, I mean, it wasn't sitting right with me...BECAUSE WE'RE ALL HAVING A BABY IN AUGUST, A REAL LIVE HUMAN KIND, AND, well, I just wasn't cool with the fact that it'll get confusing. Not that we'll walk around calling our human baby "Baby", he'll have a name, but still, confusion will result.

And, even though Jason and I really wanted to encourage Em to name her own puppy, we had to set up some parameters. Em understood and on Sunday she announced that her name was "Lady".

For whatever reason, I woke up Sunday morning with an urge to call her "Suki". Apparently it means "Love" in Japanese. It's also a hippopotamus character in a Richard Scarry book...again with the irony.

Em's not a fan of "Suki".

So, we call her "Lady"...

But...Em's at school for another week and a, Suki and I are sitting here typing this blog post.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dedicated to my sweet boy...

Today is a Beautiful Day

Husband got home last night from England.

Saw two rainbows yesterday.

Sun is shining hot and bright today.

Going to make a great meal tonight that we eat outside on the new patio.

Jason's taking the day off.

Em's taking a half day off school.

Giving Em a fresh pack of chewing gum...since Noah doesn't chew it...and this would be his year to finally start!

We're headed to the pool...

...because 4 years later, that's what Noah would be doing...

...playing with his big sister and chewing gum at the pool on his birthday.

I can't believe how much Em has grown in the last 4 years...I am only left to imagine how he would have grown...

Happy Birthday, sweet guy! Celebrate the way God intended! We love and miss you...but you probably know that...

Monday, June 07, 2010

No such thing as a secret...

"Who are you God, because You are turning out to be so much different than I imagined? Where are you God, 'cause I am finding life to be so much harder than I had planned? You know that I'm afraid to ask these questions...but You know they are there. And if You know my heart the way that I believe You do, then know that I believe in You...

But still I have these
  • How could You, God? How could You be so good and strong and make a world that can be so painful?
  • Where were You, God? I know You had to be right there. I know You never turned Your head.
You know that I am confused by all this mystery. You know I get afraid. But if You know my heart as completely as I trust You do...oh You know that I am trusting You."

- Steven Curtis Chapman from his new album "Beauty Will Rise", song "Questions".

I have many soap boxes, I'm not going to lie. Anyone who knows me, or who has even read here long, knows I am passionate about many things, like "Not blowing sunshine" and especially "There is no such thing as a secret". When I say, "no such thing as a secret", I don't mean a surprise meant to be kept, like a birthday treat or special occasion, but in the true sense of the word: secret or hidden.

I am a middle child. Growing up this was beneficial in that I'd watch my big and little sisters do something that got them into trouble and then, one, either avoid it, or two, do the exact same thing, just secretly. Why? Because I wanted to portray an idea of perfection to my know, because parents think their kids are perfect, right? And, I didn't want to disappoint them.

One doozer of a lie I told my parents was when my friend Katie and I were driving on a dirt road one summer up at Glen Lake in Michigan (one of the most beautiful places on earth). I was totally screwing around trying to fish tail. This would have been fine if I had actually known HOW to fish tail...but I was a city girl and gravel roads were few and far between. As a result, we smacked into a tree and sat there, just kind of staring at each other. The very first thought was not, "Oh crap! I screwed up the bumper!" Instead it was, "Oh man! What on earth am I going to tell my parents so I don't get busted?!" (I know...shocking, right?!)

We took the long way home around the lake so we could work on a lie. I didn't even cry until I was walking up to the cottage and realized tears would enhance the story...

"Dad, I totally hit a tree! We're okay, but Katie and I were driving on the highway and pulled onto a dirt road for a short cut. I was going too fast and tried to down-shift but I started to fish tail and we hit a tree...but we are okay..."

My dad knew I was blowing sunshine at him but tried to at least act concerned, because...I SUCK AT LYING. I've never been good at it. My face totally gives it away.

But, I stuck to my story and my dad at least acted like he bought it, for several years, anyway. Then, of course, years later he shared how a tree had "jumped out" at him while he was a teenager. Craziest thing! It was my ticket to finally come clean. He just smiled and said, "I knew."

And that's a dad, a human dad, that knew. Just like mom's know literally everything. (Em, if you are now a teenager reading this...I already know...and I still love you!)

And, of course, there are the lies and secrets we think we've gotten away with, but if they are hurtful to us or others, they will be exposed.

With God, there is no such thing as a secret.

We may have hidden something deep within our hearts long ago, but if it's something toxic to who we were intended to be, keeping us from beneficial growth, God will expose it. He doesn't do it to be a big fat jerk. God is light and will not co-exist with darkness. He actually does it quite gently at first. When someones "secret" is plastered on the front of a magazine cover or makes headline news, it may be shocking and the first time we have heard it, but God doesn't go right to the media with our secrets. He is a Gentleman and initially goes directly to us.

If we try to hide it even deeper, He'll bring it up again. Then, if we think we can still keep something from the Creator of the Universe, He will put us on someones heart who "just happens to be thinking or praying for you" know, because there are coincidences! At least, that's what we try to tell ourselves when a person we haven't heard from in years or months just happens to be thinking of us "out of the blue".

And, if there are questions or secrets we are trying to "hide" from God because we think He'll be too disappointed that we would even have them...guess what?! He already knows they are there. And, He can handle them. They don't intimidate God. They aren't even big enough questions, frustrations or concerns to even knock Him off His throne.

He knows. He knows that in this life we will have questions and we will wish He did things differently than we had planned. He knows that we have secrets and questions and He knows which ones are harmful to our health.

The day I realized that there was no such thing as a secret when it came to my relationship and communication with God, I experienced a freedom I had never known. God likes candid. There's no point trying to "blow sunshine" at Him. He. Can. Handle. It.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Changing it up a bit

So, whether it's self-inflicted or just happens this way, somehow, for whatever reason, God knows why, I seem to operate best when there's either a deadline quickly approaching or when several things are happening at once. Okay, I take that back...I don't necessarily operate "best" but it's when I get the most done. It's really quite annoying, to be honest. Especially because the anticipation of multi-tasking and time frames produce in me a bit of stress and anxiety.

However, for whatever reason, somehow, God knows why, this time it's different...

And by "this time" I am referring to the fact that Jason and I have deemed it a grand idea to not only have a baby in August, start homeschooling Em in the fall, BUT, to get Em her very own puppy, to boot!

What? No, we are indeed NOT on drugs, if you can believe it!

Somehow this all just seems to make perfect sense to us. I think it's because it's been so long since Em's been a baby that we have a bit of "New Parent Amnesia", aka, total ignorance.

Even though we had Noah 4 years ago, honestly, if I'm not going to candy-coat it, I'm not remembering back to his 7 weeks at home or his 7 months on earth as anything closely related to "normal". The 7 weeks at home we all probably spent sleeping, eating, and changing poopy diapers. The 5.5 months at the hospital were not realistic whatsoever because we had family in and out and a full time staff of over 40 amazing helpers. Nope. Not realistic.

No, it's weird...with this pregnancy my memories keep going back to Em, for the most part. I'm hoping it's a sign of longevity. It's my prayer for this guy...

One thing that is jacked up in the heart of a mama that has lost a child and then is prego again is the topic of "movement". If I were anything closely related to "normal", the thoughts that would run thru my mind when "baby boy" was quiet or inactive would be, "Oh, he must be sleeping..." Instead, because I'm a tad jaded, and, as previously stated, "jacked up", my thoughts look more like this, "Oh, he's dead...well, thank You, Lord, for the time I've gotten to carry was my honor..."

Yeah, jacked up, I know...but then I've talked to other mama's who have lost babes and they have had the same least I'm not jacked up all by myself...

But, back to yeah, this year has been nothing but change. We've had family and friends living with us for over a year now. Everyone is moving out by the end of summer. We aren't "breaking up" or anything, it's just time. And Jason's loving his new job at Compassion and loves the people he works with. Em is counting down the days until school is out and is beside herself with excitement that we are going to homeschool next year. I honestly never thought I would homeschool unless I was part of a co-op, but God has totally changed my heart. I can't wait to just spend some time with my two kiddos...and of course, Em is also counting down the days til Daddy comes home from England so we can go pick up her new puppy...more on that in another post. (With pictures, of course.)

Speaking of pictures, I haven't taken any real belly pictures. I need to. I also had to ask my doc the other week which week I was currently in...I even called my little sister to ask her and then just added half a week. I know I am due August 31st. I'm just taking it one day at a time. I'm just not that into math...

And, then, of course, I am excited to "nest" baby boy's room. I am not that excited to open the boxes from Noah's room that we packed up way back when, because I really don't even know what is in them anymore, but it's part of the process. I want to use Noah's bedding since I made it and it got little use, and of course, because it's cute. I'll use Noah's furniture, as well, but am painting it something other than "Butter". And I know there are little man clothes in those boxes, too, so we won't need any new clothes for a while.

All this to say, I have a peace in my heart I cannot explain. Change is good and necessary for growth. And all we are expected to do when change occurs is to put one foot in front of the other and trust that God's got the Big Picture. Fighting it prolongs it. Walking in it just may show itself as beautiful...

...I think I'll walk in it.