Thursday, September 29, 2011

when perfectionism & to-do lists overwhelm

Love this blog: A Holy Experience

Love. It.

And since I am prone to crazy to-do lists and a tendency to want everything to be perfect, posts like this one speak right to my heart...

When perfectionism & to-do lists overwhelm

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The dance of joy and sorrow

Rejoice with those who rejoice

Yesterday morning I prayed for a miracle.


Ryan's aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. They have been managing her illness but found a spot on her liver last week. We were waiting for the results of the biopsy yesterday. If the spot was cancer that would mean the cancer had spread.

I prayed all morning and told God that I knew He was able. I knew He could move this mountain. I knew He was the great healer. I believed in Him and His power.

I also acknowledged that He might choose not to heal her, but I wanted Him to know that I believed He was able.

This is one of my favorite Beth Moore quotes:

"Please understand. Christ is fully God. He can heal anyone or perform any wonder, whether the belief of the person is great or small. Christ isn't asking us to believe in our ability to exercise unwavering faith. He is asking us to believe that He is able."

We got the call late morning that the spot was just an infection. It wasn't cancer.

God had heard our prayers and answered them! Her fight with cancer isn't over, but today we are rejoicing with Ryan's cousins and family members, in the good news they received. And we are giving God all the glory.

Mourn with those who mourn

While we are rejoicing about positive test results, my heart is aching for a friend of mine. If you recall this post from January, you know that my friend unexpectedly lost her husband after just 2 1/2 years of marriage. Today would have been their 3rd wedding anniversary.


My heart hurts desperately for the sadness and longing and sorrow she must feel as she grieves the loss of her husband, her marriage and the future she had planned with him.

What does one do on the day of their wedding anniversary when they are just 35 years old and has no spouse to kiss or hug or hold or celebrate with?

I know no words to share with her. I feel so inadequate to know what to do to bring comfort or encouragement to her heart.

All day I have been meditating on Isaiah 50:4 from my Jesus in 5 days devotion (the devotion included part two of this verse but part one is what God had in store for me today): The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.

I don't pretend to have a clue what word sustains the weary or the brokenhearted.

But God knows and I can ask Him to guide my tongue and my words, or to know when I just need to be silent.

This journey called life continues to amaze me.

The joy.

The sorrow.

The bitter and the sweet.

This journey is filled with trials and celebrations. It is full of joy that is immeasurably and heartache that is indescribable.

It is filled with tender times when we seek the solace of our Creator and He lovingly holds us close. It is filled with celebratory times when we raise our hands in praise and give Him all glory.

It's a sweet dance of joy and sorrow and it continues from our first breath to our last.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why did Jesus die?

8:45 p.m. tonight, Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mom and Samuel snuggling in Samuel's new sleeping bag that he got at his birthday party today, praying and singing...

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before...


Samuel: "What's the cross?"
Mom: "The cross is where Jesus died."

Samuel: "Why did Jesus die?"
Mom: "There were some men who thought that Jesus was bad and so he had to die. But Jesus wasn't bad. Jesus loved you so much and me so much that he died for us on the cross a long time ago Samuel. But today Jesus is alive and he can live in our hearts. And we can pray to him and talk to him and he is always with us."

Samuel: "I don't like that Jesus died."
Mom: "I don't like that Jesus died either Samuel. But I'm going to spend my whole life telling you how much Jesus loved you that he was willing to die for you."

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Jesus in 5 days

Read this today.

Loved it.

Especially days 3 and 4.

You will too.

Lets do it together!

My Jesus in 5 days.


Monday, September 19, 2011

I'd like to get off the roller coaster please



 
Last week was rough.

It was a delight to celebrate Lauren's birthday on Tuesday.

But from there the week went downhill.

On August 30 Ryan had a second interview with a potential employer. They told him they would get back to him by Friday, Sept. 9. We didn't hear from them on Sept. 9, nor did we hear anything the following Monday, Sept. 12. Ryan called to check in a couple times and both times he was told they hadn't yet made a decision.

Late Tuesday he got an email stating they wanted to talk to him on Wednesday. Let me be specific: the head HR guy wanted to talk to him.

We were so excited. We thought for sure this was the job we had been waiting for.

We prayed like crazy all day Wednesday that Ryan would get a job offer.

But they never called.

Nor did they call on Thursday.

On Friday Ryan got a call that they chose another candidate.

What?!

Why wait all that time to tell him he wasn't chosen? Because they wanted to let him know it was between him and another guy and they went with the other guy.

Thank you very much. That makes him feel so much better.

I don't think it's putting it mildly that when Ryan told me on Friday they called not to offer him a job, but to let him know they chose someone else, I was devastated. I cried. I was angry. I was confused. I had put a lot of hope into this job.

And I wanted off the roller coaster.

What roller coaster you ask?

The roller coaster of unwanted emotions.

The same roller coaster of emotions that many of you are riding. The one that goes up and down, and up and down with the highs and lows that life brings. It's the rollercoaster you ride while dating and waiting for that potential future spouse. Is he the one? Is she the wife I've dreamt of? Hope, hope, hope.....disappointment.

For some of you, it's the roller coaster of emotions while living with infertility. All signs point toward a positive this month. You start planning and dreaming (in your head of course). You count the days until you should take a test. Hope, hope, hope......disappointment.

And for still others, it's the roller coaster of emotions while struggling with a health issue. Ongoing, chronic health issues that prevent you from living the normal, healthy, active life you once enjoyed. With each doctor's appt. and each new medication, you hope your pain will end or your symptoms will go away or your disease will be healed. Hope, hope, hope......disappointment.

I'm riding the roller coaster of emotions that comes with unemployment. Ryan has been told ‘no’ many times this past year, but this last time was really rough on me. And the only thing I could think of when the 'no' came and the hope was deflated, was that it felt just like the many times I thought I might be pregnant. Cramping. Tender breasts. Long cycle. All signs point to a positive! And then the test produced just one line instead of two. That's when heartache and tears and anger replaced anticipation and hope for the future.

So I've decided I want off the roller coaster of emotions that comes with unemployment. I don't want to invest any more time or energy or prayers or fasting or petitioning or tears or emotions into this ride. Right now it's seems the roller coaster is heading on a downward slope rather quickly.

And if I let it, it will take me straight down with it.

Here's the thing: I'm the one that put myself on this roller coaster and I'm the only one who can take myself off the roller coaster. God doesn't ask me to ride this wave of emotions. He doesn't ask me to fight this battle, stay focused and determine to make it through. He doesn’t tell me to strap in and hold on as tight as I can.

He says: Be still. My grace is sufficient for you. I will fight this battle for you. Rest for your weary soul is found in me and me alone. I will uphold you. I will sustain you. I will be your hope.

God is inviting me to jump off this roller coaster of ridiculous highs and lows and place my hope, my trust, my joy…in Him.

Only He is consistent. He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our Lord stands forever.

And the truth is, God’s roller coaster doesn’t have highs and lows. It’s not impacted by our circumstances. When our joy is in Him, it’s here to stay. When our peace comes from Him, it’s peace that passes all understanding. When our hope is in Him, it’s not impacted by the changes life brings.

Would you like to join me in getting off the roller coaster of emotions? It’s not easy. Sometimes the roller coaster is an exhilarating ride. It’s a high like no other. But you never know where it’s going, when the next up or down is coming, or, most importantly, who is directing your ride.

The Prince of Peace is inviting me to get off the roller coaster. This invitation requires handing over the reins and giving up control.

It’s not a one-time decision. It’s daily.

And I think I'd like to accept.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Lauren!

Dear Lauren,
Happy 2nd Birthday sweet baby girl! I am sure I will say this every year, but I can't believe you are TWO! You are at such a fun and wonderful stage. One was delightful, but an age that required so much attention as you learned to walk and had no fear and couldn't understand much.

But at two you can talk and understand and play by yourself and follow directions and communicate your wants and needs.

It's been a busy two years with you and your brother and we finally feel like we're at a stage where you both play together, are the best of friends and it's much easier to take you places and do things with you both.

Today was truly an example of a time, as a parent, when my joy comes more from watching you and Samuel than it does from me experiencing something myself.

What a busy busy day we had celebrating you turning two. This morning we went to Como Zoo with Papa, Gma, Jonathan and Molly, Oliver and the twins! We saw zebras, giraffes, buffalo, a lion, a tiger, polar bears and seals. It was a perfect day. Warm sun, cool air and the zoo wasn't busy because everyone else is in school this time of year!

We went home and you and Samuel slept for 2 1/2 hours. We woke you and promptly put you in the car and took a train ride! We were joined by our friends Mak and Cole and baby Will on the Light Rail. It was really fun to see your excitement to ride the train. We went to the Mall of America where we met auntie Sher and Gma Ruth, ate mac-n-cheese and went on rides. Our friends had free tickets and it was pure joy to watch you and your brother enjoy the many rides including the 'horsies' on the carousel. Everything is exciting at your ages and the night was incredibly memorable. You got to bed very late but it was worth it!

Lauren you still love your mama so very much and want her more than anyone else in the world. That is such a sweet sweet feeling for me. I know it won't last and I'm soaking it in for now.

Your loves in life: blanket, teddy and nuk, dolls, dressing up in regular clothes or 'dress up clothes', cheese, yogurt, bagels, strawberries, swinging, Sammy Lee, Dora, Elmo, singing, music and dancing (especially to the Lion King soundtrack). You sing many times every day and the sound of you singing is music to our ears. Lately you've been singing Amazing Grace and Shine Jesus Shine. I hope you continue to sing songs with great meaning and truth.

Every night when we sing and pray before going to sleep, you always tell me who to pray for: Oliver and Leaf (our neighbors), grandparents, friends, family members. You say them by name and yell them out as quickly as I can pray for them. I hope that your heart always believes in the power of prayer sweet girl. I will pray for you and with you all the days of my life.

Phrases/words we frequently hear: C'mon. Sit down. No, I wanna do it. Daddy-do. How 'bout....crackers? Yogurt? (you love to negotiate what food you get to eat). Cut the pickle. One more minute (you also like to negotiate more time to do something) or four minutes.

One of my favorite recent memories: I got off the bus one day from work and you and Samuel came running across the lawn to me. You jumped in my arms, hugged me tight and said, "I missed you today. I wuv you." My heart melted baby girl. That was music to my ears and makes coming home from work so so sweet.

Tonight I thanked God for you little girl. I am so thankful he brought you into our family and that we have the privilege of loving you every day and teaching you about a God who loves you even more than we do.

Happy 2nd birthday Lauren Ruby. You are dearly dearly loved and we celebrate you today!

Love,
Mom






Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bitterness

Today at church we started a new series. It's called Let Go Hang on. Today was about letting go of bitterness and hanging on to forgiveness.

It was actually a tough message for me to hear. While I believe I worked through the bitterness I experienced on our road to parenthood, I realized today that there is a seed of bitterness beginning to grow in regards to unemployment. Ryan and I were talking about it on the way home from church and I spilled a lot about what I'm angry/resentful/bitter about these days.

I don't even think I realized it all, until it suddenly came pouring out of my mouth like a flood. To be honest, a lot of it has to do with the fact that our life has been 'on hold' in many ways for 16 months: home improvements, decorating our home (which I hadn't really gotten around to prior to unemployment because we had two newborns the first two years we lived here!), cars, vacations, planning for the future, etc. This is the stuff that begins with envy and resentment and eventually turns into bitterness if I don't stop it.

It's all so superficial and materialistic. And many people haven't been able to enjoy those things their entire lives, much less for 16 months.

And I know that.

But it's still there.

Oh the ugliness in one's heart is almost too much to take some days.

Take it Lord....take it all.

It's times like these when I can claim the promises that God will create in me a clean heart and I am a new creation. I can leave all that comparison, envy, bitterness, and resentment behind, and daily accept his gift of grace.

During my talk on Friday I shared about how I dealt with bitterness in regards to infertility/miscarriages. After hearing the message at church today, I think the Lord is telling me that it might be time to do some surgery on my heart again.

Isn't that just the thing?! You can deal with bitterness once, but life keeps happening and you need to continually do a check of your heart.

Ug.

Here we go again Lord. Have your way. Have your way.

Here's the excerpt from my talk:

In June, a few months later, my friend asked me how I was doing with my infertility struggle and I told her that I had a real issue with pregnant women. She responded, “Do you think you should do something about that?”

To be honest, I didn’t want to do something about it. I was comfortable and secure in my shell of bitterness and anger towards pregnant women who were achieving their dreams while I waited. I had chosen to wait, but in the process I had let my heart be hardened.   

That summer was gut-wrenchingly painful. I harbored bitterness in my heart and needed the Lord to do surgery.

I dealt with some serious issues of bitterness, anger and doubt in my heart toward the Lord and toward other people. God helped me work through the pain of infertility, the pain of miscarriage and the pain of waiting on Him.

Proverbs says not to letter a bitter root grow, but I had done just that. A bitter seed had turned into a full-fledged root and had taken over my heart.

Through this work of dealing with my bitter root, I came face to face with God and I will never be the same. He brought me healing. He restored my soul. He gently took my tear-streaked face in His hands and turned my eyes to Him.

Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. That’s what God asks of us: to fix our eyes on Jesus. Not look to the left or the right or at what those around us have: better behaved kids. A more stable income. A bigger home. A stronger marriage.

But instead to fix our eyes on Him and He will replace our bitter root with something beautiful.

Remembering
As I write this on the anniversary of 9/11, I must also take a moment to acknowledge the very personal anniversary that this date is for me. Three years ago today I mourned with great anguish and grief when we were told that our second baby had died in my womb. Today I remember 9/11 2001 but I also remember 9/11 2008. People often say, "time heals." I completely disagree with that statement. I don't believe time heals. God heals. God binds up the brokenhearted, brings healing to our deepest hurts and sets the captives free. To all those in my life who have suffered heartache and loss: may the binder of broken hearts meet you today and may the healing begin.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Prayers for today please

At 10:30 a.m. CST today I will be speaking to a group of young mom's for about 30 minutes. I will be sharing my story -- the one that God wrote about my journey to parenthood and the one He is currently writing about this season of unemployment.

Would you please join me in prayer that God would open hearts so that these young ladies hear whatever it is God wants to say to them today? Please pray God can take my ramblings and my nervousness and use them for His glory.

Thanks friends!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What I Know

I have been a wife for 10 1/2 years, but for the past 15 months I have struggled to know how to support my husband during this season of unemployment. I often have no idea what to say to him that will be helpful. A couple weeks ago I tried to communicate what was on my heart and I sent the following to my hubby...


Here's what I don't know right now Ryan:
I don't know why someone who has great experience and great education doesn't have a job.
I don't know when you will find and secure that perfect position you are looking for.
I don't know how to help you deal with feelings of depression and discouragement.
I don't know how to help you be excited to be home with the kids for 15 months when you'd rather be working.
I don't know where we are on God's timeline.
I don't know why I'm so negative when what you need is a positive wife to encourage your heart.
I don't know what employers are looking for and why they aren't hiring you.
I don't know what it's like to feel rejection over and over and over again.


But here's what I do know:
I know you make me proud every day that you get out of bed and choose to face the day.
I know that depression and discouragement are big pieces of a spiritual battle that is taking place for your mind and heart every day.
I know that you have continued to give faithfully to God even when our income is less than we need to pay our bills.
I know that God has proven Himself faithful to us in miraculous ways before and we need to trust He is working out another miracle.
I know that you are tempted daily to give in to so many things the world has to offer you - things to distract you and give you momentary freedom from this hard road.
I know that you have not given into those temptations and that you are stronger than you are aware of.
I know that Jesus faced rejection. Time and time again.
I know that you have persevered for 15 months and I know you will continue to do so.
I know that you are loved. Not because of what you do. Not because of where you work. Not because of your strengths or education or experience or leadership abilities or character traits (certainly not because of those!). You are loved simply because you are my husband. You are Samuel and Lauren's dad. You are Dean and Barb's son. You are a friend to many.
I know that one day we will look back. And although we might not understand why, we will know God was with us through every step of this journey.
I know that I love you more today than I did 10 1/2 years ago and that I am committed to walking through this alongside you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pinterest

Pinterest.

Heard of it?

It's a virtual pinboard.

I got started just last week.

And I'm C R A Z Y about it. So fun!

Check it out and please let me know if you're on Pinterest - I'll follow you!

http://pinterest.com

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Infertility Questions

Last month I posted these questions about infertility. I would love it if a few more of you would consider answering them and sending them to me or Rebekah. I said I would share my answers....

1. Did you share your infertility struggle with your family members? How did they react? What did they say?

Because we announced our first pregnancy to our family, they were aware of our miscarriage and the following years of trying to conceive again. They were very supportive, although I don't think anyone can truly understand the difficulty and pain related to infertility unless you've walked the journey yourself. They didn't always know what to say and we didn't necessarily know what we needed or wanted them to say. I am very glad we did not keep it private - that would have been incredibly difficult.

2. How did it affect your family and friend relationships?

It was tough at times when family members and friends announced their pregnancies. Sometimes I cried for days over an announcement. It definitely led to some tense and awkward moments. I am so glad looking back that I didn’t do anything to permanently ruin those relationships. Some pregnancy announcements are still hard for me when people talk about planning exactly when to get pregnant so their children are spaced apart just right and they don’t have to be pregnant during summer or deliver around Christmas. That's just not a luxury we had so it's a sensitive spot.

3. Did anyone ever tell you to "just relax and it will happen"?

Yes people did tell me that. It’s terrible advice for a number of reasons, but it usually comes from a place of naivety. Someone who has walked the road of loss or waiting to conceive, would never utter those words. So that’s when we have to remind ourselves of that and extend grace. And you know what? When I didn’t have a job and was enjoying summer and remodeling our new home, I got pregnant and lost the baby. When I was stressed out with a newborn, short on sleep, trying to finish up the adoption paperwork and try to figure out how to be a mom, I got pregnant and had a healthy pregnancy. It’s not about relaxing…it’s about God’s timing and God's perfect plan (whether that's biological or adopted children).

4. Are there any specific reactions from others that have stuck in your mind? What was the best thing anyone every told you? What was the worst?

Someone said, “You’ll get pregnant again soon.” I have never forgotten that comment because I remember thinking, “how do you know that?” Unless God has directly told you that, don’t say something you can’t be sure of. I remember my aunt saying to me at our family Christmas get together in January one year: “I am sorry for your pain.” She looked me straight in the eyes when she said it and I burst into tears. That’s what I needed and wanted to hear: someone acknowledging my pain as we waited.

5. How did your infertility struggle affect your marriage relationship? How did it impact your sex life and intimacy with your husband?

It was very hard for my husband to not be able to make this better for me and it was difficult to see me hurting so bad and not be able to fix it. But it drew us closer. We didn’t fight about it. Instead we grieved the loss of the family we were longing for. While my husband enjoyed the frequency of intimacy as we strived to conceive, there is added stress when we are trying to time it just right. There were months when he traveled a lot and we had one shot otherwise we had to wait until next month. Monthly cycles don’t care if we are tired, busy, crabby, etc.

6. In what ways has your faith been impacted?

I questioned God. I doubted him. I wondered if he heard me. It was my darkest days. Both the years of waiting and the moments when I lost my babies. I wondered how a God who created the Heavens couldn’t create a healthy baby to grow in my womb. I knew he could, but he had chosen not to and that hurt. It hurt that in the blink of an eye he could help me conceive and yet he was choosing not to. I learned that he was able, but he was saying no. And that reality was a very painful one. God also showed me during this time and it wasn’t about getting answers. It wasn’t about knowing why. It was about trusting him and believing he was in control and had something beautiful in store for my family. Sometimes I cried out daily to Him and other times I didn’t pray because I didn’t know what to pray. God understood my heart and my pain.

7. How did you learn to discern the Lord's Will in the midst of everything?

We had a lot of people praying for us and we petitioned the Lord faithfully for answers and for guidance. When our testing came back that everything was fine, we felt deep in our hearts that God was calling us to wait on Him. I read an article in a Infertility support newsletter (Stepping Stones) that I shared with our family so they could understand the path we had chosen – to wait. I believe God led me to that article which affirmed the feeling we had to wait on God and not pursue further medical treatment. When people talk about that still, small voice...that’s exactly the voice we heard.

8. What types of fertility treatment have you sought out? Were they of any help to you? Please elaborate.

I had a hysterosalpingogram and found my tubes were open. Ryan was tested for sperm count. We talked with our doctor about Clomid and IUI. I had gotten pregnant once and we didn’t believe I had a problem ovulating so we decided not to pursue any other tests/treatments. I did pursue natural, holistic treatment from two chiropractors. I used herbal supplements and got regular adjustments. I changed my diet to eat more healthy and address some imbalances in my hormone levels.

9. What was the most frustrating part of your entire infertility struggle (aside from not achieving)?

The waiting and not understand why it was happening. I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility so there was nothing to fix. No surgery. No medication. Nothing to do but wait on God each month. I almost wanted there to be something wrong so we could put our efforts into fixing it. But that’s not what God had in mind for us.

10. And perhaps, if he wouldn't mind, does your husband have any advice or insight from the husband perspective? Is there anything that he would like other husbands to know about struggling with infertility?

I have not asked my husband....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Great Myth

I read this article yesterday from Simple Mom and it resonated with me so much. She writes about the incorrect myth that she 'does it all.'

Don't we all, from time to time, sit under the misconception that 'they' do it all? They being our neighbor, friend, sister, mother, co-worker? They do it all while having a perfectly clean and organized home, darling, well-mannered, obedient children, homemade healthy meals and a regular exercise routine that puts Jillian Michaels to shame? 

I admit it. From time to time I start believing those lies as well.

That's why I appreciated Simple Mom declaring it's all a myth: nobody does it all.

If you don't have time to read the article, here are a few key phrases:

Every choice we make in life is both a choice to do something and a choice to not do something.

When we make the decision to spend time, energy, and money to pursue a task, there’s something else from which we’re subtracting that time, energy, and money.

And at the end of the day, we need to trust that God gave us the energy to do those things to which He called us, and no more. Tomorrow is another day to strap on the apron and get back to work, doing what we can.



So here's to doing some things -- not everything -- and trusting that God is calling me to exactly what He wants me to do each day...and not one thing more.