Monday, March 31, 2014

Fear, The Truth & Toxoplasmosis

Eight weeks from tomorrow (if all goes as planned) we will be meeting our new baby boy.
I couldn't be more thrilled for several reasons. Obviously to meet him and finally hold him in my arms and kiss his little face.
I'm excited to have a summer baby too. My first 3 are all winter babies, so I went right from the hospital to bundling them up in the frigid cold of Wisconsin winters. Bundling kids up is one of the worst things about winter I think. By the time you get them all wrapped up, you're good to go for a nap.
Our plan is to deliver on Tuesday, May 27th...the day after Memorial Day. After 3 csections, we will be scheduling this one at 38 weeks, because of a high risk condition called "your skin and muscles have been stretched and cut too many times and we don't want you to burst."
Ok, I don't actually know what it is called, but my doctor told me he was out of town one time and one of his patients wanted to wait to deliver until he got back in town and she was 40+ weeks and you could actually see the baby's head through her skin. Eeeeesh. Don't want that. So 38 weeks it is!
With 2 of my 3 kids, I developed high blood pressure and preeclampsia so I ended up delivering one at 36 weeks and one at 37 weeks...I'm not completely opposed to go slightly earlier if I have to, but I'm not banking on high blood pressure. I'm keeping an eye on it though. I went in today because of some unusual swelling and it was slightly higher than normal, but nothing dangerous at this point.
Obviously the longer he bakes his buns in my oven, the better.

This pregnancy has been a journey of faith from the day I found out I was pregnant. Having 2 miscarriages behind you always can cause a slight array of emotions when you find out your are pregnant again, but I've also had 3 healthy full term pregnancies so I know the faithfulness of God. Then last summer, I had another miscarriage (or chemical pregnancy) so again, fear wanted to jump in the moment I found out.
There is the weird place of trying to contain your excitement and trying to control your fear when you have a sad  and uncertain history behind you. And I was just trying to remain calmly in the middle. The day after I found out I was pregnant with this little guy, I started bleeding. And I continued bleeding on and off through my 17th week of pregnancy. I have never had happen that before and the only times I did have it, I miscarried. But each time I went in for another ultrasound, they couldn't find a reason for the bleeding. I remember my Aunt Carolyn telling me "Don't base your faith in your history, but in what God is able to do in your future."
That stuck with me. My faith isn't based on what has happened before...

By the 3rd-ish ultrasound, I was getting tired of dealing with this feeling of being up in the air all the time, not really knowing why this was happening, but at the same time I was like "well I guess it's just one of those unexplained weird pregnancy things."

Between dealing with the continual bleeding and also severe ulcer pain, horrible nausea, a wretched eczema breakout covering my entire body, an injured back where I had to bend over to walk and just feeling sort of too old & decrepit in general, the beginning of this pregnancy was really a rough season for me.
So much so that it took me that long to tell people I was even pregnant. I finally asked for prayer from several people including confiding in the gals from Thrive Moms in on what I was dealing with and then my whole facebook friends list. I didn't really give the detail what was going on through facebook, other than I was going through a lot and it was one of those moments where I didn't have the strength to fight this on my own. I craved the prayers of others to stand with me. I'm not usually one to ask for prayer. I like to stand in faith and trust God on my own. But I was really at the end of myself and I needed someone...
anyone to agree with me.

At my 24 week appointment, I was feeling much better. Every other symptom I was previously dealing with was gone thanks to everyone's prayers, but something new came to my attention.
Right before I got pregnant we bought a pixie bob kitten. And despite all the warnings from books and people, I was the main person to take care of the cat and change her litter box through the first half of the pregnancy. I started getting frustrated, that when I asked for help from my family I felt like I was nagging constantly and if I didn't just do it on my own, the poop would sit for days...
So I just did it.
I knew there were dangers in it and I tried to be careful, but in the back of my mind I was wishing I wasn't the one doing this.

Finally, I broke down crying one night after seeing a mouse in our house and watching my cat sit for days in front of the area the mouse had made it's original appearance, just waiting for it to return. Generally, I don't always like to find out what google has to say about everything, but for the sake of being careful, I looked it up and learned that toxoplasmosis is a parasite that cats can get and shed in their feces... if they kill an animal or eat raw meat. It does little to no harm to children or adults, generally nothing more than flu type symptoms. But if a mother gets it during pregnancy, it has a 30% chance of being given to her unborn baby and can cause anything  from learning disabilities to blindness to seizures to still birth.

I broke down in frustration because I just wanted someone to take this seriously as I was...
I wanted someone to offer to help.
But in that moment of frustration, the Lord reminded me of a scripture...
In Mark 16:17-18 where Jesus says "And these miraculous signs will follow them who believe...and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them..."

I thought surely that goes for if they touch any deadly thing, it shall not harm them, as well.  
Knowing full well, I wasn't purposely testing or tempting God, but if for some reason Nova (our cat) did kill an animal and I did somehow catch some sort of parasite from her, that it would not affect me or my child.
I would not let it. Because after all I believed. And I am heir to all of God's promises.

I went into my doctor appointment soon after this and I told my doctor about our cat and the mice we saw her chasing and I asked him to test me. The next day I received a phonecall from his office and the report I received was that I, in fact, tested positive for currently contracting toxoplasmosis.
In that moment, I could have freaked. I could  have feared all the possibilities of what may happen and there was a part of me that wondered why I was so calm. I let the nurse finish telling me that they would retest me at my next appointment and see what happened and we would take it from there. I turned around to my husband and told him point blank "I tested positive."
A few hours later I went to my mom and dad and started crying. It was weird, the scare and shock of it had me in tears. I'm an emotional person to begin with, so anything will make me cry. But at the same time, I told them "I still have peace. And I believe at my next appointment that everything will come back negative."

My parents listened and agreed with me in prayer. We took the scripture from Mark 16:17-18 about how any deadly thing will not harm me or this baby and we took God at his word.
I was also aware of a high rate of false positives with this test.
Either way, I was done playing around with all this fear and worry garbage throughout this pregnancy.
I had had enough, to be honest. I wasn't going to let the devil destroy my joy. I wasn't going to spend the next 4 weeks worrying about what my next test results would be. I'm not saying the thoughts didn't solicit me, but when they did, I would change my thoughts to something else. I would tell myself, Nope. You are not dwelling on fear or worry or the negative. You have a promise from God far greater than what some test says. You have the truth.

I even started getting the flu and started wondering if those were the signs of toxoplasmosis finally showing up. Seriously, it took everything in me just to remain calm and at peace during those four weeks. I didn't tell ANYONE because I wanted to remain confident in what I knew to be true. God's truth is the only truth I know. And absolutely didn't want anyone speaking words of doubt or fear over my situation to me or behind my back. I only wanted words of life spoken and I felt responsible to make sure that happened.   I can't control other peoples tongues, but I can control mine. And I continually thanked God that 'the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, gives life to my body (and my baby's body)' -Romans 8:11

God is so good though, you know.
He reminded me of another time, 13 years ago when I got a false positive of a fatal disease. Yes, this has happened to me before during my very first pregnancy 13 years ago with another disease.. It was the scariest week of my life I think, but in the end after seeing a specialist, my results came back negative. And remembering back to that gave me an additional boost of hope throughout this current situation.

Anyways, last week I went in for my 29 week appointment and we originally had to go in to do an ultrasound to check on the baby's stomach, because at my anatomy ultrasound at 21 weeks, the tech said it looked small so they weren't sure if he was swallowing correctly. And we also did a blood test for toxoplasmosis. I checked my website eagerly and hourly for the next two days waiting for the test results.
I am happy and ever so thankful to report & testify that it was a lie! It came back completely negative. Whether it was a false positive to begin with or whether whatever parasite that was growing was killed, I had complete peace and confidence that it would be negative despite my then current positive status. I wasn't even expecting a positive test result whatsoever the next time I went in. I kept telling myself that everything that has a name HAS to bow to the name of Jesus. He is the name above all names, afterall.
That includes parasites and diseases, right? Yep.

Not only that but, the baby's stomach looked good and healthy. Nothing scary to report there. Even if there was, I wouldn't report anything but what God says in his word.

Our little guy is measuring in the 79th percentile at this point,so we are doing one more ultrasound to track his growth. My babies were always in the 5th percentile, so that's a big baby for me. I remain confident in the character and promises of God concerning the remaining 8 weeks of this pregnancy, our baby's health and mine.

I'm excited to finally reveal our little guy's name:
We are naming him Wyatt Cash.
Wyatt was a favorite name of Jeff's since Wesley was born. Those two names were a toss up when we were thinking of names with our first son. At the time, I wasn't crazy about Wyatt, but I do have a deep place in my heart for the movie Tombstone. Haha. Seriously, I love the Wyatt Earp story, so yes, that is where his name came from. And as for 'Cash' I wanted something cool and "westerny' or 'country' to go with Wyatt, so we were going over famous cowboys or famous country singers and we think Johnny Cash totally rocks, so his middle name is after Johnny Cash himself.
Nothing sentimental from family or scripture, just a name we love and think is pretty cool...

Eight weeks to go, people, until our final baby is born. I can't wait!
After that, we have discussed the possibility of adoption of one more older child, believe it or not.
We will see where that path leads us in the coming years. Yikes!

On a side note: Yes, my husband has taken care of the cat along with some help from the kids every single day since that first result. I haven't gone near it. =)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

7 Ways To Live A Happy Life (No Matter What The Heck Is Going On Around You)

Although I live in Wisconsin and am becoming increasingly jealous of people posting 'spring time' photos on Instagram, while I go out still bundled up in my winter coat, I can see bits and pieces of spring and summer approaching every so often and it makes me happy to see the sun shining and the snow melting. There is something about new life and green grass and warmer weather after a very cold winter that makes us happy and want to stay that way. But even when the day is gloomy outside or things aren't always going our way, we can still choose to live a life of happiness. I wanted to share a few approaches to life that I have taken over the past few years that make me smile and live in peace no matter what is going on around me. Hope some of these you are able to take to heart and apply to your day and your life!

1. Today, I Will Be Intentional
You may not have any grandeur plans to change the world today. It's probably not even the day that you go out and start your own personal charity project to even a single person. But that doesn't mean you can't live intentionally. Each day is an opportunity to be a better person. There are a million ways you can live an intentional life and not let your day just go by without doing something good for yourself or someone else. Send an encouraging email or comment on facebook. Praise your husband or your children for something good you see in them. Eat healthy or go to the gym today and let today be the day that you start doing good for yourself. Set aside time in your car or in your room to pray for someone you know really needs it. When you live intentionally, you are happier. It's those days, weeks and months that slip by with no real purpose, you find yourself depressed or unhappy with your choices. Choose today (each day) to wake up and live a live aimed with purpose.

2. Today, I Will Forgive.
Forgiveness is hard when someone has hurt you terribly. Perhaps someone has hurt you repeatedly throughout your life, causing you to feel bitter not only at them, but distrusting with people in general. Maybe you even blame God. But unforgiveness is the easiest way to ruin your own life. So many times when we don't forgive, the person who has hurt us doesn't even know we are feeling that way or maybe doesn't even care. It's unfortunate, but it's true. So the only person our grudge is hurting is us.  We can even try waking up with an ultra-superior attitude that says "I don't care about anyone, anything or who says what about me anymore. I'm not anyone's doormat." But that is not healthy either. Because it still stems from bitterness which gives us an unhappy view of the world and life. Choose to live in peace with an attitude of joy. The biggest payback to someone who has hurt you is to be legitimately happy. Not fake, I've got an bad-a** attitude, nobody is gonna hurt me, happy. You don't live happy to "show them." You live happy to be happy. That's it.

3. Today, I Will Forgive Myself
This is another big one we all struggle with from time to time. Letting our failures defeat us into days, weeks and months of mediocrity. We allow ourselves to suffer because of something we have done that we feel bad about. We close ourselves off to the world and pretend we like it that way. Or we shut down, and block out everyone who cares about us because we don't know how to face people without appearing or feeling guilty. We also close our hearts down to the one who forgives all, God. We think we aren't good enough to even approach him. I've been at that place, where I almost feel embarrassed or ashamed to even talk to God about things, because I feel unworthy. But what we have to realize is, God already knows. He knows and sees everything we do in secret. The best way to get over it is just to talk about it with him and realize He has forgiven us. And it's an honor to God and to other people when we just get over ourselves, forgive ourselves and move on with what we are intended to do in this life, instead of sulk.

4. Today, I Will Be Grateful
I'm the first one to admit that I don't  have everything I want. I can't even always say I have everything I need. But I do have everything I need to be happy and content. Wake up knowing that as bad as things may seem at moments, you can still justify an attitude of gratefulness. We have all been at that point that it seems like our whole world has caved in and we feel like no one understands. Perhaps none of us have been through your exact circumstances, but every person has been in the ditches and trenches of life, feeling like we have nothing left to live for. But it's not true. We have the next day to live for. Even if we are on our death bed or in prison, we have eternity to live for. And we can be thankful for 2nd chances. We can be thankful that God spared our life for this long, allowing us to redeem some time on earth. We can be thankful the weather is getting warmer. We can be thankful for the smile on our child's face when they see us after school. Find something in your life that is good and say "God, I thank you today that you have given me....."

5. Today, I Will Be Confident
We can all find a great deal about ourselves that we aren't crazy about. From a physical aspect we dislike to a bad habit we know we have to something we want to succeed in that we haven't conquered yet. We can easily feel inferior when we compare ourselves to others. But instead of finding everything wrong with yourself that you can, try finding all the good things about  yourself and step up the confidence in who you are right now in this moment today. Having a good hair day? Make the most of it! Have white teeth? Flash them pearly whites. Have you been working out more than you used to? Have you been reading your Bible or spending time with God more than you used to? Have you been writing more? Blogging more? Have you become more aware of what you want out of life lately? Whatever good thing you have done for yourself or see in your self, be proud and confident in those aspects of who YOU are today. Don't focus on the failures, but on the successes and when you do, it will make you strive to up the ante on all the things you want to get better at or be better at.

6. Today, I Won't Let The Little Things Get To Me
Sometimes, when I accidentally cut someone off in traffic or I am daydreaming at a stop light and someone flips me off... or beeps at me...or drives by shaking their head or yelling from their car, I think to myself, "Wow, I really ruined their day, didn't I?"
I bet they went and complained to their wife about some crazy lady in traffic who wasn't paying attention, or went off on a rant on facebook how people need to learn how to drive. And I'm sorry but all I can think is, what a pathetic way to live. To let some little minor thing done by some stranger ruin your entire outlook on your day or your life. My husband is famous for getting beeped at and instead of ignoring it, he lets it bother him and rides up on the persons tail or else suddenly stops to a hault just to tick the person behind us off even more. And I always tell him "Chill out! Who cares! You are never going to see that person again."
There are things in life that we will never be able to change about our situation, our jobs, our bosses or about other people we have in our lives. Those things might ultimately bother us, but instead of letting their attitude, behavior, character flaw or their personal rant ruin our day, sometimes you can choose to simply walk around like you are in your own little world. It's easy. It's not a haughty  "I'm better than you" attitude, but its simply, I choose to be happy. That's all there is to it.

7. Today, I Can Say No
This was a big one for me. Because by nature, I am a people pleaser. I've said before how I'm a preachers kids and how I feel like throughout my life, I have let my fear of what people thought about me steer me into always trying to make other people happy, no matter how miserable or stressed out I got. I want the best for people. I want to help people. But ultimately I am of no use to no one~ God, my family, my husband, my church or anyone else if I am tired, crabby, unrested or haven't spent time focusing on myself or my relationship with God. Sometimes we just have to rest. We don't have to take our kids to every event available to them. We don't have to say yes to every event at our church. We don't have to be involved in every PTA meeting. We don't have to go to every party we are invited to. We don't have to do every craft we see on Pinterest that we love. We don't have to blog every day. We may want to, but we don't have to. Almost everything we do that keeps us busy is by choice. Even our jobs. It sounds crazy, but we can choose to go without some luxuries in life if we have to work so hard to get them that it stresses our bodies or minds out. I've had to say NO to people and things I love before and say "I'm sorry. I don't have a bad attitude. I want to help. But I can't do this right now because its stressing me out and it's no good for my family or my peace of mind." I seriously feel like it's a huge lesson God taught me last year is simply to learn to slow down.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Girl Without A Bff

In this day of social media.
Can I just say it?
There are things you find out.
Things you don't always want to find out.
                                 Things you could have gone without knowing.

Inside jokes between mutual friends, only being semi-revealed on facebook.
You can feel the laughter on both ends, as each sits by their phone or computer giggling 'their' joke.

Photos of people who went out and had fun without you. Smiles, laughter, meals.
Wait, this happened last night? Why didn't anyone invite me?
Why, you ask, well you're not a BFF, of course.

Then you've got plans being made by people, events accidentally made public,
and just in the knick of time, before they realized they needed to switch it to private:
you realize you were not invited...
and bam.
suddenly, the event is private.
Ooops, you weren't supposed to see that. You're not on 'that' list of friends.
You're just a facebook friend, didn't you know? 

What about community & networking on instagram or twitter?
Sometimes it's just another form of saying, "This is an A & B conversation, you can C your way out."
You chime in with what you thought was a clever or funny or kind remark or suggestion...
Maybe, just maybe... you will get a favorite, not an actual reply, but a click of a star.
Is that all you are worth?

And my personal worst is this: the proclamations of everyone and 'their' BFF.
"Me and my BFF are doing this..."
"Just hanging out with my BFF..."
"A joke only a BFF would get..."
"Hey guys, stop by and meet my bloggy BFF..." (double whammy)
It's a good way of saying, "I might consider you a friend. But I already have a list topper."

Why is it my personal worst?
Well, I have a confession. I don't have a BFF. 

I have 2 sisters & a brother that I love. I have friends I confide in. 
I have a mom who I love to hang out with. I have a husband that I laugh with and cry with. 
I have kids that I do stuff with non-stop. But I don't have a girl. One single girl. Or even a group of girls that I can put up a picture and say "Me and my BFFs."
I can say, "me and my girls" or "girls night" but I can't post of picture, nor can anyone post a picture of me and say with conviction, "THIS girl IS my one and only BFF."

Social Media has a really quick way of pointing out how alone you are.
(or at least making you feel that way).
It has a way of making you feel less than...
well, less than everyone else. Is 'her' life better?
There is a whole world of things happening outside your home and family
that 10 years ago you were perfectly happy not knowing about.
Ignorance was bliss, yes?
But now you know. Because you see everything.
You know it sucks. I know it sucks.
It just sucks to see the world revolve and you suddenly feel clueless. And left out.

So what do you do about it? 
How do you feel like you matter in this social media world that may make you feel like you don't?
                               You become confident in what you do have and who you do matter most to.

I can tell you without a doubt, my kids world revolve around me.
I can tell you without a doubt, my husband will do anything for me.
I can tell you without a doubt, my parents will always do their best to help me out...
I can tell you without a doubt, my siblings will always talk with me and listen to me...

But most importantly, even when every other person fails me.....
even when those people seem to let me down...
When my kids are disobedient or disrespectful, when my husband grumbles if I ask him to do anything, when my parents aren't able to help, when my friends have their other friends to do stuff with, when my siblings have their own friends & families,
when it seems like the entire world is going and moving along without me...

I still have someone that I know is completely head over heels crazy for me.
He backs me up in any situation I feel helpless.
He gives whatever I need when I am lacking.
He wraps his arms around me when I am crying.
When I'm weak, he becomes strong for me.

He is my confidence in the face of adversity.
He is my guarantee in the face of uncertainty.
He is my positive in a world of negative.

He is who I see when I look in a mirror. I don't see loser. I don't see lonely.  I don't see less than.
I see Jesus. Name above all names. Greater than. Victorious. Confident. Strong. Encourager. Friend.
And I see beautiful.

I give my everything because I am lacking for nothing...
Because I am made in his image. And that is who he is.

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. " 2 Corinthians 3:3

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Love in 2014

love is
calm, gentle, forgiving, tolerant & quiet
love is
compassionate, considerate, gracious, kindhearted, & charitable 
love is not
malicious, prejudice, covetous, spiteful, or ill willed
love does not
boast, exaggerate, or is pretentious
love does not
have an ego, delight, glorify, or admire oneself
love does not
disgrace, discredit, insult, disfavor or offend others
love is not
egocentric, superior, bragging, aloof or narcissistic
love is not
easily irate, sore, maddened, upset or riled
love keeps no record of
wrongs , hurts, offenses, crimes, faults, or bad behavior
love does not
delight in anything malicious, corrupt, hideous, wicked, or destructive
love rejoices
in genuineness, authenticit y & validity
love always
defends, cares for, looks after, shelters & supports
love always
banks on, counts on, believes in, looks to & leans on
love always
believes in, has confidence in, is optimistic, has faith in, looks forward to,
love always
keeps going, continues, plugs away, stays the course, & sees it through.

I Corinthians 13: 4-8

Basically, love has not changed.
Live it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Exhausting and Precious Moments of Life...

I've spent a great deal of my latest posts sharing what I'm learning or just thinking about as life happens. My mind never stops spinning, depending on my day or week and I bleed out onto my little online journal here. I write to encourage, but I mainly just write as I myself am encouraged or learning and it's painful almost to not get it out. It's like a kid letting all that energy out. 
Except all the energy is in my mind. Many times in my heart.

Aside from my journal of thoughts and musings, life is still happening. The physical, tangible pieces of life never stop. And it's been busy and exhausting. Only if you follow me on instagram do you really catch a glimpse of what I may be doing from day to day.

The pregnancy is progressing and basically I've become enormous. I've gained I think around 32 pounds and I am 28 weeks pregnant. The simple things in life have become difficult. You know the things like breathing, putting on my socks. And even pretending to think about the fact that I still have 11 weeks to go until my scheduled c-section almost wants to bring me to tears. Knowing I am just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.

This morning I woke up determined I have to do something to encourage and help myself because I want to enjoy the rest of my last pregnancy ever. I don't want to loathe each day as I have to get a head start just to roll my way out of bed. You know what I mean by the headstart? The 3-4 time half roll, just so you can make the full swing roll up and out of bed? Yep, that's me. I have not been exercising at all, nor have I even been close to watching what I eat. It's funny how people give me hi-fives and try to justify that it's ok that I eat like crap because I'm pregnant. It seems like just the opposite to me. Not only am I supposed to be taking care of this baby within, but eating junk along with no excercise isn't helping my energy level whatsoever. 

Plus I've also started swelling the last few days. So something is going to change. I AM going to enjoy these last few weeks and months of pregnancy. Not only that, but I AM going to enjoy my family. I'm not going to be irritable and too tired for them, when I'm just weeks away from welcoming another child into my world....
and theirs.

I don't want my precious babies to suffer from 'lack of mommy' just because I'm too lazy to eat right and move. I'm about to go from a 10 year old, 8 year old, and a 5 year adding one more. I need my energy, yes?

Anyways, I've kept myself busy. We have kept the kids busy. Going from Tae Kwon Do to Cub Scouts to Family trips to church to the movies and then some.

I've encouraged myself in the Lord for the simple reason of keeping my mind off the fears that keep trying wiggle their way into my thoughts about this baby, or my kids or my health or family. I refuse to allow myself to dwell or worry about things that have no substance. Yet, its a constant and daily decision for me to keep my eyes fixed on the very author of my faith. And I am so thankful that God's grace has carried me this far, through some scary and heartbreaking moments these past 7 months.

As I enter the third trimester of my final pregnancy, I intend to not only keep the family busy just for the sake of my sanity, but keep them busy for the sake of their joy and mine. They are the most precious gift to me. I tell my kids all the time, "God must have loved me so much to give me a Leila." ("or Jada or Wesley")

The most precious gift I could ever receive...
The most exhausting and precious gift.

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
~Psalms 61:1-2

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beyond Newlyweds & Toddler Tantrums

Yesterday as I was talking to a couple of friends at church, a mother and her adult daughter, we began a discussion of our children and some heavy issues that have risen as our children have grown older. I mean serious stuff that you only think of affecting teenagers or adults, yet these issues seemed to have made their way into our children's lives~our children who were just preschoolers a few years ago.  Discussing these, we brought up our fears over whether these things would make their way into their lives as teenagers and adults. Fears that I don't even want to discuss generally, because I don't like to give fear and worry a place to grow and develop into something more than just fear. Yet, we take these issues seriously because these are after all, our children.

Honestly, there was a small part of me that was thankful that I wasn't completely alone. It's far easier to talk to someone with children that are older, when you  have older children. And I remembered back when our church had a panel of women speak that had grown children offering wisdom and helpful advice to those of us that were in the beginning stages of motherhood. At that time, I only had Wesley and he was just a little guy....maybe 2 years old.

Since then, all kinds of things have come up. Things that I never imagined. And alot of times, feeling helpless, I take my questions or concerns to facebook. I have alot of friends on there with teenager or college age children...and sometimes you just need the encouragement from someone who has been in your shoes. And other times we are able to offer advice and encouragement to someone because we have been in their shoes.

We are always able to pray and listen to others. But sound wisdom and advice that can be respected can really only come from someone who has been where you are standing.

When I first started blogging, I had another blogger ask me to write a piece for her blog on marriage. Because I had been married for 16 years at that point (now going on 18 years) and she felt that I may have a thing or two to offer much of the blogging world, seeing that the majority are younger than I and have been married far less years than I. It was true, I did. And I had a lot of people email me after writing that piece. I shared it several times on different blogs, and those people shared it with others...
And though I have made it through 18 years, I still don't believe I know everything. Nor do I always follow my own advice.

While I respect and read many blogs and listen to many speakers and the knowledge and wisdom they have gained about marriage, children, ministry or life's issues in general... it's when someone has walked ahead of me that I feel I can truly seek something out that I may need to hear. I always feel myself smirk when someone who has been married a year or two gives me marital advice. That doesn't mean I don't take their relationship advice to heart...and to the Lord. Because I do. I'm always looking for opportunity to learn. But my initial reaction is generally "I hope your advice works just as well for you in 15 years."

I cherish the prayers of all I have gone to for prayer. But I also cherish the advice and wisdom who have counsel to offer, because they know what I am still trying to figure out.  
That stage of their life has passed.

And that goes for myself too. I never try to offer advice or even relate to something I don't really understand yet. I have another friend that has grown children that has had some struggles & fears recently. And I can't begin to even fathom what she is going through because my children are still fairly young. I offer her prayer and scripture and encouragement and it's genuine, but I can't begin to help or offer 'advice' in areas I have no experience in.
And believe me, I too, want the good healthy wisdom of those who have had teenagers, because I see those years approaching quicker than I realize. I see the attitudes, the more serious issues try to sneak their way in...and I want to know. How do I deal with this? 

 I've been in tears more than once this past month, completely clueless how to approach certain things. Things that feel bigger than toddler tantrums or sippy cups.
When my ten year old comes home telling me how lonely he is or crying that he is depressed, that sounds big to me. It sounds unheard of. It sounds almost ridiculous. Yet it happens. And it's happened to me. 
And I have felt alone trying to figure this out. Trying to be the momma God called me to be. 
To the children that God gave me. I know God knows I can do it. 
So that must mean I can do it.
But sometimes we just need a little guidance from someone who has been there. 

It prompted me to ask this question on twitter a little while ago "How many momma bloggers out there have children over the age of 10?" So far, I haven't gotten one reply. I know a handful of bloggers that do, and that have had similar struggles and I am very thankful I am not alone. But from the blogs I have come across mostly, the women are young mothers of young children.  

Not that I am OLD...and I am obviously pregnant again AND I have a preschooler, so I can easily relate to this 'early childhood' stage of life, because not only am I still living it, but have been through it a few times already.

But there is a world of difference between having a baby, a toddler and a preschooler...
than having a preschooler, an older child and a child approaching teen years.
And I'm sure that goes for having a preteen, a teen and a college kid.
And those seasons creep up quicker than you know.

I just wonder who could benefit from older women, and by older I don't mean OLD old. I just mean women who have been there, who are a few steps of head. Women that can not only relate right here and right now because they are in a similar stage as you, women that are friends... but women that have been through it and can offer truth and encouragement.

Am I totally alone on wanting wisdom from someone wiser? Maybe I do have some advice to offer, because I do have older children and have been married longer.
Yet I still need it from someone else...

I thought about over the weekend during my discussion with my two friends, about throwing a panel together at our church for all the mothers of children not yet in their teen years BY the mothers that have been through the whole 18 years of life with children already.

But I'm wondering about this online world as well. One website I love is Thrive Moms. I go to it often and I get alot from it, and not only that but I have actually went to these wonderful ladies for prayer.
But I'm quite sure all these wonderful gals are younger than I...
and sometimes it makes me sad that I have nowhere to go to seek prayer and advice from ladies who are in my season or who have passed my season. While I see breastfeeding and sippy cups and toddler tantrums in my near future. I also see two teenagers in my future just as quickly.

I don't exactly know what I can do about it right now. But I feel a tug on my heart to do something or be a part of something. Because I know what I need. I cherish the encouragement from the wisdom of others. I imagine other mothers or wives need it too.

If you have any thoughts, or let me know. I'd love to hear it.

Proverbs 15:22
Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suck It Up, Buttercup...

To all the people with problems, who have ever had a problem, who ever will have a problem:
Have you (or will you) let your bump in the road become your fork in the road?

Ideally I would love to be the one to tell you "Suck it up, buttercup." 
  I would love to tell you how I overcame each trial and temptation in the course of my life with faith and victory in 2-4 weeks and here is how I did it. I would love to give you a 5 step strategy of how to not let junk and sin and hard circumstances hold you back from destiny.

Unfortunately, it's only by trial and error that I've learned my lesson. I've learned not to let the bumps in my road of life ultimately become my fork in the road of life. Not to say that I never have. Because at times I have willingly let my own problems, circumstances & my own selfish actions suddenly take me on a path I had never intended. The path that led me further away from God. And further away from my destiny in God. I let my mistakes and hard times alter my course.

We all have done it. We all do it.

But at some point we have to learn. No one is exempt from problems. No one is exempt from temptation. No one is exempt from circumstances and a hard life now and then. And at some point we have  to rise above the status quo for what is acceptable when someone is going through a hard time. We have to stop playing the excuse game for ourselves by allowing *our screw up* or *our problem* to lead us down a permanent path of sin or a road of mediocrity.

Pick yourself up, friend... and move on to greater depths of purpose. Not because you earned it by screwing up. But instead because in that trial or error, you learned something. And the biggest thing you learned was to not let your problem suck you into a mediocre lifestyle, once again.  And because of that trial or error that you didn't compromise over, you now have something to teach someone else.
About strength.
About integrity.
About humility.

We have to stop pretending we are on a life long diet and every time we eat a candy bar, we simply shrug our shoulders and give up. That's not how life is supposed to work. That's not how our Christianity is supposed to work.

I watched the Son of God movie this past weekend and the one of the things that struck me the most was that is was taken from view point and gospel of John, in which at the end he stated, that every disciple with the exception of him had died for the cause of Christ. And he (John) was exiled. Their comfort wasn't more important to them than the message of the Gospel. They took it as far as they could go, despite the persecution they faced. Despite the death sentence they faced.

How convicting! That we can't even see past our own problems sometimes. We can't even see past our failures to see the forgiveness and grace of God. So, instead we let ourselves sit in defeat. We let ourselves swim in the pool of complacency, doing nothing...

Because, well, what's the point now, right? 
We already screwed things up. Or life already screwed us up.

Not true. You think the disciples didn't want to give up? You think Peter didn't feel guilty and ashamed after denying Jesus 3 times immediately following his promise to Jesus face that he wouldn't?  But did he wallow in it? Or did he move on to something greater?
I got news for you, friend. He moved on to accomplish great things...

There does come a point where we have to stop making excuses every time some little (or big) problem meets us on our road of life. There comes a point where we have to suck it up. Stop letting a difficult season defeat your destiny. You're not the only one with problems. Rise above them. Rise above the typical and the status quo. Refuse to let yourself accept that it's ok to walk away from God and your destiny just because you have been through a hard time.

It's not ok.
Somebody has to tell you.
It's not ok to sin.
It's not ok to sulk.
It's not ok to turn away from Jesus, who gave his life for YOU, just because....
Because you hit a rough spot.
We all have.  And it never has been okay.

I've been in that place. That place where I gave up on my purpose, gave up on God, gave up on joy because I let a hard time win me, instead of the compassionate heart of God win me.

And I finally decided... It's not ok to do what everyone else does. It's not ok to sit in sin. It's not ok to throw a pity party. Maybe everyone deems it acceptable to 'walk away' for a short period...or a long period, because you were 'going through a rough spot.' But for me, it's not acceptable to turn my back on the one who gave his life for me.

It's not okay for me to shrug your shoulders and walk away from Him.
And it shouldn't be ok for you.

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