Wednesday, October 12, 2011

where have the days gone?

my word, it's been over a month since i've blogged. forgive me. and since my head/throat/body hurts today - i conducted my first homeschool lessons from the couch today (good stuff.) - this isn't going to be anything to write home about either. :)

we are doing well as far as school is concerned. i had a major meltdown/freakout around week 3 (more to come in a future post), when reality slapped me in the mouth and i realized I REALLY WAS DOING THIS, but since then we've been okay. :) the girls and i are enjoying being together, learning things together, and making memories. we've found some really cool places to hang out and do our schoolwork when we're itching to get out of the house - the library is our fave place - and we have so many cool little coffeehouses, a benefit of living in a little college town, i guess. we've sketched self-portaits, hand-sewn homemade dolls just like laura and mary's in the "little house" series, and we're anxiously awaiting our first big field trip to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago to supplement our astronomy studies.

i often worry whether i'm doing enough, or covering the right subjects, or pushing too hard, or not pushing enough but i have been encouraged by other homeschooling moms that just being with my girls, encouraging their spiritual growth as well as their intellectual growth, and loving on them will always be enough.

well, this is brief but i'm hoping to devote more time to the blog in the near future. and now i'm going to take some more tylenol. :)

love you all,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

so far so good!

well, we've made it through TWO WHOLE DAYS of homeschooling! :) i have to tell you, i was a nervous wreck monday morning. i had everything planned out for the day, had the girls do a few chores prior to our "day" starting, we took our first day of school pics (in our jammies, of course), had them each gather up their books and meet me at the kitchen table, we all sat down and... crickets. :/

"hello? mom?"

yes, ok, i'm here. open your books. which one? i don't know, that one. no wait, THAT one. let's start with that. oh good gosh...

i was so nervous! how great is that? we did start our day with prayer (which helped immensely!) and will be doing our Bible lesson first thing every morning. it's a kid's inductive Bible study by kay arthur and it's been awesome. we got rolling and, amazingly, the day just flew by. i have to remind myself that there's no way to cram everything i want us to do in one day - so we'll just come back the next day and try again. :) we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the back deck and then came back in to finish our day. the girls wrapped our first day up with some bike riding around the neighborhood (aka recess).

we enjoyed our first field trip today! a visit to the neighborhood library (exciting, i know.) and lunch out. came back and watched an episode of "the naked archaeologist" (don't worry - he's fully clothed) since we have just started our "Story of the World" curriculum and are starting at the beginning, around 10,000 BC. after we made our reallllly long time line on which to document historical events, we all took about an hour to chill and read independently (mom, too. so awesome.)

i know there will be days that are tough. i'm sure there will be moments i lock myself in my bathroom. for hours. but i KNOW that this is exactly what God would have me do at this moment in time and that's pretty exciting.

love you girls - stay tuned for more exciting updates such as "the crane girls study astronomy" and "mom gets stuck on 6th grade math" :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

a Good Book and a big day

ok seriously. i've been such a terrible blog owner. it makes me laugh everytime i see that i actually have "followers" cause, honestly, we ain't going nowhere fast right now, my friends. :)

there are so many topics/issues on which God is dealing with me right now that i can't even begin to choose one to write about. heck, i sat for 2 full minutes trying to think of a name for this singular blog post.

laaaaaame. :)

i have felt for the past few months that i am in a holding pattern of sorts and that is so hard for me. we've made some pretty bold choices in our family lately that have and will change the trajectory of our daily lives - i'm both excited and nervous as heck about those choices. knowing God has ordained each one but praying that i, in my flailing humanness, won't completely screw it up along the way. :) i know He will be faithful to complete the good work He has started in me (and you! phil 1:6) but it's the limbo, the waiting, the anxious anticipation of what comes next, that always gets me.

i have been listening a lot to my new favorite pastor, mark driscoll. (by the way, NOT affiliated with rob bell's mars hill.) in fact, it was this whole "controversy" (among others) that really made me start to think about what i TRULY believe and why. there are differing "opinions" out there, even amongst "christian" teachers, that make lies seem like truth and have the potential to lead people away from the faith. (hmmm. can we say "end times"??) i have always loved books and i love reading what Godly authors have to say about certain topics but God has really convicted me lately that there is only ONE book, ONE author who should dictate what i believe.

the Holy, Sovereign, inerrant, ever-timely, all-encompassing Word of God.

because ALL scripture (not just the verses that make you feel good.) is God-breathed (2 tim 3:16), i can trust it to be TRUE. because the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword (hebrews 4:12), i can trust it to apply to me, today. THIS is the book to which i should devote the majority of my time. THIS is the book i should dive into in times of need, confusion, frustration, and desperation. there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with reading Godly books by God-seeking people (but be sure you do your research first. there are a lot of goats out there, too. yikes.) but we need to make sure the Book that is most quoted, most worn out, most accessible, and most read is God's perfect Word.

so i will keep reading books. :) but whenever the Holy Spirit pricks my heart or i sense that check in my spirit i will immediately line it up to compare it and contrast it with the Word of God. and if something's off... i'm done.

*changing gears*

all that said, tomorrow's a big day in the crane house. it's our first day of homeschooling. mom's a little freaked. :) but excited. i equate it to impending childbirth... you know this is God's plan for you, you think you're ready, you're way so excited picking out stuff for the BIG DAY, you get a little nervous, you feel a little better, you have a complete meltdown in the car, and most days you just wish it would GET HERE ALREADY! :) well, it's tomorrow. the girls have asked what we're gonna do on the first day. i told them we'll hand out books and workbooks, take some time to get to know our classmates, i will need to learn all the students names, etc. :) they thought that was hilarious. :| "no, but moooom, what are we gonna learn first??"

the first thing i would like for them to learn is that God loves them with an everlasting love (jer 31:3) and that He has a super awesome plan for their lives.

the second thing i would like for them to learn is that their mom and daddy love them more than the air we breathe and we will do everything within our power to prove that to them and help them discover God's super awesome plan for their lives.

and then we'll learn math. :)

i hope.

i would be honored, sweet friends, if you would whisper even the slightest prayer for me and my girls tomorrow. i am eagerly anticipating a year of learning, laughing, and loving, peppered with some craziness, floundering about and a little ugly-crying. (and that's just from me. lol) can't wait to see what God has in store for ALL of us this school year and into 2012.

love you so much,


Friday, July 22, 2011

your next big step

when i was growing up i loooooved the indiana jones movies. there were many memorable scenes (mmmmmmmmm...monkey brains) but one of my favorites by FAR was when indy approached a massive cavern and his challenge was to reach the other side. it was obviously humanly impossible for him to do it in his own power and it seemed hopeless that he would get to where he was going. i can relate.

i realize i've been neglectful in blogging lately. several reasons for this, the greatest of which would be that i have had too much going on in my brain and in my heart to even attempt to put it into words. i KNEW that when i started this that i would go through periods of inactivity, unmotivation, procrastination, insecurity, which would inhibit my posting from time to time. i also struggle with determining what may be too private to share with the blogging world. my hubby is an extremely private person - he's not a big fan of blogging - not for any reason other than he feels it exposes too much at times and leaves me vulnerable... he likes to protect me (from myself, mostly. lol) so sometimes (lately, for sure) i have hesitated in my posts - i want to be completely authentic but have felt lately that i wasn't at a point where i could be totally real without risking privacy and shirking submissiveness to my spouse altogether. which is why things have been quiet on the blog front lately. thanks for hanging in there with me. i love that about you. :)

i've been learning lately about how dependent i have been MY WHOLE LIFE on the opinions of others. i make decisions based on what others would think or how THEY would feel. whether it's choosing a parking spot, a line in the grocery store, where to sit in church, when or where i'm going to workout, what i'm going to wear on any given day, etc. it's ridiculous. i'm a people pleasure to the highest degree and while that isn't completely terrible in and of itself, it gets exhausting. i tend to overcommit myself, initially saying yes to everything and everyone, and find myself backing out due to double booking, overcommitment, anxiety, etc. i hate that i do this. hate hate hate it.

we've been praying about something in our house for the past few months. (i'll fill you in on specifics in a bit...) i KNOW that God has placed this in my heart (it is something that i've always said i would NEVER do - love that.), He's given me a vision and a desire to do it, girls are onboard, hubby is fully supportive but there was one thing, primarily, that was holding me back. WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE WOULD THINK. how sad is that?

before i go on, that "thing" is that i am going to be homeschooling our girls this next year. and quite possibly the year after that, assuming they don't completely regress in their learning and become blubbering idiots in the next 9 months or so. :) there are NUMEROUS reasons as to why we've chosen this route, the greatest of which is the pure and simple fact that i love my kids, i'm blessed to be able to be home with them, and i am way geeked out over the superfun curriculum we'll be working on this year. :) so now that i've ripped that bandaid clean, let's continue on with the story.

i decided a few days ago that i would send a message to a few people explaining this decision and why we were doing what we were doing. not that they NEEDED to know but i was nervous that they wouldn't approve and wanted to let them know it was not due to our dissatisfaction with the schools, etc. so i start pulling up names on facebook and discover a couple are missing. i did some investigating and came to find out that they had deleted me a few months ago after i had made some political comments with which they didn't agree. (who me?? NOOOOOO...) so here i am, so concerned with others' opinions, the greatest deterrent to me fully committing to a HUGE family decision, discovering that they had taken me off their friends list MONTHS ago. (doesn't that just reek with irony??) i'm not gonna lie - i was hurt (it still stings a little) but i have to respect their decision and their opinion of me just as i would like for others to extend the same kindness to me. i CAN be a bit mouthy at times and i am MOST DEFINITELY resolved in my beliefs so i understand if it's more than people can handle :) my intention is NEVER to offend, never ever.

ok, so i tell that story because God has used that in a HUGE way in my life this week. i've GOT to fix my eyes on HIM and not the huge cloud of witnesses. i MUST throw off everything that hinders me from running this race with perseverance.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." hebrew 12:1-3

there is only ONE opinion that matters. there is only ONE to whom i am ultimately accountable.

so if you think about it, pray for our family as we begin this exciting new chapter in our lives - i welcome any questions and/or comments, especially encouraging ones like "you're awesome" and "i love you" :) i am nervous and excited and freaked out and peacefilled all at one time. and yet CONFIDENT that God has called me to do something crazy scary and nonsensical. *eek*

so back to indiana jones... remember how that scene ended? indy remembers the words of his father and takes a HUGE step of faith, literally sight unseen, onto a giant invisible rock bridge which carries him to the other side. i LOVE that. (ginormous spiritual metaphor, anyone?)

so here we go... let's do those hard things. listen to that still, small nudging in your heart. pray for boldness, fix your eyes on HIM and TAKE THAT STEP.

love you girls

Monday, June 13, 2011

the next installment: on love and loss.

i'm trying to remember where it was we left off in the last post (prior to finger fun.) shoot. i can't even remember what i ate for lunch today. :) this should be fun.

let's pick up at the beginning of the year, 2002. my makenna was growing like a weed, we were settled in a new apartment, found us some sweet new friends, and hubby was working his tail off in the months following 9/11. which is probably why it was so surprising when the little test turned up positive! :) you know how the minute you discover you are carrying a brand new life inside of you, you immediately plan out the next 8 months in approximately 10 minutes flat? yep, me too.

i was excited. nervous, apprehensive, of course, but thrilled to death. my hormones had regulated themselves quite nicely over the past year and i really felt ready to add another human to the mix. part of the fun this time was involving makenna in telling daddy our big news :) i bought her the cutest little t-shirt that said "big sister" on the front and when we were all in her room one morning, i asked him to change her clothes. he put the shirt on her and, after straightening it out, read the front and looked at me like "whaaaat?" :) it was priceless. and so the preparations began. i don't remember how we told grandmas and grandpas but we let them know almost immediately. we calculated the due date to be on my brothers' birthday, october 6th. so fun. i went in for my first dr's visit which confirmed it was official. :) after the dr's visit we started telling friends, neighbors, bank tellers, drive thru employees, etc. we started looking at names, bedding themes, getting our brains wrapped around having another peanut in the house.

*WARNING* you are now entering the TMI zone. if you are male (ahem, GEORGE.) and would rather bypass this in-depth analysis of all things "baby", you may want to excuse yourselves now. i will give you a few seconds to decide...

alright then. you have been warned. :)

i was about 8 weeks along when i started spotting. it was a bright red and that set off some internal alarms. i immediately called my OBGYN and she assured me that this was normal and to come in so we could "take a look at that baby". i went in by myself (hubby was working), feeling good that this was nothing to freak out about and eventually found myself on the ultrasound table. it was just me and the ultrasound tech in a small, darkened room - the girl was only a few years younger than me. she started the process and wasn't saying anything. so, of course, i asked. :) "soooo, how's it looking in there?" and she tells me, after a long pause, that she wasn't "allowed" to give me the results of the ultrasound, only my doctor could do that. silly girl. i knew that wasn't right - i'd had an ultrasound tech give me every last detail twice with my firstborn. my stomach twinged and my heart sank a bit. she wrapped up her mission - got all the pictures she needed, i guess - and made a phone call. this one sealed the deal for me. she's all of 6 feet away from me and she says, "hi. i have a patient here who is supposed to be 8 weeks pregnant..." and it went fuzzy after that. "supposed to be". but in actuality, i wasn't? she then instructed me to head directly over to my OBGYN's office where my dr. would discuss the findings with me. big mystery here. i girded up my inner being, took a few deep breaths, and drove to her office.

my OBGYN was sweet, compassionate, a mother herself. she explained to me that the baby just didn't develop and it appeared that my body had just reabsorbed it. there would be no bleeding, no passing of material - just... done. i called my hubby from the lobby to tell him the news and made my way over to my parents' house where i shared the story with them. we cried. it was sad. but we trusted in God's hand, His Omniscience, His goodness. life would go on.

however, the next day i woke up feeling as sick as i had the day before. i felt bloated and gross - you know, PREGNANT. :) i called my OBGYN and her nurse explained that it might take a little while for my hormones to get back to normal levels. so i went about my days for another week or so, feeling worn out, nauseous, FAT. and then i got an urgent voice mail from my OBGYN.

"jenifer. i just got your blood test results and your hormone levels are TWICE what they should be. we may have a viable pregnancy after all. come in immediately for another ultrasound."

ok wait. what?? did i hear that right? i played it back a few times and yes, she did say "viable pregnancy". my hubby was out of town so i gathered up my almost 2 yr old and drove like a mad woman to the hospital where i would have the ultrasound done. i hoisted myself up onto the little padded table, hoping, PRAYING for a promising result. alas, it was not to be. the ultrasound tech explained (what? i thought they weren't allowed to do that! whatever...) that i had, what they called, a "molar pregnancy". i had never heard of it. she showed me on the ultrasound screen how the cells in my uterus were multiplying at twice the normal rate and my body (and my uterus!) thought i was pregnant with twins and twice as far along as i actually was. well no wonder my jeans didn't fit! my body thought i was 18 weeks pregnant! but i wasn't. there was no viable pregnancy. my faint glimmer of hope was officially gone.

since david was out of town at the time we scheduled the D&C for 2 days later. i don't remember the procedure at all but there was some intense cramping to follow. the worst part had to have been when my milk came in a couple days later. that was tough. then i had to go in to my OBGYN's office at least once a week for the next 6-8 weeks to follow up with blood work to ensure my hormone levels were returning to normal. unbeknownst to me, molar pregnancies can, if the abnormally replicating cells have not been completely cleared out, cause uterine cancer. that's not fun stuff. so on a weekly basis i had a consistently bitter reminder that i was definitely NOT pregnant. sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by burgeoning bellies, glowing cheeks, the chatter of impending life-change, was emotionally taxing, to say the least. sure enough, my hormone levels slowly returned to their pre-pregnancy state. my OBGYN suggested we wait a year before trying for another baby. but did we take that advice? c'mon, silly. :)

in the few months that followed, i earnestly sought after God and His purpose and plan. i had to come to grips with the fact that my daughter may be the only biological offspring we would ever produce. was i okay with that? could i trust Him with that? in retrospect, i can absolutely see the purpose through the pain but it's SO HARD when we're in the midst of the trial to ever see a hopeful conclusion. emotions are so thick and all-encompassing that it FEELS like you'll never be free of them. but just as surely as the night descends, the sun also rises. the seasons pass, and winter morphs silently into spring. old becomes new and the flesh gives way to the spirit of Truth. our salvation, our stories are being worked out on a daily basis. the tapestry has not been completed but we are trusting the Artist who SEES, with perfect eternal perspective, the glorious conclusion.

i feel i keep repeating myself. :) but if there's one thing i have learned in my nearly 37 years, it's that a) God is good but b) sometimes things just don't make sense. yet if i BELIEVE that God IS good and He desires the best for me (and for YOU!), can i accept the challenges, as well as the blessings, as all coming from His benevolent hand? that those things which seem to afflict me physically or emotionally, but cause tremendous spiritual growth, be deemed a mistake? no way. i promise you, dear girls, it may be weeks or it may be years, but He will allow you the exquisite blessing of being able to look back to see your circumstances come together with striking clarity to form a most beautiful picture. YOUR picture. the only one like it in the whole entire world. oh, it's gonna be SO GOOD.

"for we know that in ALL things God works for the GOOD of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." romans 8:28 (emphasis mine)

ALL things, baby. ALL. THINGS. in times of painful loss, believe it. cling to it. rest your tear-stained face against it. you are firm in His grip, dear friend. :)

love y'all

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

finger fun and psalm 144

hi sweet friends :)

earlier today i visited with a hand surgeon (again) to discuss the present and future treatment of an "injury" to my middle finger. i have attached a picture. prepare to be grossed out. :) yes, it's my right middle finger - and no, it's not from overuse. :) i have a condition called scleroderma of which a symptom is reynaud's disease. reynaud's is a vascular disease that causes my fingers and toes to lose circulation in cold temperatures (whether it's snow or air conditioning - grocery stores are the worst!) the lack of blood flow to my fingers (and/or toes) can cause the skin at the tips of them to basically start to deteriorate and die, often referred to as a "digital ulcer". (awesome.) i've had a few of these in the past few years (one in the summer of 2008 which became infected and required a 4 day hospital stay on i.v. antibiotics) but they all eventually heal (with scarring, of course.) this latest bugger is on the very tip of my finger which, the doctor explained today, is very precarious because it sits directly on top of the bone so it takes much longer for the skin to regenerate and heal. i have zero use of that finger at all. you know how when you cut back your fingernail a little too far and it hurts like the dickens? it's kinda like that but multiply it by 100. ouch. i am typing with 9 fingers, as i have been for the past 5 months. (not very conducive to blogging. sheesh.) i do laundry with my left hand, basically. anything that is done around the house (dishes, scrubbing bathtubs, hanging clothes) is a potential for me to hit my finger against something which causes sharp shots of pain up my arm. usually about 15 times a day (i'm not the definition of graceful you know.) :)

listen, i realize there are far worse conditions. i realize that other than this offending appendage, i am basically healthy and normal (ok, shut up. i said BASICALLY.) this has been such a battle for me - one minute sinking into self-pity, the next soaring on hope and patience. crying and yelling at God "I KNOW YOU CAN HEAL THIS! WHY WON'T YOU JUST DO IT?? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??" this has, quite literally, become the ever present "thorn in my flesh". oh, so frustrating... but despite the seemingly "bad news" today (the doctor rattled off several different options such as skin grafts from my palm, attaching my middle finger to my index finger and then using that grafted skin to cover the tip of my finger, cutting down the bone and pulling the skin up over the top of the finger which would result in some weird-lookin "hooked nail" over the top of my finger, etc...) amazingly enough, my most promising option was the only one i would have never considered 30 mins prior to my appointment. to just keep going. that my body knew what it was doing and would heal itself in it's perfect timing. and seeing as how i personally know and trust the Creator of aforementioned body, i think i'll do just that.

i found this chapter during my struggle with my last digital ulcer and love the first verse oh, so much. the whole chapter is pretty stinkin awesome, actually :) i'm printing this baby out and hanging it up somewhere - i might even memorize it and hide it away in my heart. it's good stuff.

Psalm 144

Of David.
1 Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.

2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples[a] under me.

3 LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

5 Part your heavens, LORD, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
6 Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
shoot your arrows and rout them.
7 Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners
8 whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.

9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.

12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.[b]
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the LORD.

Friday, May 27, 2011

i'm abnormal. and i like it. :)

earlier this week, makenna, my 5th grader, asked if she could go to the movies this friday night with a friend. i asked if her parents were going and to which movie they would be going. she wasn't sure so she said she would find out and let me know. i realized this morning that i hadn't heard an update so i asked her about the movies tonight and what the plan might be. she said "oh, i'm not going." and i asked why? she said "i dont want to go. well, i WANT to go but they are just being dropped off and they're going to see 'something borrowed'."

ok now, is it just me or is this HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE for 5th graders to be dropped off at the movie theater, not to mention going to see a movie where the main premise is a girl who steals her "best friend's" fiancee and proceeds to have a secret sexual relationship with him?!??? ummm, WHAT?? and can i just say how PROUD i am of my daughter?? i have to be honest with you, back in the day, i probably would have "forgotten" to mention the absence of parental supervision or the movie of choice... and then i think about their "role models" today - rihanna, britney spears, katy perry, ke$ha (a dollar sign? really?) lady gaga... my heart literally aches for these girls right now. (both our girls AND the "role models") am i overreacting or are these feelings justified? (honestly, it doesn't matter what the consensus is, i'm sticking to my guns here.) it is up to US, as parents, to protect our babies' hearts and minds for as long as possible - call me old fashioned, call me a fuddy-duddy, but i refuse to subject her to the CRAP that our culture claims is "okay" and "normal". i pride myself on being abnormal and i am striving for that with my sweet girls, too. :)

hang in there, moms (and dads!) we can do this!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

so freaking excited!

seriously, i can hardly contain myself! i keep pulling my husband over to the computer screen to show him my newest layout or blog button. i don't understand why he's not nearly as impressed as i am. :| i am officially in love with my blog again! this time thanks to a most fabulous site that i found courtesy of my sweet friend christine's blog and it is now one of my new favorites - - some of the cutest FREEEEEEEE (sing with me...) layouts, buttons, etc. i've ever seen! (ok, STILL trying to figure out links. bear with me...)

also, another thing i am SO FREAKING EXCITED about are a few of the contacts i've made in the blogosphere, just through browsing and commenting. there are so many AWESOME girls out there. i'm just blown away. come to think of it, one of my favorite people is a girl i met via her blog during the 2008 election who then invited me to write some for her blog and we are now good friends. i've never met her in person but we are confident we will meet this side of Heaven. (and if not, we will be SURE to get mansions on the same golden street.)

another thing i am SO FREAKING EXCITED about today is the opportunity to celebrate my sweet friend, amelia peterson, at her graduation/see-ya-later party today. talking about God bringing people together, i met this darling girl at our church and we immediately bonded. she is originally from zimbabwe and has the coolest accent so i could just sit and listen to her for hours. :) and she gives the BEST hugs :) she has been one of the MOST authentic, genuinely encouraging sisters in Christ i have ever met. i think it's just AWESOME that God would allow two people to move 1000s of miles (literally!) to converge upon valparaiso, indiana at just the right time in history and become fast friends. i love you amelia (and mudiwa!), and KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are now FAMILY and will be forever. love you girl.

that is all for today, my friends - again, let me know what you think of the changes and if you have any additional tips i would LOVE to hear them. :) i'm new here.

enjoy your saturday, dearies :)


Thursday, May 19, 2011

so whaddya think?!? :)

doesn't it make you want to eat cotton candy??

i realize it may be a bit overwhelming, what with all the girliness, but it is still a work in progress (kind of a metaphor for life, is it not? lol) i found the MOST fabulous websites today - i believe i linked them up to the right of this post (or the left? good gravy...) the first is and it has the most adorable backgrounds, blog buttons, etc. for FREEEEEE! (yes, i am throwing my head back and singing that word right now. it feels so good.) the other is a way cool blog by a girl in utah who designs fancy artsy stuff (i'm not describing it very well - i highly recommend you NOT take my word for it and check it out yourself.) find her blog at if i had the ability to put to paper all the fun thoughts in my head, her stuff is what it would look like. :) she's good.

as my new favorite blog addition says "if you are here, you are awesome" :) that pretty much wraps up my sentiment towards you all. as busy moms, i KNOW your time is precious and short and i can't tell you what it means to me that you would drop by and waste some of it on me :) have a wonderful evening and rejoice in the fact that tomorrow is FRIDAAAAAAYYYY!! (yes. again with the singing.)

love you girls!

pardon the mess

i got the bright idea to start piddling around with the design and layout of the blog and now i don't know what the heck i'm doing... :) so for the next few days, please excuse the changes while i explore the wide world of web design :)


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

feeling inspired

i realize i've allowed the blog to kinda slip off my radar for a couple weeks. i should have made a disclaimer at the onset of this adventure that this was not gonna be one of those blogs that you follow every day :) but i have recently been motivated to persevere even through the uglies. that if this is going to be a truly authentic reflection of my life i would HAVE to continue on, even when i didn't feel like it.

i still wrestle with the idea of being completely transparent - SURELY you have no desire to be subjected to ALL the craziness rattling around in there :) my sweet friend, alisha, who has her own amazing, fantabulous blog at, inspired me to just get it out there (girl, i still don't know how to put a link in the body of my posts. someone help me here. lol. i put her "button" under my favorite blogs links to the right of this post.) and i have come to the realization that i'm not gonna do this blog just for YOU. it's for me, too. that, heaven forbid, i write something that ticks someone off or (shudder) causes them to "unfollow" my blog but if i am to continue on in this, i have to risk that. isn't that the heart of true relationship anyway?? putting it all out on the table and allowing the other to either take it all or walk away? you will either love me for who i am or you won't. my whole life i have tried to conform myself to fit the expectations of others - to be who i thought they would want me to be - and i'm flat out tired of it.

i'm going through a bit of a refining process right now - breaking my dependence on people and focusing on Jesus to be my primary source of encouragement and stability. i have weaned myself off of my antidepressants (as i have a couple times in the past when i felt God was leading me to do so) and my emotions feel sharper, heightened, deeper. i feel good. i will elaborate more on this process and my feelings towards antidepressants (which are positive, i might add) in a later post.

so for today, i'm going to leave you with this thought. BE REAL. be who you are. ask God to continue to shape you into the person HE wants you to be. to fulfill His purposes for your life, whether they "make sense" or not. i'm done with trying to "make sense" of things. :) sometimes they just don't. embrace it, go with it, lean into it. TRUST HIM.

love you more than you know...


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

long time, no type

what's up ladies :) can i please apologize for not getting anything on the blog lately? i should have made a disclaimer at the beginning of this endeavor that this wasn't gonna be one of those blogs that you follow on a daily basis. i'm not that motivated. :) it's about 63% procrastination, 17% laziness, 8% pseudo-perfectionism (if it ain't perfect, it ain't getting done), 5% busy-ness, and 7% forgetfulness. :) so as long as we're all clear that this isn't one of those well-maintained, perfectly polished blogs then we can all carry on and be comfortable with who we are. lol :)

honestly, today is one of those days where you wake up and your hormones are already dictating your agenda. i had a fabulous, FABULOUS, day yesterday with my sweet hubby. listen girls, don't get me wrong, there are ABSOLUTELY days (weeks, even) where we get on each others' ever-lovin last nerve. but i can say, without hesitation, that the man that God sent into my life 1 month after my 22nd birthday is without a DOUBT my soulmate and my best friend. all that to say, i still woke up this morning feeling like dung. not necessarily physically or spiritually but just worn out before the day even started (does ANYONE know what i'm talking about here?) i snapped at my kids a couple times and started fixating on all the things that haven't been done, need to get done, lack of time, lack of funds, and on and on... i got on the scale and that didn't help ONE BIT. i've started exercising more regularly and i LOVE it but it sure would be nice to see some results. i am making every attempt at placing my love for God over my love of food but it's hard cause i love them both SO MUCH :) i should also mention that over the past couple weeks i have been weaning myself off of my antidepressants and this definitely may have a role in the situation. not to mention it's PMS week and that, in and of itself, is enough to swiftly drive everything downhill FAST. :/ so today has been kind of the perfect storm and yet, i'm okay. i took my daughter to the allergist this morning and had a great conversation with her about hormones and boys and standing out from her friends and being different. i wandered around walgreens while waiting for her prescription and walked down the candy aisle unscathed. and then i narrowly, but successfully!, avoided the mcdonald's drive-thru in an attempt to make it all feel better :) i've taken several deep breaths and offered up more than a few prayers on my behalf. and through it all, i've been reminded again at how gradually, yet surely, God can change a heart. that personal growth is a process and a slow one at that. that i can have these bad days, admit them freely, and MOVE ON. i'm feeling better already and it's not even noon yet. :) this to me, is a GREAT sign. i've oftentimes started the day with a crummy mood and then followed it all the way into a deep, dark funk. you know the funk. she ain't pretty. :/ so let me encourage you friends - if you're feeling a little "funky" today, that's ok. your feelings and emotions are completely valid and you are NOT a bad mom. :) allow yourself to submit to the refining process knowing that there is a greater good at work here.

tomorrow (or the next day if we're really being honest here. lol) i want to get into the whole antidepressant discussion - again, i am no medical expert, i can only give you my story and what i feel God has impressed upon my heart for MY situation and, in doing so, pray that it will encourage you to seek out His good and perfect will for your life as well.

"and i pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have POWER, together with all the saints, to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ, and to KNOW this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be FILLED to the measure of ALL the fullness of God."

ephesians 3:17-19 (emphasis mine)

my, how i wish i could give each of you a big squeezy hug right now (selfishly cause i need a lot of squeezy hugs today. lol) but mostly because i love each of you, some sight unseen, with a deep and genuine affection through our bond of mommyhood, womanhood, and sisterhood :) have a beautiful, blessed day sweet girls.

hugs (big squeezy ones!)

p.s. for those of you who added up the percentages at the beginning of this post to make sure they totaled 100% i love you most! LOL! :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

i just gotta say something else :)

i would like to respectfully submit an addendum to yesterday's post :) i understand we may have opposing views regarding this topic and i honor that. i just want us to be clear that this is NOT a spiritual maturity issue - i am firm and confident in what i believe and what i feel God has laid on MY heart and for that i will not apologize. if you are offended, it breaks my heart but i have to trust that you have come to terms with what God has laid on YOUR heart and reconciled yourself to that. we are HUMAN. we will NEVER have the answers we are so desperately needing here on earth. but, one day, one glorious day, ALL will be made clear and we will no longer see through a glass darkly but will then see face to face. this is my hope and my song. thank you Jesus for saving a wretch like me.

yes, Jesus commands us to love our enemies, to turn our cheek, to forgive 70 times 7. i understand that Jesus' death and resurrection frees us from the law of the Old Testament but does it also discount the stories of abraham, joseph, moses, and david?? david, the only man in scripture to be referred to as a "man after God's own heart", killed tens of thousands of men, in addition to his infamous victory over goliath. there were shouts of joy and jubilation when david killed the giant (with a blow to the head, i might add), cut off his head and brought it to saul. i realize this is tough to stomach, it seems very harsh, but it's in the Bible - it was a God-ordained VICTORY. believing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, is it not feasible that He could ordain another victory in a similar fashion? the beauty of the Bible is that it is not to be completely understood - there are seemingly numerous contradictions held within - but i believe with every ounce of my being that it is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. in our humanness, we cannot make sense of all of it. and God recognizes this. but, in that, i KNOW that ALL OF IT is TRUE and i TRUST that one day it WILL all make sense. the Holy Trinity, the Godhead three in one, is something we cannot rationalize in our human brains. that God is a consuming fire and a compassionate Father is hard to comprehend. that Jesus would speak such harsh, seemingly condemning words to the pharisees and the sadducees (see the Gospel of John) and then command us to love our enemies is tough to reconcile. but i TRUST in His goodness and His love for me and the rest of the filth of the world, of which i am the worst. i will not be boasting in this one man's death but i am extremely grateful that we live in a country that is well-protected by honorable men and women who willingly and selflessly give their lives and their livelihoods in defense of us and our children. i am thankful for a husband who, as his vocation, risks his life for the life of others and is trained to do what needs to be done in order to fulfill his commitment to his country. i pray every day for his protection which is why i am so insanely passionate about this.

love you girls and i respect differing opinions because i know that God speaks to each of us individually and in different ways. it is not my intent to try to persuade you to believe otherwise, or to influence you to think as i think (what an obnoxious world that would be. lol) just felt led to share my heart with you all. be blessed today - hug your babies a little tighter today - and know that i love you with all my heart :)


Monday, May 2, 2011

i just gotta say something :)

ok, it was totally my intention to make this a politically neutral zone but this is something about which i am so insanely passionate that i cannot help but comment. :)

i am not celebrating the death of a man, i am celebrating the victory of a nation. if there was ever a man who qualified as "evil", who has repeatedly mocked the very nature and being of the Almighty God, slaughtering thousands of people in the name of his impotent, dead god, it is OBL. (i will not take the time to type out his name.) while it is shameful that in one instant, one bullet, everything to which he dedicated his life was destroyed and he was given over to an eternal destiny of pain and suffering (much like that which he inflicted upon thousands of americans on several occasions - 1993 world trade center bombing, 2000 uss cole bombing in yemen, september 11th, 2001) that was the consequence of the choices OBL made, repeatedly, insolently, shamelessly. justice IS the LORD'S and He can use whichever means He deems necessary to exact that justice. YES, we should pray feverishly for the lost. YES, we should make every attempt to fulfill the great commission and make disciples of ALL nations (even those who hate us and mock us and kill us) but as a woman who is passionate about her beloved country, thankful to her family members who have so graciously and selflessly served in defense of her, and as a mother who wants nothing more than a safe and free country for her children in which to live, i cannot help but feel gratitude that we have closed this chapter in our nation's history. pray without ceasing for God's powerful hand of protection over our nation and her people, wisdom for our leaders and love for each other. Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

ain't no rain gonna slow THIS girl down! :)

it's chilly, it's rainy, it's windy... (welcome to chicago.) but we are NOT letting it dampen our spirits today (pun fully intended!) :)

i've got 3 cute girls buzzing around in the early morning hours, ready for the day's adventure! what a blessing to be able to do this with my sweet girls - growing up, my dad was a teacher and a coach for several years and then worked with a faith-financed ministry so our income was modest at best. i never felt at want while growing up - i always had everything i needed and a few things i wanted even :) (an atari, a cabbage patch kid, a cool bike with a silver sparkly banana seat, you get the jist.) but i am so fortunate to have a husband who has steady employment (barring any major government shutdowns!) and works very hard to provide for our family. tell your hubby thanks today for all he does for your family (trust me, girls. it is hard when it's not reciprocated but God calls us to submission and to respect our husband, regardless of his response. you can't get around that.) i have found that it will revolutionize your relationship in the best way possible. :)

so off we go to the big city!!! :) will try to post pics later - pray for our safety and clear skies!!

ANNNNNNND we have TWO winners from yesterday's big giveaway!

CONGRATS kristi skeen and jill keiser!!!! :) i can't wait for you to check out this book - i pray it encourages you as much as it has me. and it's FUNNY. i like FUNNY. :)

love y'all! enjoy your weekend - praying you find time for rest, for fun, some alone time, and some sweet family time as well :)


Thursday, April 14, 2011

favorite things friday giveaway!

hello there sweet girls!

well, it only seems fit that this week's favorite things giveaway would be my new favorite book, "made to crave" by lysa terkeurst! i have heard from dozens of you who have also started reading this book, just ordered it or are about to order it. my advice, do it NOW. :) as my friend liz said, it is a great resource for any kind of addiction you may be struggling with - insecurity, alcohol, pride, brownies, cocaine, what have you... it is an easy read, so very witty but poignant and REAL. obviously, i can't say it enough - LOVE IT. so, since i just friggin' ADORE this book, i will be choosing TWO winners tomorrow instead of the one (and for the record, my delivery service is running VERRRRRRY slowly these days. but i promise you, they are arriving shortly. as far as you know. ha!) so leave me a comment (yes, "hi." does count, lesley. it's lame, but it counts. lol) and i will randomly pick two names to receive this book! yay! i'm already excited for you!! :) i know it will change your heart as it has mine. thank you Jesus!!

this is going to be another busy but BLESSED weekend - my youngest daughter is turning 8 and her birthday wish is to have breakfast at the American Girl store in Chicago :) so we are getting up early on saturday to catch the train into town, dining with my two sweetie-girls and two of laney's bffs at AG, and then her Aunt Jessica (my sissy from Dallas!) is flying up and meeting us at the store to surprise her! i've almost blown the surprise, like, 1200 times already, too. in case you haven't figured it out by now, i have a HUGE mouth. :D (it really does look just like that.) Jess will be meeting us after breakfast so as soon as we're done eating we're going to pick out her new AG doll and Aunt Sisi will jump out from behind something and scare the tar out of her! YES! :) my sis will be staying with us for the week (fun girl time! and yikes, this will be my biggest test so far - i don't know if my sister and i can actually HAVE fun without eating inordinate amounts of fried food. we'll probably just sit around sulking, nibbling on carrot sticks. lol) and THEN, as if that weren't fun enough, my cute little sis-in-law (my brother's wife) is flying up from college station, tx (WHOOP!) on thursday to hang out with us for a few days! SO EXCITED!! the three of us will be staying in the big city thursday night so if you hear any news reports of 3 crazy, hungry looking women wandering the magnificent mile that would be us :)

wow. aren't y'all glad i just gave you a complete itinerary of the next 7 days of my life?? thrilling, i'm sure. :) if i lose a couple followers after this post i don't blame ya. (ha! just kidding. i will find you.)

so check in with me tomorrow to get in on a chance for the giveaway, "made to crave". and have a super fun fabulous friday!! love you girls!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

my new favorite book

first off, i feel i need to apologize for not posting lately. we moved the family computer upstairs because my daughter needed to print something off for school and i've left it there all weekend and the past couple days. i tell you what, i can actually get stuff done without that thing beckoning me, taunting me all day long :) so it's been freeing for me to focus on other things like my family and my housework and the million projects i have piling up around the house. you should try it some time! (after you get done reading this, of course. lol)

ok, i am a reader and i love to read inspirational, "self-help" type books. i figure if i'm going to sit down and take a break out of my day to read, i want to get back up with a renewed purpose :) and i always have a pile of books that have been "sampled" a couple chapters at a time laying around. but this one has grabbed me and i can't get enough of it.

i started this blog as a source of encouragement for mommies who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, guilt, feelings of inadequacy, etc. and to remind you that it is NOT a sign that your Heavenly Father has abandoned you or stopped loving you. i have struggled for 11 years with these emotions/imbalances and have tried in the past several things to remedy my pain. one of the main sources of counterfeit comfort that i've run to has been food. ahhhhhh, yes. dare i say i'm not the only one here? it has been the number one stronghold in my life for the past 20 years, no doubt, and has only intensified since having children and losing, what i believed to be, my "pre-baby body" (truly, she ain't the same. lol) i touched on this in an earlier post, talking about how i tried to assuage my loneliness while my husband was in training with french fries and cheeseburgers. which would only serve to usher in more guilt, and hot on the heels of that guilt was the total defeatedness and depression i felt, which would find me, once again, in some random drive-thru lane... a sweet friend introduced me to a book that i love by gwen shamblin called "the weight down diet". the concept of loving God more than food seriously hit home for me. i realized i was an addict. some people struggle with alcohol, some with drugs, but mine was a more hidden and, sadly, socially acceptable addiction of food. reading that book really did change how i thought about food. it helped me to realize that my eating habits and cycles were absolutely a spiritual issue and stronghold for me. i still abide by many of the principles of the weigh down diet but have become lazy and the old excuses start sneaking in... (and isn't that JUST how satan works? he doesn't sit you down with an entire ice cream cake and yell "eat!!", he seduces us with rationalizations and compromises until we are numb to the voice of reason.)


okay, so here's my new favorite book (on this topic) it's called "made to crave" by lysa terkeurst. lysa is a well-known author/speaker and is the founder if "proverbs 31 ministries" i started reading this book a couple weeks ago, one snippet at a time, and then recently found her website which has all kinds of awesome info and resources for us. i HIGHLY encourage you to check it out. surely i can't be the only one who knows that this is a problem and so desires to be right with God in this area...

here's what lysa has to say:

"getting healthy isn't just about losing weight. it's not limited to adjusting our diet and hoping for good physical results. it's about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change - spiritually, physically, and mentally. and the battle really is in all three areas. i had to ask God to give me the desire to be healthy. i knew a vanity-seeking "want to" would never last. shallow desires produce only shallow efforts. i had to seek a spiritual "want to" empowered by God Himself."

wow. that right there is the key, my friends! i have wrestled and wrestled with this in the past. most of my motivation for losing weight prior to having babies (and especially prior to getting married) was to LOOK GOOOOOOD. to turn heads. to feel good about myself. but i don't want that now and i haven't been able to figure out how to get rid of that focus in my head. trying to lose weight has always been a shallow, prideful endeavor for me - i don't want it to be that anymore! recently, in light of my health issues, i have come to terms with the fact that i NEED to exercise to take care of my body. but where does that leave me with the food? it still calls me from the pantry every night, after the kids have gone to bed, away from the watchful eyes and grabby little hands (i mean, there's no WAY i'd let my kids eat the way i do! how lame is THAT? ugh.) and i am DONE. this book has refocused my gaze and reminded me that this is a HUGE spiritual issue. think about it... if satan can defeat us in this area, all kinds of stuff gets out of whack. we are depressed and cranky from eating crap all day long and we take it out on our kids. we feel lazy and unmotivated so it hinders us from enjoying life to the fullest. and, most importantly i think, when we feel bad about ourselves we are FAR more less likely to be intimate with our husbands and fulfill our roles as wives in that aspect. NOT GOOD. and all for what?!? A COOKIE??? my word, Lord Jesus, forgive us, forgive ME, for not recognizing this sooner and not bringing this completely and totally to Your feet. help me to change my mindset, to set my mind on things above (colossians 3:1-5) and take every thought captive "to make it obedient to Christ" (2 cor. 10:5) i would love to hear from you, sweet sisters. i hope we can encourage each other through our struggles and hardships, knowing that there is power in prayer and in community. i have a link to this book set up at the end of this post - check out the book, it's less than $10 on, and let me know what you think of it. most definitely go to the "made to crave" website for further encouragement and also to lysa terkeursts' "proverbs 31 woman" website. such awesome resources available to us out there! let's take advantage of them! :)

i love y'all so so much. i plan on getting back into david's life soon and how it relates to our emotional struggles as moms as well. but i just had to share with you all what has been heavy on my heart the past few days... praying for ALL of you and i adore you more than words can express :)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

let's dig in :)

"give me understanding, and i will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
direct me in the path of your commands,
for there i find delight.
turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
turn my eyes toward worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word."

psalm 119:34-37

i tell you what, i love God's word. "for the word of God is alive and active. sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (hebrews 4:12) it is refreshing, it is encouraging, it is the voice of the One True God made available to us here on Earth. maybe that's why satan distracts us with every possible hurdle in an effort to keep us from getting into it. he KNOWS it is "the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" (romans 1:16) he fills our thoughts with excuses and rationales causing us to avoid getting into the word. he KNOWS there is power in the sacred script, he KNOWS God's word does not return void (isaiah 55:11) and that we WILL gain strength, wisdom, knowledge, peace, and encouragement from it and that scares the TAR out of him. it can be intimidating if you don't know where to start. face it, it's a big book with a lot of words - that scares me. :) first, pray that God would give you the desire to know Him more. sometimes, it just starts with a simple request. He sees it all anyway - just lay it out there. "God, right now i'm just not really interested in reading the Bible. can you please give me a desire to do it?" pray that He will bring specific scriptures to mind. Ask Him to lead you to just the right story, the right verse that will speak to you, in your situation, TODAY. sometimes i just sit on my couch, open up my Bible, lay my hands on those precious pages and sit in the quiet. He tells us to "be still and know that i am God" (psalm 46:10) just rest in His goodness and in His unfailing love for you. He really wants to spend time with you, to love on you a little bit. pray for the opportunity and the desire to do that today - to rest in His word. take a look at the psalms - a book in the Bible dedicated to praise and worship. it is powerful! i am praying for all of us, sweet sisters, that He continues to make us into strong warrior princesses, beloved daughters of the Most High God, raising up the next generation ready to do battle. love it. :)

ok, so let's get into checking out this david fella... we've all heard the numerous stories from our very first days in sunday school. david the little shepherd boy, david and goliath, david and bathsheba, etc. i've always been fascinated with his life because i knew that God had called him a "man after his own heart" and yet i heard the stories of struggles, the terrible choices (adultery and murder? so not good.), his wayward children, his battles with depression, and i thought, i really need to investigate this further. :) there i was, beating myself up on a daily basis because i wasn't "perfect" or the least bit consistent in my walk with the Lord, and then here's david, making a complete mess of things, and i think, maybe there's hope for me yet. well, guess what. there is. :)

david's story starts in 1 samuel 16. Saul is the King of Israel and he's messed up pretty badly. samuel has to break the news to Saul that "the LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and given it to one of your neighbors - to one better than you." OUCH. thus begins the quest for a new king - God has told samuel to go see a man named jesse in bethlehem (yes, THE bethlehem), that He's chosen one of jesse's sons to be the next King of Israel, but He hasn't revealed it to samuel yet. so david's father, jesse, brings out "all" his sons to march in front of samuel but none of them are "the one". samuel senses something is up and he asks jesse, "are you SURE these are all the sons you have?" oh wait. silly jesse forgot one. he's out with the sheep. wow - david's own father was like "no way. he is definitely NOT 'king' quality." for some people, that total lack of confidence from one's parent requires years of therapy to heal. i know i would be totally hacked. :)

so here comes david, fresh from the field, smelling of sheep food and sheep crud, standing before samuel, along with his 7 other brothers and his loving father who forgot he existed, awaiting the verdict... "then the LORD said (to samuel), 'rise and anoint him; he is the one.' so samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers'" (you know they were pumped up about watching their scrawny little brother being anointed the next King of Israel. or not.) it goes on to say that "from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power." now, he's not the King of Israel yet. Saul is still in charge but God has made it clear that the Kingdom of Israel is not his for long. if i were him i might be a little paranoid, you know? 1 samuel 16:14 says this "now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him." (i wonder if this was the exact time that the Spirit of the LORD came upon David. could be...) okay, i am not going to even attempt at translating this for you. my Bible commentary says that "perhaps Saul was simply depressed. or perhaps the Holy Spirit had left Saul, and God allowed an evil spirit (a demon) to torment him as judgment for his disobedience (this would demonstrate God's power over the spirit world - 1 kings 22:19-23)" i could sit and attempt to understand the Holy and perfect ways of God but it hurts my brain to do so. what on earth is an evil spirit from the LORD anyway? i tell you what, i'd rather not get to the point of disobedience where i actually find out. this just may be where the "fear of the LORD" comes into play. He is God and He can do whatever He sees fit - it's not for me and my feeble human mind to try to understand it all. and as we will discover with the life of David, there's not a whole heck of a lot that makes "sense" as far as what we may think a true servant of God "should" look like.

tomorrow we'll be getting into Saul's and David's relationship (he actually ends up marrying Saul's daughter - and you thought YOU had problems with the inlaws!) and his fight with this big guy named goliath. i hope you're loving this as much as i am - i'm a huge history buff and one of the main reasons is because you have the advantage of looking back over the years and the centuries and actually seeing God's hand of providence moving and working. it's pretty stinkin awesome. and it gives us hope on days like today (or yesterday, or tomorrow) when everything seems to be falling apart that God is still in control and that we can TRUST HIM with the outcome.

love you girls :) see you tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

my story, part 6 (i think.)

today we're going to talk about the voices in my head. :)

one of my greatest challenges as a follower of Jesus has been my own self-condemning thoughts. i am my own greatest enemy at times. it has taken me a long time to be able to distinguish the voice of reason from the voice of criticism. of course i still struggle but my ability to discern has become fine tuned, refined over the past 10 years. but not without much trial and error.

for me, that was the worst thing about being alone as a new mom. sure i was busy with the baby and shuffling through the mundane every day tasks but at night, when all was still and settled, it was just me and my thoughts. now, i don't know if it's a personality thing, a hormone thing, a chemical imbalance thing but my brain, if i allow it (this is key and we will revisit this in a later post), will run until it starts to smoke and springs start popping out everywhere. :) and inevitably, if i let those unsavory thoughts run rampant for a while, i actually start to believe them. i was convinced that God had made a terrible, awful mistake in giving me a child - it was obviously a massive oversight on His part. and then, in the wake of these ugly thoughts, my mind would start wandering down the road of serious doubt and questioning everything i believed and thought to be true. was i even really saved? how could someone who really loves God even HAVE these thoughts?

over the years i have been completely fascinated with the story of David. more has been written in scripture about this man than Abraham, Joseph and Jacob. in fact, God specifically calls Him "a man after His own heart" (1 samuel 13:13-14) wow. sounds like a pretty impressive dude, huh? for God to have sought him out while looking for a replacement for Saul and, out of ALL the people in Israel (or the world for that matter), he said "yep. this is my guy." he HAS to be perfect, right? i mean, seriously, a man after God's own heart would HAVE to be, wouldn't he? well, let's have a look-see... tomorrow :) we will start to examine David's life and get into the Psalms that show that maybe David wrestled with his thoughts as well. (so it's NOT just me?? sweet!) if you want to get a head start, check out 1 samuel 16 all the way through 2 samuel into his death in 1 kings 2. (oops, total spoiler. he dies at the end. lol)

busy night at church tonight - hubby's working late, my girls invited friends to come with them to church, choir practice preparing for Easter, we leave in 40 mins and i need to scrape something respectable together for dinner :) i'm excited to get into the life of David tomorrow - it is beyond mind-boggling and gives me such hope and encouragement to know that the only man God ever referred to in scripture as being "a man after His own heart" had some MAJOR issues. maybe there's hope for me yet. lol :)

"therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
le us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"

hebrews 12:28-29

love y'all - see you tomorrow :)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

who's ready for vacay?? I AM. :)

i am so fired up to go on vacation, y'all. my girls have been bouncing around the house all day. my youngest was making up dances with lyrics about water slides and having breakfast at cracker barrel and riding with her friends. :) we are going with some sweet friends from church, and it's our first vacation with another family. i don't think the girls will want to come back home with us. we're pretty boring. :) we're only going to be gone for two nights but by the looks of our vehicle, you'd think we were going to be inhabiting a deserted island for a few months. i have snacks, magazines, movies, books, and every electronic device known to man. how on earth did i survive the road trips of my youth without all of the luxuries we have now? oh yeah, i remember... me staring out the window, counting cows, unsuccessfully avoiding my brother's elbows and annoying chatter, listening to the static between the AM stations, and stopping at rest stops along the highway to eat velveeta sandwiches. all, of course, after rising at 3am to "beat the traffic" and driving straight through until someone's bladder nearly exploded or we ran out of gas, whichever came first. :) how did i NOT enjoy that??? lol! we are so blessed these days. which is why i'm looking forward to the destination AND the trip. :)

just to update you too, i had another doctor's appointment this morning and she told me not to submerge my finger at the waterpark (brief synopsis: scleroderma, lack of blood flow, digital ulcer on fingertip, ouchie.) so i have been sequestered to remain poolside for the length of the trip with my kindle and a nice cold drink. (you got me, i added that last part.) i am a little bummed that i won't be able to join in the water festivities but the thought of sitting and relaxing and reading and just vegging out is absolutely scrumptious sounding right now. :) i love my kids, i truly truly do, but do you ever have those days where you cannot bear to hear one more syllable come out of their mouths? they have chattered on ALL. DAY. LONG. and your brain will most likely start to leak out your ears if you hear "mooooommmmmm???" one more time... yep. that's today. in fact, as i type my oldest is scrounging through my bathroom drawer for an extra toothbrush, yelling (nicely, i might add, but loudly nonetheless) to her sister "i found one!" then asking me if she can use my toothpaste (like it's ever stopped her before) little sister is yelling down the stairs to her dad that we saw her 3rd grade teacher at target and for some crazy reason they are both singing excerpts from the sheryl crow song "if it's makes you happy". i love them. but i'm ready for vacay. :)

i will try my best to post something of worth over the next few days but i can't promise you much :) i'm looking forward to making more fun memories with my goofy family over the next few days. i wouldn't trade them for the WORLD. God knew what He was doing when He gave me these gifts. i'm a happy, blessed girl :)

love you mamas (and non-mamas, right george??) every time you comment, every time God brings you to mind, i whisper a prayer for you and thank Him for your encouragement and your friendship. i am utterly and thoroughly blown away by the wisdom that is always given back to me through all of you. i love you and, if you are reading these very words, am so thankful that you've taken a bit of your insanely busy day to share with me and the others here. may you be blessed, sweet friends!

"if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and in purpose. do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

phil 2:1-4

let's take care of each other, sweet friends. lifting you up in prayer tonight.


Monday, March 28, 2011

rough day.

let's see... where to start. first of all, i warned you at the beginning that this was a blog about moms who have dealt with, or ARE dealing with, postpartum and/or ongoing depression (in addition to many other various and sundry things.) and it is my goal to be completely transparent (well, ok not COMPLETELY - that could get downright scary. lol) so, all that said, today has been a struggle. not a total loss but harder than some. a down-in-the-dumps sort of day, if you will. i can feel the beginnings of a nice-sized pity party just starting up in my brain. invitations are going out, the caterers have been called, streamers, balloons, the whole nine yards... ORRRRRR, i could opt for a smaller, more intimate affair and not have a big blowout of a pity party. maybe just me and the Lord and my keyboard and i'll call it a night. :)

so back to this morning, i am preparing to sit down and blog a little. my Bible open and ready, some ideas bopping around in my brain, and me with some time on my hands :) so what do i do first? i check facebook. here's my issue with facebook - i don't believe it's truly evil. i have been reunited with friends from years past that i would have NEVER been in communication with had it not been for facebook. i have been encouraged GREATLY by people in one way or another and it's caused some friendships to blossom that may not have otherwise. however, for me personally, it can also be a source of extreme insecurity if i'm not careful.

so i'm puttering around on facebook and i see a couple links posted by friends - their favorite christian author's blog, a friend's blog, another amazing Godly woman's blog and then that creepy little voice starts rattling in my head. (i can't stand that voice) "wow. these women are awesome. i mean, they're really REALLY good. there are SO MANY amazing writers, amazing women out there. what the heck am i doing just adding another blog to the mix? what's the point?" i was discouraged. i clicked on a link that led me to another link of another website and their amazing stories and i was overwhelmed by just how much wisdom and talent and really cool stuff was out there. again i hear "i mean seriously, what ARE you doing? God doesn't need you doing this - it's been covered. it's been addressed. just move on."

so i prayed that God would continue to reveal to me His perfect plan and will. that He would be gracious unto me and direct my paths in the way i should go. after all, i really only EVER want to be smack in the middle of His plan for me. and then i felt a still, small voice speaking directly to my heart, completely bypassing the chaos in my mind, "minister where I've put you." huh. you see, i'm the type of person who likes to dream big. i can fancy up all kinds of grandiose visions in my head of where things COULD go and what MIGHT happen and that's not all-together bad. but sometimes it distracts us (well, me, for sure) from the here-and-now. today's ministry. today's trials and triumphs. what does He want from me TODAY?

"but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. each day has enough trouble of it's own."

Jesus' words in matthew 6:33-34

i spent a good portion of the day today feeling highly inadequate and wholly unqualified. in my bible study right now we are looking at moses and the relationship he had with God Almighty. it was very intimate and they talked to each other as friends. when God called moses to lead the israelites out of egypt he was a sheep farmer. a sheep farmer! a lowly, unassuming, regular old sheep farmer, working for his father-in-law. (he was NOT charlton heston by any stretch of the imagination. lol) we've all heard about the burning bush and God appearing before moses, telling him to take his sandals off, and moses hiding his face. but i just love moses' response to the God of the Universe saying "now, go. bring my people the israelites out of egypt." moses' response, much like mine, was "but who am i?" God responds "i will be with you" moses then brings up "well, suppose i go to them and they ask me what your name is?" (paraphrased of course) and God says "I AM WHO I AM" (kid you not, just got chills. it is a name that DEMANDS reverence. our YAHWEH. the great I AM.) you would THINK that would be enough for moses, but no... he God asks again "but what if they don't believe me or listen to me? what then?" it's enough to make me want to yell at my Bible "you're standing in front of a bush that is SPEAKING TO YOU. IT IS THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB. TRUST HIM! JUST STINKIN DO WHAT HE SAYS!" :) and then, even as i dare to think the thoughts, God graciously reminds me that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and maybe i should take my own advice. wow.

i am insecure. i am unqualified. i'm not even sure some days i know what i'm talking about. :) but i have a God who is more than able.

"trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will do this;
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him..."

psalm 37:3-7

in conclusion, i will trust His plan for me. i want to delight in Him (not His hand, not just His blessings, in HIM) and commit my way to the Lord. and then i need to BE STILL. man, that's tough. so often, i want to DO, i want results, i want to KNOW i'm making a difference! but He calls me to be still and wait patiently and, with His help, i will try. :) i may not have it all together and yes, there are SO MANY more women out there who are WAY more qualified to do what i'm doing but i want to stay faithful to what i believe He's called me to here and now, in my little corner of the planet. and i cannot tell you how thankful i am that you're along for the ride :)

you know what?? i didn't even get to the crummiest part of my day - being pulled over by a state trooper for not stopping completely at a stop sign! and now, i don't even care! pppptthhh! so THERE, stinky little voice in my head! i'm ignoring you now! :) (yes, my fingers are in my ears. lol)

love you girls - blessings on you and your precious families as you put them to bed, kiss their sweet faces and thank Him for the opportunity to care for the most amazing little humans you ever did see. have a wonderful week :)


Saturday, March 26, 2011

we have a winner!

congratulations tami nantz!!!! :)

i have to tell you about this girl. she and i have never ever met in person but it feels like i've known her forever. :) we met after i commented on the blog that she started prior to the 2008 presidential election "moms for sarah palin" (now i don't know what your political leanings are or what your personal feelings may be towards sarah palin but i love her - i don't necessarily think she's ready to be our next president but i think she's a phenomenal woman and amazing mom! hopping off the soapbox now. lol) so anyway, tami responded back to me, we struck up a friendship, and she even let me post on the blog a couple times! i almost flew out to meet her when she was being featured in an interview by CNN (yep, CNN.) on her blog and conservative women's role in the election, but i couldn't. (darn kids and all.) i just KNOW that we WILL meet some day and if not HERE then maybe our mansions can be near each other in Heaven. (or washington, d.c. - whichever comes first! lol!!) PLEASE check out her blog if you are conservatively inclined :) (or even if you're not - Lord knows we had plenty with opposing views chime in on the blog, didn't we tami? sheesh...) i've added tami's blog in my list of favorite links because apparently i don't know how to add it to the body of this post. (hi. i'm new here.)

and if you hadn't noticed, i added a little 1985 to the playlist :) since it's officially spring break and all i decided we needed the gogos to help usher in the festivities :) especially since i slept like crap last night, i've been up watching infomercials and "intervention" since 4:15am and now i'm eating doughnuts - i've gained approximately 12 lbs in the last 27 minutes and my keyboard is smattered with powdered sugar. if that doesn't scream SPRING BREAK i don't know what does. :/

love you girls! (and guys, right george??) have a wonderful weekend - i do plan on bouncing back by 2pm or so today :) maybe i'll have an apple. do a lunge or two. get dressed. something exciting like that. :)

congrats tami!! send me your address, dear one so i can get this cute necklace sent off to you. before i forget and start wearing it around town. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

jen's favorite friday giveaway!!! i remembered!! :)

aren't you proud of me??? i am very proud of me. :) i tell you what, i love me a good accessory. there's no label screaming a size at you, they are generally sparkly and pretty and always draw a compliment (something we all need some days to keep us going. lol) today's giveaway is from my sweet friend, mary beth gerth, who is a Lia Sophia representative in NW indiana. i had never heard of this company before moving up here but it is a home based business like Pampered Chef, 31 Gifts, etc. and they have some terribly cute stuff :) mary beth is just getting started in her business and i absolutely LOVE to help promote other moms and their businesses - true proverbs 31 women being productive and all that! :) i will attempt to link up her website to my blog on the right (i feel like i should be wearing a cape and a top hat saying "and for my NEXT trick i will attempt...!!" who knows if the trick will work or not. lol) and i encourage you all to click on it and check it out! here's the super cute necklace she's donated...

mary beth said you could wear it long (2nd picture) or double it up (1st picture) or wear it as a cute belt (anything highlighting my midsection just AIN'T happening, sisters...) or a bracelet or a bookmark or a headband or WHATEVER! (ok, i added those last few, she didn't suggest them. lol) she is also GENEROUSLY donating a $10 gift certificate good towards your next Lia Sophia purchase!!! love it! thank you SO MUCH mary beth! let's give her a hand!!!

(you there. i see you. clap, i said! lol)

this friday marks the beginning of spring break for us up here! and this next week our HIGHS are only in the 30s! that's. awesome. (i tell you what, mother nature, good thing i don't believe in you cause i would hunt you down and HURT you. i know you're a mother and all but seriously... this is ridonkulous.)

while i'm thinking about it too... just want to give a quick shout out to all the working outside the home moms who may be reading this. i spent last year as a working mom and, i'm telling you, it is TOUGH. there is so much more guilt and stress that swirls around the working mom and we need to encourage and love on those moms all the more. i know we could get into semantics about the circumstances surrounding our choices, etc. but i KNOW that ALL MOMS, working or not, make their choices specifically for the good and the LOVE of their babies and their families. let's not judge each other - there's plenty in my life you could pick apart, i promise you. hang in there, working outside of the home moms. :) praying for you specifically today that God would give you a renewed energy and strength for the day, that you would not allow the guilt to creep in and that He would grant you the opportunity to soak in some sweet memories with your babies this weekend (or whenever you're home with them next.) love you ALL so much :)

so get to commenting!!! click on the comments link below (you may need to sign up for a google account or something. don't be afraid. you can do this.) and leave me something short and sweet (as opposed to drawn out and ugly. lol)

enjoy your friday and remember to thank God for all His many blessings today, soooo many more than we'll ever deserve :)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

let's talk about anger. (yay.)

i want to start off by calling attention to the music you are probably listening to right now (from the playlist above this post) unless you have turned it off which is perfectly fine, i gave you that option. don't feel bad. :) one of my favorite groups right now is "mumford and sons" - yes, a SECULAR band. (whatever that means) many of their songs speak right to my soul and encourage me spiritually. was that their intent when writing them? who knows. but for me, they evoke emotion like some "christian" bands never have. why is that? and then they have one song that has made it to mainstream radio that has a bad word in it. so bad they have to bleep it out on mainstream radio. so what does THAT mean? that they're NOT saved? that they CAN'T minister to me? granted, i do skip that song most of the time because i don't use that word in my daily vocabulary but does the use of that ONE word negate their ability to speak to me? many of their songs have strong spiritual connotations. "roll away your stone" is one of my faves and it speaks of the prodigal son coming home and grace "it's not the long walk home that will change this heart, but the welcome i receive with a restart" how awesome is that? or is it ME who has grown calloused to the things of this world by not letting that ONE word deter me from listening to them? i would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one, girls. i have tossed it around plenty in my head, i'm ready to pass it off to you. :)

ok. so today i want to discuss another emotion that seemingly crept on me and smacked me upside the head after pregnancy. ANGER. i am so not an angry person. i never really have been. not even in the quiet recesses of my mind, there never has been any festering, brewing animosity. insecurity? sure. absentmindedness? absolutely. but anger? not really. my whole life i moved from town to town, state to state, a constant cycle of new girl trying to prove worthy of your established group of friends... i had been bullied, threatened, and betrayed, but through it all remained fairly true to myself. of course, it bothered me but i don't ever recall laying on my bed at night, crying out to God, feelings of anger and retribution spilling out. i was ok. i had always been blessed with amazing friends wherever i went which certainly took the sting out of the ugly times (many of whom i am still friends with to this day - thanks God and facebook! lol) seriously though... it wasn't until i had my first child that i began to discover the ugliness that lay dormant in my heart. it shocked the heck out of me. i had no idea where it was coming from and what to do with it. why was i MAD at my helpless, tiny infant? why was i furious with my husband for leaving me alone to fend for myself and our child? (ok, he didn't REALLY but that's what my icky emotions were leading me to believe...) i was mad when people offered to help (what?? you think i can't do this myself??) and i was mad when they DIDN'T offer to help (well, i guess i see how much i mean to them. whatever...) i was SUPER mad that i couldn't go out to dinner and enjoy a meal (i guess i'll NEVER get to eat out again. NEVER EVER. *sigh*) oh wow... i chuckle as i read this because i see now how ABSURD those feelings were. but at the time they were heavy and all-encompassing. i was trapped. i was bitter. i was MAD.

i can't even remember the specific circumstances surrounding this one particular breakdown (are they ever based on anything of substance anyway? not so much. lol) but i do remember the grand finale... me, face down on my tiny (crumby and filthy, i might add) kitchen floor, screaming, literally pounding the floor with my fists (sooo cliched, i know) and crying out to God. i was SO MAD. about what? who knows. everything, all of it, none of it, me, him, her, who knows. i just remember distinctly thinking after several minutes of carrying on, as i peeled myself off the floor (literally. it was sticky, too. lol), "what is WRONG with me?" and then just sitting there in stunned silence. did i have a moment of divine revelation right then? did the Heavens open, releasing a tiny white dove that lighted upon my windowsill? did the phone ring with a friend i hadn't heard from in years who had a verse for me? nope. sometimes those things do happen, because God loves giving good gifts to His children and He loves surprising us and reminding us He hears our every word, every whimper. but what about when it doesn't happen? does that mean He's NOT listening? that He says "oh, i'm sorry, what was that again? i was talking to Gabriel." no way.

"why do you say, o jacob (or jen),
and complain, o israel (insert your name here),
'my way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God?'
do you not know?
have you not heard?
the LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak."

isaiah 40:27-29

He WAS there. He WAS listening. and though there were no blazing lights, pillars of smoke and fire, or burning bushes, He was right there with me. His mighty arms, the very same ones that formed the universe and all that is in it, were enveloping me the entire time. the Holy Sovereign God had me curled up on His lap on that gross kitchen floor, whispering imperceptibly His love and affection to my heart. and you know how i know that? (because i sure didn't see it that day) i went on. i carried on. i SURVIVED. i continued on with my day, i cared for my child, i maintained my home (i may have cleaned the kitchen floor but i highly doubt it.) and i LIVED. so many times we wait for our emotions to catch up with us before we take action. sisters (and brothers, right george??) we cannot be led by our emotions. we MUST be led by our unwavering belief in a God who loves us, cares for us, and SEES us, even when we don't FEEL it. one step at a time, entrusting each one to His goodness, CARRY ON.

"the LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
the Lord protects the simplehearted;
when i was in great need, He saved me.
be at rest once more, o my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
for You, o LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that i may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living."

psalm 116:5-9

so let's keep walking today, sweet friends. KNOWING He is full of compassion and He protects the simplehearted. He has not abandoned you, do not allow your feelings to tell you that - it simply is NOT true. if you need to, throw a holy fit in front of the LORD. just let it ALL out - He sees it in there anyway - He just wants His children to come to Him with it, to give up the pretenses, to tell it like it is. TRUST Him with it. praying for you all RIGHT NOW, that He would bestow upon you a spirit of encouragement and peace today, that he would renew your strength as an eagles, and that you would have the supernatural courage TODAY to carry on. love you, friends...


Monday, March 21, 2011

my story, part 5

isn't it interesting how your memory works? how you can recall some instances with vivid detail, the scents and the sounds, while there are some that even when your memory is jogged by people describing specific scenarios, and you KNOW you were there, but you simply CANNOT, for the life of you, remember it?? sometimes i feel like my brain is a black hole for information to be sucked in and die a slow death. i'm convinced that pregnancy converts brain cells to fat cells, never to return to their original state. :/ so here i am, attempting to piece together the play-by-play for this season in life and there are some things i can recall quite easily and some that have just been lost forever :) welcome to my world... lol

my hubby left for training on may 30, 2000. i know that was the exact date because it was also my father's 50th birthday and we had a party for him at my parents' house. yayyyyy. don't get me wrong - i love my dad - just wasn't in the mood for celebrating. graciously, little-one decided to start sleeping through the night just days before his departure so i was beginning to feel some return to "normalcy" (really? what is that? sheesh...) i have been trying to recall how exactly my hubby got to the airport for his flight out to georgia... but i can't remember. he was going to be in georgia (FLETC) for 3 months and then be home for a week and then continue his training outside of washington, d.c. with his graduation in november. i stayed a couple of nights at my parents' house and then went back to a lonely little 2 bedroom apartment with my 7 week old baby. we were living about 45 mins from my parents at the time which was a blessing and a curse :) being the fiercely independent first-born child i was (and am!) i wanted to do it all by myself. i didn't need any help! i got this thing! :) yeah right...

the thing i most remember from this time of my life was the loneliness and all the things i tried unsuccessfully to fill it up. i had joined a mom's group at my home church, "houston's first baptist church", and had the support of several amazing Godly women available to me. but the strength that i had gained through my prayer times and meeting times with them seemed completely sapped by the time i got home and was faced with the silence and reality of being left with myself, my emotions, and my insecurities... one of my main comforts was food. seeing as how it was just me and my little baby, there was no one to whom i was accountable. no one to share anything with. no one to hide anything from. it was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. i had the freedom to inhale whatever i wanted, at any time i wanted, and so i did. i dare say the drive-in staff at the "jack in the box", mcdonalds, and dairy queen were all too familiar with me :/ but who was gonna stop me? my daughter was not yet old enough to know what was going on in the front seat while her mother stuffed french fry after french fry in her mouth while driving one-handed back to the apartment, only to settle in on the living room couch, burger in hand, pseudo-peace in heart, quiet voice in head silenced by the incessant chewing. i knew it wasn't right. i KNEW it wasn't healthy - for my body, my heart OR my mind. all those post-pregnancy clothes i bought to wear "until i got my pre-pregnancy body back" were growing tighter and tighter. elastic was my friend and my greatest enemy. it allowed me to rationalize away the fact that i was nowhere near where i wanted to be. i remember getting a call from my now sis-in-law's wedding planner asking for my dress size for my brother's wedding, in which i was a bridesmaid (bridesmatron?) and i say laughingly "well, i'll say X, just to be safe, but i'll be smaller by then so we can have it taken in if we need to, right?" wouldn't you know, it was tight. :/ in a desperate attempt to feel better about myself, i decided, right before a visit to go see david in georgia, to get my hair done. i went to the salon and told her i wanted something fun, short, and funky. when she asked about color i said "something sassy - maybe red?" oh my word. when she got done i looked like a cross between bozo the clown and his chunky side-kick, cookie. it was like i went in there and said "i'd like you to give me a short cut that makes me look like a big fat clown and a color that really accentuates my nice, round face." it was TERRIBLE. and it made me feel yuckier. and so i ate more. i tried to camouflage it all with baggy clothes and overalls (because with overalls, you never know what lies underneath. i COULD have a ripped-to-shreds 6-pack and i'm simply trying not to show it off. you NEVER know.). i'll never forget my sweet paternal grandparents coming to visit that summer, to meet makenna for the first time and upon seeing me my grandfather says "jeni! looks like you've been doing a little too much of this!" (making fork from plate to mouth motions) and i say "grandpa! i just had a baby!" to which he replied "three months ago!" i laughed. he laughed. we all laughed. but you know what the saddest part was? he was right. HE WAS RIGHT. there was no denying that. i was out of control and my sweet grandpa, albeit demeaning and humiliating at the time, called me out on it.

food has always been a stronghold for me. it can comfort you instantly, simultaneously satisfy your taste buds and your loneliness, make you feel good. but as with all sin, the effects are short-lived and the consequences far-reaching. the guilt, shame, and disgust that followed were nearly unbearable. so it led me to eat again. and the vicious, vicious cycle continues on...

"when i want to do good, evil is right there with me. for in my inner being i delight in God's law; but i see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. what a wretched woman i am! who will rescue me from this body of death? thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" romans 8:21-25
(again, i added woman instead of man. just so you know.)

i really could go on and on about the food issue. i still struggle but i am MUCH better. first and foremost, because it has forced me to seek God's face and whenever we do that, faithfully and wholeheartedly, He will ALWAYS show up. i have matured since then, but that's not to say i don't still struggle on a daily basis. but i don't give in nearly as often as i used to. i make the choice every day to pursue righteousness, fidelity, and HEALTH. not to be perfect. but to love myself and my Jesus and to want BETTER for me and my sweet family. to NOT pass on to my girls the generational sins of eating disorders and self-loathing due to unmet expectations placed on us by loved ones and ourselves. the realization that i am loved by the holy God of Israel, and we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 peter 2:9) that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. and above all to "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, FOR THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU in Christ Jesus" (1 thess. 5:16-18, emphasis mine) we were not created to live a life of bondage and defeat!! claim VICTORY in Him!! i am praying for you, sweet sisters. just lay it all at His feet and be honest and real with Him. He sees it all anyway - there is nothing hidden from Him. Christ's death on the cross was just for this purpose - to provide a way for us to His Father in Heaven and to overcome this world and all the filth in it. let's stop wallowing in guilt and heavy shame and start living as those in the light.

two books i LOVE, that have made a tremendous impact on me and my relationship with food are "Weigh Down Diet" by gwen shamblin and "Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food" by lysa terkeurst. in addition to the Holy Scriptures, these books will help motivate and encourage your mind, so much more so than that box of twinkies hollering your name from the pantry shelf. believe me, they're calling my name, too. just talk back to them. i'm serious! it's a little psychotic sounding, and i recommend doing it when it's just you and the offending mouthy snack food, but tell it back "you have done NOTHING for me but make me unhappy and fat and sad and miserable. you're going in the trash right now, mister!!" :) do it! you will feel so much better :)

love you girls - will continue with my story and the other struggles i had to wrestle in my desert of loneliness on another day. together, let's try today, whenever we feel the weakness of heart and strength of temptation, to drop to our knees (literally or figuratively) and place it all at the foot of the cross. it's all part of the pruning process. let's get rid of some of that dead weight. (yep, i fully intended that pun.) :)