Monday, February 28, 2011

my story, part 3

*brief disclaimer*

before i start part 3 i feel i need to explain something. my hubby has asked that i not divulge the details regarding his employment or what he does for a living. trust me, i tried to convince him that it's not THAT big a deal but he has insisted on anonymity and being the submissive wife i am (ok, well i TRY to be. sometimes... lol) i have to honor his request. so if i seem like i am being a little vague it's because i am being a little vague. :) here's part 3...

so he begins the application process. remember, we didn't tell anyone what we were doing - this was just for funsies. to see how far he'd go. for the experience of interviewing, all that fun stuff. well, he got called back for a 2nd interview! and a 3rd and a 4th... and we start thinking, my goodness... this MIGHT actually happen. :) all the while, we are nearing my due date, trying to prepare for that as well (ha! can you ever REALLY prepare for your firstborn?? hardly.), lining up child care (cause there was no way i couldn't work if david didn't get this job) and making our little apartment as cozy as could be...

do you girls love birth stories? i just love watching "a baby story" and "bringing home baby" on TLC - it's always interesting to me to see how God chooses to bring each little miracle into the world :) so if you don't like them, you may want to skip this paragraph. my due date was april 16th so i was counting down the days with excitement and a little trepidation. april 8th we spent the day with my parents and came home late afternoon. i was feeling decent and started up some dinner. went to sit on the couch while the oven was heating and when i sat i thought "hmmm. that felt weird." :) my water broke! (ok, if you are a guy who happens to be reading this, don't worry - i'm not gonna get all gory and graphic on ya. but i did warn you this was a birth story. lol) so we hopped in the truck and drove to the hospital. upon arrival, i was almost hit in the head with a flying soda can because there was a fight in the ER waiting room. what are the odds? lol thankfully i made it to my room unscathed and got the process rolling... i hadn't started any contractions yet so they got some pitocin into me. i remember the nurse saying "would you like me to call the anesthesiologist for you?" and me saying "oh no. i'm fine. these aren't too bad." hello. ladies. a little tip here - if they start you on the pitocin, call the anesthesiologist, like, YESTERDAY. i will never forget david's sweet aunt judy standing by my bedside, chatting with me, when all of a sudden judy went a little fuzzy and started talking in slow motion. :) judy: "are you ok?" me: "umm hi, nurse? could you call that anesthesiologist now? thanks hun." thankfully, he made haste and all was right with the world again. we had TONS of friends and family members at the hospital and we were all really excited. i was progressing rather quickly when finally those blessed words were said "you're a ten!" yes! let's do this thing! i didn't have to push for long but i do remember at one point telling my doctor that i felt like my eyes were going to pop out. she says, quite calmly "well, i've never had that happen before..." ok phew. and then, at 3:36 am, april 9th, my entire world changed. my precious firstborn, a perfectly healthy baby girl was placed in my arms and i was a different person, a new woman, a MOM. i had always wanted to be a mom. when people asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up i would say "a singer or a mom" :) i loved kids, loved babysitting, loved being a camp counselor, i was MADE for this. i knew that there were 2 things referred to in the Bible as being gifts from God. one is salvation, the other being children. and now i was so blessed to have been the recipient of both. i was overjoyed.

i couldn't sleep the rest of the night and was so excited to spend time with my sweet girl. she seemed to be nursing well and we snuggled and napped for the next couple days. i remember when the nurses would come in at night to wake me up to nurse my baby i would be giddy with excitement, i could not get enough of her! her perfect little fingers and toes, her gorgeous little face, i was in awe and in love. :) after our daughter was born, hubby called the office of the agency to which he had applied to let them know that she was here. they offered congratulations and well-wishes and asked if we would be available for an in-home interview on tuesday. mind you, i had my baby in the wee hours of saturday morning. tuesday was only 3 days away! so we said "sure!" oh boy...

one of the things i most remember about preparing to go home was putting on, or should i say unsuccessfully attempting to put on, my going home outfit. i had bought some "really big" clothes prior to the delivery so i would be ready to go home in something different and cute. oh. my. word. SO NOT CUTE. i honestly have no idea WHAT i was thinking. that the 54 lbs i had gained were mostly baby weight?? that i was about to give birth to a 27 pound infant?? ugh. so i got to put on the same dadgum clothes i showed up at the hospital in. (listen, i know that sentence isn't grammatically correct and that bugs me but i'm too tired to figure it out right now. lol) we made it home and i distinctly remember setting down my daughter's car seat, with her in it, and just looking at her thinking "what the heck do i do now?" :)

and so, since this is getting long, my head hurts and i have lost all function in my olfactory system, i will draw this to a close. and while i'm thinking about it, i hope it's okay with you girls that i don't have some major spiritual epiphany to share with you every day :) just know that you are doing an amazing job, mom. those endless piles of laundry, snotty noses, and uneaten, unappreciated meals will all pay off some day. and if today wasn't a good one for you, rest assured tomorrow is a whole new beginning.

"let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for i have put my trust in You.
show me the way i should go,
for to you i lift up my soul." psalm 143:8


Saturday, February 26, 2011

and the winner is....

ALISHA HUGHES!!! :) i am just thrilled that you get to experience a little bit of texas homecooking in the midst of our yucky midwestern winter :/

our results were tabulated by the website - i put in the total number of comments and it chose one quite randomly for me :) no favorites here, my friends! (no offense, alisha. you might be my favorite. don't tell the others...) :)

enjoy your saturday! my sweet family and i are taking a field trip to chick-fil-a (the closest one is an HOUR away - i know right?! it's a travesty i tell ya...) and our monthly jaunt to trader joe's! love that place!! i look forward to settling in later today to get "part 3" on the blog. love you girls!


Friday, February 25, 2011

jen's favorite things friday!!!!

oh my gravy, i am sooo excited about this! my first big giveaway! :) you will absolutely LOVE today's favorite thing. when hubby and i were first married i worked for a fabulous little cafe in round top, tx named "Royer's Cafe". it is located between houston and austin and only seats about 40 people at a time but it attracts folks from all over texas and the country with their incredible food, fabulous atmosphere, and most delicious PIES. they've been featured on the food network and in numerous magazines and publications and LUCKY YOU, if you are randomly chosen from the list of people who leave me a comment today you will get to enjoy your very own Royer's pie, delivered to your front door! they are famous for bud's chocolate chip pie which is best served warm with blue bell vanilla ice cream (those of you not from texas aren't aware of the power of the blue bell. it is awesome.) special thanks to my sweet friend, tara royer steele, for helping me out with this! love you mama! :)

so get after it girls! leave me your comment (yes "hi" counts as a comment. lol) there is nothing like putting the kiddie kats down for a nap and indulging in a nice warm piece of pie. chocolate chip pie, no less. with ice cream... mmmmmmmmmm... that's it, i'm commenting on my own post, darn it. check back in tomorrow for the winner's name! and then we will figure out how to get it to you. i will probably have you email me at the blog email address. ok, now i'm just thinking out loud and typing what i'm thinking... :)

have a fabulous friday!! love you girls!! can't wait to see who gets the prize!! and check out royer's website - they've got all kinds of fun stuff and maybe you can order your own pie if you don't win this time :)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

my story, part 2

ok, soooo we left off with me sitting on the couch with a warm box of donuts. nice. the few weeks that followed were tough - hubby wasn't allowed to call me at all and this was waaaayyyy before texting and facebook. (how ever did we communicate back then?? smoke signal? carrier pigeon?)

i busied myself with work and friends and was really getting excited about the prospect of moving to quantico in a matter of weeks. i had joined a couple military wives' message boards and started mapping out the driving route we would take to get there. i had given notice at work that we would be leaving late november so they set out to find a replacement for me. and that's when things started to get kinda nutty... :)

have you ever felt so strongly that God was calling you to move in a certain direction? doors have opened, challenges seem completely surmountable, peace in the heart, the whole deal? that was how we felt above this move - that God was allowing my hubby the opportunity to follow a dream, that, despite a surprise pregnancy, God would provide beyond our human expectations. and then came the phone call that tore a hole clean through my tidy, little bundle of dreams... i was at my parents' house and my hubby's dad called me. if you know poppy, you know he doesn't call to chitty chat a whole lot (and the proverbial acorn has not fallen far from the tree. lol) honestly, i can't even remember how the conversation started - small talk or what not - but i do remember the one sentence that conjured up all kinds of emotion... "david's coming home tonight." wait... WHAT?? tonight?? he explained how he had dislocated his shoulder during training and, due to the nature of the injury, they were going to release him from the program immediately. he needed surgery and would be able to go back and try again in a year. A YEAR?? was he okay? what were we gonna do? what about the baby?? in one fell swoop we were back to square one. or like square -12. so, in an attempt to piece back together what little hope i had left i think, ok i'll call work and let them know i'm staying. at least one of us will be working. i will never forget the sadness in my office manager's voice when she revealed to me that they had JUST offered my position to another lady THAT VERY DAY and they could not retract the offer now. so there i sat, emotionally spent and quite hormonal, on the guest room bed at my parents' house and cried. and cried and cried. and then i cried some more. a few muffled "WHHYYYYYY?? WHHYYYYYY??"s into a tear-soaked pillow and i was at a complete loss. how could we have been SO SURE that this was God's plan for us? how could we have felt such confidence that this big faith step of ours would be blessed? what WAS that? WHO was that?? i didn't know it at the time but now, looking back on the unfinished tapestry, i can totally see how this has worked for the good (romans 8:28) but did it provide much comfort then? not really. did it feel like i was being punished? absolutely. being the people pleaser i am, i often associated God's favor with my performance. i equated blessings with His approval, trials with His disappointment in me. thankfully, that is not the case. His love for me is unchanging, unfailing. period.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." psalm 91:14

did these scriptures echo in my head as i lay there sobbing? i sure wish they had. but you know how sometimes you're just not ready to ingest the lesson yet? to take in the truth? not responsive to the well-meaning words of others offering comfort and support? that's how i was. i KNEW God had a plan for me and my life. i knew that in my heart of hearts but my flesh was suggesting we had just been left out to dry. to flail around a bit in the unknown. i was confused and afraid. and jobless. and pregnant. awesome.

so home he came. i will never forget picking my dear hubby up at the airport, with his freshly shorn head, about 20 lbs lighter, arm in a sling and tears in his eyes, walking towards me, defeated. we hugged (well, he tried at least) and held each other and cried there in the walkway, oblivious to fellow travelers. i had never seen my husband in such a state and it broke my heart. we took comfort in each other and in our sweet families and puttered through the next few days kinda glassy-eyed. hubby had his surgery to repair his shoulder and i made every effort to nurse him back to health, although i knew he was still cut fresh open on the inside. in the weeks that followed, we sought solace in the fact that God is good and held our future in His hands. i was blessed to be hired by a wonderful family friend, to whom i am forever indebted, in an awesome position on the texas A&M campus (whoop!) and hubby decided to go to grad school while being employed part-time in the admissions office at the university. we were plugging along, the pregnancy was going well, i was feeling great, and then hubby comes home one day and says "i really feel like God wants me to pursue a certain job. i'm just going to apply and we'll see how far i get." we thought it would be an interesting process and didn't tell anyone our plans. we just wanted to wait to see what would happen. well, guess what! things happened. :) more to come in part 3.

i want to leave you girls today with this... no matter what you're going through at this very moment, rest assured your Heavenly Father sees and hears and KNOWS. do not allow those stinky emotions to have full reign over your thought-life like i did for so so long. go to His Word, meditate on the TRUTH, let Him love on you a little bit.

"The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing." zephaniah 3:17

my word, i love that image. close your eyes now and bask in that delicious thought... not only will He NEVER leave you but He actually DELIGHTS in you, sweet friend, and is singing His song of salvation over you. i love you girls and am so honored to journey with you. praying for you and your sweet families today...


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

my story, part 1

ok, for those of you who know me, or have attempted to carry on a simple conversation with me, you will find it not at all surprising that i have started writing this post about 14 times in the past hour and have gotten distracted every dadgum time. i PROMISE you i have adult a.d.d. (in fact, dr. phil diagnosed me a few years ago - he is not aware that he did but he did. lol) and i live my life wandering a series of rabbit trails... some call it mommy brain, but i'm convinced that pregnancy converts brain cells to fat cells, never again to return to their original state. :) so bear with me, dear friends. who knows where we're going to end up. :)

to say that my first pregnancy was a surprise could qualify as the understatement of 1999. you know when you're filling out the cute little baby books and they ask you to write down your first response to being pregnant? let's just say it had to be censored. ok, i didn't actually write it in there, that would be tacky, but there were a few choice words that popped into that little conversation bubble hanging over my head. :) let me give you a brief history of the few months or so preceding this exciting time in our lives... david and i met, married and wed within 9 months - in may of 1997. we were both 22 years old. he was still finishing up school at texas A&M (whoop!) and i had gotten a job waiting tables at a most wonderful little cafe. we were poor as dirt but happy as clams. fast forward a couple years and we are both working full-time at the University (texas A&M - stay with me here... lol) and my darling husband feels led to pursue his passion for adventure and love for country and apply for officer's candidate school with the marine corps in quantico, virginia. i wholeheartedly supported him, even though it would mean moving cross-country and being a military wife. i was actually really excited about the prospect. so david went through the application process and, not surprisingly at all, was accepted to OCS. we were thrilled. a couple days later i had been feeling a little funny and thought, just to rule it out, i would take a pregnancy test. just to rule it out. sure. and guess what?? that sucker was positive. :) (cue the tacky bubble words...)

as my trembling hand turned the locked bathroom doorknob i attempted to piece together a coherent sentence. FAIL. i just started crying and waving the little plastic wand around in front of me. my aforementioned darling husband approached me and gave me a comforting hug and offered to not go to candidates school. but i knew, even in that terrifying, life-altering moment, that God had a plan for us and myrole, as a helpmate and support for my husband, would be to carry on no matter where we were, whether in texas or virginia or wherever else the Lord would lead us. that heart-felt decision has served me well over the past 14 years, though not without struggle or serious pouting at times. :) (submission ain't easy, girls. but it's NECESSARY.)

so early one dark september morning, bloated belly and husband in tow, we drove to the airport to send david off for a 12 week training course. i would not be able to even speak with him for over 3 weeks, such was the intensity of the course. i was nervous, anxious, so sad, yet confident and incredibly proud of him for following his heart and his God into the unknown. we said goodbye well before daybreak and i drove away in silence. but not without stopping by shipley's donuts first for a few hot, fresh glazed donuts to assuage the pain. (you texas girls know what i'm talking about! more on food addiction in future posts - definitely a stronghold in my life at one time, rearing it's ugly head when i was feeling alone...) i sat on my couch, sniffling and snotting, munching and moping, feeling really crummy and FAT and i wish i could tell you i had this major epiphany and felt wrapped in God's love and all that but i didn't. all i felt was alone and really, really sad. but this has been one of the greatest lessons i have learned in the past 11 years. that my emotions do not dictate, nor do they determine, God's love and affection for me. His love transcends my moodiness, my fickleness, my stupid choices. (and boy, can they be DUMB.) He does not change like shifting shadows (james 1:17) He created my inmost being and ordained every day of my life before one of them came to be (psalm 139) He saw me, sitting there in silence on my couch, wallowing in my sadness and the warm, sweet glaze of a comforting "friend", and He loved me still. He didn't huff away in disgust as i whined. He didn't roll His eyes in frustration as i whimpered away. He just stayed. remained steadfast. and flat out loved me silly.

"if I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light will become night around me,'
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You." Psalm 139:11-12

see? this is why this was labeled "part 1" :) we're only about 8 weeks into my pregnancy and i've already gotta stop to go help with homework. lol by the way, am i the only one who is challenged by 5th grade math?? sheesh. come back tomorrow for the next installment - one that includes my husband's career-shifting injury, both of us jobless, with a baby on the way. good times, my friends, good times... :) i love y'all - if you are reading this, you are wholeheartedly appreciated and prayed for today.


Monday, February 21, 2011

free stuff? yes, please.

so after an extensive volley of emails with my managing editor last night (that sure sounds fancy, doesn't it?) i have decided to add an element of excitement to the blog :) everyone has heard of "oprah's favorite things", right? when she gives away the latest high-tech gadgets, jeans that make you look 47 lbs lighter, and an all expense paid trip to the planet jupiter? well, i am going to hereby decree that fridays will now be known as "jen's favorite things friday" on the blog :) nothing terribly exciting, but fun and hopefully it'll perk you up when you see the sweet little package perched in your mailbox. my favorite lipgloss, a punchy new shade of nail polish, a great new hair product, CHOCOLATE :) can i get a WHAT WHAT?? i still don't know logistically how it's gonna work but visit my blog on friday, leave me a comment (a nice one, please - i don't send free stuff to meanies. lol), and some way, somehow, you will get the prize! also, if you are a stay-at-home mom with a product that you are wanting to promote, shoot it to me! i would love to link you up - let's support each other in our endeavors, our visions, our dreams for ourselves and our families.

i love you girls - so insanely excited to see what God has planned for each one of us. have a marvelous monday and don't forget to come back on friday! :) (tomorrow would be fine, too. you don't HAVE to wait til friday.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

what's in a name?

i remember when i was a little girl, one of my favorite past times was curling up in an easy chair, pen to notebook, to daydream and brainstorm about my future babies' names. i would start with "a" - ashleigh, ashton, amber... and work my way through to "z" - zashleigh, zashton, zamber... lol :) i would experiment with different spellings and try to conjure up the most creative, most beautiful names i could. when it came time to actually naming my ACTUAL children it was a process. it had to be something memorable (not like "jenifer" - no offense, mom. she is aware of my issues with my name. lol) something modern but not too trendy and something spelled easily (not like "jenifer" lol) something with lovely syllabic rhythm and nothing that could morph into an unseemly nickname. :) i settled on "makenna grace" - her first name i saw on "a baby story" on tlc. no sentimental value, no family significance. and her middle name is just something i'm thankful for on a daily basis. :) then with my 2nd, "delaney kate" shares her first name with one of martina mcbride's children (at least that's where i first heard it) and her middle name is the same as my maternal great-grandmother's first name. it still tickles my heart every time i introduce my children and people say "oh, i love those names!" they have been much deliberated and carefully chosen. and i think they fit my girls perfectly. :)

such was the case with this bouncing baby blog... wanting to find something that captured your attention and your heart, to inspire and intrigue, easy to remember but not too simplistic. i got my trusty notebook out and scribbled down some ideas, transposed words and phrases, scratched out more than a few. and then i remembered this verse. this simple little verse that spoke volumes of peace to my quivering, insecure heart. this is going to seem random but stick with me here (and for those who know me and have heard me tell stories, you know i struggle with maintaining focus - understatement of the year, maybe??) i promise to bring it all together in the end. eventually. i hope... :)

the theme that i had chosen for makenna's nursery was lambs. i can't really remember what caused me to settle on this other than lambs are cute and makenna was born the week before Easter and the lamb motif was abundant and CHEAP at the time. :) so lambs it was. i had purchased a sweet little calendar with little pastel animals encircling the border. sitting at my desk, my husband away for the next few months and me, struggling to maintain my sanity with an 8 week old who seemed to inherit my fierce independence, slowly going under... i was turning the pages of the calendar, counting and recounting the days until his return, and i happened upon this verse at the top of one of the calendar pages...

"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those who have young."
Isaiah 40:11

have you ever had those times where the Word of God just seems to jump off the page at you? where you are convinced, beyond all time and space, that the Creator of the Universe is communicating with YOU? that was this. i was spent, ragged, worn out, done. and here was a divine indication that Someone cared and i was not at ALL alone in this endeavor. i have always loved the image of Jesus as our great shepherd. sheep are amazingly stupid animals, you know. and i most definitely fall into that category from time to time. but this verse gave me hope. some days, just a glimmer would suffice to get me through. but this blazing jewel, this beacon of truth, would sustain me to this very day. He "tends" His flock... He is watching over us with a constant, caring eye. "He gathers the lambs in his arms" - tenderly, lovingly, he comes alongside us and changes our direction, our outlook. pulls us up to a higher perspective... and He "carries them close to His heart". that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. i just love that visual. and then the kicker, "He gently leads those who have young." He gently leads us. Not with a rod and staff, not kicking us back on to the path when we start to wander away, but gently. patiently. compassionately. i love that.

so that is how i ended up with the name for this here blog. it holds deep meaning for me and i pray that it will for you as well. motherhood is a blessing as well as a challenge, is it not? there are days when we feel we can't go on and those we never ever want to end. days we are fully confident with the parenting choices we have made and those that got real ugly real fast. :) but through it all, in the midst of all our fears and doubts and craziness, He is leading us... gently. how great is that?

Friday, February 18, 2011

post #1

i have to be honest with you. i'm a little freaked out.

there is always such massive risk involved with transparency of soul and this is about as bare as you can get. i am convinced that God has placed a longing in my heart to encourage and love on fellow mama friends and this is the next big step towards accomplishing that. part of me thinks "oh come on. who are YOU? you have no expertise, no clinical background, nothing upon which to base your knowledge..." and yet i feel confident. peaceful. passionate. i can hear that voice in the depths of my soul that reminds me that it is NOT me who could propose so lofty an idea but the LORD who has placed this desire in my heart (psalm 37:4) that He has started me on a journey and He will be faithful to complete it. motherhood, for me, has been the greatest challenge of my life and, by far, it's greatest reward. it has shed light on hidden aspects of my life that i didn't even know existed prior to that early morning in april 2000. it has shaped me and broken me, pruned me and cultivated me, caused me to fall face first on the floor and lifted me up again with a gaze ever higher... and it continues to do so. every day. am i anywhere near where i want to be? heavens no. but am i light years ahead of where i was? thank God, yes.

i was not at all prepared for the onslaught of hormones and biochemical changes that ravaged my body and my mind following the births of my 2 precious children. i literally scoffed at the idea of "postpartum depression" claiming i was SAVED, i was HAPPY, i would NOT be affected by those offending emotions. (this may be where i throw in a hearty "LOL" because i literally laughed out loud just then.) but oh, was i wrong. and yet, in retrospect, i would not change a moment of the sadness, hopelessness, or desperation because it is in the depths of the refiner's fire where we are truly purified... it ain't pretty. and it ain't fun. but it's WORTH IT. it is a part of my tapestry, the story He is writing on my life, and, thank God, i am no where near done. on this day, when life is easy and troubles scarce, i will thank Him for all that He has done and given and on that day, when hope is fading and my heart is weak, i will thank Him through the tears knowing that He NEVER CHANGES though my emotions may dictate otherwise. i will be sharing more of my story in the posts to come and look forward to hearing yours. that we are not alone provides such comfort for me. i am praying for this little snippet on the worldwide web, that God would use it to encourage just one. or two would be nice. :)

my hope and my prayer for this blog is for it to be a place of comfort and grace. where moms can leave their worries and concerns and can gain a fresh perspective. fresh mercies. grace for the journey. i am honored to be traveling with you, my friend. let's make every effort to love each other down the road and share each others burdens and joys along the way.