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.) :)


Saturday, March 19, 2011

and the winner is....

KELLY! i tried to click on your profile to gather info but i was denied access! :) so, sweet kelly, hopefully i will hear from you by tomorrow morning or i may have to redraw another random number :( we don't want that to happen! can't wait to hear from you! and congratulations!

wow! another beautiful day in the neighborhood, i can't help but draw a spiritual parallel - one of the reasons why, i believe, God allows us to go through the dead of winter, the seasons of zero growth, the bitter cold, is to allow us to appreciate SO MUCH MORE the beauty and refreshing of renewal, new life, His provision in making ALL THINGS NEW. i found a fabulous song the other day by jon foreman (lead singer of "switchfoot") called "white as snow", based on King David's 51st Psalm, written after his affair with bathsheba. it is powerful and it is my heart's cry today. check it out on and let me know what you think.

enjoy your day, sweet girls - my eldest daughter has a big time basketball tournament this afternoon but i will check in later with you all :)


p.s. kelly! email me your info to THANKS!

Friday, March 18, 2011

guess what?? IT'S FRIDAY! :)

holy crow! it's friday! and it's about darn time for another giveaway! since we have had an awesome week of spring-like temperatures up here, (oh trust me. i am prepared for at least two more freezing weeks and some snow at some point still. i will never forget our first winter in the NWI, walking out of church on april 27th and it was SNOWING. i was aghast. :/ ok, back to what i was and i am in the mood for sandals, our giveaway this week is going to be a "fancy feet prep kit"!!! :) a couple fun new nail polishes, my favorite burt's bee's foot lotion, and a cute pair of flippity-flops :) i will have the winner shoot me her (or his? yikes!) size and will get them sent off to you! now, i know that my darling friends in texas have been relishing in the warmer climes for weeks now but you have to understand how FREAKING EXCITED we are up here to be able to show a little skin. and by "skin" i mean ANKLE. maybe a little FOREARM. it's exciting. :)

so! as we did last time, leave me a comment (no profanity please. lol) and will pick a winner for me! so excited! can't wait to see who gets the "fancy feet prep kit"!!! :)

i know i haven't been keeping up with my story as well as i had intended - maybe i'm subconsciously avoiding going "back there" and maybe i'm procrastinating because of it (who ME?? procrastinate?? sheesh...) i really need to get on with it cause as soon as i'm done telling my tale i have some fabulous friends on deck with their amazing stories of God's provision and faithfulness to them through their mothering journey. i am so looking forward to you all getting to know them as i do because they each inspire me greatly to be the mom and woman that God is calling me to be.

love you girls! enjoy your weekend - whether it's filled with busyness or rest, soak in every moment because the time God has given us with our babies IS short and WILL pass quickly (even when it doesn't feel like it...) :)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

just another manic monday...

all together now, "whoaaa-oa-oaaaaa" :)

so yeah... no giveaway yesterday either. let me try to explain...

in an earlier post i informed you about my struggle to find out what's wrong with me. (alright, that's enough. i can hear you all snickering from here. lol) i found a rheumatologist i LOVE and got the blood test results back last week. basically, they were conclusive - i DO have scleroderma and i MUST stay on top of it. and so i am. my finger is still killing me and the digital ulcer is verrrrry slow in healing. oooh! should i post a picture of it? that might be fun. ha ha :) i had lunch with a couple sweet friends last week and one of the topics of conversation at lunch was "the finger" - here i was waggling my decrepit finger over their panera salad describing it in detail and i realized, "you know? this may not be the most appetizing discussion for lunch." :) so i stopped. lol

so about yesterday... since scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that can effect the vascular system (blood vessels, etc.) i needed to have some tests run on my heart and lungs because a concern can be pulmonary hypertension which effects both heart and lungs and once damage is done it is irreversible. so! i go to the hospital in michigan city, indiana to which i have never ventured before. i've been to michigan city but the only two landmarks i'd visited are the outlet mall and the beach :) i had gotten directions from one of the nurses and, shockingly enough, the were WRONG. so i try to find it via my handy-dandy vz navigator on my phone and would you believe, it was having a hard time finding my location?? (the irony is thick here my friends. lol) so it was no help. so i call my doctors office and the sweet receptionist very patiently guided me turn by turn to the hospital. i get there right at 10am (which was the time of my first test) and the darling man behind the front desk says to head down to cardiology. so i head down. the precious little old lady behind the desk there says "your appointment isn't until 11am." but i KNOW i have one at 10am too so i ask where the pulmonary department is and she sends me to the 2nd floor. unbeknownst to me, i climbed aboard the staff elevator to go up to the 2nd floor. i exit the elevator on the 2nd floor and find myself in a staff only, restricted area in the ICU. so awesome. :) so i head out into the hallway and find a cute little old lady who appears to be a volunteer (her name tag said "eucharistic minister" so that sounded fancy enough) and she suggested i head down to admitting. she led me to the correct elevator (sheesh.) and i headed back down to the 1st floor. i find out, yes, i needed to be in admitting first so i sit and wait. the highlight of the morning HAD to be the two adorable old ladies who were running a play-by-play of "the price is right" on the waiting room t.v. it made me smile. :) the lady who so obviously LOVES her job finally called me in and we discover someone hadn't faxed the necessary paperwork to them or the front desk which is why i was wandering around st. anthony's for a good 30 mins :) (me thinks it was the nurse who gave me the bad directions.) i'm FINALLY admitted and rushed up to the pulmonary test because i am now 30 mins late. (what's new right?) i got right in and performed a series of tests - lots of breathing into a little scuba mouthpiece type thingy and almost passed out twice :) they plug your nose and tell you to breathe "normally" into this thing and then she starts yelling "ok! breath quickly and deeply! in! out! in! out!" and i've got this thing in my mouth and a big nose plug on thinking i must look like a real buffoon right now. :) so great. so THEN she sends me down to cardiology (she actually walked me to the elevator personally - i'm thinking the word was out that there was a strange woman roaming the halls and to please help her. lol) i pop into cardiology for the 3rd time that morning and by now the sweet little lady behind the desk and i are on a first name basis. they take me right back and i have the echocardiogram done (which is basically an ultrasound of the heart - i turned at one point and said "is that the head?" - aren't i funny? lol) she said that if there was anything seriously wrong they would not let me leave so since i was not tackled and detained on my way out the door, i figured that was a good sign. :) i then stopped by my rheumatologists office and she checked out my hand, etc. i'm growing increasingly frustrated with it because it literally affects EVERYTHING i do. i remember when i had the other digital ulcer that got so bad i would think "well, at least it's on my left hand - it would really stink if it was my right." annnnnd it does. i'm super paranoid about infection and, due to my complete lack of gracefulness, i hit it on something at least 427 times a day. :/ as i type right now there is a consistent throbbing pain in my entire right hand from favoring my one finger and overcompensating with the others. growl. but i am THANKFUL that it is nothing more serious - my doctor said it IS looking better, just verrrry slow going. i have another consult with a hand surgeon tomorrow and we will discuss whether it would be best to have a procedure done on it or just to let it progress with healing on it's own. pray for wisdom for the doctors and myself - i'm ready to move on :)

SO! all that to say, yesterday was a wash as far as blogging goes. i fully intend to dive back into my story soon. :) i have been SO ENCOURAGED by so many of you to continue on and i just want to say, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart, thank you SO MUCH. i am in AWE of what GOD has done, and will continue to do, in and through all of us and am honored to be serving alongside all of you as we minister to our precious families and each other.

let's meditate on 1 peter 5:6-10 today, sweet friends...

"humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty right hand, that He may lift you up in due time. cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. be self-controlled and alert. your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your sisters around the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. and the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (i added sisters instead of brothers - i don't think God will mind. at least i hope not!)

you are NOT alone! the God of ALL GRACE will HIMSELF restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. SO AWESOME. a precious, precious promise. :) CLAIM IT TODAY, girls! pray that hedge over your husband, your children, your homes, your pastors, your friends today. the devil wants nothing more than to destroy and devour Godly, Christ-following families and render them useless. do NOT allow him that pleasure. pray with your eyes open today - offer Him thanks continually for EVERYTHING in your life. even on the crummy days, the spilled breakfast, the fighting children, the nasty digital ulcers. :) i am praying for you all and want you to KNOW you are LOVED and HONORED today.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

this is so lame.

my friends! i just realized that saturday has come and gone and for the 2nd week in a row, i have forgotten to offer a jen's favorite thing giveaway! what on earth?!?? i will be doing one on monday AND on friday this next week just to make up for my lameness! :) i will also be posting more soon - still having problems with my finger - had a consult with a hand surgeon last week so i'm PRAYING for a quick resolution to my problem soon! pray with me please friends! :) have a wonderful rest of your weekend and don't forget to set your clocks back tonight! (so not happy about losing an hour sleep. sheesh.)

love you girls! check back in on monday for your fun freebie! :)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

my story, part 4

i really can't remember when the fog started creeping in. i mean, i remember being tired, sure. i remember thinking "man, this is tough." but i can't pinpoint the exact moment when i shifted from uncomfortable exhaustion to full-blown anxiety. it was always worse in the evening. sitting on my couch, the sky a dusky orange signaling the end of the day, trembling with anxiety and a heavy responsibility for that little life in the next room. my body aching for sleep but knowing full well it would not be coming tonight. or the next night. or the next...

looking back now, i truly believe the chaos that soon followed my daughter's birth was a blessing for me. i tend to be a wallower - oh, trust me. there WILL be wallowing in the weeks to come. i just hardly had a moments rest to focus on wallowing at the time...

it was probably about 10 days after our daughter was born - remember, we were going through an application process for a big career leap - we had gone through the in-home interview and it seemed to go well. i will never forget sitting at my teeny tiny kitchen table (ok, 3 days after childbirth i was leaning as opposed to a full-fledged sit. ouch.) grinning and nodding at two intimidating looking men in dark suits describing the duties of my hubby were he to be gainfully employed by aforementioned government agency. :) over the past 10+ years i have referred back to said conversation MANY times. reminding myself i actually agreed to all this nonsense. :) a few days had passed and hubby received the call we had been anticipating - he got the job. so this was around april 20th or so - the voice on the phone asked if he could start may 8th. could we find an apartment, move our little family, and start a brand new career in 2 weeks? SURE! thank God for supportive, loving family and friends who helped us through those next couple weeks because, as i wrote in makenna's baby book, God kinda put me on autopilot. :) not much time to process exactly what was going on, we just had to DO IT. isn't that how we SHOULD live though? we spend WAY too much time processing. at least i do. :) i should add that one of the stipulations of his new position was an intensive training process. he would be leaving may 30th for 6 months. i tried not to focus on that. tried NOT to count down the days and nights until then. tried NOT to worry about what life as a single mom might be like. well, i tried.

we found a sweet little apartment in a suburb of houston and hubby dove in at the office. i busied myself with setting up our new little nest and caring for my baby chick. she was about 5 weeks old now - dare i say we had stumbled upon a routine? i had made my first big time parenting decision and decided she slept better on her tummy - that was HUGE for me. i wasn't really enjoying breastfeeding (ok, i HATED it) but figured i better keep on keeping on cause what would people THINK?? and then, before i knew it, the month of may was drawing to a close and life, once again, was going to take another turn into some really murky waters.

one of my favorite scripture passages is in isaiah 43...

"fear not, for i have redeemed you;
i have summoned you by name; you are mine.
when you pass through the waters,
i will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
when you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
for i am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your savior.
since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because i love you,
i will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.
do not be afraid, for i am with you" isaiah 43:1b-5a

i love how it says WHEN, not IF you pass through the waters. WHEN you pass through the rivers, WHEN you walk through the fire... being a follower of Christ does not guarantee us a pain-free existence. but it does mean He is WITH US ("emmanuel" - GOD with us) we are precious, honored and LOVED and there is NOTHING that we will go through in this life where He is not right beside us, holding us, leading us, surrounding us. nothing too petty, nothing too great, NOTHING. bring it ALL to Him, lay it at His feet, TRUST HIM with it.

have a fabulous day, sweet mommy friends. as you go about the tedium of every day life remember you are loved, protected, and cared for today by the great God of the universe. i love that. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

pardon the interruption...

hey girls, this has been a crazy busy week. i have had every intention of sitting down to write and something always comes up! :/ i've been dealing with some health issues lately that have required me to get serious and focus on myself which is hard for me, and most moms, i think. first of all, i tend to procrastinate. a LOT. :) when it comes to medical issues with my girls i'm all over it. but why when it comes to me do i put things off and wait and wait? wouldn't it make more sense to first take care of me? kind of like on an airplane that's going down (personally, never had the experience but i have seen every episode of LOST. lol) the flight attendants tell the adults to place the oxygen masks on themselves first and THEN help the children. it seems so selfish but it's just something you gotta do. kind of like taking care of ourselves for the benefit of our sweet families. still learning this lesson. i am a stubborn little sheep. :)

technically, this should probably be "my story, part 47" but since it's something i am dealing with right now, i wanted to share it with you. shortly after having my 2nd child, who will be 8 next month, i started feeling weird. emotionally, i was fine (that's like "part 42" - you'll have to wait for it. lol) but physically something was off. through a series of events (which i will expound upon in a later post) and several bloodtests, my doctor called me on a saturday (that's when you know there's something going on...) to let me know that the results of the tests showed that i had either lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. well, that stinks. :( and so began a marathon of doctor's appointments, medications, lots of questions, very few answers. i can honestly say, never once was i nervous, anxious, afraid of the diagnosis. to be honest with you, i wasn't totally convinced that i was ever THAT sick. but my bloodwork begged to differ. :/

let's fast forward a few years because, as always, i am getting bogged down in the details and i really intended this to be a brief update. HA! i am anything but brief, my friends :) the summer of 2008 i was seen by a group of about 5 rheumatologists in portland, maine who concluded that i was dealing with an autoimmune disease called scleroderma or CREST syndrome. i was suffering from poor circulation in my hands and feet (reynaud's phenomenon) and as a result had formed a digital ulcer on one of my finger tips due to the lack of bloodflow. after weeks of not healing properly, i contracted a staph infection and was hospitalized for about 4 days on i.v. antibiotics to get rid of the infection. so not fun. i say all that to say that i need to be more mindful of my health situation, and i have not been. in the 2 years since moving up here, i have not sought out a rheumatologist - i have been blessed to have felt pretty good in the meantime and any time something has come up our general practitioner has been able to cover it. unfortunately, i now have another digital ulcer (it just sounds gross, doesn't it??) that is not healing as it should. i bit the bullet and made an appointment with a rheumatologist up here and went in to see her on wednesday. let's just say, she was not happy that i have put off treatment this long. :/ so they drained me of about 12 gallons of blood to test and i go back this morning to find out the results. since scleroderma is a vascular disease (affecting the blood vessels, internal organs, etc.) there is a whole battery of tests that i need to have run on my insides. this all sounds very ominous but i am actually excited to get some answers and appropriate treatment. since i was misdiagnosed for so long and pumped full of all kinds of meds i didn't need and made me feel WORSE, i was apprehensive to find a new doctor. but i am so pleased with my new rheumatologist - i was in tears in her office because she actually sat and listened to me for an hour, WROTE DOWN what i was saying, validating everything i had been experiencing as opposed to responding condescendingly as doctors have in the past, and gave it to me straight. i have to be proactive and vigilant with my disease and i will be from now on. it was a huge wake up call for me. i go back this morning at 10am for the test results and a follow-up visit. i will let you know how it goes. :)

wow! brief, huh? imagine if i had told the WHOLE story :) mind you, i am typing with only 9 functioning phalanges right now and it's not real convenient for a blogger. lol my hubby likes to refer to my affected hand as "the claw". awesome. he's SO FUNNY. :)

so girls, if there's anything i can leave you with today it's this. don't put things off, especially when it comes to your health. autoimmune disease affects mainly women of child-bearing age (that's us.) and can show up in all kinds of symptoms and forms. if you feel "off" or just have a nagging "feeling" that you might need to pursue answers, DO IT. trust your motherly intuition. God uses doctors every day to perform miracles through them...

i am claiming these verses today:

"Though the LORD is on high, he looks down upon the lowly,
but the proud He knows from afar.
though i walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.
the LORD will fulfill His purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever-
do not abandon the works of your hands." psalm 138:6-8

love you girls - take care of yourselves today :) you are very important to many, many people!