Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Season Of Sadness

Wandering through a season of sadness is confusing. It seems, some have wisdom and insight as to how The Creator is working in their lives in that very moment. The rest of us, when going through emotionally straining times, ask: "What is this purpose!?"

I introduced Sharon to you a couple months ago. Small recap: She seemed to have suffered from a fairly major stroke, and a few smaller strokes to follow. Early on, recovery seemed possible.

Presently, Sharon is suffering her final days with brain tumors.

Without details (because they just don't matter at this point), my friend Sharon is slipping farther and farther from us; closer and closer to The Lord.

I've put off this blog post for some time now... because how do you write eloquently, clearly, concisely when you feel deep pain in your heart? So often, our pain comes bubbling up... messy, all over the place and just... badly. There is a vain part of me that wanted to keep it "locked down", because that's just prettier.

But, now it's time.

Daily I go and visit my friend, who is currently being cared for by her husband. Every day I see Sharon's body crumbling little by little. Her speech is gone, she is incontinent, one side of her body is limp, she is unable to walk, she cannot feed herself... but when she sees me... she smiles. To see her eyes light up, brings my heart more joy than I can express in words. We hold hands, I kiss her face, massage her shoulders and speak words of assurance that "...though this time of life is hard, there is SO much good ahead of her."

It's as if that human connection of truly serving another's heart is what matters more than anything in the world.

My heart aches from loss. How easy it is for us to feel these connections are ours to keep. Rationally, I say: "This beautiful friend of mine... who loved me through a cold and dark winter... Lord, I give her to you... because, she is yours." Emotionally I say: "No... don't take her from me. She is wise, beautiful, and mine... she is mine. She is my friend and I don't want to be without her."

It is so easy for me to be selfish.

My heart... it has much to learn and it seems, that even in this blog post, I can identify one point. This connection, it's The Lord's. And I can't hold on to it forever.

As I wander through this season of sadness, I ask the Lord to bring peace, wisdom and love to everyone affected by Sharon's sudden turn toward eternity. As the Lord is close to her in this time, I pray his peace transcends all understanding (or lack thereof) and fills her heart (and ours!) with joy for what is waiting (eternity with her creator!).










Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Morning Is Different

It's a fresh morning, here in Muncie. There is something wonderful about getting up early, and today my morning brings thunder, wind, and rain. As I sit here at our kitchen table, I can see our freshly cut lawn, Lucas' adorable tree swing and the leaves blowing the wind. It's as if the bright summer sun took a break and allowed the clouds to roll in... giving all of us a small reprieve from the normal morning bustle.

These are moments I am thankful for. Often in motherhood, it can feel as if I'm on a carousel. We go round and round with days that are fairly similar in fashion. After too many roundabouts, I start to feel anxious, jittery and uneasy. I begin to hear my inner thoughts saying things like "this is not fulfilling" or "I'm bored, and that means this job I'm doing is not important."

What!? I know... negative self-talk. Just stop it, right? Right.

This morning is different and it's confirmation in my heart that even nature needs a break from the mundane. That beautiful summer weather was getting real mundane (listen to me!...I can't believe what I'm saying). And it's true; no matter how beautiful my life is, I need a break sometimes. I listen to the negative, focus on my inadequacies, and somehow convince myself that things should look different.

Sure, sure, sure... we all need breaks. I can say it, and even believe myself when I say it, but when the hubs tells me to "take a break," I immediately feel guilt and all the feelings that hang out with guilt. That darn guilt! Where does it come from!? Why should I feel anything negative when I am refilling my emotional tank? Sigh...

As I grow through this motherhood gig, I've learned to push those thoughts out. Ignore them. Deny them. And then, find truth! Finding time and space in my day to fill myself with truth, goodness, energy, and life is the ONE thing I SHOULD do. Meeting with The Creator, taking a nap, stopping to write blessings, eating a popsicle WHILE sitting down, calling my sister... these are all things that fill my heart, and enable me to feel joy and continue the journey of motherhood, wife, woman, sister.... you get the idea.

Loving these two... it's my favorite thing to do.
The routine must continue, because I've committed my life to serving in love (and I'm grateful for the
opportunity), but thank God for the small (or big) moments that cause us to stop and refill ourselves with goodness. I hope this post encourages someone to stop in their day today and fill their tank a little bit; to feel the rain on their face, watch their favorite episode of Arrested Development, thank God for a few blessings, order the sweetened coffee instead of the black, eat another bowl of berries, go ahead and take that nap, call a longtime friend, go for a jog, do some crafting (and make a mess!), sing your favorite songs, read an extra chapter in your book, or kiss your spouse a little longer when they come home.

Without the little blessings, the carousel continues and we grow weak; we believe the lie that we're not enough. We miss The Creator's moments to bless and enrich our hearts, and then, we never see the blessings to praise him for; the sweet, tender moments in which we know we are deeply loved.

"Jesus fill me. The Holy Spirit is our Steady Comforter and our Ready Reminder." 
Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids





Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Years of Life-Changing Adventure

I believe there are few things in life that truly change a person. Ultimately, we are all "wired" to be a certain way... and we abide by the same set of beliefs for as long as we exist. That is, until one of these life-changing situations comes into our own life.

That  chubby, lil' puppy face! Sigh...
Our life-changing situation was Lucas. Five years ago (on the 16th of July), he eventually came into this world... after a few days of labor, his nine pounds of chubby, adorableness locked eyes with me, and I knew I'd never be the same.

Lucas celebrated his fifth birthday last week and my heart is both joyous and grieved. This is the perfect description of parenthood for us. This little being of our flesh, our intellect, our spirit... he can both frustrate and bring joy in the same moment. Only a child can do this.

Lucas has taught (and continues to teach) us about patience, tolerance, flexibility, selflessness, giving, grace, laughter, the simple, the complex, sacrifice, creativity, boundaries, discipline, compassion, emotions, our deep need for a higher power and acknowledgement of The Creator, and a healthy awareness of our own selves.

These are just a few things that have changed in us. It's not gradual... the learning curve with a child is steep, as we are constantly trying to keep up with our intelligent, inquisitive, creative little creature!

And, now he's five.

Good gracious, my heart!

We celebrated Lucas with a simple day. 

Matt spent the evening of his own birthday (which is the day previous) finishing a tree swing. It's beautiful! Ropes, wooden seat, clips to remove the swing when necessary... the guy thought of everything.

I made Lucas a cake... from scratch, you guys! I'm proud, because I've never made a white cake at home, that isn't out of a box. You can stop judging me now, because seriously... I didn't know any better! But this cake... it was good. So was that butter cream frosting... I'll never do a box again.

To finish off the day, we set up the tent and had a "cookout" for dinner. We sat around the campfire, roasted hot dogs, ate watermelon, corn on the cob and had a treat of sodas to go with dinner. After s'mores, Lucas went to bed in the tent while looking at lightening bugs and the stars. It was such a fun evening!

Five years ago, this little boy changed our lives. We know we wouldn't be the people we are today if it weren't for this special little heart that chose to be in our lives. Every year we are increasingly more thankful for his spirit, and we know without a doubt, he'll continue to push us, encourage us, and change into better people. There is truly nothing... NOTHING that changes you like a child and we couldn't be more thankful for our little life-changing man. 












Thursday, July 03, 2014

This Kid





This kid:
  • Will be five years old in two weeks! Sigh...
  • Loves superheroes
  • Eats yogurt like it's going out of style
  • Racing and general competition is everything. "Mom, I beat you!" is a statement that happens at least five times a day.
  • Desperately loves his family
  • Asks for candy on the regular
  • Plays with his Lego collection nonstop... prefers to build vehicles that have some type of warfare included.
  • Wants to be a "good boy" and shows deep concern when he is under the impression he's somehow failed. This grieves Matt and I, though we are glad he's intuitively listening to his heart.
  • Hide-and-seek... all the time
  • Loves Katy Perry, Mumford, Veggie Tales, and "rock and roll!!"
  • Calls Rascal Flatts "girl music"
  • Could play at the playground all day, if allowed.
  • Makes friends everywhere
  • Falls down, gets up, continues running. If bleeding profusely, he will deny it in an effort to continue play.
  • Blanket/couch forts are the preferred hide-out
  • Still collects rocks/sticks/random outdoor things and asks to bring them in
  • Helps with dishes, laundry and picking up
  • Loves having his picture taken
  • Surprises are the best form of entertainment... hiding, jumping out and yelling "surprise!"
  • Reading. Constantly. Lucas' love of written word is just joyous for Matt and I.
  • Upon seeing babies or a baby animal his reply is always: "Cuuuuuuute!"
Love this little critter!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend in Ohio

Lucas and I had a great time with "family" in Ohio this past weekend. My sister's husband, Eric... his family lives nearby, which enabled Lucas and I to have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend of relaxation, play, sunshine and friendship.


Lucas and Audrina were in the water all weekend long.

They did take a few breaks to "Jeep" around the yard.

Boating with Pops and Liam... Grams helped load in the Critters. 
Trailer rides may have been the highlight of the weekend.

Preschool Was Great!

Last week was Lucas' last days of preschool. It was a great experience for all of us, him especially. If given a second chance, I would have changed a few things... but overall, our little man benefited greatly from a few hours a day outside of the home (so did mama!).

It's cliche' but I just can't believe how much growth and maturing happens every year... it seems just a few months ago our little guy was still having tantrums, sleeping hours a day, and barely writing his name. Now we have a little reader on our hands who loves friendship and listens carefully to his elders.

School was beneficial for Matt and I, as it allowed us to see where Lucas was both emotionally and cognitively throughout the year. It gave us a glance at how he handles stress and social challenges. Granted, our little guy will continue to grow and change... constantly keeping us on our toes... but we have a better idea of who he is through circumstance and challenge.

If it were not for Lucas' teacher, I don't think this year would have been such a success. She paid special attention to each child, and it seemed nearly every day she would give me an update. Mrs. Candace was a gift, for sure... as she kindly and patiently discussed ways we could help Lucas over hurdles and give him a boost in character.

Matt and I are still exploring what it means to educate our child. As a family, we go the extra mile to ensure all of our values are being met. With that in mind, we want to be sure Lucas is being challenged, respected and being allowed to explore childhood in the best manner possible. Preschool was an excellent springboard into years of understanding what it means to learn.


Lucas friends!

Singing songs for family and friends. Exept Merit... he's just bugging his neighbor.

Lucas receiving his certificate of completion from Mrs. Candace and Miss Allysa (See that little girl in the blue... she's crazy. Can't trust that one!).



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring!

Today is Earth Day, and I've gotta tell ya... It's a beautiful Earth Day here in Indiana! Spirits are high, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the grass couldn't be greener.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It has lifted my heart to a place of hope, and for this I couldn't be more grateful.

I had to get out and take a few pics this afternoon... because I just can't forget how sweet Spring is... the dainty flowers, the fresh dirt, the blue skies, the white toes and the dandelions! Oh the dandelions. They're everywhere.... and they're darling! Even if some people consider them a nuisance...

Thank God for Spring!



I just LOVE taking pictures of the kiddo's toes. Aren't they adorable!?


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Aggression, Messes and Yelling!

I gotta tell you guys... raising this boy of ours is a challenge! Every day feels like a fight to teach gentleness, manners, kindness, empathy, cleanliness, tidiness, respect, obedience and general social skills. On some level, I've always thought children inherited most of these life-lessons from their parents... gleaning attributes into their own lives as they live among their elders.

I cannot say this is true at this time in our lives.

Every day feels like dirt, loudness, defiance, rough housing, running, stomping, sassy talk, disrespect, disobedience, undoing everything, making messes, eating a lot, eating loudly, refusing food, demanding food, whining, chasing the cat, getting muddy, changing clothes, getting muddy again...

This boy will find a stick anywhere... it could be a parking lot, and he'll find it. Any object can be a sword and will be used as a weapon while running and jumping, nearly impaling himself, or another. I've found my child lodged underneath, beside and between things. He has hit his head on nearly everything. Smashed fingers, stubbed toes and slammed all appendages on all things.

There are many plans made. Plans for rockets ships, tree houses, forts, underground tunnels, digging lakes, adopting puppies, adopting kittens, collecting worms, feeding the birds, collecting the "worlds largest rock collection", finding dinosaurs, staying up all night, eating all the pizza, jumping the highest, running the fastest, being the sneakiest, and riding "all the animals!"

*Deep breath*

I end my days often sitting on the couch... with a cup of tea and blissful silence. After a day full of conversation, conflict, and compromise... I find myself empty. Hoping to fill my emotional tank just enough to start all over again the next day, I sit and mentally review the events... remembering the tough moments... but also remembering the sweetness.

Our boy is full of sweet. His morning greeting when he says: "Good morning mom. I love you and it's time to get up." The joy on his face when I place peanut butter and apples in front of him at the table. His giggles when we play hide and seek. The deep desire he has to be just like his Dad! I see sweetness between the hard moments... and though I often feel like our boy is too much "all aggression and messes and yelling!" I have glimpses of what his heart will always be like.

It will always be loving. Lucas will always have a heart that wants to serve others. He will always want to impress his father. Our boy's heart will always love his mother and always want to see her happy. That heart of his will always want to be adventurous and a physical challenge to make him feel like the brave soul he is!

This is the greatest challenge I've yet to come up against... this child of ours. He is opinions, and defiance and hard-headed... but the sweet, loving heart pulls me back in every time. Some days I wonder "what am I doing!?" because I am not equipped to raise this boy! But that heart... it slays me, and makes me want to try harder each day following.

Maybe, just maybe... this boy will be okay. As far as his mother goes... all bets are still out.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Blessing With A Big Heart

Every day I count my blessings. Well... maybe not count them, per say... but I'm aware of them and every day I notice new blessings I failed to recognize the day before.

Early Winter, I was given a gift in the form of a friend who happened to live next door! Sharon is a strong, independent, seventy year old woman and we first met while shoveling snow. About two feet of snow, to be exact. She genuinely came to my driveway, took off her glove (because she's a lady with manners!) and shook my hand while introducing herself. We exchanged pleasantries and after she walked away, I felt a pull or a tug, or a nudge, or something in my heart saying: "Invite her over!"

I did. I spoke up, saying: "Sharon!" As she turned around... I said, "Would you like to come over for coffee one day next week? I have very few friends here in Muncie, and you're very kind, and you live next door!"

She chuckled and agreed. I was excited.

Her first visit felt natural... like we'd known each other for years. She brought me a "housewarming" gift, and I made scones. We talked for hours and as she readied herself to leave, we hugged... both thankful to have a friend in such close proximity with so many kindred qualities. How is it possible a woman of immense grace, wisdom and kindness could have such a spark with me!?

 Sharon's visits have been a weekly occurrence since January, and I have to say, it's been an immense blessing. Sharon has listened to my heart, offered advice, loved on my kiddo, brought food over, helped me paint my house, met both my mother and mother-in-law, shared her story with me (my favorite!) and made me feel valued in her own life. It's amazing how much of a difference one person can make in the life of another, and Sharon has done exactly that for me.

Sharon is a blessing with a big heart.

This past week, Sharon suffered from a stroke and though she is at home now, the injury has taken parts of herself that allow her to love others in her special way... like her speech. My heart felt the blow and my breath caught in my throat as her kind husband told me what happened over the phone, because... well... it just sucks. I felt shocked and painfully aware of how much I care for my friend.

 Sharon is a woman of great strength and dignity... sharing her gifts and talents in this community. She has served those who are unwell and loved on those who need love. She is an immense gift to all of us, and when we grow to love a person like Sharon, we too feel her pain in our own hearts. I feel her loss. I also feel the hope of recovery, but right now... I feel the loss.

As we learn more about what has happened to Sharon's body and mind, I can only hope we can serve her just as well as she has served us. To give her the feeling of being loved and valued... treasured. To remind her that she is special, not for all the things she has done for us... but because her spirit is unique, loving and tender. As Sharon copes with and learns to recover from her injury, I hope to remind her that she has been one of my biggest blessings in my own life and will continue to be so. She is my blessing with a big heart.






Thursday, March 27, 2014

Difference In A Day: What I Do When I Start To Feel Low

Today is grey and cold. I feel that way a little bit inside too... like, inside my heart or my spirit... or wherever we feel our feelings. I feel kind of blah today.

This week has been a little low for me, to be honest... and when I feel low, I just want to sit around and do nothing. So instead of doing nothing, I've tried to stay busy with this and that. Here are a few ways I keep myself from diving deeper down:

  • Craft time. Pull out paper, glue, scissors, doo-dads (I had buttons), sparkles and go for it! Be creative, have very few boundaries and see what happens. I made a few cards and Lucas created the cutest little crocodile I've ever seen!
  • Cooking. I've severely cut our grocery budget this past month (because yikes!), which has resulted in creatively making meals and snacks with pantry items I already have. My favorite is to make baked goods using substitutions like peanut butter, bananas and non-dairy nut beverages. It's fun, and there are always delicious treats as a result!
  • Writing. I've written a blog post on disappointment, but have yet to post it online. Still in the works.... Writing is a great way to clear my heart and head. Often I keep the writing private, because if we can't be fully honest in our thoughts, then it's not helpful to our hearts. 
  • Nutrition. When I'm feeling low I can often see patterns that have led up to a bad day. Too much sugar, inconsistent meals, lots of caffeine, and not enough wholesome foods. In addition to cleaning up my food habits, I tend to add things like lemon water, turmeric tea and smoothies to my diet. Usually within a couple days, I feel better... mostly.
  • Naps. For some... naps are not a good pattern to get into when suffering from depression. This can lead to avoidance, withdrawn behavior patterns and apathy... resulting in more depression. For me... a nap can help jump-start my late afternoon and evenings. As a mother and wife, I often feel weary and worn down. The day in and day out of constantly serving can lead to emotional and mental weariness. A nap can feel like a break for my brain and body in what often feels like a long day.
  • Movies or series. I'm not gonna lie... on days when Lucas lays down for his own nap, I get excited to turn on the tv and watch whatever interests me that day. Sometimes it's a documentary, and other times it's something frivolous and silly. Whether it's a good laugh or a good cry, it's a distraction from my internal dialogue, responsibilities and again, what feels like a day of serving others non-stop.
  • Something physical I can do indoors. I typically choose yoga, but sometimes prefer pilates, a game of hide and seek with the kiddo or just a tickle fight. Whatever gets the blood moving, always helps.
  • Reading. Lately, reading has been a little bit more challenging. Not sure why... but my focus hasn't been what it usually is. That being said, reading can be a great little escape when you have a few minutes here and there.
  • Reading something inspirational. For me, it's usually something spiritual, but we all find inspiration in different ways and whatever makes us feel like we've got the umph! to put another foot in front of ourselves, do it.
  • Looking at funny things on the internet. I'm not gonna lie, you guys... sometimes I go on Pinterest and look only at the "humor" section. Because some days... that's what it takes. Plus... you can always send the pins to your friends and then you have someone to laugh with! Laughter increases special hormones in your brain, and then... you feel just a little bit better.
  • Talking to friends. When I feel crappy, I email my bestie and text my sis. Always cheers me up. In addition, I try and FaceTime, Gmail Chat and be in touch with people who are both encouraging and honest. The temptation to withdraw and stay private has to be resisted, especially when a good chuckle or a sweet story from a trusted friend can make all the difference in a day.
Everyone has things they like to do, but depression can distract us from holding on to our "hobbies." Often, I just sit and dwell in my thoughts, which is super unhealthy for me. My internal dialogue isn't always in a good place and I find myself feeling convinced of things that are severely untrue (feelings of worthlessness...etc.). Staying busy can really help get us through the "dark times" and though we should remain self-aware, making efforts to do the things we enjoy can make a huge difference in a day.