Thursday, July 26, 2012

I wanted to quit

I wanted to quit with the pain in my leg.

I wanted to quit when my foot hurt.

When a sinus infection made it difficult to breathe, I wanted to quit.

I wanted to quit because I was too tired.
I wanted to quit because of the heat.

When my life felt out of balance, I wanted to quit.
I wanted to quit because it was easier.

I just wanted to quit.
For about 3 months now, I have been training for the Bix. In two days (God willing), I will participate in this 7-mile run of hills. Many times over the past few months, I have wanted to quit for every reason you can think of. Just a week and a half ago, I was ready to throw in the towel. Crazy. I know. Who works that hard and quits just before the finish? Telling myself that perseverance builds character and I should run as one who gets the prize, I laced up my shoes and set out to finish what I started.

Earlier this week, I woke up with some crazy shooting pain in my tooth. I knew this wasn’t normal. Having just visited the dentist for a routine cleaning a month ago, however, this made no sense. With ibuprofen doing nothing for my pain, I called my dentist. As luck would have it, his office is closed this week. Equipped with a number for the dentist covering for him, I was hopeful the pain would pass. It didn’t. To make a long story short, I was in need of an emergency root canal.

Stressed out from forking out too much money for an air conditioner repair that morning, my emotions went whack. How were we going to pay for all this? Just last week, in a study of The Confident Heart by Renee Swope, I chose to focus on the truth of two of God’s names: “Jehovah Jireh” which means my provider and “Emmanuel” which means God with us. It was unlikely that this was just a coincidence.

Sitting in the chair, waiting with Novocain numbing the entire side of my mouth and face, I prayed in an effort to calm my soul. My arms and legs shook with anxiety. I hate to wait. My thoughts were difficult to reign in. It’s always the moments leading up to the event that wreak havoc with my mind. Whether a root canal or race day.
After giving it all to God, anxiety still threatened to rule my emotions. Peace won out. Had it been any other day, I wouldn’t have had the freedom to jump from one appointment to the next in an effort to remedy my pain. Friends and family were readily available to help with my kids. The Endodontist was able to complete the procedure in one appointment. Insurance will cover most of it. We have a savings account for the rest. Was I willing to trust that God is who He says He is or not? Did I believe Jehovah Jireh would provide and that through it all He was with me as Emmanuel?

Pain possibly unrelated to the root canal has me on Amoxicillin in hopes of a pain-free run come Saturday. I’m tempted to allow frustration to rule. Worry threatens to consume me.

The truth is that I can give all [my] worries and cares to God, for he cares about [me]. (I Peter 5:7 NLT)

I am able to trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding; in all [my] ways submit to Him, and He will make [my] paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I know that the Lord goes with [me]; He will never leave [me] nor forsake [me]. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

[God’s] grace is sufficient for [me], for [His] power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The last thing I want is to have all my hard work in training for this race end because of some silly pain in my mouth. I may be unable to complete this race with the effort I had hoped for. This pain is out of my control and may possibly make it difficult for me to run The Bix at my very best. However, I will choose to allow this situation to draw me closer to my God. As churchy as it may sound, I know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)

I just don’t want to quit.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

HAH Blog Hop - Beating Summer Boredom

How do you beat summer boredom with your kids? Share tips and tricks for keeping everyone engaged...

When a friend recently pointed out my busy lifestyle of being out and about, it surprised me a bit. Even though I like to be home, we are gone a lot. This may be why I can count on my hand the amount of times I have heard “I’m bored” exit my children’s mouths this summer as well. If anything, we have packed our days full. A day at home usually comes with a welcome sigh of relief.

Because my girls are limited in what I allow them to participate in during the school year, summer activities are a little more abundant. Between swimming lessons, dance classes, play dates and weekend getaways, boredom has been kept at bay. For those ungrateful moments when the words, “I’m bored”, do whine through the air, I simply look around the room and inform them of a chore they can do. Naturally, this is far from a welcomed suggestion because they want to do something fun; not work. I simply stick to my guns that they can find something to play on their own or they can pick the chore I have brought to their attention.

We encourage imaginative play between our children and we are fine with a good movie or interactive play on the Wii. The swingset in our backyard as well as the fact that we live on a cul-de-sac allows quite a bit of outside play as well. At the same time, we have many circles between family, friends and church that play dates and activities come in abundance. Between worship, serving, and just enjoying time with others, boredom does not have a place in our lives. With all of the many areas we need some improvement in our home, I’m thankful this is not something I need to think much about!

If you are in need of some ideas to overcome summer boredom for your children, however, head over to Jill's blog and hop around the blogs for some ideas!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

16 Years of Not so Wedded Bliss

We were in the years of our marriage usually considered the honeymoon stage. Yet there I was, anxiously inquiring my husband’s approval to purchase a book entitled What if I Married the Wrong Person? “Go ahead and buy it. I saw it too but I didn’t want to upset you.” Carrying the book to the cashier was a sad but honest moment as we both acknowledged our unhappiness in this marriage.

A couple of years later, I was sitting across my friend’s kitchen table as she exposed the truth of my heart. “You don’t really seem to like him very much.” Was it really that obvious? Apparently it was evident enough that the purpose of our visit was centered on a marriage conference. I don’t know if there was a flicker of hope in either of our hearts or if it was simply the fear of coexistence that prompted our attendance at Family Life's Weekend to Remember. Either way, this became a turning point in our marriage. Change was not instantaneous but we walked away with the tools to work at becoming one in our life together.

As I think back on the first five years of what should have been wedded bliss, I can’t help but feel like we wasted what could have been the best years of our lives. When I shared my feelings with my husband, he assured me that “God will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2). Some days as we juggle the commitments of life and raising three little girls, I still wonder. Most days, however, the struggles and battles of those beginning years together are a reminder of how far we have come. God truly does work miracles.

Our sixth anniversary didn’t bring with it any grand celebration to mark the change in our life together. Actually, we only celebrated with takeout and a movie but it was due to the blessing of our newborn baby. We were able to enjoy our life together and our little family for what seemed to be the first time. Until my husband’s job made him travel about 90% of the time through the pregnancy of our second child and the beginning of her life. While this time period carried a lot of stress, nothing compared with the adjustments of working past the selfishness those initial five years held. Not even watching cancer claim the lives of both of our dads the same year our youngest daughter was born. There was just something about working through those seemingly hopeless years that ensured us we could get through anything.

Sixteen years into our lifelong commitment, I firmly believe that persevering through the early trials and tribulations gave us a foundation of hope. It certainly hasn’t been easy. With every obstacle we faced, however, we did it together. We have learned that we make a great team. In those moments where one of us “lost that loving feeling”, we are grateful for the knowledge that marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement. To make this work for a lifetime, there needs to be 100% commitment on both of our parts.

God as our foundation has been the saving grace for our union (as well as our lives) especially in the dark times. Divorce has not been an option. We know that in everything, Christ is our example of what love looks like. Our marriage is an opportunity to point to Him.

 The card I bought my husband this year tells him I adore him… and I do. I remember the days where I strained to find the card that spoke love and honesty all in one. This year’s card tells him I am grateful for him… and my heart swells with appreciation for all He does. It calls him my friend that I cherish… he truly is the one I want to spend my days with.

We got away for a bit last weekend to celebrate our anniversary.  I can honestly say that I was disappointed to return to reality. One of the best things we do for our marriage is take short little getaways without the kids. This year we had to enlist the help of many in order to pull it off. We are so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who bend over backwards to help keep our marriage strong.

After sixteen years of marriage, I might go back in time and do a lot of things differently if I had the opportunity to do them over again. One thing I would NOT change is the man that I married. God knew best (as He always does) when He gave me Rod to spend my lifetime with. My husband completes me and I’m forever grateful to have him in my life. I’m better with him than without him.

“She’s got gaps; I got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” – Rocky

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Decade with Nikelle Evadne

Better late than never...

June 28, 2012

Dear Nikelle,

This past week, your old toddler car seat went into the trash and I used the diaper changer as a concession table for your 10th Birthday Sleepover celebration. It’s hard to believe we’ve had you in our lives now for an entire decade! I’ve gone from wondering if I was truly equipped to be a mom to doubting if I will ever be able to sufficiently prepare you for the world you will one day venture into without me.

There is only one more year before you go off to junior high. People have warned us not to blink and here you are entering double digits… where you will remain unless you live to be 100. As I catch a glimpse of you out of the corner of my eye, I’ve found myself doing a double-take before I am convinced that this lengthy preteen is really my little girl growing up…

…and how you have grown up over this past year. It has been so fun to see the advancement you have made in band with the flute. The arts are your niche and we want to encourage that. I rarely, if ever, have to remind you to practice your instrument. That is why we know this is a path that will likely stick. You just enjoy learning how to make music come alive – whether it is with the flute, the keyboard or just with the voice God enabled you sing with.

Most days you can be found reading, drawing, working on crafts or organizing playtime for your sisters. You still find your way into the hearts of those around you as you embrace relationships with open arms and a world of trust. We have made a lot of memories as a family this year. With each approaching endeavor, there was such great anticipation expressed by you. The smile you wear reveals your fervency for life.

At the bus stop each morning, we read Jesus Calling (for kids) by Sara Young. It was nice to share that moment together to begin the morning. As the bus pulled away, your baby sister and I would wave goodbye. Although many times, you were too caught up in conversation with friends to remember we were waving. Turning to walk back to the house, Ande would question why you forgot to look out the window of the bus and wave. I was reminded that moments like these are numbered. Maybe that is why I welcomed the opportunity to walk you and your cousin to the shelter each day at camp. All too soon, the time will come when you won’t want your mommy tagging along. I need to do a better job of embracing the occasions you still want to climb up into my lap to cuddle. Although it is a lot more difficult to sit for any duration of time under your weight, I wish we could freeze these moments in time. Your height almost matches mine but your heart is still so open, young and innocent.

You have brought comfort to my heart this past year as you’ve shared your thoughts, conversations and experiences with me that I was not privy to first hand. To know your initial thoughts are turning toward God and His Truth makes me want to jump up and cheer. But I control my emotions and tuck them away to ponder in my heart for future years to come. I know that these next years are critical in your faith walk. These are the moments that will drive you to the question, “Is this faith mine or my parents?” Oh, how I pray that you will come to the conclusion that it can be both! For the God your Daddy and I serve is the One True God who loves you intimately, created you uniquely, died for your sins personally and is now preparing a place for you in Heaven as completion of His plan for your life. This is my desire for you. I realize you will probably question what we’ve taught you. The questioning does not worry me because I want the answer that our God is worth surrendering your life for to come on your own accord. Identifying your life with Christ needs to be a personal declaration or it will never come with the passion to live boldly and make a difference for Him.

It is good to know your desire is for friends to know Jesus. Even in the middle of your birthday party, you were jamming to worship music. There is such great joy in hearing words flow from the mouths of my babes straight to our God. I hope and pray our home will be a place you and your friends want to be, not only because it is the residence where our family dwells but also where God’s love flows abundantly.

You have such a loving, giving, selfless heart. As you opened gifts that were given to you in honor of your special day, your 6-year-old sister sat waiting expectantly. Getting up the confidence to ask you if she could participate in opening your gifts, she was not disappointed. You even embraced duplicate gifts because naturally, your sister could use one as well. In my opinion, you are the BEST big sister in the world. What a gift Jaycie and Ande have in looking up to you. Your current choices reflect Jesus’ love and it makes a difference in the lives you touch.

I just finished reading the book, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (missionary in Uganda). She says, “If one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for.” God reminded her that “I have one purpose… and that is to love.” My prayer is that you will always remember the extent of God’s love for you and that will motivate you to love others His way in return.

“I believe there is only one truly courageous thing we can do with our lives: to love unconditionally. Absolutely, with all of ourselves, so much that it hurts and then more.” – Katie Davis

My prayer is that our family loves this way. That you will believe you are loved unconditionally by your daddy and I. My desire is that your sisters will know this love from you and share it in reciprocal. This is how we are loved by our Creator and it is how we are to love in response.

I pray God will equip me to love you the way that is best.

I love you and want God’s best for your life,