Sunday, August 30, 2009

God is the Same

Something I think about a lot is circumstances and how some people live and some people die. Some people have mostly good lives and some people suffer a lot. And none of it seems to really have much to do with how good or bad a person is or how much they "try" to do well in life. It seems so... patternless.

I listened to a story today about an article someone had written in the editorial section of a newspaper. It was praising God because her husband missed a flight and his life was spared when the flight crashed and all the passengers died. The next week a reply to the editorial: "My husband made that flight". And the Bible says that God is the same today,yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Sometimes it is so difficult to reconcile that with human suffering and the patternlessness that seems to accompany it. This is something I have long struggled with because I have such a sympathetic heart and I have also been through a lot in my young life. And honestly, I don't think I "deserved" it. No child deserves to be hurt. I have seen lots of pain and evilness and have experienced a lot at the hands of others. But God wants me to know this week that he is the same today, yesterday and forever and just because the world is fallen and bad things happen (because that is the consequence of sin) that He is the same.

I tend to think that there are parameters that God doesn't generally mess with. Not that he can't but he set the laws and rules into motion when he created this planet. He gave man free will and men use that free will. Sometimes they use it negatively and against others (think child abuse and murder and... really the list is infinite, it seems) and He also set the laws of this world into place which include rules like gravity and many other forces we deal with every day. And there is plague and famine and natural disaster that are just a part of sin entering the world. But I would appeal to many ideas (even some of some of my dearest friends) that God causes suffering or is even somehow indirectly responsible. The Bible says that EVERYTHING good is from God (James 1:17). That all blessings are from God.

So right now, I am going to take refuge in the fact that God IS the same today, tomorrow and forever. That the things going on in my life that are not good are not of God. That decisions my biological father made when I was a child... they weren't of God. He did not want small children to suffer. That was a mans decision. Out of that man's heart came wickedness... not out of God's heart. Hiding under the bed to get away from a belt, that is man's wickedness. God, thank you for being the same. Thank you for all things good in my life and for carrying me through the bad. Thank you for the blessings in my life. For my husband, my children, my family and friends. For all things good, I thank you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letting go in order to move on.

I always had big dreams, as a child, of being a stay at home mom until my kids were in school. I didn't know what I would do after that but I assumed I would have 4+ kids so it would take a while to get to that point. But recently, a pretty firm decision that we will not have anymore biological children was made. Most days I am okay with that. 95% of the time I totally GET why we have made such a decision. Delivery was not easy on me with either of my boys. SR delivery, well I don't even really talk about it because it scares me what could have happened. I didn't see his birth because of an emergency c-section. There are many many reasons we have decided not to have anymore children and this decision IS what is best for our family. I feel that way strongly. But I loved pregnancy for the most part and I loved ushering new life into this world. It is an incredible thing. But I have to let go of the dream I had for myself because it is looking like it is not the same dream God has for us. And barring some miracle that includes failed birth control, we are certainly not having anymore children in the realm of soon (at least 5 yrs before we are in a position to begin the adoption process).

So I am letting go. I am selling ALL of my maternity clothes and ALL of the tiny little preemie and NB clothes and ALL of the baby stuff that SR has outgrown already. It has been kind of an emotional week going through all of the stuff I want to sell. The memories surrounding some of the tiniest outfits my sons wore (I will save my absolute favorites). The first maternity outfit I wore to a friends wedding when I was 4 mos pregnant with Super Muscles. Lots and lots of memories. I am getting rid of them though and trusting. Trusting we are making a good decision and that God's plan is bigger than our plan. And I am looking forward to the day when our family gets bigger without me getting bigger ;)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Too messed up.

Sometimes I think I am too messed up to be a good mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister... whatever. My past is a beast and I have issues climbing the mountain. My boys know I love them and I am making great strides in some personal issues but I am still so scared of screwing it all up. I am so thankful for some of my friends who have been talking me through some big things in my life lately. And I am glad to have a perfect Father who forgives me and loves me and carries me through the failings of my earthly father.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

Friday, August 21, 2009

See Mama Run

We have a cool park right down the street from our house. It is about a block away with great, brand new equipment, a shelter for picnics, tennis courts, a basketball court, benches, trees, a giant red swing for parents to enjoy while their children play. It is Victory park and it is enjoyed very much by the children in my neighborhood.
I have a friend, named Joanna, who lives in a little town near Urbana, called Thomasboro. Their park is not as great. It really isn't much of a place for her little boy to play. It has a swing set that is old and rusty, a basketball court that is falling apart and a ball field that has seen better days. And her little town is ready to do something about that! So Joanna is heading up a fund raising campaign to fix the playground and make it a great place for all of the kids in her neighborhood to play including her own. So, how can you help? Go check out Seemamarun to find out what she is up to and how you can donate. 100% of the proceeds will be used to improve West Side Park. If we all give a little, we can make a difference for many children who could really use a fun, safe place to play.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Negativity begets negativity

And conversely positivity generates even more positivity.

As a preface... I don't have it all figured out. My marriage has things in it that I need to work toward changing. I worry about things that shouldn't matter and don't in the long run and I do things that frustrate my husband. I love my marriage and I love my husband but I want to make 100% clear, I do not think I have it all figured out. And I want no illusions being put out there that my marriage is perfect and that we never struggle. And now on to our regularly scheduled blog post.

One thing I have noticed about our society in general is that, when it comes to marriage a lot of us tend to focus on the negative aspects of our relationships. I have seen plenty of relationships fail to know that this is one thing that fuels the fire of arguments and beats down husbands and wives alike. But I am not a husband and I generally don't talk to men or get to hear a mans perspective on this very often so I will stick with what I see and hear.

Now, please know that this is advice for myself too. It is conviction for myself. It is something I need to constantly work on. But what I have noticed from women is that many many of us tend to bash our husbands. Whether it be in quiet conversations in the coffee shop, to the girls at church, or on a completely public forum... I see this a lot. And what I want to say is that the way we talk about our husbands influences how we feel about them. "Venting" (a term used when women complain about things) about our husbands and their shortcomings does not serve us well to actually solve problems. It also does not allow us to look internally and see if there is something that we, as a wife, can do to help the problem. All it does is breed negativity. When we only focus on the things they don't do right, we begin to legitimately miss all the things they do well. We see dirty laundry on the floor, overflowing trash cans, frivolous spending (insert whatever annoys you) and NOT that he took the kid out to play on the swing set, saved the extra bit of mashed potatoes at dinner because he knows you love them or sent you a sweet text while at work (insert those sweet things that are unique to your husband).

So I propose we try to focus on the GREAT parts of our husbands. Those things that made us fall in love with them or that makes us fall in love with them again. An amazing sense of humor, long conversations, kindness, great daddyness, warm hugs after a hard day, great sex ;)... Whatever he does right, cling to it. Because focusing on the good makes us see the genuinely amazing parts of the men we chose to spend the rest of our lives with. It also minimizes the daily annoyances and makes us more willing to serve and love our guys. One of my life mottoes is: We can only change ourselves. So when you feel like your marriage is on a cliff and the wind is blowing just a little too hard, choose to find the positive in your mate. Choose to change how you look at the situation and I can bet you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cpl. Will Powell

R.I.P. Cpl. WIll Powell

My brother knew Cpl Will Powell better than I did. They were in the same grade and in their younger years and through high school. I knew of him. He had this big smile that I think everyone knew. My senior year, we took Spanish together and I got to see that big smile every day. He was kind and goofy. We never really were friends because he was 2 grades below me but I. remember. that. smile. And, I am sorry I will never get to see his smile again. And I am proud of the man he became and the sacrifice he gave for our country. I miss your smile Will. My prayers are with your family and friends as they go through remembering not only your life but the days surrounding when you died too.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A picture that hurts.

I have to write about this because I am not really sure what else to do or who to talk to that would understand but I really need to get it out. And I guess... who knows, maybe some random stranger can come along and help me?

I saw a picture today (that my older brother pointed me to) of my biological father and his family. It stung. It hurt. It made me angry. It made me cry (just a little). But mostly it pissed me off. There was a little girl in the picture who is my half sister (as well as 3 step-siblings) and she looks like MY sister and she has a name that is similar to mine (really really weirded me out). And she has the same smile as my nephew, Junior. And they looked happy. A happiness, that if I am honest, I don't think he deserves. And it is raw how I feel and I don't understand it.

You see, my "dad" left my family when I was 2. Then he left another family (gave the 2 children up for adoption actually) when they were small. Then he got into relationships with kids all around him and left those kids. We won't add in all the criminal activity and the time my brother lived with him and what that did to him or some of the things he did to my mom or anything like that because that would not be good for my emotional state right now. Neither would discussing how growing up being abandoned affects a person... I will just skip it.

But, tonight I am sad. And I think I am going to give myself some time to be sad and angry. Because most days I ignore it and most days I focus on my own family and not the hurts of a little girl who wanted a dad or the consequences my whole family has faced and still are facing from those decisions. But, it did affect us and it does hurt to see him smiling with a new family in a picture with a new home with a little girl who is my sister and who I should know. It just... hurts.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Already missing that kid...

and he isn't even gone yet! I am going to miss my nephew so much when he goes back home tomorrow. He is such a sweet little boy and a joy to have around. He and Super Muscles love to be together and they take good care of one another. I love to see them interact.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Worry or Worship

I have anxiety. It is kind of bad. I used to take medication for it (hated how it made me feel) and after a lot of counseling I kind of learned how to mostly handle it. I still get really sick in some situations and I do not trust people at all with my children but for the most part, I lead a pretty normal life. I just don't DO as much as other people sometimes. I am okay with it and I learn more how to break free from the grips of anxiety bit by bit, day by day.

On Sunday morning we had a guest pastor come in (our pastor is on vacation) and he did a sermon titled "Worry or Worship" and I want to share a bit about it because it actually helped me a little with my anxiety this week. The question was basically this: "When bad things happen, are you going to worry or are you going to Worship?"

To set the scene, we were in Acts 16: 16-31. In this passage, Paul removes a demon from a slave girl. The slave girl was making her masters a lot of money so they got angry with Paul and threw him and Silas into prison. Into the inner prison and shackled them to the walls. At midnight Paul and Silas were heard singing Praises and praying. Then there was an earthquake that shook everything up and released the chains from Paul and Silas and broke all of the doors of the prison open. When the guard woke and saw this, he drew his sword to kill himself (in that time, if a guard lost a prisoner he would kill himself or be killed by his bosses) and Paul tells him not to harm himself because everyone was still there. No one left. Then the guard asks Paul what he must do to be saved and Paul and Silas tell him to believe in the Lord Jesus.

I am going to remove the miracles and just focus on what I, specifically, pulled from the message on Sunday (there are many lessons in this passage). Paul and Silas were punished harshly for something that was not "wrong". In fact, what they did was godly and miraculous. Just like sometimes we fall onto times that are hard and what we are going through feels like punishment. When I had Slobber Rocket and my older son was hours away in an emergency room being cared for by people that love him but who were not me and my husband. It was horrible and I wondered why I was being "punished" with a c-section, emotional scars from how my baby came into this world and a very sick little boy hours away from us. My husband also had to go to the ER because he was ill too. Just like so many times when I was a child and had bad things happen to me at the hands of people who were supposed to care for me... the list goes on and most people/if not all can say the same and just insert different details. But what was unique about Paul and Silas is what they did in the midst of their storm. They were up at a time when they should be sleeping praying and singing to God. They could have been up worrying about how they were going to get through this, they could have been making all kinds of earthly plans for how to get through it (not saying that is a bad idea generally) but they weren't. They were praising God in the middle of a bad circumstance. And guess what? God showed up!

Even more strange... a whole prison full of people stayed put when the doors were opened by the earthquake. Why? What on Earth is up with that. I fully believe that when the spirit of God is present, you want to be there. I think the other prisoners saw Paul and Silas worshiping and witnessed a miracle so great that they could not deny the power of God. And so they listened to Paul and Silas when they (presumably) were asked to stay.

No, this doesn't heal the fact that I have anxiety. I am fully confident that God could heal that part of my mind and body. I still have anxiety everyday. I still have irrational fears allowing others' to take care of my children. I still get sick to my stomach and sometimes I even stay home instead of doing some things because I just can't make myself be in a specific situation. Hey, I am putting myself out there today. But if that isn't how it helps me, I bet you are wondering it why it helped me. This story and the sermon reinforced in me that I always have a choice in how to respond to things. For me, I have to work against my nature and illness to make the good choice or right choice sometimes but I CAN do it. I won't do it every time. I won't always choose to worship. Some days I will choose to worry and my body and my brain will win out over my desire to worship. But, the more I choose to worship, the easier it will be to continue to choose that path. And when I make the choice, which often times goes against my own nature, God will show up. And that has given me peace this week. It has helped me make good decisions this week even when, many times, I completely dreaded what I was about to do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Twins for the week

So, I am going to be a bit busy for the week. This week I am entertaining not one, but TWO, 3.5 yr olds. My nephew, Junior, is here visiting us ALL week! What a joy that little boy has been for the 3 days he has been here. We have already had lots of fun! On Sat we went and got lunch and went grocery shopping. Then we went to a friends for a cookout. This is where my son and his cousin ran around in circles yelling "doody" at the top of their lungs. It was AWESOME! Yesterday we went to church, lunch with friends, took naps then we went to the softball fields and played while Mr. Wonderful had practice with a few people. Then home for banana pancakes. Junior was rather impressed! Today we have gone to Curtis Orchard (pics to come soon I hope) already and had lunch. Kiddos are getting a nap to get revved up for the park and softball games tonight. Mr. Wonderful and I both have a tournament game tonight but the boys should have lots of other children to play with. They will love it!

Anyway, having 3 kids in our 98 cutlass has been interesting... and back breaking. And having two children who are the same age (15 days apart to be exact) and who are best buddies is kind of tiring but definitely fun. While I would totally take two 3.5 yr olds with no problem. I don't know how moms of twins do it with babies. I find that incredibly impressive.

Thankfully Slobber Rocket slept better last night than he had in a few days and he got a good nap this morning. I pray he continues sleeping well or this week will be long. I look forward to seeing what the rest of this week has in store for us and I look forward to all the fun things we have planned together. I miss my nephew dearly when he is away and am so glad I get to spend a whole week with him!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Facing Fears

My Super Muscles is notorious for being scared. Particularly of loud noises but he also has other fears. One such fear, is a fear of... MONSTERS! I don't even know where the turkey learned about monsters since we don't watch much tv and certainly nothing scary. But somehow, he did learn about monsters. We were dealing with this shortly before Slobber Rocket was born and it was consuming our little boy. He was constantly thinking about the monsters in his room. I would tell him that there were none or that we made them leave the house or... whatever I needed to say to get him to sleep.

So, right around Super Muscles birthday (which is 9 days after Slobber Rockets) we were opening gifts from family since we had missed Christmas with them. And one of the gifts Super Muscles opened was...
Enter the puppet we lovingly refer to as "Crazy Monster". He was a gift from my Aunt and Uncle and just what my little scared boy needed. Once we named him and got the big kid calm enough to play with him and use the puppet we started having a dialogue about how unscary monsters were. "Crazy Monster" is silly and only wants to make little boys and girls laugh and have fun! So now when he gets scared, we refer back to "Crazy Monster" and he makes bed time a little easier (night stars too but that is a different story).

Here is what reminded me of "Crazy Monster" this evening,...
And just because my kids are pretty darn cute... here are a couple more pictures :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

kind of bummed today

Today I am feeling kind of down. I don't know if I can accurately explain it but I will try. I am shy... no, really... I am. I know people don't think that about me sometimes because once I get to know someone I talk a lot. I am also in a stage of life that I don't find many people in around here. I am a young (23) parent of two boys who is finding it difficult to make friends. I have one friend here that I know that I know that I know I can count on if I ever need something. She is the same friend who I actually trust to watch my children. I don't have family close. I have church but... again, not many people in our boat. Not do discount the friendships I have through church and how amazing the church we go to is. But I still feel... lonely. I have lots of people who are more than willing to do things with me and my children but I haven't really clicked with many people here or found a group of close friends who I can call when I need someone to help cheer me up.

The kicker... I know a lot of it is my fault. I am hesitant to meet people and to open up. I don't trust people very easily. And I don't like to admit that I sometimes need help with my children.

I have tried to change this about myself so many times. I am just not sure how to make it stick. But if I don't open up and make some friends, I imagine I am going to feel this way for however long we have left here then for however long we are in a new place, etc.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some Goals

Recently I have been trying to think of some things I would like to accomplish. I think having goals focuses your life in a way where you can improve. And, I think one of the main purposes in life is to improve over time. To learn new lessons, to live better, to love better... to improve. So here are some ways that I wish to improve over the next several months:

1) Spend less time on the computer. I think by doing this my house will be cleaner ;) I am really good about not ignoring my children but I ignore housework in favor of the computer often.
2) Continue making healthier choices about food. I have recently gotten rid of all caffeine in my diet and am now working on getting rid of that last bit of soda I drink (maybe 1 caffeine free, clear soda a week). I would like to focus on arranging our budget to where I can purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables and also really start training myself to like healthier foods. I did not grow up eating how I would like to eat so I have a lot of old habits to break.
3) Lose 15 more lbs. This will include continuing to work out (adding some gym time) and being strict about what I eat, when I eat and why I eat.
4) Remodel bathroom... this is a big goal for me because it is something that could really increase the value of our home when we sell in a few years. Ultimately I would like to do everything with the help of friends except the plumbing (we need some pretty extensive reworking of the plumbing in the tub).
5) Get a dSLR and learn about photography. Hopefully take a class locally.

So that is it... those are the goals I plan to focus on over the next several mos. At least 6 mos. Keep me honest and ask me how I am doing sometime.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Win free BGs and babylegs!

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