Friday, February 19, 2016

Blessings Part 2

It's amazing to me how we can think that we know what we need and we are actually so wrong.  God knows us so much better than we know ourselves.  And often what we need is so much harder to get to but the reward is so much greater than anything we could imagine.

When I look at who I want to be and what I want my family to look like I can paint a pretty clear picture for you.  And I've had my own way of getting there.  But God has been breaking down that way and showing me HIS way.  His way is so much harder, but so much fuller. 

These past six weeks have been life changing for me in so many ways.  God has ripped open my heart and revealed so much to me.  More and more this place is feeling like home.  More and more I am seeing His purpose in bringing us here.  I still don't have a complete understanding of why we're here, and it's possible that I never will, but I know that He is accomplishing things in me he never could have back in Chicago.

I've talked so much about my family and how I am viewing my role as a mom differently.  And it's so true.  Whereas before I would turn to my friends for comfort and encouragement, now I am turning to my family and to God.  Don't get me wrong, I still strongly believe in the importance of community, but I am also so thankful for the blessing of family and I am learning to enjoy them so much more.  I'm having fun developing traditions for just the five of us.  My marriage has been strengthened so much by our time here.  Just recently Brad commented that he has seen a part of my heart that he never saw before we moved here.  I have seen my husband step up in ways I've never experienced before.  I have seen him truly take the lead as the spiritual head of our family.  It's a beautiful, messy, hard, wonderful work that is being done in our family.

But there is even more being done.  I am getting to know my Savior more.  The community that we are so blessed to be a part of is just amazing.  I have never seen people care for each other this way before.  It is so hard to put into words what an amazing, special place this is.  And I am so thankful to be a part of it.  I see the hands and feet of Jesus lived out in this community every day.  I see God's people broken and I cannot ignore it.  I have come to realize that where we used to live, it was so easy to ignore certain group of hurting people.  Here, that's not possible.  There are children in my son's class who cannot afford a winter coat.  Children in my community who don't have running water or electricity.  And my heart breaks for them.  They cannot be ignored because I am faced with them almost every day.  Sure, I can still turn away, but God is breaking my heart.  Just like his heart breaks for them.  And I honestly don't know what that means for me or my family, but I know that God is turning this into something beautiful.  I am catching a glimpse of God's heart lived out through his people and it is truly a beautiful thing.  I cannot wait to see what part he will have me play, but for now I will sit back and allow him to do his work in me to prepare me for what is to come.

In closing, I want to leave you with the words to the song that Brad and I have dubbed our "Rehoboth Song."  We sang this song at church on our first Sunday here.  In the middle of the song, we both looked at each other over the tops of our sons' heads with tears streaming down our faces, knowing that this is where God wants us.  And we have no idea what lies ahead, but we are His and so we will trust.

Oceans by Hillsong
 You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and you won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Mexico Update

"So, how are things going?"

I hate this question.  I get asked this a lot in reference to our move.  It's a good question, and I love that people are interested to hear how it has been for us since we moved.  But I never know how to answer.

Things are good.  Brad loves his job and is really flourishing in the hospital setting.  We joined a wonderful church that is like a breath of fresh air to us at a time when we were feeling wounded and weary.  We live in a wonderful community with lots of kids just down the street.  I've been welcomed into a wonderful circle of friends and we are leading a great small group.  Time and time again we have seen these people come through for each other and others in need.  It is truly an example of what God wants the Church to be and we are so thankful to be part of it.  Micah goes to a great preschool two mornings a week where he is flourishing.  The boys are so happy to be living in an area with so much wonderful beauty and opportunities to get out in nature.  They play outside daily and we go on family hikes whenever we can.  The love getting dirty and exploring their new surroundings.  Things have been going really well.

This is the answer everyone wants to hear.  All of these things are true and we are so grateful for that.  But it's not the whole truth.

The truth is I'm floundering.  When this opportunity was first presented to us, Brad and I were so excited at all of the possibilities.  We knew we would love the area and the people we would meet.  We were excited about the opportunity to serve in the community.  We were confident that God was going to use us and work in us in big ways.  We just weren't sure what those ways were.  But we also knew the reality of the situation, and we talked about it a great deal.

While this move could mean one step closer to financial freedom for us, it would come at a cost.  Brad would be gone 11 hours every day.  I know to many people that is nothing.  But to me that is huge.  I have always known that I couldn't marry a firefighter who might be away from his home for days at a time.  I couldn't marry a  man who had to travel a lot for his job.  I wanted my husband home with his family as much as possible.  One of the reasons we disliked Brad's old job so much was because of how inflexible they were with his time.  He missed so much because he had to work weekends or couldn't easily take time off for family events.  While Brad is now home every weekend, he misses most of the week.  He often leaves right after breakfast and comes home as I am putting the boys to bed.  I'm not used to this.  I don't like this.  Raising three young boys and being pregnant is exhausting.  I'm weary.  By time I'm putting the boys to bed, I'm at the end of my rope.  And I often go to bed myself thinking I have to do it all over again tomorrow.  My partner is missing.  And it's hard.

I've also discovered I am a suburban girl through and through.  I've always dreamed of being a country girl, but I think this is too country for me.  I'm used to endless playdates, Bible study, mom's group, Target trips, Chick-fil-A, countless parks, small group, committees, family parties, mom's nights out, and the list goes on.  I always had something to fill my time.  But here I don't have that.  Don't get me wrong, I have a mom's group, we're part of a small group, I attend a Bible study, but it's not the same.  I am home with the boys way more than I ever was before.  And it's been a hard adjustment.  When I am tired of looking at the four walls of my own house, I have no where to go.  There are no breaks.

But the hardest part is that I thought we were going to be used by God in a big way.  I thought we were going to find a hole in ministry that we filled perfectly.  That has not been the case.  I'm sure there are opportunities that I am unaware of, but the reality of my situation has made it difficult to be used in the ways in which we thought we would be.

And I found myself being angry at God.  Why?  Why did he bring us here?  I sacrificed so much, and for what?  I thought we were doing what he wanted us to do.  I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I thought he was going to bless us.  I thought he was going to see us through.  I thought he would be faithful.  And I just haven't been feeling any of that.  For about a month, my poor husband never knew who he was coming home to.  Was I going to spend all night crying about how I wanted to go home?  Was I going to be mad because he made us come here?  I did everything God wanted me to do, so why wasn't he keeping his end of the deal?

But then I started to think about it.  There is one thing in this life I am certain of.  I know who God wants me to be.  I know God wants me to be a mom.  I have been uniquely gifted to be the mom that my little boys need.  I have always known this.  I've never wanted anything more.  I want so much for my children.  I want them to grow up to love the Lord with all their hearts.  I want them to love his people and to see them with his eyes.  I want them to find their home to be a safe haven.  A place where they feel safe and comfortable.  A place where it's okay to mess up because they know they are loved unconditionally by their Heavenly Father and by their parents.  I want them to learn how God has uniquely gifted them to be used by him.  And all of this takes time and a lot of energy.  It takes a lot of focused time, time spent pouring into them even when I feel like I have nothing left to give.  And in Chicago, I was distracted.  Distracted by good things, but distracted nonetheless.  Every time I brought them to a playdate or we attended another Bible study.  These are all good things, things I want my children to be part of and to see me be part of, but I was doing it in excess and that made them bad things.  And you might think I just need to say no more often, but I didn't know how.  I didn't want to.  I was afraid of being stuck home all day alone with my children with nothing to do.  I was afraid of boredom.  And of failure.  Being home means it's all up to me and what if I fail?

So, I firmly believe, God had to take me out of that place, away from those distractions in order to force me to stay home and truly focus on my family.  Something my heart has desired all along but I have been afraid of.  When I feel like I am losing my patience and I can't take one more minute, I can't run to Target.  I have to deal with it.  When my kids are going crazy because it snowed AGAIN and they haven't seen anyone who doesn't share their DNA in days I can't run to the park or the nearest Chick-fil-A.  I have to deal with it.  I have to take time to teach them how to resolve their conflict.  To come up with fun new things to play.  If I'm feeling worn out and I want time by myself, I don't have MOPS to look forward to or a coffee date with my best friend.  I have to force myself to keep on keeping on.  And it is hard.  So, so hard.  But I am already seeing the benefits of it.  I am seeing God's blessings.  When I sit down and truly evaluate where we are now versus where we were six months ago, I can see God's faithfulness.  I see how well my boys get along.  I see how much they look forward to our time spent together.  I see how Judah goes to his big brother for comfort or help.  I see how Micah cuddles up in my lap and tells me how much he loves me and then wants to talk about Heaven or the Bible or Jesus.  I see how God has put in my heart Scripture that I can use when disciplining or instructing the boys.  I see how my marriage has grown and strengthened because we have to lean on each other more now than ever before.  And I see the possibilities.  I see how my homeschooling can flourish because I am away from all those distractions.  I see how my relationship with God can strengthen because I don't have those things stealing my time (don't get me wrong..there are always things stealing my time, but not being home enough is no longer one of them).  And I see how I am surrounded by like minded people and I am encouraged.  I see that God truly did have a plan through all of this, it's just a little different than what we were expecting.

And it's still hard.  And I still get angry and frustrated and upset.  It's hard when you're being molded.  But pottery has to go through the fire to come out the beautiful end product.  And I still will jump at any chance I have to go back home, but I'm recognizing this place for what it is.  And I'm finding the beauty in it.  And I see God's faithfulness and I have the promise that he will continue to be faithful, and each day it makes it a little bit easier.  I don't know if this place will every completely feel like home, but I know without a doubt someday I will look back on this time and I will sing of God's faithfulness and how he brought me through the fire so that I could be the woman he wanted me to be, and I will be forever grateful.

Friday, January 1, 2016


I know it's been quite a while since I last updated.  A lot has been going on and I've wanted to write, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  But I am determined that this year I am going to more consistently write.  So, I'm starting the year off on the right foot!

New Year's is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the newness of it.  I love looking ahead at the year and seeing a blank slate.  Knowing that I have the power to determine how it will be filled.  I love the fresh start that it brings, the chance to set new goals.  In the past I have made a list of several goals that I want to accomplish in the new year.  These goals ranged from reading a certain number of books to eating healthy to writing a certain number of letters each month.  While making goals like this can be a good thing, several years ago I stopped making goals.  Instead, I chose one word to focus on for the whole year.  This word drives my goal setting.  It helps me focus on an idea rather than something I have to do.  It's not something I can perfect so I don't feel like such a failure when I forget. 

Several months ago, God brought a word to my mind and I instantly knew it would be my word for 2016.  The word is joy.  Honestly, joy is something I have not experienced a lot of lately. 

When we first moved to New Mexico I was full of excitement over all the new things we were going to do and place we were exploring.  I didn't mind all of the time home alone with the kids.  But after a while I started to sink into monotony.  First I got bored, then I got frustrated and discouraged.  I stopped making the most of my time and instead gave in to self-pity.  I wasn't finding joy in my family and I wasn't doing things that brought me joy.  And things got worse and worse.  I was so focused on myself and how much I miss my friends and family at home that I was missing out on the wonderful things that are right here in front of me.  I'm sure this is all a normal part of adjusting to such a drastic move, but it's not how I want to live my life.

So I have decided to choose joy.  Instead of focusing on all that I miss about our old life "back home," I'm going to focus on the wonderful new experiences I have here.  I'm going to stop worrying about all the things I "should" be doing and start spending more time doing the things that bring me joy.  Things like reading.  And writing.  Baking.  Playing games.  I will never be okay with my husband being gone 11 hours every day, but I get to choose how I spend that time with my children.  I'm going to spend it doing things that I enjoy.  Coloring with them.  Doing puzzles.  Going on adventures.

Joy is a choice.  I get to choose my attitude.  I'm not saying that it's going to be easy.  I know that some days will end in a big pity part.  And that's okay because I will give myself grace.  But I don't want to miss out on this time that I have.  I want to have fun and enjoy this life that I've been given.  I want to laugh more.  And I am looking forward to seeing all that 2016 has in store for me.