Ian & Larissa: Thoughts on Living a Selfless Life

 

I haven’t been able to get over this story since I saw this video a few days ago on facebook. It has been haunting me.

It is the story of a young couple, Ian and Larissa, that met in college. After dating for several months, and preparing for engagement, they experienced a huge trauma that would probably shake most relationships. Ian was in a car accident that left him with a brain injury, unable to walk or talk, but Larissa stayed with him. They were engaged, married, and now through therapy he is walking and is able to communicate with his wife. Continue reading

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Singing in the Rain

 

It’s raining. The drops are gently hitting the leaves one at a time, and all at the same time. The rough, mossy bark of the trees that line the edge of the field is dark and wet, and everything green is bright and alive. A light breeze is moving and the air is cool and misty. I close my eyes and invite my senses to breathe it all in, slow and deep.

Based on that description, where do you think I am?

Would you have ever guessed that I am sitting on the balcony of our little two-bedroom apartment that overlooks the small yard and woods behind our building? And that on the other side of the trees is the HIGHWAY? Through the branches semi trucks, and cars of all kinds whiz past constantly. I can hear each one, even when I’m inside with the windows shut.

When friends visit for the first time, some of them say “wow, how can you sleep with the highway right there?” And some say, “what a beautiful view of the trees,” which is what we said the day we looked at this apartment. That is because the world around us is all a matter of perspective.

I know the highway is right there, the noise makes it obvious. But I can still close my eyes and focus on the calm that is the barrier between me and the busy road. Instead of loud cars and trucks, I can hear and see the Cardinal on the tree in front of me chirping his little heart out. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the noise, he is gathering sticks and things for his nest. He is still going about his business as a bird. He is still singing, loud and proud.

Stress doesn’t have to define our outlook and our attitude. It doesn’t have to debilitate us. We decide what we let in, we have a choice. It doesn’t mean those things will go away if we change our focus. More than likely, many of those things will still be there, the highway is not going anywhere, that’s for sure. But it also doesn’t mean that by accepting what we can’t change, we allow bad things and toxic relationships to continue to interfere, just like I don’t lose sleep over the noise of the road.

What it does mean is that we can put up a peaceful barrier between us and the mess. We can have boundaries. Sometimes this is simply a change of mind, we change the direction of our thoughts with positive messages instead of the negative ones we are exposed to, as I focus on the beautiful nature surrounding me instead of the highway. Other times this means putting an actual distance between us and the stressor. In some cases, this is necessary just for a short while to gain strength against the negativity, but sometimes a permanent distance is best if that stressor constantly causes too much disruption.

At the end of the day, you may not have complete control over your surroundings, your job, or the bad events that inevitably happen to all of us because the world, and it’s troubles, still exist. But you do have complete control over the most important part, YOU.

We can always choose to take a deep breath, we can feel the cool breeze, and soak in the beauty around us. Despite the chaos, we can keep singing in the rain.

 

Redeeming Pain

I wanted to share a few pieces today from a blogger friend of mine, Katie. She is a wonderful mother of an adorable little boy, Isaiah, and a great example of faith. Katie and her husband Daniel have recently been through some crazy cool God stuff, and I know many of you can relate to her story. She is vulnerable and honest in her words, I hope you are encouraged and strengthened through them. Enjoy…

Monday, October 7th

It’s been a week since the M word. We are steadily getting back to normal. Last Sunday was awful. The worst. I would not wish losing a baby on anyone, even a person I thought shouldn’t be allowed to procreate, I still would not wish loss of life on them.

SO many women in my life have shared their own miscarriage stories with me. Seriously, SO. MANY. WOMEN. Too many women have endured this awful, heart rending pain. There is a sense of solidarity with those other mothers who know this pain. Women I would have described as strong, noble, faithful, passionate followers of Christ. Women who proclaim with their lives, and their families, and their lifestyles, and their language, and their humility, a deep-seeded love and trust for the One True God. Women whose lives have been rocked and scarred and yet still they proclaim that God is good; that He is faithful always. No matter how life on earth turns out, He is faithful. Always. He can be nothing BUT faithful.

I want to be a woman like these in my life. I want my children to “rise and call me blessed” (Prov. 31:28) because of the example I set. Because of the language I speak. Because I pointed to God. Because God’s faithfulness was always on my lips. I will take what the enemy intended for evil, what the enemy thought would tear me down or break my spirit or forever break my heart and I will say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21

Thursday, December 26th

Friday the 13th was an exciting day because it was my first official OB-GYN appointment. Daniel and I had known for several weeks that I had gotten pregnant right after the miscarriage so it was exciting to know that today I’d get to hear baby’s heartbeat. I needed to hear that heartbeat to wash away the leftover shards of fear the miscarriage had left behind. From the start this pregnancy has been so different than my pregnancy with the baby I miscarried. I have had significantly stronger symptoms. No nausea or morning sickness (thank you Lord) but oh, the heartburn. This baby was making him/herself known from the start!

My awesome midwife-turned-doctor squirted the doppler goop on my belly and very quickly found that heartbeat. It was music to my ears. The tears started to fall and my doctor gently squeezed my hand. I told her I was crying happy tears but she said she knew they were happy tears born out of sadness. Then she started pressing on my belly. She pressed for a few minutes and said, “Remind me again, how far along are you?” I said, “Well, we don’t technically know. I think I’m 10 weeks. The miscarriage was a little over 11 weeks ago so I can’t be much farther along than 10 weeks.” She pressed a few more times then said, “I know everything is fine because the heartbeat was so strong, but let’s get you in for an ultrasound and see if we can get an accurate due date.”

Once we were back in the ultrasound room, the technician dimmed the lights, squirted more doppler goop on my belly and very quickly our little baby appeared on the screen. Except it looked like our little baby was encased in a bubble with another white blob looking thing directly underneath it. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking at. 

And then came the phrase we least expected to hear, “You’re having twins.”

She sent us on our way with a fistful of ultrasound pictures and our worlds are forever rocked and changed. Every once in awhile it’ll hit me and I’ll start to cry or worry or fear and I have to remind myself that God equips those who ask Him to. God gave us the privilege of parenting multiples, He’ll supply our needs when the time comes.

I love that. God brought them through the pain of loss, and is literally bringing double the joy. Thank you Katie for the reminder that He is faithful. Always. Even when the story doesn’t end like this one, He can still be nothing BUT faithful 🙂

Waiting: Impatience and Negative Pregnancy Tests

 

***Please know that this is only to share what God is teaching me through MY story. In no way am I judging anyone who has gone through the painful task of fertility treatments, or has decided to adopt. I fully believe God definitely works through these ways as well – any child, no matter how they were conceived, is ABSOLUTELY a gift from Him***

I waited impatiently, mostly nervous, and a little excited, for the double pink lines to appear in the tiny window on the take-home, plastic pregnancy test.

One line slowly got darker. And I waited.

Was that a second line? Or was I seeing things? Waiting, waiting. Continue reading

Understand, or Be Understanding?

Marriage is hard enough, add kids to the mix, and life gets totally crazy.

One afternoon we were in the car on a long ride home, and we were talking about how we felt things were going. I was talking about my long days, my overwhelming schedule and to-do list, and that there had to be a better way to do things. My husband began doing what many husbands do in that situation, he started offering solutions, and comparing his day at work to my days at home.

I was getting irritated, my words were getting jumbled, and I felt even more stressed about the conversation. After some fumbling through my thoughts and feelings, I finally figured out the cause of my frustration, I just wanted him to be understanding. Let me explain.

I was essentially venting about my day.

My husband was trying to relate by comparing my work to his work.

This made me feel like he was minimizing my stress, when what he was trying to do was to convey that he understood. Continue reading

Seeking God {In the Busy Life of a Mom}

Your relationship with God is the most important relationship in your life and should get the most investment.

Think about that. For all of the time you spend changing diapers, wiping noses, fixing meals, cleaning up meals, and so on, not including taking care of yourself or your marriage, and friends and family, God should get more.

What about days when you have no more to give? Or days when it doesn’t go that well?

Most of the time it feels like a battle that I win some days, and lose most. When you’re busy all day long, and you run on the schedule of a toddler (or two, or more, of all ages), getting quiet time is extremely hard.

I am finding that the balance between expectations and reality is tricky. Having a child, I have seen that it is impossible to expect that relationships go perfectly and according to plan. But even when I don’t get long, uninterrupted conversations with my husband, it doesn’t mean that I stop trying to talk to Him. That’s when things really go wrong! We just keep trying, even in the middle of chaos.

When life is crazy, you have to get creative. This is something that I think is a life-time of adjustment and balance. Constantly adjusting our plan, and balancing it all, to avoid expecting too much, or giving too much. Here are some ways I’m learning to allow God to be my whole day, and not just part of it…

  1. Turn the radio off. The car is one of the best places for me to pray. If it’s been awhile since I have taken time to talk with God, I switch the radio off and pray.
  2. Turn the TV off. We’ve talked many times about getting rid of our TV. The first few years of our marriage we didn’t have one at all, and those were the best years! We had so many adventures. Turn it off, and do Step #3.
  3. Be in the moment. This is a hard one sometimes. Being in the moment, appreciating the beauty of nature, or the smiles of your children as they play, all remind us of the God we serve.
  4. Say thank you. Having a roof over your head, food on your table, clothes on your back, and another day to live are more than many in the world have on a day-to-day basis. Thank Him for those dirty dishes, and piles of laundry, they are the result of warm bodies and full bellies.
  5. Pray about the big and little things. God absolutely cares about every part of your day, and He is there in it, so allow Him to be with you. Pray, and pray constantly.
  6. Get up early, or stay up late. I am most alert and creative in the morning, so getting up an hour earlier is usually a good time to read or pray. Staying up later sometimes works too, depending on what kind of day we’ve had! He doesn’t care, either way.
  7. Be still. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Think about how often you are still. If you are like me, I am busy almost constantly. Being still is not something I like to do, or do well. Sit outside, or on the couch, and be still, listening for anything He may want to tell you.
  8. Ask. If you really struggle focusing on Him, or giving up control, or expectations. Pray about those as well. There have been many times I’ve prayed,

    “God, I want to improve my relationship with you, but I am out of energy, I feel exhausted, and I just don’t know how to be closer to you. Show me ways I can do that because I know that my life is so much better when you are at the center.”

Blessings to your day!

Lessons in Life: Have Random Dance Breaks

The music starts, and the boogie-ing begins.

My little guy loves to dance. He waves his hands, and twists and turns. Occasionally he stops and does a little booty bouncing up and down. Whether it’s the radio, his baby piano app on my iphone, or a jingle on TV, he appreciates the happiness and the freedom music brings.

What I love most about his love for music and dancing is that he is uninhibited. His face lights up with joy and he expresses that by dancing. He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. His moves aren’t coordinated or choreographed, he doesn’t do the famous “Sprinkler” or the “Dougie,” he just dances.

Continue reading