Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cherished Childhood Memories & Using your Imagination

Today as I played with my daughter I was reminded of my childhood and a few of my most cherished memories come from using my imagination with my siblings. Kyle and I both agree that the toys Brielle will own must provide her with a variety of ways to develop a vivid imagination. In order to develop that imagination we know that we must steer clear from a ton of TV time and allow time for building, pretending, reading, and outside time.

My most cherished memories come from reading series like Little House on the Prairie with my mom, building Lego Towns with my siblings, building roads in the dirt for our Hot Wheel cars, playing house with the wooden refrigerator and stove top my grandpa made me, dressing up and playing "old timey" with my sisters, picking outfits and decorating the Barbie house, turning the park into a water park with buckets of water we carried from our yard to the slide, riding our bikes through the dirt bike trails over and over again... none of these memories revolve around what movie or TV show we watched on a daily basis. Our TV time was every Saturday morning when we watched Loony Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Roadrunner, and Little House on the Prairie.

I do not plan on plopping my daughter in front of the television in order to occupy her time. Even now when she's awake I get out her tub of toys and we make noises, read books, smile and coo. I'm beyond excited for each milestone and part of the joy of being a parent is to be able to PLAY AGAIN! :)

I am so excited to share in the joy of everything I did as a child with my own child....

I am so excited to be able to get out a tub of Lego's and build houses, cars, and towns.

I am so excited to "eat" the "food" my daughter prepares for me on my grandpa's homemade stove top.

I am so excited to build towers with building blocks.

I am so excited to watch her excitement grow as we turn pages in a book.

I am so excited to share in the joy of the outdoors - camping, hiking, playing in the sprinkler, going swimming, climbing, swinging....

I am so excited to open the suitcase full of play jewelry, goofy hats, and silly dresses and take pictures of the outfits she creates.

I am so excited to color, paint and create projects with her.

I am so excited to teacher her how to make cookies and enjoy the dough and cookies with milk.

I am so excited to take her to a zoo.

I am so excited to take her to a children's museum.

I am so excited to dress up and fix the hair of her little dolls.

I am so excited to teach her to ride a bike.

I am so excited to see who can swing the highest and how fast we can go down a slide.

I am so excited for tea parties.

My excitement grows as I think of all the things we're going to do!

Hopefully her imagination and excitement will grow as she develops a love for playing AND learning. So parents I challenge you, as I too take on this challenge, to provide opportunities galore where your children USE THEIR IMAGINATION! It will help them far beyond what you could possibly imagine.

How will it benefit them?

As a teacher I notice a HUGE difference between the students whose parents spent time doing things with them, or providing opportunities to use their imagination, and reading with them, etc. versus the kids who spent the majority of their childhood in front of the TV or playing video games. Take the challenge, your kids will thank you some day!

I know I thank my parents when I look back on my childhood memories....

Friday, December 28, 2012

7 MORE Mommy BFF's

I wrote about 7 items that became my "best friends" after being a brand new mommy for 7 days. (Here's the link if you don't remember or didn't see that blog: 7 New Mom BFF's) Now that I've been a mommy for almost 100 days (99 to be exact) I have a few more items to add to that list!
  1. iPhone - Now I know this sounds crazy, but I'm dead serious. I do not know what I would do without it. To keep me from boredom while breast feeding I cruise through Pinterest, Facebook, my Food Network app, play a game or two... it helps pass the time there. Plus, I set alarms reminding myself to wash the disposable diapers, or check the bread as it's rising (it's so easy to get distracted as you take care of your little one).  She LOVES the PlayTales app and I play the "Crazy Farm" book over and over again. She'll start smiling and kicking her feet once she figures out where all those noises (barn yard animal sounds!) are coming from. I also keep a lullaby mix I made from iTunes on my music which I'll play in the vehicle or as I'm rocking her and I'll hum along. The ability to take pictures and video's is just a click away since it's always near me and I'm pleasantly surprised at the quality! Instagram is also a new favorite because I can share those pictures of her beautiful little face with family and friends. My mom and Aunt Sydnie seem to be her biggest fans. :) If I have a concern I search webmd, babycenter, or any number of websites out there that offer advice on Gripe, gas drops, fever, etc. Plus my mom and fellow mommy's are only a text away if I need a question answered. There's so many reasons I love having a smart phone as a new mommy.
  2. Mobile - My sister gave me her mobile that plays music, lights up, and has animals that move around and she LOVES it. If she's grumpy and rubbing her eyes, I put her in her crib, turn on this mobile, and it's an instant smile, cooing, and kicking around.
  3. Bath Sponge - She quickly out grew her bathtub that fit in the sink. So we fill the tub and use this bath sponge (found at Kmart for only $6).
  4. Hooded Towels - I'm not talking about the dinky one's that are tiny and thin. I'm talking a regular sized towel with a hood to wrap them up in. I've had a few that were home made by a talented seamstress, but there are places that sell quality hooded towels. Find them. It's worth it.
  5. Grow-an-Inch Onsies - Kmart sells these onsies that have two sets of snap buttons, so the onsies actually fit a rapidly growing baby for more than one month!
  6. Vix (cool, no filter) Humidifier - They are kinda noisy (which I hated at first) until I realized that it was excellent white noise. It's easy to fill and the vix pads work amazingly well. She's had a stuffy nose for the last 3 days and I truly believe it's helped her breath easier.
  7. Bobby Pillow - I love it to help her in sitting up (which she's insisting on doing lately) and she can't do it on her own just yet. And I use it to wrap around my waist as I feed her - she's getting heavier and heavier, so this helps support her weight without being exhausting on my arms.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

8-14 Weeks & MORE Firsts!

Time flies.

Everyone told me it would and I believed them, but I cannot believe that my Baby Girl is already 14 weeks old. She's getting so big and doing so much! I'm soaking it all up, enjoying every last cuddle time, because I know it won't last.

I absolutely love being a mommy! Even when she keeps me up late, wakes me up early, or spits up all over me. I'm loving every minute of it.

A dear friend gave me a baby calendar and I'm so thankful to have it. I keep a pen attached to it using it to write down her firsts and in the blank spaces I write, "This month you...." I'm realizing that I'm forgetting little things ALREADY. So this helps me to remember things I don't ever want to forget.

During the month of November she...
  • ... discovered her knuckles. She loves to suck on them. In fact, she sucks on them so vigorously that she gags herself occasionally.
  • ... began to smile directly at mommy and daddy, melting our hearts.
  • ... experienced her first Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house. She loved the attention from Aunt Sydnie and Grandma Tammy, who "fought" over who was going to change her diaper, or hold her, or cuddle with her as she caught some zzzzz's....
  • ... weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs 10 oz. and measured 20" in length. She's still so tiny! In the lower percentile for her age. She's definitely taking after her mommy here.
During the month of December she...
  • ... began to squeal when she's excited! So absolutely adorable.
  • ... coo's along when I sing to her. I showed Poppy during FaceTime one afternoon, he seemed so proud.
  • ... grabs things - anything - blankets, clothing, hair, jewelry, etc. and guess what she does with it? Yup. Instantly brings it to her mouth.
  • ... was already pushing herself from her tummy to her back at 11 weeks!
  • ... turned 12 weeks the week of 12-12-12! Cool!
  • ... giggled for the first time on Christmas Eve. Such a wonderful present! It was the highlight of the holiday. Melted my heart ten times over.
Of course, I took a few pictures and captured a few moments on video these last few weeks....

She always has that silly tongue out!
One of my absolute favorites.

Another one of my favorites...

Always has those hands in her face...
Always in motion.

Such chubby cheeks!

Like I said, always in motion!
Again with the tongue...
Look at that chunky monkey!
Marley cuddled up next to her - all by himself! Now he'll go and check on her after every noise she makes, it's so cute!
Quigley puts his head on her lap when their in the vehicle and stares at her face. She loves it!
She loves to sit up with the help of her boppy pillow and take in her surroundings. Watching the dogs is a favorite...
Sleeping beauty....
When we were at grandma and grandpa's house we watched daddy ride their horse. She was fascinated with all the barnyard animals, and was as sung as a bug in a rug and fell fast asleep!
Her tights were so big on her! I do not understand why they make 0-9 month tights with the weight range of 5-18 pounds. Could you imagine a 5 lb baby in these?! LOL
Cousin Alexi LOVED holding her!
Christmas dress from Grandma!
Cousin Alexi was dressed to match. So Cute!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

Kyle started calling her Briella Bean after her first few weeks of life, then one day out of the blue he asked her a question and ended it with, "Huh? Bean Dip?" Now that one has stuck as well! Poor thing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Canceled Debt

Yesterday I finished reading the story of the woman who kissed Jesus' feet and washed his feet with her hair, in Luke 7:36 to the end of the chapter. I've heard this story countless times and yesterday after reading it I couldn't stop thinking about why she did it.

Jesus explains it all, but I have never, in all the years of knowing this story understood her reasoning or paid that much attention to what JESUS SAID. (Perhaps I ignored that part?) But, in the past I wondered, why on earth would you kiss someone's feet? Or wash them with your own hair?

To show your gratefulness! In those days washing someone's feet was an act of a servant. This simple act of washing His feet was the ultimate form of "thankful" worship! The story is now one of my absolute favorites because I can relate to this woman on SO MANY LEVELS.

The Pharisee that invited Jesus to his home made a comment that I had never noticed before,
"If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Luke 7:39)
That woman would've been me. I think back to my years in high school, college and even the years after college where I rejected God and His teaching and was more interested in the party life, just hearing His name made my gut turn. I'll never forget that feeling! It literally makes me sick! The Pharisee's would've been saying that about me! "If this man were truly a prophet, he would know what sort of woman Becky really is, for she is a sinner." It makes me cringe, if I would've heard that being said in front of Jesus, I'd be shaking in my boots. I might have wet my pants a little....

BUT, I absolutely LOVE Jesus' response, (Luke 7:40-50)

"Simon, I have something to say to you."

And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more? Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Wow. She was more appreciative of God's grace because He saved her from her GREAT sin. Although she didn't deserve it, Jesus saved her because of her faith! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for his mercy. He saved a worthless sinner = me. I don't deserve it. I don't even deserve to wash or kiss his feet. But, like this woman, I will glorify Him daily. I will thank Him for what He did on the cross! I will love Him with every ounce of my being, because when I deserved love the least, He gave the ultimate sacrifice. Like this woman I am extra grateful, because he canceled ALL of my debts, which are MANY.

So don't think for a minute that God won't save a sinner "like me;" He draws sinners extra close to Himself because we are more grateful for His sacrifice. Without HIM, we know we deserve to die, so we give glory to HIM ALONE, knowing we had nothing to do with it. Proclaim HIM daily!
I happened across this picture many months after writing this, but I think the picture accurately depicts what it might have been like for this woman. See all the gossip going on? The judgmental thoughts... the gasps... the horrors... nothing has changed in today's society. We still have Pharisee's. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Nephews are SILLY

I am a proud Auntie of two little nephews who, as I FaceTime with my sister, offer laughs GALORE. I giggle about their antics even as I write this...

I ask my nephew Gary, "I hear you like to play Lego's with your brother?"

"Yeah, and train tracks, and trains, and freight cars too!"

Gary wanted to show me the Christmas tree he "helped" decorate. He begins pulling all the ornaments off the tree and showing them to me, telling me what they are and that he, "likes this one."

Occasionally he'd pull one off, show it to me, and say, "This one is... Mom, what's this one?"

Hunter joined in the action and would tap the phone with the ornament making little, "Eh, Uh, Eh" noises.

One time his klutzy, adorable little self fell as he reached for one, taking in a mouthful of Christmas tree. Mel giggled as she literally pulled pine needles out of his mouth. He honestly didn't seem to mind.

The Christmas tree was being stripped bare, until Mel finally had to tell them that I'd seen enough ornaments. Mel's smart. She commented later that all the breakable ornaments were strategically located at the top of the tree, making them untouchable for little fingers.

After the boys finished showing off their tree, my sister and I sat down for a conversation about everything, but nothing in particular. In the middle of the conversation my sister yelled, "Ow! Stop biting my knee!"

And, "Boys! The couch is NOT your chew toy!"

Then she looked at me and said, "This is my life."

What a life. I love every minute of being a small part of it. I still laugh out loud. Never a dull moment in their household!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I wonder, what was it like to be Jesus' mother?

I've been reading through the Gospels and I finished Mark just in time to start Luke this Christmas season. How "ironic!" =)

There is one tiny verse that I read today that I heard in church the other morning that blows me away,
"(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also)" (2:35)
Let me explain why. There was a righteous man, Simeon, who was told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ, and as Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus into the temple Simeon blessed them and told Mary that a "sword will pierce her soul" because of what this child came on earth to accomplish and how it will be accomplished. I've been thinking of that from a new mommy's perspective. Especially today as I prepare to take her for her first shots. I've been dreading this day, knowing that it's going to hurt her. But shots are nothing compared to what Mary had to watch her son endure! I cannot imagine the agony Mary went through as Jesus hung on the cross and reading that verse makes me admire her for her faith in God's plan and her willingness to endure the love of a child - knowing she was going to have to watch him die for the sins of the world. And not just any death! A torturous, long, horrific death! Mom's can you imagine?! My heart goes out to Mary.

I was telling Kyle last night that I can totally understand why people become hermits, living in their home never loving anyone, because losing someone you love would be so incredibly painful. I'm sure Mary felt that "loving someone so much it hurts" kind of love. I can't wait to give her a monster hug in heaven and tell her how much I admire her as a mother!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Stay-at-Home Mom Benefits

Having a stay-at-home mom job doesn't make you rich, add to your savings, checking, and retirement accounts, or provide insurance and cash holiday bonuses, but it has it's fair share of benefits and rewards. I truly feel this is what I was meant to do at this point in my life. It was so hard giving up my teaching job, but now I can't even begin to imagine leaving her for someone else to take care of 8 hours a day. I'd miss SO much! Not everyone is able to do this, but the only thing that was really holding us back was a worry over finances and that I loved my job. Well... God tells us we shouldn't worry about clothes, or food, or what tomorrow my bring because He promised that He will take care of us.
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you..." Psalm 55:22
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sheep." Psalm 127:2
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:25-26
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Granted I can't say the worry isn't there. We are struggling with unexpectedly high medical bills and giving that worry over to the Lord isn't easy. I will walk through the fire if He so pushes me into it, but I can't say that I'm enjoying it or that I'm finding it easy to trust in Him. Is my faith growing? Absolutely! Do I doubt our decision? Absolutely not.

As far teaching, I know that when my children are all in school, I can pick it back up and have the same hours as they do. I'm looking forward to that day, however, I'm most looking forward to teaching my daughter her ABC's, colors, shapes, the joy of books, the art of craft making, putting together puzzles, playing with toys, EVERY DAY, and not be stressed about getting dinner on the table, keeping my house clean and organized, and enjoying every minute I have with my precious daughter. I read what one working mom said about the home and children, "you can't expect perfection." Well, when I do something it's all or nothing. I'm passionate. I dive in head first. I would expect perfection and knowing myself I would've been stressed out with all the time I didn't have with her. I mean I'd be at school from 7:30 to 4 every day. That's 8 1/2 hours I miss with her (x5) and that's 42 1/2 hours during the week I'm missing. Before bed time I'd get, what, about 4 hours? That's about 20 hours I'd get with her during the week! When I sat down and did the math, it was totally not worth it to me. Time goes by so fast, so I'm not going to waste it by thinking I need to earn more money. The only stuff from this earth I can take with me to heaven are the one's that believe in Jesus as their savior and my memories. So I'm going to make tons of them and thank God for the blessings he bestows on us daily. Besides GOD gives and He takes away, who knows what He has in store for us, even if we did have two incomes, so I'm going to follow what I believe is the right thing to do for our family and raising Godly children. Those things happen at home with mom and dad. I truly do not believe that a teacher, pastor, family member, etc. are responsible for teaching my child the values of upright and Godly living. It takes a community of teachers, pastors, and family members to REINFORCE what's already taught at home every minute of every day.

There. That's my soap box.

Lastly, Kyle made my decision easy because he felt like it was what we needed to do and he told me, "Becky, you can always go back to teaching, but you'll never have these first years of our daughters life back." My hubby is wise. :)

Now that I've been doing it for a couple of months, focusing only on my recovery and my baby girl, I've found that the benefits are WAY better than I ever imagined. So what are they?

Here are a few of my Stay-at-Home Mom Benefits:
  1. Her first smile was in the middle of the day. She rolled from her tummy to her back during the middle of the day. She started cooing on a weekday, yup, in the middle of the day. (I won't miss her firstS!)
  2. Her fussy time is usually in the evenings and at night. I would've been getting home around 4 just in time for that. It's easy to handle her fussy time when I get beautiful smiles and play time during the day, but if that's all I saw of her during the week. Ugh, no fun.
  3. She has this weird sleep habit that we've been working on (setting up a schedule during the day, finding out what's giving her gas, etc.) where she fights sleep from 10 pm till about 1-4 in the morning. She's stayed up screaming until 5 am one night. It was exhausting, especially when this happened multiple times during the week. I would NOT have survived JH students and I would not have been able to use the day trying to get her in a schedule or understanding the difference between day and night. That would not have been a fair task to ask of a day care provider who has many other children to care for as well. Plus it took at least 3 or 4 days to get this down, I could not have done it in a weekend. And just when I thought we were getting a routine down, she up and decides to spend every night this week awake between 10 and 1 am. Grrr... starting over! It's hard enough with out a job. So I can't imagine doing it with one! 
  4. I would not have been able to handle baby (late nights, grumpy times, etc.), laundry, house cleaning/remodeling, recovery from 2 surgery's AND a full time job. Um, those who know me know I'm not that organized to handle it all at once without losing my mind in all the chaos. Thankfully I have an amazing hubby that would help with all of that, but still....
  5. I do not have to wake her up at 6 am to feed her, get her dressed, me showered, and out the door to be to school by 7:30 every morning. I have a hard enough time getting myself out the door.
  6. I do not have to hide in a corner at school to pump.
  7. I can give her full one-on-one attention all day, which is virtually impossible for a busy day care provider. In fact, I wouldn't expect them to give that kind of attention to MY CHILD, ALL DAY. How selfish does that sound?
  8. I don't have to worry about taking time off or preparing for a sub last minute if my child happens to get sick.
  9. Every teacher has work to take home. It's impossible to get everything done during a short planning period. Especially when you encourage students to come in for help before and after school, or have meetings, or practices for basketball and track, etc. Life as a teacher is CRAZY.
  10. Then when Kyle and I decide to add another child to our life, I don't have a hubby, 2 children, AND a job to worry about. Life is much simpler.
  11. One day care provider told me that she spends time every day teaching one of her kiddo's that she is not his mommy. The moment she told me that, it reinforced the fact that I was making the best decision. That would break my heart.
If you're on the fence, trying to decide what to do I'd definitely advise staying at home. If you're a single parent, there's nothing you can do about it, so do NOT feel guilty. If you seriously cannot afford to stay home, believe me, I understand. The last thing I want to do is say that you're doing the wrong thing by being a working mom or dad. I do not know your situation, I cannot make your financial decisions, I know nothing of the conversation between you and your spouse. This was our decision based on SO MUCH prayer, debate, discussion, and advice from trusted family and friends. It was not an easy one to make by any means.

Despite the difficulties, the benefits of being a stay-at-home mommy for our family far outweigh what money can provide and I'm so glad we made the decision we made.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CraaAaaAzzzzy Quigley

Kyle came home one evening telling me that some friends of ours in town had a puppy randomly show up in their back yard with no intentions of leaving. They have two dogs of their own, a three year old and a newborn, so they had their hands plenty full already. They called the police hoping someone had reported a missing dog... nada. They called the pound hoping they'd have more success finding someone to adopt this adorable pup, but pounds are overflowing and their policy is that if the owner does not claim the dog within three days he would be euthinized. That yanked at our heart strings and we decided to give this dog a home. We took him wondering if this was going to work out. After all, we have a needy dog of our own. Marley's a spoiled rotten brat. AND we have a two month old. Kyle was worried if I'd be ok taking care of a newborn and training a new puppy. So we made no promises in keeping him around. Plus, we're trying to get rid of expenses not tack them on! We know this dog is going to be BIG so we guessed we'd be plunking down at least $50 a month for food, not to mention vet expenses (he definitely needs to get those balls chopped off... poor guy), and shots, etc. etc. There were a lot of big "IF's"...

However, that all changed once we got to know this silly dog! He's so laid back and sensitive. So far he's been a breeze to train, only having a few accidents in the house. I laughed so hard one night because he was sprinting as fast as he could to the back door, with his legs spread apart, crying and dribbling the entire way. He gobbles down the water so it's no wonder he barely made it, and when he does pee its his own small pond. He's getting it.

He thinks he's a lap dog. If I'm on the floor, he's right there wanting to be in my lap.

If I'm sitting down, he's right there wanting to play. Placing his head on my lap, nudging the book, licking, licking, licking, grunting, crying, bringing a toy (hint! hint!), trying to steal my slippers... it's all really irritating until I look down into his sweet little puppy eyes.

We had to teach him NOT to lick Brielle. If Brielle's on my lap, he wants to be RIGHT there checking her out. If she's in her swing he puts his big head right in her lap and just stares. He sat in the back of the truck with her on the way to Kyle's parent's house for Thanksgiving and we look back to see Quigley's head on her car seat, watching her like a hawk. He constantly wants to lick her hands (which she wants to put in her mouth all the time) so that had to be stopped immediately. But it was reassuring to see him being so gentle with her!

He chases Marley around the house. Marley is NOT a fan. He hides where ever he finds a spot Quigley cannot or will not go. Like behind doors or down the stairs.

He's scared to death of the stairs. I can totally understand why since he biffed it going up the one step onto our porch. He seriously landed flat on his face. My neighbors probably heard me giggling over that one.

He's still rather clumsy, constantly tripping over his enormous paws!

He doesn't seem to mind cats. I took him to a farm where he met them (I think for the first time). He's so curious about everything, so he was doubly curious about these silly looking creatures.

The thing is, we learned all this stuff within the first week of knowing him and we were hooked. We still hadn't named him (for fear of getting really attached) but he was beginning to respond to "PUPPY!" so we picked a name. We were randomly calling out names, trying to decide what fit and what we both agreed on.... here was our  "potential" list:

Moose (cause he seriously looks like a gangly moose!)
Thor (cause we know he's going to be BIG and his bark LOUD)
Quigley (cause we guessed that he had been on some kind of adventure, like Quigley Down Under!)
Shiloh (cause we both like the book, lol)
Optimus (to go along with Gorgatron - Marley's weird nickname given by Kyle's friends!)

I really liked Moose, but Kyle thought it was "okay". Thankfully we both really liked Quigley. Plus, it just fits his crazy, laid back personality.

He already has a stocking that I can't wait to fill with all kinds of toys to chew. He can definitely entertain himself as long as he has a chew toy. So far he's a fan of ropes. Those seem to be his favorite, especially when Kyle and I play tug of war with him.

We can't leave anything on the floor. He's already destroyed a hair clip, rattle, one of Kyle's slippers (eeek!), and a blanket (just the tag).... The baskets that are on the floor, under the coffee table, used to have neatly tied bows on them. He decided he didn't like that too much. No more bows.

As far as what type of dog he is we're not sure. We're guessing he's a mix of lab and bulldog. We've even thrown around lab and boxer. He has a pit bull face, so maybe lab and pitbull? We don't know, but we have an appointment with the vet this week so hopefully he'll be able to be more precise. We know he's lab and something. Whatever he is, he's a keeper. I don't think Marley agree's just yet, but yesterday he did play with him for a whole five seconds, until he realized I was watching.... ;) I have a feeling they'll be best buds someday. It may take a while (cause Marley's super stubborn) but Quigley already worships the ground Marley walks on - doing EVERYTHING he does (goodie) - and knowing Marley's personality I think he'll appreciate having him around, just like we do! He brightens up my day with his goofy, nutty personality. He fits right in!
I can't wait to see what life has in store for this crazy dog. I'm almost 100% positive I'll have stories to share and things to write about the crazy stuff Quigley does.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Basketball & Its Lasting Impressions

Writing is therapeutic, so perhaps that's one of the reasons I chose to start this blog, and I need some therapy for my stupid dreams. Just kidding, but seriously... I just got up from a nap and for the countless time I had another dream about my basketball experience at Doane College. Perhaps that's because these last few days I have been going through my overflowing closet and dresser and deciding what clothes to keep and what to give away. As I was going through long sleeved t-shirts I ran across my basketball shirt from my freshman year of high school. This shirt is over 10 years old, but it's still in really good shape (shows how much I wear it). I held it up trying to decide whether or not to keep it and a flood of basketball memories came back to me. Some good. Some bad. But they all made lasting impressions.

I'll be completely honest with you, I'm so thankful for the experience I did have, however, I wouldn't call it a positive one. Lately, I've been dreaming about it more and more and it's quite honestly starting to drive me crazy. I'd love to put it behind me! But every single time I dream about it, I'm reminded of these basketball experiences and I roll it through my head over and over again. So hopefully by writing about it, I'll stop dreaming about it, and eventually FORGET ABOUT IT.

I walked on to the college basketball team with ZERO confidence in my basketball playing abilities and was hoping to simply walk on the team with a group of girls and a coach who would help me get it back. I had just graduated from a couple of experiences that didn't exactly encourage me to pursue sports. One was medical the other was... I can't even think of a word for it. Hear my story and perhaps you can come up with one yourself. My junior year of high school was by far my best year in sports. I had my top PR's in track and field, running a 12.99 100 meter sprint, 26.9 200, and a 59 split on the 4x400 team, I didn't realize how fast I was until I went back and looked at my high school scrapbook where I kept every PR sheet our coach gave us at the end of the year. The times were not competitive at my level on an individual basis, but we had 3 other girls running approximately the same times, allowing us to have killer relay teams. We walked away with a 5th place and a 3rd place medal at state in the 4x200 and 4x400 teams. I kept the Denver Post article which named the top athletes in different arena's of basketball. I was named one of the top athletes in Colorado for my 3 point shot. I'm not writing this to brag, I'm writing it so you understand that I was going into my senior year cocky, which looking back I know was part of my downfall. God has a lot to say about pride!

Today, I truly believe my senior year was meant to be a humbling experience....

I was expected, and I expected, to have an amazing senior year, but two things kept that from happening: a coach and a broken foot (I should say three because God is sovereign!). My basketball coach knew that my one goal was to play college sports. I didn't care if it was for some podunk basketball program, perhaps he didn't know that, but I absolutely loved the sport. My junior year I had started for the team and for the first time in our high school's history we made it to the first round of state. My senior year rolled around and my coach benched me, stating he was "building for the future." I asked him to fill out an application describing me as a basketball player for prospective college coaches and in the section where it said to describe me he wrote, "short and stocky." Perhaps he looked at my 5'4" frame and thought, "HA!" Whatever his reasoning he crushed my spirits. I remember bawling (thinking I was fat) and my sweet, sweet brother erased it and wrote something else. I became a brat about the whole situation, however, and if I was the coach dealing with my bratty self, I would've wanted to put me in my place. I was ANGRY and bitter, and those are two, very deadly combinations. I began writing down every single mistake this guy made, wrote a letter and submitted it to the administration, hoping for revenge. I had the "don't mess with me attitude." Uh, can someone please slap me now?! I feel so stupid sharing that with you, I was a selfish moron.

I'm ashamed to write that I hated him, that feeling does not exist anymore. Yes, I'm still frustrated at how it all turned out, but God had a plan different than my own. My attitude stunk. I was hateful. I wanted revenge. I was angry, especially towards another player, younger than me who always yelled at me when I made a mistake or bragged about starting over me. Sometimes I wondered if the coach's listened to her. I became so afraid to mess up! If I screwed up, I was back on the bench, and this is when I swore I would never, ever do that as a coach. Making a mistake is one thing, learning from it is another, repeating it over and over again would require a bench talk. I understood that even as an 18 year old, but the more afraid I become of screwing up, the more I screwed up! The more I screwed up, the more I sat on the bench. The more I sat on the bench, the confidence level decreased to an all time low. The less confidence I had, the more I screwed up, the more I got yelled at, etc. It was a vicious cycle.

Looking back I truly think this was God trying to humble me. I came off a year where "I" did this and "I" did that. I was so interested in "MY" status as a player. "I" got a Rocky Mountain player to watch status. "I" was ranked as a top 3 point shooter in the state. "I" earned a 3rd place medal in the 4x400. I, me, my. I'm sick of myself when I think back to my selfish attitude. Yes, I loved my teammates but I was very stuck on what medals and awards "I" could bring home.

Thankfully I'm not who I once was. If you haven't been around me in the last year you need to understand exactly how much I've changed, read my blog on how I'm Not the Same as I Once Was, Thank God!

The second aspect of a failing senior year was my foot. I had this weird bump on the inside of my foot and occasional shooting pains that started from that area and ran up my ankle. Plus it was achy after I worked out, go figure. I had a broken navicular bone and had ruined some ligaments in the process. I can't pin point the time it started hurting, but I can pin point to the specific time when I knew something wasn't right. We were running in our 4x200 team and our hand off went awry, with the person who I was supposed to hand to taking off to early. I leaned to hand her the buton, dragging my foot, and something popped. I walked off the track going, "wow that really hurt!" Well, duh! In the process of tearing ligaments I popped off the end of my navicular bone. I ran through the season, complaining the entire time (which I don't put up with as track coach, and I have to wonder why my coach put up with me?). I had the, "poor me," and "I can't do that because it hurts" attitude. I still can't tell you why my track coach put up with my whiny behavior. Honestly, if I was her I would've told me to, "Shut up! There's nothing I can do about it. So either suck it up or go to a doctor who can do something about it."

I don't know how, but I continued to work hard (and whine about it). I loved my track coach. She was consistent. Hard working. And fair. So my work ethic did improve, especially because my teammates pushed me. I ended up making it to state in 4 events, but not doing as well as I'd hoped.

Six months later I found myself at a chiropractor, thinking this was something he could easily fix, staring at my x-ray's opened mouth at this obvious break. So he sent me to a foot specialist and I was in a boot for a long time.

I walked into my freshmen year of college in a boot. I went to every single practice, lifted what weights I could, attended study hall, meetings, etc. and never once felt like the team. At the time I understood why. It's hard to accept someone when they don't practice with you, travel with you, hang out in the locker room, etc. So I decided to lose the boot, suck it up and play, thinking that would help. Mistake (duh, me and my stupid teenage self). I screwed it up more. My doctor now said the only way to repair the damage was surgery and because of the amount of time I had taken to repair the damage, the recovery time was going to be a long one. Goodie. Well the summer after my freshmen year I spent on crutches and was on crutches going into school.

The basketball pre-season workouts started either late August or early September and by that time I was a few weeks from losing the crutches, but I would still be in a boot, and out for the year. My stupid self didn't continue physical therapy once I went back to college, ugh, not helping myself out at all. Instead of gaining strength, I was losing it. Obviously, this was doing nothing to regain my lost confidence, but I still showed up to every practice, weight lifting, meeting, etc. I was also involved in the pep and concert bands. Practice for those events was right before basketball practice, so I would leave one practice to attend another. On many occasions I was late for basketball practice. I began noticing that I was the brunt of ridicule from a few of my teammates. At this time, welcome was not something I felt from them, so I honestly wasn't surprised, but it stung just the same.

I had to sit out my sophomore year, and began my junior year fat and out of shape. My junior year was also the start (and continuation) of a lot of personal drama in my life involving family and the deaths of numerous friends, and instead of reverting to something that would actually help me, I drank. A lot. I was depressed about not being able to play, the death of my friends, and my parent's nasty divorce, so instead of working on improving my basketball skills, I used my free time to drink, and more importantly I rejected God. Sooooooo, things only got worse.

When I look back to that part of my life I was self medicating. The only way I wanted to deal with it was by drinking, forgetting about it, doing something stupid, waking up feeling awful about that, then turning around and drinking again, thinking it would help me forget, doing something stupid again, waking up feeling awful again, drinking, waking and feeling awful, drinking, oh my goodness it was a nasty cycle.

So what does this have to do with basketball? Well, during all of this I continued to go to practice. Drinking obviously did not help me in practice. I was really sucking it up. Plus (partly because I skipped therapy and because I was lazy in the off season) I was weak. My feet didn't move quickly, I was slow, uncoordinated, and really far behind. This did not help me earn a place on the team.

I was also more interested in being part of my sorority, where I felt like I belonged, than being around the basketball team. EVER. I knew they hated me. So, I had no desire to work hard. I had no desire to try in practice. I went because I had never, not once in my life been a quitter. But quit I did. The reasons I quit?
  1. I didn't feel like I belonged on the team.
  2. After being in a boot for more time than I can count, I lost a lot of quick foot speed, which for reasons I didn't understand at the time I wasn't getting back. (Ahem, too much alcohol and I didn't continue physical therapy when I returned to school. Stupid teenager!)
  3. I really, really needed a job. Basketball and pep/concert band practice took a lot of time and I was struggling financially. So I worked in the alumni office at Doane and as a bartender at the Eagles club.
  4. I wanted to spend more time with my sorority girls, where I actually felt loved.
  5. I was turning soft and lazy.
  6. I was really, really behind the rest of the team after all my time "off".
Now that I look back, I regret that decision. Why didn't I just suck it up and play the sport I loved? Why didn't I go to the gym on my own time and try to regain what I had lost? Why didn't I use the off season to make myself better? WHY? WHY? WHY? I don't know why, but now I'm constantly dreaming about it! It's driving me nuts. I keep dreaming that I'm either going back to try and play, or that I didn't quit and randomly show up at practice and I keep failing and messing things up, or that I didn't tell my coach that I'm pregnant, or, or, or (I've had quite a few dreams). Perhaps my conscious self is trying to tell me something. I don't know what that is, but I hate these dreams, because it brings that "I'm a quitter" feeling back again. I was lazy and dealing with more crap in my personal life than I cared to share with my basketball team, because never once did they make me feel like I was welcome. Hindsight, I forgave them a long time ago. I don't hold grudges (what would be the point?). Plus I learned so much (from a coaches perspective) about the value of team camaraderie, and as a basketball coach it is an area I try to foster with the teams I coach. Plus, while I was down I watched a NAIA coach of the year who knew that defense wins games. She knew it and knew it well. I learned a lot just by watching. I took what I had learned and applied it to my own coaching. I'm truly thankful for that as well. So I'm not writing this to make them feel bad, or to tell my side of the story even, I JUST WANT MY STUPID DREAMS TO STOP and I'm hoping that this "writing therapy session" will help with that! :)

I walked away with a bad taste in my mouth. BUT now that I look back I don't think negatively about these experiences. They helped me grow into the person I am today. Yes, basketball made a lasting impression on my life. Basketball helped me to understand the value of perseverance and hard work. It helped me to understand the value of words. It helped me understand that God is sovereign. He loves me and even during these low points in my life I see His hand in it all. Loving me even though I rejected Him. Basketball helped me in more ways than I can count. I'm not a skilled basketball player by any stretch of the imagination, but I still love the sport and I love that God used it to teach me about life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Perfect Parent

Yesterday I was reading on a friends blog about the patience required of her while her daughter adjusts to life with a new baby sister and I began thinking about good parenting and how much I have to learn. Then Deb came over so that we could continue our Bible study through Titus, and of course we got side tracked on this particular topic. Plus my sister had asked me a LONG time ago (while she was dealing with the joys of her son's terrible two's) that we needed to study the Bible and what it specifically states about parenting. So this blog was a long time coming because this study was never far from my daily thought process (knowing it was something I NEEDED as well). So, what is a perfect parent? Most definitely not like me! Is there a perfect example out there? Yes! Thankfully we have a parent that has flawless parental qualities:

  • Merciful
  • Patient
  • Slow to Anger
  • Abounding in Steadfast Love
  • Faithful
  • Unchanging
  • Gracious
  • ETC. ETC.
I was thinking over my short two months of being a parent. How many times have I been frustrated or angry in this short time period? How many times have I lost patience? Am I faithful? Gracious? Selfless? My goodness! I've failed already! Despite my imperfections I have a perfect parent who loves me and is patient with me. When I screw up (which is often) the consequence actually fits the crime. He was merciful to me - giving me life when I deserve hell. He is faithful - he has promised to take care of me. And here I am, a mother of an 8 week old, full of imperfections, learning from a perfect God. If I want to strive toward "the perfect parent" (which quite honestly will never happen, but that doesn't mean I won't try) then I need to follow the perfect example of a perfect parent...
"You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15
In Proverbs there are specific instructions for parents and children on how to discipline and live a Godly life. Solomon wrote Proverbs for his son, so that he might know and understand wisdom and then pass it on to the next generation. It's so full of good advice for being a "perfect" parent that I had to share a few of my favorites that I plan on teaching my children:
  • Fear the Lord.
    "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7
  • Trust God.
    "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
    "Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord..." 22:17-19
    "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him." 30:5
  • Listen to mom and dad.
    "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life." 6:20-23
    "My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5
    "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." 22:6
  • Be Humble.
    "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." 11:2
    "Be not wise in your own eyes..." 3:7
    "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." 6:16-19
    "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished." 16:5
    "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." 16:18
    "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." 27:1-2
    "One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor." 29:23
    "If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife." 30:32-33
  • Give to the Lord.
    "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce..." 3:9
  • Accept discipline.
    "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." 3:11-12
    "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." 12:1
    "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." 13:24*
    "Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence." 15:32
    "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." 22:15*
    "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." 23:13-14*
    "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." 29:15*
  • Choose your words wisely.
    "Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you." 4:24
    "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." 15:1
  • Tell the Truth.
    "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." 6:16-19
  • Keep your mouth shut! (Oh boy, am I ever guilty of this one!)
    "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." 10:19
    "Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." 13:3
    "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." 17:27-28
    "If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife." 30:32-33
  • Keep secrets.
    "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." 11:12-13
    "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." 20:19
  • Work Hard.
    "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense." 12:11
    "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty." 14:23
    "Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys." 18:9
    "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished." 28:19-20
  • Speak kindly about others.
    "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." 11:12-13
  • Choose your friends wisely.
    "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." 13:20
    "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge." 14:7
    "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." 20:19
    "Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways." 22:24-25
  • Choose happiness.
    "A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed." 15:13
  • Actions speak loudly.
    "Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright." 20:11
  • Turn the other cheek.
    "Do not say, "I will repay evil"; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you." 20:22
    "Do not say, "I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done." 24:29
  • Mind your own business.
    "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." 26:17
    "If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife." 30:32-33
  • Admit and Apologize!
"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity." 28:14
* Obviously this pertains to spanking. Now, I don't know if they actually used a "rod" (I'm going to assume that they did), but I don't recommend this in today's day and age - your hand is more than effective. When I was growing up I remember the most torturous part of our discipline was going out to find a specific stick (it had to be so long and so wide), it "gave" us the "opportunity" to think about what we did and why it was wrong. Although it was highly effective, I'll never do that. :) I live my life by the Bible and will not hesitate in this regard if it is needed, however, there is a loving way to do this. The book, titled 'Sheparding a Childs Heart' by Tedd Tripp, which I wrote about many months ago gives sound advice on how to do this so that your child understands "the why" and that you do it because you love them. Still, I truly believes it depends on the child. There are certain children (like my sister Mandy) who was never spanked because the moment you looked at her sternly she burst into tears, and then there are other devious children (like myself) who needed to be spanked (haha, and often!).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You Know You Love Someone When...

Your baby changes your world. At least my baby changed mine. All the things I thought I'd never do, I'm doing. For a long time I thought I never wanted to be a mommy, well, now I wouldn't trade her for the world. She changed my perspective on life, enjoying the little things, and love. I didn't know I could love someone INSTANTLY. The moment I saw her, I loved her.... How do I know this?

Well, you know you love someone when...
  • They scream in your ear and you don't scream back.
  • You pick their nose for them.
  • You don't get all squimish when you get their poop on yourself.
  • You don't puke when they puke.
  • You don't hold a grudge for hurting you, in fact, you basically forget it all when you look into their face.
  • They keep you up all night, instead of hating them, you wonder how you can help them, despite your pure and utter exhaustion.
  • You stare at their face, for hours at a time.
  • You can't get enough pictures of that beautiful face.
  • You want to share those beautiful pictures with EVERYONE.
  • They smile, your heart literally melts.
  • They coo, what's left of your heart melts even further.
  • The simplest little things they do make you proud, make you giggle, or tear up, and force you to call relatives, friends, and daddy at work to tell them about it.
  • You do everything you can to help them relieve gas and poop - tummy massage, bringing their knees to their chest, etc. - and when they finally do release the pressure that's been causing so much anxiety, you're so proud and you tell them so, over and over again!
Haha, and so many of those reasons were the reasons I didn't want to have kids in the first place! And the thing is, this could be an exhaustive list! I have so many, many reasons to love my little Briella Bean and when I think back on this list, even the not-so-fun parts, I know for sure, that I absolutely, positively wouldn't trade her for the world. I know I love her, lots and lots, bunches and bunches.
Isn't she just precious? =)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Month One & All Her Firsts

One month of being a mother has brought more tears, smiles, love, and laughter into my life than I ever thought possible. It's been a month full of ups and downs. Mostly ups. My little Briella Bean is the sweetest thing and I can't wait to share a few of the ups from the first month of her life, with you.

First, the story behind Briella Bean... one morning we woke up to a particularly fussy baby. I fed her, Daddy changed her diaper, I rocked her, Daddy cuddled with her, we gave her a pacifier, nothing was working. I overheard Daddy coo, "Are you grumpy gills My Little Briella Bean?" and it stuck, we've been calling her that since.

First time meeting Poppy.

Going home outfit. Kyle picked it because it reminded him of Marley, who she met that day! :)
First time in the car seat, which she obviously hated. I forgot the car seat insert that kept her head from boppin' around, I felt SO bad!
First night at home in her crib, she looked so tiny!

First (sponge) bath (at home). Didn't like that either!
Snugglin' and Snoozin' in her Boppy Pillow.
Angry Face.
Sad Face.

In a Happy Place.

She's so expressive! She loves her tummy time and she loves the mirrors next to her changing table!

First time meeting Grandma Lowery.

First time meeting Aunt Sydnie!

First time meeting Grandma McHenry!
The first time she met Marley neither of them seemed to care about the other. Now Marley displays his jealousy by wanting attention every time I hold her. He occasionally sniffs her and will hang out with her on her blanket during tummy time. I'm sure they'll be best of friends, until that day I have two babies!

That's about as close as he'll get!
She's most definitely a daddy's girl!
Other than the fact that she has these odd, occasional wake times between 10 pm and 2-4 am. Or her distracted eating habits (she thinks she must check out every noise!). She's perfect. We love her even if she's a distracted eater or a strange sleeper. Words cannot describe how much we love her. Our lives are changed forever!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Deal with Life's Trials

One of my favorite songs by Ginny Owens is "If You Want Me To" because she wrote about how God doesn't promise an easy life, but He does promise to be there with us as we "go through the valley." Recently, I went through a life altering event and when I heard this song pop up on my play list today I was again praising God for being there with me as I experienced it.

I've had this incredible response from people who have read my story and were encouraged by God's faithfulness and could then see Him in their own story. With that said, I wanted to share how life's trials can strengthen you, your relationship with your family and friends, and most importantly with God. He is, after all, in control of it all, even the calamities. Answering the "why?" question will not always happen, because God's plan for our lives is beyond our own understanding, but it does help put things into perspective and glorify a God who is worthy of praise and we know we can trust HIM FULLY because He is unchanging!

If you read the story of Job, or read about King David's life, or the Israelites enslaved by the Egyptians, or any number of books and stories in the Bible you will find that through trials in life 1. God was glorified. 2. God is in control. 3. God was there with them. etc. etc. Notice how none of this revolves around us? The Bible is GOD CENTERED. So if these people of the past endured trials of various kinds with God shouldn't we do the same? Instead of cursing Him, or dwelling on the "why?" shouldn't we lean on HIM? He is stronger than we will ever be... ever.

How do you do that? Well, this is how I did it..
  • Pray - The Psalms are an excellent example of how to do this. I relied on Psalm 143:8 after my experience and during my recovery:
    "Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."
  • Worship Him through Song - The song by Ginny Owens is a perfect example of this. Even though I've had this song memorized since high school, listening to it again today blew me away. Which is why I was inspired to write this blog entry in the first place!
    "The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear.
    And I don't know the reason why you brought me here.
    But just because you love me the way that you do,
    I'm gonna walk through the valley, if you want me to.
    Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step,
    and I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet.
    So with all of these trials bring me closer to you
    and I will go through the fire if you want me too.
    It may not be the way I would've chosen,
    when you lead me through a world that's not my home.
    But you never said it would be easy.
    You only said I'll never leave you alone.
    So when the whole word turns against me
    and I'm all by myself
    and I can't hear you answer my cries for help.
    I'll remember the suffering your love put you through
    and I will go through the valley if you want me to."
  • Read His Word - We were asked if we wanted "assistance" of the counseling kind while we were still in the hospital. They had counselors in place for those who experience emergency situations like our own, or who go through postpartum depression. Don't get me wrong, those counselors have their place, but my response was this, "No thank you, I have the Bible for that!" The Bible is the only true source of truth we have in this world! Where else would I find answers to life's burning questions? God's knowledge far surpasses my own and He put the Bible here for us to read so we could gain SOME of His wisdom. So when I'm down, it's honestly one of the first places I want to go. If you read my blog about God's sovereignty you'll find how reading my Bible changed for me after my postpartum hemorrhaging experience. We almost lost our daughter - with every contraction her heart rate would drop dramatically - and afterwards I found myself obsessively checking on her. How did I deal with that? Through prayer and God's word. I knew I needed to trust HIM, he's in control anyway! When Paul was writing to the church in Rome, who was being persecuted by one of the worst Christian haters in history - Nero, a Roman Emperor, there's one verse I absolutely love and serves as a great reminder that no matter what life throws at us we cannot be seperated from the love of Jesus Christ,
    "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39
  • Let Others Help You - God blessed me with amazing friends and family. Through this entire process I've learned that I have quite the support group!  My family bought us a new bed, our church family provided us with meals, more people than I can possibly count have offered prayers, flowers, chocolate, phone calls, messages of support, you name it, we got it. I'm so thankful for all of it and I know there will be a time when God will ask me to "pay it forward...." So take advantage. God put these people in your life for a reason. Call them, ask them for help, don't try to be strong by yourself. If you need help, the people who love you will gladly give it.
  • Talk about it. Write about it. Get it out! - I found that talking about what happened with my family and especially with my husband helped me understand each event and see God at work through it all. It amazed me, when Kyle would mention something that happened, I would say, "Isn't it amazing how God worked that out?!" I also wrote about it here because writing is like therapy for me. Keeping it bottled up and brooding over it is not healthy. When you're ready, go to those people who God blessed you with, and talk about it. It's like a weight lifted off your shoulders; that's how I felt anyway.