Wednesday, December 31, 2014

He is New

It is 12:26 am on New Year's Day. The first New Year's Simeon and I have stayed up for in at least three years (the irony of staying up the first year we have a newborn and going to bed early the other three years without one is not lost on me). I am sitting at home, hoping for a reflective spirit of the year behind and of the year ahead, whilst my wonderful husband is retrieving my forgotten phone from our friends's house...again.

Aside from the Times Square celebration playing on the TV, there was no cheering for 2015, no special kiss at midnight, no confetti. This evening, there were friends and families gathered, games played, and conversations shared. 2015 isn't really a new beginning, there's no clean slate, things that happened December 31, 2014, are still going to happen January 1, 2015 (with the exception of messing up checks).

There is always a spirit of new-ness when the new year rings in, though. Why do we crave the resolutions, the new, the clean, the refreshed? We crave Him. We crave the newness of life, the cleanliness, and the refreshment that only He, our Savior and Lord can provide. We celebrate His birth on December 25th every year, but the real joyous occasion, is that we can taste, enjoy and receive the new-ness He has to offer every day of the year.

So this year, let your old bad habits become clean. Let your good habits that have fallen to the wayside become renewed. Sure, go ahead and make that New Year's Resolution. But let Christ make you clean, let God create in you a new heart, and let the Holy Spirit continue to refresh you, because that, is what I am hoping for in the year 2015--that He continues the good work in me, and that I allow it.

Every year, I find a verse that I seem to speak as my own over the year, one I cling to when I desperately need it. Last year, was a simple "Be still and know that I am your God." This year, is seems to be a little hackneyed since I used it on our Christmas 'card' and our New Year's card,  but it is my prayer for the year ahead---I think we will need quite a bit o' peace after all.

Happy New Year, and may it be blessed, indeed!

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all."
2 Thessalonians 3:16 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

His Cost is Greater

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Where has the time gone?! As I was sitting here, I had what I was most thankful for. Isn't it obvious? Of course it is our little Adelaide Joy. However, then I got to thinking why I was thankful for her. There's the obvious reasons--ones that you have all heard and gone through with us along the way. Then I thought about the cost of having Addie--and just how brilliant the cost was.

You see, having her cost me so much in life--so very much. 

She cost me my bitterness. 
She cost me my selfishness,
She cost me my sorrow.
She cost me my fear.
She cost me my hopelessness.
She cost me my anger.
She cost me my self-inflicted loneliness. 
She cost me my empty arms. 
She cost me my unblemished stomach. 
She cost me time with my husband. 
She cost me my time to myself. 

Having her has cost me, and will continue to cost me these things, and my friends. I am glad. 

She cost me my bitterness, and replaced it with sweetness. 
She cost me selfishness, and it gave way to selflessness. 
She cost me my sorrow, and it blossomed to joy.
She cost my my fear, and it died to courageousness. 
She cost me my hopelessness, and it turned to believing. 
She cost me my anger, and it melted away to peace.
She cost me my loneliness, and created togetherness. 
She cost me my empty arms, and constantly made them full. 
She cost my my unblemished stomach and instead I have a permanent reminder of God's faithfulness.
She cost me time with Simeon, and changed it to time as a family.
She cost me time to myself and created time for reflection on God's goodness.

She will continue to "cost" me, test me, and teach me, Some of the "costs" will be hard to accept, some of them will be hard to let go of. I would be lying if I said that having her hasn't made my life easier with less reason for bitterness and anger, God has done more than give me her, in His mercy, He has freed me from so many internal struggles of mine. Oh, they will rear their ugly heads, but when I look at Addie, there will no longer be doubts of God's personalized goodness towards me. So I will take on every sleepless night, every bewildering crying fit, every dirty diaper, and every bit of spit up, because when I look at Addie, I see a promise kept, a truth revealed, and love demonstrated, and I know that it is well with my soul,

When I see the "costs" of Addie, I think of what it cost our Heavenly Father to place Jesus Christ on the cross. To allow it. For that reason, I am even more eternally grateful, and pray with all my might, that Adelaide will one day understand the cost of the Father for her. His cost is so much greater than my own.

* This post was started the day before Thanksgiving, but because of Addie and a family filled weekend, it was not finished until today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

He is Compassionate

So, this is a hard post for me write. It's about this pregnancy and what I have seen through it--and that makes it hard, because I guarantee you that parts of it will come across as complaining and whining, even though that is not my intent, and in saying some of the things, I will feel guilty.

Through this pregnancy, I have tried really hard not to complain. I have probably failed at it--a lot. The weight gain, the stretch marks, the sweating, the peeing, the hormones--all of those things I have taken in stride. However, there are a couple of things that have really bothered me, physically, and emotionally.

 Physically, one of the changes have been hard because nothing seems to fit me properly. I have had to spend money on top of money just to have something that fits, is comfortable, and looks like I am not trying to squeeze into something that's half my size. It's hard because it makes it harder to be modest...loose fitting things, have become tight. Things that should go up, instead come down. People notice--men notice. I feel guilty, but also at this point apathetic. It makes my upper back hurt because of how fast it has changed and my back muscles can't keep up with that growth. This isn't a vanity thing.

The other issue are my hips. They hurt. Not when I am walking around throughout the day, but at night, or anytime I lay down to sleep. It's not uncommon to have one hour where I am awake 3 times within that hour. I consistently get 4 hours of sleep, and that is on a good night. Naps are hard too...because it isn't just at nighttime. It's anytime my body is horizontal. Sharp shooting pain drives through my hips and nothing works to alleviate it. I don't complain about this because it's there, I complain about it because I am TRYING to deal with it (and I have been since early on in the second trimester). I am trying solutions that will work. Even my OB and Chiropractor are at a loss for what I should do. I get adjusted at least twice a month, if not more. I go to a massage therapist (although, I forgot to make an appointment, and keep forgetting because it's new to me). Tylenol lasts for such a little time, and pumping my body full of it makes me cringe with fear. If I sit up after laying down, my hip pops--and it is painful. It's not a relief thing, because it goes right back to the pain. I can't control it. I wake up crying and in tears--partially from pain, but mainly because there is so little time I have been able to sleep that I can't properly deal with my emotions.

Why am I telling you this? Simply because when I have told others this, a majority of responses (not all), are not kind. I am writing this to remind you mommas of all the pains and hardships you had in your pregnancies. I am not a naturally sympathetic person when it comes to there being a solution for an issue, that is not being approached. (For example, if one were to complain about being thirsty and doing nothing about it when they are able to.)

Anyways, here's my urge to you all from one extremely physically and emotionally exhausted expecting mother. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be encouraging. Be thoughtful. Be sincere. I have heard the phrases "This is what you've prayed for.", "Oh, but it will be so worth it..."Just you wait until...(fill in the blank)", "But this child is such a blessing...", "It doesn't get any better, so you might as well get used to it now.", and countless other phrases that are similar. I get why these things are being said. I do. They all make sense. However, they all make me feel even worse. I know this is what I prayed for, and I am soooo thankful for it. I am excited by it, anxious for it, exceedingly in awe of this child! This pregnancy is already a blessing, this child IS a blessing--a promise fulfilled and every time I think of how merciful and kind God has been, I am moved to tears. I AGREE with you on these things!!! But it isn't what is needed. Hearing those thoughts make me feel guilty for even thinking about how hard this is--especially the fact that this IS what I prayed for. Does that mean I am not allowed to be in pain? Would you have sympathy for someone who broke their leg in a car accident that wasn't their fault?

The other phrases "Just you wait until...", "It doesn't get any better...", and other things like that make it so hard as well. Where is the hope for better days? I get that motherhood is hard, I really do. I know that right now, I cannot grasp what all that means, and that will have to come at another time, but where is encouragement? Shouldn't we be edifying one another? Honestly, without having the rest I even need to get by, and being so exhausted, emotions have more power over me than I would like. Fear comes in like a monster, fears that really have no place in being there, but are now bigger and badder simply because I am tired.

I beseech you, to be you to be kind. I am aware that I more than likely wasn't kind or showed the same compassion with you that I am asking for now, and for that I apologize. If this is how you felt when you had tried talking to me, I now understand. Yes, I was bitter and thought that "well they have such a blessing, what do they have to complain about?!" and I was selfish. I hate that this is what it has taken me to have that shortcoming so blatantly obvious, and I feel awful that I was not compassionate. Again, I have tried hard not to complain about other things and instead tried to have an attitude of thankfulness for weight gain, and stretch marks, and not shaving any more (which that last one, REALLY is a reason to be thankful!).  Those things affect my vanity though, not my physical well being. I am asking for some empathy, encouragement, and compassion instead of the typical comments. I am looking forward to giving birth and letting every single issue I had fade away into the background of the precious new life. But please, right now, be kind. Be kind to Simeon as well, because he hears most of it simply because I don't know who I can talk to about this without feeling guilty. He feels helpless that he can do nothing to help the pain of either my emotions or my body right now.

Through this pregnancy, I can honestly say that after this, I want to be the mom that is understanding of another pregnant mom's pains and issues. It isn't just the physical pain. But physical pain, coupled with physical and emotional exhaustion, makes way for emotions from the enemy to take hold. Let's be kind. Let's be understanding. I hope that this is not a rude post, or a justification for complaining. Simply a post that enlightens how much more one could have to deal with than just the body changes. So much more. Let's bind together in the light and love of Christ, and allow others to hurt, and allow them to not feel guilty for hurting---emotionally, physically, spiritually, and under any circumstance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trees of Life

Recently, I shared pictures of our nearly completed nursery on Facebook. There were many comments and "likes" on the project, but I wanted to share just one more thing (or a few) about this room.

It started over 3 years ago, with a free crib, and a new house. We knew what room was to be the nursery...the smallest one. It was painted purple. After 1 supposedly "Light coral" color that ended up looking like a peachy pink, it was changed to brown. After a while, the brown was too dark, but didn't need to be changed, because we were still waiting for that special time of actually being pregnant and not just dreaming about it.

Fast forward 6 months, that happened--then "un-happened" on Christmas Day of 2011. Unsure is the word best used to describe that time. We didn't know we had even been pregnant, so finding out that we had more than likely gone through a miscarriage was...shocking? But it set even a deeper desire to begin a family.

Fast forward 3 months...we found out we were expecting yet again, on the day we went to see Tim Hawkins in Lincoln no less. There were many reasons to smile that night. 2 months later, we lost that child as well. This time, it was crushing.

After that, time seemed to drag on. I remember repainting the nursery for what would be the last and final time. Not because we were expecting, but because I wanted something tangible to do--I called it "operating on faith". It seemed to pay off in a sense because no more than a few months later, we found out that we were indeed expecting...yet again! 3 months later, devastation.

The following year went by and I could not bring myself to go into the room to work on it. If I wasn't watching girls (since toys were primarily in that room), the door remained shut. The door to both the nursery and my hope was closed.

Finally, after a year or more  of prayer, we felt being led to adoption. In January of 2014, we stopped trying so hard for a child, and felt confident in our hearts to give another child a home--and not just because we couldn't have any at the time. We resigned our dream, and began another one. Imagine my surprise when that month, I had my first cycle that I had on my own in over a year (something that I had been able to manage with diet and exercise before that just wasn't yielding results this time). And again a month later, when Simeon was gone, and I found out that God was indeed faithful.

I didn't work on the room for a long time. Yes I was excited, but there was so much fear--why bother opening up my heart again, if in a matter of a few weeks, it could very well be crushed again.

This room, this nursery, if you will, is so much more than a room to me. It is so much more than a baby's room, or a nursery, or even a cute room for a child.

This room is hope deferred, but not lost.
This room is preparation when it seemed there was nothing to prepare for.
This room is faithfulness amidst faithlessness.
This room is a labor of love, when there was much bitterness in my heart.
This room is what reminds me of who God is.
This room is what reminds me that "Never once have we ever walked alone"

The trees mean something different in this room. For years, I wondered if I would ever feel a baby kicking inside of me. If my stomach would grow and swell. If Simeon would be a father to his own children. If he would be able to have the expression of awe at feeling baby kick. I dreamed of the day he would first see his first child. For years, hope was deferred. For years it made my heart sick. There are still some longings that have yet to be fulfilled, but there are so many that already have been. Those trees in there, that I painted simply because I liked them and because they went with owls, mean so much more. Those, are trees of life in there, and pretty soon there will be another life in there to enjoy them.

 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

Proverbs 13:12

Many hurts along the way, but a song that will be forever close to my heart, that I have referenced before in this blog, has been Matt Redman's "Never Once". In  my opinion, the lyrics speak for themselves, and need no explanation. 

"Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful"

Friday, August 22, 2014

He is Still, and Always Moving

It has been quite awhile since I have jotted down anything on this blog--or anywhere for that matter. We've been so busy! Getting carpet cleaned out, painting, getting ready for new doors, trim, and flooring is such a lot of work!

I am officially 29 1/2 weeks pregnant, in my third trimester. First off, let's just have a shout of joy and prayer of gratitude to the magnanimous proportions of God's grace...yes?! Something that's funny is that I am making lists upon lists upon lists. I kid you not "What to do Before Baby, What to Buy Before Baby, Packing for the Hospital, Diaper Bag Organization, What to Clean Before Baby, and Freezer Meals Before Baby" are all lists currently being crossed off...slowly but surely. Amidst all of these lists, I find myself freaking out and feeling prepared at the same time. Yes, I may be overdoing it, yes, these lists wont contain everything, and yes, I will freak out when, and after our baby Berns shows their face! Simeon, bless his heart, has told me many times, that we will be fine and to calm down. He's right, I know he's right--but I want to be prepared. I want to enjoy this process of pregnancy, birth, and the arrival of our boy or girl as much as possible, and I feel like if we will be unprepared, then I won't be able to do that. Having a child is hard right?

This week, during all of my crazy hare-brained schemes to finish flooring and all the details that come with it, I was thinking about how Psalm 46:10 says
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
It  really got me to thinking about a direct correlation between having too many concerns, worries, and thoughts, and God being glorified. Am I, with all my lists, inhibiting the exaltation of my Father to be displayed? It's almost as if the Holy Spirit is saying to me:
"Be still, Kristen. Be still. I am Your God! Not this child, not your preparation. I designed you to know what to do. I created you for motherhood. Be still, let others know that I am God. Do not worry. Let me be exalted through this season. I am moving for you, be still with me."
It is such a hard thing to let go of. Oh, I still have my lists, but will I let them consume me? No. Will we be fine if we don't get everything done? Yes. I must remember to not let the thoughts of my mind hinder the thoughts of my God. So that's my perspective. Not deep, probably pretty wordy, and not overly erudite.

I daresay that I will never find a good segue into pregnancy updates!

You know your pregnant when:

1. Shaving up to your knees is a blessed thing....and your husband should consider himself a lucky man when that happens.
2. You, the person who never really sweat in sauna, are now constantly feeling that glistening sheen everywhere (and people think you are glowing....scoff)
3. The Fed Ex guy looks at you weird because you have been receiving so many packages lately (Hey, it's not MY fault they don't ship everything in the order altogether....)
4. The baby kicks and kicks and kicks, unless you want them to then they don't....
5. You get about 3 hours of good sleep a night...after that, you turn all Russel (from Up); "My knees hurt, my elbow hurts, I gotta pee"
6. You figure out that living in Hastings, NE, does nothing for your wardrobe options....
7. You start finding out just how long Zulily actually takes to ship to you.
8. Birthing classes are a whole new adventure of hilarity--and you sure don't mind retelling the story!
9. You mentally kick yourself in your ever expanding backside for doing a flooring project in your third trimester!!!
10. *Looks at clock, realizes it's an hour and a half since you last ate, then this happens* (Props to whomever gets the reference)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

He is a Choice

Comparison to others is something I have always done to myself. Something I have always struggled with. Lately, I have been feeling Him say to my heart "Kristen, are you going to compare yourself to others, or are you going to compare yourself to who I created you to be? To my plans for you? Are you going to choose me?"

As I have been contemplating this over the past few months, I have been noticing something. Comparison is a theme in everyone's life.  Sometimes it is harmful, sometimes it is helpful. As I have been going through my own feelings with comparison a thought hit me. I compare myself to what others let me see. People, by nature, only let others see a small portion of their lives. I know I do. This causes a terrible epidemic. Comparison, coupled with inauthenticity, is a dangerous things. This allows us to either consider ourselves better or worse than the ones to whom we compare ourselves with. 

Is it wrong for people to not show every aspect of their dirty, messy, wonderful lives? No. What is the problem, however, is when we choose to judge or condemn others or ourselves based on what we see. We see a very limited view, and we need to remember that. In comparing ourselves, we blind ourselves to fulfillment in Christ--in who He died for, in who His Father created us to be, in what He has for us.

Essentially, this is the point I am trying to say: in seeking comparison, to be better than others, to be more "righteous", are we hindering the completion of us in Christ? 

Imagine for a second the worst part of your life, or your marriage, or your family--the absolute worst fight or situation. Imagine your reactions. Now, imagine that all of that, completely on display for the world to see. The people you care about, the people you care that have opinions of you, your family, your friends....imagine them seeing how truly terrible you can react or beneath a polished veneer that we showcase on a daily basis. A polished veneer that is comprised of opinions, beliefs, smiles, and attitudes that you allow others to see. If you are like me, there is a sigh of relief, that my shortcomings are not on display for all to see. 

If there was a sigh of relief, then why do we compare?! Why do we criticize, judge, condemn others issues that are on public display, when we have issues in our private lives that we refuse to acknowledge? We should be iron sharpening iron, the body of Christ--unified and working together. When we judge and criticize because of comparison, we hurt that unity, not help it. 

On the flip side, when we compare ourselves, and find ourselves "weighed, measured, and wanting", then we are still hindering the confidence and completion Christ has for us. This is my greatest struggle. In my head, I consistently say to God, that He created someone more worthless than whoever I am comparing myself to that day. Can I believe the Bible and call God a liar (unintentionally, but still)? God creates each of us individually, each hand crafted, each a masterpiece, each priceless--in the physical world, wealthy people collect things with those labels, so why is it so hard to translate to the spiritual world? So, again, I find myself remembering that Christ is a choice. He isn't a one time choice to gain entry to heaven. He is a daily choice. He is a daily reminder and remembrance. Whatever I am facing that day---He is my choice. He created me, for me, with certain gifts to help further His Kingdom. I've messed up, reacted poorly, and failed more times than I can count. Does that matter? No, He still welcomes me with the same open arms He had on the cross for me. I do not sin so that grace may abound, but I choose to be shaped, molded, and continued to be worked on for Him. good segue to my updates on pregnancy so....

You Know Your Pregnant When:

1. Shaving your legs becomes an Olympic sport combined of yoga and contortion. 
2. Every twinge makes you wonder if your'e actually feeling baby move, or was than an organ migrating?
3. Your husband stares at your expanding belly...among other things that are expanding
4. Finally, for once, you are warmer than your and yah. 
5. You are amazed at how many people want you to know the baby's gender, persistently so
6. You play mean jokes on those persistent people and tell them you know when you really don't...
7. You realize no one warns you for the skeletal baby skull in the ultrasound. 
8. Your hips. Oh. My. Word. The. Pain!
9. You walk up the stairs and your breathless, not because you are out of shape, but because you are in an entirely different shape at the moment. 
10. You make a rule that unless you have a craving for 3 days, it isn't valid and will pass. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Natural Review

Okay, so I have been contemplating for awhile on writing a review like this. Not because it's sponsored (which would be totally cool if it was!) but simply because it is a good way to review and explain what I like and don't like about some natural products. So, without further Adieu....

1. Water Infusers
There are 3 products I have bought and enjoy using for water infusers. Well, I take that back, 2 were bought, but 1 was given to me by a mother-in-law that knows me well.

 The Aqua Zinger
Pros:  I love this bottle because it has blades (that aren't sharp or dangerous) to mince up the fruit of your choice. Recommended, it says to wait 6 hours for best flavors, but if you get some great produce, you can infuse it right away, drink a glass of slightly flavored water, refill it and let it sit for a stronger flavor. It has a stainless steel screen where the blades meet, which makes sure you don't get chunks, seeds, or any other unwanted particles while you are drinking your water.

Cons: The blades do make it slightly more annoying to clean, not to mention, only for adult cleaning. Sometimes, I tend to get so excited about it, that I forget to put the second blade piece in and fill up the water and it is just no bueno. Lastly, I wish it was easier to take on the go and drink. There's no straw, and the opening is as you see it, so spillage happens a lot to me, especially in the car.

Jokari Water Infuser
Pros: This thing is great for making a large pitcher of flavored water. I love it for combining a bunch of different flavors that are refreshing on a hot summer day ( and strawberry anyone? What about cucumber, ginger, and lemon?). It's super easy to clean, AND it's nice not having to fish around your pitcher for the produce you infused your water with.

Cons: You have to know what combinations or flavors you like, otherwise, you have a large pitcher of water hanging out in your fridge. It has bigger gaps in it, so it doesn't work quite as well with smaller fruits or chunks of things (like berries). Lastly, it is like a 3" ball(ish) so you have to use a pitcher that has a wider opening.

Takeya Flash Chiller Tea Maker
Pros: Yes, I know this says that it is a tea maker (which it is) BUT, I love this pitcher... in fact, I have 2 of them. I have used it with just fruit before and infuses just as well as the other two (although, this particular design works better with chopped fruit, simply because you can fit more in the screen that's in the middle.). PLUS, I have used it with loose leaf teas and fruit combined (delish), or just teas. You fill the middle of this pitcher up (the screen), which is detachable after it's finished infusing/brewing, and keep your beverage in the fridge. It's dishwasher safe (actually all of these things are) and because of the fine mesh screen, no chunks or particles go into the water. It's designed to lay on your shelves (yes, lay) for those fridges that don't have a foot of space for their pitcher/drink area. Also, for brewing tea, you fill the middle with the desired tea (loose or bag), then fill it halfway with boiling water. You let it steep, then take out the middle, fill it the rest of the way with ice, and voila!
I love this.

Cons: For loose leaf teas, the screen is a little harder to get everything out, and it does stain. The stain doesn't bother me at all, but I thought I should put that tidbit in.


So I apologize. I tried to find a couple of good pictures that included the products I own as well as the ones I use. That became harder to find, and really, I didn't feel like snapping a sub par picture in comparison to the ones above. As a whole, I enjoy their products. I love that I can seriously clean my fridge, windows, mirrors, and anything that needed to be dusted with 2 cloths. Usually, I would lug around windex, paper towels, pledge for stainless steel, mr. clean eraser, swiffer duster, and 2 soft cloths before for these tasks (which is why I usually split them up). I love how much they grab up. I like the antibacterial quality of them, but it really isn't my first priority, along with their "less chemical" campaign. Really, I care that so much stuff took up so much shelf and arm space more than anything.

Envirocloth and Window Cloth are the two cloths I use for all of the above listed duties. Might I add, that we have a large flat screen that shows up any particle of dust or fingerprint within a 3 mile radius (it seems). I can clean that with these two cloths and there is NO damage simply because it is done with just water.

Body Cloth I love using these to remove my makeup. The only mascara I use is waterproof and these still get it off with little to no problem. It is a little interesting to get used to, but they are nice. I don't get a greasy feeling or dry feeling from using either makeup remover or soap and water. They come in a pack of 3 and I enjoy that for 3 reasons. 1 is in my shower, 1 is by my sink, and 1 is in my makeup bag (or my overnight bag depending if I work or not). I love having one in my makeup bag. I tend to use liquid foundation and I apply it with my hands. I also tend to put makeup on AS I am going somewhere's, even if it's the 2 minute drive to church. It is super nice to get it wet, throw it in my makeup bag and have my hands foundation free by wiping them. For overnight, it is nice to be able to wipe away most the grime from the day. Since it is antibacterial and microsuede, I think it grabs up a lot of dirt and stuff, however, I would not recommend this for an actual face care regime. I still wash my face with oil (you heard that right, only thing that works).

Wool Dryer Balls These are simply to replace fabric softener. Let me tell you, they work. They reduce static, cut drying time, and you can add essential oils to them for the smell factor.  They do everything they say they are supposed to do, which is rare to find a product like that. A con is that you have to beware of taking them out of the laundry with the dry clothes because otherwise your laundering is on hold. You could remedy that with buying 2 sets and alternating, but to me, that seems extreme.

Things I will be getting from Norwex in the future?
Their Mop. 
So we have dogs. Our dogs have hair. We have and will have lots of wood floors in the future. My routine for these floors, are to sweep, then dry swiffer to get as much of the dog hair off the floor as I could, then wet mop. Just for fun, I put a dry envirocloth in my swiffer just to see what it would do. Holy dog hair Batman! I cannot believe how much more I missed! Since I don't want to ruin the edges of my norwex cloth (since they are a bit pricey) I will wait until I have the actual Norwex mop from now on. Luckily I do have a cheap microfiber cloth that still picks up more than the dry swiffer sweeper cloths (although still not as much still...I retested the enviro aftter that one too), to get me through for now.

Their toilet brush
It always just looks so clean and like it wont get disturbingly yucky.

Their body towels:
Simeon hates that after time our towels stop being soft. Norwex, even ones that I have used at my Mother-in-law's house for cleaning (that are possibly 2ish years old), remain soft. Since they are antibacterial, I would also feel like they don't need to be washed as much, also extending their life span

Their baby towels:
Pretty much for the same reasons as above.

Cleaning paste:
This stuff is miraculous. The demonstration of it was fantastic for kitchen and tile. it gets rid of sharpie, food dye, kool aid....bunches of stuff. For me, this is a hold off because, frankly, I don't care about my hideous yellow countertops with swirls of green. Also, we will be getting a new range relatively soon, so I just didn't see where buying the paste would benefit me when I would just waste it on things that I really didn't care about all that much (I am a great housewife, I know.) That being said, it's not like I abuse and color murals on my counters with permanent markers (although, they'd be significantly prettier).

Young Living Essential Oils
 I will be honest, I haven't used these a ton. I primarily got the "Everyday Oils" Collection that luckily came with a diffuser, to help deal with my morning sickness and early pregnancy insomnia. Morning sickness wasn't miraculously cured by these oils, but I can sure tell you that insomnia was. Almost every night there is Lavendar or "Stress Away" blend going in our little diffuser. I instantly became relaxed, and if I had to wake up to deal with morning sickness, I would put a bit more in and instead of staying awake after that hour long shower and what not, I would fall asleep almost every time. I will tell you this, I have tried peppermint oil from another company and thought it worked great, but somewhere along the way, it got to make things worse for morning sickness. Once I tried Young Livings, it worked again. I did also have a pretty bad knot in my neck (the kind that hurts when you just breathe) at one point in time and used "Pan Away" and there was almost instant relief. I haven't had a need to try any of the other blends of oils yet, but I am convinced that they work. They are expensive, so for smells around the house, I simply use different oils (not heated, and not in YL diffuser. Only for homemade floor cleaner, or for putting oil on the vacuum brush when I vacuum for smells. That is it. NOT in the dryer, NOT heated, and NOT for antibacterial purposes, I just don't trust them to be a pure as Yl. Definitely NOT internally or even skin wise.). I like that a lot of the time, if you can accumulate the right oils, you can save money simply by using those before going to the Doctor.

Apple Valley Natural Soap
Okay, if there is one company that I am in love with it would be this one! First of all, it is a family owned and operated business, and the family is a homeschooling family. I can get behind that. I was first researching this because I wanted to go more natural (I was convinced it played a part in my reproductive system), a cheaper alternative, but I couldn't bring myself to do the "no poo". I love their shampoo bars. Honestly, I was skeptical at first, so I ordered like 5 or 6 samples before the real thing. I also ordered their vinegar rinse. I liked that I could buy samples, for fairly cheap, and then decide what worked best for my hair. I had 2 I hated and the rest I liked, but the next time I ordered, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I could order for their $50 free shipping without worrying about if I would like what I would get or not. Personally, I hate vinegar as a hair rinse, so I switched to lemon juice. Also, I order my jojoba oil (for face cleaning) and their argan oil for my skin and hair from there. Their prices are so reasonable, that really, I have spent less money on shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash, not to mention WAY less time in the WalMart aisle. All of their ingredients are 100% natural and organic even, so I don't even have to ever worry what is going on my head or skin. I spent $90 over 6 months ago and have made it through 1 whole shampoo bar, and 1 body bar (average $5/bottle of whatever right now, and that is a significant savings). You DO have to make sure you have soft water, or else these soaps make your hair, and body sticky and waxy feeling since mineral deposits will stick to the oils in the soap. So beware! I warned you! If you have soft water but forget to fill it, don't worry, you will know when the salt is out. Your shower will tell you when you feel sticky and waxy. No problem, just keep other shampoo and soap on hand until you get it filled. It doesn't take a super long time for your hair to adjust back to natural, and I always use Herbal essences spray detangler after my shower because unfortunately, since there is no conditioner, hair gets tangled more. It doesn't have any effect on my hair either. (You have to go through an adjustment period for the natural soaps, before your hair starts looking healthy and not just frizzy and crazy)

Will I become an "All-natural Housewife and Mom" all the time? No, more than likely not. I like using cleaning products that are safe, but I also know that for me, I like the smell of clean. Sometimes that can be achieved using essential oils, but in a bathroom, I want that sucker to smell disinfected with bleach baby. Also, for me, it is all about what makes my life easier. If it requires more work, I won't do it. I dislike cleaning the house, so I am not going to do any more than I have to. Also, Norwex products and essential oils are an investment, so they take awhile to save up for. I loved Norwex from the moment I used it, but refused to go to parties for over 2 years simply because we had so many cleaning products I wanted to use and not waste until then. when I ran out, I made do with homemade recipes or way cheaper alternatives because I wanted those cloths!!!! Essential oils cost a lot of money, but if you can get the "everyday Oils" Package and add to them as needed, it could save you more money in the long run, with less trips to the doctor, and more so instantaneous relief from some things. Natural Shampoo and soap bars? I will probably always buy these for myself and children when they aren't so young. They are significantly cheaper, store well with minimal space, and there aren't any harsh things that can cause you to break out, especially in winter time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I am Sorry.

Yesterday, I found out that a friend had lost her father. As I wrote a message to her earlier, I thought about all of us who have lost someone. As a friend, this is my letter to you. 

Dear Friend,
I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry that everything I say will seem empty, even though you will say thank you. I am sorry that I cannot fix it. I am sorry that I cannot bring back your loved one. I am sorry that I am not there to just cry with you. 
I am sorry that I will say something that will hurt you more than heal you. I am sorry that I will forget about your loss in the chaos of my own life. I am sorry that I will forget that you will still be dealing and reeling from this pain longer than I anticipate. 
I am sorry that you will face hard days to come. I am sorry that you will be distraught at birthdays, holidays, and special events that your loved one should have been in attendance for. I am sorry that many days, you will feel like this burden is yours and yours alone to bear. I am sorry that I will forget to help you bear that burden. I am sorry that you will feel alone. I am sorry that I will forget to say nothing, and forget to just sit with you and cry with you because that is what you need. 
Most of all, I am sorry that I, as a friend, will never be enough to help heal your heart that is broken.  
I am sure you feel a void right now, but one that isn't quite a void. I am sorry that you will be in shock for a little and that the reality of your loss will come at you like a tsunami. I am sorry that you may have felt like prayers for healing went unanswered. I am sorry that any hope you had for healing, has been diminished. I am sorry that saying they are with Christ, and with our Lord, will not help the fact that you can no longer hold them, or love them here. I may not know the extent of your loss, or even the challenges you will face with it, but I am sorry that you will face them.
I am writing this to let you know that it is okay. It is okay to be whammied by the suddenness of loss. It is okay to question God on why He allowed this, is it okay to wonder what His plan is. Please, do not question that He does have a plan. When we question His ultimate goal, we can learn His purpose. When we question His goodness in order, we question our faith. When our faith is questioned by us, it is shaken by us. Do not give Satan the opportunity to shake you. 
I am sorry that you will start to see people acting normal again, way before you are ready to. I am sorry that you will feel like screaming "Doesn't ANYONE REMEMBER?!". That's okay. The grieving process is different for everyone, and if you need more time, that is okay. Don't let anyone tell you differently. I trust you. I trust that you know the truth. I trust you know where our hope lies in life and in death. Because I trust you, I will not pressure you to be done with your grief before you are ready to be. The truth is this: you will never be done grieving. You will remember your loved one at the most random times, important times, and special times. Something someone says or does may remind you of them. I am sorry that you will be overcome with emotion in those times. I encourage you to not look at others' processes with the grief and wonder in your mind's eye how they can be doing so well. Comparison in this will leave nothing but inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and bitterness in your heart. I am sorry that you will have to let this circumstance refine you. 
I am sorry that some days you will feel like you have been fighting an unending war and you will be too tired to put your armor on. That is okay. On those days, remember that God has already won the war. Allow Him to shield you on these days, rest in Him on these days. He will take care of you, I promise. 
I am sorry that you will have good days, that might turn into bad ones. I am sorry that guilt might become a constant companion for awhile when you have good days. I am sorry that you will have awful, seemingly insurmountable bad days. I am sorry that I will more than likely not see those days. I am sorry that asking for help, or for a friend will become hard. I am sorry that you will feel like a burden on others. I urge you to remember that guilt is a tool of the enemy. I encourage you to remember that we have a God at whose feet we have the ability to lay down all of our burdens. I am sorry that this will be hard. 
I am sorry that you will need to be gracious with others that try to say the right thing to help, and instead hurt you more. I am sorry that you will have to remember that they will need to be gracious with you as well.  
My friend, it is okay to be hurt, it is okay to cry, it is okay to be confused, it is okay to still be grieving, it is okay to feel alone, it's okay to feel like no one understands, it is okay to not plaster a fake smile on your face, and it is okay to cry during any moments of worship or prayer. It is okay to display 'weakness'. There is amazing strength in weakness, my friend. Christ was weak in the Garden, but allowed himself to be refined and molded. He was physically weak on the cross. Weakness is where desperation for our Heavenly Father comes--weakness and broken hearted-ness is where He meets us, where He holds us, and where He continues to love us. I am sorry that this will be the hardest thing to remember most of all. 
I am sorry,
I remember feeling many of these things as Simeon and I were going through our own losses. Maybe not everything we went through will be the same for everyone, but still, my heart aches for my friend. I ache knowing that the grief isn't just neatly tied up with a pretty bow as it seems many would like it to be. It's messy. It's dirty. It brings up sins and parts of you, that you didn't even know you had. You may feel like less of a Christian because everyone says to trust and not to question. But when we question correctly, we get closer to the character of our Lord. May we always remember our actions compounded with others' grief. May we always strive for being their friend above being their 'fixer', or their personal 'judgement'. May we remember who God was to us in our darkest, and reflect it. I am sorry if this offends anyone. I am sorry if you don't agree with what I wrote. Most of all, I am sorry that yet another person who Christ and his family alike treasure, is no longer here. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

He is Sweet

I sit here thinking of the past years of Simeon's and my marriage. So many moments encapsulated in sweet bliss, hysterical laughing, and complete togetherness. However, I also think about the moments engraved with bitterness, resentment, and blame--for both of us. I think about how far we have come, how far we have yet to go, and how much more we will have to fight to not become limited by bitterness.

2 years ago, Simeon and I went to an adoption summit (or was it just one year ago?) that was introduced by us. It's called 447 Summit, if any of you have the opportunity to go, I would encourage it! It is such an amazing way to just witness the calling placed on men and women's lives for adoption. When we were there, we had the opportunity to meet Nate and Sara Hagerty. Sara has a blog called "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet" . As I learned her story (she is a wonderful writer and speaker), I was reminded of my own bitterness. We had just lost Hezekiah, and I was grasping for anything for hope, for peace, and for simple understanding.

I see bitterness that takes root in my own life, and in others. Are we holding bitterness against others? Are we holding bitterness for the cause of others? I will be honest here, I don't know much about bitterness and where it would be considered right according to our Lord, but this I know from personal experience--it divides. In dividing, it can easily conquer. In association with my last post, about gossip and being a friend that loves at all times, I wonder if we have bitterness in our hearts, if it is remotely possible to be that? If we are resentful towards one (or for the cause of one) can we be the friend that God demands of us--to our spouse, to our friends, to our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, in-laws, pastors, leaders, and to those in authority over us? I don't think that God calls us to be friends with everyone, but I do believe that He calls us to love beyond our limited thinking that induces resentment, anger, separation and bitterness.

In Sara's testimony, she talks about the struggle her and her husband went through to get pregnant, for much longer that Simeon and I. How their plans weren't happening and how it wove bitterness through her heart until she made a choice (I really hope that how I am remembering this is accurate.). She read the verse from Proverbs 27 and explains how it affected her heart here: To The Hungry Soul... , her first blog post. Whenever I think of bitterness in my own soul, I think of this verse, her testimony, and the restoration in her relationships with her husband, with Christ, and with her future children (at the time).
Proverbs 27:7 

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
    but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

It makes me think...what am I hungering for? What are you hungering for? What you hunger for is a direct line to what is bitter in your life and what is sweet. Am I hungering for a child, for things, for money, or am I hungering for Christ to transform me? Are we going to let bitterness dictate our actions and our thinking or are we going to let Christ be the transforming variable?
Job 21:25 

Another dies in bitterness of soul,
    never having enjoyed anything good.

Proverbs 14:10 
Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.

I know what it is like to hold on to bitterness because of how comfortable it is. It's hard work to make things "taste sweet". It is so easy to be stuck in a rut of bitterness for or towards others or life's circumstances, but in holding onto it, we miss out on the joy and the good. We live in a cage of mirrors when we live in bitterness. All we see is ourselves, or the ones we love hurt. We don't see outside of it. In the midst of this, one simple question comes to mind--Are we going to be bitter, or are we going to be better?

Again, there is no good segue into our pregnancy update, and I am quite dubious that there will ever be, but I will be okay with that.

"You Know You're Pregnant When..."

1. You feel like the female pig statue at the corner of 14th and our street
2. Laying on your stomach feels really weird...not really uncomfortable...
3. Your grocery budget has been exceeded by quite a lot in the past 3 months
4. You're down to your "painting shorts" for the summer because they were larger to begin with and they are the only ones that are comfortable on your waist.
5. Everyone asks you the same questions (Morning sickness is going away, albeit slowly, and otherwise I feel fine, we are about 16 weeks along, we aren't finding out the gender, I think it's a girl, next appointment is tomorrow...the list goes on and on...)
6. You wait to find out the gender simply because your husband and you couldn't agree on a gender reveal that you both liked and figured that the best gender reveal is when the baby is born.
7. Laundry is a much bigger chore because you run out of staples much faster since everything that used to fit is slowly being packed away every other time you fold laundry.
8. You truly value bowel movements much more (TMI?)
9. You have a nightime schedule. You go to bed, wake up at 4 every morning, go pee (even if you don't think you have to, because you do, you know you do), go back to sleep only to wake 2 hours later out of starvation--literal "I-am-going-to-die-and-throw-up-at-the-same-time-if-I-don't-eat-something" starvation.
10. A secret anger ignites every time you want something to eat and it's out of season--cherries. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

He is Pure

As I am at the 14th week of this pregnancy today, I figured it would not only be a good time for an update, but also, what is on my heart.

Lately, I have been thinking about how many people I know are criticizing others instead of loving others (and I find myself criticizing the people I view as 'the critics'...beam much? Matthew 7:3). I have been convicted to just love. The sad thing is that we all have different viewpoints...what's wrong, what's right, what's good, what's bad, how situations should be handled and how they shouldn't be--the list is never ending. What's really been placed on my heart, though, is that if you are a believer in Christ--we ALL have the same Savior, the same Holy Spirit, the same God. We ALL have come from a place of death, and have been covered by His grace and mercy into a place of life.

Does criticism and gossip bring life or death?

James 3:1-12 "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships for example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire and is itself set on fir by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tress bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
James1:26 "Those who consider themselves as religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves. Their religion is worthless." 
Proverbs 16:28 "A perverse person stirs up conflict,  and a gossip separates close friends."

Do we know everyone's struggles? Do we know their timeline of getting over their grief, their pain, their betrayal, or their strongholds? I ask these questions, because I have been so guilty of this lately. I would encourage everyone to love, to care for their 'friends'. If we can talk about them---we can love on them. 

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."

Job 19:19 "All my intimate friends detest me, those I love have turned against me."

Proverbs 22:11 "One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend."

Proverbs 17:9 "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."

What are we doing to cover offenses? To stay closer than a brother? To heal wounds? Are we taking sides? I remember during my miscarriages, a passage in Romans that stood out to me. 

Romans 12:9-21
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
I guess, the best way that this has woven itself into my heart is through this pregnancy. We all face something in life---it is a fact. I just pray that when my son or daughter (and even future children) go through one of those "things" that they have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That they have a friend, right next to them crying--not because they understand, but because they love my child. I pray that my children are forces of greatness and healing in relationships with others instead of one who separates. I pray that my child will cover offenses with their love, and not point them out with judgement. I pray that this child, who is growing every week, will foster a love for Christ that translates to others. One of my favorite songs to describe this is "Words" by Hawk Nelson. Take a listen, even if you know it:

I can't find a good way to transition into an update. That bothers me so very much from a writing perspective. Anyway, I am feeling pretty good. I thought a funny way to update would be a segment that I notice throughout each week or couple of weeks or whatever so....

You Know You're Pregnant When....

1. People look at you with the question "Is she fat or pregnant?" in their eyes
2. You order maternity clothing that's "sized the same way before you were pregnant" and it doesn't fit.
3. You cannot plan a meal simply because as soon as you make it, you want something else.
4. You feel accomplished simply because you cleaned the kitchen, OR, laundry---but never both.
5.You have a super power---it's called your nose, and you can smell a little girl eating cheerios over 2 rooms away.
6. You could sleep all day, all night and still be tired....oh wait, you have to wake up to go pee, you have to readjust your nest of pillows every 30 minutes, you're wide awake at the most random times....the list goes on an on!
7.You're husband is quite literally the bravest man alive because he got you the food that was the only thing you thought you could stomach that day (peaches, pickles)
8. You have to eat All. Of. The. Time. Seriously. Or else you feel sick.
9. Your husband definitely starts appreciating C's and D's instead of A's and B's. (Please don't criticize this...please?)
10. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING fits right. You're too small to show off your cute alien-like bump, and too big to fit into normal stuff.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Never Once

 So, it's out. The whole world can know if they so desire, that Simeon and I are expecting! We are beyond excited and blessed! When we found out, we were both so nervous to dare to hope. We have a wonderful doctor, who had us in every 2 weeks for ultrasounds, monitored my blood work and all around gave us the hope to believe, that this child, this time would make it into our arms.

I would be foolish to say that the joy of this baby, so precious already, diminishes the loss of their siblings. At the same time, I would also be foolish to say that this baby didn't help deal with those losses. Hezekiah's due date came and went, and I felt sadness, but so much hope.

Here is an update for those who wish to know:
- This took us completely by surprise. We were planning on adoption, then 3 weeks later...presto!
- There have been tears--lots and lots of tears.
- My first symptom was hitting wall after wall with running.
- My second symptom was crying at Food Network shows. I just felt so bad for the ones who were chopped!
- I am almost 13 weeks along (tomorrow)!
- Reaching Week 10 was a humongous milestone for us, and we felt like we could finally breathe!
- Reaching Week 12 was beyond our wildest dreams.
- I have battled with morning sickness, on and off.
- At first I craved beef--steak. Not too many cravings now, but I definitely can't plan meals ahead....
- I am not, and haven't been training for the marathon since February.
- I told multiple people on accident because of a group text incident. This was the result:
- We were hoping to wait until Mother's Day to announce, but just couldn't do it anymore because of expanding circumferences....I mean circumstances
- We told some family right away, and we played cards with the others where each ace had one of the ultrasounds pics on it.
- Simeon went and got me Jimmy John pickles a couple weeks ago because they sounded 11:00 at night...on a night much like today---dreary, windy, rainy, cold. He's the best
- As each ultrasound showed and still shows such growth, I wonder how anyone can deny that it is life. 
Week 6
Week 8
Week 10

Week 12

As far as any other updates, I have no more. I pray that you each continue to be praying for us. Feel free to print this picture out and hang it on your fridge if you'd like, but no pressure! The requests on this are what we are continually praying for! 

As I am winding down this ever rambling blog post, I remember again my favorite song over the past 2 years--Never Once by Matt Redman. We will have many more battles to face in this world, for sure, but this, my dear friends, is a victory. A HUGE one! 

"Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

He is...because He is.

Lately, I have been SOOO impatient for Spring. The nice weather. The moment there's a ghost of winter and a whisper of spring, which is my way of explaining all of the bright green buds on trees, that haven't quite bloomed yet. I am anxiously awaiting it. As I have been so impatient, I was thinking about the weather roller coaster that comes along with the changing of seasons. Even though I am impatiently awaiting the arrival of my dear friend, Warm Weather, I am okay with snow coming because I know, that spring is coming--spring will come. Just like true love, it may be delayed for a while, but it will arrive.

Like all of creation, it is easy to see a spiritual side of things here. I have been thinking about these last few years, about how we should be having hope, how this is not the plan God has designed for us, and numerous truths people have spoken to and over us. I pondered how hard it is to believe that good will come, that better days are ahead, when in the midst of a cold, shadowy winter.

Why is it so easy to eagerly await the arrival of Spring, even though it may still be snowing for some of the days, yet so difficult to even remotely see the "spring" of our lives? Am I the only one here? The seasons were designed by the Creator. We know how they should go. We know what order they go in. We know what to expect (for the most part). Yet in life, our 'seasons' continue to stay winter. We primarily see the bad...not even looking for the good God wants for us. Shouldn't we eagerly be awaiting the "Spring" God has for our lives, and know without a doubt that it will come---therefore that we should be excited for it?!

Obviously, this brought my mind to Ecclesiates 3:1-8 "A Time for Everything", and I have decided to revise it for my own personal use. Maybe it's been done before, I don't know. Ultimately the phrase I came up with to add into each "time" was "...because I am." Simply that. Because HE is, there is a time for death, a time for birth. Simply because my Creator designed it as such.

If my belief system says that God is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then my beliefs say that I must be encouraged. So that's what I am going to do. I am going to mourn in the seasons of cold, miserable, 'winter', yet at the same time KNOW that there will be a 'spring' coming--and eagerly await it.

This isn't the most eloquent of writings, not to mention quite repetitive, and fairly muddled. But it makes sense to me. If I can trust that my God knew what He was doing in creation, then I can trust that it is a direct parallel to my life.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

Friday, February 7, 2014

He is the Head

It seems to me that quite a few of my recent posts have been about marriage lately. Not because I am an expert, or because Simeon and I are just so happy and perfect, but because it's what is on my heart. Lately, I have been thinking about a Godly marriage, and what being a Godly woman is. True, Proverbs 31 lays out a pretty good guideline, but I guess the part that I am really thinking and praying about is how do I become a Godly wife, without usurping my husband's God-given authority.

This has been one of our biggest controversies in our marriage. I complain that Simeon isn't being a leader, and it shouldn't be my place to lead us in devotions, or remind him to read, or to lead us in prayer...ect. I still believe that, but as I look back and look forward, I wonder how do I encourage Simeon that he wants to be a spiritual leader for me and our eventual family.

Something that I have a really hard time with is anger. Anger contributes to a slew of not only emotions, but actions for me. Essentially this is what my anger looks like, when I get angry.

Hurt-->Anger-->Defensiveness-->Blame on Other Party-->Grudges-->Self-Righteousness--> Self-Blame

As I was really realizing the pattern of my hurt that easily turns to anger, I was really struck by something. Why would Simeon want to lead me? For instance, there were many times in our first, and even second year where he had attempted to come to me with something he saw that was not helpful, right, or even good in me to try and lead me to becoming a Godly wife and woman.When he did approach me, it was always in gentleness and love. Sometimes it was with a selfish ambition on his part, but for the most part, it wasn't. Anyway, I become defensive, then I start blaming him for my actions, then I bring up all the times in the past that he hasn't or has done something, then I start going on how "At least I try". After all is said and done, that's when I start feeling bad and get into a rut of self blame and pity. Now why would a man want to lead that?!

So that was made really apparent to me in the past month or so. Simeon has since been scared to approach me with those issues since our first 2 years, and again, I get angry at him for not leading me. The realization, sent a whirlwind of thoughts through my brain. I tell him that I want him to lead me, but don't accept his direction?! Not only that, but I have then also reminded him of where he has failed. Where can he win with this situation?! My poor husband. (This is not to say that he is above fault in anything, but really, I am writing about my sin, my issues--not his. Christ wants us to be upstanding individuals regardless of the situations and people around us.)

As I have begun praying and asking God to allow me to respond in love, I was really struck by something. If I ask that Simeon lead me, then I need to allow myself to be led. Simeon's heart that he has for me is not for the degradation of me, but for the betterment of me. I need to allow myself to be shaped by my husband, under the hand of our God. If Simeon is selfish, degrading, or wrong in how I am to be shaped, then that is his to take up with God. As long as he is not asking me to do anything sinful, then I MUST allow myself to be molded in love.

Ephesians 5 is such a well known passage:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. "

'Husbands are to love their wives and make them holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, to present her...holy and blameless'. It really made me think, that the best way I can respect my husband, is to respect the washing he is doing to me. I need to respect his leadership as the head of the home. Simeon doesn't berate me, he doesn't demand submission, he doesn't demand that it's his way or the highway; He values my opinions, my thoughts, my heart (most of the time). I need to recognize that and not suit up for battle every time Simeon has something to say.

The final thought that I have had, is that in being disrespectful to my husband's leading, I have become the leader. I have trampled over his attempts to mold me. I have degraded him with his faults--which probably makes him question his ability at being a spiritual leader. I have let him know that I haven't forgotten his past grievous actions (in my eyes)--thus eliminating what confidence I could have been instilling in him. In making my voice heard, I have drowned his out to the point that he chooses to remain silent instead of getting into an argument. 

My heart breaks for my husband, but it breaks even more knowing what I have done more than likely diminished his confidence in being a spiritual leader in our home. I guess what I am trying to say in all of this, is that we as wives, especially me, need to make sure that we are not undermining our husbands. That we are ALLOWING them to be the Godliest of men, by allowing them, through Christ, to mold us. This does not mean that we are silent wives, who have no say in the marriage or in actions that hurt us or vocalizing sin--it just means that we are behaving as we ought to--respectful, pointing things out in gentleness and love. It also means, that regardless of our husband's sins, we must remain as above reproach as possible, and still remembering, that our sins are placed upon the same exact man and cross as our husband's are.

Where does this leave me? I am a plan-of-action sort of girl. I think that I must start being gentle, allowing him to see that he can talk to me. I also must be respectful of what he has to say. Above all, I must know when to speak and what to speak so as to allow no more hindrance. Please understand that this is solely from my perspective, from my heart. Simeon might not have anything to add or to say to this. In all of my writing, I try to be transparent..sometimes it is good, sometimes I show you the ugly side of me. I pray that you, once again, be patient with me.