This week I have been reminded continually through different people and different moments that the future is a scary thing. I am a planner – I want to know what’s coming – I want to anticipate it – I want to be ready. Unfortunately, the majority of the time the future doesn’t really work that way. When we look forward we can often see a blurry picture of what’s to come, but in no way can we fully see it. I am slowly, and painfully at times, learning the beauty in that. See, God designed it this way for a reason. He knows my limitations even better than I do – He created me. And He knows that in most cases I couldn’t, nor should I be able to, handle seeing the whole picture.
This year I am working my way through Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It offers short daily devotions that are the perfect way to jump start the morning. Yesterday’s reading really made sense to me and I have been pondering it and meditating on it since then. She was discussing Deuteronomy 29:29 and she writes
Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine.
Seriously – I have never thought about the future in this context. She goes on to talk about our worry being an act of rebellion as we are refusing to trust God with these parts of our life. I know that I would never intentionally do that, but it’s exactly what I do when I spend my days worrying about the future instead of laying it down in His hands.
I think this that one of the reasons that this is hitting so close to home for me right now is that I am surrounded in uncertainty. Pregnancy is full of unknowns. When will the baby arrive? How will the baby arrive? Was that a contraction? Is everything okay? Is it normal to feel this way? … the list truly goes on and on. I try to make preparations at work and at home, but you can only do so much because you really don’t know when this child will choose to join the outside world. It’s daunting and unsettling and frustrating sometimes – and I find myself praying “God – just show me…just tell me…are you sure you’ve got this? Are you sure everything is going to be okay??” And it’s in those moments that doubt creeps in and my fears about the future and the unknowns have to be controlled – because He does know, and He does have it all worked out. This is His thing – His secret thing – and it will be revealed at the perfect time.
Now, don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a free pass to not plan for the future. I believe that we should be doing everything we can to make sure that we are financially, physically, and emotionally in a good place as we look forward. What I am talking about tonight is the fear of the future. The paralyzing feeling that keeps you from enjoying the beauty that surrounds you today because you are so fixated on what might happen tomorrow. Let it go – it’s not yours to worry about.
So, today, I choose to rest knowing that my precious son is sleeping in his bed, my little girl is growing and moving on the inside, and my incredible husband is sitting beside me. I choose to lay down knowing that God willing we will be waking up tomorrow and facing another day and we will know exactly what we need to know at the appointed time.
How do you deal with the unknowns of the future? Have you thought about the future as a secret thing that belongs to God?
For the past six weeks or so I have been itching to write again and looking for an outlet. When Alex and I started this blog, it was to document our pregnancy and birth experiences and truly share our life with our sweet friends and family. As the blog began to grow I got a little hung up on making sure that everything I shared was “monumental” and forgot to share the fun and quirky details that truly make up our day to day life. What I have discovered – I still want to share how Evan is growing and all the funny things he is doing. I still want to share some of our favorite products and recipes. I still want to share about the encouraging moments and the difficult days. Just as each day of our lives are filled with these things, so is this blog. You may never know what to expect, but you can know that it will be real, it will be genuine, and it will be “us.”
So, here we are – back again – and ready to share Our Life with you. But that’s not all – because our life is changing – QUICKLY!!
Yep – that’s right. Our sweet baby girl is scheduled to make her appearance in about 8 weeks!! We are so excited! My plan is to take some time to go back and share parts of this pregnancy journey here over the next 8 weeks. I have missed recording the milestones of this pregnancy and I want to make sure they are all here to remember as our family grows.
Evan is growing and growing…and then growing some more. He is still a little guy – not too high on the growth charts, but trust me – he is growing too fast!! He is changing so much every day – it’s unbelievable. He is running, climbing, and talking non stop. He is so silly and playful. He love love loves Toy Story and Finding Nemo. We have a collection of Toy Story characters that make their way back and forth between his room and the living room each day between morning and bedtime. He just likes to have them wherever he is. He has recently transitioned to a toddler bed so that the crib can be used for little sister. He loves his bed. Between the freedom that it gives him and the novelty of it, he just can’t get enough of it. Everyone that comes over has to go and see “MY BED!”
So, welcome back to Our Life. It is quickly changing, incredibly fun, and usually messy – but it’s ours – and we are excited to share it with you.
Do you remember high school? The majority of my high school years have blurred together and I struggle to remember things with a lot of clarity or detail. I remember the people, the places, the main events – but a lot of the details have faded. I remember long classes, football games, and cafeteria pizza. I also remember a boy.
You see, 12 years ago I sat in a high school English class and passed notes with a boy. He was so nice, smart, and really really cute! That day as we scribbled out anything on our mind to just keep the conversation going, I had no idea who this boy would become to me.
He would be my high school crush.
He would be my first kiss.
He would be my first love.
He would be my prom date.
He would be my best friend.
He would be my defender.
He would be the very best shoulder to cry on.
He would be my college study partner.
He would be my home handyman.
He would be my traveling companion.
He would be my personal chef.
He would be my husband.
On May 4, 2000 two high school freshmen began a relationship that would unexpectedly grow and become stronger day by day. 12 years later we find ourselves more in love than ever before. That cute boy that sat next to me in English class has become part of me. He knows me better than I even imagine. He has traveled the world with me. He has stood next to me on the very best and the very worst days of my life. I could not ask for a better partner in this life.
Alex – thank you for the last 4383 days. I can not imagine a single one of them without you beside me. You are the most amazing husband and father that I could have ever dreamed of. Thank you for being consistent. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being you.
i love you. always.
Growing up, I was not typically one to dream about my wedding or my future house – I didn’t picture myself in a particular dress or looking a certain way. However, I will say that as I grew older – when I pictured myself having a child – it was always a girl. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because I’m a girl? Maybe because all of my friends had little girls? Regardless of the reason, it’s what I did. It’s not that I particularly wanted a girl over a boy – it’s just what popped into my head when I thought about having a child. When I walked through a children’s clothing store I fixated on the little girl’s clothing. I really can’t remember ever noticing boy’s clothes.
Needless to say, when I got pregnant this continued. I would love to say that I was full of “mother’s intuition” and that I knew from the moment I peed on a stick that I was having a blonde haired boy and we would name him Evan and all that jazz…but that would be so not true. I’ve heard people talk about this miraculous ability…but I don’t have it. I wasn’t alone though – the majority of our family and friends along with loads of old wives tails and almanacs backed up my assumptions – I mean, who argues with an almanac! And to beat that – my claim was even validated by the airport security lady in Jamaica as she searched my bag. After looking at my stomach and asking “what kind” of baby I was having she looked at me and without a doubt said “it’s a girl.” I boarded the plane and bragged to Alex about how right I would be…
Let me give you a glimpse into the ultrasound room during our 18 week anatomy scan. I had been to this scan with several friends and in each case we had spotted the “three little lines” that let you know the baby is female. I was intently watching the screen and Alex was sitting next to me doing the same. I would have sworn to you then and there that I saw those three lines.
Ultrasound Tech: Do you want to know the gender now?
Me (super confident): I already saw…
Alex: I did too – it’s a boy!
Me: No, it’s not!
Ultrasound Tech: It’s a boy!!
A little more than 2 years ago I experienced the hardest day of my entire life.
It was the day that Elizabeth & I lost “Blue.” That was the nickname we affectionately had for our unborn baby. Our first baby. Every week we tracked what fruit he/she was growing to the size of. When blueberry came up, “Blue” kind of stuck. It was never meant to stay – we just never got the chance to give another name. 2 years ago today Blue would have been born.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so confident that there was nothing wrong. I remember calling Elizabeth that day and telling her not to worry – that I had prayed – that everything would be fine. That day was going to be a good day.
I’ll never forget that moment when they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The realization. The denial. The anger. The confusion. The deep, overwhelming sadness.
It felt as though a part of me had been ripped out. To say the next few days were tough was an understatement. Elizabeth and I went completely inward. We shut the doors on everyone. There was just so much pain – we didn’t know how to deal with it. The next few months we lived that way. Sort of like an emotional zombie – I went to work, went to church, came home, went to bed. Nothing mattered much, and I felt incredibly numb to most things.
Thinking back about it now is still hard. 2 years later, I still think about Blue. About what kind of big brother or sister he/she could have been to Evan. About how I would do anything to cradle that sweet baby in my arms just one time. I couldn’t protect this baby, and that has changed me forever.
I let my grief consume me for a really long time. I struggled with feelings of anger. Why did this happen to us? Did I not pray hard enough? Where was God? But mostly, I struggled with feeling like I was missing something – I felt incomplete.
There has been a lot of time in-between then and now. And many things have changed. In those two years we have experienced more loss, but also have experienced life, with the birth of our son, Evan.
We had prayed that God would give us stronger faith…the kind of faith that is just as strong when nothing seems to be right…faith that endures…even with such a loss as that of a child. We had to decide to trust God – To believe that His Word is true – that He is good and comes to bring abundant Life.
Evan was a gift. We gave Evan his name as a declaration. Evan means “God is good.” And that is how we have chosen to live – trusting and believing that He is good.
I have also reclaimed joy and peace in my life.
They are decisions in my life that I make every day. It doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean that I have put our experiences with loss completely behind me. To be honest, I’m not convinced that I will ever be “over” them. These are my sweet children. And I carry them with me wherever I go. I see them in Evan’s sweet smile and wild spirit. In Elizabeth’s patience and gentle heart.
We aren’t living with closed hearts anymore and are so thankful for the friends and family that have covered us with prayer and love. What would we do without you?
Last night I put Evan down for bed and just watched him for a few minutes as he slept and thanked God for all that I have been given.
We are so blessed.
Our “story” isn’t always composed with chapters that we would have chosen had we been given the pen to write them ourselves- but we can remain confident in the knowing that hope exists in the truth that the Author who writes our story, has written a truly great, and a truly magnificent ending.
May 1, 2010 -the day that our first child was due to arrive in our arms. Instead, that day came and went and our arms remained empty. Our hearts however were full – they were full of anger and bitterness and frustration. As I have shared with you, I allowed my heart to stay in that place for many months as I allowed my pain to become that biggest part of who I was. When I became pregnant with Evan, I realized that I had to open up those places of my heart and expose them so that they could begin healing. The gift of Evan began that healing process. He made the darkest moments seem completely bearable. He brought a smile on even my most difficult days. When we faced loss yet again, his sweet presence and contagious giggle allowed my scarred heart to smooth over. But healing is a journey, and I’m not sure where exactly it ends, but I know that I’m still traveling.
I mentioned my necklace several months ago and said that I would explain the significance of it one day soon. Well, today is that day. If my heart could be displayed by a symbol, this necklace would be it. The “e” is for Evan – the child that the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to hold and play with and enjoy here on earth. The emerald crystal signifies our the first little one that we still hold in our hearts – our May baby. I have a peridot crystal on order that will signify our other “heart baby” that would have been due in August. The pearl stays on the chain for now to represent the hope that we have for our future children.
It may seem silly, but this necklace is so precious to me – it has helped my heart to begin healing. To anyone else who just looks at it, it may seem like a somewhat mismatched piece of handstamped jewelry. There is nothing about it that makes it look overly special or meaningful - but that’s okay. When I put in on in the mornings, I feel peace. When Evan points at it and touches it, I smile. When I feel nervous or insecure, I find myself reaching for it. It is a symbolic representation of my greatest joy and my greatest pain.
My heart is still healing, but every day I am thankful for the peace that I have been given. A sweet friend sent me this reminder this morning,
“For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” (Isaiah 54:10 MSG)
I am so thankful for this peace that won’t fall apart. Left in my own strength, I have no doubts that each day would be a struggle, but resting in the strength of the Lord I find myself overwhelmed by His peace. The journey to “heart healing” is not easy. It is a daily effort to not give in to the heartache and crumple inwardly and give up. If you are trying to start this journey or you have been walking it alone, I encourage you to find someone who has been there. Let them walk with you, let them pray for you, let them share their own experiences with you. The wisdom of so many strong women around me has helped me to heal and I am thankful for them each and every day.
The path is not short, but the journey is worth it. Do not be discouraged, do not be afraid – you can heal, you can be restored, you can find peace.
If you read this and you are struggling to find peace, please feel free to send me a message. I would love to pray with you and believe with you as your heart heals.
Last week I started sharing my thoughts on friendship. Friendship isn’t always convenient or comfortable – but it is always worth the effort. When 2012 started I didn’t really make any “resolutions,” but I had a few goals in my mind of things that I would like to see in my life during this year. I wanted to spend more time with my family, I wanted to get more involved in things that I’m passionate about, and I wanted to focus more on helping to carry the burdens of the people around me. When the year started I was ready to jump in and do these things – and then things got a little more complicated. All of a sudden I found myself facing a tragedy that I was not ready for. After I received the news of our loss I found myself overwhelmed by the heavy weight of my burden. My heart hurt, my body ached, my mind was tormented – how were we in this place again? And then the reinforcements stepped in – friends and family that were willing to take steps for us when we were to weak, to hold up our arms and remind us to breathe. Our days were brightened by encouraging words and thoughtful gestures. The people surrounding us stepped in and helped carried our burdens. I will be forever grateful.
I remember the first time I truly began to understand this concept. In college I was so fortunate to be a part of an incredible group of women that taught me what it meant to be truly vulnerable and to carry the burdens of the people that you loved. These ladies lived out these principles every day and taught me to do the same thing. Some call it friendship, some call it sisterhood - I call it rare. This type of friendship – this type of love is scattered and often forgotten in the bustle of our day to day lives. We forget that it is actually something that we have been called to do. Our relationships should be marked by this love – this love should be demonstrated through our actions.
“Burdens” aren’t always a dark tragedy or a life changing circumstance. A friend can be burdened by a difficult day or a frustrating situation – taking the time to talk through that trial or distract them with a impromptu coffee break may be exactly what they need. Even something simple as card or a phone call can demonstrate your love and remind them that they are not carrying this burden alone.
I want to be this kind of friend. I want to bear the burdens of the people around me and remind them that they are never walking alone. I am so thankful for the dear people in my life who have taught me this – who have showed me this – who live this out every single day. You have made an impact, you have made a difference – I am forever grateful.
It’s Friday which means I am typically in a fabulous mood waiting for the work day to pass and ready to launch into a weekend with my favorite guys. Being in a good frame of mind means that it’s an excellent time to reflect on the week and what I could/should do differently for next week. My solid, heartfelt instruction to myself this week – quit complaining! I would like to think that I don’t constantly complain about things, because in all honesty I love my life. However, I am well aware of the fact that I complain much too often and I could use a makeover in this area. I want to be characterized as someone who speaks positive, encouraging words that bring life – not depressing, downcast words that leave others feeling discouraged. Let’s be real – no one likes a complainer. I want to use my words wisely – because they are powerful!
Last week I listened to an awesome podcast by Holly Furtick at Elevation Church. In part of her message she talked about complaining and shared about something she had done with a small group involving a bracelet that you switched back and forth on your wrists anytime you complained. This sounded pretty interesting, so I thought I would look into it a little more. The idea is based out of a book by Will Bowen from Christ Church in Missouri. Essentially, he gave everyone in his church a bracelet and encouraged them to “move the bracelet from one wrist to the other every time they caught themselves being cranky, nagging, whiny, mean-spirited or critical.” The thought behind this is that becoming aware of when and how often we complain is a major step in changing that habit. I haven’t read his book, but I am a fan of the bracelet idea and I’m giving it a shot with a friend of mine. I’ll report back on our progress. You could obviously do this with any bracelet, but Holly bought bracelets for her group from the A21 campaign – a group that helps fight human trafficking. Maybe this would also be a way to support a charity that you love – 2 positives at once – yes, please!
Complaining doesn’t only impact the people around us, but it can really bring us down. Filling our mind with negative thoughts is a surefire way to have a terrible, unfulfilled day. I think this is why we are encouraged to think about positive, pure, lovely truths – this will bring peace to your mind and a smile to your face. And trust me – I know this is so much easier to say than to actually do – especially when you have a valid reason to be complaining! Just try to keep in mind that even though your frustrations are completely legitimate it’s really not beneficial to you or anyone else around you to stay in that negative place and dwell on it. Being able to let it go and move forward is only going to make you feel better. Give it a shot!
So, my goal is to cut out the complaining – I may need you all to occasionally remind me of this! Any thoughts or suggestions about things that have helped you stay positive?
I’ve developed a list of the things that absolutely have to happen this summer and I’ll do periodic check ins to see how we are doing at checking things off the list.
What are your plans this summer? Any suggestions of things we should add to our list?
Relationships are easily one of the most important aspects of our life. Our relationship with our family, our friends, God, total strangers – how we value and handle these relationships define who we are to those people. I recently began a list of topics that I wanted to write about and share with you – I quickly noticed a common thread. The majority of the posts were focused on relationships. So, today I start sharing my heart with you about this subject.
I remember when friendships were as simple as a friendship bracelet and a sleepover. Days were marked with nothing else to do but go back and forth between to each others houses to talk about boys, eat snacks, and annoy our parents. However, as we grow up many times we forget that these relationships have to grow as well. The same depth of friendship I had with someone as a 12 year old isn’t going to carry through the complete joy and heart wrenching pain of my adult life – I must invest in these relationships and help them mature and deepen as I do.
I believe that many times people are placed in our life. Sometimes it is because we desperately need someone in that moment of time to speak into our life. Sometimes we need to be able to pour into someone else and make a difference in their life. Sometimes (moms) we are just lonely and need another person to talk doesn’t throw their food and is above the age of 5. Regardless of the reason that people enter our lives it is typically up to us whether or not they remain there. It is up to us to be intentional about our relationships – like most good things in life, relationships require nurture and attention – without these things they will die. This is true whether you are talking about your relationship with your spouse, your mom, your friend, or the Lord – time, vulnerability, and consideration must be present – you must be intentional. So, what does that really mean?
I think being intentional typically involves time. Relationships don’t always happen at our convenience – in fact, they typically don’t. Sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice some of your own convenience to be there for a friend when they need you. Whether it is due to a crisis or just a need to invest some time into a relationship that is growing distant – suck it up and do it and remember that life is not all about you. And let’s be honest – making a phone call to check in on someone, sending a card, meeting for dinner or coffee – does not take that much time. However, it is so easy to let a day slip by, and then a week, and then three months without taking the time to check on someone. That’s why it is important to intentionally plan interactions with the people that matter. That may seem crazy to some people – and some of you may not agree with me. You may feel that the relationships that matter will just happen and the ones that don’t, won’t – I strongly disagree. Relationships require effort. Relationships require time. Relationships require selflessness.
Something I am coming to realize at this point in my life is that relationships are messy. We are human and we carry loads of baggage into any relationship that we enter. This often makes a relationship uncomfortable – I don’t know how to talk about that…I don’t know how to handle that…I don’t know what to say. To have a successful relationship, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Bad stuff will happen, difficult times will come – this is when our desire to care for someone else must override our desire to not get our hands dirty. I encourage you to dive into your friend’s mess with them and help them muddle their way out – this is when it truly counts to “be there for someone.” It’s easy to be there when it doesn’t require much effort – it’s much more remarkable to be there when it requires a little more work. Sometimes we choose to just be standing on the other side of someone’s struggle when they walk out of it – today, I encourage you to push through that difficult time with them – laugh, cry, talk, just be there – your actions will mean so much more than you know.
So, today – be intentional. Reach out to someone that you have felt grow distant. Take the time to truly listen to their needs. Make the effort. I can’t think of a time when I put myself out there and made a relationship a priority and then had regrets. So whether it is your husband, your friend, your parent, your child, or God – plan that time for interaction. I am especially feeling the need for this in my relationship with God lately – I mentioned that I was making my quiet time more of a priority. If this is something that you are trying to do as well as strongly recommend my friend Kayse’s recent series on Conquering Quiet Times. It’s an inspiring read that will help you become more intentional about making time for your relationship with the Lord.
Just do it – no more excuses – no more waiting. I don’t care if it’s a little uncomfortable – make those relationships a priority. It’s worth the effort.