Thursday, June 8, 2017

All Aboard the Crazy Train

Have you ever had that moment in life or in parenting where someone asks "where are you headed" and the only thing that comes to mind is "crazy"?  I don't know how many times I've said that to my kids as a response to "where are we going".  In this thing called life, things can get crazy and it sometimes feels like you're sinking.

I've been blessed to be married for about 12 1/2 years now and Pat has become my confidante, cheerleader, comfort, and rest.  At the end of the day I know I have my family who always has my back no matter what life may throw our way I know we can get through it together.  Through the years I've had to really think about who I am now and who it is I want to be or who I think God wants me to be.  It's hard sometimes to figure out what your purpose is in this life or what you're put here to do that really brings glory to God and that you just absolutely love doing.  Just the other day I was sitting at work and I was thinking, man I really like my job.  I get to meet new people all the time and I help keep myself and my recruiters organized but is that really my calling?!  Is that really what I was put here on earth to do?

As much as I hate to admit it because I'm almost as old as his mother, I am a Justin Bieber fan.  Don't hate me!  Anyway, I've found myself listening to some of his interviews he's done recently and just things he's said and how he's changed.  I remember when Pat and I were about his age, early 20s and it felt like we were being pulled in a million directions.  I was a new Christian myself and Pat was as well.  We were trying to navigate through figuring out who we were and what we needed to become.  We both knew we wanted to have kids and start a family and we had some mentors and absolutely amazing friends that we could trust and bounce decisions off of that were much further along in their christian walk than we were.  I'm so thankful that we had those friends then and that we still have those friends today.  There have been so many times in my life where I just needed someone to listen, other times where I needed Godly advice from someone who wasn't afraid to tell me the truth but to tell me in love.  Back to the Biebs...I think about how hard is was for me and for Pat being average joe's trying to navigate that time in our lives.  I cannot even imagine what it's like for a star, any star, to go through that time in their life, feeling alone, vulnerable, and just sometimes lost.  I think it's amazing that with him being so young and as rich and famous as he is that he seems to be grounded and he's been able to seek out mentors that really speak life into him, help him through his struggles.  I can't imagine how hard it must be to find people who you can actually trust and aren't just after you for your fame or fortune.

The more I thought about the Biebs the more I realized, he's away from his family so much.  Touring the world and being gone so much has to be hard.  Having to put on a smile when you're having a bad day or when you're feeling lonely or sad I'm sure is tough.  Something that popped in my head as a comparison when my mind was just wandering aimlessly while thinking about this the other night is our friends that are more like family went through something similar.  Granted they're not superstars or rich and famous but they gave up everything, traveled the country to raise money to be able to become missionaries in another country.  They're away from everyone and everything they knew to give selflessly to those around them.  I thought about while traveling how many times did they get a home cooked meal, how many times did they get to just relax and rest, how many times did they get to stay in a home instead of just a hotel.  Here's what my thinking is: One of my very favorite things to do was to have them stay with us when they came through St. Louis.  Even though our home is small and it was a total of 9 of us staying here, I loved every minute of it.  I liked making food for them, giving them a home to relax, feel rejuvenated because here's the thing, when you're at our house I don't wait on you.  We want you to be comfortable with making yourself at home.  If you're thirsty grab a drink you shouldn't have to ask.  I was just thinking how awesome it would be to be a "host home" for missionaries passing through.  One of my love languages is Acts of Service.  I love doing things for people and just seeing them happy and enjoying their time.  I want my life to make a difference in others, not merely go to work, come home and go to bed.  Who's with me?!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why do we...

As I'm sitting at home alone for a little while (Pat took the kids to the library so I could have a little peace and quiet) I was cleaning up the kitchen and doing a quick load of laundry and vacuuming.  While I was physically doing things, my mind was somewhere else completely.  Why do we as women, or maybe it's just me, rely on what others think of us so much?  We put on a facade that we have the best family, the most amazing kids, we compare our bodies to other women, and we take to heart when someone tells us we're pretty (or the opposite).  It made me start thinking of my past…

In 6th grade I remember having my first boy/girl birthday party and I was so excited.  We played the game spin the bottle and it was akward and weird but fun.  I remember at that age, 11 or 12 years old thinking that I needed to be something that I thought guys wanted.  I came from a loving family, both of my parents are still married today so why did I feel it was necessary to do whatever means necesary to get guys' attention?  Move forward to 7th grade.  I had my first "boyfriend" and despite everyone telling me he was only looking for one thing, I ignored them and we had fun hanging out.  We went to a bonfire, because that's what you do when you have friends in the boonies ;).  I did some things that looking back, I regret.  He never forced anything on me, never pressured me to do anything, never was rude or mean to me.  After that night, I broke things off pretty quickly realizing my friends were right and they love me and were trying to protect me. Then along comes high school.  I'm at a friend's house and I see a cute guy and ask her who he was.  Come to find out he lived up the street from her and was friends with a mutal friend of ours.  He had a girlfriend at the time, so I didn't think much of it but we all started hanging out as friends.  During this time, I was still concerned with how others saw me or thought of me.  Eventually that guy and I dated for a while in high school and things were great.  He was fun and funny and everyone seemed to like him.  I remember one time specifically he'd come over after school and we were sitting on my front porch talking and I don't remember the whole conversation or the context but I remember his words still to this day, "well you're not the prettiest girl…".  That crushed me.  Why did I care so much about what he thought about my appearance?  Eventually him and I broke up and I decided I was going to work on me.  I eventually got saved and started exercising regularly, started wearing make up (yeah I didn't really wear any until my senior year of highschool), and I started reading my bible.  Then comes another guy.  He's a friend of a friend, and they introduced me to him knowing that I hadn't had a boyfriend in a while and we were just looking to hang out and have fun, nothing serious.  This guy, he told me how pretty I was and how he liked my eyes.  He would bring me flowers and despite my best efforts, I ended up falling for him and we dated all summer before my senior year.  Even though I got saved pretty much right before I met him, I went down a dark path while dating him and really started relying on his word and his thoughts of me.  He ended up cheating on me and leaving me at a school dance and I was devastated.  I think this set the tone of trust for any of my future relationships.  It makes it hard for me to now believe my husband when he tells me I'm beautiful and that he loves everything about me.  There's always that little voice in the back of my head that is saying "he doesn't really mean it, he's just saying that to get what he wants".  I hate that those thoughts creep in, that they play over in my mind because it's not my husband's fault that someone else hurt me.  I have no reason to doubt him when he tells me I'm beautiful.  I still have a hard time not comparing myself to other women and feeling like I don't measure up.

Anyway, so as all of these thoughts about my past are running through my mind, I start thinking about Alaina.  I want her to know who she is in Christ, that's she's beautiful and treasured.  I want her to know that we love her no matter what and that God has big plans for her future.  I don't want her to have to rely on what boys tell her or what her friends say.  I don't want her to compare herself to other girls because she's special and unique and God only made one of her.  I love how happy and sweet and silly and funny she is and I know that if I love all of that about her, how much more does God love all those things (and more) about her?!  I'm just rambling on but basically my goal, as a mom, is to just instill in her who she is in Christ so she never has to rely on the world's opinion of her.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thinking about the Past

Have you ever had those moments in life when you look back and you're just amazed of what you've been through and whom you have become?  Most of the time people reflect on things around special dates like a birthday or anniversary.  Today I had one of those moments and it was for nothing in particular.  Right after I was thinking about my past and our past as a couple, I received a text from Pat,

"I was just thinking about you and it made me happy.  If I had to, I would choose you all over again."

First of all, this totally made my day.  Just to know that he was thinking about me the same time I was thinking about him made me happy.  Second, it's interesting because he doesn't always send me texts like that, but he did today and right around the same time that I was reminiscing.  So today I was just randomly thinking about how God has weaved everything together in my life as well as our lives together.

When Pat and I started dating, we were only 18 years old.  I had only had 1 serious boyfriend and only "dated" two other guys prior to meeting him.  The guy that I dated before I met Pat had cheated on me and broke my heart and I went a year without dating anyone and promised myself that I would wait for the one that God wanted for me.  I had recently gotten saved and when I met Pat he wasn't at all.  Despite all of my adult influences, I disregarded their advice and dated him anyway.  Then, we got engaged at 19, married at 21, and had our first baby at 22.  My only life goals when I was younger were to get married, have kids, go to college, and I wanted to be a stay at home mom (SAHM).  Well when Declan was 6 months old, I quit my job to stay home with him and started babysitting.  Things were pretty great for a while, we were newly married couple, had an amazing, laid back baby, everything was great.  About 18 months after Declan was born I found out I was pregnant with Alaina.  We moved into a new apartment (on the 3rd floor) and we were excited to be expanding our family.  I was still staying home with Declan and babysitting and for the most part it was great.  Pat decided to go back to school in the fall of 2007 and I was due 12/29/07.

This is when difficulty started entering into our marriage.  I started becoming resentful and jealous that he never wanted to go to college and yet he got to go and I was "stuck at home" all the time.  Even though it's what I wanted, to stay at home, now I was feeling resentful and jealousy.  For about a year I wasn't sure we were going to stay married.  I wasn't sure that we could keep the covenent that we had made on 12/18/04.  When you get married, vows typically include "for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer".  I think a lot of times we as humans think that it's optional.  We went through some incredibly tough times, some hurtful times, and some very poor times.  I would be lying if I said all 11 years of our marriage have been blissful.

Thankfully I have a friend that I treasure so much.  She's someone I can trust and that I know will tell me what I need to hear and not just what I want to hear.  I know I can go to her about anything and she will speak truth and life into me.  I'm so thankful for our friendship and even though she lives so far away, I know that I can always count on her.  She was a mentor for me when Pat and I were dating, she was the matron of honor in our wedding and she was the one I turned to (other than God) during the most difficult time in my marriage and my life.

Looking back now, I can see that God used EVERY SINGLE circumstance to make me into the person I am today.  I pray that my kids don't have the kind of heartache that we went through, that we can teach them and raise them to learn from our mistakes so they don't have to experience that.  However, I know that through everything I've learned so much not only about Pat, but about myself.  My ability to love, give generously when I feel like I have nothing left, forgive, extend grace and mercy.  I've also had to learn some very tough lessons.  I am forever grateful for the change in both of our lives, our church, and our family.  I'm thankful that we were able to stick together through thick and thin, to turn to God to get us through the darkest and most difficult times, and to keep moving forward.

Here we are today:
Been married for 11 years
Both college graduates
Have amazing and loving kids
Have great jobs that we enjoy
Have an amazing church
Have a house that we purchased

We couldn't have made it this far if it weren't the support of God, our family, friends, church, mentors, and leaders.  I am extremely thankful and grateful for each experience in my life that has molded me and made me into the person I am today.  And to Pat, I love you more now than I ever thought I could. You're my best friend, and the person I love spending time with the most.  Thank you for loving me, providing for me, being an amazing father and a fantastic husband.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random Thoughts

First of all Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  It's been a while since I've written a blog post and on my way home from spending time with my family I was thinking.  I started thinking about something I had told my husband on the phone and then it led me to remember this past week's message at church.

So, I call my husband on my way home from my family's Thanksgiving.  Side note, typically we do holiday gatherings together but this year was a unique situation that I'm not going to get into.  I was telling him about our family and I mentioned to him "I forgot to tell you, the other day while at QT some guy called me babe and it caught me off guard and then tonight at dinner, my uncle's brother in law told me that I'm a very pretty girl."  It was weird that in the last week I've encoutered strangers say something like this to me twice.  I've always struggled with believing that I'm beautiful or pretty or whatever.  Since I've been a Christian, I've tried to see myself through God's eyes.  Unfortunately I'm human and honestly I think Pat is the only person that's told me I'm pretty or beautiful besides my grandpa.  I've always found it hard to believe Pat when he tells me I'm pretty or that I look nice.  I've assumed he's just saying it out of duty or because he thinks it will make me feel good.  Then tonight, it hit me.  The reason I don't believe him is because I put my views and thoughts of myself on him and assume he feels the same way.  Especially after having two kids and a desk job…it does some things to your body.  It's not fair to him that I don't believe him when he tells me this and why do I find it flattering or easier to believe when a stranger says it?!?!  The more I thought about it the more I realized that when I don't believe Pat is being genuine and telling me the truth it's like I'm calling him a liar every time he says that.  It creates a little disconnect every time.  This is by no means fair to him at all.  This brought me to think of our church message last week.

The pastor was talking about putting others before ourselves and how that creates joy in our lives.  Joy is something we choose where happiness is caused by our circumstances.  I agree with this 100%.  He went on to talk about pride and not forgetting where we came from.  This message has really stuck with me this week as this is something I struggle with daily.  I honestly love to help people and I love doing things for other people, however, people that really truly know me know that I love to be right.  This is something I have to be very conscious about when discussing things, especially with Pat.  I hate that I have this quality and I'm always trying to get better about not always having to be right and I would love to say that I'm getting better but honestly, I'm not sure that is true.  Nine times out of ten, Pat will be the first one to say sorry.  He's the one that smiles and let me go on and on about why I'm right.  Even though he lets me go on and on, sometimes it drives me crazy because I know he doesn't believe that I'm right even though I know I am.  Oh and apparently I'm a control freak, too.  Can you tell?

So to tie everything together, I was thinking about my views about myself and how I'm right and Pat shouldn't think that I'm beautiful.  After all my body doesn't look anything like it did when we started dating 13 years ago and I certainly am not as energetic as I used to be.  Through it all though, I need to remind myself that he loves me for more than just my outward appearance.  Even if I don't believe I'm beautiful, I need to believe him when he says I am.  I need to trust that he's being genuine and sincere and honest.  I'm not in control and I can't be "right" about something that's his opinion.  So, for all you ladies out there that feel less than beautiful but have a loving husband that tells you that you are, believe him.  Make sure you accept the compliment and let him know that you appreciate him, his honestly, and his sincerity.  It will change your life and your marriage and possibly even the way you see yourself!

Proverbs 31:10-31 (msg)
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it…
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
bt you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the fear-of-God.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Grandpa

Yesterday was a difficult day for our family.  We said our final goodbye to Pats grandpa.  First of all I would like to say that my husband did an amazing job speaking during the memorial service.  He kept his composure and really painted a lovely picture of who his grandpa was as a person.  Having lost my grandpa 10 years ago, I quickly adopted Pats grandparents a my own.  I imagine if my grandpa would have lived to see my children he would have been very similar to Pat's grandpa.  They both loved being outside, had a love of life, and everyone they knew was a better person for knowing our grandpas.  Ken was such a genuine, sincere, kind, and generous man.  I remember one semester when I was going to school and Pat was working nights and we only had one car, without hesitation his grandparents not only drive to our house once a week (45 minutes one way) to stay with our kids, and let me use their car to get to and from school.  I loved how Ken enjoyed the presence of our kids, helped them swim, let them "drive" his tractor, loved hiding the Easter eggs for the hunt every year, and all the tidbits of knowledge he instilled in my kids.  He is definitely going to be missed but his love, generosity, friendship, and kindness will live on through those lives that he has touched!

Monday, August 18, 2014

My testamony

A few weeks ago I went out to breakfast with a friend from church and while we were talking she said something that has stuck with me since.  I was talking about my life and how I came to know Christ and she said "you should really write that down somewhere, that's a great story."  So here I am, to write out my story and how God has changed my life.  I can honestly say since I've given my life to Christ, I hear people say they know exatly when God came into their life, the moment they were saved or the exact date of their salvation.  For me, it was more of a process.  I don't know the exact date, but there were different instances that are extremely clear in my mind that were shaping me into when I would finally choose to live for God.

It started when I was about 6 years old.  I hung out with a family that lived across the street from me and her family and I would sometimes go to church with them.  I was raised Catholic and although I don't have anything against Catholicism or people that are Catholic, for me, it was B O R I N G.  I loved going with my friend to her church and going to a "class" with a bunch of other kids our age.  I found myself counting the colors on the stained glass windows of our catholic church on Sundays or just make sure I was quiet enough so I could ask my mom if I was good afterwards.  I don't remember ever listening to a single "message".  I learned my first Bible verse when I was 6 at Vacation Bible School with my friend that I went with.  It was John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life".  At age six I can honestly say that I had no idea what that meant.  I didn't think too much about it after vacation bible school.  When I was about 7 a new girl moved in up the street from me.  I liked going to her house to play because she had just about every barbie you could think of and the HUGE barbie dream house.  I remember going up to her house one time and her mom asked me if I had Jesus in my heart.  At the time it kind of scared me thinking someone was in my heart but I answered her and said no.  She prayed with me and I asked Jesus into my heart and repeated the prayer after her.  I didn't feel any different and nothing seemed to change so I went about my way.

Many years and things happened between that time and my next "encounter".  When I was 11 years old I got invited to an event called Acquire the Fire with a friend from school.  There were a few people I knew that were going so I decided what the heck and I went along with her and some people from her youth group.  I remember feeling really uncomfortable and not knowing anyone.  Anyone that knew me when i was younger, I was EXTREMELY shy.  I felt incredibly anxious being around people I didn't know.  Everyone was very nice and friendly and that night I remember making my own decision to follow Jesus.  The leaders that went with us bought a bible for me that I still use to this day, it's one of my favorites.  I specifically remember the speaker talking about living for Christ meant giving up "worldly things" whatever that meant.  He talked about getting rid of the non-glorifying music that led to sin.  Whether it was the ambiance, emotion, or anxiety, I left there feeling different and determined to change.  Throughout middle school I went to my first concert: Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk, went to a weekend music festival that was SO MUCH FUN, and meeting different friends and christian people that I went to school with.  By this time, my family was no longer attending church at all.

Getting into my high school years, I drifted away and hung out with different people.  It wasn't until my senior year of highschool that my parents had found a new church, a small church, and told me I should visit.  I decided to give it a shot and once again at the age of 18 I prayed the prayer of salvation.  This time I was ready to live for God, I was ready to give up the things I didn't think I could.  I stopped cussing, I stopped listening to certain music, I was no longer hanging out with certain people.  And then came a boy.  It once again derailed me from the direction I was headed.  I got caught up in what I wanted instead of what I should have been focused on.  Thankfully I had a dear friend that came along after that relationship broke me.  I decided that was it.  I was young, I was going to live for God, I was no longer going to chase after boys.  I didn't need guys to make me happy I only needed God.

For a solid year I was reading my Bible, faithfully going to church, tithing, and living the kind of life God would have been proud of.  Then I met Pat!  He was the only guy that ever just flat out asked for my number.  I went out with him a few times and he was not saved at the time and many people told me it was a bad idea to stay with him.  I chose to not listen to anyone and dated him anyway.  After a year we were engaged and two years later at the age of 21 we were married.  I would like to say it's all been a fairytale but it hasn't.

A month after we were married I found out I was pregnant.  We were excited to start our little family but we were both working part time jobs.  We still had so much growing up to do that we weren't even aware of.  Thankfully he had gotten saved when he was 18 as well but like me, it was a process.  We had baby #1 and he was a breeze, so laid back, rarely cried, slept anywhere.  We thought we had it made.  I wanted 4 kids and he wanted 3.  So when Declan was about 19 months we found out baby #2 was on the way.  Things were going well, Pat was now working full time and I stayed at home with Declan while babysitting for a little extra income.  We were attending a new church, another church plant, as the one we were members of previously had dissolved.  We started skipping church, we were fighting a lot, we weren't really spending quality time together and we started growing distant.

After Alaina was born we had some really rough marital patches that nearly tore our marriage apart.  Thankfully I have a dear friend that speaks truth and life into me and doesn't just tell me what I want to hear.  I was ready to walk away from the marriage and move on but I knew that God didn't want that.  I knew that God was about forgiveness, mercy, love.  He loves all his children the same and even though I tend to rate sin, he sees it all the same.  After many tears, pleading, and begging with God, I finally gave in to what I knew in my heart he was telling me.  Was it easy, no way but where I am now, I can honestly say that it one of the times in my life that I have felt the closest to God.  I believe that out of that difficult time in our marriage I learned more about forgiveness, grace, and mercy than I ever thought I would know.

We decided to turn a new leaf, start our marriage fresh, and that included finding a new church (that we didn't want to skip).  We started going to Element when Alaina was about 9 months old.  We have been going ever since and although it wasn't completely Element church that saved our marriage, once we started going there our lives changed.  It truly changed our marriage, our parenting, and definitely made me more hungry for God's word.  I started reading my bible more and started reading books that would inspire my walk with God.  Here we are, married 9 1/2 years and I would say that the only reason our marriage has been blessed is because we decided to make God the center of our lives.  He is the center of our marriage, our parenting, our decisions.  Yes we still make mistakes, yes we still have struggles, but we don't focus on the problems because we know that God will always have our backs and no matter what we go through, we're never alone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What is Beauty….really?!?!?!

After reading this article the other day on Facebook, I've been thinking about this a lot.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bridgette-white/exposed-by-my-children-for-what-i-really-look-like_b_5613551.html

This woman talks about how her kids took a picture of her laying on a beach and how mortified she was when she was flipping through her photos and saw it.  I can totally sympathize with her.  When I met Pat I was a size 8.  I was comfortable with the way I looked and I felt great.  Now, after being married 9 1/2 years, having two kids, and working a full time job, I find little to no motivation to work out and keep my body looking slim and in shape.  Yes, I want to be healthy and be an example for my kids but after reading that article, I'm wondering how many kids would say their mommy is super beautiful just the way she is.  I find myself sometimes not wanting to play with the kids or get in the pool because I've gained so much weight and I'm no longer attractive.  On the other hand, they're going to remember me doing things with them more than me watching or me being thin.  I feel like I've done a huge disservice to my children by talking about myself and how fat I have become and then taking it a step further and not playing with them or spending as much time with them because I'm worried about me and how other people might see me.  This is a reality check for me to know that I am made in the image of God, I'm beautiful regardless of what society says.  Who am I going to choose to listen to, who God says I am or what the world says I should be?!?!