This has been the worst summer of my life. That is quite a statement for me to make, I mean I really hate throwing around words like best and worst. I know that it could always be worse than it is and that so many more people have things much harder than I to deal with. But for me, this statement is true. I don't know that it will be the worst summer of my life in 30 years, but up 'til now it reigns supreme. Losing the baby was awful. It was so much harder than I imagined it could be in so many different ways, and yet it was not nearly as hard as I had imagined in other ways. Ya know? I am still going to the doctor every week, or every other week to have my HCG levels checked because I am not yet back to zero. I have to pay for every single test, every single week. I also am not exactly healthy yet since the miscarriage. Beyond losing my baby, there have been a myriad of other nice little problems that have reared their ugly head. The bills from the hospital that keep coming in (who knew seeing a PA for not quite 30 minutes could cost so much money?), the kids testing boundaries and deciding that screaming is the best form of communication and attacks on my marriage the likes of which I never thought possible. Wow! If this world was supposed to be the place I found my happiness I would sure be despairing right about now. But I am so thankful that it is not. I am so thankful that I know I don't belong here. How did C.S. Lewis put it- we're living in "enemy-occupied territory"? And it feels like that enemy has built his base on my front lawn! But in the midst of the darkness, the pain and the grief I have - joy. What? Joy? Does that even make sense? No, it doesn't. Though it may not always show, and though I am hurting and grieving and struggling with all of the pain from all of the blows the enemy is throwing at me and my family, underneath it all I have peace and joy. I know that I know that I know that God loves me. I know that He has a plan for me. And I know that He has called me His own, His child, His heir, His beloved. And because He has called me He will work all of this together for my good. We often think that belonging to Him is some sort of security policy - I'll follow God and be a good person and nothing bad will ever happen to me; He'll look out for me and protect me because I am such an asset to Him; He doesn't let bad things happen to good people. I guess we've never really read and understood the Bible then, or we've believed others words over the Lord's because the Bible says the exact opposite of that. Ever heard of Job? He was faithful to God, a good man - so much so that God was bragging about him. He endured so much pain and all just to test his loyalty. What about David, the man after God's own heart? - He hid in caves avoiding death for years, lost his wife and his best friend before he was able to take hold of his God-given throne. Paul - stoned, beaten, ship-wrecked, starved - all after he chose to follow Christ. The list goes on and on, topped with Jesus, God's own son. Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble, not might but will. But to take heart, for He has overcome the world. But our hope is not in this world. Our lives don't end when we stop breathing, in fact, they are truly just beginning. So as I take stock of my worst summer I am grateful. I am grateful that God gave me the ability to get pregnant and the knowledge that He has my baby in Heaven. So many women lose a child or abort their baby thinking that it is the end, and there is nothing to look forward to. How hard to have to say a permanent goodbye with no hope. I am grateful that my children are healthy and strong-willed. Even though it is hard to train and teach them, it is how God made them and part of what makes them special, and part of what they will need to accomplish the plans and purposes He has called them to. Although the bills are high, they could be much higher. I could have had to stay in the hospital for weeks, and Patrick could be unemployed so we would have no way of paying for them. Although it is hard to go back each week, each time I am greeted by a wonderful staff whom I trust and the news is better each time. And though my marriage has been hit hard by the enemy, we are growing closer because of it. We are turning toward each other and toward God as a couple in a way that we never have before. I believe with all of my heart that this awful summer is going to be one of the biggest blessings we have ever received. God allows us to go through these things and we can respond one of 2 ways - turn to Him, or away from Him. He will be glorified with or without us. The men of faith I mentioned earlier all chose to follow God in the hard times, and all of them received a far greater reward for their faithfulness than the pain that they endured. We can choose to praise Him though we don't understand, or we can go our own way and look for answers in other places. But let me save you some searching - He is the only way to peace. He is the only freedom. Every other way offers you some joy or peace or escape, but it really just ensnares you with a taste of those things, followed by a lifetime of bondage. We all have our struggles, and maybe you read my problems and laugh because they are nothing compared to yours. But God is big enough for the biggest problems and small enough to care about the littlest annoyances. He wants them all. He wants all of me. He wants all of you. So as I look back on this summer and see the hand of God in it all, I may have to change my opening statement - this may just be the best summer of my life.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated - that, in a way, life is overrated. We have lost, somehow a sense of mystery - about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Our ancestors believed in 2 worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it caused such - unhappiness. The reason: if you don't believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness - if that is what you believe, then you are not disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches - you are despairing." - Peggy Noonan
at 12:18 PM
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I am emerging from some of the worst weeks of my life. On Saturday, July 17th, we lost our 3rd child. I was 8 1/2 weeks pregnant, and we were waiting a few more weeks to share the news with everyone. This pregnancy was unexpected, but so exciting. In fact we called the baby our little miracle because we had taken every precaution not to get pregnant and still found ourselves expecting this precious baby. We were thrilled to have a new little baby on the way, due in February and making us the parents of 3 babies under 3. But on Wednesday, July 14th, I started having issues. I tried not to worry, as this can be very normal. But it wasn't normal for me. The issues continued on and off until Saturday, when it got much worse. Patrick and I hurried to the ER, where it was confirmed that I had been having a miscarriage for the past few days. It was awful, horrible, scary and heart-breaking. The worst thing I have ever gone through. We spent 6 hours at the hospital mourning the loss of our little child, scared and hurting. We came home and tried to mourn and comfort one another. Patrick was amazing, my hero in all of this. I was so proud of his strength and his compassion. I love him so much more after all of this. But the nightmare didn't stop there. After enduring what felt like my heart being ripped out we were met with ridiculous bills, more doctor appointments, and the following Thursday a scary prognosis. I got a call saying that the lab tech had found that my pregnancy was a molar pregnancy. This means that some sort of mass overtook my baby and was growing inside my uterus. It happens in 1/1000 pregnancies, always results in miscarriage, and requires a year of no pregnancy and monthly doctor visits to ensure that the mole does not return. Then the lady said something about precancerous cells. What?! Talk about scary. I went from one day excitedly expecting my third child to losing a baby and possibly a condition? No! As soon as the spotting started I felt very strongly that it was an attack from the enemy. Now I know that it was. He is trying to scare me and my family, and I say no. After 4 days of no answers and lots of prayer and worry, I met with my doctors who told me that my placenta overtook my baby, that it was all completely gone, no worry of cancer and that as soon as my HCG levels (pregnancy hormones in the blood) go back to normal pre-pregnancy levels I am fine to try again whenever I like. As of today my levels are almost to 0. Thank you Jesus! This whole ordeal has been horribly beautiful. It may seem strange for me to say that, but in the really awful times we can see God so clearly. The distractions have faded away and it is just Him and I. He provided for me and cared for me so gently and so lovingly in this that I feel so blessed to have endured it. Mind you, I would much rather be 11 weeks pregnant with my sweet baby, but I know that my little miracle is in the arms of Jesus awaiting my arrival. And throughout every moment of the miscarriage, the diagnosis, the scary waiting, worries, stressing over money and the awful things said by some hospital staff, God was there and loving me. He held my hand and gently guided my every step. The day that I lost the baby, I asked God what He had to say about my situation - would I lose the baby or not? I opened my Bible and it fell to Isaiah 51 and on the side was written the hymn Be Still My Soul. It spoke of the Lord being on my side and with me through suffering and loss. It was 5 minutes later that my miscarriage began. He allowed me to feel absolutely no pain throughout all of it, not at the hospital, not before or after. He gave me strength in the days of not knowing if I might have precancerous cells and require surgery to remove them by bringing loving family to pray over me continually and sweet notes from the few friends that Patrick had shared our heartbreak with. He allowed Patrick and I to become so much closer in all of this and taught us to treasure every second with our babies, because we are not promised one moment together or that we will always be healthy. He caused the hospital to negotiate bills with us and gave us unexpected money to pay for it. He made me grateful for my ability to bear children and hopeful about the many more we hope to have. He gave me compassion for the lost and misguided nurse who tried to console me by calling my precious child a mere piece of tissue that was not a living being. He showed me how carefully he knits each one of us together so perfectly and intricately and lovingly. He took care of little details like allowing it to all happen on a Saturday when Patrick was home, for us to leave while the kids were napping so they didn't have to see me crying, and at a time when my mom was able to watch them for the 6 hours we were at the hospital. He took care of everything. And though my heart is so broken and I miss this little baby that I have yet to truly meet, I feel like my broken heart is in the arms of the Father who is piecing it back together with so much care and love, and that He has enlarged it for me. I worried about sharing all of this in such a public way. But our little baby Sprout counted. That baby had a four chambered heart that was beating and little fingers and toes that were just forming. My baby was alive, no matter for one day in my womb or 30 years, no matter what nurse Donna says. On a side note, I feel a huge burden for Donna. She has been so lied to and I think I will forever be praying for her. I wanted to share the story of our Sprout because I didn't want to act as if this person, this tiny little miracle didn't exist. My baby has been in the arms of the Savior for his/her entire life. And though I will not hold my baby this side of Heaven, this sweet baby has fulfilled his/her God-given purpose. This little one brought our family closer to each other and to our Lord. And I am convinced that more will come from the short but wonderful life of this baby in the years to come. I think about my Sprout everyday, and I am excited for the day we will finally meet. Heaven just got that much sweeter.
at 1:11 PM
Friday, July 9, 2010
Please excuse this interruption of the Completing Him Challenge posts for a very fun post! There is a giveaway over at www.passionatehomemaking.com, and I am so excited. They are giving away an Excalibur Food Dehydrator worth $150. Wow! This would be an amazing thing to win, and I'm praying that maybe I might just be the one to win it. If not, maybe it could be you. Run on over to www.passionatehomemaking.com and enter the giveaway. If you're not interested in the giveaway go on over there anyway. I LOVE this website! It is chock full of great recipes, advice and information on eating healthy, living better and pursuing a godly home. Love, love, love this site. Thanks! I'll let you know if I win. Cross your finger for me :)
at 11:44 AM
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This week's assignment in the Completing Him Challenge is to list things you admire about your husband. Patrick is such an amazing man that this is not hard at all :).
1. Patrick is one of the hardest working men I know. I can count on 1 hand the number of times he's called in sick, and they are always because I make him. He is so devoted that he has actually thrown up at work numerous times and not come home. He never leaves the job undone, shorthanded, or without giving it 100% all of the time.
2. Patrick is loyal to a fault. Patrick will stand up for you, protect you and stand by your side no matter what once you have entered his circle of friends. He never loses contact with people no matter how far away or how long it's been since they've seen each other. He is even loyal to jobs and bosses. When he was being mistreated at his former job, he stayed loyal to the company and his boss. He gave his very best up until his last second there.
3. He is teachable. I am a stubborn and often very proud woman. I take criticism, even constructive criticism, hard and shut off when offended. Patrick listens to those he respects when they criticize, point out something or call him out. He does not get angry or bitter, but instead seeks help to remedy the situation. When he was struggling for a good, godly male role model he sought them out and went to them for advice, and then really applied it. If Patrick respects you, he listens and he truly learns in a way I have never seen before.
4. He loves the unlovable. I would be a prime example of this on many a day. He often comes home to an exhausted and annoyed wife, but he still looks forward to seeing me. He also seeks out the kids that most people have written off. When he worked in the youth group he was in charge of the kids that no one else wanted. He was able to speak into their lives and see real change that no one else thought was possible. They respected him and loved him because they knew that he saw them for who they really were and not their list of failures.
5. Patrick is so smart. He does math in his head so fast, remembers everything and can figure things out with little help. He is always correcting my poor memory. He is very logical and see things in black and white so much better than I can.
6. He is generous. Patrick loves to have people in our home - to feed them, keep them here and give them the very best of our time, love and stuff. He is the first one to contribute to people asking for money for missions or other ministries. But, he is not foolish and does not squander money on things he does not believe in.
7. He is unashamedly himself. He does not apologize for who he is. He does not let others determine what he likes or does. He often has liked things that others find obscure, but rather than hiding it or losing interest at the mocking of others, he merely proudly displays his preference. In the end, the people that tease him are often swayed to his side.
8. He is a wonderful father. He loves our babies with all he has and is excited to see them every day. Every night before they go to bed he makes sure to tell each of them how much he loves them, how proud he is of them, how talented they are, and all of things he admires in each of them. It is such a gift to watch him love on them, play with them and be the amazing father I knew he would be.
9. He is a fantastic husband. Patrick has done the most thoughtful things for me, takes care of me so well and is always striving to love me more. He will never give up on us or quit on me. He works so hard to provide for us and never complains about the long hours, the lack of respect, all the pressure or the little pay. He gives it his all every single day. He always wants to spoil me and the kids, and truly we are spoiled with all that he does for us and the way that he loves us. He allowed me to stay home without any complaints when we had no children, when we had little to no income and when everyone else told him he was nuts to have a wife not working. Though he had never seen a woman stay home successfully, he trusted me to do it. He trusts me with the money, our kids, our home and his heart every day and never makes demands. I could go on and on, but he is simply the best husband around.
10. He is a godly man. Patrick is so willing to go anywhere and do anything for Jesus. He is sold out, and follows even when he doesn't understand. I am so proud of his heart and the way that he seeks to always be pointing people to Jesus.
This is just a small list of the wonderful qualities that Patrick possesses. If you don't know him, I suggest you get to know him for your own benefit. He is truly wonderful. I love you honey!
at 5:04 AM
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sorry, this post is later than I had planned. I had a hard time uploading photos of our wedding day. Anyway, I thought that I would share our engagement story and then some photos. Patrick and I had been dating about a year and half and I knew that the proposal was imminent. On Friday, I had lunch with my dear friend Ruth Henderson at work and she asked me what my dream proposal would look like. I told her I wanted it to be just Patrick and I (as we were never alone), that it would be simple and that he would get down on 1 knee and tell me loved me and ask me to marry him. Patrick and I had vowed not to say I love you until we were engaged and it would be the first time either one of us had said that to anyone (in that way :). The next day, on Saturday, March 11th, Patrick came over to my house. It was a rainy day and we were trying to decide what to do. My parents had gone to Texas to visit my sister and my younger sister Alyssa and I were home together. Alyssa was on the phone upstairs as Patrick and I sat on the couch trying to decide where we should go. He was acting strange - nervous and I could feel his heart pounding from where I was sitting. He told me he had an 11th gift for me in his pocket. He got me a little or big something on the 11th of every month to celebrate the day we started dating. I asked him what it was and he pulled out a box. I got very excited, and then said, "that better not be earrings." He joked back and said, "it better be what you think it is." He handed me the box, and as I opened it he got down on both of his knees and told me that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and asked me to marry him. I said yes and asked him to repeat the I love you over and over again. We kissed and I ran up to show Alyssa. Then we called everybody we knew. I found out later that he had asked my dad several weeks before for permission, and he had had the ring for some time, trying to figure out the the perfect way to ask me. He was going to do something big and flashy and worried that I would be disappointed at his simple proposal. Little did he know that it was the way I dreamed of.
6 months later, on September 9, 2006, I became Mrs. Patrick Murphy. We married at the Anaheim Golf Course on a perfectly beautiful day. I had my sisters and good friend stand beside me, along with my family and closest friends. It was a wonderful day followed by a fantastic honeymoon in Costa Rica. It was the beginning of a fabulous adventure together. The vows we said that day I said with all of my heart, and I am still trying to live them out. Though I believe them and try to live them, they are difficult. To honor someone 24 hours a day? That's not as easy as it sounds on your wedding day. It's hard to cherish someone when you've got 2 screaming babies, a barking dog and you are both exhausted. Yet this is what I promised to do. This is the covenant I entered with Patrick and with God. So I have to do my best each day. I admit I have failed greatly many, many days. But I pray that we both learn to love one another better each day as we grow together. As Patrick says, almost 4 years married - all the rest to go!
at 5:21 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Well... this wonderful journey of the Murphy 4 all began 6 years ago, on July 11th, 2004. A year prior, Patrick and I had met at the Vineyard Anaheim VBS - he was a helper with the 5th - 6th graders that I was in charge of. For a year we remained simply friends - I dated someone else and he moved back to Colorado for school. When he moved, I wasn't sure that we would ever see each other again, but God had a different plan. Around March Patrick randomly texted me, and it happened to be the same week that I had broken up with my boyfriend. We began a casual correspondence that was nothing more than friends. Then, Patrick returned from Colorado on Memorial Day weekend and we saw each other for the first time at the church's Memorial Day picnic. We started spending some time together - we met for a movie, he texted me A LOT, he even came over and spent time with my family. After a few weeks of his pursuit, and me seeing his amazing heart, it finally happened. After night church on July 11th, I manuevered my way into getting him to take me home. We sat in the church parking lot in his white Jeep for hours talking and ended up kissing. That was it! We were a couple. 2 weeks later I left for a missions trip to Thailand and he gave me a bag full of thoughtful gifts for my trip, including a questionnaire for me to fill out so he could get to know me better while I was gone. He went out of his way to spend time with me as much as possible, even though he worked 12 hour days at 24 hour fitness, taught tennis on his day off and volunteered with the youth at church. He amazed me at the way he made me a priority. He spoiled me with gifts to celebrate every month we were together. We were able to go through a lot together as we dated - a mission trip together to Thailand, meeting each other's family's and a lot of church events. We discussed marriage from the very beginning. Neither one of us believed in casual dating, and we talked about the hard stuff right off the bat. I was so impressed with his heart. He loved the unlovable - he was always taking care of the hard kids at church and inviting people to church from work. He was so teachable - something I am severely lacking - as he found men he respected and sought their advice, and actually applied it. He was so thoughtful and loving to me, and spent a lot of time getting to know my family. He had such a heart for the Lord and was always seeking His will, serving Him and others and was so willing to go anywhere at anytime for God. I still love his heart the most. He is smart, handsome, kind, a hard worker, loyal, honest, has the most amazing smile, the sweetest laugh, is the most wonderful dad and husband I have ever seen, but it's his heart that still makes mine skip a beat the most. Before we got together, I had been heartbroken over the last relationship I was in and I was scared to give my heart away. I told God that He would hold my heart, and that He would have to give it the the man He chose for me. When we had been together a few months I was praying and I felt God tell me that He had given my heart to Patrick, and that I could trust him with it. He's had it ever since. I could go on and on with stories of us dating and what an amazing boyfriend he was, but I will spare you. I think the best part of our dating relationship was how fearless we were. We were so ready to go anywhere and do anything as a couple. We were willing to move and be uncomfortable, and I think that it something that we have lost a little since. But, maybe we can regain that? We'll see. Stay tuned, our love story continues next week!
at 8:28 AM
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We went to San Antonio for a quick weekend trip to visit some of Patrick's family. We were able to celebrate with Grandpa Dex, Lita and Aunt Eliana for all of their birthdays. On Saturday we went to a kiddie park that has been there since 1925, and Paige got to ride all of the rides. It was so fun watching her. Our kids are quite the travelers. Paige has been to 7 states, and Elijah has already been to 4. They did awesome on the 5 hour drive, and Paige had no accidents! She is officially potty-trained, yahoo!!! Elijah was a little cuddle-bug, loving on everyone. It was a great quick trip and Elijah was able to meet his uncle Alex. I thought we would share some of the cute pics - I mean, how could I not share? These kids are WAY too cute not to share!
at 1:00 PM
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The Hammer and the Anvil
Last eve I passed a blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all the hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, then said with twinkling eye;
"The anvil wears the hammers out you know."
And so, I thought, the anvil of God's Word
For ages skeptics blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed - the hammers gone!
- John Clifford -
Today is the National Day of Prayer. In fact, there is a very great possibility that today is the very last National Day of Prayer. In the past few weeks many historic events have occurred surrounding this day. A judge ruled that this celebration of prayer is unconstitutional. I heard a news broadcaster on the radio this morning sharing this story, and added that until all of the appeals are done "we can still pray." He meant it as a comfort to those who would miss this day, and that perhaps we could still participate in this national observance. But I was taken aback at his word choice - that right now it is still legal for us to pray, as if one day it could not be. Also, the Pentagon rescinded its invitation to Franklin Graham to speak at their observance of today because they said that he was too one-way in his thinking. They felt that his belief that Jesus was the only way to Heaven was biased and might offend some people. Also, he dares think that Jesus saves, and that Islam is not the way to God. My friends, the enemy is on the move. He is alive and well, using his lies, maneuvers and manipulations to subvert the Word of God, scare His children into hiding, and cause so many to compromise the Truth. We are living in a time when telling someone the Truth in love is considered hate speech, when sharing the love of God is called bias and following Him will cause you to lose friends, jobs, family and maybe even your life. But we are not the first to experience these things. In fact, we are called to experience these things. Jesus told us that if we followed Him, the world would hate us as they hate Him. Going through persecution is not new. Every single disciple, with the exception of John, was killed for their devotion to Jesus and for preaching His Word. (A side note - John did not escape persecution, just death from it. He was exposed to all kinds of insults, injuries, exile and many other things). We in America have enjoyed a life of leisure and luxury when it comes to our freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We have been free to think, say and worship whomever we choose in whatever way we choose. There are churches on almost every corner in some areas, in a variety of denominations with different music, Bible translations, baptism styles, etc. You can attend the church/synagogue/temple/mosque of your choice, or none at all (most seem to choose the latter). We have taken this for granted. Around the world Christians are beaten, stoned, burned alive, arrested, harassed, exiled, spit upon, and killed for their devotion to Christ. In China, people meet in homes in secret, at the threat of jail, torture and detriment to their families, livelihood and bodies, to read the Bible, fellowship with other believers and worship the one true God. When I visited Cuba we attended a church that is technically illegal. The members took every opportunity to be together - nearly every night they shared their food, prayed and laughed together, while outside the policia walk the streets carrying machine guns, ready to harass them. They worship God with such abandon, and depend on Him to provide their every need - from a home, to food, to medicine, healing and protection. We do not understand such a life. We cannot comprehend a time when speaking the name of Jesus is illegal, and reading the Bible can have you thrown in jail. But that day is coming. I don't know if it will come in my lifetime, next year, or a hundred years, but it will come. When it does, I will have to have already established who I serve and to Whom a belong. Today, I pray for this nation that God has chose to bless so much. But more than that I pray for the believers throughout the world that are suffering for their faith. I'm praying for the people that have laid it all on the line for Jesus, and that I would have a faith like that. I want to be willing to live sold-out for Him in whatever way that means - living in a different town, living on less, serving, forgiving those who hate me, or even unto death. I want to be willing to give whatever He would ask of me with joy because I know that the only real life worth living is the one that is surrendered to Him. So today I join thousands, maybe even millions, of believers in praying, but I pray that we would be on our knees before the Father not just today but everyday, earnestly seeking Him and living a life that is fully surrendered to His Will. The world will not like it, but just like those hammers in the poem I started with, they will fall away. Only the Lord will remain. I know how the story ends, and I want to make sure that I am standing on the side of my Lord.
at 12:19 PM
Monday, April 5, 2010
I feel raw right now. I feel like all of my emotions are right under the surface. I cry at the drop of a hat. I feel so many things right now. No, I am not pregnant. No, I'm not emotional. It's a culmination of so many things going on right now. Four years ago, just before Patrick and I got married, God took me through it. He pulled everything in my life that I counted on away from me. Over the course of a year, He fundamentally changed every aspect of my life, and stripped away all the safety nets I had erected. I remember praying about all of these changes one night at church and the Lord giving me a picture of an onion whose layers were being peeled away one at a time. He said that this was me - He was systematically peeling away all of the layers around my heart so that nothing would be between Him and me. After a year of this, I finally felt so overwhelmed. It was a hard process. I cried out to God and said I could take no more. He said that He was done peeling away, and that now He would restore things to me in His way and replace my distractions with Him. I foolishly thought that this would happen overnight. When it was taking months, I went to the Lord again and asked Him why it was taking so long to restore me. (Impatient much?) He answered that He was going to restore me through my marriage. I was a few weeks from my wedding day and thought that my honeymoon was going to be even better than expected. Beyond a new life, a new name, new home, and new (ahem) experiences ;) I would be getting my heart restored. Again, so impatient. God did not mean that it would happen at my wedding, or on my honeymoon, or even in the first year. He meant that over time, over a lifetime, He would be restoring me rightly to Himself, and that my marriage would be the primary place He would do that. I also thought that this would be a spectator sport for me - I would just sit back and see God doing things on my behalf and blessing my marriage and subsequently me. And while at times this was true, overall God was using my marriage to expose my sin and my wrong attitudes. Now I am at the crossroads of choice. Do I choose to go the way I've been going, or turn another way? Do I do what is easy, natural and familiar, or do I begin the hard work of relearning life, reviewing my actions and motives, and looking at everything differently? I have slowly been making the latter choice. It's hard, a daily struggle to choose the hard road, which in the end is the easy road. Doing things God's way means being thought weird, unpopular, hated, ridiculed and often going it alone. But it also means freedom, joy, peace and a knowledge that God is using all of it for my good and His glory. This was not always the case. I kind of checked out for a few years. I kept reading the Word, praying and trusting the Lord, but I did not seek for Him to change me. I would say I wanted Him to change me, but I feared what that would entail and in my heart I would wish He would just leave me alone. I thought if I did the right things, said the right things, and acted the right way God would bless me and give me all the things I needed and wanted. Over those checked out years I dealt with depression, loneliness, and a feeling of being far from God in my heart. I felt lost, and truly I was. I was looking outwardly and inwardly, instead of looking up. I thought I could figure it out for myself, as long as I consulted God. But God wanted much more than that. He wanted me to make Him the basis and foundation for ALL of my decisions, from what I ate to what I watched, wore, bought, said, thought, read - you name it, He wanted a say. Instead of being a consultant He wanted to be the decision-maker. And after years of fighting, I have finally relinquished. I have allowed Him in, all the way in. This is a day to day, moment to moment decision. It's scary and exciting and freeing and hard. And this is why I feel so raw. My exposed heart is now being steered by the Lord, and He is causing me to see sin and people and everything in a whole new way - His way. I now have much more compassion for the sinners, and much more hate for the sin that separates them from their loving God. I see things so much more as black and white, and thus my decisions are much easier to make. But they are often more difficult to execute. It's easy to know what I need to do, it's difficult to step out and do it. So I am raw with emotion, on the cusp of a new life God is calling me too. What will that entail? I have no idea! I don't know what changes He'll make, or what things will remain, and while this would have scared the living daylights out of old scheduled, planner me, I'm choosing to be excited about this. I'm choosing to look ahead with hope, though the world looks bleak. I'm choosing to be joyful, though all the circumstances tell me to fear. And I'm choosing to get ready for a fight. All of the things God has done and shown me in the past few years have confirmed to me that this life is a fight, and I need to take up my sword and get in the battle. Being raw and exposed is not only something the Lord wants, but also something the enemy wants. He wants to take advantage of me being exposed and lead me down a wrong path. He wants to manipulate situations and emotions and draw me away from the Lord. So I need to be ready to fight for the things God is calling me to, and the things He is giving me. I need to fight for my family, for my marriage, for my relationship with Him, for the future and purpose He has called me to, and against the sin of this world. This is not the time to rest, this is the time to stand up and fight for my restoration and for my life in Him. I am reading Judges with my Bible study and I was struck by chapter 3 verses 1&2 -
"These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not previous battle experience)..."
Why did they need battle experience? Because they would face future wars. They needed to be tested in the battles so that they would win in the war. This time of being raw before the Lord, and ripe for battle is to get me ready for the war that's coming. So instead of fighting with God over why I have to fight at all, or opting to sit out, I am picking up my sword and falling in line. I'm going to feel all the emotions (not run from them or "medicate" myself with distractions), and make the hard choices, and be open to what God is calling me too in every aspect of my life. I'm excited to see where He's leading, and what He's calling me and my family to, and all the changes that will occur. Who knows, maybe this time next year I won't recognize myself :).
at 12:45 PM
Monday, March 15, 2010
Well... we finally did it. Yesterday, on Sunday, March 14th, we had our two babies dedicated to the Lord. For those of you who are wondering what that means I will explain. It all started thousands of years ago. A woman named Hannah was desperate to have children. She prayed constantly that God would give her a child, and promised that if He did she would give the child back to Him. She did not complain about her situation, but praised God in spite of her circumstance. Then, one day, God granted her request. This barren woman gave birth to a perfect baby boy, whom she named Samuel. After he was weaned, she brought him to the temple to be raised up in the Lord with the priest Eli. He became one of the greatest prophets in Israel - anointing David as king. Hundreds of years later, when Jesus was a baby, Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple to dedicate Him to the Lord in a similar fashion. Today we brought Paige and Elijah to Hope Fellowship, our temple, and took them up in front of the entire congregation. There we pledged to raise them up in the Lord, to give them back to Him and to trust the Lord in His plans for them. Our Pastor, John, prayed over them and he and the church as a body pledge to do their part in encouraging the kids in the walk with the Lord and helping to lead them in His ways. Even better, Paige and Elijah got to share this day with their cousin Evelyn, who was also dedicated yesterday. What a glorious celebration! The beautiful gifts of our children that we have been given by God we now joyfully entrust back to Him. The truth is that we have to do this everyday, and have been doing it since they were born. But much like a baptism, it is an outward ceremonial expression of what we do in our hearts and with our actions each day we walk with Jesus. It was a simple, beautiful thing that we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to do.
at 5:10 AM
Friday, March 5, 2010
Hey All! We thought we'd share some major milestones that have happened in the past month. Our beautiful baby girl turned 18 months on February 20th. Where has the time gone?
Elijah got his very first haircut just in time for Valentine's Day
Elijah turned 4 months on February 28th
And Elijah rolled over all on his own for the first time on March 3rd. Our little man is on the move! It's all going so fast. It seems like they grow an inch every day, and it's so fun to watch more and more of their little personalities emerge each day. God sure did bless us with wonderful children. I wish that a camera did them justice, but trust me people - these kids are gorgeous! I wish you all could hear Paige say the new word she learns each day, that only we can truly understand. Or hear Elijah babbling right when he wakes up in the morning. Or see them splash in the tub, or give each other kisses and hugs, or Paige fix her face to pray, or a million other adorable things they do. They are amazing, and we're so glad we get to be their parents.
at 7:43 PM
Friday, February 26, 2010
So... it's finally here. The dreaded anniversary has arrived. One year ago today. In fact, in about twenty minutes it will be exactly one year ago that my dad went to be with the Lord. I remember that day vividly and incrementally. It feels like 5 different days all in one. The day started out just like any other. I said goodbye to Patrick, fed and dressed Paige and myself. Then I took a pregnancy test, 2 in fact, and found out that little Elijah was on his way.I met Patrick for lunch at Chipotle and shared the good news with him. We decided to wait until after Evelyn (my niece) was born to share the news with everyone else. She was due to arrive March 25th. I left lunch, stopped by the store to pick up one more test just to make sure, and came home to put Paige down for a nap. As she slept I got to work on decorations for a friend's baby shower that I was helping host in the coming weeks. Then, a little after 3 p.m., I got a call from Annette. She was frantic and hard to understand. She said that dad had been in an accident, Richie had called her, and she and my mom were on their way to Plano Presbyterian Hospital. I called Patrick and Alyssa and prayed and prayed as I got Paige up and dressed for what I thought might be a long night at the hospital. Patrick came and picked me up, and we embarked on the worst car ride of my life. I prayed and worshiped the Lord to Chris Tomlin as we hurried there. My brother called to see if I was on my way, but wouldn't give me details. He just told me to hurry. I felt that he wasn't telling me the hard truth. He called again, we were taking longer than expected. We had gone the wrong way and ended up driving into a shut down street. As we passed the accident, I saw the motorcycle from afar and knew that it was my dad's accident. I can still see that picture of the crash in my head. The motorcycle looked like the accident wasn't too bad, but I feared the worst. Richie was imploring us to get there, and I made him tell me that my dad was gone. He said he didn't want to tell me that if I was driving, but when I assured him that Patrick was behind the wheel he told me that dad was gone. I called Alyssa to tell her, but she already knew. Richie was afraid to tell me if I was driving and wanted to wait until I got there. We arrived at the ambulance bay a few moments later. It was not even 4 p.m. Rich met us outside. He came up and hugged me and cried and told me how sorry he was that he couldn't save him. I didn't know, but Richie was riding on a bike behind him and had seen the accident. He tried to save my dad, but couldn't. I was heartbroken for him. I looked up and saw people from the church waiting with my nephews, and people I didn't recognize. How did they get there before me? Who called them? It was wonderful that they were there, but I was so surprised to see them. I went in and saw my mom, sister and my dad. There he was. Laying there with a big black eye and a bruise on his head. He looked good. He looked like himself. I expected to walk in and see him and that he would look different, lifeless. But he looked like he was sleeping. He was so handsome. I would not let myself cry in front of my mom. I wanted to be strong for her and not add to her grief. And it just all felt so surreal. Like, how could this be happening? It didn't feel real at all. I kept expecting him to sit up and say it was all fine. I kept studying his hands. His little stubby fingers, hairy knuckles, nails bit down very short, always tan and calloused from hard work. I was afraid I forget what his beautiful hands looked like. I was afraid I would forget his laugh, or the sound of his voice, or the funny things he would say, or the expressions he made, or how he smelled. I was afraid I would lose the things you couldn't capture in a photograph. We stayed there for hours. Afraid to leave him. Wonderful pastors like John and Larry came in to love on us. My mom and family were amazing. We finally left and went to Annette's house. Aubrey and Aaron from the church had dropped off pizzas for the whole family, and the ladies from our Bible study came not long after with food for the morning. So many people blessed us with flowers, food, prayers and help in the following days. It still boggles my mind how much people did for us. We went to the airport to pick up Alyssa and drove past the spot it happened. To this day it's impossible for me to drive past it without thinking of my dad and the accident. But I can drive past it. That car, that place, that motorcycle, that accident didn't take my dad away. My heavenly Father called my daddy home, and not one minute early or late. We picked up a very pregnant Alyssa and Brian. We drove home in a very quiet car. We drove back over the spot. We stayed up altogether, but no one really spoke. We just kind of stared. Then, very late that night, we went to bed in little Joey's room, with Paige sleeping at our feet. All of us stayed at Annette's house for the next couple of days as family and friends came in from all over. It was an amazing time. God provided for my family in ways I never knew I would need Him to. He took care of food, bills, work - all kinds of things. He brought so much comfort. And the more I look back at that time, I see God's loving hand in all of it. He even tied up so many loose ends before my dad went home. The day he died, he had just finished the front porch he was putting in. I think now how painful it would have been for my mom to come home day after day to that unfinished. But mercifully, God allowed my dad to finish that beautiful front porch right in time. Also, about a week or so before the accident, Alyssa and Brian made an unplanned visit out here to see us. On a whim they drove out and spent a few days with my mom and dad and visiting with us all. God did not have to give us those last days together, but He graciously did. My dad had reinstated life insurance he had once let lapse, and a million other little things that revealed God's loving hand throughout that whole time and all the time since. My daddy told me everyday how much he loved me, that he was so proud of me, and that I was the prettiest girl. We didn't see each other without giving a kiss and a hug and lots of I love you's. I am so thankful that we left nothing unsaid, and that I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is rejoicing with the angels in heaven. My dad knew Jesus intimately here on earth, and now gets to rest in Presence all the time. I miss him, but I know that this is not the end. We do not grieve like those with no hope, because I know where my dad is and to whom he belongs. I know we will be together again. And I feel very blessed to have had such a wonderful father and friend for almost 27 years. Most people aren't that lucky. I also don't believe in coincidences. I feel that my dad got to see Elijah and Evelyn before all of us did. Elijah has my dad's blue eyes, and a lot of Adams features. I see so much of my dad in him, and I rejoice that my dad will never truly be gone from us. The life that he led and the faith that he had will bless all of us for generations to come. This anniversary marks a sad and beautiful day when my dad left us, and joined Jesus. I feel very blessed to have had him as my dad. I miss you daddy, and I can't wait to be together again!
at 12:30 PM
Monday, February 22, 2010
I don't know about you, but I LOVE free stuff. Even better, I love when a great company hosts a free giveaway of a fantastic product. Last Wednesday I had the great honor of winning some green coffee beans with instructions for fresh roasting them over at my friend Katie Riddle's blog. So excited to try them! The difference in flavor and nutrition is supposed to be phenomenal. Now another giveaway is going on. As most of you know, Patrick and I have chosen to cloth diaper our little ones for a variety of reasons - it saves money, it keeps them from harmful chemicals found in disposables, it produces less waste, etc. Well... the company Envibum is hosting a giveaway over at www.passionatehomemaking.com . She is picking 3 winners, each of which will get their favorite diaper from Envibum. I like Envired - so cute! So go check it out, and hopefully we can both win :)
at 5:00 PM
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today is Ash Wednesday, the very first day of the Lenten Season. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. 2009 was the most challenging year I have ever had to face. The enemy attacked us on all sides - physical, emotional, spiritual, financial - you name it, we struggled with it. But much like Joseph's brothers in Genesis, what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. The hard things that could and should have ripped my marriage, family, sanity and relationship with the Lord apart did not have the affect that the devil intended. No, he meant to use them to destroy me. He wanted me to fight with my husband over money (or the lack thereof); to isolate from my family when we lost my dad; to become easily offended with people who were insensitive or far away; to not trust God with anything because of all the pain and the piles of problems that loomed before; to get lost in sadness, anger, grief and loneliness; and to allow physical problems to sideline me from life with the ones I loved. And while there were days when I succumbed to the pity party the devil was throwing in my honor and all of the tricks he was using to pull me out of the race, God used all of these things to make me stronger. How does He do it? How does He always take my weak, pathetic excuse for faith and build it into an amazing testimony of who He is? I really don't know how, but as I look back on this excruciating year I am humbled by the outpouring of love and grace that I see from Him. My marriage is stronger than it ever has been, and I enjoy my husband more every day. I see more and more what a strong, capable, considerate, loving, honest and godly man I married. He embodies the word integrity, and I am so proud of the man that he is. My children are truly a blessing from the Lord. Every time I look into Elijah's eyes, I see my dad and I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I know that although he is not here with me, he will never be gone. I and my children are still reaping the blessings of his faithful service to the Lord, and we will continue to do so. And I know that he is heaven with the Lord, and we will get to join him one day. Paige's smile has been a great comfort to me, Patrick and my mom. On the days it seemed our grief was at its worst, God used Paige's innocent and sweet smile to bring about so much comfort and peace. Even today, nearly a year later, her smile and gentle love reminds me of how God gently loved us during that difficult time. Our finances were a roller-coaster ride this year, and continue to be. Patrick went from bad job to bad job to finally finding a wonderful job that he loves. But despite the financial shortfall we encountered every single month, God has provided for our every need. We are current on every bill, and have never had to go without. God miraculously provided us with not only what we needed, but also what we wanted throughout the entire year. He showed Himself in a big way to us, using little miracles (is there such a thing?) here and there to provide for us. From $350 worth of diapers on our doorstep, to unexpected bonuses from jobs Patrick no longer held, to people buying my jam, gift certificates coming in the mail, boxes of clothes being sent at the perfect time (check out a few previous posts to know more) - God astounds me with His creativity in blessing us. I am humbled as I look back on 2009. And honestly, I think I am grateful for that awful year. Does that mean I'm happy my dad died, or that we struggled? - No, but I now see that I didn't go through those things alone. God gently lead me through them, and shielded me from so many things in the midst of it all. If I did not have Him, I would have had to go it alone, and I would be fighting against the devil by myself. I would have given up long ago, and not only would I not be receiving the peace and blessing I do now, I would be defeated, depressed and struggling all the more. As I look at the Lenten season and begin to fast from the things the Lord has called me away from, I am filled with anticipation. What now Lord? What things are You going to reveal to me now? How will show Yourself in these 40 days? How much better will everything be the closer I draw to You? I realize that so much was stripped away last year, but in a lot of ways that was a good thing. My false sense of security in this life or in people or in a job or in money or in my health were all ripped from my grasp and I was left with the truth - that God is my rock. He is the only thing that never changes. And with this truth came so much freedom. The stripping away was painful, but it left my heart and hands open to receive all that the Lord wants to give me. And He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, so I want whatever He has to give me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has always been my life verse, and now I see even more His power being perfected in my weakness. I pray that this season of self-denial that will, I'm sure, be wrought with even more attacks from the enemy and leave me feeling weak, will be another opportunity for God to demonstrate His infinite power. I invite you to be weak with me, and watch God move, because I think last year - the ups and downs - are only a preview of what's to come.
at 12:26 PM
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Well... it's happened. For the first time ever our ENTIRE family is sick. Boo! It's one of those devil viruses that no medicine will help. You just have to wait it out and do the homeopathic route (which I prefer over medicine anyway). Last Friday, Paige got a really runny nose and a little fever. Later that night Patrick came down with it too. Paige got progressively worse with this awful cold that made her so miserable. It was so sad, but it's been on the decline and only a nasty cough still persists. Patrick is also on the mend, thank you Lord. I worked so hard to keep Elijah and I from getting it, with my biggest fear being that we would continue to pass it back and forth to one another. Well, Elijah got a cold in his eye which is so sad to watch. Now it has moved into his nose and chest. And now, finally I have succumb to the evil virus. I have the worst sore throat I can remember ever having. So right now we are all in various stages of being sick. It's been 10 days, and I have had enough. But, I do see the healing on the horizon, and I'm holding fast to that. :) By the way, my babies are now 17 months and 3 months respectively. Can you believe that? I can't! Elijah is so big - over 15 pounds and 27 inches long. That's right, I said 15 pounds. Paige was 19 pounds at a year people. This boy is big, and beautiful. He has the most piercingly beautiful blue eyes, that look a lot like his late Papa's, and the sweetest smile. He is the happiest baby and is always flirting with the girls. Paige on the other hand is such a little grown up. She is saying so many words now, and doing so many things. We have even started a little bit of preschool with her, and she is picks up things so fast. When I say preschool I mean mommy and Paige at the kitchen table learning, not some institution. Patrick is doing amazing at his new job. He acquired more clients than anyone in his office for the month of January. He is so talented. And if you ever need insight on insurance, or financial matters he's a wealth of knowledge. So proud of my man. I am doing well. I love being with my babies, and finally feel like I have a schedule that works. Also, I have begun making all natural jellies and jams. If you ever want some of any kind (organic, sugar-free, etc.) let me know and I will be happy to oblige. :) I also have a few other little things I've been working on to see if I can make a little extra money from home - things like baking, baby blankets and tile covered trays. Anyway, just thought I'd update you on us a little instead of simply focusing on this dumb sickness. We remain abundantly blessed even in the midst of this sickness. So if you think of us, please pray it passes quickly. There is nothing sadder than sick babies who feel miserable, and I have 2 right now. But I will leave you on a high note - pictures of the two cutest kids ever. Enjoy!
at 6:48 AM