Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Enough Is Enough

When Anthony & I felt a peace to move forward with Adoption this time, I had been praying, and I continue to pray, that my wanting to move forward isn't because of what I think our family number should be.  I want whether we're a family of 3, or a family of 7 to be content.

Before Anthony and I married we talked about wanting 5 maybe 6 children, and until recently I have held onto that desire so tightly that nothing, not even God, could rip it out of my hands.  It's probably been about 4 years ago now that I was reading a blog written by a woman that had also gone through infertility.  The woman from the blog stated that she, and her husband also wanted 5 or 6 children when they 1st married, and after many years of infertility, and heartache she and her husband were blessed with adopting twice.  Twice???  I'll be honest, I was disappointed by their outcome, I felt like they had given up.  I felt like they had given up on their dreams of having a large family...why didn't they adopt again?  Why didn't they try fertility treatments?  I felt like they weren't truly trusting God.  Actually, I was so mad, and fearful that our story might turn out the same way that after I finished reading her blog, I slammed my phone down, and began to cry...more like began to sob.  Once again, I felt I may have to give up my hopes, and dreams, and, once again, it was God's fault.

But, 4 years later, as God often does, if I allow Him, He's changed, and changing my heart, and desires.  That huge family I've wanted for so many years doesn't feel as necessary, and my grip doesn't feel as tight.  I had to do a heart check, and before we decided to move forward with our second adoption, I wanted to make sure my motives weren't because it was my plan, or my desires.  I wanted to make sure I was content with where we were before moving forward.

I was telling a friend yesterday who has two children, and feels very content in that, that I can't wait to feel done, and not have the pulling, and tugging on my heart for more children.  I hope in writing this it doesn't sound bad, not only does wanting more children mean love, and beauty in my heart; but wanting more children also means the possibility of heartache and pain.  Maybe you can't relate to infertility, or both the joy, and fear when adopting, but most people can relate to waiting on something, or someone, and being fearful that what you're waiting on may never come to pass.

Have you ever seen the movie Varsity Blues?  Seriously, I don't recommend it.  It's not the most appropriate movie, however; it has a very good story line.  There is a main quarterback, and he's awesome at a being a quarterback.  In fact, he's so good scouts are interested in him for college teams.  But, one night while playing, the quarterback gets severely hurt, and all the plans and hopes he has for his future seem lost.  Fast forward to the end of the movie, and although the player has suffered a great loss, his life plans aren't lost.  Maybe, he won't be the one out on the field playing, but he decides to use his talent to coach others, and help others to be great football players.

I mention that story, because we have a choice.  We can be so set on our hopes for the future we miss what's right in front of us.  Yes, we may have to go through pain, heartache & loss, but we can allow God to use them.  Or, we can wind up constantly striving for a goal that even when reached you still don't have still don't know when enough is enough.

Last night, as I was again giving myself a heart check on my motive for wanting more children, the lady's story who I mentioned earlier, her blog post popped in my head.  Maybe she and her husband hadn't given up on a big family after all, maybe they found contentment with the blessings God had given them.  Maybe after they adopted their two children they had a peace in their heart, and finally after years of heartache and waiting, they felt done.

I can't tell you for sure if after our second adoption if our family will be complete.  We don't know exactly what God has in store for our future, but I do know this, I found contentment in our family of three, and I know I will find contentment in our family of 4.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Let him teach...let him love

I have come to realize in the short time I have been blogging that other than scheduling times for me to write, which feels nearly impossible with my daughter out of school for the summer, that I better write when the time presents itself.  So, as my daughter is outside playing with a friend, my husband is working late, and in between cooking tonight's dinner, I am writing this blog :)

At the beginning of the summer, I read a blog.  Please forgive me I do not remember which one at the present's not one I follow on a regular basis  The writer was talking about preparing for summer activities and travels, and she wrote something that really stuck out to me.  Not only was she going to make sure during the summer she spent quality time with her family, but she was also going to spend time working with her children on their attitudes, and enforcing rules a little more consistently.  Now, I'm not sure I have done anything consistently since the summer started other than staying up late, sleeping in, and, totally taking advantage of everyday that we have nothing planned by being lazy.  I find that I actually thrive better with a schedule, so maybe the summer time isn't the best time for me to work on my consistency, but I have been working on being consistent with my daughter.  And, once again God has been showing me that it's not just my daughter that needs to work on things...

On Saturday, my family was preparing to go over to a friend's house to celebrate the 4th of July.  We had about 45 minutes before we were supposed to be there.  My husband was in the shower, and while I was waiting on him to finish, so I could take mine, I was making cookies to take to the cook out.  By the way, it usually takes me well over an hour to get ready, 1 hour if I am not distracted by my daughter, my cell phone, and little things around the house that all the sudden have to get done.  You know, those pile of clothes that have needed to be put away for two days that all the sudden have to be done now, or the dishes in the sink from breakfast that could wait until you get home.  

On top of already running behind, my daughter approaches me to tell me she wants to pull her tooth.
Let me fill you in about my daughter, and the two teeth she's already lost.  With both teeth that have come out of her mouth it's been a pretty dramatic experience, not because anything terrible has happened, but because my daughter is terrified of pulling her tooth out, or letting anyone else do it.  Both times, my husband has basically had to do a sneak attack to get her teeth out, and both times I have to be in the other room because it grosses me out so much.

So, with the understanding that getting the 1st two teeth out of my daughter's mouth took months of preparation, and hours of coaxing you understand that trying to get a tooth out with only 45 minutes before we have to be somewhere while we are all still getting ready probably wasn't the best time to try.  However, my daughter convinced my husband, and I that she was so excited at the idea of being able to show off to her friends, and cousins that she had lost a tooth we thought it wouldn't take any time at all.  Boy were we wrong...

Like I mentioned, the whole pulling teeth thing really grosses me out, so I stayed in the kitchen finishing up the second batch of cookies, while my hubby, and daughter started working on her loose tooth.  My daughter had asked my husband to get a piece of string that might help get her tooth out.  I heard them laughing because my daughter kept moving her mouth, and the string would fall off.  All was going well until my daughter felt a twinge of pain...then the fear set in.  I could hear her laughter turn in to whimpers, mind you, all my husband was trying to do at this point is get the string on her tooth- they hadn't even begun to pull the actual tooth out yet.  With each whimper the string came off, and each time the string came off my husband grew more frustrated because he knew she had nothing to afraid of.

I bet you think at this point I am going to write about fear, and how my daughter over came her fear of loosing her tooth...NOPE...the tooth is still in her mouth.  But, what I will tell you, as I stood in the other room hearing the fun turn to fear, and the fear turn to frustration, I began to worry.  And, not only did I begin to worry, I felt it was necessary for me to intervene.  I came swooping in from the next room, and told both my daughter and my husband to calm down.  I suggested maybe they needed to take a break, and try to pull the tooth later.  As my husband turned to look at me, my daughter bolted from the room in tears.  I could tell my husband was aggravated with me for stepping in, but I hadn't done anything wrong...had I?  After a couple minutes of a heated discussion, my husband said, "whenever you do that...whenever you feel the need to step in... you're telling our daughter that she doesn't have to listen to me, and you're telling me you don't trust me."  That caught my attention.  Up until that point, I didn't feel I had done anything wrong.  In fact, I felt totally justified in stepping in, and "helping" the situation.  But, when my husband mentioned me acting like I didn't trust him as a father it stopped me in my tracks.  Anthony is a great father.  He tries to make sure that everyday, at some point, he spends time with our daughter, whether it's talking to her about her day, or cuddling on the couch watching a show they enjoy together.  Anthony, and our daughter enjoy laughing, wrestling, and playing rock, paper scissors together.  When I worked full-time, I worked most every Saturday, and most every Saturday Anthony watched our daughter... no questions asked, and no complaining.  So, for me to make him feel in anyway I don't trust him, or I question his ability at being a good father hurt me because I knew I had hurt him.

I began to think about the times recently where I got aggravated, and maybe over reacted to whatever our daughter was doing, and my husband didn't say anything.  And, if Anthony did say anything, he waited until our daughter had left the room then asked me why I had gotten so upset.

When the Lord blessed us with our daughter, He knew we'd make mistakes...probably daily; but, that didn't keep Him from making us parents.  The Lord sees us daily make mistakes not just with our daughter, but in many other areas of our lives, yet He continues to bless us.  And, although, the Lord will quicken us we we are about to make a mistake, He's so loving, and so merciful that even we make mistakes, he forgives us, and helps us to move on from them.

I am not trying to say Anthony made a mistake with how he handled our daughter, and her loose tooth (it was me that made a mistake), I'm saying I want to treat my husband the way Christ treats me...with grace and mercy.  I want to encourage Anthony, and let him know, I have his back as my husband, and as our children's father.  The last thing I want to do is tear Anthony down, make him feel he's not good enough, or that I don't trust him.  All that will do, in the long run, is build up walls of resentment between us, and possibly effect the way he parents.

Thank you for the gift of my husband.  Thank you that Anthony strives daily to be a wonderful husband, and a wonderful father.  Thank you that Anthony works daily on having Christ in our home, and in our conversations.  Lord, please help me to remember that I fall short as a parent everyday, and neither You or Anthony condemn me for it.  In fact, You, and Anthony encourage me to be better.  Please help me to encourage my husband, and help me not to tear him down with my words, looks or actions, but to build him up.  I know I am to protect my daughter from the world, but help remind me I don't have to protect her from her father.  And Lord, if there is anyone else reading this that longs to be a better wife please encourage her.  Please let her know the times she looses her temper, gives a scornful look, or discourages her husband with her words that You are not done with her.  Please remind her that you knew from day 1 that she would mess up, and make mistakes, but her mistakes do not define her, nor define her relationship with You.  Please help us to be women that see our mistakes, quickly repent, and seek forgiveness where it's needed.  Please help us daily to be the wives you created us to be.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Ps.  In between writing this, and posting this, my daughter lost her tooth.  YAY!  We weren't in a rush to go anywhere, and I stayed out of the way.  Anthony, and our daughter were just sitting, and relaxing with no agenda for pulling out her tooth.  Our daughter was wiggling her tooth, and wanted to show my husband how loose it was, and poof, her tooth fell out (my husband may, or may not have helped more than our daughter realizes wink, wink.).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Going With The Flow

My daughter and I were working on a Father's Day gift for my husband.  We decided instead of purchasing a ready made gift, we would get a couple canvases, and have fun putting our creative minds together, and painting his Father's Day gift.

Did you read what I wrote about having fun, and putting our creative minds together? Sounds like a great idea doesn't it?  But, somewhere between purchasing the canvases, and painting the canvases I lost sight of the fun, and togetherness my daughter and I were planning to have.  When it came time to start painting I had all these great ideas in my head.  Another words, I had come up with a plan, and exactly how I wanted "our" paintings to look, but I wasn't considering the ideas in my 6 year old daughter's head or, her willingness to wing it.

I am a planner.  I like everything laid out before I begin a project.  In fact, I have a really hard time starting a project if I don't have a full plan, and all the tools I need to execute my project.  I don't necessarily think this is a bad quality to have.  It means I like to get the job done, and I like it done right...the 1st time.  Where this can cause me much grief is, I often don't start things because if I can't see the end result, then I feel like I will fail.  Or, if things aren't going the way I planned I get frustrated, and want to quit, and/or ruin the whole experience for myself, and anyone involved (especially my family).  But, over the years God has been gently trying to teach me that with every failed attempt, you can learn what not to do when you start the project again.  You see, for years I've looked at my failed attempts as nothing more than failures.  While there are definitely times in our lives we need to walk away from a situation, and not return, there are also times in our lives that just because something doesn't go the way we plan it to, it doesn't mean we should quit all together.

My husband has this amazing quality to improvise.  If he starts out doing something, and he figures out after getting started his original plan won't work, he can step back, take another look at his project, and usually within a short period of time he can start again with new ideas.  Anthony has no problem with stepping back multiple times during a project, and improvising how he first envisioned what his project will look like, or how it will end up.  I say all this because thank the good Lord, my daughter has the gift of improvising too.  Not that my daughter and Anthony never get frustrated, but they are both much better than I am about going with the flow.

My husband's, and now my daughter's, "go with the flow" personality has driven me nuts many times.  Because I am always trying to plan things out, I often times miss out on the fun we could be having by trying to control how I think our situation should go.  And, unfortunately my daughter and our painting project was turning out to be the very same not enjoying our time together because of my plan.

I had laid out all the supplies we were going to need for our Father's Day project.  I had this great plan on how both canvases should look.  I explained to my daughter on one canvas we should paint an outside scenery with bees and flowers.  This spring my husband started bee keeping.  He loves it, and my daughter has so much fun going out to the hive with him to care for the bees...she has no fear.  So, when I mentioned painting bees and flowers my daughter was all for it, plus she wanted to paint my husband in his bee suit, and the hive.  "Ok, ok", I said the my daughter, "but let's be careful, and not get too crazy, we want the painting to look good."  (I am am rolling my eyes, and laughing at myself as I type what I said to her)

As I began to paint the first canvas, I started painting the blue sky, showed my daughter how to do it then she finished.  As I put green paint on the plate before loading the sponge to paint the grass,my daughter said, "let me paint the grass on my own".  Reluctantly, I loaded up the sponge, and handed it to her.  Right before she started, she said, "I'm going to paint a hill", and took the sponge and started painting.  Below you can see what she did, all on her own she painted the hill.  I was so impressed.  Not because I didn't think she could paint a hill, but because I was going to paint a flat ground that would have looked very boring, and, well, very flat.  But, my daughter envisioned so much more than flat and boring.

While we let the 1st canvas dry, we started on the next one.  I would love to tell you that I saw how creative my daughter could be, so I let her do whatever she wanted on the next canvas, but that wouldn't be the full truth.  I wanted to do stripes.  But, not just any stripes, I wanted to have the stripes over lap one another, so the color from one stripe would carry into the next stripe.  My daughter wasn't very interested in that idea, she wanted to paint a heart, and after the heart anything else that came to her mind...she was going to go with the flow.  

I was watching her paint the heart for her daddy, and I was thinking, "I really wanted to do stripes."  Remember what I wrote earlier?  When I have a plan it's very hard for me to deviate from that plan.  So, I walked over grabbed the other paint brush, and proceeded to paint stripes.  My daughter didn't have a problem with the stripes, she was totally fine with us both painting our ideas, but I was becoming very anxious.  After she finished painting the heart, she began to place random brush strokes all over the canvas.  My daughter painted some stripes here, some squiggly lines there, some dots and a very random big blob.  I took a picture of her painting the random big blob because I wanted to show my husband later what all I had to "endure" during our are project.  But, after taking the picture I felt the Lord gently speaking to my heart.  I knew I needed to walk away from the painting, and allow my free spirited child to paint whatever master piece for her daddy that she wanted to.  I told her as I put my paint brush down, "I'm going to walk away." And she said, "good cause you're distracting me."  OUCH!  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of holding in my anxiousness about our "chaotic" art project, but obviously I wasn't.

You see, my little family is getting ready to embark on a new adventure, and we are all very, very excited about it.  But, what I discovered from my daughter, and our little art project, is if I'm not careful, I will take all the fun, and all the adventure out of our adventure.  If I get so caught up in making plans, and getting frustrated along the way because they don't work out, I may want to quit, or if nothing else I may steal all the joy out of it for all of us because I am so focused on "The Plan" 

I believe with all my heart God created me to be a planner.  I also believe God put my husband, and I together because of his more go with the flow personality.  And, I guess I needed more of the go with flow people in my life, so He blessed us with our daughter (Praise God).  

As I write this blog I feel a bit silly, and very vulnerable because I don't like for people to see my anxious, and sometimes "controlling the situation" ways.  I want to be that free spirited person that can just go with the flow, and not get derailed because my plan doesn't work out.  I, also, don't want to be the one that ruins my family's fun because I get so caught up in how "it's supposed to go".  I want my husband, and my daughter to be proud of me.  I want my husband, and my daughter to know they can trust me with their ideas, and that I won't blow them off because I think my idea is better.  I want the Lord to know He can trust me with His plans for our lives.  I want the Lord to know I can start out with one plan, and when it doesn't work, I don't have to have a pity party, and quit.  I can go back to the drawing board with my family, and we can think up a new way to execute our plans.  Unfortunately,  that's really been my problem all along.  I've been trying to do it all on my own...trying to come up with, and execute my own plans expecting my family to just follow along.  But, what happens is, when my plans don't work out I get frustrated, feel like a failure, and want to quit.  However, when I team up with Lord, my husband and my daughter, yes, we might make mistakes, and, yes, we might have to start all over again...time and time again, but at least we're doing it together... at least we're doing it as a family. 

"Two people are off better than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken"  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Please note that my daughter is not scarred for life from our painting project (See her beautiful smiling face in the picture below).  My husband loved his paintings.  Anthony even remarked how he loves that he can see both our daughter's, and my creative skills in both paintings. (See our finished paintings below)

In His Grip,

Monday, April 20, 2015

Undoing The Tangles

To me, it is so funny sometimes how God can use the simplest thing to get His message across...

My husband, and I volunteer at our church on the Production Team.  For those of you that do not know what that is, we set up the stage, the video and the lights for the worship experience.  We have to be at church very early, but we have a lot of fun.  It's amazing to see all the little details that go into a service, that I would have never thought about before, come together to create an atmosphere where people can worship the Lord, and, hopefully, a place where someone can accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.

Yesterday, we had balloons on stage for a new album released for kids.  The kids came on stage, and sang with the balloons behind them.  After the kids were done singing the balloons needed to be removed from the stage for the worship band to continue singing.  That all sounds easy peasy lemon squeezy doesn't it?  (Yes, I went there, my daughter says it all the time ;) )  But, little did I, and another production team member, realize was when we bundled all the balloons in groups together they became a big tangled mess (see the picture below).  Which wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but we needed them untangled for the next about an hour.

The other team member was needed back in video control, so I told her I would work on untangling the balloons.  I, totally, did NOT realize how tedious that task would be.

As I said in the beginning, isn't funny how God will use the simplest thing to get His message across.  While I was side stage working on getting the balloons untangled, I could here the sermon my pastor was preaching.  The title of his sermon was, The struggle Is The Same (Me too).  When I heard him say struggle, I chuckled because there I was struggling to get the balloons untangled.  As he spoke about "At some point you have to deal with your struggle."  And, "that there is a connection between our strength and our struggle."  I was realizing that the balloons were so much more than just an annoying stage prop.  The balloons were a symbol of what God is trying to do in my life.

My husband, and I have been going to counseling for a little over a month now, and we are so thankful, and grateful for where God has already brought us, and where we know He is taking us.  As anyone knows that has been through any type of counseling, counseling can be rough.  You open up doors to areas that you either didn't know existed, or you open up doors to areas you have specifically been trying to keep closed.  So, although the counseling is doing a great work in our marriage, counseling can also be hard work.

Which brings me back to the balloons. At first sight, I was overwhelmed by the tangled mess before me.  But, being the patient person I am looking for the quick fix, I thought, I'll run my fingers up through the balloon strings.  Unfortunately, that only caused more tangles.  It was then, I realized each balloon had to be individually removed from the tangle, and there was no quick fix for this process.  So, one by one, I would start from the bottom, grabbing a string, and pulling it down.  When I pulled the individual balloon down far enough to the tangle, I would have to weave the balloon through all the other tangled strings.  Oh!  Did I mention I was doing all of this with very little light?  I only had the light coming from on stage where there were black curtains blocking most of it, and the light coming from video control with black curtains blocking most of that light as well.  One by one I began getting each balloon untangled from the, what felt like, a never ending wad of tangles.  But, what I realized after about 15 minutes of working on getting the individual balloons free, was, that I was making progress.  And, although it was taking much longer than I had thought, I was going to get the balloons free.  As silly as it sounds freeing the balloons felt really good because like I said, I had realized that the balloon's freedom was much like my marriage...

I can be very impatient, so when a difficult task is set before me, I am not always diligent to complete it. It's not a character trait I am proud of, but it is one God is gently changing in my life.  So, when my husband asked for us to seriously go to counseling this time, the idea overwhelmed me like the tangled balloons. I looked at my problems as something I had to try and fix all at once. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy, or fast process.  Some of my problems, I had brought into our marriage, we would be able to point at, deal with, and move on from.  But, I knew some problems would have to be, like the balloons, individually dealt with one one one, and they would be tangled, and hidden amongst some others, so it would take patience (I hate that word), and diligence to get past them.

I'm not writing this blog because my husband and I have arrived, or because are marriage is perfect now.  Nor am I writing this blog to sound like the "martyr" who untangling the balloons.  I am writing this to encourage anyone that has a tangled mess in their marriage, or their life, and doesn't see how it can be resolved.  Or, maybe you are right in the middle of your tangle, and you're growing weary.  I want to encourage you not to give up, and not to grow weary while well doing.  Fighting for freedom in your marriage, or in your individual walk with the Lord is never a battle not worth fighting.  I know struggling can seem painful and daunting at times, and you can't always see where you're going, or if you're making any progress. But, as you see below, I got the balloons untangled, and with help from my fellow team members, in place in plenty of time for the next service.  So, to me the balloons symbolized, and I hope they do for you as well, that when you take the time to "untangle" those areas in your life that are difficult, and hard to deal with the reward is so much greater than the struggle.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20

Ps. I've attached below a link to the sermon my pastor preached yesterday.  It was so helpful, and beneficial to me, I pray it will be the same for you as well.

In His Grip,