Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How Long Can I Wear Boots?

WIWW #24

pleated poppy

It is springtime.  Time to put winter clothes away.
I can't seem to put my fall boots away though.
Yesterday, I saw my dad, and he said, "You really like those boots, don't you?"

YES!
I wear them A LOT!
I'm getting ready to say goodbye and put them in their box until next fall.
It's going to be difficult.
I'm gearing up.

Not today, though.  Still have the boots today.
Can I have them until the end of March?

Sweater & Tank: Marshalls; Gifted Necklace: Etsy Linkel Designs;
Jeggings: Walmart; Gifted Boots: Bandalino via Macy's


Sweater: Target; Dress: Old Navy ($6 woohoo); Belt: Thrifted;
Same boots; Socks; Macy's

I saw this outfit on Pinterest, so I decided to be a copycat!
I would not have thought to put black, taupe, and brown together, but I liked it!


Sweater and Jeans: Goodwill

It was sweater day at Goodwill.  
This was in the "tops" section, but it is sweater material so I got it for $1.

I'm a sucker for embroidery, so I couldn't pass it up.  And it looked brand new. Yay!



Jason gave me a Dory sticker, so I put it on my mirror.
Can't you hear her?
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Josh, Trust, and the Police

Josh, circa 2009

Scaling the Mountain: Part 5


Josh and I are both very strong-willed.  I don't remember when I found out I was strong-willed.  When I tell people that I am, they usually think I'm kidding.  I'm not.  I tell them that the only reason that maybe they haven't picked up on it, is that God's Spirit has grown some self-control in me.   Otherwise, I would probably be engaging in debates and rebelling against life in general on a regular basis.

I figured out that Josh was strong-willed when he was thirteen months old, and we were figuratively butting heads all the time, and he was literally throwing various, hard objects in my general direction.  My mom always hoped I would have a child just like me... thanks, mom, and I am sorry for a lot of things.  Really, I am.

The thing about us strong-willed people, is that we don't out and out want to be told what to do.  We like suggestions and stories.  We like to have options and the ability to make choices.  Most importantly, we need to know the "why's" behind a concept and line of reasoning that goes with it.  If it makes sense to us, it's a whole lot more likely that we will comply.  If you are loving and kind to us, we are much better at complying, too.  Otherwise, if you say white, we will say black, just to get a rise out of you.  I don't do that anymore.  Well, hardly ever, anyway.

When Josh was younger, I would try and never use the phrase, "because I'm your mother, and I said so."  That would get me nowhere.  But there were times when I had to go with that, because he wasn't mature enough yet to understand the reasoning behind my decision.

One day, we were driving home from town on a picturesque two lane highway, listening to some pretty music and enjoying ourselves.  Up ahead I saw a blockade, so I slowed down and eventually came to a stop.  A police officer approached my window and told me the highway was impassable and I would have to take another route.  I wanted to ask why.  I wanted to know what was beyond that blockade and why he was trying to ruin my nice drive.  But I didn't.  I thanked him and turned around and took another road home.

Josh asked why we had to turn around.

I don't know, I replied, wishing I knew.  But you know what?  That police officer has our best interests at heart, don't you think?  Maybe he was protecting us from seeing a tragic accident, or maybe there was a fallen tree in the middle of the road that would have blocked our way.  I had to trust that he knew something I didn't and that he was, perhaps, keeping me from some form of danger.  That's why I just did as he said, and I didn't ask any questions.

There are times when I can't give you all the details, either, Josh.  Sometimes, you just have to trust your mommy and daddy and do what they say.  We want what's best for you, but sometimes we can't share the information... we just need you to obey so that you will be safe from harm.  Sometimes, we  can't answer your why's, and you just have to trust us and know that we love you.
 

That made sense to my sweet son.   
He now knew the reason some of his why's cannot be answered.


I have been thinking about this analogy in my relationship to God recently.  I have had so many why's in the past year... about so many things.  I tell Him that I just don't get it, and I don't see the purpose.  But I am learning that He cares about me a lot more than that policeman did.  He knew the dark valleys I would be walking through, and He couldn't reveal it all at once, because it would overwhelm me.  He also knows what is in the future and He is rerouting me to better roads.  And although I would still really like to have all my "why's" answered, I am learning to trust.  To trust in a God who loved me so much He sent His Son to die on my behalf.  I know that He'll answer my why's when He thinks I'm ready... or maybe He won't.  My strong-willed self is okay with that.



"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Venting.

Scaling the Mountain: Part 4


I don't know why I am writing this post.  There is not anything excellent or praiseworthy or good to think about.  I stepped on the scales (or is it scale... I can never get this one straight) and I have officially gained 10 pounds since this summer.  Fan-freaking-tastic!

I had originally gained 12 pounds a couple years ago, for no apparent reason.  Then I found out I had serious issues with my thyroid and cortisol levels and such.  I have since been on a very restrictive diet... no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no coffee, no grains, nothing I'm allergic to... no fun.  So I lost all the weight and felt much more like myself.

Recently I have started adding back in some whole grains (which I apparently can't metabolize), and I've been working with various new meds and hormones... and what do I get?  10 pounds and 6 1/2 inches, pretty much all in my stomach and hips.  Please make them go away!!

This morning my husband said, I don't think you should worry about the weight.  I think you should just keep eating healthy and work towards being well.  And besides,  I love every inch of you!  (He raised his eyebrows and smiled coyly when he said that part.)

Ok, there's the excellent, praiseworthy thing.  I found it.  I have an encouraging, understanding, loving husband.

And to celebrate... I have decided to throw a virtual chocolate tasting party.  You are all invited, right here and now.  I'm virtually eating some Swiss milk chocolate truffle.  I am imagining to be delicious and amazing.  It is melting in my mouth, cascading down my throat, and it smells divine.  There are zero calories.  Here are some squares for you...

So tell me, what will you be eating at my virtual chocolate party... and will you share it?  
And do you have anything good to celebrate lately?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

White Flag



I managed to keep it together on the phone.  I mustered up the courage, and I willed my tears away.  My voice sounded upbeat, cheery and hopeful, even as I relayed difficult truths and circumstances.

We are praying for you, here, she said.  We can't wait to have you guys back.

I needed to hear that... that they hadn't given up on us.  They believed it would still happen.

Hanging up, the tears began to well up in my eyes and hot rivers streamed down my cheeks, as they have before, after these conversations.  The sky is clear and bright blue.  I look up and ask God if it's time to give up the dream, desperate for an answer... one way or another.

How does one know when it is time to let a dream go... to let it fade into the recesses of your memories?  We've been holding on to ours for about twenty years now.  We didn't think we'd ever be able to have our own biological children, so we always wanted to adopt.  God had always put it on our hearts.  At the end of 2009, it was finally the right timing, and we spent a year certifying with two different agencies, so that we could adopt children out of foster care.  And then my body shut down.

I don't claim to know what it feels like to struggle with infertility.  We have been so abundantly blessed with our sweet boys.  But I do know what it feels like to want children, and to have a body that simply won't cooperate with that desire.  At times it's heartbreaking and at times it's infuriating.  It's always difficult to understand.

Our certification will be expiring in a few months.  We have prayed and decided to do the work required to keep it intact... for another couple of years.  To see if God wants to accomplish something in that time.  I know His heart is for adoption and redeeming the lives of abandoned little ones, but maybe it just isn't His plan for our family. Perhaps I won't get well, as I had thought... perhaps I need to be at peace in suffering.  Only He knows for certain.


For now...
 I am waving the little white flag.  
I surrender.  
I surrender my dream... our dream.  
I want whatever His dream is for us.  
Even if it looks different.  
Even if it might be hard to accept.  
Even if He takes what seems impossible and makes it possible.  
I want to dream His dream.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3:20-21

Do you have dreams that you have been waiting on?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Brazzle Dazzle Day



The last couple of weeks a mighty fierce virus rampaged our household and took us all down.  Every family member had slightly different symptoms.  I won't bore you with the long list of mine that changed from day to day, but at the end I got a little bit of laryngitis.

I kind of love it when I lose my voice.  Is that weird?  Not when it's gone completely, but when it is just starting to go or just starting to come back.  I like to sing with my raspy voice, because then I can do my best Helen Reddy imitation.  And that gives me very good memories.

When I was growing up, I absolutely loved Pete's Dragon.  I went to a screening on the Disney lot and I was completely enchanted by it.   I decided right then that I was going to marry Sean Marshall, who played Pete, so I wrote him a letter and he wrote me back and sent me his head shots and everything.  I still have the letter... and the head shots.  I must have really dug the bowl cut and cute dimple.




My dad bought me the album and I would sit and listen to it through his big headphones, looking at all the photos, reliving the movie, as I learned every lyric.  We loved Candle on the Water and I would secretly get so excited when I lost my voice so I could sing it like her.




I also tried to sound like Barbara Mandrell when I had a raspy, sick voice.  Do you remember that variety show she used to have?  It was so silly, and dad and I would love to watch that together, too.

So funny the memories that laryngitis can trigger, isn't it?  I'm glad to be remembering these things about my dad.  He has been so sweet, caring for my family and my mom who has been suffering from shingles the past couple weeks.  He has a servant's heart and we all love and appreciate him so much.




Here is a little Helen Reddy, Pete's Dragon snippet for Dad... some Candle on the Water.  

Yes, I actually recorded myself.  I sounded a lot more Helen Reddy a couple days ago when my voice was raspier, but I started in the middle of the song where I feel the most Helen.  I also messed up on a couple words, because I memorized it wrong when I was 7 or so... but hey, it's my best impression! I haven't recorded myself in years... kind of a trip messing around trying to figure out Garage Band and SoundCloud.com.  I really can't believe I'm posting this... but here we go.  I'm not the "best singer in the world" like Celine Dion or anything, but I do love to sing... and I always have.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mish Mash

WIWW #23

pleated poppy


Top & Shoes: Marshalls; Jeans: Thrifted; Necklace: Etsy Linkel Designs
Scarf: Crocheted by me

I got this crochet pattern from my sweet friend, Bethany.
It's such a neat texture.  I tried it with some thick Homespun yarn.
I love how it came out so warm and cozy.
Here's the pattern if you want to try it yourself.

 Cardigan & Top: Marshalls; Jeans: Walmart; Socks & Boots: Macy's

I'm pretty sure I've worn all these pieces on WIWW... several times.
But never in this combination, folks.
I don't know what I'll do when this sweater and top wear out.



And this is reality.  There's been a virus in the house and thus the PJ's.
This is actually how I was quite a lot of the time last year dealing with chronic illness.
My sweet husband bought me many cute PJ's to wear.

I can't tell you how great it has been to be a part of WIWW.
It got me out of my PJ's and at least attempting to be a little cute.

And I'm so glad I've made some new friends... you are all so encouraging.
Thank you so much for that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eating Squirrel

Circa June 2011 on his 6th Birthday

Jason and I were talking about the book of Ezekiel the other day. 

Did you know that God had Ezekiel eat a scroll? I asked.

A squirrel? he asked, a little horrified.

No, not a squirrel, a scroll, I laughed.

Why?

Well, God wanted Ezekiel to really have His Word go deep into His heart, 
so He had Ezekiel actually eat a scroll that had His words on it.

Hmmm,  Jason thought.

Do you know what it tasted like?

Uh, no, Jason grimaced.

It tasted like honey.  
Isn't that amazing... I thought it would taste gross.  
But that is how God wants His Word to taste to us... sweet like honey.

I think this is enough concept for me, Mom.

I thought that was hilarious... enough concept!!  

God's word is sweet, even when it's hard.  
But sometimes I have to stop and ponder for a while, too.  
Sometimes I've had enough concept, too, and I have to meditate for a while.  
To  let it really sink in... to really digest it.

God is patient with me... and then I'm ready for some more concept!  

Ready to eat some more scroll!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

False Assumptions


The culture of Christianity can, oftentimes, be a very strange place to dwell.  Christians, myself included (especially me, in fact), can be some really weird birds.  We do silly things such as calling an eating establishment Christian.  Is that because the coffee has recited the sinner's prayer, or because the pancakes have been properly baptized in holy syrup?  I'm not sure.  We will also rally to support a "Christian" movie even if the acting is hideous and the dialog is filled with silly cliches, regardless of whether or not the themes are all that Biblical.  Then we buy Christian bracelets that say WWJD and do the exact opposite of what Jesus would have done, while pridefully sporting said bracelet like that amulet Peter Brady wore on the Hawaiian vacation episode.  I can hear that eery amulet music playing in the background right now.

We have a lot of bizarre sayings, too.  Things like "God is good... all the time." Because that is supposed to help people feel better when they are going through a divorce or their child is dying of cancer.  If the pastor calls the first part out and then the congregation answers the call, I think it is supposed to be even more powerful.  It makes the ground shake a little bit.  It's a true statement, I admit, but it doesn't feel at all compassionate when you are going through something terribly hard.  It makes me want to kick people in shins, which is not compassionate either.  So I try to plug my ears if I think that phrase might be coming.

Then, there's the way we say "just" a million times when we are praying.  "Lord, would you just be with us right now?  Would you just come and bring healing?  Would you just comfort our pain?  Would you just help us?"  Do we think that God is capable of "just" doing only so many things, or are we trying not to sound too needy or greedy?  Or do we "just" want a little bit of His power to come into our lives?  Like we "just" couldn't handle too much.

It's like we all get wrapped up in a peculiar religious fog, speaking our own special lingo that's not all that helpful, or dare I say, maybe not even Biblical.


I have a confession to make.  Other than the fact that I've done and said many of the things listed above, I have done something else in the past few years that has really come to grieve me.  I have come to think of my God as a "user god."  You know how we Christians say things like...

"Wow, that is awesome!  God really used you."
"He is really going to use this situation in your life.  Just wait and see."
"God is going to use you to speak to that person."
"Don't worry.  God is going to use that horrible thing that happened to you for His good."

Little by little, some false assumptions crept into my ears, and likewise, out of my mouth.  Then the lies began entwining themselves around my heart.  I began to think that I was just someone to be used by a non-personal, supreme being and then cast aside when he didn't need me or want me anymore.

Cast aside...
Like a Kleenex you use briefly and throw away.
  
Like a tool you take out to accomplish a task and then shove back into a dark, cold drawer for the next time it's needed.  

Like a train you ride to a destination and then leave behind.  

Like like a marionette puppet you use to tell a story and then hang back up on a rusty nail on the wall.

 Like a "friend" who uses you as a stepping stone to get something otherwise beyond their grasp.  

Or a "lover" who uses your body for their own pleasure, but deserts you before dawn.

But... I don't want to be used.  
I want to be loved.
I don't want to be a footnote.  
I want to be part of a grand story...
about a good God.

My false assumptions are slowly being erased and replaced by His truths and promises.
My God is not a user god.
He does not use me and cast me aside.
He wants me to be molded in His capable, creative hands, a useful vessel in His story.  
Not a used one.

He loves me 
~John 3:16~
He redeems me
~Psalm 103:3-5
He purifies me
~1 John 3:2-3~


He calls me
~2 Peter 1:3-4~
He anoints me
~Psalm 23:5~
He prepares me for good 
~Ephesians 2:10~


He disciplines me
~Hebrews 12:10-11~
He restores me
~Psalm 23:3~
He refines me
~Zechariah 13:9~
 

He blesses me
~Ephesians 1:3~
He gives me good gifts
~James 1:17~
He sings over me
~Zephaniah 3:17~ 

He shepherds me
~Isaiah 40:11~
He fathers me
~Matthew 6:26~
He cherishes me
~Ephesians 5:29-30~
 

He gathers me to His side.  A bride and heir to His Kingdom.
~Ephesians 5:25-27~
 
He is the one I am falling in love with again.

He is not a user god.

His name is Jesus.
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