Friday, February 25, 2011

Loneliness: but for a season.

I desire to be transparent & open in my blogs. Transparent, not just for the sake of being transparent, or in any manipulative way for some sort of special attention. But I want to be open with my readers (however few or many in number) about my struggles, my walk with the Lord, and the seasons of my life He is leading me through. I want to encourage people on their unique walks with Christ... and to lay it out there for those who feel led to pray for or encourage me in mine. I also desire to be open because I love having this blog to look back on in the future. I've kept it off and on for four years or more, and it's already been a blessing to see the path God's taken me on. A journal to chronicle His faithfulness... and, Lord willing, to encourage sisters (and brothers?) in Christ.

With all that being said... yesterday was a rough day. Really, it was mostly all me and just a battle in my mind. I was just down & discouraged & frustrated for a number of reasons. The girls had nothing to do with any of it... Gabbi was actually in a great mood all day. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was because I didn't get much sleep the night before. Maybe it was because I've been sick. Maybe it was a combination of the three. I can't really say, because I have a "bad day" like that about once a week.
All I can figure is it's the season I'm in right now. It all started back during the summer, God was just doing some huge things in my life. If you haven't read this post from August, you can. Since then, however, I've been... just... lonely. I recognized this loneliness almost immediately, but was absolutely content with it. The Lord drew me closer to Himself -and sort of away from people- to gently point out several things to me. Things I know I otherwise wouldn't hear if some really intimate relationships I had were still just as close. But He hasn't restored intimacy and closeness with some of these old friends... or new ones... or anything. I feel disconnected. I want to add a "side note" here that there was no falling out, no arguments, nothing that would cause dissension between myself or anyone else. Just a... drifting, I guess.
Anyway, over the past several months I've had ups and downs between having my feelings hurt about things and being perfectly happy & content with where I'm at. I've realized things about myself. I'm typically a "pursuer" in a relationship. I usually make phone calls to catch up with people, suggest "hey let's get together", organize things, etc. This is not patting myself on the back, this is just my personality. I'm outgoing. I love people & to socialize. My first year of motherhood, I say I was not a "stay-at-home mom", I was a "non-working mom"--- because Gabbi & I were never actually at home. I'm not proud of that by any means. I do need to be home, and I'm glad I've found balance since then. But I've learned with most (not all) people that if I don't call, we won't talk. And realizing this is where my struggle comes in.

Last night Dustin and I had great talk... for a little while. He encouraged me, prayed for me, then fell asleep. See, I should no better after 4 years of marriage than to begin long, intimate discussions with him when we're lying down in bed. He falls asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow... when my head hits the pillow, worlds of thoughts open up. So last night I was doing good to get a little conversation out of him. But he fell asleep when I was still wanting to talk, and I got my feelings hurt.
I laid there. I cried. I prayed. I cried. Some thoughts I had were definite pity party, some legitimate. But as I was praying, I was just confessing and crying out about the loneliness I've been feeling. I thought, even my own husband doesn't want to talk, I even have to be the one pursuing conversation with him! It seems like months since I've had a real, non-surfacey conversation with a sister-in-Christ. It's probably been a year since I've felt true, genuine fellowship with a group of women. Lord, I just want fellowship. I just want someone to pour my heart out to. And I don't want to be the one pursuing it. I want someone to pursue friendship with me............. then I stopped. What do you think I am doing? The Lord answered me so very clearly.

Then, conviction. At first, I loved & cherished the season I was in because I knew God was doing a work in me. I knew He needed to draw me apart & to Himself to do this work in me that only He could do. I knew He wanted me to call to Him, cry to Him (not pick up the phone or drive to a friend's house) when I had something I needed advice about or just wanted to share. I was filled with joy at His drawing me. Content.
Over the months, my thoughts and actions have shown my heart in the matter. I only want the Lord's friendship & comfort until I become dissatisfied. When I say "OK, enough is enough" then I expect other friendships to come in the picture. God just isn't "enough" anymore. Discontentment.
But He's not finished with me... Clearly, there is still so much work to be done. I'm encouraged. I need to be in the Word and having the Spirit daily fill me. I need to continue seeking Him, listening to Him, to hear Him in what He wants to say to me. I need to wait upon Him.

This season has not been all bad- just harder on my weak flesh the longer it has gone on. It has been so good though, so eye opening. And I thank God for He alone is the One who opens my eyes. But Dustin and I have grown closer through this time. He is so sweet. A few months ago I was crying to him about some of these very things, and he looked at me, wiped my tears and said: "But Baby, I am your best friend." And it's true. I think I would have said that at any point in our marriage, "oh yes, of course, my husband is my best friend." But it hasn't been until recently that I've truly believed & felt it. Even still though, I'm prayerfully cautious to not put Dustin in a place in my heart that only the Lord deserves. He is my true Husband. My true Prince. My true Love.
And I long to know Him deeper....

Psalm 25:5 "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long."

Psalm 63:1 "O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land were there is no water."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo Challenge Break

I guess I'm a bit behind in this 30 Day Photo Challenge... it's probably going to be a little more like a 90 day challenge for me. That's okay. I've been occupied with more important things.
It's been a sick time in our house these days.
I broke down and went to the doctor on Monday after not feeling well off & on for about two weeks... then really building up all week last week. I had/ have a sinus infection, that turned into bronchitis. It's interesting because almost exactly a year ago I had the exact same thing. I guess it's just something I'll have to plan for next year :)
Both the girls have had yucky colds that have turned into nasty coughs. I'm just waiting it out before I take them to the doctor- I hate to be one who rushes to the doctor at the first sneeze. They haven't had fevers, or trouble breathing/ sleeping/ eating... so I'm not too concerned.
Catie has actually been sleeping better! She is still taking two naps! Two long naps! Gabbi moved to one nap right after she turned one... so this is just crazy for me with Catie being almost 18 months. I'm praying it even holds out until the baby gets here. How wonderful would it be if she's still taking two naps then?! The only thing is- Dustin and I were talking about last night- we were kind of wanting to move her into a "big" bed in Gabbi's room before the baby came. Because once she moves out of our room, Baby will go into Catie's room & crib. Well, Catie is such a good sleeper!!! Yes she stills has her paci, and yes she's still in her crib... all of which Gabbi was done with by 18 months. She was paci-free & in a toddler bed. And actually, when she turned one, we took the paci away for all but nap & bed time. Well right now, if you come to our house at any given time of day, you are 80% sure to find the paci in Catie's mouth. She is soooo very attached. I mean, no rush. I'm not too concerned that she still has it. We seemed to have rushed everything with Gabbi. Yet, at the same time, she sort of rushed herself. She's always seemed older to me than she actually is. She is just such a go-getter.... walking full speed (and I mean even climbing equipment at the park) at ten months old. Not exaggerating. I can't even really remember when she started talking, it just seems like she came out talking! But she was definitely already saying sentences and carrying on mini conversations at 18 months. Even today she's a go-getter... she rarely sits still, a complete bundle of energy! Always dancing around, or singing songs, or playing with imaginary friends.
Catie, on the other hand, is super laid back. When we go to a park, while I can just *blink* and lose Gabbi (scary, yes), Catie takes several minutes standing beside me & just watching everyone before she warms up to playing.
I love how different they are.
I've also done things differently with them. Sometimes I feel like we had been too hard on Gabbi. Part of my old mentality that the Lord has so sweet delivered me from this past year. "If I do A + B, I will get a result of C". I was rigid with the scheduling-- I know, I'm sure I have some super-structured moms reading that are still schedulers, and that's perfectly OK... It's just not for us. Which, if "2 year ago me" were to read those words, I'd probably have to pick my jaw off the floor. Because I was just so sure there is yes, a RIGHT way and a WRONG way. Scheduling was the right way. I'm just not there anymore. I do believe kids needs structure... I just don't think letting a 3 month "cry it out" is the way (Even though I do believe there is a time & place when a baby/ toddler needs to cry it out). Wow I sure sound like a walking contradiction right now?
Anyway I'm just not a super structured, organized, type A personality. I like the flexibility I have with my kiddos. They sort of make their own schedules eventually anyway. The thing that makes me laugh is I was such a stickler with the schedule with Gabbi... and a bit more lenient with Catie (kind of half schedule/ half flexibility)- she rarely cried it out- and Catie is my good sleeper. I foresee making my hubby cringe & throwing schedules out the window with #3... :) *kidding. kinda.*

Well, we bought bunk beds today! Even though I'm not sure when we'll put Catie in it, it is something that needed to be done.
Dustin asked me when my next dr appt was, and he was shocked when I told him Friday. Yes, I am every 2 weeks now. Only for 2 more appointments & then I'll go weekly. He leaves for Africa three weeks from Friday. While he's gone I'll turn 36 weeks. When he gets back it could be any day... YIKES!
Time is flying & I feel so unprepared.
Praying for a productive month in March.... the last full month before our Charity Ruth arrives!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 15

Something I want to do before I die.
Just like pretty much every other post, several things could have gone here.
There are so many places I want to go -live- before I die. I may never get to & that's okay. But I do think the Lord will have us living somewhere else before we die... maybe in one of these following places? If I had to choose today, I would choose one of the following places, but who knows what the Lord has planned? Anyway... here you have it... places I want to see before I die.... all located around the same place.



The Dead Sea

The Nile


I guess it's pretty self explanatory why I want to go to these places. I've said before, I'm fascinated with North Africa/ Middle East. I love the biblical history that is there. I want to see Egypt & the pyramids, see Bethlehem & the places Jesus walked. I want to swim (or float) in the Dead Sea- just because I think it's pretty cool. I want to visit the places Paul took his missionary journeys through Turkey.
These countries where Christianity was born- now only a small percent know Christ. Although I would like to visit these places for the "fun" of it, more than anything, I want to see Christ's name proclaimed (once again) in these places. So really, I would love to go and have the Lord use me- and my family- to accomplish the task.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 14

Meet Kelly, my mommy!
Someone I couldn't imagine life without.
There are a few... obviously my husband or my daughters, but I've written about them a lot & just in the last post, so I'll talk about my Momma!
My mom and I weren't super close when I was growing up; I honestly was never one of those girls who would've said "I tell my mom everything" or "my mom is my best friend". But we've really grown close since we've both come to know Christ, and especially since me getting married & having kids of my own. The Lord has redeemed much!
I couldn't imagine life without my mom! We talk- or at least text back & forth- everyday, at least once a day. She has helped me so much in marriage & motherhood. I'm very thankful that I don't have a mom who loves to "dog" my husband. I know this is so very common & I don't take it for granted. When I've called her at different times in the middle of a disagreement with Dustin, or whatever it may be, I call her because I know she'll give me godly, balanced advice on the situation. There have even been times Dustin has said "will you please just go call your mom?" :) Her and my dad both are mine & Dustin's "go-to" people when we are stuck about a decision to make. Not that they make decisions for us, but the bible has much to say about seeking godly counsel, and I'm thankful that "counsel" is in my very family! It has not always been so!
Mom has also been so great since becoming a mother myself. We were just talking the other day about how huge it's been that mom is so experienced with babies & children. She started babysitting back when she was about 12, and worked with babies ever since then- and my whole life! There was always a baby around the house that Mom was babysitting, or "nanny-ing". As I got older, I started babysitting on my own & helped out more with whoever was around our house. Mom definitely passed on her love for babies to me. And when I became a mom, I wasn't clueless. Well, no more than the typical amount of clueless... obviously there is nothing like having a baby of your own... but I was comfortable with babies. I knew how to change a diaper- I'd been doing it almost my whole life. Things like that. And for the times when I didn't know what to do, like when Gabbi was screaming for hours in the middle of the night at 4 in the morning, who did we call? I've always had mom to ask "is this normal??" She is great with children, and especially my children. I love that she enjoys my girls, and I don't feel like they are a burden or annoying her. And that she is happy when I have children. I've known women who dread telling their mom that their pregnant (again)... Trust me, there are members of my family I dread telling when I'm pregnant, but I'm so thankful my mom is not one of them!
Life was definitely different when Mom & Dad were in Louisville, and Gabbi and I both are loving having them back here in Knoxville with us. I just don't ever want to take having Mom here, or our relationship, for granted. Who knows what the Lord has in store or where we'll be in our futures?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Day 13

Just catching up a little since I've skipped several days. And this post requires little/no effort :)

A picture of my favorite band(s) or artist(s).
Yeah... there's no way I could pick just one.
I don't listen to as much a variety in music as I used to- mainly because I think the radio stations here stink & my iPod is dead :( But I have these favorites, who have been favorites for a few years now. If anyone hasn't listened to them, I highly recommend these three.

Caedmon's Call

Andrew Peterson

Then there's that not-so-secret but somewhat embarrassing love of country music I mentioned a few posts ago. Have to pay tribute to my two faves there...

George Strait


Day 12

Something I love.
There are a lot of obvious things that I love. I love Jesus & worshiping Him & the Gospel.
I thought about just doing something not-so-obvious.
I love cooking. I love Mexican food. I love celebrating birthdays. I love photography. I love road trips. ( I could go on.)
Then I decided against that.... so let's be obvious...

I absolutely love&adore this man. I love him more today than the day I married him. I love the man he is, and the man the Lord is growing him to be. He is amazing. I love the way he loves us, his girls. The greatest husband & father I know. I know most any wife would say that about their husband, and that's okay. He's mine... and no one else needs to think he's the greatest husband & father they know :)

I love our sweet girls, our growing family.

I am so thankful for what the Lord has given me in my little family. Some days are hard- we absolutely don't live in some fairy tale fantasy... but I love where we are. I know time is fleeting. Gabbi is 3 and it seems like just yesterday we were up all night with our screaming newborn. My time with them is precious... short. With Dustin too really, if you think about it. I want to redeem the time with them. I want to show Christ to my husband and my girls. Although I know I fail everyday, His grace is there. I love how forgiving children are. I can be short with Gabbi sometimes, and she is so quick to forgive when I apologize to her. She forgets. And she still loves me so much. I know I can learn something from that.
I love them all so much. And, at least for the next 15 years, we're together no matter what... or where... I wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Day 11

Something I hate.

It's taken me a couple days to gather my thoughts for this post. I look at what's going on in Egypt- a power hungry dictator, civil unrest; what's been going on in Africa- poverty, starvation, children being abducted and forced into local armies; what's going on the US- abortion, drug babies born to less than capable parent(s)... I hate these things. I hate when my babies are in pain... yet I know, my babies have no idea about pain. They are tucked safely in their warm cozy beds each night, with full tummies and the "comforts" of blankies and a million stuffed animals surrounding them. No... they don't know discomfort, and probably never will. I hate seeing children in pain, but the problem truly goes much deeper than that. I get angry at women like the one pictured boasting in a "choice". Then I realize, she's blind, it's sin. It all goes back to sin. Unrest in Egypt. Poverty in Africa. Abortion in the US. (I know these locations are not the only place these things exist, it's just what's come to mind at the moment.) The Lord is not surprised by these things... He said it would be so! And He also knows why it is so... why? It's because of sin. What I truly hate, is SIN.
When I began thinking of my hatred for sin & all these things around the world going on that are caused by sin, the Lord quickly brought it back to me.
I hate MY sin.

This is pretty much the best picture I could find for "my sin". And sadly, it's pretty accurate... I have been the woman before. What's not so accurate is that Dustin is rarely that man raising his voice back. No, my sin is not limited to screaming at my husband... and by His grace only the screaming has been significantly less than the first year or so of marriage... I have been given a new nature, but still am dealing with the sin nature I was born with. And I'm reminded of it every day. It wears me out... and I know it wears out those around me. I'm impatient. I'm prideful. I'm lazy. I'm unbelieving. I'm selfish.
Oh, how I can't wait for the day when finally this old nature will be put off for good! And I will worship Christ fully, without a sin nature hindering me.

God is not up in Heaven wringing His hands, wondering what He is going to do with Egypt, or Africa, or America.... or me. He knows truly the need for the world- to hear and receive His gospel. God is sovereign over the painful things too, nothing has caught Him by surprise. He does all things well, and for His glory- whether or not it makes sense to me. That does not mean I'm to sit back and shrug off what's going on around me. But I know first, I must deal with myself- I must remind myself of who I am in Christ, and ask for the Holy Spirit to enable me to act accordingly. Secondly, I must pray for His will to be done among the nations, that His name may be made great. And I also must hear Him on what He wants me (us) to do... Pray? Give? Go?
Well, we all should pray. But the giving or the going.... it looks different for everyone.
I know that by one man sin entered the world. That Satan in the god (little "g") of this world, and that is evident by the current events. And I surely hate these two facts. But I am not discouraged.

John 16:33
In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
He is the answer. He is what they need. Someone just needs to tell them.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Day 10

Person I've done the most *adventurous* things with.
The challenge actually said "messed up" things, but I'm not gonna go there. Another friend I saw put "adventurous" and I definitely like that better... I'm also going with "people" instead of one person:)

Derek & Kristin

Ok, let's face it, I'm not quite as adventurous as I'd like to be. It's not that I'm scared, or don't like the outdoors... Dustin & I absolutely love being outdoors. We love hiking, biking, camping, being on the lake- all those things. It's just that we don't do it so often. I guess just the planning aspect of it... We definitely would more often, and every year since we've been married we've gotten out a little bit more. But it's safe to say that almost every time we've done something, Derek & Kristin are the friends we do it with.

Mine and Kristin's friendship began an adventure on the other side of the world. We've walked through bush & villages, slept on top of a land rover, and had near-death road experiences in Kenya. (OK, maybe "near-death" is exaggerating, but it was quite terrifying) With Kristin & Derek we've camped, hiked, gone boating & tubing at the lake. We've had all-night games of monopoly, snuck into hotel swimming pools (something we were later convicted about, and wouldn't do again :-/), and always have a blast.
It's not always fun and games, as Derek & Kristin are probably the friends we've confided in the most since even before we were all married. We've shared our hearts, our struggles, our joys throughout marriage. With them we've laughed, prayed, & cried.
We are so thankful to God for the friendship He's given us through our brother & sister in Christ. They've been such an encouragement to us on our journey, and their friendship has truly pointed us more toward our Savior.