Wednesday, December 29, 2010

queso es muy sabroso

ok, i have to ask...i wonder if you think like i do? for your sake, i'd hope not. but, i am curious, if, like you have a list of things that you wish you could do, but you can't? i do. fortunately, it is fairly short list, but i do have one.

i wish i could play the piano well.

i wish i could speak fluent spanish.

that's it.

for as long as i can remember in my adult life, i have wished i could do these two things. i'm weird, aren't i? but, it's true. i sit and marvel when someone, who looks fairly normal on the outside, then sits down and blows your mind when they begin to play the piano in beautiful fluidity. to me, that looks SO in need of a skilled person. i am not a skilled person. well, at least, not in that way. and, since i'm all about outright honesty, i can admit fully to the fact that i can trace the reason that i do not currently know how to play the piano to two things: first of all, my left hand is good for nothing. (neither is my left foot, for that matter) don't believe me? ask any of my former coaches who constantly tried to get me to shoot left-handed lay-ups, or score a goal from anywhere besides the far right side of the soccer field. "right hand dominant" doesn't begin to describe it. but, the main reason i can't play the piano is more simple that that. friend, i am just....lazy. more on this in a minute...

i also really want to be able to speak spanish. this one even surpasses my desire to tickle the ivories with style. i can trace this desire back to middle school maybe, when my spanish teacher walked in the room, looking as completely caucasian as can be, and began to speak to us in beautiful and fluent spanish like she'd been doing it for years. i was blown away. she didn't look anything but white anglo saxon protestant, yet there she was able to speak in a whole 'nother language. whoa. so, that began my best friend, lindsay, and i with our past time of "faking it". funny plan, really. as years went by and lindsay and i moved on from the required two years of spanish, knowing not a whole lot more than our typical colors...we didn't want to move on from our "second" language. so sometimes, when we were feeling silly (which was most of the time), we would sit and wait for someone we didn't know to walk by and then we would start speaking in "our" spanish. let me demonstrate....

"me llamo carolina, queso es muy sabroso, donde esta el bano, cuidado el piso mojado, hola!"

when you string it all together, it sounds like the beginning to a beautiful and lovely spanish conversation. one that you, too, would want to be a part of, i'm quite sure. however, once translated, instead, you can see that i simply said "my name is caroline, cheese is very tasty, where is the bathroom, be careful wet floor, hello!" nice, huh? yes, well, lindsay and i thought so.

and once again, there are two main reasons why i do not actually speak spanish now. first of all, there really was no room in my schedule once i hit high school and college to actually take more classes. no really, i didn't have room. lots of math classes. lots. but really, once again, full disclosure here.... it is just that i am lazy.

yes we are back to that, i am lazy. if i really stop and think, which i have recently done...i admit to myself that right now, a full 15 years after i first desired to be able to speak spanish or play the piano, would be very cool to do...i have had ample opportunity to learn them both, but i haven't. it is not like i have a desire to walk on the moon, or climb mount everest. ya, that would be tough. these two...are actually attainable. i have just not wanted to put in the time, effort, and energy to make it happen. instead i have spent the last 15 years admiring other people who can speak spanish or play the piano. and man, if you can do both...i absolutely want to be your best friend.

why in the world am i telling you all of this? well...lately i have been thinking about this time of year. we just finished celebrating the Christmas season. i must be honest and tell you that i am a little tired of "happy holidays". sorry, but i am. i'm over it. i am all about keeping the "Christ" in Christmas. well, this reminded me of how i signed our family Christmas cards this year...Merry CHRISTmas, love team holzberger! i wanted to be clear. bout what the most important part of this holiday was. i think it worked. i've always said that when you look at it that way, you can clearly see what comes first (CHRIST) and the rest of the word, you can see how much of Him we should want..."mas", which in my vast spanish speaking knowledge, i know, means "more". that's it. we need "mas" CHRIST, people.

but, unfortunately, i don't think that people really look at it that way. in fact, i think it is just the opposite in our society nowadays. instead, we are all about celebrating a merry christMAS. we aren't concerned with the first half of the word, just the last half will do, thank you very much. we spend this season wanting/buying/spending/planning "mas". more. more. more. mas. mas. mas. sad, isn't it? well, to me it is. am i immune? no way, jose! i can be seen with more of this and more of that during this time of year. don't believe me? simply ask my dear sweet hubby to see my snowman collection. (but be prepared for him to try and give you some snowmen to take home with you!) talk about "mas".

but, here's the deal, friends. you see...i know that we are a few days after Christmas but, we don't have to lose the spirit. the spirit of this season is a lovely thing. loving "mas". caring "mas". giving "mas". it isn't about us. it is about the Jesus in us. but, the great news is that it isn't at all limited to the month of december. in fact, it is just the opposite. anyone can display this spirit during the time of year that you are "supposed" to. someone cuts you off on the road, you let it slide, after all it's Christmas. you have a spare saturday afternoon to volunteer somewhere, after all it's Christmas. that is expected. but, it takes a lot more discipline, a lot more maturity, a lot more of us choosing to display Jesus and not ourselves to do it in the other 11 months of the year.

so, why then, is it so hard? well, the reason is simple, friend. and it is the same reason behind the fact that i can only play chopsticks and tell you that the rainbow is made up of rojo, anaranjado, amarillo, verde, azul, i can't even remember purple!

we, my friend are...lazy.

it takes a fair amount of self-discipline to spend time in God's Word every day. it takes even more discipline to speak kind words to everyone we see in our normal day. and it takes almost divine self-discipline to put all other before ourselves at all times. (whew, that does sound tough!) but it is much more attainable that we might think. but, we have to be willing to put in the work. uh-oh, did you say work?

seems to me that sometimes people see "work" as a dirty four letter word. yes, i belong to this group of people. do you?

Jesus was pretty clear about what his mission was. (john 12) He came to serve God and spread His Name and His love and His good news to all people. seems like that is the perfect person to model. i'm no biblical scholar, but i'm quite sure that the following verses don't contain an appedix that states *limited to the month of december.

john 13:35 "by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

philippians 2:3 "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

and this one really gets me...

mark 10:45 "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"

who am i to think that i shouldn't be serving people all twelve months of the year? Jesus, the Word made flesh (john 1:14) came and even He served and served and served. mark 10:45 doesn't end with..."as long as the calendar sayeth december". c'mon friends, that is silly.

why can't we celebrate "mas" of Christ, long after Christmas is over. i think we can. i know we can, actually. but, i know we cannot do it on our own. thankfully we don't have to.

luke 12:12 "for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

john 14:26 "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

romans 5:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

by daily spending time in His Word, being in continuous communication with Him, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide you, putting others before yourself, having a happy heart in all circumstances...this is how we can have "mas" of Christ each and every month of each and every year. is it difficult sometimes? no, it is difficult at all times. we need all the help we can get to live in this sinful world and not blend right in with it. but, i encourage you, friend, as i encourage myself, that each day is a new day...each day is a new opportunity to spread not just the spirit of the season, but the spirit of the REASON behind the everyone in your life, beginning with those who share your last name and the roof over your head! so, merry CHRIST"mas" to you friend, today, and in march and in july...and all year long. but, don't worry...i'm not expecting a Christmas card each month...we gotta draw the line somewhere, eh?

ps. just so you know...that best friend of mine, lindsay...has been a missionary in mexico with her husband and kiddos for the last 8 years. darn her. :) she sounds fantastic with her fluent spanish and i'm left with "cheese is very tasty and where is the bathroom?" oh well. i couldn't be prouder of her and how God is using them! check them out ... (luke and lindsay greer)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

diving in head first and forgetting i can't swim

anyone else out there have a very healthy fear? or two? or seven?? (hundred) ya, that's me.

i remember when i was growing up, i had quite a few very healthy fears. some were warranted, some were not. i had a very healthy fear of my father when i heard the sounds of him begin to remove his belt an take the shinier side of his buckle to the not-so-shinier part of my backside. that fear was warranted. and, all to often, so was the spanking.

but i had plenty of fears that were just plain silly.

for instance - the trundle people. every heard of them? well, according to my big brother, the "trundle people" lived under my bed and if i fell asleep with any part of my body hanging off of my trundle bed, they would pull me under. very. healthy. fear. but, was it warranted? well, to a seven year old scaredy cat with an extrememly overactive imagination, yes. and yes, my big bro still denies ever telling me that. but, c'mon, what little girl makes that kind of thing up on her own? not this one.

one word. jaws. i saw that movie at waaay too young an age. it deserves a blog all its own. but trust me. very. healthy. fear.

then there was the drain at the bottom of the pool. can i get a witness?? ooohhh, that one scared me to death. and someone (no, i won't blame my big broher for this one! :) told me that if you put your hand flat against the drain that the suction would be so intense that you wouldn't be able to release your hand and you would drown. or if you happen to be swimming near the drain and you had long hair (yes, i had long hair) then it would get tangled up in the drain and once again, you'd drown. ugh. that one got me good. even as i got older and i rationalized that the liklihood of either of those things being completely true was slim to none, i still didn't chance it. i avoided the pool drain at all costs. even in the pool at my grandparent's house, which was honestly like 10 feet deep...i would jump off the super springy diving board and then do my very best to either surface quickly, which, by the way, made me look quite awkward, as if i really didn't know how to swim after all. or, plan b...i would purposely, if ever so subtly, swim to the side of the pool to the avoid the drain area altogether. drain? what drain? oh me?? i'm just swimming over here towards the ladder, that's all. ya. whatever. very. healthy. fear.

well, i don't have enough space to tell you all about my fears i've had as a "big girl" now, but trust me, they are many. will ryan leave me? will we always be broke? will something tragic happen to me? my kids? my ryan?? fear has always been a big deal in my life. i say has been because God has truly been working hard core on this issue in me. i have heard it said that fear is the biggest killer of faith. maybe that's why He's been working as hard as He has for as long as He has. He knows that my faith won't grow with fear lingering around waiting for me to fall asleep with my arm-a-danglin' off the side.

lately, i have brushed back up against some fearful thoughts. darnit. i thought that things had been going so well in that department. but lately, as i have been getting back into the swing of things, so to speak, i have heard that all-too-familiar voice in my thoughts telling me that the things i fear most are going to come true. and once i got past the flat out feeling of being mad about it. i really sat and thought, "what is going on?" "why is this happening now?" and then it hit me....oh ya, how's my life been lately?? hmmm...well, let me tell you. let me tell you how i have dived in head first...

up until about three weeks ago i have literally been lying flat on my couch ALL day every single day for the past four months. (see earlier posts for my specific medical drama!:) i mean, occasionally i would get up to go to the bathroom, or take a bath, (you are welcome) or take one of the 142 pills i have been on. but, that was it. i was flat on my back, trying to let my God and my body heal. so, i had quite a bit of "spare" time on my hands. my amazing parents were helping with my three small children and that meant that they woud take them with them to run errands-often enough, leaving me with a nice, quiet house. perfect chance to turn up that praise and worship and get into the Word. it was awesome. i mean, not the months on end of being unable to sit upright, that part...not so awesome. but, man...i was a "spiritual stud" (she said humbly) i was getting my Bible study done like days early (an absolute first for me!!)....soaking up my devotional books...writing a blog or two a week.....researching....listening to praise and worship....really just soaking it in. God and i were tight and i was blessed by that. God and i are still tight...but my schedule, you could say...has changed quite a bit. no kidding, it is unbelievable that only three short weeks ago i was praising to my dear friend that i had made the kid's breakfast AND folded a load of laundry all in one day.

but...then i started to get better. day by day, bit by bit...i started to get a little bit closeer to normal. for the record, i have sooo far to go it isn't even funny...but let me just tell you what i have done in the past three weeks alone....

driven my kids to and from school (at least 6 times)(that one deserves an AMEN! i love it!)....gone to a girl's night at my neighbor and best friend's house....attended the amazing women's dinner at our church....gone twice out with a friend to do Christmas shopping....attended a end of the sememster luncheon with my Bible study girls....washed probably 12 loads of laundry-all on my own....had two full days with no help from anyone at all with my three small kids....gone to see Rudolph on stage with my family....taken the kids to the mall to see Santa.....gone to church four times (including a worship wednesday!!)....attended each of my boy's Christmas parties at school....helped a friend decopage gifts for friends.....made two batches of homemade banana muffins (first batch was so burnt, you wouldn't believe it!)....handmade four teacher's gifts for boy's teachers at school.....made breakfast for all three kiddos at least 7-8times....made lunches for all three kiddos about that many times, too!....taken Chirstmas card pictures with my family.....designed Chirstmas cards online....addressed and mailed 100 Christmas cards (yes, i have a super big family!!)....created six, count 'em six calendars online for Christmas presents for the grandparents and great grandparents....handwashed i don't even know how many sinks FULL of dishes (no, our dishwasher doesn't work. you are listening to our dishwasher!) :).....attended a mother/daughter tea with my precious mom and my darling daughter....

whew! i am worn out by just typing that out. literally.

i think what has happened to me is that i am was so stinkin' thrilled that i could do something...that i no want do everything! ever hear the phrase "anything worth doin' is worth over-doin'!" ya, unfortunately, that is so often my motto...whether i mean for it to be or not.

would you care to know what i have NOT done over the past three weeks??? don't really want to share this part...not so proud of it...but here we go...... i have not spent a minimum of1-2 hours a day doing Bible study like i had in the past....i have not made it a priority to wake up before my kids do so i am guaranteed quiet time alone with God before my day begins....i have not answered the call i believe God has on my life by writing to you wonderful people about how He speaks to me and teaches me and reaches out to me each and every day....i have not completed my Bible study over the course of the entire week in preparation for wednesday morning, instead of doing it all last minute tuesday night and wednesday morning with a big "whew, that was close" under my breath....or even worse, not doing it at all...ugh.

i think you get the idea. i know i did. when i was lying in our sweet church listening to my pastor talk all about God and how greatly He wants to use us, if only we could get out of our own way. how sometimes, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to fully living out the purposes God has in our lives. ooohh, i wonder if he was just talking directly to me? i thought so, for sure. in fact, i'm pretty sure he put my name at the top of the bulletin, "ya, this is for you, attention!"

our pastor often says this: "the good news is this: you can have all of God that you want to. all of His power, all of His love, all of His intimacy. that's the good news. the bad news is this: you have about all of God that you want to."

ouch. God is readily available. and we are readily preoccupied.

and so true. here i am lying flat for so long, depending on Him for each hour, to get me trhough each doctor's appointment, and medical issue, each day full of doubt and uncertainty....and now look at me. a few breaths of the "freedom" i had before...and whooosh....i dive in head first. never you mind that i can't swim on my own. i mean, don't get me wrong...i still have fellowship with Him, i still praise and worship throughout the day, thank Him for so many small things...i am still very much communicating with Him throughout my day...but i have found myself wandering dangerously close to "that" place. you know "that" place i'm talking about, don't you?? well, maybe you don't. but, i know it. all. too. well. "that" place where you make sure you have "checked off" your God time so you can get on about the things in your day you just have to get done. yuck. i despise my own behavior. and what do you can only last like that for so long. your spiritual reserve cannot sustain you for one minute longer than He has designed it to. you don't spend four months lying flat with God, to store it up, so that once you are walking around again, you don't have to come back for more until next season. oooh, friend that isn't how it works. don't believe about the manna. in exodus 16, they wanted to store the stuff up so they wouldn't have to keep going back to God. it doesn't quite work that way. it spoils. and so do we.

and you know what, i'm thankful for that. i want to God who wants me back. who desires daily (hourly) fellowship with me. what kind of God would He be if He made us tread water out there on our own, flailing our arms all around, constantly coming up for air, looking like we've never seen the inside of a pool....when He, the One who walked upon the water (matthew 14) knows all about the drain, how to avoid it, or whether or not we even need to avoid it.

so, here i am confessing to you. i am so utterly grateful for all of the wonderful victories that God has allowed me to take part in over these last three weeks. i mean it, i am just so very thankFULL!! every single one has been precious. and about 75% of them have flat brought me to tears. no, really. i may even be underestimating that number! i have been a big ol' mess lately.

but, i am back now, i know this is what God wants me to do. to write about Him. to serve Him. to faithfully and single-mindedly do "this one thing" (see philippians 3) that He has called me to do. and no, it may not be as practical, as i get better and better and my kids get louder and older :) for me to have all of these hours and hours of Bible study every day like i had somewhat grown accustomed to. but, God knows my heart. (boy, does He!?!) and He knows yours. please do not let our enemy try to convince you that you are too far gone. no such thing, friend. no such thing. don't let him convince you that you've blown it. you haven't. ok, well...i take that back. you have blown it. but, so have i. and so did jacob. and noah. and peter. (three times!) and paul. and jonah. and sarah. and rachel. and david. oh, i could go on and on and on....but he would just assume you bask in your blown-it-ness and stay there, convinced that you can't be used again in any sort of real way. ya right. the Bible is F-U-L-L of people who got lots of chances. i don't know about you, but i cling to that, friend.

the point, my friend, is this. i haven't been wet from swimming around in what seems like a very loooong time. i haven't even been able to sit up and dangle my feet in the pool. i have felt bone dry. but, now i'm in. i'm all in. bikini days are over, however. looong over, we can all be thankful for that one. but really.... i am here. soaking wet and dripping with joy. and i am thankful, so very thankful for the fact that i get to take this God, my God and your God, and take Him along for every minute of every day on this ride He has given us called today. and the fear of no stupid drain is going to keep me from diving in head first. and no...i can't do it all. i shouldn't even try. yes, i do look like a fool who can't swim. but once again, He made the water. so, i know if i stick with Him, i'm good. and friend, so are you.

so....ready to dive in? He's ready....let's do this thing...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

it's just like riding a bike

well, will never...ever guess what i did today!?!

ran a marathan? no.

re-roofed our housee? no.

just teasing . :)

but seriously...I DROVE A CAR!!

waaahooooooooo!!!!! :)

after FOUR looong months of spending 23 out of every 24 hours in a day flat on my back, thanks to my stinkin' ol' leaking spinal fluid...i have spent the last two weeks trying to be upright more. it hasn't been easy. it hasn't been "fun". in fact, it has flat worn me out. but i am so thankFULL (see previous post) for how God has strengthened me more and more each and every day!

isaiah 40:29 " He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

i have seen God live this verse out in my life over the last two weeks, for sure. two weeks ago, i was praising Him because i was able to fix my kids' breakfast and do two loads of laundry, all within the same day. and today, just two weeks later, i drove our car! waaahoooo!!!!

but, i gotta tell you, i was a little nervous about it. i mean, really, i can count on two hands the number of times i have driven a car in the last year, almost. and i have driven a car a whopping zero times in the last four months. so, i was thinking..."i will remember how to do this, right?" they say it is just like riding a don't forget. just start pedaling and it will come back to you. well, today, friend...pedal, i did.

it's funny though cause i felt like such a big, fat, dork. (i know, shocker!) but i was driving around and i felt like i had felt some 15 some odd (ish) years ago. don't you remember how it felt? that day...that amazing, glorious, beautiful day?? the day when, for the very first time, the folks let you take the car out without them? ooohh, i remember. it was like i literally had wings. i remember driving around wishing with all my might that i would drive by every single person i ever knew. i wanted them all to see me. all of them. especially the good looking boys. :) c'mon i was 16...gimme a break.

and this morning, while i am clearly quite far from 16, i kinda felt like i maybe i wasn't that far after all. i was be-bopping around my town with the biggest, dorkiest grin on my face and looking around at everyone at each stop light, like "heeeyy yooou guuyyss....LOOK I'M DRIVING A CAR AGAIN! waaahooooo!!!" i was so giddy i could hardly stand it. i just knew i was going to get a speeding ticket because i kept looking down and was joyfully (although inadvertantly) stretching that speed limit by 7-9 mph. i didn't though. get a ticket, that is. thank you God for that. talk about a big bummer for my wonderful morning that would have been. plus, i didn't want to get grounded! :)

i even had the radio on KLTY, our local Christian radio station, which is where the dial generally stays put when i am driving. generally. but, alas, it is december so they are playing all Christmas music all the time. ugh. (that's a subject for a whole different post, trust me) anyway, one of my favorite Christmas songs came on that reinforced my 16-year-old mentality i was experiencing at the time. it's the good ol' "carol of the bells". ya see, not sure if you knew this about me...but, i was in choir in high school. now, let me be clear...i was not a choir stud. i always tease that i am a nice, solid, but my on the third row of a large choir-singer...don't give me a solo, friend, or you'll be sorry. at my high school, choir was kind of a big deal. and being in the top honor choir was even a bigger deal. i didn't make it until my junior year, but once i did and once Christmastime came, i knew what that meant. i knew i'd be joining the years and years of lakeview choir members who sang that traditional song each year.

so here i am, again, just a couple years later :) and joyfully singing along to the radio "hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away. diiiing, doooong, diiing dooong. diiing, doong, diing, diiiing, doooooong." the alto part wasn't much to smile at. kinda anti-climactic really. but, still...when i heard it come on, i wondereded if i'd remember it, soooo many years later. once again...i guess it's just like riding a bike. so, once again, pedal i did.

then, as i was driving around, basking in my newfound freedom, the gas light came on in my car and i about jumped out of my seat! cool! i gotta stop and get gas! neat! i honestly can't remember the last time i did that!?! remember, once again, to your youthful days, when anywhere you got to drive was fine by you! my mom: "hey, we have to go to the grocery store!" me: "ok, mom, can i drive!?!" too funny. anyway...on this fine morning, since i really had no actual "plan" as to where i was going on my big adventure, i made an executive decision that i would not only stop and get gas, but i'd stop and get donuts for the kids as well. double fun!

i pulled into the gass station, and once again i'm smiling like a bafoon at everyone...thinking "can they tell?" "does it show?"...wondering if anyone else could tell that this was the first time i'd driven a car....been out in public...had my wings back on, if you four months?!? if the huge, goofy grin didn't show them, then they just probably thought i really liked putting gas in my car. and today i totally did! :) i had hoped i would remember how to do that too? i did stop and think..hmmm...which side of the car is the gas thingy on? do i have my debit card? what is my pin #? how much gas should i get? i wonder if sweet ryan would like a diet coke? turns out i did remember how to do it all. i am a big girl. i can put gas in the car. i thought i may had forgotten. but, once again, friend, pedal, i did. but, as i did... i was filled with questions. and then, as i looked down at myself, i was filled with embarrassment. ahhh man, i took inventory of myself and realized that i was still in my pajamas, yesterday's makeup and funktified-slept-weird-on hair. shoot! see, i hadn't really planned on actually getting out anywhere, i was just going for a short drive. i looked like a cross between a homeless person and a starving college student who woke up too late for their biology final. ( and yes, i have had these flannel pjs since i was that college student. hey, don't judge, they are beyond comfy!) i only hesitated for a minute, because i truly don't struggle that much with worrying about what i'm wearing, my makeup, hair etc. don't believe me? ask any of the fine people who saw me at the gas station or the donut shop today. they can vouch for me! :)

so, after a very quick trip in and out of the donut shop, i had the treats for the kids in hand. a pink donut for benjamin, and chocolate twist for jacob, and as many donut holes as i will allow sister friend to consume. she loves a lot of them. and while it is technically the same, she prefers to get five donut holes opposed to just one donut. i absolutely get that. she's totally her mother's daughter. God help us all. :), i was completely wiped out after this huge excursion of mine. very much ready to head home. and it had been about 20 minutes, so i was ready. i joyfully pointed my sweet 4runner, "skip" (yes he has a name. all cars should have names. it is completely normal!) due north and headed back to my wonderful home. i called my dearest friend and across the street neighbor as i turned onto our street, because i wanted to surprise her with the good news. i knew she would LOVE to look out her front window and see me driving by. she has called me every single day for the last year to check on me. i mean it...there literally might have been like 6 days out of the last year that she has not called to see how i was doing. talk about a devoted friend. and now God has made us neighbors. we call it our own little romans 8:28. :) anyway...she was still snoozing, which i was so happy to hear, because she too has three little ones and deserves her rest every chance she gets. but her sweet hubby was happy to see me on my giddy drive by. and i was happy to be seen. sooo happy.

i parked the car. took a deep breath in and out. thanked God for my safe trip. and hobbled inside, ready to crash and rest a bit. but, when i walked in the door...all three of my blessing kiddos were awake. only baby girl was awake when i left. so, the boys ran to me saying "mama!" but then they saw the distinct donut shop bag in my hands and their squeals turned to "donuts!!". even abigail, who had already technically had breakfast started squealing and dancing in place. hilarious!! benjamin, in true "joy boy" fashion hugged me and said "i missed you so much, mama!" i love that boy. and then my darling precious eldest child...who is so thoughtful, so methodical, so much like his daddy. but oh, he is mine too...this boy wears the weight of the world on his baby sized six-year-old shoulders, and has been more affected by my year long struggle that i am wanting to be aware! he stopped right square in his tracks, because it hit him...and he stared up at me with the sweetest look i've seen in so long and said, "mama, did you drive the car!?!" my eyes welled up and i answered happily "i sure did, buddy! isn't that awesome!!! gimme five! go mama, right? are you proud of me?!?" he smiled so big and said "way to go! yes i am, mama! cool!" it was the most perfect welcome home. just perfect.

and although i will spare you the details :) i actually got to take a shower too! waaahhooooo!!! right now you may be thinking to, seriously? please tell me that you have showered in the last four months. although that would explain the smell. :) he he. to be honest, i have not showered one solid time in the last four months. not once. i have, however, taken many, many baths. not being able to stand up means no showering. so, i have been forced to become a bath person, like it or not. but today, i got to shower. i kept it brief, but it was so cool. co very cool.

so, friend, i don't know about you, but it has been a great day! a very, very great day! and i am just so happy to share it with you!!! i hope you are encouraged, even just a little, by my current ability to find joy in pumping gas into my car. you, too, can do this. trust do not have to go through what i have been through to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. God has blessed each one of us with a gift called today. i mean it. if you are breathing in and out right now (and i'm assuming that you are) then you, too, can be so happy for today.

and you, too, can pedal again. maybe you think you have forgotten what it is like to....

feel pretty?


go to church?

read your Bible?

just. feel. happy?

no matter what it has been, friend. trust that God can restore you. trust Him. trust that you, too, can enjoy yourself again. and your life again. it's just like riding a bike, right? just. start. pedaling, sweet friend. and know that our sweet God, who loves you more than you know is rejoicing over you... and riding right next to you...the whole way. enjoy the ride, friend, enjoy the ride.

zeph. 3:17 "the Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

romans 15:13 "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

1 peter 5:10 "and the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you, and make you strong, firm, and steadfast."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


ok, ladies and gentlemen, let's be honest, shall we? (hopefully no one answered a big, fat, "no!")

thanksgiving is a time where most of us are "thankful" for a couple extra days off from work, for turkey and dressing, for football, and for black friday. am i right, or am i right? trust me, i wish i were not right.

and hey, those are not bad things to be thankful for in and of themselvs. personally, the whole thanksgiving food issue isn't as much of a big deal for yours truly because, as some may say, i am a pretty "boring" eater. i prefer to call it "predictable and consistent", but whatever. in case you haven't been reading my posts for very long, i will enlighten you. i personally believe there is a special place in heaven for the blessed person who invented divided paper plates. whoever you are, wherever you are, i am thankful for you! and i am not one to pile on a little bit o' everything on my thanksgiving plate. that, is, however, how my dear husbands rolls. i mean it. i can hardly even handle sitting next to him. i love him, so i do. but it ain't easy. now, let me preface by saying that my sweet mom, step-mom and all of my various family members are truly all very good cooks, i mean it, they are!! but, is it just me, or does the thanksgiving food look fairly normal when it is in each of its respective decorative dishes, but then once piled onto a plate all next to each other, it all looks kinda...well, weird. (yes, i am sure it is just me, no shocker there) the colors and textures...all differet and mixed up all there thrown together. something just isn't right about it to me. and for ryan... really, you literally can see no, and i mean NO, little dixie paisley pattern creeping up from under his plate once he has gone through the line. he has a little bit o' everything on that plate, and yes, it is all touching each other...all of it!! (insert silent shudder from his lovely wife sitting next to him trying to avoid eye contact) he has turkey and gravy, and dressing, and green bean casserole (which i am proud to say i have now embraced but i honestly wouldn't touch the stuff for about the first 27 years of my life) sweet potatoes (his fav!), some sort of rice mixture that is too non-descript to identify clearly but nonetheless, he's served himself a heap-full, and regular mashed potatoes with gravy that yes, has oozed onto everything else (c'mon, seriously!?! i can hardly even type this out to you people) and sliced ham and some sort of congealed orange-mold-delight-thing complete with chunks (don't even get me started), and of course to top it all off, he has the cranberries. i'm sorry y'all...what is that about? i can't handle the texture of the cranberries. i mean it. are cranberries a solid or a liquid? (or do they give you gas?) sorry...i couldn't resist! :) i am quite sure i am forgetting a few things, but honestly it is out of sheer survival that i don't pay closer attention to his plate. if i did, i wouldn't survive sitting next to him. i know, i know...i'm horrible.

but, then there is my plate. simple. understated in its simplicity, really. it has....ham, of course, if we have it, which we usually do. i prefer that to turkey, but i do like both. i am happy to be a carnivore. and yes, i am a grown up now so i will eat the green bean casserole. (yea me! hey...a little self-affirmation never hurt anyone, right? especially since i am quite sure you all are sitting there reading this now thinking i am a complete fool!) a very, very healthy helping (or two) of mashed potatoes and a roll...or two, or three (especially if they are sister shubert's rolls...heavenly. and yes, this was life pre-gluten free. sigh) and we're out. that's it. i'm happy and done. yes, i can still appreciate the pleasant blue paisley print on the dixie plate. and yes, i can still eat my fill. and yes, i made it through the line in record time. and no, i did not accidentally overlook the cranberries. and no, i am not a communist.

to each their own, friend, to each their own. :)

and i love watching football. i really do. i know some of my girlfriends think i have joined the "dark side" and that i am not helping the "cause" of us women-folk, but i can't help it. i love it!! and i think ryan likes that i love it. i remind him of how lucky he is. i am sure he likes that too.

black friday is more of something my sweet ryan looks forward to. ya see, his birthday is the first of november and so, usually he gets a little birthday money each year and he looks forward to the ads and seeing if there is "that deal" that he wants to get at home depot that will make him one happy boy. it really is cute about it.i lkien it to the grown up version of getting the toys r us catalog as a kid and circling the toys you wanted santa to get you. me? i like to sleep. i am sure once our kids are older and asking for presents that i really do need to get at half off the full price in order to be able to afford, i will be up at 4am with the rest of my budget conscious friends. for now, we can just say "oh look, isn't this fun what you got for Christmas!" i know, i days are numbered!

but, truly, this year has been a tough one. a very, very tough one. but, i mean it with all my heart, friend, when i say i have seen God's hand all over it. and as i have been lying around this week (hey, it's what i do!) i have been thinking A LOT about where God has brought me over this last year. well....last year at this time, my world wasn't a whole lot different from it is right now. i was lying on this very same couch for most of the day, stuggling with spinal fluid leak issues, unable to sit upright for long....and also struggling with God as to why He was allowing this to happen again. (again)

however....this year, i am a bit stronger that i was last year. in more ways than one, i am blessed to say. so, this year i have chosen to be thankFULL. i mean it. i have chosen (and yes, friend, it is a choice) to thank my great God for a whole lotta different things. and i'm bringing you in on this deal. welcome, friend.

and you may be wondering why i am doing this the week after thanksgiving? well, that's actually one thing i am thankFULL for. my computer crashed on me last week. and yes, i am choosing to be thankful for that. we have one laptop here at our house. and last week, early one morning when i had gotten up super early with the very specific intent to write this exact blog before anyone was sweet jacob got up hours before i thought he would. all the kids had the week off for thanksgiving so i was letting them get some much needed extra sleep. (meaning they all slept in until like 8:30...those lazy bumbs!:) it is like 6:15 and in strolls my sleepy jacob and says, "mama, i wanna cuggle (our family nickname for "cuddle") with you." well, clearly i'm never gonna turn that down. especially from my six-year-old, because i am all too aware that those days are numbered with him!

so, we curled up on the couch and "cuggled" and talked and loved on each other. he started asking me questions as only jacob does. and it spurred off onto thanksgiving stuff. and he asked to see a real picture of a pilgrim and an indian. i already had my laptop on, ready to write, so i put it on our laps and googled some images for us to look at together. all was well, until apparently i clicked on something i shouldn't have. all of a sudden, lots of bad red flashing things started happening and virus warnings started going bonkers on my computer. huh!?! what in the world. i had never seen anything like this. but, i knew it wasn't good. so...i did my best to un-do what had been done. (which, with my vast computer expertise took a whopping 8 seconds) and then i began to panic. ryan was already outside....he, too wanting to get a lot done before the kids got up that day. i yelled at him and he came and looked at it. he had no idea what to do but was unwilling to spend the $50 to buy the virus protection program that my computer was flashing at me that i needed to buy. ahhh! i was in panic mode. jacob was fine, wathing diego, at this point. his thanksgiving lesson was over anyway and he had moved on. long story short, we got some virus on our laptop and our brilliant and super wonderful friend and neighbor will fix it for us, once we get an external harddrive to put ryan's itunes and my pics on soon. but, it is the end of the month and mr. budget says we aren't doing that yet. so...i was without a laptop for a few days. ahhhh!! me?? no email? no facebook? no blogging?? no downloading pics of my babies?? yikes! but, it was good for me. and i am thankFULL for it.

you see, is soooo easy to get caught up in all the drama of life. it is sooo easy to get affected by it. and i'm not going to lie to you. i was boderline sqealing at ryan at one point "for the love of God, man, if you love me at all, just buy the $50 virus protection and save my computer!!" a lot of good that did. ryan stayed calm and, after kinda blaming me (half teasing...yes, only half) for the whole deal...said that i just needed to find a way to fix it without spending the money. ugh. i did, but it wasn't pretty. and it wasn't fun. but...still...i wasted so much energy on that. i let it ruffle my feathers.

i am well aware that this is kind of a retarded example. i get that. but, friend. my last year has been FULL of true, real life, hard core examples of how life can get super intense and i could have (and often did) get caught up in it and let my circumstances ruffle my feathers. and once again, a lot of good that did. we are... the week after thanksgiving. the tryptophan from the turkey has worn off. the black friday sales are over. the cowboys lost again. (ugh.) how much time did you really spend being thankFULL?? really? did you sit down and OUT LOUD thank your God for all He has done for you since last thanksgiving. no, i'm not talking about the 2 minute prayer that was said while you were really thinking about cutting in line in front of aunt josie because she hogs the sweet potatoes. i mean it. have you been thankFULL??

you want to know the great news? God doesn't care about pilgrims and indians. i mean...He does. but, not any more that He cares about shamrocks or Easter eggs or jingle bells or fireworks. this is all our deal, people. thankFULLness is year round. yes, this time of year is special because we are supposed to stop and think. we are supposed to designate this time as such. but, if you didn't, it's all good. do it today. and the next day. and the day after that. take note of a few Truths with me...

colossians 3:15 says "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as memebers of one body you were called to peace. and be thankful."

please note that it doesn't say... "since as member of one body you were called to peace. and somewhere in the last couple weeks of november, be thankful" see? it just says, BE THANKFUL! are you? am i? let peace rule. let it reign. and be thankFULL.

i took a few minutes over the lasst week and made a little treat for a handFULL of people in my life who have gone above and beyond to serve and honor myself and my family throughout this last year. i made a little magnet with the following verse on it:

1 thess. 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

when you have been served and loved on and prayed for and encouraged and humbled as i have over these last twelve months (and more), you cannot help but want to thank them. you honeslty can't help but be thankful all the time. i am sure i've gotten a little annoying about it. (i know that is a annoying?) :) but, i have had a few people say, seriously, stop thanking me!?! nope. not going to happen! but, really, cool would it be if God felt that way?? what if we thanked Him that much? be clear...i am quite fact, i am positive, that for all He has done for us, there is no way we could thank Him enough, but oh, to have a heart to try!

now, about this verse...i have always heard that it says to give thanks IN all circumstances and not FOR all circumstances...which was comforting to me. life is tough. really bad stuff happens. painful stuff. unfair stuff. heart-wrenching stuff. stuff that i should NOT have to thank God for. and honestly, this "reasoning" i heard kinda gave me an "out" about it. that is...until the other day. in fact, it was right around the computer craashing day. my devo that morning (amazing little book title "Jesus Calling" - i love it!!!) was about thankfulness and i crept upon this verse...or maybe i should say it crept up on me...

Ephesians 5:20 "sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

ah, man. that one does say to give thanks FOR everything. shoot.

friend, i am in NO way wanting to dimish any sort of pain you have had in your life. i cannot begin to imagine the pain and grief some of you have been through. honestly, my heart breaks just imagining it and i have a very active imagination. but, at least for me...i have had to come to terms with my heart issues over this last year. no...i shouldn't "have to" go through what i'm going through. no one should. but, i am. and i shouldn't "have to" thank God for it. but, i want to. so i am going to try to. i figure that by doing this...i can only grow closer to Him. and then i can only be more like Him. truly. it can't hurt, right?

this last year has been tough. i have had so many heart-breaking moments that i do not ever want to re-live and that i wouldn't wish on my very worst enemy. but God, right here and right now, i am typing and saying this to you OUT LOUD...I THANK YOU FOR EVERY ONE OF THEM!! because i know you love me, and i know you are always good. i know you wouldn't allow one single thing to come to my life that didn't need to come to bring YOU more honor and glory. i know you are with me. i know you always will be.

friend, if you can't think of one blasted thing to thank Him for right now...i get that too. i have been there. i have sat at my very own pity party (party of one!) and sunk lower than low in my very own pit of despair as i sloshed around in my "woe-is-me" thoughts all the live long day. trust me. been there, done the ugly, faded tshirts to prove it. so...i offer you this last bit of Truth for you to dwell on and repeat to yourself until you can be reminded of all that you do have to be thankFULL for...

hebrews 12:28 says "therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverance and awe"

His kingdom cannot be shaken. wahooo!!! that is great news!! if you are a Christian then you at least have that! even if you feel like you have nothing else right now, you do have that!!

and for the rest of is not too late. stop and be thankful. for something. for someone. write a note. send a text. do something. be thankFULL. it is not too late. i know that tomorrow is december 1st. but, who cares. i know the thanksgiving food is gone, but the thankFULLness should not be.

by the way...the food should be gone, friend. if you haven't thrown it out..please go do that now. especially the cranberries. just let it go...for goodness sake, man...let. it. go. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ok...maybe i'm a mustard gal after all

so...have you ever thought something should go one, you are pretty sure it makes have planned on it...mentally prepared for it...and then WHAMMO, nope, sorry, not so much. plans change. and you are left standing there (or, in my case, lying there) saying to yourself, hey, now...what just a minute...what just happened here?

ya, that has happened a few times to me and i am sure a few times to you as well, friend.

in high school, i was kind of a popular kid. i mean, not like completely the most popular girl in school, but most people knew me. and i am pretty sure they liked me, for the most part. anyway, we had this formal event every year at my school called "legacy". it was a big deal. it was sort of a "suped up" awards ceremony. (and yes, i just spent like 5 minutes online looking up how to spell "suped up"...weird that i have never, ever spelled that word. i thought it was spelled "souped up", but hmm, what d'ya know!? now i want to eat some soup though, fyi) anyway....this was the only truly formal event for all grades, since prom was only for seniors and homecoming (see other post for more details about that:) was more casual. but not legacy, it was full out girls wearing long beaded gowns, boys in tuxedos, rolling up in limos if you could swing it, etc. it was a big deal. for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors you could be nominated for only three categories: most beautiful/handsome, class favorite and then there was the other one, i forget the name, but it was the one for the smarter kiddos (ironic that i forgot the name of that one, eh?) anyway...that was it. those were the only three categories for the non-seniors.

now, i went to pretty big school. each class had about 800 kids or so, i think. and only about 7 or 8 girls and 7 or 8 boys got nominated for each category from each class. so being nominated was a pretty big deal. and i got nominated every year. i never actually won, but i always got nominated, which was pretty cool. and then my senior year came. my popularity had wavered a bit because i wasn't partying like most everyone was at this point. but i was still in varsity athletics, honor choir, etc and overall a outgoing friendly gal, so for the most part, people liked me. anyway...legacy time came around again and i was actually excited this time because i thought maybe i could actually win. there were like 15 categories for seniors. most likely to succeed, most athletic, most courteous, i mean, name it, there was a category. and although i had never won before, i thought the odds might actually be in my favor this time around because i might have fit better into some of these other categories.

so...nomination day came around, and the way they did it, was pretty cool. well, looking back, i can see now that it was pretty cool, if you were nominated. not so much if you weren't. all nominees got a free ticket to legacy and so what happened is that the student council people came around and handed out your formal invitation to you in class. that's right, they were permitted to stop class, interrupt the teacher and say "excuse me, but i have an invitation here for ____________ to legacy" and then obviously everyone in the class would know they were nominated for something. it was pretty cool. it was. my freshman year. and my sophomore year. and my junior year. all, very cool. why? because i was nominated, that's why. so, naturally, i kinda liked the process. but there i was, my senior year...and i can't tell you what class i was in...or what i was wearing...but i can tell you what i felt. excited, when i saw the stuco kids come in. patient, as they called a couple different of my buddies names. then utterly mortified when they said, "ok, that's it, thanks." and turned and walked away. i imagine my face looked like it was in total shock. i know my few friends in there looked at me in confusion, (pity) knowing that they too, thought i might be nominated. but i wasn't. all the years when there were just three categories, sure. now, my senior year, when there were like 15 categories...nope. not so much. i felt like such a loser. this was not at all how i had pictured my senior year legacy to be. not at all.

then, sometimes it happens in waves.

fast forward almost exactly 12 years. same me. a bit older. a bit more mature. a lot fatter. :) well, i was eight months pregnant after all, with our third child. and, friend, if there is anything i am great at, it is puttin' on that baby weight. hmmm...just weight in general, really. i shouldn't limit it to baby weight, i did, after all hit some high digits in college. some go for the typical "freshman 15"...i pushed through for the "sophomore 40". hey, anything worth doin' is worth overdoin', eh? :) anyway... at this point, ryan and i have two precious little boys: jacob, age 4 1/2 and benjamin, age 2 1/2 and here we are awaiting our third little blessing. we didn't know what gender we were having, we just LOVED the surprise waaay too much. although, i will admit that ryan almost "cracked" at the sonogram, but he changed his mind. he wanted the surprise as much as i did! anyway..this had been the hardest pregnancy, by far. i had been on partial bedrest for a while now, thanks to this little darling "dropping" waaay too early and putting a WHOLE lotta pressure on my pubic bone. it was awful! i couldn't walk without awful pain! ugh! i dilated early, thinned early, all of it. but, thankfully, the little one stayed in and "cooked" as long as needed. so, here we were preparing for an induction, mainly to just put me out of my bloomin' misery. my doc had said that if i could just get to 38 weeks, then she would induce me and we'd be fine. oh, those weeks d.r.i.p.p.e.d. by like the slowest leaky faucet on the face of the planet. but, finally we got there. fiiiinallly.

now, my back had been through quite a bit of trauma in the year prior to that. viral meningitis and the awful SIX pricks for that spinal tap and then therefore two blood patch procedures to repair that damage. and yes, that is the reason i am down and out right now. same condition, just reoccurring now all over again, all this time later, again. so, before i was pregnant with this little baby, i had had major issues with my back, numbness, pain, etc. doc had suggested i call ahead and speak to the anesthesiologists and make sure they knew my history before i went in for labor. no problem. i called and spoke with a very kind doctor...told him my story....and explained all my concerns about this labor and the option of an epidural. he assured me that an epidural would be fine and nothing to worry about. whew! thank you, God!

so, march 14th came. and so did the induction. it went very smoothly at first. i had been induced with my second baby as well, so i was familiar with the whole deal. in fact, with sweet benjamin, it all went so quickly, i got to have him and then order lunch. it was great! especially since my darling first child's labor took four days. that's right, four days. and yes, jacob will hear all about that his entire life. :), here i am in very active labor and in quite a bit of pain. but, mentally i know i will be ok, because the epidural is coming. they call for the anesthesiologist on call and she comes in, looks over my chart and says "um, ya....looking over your history, i don't feel comfortable doing an epidural on you." WHAT!?!? i'm sorry. you don't feel comfortable!?! well, i don't feel comfortable right now either, but that is because i am about to push something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon(love that line from the old classic movie "look who's talking!")....and YOU can help a sister out with that!! well, apparently, no she couldn't. she wouldn't agree to do it. i was. in hard labor. freaking out with pain. and now having to come to terms with the fact that this was ONLY going to get worse. and worse. and worse. and, did.

the pain was awful. don't let anyone tell you different. i was about at the point where i was fine with them just cutting off my legs and calling it even. either that or sew me up and forget the whole thing. the kid had its chance. but then i had to push. i mean, had to! it wasn't time to, but i had to. they tried to stop me, but they couldn't. i couldn't. i don't think anything could have. and then, our miracle baby came out, and the nurse said joyfully, "it's a girl!" ryan and i looked at each other and both said simultaneously "are you sure!?!" and they held her up and we wept. flat. out. wept. we couldn't believe we had a girl. not what we had pictured. but, oh, thank you, God. but then i kept bleeding. and bleeding. they didn't know why. ryan said he'll never forget the look on the nurses faces as they rolled me off to emergency surgery. he was holding his precious little girl and afraid he was about to lose hie wife. not at all what he expected.

i ended up being ok. thank you, God. but, abigail had jaundice, somethin' fierce. so, after only a few hours of really getting to enjoy her, she had to go to NICU and stay there. what a little orange beauty she was. she slept there and stayed there. all we could do was visit and i could nurse her. that's it. even when we took her home, she had to spend three extra days in that little "baby tanning bed" and we couldn't even take her out to love on her. (yes, of course, i whispered to her that she better soak it up now cause that was the only tanning bed mommy would ever approve of!) but all of it...ALL of it, wasn't at all what we expected. not at all what we pictured in our heads. not at all.

and now, i'm kind of there again. i just heard that the mayo clinic has denied me again! again!?! really?? what is it? do i smell funny? am i not cute enough? did they find out that i didn't get nominated for legacy my senior year???

i had gotten myself all pumped up and mentally prepared to make that 15 hour drive. i had pictured it. prepared myself for what it would be like to leave my babies, go there, be poked and proded all over again. all. over. again. and now what?? they say no to me, again. not at all what i expected. not at all.

it has taken me a few days to recover from this. partly because i got bronchitis and couldn't focus much on it for a bit. partly because i didn't want to. not sure which part is bigger. well, ya i do. i am...mentally preparing myself that i don't get to be a mayo gal now. i guess that means, i gotta go for mustard. in case you haven't read any of my previous posts. i don't really care for either one, really. (see post titled "hold the mayo") but, that's ok. God is good. and in this time in my life, maybe that's what i need, is a little bit more willingness to try some mayo, and some mustard. or both. or neither. i don't know. but, i know Who does.

i am sure your life is full of times when you have thought it would go one way and then, WHAMMO, it goes the other way. some of us are wired to handle that better than others. SOOOO much of it is about our attitude, friend.

i am reading an amazing book for our home group at church right now, titled "in a pit with a lion on a snowy day" by mark batterson. it is the most random of titles, i know. but, once you read it, you get it. and lately i have been trying to focus on praising God no matter what!

trust me, i know it is not always easy. but, it is always worth it!! mark batterson wrote about how he had inherited this small group of people when he started the National Community Church in Washington D.C. and he describes his first Sunday as lead pastor. it wasn't a record setting week. well, actually, it was, but not the "good" kind of record setting. only three people made it to church that Sunday; his wife, his son, and himself. you see, that weekend was the same weekend of the awful blizzard of '96 that dumped record amounts of snow on the area. how defeating. probably not at all what he pictured in his head. not at all what he planned for, for sure. not at all. but i love what he wrote next!! "the upside of that, of course, was that we experienced a 633% growth in attendance in just ONE week, when we had 19 people show up the next weekend!"

how cool is that!?! what a great attitude to have. how many churches can say they had a 633% growth in just ONE week?!? how many churches would choose to look at it that way? or would they say, ah, man, we only had 19 people show up. hmmm??

how many of us would choose to look at it that way??

a fascinating study was done by professor vicki medvec that revealed the importance of one's subjective attitude over and above objective circumstances. she studied olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists. here's why: silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren't satisfied with silver. but, bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand!


see? how we feel isn't due to just our objective circumstances. if it were, then silver medalists would always be happier because silver is better than bronze, right? our feelings are determined by how we react to these things. how you react. how i react.

so, here i am. lying on my couch for the, who knows, how many number of days in a row now. but it doesn't matter. I AM IN CHARGE of how i will react to that. me and only me. is this how i pictured my month of november, back when i was in pain and having a hard july. nope. not at all, actually. because at least i was able to be upright in july. i thought by november i'd be much better, not worse. surely not worse.

but, i'll tell you what, friend. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!! and like mark batterson says in his book,
"maybe we should stop asking God to GET US OUT of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what HE WANTS US TO GET OUT of those difficult circumstances."

amen to that!

this isn't what i pictured. this isn't what i planned. but i trust the One who will never, ever forsake me. deut 31:8 tells us that
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." so, even if it isn't what i thought would happen, even if it isn't what i pictured. He says He'll go before me. so, i trust that. and i choose to obey what He tells me to do in 1 thess 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

so..bring on the mayo. or the mustard. who knows...i might just turn out to be a relish gal. we will just have to wait and see, my friend. wait and see. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

i've got no pearls and no lace apron

ahhh...june cleaver, the stereotypical vision of the perfect homemaker, wife, and mother. always there with the delicious, healthy, home-cooked meal, made from scratch and ready precisely on time...and always with a smile on her face, not a stain on her apron, and not a pearl out of place.

well, friend...i've got a smile. but, i've got no pearls. and i've got no lace apron.

but, man, oh man...we have swung SO far in the other direction nowadays haven't we?

well, i can honestly say that for the last year, i often haven't even felt like i've lived in my own home. i mean, ryan and i love, and i do mean LOVE where we live. but, it hasn't felt like mine in soooo long. let me try to explain.....

i have required soooo much help for soooo many things over this last year of medical drama. and don't get me wrong, we are SO beyond thankful for the help. truly. i am not sure what we would do without the amazing support of our family and friends. from cleaning our house, to doing our grocery shopping, to folding our laundry, to cooking our meals for us, to chauffeuring my kids and anywhere we have to go...we have been humbly served in the most amazing way. it has been quite a blessing. something that we can't ever be grateful enough for, and something that we very much look forward to passing along to others.

but, that's just it...all of this stuff around my house that has been done for me and not by me, has, in some ways, made my house feel less like mine and more like a home i am just visiting. i can't quite find some things that i would normally put in a certain place. my pantry isn't arranged like i am used to. there are meals i haven't been able to fix, that i miss. (ok, maybe two meals, who are we kidding, i'm not much of a cook...but, hey, i miss those two!:) even the type of cleaning supplies that we have is different. is this the absolute silliest thing you have ever heard?? i honestly do not mean to sound ungrateful, because i truly am. but, well, i am just sharing how i feel here.

i don't know about you, but i have found that when i lose something i have, especially something i take for granted...once it's gone, i miss it so much more. is this true for you too? let's just say, for instance, that you are an active, athletic type person, and you, oh, i don't know...sprain your ankle severely. (those who've known me forever are laughing because they know i've only done that like 324 times!) and all of a sudden, you desperately miss being able to run around the soccer field, jog on the treadmill, go to a step class at the gym....shoot, just being able to walk to the mailbox would be nice! but you can't. everything is different. and none of it seems good at the time. it makes you miss your mobility sooo much more than you ever appreciated it when you had it.

well, that is me right now... for the last year i haven't been able to be the homemaker...the wife...the mom...that i want so badly to be. in fact, in so many more ways that i can fully express, i haven't really felt like "me" in sooo long. it is amazing what we miss when it is gone. at this point, friend, i would LOVE to be able to to do some laundry...clean up the dishes after a meal that i made for my own all those errands i'm always hearing people complain about...even clean my bathrooms for goodness sake...all of those things i would have complained about before. maybe even some of the things you complain about now. trust me, i know, i get it. i've been there.

and let me tell you, just for the record, this is SO far from my nature, it....isn't....even...funny! to give you a bit of perspective, i will share a story, one of my husband, ryan's, favorite stories to tell, about my "infamous" laundry basket. ya see....i have never, ever.... ever been a very clean or organized person. by the way, right now, all of my past roommates, my parents, along with my super tidy and organized hubby and big brother are ALL laughing out loud and saying, "ya, you, not very clean or organized, that is the understatement of the century!" i was in college, finally out from under all of the "awful" :) weekly chores of my parent's house, and let's just say that i "let a few things go", shall we? :) i will spare you the actual details of the cleanliness of my bathroom, or really, the lack thereof, because i don't want you to lose all respect for me, but mainly because i don't want you to lose your lunch. :) but, back to my infamous laundry basket....ya see, i had the tendency to just pile....and pile...and pile dirty clothes up...and up...and up. i would literally stack them up as tall as i am, and then, when i absolutely couldn't take it anymore (which was, on average, about three weeks longer than the average 19 year old male) and i absolutely had to do laundry, i would just scoop off the top layer or so of clothes and do one load...maybe two. maybe. so...if you do this long enough, eventually, the seasons change and you don't actually need the clothes near the bottom of the pile. in fact, funny don't even miss them. :) and then, by some miraculous or maybe divine intervention (enter sarcastic, ha.) i, at the wise and completely responsible age of 20 (enter huge sarcastic ha.) received in the mail a credit card. and, get this, i didn't even have to pay it off in full every month - wow, how cool is that!? those fools, i only have to pay them $30 a month. score! uuugggh. needless to say, when the seasons would change back again and i had "nothing to wear", visa made it easier on me. darn you, visa.

so, now....enter ryan. a type-A personality, true methodical to the core, only child...who (no lie!) has underneath his bathroom cabinets organized with labeled plastic totes....first aid, travel accessories, razors, etc.....c'mon people...labels? seriously? labeled totes under the sink, gimme a break here. anyway...but he had...for some reason fallen in love with me. i swear people, i didn't drug the boy or anything, he actually picked me, and yes, even after seeing my bathroom! this is living proof that love really is blind. literally. so, before we got married, ryan kicked me out of my apartment and spent the day...yes, the day...and cleaned my half of the place, so that we...about to be wed...could get my share of the deposit back. and people, this was not a large apartment at all. and then, he braved the closet. he went in, (i was kinda scared he wouldn't come out!) and took huge black garbage bags and bagged up all my dirty clothes and we spent the day....yes, the the laundromat together. we took up 12 washers and 12 dryers. that's right, friend...twelve. i wouldn't make that up if i could. and besides...why would i? oh..and while i'm confessing...i might as well tell you that on our wedding day, i had a whopping $74 in my checking account and i owed that darn visa about $1,300 for all of my super wonderful choices. ugh. i promise, people, he picked me. and i am soooo glad he did. and i really think he still is, too, by the way. i think. :)

i tell you all of this now, only to let you know, in a small way (trust me, i could tell you story after story, unfortunately) that it is not in my "nature" to desire the things that i have now missed so greatly. i was a major tom-boy growing up. athletic, independent, outgoing, stubborn...never lady-like or girly. i didn't "play house" really. i was the baby of the family and was kinda used to entertaining people, and, well, pretty much used to getting my way. whew. all this makes you want to run right out and buy me a BFF necklace doesn't it?? ugh. is my point, friend. with all my f.o.b. time lately (see other posts for reference) i have had the blessing and opportunity to listen to some amazing teachings on cds from Christown ministries. most of their focus is based on the following Scriptures from the book of titus that i had honestly never read, ever. but as soon as i did, and heard these cds, i felt such joy because it is something that God has put on my heart in such a HUGE way, especially over this last year as i have so desperately missed being the homemaker...wife....and mom i want to be...

titus 2:4-5 "that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [to be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed."

have you ever read these verses in the second chapter of titus? verse three is really great too! it talks about how older women should be teaching younger women these things. has an older woman taught you these things? i can say that i have had older women try to teach me some of this, but i wasn't as receptive as i could have been. i am much more receptive now, let me tell you! and although i don't necessarily consider myself "older" :) - i do want to share my heart about a few things....

there is waaaay too much great stuff in these two verses for just one blog, but i do want to hit the highlights that God has been working on in my heart so strongly lately. unfortunately, if i am being truly transparent here, which i really try to be...when you read my blog, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly...i would say that if someone were to sit and describe me, i'm not sure they would say, "oooh, yes, she is lovely, she's discreet, chaste, and obedient to her husband". partly because people don't really talk like that anymore. but mainly because it is all to often not true. and as far as people using outdated language, that is just a lame excuse. i looked up some synonyms and i haven't had anyone describe me saying "she is of a sound mind, self-controlled, and curbs her own desires and impulses" either. i will honestly say that i am generally not the first to curb my own anything. in fact, i often think my ideas are good ones, they deserve to be heard, and generally, i am right. (she said, ever-so-humbly. ugh) over the years, i have become, thanks to God's help, much more self-controlled and less impulsive than i was, but i am surely still a huge work in progress. in the first years of our marriage, though, i was great at the quick-witted and harsh-hitting comebacks to ryan. if he hurt me, it hurt me deep, because i love the man so much. so, if my pain was deep, i naturally (sinfully) wanted his to be deeper. i always felt bad after wards, but that's the thing...when you are quick tempered and impulsive, there is no time for that before. but, it wasn't until i truly asked God to help me with this that i saw any real improvement in my actual behavior....and more importantly, in my heart behind it. yes, it still rears its ugly head sometimes, of course, but thankfully, it is less often.

obedient to my husband?? hmmm...also not something i ever felt much like being. i was raised in a home with a lot of rules and regulations. and whether my perception was reality or not, at that time, i didn't feel like i had much of a voice. a newlywed and in my very early twenties, i felt like i had "served my time" being told what to do and how to do it. that was over. i was a real grown up now and wouldn't be bossed around anymore. and ryan, being on his own now for years and years was somewhat set in his ways. and remember, by nature, a much more methodical and organized person. so, even his suggestions as to how things could be done around our house, i took as threatening. and boy was i quick to buck the system. again, my heart was SO not in the right place. i still struggle with this in one way or another. i take so personally when things aren't "up to par" in our home, because i feel it is a poor reflection on me not only as a homemaker, but also as a person. all of these are paths of destruction that the enemy would love for me to stay on for a loooong time. but God wants me to be on His seek Him...act like Him...serve like Him...have a heart like Him....which makes most of this resolve itself, friend. is it hard work? absolutely!! but, it is so worth it! in our society today, submission might as well be a four-letter word. (it isn't, by the way, it has 10 letters, i counted :) women are too entitled and independent to "have" to be that way. our personalities are too strong and our brains are too smart. i do not think AT ALL that God wants us to be doormats. in fact, i know He doesn't. but, girls, we are supposed to allow our husbands to lead us. i've heard it said that a home with two heads is a ugly, two-"headed" monster. scary, huh? and not at all God's design. (eph. 5:23) but, i know i need to remember, and i want you to keep in mind too before you get your panties too much in tangle, that our husbands are called to love us like Christ loved the church and be willing to lay down their lives for us. (eph. 5) so, i do think we get the better end of the deal...not that we should be comparing roles, of course. more on this great subject on a different blog....

because, really, the main point that God has been talking to me about in these verses is about being the "keeper at home". i have learned a lot about this lately and have such a huge heart to get to feel like this again in my own home. the keeper at home in titus 2 watches over her home, oversees it, cares for it, protects the heart of it, and ladies, as you know...this entails soooo many little and big details. but, oh, what a privilege we have to be able to set the atmosphere of our provide a loving place that our husbands want to hurry home from work to...that our kids want to hang out in, and for their friends to want to hang out it, too! ryan and i have always said that we want to be the house that all the kids want to hang out at. we hope to provide that. i think so many people miss the mark and think that means you just have to have the nicest "stuff". that isn't it. i believe so much of that begins with the mom and how she keeps her home. whether she works outside the home or it clean? not immaculate, friend, that isn't what i mean. i think that is virtually impossible, especially if you have children under the age of six...and definitely if you ever serve rice for dinner...ugh, can i get an amen!?. :) is there food in the pantry? is mom in a good mood? is she happy about her role in the home? or is she upset all the time? bitter about not getting to have all the "nice things" and being "stuck" with the kids all day? or is she overworked and stressed because she feels she "has to" work outside the home and she feels she can't "do it all"? some women really can handle ALL that it takes to lovingly care for her husband, and her children, and her home unto the Lord and still work outside the home....and with the right heart. i cannot. and i know that is not what God wants for me and my family.

i want to confess to you that i have, in the past, had a judgmental heart about this subject. let me explain the best i can. six years ago, ryan and i were blessed with our first child, jacob. what a joy! for us, it wasn't even an option...i was going to quit my job and be a stay at home mom. but, just so you know, i loved my job! i taught middle school math and coached as well. i felt called to do it, i felt i was gifted at it, and plus, i just enjoyed it! but now, we had this sweet baby and raising him was our priority. was this decision tough? no, making this decision wasn't tough. for us, it wasn't. there was no way we were going to put our baby in day care. and honestly, at that time i couldn't even fathom how anyone could. hence, my judgmental heart about it. God and i have talked a lot about it since then. trust me, a lot! :) and i still stand by what i've always said...if possible, i do think it is best if a mom can stay home and be with her kids as much as she can. obviously, everyone's circumstances are different and i do not ever want to hurt anyone by saying that. really, i don't. (i mean almost to a fault, because i am a pleaser. ugh.) but honestly, friend, somewhere along the line, in our society, there has become this "working mom vs. stay at home mom" battle...and wowsers, it ain't a pretty one! i am not wanting to fuel that battle, trust me. but, our enemy sure wants to, be assured of that! i heard a great phrase recently that said "you can't mandate what God's Word doesn't dictate." so true!! this just means that because it never actually says in God's Word that "the wife shalst not worketh", it is not my place to make that a rule. if i do, i am no better than the pharisees who made up their own laws for people to follow and added them onto the Bible. trust me, i do NOT want to go there, friend! it is not un-Biblical for a mom to work outside the home. just like it is not un-Biblical for your kids to date at 15 or go to public school. these are decisions for you and your spouse to make for your family. but, friend, the Bible does talk about our special role in the home and our heart about it.

in fact, i was talking recently about all of this with a sweet friend of mine who is contemplating whether she is going to stay at home with her new baby or not. i was reminiscing about how hard it was for us. now, remember, i told you that making the decision wasn't tough for us. but, i will be honest, actually living out the decision was hard for us. for some families, the husband makes bunches of money and so even if the wife stays home, they still have lotsa cashola. not for team holzberger. for us, it was a sacrifice. truly, it was. in fact, it still is! :) when we had jacob, and i quit my job, we cut our family's income by more than half. and for the record, the "half" we were left with, was ryan's teaching salary, so we weren't exactly loaded here, people. :) i was remembering and telling my friend how we never, and i mean never got to eat out (no, not even taco bell)...or buy new clothes...or go on fancy vacations....or on any vacations really....or drive nicer cars...or even drive our old cars around much because back then gas was crazy expensive...or decorate and update our house like i wished we our friends could. sometimes, i missed my job. i missed the affirmation i got there, the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment, being around the people and students i loved (this was hard for a true social like me!) but, then it hit me one day as i was attending my very own pity party (i was attending it alone, by the way...funny how no one ever joins me at those parties...hmmm, go figure.)...all of that...and i mean all of ouch. me, me, me. i was beyond blessed that God had given us this precious baby now and the very second that little guy took his first breath on this side of heaven, my calling was different. and clearly, my priorities and my heart needed to be different too. i was so very thankful for this baby and for this conviction to where my heart was wrong. but that was for me. i was being selfish about it all. i was more concerned with the "things" i felt was missing out on, instead of the many things God had given us through the blessing of staying home with our son. ouch. that hurt.

trust me, i still have my moments. when i go to other people's fancier houses or see their cars that are less than a decade old, i may have a flash of desire that my husband made more money, too. but then i remember how incredibly blessed i am to be married to a man that handles our money so very, very wisely (dave ramsey's book - "total money makeover" - go buy it!) and that we have three healthy, amazing kiddos! and besides, i always say that i've asked God not to give us one more dime that my character can handle. and friend, He has been more than faithful. :)

but, our society nowadays, i feel too many moms get trapped in the feeling that they "have" to work. like there is no possible way they could make it work without two incomes. it is almost like the concept is foreign to people now. trust me, friend. it ain't easy. we have to say no a whole lot. a whooole lot. but really, we lack for nothing that we need. and we have done it on one teacher's salary. so, it is possible. we are proof. i hope that encourages you. because our budget didn't make much sense on paper, but we chose to do without a lot. we knew what God wanted us to do and we stepped out in faith...and, friend, God has been more than faithful to us. so much more. so, if He has placed something like this on your heart, too, i encourage you to talk to your spouse about it. pray about it a lot. get others to pray with you. this is a big deal. this is the future generation you are raising here. and boy does the time fly. that sweet baby boy i quit my awesome teaching job to stay home with... he is now missing three front teeth and is away from me for seven hours a day at kindergarten. i promise i was just rocking him to sleep yesterday. it...was...just...yesterday. and i so treasure every single day i stayed home with him. i can't think of one "thing" i don't have now that i would trade for that. not. one. thing.

friend, i also feel like our society doesn't place much honor on women who choose joyfully to be homemakers or on their families that are willing to sacrifice the custom hand-scraped floors or the media room so that their children are home with mom. and like i said before, maybe it isn't as much of a sacrifice for you. maybe you can do both, stay home and have the fun extra things. if so, rock on! for the record, i love hand scraped floors and media rooms and would totally have them if we could afford it. i am not anti-hand scraped floors or media rooms, people. i'm a fan. i've probably complimented yours! :) but, again, it's just not something in the team holzberger budget right now. or anytime soon. and i am cool with that. (at least, most of the time! :) money and having "things" is not the problem, friend. it is the love of money and "things" that God has a problem with. it is putting the desire to have that stuff above what God has called you to do that is not ok. in fact, 1 timothy 6:10 says pretty clearly that it is the root of all kinds of evil. ouch. and unfortunately, in the time we live in, it is an easy trap to get caught in.

i feel there is no greater career path a mom can take than that of actually being at home and a mom to her kids. don't feel like you have to say "oh, i'm just a housewife"...sweet friend, be proud. it is a noble career. in fact, my dear sweet friend who let me borrow these cds also told me about an awesome book titled "professionalizing motherhood" by jill savage...can't wait to get it! now, of course...there are plenty of stay at home moms whose hearts need to be checked as well. mine included. are your motives right? are you truly desiring to spend quality time with your kids? or do you run all over town with your own agenda and just drag them along with you? do you really spend about as much time actually playing with your kids as you would if they were in preschool or daycare all day? do you like to just say you're a stay at home mom because you think it makes you look good? you think to yourself "yep, i'm really a great person, soooo willing to sacrifice for my family. go me!" careful, friend. careful. (just speaking from my own convicted heart here, people! been there - thought that - have the spit-up stained t-shirt) i also encourage you to do your best not to be the martyr either. don't have the "i gotta take one for the team" mentality. "oh, woe is me having to spend all day with these blasted kids every day!" guard your mind from thinking toward your spouse "oh ya, but at least you get to escape to the magical place called "grown-up-land" every day where you get to have full conversations with other grown ups, you don't have to feed anyone but yourself and you never, ever have to wipe anyone else's hiney but your own!!" again, friend..i have no idea where i've gotten all these examples of awful thoughts here. (insert sarcasm) trust me, i don't need to survey stay at home moms for this stuff. i got it covered.

sweet friend, what a JOY and a blessing to get to care for and set the heart of your home. i know it is hard and even draining sometimes...ok, most of the stinkin' time. and if you still have kids in diapers, it does literally stink most of the time. :) but, take it from someone who hasn' - - it is a blessing. and God has designed each of us girls to do just that.

you may think, "God did not design me for that, trust me!" well, i can relate to that feeling, trust me! i do not resemble anything that comes even remotely close to a distant third cousin of june cleaver. lest we forget the 12 washers and dryers, people. but i do have a heart to please God and to be the woman He describes us all to be in titus 2. and if you look at the end of this verse, the entire point of all of this is "that the Word of God be not blasphemed". friend, we, as Christians should stand out. our homes should stand out. our marriages should stand out. the way we raise our children should stand out. people should look at us and see a difference. hopefully, a huge difference! no matter whether you get your paycheck in cash and stock options, or in cheerios and finger paintings, this is how we can honor living as He calls us each to live, by acting as He calls us to, by serving as He calls us to. and for some of us, myself included, it may be a tougher road. i don't think i am "built" as well to be a super great homemaker. but, i think it would be waaaay too easy to hide behind the "i'm just not built that way" excuse. i think that, because i've done that. i encourage you not to do the same. we have no idea what we can or can't do until we try. and besides if He's called you to do it, you need to do it. end of story. He will work out the details. i love what my friend's pastor said, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!' amen! phillipians 4:13 tells us that we can do anything with the strength God gives us in Jesus! anything. and in a world that pressures us to look a certain way, own a certain size and style of home, drive a certain well-equipped van, wear a certain style of clothes...yet isn't concerned AT ALL with the motives of our hearts...can i encourage you instead to look your heart? matthew 23:26 tells us "blind pharisee! first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean". you and i have the potential to be beautiful inside, where it actually counts. we may not be right now, though. fair warning...when i truly looked inside at my heart, what i found there wasn't pretty. but, man have i been blessed by the cleaning up God has been doing. but, friend, trust me when i say He has waaay more cleaning ahead of Him than a simple 12 loads of dirty, piled up laundry. thankfully, God, like my sweet ryan, actually picked me too! and He picked you! (1 peter 2:9) my heart and your heart is really what matters. and whether you have kids or not...whether you are married or not....if you are a woman, these verses in titus 2 describe YOU! He is just working now on where He wants you to be. maybe He is working on your heart for when you will be married someday. maybe He is working on your heart for when you will someday have children...or even grandchildren. maybe you feel you didn't "do it right" the first time around with your own kids. don't worry, friend. there is nothing that our great God can't redeem. nothing. or maybe you are divorced or single and living alone in an apartment right can still be a lovely example of a Godly keeper at home. it is all about your heart. and His heart. one in the same.

so, friend...please keep me accountable. if, in a couple months, when i am all healed up and my life is a bit more back to "normal" (which i am believing, in faith, that it will be! amen!)...if i am complaining about cleaning my bathrooms or folding the piles and piles of my kid's laundry (God's sense of humor as payback for my infamous college laundry basket:)...remind me of this blog (in love, of course :) although, after sooooo much time away from being able to feel like a keeper at home...after sooo long of this void in my heart...i would like to think i would not so easily forget. in fact, i hope that i never forget the sheer emptiness i feel from not being able to be the homemaker, the wife, and the mom i want so desperately to be. oh, how i miss it, friend. what a blessing! what a noble calling!

thank you God for making our role so special! thank you for choosing us to serve in this precious way! may we wear your Name well. may we be emptied of the selfishness, love of money, envy, and pride of this world. instead, may we be filled with Your joy, peace, thankfulness, love and utter selflessness.

and may we do it all with no pearls and no lace apron needed! :)