The Paths We’ve Traveled.

As the time is ticking down, I can’t help but feel this huge rush of different emotions.  The 40 week wait is almost over!

As I was sitting in our game room talking with Shane, there was one question that I asked him:  “How the heck did we get here?!”

For those of you who know us or that have followed or story on here, you know that 4 years ago, we were both on very different paths.  Paths paved by the broken pieces of who we once were, the plans we had made for ourselves, and any type of feelings and emotions that were anything other than the feeling of being numb.  Paths that eventually led to one another but not without some hiccups in the road.

I couldn’t help but look around at everything that has happened in the last 4 years and just be humbled.

As I looked down at my fully inflated belly, I got chills.  I’m 40 weeks pregnant with a child I was told that I would possibly never have.  I’m 40 weeks pregnant with the son that I had only thought that I would get to meet in my dreams.

Then I look over at Shane who is just taking it all in.  He’s looking around at the wife he felt for so long he didn’t deserve, at the house that he’s put blood, sweat, and tears in order to make it our own, and my growing belly at another son that is soon to make his debut.

Seriously.  How the heck did we get here!?

In a sense, the answer is so simple while in the same breath so complex.  With everything that has happened, all aspects of our lives had to have been in the perfect place at the right time.  There is only one answer as to how this happened – both when we were on separate paths and on the path that we are on now.  God’s plan was bigger and the story is told with our shoes.

God’s plan for us was bigger than any called off wedding plans.  Bigger than bone scans, blood work, and x-rays.  Bigger than any doctor diagnosis based off of nothing more than ‘science’.  Bigger than the legal “one bedroom” house that we were trying to raise a family in.  Bigger than anything that we could have ever  imagined and planned for ourselves.

It’s just such an odd mix of emotions to be sitting in this chair and feeling all of these feelings: excitement, anticipation, fear, joy, nervousness, happiness, anxiousness, calm, and the list goes on.

Truth of the matter is that within the next week or so, I will have a tiny babe laying next to me.  Well, he will probably be in his bassinet or rocker and I’ll be staring down at him just in awe that my “slim chances” is laying right in front of me.

The picture of our shoes tells the story of our family.  We have a daughter who is so shy and so quiet.  But she slips on those shoes and walks across a stage and transforms into numerous characters while telling a story for judges and peers.  We have a son that puts on his drill masters and marches across football fields and performs marching shows that he has put countless hours of practice into.  I click my way across the floor at the dealership to work with my salesmen and their customers to help provide a good life for the two children we have.  Shane puts on his boots daily and labors in extreme heat, extreme cold, and everything in between to be sure that all of us are well provided for and taken care of.  Elijah’s shoes have yet to be worn.  Those shoes will soon be the cause of the pitter-patter sounds running across the floor followed by the excited squeal of a toddler running away from his hard working father, his expressive sister, or his determined brother.  It just seems so surreal…

How?!  Just, how?

God is so good.  If you give Him the chance, He works such miracles.  His plan is bigger than yours.  He will bring you places that you never thought you would go.

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I just love this picture!  Our lives have been so serious in preparation for our little guy that we needed a good laugh tonight!  ❤

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Silver Linings

Last night I got to be a part of something powerful.  In short:  Everyone has their own story, their own battle, their own speed bumps that none of us know anything about.

Obviously, right?

But think about how often you come in contact with someone and the thought “Man, they are in a bad mood today!” has crossed your mind.  What we don’t know is that they may have been up all night spending last moments with loved ones, they may be working multiple jobs to provide for their family, they may have just gotten horrible news, and the list of things that could have happened is about endless.

Last night, we had our weekly youth gathering.  It was worship night which means the kids get to be a part of fellowship, song, and prayer with one another.  But what I wasn’t expecting was what came of the prayer time last night.

We were asked to ponder things in our lives; struggles that we may be having, things that we feel blessed with, and so on.  As the music started and I began to think about my struggles, I was almost overwhelmed with what I came up with:

Patience/Acceptance
Loneliness/Abandonment (preparing for training events)
Understanding
Selfishness
Feeling unfulfilled
Stress of life
Kids Activities
Financials

 

And that is just a broad/quick glimpse at a few struggles that came across in a roughly 5 minute meditation period.  The feeling was overwhelming and the only way to let some of the “pressure out” was to shed a tear or 10.  But while the tears fell, I felt put at ease a little bit.

“The Lord is the One who will go before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Even though we get so wrapped up into what is going on here on Earth, we need not to worry.  He has our plans already made out for us and all we have to do is trust Him to get us through these times of Earthly struggles.

But where there is struggle there is also joy.  During that time of meditation, even though I felt a little beat down, I also found blessings:

Family
Career
Health
Faith
Mercy/Forgiveness/Grace
Education
Freedom
Joy in simplicity
Community/Fellowship

The silver linings to the storm clouds that hover not too far away.

I’m constantly at battle with myself to remember to not dwell on the things that I cannot change.  My need to be in control of my life often gets in my way of letting Christ take over and leading me to where I need to be.

After those few struggles were written down on a piece of paper, we were able to run them through a paper shredder.  We got to “lay them down” at Jesus’ feet.  There was a weight that was just lifted off my shoulders.

Yes, I may still struggle with some of those.  I am human.  But knowing that I don’t have to face them ‘alone’ and that there are little silver linings scattered within my life makes it an easier weight to carry.

No matter what the storms of life throw our way, He always has a plan.

*Photo credit to Google Images.*

Forgive Those Against You.

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Saying some prayers this evening for those who have figuratively nailed me or anyone within my family (my parents and sister included) to a cross.

I may have not been “in the right” but neither were they. In all situations, it takes two to reach the outcome.  It takes two to argue.  It takes two to point fingers.  But it only takes one to stand up for what is right.

It is not one-sided, it is not a blame game, it isn’t a game of wits, and it isn’t about who told the honest truth over who told the personal truth dabbed with lies.

It isn’t about who has the ability to stand up for themselves.  It’s about who has the ability to stand up for Him.

You can judge me, you can criticize me, and you can persecute me.
But then you cannot stand and call yourself a believer.  You cannot stand there and preach against one thing and act another.

“Do not repay evil with evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.  If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.
If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  For in so doing
you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” – Romans 12: 18-21 (HCSB)

I may not be (and possibly never will be) at a place where I can reconcile. It is my Christian duty to forgive others so that my Father will forgive me .

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him so that your Father in Heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.” -Mark 11:25

The Perfect Ten.

Last night, I curled up on the couch and turned on Dancing with the Stars (DWTS).  For those of you who watched it, you know how emotional the episode was.  It was “Most Memorable Years” for the celebrities.

Turn by turn, each celebrity stated their year and told their story behind it.  The top two (in my opinion) were Tamar Braxton and Bindi Irwin.

Tamar chose the year 2012.  She was taking a vacation with her husband, Vince, when he started to complain about not feeling well.  They ended up in a New York emergency room where they found out that he had multiple blood clots in his lungs.  They put him in an induced a coma for 40 days and Tamar stayed with him the whole time.

One thought that Tamar expressed is that she wasn’t sure how she would be able to live without the love of her life should he not pull through.  She then stated “I will forever be grateful because I don’t even know what I did in my life to be blessed this much.”

She hit the nail on the head!

There are times where I will just sit and stare at Shane and begin to think of all the memories we have made and all of the memories we have yet to make.  There isn’t a day where I don’t thank God for giving me the gift of a husband and the kids.  I would be devastated if something were happen to any of them that would be life threatening.

Then, the last dance of the night was Bindi.  Thank goodness she was last because I don’t know if I’ve ever cried so much watching a segment of a show.

The year that Bindi chose was 2006; the year that her father, Steve Irwin, passed away.  She was only 8 when he passed away but she showed such strength and support for those around her.  She was able to use her fathers death as a way to prove how short and how precious life is.  This dance that was so filled with high emotions earned her the first 10 of the season!

So, being the “thinker” that I am, I turned to Shane and asked what his most memorable year was.  I was thinking something along the lines of the years that the kids were born, the year he was sworn into the military, or even the year that he defended our freedom.  To my surprise, he said “The one we are currently in.  Look how much has happened!”  Well, he’s right.  So far, from October 2014-October 2015 we have gotten engaged, got married, redid the kitchen in our rental home, celebrated gains, mourned losses, bought our first home, took a vacation, and celebrated our marriage with family and friends.

But then after he shared his, I got to thinking, I can’t even narrow down to my most memorable year because I have memorable years.

To begin, 2007.  Yes, you read that right.   I was 17 and a junior in high school.  I went through some trying times and learned quickly that the “All-Knowing” teenager really wasn’t all that knowing…about anything.  After some counseling and a decision to become a born again Christian, I began to turn my life around.

2012.  I entered my first engagement.  At the time, it was a very exciting time for me.  But, looking back, my heart wasn’t in the right place and we were in a relationship where we did not bring out the best in each other.  In fact, it was quite the opposite – I sacrificed a lot of my hobbies and my wants to satisfy his addictions and needs.  Which, at the time, didn’t seem like a big deal.  But paying $15 per month for a game where you have to spend a minimum of an hour to even start advancing started taking it’s toll on my pocket book as well as my health, my job, and my relationship with him.  There were also times where there were situations that were not handled with respect and care when they should have been.  “Be slow to speak” has never been more true.

2013.  I ended the engagement with less than 4 weeks to go until the wedding.  What drove me to that point?  Well, him taking a job 2 1/2 hours away from where I was working and moving away.  I had a lot of time to sit and think about who I was and what I enjoyed to do with my time.  Being with him wasn’t what I saw in my future.  I didn’t want to be in a big city (remember, farm raised.  I don’t do well with city traffic or congested housing), I didn’t see myself working at a high end retailer, bank, or high end anything for that matter.

I spent 3 months doing a lot of soul searching, a lot of praying, and a lot of recovering.  I had been praying to God to send me a sign that I was on the right path or to show me what I could have if I continued to follow Him.  In November 2013, He showed me who my husband was going to be.

2014.  I began to take a journey with Shane.  We only stepped foot onto a path pleasing to God knowing that we were both ready, that we both had the same end goal in mind, and that we would hold each other accountable to the other as well as to Christ.  We began supporting one another and walking alongside one another while still trying to uphold our morals and values that we held so close.

2015.  I got engaged to and married my soul mate, my best friend, I inherited 2 children who have been such blessings.  We were able to find a home that fit perfectly every need that we had.  We’ve enjoyed being a family and experiencing things that we both once only dreamed of.

Each of these years had a significant hand in molding me to who I have become today.  Each year being a stepping stone to prepare me for the next.

Like Tamar had stated, I’m not sure I will ever know what I did so right in my life (when I felt like all I was doing was wrong) that lead me to being so blessed.

In my opinion, the Judge ruled, and gave me the perfect 10.

But no matter what we go through or what we experience, I will give thanks to the One who made it all possible.  And much like the dancers on DWTS take the judges comments as things to improve on over the next week, I can take what He has shown us we need to improve on and strive to better please Him.  I will never be His perfect 10 because I am human and I have a sinful nature.  No one will be able to be His perfect 10; there is not one person without sin.

Life is truly precious and we need to embrace all that He has done for us and begin living for Him instead of living for ourselves.  He truly does wonderful things when He is put first in your life.

What year(s) do you feel were your most memorable?

Give It Up.

Dear Lord,

Today, I am lifting up to you those individuals who are suffering in different aspects in their life.  I ask that you be our comforter in our time of need.

It’s during times like these that we are impaled with thorns and it feels like we will never fully heal.  It feels like day after day, we get stuck with a thorn.  However, you bore the cross wearing a crown of thorns.  You suffered greater pain than we ever will in this lifetime and for that we are grateful.  You wore that crown so that you could withhold the thorns in our life.

Even though we may be suffering loss, your loss was greater.  You gave your life so that we may live a life full of unfailing love and forgiveness through you.  You will give us a new life within you; one where pain and suffering does not exist.

Grant us the strength and courage to throw ourselves upon your mercy and give up our sufferings to you.  You know how much we can handle and you allow us to unite the rest with the sufferings that you have endured.

Allow us to trust in you no matter what suffering may come our way.

In your name we pray,
Amen.

You Can’t Take It With You.

The saying “You can’t take it with you when you go” has more truth to it than we know.  I’m not sure about you, but every time I have heard that saying, I think of it in a “here and now” sense.  I can buy this or that, but if I move, there may be a chance I can’t take it with me.

Last night, I had a whole new spin to this saying put into my head.  See, my husband (Shane), our friends Katelyn and Ryn, and I attended a concert last evening.  We were able to see John Tibbs, Finding Favour, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys.  (Which, it was AMAZING and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about it off and on throughout the week because the amount of content we got is a lot to process!)

While each artist had a touching story of demonstrations of Christ’s love within their life (which I will go into throughout the week as I do my postings), there was something that grabbed me during the Newsboys.  Michael Tait (the lead singer) was speaking to the sold-out crowd.  He was commenting about how it is just so easy for us to collect things.  Things like clothes, homes, cars, toys, collectables, animals, money.  Just about anything that you can imagine (aside from necessities), we tend to have more than we need.

But what do those material items mean in this life?  Social status?  Risen self-esteem?  An act of jealousy or anger?  An attempt to “one-up” your neighbor?  But what good do these things do us in our next life?  You know, the new life that we are given when we die.

It tells us in Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” and in 1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”  But, what does that really mean to us?

It means that even though we do not try, we put things, money, and social status above God and He does not want that from us.  I’m guilty of doing this even just this past week.  On my birthday, I tried to buy a good mood.  I went to ShopKo, I bought myself a new shirt and some other things for around the house and tried to buy my way into a good day.  I would almost bet majority of you have done that at one point or another.  Retail therapy sound familiar?

It is almost in that moment that we hand over the cash or swipe the card that we are telling God “I’m sorry but you just aren’t good enough.  I need to buy my happiness.”

I’ve never once intended to put God beneath the material items in this life, but it happens…even when I don’t want it to.

Michael then told us “I’ve never seen a U-Haul hooked up behind a hearse.”  That’s when I realized the “You can’t take it with you when you go” went so much deeper than just this Earthly life.  Our time on Earth is limited.  We all have a timer that is counting down to when we are eligible to begin our new life in Him.  Why should we waste our lives spending money on things that are of no value outside of this life?

Then Michael made this comment: “Instead of collecting things, we need to collect people.”  AMEN!  We need to stop buying our forgiveness from people, stop buying our social status, stop trying to be greater than our neighbor.  We just need to stop.  Instead, we need to show love towards people.  We need demonstrate patience, kindness, understanding and mercy towards others.  That is how we can show the love of God without being overwhelming, aggressive, and what others could consider as rude.

I for one will admit that I am not the best with this.  I would rather stay in my quiet little shell.  But, being in a room with 4,000+ other believers and feeling the power in there made me feel a new sense of boldness, a sense of strength, and a sense of desire to do this for Him, not for me.

It was during that concert, I felt the need to reach out to a friend who is struggling.  She has been struggling over the past month or so.  I know how not fun those challenging times are, and even though I felt like nothing anyone could say was going to help me, I felt like I could help her.  I felt that in those few moments, she needed to know that God was there for her.  I sent her a 10 second clip of 4,000+ people singing “It’s all God’s children singing glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns, He reigns.”  He does reign and I”Hey, I’ve got this.  I have you in my hands.  You are loved.”

Blake NeeSmith of Finding Favour couldn’t have said it better when he said “You are loved.  You are worthy.  You are enough.”

Are you satisfied with the things you can bring with you when you go or do they need some work?  I’m looking for form a prayer team, even if it is just on WordPress.  I want you all to hold me accountable for reaching out and showing others the love that Christ has for us!

It’s More Fun Than Expected.

One thing that everyone takes for granted at one point or another is time.  Perfect example; you probably noticed (or you didn’t) that I didn’t post on Saturday.  Instead, I spent the morning attending my daughters spelling bee (or at least driving there.  She didn’t get past the written round), working out in the yard, getting my homework caught up, planting my garden/re-seeding my herbs, and spending some one-on-one time with my husband.

The day just seemed to fly by and it wasn’t until we were on our way to Sioux Falls that I realized I hadn’t made a post.  But, that wasn’t the time to do it.  I was on a date with my husband and the last thing that I needed to do was stick my nose in my phone and write a post.

The only time I touched my phone was to take pictures when we were at the sports complex playing Glow Golf.  Other than that, I did not communicate with anyone other than my husband and the employees of the businesses that we visited.

I got messages like “Why are you ignoring me?”  “Are you mad?”  “How did I upset you?”  None of these were the case.  I was putting effort into keeping my marriage a happy marriage and supporting my husband.  Because, believe it or not, he needs me just as much as I need him.

Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.”  Christ didn’t just do enough work to get by.  He pursued His people and sought them out because He loved them.  This verse points at the husbands and that they are supposed to love their wives in this way, but it’s not just the husbands.  Wives, it’s us too.

Pursue your husband the way you did when you were first dating.  Those stolen glances, the flirty eyes, the little giggles, the sweaty palms when you held their hand for the first time, and the butterflies in your stomach.  Leave little notes for one another, take date nights just the two of you and leave the phones at home or in the car.

It is all too easy for the outside world to get in the way of marriages now.  Not only do we have those men and women who are so unhappy in their relationships that they set out to ruin others, we have technology.  Literally anything can be at our fingertips in a matter of seconds.  Pornography, a conversation with an ex, a flirty conversation with someone other than your spouse, pictures of other people who you lust after.  We also have other forms of technology that are just as invasive.  Video games, computer games, online gambling, television series, etc.  The list of things that can invade a marriage are endless.

But it isn’t just technology and unfaithfulness either.  It’s kids too.  You get so busy running and scurrying that soon one day turns into six days and you can’t remember the last time you had an actual conversation with your spouse.

As soon as one of those things works it way in, it is hard to maintain the level of communication and the amount of dedication that our spouse needs.  We would rather sit down and zone out to the latest episode of Revenge/Grey’s Anatomy/Dancing With The Stars/The Walking Dead or sit down and indulge ourselves in our computer/video game until we reach the next level…or the next….or the next.  We then lose track of time and it’s time to head to bed and you don’t even know how your husband or wife’s day at work went, how their doctor’s appointment went, what they spent most of the day thinking about, etc.

I’m guilty for sitting down in front of the TV for a couple of hours without muttering more than 7 words at Shane.  But, he will sit next to me, he will rub my feet or hold my hand, and he will just be there.  Sometimes, that’s all I need.  I’m not good at communicating how I feel most of the time, or offering suggestions as to how it can be fixed.  My head spins on things that it shouldn’t and it ruins my day and I spend the next 2-3 days picking myself up out of the dumps.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to communicate these things.

I’m also guilty for jumping to my phone when I hear a game notification, an e-mail, a call, a text, or a Facebook chime come through.  I’ve told countless friends that I will be there for them whenever they need me, and I have been and will continue to be.  But I also need to keep in mind that my family comes first.  My family needs me and they can’t have me when I let these things get in the middle of us.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me that their marriage “isn’t as fun as they expected.”  Let me ask you this, when was the last time you had a date with your husband?  When was the last time you put down the phone, turned off the electronics, and had a meaningful conversation?  When was the last time you listened to what your husband had to say and offered advice or support or vice versa?

To be honest, my marriage is more fun that I expected.  Did I expect to fight all the time?  No.  But I was always warned on how it takes a lot of work and it’s exhausting and it’s a full-time job.  Yes, it is a full-time job; there is laundry to be done, bills to be paid, dishes to be caught up, dusting that has been neglected for weeks, floors that are disgusting, mouths to be fed and treats that need to be baked.  That doesn’t include the yard work that needs to be done, the basement that needs cleaning, concerts and sporting events that need attending, the dogs that need to be fed and walked, the cat that needs to be fed, and the flower garden that needs weeding.

But it’s fun.  We find a way to enjoy these things together. We’ve turned bills into a lesson about money for the kids.  We’ve created meals out of random foods in the kitchen.  We’ve found enough stuff in half the basement to hold a healthy garage sale.  We cuddle with the dogs before bed.  We plant, dig, rake, and tend to the outdoor things together.  We compete to see who can tend to the dishes or the laundry first so that the other doesn’t have to do it.  Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

I realize that you need your friends as well, but you married your spouse, you didn’t marry your friends.  Marriage takes work.  A lot of work.  But how can we put work into something if we are always putting distractions and addictions before our husbands or wives?

Not only do we have to work with our spouse, we have to work with the Lord as well.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

It was refreshing to get out and disconnect from the world for a few hours.  I got my behind handed to me in Glow Golf and we ate super unhealthy burgers that fixed our (my) burger and fries craving.  But we were spending quality time together and we were able to work on our marriage while having fun.  We talked about faith, we talked about friends, we picked on each other, we talked about family, we watched people in Sioux Falls, we relaxed.  Together.  We probably even prayed together without realizing we were probably doing it together.

Marriage is all what you make it.  What have you made yours?

By Your Side.

This past week I was fighting a hard battle.  I was having some vicious spiritual and emotional battles going on.  I was barely functioning for a week.  Everything was a challenge.  I was trying to sift through issues and tackle them one at a time but I could only do so much.  However, I was fighting to turn them over to God; even though I hammer it over and over again in my posts.

I had hit a point later in the week (Thursday or Fridayish) where I was so frustrated and beaten down that all I could do was cry.  I felt like I had failed my husband, the kids, myself and especially God.  I had fallen behind in school work, house work, and other general responsibilities.  Sunday came and I felt like church is exactly what I needed to “reset” my struggles.

I sobbed during church.  I couldn’t even sing a full song without bursting into uncontrollable tears.  It felt like every song we sang was directed towards me or the battles I had fought the past week.  I felt like God was doing some work in me, but why was it so hard to let go?  It got to the point where I had to actually leave church, gather myself, and then come back in.  I physically couldn’t stop the crying no matter how hard I tried.

This is one of the songs that we sang.  It was definitely the hardest to maintain my composure (HA!  More like black streaked face the entire song!)
I love this song and it is so true!

He was by my side through all my struggles, but Satan was battling back and made me feel like I was going at it alone.  There was not one point where I was alone, spiritually or physically.  God wanted me to stop fighting but I felt like all I could do was fight; fight to keep Satan out as best as I could.

He loves us and He is there for us.  We don’t need to fight alone; He’s fighting for us and with us.

Break Free.

Dear Lord,

I come to you on behalf of those who cannot find the strength, those who are struggling to find the courage, or those who are struggling to find the words.

There are people in this world that are struggling with addiction.  There are so many different avenues for this wicked disease to take and it may take victims by surprise.  For some, it has a strong hold and they cannot break free.

We pray that you are able to come into their lives and be able to help heal them.  We pray that you are also able to show them your light so that they may come to know you and understand all of the wonders that you have done for us.

Give them hope as they may struggle with sobriety and the challenges that come with beating addiction.  Give them strength in moments when they may be fearful, experiencing grief, having anxieties, or become resentful.

Allow them to hear your call and to follow your way, Oh Lord.  Fill their hearts with your word for your word is life.

In your name I pray,

Amen.

The Never-Ending Hug.

One of my friends posted this picture yesterday and I couldn’t pass it up.

This picture speaks volumes.  Therefore, this blog is going to be super short.

I am so thrilled that I was able to return to my faith and finally see and feel what God was doing in me and in the lives of people around me.

I am thankful that He overcame death so that he could forgive every wrong that I have ever done and that I will ever do.

He speaks to us through His word and shows us that He is there for us every step of the way.  We just have to trust Him and allow Him to take us into His arms to show us the way.