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!  ❤

The Three Loves

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this evening, I ran across a post that really hit close to home.  It was someone who had recently ended her relationship with her fiance.  It wasn’t so much that she called her engagement off within months of their wedding; it was the link to a post that she put with her public apology.

The link was to a blog post titled “We Only Fall In Love With 3 People In Our Lifetime – Each One For A Specific Reason.”  Some of the things that were stated in there were absolutely true!  If you don’t follow the link above, please take the time to read the excerpt that I have placed below.  It’s seriously worth the time to read it!

“It’s been said that we really only fall in love with three people in our lifetime.  Yet, it’s also believed that we need each of these loves for a different reason.  
Often our first is when we are young, in high school even. It’s the idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairy tales we read as children.  This is the love that appeals to what we should be doing for society’s sake—and probably our families. We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.  It’s a love that looks right.
The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation.
We think we are making different choices than our first, but in reality we are still making choices out of the need to learn lessons—but we hang on. Our second love can become a cycle, oftentimes one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than before. Yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.
Sometimes it’s unhealthy, unbalanced or narcissistic even. There may be emotional, mental or even physical abuse or manipulation—most likely there will be high levels of drama. This is exactly what keeps us addicted to this story-line, because it’s the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.
With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should.  It’s the love that we wished was right.
And the third is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes so easy it doesn’t seem possible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.
This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are.  We are just simply accepted for who we are already—and it shakes to our core.
It isn’t what we envisioned our love would look like, nor does it abide by the rules that we had hoped to play it safe by. But still it shatters our preconceived notions and shows us that love doesn’t have to be how we thought in order to be true.
This is the love that keeps knocking on our door regardless of how long it takes us to answer.  It’s the love that just feels right.
…There may be those people who fall in love once and find it passionately lasts until their last breath. Those faded and worn pictures of our grandparents who seemed just as in love as they walked hand-in-hand at age 80 as they did in their wedding picture—the kind that leaves us wondering if we really know how to love at all.  Someone once told me they are the lucky ones, and perhaps they are.  
But I kinda think that those who make it to their third love are really the lucky ones.  They are the ones who are tired of having to try and whose broken hearts lay beating in front of them wondering if there is just something inherently wrong with how they love.
Just because it has never worked out before doesn’t mean that it won’t work out now.”

I can safely say, I’ve experienced all three of these.  As I was reading, all of these little flashes from my past came back and made me realize that yes, there are lessons to be learned in all sorts of love…and the pain that comes with it.

The one that caught my attention was the second love.  Oh, second love.  This is where my heart goes out to this young lady who posted her public apology tonight, because at one point, I was in her shoes.

I can’t speak for her relationship, so I won’t.  But I will speak for what mine was.  It was unhealthy.  It was unbalanced.  It was narcissistic.  It was an emotional rollercoaster.  There was manipulation.

Even though it was all these things, I never once viewed myself as a “junkie” that was addicted to it.  But in a sense, I guess I was.  I had put myself in a position where I had spiraled so far down from where I was, I couldn’t find a way out.  My only glimpse of “me” were those extreme highs.  But the number of highs slowly started to be out numbered by the extreme lows.

Much like this particular young woman, I was engaged.  I was actually a month away from “the big day” when I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I was tired of the tears, I was tired of the fights, and I was tired of feeling like I was lost.  He is a good person for the right person, he just was not good for me.

But never throughout the process did I ever feel like I owed anyone other than him and my family an explanation.  Because in the end, it wasn’t anyone elses life to live… it was mine.  And no amount of “I’m sorry for…” was going to soothe the curiosity that pulsed through my social media accounts, job, and friends.

About the time my third love came around, I was sitting in an office chair in a gas station looking at all of the shattered pieces of my heart trying to decide where I was to go now.  I let the tears fall and the prayers rise up.  I wasn’t ready for a relationship and I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship, but I asked God to just give me a sign that there was someone out there for me.  Someone who was going to love me for who I was; broken pieces and all.  Love literally knocked on that office door that day.

Even though we both felt it (literally) in that moment, I knew I wasn’t ready and I’m sure he wasn’t ready for me at that time either.  But, that was the defining moment that started to made my world spin again.  It took a knock on the door, one turned down date, a returned telephone number, and a leap of faith to get us to where we are now:  married for almost 2 years, a house, and a baby on the way.

Do I wish that my fairytale would have been much like those stories you hear about high-school sweethearts?  No.  Because it literally took an experience with each one of those types of love to get me to where I needed to be to begin my relationship with Shane.  I’m glad him and I have had the personal struggles we have had and  I’m glad that we’ve learned from past experiences.

All in all, it doesn’t matter how you get to your fairytale ending.  Let your story write itself.  But ladies: please, please, please do not ever feel like you owe anyone an apology for taking steps in a direction that may lead you to your third love.  You are stronger than that.  You are worth more than that.

You will love again, I promise.  That love will be the love that will make you forget all of the hurt, the pain, and the struggles that it took to get you there.  But you won’t be able to forget the lessons learned through all of the struggles, hurt, and pain.

Take that leap of faith.

Find that “fairytale” love.

If he left you beaten down and broken, just know there is someone out there who is able to pick you up and put you back together.

I can say that with confidence because:  been there, done that.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer:  I did get permission from the young lady to include a portion of her story.  I would never use someone else’s personal life without their consent.  ❤ *

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

I am in Love with Another Man and My Husband Knows It.

I am in love with another man and my husband knows it. Not only does he know it, it is the best thing for our relationship. It is the best thing for [our children]. It is the best thing for my soul.

I am in love with an outlaw. His name is hated, he is shut out, abandoned, left to himself. Governments set out to hide him, to lock him away, to keep his influence from taking over their people.

He is dangerous but he is to be trusted. He roams, but he is safety. Outlawed, but can not be hidden. Despised and rejected, but gives his all. He can not be understood, but he is the answer.

I am in love with another man, I can’t keep my mind off of him. When my heart aches, when all this world has to offer is not enough, he is my soul’s satisfaction.

If I did not have Jesus, my marriage would have fallen apart long ago. If I was not totally enthralled with my Lord, then I would have nothing of benefit to teach my [children]. If my God was not all consuming, then there is no need for me here in this Earth.

Oh Jesus, I am wholly, completely in love with you!

Originally blogged on:
Beautiful Life With Cancer

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!

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.

Rebuilding.

Heavenly Father,

We live in a world where it is all too easy to become the center of attention; even if we don’t want it.  There are situations on the Earth that happen and we don’t understand why.

In those times, it may feel like we want to just give up.  We become so overwhelmed with human emotion that we reach a point where we can no longer carry ourselves.  We ask that in those moments, you are there to help carry us.

Your gentle hand gives us a breath of fresh air and helps us keep focus on you and your wondrous works.  You offer us solutions and help us adapt to the changes in our lives or our surroundings.

You offer us a sense of peace in the midst of chaos.  We have breakthroughs instead of breakdowns.  You heal us just when we feel as if we have been completely broken.

Today, I lift one particular family up to you in our prayers.  For you know how broken-down and weary they are.  I just ask that you continue to do your work in them as they continue this difficult journey that they are on.  Offer them guidance and clarity on the struggles that they are facing.  Continue to give them faith not only in You, but in themselves as well as each other.  Do not let them give up; carry them.  Turn their foundation from cracked and crumbled limestone into a foundation held sturdy with you as the cornerstone.

Give the members of this community the strength to not slander when they do not know the struggles.  You tell us in 1 Peter to build up one another instead of knocking each other down.  Help us to build up this family instead of knocking them down with words and actions.  If you are for us, who can be against?

Lord, we ask that you continue to give us direction and the strength to continue down paths that are pleasing to you.

In your name we pray,

Amen.