The Art of ‘Perfection’

This morning, I saw something from my past that really brought the last couple of years of my life into a new perspective.

My TimeHop said that 4 years ago, I wrote a status that read:
“It’s not about having a ‘perfect’ relationship. It’s about finding someone who will be there through everything without giving up.”

No.  Joke.

It’s been almost 3 years since Shane and I began this crazy journey that we are on.  Sometimes, I just sit back and think about all that has happened and think “It’s only been 3 years?”  Other times, I sit back and think “That 3 years has gone by so quickly.”

I look back on all of the church events, school events, family trips, lazy evenings at home, and other events that have been such blessings in our lives.  We’ve gained friends, we’ve lost friends, we’ve changed jobs, we’ve had really positive experiences, and we’ve had some not so positive experiences.

But I keep going back to one thing; all of these experiences would have had a completely different impact if it was anyone other than Shane standing by my side.  (Side note:   None of these probably would have happened if Shane wasn’t by my side because my life would have been completely different.)

One of the most exciting things we’ve been through thus far is finding out that our family was growing by 2 little feet.  I found out back in May while Shane was in California that we were expecting a new bundle of joy!  He had his suspicions before he left but anything can happen in those early weeks!  Since he was at training, I was unable to call him so I wrote him a letter and sent him a picture of the “6 week”ultrasound to let him know that he was going to be a dad again!  We battled a lot of sickness and some health scares with this pregnancy but thankfully, through a lot of prayers, we found out at our 20 week appointment that our little BOY was strong, stubborn, and most of all; healthy.  After looking at the few ultrasounds that we have, I’ve decided that the little bugger has my nose and Shane’s mouth.  He is the cutest little thing but of course, my opinion is biased.

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We’ve also been through some not so fun stuff.  I won’t go into detail because while we were able to make our way through it, some of it is better off not shared.  But I will say this on it:

I am really glad that Shane and I have our faith to lean on when things begin to go sideways in our lives.  There has been numerous times throughout the last five months that we have been put in a position where all we could do is pray and lean on His word.  In short, the passage of
“…Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave your or forsake you.  Therefore, we may boldly say:  The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? … Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” ~Hebrews 13:5-6, 8
is nothing short true.  Man can sit and try to throw things at us to tear us apart, but in the end, we have a mighty warrior on our side who will never abandon us because of all the “junk” in our lives.

But all that being said, my relationship with Shane has not faltered.  Have we had moments of weakness?  Sure.  But never once have I questioned my decision to be with him.  The only questions I ever held were for the outside sources who thought they pulled one over on us.  He has been my rock and my supporter from day one.  We may not have the ‘perfect’ relationship to those who may look at us, but for us, I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.

The same goes for my relationship with Christ.  I am human.  There have been times/are times where I go against what He has commanded me to do and how I should live.  But He doesn’t turn his cheek on me when the going gets tough.  Instead, He stretches out his arms and loves me unconditionally no matter the bumps and bruises that I’ve gathered along the way.

In reality, no one will ever have that ‘perfect’ relationship.  There will be trials.  There will be stress.  There will be outside opinions.  But if you can look at the other person at the end of the day, take a deep breath and say “I love you” and mean every word of it, that’s when you know that you are in the ‘perfect’ relationship.

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.*

That Special Feeling.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I can’t help but notice the amount of stuffed animals, flowers, candy, and special plans that are listed out on my Facebook, Instagram, and other social media feeds.

I was going through and enjoying what I was seeing.  I am happy that people get flowers, candy, and other gifts for Valentine’s Day.  But as I was going through and seeing all this, I felt like I got hit by a bus:

If your man or woman only does special things for you or makes plans for you one day out of the year, they are failing the other 364 days.

…that means that you feel special 0.0027% of the year.

I was just having a conversation with Shane yesterday about how I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him.  That I was a failure.  That he deserved better.  It was one of those days that was looking like I was going to have a late/no lunch break.  I let him know and found out that he had planned something special for us.  Being the supportive man he is, he found a way to make it OK.  But that didn’t change the little seed of doubt that started.

I failed him.  I failed to be able to schedule the day where I was able to take a decent lunch break and allow him to carry out this plan he had…but the car business is unpredictable so we have to work around it.

But as soon as that little seed was planted, I realized not only had I failed to take a decent lunch break, I also didn’t get dishes put away from the night before, I forgot to switch over the laundry, I was distracted with getting the kids to school and the dogs outside that I didn’t get the bed made, I hadn’t swept the floor, vacuumed the rug, dusted the shelves, and I forgot to pull bread out of the freezer for supper.  As you can imagine, the list continued to grow throughout the day.

After a long night of letting my mind spin on these things, we sent the kids off to bed and sat in silence.  I apologized.  For what?

For not getting anything done while getting everything else done, for encouraging M in her speech practices while coming down on her for neglecting her responsibilities to practice before 24 hours before her first competition, for guiding M and giving him room to grow while getting upset that he’s ‘wasting time’ and ‘procrastinating’ when we need some speed in the routine, for loving Shane with everything that I have but still not being enough for him.

As I opened up to him, he just sat and listened.  No judgement, a few laughs, and a few shakes of the head.

But when he asked me if there were things that had been done that made me feel like I was good enough, it was almost overwhelming.

Yes; you planned a special dinner for us, you’ve planned an anniversary weekend event, you’ve demonstrated patience, you’ve been understanding, you built us a bed frame with your hands while I was in Texas, you’ve lost sleep to make sure I was OK, you’ve taken leaps of faith with me, you’ve supported me, you’ve blessed me with M&M, you’ve encouraged me when I’ve lost any type of luster to continue, you’ve built me up when I’ve been knocked down, you’ve allowed me to grow, you’ve loved me through every trial and tribulation, you’ve gone out of your way to make sure I’m comfortable and feeling loved, and the list can go on.

He makes me feel like this every day of the year.  I never go to bed wondering if I’m loved or cared about.  I never question if he is being honest and faithful.

So why, the day before Valentine’s, are all these women raving over feeling ‘special’?  Do you not feel loved every other day of the year?  Do you not receive the respect that you deserve from your someone special?

When it comes to love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is the ‘go to’ verse.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I once read, to know if you have the love that you deserve, replace some of the words with the name:
Shane is patient and kind; Shane does not envy or boast; Shane is not arrogant or rude. Shane does not insist on his own way; Shane is not irritable or resentful; Shane does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If you replace those words with the name and you cannot say that is 100% accurate in your life, maybe it’s time to reevaluate some things.  I’ve been in situations where every single statement was false.  I didn’t have patience or kindness, I was surrounded by envy, boastfulness, rudeness, arrogance, resistance to compromise, irritation, resentfulness, and someone who celebrated wrongs instead of doing what was right.

Women (and men too); listen to me:

You DO deserve patience and kindness and endurance.
You DO NOT deserve any type of envy or boastfulness.
You DO NOT deserve arrogance or rudeness.
You DO NOT deserve someone who is resistant to compromise.
You DO NOT deserve someone who is irritable or resentful.
You DO NOT deserve someone who rejoices in wrongs.

While I am truly elated that you have been able to receive flowers, candy, and other things, please keep in mind that you deserve more than 0.0027% happiness and love throughout the year.  You deserve to be 100% happy, 100% loved, and 100% special 100% of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Nothing But A Memory.

As I’ve gotten older, trying to find the perfect gift to buy my loved ones has become harder.  It’s also become harder for me to decide what I would like to receive as a gift.

Last night Shane and I began discussing things that we have put off for ourselves; things that would make Christmas gift ideas.  I got to thinking and my list was a pencil sharpener, a travel coffee mug, a stamped mothers ring, a hair cut, and a few other small things that just aren’t necessities.

Same with Shane.  He’s been wanting things such as a mider saw, a drill press, a chop saw, wood clamps, U-clamps, and other things that can help with woodworking crafts.

As a couple, things like a bathroom renovation, an over-the-stove microwave and a new mattress/frame for our bed that was damaged in the move became the topic of conversation.

However, since these things aren’t necessary, we put them off.  We save the money and later put it toward something for the kids, gas in the vehicles, or food on the table.

But as I’ve been sitting behind my desk at work, I can’t help but think of how greedy people have become.  We sit in our homes the last Thursday in November every year giving thanks for the things we have, the people in our lives, the experiences we had over the year, and so on.  But within 24 hours, people are standing in obnoxiously long lines chomping at the bit to get the best deals on big screen TV’s, video games, clothes, shoes, toys, home decor, and more.

Why?

Why do we feel the need to buy a large amount of gifts for those in our lives in order to celebrate a holiday that has nothing to do with material items?  So we can “buy” the love of those around us?  So we can “flaunt” the money in which we may (or may not) have had?  So that we can try to out-do one another?

As we crawled into bed, I heard Hugo walking around downstairs followed by the jingle of his tags laying down on the floor, I heard Marley curl up on his bed next to my bedside table, and I knew the kids were fast asleep.  I began thinking about the next couple of days.

One more day of work before a day off, a trip up to visit my sister and brother-in-law and parents over Thanksgiving day,  and another day of work rewarded by an annual tradition that evening.  I couldn’t help but smile a little bit.

Because through all of the hustle and bustle that has become our lives, we still strive to make memories, we still find joy in the little things going on in our lives, we strive to carry on traditions and throughout it all, actively practice our faith and give honor, praise and glory to Him for all that he has blessed us with.

We treasure the memories over the material items.  We would rather build a foundation on Him than functionality of expensive goods.

Just after having 12 hours to think it all over, straighten it all out in my cluttered little brain, I have finally finalized by Christmas wish list:

Nothing, but a memory.

That’s What It’s All About.

I’m not one who usually gives good advice.  This post is no different but I’m going to give it my best shot!

There was a young woman on here who was asking advice for a “going to be newly-wed couple”.  As I was looking through the comments and I saw things like never go to bed mad, always forgive, pray with one another, be respectful, make compromises, take advantage of the free time you have together, make memories when you can and so on.  You know, the generic advice that we see people giving newly married couples.  As good as some of this sounded, I felt like they were missing something of value.

So I prayed on it for a couple of days.

Having worked in the management position that I did, I dealt with a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people on a daily basis.  I would strive to make relationships with those people who regularly visited our store and made a conscious effort to genuinely care for how their day was going, how their boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/husband/wife was doing, how their weekend went, etc.

It wasn’t until I started noticing a pattern in couples that had dated for a while (past relationships of my own) and engagements that were ending that I found a common pattern.

To the public, everything seemed “fine” or “well”.  But was that the truth?  In my case, no.  But I felt that if I were to admit to anything different it would be a sign of weakness.  But, since I knew what wasn’t “fine” in my relationship, I could easily pick up on when other relationships weren’t “fine”… I knew the tricks to hide it all too well.

I heard over and over again “It was because HE didn’t want to (insert something he didn’t want to learn, listen to, be a part of, etc.)” or “It was because SHE didn’t take me seriously.”  Out of 6 years of working with the public, only once did I hear “It was because he didn’t love Christ as much as he loved me.”

I wish I would have had enough courage to call that out when it was happening in my own life.  Sure I had my ups and downs with my faith but at the time when I needed support and growth, I wasn’t getting it and it formed a wall.

All to often, relationships are one sided.  People are selfish and only care for what they want and if it doesn’t benefit them in some way, it doesn’t get done, said, or looked at.

So, after having prayed over this young woman’s question for a couple of days I came up with this for her advice:

It’s not about you, it’s not about him, it’s about Him.

Cryptic, right?  Well, I got artsy-fartsy the other night and made images to show:

To the public, this is how your relationship may be viewed.  You are seen as a couple that nothing can come between.  You seem happy; like you have it all!  You’ve got this all figured out… right?

Maybe to the outside.

On the inside, you see things such as disrespect, anger, evil thoughts, addictions, bad attitudes, video games, jealousy, anger, lust, temptation, use of pornography, money, greed, laziness, lies, media, little/no faith, and the list can go on and on.  Before you know it, these things that once seemed so “little” have formed a wall that is much bigger than you are, bigger than your significant other is.  It is so powerful, that it begins to tear you apart, compromise is all but in the past and there is “no saving it”.

For those who don’t have faith or haven’t found faith yet, this may seem true.  The driving forces in your relationship are so strong, the only way you feel you can fix it is by breaking it.  We’ve all been there at one point or another.

But what you don’t see (and probably can’t with the resolution of the picture) is that there is a cross right in the middle.  There are promises that were made to us by Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.  He died for our sins; so that we may be forgiven.  God has also given us the gift of eternal life through Christ.

If you put the cross at the center, all these seemingly “large” issues that were driving wedges now don’t seem so tough.

Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All that we have to do to accept Him is to put our selfish and sinful desires away, focus on Him and how we can lead better lives for Him.

From there, things in our relationships will begin to fall in place.  You will bring out the best in one another, you will begin to compliment one another, you will begin to find happiness in things that only brought you pain before, you will begin to encourage one another without saying a word.

If you don’t allow yourself to see the good in things, all good things disappear.  You become so focused on the negatives over here when there are all sorts of positives happening over there and you miss out on the good of those things.  Slowly, all of the negative drags you down and it becomes a long, slow crawl up if you don’t have help from Him.

So,

Long story short:

My advice to ANY couple; married, dating, engaged, is to stop putting yourself first, your spouse second (or even your spouse first and yourself second) and begin to put Christ first.  The rest will fall into place.

It’s not about you, it’s not about him, it’s about Him.

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?

Cross The Line.

Have you ever really sat back and thought about everything that a line can do?  It can be a barrier, it can be a way to organize things, it can cause division among things, or it can be a path to follow.

For example, the lines on the roads.  If they are followed correctly, they guide traffic safely.  However, you remove those lines, there becomes chaos.

There are figurative lines when we talk about personal boundaries.  Nobody can see them, but you know they are there.

But what about when it comes to faith?  Christ drew a line for us to follow:
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me’.” ~John 14:6 HCSB

He gave us a very black and white statement.  No one can get to the Father unless they believe in Jesus.  But this is where the line gets blurred for some people.

See, you can either be on one side of the line or the other – either you believe or you don’t – there is no grey area.

There are those believers who claim to be believers but do not show actions of a believer.  In other words they do not show Christ’s love, they do not pray for others, and/or they do not give up complete control of their lives to/for Christ.

On the other hand, you have those who are believers and show Christ’s love to the best of their Earthly ability, they pray for others – especially those who come to them in need, and they offer their whole lives to Christ.

I will not sit here and say that it is easy for me to turn over complete control of my life.  After all, who could keep up a schedule like ours if you have zero control over it?  Well, the answer is simple – He can.

I gave up complete control of my life in early 2013.  Up until then, I was one of those believers who said they believed (and I truly did) but I did not show it.  I did hide behind my faith.  I was scared to offend those around me who didn’t believe.  As soon as I gave up control of my life, He started to do some pretty amazing things.

He brought me out of an abusive relationship.  He healed my broken self into something that He could use for His glory.  He called me back into an education program that I loved.  He gave me a job offer that allowed me to escape the daily grind of a gas station.  He allowed my path to cross with a man that I had only dreamed about.  He showed me a way to share my life story, my faith story, and my heart on a public forum.  He lead us to a home church.  He has done it all.

The difference between the “new” believer in me and the “old” believer in me?  The old believer believed that Jesus was my Savior.  The new believer in me believes that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.  They key difference being the word Lord.

One of the definitions of the word Lord is “act in a superior and domineering manner towards someone”.

I have began to follow His greatest command for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” ~Matthew 22:37
He has come first and foremost in my life – even during times that I wish I could maintain control.  I cannot do it without Him.  He knows what I can handle and He knows that I need Him to help me through.

Do you hold Christ above yourself or do you feel that you come first?

We saw the line that Christ gave us – “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you have not accepted Christ and your Lord and Savior, do you feel that he is going to let you to the Father off of some excuse as to why you felt that you were superior to Christ?

When He stretched out his arms on that cross, He forgave all of our sins.  That shows us that not one person should be viewed over the other.  We are all sinners and we have all been forgiven.  So why is it that people still feel that they can control when Christ is in their lives and when he ‘doesn’t need to be there’?

Wonderful things begin to happen in life when you decide that you want to give up complete control.  Until then, His arms are still stretched open waiting for you to realize that He is the way, the truth and the life.

“No one comes to the Father Except through me.”

Which side of the line are you on?

*Blog topic credit goes to Shane.  Thanks, love!*

Warning: If I Were The Devil.

Paul Harvey released this essay back in 1965.  It’s just a little scary how accurate he was.  Never did I think that our country would be headed down the road that it is.

What are your thoughts?

*Please discuss respectfully.*

In Good Times And In Bad.

Over the last few weeks, we have been on our roller coaster of life.  We’ve had some really good times and we’ve had some not so good times.

We knew as soon as we got engaged, our lives were going to be busy busy busy for the following months, but nothing could have prepared us for this whirlwind we’ve been caught up in for the last 6 months.

We went from engaged to married in 29 days, we had events with kids come up, we had personal events come up, but nothing could have prepared us for the last two events we have experienced; which, ironically, kind of work together in a sense.

A couple of months ago, we were beginning the hunt for a new home.  The one we were in was cozy…a little too cozy.  All four of us were crammed in to a two bedroom (legally 1 bedroom), with a cat and two large dogs.  It was a single level home with a loft style upstairs and a semi-finished basement.  The bathroom was only accessed through the master bedroom.  Needless to say, our not-so-little family had outgrown the house and we were starting to feel it.

So, our search began.  We learned quickly that the housing market where we live is either one extreme or the other with little to no in-between.  You have mansion style homes that are $150,000+ or you have run down houses for $30,000-$90,000.  The few that we did see that fit our needs square footage wise failed us in the amount of rooms we needed.  So, we did what we always do in times like these; we began to pray.

I’m one of those people who knows that everything is done in God’s time, not mine, but I tend to forget that He knows when the time is best for us.  So while we were strikeing out on houses, He was planning something great for our family.

I had hit discouragement but I continued to pray.  One day after work, Shane found our “dream home” on his way to the post office.  He read the sign and read the number and recognized it as someone who attended our church.  He ran the idea past me and I immediately agreed that we needed to call on it.  From the outside, he could tell that there was more than enough room for our family with room to grow, God willing.

We met up with the owner and we were able to go in and take a look around.  We made it three rooms into the house and we both just knew that this was our home.  It was warm, it had character, it was open, and there was plenty of room for the four of us and our three fur babies.

So, we began the process of funding and finalizing closing on the house.  The process was moving quickly; as in, about 4 weeks from beginning to end fast. But, while we were giving thanks to God and enjoying the moments of pure joy, relief, and happiness, there were outsiders planting seeds of doubt in others about our family.

I thought I had heard all of the rumors about us that I could hear.  We got married shortly after our engagement because I was pregnant.  There were bouts of unfaithfulness.  But the last one we heard was nothing short of astonishing.  I won’t get into much detail but I will tell you this; it was big enough that it caused us to stumble backwards a bit and put some aspects of our lives on hold.  We had thought that all rumors had been addressed, forgiveness was expressed on the parties that were affected (or at least acceptance, healing, and moving forward), and that we were on our way to a very happy next couple of months.

I’m not sure what hurt worse, the rumor that we were approached with or the fact that some individuals who know us inside and out believed it to a point.  (Let’s be honest, if they 100% didn’t believe it, they wouldn’t have approached us the way they did and they would have been able to put the rumors to rest right then and there.)

I wrestled with the fact that this was supposed to be a time of joy, a time of Thanksgiving.  God had given us this beautiful home, but we were having a hard time enjoying it because we were so focused on clearing up rumors, helping one another through it, and trying to find a way to move forward.

After a lot (and I mean A LOT) of prayer, we have finally reached a spot where we have accepted what trials God has given us and we are trying to find the lesson within it.  The lesson I took:  There are always going to be people (no matter how friendly, how loving, how supportive, how sacrificial you are) who will always try to bring you, your family, and your happiness/satisfaction with life down to their level.  We vowed to one another that we would stand by each other in the good times and the bad times.  This marriage isn’t just for the good times.  Who would want a flawless marriage?

I’m also not one to pass judgment on the individuals who first started these rumors.  Instead, all I have to say is that I’m praying for you.  I’m praying that God will give you the courage to face whatever issues need to be faced.  I pray that He will allow you to see the truth and give you the ability to celebrate it.  I pray that He will show you love and compassion in ways that you have never felt before and that you are able to find peace in Him.

I am also not upset with those who addressed the rumors.  I’m praying for you as well.  I’m praying that God gives you a sense of clarity and understanding.  I’m praying that you are able to understand and forgive all aspects of the situation.  I am also praying that you are able to help and encourage us to heal through this situation.

But, in the mean time, I’m going to embrace my family, I’m going to take time to enjoy being a wife and a mom, and I am going to enjoy being a homeowner.  I’m going to continue to grow in His word and I am going to continue to cling to Him when times get rough.  I am grateful for all that God has given us and all that He has allowed us to see within the past year.  He has blessed me with the best.

Our first home!
Our first home!

Pray Or Be Prey

It’s been a while since I’ve last written something!  Over the last few weeks, I have found myself (once again) in the middle of this whirlwind of life.  How I was ever able to write once a day is beyond me.  The schedule of a full-time wife, full-time mom, full-time student, full-time employee, and full-time individual becomes a lot of chaos when one thing trips you up.

My absence started with a low.  I honestly can’t even tell you what triggered it but I found myself in a spot in my life where I felt like I was stuck.  I felt like I was at a place where I felt that what I had was as good as it was going to get.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m overjoyed with my life.  But something changes when you realize that there’s not much left to change – it’s the daily grind. Get up, go to work, come home, do housework, go to bed.

But, not long after I found myself at that point, I found a way to reconnect to real life – and not necessarily in a good way; but not in a bad way either.  A way that was able to grow my faith and the faith of the kids.

See, M has taken a liking to shows that deal with spiritual practices.  I’m not talking prayer and worship songs – I’m talking chants, Ouija boards, spells, etc., etc., etc.  Now, at first when it was limited to the show Super Natural, I didn’t think much of it.  But then she let it slip that her mom has taught her how to read palms – or “tell the future”.  She has also started the habit of throwing salt on her brother when he was “annoying” or “irritating” or anything of that nature.  There were also small things happening that were just throwing red flags that we needed to address and see what was going on.

Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with any of these things, I just personally do not believe in them.  I have sat down and watched shows like this and had zero issues and even done research on things like the Ouija board and other things but it was more for education or understanding than to form a belief or adapt to a practice.  However, when you are not spiritually mature and you begin to dabble in these things and you start to practice some of these rituals, you begin to open yourself up to a world that you know nothing (or very little) about.

When I heard some of these things come from M’s mouth, I was shocked.  I knew her mother is known for saying “I’m not religious; I’m spiritual.” but I never thought that she would try to push her daughter to become the same.

M&M have been raised in faith.  They have attended Sunday School and church with us, and they chose to be re-baptized since they understand what it is and what it signifies.  They are no strangers to these conversations and they know what these types of things can lead to – or at least we thought they did.  It becomes almost surreal when you see these types of things coming from a child… your child – and they don’t even realize how much it goes against what we know they believe.  How do you sit them down and tell them “This is not what Christ wants for you.” without giving them the impression that their mother is full of “it”?  (I don’t agree with her beliefs and I personally do not feel they are “right” but I cannot judge and I cannot force her to believe.  She is entitled to believe and practice what she wants)

We sat M down one night before supper and asked her a few questions.  After some discussion, we realized that what she was doing was more-so out of curiosity (because she saw it on TV) than for “practice”.  We explained to her about the dangers of opening herself up to things like that.  She began to see quite quickly that “spirits” and “angels and demons” are nothing to mess with.  She didn’t realize that what she was doing was something her mother wanted her to do; it wasn’t what she believed and what she wanted.

Ephesians 6:10-12 tells us “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in hearts.” That’s really what it has come down to.

But it’s not just M that struggles with this, it’s me too, it’s probably Shane as well.  I get so wrapped up in things going on in my life that prayer and daily readings seem to be a chore more than they seem like a pleasure.

There was a time during my valley where I wasn’t praying.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because in that moment, I didn’t know how.  But it became quite clear (and quite fast) that if I didn’t pray, I was prey.

My Armor of God became weak without prayer.  I felt myself being tested in ways that only those evil forces would test me.  They put the blinders on and make it feel like God was testing me instead.  I had become the prey of all that could be considered “evil”.  Satan knew that my armor was cracked and he managed to find a way in.  He was as sly as the fox.  My faith became a little unstable and my view of Him became foggy for a brief moment in time.  But He didn’t turn away from me.  Instead, He guided me back to where my vision became clear, my mind was put at ease, and my armor was repaired.

I never realized how much I prayed until I didn’t.  A day or two had passed where not much prayer had been said.  But, one morning, Shane woke me up about 3:30AM telling me that he was on his way out the door for work.  He leaned down for a hug and immediately I wrapped my arms around him, my hands interlocked and I began to pray “Dear Lord, thank-you for blessing me with this man.  Thank you for blessing our marriage.  Please lead us and keep us on a path that is only pleasing to you.  In your name I pray, Amen.”

It was the first heartfelt prayer I had said in 48 hours.  It happened so quickly that it almost felt as if it wasn’t me doing it.  That day was a really good day.  My head was clear and my heart wasn’t heavy.

On Sunday, we heard a sermon that revolved around the power of prayer and how everyone has a story behind them but we are forgiven by His death and resurrection.

Because of that experience, I now remind myself “Pray or be prey.” I have so much to thank Him for and have so much to be happy and excited about – He deserves ALL the glory; in prayer and in conversation/blogs/etc.

I will not be prey.

Photo Credit:  Google Images
Photo Credit: Google Images