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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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.

STOP! In The Name Of Love.

I love going to church on Sundays.  It’s like a “reset” button for the upcoming week.  The church family is so supportive and so amazing, just a simple hug from someone when you walk through the door can change your mood instantly – even if you are in a good mood.  Then you have the Pastor.  I have yet to hear a sermon that doesn’t feel like is directed towards Shane and I; our marriage, our relationship with the kids, our relationship with God, etc.  Not only does it reset the week, it usually gives me ammunition for my Motivation Monday posts.

Yesterday was no different.  So Pastor Steve, if you are reading this, I’m sorry but your topic yesterday was too good not to repeat and expand on!

Love.

It’s something that doesn’t get talked about often because it’s too “mushy” or too “over stated.”  While that may be true to a sense (Valentine’s Day, high school relationships, etc.), we tend to forget that it still needs to be acknowledged.

How do we, as a typical human, define love?  Is it the flirty eyes, sly grins and stolen glances when the other isn’t looking?  Is it flushed cheeks, sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach?  Is it material items and good works?

Sure, all of those may be linked to “love” but 1 Corinthians 12:4-8 tells us that love is more than just those feelings.  It is patient, it is kind, it is not envious, it is not boastful, it is not proud or rude, it is not selfish, it is not provoked.  Love does not keep a record of wrongs but it rejoices with truth.  Love trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails.  Yes.  Love takes work.  It takes effort.  But most of all, it takes commitment.

Being “in love” may seem effortless for the time being but think about all that you do for one another.  My marriage, for example, we’ve almost made it a competition to see who can get what done first.  This can be anything from washing the dishes to raking up the dog poop and everything in between.  (Sorry honey, I did kind of leave the stock yard to you.. yuck!) But it doesn’t just stop there, we cook for each other, we pray for each other, we read the Bible together, we try to make time for weekly date nights, we surround ourselves with positive people, we play with the dogs, we can be talking nonsense one minute and then be having a serious conversation the next.  We aren’t afraid to hash out tough subjects; finances, home improvements, contracts, bills, discipline/consequences for M&M.

But what were to happen if we just stopped?  Stopped doing things for one another and only did things that benefit ourselves?  What if he stopped waking me up for early coffee?  What if I stopped spending my mornings tying up loose ends around the house in between homework assignments?  What if we stopped praying for each other?

It’s scary to think about.

One of the things that we will both admit we are bad at is being able to STOP the busyness of our lives.  Not often to we actually take an evening and just sit around, not often do we lay in bed beyond 5:30-6:00 AM, not often do we spend a “lazy day” just lounging on the couch in our pajamas vegged out in front of the TV.

Instead of that, we are running to Bible studies, running kids to youth groups, running to school meetings, running to school events, running to sporting events, running errands, doing little things in the house or in the garage — it’s never-ending scurrying around our house.  I bet if you were to throw mice in a maze and let them run, that’s what we look like from birds eye view.

Even though we try to make time for a date night for the week, sometimes it just doesn’t happen.  But, we need to make a conscious effort to make time for one another.  I was reminded this last week in church that sometimes, life just gets away on you and suddenly a few hours turns into days, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and all of a sudden, you start to wonder when the last time you and your husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend) got time to yourselves.

Without time for yourselves, you forget about patience for one another, you stop treating each other with kindness, you become jealous of the little things and you become rude; selfish.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You begin to keep record of wrong doings and forgiveness becomes hard.  It is in those moments that we possess all of the qualities that love should not be.

But, as I’ve said before, we are all humans; we all fall short.

Pastor Steve’s sermon on Sunday provided our church family with 3 resolutions to fix ruts.  Here are the three he offered us:
1.) Forgive Each Other:
Deal with the anger in a timely manner.  Don’t let a small issue turn into a larger issue.  We already have enough temptation here on Earth, we don’t need to give Satan anymore reason to get more of a grip on us; and having bitterness towards our spouse does that.  We need to have humility.  It’s ok to get upset, hurt, angry, etc.  But take the time to sit down, work it out, apologize and forgive so that you are able to grow together and continue moving forward together.

2.) Pursue Each Other
Are you familiar with the love languages?  They are words of affirmation, acts of service, giving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.  (Read more about them here.)  By recognizing which one of these your spouse possesses, you are able to cater to their wants and their needs.

3.) Enjoy Each Other
Take delight in the things that you do with each other; even if it is household chores.  We need to stop living on the go and take time to “stop and smell the roses.”

Our marriages should be pointing towards Christ.  Our earthly relationship cannot succeed if our spiritual relationship isn’t succeeding.

“But Liz, what do you mean?  I don’t regularly worship, pray or anything and my relationship(s) is/are just fine.”

Yes.  I didn’t say your relationship was failed/failing.  It cannot be 100% – nothing ever can be; there is always room for improvement.  At one point, I was in those shoes.  I wasn’t attending church regularly, I never read the Bible unless it was for church or if it was on my own time when I was looking for something.  My relationships (I thought) were fine.  But looking back, I struggled.  I struggled to stay patient, understanding, kind, and forgiving.  I was irritated majority of the time I was awake.  As soon as I began to pray and I began to dig into the word, I realized exactly how much I was struggling.

Maybe that’s part of why my first engagement failed.

Either way, with our marriages pointing towards Christ.  That means we have 3 ways to repair the rut that we may be in with Christ:
1.) Forgive Him
2.) Pursue Him
3.) Enjoy Him

So, for your motivation this week; I encourage/ask each of you to pray a minimum of once this week.  Doesn’t have to be out loud and it doesn’t have to be this flamboyant thing either.  Just lift up whatever is on your heart; good or bad.  I also want you to take note how you feel before and after – what changed, if anything?

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or through a message.

**Reminder:  I’m still taking questions for my Fun Friday post!  If you want to know what that includes, you can see my list in this blog.**

With This Ring, I Marry You.

Well, we made it!  Shane and I got married!

It was a beautiful ceremony.  It was very small and so full of love and devotion.  We had our immediate family there as well as a couple of close friends.  We wanted to keep it small because we do not feel that by having a big wedding, we are benefiting anyone.  The results of the small wedding are more than we could have ever imagined!

We had Pastor Steve conduct our service and asked for him to tell a little bit of our story during his sermon so that we could (hopefully) reach out to someone within our families.  Now, I know that comment sounds rude but there are many reasons why we were hoping to minster to certain individuals within our family.

I’m not going to say who we were hoping to reach, but we reached both of them, plus another!  See, someone in my family had completely turned against me.  She had not acted like family since the middle of our relationship and had pulled a “mightier am I” attitude that really offended Shane and myself.  She went as far to say that she was not happy for us because no one is happy over a second engagement/wedding.  Shane and I were doing what we could to keep our heads above water and to not let that negativity in, but we are only human and we could only do so much.  We had done what we felt we needed to do to reach out to her but received no response from her.

Someone on Shane’s side of the family felt that we were acting out of selfishness.  She felt that we were not thinking about the kids or other members of the family when we decided to move the wedding date up.  However, she has more of an excuse for the amount of doubt.  She has watched two of her family members go through nasty divorces while watching  4 out of 6 little children suffer the consequences.  Now, I’m not saying shes right, but I’m also not saying shes wrong.  I feel she has failed to realize that I am Liz, not Terri and not Ashley.  I am Liz, he is Shane, and we are us.  But only time will be able to repair her wounds – and that’s ok.

Neither one of these family members have been around to watch how we deal with conflict, struggle, happiness, etc.  All they saw was their own selfish reasons as to why we needed to marry sooner or not get married at all; depending on who’s side you are looking at.

After an amazing counseling session with Pastor Steve a few weeks back, we decided that it was in our best interest, the kids’ best interest as well as our faith’s best interest that we get married relatively soon.  We set the date for February 15 and let the family know.  We had the feelings of whoever made it, made it; whoever didn’t, oh well.  –By the way, probably not the best mentality to have when it comes to your family and your new marriage.

Thankfully, everyone showed up and showed their support.  The service began with the typical bridal party entrance as well as the bride entrance.  Shane, the kids and myself love the Phantom of the Opera and wanted to somehow tie that into the service.  Shane, being the wonderful man he is, found this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrmxPlkgfFQ (the first minute or so of this video) and we agreed to use it as our processional.

The service then went into a sermon about how our story has lead us to where we are now – all the decisions that we have to make, not just for us, but for the kids, for our relationship and for Christ.  It’s so hard to even write in here what the service was all about because it was all about keeping Christ at the center of our marriage, how we need to encourage one another in our faith, how we need to support each other in our decisions –it all just flowed together so nicely.

At the end of the service, we were told by those individual family members that they loved the service and that they finally understood why we were doing what we were.  Something about the message that Pastor Steve gave reached out to them!  Not only to them, but to my best friend, Katelyn, who stood by my side from the start of this relationship.  Her and her husband came and spent the weekend with us and watching them come to church with us as well as become engaged in the wedding sermon was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed.
My best friend and I.

I do not like to “throw” my religion in peoples faces but I do LOVE to talk about it.  I love what He has done of me and where my faith is taking me.. taking us.  Katie, posted an AMAZING blog yesterday on how our service had worked wonders in her personal life as well as her marriage.  (https://katelynlifebooks.wordpress.com)  I was so excited to see and hear this because when Shane and I were constructing our ceremony, our goal was to minister to a minimum of one person – we managed to minister to 3-4 people!!  How cool is that?!

I just cannot get over how unbelievably happy I am, how well everything came together – with the exception of me screwing up part of the vows, and how wonderful the day was, from beginning to end.   I am working on posting a video slide show thing that Shane and I put together that showed at our ceremony.  Once that is all uploaded and finalized, I will publish it on here as well as my Facebook for those of you that have started following me on there!

Now that things are starting to slow down a little bit, I’m hoping to get on here more and write more about the events, so if there is anything that you would like to know about the service, please feel free to comment on here or shoot me a message on Facebook and I will answer the question for you.  I cherish each one of you as followers and hope that you can find some comfort, guidance, support in the words that I share with you!

Until next time,

Elizabeth Peterson

Sticks And Stones

Since I’ve taken a break from this for a few days, I decided you guys get the idea between Shane and I; everything has been so flawless and so easy that we are so happy and deserving of each other.  But during these awesome happy times, we both fought a time where things weren’t so happy.

While we were both just re-entering the dating scene, we broke the news to the people most important to us – family and really close friends.  Well, me being the social butterfly I was, I opened my mouth to anyone who I considered to be a ‘friend’.  Acquaintances would be a better fitting word in this sense.

I had lunch with a so called ‘friend’ about the time that Shane and I were discussing turning our friendship into a relationship.  I had made mention at the fact that I had met this wonderful man and I was so excited that things just seemed to be falling into place.  I was able to say my piece, and in a matter of 30 seconds they brought me from Cloud 9 down to my knees.  The single statement that they told me was “You are better off with Randal.”  Uh. Excuse me.  There is a reason that our engagement didn’t work out – it simply wasn’t meant to be.

Luckily, our meal was almost done.  By the time I had left our lunch date I was feeling about 2 inches tall.  Someone who didn’t even know the inside story of all of the issues in my engagement and all of the wonderful things that were going on in my life had no room to point the finger at me and tell me how my relationships were supposed to work.

I immediately went to Shane and told him what had gone on.  He listened as I told him how it all played out and how I felt about ‘friends’ like that.  He told me to try and keep a positive attitude and that I didn’t need to surround myself with people who were not going to be supportive of me and my decisions.

Said ‘friend’ has slowly been becoming a smaller and smaller part of my life.  As nice as it is to have ‘friends’, you need to get rid of the ‘toxic’ ones in your life – the ones who don’t support you, the ones who don’t make time for you, the ones to who talk down to you, who are hypocritical, and the ones who tear down your self esteem/worth.  Keep the ones who build you up, support you, and make time for you (or try to).

Now, I’m not sitting here to try to bash said person, because when they were a real friend, they were an awesome friend.  But I feel that if they still wanted to be considered a friend, there would be a real effort made to make up for wrong doings or at least a change of attitude to make up for the cutting down and they would move beyond the old high school bull of “you need to be with so-and-so because I like them better.” when they know nothing more than what I tell of the new joy in my life.

In the end, I’m the kind of person that is willing to forgive and try to move on, on the other hand, Shane is struggling with it.  I can’t blame him.  He deserves to be acknowledged for all the help he has given me by helping me become the strong and faithful woman I am now, not cut down because someone didn’t know him.  Time may heal all – but bitter feelings are hard to get rid of when all you want is acceptance and support.

“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
― Jon Katz

A calming scene from Duluth.
A calming scene from Duluth.