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Our Trip to Texas (Fall 2014)- In Pictures

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We had so much fun visiting Gigi and Papa at their home in Spring Branch, TX! We made the trip as a surprise to my father-in-law for his 60th Birthday. Luca LOVED spending time with them and his cousins, we did too. Here are some photos from our trip. I wish I had some of the birthday party but I was too busy celebrating to take any!

Luca and his cousin, Payton, immediately connected as if no time had passed since they saw each other last. This is a The Salt Lick. AMAZING BBQ!!

Luca and his cousin, Payton, immediately connected as if no time had passed since they saw each other last. This is a The Salt Lick. AMAZING BBQ!!

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Payton and Luca as Astronauts at the Children’s Museum in New Braunfels, TX.

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Cousin bath time! There’s Robbie on the left, he’s just 6 months older than Luca.

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Hiking at Canyon Lake. Everyone please note that my child is actually SMILING FOR A PHOTO. Soak it in.

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Canyon lake. The water is gorgeous because it has a limestone bottom. I planned out our vacation home on the lake, it’s going to be Fabulous.

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More hiking. I just can’t get over how beautiful it is there! Unfortunately, Luca and I had our first experience with fire ants, no photos of that adventure.

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We finished our trip with a visit to Ladybird Johnson’s Wildflower Park. It was so inspirational. This photo was taken at a special climbing and play area, all made out of old tree stumps and branches!

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Four Generations! On the right is Luca’s great-grandma Muriel, then Gigi. It was such a treat to get to spend time with Muriel because she lives in Minnesota and so we don’t see her often.

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Spotting (then chasing) butterflies.

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Luca didn’t want to leave TX, we didn’t really want to either. We had a wonderful time!

 

Luca’s First (Real) Haircut!

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I haven’t been as good about keeping up with life events on this blog. I’m trying to get better at that because I know that someday I’ll love to look back at the memories. Like this one… remember when my baby was balding??

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You can’t really tell in that picture because I purposefully cut off the very top of his head. Yep, I’m shallow. It was really bad though, you guys, it was like comb-over worthy. So. bad. He was still my little sweetie though. And eventually his hair grew in… again…

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See there it’s a little more even. It kinda looks like a buzz cut.

Eventually it grew-in a LOT.

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And more…

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And here’s recently…

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So this weekend we decided it was finally time for a pro hair cut. I’ve been trimming his hair to the best of my ability every now and then but it was time for the real deal.

We were pretty sure he was going to freak-out so we thought it would be best to take him to watch his Daddy get his hair cut first.

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He gets his hair cut at this cool place called American Barber Shop in downtown Santa Ana. It’s all retro and hipster. Perfect place for Luca to get the Swag vibe.

Then after a nice loooong nap. We took him to Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids in Tustin. Ashley cut his hair and she was amazing! We were only going to have her give him a trim but he was doing so well that we asked if it would be ok for her to go ahead and do what we really wanted, hehe! Taking full advantage of our son’s ignorance about hair and style, we went for it!

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He could NOT wait to get into the car. Surprisingly, he cried when she put the cape on but as soon as he saw Mickey Mouse on the tv, he was over it. The lollipop helped too. I am not above bribery, people.IMG_0057 IMG_0058 IMG_0059 IMG_0060

Two lollipops later…. Eeee!! Hipster Baby!

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I blame Pinterest.

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So happy with his lollipop (#3) and balloon!

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One hour later he’s back to helping Dad fix up the sprinklers, just looking cute as can be!


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I’m so glad we took a risk and chose a fun cut, it won’t be long until he’ll have his own opinion!

Losing Bristol

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In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I asked a dear friend if she would be willing to share the story of her recent loss. She gladly agreed as she said she wants to bring hope and encouragement to others who have felt this pain. Thank you, Juliana, for sharing the story of Bristol with us.

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I was at the park one July morning with my son, Barrett, when a lady asked me if I was pregnant.  “Not that I know of,” I replied.  We were both a bit embarrassed and then continued to push our kids silently on the swings.

The next morning, I decided to take a pregnancy test.  Come to think of it, my shorts were a bit tight, I’d been waking up to pee at night and I’d been a bit nauseous for the past week.  Before the control line on the test was even wet, the pregnancy line was glowing in its fuchsia glory. It was a rare solitary bathroom trip and I stood their shaking for several minutes as my son played with trains in the other room. I wanted to tell someone, but there was no one with whom I could share my news –Chris, my hubby, was in an all-day meeting with the President of his company, a first and not something I could interrupt unless I was dying.  So I waited and waited and cancelled plans with friends so I wouldn’t accidently divulge my secret before telling our little one’s sweet daddy.

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Barrett revealing the pregnancy to Daddy.

I stalled on bedtime that night, so our son could be the one to tell daddy that he was going to be a big brother. When Chris walked in the door, Barrett said, “baby” and handed him the stick.  He hugged him and said, “You are my baby!”  Then he asked me, “What is this?”  Thirty seconds later, the recognition set in and he said, “Really?!?!  YAY!!!” We took pictures of Barrett in his Big Brother shirt and shared it with family. Unable to contain my excitement, I drove to my friend Jaclyn’s house to tell her that night.

Chris and I had never experienced the pure joy of being pregnant before.  Previous positive EPTs had sent me immediately to the doctor’s door to find out if the pregnancy was viable.  Since the full term birth of my son, I felt confident right away that I was indeed pregnant and everything was going to be fine.

The almost all day nausea further assured me that I was indeed very pregnant and going to give birth to a baby in the beginning of March 2015.  We both felt really strongly that we were having a girl and began to dream and plan for the new addition to our family.  We worked toward fully-weaning our almost two-year-old son, moved him to a toddler bed and transitioned bath time to daddy in preparation.  We designed the nursery in our head and dreamed of snuggling our little girl in our favorite carrier.  We were smitten and unreservedly sharing our exciting news.

Chris and I on a (pre-scheduled) wine tasting trip while I was pregnant and starting to show.

Chris and I on a (pre-scheduled) wine tasting trip while I was pregnant and starting to show.

 

 

Since I had a history of ectopic and chemical pregnancy, we scheduled an early ultrasound just to be sure.  According to my ‘record keeping’, I should have been at least eight weeks, three days when we had the ultrasound.  I only measured six weeks, three days.  Something just didn’t seem right, but we could see the heartbeat flutter and everyone tried to assure me that perhaps I had missed something in my record keeping and that everything would be fine.  I pushed  doubt out of my head and continued on with my nausea and dreaming.

 

 

Several days later, I found out that the heartbeat was slow and that I should have another ultrasound and

Baby Bristol on the first ultrasound.

Baby Bristol on the first ultrasound.

then some blood work to make sure everything was ok.  I began spotting the same day. I immediately felt a dark cloud come over me.  We had been here before and I knew how this story ended.  I began to grieve the possibility of losing our little girl. I scheduled the ultrasound for the next morning and went to bed trusting that God knew exactly what was going on and had a plan for our family.

My husband was able to join me for the ultrasound – our son sat joyfully in his lap as daddy said, “See the baby?”  I didn’t see the baby and flashed him the ‘no more’ look. There was still a sac and I could make out some tissue inside, but it didn’t look right and I couldn’t see the flutter of the heartbeat like I had the week before.  The tech did a few measurements and confirmed my worst fear – the baby had not grown since last week and the heart had stopped beating.  We thanked her and quickly left the office.  I was devastated.  I explained what had happened to Chris, who was still wondering if there was something we could do to preserve the pregnancy.  “The baby’s heart stopped beating, it’s the same size as last week- she’s gone,” I managed through tears. We sat in the car for a few minutes, just letting what had happened sink in.  I told him that I wanted to name our little girl.  I felt so bonded with her and she deserved the dignity of a name.  We decided on Bristol.

He took the rest of the day off and we had lunch as a family and went to the beach.  I needed to see the power of the ocean and be surrounded by children playing to remind me that God is the author of life and that our little girl was in his hands.  I stared out at the waves and lamented to our sweet girl that I would never see her run on the beach, never hear her laugh or cry, never nurse her or smell her sweet baby skin. Meanwhile, I watched our son shriek with glee as daddy pushed him so high on the swing. He could laugh, he could run, he was alive and the answer to years of prayer for a child.  I knew in that moment that, although my grief over Bristol’s loss might be greater, I had hope and this miscarriage would not send me into the despair that my previous failed pregnancies had.

We shared our news with our family and close friends.  I think they were more shocked than I was.  God had been preparing my heart for this loss and I was grateful.  We shared dinner that night with some of our best friends, who were also experiencing some significant loss.  I needed to fill my home with life, love and the joy of our little boys.  The grieving came in waves over the next several days.  Chris and I grew closer as we

The care box that some of my dearest friends had put together for me.

The care box that some of my dearest friends had put together for me.

shared our sorrow and trusted together that God would grow our family in His time and His way. The outpouring of love and care from our loved ones was astounding – flowers, meals, cards, babysitting and a keepsake box filled with chocolate, a bottle of my favorite wine, and personal care items to help me through the miscarriage.  What was even more amazing was that my mom, who lives in Oregon, already had tickets to come visit us in a few days; she would be here for the miscarriage.  The same thing had happened when I had the chemical pregnancy – she had a preexisting trip planned that fell exactly during the time that I lost that pregnancy. I felt God’s merciful hand upon me.

I had acupuncture to help induce the miscarriage naturally and the bleeding soon increased.  It continued at the same pace for several days and the heaviness of dread hung over me as I waited.  My baby had died inside of me and she was still in there. I had to carry her around with me, even though she was gone.  I wanted this to be over.  I felt terrible physically, and emotionally I needed closure.

The afternoon that my mom arrived, my son woke up from his nap with a 103° temperature. He was miserable the rest of the afternoon and evening.  The next day, he showed mild improvement in the morning, only to crash in the afternoon again.  He was grabbing his ear and would cry out in pain whenever he swallowed.  He had little energy or appetite and he was miserable.  He had been sick several times before, but I had never seen him act like this. We made the decision to take him to urgent care in the morning, as it was the weekend and the doctor’s office was closed. We took him in and I’m so glad we did – he had an ear infection and awful sores in the back of his throat.  The doctor prescribed him antibiotics and told us to watch out for further signs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Sure enough, the telltale rash developed and my heart sank.  There’s no treatment for it and due to it being highly contagious, we would have to keep him away from other kids for a couple of weeks. This meant isolation from my friends at a time when I really needed to be surrounded by them.  He was so sad and wanted mama to hold him all the time.  When anyone else tried to do anything for him, he screamed and threw himself to the floor.  As he was clinging to my legs crying while I sat on the toilet, I thought to myself, “This is motherhood – caring for your sick baby while you’re losing another one.”  Nothing can prepare you for this.  In a time when I really needed to care for myself and process the loss I was experiencing, I instead had to push that aside and care for my son. My needs could wait.

I was starting to lose it.  I just wanted all of this – the miscarriage, my son’s awful sickness – to be over.  Thankfully my mom and husband did everything they could to help me through.  My mom cooked, cleaned and cared for me, while my husband attended to our son as much as he would allow.  Finally around six o’clock on Sunday evening, August 10, it happened.  The bleeding had been increasing and a big sneeze broke everything loose.  I jumped up from the couch and got to the toilet just in time to pass a clot the size of a dessert plate. I was surprised by its magnitude, but couldn’t tell if there was any tissue or just blood.  I began to soak through heavy pads very quickly and pass additional large clots with every bathroom visit.  When I had soaked through two pads in 20 minutes, I made the decision to go the ER (I had been told that I should go in if I was soaking one in 30 minutes).  I called my mom and asked her to come back from my aunt’s house where she was having dinner so that she could take me to the hospital.  I spoke with my midwife who confirmed that I should go in right away.  I was losing a shocking amount of blood and I was starting to feel light-headed.  I asked Chris which hospital I should go to and he suggested Saddleback Memorial where we had our son and my OB had privileges.  I jumped on the phone with Dr. James and he said he would call ahead to the hospital and see me there.  It was a thirty-minute drive, but well worth it to know that someone I trusted and felt comfortable with would be handling my care.

I reached out to some friends for prayer as my mother drove us to the ER.  I told them that I would likely be given drugs to slow the bleeding or have surgery (a D & C) to clear out all the tissue and complete the miscarriage.  I was given a room and hooked up to IV, BP and heartbeat monitoring very quickly.  I continued to bleed very heavily and passed a clot with the dimensions of a grapefruit.  The ER doctor did a pelvic exam and after clearing out a lot of blood, found that I had some tissue just inside my cervix.  Dr. James recommended a D & C and I spoke with him personally to answer my questions of why I wasn’t getting an ultrasound first and if there were any other options.  Satisfied with his answers, I began the preparation for surgery.  I called Chris and told him through tears that I wish he could be there with me and how sad I was to be saying goodbye to Bristol.  He assured me of his love and how his place was to watch over our son at home while my mother (an RN) could be by my side. I tangibly felt God’s peace and provision in all this.

Very quickly I was in the OR and under general anesthesia with a breathing tube down my throat.  This was necessary because they were going to manually dilate me and if I were awake at all I would thrash around in pain from the procedure.  Before I knew it, I heard the anesthesiologist calling me out of the depths.  I woke up sobbing (this is my typical reaction to general anesthesia) and then quickly transitioned to cracking jokes and entertaining the recovery room nurses.  It wasn’t because I found the situation funny; it’s just how my body reacts to the medication.  Before Chris and I were even dating, I flashed him in a hospital room following an appendectomy.

Dr. James followed up with us to share how the surgery went.  He said I would have continued to bleed extremely heavily for a very long time if we had not completed the miscarriage.  It’s unclear why my uterine lining was so thick, but I was grateful that he had done the procedure.  I was out of the hospital by midnight (we checked in at 9pm), in what must have been the quickest ER visit in history.  Relief washed over me.  I had closure and could finally process everything that had happened.  I crawled into bed at 1am, grateful that I would not have to get up with my son at our usual 5:30 hour.  My mom had changed her flight to be with us another day and my husband had taken the day off of work to care for Barrett.  I needed a day to recover and transition back into full-time mothering.

I awoke at a leisurely eight in the morning, enjoyed a hot shower, ate breakfast and spent time reading Scripture and praying.  It felt so good to be finally taking care of my needs.  The bleeding was minimal and I felt like myself again. The rest of day was peaceful and my son played happily with ‘Nama’ and Dada, while I had the opportunity to nap and write this story. Bristol is gone from my belly and from this world, but I will always carry her in my heart.

This verse my dad shared encouraged me and I hope it will do the same for you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

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The Truth About Life After Conversion

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This message could serve as a warning of sorts to those who are almost on board with Christianity. It could serve as a wake-up call to new believers. It most certainly will serve as encouragement for some of you who are a little deeper in and possibly feeling disillusioned with your faith.

On the radio last tonight, yes, Christian radio, there was a sound bite from a well-known pastor. He said something that I don’t know that I totally agree with. I’m not trying to pick a fight with a mega-pastor by any means but something that he said kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Now, to be fair, I was driving so I couldn’t record exactly what he said and I couldn’t find it online either. So let me just give you the gist.

The implied message was this: if you are a believer, you better make sure that your life before Jesus doesn’t sound better than your life after Jesus.

To continue in the vein of fairness, this pastor certainly isn’t the only person delivering this message. Time and time again, we imply that it’s important to see the benefits of becoming a Christian. Now don’t get me wrong, my life after Jesus IS better than life was before. But also, to be honest, it isn’t really in the ways I would have thought.

I can’t speak for all Christians but I can speak for my own faith journey. I didn’t have this miraculous conversion where I no longer struggled with things after. I still struggled with body-image issues, low self-esteem, substance experimenting, lust, greed, lying, jealousy, anger, pride…. Ok, this list could get quite long so I’ll just go ahead and stop it there. Through Christ, I can say that I have, over time, been healed from some of my brokenness but not completely… and here’s the thing: I NEVER WILL BE. I will never be this happy-go-lucky-all-of-the-time-joyful-perfect-person. NEVER.

Here’s what else didn’t happen when I converted. I didn’t suddenly have everything go my way. I didn’t develop friendships with perfect people who never hurt me (because Christians would never hurt each other right??), I don’t always know which path I should take, I don’t have protection from calamity, I don’t have freedom from anxiety and depression. The Bible isn’t a self-help book and Jesus isn’t prozac. I still struggle and I still face suffering.

Look, what I’m trying to say is this:

Don’t become a Christian because you want a better life. 

Become a Christian because CHRIST IS REAL.

God really did create you.

Jesus really did die for you.

The Holy Spirit really will dwell in you.

Those things are real.

Sure, there are benefits to becoming a Christian. Heaven is pretty cool (although it’s probably not one big party in the sky after you die so if that’s what you want, well, sorry). Church has cheap donuts every Sunday, that’s pretty cool too.

Ok, but seriously, the MAJOR benefit that NO other religion can offer you? HOPE.

God gives us hope. We know that one day, every tear will be wiped away. Everything that is wrong will be made right. That is a promise that He will keep. And you know what else? He gives us hope that over time, He will heal us of our brokenness. We feel joy and peace knowing that. That is an added benefit of becoming a Christian.

But still, don’t become a Christian because you want to feel something good like hope. Become a Christian

God delights in His creation even more than we can comprehend! Gen 1:31

God delights in His creation (us) even more than we can comprehend! Gen 1:31

because you want to honor what is true. Your life is too short to go on ignoring the fact that you have a Creator who loves you very much. He wants to have a relationship with you. Talk to Him.

Don’t get caught-up in politics or preconceived notions of what it means to be a Christian. Just look for the facts. You don’t have to dump your brain in a wastebasket to believe this. But don’t waste any more of your life going about your business as if He doesn’t exist. He does. Now go, talk to your Father who loves you. He can’t wait to celebrate your return.

“I’ve seen atheists become Christians after they decided to honestly pursue the evidence of science and history wherever it took them, regardless of whether it ended up contradicting their deeply held beliefs.

Last month, I met a former prosecutor who read my book The Case for Christ at the request of a friend and then spent five years delving into the historical evidence for Jesus before he concluded Jesus is, indeed, the unique Son of God who proved it by returning from the dead. I know an atheist engineer here in Colorado who spent two years doing the same thing. Both are now strong Christians.” – Lee Strobel

If you’re into videos check out this awesome one by Mike Erre.

I want to hear your stories! Why did you become a Christian? If you’re not one, what holds you back from believing?

In Process

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There’s been so much going on in the Snyder Family world that it’s hard to even know where to begin. I feel like first I should announce some BIG news and that is that we have FINALLY come to a decision in terms of our adoption. If you aren’t up to speed on where we were last time, let me recap:

-We were planning to adopt from China’s special needs program.

-We were matched with a little boy who was in terminal condition.

- Our hearts broke.

- We declined the match.

- Our hearts broke more.

- We began to discuss other options for adoption because we realized that adopting from an international special needs program might be more than we wanted to take on right now.

- The traditional Chinese adoption program takes 7 years. Most other international adoption programs require a lot of travel- too much with a toddler.

- FosAdopt wasn’t a good option because we have a 2 year old and want to maintain the birth order.

- We feel stuck.

- HALLELUJAH another option is presented to us!!

Enter, Adopt4Me. On a group page for Orphan Care on Facebook I saw an SOS. A small adoption facilitating company was looking for families to adopt children of mixed ethnicities. Apparently it is hard to find families who will do this (that’s a post for another time, but I want to say that I have no judgment for those families after all we have been through). We were totally on board right away.

Until… the cost. Yeah, it always comes down to money doesn’t it? The reality is, it’s about the same cost as the Chinese adoption, the difference is that we would need to come up with the money a LOT sooner. Yikes.

Well, after praying and discussing and researching, we have discovered that Adopt4Me really is the best fit for us. They are willing to work with our budget and we are going to try to raise funds as fast as we can. Luckily, we already have a good chunk of money that we have saved for the adoption so we only have to fundraise about $5,000.- $7,000.

Bye-bye old roof!

Bye-bye old roof!

Now, we are doing our best to get our home study done quickly and our house ready for a new little boo. Lord have mercy on me, I am nesting so bad. I am trying to calm my anxiety but I can hardly keep myself together. I feel myself fighting to ward-off the anxiety and to turn to God, but let me tell you it’s not easy. Especially when my house really is an actual construction zone.

That’s where I am at right now… in process. Both figuratively and literally.

I feel like a tornado inside. I’m nesting like a woman at the beginning in her third trimester only this is worse in some ways because I’m actually physically capable of doing most of my crazy Pinterest-inspired ideas. I need help people. I’m not kidding.

True to form, Jesus showed-up for me in a big way today….

When your mind spins with multiple plans, Peace may sometimes seem to be within your grasp; yet it always eludes you. …  I did not design the human mind to figure out the future, that is beyond your capability. I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me. Bring Me all your needs, your hopes, and fears…. Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace. 

-Jesus Calling, Sarah Young. Psalm 37:5

Yeah. So that pretty much hit the nail on the head. I just have to pray that God can give me the strength and wisdom to surrender because I’ve been trying to do it on my own and it’s not working so well.

I’m curious, what do you do when your “planning” gets out of control? Suggestions and prayers are greatly appreciated!

This is the side yard that we see from our kitchen window. We just ripped out a bunch of stubborn ferns and are going to plant a screen hedge around the fence. Also, check-ou the roof over the garage. That's going bye-bye!

This is the side yard that we see from our kitchen window. We just ripped out a bunch of stubborn ferns and are going to plant a screen hedge around the fence. Also, check-ou the roof over the garage. That’s what’s going bye-bye!

Updates! From House to Home, Our Little Big Boy, and A New Hole.

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So much has happened in the last few weeks I can’t believe it. It’s definitely time for me to take a break from all of those serious posts and to write about the good stuff that’s been going on round here!

First let me start with my very favoritist DIY project so far! Restoration Hardware eat your heart out!

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First we bought pipe and fittings at Home Depot then sprayed them with this awesome stuff:

 

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My mom did the sewing because it’s just better when she does it. I Heart THEM!!!!

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We’ve been hitting-up Disneyland every now and then. Caleb decided to be the coolest dad ever and got some Oswald ears. He’s so hot.

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I’m attempting to bump-up my Crunch status with this MEGA HUGE RIDICULOUSLY LARGE COMPOSTER!!! I am SERIOUS about composting. Really serious.

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Our little guy is getting bigger and bigger. He is showing-off his make-up application skills and his photography skills.

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True to form, he’s growing and changing. Can you believe he’s 22 months old?? He now prefers (i.e. WILL ONLY) to fall asleep in his stroller for naps. Here he’s holding his favorite book like a lovey, ugh, boy after my own heart. (PS That book, Firebird, is so cute!)

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Oh and here’s the new hole… Look hard.

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YEP! I finally did it! I’ve been talking about it for years and finally just went and did it.

So, there are the updates. I’ll do some more house updates soon I hope (I’m saying I hope there are actually updates to give!).

So Close to Perfect

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Perfect isn’t real. It’s allusive, subjective, nearly impossible to define. We all know that… but, there’s something, and please tell me you’ve been there… there’s a feeling. A feeling that everything is alright. That I am alright. That’s the feeling I’m chasing. I always have. Be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect wife, the perfect therapist, the perfect mother. It’s an admirable thing to pursue, you see, because the feeling is so good.

And about that feeling. The great thing about that feeling is that you don’t even really need to achieve perfect to feel the feeling. You can just be on your way and you feel it. In fact, you can just decide that you’re going to start on the path towards perfect and you might feel it. The problem is that the feeling is quite slippery. Not to worry, continue on the path and you can be sure to feel it again.

Last month, Luca and I were really sick for an entire week. Inevitably, Caleb was gone across the country for work that week. The first day was torturous. I had a sky-high fever and Luca was cranky miserable too. I was filled with dread. I reached-out to some friends for help and was kindly given a care package of saltines and gatorade. Suddenly, things were looking-up. Luca and I were homebound for a week but it was fantastic. It felt like a genuine Staycation. We watched dance documentaries, Thomas the Train, and played with Play Doh. I had nowhere to be and no obligations. Meal prep included heating-up chicken noodle-o’s and drinking kombucha. I lavished in time with God. Life was good. Weird, but good.

For the first time in my life I felt content being home. I’ve never been a homebody. I’ve always been on the go, desperately craving the energy of people. But I didn’t need anyone. I was home with my sweet boy, I felt so connected to God… I was fulfilled. I had that feeling. The feeling that I usually get when I’m striving for perfect. But I wasn’t striving for anything. I was. I just was.

Now I know the feeling I’m so desperately seeking is contentment. It’s a through-and-through reassurance that I am ok, that everything is ok. 

Being sick for a week made me realize that I had too many commitments. I was spreading myself too thin. I was trying to be perfect and I was trying to find fulfillment in people. One of the items on my calendar that hit the chopping block was my beloved Book Club. I didn’t want to say goodbye to it but I felt I nagging at my heart that I needed to take a break. I realized later, after explaining to my friends that I couldn’t continue, that Book Club had been another way for me to strive towards perfect.

You see, Book Club wasn’t a bunch of us girls getting together to gush over the latest romance novel. It was a ‘parenting book’ Book Club. It was another way for me to reassure myself that I was going to do my best to be as perfect of a mom as I could be. I just couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t.

Back in the day, when I was in therapy, my therapist practically kicked me out. I wanted to keep going, week in and week out, month after month, year after year. He finally had a talk with me. At what point would I be “good enough?” At what point could I just be ok with my imperfection and trust myself? Sure, things were going to come-up, life happens, but now I had the tools within me to be ok. Everything was going to be ok.

This is how it is for motherhood now. I’m realizing that I’ve created a wonderful toolbox. I’ve learned so much and I have amazing friends as resources. When I’m feeling desperate and clueless, I know where to turn. God has provided so much. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy being a mom.

Now I can look back and realize that, at times, my perfectionism was preoccupying me from actually being present. I was reading this blog and that blog. This book and that book. Texting this mom and that mom. Even when I wasn’t physically distracted, I was often mentally distracted. I was so caught-up in becoming who I wanted to be that I couldn’t just stop and enjoy who I was… an imperfectly fantastic mom to the most precious little boy.

My week of quarantine re-connected us. I saw his beauty and mine too. I could see clearly the things I was doing right and the things that needed work. Ironically, what needed work was that I needed to stop working so much. I needed to stop go-go-going so much. We needed more time at home with less rushing and *sigh* I needed less face-glued-to-my-phone time.

Facebook, texting, blog reading, etc… all of it is taking a backseat now. If people think I’m rude for not responding to their texts quickly, so be it. They’ll appreciate my full attention when I am with them. Plus, I’m realizing that time really is flying by. Soon, Luca will be a big brother and I won’t have as much time for him. I want to enjoy these valuable moments before they’re no more.

So far, I can attest that my days feel longer (in a good way). Time feels slower and less pressured. I am able to be more attuned to Luca and my husband. The time I felt like I never had for God is suddenly there and it is a gift every day. This is it. I feel content. Ok… not all of the time, but I sure feel better than I did before. I feel “good enough,” and that my friends, is a wonderful feeling.

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The Quake That Shook Wine Country: Heartbreak for My Hometown

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If you’ve never experienced an earthquake, let me tell you it is incredibly hard to describe what it’s like. The first word that comes to mind for me is “disorienting.” The quakes that I have been through were minor but still unsettling. For days after I felt sort of on-edge and disoriented.

It’s an incredibly unnerving feeling when, without warning, the earth beneath you becomes unsteady. Incredibly.

Well, just a little over a week ago, my little hometown of Napa was shaken by a 6.1 earthquake. It was big enough to do major damage to infrastructure and paved roads. Not to mention big enough to scare the wits out of most of those who were brutally awakened by it at 3am. I’ve heard story after story of sentimental items being lost and of damage to homes. No one really has earthquake insurance because it’s RIDICULOUSLY expensive and has like a $30,000 deductible. So most of the damage will just have to be absorbed by the home owners.

I just had to write something about all of this because I feel so helpless being far away. I wish that I was there to help pick-up the broken pieces. The shocking images of beautiful historic buildings crumbling and glass strewn about homes of loved ones… it’s just so heartbreaking. Not to mention that the aftershocks are STILL continuing. Talk about feeling on edge, ugh.

If you pray, please pray for my hometown. Pray for the residents, that they will not suffer from fear or injuries. Pray a blessing of peace and healing.

God, please give them strength and fill them with joy as they celebrate what was not lost.

Here are some photos to help us understand what it has been like there:

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Some images of hope and healing:

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images

 

Please Pray With Me Today

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Today at noon some of us will be praying for the situation in Iraq. There are many people being persecuted and even murdered for their unwillingness to align with the ISIS group. Will you please pray with us?

Pray:

- That the people in the ISIS group will discontinue the violence and will turn to Christ and know His love.
– That those who are being deployed into the area will be protected.
– For the protection and provision of those who are being persecuted.
– That those who are suffering will feel God’s peace and love.
– That the Christians who are being persecuted will remain strong in the faith.

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Did I miss anything? Please add other prayers in the comments section.

The Problem with Miracles

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What a stellar way to title a post. I’m pretty sure no one is going to read a post entitled, “The Problem with Miracles.” I might as well have said, “Why Ice Cream is Too Cold.” (That’s a total snag from Friends by the way, *sigh* Ross…) Anyway, I don’t think there really is a problem with miracles but I do want to say something about our desire for them.

I can think of the very first one I prayed for as a believer…. My great-uncle died so I prayed that God would bring him back. It didn’t happen. Regardless, anytime something really bad happens or I want something that I think is impossible, I pray for a miracle. I never really thought of it before but I’ve also been praying for miracles that have to do with my character. I don’t think we realize it, but asking God to change something about our hearts is asking for a miracle.

Sharing time. I really really REALLY don’t like it when I get angry about another driver’s stupid *ahem* less-than-stellar driving tactics. I get so mad. I seriously want to honk my horn like mad and cut them off and yell things that my toddler has no business hearing. Usually, I just end-up gritting my teeth and hoping they notice when I pass them because I get to use the carpool lane. That’s what we call passive-aggressive. I don’t know why I let it bother me so much. Who cares?? They’re doing what they’re doing, I’m doing what I’m doing, no big. But I CAN’T. LET. IT. GO. It crawls under my skin and itches until I do something to get some sort of revenge.

The thing is, if I’m really honest: those drivers scare me. Their reckless behavior reminds me that I’m not in control. I can drive as safe as I want but if another driver crashes into me well, there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. That’s why I get so mad. I’m scared.

So, in cases like that, when I’m praying for God to help me not get so mad, I’m basically praying for Him to remove my fear which would seriously be a miracle.

Yeah, I’m kind of a fearful person. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty drama of why I am the way that I am but let’s just say this didn’t happen overnight. It’s a seed that has been planted into a very fertile soil of this world’s crap and then nurtured lovingly by Satan and his minions. Seriously, this isn’t something I can just will away. I want control over my life. I want to control my safety and the safety of those I love. It’s hard to relinquish that control to God because I don’t always get what He’s doing. But I know that He knows best and I hate feeling anxious and I hate the behaviors that seep out of my heart as a result so I pray that He will change my heart.

Now this is the part where I talk about the problem with miracles.

God could absolutely take that part right out of my heart like it was nothing. He could have brought my uncle back from the dead. There are so many things that He could do but He chooses not to. I could get into a whole thing about free will and God’s intervention and all that, but I won’t…. mostly because I’m no expert on that. What I can say, from my own experience is that if God performed a miracle by changing my character then I would be robbed of so much more. 

What I am realizing time and time again is that God wants us to become more like Him through the process of relationship with Him. How easy would it be if He were to simply make us all Christ-like the minute we became believers? It would be easy but it wold lack the gift of grace. Something that astounds me about our Heavenly Father is that he is RELENTLESS. He pursues and pursues even when I fall short. It’s mind-boggling. If you have ever experienced a relationship in which your inner ugliness was exposed and you were loved in SPITE of that, you know what I’m talking about. This is what God does. He doesn’t change us immediately. He pursues us in grace and insists that we return to Him again and again. This is love.

Have you seen the ugly parts of your heart? They’re really ugly. At least mine are. God hasn’t removed them but we are working on it. He loves me in my ugliness. He loves me in the ugliness that I DON’T EVEN REALIZE I HAVE YET. This is why He doesn’t miraculously transform me. I need to see those parts. I need to willingly give them to Him. He respects that I should have the choice to surrender those parts. That is love.

 So here’s the problem with our desire for miracles: if God doesn’t fix it then we have to work through it and that’s hard. We generally steer away from hard. Hard is exhausting and frustrating. It’s also scary to see the ugly parts of ourselves. Most of us would rather notice the ugly parts in others and pretend like we don’t have ugly parts like that. To admit our faults is to be rooted in humility and rested in grace, both of which are not easy to achieve.

So what do we do with all of this? Do we not ask God to perform miracles in our hearts? I don’t think so. I think we should always be real with God about the desire of our hearts. The trick will be to ask God, “Father, is there something in my heart that I need to be aware of?” Sit with God in that question. Don’t be afraid. He is so loving and gracious. He will help you remove it. He may lead you to a therapist or other relationship that will be used for refining purposes. Through that relationship you may discover where this all began. The light will shine in the darkness and God will use this insight to bring healing.

You may find yourself praying that God perform a miracle in someone else’s heart. I don’t know what to say about that other than this is very tricky business. Often, the darkness we see in another is the darkness that we have in ourselves and cannot forgive. That person who is always late? Do they drive you crazy? I’m curious, how do you feel when you are late? Do you have a hard time accepting that you are human and can be late sometimes? Maybe it’s time to sit with God about that.

Do we stop praying for others? No. But… it’s very important that we became aware of our own issues before fixating on the issues that others struggle with. Usually, it takes someone outside of us to show us our own issues. We often don’t even realize that we  struggle with something until it manifests through friction in a relationship. In theses cases we will be tempted to notice the fault in the other person. We must always ask, “Father, is there something in my heart that I am not aware of?” 

If you are interested into delving into this process, also known as “sanctification,” or becoming more like Christ, I highly recommend you find a trusted Spiritual Director or therapist. Here are some books that may help you on your journey:

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