never say won’t

If there is one thing I have learned in my 32 years, it’s never tell God you won’t do something.

“I’ll never be a nurse.” (Me: age 16, when contemplating my future career choices).

“I want to have a baby, & I don’t care if it’s a boy or girl. As long as it’s healthy.” (The very naïve me: age 27).

“I won’t ever get divorced. I was raised in a Christian home and you don’t do that.” (The very naïve me again, thinking I alone had the power to save my marriage).

“I will never get re-married. I just won’t. I am fine on my own; I can take care of myself.” (The very stubborn, scared, 31 year old me who had herself convinced she would willingly be the old lady living in a cul-de-sac somewhere with 100 cats for companions).

I was wrong about each of those things. Like, 100% dead wrong.

I am now a nurse practitioner (with the world’s best job. Just sayin’ 😉 ).

I am a mom to a child who wasn’t born “healthy” in the world’s very subjective definition of the term “health.” And who is our amazing little cover girl (so to those who question “quality of life,” there’s that 😉 )…

cover

The Lord sweetly walked beside me through a divorce (which, thankfully wasn’t nasty, or mess, or long & drawn out).

And He brought an amazing man into mine & my girls’ lives. I wouldn’t believe it if it weren’t true.

It’s easy to present yourself on social media as having your life put together. Even through the hard times. What people don’t post for the world to see are the hard times. The times your heart feels like it’s being ripped into shreds. The times when, alone in your car,  you let the tears come & you cry out to God to show Himself and fix the mess you don’t want to be in. And yes, you know deep down He IS in the process of fixing it, but the outcome is going to look way different than you ever imagined.

That outcome looks like a divorce papers. Or lonely nights alone in your bed. Or looking through old photos & remembering what your life used to look like. Surgeries. Unexpected phone calls.

Pain.

But then sometimes, something happens & the tide turns. That “different” outcome God is creating starts to look a little better perhaps than what you could’ve created yourself. That yes, it is way more painful than you would’ve liked, but you start to recognize that maybe, just maybe you are becoming better for having been through it.

And then you start to actually become thankful for the painful times. Because without those, you wouldn’t know good times when they come. And you sure as heck wouldn’t appreciate them the way you do.

Yes, it would probably be easier to just stay single. Bury all the hurts & scars and pretend they don’t exist. Remarriage isn’t a “slapping a bandaid over the hurt.” If anything, I think it’s probably more like “ripping the bandaid off a wound.” When you choose to share your life with someone, you get all of them. The good AND the bad.

And the past. The scars. The bruises. And goodness knows, Graham & I have enough of those 😛

But’s that’s okay. Because we all are broken people in a broken world.

On February 8th, this most amazing man asked me to marry him. And not to just live in that “happily-ever-after” but to walk this journey with him in the happily ever after and also the not-so-happily ever after. To celebrate the good times, the successes, the highs, and to be thankful for them. And yet, to share the hard days, those times we each have that no one else other than each other could possibly understand. To lift each other up in constant prayer, to rip the bandages off our past wounds & be vulnerable with each other. Which is incredibly hard to do sometimes, but little by little we are getting the hang of it.

I am so incredibly undeserving of this life. And this journey. Wow. To think of how far God has brought me literally blows my mind sometimes. He is amazing. He has given me everything I never knew I wanted or needed.

My career. My girls…and yes, spina bifida. All that I learned in walking through divorce (make no mistake–I still don’t believe divorce is in His plan–but I believe He chose to work His plan out in my life in SPITE of my divorce!).

And now He has given me an incredible fiancé that I am beyond blessed to share my life with. We’re just a little excited…if you can’t tell from the looks on our faces 😉

proposal

2014…

So it’s been a long time since I have blogged. Probably most of ya’ll out there have long given up on my posts and think I have fallen off the face of the Earth. 

Wrong!

I’ve been busy. Not the kind of busy where you feel exhausted and wonder when will things ever slow down. But a good busy. Life finally feels normal again. Whatever “normal” is. Home is good, work is good, girls are good, Graham & I are good. 

I always like New Years’ Eve, but this year I was eager to send 2013 out. What a year. We won’t even rehash the details of that mix of ugly/bad/good of that year, it is over and done and we have all moved on with our lives. I decided I needed to celebrate the fact that God continues making all things new. I spent New Years’ Eve with my incredible small group of friends from church. I never cease to be amazed at all the people God has brought into my life this past year. My bible study group ranks very high on that list–it is a group that never fails to encourage me spiritually, and Wednesdays are a highlight of my week because of the studies and conversations i know we will have. 

The girls spent New Years’ with Nana & Papaw.  The early birds 😉

January was full of snow. Literally. It seems I spent the majority of the month wearing snow pants, Under Armour, gloves and hats to work because of the frigid temps. I drank lots of coffee and hot chocolate, ate tons of comfort foods, used up the majority of my propane tank due to running the fireplace constantly, and went skiing for the first time in over 10 years. 

And although I am no good at it, I remembered I love to ski 🙂

Graham and I, along with our bible study group, took a trip to Winterplace in West Virginia for a weekend of bible study and skiing. It was a blast, and thankfully I returned without injuries, casts, splints or stitches. I didn’t brave the black diamond slopes, but I did decide I should hone my skiing skills (which necessitates going skiing more often than every 10 years 😉 ).

This new year has also been a good journey spiritually for me as well. One thing I will be forever thankful for learning during the course of the past year and “it” (i.e., the divorce) is that when everything completely falls apart, it’s sink or swim time. I had called myself a Christian since the age of 8, and yes, I have always claimed to love Christ and serve Him, but it was at that point in my life that just saying it was no longer enough. 

I had to trust Him.

Learning to trust again has been huge for me. I have always considered myself an independent woman. Not in a feminist sort of way, but in a I-can-provide-for-myself-and-my-kids-and-do-this-all-on-my-own sort of way. Me & my girls. And Jesus. But how much do I really trust him? Do I really believe He can hold us together? What if it all falls apart again? 

The more I ask these types of questions of Him, and the more I seek to not just come to Him when things are bad, but to really know Him, the more I realize what needs to happen. If I say He is my Lord, then he has to be first. Above everything. Only then will I know Him so well that I trust Him and His plan, and when I find myself scared and afraid He is there and will remind me of His love, and provision, and that He is continuing to remake me. 

Since I spend so much time in my car for work, I play a lot of music on the radio. I’m a fan of K-Love and Air One, and one day this song came on the radio. And the words of this song hit me like a ton of bricks. 

The words of that song are so powerful…

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

I realized that I needed to remain in that place. That place of willingness to be broken, to be empty, to be lonely, whatever it took, in order to keep my relationship with my Lord as the number one priority. That is the relationship that has to be above all else. Above my girls. Above my relationship with Graham. Above my family. My job. Anything that starts with the word “my.”

That has been the focus of my spiritual journey so far this year. It is challenging, and exciting and lately I find myself craving more and more time spent on it. 

That is my 2014 so far. It’s good. Great. Maybe even the best 🙂 And today is February, and spring is coming, and I ran almost six miles today and didn’t fall over dead. I’m excited for the future for so many things. My girls will both be in school this year (woah!!), Graham and I will celebrate a year spent together in June, Zoe is making such huge progress with her therapies, Faith is now fluently reading and beyond ready for kindergarten, perhaps I’ll finally sell that house in Morgantown (any takers? 😉 ), John & I are figuring out the co-parenting from separate homes thing pretty well, and overall we are all settled and I am so thankful. 

Oh, and it was 60 degrees today 🙂 So there’s that.

 

 

 

survival mode

This week has totally thrown me for a loop. I am sure there is some hilarity in all of this mess which is why I am spending the time to document it all. 

Currently though, I am not laughing. 

Thankfully, I have gotten all of my Christmas shopping done prior to this week, otherwise I may have changed my mind and been giving out coal and rocks this year (kidding! 😉 ). 

This photo pretty much sums up my week…

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The dreaded full moon. And the week before Christmas at that 😦

I have been a parent now for four years. I have seen my share of toddler tantrums and meltdowns. It happens. Normally I just roll with it and come up with different things to try to manage the madness and move on. 

This week though, we’ve had more meltdowns than usual, at the most inopportune times. Even Zoe, my child who loves to sleep and always has been so easy, was not immune. I have found myself recounting the newborn days–getting woke up at 4 and 5 am for no real reason. I have spent every.single.way.too.early morning crouched beside Zoe’s bed, trying to convince her why she needs to go back to sleep instead of getting up to play.

I have attempted to convince Faith why you can’t put boots on BEFORE your pants, why she has to comb her hair for school, and that no, putting a hat on over it ONCE because we were running late doesn’t mean we can do it every day. One morning, I even literally had to pick the child up out of bed and carry her to the bathroom to get ready because she refused to get up and we were going to be late.

And…if that weren’t bad enough…

A wild animal decided to attempt to take refuge somewhere in my car near the heater, and yes, built a nest. No folks, I am not making this stuff up. So my heat went out. So off I went to Toyota. 

Even after sitting at the dealership for yes, two hours, I really was not expecting to hear a wild animal had basically cost me upwards of $800+ dollars. Oh yeah, I needed a new battery too. I knew that. And…there are multiple recalls on my vehicle that need fixed. 

Of course.

Merry Christmas to me.

At this point, it’s survival mode folks. Make it through the week. Christmas is coming. And that means sunshine, and rainbows, and toys, and perhaps the stars all align and we have an ENTIRE day with no meltdowns, nothing unexpected, no chaos. Right?

Wishful thinking perhaps, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed 😉

Tonight began the bedtime battle once again. I tucked in the ladies, gave them sippies, and strawberries, we sang songs, said prayers, tucked & re-tucked a million times. 

And then I shut their doors, went to my room, and climbed in the shower. Yeah, I knew someone would probably cry. And one (or both!) would probably get up out of bed to come get me for one more something. But hey, survival mode means mommy gets a sanity moment. 

And when my moment was over, I felt MUCH better, and you know what…they were ASLEEP!!! (and no, this was not a long, leisurely shower. I’m not really certain what that is 😉 ). 

A friend posted this on my wall tonight and it pretty much sums up how I have felt about this week…

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LOVE THIS. Here’s hoping all you other parents out there survive the full moon (i.e., the nightmare before Christmas 😉 ) and we make it to the weekend. Here’s hoping my kiddos sleep all night, no one wakes up at 4 am, and I don’t end up having to put another kid in my bed in the middle of the night just so we all can get some sleep.

Survival mode.

PTSD & Anchors :)

PTSD: When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. –www.nih.gov

I’ve decided that surviving divorce is a sure-fire way to get yourself some PTSD. I have been a nurse practitioner now for almost six years, and have seen countless numbers of patients with PTSD. Each one of them has their own set of triggers. For some, it’s loud noises that trigger reminders of a traumatic or painful event they’ve endured. For others, it’s seeing a car accident, or watching the news, or seeing fireworks. I have even treated patients who are triggered by seemingly benign things such as bright lights on a car, or even the wrong body language.

For me, I’ve decided it’s when everything in my life is going great. That’s when I am reminded of how I once thought this before for the duration of a 10-year marriage, and then everything fell apart. I guess that’s when that “fight or flight” response kicks in, and I feel like I am letting my guard down. And maybe I shouldn’t be? Because what if things fall apart again? Surely the bottom will fall out at some point. And then I get scared, and I feel like rather than risk going through pain and heartbreak all over again which I simply cannot endure for another round, maybe I should just go ahead and prepare myself now for it. You know, keep my heart guarded. Don’t let anyone in. Because I am fine on my own. I can support myself, my girls, and we can live our lives free from risking any further heartbreak.

But deep down, that’s not what I really want. And more importantly, that’s not what God wants for my life.

Several months ago, Graham posted this on my facebook wall (yes, he’s pretty much amazing 🙂 ). This pretty much sums up how divorce has affected me…click the hyperlink below to view 🙂

 To Love At All

It’s drawing close to a year since John & I separated. I honestly feel I have done well with the whole transition, and the girls have been amazing 🙂 Those dreaded “bad days” (you who have gone through divorce will probably understand that) are few and far between. I am in a place now, with Graham, and my girls, that I wouldn’t trade for anything. God has been incredibly gracious to me and I am overwhelmed at how much He has given to me that I am so unworthy of.

But….every once in a while, something triggers that whole “this-is-too-good-to-be-true” mindset. That “something-will-happen-and-the-bottom-will-fall-out-just-like-it-did-before” attitude. I firmly believe Satan does not want us to share our joy with others & I think it probably makes him nervous when we give credit for everything to our great God and make His name known. I believe he knows our weaknesses, and right now mine would be fear.

I have no idea how you let go of this (so…any of you other divorcees out there feel free to share!). How do you make yourself 100% vulnerable again? How do you let your guard down without fear that everything will once again fall apart? I am at a place now where I would not change my circumstances. They have made me who I am, and have brought an amazing man into my life. I am thankful my girls have adjusted so well. I am thankful John & I have a good relationship remaining that we can give nothing but the best to our kiddos.

But how do you get rid once and for all of that nagging fear that plagues you at the most inopportune times, telling you that it’s all too good to be true?

This year, I debated strongly on whether I would order Christmas cards. Those of you who know me personally may know I always order personalized Christmas cards–the ones with pictures, and cute sayings, etc. But this year is very different. The holidays have been (& still are!) an adjustment for me. It’s been great so far, but I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments of sadness, reminders that this life is far different than I ever dreamed.

I’d also be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing and that I am thankful it is more than I ever dreamed. Because what I dreamed for myself was small. And this is far bigger than myself.

But then I remembered that we are all on a journey, and we all have a story to tell. And yes, my story sounds a bit unbelievable at times (still planning to write that book one day 😉 ) but it is the one we have been given, and it’s a pretty great one 🙂

So I made Christmas cards, although a little different this year, to outline our story for 2013. I think they’re pretty cool.

And this has become one of my new favorite verses which I also put on the cards…Hebrews 6:19…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm & secure.”

I love the word anchor. It’s solid. Unmoving. You throw out an anchor to keep your boat from drifting away. To remain unmovable. Even in crazy waters, and heavy wind, you won’t drift away with a good anchor.

I may not know how to totally live without fear on my own. But I can live with hope. Hope that the same God who has walked ahead of me through so many circumstances in my life will continue to carry out His plan to completion. That He hasn’t given me more than I could have ever imagined now just to take it all away and say, “start over again, honey!”  So in my moments of fear, of PTSD, when I feel like I am going backward instead of forward, that’s what I hold onto.

The anchor.

Because when it all boils down to it, what else is there?

not my plans

I am learning (slowly but surely) to be thankful God doesn’t ever  always answer my prayers the way I think He should. This past weekend I spent some time chaperoning a group of awesome youth kids from my church (so strange that I find myself back loving on youth kiddos again after I thought I was done with that, but whatever…they are awesome, amazing kids & I love it. So there’s that 😉 ). I remembered being in high school and how I thought I had my life planned out. 

I was pretty convinced that my plan was awesome. 

I had the typical teenage girl plan. Graduate, find my husband, have 2.5 kids, job security and a nice home where we’d raise our kids, live the sweet life and die (at the same time holding hands nonetheless!), and basically live nice cushy lives. American dream, huh?

I became a Christian age the mere age of 8. Little did I know, following Christ is not the American dream. Nor is it always nice and cushy.

I am re-reading an amazing book I read a long time ago, except it has way more significance to my life now. I ran across this quote the other day, and it is so true for my life. And probably most of yours’ too…

“We should not be surprised that a lifelong journey with God might bring us suffering and hardship. If the Cross teaches us anything, it teaches us that sometimes God comes through AFTER we’ve been killed!”

-Chasing Daylight–Erwin McManus

 
I am slowly learning this is true. I used to hate this idea. I questioned if God is so good, why would He want me to hurt? The more not-so-fun-in-my-opinion circumstances I go through, the more I realize that God isn’t subjecting me to bad circumstances. Nor does He sit up wherever it is He sits, conjuring up the next “bad” thing He can throw at me. 
 
That is not Him. Nor His nature. He is good, and the fact that He often does not answer my prayers the way I think He should often proves to be way more amazing than if He’d just given me what I wanted in the first place.
 
I prayed for God to heal my baby before she was born. I didn’t want to “deal” with spina bifida (honesty, folks!). I wanted a “healthy” child. God didn’t answer my prayer that way. He chose a different route.
 
I didn’t want my marriage to end. Divorce was something I knew would never happen to me. I was raised in church. My daddy became a pastor. Pastors’ kids don’t get divorced, right? Girls who grow up in church and wait for God to send the right person to them don’t get divorced. The ring on my finger wasn’t coming off. But God knew otherwise, and thankfully, He yet again went before me and paved the way to a future I never could have came up with on my own.
 
I wanted my old house to sell. I still remember the point when I knew I had to go ahead and move, even though it hadn’t sold. I know without a doubt it was God’s plan to go on and move us here. His plan was in place, His timing was perfect and we needed to be here. As much as I would still love to say God has sent me the perfect buyer, He hasn’t. I now own two homes. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they were PAID for 😉 But…like always, in His perfect timing He provides. My new renters move in the week after Thanksgiving 🙂 
 
Next week is Thanksgiving. If you’d asked me in the winter if I would be excited about the holidays, I probably would’ve just broke down crying. It is amazing how God can heal one’s heart and hurts. Truly amazing. I hope I never get over it actually. I have so many incredible things to be thankful for. I can’t deny that a big part of me will be excited to see 2013 go and ring in 2014 next month. But my goodness, what an amazing year this has been.
 
I am blogging about all of this because I don’t want to ever forget or take for granted what God has brought me (& my babies) through. How good He has been. I know there will be days when the mundane creeps in, life gets busy, traffic gets jammed, my road rage flares up (honesty again folks!), but I just don’t want to get over it.
 
He is good 😉
 
 
 

updates & HELP WANTED!!

So…my running has been neglected. For over a week. But with good reason (I think!).

I have been a busy bee around here lately. Lots of unpacking, hanging up clothes, arranging appliance & furniture deliveries, and closing out shop at the apartment. It has been 100% worth it. I still feel (as with everything else in my life now!) that this is all just too good to be true. I am overwhelmed at how God has poured out himself to me and my ladies…once again He has went above and beyond in providing for us in so many incredible ways.

My old house is still for sale, and although I wouldn’t call it a source of stress necessarily, I would call it a thorn in my side. But…as I look back over the past, particularly the past couple years, I am reminded that God’s timing is never early, never late. It is perfect. I know He will supply a buyer for our old home at just the right time (although…I’m thinking the time is NOW 😉 )

Halloween is here, and the festivities have begun 🙂 Graham & I attended a Halloween party last weekend…as pirates 😉 For those of you who follow his blog this will be a duplicate pic for you (sorry!). But it’s all I’ve got…so here ya go!

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I think we look pretty darn authenic 🙂

I have the girls’ costumes all ready to go for Thursday night trick or treating, and this week we are busy with Halloween parties at school (i.e., daycare). I am loving it! The next best thing to dressing up for Halloween and getting candy is getting to do it with your kiddos 😉

Graham & I carved pumpkins last night with the girls, although it was entirely him who carved them. I have not one creative bone in my body, and obviously he does, so he become the pumpkin carver by default. It never ceases to amaze me that God has brought someone into my life who so unselfishly gives of himself not just to me, but my sweet ladies as well. We all four piled onto the back deck, ate Kroger Doritoes (i.e, Krogeritoes!), and played in “pumpkin yuck” according to Faith. She was more than thrilled with the results however…

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Speaking of Graham…I am throwing in a little pitch for an important ministry opportunity he has been blessed to become involved with. Next summer–June 2014, he will be headed to Guatemala on a 10 day mission trip with Trinity Hill United Methodist Church (where the girls & I have also been going–and I cannot say enough about the sweet people at this church!).

Anyway…missions cost not only prayer and a willingness to go, but financial expenses as well. Graham is participating in an fundraising event called “Miles for Missions,” and here is a quick excerpt from his blog about how it works…

While in the country, we will be working on cleaning and construction projects, as well as relational ministry with the impoverished children of Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
Here’s how Miles for Missions works: during the month of November, I’m going to be running my butt off. I would like YOU to sponsor me for the number of miles I run! Any amount will help!  $0.25 per mile, $0.10 per mile, or even $0.05 per mile will make a real difference. Any one-time donations are also very much needed and appreciated.
One-hundred percent of the money I raise with Miles for Missions will go toward the cost of sending me to Guatamala. If you feel that God has laid it upon your heart to give, please email me at grahampatricksmith@gmail.com.
I would very much appreciate any PRAYERS you’re willing to offer, too. The trip is very much outside my comfort zone, but I know that God is going to do amazing things in my life and in the lives of the people I’m going to encounter while I’m there!
Although many of us may never enter the foreign mission field, I wholeheartedly believe God has called us ALL to missions. We are His hands and feet to a hurting world that desperately needs to be told of the hope we have. Graham’s email is grahampatricksmith@gmail.com and this is how you would contact him to arrange to help support Miles for Missions and the Guatamala trip. He will be logging his mileage on his blog, although you don’t have to sponsor mileage if you prefer to make a one-time (don’t forget–end of the year tax deduction!!) donation. Just shoot him an email–you can tell him I sent you 😉
So many of you out there in social media land have so readily supported me and my sweet Zoe in numerous fundraisers for spina bifida, of which I am eternally grateful. I would ask you prayerfully consider supporting the mission efforts and calling of another whom God has incredibly chosen to place in my life, and the lives of my sweet babies.

“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””  Romans 10: 13-15

Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. 1 Chronicles 16:24

untitled

It never ceases to amaze me how much can change in one year. A year ago, almost to the day, I was preparing Halloween costumes for the girls (Strawberry Shortcake & a strawberry…and they were SO incredibly cute 🙂 ), living in Morgantown, having no idea how close I was to having my life take its’ biggest turn yet.

Sometimes I wish God would tell me more about what’s to come, or give me a warning at least.

But most of the time, I’m glad He only quietly prepares our hearts, even while we are unaware.

Tonight I sit in this beautiful new home. It is officially mine. In my  name. I have pretty much signed my life away to pay for it 😉 The more I stay here, the more I love it. I love how open it is. I love how we have our sweet little back yard that’s not too big but not too small. And that big back deck with the big windows that reminds me of being up in the mountains or out in the country, yet I can be in downtown Lexington within 15 minutes tops. I love how accessible it is for Zoe. How good the schools are. 

I am still a bit awestruck that God would not only provide a home for the girls & I, but give us this. And no, it sure as heck didn’t come free (although it would be pretty darn sweet if it did!), and in fact, I have not only a full-time nurse practitioner job, but a back-up PRN (which means “as needed” for those of you who might not speak medical jargon) position I can work at if I need or want to supplement my income. And…considering I still own the home in Morgantown (still for sale…hint, hint!) that second job comes in handy sometimes. 

But I am thankful that so many years ago, when I was basically a baby nurse fresh out of school, I decided to go back. I love my career, and although I had not a clue how handy pursuing further education would be, it sure did serve me well! 

I feel like a kid at Christmas lately. And I feel like I can totally relate to Job. No, I haven’t lost everything I have. But I have lost a parent, lost a spouse, lost a dream of a future the way I thought it would go, taken a different course in what it means to have a “healthy” child. 

But I have gained so much. And there is no way to explain it.

I have learned that good step-parents are amazing, because they make a choice to love. They don’t have to. No one forced them to sign up to be a parent. They chose. 

I have learned that having a child with a disability changes you. You are better than you were before you went down that road. You love deeper, appreciate more, taken less for granted, celebrate every little “inch-stone” (hey–that’s what comes before a milestone!), and you realize that so many of the things the world thinks are necessary for a good life, really aren’t so much.

I have learned that sometimes something completely unexpected like a divorce can be one of the best things that ever happened to you. And don’t get me wrong–I have nothing negative to say about John on this blog and I think he would probably agree with this anyway. In the midst of the divorce, he & I have been very diligent about maintaining a good relationship for the girls. In the beginning, clouded by hurt & disappointment, this was more difficult than now. But now, we co-parent well together. He & the girls made cookies for a housewarming gift for me. He came and helped haul off some unneeded items from my apartment during the move. The hurt has been replaced by the realization that this divorce has turned into good for both of us.

I still cannot celebrate divorce as a good thing. I do not believe it is God’s plan for marriage in the least. However, I believe we serve a great God who makes all things new, including hearts, and will continue His plan to perfect us and do things far greater in our lives than we can imagine. Even despite the messes we make. I believe it is Him who has brought me to the place I am now, allowed good to come from what I originally perceived as bad, and brought an amazing Christian man into mine & my girls’ life. It is Christ alone who continues to heal our hurts, and I am continually overwhelmed by all that He has brought into my life, and more often than not, I feel so incredibly undeserving.

But for tonight, I am enjoying our amazing new home. I am so excited for the future. For holidays. And lazy Saturdays. And rainy days. And summer cookouts. And heck–murder mystery parties 😉 (even though I am horrible at them even if I was the killer, lol!).

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

 

 

the best is yet to come

Sometimes I wish my brain would get on the same page with my schedule. Last night Graham & I headed to one of Lexington’s best coffee shops after dinner to do some writing. Since we both like to write. And blog. And drink coffee. It works 😉

Except my brain wasn’t working. Of course it would be tonight. When I should be in bed.

Oh well.

Yesterday I took myself shopping at Target for a while (as if I need to spend ANY more money, but my bed needed bedding. I figured that was pretty crucial 😉 ).

And I found this:

thebest

I came this close to not buying it, because well, I’m pretty cheap when it comes to buying things like this because they can be made so easily. But it was the first thing I saw while shopping and it stood out to me. I had already begun feeling so overwhelmed at the prospect of everything that needs to get done in the coming weeks. And making yet another transition.

Of packing mine & my girls’ lives into cardboard boxes for the second time in six months.

But I saw this phrase painted on that piece of wood. And it reminded me of two of my favorite verses during this season of change, of healing, and redemption.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19

So I bought the piece. It was worth the $$. I want to see this reminder always. Because I am sure there will be days to come when I forget. When I let stress, and fear, and worry, and pettiness creep into my heart, and I need to remember…the best is yet to come.

God is doing a new thing.

I am moving out of this apartment a different girl then when I moved in. I moved in defeated, broken, with my life in pieces and feeling as if I’d be this way forever. I am leaving still with scars. No one escapes life without those. And yes, at times I still feel defeated. But I have learned that spirit does not come from above. HE is making my life into something beautiful despite my mess. And I am beyond excited about that.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. -Psalm 103: 1-5

Bless our God, O’ peoples! Give Him a thunderous welcome! Didn’t He set us on the road to life? Didn’t He keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside & out, took us to hell and back; finally he brought us to this well-watered place. -Psalm 66: 8-12

I am excited to move out of here. I am excited to see what’s next. Excited that the girls will have a yard again. We can draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Faith has a place now to ride her jeep, Zoe has a place to practice her walking. I will no longer wake them both up just by turning on the coffee pot. No more fire alarms going off when I want to make pancakes 😉

And at the end of the day, I can turn on the fireplace, snuggle up with the ones I love most, and be thankful 🙂

And…if anyone feels extra giving this week, we could use prayers for a smooth move. Pray that our transition is a smooth one. That my ladies feel settled into their new spaces. That any feelings of being uprooted yet again would be diminished by the excitement of having THEIR OWN ROOM!! That I will maintain my sanity in the midst of moving chaos. And be able to still balance working full-time hours, and now managing not one but two house payments. Oh yeah–PLEASE. Pray for a buyer for the old house. It is currently the thorn in my side 😉

G’night ya’ll! Till next time 🙂

late night musings…again

Every day I sign my name & date on prescriptions for patients. I am so accustomed to it that I never pay it much thought.

Except today for some reason.

It hit me that it’s October. October is always a bittersweet month for me. For one, it is my sweetest Zoe’s birthday. It is also the anniversary of when I began my journey with her and with spina bifida. It is also the anniversary of when I lost my dad. This year makes 13 years ago when I was 19 and a freshman in college.

It also hit me that I turn 32 next month. Eight years away from 40. Holy cow.

All of these realizations brought back to my attention that my life is no where near what or where I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong–I am in a MUCH (repeat–MUCH!) better place than I was last winter. In fact–I am finally at the point where I can honestly say I would not change my circumstances. It was what had to be. I am thankful for how God is molding me and even though I don’t know the entire outcome, I am learning to trust His plan.

But how do you take away or dull the sting of the past?

How do you forget that your plan was to be happily married with a husband who was crazy in love with you and vice versa? That you wanted to be someone’s everything and him be yours? But when it came down to it, you realize none of it was reality.

How do you dull the sting of the memories of where your child spent her first week of life, and rid yourself of how bad it felt to hand her over to the surgeons time after time?

How do you force yourself to look at Halloween as the awesome holiday it is-dressing up (which I love and my costume is awesome this year, btw 😉 ), trick-or-treating, candy…instead of being overshadowed by the memory of where you were that morning in a college dorm when you were told the news about your beloved daddy?

How do you stop wanting to ball your hands into fists, throw them down like a child having a temper tantrum (which Faith is EXCELLENT at 😉 ), and ask God when is it enough? Why? What are You doing?

How do you re-learn how to trust again? How do you allow yourself to accept the risk of getting hurt when you know all too well how that feels and you don’t want to ever feel like that again?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t spend all my time throwing a self-made pity party drowning my sorrows. In fact, all of those circumstances above I wouldn’t change. Because I lost my dad, I got an amazing step-dad. The best of the best. Because of my sweet Zoe, well, there are countless ways I have been changed for the better. She is an amazing gift despite the hardship of our journey. And as a result of my unforeseen divorce? Well, that is a work in progress but I am for certain it is for the best and that our gracious Lord is creating a beautiful work out of a broken mess 🙂

But still…when the house is quiet, empty, or dark, and you sit in the silence, sometimes it’s hard to keep your mind from wandering.

Tonight I have been plundering through the scriptures. My mind feels as if it has been all over the place lately and I am searching for peace. For reassurance. I ran across these verses and they are so true!

Bless our God, O’ peoples! Give Him a thunderous welcome! Didn’t He set us on the road to life? Didn’t He keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside & out, took us to hell and back; finally he brought us to this well-watered place.

Psalm 66:8-12

I am thankful to have found this verse. Because I feel like this is exactly what He has done in my life. Perhaps all of the past WAS training. I was not the woman I needed to be for NOW. Refining fires aren’t meant to be fun, you know. I do feel I have been pushed to my limit (maybe beyond 😉 ), road-tested, been to hell and back. But what I love is the last part of that verse—“…FINALLY he brought us to this well-watered place.”

I pray I can stay in this well-watered place. Don’t we all? Who wants to volunteer for crappy life situations to happen to them? Not me. I wouldn’t have willingly chosen to lose my daddy, have my child be born with spina bifida, and find myself divorced by age 31. Geez. But I also know that my goal in life is not to sit in my comfy perfect life twiddling my thumbs until I die. Nope. I want my life to count. I want to be used up. Poured out. So I suppose this is part of it. I don’t want my life to end and regret that I wasted it.

I love this quote and I have it pinned up in my kitchen. And yeah, I have to remind myself of it quite often. Especially on nights like tonight when honestly, I just get a bit ticked off at my circumstances & I am tempted to once again tell God that it’s not fair. But really, I don’t want what’s FAIR. He is giving me way more than I deserve…

But this I do know: There is a depth of intimacy with God that can only be known through suffering. There is a reliance on Him that can only be experienced when everything else in my soul seems to give way. And if that’s what it takes to make this stubborn child cling to that old rugged cross, you can have your prosperity. I’d rather have Jesus.

Laura Story

half-marathon prep day 1

Ok, so it’s not really day 1 because I have already been running and ran a few 5K’s. But today is the first day I am actually documenting my run. I want to keep track of my progress. I like looking back and seeing how far I’ve made it.

Today’s run was at one of my favorite parks in Lexington. It has a track that runs around the perimeter with a distance of 0.88 miles. On one hand, I hate knowing how far I’ve run when I’m in the middle of it, but on the other hand, it kind of motivates me knowing my progress en route.

I meant to head out the door extra early, to try to get a good start before the sun was really warming things up. But like always, I wasted time 😉 The girls & I did manage to get out the door though in a respectable time frame, so I can’t really complain.

What I ran today:

* Distance: 4.29 miles

* Pace: 14:18/mile

* Duration: 1:01:29

Today was my best distance EVER. My pace was slower (but apparently when trying to increase your mileage you don’t want to simultaneously be trying to increase speed as well!). Today was a long run for me, and so I ran it slower at a pace that I could carry on a conversation with. It took me an hour because I had to stop just a couple times–my Spotify shut down (and I’m not motivated as much to run without music!), I had calf cramps so I stopped to stretch out my calves, and those sorts of things added up.

I am learning a bit more about my running habits. I have figured out that somewhere between my first & second mile of running, I am always tempted to quit. I can rationalize it in my mind so easily. My calves hurt too much. I’m too pressed for time. It’s too warm outside. Too windy. There are excuses every where, for every situation, and we will find them if we are looking to justify our actions.

I am also learning how to not give in to those excuses.

Today I kept running. Partly because I didn’t want to feel the sting of disappointment I’d feel in myself if I didn’t make it to 4 miles. Partly because I had Map My Run going and I like the satisfaction I get from seeing improvements in my running. Partly because I like how my mind just wanders when I am running. I contemplate so many things when I am out there alone. I like it when my pace falls in sync with my music (that one’s crazy, I know 😉 )

And then there was the cute little old man with the cane. He would raise his cane in the air every time I made another lap and give me a thumbs-up. I could squeeze him up he was so stinkin’ cute 🙂 There was another cute little old man who counted my laps each time I went around the track. It sort of kept me motivated having them cheer me on.

And then after I finished running, my dear friend Colleen who is the Executive Director of the Spina Bifida Association of KY (SBAK) and was my lifesaver during my pregnancy with Zoe, messaged me to see if I’d be interested in running the Derby Half for Team SB. OF COURSE!!! I do have to do some fundraising, so don’t be surprised to see me on here begging ya’ll to show some more love to my sweet Zoe and sponsor the half marathon. Just get ready. Besides, the proceeds go to support both the SBAK and the national spina bifida association. Good causes to empty those pockets to 😉

So there’s that. I am off to bed feeling pretty satisfied with my progress. I have almost six months to go before my first half, and I feel more confident now that I will be ready. And my mind is already cranking…if I am able to run two half marathons in 2014, maybe I could manage a full in 2015?

Guess I shouldn’t jump the gun though. Let’s do this first. Heard this quote from my favorite person in the world and loved it, so I’ll share…”don’t anticipate, just participate.”

Just enjoying the run, ya’ll.