Monday, November 24, 2014

Is Seeing Believing... Or is Believing Seeing?

I was slipping. I knew I was. 
I couldn't remember the last time I read my Bible or prayed. Church was becoming monotonous. When I would cry to God, I felt like my prayers were bouncing back into my face. So many things had and were still changing. I was overwhelmed. I was depressed. I was stressed. I was bitter. I was doubting. I just wanted confirmation. Confirmation that God hadn't forgotten me, hadn't forgotten my family, or our circumstances. Yet, I was getting nothing from God. The longer I went without feeling him, without him giving me that confirmation I was longing for, the more cold I got. I was losing my faith in people, in church, AND in God. 

I wish I could say I handled it better than I did. I wish I could say that I bounced back quickly. I wish I could say that I hadn't  been a complete stubborn mule. 

But I can't. 

It was then I questioned....

Is seeing believing?
Is believing seeing?

I was no longer sure. 

Looking back, I can see all of the warning signs God had been sending my way. At the time I'd brushed them off to coincidence or randomness. 

I can't recall how many times, throughout my life, I've heard the warnings preached about losing yourself. I've listened, most the time halfheartedly, about what could happen when your walk with God becomes shaky and ignored. It was like a cloud hanging over my head most of my life, because it felt threatening. It felt that if I got out of the will of God, that he would strike me down and take everything from me.

Even with all of that in my head, I knew I was losing the battle of optimism and faith. I knew I had my daughter to think of, my husband and our marriage, my lost loved ones, etc. Yet, it didn't seem as if anything could drag me from the mire of doubt and anger that I had gotten stuck in.

It wasn't until my lowest point that I realized just how far I'd gone in my doubt and bitterness. Just how lost I'd gotten in my anger and apathy. 

That is when it hit me, and I knew then, that if I didn't do something, I was going to lose, not just my walk with God and my faith in him, not just my loved ones, not just the security and peace over my husband, daughter and family, but I was going to lose myself.

With all of the changes that had occurred, I already felt lost. However, I knew that if I walked away from Him (God), that would be my downfall. After all, I was raised on faith in God and having a relationship with him. I was raised on leaning on him, and him being as much apart of you in your life as any family, friend, etc. It was in that time that I realized just how much apart of me he was. My identity was in him. And if I lost him, I lost who I was. 

So I started praying to him

*Side none*
For those of you who were raised to think, like me, that your praying has to be done on your knees for an hour for God to hear you... that isn't true.

I prayed to him as I held my sleeping daughter. I prayed to him in the car, while I was driving from one place to another. I prayed to him when I was laying in the bed at night. I told him how sorry I was for my mistakes. I told him how broken I felt. I didn't know exactly what to do to get back on track. 

I mean... is it really that easy to just... start over?

All I could think was how, in our lives, saying "I'm sorry" doesn't always fix things. 
It doesn't erase the words or actions. 
It just meant you acknowledged the hurt of those words or actions and felt remorse for them. 

Of course, God isn't on the same petty, human level that we are....

I remember a song that PCD (Phillips, Craig, and Dean) sang a long time ago, that I would sing in church. 

I thought that I had crossed the line
Walked away from love one time
Too many
I thought I'd used up all the grace
Set aside for my mistakes
So many

On my knees I found to my surprise
That your mercy renewed with the sunrise

You make Your mercy new every day...

How beautifully true this is... 
After all, didn't Jesus make the statement...

"For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins..." -Matthew 9:4-6. 

So is it really that easy to say "Lord I am sorry", and start over?
Yes.... yes it is. 

When we feel like it isn't, then it's not because God doesn't forgive us. 
It's because we don't forgive ourselves. 
We remember every downright, dirty deed. 
We remember every thought. 
We remember every angry word spoken. 
We remember every action. 

Thankfully, God doesn't. 

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
-Proverbs 103:12

So, while our memory is still fully intact, God has already forgotten it.
He has taken the chalkboard, so to speak, and has cleaned off all the dirty residue left from the chalk, and has made you squeaky clean again. 

Then it is up to you.

So, as I previously mentioned, I started praying. I picked up my Bible, and wiped the dust from it. 
I needed faith. I had a husband to encourage. I had a daughter to be an example to, though, she is still too young to understand. There were decisions I needed direction on. There was peace I needed to grasp a hold of. Did I mention needing faith?

Sometimes the journey back is instantaneous. You get your lightening bolt, and pick up where you left off. Other times, God wants you repaired slowly. God wants to know that you are willing to try. He can't always give you the lightening bolt, because then you will need to see to believe, when we all know that seeing doesn't always keep you believing. 

After all, the Israelite's saw the mighty works performed by God through Moses so that they could be led from Egypt. It wasn't long after that, when the "lightening bolts" were gone, that doubt set in. 

So... God has begun repairing me slowly. Though I had wanted the lightening bold as confirmation for so long, I am now content with my quiet moments. I'm content with the little bits of goodness and validation he drops on me when I least expect it. 

Do I still have problems, insecurities, trials, get angry, etc?
You betcha. 

But I'm finding my peace.
I'm finding my joy. 
I am looking at my life again with happiness. 
I finding courage, where it was previously missing. 

I don't have all of the answers.
But I know they will come in time. 
Or they may not, who knows God's reasoning. 
I just know that, whether I get the answers I want, I will trust him to know what he is doing.

I said all that I have, to say this...

When in anger,
When in bitterness,
When in doubt,
Seeing isn't believing.
That mentality will only leave you disappointed.
However.... When you believe without seeing, then that belief opens your eyes to things you couldn't see before. 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's All About the Balance

It has been forever, since I've been on my blog. Nearly a year to be exact. Sad I know, but apparently, life happens, and you end up trying to find a new balance. Like right now, I should be doing school work, since I am still working on getting my Bachelor's degree. Except, my baby girl is still up. At this very moment she is crying in her crib, because she has already drank all of her bottle (for the second time) and is refusing to go to sleep, though she is tired. 

Needless to say, my school work isn't getting done. It is hard enough to focus on textbook jargon  when it is quiet, much less when your baby is crying and you are fighting the internal battle being waged of whether or not you should go give in and just rock her to sleep, or let her realize that it is okay for her to go to sleep by herself... without mommy. It is a battle I fight regularly... again... balance. 

Being a Mommy, Wife, Student, etc. is all about balance. After six years of college, three years of marriage, and one year of being a mommy, I have yet to really find it. 

That is okay, though. I am slowly learning. Thankfully, I've had help throughout the process. I'm not sure what I would have done without a very supportive husband and family. 

To all of you mommies who are just trying to manage life and trying to find that right balance... keep your head up. Sometimes the beauty of life is in the madness of it all. 

FYI... I lost the battle and rocked my baby to sleep... there's always tomorrow for her to learn ;)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Birthday Fun

Happy Tuesday Everyone!
I hope everyone is having a great week so far!
I must say, today is a much better day than yesterday was.
I totally bombed a test yesterday and then my baby had to have her four month shots. :(
What was even worse, was that it all happened on my husbands birthday!
I was totally stressed about my test and worried about finishing in time to take my baby to the doctor that I totally forgot to wish him Happy Birthday yesterday morning. I know... I should be wife of the year!
At least we got to celebrate his birthday on Saturday!
He turned the big 25, and this year I have celebrated four birthday's with him!
We threw him a "Gone Fishin" party Saturday evening.

I didn't get to put as much into it as I wanted because of finances, but It turned out pretty good.
The most important thing was that my husband had a good time!
How do you manage throwing a party on a budget! Any advice, for future reference, would be great!  :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

This and That

So I've been pretty much out of the blogger world since October, other than the letter to my  mom that I wrote a few days ago. I must say I have missed it. There are times you just need an outlet, whether a creative one, a venting one, an FYI one... whatever the case, sometimes you just need somewhere to let it all out. At least I do.
I couldn't possibly catch everyone up on all that has happened since my hiatus. So I won't even try. Better to just start fresh.
My day has consisted, mostly, of this little monkey.

Yes, I am the mother of a four month old -as of this coming Friday-, and Yes... she has found her toes. LOL
It is so funny watching her chew on her own little toesies! 

Addison and mommy
At the moment, I should be doing  some school work for my online classes. My brain is fried, though. Today has been long, so I'm pushing it off until tomorrow. Maybe I'll be able to work on it in between naps for my baby girl. It doesn't help that nap times only last about thirty to forty-five minutes at a time. She takes after her mommy. Mommy didn't like naps, either.
On top of entertaining my demanding little diva, I was working on a grocery list.

Yes, I coupon! Since I quit my  job to stay at home with Addison, our grocery budget is down to $60 a week. That includes, food, cleaning products, personal products, baby products, etc. When I'm going big on diapers, I usually exclude that out of my weekly budget. Needless to say, it is challenging to keep under $60, but I manage, for the most part. Shopping sales, and using those little babies has helped me keep my budget tremendously! I even managed to get two All Free and Clear laundry detergent for free a few weeks ago.
My husband told me tonight that he had told some of his co-workers at work that our grocery bill was sixty a week and they were impressed. I won't lie... it made me feel pretty good. Some days you just want to feel like you can do something right, when  you feel like you do everything else wrong.
The highlight of my day, other than watching my princess rolling from her back to her tummy constantly, was my Temptations dishes that I received from UPS this afternoon. My grandmother got sick of hearing me and my sister fight over who was getting her set, so she bought each of us our own set. I have the best grandmother, I swear it.
Aren't they gorgeous?!? I can't wait to put these babies to good use! Now I just have to clean out a cabinet to put them in... Dun... Dun.... Dunnn!
I hope everyone had a happy Monday! :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

It is the end of another day, and instead of doing school, like I should be doing, I find myself writing you this letter instead.

At this moment, my own baby girl -who has already woke up three times since eight o'clock- is snuggled in her little bed asleep. It has reached that time in the day that, no matter how rewarding being a stay at home mother is, I am glad my little angel is asleep. So while she is sleeping, for the moment, I just want to take the time to thank you.

I never really understood what being a mother was. Yes, I heard about it, the rewards and downsides, and yet it never really hits you until you are a full time stay at home mom yourself. Now, though, I know first hand.

I know now that the first few months of my own life, you probably didn't get much sleep either. There were days you probably just wanted to give the "time out" signal and take five, or ten, or an hour, and you probably felt bad about feeling that way, too. You probably felt like a human bottle and pacifier, if I was indeed as bad as you say I was with breastfeeding. Again... I know first hand how you feel now, and apologize for not taking a bottle.

You probably felt like a human burp-rag, a professional diaper changer, and a hobo some days from not having the time to fix your own hair. Between baby duties, house duties, and wifely duties, I can imagine that most days you felt lucky to have ten minutes of uninterrupted shower time.

I know I already said thank you, but I feel it is necessary to say it again.... Thanks Mom.

Thank you for the time you spent caring for me. For changing my diaper. Holding me when I cried. For playing "peek-a-boo". For the stories you read, the songs you sang, and the silly noises you made up hoping it would stop me from fussing. Thank you for the hours -if I was anything like Addy- you spent trying to get me to sleep... and to keep me asleep. Thank you for the feedings, the interrupted "me" time, and for doing it day after day.

As a stay-at-home-mom now, I can tell you that you job was taken way too lightly. You made sure we were taken care of, the house was clean (or as clean as you could keep it that day), that supper was on the table for dad, and then made sure you spent QT with him as well. You are one amazing woman, and I pray every day to be the mother and wife that you are.

I love you so much.

Thanks again,

-Your Daughter

My 3 month old... Addison Emmalee

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Waiting Game (Update)

Hey Guys! 

I just wanted to give you guys and update, and let you all know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I am still here! With that being said, I'm not 38 weeks and 3 days, and have fallen into that stage where I'm pretty much miserable and exhausted all the time. All of you mommy's know what I'm talking about. 

I'm pretty much playing the waiting game, and my little Appleseed is determined to do the opposite of what mommy says, already. It honestly feels like my days are dragging, and I've just been too tired and out of it to really post anything of interest, though I do have a few future posts coming up on Improvising-Cooking Edition and a "Off the Top of My Head" Desert, coming soon. It may be after she is born, though, we'll just have to see. 

Anyways, I hope everyone is doing great! And I'll be posting again a little more consistently soon! :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Oh The Love...

Hello All! 
Happy Friday!

This week has felt super long.... just like last week did. I hope this isn't becoming a pattern. I'm 36 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and now that I'm down to the wire, I do not need my weeks/days/hours/minutes/or seconds dragging. At least until my little Addy finally decides to come out. Then it can slow back down. But until then, can we keep it moving, please!?!

Anyways, this week I've been....tired. That's pretty much it. I've been tired on top of tired. I've only been working half days, and every day I would go home and take a nap, only to go back to bed with my husband by 10 o'clock each night. Anything beyond cooking supper has been a trial for me. I digress. 

Yesterday my mom and I were talking on the way to my sister's house about love and affection in marriage. My parents have been married 30 years (31 years this November), and I when I'm visiting at their house I'm still having to remind them that "hello I'm in the room... you can stop groping each other now".  We all laugh and make funny jokes and innuendos (yes even my dad and mom). We are all pretty open. 

The truth is, though, I love knowing that after thirty years my parents still show that kind of affection, whether we are there or not. I remember growing up, riding in the car, and watching my dad reach over and take my mom's hand, or vice versa. I remember my daddy coming in from work, saying hello to her and giving her a kiss. I remember times where he'd tickle her, making her scream and laugh so hard until she was out of breath. 

As we were talking about love and affection, I made the statement that I thought it was good for me and my brother and sister to see that growing up, to see our parents still in love and affectionate towards each other. And I'm not talking about that overwhelming emotion you have when you are first together and every moment feels like you are walking on air. I'm talking about true love...

The love that has you snuggling closer to your husband, even when the two of you have felt distant.
The love that has your husband still kissing you years later the way he did when you were dating. 
The love the makes you want to give or do for that person just to make their day a little better.
The love that has you forgiving through the hurt.
The love that is still there after arguments and aggravation.
The love that is still there two, ten, or thirty years after marriage.
The love that is still there after your kids are grown and gone.

This kind of love comes with another component called commitment. 

I'm pretty sure since my mid-teens, my mom has spoken to me about the word commitment on several occasions, admitting that she didn't always "feel" the love for my daddy, but the commitment she made to him held them through those times. I've seen the days where I could have sworn they would bite each other's heads off fo real! And then the next day he was coming up behind her in the kitchen and wrapping his arms around her. 

I felt sad when my husband and I, about a year into our marriage, began losing that "overwhelming love" as life intruded. I see now it was a slow fade, and I hated when it happened. It made me feel like I'd lost him or that I was losing him. The truth is we were being brought out of something that would never last,  and into the beginning of something, that with work, would last a lifetime. 

Change is never easy, especially not in your relationship with your spouse. But the truth is you will go through changes in life that will put a strain on your relationship. You won't feel close, you won't feel that overwhelming emotion, you will go to bed without getting or giving a kiss goodnight, or even touching. However, I am finding that it is through these changes that love doesn't always come in overwhelming waves of passion. Sometimes love comes in subtle ripples. 

You know what is significant about those subtle ripples... is that it starts out from something small... and grows. 

Like when I'm sitting on the couch beside him massaging his legs because they are sore from being on them all day, and all he does is look at me and I see his love and thanks in his eyes...and all because I'm doing something so small as massaging his legs without him even having to ask. 

Like when I walk into the house after being out and he has washed the dishes and cleaned off the table so that I wouldn't have to when I got home. 

Like when he gets up and goes to work (a job he isn't liking and where he works with a bunch of but heads), when I know he'd rather just not. But he does it for us, and it reminds me of one of the reasons I fell in love with him. 

Like when we are laying in the bed, snuggled up beside each other, and begin walking down memory lane... Our first kiss (the best first kiss I'd ever had), the first time we went out (Which gave us our mutual love for Despicable Me), when he poked me with a fork at rally (his idea of flirting, and I loved it), the first time we traveled to his parents together, the day we got married, our honeymoon, our first fight and how we both apologized afterwards and held onto each other.

It is in these moments where God imperceptibly drops small pebbles of feeling and commitment into our hearts. The ripples from those pebbles form and grow, bringing back that more subtle, but nonetheless, overwhelming love, reminding you all over again why you committed yourself to that person to begin with.

I may not have been the most beautiful of choices or the smartest.
I may not have been the one with the best personality or the best singer.
But my husband fell in love and committed himself to me.
I don't want to ever take that for granted.

In 30 years...
When the years have aged us,
When we are watching our children have children,
When the world around us has completely changed and evolved,
When our memories may be blurred, but not forgotten,
that my husband and I still feel those ripples and fall in love with each other all over again.