December 31, 2012

Looking back

In 2012.....

I was kind to myself with greater consistency.
I began to believe more truth and I renounced more lies.
My writing was written with more depth, feeling and heart.
I had a more normal relationship with food and remained binge-free all year.
I saw relationships heal and grow - especially with my Robin and my sister and dad. 
I took on full-time hours at work.
I led a Journey Group for women at my church.
I turned 31.
My relationship with Jesus felt like a relationship - I stayed near and close.
My marriage nearly fell apart.  BUT GOD....
I owned up to where I had done damage and asked God to let me really see my husband.
I saw my marriage spring back to life. 
We fell in love all over again.
I said goodbye to more friends that moved away.
I let myself feel,  even the hard things, and didn't buckle under the weight of it.
We cut up our credit cards.
I endured disappointment after disappointment in regards to a job change for Todd.
We played in the rain together.
We had a weekend getaway to celebrate six years of marriage and much life lived together.
We jumped.
I enjoyed life-long friendships.
I felt more comfortable in my own skin and who I am as a woman.
I learned that I was going to be a mommy all over again.
I stood in my cousin's wedding.
I danced.
I began ministry with the youth group at our church and remembered how awesome teens are.
I survived Tommy's fractured arm and his first cast - at three years old.
We sold things and got rid of unnecessary clutter and made room.
I celebrated the news of another healthy baby boy.
 I fought fear and began to trust God in new places.
My parents watched Tommy for us - it was the first time I had ever asked.
I decorated my home for fall and Christmas without buying anything new - and I was content.
I got my Gramma back.
I took a picture of my pregnant belly - on purpose.
We made new friends.
We asked hard questions and said hard things.
We celebrated, wept, prayed, cried, rejoiced, longed for more, and laughed.
We lived and learned and grew.

Looking back, what I see most is where He was in all things.  Where God held us and how He sustained us.  Where He pursued my heart and where I leaned in to Him and His care.  Where he blessed us and made Himself more real.  Where He was invited in and how nearness to Jesus was what made my year not only bearable, but full of sweetness and memories. 

My Poppy said something very wise once.  He doesn't think that God should come first in our lives as if He was some kind of priority.  God should be at the center of everything in our lives - a part of everything we do.  He should be at the center of our marriage, how we parent, in our relationships, in our jobs and homes.  Not first and foremost, but at the center of all it.  This year I truly began to ask Him to be that for me - my center.  To be in all things with me.  
And indeed, He was.

Without You, I fall apart.
You're the One who guides my heart.
Lord I need You - every hour I need You.
If my year had a theme song, it would be this one.  May I always need God in every year.

December 28, 2012

A letter for mom


You missed my first great love and you weren't there when he died and I thought I might too.

You missed my nineteenth birthday and my twenty-sixth and my thirty-first and all of those in between.

You weren't there when my shady boyfriend stole all of my money and left me owing thousands.

You missed seeing me off to my amazing trip to Israel.

You weren't here when I bleached my hair blonde and did a million wretched things because I was hurting so badly and was so very angry at God.

You weren't here to watch me meet Todd and fall in love with a man I never expected to fall in love with.  You missed the night we got engaged and celebrated downtown, my five-stone diamond ring sparkling as bright as our eyes did.

You missed my bridal showers and my wedding day and seeing me in a wedding dress that I didn't really like. 

You haven't been here to talk to about marriage and what your experience was like.  You've missed watching me struggle and flourish in my own.

You weren't here when I was told I had PCOS and that it would be a "miracle" if I ever got pregnant.  You missed it when I would cry every month my period would arrive and my hopes for having a baby would be crushed.

You missed it when that hundredth pregnancy test finally came back positive and I got to announce that finally, at last, I was going to be a mommy.  You weren't here to get to be a Grandma.

You missed my first pregnancy and now my second.  You haven't been here to ask questions and put me at ease when I want to panic about every strange thing my body is doing.

You haven't been here to see the FREE me. 

You weren't here to see me dance my ass off for the very first time.  I danced and danced for hours and it was glorious.  And now I dance any chance I can get.

You've missed seeing how God would bring healing to my heart.  How He would give me peace and restore relationships and make things new.

You've missed countless family gatherings and trips to the zoo and watching me freak out about finding my first few gray hairs. 

You haven't been here for twelve Mother's Days and thirteen Christmases. 

Perhaps you can see and you have seen everything from Heaven.  I like to think that you can look down and have a view in to my life - or that you have some way of knowing.  It brings my hurting heart comfort to think about what your face would be like for me when I struggle or I'm sad or when I'm experiencing victory or feeling joy.   The deepest parts of me know that for all I've done and been through that you are so very proud.  And you should be proud too - because you had a hand in shaping me.

But you haven't been here.  You've missed out and so have I.  You've missed watching me grow into the woman I am today.  There will forever be a void - a hole that you left and no one else can fill.  What is true is that I was deeply impacted by your life and your story and all that you were and weren't to me - I still am.  You may be gone and you may have been gone for thirteen years, but your memory and the place that I hold it in my heart is still very much with me. And I hope that it always is.

Missing you this day.  I ache for Heaven and the moment I finally see you again.  When there will be no more missing out and no more missing you.


December 27, 2012

An unusual anniversary

It's been one year.  One entire year of not binging.  Of not opening up my pantry and my fridge and consuming everything I could until my stomach would hurt and I could barely breathe.  It's been an entire year of having a more normal and healthy relationship with food.  It hasn't been perfect and there is still room for much improvement.  Yet, today is a day to celebrate progress.

My last binge was December 26, 2011.  It was the day I realized that the cloud and the shift I wrote about yesterday came on Christmas day and I was doing what I usually did when I felt intense emotion - eating, and eating a lot so that I didn't have to feel any of it. 

Throughout this last year, I've over-eaten some and I haven't made the best food choices either.  But it's been a binge-free year for me.  It's been a year to see recognizable progress where my eating is so much more normal than it's been since before I can even remember.   For a disordered eater to see where you eat normal portions and have normal meal-times and eat until you feel that normally full-feeling on a very regular and daily basis - it's a big deal.  The therapist I spent most of my year with last year would tell you that.

I've learned in the last year that I can feel.  That pain and suffering and disappointment won't do me in if I allow myself to feel them rather than check out entirely.  

I've learned to say goodbye and grieve and even endure a crisis like my marriage almost ending without turning to food to medicate with.  

I've learned to really hate the overly full feeling my stomach gets from eating too much.  The times I've over eaten have left me physically miserable and it's a feeling in my body I don't care to feel anymore.  It might be weird to admit that I somehow enjoyed that feeling I would get, but I did.  

I've learned to run to God and talk to Him daily about what I need, what I'm feeling and where I'm at.  With all that this year has come with, I've remained close to Him.  Even in my anger and confusion, I stayed in relationship with Him and kept the conversation going.  I believe that it's truly by His mercy and grace, that I've finally been able to let go of damaging ways and surrender to my need for Him and His care.

What's ironic is that I have nothing to show for my progress when it comes to my physical body.  I'm overweight and pregnant and of course losing weight is a bit difficult.  Even so, I know there is progress even if no one else can see it or knows that it's there.  And perhaps that's good for me.  To acknowledge and recognize progress outside of what shows up in the mirror. 

I've been healing from the inside.  The outside will soon follow - of that I am sure.

I want to remember this day as there could be another binge in my future.  I could have a slip.  Yet, I have so much hope.  For my body and my eating disorder and how my relationship with food is changing.  There is something to celebrate and today I am claiming victory for having a binge-free year. 

Would you celebrate with me today? 

Happy one year binge-free anniversary to me!

December 26, 2012

The Shift

The day after Christmas is my very least favorite day of every year.  Regardless of whether or not I have to work (and I do this year), the day just feels like a drag.  All of the merry-making has come to a close and the decorations and leftover sugar cookies feel suffocating rather than inviting.  Perhaps because I'm pregnant and I'm officially ready to get everything in order for Jake, I'm especially ready to usher out the holly this year.

Yesterday was....okay.  Christmas day itself always seems to be a bit anticlimactic.  It was full of wonder and sweet memories - especially with Tommy.  Yet it left me longing for more too - for more meaningful and reflective times.  I seem to always miss what isn't there.  I was feeling lousy too seeing as I'm in now for round three of this awful congestion and cough thing that has been with me now for a good chunk of my pregnancy. 

There are a few days at the very end of the year though that bring with it this great shift within my spirit.  December 28th is the anniversary of my mom's death and it's something that I have always felt with great depth.  My soul feels sad and unsettled and it was last year that I recognized that this great dark cloud, this shifting, comes not on her death date or the day after Christmas....but on Christmas day itself.  

Last year was the first year that I really took care of myself in this familiar darkness that I find myself in every year.  Instead of eating and numbing out to my pain though I let myself cry.  I watched a sad movie and took a long bath and I wrote some.  I made myself a mug of hot coffee and I let myself sit in quiet and feel and just be.  In addition to that, I accepted an invitation by my step-mom last year to go over and sit with her and we ended up having the most honest, healing conversation we've ever had in all of the years of knowing each other. 

Grief remains the same.  The loss of my mother and all that we didn't have when she was alive and all of the memories that never will be, they weigh heaviest on me these few days every year - so close to Christmas and times that are full of so much fun and memory-making.  But how I respond to it is changing.

I'm learning to lean in to it, press in.  To feel what is there instead of ignoring it and pushing it away.  I'm learning to acknowledge it and invite it in and let it run its course.  It's taken awhile, but I'm figuring out how to care for myself when grief comes - especially over the memory of my mom.  It's okay to be tender and vulnerable and it's okay to be that way even if it's been thirteen years since I last saw her face.

In a few days, the cloud too will pass.  My home will breathe new and clean with Christmas put away and the preparations for my second child will be well underway.  And I will have felt what I needed to and been kind to my heart.  Because my Jesus has brought healing to me even though He has never taken away the sting and ache of grief. 

And another shift, another wave, another page will turn.

December 24, 2012


The cookies are baked and decorated.

A little boy is bored out of his mind waiting for Christmas to finally get here.  He keeps asking when it will snow.  Do you think it could happen in 70 degree weather?

I'm cleaning and cooking and preparing for tonight's Christmas Eve dinner and celebration with Todd's parents - the new tradition we started last year.

When I stop to rest in between all that needs to be done today, my littlest one kicks and moves within me reminding me of miracles and healing and all that I have to treasure this Christmas.
Tomorrow we will awake and spend the morning with my parents and siblings.  It's something we haven't done with them in four very long years.
The anticipation is absolutely glorious. 

And my heart is unbelievably, overwhelmingly, about-to-burst-with-joy full.

December 21, 2012

When Christmas found me

Some of the things that were on my mind and heart and plate have passed.  The doctor's appointment (where I had to do a three hour blood glucose test) I was dreading is done and over.  We have an official "plan" for Christmas now.  And I cancelled the cookie decorating event with my family last night because I was wiped out after my appointment and decided there was no way I could roll out cookies and put them in and take them out of the oven all day long.  It was disappointing to cancel, yet it was kind for my body and my heart too. 

After a lengthy nap yesterday, our little family of three headed out to have dinner together and went to look at Christmas lights in a neighborhood that is famous for doing it BIG every year.

See what I mean?
I haven't gone looking at Christmas lights since I was young.  I was quite little the last time I went to this very neighborhood.  I may have even said something to Todd last night starting with the phrase, "Well, twenty-something years ago...."   Wow, I'm old.
Tommy was absolutely in awe of how much there was to see.  Some things were animated, some yards played music.  Some things were handcrafted and homemade and were quite unique.  I loved hearing him in the backseat squeal with excitement and wonder.  It made my mother's heart full and left me with much to treasure.
I felt like a kid again.  When life felt simple and magical and was full of twinkle lights in December.  When you feel safe and loved and it feels like ages before Christmas day will finally arrive and you can finally tear into that one big present under the tree that has your name on it.
My heart feels changed this Christmas.  It's been changed because of circumstances, both financial and physical, and how I've been forced to see things differently and do things differently than I'm used to. It's been changed because of tragedy and horrific stories of the evil in this world.  But mostly it's been changed because I've allowed my heart to journey with Jesus in new ways. I haven't shut him out.  He's been invited and wanted - maybe more than I've ever invited Him in or wanted Him with me before.  I never realized how much I left him out of my heart at Christmastime. 
I woke up early this morning - 5am to be exact - but I was feeling like me.  The me that loves baking cookies and watching Christmas movies and can't wait for the excitement that Christmas morning brings.

Maybe it was the lights.  The magic and wonder of what we saw last night that made me feel childlike and innocent.
And maybe it's been everything.  The tragedies that have made me ache and weep and have caused such tenderness in my spirit.  The gratitude I've found for what I have, especially in my little growing family.  In the relationships that have been renewed and restored to me and are evident in text messages and warm smiles and conversations.  Maybe it's been seeing where it's become easier to be kind to myself - to make kind choices for my body, for my heart and soul.  Maybe it's been the early mornings I've spent with my Savior.

Somehow all of it - every twinkle light, every tear shed, every moment spent with those that I've loved has changed me.  I do believe that the Christmas I feared was lost has been found.  I didn't find it though.

Christmas found me.

Merry Christmas to you all!

December 19, 2012

Lack of words

Writing is funny sometimes.  Last week, my words flowed with ease.  My thoughts felt cohesive and neatly packaged like a Christmas present, and the last few days I've felt like my writing mojo has taken a vacation.

I've started and stopped about half a dozen posts today.  My heart full of thoughts and feelings, and all of it calling me to rest and spend some time in prayer and solitude.  I've been swirling in the wake of last weeks horrific shooting.  In the stress that planning Christmas day feels like.  In my disappointments over the season and the every-day worries that seem to increase with carrying a baby.  I've noticed that when I have too much going on inside of me, it's often times an invitation from God to slow down and talk to Him about it all.  To name those things one by one and create space for calm where there has been only chaos.

Maybe that's all that needs saying today.  My heart is full and I need some space to sort through some of those things and just be for a while.

And a slower-paced Christmas allows for the time to do that.... 

December 17, 2012

Because I Could

Our little family stayed in on Friday night.  I plugged in White Christmas and played with toy trucks on the floor with my boy.  Todd grilled some steak on our fire-pit and later we roasted marshmallows.

I held my three year old miracle close to me.  I cried some as I thought of the moms and dads in Connecticut who couldn't do what we were doing that night because their children had been taken from them.  My heart was broken.  Some tragedies hit you deeply even if it doesn't directly happen to you. 

But the weekend was spent staying close it seemed.

I held my boy tight and let him stay up past his bed time because he asked to snuggle with me. 
I read him extra books and played more games.  We baked cookies and made play dough creations.
There were moments that I kissed his sweet head with tears in my eyes.  Just because he was there and he was safe and he was with us.  And because I can't even begin to imagine my son being torn away from me in such a quick scene of terrifying violence. 
I don't think I take Tommy's life with us for granted.  I feel as though normally I enjoy him and feel the impact of his life on ours deeply.  Even still, the tragedy of Friday's horrific elementary school shooting left me shaken to my core and wanting to keep him close to me.  Wanting to protect and shelter my son from every awful thing in this sad and broken world and knowing that I have absolutely no control.
And I held him and played with him and loved on him because I could.  Not everyone in our world was able to say that on Friday night. 

I hope your weekend was full of hugs and kisses and love and affection for all of those that  you hold dear and near to your heart.  That you cherished the ones you love because for the moment, they are safe and they are with you.  Love them and stay close...because for this can.

December 14, 2012

The time I took a picture of my pregnant-belly....on purpose

When I was pregnant with Tommy, I took absolutely ZERO pregnant pictures of myself. I was so incredibly ashamed of my size that I didn't want any pictures to show record of how "huge" I was.  Being very overweight and with child, I almost felt like some freak of nature and I felt like hiding most of the time, especially toward the end of my pregnancy.  I had a very hard time accepting myself and being kind to myself where I was at.

This time around, I have faced some of those familiar demons.  I've had those mornings where all of my clothes end up on the floor of my closet and I'm in tears and collapse on my bed in frustration because I'm convinced that everything looks horrible on me.  That would be quite true.  Though I think that almost every pregnant woman goes through this, overweight or not.

The food thing has been different for quite some time.  I don't eat in secret or binge anymore and over-eating is a rare occurrence.  My eating feels more normal and is slowly becoming more balanced.  I'm hopeful that things will continue as they have this year as I've been becoming a less disordered eater.

But what feels the most different for me is that I haven't carried the same shame this time around.  In some ways, it's been easier to find kindness for myself.  For my heart, for my body, and for where I am at in recovery from a nearly life-long binge eating disorder. Really, I owe all of that to the grace of God.  He has brought healing and peace and restoration to places in my heart and my story that haven't been there before.  It's changed me inside and out.

Evidence?  I took a picture of myself on purpose this morning.  Not only for me to have, but publicly for the whole world to view.  It's on Instagram and Facebook and everyone will see it - there's no hiding pregnant Jenn this time.  And actually, I don't want to hide her.
This picture makes me smile.  Because I took it and because I want to share it.  Because I know who that woman is.

She's a woman who is life-giving.  She is a woman learning to live fully in the present.  She doesn't check out of her pain.  She names truth for herself and for others.  She is fierce and she's a fighter.  She is brave.  She's a woman who will be celebrating a monumental anniversary on the 27th of December - going an entire year without having a binge.  (THIS IS A BIG FRICKIN' DEAL PEOPLE!  WHO-HOO!)  She's a woman who is closer to Jesus than she's ever been.  She is closer to her husband and allows him to enjoy her instead of pushing him away.  She's a woman that I have more kindness and acceptance and grace for.  I don't hate on her as much as I used to.  She is a mom - to one, soon to be two, beautiful boys.  She's learning to trust and rest and hope and wait because it's where God has asked her to go and how He wants her to live.

She is a woman, free from the chains of self-contempt and self-loathing.  Free to laugh loudly and dance and take pictures of her growing tummy full of life.  Growing, struggling, wrestling, and living daily in the abundant grace of God.

This is not just a picture of a pregnant belly.  It's a picture of repentance and beauty and triumph.  And a glorious page in my story that God continues to beautifully author.

December 13, 2012

Finding Christmas

Christmas was in our back seat last night singing carols in the most charming three year old voice that I've ever heard.  My heart melted a little bit and Todd and I looked at each other and smiled and laughed quietly because those are the moments of parenthood that I wish I could bottle up and save and somehow be able to relive again later.
Christmas was in the faces of five teenage girls that were delighted to see me at youth group last night.  Whose warmth and conversation and life reminded me that pouring my time into their lives is so worth it.  That giving, especially of myself, has a way of feeling like you're getting something back in return.

Christmas was in the air this morning in our chilly house.  I surrendered to the heater and my home filled with that familiar smell that comes when you turn it on for the very first time in a very long time.  It smelled like cookies and laughter and holly and merry-making.

Christmas was in the text message that I received from my sister.  Which was nothing extraordinary, but it was that she was including me in her life and updating me on her world and in that, asking for more closeness.  Relationship, real-ationship, especially with her, feels like this big humbling gift.  Probably because it has involved great cost and many years of tears and of sitting back and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Christmas was in my husband's embrace.  How I've learned to rest in his touch and have stopped pulling away when he comes to grace with me his affection and tenderness. 

I'm starting to look.  Starting to notice pieces of Christmas in places I may not have seen them before.  They've been under and over and underneath and between - small and quiet and could have gone by unseen had I not been trying to find them. 

December 12, 2012

The Grinch and me

"Pooh-pooh to the Who's!" he was grinchily humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!  They're just waking up.  I know just what they'll do.  Their mouths will hang open just a minute or two, then the Who's down in Whoville will all cry boo-hoo!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch...."That I simply must hear!"

So he paused - and the Grinch put a hand to his ear.  And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.  It started in low...then it started to grow.


But this....this sound wasn't sad.  Why....this sounded glad.  Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without any presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming.  It came!  Somehow or other, it came just the same.

"How could it be so?  It came without ribbons! came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!"

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  Maybe Christmas, he thought....doesn't come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps....means a little bit more.

Excerpts from Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Since I was a little girl this has been one of my most favorite Christmas stories.  I've watched it every year, and to be honest, I prefer the old cartoon version over the newer movie that was made.  Of course my most favorite part is the end, when the mean ol' Grinch waits expectantly to hear the anger and sadness of the Who's, and instead he hears their sweet song rising through the air and it takes him completely by surprise.  Not only do the Who's celebrate Christmas' arrival regardless of what was taken from them, but their response and ability to celebrate in their loss changes the heart of the Grinch.

I remember wondering if I could sing such a song if that happened to me.  If someone stole my Christmas and my gifts and tried to rob me of all cheer.  Could I be like the Who's on Christmas morning?

I confessed to Todd last night that Christmas doesn't feel so Christmasy because of the lack of presents.  Because we are scraping together a few gifts for Tommy and won't be buying anything else for anyone else and it feels hard when I so love the gift-buying part of the holiday.  And we know that we won't be receiving anything from parents or family either because of other reasons or circumstances.  I admitted that it felt hard and that I liked getting presents and I was feeling very selfish and horrible because I really enjoyed getting gifts as much as I do.

As I confessed what was in my heart, I was reminded of the Who's and one of my favorite Christmas stories.  And it echoed in my soul, that familiar line that finally caused the Grinch to feel something in his heart.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

This Christmas will most definitely be coming without ribbons or tags, boxes or bags.  And once again I'm seeing where God has invited me to consider Christmas outside of what I've been so used to.  Quiet and slow-paced.  Not full of presents and STUFF.

And where will my heart be?  What will I be singing come Christmas morning when it comes just the same?

December 11, 2012

Tradition and Gingerbread

Tommy and I crossed off thing #1 from my December bucket list last night.  Todd had to work late so we tackled a gingerbread house together.

The DIY houses that come in pre-made packages with specific how-to instructions are my most favorite kind.  I don't know how people make these things any other way.  I've never been brave enough to attempt a homemade one from gingerbread molds and then doing my own royal icing and all that fancy jazz.  I may be crafty, but even I have my limits.
Of course, Tommy manned the candy.  Which is the very best part of gingerbread house making.
I lost track of how many M&M's he consumed while decorating it.  He kept saying, "Wanna see a cool magic trick mom?  I can make this M&M disappear!"  And he would eat it and then proclaim, "Tada!!!" He's a genius magician I tell you.
I've been thinking about traditions and how important they feel this time of year.  How you do what you've always done because it brings a certain amount of comfort and familiarity when  you and your world are constantly changing.  They are the things you can count on when nothing else is predictable. 

I sent out a Facebook invite to my family yesterday inviting them all over for sugar cookie decorating next week.  Something I grew up doing every year with my mom and dad and brother.  And since my mom passed away and I've grown up, it's a tradition that I've kept alive.  It's important to me because it's how I remember her during the holidays.  And it's important to me because I enjoy it and the closeness I experience with sisters and cousins and parents.  It's changed and it looks different almost every year, but regardless, I make them.  I put the dough together and let it chill.  I roll them out and cut out Christmasy shapes and bake them up, so that later they can be topped with sweet icing and sprinkles. 

Perhaps every year I wonder if everyone else will have grown out of this old tradition.  If decorating cookies isn't fun anymore or if they've lost interest.  Because aren't those things only fun when you're little?  But, one by one, each family member said yes and left silly comments about cookie decorating nights past, and that feeling that comes with tradition warmed me over and settled in my heart. 

Perhaps gingerbread house-making will become a tradition with me and my boys too.  I hope so.  It's a fun and creative and you can't beat making memories like my silly magician boy left me with last night.
He was proud of our work.  Of course I helped some.  For some reason, I get most excited about creating the pathway to the house itself.  I'm sure a year will come where Tommy will put it together and decorate it all on his own with little help from me.  It's fun to imagine those times.  Mixed in with a little brother who wants in on the action too of course.

After it was completed, Tommy basically asked, "Well, what do we do with it now?"  And that was a good question, because you know what, I don't really know!  I told him we just make it to have something fun to look at and on Christmas day he can eat the candy off of it.  He wasn't satisfied with this answer and told me that it needed more work and perhaps we should make it bigger.
Sadly, all fun things have to come to an end.  The tears came from wanting to eat more candy and mean ol' mommy put it all away.
As our family grows and we build our own unique traditions together, I hope my boys will get that feeling that is there in your heart at Christmas.  That comforting, familiar, sentimental feeling that comes with gingerbread houses and sugar cookies and putting ornaments on the tree and hearing Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas" and every other thing that we will have always done together this time of year.

For now though, my son is three is the other has yet to arrive.  And the traditions I'm building and memories I'm making are mostly for me to ponder and remember and treasure in my heart for always.

December 10, 2012

This Season

I noticed last week that it was finally fall.  In some magical turn of events the trees have started to change its leaves of green to golden hues and vibrant amber and even some in delicious scarlet red.  The streets are lined with crunchy pieces of fall and the skies were the familiar gray of Autumn that somehow soothes my soul.  And in December no  less.

That's how it happens here in South Texas I just so recently learned.  While for so many other parts of the country fall begins in September, we wait and wait and wait and December finally ushers in a change of weather.  What is winter to most is our autumn.

Waiting.  That feels like the story of my life. 

I captured a bit of fall on Saturday afternoon though.  It was right there in my Gramma's front yard.
It got me thinking about seasons - and so did the rest of my weekend.  I can't seem to shake the "blues" and I think perhaps I've just surrendered to it.  I'm not depressed and it's not a darkness that's hovering over me - I know enough now to recognize the difference.  But I just feel a little sad - tears come easily.  And I've quit trying to figure out if it's pregnancy related or if it's a compilation of disappointments. This season is just where I am.  I'm tender and sad and lonely.  And maybe it's okay to not have to try and snap out of it or try and make myself "better" somehow.

I've been curious about how I might find Jesus in this season, especially since it's Christmastime.  Where is He in this slower paced Christmas?  Where is He in my loneliness?  Where is His beauty in this season? Where is He in all my feelings of being left out and forgotten?  Where is He in my waiting?  I may not find all the answers to my questions, but I'm seeking and that's probably what matters most.

Yesterday afternoon, I took a few moments to rest in my husband's arms.  The place where I feel small and safe and cared for.  He has the best arms and the best love and he is everything I need.  And I cried because this season I've found myself in feels hard and I'm scared that the next season will be worse.  Because I remember the extreme loneliness that those first several months of motherhood brings because a baby changes everything.  And that was perhaps even harder than the sleepless nights.  And his arms didn't change anything about any season, but they comforted me in the midst of this one.

I know that no season lasts forever.  Before I know it, the trees will be bright and green with newness.  My new bundle of boy will be in his footed sleepers and resting in my arms and I will be celebrating this new life and miracle that God gifted us with.  Another birthday for me will have come and gone and wildflowers will grace our Texas highways in blue and red and violet.  Spring is inevitable - it will come regardless of Mayan calendars and fiscal cliffs and how many more tears that need crying in this December autumn.

When I drove away from my Gramma's house on Saturday afternoon, beautiful yellow leaves had collected on my windshield.  As I drove away I let them slip off into the wind and watched as they floated away.  Something about it was breathtakingly beautiful.

And all I could do was thank God that He had given me the heart to notice such beauty in this season. 

December 6, 2012

Life right now....

is preparing for a new baby boy. 

I made a mobile for Jacob's crib using the one I had from Tommy's nursery.  I wrapped it in yarn and then used felt to make the circles.  Everything I used to make it were items I already had on hand, so it's not too shabby of a craft considering it didn't cost me anything to make it!  My next craft is going to be making his name using an idea I swiped from Pinterest. 
And it's a bit premature to be hanging things up on the closet - especially since I still have to wash everything - but I couldn't help myself.  Is it obvious that I have a "thing" for sleepers?  They're so snuggly and sweet! 
Even Tommy is in on the preparation.  Last night, Tommy was up on my lap playing a game with me on his toy computer and I could feel Jacob kicking Tommy in the back.  Has the sibling rivalry already started?!  Tommy likes to pretend he has a baby in his tummy too - he thought this up all by himself!
I know I still have about three full months of pregnancy left, but the last trimester is very hard on me physically so I'm trying to get as much done as possible while I'm feeling up to it.  It feels easier in a way to prepare for a baby the second time around.  Probably because I've done this before and we know exactly what we'll need.  Of course it would be nice for Santa to drop a big bag of money under our tree so we can pay for all of the medical expenses and time off of work that I'm trying not to let consume me with worry - but hopefully we'll be ready there too come March.

Life is not all gloomy and down in my world.  Though I'm struggling with things and my hormones are off the charts with crazy (just as Todd about my purse meltdown this morning), I am so looking forward to holding our second child in our arms and being a mommy to TWO sweet boys. 

December 5, 2012

Prepare Him room

These days, my mornings begin very early.  Thanks to medication and an abundance of God's mercy, my two-and-a-half-month-long sickness seems to be easing up and I'm finally sleeping through the night again.  Awake and alert, I've been getting out of bed every morning between 5:30 and 6:00am which is so very unlike me.  Usually, I stay under the covers and press the snooze button on my alarm five times before surrendering to the morning and my daily routine of work and then traffic and dinner and being a mama and dancing to a concert in the living room like last night's activities called for.

(Tommy's new thing is finding a station on the TV that plays music, turning the volume up loudly and dancing to it.  And he will tell you that it's more fun to do this with your tongue hanging out.  It's all rather glorious).

But the perk to this getting up early business has been that I've had more time to spend with God.  There is space for me to share my heart with Him and I've needed that.  Which I suppose is why He is allowing my body to be up for some early morning communion with Him.

I was doing some reading at dawn this morning and came across a question.  It was incredibly triggering and it sent me to so many places.  Mostly, it made me wish that a friend who knew and loved me had asked it.  Because for some reason, it felt cold to read the words in black and white instead of through the face of someone who cares for my heart.

And there I was, face-to-face with one of my biggest disappointments this year.  Where I feel let down by friends, old and new.  Where I realized how I've been working my ass off to manufacture a new community for myself and I simply can't create it and turn it into what I want it to be.  I've taken meals to friends in need and actually invited myself to things and showed up at every event I could just so I could feel like I'm a part of something.  All in hopes that me and my friendship is wanted by someone else.  I've done this in attempts to take away the pain of this great, huge thing that was lost for me - the numerous friends who moved away, and the community of friends I once had that no longer exists.  I've been trying too hard and I know it.  Trying too hard feels easier than letting myself feel the void and the haunting loneliness that seems ever present.

I've been feeling lonely, left out, forgotten, used, cast aside.  Feeling as though I have a hundred "friends," but none who take the time to sit and be still and really want to hear my heart and share theirs with me in the same deep way, that as a woman, I so desperately crave.  I hate where community eludes me.  Where I see others become "best friends" while I feel left without that kind of relationship.  And it's easy to go down the "what's wrong with me?" road because this feels like a recurring theme in my life - not being invited to the party, not included at the lunch table, left out of an event, ignored in the conversation, excluded from a gathering - and it goes on.

And I don't say any of that to lash out at any one specifically.  I suppose it's easy to go to contempt towards others, but it's more than that.  It's just what is and what life looks like and many circumstantial things.  I'm lonely and disappointed with friendships in general and I wonder how much of it is my fault.  Or if it's anyone's fault at all.

But the question that triggered all of this?  It was nothing extraordinary - just a question.

Where are you right now?  I mean, stop thinking about where you wish you were, but where are you?  Here, today, right now?

The question feels loaded.  I was convicted because I've been sitting in the place most often of wanting to be somewhere else.  I have come to almost hate the here and the now - I'm angry and resentful and disappointed and antsy.  I feel stuck.  I don't have answers to my questions, I have no security, and little to look forward to.  I'm discouraged and scared and down and much of me feels hopeless about certain circumstances in my life.....and there's more.  But, I had no one to share that with.  Except for my husband who was just getting out of bed and out of kindness and love for the man, I simply don't attempt to have deep and serious conversations that early in the day, especially while he's brushing his teeth.

So in the early hours of the morning I cried out to Him.  To the God who has been waking me up early so we can carve out some time together.  And of all things that could have came to my heart, it was the words of one of my most favorite Christmas carols....Joy to the World.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! 
Let earth receive her King.  
Let every heart, prepare Him room  
And heaven and nature sing....

Let every heart prepare Him room....

Of all the things He could bring to mind, this what was hit me today.  Prepare room for Him in my heart.  What has been taking up that room and space in my heart where only He needs to dwell?  What have I been filling that room with instead of Him?

Much to ponder and think about.  Perhaps I need to sit in my loneliness and disappointment and in doing that, I'll finally make some room for Who needs to come in and fill those sad and broken places of my heart.

December 4, 2012

Where are you Christmas?

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you?
Why have you gone away?

Where is the laughter you used to bring me?
Why can't I hear music play?

My world is changing
I'm rearranging 
Does that mean Christmas changes too?

I've been thinking about this song.  A little tune from the movie, The Grinch who Stole Christmas.  It feels fitting for where my heart is at this December, though I wish it weren't the case.

My home may be decorated and a couple of gifts for Tommy may already be purchased, but to be honest, I'm having a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I could blame it on hormones.  I could blame it on all of the things I can't do this year because of pregnancy or budget restrictions.  Or I could blame it on our sticky, balmy, very-un-December-like weather.  And those things are definitely putting a damper on how I might typically celebrate this time of year.  But I think maybe, it goes a bit deeper.

For me, Christmastime has always been about a bustle of activity.  It's about decorating and baking cookies and having fun get-togethers.  It's twinkle lights and Christmas music and Hallmark movies and egg nog.  It's romantic date nights downtown on the Riverwalk and being in awe of every decked out tree I see because they are my very favorite part of the holidays.  Christmas means singing Joy to the World at church and mailing out festive photo cards.  Celebrating with family, reading Luke 2 and acknowledging where God has been present and at work in our hearts.  And, it's the time of year I come alive and remember my mother's memory the most.

But something feels different this year, as if something has changed. But I think the thing that has changed the me. 

The year has been  mixed with the good and the bad, the happy and the sad.  It's been life lived instead of life constantly numbed out to.  The year has brought much healing - in my body, my heart, my family and relationships and my marriage.  And I wonder why all of that hasn't set me up to have more joy this season?  The season I typically look forward to the most out of the whole year.  And I feel sad knowing that in a few short weeks it will be gone and I'm afraid I will have missed it all because of this Christmas funk I've uncharacteristically found myself in.

My hope is that God will find me here - in His very season of hope and joy and grace and peace.  That I will draw near to Him in my slower-paced Christmas season.  And that maybe I will discover that Christmastime, rather than just the bustle of activity I'm so used to, can be about something much more.  

Where are you Christmas?  Can I find you?

December 3, 2012

Decked Out

I'm officially decorated for Christmas!  I put the finishing touches on everything this weekend.  Including making my pinterest-inspired ornament vine wreath.
I used leftover bulb ornaments that I already had, and deconstructed a vine wreath that I had been given years ago that used to have sunflowers all over it.  There's still some hot glue remnants on it that I couldn't hide, but you can't really tell when you see it.  I might add some more ornaments to it later to make it look fuller, but overall, I'm happy with how it turned out! And it didn't cost me a dime which is the best part!

 My Christmas tree collection!
Little touches of Christmas on top of our entertainment center.
Some festive garland and ornaments on the mirror that hangs over the couch.
I made the tree art last year using a stick and some ribbon I had - something I found on Pinterest of course.  It's one of my favorite things I've made so far!
 I hung up a few Christmasy things on the wall too.
 And a few more things on the shelves.
How fun to have FOUR stockings hanging.  Even though Jacob isn't here yet, he is already making home in our hearts as we wait for his arrival.  It's fun to think about him crawling around and getting into everything this time next year!
The shelf in the kitchen.  I made the NOEL frame last year as well and then used some of my living room items and spruced them up for Christmas and put them here.  It's fun to do things a little bit differently every year.
And last but certainly not least, our Christmas tree in all of her glory.  My very favorite part of Christmas decorating.  Full of trinkets and sweet ornaments that tell stories about who we are.  I love our tree!
I'm all decked out for Christmas - how about you?!