Friday, June 13, 2014

Time Freeze

   I'm almost certain that the times when heaven is nearest are the times when I'm rocking my baby in the dark in the middle of the night. 
   I sleep train my kids so they don't need me rocking them to fall asleep... but lately, in the last month or so, if Violet wakes up because she is teething I will go in and give her some infant Tylenol and rock her. As I stare at her sweet little face in the dark I am so overcome by my love for this baby that it's all I can do to not cry. I can see the shadowy circles of her eyes looking into my face as her eyelids droop and she falls back asleep. I know that in these moments she is sure of how completely loved and safe she is as we rock back and forth, back and forth. It's as if I'm given a pause button for a few minutes from the speedy first year of her life that is flying by. I stare hard at the silhouette of her face and will that this moment would be imprinted upon my heart forever... Has 10 months really almost come and gone? I felt like she would never sleep through the night or never take a bottle, but now she does. She turns one in two months. My baby. 
   I love everything about her. I think 7-10 months is my favorite baby stage. Alert and responsive, yet still not mobile (at least my kids aren't yet). I love how she flaps her arms when she gets excited. I love how she watches Theo and is so mesmerized by his every move. I love that she wakes up happy. I love that I can now fit a tuff of her little hair in a pig tail.. 
   But most of all I love those sweet unanticipated moments when one of my kids needs me and I get to just hold them, to smell the tops of their little heads, to kiss their plump chubby cheeks, and hold them tight against my heart reassuring them that everything will be ok because I will not leave them alone. I am their constant.

Not a great pic, but I just love how this captures her little cheeks and lips... was taken during a late night rocking session

nothing like a sleeping baby....
and again...

big almost 10 month old! (first poney tail!)


Sharing the journey....

   Sometime, from the outside it can seem like certain people have it all together. In this world of social media and artificial relationships we can feel like we are alone in the fact that we have struggles or encounter trials.
   Lately, I find myself aware of how important it is to "share your journey" with others because the hard work of life often is much less celebrated and documented in our culture. I have been thinking about Paul and my lives the last few years and to be honest: it is not anything like we would have anticipated it would be at the beginning of those years.
   You see, we decided to take a risk and not follow the typical trajectory of marriage, house, stability, and then babies (although there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that- and believe me, there have been times the last two years when we scratched our heads and wondered if we had made a mistake in pursuing a different path). Three years into marriage, we rid ourselves of all our possessions and took one car 1600 miles across the country to attend ministry school together (that was almost 3 years ago!). We had saved really hard and lived with my parents for several months leading up to the move so we could take an adventure. We moved without jobs, housing, or knowing anyone. But guess what?  We have the best year of our lives. So much growth, excitement, and fun. Plus who doesn't love California?!
   But then we came home... with a baby, no money, and a lot of dreams of what the following years would look like for us. We had a pretty good idea what the Lord had called us to, but weren't entirely sure how we would make it happen. Paul got job, we ministered on the side, and worked hard to hold fast to the amazing beliefs and gifts we now carried from our year away.
  But guess what? Life was hard. We lived with my parents for an entire year (that part actually was really fun... I will blog about it sometime), we still had only one car (and up until a few weeks ago still only had one car) and no money to fall back on since we spent our savings to be able and attend Bethel. Paul wasn't doing his dream job and yet, we felt we had clear direction with every decision we made. Things seemed to take twice as long for us as they did those around us and every month we battled to not sink emotionally that yet another month had passed without Paul living in passion and vision.
   We love the prophetic. This is where we come alive and love to use this gift to help others see what incredible plans God has for their lives. With our own lives however, we knew what we felt we were supposed to do, but it seemed as if there was a pause button on our destiny. Honestly, we needed God to open clear doors for us to help us find our fit.
   A little before Thanksgiving, one of Paul's good friends from church spoke with him about coming to work for his home building company as the VP of Sales. We felt truly excited about this opportunity that had come almost two years since being home. Working in a successful, Christian-owned company was a dream come true for Paul and we knew that there is much potential.
  This is our breakthrough. But what about the two years that led up to it? Is that part of our story something that should even be shared? I believe it should.
    Everyone, EVERYONE, is on a journey. Whether you believe in God or not, your life is telling a story and inviting other people into your hardships and struggles in not a sign of weakness, but rather strength. Those two difficult years have taught me that my roots and character are much more important that worldly success and "accomplishing my dreams." Paul and I have talked much about how we want who we are on the inside to be bigger than what people see on the outside. We are imperfect, fall short, have made mistakes, felt discouraged, but we clung to the promise that God is good. We chose to believe the promises that had been spoken over our lives even when our circumstances were screaming the opposite.
  I know now that God wastes nothing. There is no experience that cannot become an asset for his plan. Even working two years while feeling that 'pause button' has translated into tools that we use now in ministry and Paul's job. You see Isaiah 55:8-9 says " 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" God knows. His plan is best. But it's ok to have struggles along the way.
  Here is an excerpt from my journal about why it is so important to share your journey:
-opens you up to receive love and support from community
-allows others who have walked the same road to strengthen you
-when you are on the other side of your mountain it will give people hope that they too can overcome their own mountains
-keeps us relatable and grounded
-allows the Lord to heal our pain
-gives Jesus glory
-invites others to share their own stories
-gives others the opportunity to respond well to what you share

Now not everyone needs to start a blog or post their struggles all over the internet, but it is important to share with someone around you. The highs and lows of life were not meant to be experienced alone. Be brave. Know you're not alone.