Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fifteen...

Fifteen years ago, I woke up for the last time as an unmarried woman.



The night before, we were too nervous and excited to sleep, so I had gone for a late night jog with my maid of honor.  She was freaked out by the cornfields surrounding my tiny hometown, and I remember teasing her about it.



My mom and I had planned the entire day.  We put together all of the food for the reception and decorated the hall and the church.  One of my bridesmaids and her mom arranged all of the flowers (artificial because of my allergies) as their gift to us.  My grandparents bought my dress and paid for the DJ.  Friends and family came from far and wide to celebrate with us.







 The day was beautiful, warm, and sunny. It was a perfect day marry my best friend!





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 Fast forward fifteen years.



The years in between then and now haven't always been easy.  We've had some really rough patches.  We've been through some hard times.  I've had a lot of learning to do about how to be a wife and a mother.  I'm not an easy person to live with.  I tend to be spacy and forgetful. I mess up dinner just as often as I get it right.  The laundry is rarely caught up.  The house is usually a wreck.  I don't always show my husband how much I love him in ways that he can feel.






But today, fifteen years later, I woke up married to my best friend.  We have two funny, smart, engaging children, a home like I've always dreamed of owning, a beautiful piece of land that is like our own little piece of paradise, food in our kitchen, shoes on our feet, love in our hearts, and I couldn't ask for much more.



I am so grateful for Mike.  I don't always get butterflies when he walks into a room, but he can still sweep me off my feet.  He makes me laugh, he encourages me, he makes me want to be a better version of myself.  He teaches me, he pushes me.  He is truly my other half.



I wouldn't trade these last fifteen years for anything in the world.  And I can't wait to spend the rest of my life exploring life with this amazing man I get to call my husband!



Friday, April 24, 2015

Brave

The word brave means something different to each and every person out there.  Most can agree on a basic definition, but the details of how it plays out in reality are as varied as the stars in the sky.


For my son, bravery has taken on the form of school work.  He's struggled with language arts for several years.  Spelling and writing are not easy for him.  This year he participated in an intense language arts program called Essentials, which is part of our Classical Conversations community.  In this class, he was required to write a paper every week.  He had to learn about grammar, sentence structure, parts of speech, and creative writing.  A year ago, he had never written more than a few sentences.  A few weeks ago, he finished a two-page research paper on John James Audubon and read it, in the character of Audubon, in front of his entire class and his classmates' parents.  He was nervous.  He was uneasy.  He had no idea how he was going to get through it.  But he did it.  And he was brave.
   

For my daughter, bravery means accepting an important role in an upcoming ballet.  She's been cast as Little Alice in the ballet Alice in Wonderland, which is being performed by Cornerstone Academy for the Performing Arts.  She's small, but she's mighty.  The part will probably be difficult for her.  It will require focus and concentration.  She will have to practice more than she's ever practiced before.  But I am confident that she will do an amazing job.  And she will face it with bravery.


 
 For one dear friend, being brave means standing up for herself, speaking her mind, and fighting for her marriage.  For a few others, bravery means advocating for their children despite disheartening diagnoses or doctors threatening hospitalization. For another, the simple act of getting out of bed each morning is an act of bravery.  Some are facing financial worries.  Others are dealing with medical issues, family problems, marital distress, difficult pregnancies, job loss...  the list of situations can go on and on.




For me, the definition of bravery has changed over time.  As a small child, I was brave when I underwent six hours of emergency surgery while a doctor pulled glass out of my forehead, leaving me with over four thousand stitches.  At another time, being brave meant holding myself together when my family was being ripped apart by divorce.  Sometimes being brave meant telling the truth, even when I knew it would hurt those I loved the most.  Sometimes it meant telling a lie to protect them, even when I knew the truth.  More recently, bravery has taken the form of breaking away from traditional school choices and homeschooling our children.  I had to be brave when God called me to open my home and lead a small Bible study, even though I'd never done anything like that before.

Today, though, and each week, my act of bravery happens when I hit that little "Publish" button up in the right hand corner of my screen.  I share my story, my life, and my heart through the words I type here.  God has preserved me through many things, and all the while, I was able to keep going because of His promise to use my story to bring glory to Him.  Several weeks ago, God pushed me to begin blogging.  It is slow going here, between homeschooling, mom and wife duties, and ministry, but I have been writing.  Each time I publish a new blog post, my heart races, my palms get sweaty, and I question myself.  But my Lord and Savior has called me to write.  So I'm writing.  My prayer is that each week, each month, my writing will become stronger, more in tune with God's call on my life.  I want these words to be His words.  But being transparent and allowing the world access to my heart is difficult.  It is scary and vulnerable.  It requires me to be obedient.  I have to be brave.




What does being brave bring to your mind?  Maybe it means standing in front of a room full of peers and speaking about something.  Or it could involve doing something that terrifies you.  Perhaps you would define bravery as the act of a soldier, police officer, fireman, or other service person performing their sworn duties.  I don't know your story, but I know the God who created you.  I know that He loves you and that He has great plans for your life.  Those plans will likely require you to face your fears, to be open and honest, and to be obedient.  In your own way, in your own time, you will have to be brave.

What does bravery look like in your life right now?  How may I pray for you in that?  I'd love to hear your story, to better understand what you are facing right now, so that we can encourage each other through prayer.

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This post is part of #livefreeThursday (albeit it a day late) with the wonderful women over at Suzie Eller's blog, tsuzanneeller.com.  Check out the links there for more encouragement.


http://tsuzanneeller.com

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Blooms

Oh, how I love the promise of Spring!  It is hard for me to say which season is my favorite, because each one brings its own beauty.  And each season is a reminder to me of Jesus and His love for mankind.  In the Summer, we bask in His love as He lavishes us in beauty and warmth.  In the Autumn, as the leaves turn crimson and fall, I am reminded of the blood He shed on the cross.  The bleakness of Winter brings to mind the three days when Jesus was dead and hope seemed lost.  But in the Spring... Oh in the Spring, that which was dead returns to life, just like my beloved Savior!!

There is something fascinating about watching the perennials come back to life each year.  A week ago, the bush outside my window looked lifeless and bare.  Today, it sprouts leaves, and soon buds will appear.  Everywhere I look, things that were brown just a few days ago have turned green.  Trees have flowers and leaves.  Tiny leaves are pushing their way through the dirt towards the sun.  Flowers are beginning to bloom.  Life is returning, bringing color and beauty with it.

In the same way, our lives go through seasons.  Ecclesiastes 3 lists many things that have a time and place in our lives, only to move to something new.
1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
   And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
   And a time to heal;
A time to  break down,
   And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
   And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
   And a time to dance;
5. A time to cast away stones,
   And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
   And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
   And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
   And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
   And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
   And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
   And a time to hate;
A time of war,
   And a time of peace.
 Our lives come and go in seasons.  This is a natural part of living and breathing and moving through our world.  God designed us with seasons in mind.

I have been in a season full of grieving,  self-reflection, remembering, mourning, and sadness.  A chain of events outside of my control sent my world into a tailspin.  I questioned everything about who I am, who God is, and where I fit into this world.  It has been painful, difficult, and lonely.  I have been stuck in Winter for a few years now.  But Spring is coming!!


As I have begun to open my heart to God and to the people He is placing around me, I can feel myself blooming.  My leaves are uncurling and turning toward the Son.  I'm returning to life and growing.  And just like the bush outside my window, what once looked like dead sticks in the ground are now beginning to speak of life, resurrection, joy, color, and love once again!

Spring is coming!!!

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This post is part of #livefreeThursday with the wonderful women over at Suzie Eller's blog, tsuzanneeller.com.  Check out the links there for more encouragement.

http://tsuzanneeller.com