Who Gets The Credit?

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Years ago when I was just out of high school, I was driving my little Honda Civic to youth group. As I drove through an intersection, a lady ran a stop sign, driving out in front of me before I could stop, and I totaled my car. I also managed to ruin my back.

From that day on, I dealt with doctor’s visits and back pain constantly. I had MRI’s, physical therapy, back exercises, and nothing helped. It was manageable without prescription medication and I didn’t need surgery, but it was a constant hindrance. I could no longer go backpacking, because the weight of my pack was too much for my injury. I was a summer intern on a ropes course, but could no longer do many of the climbing activities and had to work on the ground instead.

My quality of life had most definitely changed and it was frustrating and depressing at times.

I prayed for healing. When I went to church, others would pray for me. But it didn’t work. I still struggled through and learned to live differently. I doubted myself and wondered if my faith just wasn’t strong enough. The lack of healing was surely from something I wasn’t doing right.

I just didn’t get it… Why wouldn’t God heal me?

A few years after the accident, I found a new physical therapist and we started seeing progress! One of the treatments she used was a Tens (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit. It was painful, and I would leave her office in more pain than when I came in, but as time passed, it just continued to get better and better.

Time passed, and I had to stop going to therapy because I just didn’t have enough money to continue paying the bills. I continued doing exercises at home and hoped for the best.

I remember one day I was just sitting around not doing much and it hit me. I’m healed! It had been such a long and gradual process, that I almost didn’t even realize it.

I give God the credit for my healing. Yes, He provided healing for me by using conventional methods of medicine instead of instantly during a moment of prayer. Does that mean He doesn’t get credit for healing me? I could have gone to the doctor for years without seeing any results, but you can’t deny my back was healed.

Just because things often don’t happen in the way we would like, or perhaps the way we might imagine they should, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give credit where credit is due. God has provided us with modern medicine. It is by His hand that we are healed.

As I looked back at the journey I had to go through to find healing, I realized that because it took time and effort, I appreciated the healing so much more. Had I been miraculously healed, I fear I would have been no different from story of the ten lepers. Ten were healed, but only one returned to give Jesus praise and glory.

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The Truth About Mother’s Day

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A few nights ago I had a conversation with Henry about Mother’s Day. I informed him that it was one of my very least favorite holidays. I classify it in the “made up holiday you are required to celebrate so as not to hurt somebody’s feelings” category (along with Valentine’s day).

Mother’s Day to me has not had great memories. While I love my dad dearly, just like any person, he has his flaws. And I hate to say it, but he is terrible about holidays.

I remember growing up and him grouching about “I don’t know why I have to do something for your mom for mother’s day. She’s not my mother!”. Which then led to my mom having a rotten day because nobody did anything for her (well, besides the obligatory handmade craft created at school) and she didn’t get to celebrate doing anything she wanted because she felt obligated to do something for her mom.

Thus the problem with mother’s day. How does one celebrate a day that is supposed to be special for MOM? If she were to do what she wanted, it would seem selfish because if her mom is still around, she needs to do what she wants instead. Grrrr!

I hate mother’s day. I hate it because it’s a holiday that is supposedly set up to celebrate me as a mom, and yet, I feel like I am obligated to try and make it special for our mom’s (both of whom are still alive and kickin’). I don’t want to offend them by not doing something, but the selfish part of me wants the day to be about ME.

So let me tell you about Mother’s Day 2013…

My sweet baby woke up at 5:30. Henry and I were exhausted from a garage sale we had the day before, but he got up to listen to Blake’s complaints, hoping he would fall back asleep. Henry took the baby monitor out to the couch so I could sleep and I thought, “this is great!”

At 6am, my boys walked into my room and woke me from my slumber announcing that Blake was hungry. So I got up and nursed him while Henry went back to bed. Then, trying to be nice, I set a blanket on the living room floor and tried to take a nap while Blake played with a toy. Tried being a key word in that last sentence. Emma was up and out of bed early complaining that I had shut the hall light off. I sent her back to bed until her alarm said it was okay for her to get up (at 7am). Giving up on sleep, I decided to lead the kids into my room to wake up their dad. Yeah… That didn’t go over so well. He just grouched around and laid there like I was torturing him and he was so exhausted and needed sleep.

Now, to be fair, he didn’t say any of that, but I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “actions speak louder than words”. This was entirely appropriate this morning.

So, after realizing he wasn’t dragging himself out of bed and I wasn’t getting any special “sleep in its Mother’s day” gift, I proceeded to sleepily and grouchily move on with my day.

Let me paint a picture of what I was facing this morning… Before I could make breakfast, I had to clean at least part of the kitchen, because every possible space was cluttered with dirty dishes and the sink was piled full as well. We needed groceries, so there were no quick and easy breakfast foods available to cook. I had to do a load of laundry because I literally had no clothes to wear to church this morning. Henry’s mom and my sister would be coming over later in the day to watch a hockey game, and the couch was covered with books, toys, clothes, and a wet diaper from (hopefully) earlier that morning.

So I started cleaning. On Mother’s Day. While my husband slept in and I was taking care of the kids.

Every time I would go into our room to put something away, he would stir around as though he was waking up, and as soon as I would leave, he would fall back asleep.

I contemplated sitting down on the couch and sharing a decadent piece of leftover chocolate cake with Emma for breakfast. I quickly vetoed that idea because the frosting had dairy products in it and they tend to make Blake sick, so I’m currently on a non-dairy diet while breastfeeding him. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for mom’s to have to make breakfast on Mother’s day, but I think it’s even more illegal to not feed your children, so I tossed a couple of pieces of toast in the toaster and cut up an apple.

Scrumptious (said sarcastically).

Just as Emma and I finished our breakfast, Henry comes strolling out (after 8) and proceeds to start making himself an omelet. Barely holding back tears, I told him I was still starving, and he kindly offered to make me one as well. (Non-dairy. Ugh. The things we do for our kids!) He then told me “thanks for letting me sleep in a bit this morning!”. Um, I didn’t know that was an option. I wasn’t letting you. I would have taken your place in a heartbeat if I thought I could have!

At some point during breakfast, I started crying. Whenever I cry, Emma sweetly runs to get me a towel so I can dry my tears. She is such an amazing little girl. Blake woke up from his nap, so I had a great chance to cuddle him and cry a bit without the rest of the family to witness my self-pity.

I was hurt. Nobody had even bothered to say happy mother’s day to me.  No sleeping in. No breakfast in bed. No scribbly handmade cards. Nothing. Another day of responsibilities while I read a zillion facebook posts about the wonderful things people were doing and getting for Mother’s Day today. I felt like a single person on Valentine’s Day.

But it was even worse than that. I don’t even know how to quite put it in words, but all morning I struggled with my selfish thoughts. My self-centered desires. Wanting everything to be about me and being disappointed when life happened.

Being a mom is hard. I haven’t found the balance between giving of myself for my children and when it’s okay to take a break and do something for me. It makes me feel selfish. I can’t tell my husband I want certain things for mother’s day because then it would have to be done begrudgingly and wouldn’t count.

At least that is how my mind sees it.

So, as I sat at the breakfast table eating my omelet, my sister-in-law sent Henry a text message to tell me happy mother’s day for her. I started crying (again). My sister-in-law, who lives thousands of miles away, was thoughtful enough to say something when my own family hadn’t seemed to even remember. Henry asked Emma if she knew what today was, and I was crying and sarcastically mumbled “it’s make Mommy cry day”. To which she loudly proclaimed to him “It’s Mother’s cry day!” Oh my. The things I am now teaching my daughter.

Being a mom is hard. It took a really rotten day for me to realize that Mother’s Day shouldn’t be all about me. It seems glaringly obvious, but without my husband and kids, I wouldn’t be celebrating this day as a mother.

I am blessed beyond all measure to get to look into the faces of my precious little babies every day. They have brought unspeakable joy into my life. If anything, I should be celebrating them for being allowed the opportunity to be a mother.

And so, this year, a week before Mother’s Day, I’m posting this as a reminder to myself. That Sunday morning, when life happens and we’re late for church, when the kids disobey and I lose my patience, this is what being a mother is. It may always be tough, it will never be perfect, but it will always be worth it.

Taking Time Away

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I realized it’s been quite some time since my last blog post, and there are a couple of contributing factors to this. The first would be that it’s been a bit crazy here in real life. A weekend away at the beach, five days in Vegas, side jobs, and swimming lessons have been consuming my time. The other factor is my inability to find my voice for this blog.

My original goal with blogging was to find a place where I could write and be myself. Share my thoughts. But I’m still paralyzed from truly being me because I’m afraid of what others might think. It’s ridiculous but true.

I’ve found that I have always had an easier time addressing an audience I don’t know over people I do. When I was in 5th grade, our school put on a musical for our Christmas program and I was cast as the lead role. My parents were silently freaking out because a few weeks prior to my performance, they asked me to sing one of my songs for my grandparents and I refused. They thought if I was unable to sing in front of someone I knew and loved, how in the world could I stand on stage in front of hundreds of strangers?

What they failed to understand was, I feared rejection from those who were close to me, but I could care less what all of the strangers might think, and so I sang my heart out on that stage and had the time of my life!

The only person (that knows me in real life) that I’ve told about this blog is Henry. I know I could get quite a few followers if I publicized my writing among my friends and family, but it’s that fear of what they may think that holds me at bay. And always in the back of my mind is the knowledge that someone may inadvertently stumble upon my humble little writings.

Hopefully with time and practice I will become more skilled at this and learn to write for myself. To write my true and honest thoughts without fear of what others may think.

Easter 2015

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Nothing says Happy Easter quite like a two-year-old puking up chocolate eggs in the grass at Nana’s house.

When it comes to Easter, the only completely secular activities we participate in are dying eggs and letting the kids run around searching for those precious bright plastic eggs filled with sugary glory. In fact, this year I didn’t even buy the kids Easter clothes. Emma wore a very pretty dress she already owned (that was, in fact, a hand-me-down) and Blake sported a light-colored t-shirt and khakis we found in his dresser.

More than anything else, I want my kids to understand what Easter means to our family. We celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the most important day for us to remember and celebrate, and I don’t want to muddle it up with tales of an Easter bunny and chintzy gifts given in baskets.

Today we celebrated by attending church, and then went to my parent’s house for an early dinner of ham and potato salad (a family tradition). My mom loves each and every holiday, and she happily filled eggs with candy for the kids to hunt later in the afternoon. I understand that hunting eggs has absolutely nothing to do with the religious aspect of the holiday, but Henry and I do want to allow for a small amount of tradition to be passed along to our kids.

The weather was beautiful today, so after the kids found all 52 eggs, we sat out on the grass and let them dig through their loot. Unbeknownst to us, Blake was sampling A LOT of his candy. And before we knew it… Well, you know the rest.

Tonight before bed, I read the crucifixion and resurrection stories to the kids from their Bibles. They are only 2 and 5, so I’m not sure how deep their understanding is yet, but I pray that one day, they will truly understand the sacrifice made for us.

In fact, I pray that one day, I would be able to fully understand it.

Never Leave Angry

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From the very start of our marriage, Henry and I had an agreement that no matter what, if we fought, we would never leave angry. In the beginning years, like any other newly married couple, we would have arguments. Learning to live with another person can be rough at times. We felt it was an important rule to live by, because you need to make sure you have resolution and forgiveness.

Also, I know myself, and I know that I’m not above driving angry. I could only imagine the devastation that would be caused if, prior to working things out, one of us left and had some kind of accident to where we were never able to make amends.

After that first year of learning to live together, we have rarely had arguments. Until recently. I’m not sure what started it, but I know it was my fault. I was grumpy and picked a fight over something that didn’t even matter. I wanted to apologize, but felt too ashamed at the time. So instead, Henry went to bed and I stayed up and scrubbed the shower. I get the best cleaning and scrubbing done when I’m upset! I didn’t want to wake him up, so I intended to apologize before he left for work in the morning.

As I sat scrubbing at 1am, I heard Henry’s phone ring and knew he had just gotten a SWAT call-out. What utterly horrible timing! So, as he rushed around readying himself to leave, I explained everything to him and apologized. It was frustrating to have such a short period of time to try and make amends. It was even more frustrating to know that even though everything was now right between us, I could never have those last few hours back.

That night, I was more anxious than usual about him returning home safely. Nothing seems to set my priorities straight like the reality of life and death. Through everything, I was reminded of what is the most important. To live your life without regrets and to patch up disagreements as soon as possible, because you never know what the future holds.

A Moment of Defeat

Surrendering with White Flag

Today I gave up on my dream of taking my family on a mission trip to Thailand.

It all started yesterday when we decided to take the kids to the Children’s Museum (a different one from my previous story). Because it’s about an hour away from home, and super expensive, we only go about once a year. We wanted to make sure we got the most out of our day, so we knew we would have to skip nap-time to give the kids plenty of time to play. Everything went amazingly well until we announced it was time to go.

Blake threw himself down on the floor and attempted throwing his first fit. Honestly, it was a pretty pathetic attempt and I wasn’t even sure what was going on at first. So, I snapped a quick picture for the baby book (isn’t that what every mom does?), and then bribed him to the car with promises of going out for ice-cream. A tactic reserved for special days only.

The rest of the evening was a little rocky for both kids because they were so worn out, but we managed to make it to bedtime without any major issues.

Then morning came.

My kids don’t sleep in. They are completely broken and no matter what time they go to bed the night before, or how tired they might be, they will ALWAYS wake up at the same time every single morning. So, Emma and Blake were both tired, cranky, and grouchy when they woke up. The previous day evidently still had them tired out.

Now, at the risk of sounding like a bragging mom, my kids are normally very well-behaved. They are not perfect, but they have great character, manners, and are quite obedient. They love helping around the house. In fact, one of the worst punishments I’ve ever given, was telling them they weren’t allowed to help me wash the dishes. But when they are tired (or hungry), all that goes out the window. They transform into bickering, disobedient, cranky maniacs. And that was what happened this morning. Everything was a fight and a struggle. Bath-time was horrendous, changing diapers was a wrestling match, and horrid attitudes abounded.

I realized that if we were to go to Thailand, there is a 12 hour time difference. 12 hours. My children are like Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to sleep deprivation. Why did I ever think this would work?! My kids can’t even handle the day after the children’s museum, why did I think they could handle flying across the world and living in a foreign place for a few weeks?

The bigger issue was that I felt like can’t do this. I have a hard time not getting upset and frustrated at my kids when they’re acting like this. Imagine if I were dealing with jet-lag on top of it. What was I thinking? I had disillusioned myself into thinking I could manage this trip, but reality was screaming at me in the face.

I sent Henry a text message letting him know we were having a rough day at home, but even more than that, I realized Thailand was just a dream and that I was feeling really “bummed out” about it.

That night, after the kids were sleeping peacefully in their beds, Henry sat down with me to talk about everything that was going on. I told him I realized Thailand was a crazy idea and on and on. He patiently listened, and then told me he had just finished reading something with Blake and wanted me to look at it. He said as he was reading it, he realized it was just the thing I needed to hear. He handed me his phone and it was open to the story of Moses and the burning bush on the kids Bible app.

The simplified version said this: “The voice of God spoke from a burning bush. “My people are suffering, Moses. I have chosen you to free them.”

“I can’t!” Moses cried.

“I’ll help you,” God promised.

And then Moses continued with his reasons for why he wasn’t the right person for the job. But in the end he decided to do what God asked of him.

The simple story spoke volumes to my heart. There are so many “reasons” I can’t go to Thailand. I don’t speak the language. My children are still very young and very needy. What if something awful happened to us there? I am just an average person. What do I have to offer in such a short amount of time?

Henry reminded me that if God is asking us to go to Thailand, He’ll take care of the problems. It doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, the majority of the Bible tells of things people had to do that were very difficult or uncomfortable.

Going to Thailand with kids will most definitely be a challenge. Sometime going to the grocery store with kids can be a challenge! But just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean you don’t do it. And more importantly, just because something seems difficult, doesn’t mean it’s a “sign from God” that you shouldn’t do it.

I told Henry he was crazy because this was his perfect chance to be talking me out of doing this, but instead, he was supporting me and encouraging me just like he always does. I don’t know if we’ll go soon, in ten years, or never. Perhaps this is just God’s way of challenging me and it will never come to fruition. All I know is, I’m not giving up yet… But I may be praying that He’ll wait to have us go until we get through the terrible two’s phase!

Dash for Cash

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Date-nights that occur between October and May, for Henry and I, are spent at hockey games about 90% of the time. It’s a long drive to the game so we get a lot of quality time together, and we both really enjoy the sport. It’s a win-win option for us both.

Tonight we were at yet another game. There is always some kind of entertainment in between periods to keep the crowd entertained, and tonight’s event was called the “Dash for Cash”. You can enter your name to be drawn to participate and around 20 people are chosen.

As I sat and watched, buckets filled with coins were thrown out across the ice. There was a line of people at each end wearing white t-shirts advertising the tax company that sponsored the event. They were chomping at the bit and ready to race for center ice where the glittering silver and gold beckoned them.

The whistle blew and they dashed across the slippery surface. I watched as a crowd of people dove belly first onto the ice and started shoving coins into their tucked-in t-shirts. They lay there scooping, sweeping, and hoarding. Trying to get the most money possible.

As I watched them, I suddenly felt sick. Tears welled up in my eyes and I had to look away.

I have been doing a lot of research on missions in third world countries lately. I’ve watched a lot of videos of orphans and those who have next to nothing. An article I just read about a people group in Thailand came to mind. The lady who wrote it spoke of how they have almost nothing, and yet work hard trying to help others in need. I’m sure to some degree, all of this had an effect on my reaction, but it is more than just that.

As a form of entertainment, we are throwing money on the ground for people to come and greedily snatch up as much as possible to keep for themselves. I hoped with all my heart that people from other nations would never witness our undignified form of “entertainment”.

I realize by writing this, I may come across as quite judgmental. After all, it’s just people having a little fun, right?

Maybe… Or maybe it’s a small picture of a bigger problem.

Thailand

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The more I pray about where to go on our family mission trip, the more I’m starting to feel directed towards Thailand.

When I think about it from a realistic point of view, it seems absolutely crazy. Insane and ridiculous. Not only will it cost a horrendous amount of money for us to fly there, but there is a 12 hour time difference. 12 HOURS!!!! With very young children. Oh, and did I mention I don’t speak the language? And it’s a tonal language so I don’t have much hope I could ever learn the language.

If I had my choice, I would fly us all down to Mexico (at half the cost per ticket) and work in an orphanage down there. I can speak Spanish decently and could even teach our kids a few words. I’ve been to Mexico quite a bit, so I’m comfortable with their culture, how to get around, the food, and life in general.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a verse in the Bible that talks about God doing things so we can be comfortable! In fact, it’s generally the opposite, talking about how trials create perseverance and character.

Thailand isn’t the last place I’d ever choose to go, but it certainly was never on my radar prior to this. Because it seems impossible, it makes me think that perhaps this is what God is planning. I just have to wait and see what unfolds, but in the meantime, I have a few emails sent to several missionaries in several countries.

I wrote quite some time ago, and the only response I’ve received was from Thailand. Saying they would love to have us come serve.

Oh my.

Mean People

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Today a crossing guard made me cry.

The story is less than interesting, so I’ll spare you the details, but basically he was just plain mean. He works for the local rent-a-cop company and is a crossing guard for our neighborhood elementary school. He gave off the “I’m in charge here and don’t you dare question my authority” vibe.

I can’t seem to let the hurt from my little encounter go. I know this is very similar to my previous post on compassion, so perhaps it’s something that just stirs my soul.

I keep trying to tell myself there may be a reason for his attitude and outbursts towards me today. Perhaps he’s going through something tough in his own life. Or maybe he’s just a jerk.

Part of me feels it’s deserved. Or “karma” as some would call it. This week my bank made some awful errors causing a very large check I wrote to be denied in error. After calling a million times and getting the runaround, I ended up using my angry voice and telling the manager how upset I was and that this was not okay… and then apologized profusely for not treating him kindly because I know it wasn’t personally his fault.

He was completely understanding and probably thought I was crazy because my “angry” isn’t very intimidating. But that doesn’t change the fact that I was wrong and shouldn’t have treated him that way.

I’m honestly not sure where this post is rambling off to. I just needed a place to try to straighten out my thoughts. I suppose that’s why I created this blog, even if it makes the reading less interesting for anyone who comes across this post.

So now I’m going to take a big breath and try my hardest to not only forgive, but to let it go and get over it. But more importantly, I intend to work harder to treat others with kindness. To banish rudeness and meanness and replace it with compassion and caring.

Missions

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As the kids have begun to be more independent, and life has settled into a comfortable pattern, I have begun looking forward to doing things that had to be set aside during all of the “baby years”.

Blake is 2 and a half now, and Emma is just a few weeks shy of being 5 years old. The past few months, my heart has been aching with a desire to go on a mission trip with my family. I realize the kids are young, and it will make things harder. But just because something is hard, or unusual, does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

I’ve mentioned my idea to Henry several times over the past few months, and every time, his reaction is the same. He looks at me with an almost a bored expression and simply says, “okay”.

Sometimes I wish he would tell me it’s a terrible idea and that I’m crazy. Or maybe seem excited about it. But he knows how I work, and knows that if this is meant to be, it will happen, so he’s fine with it.

I contacted a few of my friends who are involved in missions work to see if they had any direction they could give me about ministries that help young families serve in other countries. Their response was quite disheartening. One friend suggested I hire a nanny to watch my kids while Henry and I went alone. Another suggestion was to stay home and help locally because home is a mission field too.

The message that people keep sending me is “just wait until your kids are older”.

But at what age are kids magically prepared to serve as missionaries? I must have missed that passage in my Bible.

I understand the sentiment, and I agree that we can help locally (which we do). In the great commission, Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS. He didn’t instruct them to hang out in their backyard, but to go out to all the world.

I understand that travelling with children can be a challenge. Ministering with children will be a challenge. But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we don’t do it. My greatest desire is to find a place that needs us. A place that needs our individual dynamic. Our individual talents. My children are just as valuable in ministry as I am, regardless of their age.

1 Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

This past week I devoted myself to praying and fasting about the direction our family should take. I chose to fast from chocolate, and while some may think it a trivial matter, for me it’s not. It’s something that I eat daily and think about several times an hour. So, choosing to fast from chocolate is perfect because every time I see chocolate, think about chocolate, or crave chocolate, I pray.

This was a challenging week to surrender chocolate as it was my birthday week. While dining out in celebration, our waiter brought a GIANT chocolate chip cookie to the table. It was baked in a pie pan and smelled like heaven. I sat and prayed while Henry ate half of my cookie pie. The other half was sadly left untouched.

Anyway, it’s the end of my week-long fast, and today I feel like I have even less direction than when I started!

I don’t know where to go, when to go, or what to do. The only thing I can do, is continue to wait on the Lord and listen for His voice.