Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Love and Loss



February is a month full of love. Chocolates, flowers, jewelry ads all over the TV, and a whole lot of red flooding the aisles of every grocery store and superstore.

It's a really hard month for many singles, widows, etc. The tears flow for many as they walk those aisles and keep their heads down, trying to disappear amongst the heartache.

It's also a really hard time for those struggling with the loss of a relationship that's no longer what it used to be.

With love often comes loss. Pain. Hardship. Trials.

February is hard on many of us. It can be so very great, but also so very hard. Sometimes that's in the expectations we have of what our spouse should/shouldn't do for us. Sometimes that's in the deep fear that we'll spend the rest of our lives alone. Sometimes that's in the death of a loved one. Sometimes it's in the reflection on what isn't a part of our lives that we wish still was.

For me personally, this month especially, I'm struggling to see past the dark clouds of a failed friendship.

One of those long-lasting, childhood friendships that suddenly ended 6 months ago in a surprising way for me with a lot of confusion and sadness. Hearing about things I'd done that hurt her deeply and I truly had no idea. My heart is deeply grieved and wounded. I'm not at all sure how to process it, and honestly I think about it all. the. time.

How can I be a better friend? Can this yet be redeemed and the friendship be restored?

There are days it all honestly hurts so badly I can barely breathe.

I found a picture of her the other day. I started shaking as I picked it up. I choked back the flood of tears. The memories flooded my mind and overwhelmed me.

I'm not sure how to feel or what to say. It all aches beyond comprehension, and while she did not die, it somewhat feels like a death. She's gone in so many ways to me. We can't just pick up where we left off in our conversations anymore. We don't talk on the phone, we don't email, we don't text, and we don't see each other.

And oh wow, I really, really, really miss her.

Almost daily.

She was a lifeline for me in so many ways. She was like a sister to me and a part of my family for so long. I cannot believe this is it for us. It just feels like it can't be.

Things change. We grow and mature, we change and life happens. But this? This is ridiculously hard and painful. I am struggling with it so much.

For the ways that I messed up and didn't handle things the way I should have, I repented and she graciously forgave. But that's it, we're just not what we were. We've attempted to talk about it but it's just not happening. I will forever regret what happened.

There is no perfect friendship. No perfect marriage. No perfect anything.

But there are great marriages, incredible friendships, and truly lasting relationships. We have to work hard on both sides, learn to forgive, and seek communication and openness. Relationships are tough and we all have our moments, but the truly amazing friendships that we find along the road of life are the ones that are with us forever... through thick and thin, no matter what.

I'm blessed beyond measure with extraordinary friends. At least a few that I have no doubt will be lifelong friends, no matter where life takes us or how far apart we are physically. They are just those kind of people.

My people. 

I'm sure you have people you also know will undoubtedly be there for you. But if you've ever suffered a loss, you know that life surprises you and it can be crazy hard. We just have to keep doing our best to build and sustain what we have.

February can be so fantastic and fulfilling, wounding and challenging. Love and loss. Joy and sadness.

I pray you are able to embrace whatever comes your way this month and that you love well those who are in your life, and pray for those who no longer are.

[And despite that my February month blog post is weeks behind schedule, I hope you still read this and can find something to get from it even though February is practically over!]



image from flickr

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A 19-Month Old and Future Baby Thoughts

Elijah is 19 months old now.

Running around, still in love with the outdoors, being an even pickier eater than I am, saying more words every day (the way he says flowers, fly, please, and thank you are particularly cute!), climbing everywhere, smashing into things and hurting himself constantly (so. very. accident. prone.), playing more with video boxes and tupperware containers than his actual toys, loves helping put things in the trash (yes, including things we DO NOT want in the trash) and helping out around the house like putting his clothes in the hamper or sweeping (er, his version of sweeping), following us around like a little puppy, in love with "oof oofs" (dogs), loves books and reading so long as he's in the right mood, enjoys craft time, loves people and saying bye bye and blowing kisses even to random strangers, absolutely loved Christmas lights, does well in car rides generally, does an incredible job laying still at the chiropractor's office and being adjusted/treated, still constantly sick with croup or bronchiolitis, and is very much a daddy's boy.

painting with his feet at daycare

He's a true delight and I marvel constantly at him. Even when the days are long and so very hard, or when the challenges that surface are beyond anything I think I can handle either physically or emotionally... I know this time will ultimately fly by. And I'm so very, very grateful for his precious little life.

I soak in his laugh and smile. I kiss his cheeks constantly. Any chance I get I hug him tight. We sing and dance and laugh and chase and snuggle and rock and read and pray and run and push him on cars and visit friends and enjoy life and look up at the sky and breathe in the crisp air and praise God for each new day we get with him.

I have no idea what the future holds. But I've been thinking about it constantly. Nagging at me every moment of the day is the question about whether or not we'll have another child.

It's completely 100% up to God. We are not trying and we are not preventing. We are praying for God's wisdom, direction, and timing in this matter.

We are SO thankful that it's up to him and not us, because we honestly don't know what we'd do. Sometimes we feel like 1 child is perfect - that we cannot handle another one. Something I never thought I'd say in a million years (I simply did not ever want to have an only child). Sometimes I desperately long to carry another baby. Sometimes I get overjoyed at the idea of a sibling for him (knowing full well that would be it - I'll be 37 in June so time is ticking!). Sometimes I get haunted by the idea of him growing up without a sibling to lean on when we're possibly old and gray. I adore my older brother and I cannot imagine my life without him. It pains me. But then I think about a family we know from growing up where the older brother was hit by a car at the age of 13, and she's growing up without a sibling.

Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is certain in this life.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I think about the next 3.5 years. Like everything is up to these next few years. Like when I turn 40 it's all over. Period.

It's hard to focus on simply trusting God.

To not let the fear in that threatens to consume me. To not let that overwhelming panic creep up and suffocate me fully.

Because, you see, if you've been around here long then you know how hard Elijah's birth story was. You know about my health concerns, the need for induction, the long labor process, the sudden need for a c-section, and his 11 days in the NICU which forever traumatized me (and still sometimes haunts me even though I've ultimately grown to be thankful for the experience and all that it taught us). You know how terrifying that all was for me.

And you can understand how hard it would be for me to do it all over again.

I often go back and re-read my friend Mary's birth story of her first daughter. It was even worse and scarier than mine, and has me on the edge of my seat every time I read it. It's a good reminder to me that not only could it have been worse (sorry Mary!), but the second time can be so much different than the first. No pregnancy or delivery is the same, of course.

But it's still so hard to know what to do and think and exactly how to pray about it. How to plan for it (like what to do with that spare toddler bed in our attic that Tim's brother gave us - do we use it for Elijah or do we convert his crib to the toddler bed which is what we anticipated for when he's ready to switch... or do we wait for a baby?... and do we give away his clothes that he's grown out of because if we do have another baby I can't tell you how very desperately I long for a girl and might just shrivel to bits if we were to have another boy, not that it's a big deal, but seriously...?!?!?!). Oh man.

Really though.

I trust God completely and leave it fully in his almighty hands. Not that it's always easy. There are days when I struggle and want to pull the reigns in and handle it all myself.

I want to know. Just like you want to know about that next thing in your life - job, car, house, move, or another baby for you.

The waiting is the hardest part.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)
We are all really so very blessed. And the Lord will continue to reveal his plan for us as the days and years go on. Just keep trusting.

And I will too.

So no matter what happens and whether we have a second child or not, we are over-the-moon crazy about and in love with our little boy.

He has such a sweet, sensitive, helpful, kind spirit despite the stubborn willfulness and feisty attitude beginning to show. Below is a picture of him sweetly rocking a friend at daycare who was tired.



This kid. We love him so very much and cannot believe God blessed us with him. We don't want to take a single moment for granted!!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

In the Illness Trenches

This is not a post to make you feel sorry for me. This is not a post to make you feel guilty if you are healthy.

That being said, let's go....

Being in the trenches of trials and suffering through a chronic illness is often very lonely.

Very. very.

Lonely.

Dark.

Hard.

Somedays it feels like you're climbing a mountain. Daily.

Taking supplements and vitamins. Researching the latest health trends. Researching treatments. Seeing doctors and specialists. Being tested until you're blue in the face. Emailing your doctors so much that you're certain they're convinced you're a bit crazy.

Overwhelmed by articles shared and friends doing their best to share ideas they've heard of with you. It can often hit like a ton of bricks to get yet another suggestion on something to take, to do, or to consider when you've either already heard of it or can't possibly try one.more.thing.

Too much is sometimes too much when you are simply trying to survive. 

Everyone has good intentions, of course. But sometimes we just want to be still. Be quiet. And not have to be faced with the reality of our illness every single moment of every single day.

It's exhausting and draining.

It's a tough road.

All this suffering. In pain. And other random symptoms that are so ridiculous you're not always sure it's part of your illness or just a part of life and you got all the bad luck.

You ask your doctors a million questions. And feel like they're tired of trying to help you. {Even when you feel you have the absolute best primary doctor and chiropractors in the world, like I do.}

You are doing things you never wanted to or ever dreamed of doing. Forcing your loved ones to care for you in ways you could have never imagined. And would never wish on them. It brings tears to your eyes sometimes to think of it.

We desperately long for community, and sometimes all we can do is get online and reach out or seek those who are like us. It's a saving grace for those who are homebound. It's an outlet when there's nothing else.

But real life. Knowing people in person who struggle with chronic illness can be a really big deal and a huge way to deal with it all. Connect with those, whenever and however you can.

I must confess. For me, it continues to be a battle to be close friends with people who are truly healthy in basically every way. I battle jealousy and frustration because I wish I was them. There's a barrier in our relationship that we wish wasn't there. We want to understand and we know they want to understand us, but there will always be a difference in our realities.

One cannot truly understand until they've been there.

It's simply true.

As much as I love those in my life who are healthy, my dearest, closest friends are those who have also struggled. Who can fully share in my joys and fears, my trials and victories, my pain and suffering, my love and zest for life despite it all, and especially those who share my love of Jesus.

I do not want you to feel guilty if you don't have these issues. Truly. It's okay. I just have to be real with those who come here with illnesses. To encourage and remind them that as they battle these feelings too, they aren't the only ones.

For me though, another saving grace is that most of the time, my husband is the one who makes me stay sane with this battle. Though he cannot comprehend what I'm dealing with daily, he lives it alongside of me day in and day out, so he sees and understands better than most.

I know that Fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses are really misunderstood. Some people still believe Fibromyalgia is more in the head than anything else. I wish I could convince anyone reading this that it's not. That concept is still baffling to me. It's an illness. It's so hard. And people thinking it's "made up" just hurts the whole of the Fibromyalgia community.

Today I've had a burst of energy and have gotten a ton of things done around our house. It's a great feeling.

But I've also been fighting a ton of pain today as I've been doing all of that. I hurt everywhere. It just never goes away. So even when I can function well, I'm never ever going to be normal again.

There are days I can do more. There are days I can only rest and want to scream as pain tears through every ounce of my body.

The majority of people cannot possibly understand that. Though they can have sympathy, pray for me, and surround me during desperate times of need... they can't wrap their heads around what my life is fully like. Not that I expect them to.

I just mean that I think those of us dealing with chronic illnesses need people close in our lives who truly understand and can relate on a more intimate level. 

For those of you who are in the trenches with illness, you also need to know that 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You will face dark, hard days. It's going to be okay. 

You will struggle indefinitely, perhaps your entire life. Take it one day at a time. 

You will wish it would end, you will beg God to take it away. Cry out to him in pain and trust him to handle it for you, and pray for his strength.

You will face deep loneliness. You are not alone. Reach out and share your story with others. Let people in. Talk about what fears and struggles you face. Don't give up, there is always hope!

I promise in the end, everything will truly be okay. God will make it right. For now he just asks us to obey and to trust him.

It's a sinful, messy, hard world out there. Everyone has something hard in their lives, and this is what God has allowed for us. It may not make sense most days and you will wish you were healthier, but try to think positively and focus on what ways you've grown through your illness.

In the trenches, alongside you.

Hang in there and remember that God loves you, no matter what.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


If you've stuck around here and watched our lives on this blog this year, I can't thank you enough. It means so much to me to be able to share this space with you.

I know my blog has shifted a bit since Elijah came along, but your continued readership and support is so special.

We praise God for a great year, even in the midst of real challenges, and we can truly say we are not the same people entering into 2015 as we were when 2014 came along.

We aren't who we could be. We aren't who we should be. But by God's grace, we aren't who we were. [quote taken from our pastor]

2015 will bring my cousin becoming a grandma, my aunt getting remarried after losing her husband to melanoma two years ago, our niece getting married in the mountains of Tennessee with an extended mini-vacation for us back where we went on our honeymoon, and probably so much more! But that's all we know of so far.

Hopefully our health issues will continue to improve with herbal medicine and chiropractic treatments, my panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety of these past two months will dissipate, and we will continue to marvel and be amazed at all the ways that Elijah continues to grow, change, and learn.

Here's to a great 2015, with the hard 2014 finally in the rearview mirror!!

Hoping you all had a great Christmas, and here's to a growing and peaceful 2015!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

16 Months

{one month late... neglected to post this!}

At 16 months, Elijah is hilarious and keeps us on our toes so often! Like any 16 month old, he's bursting full of energy, curiosity, exploration, and activity.




He loves to blow kisses - even to the squirrels in the yard, planes in the air, and the dogs on our walks.





He's a little swing addict, but what toddler isn't?!


Oh short sleeves... less than 1 month ago and we miss you so! 18 degrees as we speak. It is not January. Go away.




He has a serious, thoughtful, shy streak to him. It really makes me wonder if his personality is a lot like mine: times of being bubbly and funny and outgoing, other times of being introspective and quiet and thoughtful.








He's starting to understand what we say - no, yes, ball, trash, open, close, door, car, daddy, mommy, give mama, careful, stop, turn around, please, thank you, more, all done, eat, hungry, water, milk, paci, good job, high five, listen, calm, and walk.

He says or has at least once said: mama, daddy, ball, bubble, oops, whoa, woof, ohhh, light, yeah, all done, and probably more I can't think of right this minute.

He's a complete sweetheart with a spunky personality. He loves people but can randomly be shy depending on the situation. He loves waving, blowing kisses, giving high fives, playing basketball, pushing his bubble lawnmower, taking walks {he'd be outside all the time if he could!}, pointing up at the planes in the sky, playing at the playground {we live by a park and every. single. walk if we don't go to the park he whines and gets upset... we're working on that}, thinks it's hilarious to sit where mommy or daddy usually sit in the living room and imitate them {like point the remote at the tv... both hilarious and scary}, pretends to talk into the phone, is obsessed with gadgets and electronics, has started giving us actual kisses, genuinely enjoys his daycare friends and teachers and gets excited now when he sees the building in the morning and reaches out to the building like he can't get there fast enough {should this scare me?! LOL!}, and loves going up and down the stairs like a big boy!

with daycare buddy Caleb on their favorite little play area
He's completely obsessed with the outdoors, playgrounds, taking walks, and pushing his bubble lawnmower. I think he'd stay outside all the time if he could! He's also obsessed with gadgets of any sort. He waves and blows kisses at dogs, and gets mad if we walk away from dogs before he can pet them. He loves to 'draw' on paper and on pumpkins. He knows and loves our older next door neighbor. He loves magnets and gets so mad when he can't get them off the fridge. He waves at people so often, it still surprises me when he cries and runs to me when he gets afraid {usually if someone is coming up to the door and I'm not holding him}.

He's quite a treat and we are so blessed. It really is hard to believe he's nearing 1 1/2 years old. I know it's going to continue to go in the blink of an eye, and I'm trying to soak it in. I don't want this Winter to disappear in a total blur like last year did!!

Oh Fall, how we miss you already.


A few weeks ago Elijah had a sudden spike in fever, going up to 104 and it was a bit scary! But gratefully he just had some little bug and it went away as quickly as it came. Praise God! Those scary-high fevers are awful. But we soaked in the snuggles!!



And as of the past 1.5 weeks {so, after the above pics when he was sick}, he's DONE with the pacifier!!! I can tell it would help him occasionally, but we're so glad that he's forgotten about it and isn't asking for it anymore. Whew!

He's an incredible sleeper even though he doesn't love sleeping through the night, but his morning naps rock. He gave them up at about 14 months at daycare {2 days a week}, but he's always still so tired on days when he's at home, so I haven't had him stop them yet. He just keeps seeming to need them. But I can tell it's coming to a close. And I'm soooo not wanting to give them up yet. It's my hardest thing right now... long, dark, cold winter days right when he's about to give up those morning naps. Oh you guys. I can't do it. It makes me so very sad. And so incredibly overwhelmed.

Sigh.

I know it'll be okay and we'll find yet another new normal. But it's a tough one for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rough Weekends and Family Photos

It was a rough weekend and we barely survived it.

I struggled with severe anxiety on Friday. 
But we had a great date night.

Saturday I hit my head HARD on our table and I got dizzy. 
But I spoke with two doctors who are incredible
and it reminded me of our broken and sensitive our 
finite human bodies are, and just how much we all
need Jesus. Daily. 

I was required to rest and not drive for 24 hours just in case
concussion-like symptoms appeared. 
But gratefully they didn't. I was okay. 
And reminded how important life is
and how careful we must be with what God has given to us.

Hubby was gone much of Saturday, serving at church so willingly 
and picking up two items we'd purchased online super cheap from two
area suburbs. We missed him dearly especially with my head injury.
But we were reminded just how much we cherish him and his
helpfulness & sacrifices. And we are so grateful to be rid now of said-table
that I hit my head on, now that we have a new organization center for our kitchen, 
and we have an incredible new climbing/slide/play station in our family room 
for Elijah. Both items are fantastic additions to our home for only $30. 
So grateful and humbled by what we have.

My mom called a couple hours after lunch with the bad, distressing news
that my stepbrother had been found dead.
No reason. 45 years old. Tragic. 
But God has given comfort to so many in the midst of this tragedy.
Please pray for Jay's 3 kids, 3 sisters, my stepdad and mom, 
nieces & nephews, etc. Please pray for people to come to 
know and love Jesus from this. 

Late Sunday afternoon, we managed to squeeze in taking family photos with our tripod and remote. 




And if you get our Christmas cards, you'll get to see the rest of the good ones. ;) 

It was nice to be able to end the weekend on a high note!
Rough weekends happen. It makes for long weeks sometimes. 
But God is there in the midst of all of it. 
It could certainly be better. It can always be worse.
And we are so grateful and humbled by his love and goodness to us.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

Of course now that we have a kiddo, we'll be joining the ranks of sharing pictures of kids & pumpkins together! :) But we just have to show him off as he takes in his first real time at a Pumpkin Patch {and by patch, I mean that generically as they're all just stacked together}. While he was there last year too, he's just now realizing what's going on and taking it all in.

Watching him experience everything and seeing it through his eyes was SO much fun!!! It was seriously incredibly special.

So on Saturday morning, we went to a nearby pumpkin patch, farm, cafe, etc, that holds an annual Fall Festival with tons of goodies and animals everywhere. We didn't do any of the rides or animal stuff yet since Elijah's not old enough, but we did take a peek from the sidelines and I reminisced about 3 years ago when we first took our little buddy Parker there!

Such sweet memories. And now there are many more!


Elijah enjoyed helping choose 8 little pumpkins to donate to his daycare classroom. What fun!


Grandpa & Grandma were with us too! Such a special treat!!



We tried taking him around to the corn and places where you could stand and take pictures behind random cartoon characters, but he wasn't the least bit interested. He just wanted to run back to the pumpkins!!



First time touching a real, big pumpkin!




Our lil' fam


Not quite sure how my mom managed to grab such a great pic as it was so crowded and we were feeling a bit rushed, but isn't the look on his face priceless?!?! :)



Yum, yum!



Elijah was quite enthralled with the camels



And the giraffes in the distance!


Aww my sweet boy


Funny faces with daddy


Before we left of course we had to get some yummy treats - including fresh hot apple cider, some coffee for Grandpa, fresh apple cider donuts, and freshly made kettle corn. Super yummy!

And finally, here's our big boy walking with Grandma back to our car. Love this. :) 



A truly wonderful experience on a perfectly gorgeous Fall day!!

It is amazing to watch the world through a child's eyes. I'm floored every day by something he sees or does or exclaims "whoaaa!!" to. He's growing and changing so much, I can barely keep up. He's almost 16 months old and I'm not sure how to process that.

We are trying to soak in every beautiful Fall day, and every chance we get to experience something new with Elijah in this stage... because all too soon we'll be stuck inside for the Winter. For a child who looooooooves the outdoors, this will be a challenging season!

So Fall, please stay around just a little bit longer.