Category: my heart

actually living.

About a week or so ago, I heard a remark somewhere (honestly cannot remember where I heard it) and it went something like this:

Are you actually living your life or are you living it through your phone?

Besides Instagram, despite what it might seem, I really don’t log onto social media much. I post everything through Instagram and then I occasionally get on the facebooks to give a status about my boringbuthilarious life. So it really isn’t the social media thing making me not live my life…

It is my camera.

I’ve lived a good part of my life now through the camera on my phone. Constantly trying to capture that perfect picture and spending time coming up with the perfect caption.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t regret a single picture. I’m so proud and thankful I have captured so many details of our life through pictures because it sets our family up to never forget anything. I know my kids will immensely enjoy having so many pictures of them growing up. No one ever regrets taking too many pictures.

What I DO regret is the times I’ve been more concerned about taking the picture than with what is actually going on. I’ve missed out on a lot of fun and gotten frustrated for no reason because ALL I WANT IS A FREAKING PERFECT PICTURE or ALL I WANT IS TO CAPTURE THIS BEAUTIFUL (I think? because I’m not really living it…) MOMENT.

So, the past couple of weeks you’ve seen less pictures because I’ve “challenged” (hate that word, but whatever) myself to maybe give up a few pictures to actually LIVE in the moment instead of living through my phone.

Most of all, I want my children to remember me as a mom who enjoyed time with them and not remember me for only trying to get a picture to enjoy.

Is any of this making sense? Do any of you struggle with this as well?

So this post is, GASP, going to have a lot of very imperfect/not-so-good pictures. And, even more shocking, I AM OKAY WITH IT.

Last week we took a little mini-vacation to the Chattanooga area. To say we had a good time would be the understatement of the century.

Friday night we met with our friends Amber and Bill and their three boys for dinner in Downtown Chattanooga. It was so good to see them and see their boys. Amber and Bill went to my dad’s church when I was a freshman in college. They married a week after Andy and I and we have kept in touch (thank goodness for the internets!) ever since. We walked to the park by the river and let the kids play. It was so cute seeing them play together. Rory and Will (and Ryder a little bit) played tag and it was so cute. Amber is such a good, fun mom and you can so tell just being around her kids. They have great imaginations and are so fun.

(The “funny” thing about not taking so many pictures is that the girls did much better when I did want their pictures taken… interestingggg.)

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We did our normal Hotwire thing and stayed in the Chattanooga Choo Choo for about 1/4th the price you could book it online. HOLLA, Hotwire, HOLLA.

Now. I will say the hotel wasn’t a 4 star retreat. But it was clean and had great outdoor pools and the room was very large. So, what else do you need?

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The girls absolutely loved seeing the trains. They were so cute soaking it all in.

Rory was obsessed with “The Big City”. She kept saying, “Mom. When are we going to go back to The Big City? When can we go explore The Big City?” It was so cute.

One of their favorite parts of the entire trip was riding the free shuttle Chattanooga has that runs downtown. They seriously thought it was the.best.ever.

Saturday we rode the shuttle to the Tennessee Aquarium. The girls hadn’t been to a real aquarium before so I knew it would be really fun. But I had NO IDEA how awesome it would be to experience them seeing it and taking it all in. I just had no clue.

They were so cute and thrilled and EXCITED the entire time. Everything blew their minds. Watching them made me (and Andy!) laugh and giggle and it was just such an overwhelming blessing to see our kids enjoy something so much. I know it is just the aquarium but y’all don’t even understand. I literally cried watching them enjoy it so much. And because I kept my phone put up and on silent, I got to truly soak in every second of it.

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Their favorite part was the sharks for sure. Rory loved touching the sting rays too. It was such an awesome experience. I cannot wait to take them back, and now I’m definitely taking them to the Atlanta aquarium as soon as I can!

After the fun morning, we walked to Coolidge Park. Walking in heat never ends well with Ryder. Her legs most certainly stopped working. But we FINALLY made it after some tears and a lot of sweat. The girls and I rode the beautiful carousal and then the girls played in the fountains while mom and dad took a rest in the shade.

(Rory is practically a TEENAGER in these pics! wahhh!)

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The girls loved staying in hotels for a few nights. Only one night they slept decent though. We decided to do two double beds instead of a big king bed. I’m not entirely sure that was the best choice, but who knows. All I know is that it seemed like we did A WHOLE FREAKIN’ LOT of playing musical beds. We started off one way and woke up in totally different beds every night.

(Musical beds is a lot like musical chairs except there is no music and mommy ends up with no sleep.)

But, the girls were so cute snuggled together at the beginning of each night.

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Y’all. We had an amazing weekend.

I took some pictures and most of them are poor camera-phone quality.

And I don’t even care.

I enjoyed every second with my family (no for real- like every second) and the girls got to have their mom sans phone.

It is the best thing I’ve done for my girls and for myself

Sometimes you need to actually live your life instead of trying to make it fit into your camera. Am I right?!

ten beautiful years.

Fourteen moves: eleven apartments and houses, seven cities, and four states.

5 wonderful, spontaneous, and adventurous years before children; 5 beautiful, sleep-deprived, and joyful years after children.

Years of little, years of a lot.

Years with both trials and many, many blessings.

Always an abundance of laughter.

Our love still abounds and challenges and molds and compromises.

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I remember when Andy and I got married and the day my mom dropped me and my final belongings off at our house in Starkville. I thought something was wrong with me because I felt so alone and frankly, scared of life without my parents.

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Andy and I were so young when we got married and we had no idea how to act once we were living under the same roof.

We got into a groove and really a lot of the time it seemed like a really long sleepover. It was fun and new and strange sometimes.

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We had a lot of fun years living here and there and everywhere while in school and for Andy’s internship.

We even lived in an RV for six months on the MS Gulf Coast right after Katrina. And we loved it.

After Andy graduated he got an awesome job and we moved to Louisiana. We went on weekend trips all the time, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

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Then we were transferred to Texas and had a baby and our life bloomed into something totally different but absolutely wonderful.

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And then fifteen months after our first baby, the second one came. Life was so crazy, sometimes I felt like I was drowning. Between the sleepless nights with Rory and the (literal) heartache of Ryder’s sickness.

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A few years later, we got the opportunity to move closer to home in Tennessee and have so enjoyed having family close by.

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We have just been through pretty much everything together. We have grown up together. Matured together.

We have been through deaths of friends and family together.

So, so, so, so many sleepless nights.

A critically sick child.

We have been terrible to each other at times, and we have nourished each other at times. We have fought and made up too many times to even try to count. We have seen each other at our very ugliest and most selfish. We have most definitely seen the good, bad, and the ugly in each other.

Oh how these ten years have been full of both heartache and complete joy.

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The thing I have always “bucked up” and reminded myself of, even when one of us is being selfish or petty or a complete butt, is that my marriage is everything to me.

My marriage is always, always worth fighting for.

At the end of the day, I’m always wanting to get in the bed with him (even if he snores!). I always want to go on date nights and trips and spend time alone.

I’m determined to not let the sleepless nights (which is one of the hardest things we have been through because it affects both of us mentally, physically, and emotionally) and trials that arise in our lives kill our relationship.

It is such hard work, especially when you are desperately tired.

But it is so worth it.

Andy is my lifeline. He is my helper, my friend, my lover (look away mom!), my leader. I need him, and I do believe he needs me just as much.

We work well together, we are such a good team.

We make each other laugh every single day.

Andy gives me so much joy and so much security.

I honestly can’t believe God blessed me with him. That He chose Andy for me.

It has been ten truly beautiful years.

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Andy- thank you for loving me. Thank you for never giving up on me, even after seeing me at my worst. I am so proud of you and can’t find the words to say how incredibly thankful I am for you. You are the best gift God has ever given me. I promise that I will always fight for you and for us. I love you more than words can say. Happy Ten Years, babe- and here’s to 70 more to come. 

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because of today.

We have had one horrible week. The things that have gone down, the actions of others, and health scares have just wrecked havoc on us.

I got a call on Wednesday morning from my mom and I could tell by her voice something had happened. I’ll never forget that same voice when she told me Sam had died. I got a chill over my entire body and braced myself for the blow.

It was T. She had heard something had happened to him and that he was at the hospital. She didn’t know what, but she knew I would want to know.

I immediately started to cry. I was so scared he was gone. So terrified I’d never see him again, never get a hug from him again. Never tell him I was proud of him again.

Thankfully, he’s okay. By the grace of God only is he still here, for more than just this week.

There are times I’ve been mad at him, and others very close to me who are in this same boat, for putting the people who love him through this. For being so selfish.

But I’m over that. Now I’m just so sorrowful that because of some wrong choices, he will forever live with this demon.

Not saying he can’t be completely healed, I know God can work that miracle, but he will always have it in his mind. Always have to fight the desire to go back.

And honestly, aren’t we all the same way?

My parents and sisters and cousins and aunts (well, apparently everyone) tell stories of how I used to put my hand on my hip and say things like “what the hell?!” and “Damnit!” as young as 3.

Now, the stories really are hilarious and mortifying to my parents, I’m sure, to this day but I can’t help but think of it as the beginning.

You see, one of my biggest “addictions”, if you will, is my potty mouth. I’ve apparently always had it. I have such a hard time with it. You wouldn’t believe. I have trained myself to only say things out loud in front of people who I know won’t mind it (I guess? Who enjoys hearing foul language?) BUT my mind is always saying those words. All of them.

It is my sin that I deal with at all times. I’ve had years of no cursing and then I go back to it. Over and over I’ve done this.

So what is the difference?

.. for ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23

My foul language that causes me to be a stumbling block to others or to make my witness not mean as much is a sin just as much as a drug addiction.

I’ve really been thinking a lot this week about my sins that are every day struggles for me. I’ve been viewing my life from an outsider trying to see what they would see in me that was different.

And I’ve been brought to tears over and over again.

In tears over the people close to me who don’t know Him how I know Him. Possibly they haven’t seen His greatness enough in me. Sure they witnessed the miracles with Ryder, but since then? Nah. I’ve been in a funk. A negative place. A place that I cannot believe I’m in after all the goodness and peace and miracles I saw just over two years ago (and throughout my entire life).

But that’s how life happens. Just like the addict who runs back to drugs, alcohol, food, pornography, curse words, or whatever their sin is- I keep running away from God. I can’t seem to be able to sit still in His greatness. To abide in Him. I can’t seem to think I’m good enough for it so I use that as my excuse to go back. To go back to reckless behavior that affects those around me who don’t know Him. To go back (over and over again) to my mouth that spews words that are a hazard to my testimony and my witness.

Sin is sin. And no matter what it is, there is never a “too low” for Jesus.

And because of today on Good Friday, His grace covers EVERYONE. Every single one of us. His blood was shed so that we would never die. NEVER. We will live in eternity with Him, if only we accept His gift.

That means that nothing you or I can ever do will separate us. Absolutely nothing. Even if I run back to my foul mouth, I am still a child of God. He still forgives me over and over and over again.

Even if T runs back to his sin, God still forgives him over and over again. He forgave him before he ever took the first hit. Before the first bad decision that led him to where he is now, God had already forgiven Him.

Yes, as believers and Christians we should desire to live a holy life. But we all mess up. There would be no reason for Jesus if we didn’t. We all sin and fall short. But Jesus catches us and washes grace over us again and again.

I pulled an all-nighter with Ryder last night and I sang a lot of songs and prayed a lot of prayers.

I also had a realization again in my life that I’m forgiven. Jesus died for ME. Sometimes it is good to feel those butterflies again. To come to the place of realization for the 100th time that ME, the lowly sinner who has so many flaws and scars, has a Savior that loves me so much He died for me.

He did that for you, too, dear friends. You are never too far gone. Never. There is absolutely nothing you can do to separate yourself from God. He forgave you before you ever sinned.

Because of today, I can face tomorrow. I can face any sin and any storm, because He died for me and He rose on the third day to claim victory over my sins once and for all.

“But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts 13: 37-39

Lyrics to Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone):

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine


 

 

 

watched : rising above insecurities in the church

There was a time, way back when, that I didn’t quite embrace the fact that my life naturally attracted all things weird, embarrassing, different, and “dirty”.

I was a preacher’s kid and I was always so watched that I was rather insecure for much of my growing up. Though it has gotten better, I still tend to want to retreat there in that insecure state of mind.

I lived most of my life so afraid of disappointing people. I learned very early on to reign it in and act the way I knew people expected.

I will never forget the time I went to the skating rink and dropped my skates in front of everyone and OH THE HORROR I said a hearty, “SHIT”, right in front of two Sunday School teachers and 3 other church members. Just recalling this memory makes the guilt rise back up. I seriously needed therapy from that. I just knew they would tell my dad and he would be so disappointed in me.

And is there anything worse in the world than that?

I was just a normal kid, doing normal sinful things though. Does that excuse it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I wasn’t some hellion that was too far gone from the grace of Jesus like I really thought I was at the time.

I continued my life with the “watched” mentality. There were times I’d test the watched theory and go to a PG13 movie with a boy that my parents probably/most likely/absolutely wouldn’t really like. I would go through stages of sneakiness just to try and see what got back to my parents.

And I didn’t have it half as bad as my sisters did. They were a part of churches that were even more legalistic and judgmental and not as grace-giving as I was.

Then at the wise, old age of 18 I got married. I absolutely was in love with Andy, but I’m pretty sure I was more in love with the idea of being free and away from the life as a pastor’s child.

Marriage = freedom? HA

When Andy and I first got married we “went to church” but we didn’t get involved. We moved a lot because of his internships so when we lived on the coast we barely, if ever attended church. When we lived in Starkville we went to church solely because we LOVED our Sunday School teachers and class. Eventually, though, it became more of a social thing for us than a “let’s actually seek Jesus and grow in Him” thing.

Everytime I would start to really be a part of a church and rise up to lead in some way or another, I would always retreat and run away from that.

Why?

Because I would be watched again. All those insecurities that I had about never being good enough or enough of a proper southern church lady or straight-laced enough…. they would rise back up like fire inside of me. It would literally tear me apart.

Why?

Because I knew, and still know, that I’m never going to be that person. I’m absolutely NOT straight-laced and absolutely NOT a perfect, proper Southern church lady.

I won’t ever be.

Why?

Because that is not who God made me.

Four years ago we moved to Texas and had a precious baby. It scared me to death because I knew from that point on I would be permanently watched by someone. I had no choice but to decide to just be me.

I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going to always measure up. I wasn’t always going to succeed at everything. I was absolutely going to disappoint people and fail.

Because I’m human.

I’m not some overly spiritual, say-the-right-things, legalistic to a T person.

I’ve NEVER been that person. I wasn’t RAISED to be that person. I was letting all of those people who always “watched” me and my family still dictate how my life was turning out.

And those people had judged me and deemed me no good long before they ever took the chance to know me.

So during that time of realizing that I would always be watched by my daughter, I took that as an opportunity to really get to know myself and really get to know God and really get to know what He wanted for my life.

And during that time He slowly showed me that I had something to offer my family, my friends, and my church that a lot of people are afraid to offer: REALNESS.

So over the course of about a year we got really active in a church in Texas and I fell in love with church again. I fell in love with other Christians. I fell in love with Jesus all over again.

The difference was that I went into it saying that if I didn’t get on leadership because I was committed to being real, then so be it. I knew God wanted me to not fake it- he wanted me to always be myself, the person He created in His own image.

My time in Texas was so full of growth and LIFE and loving people (the dirtier the better) and being loved on. I will forever be thankful for that time of spiritual growth for me.

Then we moved to Savannah. And whoa, culture shock of a small town.

Instead of continuing my “calling”, if you will, of being real, I retreated. I hid my true self to select people, started faking it again, and was completely and totally miserable.

Y’all. For me, THAT IS A SIN.

I was showing my children the wrong thing- I was acting one way at church and another at home.

I had gone back to being “watched” and insecure and feeling like a failure AT ALL TIMES.

I knew people simply did not like me when I was real, so I started being quiet and even ashamed of things that I do in my life that ARE NOT SINS (drinking a glass of wine with my husband is a good example of this).

At this point, I actually started sinning more. My thoughts became so negative all the time. My mouth spewed curse words (my biggest struggle in life is my potty mouth). Ugliness was spewing from me…. until I was at church with certain people and then I was the “perfect Southern church lady”.

That’s the thing about sin, it sneaks up on you and transforms you before you even know what is happening.

A few weeks ago, I was given an agreement to sign if I wanted to be on leadership. It stated that I could never consume alcohol.

And that is when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had gone completely back to the person I hated, the person who felt insecure and watched. The person who was never going to be good enough, never going to measure up. Never going to be able to reach unbelievers because I just wasn’t capable if I didn’t live a “picture perfect” life.

What hit me so hard that night- the thing that caused me to cry for literally two weeks straight, the thing that made me physically nauseous- was the realization that me, a sinner saved by the Grace of God and 100% certain that I am going to Heaven because Jesus died on the Cross for me, felt this way…

so how much more does someone searching for that same Savior feel about ever stepping foot in a church?

If I feel that way, can you even imagine how a non-believer feels?

Just typing this is making me cry.

So here I am. Slapped in the face with the realization that God wants more from me.

He wants me to get dirty.

He desperately wants me (and you) to be real.

He wants me to tell how I’ve been married for ten years to a man I adore but that is has been HARD at times.

He wants me to tell that being a mom is gut wrenchingly difficult no matter what stage of life you are in with your children and no matter if you stay home or go to work.

He wants me to NEVER portray perfection because that is A LIE that the DEVIL is using to win people. Perfection was something saved only for Jesus. We are not called to be perfect- we are called to strive towards it and we are called to confess when we do wrong and pick ourselves up and TRY EVEN HARDER THE NEXT TIME.

So here is the truth, y’all.

I am a messy failure sometimes. I sometimes cuss and I’m trying hard to reign that sin in. I have tattoos. I drink wine on occasion. Andy and I fight and make up more times than I can count- but man are we always trying to have a better marriage. I yell at my kids and feel terrible about it. Sometimes I just wish I could work full time because my kids are STINKERS and whew mercy, HARD to deal with some days.

More importantly though, I am a child of God who desperately wants what HE wants for my life.

I don’t want to be insecure because he holds my security on the Cross.

If you are struggling like me, let me know. We can encourage each other in this marathon of life. We can build each other up in a world where Christians can be the WORST at tearing each other down.

I just want what God has revealed over time He wants for me- realness. Even if that means I’m not accepted in some “Christian circles”. If I’m obeying God, I don’t care if I’m accepted or not.

glimpses.

I have been SICK this week. So sick I was quarantined in my room for several days and barely able to raise my head.

But even so, I’ve been able to take in some glimpses of life that I wouldn’t normally be able to appreciate quite as much.

Glimpses of the girls growing up especially. The way Rory would knock on my locked door and say, “Mom! Are you still sick? I love you! I hope you feel better!” and then run off. Then Ryder would do the same. The way Rory would poke her head in and say, “Do you need anything, Mom?” like such a big girl. The way Ryder would just knock LOUDLY and run off in her ever-so-pesky manner that never leaves her.

I catch glances of pictures of when the girls were tiny and think, “wow- how did this happen? How did these years pass so quickly and yet seem to never end at the same time?” Do you ever feel this way? Like time is at a stand still but also faster than light? I feel like that sums up motherhood or parenthood so well.

I’ve also seen major glimpses of hope around our house lately.

I have started some new routines and somehow they have worked. Rory has been reading herself to sleep at night which is a true miracle. She has been sleeping so much better as well, so how could I not be hopeful? Behavior is so much better with more sleep and spirits are high in the Harris house over these new accomplishments.

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And have I mentioned how incredibly smart Rory is? Surely not. Ha! She “reads” the entire Go Dogs Go book. Andy and I will go in our room and turn on the monitor and listen to her read it to herself. It is precious.

And more importantly than all of that, there are glimpses of hope for our marriage to be exactly what we fight for it to be all throughout this house these days.

From the way Andy is paying more attention, to the way I’m not being so sensitive. From the way Andy suggested we go to a marriage class to which I was eager to attend with him because we BOTH need it. Glimpses of hope seeping through our skin as we drive home after the first class and both apologize because we realized we’ve been in a crazy cycle for years and we are both desperately wanting out of it.

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Glimpses of hope being restored for our family because Andy and I are getting back on the right track and the kids are sensing that hope as well. We are all happier and trying harder. Andy and I aren’t yelling at them in frustration as much. I’ve committed to not yelling at all. I don’t want my children to remember me as a mom who was quick to yell, I want them to remember me as a mom quick to give grace. The same is true with Andy, I want him to always think of me as quick to give him grace.

Are things perfect? Certainly not, and they will never be.

But there are glimpses of hope and new mercies everywhere we look.

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the Christmas He knew I needed

I remember going through the motions of a “weird” Christmas last year and thinking “this is not how I wanted it to go”. I was depressed and almost bitter watching everyone post all kinds of pictures of their kids in matching PJs, etc. I was so weary and had a bad attitude. Then I realized that I might not have intended Christmas to go that way, but God certainly did.

This year has been much different.

We found ourselves having Christmas this weekend with Andy’s family and my family. That left for an entire week AND Christmas with zero plans. At first it kinda bummed me out because I’ve never EVER experienced this. Then I realized the pressure was completely off and I could plan Christmas the way I wanted to.

Today we baked cookies, made Gingerbread Houses, watched movies, opened one gift, read the Christmas story and put the kids to bed in matching PJs. It is exactly as I have always dreamed and wanted to be.

Then it hit me- I didn’t plan this.

God knew exactly what we needed. He knew that with everything we are about to face with Ryder and the news of her having abnormalities on her spine show up on her X-ray last week that we NEEDED a break.

The peace and quiet and OH SO MUCH FUN as a family has distracted us from all the weight of just life.

The truth is- I am oh-so-weary. I am so exhausted with fighting and preparing and being an advocate for my miracle child. Not to say that I wouldn’t do it every single day for the rest of my life, don’t get me wrong here- but I am so tired.

When the doctor called last week to tell me the findings I fell on the floor and sobbed for an hour. We have no idea what is going on with Ryder’s spine- it could be something so small. But the news broke me down. I cried and cried and pleaded with God to JUST STOP IT ALREADY.

But God is always working on me, and I now have a peace and understanding that He knows what he is doing and has planned our lives according to His purpose. Nothing He does is an accident.

He has BLESSED me with a child who needs me to be her advocate. He entrusted me with such a special child- no special children– who need me to fight for them at all times.

So as we are celebrating this Christmas and only have plans to stay in our PJs and play with all our new toys, I will remember how weary Mary must have been with the weight of Jesus’ life in her heart and on her mind. I only know a tiny fraction of that weariness. I can’t even fathom what she went through her entire life.

This peaceful Christmas is exactly what God intended for us this year and I couldn’t be more thankful that He always knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Christmas Letter 2013

 

Last year was a crazy Christmas- full of travel and fun and stress and hard times. It didn’t feel like Christmas last year for even a day. Everything about it just seemed off somehow. It just wasn’t the Christmas I intended.

This year we have had a much better time preparing and getting the girls excited and reading the Christmas story and talking about what that means. The girls are soaking up the story of Jesus’ birth and often act out the nativity scene. Ryder is so hilarious because she is ALWAYS the inn-keeper and she points her little finger and gives a mighty, “THERE NO ROOM FOR YOU IN DIS INN!” She takes her role seriously.

There has been a lot of joy in our house and it has been welcomed this year. Not to say that times aren’t sometimes tough around here, because they are, but we are actually quite enjoying this Christmas season.

I just now got my Christmas cards in, and of course couldn’t get everyone one which always makes me so sad. I had a hard time picking out our card this year because I knew that this year more than any other I wanted to make sure we weren’t depicting a falsehood about us.

So out were the cards that had a big ol’ PEACE written on it because this house hasn’t always been peaceful in 2013. (I could go on and on about this.) But I landed on one that said, “So Much Joy” and thought, yep- that is the one.

Not that we are always joyful, but if I could describe both girls I would definitely include the world joyful.

Sweet Rory is getting more mature and growing out of the baby stage more and more each day and she is such a delight. Still strong willed, but astonishingly wonderful after so many HARD years. She is so smart and eager to learn. She spells several simple words (Rory, Ryder, Mom, Dad, Cat, Dog, Baby) and I can’t even get over how her mind absorbs such things like this. I am treasuring this season with her and so thankful we survived ages 2 and 3.

And then there is Ryder. Sweet, precious Ryder…. who has turned into your typical 2 year old that pitches fits and all that jazz. While still precious, she is giving me a run for my money and completely exhausting me. She’s still my little miracle girl and just when we think health issues are getting answered and calming down, a whole new slew of concerns raise their ugly heads. Such is life with Ryder, but we are forever thankful for this blessed child. We stand strong because the Bible states in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So no matter what is coming our way with Ryder (or Rory or Andy or I) we know that God has dictated these circumstances with our best interest in mind far before we even existed.

It’s no secret (because I don’t want it to be- I want to be honest and real with all of you) that Andy and I have had a hard year. Nothing unbearable or earth shattering, but more of health issues/no sleep/having two mortgages/moving/etc have tapped away at both of us until we just were both weary at the same time. But God promises rest to the weary if we come to Him (Matthew 11:28) and we are finally entering a time of peace and rest. I am so thankful for every day with Andy. Even the hard days because I know those are the days that we survive and realize our marriage is always worth fighting for.

God’s grace has overwhelmed me this year, for I have not been my best. I have been, at times, negative and petty and selfish. But His grace has washed over me time and time again reviving me and reminding me that I am worth fighting for too.

So this year we have definitely had hard times, but oh how we have had joyful times. We are blessed far more than we deserve and I am so thankful for my biggest blessings- Andy, Rory and Ryder.

Thank you for reading the blog, I love you all so much!

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas this year!

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fight.

Sometimes life just gets discouraging.

The mundane of the every day seems to wear on me and there are times when I wonder why I’m trying so hard to get the people I’m in charge of to do the same things over and over. How many times have I heard the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)?! Well, people, that is my life. The definition of insanity.

There are so many days where I feel like I spend my whole day fighting. Fighting for and against things around me.

I’m constantly fighting FOR my children. I’m fighting for their hearts- wanting them to have a heart that knows between the right and wrong things, a heart that is respectful and kind, a heart that longs for Jesus. I’m fighting for them to eat well. AND OH HOW I FIGHT for them to sleep well.

I’m constantly fighting AGAINST my children too. I’m arguing over how clothes don’t “twirl like a princess” just right. I’m fighting them on actually eating their dinners. I’m fighting them to be nice to each other. I’M FIGHTING THEM TO STAY IN THEIR BEDS and SLEEP ALL NIGHT.

The less sleep we get, the more Andy and I fight as well. We fight TOGETHER for our children to behave well and be respectful.

We also do a lot of fighting WITH each other. We fight over big things and the dumbest, littlest nick picky things you’ve ever heard of. I’m not always a good forgiver and he’s not a good listener. I can’t understand HOW ON EARTH he doesn’t hear the children at night. He swears he doesn’t. He can’t understand why the house isn’t perfectly clean or why I “have” to buy things. We have different ideas on discipline. Our “love tanks” sit on empty and if we aren’t careful we go days living as roommates.

Thats when I look around me and wonder how my life ended up this way. How did I end up with the family and marriage I swore I’d never have? I never understood before how people let their kids between their marriages. I never understood how parents didn’t have 100% control of their children.

Goodness. I was SO JUDGMENTAL before I had kids. I just really had no idea about how hard it would be and how delightful it would be to have children. Its the most bipolar thing I’ve ever experienced.

Today I got a call about Rory’s day at school and I just had a total breakdown.

You see, I love Rory with such a fierceness I can’t hardly breathe. She is the most amazing child. She’s incredibly smart, so sweet and kind, and has the most amazing sense of humor. IMG_8338

But y’all. She’s the one. The child that is HARD. She can’t get her brain to shut off ever. She doesn’t sleep, barely eats, she’s just always thinking and imagining and sometimes she just can’t handle life. She is emotional and sensitive. Its just hard and not everyone knows how to deal with all these things.

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BUT I’M HER MOMMA and even though I prove the definition of insanity quote by ol’ Einstein, I guarantee you that I WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING FOR HER. Never. I will fight for her heart and her behavior and I will be as insane as I can be. I will fight to make sure she is secure in herself because she is PERFECTLY MADE by God. He knew what he was doing when He made her. He knew what He was doing when He gave her to me. She is my most precious gift and I will never stop fighting for her or for Ryder.

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I will also continue to fight for my marriage. Obviously it will not always be the best days with zero fights because that isn’t real life. But I WILL ALWAYS FIGHT for Andy. I will always fight if that means we stay together. I don’t want to ever lose my fight for him. Andy’s the best thing that ever happened to me. My girls are my most precious gifts, but Andy is my number one. One day my kids will leave and Andy will still be here and I have to fight for us to get to that time together.

Even if it means times where I get so discouraged I don’t want to go on, I have to continue to fight.

I don’t know what I would do on my darkest, most discouraging days without the grace of God. I really don’t. His grace picks me up and washes over me again and again. I’m so thankful to have Him rooting for me, my children, and my marriage.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

I will fight for my children.

I will fight for my marriage.

What are you fighting for?

 

 

a list because I’m too tired to be witty.

Y’all. I’m so overwhelmingly behind on posting I don’t even know where to start.

So I shall make a list. Because why not?

1. Last weekend I got to attend the Lifeway event dotMom in Chattanooga. It was one of those weekends where I just felt so many burdens I carry as a mom taken from me and left at the feet of Jesus. I just can’t say enough. Usually when moms get together, especially in large masses, it seems like the entire time we are trying to compare our kids with each other and compete to see who has the best sleeper/eater/napper/behavior/cartwheel. I mean it is just down right ridiculous the things we care about. My favorite statement was this – “Our goal is not to get our kids to behave well but to love Jesus without abandon.” IS THAT NOT THE TRUTH?! I mean… I just can’t tell you how much that spoke right to my heart. Everyone who knows us at all knows we aren’t “precious” people. We aren’t quiet or subdued. We are loud and FUN and crazy. My kids will never be the people who just sit and stare at a wall. They are going to be the ones who have to be corrected over and over. They are the ones who make fart noises and say things like, “I HAVE TO POOP RIGHT NOW MOM!”, during church. I just feel like I’ve gotten to the point, after having a hard time accepting the non-preciousness of my children, that I am now embracing it. They might not sit still ever but they are hilarious and wonderful in their own stinkerish ways. I’m totally okay with that.

Anyways. I also wanted to add that I worked for Lifeway as a “volunteer extraordinaire” and loved every second of it. I loved getting to talk with all the moms from all over and tell them how fantastic the book was that they were purchasing (even sometimes when I hadn’t read them…). My friend Amber and I ran a register and it was pretty epic how many times we got an error on the computer. Johnny was our leader and he was hilarious too. He made up this story about how I was a stalker and it was pretty fantastic. On Friday night I got to meet and talk to Jen Hatmaker, Melanie Shankle, and Sophie Hudson and y’all it tickled me to death. They were all SO SO SO nice and wonderful to their fans.

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2. I had a “Debbie” moment while in Chattanooga. (Debbie is my momma and I definitely get my laughter and embarrassing moments from her.)

I had taken a z-quil to ensure a good night’s rest on my first night in the hotel. I’m a bit skiddish about staying alone in a hotel room, you see. Well, I woke up needing to use the restroom about 3 am. As I’m walking back to my bed, I heard this loud “Shhhhhhhhhlump” and a little knock on the door and then something touched my foot. Well. Naturally, I SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER.  Then I looked down and realized it was just the checkout papers that they slide under the door in the middle of the night. The funny part is that the lady who slipped it under the door screamed out as well and fell on the ground. I looked out the peephole and saw her laying on the ground, holding her chest. Apparently I scared the mess out of her with my scream. I kinda felt bad so I yelled, “I’m so sorry!” and she yelled back, “It’s okay! I hope I don’t get fired!” HA HA. Then I went to bed and laughed for a good hour.

3. Ryder had a big cardiologist appointment yesterday! Her pulmonary valve is closing over time and eventually (doctor thinks in about two years) she will need a balloon cath done. I’m just so thankful it wasn’t right now. I know I say this all the time, but God is so good and He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He cares for my girls more than I will ever be able to. That gives me so much peace and hope.

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4. Rory has been on non-stop ear infection mode since May pretty much. So this next week she will have her adenoids removed and her tubes redone. Hopefully it’ll be an easy recovery like the last time. And hopefully she will sleep better.

Because they told me she would and PLEASE SWEET LORD HAVE MERCY ON ME and let it be true! Girlfriend is wearing me OUT.

5. Friday morning I got a text from Andy. It was amazing. I’m still laughing.

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Let’s discuss. One: Andrew clearly has amazing texting skillz. Two: I’m loving how he just gives up after a quick brush. Three: LOOK AT HER FACE. Misery. Four: That is the only dress Andy puts on the child. Which is hilarious.

By the time I got home on Sunday the girls, especially Rory because she actually has hair, looked a HOT MESS. Andrew, poor thing, doesn’t quite understand that the children have to have baths while momma is gone. I did some major scrubbing Sunday night. Bless it.

Here we are Sunday night… doesn’t she look…. dirty? haha!

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Side note: Friday was picture day. Fantastic!

But in all seriousness, I’m just so thankful Andy took care of them this weekend so I could go on a little (much needed!) retreat. They might have been dirty but who cares?! They are alive and had a blast with their daddy!

And thank goodness, they are now clean and have pretty hair again!

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my heart

I just thought I’d write a little post today about me. About my heart and my desire.

I started this little blog to keep in touch with family while we lived away. Then I had babies and it was so good to be able to keep everyone updated. And then Rory became quite the stinker and it became this way to show her stinkerish ways and to make my family and friends laugh.

And then somewhere along the way it turned into something else. It turned into my passion. It turned into more than just a hobby- I’m not even sure what it is above a hobby, but it is more to me than that. It has been a saving grace to me and pulled me out of some extremely dark days as a mom.

The blog has become a place where I tell my opinions, my stories, my experiences in a humorous and (hopefully) uplifting way. I desire to make people feel like they aren’t alone in the world. I desire (oh how I desire) for moms to read this and feel better about themselves as a mom.

My heart is with moms. Whether that be a woman who so desperately wants children so she is a mom in her heart, a working mom, a stay at home mom, a mom to healthy children or sick children, a mom to children who aren’t stinkers and a mom to children who ARE stinkers, a mom who delights in every moment of the day or a mom who is just so tired and mentally/emotionally exhausted.

I’ve been all those moms. I know what it feels like to stay at home and desperately want to go to work to get a break. Now I know what it is like to drop your kids off as they cry for you but you have to keep walking with tears in your eyes so you won’t be late for work. I’m a mother to SUCH stinkers and a mother to smart, sweet children. I’ve been a mother to sick and healthy babies. I’ve delighted in every moment of the day and I have been completely selfish and ugly as a mother other days.

One thing I have learned in every role I have taken on as a mom is that IT IS HARD NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF MOTHER YOU ARE.

It is just so terribly hard to be a mom. Everywhere you turn people are making you feel like you aren’t good enough. Everywhere you turn you read articles saying you are poisoning your child with the wrong diet, you aren’t preparing them for school enough, they aren’t “ahead of the game”. And because of all this pressure we are under we turn on each other. We create cat fights and make each other feel even worse. I’ve been guilty of it too.

We have to stop the mom war. We have to stop! Every single one of us is trying so desperately hard to be a good mom. We need to be encouraging each other and lifting each other up. That will end the mom war. Every single one of us drives a different path as a mom. We all can find camaraderie with each other but no two children and no two moms are the same and that is exactly how it is supposed to be.

We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made. Each child and especially each mom.

I desire to be an open book, and I think I have shown that over the past several years. I want to always, always be transparent and honest. I want people to be able to find a place here with me that shows no judgement and no hostility. I love to make you laugh and love to hear that I brightened your day with our stories. Oh how that makes my heart swell. It isn’t prideful, it is pure joy. Anytime I can make someone laugh and brighten their day pleases me to no end. I need people like that too and certainly have those people.

I was starting this past week to let some things and people steal my joy and crush my spirit. But I want you to know that I can’t let that happen because I can’t let anything or anyone not let me be who I am.

I hope that you continue to find an honest and transparent place here. I hope you always feel good enough right here in my corner of the world and that I never, ever make you feel guilty.

Some days are oh-so-hard and oh-so-long. Some days are too fast. You are doing a good job. Keep it up and I will too.