Just breathe

yoga

As some of you know when Doug and I went in for our ultrasound to find out the genders of our fraternal twins we were told Baby A was a girl and Baby B was a boy.  In fact when the ultrasound tech zoomed in on Baby A her words were, “Yep, that is 100 percent a girl.  Well long story short, we have two boys which we did find out before their birth day (fortunately.)

For about five weeks I thought I was carrying a girl and boy.  In all honesty I thought a lot more about my girl in those weeks.  Partly because I really thought I was carrying two boys so it was a surprise, and partly because I really liked imagining what a wonderful girl/woman I could be a part of raising.  I thought about my flaws and mistakes and how I could help steer her away from those so she could be a better person than me.  Her name was going to be Savannah Grace and in my hopes and prayers she was going to be a sassy Proverbs woman.  And I couldn’t wait to meet her and introduce her to the world she would change.

When it was confirmed that I was not having a girl but in fact having two boys, it was a weird feeling.  I don’t feel right about saying the word disappointed because I wanted healthy babies, and especially all that we had gone through to get pregnant I was hitting the jackpot with twins.  But it was weird to all the sudden accept there was no girl, no Savannah Grace, no sassy Proverbs woman I would be giving birth to.  Although the ultrasound tech was 100 percent wrong, I believe there was a 100 percent reason why she said that to me.

The more I thought about the hopes and dreams I had for my daughter Savannah Grace the more I realized those hopes and dreams were still there for a woman and that woman was me.  My heart is beating, my lungs are breathing, and God is still actively working in me. This blog has been one way I have given this woman God created me to be life.  I don’t believe I am becoming but uncovering the sassy Proverbs I am.  What do I mean by a sassy Proverbs woman?

I mean a woman who is described in Proverbs so I will share what I believe is the pulse of that chapter.  Proverbs 31:25  “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” She is confident in the present and for the future not because of what she has done or can do, but because of what her Creator has done and will do.  Where does the sassy part come in?  Many believe a Proverbs woman to be submissive, timid, and weak.  I believe all Proverbs woman to be sassy meaning they sometimes do what is countercultural and rebellious to this world.  Woman who live out God’s word when life is good, bad, and messy.  That is what I wanted more than anything for my daughter, and that is what I want for myself and for every woman.

God’s words were not just life giving and true for my “daughter”, and they are not just life giving and true for me.  They are for you too.  Could it be that I have some sassy Proverbs women reading this post right now?  I hope so.  I hung out with a few this week and it was amazing.

This weekend I hosted a happy hour yoga party in my backyard.  A friend wanted to support the Savannah Grace Shop cause to help support adoptions of orphans with special needs.  I never gave yoga much of a chance, but I thought I would give it another one since I was touched that my friend would offer her time and talent for a cause I am passionate about.  Yoga was never my thing before because  I could not quite settle my mind to relax (should have been a sign that Yoga could benefit me).  Yesterday my friend and yoga instructor kept reminding us to breathe.  It may seem silly at first of why someone would have to remind someone to breathe since it is something we have to do to live.  But I noticed that almost every time Stacey reminded us to breathe I wasn’t breathing.  I was holding my breath while holding a pose.  Stacey also at one point encouraged us to let go of any negative thoughts.

Now I had a pretty frustrating situation the day before which left me feeling disrespected and taken advantage of.  As Stacey for about the fourth time reminded us to breathe and I am hearing and seeing God’s creation all around me, my inner voice almost cut her off and said “Be still and know that I am God.”  I was hearing that over and over.  The situation that happened was not in my control and the more I tried to take control the more frustrating it became.  I realized I had never taken the time to just breathe yesterday and be still and know that He is God.  I do have choices and abilities, but I will never be able to control others.

If the ultrasound tech had been right and I had a daughter who was all worked up from a situation that left her feeling disrespected, lied to or lied about, taken advantage of, or heartbroken I would have wanted to tell her what Stacey reminded me of yesterday.

Just breathe.

Let go of negative thoughts.

I would want to tell her “Babygirl breathe, inhale the love and grace of your Heavenly Father and exhale with the power of His words and promises.  Let go of all that negativity.  Do what is in your control and give the rest to God.  And then breathe again.”  It is what I did yesterday, and it was a game changer.  Maybe if I explained the situation people would think I should rant about the situation or tell this person off otherwise I am being weak and letting them look like they are right.  Well this is where that sass comes from.=)   People can think what they want.  I am good.  More than good actually.  I am at peace.

Today as I reflect on yesterday I am so thankful for the reminders to:

Just Breathe

Be still and know that He is God

And to never underestimate a Proverbs Woman, especially a sassy one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s do dinner

In the last 7 days, I have shared five dinners with many people I love in addition to my usual three dinner dates!  The people I love include family, new friends,  long time friends from college and a former co worker and boss who have become like family.  Since being home with my almost 14 month old twins on these very hot days, I feel like I have really made an effort to make dinner plans so I can feel connected to the outside world and people who can say words and go to the bathroom in the toilet =).   I don’t want friends to become strangers or face book friends that I just talk about getting together with just because this season of life often resembles a circus…A circus in which I am trying to find out if I am the ringmaster or the clown.    Many times this week and in life it’s not even that I have to make the effort so much as I just need to accept or extend the invitation.  I am beyond thankful for the friendships and families that have accepted me and my family in the way that they have and one way I have really felt that love this week is around the table.  No expectations, no agenda, no need to be anybody but ourselves.  Phones are put away and we are looking into each other’s eyes, hearing each other’s voices and genuine tones through out good conversation, feeling physical touch as we hug or pat each other’s legs as we laugh together (often at Doug’s expense =).

Instead of being fast and efficicient like many of us have been programmed to be all day, we change the pace.
We sit.
And we slow down.
We don’t reach over people for food.  We ask people to pass things and then we wait.  We come together at the table with different experiences, opinions, and perspectives, but with the same physical need to be to be fed and nourished.  And every meal I shared with my friends this week did just that and so much more.  It fed and nourished my soul.  The needs of our soul is often neglected in today’s society.  How many of us often go a day without eating?  I never do.  But there are days I live that I do not feed and nourish my soul.  I am working on it.
I think back on a time in my life when my days were filled with commuting, working, coming home throwing something quick for dinner, snarfing it down and working on lesson plans from home or vegging out in front of the tv until bedtime.  Dinner plans seemed too stressful because I was tired, didn’t feel like being in transit any longer than I had to, and just didn’t want to have to impress anybody by wearing anything other than my sweats.  I was fed.  I was nourished.  But my soul was rumbling from hunger and I often ignored it or drowned it out with work or television.  It was just easier to turn invites down and not extend them myself.  It’s not like I was doing bad things, but I wasn’t living life to it’s potential.    Every now and then I did have dinner with family and friends and I would think how amazing it was.  It was like having a bowl of perfectly warm chicken noodle soup when you are sick, but you didn’t realize you were under the weather until you ate it.  How many of us ignore the rumbling of our souls telling us it is hungry for more?
But my life has and is changing and so is the lense in which I see it.  I have two little boys and with that is a family, a home, a neighborhood, a community I want to be a part of so that my boys grow up feeling invested in the world and most importantly the people around them.
 
Luke 10:25 tells about a time when a man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life.
 ” And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:36 says

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love God with everything you have and your neighbor as yourself.  It’s as simple and as complicated as that.  The simple part is understanding I can’t love God with all my heart or love others as myself if my body and soul are not fed.  The complicated part is doing that everyday, but I am finding a great start is to share life around the table at meals.  It is an opportunity to say grace, show grace, and taste grace and grace is a powerful thing.  A game changer in the best way possible.
My dinners this week included take out, meals I prepared, homemade meals my friends cooked, and a catered meal cooked by a family’s private chef.  Last night’s meal I can’t say we ate together but we drank together.  My friend had surgery on her mouth and is on a liquid diet only so I made a pureed black bean soup for dinner which I highly recommend!  Although the food is at the center of the table, it was the people around it that filled me up this week.
I feel well fed this week in more ways than one.  So I encourage anyone who is reading to either accept or extend an invitation to dinner this week with friends and or family and I am willing to bet a homemade meal at my house that you will feed fed in more ways than one!
Let’s do dinner.

Cheers to six years, Cheers to Both the Happiness and the Tears

mustache

I wasn’t going to post this because I never want to seem braggy or assume people care to hear about Doug and my marriage.  I started this blog to be real about life and reflect, and well sometimes life happens to be about happy things.  And with all the yucky stuff in this world, happy things are worth being talked about and celebrated!  So grab your barf bag and enjoy the post!

 

Doug and I have never been the romantic type, romantic in the Hollywood sense that is.  I mean do you all remember how the proposal went?  I was looking for change to throw in a water fountain and Doug handed me the ring and said why don’t you throw this in there.   Hey now, give him a pass.  This was before Doug  had the privilege of being introduced to the Bachelor where a proposal is not a proposal without helicopters, clothes suited for royalty, and a diamond ring that I believe can and will blind someone someday.

I remember one of our first dates we went and got Frostys from Wendy’s on a summer night and he opened the hatch of the car for us to sit in and talk and turned on sports radio pretty loudly so that we could hear the Phillies game.  I remember laughing so hard that this was his vision of an awesome date.  Although I don’t remember one play from that game, I remember the conversation and the feeling of falling for him as we made fun of each other.  It was in fact an awesome date, but don’t tell Doug that…

August 8th of this year will be our sixth year of marriage.  I don’t really know how that is possible considering I am turning 21 on my next birthday =).  Although I haven’t put much thought into how we will celebrate, I have put much thought into what we are celebrating because isn’t that what it is all about.
Since it is our sixth year of marriage, I wanted to recognize six things I love about Doug and if you know me the best way I express this is by poking a little fun at him!  I decided to share three on the blog.
1.  I love how when I was pregnant Doug was so excited to wish me my first Happy Mother’s Day that as soon as I walked down the stairs he hugged me and said “Happy Birthday!” (It is the thought that counts, and he knew special that day was)
2.  I love that when I didn’t get a job I really wanted and was fighting back tears, he got more upset than me and his rant about it made me laugh. (Doug doesn’t swear, so his alternative words are quite entertaining.  I love that he believes in me)  So sir who didn’t hire me, please know my husband thinks you are a big stinkbomb!
3.  I love how when I say sorry, he forgives instantly and it’s truly like it never happened.  (Must have learned that from me, nottttttt)
As we celebrate this year, our struggle to stay awake past nine and to not look at our phones to scroll through pics of the boys when we are not with them will remind us of how life six years later is very different. But we will also be reminded of how it all began and how the things that drew us to each other are still there through the happiness and the tears.
So while we may not celebrate like many couples do on their anniversaries, WE WILL celebrate us.  And I am more than OK with that.
marriage

The Big is Found in the Little

I am an ideas person.  In my head ideas are almost always going on and I often play them out in my head.  Sometimes my husband, my bank account or my fear tells  my ideas to get out of town.  Sometimes it’s for the best, I have had some crazy ideas =).  But what I am learning is sometimes it’s not the idea that needs to change it’s the lense in which I look through.

As a teacher, I have an idea for an interactive lesson for my classroom and I get discouraged because not every student is super excited and I see one student anxiously looking at the clock.

I get discouraged because I think of an idea for a fundraiser to help support a great cause and not a lot of people participate or at least not the thousands I was envisioning.

Or if I am being really honest (and vulnerable), I start a blog and have this idea that I am going to hit post on my first ever blog post and it will go viral and many women all over the world would read and contribute their stories to the blog.  A hashtag #IamSavannahGrace will be trending within 24 hours and it will be a place where women will encourage either other through their stories. Well if you are reading, first of all I love you, thanks for reading, but we all know this blog didn’t go viral.  And I have yet to see that hashtag once!

So would I take back these ideas that I brought to life even though they didn’t play out exactly as they did in my head?

 

Well…

 

Ummm.

 

You see….

 

Absolutely not!

At first I told myself “Molly, you need to stop with your BIG ideas and your  BIG expectations to avoid the BIG disappointments.”  But the more I reflected the more I realized I just needed to look for the BIG in the little.  And isn’t that often how life works?  Isn’t that how God designed this thing called life?

Look at our days. They are not filled with one major event. Days are made up of

seconds,

minutes

hours

and those segments of time are made of moments, and lots of them.

And I am learning life is often BIG in the little and you can find the BIG, if you just open your heart.

     While a change in action has the ability to change the outcome, a change in perspective has the ability to change your outlook.  The lense in which we look through and the way we see this one life we have been given by our Creator is everything.  So today if you are feeling discouraged or disappointed maybe you need to make some changes, but maybe those changes are not needed in how you do things but how you look at things.

Have you looked for the big in the little?

Think about that one smile you gave to a person, that one conversation you had with a coworker, that one prayer you prayed, that one favor you did for a stranger, that one meal you made for a neighbor, that one apology you gave to your friend, that one sacrifice you made for your family,that one invite you extended, that one donation you made, that one time you chose to forgive someone, I believe these are the little things that fill our hours, days, weeks, months, and years…That one thing here and that one thing there make this ONE life.

 

     Maybe it doesn’t change life on the scale that you had hoped for or anticipated, but what you do makes a difference.  I needed that reminder.   As I walk in this truth and look for the big in the little it not only changes how I look at my past ideas and expectations, but it changes how I look at the future. It  encourages me to be more open and present right here and right now.  It challenges me to be intentional in all that I do.

 

What you do matters, even in the little things…In fact I am willing to bet that is often where the big stuff happens.

 

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

 

 

I thought a year ago today would be the best day of my life

brothers

One year ago today my mom and I packed some swim suits and planned to go to the hospital to get a non stress test and then go to my in laws to float in the pool. We half jokingly, half seriously made a goal to NOT see the high risk specialist that day. Between my stay at the hospital and Baby A (Luke) never passing the non stress tests, I saw the high risk specialist a lot. He was super nice, but his presence just made me nervous. It reminded me that there were in fact high risks involved in my pregnancy.

 

We get to the hospital and Lincoln passes the non stress test quickly. Luke fails it again…I get admitted to the hospital and Luke gets another chance to pass the non stress test. It takes awhile but he finally passes. I am eating for three at this point, but wasn’t allowed to eat all day so I am getting pretty hangry…and I start to let the doctor know about it.

 

She tells me I am about to go home and that she is going to get my discharge papers ready. I’m excited. She then tells me she is going to come back with a candy bar for me. I’m elated.

Then we hear his voice.

The high risk specialist…

The man I am avoiding, remember?

He makes a joke that he sees me more than his own family members and then says he just wants to take a quick peek. There is nothing more frightening than a silent ultrasound. I am sure it lasted about two minutes but it seemed like a half an hour of him looking at Luke and saying nothing. He then looked at me and said, “Molly, today is the day. You are going to have your babies today.” He said, “I am sick of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about you. Let’s have your babies today.” As my mom gives a huge sigh of relief I am dialing Doug’s work phone to tell him to get to the hospital! Almost two months early, we are going to meet our boys!

 

Here it was the moment I had been waiting for. Doug rushed to the hospital to get there on time to be there for what we thought was going to be the best day of our lives.  

 

Luke and Lincoln,

 

You have surpassed my dreams, my expectations, and my hopes. I just wrote your dad a father’s day card and I said God knows what he is doing. You two are perfect.

Luke, you came into this world and just like the quote above your crib you proved to us that sometimes the smallest things really do take up the most room in our hearts. Two pounds 11 ounces and you needed no breathing help. You fought in the belly and you didn’t stop outside the belly. Even though you were way two little and young to smile, you did the first time your cheek laid against my chest. The NICU nurses said you were a feisty one and I am so glad that you are, but you didn’t have to fight for a piece of my heart. I gladly gave it to you.   I remember first seeing you and for the first time feeling so much love it terrified me. I love your determination, your smile, your love for being snuggled, your arms reaching out to me, and your desire to make people laugh by blowing on them.

Lincoln,

The first week or so I could barely see your face with your wires that were hooked up to the machines that were helping you. Your dad and I called it your scuba suit. There were days the NICU nurses told me I couldn’t hold you because they didn’t want to stress you out that day and it was hard, really hard. I just wanted to hold you and know you. I remember sticking my hand in one day holding back tears from not being able to hold you another day and you wrapped your hand around my finger and squeezed. And just like the Tigger quote above your crib once in awhile someone amazing comes along and here you are. Lincoln, your giggle, your smile, your one dimple, your hand wave to everyone you see, your contagious zest for life makes my day everyday.

I thought today, last year, was going to be the best day of my life but I was wrong.

Today is the best day,

and then tomorrow will be the best day and

then the day after that.

Every day with you boys is the best day!

Thank you for setting my heart on fire. I am so lucky to be your mom. I have already been a far from perfect mom, but I hope you know everyday I love you and I am giving you my best.   Happy Birthday Luke and Lincoln. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for your futures.

 

Hope in the heartbreak

Another shooting.

50 people dead.

Does it even surprise you anymore?

My husband dropped me off at home after church, and took the boys to their doctor’s appointment. I was excited to have a little me time. It is beautiful today and I have some free time without my babies. I walked into the garage to step in the house but my pink bike caught my attention from the back corner of the garage. So I dusted off the seat and rode my bike around the neighborhood in the beautiful sunshine and couldn’t help but smile as my hair blew in the wind.

And then my sister texted me asking if I had heard about the mass shooting in Orlando. It’s as if I put sunglasses on and the world didn’t seem so bright anymore. I had heard about it, but unfortunately these things are not all that surprising anymore and I saw it on the news and three hours later I was riding my bike feeling carefree.

But after her texts, I got to thinking about it again. And those feelings of heartbreak, disgust, and honestly just angry confusion well up in me again like the first time I had heard about it.

I JUST got back from church where we talked about

how we need to trust God,

seek God wholeheartedly,

and use our gifts to serve God.

What does that look like in a world where someone decides to murder 50 people for who knows what reason?  How do I respond?  I’m not proud of this but I know how I respond most of the time. Just like today I feel heartbreak, disgust and angry confusion and then I move on and I feel guilty, helpless, and in moments of weakness I feel hopeless.

 

Henri Nouwen, an author, wrote this

“The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralyzed be feelings of impotence and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims.”

 

In the presence of tragedy I often want to shut down or ignore the ugly reality that there are people who want to harm others and they do everyday. That is and has always been a part of life.  Or I tend to feel overwhelmed with the pain and the power it has to paralyze my soul.

So today, I think in the face of heartbreak I will choose to be who I was created to be.

I will look for opportunities to give thanks to God, my creator for giving me life and not shut down and give power to those who wish to take it away.

I will use my talents to reflect the love of Jesus to all those around me and not the ugliness of this world.

Today I will choose to feel hope instead of fear amidst a senseless act.

Today I will allow my heart to be broken by the senseless deaths of so many, but I will also allow my heart to feel peace that the brokenness of this world is not the end of the story.

I encourage you to let this brokenness you feel remind you of the very reason Jesus came to this Earth, died for all of us (victims and perpetrators), and left us with something.

What did he leave us? No it wasn’t a perfect world with perfect people.

He left us with peace.

Jesus says in verse John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

And verse John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Will you join me in reminding people of that truth in your words, your art, your job, your choices, your actions and your love?  

I need to be reminded.

 

Marco Polo (transferred from my old blog)

How many of you have taken the love language test to find out how it is you feel most loved?  This is not one of those magazine quizzes like how do you know he is into you or what state should you live in.  This is actually pretty helpful or at least it has been for me.  It’s not only beneficial to know how you feel loved, but how your friends and family do as well.  Sometimes and I would venture to say more times than not it’s not the absence of love that is the issue in a relationship it is the expression of it.

Here is a link to learn about five love languages and a quiz if you would like to take it.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/  I hope my cat doesn’t mind me sharing, but his love language is physical touch.  He could care less about my words of affirmation that he is the best kitty around, but one rub of his belly and he is on cloud 9!

fikiballoon

My love language has changed over the years.  It went from quality time to words of affirmation.  I have really learned this through out different jobs I have had.  One school I was teaching at was a school in the city of Philadelphia that had no curriculum and I was the only Spanish teacher.  I had by far the smallest classroom.  I was teaching 4 year olds to sixth graders Spanish.  It was challenging to say the least.  I would stay up trying to create fun and interactive Spanish lessons.  My students loved music and dancing and even though it was a little out of my comfort zone Señora Hackman was known a time or two to become Señora Rapman.  Or sometimes my emergency phone would ring and the students and I would find ourselves in the middle of an important mystery in which we were the detectives!  I rarely heard any feedback from peers or administration about these activities.  I say this not to say the school didn’t appreciate me but to say working there I started to realize how much words of affirmation meant to  me.  It wasn’t a raise I longed for but words of affirmation.  Words make me feel seen, recognized, appreciated, valued, and loved.  It motivates me to keep going and to give my best.

 

I then taught English to adults from other countries at a college.  The pay was less than my previous job, but I could still pay the bills and I was paying the bills with a happy heart.  Other teachers, administration, and students often gave me feedback and words of affirmation.  My students wrote me notes that brought me to tears.  Their words made me feel like I was where I should be, doing what I was meant to be doing.  Although I loved that job, I was finally offered the job I had been hoping for for years.

 

Allow me to introduce you to my new bosses.

bosses.png

 

Let me just say, I love being a mommy for so many reasons.  But having said that, that is not what this post is about..But don’t think for one minute I don’t love it and have my moments where I am on top of the world!

 

Being a mommy of twin boys at times overwhelms me and there is not many words of affirmation..because well there aren’t too many words going on except from my mouth =) This week I have felt like I am treading water, and my bottom lip is a hairline away from making contact with the water.  My new bosses are demanding and expect a lot out of me.  Often when I am tired and hoping to punch out for the day is when they need and want the most.  I am on call 24/7 and often am needed in the middle of the night.  I am exhausted…and some days I feel like the giving tree at the end of the story that only has the stump left to give as a seat to sit on and maybe even pass gas on (literally.)  I am giving, giving, giving and they are taking, taking, taking.  I want to give more because they deserve it, but if I am being honest sometimesI feel depleted.

So may I ask, do I have anyone else in the deep end with me treading water this week? Am I the only one? Are you feeling emotionally drained?  Physically exhausted?  Sick and tired of not living up to the world’s expectations?  What would serve as your life vest? Would your love language be able to help you swim?  For me when people give me words of affirmation, I tread a little harder and am able to hold my head up a little higher above the water…but often I find myself getting tired again.  That is where I found myself this week.

I don’t know what it is that you are giving yourself too, and I am not suggesting you stop giving of yourself.  I have no intentions to give less to my kids and family.  In fact, I want to give more but I want to make sure I have something to give.  You can’t save someone else from drowning if you too are struggling. I am also not saying your love language serves no purpose, but maybe it goes a little deeper than that.  Maybe it’s not just about you and how people love you.

So for those feeling like you are treading water for whatever reason, or maybe like the giving tree with very little left to give… I give you words of affirmation and whether it is your love language or not, I promise it can change your life.  These words are not from me, and these words are not just about you.

These words are about your Creator, you know the guy that created the skies and the oceans and decided to make you too!

Psalm 139: 14 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

 

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(My personal favorite)

Ephesians 3: 17-19  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

You are loved more than you could ever imagine. You were not an accident, but a creation.  You were created by a God that has  a plan for you and wants to do life with you.  We were not created to do this journey alone.  Let these words remind us of the hand that is always extended out to us.  And if you feel like you don’t even have the strength to reach your hand out remember this

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6

Sometimes it is not about who I am, but about who God is.  Sometimes I don’t need to be reminded of what I can do, but what God has done and can do.  Sometimes it takes moment of weakness to feel the strength of God.  This world will try to sell us on the idea that we can do it all if we buy this product or that product.  But we were not created to do it alone.  (Sleep deprivation is a humbling experience in which you learn you are human and you in fact have limits.) We are not expected to live life solely on our strength and love.  We are a vessel of God’s unconditional, perfect love and every breath we are given is a chance to inhale and exhale His love.  Every day is a chance to receive God’s grace and to extend that to others as well as to ourselves.  God is in the business of redeeming and making things new.  So today with the promises and words of affirmation of who the God that created me and loves me is, I am going to stop treading water and I am going to swim.

 

Anyone care to join?  I might even be up for a game of Marco Polo.

Present–the adjective not the noun

pete'sfamily

I never really had a friend’s group.  I always had friends, but was not in a group.  I never felt like I quite fit into a group and to be perfectly honest I was always OK with that.  I was often turned off by groups in high school because I would see girls not invite other girls simply because they were not in their group.  Or I would see a girl talk really badly about some girls in her group because they had to be friends since they were in the same group despite the fact that they didn’t really like each other.   I like to be friends with who I want to be friends with  and I wasn’t about investing my time with someone I do not want to be friends with.  But of course, there are benefits to being in a friend group and in some ways I missed out not being in one.

 

Dating and marrying Doug who went to college with many of his friends from his high school group was really intriguing to me and obviously quite opposite from me.  Not only had I never really been part of a friend group, I went to college knowing NOBODY who went there.  I was also pretty far from home.   I made a lot of really good, lifelong friends in college but we only go as far back as when we met in college.  Doug and his friends have history, have roots, have memories upon memories.  It’s awesome, even though there were times I gave Doug a hard time about his friends and how close they were.

 

Like Doug and his friend’s awesome New Year’s Eve tradition where they only spent it with the guys.  Doug and I were engaged and the guys finally decided to invite significant others in on their celebration.  I jokingly said I brought my permission slip from mom and dad for the coed hangout.

 

Or the fact that they had a two bedroom apartment but they all slept on mattresses in one room!

 

And the time that one friend was moving away after college and they had three going away parties and Doug acted as if he was never going to see his friend again.  Oh and the time that friend who moved away (and had three going away parties)…moved back MONTHS  later =)

 

For those of you who know me…I like to give Doug a hard time about just about everything…So I will stop with those three =)  Luckily this isn’t a sports blog, so I know he is not reading.

But I digress…

Here’s the point of my post.  (Yes I do have a point)

 

Last night I got a front row seat into watching Doug and his friends come together and be fully present in a moment and it deeply touched my heart.  Doug’s friend Pete’s parents in the last year have both been diagnosed with serious conditions.  Pete’s dad has a neurological disorder which in some ways is like dementia.

 

He is mentally there but the communication from his brain to other parts of his body have been compromised so things like talking and eating are difficult.  His mom has been taking care of her husband in ways she hadn’t had to before his diagnosis and was adjusting to that when she was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.  She had a surgery a couple of weeks ago and is about to start chemo.  Doug thought it would be nice to bring our baby boys to meet and visit with Dawn as she was recovering from surgery at her parent’s house.  Doug’s friend James and Miles also came.

 

We talked for a little and caught up but then Dawn (Pete’s mom) suggested we sing some songs together.  Hymns.  It is not everyday I sing hymns and when I do I am in church.  But singing hymns at Pete’s grandparents house is not the only thing that caught me off guard (in a good way.)  It was being in a family room where everyone was fully present.  We sang to our creator with our voices.  Nobody brought flowers.  Nobody brought cookies. Nobody brought presents, but they brought presence. Everyone in that room was there and I don’t mean just in the physical sense.

That night I got a taste of something that left me wanting more.  The world needs more of people’s presence.  We need the friends that show up despite the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  The friends that put their phones down and really listen.  The friends that know when poop hits the fan, you are going to need support not just in that moment but months down the road.    We not only need people and friends like that in our lives, but we need to be those type of people and friends as well.

I want to be a friend that shows up.  I want to be a friend that is fully present.

 

As I reflected on the night I thought about the bible verse Luke 10:38-42:

 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[b] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” 

 

Martha was distracted making preparations (unfortunately sounds a lot like me in my “busy” life,) but Mary sat and listened to her guest.  What is it that Mary chose that was better?

I have a feeling it had to do with present, the adjective not the noun.  Martha had her guest in her house and was busy preparing for the visit, while Mary was doing just that…visiting with her guest.  Being with her guest.  Listening to her guest.  Who are you?  A Mary or a Martha?  This world would be a better place with more of people’s presence..

 

How different would your life be?

Be present.

Joy To The World (transferred from my old blog)

Well as the song goes it is the most wonderful time of the year!  I am a HUGE Christmas fan.  There are two types of people in this world to me, those that listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving and those that listen to Christmas music after Thanksgiving.  I am in the first group (as you all should be too!!!)  I love everything about it, the lights, the music, the classic movies, the cookies, and of course the presents!!!  But I also love what Christmas is all about.  I believe God came to Earth in the form of his Son to tell us the Good news.  But even being a person that goes crazy over Christmas I know what it is like to feel sad around the holiday and think is this really the most wonderful time of the year?  As we approach this Christmas I know friends who are experiencing some real challenges and heartbreak and I know friends that are celebrating some exciting things going on in their lives.  Looking back on the past couple of years, I know what’s it like to celebrate Christmas with celebration and with suffering.

This Christmas?  Well as another Christmas classic song goes this Christmas will be a very special Christmas to me.  This Christmas, my sister and I will be sitting around the Christmas tree with three baby boys which we see as miracles.  (I had twins in June and she had a baby boy in October)  People have asked me what I want for Christmas and I really struggled to come up with anything because I honestly feel like I have everything I want and need right here in my arms.  But the purpose of this post is not to brag about what I have, because it is not just what I have that makes this Christmas special it is what I have learned the past couple of years.  The past couple of years has been a roller coaster and like any epic roller coaster it has had many ups and downs.

 

The Christmas of 2013 was tough for me.  It was shortly after my 30th birthday in which my husband and friends threw a wonderful surprise party for me.  I felt horrible because that night I was just not myself.  I had done another fertility treatment that morning and I was in physical pain and also my heart was just telling me it didn’t work…again.  I felt like becoming pregnant on my 30th birthday couldn’t be more perfect.  My husband and I had been trying for years and the longing to be a mother only increased every year and every failed fertility treatment.  It didn’t happen and Christmas was hard that year as I saw many others celebrate Christmas with new babies or pregnant bellies.  Through out my years of infertility I tried to not think that motherhood would not happen for me, but that Christmas those fears and feelings crept in and they were hard to shake even around the most wonderful time of the year.

 

Christmas of 2014 was bittersweet and I will need to give a little background information.  I will start with a day in October of 2014.   My sister called me earlier than usual one morning and I could tell something was different in her voice. About five seconds into the conversation she blurted out “Molly I’m pregnant.”  My sister and I can’t keep secrets from each other and this was no exception.  My sister and I are closer than any siblings I know and when she feels happy I feel happy and vice versa, but in this instance I heard the words and her excitement and my heart sunk.  I hate admitting this myself or to anyone but my gut reaction was sadness.  Of course I was happy for her but my sadness took over that moment and I felt guilty.  Another person pregnant and it wasn’t me.  I didn’t have to say a thing, my sister knew how I felt but of course she had her emotions too.  I think we both got off the phone with a bittersweet taste in our mouths.  Two months later after another fertility treatment, I got to call her and say “You are not the only one pregnant!”  It was the best day because my sister and I both could experience happiness sans any guilt.  Oh was that a happy day!

 

 

Babies two months apart what could be better!?  We could talk about pregnancy together, birth stories, and our kids would be the same age.  We have never run out of things to talk about before, but this sealed the deal that it would NEVER happen in the future.  But then I got a text at work from my sister that said call me.  I called her and there was silence on the line. I said Megan?  And instantly I started to cry.  I knew something was wrong.  Her husband said “You are on speaker phone.  There was no heartbeat.” My immediate reaction was “What do you mean?”  Everything just seemed so perfect.  How could there be no heartbeat?  Life was all planned out and it was perfect.

The roller coaster continued and this was a turn neither my sister nor I saw coming.  The day she went to the hospital to have the procedure to take care of the miscarriage was the day I found out I wasn’t just pregnant, I was expecting twins.  So there we were again getting off the phone with that bittersweet taste in our mouth.  Christmas of 2014 I knew I was carrying twins and my sister’s wound of a miscarriage was still pretty fresh.  It was hard to be happy knowing the pain my sister was experiencing and the last thing I wanted to do was be a painful reminder.

Two months later my sister was pregnant again. So here we are at Christmas 2015.  My sister has a beautiful, healthy baby boy named Quinn and I have two miracle baby boys named Lincoln and Luke.  My sister and I feel so blessed to be mommas this year.

 

 

So I don’t know what this Christmas looks like for you this year.  Maybe your heart is longing for something or someone.  Maybe you feel like you have it all right now.  NO matter how you are feeling, I want to tell you that God is good.  God is good no matter our circumstances.  When I told people I was pregnant some responded with, “See God is good.”  But the thing is God is good even if I didn’t get pregnant.  No matter what season of life you are in God is good and the joy of the Lord is available to you but you have to choose it.  God is at work in your life and sometimes that can be frustrating because you don’t know the end game.  You have to choose to trust.  Sometimes you feel like others have what you want and are confused why you don’t have it, you must choose to give thanks for what you have.  Joy is not this naïve giggly, happy state of thinking life is all rainbows and butterflies.  I have learned that joy is much deeper than that, it can be chosen in the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.  It isn’t just the feeling as result of things going your way, it is a choice in trusting that God is at work in your life.I saw this quote a couple weeks ago by Adam Hamilton, ” Joy is a choice we make when we look at our present circumstances through the eyes of faith, trusting that God is at work.”

 

What I have learned from experiencing a Christmas with a broken heart and now a Christmas with my heart so full I feel like I could burst, is that the response of my heart is not much different despite my different situations.  I give thanks, choose joy, and trust God’s plan.  Those are not always natural responses but decisions I make.   Experiencing both the bitter and the sweet, also can help you be a better friend.  When you are experiencing the sweet take the opportunity not to just be happy for yourself but to recognize those that are tasting the bitter and might benefit from some encouragement and acts of love and support.  We know life works in seasons, and I know I will have Christmases where the choice of gratitude, joy and trust will be much harder to make than other times.

 

 

My hope and challenge to you this Christmas of 2015 is no matter your situation choose joy and you keep choosing joy because after all that is why God sent Jesus to Earth.  A heartfelt Merry Christmas to each and every one of you reading this.

But first let me take an elfie (tranferred from my old blog)

elfie

 

I know, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  BUT I have waited as long as I can and there is a girl that needs our help.  With all the nastiness going on in this world, I think we need an opportunity right now to come together to make a change for the better.  You in?

Here are the rules!

You have two options once you have been challenged.

  1.  Post an elfie (selfie with an elf hat).Elf hats are sold at grocery stores, dollar stores, and drugstores so no worries about not being able to find one.  If you don’t want to pay for it, take an elfie at the store =)
  2.  Post a video of you singing part of your favorite Christmas Carol. We know this option would make Buddy the Elf smile because the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

After you post you picture or video you must call out THREE people to take on the challenge!  If your friends take on the challenge you must donate money which I will explain next (most important part so don’t stop reading)!!!

Donation breakdown:

Friend posts an elfie: 5$

Friend posts a video singing their favorite Christmas carol: 10$

Friend posts a video singing a Christmas Carol in a public place: 15$

For those of you who as students always went for the extra credit channel your inner Buddy the Elf and sing your heart out in the middle of a busy place =)

(If these amounts are not doable for your wallet, give what you works for you.)

Make sure to post the link where you donate: http://reecesrainbow.org/94973/sponsorhorton-3

 

So let’s get to the heart of this challenge.  There is a charity I am passionate about called Reece’s Rainbow.  Reece’s Rainbow is a  registered 501(c)3 charity which advocates and fundraises for the international adoption and rescue of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs.  Reece’s Rainbow serves as a VOICE OF HOPE for these children who are languishing in orphanages and mental institutions around the world, when there are literally hundreds of families here in the US and Canada who would rescue them if only the funds were available to do so!!

There are families waiting to adopt these children and give them a loving home but they need the funds.  That is where we come in.  There is a girl named Hope.  Hope is seven years old and weighs ten pounds.  She is severely malnourished and needs our love and support.  Thank God there is a family who has opened their hearts and soon their home to this precious girl.  They plan to travel soon to get her, but they need our help.  They need a little less than 5,000 dollars to complete their fundraising.  Let’s make it happen!

Take those elfies.

Belt out those Christmas Carols.

Donate here and post this link:  http://reecesrainbow.org/94973/sponsorhorton-3

Let’s bring Hope home!

 

I am calling out Eric, Mary, and Bob.  You have 48 hours to complete the elfie challenge.  Here is the link to the ruleshttps://wordpress.com/post/tallenoughforthisrollercoaster.wordpress.com/20 .    If you participate, I donate!  

Here is an example please feel free to copy and paste, but just change the names to the people you are calling out!

 

If you would like to follow the family’s journey here is their blog:http://andthentherewashope.blogspot.com/elfie