Around Here: Week 30

Visiting... Rockaway Beach, Oregon.  My grandparents live there, and our kids love the beach, so we wanted to make sure we made it there at least once this summer.  The kids love building sand castles, throwing rocks in the ocean and eating ice cream cones from the corner shop.

Driving... for hour upon hour to get to the coast.  Used to be we lived only two hours from there.  Now it's 6 and a half hours WITHOUT four kids.  WITH four kids, it took us TEN BLESSED HOURS to finally arrive.  Thankfully the drive home was only seven hours.  Boy was I happy to pull into our driveway!!!

Moving... Wyatt's bed into the laundry room.  Carly has been teething four molars the last week or two and she's screaming herself to sleep many nights, waking multiple times, and little, if anything, comforts her.  I was starting to feel really bad for Wyatt.  I could see that his lack of sleep (thanks to sharing a room with Carly) was impacting his behavior.  So I asked Josh to move his bed.
Last weekend I painted the office/laundry room, so it was empty, which made it easier to set Wyatt up in there.  Now I'm trying to decide if I want the move to be permanent or not. Living in limbo, with all the office supplies stacked in laundry baskets in the hallway, is driving me crazy!

Working... around the house, inside and out. Josh is working (still, forever) on the yard, trimming more bushes back and keeping the jungle of grass in the backyard manageable.  Meanwhile, I am working inside the house, sorting through clothes, shoes & coats to prepare for back to school shopping; and organizing the boys' toys (still, forever) to try and keep the messes to a minimum.

Grocery shopping... with Wyatt on Friday morning.  Carly fell asleep on the way there, so I had to carry her around, having Wyatt drive the cart, even though he can barely see over the handle, and having him also cross off the grocery list.  He was just the cutest helper.  I was sure grateful to have him along!  (Note to self: Put the Ergo back in the car!!!)

Feeling... a bit weary.  The other day Josh asked how I felt my summer was going, and honestly it's been really good.  I have felt fantastic until probably this week.  It's like everything caught up with me, and now I feel like I'm drowning.  I can barely keep up with the laundry, dishes, shopping and housekeeping, let alone any big projects (like painting) or fun things (like reading books)... It feels like if I do take a little time for myself, I pay for it.  I am constantly playing catch-up on the laundry and cleaning up after Carly if I take my eyes off her for even a second. It's like I'm still adjusting to having four kids, and I am plain worn out!

Celebrating... our girl hitting the 18 month mark.  I can't believe so many things about this milestone-- First, that she's been in our family for only a year and a half... I can hardly imagine life before her!  Second, how much her hair has grown in just six months. Holy moly! And third, how much she is leaning away from infancy and into toddler-hood, it's crazy.

Proud... of myself for not freaking out earlier this week. I have medical anxiety, which means any strange physical symptoms in me or my children can bring about a panic attack and a deep desire to medical google.  Instead of googling when Carly had a strange rash, I remembered our old pediatrician telling me something like 90% of rashes have no known cause and promised myself that if it remained for two days or if she experienced any other symptoms, then I could worry.  But until that point, I was to let it go.  And guess what? I did it! I enjoyed our vacation and by the next day, the rash was gone. I think it had been either an irritation from the sand, or a heat rash from sleeping with me.



Around Here: Week 29

Enjoying... Josh taking all four boys to Vancouver for Grandma's Camp with his mom.  She wanted to have them, and Josh wanted to help his dad build a fence, so it was perfect.  They were gone for four days, three nights, and I had Carly and the house all to myself for the weekend.  It was absolutely as glorious as you imagine it was, and I enjoyed Carly so much.  I did a lot of reading, a lot of movie watching, and a lot of sleeping.

Painting... Carly's nails for the first time.  While the boys were out of town, we had some girl time.  I painted her nails, tried a new hairdo, let  her take long baths full of toys & bubbles, and took her to the pool.

Getting... a surprise sliding glass door.  Upon Josh's return, he surprised me with a trailer toting a sliding glass door for our dining room.  The one we had was original to the house and didn't open anymore.  Josh and his brother put it in (thank you Samuel!) and you can already tell the difference in how efficient it is at keeping the cool air in and the hot air out.  Plus the frame is white now instead of black, so the whole room seems fresh.  I am in love!

Painting... the dining room and kitchen.  Followed by the office and touching up the rest of the house.  You know the saying, "If you give a girl a slider..." Haha!  As soon as I saw the new molding go up around the window I told Josh, I am finally going to paint the dining room & kitchen walls that I haven't done yet.  When I finished that I decided since I had paint left over, I should go ahead and do the office.  I finished the office this morning and I am so pleased that I did it.

Rearranging... the living room to accommodate a desk so we can have our family computer out in the open. We are setting clear boundaries about screen time at a young age so that we set the kids up for success in the future.  (Bonus, I love rearranging furniture and bookshelves, so this project was right up my alley.)

Starting... a new journal. #101 :)  I just love the feeling of all the empty pages, all the memories yet to be recorded. And this journal is just beautiful with gold flecks in it...

Slowing... down on my summer reading. I have sort of stalled out in Bold Spirit and The Island and am instead only listening to The Hate U Give, which I should finish today. I'm not sure if I'm going to force myself to finish the two I started, or if I'm going to move on. I guess we'll see what the week holds.

Laughing... as I finished up Freakonomics and they listed the Top 20 Whitest Girl Names and the Top 20 Whitest Boy Names, and literally every single one of my kids names was on it.


Celebrating... Josh's birthday with our neighbor who shares his birthday.  They spoiled us with pizza and brownie sundaes, and the boys loved the box of toys they pulled out for them to explore.  It was a lovely way to spend an evening.

Wondering... after reading Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reader Survey Results: What is the BEST BOOK you have read this summer? And what is the BEST BOOK you have read EVER? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram (on any picture, it doesn't matter!) to tell me what book I should be reading!

And if you're curious... My BEST BOOK this summer was a tie between The Identicals and The Stars are Fire.  My BEST BOOK EVER is American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.



Singing His Praise

The town we moved to almost a year ago is beautiful. I love where it is, I love the people and I am so grateful to live here.  Nearly all of the friends I've made here also have a relationship with Jesus, which I love, and most (if not all) of them go to church.  That is a big difference from where I lived before, where probably not even half of my friends went to church regularly.

Because of this church-centered community I've moved into, I have felt some of my old issues with the church cropping up. Mostly feelings of shame, not belonging and guilt.

It just so happened that a few months ago there was an event I wanted to attend one evening at a church here in town. There was going to be a speaker I wanted to hear and so I made plans (begged) for Josh to watch the kids so I could go.  The evening came and while I was nervous to be in a church again, I really wanted to hear the speaker, so I forced myself to be brave.


Senior Homecoming
A little backstory:
When Josh and I met and began dating during our junior year of high school, my church was against it. It was preached that we (“Christians”) were not supposed to even be close friends with Mormons, let alone date them.  And so I received quite a bit of flack for dating Josh, who was raised Mormon.  After our first few dates, before we became an official couple, I spent a day at the beach with my family.  The timing was perfect as I was trying to figure out just what I was going to do about the predicament I found myself in.  So I spent that sunny spring day sitting on a piece of drift wood at my favorite beach, watching the tide come in and out, contemplating what future I wanted.  (Very cliche, I know, but true nonetheless.)  I prayed, with an open and honest heart for God to reveal His plan to me.  The answer was clear.  I was meant to be with Josh.  He was the one.  Once I had the all clear from Him, I had to deal with everyone else.  My parents were easy, they liked Josh and completely trusted my judgment. My grandparents were also easy.  Grandpa told me that he didn't like the religious animosity that was being preached to me, and Grandma felt that if I had prayed and God had answered, that was good enough for her.

The church, however… well, the church was a different story.  What happened with the church is the most painful event of my young life.  The church and I tried, I will give us that.  I kept attending, stayed involved, but slowly, things changed.  I was turned away when I volunteered for vacation bible school, among other things.  Things I had done for years.  I was no longer called to baby-sit for families I had grown up watching.  It was a slow kind of heartbreak.  I didn't want to leave, but I knew I couldn't stay.  Josh had become a very important part of my life.  I managed to continue attending until fall 2001, just after my senior year had ended.  We had been together a year and half, and I knew Josh wasn't going anywhere.  I had tried, on several occasions, to bring him to the church, to involve him there, where I had grown, and loved, and learned about the Lord.  But somehow it always ended disastrously.  He didn't feel welcome there.  Honestly, by that point, neither did I.

Eventually my mom decided to take things into her own hands.  She couldn't believe some of the things they had been teaching us, and decided to confirm with the pastor that this was our church’s stance on Mormons, whom my mom had always admired as moral, upstanding, family-oriented people.  I begged her not to go. 
She talked to the pastor and said to him, “But Shelly prayed. And God told her yes.”  
His response? “Well, that may be.  But we told her no.” 

And so it was that ten years of memories, adventures & friendship ended, breaking my heart and ruining my ability to trust in organized religion.


Back to current day-- I did well, but I will admit, walking into a church completely alone and not knowing a face in the crowd was a bit daunting after all these years.  But I persevered.  We gathered in the sanctuary, and the evening began with some praise songs. Almost immediately as everyone around me began to sing, my throat got tight, tears welled in my eyes, and I had to force myself to blink rapidly to keep from losing my composure.

I didn't know any of the words.

That was it. I didn't know the worship songs.

And that undid me.

When I attended church (from ages 8 to 18) I always knew all the songs. Worship music was my thing, and my voice was the gift God gave me.  So to come and stand in a pew, watching the words flash by on the screen and not know the tune or the next verse, felt like I was in a foreign land instead of at home as I should have felt.

Honestly, I started to get angry.  I could have become a worship leader. I could be using my voice for Christ. I could have been a Children's ministry leader, teaching songs about Jesus to children.  I could be standing here, singing with the boldest voice among the crowd.  And instead, I was fumbling, awkward and nearly crying.

Anger, luckily, is not a feeling I am comfortable with.  So I thought, and wrestled with it a bit, and came to the conclusion that being angry is not how I want to feel.

"Bitterness, resentment and anger 
have no place in a heart as beautiful as yours." 
-Lysa TerKeurst 

I finished reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst just days before this church event.  This quote really hit home as I stood pondering my predicament with the church's rejection: "If their absence was caused by death, you would grieve their loss.  But when their absence was caused by rejection, you not only grieve their loss but you also have to wrestle through the fact that they wanted this." 


That is so powerful and so accurate.  I couldn't just be sad that I lost people whom I had considered family, I also had to face the fact that our separation was exactly what they sought.  TerKeurst follows that truth with this one, "Grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitter rot."

So as much as anger and resentment and bitterness tried to well up inside me, I knew, and I've always known, that being bitter is not what will make me feel better.  Grace & forgiveness, gratitude for the years we did have together, and a big deep breath are the only things I can offer this situation that will make it palatable.

I have to admit that I have told myself for years that I deserved to be rejected by my old church when really I didn't.  Thinking I deserved it made it hurt less than knowing I did nothing wrong. Thankfully God's promise to me is that He will draw near to the one who has had her heart shattered and deliver her from exposed grief to victory. Psalm 34:18

So here I am, sixteen years, two big moves, and four kids later, living in victory with my amazing husband by my side.  From these experiences, I've learned there are many ways to serve God and I don't have to attend church to be of value to Him.  I can live this life, singing his praises, even if I don't know the words.



Around Here: Week 28

She's not sad... She's just tying really hard to make different animal sounds

Receiving... a Kindle Paperwhite as a gift from a friend, and I can already tell it's going to change my reading LIFE!  I can read in bed without bothering Josh; I can read while I'm nursing without distracting Carly; and I can read outside in the direct sunlight without straining my eyes. It's so exciting!

Celebrating... that Josh was born July 13th all those years ago.  He's the best thing that's ever happened in my life, and I'm so grateful for him.

Reading... Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  Bold Spirit is the (almost) lost story of Helga Estby, who walked across America from Washington State to save her family farm.  I am only a few chapters in, but it had me at "pioneer" and I am loving it.

Made to Crave is about how to turn to God instead of food for comfort.  Thus far I have been working on watching when I want to eat (mostly I turn to food as a reward for adulting & parenting, hah!) and trying to make healthier choices for meal times.
I definitely use food as a means of dealing with tough emotions, although I am trying very hard to let the sadness/anger/disappointment come, wash over me, and go, instead of numbing with food.  I am also rediscovering old hobbies (like card making & letter writing) in hopes that those can fill the space of the bored eating I often do in the afternoons or evenings.

Following... Allison Kimmey on instagram. Seriously. You have to check her out. She is an average size American girl, loving her body and not apologizing for her size or the space she takes up in this world.  My favorite part of her message is "People HAVE fat, they are NOT fat," which is something I have shared with my kids.

Rereading... One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and The Island by Elin Hildebrand.  One Thousand Gifts is such a beautiful reminder of who God is and all the gifts He's blessed us with; and The Island is such a fun, relaxing summer read. They are both perfectly hitting the spot.

Listening to... Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner, which is absolutely fascinating.  I would recommend this for anyone who is fascinated by people and why we do what we do.

Watching... Passengers, which was good, but I felt like it should have been a mini series as I would have loved a little more backstory and more about life after the couple woke up.
Hidden Figures, which was very moving and reminded me of Bold Spirit in that it covered a story that had been buried in history.
Table 19, which was a cute love story wrapped up in a romantic comedy.

Getting... dental work done. I am really proud of myself cause I had an awful experience getting my wisdom teeth out a few years ago, and since then, dental work has been really off putting.  But I knew it would be easier to get it done this summer, while Josh is available to watch the kids, so I went for it.

Fighting... fevers & sickness with Carly and Logan.  Thankfully everyone seems to be on the mend again, but there were definitely some sleepless nights and worry-filled days.

Going... to the science show at our local library.  Since then, Wyatt is dying to do all the experiments: poking pencils through a baggie full of water; adding baking soda to some vinegar inside a sealed plastic bag (leading to a nice little KABOOM!) and making our own elephant toothpaste, which we haven't tried yet.

Laughing... at Carly trying to make animals noises.  The donkey's "Eee Aww" and a goose's "Honk Honk" proved most difficult, and most hilarious.

Spending... oodles of time at the pool, enjoying this hot weather and all this free time we have together before work training starts for Josh in August.  It's been the best summer and I'm so grateful to have spent so much of it together in the sunshine.