Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting In the Fall Spirit

I love love love the fall! It is one of coziest seasons - the cool weather, warm colors, falling leaves, hot coffee and cider, sweaters and scarves, football, hearty soups - I love it all! Although we are still having some warm temps during the day, it is definitely starting to look a little more like autumn here in NC. To get in the spirit, we did a little decorating. Since the budget is tight, I tried to use as much as I could from what was already around the house. This is what we came up with: 

For the mantel, I only had to purchase the vinyl letters for the glasses ($3 at Walmart), and the 99 cent pumpkin and gourd. 

You can see that Clive gets to come out of his normal perch in our bathroom and stay front and center for the season atop some books I thought had fall-ish colored covers:

This little guy is a free-handed bird hanging out on a burlap-wrapped canvas:

I really really wanted to draw a duck instead, as a shout out to my uncles who used to go hunting every year on Thanksgiving. My memories of Thanksgiving with family in Illinois are the epitome of what fall feels like to me - in a nice, cozy home with my family, eating comfort food and playing tag football in the yard. The duck would have been very symbolic, but my attempt at drawing it was even worse than poor little birdie here. 

A few of those pumpkins/gourds for the kitchen table, in a favorite leaf-covered bowl from HomeGoods a few years ago:

A new owl friend! This gray cutie (who kinda looks like a cat in this pic) gets to hang out on the window sill in the kitchen. Harry has named him "hoohoo." :)

The wreath on the garage door got a little makeover, thanks to $1 worth of leaves added to it (ignore the fact that it's lopsided, the leaves keep falling out):

 And a little candle in a pottery dish with dried avocado seeds adds a little ambiance to the coffee bar:

What does fall look like in your home?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Wednesday Funny

I certainly do not want to ever intentionally embarrass my children, but I can't help but share this video. Don't worry, I asked Eden first if I could and her words were "oh yeah!"  :)


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Giving God the Glory

This post has taken me a while to write. It's a subject I want to take my time on and really do it justice. Normally I keep things light but sometimes things happen that, although joyful, require more reverence in delivery. It's gonna be word heavy, so be prepared!

I've had issues with my back for about 10 years now. The first time it really went out was the first year we were married. No injury or specific trauma, just a culmination of things that caused my discs to get out of whack and produce a ton of inflammation. It would flare up and I'd have bad days or weeks, or even months. But there were sometimes it was better, too. Until June 2012, and then it got really bad. Basically, for a year my back has been “out.” That means a lot of things: I lie down most of the day and can't sit or stand for long periods, I can't play with my kids in the floor, can't clean the house or exercise, and even daily things like taking a shower were painful and dreaded. I wasn't able to attend church and make it through a whole service, sit in a car for very long, or go shopping. It was even hard to hang out with friends unless I had a place to lie down, which was humiliating. On top of this, two different doctors hinted they thought I had fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by chronic and widespread pain throughout the body.

Most of the time I was able to stay positive. Look for the things I was able to do, grateful to have my babies and such a caring and attentive husband. But right around the year mark I became weary. Tired of acting like things were ok. I was angry with the Lord, and then at myself for being angry at Him. I know that anything I endure here on this earth is nothing close to what I deserve, and I should be grateful for everything in my life. But I just couldn't get over the hump. It was the first time I ever experienced real depression, and it scared me. I had dark thoughts and knew that my family would be so much better if I wasn't here, that they wouldn't have to deal with my limitations. I had severe guilt concerning the kids and Jason, because I felt like a complete failure as a wife and mother, not being able to fulfill any of the responsibilities as I should. It was a sad and lonely time.

Don't misunderstand – I had family and friends surrounding me, asking how to help. I just didn't know what to tell them. Bringing a meal is wonderful, but that is just one in a sea of meals I am unable to cook. Taking my kids for a bit while I rest is thoughtful, but rest doesn't produce healing, so is it really worth time away from my kids? It felt that anything I could ask them to do would be lost in the overwhelming list of things I couldn't do. Jason was a tremendous help, ever-patient and loving. He has never once complained about my physical limitations and how he had to constantly pick up my slack. I very heavily depended on him during this time, and he came through for me. He was my steady compass when I wanted to give up. He has so completely defined the role God created for him, and has loved me as Christ loved the church in a way I have never seen exemplified before. I am so, so blessed to have him as my partner in life.

Although my closest friends knew about my back problems, I was hesitant to tell them the extent of it. I was embarrassed and humiliated. I felt like a little old lady, hunched over and hobbling all the time. People at church knew I had days where my back hurt, but not the seriousness of it. I didn't want to bring any more attention to it than I had to, I was already so self-conscious.

I couldn't hide it for long though. God blessed me with three, that's right, THREE amazing best friends. I have never been one to cling to relationships outside of my family, until these three came along. They suggested getting together for a night of prayer. The frame of mind I was in most certainly did not lend itself to wanting to pray, much less admit my struggle with God to my closest, Godly friends. But I went anyway. And my life was changed by it. I found myself finally being transparent with them, telling them all my desperate thoughts. I couldn't believe their response – they cried with me over the limits my back issues created. Grieved with me over lost opportunities and chronic, daily pain. I saw the love they had for me, pouring out through their eyes and their encouraging words. They laid their hands on me and cried out to God to heal me, pleaded with Him to touch my body. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. There were also numerous other people praying for me, including Jason, my parents, people they had asked to pray, and others it had been passed to through those who love me most.

Even after all of that, I did not believe God was going to heal me. I had been seeing chiropractors for several years on and off, although consistently the last 6 months. I had tried medication, natural remedies, etc. with no success. I took gluten and sugar out of my diet which seemed to make a difference in my overall pain, but not specifically the back pain. I am ashamed to say it, but I simply didn't have the faith that God would do it. Not that He couldn't, just that it wasn't His plan for me. I was resigned to live this way.

Then about three weeks ago, I realized I had had about three good days in a row. I was skeptical, but thankful for the break. As another day passed, then another, then another, my hope started creeping back in. What was this? Did the chiropractic treatments all of a sudden work? Did my diet changes all of a sudden kick in? Then it hit me: God healed me. The faith of my friends and family, taking their request to the Lord, had taken away my suffering. Could it be? I found myself leery of committing to the term “healed” - why was I so hesitant? It just seemed too good to be true. There was not one inkling of pain left. Nothing in my back, nothing in my leg – it just wasn't there.

Why did God do this? Why did He heal me when so many others continue to suffer, especially when I didn't even think He would? I don't know. But I do know that He used this whole experience to change me. I had to learn to depend on God like never before. There were days where I would cling to His promises, praying for Him to help me simply make it through the day. He has shown Himself so faithful to me, even when I doubted. I am so humbled, and so thankful. What an amazing and merciful God we have!

It has been awesome to actually do daily things and not be in pain! Things like laundry, dishes, take a shower – all in one day! One of the sweetest moments I've had was being able to pick Harry up and dance all over the kitchen with him. It shocks me every time I don't gasp in pain, it just doesn't seem real to go from one extreme to another so quickly. Now my muscles need some serious work. They are weak and are going to take some time to build up to normal standards. It is exciting to find a new normal for us now that I can move more, and I have to say I like it.

Even though this has been a lengthy and wordy post (kuddos if you are still reading!), I still don't feel like it can completely explain the awe I'm in. This changes our whole lives, my ability to function normally again. It is such a gift to be able to live out my day with no pain – I didn't expect to be able to do that again. It is great blessing, one that I'm excited to take advantage of!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sniff sniff...

How is it that my baby is old enough to be in her first dance class? I tell ya, these milestones are great and exciting but the mama in me cries every time! 

Eden had her very first ballet, tap and gymnastics class this last Thursday. Here she is all ready to go (and being sweet to her brother!):

Unfortunately, I hardly got any pics of her class. Parents aren't allowed on the floor at any time, and I had to snap what I could from way up in bleachers far away from where they were. So these are fuzzy and horrible! But you get the idea. :) 

Waiting with her class to get started (seriously, 10-12 teeny dancers in pink and white tights and leotards made for some cuteness overload!). Her teacher, Miss Kari, is the one in black to the left:

I was very impressed with the teacher and her helpers! 

Marching to their first stop, the balance beam and foam pit (Eden's second in line):

Waiting for a turn to jump in the foam!

None of my pics from her tap and ballet parts came out, but it was PRECIOUS! They clicked across the room in their tap shoes and pirouetted across in their ballet slippers. It was a sweet thing to see. So proud of our little dancer!