Thursday, April 25, 2013

A little photo catch up.

Spokane continues to prove itself to be beautiful and full of wonder as the days pass.

We are overwhelmed with the amount of time we are able to spend outside and how much there is to do.

One of our favorite things to do is hike down by the river, but we also love our bikes and playing at the dozens of parks that this city has to offer. 

In the last week most days have been in the 60's and the warmth in the breeze brings the promise of summer.  But for now we are enjoying what we have in the moment.
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It seems as the days pass we learn more and more about our little Gracer Girl.  She is no easy nut to crack.  She is thriving in homeschooling and most of her anxieties have subsided.  However she still cries about leaving for 10 years:)

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Some days we even do a bit of our schooling outside.  This makes everyone happy.

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I took Grace shopping for some summer things a few weeks back.  This dressing room sleighed me.  I mean I think I could have just died in that pretty pink room.  Grace has a strong love/hate relationship with shopping. But if it involves a snack she is in for the long haul.

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This is my new favorite photo of Elliot.  He loved having Todd and Jessie here.  HE also loves making us laugh and he succeeds at this very often!

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Speaking of Todd and Jessie they were here and I enjoyed having them as well!

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There is no caption good enough for this!

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Me and my big hunk of man on Easter.  

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My two little cherubs.  I finished Grace's dress at about midnight the night before.  

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This book is giving Elliot and I common ground.  Lots of good discussion.  I wish it would have been around for me in my pre-teens.  I suggest it to anyone.  Pick up a copy and read it.  It will make you better.  
You'll notice it is from the library.  That place continues to being one our favorite past times.  I have gotten over my fear of late fees...I consider them a membership fee for the library.  Nothing like a positive spin to erase the shame those librarians place on you.  When they tell me I owe ten dollars its a bummer but when it is only four I feel like I got a really great deal.

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Josherwoggie came to see us for a few days.  I just put his porta-crib away.  We all miss him like crazy.  

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Grandma and I worked together to make four of these little dresses for four sweet little girlies to wear on the cruise.  The cruise that we leave on in 4 sleeps.  

And that is the short version of the catch up.  We are almost all the way through our curriculum for the year and both kids are beyond where they need to be so that is oh so good!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Did This All Become Such A Hassle?

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Do you ever have thoughts that cross your mind that embarrass you even though no one else knows, even though the words never crept past your lips?

I had this just the other day when the above statement crossed my mind.  I had a particularly hard past month.  I can honestly say I was depressed.  I can honestly say that I had lost all feeling for anything.  Being excited, being all seemed the same....blah.  Sometimes I get into a spot where I am just waiting for the next book to fall off the shelf.  You know what I mean.  And this is a horrible attitude to have and even worse outlook to hang on to.  Now I could sit here and give you at least 20 reasons why my emotions or lack there of were justifiable or I could be down right honest and share why I have been absent from here over the last weeks and how I have determined what has actually happened to me.

So the words that crossed my mind were, "When did this all become such a hassle?" Immediately after these thoughts crossed my mind I cried for the rest of the day and I shut out the rest of the world.  And this is when I knew I had finally made a breakthrough with this depression...this black cloud.  I finally had pinpointed the emotion I was most troubled with. I felt hassled.  The things I feel hassled by the most are the things that make this thought feel so shameful.  I felt hassled by my largest blessings, hassled by the things that hold most dear to me. I also felt hassled  by emotions that I had yet to deal with.  Some of these emotions have become old scars that actually tear from time to time.  And guys I am here to tell you that it is embarrasing and down right humbling to tell you that I don't have it all together....which I am sure most of you know already.

It started awhile ago it was like a freight train that plowed right through the center of me.  I started to forget who I was working for.  I started working my hardest at pleasing and loving my little family for their sake.  I wanted my kids to know that I teach them here in our home because I love them, because I want whats best for them....I want them to know that I feed them all of this beautiful fresh organic locally grown food because its what I believe is the best for them, I am a tiger mom because I believe an education is your one ticket to take you wherever you want to go, I want them to believe that I am super strict about how they behave because I want them to grow up to be good little citizens...good little worker bees.  Instead of them returning my good works with thankfulness and gratefulness and recognition they cry and whine and complain and argue and fight and scream and refuse to do their lessons and yell and sometimes they say things that Jager's don't say, I bet you can't imagine this.  I have been working my darnedest to show Brian I love him through keeping this monstrosity of a house spotless, making sure dinner is on the table by the time he gets home,  not freaking out when he is late or puts in way to many hours in a week or answers his phone in the middle of dinner, not complaining if we miss out on date night and being available for whatever he needs. I thought this would be returned with a feeling of acceptance, of devotion, of love and with dedication but although I know this man loves me and their is absolutely nothing wrong with him or our relationship the return was not what I needed.  And this friends is where the feeling of hassle began and I felt abandoned and abandonment is an old friend of mine.  Instead of all of this feeling like a mighty calling it began to feel like a job.  I hate having a job!  I have had them I will probably have them again and they are a necessity for survival in this big world, but I am an earth passion driven person who works best when she is working within her spiritual gifts, if I can not connect I lose interest, I develop a bad attitude and I start to feel like I need to change paths.  And this is when I start to feel like I need to jump overboard surrender and pray that someone will just give me a time out.

About simultaneously to this all happening I was reminded of my Dad.  Not the Dad I talk about so lovingly on this old rag so often.  The Dad on my birth certificate, the man who taught me to fish, the man who taught me to ride my bike, the one person in this world whose relationship lost definition for me as years went on.  It's not something I talk about easily.  It's not something I am even finished dissecting or working through.  My Dad died two years ago last week.  No one called, no one remembered -my siblings have resolved themselves to believe that I had no feeling for this man, I believe they think that I hated him up until the day he left this earth and so with that thought how can I blame them. They send each other notes and condolences and hugs and I sit and reflect.  I reflect on what I want to feel, on what I actually feel and what I wish would have happened.  The truth is my Dad died to me about four years before his actual passing.  I cut him out of my life.  I made the choice.  I held strong with choice and I waited in the wings for him to make a choice.  And I was hoping all along that he would choose me. I was hoping all through those  4 years that he would pick up the phone in a loving way, that he would act out of love instead of anger. But he didn't and once again I don't blame him.  I cut hm off and never talked to him again.  Never explained my choices, I just attempted to move on.  Waiting for two words to be said to you by another who has no idea that you would expect that from them is excruciating and dare I say even if those two words  are "owed" to you this expectation is wrong . Broken expectations from those who are supposed to be in your circle of trust is the most painful thing I have ever experienced and most times the expectations are unreasonable and selfish.  Two years ago I received a phone call from a liaison  someone who put themselves in a position to help me.  Two years ago I learned more about forgiveness than I ever thought I would or could have.  Two years ago three short weeks before my Dad passed away I stood at his bedside and forgave him for not saying those words and he still refused to say them back, I asked him to forgive me for causing him hurt and he did.  Two years ago three weeks before my Dad died I let go of hopes and dreams I had for 20 years.  Two years ago three weeks before my Dad died I said goodbye to him with the knowledge that I would never see him again and nothing would be resolved quite as I had planned.  But I believe the way it played out was exactly what God planned for me in that situation.  The two words I was looking for were, "I'm sorry."  This may seem petty to you or small.  But I have to tell you if those thoughts cross your mind you have no idea or grasp on the power of forgiveness. I believe God taught me a huge lesson in forgiveness that day. Saying I'm sorry doesn't always fix it folks, asking for forgiveness doesn't mean the other person will forgive you and just because you say I'm sorry first doesn't me they will say it back.  Well let me tell you I went into the whole experience thinking I was doing this great thing for him, giving him the dignity that he deserved in his death and maybe it did, maybe I succeeded in that.  That day I drove to the care facility he was with all of the windows down, It was a beautiful warm spring day, I had christian music blaring as loud as possible to drown out my doubts and I was praying out loud the whole way.  I was praying for a covering I was praying for a purpose in it all, and not only did I want there to be a purpose but I wanted it to be evident.  Oh boy we get demanding sometimes don't we.  I remember that in the last few minutes of my drive Beautiful Things by Gungor played on the radio.  I had heard this song dozens of times, Brian and I hand sang it in church but this time I heard it in a new light.  I believe God used the words of that song to speak directly to me that afternoon.  He was making something new.  I was reminded that God can make beauty out even the ugliest situations and that's what this was.  When I entered through the doors of that facility I felt a covering, I felt a purpose, I felt that purpose was evident.  It wasn't about me or what I needed, it was about one of God's creations. A man that he made, a man that he knit together in his mother's womb, one of his children. I was shown in this moment that God never really stops loving any of us, I felt this with every fiber of my being that day. And what He was asking me to do was for HIM, not the man, not for me, but for HIM!

This is the reminder I needed this month.  This was what I needed to believe.  That all the "things" I do, all of the "works" that I do are for HIM! They aren't for my kids, they aren't for my husband, they aren't for anyone they are for God and God alone.

It is so easy to let the weight of this sin filled world to bog us down. It is so easy to let those sins make us crabby, make us search for purpose, make us look from side to side, wish for things to be different. It is easy to feel hassled because it is hard if you are trying to do it all yourself for people who are not able to truly fulfill your longing. It is easy for me to want recognition in my role here as house wench (kidding;)  But really I am mother because he gave me that, I am wife because he gave me that....I am daughter because he gave me that.  And so the true love, the true recognition, the true thankfulness and pride, and the true forgiveness can only be given to me through Him who gave it all to me.

And so once again I move forward.  I am still very much a work in progress.  I never want it to seem otherwise.  I never want God to be finished with me.

t's spring which is a great reminder of the ability to have a fresh start.
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Grace lovingly carried these tiny flowers on her sweatshirt for a two mile hike just to watch them be trampled at the end. It broke my heart.  But she picked new ones and all was well.  My kids are great reminders of what it means to be His!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's been crazy around these parts.

In the last two weeks we have had 3 sets of vistors.  It has been a crazy but it has also been a blessing.  

Today I feel as if things are getting back to "normal."  Everyone has gone home.  Grace is moved out of the closet.  I have done three loads of laundry already, the kids are half way through their lessons, I have a list of lesson plans organized for our vacation, grocery list in the works, bathing suit ordered, packing list started, and I have only been in tears once.  So I would say today is off to a good start!  

We shall have a couple weeks of this "normal", and then guess what?  We are going to the Caribbean on a cruise with Brians whole side of the family:)  T-Minus-12 days I think.  The trip came a massive surprise....we didn't think we were going to be able to go because of work commitments, but the commitments were canceled last week and we were able to scramble and get a room on the ship.  So yay...Bon Voyage.

I am having trouble uploading photos and I have a whole slew of them to share.  Be back soon!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Out In The Great Wide Open.

Under the skies so blue.

Yesterday we experienced the greatest Easter weather of our lives.  It was warm to the point of wearing shorts and tank tops.  And there was not a drop of rain to be had.

We tried a new church this weekend.  We joined them in their Good Friday service as well as their Easter service.  I will have to humbly admit that I had resigned my self in thinking we may not go to church this Sunday.  I dreaded the idea of visiting a church for the first time on Easter Sunday because my experience of being in church leadership has jaded me.  It was pride too I suppose.  I didn't want to appear as a Easter Christmas attender.  I loathe the idea of being someone's charity case or outreach opportunity and really I am so incredibly exhausted over the idea of church hunting.  The must ironic part of this statement is that it sounds as if I am the perfect subject to be someone's outreach opportunity my heart was so not in the right place entering this weekend.

I am once again beyond blessed to have a God that loves me despite my own misgivings, my own hang ups and sins.  We have been blessed by others in our journey to this side of the mountains.  Not only from the people we have left behind but with new friends as well. We have become friends with two other couples, the moms I met through our homeschool program.  They are wonderful Christian couples with imperfect children and loving relationships. The bond with them happened quickly and they have blessed us beyond with friendship and connection and a sense of belonging.

Hang on with me I am coming back to church and I promise this will all tie together.

When we first started looking for a new church here we chatted about what we were looking for, what we wanted for our little family, what we felt God wanted for us, and how involved we thought we would get. In the process we have experienced a church we could have been comfortable attending but never would have been able to be connected, a church that was operating on a completely different wavelength, a church with lots of rules but no love and everything else that resembles a poor fit for us.  Its been frustrating, its brought tears, its brought discussion, its been the root of my homesickness at times and it has brought much longing. 

Now back to the friends.

One of the couples is part of a church here that is missional.  It just so happens that was the number 1 thing Brian and I were looking for in a church.  It was #1 on our list.  We know that our time here in Spokane is probably going to be short and we want to serve as much as we can while we are here.  We want to connect through God using us here with others that belong to Spokane.  We know we can't make large commitments or fill callings because of our projected outlook of our time here but we can serve, we can be worker bees, we can connect.....we can work for God. And in doing this we will be fulfilling our own callings. 

This church has small groups throughout the city called missional communities they are not only filled with members of the church but they are used for outreach in the community as well.  They are filled with believers and people that are on the fence.  Together they all work through the same Bible study each week and then they talk through it.  They usually share a meal, there are kids running around like wild Indians and people are not only enjoying each other but they are learning and loving God through it all.  It is quite beautiful!  It is quite wonderful.  And God is it using it for his glory. 

So we tried their church this weekend.  On the weekend that marks the whole reason I can call Jesus my Savior.  And although I was apprehensive and at first I felt as if I were invading on this intimate and lovely family experience, I soon saw that this is a group a people that are loving each other not only for their likeness but I believe their differences as well.  We met more people on this past Sunday then we have met at any of the other churches combined.  We had invitations for lunch, shared phone numbers and connections made with people that I believe we could create relationships with.  It was refreshing.

I stood in that church singing Nothing But The Blood yesterday morning, surrounded by complete strangers and felt for the first time since we have been here that we could be home.  Tears streamed down my cheeks, my hands fell outstretched from my sides and thanked God for loving me enough to send His son to die for me.  For me that doubts, for me that lacks faith, for me that turns my back, for me that refuses to pray some times, for me that falls short, for me that forgets to be thankful in all times, in all things.  This past six months have been a testament of His love for me, of His never ending care and provision, for His plan for my little family.  Never once has he left us and not one piece of it could I claim for my own doing, it has been apparent that this journey belongs to Him as does all of my life.

We finished our day off by spending some time in His creation.  We took a hike through our new favorite outdoor space...Bowl and Pitcher near the river here in Spokane.  It is a different kind of beauty than what we have on the west side.  Everything looks foreign yet the same.  Different because if the surroundings, the trees look different, the sky looks different, even the rocks look different, yet it all looks the same to me because of my knowledge in who made it all.  We shared our time with our new friends and their children, we experienced bumps and bruises, blood and tears, laughter and play, but most of all I enjoyed the idea that God is still growing me.....still creating something new for me, through me, around me and in me.  His love and sacrifice surround me everyday, yet it is not held against me rather its only used to love me more.