>> Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's not that I don't love Chicago.  I really do.  I love being in the city.  I love the lake and the museums.  I love living in the suburbs with all the conveniences and fun things to do.  I love the schools my boys go to, I love our new church, I love my job and living so close to all these things.  I even love the snow.  Really.  It is so beautiful when falling and when it rests on the bare tree branches to create a beautiful wintry scene.  I love sledding and snowmen and all that winter fun.  I really do love living in Chicago. 

But then....
Then I come home.

I come to Florida and I step foot on the beach.  I smell the ocean and hear the waves.  I see the dunes and the sea grass waving in the breeze.  There is just simply nothing like it.  At the risk of sounding overly cheesy or cliche', it is like being at the ocean just sweeps through my soul taking away my stress and anxiety or discontent and leaves me feeling clear and calm and like I am where I am supposed to be.  It is soul-cleansing for me and restorative in ways that nothing else can be. 

It is at the ocean that my soul finds rest.  That my mind is at ease.  That I can calm my thoughts and worries and hear Jesus whisper words of peace and love and confidence. 

Part of it probably is just the getting away.  Here we are away from most of our to-do's and places to be and all of that.  But that too is good.  SO very good.
I'm so thankful for these times I have with my boys on the beach.  I want them to have the same love for this place that I do, to feel it permeate their little souls too.  I can already see that happening and that too is therapy for this beach mama's soul.

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Boys in Lights

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One of my favorite things to do while decorating for Christmas, is to let the boys sit in the midst of the lit Christmas lights and watch the soft light reflect on their sweet faces.  I started this when Caden was a baby.  I hope to do it every year.  

Caden 2008 (3 1/2 months)

Lucas 2008 (2 1/2)
Hadley (4, 28 in dog years)

Lucas 2009 (3)

Caden 2009 (15months)

Caden 2010 (2)

Lucas 2010 (4)

Lucas 2011 (5)

Caden 2011 (3)

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Believing With Head and Heart

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

 We recently joined a new small group at our new church.  After a couple years in a house church with people who knew us deeply and knew our story, the prospect of entering into a vulnerable relationship with new friends was both exciting and a bit frightening.  In the first couple weeks, this group dove right in, choosing a book to study together and taking turns telling the stories of our spiritual journeys.  The first couple to share astounded me with their openness about a topic I think I would have been too afraid to share with relative strangers.  The next week, another shared about a place of spiritual woundedness that was causing him to ask some pretty deep questions about God and His plan.
Then, it was our turn.  I always have to gear myself up a bit to be able to rewalk that journey.  It feels so complicated and raw and hard to fully put into words.  Plus, my body begins to physically feel again all the emotions of the years, all the anxiety and sadness and questioning.  I am always afraid that new listeners will not see the significance of the events or that I will be so afraid of them not thinking it is all significant that I will gloss over the story and walk away feeling I did not do it/him justice.
Well, it went fine.  And they did think it was/is significant.  And for the first time, they asked us some really great questions about the impact on our current life.  No one had ever really asked us those things before.  Maybe because the times we have told it before we always much closer and more fresh.  But 7years out, it felt good to examine things more from the broader picture.
"How has it changed how you pray?" "Do you question the goodness of God?"  "Can you say that God is trustworthy?"

All questions I have probably asked myself at one time or another.  But not ever had to answer out loud.  In front of people I just barely met.

How has it changed how I pray?

Do I question the goodness of God?

Can I say that God is trustworthy?

I could type here the answers that I gave to the group.  But in all honesty, I am not fully sure how to answer these questions.  Through the conversation though, I came to realize that I really don't trust the goodness of God to me.  I can say to a friend, without wavering, that God will be with them in a tough time.  And I mean it.  I fully trust that God will heal my dear friend in CA and bless her life of service to Him.  I expect God to lead my friends who are entering a season of drastic life-change, that He will provide for them and keep their family safe and whole.  I know that He will make His path known to my sister who has had a rough road the past few years but is, by His grace, coming into a season of joy.  But me...  I am not so sure about that.  I don't know if I trust God to be good to me.  So it is not at all a question of IS God good.  I know He is.  But I am not confident that He will choose to shower that goodness upon me.
I sit in the dark at the bedsides of my boys and pray God's protective hand upon them.  Lord, keep them safe and well.  Protect them from my faults and from the world that may try to harm or persuade them.  Guide their steps, shape their souls, infuse them with your love and peace.  Fix their eyes on you.    And I trust that He will do all these things.  I don't really have a choice to think otherwise.  But can I say that He is trustworthy?  Yes, I guess I can.  He is Holy and just and worthy of all praise and adoration. And trust.  I know this with my head.  I just have a hard time letting that infiltrate my heart. 

I am not so blind that I am unable to see the vastness of His blessings to me.  I have parents who are still married and adore each other and would move moon and stars to take care of me and my boys.  I have a husband who tries so hard to love me in the ways that I ask him to and is devoted to our family at a level that I cannot comprehend.  I have 3amazing boys who my life would be empty without.  I have a good job, a warm home, a car that works.  I get to go to Florida several times a year and soak in the restoration of the ocean.  I am a blessed girl.
But I have these hurdles.  Hurdles created by things on my journey that feel insurmountable. They keep my knowledge of God as good and trustworthy from moving from head to heart. I am certainly not proud of this.  It is a huge weakness and flaw.  And my extreme self-reliance makes it even harder for me to ask God to help me rely on Him and trust Him...  see how I am kinda stuck there?

It is only He who can heal me- heal my wounds and my Lupus and my fear of not being able to take care of my own self.  But am I letting Him do that?  How DO I let him do that?

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Halloween 2011

>> Friday, November 4, 2011

 As probably anticipated, both boys wanted to be superheros this year....again.  They were Batman and Robin last year, which I loved.  And they were super-cute again this year but it was the first year that they haven't worn coordinated costumes.  Sure, both superheros.  But not connected to each other... you know what I am sayin'?  They are past the stage of letting others choose for them. 

But, I loved it just the same.  Gotta love the "muscles"! 

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Overdo Update

>> Thursday, November 3, 2011

Updates on me/us:
The boys are getting bigger by the second... but that is nothing new.

Lucas is loving school and really thriving there.  He went from being able to read a handful of words to being able to pick up most of his books and work through them.  It has been phenomenal to watch.  I put it right up there with watching his first steps and hearing his first "Mama."  Hearing him sit and read a book aloud to his brother brings a permeating grin to my face and makes me burst with joy and pride.  Also, admittedly, it makes me feel like maybe I am not totally screwing up this whole motherhood thing.  At least he'll be able to read.  :)
He is becoming more thoughtful and responsible- slowly but surely.  I am very grateful for that.  I think it is part due to getting older and part thanks to his classical school.  Either way, it is nice to see this change starting in him. 
Oh, and he just lost his first tooth.  And he's half way to six...  Slow down, would ya!!

Caden loves preschool, although you wouldn't know it to see him get dropped off.  He does fine once I am out the door and is all smiles when I pick him up.  But cries hysterically during the actual separation.  He has some pretty significant separation anxiety, still.  Now that I think about it, he has kinda always been like this.  When he was a baby, he cried when the babysitter left once.  He just doesn't like anyone to leave him.  He always says he is sad when we drop Lucas at school, but then we have a great time together and he doesn't want to go back and get him later.  It is the leaving that he doesn't like.  Hmmm....  thoughts anyone? 
He is also in the midst of the terrible-threes.  Everything is "NO, I WON'T do that!  I will NEVER (fill-in-the-blank)!" But he is oh-so-cute and just makes my heart melt.  I know God designed it that way- cuteness level must equal stubborn level so we don't totally throw the towel in when they get like this.  He puts his arms around my neck and just pulls our heads together until our noses touch.  He is in the that half baby-half big boy stage and I am trying to cherish the baby as long as I can.

After a summer of stupid Lupus flare symptoms, I am finally getting my joint pain under control.  It took adding a new medication, Methotrexate (an oral chemo med).  I couldn't tolerate the Prednisone a second longer so I weaned myself off that in August.  Then in September, I started the Metho. The side effects are crappy but thankfully waning a bit.  I am not sure how long I will be on it.  I initially thought it would be only short term. But I am realizing that since it is working and the nausea/vomitting is getting better, I might not be so quick to come off it for fear that the symptoms would just come right back.  My only concern is this: one of the reasons we took this next step in treatment is that it became clear that the Lupus was no longer content to mess up my joints and had moved to my muscles (aka: severe muscle fatigue and stiffness and even breakdown).  I still seem to be having some of those symptoms and in fact, the stiffness is getting a bit worse.  SOOOO...  I am not sure.  Maybe this is the right drug for me, maybe this is the right diagnosis for me, maybe I am on the right track....  but maybe not.  It sucks to feel so unsure at this point so far down the Lupus road.  
I stopped running back in June after I did the 10K.  It was doing the 10K on like the hottest day of the entire summer that sent my body into full-flare-mode and I am still trying to get back to where I was last Spring when I felt my best.  I am slacking on the gluten-free thing but really want to get better at it 'cuz I think it really does make a difference and might help get some of this predinsone/haven't been running weight off.  

We started going to a new church, joined a new small group, and are planning to spend a week over Christmas at our favorite place to getaway.  So that's where we are these days... consider yourself up to date!  :)  Love to y'all!

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Like Brother, Like Brother

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lucas age 3, 2009
Caden age 3, 2011
 This is just how much of a nerd I am... I dressed both my boys in the same outfit for their first days of preschool.  Yes, I know.  Nerdy motherhood at its finest.  But it gives me a perma grin that I am totally not ashamed of.  I do it because it is cute and I love matching clothes, but also just so I can do posts like this.  Putting these pics side by side brings a continuity to my life is some way.  I love that they are at the same preschool, playing with the same toys and being nurtured by the same teachers.  I love that Caden has Lucas to look up to and that Lucas loves to share his knowledge of this school and his teachers with his younger brother.  I love that sparkle in Caden's eye when he realizes that he is now getting to do all those things he watched with envy as Lucas got to do at school.  And it brings an unspeakable warmth to my soul to listen to Lucas ask Caden about his day and if he got a book from the library or played at the water table.  They are sharing life together and I absolutely love it!  They adore each other.  I mean, they fight.  But they truly are each other's best friend and I hope it stays that way forever. 
But really, I just love it when they match.  :)  I hope this makes you smile a little too. 
Lucas loved the farmhouse and all the animals.  It was an immediate favorite.
Caden playing with the same farm animals
Lucas getting his post-1st day treat
Caden and his cone- I HAD to keep up that tradition!


Sweet Mornings

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011

With Lucas starting school this week (more on that another time), Caden and I have had some really precious time together. We have taken walks and had breakfast together and sat and played Justice League. As emotional as the week has been for me, having these sweet times with Caden has been therapy for my soul. Here are some pics from our walk this morning:

Caden wanted to collect sticks. Our collection got so big, that he had to get out of the wagon and walk. hehe!!
A boy and his pup- they have a special fondness for each other.
After our walk, we sat on the sidewalk and played with superheros. It was too nice to stay inside but we had to get our Justice League time in. :)

Caden starts preschool in a few weeks and I will resume my normal work schedule. But even then, we will have one morning a week for us to spend just the two of us. And I can't wait. :)

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