Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Between Us...

Just between you and me, I have get something off my chest....

The other day I heard some one say (about someone else's character) What's in the past, is in the past. It's a familiar saying, one which most of us like to believe is true...but the more life experience I gain, the more I realize that most of the time, what's in the past is most definitely not actually in the past, but very much in the present.

I've often heard Dr. Phil say something to the effect that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. I think he's right. Time alone does not fix our personality/character flaws. Time alone does not change us. Without genuine repentance and effort to be different, we are exactly who we were in the past. I don't think we do ourselves or anyone else any favors by leading them to believe otherwise.

I've often felt that changing myself was impossible. I've even more often thought that other people changing is impossible. And in ministry, you soon realize that many who say they've changed, have in fact not. And those who say they want to change are often telling the truth...however the hidden truth is that they don't want to do the work needed to change. Sounds depressing, no? Sometimes...it is. But there are those, those people who you see the change. They don't have to convince me, or anyone else because it radiates from them. It's visible. It's undeniable. They can say, I once was this and now I'm this. And no one disputes it.

That's when the past is truly in the past.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It Gets Me Every Time...

It's Tuesday.

My house is a mess.

The laundry is overflowing.

Tomorrow night we leave for Thanksgiving in Wisconsin.

I haven't packed.

Even my van is a mess. I'm gonna have to empty that thing before we can load up all 6 of us and our stuff.

And once again, I've waited till the last minute. Always. I always put off stuff like this till the last minute. And *big surprise* it always makes me a little crabby...and slightly annoyed with my family that all they have to do it look forward to the trip.

Poor, poor pitiful me.

What a fantastic Thanksgiving attitude ;) On Sunday, Ben spoke on how anxiety robs us of the ability to be thankful. I hadn't ever thought of it like that before. During his sermon I thought, yeah...that's true. And then this week God took that lesson one step further...by nailing it to my heart. (Pastor's love when He does that ;)

Every other year we travel to WI to spend the night at my Aunt and Uncle's for Thanksgiving. The whole crew is there and I love it. And without even being aware of it, I've let my anxiety over the messy house, my distaste for packing, and the fact that I hate all of my maternity jeans (don't even get me started) to rob me of the joy and thanksgiving that I should be enjoying.

Sounds ridiculous, no? It is. My ability to wallow in self pity is enormous. Got. To. STOP.

So here's my Thankful list. I know, a bajillion other bloggers are saying what they're thankful for, and you've read it all before...but this list, it's for me.

Time to remember that I'm thankful...

  • That we have family to "go home" to. Wonderful people.
  • that my neighbors are willing to come over and let Odie out so that we can even go to WI.
  • that I have a family I adore. All the laundry and all the packing means I have people whom I love, to do that for.
  • It's Thanksgiving and I'm eating for two. Hip hip hooray!
  • The only thing I'm required to bring to Thanksgiving dinner is three 2-liters of pop. Score.
  • That God loves me enough to not ignore me.
  • for my new bathtub/shower that a guy from church has spent a lot of time installing.
  • for all the wonderful groceries that our church family gave us on Saturday night...especially the Captain Crunch.
Okay...now I should really go get some stuff done while my attitude is still good. :)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Get Personal Part 2

If you haven't read yesterday's post, you should go there and do it, because otherwise this is just gonna seem weird.

I enjoyed reading your comments yesterday. I had no idea so many others were going through similar situations. I should warn you this is my longest post ever. Get some coffee and sugary nourishment before you settle in. It's a journey I'm glad to share, and one I need to record for my own sake as well...I'm likely to find myself back here some day.

I think the details are important because, as I've said before...God is in the details. He doesn't show me the details up-front. Just a small, teeny-tiny glimpse of the very next step. He knows I spook easily, and to keep me on course I can't know very much about His plans. My mind is just too small to be able to wrap around them. But once those plans are played out, He turns me around and throws the doors wide open for me to see...and each time, I just stand there in awe, uttering now I get it...sorta.

Early on in our marriage Ben and I both agreed that four sounded like a good number. The pregnancy with our first born, Noah, came as a bit of a surprise. A little sooner than we'd planned, but not shocking. When Noah was 7 months old I discovered I was pregnant with Eli. That was a shocker. I cried for a good week or two just from the sheer shock of it. But God proved faithful, and the girl who never wanted kids really close together got them anyway. And I wouldn't change it for anything.

By the time Eli turned two years old I was ready to try for another. Along came Jake, three months before Eli turned 3. Because my first two were only 16 months apart, I thought that the gap of almost 3 years between Eli and Jake was HUGE and would certainly make it easier.

I am and idiot.

Three rocked my world. I had a 4 year old, 3 year old and baby. Jake was a couple months old when the opportunity arose for Ben to pastor in tiny town. At the time, it didn't seem like difficult transition at all, but as I look back I see things I was oblivious to at the time. Over the course of Jake's first year of life I became more and more convinced that three was good. Three was plenty! Three was all I could handle by myself in the church pew every Sunday morning and Sunday night while my husband preached.

And to further convince myself I convinced everyone around me as well. Whenever the topic of more kids came up I gave a hearty no way and a lengthy list of reasons as to why this pastor's wife was busy enough.

And then the boys got older...and physically less exhausting for me. And that feeling that I talked about yesterday...or wondering, settled in. And I began to question what the desires of my heart really were, and it brought me to my knees before the One who knows what those desires are.

I mentioned yesterday that in my head I had sorted out all of the possible options. Ben and I talked at length about each one, but it always boiled down to the same thing...

  1. Doing something permanent, at this point in our lives, just didn't settle well with us. I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that I might later regret it. That someday I might think...did God want us to have one more and we missed out on that life because I wanted a decision made right. now?
  2. The idea of purposely trying didn't settle well either because I was very content with our three wonderful little guys. Our family didn't feel like it was lacking, in fact, it felt quite full. I didn't know if I wanted to be pregnant again...and all that entailed, losing all the weight afterwards in particular. Maybe three boys was exactly what God had planned for our family.
Ben suggested we just do nothing. I may have had a panic attack...at first. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt like maybe that might work. If God wanted to move during that time, He would. And if He didn't, then we would know that three was exactly the number planned. We made this decision last October.

So for October, November and December I was completely paranoid. I bought pregnancy tests from The Dollar Tree (oh you know the store, where EVERYTHING is a dollar...my paranoia made me buy in bulk ;) I freaked the few days before my period was due...because I really, REALLY wasn't ready to get pregnant. Ben, and my running partner Billie deserve a lot of credit...they were the only ones privy to my paranoia. :)

By January I began to calm down some. It's also when we needed to decide if we were going to go through with having a foreign exchange student for the following school year. I knew that either an exchange student or a baby would be ok...but not both. Again, we weighed the options. What if I got pregnant before she arrived? Would we have to back out? Should we not go ahead with it because of the possibility of getting pregnant? We didn't have a lot of time to dwell on it...we needed to pick a student soon in order to get first dibs. We had such a peace about Julie, that we knew we were to go ahead with it...certainly God wouldn't give me both. Certainly.

Then, in February or March He planted the idea of the 1/2 marathon. Billie used to tease me that I might get pregnant and be able to quit...to which I replied that I was quite certain I wouldn't get pregnant now, after all God had inspired this race for me...I knew He was behind it, and He'd definitely make me finish it. He certainly wouldn't call me to it and THEN have me get pregnant. So, it became a non-issue for awhile and I focused on my family and the running.

And that's when I felt a huge weight lifted from me. For so long I had been carrying the burden of what to do about the whole family planning issue. When I finally handed it over, and stopped freaking out, I found the freedom that He desired for me. I learned to be content in the uncertainty. I gradually learned not to freak out every month because I didn't know what was in store. I just lived life. Plus, with the boys we had gotten pregnant pretty quickly. The fact that we hadn't yet made me quite certain that it was God's way of telling me our family was complete.

Along comes August. Julie is here and We're three weeks out from the race. It's a Wednesday and we're due to have a 9 miler that Saturday. And for some reason it suddenly dawns on me that my period should have probably started already. I make a quick phone call to Billie (because your running partner keeps track of these sorta things) in hopes that she can convince me that I'm totally off on my days. She convinces me...but not that I'm off ;)

Two test later, I was certain. And amazed. And completely and utterly confused about the timing. After talking with the Dr. she gave the go-ahead to finish the half marathon as long as I could stay hydrated, and I thought wow...God's doing both.

The 9 miles that Saturday went great. The 10 miles the next Saturday went slower, but I felt good about it. I knew I'd be able to finish the half.

Thursday before the race the barfing began. No stopping in sight. By Friday night I had Billie pick up my registration packet, but I knew I would not be able to run it. Saturday morning I went and cheered Billie on...fighting back tears. We'd trained together, we were supposed to run together. I couldn't figure out why God would call me to train and then not let me run.

Later I realized that I'd only assumed the race was part of the deal...what He had called me to was the training, the discipline and the obedience. His timing wasn't off...it was perfect. Without those lessons, learned literally through sweat and tears, I wouldn't be ready for this baby. I wouldn't have been ready for 16 weeks of nausea and barfing. I wouldn't have been ready for both a baby and an exchange student. What seemed like terrible timing was actually His perfect timing. But I am not exaggerating when I say His way of doing things is never how I think it's going to be.

The story is never finished. I have no idea what tomorrow holds...or the next minute for that matter. For now, I know that in April, Lord willing, we will bring home baby #4. And boy or girl...God has planned it. And most likely, over time, we will find ourselves back to the familiar question....are we done yet? Because really, like my mother in law says...what's one more?!? :)


Let's Get Personal Part 1

Yesterday I received a question from a non-real life bloggy friend. She wondered if it was weird for her to ask a serious question to a person you've never actually met but feel like you know via bloggy world. And my answer, without a doubt is nope. Not weird at all. I love blog questions. Makes me feel like someone is actually listening to what I'm saying...which is a good portion of the reason I blog. Because in my real life, it can often feel like no one is paying attention. :)

Before I get to the question, I'm gonna put a disclaimer on this post. I hate disclaimers, they somehow seem like an apology for whatever is being said in order to not offend anyone in the slightest. But sometimes they are necessary...as with every other single thing ever written on this blog, this is just my personal story. I without a doubt, believe that God's plan for everyone's family size is completely different. And the journey He takes them on, and what He asks of them is each unique. There's no simple 3-step formula for everyone.

Finally...question - Did you know that you knew that you knew that you wanted another baby?

In Short: No.

The truth is, the closer I grow to Christ, the less confident I am in what I want. This drives me crazy, but it is actually a very, very good thing. There have been many things that I was certain I wanted at one time, only to completely change my mind later. And on the flip side, there were certain things I never wanted, that have turned out to have been the desire of my heart after all.

That sounds neat and tidy, doesn't it? I wish it were that simple. But the road to that conclusion was not easy...is not easy.

About a year and a half ago Ben and I began to struggle with what it meant, for us, to give control over to God regarding the size of our family. For quite awhile we'd had a peace about how we were going about things...and then...the feeling of unrest settled in. We weighed the options.

The problem, for me especially...because I have control-freak tendency, was that all the options made me feel like I was the one in control, when I really just wanted God to make the decision.

In my head, these were the options:
  • Decide if we are done having kids or not. If we are done, then someone should get fixed. When? Who? (Some finger pointing went on here ;)
  • Do we just go about our current method which was trying to prevent, while yet still leaving an option open for God to do what He wants?
  • Do we do nothing to prevent? There was a joke going around when Ben was in seminary, because everyone was having babies. What do you call a husband and wife who do not use birth control? Answer: Parents. And by my experience, that was TRUE. So, for me, not using anything meant trying...which meant I still felt like I was taking the decision into my own hands.
I begged God to JUST PICK AN OPTION and then let me know which one He'd like. I asked friends about their journey. Each story was unique and it helped to know that others were in the same struggle...whether they already had 1,2, or 10 kids.

Have I mentioned I don't like uncertainty? I want things decided. It wasn't until I surrendered to the fact that it wasn't going to be decided that the peace started to come. I had thought the lesson for me was to find out what option was best, when in reality the lesson was for Ben and I to surrender to uncertainty.

This was a hard lesson for me. And really, I'd like to leave the rest of the story and details out. Sharing parts of my life, and keeping it real come pretty easily for me. But, you may notice that often I talk in more general terms...leaving details out protects me and those around me. I can keep it real and still keep a sense of privacy. It works well for me. But I know on this topic, God has brought me on this journey for a reason, and I'm gonna share the rest of it with you...

Tomorrow. Because I've reached my self imposed blog length limit for the day.

Details. Because in this case, God is glorified in the details.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Ideal...

There are two of me. Sort of.

There's ideal Sarah and real Sarah.

Each night as real Sarah crawls into bed she plans what ideal Sarah is going to do differently tomorrow.

Ideal Sarah is going to get her butt out of bed at 5:30 AM (and she'll be happy about it) and she'll immediately get on the treadmill for 45 minutes. When she's done, she'll start the coffee pot (which is not still filled with old coffee from yesterday because ideal Sarah cleans up everything before she goes to bed) and then she'll head up to take a shower and get herself ready for the day. Ideal Sarah even picks out something cute to wear with accessories.

She then heads downstairs while all her boys are still sleeping. She pours herself a cup of coffee and grabs a seat on the couch to spend some time with her Savior, because ideal Sarah never forgets how much she needs Him.

When she's finished, she starts making a breakfast that does not consist of the options of cereal, oatmeal or toast. Ideal Sarah does not raise her voice when she has to tell her children for the 500th time that morning to get themselves ready. She doesn't forget to send the lunch money check and she certainly gets them to school with lots of time to spare.

Ideal Sarah always appreciates that she gets to be a stay at home mom. She never wastes time on trivial things, but goes about her day efficiently completing all that needs to be done.

She plans meals. Enjoys working on homework with her children and at the end of the night, she always takes her make-up off, brushes and flosses before ever thinking of crawling into bed. She's never too tired. Did I mention she also never throws stuff off the bed onto the floor?

Real Sarah despises ideal Sarah. Because even though ideal Sarah does not exist, real Sarah still wants her too...for some reason.

PS - Ideal Sarah also never buys a pound of crab salad and finishes it herself. She would never do that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Personal...

I'm in session 5 of Beth Moore's Daniel study. God has used this study to challenge me beyond words. I haven't blogged on it much because it is so personal, so close to my heart that I need it to just stay there for awhile.

This morning, something Beth wrote hit me hard.

For some, the flow of the world can be easier to resist than the flow of Christian mediocrity.

I struggle with both. Until this study, I didn't realize how much the attitudes of my culture are just a part of me. Even more so, how the attitudes of other Christians around me affect me.

Beth says...

We abide in our subgroups by unspoken codes dictating how far we'll go in our devotion to God. Anyone who goes overboard or takes it too seriously is considered eccentric, not extraordinary.
The truth is, worldly individuals already think I've lost my mind. I came to understand that very, very early in my Christian experience. I get that...I understand that. I can handle that. After all, why wouldn't they think I was a little strange?

What I seem to never get used to is the backlash that sometimes comes from fellow believers during the times in my life that Christ has called me to be different. I can be going about my business, quite happy and content and then God goes and grabs my heart again with something like this Daniel study. And during those times...He requires something different of me. Requires a change.

I've learned that sometimes other believers view my changes as judgement on them. And often, I've wrongly viewed other's changes as judgement on me.

And they're not.

I do have a point to this incessant rambling, I'll try to find it...recently God has convicted the parsonage family that it's time for us to do something different in one particular area. It has nothing to do with how anyone else does this particular thing. He's just calling us to it differently for now, and we can either obey what He's asking and risk being viewed as the weirdos, or we can maintain our norm and just go with the way we've always done it.

But only one way leads to obedience for us.

At the end of each day, I want to be the Christian that is an encouragement to the person who tells me God is convicting them and they want to change. I want to rejoice with them when God calls them to something radical. I want to encourage them to trust and follow even when it seems crazy. I don't want to get in the way of what God is doing in someone elses life...I want to cheer them on instead.

I am so thankful for those people in my life that have cheered us on when God called us to something that seemed crazy at the time. And I'm especially thankful for those who've set the example before me, living out a radical faith.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the Life of Me I Can't...

Something has happened to me.

For some odd reason I am unable to make simple decisions. It is driving me crazy. CRAZY. I'm normally the gal who knows what she likes. But lately...not so much.

I hem and haw (wow, I say that all the time but it looks really weird when I write it...) over the most trivial things. It annoys me to death when people can't make simple decisions...and now I'm one of them.

And because I can't get away from myself, it's taken annoying to a whole new level. It takes me twice as long to grocery shop, pick something for supper, make plans, and even get dressed in the morning. And when I do finally make a decision, I end up doubting it.

You know what one does when they can't decide...nothing. I just wait and wait and wait thinking I'll soon be able to choose...and I don't. I just put it off a little longer.

I'm sure there's a spiritual lesson in it somewhere. I'm just still stuck in the "what the heck happened to me, bring back the Sarah who can make decisions" stage. Once I get passed it (and it may take awhile) I'll be sure to fill you in.

In the mean time...should I hit Publish Post or not? Did I mention it's annoying?

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Have No Point...

Because I can't narrow it down to a point....

  • I have been watching a ridiculous amount of football. And generally, every team I'm rooting for...loses. I like the Packers, because my oldest son Noah likes the Packers. Last night I was rooting for the Cowboys because my brother loves them...and they won. Next week the Packers play the Cowboys, and because it is against my nature to remain neutral I must pick a side. I'm gonna go with the Pack. See, I told you...it's gotten out of hand people.
  • My same little brother who likes the Cowboys (who I call little, but he's actually almost 21 years old...but to my almost 32 years it makes him little) was dealt a blow this past week. He found out that he is diabetic. Very diabetic. It sorta came outta no where, with no family history...and so he's adjusting. And because I'm his big sister, and pregnant, I did my share of crying for him...because giving up the sugar...is something to cry about.
  • I am very much on the verge of getting some Christmas decor out...just the greenery and lights...maybe. I love Thanksgiving, I do. I love it even more when I celebrate it with Christmas decor ;)
  • I am very annoyed with my pants that won't stay up. It's only gonna get worse as my belly gets bigger. I'm thinking it's time to bring suspenders back. Wait, I take that back. I don't' think suspenders were ever in to begin with...let's start it.
  • I am utterly and completely annoyed with our House of Representatives. Praying the Senate has some more sense.
  • I finished the book Methland this weekend. I can't even tell you how disturbing it was. Made me want to crawl back into the bubble I live in...you know, with shiny happy people holding hands...now that song is gonna be in my head all day. Hate when that happens.
I think that's enough random for one day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Good Questions and Yummy Donuts...



Man this picture makes me want some donuts. My love for donuts runs deep...very deep.

Moving on.

I'm joining in on the fun with Linda over at 2nd Cup. I think all of my readers probably already know Linda, but it you haven't met yet, I highly recommend you take a trip over there. She's a hoot.

1. It's early morning, about 2:00AM, and you're driving home. You come to a red light and sit there. There is no one in sight for miles around. Do you wait it out or run the light?
I sit there...until I've convinced myself that the stoplight must not work properly at 2AM therefor justifying my need to go through it. And then, I think to myself *wait!* it's 2 in the morning and there are probably drunk people driving all over the place and if I break the law by going through the stoplight they will probably show up out of nowhere and crash into me. Welcome to my thought process...it's exhausting.

2. If you had the chance to re-do the last 24 hours, would you change anything?
I might change my tall Peppermint Mocha to a grande because sometimes bigger is better.

3. When you reply to someone's comment on your blog, do you reply in your comments or go to her blog and comment? (Or email her)
It just depends. But I am not very good at following up like many people are. I'm always amazed when I leave a comment somewhere and the sweet person emails me about it. Makes me feel special... and then bad because I am not as thoughtful. I do have some good excuses though...I can email ya if you're interested. ;)

4. Your favorite Disney movie is: Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.

5. Do you recycle?
I do! Only for the past year or so...I'm a little slow at jumping on this band wagon. I don't really enjoy it though...but I can do my part.

6. Games of strategy or games of chance?
Can I say a little of both without cheating the question? My current favorite game is Dutch Blitz. It's a card game with Amish people on it. And I think it involves both strategy and chance...that being said, I am very annoyed that my husband beats me at it 80% of the time.

7. Do you have any recurring dreams?
YES. I keep dreaming that we are moving into another parsonage. Still the same church, just moving us to a different house. Anyways, the houses are big old houses and in the dream I'm trying to figure out where I'll put everything and who will sleep in each room and then I'm trying to figure out what colors to paint all the while I'm wishing I could just go back to my small house where I don't have to worry about any of that.

8. What did you learn from your first real job?
I'm gonna count babysitting as my first real job because I was a hard-core babysitter and man was I good at it. I could keep the kids happy and safe AND clean their kitchen to boot. I was in high demand. I learned to multi-task with kiddos around. Too bad I don't have my 15 year old energy to keep me going these days.

9. Do you buy or borrow most books?
I think I borrow most books. I've just recently started using our little library on a regular basis. I've gotten over my bad habit of not returning books so now it's not quite as scary :) Just yesterday I checked out this book. I KNOW! I saw the author on The Today show and this town in the book is in our general area. My step dad grew up there and we have a good pastor friend who is now pastoring there. I think it will open my eyes to my own tiny town too. I'll let ya know more about it once I pass page 15.

10. What fashion trend of the past did you say you'd never wear again but did?
Pretty much all of them. I tend to eat the word never whenever I use it.

11. When do you start Christmas shopping?
Not until December. It's all about atmosphere for me.

12. Have you ever been so happy that you literally jumped up and down for a few seconds? If so, what was the occasion?
Yes. It usually involves me clapping too. For some reason they just go together.

Go over to Linda's to join in on the fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pictures...

Just for the heck of it, I took some pictures yesterday and today. Something I haven't done in quite awhile...

I thought I'd document my increasing belly/decreasing lap. At 15 1/2 weeks the lap still wins.

And the baby bump...


And the purple shoes that I've rekindled that loving feeling for recently...


And a new hair cut that was loooong over due thanks to nausea and barfing...



It's good to feel somewhat normal again. Well, maybe normal is a bad choice of word...it's good to feel like me again.