"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

For Your Maker is Your Husband- Isaiah 54

For those of you who don't know, I've been working on reading through the Bible for basically 2 years now.  I've made it through the New Testament once and am back in Mark.  In the Old Testament, I've read Genesis through to 2 Kings and Job through to Isaiah.  Yesterday, I read Isaiah 54.  I actually read verses from this when I was reading through one of my favorite life changing books, Breaking Free- by Beth Moore.  (this book is a must read for all women I think, especially if you have experienced any type of abuse.)  She refers to part of this chapter when she talks about the dreams of all women to be fruitful and have children.

I had never read this chapter in its entirety, at least that I remember.  This chapter is for any woman who has struggled with fertility, or been abandoned, or divorced, or abused, or unmarried.  If you have struggled with any of the big 'women issues' or disenfranchisement with typical 'women dreams' in life, this chapter is for you.  I wish I could type it out in its entirety, but instead I'm going to link you to this chapter on another website.  Here.

I hope you read it and found it encouraging!  Here's where I have struggled:  I've been abandoned, I've been in an abusive relationship, I've worried about never getting married, in the past I worried about never having kids, I've worried that I won't be able to have kids by the time (if) I get remarried... I still struggle with some of these things.  Thankfully, with my experiences through healing from a divorce and abortion and all of those things, my struggles have become less.  But I do notice those thoughts every now and then.  I've just learned to trust God (in those areas- I still struggle a lot with faith).

I'm learning to accept reality with joy.  The reality is that Jude will be much older than any other brothers or sisters he may have.  But the joy is that I've gotten to pour into Jude more than I ever will with any child.  It's been just he and I as long as he can remember.  While it isn't ideal, it does create a special bond and almost friendship that you won't have otherwise.  I don't know that it's always a good thing, but I do think it is a special gift for the single momma.  And I have a feeling I will be close to Jude in a lifelong way because of this.  Another reality is that I will be 30+ before I get remarried and even later before I have more kids.  But the joy is that the road I've walked will make me extremely thankful when all of those things come along.  I will really appreciate them in ways I wouldn't have otherwise.  Another joy is the possibility of adoption.  Yes, in my dream world, I have 5 biological children.  But I do think that as you experience different parts of life, you get to experience different parts of God's character.  I do think that adoption allows you to understand the fact that God adopts us more than I currently do from the lack of adoption standpoint.  Whatever your life experience, wherever you are, there is joy to be found, and a way to see God differently because of it.  And that's always a gift.

This passage encouraged me in many ways.

* vs 1-2 tell us women to burst into song, shout for joy, do not hold back... How many times have you thought "I will do that sometime after I'm married... I will be able to do that more when I have kids... I would be able to do that if it weren't for abuse....  I know I have.  But God tells us to not let our dreams for the future nor our past hurts hold us back.  God has you where you are today for a purpose. A great purpose.  Dive into it fully!  If God is leading you to something, go for it with everything you have.  You can trust him to provide for the future along the way.  But don't spend your life waiting.  Serve him now.

* vs 1 also says that many more are the children of the desolate woman than she who has a husband.  At this point in my teaching career, I've had 120+ children that I have poured my entire soul into loving, teaching, molding in every way.  There is no way I could ever biologically have that many children.  But I consider them all mine.  And I've prayed for them all like they were mine.  And I love them all deeply.  I haven't forgotten any of them.  And you better believe that one of the first things I will do after I get to heaven (besides hugging my Grandma and my other baby) will be to ask God who out of my 'kiddos' is in heaven.  Or making sure He tells me when they do get there!

* vs 4 tells us to not be afraid, do not be ashamed, do not fear disgrace...  While I think this was more intense in Bible times since barrenness was considered a consequence of sin, women are still prone to thinking less of themselves when they experience these lost dreams.  But we don't need to feel that way.  I'm currently reading Loving God with Your Mind by Elizabeth George.  She quotes Alan Redpath as saying "there is nothing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."  I love that!  Abuse came with great purpose!  Abandonment came with great purpose!  Single mommahood came with great purpose!  If I am single forever it will come with great purpose!  If I never have more children it will come with great purpose!  And rest assured,  all your past and present circumstances have come with great purpose too!  None of us know the future, but we can trust God that the future is full of great purpose as well.

* vs 5-10 is our love song I think.  A love song from our Maker who has an unfailing love that will not be shaken.  I personnally love the way it talks of how he loves and calls back the wife who married young only to be rejected.  He loves us so much.  So intimately.  Have you ever spent hours creating something?  For me this comes back to painting.  I remember every brushstroke.  I remember the colors I used and mixed.  I remember blending the colors just so.  I remember putting the paint thicker for certain reasons.  I was there for each second of the process.  And I put all of my energy into each square millimeter.  No teensy spot went unnoticed.  And the more I pour into a painting, the more I love it.  It makes it hard to give away a painting, because there are parts of me in that painting I could never get back.  Even though someone may love the painting and see beauty in it (he- like a husband) could never love it the way I (like God) could love it.  Because I created it.  Women are the painting.  And God has poured himself into each cell and second of our lives.  And even if a dream guy comes along to buy the painting, he will never love it as intimately as God loves us.  Not even close.  You are loved so deeply.  And that is worth far more than a house full of children or the best marriage or a pain free past :)


What I wore:

dress: frock stock (online)
shoes: blowfish via zulily (online)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jude's Photo Book- 2 months

Create your own custom photo books at Shutterfly.com.

I recently snagged a $10 photobook off zulily.  Which allowed me to get 'caught up' on Jude's baby books.  I have officially now done his newborn, month 1 and (drumroll) month 2 books.  Which is perfect since he is 3 1/2.  Enjoy :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Girl Behind the Blog- My Passions

Here is my latest blog which I am linking up here.  I haven't vlogged in awhile, but wanted to do this one because I love passions!  Also there is some photo bombing by Jude.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thankful--- for a family weekend

This past weekend I went down to the Houston area to spend time with my family.  I had been on the fence about going.  Then Thursday night I found out Jimmy would be working in San Antonio all weekend, so it seemed a perfect time to go.  I'm so glad I did because it was exactly what I needed.

We set out later Friday night in my attempts to avoid the nightmare that is Dallas traffic.  This was perfect because it put us right at the Texas interstate bluebonnets right at dusk aka the magic hour for photo taking.  I haven't taken Jude's picture in bluebonnets since he was about 6 months old.  He's wearing a Thomas shirt, there's ketchup on his chin, but it was one of those moments that makes you smile because you spontaneously left the highway for something beautiful.  Why can't life have more of those moments?  If I could be honest, I don't need a whole lot out of life.  But if my life could be filled with more moments where I took more back roads or ignored my schedule more, I would be a happier person.

The past month I've really started to feel just free from all the anxiety that has plagued me so so much over the past few years.  This is nothing short of a miracle.  I'm not sure what to say other than Christ is my merciful intercessor.  I have no doubt that he has lead me to a great counselor, a great doctor, and an extremely supportive boyfriend because His greatest joy is my freedom.  The kind of love he extends to us is so complete and all encompassing.  And you know what else I've learned- its ok to need help!  It's ok that I needed 5 months of counseling to get back on track.  It's ok that I am taking things to help me.  It's ok to admit to people who care about me that I need prayer and am struggling.  For some reason, it took me a long time to realize that the Body of Christ applied to me.  That when I needed an encouraging word, it might come through the mouth of someone in the Church.  Or that when I needed a hug, Christ might hug me through one of His children in my Bible study group.  I just never realized that, and it really should be so obvious.  Thankful for that lesson!  Regardless, Christ is healing me and I just am happier and able to enjoy Jude and my kiddos and my family and Jimmy more.  It's one of the biggest blessing of all.  And the more this 'freer' me comes out, the more these little moments pop up.  And I'm loving it!

Anyway, we got to my parents late Friday.  The thing I love about being with my parents is that there is never a schedule.  Never anywhere I have to be.  Never a time I need to do it.  We woke up.  Ate pancakes.  Got dressed.  Jude played outside all morning.  My mom and I had a long, long lunch at La Madeleines just talking.  That night we grilled hamburgers and West Virginia hotdogs.  We took Jude on a walk in the woods (paths through the neighborhood).  And just enjoyed the moments.  It was perfect.  There are a lot of pictures, I know.  But it was a great, great weekend.

The Year of the Lord’s Favor


The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me
  to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up and Too Cute Tuesday

This weekend was one Jude spent with his dad, so that always puts a bit of a kink in my style.  Just don't like having the little man gone ya know?  I spent Friday hanging out with Jude.  We took a couple of selfies as shown above and below.  Mostly we just hung out.  I wanted to soak him in some before he left with his dad Saturday afternoon.

Saturday Jude went to a birthday party for one of his friends from school.  It's so fun to see him interact with his friends.  I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief when I see him using manners, sharing, interacting like a sane person ;)  Semi joking, but seriously, it's nice to see him interacting with others and get a feel for his social development.  The coolest part of the party was that the fire trucks came out.  The kids got to get in the truck and walk through the ambulance.  Do I have pictures?  Of course not, I didn't realize I needed my phone out for this amazing party.  Jude liked it though.  Although I have to say he liked his grape sucker more :)

Jude left with Michael shortly after that.  I immediately began eating chocolate ice cream from the carton.  #ieatmyfeelings  Luckily, that didn't last long.  Jimmy, ever the gentleman, hung out with me.  He cooked me dinner, which was delicious.  We went and got dairy queen.  Not that I needed it, obvi.  We discussed our movie discord.  He likes serious.  I like comedies.  Luckily, we both like adventure.  We watched Jeff Who Lives At Home, which was funny.  Minus the mom randomly becoming a lesbian?  That falls under the same category as "why did I need that sex scene in this movie- oh yea I didn't".  I mean if it isn't necessary to the plot, why?  Sorry- I know this is also a Too Cute post...

Anyway, we also watched part of The Endless Summer- which I plan on finishing sometime.  Because apparently I love 60s surf documentaries.  I introduced Jimmy to Hey Girl and Hey Christian Girl, and have made him promise to take random selfies of himself with some hey girl comments typed in via phonto or something.  I mean how easy of a birthday present is that right?  He's come up with 2 so far and to say they have made my Monday is an understatement.  I love funny, especially when its Jimmy!

And last but not least- I slept in till 11:00 on Sunday.  I will let that marinade.  Because I can't even.  Bliss I tell you.  Except the part where my body was all "I can't fall asleep until midnight because I'm wide awake" ;)

PS- if you recently started following and have a blog, let me know.  I'd love to check it out :)

See my Tuesday Linking tab

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Severe Mercy- book review

In case you weren't aware, I am an avid reader.  I am always reading at least 2 books most likely.  My favorite are books that make me think, if you can make me think via a fiction story even better.  So in honor of something I do often, I thought I would do posts on occasion as I finish a book.  Especially if it is a book that completely changed my thinking.

Enter in- A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  Jimmy gave me this book for Christmas.  It's actually one of his favorites and to say I love him all the more for his incredible book taste is an understatement. This book has it all:  true love (insert Princess Bride referencess...) faith, pain, deep thoughts.  It tells the story of how Vanauken and his wife, Davy, met and fell in love.  How they valued each other and sought to do everything they could to stay in love forever.  How they sought to live a timefull life.  (which aren't we all seeking that.)  Their love story can seem a little cheesy or intense at times, but unlike the notebook, its actually real ;)

Eventually they go on to Oxford, where they become friends with many Christians (they are not believers).  They discuss their amazement that Christians can be so scholarly and yet have faith in this God they cannot see or prove.  They decide to research Christianity from a scientific standpoint to try to understand why intelligent people can believe it.  Through this process Vanauken becomes friends with CS Lewis.  Davy, his wife, eventually does become a Christian.  And she grows in her faith rapidly, just all out love for her Father.  Vanauken does also become a Christian a little later, but always still more in love with Davy than God.

And then you see them grow in their knowledge and love of God while also struggling to reconcile their love for each other- and how God must be more important than their partner.  It's amazing and raw.

After a few years, Davy eventually becomes terminally ill.  Vanauken takes you through his intense struggle to understand why.  The observations he makes during this time are so profound.  The end of the book is littered with highlights from me.  I have such a new perspective on life and eternity thanks to this book.  See this quote below on the desire for the timeless.  It completely blew me away.

Towards the end you discover why he comes to view Davy's death as a Severe Mercy, from whence the title comes.  I won't tell you why because its so earth shatteringly profound, I'd hate to rob that from you.  But I will say this- if you have ever wondered why God could allow something utterly painful to happen to you, you may have experienced a Severe Mercy.  Read it!  One of the top 5 books I've ever read!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thankfulness. And Grace

The past few weeks I feel like I've been learning a whole lot about grace and who God is and just all this stuff.  I've learned to have grace for myself because I'm having a hard time waking up in the morning, so sometimes I don't have time for the 3 chapters of the Bible I like to read.  I've been filled with this acceptance of the reality of mornings- without feeling guilty or what not.  Although I love having my time, I worry a lot that if I don't then I will be a terrible person.  Slightly true, but dwelling on that takes away from the fact that the Spirit is with me whether I read a couple chapters or a couple verses.  And that God has grace for rough mornings.

On the other hand, I feel like the mornings that I do have the time to pour into the Word, the things I'm learning are so rich and amazing.  I don't mean for this to sound in any way condescending, but the Bible is just sooo good.  I can't imagine not reading it often.  I know I've said it before, but really, you should read it :)

Anyway, without further delay, here are some things I'm thankful for:

* creativity and relaxation.  for some reason this week, I've been super tired.  but jude has also made laying around easy.  in fact in some ways, he's embraced it.  the above picture is of him with the bed he made himself in his toy chest.  fun fact- that is my toy chest from when i was a little girl.  my dad actually made it for me.  and i used to make beds in there too :)

* this week we had rock star day at school-- "rock the staar" or something like that, which is our state standardized test.  i got to wear my new bob dylan t shirt from target.  i think i mentioned it a couple days ago when i was showing off my marley t.  anyway its about the most comfortable t shirt imaginable.

* this kid- seriously.  motherhood is a beautiful thing.  i am so blessed to have this boy in my life.  today he started saying 'awesome' all the time.  i don't say that word very often, so i guess he picked it up from school.  he loves to make up stories, especially scary ones.  he's such a creative, lively thing.  and i just enjoy him.

My 1000 gifts list....

802.  Family in town
803.  Fresh baked cookies
804.  Jude hiding so he can surprise me when I come in
805.  Jude relaxing with blankets and watching tv
806.  Family dinner with plenty of laughs
807.  The hands and face of a sleeping toddler
808.  Good talks with my mom over coffee
809.  Buying Easter clothes and necessities
810.  Girls night concerts full of laughs
811.  Family breakfast
812.  A whole day of relaxing on the couch
813.  Rich time in the Word and being reminded that God gives good gifts to His children and even suffering is a gift and is grace  
814.  Lenten reflections from a coworker
815.  A great working, listening morning with my class- and on a Monday at that
816.  Students excited to share their learning with me
817.  The way my job allows me to give the kids the opportunity to form healthy attachments with me
818.  The excitement of morning coffee when I wake up
819.  Rock staar days at school
820.  A little girl who got to spend the day at her aunt's in Dallas!  and go to Old Navy!  and buy clothes!  and her house has stairs!  - She was so excited and it reminded me what it was like to look through the least of these- where even stairs are considered a luxury.
821.  Laughing with Jude and a just the two of us Easter day
822.  Zoo day with friends
823.  Friends who adopt and inspire me
824.  Being done with all I need to do for a job situation
825.  Cold spring mornings
826.  Raindrops on thistle leaves
827.  Children running through wet mulch, smiling
828.  Cold, damp air- just the right snuggling temperature
829.  Bright green leaves against the grey sky
830.  The way Madison and Victoria have come so far in their reading
831.  How proud Tai was about her reading a book by herself
832.  Making my bf laugh

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Too Cute- Bibles, Zoos, Easter

First off is my edition of 'Too Cute Tuesday'... see my linking tab to visit Megan and Kenzie.  I forgot about this afternoon until I was loading photos.  They are sort of fuzzy because Jude didn't know I was taking them through the window.  But it allowed me to capture him in action.  He's sitting in his car with his baseball bat in the trunk and he's reading his Bible.  He sat there just reading for at least 5 minutes- and however long he was there before I started watching.  And I love this bottom photo.  For some reason it reminds me of old pictures of Christopher Robin, which I adore the classic stories of Winnie the Pooh.  Just the sweetest pictures to me.

Here is classic Jude.  He makes more cave, fort, bed contraptions that any other child I know of.  Except maybe me when I was little ;)  This is how he slept one night- bunched up in a corner.

We went to the zoo again with my friends and their kiddos.

Jude and I rode on the train- you know he LOVED that.  Even though it literally goes 2 mph and you just ride around the parking lot basically.  Thanks to Rachel for getting the bottom pic of us.

Here is Jude's Easter basket, along with the present in the back from my parents.  Pretty low key.  I bought him a bunny via The Sara Jane Project, which I love love love.  Check it out.  Here's Jude checking it all out.  The bunny is now named 'Clover'.  The wrapped present is a pirate puppet named Bart.

And last is Jude in his Easter gear.  It was a pretty yucky day here.  And of course Jude never cooperated for a cute pic, which seems to be the theme :)  But I have a theory that when I am 60+ these 'imperfect' pictures are going to be my favorite!