My life the sitcom and some new wall art

Sometimes I feel like our life should be a sitcom. I feel like this past winter Murphy’s Law has been in effect for our family on a number of occasions. It seems like every time we tried to plan something social or have a weekend to be productive something absurd, bizarre of just annoying came up. I know that is life. If we don’t laugh about it, then what else can we do? Cry? (Sometimes yes.) I guess the best thing to do in these situations that are out of my control is to laugh at the randomness of it al. I really feel like our life could be a sitcom at times though. What would it be called?

“No sleep in the Suburbs”, “Everybody loves Peter (except Hayleigh who is a permanent fixture on her mother’s hip)”, “8 Simple Rules for Managing a High Maintenance One year old”, “The Big Bang Theory: the explosion of toys in my living room edition”, “Clueless” (that one just fits the way it is).

Okay, maybe I had too much fun with that. This is what happens when you have insomnia I guess.

All of the beauty and chaos in our lives lately got me thinking. First of all, I know I am being dramatic. Our lives could be so much more hectic. I only have two kids and I get to stay home. I am always torn between feeling guilty because sometimes I feel overwhelmed by what is on my plate and feeling confident enough to say that being a mom -stay at home, working or any combination of the two is just hard. I can’t stand when people act like they are the first people in the world to go through something. I know I am not the first person to have two kids and manage going to school. I don’t want to be the bum who whines about my “easy” life that I always dreamed of. But at the same time, just because I chose this life, dreamed of this life and would only want to live this life, doesn’t mean it is always rosy. I also can’t stand when people make others feel like their struggles are not valid because they could be going through something worse.

With all that being said, I had a bit of an epiphany about a wall quote to hang in our living room. I have been wanting to make a piece of wall art like this for a long time. I knew I wanted it to say “This is our happily ever after”. Since Peter and I started dating so young we dreamed of having a family together. And so really, in a very real sense, this is what we always dreamed of. I sometimes need to be reminded that right now, in this moment in time, I am living out what I always imagined and longed for. I need that perspective when I am surrounded by crying and whining, when I feel like poop because I didn’t sleep, am up against a deadline for school and haven’t had real adult interaction in too many days to count. It never fails, as I am feeling stressed and sorry for myself I stub my toy on one of the 300 thousand toys on our floor. I need to be able to look over to the wall to that reminder that , hey, you are one blessed lady. You are living your happily ever after.
(Yes, Braxton has feathers in his hair from our leaking down comforter…)

My epiphany came when I realized though that as wonderful as my life may be, those moments of chaos and stress and just plain pain are there for a purpose. (duh!) In a very real sense this is my happily ever after in that God has blessed me with wonderful earthly treasures and a beautiful life with my best friend. But at the same time I need to remember that this is not my home. I will not be really living out my happily ever after until I get to heaven. I also need that perspective in my life. I need to be reminded that the choices I make matter for eternity, that the pain in this life is fleeting, that I am made for more than this. I need to be reminded in my moments of frustration and inadequacy: this is not all there is; it gets better and in my moments of elation and fulfillment; this is not all there is; it gets better.

So I changed up the quote a little bit to read “This is (not) our happily ever after”. Because it is and it isn’t. And I need to be reminded of that. Now, I just need to get it up on the wall.

A letter to my daughter

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Dear Hayleigh,

The older you grow (despite my best efforts to slow the passage of time), the more I learn about who you are.  How a personality is formed is such a mysterious and intriguing thing to me. It is pretty amazing to me to think that from before you were born God knew just how He wanted to make you. I think a lot of times we think about the color of our hair or eyes or skin being known by God while we are still in our mother’s womb. But it is cool for me to think that while you were growing inside me God already had “wired” you to have certain innate characteristics that are such an integral part in defining who you are. It is hard to know what parts of a person is innate and what part is learned behavior. The line is kind of blurry and the innate certainly influences how someone would interpret and integrate the learned stuff. I just find it all very interesting, although there is no way I will ever fully understand it. What I am trying to say is the older you get, the more I see the innate characteristics that God has chosen for you. I guess in a sense this means that, the older you grow the more I see you. And I am just so blown away by what I see.

God made you to be such a sweet, sensitive, caring little girl. You are so others-centered, so giving. I know that most of that is not taught by me. In fact, on numerous occasions I have found myself learning from your natural ability to consider others as more important than yourself. I really believe, that even in your grumpiest, naughtiest moments you would never intentionally cause another person pain-physical or emotional. The concept of saying a hurtful thing to someone seems beyond the scope of your understanding.  You also tend to be shy in social settings but I know you take it all in because you tell me about every detail later. I try to encourage you to interact and assert yourself more in play settings. I know that will come in time. You warm up much quicker in smaller settings. I think you just like to observe larger groups, especially kids, because the wheels are constantly turning in your mind. You are always processing things and you definitely learn by watching others. You are a very deep feeler and are very in tune with what is going on around you. Whenever I seem to be the least bit sad, you notice, and it really affects you. I joke that I can’t even blow my nose without you interrogating me as to whether or not I am sad or sick. I love that in you. I love that God made you that way. I desperately want to do my best to foster in you the beauty which God created in you.

Daddy and I are often so proud and pleased of the little person that you are. We love to see how well behaved and tender and loving you are. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely have your moments where you are slow to obey and where you like to whine and throw fits at the drop of a hat, but I think those behaviors (while not acceptable) spring from the Processor and Feeler in you. I love to piece together more and more of who you are and why you do what you do. It may seem strange to say I am “getting to know you” when I have already known you for three years. I think this is a process. In a lot of ways I am still trying to get to know and understand myself! I think this process is so important for me to undertake as your mom because it is my job to see who you are-the essence of you, and nurture that in you. One day I hope that you will use all the wonderful gifts and tendencies that God created in you to glorify Him. Well, that might not be the best way to phrase it because I know you already make God smile by being just who you are. I just long for you to be able to recognize the unique characteristics of you, the ones that are deep inside you and have been there since before you were born, the ones that make you the person you are. I long for you to be satisfied in who God made you to be and consciously use who you are to serve God. I know you have to figure out for yourself who you are and what your relationship with God looks like. As your mom I hope that all my “research” into who you are can help point you in the right direction.

The other night I read an article that made me think and very quickly after that, it made me cry, actually sob. The article was written by a mother telling the story of how she addressed her seven year old daughter telling her she thought she was fat. It was heart-breaking. Sometimes I wish I could absorb all the pain you are yet to experience in this world. I wish I could soak up all the mean, untrue things people will tell you. I wish I could go to school instead of you someday and punch kids in the face who hurt your feelings. I wish I could re-program all the damaging information coming your way about body image and who a woman should be. I think I feel this way more in regards to you than Braxton because I know how tough it is to be a girl out there. More than that I think I feel this way because I see what a sensitive, naive, sweet girl you are. And I love that. And I want to protect that-even if it means occasionally praying for the rapture.

I just want you to see yourself the way Daddy and I see you. Actually, I want you to see yourself the way God sees you. Hayleigh, you are just so incredibly beautiful. The essence of who you are brings tears to my eyes and swells my heart, because it is so gosh darn beautiful in a way that words my could never do justice to. Oh, how I pray that you can see that, not in a self-absorbed, egotistical way of course. I just want you to be secure and significant in Christ alone, based on who God is and who you are because of Him. I want to instill in you eyes that see past the surface, (which is pretty spectacular too, I must say), to the deep caverns at the core of you. I am writing this to you now, long before you may encounter image issues or people who may try to hurt you, because I feel so strongly about it. I want you to know that the words I am telling you in ten or twenty or fifty years from now were true from the time you were too young to understand their real meaning. I cannot predict, much less control your future. But I can pray for it. And I can do my best to fulfill what the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 “ Train up a child  in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Before you were born, Daddy and I read a wonderful parenting book that really expounded on that verse. It was  “ Parenting: from Surviving to Thriving” by Charles Swindoll. I should probably read it again. Through this book I gained a new understanding of what that verse really means. It is not a promise for a child’s salvation, but a general rule related to fostering who they are as a person. Swindoll talks about trying learn who your children are and raise them according to how God as made them, how they are “bent”. Through you I have learned even more about what that verse really means. I had kind of forgotten about some of the things I read in that book. But I have become so intrigued by and in love with who you are as a person that God used that to awaken in me a desire to preserve and foster the essence of you. Then it dawned on me that Proverbs 22:6 and Swindoll’s book were all telling me to do that anyway. Maybe I am a little dense and distracted. I don’t know exactly how to “train you up in the way you should go” but I am enjoying discovering more of how you are “bent” and I am praying for both you and me as you continue to grow- for me that I will have what it takes to do my part in training, loving, protecting and releasing you, and for you that you will follow “the way you should go”.  I love you so much it hurts Hayleigh. I know it is cliché, but maybe you can understand some day. I hope you do. I hope as you read this, whenever that time is, that you can sense the love and passion I have for who you are. I hope more than anything that you can really appreciate who God has made you to be. That would make you even more beautiful.


Couple Photoshoot

Peter and I got married young (and poor). We were 20 and 21 and so much in love. We were so excited to get married! I am so glad that we got married when we did. God’s plan for our lives has been full of surprises and blessings that we never would have anticipated and planned ourselves. We have been married just 4 1/2 years and those years have been so full of stuff that it almost seems like we have been married forever! By stuff I mean life. You know: babies, moving, job changes, money struggles, family issues, health issues, changing churches, losing friends, making friends. There has been a lot of happy moments and lots of painful, difficult moments as well. But through it all God has brought us a lot of opportunities for growth and joy. Sometimes I am still in awe of the fact that God gave me someone as wonderful as Peter to do life with.
Anyway, when we got married we didn’t spend money on a professional photographer. One of my parents’ friends took photos for us. It was an incredible gift that he gave us because he didn’t charge us anything except to print the pictures and he did the best he could! I can honestly say though that not getting a professional photographer is probably my biggest regret of life so far. I know this sounds kind of dramatic and shallow, but it is true. I just cherish memories so much. Beautiful pictures are gold to me, and you only have one wedding. I also feel like other things that I may have done wrong over the years have taught me things and are a big part of making me who I am now, so I really don’t regret much. With all that being said (wow, I can sure blab on and on!) we decided to get some nice professional pictures taken of just me and Peter! They obviously cannot replace wedding photos but I really wanted some nice ones of us in this stage of our lives that is often so consumed by our kids. Rachel Shipman from Rachel Ann Photography took them. She also did our family pictures this past fall. She is so amazing! I love her eye, her editing and her personality! Working with her was so fun. We will definitely be using her in the future! Here are a few a bunch of our favorite pictures from the day.

Peter&Emily-21 Peter&Emily-23
Peter&Emily-38 Peter&Emily-27
Peter&Emily-14 Peter&Emily-15

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