Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh, marriage...GAHHH!

When I came home from Uganda the last time, I had a plan.  I had a vision for my life.  Not interested in the whole husband thing...just wanted to be in the jungle somewhere bringing life and love to AIDS orphans.  Everything I did was devoted to that vision. 
Then...dun dun dun...I met Will.  Wrench, meet my plans.  Thanks!

He was amazing.  It took some time to truly believe it was happening.  But here I am, seven long years later, his wife :)  After a year or two, I realized that my previous vision was likely not going to happen.  I have mourned that loss for a LONG time.  Sometimes it feels like I gave up all of my dreams for this very different life, but, this is where I am.  Now what?  I have been saying "Now what?" for WAY too long.  Wife/motherhood has left me feeling like I don't have much to give.  Its just too much some days.  Too much monotony, too much failure, just plain ol' too much.

Lately, my world has been several things.  The first is, our incredible church did an amazing series called Sun Stand Still which left me asking the question, "Ok God, I have been waiting for a long time for a new vision...GIVE ME ONE DANGIT!!!!" Well, our small group is doing a more in depth study on the entire book, Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick.  Uh-mazing!  Half way thru the book i began to realize, "Oh my vision doesn't have to be saving lives, reaching thousands???  It could be...RIGHT WHERE I'M AT????"  Woah.  Fur-realz???  So I started doing some soul searching.  I started really digging deep in my heart.  What would it be like if I really called upon the strength of my God to be the wife, mother, daughter and friend that God is truly proud of.  My marriage, what if it were something everyone talked about.  "Wow, did you see Will and Amber, they ooze with love for each other!!!"  Which brings me back to the second thing that has really been rocking my world.  I guess I am at the place in my life where marriages all around start to struggle.  People are fighting (or not fighting) to hang on to their marriages.  People are getting divorced, are separated, and are experience extreme pain and emptiness in what should be the most intimate loving relationship in life.  Its hard.  Will and I feel it.  Its such a struggle every day for us.  Do we choose to keep fighting for this sacred relationship?  Do we have what it takes?  Are we ruining each other with our reckless words and selfish behavior?  For a lot of people, it seems like it is more about "Is this relationship still fun, worth it, something I FEEL like being apart of?"  In a conversation Will and I were having, we decided that we don't want those questions to be where we are at, EVER!!!  We want our questions to be, "What do we need to do next in order to keep us clinging to one another!??"  We committed our lives to each other UNTIL death.  That's huge.  How can we get any where, much less a place of wedded bliss (go ahead, roll your eyes, gag etc.) without taking that into account.  Forever.  Until the end of time. 

Now...getting from said realization to actual realty...Wheeelp...not sure how to get there just yet.  My prayer is that God would remind me of it everyday, in every way.  Remind me to be an example of Christ to my husband, my children, my friends...through the lonely times, the unfulfilled moments, the raging anger, the overwhelming life before me.  Talk about a work in progress...blah...I'm like a pile of dirt at this point...Good luck, God, you have got Your work cut out for you.  But I am up for it.  I want this more than I have ever wanted anything.

Today, I was the perfect example of a Proverbs 31 wife (my nose just grew like 10 feet!!!).  I complained, nagged, reamed, moped, name it, I probably either said it or texted it to Will.  I feel overwhelmed.  I have a lot of responsibility in our house and I just dumped and dumped and dumped on him.  So, along with blowing up his phone with incessant bitching, I thought I could solve all of our current issues with a list.  I made a list.  It was beautiful.  ELEVEN pages long.  I covered everything that needs to be done in our life/house.  Categorized it by daily/weekly/monthly tasks.  I listed house hold chores room by room.  ELEVEN pages people!!!!  I stacked it nicely and was prepared to show it to Will when he got home (from working incredibly hard all day long, providing for our family, and changing the lives of his patients).  Thinking, THIS will help him understand WHY I am overwhelmed (since the 9,564 text messages didn't???)  Well I stacked my (ELEVEN PAGED) list and placed it on the counter, and five minutes later, my five year old spilled a huge cup of water on it.  I burst into tears and freaked out on him (as he was trying to wring it out!!!).  I got towels and tried to dab it away.  I was furious. my heart I heard this...

How is your list working for you now Amber? Was that going to solve everything? Are you really in control?  THAT is what I think of your list!!

OUCH!!!  But still, I was ignoring it.  I called Will (who was a brave soul for answering his phone after all I had put him through so far in the day) blubbering like a total idiot.  "WAHHHH my list...friggin kid...ruined ELEVEN PAGES of perfection!!!"  Will calmly said, "do you think this might have deeper meaning?"  Grrr, gotta go!!!

Yeah, the truth is, instantly, I knew it had deeper meaning.  My life, when controlled by me, it is a horrible mess -something like that of eleven soggy, now inkless, papers- It has EVERYTHING to do with my attitude, my choices, followed by strength that can only come from God to create action and change.  Will could and may never ever let go of his irritating habits or sometimes insensitive behavior, and I should still be able to choose to love him, as he is, forever.  Without that, this can't work.  Without choosing everyday that God is the only One who can give me the strength to have a powerful, meaningful, marriage that is an example to the people around me, it will crumble in a heartbeat...

I had a lot of apologizing to do today.  To Will, for the painfully obvious, to Solomon for WAY over reacting...and to God, for forgetting far too often that He and only He is the Way to Life set apart...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Giant Slayer

They say, "Being a mom is the best, most rewarding job there is..." 


Because I mean, I'm sure it might be true, but its hard to really wrap my head around that.  I spend my days doing some really lame crap...refereeing fighting children, wiping butts, cleaning up crums from really random places, looking for teeny tiny lego men swords, watching more Bubble Guppies than any one person should ever have to.  That does not feel like the greatest job ever.  For me, a "dream job" would be elbow deep in someones chest cavity, stiching a heart valve back together.  But, that isn't wear I am.  I am a mom.  I have two fabulous kids, who crack me up, irritate the daylights out of me, and make me feel love in ways I never even knew were possible.  Its just I always go back to that "most rewarding" part.  How do you know?  You do your best, but its all out of your hands.  How many mothers look at their adult children and say "Look at was so rewarding."  I don't know if my own mother would say that...she probably would, but she is one of those crazy optimists.

Some days I just sit back and say, "God, is this REALLY what you have for me?  That's it?"  That sounds kind of awful but sometimes it just feels like my entire heart, soul and being has been swallowed up in wife/motherhood.  I used to think this was all I ever wanted...but now, I wonder, what will I ever do with my life once my kids are older??  I forget what it is like to have hobbies, or think of myself, or even remember that there is a "me" below the person I am now. 

Most of my friends finished college, were successful working women.  Why am I not one of them??

Pretty damaging frame of mind dont you think?

Comparing.  Limiting.  Maybe even paralyzing sometimes.

I have other friends who just know that this is IT for them.  They LOVE what they do.  They know they are RIGHT where God wants them.

That isn't me...I am not like that.  Why am I not one of them??

Comparing. Limiting. Maybe even paralyzing sometimes.

The curse of comparison is deadly.  First, it cuts you off at the knees.  Once you are sucked in, everyones lives are SO much more fulfilling, so much more successful, better in every it seems.  Second, you limit yourself from purpose, vision and an extraordinary life. Comparison robs us of our destiny.  The curse of comparison destroys what God's plan is for our lives.  Peoples blessings become our missed opportunity.  We feel defeated because we are constantly measuring ourselves against others.  The curse of comparison shrinks your world.

We are bombarded daily with lies. This is what it looks like to be beautiful.  This is what it looks like to be sucessful. Is what defines us what people see when they look at us?  Is what people say about us what we REALLY are?  Or are we measuring ourselves against the Word of God, what God's amazing, unique path for each of us is, and what He feels about us?

David is such an example of a Giant Slayer.  A warrior in every way.  Sure he slayed a nine foot tall giant with a stone.  But his road was full of overcoming things that were more threatening than even Goliath.  When David went to the battle field to check on his brothers for his father, he found a beast of a man mocking Davids God.  David was appalled.  He said "How can you let him talk like this about our God?!?!!  I wanna take this dude on!!!!"  So King Saul finally agrees to allow this boy, not old enough to be a soldier, to take this giant on.  BUT...Saul says, "You have to wear my armor.  THIS is how you fight."  So David puts on the armor.  Its was, of course, WAY too big.  So David says, "Whoa...this isn't me.  This isn't how I fight."  He doesn't get sucked in to worrying about how everyone else fights battles.  He doesn't feel like he can't be apart of what God has for him because he isn't like everyone around him.  So...he goes out.  Goliath starts attacking him, verbally.  He attacks who he is.  "You come to me, you are just a boy.  Look at the weapons you have, how pathetic."  David doesn't waiver.  He knows that God has magnificent things planned for him.  He doesn't compare himself once...he fights on.  He defeats Goliath.  Despite the cricism...he never once starts comparing himself to all of the other professional warriors around him.  He is perfectly unique...and he followed and trusted in Gods perfectly unique plan FOR HIM.

God has a promise for each of us.  It is up to us to allow Him to be in control. He wants to do AMAZING things through us.  No matter where we are.  He has us where we are for a reason...but if we are caught in a web of comparison, we cannot even see far enough to grasp onto the amazing plan that He is offering us...

What is defining our lives?  Is it what God says is possible?? Being true to yourself never works...because self cannot offer us what God can offer us.  Self's defintion of us can never ever compare to what God says we are.

The best, most rewarding job ever??? 

Its right at your finger tips...GRAB IT, from RIGHT where you are...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God Blessed The Broken Road...

This image is etched into my head. 

Two close friends, who love each other, dancing closely and sweetly, to Rascal Flatts Bless The Broken Road.

Will and I watch our friends, and both listened to the lyrics of the song that we have both heard a thousand times.  I, of course, teared up...and we just moved closer to each other and had one of those full circle moments together.

Our lives are far from "hard" in the grand scheme of things.  We were not kidnapped from our homes, held captive and raped for 18 years.  We were not forced into slavery as children.  We had fairly "blessed" lives with family who did their best.  We had lots of "things."  But there was a lot of brokenness, abuse, loneliness and pain.  I remember just feeling so alone for so long.  Everyone was moving on with their lives, but my heart ached. I remember hopelessly feeling like no one would just love me for me.  Offering myself to people in ways that I never ever should have, but just desperate, to know that I was worth something.  I was searching...through all the brokenness...

It always felt like such a mess...everything was a mess, and usually, it was always pointed out to me that it as MY fault. I remember being so little and just knowing how I was messing everything up.  If I could have just been quieter, better, happier, less emotional, it wouldn't be such a mess.  Oh, the pain, I can still tap into that feeling was almost unbearable.

I can look back now.  That broken broken led me right here, to where I am.  I am married to the love of my life.  He is the man who drives me crazier than anyone I have ever met, the man who stirs fires within me, the man who, no matter how scared and afraid I am, just calms me by holding me close.  How did I get here?  I needed him my whole life...he is every dream that I ever dared to dream.  He is all the things I wanted and things I never knew I needed.  He is here, because of all that brokenness.  I know I would have never found him down any other road.

Because of him, we have our two amazing kids, which are the completion to us.  We live in a beautiful house, in a beautiful place, surrounded by the most amazing friends we could ever wish for...things are far from perfect, but man, they are PERFECT for us.  We are still broken people, but this road that we are on, all of the incredible blessings we have....we couldn't have it unless God blessed the broken road, that led us right here...

And to those two beautiful dancing friends, we are so thankful that our road led us to you too...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Beautiful Exchange...

I was driving home tonight and sobbing in the car.  My "inner wound" was infected, if you will.  I have this deep resounding wound of "no one wants me."  I was "picking" at this wound.  Feeling scared, or sorry for myself I guess.  I look around and sometimes it just feels like everyone has their someone.  My friends have better friends, friends they carve out weekly time for, friends they want to be with, friends that they share secrets with...and I always feel like the loser, who is just too much of a pain to "fit in."  I feel like this a lot, so I get that this is primarily MY wound and MY insecurity. 

But....I just want "my person." 

It used to be my sister...but she has another "person" its just me.  Here's the kicker though...I always feel like a burden to people, so it is a rarity, that I would actually "lean" on a person, because I end up feeling so stupid or feeling like a burden.  Its a vicious cycle.  But I do just really want "my person."


Back to my driving sobfest...ha. I was listening to BLASTING my favorite Hillsong cd.  These words were filling my car...

You were near
Though I was distant
Disillusioned, I was lost and insecure
Still mercy fought
For my attention
You were waiting at the door
Then I let You in
Trading your life
For my offenses
For my redemption,
You carried all the blame
Breaking the curse
Of our condition
Perfection took our place
When only love could make a way
You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange
My burden erased
My life forgiven
There is nothing that could take this love away
My only desire
And sole ambition
Is to love You just the same
When only love could make a way
You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange
When only love could break these chains
You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange
Holy are You, God
Holy is Your name
With everything I've got
My heart will sing how I love You

You were near though I was distant disillusioned, I was lost and insecure.  Still, mercy fought for MY attention...You were/are waiting at the door. I going to answer?  Now?  For always?  He is "my person."  If I could only remember that.  I just have to choose Him.  Daily, hourly, or like most days, momentarily. 

When only LOVE, could break these chains....
and boy, these chains are something else.  In my foolishness, just when I get ahold of freedom, there I go, running back to shackle myself. I need to choose Love.  There are 1000 tiny choices per day, where I CAN choose love...imagine the transformation in the lives around me if I made 1000 teeny tiny little choose Love...instead of choosing me.  Whether that be anger, frustration, tone of voice, a would be transformational.

My only desire, and sole to love you just the same...
Imagine a life...where this were true.  So tomorrow, all mercies are new...I am vowing to try, with His strength, to choose Love...and my sole ambition, is to Love, the same as he Loves me...

I will let you know how it goes...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Photos, Politics and Power of Words

We will start off with a little photo dump...its been a long time since I have done one of these... very favorite day of the week.  Church.  I wish everyday were Sunday.  I completely <3 my seriously, completely!  We usually hit up Mad Mex afterward, which I love to do.  (Inset inner struggle music) BUUUT...imagine if we put that $40 a week toward something much more valuable. [Mental note:  talk to Will about this]  So here is Will and Shiloh waiting for food.  See, she doesn't care about anything other than shoving her face full of chips and guacamole, and she definitely isn't going to look up for a photo.
Mr. Cool and his mom.
Do we see this face????  Clearly, Im ANNOYING! :)
My kids = OBSESSED with this new(ish) show called Bubble Guppies.  The theme song - awful!!!  But this is what it does to them...kinda hilarious.
We aren't huge fans of meat in our house.  Let me rephrase that...anything with tendons, bones, gristle, and blood...its SUPER hard for me to eat, ok, I just can't do it...makes me hurl.  Skeeves me right out.  But we love the Quorn brand of meat substitutes.  Same taste, no gristle/blood/tendons:)  Anyhow, I found Quorn meatless crumbles and made the most delicious meatless loaf ever!!!!  Topped with Morningstar meatless was a meat haters meatless delight :)
This was an awesomely delish Indian dish.  Brown cilantro rice, Quorn chickenless breasts simmered in a spicy Bombay curry sauce and garlic naan bread.  Yum!
If you know Will, please let me point out, he is eating a donut.  Yeah...I said donut!
Look who went and potty trained herself.  Seriously, she put underwear on BY HERSELF almost 2 weeks ago and its been ALL HER since then.  Cute as a button huh?  All 22 lbs of her.  Um...she will be 2 in like 3 weeks...WHAT???????
Its Spring...and well, winter here in Pennsylvania SUCKS, so I am THRILLED.  I finally broke out the Rainbows was in the 70's yesterday AND my kids got sun burnt outside.  Awesomeness.  Bring on the heat baby!!!

Thats about it in the photo department.  Since I fed you all of these photos, may I rant a moment?  Facebook annoys me to no end these days and I'm seconds away from deleting my account (again).  My news feed is so full of President criticism over the budget crisis.  First and foremost, I would like to say, it is DISGUSTING to make our service men and woman go without a paycheck.  BUT, so many of those posts are saying things like "Hey Obama, stop going on vacation and pay the military."  Really?  Sounds pretty ridiculous.  Well...perhaps, if those same posts would have not been singing President Bush's praises not so long ago and would have, instead said "Stop wasting our money on a war you all lied about to get us into and get our military OUT OF THE ILLEGAL WARS you started!!!"  I would be less annoyed.  Instead it was "Oh he is such an amazing man of God and he is so awesome and yeah, bomb the middle east, blow it up for all I care."  Seriously????  We are in this budget crisis for a reason that had NOTHING to do with our current President.  Too bad there weren't more "Please pray for our President" posts right now, because, after all, he is just as flawed as the last President, and just as flawed as all of us....

I have a very special friend who I adore and admire in every possible way.  Her husband has been deployed WAY TOO MANY times and even missed the birth of one of his sons.  I am tearing up just thinking of how special this family is to it is ridiculous that he had to fight in a war that should have never been started.  AND that he now may not be getting paid???  Its awful...

Wouldn't it be nice if Americans were not so divided?  One side worships EVERYTHING their "people" do, no matter how disgusting and then when their "opposing team" does similar things, those same actions are just HORRIFIC!!!  Why can't we just bind together, admit our horrible wrongs and mend this broken country...

Pardon the soap box...Ive stepped down :)

Oh my mouth, it is a weapon sometimes (hence the last few paragraphs.  Im so sorry!)  I try really hard to tame my tongue.  Words are so so powerful.  They destroy and hurt and separate.  In the same breath they can heal and uplift and love.  It's been interesting for me since moving to a new place, making all new friends.  It's hard.  The friends I have in Southern California I grew up with.  I knew everything about them.  There was no questioning "Does she like me? Is she talking about me to other people?  Does she like me??"  A lot of it can go on and it is so damaging.  It cuts into what could be real, strong friendships.  I really have had to just let go of it all.  If people want to listen, they can listen.  But it really is only damaging their own lives.  It is so easy to get sucked in...SO EASY.  I have been guilty of it many many times.  But I don't want it any more.  My prayer is to take every word and thought captive and throw out the garbage, leave it, and never participate in it.  It has the power to destroy lives.  It is not a loss to lose someone who is constantly feeding people with dividing, hurtful words.  In the end, its not a friendship that I would want to, or will hold onto.  Its hurtful to be talked about.  I do not want to hurt people.  I am so thankful for the strong wonderful amazing beautiful friends that light up my life, uplift me, and care for me in ways I could never repay...

James 3 says this about the tongue...and it cuts...deep.  
1-2 Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. 3-5A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. 7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! 10-12 My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

At the end of my life, may it be said that I was trustworthy, giving, kind and a follower of Jesus...

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Will Praise You In This Storm...

I will praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands. 
You are who You are, no matter where I am...

Its hard to call my little tiny rain drop sized issues a storm, but sometimes, it feels stormy.  It is hard to feel defeated at the end of the day... Being a wife, mother and child of God is pretty much all I've got going on for me right now.  When I suck at that, I pretty much suck at life.  I know, I know, its a little dramatic.  But I should be able to get through the day with a Michelle Duggar voice shouldn't I?  I mean really?  I love that woman's tone of voice...but when your one year old poops in her underwear, its hard to keep up that sweet meek talk.  Its even worse when I am ALMOST there...its bath time!!!!  And today, I blew it.  Ugh.  Solomon totally calls me out on it to... "Great job yelling mommy...."  Thanks Mr. WAY TOO SMART FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!!!!!!!

I'm pretty transparent here, because it's my place to do that.  I have been clear that I have to truly fight to be strong enough to NOT listen to "the lies" ...and well sometimes I am just not that strong.  Today, I feel insecure.  Insecure in friendships, as a mother, in my marriage...just inadequate. 

This morning started off well.  It was sunny and 73 degrees.  I took these little beauties outside because, it is Pennsylvania, after all.  When the sun is out, you better run out there, as it is likely to be gone in about 7 seconds.  Just those few moments of staring at the sun gave me a lot of fuel for the rest of the day, err uhh, till bath time. ha. 

The storm came got dark and gloomy and windy.  The thunder reminded me that when I couldn't see the darkness, it was still there.  On top of really just fighting off the physical effects of the weather, it really is just about making the choice...  Do I let the "rain" choke me?  Do I listen to the "thunder" and let the fear overtake me? 

The storms are going to keep rolling in.  The kids are going to be annoying, and I might yell.  I am going to see a whale when I look in the mirror sometimes.  I am going to worry that my husband doesn't understand me.  I am going to fear that I am not a good enough friend....  But where do I go?  I can let the floods wash me away.  I do sometimes.  But I also could steadfastly stand out there, hands raised, knowing that He is who is, NO MATTER where I am, who I am, what I do. 

So I finished up the evening with some hardcore batman play with Solomon...and let him know, that yelling, its not nice...and I pray that my life will show him what I need to be doing...

I will praise you in the storm...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Little Creation of Mine

My little creations...who I love more than anything in the world...

 I long to hear them say they love me.  I need to know that they will listen to me when I speak to them.  I want to know that they love to spend time with me....that they can't live without me.

But what if they didn't?  What if they, with their actions, showed that I didn't exist to them?  What if they spent weeks at a time ignoring me?  What if they never told me that they loved me?  What if, every time I told them to do something, they thought they knew better?

Right now, Solomon has been having serious separation anxiety.  When I leave the room, he becomes hysterical.  He follows me WHERE EVER I GO.  He wants to sleep beside me.  He wants to sit in the bathroom with me while I shower.  He will not stay in his class at church.  He CLINGS to me.  He sobs when I am out of his sight.  For several months now, I didn't know what to do.  Why is he so desperate for my presence?  Why does he need to be at my feet every second of the day?  How come he panics when he cannot see me? 

I have a creator...who undoubtedly loves me more than I can imagine.  I wonder how He feels when with my actions, I deny His existence.  I wonder how deeply I hurt Him when I spend weeks ignoring Him?  I wonder the pain that I inflict on my Loving God by going so long without telling Him I love him.  I wonder why he continues to pursue me when so many times, He gives me direction, but I do something completely opposite, because I think I know better.

What if I became like a child?  Like my child?  What if I became hysterical when I was not at the feet of my God?  What if I slept beside Him?  What if I didn't go anywhere outside of His presence?  What if I sobbed when I stepped out of His sight?  What if I clung to Him and panicked at the thought of being away from Him?  Shouldn't this be where I am daily? 

Truth be told, outside of His presence, I am lost.  Outside of Him, I am a broken disaster.  Outside of Him, I do not know kindness or love.  Outside of Him, it is dark and empty...but I find myself there so often...drifting.  Forgetting how much I need Him.  Forgetting that clinging to Him is my only salvation...salvation, not because of anything that I can do, but a salvation that is ONLY Him.  Saving me in my deepest darkest places.  Giving me life that, without it, I could only know death.

This truth, this life, my Great Mighty Merciful Savior has given me freely.  I am His. 

So I shout out Your name, and from the rooftops I proclaim, that I am Yours.  All that I am, I place into your loving hands, and I am Yours...

I am Yours.

**Photo Credit