Thursday, September 19, 2013

A birthday tattoo...

Tomorrow I turn 35.  To many this represents just another year older.  To me as a teenager this represented a big year!  The year I could get my ears double pierced!  :)  See my Dad had told me when I was a teenager that if I wanted to get my ears double pierced I would need to wait until I was 35.  I know he was just saying a "dad thing" and teasing me.  I always told him when I turned 35 I would go get my ears double pierced.  As an adult he changed it and says it's up to me now, and I could do it if I wanted to.  But I decided to wait just for the fun of it. 

So as the big 35 began to creep upon me the last few months, I started to evaluate my big statement that "When I turn 35 I am going to get my ears double pierced."  Being a busy mom that sometimes doesn't even find time to put earrings in her single pierced holes, I began to wonder about the idea of having to deal with two holes that needed earrings, and not just one.  When I was a teenager I envisioned hoops and then studs in the 2nd hole - I thought it looked so cool. 

It's funny now that tomorrow if I wanted based on things spoken so long ago, that I could walk into Claire's at anytime I wanted and get my ears double pierced.  Now that I am standing at the doorstep, I am okay with maybe not.  Who knows - I am open to it still, but it's not something I desperately wanted to do like when I was a teenager. 

So then I started thinking, what is something else I could do - equivalent to doing something a bit out of character for me.  So I began thinking about a tattoo, and what would I want it to say, how would it represent me?  If I could put my life story into one word, what would it say? 
I knew right away what I would put. 


Because Hope is something God has taught me along the life journey.  Hope In Jesus is the main thread that runs deep throughout my life.  Hope in Him when I struggled with depression as a young teenager.  Hope in Him when I knew Nick and I were someday going to get married, but in the midst of waiting 6 years, Hope stayed with me. 
Hope that when we got married, that we would have a family.  Hope that when we didn't get pregnant that maybe we would have a family differently than planned.  Hope that when we started the adoption process, that it would end with a baby in my arms.  Hope that when we started the adoption process again, that we would get another baby in our family.  Hope that when we tried Invitro that maybe I would experience pregnancy. 

What is odd about the list that I just wrote, is that all those things are great things - but as I walked through them I always relearned again and again that hope is not based on circumstances - it is based on hoping in God who knows better than I do, and even if I didn't get these things that I wanted, that I would be okay, because I always have Him. 

Hope is something weaved into my soul.  And it is something I have been struggling with not having as much of this last year. 

It's easy to lose Hope when you start focusing on the negative circumstances - like the hard to understand tragedies of the world, or ones that hit close to home, hearing the news of a cousin who committed suicide, watching a friend's marriage break a part and not understanding why it didn't get fixed, going day to day in the same routine of caring for my little ones and questioning am I really showing them Christ's love?  Or am I messing up their lives when I yell or say hurtful things I really don't mean?  And then personal hormone imbalance struggles of feeling so discouraged and depressed where it's hard to keep going...

Again, I am placing my lack of hope on the wrong thing - and so I battle back to find the one true thing I know to get me through days.  Placing my Hope in Christ.  When I come back to that place I know that's what I can stand on.  That this world is NOT eternal, and my life here one day will end...

I watch my little 87 year old Japanese grandma care for my grandpa, after he had a heart attack the day before Easter this year.  The hard work she spends each day helping him get what he needs for basic functions from eating to cleaning to getting stuck in a position that he can't get out of... it just shows me that getting old is not going to be easy.  It's probably going to be one of the hardest journeys to end my life here on earth.  For someone like myself who does not like the idea of being a burden to someone else or having to depend on others, it will be very hard for me someday.  Will I have the stamina to keep going to the end? 

HOPE.  It's what I will need to carry with me for tomorrow, and for as many tomorrows as I am given.  HOPE knowing that someday at the end of this life, that I might hear those promised words in Matthew 25:23 "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful over a little, now I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your Master."  To enter into His joy someday - my heart is thrilled with that thought. 

So every time I look at my wrist I will remember His faithfulness He has shown me in times that I hoped through hard circumstances - and I will keep remembering to Hope in Him for the future times to come.  When I lift my hands to sing and praise Him with Hope at church, or when I use my hand to pray for someone and have Hope for them in the trials they are going through.  We all need that reminder to Hope.  But Hope is nothing with out Christ. 

So that is the story that I want my tattoo to be able to share as I walk through this life.  And my prayer for you is this:

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May you find His hope in your life too! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our first few weeks at a new school, reflection from the mom

Josiah and Ava just started up at their new school two weeks ago.  And honestly, for Josiah and Ava it went smoother than I could have hoped.  Josiah's first day was comprised of a full day of school, a soccer practice at the school for their team, and then a soccer practice with Nick for the rec team.  I was wondering how he would handle the full day, and expected him to come home wiped out.  When he walked through the door at 7:15 that evening, he was full of energy - partly due to the mint blizzard from Dairy Queen that Nick had filled him up with.  But he was bubbling over with excitement from the day.  He said in a joking voice "I didn't enjoy school at all!"  with the "At" and the "All" exaggerated out to the fullest.  He had met a friend.  And apparently half his class was new to the school as well, so he was among kids that were also adjusting to the new school.
Ava was beaming when I picked her up from carline earlier that day.  Her favorite subject was recess... which she got three recesses that day.  She was making some friends and having a blast.  No surprise for Ava.  She is a social bug that thrives on being with other people in group settings, so she has adjusted very well as we anticipated.  

What I didn't see fully coming was my personal adjustments.  I knew that certain things would be difficult for me, but I didn't recognize how difficult until I started living out our school days.  
Carlines.  Walking your kids into a school that I don't recognize very many faces.  Just leaving them there, without much interaction with anyone else.  This has been difficult for me.  
Coming from a school where I knew a lot of the families, and where I could talk with teachers for a few minutes before class began, and sit in chapel time with my children, this was the biggest sacrifice for me.  The dynamics at the old school of that teacher parent partnership where it was encouraged to have relationships with the teachers is something I will always be grateful that I got to experience.  And it's something I miss now.  

It's just weird - dropping my kids off and leaving them...  I don't even know where I fit with it all.  I feel pretty lost amongst the crowds of parents and teachers and children bustling about to start the school day.  It even feels a bit lonely...  I have had several times leaving the school from different situations and coming home and crying for a bit...
But then I remembered my prayer that God had given me for my children.  That my children would place their identity in Christ and not in their school.  And I realized that was what I had done and what I was starting to try to do.  My identity is not in who I am, where my children go to school, what I do at the school... it's in Jesus, and that He chose me to be His.  Schools change, churches change, life circumstances change, but He never changes.  And He wants me to rest in that identity.  

At first I thought I was going to jump in full force into volunteering at the school getting to know everyone and helping any way that I could.  But as I look at my two littlest ones, and see the needs they still have at home with me, I am beginning to see my role defined for this year.  My twins are at part time preschool, and then I have three days home with them.  God has been impressing on both my heart and Nick that the next two years is my time to pour into the twins before they start full time school up.  And seeing Josiah and Ava adjusting so well is reassuring to me - He is taking care of them when I am not there.  Which means this mama has to let go a bit more - and trust and surrender them into the care of others each day...  and Pray for them.  

I think I had hoped for more times of rest but I have not reached that yet...
Sometimes the days seem to drag on, and other times they go by too fast.  And I keep getting reminded of my life long lesson - that there will be struggles in all seasons of life. There is no striving for one season feeling like I have arrived as a mom - because then there will be other problems waiting for me there.  It is all keeping me at a place of having to learn surrender, not to be selfish, and to be grateful where I am at this day.  To Love God, To Love My Family, To Love all those that He brings into moments of my Life.  Sometimes it is so hard in the midst of it all to remember the stories of His faithfulness in my life. That is what I have been striving and fighting to do - to not forget what He has done, and remember He will be faithful in future circumstances - good and bad.  Maybe not the way I had planned, but always so much better than I could have pictured in the end.  It's a hard lesson to learn - but one worth fighting for.  

In closing I am going to post some pictures from my kids first day of school - because they are pretty cute!  They are growing up though, faster than I am ready for at times - have to be grateful for every day I have with them!