Thursday, December 26, 2013

Release

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a flight heading back home to Georgia from Australia. I had booked my return flight at the last minute with a cheap airline because I didn't want to sell both arms and legs to pay for the crazy expensive prices on the better airlines. At the end of the day, I made it from point A to point B, which I guess is the point.

Anyway, during the flight we encountered some turbulence. The pilot said that flying over Fiji is always like that - something about their weather I think he said. I was just trying to hold in my airline meal at the time, so I wasn't entirely paying attention. :)

After his announcement, I remember looking up and noticing that the "fasten seatbelts" sign wasn't lit up. I was surprised, especially because of just how bumpy that portion of the flight was. Parts of my flight (with a more expensive airline) coming to Sydney had been bumpy, and the "fasten seatbelts" sign had been lit up the whole time.

Then, I realized that this was one of those times where I had to rely on the pilot and his judgement of the situation. If he'd really thought we would need to fasten our seatbelts, he would have told us to fasten them. It's basic, I know. Then I realized something: he could see what I couldn't. He could see what was coming, at least to some extent, and determined that a seat belt wasn't necessary.

The more I pondered the whole seatbelt situation, the more I realized that it applies spiritually as well. Sometimes I think I cling to my figurative seat belt with a death grip, knowing that it will keep me "safe." But what is safe is not always right, at least not spiritually. If I'd stuck with what was safe, I would never have moved to a country where I didn't know anybody. I wouldn't have ever given a second thought to marrying a guy I met online and easily dismissed it. I wouldn't have moved cross country, while pregnant, purely based on a leading and without a job or house lined up.

And you know what? I would have seriously missed out on some of the best times of my life. I would have missed out on the joy of finding a new beginning. I would have missed out on healing. I would have missed out on the BEST seven years of my life - of knowing my wonderful hubby. I would have missed out on seeing God very specifically answer prayers and provide for our needs, even when it didn't come in the way I expected.

So sometimes that seat belt doesn't protect...it stands in the way of the things God wants you to do. He's looking ahead at the things that are coming - things that you cannot see - and He says, "No seat belt needed this time." He says, "Jump." And He promises to catch us.

Dusty Boxes

I was a little girl. Innocent. I shouldn't have known such pain, but I did. Not physical pain, but deep emotional pain. I think I could have dealt with the physical pain - at least that heals. But this pain, it lingers. Over and over again it cuts me to the core and I wonder how I will heal yet again. I wonder if I will heal.

Rejection. Disgust. Never good enough.

That's what I felt. It's what I still feel.

I used to think maybe it would get better. "Maybe he'll change," I told myself. Yet even as the words formed in my mind, I knew I didn't really believe them. It had been over 20 years and nothing had changed - why would it be different now? The pain went on, sometimes with new wounds on a daily basis. Inside, I was still a little girl, still trying to process how to stop the hurting, how to make things happy again. I wondered what I'd done wrong, in what way I hadn't measured up this time.

For most of my life, I thought I just wasn't trying hard enough. I thought maybe if I was perfect - if I got the best grades in school, if my teachers liked me, if I read my Bible a whole lot - maybe then, we would be happy. Maybe then, you would like me.

But it never came. I got the good grades, my teachers liked me, and I read my Bible faithfully. But still, my world rocked and caved. Still, that horrible pain came.

And so I learned to shut it down. I learned probably the worst technique of my life - I compartmentalized the pain. I put it in a box, taped it up, and shoved it into the darkest corners of my heart, leaving it there to gather dust until against my will it was ripped open again. I pretended it didn't exist. I pretended my reality didn't exist. It was the only way I could cope.

I learned how to make myself hard inside. I learned how to just numb myself to any of the words that were thrown at me. I pretended they bounced right off my steely heart. And in that moment, they did. But, my technique had a flaw - eventually, when I was alone in my room, those words would come tumbling back to me, and with them poured the tears. My whole body wracked in sobs as I wondered why - again - I wasn't enough.

Some days the only thing that got me through was knowing that the next day I would get up and go to school and I would have at least 6 hours to enjoy life, when I could laugh and not wonder if I was going to be criticized, when I could just be and know I was accepted for being me. I was loved.

I don't remember much about being a kid. Too much of it got packed away in those boxes, and to be honest, I don't want to unpack them. The pain is too great and the rejection too real. I can't relive that over again - I just can't. So for now, they sit and gather dust, and I'm ok with that...because in this moment, I know I am loved. I know I am accepted. I know I am enough.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There are days...

...when I feel like I can hardly breathe because I miss you so...

...when all I long for is just to hold your hand again

...when I look at pictures of us together and try to tell myself it won't be long

...when I desperately want to believe it won't be long til you're home, but it still feels like eternity

...when I don't want to just tell you about a moment that happened, I want you to be here to experience it with us

...when I get tired of explaining to people that yes, I'm married, even though some friends may have never met you

...when I'm tired of the waiting and the countdown and I just want our homecoming to be here

...when I want to laugh with you, cry with you, be with you.

Make no mistake - deployment is hard.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Worship in the Waiting

It's something that I was talking to someone about recently - a lesson I thought I'd learned. A lesson they were learning. A hard lesson. But of late, I'm re-learning. I have to worship in the waiting.

Right now, I'm waiting for my husband to come home. He's been gone about 8 months, and every one of them I have missed him more. The waiting isn't easy at all. Sometimes I get busy and the hours pass without me noticing...but make no mistake, I still miss him. I still want him by my side more than anything. I have my days when I just want to cry and fall apart - I'm human.

At the same time, I know God has purpose in this season. After all, why else would He have brought us to this? So, I have walked these eight months trying to keep that mindset. I have tried to look at each new week as an opportunity to further allow Him to fulfil His purpose in me. And, for the most part, it keeps me going when things get tough.

But lately I've gotten to think more and more about this next year. Next year is a great big unknown for us - another season of waiting. We don't know where we're moving. We don't know where our income is coming from. We don't know what timeframe we're moving. Pretty much, there's nothing we know about next year.

It's not easy. I am a planner. I like to have a roadmap for what's coming next and have the house picked, the job lined up, the dates worked out. I like to be prepared. God hasn't given me that life though. A few weekends ago, as I was reflecting on what I wanted, God showed me something. I wanted a mundane, even boring existence. I already knew that. But what He showed me was that He had traded my boring dreams and gave me adventure instead. He gave me much more than I ever wanted. He has taken me places I never thought I'd go. My life looks nothing like I'd planned...but it is so fulfilling. I am happy, and I know that I am happier than I ever would have been if my Plan A or Plan B had worked out.

Anyway, getting back to what I was saying... this next year scares me sometimes. I think that's only natural, I mean, it doesn't make any kind of sense. When I went to the retreat, I think a part of me was hoping that the heavens would open and God would say, "THIS is what I want you and Caleb to do and THIS is the place you will do it, and here's the moving date." (Why exactly did I think God would fit into my box, again? :) ) But He didn't. The retreat was amazing and I experienced God in a way I never have before, but there was no answer to my questions.

My Abba did give me some words at the retreat though. The big one was "faithful". I am so overwhelmed by that word. All that we have seen God do in the past 5 years, from providing grocery money in our mailbox to giving us a car when we had no income at all - how could I possibly doubt Him after seeing all that? But I was. At the retreat, I felt as though I gazed deeply into the eyes of my Father and all I could do was weep - weep at the stupidity of my unbelief in light of His great faithfulness.

And so, with the dawning of the new year comes another season of waiting - this time for direction, for finances, for timing for our move/s. And by His grace, and His power, even in this season of the unknown, I will worship.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sometimes

Some days, my day is extremely productive and I wrap up my day with my homework completed for the night, a tidy house, and a happy heart.

Sometimes, I get nothing done at all.

Today was one of those "sometimes".

Dishes piled all over my counter,
a half-completed lab assignment,
toys spread throughout the house,
clothes waiting to be put away,
laundry desperately needing to be done,
sheets that haven't been washed in I don't know how long
floors that seem to attract the leaves from outside, and
A never-ending pile of homework.

A pinch of reality. :)

But...I'm learning that when life gets crazy busy and everything starts to feel overwhelming and like "I don't know how to get all this done," the very thing I need to do is what makes no sense: stop. Breathe.

So, in the spirit of taking time to breathe,
I forgot the pile of dishes.
I left my sheets to be washed another day.
And I decided the laundry could wait til Selah went to bed.

Instead...
We shared some cookies and milk at Chik Fil A.
We played outside at home in the leaves.
We collected pine cones together.
We laughed when Honey licked Selah's fingers.
We watched Caleb reading Selah a story from the other side of the world.

And wow, it was refreshing. I'm learning that sometimes it's ok to stop and laugh and just revive for the work that lies ahead. The dishes and laundry and homework will still be there later. But these moments with my girl won't - and so I'm gonna enjoy them while I can.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Free

Chains.

Bondage.

Empty.

Alone.


As I look into your eyes, I see so much emptiness...so much sadness...so much hopelessness. You are searching, longing for more. You want peace. You want hope. You want to know freedom. You want healing for your scarred heart.

But you're scared. What will it cost? Will it be worth it?

Oh, that I could help you see that the trade-off is nothing in comparison to what you will receive. That emptiness you feel? Filled, to overflowing. That sadness? Replaced with the greatest joy you could know. That hopelessness? Changed into such hope and peace beyond your comprehension.

Dear one, HE is the rest you seek. HE is the joy you long for. HE is what you are craving. Won't you let Him set you free?

Freedom

Joy

Hope

A future


Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Not What I Wanted

Sometimes, I wish I was somebody else. 

Somebody with a normal life.

Somebody who lives in the same house for more than a year at a time.

Somebody who has a regular, stable income.

Somebody whose hair doesn't start to change color in their 20's.

Somebody who has a predictable, mundane life.


All of my life I had envisioned this picture perfect life - nice home, money in the bank, steady job. I never wanted luxury, just enough to meet our needs and have a little in the bank. I didn't imagine a big fancy home, just something we could call home and that could be a peaceful, restful place. My desire was not for much, just for enough.

Seven moves, five years...

Four different jobs...

Four states...

Six different houses...

With all of the twists and turns of  this life, sometimes I have struggled with the fact that nothing about my life looks the way I wanted it to. It's just not "normal".

Just recently I learned that next year we will be doing move #7 and #8. There was that little twinge of wishing for stable, but honestly, I had accepted both of those moves, especially since they were largely anticipated. It was only when I learned that there was the possibility of a move #9 that I started to panic a bit. THREE moves in one year? What was God thinking?

When I mentioned the moves to my mom-in-law, she said to me, "That's y'all's life." And I know that. But I still wanted to throw myself on the floor and kick and scream like a toddler, "no, no, no!!" I wanted to say, "It's not the life I wanted." I wanted God to give me something else.

But there's no return policy on life.

There are no exchanges.

There is no picture perfect.

But...

There is joy - fulfilling, abounding joy - joy that gets me through all of the unknown. As I walk through a very different season of my life right now, I cling to the knowledge that my hope and my joy can rest in One who has made Himself known to me. He alone can fill my heart with joy no matter the circumstances that surround me.

There is stability. That might be an oxymoron considering what I just wrote, but the truth is, my life is stable in its instability. I know that just about every year, and sometimes more than once a year, we're moving. I know that God takes us through seasons of no income at all, and times of good income. I know that just when I start to get comfortable, he takes me to a place that is out of my comfort zone. I know that He will put me in situations where He is my only constant, and I have to cling to Him.

It teaches me faith. I wish I could express to you just how weak I am in this area - how many times I wonder and question and ask "God, how?" In the times when there has been no money in the bank and no clue how the bills will be paid, it is hard - so very, very hard - to raise my eyes heavenward and trust in my Father's provision. If I have shown even the smallest glimmer of faith in these times, it is a tribute to my God and His work in me.

Right now, I am learning faith in letting go of my husband and entrusting him into God's care. I can't protect him, but He can. I cling to that truth. I am also learning to trust my Father when I can't see where He's leading me. The unknown is a scary place to be, especially when this A-type planner doesn't have a checklist for where we're heading next.

So no, God hasn't given me a picture-perfect life complete with a white picket fence and lovely flowers growing everywhere. He hasn't given me a "forever home." I don't have a clue where we're moving next year, and I don't know where our income is coming from. I don't know what job we're supposed to do next or what our life will look like in six months or a year. All I know is that He has promised to be with us through it all.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seven Years & God's Fingerprints

Seven years.

Two people, born on opposite sides of the world.

A young man, wondering when he would meet his bride.

A young woman, waiting for her husband.


God brings them together to meet online.

They fall in love through letters, emails, instant messaging, Skype, and phone calls.


Six years.

Boy meets girl in the Atlanta airport. Girl's heart skips a beat when she sees her love running towards her for the first time with a bouquet of roses in his hand.

He proposes, a month after she arrives. She says yes. (They forget to take engagement pictures together.)


They say goodbye once again...this time for 3 months as they attend school in separate states.

More letters, emails, Skype and phone calls, oftentimes using a borrowed cell phone since she did not have her own.

They reunite for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and spend lots of time growing together as a couple.


She is unexpectedly accepted into his school as a transfer student, when there were no anticipated openings for two years.


Five years.

They marry in a beautiful chapel in the Ozarks, with family and friends in attendance.



Month 1: they spend their wedding gift money on rent.

Months 2-6: he is unemployed, and she is not legally able to work.

Month 3: car breaks down.

Month 4: miraculously buy another car, totally debt-free. (God math is pretty amazing stuff!)

Month 6: He is given a wonderful temporary part-time job.

Month 9: He finds another part-time job to help supplement income since job #1 is ending soon.

Month 11: God tells him to quit his only job.


Four years.

God gives them a new job, paying significantly more than what he was making before.

The day they move in to their house, they discover that the water is turned off...and it's the weekend.


A few days later, the stove and refrigerator full of food go out.

Buckets filled at the neighbor's are carted in to use for water needs.

Their paycheck doesn't come in for four weeks.

They go without water for 3 weeks. When the water gets turned on, the hot water heater ends up being broken.

Three years.

They move to Alabama for flight school.


They go through infertility testing.

They decide to pursue embryo adoption.

Lots of fundraising ideas, crafts, and saving every penny towards adoption.

Excitement, knowing God is preparing to do something big.

Two years.

Finding out they are pregnant when the doctors said based on certain test results it was impossible that month.



Moving states twice during pregnancy - from Alabama to Georgia, then from Georgia to Kansas.

Moving in faith that God would be take care of them, with no promise of work.

Finding a landlord that would rent to them, with a house that perfectly fit the things that they had been led to pray for in a home.

Going six months with no income.

Looking for an OBGYN at 28 weeks along.

Living in a hotel for 2 weeks...and having their dog live in the car all that time because no pet units were available.



Moving into their new home a little before Christmas, and then discovering their furniture and all their belongings wouldn't arrive til the end of January.



Driving from Kansas to Georgia on her due date for a family funeral, and touring a local hospital "just in case".



Delivering a healthy baby girl (in Kansas) and getting to use a name they'd had picked out for almost 3 years before her birth.

Our Kansas girl :) Photography session was gifted to us - a big blessing since it was not something we could afford.


One year.
Facing deployment #1.

Lots of time away for additional training related to the deployment or career progression.

Moving again, this time back to Georgia after the job in Kansas ended.

Lots of good family memories made, both here and in Missouri.








These seven years have been kind of crazy, I have to admit. We lived in one home for two months, with our longest record so far being 15 months. We've done seven moves in five years of marriage, and have lived in four states in that time. Caleb has done five different jobs in five years, plus his military commitment. In many ways it has not been the "stable" life that I had always envisioned. But you know what? God has been so ever-present in each moment, in each place that He has taken us, and so it has been "just right."

In times of plenty, He has been faithful. 
In times of little or nothing, He has been faithful. (He has provided for us more times than I can count!) 

In hard times, in easy times...
In times when we have an idea where we're going next, and when we have no clue...
In times when we have money in the bank, and when we have none...
In times when my husband is in a war zone, and when he is safe beside me...
In times when I am resting in God, and when I am struggling...
In times when it's easy to smile, and when it is not...

In all of these times, my God is faithful to me. My circumstances may change, my environment may change, my feelings may change, but God is my ever-present Rock, the one that I can cling to in all of the change.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Too Much To Do

Again...all I can say is how grateful I am. This week has been kinda crazy busy, very overwhelming at times, and Selah has not been sleeping well for almost 2 weeks. BUT, I serve an incredible, mighty, loving God who cares about me.

Since beginning school, I have really tried to set aside Shabbat (Sabbath - Saturday) as a day of complete rest. I don't have housework scheduled for Saturdays, but up until now I've just done whatever. If I notice a job needing to be done, I'll do it. But, when I began school, I felt like I needed to set that day aside completely from homework and housework - not because I legalistically "can't" do anything on Shabbat, but because I knew I needed some dedicated time in my week that I knew I would just be able to breathe, relax, recharge for the week.

I've been doing this for the last two weekends, and it has been amazing! It is so nice to look at projects I really want to be working on throughout the week and know that they will not sit there forever. On Friday night, I love shutting all my school-related Word documents and internet tabs, knowing that I will not have to think about them until Sunday. I love to put away all the everyday things and know that Shabbat will be truly my day of rest.

This week, however, I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to "do" Shabbat the way I have been. There was so much homework this week. I'm not really sure why - I know I'm pushing myself to get ahead in classes and that's taking up some time, but it has felt like there was double the work this week than there was last week. I really hope it's not an indication of how the next 13 weeks are going to be;  time will tell! Anyway, I was kinda sad about it because I really do love to fully rest on Shabbat. Last night I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything that I wasn't sure how I was going to get everything done. So much to do.

As I went to bed I looked at a little verse I have in the bathroom and just meditated on these words "The LORD will give strength". And so He is. He is the only reason I've made it this far, and the only reason I'll make it through these very busy 13 weeks. This is too much for me in myself, so I must let Him take over and give me strength when I am not strong enough.

That huge, overwhelming pile of homework? Smaller than my God. :) That physical weakness due to lack of sleep? Nothing in comparison to His strength. He is good. He is God. He will take care of me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gifts in the Moment

Can I just say how *thankful* I am? This has been a rough week or so with sleep, and of course with sleeplessness, it becomes harder to function. Nerves are on edge, it's harder to get stuff done...and it doesn't help when school is getting into fast-paced mode.

On Monday night, I got all confused about what day it was, and I honestly started to think it was Friday night. I thought, "Wow, I'm glad it's Shabbat (Sabbath) tomorrow, because I sure need it!" There is something about services at Beth Yeshua that just make you stop and put your stresses and just plain ole' life aside and breathe. Breathe in more of God and less of me. And somewhere in that service, all of a sudden my problems don't feel so big and my God seems even bigger. I guess you could just sum all that up by saying every service at Beth Yeshua is one in which I encounter the presence of God.

Anyway, I have to admit, I was rather disappointed when I realized it was not Friday, but Monday. That meant it was another 5 full days before service at Beth Yeshua, and I was bummed. I was so thirsty spiritually - thirsty for fellowship, for community, for more of God.

Then I remembered - this week kicks off the fall feasts with Yom Teruah starting Wednesday night. I was excited...right until I looked at my homework load for the week. Ugh - too much to do, not enough time.

Insert God into my week...

Tuesday, my busiest day of the week, normally consists of me leaving home around 8.30am and not getting home til around 6pm. This Tuesday, everything on my schedule just got cancelled one way or another. Instead, I was able to talk to my hubby on the phone, spend time resting, got a good chunk of homework done, and Selah took a 4 hour nap. The whole day was such a gift and a reminder that God intimately cares about my needs and knew that I needed the time at home to get caught up.

Today, I got everything done that I needed to, my Biology lab for the week is getting underway, and Selah behaved SO well in all the different places we had to go this afternoon. We were able to spend some time with family over dinner as well. Tonight, I was able to participate in the service at Beth Yeshua from home via live streaming, since I didn't want to go out around Selah's bedtime. It was awesome.

It's been a tough week sleep-wise. But God has reminded me again and again that He has gifts in the moment - even when things are hard.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Fitness Journal Post #1

Fitness. The ultimate goal. The seemingly unreachable goal.

I have a problem. Or I should say, I had a problem. I was a wimp. If exercise got too hard, I just plain quit. Why make yourself go through pain and sweat? It wasn't fun. It wasn't enjoyable. So, I quit.

Here's the problem with my problem: it's not good for me. I know, incredibly basic, right? It's actually a bit more complicated than that. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - a condition that essentially means my hormones are out of wack and my ovaries don't do what they're supposed to. With that, I am at a significantly higher-than-average risk for the following conditions:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol and lipid abnormalities
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Severe liver inflammation
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
Fun list, huh? :/ The first time I saw this list, I just felt totally depressed. I felt like I was doomed or something. Also, one of the symptoms of PCOS is gaining weight inexplicably, and then having a really hard time losing it. So, the odds are against me. At the same time, I have a pretty strong motivation to be healthy and take care of my body. It's just not always easy.

There are so many do's and don't's when it comes to eating for PCOS. Don't eat anything made with white flour, anything sweet, corn, dairy (so some places say), soy. Eat hardly any salt, low carbs...and so the list went on. As I really investigated this back in 2011, it just felt unachievable. All of the things I was used to eating were now big no-no's. Even many fruits were not allowed. Add in the costs of eating this way, and it just made me more depressed. I wanted to be healthy, but it felt completely out of reach.

Fast forward to now. I am at the point right now where I just feel ready to make the changes. It is not going to be easy; there will be BIG changes with food and lifestyle for us/me. I love sweet things. I love carbs. There will be a lot to give up. But, I know I have to do this. I need to take care of my body the best way I can. Maybe I won't hit the magic number on the scale. Maybe I'll always be a little overweight. But, I have to do my best.

I am also learning with food (and life, really) that there has to be balance. So yes, I love sweet things. But just because something tastes good, doesn't mean it's good for me. Just because I really want some ice cream doesn't mean I should get some. I am learning self-restraint with food. It's really hard for me, but I am determined to win this battle.

So far, I've been working out at home with a military workout DVD about four times a week. When I started a few weeks back, I felt like I was about to die, and I wimped out multiple times. Today, I finished and only wimped out once right at the end. I am proud of myself. This hasn't come easy to me but I'm sticking with it. I also plan to add in one workout a week at a Crossfit gym with a friend. I am also going to potentially start going to a local Crossfit gym a few times a week (and phase out my at-home workouts) once I get into a rhythm with school.

On the food side, I am still trying to clear out my cupboards and freezer of "bad" foods, and then I plan to start changing our diet. I am also planning to do a lot of research on more specifics of what I can and can't eat, and also how to feed Selah with all of these changes. I expect it'll probably be a month or so before we are up to starting on the new way of eating. I am so excited to take better care of myself and eat healthy.

Anyway, I know this post doesn't really fit with the usual kind of stuff that I post, but I felt like it was important for me to have this "out there" to keep me accountable to my goals. If anyone has any low GI recipes that they've tried or other healthy recipes, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lessons

Tonight I just wanted to share a little bit about my journey surrounding this deployment and a little of what I'm learning. Bear with me if I'm a little disjointed - I am tired and have a lot of school stuff on my mind.

As we approached "6 months til see you later" last fall, it just became really hard for me to accept and deal with what was happening. I wrestled a lot with God at that time...a lot of tears were shed, feeling the lonely ache that would only grow stronger, and wondering why this had to happen. My husband had been gone so much in 2012, and while I knew deployment was a possibility long before that, I guess somewhere inside of me I was trying to deny that it would actually come. But, come it did...and with it came a whirlwind of emotions that I really didn't know how to handle.

One night in September as I faced another separation from my husband - this time for a month - I just wept, and if you know me, you know that I don't cry often. But that night, I couldn't stop the tears. What if something happened to him? How would I continue on with life as normal with half of my heart on the other side of the world? How would I be mama AND daddy to our little girl? Would she miss him? How would I deal with the incredibly suffocating feeling of loneliness when it was for a year instead of just a month?

So many questions.

Then, I set foot in a Christian bookstore - a random stop on a night when Selah & I went on a little date. The guy at the front of the store greeted me on my way in; it took all my strength to mumble back a "thank you" and not burst out sobbing. I felt so very alone, like no one really knew what I was going through or appreciated the sacrifice we were making. I kinda browsed around the front of the store, really just trying to focus on anything other than the overwhelming flood of emotions that I was feeling.

It was then that I first read these words:
{Today is consecrated to our Lord. Don't be sad, because the joy of ADONAI is your strength.}                                                                  Nehemiah 8:10
In that moment, I knew I wasn't alone. I knew God was with me. I knew He was weeping with me for the loneliness that I was feeling. And I knew, more than anything, that He would be my strength when I was not strong enough.

A few months later, we attended a pre-deployment event put together by an organization called Yellow Ribbon. Many different groups presented information over the course of two days, basically just trying to show us different resources available to us as we went through deployment. To be honest, I've already forgotten a lot of that info. But, one statement has stuck with me from that weekend:
"Deployment doesn't have to be a bad thing for your marriage."
Wow. Such a simple statement, but it really made me think. I knew our marriage was wonderful. I didn't fear that changing. I just feared the unknown. I feared the separation. I feared the war. I feared what it would be like to come back together as a couple with us having spent a whole year doing totally different things, apart.

Yet, in that moment, my Father reminded me that He brought us to this. He has been faithful to us through no income at all, a good income, a little income. He's been faithful when we've lived in nice homes and in very run-down ones. He's been faithful when our car ran great and when it broke down. He's been faithful when we've had no money in the bank and when we've had plenty. He has been constant amidst every change we have experienced, and He is worthy of my trust in this season too.

And so, I went into this deployment saying, "Father, I can't do this. I'm not strong enough. I need you. I desperately need you." I still had questions. I still had fears. But, I had found my Rock. And HE is the only way that I have gotten this far.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Little "Life" Update

I keep having all these random thoughts running through my head for a blog post, and since I've been way too busy to sit down and write a blog post for each idea, I figured I'd just mash all our little news tid-bits into this one post. :)

So, here's the latest happenings...

* I took Selah for allergy testing this week after she recently broke out pretty bad from our dog. The test was, of course, not exactly fun for Selah, but she did better than I expected (in part because they didn't do a blood test like her pediatrician had said they would). The test confirmed she is definitely allergic to dogs. Sad day. But, the allergist said that we can definitely keep Honey (our golden retriever), as long as she continues to stay outside.

Also, he mentioned a few other things...Selah is more at risk now for other allergies, including dust and mite allergies. Consequently, he said a house with no carpet would be best for her. Unfortunately, that is not an option, at least for now. (And, I don't know how I would do without carpet...I do not like wood/laminate floors! I may just have to deal with it though.) She is also more susceptible to asthma, so he recommended giving her the flu shot in the fall. :/ I definitely want to do more research in general about the allergy and then see where we go from here. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid the flu shot, but at the end of the day I want to do the best thing for Selah as well.

* We are now past the one third mark of this "season" apart. I am getting sooo excited about homecoming already!

* School starts Aug 19. I am excited about getting back into school, learning a bunch, and making some progress on my degree. I am nervous too though. It will be a big adjustment to go back to school after three years of "just" being at home. I have never done this with a toddler. How will I fit in the homework and studying? I just have some fears right now. But, I know we will make it work, and it will certainly help the rest of the year fly by!

* Random...but I sent my first care package today! :) I had sent a few while Caleb was in Texas, but this was my first official "overseas" one.

Ummmm...trying to think of all those other things I was gonna write. Lost 'em I guess. Til next time!

Monday, July 29, 2013

FAQS about This Season

Throughout this season, I have had many people ask me questions about various aspects of our military life, so I thought perhaps I should address them here. This post may be a little random, but bear with me.

When will you get to see your husband again?
We will get to see each other again when he gets home in the spring. The times we were able to visit in May (for 4 days) and July (for 7 days) were his "RnR" - aka the time the military gives servicemembers to spend with their families. Now we are into the long haul of waiting for him to get home.

Why didn't you move to Australia? or... Why didn't you stay in Australia longer on your recent trip?
I have gotten both questions more times than I can count. In short, I felt like it was crucial for Selah to have a little bit of stability in her life in the midst of a very big part of her life (Daddy) leaving for a long time. One of the reasons we made the move to Georgia in December was so that we could set up our house, and it really become our home, before Caleb left.

Selah did have a difficult time adjusting to this new house, and it took several weeks before she settled into a normal routine. I cannot even imagine how difficult it would be to take her around the world and try to set up somewhat of a home environment for about a year before turning around and bringing her back to the States. Additionally, I have a house full of stuff, a dog, etc. I feel very established here. Moving back to Australia would be really difficult with living out of a suitcase essentially and having most of our stuff across the world in storage.

As far as our trip Down Under, I decided three weeks would be a decent amount of time to see family - if only briefly in some cases - but still not be too much of a break from the norm for Selah. Also, I knew there was a slight chance of us getting to see Caleb at some point while he was in Texas, and I didn't want to be gone so long that I missed that opportunity. That's why we went in April - because I knew we definitely couldn't see Caleb that month. And...I had a ton of stuff going on all through the summer - Selah's birthday, family trip to the beach (with Caleb's fam), Yellow Ribbon event in July, school in August. Also, we are hopefully going back to Australia for a longer trip next year, once Caleb is home. In the end, as hard as it was to leave, I think 3 weeks was pretty perfect as far as getting to see family.

Can you go visit Caleb? or... Could you have moved with him?
No...he is in a war zone. Trust me, if I'd had the chance to go with him, I would have.

When does Caleb come home?
Sometime next spring. Please don't ask for specific dates - I am not able to give out that information. Besides, the actual date could change a bunch of times. If I say "soon", I'm not trying to be distant...I'm just trying to protect my husband and the unit by limiting what I share. The more that is shared, the more that can get back to the enemy and delay my hubby's homecoming. So please, understand that I will share what I can and I need you not to ask for specific details.

I don't know how you do it!
I don't either. I just wake up every day and tell God that I desperately need Him...because there is no way I can do this on my own.

I am a person who loves "normal", predictability, home. The military doesn't really fit any of those categories. So, God is stretching me, teaching me to rely on Him when I am weak (which is all the time) and ask Him for the grace to get through.

How are you going to keep yourself busy?
Have you met Selah Grace? :) She is one busy little girl. I am pretty sure if all I did for this whole season was keep up with Selah, I would well and truly have my hands full. But, I also have some other things keeping me busy as well, namely:

- Violin lessons. I am super excited that after 12 years of playing, I can finally get back to taking lessons! Haven't had a lesson in about 10 years.

- Tons of projects, including lots of organization, de-cluttering, healthy living/fitness, and photo projects. :) I hope to get a bunch of them completed before Caleb's return.

- College! I have access to some scholarship money through the military that I am only able to access for now (due to rank restrictions), so I feel like I should make use of it. I will be completing my Associates in Teaching through State Fair Community College (where I attended 2009-10) in Missouri. All my classes will be online. I have three classes this semester (Biology with Lab, Child Psychology and Technology for Teachers) and one next semester (Foundations of Education).  :)

- A Bible study with other military wives. This just came about last night, and I am super excited about the opportunity to hang out with some other believers who also happen to have experienced military life!

- Church. This really shouldn't be at the bottom of the list, because it's one of the most important. Anyway. I am enjoying getting involved in church as I am able with various activities and events, and am really loving the sense of community at Beth Yeshua. God has definitely placed me there for this season - the support is amazing!

- Lots of day to day "stuff" - both things I normally do and things Caleb would help with. My to-do list is never ending! I will let you know if I ever get bored. :)

Please let me know if there's anything I can do for you.
Obviously it's not a question, but this is something I've heard repeatedly. To be honest, I'm probably not going to call you at 3pm when my baby has been fussing all day long or my dishwasher stops running. For whatever reason the thought of calling on people makes me feel like I'm burdening them with my problems. What would mean the most to me is just having people offer to do things for me - ie. babysit, bring a meal, mow my yard. Of course, if you can't, don't feel bad. Prayers are wonderful too, and so appreciated. Getting a card in the mail knowing someone is thinking of you means a lot as well. I struggle too, and knowing that people have got my back - whether with food, practical acts of service, or in prayer - really can make a big difference.

Just a little note while I'm on the topic of offers to help. Please *don't* call my house phone in the afternoon/evening hours unless you have arranged this with me ahead of time. Selah naps in the afternoon and goes to bed by 7.30, and my home phone is obnoxiously loud...so for the sake of Selah's sleep and this mama's sanity, please arrange ahead of time if you want to call my house number. You can pretty much always reach me via text on my cell phone.

That's all I can think of for now.

{Any questions you have that I didn't answer? Post 'em below!}

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Simple Thank You

My God...

You are my rest.

You are my joy.

You are my healing.

You are my strength.

You are everything that I need.

You are the One who keeps me going.

You are the reason that I can sing in one of the hardest seasons of my life.


How I thank You, and praise You, for all that You are to me.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

How are you?

So how are you?

Well...(that's a deep subject) it's hard to say.

Here, in this moment, I'm doing fine. I'm happy...I just had a wonderful conversation with my love, my house is mostly clean, it's peaceful and quiet. A candle burns on my coffee table and the scent wafts through my house.

But, if you'd asked me 5-6 hours ago how I was doing, the answer would have been different. The answer would have been "Please give me some sanity and take my child." I wanted my hubby home. I wanted normal. I wanted a moment - just one - to myself. I wanted to be able to finish a project without a baby crying incessantly.

I wanted to be able to be Rebekah, wife to Caleb, perfectionist, the one with the ultra clean house, the mom who had it together.

But I wasn't. I didn't have it all together. I didn't feel like me. I felt like tired, frazzled, frustrated mama who most certainly does not have it all together. The toys scattered all over three rooms, the half completed project on the table, the multiple other projects awaiting my attention, the half completed laundry - it was as if each one was another brick laid on my back to carry.

But here's what I realized: it's not my burden to carry. I'm not strong enough to hold up each of these responsibilities. I'm weak. I can't do it. But my God can.

So if you're wondering how I'm doing with my hubby being away...the answer is, it depends on the day/time. Some days, I struggle a lot. I want him home. I miss him so much. I long for the day when he will be home. Other days, I remember that God has a purpose for each of us in this time, and with all my heart I want to fulfill it.

Regardless, I can get through the day because HE is strong for me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Friday

I don't really know where to begin. This has been weighing on me since Friday, and I still haven't figured out the exact word to describe how I'm feeling.

At Selah's one year doctor's appointment, the doctor and I discussed her weight a little. I knew she wanted Selah to gain more - we've been talking about it for several months. But, as far as I understood, it was always a "She's doing fine, I'd just like to see her a little chubbier" kind of conversation. And honestly, that's how the conversation seemed to go on Friday too. The doc recommended I start Selah on Pediasure just to help her get enough calories, and I told her we'd give it a shot. She gave me a WIC prescription in case we were eligible (I wasn't sure at the time) and I stuffed it in the diaper bag, figuring I'd check it out later.

Well, when I got home and looked at the prescription, I saw three words I had never even considered being applied to Selah:  "failure to thrive". Yeah, she's scrawny, and yeah, she hasn't tripled her birth weight yet...but I never honestly considered that there was something wrong with her weight. After all, she was hitting every developmental milestone right on time or early. So, the diagnosis came as a shock.

At first I think I kind of denied that she really had a problem. I told myself that the doc just wasn't taking into account her length (which is at the 75th percentile for her age). But when I took a look at the growth charts and saw just how low Selah fell - below the 5th percentile - I realized this was more than a doctor being paranoid.

Since starting solids, Selah has never really been a big eater. She would eat maybe 3oz of baby food at a meal and be perfectly ok with that. When she started eating 6oz at a meal at around the 9mo mark, I was absolutely floored. I guess I just always figured that she didn't have a big appetite and that she had a fast metabolism.

But in the last few months, it's gotten worse. At some meals she would eat 3-4 pieces of the meal and be totally done. It didn't matter what it was, she didn't want to eat. The past 2 weeks or so, she had days where we practically had to beg her to eat, even with things that were her favorites. Now, teething does play into that some, and her eating takes a HUGE nosedive any time she is teething. But still, for a toddler to be going maybe all day eating half a granola bar is not normal.

So, we have some kind of a feeding issue on our hands, and to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what to do or where to go from here. Pediasure is so incredibly expensive, and at the amounts the pediatrician wants her having daily, we would be spending almost $150 a month just on that, not even including food. I don't love the idea of giving her a sugary drink to bump up her weight. But what else do I do?

So, for now I am kind of fumbling my way along, trying to figure out what to do for Selah.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

I am behind...

I enthusiastically signed up for an online Bible study a few weeks ago, declaring to myself that I was not going to fall behind this time as is commonly my manner. This time, I will stay on top of it, I determined.

Yet here I am, and I'm behind.

I can't say it doesn't bother me. It does. I feel like it's not that hard, plenty of other people are keeping up to date on it - so why can't I? And, this is supposed to be a community-building study - a time when I can learn and grow spiritually in a community of military wives. I just know that there's more I could get out of this study if I was doing it at the same pace as everyone else.

But then I remember what God has been showing me of late: perfection isn't necessary. There is no panel of judges scoring me on whether I complete my Bible study on the assigned schedule. There's no laundry police giving me an F on my wifely report card for not having folded that load of laundry in the dryer. And there's no organization specialist who is going to inspect my junk room and sneer at the mess that seems to perpetually gather there.

What a relief.

And so, I picked up my Bible study last night, almost two weeks behind, and started to read. Over and over again, one theme resounded: you are weak; find your strength in God. I kind of took in the words, realizing that they're something I need to remember through this time separated from my love, but I don't think I grasped just how much God wanted me to hear them.

Then today at the Shabbat service, the music and Rabbi's message seemed to carry one theme: you can't do it alone - you need God. Reminder #2 of a lesson I obviously really need to hear.

And...then I came home, and thought I'd pick up a second Bible study I started recently (and was several days behind on). These words stood out:

"I might be able to pull it off for a little while, but eventually my limitations show up in the form of weakness, comparison, or plain ol’exhaustion. I drop this ball or lose that battle, and before long I throw my hands up,
certain my grown-up report card reads F, F, F.

If our God measures the Earth's waters in his hand, holds the earth's dust in a basket, and throws planets into the atmosphere all while attending to small details like designing butterfly wings, then He can handle my responsibilities. Yours too. He isn't scared off or overwhelmed by them. He isn't too busy to care. He is just waiting on us to call on Him.

The moment we do is the moment He saves."

So, I've decided I'm not so behind after all - I'm right on schedule for what God wants me to hear.

Abba, open my ears to the truth you would have me hear. Help me to speak less and listen to You more. I desperately need you. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I miss you...

I miss you.

I miss holding your hand on the way to church.

I miss rambling your ear off at random moments in the day.

I miss waking up to your handsome face on the pillow beside me.

I miss you stealing the blankets.

I miss being in your arms - the ultimate feeling of "home".

I miss the way you rub my shoulders when you're standing by me.

I miss you leaving our closet door open.

I miss doing your laundry.

I miss the buzz of your phone alarm going off in the morning.

It's crazy how much I miss you, and it's only been 4 days.

I don't know how I will make it through the next 361 days. But I do know this: I am so proud of you, love. I'll be waiting for you - no matter what.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

sanctuary

It's something I don't quite know how to explain. Yet somehow, each week, I feel the same way.  Saturday comes and goes...but it is not just a day to me any more. It is a day of worship - worship so very different from what I have ever known, worship that transcends lyrics or tunes or atmosphere.

I walk in, and I am empty. I am tired. I am broken. I am wondering  if I can make it through the coming week - 7 days that feel too big and overwhelming for me to handle. I am wondering whether my daughter will be "that" child that will disrupt the service.

But, I am  here.

I breathe in and take my seat.

While I sit I am overwhelmed by how great God is - not because of anything said by any one person, but because of how evident He is in their joy, their manner. And as I sit, I can't help but think that this is the way it is supposed to be.

Sanctuary. Peace. Joy. Conviction. Worship. All of these I find here, in this special place.

I walk in the door and I am weighed down by my week. But when I walk out, I am free.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dancing


I am so exhausted...Selah had a rough night last night and we have had a busy day today between going to Beth Yeshua this morning, lunch with new friends, and then spending some time with the fam celebrating DD/Mom's birthday.

Today wasn't easy - Selah only took two very brief naps and was very difficult during lunch and the afternoon, and I have really been missing my hubby. But, I found this quote recently that I am really trying to embrace in this time of separation: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." Sometimes it's easy for me to think, "When he gets home, it'll be easier" or "I can't wait for this time to be over so life can go back to normal" - essentially just longing for the norm, especially in those tough "single" parent moments. But, that quote reminds me of the absolute importance that I live in this moment. Life cannot stop because it is not picture perfect right now; it must and should go on. I will be sad at times, and that's ok. But I can't stop time for a year.

So, in the spirit of "dancing in the rain", today I am thankful for...
- Being near family. While I may not ask you to do a lot for me, I appreciate the things you do do for me, and checking in on me.

- The beautiful community at Beth Yeshua. Words cannot express the joy I feel when I am at the synagogue and sit under Rabbi's teaching. For the first time, I truly feel the freedom that God gives from legalism, sin, and the flesh.

- New friendships. I don't have any super close friends in the area, yet. But, I am excited as I begin getting to know people at where those friendships will lead.

- Our home. I am sure there will be things I don't love about this house. However, I am so grateful that God led us here for this time, and gave us this home. It is exactly what we need - not too big for me to handle, and yet sufficient for our needs as well.

- My wonderful husband. Words cannot express how very grateful I am for the gift God has given me in my hubby. He is exactly what I need and he brings so much joy into my life.

Friday, February 15, 2013

God of anger or love?


Since we moved, we have been attending a Messianic synagogue. Yes, I know that probably sounds like some kind of Old Testament group, or a cult or something. But in reality, it has been a beautiful experience. I won't go into all the details of what the synagogue is all about, except to say that it is a fully-functioning Church body, and in my humble opinion, it is church done the way God intended.

One of the things I love about the synagogue is that I truly feel like I have gotten to know who God is. It's not because of any one specific thing that's been said, it's just, I don't know - Rabbi Greg has a way of making the pieces of Scripture fit together in a way that just makes God make sense. When Rabbi speaks, I see the Old and New Testament as a symphony - working together to create something beautiful.

However, I have spent many years - almost my whole life - in Baptist circles. I will not dismiss all of the teaching I was given, for I believe much of it was on track. However, one teaching that I absolutely cannot stand that I have heard among some is that the God of the Old Testament was one of anger - a God who demanded a standard Israel couldn't meet and who showered them with curses. In contrast, the God of the New Testament - so these ones say - is a God of love, who bestows many blessings on us, and who does not hold curses over our heads any longer.

I am not going to get into all of the doctrinal issues behind those statements - it is not my desire to discuss doctrine here. But what I do want to point out is this: God Himself told us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He told us that He doesn't change. Therefore, there is something infinitely wrong with this teaching. Either God had just as much capacity for love in the Old Testament as in the New, or He is a liar. And since God cannot lie, I cannot accept this teaching as truth. The God of the Old Testament was NOT a God of anger or judgment. Did He get angry? Sure. But so did Jesus in the New Testament. And just as Jesus showed endless amounts of love in the New Testament, so too did God the Father repeatedly pour out His love to His people, Israel.

Sorry - kinda random post. But this is something I've been thinking about all week, and I really needed to get it out.