Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hectic Seasons

This is a follow-up from my last post.

The second thing I am reminded of during hectic seasons of life is this simple verse:

Psalm 3:5 - I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.

I remember reading this verse in the middle of the night once when I was up feeding Jack during his newborn days. The first few months of Jack's life was the most difficult season of my life to date. My father passed away just 6 weeks before Jack was born, and my family was drowning in a sea of grief during those weeks preceding Jack's birth. I was up almost every night replaying the horrible events of the night my father passed away. By the time Jack arrived, I don't think I had slept 2 hours straight since my dad's death, and now I had a newborn to throw in the mix. It seemed as if I was awakened continually from either nightmares or a baby crying that needed to be fed. I got to such a low place with grief, lack of sleep, and postpartum blues that I remember begging God to show me that He cared about what I was going through and He had not abandoned me. As I sat there in the middle of the night, I remember praying, "God if I do not hear from you tonight, I am not going to make it through this. Please speak to me." And it was at 2am that night that I read this verse in Psalms:

I lie down and sleep I wake again because he Lord sustains me.

In that moment the Lord spoke to me and said, "Holly, if you wake because of a nightmare, a regret about your dad, or a crying baby, I will sustain you. I will carry you through this season. If you only sleep 2 hours tonight, I will sustain you tomorrow. It is my promise to you. If i wake you, I will sustain you. And He did. It was the first time in months I had felt the Lord speak to me and the first time I truly believed He would be faithful to do as He promised. For the first time in a VERY LONG TIME, I had hope and joy. Hope that I would make it through this season, and great joy because I knew I had heard from the Lord and I knew He did care about what I was going through.

Here I am two and a half years later, finding myself claiming that same promise from Him in the crazy, frustrating nights of the newborn stage once again. But this time, I don't feel hopeless. Because I know my God and I know He cares about me and he will sustain me, no matter what.

Guys, if we wake to face another day we can be sure that He will carry us through.

A simple, but much needed word in my life. Hope it encourages you.


What about you? What valuable lesson(s) has the Lord taught you in some of the most hectic/difficult seasons of your life?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Take What I Can Get

Many times when I experience a night like the one I just posted about, I find myself getting upset with God. "God, You know I want to be up at 6am to start my day off in your presence. I want to spend time with you before I start running around doing the tasks that are screaming for my attention. Why do you give me such long, sleepless nights? Why, God, when I do get up at 6am to be alone with You, do you let Jack wake up at 6:05? Especially Jack. You know he wakes up talking a mile a minute. Why not at least give me Max, who takes an hour or two to wake before he starts talking. At least then I could still spend some time with You."

As I battle these feelings of frustration, I am reminded of two things. One is a nugget of wisdom from a very wise friend, the other a word from God. My friend once told me that I need to learn to live by the "Take what I can get" motto. I need to remind myself that God knows my heart and He knows my desire to spend time with Him. He also knows when a child will wake or when they will have sleepless nights. He knows when the demands of little ones are so much that I go the whole day without getting a break to pee, nevertheless spend time alone with Him. He not only knows this, but He is in control of this. I have learned that I need to let go of my prefabricated idea of what a perfect morning looks like and learn to find joy in "taking what I can get" during this season of life. The "perfect" morning for me will always start with a short jog(currently, my training schedule has me running to the mailbox and back :) followed by a cup of coffee and some quiet time with just me and the Lord where I don't have to get up until I hear a fresh word from Him. Of course, in my perfect morning, all of this occurs while the rest of the house is still sleeping. Although this is ideal, I have learned that if I can't get that, it doesn't mean my day is ruined or that God cannot speak to me today. I have had to "take what I can get" and learn to hear from God in less than perfect scenarios. I can hear from God with a child in my lap, or I can pray with Curious George playing in the background. Is it perfect?- NO. But some days it is what I get-- and I'll take it.

This "Take what I can get" motto has taught me to learn to hear Him amidst the chaos, for it is in the chaos that I need Him most.

I know I said two things, but this post is already too long and I've run out of time. I'll share the other tomorrow :).

One Night in the Brown House

7:35-Jack falls asleep just as we are about to start our Family movie night.
7:45- Jack to bed. Annie fed and put to bed.
8:00-Family movie time with Max (We are watching the Wizard of OZ).
10:15- Max to bed.
10:25-Max crying saying he is scared (of course he is, there were mean witches and freaky looking flying monkeys in that movie-I did not remember it being that scary). Pray with Max. Say our "scared verse" together--God is my helper, I will not be afraid.
10:30-Max back to bed.
10:31- Chris to bed.
10:32-Chris asleep:)
10:37-Annie awake.
11:30- Annie fed and back to bed. Check on boys--both sleeping.
11:55-Climb into my bed. Determine to keep resolution to be up at 6am.
3:35-Annie awake (this is the longest she has ever slept at one time!). Changed and fed. Has a hard time falling asleep again.
4:35-Annie finally back to bed.
4:36-Start to climb into my bed--find Jack in bed next to Chris.
4:38-Jack back to his own bed.
4:40-Climb into my bed.
4:41-Realize I am lying on wet sheets (NO JACK, did you seriously PEE IN MY BED in the 20 minutes you were in here?).
4:43- Change my pajamas. Wake Chris to help change the sheets.
4:48-Chris back to bed. Chris asleep:). Go change Jack's diaper. Realize 6am is coming awfully fast, but stay determined to stick to new resolution.
4:50-Climb into my bed.
4:57-Annie crying. Begin praying Chris will get up and take care of her.
5:04-Annie still crying. Chris gets up to get her (with a little nudge of course:).
5:20- Annie still crying with Chris. Contemplate getting up and either helping or taking her so Chris can rest. Decide instead to pray for patience for Chris.
5:29-Ahhh--Peace and quiet. Attempt to fall asleep.
5:45-Chris in room. Gives me Annie and says he has to leave for the gym.
5:47-Pray--Tell God I need to cancel my resolution to be up by 6am to exercise and pray. Ask Him to help me make time later in the day. Determine I will start the early morning thing tomorrow.
6:00-Annie finally asleep in my arms. Too tired to get up and put her in her own bed. Decide to let her stay in my arms while we both sleep.
7:00-Hear both boys awake and in the pantry digging for juice boxes-try to psych myself into getting up. Wait-- Hear Chris' voice. SWEET--he will keep an eye on them while I sleep a few more minutes.
7:45-Hear boys playing, but no Chris--Decide that he must have gone to work.
7:46-Get up to check on boys. Find Chris sound to sleep on living room floor.

WHAT A NIGHT!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family Visit Part II

I have to brag on Chris a little--I know, I usually spare you from the mushy stuff. But on Sunday afternoon, Chris watched all the kids so my mom, Melanie, and I could have a little "girl time" before they headed back to Charlotte on Monday. After a long day at church, where I knew Chris was beyond exhausted (in a good way), we literally pulled in the driveway and dropped all the kids off with him to take care of for the rest of the day. He acted (NOTE TO HUSBANDS: Even when you don't feel like it, it goes a long way with your spouse if you just fake it and don't make her feel bad) like he was ready to take on the world with the kids. It was great. His attitude allowed us girls to drive away without a care in the world! And we had a blast--we went to the mall, to a salon, out to coffee, to a few decorating stores, to dinner, and out to coffee again. We did not get home until after 10:00 pm. We were out all day, without one phone call from home with screaming kids in the background. The only thing I did receive from home, was this text from Chris: Please do not cut the opportunity short...take as long as possible and do it in style..you deserve it!!!

Isn't that sweet? A BIG MISTAKE, but very, very sweet.

Thanks, Honey, for a great day with my mom and sister--- I am sure the bank account will recover soon :).

Family Visit

Sorry about the long break in posting. I told myself if I started a blog, I would be very purposeful to post regularly. I blew it this past week, but this is a new week, and I promise to do better.

My mom, my sister, and 2 of my sisters kids came to visit us this past weekend. I had so much fun just hanging with family, and the boys loved every minute of playing with their cousins. When we lived in Charlotte, Max and Jack spent time with their cousins almost every day, so as you can imagine, it has been quite an adjustment for all of us to go a couple of months without seeing each other. I have to say, the hardest part for me about moving away from family has been this fear that my kids will not be close to their cousins, my mom, or the rest of my family. I really, really struggle with this. I want their cousins to be their best friends and my family to always be a part of their everyday lives. I struggle to trust God that He will make this happen despite the miles between us. A common prayer of mine is, "God, I know I will be OK, but will my boys? They miss my family so bad, what can I do to help them? Will you promise me they will be OK and they will still be close to everyone?"

I have a hard time trusting that He is going to meet their needs too-- and that sometimes He will do that completely independent of Chris and I. As a mom, I always feel like it is up to me to take care of EVERYTHING for them. God is teaching me otherwise. I need to walk in faith that God is not just in control of my circumstances, but He also is in control of theirs--not me. He knows, and even orchestrates for my children's good, how Chris and I's decisions will affect my children. Unbelievably, He had all this figured out and planned before He called us to move. I know that He will use the steps He calls us as parents to take to better our children. I know all this to be true, but it is hard to believe and walk fearlessly in it at times (being postpartum is definitely not helping with this! :)

Regardless, as soon as they drove up (My sister will not fly--absolutely will not. So she drove all the way down here --12 hours, 30 weeks pregnant, and 2 kids! I am buying her Beth Moore's Breaking Free study in hopes that she will read it and at least consider flying next time:) in our driveway and jumped out of the car to greet my anxiously awaiting boys, it was like no time was lost. They were hugging and jumping and talking a mile a minute-- all of them at the same time. Within minutes, Luke and Max were fighting about something--just like before :). It made me laugh and cry at the same time --it was awesome! I actually didn't care at all when they fought this weekend because I felt the Lord telling me in those moments, "See, Holly, they are still just as close as ever, and I will make a way for them to stay close. I promised that I will supply all your needs in a sunscorched land (I consider South Florida a sunscorched land), and I will supply your children's needs too-- just trust Me. I know they need family. I will make a way."


Dear Lord, Help me to trust you and rest in your promises. Thank you for a great weekend wih family and for your reassurance that you are in control. Thank you for being faithful to meet my needs and my children's needs.



Here are a few pics from our weekend:









Annie did not get put down for one minute this weekend!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Roommates

Since Annie has been born, we have moved the boys into a room together (we have a 3 bedroom house). I love that my boys are sharing a room. I have so many great childhood memories of sharing a room with my sister, Kristi. As young girls, we would fall asleep every night talking about all life's woes from one girl to another. Bedtime was a great bonding time for us. Because of all the great memories I have, Chris and I try to stay out of the boys room once we have tucked them in (unless we here the infamous, "I'm hurt" cry coming from behind the door). We figure that it is a bonding time for them, and great memories will be made as they talk themselves to sleep each night. Well, I forgot to figure in the fact that boys don't talk. They climb and jump and destroy until they crash. Last night, for example, we put the boys to bed at 8:30, and at about 10:30 I here this crazy amount of ruckus coming from their room.


Chris goes to check on the boys, peeks quietly in their room, and then runs back to our room for the camera. Here is the clip of the video he brings to show me.



video


The funny thing is, Chris records this, and then as he is leaving the room, I hear him say, "Alright boys, just be careful and you can play for awhile longer. You are being good boys playing together without fighting." (Remember it is 10:30 pm!!)


We will definitely never win parents of the year-- thanks to Chris :).


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Like mother, like daughter

Thank you to everyone who has commented and celebrated with us as we welcomed Annie into this world. She is doing great, and Chris and I are learning just as fast as we can how to do this parenting thing with three little ones!


As I was looking through all the pictures of Annie's birth, I found these pics which really made me laugh. It is definitely true that some things never change!


OK, here is a picture of me leaving for the hospital for Annie's induction. My mom gave me the shirt I am wearing, and in case you can't read it- I took a picture of just the shirt yesterday.






Here is what I put on Baby Annie 2 days later to wear home from the hospital:


Like mother, like daughter :)

Poor Annie, I hope she has our same sense of humor, or else she's doomed!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

MORE PICS OF ANNIE

Enjoy!!

By the way, I feel great and am having a blast. I consider this time in the hospital like vacation--resting in a quiet room with my precious baby girl who doesn't argue with me, try to take my food, or drink my drinks!! This is awesome :).













Monday, July 7, 2008

Family of Five!

Today we celebrate the birth of our little girl, Annie Rebecca! Since I get the platform today, I want to take the opportunity to express to my bride how proud I am of her!

Holly, you are amazing and I am so proud to be your husband! As a family of five now we are poised and ready to .......................................... well let's just focus on sleeping through the night soon! Annie measured at 18.5 inches and 6 pounds-14 ounces. She has a head full of black hair and looks just like........................................................ well, a baby. I have heard all the stories about how little girls wrap their daddy's around their fingers and I can not wait - I have no shame. These are some of the pictures so far. Holly hopes to update more details tomorrow. Hey, any of you have any advice for me as a Dad who is venturing into the "Little Princess" world?




Friday, July 4, 2008

Willing to Sink

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

One of the hardest lessons the Lord has taught me (and is still teaching me!) as a wife is that sometimes the most empowering thing I can do for my husband is to be willing to sink. For so long in the early years of our marriage, I lived with the attitude of, "I know we are on this boat together, Babe, but if you do anything to make us start sinking, I am jumping ship." By jumping ship, I didn't mean leaving him; but I did mean, "I will never let this go - you will hear about it over and over. Others will know it was you who made this decision and that I told you so before you did it." By questioning his every decision and by never letting him live down any decision I thought was wrong, I literally handicapped my husband into being afraid to live out his faith and walk in his anointing as the leader of our home.

I remember when just recently Chris told me that he knew the Lord was calling us to ministry in Florida. You know what I did? I immediately went to the Lord and asked for my own personal confirmation from Him that this was true. "Please, Father, tell me that this is where you want us." My attitude in asking the Lord this was not one of faith, but one of, "Surely if this were true, God would have told me." The Lord told me alright. He told me something my arrogant self needed to get straightened out. I really sensed the Lord saying in my spirit, "Holly, when are you going to trust Chris' faith in me? When, Holly, are you going to realize that your husband is a man of God, that he loves Me with his whole heart, and that I speak to him daily too--not just you. You are keeping him from reaching his God potential, because you refuse to trust in his relationship with me. By doing this, Holly, you are missing part of what I created you to do-- to be his helper and help him become all I he can be in Me. You are blowing it for the both of you." OUCH. It was so true. It was a pretty humbling moment in the Lord's presence that day for me.

Please don't misunderstand, I am not at all saying that to seek out your own confirmation from the Lord when you are following a decision your husband has made for your family is a bad thing, nor am I saying that to warn your husbands of a possible impending disaster that you see forthcoming from a decision he is about to make is wrong (believe me-- Chris hears his share of warnings :). But what I am saying is the Lord has taught me that sometimes best thing I can do for my man is to just shut up and let him know that I believe in his relationship with the Lord--so much so that I am willing to walk by faith and do what Chris says the Lord has called us to do. I truly believe that we can fuel our husbands with the confidence needed to walk in their anointing and to live out a radical faith if they know that sink or swim, you are doing it with him. There will be no, "You should have done things this way", or "I told you that would never work", no silent treatments, no, "I am embarrassed by the decisions you make"-- just acceptance and appreciation for his desire to step up and lead our family as God has called him to do.

So, Chris, here's to you. Thank you for your passion for God and for being willing to jump when God says, " jump." I trust your faith in Him-- so much now that I am willing to risk it all-- even if it means we sink. I love you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jack Attack

Jack will not let me dress him anymore. He is convinced that he can do it all by himself just like his big brother. The funny thing is, even when he is getting dressed by himself he thinks he is racing someone (see previous post on Always Racing for an explanation!). So he huffs and puffs and just goes flat ballistic while he puts on his clothes-- it stresses me out just watching him! As soon as he gets his clothes on in any way (they are never on right) he screams, "I win, I win!" as he runs around the house. It is so funny.


Check out these pics of Jack proudly displaying his dressing skills and tell me: Do you think he is going to be a plumber or what?