Monday, December 27, 2010

when i said i do, i really meant i will.

Obviously, standing in front of 500+ people in a white dress, holding  Marty's hands, looking him in the eye and saying, "I do" was a big deal. Those were two little words packed with some BIG meaning.

When we both looked each other in the eye and in front of our family and friends promised that we do and will love each other until "death do us part", we were saying so much more than just, "I do." We were also saying, "I will."

At the time, I wasn't totally sure what exactly this "will" would consist of, but I was sure that whatever it is, whatever marriage requires of me, whatever Marty needs from me, I will. And he was proclaiming the same.

5 months later, we are starting to see a little more of what "I will..." means.

When I said I do, I really meant I will...
-use my savings from the last 4 years to pay off your debt.
-wear a shirt I hate just because I know you like it.
-eat chick-fil-a for the 50th time this week just because you're craving it.
-watch your stupid guy movies and at least try to act like I'm interested.
-spend 30 minutes staring at the exact same shirt while you try to decide which color to buy.
-turn down guy time just to spend a little more time with you.
-take 400 pictures every time there's a holiday or an event and look happy and loving in each of them.
-try really hard to appreciate and like your art, even though I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at.
-turn off the kind of music that annoys you when you get in the car.
-still hug you and tell you to "have a good day" as you leave for work, even though you've made me so mad that morning.
-call you in the middle of the day just to see how you're doing.
-humiliate myself by shopping in the mens' underwear department for you.
-just remain silent and offer chocolate when you're being hormonal.
-drive around for 45 minutes before finding a place to eat because you can't decide on anything.
-kiss you even though your breath be stinkin!
-become the ultimate bug exterminator.
-put my dishes in the dishwasher, not just in the sink, because I know that drives you insane.
-change shoes because you don't like the ones I have on, even though I love them.
-listen to you tell the same stories over and over every time we drive down the road to your parents' house.
-give you your space in the mornings.
-randomly buy a gallon of chocolate ice cream just because I know it's your favorite.
-let you vent and not judge you for it.
-eat plain pizza every time because that's what you like, even though I want the supreme.
-try to learn how to cook so you can have a good meal every now and then.
-watch a football game for the 300th time this month.
-spend my day off cleaning the whole house for you.
-spend our first Christmas evening by your side as you throw up every 10 minutes for 6 hours straight.
-and hold your hair back the whole time as you do it.
-then clean it up, every time.
-and still choose to lay down beside you and rub your back as you lay in misery.
-and spend the whole night in the ER.

There are so many more things I could add to that list. But I'll let this small list represent a LOT of "I will..." moments that we have both lived out since July 31, 2010. These are the kinds of things that nobody can warn you or tell you about in advance. They are the things you never really see coming until you're in the moment. But they're the things you have to just be willing to do, to give up, to accept when the time comes. When you say "I do," it's so important to understand that you're also saying, "I will."

If you won't, then don't.

Because sometimes your first Christmas will look like this...

But other times, it may look a little more like this...

I remember laying there on the bed, going through my second bag of IV fluids. It was close to 4:00 a.m. at that point and I turned over and looked at Marty, who was sitting in the chair doing everything he could to stay awake, and I laughed and said, "Merry first Christmas!" We both just laughed our sleepy laughs. It may not have been exactly how we planned, but it was still so wonderful. I wouldn't want to spend my night throwing up with anyone but him!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

a favorite christmas tradition

I love love LOVE Christmas traditions! I think they are so much fun and just have such a way of bringing everyone together.

One of my absolute favorite traditions that we do is Silver Dollar City. Ever since we were first able to talk my grandparents have taken us to Branson a weekend or two before Christmas, and this always includes going to see the lights at Silver Dollar City.

This year we hadn't really talked about it yet, and I wasn't sure if we would go. Granddaddy has been sick with Alzheimer's for the last few years and every year he gets a little worse. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to handle it or not, but I thought I'd ask. I mentioned it to Meemaw and it turned out they were up for it!

We got up bright and early and picked up my sister and grandparents at 8:00 then headed to meet my aunt and uncle and cousins who were already up there.

That was a really bad attempt to get us all in a pic. My biggo head is covering up Meemaw. 

I think the car  ride up there was probably my favorite part! We had such a great time listening to Christmas music and just talking. We talked about everything and teased Meemaw the entire 3 hours. She picked up the nickname, "Josphephine" in the course of a baby names conversation, which I think will stick with her for the rest of my life! 

Once we got to Branson we met up with the Joneses and all went to the landing for about 2 hours to eat and hit up Bass Pro! Then we were off to SDC.

This picture is a tradition in itself. Meemaw and Granddaddy bought this Cowboys coats MANY years ago and only wear them once a year-- when we go to SDC at Christmastime. They were so cute! If you notice Granddaddy's glasses, he put them on OVER his toboggan. It was so funny. He can't speak much anymore, but when he put them on he tapped me on the shoulder and had the biggest smile on his face, pointed at his glasses and said, "Cool! Cool!" Ha! It was great.

This is our whole crew! This was right at the front of the park.

Granddaddy with his two oldest! We have so many pictures just like this of me and Caitlin from ALL ages. It's so much fun to look at all of them.

This became our favorite tree once it got dark. The blue lights were piercing, but they were just beautiful!

Uncle Arch and Aunt Candy in front of the blue tree.

The whole place is just absolutely beautiful at night. Lights are EVERYWHERE!! The moon was showing its face that night, too!

We all waited right by the tree for about 15 minutes before they had the lighting. We stopped to get a quick pic of the grandkids with M&G. 

The lighting of the tree, like always, was just wonderful!  They told the real Christmas story then played different Christmas Carols while the tree did gave us a little light show!

I was so glad Marty got to go this year! He had to work last year. It was great having him with us for the first time. I hope this is a tradition he and I can continue to do with our kids!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jonathan graduated!

Last Wednesday marked a big milestone for us! Jonathan officially graduated from the school he had been attending. It's a career services school that helps people get better prepared for different jobs after high school. We just call it his college. :) He officially finished in May, but they only have graduation ceremonies in April and December, so he had to wait. The graduation was at the Hot Springs convention center and sweet Courtney Luck went to keep me company!

Here's some of his graduating class getting ready to go in!

I have driven to this school about 200 times in the last year taking J back and forth and I just fell in love with some of the students I would see. The students live on campus while attending so it really is a college-like setting. Some of these students are severely handicapped, while others just need a little help getting started. Some are fresh out of high school and some were old enough to be my grandparents! It was so cool to watch them all at the graduation. They were such a family and SO stinkin supportive of each other. EVERYONE got a roaring applause as they went across the stage.

I swam through the sea of people and finally found him! Of course, had to take a quick before picture.

And Courtney, too!

We got into the ceremony and they played a few slideshows then the graduates all marched in! It was so sweet to watch because they were SO proud! I couldn't get a good picture from where we were sitting, but I will never forget seeing that look on his face as he walked in. I told Courtney I have never felt like a mom, sister, and friend all in one setting. I almost cried. It was so great!

When they announced the graduates they asked the family members to stand. I stood tall and proud (okay, maybe not tall, but definitely proud) representing him  and couldn't have been more honored to do so!

This was him standing in line waiting to walk across. He was only 2 names away!

And now the moment we'd been waiting for... He straight up danced across that stage the entire way! 

After all the names were called, they asked the RA's to stand and be acknowledged. 

To end it, they had all the instructors gather around the students and as soon as the final "Amen" was said in the closing prayer they released all kinds of confetti stuff. It was so much fun!

And here he is... our food services graduate!

If I haven't said it before, I love this guy. I am so blessed by what God has brought into my life by bringing Jonathan in. I've known him since I was 5, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that he became family to me. I would do and give anything for him. He's made me so proud over the last year at how much he has grown and matured and just become a man! I pray for him like I would pray for my own family. Heck, he is family. 

Congratulations, Jonathan McKnight!! I love you! 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a gift that is never completely unwrapped

This is how a dear friend, Tonya Hammontree, described marriage in a letter the other day. Her actual words were,

"Marriage is just like a package that is never completely unwrapped. You just get to open it a little bit more each day..."

I love that. I know that there are many people who have been hurt, betrayed, and just straight-up disgusted by marriage and reading that makes you want to cuss. I understand that this view of marriage is NOT how everyone sees it and for that, I am so very sorry. God did NOT create marriage for hurt and betrayal. But the sins and selfish choices that humans make can so easily lead to this. And even in a "good" marriage, there are STILL times when you just feel beat up by marriage.

But I believe that this type of marriage is possible. And I so love the way Tonya described it. Doesn't that just make perfect sense?

A gift that is never completely unwrapped.
You unwrap a little more, day by day.

It's like Christmastime as a kid. If you're like me, you get a bazillion gifts, all completely different.

There are the random gifts. You know--those gifts you open and have NO idea what to do with. It's not a horrible gift, but you're just kind of thinking, "What in the world am I going to use this for?" You try to smile and act like it's a great gift but really, you just don't know HOW to respond. You can get upset that you got a not-so-good gift that's now going to just become another random piece of junk that you have no clue what to do with, or you can laugh! You can embrace it! You can learn to love it! I think marriage is like that somedays. You "unwrap" a little bit and think, "What in the world do I do with this???" It's not necessarily a bad thing you discover about your spouse. It's just a confusing thing. A surprising thing. Something totally random and out of the blue that kind throws a curve ball at you. I think there's a LOT of this kind of unwrapping in the early stages. At least for me there has been. I've learned to just take these things and laugh! Embrace the random, weird, different things and realize they're not so bad. In fact, they can be kind of fun.

And then there are the gifts that you just straight up do NOT want. As a kid, for me, it was barbies. If someone wasted a gift for me on barbies, I got so mad. I hated barbies! And the money they spent on Barbie or her dumb jeep could have bought me some sweet new rollerblades. I would get so mad when I got barbie stuff and my parents would just kind of sit across the room giving me the "You BETTER act like you appreciate this gift," look, in fear that I would offend the giver. I think there are definitely the gifts you do NOT want in marriage. That thing you find out about your spouse that you just don't want to have to deal with. The situation you discover that hurts so bad. The stuff that comes that you'd rather eat dirt than have to accept. There are those times. And they do stink. But I believe that with the help of the Lord, these horrible "gifts" in marriage can be overcome, forgiven, and moved beyond.

But then there are the great gifts. The ones you open and don't even have words for. The ones that just leave you jumping up and down, smiling, and throwing your arms around the giver's neck. The ones that have so much meaning and value. The ones you know you will never ever ever ever get rid of and definitely never ever forget. Like my first cowboy hat. I wanted a cowboy hat SO. STINKIN. BAD. I remember the year I got it. I was 4... maybe 5. I got a red cowboy hat AND red roper boots. I wore those EVERYwhere. Seriously. For years! I have SO many pictures of me as a kid in that thing. And guess where it is today? On my dresser in my bedroom at home. On display. It's still so very special to me. It was the PERFECT gift! It made me so happy! Sometimes it's like that... the gift you pray for and wait for and hope for and then FINALLY you get. Or sometimes these great gifts come as total surprises. You didn't even know you wanted it until you got it. I love those times!

And I believe these kinds of great gifts exist in marriage as well. Some days  you just unwrap that part of your spouse's heart that makes you feel like you could just explode with joy. You unwrap a moment together. A laugh. An accomplishment. You discover an aspect of them that, even after all that time, you had never noticed before. And you know with all your heart you have never loved them more than you do in that very moment. And you know it's a moment you will never ever ever forget. It's perfect.

I pray with all my heart that anyone in a marriage right now can still unwrap these kinds of great gifts. I know it's so hard and sometimes the gifts are so confusing and sometimes they just plain stink. It's hard! After only five months I can say it's hard at times! I can't imagine when that has been 5 years or 5 decades. I've had my share of all three kinds of gifts already. But those great gifts are worth it all. Those days when he just makes my heart SO full and my mind so thankful... the days when I just can't do anything but smile, laugh, and throw my arms around him... those days are so worth it. So worth the struggle.

If we're not careful, we can let the not-so-great gifts become all we see. We can get so distracted and run-over by the things we're just sick of dealing with. Sometimes we don't even give ourselves a chance to unwrap the good stuff.

I pray I can always remember to view marriage in this way. And to choose unwrap a little more each day. To laugh at the weird stuff, let God heal the bad stuff, and embrace, cherish, and praise Him for the great stuff!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

my bible needs your help...

If you asked me what my most prized possession in my life is, I'd tell you this. My bible. Not because that's what I'm supposed to say, but because I mean it. This really, truly is my absolute favorite thing I own. My bible is so very special to me and I'd give the fight of my life if anyone tried to take it away from me. It was given to me on Christmas day, 2000 from my parents. I was in the 7th grade and had just started the youth group and thought it was time to get a real, grown-up bible. It's the Zondervan Life Application Study Bible. And I love it. 

I don't know if you agree with writing in your bible or not, but I'm just going to tell you right now, I absolutely love writing in my bible. I think that's one of the reasons why it's so special to me. It has literally been with me through every single day for the last 10 years. I have underlined, highlighted, circled, starred, boxed, arrowed thousands of verses that have spoken straight to my heart. I have journaled prayers and thoughts that particular Scripture brought to mind. 

If you thumb through the pages of my bible, you'll find marks of many journeys I've been on in the last 10 years. You'll see verses that got me through drama in middle school and high school. You'll see prayers I prayed for a good attitude and to work my hardest in soccer. You'll see my journey through the valley after losing my dad and the Scriptures and prayers that strengthened me through that. You'll see things like, "Fathers Day 2007" next to verses that God used to comfort my heart on that very hard day. You'll see where I prayed for guidance on making a college decision. And in another place you'll see my search for a degree and career path. You'll see where I really knew God was speaking to my heart to serve in ministry. You'll see where I prayed for a Godly husband, and then when I found one. You'll see where I've been praying for my future children. You'll see where I'm so very thankful for my mom. My family. My church. You'll see different verses that have made me think of special friends who are so dear to me, and in some place, notes and prayers friends have left for me. 

For those who understand using your bible in this way, and even those who don't, I'm sure you'll understand when I say that right now I am SO TORN. Why? Because my bible is FALLING. APART. It's 10 years old and, well, just needs some healing. 

The pages are completely separated from the binding now. In fact, a few pages in the very front (with the index of the books and some other reference information) have fallen out and disappeared. That happened about 5 years ago. I have tried EVERYTHING to rebind this thing. Every kind of glue that has ever been recommended, 45 different kinds of tape. It always holds for a little while, but then it always comes back to this. 
At random places throughout the bible, pages are falling out. That's when I rely on my handy hot pink duct tape. It works for those pages. They aren't going anywhere. But it causes the aligning to get off, and then it doesn't shut right. But that's ok. They're in there. I can still read them. 

 The scariest part, to me, is that the front cover is about to fall off. This picture doesn't do a lot of justice but the bottom and top corners are completely ripped through. The entire side is tearing, but there are places where it's barely hanging on. I have duct tape on the inside of it to kind of reenforce it, but it's weak.

So here's my dilemma. To get a new bible or not? Everything in me screams NO. STINKIN. WAY. I have always said I will not ever get a new bible. I have told Marty at least 20 times not to ever buy me a new bible. I love my bible. It has my entire life in it, or at least my entire life since I was 12. I would love to use this one bible for the rest of my life and let it be one lifelong journey and testimony to what God has spoken to me and done for me. I could just get it rebound and some pages fixed. I know.

Or I could get a new one. I am at the 10 year mark. I could start a new bible every 10 years. That would still be a lifelong "journal"... just put them together! It could be really neat to compare them at the end of my life and see how my thinking and prayers changed with every decade. But still... my bible. My precious bible. I know I wouldn't be getting rid of it. But the thought of not using THIS one every day makes me sad! I don't idolize it. I just cherish it. Very, very much.

Anyway. I'm torn. So torn. I have no idea what to do. I know that sounds so weird. Maybe it is. But dang... I love my bible!

So what about you? Do you get a new bible ever so often? Have you used the same one forever? What do you think I should do? Seriously-- I need some counsel.


Monday, December 13, 2010

i stink at receiving compliments.

I do. I stink. Bad.

Can you relate?

It's probably the worst with Marty. When other people compliment me, I feel extremely awkward and try to change the subject or give a sheepish "yeah right" smile and move on. But when Marty does, I usually just say, "Okay." or just give him a what-ever. sassy kind of look.

Sometimes he'll say, "You're hott." when I'm sitting around in pajama pants and my hair's all a mess. Those times, I want to be called anything BUT hott. I would much rather him say, "Dang girl, you're lookin trashy!" Mostly because that's the way I feel. But the truth is, he doesn't think that. At all. He genuinely thinks I look pretty (or hott... but that's such a sketchy word) when I'm sportin the greasy pony tail and no make-up. Other times he'll tell me something like, "That looks really good on you, I really like that" when I wear a certain shirt or something. In my mind I'm thinking, "Oh whatever. You're just trying to find a way to make me feel good. It's what you're supposed to do." And I'll just kind of roll my eyes and not even acknowledge the compliment. But again, the truth is, he's not just desperately looking for a way to make me "feel good." He straight up likes that shirt and likes the way I look in it and wants me to know that.

Sometimes he'll randomly tell me that he loves something about me and I'm a good wife or I'm going to be a good mom... those kinds of things. Those are the moments I want to scream the most. Everything in me is thinking, "YEAH. RIGHT." I'd rather him just be honest and say something along the lines of, "Jordan, you're really actually not that great of a wife. I know you're trying your hardest and I appreciate it, but truth is, you have a LONG way to go. You fall short in about 1,000 areas." Because that's what I think. But that's NOT what he thinks. He really, truly, straight up thinks I'm a good wife. He really does love me for the million little reasons he tells me, even if I don't know why. He really does feel the way he says and he just wants me to know that.

But what do I do? Almost EVERY time? I shrink from these things. I deny them. I roll my eyes from them. I give the "whatever" and threaten him with my eyes not to ever tell me that bull again.

Today, I complimented someone very dear to me and I meant it from the bottom of my heart. But the person responded to me VERY similarly to the way I respond to my husband. Whatever. Don't ever tell me that again. BULL-HONKEY.

And you know what? It kind of hurt. It really frustrated me.

Why in the world would they reject that compliment? I was very genuine in giving it and wanted to be able to encourage and bless them with my words. But they straight up stole that blessing by throwing it right back in my face and making me feel like an idiot for saying it. It hurt. It made me mad. I wanted to just grab them and shake them and say, "I MEAN IT! YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW WONDERFUL YOU ARE! STOP THIS CRAP!!!"

Then it hit me... that's how I make my husband feel. Every time I reject his compliments or roll my eyes at them. I respect him just for the fact that he hasn't stopped complimenting me yet, even after ALL my times of rejection, denial, eyes rolling, whatevering. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for him and how stupid he probably feels at times. It was a sobering thought and I wanted to call him right then and thank him for every compliment I can remember him giving me.

But you know what hit me the most?

That's the way I respond to God. So very often.

I read a verse or someone reminds me of His truth or I just have that gentle whisper of His spirit that tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Or that I am God's masterpiece, created in His image. Or I am a true daughter of the KING. Or I have been CHOSEN by the creator of the universe. Or I am unconditionally and eternal LOVED. Or that the King is ENTHRALLED with my beauty!

I hear those things and I smile.

Because they're cute.

And they're warm and fuzzy.

And I should embrace them and be so thankful for that truth. But instead...

Instead, I give God the "whatever." Maybe not outwardly, but in my heart. Whatever... I'm NOT fearfully made. Look at me. I'm so messed up. I am NOT a masterpiece. I'm so broken and smeared. Enthralled with my beauty? Come on, God. You made girls MUCH prettier than me. I find it hard to believe you're enthralled by me.

I never liked hearing or teaching the self worth talks to girls because they always included these aspects of telling and believing God's compliments for you. I realize now the reason I avoid teaching this is because I STINK at receiving and believing them myself.

But the truth is, just as my husband is very genuine and real in his compliments to me, so much more is my Father. He means every single word. He loves blessing me and encouraging me. He desires for me to know what I really am in His eyes. He WANTS me to know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He is in crazy love with me and longs to tell me that! THAT blows me AWAY!

But how many times do I just roll my eyes at those things? I'm fearfully and wonderfully made? Okay, God... really? I mean, thanks, that sounds good, but I mean... really?" I gently roll my eyes. A little more politely than I would toward my husband. Maybe I just turn the page really quickly when that verse appears. I quickly smile and nod when someone reminds me of that and move on the the next "REAL" spiritual topic.

Can you relate??? At all?? I really hope I'm not alone in this.

I want to stop that, though. I have to stop that. The Lord NEVER speaks anything He does not mean 100%. His view of me is so pure and genuine. He really does love me like that! He really does think I am wonderful! I really am his prized daughter! He really IS crazy about me and really does want me to know that!

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for Him. When the CREATOR of the universe, sitting on His perfect THRONE, cares enough to take time to tell ME, just one of many creations, that He thinks I am WONDERFUL and that he LOVES me and that he is enthralled by MY beauty... and I sheepishly smile and move forward as if nothing was ever said, or even worse, as if something BAD was said... dang! That's a slap in my face. I can't believe I do that. I don't want to do that anymore.

I've got to stop responding like this. To my friends, to my husband, to my God. When people take time to compliment me, I need to respond with my God-given identity. I need to accept it. I need to hold my head high and simply say, "Thank you." I need to smile and let God use it to bless me. I need to believe it. And I need to turn around and be used to do the same in someone else's life. (And let me just take this opportunity to say that I do NOT believe that humility and insecurity are the same thing. Denying a compliment or putting yourself down is NOT humility. It's insecurity. And insecurity does NOT come from the Lord. As Christians, we should be SO secure in who we are! Not arrogant, but secure. Big difference. Important difference.)

When God reminds me of my value in his eyes, I need to respond with enormous amounts of gratitude. I need to humbly embrace it! I need to praise Him for who HE is. I need to live by the truth of who I am. I need to be used to remind others of the same valuable truth.

Today, I stink at receiving compliments. But not tomorrow. Tomorrow I want to become a new compliment receiver.

Now, don't go judging me. If you see me being a bad compliment receiver, go easy on me. This is new! I'm trying! But, feel free to hold me accountable.

By the way, you're beautiful. :)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

i'm back from Bethlehem

My last post was Wednesday morning. Bethlehem Revisited began Wednesday evening and this year I got the privlege of being the point person for it. Needless to say, I haven't even thought about blogging the past few days.

If you don't know what Bethlehem Revisited is, that means you  missed out. But don't worry-- it'll be here next year! It's a FREE event that our church puts on every year. I don't want to call it a live nativity because it's so much  more than that. We literally build a mini town full of shops, firepits, a huge well, a synagogue, an inn, animal stables, a manger out back, and much more. The town is filled with just under 30 shops ranging from a candle shop where you literally go and make your own candles, to candy shops, to story telling, to brick making, to fish and tannery, and everything else in between. When you first enter the town you are given some shekels which you use to buy and barter things in the shops. When you've had enough of the town you exit through the inn and the innkeeper directs to the manger scene. Here you a real live baby and mom and dad in a manger and someone is there to present the Christmas story. After that you go back inside for some cookies and hot cocoa! I know that sounds really simplified. It's a lot more than that. But there's my simple explanation!

This year was a great success! We had a ton of people, lots of fun, and TONS of smiles!

My favorite part of Bethlehem is seeing all the kids SO HAPPY that they got to see baby Jesus! They know it's not REALLY baby Jesus, but something about just getting to get a tiny glimpse of what it could have been like the night Jesus was born is so intriguing to these children. Shoot, it's intriguing to all of us!

Here's an example of one of the shops:

The music shop:


Oh, and did I mention we have live animals? LOTS OF THEM!

And a couple thousand cookies. :)

I didn't get to take any pics this year (I actually stole these from Toya!) because I was busy running around, but I did snap one with my phone and it's possibly one of my favorite pics ever.

These boys have a very special place in my heart. I would seriously adopt all three if I could. Friday night I asked them to help us and they did FAN-TASTIC! They were tax collectors and went around to all the shops and picked up the shekles people had paid the shop owners and returned the money to the money keeper. I was so proud of them for acting right and helping out so well. I felt like a proud momma!

I'm finally caught up on my sleep and ready for a brand new week! More interesting blogs to come!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

tis the season to remember...

December is quite a month for me. It's the most... WONDERFUL time... of the YEAR! But, it's also sad. It's the anniversary of my dad's death. And it brings back memories. Memories of Jesus and his sacrifice, and memories of my most horrible days. I've learned that I can't control how those memories make me feel, but I can control how I react to them.

I was thinking about this today and I came across this old journal entry I wrote on this exact day in 2005, almost a year after his death. This was my first holiday season without him, and the first anniversary. Here's what I wrote:

"Lately a lot of people have been telling that they're thinking about me and praying for me this month because they know it'll be a hard month. There have been a lot of people, who have gone through similar things, warning me about how hard these next few weeks are going to be. Many have told me that it's ok to be mad and upset.

Maybe they're right. Maybe it is ok to be mad. But, I think there's more that I can do than just sit around think of all the reasons to be mad at God, to ask Him why, to get down on life and to just be in a constant state of bitterness. Sure, those times will come... that is inevitable. But, I owe so much more than that to God.

When I really think about this last year of my life, of course I acknowledge that it's been the hardest year of my life. I realize that it will probably be the hardest year I'll ever go through. I will always remember the heart ache, the confusion, the loss. But when I look at this year as a whole, on top of all of those things, I see God's amazing power. I see his strength, his love, his mercy, his grace. I see how much he's changed me, how much he's shown me, how much I've been able to grow in him because of everything.

I desperately wish I could not only tell, but show the world how great my God is. I wish everyone could know that he didn't just allow me to go through a tragedy, but that He held my hand and walked with me every single step of the way. He never let me go. He allowed me to take that time to grow and mature. He taught me so many things. He brought new people into my life who have blessed me more than they'll ever know. He allowed me to experience life in a way I never thought I could."

When I read that, I was almost in tears. I remember that. I remember writing that. And I remember what the Lord did for me. I remember how many miracles he performed in my heart that year. And the next year. And the next. And the next. And this year, I want to choose again to respond to these memories with praise, not with anger. As I remember the loss, I want to remember how He held me, carried me, restored me. As I remember the darkness, I want to remember the light He poured into my life through so many beautiful people. 

I know I am not the only one who experiences this kind of darkness at Christmastime. It is such a tough season for so many people. And there are many times when I have wished I could just not remember it. But I'm glad I can. Because my ability to remember my pain allows for my ability to remember His goodness. I want to encourage you this year to remember. Remember what the Lord has done for you. As you remember the pain of your life, remember how hard He has fought to keep your heart safe. Remember the love He has given you. Remember the grace. 

Remember Jesus.

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
Psalm 78:35

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...
Psalm 105:5

remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
Psalm 143:5

Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things!
Joel 2:21


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

stool or chair?

I am a sleeper. I have to have my full 7-8 hours of sleep every single night or else I am just not up to par the next day. 10:30 is my normal bed time, but 11-11:30 is my normal fall asleep time. I have so much trouble falling asleep! No matter how tired I am, my brain just doesn't shut off. My husband doesn't understand this because he could literally lay down on some rocks, fall asleep in about 30 seconds, and wouldn't wake up if you punched him in the face.

Makes me so mad!

I wish I could do that.

But I can't.

Instead, I lay there. Thinking. About the most RANDOM things in the entire world. About a month ago it was carrots. Carrots! I could not go to sleep because I kept thinking about who in the world first discovered you could eat those long orange things that grow in the ground??? I mean, how did they get discovered? And eaten? And what about potatoes? This is what I do. And I sit there and try to figure all this out in my head, and I can't go to sleep if there is a problem left unsolved. So usually this involves me googling carrots, or potatoes, or where lady bug spots come from at 11:00. If you looked at the past google searches on my phone you'd probably think I was crazy.

Well, last night was no exception. I was TIRED. I was fighting to keep myself awake until 10:30 because Marty makes fun of me and calls me lame if I go to bed before 10:30. But as soon as 10:30 came, I had no shame in crawling in bed. And I did. I got my blankets, my glass of water, said my good night, closed my eyes....

And then it hit me-- what draws the line between something being a stool, and a chair?

I mean I know what a stool is. Trust me, when you're my height, stools become your very best friends. But I googled it anyway. And this was the first definition I got:

the fecal matter evacuated at each movement of the bowels.

Okay! Not exactly what I was going for! (Sorry if that's crude. Just wanted to warn you... if you ever have this same dilemma in your mind... googling stool can catch you off guard.) Next definition, please! 

       a single seat on legs or a pedestal and without arms or back.

Alright, I can accept that. Makes sense. And then here's the next one:

        a short, low support on which to stand, step, kneel, or restthe feet while sitting.

That one makes total sense too. 

So THIS is a stool:

And this is a stool:

Different types of stools, but both are stools. No argument there.

Now to chairs. Here is the definition I found for chair:
a seat, esp. for one person, usually having four legs forsupport and a rest for the back and often having rests forthe arms.

Okay, I can accept that one, too. It's a seat with a back. Sometimes with armrests. 
This is a chair:

But then, I thought about my house and the different stools and chairs I have and I thought about my dining room table. 

Those are the chairs I have at my dining room table. Or are they stools? They're often called bar stools, but they have a back support. So does that make it a bar chair? Or a high chair? Or a tall chair? Or does it make a stool with a back support? Is it a chair... or a stool? 

Maybe it's one of those "a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square" things. Maybe a chair is a stool, but a stool is not a chair. Or maybe that doesn't work.


Have I wasted your time? I apologize. This is how my time is wasted every night. For a good hour when I could be soundly sleeping, I'm thinking about chairs. Or stools. Or chairstools. Or whatever the heck they are!