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Saturday, March 17, 2012

A work of heart

Have nicely stocked up my inspirational read library as of lately.....have so many good books to read that I hope will both teach me/inspire me more.  I need to learn more.  I need to change sooooooo  much about me.  I am in a work in progress.  Before Ansen's pregnancy, I "knew" that I was a great Christian and that I had very few flaws.  HAAAAAA!  Along with the other 179 life lessons Ansen's pregnancy taught me, number 180 is that I am as flawed and sinful as every other person in this world.  That was a hard lesson to take was like a ton of bricks hitting me all at once.  For 30 years, I had lived thinking that I was a "good girl".  And I may seem like a good girl, but my daily sins are as real as anyone else's.  I am grateful God hasn't given up on me and that he gives me the chance to start fresh daily/hourly/even minutely.  Will I use up all my "get out of jail" cards one day? Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the gift of God's grace, only in that many times I don't feel like I deserve a 2nd or 3rd or 457th chance to start over.  How can God not get frustruated with how I fail Him daily??  When I push His teachings to the back of my mind for a moment so I can do what I want to do in that instant.  Again and again.  Daily. 

For Lent, I decided I wouldn't shop at all those 40 days.  The night before Lent, I bought and bought and bought to prepare myself for my spending halt.  And yet I have failed almost every single day after that.  We live in a consumerist world.  And those lessons have been so ingrained in me that I have had a really hard time with this.  I joked with a friend that my Lenten promise has seemingly turned into 'I will make a purchase daily' instead.  I have bought yet more inspirational books.  I have bought clothes.  I have bought knitting needles and yarn.  I have bought knitting patterns.  I have bought Journibles (which I think will be an amazing way to learn the Bible-starting with Psalms).  But still, every one of those purchases feels like I slapped God in the face in regards to my promise.  I made a promise, why can I convince myself in my moments of weakness that each of these small purchases is okay bc its something I want and need and deserve.  I feel soooo incredibly guilty.  If I was God, I would just want to wring my hands of myself and move on to someone who has a bit more self-control and promise.  Yet he gives me yet another chance.  A new day to try again. 

I find grace so confusing bc its hard to understand with the human perspective we have.  People hurt us over and over again in life, and we WANT to wring our hands of them forever.  I think the closest thing in regards to God's grace in this world is parenting some of my strong willed children.  They deny my authority in their lives repeatedly, they do the opposite of what I ask regularly, they break the rules as often as they feel like it.  Daily, I have to take my frustruations with their behavior and actions and process it...and then move on.  Because I love them and no matter how many times they may fail me, I still have high hopes for their future.  That one day I might get a group of good natured, God pleasing, respectful adults out of this brood.  Some days though, I am overwhelmed....some days this parenting thing seems too hard.  I want to give up....but I can't.  Because they are my children.  I helped create them and I love them.  They are my responsibility...I am not to give up on them, no matter how hard and hopeless some days may seem.  And I am God's child.  And He loves me.  He loves me despite my deeply sinful nature and my love to spend.  He loves the sinner, just not the sins.  And he has high hopes and amazing plans for me, if only I trust and follow Him. 

I am so grateful for God's grace.  I don't feel worthy at all, but I am grateful.    And I hope to get some major reading, growing and learning done in the next months/years/pretty much every day left of this life here.  I am a work in progress...and I am in NO WAY near completion.  Some days I think of myself at just the beginning of a long, arduous, beautiful  metamorphisis that will take place.  I have so much to learn can be daunting to consider.  Just like the desperate feeling I had when I had only 1 child and I knew there were meant to be quite a few many more to follow to complete our family (not just the typical 1 or 2 more)...such is the feeling in regards to what I have left to learn in this world.  In the great classroom of life, I am maybe in 2nd grade here.  Sometimes feels more like 1st grade though.   Boy do I have a long way to go.  I am eager and ready to learn heart and soul yearn for this.  One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. 

Thankfully God doesn't expect me to wake up and be perfect one day.  But he does expect me to start each day wanting to learn more, try more and do more.  He expects that I will try my hardest to fight against false idols and sins (both small and large) every minute of every day.  I may fail at times (which is very frustruating to me....WHY when I know right from wrong-why can't I follow through the right way each and every time), but I won't give up.  I can't give up.  Just as He extends His love and grace upon me, I will always innately strive to make my Father proud.  I will continue to work at this.  Every minute of every day I have left on Earth.  One day, this work in progress will be whole and complete.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An update....I guess???

I have been looking at my blog for months, thinking of something to update.  Truthfully, I don't know what to update though.  I would love to post "my life has been a dream since we have gone through all our challengs with Ansen....we passed our test and won ourselves a life of continued ease".  Now wouldn't that be lovely.  Truthfully, I thought that after what I have gone through with Ansen, that nothing would ever compare.  Well the truth is, the answer to that is yes and no.  Yes, once you realize that what truly matters most is family, nothing else "really" matters.  But no in the fact that sometimes it feels like life is still beating you down in all directions....and its not always easy to see the beauty in some circumstances (possible, just not always easy).  I have gotten distracted a lot in my mission to love, enjoy and be thankful for all matters of life.....distracted by life. 

First Doug was unemployed (and became so in such an UNFAIR manner, its hard to not still feel bitter about it today).   And then when he did finally get a job again (in a horrible market with few options that made what we need to pay all our bills), it has turned out to be the most exhausting job ever.  We have come to realize that for us to afford this small house, situated on a busy road with .1 acre of land we stupidly bought at peak of market for way too much money, that we need Doug to work 70-80 hours a week, doing the hard physical labor he does (bc truck drivers that don't have to unload trucks on top of driving them make next to nothing).  He is gone 4 am to 5-6 pm (sometimes later) Monday-Friday, and he basically comes home, eats dinner, and falls asleep.  5 days a week he does this, and the weekends aren't long enough for him to fully "recover"...I rarely get to spend any time with him awake sans kids...even on the weekends, when kids are finally in bed, he falls asleep immediately.  How long do we keep this up? 

We have 28ish more years of this mortgage.  We bought this house 7 years ago, but since we have had to refinance three times-due to us being idiots I guess and signing up for just about every banking scam there was, including the infamous adjustable rate mortgage, varying high percentage rates in a 80/20 loan, etc...we have extended our mortgage.  We have paid almost 100,000 to date, and we have paid off only 1000-2000 on our actual morgage, while our house has depreciated 60,000.  The American Dream at its finest.   Do we keep working him to the bone for a house we actually hate; 1.  It has very little yard.  2.  It is on a busy street.  3.  It has an apartment behind us so that anyone can look into our yard...there is no privacy in the summer bc people are hanging out in their balcony, smoking and staring at us.  3.  It is falling apart slowly but surely-I have a massive list of things that we need repaired, including:  half the outlets in the house-half of the half didn't work when we moved in, the other half have been slowing blowing and they now include one of the upstairs lights, as well as the cellar/laundry room lights, as well as a new roof, and some kind of rebuild on the cellar stairs that has a hole that keeps getting bigger and bigger thanks to someone building them out of particle board??  Those are the biggest house issues right now, there are other smaller ones that we can just live with indefinately I guess. 

I try to will myself to grow where we have been planted, to accept this is where we are meant to be. But then why do I have this relentless, nagging feeling in my heart that we are supposed to get somewhere country, somewhere simple and cheap and somewhere with a lot of land.  I get these feelings we are supposed to be anywhere BUT here.  The feelings are relentless.  I am just sick of being stuck in the city....having 6 kids corralled into a tiny yard when we all desperately seek to be "free range".  Sitting on my porch, trying to relax as a continuous stream of cars and trucks zoom on by, kids at daycare next door are yelling as they play.  I try to enjoy the beauty of the day outside in our fenced in yard, only to hear every word of my neighbors conversation (including their fights), while one of the apartment smokers is watching my children and chickens running around the yard.  I feel my heart stifled....its hard to enjoy the beauty of nature at this house, and during the summer we find that we are just driving everywhere we can to espcape the city and be back in nature.  Is it too much to want to be able to walk out my door and appreciate nature right in my own backyward?    It is so hard, struggling with matters of the heart. 

I have tried to "accept" where we are at.  That we made mistakes and will now have to pay for them.  But as I have felt all my children on my heart, I feel this is my heart...a strong sense that we are not supposed to be HERE.  Its the kind of thing where you convince yourself to be "smart" about the situation with your brains ("smart" meaning we pay our obligations and just accept/live with all the financial mistakes we have made) and then that whisper on my heart reminds me of the life we could have/we should have.  We bought this house bc I liked the tub!!!  Did God lead me to like the tub here??  Why did I care about the most ridiculous things back then??  Why would I not look at the yard and think "this won't be conducive to my farming dreams (bc I had them even back then.)  Why did I believe that we could simply sell house in a few years for  a small profit and move on to our farm?  And as much as these thoughts of a more simple, outdoor based life torment me, they similarily torment Doug.  Sometimes I feel like we headed on the wrong path and God is trying to "right" us back where we were meant to.   But how do we do that?

We are at a crossroad right now.  Due to unemployment finance mess, we have one final opportunity that we could just stop and leave this house and try to go down the scary unknown path.  Would we find the land and simpleness we dream of?  Would we find someone willing to rent to our large family...willing to let us bring chickens and 2 cats?  Willing to let us be self sufficient on their land?  Or do we use our tax money and borrow yet more money from my Dad (owe him 20,000 from 2 of my 3 refinances), make this housing situation right, and just live here essence pay our debt for the mistakes we HAVE made (no matter how sorrowful we are for them now) and give up on our dreams.  I feel guilty about first option.  And the second option depresses me.  There is no easy answer in life. 

Life is a blessing though.  I know God has a reason for this crossroad, as He did for me when I was going back and forth about bringing that 6th little life (Ansen) into our family.  One day I will see this as a thing of beauty.   Right now, I am confused and sad.  And just living each day, not making any decisions and hoping to get a glimpse of any kind of flicker of light in regards to what direction we are MEANT to head.  I trust that God has a plan for us and I have peace in that, but I am human and I wonder/worry daily where  we will be lead.  Its not always easy to blindly trust.   But God hasn't led us astray long as we listen to HIM and not us.  Life isn't about houses or even the fancy, garden tub I once coveted.  Its about our family being together, no matter where life leads us.  I love my family-they are what life is about; as long as we are together, we will find our way through each and every challenge that comes our way (including this one). 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Feeling so blessed...

to have had another Mother's Day to enjoy with my kids.  We didn't do anything special whatsoever, just another normal, boring day....but those are exactly what being a mom is all about.  I feel like I won the lottery, with my 6 beautiful children to mother!!  And yesterday, I took the kids to the park to meet a friend that just had her 4th child (she came to visit Ansen at the NICU and told me that day that his journey had inspired her to have her 4th child that she had been flip flopping in her head about having-her daughter is now ~2 months old).  And yesterday she told me she was now considering a 5th. That she didn't feel her family was complete.  Now that is a nice Mother's Day present.  Because for most people, my large family inspires them to use birth control.  Seriously.  This world isn't made comfortable for a 6 kid family.  2 kids is deemed rather perfect to most.  One of the main things I hear is along the lines of our number of children  "well thats nice, I would have liked another, but we only have the money/energy/future plans/sanity for two".  With 6 kids, we certainly rarely have any extra money, we certainly go minute by minute in regards to "planning" things, we aren't able to give our kids the world (or fancy clothing, fancy electronics, or yearly Disney/cruise vacations) and my sanity is tested OFTEN.  But I am blessed.  With 6 of the only treasures I will ever have that can come to Heaven with me.  I will probably be dirt poor for the rest of my life because of these 6 of mine, and crazy busy to boot, but I feel like a millionaire in my heart.   I have 6 riches that  money can't buy.   And to have my friend want to hang out with us somewhat regularly, and then for her to say that the thought of 5 children is now speaking to her heart...well its a nice change from what I hear every other day of the year.  Not that I think that everyone should have 5 or 6 children a piece, but I think everyone should make the decision on their family size from their heart and not from their head (because the head has a way of convincing you that the good life=money, beautiful things, elaborate plans).  I am not immune to the longings of my head....I too dream of a bigger house, and bigger vacations, and a nice bedroom set, and Hanna Andersson clothing for my kids, etc.  But then I am reminded daily as to what truly matters...when I am 80, what will I be most proud of in regards to what I accomplished?  And I am pretty sure that the pretty things/big plans won't count for much when its time for me to meet my Maker.  But thats just me.

Happy belated Mother's Day....hope everyone enjoyed a day with their most valued treasures as well! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"interesting" appt today...

I had a consult with a general surgeon today for my hernia.  Well, as soon as he walked in, I knew that I wasn't in for a riproaring time.  He wasn't warm and friendly, thats for sure.  Then he asked why I was there, took a bunch of notes, and then started asking about why I had so and so health insurance and why we didn't have anything else but that.  He then examined my hernia (feeling for edges of where it started and ended (~12 inches augh)), and then had me stand up to see how much it stuck out when I stood up.  He told me that I had two options.  What I REALLY need is a 4 step surgery (not sure if that means 4 surgeries or just one big elaborate surgery), but that they would need to carve things apart in there and put them back together the way they were meant to be, and this would be refinforced by some kind of graft once they got me all back together again. This would requite a few days of hospitalization and would be very painful.  Unfortunately, this was NOT even one of my two choices, bc my insurance won't pay for that and he assured me that he doesn't let insurance mandate giving care to a patient, but that he also can't be expected to do these kinds of surgeries for free unless its a true emergency. 

So my options actually are:  1.  To have the minimally invasive laparascopy that my insurance will pay for and they would try to sew a patch in between the 12 inches of open fascia....but that this would most likely not work for any long period of time, just bc of the extent of the hernia/damage inside.  I would also still look like I have a hernia, bc this patch would still let stuff push through to some extent.  2.  To wait it out, re-evaluate in 6 months (and hopefully get better insurance), and do it the right way.  Also would give me time to get in better shape, so to hopefully lessen my chances of 5 months of infection like last time (augh).  He recommended option 2. 

As crappy as his bedside manner was, I have learned along the way that drs with the least pleasant bedside manner are usually the  most meticulous drs/surgeons (and the ones you want doing your surgery).   And he could easily do the first option, get paid for it, and forget about me for the time being.  But he highly recommends the more extensive surgery to get the best results for me. 

I figure this is God's will.  If I was meant to have this thing fixed now, the option would be made available to me.  I am not looking forward to walking around with this huge lump indefinately (as well as being unsightly, it is often very sore), but I also appreciate that for Ansen, this is probably the best choice.  When I had all my other surgeries, Ansen was a newborn and could stay in the hospital with me and Doug, bc all he did was sleep and eat.  He is still exclusively nursed (well with table food) and he hasn't had a bottle since my surgery in September.  Even with the least invasive method, they said I would have to stay in hospital for a few days and Ansen would definately not just chill out at hospital like he did as a newborn; he is now a busy, exploring, crawling everywhere, tasting everything ~11 month old.  I don't want our nursing relationship to end right now (or be messed up by us being apart for a few days)....since he is my last baby, it is very special to me.  I have been looking forward to my spring/summer/fall without a wound, and I certainly don't want to have some half done surgery, only to still need more surgery later. 

So that is that; my choice is pretty much made for now.  Just going to wait it out for now.  I asked if this was a dangerous option, but he said that my hernia was so big that "you could stick your head through", and that something that massive doesn't run a huge risk of entrapping intestines and such.  He felt that anything coming through could easily make its way back in. 

Truthfully, I still can't believe thats how my appt went though....I thought for sure that we would schedule something, get it fixed, and that would be that.  I had heard insurance can be like this, but I guess its just truly eye opening that they can play such a huge part in your medical options/own personal health.  This world is crazy. :(  But God hasn't forgotten me, I am sure of this.  So I will just ride this out and see what road we end up at when all is said and done.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thy will be done

The sermon this week was about letting God's will be done in your life; to listen to those whispers in regards to what direction he wants you to head in your life.  Of course, this sermon couldn't have come at a better time....I am on an hourly (gee, almost minutely) battle at times, between what I personally WANT out of life (I want to find some miracle solution to get out of my house NOW and buy a farmhouse in neighboring, farm animal friendly city, and all the farm animals of my dreams, I want to stop being hounded on a daily basis about homeschooling and our family and my life and just enjoy simpleness at its finest)....but I innately feel like God's will is the polar opposite of everything I want for myself.   I have one thing that I feel really strongly that He wants me to do and that he keeps putting on my heart, and I am pretty convinced that leaving our house is not in our cards either (the whole bloom where you are planted thing).   And I appreciate it and I try to accept it and bloom a great big bloom....BUT, hey what can I say, I am human and my own personal will is strong and my own desires always cloud God's will; make is easier to ignore that whisper on my soul.  I am reading a book called  "If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!!"  I am a work in progress and I have to keep learning/accepting this. I had to accept it when I tried ferverently (and failed for quite some time) at having our first child, I had to accept it when I had my fourth boy, I had to accept very much so when I went through placenta percreta and subsequent surgeries.  And I am still learning/accepting that lesson now, with my husband still looking for work, and with my hopes and dreams so big and so unattainable at the moment.   There are quite a few areas of my life that I have become an expert at heeding God's whispers...or putting them off for a short while. But truth be told, the sermon this week was my reminder; my kick in the butt.  I need to fully hand over the controls of my life to God, and let us His will be done with our life...and let those whispers of His on my heart grow like Ansen ultimately did! 

Thy will be done
On Earth, as it is in Heaven.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fitting in...

Its so easy to desire to be part of the "in crowd" of this world.  Its comfortable to not be an outsider and its certainly great for your self esteem.  But is it good for spiritual growth to always feel comfortable and at ease-is the good life/being popular/fitting into the norm the way to go to get where you ultimately want to be?  I don't know.  I have found that when I am most comfortable, I have not wanted to change much in my life...I felt very content as is and changed very little spiritually.   And then when I have done the most outlandish, out of the norm things, leading us to a not so comfortable/easy going period in my life, I have exponentially grown spiritually in such amazing/rich ways, that I don't even recongize the person I am today. 

I have come to the conclusion that for me, I want to stick out like a sore thumb.  I want our family to march to the beat of a different drummer.  Of course, I also want to work my hardest to always act with Christ like behavior (and really want my children and husband to exhibit the same qualities).  But I want to fight that desire to fit in; that desire that we are innately born with.  I have spent the last few years, following my heart, but also wanting to fit into the crowd and wondering why we so sorely stuck out.  I have come to the realization that you can't have both.  But you know what, in the end... I don't want to be comfortable.  In my experiences, with comfort, our spiritual growth slows to almost a halt.  I don't think God wants us to live a simply comfortably, self pleasing life.  We are meant to continually step out of our comfort zone-both learning from the experience ourselves and hopefully teaching others a little here or there as we head along a new, less traveled road that continually enlighten our spirituality.  So as we continue to travel this path called life, don't be surprised if our family chooses the most out of the norm/least popular route; the path covered over with brambles, the long and winding unknown route that leads to who knows where.  Yep thats where we will be....and feel free to join us!! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Grow where you are planted

Every day is a new challenge and a new life lesson to either learn or to use.  And my life lesson lately has been to remind myself that I need to grow where I was planted.  I am human; I am jealous at times.  Everyone around me has bigger houses and bigger yards.  We bought our house at the peak of the market and get a little house for a lot of money.  And now you can get a LOT of house and yard for a little money.  My grandfather's house is for sale, and it includes 4.5 acres...for 180,000.  Our house was 187,000 for .10 acre of land.  Doug and I always wanted a farm, but I gotta tell you that its probably hard to have even the tiniest pseudo farm on .10 acre of land.  Sometimes I find myself getting jealous and wondering why our life lead us here and how its SOOOOO not conducive to our dreams.  Its hard not to compare with others and wish for a redo.  But comparison is the thief of joy. 

I remind myself daily that God put us here for a reason.  None of this is a surprise in His perfect plan for us.   He planted our seeds here, and now its time for us to grow and thrive, to taking on the challenge of living out our dreams as best as we can for the time being.  For we aren't ever promised a tomorrow.  We may think we are invincible, and make all these big plans and dreams for our tomorrows...but in doing so, we waste away the gift of today-the gift of this moment in time, right in front of our noses.   Today is here, and this is what God has blessed us with today, and we are going to extract every ounce of promise and potential we have been afforded here.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  I don't have time to worry about all those tomorrows, when I have this big, beautiful today right in front of me-blossoming with promise.  We are going to create our own little (and I mean LITTLE) backyard homestead and make a space that makes some of our simpler dreams come true and and gives God the thanks.  An outdoor space that we can work for food, an outdoor space that we can play in, and an outdoor space that we can simply sit outside in, hear the birds in, feel the breezes in, and reflect on the small, sweet blessings and rewards of life.  Small spaces don't have to be the end of big dreams. 

My house is small, my yard is small, but God knows where I live.