Monday, November 20, 2017

Thankful for the time we have

I remember being single and my married friends telling me, “If you think you’re busy now, just wait til you’re married.”  After being married, I realized the truth of this statement.

After being married a short time, I remember my married-with-kids friends saying, “If you think you’re busy now, just wait til you have kids.

The truth of this statement miraculously became a reality seven months ago (today) when our daughter was born.

Lily has brought with her an untold number of reasons to almost instantly stop doing whatever I am doing, and give her my full attention.


Adding another person to your life, whether through marriage or birth, definitely requires one to take time away from what one might want to do or even need to do, and truly devote time to that person.

But the truth is that we should never regret the time we spend with someone else.

My Aunt Gayle modeled this for me in how she spent time with her husband.

My Uncle Glenn would often go out to his workshop and work on something – using his hands and creative mind to build a toy for his kids or grandkids, using his knowledge and tools to fix something.

I remember several of my aunts gave me a charm bracelet before I left for S. Asia.  My Uncle Glenn soldered the charms together so they wouldn’t fall off.

At one point, he began carving Nativity scenes out of wood, to give as wedding gifts to his nieces and nephews. Later on his son and daughter worked together to make one for my Aunt Gayle. And then, after that my Aunt Gayle taught herself to make them - the one we have is one she made.

Whatever my Uncle Glenn was working on, I think it must have often been for others. He wanted to help, or wanted to bring joy in some way.

My Aunt Gayle told me that she would frequently go out into the workshop while he worked.

I asked her what she did out there.  She said for the most part she would go out, simply to be with Uncle Glenn.

My Uncle Glenn passed away 6 years ago, on November 21.  It was just a few days before Thanksgiving.  He had an aggressive cancer that took his life suddenly within about a month’s time.

I know that my Aunt Gayle cherishes those moments she followed the Lord’s leading to spend her time with her husband.

She didn’t just leave the dishes or laundry or other necessary tasks, but also left her own personal agenda of how she could spend her time, and was just there -- for her husband

This Thanksgiving week, I want to remember my Uncle Glenn, and how, even though he was a quiet man, his intentional actions communicated sincere love for his family and others.

I think about my Aunt Gayle, who must be missing Uncle Glenn so much today and this week especially - but of course she has missed him so much every single day for the past 6 years.

It is true, after having a baby, I am "more busy," relatively speaking, as Lily does honestly require so much of my time. Yet she fills my heart with joy that I didn't know existed.

My time may be shorter, but my life is fuller in so many incredibly wonderful ways because of her.

This Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for Lily, for my husband, Jason, and for our families and friends -- and the time that we have together.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Eat all the stuff, wear all the things

Growing up, I learned to “save the best for last.”

I believe it was in the context of eating, and thus I still apply this to just about every meal I eat.  Whatever part of my meal I am most looking forward to, I save til the end.

Of course, by then it is cold and probably not as good as it once could have been.  Still. It was the best and so it must be saved for last.

Lately, this concept has taken over. And is ruining my life.

For example, today. My husband decided to cook some soup/stew/goulash – actually I’m still not quite sure how to classify it. But that’s beside the point. He made it around 11:30am. Now, in my mind, if you get out pots and pans, you brown some meat, and you hand mince garlic, that means dinner. It should be saved for later. It definitely wouldn’t be eaten for a weekend lunch meal.

But of course Jason, and probably anyone else who had just invested a bit of time preparing a meal, wants to eat it now.

I proceed to argue, just a little, about how we should save that gourmet meal for dinner and find something else to eat for lunch. But a piece of me knows, of course, it would be more satisfying to eat it now.

It’s ready now; it’s fresh now; it would be good now. So why is it so hard for me to embrace the idea of eating it now?

Here’s another example. Recently I bought a couple new shirts. They’re different, they’re new, they’re going to be fun to wear. And yet, an internal voice chants, “save it for something special.”

Honestly, I have two other shirts in my closet I purchased over 3 years ago for “something special.” I have never worn them. Does this mean I never do anything special? Of course not!  My life is filled with all kinds of special things, for which to wear fun clothes.

But in those moments, I tend to drift towards outfits I have worn before, because, for some reason, I feel like I need to save my new clothes for something else. But for what, I couldn’t say.

Why is it so hard for me to enjoy wonderful things that are happening now?

Why do I feel the need to suffer first before I enjoy something?

Is it so wrong to have dessert first once in a while?

Saving the best for last does not automatically mean that whatever is 'right now" is of no value.

I painted a rock a couple years ago that reads: “The best is yet to come.” This is of course a comforting and hopeful thought when we think about our eternal home in Heaven.

What's ironic is at the same time, I painted another rock that reads: "Treasure the moment."

Yet, it wasn't until just now that I realize these statements are in complete opposition to each other. By dwelling on the thought that the best thing is coming sometime in the future, the current moment is actually unable to be treasured!  Good grief Elizabeth.

There are times when we are to be in the moment and treasure it.  In fact, as a mother, I'm learning that this should be most moments in life. It's really the only way. I admit I need to work on that.

There are other times, hard times, when the present moment is suffocating and sad.  In these situations, the future hope, joy and glory of being face-to-face with Jesus is perhaps the most comforting and best thought. Honestly, I need to work on that one too.

So, once again, it's a both/and.  It's a grey area. It's not a straightforward "only think about now," or "only think about the future." It is think about both all the time :)

But for now, for me, because I tend to error on the side of 'saving the best for last' and neglecting to savor what is in front of me, I'm going to go ahead and eat all the stuff, and wear all the things.  Because honestly, when the best does come, it will be a moment to treasure!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Just a little bit at a time

I’ve wanted to write so much since Lily was born about this and that, and all the things you encounter in the first months of motherhood.

Alas, Lily is almost 6 months old and this is only the second time I've sat down to write.

Still, it is representative of the topic I want to write about.

That is, the idea of how so much of my life now happens 'just a little bit at a time.'

To be honest, motherhood has severely threatened my black and white, all-or-nothing mindset.

You see, most of my world simply cannot function that way anymore.  Not that it was the best or ideal way to live before.  But it's just how it was.

The tasks I used to be able check off in one sitting now take 2 days, if I'm lucky.  Before, I feel like I wouldn't stop something until it was finsihed. Now, I feel I am constantly starting everything, and seemingly finishing nothing.

But, things can and will happen.
It just looks different than before.
It now happens just a little bit at a time.
I live in a new, wonderful world where everything I do is very likely to be interrupted by the most amazing gift God has given me (next to my husband of course).

And here is where I'll stop, because Lily is waking up...and I get to go get her!  My most favorite part of the day is just about to happen!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Balance of All or Nothing

I thought that when I became a mother, my "hard-and-fast," "black-and-white," "all-or-nothing" personality will mellow out a little bit.

Perhaps there is still time, but so far, it seems to only have become more extreme.

Jason recently summarized it this way, "When we got married, you wanted to be the best wife you could be, and have the best marriage. That is a good thing, but your desire to have everything perfect was stealing your joy.  Eventually, you relaxed a little bit.  Now that you're a mom, you want to be the best mom you can be, and try to do everything right. That's a good thing.  But it is also stealing your joy in the moment. Eventually, you will settle down again."

I have a fear of failure, a fear of doing something wrong, a fear of imperfection.

Thus, I want to do all I can to prevent the inevitable.

I have failed, and will fail again.
I have done things wrong, and will do things wrong again.
I have never been perfect, and never will be, this side of Heaven.

Yet, I try to control. I try to manage. I try to organize.

So that things work out. So that things go right. So that things are perfect - that is, from my perspective.

But I am an imperfect human being - so everything I do has at least an ounce of imperfection in it.

Accepting and embracing my fallen state is humbling for me, and not something I do very well.  But it is something that marriage and now motherhood is slowly and painfully helping me figure out.

God is daily stripping down my stubborn, sinful, strong-willed attitude.

But He is doing it in such a gracious way.  He has given me a joyful little girl and an incredibly patient and happy husband.

I can't help but thank the Lord for his goodness to me.

So, while part of me often discontentedly wishes for more or less or something, the other part of me realizes I have exactly what I need, and am growing into exactly who God wants me to be.

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In the waiting

As I wait for our daughter to enter the world, I have to say it is the most surreal time of my life.

And the fact that we are now going on 41 weeks and 4 days (i.e. 11 days overdue so far), the waiting and unsteady emotions intensify the limbo feeling that I've been in for a while now.

All of the following thoughts have run through my mind the past week, most of them in the same day, within minutes of each other.  Then they repeat.

We are going to have a baby!!! - Said with nothing but pure joy and excitement.
We are going to have a baby! - Thought with fear and trepidation.
She's going to come at any minute.
She's never going to come.
At the same time, it is inevitable.  Unlike a final exam which you could just skip.  Or unlike a party or event, which you could walk out of, at this point, the labor and delivery of a baby is inevitable, unless, of course, Jesus comes back before then.
We shouldn't make any plans in case labor does start.
We should go ahead and make lots of plans so we have something to do while we wait!
But, still get lots of rest and sleep cause that's what everyone says we should do.
I might as well try castor oil.
I should definitely never try castor oil.
I should get done all the things I wanted to get done before she is born. - Somehow, there are still things to do, pretty sure there always will be.
I don't want to do anything.
I want to do everything.

2 weeks ago, I thought the big event in my life was labor.  Now, I feel like the big accomplishment in my life will be having survived waiting for 2 weeks.

But in reality, the 'bigger' event is still yet to come.  Labor, in whatever form it happens, is literally just around the corner.

I have two doctor's appointments today - a Non Stress Test to check everything with Baby Eno, and a check for me.

If anything is wrong, we'll do the induction right away, today.

Assuming everything is fine, a medical induction is scheduled for Saturday, which will be 41 weeks, 6 days.

At the end of the day, I will only sleep in my bed 2 more nights (max) before going to the hospital and Lord willing, coming home a few days later with our daughter.

At the end of the day, a week from now, by God's grace, we will have had our daughter already for a few days.

Even though I thought we would already be in that place by now, and even though we've had more than 9 months to think about it, it's still an insanely crazy and thrilling thought!

And the end of the day, the waiting is almost over.

She is almost here.

Could anything be more exciting!?

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.  Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!  But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.1 Chronicles 29:11-15

Thursday, March 2, 2017

One year ago, we started the next phase...

One year ago this week (March 2, 2016) Jason and I signed papers for the next phase of our infertility journey.
I might not have remembered this exact day, except that I documented it in my Bible.  I (almost) read through the whole Bible last year, and am doing it again this year with Jason – although we realized it may take us 2 years at the pace we are going.
A week ago, we approached Exodus 13.  God had just freed the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt.  As we read it, I saw a note in the margin and was reminded of how the Lord also lead Jason and me in a round-about way to where we were in that moment.

The Scripture says:
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. – Exodus 13:17-18
The Lord knew that leading the Israelites by the way of the Philistines (the enemy) would be shorter and more direct.  But it would not be the best for the people – their faith was perhaps not as strong and not ready for that experience.  So, God in his mercy lead them by the longer route, around the Enemy.  At first, this seems so gentle and kind of God to care for His people by not giving them more than they could handle.
But what happens next?  The RED SEA!?
Did God think that coming up on the Red Sea would not scare His people?  Would going by the Enemy camp really have been that bad?  Surely the Israelites could have at least fought their way through, whereas the Red Sea meant death.  What was God thinking?
First, the Israelites didn’t even know that God led them away from the Enemy.  God just did that without the people realizing.  They weren’t even aware of His protection of them by leading them around.  I’m so glad that this detail is included here for us to see how God works for us and for His glory in ways we don’t even know about!
Second, I think the best part of this is that God knew all along that He was bringing them to the Red Sea.  It’s almost comical, because the people are so afraid and even angry by their arrival at the impassable water, but God is totally in control and of course was aware from the beginning of time that He would be leading them to this point.
How quickly we forget He lead them there.  Therefore, it’s his ‘problem’ to figure out. Of course, it’s not a problem from God’s perspective, but rather a divine opportunity to show His power.
The text could have easily said, “God did not lead them by the way of the Enemy camp because they were not ready, in their own strength, to figure that out.  And also that would not have brought God as much glory as the second option.  So instead, God lead them to the Red Sea so that they would not even need to fight – instead the Lord would part the waters.  Thus his people would be taken care of far better than they would have if they had to fight an Enemy AND He would receive all the glory.”
He is God after all.
As I read my note from last year, and as I think about all the movements the Lord lead us through getting from there to where we are now, I can’t help but acknowledge His wisdom and His goodness to us.
Yet, the decisions of this past year were not made without struggle.  And I know there will still be reacting and rebelling to different situations ahead of us.  Unfortunately, we are not that different from the Israelites.
To be honest, both Jason and I have questioned God at different times along this journey and with different aspects of it.  We have wondered about God’s plan.  We have thought we knew better.
Thankfully, God is merciful and good and while He is with us in our struggle, he does not leave us there.  Like with the Israelites, He has a plan that is far better for us, and will bring Him greater glory.
He leads us, guides us and ultimately parts the seas for us that we might see Him more clearly and acknowledge that He is God through it all.
As Jason and I are on the edge of becoming parents, my anxiety and worry has increased in anticipation of our future.
Still, even in my deepest fears, I am unable to forget God’s faithfulness to us.
I have documented much of our journey – primarily for those moments of doubt, those days of confusion, those nights of frustration.
To remember His presence has always been, and will always be with us, just like the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to guide the Israelites.
And just like he paved the way for the Israelites, even in the midst of their fear and doubt, He won’t stop leading, guiding and drawing us to Himself today.
His plans for us are good, and we can trust Him.
*After writing this post, I heard this song, and it's become a favorite to mark this season in my life*
Red Sea Road - by Ellie Holcomb

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It will get worse before it gets better...

That's essentially what my doctor told me when I asked her about a variety of third trimester struggles.

The past two nights have been yet again challenging in terms of sleeping. Everything I've read, and everyone I talked to says the same thing: "This is normal and just preparation for what is to come."

So much to look forward to!

But I mean this in the most positive way.  While there are hard things about this phase of life, knowing the reason for it is life-giving, even in the midst of feeling sleep deprived. There are many hard things in life we experience that we don't ever know the reasons for, or at least we generally can't understand the reasons prior to experiencing them.
Pregnancy is a constant reminder of what is involved when new-life is created, with labor and delivery as the pinnacle.
But so much of growing and birthing and caring for a baby happens on the side, behind the scenes.

The unspoken things that your body goes through during pregnancy, are just one example of the hidden sacrifices of mommies everywhere.  I'm only just beginning to understand some of them.  And no, I can't say I embrace them fully 24 hours/day.  I need the Lord's help even now to see and embrace His hidden treasures for me in what are truly relatively minor third trimester woes.
In the same way, I will need his help in the middle of the night 3 months from now when I will want to give up on breastfeeding.  I will need his help in the middle of the day when Baby Eno decides to cry uncontrollably and I can't get her to stop.  I will need his help when Jason and I disagree on parenting, or anything else for that matter and lack of sleep makes what might be a minor issue feel like life and death.
It scares me how much I will need the Lord, and how much I already need Him now in ways I didn't even a few months ago.  And yet, it comforts me because He is the only one who can provide the help, the comfort and yes, the discipline I need.
Am I ready to grow, just like this little one is growing inside me right now?  Am I ready to be fed, to be changed, to be held, to be loved in all new ways by my Heavenly Father?
Even though you get 9 months to prepare for it, I am sure I am not ready.  But Jesus is ready, and has been from the beginning of time.  He can't wait :-) He knows it is good for me.
As we have throughout this journey in particular, we will continue to ask the Lord daily for help, and for guidance.  I will ask others to pray the same for me.
I know I will not always receive His care with humility, or happiness. But I will trust Him and what He is doing.  He has already proven himself to me throughout my life, and this is just one more thing He is doing.
And there is no doubt, this will be life-changing.
It's true, here on earth, a variety of things might get worse before they get better, but no matter what, when God gives me a taste of a heavenly perspective, the best is always yet to come!

The night may be filled with tears, but in the morning we can sing for joy!
- Psalm 30:5


Thankful for the time we have

I remember being single and my married friends telling me, “ If you think you’re busy now, just wait til you’re married. ”  After being ma...