That. Was the Fastest Year Ever

This year was the fastest year of my life.

It didn’t necessarily feel that was when Cora was two months old and I was so sleep deprived that I was questioning my own sanity all day long, but as a whole, this year sped by like none I have experienced before.  Maybe that’s what happens with each new child that enters your family.  If so, then any more kids is going to send me straight to my fortieth birthday.

This year, while it was exhausting at times and full of total joy and silliness in others, was one of deep growth for me.  This is the first year out of my life where I experienced God come into my anxiety and depression and I’ve been living in more freedom there than ever before.  But more on that in a minute.

Bridge-City-View

Rio Vista has been growing on me.  I still sometimes wish for the conveniences that come with living in a more affluent city.  I still wish there were more places to go and things to do and a place besides the grocery store where I might bump into someone I know.  I still wish the local parks had bathrooms and shade.  I still wish there was something to hike nearby.  However, despite all that is lacking in this small town, there is a lot that I’ve come to appreciate.  I like that when I drive down the street, people I don’t even know throw me a little wave and some of the older men still tip their hats.  I like how we don’t live right next to tons of shopping malls and chain stores and have to fight our way through traffic to get anywhere.  I like that I can put my kids in the stroller and walk almost anywhere in town.  I like how on Friday nights in the fall I can hear the cheering from the high school football game as I sit in my living room.  I like driving on the highway through peaceful fields of cattle and sheep.  I like the herds of turbines and how on our drives as we see them out in the distance we say, “Turbines mean we’re almost home.”

FullSizeRender (37)

maxresdefault

Like I mentioned earlier, this year I experienced a huge breakthrough in my struggle with anxiety and depression.  Throughout my life and Christian journey, it’s been something that has continued to come up.  At times it’s been minimal and during others it’s felt like life was swallowing me up and there was no way out. I’ve tried managing it through getting more sleep, exercise, supplements and medication, but while some of those things helped, they never cured it, only helped me cope.

1496658_10101604878308073_7450334009741557407_n

After I had Cora, my anxiety was high.  The lack of sleep combined with the new tall order of expectations made me feel like I was spinning out of control.  I was on edge because for a while it felt like my whole day revolved around keeping kids from crying.  Feed the baby. Make the kid breakfast. Hold the baby. Clean up breakfast. Make a cup of coffee. Get the kid dressed.  Feed the baby.  Clean up spit up.  Put on baby wrap.  Start a load of laundry.  Heat up cold coffee in microwave.  And on and on it went.  With no family or close friends living in our small town, at times I felt so alone.  Who was there, besides my also sleep deprived husband, to help pick up my slack?  Who was going to offer to swing by for an hour to visit just to boost the morale in our home?   There is nothing quite like the cry of an infant to make you want to jump out of your own skin.

So during this time I struggled.  I just didn’t want everything to feel so hard all the time.  I longed for some rest and peace of mind.  Another thing that was difficult for me during all this was knowing how to view my struggle.  Was it depression?  Well, sometimes I did feel depressed.  I would wake up physically exhausted and lacking any motivation to get through the day, but it didn’t last for weeks or months on end like I saw in the commercials.  Oftentimes it was a day here or a day there or just for a few hours at a time.  Was it anxiety?  Sometimes I definitely felt anxious.  Some days were full of it, but then on other days I felt great!  I’d suddenly have tons of energy and a surge of tenacity.  On those days I would accomplish a lot and make up for the days on which I barely scraped by.  Was it a mild case of bi-polar?  I had one psychiatrist agree that it could be that after I told her about my days which were very up and then very down.  However, through all of this I was frustrated because I didn’t really know what my problem was.  I wanted to call it something.  Having a name for it might help me find peace, but none of the titles seemed to be an accurate diagnosis.

10171695_10101784437360293_3145002223358380603_n

When Cora was six months old, a new friend invited me to a women’s workshop on a Saturday morning at church.  I hadn’t planned on going, but I was eager to get to know this new friend more so I decided to join her.  When the workshop started, the worship band took the stage for a time of singing.  It was during this time of worship that the Lord spoke two extremely powerful things to me.

11128756_10101821855119803_5513894890065164518_n

He said, “You’re my Cora.”  Something so personal that it could have only come from my Maker.

And he also said, “Whatever it’s called, I will lead you out.”  Again, so personal that only the Lover of my Soul could have known I needed to hear those words.

I didn’t walk out of that workshop instantaneously healed, but for the first time in my life I really believed the Lord was with me in that struggle.  Even though he had brought me out of so much already in the past, for some reason I doubted whether or not God could help me in that area.  It had been something I’d dealt with for such a long time that I wondered if this was just something I was going to have to carry forever…  But his words to me showed me that he understood my inner confusion about what I was dealing with and that he had a plan.

I left the workshop with new hope.  I didn’t know HOW God would lead me out, but I was certain that he would do what he said.  That next season was one where I tried to memorize scripture like I never had before.  I don’t consider myself great at memorizing things, but through the trying the Lord brought me into more freedom than I had ever experienced in this area.  I wrote Bible verses on 3×5 note cards and stuck them to my bathroom mirror, next to my bed and on the cupboards above the sink because let’s be real, the most time I have to read all day long is while I’m doing the dishes.  I stopped being a total victim to my emotions and I started to experience how God’s Word CAN in fact shape my emotional life, little by little, if I will keep putting it in the forefront of my mind.  I also read Stronghold by Beth Kinder, the woman who spoke at the workshop.  Her stories and inspiration also coached me on how to believe the Word as being more powerful than my emotions.

IMG_9619

From this past year, the first year of having two small children, I can say that motherhood is messy.  So much messier than I anticipated.  I am more messy than I anticipated; both my home and my appearance at times, but especially the interactions that go on throughout out our days.  There are a lot of sorrys and will you forgive mes.  Lots of outbursts and not enough caffeine to help us on the hard days.

And yet, these years are intentional.  They must be.  Why would God make it so that no matter how type-A you are, there are so many moments that are going to break you in motherhood?  Success in these years cannot be measured by how clean your floors are or by how stylish your clothes or your hair look.  Success cannot be measured by whether the bed is made or the fridge is stocked.  Of course we pursue these things and feel good when we accomplish them and of course we’d like to feel like we have it all together all of the time. Of course.

But success in these years is forged in the dark.  Not always in the literal dark, but there too because when you’re up late and then up again early to care for your baby the presence of God is there with you.  In the dark, when you’re stuck at home most of the day because your children are napping or crabby and you wish you could be anywhere else – anywhere with more people around.  In the dark, when you flop it up and act like a toddler yourself in front of your children, but instead of just walking away, you humble yourself and ask that tiny person to forgive you.  In the dark, when you work so hard to clean up a room, only to have it destroyed again the following day or even moments later.  In the dark, when the dishes and laundry never end.  In the dark, when nobody is praising or even noticing all your hard work, nobody except for God.

God must know that the work that is done in a mother’s heart during the moments or the periods that are overwhelming and lonely cannot be done anywhere else.  God can’t reach your heart when you think you’re fine; when your life’s activities shine with perfection and spin effortlessly.  God forges perseverance, love, humility, tenacity, gentleness and strength during these times when you think that there is no possible way you can wake up and do this all again tomorrow.  During these messy years God can form gold in the heart of a mother.  The kind of stuff that she will use year after year after year once she posses it.  That is what success looks like when you’re a mother of small children.  Grace, grace, grace defines you.  More grace for yourself and more grace for others is success.

IMG_1292

As for the birthday girl, she’s snuggly, adventurous and has an obsession with my hair.  When she’s sleepy she likes to grab it and rub it all over her face.  She has the deepest ocean blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair.  She already has eight teeth and two more on the way and it seems like she is constantly eating.

Cameron is obsessed with airplanes and captures my heart daily when he always finds an opportunity to pick me a flower from the grass or bring me a “special leaf” if he can’t find a flower.

Both my kids have unusually loud voices.  Both are precious, fun and just weird enough to be Kidwells.  Being their mom is sweet and difficult and totally worth it.

11027936_10102054693774273_289276646605642871_n

IMG_1228

 

 

Advertisements

Loving Our Kids On Purpose

loving our kids lg

A couple months ago Jon and I were looking to join a small group through our church.  Our church has small groups that go in semesters and that are topical.  So after browsing through the available groups online we decided to check out a group that was for parents of young children.  The group would be reading through a book called Loving Your Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk of Bethel Church and childcare would be provided; which may have been the selling point for us.

The book and coinciding DVDs that we’ve watched have been great so far and the people in the group have become fast friends that we’ve been very thankful to know.

To summarize the book:

-The idea that we can control our children is a lie
-If we spend our time dictating to our children, they become dependent on being told what to do rather than developing the ability to make good choices on their own
-The Bible says “there is no fear in love,” so how do we parent in love instead of instilling fear of punishment in our children?
-Parents need not be afraid of their children’s sin.  God is not afraid of our sin.  He deals with it and loves us through it.
-God does not control us.  He gives us choices and employs us to make the right ones.
-Parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and handle their own mistakes (with some guidance of course), without jumping in to rescue the children from natural consequences
-Children need the opportunity to make choices.  “Would you like to eat your carrots or broccoli first?  Do you want to drink water from the red cup or from the green cup?  Do you want to wear this shirt or that one?  Do you want to climb off the table yourself or would you like me to help you?”  These kinds of everyday choices empower your child to make decisions and grow in confidence.
-Nobody likes to be told what to do, even small children.  So framing things in a way that give the child ability to feel in control and exercise their freedom keeps your child from wanting to overpower you.
-Children who are dictated to and controlled often rebel later on.  Once they get a taste of freedom go crazy because they were never trained how to properly handle their freedom.
-Parents need to first learn to control themselves and not let themselves get so wrapped up in their children’s problems that they take on anxiety and anger.
Main Point of the book: It’s all about maintaining an intimate relationship with your children.  Relationship is the basis for parenting, discipline and training…not to just get your kid to do what you want them to do.  This is also how God relates to us.

That is just my loose summary of the book so far.  The DVD is great because Danny Silk gives lots of entertaining examples from life with his own kids about what it looks like to actually carry this out.

 

 

I Don’t Like You, First Trimester

I have yet to meet a first trimester that I liked.

But since this one is nearly over I’m starting to have a sense of hope about feeling better.

I’ve avoided writing blogs lately, mostly because I haven’t felt well enough to compose any kind of thoughts, but also because I’ve been fearful of sounding like a cynical, miserable person.  I’m extremely thankful for this pregnancy, but until my daily existence isn’t focused around keeping my nausea at bay or muddling enough energy to make another snack, it really is difficult to invest my energy into anything else.

In the midst of all this first trimester sickness there has been a lot that has happened in our lives since we arrived in Rio Vista nearly three months ago.  Our home is looking put together and nearly feels complete, Cameron has started chatting up a storm and Jon keeps coming home every day in dirty clothes and speaking more and more Spanish.  I decided that I want to have a garden this year so I bought an incredible book on gardening, read a few pages and then handed over the reigns to Jon to get it all started since I was feeling too sick to help out at all.  This is honestly how many of our home improvement projects go (even when I’m feeling well): I provide some inspirational idea and then when I can’t figure out how to put it into motion I ask Jon to finish it.  Teamwork baby.  So I watched a movie today and sipped apple juice to keep from puking while Jon spent the afternoon building us a planter box for our future little garden.

This is how it turned out:
photo (90)We planted four tomato plants, yellow bell peppers, zucchini, a spot for some sugar snap peas to go in and then some herbs in pots and a beautiful little lime tree just outside our back door.

Besides our list of home projects that seems to be growing instead of shrinking, we’ve been capitalizing on my better moments to get more acquainted with our new church and small group.  Church is located forty minutes away and we are getting used to longer drive times for just about everything including shopping, doctor visits and the kind of restaurants we’re accustomed to and like.

Maybe one of the most inconvenient things about our new small-town home is that there is a very limited variety of foods.  This is my first trimester self’s worst nightmare.  One grocery store, a couple Mexican eateries, pizza parlour, Subway, McDonalds, hotdog truck, burrito truck and some diners.  The health conscious person in me wants to run away screaming. The desperate to eat something this minute pregnant person has taken more than a few trips through the McD’s drive-thru to get a Value Menu fry and a Coke.  Then, when we got out of town, I try and get my fill of Pho, farm fresh and Starbucks while I can.

photo (88)
1982100_10152303881827812_2115907285_n

I have a love/hate relationship with my town right now.  I love the character of this place: the draw bridges, the slow-sailing ships, the beautiful country side and back country roads full of sheep and tall white turbines.   The Sacramento River is beautiful and there’s a few river beaches close by with campgrounds providing some inexpensive fun.  I like that life here feels simple.  I like that we don’t live next door to a huge shopping mall center.  However, some days I can’t stand it here.  On the days when I wake up and realize I need to run an errand out of town I get discouraged about how much time and effort it’s going to take just to get an errand or two done.  I think if there could just be a decent coffee shop in town, maybe even with a river view, I could see myself really experiencing a new level of acceptance in my heart.  The only “coffee shop” here is the espresso machine in the back of the video rental store…

Downtown Rio Vista:
Downtown_Rio_Vista

Cameron is well and doing so great with the fact that I’m often not feeling well most of the time.  Many times when he finds me laying down he says, “Mom not feeling well?  Mom have baby?”  And that pretty much sums it up.  I am really, really hoping my second trimester brings more energetic days and maybe even some space of mind that can be put to good use.

 And this is how we change diapers when mom is queasy:
photo (87)

A doctor’s mask and a drop of essential oil – saves the day!

Hello From The Other Side!

Helllloooooo from the other side!

This is my husband, who is now a college grad!

1468711_10101100833637633_346842565_n

He was in line beside the really tall guy, which made him easy to spot in the crowd of graduates.  Cameron managed to last about 45 minutes seated, which just barely got us through the keynote speaker, before he got squirmy and awkward glances started coming my way from other attenders.  So for the rest of the ceremony I chased Cameron up and down a large ramp and kept poking my head inside the door of the upstairs balcony to make sure that it wasn’t Jon’s turn yet.  

When he walked across the stage I swear it was like watching him walk across dry land through the Red Sea.  My husband did something that I don’t think many people could do.  Three years of holding down a stressful full-time job while going to school at a public school that’s often compared to the Ivy League ones and still managing to be a good husband to the mother of a newborn, turned adventurous toddler.  At times when I was having an especially hard day either physically or emotionally, Jon would skip a class to come home and help.  He would say, “I want you to know that you always come first.”  Then he would either trust that the Lord would help him make up what he missed in the class and/or he would stay up until 2 a.m. to finish the homework he could have completed earlier, but chose to have dinner and help put Cameron to bed instead.

During the last three years, our marriage has deepened a lot.  For me, the most significant thing I’ve experienced is a deep confidence that my husband will do anything for me and for our family (except cook meth, because we watched Breaking Bad so we know how that would turn out).  I wasn’t worried when I married him, but now I’ve seen in action that I do not ever need to doubt my husband’s commitment.  I’m sure during difficult times in our future where I’m crazy angry or in a season of dryness I will look back on this time and be reminded of my husband’s love and intention toward me.

1474624_10101101078601723_2140118653_n

Something I’m really thankful for right now:  The fact that these two are finally going to have some quality time together!  And the timing is perfect because Cameron will turn two next week and he is in a stage where Jon can play with him and teach him how to do new things now.  Cameron is an observer and when he witnesses someone doing something, he immediately wants to try it himself.  I can already see him having a great work ethic as he grows up because when he’s trying to do something he is unwilling to stop until he’s succeeded.  This is a trait that he can thank Jon’s DNA for.

1463713_10101101074774393_880590607_n

Even though all this mushy stuff is very true, to be perfectly honest, our last week in San Luis Obispo was terrible.  Jon had bronchitis and barely slept in order to finish his final papers and cram for finals, I came down with the flu, the only piece of “furniture” left in our apartment was an air mattress (flu+air mattress=the worst combination ever), Cameron was fussy and hardly napping because all his toys were gone and our apartment felt chaotic since we were living out of suitcases, and on top of all this we were trying to clean our apartment, get the last bits of our random stuff shoved into our cars and then run to the store to grab another on-the-go meal when we realized none of us had eaten yet that day.  Plus there was a graduation party to be had – which would have been cancelled had two of my sweetest friends not taken over on the day of, done the shopping and basically made it all happen.

So the day before this lovely family photo was taken I had a 104 degree fever and each person in our family was pretty much falling apart.  We all basically crawled to the finish line.  Then the day we left San Luis Obispo I came down with Bronchitis and then spent my first two weeks in our new home on the couch and miserable.  It’s been a month now and I’m still coughing frequently.

BUT, THANK YOU LORD that somehow my sicknesses subsided during graduation day and the day after while we went to church for the last time in SLO and then had the long-awaited graduation party.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Being on the other side is full of possibilities and also some unforeseen challenges.  Something I didn’t expect was the frustration that can happen when two people who have been living one way suddenly get thrown into a new environment.  We went from a lifestyle of constant pressure to one where we have three weeks just to hang out together before Jon began his new job.  So lately we’ve experienced a lot of extremes; times of great closeness and also moments of intense anger because in so many ways we are having to get to know each other all over again.  Change makes a Pitbull out of all of us.

However, something incredible we are both feeling is the freedom of possibilities opening up.  For three years now, we have had to talk about things in a “someday” fashion.  As in, “Someday we should talk more about that,” or “When you’re done with school we should…”  But now, all of a sudden there’s the exciting sense that if God asked us to do something today, we could start doing it tomorrow!  So new dreams are opening up and we finally get to make plans for the now.

And Jon really likes his new job.
photo (77)

Cam loves having more room to play.
photo (75)
photo

Side note: The Rhyme Bible is such an awesome Bible for toddlers.  Cam and I have made a habit of waking up in the morning and pouring milk for him and making coffee for me.  Then we sit on the couch, each with our Bibles.  For the first bit of time I remind him it’s quiet reading time, so he flips through the pages and looks at the pictures.  Sometimes he will be done reading before I’m ready to move on so while I finish I’ll ask him to go get out his train set or blocks.  On days where I wake up to a rough start, sometimes I grab my Dr. Sears book on discipline (The Discipline Book) to get some quick practical advice and just pray for the Holy Spirit’s help.

Cameron and his Bible.  They are only about $10 with Amazon Prime.
photo (78)

I’m sharing this because this is the only way I’ve discovered so far for me to carve out some focused time for the Lord in my day during this season.  I know this won’t work when I have school aged kids so I’ll have to find a different method then, but for right now it’s a great way for me to have some nice wake up time in the morning and a way to introduce Cameron to the importance of finding a way to begin the day abiding in God’s love and presence.

photo (50)

One thing I’m excited about is our home and how it is beginning to feel like such a warm and welcoming place.  For the past few years we haven’t been able to host very many people at our place.  Our apartment was small and an awkward layout for guests, so we rarely wanted to have people over.  We still did occasionally, but once Jon was a few weeks into each quarter it became impossible to make plans in the evenings with friends.  He never knew ahead of time how much homework he would have on a certain evening so we had to protect our evenings for school work and for any bit of family time we could get.

But now, now I have a real dining table and a real kitchen that isn’t so overstuffed that items are constantly falling out of cupboards.  So one of my dreams for this year is to make it normal for us to invite people into our home and have new faces around our dinner table.  I also have a goal of making more meals from scratch.  I just discovered a PBS series online called Kitchen Vignettes.  They are 3-ish minute video montages of cooking/baking set to music.  Watch just one and you will be inspired to make something new.

At the moment we are visiting some churches as we pray for the Lord to direct us to a church family that we can call home.  We are eager to find a place where we can start building the kind of relationships with people that will help us grow and experience God more, but in the meantime it’s been great to experience how each church body in unique because of the unique people that comprise it.  Walking into a brand new place and instantly feeling connected to a hundred people that you’ve never met before is so sweet.  It’s incredible how knowing and loving the same person can instantly bond complete strangers.  (Since writing this post, we have actually found a church that felt like home as soon as we walked in.  I’m excited to share more about this sometime soon when I get the chance to write about it).

photo (55)

In case you don’t know, my family just moved to Rio Vista, California.  It’s a lovely rural location, central to San Fransisco, Sacramento and a bunch of other cities like Vacaville, Davis, Antioch, Fairfield and more.  We are discovering more things we love about this area all the time.  It’s fairly close to the mountains, Yosemite and Tahoe.  Many drives take us through beautiful countryside or along the Sacramento river.

Tahoe is just a quick three hour drive away.
photo (76)

In the countryside are wide open fields full of cattle and sheep grazing; many of them the same cattle and sheep that my husband will be overseeing.  Its a fifteen minute drive from our house to the closest Bart stop where we can hop on and it will take us straight into San Fransisco so we won’t have to deal with traffic or ridiculous parking prices.  We are also excited to venture into the mountains to try out some backpacking, fly fishing, hunting and boating on the river.

We were sad to trade in the beaches, but we are finding that there may actually be more opportunities for adventure here; for things we love to do or that we would love to try.  I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m bragging about where we live – I think anytime you move to a new place things feel exciting and fresh and you fall in love with the place, even if later on you end up hating everything about it.  Plus, I think I’m naturally someone who thrives on new environments.  It tends to bring out the best version of myself.

Here’s the spur of the moment late Christmas picture we took last week before we discarded our tree.  I get to be the creative director and set designer for these lovely family photos each year and Jon gets to be the production team and camera man.  This was the first family Christmas photo that didn’t involve someone crying or cussing, so we considered it a success.

photo (74)

Last year we took our photo right at sunset, on big wet rocks at the ocean…

155813_10100618980235713_1319873864_n  The sun was setting quickly, everyone was cold and I kept telling Jon, “You better get this picture right because there is no way we are getting ready and coming out here again to do this!”  On the walk back to the car we were saying to each other how taking a Christmas photo sure hadn’t been a very merry experience.  Yet we do it every year…

We were all actually happy when we took this photo last week after visiting the Sacramento Zoo so I will end on a good note.

photo (65)

Snapshots

If I started talking about how the world is spinning fast and everything is changing, you would stop reading.  Everyone has that story.  Everyone feels like their current life season is a bit crazier than their neighbor’s.

So instead I’ll give you some snapshots.  Since the world is in fact spinning fast, snapshots are really the most time effective way to go anyway.

We move in less than thirty days to a town that is about the size of a Target.  That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it seems like a fitting description anyway.  I never imagined myself living in a small town.  I perceive there to be charming things about it and also many things that make me raise my eyebrows in bewilderment.  “What do you mean there’s no Starbucks…?”  This has already happened.

Speaking of Starbucks, I’ve been drinking a lot of very strong coffee lately.  When life gets strong, my coffee gets stronger.

photo (38)

I’ve been working.  Two days a week or so.  Doing sales on campus at Cal Poly.  I work with my friends and it’s a dream job.  Three months ago, Jon and I had no clue how we would be able to afford these final transition months of him not working and the move.  Then, SHAZAM!  And thank you Jesus.  God provides.  He’s so legit.

photo (32)
photo (36)Our box & pillow maze.  

I finished packing last week.  Everything that could be packed is packed away into our storage unit, ready to be loaded into the moving truck this weekend.  I actually really enjoyed packing.  Going through boxes and drawers and corners of the closets is my specialty.  There’s plenty that I’m not very good at, but just let me say that I am darn good at tackling a messy space.  Like a lawn mower, once I get started I won’t stop until the whole place is mowed down.

photo (35)

photo (34)

We got a hamster.  As if there isn’t enough going on right now…we were bored one Friday night and made a spur of the moment decision to run over to the pet store just before they closed.  His name is Mattress because that is how Cameron pronounces hamster.

photo (40)

I joined a gym.  It’s amazing.  Going to classes with loud music and an upbeat person who tells me what to do so that I don’t have to use my brain at all for an hour is one of the best things for me right now.  And after only a few classes I could already feel my bum firming up, in case you wanted to know.

181448_10151739062970192_1706711623_nMy friends Jen & Brian when they met their daughter, Eliana, for the first time.  Read about their story: Part I, Part II, Part III

We’ve been thinking about adoption.  Beginning a week after my miscarriage, my husband and I both felt wildly open to the idea of adoption and more open to God’s plan for our family than ever before.  Neither of us have ever been people who have seriously considered adoption before.  Of course we like the idea of children finding homes, as everyone does, but lately something has been different in our heart’s gaze on the need.  I started talking to a few friends who have adopted or fostered children.  I wanted to learn more.  I still desire to have more children of my own, but once we move, our plan is to find a local agency to begin the process and see where it goes.  We don’t really know where it will ultimately go, but for now we are going to follow the Lord’s leading that we’ve received and just trust Him.  Oh yeah, and then on Sunday at church there was an announcement that in two weeks from now there will be a luncheon for anyone who wants to learn more about foster care and adoption.  What?!  I’ve been a part of this church for over five years and all of a sudden for the first time ever there’s a luncheon about this.  Again, God is so legit.  So please pray with us.  If that all pans out I’ll probably put together some kind of campaign to raise money.  I hear adoption can cost about $20,000.  But here’s a crazy stat:  There are approximately 400,000 Christian churches in the U.S.  If one family from every church adopted, there would be no more kids without families in our country.  Seriously.
This is one of the adoption stories that has impacted me the most.

photo (41)

Cameron is two months from turning two.  I personally think he’s already turned two, if you know what I mean.  I’ve been meeting more of my angry side lately as the stage of tantrums and the like have set in.  So during one of my prayer times last week this is what I decided – it was either this or get on a boat by myself and sail away for a year.  This is the “Year of Discipline.”  Sounds a bit intense, but really it’s not.

“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” -Proverbs 19:18.

I decided that I’m going to view this next year of Cameron’s life as it should be viewed: as the most influential year of his life so far.  More than any other year`, this year I have the opportunity to shape him and teach him how to handle all the crazy feelings and emotions that he will experience for all his days.  This also means that this is my year of modeling good and healthy responses since that is the most powerful way he will learn.  It means that for a year I am going to get up off the couch to go help him put something down instead of yelling across the room, “Cameron, don’t throw the iPad!”  I am going to help him see how his actions affect others and I am going to give him grace because nobody has the self control to act right all the time.  I am going to put a choke hold on my anger and propensity to yell.  I wish that weren’t the case, but when you grow up in a home with yelling, it isn’t something you can just change overnight.  It’s something that you will work on every day for a year just to see three steps of improvement.  Grace, grace, grace.  This year will be full of grace and the cross of Christ beckoning me to trade in my old broken ways, for a better way.
I read a great blog for moms/women on anger and yelling the other day.  It’s worth the read.  I’m also reading The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears which is amazing!  If you have the idea that discipline and punishment are the same thing, then you should definitely check out this book because it will change the way you view your child and the task of disciplining them.

This weekend, like I mentioned, we are packing up the truck and moving everything besides a couch, an air mattress and Cameron’s crib into our new place.  Then we will be back in San Luis Obispo for two more weeks before it’s time to leave for good.

Snapshots of our new home soon to come.

We Planted A Tree

photo (25)

Today after church, we drove out to my friend Hannah’s family ranch.  We ate lunch at the picnic table beside the pond and we talked with her dad, who always has a few new projects underway at the ranch.  The family ranch is used for retreats for troubled teens among other purposes.  The kids come to learn how to grow, prepare and cook food, shoot BB guns, practice archery and fish.  It’s a beautiful landscape full of tall trees, including her grandfather’s Redwood grove, an apple and pear orchard and lots of crispy fall leaves that crinkle under your feet as you walk.

A few weeks ago when we lost the baby, Hannah’s parents offered to let us come out to the ranch and plant a Redwood tree in remembrance of our daughter.  It seemed like the perfect thing to do.

photo (28)

photo (26)

photo (27)

Since society doesn’t really have a traditional way to honor the life of an unborn baby, we weren’t exactly sure how to go about it.  We knew we wanted to do something special, but couldn’t necessarily decide on what that something should be.  So when Hannah told us about her parent’s offer, we thought it sounded beautiful and gratefully accepted.

Her dad chose a spot among other Redwoods, right next to the pond and our friend Kyle hand-crafted a name plate.

photo (21)

photo (24)

photo (23)

photo (22)

 Everything about the day was lovely and my heart felt full as we drove home.

It’s special to know people who aren’t afraid to come into your grief.  People who stand beside you in your healing and who join in on the joy when it’s time to celebrate.

I miss my baby girl.  I really do.  Even though I never got to meet her, I feel like I knew her.  Whenever I see a pregnant woman in the grocery store or a baby girl being pushed down the street in a stroller or even on TV, my heart does this little twisting thing where for a split second I feel a longing so deep that it goes through the floorboards.

I hope someday to have a baby girl of my own.  Following the miscarriage I told God, partially kidding and partially not, that if I end up with three boys now that I am going to be really pissed.  Like not pissed forever, just pissed for a little while.

Until Jesus comes back I will just have to dream about how beautiful you are sweet Ava Annalise.  xoxoxo, Mom

photo (30)

photo (29)

We’re Moving

SLO2

Five and a half years ago I bought a one way ticket to San Luis Obispo, California.  Seriously, it’s beautiful here.  And this view is only ten minutes from my house…

San-Luis-Obispo2

I felt like God was leading me to come here.

So I did.

The day after I arrived, I met my husband.

I fell in love him, the California Coast and the sunny weather.

My life became more full of good friends, community and Jesus than I had ever experienced before.

Jon and I got married on a beautiful hillside, surrounded by great people.

A year later we found out that Cameron existed.

Honestly, the last five years have been the most wonderful whirlwind, full of ups and downs of course, but shimmering in the light of God’s lavish grace.

And now,

We feel that God is leading us somewhere new.  Northern California, to be more specific.

After Jon has spent the last three years running the gauntlet of working full time and going to school full time, the Lord has provided him with his dream job.  Amen 🙂

He’s going to wear cowboy boots to work and drive a pick-up truck.  He’s going to come home smelling like sheep and cattle.  Jon has always been oddly passionate about sheep and red meat, so the fact that he is transitioning into the Agricultural Industry feels like we got sprinkled with a bit of magic destiny dust.

So our hearts are sad to leave behind a place that we love and people who are dear to our hearts, but we also go with the expectation that letting the Lord lead our lives is always the best, and really the only, option.  So we make the move in December.  We will live in either Davis, Dixon, Rio Vista or Vacaville (all just outside of Sacramento), but we still have a lot of details to figure out.

So goodbye beaches – I will truly miss you! – and hello country swag.

Funny Boy

photo (11)

I showed Cameron the little stuffed monkey I received in the mail yesterday. I said, “Cameron, this is a monkey.  Her name is Baby Sister.  What do you think about that?” He looked up at me, looked back at the monkey, got a big smile on his face and said, “Ewwwwww!” Then he grabbed the monkey out of my hands and threw it off the bed and onto the floor.

I love him.

It made me laugh, picturing him meeting a real baby sister in the hospital and responding with, “Ewwww!”

I’m grateful that somehow my twenty-month-old son is able to infuse this situation with some humor.  He doesn’t know what’s happened.  He just knows that our normal routine has been replaced by him getting to spend many mornings at a some friend’s houses, which he loves.

Right now, Cameron brings me hope.  He truly is the perfect addition to our family.  He came at a time that was unexpected, yet perfect.  My heart aches because I want so badly for him to have a sibling to play with.  Even if I got pregnant tomorrow, it would be a year and a half until his sibling would be mobile and any fun to him.  These are the things that are hard to think on.

But through all of this, my trust in the Lord has only deepened.  I’m quite a long way off from being a modern day Job, but the day after the miscarriage I remember thinking of Job and then saying to myself, “It’s gonna take a whole hell of a lot more than this to make me turn on my God.”

It seems that everyone goes through tragedy.  Some go through it with shallow sentiments of, “Everything will be okay,” and “Time heals all wounds,” and others, like myself, get to go through it will the unchanging, everlasting Word of God and the fierce love and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, I am not a victim, I am blessed.

Grieving is such a strange process.  It seems that each day I am unaware of what lies ahead.  Sometimes I feel normal and happy.  Other times, for no apparent reason I feel drained and immobile.  I’m just trying to take it all as it comes.

The Bible says that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him.  I believe this with all my heart and I feel it in my bones that this situation is an opportunity to see God live up to this in a big way.

And again, I’m grateful for Cameron who gets funnier and weirder and more Kidwell-ish each day.

photo (12)

Sweet Cameron

photo (7)

Sweet Cameron,

Thank you for being happy today.  Thank you for playing with your toys and being content to watch Mickey Mouse three times.  Did you know that I needed your snuggles today?

Watching you explore the terrain outside made my heart overflow.  Thank you for the leaves and the flowers you picked for me.  How did we get blessed with such a perfect little boy?

Thank you for laughing and jumping on the bed and doing silly things today.  Thank you for being happy to eat yogurt for lunch and for dinner.  I was too tired to think of anything else.

You have my heart in your tiny little hand.

You’re beautiful and I’m proud to be your mama.

Hibernating

I am SO thankful.

Two weeks ago my mother in law was staying with us to help with Cameron.

Last week, Cameron and I went to Colorado to stay with Jon’s parents so that I could continue to hibernate for another week.

This week, friends from church are watching Cameron each morning so I can rest.

The past month has been crazy.  With Cameron, the nausea of the first trimester was worse.  This time around, I’ve been experiencing fatigue so extreme that I’ve spent many days laying horizontal nearly all day.  Hence, why I needed help with a busy toddler.

BUT, I am in the last week of my first trimester now!!  Woooo!  Which means that more energy is just around the corner (most likely).

Here are a few pics from our time in Colorado:

photo (1)Fixing stuff with grandpa (BaPa)

photo

This trip was the first time this little nugget has EVER shared a bed with me since he was about 3 weeks old, so I was soaking up all the snuggles and trying to ignore all the violent tossing and turning.  Remember these toys on display in the mall???

41z+Aech7fL._SX300_

This is how this kid is when he sleeps.

May his future wife be a very deep sleeper.


photo (2)Father Christmas?


photo (3)First beater-licking with Nonni

h

photo (4)The crazy Colorado flooding that almost made us miss our flight home.


photo (5)Good-bye at the airport

 

I think this is the first time in the past five years of living in California that I absolutely loathe the weather.  There is something so gross and wrong about laying down inside all day while the sun shines brightly outside my window.  I very much preferred the dreary Colorado rain pinging against the roof while I snuggled up with a blanket, some cocoa and Kardashians on cable.  We got rid of our cable earlier this year and I must admit that I have missed that pointless, but captivating show.

So, if you will, please join me in petitioning for an early crisp fall here on the Central Coast.