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Monday, December 27, 2010

It May Be Crazy, but I'll Take It

Late Christmas day I stood in the kitchen washing dishes. My feet were tired and I was generally just emotionlly and physically tired. I love Christmas, but after a long two days of last minute shopping, hauling gifts to grandparents, hauling gifts home, and cooking my body was exhausted. I quickly realized that maybe there were one too many toys that made various squeaks and noises. Couple that with the occasional sibling argument over a toy, and I was ready to lock myself away for some peace and quiet.

I love to look back on these moments because God has a way of subtly shifting the heart's focus. As the ipod played Christmas music in the background a song came on that instantly took me back six years in time. I was a broken woman, broken from loss. I was still recovering from a miscarriage two months prior. It was a pregnancy I had not particularly planned or been too enthusiastic about in the beginning which made the eventual loss all the more devastating. God had been working in me to build the heart of a mother. Before I was all too selfish and absorbed with the inconvenience a child could bring. As my heart and mentality began to change I was crushed when it all seemed to be ripped away with one trip to the doctor and a heartbreaking sonogram.

That Christmas all my heart longed for was a child, not a baby to replace the one lost, but to soothe the aching mother's heart that had been conceived, but not fully formed. Little did I know that Christmas season that just two weeks later I would find out I was carrying our beloved Kaylie. She was my Christmas gift, and one that would carry Chris and I to a new level of love as people and parents. God was faithful to us that Christmas and has continued that work of chiseling a mother's heart into me.

As I came back to the reality of loud toys and boisterous children I looked at the situation from a different place. These children are my gifts and my inheritence. It may be crazy and I may be tired, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

I probably have uttered this phrase countless times when everything is going wrong in life. I think most of us have at some point. It is probably best that God is gracious and does not usually answer this question directly, because honestly if it were a game of what we deserve it would not be pretty on our side. Six months ago I was on an uphill climb of faith. I don't pretend I had it worse than many others, but as for each of us our problems can become very real, dark, and looming.

I stand hear today and once again say, "What did I do to deserve this?" Except this time I ask for very different reasons. As of this day I am standing on a mountain that I did not believe I could ever climb. Please indulge me as I rattle off the incredible blessings God has given our family.
  1. Chris was hired on with a new company as of last week. He is truly enjoying the new company, and excited about the opportunitues it can bring. In a job market that has many people looking for sometimes 6 months to a year, we were blessed that it took just a little over two months.
  2. Chris is working a job with the hours we desired. Many of the jobs Chris looked at while job hunting would require that he be gone late into the night or for extended periods of time. While we were willing to accept anything, God was good in meeting the desires of our heart, and he is able to be home with the famliy in the evenings.
  3. We did not lose our house or default on any major payments during the period of unemployment. This is truly amazing in itself. My first fears were that we would lose everything, or at least fall behind on everything. We have had enough to carry us through, and will be carried through seamlessy as income starts flowing again.
  4. I have wonderful, beautiful children. They are extremely loving in every way possible. While they like to try my patience, not a day goes by that I am not overwhelmed with a full heart from their, hugs, cuddles, and kisses.
  5. I have Chris who is patient, loving, and steadfast. He is the iron in my life that sharpens me. He has put up with my intense moments of frustration during these last 6 months, and is still there with loving arms when I need to swallow my pride and apologize. He makes me laugh, and always sticks up for me. He gets me for who I am. When I look at him I wonder how I ever could be afraid of losing a house when I always have a home with him.
  6. I have a son on the way named Isaac who God has chosen to bless us with. While he was conceived of God's timing and not our own, I am convinced all the more that God's plan is perfect for him. If I though my heart could not be any more full with love, I cannot imagine the joy and love about to explode into our lives this spring.
  7. Wonderful friendship. This season has brought back my dear, sweet Alyson. While miles have separated us she has always been my closest friend. Through a series of events we have been able to reconnect, and I must say it has been absolutely wonderful having her back in my life. While we do not share blood, she is a sister to me and always will be.
  8. Family that sticks with you. I know it can be done, but I cannot imagine how hard it would be to live far away from family. I am blessed to have caring people not too far away who are willing to help bear the load when times are tough.
  9. I have been given life!

In refelction this year has been a lot about growth. That is wonderful, delightful, and painful growth. I'm sure I have not experienced that last of my trials, but as I sit here today basking in peace and the realization that God does work all things together for our good, I'm just grateful.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What's In a Name?

It looks like we will be adding some more testoserone to our household in a few months. Yes, we are having another baby boy! Finding out it was a boy is a whole other dramatic story for another blog, so I will save the analysis of that.

One reason I enjoy finding out what the baby will be is I like to start referring to the baby by name. It starts to cement their place in the family before they even arrive. I know many others have a different viewpoint in regards to this. I will only say it is a very personal decision, as is almost every aspect of gestating and birthing a child.

When we found out it was a boy we immedietly began running through the mental list of names we had. Chris was completely convinced it was a girl so we had spent the better part of our time thinking of girl's names. It was quite a frustrating process for me. With Kaylie and Micah I was almost immedietly certain on their names. It came so naturally I never dreamed I would have such a hard time.

Names are important. I truly believe they convey so much about the person as well as family heritage, and by heritage I don't necessarily mean family names. I think of heritage as more about where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

There were many names we tossed around, but we usually could not agree on a first and second name that really sounded right.
I began to pray this morning that God would reveal to me the name He had for this child. I wanted to hear it and love it, and I wanted it to speak destiny into his life.
I began perusing over the baby name sites for what seemed like the millionth time. Suddenly the name Isaac stuck out to me. The meaning was: He will laugh. Immedietely I thought about all we have been through in these last few months. I thought about the frustration and the heartaches. I then remembered that in the Bible Isaac was the fullfillment of the promise God made to Abraham. He was the result of faith.
We have been on quite the journey of faith this past year, and yet we are continuing to see the promises of God fullfilled in our lives.
How perfect this name is. In spite of the hardship of this past year what joy this baby will bring to our home. I believe that he will indeed be filled with laughter and bring the blessing of joy and promise to all he meets. The middle name has been quite a sticking point for every name we picked out. I went back to a name I like which is Timothy which means to honor God.
So our son will herby be known as Isaac Timothy Medrano.
He will laugh to honor God.
Let it be so.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turkeys, Unemployment, and Other Thoughts

It's been a long and winding road this fall season. We went from the devastation of job loss, to the excitement of a job offer one week later. This was short lived as we found out the following week that the company decided to eliminate two of the positions they were hiring for. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. God and I had a lot of conversations during this time. We had to make some tough choices, that were not ideal. In spite of this thanks to Chris' diligent saving while at Thomson, things are tight but not too uncomfortable. The following months have been filled with job searches, interviews, and job fairs. I would love to say I have stayed completely calm and sane at all times. Unfortunately that is very hard for a woman, and a pregnant woman at that. Fridays are usually difficult. I suppose it is just that if no job prospects have panned out for the week I feel a little defeated, but by Monday God is faithful to renew my spirit. Chris has a pretty good prospect that he interviewed for this week. Of course I think I become more of a nervous wreck after an interview, because waiting is not my strong suit. No matter what God has taken care of us. I thought I would be entering the holiday season with dread, but if anything it has reinforced the things that are most important to me in life. We still have reason to celebrate, even if the material side is a bit smaller, our joy is no more diminshed.

Speaking of holidays next week is my favorite holiday. I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Of course
I love Christmas as well, but there is something special about Thanksgiving. It still has all the excitement and anticipation of holidays to come, yet it sheds all the glitz and glamor in favor of a more understated approach to giving and sharing. Instead of worrying about what to buy or how much to spend we can come together with family and friends to give of ourselves and our most precious possession, time. Just thinking about gathering together in a home filled with warmth and love fills my heart with warm fuzzies. Turkey... this is another thing that makes Thanksgiving great. What other time of year can you find grocery stores fighting for customers with awesome deals like a 13 lb turkey for less than five dollars? How awesome is that???!!!

Hmmm let's see ,news on the baby front. I am 21 weeks along today. Time is really flying by with this pregnancy. With the holidays coming up I am sure that will shoot this pregnancy into warp speed. We find out the gender of the baby on December 7th, providing baby Medrano is cooperative. I wasn't sure how excited I would be in the beginning since we already have one of each. As we get closer I find I am really excited to know. I am the mom that cleans the attic and then looks at old baby clothes and cries remembering when my babies were well babies. It is a bit thrilling to think a lot of those tiny clothes are going to get used again. My best friend of many years will also be joining us for the sonogram which I am super excited about. With distance and our busy lives we didn't see much of each other when the other kids were babies. It is really wonderful to share this experience with such a dear friend.
I have experienced some anxiety along the way knowing that I will be birthing this baby naturally without the aid of drugs. The epidural was always my safety net. Some days I feel like a strong woman who can do anything, even tackle the rigors of labor. Then there are other days when I worry that I won't make it and I may just die right in the middle of it all. I know I am a bit dramatic. No matter what my fears, I have never felt more comfortable with my birth decision as I do now. I know that no matter what the outcome the God given strength is within, and He will carry me through.

To all my readers, yes all 3, maybe 4 of you have a very happy Thanksgiving. In lean times, and in times of plenty life is still a precious gift to be thankful for.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Precious Promises

Friday afternoon I was hit with the gut wrenching news that Chris had lost his job. Talk about a slap in the face. With our third child on the way I had already been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety over finances, a car that we had already poured way too much money into, and trying to figure out how we could make it work so I would stay home. For the last two months I have wrestled with God over the question we all ask at one time, "Why me?" Many dark nights I struggled with God. Why did He seem so distant? Why did He place desires in my heart that He now seemed so unwilling to fullfill? The news Friday just felt like the icing on the cake, might I add really bad icing on a burnt cake. Although the news was devastating I felt more broken than angry. For the first time in months I lost the will to fight or question, all I could do was sob. All of the fears of losing everything were there, but mostly I just felt so low, so humbled.

Saturday was difficult. I cried a lot. I wanted to sleep and just forget everything. In the shower I began to sing the old Hymn, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. Tears streamed down my face, and finally I felt what I had been missing for some time. The sweet presence of God beginning to fill and permeate the brokeness. I had finally surrendered to the work He really wanted to do in me. Sunday things began to feel better. Obviously our problems were not solved overnight, but I felt peace. I was able to smile and laugh more. I looked at my husband and children and felt nothing but gratefulness for their presence and steadfast love. Our circumstances took on a new light as I saw an opportunity for our family to draw closer together. Finally, yes maybe this can be a good thing.

I have come to find through the years that I am a planner. I want everything to go as planned. I would like God to come through for me on my timetable, and yet I want to still have some control in the matter. What I did not realize is how I was short changing myself for God's processes. They are not always fun processes, in fact somtimes they are messy and bring a certain amount of humility that I would rather just skip on. Oh how important these processes are though. I held an ongoing argument with God for two months, and in one day He washed away every pretense I could hide behind. Suddenly I realized how insignifcant my control really is, and how significant surrender is to His precious promises. One of those promises that has continued to stand out in my mind is at the very end of Matthew. After Jesus had given his disciples their last instructions He finished off with this in Matthew 28:20b
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age

I have heard this verse so many times it starts to lose its true value. As I let it sink in it is like a warm blanket to the soul and spirit. Jesus has promised His people He is not leaving. He is not going anywhere. There are no surprises in this life that throw Him off guard. We only fool ourselves if we think we can work the system. Could I lose everything of worldy value? Sure that could happen. I believe though that God is good, and He desires my good. As I believe in that, and lean heavily on Him the good in life just naturally works itself out. Walking with God is a win win situation when I let Him take control.

As of today I have not received a million dollar check in the mail. I have not been given a raise. Chris has not found a job just yet, but I am grateful. Our money is stretching more than I thought it would. I just looked at the bank account this morning to crunch some numbers, and I was shocked to find we should be just fine through this next month. Chris has had one job interview already that went well. We hope to possibly hear something by the end of the week. I have felt even closer to Chris as we work together to keep things going. I know it may sound silly, but I was rejoicing so much on the inside today. I know I have a Father who loves me. He desires all good things for me, but what is more important to Him is the state of my heart.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How I Came to Not Hate Football

There was a time when nothing struck dread into my heart more than waking up on the first Sunday morning of the season to the voices of Terry Bradshaw and crew on the Fox NFL pre-game show. It only meant one thing... it was football season and I was powerless to do anything but sit by and wait until the fever that plagued most of the country finally passed.
I know I am the odd ball out here. I mean football is as American as it gets, right? Of course being from Texas it should almost be a given that I spend my Friday evenings and weekends following this hallowed sporting event.

It wasn't really a problem for me during the first portion of my life. No one in my family is an avid football fan so we were all happy to hit the malls or restaurants while everyone else was glued to the t.v. Sunday afternoon. Yes life was completely, blissfully football free until I met Chris. My sweet, kind, lovable fellow was perfect except for one tiny little issue...Chris LOVED football. Of course being the sweet, kind, lovable girl that I am I made it quite clear that I HATED football, and that while I loved him he should not expect me to participate in any football shenanigans of any kind. Those first few years of marriage I tolerated it. Chris was extremely gracious and would forgo a game many times just to appease me.

I cannot pinpoint exactly when the change occurred. Perhaps it is my great love of fall that will not allow me to be brought down. I have to say I have slowly gone from completely cold to warm to the pig skin. For once I decided to put aside my prejudice and see the joy and comraderie that this sport brings to people. People's countenances change this time of year. There is something rejuvinating about people from all different backgrounds rallying together as the season finally starts to give way to cooler temperatures. Now I haven't completely gone off the deep end here. There are still many things I would rather do than watch football, but now football and I can coexist peacfully. I love the excitement on Chris' face when the season starts. A Sunday may consist of him watching the game while he plays around with the kids in the living room. I will light a pumpkin candle to give the house a nice fall scent. I may make some pumpkin bread, and if we are lucky we can open the windows and let some cool air in. The best part is being together even if it's not my favorite pass time. I am lucky to have a guy who still puts me first, and will not hesitate to help around the house even if a game is on. Hopefully I have become a little more gracious towards him because our marriage is a lot happier when we both delight in making each other happy.

From one non-football fan to all you crazy football lovers out there

Happy Football Season!!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Keep'em Coming

After my long heart rending tale of faith building and trust in God, I've realized I should probably just keep my mouth or perhaps blogging mouth shut. Yet here I am again.

Have you ever watched a press conference where the reporters throw out what we like to call "soft balls?" I'm really starting to wish God would cut me a break and throw a couple of soft balls my way. That just wouldn't be His style. No He has a way of cutting right to the chase of the matter. His pitches never miss, and sometimes in the heat of the moment I sure wish they did.

Money is always a hot topic in life, relationships, and pretty much all matters of society. Naturally adding to a family pushes all of those fears about money to the forefront. Please understand that I realize we have been extremely blessed. We aren't exactly where I would love to be financially, but we pay our bills on time and usually have a little extra to spare. With the expectation of a third child Chris and I really feel it is time for me to stay at home. Taking my income away will really put us in a different financial situation. We have been praying and looking hoping a door will open that will allow Chris to make more money, and me to stay home with the kids.

I said all of this to preface that I have already been deeply worrying about these things. I am a planner, and I want to know the exact how, when , and where things will work out.
In the mean time we had been saving to take a family vacation with my parents for there 30th wedding anniversary. This was planned long before we knew we were expecting, and this late in the game it was a little late to back out. Today we finished our final booking. I was excited, but a little leery as I knew once we returned home we would need to hit the ground running and really build up our savings. This evening we got in the car to take the kids swimming and lo and behold the car will not start. What????!!!! We seriously just dropped over $700 just a few months back to replace the alternator and battery. By now I am cursing myself, cursing life. All I want to do is take this car and push it over a cliff. I am fortunate that what sanity I had left reminded me that the financier would probably still require me to make payments car or no car.

So here I am late at night crying, stressing, and feeling guilty. I continue to pray this is something minor. Perhaps tomorrow I will laugh that I was so ruffled over nothing.
For tonight I must remind myself God is in control, and if I'm to be the woman He desires me to be I just have to say, Keep'em coming.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And Then There Were Three

It was with some shock today that I learned I was pregnant with my third child. I am aware many people prefer to wait until a "safe" point to announce, but in my opinion a life is a life. If, God forbid, some tragedy were to befall us this baby would still have deserved every bit of excitement as any other. Today I announce to the world that little Medrano #3 will make their entrance into the world in late March or early April.

Today was certainly a day of mixed emotions. It is so strange, but it was like finding out I was pregnant for the first time. To say I am scared is an understatement. I spent a lot of the day crying. I feel guilty just saying that. I really am happy. I mean I think I always knew deep down inside that I was not finished having children. Still this was unexpected. I worried about money, about being able to leave my full time job, not having a big enough house, trying to balance attention between three children. I know it all probably seems silly in light of this great miracle of life. Of course I obviously have the emotions of a pregnant woman because everything makes me want to cry.

I didn't have any special way of telling Chris. He was busy with a project so by the time I picked him up I was such a mess I just kind of blurted it out. He was so happy and supportive. I'm sure it would have been a really sweet moment if I was not such a basket-case. We told the kids which I anticipated to be a little rocky. Kaylie has been pretty adamant to me about not wanting another brother or sister. I knew Micah would be mostly oblivious to this. He's never been the only child so he's always used to sharing attention. At first Kaylie looked a little upset. When we told her again with all certainty she was having another little brother or sister she started to warm up. I told her she has been such a great big sister and I know she will continue to be. I want her to feel involved, but not obligated. She seemed to perk up and started suggesting names for her potential brother or sister.

I have my first meeting with a midwife on Tuesday. Yes that's right Ms. two time epidural is going to venture into the realm of natural birth. I am quite nervous still about the prospect of giving birth outside of a hospital. I have been reading a lot about it before I even became pregnant. Of course when the chips are down every worst case scenario comes to mind. Still I have this desire to experience the joy and empowerment I have heard from so many woman who have chosen the less conventional route. I am actually hoping to have a water birth.
I am convinced that I have a higher tolerance for pain than the convenience of medical technology would have me think.

When I gave birth to Kaylie I was already dilated to 8cm by the time we reached the hospital. Why those nurses did not talk me out of an epidural I will never know. Actually I'm sure dollar signs had something to do with it. After receiving that epidural my labor slowed down to the point that they actually gave me pitocin to jump start things again. When I look back what I really needed was a gentle figure there to coach me through that last little bit of labor. Of course I just had a nurse who was inconvenienced at the fact that a woman actually showed up at the hospital on a Sunday morning for a ...gasp... a non induced labor.
Kaylie's birth is still so precious in my memories, but I still feel the pain of many decisions made on that day. Decisions I believe were made for the convenience of the medical staff and not my best interest,

Micah's delivery was fairly easy. Unfortunately my doctor convinced me we should induce Micah on the basis of Kaylie weighing in at 8lbs. 11 oz. at birth. When Micah went a bit past his due date it was all systems go. I wish I had been stronger and said no, but my fears from the last labor still lingered. Instead of working to assuage those fears, induction was the easy textbook answer. The pitocin caused me to launch into full on crazy hard contractions. Since I did not have the ability to gradually build up, the pain became excruciating. The anesthesiologist was just down the hall and was happy to oblige this miserable mommy. The actual labor was much shorter than with Kaylie. Much to our surprise Micah weighed in at 8lbs on the dot, even being late. Kaylie on the other hand was almost two weeks early. I really think God has a sense of humor in these things.

I share all of this to say I have not made this decision lightly. I am honestly looking forward to a more personal approach to maternity care. I also look forward to birthing this baby on my own terms, and not what the medical community deems ideal. Believe me I am not a doctor hater. Both of my OBGYN doctors were not bad. They simply do what they know to do in the context of a hospital setting. If for some reason I need to go to a hospital I have no qualms with it. I am just learning there may be a better way when it comes to birthing our children.

As I write I am still in some shock at the timing of these events. I am still adjusting to the changes. I know there is still a long journey ahead, but I am trying to let go. Not everything will always happen on my schedule. I may say it through tears but reliance on God is best perfected in a place that I do not have all the answers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shea Butter Extravaganza

For the past six years we have been priveleged to hold part ownership in a company producing pure, unrefined shea butter in an obscure country called Burkina Faso in West Africa.
Our goal was to provide a viable and steady work opportunity for the women of this country.
You can read more about the company at

We began the business selling in bulk to distributors and independent soap makers.
After many years working in this capactiy we have decided to offer the product on a retail level.

We are currently offering an 8 ounce jar for $20 or two 8 ounce jars for $30 plus shipping and handling.
Arrangements can also be made for pick up.
Unrefined shea butter does not contain the chemicals that you will find in the refined shea butter used in most standard personal care products. Shea Butter is an excellent moisturizer. Many customers report that shea butter has been extremely beneficial for a multitude of skin ailments. I personally found it to be a great tummy moisturizer during pregnancy.
Add your favorite essential oil or use it straight out of the jar.

If interested please send an e-mail to

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Free Weekend

It is all too tempting to wake up on a Saturday morning, lounge for awhile, and then head out for lunch. We may browse Target, maybe catch a movie, perhaps even indulge in another dinner. Of course it is almost inevitable that we will spend money while we are out. We work hard all week. We deserve it, right?

In a quest to save a little coin we have decided to embark on what I have heard termed as a "free weekend." What is a free weeked you may ask? Starting this everning anything we do must be free or at least already paid for in our current monthly budget. Obviously we are not going to turn off the electricity during this swelterting heat.. The only thing we can spend money on will be groceries for meals, and any gas for the car. We must eat all meals at home and utilize our current resources to have a good time.

I like spending as much as the next person. I mean consuming is the American way, right? In an attempt to delay pleasure in exchange for substantial payoff in the future, I am working to discipline those natural human tendencies. Hopefully in the process the whole family will transform, and we can have fun building our relationships and not just our collection of stuff.

Whether it's free or not have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Giddy Tuesday

I have a couple of reasons to be giddy today. Oh sure it's a Tuesday, and Tuesday is always worse than Monday in my book. Nevertheless I am excited.

Numero Uno: No dishes tonight! We are going out for dinner. I can't even explain how thrilled this makes me. There is nothing more taxing than coming home from work, making dinner, eating dinner, and then cleaning up while your children run around begging you to pay attention to them. While the thought of ditching dishes is always appealing, the thought of coming home the next evening to a dirty kitchen is even less appealing.
As you can see no dishes on Tuesday make me a happy lady!

Numero Dos: Let me preface this next paragraph by putting it out there. I am a nerd. Ok I said it now onto my second reason to be giddy. I love America's Got Talent. I can't explain it. I am not an avid fan of reality TV. I don't watch the likes of American Idol or So You Think You can Dance. During the first season of the show I recall commenting to Chris what a lame summer filler this would be. I am still befuddled as to how I was roped into my first episode. Ever since I have become a religious viewer every summer. There is just something about collapsing on the couch with the family and watching some of the most talented and ridiculous people do their thing. Maybe it is the summer heat that gets to my brain because I believe I am sane the rest of the year round. I laugh and sometimes cry. I become a professional critic along with my daughter Kaylie. I can't help but laugh when Kaylie disapproves of an act. She immedietely throws her arms into the air and crosses them for an "X."

Now that I have that shameful little secret out, I am going to call it a day at the office. I am ready to see my family.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grownup Kids

Today my little brother turns 23. Happy birthday Allyster!

It is extremely surreal when you realize you and your siblings are all of adult age. Growing up as the oldest of three the siblings were always "the babies" of the family. How strange is it to wake up and realize they aren't quite babies any longer, and maybe they now look at me as "the old one."

This all has me reminiscing about summer and the old days. I have some of the best memories of my brother, sister, and I during summer vacation. Of of course there was the usual yelling, pushing, and tattling that kids do, and then there were all the moments in between. Moments that consisted of jumping on the trampoline so high you felt like you could fly, swimming at the water park for so long our skin becoming tan and wrinkled like a prune, and lunches at CiCi's Pizza because it was cheap and mom needed a break from cooking. Then there were the family vacations. Oh how I miss being a kid and enjoying these without the cares of money or travel logistics!

As much as these sweet memories remain, they slowly lose the clarity and detail that they once possessed. Like dreams fading into a mist, I can still feel the essence, but those little kids come into focus and I realize they are not really children any longer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Lately I've been trying to imagine a world where change is not possible. A place where all the mistakes and hurts of the past hold a firm grip on today. A dimension where restoration is not an option. I have been fortunate to experience the opposite of these dreadful alternatives. Sadly I realize that the current state of our world dwells in this place of disparaged hope more frequently as time goes on. We jump from one dream or fantasy to the next never really believing that there is restoration for who we truly are.

I have experienced restoration in many aspects of my life. Most recently I have experienced the process of restoration in my marriage. It is an act in progress, but I want to shine the light of hope. There is no needs for details. Almost every married couple today has come to face that day when it is either choose to step it up or simply walk away. Skeptics beware I am about to throw down a lot of God centered truth. You may disect all you desire. I still love you. My experiences are real. I have known first hand what it is to go from darkness into the marvelous light of God's truth. One of those resounding truths is that God is a God of restoration. He can take the jumbled pieces your life, relationships, family, and bring them to wholeness. We have this crazy idea that we can somehow fix the messes we have made. This makes no more sense than a toddler trying to crazy glue the fragmented pieces of his mother's precious vase. Try as hard as he may, the finished product will probably be more dysfunctional than when he began.

I believe the greatest act both Chris and I have brought to the process is an open, humble heart. We can't do this in ourselves. This is something we have agreed upon that must occur on a higher level than ourselves. People will alway let you down, and I hate to tell you this, but you are almost guaranteed to let yourself down at one time or another. I am constantly perplexed as to why people keep bouncing from one relationship to the next looking for that perfect someone who will NEVER let them down. In our marriage we have decided this is it. If God is the only one who can be trusted it is about time we put our full trust in Him!

I can tell you from experience that the process is so sweet once you are moving on the other side. God's desire is for your restoration. It is His desire for you to be all He created you to be, and it is His desire that we engage in right relationships with one another.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

When I was a kid there was a really awesome play place called Leaps and Bounds. As an adult I really appreciate that name because looking back it was perfect for what it was. There is nothing more freeing as a child than a place where you are free to run and let your imagination go wild. With every leap the possibilities are endless.

I am ashamed to admit that I fell into the dark adult trap that discourages those leaps and bounds. I'm not talking about wreckless, irrational jumps. I believe every good leap comes from a solid base. I have allowed myself to sit on the sidelines encouraging others to take the leap of faith, while privately waiting for my turn one day. There is a healthy amount of planning in life. God has put a great emphasis on using wisdom in decision making, but there are also times when all the human planning in the world cannot give the little push that it takes to get to that next level. It then simply becomes a matter of priorities, trust, and faith.

Mark your calendars people. May 27, 2010. I have decided I am no longer content to just wait for that day. Look out world, from this moment forward I am moving in leaps and bounds.

The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:19

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Days

I decided that I would go with a blog title that was in complete contrast to the way I was feeling today. At the end of the day, what can you do?

Maybe you remember a little story that occurred about a month ago involving me stalling in the middle of a Starbucks drive-thru? After said incident we bought a new battery, and the car was running great. We chalked it up to a faulty battery and went along with a spring in our step.

All was well until last night. As we left dinner that familiar stalling began. If only we could have made it home, but no that would be too easy. This time we stalled at a light on the corner of 360 and Green Oaks, not exactly an ideal spot. I feel my little tribute is on a roll. First it decides to come between morning commuters and their coffee. Now it is trying to come in front of commuters and their path home. He is not good at making friends on the road.

We were in luck to find another kind stranger who pushed us across the overpass to the safety of a parking lot.

I could already feel my nice little emergency fund draining. We knew there was no other choice but to get it to the shop. Of course it was the alternator. This car part was the winner of the free parking money located in my savings account. $720 later we are on the road again. I can't say I'm thrilled, but once again what can you do?

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm Addicted

Yes I'll go ahead and admit it I am becoming addicted to bread making. Why this is happening after seven years of homemaking it beyond me.

Perhaps I can trace it back to a fear of this little ingredient right here.

I have tried to make bread maybe twice in my life. My mom made it look so easy. Anytime a special occasion arose or we had company she would spend the day in the kitchen making yummy pies and bread. My grandmother was the same and I'm sure her mother taught her as well. I can just remember how intoxicating the smell of fresh baking bread was. I remember seeing my mom knead dough and thinking it must be as fun as playing with my play dough.

The sweet memories of fresh bread were quickly dashed early on in my marriage.My first few feeble attempts at making bread were unsuccessful. I believed that I must not know how to activate yeast correctly or something because it never seemed to rise correctly. Recently, after my homemade pizza dough turned out well, I decided to try my hand once again. After a little research I realized how bread making seems much more instinct driven as opposed to recipe driven. Of course some laws of baking still apply, but I have realized no two times will be exactly the same hence many recipes calling for a varying amount of flour or instructions to add flour until dough feels like elastic. It was time to really tap into those deep seeded homemaking instincts and feel my way through this.

For some reason last Thursday felt like the evening to give it a go. I can't explain why. It had been a very trying week at work. Maybe I just need to do something that made me feel closer to home. I hesitantly began gathering the ingredients to make one of my favorite breads, challah. I realized quickly this was going to be no quick, microwave culture experience. Perhaps our fast food culture has really taken us away from the roots of good food and perhaps the most important ingredient involved...time. Undaunted I pressed ahead. As the ingredients began to fall into place I became more enthused. It finally came to the kneading portion. I cannot explain how invigorating this was to me. I know many woman now use bread machines ,and I truly do not begrudge them. Honestly I cannot see why anyone would want to. I mean bread making is really a literal hands on experience to me. It's almost like a bond that woman have shared through time. If I am going to use a bread machine I would rather just go pick up a loaf of bread.

Sorry for the sidetrack, back to the bread. I was so excited after the first hour of rising to see my bread doing what it should be doing. That may sound silly, but it was a big deal to me. It finally came time to braid the challah. I was practically giddy to see how beautiful it turned out. I stayed up late just to make sure it rose once more and then it was time to cook. As I lay in bed waiting for the oven timer to go off that sweet smell came wafting through the house. A flood of childhood memories came back to me. What a wonderful moment.

As I pulled my bread out of the oven I could not contain the excitement. I had done it! There before me sat a loaf of bread that I had made by myself with my own two hands. It was perfect to me. I quickly snapped a few pictures which I promptly forgot to upload for this blog. I am now addicted to bread making. I have already surveyed my pantry to take stock of the necessary ingredients I must have on hand for future bread endeavors. I hope it is something I can pass along to Kaylie. Am I sounding a bit domesticated? Crystal of ten years ago would be quite perplexed at my current state of euphoria over breadmaking. A lot can change in ten years, and you know what? I don't mind a bit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Tiles of My Mosaic

Wow, life! I often feel the sense that these little everyday moments are small and insignificant. Of course I step back to behold that each little piece has fit into this incredible mosaic that is always growing with time. It's not that the picture's pieces have changed, but the perspective is always expanding.

Without further ado, let's jump right into the current work of art.

My kids just keep growing. I couldn't be a prouder mom. Can I tell you that after a long day of work in a fairly unkind world, there is nothing more heart warming than to come home to two children who smile uncontrollably at their first sight of me?
Here's a fairly current picture of the boy. Micah was starting to get a fairly shaggy hairdo. While it was adorable, his vision started to suffer.

Here is a beforeand here he enjoys perhaps a little cooler, less cumbersome style

I have never met a little boy more lovable and sweet. He is constantly giving us hugs and kisses at random moments in the day. What a gift he is to our family.

Here just might be the most beautiful girl in the entire world.

She is always astounding me with her knowledge and intelligent questions. She is never without something to say. Kaylie has a sensitive spirit, but a strong will. It is quite the combination, and I couldn't imagine her any other way.
She also loves to help out around the kitchen. Her specialty? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of course.What would life be without family? I can't even imagine.

We have steadily continued our daily routine. I have stayed busy as work has picked up for the first time in a long time. I do not know about the economy elsewhere, but Texas is picking up a little steam. The increased pace has only fanned the flames of my desire to be home with my kids. I am believing that this season will pass soon because as you can see who wouldn't want to be home with these to awesome kids?
Chris has also stayed persevering in his day job. With tax season soon behind things will start to pick up for him as well. We work hard knowing that with each debt that is gone we are steps closer to fulfilling the dreams God has put in our heart. Of course the daily act is more difficult, but it is a lot better when we have each other to come home to. That is as long as one of us does not become too grouchy. Of course that would never be me!

This summer will also mark our fourth year in this home. It is not exactly where I expected we would be four years later, but I count our blessings that we have escaped the mass foreclosure wave that swept the country in the last two years. It is my hope that we will be able to sell in the next year or so. This house does not leave much room for a family to grow.

That's right I said it. Not that I am making anything official, but I have actually had the thoughts cross my mind that maybe another little one might not be that bad sometime in the future. Ever since I had Micah the thought of more kids has not been at the forefront of my mind. Honestly I am quite happy with my boy and girl. It also can be a bit overwhelming as you go through those early stages and sleepless nights. I have found God has strange way of working in my heart. In the last month I actually believed I was pregnant. I've never been one to be abnormal so four pregnancy tests later I was still sure something was not right. At first I was upset. I thought of all the reasons why pregnancy was just not the right things at this moment. Fears of work, money, space, and time crept into my mind. Then my heart began to change. I know that no life is a mistake. It is God that gives life. Part of me began to finally realize that no matter what we believe we are never the one's with the ultimate say. God's plans are perfect. I am not saying that people should not be prepared when having children or be rash in decision making, but in the end God is in control. I was actually a little sad when it was finally confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was not pregnant. I am not rushing into anything because of this experience, but my heart is open. Children are a blessing from God. Yes even when they are screaming or wake you up at 2 a.m.

This blog has probably summed up enough for now. I have some challah bread waiting to go into the oven. Our family is not Jewish, but I believe strongly in God's command for rest once a week so I leave you with this. May you have a Shabbat Shalom tomorrow. May the peace of God be with you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

To Give Cheerfully

A week ago U.S. citizens received a bill for goods in the name of health care reform. I am disheartened and overwhelmed as I try to untangle this new mess of government bureaucracy.
I am a firm believer that individuals, as good citizens, should defend the less fortunate in our society. I also believe true giving is greatly watered down when it is a forced mandate coming from one of the most inefficient organizations around.

I challenge anyone who looks to government to solve the ills of society to look into their own hearts and bank accounts. How much are we as individuals willing to give freely without an IRS agent holding our income hostage? Filtering the money through a group of power hungry elites, no matter what party, is a most irresponsible way to see positive change.

As a believer in Jesus and part of the church I know we have failed miserably to reach the needs of the downtrodden. I have seen church budgets with a greater allowance to the electric bill powering their mammoth building as opposed to meeting people's everyday needs. I have taken stock in my own life. In my human nature of self preservation, have I given all I really could?

Let this be a wake up call to our hearts and minds. Should those who will give or take bribes rule the fate of our most needy? Could the taxes that will soon be levied against us do more good if we were to simply give cheerfully without involving the middle man?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It Could Have Been One of Those Days

I just needed some coffee this morning. With the remnants of a an upper respiratory infection still lingering, I just needed a little jumpstart to the day. I try to go to bed early with the knowledge that I need an adequate amount of time each morning to perform the fundamental tasks that lead to a successful day. Unfortunately I have been dragging this week. No matter how early I attempt to go to bed there are always things to be done before I can actually meet my pillow, i.e. kids that need to brush teeth, read bedtime stories, pray, and cuddle.

I say all of this to preface what was about to occur this fine Thursday morning. I pull into the Starbucks drive-thru (I know I am deeply ashamed to admit I used the drive-thru, but with my kids in pajamas I had little choice) and place my order. As I pull closer to the window my car starts to make unfamiliar sounds that have me a little concerned. I look down to see my clock flickering. I put the car into park and then the car is dead. I am surrounded. There is no way out of this one without a little embarassment. I realize that staying in my car will not make the situation disappear so I get out and calmly go to inform the driver behind me I am stalled. Of course just as I am going to tell them someone else pulls in line. This could get ugly. There is only one other thing worse than stalling on a highway during rush hour, and that is getting in the way of other morning commuters and their coffee. The next step was to haul my kids out of the car in their pajamas to inform the employees that I have stalled in their drive-thru and beg for a little help. I was lucky to find their is still some human kindness in the world. I was about to get the kids out when I see two Starbucks employees running to my rescue. Second point of embarassment was scaring the two nice guys with my monster dog that I kind of forgot was in the back. He really is a nice dog, but gets a little over protective when two strangers start pushing his car. It all ended better than expected with my car coasting to a parking spot completely out of the way from the caffeine feed line.

My mom is the best mom ever. I don't know how people can live far away from family. I mean I know it is possible, but I cannot tell you how many times my parents and even sister have come to my rescue when I'm in a tough spot. She came right over to try and give me a jump. Speaking of human kindness and gentleman working construction on the main road came over to help jumpstart the car. I suppose we were not the most car savvy looking individuals.

There was a brief moment of triumph when the car started, but that was quickly deflated when the car promptly dies as I attempted to back out. My car battery is not old, but this has not stopped me from praying that it is just a deffective battery. Of course it could be the alternator. We shall see.

It really could have been one of those days, but I am looking back on it and all I can do is laugh. How can one complain when I am blessed with family and strangers who have helped without a second thought? Of course it is all a little frustrating. In a highy car dependent society I cannot think of one person that welcomes car trouble, yes this has been a confirmation of sorts. When we started the financial peace plan and total money make-over I was excited. As time goes on and the small victories are over and you are tackling the larger debts things can start to feel a little tiresome. Today I realized what that phrase of financial peace really meant. In the midst of this I realized I did not have that sinking feeling of panic set in. I am not thrilled at the prospect of spending money on the car, but I know that we have an emergency fund for this sort of thing. There was a time in my life when an event like this would set off a chain of worries. A car repair would have me scrambling to find funds to cover the expense and in the mean time I would worry about the daily needs we would just need to meet.

All of this has me eternally grateful. It could have been one of those days...nope not today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Oh What a Glorious Day!

All morning I have had a few lines from a song we sang at church rolling around in my head.
They are simply

Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me

I know I don't meditate often enough on the sheer magnificence of salvation. Glorious must be one of the best words to describe it. I have been purchased, bought off the slave block, free from a life that would end in death.
Has life been perfect ever since? Absolutely not. Even in the week past I have had struggles. I have not been perfect. The greatest security. The greatest peace and joy I have is a promise. A promise that by faith I have been saved.
I have tried to live a life once that was dependent upon myself and my own knowledge. I hoped I could find some sort of peace in myself, maybe in someone else. I was completely miserable.
It is not about the day to day feelings that are ever changing. It is that at the end of each day I can embrace grace. You can't figure it out, and it won't make much sense at all until you embrace it. Oh what a glorious day and what a glorious way He will save when you take that step.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Passport Hoops

The ever elusive passport will be one step closer to me after today. It is hard for me to believe that it has been nine years since I left this country. Nine years! Of course overseas travel can be a bit pricey, so I have not always been motivated to get my passport renewed, but I finally feel I am at a time in my life to get it done. I just wish they didn't make it so difficicult just because I had a tiny change in my life called getting married and having my name changed. Come on people over half the country does this so why make me start from scratch? Never the less the idea started at the beginning of last year. Being the frugal person I am I kept finding reasons why I should push back dropping the $100+ it would take to get everything done.

Christmas came and all I wanted was my passport. Chris has now set aside $100 in the budget every month until I get it done. I started off filling out the paperwork online and printing so everything would be nice, neat, and legible. Then a couple of weeks later I got around to getting my photos made. I was really proud of how much progress I was making. Chris told me that my birth certificate was safely stored and to just let him know when I needed it. I finally realized that the post office makes it almost impossible to drop off passport applications on the weekend so I decided that I would just take it in at lunch one day. I was so excited and proud that I would finally have this accomplished. My hopes were dashed last week when I went to get the birth certificate my mom had given me. I realized what she had was only the hospital copy, and not the actual county issued certificate. She was not sure where the official one was so I realized I was at the mercy of the government once again. I found myself filling out more paperwork, copying more documents, and writing another check so that I can have my birth certificate mailed to me. Today the paperwork will be mailed off to the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics. The worst part of it all is that it will take up to four weeks just to get that mailed back.

I am not planning a trip at the moment, but I am so far into this that I just want to be done with it. So if the government timetables are a best estimate, I should be looking at receiving a passport in 2-3 months. Yay me! You can be sure I will be planning a trip just to celebrate this grand achievement. I see the euro is on its way down. Maybe that trip to Europe isn't so far fetched after all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blessing Our Children

Somewhere between the stern mom looks, the panicked shrieks of, "what did you do?", and the daily mom admonishments for proper growth and training I try to squeeze in an, "I love you" or an "I'm so proud of you." I love my kids dearly, but moms know that the day to day reality of running a home can cause the sweet dream of a family from the Truman show to melt in puddles of toys and dirty laundry.

On any particular evening I find myself frazzled with cooking, cleaning, refereeing, or just trying to spend time with two children who love to compete for attention. More often than not this is followed by raised voices and frustration. What's a mom to do when there are so many demands and so little time? I believe the answer lies directly in one practice, and that is blessing our children. I'm not talking about buying toys or empty praise. This practice is simply looking at our children as God sees them, and taking the time to verbally speak blessing to them and over them.

I will attest that this does not create perfect children, but what a joy they are to me when I stop looking at minute circumstance of raising children and realize the God given gifts He has placed in my care. I have been reading the story in the Bible about Deborah with Kaylie. I continually pray over her that she will have a greater revelation of her destiny. I pray that she will grow to be a mighty woman of God. Yesterday we were driving down the road and Kaylie told Chris, I am going to be a woman of God, and Micah will be a man of God. My heart could only smile.
Micah is still young, and it can be hard to sit an active toddler down for anything. I take many evenings when he is quieting down to just rock him, pray over him, and speak blessings over his life. In those moments, when he is drifting between reality and the land of dreams, there is such a peace that settles over the room.

I know they do not fully understand the meaning of everything that is said, but so often I believe we underestimate the power of words. It is not unheard of to see children or even adults who have low self esteem and no purpose in life. More often than not you can look at a history of verbal abuse. Sometimes it is not as intentional as we think. Sometimes it as simple as saying hurtful words when we are frustrated. It can be neglecting to show our children their true value in our eyes and the eyes of God. Words have power. Life and death to be more precise. I had a teacher in middle school who was always encouraging us to speak life to one another. Today I encourage you as you go about your routine to take a moment and speak life over your kids. Blessing our children has power.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coming Out of a Cave

It is over a month into the new year and this is my first post. I apologize to the couple of readers who may have been disappointed. It has been an interesting start to the year. Upon leaving the last year with great joy and anticipation, I felt as though a great cloud came over me. The first day of the new year I was greeted with the news that an old friend from Starbucks days had passed away. It was completely unexpected, and hard to grasp. We all know the fragility of life, but when we stare it straight in the face the reminder is only that much more startling. The month of January became a very tumultuous time. Our family was sick for about two weeks which only added to the doldrums. I cannot truly describe what I experienced. It almost felt like depression. I simply felt lonely. Each day of cold weather only mirrored the damp feeling I had in my heart. We all have points in our life where we stop to take inventory of where we are and what we have accomplished. I simply felt weak and for lack of a better word, unaccomplished. I was in a cave, hidden from the world.

It is amazing to me the places God leads us. It was a tough month. I did not write because I literally felt empy in soul and spirit. A funny thing about these times in the cave is the moment of realization that the cave is not as empty as I thought. In that month I really began to feel the sweet comfort of God as He came to build a fire and wrap a warm blanket around my heart. It is in the destitute moment, the realization again of our stripped bare human condition, that we are once again able to receive the grace for which Jesus shed his blood. One verse that kept me going and really comforted my heart is found in Isaiah 49

15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. "

How can you not read this and not weep? How precious we are to the Lord. Even in our weakest state He does not forget. I try to go outside of myself to look down upon my life. I see myself as simple, plain, unadorned, just another person on this stage of life.
The Father looks down and what He sees is through rose colored glasses as many would say. He sees through the blood of His son. His thoughts towards me and you are full of love. He only leads us to the deserted land so that He can shower His love upon our lives. I often say, " but God what about the plans for me, what about the great things I want to do for you?"
Almost no parent can simply forget their child, let alone their great hopes and plans for that child. God says even they may forget, but He will not forget you. This love is so awesome I cannot stand it.

Thank you reader that are still with me. I really needed this time away to process and just be refreshed. I appreciate any readership I get so I will try to be a good blogger. I hope this time away has given me new ideas and a more refined approach to the craft.
May the rest of your week be full of love and enoucouragement, and if you are finding yourself in that cold dark cave keep your heart soft.