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Friday, December 31, 2010

Lessons to be Learned

I've been thinking a lot about my life. Haha. I know, that sounds like this is going to be a long one.

But, I'll just get to the point.

I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and praying about the mismatch, and I'm realizing I've been focused on the circumstances more than on what God is trying to do in me.

I shared a quote with my bloggy friend, Heidi this morning in an email that I wanted to share with all of you.

I've been reading Surviving a Spitual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee and Leslie Strobel. Great read! In the book they quote another author who has written on this topic, Nancy Kennedy. She states in reference to her own unequally yoked marriage, "He custom designed this situation expressly for me and my husband: that he might be glorified and I might be made more like him." I love that!

The thought that God is bringing me to something to be glorified and change me to his likeness makes the journey so much sweeter. There are lessons to be learned here. I don't want to miss them. If I don't want to miss what God is trying to teach me, then I don't want to miss any part of the journey. The heartache, the stress, the ugly parts of it.

So much of the time I wish I could fast forward and get to the end. The part where I can look back at hard times and smile knowing it's all part of the past. But, if I did that I would have missed everything God wanted to do in my life. Everything He wanted to speak to me, everything He wanted to show me. I will never be changed into who He had planned for me to be.

This is not just true of the mismatch, but also true to everything we're going through. Financial hardship, change, change, and more change. Marital struggles, parenting struggles, and so on and so on. God is trying to teach me through all of it.  So that he might be glorified, and I might be changed.

I recently journeyed through the Bible study, Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I just recently completed it, and it's one to slowly go back though and review, which is what I'm doing from time to time. But she had a profound quote in there that helped me understand God's glory. What that is. You hear the expression all the time, but what is it, really?

She says, "God's glory is the way He makes Himself known or shows himself mighty. God wants to reveal himself to humans. Each way He accomplishes this divine task is His glory. God's glory is how He shows who he is."

She goes on to break it down by saying something I will never forget.

"God wants to make himself recognizable to us. God wants to make Himself recognizable through us."

That's the glory of God!

If any one of my life experiences can be lessons learned for His glory, then I'm ok with the journey.


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some randomness I'm hoping for in 2011

I can't believe the new year is quickly upon us. I woke up thinking about some things I'd like to see in 2011. Other than world peace, of course.

Let's first kick off with the last thing I want to see.

The inside of a doctor's office!

Can you all believe that after our crazy Christmas flu that we're all finally better from, I got the worst UTI ever!? I was back there yesterday for more antibiotics. With no health insurance for hubs or me, the last week or so has been expensive!!

Ok, so on to some random things I'm hoping to see in 2011!

1. The view from the top of a mountain I will be snowboarding down.

2. The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean beach I will be laying on.

3. My oldest get involved in some kind of activity, sport, or anything that is new and different. It's time for him to find something!

4. My youngest play a piano solo for the first time in a recital. He's been taking lessons for about six months and his teacher thinks he may be ready for the recital this spring.

5. My husband's business to take off in the direction he wants to go.

6. Another completed year of successful homeschoooling.

7. My family sit together at the table for at least three meals a week. We're really bad about this. So instead of making the goal too hard, and getting frustrated when it doesn't happen, I'm taking baby steps.

8. I would love to see Microsfot Word and blogger spell check accept the word "homeschool" as one word.

9. It would make my day if the Facebook people would come up with a way for us to "dislike" something.

10. I would also like to see the last page of the 100th book I read.

What kind of things are on your mind for the new year?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Mismatched History

I've recently decided to share a piece of our lives with all of you.

I've gone through a roller coaster of emotions due to this marital mismatch we have, and lately I've found myself struggling with it.

I think it's important to tell you a little about our background, so you can understand how this mismatch came to be.

For me, I grew up in the church. I was raised in a christian home, and went to church every Sunday. I was baptized as a child, and never understood what that really meant until later in my life. My parents' idea of a christian home was going to church on Sunday, and cussing and screaming Monday through Saturday. We never really spent any time learning or studying the Bible, but they tried planting the seeds, I guess. It wasn't a strong religious upbringing. It was more of what we had to do on Sunday, no matter what! Church or anything related to the matter was a bore, and I couldn't wait to be old enough to say, "No thanks". My siblings and I would dread the sermon and pass notes the whole time. Once I was old enough to do my own thing, I stopped going and never looked back.

In my late teens and early twenties religion was the last thing on my mind. How I made it through the toughest times of my life without an active relationship with my Savior is only evidence of his grace and love for me when I ignored him. It's still a miracle that I am where I am.

During this time of ignoring God I became a young mother, left a realtionship that was killing me, fell in love with my now husband, and got married. (That really speeds up years of posts, but I have to stay focused here).

My husband and I lived together for five years before we got married. I thought I would be a girlfriend forever. After years of this being a stress for me, I was actually beginning to be ok with the idea. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel do it just fine, so why can't we?

Until he proposed. Not only did he propose, but he was very old school about the whole thing. Especially after being a "family" already. I was shocked by his traditional ways. He asked my father's hand. He spent months behind my back shopping for an engagement ring with my MIL and SIL. It was wonderful bliss. I was falling in love all over again.

It was during our engagement when I had a tug on my heart to return to God. Of course, I didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew I wanted to foster this "traditional" side I had hiding deep down inside me. Looking back, I know that God was trying to reach out to me before I walked down the aisle. He wanted to bless our marriage. He wanted to be a part of it. Thank God.

I wanted a christian wedding, and part of the wedding package was the required pre-martial counseling with our pastor. We went once a week for six weeks. It was wonderful. I got to know my husband on a whole new level, and this guy I had already loved so much was becoming a man I loved even more. His effort and heart during our engagement was so romantic. He went from being a marital cynic to being a devoted husband. He began to show me ways that marriage was in fact going to be different. In a good way.

Suddenly, the words "my wife" melted my heart at the sound of them. I'll never forget how I felt when I heard him stick up for me as his wife for the first time. There was some drama about certain uninvited guests. My MIL and her sister (my husband's aunt) were making comments about me not wanting to invite this person, who is also a childhood "friend" of my husband. I say friend like that, because he's no friend. He wasn't at the time, and still to this day isn't. No need to go into the history, but I had good reasons for this decision, and hubs agreed it was best. After listening to the squabbling over the issue, my husband said, "If that's what my wife wants, then that's what I want." I've never seen two women shut up faster.

I will never forget how that felt. It's wasn't so much a pride thing. It was just so nice to see how serious he was about being my husband. He made me feel like he had never been more sure about anything. Ever.

During our marriage counseling we learned a lot about each other. Of course, our religious beliefs were a topic to sit on. Although I wasn't active in my beliefs, I still had them. And my husband expressed why he feels the way he does about God, and the whole "bit". None of this was a surprise for me. I knew what he thought, but I got to understand a little more about his upbringing too.

I won't go into too much detail, because this is my blog not my husband's. But his childhood was hard. He went to church a little, but didn't see much of the point because he felt like everything he lived was hypocritical of what he was being told. He stuck to his guns in counseling where religion was concerned, and was resolved to thinking that "if God is real than he'll understand how he feels".

This did not raise any red flags for me. None of it was a surprise. Of course the pastor touched on the subject of religious differences, but didn't spend that much time on it. Which, now looking back, I find very odd. I knew we thought a little differently about God, but I didn't see the problem. My relationship with God at the time was non-existent on my end, so I didn't recognize this as a major issue. We continued in the counseling, and prepared for the big day. The rest of the engagement was more bliss. I was about to marry the love of my life. What could be better?

We got married on October 4, 2003. After our wedding, we were the sickening newlyweds you don't want to be around. If anyone tells you that marriage after living together isn't any different, they're dead wrong. It's wonderfully different. Secure. Safe.

Once we were no longer living together living in sin, and actually married, I felt like God was with us. I felt our marriage was blessed from day one. I will never forget how different I felt. From the second we pulled out of the reception parking lot. We were different.

For the first time in my life, I think I was beginning to recognize God's presence in my life, in our lives.



To read more posts about our Spiritual Mismatch click on the label "unequally yoked marriage" at the bottom of this post.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Is it an end or a new beginning?

It's over people. I have a living room full of things that need to be put away, and the magic I felt on Christmas Eve has passed. Even though things had not been going quite as planned around here, we still had a very blessed Christmas. Everyone felt good enough to enjoy the day. My youngest who lives in underwear, has now resolved to living in a new daily uniform...pajamas! My oldest was shocked to find that we did in fact get him the iPod touch he had been begging for, even though I kept telling him he was probably not going to get one. (hee hee) It was a great day. Now what?

I'm forced to start thinking about the new year and reflecting on the passing one. I can't help it. This year has been quite a challenge for us. Many of the challenges are still lingering. It would be nice if by this Friday I could completely wipe our slate clear of any obstacles that will carry over to 2011. But that fact is, I cannot.

Quite a few of the things that I'd hoped would be finalized by the end of the year will remain "open files" as January 1st comes. We'll still have some major financial decisions to make. Some of which that will be life changing. Instead of being able to put 2010 behind us, and look forward, I'm realizing 2011 may even be more of a catalyst year than this one.

With so many uncertainties still hanging over our heads, it's inevitable that this year will be a big one.

It wil bring many changes for our family. I know that. I'm just not sure if I'm ready.

I keep hearing a specific verse on my heart lately.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I'm doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  
~Isaiah 43:18-19

One thing I know for sure. I want to grow closer to Him. I want to be able to look back at this time of our lives, and know that through everything we went through I stayed in God's word and remained faithful to His promises. I want to know that I spent time in prayer and allowed him to speak to me.

I have to be honest and tell you that this is a flaw I have lately. I'm far from where He wants me.


Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night before Christmas (my version)

So, you all know we're super sick here. I decided to share my email greeting and pic I sent out to family and friends this morning. Merry Christmas to all of you, my bloggy friends!!! We really appreciate all of your prayers and sweet comments the last few days!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The Lysol was sprayed through the living room air;
in the hopes that St. Nicolas just wouldn’t care.

For each Bolton was sick lying awake in their beds;
while hallucinations from fevers danced in their head.

Daddy wore a mask, and I steamed the showers;
I just knew that this cough would keep us all up for hours.

Poor Ethen has been told that he has the flu,
and now Skyler is running a high fever too.

Mommy and Daddy aren’t doing any better.
That’s when I decided to sit down and write you this letter.

To family and friends who we’ll miss on Christmas Day:
We’re so sorry that this illness has kept us away.

Be glad that we’re not spreading our virus around,
because it’s awful, and impossible for anyone to sleep sound!

The swab tests confirmed it’s the swine flu times two,
and any smart Doctor would say Mom and Dad have it too.

We’re heading to the pharmacy to pick our meds,
and in a few days we’ll be feeling less dead.

So it’s obvious our Christmas hasn’t gone as planned.
But with the last few crazy weeks getting better is about all I can stand!

We’ve been hit hard, for whatever reason,
But I refuse to forget the true meaning of this season.

For God’s greatest gift was to send us his son.
I will try to remember that even though this flu is no fun!

For he died on the cross and suffered for more.
We can get past this illness, which in comparison, seems like such a small chore.

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends!
We’ll see you soon when this flu comes to an end!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Disappointment

Everyone here is sick.

The kids just got over Bronchitis. They just finished their antibiotics. Now...

My youngest has a major case of the flu. He was tested for H1N1 on Monday, and sure enough it's that!

My kids don't even go to public school. What the heck?!

Hubs and I woke up this morning feeling awful, and I'm headed to the Dr. for myself this morning. I'm not sure if it's bronchitis or this flu?

Here's the thing. Christmas plans have been canceled. Activities have been put on hold or not done at all. What was supposed to be a wonderful Christmas break has turned out to be really disappointing. We've been couped up in this house for three straight weeks, and now with this new round of illness who knows what's in store for next couple of weeks.

I'm trying to keep a positive outlook for the kids, and make things special for them in spite of all the sickness, and canceled plans, but now that I feel really bad myself, and I'm struggling. Hubs is at work feeling just as bad, and my patience is wearing thin.

My oldest gave me a hard time about breakfast this morning, and I lost it. I feel bad, but seriously? You can't just help yourself to a bowl of cereal without giving me a hard time this morning. If you saw me (or heard me), you'd see what I'm talking about. I have no voice, and look like crap! Why would he choose to give me hard time this morning?? Especially after I said, "Mom is not feeling good. Can you just help yourself to a bowl of cereal?" His response, "I don't want cereal." It just went down hill from there.

I'm sure the kids are dealing with their own mix of emotions because things have not exactly gone as planned around here for the last few weeks. They know that they are not going to either family Christmas gatherings we normally would because we are all super contagious. I'm sure they are out of sorts too.

I still have some last minute errands to run, and cannot go anywhere with the kids because I don't want to spread out germs all over town. Not to mention, I don't even feel up to running the errands. All I want to do is lay in bed.


I hate complaining. I want to snap out of it, but I'm finding it hard to do so.

I just loaded up the kids to take myself to the Dr., and my car won't start! Serioulsy?!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Say it ain't so...PINT

Only Parent Chronicles


Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh where oh where is my Christmas spirit?

Dear Christmas Spirit,

Please come back. Forgive me for letting these things take you away...

My dryer breaking.

Loads of backed up laundry. (which I already suck at anyway!)

Seven straight days of two sick kids.

Things that I hate that I have no control over.

A messy house that I can't seem to get organized.

Even though I started Christmas shopping early, I still a few things to get this weekend.

The fact that the last few days have been crazy, and I now feel "behind" on fun Christmas-y activities.

My period.

If you come back today and fill up our home with glitter and smiles, I promise to be nicer, funner, and just plain more Christmas-y. We'll bake cookies, and make homemade snowflakes.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Spiritual Mismatch

Thanks for all your sweet comments yesterday about my bloggy reflections and conflicts. I'm feeling much better today. This is me. I'm not anonymous. Oh well.

I'm married to the love of my life and best friend. He's a wonderful husband and father. He's loving, kind, and generous. He works hard to provide for our family, and keep me home with our boys. We laugh together most days, and my favorite thing about us is that I can be myself around him. Goofy, moody, stressed, emotional, laughing, crying, whatever! He'll take it. He loves me for me. He's my life, my love, and my home on this earth.

Other than my heavenly Father above, my husband knows me better than anyone else. He knows my past, present, and would probably take a good gamble at my future. We do everything together.

Except one thing.

I walk a spiritual journey without him.

I have a love above all loves that he doesn't understand.

I know my Savior, Jesus Christ. He doesn't.

It's not easy, and sometimes I get discouraged.

Other times I remember that God is faithful and He is always in control!

Being married to an unbeliever is the strangest mix of emotions I can ever remember having.

I have a new and growing relationship with my God and my Savior. My relationship with the One and Only Jesus Christ brings me peace, joy, and happiness. Most days I'm brought to tears by God's grace, mercy and power, His mighty hand in my life, and His perfect plan for me.

At the same time, I struggle with feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and heartbreak. How can the same relationship that brings me peace, joy, comfort, and happiness also lead to so much anxiety and stress that I feel despair and sadness too?

Welcome to my world of an unequally yoked marriage.

In their book, Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, Lee and Leslie Strobel quote pollster George Barna as saying, "that among Americans as a whole, men are less likely than women to read the Bible, attend church, contribute to a charity, agree the Bible to be true, believe in the resurrection of Jesus, or pray to God. While three-quarters of American women say religion is "very important" in their life, only about half of men would agree. Half of females say their religious views have a great impact on their lives, yet less than a third of males say the same thing. Four times more men than women identify themselves as atheists, and seventy percent of women claim to have made a personal commitment to Jesus, compared to the sixty percent of men."

I guess I'm not alone in this? It's not always the easiest thing. My friend's husband, who was once an unbeleiver, once told me in regards to my husband, "Love like Jesus does". That has always stuck with me. I can't say I always do that, but I'm trying. I remain faithful that God has a plan for us.

I wait for the Lord to bless my marriage in ways that I could never have asked or imagined! {Ephesians 3:20}

To read more about my journey as a devoted wife to an unbelieving husband click on the label "unequally yoked marriage" at the bottom of this post.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bloggy Conflict

I'm totally conflicted.

Bear with me on this one...lately I'm all over the place. Literally!

I had this bright idea to create a home away from home in the blog world for myself. I prayed about it, and spent a little time decorating the new place. I was excited to see where it went. Until today.

I wanted to share a big piece of me with all of you, and at the time, I felt like this topic needed it's own home. I think I was wrong. I think I should have not been afraid to put it out there. Here.

There's just one thing missing at this new space. All of you.

To some degree, I wanted to shoot for some anonymity, but the truth is, not many people I know IRL read my blog, so what's the big deal?

If I was to grow or change as a blogger, but lost all of the wonderful connections I've made that have made this journey so special that would stink.

Have you ever wanted to move, change, or do something in this crazy thing we call blogging, but didn't quite know how?

I still want to share this tender topic, but I'm just not sure how.

Sometimes I feel smothered by the Shoebox. I want a place where I don't talk about homeschool, motherhood, or crafts. A place where no one really knows who I am. Sometimes I don't have the courage to write about everything I want to say. There's more to me. How do you fit it all in one tagline?

Can you picture a woman with a counter top covered from corner to corner with clutter? Picture me just taking one giant swoop across the whole thing and dumping it all in the trash and starting over. Dramatic?

That's how I feel.

That's pretty much how I feel about life in general right now.

Man, am I in a mood...


Bloggy Reflections

As always Shell's Pour Your Heart out Meme is a great place to be on a Wednesday. If you're new to it, check it out!

It's been about 6 months since I discovered the blog world. I was intrigued at the money saving tips I found online, and decided to click around a little and see what other tips were out there.

It didn't take long to discover that this underground world of adorable cartoon women was filled with so much more. Thousands of women sharing their stories online. I was hooked. I had to get a piece of the action! I wanted my own cute cartoon mom, my own adorable blog, my own readers, my own domain! Sigh...

Like always, I jumped right in without any planning or thought. I ran right out clicked around online and found somebody to help me make my blog a cuter place to be. Six months later, I'm realizing a few things.

I'm realizing that...
I don't need a cute blog to allow my voice to be heard.
I don't need an adorable cartoon to replace my real look.
I don't need to drop the {dot}blogspot to have a place people want to come back to.
I don't need to spend a lot of money on a blog design I've already outgrown.
I don't need to always hide behind my job as a mom and wife.
I don't always have to post something positive. People find encouragement in the comfort of company.
I don't need to be afraid to let me voice be heard.

I'm realizing that...
I do need to be true to myself and who I'm becoming. 

After staring this adorable cartoon mom in the face for six months, sometimes I feel like my blog no longer reflects who I am. Who I've become. The voice I have. In many many ways it does. But there's more to me.

I'm always honest in my posts. You know that, but I feel like breaking out of the mold of the blogger I thought I was going to be.

I'm realizing that after a few months of this amazing outlet to share my feelings and get to know me a little, I meeting someone new in me.

The past year has been monumental in my personal development. I've gone through and experienced things I haven't even gotten the courage to blog about yet. Curse those with an anon blog! Why didn't I think of that? I'm still experiencing things that will forever change who I am.

I'm different than I was. I like that.

Maybe the Shoebox will begin to reflect some of those changes? I don't know.

I sort of hope so. I'm not sure where God is leading me in the blogosphere, but the good news is...I know what I don't need to do.

If you're looking to catch up on Little Man's Birth Story from last week, you can see those posts HERE.
I was going to post Part 3 as my PYHO post, but what can I say? I changed my mind.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'd do it all again-Part 3

If you feel like reading...
Part 1
Part 2

If you're pregnant, I think you should skip this post. It just might be too much. If you stay and read because you can't stand me telling you not to read it, just know that what happened to me is not that common. I have never met anyone who has gone through something like this. But, I do think it's on the TMI side.

After about a week home with little improvement in my recovery, I was getting frustrated. All I had to go by was what the doctors were telling me I should be able to do, and family and friends who had gone through recovering from scheduled C-sections to use as examples. Nothing seemed to be going the way people were telling me it should be. The doctors just kept reassuring me that I had quite an ordeal in the delivery room, and perhaps my body was just recovering slower than expected.

I was able to get up with help, and walk very slowly if I stayed hunched over. There was NO way I could straighten up! It was hard to manage, but I just figured I had to deal with it. What else was I gonna do? It's not like I could "return" the broken product!

A few more days passed, and I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I could tell recovery was actually happening. Slowly but surely. Then one night hubs and I were sitting on the couch watching TV, when I noticed my lap was soaking wet.

I immediately looked down at my incision, and sure enough. It has burst.  Before you totally freak, it wasn't like a horror flick or anything. My stitches were still in tact, but I could tell that they weren't doing their job. My incision was open even though the stitches were there, and there was enough opening to allow a clear liquid to leak everywhere. Gross, I know. I lived it.

I rushed to the phone and called my OB, who of course, wanted  me in her office first thing in the a.m. Remember, it was late, and she didn't think I needed to go the ER, as I wasn't in any pain. Just totally freaked out. She instructed me to use one of those giant maxi pads/post partum diapers (love em!) to pad the area until morning. Sigh...

When I arrived at her office the next morning, there was no wait, and I was rushed to the back, immediately placed on the table. She came in so fast it was like they were waiting for me. Which made me even more nervous.

She preceded to examine the incision. This was when I really started to panic. Instead of talking to me, and telling me something like, "Oh, this happens all the time. We're gonna get you fixed right up." She was looking at my incision as if she had never seen anything like it, and she wasn't saying much.

After taking a long look, calling in another Dr., and a nurse, they all decided that I wasn't healing. They told me to relax, and not panic. Um..ok...Then the Dr. proceeded to use some surgical tools to rupture the remainder of the incision that was healing (but not really, it just appeared to be healed on the outside). All she had to do was touch it, and the rest of my incision opened up.

Ok, now I'm freaking out! I'm going to leave visuals out, but this was not ok with me! WTH?!

As the nurse is cleaning up this giant mess that has become my new problem, the doctor is quickly explaining the process of how your body is supposed to heal. It heals form the inside out. Even though a cut may look closed from the outside of your body, it's still open on the inside. Does that make sense? When you have a C-section several layers are cut in the abdomen area, and in order to heal properly you have to have a clear path to each layer, for healing to take place at each level.

That's why we have stitches. Stitches hold the outside together while the inside heals properly. Until this day, I had never put two thoughts into why we have stitches, but at this moment I was all ears!

In my case instead of the layers being able to attach to one another for proper healing, my layers were blocked with fluid, due to swelling.

Because of the complications during my delivery, the trauma to my body, and the amount of swelling I had prior to even being cut, my body was not all. My incision looked somewhat healed on the outside, but everything was wide open on the inside. Get it?

So, the solution. The Doctors would physically have to do what my body wasn't doing on it's own. They would have to assist each layer heal properly from the inside out.

How, you ask? I would have to keep my (now open) wound packed with special surgical gauze to keep the fuid from getting in the way. Every day for seven weeks I would be stuffing this giant hole in my body with tissue! What!?

I was sent home from that office with some extra gauze, and I was assured a nurse would be at my house first thing in the morning. Of course, all of this was going to make my mobility issues even harder. Let's not forget I have a six year old and a newborn to breastfeed.
Thank you for all your help, hubs! I couldn't have made it without you.

For the next seven weeks (ALL of my maternity leave) a day nurse came to the house and tended to my wound. It required care I cannot even type. Too much to tell, even after all I have already shared. I would not wish that freak show on anyone! We even had a nurse on Christmas morning!

As much of a pain as it was, I was thankful to have the help. I could not have managed without the nurse.

It was tough and at the time, and I felt like it was never going to end. But...

Six years later, I have a tiny little scar on the outside, a ton of scar tissue on the inside, and this...

A happy, healthy, amazing little boy!
Mr. E completed our family. I cannot imagine my life without him.
So, yes, I really would do it all over again!

Happy birthday, Mr. E!

Thanks for reading.

Needless to say, I will never get a boob job! I'm terrified to go under the knife!



Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm not concerned with the dates!

The boys and I have been working hard on our Jesse Tree. We've gotten a little off on the dates, but I'm choosing not to care. Over the weekend I felt like I was falling behind on getting the ornaments on the tree, and teaching the Bible lessons to the boys. Then I realized...I don't have to rush it! I would be happy if our Jesse Tree was up year round!

The point of the Jesse Tree is to teach God's providence, and hand in everything we are, everything we do, and his perfect plan of salvation through Jesus for us. His grace and mercy for us, even though we don't deserve it. It brings classic Bible stories to life, and shows the connection from the Old Testament to New.

So, who cares if I'm adding ornaments and reading the Bible story on the wrong day! God sure doesn't!

I want to encourage you...
If you're doing any type of Advent activity that requires any kind of calendar, count down, or organization that you've fallen behind on. Don't be discouraged! Just jump back in where you left off. What's the worst thing that could happen? We're teaching our children about the mighty hand of God after Christmas?

If I have been inspired to do one thing this Christmas season, it's dig into the Word more throughout the rest of the year with my kids!

Here's where we are on our Jesse Tree. Even hubs has joined the fun in helping make some of these ornaments. I'm determined to use what we have on hand to create these. I didn't want this activity to turn into another reason to shop. We even made another Noah's Ark, because the store bought ornament I had on hand just didn't flow with all the others.

(Click on the collage for a better view. I couldn't fit a larger image in the post.)

For a list of the ornament patterns and daily Bible readings I'm using go HERE.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

I'd do it all again! Part 2

Part 1

After a while, I began to check back in. Sort of.

I finally got to hold my sweet angel. He was precious and tiny and beat up. He looked just about as bad as I felt, only cuter. His poor little face was black and blue, and he had these two little cuts on his head. Nothing huge or serious, but the last thing you want to see is a cut on your newborn's tiny head. He was ok, though. Healthy. Ten fingers, ten toes, one tally wacker! He was perfect!

I was constantly torn between pure joy of being in awe of him, and the realization that I was in the worst pain I had ever been in. I had the worst of both worlds. The pain was EVERYWHERE. I had pushed for so long before the C-section, that it felt like I had actually delivered the baby and had a C-section a la carte!

I could not walk, move, sit up, cough, breathe, laugh. I swear it hurt to smile. It hurt to think about smiling!

The hospital stay was probably typical to any recovering mommy's stay. One that had an emergency C, like I had, anyway. I began to learn the details of the delivery and put the pieces together after talking with nurses, doctors, and my husband. My head fog was starting to pass, but the level pain I was in was crazy! I thought for sure there had to be something wrong, but everyone just kept assuring me it was because of the trauma of my delivery.

I was so swollen that you could press any part of my leg and leave a deep imprint that would stay for what seemed like forever! It was by far the weirdest thing I had ever seen.

It was so nice to be home. Finally. I had my oldest back form my mom's house, the baby where he belongs, and at least I could be in the comfort of my own home while in this pain. Breastfeeding was going well. The only draw back was that I had to lay on the couch, and hubs had to lift the baby out of his bassinet and hand him to me for feeding.

I layed on the couch, and the bassinet sat right next to me. I remeber that set up like it was yesterday.

I soon resorted to never puting back in the bassinet. I wanted to bond with him, and lying on the couch and just holding him was the easiest wat to do it. Breastfeeding saved my bond with him for sure! If he didn't need me, I probably would have just been absent. I was in pretty bad shape. I was still unable to get up, sit, walk without help. It just seemed so messed up. I knew that some recovery was normal, but this seemed crazy. It had been almost a week, and I still felt completely handicapped.

 I don't know if I should kill hubs or thank him for these photos?

At the time I wanted to kill him,
but today they mean so much more to me than a terrible picture.

So I layed there, and waited for time to pass.

A few nights later, my recovery took a turn for the worst.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'd do it all again! Part 1

By the time you read this post I will be well on my way to Chuck E. Cheese! Let's hope so anyway. I'm always late these days! For everything. That's a whole other topic of interest for me, but back to today's post...

My 5 yr. old will no longer be my 5 yr. old after Thursday. Sniffle, sniffle...

He will be 6 years old on December 9th.

Another year older, and another year closer to being a big kid. Sniffle some more...
He's my baby. There are no chances of having more for us. I'm not always ok with that. So this birthday stings a little.

After reading Shell's beautiful birth story yesterday, I was sent into my own memory lane of the day I delivered my sweet baby boy. It was no walk in the park!

I've been reliving it all day, so I wanted to share it with you.

(Maybe it's graffic? IDK? Any labor and delivery story is graffic to me, so just go with it. OR stay far far away if you're pregnant.)

I was induced around 8:00PM on December 8, 2004. They baby wasn't able to move at that point and my OB was concerned he may not be comfortable any longer, so we decided to induce.
(Still not sure if this was the right move for me and baby)

 I checked in, they hooked me up to all the machines, inserted the weird tampon looking thing (yes, I just went there), and hubs and I said our good-byes, as he needed to go home and take care of our big man until we knew more. We figured it was going to be the next day, and he just planned on coming back up first thing in the morning.

I settled in to a nice night of relaxing a long night of flipping through the 16 available channels by either pressing the up or down arrows on the controller.

The contractions began bright and early around 5 a.m. the next morning, and started getting really strong around 6:30 a.m. By then hubs was there, and I had some family in the lobby. My mom and sister.

Right about the time I was feeling like I was going to be cut in two (still no meds) was the same time there was a shift change at the hospital. Typical around 7 a.m. The anaesthesiologist had already clocked out, and the guy that was taking over was running late. I guess there was some hoo ha about the one that clocked out performing my epidural because he was already off the clock. Say what?!

After hearing my screams for another 30 minutes, and meeting my husband in the hall, he broke the rules. Thank God!

Ok, now I can do this, I'm alright.

My contractions were one right after the other, all of the right parts were doing what they were supposed to, but baby was stuck in the crowning position. We pushed for almost 4 hours before they took me in  for an emergency C-section.

The baby couldn't pass my pelvic area. He was too big.

In order to perform the C-section they had to push the baby back up into the birth canal. When they finally got him out he was sunny side up. My husband said his head popped up and it seemed like he sat straight up(obviously he was delirious), but his little head just bobbled all over. That's what I've been told anyway, because I missed all of it thanks to that blue curtain. I wouldn't have remembered anyway, though.

The baby was bruised all over. He had a couple cuts on his head, and his face was bruised in the shape of a muzzle around the bottom. Poor thing!

I was a mess too! Because of the trauma of pushing for so long and the surgery to boot my body was in shock. I was swollen from head to toe. Really swollen. Even my lips were raw and swollen? I do not remember anything about the surgery. In fact, I was devastated to find out I wasn't asleep.

You guys will love this!

Years later I thought everyone gets put out for a C-section. After all, that's what they did to me. Well, after voicing this knowledge I have of the delivery room during my sister's C-section, I was quickly reminded by my husband that I was awake the whole time. "Of course, you were awake, honey. You don't remember this...or that...?"

I was heartbroken-I don't remember any of it. What I'm able to tell you is more of a I-know-what-happened- after-the-fact story.

I'm crystal clear on everything up to the surgery. By that time, my body was so traumatized, I just checked out.

We don't have that cute C-Section picture. You know the one with the heads? The mom looks lovely because she arrived on time and beautiful to her scheduled C, and the Dad is glowing of shock because he just witnessed something Animal Planet-ish, and the baby is swaddled up tight in that blanket we all have universally around the world. The white one with blue and pick stripes. That picture? We don't have one of those. I'm not over that (if you can't tell).

I don't remember anything except "waking up" (but not really-because I was never put to sleep) in the recovery room. Alone. For a minute or so it seemed. Then a nurse came in and asked me a bunch of questions, and the next thing I remember is "waking up" again in my real room with hubs and baby.

I had no concept of time, I had no idea where my son was (my big man-my only child-no more), I had several visitors who had been sent home, and I was not doing well. I felt paralyzed, and scared. But none of this actually came out of my mouth. It just sat in a sea of fuzz in my brain. I'm not even sure I held the baby right away. I couldn't wait to hold him, but I didn't have the strength right at that moment. Nothing could have prepared me for the level of pain I was in. Nothing could have prepared me for what was ahead either.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Santa really real, Mom?

I usually play up the whole Santa thing pretty good. We leave him cookies and milk. After the kids are asleep we drink the milk and leave only crumbs on the plate. We make reindeer food and sprinkle it in the front yard. Yes, I scrape it up in the middle of the night so it's gone the next morning. Santa's gift is always wrapped in some sort of shiny paper that none of the other gifts are wrapped in. We fill stockings to the brim, and pretend we have no idea how he got in since we don't have a chimney.

I love Christmas-everything about it! But this year, I've felt convicted that perhaps we take the Santa thing too far. I certainly don't let Santa get the glory of the season. That is for Jesus! We absolutely focus on Christ more than anything, and Santa is just someone special who has Jesus in his heart. Santa is a faithful servant of Christ. He reminds us give to others. This is all the stuff I say when asked about the guy in the red suit. But this year, I feel different. Should I tell my little guy that Santa's not real? Please don't answer that.

I asked Hubs about it, who is pretty anti-Santa. He thinks it's mean to lie to little kids, and set them up for disappointment. But when I asked him if he thought we should tell our little guy the truth, he wanted to wait.

Ok, so it's all not so true. But, it's part of being a kid, right?

Strangely this year, he's been asking me lots of questions. I'm gonna keep praying about it, and let God work it out. I've been doing a pretty lousy job at answering said questions, too.

Little man: Is Santa really real, mom?

Mom: (Oh, God. What do I say?) What do you think? (That's the best I could do.)

Little man: I don't think he is, but I don't get why we feed the reindeer?

( comment...Is he going to keep this conversation going, or is that it?...Yup, that was it.)

This is my absolute favorite ornament. Has anyone ever seen this? The poem on the back brings me to tears every year. This past year my ornament was ruined in our shed. Sniffle sniffle...It's still hanging on our tree, but the poem on the back is not legible anymore. Thank God for the Internet!

Santa's Christmas Prayer- Ornament

This is the poem that reads on the back...I have no idea who the author is? It's not me. (That should clear up any copyright problems, right?)

Santa's Christmas Prayer
On Christmas Eve the other night
I saw the most amazing sight,
for there beneath the Christmas tree
was Santa kneeling on his knee.
His countenance was different than
that all-familiar, jolly grin;
his head was bowed, with hand to breast,
and slightly tucked into his vest.
For there in a nativity
was Jesus and His family,
and as I heard him start to pray
I listened close to what he'd say.
"Lord, You know that You're the reason
I take pleasure in this season.
I don't want to take Your place,
but just reflect Your wondrous grace.
I hope you'll help them understand
I'm just an ordinary man,
who found a way to do Your will
by finding kids with needs to fill.
But all those centuries ago,
there was no way for me to know
that they would make so much of me,
and all the gifts beneath the tree.
They think I have some hidden power
granted at the midnight hour,
but it is my love for You
inspiring the things I do.
And so when they begin to open
gifts for which they have been hoping,
may they give You all the glory,
for You're the One True Christmas story."

Be sure to check out what we're up to during Advent!
I typed up some useful Advent verses for you, so feel free to print them below!

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Happenings-A treat for you!

Well, we're into the 2nd week of December already! I hope you have been able to find some ways to make Christmas special this year while sharing the true meaning of the season.

After doing a little clicking around, I found a site that will enable me to share one of my word files with you.
(I think!) allows you to upload word docs to their site and gives you an HTML code, so you can add them to your blog. Nice! Hopefully it works. Instead of retyping them each day on here, I thought this was way easier! Please let me know how you like using that service. I'm really curious to see if you like it.

I wanted to share the Bible verses that I put in our Advent Calendar. Each day the boys can open up that day's box and find one of these verses tucked inside. This word doc is really just my own notes. Some of the verses have a tidbit in red after the verse. It may be an idea on an activity that goes along with the verse, a thought God placed on my heart when I typed up the list, or just any old extra stuff. Some verses have nothing but the verse. It's literally my personal list of verses and thoughts. No particular order to things, other than these are the verses I wanted to share with the boys each day of Advent.

I hope you find them helpful and maybe you can incorporate some of them into your own activities and Bible time. Enjoy!

Advent verses -

We've also been coasting along with our Jesse Tree. The boys are really enjoying that! I have a super cool story to share with you about that. I'm working on typing up a post, so stay tuned for some warm fuzzies.

Here's peek at some of the ornaments we've added to the tree since my last post.

Day 2: God is the Creator of all things.
Genesis 1:26-31

Day 3: Adam and Eve
Genesis 3: 1-19
 (It's an apple and a serpent. The serpent sort of looks like a worm, but what are you gonna do?)

Day 4: Noah's Ark
Genesis 6: 11-14; 7: 17-8: 3; 9: 8-13

(I had a Noah's Ark ornament already. Score!)

Tip for the day: Simplify!
What can you make easier for yourself this Christmas? What can be crossed of the to-do list?
There's always a few things that really don't need to happen. A few trips out we can limit.

Here's a small example of my own:
My youngest is celebrating his 6th birthday this week. In the midst of the season I have to pause, and do the birthday thing. With great joy, of course! However, it's easy to get carried away. I decided to simplify the party, expense of said party, and an extra trip to the store for myself by eliminating goody bags! That's right no treat bag for the guests.

I'm feeding them pizza, cake, and drinks. All of the kids at the party will have a bagillion tokens to use at Chuck E. Cheese for their buying pleasure, and most the goody bag filler is garbage nobody parents don't even want to carry away from your party. I think the whole goody bag thing will be a waste.

Therefore, I am simplifying!

What can you do to simplify this week?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

The kids and I have been busy (in a good way) preparing for Advent. Over the past weekend we put up our tree, hung the lights, and have jumped into the joy of the season. It's on my heart to share with you some of what we're doing  here at the Shoebox to make Christ the center of our Christmas season. It is my prayer that you will enjoy some of my ideas, and be inspired to celebrate Christmas in a whole new way with your family this year. May the peace of Christ fill every nook and cranny of your home and hearts this season!

I will be posting throughout the month, so stay tuned!

Our themes for the Advent season are Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. My prayer for my children(and myself and my husband) is that we would not be distracted by anything this year that would steal the hope, peace, love, and joy that God has planned for us. I've made a few personal decisions to make an effort to eliminate distractions for myself in the hopes that it will trickle down to everyone in my home. What can you do to limit distractions for yourself and your family? Ask God what you should do. He'll tell you!

Week 1-Hope:
God's promises never fail! So many of the prophecies and promises God made hundreds of years ago have been made true in Christ. We can put our hope in Him. He never lets us down.

December 1

Bible Reading:
Isaiah 11:1
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."

We will make the first ornament of our Jesse Tree with this verse and discuss God's hand in our lives, His almighty providence, and his perfect plan to give us a Savior from the first day of creation.

If you're not familiar with The Jesse Tree, go HERE or just Google it! It's an awesome tool in teaching the Bible to your kids at Christmas time. It teaches God's hand in the perfect plan for Christ from Genesis to Jesus with a short Bible reading for each day, and an ornament to add to your tree. You can make the ornaments, or simply print and color them. Keep it simple! We did. Remember, it's not about the elaborate decorations, it's about the time you spend in God's Word with your kids.

I also made this Advent calendar. Tucked inside of each day is a special verse that goes along with our 4 themes: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Each day as we count down to Christmas morning, they will find a verse inside. The calendar was made from paper towel holders cut into 2 inch segments, and then decorated with tags, paint, or whatever else your heart desires. You can see the before pic here to give you an idea.

Great idea:
The book of Luke has 24 chapters. Perfect for the month! I encourage you to read one chapter each day with your kids. I am reading the NIV myself as part of my morning quiet time, and then breaking it down with the young readers Bible I have to make it easier to share with the kids. Instead of waiting until Christmas morning to talk about the story of Christ's birth, tell them now. Then during the month they can get to know the Savior through the wonderful book of Luke in God's Word.

Special activity: Make a blessing box with your kids. Place an empty box under your tree, and fill it throughout the month with items for a family in need. Add to it each day. When your out and about pick up something for your blessing box. It's a great way to involve the kids in the gift of giving, and it helps keep the focus off of getting when your shopping.

Here's a pic of our box. We wrapped it in white craft paper, and plan on decorating it. It looks like we'll need to get another box soon. So far the boys have filled it with canned goods, and non perishable foods. They have drawn some pictures and packed up some ornaments too.

Most importantly, ask God to direct you to a family that needs it! Deliver the week of Christmas, and bless someone that needs to see God's love!

Tip for the day:
If you can, get your shopping done. It helps to get it over with so you can relax. If you're not able to right now, that's ok. I'm not quite done yet, but I plan on trying to get everything done this week.

Also, don't feel the pressure to buy something for someone just because they got something for you. This is always a last minute shopping trap! Someone gave you that gift to bless you, not stress you out. Remember throughout the new year, and return the blessing when God places it on your heart.

Shop online! Avoid crowds and stress by completing your from home.