Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Love Wins.

So there's this chick with a better blog than mine, her name is Jen Hatmaker. And in so many ways she is what I want to be when I say "I'm a Christian." So to all who have read any of my posts about homosexuality, her post wins. Please read it here but read it in its entirety. This is what a true Christian looks like. We do not wish to condemn. We should be peacemakers, caretakers and lovers of the souls of others. Know this is my heart as well towards any who bear the shame and guilt of sin just as I do. Relationships win. Love wins.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How My Celebrity Boyfriend Makes My Marriage Stronger

So I love Facebook. It's my kryptonite. But that's a whole other post. You probably have all these crazy, silly quizzes that pop up in your news feed, just like I do, when your friends take quizzes and then share their results. Well I just love a cheesy quiz. So the other night I couldn't resist when someone posted the "celebrity boyfriend quiz". Curiosity always seems to get me. I go through all the questions (half of which typically have NOTHING to do with whichever quiz I'm taking) and click to see my results. Here's what I got for the latest one: Vin Diesel. I loved it. He's manly, daring, protective, everything a girl wants in a man, right?! (Well, this girl anyhow.) Here's what the blurb explaining my celebrity boyfriend was : The guy for you is a man's man with a whole lot of muscle - and a passion for dancing to Beyonce. He's a tough guy and a lovable goofball who'll keep you warm at night. Just make sure to always buckle your seat belt, because you're in for a wild ride."

That's my husband to a "T" - well except dancing to Beyonce; we prefer dancing to One Direction with the kiddos. But I digress. I took a snapshot of that and sent it to him, to which he responded by letting me know he was now ignoring me. Okay, fair enough. If he had a celebrity girlfriend, I'd be mad, too (his by the way would be Kate Beckinsale, I already know that's a fact). But in all fairness (to me) I really just wanted to show him how awesome he was when I sent him that snapshot. You see, I may tease him about stuff like celebrity boyfriends, but to me, HE IS the Vin Diesel of my life. First a Marine and now a policeman, he is certainly tough like my celebrity boyfriend. And he is definitely a goofball (although you only get the privilege of seeing this side of him if you're in his inner circle). Man's man? Check. He loves guns, the outdoors, can survive out in the woods (I think his zombie apocalypse quiz said he'd survive like 170 some days? - oops sorry babe, just gave away that you're cheesy, too!), can start fires without matches or lighters, purify water, keep warm, etc, etc. And although the blurb above doesn't use the word "hot", my man is that, too. While I definitely described him as "hot" in our high school days, before I had any gray hair, and when he had hair (oops, sorry again babe), he is even hotter now. He is hot not only because he is handsome, but because he puts his daughters' hair in ponytails and he teaches his son about guns and gun safety. He is hot because he doesn't just pull people over by using stereotypical profiling as some law enforcement officers do, but makes sure he is fair in the means he uses for getting a stop. (He could increase his numbers by doing so and impress the brass, but as he says, that is just wrong and not fair to those drivers.) Swoon. He kisses hurts and dances with daughters and passes along manly things to our son. He gives me a day off to spend with a girlfriend when I'm about to lose it from correcting so many temper tantrums and implementing so many training sessions that I can't remember if I brushed my teeth that day. He works full-time, aces his college classes and still finds time to help the boy scout troop, shovel drives and serve our family in Christ. So when I post that my celebrity boyfriend is Vin Diesel, I do so knowing that no one can compare to my real life boyfriend, my husband. The one who cherishes me and protects me. The one who loves me when I'm cranky and stinky because I haven't slept or showered because our children have been unusually whiny due to new teeth, or a bad day at school, or the flu, or etc., etc., etc. He is hotter than any celebrity, hands down, because he provides for his family, sacrifices his sleep, his truck, his vacation days to serve us. He is hot because he understands the strength it takes to humble oneself to the Creator of all the earth in obedience and to lead his family in the way we should go in the face of a society that says that's not politically correct.

So when I post about my celebrity boyfriend, it only makes my marriage stronger because it gives me an opportunity to tell him how much hotter he is than any celebrity, any day, hands down. And plus it gives me an opportunity to tease him. Which is what dating couples might do - and I never want to stop dating my husband. Now it's your turn : what fun ways do you tease your spouse to show him/her you still love and adore them?

Monday, March 17, 2014

UPDATE

Wow, wow, wow. That's what God leaves me saying over and over. You'll understand that we have been praying for Paislee's eye for months. You'll remember from my post in November that Paislee had two issues going on in her eyes, both extremely rare. We had surgery in November to remove her natural lens which had a cataract and to replace it with an artificial lens. She was seeing 20/100 in her right eye prior to surgery. I am happy to tell you that her doctors are absolutely thrilled that she is now seeing 20/40 out of that eye (with glasses). We will continue to patch 4 hours a day, at least until our next appointment towards the end of April. But that is not what I am so excited to share right now. At our last appointment (which was a few weeks ago - sorry) they noticed that the Duane's syndrome is improving. They are perplexed. Don't you just love it when even doctors are stumped by our God's power?! I love it. My sweet little one's left eye is the one with Duane's syndrome and it was not severe enough for them to intervene with surgery, but God is intervening. They are going to watch it but they were all noticing that it was better! I had no clue. I've been so preoccupied with her right eye which had surgery, that I totally missed what was going on under my nose. God just never ceases to amaze me and I always forget to quit putting limits on Him. When will I learn? Anyhow God is good, Paislee is doing much better and we are in awe yet again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What does GOD think of US? Part II

You know there are times that people hurt you. But I've learned that the ones with the opportunity to hurt you the very most, the ones you least expect it from, are those who you love the very most. My children, my husband, my family, my dearest friends all have an opportunity to hurt me deeper than anyone else, in large part because they know me the best. They know my weaknesses, my insecurities and they could use those to hurt me if they wanted to. However, part of the reason they have the ability to hurt me deeper than anyone else could is because I love them the very most. I don't care as much if an acquaintance hurts me, I don't really have that much vested in them and so I can move on without them if need be. But those closest to me, those I care the very most about, these have the potential to hurt me profoundly because these are the people I would do almost anything for. A wound from one of these doesn't allow me to shed the relationship without a deep aching until the hurt is resolved.

After I wrote the first post with this title (part one I suppose), it struck me that those of us who are parents can relate to God in the protectiveness of our own children. How many times do we feel as if we'd like to shake the earth around those who dare hurt our little loves? Which got me thinking about how our kids can also infuriate and anger and hurt us. So, what then must God think of us when we hurt Him? How much more must it sear Him when we betray Him? When we trample His Son's sacrifice, when we turn our backs, when we deny Him? Sometimes I think we forget about or deny this part of God: His ability to have emotions. But we are created in His image so it stands to reason that He has emotions just as we have been given. And we have evidence of emotions experienced by God. I believe what we might describe as pride (not the arrogant kind, but a pleasure of accomplishment) is evidenced in Genesis 1 when God sees what He has created and calls it "good" (Genesis 1:10, 18, 21, 25 and 31). God also experienced regret or something similar to it when He decided to destroy the earth in Genesis 6:6. He also displays again what we may call pride with what His Son was doing in Matthew 17:5 when He says He is "pleased" with Christ and instructs those present to "Hear Ye Him". But one emotion that God is described as having over and over and over again, by name, is jealousy. God is described as jealous in Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24 and Joshua 24:19 just to name a few. I believe one reason God is so jealous is because we EXIST because of Him. Not only do we exist because of Him but we have the opportunity for salvation, eternity in heaven because of His plan. He has done so much to save man from himself and yet over and over we go back into the mudbath and dirty ourselves again. We ignore instruction, we get creative with His church, we deliberately disobey at times. How much that must hurt Him. After all the things He has done, all the patience He has shown, how can we return to sin and wallow in it? How betrayed God must feel at times. It amazes me how He can even stand to put up with us. And not just by showing patience with how we treat Him, but how we treat each other.

Well we can know what God thinks of us when we betray Him and hurt Him. God sees our sorry position and feels compassion on us; He chooses to still love us. He showed that by even allowing for a plan to crucify His special Son to give us a way to be redeemed. But it is not without action. Just as you would not blindly accept a loved one to hurt you time after time with no promise to try better, without an apology, God doesn't allow us to escape His anger and certain punishment without action from us. But what God asks of us is so simple that we often refuse it just as Naaman did, expecting that it should take some big miracle to heal us (2 Kings 5:13-14). However, when we give our lives over to God in obedience via a simple baptism, we gain that cloak of Christ (Galatians 3:27) that covers our sin and washes it away (Acts 22:16). We once again are to God as the one crying out for help whom He would shake the earth in order to save. Just as a simple act of obedience and sorrow from our little children turn our hearts back to them, our full obedience turns God's heart back toward us. Wow. That just makes me think of AMAZING GRACE, how sweet the sound.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What does GOD think of US?

Tonight my husband and I were studying a question he had been posed in one of his bible classes (don't worry, he wrote his answers before I told him my thoughts so no academic integrity was harmed in the making of this post). Anyhow, I just loved the thought process that was provoked by his professor. Here is the question. What does GOD think of US? He poses this question regarding several different verses from the Bible and asked them to answer that question about each of these passages. While I loved the whole idea, a couple really struck me and I had to share. So, please take a minute and read the following two passages, then stop and ask yourself what GOD thinks of us based on these scriptures. It is pretty powerful to see how GOD, our creator, views us.

Psalm 18:1-19, ESV

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.


Psalm 139, ESV

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!


Sometimes I think in our society we forget that God pays attention to us. So many seem preoccupied with the thought that God doesn't care or God isn't involved. We push Him out of every area of our lives because we don't think He wants us. But He does. He wants our lives, our hearts so much that His anger would shake the earth in order to save just one of His creation from their enemies. If only we would make Him our priority we could see His power and resulting tenderness upon us.

Or perhaps we don't see His concern for us because we are too wrapped up in pleasing men, who are able to do nothing compared to God. We value the opinions of men so much today and that leads us down so many wrong roads. I think if we truly understood what God honestly thinks about us, we wouldn't care so much about what men think.

If you read these two passages and don't understand the love, protection, passion, thoughtfulness and importance that God places upon His created people, then I am not sure you read the same words I did. He is interested in our details. No, we can't always see these things as clearly as the writers of the Bible describe them, but that's precisely why their words are written for us; so that we may remember these things when we can't see it in our own lives. Yes, life here is messy, but YOU are important to GOD; so important that He listens when you cry out after Him.

I'd love if you'd share what you see in these passages about God's view of us. What stands out to you? Did anything jump out at you that you hadn't noticed before?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4: Thankful for God's Providence

Soooo - several of you have asked about why Paislee is wearing a patch and some have probably noticed but not wanted to ask while still some of you know most of the story. There were some extra pieces I wanted to share today as we prepare to go to surgery on Thursday. In fitting with the November thankfulness theme on Facebook (which I absolutely love each year to share and also read what my friends are thankful for) I thought it was especially timely to share today what I'm thankful for in my blog instead of just a few sentences that can't do justice to simply being thankful for God's providence. I hope you'll take the time to read the entire entry.

I have to preface this by saying that I always thought her right eye seemed lazy or something. As she has become an older toddler, I have noticed that she will still run into things, a little more often than a 3 year old should. When it was time for my annual eye exam, I called our optometrist's office and asked if they could also see her. I should have know right then we were headed for something more than getting glasses. When I called they told me I was in luck, they had 'just' brought on a pediatric optometrist who would could take a look at her. Great timing, I thought and was slightly relieved. That appointment was just a few weeks away and I was a little nervous because I knew something had to be wrong but hoped it would be nothing more than needing glasses. So off we went to our appointments one Thursday afternoon. True to her nature, she did everything they asked of her and was happy to please the doctor and assistants. The doctor came in and told me she needed to dilate her eyes because something was blocking her sight in the right eye but she couldn't determine what. Ok, no problem, please do. I didn't know how worried I should be which only made me worry more. Shortly thereafter she determined it was a cataract and I thought oh, not so bad. My dad had one of those a while back and it was a relatively simple procedure to take it off. She told us we could go to Riley or there was a doctor from Cincinnati that came to Richmond weekly and she had used him before so she could refer us to him. Not knowing anyone in the eye industry I wanted to go with the doctor she had worked with before plus we figured it would be less intimidating to Paislee than going to some HUGE hospital. We took our appointment which was over a month away, October 22nd. That didn't sit well with me though, knowing there was a problem. I wanted her seen much quicker than that. So I requested that they check to see if Riley could get us in any sooner. They were happy to check but we were reassured that was a typical time frame to wait and not to expect to be seen by Riley any quicker. Of course their offices were closed for the evening. So we prayed. We prayed that God would guide us to the right doctor. That whichever office had the quickest appointment would be the right place for us. And we waited until the next day. I received a call Friday morning that Riley would see us Monday afternoon. I was overwhelmingly relieved to hear that. As much as I trusted her judgment that the other doctor was great, I knew God answered our prayer. When praying I thought we'd be days different in appointments - that we would be looking at mid-October and it would be a matter of before or after October 22nd by a few days that would make our decision. But no, God made it abundantly clear we were to be at Riley; instead of an almost 6 week wait we would now be seen within days.

That Monday came and we met the doctors at Riley. They played "games" to determine what her vision in that eye was by asking her to identify pictures such as cupcakes and trucks, houses and trees. They dilated her eye to look at the size and location of the cataract. Hers is right in the middle of her eye. We also learned it is not like a typical cataract that adults get in that the effect in children is much worse and it is much more rare. In an adult, eyesight is established. After surgery, the eye sees normally and it is described as a blind being lifted. In a child, where eyesight is not yet well established, the brain shuts that eye off. So her left eye has vision of 20/20 but her right eye had vision of 20/100. Her tiny cataract that was nothing more than a finger smudge (as far as what it appears as when looking through it) was causing her to slowly go blind in that eye as her brain ignored it because of its location and her age. They did agree surgery would be necessary at some point but would rather wait. Apparently the eye isn't fully developed until age 6 or 7. By waiting as long as possible, there is less guess work on the strength and size of the lens to use once they remove her natural lens that has the cataract. Either way, it would not be like an adult where it's a fifteen minute procedure that restores normal vision. It is more like 45 minutes since they have to measure and calculate what size and strength of lens they believe her eye will need when she reaches 6 or 7 years of age. They also determined she has another rare condition called Duane's syndrome which causes her left eye to only turn inward and center. It will not turn outward so she loses all the sight on the far left and must turn her head to see anything on that side. It has to do with the way the nerves developed when she was developing in the womb. Those nerves are somewhat mis-wired. Thankfully at this point it is not severe enough for them to do anything about. In some cases it can cause problems with the spine and neck as they compensate for the lost sight by turning their heads and craning their necks. So there was relief that it was indeed 'just a cataract' and worry (why does she have two rare conditions, each in separate eyes?). Still, I was and am grateful we are dealing with something like eyesight, not leukemia or cancer or some other life-threatening health problem. I remind myself on a regular basis that this will not affect her in a life-altering detrimental way.

So we began the patching process. Some of you may have noticed this. We patch the left eye (the 'good eye') for 6 hours a day to force her to use only the right eye with the cataract. The hope was that by forcing her brain to rely on the right eye we would strengthen that eye and improve the vision and be able to delay surgery for a bit. However, after 6 weeks we had a follow up last week and there was absolutely no improvement. Even with her three year old self being so good to wear the patch (some days were a fight and some days she ripped it off early, but for a three year old she did pretty well with it). They decided she needed surgery sooner rather than later. Within a month or so. It will require that we have 8 appointments within 90 days, including surgery day and the day after when they will want to see her and remove the surgery patch. We will have to do a steroid and antibiotic drop three times a day for 90 days after the surgery as well. She will need to wear glasses since the lens they will replace her natural lens with will be aimed at her fully developed 6 or 7 year old eye. The hope is by 6 or 7 she will need glasses only for reading and up close tasks. However, since her brain has ignored her eye, we will patch again now that there will be no cataract to impede her vision in order to restore the vision in that eye more fully. So there is a lot to do for a three year old. She has received nothing but praise from the doctors for how well she does. She even allowed them to get some eye measurements at our appointment Monday which will reduce the amount of measurements they need to take during surgery. The procedure will be about 45 minutes long and total time should be around an hour and fifteen minutes. Perhaps for me the worst of all of this is allowing her to be put under anesthetic. However, I KNOW God is already 90 some days down the road, waiting for us at the end of this little bump in our road. He has shown me that He is by the ways He has already been working.

From the first call to have her looked at with the "we just had a pediatric optometrist join our practice" answer, God was showing us that He had been working all this out for us to ease our burden. I am sure His hand allowed us to be seen at Riley the following Monday instead of almost six weeks later. But there is more evidence. While at the follow up appointment they asked us to be part of a study. There are two steroid drops that they use (either one or the other) to help after surgery. The manufacturer of one, Bausch & Lomb, is attempting to get the steroid approved by the FDA for its use in children. They've been using it this way but there is no steroid drop approved for use in children. The study will allow them to collect the data to back up and pave the way for approval. So we would be using that drop potentially anyhow. It is not experimental at all. Being part of the study means they pick which of the two steroid drops we use instead of our doctors picking. However, if we determine that the drop they picked isn't working for her, we are allowed to simply drop out of the study and pick up with the other drop. The plus side of all this is that we will receive financial assistance with the trips to Riley that we would have to make anyhow. So, nothing changes on our part except they pick which of the two drops and they reimburse us for some of our expenses. No brainer. The funny thing is that they worked to get to be a part of this study over a year ago and it 'just' opened up for enrollment and they 'just' starting accepting enrollments the DAY of our follow up appointment when they determined Paislee needed surgery. We were only the second family to be asked and they will only take 12 families from Riley (although there will be a lot more participants all over the nation and some internationally as well). So if we had found and corrected this earlier or later we would have a lot of expenses and no help. The other timing that worked out well is that we've already met our deductible this year when we had Kate. So the financial burden of this is going to be greatly lessened. I can do nothing but shake my head in wonder at God's providence. The last piece of His care I've already seen play out is the date of the surgery. When they took us to surgery scheduling, they were booked well into December. They didn't want to wait that long for several reasons. They determined at first to bump us to Thursday of the same week (last week - whoa). We would have taken it, of course, but that was Richard's day to work and he is out of vacation days. By the time the dust settled they determined it would be better to bump someone off this week's schedule and put Paislee on for surgery on the 7th of November which, of course, 'just' happens to be Richard's day off. Say what?! Thank you, God. Thank you.

I truly don't know how anyone could look at all these circumstances that 'just' worked out in our favor and not see God's hand. As Romans 8:28 tells us, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." His guidance and care are there, if we seek to do His will. This is why today I am thankful for God's providence.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The 30 Year Old Version of Me!

For some reason 30 feels like such an exciting milestone to me. I don't think
I've been as excited about a birthday since I turned 18 and became an 'adult'. If 18 is the age you legally become an adult, then 30 is the age you start believing you are an adult. At least that is how it feels to me. It seems as if most of my twenties were spent figuring out how to be an adult. How to juggle finances and {meaningful} relationships and how to keep another human being alive.

So as I climb into this new type of adulthood, I have been reflecting upon my past 30 years. What I've learned and what I've experienced. I am excited about where I am in life and what lies ahead. Here are some of the things I've realized about my 30 year old self and some things I'm looking forward to now that I'm 30.

1. I know who I am. This took me a long time to figure out and even longer to realize that I had figured it out. I am an open book, a perfectionist, a teacher (to my children). I am opinionated, friendly and passionate. I am also a Christian which means I am a sinner. But I know what makes me who I am are the decisions I make each day as to how I will live out my life. Who I am can change for worse or for the better. The priorities I make, the things I teach my children, the words I use when I speak, how I spend my time and money. These are all things that make me who I am and I must be diligent to protect who I am and who I will continue to be.

2. I know what I stand for. So inter-connected to number one above and yet completely different. It seems to me a whole lot of people know exactly who they are, but they don't stand for anything. They might be a tough cookie or a sweet southern belle. But they are swept about by society's standards of right and wrong. Their standards of right and wrong change as their life experiences change. I stand for principles and standards that are given by the Creator of the Universe. They are not dependent upon governments or popularity or even my own opinions. They are standards based upon the Truth of God's word.

3. I have a purpose. I know why I am here. I don't need to ask the question so many ask. I know my purpose is bigger than myself. My purpose is to be a tool for God to bring others to know Him. To be His instrument and to be available. To touch the lives of others in a way that they recognize their thirst for God. Don't get me wrong. I mess it up and get in the way so many times I'm embarrassed. I'm still figuring out the how of this one. But, I know my purpose. I want to be that tool in the lives of my family, friends and that stranger in the grocery line. And the fact I still have some things to figure out is a challenge I welcome.

4. I have had many experiences. Some good, some bad. I've had victories and heartaches. I've had emotions. Whether anger, love, pride, humiliation or anxiety, I can relate to others in situations like my own or different from my own because I've experienced some of what life has to offer. Not that I know how to handle everything, but that I can sympathize with others. I can be happy for you or cry with you because we are both human beings, made in the image of God and there is nothing new under the sun.

5. I have a future. I do not know how long that future will be, but I know God knows the winding path that lies ahead of me and that He will never leave me.

6. I know where I am going, I know my destination. If my future is what path my life will take, my destination is where I'll land permanently. My Father has prepared heaven for me. That's where I'm planning to reside. A place where exists only love, kindness and light. Some people say this place doesn't exist - that it's wishful thinking. Even if you believe that this is wishful thinking, why wouldn't you wish for a destination like that?

7. I have an awesome support group. My church family, physical family and friends are ever-evolving. There are different people who have been in my life at different times. Some are gone for good and some have come, gone and come back. Still others are new fixtures in my life. For now I'm grateful for those who've helped shape my experiences in the past and for those experiencing life with me in this moment.

8. I am approaching a decade of marriage to my BEST FRIEND. With a decade invested in any relationship, there are bound to be ups and downs. Because this type of relationship is bound by a commitment, we have shared both the ups and downs and now have a history unfolding that only deepens our love and friendship. Thankfully I am still excited to see what adventures lie ahead of us. I am still glad he chose me.

9. Lastly, I look forward to the return of some freedoms I lost during the last 7 years. When your first child appears on the landscape of life, there are so many things that you are not free to do anymore. No last minute weekend trips for shopping sprees or hikes at a state park or to professional sporting events. You must either {A} plan far enough ahead to secure someone worth keeping and caring for your child or {B} plan far enough ahead to pack up half your house. And that's if you have any money left after providing for said child. As I enter my 30s I glimpse a horizon that doesn't include diapers, wipes, bottles, bibs and car seats. Yes I will still have most of those accessories for a bit, but in a few short years my kids will be able to control their bladders and eat food no matter where we are. They won't need a special seat to ride along and they will not need constant supervision in order to prevent choking on random objects or to avoid toppling over as they learn to walk. I dream of camp outs and drives through the country on a whim, an occasional amusement park or an unexpected trip to a friend who lives miles and miles away. While I love my years with my babies, I am excited when I see a future with interactive school age children.

I know this has been an extra long post, but in a society that places so much value on youth, I insist on taking time to reflect on the positive things that come with a little bit of age and to relish in the adventures that lie ahead of me! And through my journey, I hope that God may be glorified no matter what phase of life I find myself in.