2017: The year of trust

Today is December 29, there are just a few days left in the year. As I lay in my bed while the rest of the house sleeps I think of the Christmas village still in my dining room, and the undecorated tree on my patio that needs to be burned or chipped. I think of cleaning my home of 2017 and preparing for the next year to come. This year has been one for the books. It has been a tough year for my family, but in a lot of ways it has been a great year too. This year has been a year of illness, death, changes, diagnoses, fear, faithfulness. God has used this year to show me many weaknesses in my life and He has grown me into a better, stronger, more teary eyed woman. If I had to pick one word for 2017 it would be “trust”.

This year started out with my Grandfather battling cancer, my husband’s Granny dying, and talks of career changes. All three of those things required trusting in the Lord. All of these required immediate trust in the Lord. My husband and I both started the year out with plans to change jobs. Don was a CO at a State prison, a job he loved (yea, I don’t get it either), but he believed the Lord was leading him to a job at our local police department. Meaning he would leave the walls of the prison to go out on the streets, where just a month earlier two officers were killed. Fear. Deep fear. And trust. Serious trust that the Lord would protect him. I would leave my first teaching job in a self contained EBD classroom and I had no idea where God would lead me from there.

As the year went on Don was hired at the APD and we said goodbye to the prison, a job that came at just the right time our first year of marriage. He left the prison and left our home and went to Police academy, leaving me at home with our 1 year old twins. Trust. He came home and went to work as a bonified Police man, bullet proof vest and all. Trust, trust, trust.
I began interviewing for teaching jobs and picked out the one I wanted, a job co-teaching 1st grade in the county where I live. Perfect. The interview went great and then the waiting began. In the meantime I interviewed elsewhere but I thought I knew what was best for me. I started getting phone calls for jobs in other counties. I did not want to commute but I felt as though I shouldn’t say no. I went for an interview at an Elementary school for a 5th grade co-teaching job. That was not my plan (10/11 year olds?! I couldn’t do that) but I just felt at peace during the interview. I prayed on my way home. I really wanted the job in my county, teaching little kids, that was “me” it made the most “sense”. God told me to say yes to my first phone call. Just say yes. I just knew my first phone call would be the job I thought I wanted. It wasn’t, it was the Elementary school. I said yes. I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough to teach “big” kids. Co-teaching was new and different. I wouldn’t be in total control of my classroom anymore. I had to drive 45 minutes and the babies had to eventually find a new daycare in that same town. I was scared; I trusted. I am still trusting. The Lord has taught me an awful lot through this job. News flash! I am NOT good enough and I am NOT supposed to be in control all the time. I think that may be the point. He is good enough, and when I drive home in tears He is there and He gets me up the next morning and makes me try again. Oh man have I grown since August, and oh man do I have A LOT of growing left to do here. I am so thankful for this job and the people that come with it. I am thankful that God has his own plans that are greater than mine.

Y’all, I almost forgot to talk about my mini van! If you don’t know us (but I’m not sure why you would read all this rambling if you don’t) we have twins. And contrary to what everyone assumes about having boy/girl twins, we are not “done” (gasp!). The Lord put on our hearts before we were even married to become foster parents, so I knew our family would be growing more. I also drove a little sedan and we were cramped! This may seem silly to y’all but I just felt like I needed a minivan, so I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would provide us with a car big enough for the family he desires for us to have. Then, one day our dear, sweet, precious, God sent friends GAVE us their van. GAVE it to us y’all. Free. A gift. GAVE IT TO US. It’s been about 6 months and I still haven’t gotten over it. Don says I can’t thank them every time I see them though because then they may stop talking to me. But man, I am SO thankful. I just expected God to lead us to a minivan we could afford for the same payment we were already paying on our car. But boy did He show up and show out! I love that van. We (well I) call her Martha and she has been and will continue to be such a blessing to our family.

The year continued and my PawPaw beat cancer!! Don and I continued to adjust to our new jobs and the ways that changed our lives. I found a wonderful in-home daycare for the babies a few miles from my school. Smooth sailing. Then one night my mom calls me and says my Nandaddy (my great grandfather) is sick. He’s in the ICU and it doesn’t look good. Y’all. Trust. Long story short, he got better, came home, then had a heart attack and went back, unresponsive. On September 20 I drove to Columbus to see him one last time and tell him goodbye. On September 21, he went to be with Jesus. He was ready, but man did that hurt. It still hurts to go to their house and visit MawMaw and see his chair empty. It hurts to not hear him tell the same stories and ask the same silly questions. I am so thankful that God let him live long enough for the twins to meet him. He was such a special man but I know where he is and I know he’s home. Shortly after he passed, his brother, and my mother’s Aunt Sandra also passed. I know all three of them are together in glory.

I promise I am not writing a novel here.

The biggest event of of 2017 that taught me, that is still teaching me trust, was when my Sandy Claire was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. If you know us you might know that when the twins were born SC’s newborn screening came back showing that she had a gene mutation for CF. We were told that there was only one and that meant she most likely didn’t have the disease but that she had to get her tested anyway. That began two years of unsuccessful sweat testing. The girl just would not sweat. She’s far too lady like for that. We did multiple sweat testing and some more gene testing. Well to make a long story short and not bore you with all the medical details. She was eventually sweated and was diagnosed with CF. The Doctors are optimistic that she will have a pretty mild form of the disease (praises) and that is great news. But just let me share a little. When I sat in front of our pediatrician at their two year well check and he explained all the medical mumbo jumbo to me I just waited for him to say it. I finally asked, “So, does this mean that she DOES has CF?”. His answer shattered me. “Absolutely.” Yes. Yes. Cystic Fibrosis. No. No way, not my baby, not my sweet girl. I cried for probably a solid week or two. Or maybe I’m still crying. We have been to CHOA twice since then, once for her first pulmonologist appointment, where the diagnoses was confirmed, and the second time for more testing. The Dr still says everything looks good. We are blessed. I am learning, boy am I learning, to trust God. I never felt fear before the way I did when that doctor said “absolutely”. Fear just rushed in on me, I was filled with “what if’s” and thoughts of what this could mean for my girl. I went home and googled and joined Facebook support groups. I promptly stopped googling and left the support groups. I have pushed all of the “what if’s” away and I just live a life now of “but God”. Only God understands why my girl has this disease, and I know, I know He will carry us through, he will never leave us, and he has a purpose for this even if I never understand it.

Almost done.

God has used this year to grow me, and teach me, and I know that 2018 will not be any different. My word for 2018 starting out is “bravery”. I will be brave at the doctor’s appointments, in my day to day life at work. I will be brave when I kiss my police officer goodbye, I will be brave in whatever God hands me this year, I am already being brave by posting this blog (a big leap for me). I will not let fear hold me back or stop me this year.

Psalm 27:1. Whom shall I fear?

 

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One week

One week ago I was in an ambulance on the way to deliver my babies in Columbus against my doctors wishes. He wanted me to deliver in Americus and had me believe that at 34 weeks their lungs would be fine and it would be perfectly okay to deliver here, I did not trust him, and I’m glad I didn’t. I knew if I stayed and my babies lungs weren’t okay they would be taken from me and ambulanced to another hospital. He had made me believe that as long as I made it to 34 weeks everything would be okay, but in that moment I didn’t feel like it would be so I told them to send me to Columbus. As I laid in the back of the ambulance, contracting every minute, I watched the sun rise and I prayed harder than I ever have. I was more scared and more excited than I have ever been. I was greeted at the hospital by several people who knew me through my aunt and I was very well taken care of by some of the sweetest nurses I’ve ever met. Several hours later I was lying on the operating table listening to the first cries of my babies. 

When they brought them to me they could only stay a minute and they both had a tube on their nose. They took them to the Neonatal care unit and I was told that their lungs were not ready yet and they had to have a CPAP, IVs, Feeding tubes, monitors, and be in the incubator. I was also told that it would be 12 hours before I could see them. 5 hours later, after lots of begging and convincing, my nurse was reluctantly wheeling me to them. I cried when I first saw them but I knew immediately that God had a plan in this. I also knew that my babies were the most beautiful babies I had ever seen. 

Today they are one week old. A lot has happened in just seven days. They both came off of their CPAP, IVs, and feeding tubes. They opened their eyes for the first time, and baby girl discovered her intense love for the pacifier. They had to have a little light therapy for jaundice, and they passed their hearing test. They got to be held by two other people other than us, and they had their first bath. They are the most perfect babies in the whole world (I’m not biased, I swear ). Little boy has the biggest and greatest facial expressions and I just know he is going to be funny like his daddy. Little girl is a diva already and does not like to be messed with but she loves her mommy and daddy and cries when we have to put her back in her “house”. 

My God is stronger than any medicine, and my God loves my babies more than I do and I can’t even imagine that. He has a plan in all of this and I feel blessed to be a part of it and to watch it unfold. It is not easy to have one week old babies and not be able to hold them any time I want, especially when they are hurting. It’s not easy to go to the Ronald McDonald house at night and leave my babies in the hospital. It is not easy but I am so blessed to be Pat and Sandys mommy. 

  

Happy First Anniversary 

This morning as I look over at the man I married I think back on all that our first year of marriage has brought us. Many people told us how hard our first year would be since I was still in school and we didn’t have very much money. But all I can say is I feel so blessed. We have had to rely on God more than we ever have before, and He brought us closer to Him and each other. God has provided and used some wonderful people this year to help us out where we needed it most. We didn’t have a lot but we never really felt like we were lacking. I have gotten to spend my last year married to my very best friend, and boy has it been fun! Our life has been so full of joy. I won’t tell you that our marriage is perfect, because it’s not, we have had our hard days, and we have our rough spots. I am not a perfect woman, but he treats me like I am pretty darn close, and picks me up when I fall. We work hard together with God to build up our relationship and mend the rough spots, and he keeps me laughing all the while. I will forever be grateful that God brought me this man that loves me and leads me to Him. This next year of marriage we will welcome our first two children into the world. We can only pray that our twins know how loved they are and that we continue to build a strong example for them. Becoming parents is just as scary as it is exciting, but I can’t wait to see how God uses those tiny darlings, and how he uses us in their lives. 

Happy first anniversary my love, I can’t wait for many, many more. 

   
 

Twins

It’s 4:30 in the morning, I have given up on any possibility of getting back to sleep tonight and am curled up in my recliner staring at my ultrasound picture. 

About a month or so ago my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first child. This morning at the doctor we found out that we are not only expecting our first child but our second child too. Twins. We are having twins. My granny always said if you were going to do something, do it big. Well I apparently took that advice.  

Our initial reactions were shock, followed by excitement, followed by a little more shock and a healthy dose of fear. Two babies! Two! Can I raise two babies at once? Am I capable of that? As soon as I ask myself these questions I know the answer. No. You are not capable, not alone. 

If I have learned anything over the last few years it’s that God’s plans and my plans do not look the same, but God’s plan is always so much more wonderful and magnificent than I could have ever imagined. 

As I look at my two tiny little babies all I can think of is Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

My wonderful, magnificent, creator God has a plan. He has a plan for me, for my husband, and for my babies. He loves us, all four of us, more than I could ever imagine. He is looking out for us, and he has a plan. 

Only by his strength will I be able to raise two babies at the same time, and I know already that it will be the most awesome and joyful thing I will ever experience. 

  

Looking at those two tiny, precious babies all I can feel now is blessed. So overwhelming blessed that it brings tears to my eyes. I get to watch those two tiny people grow up, I get to love them and guide them. They are mine, my babies. I am already so in love with them, I cannot wait until they are in my arms. I am one incredibly thankful and blessed mommy. 

Dear baby,

 Hi baby. I’m your mom. The day I am writing this is the day I found out I am pregnant, with you! At this very moment I am the only one who knows. Your daddy is sleeping and I am eagerly waiting for him to wake up so I can tell him that you are on the way. We have prayed for you, and now you are on the way. You will be here in nine months! Mommy is so excited and scared. I love you so much already and I know this love will only grow. I don’t know your name yet or if you’ll be a boy or a girl but I know I love you. I know your daddy will love you. And I know all your uncles (you’ll have a lot!), aunts, grandparents and lots of other people will love you too. You will be one loved little jelly bean. 

Baby, I pray that you love us too. First and foremost I pray that you love the Lord. He loves you bigger than any of us do and he sent his son on a cross to die for you. I pray you know and hold fast to that. I pray I get to see you be baptized. I pray I see you leave for your first mission trip. I pray I see you do big and mighty things for the Kingdom. I pray that you are brave. I pray you aren’t like your mommy and aren’t afraid of anything. I pray you can walk up to anyone and make a friend without nervousness in your heart. I pray you are bold and determined. I pray that you are kind and patient. I pray that you love people, really really love people. I pray that when you make a mistake, when you get hurt, when the world is too hard to deal with that you come to me, that you let me love you and hold you. I pray that you don’t hate me too much when you are a teenager and that you know I will always be your biggest fan. 

I learned this morning that I have a new job and that job is being your mommy. I will spend the next nine months preparing for you and the rest of my life being your mom. I already love it. I can’t wait to meet you jelly bean. 

Mommy  

  

Fighting With Insecurity 

All my life I can remember asking myself the question, “do they like me?”. Probably one of the best words used to describe me as a child, preteen, and a teen (and probably some as an adult) is insecure. I have battled with insecurity for as long as I remember. From trying to be “popular” in elementary school. (What defines that anyways? Who had the prettiest slap bracelet or the most scrunchies? I’m still not sure.) To dating the wrong people in high school. I always wanted to be liked. Even as an adult I still want so badly to be liked by my classmates, the people in my Sunday school class, my students, my in-laws, and the list goes on. 

It’s human nature, we want people to like us, especially the people we are around the most or the people that we respect the most. And, it is inevitable, people are going to dislike us for one reason or another. My whole life I have let this possibility control me. 

I am very shy, to a point of social awkwardness. I have a hard time with conversations, especially if I don’t know you very well or if I want to impress you and I am nervous. I probably make an odd first impression. I have struggled with my awkwardness for years and determined that it has made me unlikable. I have also tried way way too hard to get people to accept me and like me. Still now I struggle with the desire to be liked and the pain that follows even thinking someone does not like me. 

Today I was thinking about this and how far I have come in not letting my insecurities control me and how long I have left to go and God convicted my heart. I felt a pull to write this post not only to speak to other girls who struggle with the things I struggle with but to also talk to myself. 

You. Daughter (or son). Are loved. The God of all creation breathed you into life. He sent his son to die for you. He loves you. He loves you deeper and harder than any man or woman ever could. He is holding you through the storms and cheering through the sunshine. God has not called us to be liked he has called us to walk. He has called us to love. To love those that don’t like us. To love those that hate us. No insecurity is too big for God. Lay them at his feet today. Stop carrying baggage that you don’t have to carry. Despite the way that people made you feel today, the God of Heaven and Earth loves you and he likes you. He’s got your back. You are beautiful and magnificent. Never let anyone else make you feel any differently. You are special. You are made in His image. You are loved. 

All I could do was pray

As a brand new Christian and a freshman in college I needed a lot of guidance. 

(Mostly because I was crazy, but who isn’t at 18?) 

One of the most important parts of the beginning of my walk with Christ was my relationship with a woman named Leah. Leah was my mentor. I would meet with her at her house every Monday at 2. She was there at the very beginning. She taught me how to pray and study my bible and what a woman who loves God looks like. I will always remember one of he first talks we had about prayer. 

We were talking about 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I remember thinking (and probably saying) “How in the world do you pray without ceasing? You have to stop at some point to live your life” 

I have thought about this many times since then. I have since realized that life isn’t worth getting up for if you aren’t in constant prayer. 

Dating is hard, marriage is hard, college is hard, working is hard, high school is hard, life is hard. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This verse means more to me now than it ever has. My husband recently started working at a local prison. He was excited and I was scared, all I could do was pray. In February he left for a month of training. I am a big baby, and I don’t like to be alone. Living life with him in another part of the state was hard. All I could do was pray.  Thursday he came back home to find out he would be working night shift. 

Last night was the first night he worked as an officer. All I could do was pray. 

I prayed for my husbands safety and for my safety, I prayed for peace, and patience, I prayed for well behaved prisoners. I thanked God for our safety, and for Don’s job. I thanked God for blessing him with the skill to do what he does. I thanked God for growing us and using us for His Glory. I rejoiced when I heard the garage open this morning. I rejoiced when my husband’s stab vest remained unpunctured. I rejoiced when he kissed me good morning. I rejoiced when he climbed in bed and peacefully fell asleep.