Monday, October 29, 2012

"i like us together"

I am sure some of you probably heard the arguing that Chip and I did as our moving date got closer this past week and yet our plans didn't get anymore clear or set in stone. We find ourselves at just a week and a half from needing to be out of this rental home we're in and still we don't have a sure thing for where we're going to live next. I likely don't even need to explain to you that I am more than stressed out over this whole situation. Goodness! If we were going to Disneyland I would be more prepared and planned for our family of 8 to make that trip. And so imagine how I feel having no control over the dates to be out of this house, nor the reality that we still don't have something lined up and trying to pack for that and on top of all the normal daily tasks that still have to get done. Like grocery shopping and cooking and diaper changes and baths and band concerts and just all of it. It's been one of the most overwhelming months of our lives.
The added stressful part of this situation is knowing that we still have the actual moving and resettling in to do. And no matter where we go we are going to have less space than we have in the past two homes we've lived in and we have no end in sight to when we will own a house and have a place to call "home" again. It's more than upsetting to me. My faith tells me to simply trust that God will make a way and He has a plan. And not only a plan, but a plan to prosper us and give us hope too! But in this world, time after time, our hopes have been dashed and our future has taken dramatic turns. As much as we know and fully trust that God is in control of all that happens, it's still a tough act to have to follow and not have any answers or clear direction as to where to go and why. So we walk by faith. And I ashamedly have not had a whole lot of it- and thus have yelled and been more angry and anxious over this whole circumstance.
In the middle of all of the questions and stress, a big part of my peace and happiness came in the form of scrapping. Like I talked about in the last post. I am sure it is no accident or coincidence that God opened the door for me to be a part of the Cocoa Daisy design team at this time in my life. He must surely have known that our life road was about to get rocky again and He knew I would need an outlet for my stress as well as a wonderful group of women to share my heart with and to be encouraged by their friendship and support at this time too. It's a gift to have friends who understand you in life's crunch times. It is a gift when they not only want to be your friend when life is rosy, but that they step it up even moreso when life gets messy too.
So all this to say, I am still in the throws of life's mess right now, but I am loved and supported and I know that this will all be behind us at some point. It's not fun to trudge through it. It's hard to trust God with all of it knowing any little detail could be different and ease any number of our burdens in life right now. But I know He has reasons for things that make no sense from our limited human view of life. He has this whole world in His hands and even though I wish He would just say a word or swing open wide a door to make it clear where we are going, I know it's best to hold on tight to Him for the duration of the ride. So until my last breath I will proclaim that God is worth trusting in with my whole heart and I will even praise Him now- in advance and in reflection- for the things He has done, is doing and will do in my life.
I will keep scrapping for the fun of it and for the wonderful friendships and fulfillment that comes from making something {and for me, having control of something!} =) too. The pages that I scrapped and showed you here are from the Navy Pier kit that Cocoa Daisy is featuring for Novemeber. It was based on the amusement park in Chicago and some of the sites around that fun city. I just loved the colors and patterns and playfulness in this kit. I know you will love it, if you're a scrapper or crafter of any kind! The kit goes on sale Nov. 1st and there are lots of other wonderful things in the Cocoa Daisy Boutique this time of year too. Think Christmas! I love crafting at Christmas and I am really hoping that wherever we move next that I might be able to find a corner in the house {or condo as we ware looking at that as an option right now} to set up my supplies and create more happiness and joy. I just keep thinking this will make quite the chapter in the book I could write about our life. I just want to make sure it has a happy ending before I pen it. =)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Midway is going to be hoppin'!!

So in the midst of boxes and packing and not fully knowing how the next few weeks in my life are going to play out there is a bit of fun and excitement going on behind the scenes too. At Cocoa Daisy! Each year there is a weekend online crop and this year it is happeing Friday- Sunday, Oct. 26th-28th. It's based on the Novemeber kit called, "Navy Pier" which as many of you might know, is the huge attraction in Chicago where lots of fun takes place. So the crop is called, "The Midway" and believe me, if you are a scrapper (or even if you're not and you are wondering what all the fun looks like) you will want to stop by as much as you can during this event. As part of the design team I have been lucky to get in on some of the brainstorming, sneak peeks, inspiration and I can tell you there is going to be so much happening and lots of chances to win prizes too! How could you not want to be a part of something like that?!
You don't need to be a monthly kit subscriber to get in on the action. But you certainly can join in that way and have yet another chance to win something! You simply need to be registered on the Cocoa Daisy site and you can post on the message board and upload to the gallery and just be part of all the fun and games. There are going to be some wonderful classes and techniques and loads of inspiration and of course, the November full kit reveal will happen too! 
See that funky octopus stamp and all the other cool stamps and paper goodies in the photos here? You will be able to order them (as a subscriber you can order on Oct. a non-subscriber you can order starting Nov. 1st) and create your own fun too! I am in the middle of packing, but still getting to scrap a bit on the side in preparation for The Midway. You are more than welcome to join the fun. I hope to see you around Cocoa if you want to jump in early. This weekend if you can handle all the excitement! =) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

All that glitters~

You can be sure that with more than a three week abscence in blogposts that much has happened in my heart and life. And yet nothing has happened. Which is proving to be the biggest challenge I have had to endure the past month. I am learning lots of lessons. I am seeing more clearly what kind of person I truly am. Honestly, it's been ugly to see the real me in many regards- deep down (or maybe not even all that deep down!) I am a control-freak with a few dashes of immaturity and a dose of doubt thrown in for not-so-good measure too. I don't really like the me that has surfaced while going through this process of having a house sold out from under us with virtually no options opening up for us as to where our family is supposed to go next.
I have had to flex the faith muscle that I have been growing and exercising since I was a very young girl. I have said it in posts here since my earliest online writings- I have a strong faith and believe fully in God who is more than able to provide for my deepest needs. It doesn't matter if those needs are physical, emotional, spiritual; I have put my trust in Him and have been blessed by His faithfulness to more than provide for me over and over and over again. To the point where it seems like there is no way I could begin to doubt who He is and how He is able to meet those needs.
But guess what?
My faith isn't nearly as big or as strong or as steadfast as I might have like to think it was. In the past few weeks as Chip and I have poured ourselves and every free minute {besides the ones where I have been scrapping for my stress relief!} into trying to find a place for our family of 8 to live, I have waivered, cried, wept, prayed, vowed never to pray again, cared so much, not cared at all, surrendered, taken it all back, reminded myself of all God has done, put Him to the test again, opened my heart, closed my eyes, yelled more than I would ever like to have to admit, whispered pleadings so strong that no Father, it seems, could sit back in silence. And yet that is where I find myself sitting today.
It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.
I have thrown out questions and begged for wisdom and direction. I have asked for doors to swing open. And more recently, have been given some wisdom and now am at the point of asking for every single door to swing shut except for the one that God would want us to walk through.
What do you want from me, God?
How are we to know that we are making the right choice?
We only want to be where you want us to be and can use us the most?
Why does something as 'easy' as finding a house to live in have to be this hard??
When is it someone else's turn to have to live through a life challenge like this one- because we have already lived through and learned some of life's toughest lessons of all! Right?
Right, God?
Apparently not.
Because in the moments of my tears flowing and my anger rising and my heart breaking, I have been gifted a calm spirit and I have been reminded of verses and songs that clearly remind me that He is beyond understanding and yet He wants to be fully known. As I said, I have had to wonder and sit confused and turn open my Bible and my daily devotionals for words and truths that point right back to what I knew and yet have to "relearn" over and over again. And that is this:
God is always in control.
God wants to me look to Him for every provision in life.
He doesn't want me to have long stretches in life where I sit back and simply coast along, because I would become lazy or self-sufficient or even prideful of the ease I would have. Instead, being in a place where I can do absloutely nothing about what is happening around me except trust in Him for what is coming next- that is where God shows Himself to be powerful, faithful, kind and true.
Even in human terms, if a father were to give their kids everything they wanted whenever they wanted it, those kids would never learn to appreciate; they would come to expect and be demanding and self-serving, inconsiderate and without compassion for giving in return. To expect that our God wants to just give us whatever we want whenever we want it and never have to be patient or dependent upon Him would be for us to miss out on His amazing love. He loves so much He is even willing to let us hurt at times. He is willing to let us stew and be angry or confused or impatient and immature. His love for us is so deep that He is willing to make us walk step by excruciating step UP a rough mountainside and keep moving us in that direction without even hinting as to how far and tall or big the mountain really is. And once we have gotten part way and we are sure we have walked far enough and we are tired and weary and worn and want to be done climbing, His love is greater and far reaching than that.He nudges us on another step higher. And further up the mountainside. Until at times we can hardly gasp for air and we think our insides will break because we simply cannot go on- and truth be told, we have walked to long and far and high we have frankly forgotten why we are even on this mountainside at all.
It cannot be for the fun of it. There is no thrill in climbing when you cannot see beyond the next step in front of you, nor can you find any rest of comfort or ease along the way. It becomes such a burden and the idea of going higher only makes you want to turn back around and start using the tiny bit of energy that you have left in you for the journey back down instead. You cannot muster the strength to move forward, so you pause and think about turning back. And about that time, your feet begin to slip. Your pack of supplies is heavy and weighing you down and your body is spent so you stumble a step or two. As you begin to question how you even got "talked into" starting this climb at all, you turn back to peer up the mountain to see if you can catch any glimpse of the mountaintop and in so doing possibly find a tiny bit of renewed strength or hope to continue the climb.
You can't. So you cling to the rock on which you stand for another moment or two. In that space of not knowing how or why or where, you take a deep breath and find rather than pain, you feel a peace. You sense that there is no way you would have ever, EVER gotten this far if you have not believed there was something glorious and worthwhile at the top. You close your eyes and say, God, I do not know how I am going to make it. I have no clue how far I have yet to climb. But I vow once again to simply do my best and trust you to give me the strength and energy and will to get there.
Because of His great love for us, God not only doesn't leave us sitting alone, weary and worn, on the side of the mountain. He comes alongside us {through words to songs or in the form of a warm, fresh-baked apple pie and visit from friends, or through a well-timed scripture verse that affirms who He is and always has been to this point}; He sometimes even picks us up and carries us. His love for us is so high, so deep, so wide and so strong, that He allows us to ache step-by-step along the path to which He has called and guided our steps because He knows that when we come to the place- the mountaintop place to which He promises to bring us, the view will be so magnificent and overwhelming and stunning that it will stop us in our tracks at the very instant all our pain that has consumed us in our journey washes away. He created the mountain. He created the view from the top. He knows just how rugged and tiresome and tasking it is to get there.
But He has promised to be our Guide, our comfort, our Strength and our Supply. His love for us is so deep that He must know that to give us a glimpse of the view along the way would threaten to take away from the mountaintop experience. Much like kids who discover what their gifts are through shaking their Christmas presents under the tree before it is actually time to open and receive them. It's not half as fun to open that present when you know what's in it compared to the total joy and delight and ripping that gift open and being completely and utterly surprised.
All this to say, I know that my God is so big, so strong, so mighty, so loving, so good, so enduring, so utterly faithful that I do not have to even have a glimpse of His plan to keep trusting in it. I trust Him fully. Even though I have had to get to that place by walking some very rough terrain.
Yesterday I sat at our back entry space and looked at some piled up boxes that have been lining the room just inside the garage door for 10 months now. There were a couple of boxes that I had never even looked at because I knew when we moved into this house it was just a temporary rental place until our house sold and we found some place new. We never moved in here and made it our home. We never dreamed it would be almost a year that we would be here and so that also played into my wanting to just keep things boxed up and ready to go for the next move. So the piles have been piled and taking up space all this time. I opened up and started reorganzing a couple of them. Then I came to a box marked, "Garage sale items- girls clothes". I knew I hadn't boxed it up when we moved here so I realized it must be from our last move. That was many years ago. I opened it up thinking I would find clothes I could give to my friends who have little girls of their own right now and I wanted to check the sizes and see who I might be able to pass these items to. When I opened it I recognized the clothes immediately. Most of the things in that box were clothes that Teagan had worn and I know I hadn't seen them for a very long time. My sisters boxed up a lot of her clothing soon after she died and while I was still at Hurley Hospital waiting for Chip and Wyndham to get well enough to come back home. So it is likely I hadn't seen these things since before Teagan died. I know I get chided for talking and writing about Teagan's death and how I am still so often reminded of her life even in my day-to-day activities more than a decade later. I know there are some who will never understand why I write as much as I do about my grief journey and how my little girl's death still impacts my life. I know there are people who believe that "life moves on and you must get over it for your own health". But here's the thing.
I don't go looking for ways to be reminded of Teagan- except for on the days I choose to do so. Like on her birthday. And when we celebrate Coke Float Day. Or when the leaves change color because she loved the new shades of red and yellow and orange of the leaves so much. I don't sit by a CD and play her favorite tunes or stare at pictures wishing her back. That is all a part of the process of letting go. But there are moments or events or reminders of my Teagan that sometimes present themselves in ways I cannot create on my own. And I have learned that those moments must be lived and processed just the same. So I lifted a few of the items out of that box yesterday. And my throat got tight and my eyes started to burn and the tears bulged over my lower lids and started to flow down. I reached into the box and pulled out a pair of Teagan's pink glitter shoes. She had worn them as part of a Halloween costume...but worn them as often as she could. To places like Glen's Market while we grocery shopped. To church. To Daddy's golf club. To 7-11 with Lizzy as she and Brock rode in the double stroller to go get slurpees.
Suddenly this box and all its contents overwhelmed me and I wondered how it had gotten lost or mixed in with other storage items all this time and I had never even missed it. I wondered how it was that even after not seeing these items for more than 10 years the memories came flooding back as though I had watched Teagan dance and jump in her shoes just yesterday. I wept. I ached. I got angry for a moment all over again. I missed her so much. I recalled her joy and smiles and sheer happiness that filled her up when she put these little pink glitter shoes on. I ached that my other girls are now too big to fit in these shoes and have their chance to dance in them too.
I realized that all of life is a part of who we are and that our stories take such twists and turns and go from lows to highs to more highs and lows that surely there must be One who loves us and can make the 'storyline' an incredible read when it's all said and done.
I sit in a place where I feel I have done more than my share of climbing this rough mountainside. I have seen some amazing views along the way. But honestly I am tired and don't even know why I keep climbing at times. This is that time. It seems like there is no ryhme or reason as to why the journey has brought us here. The timing couldn't be worse. We are ready for a view "from the top". But even as I sit here and wonder, I am reminded that being still is never a crime. Looking back to see how far we've come doesn't make us weak- but instead can give us renewed strength and new resolve to move forward and get one step closer to the top. Knowing that God is with us each step of the way whether we like this part of the climb or not is an act of mercy He pours out on us. I know He loves us and won't let us fall. Even though the journey is steep at this point. In the next couple of weeks something has to happen. One of the options at this point is for me to go back to our home in Michigan with the kids while Chip stays here in MN to work and hopefully our home will sell. It seems like a wild, ridiculous option. But I am putting all my trust and gratitude in the One who knows and even created the view from which I will see this story played out. It might not be rosy and fun or even reasonable for us to have to take this next step. But I know that He keeps us close and can be trusted every single step of the way.