Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where Have I Been?: Part 3

Now for the less serious stuff that comes with pictures.

In March:
We went to the Rodeo!
Look how brave my B is! (And shall we just take a moment to reflect of the perfect and excellent timing of this photograph! I don't want to brag or nothin', but taking a picture of people on a Ferris wheel is not as easy as it looks! After just a few times around, I got this!)

So we met my parents up at the livestock show and carnival early, so B could enjoy the rides and animals and such, but she is not into the Rodeo or concert...too loud. So, Mom and Dad took her home after some BBQ.

Then Casey and I got to have a little date at the Rodeo and Sugarland concert.
We really enjoyed it.
Well, I really enjoyed it.

We've also been at the mall. Casey is sharing a moment with this woman here.
So really...this mannequin just had her arm stickin' out to high heaven, so really...who could resist this!
In April:

We went to the Museum of Natural Science. Got a membership, so if anybody ever wants to go?...

For one of our date nights we met up with some friends at the Mucky Duck to see this band that we really love...The Civil Wars. Awesome! How cool and young of us, right?!

Our friends. Yeah, Casey was the only dude.
Anyways, sad story about this little concert. After the first band got off, the guy from the Civil Wars got up and said he had laryngitis or something and just could not possibly sing but would be sure to come back for another show. :| Cool date night foiled! Thankfully, they did schedule another show in July, so we'll try this again.

Oooh! Round Top with some of my best girls!
If we ever manage to hang up what I got I will be sure to post it.
I also went the very next day with my parents. Another great day, but we didn't take any pictures. :( You know what's better that a day antiquing? Two days antiquing! :)

And finally...B got her hair cut! At Sweet n' Sassy, no less. Now, to be honest, I didn't really know what I thought about this place, but B is terrified of getting her hair cut, so I had to bribe a little bit with glitter and pink and girlie-girliness to convince her that a haircut is not the worst thing ever. Sure enough, after watching Tangled, and the hair glitter, and the flower in her hair, and the glitter stars on her cheek, and the pink heart lollipop...she decided she LOVES getting her hair cut.
And who could blame her?!
Now I know what I think about this place. Genius!

So that is where I've been! This series in now complete!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where Have I Been?: Part 2

Church Planting. (And this is a long one!)

Ok. So, up until January, me and church planting were getting along pretty fantastically. Nothing scary or intimidating about it at all. It was a small, sweet group that met in our apartment. They came over. I got to cook for them. We'd study the Bible a bit. Pray together. We had our bumps like anybody else, but it was all quite manageable in my mind.

In January we had our first preview service. (So people could come see our church in a more "churchy" setting, cause some people think a church that meets in an apartment is kinda weird.) We had one a month for three months. Now something about setting up the stage and the curtains and hospitality tables and all that jazz caused my subconscious to set up its defenses without my permission. It knew, even while I chose to deny, that the more we set up, the more people that are around, the more Casey preaches the Bible, the more honest community there is, the more my family is exposed and vulnerable. And sort of unintentionally, I started to clam up.

Fear started taking up residence in my heart.
Then Doubt moved in.
And of course, that overbearing queen, Insecurity made herself right at home.

By the third preview service...I still didn't realize this was happening. But it was. I wasn't interested in getting together with anyone. I didn't want to talk with anyone about anything of meaning or consequence. I just wanted to be with Casey and Braelyn at home, safely tucked into our apartment. I would of said that I was just tired or "we've been around a lot of people," or that things needed to get done at home, but there was certainly more going on.

Our third preview service was on March 20th. On March 19th, we went out with some friends, then Casey and I came home and watched a little TV before bed. When our show was over, Casey turned the TV off and said something to the effect of, "Here we go!" Now, you know in movies when someone is about to get swallowed up by a gigantic wave and it goes all slow-motion and their eyes close and very dramatically you see their body knocked over by the wall of water? Do you know what I am talking about? Because that is exactly what happened to me on March 19th, except that it wasn't a wave of water, it was a wave of terror. Yes, it was at that very moment that my subconscious chose to reveal to the rest of my brain how afraid I really was.

All I could think about was the promise of criticism.
All I could think about was the promise of being hurt.
All I could think about was the horror stories of congregations running off their pastors.
All I could think about was that we have to be perfect all the time or people will reject us. Well, then I thought that vowing perfection seemed a little unrealistic and tiresome, but then I thought of the rejection and vowed perfection again, and I went on and on with this conundrum for a while until it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I had been clamming up for many weeks and I realized why. I am so afraid to disappoint people. What if they get to know me and decide that what I have to offer is not enough? What if I don't meet their "pastor's wife" expectations? Apparently, when confronted with this fear, my natural instinct is to retract and hide. Offer nothing of myself and then, if by accident, something helpful leaks out people are pleasantly surprised.

(Reader: It will be helpful to remember at this point in the post that I was on my fertility meds during this time, so that is very much contributing to my little panic attack here. So don't start worrying your pretty little heads over my self-esteem. Okay?! :)

I tearfully confessed my sin and my insecurities to Casey in that late hour. This is what he said: "Yes, it will be hard. And yes, there will be criticism. But we must go in the way of Jesus, and that is to love completely and fully regardless of how we are treated. Our approval comes from Christ. Our confidence comes from Christ. Our calling comes from Christ, so we must not shrink back, but press on all the more."

To be honest, it took a little while for those words to sink in. It wasn't that night. It wasn't even the next day. But Truth has begun to clear out the false. It was sin, plain and simple. And I'm certain that this will not be the last time that I struggle with it, BUT...I am thankful to the Lord that He, in His kindness revealed my sin to me, that I might repent, know my sin, know myself and be on guard for it as we continue to plant this church. I've let go of self-preservation as best I can, and am trying to love our people well. I know that we will disappoint people. I know that I will disappoint people. And I even know that the Lord is never disappointed in us because of Christ. But here's the honest question that I'm asking myself these that enough for me? My prayer is that on the day of Casey's last sermon, when we're old and gray I will say with confidence and all sincerity, "Lord, you are and have been a great deal more than enough."

Before I go, I really do want to assure you that I am okay. I am happy and content and nearer to the Lord than I've been in a long time. I've shared some of my insecurities with you as honestly as I can for the sake of authenticity, but the very last thing that I want is anyone to feel sorry or worried for me. There is no need. The Lord has me. And He is with me. He has ferociously protected our marriage. And He is showering blessings on our little church. Truly! I am excited to share some of those things with you, but I've rambled on quite long enough for one night. :)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18


Psalm 139. What a mighty promise!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrating: It Takes Time & Preparation

I thought before we get too far away from Easter, I'd share what Braelyn and I did this year to prepare and celebrate.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, I usually have some activity in mind that will help Braelyn and I get our minds and hearts ready for the holiday. Somehow, Easter, the most important of holidays in my opinion, seems to sneak up on me each year, and while we do do the traditional egg dying and egg hunts, that sense of preparation, of repetition, of daily intentionality in digging into the Easter story has been lacking.

Thankfully, not this year. By some miracle, this idea popped into my head Palm Sunday afternoon, so as soon as Hobby Lobby opened Monday morning, we got our supplies and got to the work of celebrating the Risen Lord.

(So, yes technically this should have begun ON Palm Sunday, but we doubled up on Monday. :)

Each day of Passion Week, we read Scripture and then painted a wooden egg to remember that part of the story. It's not completely accurate chronologically, and a few details are missing, but I wanted to devote a whole day to the key points of the story.

Sunday: The Triumphal Entry
Reading: Mark 11:1-11

Monday: The Last Supper
Reading: Mark 14:12-25

Tuesday: The Garden of Gethsemane
Reading: Mark 14:32-42

Wednesday: The Arrest
Reading: Mark 14:43-50

Thursday: Jesus is mocked and beaten.
(That's the crown of thorns.)
Reading: Mark: 15:16-20

Good Friday: The Crucifixion
Reading: Mark 15:21-41

Saturday: The Burial
Reading: Mark 15:42-47

Easter: The Resurrection
Reading: Mark 16:1-8

What a long, hard, beautiful week!

All her eggs. And yes...we decorated some just for fun too. :)

My sweet girl working hard.

B and I had a really great time working on this project. I am looking forward to trying it again next year and seeing how it evolves as she gets older. It did take a chunk of of time each day, but it was worth every minute. B and I had so many great conversations about Jesus as we sat together painting our eggs, which for me, was really the whole point. I want her to see that Jesus is worth taking time to celebrate. He is worth our creativity. He is worth our hard work. He is worth our most elaborate preparation!

Anyways, just wanted to put this little idea out there, in case you're like me and are always on the lookout for ways to point our attention and affection towards Jesus during the holidays. How much more helpful would it have been if I had actually had the idea BEFORE Easter?! But, this really isn't the blog for EARLY helpfulness. Delayed helpfulness, maybe. Possibly. Early helpfulness, no.

Hope you had a beautiful Easter with lots of friends and family and food, and most of all...lots of Jesus!

Where Have I Been?: Part 2 to come later this week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where Have I Been?: Part 1

Okay. I will attempt to explain my recent absence.

40% of my absence was due to laziness. (Brutal honesty. That's what I'm about here.)
25% of my absence was due to baby business. (This evening's topic.)
25% of my absence was due to church planting business. (Lots of denial, sin exposure, and waves of terror to report on there. Should be good.)
10% of my absence was due to other, less serious things that come with pictures.

Okay. So, baby business. This will not be as light-hearted as I would like it to be. While I can laugh at some things now, other things are still very hard and hurtful, and trying to be funny about it just seems stupid. So here's the real deal.

Starting in mid-January I started the first of 3 consecutive rounds of Femara (my Clomid-like fertility drug.) This drug, while surprisingly unsuccessful in assisting my body in getting pregnant, is fantastically successful in making me a basketcase. Generally the month goes like this: On days 4-8 of my cycle I take my little Femara pill. Around day 5 or 6, the crazy starts to set in. I'm very moody. Almost depressed. I have virtually no ability to handle any negative situation. Lots of tears. Lots of tantrums. Lots of "CASEY! I need you to come deal with this RIGHT NOW!" And more seriously, lots of doubting and bitterness and jealousy. But then around day 9 or 10, I start to come around and I remember that I am not insane, that I do love the Lord and my family and that I do enjoy things other than sleeping. So, for about two lovely weeks, peace and normalcy are restored to the household. Just around the time I'm ready to throw down some cash on pregnancy tests, crazy returns. It's PMS times 100. And then of course, adding insult to injury, there's the negative prego test (or the middle finger, as Casey and I unaffectionately call it). It's a long, hard day for me and for Casey. You would think after so many negative tests it would get easier. Somehow, it doesn't.

Anyway, this was round 1. And if I remember correctly, I think round 2 was significantly less crazy. I attribute it to my Valentine's Love posts. I really should have kept those goin'...given myself a little perspective....reminded myself of the countless tender mercies that are new each day...yes, this would have been profoundly beneficial...cause mid-February I started round 3 and a whole new level of crazy came 'round and it lasted THE. WHOLE. MONTH.

Round 3 was awful. And I think I've figured out what is so hard about the drugs. It's know who you are off the drugs, but then you get ON the drugs and you can't quite remember being the person you enjoyed being. The crazy seems SO REAL. You spend the month thinking and believing that you're a sad, depressed person, that you don't like to do things, that your faith is empty, that you're a bad mother and a 1000 other lies that seem so very real. And even though I KNOW I'm on the medicine and I KNOW it makes me crazy, there is still something in me that wonders, "Maybe this is who I really am?" And then...while I'm trying to sort out what is true and what is not, there is one current truth that never fades or wavers or rests: I desperately want a baby and I cannot have one.

So, unfortunately, that's where I've been. That is much of the reason I was away from the blog and emails and the computer in general. I wasn't myself. The Lord and I have done a lot of wrestling over this and other things. I felt that it was best to just stay quiet for a while.

I have been off the meds this month, and am doing well. I can, once again think Biblically about our situation, which is wonderfully reassuring. The Lord loves me. He knows what is best. I trust Him. This is His Kingdom, not mine. It's good to think clearly again.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
therefore I will hope in Him.
Lamentations 3:22-24

He has been patient with me these last months. Despite my hard heart, He has been relentless in calling me back to Himself. I cannot escape Him. And I will never be able to thank Him enough for that.

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121:8

Monday, April 4, 2011

april: sunny, with a chance of blogging

dear reader,
there's been a bit of dry spell here at the beautiful meantime.
march was completely blogless.
i know.
forgive me.
not sure what my deal is.
but here's my promise to you...
i WILL definitely try much harder,
to think about getting on my computer more often,
to SHOWER you with lovely blog posts.
okay...shower you with blog posts.
er...okay...shower you with blog post.
(don't want any crazy expectations floating around out there ;)
no, but really, i will.
i will definitely try to think about that.

just not tonight.
cause I'm a little tired.
and a girl can't just slap something up after being gone for six weeks.
how disappointing for her readers!

but really...I miss you.
if you're still out there...
thanks for waiting.
i'm certain that an actual blog is coming soon.
yours truly,