Sunday, August 6, 2017

Filth and Grace and Memories and a Bunch of Other Stuff

It's been four weeks today since we bid adieu to our home in Montana. My heart still aches and I have to fight back the knots that feel like rocks in my stomach. I wish I could say otherwise, but the truth is, I'm sad. And my being sad has hurt feelings here in our new "home" (I added quotes because it doesn't feel like home yet). The only way I can describe it, especially to the people here who don't understand why I could possibly be feeling sad about being here, is that I'm not devastated to be here; I'm devastated to have left there.
 
 One of my earliest childhood memories is driving across the country, my parents, my brother and I making the same cross country move that my own little family did, only in reverse. We moved from Nashville to Montana when I was just shy of seven, and I remember crying my eyes out. From that moment on it seems, I've been torn between two places; two sets of people; SO far apart.
To be totally honest, in the past six years (spent in MT), I fell in love with the state I was raised in. I always saw myself as more a city girl, but ever since having kids and moving to the little city of Helena, I became more and more in love with the slower pace, the wide open spaces, the laid back attitude and atmosphere, the quiet, the lack of traffic, and the simpler way of living. We've taken our girls hiking literally hundreds of times, as we had trails out our back door no matter what part of town we lived in. I even fell in love with winter--at least the first half of winter! We made the most amazing (lifelong, I hope!) friends we could've ever asked for, got involved in a wonderful church that we call our family, and were part of a community that far exceeded our idea of what community looks like. When our family went through the ordeal of accidentally buying a meth house (which sounds kind of funny now, but was devastating when we went through it), not only our church, friends and family rallied around us, but so many in our city came to the rescue. We planted roots deeper than I ever imagined, and it's been a painful process ripping those roots out.
We moved to MT when our first born was just a few weeks old, and my girls have had the privilege of growing up just hours away from their "Grammy" and "Papa", who I might add, are the best grammy and papa. I never knew the joy I would feel as I watch my parents interact with my kids. I've just loved it! And walking away from it feels impossibly hard, as does walking away from siblings and the girls' first cousins--their most favorite cousin and friend, Olivia, and their brand new baby cousin James. Face Time will do, but it's won't be the same. Not at all.
 
Enough lamenting. Seems to be all I do lately. I've vacillated between feeling guilty about being so sad; ashamed at my negative attitude toward this move; angry at my husband for making the decision; at peace and rest believing God is in control and that he has a plan better than I can choose for myself; in inner turmoil not trusting that God is in control; emotional about all the good things we left behind; excited about things to come; angry; bitter; happy; excited. Yes, my mind is all over the place. Generally I wake up happy and feeling strong, ready to take on another day of uncertainty over where we will live (we still haven't found a house) and trying to wrangle our three wild ones in other people's homes. But as each day wanes on--some of the days impossibly long--my mind seems to take a plunge and swirl down the toilet. My breaking point comes at night after the girls are in bed and I have time to think too much and come unraveled. I feel like I'm still in my body, but living someone else's life. It's so hard to keep my mind from wandering to where we were four, six, eight weeks ago. Snug in our little farmhouse with acreage that our girls ran wild all over, taking daily hikes, planting flowers, enjoying time with friends, vacationing at my parents, serving at church and being active in our little city. Strolling farmer's market, hitting up story time, going to familiar parks. Knowing the streets inside and out and never being in the car for more than fifteen minutes at a time. No traffic to fight, no gunshots heard ringing through the air sending chills down our spines, no need for Siri to guide me everywhere I go. Every single thing about life is upside down and inside out, it's uncomfortable, and I don't like it one bit.
 
And YET...beneath all the fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, and unfamiliarity...beneath all that, my faith is there and it is the rock I stand on. Right now, ALL else is sinking sand. Christ is the only rock. Everything else is shaky and uncertain, but He remains the same. I often feel like my faith is puny compared to Brad's "super faith". His is loud and bold and boisterous. He never waivers or questions.
Yet, I'm learning that my faith is my own and it looks different than his or anyone else's and that's okay. I hold mine close to my heart and it is deep and thoughtful and sometimes I wrestle with it, but even when I have the most ferocious wrestling matches, faith always beats doubt.
Faith is what brings me back to a peaceful place after my "episodes" of fear and worry and doubt.
I wish I could say that my heart is always still; always peaceful, regardless of my circumstances. But then again maybe, just maybe, I can rest knowing that God made me this way and that it's okay to struggle. Maybe he allows me to struggle because he knows that that is what will keep me close to him. When I get too comfortable, I tend to think I'm superwoman and I leave God out of the details. But when I'm needy and nearing the end of my rope, I call on him constantly. I talk with him; I pour out my heart to him; and I am working to be still and wait; to listen to him.
 
The Bible admonishes us to be joyful always; to pray continually; and to be thankful in all circumstances (for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus). I long to be the kind of person who is joyful--even when I don't get the house I wanted or to live where I wanted or whatever the case may be. I long to have a heart that is steadfast, that remembers to pray without ceasing, through good days and hard days. I long to be truly thankful--thankful for my blessings and all things beautiful and good, but also thankful for my trials and tribulations. Thankful for the hard things life brings, remembering that the testing of my faith produces perseverance, which leads to maturity and completeness. I see progress in my life in these areas, but to be honest, I've basically been a giant pile of crap through out this particular trial. And a pile of crap is not pretty. It's smelly, and gross, and ugly, and...well, that's probably enough, I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Basically, I've been mopey and rude and anxious and bummed out. And I've spent a lot of time beating myself up over my attitude. Preaching to myself that I should be more thankful, wondering what is wrong with me? Why can't I just get it together like a good little Christian should? Then, I was reminded at church this morning that no one is perfect. And by no one, that would include me. If I were perfect, what need would I have for GRACE? None! It is my weakness, my ugliness, my failures, that draw me to the foot of the cross over and over again, remembering that I am but a lowly human in need of my savior. And no matter how ugly I've been, he looks upon me with love because I am his daughter, his beloved, and all he really wants is for me to lift my eyes to the heavens and receive his grace. And so I do.
 
Today, we've been gone for a month. It still hurts, but I will hold my head up. Tomorrow the new school year starts for Brad and I will support him and get in gear for homeschooling Addison for Kindergarten and get outside to enjoy the sights and smells of my home for now, the south. I will do my best to live in the present, but I won't beat myself up if I shed a tear for what I miss. I'm a "feeler" and I've decided that that's ok:) Sorry "thinkers", I know I must drive you a little nuts.
 
Happy Monday all! Here are some photos of our last few weeks in MT, such cherished times with everyone. We love and miss you all!!! xoxoxo
 
(also, mom, how did you escape all the pics? Sad.) 
 














Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happy 6th Birthday Addison!

 
Well life is chaotic right now, but the world keeps spinning regardless of how I wish it would just stop and slow down for a moment, and as time keeps ticking, another kid has another birthday and I find myself celebrating my baby girl who just turned six: Addison Elaine, born July 5th, 2011 after a grueling 32 hour labor in Nashville, TN. Five short weeks later, I was on an airplane, just she and I, headed to what has become home to our now family of five: Helena, MT. I remember crying a few tears, wondering why I was leaving TN and the good life we had there. And now the tables are turning once more, same time of year, six years later. We will get into our van and drive away from family and friends and this beautiful place we love, and once again, I shed tears, wondering the same thing I wondered when we left TN: "Why are we leaving?" More on that later...
 
For now, let me just say Happy Birthday to my girl who is so in love with life. Addison, your smile makes me smile on the worst day. It takes over your whole face and lights up the room, and I just love it! You have a love for life and the energy to make the most of every single minute of every single day. No time for naps, not for you! You love learning, be it by books, exploring, asking a million questions, or just watching things with curiosity; I see you soak it all in. You are so smart and I'm so excited to start Kindergarten with you soon! You may bicker with your sisters and pick at them, but most of the time, you look out for them and love them dearly. I pray everyday that you three would remain friends your whole lives. I recently asked you what your favorite thing to do is, and you replied, "Spending time with you, mom!" I hope that never changes either. I love hanging out with you; not only do I love you, but I just genuinely like you. You're so much fun and mommy loves spending time with you too:)
I pray that the Lord blesses your sixth year and that you grow in your knowledge and love for Jesus. That you would never lose your childlike faith, and that you would share that faith with others who need it. Love you so much, Happy Birthday!
Love, Mom
 
Current Favorites:
Color: Blue
Food: Pizza and cottage cheese
Dessert: Lemon cake and apple pie with ice cream
Things to do: Ride bikes, swim, play soccer
Favorite Book: The Book With No Pictures
Movie: Peter Pan
Place: The fair
Animal: Giraffe
Bible Story: Naman
Season: Fall
 


 
 
 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Seattle

 
 
Last weekend, we went to Seattle for my sister's graduation from Northwest University. It's supposed to take nine hours from where we live, but somehow it took closer to 13, so needless to say, it was a LOT of car time, followed by a day and a half in Seattle before getting back in the car again. However we decided to split the trip up on the way home and stopped in Spokane for the evening, before heading back to Helena on day four. Anyway, we did make it down town twice and had a blast with Kate. We went to Gasworks Park across the lake from downtown on Saturday night (great views, though my phone took not-so-great pictures at dusk...), and spent Sunday morning leisurely strolling and eating our way through Pike Place. I told the girls they could each pick one thing, anything they wanted. Oh they were excited about that! Addison got lemon curd gelato, Izzie got a "unicorn tail"--some braided pastry with frosting and rainbow sprinkles, and Lily got a monster cookie the size of her head (really...it was the size of her head). Then they had sips of my coffee for a treat. Yes, they like coffee, straight up, no sugar. And then, we made it to the car before everyone crashed. They absolutely loved it though...the tall buildings, the people everywhere, all the sights and sounds, everything. They even told me the next day, "Mom, we should start house hunting in Seattle!" Ha! (not happening)
While we won't be moving there, we did enjoy it and hope to visit again, when we have more than a weekend to spend. Spring in Seattle is gorgeous, by the way...SO green and SO many flowering bushes and trees, it's absolutely beautiful and smells so amazing and fresh. And of course the food...oh, the food (I adore big cities if nothing else, than for the sake of all the delicious foods!)
Here are a few pictures. Thanks for having a graduation Kate, sorry it took us four years to drag our butts over there to see you! ;)
 



 We hung around the giant piggy bank for a few minutes, until the famous 'fish throwing' ensued at the fish market. It's pretty silly, but something that must be seen if you're at Pike's!
 


 Of all my attempts to get a good shot of these four, this was the best I could do! :)
 





 (This was at a state park in Idaho that we stopped at for lunch. We are actually standing in an old mission, and the oldest building in the state. Beautiful!)
 

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Thoughts and Life Lately

Hello!
I've been wanting to get on here and update this little blog for some time now, and woke up this Saturday morning, grabbed my coffee, and decided to do just that! Life isn't really all that crazy, but with another blog, writing for a local publication, and [trying] to get into freelance work, I rarely get to this special spot, my first ever blog, the place I realized I loved to write. Since most of you are long-distance family/friends, I thought a little update on life and some pictures would be fun!
 
Spring just may have finally arrived here in MT. It takes a good two months longer (or more...) to get here than it does down south, which always makes me a bit melancholy in March and April. I'm working very hard on being content in all things, and this includes where we live. Contentment with where I live is a struggle for me. I always want to be somewhere else. To be more specific, I always want to be somewhere warmer. And it really hits me in the springtime, when I'm desperate for the spring blooms that I remember of TN. Interstates lined with pink and purple trees, sweet smelling and strikingly beautiful. Parks overflowing with vibrant red and yellow tulips and golden, buttery daffodils. Green grass and parks bustling with joggers, walkers, families, moms with strollers, and elderly couples holding hands. Spring picnics and garden planting! I digress.
And so I am desperately searching out beauty right where I am. Yesterday I took a walk through the field behind our house with the girls and was happy to see if full of tiny yellow flowers (weeds, to be more specific, but still pretty!). The grass is slowly changing from yellowish brown to green, the lilacs have tiny buds, and the Meadowlarks are singing--a sure sign that warmer weather is soon arriving. The beauty is here; I just have to look harder than I did in the south.
 

Many people have asked about the house situation; it's actually a continual question without a concrete answer. Here's the scoop: We are half-heartedly house hunting, but not really. We were full force trying to buy for the last few months, but the housing market (from the buyers perspective) has gotten progressively worse, and simply put, it would be very unwise to buy a house in MT right now. What we could afford here wouldn't fit our family, much less guests or (potentially) more children, were we to have any more. Even if we did buy something small, we would most likely take a loss if/when we decided to sell. We even saw a news report saying that the housing market is at an all time high, making it nearly impossible for the middle class to buy a decent house.
And so, unless something just perfect and amazing comes along, we will continue to rent the farmhouse we currently live in. Though it's drafty and expensive to keep warm in the winter, we love it the rest of the year. It's spacious and has a fabulous space outside for the girls to run around and play and explore. Our landlord said Brad could build me some raised beds wherever we'd like, and even offered to help, so we will have gardens! I've missed out the last two summers due to moving/traveling, so I'm beyond excited to garden this summer!
 
Our family is well. This winter brought more sickness to Helena than I've ever seen, and was also the coldest, longest winter I've ever seen (the two go hand in hand I'm sure). I think we are in the safe zone, as far as colds and flu bugs are concerned...I hope!!!! We are healthy and getting outside and opening windows in the late afternoon when it has warmed up a bit. The girls have been taking their little sandbox buckets and going for 'nature walks' and collecting all sorts of things from the field. We had a woodpecker in a tree in our yard yesterday and that was so fun! I will be homeschooling them in the fall. Addison will officially be in Kindergarten, Lily in pre-K, and I'll have to find puzzles and little things to make Izzie feel like she's doing school too; she wouldn't have it any other way! She has to be right in the center of everything, and that includes school:) We're still doing some school work, but I've backed off from the schedule we began last fall. I had a realization that struck me rather hard, that life as I have known it for the past almost six years is going to change once Addison is in Kindergarten. Not in a bad way, but it will be a big change for all of us. I realized I could back off with the rigid structured school mornings; they are coming soon enough:)
 
We will be traveling to Seattle for Kate's graduation in the beginning of May, and then four weeks later to Corvallis for her wedding! Summer will kick off busy, but then we don't have any major travel plans for the remainder. We will try for another 'big trip' next summer. We're hoping to go south every other summer if at all possible...the perks of Brad being a teacher and having summers off!!
 
Well, I started this Saturday and now it's Tuesday afternoon and the girls are supposed to be napping, but just as I put them down, a cement truck came to do work nearby (like right outside their window), so I don't think there's much napping going on, and I'm going to curtail this, throw some recent pictures on here, and call it good!
 
Hope you are all well and enjoying spring wherever you are!
 
 They love taking their magnifying glasses and sketch books out to the field to explore
 Spring break in the Bitterroot, on a nature walk with Grammy (looking at a birds nest??)

 Saturday morning hiking date:)

  
 Yes, he dressed as a pseudo-leprechaun for St. Patty's Day
Well, this is what you get when you have three daughters!
 We've finally done away with bottles, but still fighting over the paci...she adores them both!


Her happy place:)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Birthday Izzie!

 
Dear Izzie,
 
Today you turn two! How has it possibly been two years since you came into this family's life? You have brought more laughter to us than I ever thought possible. You've been given the gift of humor and your silly antics have kept you out of trouble too many times. You're a bit naughty, but you do even the naughtiest things with such a cheerful disposition, it makes it impossible for us to think clearly in the moment, thus we often find our selves unsuccessfully trying to stifle a laugh rather than deal with whatever you just did. You are certainly giving mommy and daddy a run for our money! I remember one day in particular (which I tell the story of because it rather nicely portrays a normal day with you) in which in the span of 10 minutes, you picked dumped a Costco size bag of chips on the ground and stepped in them. As I was cleaning that up, you pulled the garbage over and managed to stick your head in an empty chocolate ice cream container, licking whatever you could. As I cleaned up the garbage, you moved to the bathroom and threw some things in the potty (your favorite pastime for a while there...I'm thankful that phase has passed!!), and then dumped a large glass of water over your head. You've been known to do something wrong, look me in the eye and say "No no Izzie", slap your own hand with a devilish grin, and take off running full speed.
You tease your big sister's to tears sometimes (many, many times), but they love you--adore you!
They tell me all the time, "Izzie is SO funny mom!" Yup, you're the family comedian, and we are so thankful for you. Your cheerful disposition brightens my worst day. I've seen you cock your head at crabby looking folk at the grocery store, staring them down until they are forced to look at you, at which point you smile your giant, crooked, ear-to-ear smile, and they can't help but smile, maybe even chuckle a little. I pray often for my kids to use their gifts to help others in the world now and in the future. For you dear girl, I pray your joy will never fade, that even the sorrows you will inevitably face, as we all do, won't be able to snuff out your joy and thrill for life. I pray that you will never be stingy with it, but will spread it around to those lacking. That your smile will be contagious and freely given, in a world where less and less people smile at each other. That it would brighten the day of countless individuals throughout your lifetime.
Izzie, little spitfire that you are, you have such a gigantic personality and I'm so thrilled that I get to be your mommy and experience your joy each and every day. I love you to the moon!
 
Happy Birthday!!!
 
Love, Mom