Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fight! Fight! Fight!

I feel compelled to talk about marriage. I have been down this road twice now. Scott is my second husband and this time around I have a different mentality about it. About 60% of Americans vow to stay committed to the same person for life. So, where does all this doubt and "growing apart" come into play when marriage originally starts out smelling like roses? I am not judging anyone that has been divorced because I obviously have no room to sound all high and mighty about it. Also, I am not for someone staying with another person  where abuse is happening. (Abuse comes in many forms)  This is just me speaking from my heart about what I learned through my experience and have been healed from.

Here is what I have learned...

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. It's not about making each other happy. It's about holiness, being sacrificial and committed 100% of the way.  As a kid I believed the fairy tales of the prince kissing his bride and then happily ever after happens. In reality, we are sinners, marrying sinners. When those vows are said, Satan gets his crew out ready to destroy.  He knows that there are great things that can happen when two people vow to love each other forever.  He is evil and brings misery into happy lives everyday.  Most people this day and age are looking for instant happiness, not expecting to fight for your best friend's life, even if it means you get a battle wound.  People get married for the wrong reasons all the time but still, the vows are said.
"Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned." James 5:12

These vows that are said are serious business. God takes them and seals them.
Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Mark 10:9

So, for these vows to be broken, it means humans have to mess it up. We have to be the ones that make that choice to separate and to break vows. "It was never right from the beginning," "we've tried everything," "we've grown apart," "he/she doesn't make me happy," "I deserve to be happy."  These are the thoughts that start running through our minds and if we don't get a grip on those thoughts it only gets worse.

When you entered into marriage with your spouse, you stepped to onto the battle field. You just told someone else that is full of faults, and they told you, that you would love them forever, no matter what.  It's a bold move.  Your husband/bride is the most beautiful person you have ever met and you can't imagine life with anyone else.  It truly is a beautiful thing.  It looks as though you have the perfect life ahead of you.  One big reason I always recommend pre-marital counseling is because your subconscious may carry expectations of what your marriage will look like.  Expectations set your spouse up for failure because they may not even know about these "requirements" you have for them until your vows are spoken.  Scott and I had pre-marital counseling and it helped us avoid those pointless fights about who does the grocery shopping or who takes out the garbage.  Expectations are great things to talk about at any point in your relationship.

Some expectations that we throw onto our new spouse may be:
You take out the trash
You do the dishes
You work on the yard
You take care of the cars
You stay home with the kids 
We will have kids by the time I'm 25
We will have only a real Christmas tree
We will have a savings account with no less than $$$$
 We will read books or do devotions every night together
We will go to bed at the same time every night
You will grocery shop
We will have sex at least 6 days a week :)
We will never fight like the "so and so's"
You will take care of the budget

I find my marriage to Scott to be the most rewarding gifts God has ever given me. We have had our share of struggles that led to me thinking "why did I do this again?" I have felt lonely at times. I have had broken expectations. I have thrown a remote control at him in a hormonal rage. I have bossed him around. I have belittled him. I have taken his sincere love for granted. I have said sorry.  I have forgiven him. We have hurt each other's hearts and that sucks. The good part, no the GREAT part is that the rewards of being committed to another person is the growth. If you don't like change, then marriage is probably not for you because it's all about change and growth. This person exposes our insides. Marriage wasn't designed for awesome cuddle sessions, though, I do love those.

This is how I look at it. Scott is a gift to me and I see his life (not just his life with me) as something worth fighting for. When I choose to say mean things to him I tear him down making it much easier for him to be defeated.  I want him to prosper in life, I want good for him.  I want to mature and grow as well.  "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ." Ephesians 4:15  Like Thumper says, "if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all."

So, if Scott is struggling in an area of his life, I have a few options on how to handle it . I can pretend it's not happening and hope it gets better on it's own.  I can let him know how weak he is and make him feel like a failure because I think that it will challenge him to change.  I don't know a single man that loves a good degrading session from his wife but sadly, I have done that.  Finally, I can be his biggest cheerleader, prayer warrior, support, and inspiration. I know I can't change a person and the choices they make though, so that's where trusting God comes in. I trust Him with my whole life and heart. I know He's going to take care of me even if Scott can't in the moment. I throw all my eggs in God's basket, not Scott's. I choose to see Scott as God's child and He promises to takes care of His kids. "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

It doesn't matter how long you've been married, it's a journey. Humans are never just stuck, you are either moving forward or backward. I know change can be scary and letting go of those expectations causes great anxiety but it's worth it. It's so worth it to watch someone grow and reap the blessings of being committed. In five years you will look back and have no regrets trying your best to love someone sacrificially. I don't mind knowing that I have fought for someone with no other intentions than a hope that they will know true joy one day.  That is why I married again.  I love Scott and I have a strong desire to see where God takes us.  I make the choice to love him and he makes the same choice towards me.  Praise God!
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Parking Spot Prayers

Sometimes we pray for a great parking spot, don't deny it :) Other days we are down on our knees with a cumbersome request. A lot of my prayer time happens during workouts. I pray for people, thank God for who He is, and then, sparingly pray a much heavier prayer. These heavy prayers go a little something like this..."Lord, use me in someone's life, I want to share your love." "Lord, I pray for truth to be revealed." "Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours." If you so dare to let those words slip out in either thought or off your lips, beware.

1. LORD, USE ME..."Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Cor 13:4
You can pray this at any stage in life, even if you don't feel like you have anything to offer. A strange visual came to my mind when thinking about this prayer. Let's say you are a knife, your gift is cutting things. You can't do it on your own, there must be a hand that guides your gift in the right way. It's a joint effort and should be a humble effort. You can't just go around cutting the heck out of things. God's love isn't the type of love that flashes across a jumbotron saying "LOOK WHAT I DID!" In my experience He whispers to me and shows me who needs Him. His love is easy, quiet, gentle and selfless. The only effort is showing love without showing yourself.

2. LORD, I PRAY FOR TRUTH..."Then you will know the truth, and truth will set you free." John 8:32
This is a no fail prayer. Every time I pray this prayer He reveals the skeletons in the closet. His truth takes all of your insides and turns them out. Exposed in full color and 3-D! This is one of my favorites because the second I ask for it, I immediately regret it. "NOOOO!!" I scream in my head. I don't want to see my insides or anyone else's for that matter. *Deep breath* In through the nose, out through the mouth. Do I trust Him? Definitely! He has only ever shown me freedom in truth.

3. LORD, BREAK MY HEART..."Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." Bob Pierce
A breaking heart makes my chest get heavy and my head tip back causing my eyes to look up. It's hard to look at what's breaking your heart without looking up at Him. "Why God, Why!?!" The burden you have may be towards a minority group, the mistreatment of other humans, kids, marriages, family, friends, the poor, etc. In my case, God has mostly used me in marriages and family. I know that in asking for this broken heart, it comes with suffering. Seeing people through God's eyes can be very revealing in your own life. It's the grace He has given me through tough times that allows me to realize I must be broken down to understand His Holy love. I know every time my heart is broken that it will be rebuilt bigger and better. I know it's not just for my good that He has worked in my heart but eventually I will be asked to share it. Asking for a broken heart could send you into the orphanages of Africa or to your neighbors house after a domestic dispute. You just never know.

Praying will no doubt cause inevitable growth. It may not come in the answer you expected but it will reveal something. You just need to listen to the sweet voice. When God says go, then go. He will give you all you need to get through these answered prayers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Change is not bad it's just different, different isn't bad, it's just different

Three months in to this motherhood thing and I think it's been a success. I say that because my baby is still alive. She's not like my poor house plants that ended up dying off within weeks of their arrival. There was a moment where I saw a lady that was pregnant and briefly missed my baby belly. THAT'S CRAZY TALK KRISTA, CRAZY TALK! I'm just getting my body back to normal and can exercise like my old self. There's a new normal that comes with trying to get back to the old normal though. When I was in Montana we did the same fun stuff like hiking and going to the lake but it came with a bit more work. We could go after making sure Rhylan was fed, changed, clothed, safely in her car seat and diaper bag in hand. Then, when we arrived at our destination we had to make sure we remembered to take her out of the car. One night Scott and I were headed to the Walmart Redbox like usual. We got out of the car, walked through the parking lot and suddenly realized we left our quiet sleeping baby in our backseat. Both of us did a 180 turnaround and ran back to the car feeling completely inept. I opened the car door in a flash, Scott jumped in front of me and ripped the car seat out of the base to make sure she was still alive. We both apologized she really cared ;) Right then, I remembered what it was like before she was born. It was just Scott and I. Six years went by quickly and I cherish every memory of "just us." We use to grocery shop together and go out to eat whenever we wanted. I just had my first solo grocery run. I must say I did quite well and did the drive-thru grocery thing. It was so easy I might just do it again!

Going out to eat is doable but for some reason, the moment our food comes she wakes up and hates life. We use to sit down and devour our meal but now it takes us an extra 20 minutes to eat between diaper changes and passing her back and forth to each other. Then, there's always the random strangers that want to know all about her and some even ask to hold her. I suppose they're friendly middle-aged women so it's not that threatening. Maybe I'll be one of those women when Rhylan is older and I miss cuddling a soft baby.

Another change is living on a 3-4 hour cycle. She eats, plays, sleeps. So if we go somewhere, I have to time it all out. She eats before we leave the house. Then I get a couple good hours to shop before she wakes up and I have to go the nursing room to feed her again. It's diaper changing time then we go eat. After we eat we head home just in time for her to wake up to need to eat again. It's exhausting some days, really exhausting. It's a daily cycle, no matter what I have to do everything is planned out in regards to Miss Rhylan Jo.

When people say you can't remember life without them I can't agree. Of course I remember, it's remembering the fun times and challenges we've had as a couple that makes me appreciate where we are today. I think it's important to remember who you are and what steps God brought you through to get to where you are now. Rhylan has crazy in love parents that had too much love to share alone forever. She is our extra love, she is our new normal.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reflecting on the last decade

Tomorrow I begin my week long celebration of my 28th year of life. Yes, I said one full week of me :) As a kid, I dreaded birthdays. I'm serious. I was probably the only 10 year old that cried when I hit double digits. Other kids loved the cake, friends, and some sort of paper crown but not me. My parents always had great parties for me but I couldn't help but think that one day I was going to get old. My mom says I was always an old soul, too old beyond my years. Birthdays were a reminder of a quick, inevitable road to old. I didn't see how it could slow down, it just kept speeding up and my memories were fading. Yes, this was me at ten years old thinking these thoughts. Each birthday was more disappointing than the last, not because I didn't feel special, it was because life was going by so fast. I knew one day I was going to be 30 then 40 then older and older. There's no stopping it. I now realize that this was a part of my controlling personality showing its ugly face at a very young age. How do you control the days passing and the seasons turning?

On my 18th birthday I sobbed. There was another milestone in life. When most 18 year olds are celebrating with cigarettes and partying, I was watching "Riding in Cars with Boys" crying my eyes out. I don't even remember what the movie was about but remember trying to figure out why I was so sad. At 18, I had just started cosmetology school and was living on my own while working full time. My life was busy plus I was in a serious relationship. It's weird to see how blessed my life is now and think back then that I was trying avoid my future at all costs.

During my 18th year of life I worked hard at finishing cosmetology school and worked at a coffee shop as well as gas station. My relationship with my boyfriend was all sorts of wrong but I hung on. That year he proposed to me. I didn't gush when I told people, especially when I told my mom. I wanted to wait it out for a while but he insisted that we only had a six month engagement. I graduated cosmetology school then immediately started a job. Wedding planning seemed to keep me busy outside of work so I didn't have much time to think about what I was really doing. Like every bride, I picked out my dress and picked my bridesmaids. I learned how to play the part of a gushing bride-to-be pretty well. The invites declared the date and time and secretly I dreaded putting them in the mail box because I knew, I KNEW, I was doing the wrong thing. My exact thoughts when I dropped over 100 invites in the mail box were, "there's no turning back now." This was going to be the rest of my life with a man I didn't feel safe with and didn't believe I should be with. That's the problem with being 18, even when you're an old soul, you make stupid decisions! Haha! Year 18 flew by and then it was year 19. With a wedding right around the corner I continued to feel hesitant about walking down that aisle. The aisle I imagined in my mind didn't seem long enough, I needed more time! It was a winter wedding and I was blessed to have some very good friends come from all over to be with me. When my bridesmaids joined me, I felt like begging them to take me home to Montana but instead I acted like I lived in a picture perfect world. My life looked good, glossy, like a 16x20 photo hanging on the living room wall of a couple with plastered on smiles, a white picket fence, and a puppy by their side. I didn't even know how to get out, I was so far in.

Our wedding day came along with a frigid Iowa blizzard. Guests were dropping off like flies because they weren't able to travel. I was determined to get this over with because I somehow convinced myself that things would change once we were married. The music started and with my arm locked in with my dad's arm, we walked down the aisle. I kept thinking I needed to be running in the opposite direction. I gulped back the tears and looked at each person staring at me as I used their faces as a distraction from what was to come. No one stopped me, not even myself. That night I cried, it was a mistake and I knew it. He tried to convince me it would be okay, I was just young and things would be great one day. I did my best to believe that and prayed for God to help me.

Less than two years later I crumbled. It was a shock to most and even to myself. It hit me one day, I was afraid of my future. In fact, it was like my eyes were wide open now. I was sad, I was terribly thin, and had acid reflux from stress. My mom and dad, though not fond of our relationship from the beginning, didn't know where this was all coming from. I spilled my guts about all of my thoughts from the beginning and what our actual marriage was like behind closed doors. I decided I wasn't going to be vulnerable anymore and a 20 foot wall went up. I separated from him mentally and physically. It was a whirlwind of emotions, insanity, and pain. We both hurt. I remember feeling my heart break in two. God speaks of vows and how serious they are. Whether I wanted to or not, I said vows and this intense pain was a repercussion of those vows breaking. I lost my first "love", lost friends, lost my mind. I continued to go to work and that seemed to be my hiding place. I could focus on making people feel pretty, chat with them, and grow in my career. I prayed and read my Bible but my relationship wasn't getting back on track. We both made poor decisions that ripped us further apart. It ended in a fury.

Lacking self esteem, direction, and hope I continued to press on. Finally I had a beautiful voice speak to me and through me. My God, My Savior who sent the Holy Spirit to comfort, said, "I gave you everything you wanted but did you ever ask Me what I wanted for you?" It was truth in my bones. All these goals, all these self reliant ways I had set up in my life only took me so far. I repented at that moment, fell to my knees and apologized for being so hard headed and controlling. I wholeheartedly gave myself to God at that point. I knew I only wanted to listen to Him from then on because His plan was better than I could ever imagine.

Shortly after I gave my plans over to God and decided to wait on Him, I met Scott. My 22nd birthday was my first birthday I celebrated with absolute joy. I had hope for the unknown and could care less about my plan because it was in His hands now. Here I am 10 years after my 18th birthday celebrating my birthday for a whole week. I don't wait for people to plan things for me, I celebrate my life however I want for a whole week. Now, I get to celebrate with an awesome husband, a beautiful baby girl, amazing family, and hilarious friends. I think back over the last 28 years and there are things that make me cringe a little but I can't regret them, I don't have time to maintain those regrets.

"For I know the plans that I have towards you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

With a promise like Jeremiah 29:11 how could you choose any other plan than His plan?

Praise God for His faithfulness and who He is.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Party animals

Where do I begin? My computer has been down for about six weeks which seems like an eternity when Rhylan keeps changing so quickly. I went back to work eight weeks postpartum. I was excited to get back to doing what I love to do. I was definitely getting use to being a mom all day, every day but like they say, It's not for the faint of heart. There were times I was so tired I just wanted to knock Rhylan out. That sounds a bit extreme, I know, but I was seriously so exhausted. No, I would NEVER knock my sweet baby girl out but her partying started at 10pm. Heaven forbid Scott give me attitude for having to rock her to sleep which could take upwards of an hour some nights. If he even grumbled an ounce about it, my delirious mind was ready to kick him out of the house because "I was practically raising this baby on my own." Granted, my hormonal wretchedness was nowhere near the level it was when I was pregnant but I was a bit over the top. Little by little Rhylan has managed to enjoy falling asleep and everybody's sanity has returned. I now know why it usually takes two people to raise a child... accountability. He talks me back into reality and gives me breaks when needed. Again, Scott proves himself a worthy husband :)

Rhylan has been a growing girl. We went to the doctor for her eight week check up and she grew a couple of inches and gained a few pounds. Her little noggin' has proved her to be her father's daughter. It's in the 80th percentile for her age group. It doesn't look abnormally large but it explains why tummy time has been such a tiring feat for her. Now I know why when she manages to lift that 80th percentile head off the floor it bobs up and down and her little eyes gaze up at me begging for a break. We cheer tummy time on by clapping and saying what a good job she's doing. She doesn't get why we can't just carry her for the rest of her life. Apart of me wants to keep her a "wittle" baby forever while the other part of me loves watching her daily progress. Does anyone else take mental pictures like I do? I blink my eyes like a camera shutter, quickly imbedding these moments into my brain to hopefully hold on to forever.

Coming back to work has been wonderful. Most of you that know me, know that I tend to be a workaholic. My first few weeks back were hectic. It's my drug, my escape and has been for about 9 years now. It took a lot of willpower to say no to working extra hours but I managed to stick to my guns. I realized my dedication/selfishness after a whirlwind day preparing for a fashion show. I was already 15 minutes late to doing prep work on models. The car was packed full of hair tools and my face was fresh with makeup so I hopped in the car. As I started the engine I looked towards my house only to see my sister in law holding Rhylan waving her itty bitty hand at me. My heart melted and hurt at the same time because I forgot to say goodbye and tell her I loved her. I drove off in a hurry and waved back. Once I started doing prep work I forgot I was a mom. The show started, models walked, we danced and the plan was as usual, go out dancing afterwards to celebrate. This time felt different though. A part of me was missing. Scott and I looked at each other and just knew where we needed to be. Without regret, we picked up our daughter and brought her home. Best after party yet!

Rolled over at 8 weeks old
Imitates voice inflections
Found her fingers and toes
Smiles on command
8 wk check up- 11lbs, 22 1/2 long, head 14 inches