Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ten smile tuesday...

...and, ugh, how i need it! i try to stay upbeat on my blog...not to create a false reality, but simply because that is what i need...to reflect on, remember, and share the blessings in our life...and, let me tell you, there are so many. and yet, life isn't always easy...being a wife and a mom aren't always easy. i know you all know that well...anyway...it has been one of those weeks around our house. (note: the smiles are at the end of the post...i simply had to share my heart first).

i've been fighting a migraine for the past four days...i've struggled with migraines off and on since my sophomore year in college (oh how i remember that year...passing out in the middle of shakespeare class...much to my embarrassment--funny though that at first some of my classmates thought i had simply fallen asleep!). i had an MRI, visited the neurologist, tried different medicines...but there was never a real diagnosis or solution. i've been on different medicines and had seasons of feeling poorly and seasons of feeling normal. after having my wisdom teeth removed last fall the headaches almost completely disappeared, making us think perhaps the wisdom teeth had been the culprit all along. alas...apparently not. the headaches have returned with a vengeance...even including nausea (one migrain symptom i had been lacking before). i have spent the last few days exhausted, discouraged, and feeling fairly useless. yesterday, as i was sitting on the couch with my Bible open, crying out to God for hope, i think i ranged the whole gamut of emotions. for almost a decade i have been living with these headaches...yes, some are worse than others...but, i can think of very few days where i haven't had at least a lingering dull headache. it is something i have simply become used to...my "norm" so to speak. i struggle with the idea of even going to the doctor...i don't want to be told yet again that they don't know what is causing them...that they don't know what to give me to help...and i don't want to be on medicine without knowing the cause of the problem....

...and yet, i hear God calling to my heart, saying, "my grace is sufficient."

...perhaps it is partly my sensitivity and exhaustion from the headaches....but regardless, i have been short and irritable with the girls. it has been one of those weeks...kate is teething (ugh...we can see the teeth right at the surface...they just won't pop through!)....lots of drooling and fussing...LOTS of clinging. and, of course, now that she is mobile, LOTS of following me EVERYWHERE. seriously, i LOVE my kater bug (you all know that, of course)...but dear heavens i can't get anything done lately...she is under foot...constantly....typically with that little fussiness (which i can only hope is all teething related...since this little bug is usually SO happy and content!)...that little face pinched into a pleading look, as if to say, "mommy...please pick me up!" she pulls up onto everything...only to be frustrated that she can't yet figure out how to take that first step and walk...but oh how she is trying! then, there is my dearest elizabeth...dear, dear elizabeth...and, of course, as anyone familiar with almost three year olds know...now she has the words...the words to whine...the ability to not only use unkind words to her sister, but also to bonk kate over the head...ugh! and oh, that stubborn independent streak....funny (in a frustrating way!) how i see my own desire to control manifested so clearly as i look at elizabeth...there are so many things that i want her to try...and i have to admit, i often get frustrated with her shyness...her independent, "i do it myself" streak...how i struggle with wanting to make her over in my image as opposed to allowing her to be the little girl God has created her to be...i want her to be brave...to ride her tricycle, to swim in the big pool, to sing and dance at library storytime, to plunge fearlessly into life...she is content to stand back and observe, to take her time entering these new experiences. i see my own pride...my own selfishness...my struggle to control...my sin.

...and yet, once again, i hear God saying to me, "my grace is sufficient."

this is where i am...these are just a couple snippets of my heart's struggle. we have had so many wonderful sermons from colossians 1 lately...wonderful reminders that Jesus is the "core"...the pre-eminent one...the center of everything. oh how my heart needs to be fixed on this truth...how i need to come back to Him...to depend on Him and let His power work through me. earlier i mentioned sitting on my couch, Bible opened, crying out to God. it was this verse He brought me to...this verse He used to speak to my heart. "and He is before all things and in Him all things hold together." colossians 1:17. Jesus holds ALL things together...ALL things...regardless of headaches or bad days or my struggle against sin...He is holding my day together...He is holding the universe together...He is holding my marriage and family together. He is OVER ALL! my flock group leader from church wrote each of us in the group a note last week...it said this, "a faithful struggle is worth more than a fleshly victory" (colossians 2:6)....how this reality comforts my heart. i need not try in my own strength, in my flesh, to be perfect...i need not pretend...i need simply fall on my face again and again, continuing to put my faith in Christ and ask Him to help me...to ask Him to help me to walk in Him....to keep putting one foot in front of the other and faithfully following Christ each moment and hour and day and week....faithfully struggling to become more like Him. this is my prayer!

and so...i can say that i do rejoice in these "trials", in the things in my life right now that are less than perfect or easy...because God is using them. He is using them to glorify Himself...and to draw me unto Himself...to help me know Him and love Him. and how sweet that even in the midst of the hard things in life, God is faithful to give so many blessings...so many smiles. and, without further ado, here they are...just ten of the many blessings and smiles from our past week.

1. our lovely visit (and walk) with jill and baby brennan....and the joy in knowing there will be many more of these kind of visits to come now that jill has entered the stay-at-home-mommy realm!

2. catching up with a friend from my previous life (an old teaching co-worker)...she and her little boy came over to walk with us on thursday.

3. having GG and grandmommy both at our house on wednesday...elizabeth was thrilled to show GG ALL of her special friends and books and toys...seriously, i think elizabeth dragged out just about every toy she owns! so much fun!

4. a lunch date with my sweet friend lora...it was so encouraging to hear all about her recent short term vision trip to africa...to hear how she is loving Jesus and growing in her relationship with Him. always good!

5. watching daddy and elizabeth make a tasty apple pie (and the delightful aroma of the baking pie!). elizabeth was so cute...smelling each ingredient, hamming it up for the video camera as i caught the precious memory on tape (hopefully we will get the cord we need and be able to show you some video of the girls in action very soon!). and...of course...taking that pie to a cook-out at a fam from church's house...getting to know them...watching our kiddos run around in the backyard...staying out far later than we typically would on a saturday night...and coming home with hearts full from great fellowship and fun!

6. folding the laundry right as it came out of the dryer...let's be honest...sometimes it really is about celebrating the "little" victories, even while the rest of the house might feel like it is exploding into chaos all around me!

7. walking to the library for toddler time this morning. so wonderful to get out in the beautiful sunshine, to read some stories, sing some songs, see some friends we've not seen for awhile....good stuff! gotta love that elizabeth acted completely shy during the actual library time...and then proceeded to sing the songs and dance around as soon as we left the room....silly girl! kate, true to her personality, was LOVING all the singing and bopping around...hamming it up for the group...i tell you, she's going to be the one who doesn't know a stranger!

8. snuggling up with my girlies and a good book. we did get three more new books from half price books on sunday...compliments of the summer reading program. but regardless whether it is a new or old book, the moments spent sitting with the girls and reading are among my favorites. how my heart swells to hear elizabeth "reading" along with me...to see kate lifting the flaps to discover what is under them...to simply be with the girls.

9. elizabeth's love for naming her toes. okay, family will get what i mean here..."little petey, patti lou, odie missel, penny knobble, and BIG TOM GOBBLE!" elizabeth LOVES to tell you the names of her little toesies...and kate's toesies...and mommy and daddy's toesies. this morning her pinky toe (little petey) got stuck when we were putting her sandal on, and she said, "oh no, mommy, little petey is stuck!"...and my heart swelled...i know, that sounds silly...but it did. you see, my bapa taught me the names of my toes when i was just a little girl...probably elizabeth's age...and just a little over a month ago he was sitting in florida, tickling elizabeth's toes and telling her their names...and now, though he is no longer with us on this earth...every time my daughter refers to "little petey" or "big tom gobble" my thoughts will be drawn to him...and i will smile. (as a funny sidenote...just before she got her "little petey" stuck in the sandal, i had asked her to grab her pink sandals, and she looked up at me and said, "mama...my sandals are FREAKING OUT!"...where does she come up with this stuff!)

10. and now for one really superficial smile...the super duper gift card i discovered hidden among the ads in my sunday paper. a gift card that entitles me to a FREE iced coffee from starbucks every day until july 14...yeppers...you read that right, free iced coffee every day until july 14. (i'm sure its a ploy to get people "hooked" by habit into stopping by starbucks daily...but little do they know my bargain-ness...i will be savoring this freebie right up until the 14th...and then, no more...i'm just too cheap to pay $2 for an iced coffee!).

spaghetti anyone!?

sweet little girls...sweet little faces...faces that make even
the most frustrating of moments worth it!
libs helps crush heath bars for a dessert..while kate
scoots around the kitchen wishing she could help too!


Rebecca said...

i absolutely love the pictures, amanda! your girls are so precious and beautiful! and i love your smiles. i need to start doing mine again...i really do! i am with you on the fact that being a wife and mama is a hard job! i know i've been having some really hard days with my girls, too! oh, i wanted to say thank you for your kind words of encouragement regarding the breastfeeding and formula thing! thank you!

Becoming Me said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post. Those pictures are gorgeous as well!

Wendi said...

Something about this post struck me as really beautiful. It was an honesty. A picture of "in our weaknesses He is strong." Christ shining through you.
My heart goes out to you as you deal with the migraines. I have not often had them, but when I have it has taken every ounce of strength just to function. As a mommy we don't have the privilege of taking a day off... I am praying Amanda! I know that can just be so hard.
You have been a great encouragement to me lately and I can see such a shining heart that beats for the Lord in you!!
Oh - and I love your mention of folding laundry just out of the dryer. Those little things in life definitely are worth celebrating. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I was that speedy with the laundry!! :)

Rebecca said...

thank you, amanda. i really do appreciate you and your friendship. thank you for sharing your experiences. i'll keep you posted as to how things go. yes, libbs and leila are sharing a room. we have a 2 bedroom apartment right now, so it's a must. sometimes leila will sleep through liberty's craziness, sometimes not. it's hard. i forgot to mention in my previous comment that i am praying for you regarding your migraines...i know those can be so hard...

Nancy M. said...

I hope your migranes subside. Teething can be trying. My little one was so ill until his came through one right after the other. It was a bad few weeks, but now, he's happy again. Well, mostly, anyway!

Carrie said...

I am so sorry that you suffer from migraines. I get them too and they are horrible!!!! I will pray for you.

And thanks for being so honest. We all feel similarly now and then. And having a migraine surely does not help how to deal with things.

I especially like your point about allowing Elizabeth to "be the girl God created her to be, not just the girl that I want her to be." That thought actually popped into my head while I was teaching a piano lesson today. Thanks for the inspiration!!! :)

I hope you're feeling better soon. Praying!

Amy said...

All these years I'v known you and I had no idea you had such a struggle. I am so sorry you have to deal with that as I sympathize because my Michael always has a headache too. It rarely elevates to a migraine though. I used to work with a girl who got them though and I just remember how bad of a reaction it was for her. So, my heart and prayers go out to you my friend. I hope you are feeling better with strength and body today!

Long Family Chronicles said...

I love the pictures!!! Sounds like life is going well for you (all things considered!) Things are going well. We live in Avon (1/2 mile up old 36 from the ritters). Where are you guys in bburg? do you miss teaching? i can't wait to work part time and stay at home mostly with our new little one this coming December!

chelle said...

The part about Elizabeth naming her toes...it is just too adorable.

And I am so sorry to hear about your migraines. Jesus give you loads of grace, for the hard, in-pain days and I'll be praying that you can somehow find some relief.

What an inspiration you are to me.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I missed this post. I am so sorry you've been suffering with the migraines! I wish I had some insightful advice, but I've never suffered from them ... I do hope you feel better for your drive and your holiday get together!!!
Such cuteness about the toes from Elizabeth!
I must tell you...our second baby was the hardest and it really really does get easier. They get less clingy (phew) and less needy and start to play better with big sis. I hope these changes happen quickly for your sanity...but not too fast ;)