When Christine Met Brad

Today’s guest post is from Christine Leeb who has a burning message to share about marriage. Just when they thought theirs was over God stepped in. 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Our journey together began in college in the fall of 1996. He was the Graduate Assistant for the marching band and I was on the dance team. The first time I saw him, I thought he was the cutest guy I had ever seen. It didn’t matter that he was wearing a Huckleberry Hound t-shirt, khaki shorts with white socks and sandals, he had the most amazing blue eyes. I was instantly smitten.

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At good ‘ole Eastern Illinois University—what’s with all the crackers?

Our relationship was not pretty. In fact, anyone who knew my husband and I when we first started dating would have voted us “The Couple Most Likely to be Divorced”. I’m sure that some of our friends that knew us are shocked that we are still together today, and frankly, so am I. I say this, not out of disrespect for marriage, but because we didn’t do anything right from the beginning. Even as a dating couple, we were a disaster.

We loved each other, but we didn’t do it well. There was a lot of breaking up, a lot of fighting and finally after 4 years of dating and an ultimatum later, he finally proposed. Why? Only God knows. Ultimatums are not a good way to start out a marriage. Regardless, less than 6 months later, on July 8, 2000, we were married,

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Marriage for us was not easy. In fact, a book describing our marriage for the first 8-9 years would be called What Not To Do For A Successful Marriage with a subtitle–Whatever Brad and Christine are Doing, Do the Exact Opposite! This was difficult for us because my parents had been married for 30some years and Brad’s parents had been married for over 40some years at the time. So why couldn’t we do it?

No one ever told us how hard marriage was. It was frustrating.
There was definitely love there. There was definitely friendship. There was definitely common ground. And when things were good, they were really good, but when things were bad, they were really bad. In 2009, our marriage completely fell apart. It all happened right after a 4 year struggle with infertility. Right after we miraculously got pregnant with our beautiful boy, Ben.

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That was when our marriage almost ended in divorce. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but it’s true. Now, our marriage is stronger and better than it’s ever been, but we can’t believe how close we came to ending it…to giving up. Don’t ever doubt Him! Brad and I get teary-eyed just thinking about the fact that had we not fought to save our marriage, we wouldn’t have had two more blessings added to our family! Thank God, for not giving up on us!

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Even though it seemed to us that Ben came at the worst time in our marriage God knew that it was the perfect time. He always does, right? God knew that if He blessed us with a child at the exact same time that our marriage was about to end, we would fight to save it.

And, so, we went to marriage counseling. I remember feeling embarrassed that we had to go. I didn’t even want to tell my parents. When I did, though, my dad says (in his Mattoon, IL southern accent–yes, we Illinoisans have a southern accent) “Well, I’m sure you’re mother and I needed marriage counseling, we just never went to marriage counseling.”

The first two or three maybe even four of our sessions were just Brad and I talking and yelling at each other while the counselor just sat there with his mouth open. For over a year we continued to go to counseling, and we made progress, but trust me, it got worse before it got better. It seemed that for every step forward that we’d take, we would take 100 steps back. It felt hopeless. It felt like we were never going to move forward and heal. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.
At this point either one of us could have left. Either one of us could have given up, but we didn’t. We never gave up on us! We kept trying to make it work! It was tough. It was not fun to hold the mirror up to our faces and to really take a good at ourselves and see how much we had hurt each other. But we both faced our demons head on, and we were ready to get it all out! Look out!!!

So much came out during these sessions. We realized that we lived over 8 years with a marriage that was not God-centered. It was a marriage that was not protected. Because of that, the enemy attacked our marriage in every way. The enemy seeks to kill, steal, and destroy every marriage. We had so much brokenness that we didn’t even realize it. We struggled with jealousy, selfishness, lack of trust, disrespect, lack of communication, lack of time together, lack of making our marriage a priority, depression, oh—and, don’t forget the 4 years of infertility thrown into the mix, and the list goes on. All of this mess built up into 8 years of resentment, lack of forgiveness, and anger towards one another. It was ugly.
I will never forget the turning point for us: I got so angry at him one night that I screamed and screamed at the top of my lungs about how mad at him that I was. After that, I’m convinced that God said: “Ok, you’ve said your piece. Now be quiet.” He shut my mouth for eight days. Yes, eight days. We didn’t talk to each other at all. Instead we wrote letters. We wrote and wrote—page after page. We got everything out. Thousands of words. Miles of hurt. Eight years of questions. Eight years of pain. Eight years of destruction. Out. FINALLY—-We were free. Praise the Lord. There was hope.
Not to say that things were perfect from then on, but it was a start—a fresh start! A start to freedom. A start to a healthier communication. A start to an amazing NEW friendship and love. A start to rebuilding a marriage with a foundation of trust. A start of a new marriage with God in the center just the way He intended marriage to be!
In June of 2010, Brad and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. After a year and a half of literally starting our marriage over and building it from the ground up, we chose to celebrate our fresh start in a big way. We traveled out to Napa California.Napa Vacation 2010070

We wore our wedding attire and we renewed our vows on a hot air balloon ride over the valley. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was heavenly. I could feel God smiling.

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Even after almost 16 years together, we are still working on our marriage. Marriage is always a work in progress. We, as individuals, are always a work in progress. Brad and I thank God for pursuing us, changing us, and loving us so much that He used our past to help us build a better future. He helped us to grow closer to each other and to Him. And we are now able to set an example to our children as to what a healthy marriage should be. We are so thankful that God never gave up on us. He kept trying. But that’s not all there is—we had to never give up too. We had to keep trying too.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU

No matter what your struggle is- obviously for me, it was my marriage. For you, it might be your marriage too or it might be something else. No matter what your challenge is, just know that God will never give up on you and He will always keep trying to find new ways to pursue you. In any way that you feel hopeless, may God bring you hope.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12: 12
Together, Brad and I came up with a list of 10 tips that have helped us to have a healthier marriage. We pray they help you too…

1. Put God at the center of your marriage. Even though we have different religions, we still pray together. Pray for each other. Pray! Pray! Pray!
2. Grow together. Be willing to learn from each other.
3. Communicate. Don’t let little things turn into big things. Find out how you both communicate best. And Listen!
4. It is not your job to make each other happy. We are in charge of our own happiness. Instead, show each other unconditional love, encouragement, respect, and support.
5. Laugh together. Find the humor in little things. Always be on each other’s side.
6. Be honest—even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear.
7. Admit when you’re wrong. More importantly, tell your spouse when he’s/she’s right (even though it doesn’t happen that he’s right very often…hehe.).
8. Sometimes some things just don’t need to be said.
9. Don’t let solvable problems be the robber of your time, energy, thoughts and joy.
10. Find something you both enjoy doing together. Be willing to try new things together and get involved in each other’s interests. Be silly and have fun together!

Banana Peel CHRISTINE LEEB is The Real Mom–she has a messy kitchen, loses her patience with her kids, hides brownies from her family, and keeps motherhood real through 4Real Moms—an organization encouraging moms to be real while helping them be the best moms God created them to be. She is a speaker, writer, and Christian Life Coach. She is the author of In His Light: Facing Fear with Faith and three ebooks: Best In-Home Date Nights That Don’t Involve the TV, Blessed in the Mess: 10 Ways to Find Balance in Motherhood, and 22 Ways to Love Your Husband Like a Boyfriend Again which has an on-going 14-Day Challenge for wives to take– JOIN NOW. www.4realmoms.com
By | February 26th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|5 Comments

When Bill Met Loretta

It was 1963 and Bill was a Senior at Hub City Bible Insitue in South Dakota. When he met Loretta he knew she was the one. She was a petite blue eyed beauty who had plenty of boys pursuing her, but Bill didn’t let that stop him and he asked her out. Loretta decided to give Bill a chance and their relationship grew and grew. Being at a conservatie Bible school there were very strict guidelines about how much time a couple could spend “courting” and those hours were logged. Bill and Loretta were supposed to limit it to one hour a week, but they couldn’t bear to be apart that often so they decided they would spend their time together studying in the library. It was just the loophole they needed in order to see each other more.

Things began to get serious and it was time for Bill to meet Loretta’s family. Loretta’s family was of German descent and they went to a German church where it was customary at the time for the men to sit on one side and the women on the other. However the service was in German and Bill didn’t speak German. So yet again they found their loophole and they convinced those in charge they needed to sit together so that Loretta could interpret the service for Bill.

At this point they had been together for over a year and they were still spending their days “studying” at the library. The library was a special place for them. It’s where they really got to know each other and Bill cherished the significance of those moments enough that he thought it would be a great place to propose. So one day while they were at the library he asked her to marry him using a game of hangman. Of course she said yes and they began to plan a wedding.

Loretta wanted to make sure the day was perfect. She made her own wedding dress. She had family and friends enlisted to help with all the details. They even hid their car in a grain elevator so no pranksters (like Bill’s brother for example) would try to do anything to it. Then on October 23 , 1964 before their family, friends, and church they became husband and wife.

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They immediately began their ministry together. Everything they did was to build the kingdom and give glory and honor to their savior Jesus Christ. They were married for two years before they had their son Kendall and then a couple years later Jonathan. After 8 years Loretta wanted to try once more for a daughter. She convinced Bill that they were certain to have a baby girl this time. Soon enough they were expecting baby number 3. The nursery was decorated and the hospital bags were packed with all things pink and finally little David was born. That’s right . They had their third son.

It might not have been what they were expecting but God had blessed them with three healthy boys that grew up as strong leaders who serve the Lord. Loretta eventually had three wonderful daughter in laws that she was very close with. She and Bill also had the joy of getting to be grandparents to 11 grandchildren. Sadly, one of their granddaughters was still born and went to be with Jesus at birth. It was difficult for the family to experience this loss, but they clung to each other and to the word of God during this trying time.

Bill’s favorite Bible verse was “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal Isaiah 26:3.

That verse and the supernatural peace of the Holy Spirit is what carried them through many trying times, like when Loretta was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bill had to become her caregiver and it was season of testing, and trusting in God like never before . Everyone was praying diligenty in the midst of this hardship, and miraculously Loretta had an incredible turn around. She felt whole and was able to garden and cook and do all the things she loved doing. Her well being came at the perfect time because unfortunately this season of testing wasn’t quite over yet.

In the summer of 2015 Bill had an aneurism and it was Loretta’s turn to care for Bill. Due to a terrible fall off of a ladder along with his deteriorating health, Bill ended up in a nursing home. They never enjoyed being apart and it felt dark and lonely. Bill  wasn’t supposed to leave the nursing home at all until he was completely approved for discharge, but once again they found a loophole! Loretta convinced the medical team that it would be nice for Bill to step out just briefly since they knew he was on the mend. The staff approved this request and so they snuck off together. Bill took off his neck brace and back brace and those two crazy love birds managed to have a patriotic photo together that day for the church directory.

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Soon after that they were both back home going to church and having meals with family. Loretta was getting to paint the granddaughters nails and share stories with them while Bill was tinkering in the garage with the boys. They had been married for over 50 years and in ministry together that whole time. They were blessed and they knew it. Then when they least expected it Loretta’s health took a turn for the worse, again. Then one morning as Loretta was lying in bed under the careful watch of the hospice nurse, the nurse pulled Bill aside and told him that she thought she had about 30 days to live. Bill told her that he felt like she would be gone by the coming Saturday, 5 days from then. The nurse argued a bit wanting Bill to hang on to all hope, but Bill stood his ground. Then Bill looked her in the eye and said “and I will be going home shortly after”. He shared this with everyone from his son’s foreign exchange student to the pharmacist. He was insistant. The nurse was concerned and warned the family to watch him carefully for possible suicidality following Loretta’s death. Bill’s sons felt that although he implied heaven when he said he was going home, maybe he really just meant his own house. Five days later Loretta passed ways just as Bill had said.

It was a sad day for everyone. Loretta was a light that had impacted so many and now she was gone. The family mourned while at the same time celebrating her homecoming.

Bill went back to working on projects in the garage and spending time with his family. It was his first time alone in 50 years, but the peace of God was with him. Then a month after Loretta’s passing Bill had a sudden stroke that took his life and he too went to be with the Lord. It may have been unexpected to the family, but Bill knew it in his heart and spirit all along.

Bill and Loretta had a commitment to Christ and to each other that is the rarest of treasures. The legacy they leave behind is one that is evident in their families and will trickle down for generations and generations to come.

When Loretta passed away on October 17, 2015 they used that patriotic photo for her obiturary, but Bill was cropped out. When Bill passed away on November 18, 2015 they used that same photo and this time Loretta was cropped out. However, if you look really close in Loretta’s photo you’ll see Bill’s shoulder in the corner and if you look close at Bill’s photo you can spot some of Loretta’s hair. They were in eachothers obiturary photos. Just like they managed to be together in the library, or in the old German church, or the nursing home, they found their loophole.

By | February 25th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|7 Comments

When Amanda Met Les

Today’s post is a real treat as Amanda White shares the story of how she met her husband and embarked on their journey of serving God together. They are just too cute!

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My husband says I picked him up.

I say I’m just friendly.

We both went to a local community college. We had to park in the commuter lot and walk through the woods to get to the first building on campus. We had both been sitting in our respective cars waiting till the next class. I heard the music in his car and was pretty sure it was Jars of Clay. As a Christian music fan of the early 90’s, I could spot Jars a mile away.

Finally, we both got out of our cars and he was walking a few paces ahead of me. That was when I noticed his shirt. It was a concert shirt by the band, Dakoda Motor Company. Now, if you’ve ever heard of this band, it’s because you were in the throes of Christian Music culture like my family and I were. We went to all the festivals, stayed after concerts and collected every CD that the Christian music industry put out there.

Dakoda Motor Company was one of our indie faves!

I ran up to this Christian-music-fan and said, “Hey! Is that a Dakoda Motor Company shirt?” (He says THAT was the pick-up line!) and we started talking. I asked him what his major was. He said, “Religion.” Well, as any good Christian knows, religion is the word Christians use when talking to non-Christians about their major when they are really studying to be pastors or missionaries. Religion is a nice and basic word that won’t require a lot of eye-raising if you’re not a Christian and you run across a guy who wants to be a missionary as a college student.

I knew his game. So, I said, “Oh, yeah? What do you want to do?”

He said, “Be a children’s evangelist.”

Well. That one stopped me cold.

Because that was actually what I wanted to do, too.

My mom had been involved in full-time children’s ministry at our church almost my whole childhood. I was on puppet and drama teams, worked in children’s church every Sunday and really and truly couldn’t think of anything else I could do with my life. The evangelist part of it was just because I thought it would be fun to travel and be on the stage every night.

So, my next sentence probably really was my pick up line: “Me, too.”

I think we basically dated from that second on.

A few days later he called (I think there’s some guy rule about waiting two days before you call a girl.) and we began to meet for lunch at school, did homework together and essentially began planning our lives together. Because how often do you meet a guy who wants to do the same really weird job as you?

It was three years later that we were married. We moved into some government apartments in north Georgia and worked out the outlet malls while we went to a (different) Christian college. We spent our internship in Oklahoma working at one of the country’s premier children’s ministries. We started traveling around with our little truck and trailer to churches doing “kids crusades” with puppets and music and magic tricks and object lessons.

We spent the next seven years being Les-and-Amanda. We traveled all over the country–from Colorado to New York, to Georgia to New Mexico. We lived in five different states, worked at two churches, visited 35 states and half that time didn’t have a home to call our own. We were nomads doing exactly what we said we’d do the first three minutes we met.

When we had our first baby, a little girl named Lydia, our mission was still the same–tell kids about Jesus. But the kids turned to KID and our world revolved around leading this one little girl to Jesus. We ended up moving back home to Atlanta, lived near our parents and volunteered at a local church. Today, we have two kids and my husband doesn’t do puppets or travel as his daily job, but he empowers me to be at home with our kids leading them to Jesus. He owns three businesses, climbs roofs and makes sales so I can write and help parents lead their kids to Jesus. He sings in the elementary department at our church each Sunday–leading kids in worship to Jesus.

It’s weird how our lives move and change. We have the same passion for kids and God. It’s just moved into a different stream. We don’t just hop in our truck and drive to a new state and meet new people anymore. But we still get to work hard together every day–on daily marriage stuff, on raising our kids and preparing for our future as a family and couple.

Sometimes I forget our story. I don’t always like to look back to when I was a teenager and early twenty-something because let’s face it, that’s not the wisest years of your life. But when I do look back, I am amazed at how God’s finger has been writing our story–how God brought us together at that certain time and place, to meet and to connect and to one day form a family for Him.

And clearly, I’m thankful to Dakoda Motor Company for making music and concert tees!

 

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Amanda White is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at ohAmanda.com and is the author of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands and A Sense of the Resurrection an Easter Experience for Families. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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By | February 24th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|5 Comments

When Amanda Met Michael

Today I am kicking off the 2016 How We Met series of love stories with a  guest post from Air Force veteran Amanda Huffman. She will be  telling us the story of how she met her husband in the military.

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Michael and I met for the first time at a football game. We were actually volunteering for the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) we were both a part of to help raise funds for activities throughout the year, but it was for a college football game, we were helping park cars. I was assigned to the Purple lot and he was the leader. It was his first time being a leader of a parking lot and when we were sent to the lot no one really had a clue what was going on. Huffman (my hubby) was receiving instruction from the people coordinating traffic and a group of us stood not knowing what to do. I asked one of the girls do you know his name, she said I think it is Huffman, I yelled “Hey, what are we supposed to do?” He made a hand gesture, which I now know means, I don’t know, just wait. Somehow, we got the point and we waited for further instruction and eventually got to our spots and began parking cars.

A few months went by and our paths crossed again. This time we were on a military base visit (Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas). His friend was my flight commander and so our paths kept crossing and it culminated with a group of 13 wandering from casino to casino down the Las Vegas strip.

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A few months later, I signed up for a trip to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I signed up to go because a guy I liked was going. My future husband was coordinating the trip so when he called to ask what tours I wanted to do I tried to find out what my crush was doing so I talked to him a lot to try and figure out what my crush was doing. The trip ended up being a great experience. Michael and I talked and at the end of the trip he thought I might be the one. I still had no clue.

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A few weeks later we ended up going to see Passion of the Christ with a few other guys and he walked me back to my car and we set up a “date” to help me learn a military maneuver I was struggling with. Driving to our “date” I remember wearing my love potion shirt and being so excited, nervous and confused. I wasn’t even sure I liked this guy and I was finally happy with myself. I had decided over Christmas break I was tired of trying to pretend to be someone so people would like me and just was free to be me. The trip to Lawrence Livermore was in February and we saw the movie in March. Each day our paths would cross, sometimes strategically by me, other times by him. We ended up spending a weekend in mid-March at an Army training that I am unsure how I got signed up to. The one thing I learned was how happy I was to be in the Air Force training program and my feelings for Michael started to grow. We spent all of our downtime together talking and getting to know each other and by the end of the weekend we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.

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I think it is funny that our paths crossed over and over and most of the time it just went unnoticed, but it was meant to be. We finally got the hints we were given and ended up together and then were never apart.
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Michael and I got married March 31, 2007 in his hometown. He was already officially in the Air Force and I was about to graduate college and follow him to New Mexico. I served in the Air Force for six years before separating to stay at home with our now two sons. We have lived in New Mexico, Ohio and now California. We have had so many amazing adventures together and life is so much more than I ever expected.

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Amanda Huffman blogs at Airman2Mom www.airmantomom.com with stories incorporating life experience from motherhood and daily life while occasionally throwing in memories from her Afghanistan deployment. Her blog is a source or encouragement and inspiration to others on their own life journey . You can follow Amanda by liking Airman to mom on Facebook page, or following her twitter.

 

Thank you for sharing your story Amanda and more importantly, thank you to you and your husband Michael for serving our country.

 

By | February 22nd, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|9 Comments

How We Met 2

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I am pretty excited, okay EXTREMELY excited about the 2nd annual installment of “How We Met”- a series of love stories. I’ll be kicking it off on Monday, but before that I wanted to take a look back at last year’s couples and give an update of what’s gone on since this time last year. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a B and ends with abies!

Karin and Cameron (the couple that were found to be compatible in a Lifespan development class)12565401_10153815637325930_1320024551978135448_n are expecting their first baby! They are having a girl and she is due in a couple weeks. Congratulations to them. I can’t wait to get the text when that sweet little bundle arrives!

Kailei and Brad (the couple that met in preschool) had a baby last March. Kailei emailed me recently and says “She has made our life even sweeter and we have loved every minute of being parents!” Congratulations to them too. She’s beautiful.

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Andrea and Mike (the couple who met at the gym) ALSO had a baby! Solomon James was born November 3rd. He is their 8th boy in a row which the Doctor said is extremely rare. He sure is a precious little bird.

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Nancy and Richard (the couple who met in the school parking lot) have a new grand baby! It’s my sweet Elle.
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She is the 7th grandchild and my sister in law is due any day now. That will make 8 grandkids in 8 years for the Weavers.

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The next baby is a boy so it will be 4 and 4!

Anyway, I couldn’t help but share the baby news I have from these lovely Messy Mom contributors. Be sure to come back on Monday when “How We Met” returns.

By | February 19th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|3 Comments

Acknowledging the Self Control Crisis

I recently did a book review of Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson. I mentioned the idea presented in the book to choose two character traits that you would want to be the main focus in your home.

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J and I chose Self-Controlled and Compassionate as our two character traits. J was the one to choose self-control and I went along with it because we are in this together. I have to be honest though, I really struggled with the idea of self-control as one of our main family goals. That did not sound like fun to me. It didn’t even sound biblical. Yes I do realize self-control is a fruit of the spirit, but subconsciously I hear the word “self” and I think “selfish” then add the word control and I think “controlling”. There is nothing I dislike more than a selfish controlling person. All we need is love right?

You guys must think I am crazy. The rest of you are probably obsessed with self-control and have it mastered.

So to avoid resentment about the very thing I am supposed to be imparting to my children I did a little research.

Scripture and truth about self-control began to resonate with me. It’s not glamorous. You won’t hear of people being honored at their funerals for how much self-control they had.

It’s a big deal though. It’s in the Bible for a reason and I am 100% on board with making it a priority in our home.

Obviously self-control that is contrived by legalism will only leave you feeling like a failure. On our own there is no way we can have a healthy balanced sense of self-discipline. Biblical self-control however is critical. It means having a backbone in the face of temptation and denying one’s flesh. It’s doing the exact opposite of what our culture says to do (which would only leave us hopeless in the end). The lust of the flesh is an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure as C.S. Lewis puts it.

Proverbs 25:28 says a man without self-control is like a city broken and left without walls. I have seen the affects of this. I’ve watched powerful ministries ripped to shreds due to a lack of self-control. It can cost you everything. You can have so much success that you are standing among the stars, but without following God’s command for self control the enemy has the perfect opportunity to kick the ladder right out from under you. Having self-control actually amplifies and supports the other spiritual fruits. It allows you to have integrity as you serve and move in the gifts of the spirit. I definitely want that for my children.

So when it comes to self-control as a core value in our home I’m still not like Ohhh yay! I love self-control. I know my kid’s will too. Now let’s practice by setting a jar of forbidden candy on the coffee table. Woo hoo!

What I do know though is that the media is screaming indulgence! Our society reeks of entitlement. We are a nation of instant gratification who would rather point fingers than take responsibility for anything. We have a self-control deficiency!

Enough is enough. It’s going to take an intentional effort on my part to teach my children the truth. God has given us instructions, a path, and a plan. The Holy Spirit guides us and has given us the reins of self-control. I want myself and my family to grab ahold of those reins.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

-1 Corinthians 9:26

 

 

By | February 2nd, 2016|My Life, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Hanging My Hat

I took this week off from blogging. Not because I didn’t feel like writing (because I really have). I just needed to focus on Elle this week. We had 4 different appointments so it’s been intense.

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After waiting a month for these evaluations, and really hoping for some concrete answers, we walked away with more questions. It wasn’t bad news. It was just conflicting. I feel like my hands are tied right now and I have prayed Lord is this just a season of waiting? Is there anything I can do to help my daughter? and I felt in my heart the word that was given to me at the beginning of the year. Next. And I was reminded to do the next right thing.

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So I called our current audiologist and asked if I could just come meet her in person and she graciously agreed. She allowed me to stop by right then! How amazing is that? We sat down and talked. She answered my questions. We came up with a plan. I needed a plan guys. I am a planner. I was willing to not have one if it was the right thing, but this was an answer to prayer for me.

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The plan right now is to hold off on hearing aids. With her head still being wobbly and her still sleeping so much, the hearing aid would be more of a nuisance than it would be beneficial. Once she is upright and on the move then we will do a hearing aid in the left ear.

Granted all of this could change. There is so much up in the air right now. I feel like my entire head is up in the air. My mom likes to use the idiom “where do you hang your hat?” and that is it. I needed to hang my hat on something! Another month of waiting for the next ENT visit, ABR, or genetic testing results would just make me go crazy. I can’t hold onto this hat. I need to hang it and so for now I know that is no hearing aids, I will continue with early intervention therapy, and continue monitoring for fluid and hearing tests. Even if it changes, I’m going to be okay, but for now that’s the plan . That’s the next right thing.

Thank you for all of the prayers. I know that they have made an impact.

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By | January 30th, 2016|Special Needs, Uncategorized|5 Comments

Strong and Kind

I decided that instead of a brief synopsis at the end of the year of all of the books that I remember reading, I would do a review (or at least share some thoughts) of the books as I read them one at a time.

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I just finished Strong and Kind: and Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed by Korie Robertson.

I feel guilty because I kind of gave the book a bad wrap when I shared on Facebook last week. I said I was anxious to move on to another book and admitted to falling asleep reading it. It’s not my all time favorite parenting book and I’ll admit, not being a Duck Dynasty fan probably takes away a lot of the appeal. However, I did glean some valuable wisdom from Strong and Kind and I am really glad I read it.

The title Strong and Kind are the two main character traits that the Korie and Willie Robertson wanted to instill in their kids as they were raising them. Toward the beginning of the book there is a list of character traits to pull from.

The idea is to choose your top two from the list and be intentional about teaching these habits to your children as well as exhibiting them yourself. Of course it’s hard to choose just two. We want all of them. Korie even mentions that in the book. You should want all of them and strive for all of them. But by choosing two above the rest you can really focus and have a better chance of actually following through because you are making it a priority.

Here is the list and I don’t remember if you are “supposed to” add your own, but I don’t see why not.

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I sent this list to J and it took him days to decide. I was more inclined to choose the first two that popped out to me. I’m not too surprised. That really is typical of our personalities. He chose words of power and determination, while mine were more about the heart and emotions. Again, I am not surprised. We’re opposites (remember my Ricky and Lucy comparison?).  I like to think that we balance each other out. So we settled on one of his words and one of mine. That is how we came up with Self-Control and Compassion. I bet you can guess who chose what.

I’ve been thinking and studying what these words really mean and what the Bible has to say about them. It’s been a very positive experience and I plan to share more soon.

What two words do you think you would choose for you family? I know it’s hard, but even thinking about it is a good exercise every parent should consider. So despite my skepticism in the end I did like Strong and Kind and if you like the Duck Dynasty clan then I would definitely recommend it.

By | January 21st, 2016|Parenting Tips|2 Comments

NEXT

I wasn’t going to do a word for the year this year, but then God just sort of dropped this in my lap and was like Yes you are.

The first way the word “Next” came to me was because I was wondering what this next chapter of our story would be. We have overcome many of the major life hurdles that we have encountered over the past 4 years. We found a house to rent. We had our 4th and final child. My husband completed school and got a job that is an actual career. I feel like we are entering a new season of life and are ready for the NEXT chapter.

Then the word came to me again in something that my Children’s pastor (from way back when) wrote in a comment that she left when I shared my birth story. She said how proud she was of my “determination to just do the next right thing”.

Just do the next right thing.

I had never heard of this quote before, but I have been mentally chewing on it ever since. It fits the scenario of my birth story so well because I had to focus on each thing, step by step. The baby was going to come so I acted on it. After that her head was out and I knew I needed to do one more push and get her body out. After that I knew I needed to wrap her up. After that put her on my chest. After that call the hospital and so on.

There was no planning it out. I was just doing the next right thing. It’s all I could do.

Since then baby Elle has been diagnosed with hearing loss and there is so much that we don’t know. Will she loose all her hearing? Will she have hearing aids? Will she need therapy? For how long? I can’t see the whole picture at all. No one can. It drives me crazy. What I can do is rely on God and just do the next right thing. So there is that word again. NEXT.

Lastly, I feel like the Lord has also prompted me to get help from those NEXT to me. When SJ was diagnosed we had just moved. All of my friends were far away in another state and it was tough. Here we are nearly four years later and I still have friends far away, but I have so many friends that are close by too. All of these women have been texting me, praying for me, and encouraging me. I need that more than anything! I need those neighbors, partners, allies to come along side me and walk NEXT to me as I go through this uncharted territory. 

The next season of life. The next right thing. The people next to me.

NEXT.

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I can’t wait to see what happensas I continue to unwrap the word and all that it holds for 2016.

By | January 4th, 2016|My Life, Pregnancy & Birth, Uncategorized|9 Comments

This Time is Different

I sat in the exam room with a  tightness in my throat. I had felt fine, but as the reality of it all sank in the emotions rose up. I began to cry hot tears. I felt the need to apologize because I don’t like making other people feel uncomfortable. The audiologist responded in a firm voice ” Do not apologize.” She told me that I was completely entilted to respond any way I wanted and that just because I have been there before that does not make it any easier.

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This was what happened a week and a half ago at Elle’s ABR hearing screening. As you can imagine this means that the results were not good. I thought Elle could hear, and I was right. She can hear. She responds to many different sounds, but she still has hearing loss and it’s in both ears. I wasn’t going to talk about it until I knew more, but I am ready to talk about it now. Especially since I just got off the phone with the early intervention specialists who are ready to come over and set up her first IFSP. SJ has an IEP which is an Individualized Education Program because she is in school. Before that you have an Individual Family Service Plan which is when case worker helps you come up with appropriate strategies or goals for your preschool age child with special needs.

So just like that Elle has Special Needs. She is 6 weeks old and already considered delayed because she can’t hear well. I am being blunt, but don’t worry. I am not concerned for her. I think labels are silly. I remember when I was being interviewed for a research study and I was asked how I felt about my daughter’s “exceptionality” and I said “Excuse me? Her what?”. “Exceptionality” she repeated. That’s what they are calling it now. I laughed at such a desperate attempt to not offend. I am comfortable with hearing loss, deafness, disability, exceptionality whatever you want to call it. It does however mean our calendar, our budget, and even major life decisions like where to live will look different over the next few years because of this.

Hearing that my daughter has hearing loss is so different this time. I continue to process a  myriad of emotions. On the one hand Elle’s hearing loss is mild. It’s complicated and I won’t go into all the details, but that’s good news. SJ’s hearing loss was profound. At least by the time we found out it was. When Elle had her appointment J explained that we speculate SJ had previously had more hearing, but then lost it over time. He asked if that could happen with Elle. The audiologist said it certainly could. That’s a hard fact to swallow. I don’t know if I should assume the worst and hope for the best? I have a lot of questions for her ENT.

On that note, the fact that we already have an ENT, an audiologist, a school, and a support group in place is awesome! With SJ I was given a stack of books for parents of deaf children and I felt completely overwhelmed. This time is different. I have a newborn instead of a toddler. I live in Ohio rather than Kentucky. I will be dealing with hearing aids rather than cochlear implants (at least for now). I feel fairly equipped, but also uncertain.

I have so many questions and other concerns, but I will have to wait another month to even talk to certain specialists. The day of Elle’s hearing test was the first day of Christmas break for the kids and we went right into all of the Holiday gatherings. First was celebration with my family followed by a week of festivities with my in laws. That was actually good timing though because I had no obligations and have been pretty much distracted by Christmasy things. However now we prepare for evaluations, testing, hearing aids, and therapies. It’s really happening. I am doing okay, but I am also a bit of a basket case from time to time. Elle on the other hand is doing great. She is such a precious treasure and we all adore her.

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I know many of my family and friends are going to be finding out about this for the first time. I didn’t know the best way to deliver this announcement. It’s not dreadful news like a terminal illness or something, but it’s not like announcing a pregnancy either.

I hope you’ll bear with me as I navigate this new journey because it might look similar, but this time is different.

By | December 28th, 2015|Babies, Hearing Loss, My Life, Special Needs|25 Comments