Category Archives: Life

Trimming back and a little hi note!

Hey friends!

Two weeks, no see.

Isn’t it amazing how fast time can fly? I felt like I was chugging right along in a good life rhythm, plugging out a couple blogs a week and keeping the rest in balance and then BOOM! All of the sudden two weeks were gone and I was stretched too thin to think or write or breathe deeply.

Not. Good.

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So, in addition to the simple living quest I’ve been writing about…I’m going to be letting go of a few things in effort to further this simplification thing. **This is not easy for me.** I hate cutting back, but I think it will help bring things back into balance so I can write more and sing more and take more deep breaths.

I’m a big fan of all three of those things.  🙂

In other news, what do you think about the new website/blog makeover?! Props to Lauren Brown, my web designer. Personally, I could cry with excitement (and maybe already have.) I’m feelin the pink and turquoise vibe.

Just a quick note to say hey! I haven’t forgotten about you! I am so grateful for each and every one of you readers and I hope to see much more of you in the coming months.

If you’d like to submit a God at Work Wednesday story, message me through the website with a little snipit of who you are and what you’d like to write about!

In the hope that goes on and on and on,

Liv

PS. Happy birthday to my sexier half!! (Am I allowed to say that?! Maybe that’s a little weird.) Happy Birthday to my more compassionate, patient, level-headed and freaking amazing half. Love you bae!

PS2. THANK YOU JESUS FOR LONG TANDEM NAPS.

PS3. Apple pie=baked. Kitchen=sparkely. Bam.

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Simple Living 101

Simple living in a nutshell is living with less. Pardon the French…but it’s something like this…

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It’s living a life consistent with this quote:

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I don’t like sharing belly pics for reasons obvious to those going through infertility or loss…also because I’m kinda insecure about my 36 week belly/arms/face/etc but I’m choosing to share this one today because I believe this quote to be so good & so true. Props to Stephanie Michelle Photography for the photo. In the midst of the fear I faced throughout the pregnancy, I’m so glad we stopped to take a few pics.

I’ve always been fascinated with the Amish way of life. I’m fascinated by people who practice “sustainable living”…growing their own vegetables & bartering & leaving teensy carbon footprints. I’m fascinated with the tiny house movement (which we will not be participating in 😉

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Is gardening in my future?? Do I have a green thumb? I’ll let you decide that on your own based on this little story:

Multiple tragic times I’ve been given a potted plant as a gift. My heart sinks when I see the green thing enter my house. Said gift givers see my agony and then smile as they give the same disclaimer I’ve heard so many times, “Don’t worry! This plant “_____insert name I’ll never remember” is super easy to take care of! You couldn’t kill it if you tried.”

Not. True, my friend. I can kill it. Needless to say, I won’t be starting a garden. At least not right now when we have two under three…or ever. Yeah probably never.

But there are about 5 thousand other ways I can simplify, and I’m so intrigued and drawn in…like Marlin and Dory to the “Angler fish.”

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live simply

Thankfully, Kevin is excited about it too. You guys…our house is too big!

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 11.26.25 AM When we bought it two years ago we thought “The bigger the better! We’ll grow into it and have five kids and use every square inch.” But the truth is…we don’t use it or need it right now, so we want to move on! 

Albeit, this isn’t the best sales pitch for our beautiful house…but its undeniable. Want to sell. We want to simplify…and we are doing a happy dance over here about it!

It’s time to give our stuff away. It’s time to downsize. (We’re not like, turning Amish, but moving more toward that end of the spectrum than we are now). I think it’ll be hard at times and I have noooooo idea what it’ll look like, but it definitely means using our time, space and money more efficiently.

Is anyone else drawn to that?! I was afraid at first but now I’m excited, especially cuz it’s oober trendy right now, so there are lots of good resources out there!

These are some of the blogs I like a lot and will be having coffee with in the near future:

Be More With Less

Miss Minimalist

The Simple Year

Slow Your Home

Stay tuned as I keep you updated on our simple living journey. Maybe it’ll inspire you to declutter your life as I declutter mine. It’s gonna feel so good!!

 

Raise your mug this morning (or afternoon) to simple living!

 

 

God at Work Wednesday: Heather’s Story

I have this friend named Heather who is amazing at being transparent and REAL. Friends like that are such a treasure…and today you get to meet her! HAPPY DAY!

Get those tissues ready because this story is likely to move you. God’s love is moving like that. Oh, and what’s awesome is that she doesn’t omit the bad or ugly parts and just give you the good. God’s power shows up best in our weakness….so without further adiu, meet Heather.

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“I’ve never been the prettiest, the most athletic or the most popular. I was smart and kind, but floated between groups of friends fighting to find my place in the world. I grew up in the church, knowing right from wrong and believing that sinning would send me to Hell. I served on every church retreat and spent much of my time in church or with church friends. I was the epitome of “a good kid”.

And then it happened….

I went to college. There, I went from a young, naïve, church-going 18 year old, to a raging alcoholic within days. That’s what “cool” kids did. Or so I thought. I very quickly fell into an addiction that began to consume my life. I found myself measuring my worth in how many parties I was invited to and how my guys were paying attention to me. I hated who I was and the life I was living but I felt trapped. I wanted to be liked and I wanted to be loved.

My first semester in college I found myself in a relationship with a man that would later prove to be extremely toxic. He avoided my calls, blatantly cheated on me and made sure I knew I was at his beck and call. I felt worthless, like God was punishing me for the decisions I had made. I began to believe the lies of the Evil One that a relationship like that was all I was worthy of, that I could never have more. However, deep in my soul, I knew that I wanted more, I craved more and yet I was digging a hole deeper and deeper, falling captive to the overwhelming grips of depression.

For three years I lived in this hell, a vicious cycle revolving around drinking and trying get a man to love me, instead he cheated on me every chance he got. I vividly remember sitting in my room crying, writing a list of what I wanted my future husband to look like. It included traits like: Godly, kind, loyal, honest, and trustworthy. I sobbed reading the words in my handwriting knowing that this man I was trying so hard to impress didn’t possess any of the qualities I wanted in a husband and also feeling unworthy that I deserved someone who did.

During college I also worked at a local gym and every time I went go to work I would see this man working out. He was quiet, kind and focused. I didn’t know his name or anything about him, but my heart would beat a little faster every time he walked by. I would joke with my co-workers that if I could marry anyone, I would marry him. One day I made this comment to an aerobics instructor I had befriended, when she responded “That’s my son”. I was embarrassed but it didn’t matter, I was still in a “relationship” and why would a guy like that ever look twice at a girl like me.

In early August, right before my senior year of college, my “boyfriend” broke up with me for what seemed like the 100th wants someone who is broken. But the amazing thing about God is that He fixes broken and makes it new again.

That same week, the man from the gym that I had a crush on for over 3 years asked me on a date. We went out and God forever changed the course of my life.

Through Josh, God began to provide hope again. God quietly spoke, “you are worthy”, and I begin to listen. But the voice of the Evil One loudly returned often in the beginning…”he will leave you too”, “you aren’t good enough”, “you’ll never be pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough”. But Josh would remind me again and again that
those were lies and God’s voice began to get louder.

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I started to feel God’s encouragement and Josh continued to challenge me in my faith. For one of the first times in a long time I felt loved, love from a  man who showed unconditional support and an even greater love. His love mirrored the love of the Father God who had loved me unconditionally from the very beginning.

Josh possessed every quality on the list I had written so many years before. He was the man I had prayed for night after night through tears and desperation and God had answered my prayers in HIS perfect timing.

I wish I could say that once I met Josh that life was easy sailing, but that would be a lie. It wasn’t easy because we are two imperfect humans, so no relationship will ever be without trial. For a long time despite his love and kindness towards me, I constantly worried he would leave me, the Evil One would quietly creep back in. I tried to not let him be close enough to hurt me. I yelled, slammed doors and threatened to give back my ring more than once. I was afraid, guarded and still hated so much of who I was in the past.

I didn’t know how to love or truly be loved. I am so thankful for Josh’s persistence and faith. He wiped my tears when I cried and hugged me when I tried to run away.

As amazing as he is, I serve a God who is even greater, a God that has also been there waiting for me to return to him, crying for me and feeling every hurt that has come my way.

Through a church home, bible studies and many marriage mentors in our lives, God radically changed me and revealed some major truths to me:

1. I am worthy and deserving of being loved because God first loved me
2. God forgives and taught me to forgive myself
3. God can make all things new and beautiful
4. God loves me more than anything and mourns for me
5. God knows and understands what it means to suffer and persevere
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This October, Josh and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. It has been an amazing ride and I am so thankful he has stuck by my side all these years. I can honestly say we are experiencing the best years of our marriage thanks to God’s redeeming love and the commitment we have for each other.

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My journey has not always been easy or glorious, but I know now that God has written my story so that it may bring someone else hope or healing in the midst of despair.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 7.26.21 AMPraise God. And you guys didn’t even get to hear how her kids are miracles yet either…I feel a part 2 coming your way at some point.

Who is someone who has shown you unconditional love? Has it changed you?

God at Work Wednesday: Kevin’s Story

Today you get the pleasure of reading Kevin’s story and (like ALL stories that God is writing,) it’s a goodie 😉 You’ll prob get a good glimpse into how he stole my heart almost 10 years ago.

You guys—I’m giddy excited to introduce you to my beloved. He’s THE ONE I vowed six years ago to spend the rest of my life with until my dying day, come hell or high water.

I could go on and on for hours and days about how much I love him and why…but today I’ll let him do the talking.

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“When Liv and I got married I said to her in my vows that when God saved me he saved my future marriage along with my soul. Before Jesus, I knew there was no chance of me staying satisfied in any one relationship.OliviaKevin-488

I grew up in a very unchurched environment. Church seemed boring and irrelevant,but I would have told you I was a Christian if you asked. Why? Because I believed in God…duh. That all changed my Freshman year of high school, but before I go there I’ll give you a bit of back story.

My parents got a divorce when I was 5 years old. I had no idea the impact that would have on my life. I love my family. I wouldn’t change a thing – but the impacts of a broken home are dramatic.

I grew up idolizing my brother and all I cared about in life was impressing him and his friends. The only things they cared about, at least as far as my young mind could see, were sports and girls…so I threw all of my energy into those two things. I thought the better I could be at sports and the hotter the girl I could pull in, the more approval I would get from the people I respected most. Underneath it all I now realize I was struggling to find my identity. I was insecure. I was doing anything to feel that love and acceptance.

By 7th grade I grew into this young hot shot that every father wanted to keep his daughter away from. I had done way too much way too soon sexually. I thought winning a girl’s heart made me a man. I thought the further I could get a girl to “go” with me meant I was winning. In reality, I had this gaping hole in my soul that would only take and never be satisfied…until Jesus filled it.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

That’s Jesus talking. I was drinking from the things that would only make me thirst more. It was like I was lost at sea, drinking salt water, only to leave me unsatisfied and eventually leading to death. But God rescued me. He wooed me to himself. The circumstances are undeniable. It was a perfect storm for my salvation.

My Freshman year of high school I met Josiah and Austin – 2 Christian dudes. We bonded over Boyz 2 Men and Michael Jackson during basketball season (so cool). Josiah’s dad started a church that next summer. My girlfriend made me go to Young Life. It was all working together to get me to Young Life Camp…I reluctantly went.

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For the first time in my life I heard the Gospel in all its simplicity and all its power. It hit home in a new way. I knew I was dirty. I knew I was broken. I knew I needed to be right with God. What did that mean? I never realized that being a Christian meant more than believing in God. There’s a way that this actually works and I was completely uneducated. The bad news was that I was on a path to a perpetual state of unrest and dissatisfaction. Continue the way I was going and I would continue having to constantly prove myself. I would continue believing the mirage that the next achievement would satisfy me. Not to mention, death and hell at the end of this human existence. It was a bleak future to say the least.

The good news…the Gospel…is that Jesus calls me his own through a relationship with him. Not because I earned it, but because he earned it on the cross. He gives me an identity as God’s adopted son (don’t even get me started on that one) and he calls me loved and accepted and forgiven. He paid off the debt that I owed to a righteous and just God. He took the punishment that I deserved. He accomplished it all.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Living a life to impress everyone else is exhausting. In Christ there is a peace that simply doesn’t make sense and a joy that is overwhelming. My identity is not found in the financial planning, the achievements, the vacations, the THINGS of this world, not even my family – they are found in the one who satisfies and gives rest. The one who brings life.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

In an achievement driven world what are you finding your satisfaction in? Will it last?”

IMG_2054(Must have more where those wedding pics came from? lol… Click here for a little video montage from our wedding day.)

The bebe switch

There it is. Sitting right beside you…invisible to most, but not to you. It’s the SWITCH. The BABY SWITCH.

Look closely and you’ll see that it’s one of those fancy schmancy dimming switches. At the bottom, you find the setting “NO THANKS!” and the top basically screams “I. NEED. BABY.”

Since a lot of our friends are married and are having kids, we find ourselves in a discussion about future children quite often. We ask each other things like, “How many kids do you think you want?” and “Are you ready for another?” If you are married and you don’t want to be asked questions like that, don’t hang out with people. The questions always come. {If your marriage is in a tough spot or you’re going through infertility/loss…or just if you don’t like people all up in your grill, “the questions” are agonizing, amen?}

What was surreal for me was after three LONG years of my switch being agonizingly crammed into the top of the switch socket, basically begging for multiples…I found myself in the blessed lower register.

It all started in April 2013 when Annabelle popped out and life took an instant turn for chaos.  We adopted Coleton at birth and he was almost 14 months old, but all through his infancy we wanted more kids! Coleton was chill, easy (back then), and our philosophy had always been “the more the merrier!” But there in that delivery room with beautiful little Annabelle sitting (screaming) on my lap and shock waves of pain still reverberating through my…you know…it was like my subconscious reached over and slammed that blessed switch down into the “aaaand I’m good” slot.

I thought for sure in a few months all would settle, I would somehow heal up from the agonizing pain of childbirth and be ready to try for another baby, especially because we had so much trouble prior to Annabelle. But she was a fussy baby, so we chilled out. We waited. Aaaand waited, and waited…and waited.

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READ ME: That urge was NO WHERE to be found. Bless that switch. It stayed in the “I’m good” spot for what felt like forever. I was nursing and mommying and reading books about discipline (AKA freaking out about my parental insecurities) and was literally in shock at my “I’m SO STINKING GOOD” mentality. In fact, I was so positive I wasn’t ready (or if I would ever be ready again) for another child, I basically all-but wore a chastity belt when I was anywhere near ovulation (sorry, babe!) Where was that Mrs. Duggar spirit that used to live so strongly in me?!?!

I guess it didn’t matter where it was, because the desire just wasn’t there! I felt so NORMAL again!

You guys, it felt SO SO SO SO SO SO good to have that switch be off for awhile. I can’t even tell you how many years I have spent wanting babies. My desire to be a mom started  looooong before Kev put a ring on it, so after two years of being married but waiting plus three more years filled with miscarriage and heartbreak…I was grateful to feel like this was plenty. My heart and arms were so full I didn’t even want to think about peeing on sticks. (Hooray!!!)

And then, it happened. About five gosh darn days ago, I have no idea what happened but I could feel that switch creeping up. And I slammed that baby down. (Not our real baby, I’m talking about the switch.) “NO! We’re good! These kids aren’t even in preschool yet. They don’t understand what “OBEY MOMMY!” means! They still speak in a 90% noun-only vocabulary. It’s not time! No thanks,” I said, confident that my inner-self would chill out in a few days.

But the next day…like it had a mind of its own…my switch slid a little further away from the bottom again. Was it that beautiful, angelic newborn I cooed over at the farmers market? That sweet baby who giggled at me last week? The adorable mommy with the Ergo who peacefully shopped as her baby nuzzled into her chest? That 24th friend making her pregnancy announcement this month? The friend who is so chill and excited about her twins on the way, even with two littles at home? Maybe it’s that C and AB are increasingly fun and cute as the days pass.

Maybe it's me looking back at these pictures as I write this blog (making my ovaries hurt...)
Maybe it’s me looking back at these pictures as I write this blog (making my ovaries hurt…)

I’m sure it’s a combination of many things…now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not in the top of the switch range yet (“I NEED A BABY NOW”)—In fact, not even close. But for the first time in sixteen months, the thought of a third child in our tribe no longer sends me running for the guest bedroom. It intrigues me… slightly terrifies me…and excites me. I’m an adventurer and a free spirit after all. Maybe things have “settled” a little and my daring side is feeling neglected.

Has anyone else ever experienced your baby switch changing overnight?! I’m dealing with a little whiplash since I didn’t see it coming…but it’s all good.

Now, don’t hold your breath for a pregnancy announcement…for reals…it’s probably still a wayyyys away. In fact, it may never come. We always remind ourselves that if C and AB are the only kids we have forever and ever, we will be a million times grateful. It was no walk in the park getting to this point, and they’re beautiful and healthy and ENOUGH!

But instead of clinging so tightly to control, I’m believing that God has a sweet plan,  and I’m just along for the ride.

Parting thoughts: I like my baby switch positioned at the bottom…at the “no, thanks….I’m good” spot. Blessed are you guys who hang out down there, for real. You don’t know how good you have it! (or maybe you do) But the middle isn’t so bad either, and that’s where I am today.

Contentment is a beautiful thing.

Where’s yo baby switch sitting?

God at Work Wednesday: Aubrey’s Story

So pumped today for you to meet my friend Aubs. She was my roomie for 2 years of college and my faithful marathon buddy. We have been through a ton together, and today she is sharing part of her story.

Aubrey is a 26 year old PhD student studying Old Testament Lit at Emery and is probably smarter than 95% of us will ever be in our whole lifetimes ;o) She is married to a wonderful man named Jeff who is from Australia and still has a sweet accent, and they currently reside in Atlanta with their two Papillion puppies, Grace and Ransom. (Okay, how adorable is she?!)

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“When I was a sophomore in college, I knew that I wanted to be a singer. I loved music, I was majoring in voice performance at Wheaton College, and I just knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Of course, I was going to succeed in voice “all for the glory of God.” Its funny how much more glory God can get in our absolute FAILURE.

While I was planning and practicing for my sophomore recital (my first big college recital!), I started to lose my voice all the time. I developed a chronic sore throat and instead of getting better, I grew gradually worse and worse. I was so discouraged, and, frankly, embarrassed. I thought being a singer was who I was. But I was failing dismally. My voice teacher tried putting me on vocal rest, “How much are you talking?!” He couldn’t believe how much I would have had to be talking to go from voice major to chain smoker in the course of a short lesson! At the breaking point of frustration that had grown over the year (and after I assured him that I wasn’t that popular ), he referred me to a voice specialist.

The voice specialist informed me that I had a tumor, fortunately benign, on my vocal cords. I would have to have surgery to remove it at the end of the semester, and until then, no more singing. Afterwards I would have to build up from there and just see how it went. My dream of excellence in singing was, very clearly, over.

What do you do when you have reached a limit like this? I couldn’t work harder, invest more effort or time to “push through” this. I was, simply, an artist without an art.

It turns out that that limit was the only way that I could have been halted in my tracks, realize the weakness of being human, and turn around to face God. It was such a small trial, but it taught me that freedom can be found in something so important being taken away, even if at the time I felt like I had failed. I realized that was not the end…so what next?

I found myself with lots of time on my hands. That’s what you get when you’re a voice major without a voice! I turned to the book of Ecclesiastes” ‘What gain does humanity get from all their toil under the sun?” the speaker in the book asks, “who knows what is good for a person?”

In that period where my speech was limited I set out to find the answer to Ecclesiastes’ question. It was that first question that set me on the path to where I am today, still a full-time student of the Bible! And still a full-time student of the lessons that God so graciously taught me as an over-confident college student.

1) We are limited as human beings. Our bodies can fail us, our circumstances can get out of our control. We can put in all that effort to “be all that I can be,” and still be, as Paul says in Romans, “subjected to futility” along with creation (Romans 8:20) BUT

2) Our belief is in one who, though he had no limits, took on all of our limits, in order that we could be redeemed in our failure as much as in our success. This is our mystery, where we are now free to encounter our limits as temporary, we are free to struggle against them in the belief that even the “no’s” are redemptive.

It took my struggle with the small limit of losing my voice for me to be forced to grapple with the nature of a God who embraced all our human limits, even the greatest one, of death. Somehow it was on the other side of that experience where I found a kind of freedom to love my work without a crippling fear of failure. It is a joy, of course, to succeed, but not a need.

So now, maybe we can be free to fail, free to realize our limits, free to realize the weakness of our bodies and our minds, and instead of thinking we have to be excellent for Christ, realize that our failures can be testimonies to his excellence.”

What struggles have you encountered that made your frail humanity very apparent? Did the struggle bring you to your knees?  Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 6.48.56 AM

God at Work Wednesday: Cindy’s Story

Every Wednesday I’m going to be highlighting a story of God moving in the life of someone I know. I think testimonies are the most powerful way to share our faith and change the world. So without further adieu, meet Cindy. Cindy babysat for me when I was a little girl and through Facebook we have recently reconnected.

“I needed someone to rescue me.

It started in my early teenage years … feeling the need to be perfect to fit in…the intense desire to be loved and accepted. I was trying to please everybody else, which made me feel so out of control of my own life. The one thing I could control was my food intake and my exercise.

What started out as a simple attempt to become “healthy” quickly became much more than that and spiraled out of control. I shut out my family and friends. I turned away from everyone that I needed … including God. I felt hopeless. I felt alone. But that did not matter to me at the time because the numbers on the scale were going down…. and down …and down.

I kept aiming for a smaller number each time I reached my “goal”. It was funny … not ha ha funny, but weird funny. I thought when I got to a smaller number, I would be happy and perfect; however, it never happened. The lower the number got, the more unhappy I became.

When I was 16, I was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for weeks at a time. My eating disorder got worse after each treatment attempt. I was not ready to let go. My family and friends felt helpless. They saw me slowing killing myself, but they could not stop it.

When I was 18, my doctor gave me two weeks to live. I had starved myself down to 79 pounds. My parents had contacted every treatment center they could find, but I was 18 … I was able to refuse treatment. Remuda Ranch, a treatment center in Arizona, had called to do a phone interview with me. They only take patients who are willing to try to get better. I refused their phone call; therefore, they would not accept me. My parents were devastated.

My parents were taking turns staying home with me because I was so sick. I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. It was a day that my dad was home with me. It was a few days after I had refused Remudaʼs phone call. My dad was crying out to God, praying for a miracle. Within minutes after he finished his prayer, the phone rang. It was Remuda Ranch conducting a follow up call. My father walked down the hall to my bedroom with the phone in his hand, knocked on my door, and told me who was on the phone. By the grace of God, I said I would take the call.

Why they called again? I have no idea. I believe that was the divine intervention of a God who longed to rescue me from myself.

Less than a week later, frail–broken-and-on-the-brink-of-death-little-me flew to Arizona. I had so many emotions…fear, sadness, anger, confusion, and in a strange way, relief.

My rescuer was already working behind the scenes, softening my hard and anxious heart. It was there at Remuda Ranch at the broken age of 18 that I (with a lot of hesitation) decided to let go and let God. He intervened and rescued me from the eating disorder (ED) that was draining me of joy, freedom, and life itself. There the Lord met me in my brokenness, took my hand and started walking with me on a journey to healing.

 

This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program).  The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube.  I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition.  My body could not handle solid food at that point.  Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.
This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program). The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube. I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition. My body could not handle solid food at that point. Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.

I never knew what a long (so very long), hard (so very hard) journey it would be. There were so many ups and downs (and I am not just talking about the scale going up and down). I am talking about mental and physical obstacles I had to overcome. I had to rebuild trust with God, my family and my friends. I had to rebuild trust with my very own body.

Remuda Ranch
This was also taken at Remuda Ranch, about 4 weeks into the treatment program. I was there for 60 days.

Fast forward nine years. God provided an amazing man who asked me to be his wife, and he has been such a gift to me. A couple years after that we decided we wanted to start a family.

When I was in the midst of the eating disorder behaviors, I didn’t know (or maybe I knew but didn’t care) what kind of damage I was doing to my body.  When I went to my doctor (the doctor that took care of me all through my eating disorder) to happily tell her we were ready to start trying to get pregnant, it hit. me. so. hard.

Because of the trauma you put your body through for years and years, you might not be able to conceive or carry children” she said.

I was devastated.

The consequences of my decisions as a young girl had such a massive ripple effect. I was terrified and angry, but again, in my despair God had a plan. I had yet another opportunity to relinquish my plan and control.

*In retrospect I can say with confidence that it’s in the hardest things that we grow the most.*

After a long time of trying, we became pregnant — with the help of fertility treatments and procedures. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! I was overjoyed, and our sweet daughter has been such a gift. She is one of many amazing gifts that came as a result of God’s miraculous rescue.

If you have struggled with an ED, you know that they can be so gosh darn persistent. Throughout the years, I have battled off and on with control vs. surrender. When I let God get a hold of my heart, I was able to walk in healing and freedom. When I tried to do it my way, I would get stuck in old patterns. This was the cycle, and it was hard.

When our daughter was 3, we decided we wanted to have another child. Shockingly, we naturally became pregnant. Not only did we get pregnant on our own, but there were FOUR sacs in my womb. What?!?!? Everyone was amazed and perplexed. However, the pregnancy did not progress. At week nine, we had to say goodbye to all four babies in my womb. I was devastated and blamed myself because I had slipped backed into my eating disorder behavior before that pregnancy began. My body could not carry one child, let alone four.

But God wasn’t about to give up on me. He was my patient rescuer, and he fought so hard for my heart. Within the few months following the loss, I gained about 19 pounds and we decided to try again. We were naturally blessed with an identical twin conception. God enabled me to carry those two babies to full term and I gave birth to two healthy baby boys! Another miracle given by my rescuer.

This girl who was once told she had two weeks to live…a woman who was told she may NEVER be able to have children…is now the mommy of three little miracles, ages 6 and 2. And miracles are exactly what they are!!!

Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.
Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.

WOW … what a journey it has been!!!

When I turned 35 this year, I had a massive epiphany as I looked at my life through a new lens.

I could be dead. I could be childless. I could have missed out on ALL OF THIS! But God—OH GOD—in His amazing grace REACHED DOWN INTO MY MESS AND RESCUED ME. He knew me and loved me every single day. He waited patiently, He is my healer, and He has an amazing purpose for my life.

This pic (illustrating exactly how my life is ...awesome!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.
This pic (illustrating exactly how awesome my life is!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.

In those moments of breathtaking gratefulness just a few short months ago, God spoke to me. He wanted to break my chains off COMPLETELY. Not partly. Not for a few months. WHOLLY.

After more than 20 years of trying to fight an eating disorder on my own, I let go of my past. I forgave myself and devoted my life to Him. It’s through this continuous surrender that God’s greater plan and purpose for me can take root, and I cannot wait to fully experience all that He has for me!

For anyone who is struggling, I want you to know that there is hope and there is healing. I know there are times when you feel like there’s no way out. It may seem easier to let the ED take over and not fight back. But your true strength will come from handing it over to God and accepting his freedom. He will speak to you and open your eyes to all that He has for you. It’s a life of great purpose we’re promised in the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Satan still tries to use stress and loneliness to tempt me to fall back into old behaviors, but I KNOW that those behaviors will only leave me feeling more stressed and empty. The way I fight back is by reminding myself that it’s Satan trying to pull me down. Instead of turning to those familiar behaviors, I take a “time out” to notice what is causing me to have those ED thoughts and then I do something healthy and productive to get rid of those thoughts … pray, write, read, call a friend … etc.

photo

Please know that I would love to pray for you, chat with you, encourage you, or help you in any way that I can. I’ve been there. I know how alone, scared, and hopeless you feel. But I promise you … there is hope. Do not give up. You are worth SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

God is good … ALL THE TIME!!!!!

If you would like to contact me, please leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook.

Be free!

This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to ______ with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is so full, and I feel so free!
This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to Alto Pass, IL with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is full, and I am finally free!

Friday Favorites…Summer Style

 

Friday Favorites

 

-Being beckoned awake by the rising sun

-Sun streaming through the trees

Olivia Ryan Favorites-0016

-Sitting outside with a glass of wine

-Painted toenails in sandals

-Seeing my babies in swimming suits

-Pools and sprinklers

Swimsuit collage

-Trampoline jumping

-Iced Coffee

-Thunderstorms & snuggles

-The fresh fragrance a good rain leaves behind

-Rainbows and flowers

-Meeting new friends at the park

-Sundresses and maxi skirts

-Summer roadtrips

-Pink Lemonade Tropical Snow

-More excuses for Whitey’s Ice Cream

-Buns, buns buns. Messy and high buns. 😀

summer buns

Happy summer. It is a happy summer.

Just Do It

No, sicko. (<–remember that word from Jr. High?) Get your mind out of the gutter. 😉 I’m also not talking about the awesome 90s Nike slogan that impressively lives on (I love you Michael Jordan).

I’m talking about doing what you want to do in life.

What are the dreams of your heart?

What when you think of it fully realized makes you feel exhilarated and alive (and slightly terrified)?

What do you want to be known for when you die?

Do you have a burning passion to make something happen, but you’re scared or don’t know where to start?

For me, it’s my book series. My dream is sharing the message of hope with the world. I want to change lives by sharing the gospel and our story of hope through tragedy. I want it so badly MY HEART IS EXPLODING IN MY CHEST!

Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that I just do nothing. Some days, I don’t know where to start, so I don’t start. I just sit there on Facebook or Pinterest and click “like” and “repin” until my kids wake up and then I’m like…crap. I didn’t “do it.” And I can’t get those minutes back.

Moving to action can be hard. Moving outside of our comfort zone can be terrifying.

I want to share a video with you today that will help you stop doing the FB/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram-time-waster-thingy and start doing whatever it is you want to do.

This video gets a bit repetitive, even annoying at moments, but it’s stinking awesome. It helps me (and you) change desire into action. Watching this Art Williams 5 minute speech will not be a waste of your time. But before you watch it:

Identify ONE THING that you want. What is it? What is your dream? 🙂 Share it with me in the comments below. Putting your dreams on paper is powerful. Then humor me for five minutes and watch the vid.

My disclaimer today is for peeps walking through infertility. Oh friend, I know you want babies. You want to be a momma or a dadda and you can’t just “will it” to happen. It’s one of the few things in life you can’t “just do it” to earn. You can’t work harder and ensure the outcome. My advice to you today is to dig around in your heart to find something else that gets your mind churning…your legs dancy…the joy in your heart bubbling up…and move to action on that. Tomorrow will come.

But for today

Just do it

celebrate…don’t compare

You know those really cute dialogue things people post?

“This is me the parent saying something.”

“Then my kid says something cute back.”

“I ask said kid some clarifying question?”

“She or he responds with some off-the-wall-hilarious response that you couldn’t make up if you tried.”

I love this kind of facebook post. It excites me for the darndest things my kids will someday say. I will write them down in a notebook of “Coleton-isms” and “Annabelle-isms” and cherish them forever!

I’ve actually been waiting for them to start….but it might be a little while cuz Coleton doesn’t talk too much. He has made significant speaking strides, but he’s still on the “I talk very little” end of the spectrum for his age group. This is what I find myself saying to people who (probably) don’t even notice or care how much he is talking:

“It’s a few things I think:

1) He’s the first kid and I’ve probably anticipated his needs a little too much.

2) He’s a boy. Boys usually talk less than their female peers.

3) He’s an introvert and loves spending time alone in his crib or reading.”

Why do I feel the need to explain his language development to my peers? I would love Coleton the same amount if he hadn’t spoken ONE word in his little life, yet I find myself comparing his milestones to other kids his age and getting self conscious about it.

Sometimes it’s in my head, but sometimes it’s aloud on my playdates. I give disclaimers. I express my frustration or stress or fears about him not speaking conceptual thoughts or more than one, two or sometimes three word sentences. I make comments about how chunky Annabelle is. And frankly I’m embarrassed by myself. Why am I comparing my kids to my friend’s kids when I could just be celebrating my kids for who they are?!

You see, I am 100% in love with Annabelle’s kissable, squishable rolls. I love that Coleton isn’t growing up too fast or talking up a storm yet. He’s my sweet snugly boy who is emerging out of his cocoon on his own timing. I’m straight up enamored with my kids.

When I’m alone, I cherish them well. We have fun in the sprinkler, reading, playing, tickling, eating, etc…and I’m constantly amazed at how they’re growing and changing. These little peeps are magnificent.

But the ugly thing about comparison is that it robs me of delighting in who they are today.

I’m calling BS on myself. I’m calling BS on our culture that obsesses over our kids wanting to be doctors at like age 12. I’m challenging myself and anyone else who is convicted of comparing your kids to their peers to STOP. Whether your kid is the next Einstein or 9 years behind developmentally….STOP COMPARING and START CELEBRATING.

Our kids are these wonderful little beings, and there is no human who has ever been or will be exactly like them. God healed my broken mentality of constant comparison to other women, and He has given me so much joy in parenting these kiddos. Therefore, I will not let comparison sneak into my mom life and rob me of any of that joy. Coleton and Annabelle and any future children God wants to give us will be celebrated by their mommy no matter what they do or who they are. They will be free to grow and learn at whatever rate they grow and learn. They will be free to play and be kids as long as they will stay young.

For those of you who do a wonderful job of not comparing your kids, thank you. You inspire me. For the rest of us, let’s celebrate exactly where our kids are. Today.

Someday, I will post a cute and funny convo. But for today, it’s time to go get C and AB out of their cribs and enjoy their jibberish and new words and sweet smiles. And that’s plenty for me.IMG_8202ps. riding the bus at church from the far parking lot to the building is pretty much Coleton’s favorite weekly activity. Therefore, it’s one of mine too. 😉

Do you ever struggle with comparison? Share in the comments how you fight back.