Monday, September 30, 2013

What is fellowship?

the need for fellowship.

I don't have a list of Bible verses (in which I know there's a good amount) that talk about fellowship with other believers.  Tonight I've been pondering how important it is to get connected and stay surrounded by other believers.  live life with others.  grow together.  but I'm getting ahead of myself here.  let's talk about it.  and i would love to hear your input.

benefits of fellowship are numerous and i will loose count and space for this post if i mention each and every one of them.  there has been so many times in my life where fellowship has been helpful, beneficial, and encouraging in my walk.  and I'm sure you have plenty of examples as well.  i live by analogy, so that's the best way I'll walk through these thoughts, so bare with me (or not).

there was a time in my childhood where i wanted nothing to do with going to the service.  I wanted to go to the nursery and help them out with the babies.  i was three. they told me, "some day you will get to serve in here but today your job is to learn about God and how you can better serve Him."   It wasn't exactly like that, but remember people I was only three.

then there was the age where i was so bored in church (and wednesday night classes) i would doodle on anything that was paper.  now looking back I cringe at all the information i could of soaked in.  but that was then.  my fellowship then consisted of hanging out with friends and making sure people liked me.  (Sounds like school to me.)

but then I fell in love with Jesus and my relationship with Him grew.  He wasn't just the man on the cross behind the pastor preaching those thousands of messages.  I longed to be in fellowship each week.  my heart would ache when i would be away from my home church.  those years of fellowship and growth were (and are) amazing!!  I had fellowship and friends at church not because I was well liked and showing off, but now I was the one being real.  I had true friends and a long list of people older and younger than me that I came to fellowship with.  The benefit of fellowship grew to serving in the church.  I went on mission trips, served in the nursery, babysat during Bible studies, became a Sunday School teacher one summer, helped and taught at VBS, involved in skits, and volunteered numerous years with the preschoolers on Wednesday nights.  My life was full of fellowship and my ability to have it overflow to other parts of my life were anything but dry.  

When I became an adult my fellowship shifted and changed.  It was different and blessed me in new ways.  I changed churches (on my own) and that alone was fruitful.  It brought my faith to a new level---my own!  I drove past my parent's church to attend my own, even though I still lived with them.  I was involved in adult small groups and I was finding my true identity with Christ.  My fellowship changed to new heights and it was cool to see what all God had in store.
*Note the church I left wasn't bad.  It was something I had to do for myself.  It was part of my journey of independence.

Fellowship as an adult changed and so did my time.  My free time to serve changed and my ability to fellowship with others became more of a need.  I had less time to be so involved like before, but had the desire to get involved.  I shifted to more skits, leading a small group, being IN my own small group, and being on a worship team.  I enjoyed going to church every Sunday.  I loved the community, fellowship, and love.

Philippians 2:1-2 
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Now my fellowship as a married woman has shifted again.  However in new ways, not bad just different. :)  When Jon and I first got married we traveled a lot and we attended three churches for the most part.  It wasn't consistent.  But we were involved in a small group and we got plugged in to the Word and that's what was important.  We had fellowship with other newlyweds.  Our marriage wasn't ever rocky but in the consistent same-church department I would say so!  We have two churches right now.  One in Ames that we know is a good Bible-preaching church.  One here we attend while living with my parents (the one I attended "on my own" before we got married).  But there's been plenty more changes in church-going because of the move to Cedar Rapids, etc etc. But moving on to now motherhood changes.....

As a mom it's not convenient for me to lead a small group or volunteer in children's ministry when my baby would have to be babysat for me to do so.  But I can serve in other ways.  I can get together with other moms and have play dates (not necessarily woman from my church), or serve in the nursery on Sunday mornings.  I can find plenty of options for me as a mom of a young child where I can still be a wife and mom but be able to fellowship with others.  Now I can even love on those who have lost babies.  Or I can pray every time I nurse Ellie for the barren women or for someone who needs extra prayer.  Just because my fellowship (and service) has looked different over the past 20 years, does not mean I can't fellowship.  God sees it as fellowship.  He sees my heart.  He knows it better than I do.  He knows where I stumble and fall.  He picks me back up and I am able to stand again in fellowship with others.

I long for that fellowship.  I long for that Sunday morning service and community.  I love keeping in touch with others.  I love being able to serve and walk along side someone in their life.  I just want to be there with them and for them.  That's fellowship.

What does fellowship look like for you?  Has it changed over the years in your life like it has mine?
What does fellowship mean to you?

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Journal Entry

Note: details of the miscarriage are not necessary for this blog-world.  If you want to hear details let me know and I can email them to you or something.  However just know I ended up having to get an in office D&C.  I was awake for the whole thing.  Nothing I will ever forget.  (Just like you never forget the day your baby was born.)  It's a sign the pregnancy is over.  And when I sat in the chair knowing what had to be done, I just cried and my mom hugged me.  "I just want this to be over." I said, over and over again.  I haven't been able to physically move on yet (still taking medications, headaches, etc).  But enjoying play time with my sweet daughter in the mean time.  Crawling around with her and laughing today was quite joyful!


As I sat there, grieving, I pondered what just happened.  I had lost two babies before my firstborn's first birthday.  Why was God allowing me to get pregnant in the first place--especially since He let them be taken away?  Why was I on this journey during my daughter's first year of life?  I missed out on so much.  I didn't get a chance to be the Mom I know I can be.

I just became "that mom" in survival mode.  I dreaded day to day--and dreamed of the future.  Living in the present was too dreadful.  I tried to stay positive, smile, and hold back tears but it was hard.  And when the tears did come--they rolled down so fast they could have been invisible.

Holding back tears is not about pride.  It's about staying strong, keeping emotions out of the picture for my poor husband's peace of mind.  Tears are not a sign of weakness, but they come unexpectedly.  They were coming down heavily, but no signs of stopping.  The uncontrollable feeling I had was paired with defeat.  I had lost the ability to press on.  I had failed miserably.  Everything was crashing down in front of me.

     My capability as a Mother.
     My devotion to my husband.
     My support on owning a house.
     My servanthood to my Lord.

I was Nothing.
And as I fell into that deep pit of despair, I felt God's presence.
His holiness.
His grace.
His mercy.
For He had delivered me.
Whether it was the way I saw fit or not.  My God can not leave my side.

     He is capable of helping me be a Mother.
     He is devoted to my marriage.
     He has given us a roof over our heads.
     His presence is peaceful.

Just like He never forgot His Son, He won't forget that being a parent changes

And some day, some special day, I'll get to meet my Taylor.
And my Alex.

Because God is holding them close for me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

God's Love

God has been stretching me this year beyond anything I could ever imagine.  I'm so stretched, my mind is aching, and I'm winded.  God has been teaching me what LOVE really looks like and what it truly means to love.

When I got married I learned a whole new way of loving.  I started to understand unconditional love, grace, and mercy a lot more than I did before the "I do's."  I think marriage is a gift from Above to show us and train us to be more like Him.

It breaks us, for what breaks His heart.  We start to learn what it truly means to "lay down your life" for someone else with nothing in return.

Then we got pregnant and had our sweet daughter.  Parenting is a whole different boat.  It's love beyond your arms can reach.  Love farther than you thought your heart could stretch.  Love that just goes on and on and on.  I would do anything for her.  And I know her Daddy would too.

However, I've still got so much to learn about love.

This 2013 year has given me even a further understanding of God's love, but in ways I would have never imagined.

unfortunately i had to learn through heartache.  we had the privilege to move closer to family and buy a house.  but in the midst of buying that house we were dealing with a miscarriage.   then we had a couple months of sorting through things and getting back to normal.  then two months after miscarrying, we got pregnant again!  this time around I didn't run around telling the whole world.  I just told those who could tell and a few others to help encourage us along the way.

then I started to feel this shift in the pregnancy.  It was like a repeat of Taylor's and how I miscarried.  I felt like we were loosing another baby.  It was just way too similar.

the more I processed it the more I saw God's love.  Even through the heartache I felt God's love.  His love is far beyond anything else.  I knew He loved me.  I couldn't question why it was happening to me.  I didn't have all the answers, but I knew and felt God's love.  It wasn't something I wanted to have to go through...all over again!  but I knew I wasn't alone.  many mothers have gone through similar stuff as me.  many have had to live the heartache of loosing babies.

this day at Adventureland was the first day,
the day I really began to wonder

Holding Ellie reminded me often in the hard times that I was a woman.  I was capable of carrying a healthy baby.  I was capable of being a mommy.  and that's where God's love is overflowing (plus her smile is enough to help you find joy in hardest of times).  I don't know why God gave her to us so easily and wonderfully, but she's here.  and we are truly grateful.  we love her to pieces.  she is a reminder to us that God's love is real and present.  God hasn't forsaken us.  His love is deeper and wider than we could ever understand.

Yesterday we had that appointment.  The one we were dying to go to, but when it came time I had a hard time walking.  In my deepest of deepest heart strings I knew.  I knew something was wrong with this baby.  our sweet baby we planned for, the sweet baby we were planning our 2014 around, the sweet baby due end of March.  I told Jon no way was he not going to be there.  He carried Ellie for me and we checked in.

(And i would like to believe Satan was trying to play tricks on me all morning: I felt extremely tired, slept later than planned, we went to Applebee's for lunch where the hostess was expecting her 2nd around the same time Taylor was due, and a couple ladies left holding a crying newborn.  Oh that sweet newborn cry.)

Then we went to get the much wanted ultrasound.  This time (unlike Taylor's) I got a little hop of joy in my heart.  This time there was a baby in the sac.  The gal was measuring me and Jon and I both knew.  The baby wasn't moving and we knew my lack of constant sickness met bad news.  So we went ahead and told her not to worry about keeping anything from us and make us wait for a doctor's perspective.  Please just tell us.

I'm measuring the baby at 8 weeks 4 days.  But I'm not seeing a heartbeat.  

Okay.  We knew.  We already felt this, and had our minds set on dealing with another miscarriage.  So that way if the baby was okay we would have a big surprise.  (Secretly I had prayed that if this baby wasn't going to make it in the long run that he/she would already not have a heart beat.  I would hate to go back in two weeks with thinking things were okay and then end up with issues.)  Because those of you who already know, it's easier to miscarry a baby earlier rather than later on.

When we met with the doctor we got a lot of questions answered and now we just wait.  Giving my body some time to try to take care of things without having to have surgery.  My body did so with Taylor, so I can only hope.  However the waiting is hard.  With Taylor I was already "spotting" and in that stage of the miscarriage so that made it easier (lack of better word).

Our sweet "Alex" was seen on the ultrasound and the look in my hubby's eyes was enough to make any one tear up.  This time around seeing an actual baby in the sac made it that much more real.  Today I would have been 12 weeks along.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Maxwell House Updates {second edition}

I was at the new house yesterday and got the camera out as soon as I got a chance! :)  I was wanting to let you all know what Jon has been busy with (besides working full-time and busy weekends).  Here's some more pics of what the house is looking like today....


Yes, the vanity is no longer, a lot of drywall down, and flooring is pretty much all gone.  We're having to redo a lot of things in there and it was just needed.  Over 50 years of use, that bathroom was ready for an update. :)

We're now trying to figure out what kind of tub/shower we want, flooring, putting in a new window (which is a lot of work), new plumbing, change of some electrical stuff, etc.  Can't wait until it's done!

*And if you happen to be very handy in any of these areas (or know someone who is) let me know!  I know we Jon could use all the help we he can get! :)

amazing how one small room can be so much work
Last time I was there we were working on getting more closets done but then Ellie started throwing up and our plans changed completely.  Here's the hall/linen closet.  It just needs the trimming done.

And even though we got the living room painting done, Jon likes to make things perfected.  :)  The house is settling right by the window and he's making it as smooth as possible.

He just can't help it...
I also put some pics up from when we hung up curtains at the living room window, but I have some better ones now.

love this color
The reason we were at the house Sunday afternoon was because we had a meeting with a Home Depot lady.  We got things chosen for a new living room window.  It's our house warming gift from my parents.  The window is needed because you can't open the windows unless you want to have to go outside to close them.  It will be such a great bonus too, because it will allow us to make the room seem so much more open and inviting!  Looking forward to when it gets installed!

Can't wait until we get the brown, leather couches and matching blue, tan, and brown pillows in that space!  Still keeping my eye out for the perfect lamps and rug, but I can't wait to see it all come together.  However, we are holding off on getting the couches for awhile (which is a good patience lesson for me), because we are putting our money on other things like the bathroom for example.

When my mom and I were at Gordman's the other day I got a couple things that will go on the dining room table.  Both decorative.  One a white bowl and another blue with brown/goldish colors that matches EXACTLY.   Both were on sale and I am getting more and more excited. :)

Next my mom and I stopped over at Michael's and I got a cork board.  I'm going to cover it with fabric that matches Ellie's room to hang pictures, future art work, etc to decorate her wall.

something similar to this but different fabric
And I'm hoping I can just keep it and switch out the fabric to match whatever room it goes in for the future.  Right now I'll probably just get some light green fabric with little polka dots on it.  Owning a home = so much fun!!

Even though it's WORK, you get to paint!

Even though it takes TIME, you can make it how you want!

Even though it COSTS, it goes towards something you can call your own!

This next year will be so fun to add and change things!  Looking forward to the lucky day we get to move in!! :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ellie {11 months}

My daughter is 11 months old as of yesterday.   WHHHHAAAT????

She is the sweetest, funniest girl ever.  She is best known for her big wide open mouth smile.  Which reminds me she has started a new laugh.  It's quite contagious too.

our happy girl

Her favorite thing to do is help me with whatever I am doing.  It has caused me to get creative.  I can block her from all sorts of things and yet she still finds a way to get to what she wants....

This week I found a clever way to keep her entertained so I could fold laundry with her in the room.  I gave her a basket of board books for her to explore.  She thought it was pretty cool.  Hopefully that will last whenever I need it to be used in the future. :)

I also have had to use pillows to cover up cords and watch for when she eats crumbs off the floor.  My dad also put up the baby gate at the top of the stairs so I can eat or pee in peace knowing she's not going to fall.

Another thing to keep her busy is a water bottle.  Which this summer we've been giving ours to her to keep entertained.

She has also gotten a bigger appetite which is fun to see!  She gets so excited when she sees us with food or a plate in our hands thinking she gets to eat!  I always have to make sure I have something for her.  Her favorites are: sweet potatoes (never fails!), apples, pears and raspberries, and ever growing.

She is our little peanut and is the same size I was when I was her age.  However she gets her looks and practically everything else from her Daddy.  She can still wear Carter's 3-6 month stuff (summer you can stretch stuff longer because pants can be short).  But for the most part she's in 6-12 month clothes.  And we're still waiting for more hair growth, however the back of her head is starting to get more.
She still enjoys music and "dancing."  She kicks her legs around when she's excited about something and it's super sweet.  She will stop whatever she is doing if she hears music to dance.  Who does that sound like? ;)

She is such a sweetie and we don't know what we ever did without her.  We love how we can just lay her down for a nap or for the night and she goes down so well.  If she makes any noise it's sweet noises that make Jon and I chuckle.  She is getting very talkative!  She is also choosing to crawl more than army crawl.  Which is great because it helps get her where she wants faster.  And some times that's a good thing. :)  I always feel like I'm playing hide and seek with her!

On Labor Day we went to Adventureland and she got to go "swimming" for the first time.  However I knew this wouldn't go over very well.  She doesn't like to be cold....and she certainly doesn't like cold water!  But that's expected from a baby!  She did pretty well though!  She let us try to get her in the wave pool and once she was done with that I sat in the shallow part and she fell asleep in my lap.  After a good nap she woke up right before Jon could get a picture.  Here she is after just waking up...

It's bright, Momma!
Our family at Adventure Bay!
She also went on her first ride--the Tea Cups!  However she didn't really like them.  There were no tears, just a little uncertain looks and noises.  She likes to be able to observe and the spinning didn't always allow that.  Jon and I stayed positive and smiling the whole time to keep her from allowing her to be unsure even more. :)

We're so thankful for our sweet girl and can't believe it's already that plan her first birthday!!!  What?  Where did the year go???

family at Adventureland on Labor Day!