Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Release

I have a well of emotion, that is threatening to overflow.

It feels like a balloon, inside me. Wanting to burst, but not quite full enough.

I can’t just call Chris. I have to wait for him to call me.

And he is my best friend. The only one that I want to talk to, to pour my emotions out to.

I recognize that God is here with me. That he is beside me, NO, that he is holding me.

That I need to cast these emotions out to him. Give him my burdens.

I am so lonely. And I realize that somehow, throughout the years, I have become quite efficient at putting up a wall. At being strong, SO strong, that I refuse to recognize the turmoil boiling within me.

As a child , It was a survival mechanism. I needed to survive.

If I was unable to do that as a child, I would be dead. Not because of anyone else, but because of myself.

I learned how to save my emotions to deal with later. I learned how to be cold and distant, so as to protect myself. I learned how to not dwell in the overwhelming fear I felt for my sister’s life, and how to be a different person, one who didn’t need tears or sadness, or even love, but one who would thrive and exist on sheer will.

As a young girl, I turned to poetry and music to release the mayhem within me.

I didn’t turn to Jesus. My Sunday school said, “ Jesus loves you, just like your own dad. That’s the type of love he has for you.”

And so I made up my mind, right then and there, that I didn’t want that kind of love…that kind of jesus. My father was cold….distant, and I was scared of him, as a child.

And so I was lost for so long.

I joined the military. I was rebuilt. Confident, even stronger. Determined. Happy. I had the first best friends, lifetime best friends, of my life.

No one bullied me, or made fun of me, or ignored me. I was at home.

And then something terrible happened to me, and I was broken into pieces. Recognizing my brokenness, I started going to therapy. I started journaling. I learned how to be alone and okay with it. I recognized and accepted everything that was wrong with me and made the choice to change.

I needed to learn how to be vulnerable. How to open up and step outside of my shyness.

How to lower my defenses and walls.

How to trust and depend on someone.

And I did learn.

Then, I met my husband. I wanted nothing to do with him. He was a fast, crazy partier and I was a more quiet, poetic, artsy ,soul. I pushed him away, and away and away. I told him everything bad and terrible about me. I wanted him to run far away from me.

And he still wanted to know me.

And then I moved, left the country, without even saying goodbye.

And somehow….2 years later, we married. Bestfriends….lovers. Completely opposite, yet completely perfect for each other. What I was missing, he gave to me. What he was missing, I gave to him.

Through a husband’s passionate love, I became even more confident. He tore down my defenses and said, “Alicia, you are worth it! I am NOT letting you go!”

As a child, my grandma used to say, “Alicia, know your worth. Don’t make the choice to accept less than your worth. Be selfish about it, because no one else is gonna be selfish for you. “

If it wasn’t for her….where would I be? Who would I be? I love her so much. I miss her so much.

And, so, through the years, I made unbreakable friendships. Bonds that can’t be broken.

I kept writing. I nourished my soul.

But….my soul, it needed more.

It needed more than human love. More than a release of beautifully put together words. More than a song of tortured emotions.

My soul needed to fall into the overflow. The overflow of rushing, LIVING water.

HE sought me out. HE found me. And I rushed into His arms, I jumped into HIS river, and I never looked back.

And through Him, I know a Love so deep. So unfathomable. One that lives in me and has shown me the depths of the human heart. One that has shown me forgiveness is possible. That Love saves the soul. That the soul is the home of the heart. And that the heart, while protected by the unfailing Love of God, can never be broken.

And so, while I am incredibly lonely, I know that there is still a Love beside me. In me. In the hearts of my friends, who are far away, but so close at the same time.

And while I know that I still struggle with being shy, distant, and at times, even cold....While I know that I struggle with the desire to do all things perfect, to have all things organized and under my control....

I know that the God of my life will intervene in the weavings of my mind, in the strings of my heart and the emotions I wear on my sleeve, and He will REFINE ME, remake me, and mold me to His liking. I just need to let Him. Surrender my will to His.

For that, I am so thankful.

For my dear, sweet, hubs, I am thankful.

For unfailing, life saving, heart changing, love, I am thankful.


Miss ya hubs.


Monday, December 26, 2011

December

This blog has been great...for me.

It gives me a chance to write about all the random, boring, super serious and super dumb things that go through my mind.

I do great at blogging for a while, but then I will go a month or two before I blog again! And yet, people still read my blog....even while I am absent from it.

I don't know who you are, but I know you exist. In bloggy world, we call that lurking. I had 249 views this month, and I didn't even write this month. From Israel, to Latvia, Malta to the Ukraine...and MORE!

Here is your chance. Did I do this already? I'm not sure, but leave me a comment. Tell me who you are - I would love to know you! I'm working at getting a contact button put on my page to make things like this easier...


SO, anyway.
Thanksgiving has passed. Christmas has passed. We are on to a new year, and I couldn't be more excited. Because you see, I actually have resolutions this year!

I plan on blogging more on that later.


But in the meantime, Merry Christmas! We didn't get to talk to hubs on Christmas day, but we did get a sweet email. He is doing great and really enjoying all the packages everyone has sent him.

In closing, I am so thankful for my amazing family and friends this year. Everyone this year was so thoughtful in their gift giving, and that just made my heart sing! I am so thankful for friends who listen to me, talk to me, make me laugh, argue with me and most importantly, read this blog!

haha

It is here on this blog where I write about personal struggles. They don't always materialize as a struggle, but if I've written about it, I can guarantee I went through it. Wanting to be in control, perfectionism, procrastination, stay at home mommy loneliness and guilt, faith, LOVE,...and there is more, of course, but those are all things that are stumbling blocks in my life.

But, alas, the new year is soon upon us, and new year's resolutions will save the day!

Til next time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Word.

The weekend after Chris left, I got a sweet package in the mail from my dear sister, Aurelia at YouFrillMe.com

One of the gifts was a devotional. The lady who wrote it spent time just listening for God, and writing down the Words He gave to her. The devotional is called, "Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence," by Sarah Young.

In Iowa, at LifePointe church, our worship team would have a "free worship" night once a month. That means that we would spend time, without music sheets and with musical instruments, listening for God, practicing His presence, and singing from the Spirit.

It was amazing....That was also the first time I have heard of "practicing His presence." I wish I could explain how much this affected and transformed my relationship with Christ. I am so thankful for the leadership and mentoring from Pastor Robby Elgin!

Anyhow, it had been a while since I truly sat, in the quiet, and listening to God. So, I started reincorporating that into my Bible times, and wrote down what I heard. The following is a Word from God that I heard shortly before Chris deployed.

" I will bring GOOD.

Only I, can bring water from barren land, JOY from sorrow.

Only I, can bring LIFE from death, JOY in your mourning.

So, take off your sack clothes, throw away your veils!
In the same way, remove the coverings of insecurity and loneliness that the world clothes you with.

Open your eyes! Awaken! It is true that I AM here and ALIVE, covering you with JOY!

I will strengthen you, never leaving you, holding you close. In the night, I will minister to your soul.

Because I love you, even before you were created. I knew you, in the dark of the womb, and I laughed with JOY at My marvelous creation.

Because I know you. Inside. All of you. I know how you are and why you think. I know your secrets.

I know you, and although you cannot fully know Me, I desire you in a way that is indescribable.

So, nothing that happens is a surprise. For I see any and all things. I know you, the workings of your mind, and I RESIDE in you, waiting patiently for you to OPEN your eyes.

My child, I am filled with LOVE for you. Don't live in your loneliness and despair! See ME! I am here, "Surely, I will NEVER leave you."

I am in the air you breathe, even in the tears you cry. I will consume you and you will never be cold or alone, rather you will be filled with the FIRE of the Holy Spirit. Come to Me, walk with Me. Sing to Me, Look to the heavens! I am everywhere, in every thing. I am with you, in you, beside you.

I will equip you for this journey. Cling to Me, cling to the Word. I will transform your soul, renewing you and giving you LIFE."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is "God gonna get you?"

Well, Dr. Murray was found guilty in the Michael Jackson case. Not so long ago, Amanda Knox was exonerated from Italian courts. And, before that Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the murder of her daughter, Casey Anthony.

Those are some well known, notorious cases, and I, like so many others, have been captivated by them.

Its hard to avoid the comments on the news articles.

There is one comment that is left rather routinely.....it annoys me, but at the same time, saddens me.

" God is gonna get Casey Anthony. She'll get hers and is going straight to hell."

That same comment could be replaced with any of the above's names.


On the surface, not only is that a rather strong, judgmental comment..but its also a little self-righteous.

That is almost like saying, " God is gonna get her. But not me, because I am not a murderer. I do nothing wrong. I will stand before God, and my judgement will be so much better, because my life is cleaner than hers. God is loving me today, and will send me to heaven, but he's angry and that girl is going to hell for her sins."

There is only one problem with this avenue of thinking.

God loves Casey Anthony. God loves Dr. Murray. God loves Amanda Knox. He commands his love towards them.

Not only that, He would receive them, forgive them, and continue loving them, if they sought Him.

We are so human, that we just cannot understand the depths of His love and forgiveness. The "God is gonna get him/her" proves that.

"Every sin—no matter how large—can be forgiven and swallowed in God’s infinite ocean of grace. Just as God forgives those who turn from their wicked ways, so should we. God offers salvation to even the most wicked. 1 John 1:7 tells us “The blood of Jesus purifies us from every sin” . God is willing to forgive all! "(unknown)

As followers of Christ, we are called to be like Him, to walk in His love and grace, and to show it to others.


What do you think a non Christian thinks when he or she sees those types of comments, coming from the mouths of Christians?

What kind of damage do you think this is doing to the gospel?

How much do comments like this contribute to the "backlash" against Christianity?


Christians are up in arms, feeling as though Christianity is being attacked in this country today.

But how much of these attacks are because of us and a lukewarm faith? Guess what?

We, followers of Christ, bear great responsibility for attacks against our own faith.

- A lot of us have turned Christianity into a "tradition," instead of a way of life.
-Plenty of us have used "religion" to justify political beliefs and to push a personal agenda.
-So many pastors have forgotten their calling and have started preaching politics from the pulpit.
-A lot of churches have stopped sheltering the persecuted and started advertising campaigns based on gimmicks to get people in.
-A lot of churches will never advocate for the orphan, the widow, the missionary and persecuted Christians in other countries.
-Many a church will fall into the trap of building a "castle" instead of growing a generation of believers.
- Most famously, the Catholic church has covered up the disgusting behavior and sexual misconduct from their priests.
-Children's ministries are struggling, Worship teams and worship bands are becoming the focus and the main reason why many people even go to church.
-This results in worship becoming a "feeling" instead of recognition and praise to God, instead of an action...and instead of living a LIFE of worship.
-Ministers and self righteous "Christian politicians" have been found in cheating and drug scandals....

"Religion" has HURT many people,as you can see.

there is so much more than that.

It goes even deeper.

Some of us may tithe to the church, but its the rare person that tithes more than 2% of their income.
Others tithe only to the church, and rest in the "law", forgetting that what we have and have earned is not really ours, but was given to us to give back to others.

-What about the homeless in the homeless shelters? Better yet, the bum down the street? We refuse to give some money or resources to help them out, because he has a brand new pair of Nikes on, or because he might be "faking it."

-We withhold our treasures, and wonder why financial prosperity is being withheld from us.

-What about the missionary, risking his life overseas to spread the good news?

-What about the persecuted Christian in Africa, Iran, China, North Korea, who is in jail for believing in Christ. What about their families? These people have a love and faith in Christ that has set them FREE from the bondage of this world?

-what about the orphan? Who will never know the loving touch of a parent and the safe haven of a family, if not adopted? And the widow? Who is alone, lonely, vulnerable, and unprotected....

-What about forgiveness? True forgiveness. Has your father abandoned you? Has your mother hurt you? Has your husband cheated on you? My christian friends, YOU are called to forgive!


When I hear someone say, "God is gonna get you," it just does this to me. It hurts me because it hurts the message of Christ.

The message, which is not coming from some scary guy in the sky who wants nothing more than to squash you.

God doesn't want to GET you. Not like that.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't want us to think like that either. To condescendingly believe that we are better than someone else. To waste our time being so angry at injustice, that we condemn someone else to hell.

You can be sure that God gets angry. You can be sure that he will judge each and everyone of us. But God's judgement does NOT stem from an out of control anger. God's judgement is from love, a pure love, that none of us can fathom.

How grateful we should be for a love so incomprehensible! How foolish would it be of us to think that God's love is reserved only for the faithful, only for the saints!

Lets take an in depth look of ourselves, this holiday season.
What better time than to remove the attributes in our life that make us unwilling to love and show love to another.
What better time than to celebrate God's love by opening our hearts, homes, and life to someone else?

Here is some scripture, from Matthew 25. Read it, don't read it. But after the scripture, is my conclusion.
The Final Judgment
31 “But when the Son of Man[d] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations[e] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[g] 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”


What more evidence do we need, as Christians, to really, purely, and genuinely love others? When will we stop ignoring His call?

When will we stop portraying God as an Unloving, Inclusive, Hateful...and even Republican, God?

This is some pretty radical stuff I'm saying. And that is okay, because I'm all about being radical. Jesus's message of love was radical back in bible times. His message of living in the spirit and not the law was extremely radical!

And today, we have managed to take the radical-ness out of our faith. We don't want to be uncomfortable. We don't want our churches to make us uncomfortable. And, our churches would rather grow in earthly numbers, than spiritual numbers. We've forgotten how to be radical...here in America.

Heck..we've even forgotten how to radically love our own family.

Today, I challenge you to love people who are uncomfortable to love. Write down everyone who has hurt you, wronged you....write it down, then tear it up and threw it away!

I also challenge you, during this holiday season, to bless someone else!
Have a little extra money left over? Buy a gift card and send it to a struggling or disheartened friend! You can even email it to them!
Or let the spirit lead you to paying for someone's lunch, coffee, or even leaving an extra big tip for someone. Offer to babysit your single friend's kids a few times, shovel your neighbors driveway....there are so many ways!

If you really want to love on and bless someone, find a family to buy Christmas gifts for. There are numerous ways to do this...through your church, word of mouth.....

But also, there is Angel Tree, International Justice Mission has a Christmas catalog out....

Some of these things are just tiny things that seem easier to do around the holidays. But maybe, these things will plant a seed. Not just in you, but in the person you are blessing.

Lastly, I beg of you to not be caught up in the Christmas hype. Don't get mad that some place doesn't want a Christmas tree up, or that someone spelled Christmas with an X. God doesn't need Christmas. And historically, Christmas wasn't even Christ based ( if that means anything to you). But God, doesn't need a Christmas tree or Christmas gifts or care about spelling or who doesn't celebrate Christmas.

He cares about people. Relationships. LIFE.

And so should we.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

cut short

Things are going okay in the Stephens household.

After surviving 12 days of everyone being sick with an icky cold, we are finally on our way to recovery!

The worst things about being sick are the sleepless nights, and the messy house that is a result of being too sick or tired to care about.

And as I type I hear a little tot, waking early from her nap, crying out, "Mommy," in the most sweet pathetic little voice.

That's my cue!

Friday, November 4, 2011

How do you LOVE?

wow....its been a tough week. Or two. I've been wanting to blog, but I haven't really been able to sit down and clear my mind for a while. Tonight, I'm choosing to do that over sleep, which I am sure I will regret tomorrow.

The feeling of "deployment" is finally settling in. Its been about 3 weeks, and I'm finally starting to feel exhausted. Single parenting is no fun....its no easy thing!

In the military, I've heard people say that "deployments will either make you or break you," when it comes to marriages. Unfortunately, I've had friends whose spouses cheated during their deployments, which eventually led to them divorcing.

And it's so sad, when things like this happen.


I'm going to say this, and I don't care if it offends anybody.


IF you have cheated on your spouse, then you are selfish! Shame on you! Cheating is selfish, but mostly cheating is NOT love. And whats more....cheating will break up your family! If you choose to cheat, then you choose to not only leave your wife, but your children....


Cheating is the single, most disgusting, most divisive thing you can to do your family.


I realize that those are some pretty strong thoughts.

But, its hard to be lukewarm on this, because I have a few very close friends who have gone through this. I also have a few not so close friends who have confided in me about this.....


This week Kim Kardashian has been all over the news. You know what for! But, if you have been living under a rock, click here to catch up.


I can't even imagine how it is for celebrities, who must live such surreal lives. When you have "yes" people all around you, when you are so incredibly rich.....Its no wonder that celebrities always date other celebrities or other rich people. And its no wonder that there are SO many celebrity divorces, when a famous career is typically the first priority.

Anyhow, Kim Kardashian is all over the news, and I am just so glad I'm not her. Even though she has a reality show, no one wants to live their WORST moments on TV. I know I wouldn't!

And, you know, Kim Kardashian is an incredibly beautiful young woman. She had a fairytale wedding, and dreamed of a "happily ever after."

And she is NOT the only one out there who dreams of that. How many of us, as little girls, dreamed about what our "knight in shining armor" would look like?

On our wedding days, did we not say our vows and blissfully imagine that we were living our own fairy tale?

And, lastly, how many of us were disheartened....learning that love is not a fairy tale, the knight in shining armor does not exist, and "happily ever after" is not as simple as it sounds?"

Some of you have never really struggled within your marriage. That's great!

But, most of us will. Whether its financial, personality conflicts, trust....distance, children.....

There are life events that happen that change us. They change our character...and actually, they refine our character.

How many of us ran into an ex, and came away saying, "He/she hasn't changed at all!" And, you say this in a negative way....

Meanwhile, men always say that they want a woman who never changes!

But we all HAVE to change to become a better person, a better wife or husband, and a better mother or father.

And I will confess, that Chris and I have had our own struggles. The past 1.5 years were incredibly hard on us. We went through A LOT. We are still going through some of the A LOT. We had some of our worst arguments ever....


And I mean arguments where we both wondered, inside and even out loud, if our marriage would survive, with love intact. If we would give up on each other. These were times that were so overwhelming, that it would have been easier to run away than to forgive and rebuild.


Ladies, daughters, friends and sisters! Marriage is not a fairytale because fairy tales do not exist.


Do you know what really exists?

Sacrifice. Forgiveness. Keeping your big mouth shut when its important. Patience. Heartache. Pure, indescribable JOY. Perseverance. Weariness. HOPE.

Out of these characteristics come LOVE. ( Those are just a few characteristics, by the way)

Yes! Real, true, gotta have it, love! Which is actually flexible, actually CAN be broken, and actually is not always romantic.

You see, real love, CAN be disrespected. It CAN be broken. It can be thrown on the ground, break it into a million pieces, turn it to dust, and fly away into the wind.

But it will NEVER disappear. LOVE always finds its way back. Love always heals, and it ALWAYS repairs the wounds of the soul.

Love is the greatest gift we can give one another. It can consume a a raging fire and melt a heart of stone.

It can survive in the most desperate of circumstances.

Love is a constant. Always adapting, yet never changing. Love is not just a desire, but a basic NEED.

Love, it endures.


Who do you love? Better yet, how do you love?


Chris and I aren't perfect...we can be mean to each other, and we are, at times. We know how to hurt one another - we know each others weak points. We struggle, and thankfully, have been refined by our struggles.


I have taken away a lot from the past 1.5 years. And one idea I have taken is this....


I cannot control a single darn thing. I cannot control what happens to me, what has happened to me or what will happen to me.

So, instead, I will become an author. I will write my story, just the way it is - just the way it happened.

I will NOT quit.

When the past and present is written, I will continue to write.

Because although I cannot control what happens, I CAN control HOW I react.

I can react and survive with indiscriminate grace. I can choose to persevere and to fight for what is mine. I can choose to forgive. I can choose to love myself. I can choose to LIVE. I can choose JOY!

I will write page, after page, after page, of my own love story.

And ultimately, LOVE, will be my reward.



If God is love, and love is of God ( 1 John 4: 7-8 )...then shouldn't we all take it WAY more seriously. Shouldn't we actually talk about it? And isn't our love for our spouses and children a direct reflection of our relationship with GOD?

Ooooh, now that's kind of scary. More than that...its downright honest AND a whole other blog post.

But seriously, let us allow LOVE into our lives. Let us fill up on love and let love POUR into the lives of others. Because in this way, ALL will reap love's harvest.


Today, I saw a quote from Misty Edwards, singer, songwriter, musician and member of IHOP (International House of Prayer). She said:

" Love, loves to love, and the reward of love, is love."

Simply said. Simply true. Powerful. And from that quote, this blog was inspired!




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

quick update

It has been 2 weeks since Chris has gone.

I've been busy, and the few moments that I haven't been busy, I've chosen sleep over blogging. Can you blame me?

Isabela has really been missing Chris. The past few days, she will say in the saddest little voice, "Sad. Sad Bella." She will also randomly say ask where daddy is, if he's coming back, and now says that she misses daddy.

She also has been saying that all her toys are sad, even disney princess Tiana is sad!

My poor sweet girl. She really is having a hard time missing daddy this week. She has been asking to sleep with me on some nights, and I'm definitely allowing her. I want to give her as much security as I can. We still have a long way to go before daddy comes back!

She also has been having some very extreme meltdowns on very tiny things! Like putting on her diaper before bedtime or even putting on her pajamas! Its SO frustrating....she absolutely has to wear a diaper at night. But I have tried to let her feel like she has a little control over her life by letting her wear whatever she wants to bed, even if it is nothing. I will turn on the heat, add extra blankets , and resort to waiting til she is passed out to sneak some jammies on her, if I have to.

Because at the end of the day, I'm incredibly exhausted. Its really not that important of an issue. Especially because we are in the South, and its still in the 60's at night, and will NEVER get as cold as Iowa did at night.

I have been trying to keep Isabela busy, but at least one day out of the week, I am SO tired, so we just end up staying inside, watching movies, coloring, doing crafts for the day. I feel bad on those days, and am going to try and push myself to stay active....even on those extremely tired, exhausting days.

It has been utterly amazing to have Dad and Even live so close. On the weekends, its just a great mental burden lifted, in a way, when they are here. Isabela loves her Lola, and Lola and Isabela will play for a while, and my mind just gets a rest from toddler play and all things toddler for a while!

Last week, I woke up on Sunday and Even had cleaned the bathroom and folded my laundry for me! Isn't that amazing! Also, Dad filled my van up with gas for me the other day, too. It is just so nice to have the support of family nearby! Dad and Even, Chris and I love you, and are so thankful to have you!

I am hoping that after halloween, the rest of the holidays come and go quickly. Christmas is my all time favorite, and Isabela loves it too! I'm excited to start decorating, when the time is right, and to have something new and fresh in the house for Isabela to enjoy.

More to come later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let it Rain!

It rained last night!

I am so thankful for the beautiful, nourishing, RAIN! We needed it SO bad!


So, Isabela has been waking up ALOT at night. This is her way of missing her dad, I think. Last night, she crawled into the bed with me, and just passed out right away! I think she definitely feels a void, wakes up feeling sad, and just wants to be next to mommy.

Since its been a while since we have coslept, I don't exactly enjoy it anymore. Little tot just takes up the whole bed, and she kicks hard! I don't sleep as well, but at the same time, I know she needs this reassurance during the night, so its ok.

So, last night was another one of those nights, except this time, she actually asked for some water, and as she was drinking it on the couch, she fell asleep. I carried her back to her room, and then it started raining. After the first thunder, I hear her jump out of bed, run to my room, saying, "mommy, whats that? whats that, mommy?"

It was so darn cute! I told her about rain, thunder and lightening, and around 0300 she finally fell back asleep.

And then, I couldn't sleep! I started to miss Chris and just thought about how this separation is SO much harder on him. It has to be. Poor hubs!

I had my alarm set at 0600, but I turned it off and let myself sleep in til 0730, which is what time Isabela gets up.

And, I'm SO tired!

Here is to coffee, an early bedtime tonight, and sweet cuddles from my cutey dreamgirl, Isabela. All of which I need....all of which will make this time away from hubs much easier!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

4 days later

The worst part of the deployment process, to me, is the in between.

Typically, you fly out of your home base, probably have a layover somewhere, then fly to a naval base, or army base, then fly to your port call, then fly out of the country.

And from there, you might stop in 1,2,3,4, or even 5 countries in between, picking up others who are deploying or pcsing, and dropping the other's off!

And whats more, your countdown can't even start until you sign into your deployment base.

Ughhhhh.

Luckily, my husband only has 1 stop in between this time. Last time he went, he stopped in Ireland, Italy, Germany, Bahrain, and somewhere in Africa before flying into Iraq.
But, also, last time, he deployed with the army!

So this time, should be a lot better, for all of us.

Isabela is doing well. She doesn't understand, although I tried my best to explain things to her. She has asked for daddy once or twice, and then she will say right after, "daddy bye bye. daddy coming?"

And then I will try to re-explain while giving hugs and kisses and loves. Luckily, I don't work, so Isabela is very used to spending all day with me. I think if Chris and I both worked and she came home to both of us at the same time, it would be a lot harder on her.


However, I know she is starting to experience some emotions, and she doesn't know what they are, how to deal with them, and how to communicate them. This has resulted in meltdowns from the tiniest things, a lot of night wakings, and even further regression with potty training.

Already. I am SO thankful for technology. We have so many videos we recorded of her and Chris, books with his voice recorded into it, pictures, etc.

Last night, we were able to video chat, and Isabela was happy, but not really paying Chris any attention. BUT, as soon as we closed out our chat, Isabela said in the saddest voice, "mommy!", and started crying, so I called him back really quick, and let them say love you's and miss you's and bye byes. I think it helped significantly, as she seemed a lot happier afterwards.

Today, we are going to keep with our plan of waking up early, early morning cartoons, playtime outside, art and crafts time, dance time, and maybe some park time before nap time. And we are gonna try and stay really busy, so little girl can be in bed early again tonight.

One thing I was a little fearful of was night times. I thought, as soon as Isabela goes to sleep, I would feel so immensely lonely and sad and would be unable to sleep. But lately, as soon as night time comes around, I'm SO exhausted. All I can think about is closing my eyes and re-energizing for the next day!

And I have felt such a peace in my heart. I feel all of your prayers, and I know my friend, Mandy, as been specifically praying for peace, and God has answered her prayers!

This past couple of days has been exhausting, but its been better than I thought. I am so thankful I have my sweet tiny tot to keep me company, make me giggle, and bring out the joy in me!

More to come later!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gone.

And just like that....he's gone.

The moment finally came.

Yesterday, Chris and Isabela went on their final daddy daughter date. I was doing some light cleaning, and it finally hit me. I thought, "This is actually happening!"

It sucks so bad.

If we were childless, it wouldn't be so bad. I would miss him, and he would miss me....but somehow, it just wouldn't be so bad.

I don't fear being the lone parent for 6 months. I am not looking forward to future possible sick episodes. I pray that Isabela doesn't get sick for 6 months!

I fear the transition more. Knowing that Isabela will miss her daddy, but will be unable to communicate that with me. Trying to explain this in a way a 2 year can understand, but know that it's really impossible to do so. Knowing that the next time Isabela sees a man in uniform, she will get so excited, thinking that man might be daddy....

That's what breaks my heart.

What breaks my heart even more is knowing how hard this will be on Chris. This morning, I vowed to myself that I would be strong....that I would NOT cry until later. But as I watched Chris kiss Isabela goodnight. Not just once, but twice....

I just couldn't help but shed some tears. For what she does not understand. For what Chris will be going through the next 6 months. For the loss and separation we all will have.

The past several days, none of my blog posts were intended to make anyone feel sorry for us.
The only intention I have has been to vent the overwhelming emotions that have been consuming me.

In return, I have received so many responses offering support, encouragement, and love.
I am SO thankful for each and every person who went out of their way to email me and call me.


We will make it through! We will stay busy and hope that these next 6 months FLY by.

I will definitely be blogging more often, per request from my hubs and for my own sanity.


I still can't believe he's gone......day 1.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A new season

Today, Chris put a bunch of files on our laptop that he found in several thumb drives.

As I was looking through them, I found some mp3 files and video files of the LifePointe worship team I used to be a member of, and had some fun watching them and reminiscing.

Until....I saw this one video.

First of all, I absolutely LOVE Misty Edward's song, "You Won't Relent." Its beautiful, from scripture, and her voice, piano and guitar sound amazing.

Here it is:


Well, co-worship leader, Nick, and our worship pastor, Robby, also loved the song so we decided to sing it as an offering song.

The offering song is honestly one of my least favorite times to sing during the service. There is a huge difference in leading worship than in singing during the offering, for me. One feels like what it is, a coming together of people to sing praise and worship to God, and the other, while still praise and worship, feels more like a performance, which REALLY intimidates me!

Anyway, practice went great with the song. I felt confident. I knew I could never quite do it justice like Misty, but I'm me and I could only do the best that my abilities allow.

We started the song off great. And let me just say, that everyone except me continued to do great the entire song.

I felt it coming. Right during the first part of the song where you really have to sing out. My voice cracked, VERY obviously. And...from there, it ALL went downhill!

It was really like a train wreck! Horrible! I felt soooo embarrassed. I knew that the first mess up was what started my spiral, too. It was like that one little voice crack kept growing and growing, and before I knew it I was breathless and just out of control, and well....just sounding BAD!

After that song, the worship team usually would meet at the water cooler before going back in to the sanctuary. It's usually there where we would offer quick words of encouragement, a joke or two, etc. I quickly voiced my disappointment in myself, and my team mates quickly said they felt I did just fine, and they felt like the first presentation of this song went well.

With that said, I went straight to the bathroom and cried! Aghhhhh.

I kinda laugh now thinking about it. Until I watch the video again and feel sick to my stomach!


Does anyone know how bad it feels to mess up in such a visible position? Singing is such a vulnerable thing....and even in a church, people are quite judgmental.

There have been one or two other times when I have wanted to run off the stage crying! I suppose that happens to almost everyone. I saw an interview where Kim Walker, from Jesus Culture related a very similar experience, and she has such an amazing voice! I take comfort in knowing that even the very best can mess up, sometimes!


No one is perfect. Striving for perfection is futile, definitely. Especially, when that drive for perfection alienates us from the things that really matter, like our family....our children.....

A lot of times, the underlying cause for want of perfection is the desire to be in control. We realize that we cannot control everything, so we do what we can to control and perfect the things we can. And, then, when its too late, we realize that in our quest to be in control and perfect, we are really out of control and quite possibly...have lost our minds!

Frustrated..because we can NEVER be perfect all the time, we realize how our drive for perfection is so completely STUPID. My little sister once wrote a blog about this, and compared it to walking on a tight rope....so right she was.


Not everyone will get this, because not everyone is like me. Or my family. Not everyone is a neat freak, or obsessed with organizing and creating places for every little thing. My husband is not like that. My friends aren't like that! My sister is, though! haha

There are always situations that hit you hard. They make you, or I should say me, say, " wow, thats really not that important right now!"

I am SO thankful that God continually shows me my shortcomings, and how HE helps me to be honest with myself. Otherwise, I would be a horrible mother, more obsessed with cleaning and cooking than playing and loving my little girl. I would be a nagging wife, all the time!




Where I am right now.....let say this...


My hubs is deploying and other things just don't seem that important. Instead of worrying about tomorrow, I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about being a family, doing FUN stuff, laughing, giggling, and being together!

I haven't really been attentive to housework, because at this point, I don't care. I just want to spend all the time I can with my family, together, while we can. Even if the kitchen is a mess, and the laundry is piled up, and toys are scattered around the house.

I always will have time to catch up. Right now is not the time.

Right now, I'd just rather not.

I wasn't really sure where this blog is going when I started. I'm still not!

But I do remember, from past experience, that deployments cause many a revelation. They reveal so much.....

I'll spend the next 6 months regretting lots of things.
dreaming of having a complete family again.
struggling to maintain the bond between daughter and father
waiting for that phone call....

When I look at those old videos, I feel warm inside. Even when I see the bad ones! They represent a very FULL time in my life. I miss that place, that church, the friends I made, and even our split level house, the first home Isabela knew. I miss the park down the street and the little day to day things we did to pass the time.

What a wonderful season that was!

I wonder what this next season will bring. I know what I HOPE it will bring..what I pray it will bring.


A stronger awareness of what is really important.
A renewed sense of how important verbal communication is.
A stronger foundation of trust.
A deeper love.
A closer, more emotionally intimate relationship with hubs.
A closer more spiritually intimate relationship with God.
A deeper sensitivity to the needs of my young tiny tot.

And much more.....

Here's to the next season of our life. Although I am not excited to be apart from my hubs, I welcome the challenges this season of life will bring.

I can do anything in the Lord.....the JOY of the Lord is my strength!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sometimes, you just gotta wear diamonds!


We rarely have a date night.

So, when we do, it's pretty exciting.

This past Saturday, we were able to go on one last date before Chris deploys. It was such a bittersweet feeling. Bitter, because he is leaving, sweet, because dates are always sweet!

As I was getting ready, I felt a little discouraged. Being a stay at home mom, for us, means we have to budget. And rarely does that budget allow for new clothing or accessories. However discouraged I can feel about that, I wouldn't give up staying at home with my tot for anything!

Even so, sometimes little things can make an outfit seem fresh, new and up to date, and I managed to find something that made me feel very pretty (:
And after I was done with makeup and doing my hair, I realized that I had a dilemma.


After having Isabela, I quit wearing most of my jewelry for about 1.5 years. I had certain, sturdier pieces, I would wear at times, but most of it was too delicate. And finally, when I felt like I would be able to wear some of it without Isabela ripping it from me, I realized that my taste had changed quite a bit.

No longer was I the childless wild child! I needed more classic, unique pieces, rather than trendy.

So, I gathered all my unwanted jewelery, and gave it to my bestie Stacy. She was VERY happy about this!

And after that, I kind of forgot that I was supposed to slowly accumulate more.

So, there I was, looking at the few , not so cute pieces that I have, and it hit me.....


I have diamonds!


Diamonds, that I have been fearful to wear for so long, knowing that Isabela, who loves all things sparkle, would immediately tear these diamonds from my neck, gleefully wanting them for herself!

My husband bought me my first diamond necklace. It was our first Valentine's day together, and I remember feeling blown away! No man had ever spent that much money on me - I hadn't even spent that much money on me before!

After that, my dear husband bought me another diamond, in the form of an engagement ring!
And, after marriage, there was even more!

Diamonds are ALWAYS the perfect gift.


And I as looked into my little jewelry box ( its not like I have a safe people, come on!), I thought what these diamonds mean to me...

Romance
Awe.
Sparkle.
A display and gesture of love, all wrapped up into a tiny box.

At the same time, these diamonds represent better, or lets say easier, financial times. When we were duel military, with no kids, and saving ALOT of money, way more than we can now.

But even more, these diamonds remind me of my husband. Who loves me and has sacrificed so much for our family. A man of few words, these were his way of expressing his love for me.

There are some occasions that are more special than others.
an anniversary
a wedding
a baby
deployment homecomings!

All special and significant. Moments in life that are captured and engraved into our hearts.

But there are other occasions in between. Maybe these don't get the attention of our families and friends. Maybe they seem silly or mundane to others. And, maybe, we, ourselves, don't even understand them.

But these occasions, like the date night, still hold significance in our lives. They give us a time to refresh. To re-bond. To remember why we love each other, and who we are, besides a mom and dad.

Sometimes, nights like this demand sparkle. Whether its diamonds, the glamor of a trendy restaurant, or the rarity of just being alone together.....

The sparkle is what makes it special.

And, this girl loves sparkle.


Sometimes, you just have to wear your diamonds. My bestie, Stacy, would say, "NO, Alicia, ALL the time!"

And, maybe she's right.

But for us "sometimes girls", this one is for you. May your frumpy ( your not, but just feel that way!) , mom to a toddler, ( making sure to wear print during an outing in case your tot spills something on you, wipes a booger on you ( yes that happens!), drools on you, or even worse, throws up on you, ) everyday practical clothes wearing ( because how else would you run, chase, climb on playgrounds with your toddler, and play jump on mommy), version of you be temporarily forgotten.

May we all have the luxury of date nights, please!

And lastly, may we all come home, completely refreshed, to sleeping children, who do NOT wake up until morning!

Yes, please!

Here is a video, in honor of date nights.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Memory montage

Sometimes, you come across old pictures, and cannot resist the urge to share them!

You think, " I can't believe I was that skinny! I was on a diet then!"

Or, " What was I thinking, wearing that outfit!"

But, especially, " Man, those were good times!"

Here is a collage I made from old photos I found on my computer:









Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A confession of vanity.

I certainly don't think I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.
I never have.

But, I've always felt that I was a beautiful person.

Inside. Outside.

And, I would like to say, that EVERY woman should feel beautiful in her own skin. Every woman should know that she is beautiful. Set apart. Unique. Worthy.

At the same time, we should know that our value does NOT lie only in our outside beauty.


However, in this world, its hard to remember that. Not only that, its hard to teach our daughters this, consistently.

A confession of vanity.

I confess, that with the emergence of myspace, facebook, google +, etc, that I have taken that picture.



You know what it is ladies. Oh yes, the one you take of yourself! Just your face. Looking fantastic, because no one puts the bad pictures up for everyone to see!

And with my self-promotion, I admit....

There's a little vanity involved there.



Last year, I began to have problems with my vision. It began happening shortly after our Portland family reunion. I started to see double vision AND started to have "floaters' in my vision.

So, I made an eye appointment. The doctor changed my prescription. But, it got worse. I went back, and since my left eye had gotten worse, the doctor changed my prescription again and referred me to an ophthalmologist.

Several months later, I was finally at the ophthalmologist. My eye had gotten even worse since then! The doctor informed me that this whole double vision thing had a name, one which I cannot remember. ( ***EDIT*** the name is "Binocular diplopia")


This is what happens when I see: I see double vision, floating vision, unless I cover one eye. It is very frustrating, makes driving to unknown places difficult, and did I say, um, frustrating!

Anyway, the doctor also told me that my left eye was starting to turn in a little. Yeah, turn in.

He asked to see a picture of my driver's license, so he could show me, but my picture looked fine, so obviously this "turning inward" thing was new.


As a temporary fix, the doctor put a prism in my glasses to help me see singularly. He told me that: my condition was hereditary, had been present most of my life (doctors failed to connect the dots), that the best option for me would be eye vision therapy, and that since I've had this condition for so long, eye vision therapy may not work.

He also said that there was a surgery but the success rate wasn't very good.

Then, he said that my eye would continue to turn inward, without eye therapy.

OH, and lastly, the prism would help me see single vision, but would make everything around my focal point blurry.


Out of all this, all I remember is thinking about my eye turning inward.

I was obsessed.

I kept asking Chris if he noticed, but since it wasn't happening all the time then, he wasn't noticing. I would notice it in random pictures, but it wasn't very consistent.

In the meantime, I felt so DOWN. My insurance will not cover eye vision therapy, we were in the middle of a move to our new base, and I just wanted to see normal again!

In April, it started to get really obvious. If people took pictures of me from a distance, it would seem as if I would be looking to the left, instead of at the camera. Because I delete all horrible pictures of me, I couldn't find an example, where it was really obvious. But here is a close up picture, where you can see that my left eye ( because its a picture, look at the right) is definitely turned inward.

It seemed that the prism in my lenses was helping me to see singularly by making my right eye more dominant.

And now, I can tell that people notice. My mother in law asked me what was wrong with my eye....and I feel embarrassed to say that this has totally screwed with my self confidence.

I feel like just hiding.

I don't want to see old friends. And have anxiety over meeting new ones......all the time wondering if they are staring at my crazy eye.

I feel like making my bangs cover my left eye, and pretending to be emo. Except my wardrobe is FAR from emo!

I feel like a freak.

If I actually let myself think about it, I cry and cry and cry.


Pathetic, I know.

Its this stupid vanity! The other day, I felt so stressed out. The vanity issue. Chris leaving. Not to mention, just driving, seeing, looking, is frustrating! Everything is either double or blurry.....

The other day, as I was reading the bible and crying, I kept praying that I would see myself as God sees me.

Beautiful, intricately and purposely made.


You guys, I realize that to some of you this sound SO stupid! I just need to get this all out!

I was reading online that people who have this condition experience depression and loss of confidence because of it.

Boy is that ever true!


I'm so frustrated with this though! I just want to wake up one day and NOT think about this. NOT notice that my vision is screwed up and not wonder how crazy my stupid eye is looking!

I'm tired of crying about this and wondering what the doctor will say next, how bad it will get.

Mostly, I'm tired of feeling insecure and depressed about it. I'm tired of letting my vanity in the way of my happiness.


I'm tired of playing victim.

I want to say that this is it. I'm done. I will never cry or be sad or be frustrated about this again.

But, I know that I will. I also know that I have to start dealing with this differently. I know that I have to talk about this with people. Ultimately, I know that I have to learn to love myself again...because somehow, along the way, I've stopped.



Also, I wish I knew how to turn this italics off, but I don't.


Last night, I was watching dancing with the stars. I wanted to see JR Martinez, a army veteran who was injured and severely burned in Iraq. I was stationed in San Antonio,during my years in the service, in 2003 and remembered hearing about him in the years following.

Here is a video clip from you tube. Please watch it!




His story brings tears to my eyes.

When I watched this, I just felt so dumb. This man is a HERO. He endured and survived through so much....I could never even imagine.

Honestly, veterans in similar situations can become alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless....BUT he refused to go that route.

Instead, he practiced a positive attitude, did NOT feel sorry for himself, and followed his dreams.


He is now, one of the most highly sought after motivational speakers in this country. I have never even heard him speak...but I don't have to.


His story speaks for him.

His life speaks for him.

His success speaks for him.




I cannot, in anyway, compare my situation to his or compare myself to him.

He is a real life hero.

I'm not.


But his story inspires me to stop hiding....to start living!

to stop being frustrated and upset over something I really just CANNOT CONTROL.


And, as I'm writing this, I feel ashamed. That this even matters. How.....in the whole scheme of things, can this even matter SO much to me?

For, I can still see.



I can still see.


Thank you , everyone who read this, for reading this. I have been very candid and vulnerable on this post. I know that in doing so, I am opening myself up for public judgement, and that is ok.

I love everyone of you, for taking the time to read this, for being my friend, for knowing who I am, who my heart is, where my emotions can take me....

for always telling me when I'm wrong, too bossy, and for loving me despite ME....thank you!






Friday, September 30, 2011

I tried

I tried, actually.

I actually tried several times to post a blog! But I kept getting "Error," time after time.

So frustrating.

Chris is deploying.

Soon.

I won't say exactly when, for his safety and due to OPSEC rules.

For a couple of months, I've refused to allow myself to even think about it. For several reasons, which are:

We just moved here, and I don't have any close friends here.

I'm incredibly sad about Isabela not being able to understand that daddy is leaving, why daddy is leaving, and why every man in uniform she sees is not really daddy. ( I will be avoiding the base as much as possible, bc she screams daddy every time she sees a man in uniform).

sigh.

I'm incredibly sad that my love won't be here. I will miss his presence.

sigh....

I'm afraid to be the lone parent. I know thats silly.

Holiday season, my favorite time of the year. Without my hubs. It won't be the same.


But, those are some reasons.

And, you know, its ok. Everything is going to be ok. This isn't his 1st deployment. I know I'm strong. I know I can do this. I know this.

But, it doesn't stop my throat from swelling. The tears from coming. The fear of the unknown. My stomach from tossing and turning.

I don't want our life to change, not like this. I don't want to try and explain to my 2 year old that, no, she can't go outside to wait for daddy, because he isn't coming home for a while. I don't want to feel that loneliness, in the pit of my stomach, at night....when Isabela is asleep and I'm finally alone, with no one to talk to about my day....or cuddle with.

I don't want it.

But, this is what I signed up for. Just like when I joined the military. I signed up for this. I knew what I was getting into.

I just thought that with each deployment, it would get easier.

I didn't think it would hurt so much EVERY time.


There is light at the end of the tunnel.....

I have two new friends. Stay at home moms, like me. Military wife's, like me.
Thank GOD.

And, I have Jesus. Lover of my soul. Who offers me a safe haven. Comfort. and Peace overflowing.

Oh, how thankful I am that I can unload all of this on HIM, without feeling the least bit of shame or guilt.

Keep us in your prayers, dear friends. I really mean that. Please just don't say you will. Please don't just say you will think of me. Really pray.

Thank you!