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summer vacation 2013 and transitions

I’ve always thought of myself as being rather “well adjusted” in terms of change and transition.

I’ve based that conclusion on the fact that my family moved around a lot while I was growing up (Texas, California, Florida) and I was fine. I missed the life/people we were leaving behind but I don’t remember ever feeling traumatized or paralyzed by the changes, and my parents have confirmed that I handled those changes really well.

Well, now I’m attributing that “well adjusted” characteristic to simply being a kid, and kids are generally pretty resilient.

I’m actually a total wimp, upon further review.

As an adult, I struggle with fear and anxiety more than anything else, and I am learning (ever so slowly), that life will continue to be a series of transitions and unknowns until the day I die.

I WANT to only desire what God has for me, no matter what kind of adversity or suffering that includes. But I’ve come to understand that I (selfishly) want a life that is comfortable. Financial security, physical health, busy but not stressful, with lots of fun thrown in too. But I know that is a far cry from real life in this broken world, and sometimes all the change (and my fears of the unknown) seem almost too much to bear. I would love to say that after walking with the Lord for so long (I’m 32 now and I was only 4 when I asked Jesus to be my God and forgive my sin) that I have rock solid faith that isn’t tested and that I’m not subject to my emotions and fears. Unfortunately, I can’t say that. I’ve come to learn that I need God every hour of every day, even when I don’t recognize that I do.

And these emotions that have been so powerfully unbearable lately? They bring me to my knees and God uses the way I feel to create total dependence on Him. I wish that we could learn as much about God’s love and grace when everything is going really well. When things are fun, and easy. I don’t like the fact that maturity is born through adversity, but I accept it. I want to have a humble heart, a teachable spirit. And I want to live for God, not for myself and my own comfort or desires. I think the only way to live this way is to really truly know Jesus. To spend time with Him and to love Him in such a way that this world loses it’s hold on us. Not that we are apathetic about our lives here on earth, but we realize that this is not our forever home.

I think we are of far more use to God when we have experienced being broken and in need of His grace. The illusion of self sufficiency is a total lie from the enemy.

We just returned from a family vacation visiting my parents in Fort Lauderdale and I’m an emotional disaster. And I do not use that term lightly. We returned 5 days ago and I have sobbed…literally sobbed multiple times every day since then. Those of you who know me realize that this is not typical for me. I’m not an overly emotional person and I don’t cry all the time the way some people do. But the last few times we have returned from Florida I have literally felt an overwhelming sadness that I cannot control. I can’t explain it and I can’t make sense of the depth of it. I mean, it makes sense to miss my amazing parents and to be really sad when we leave. But the extent to which I feel heartbroken…that I cannot wrap my mind around. I love living in Tennessee, and I truly believe it’s the right place for our little family, at least for now, and maybe for a long time. I just feel such a sense of peace and joy when I am with my parents and my husband and kids – all of us together – and coming back makes me feel so lonely and overwhelmed with life in general. Missing them, missing out on precious time with them, dealing with financial stress on new levels, weird physical issues, and now, thinking WAY too much about our oldest, Alana, beginning kindergarten next month.

Can we talk about that for a moment? You become a new mom, and baby is completely dependent on you for every little thing. For me, it was a very emotional time, learning to adapt to my new role. I cried ALL the time as a new mom, felt lonely, completely exhausted, and then felt guilty for feeling those things because I had this precious, beautiful baby girl; a huge blessing from God. But baby grows and you settle into a new normal. And you realize that you’re enjoying it more and more all the time. Baby is learning and growing and interacting, and it’s way more enjoyable than it used to be. Then a little more time passes and you’re having baby #2 and suddenly time is flying by at warp speed and your oldest is about to start kindergarten. What I thought would feel like a welcome “break” is feeling more like a new season with a lot of very unexpected emotions, more responsibility, and bigger challenges.

For this past year, Rich and I have been praying specifically about kindergarten for Alana. We knew that we couldn’t afford to put her in private school on our photography income, and the public school that we are zoned for was not an option, and while I was open to homeschooling, it wasn’t something I had a desire to do in general and especially not with a VERY busy two year old who doesn’t nap and a husband who needs my help running our business. So, we began to pray before bed each night that God would give us wisdom and direct us on this decision. We prayed for a few months, and when there were no real tangible answers to our prayers, we assumed that we would be homeschooling. So even though I was overwhelmed at the thought of it, I did my best to consider all of the positive aspects of homeschooling and to pray that God would give me all the focus, energy, and patience that I would need for that big job. I even began to meet with a group of sweet moms who were also gearing up to begin homeschooling their kindergarteners this fall. I chose my curriculum, but had not yet purchased it.

Fast forward to last month. Rich met up with his dad for lunch, and as they chatted, an unexpected plan began to unfold that completely changed the course of this next year for us. Rich’s father runs a business and they’ve been very busy, actually in need of an extra person. Rich was open to the idea of taking on this part time position to pay for Alana’s tuition. Rich called and learned that there was ONE remaining kindergarten spot at one of the Christian schools we had toured and loved. We both sensed that this job offer from his dad (and the one kindergarten spot) were testimony that our prayer for direction had been answered. Alana took her assessment, passed it, and was accepted. Everything was so fast moving and it was a whirlwind of activity the week before we left for Florida. And suddenly our school year is going to look very different than what I had anticipated. Ultimately I am really excited that she’ll be in a great school although I know there are fairly large sacrifices no matter what type of schooling we choose as parents. There are major time sacrifices or money sacrifices, or both…but we feel confident that God will provide, even if things are more difficult than we would hope.

It is on this topic of school that many of my newest fears have surfaced. What about next year? How are we going to afford school again? And what about the following years, when Sierra starts school too? And oh my gosh, what about college!?!? And the fear and anxiety wells up inside me again. But the simple truth is that if this is God’s plan for our family, he will provide. I wish my mind, body, and emotions would cooperate with this knowledge that God is in control. I think I need a deeper knowing.

I hear my girls playing together in the other room and I long for the days when my biggest problem was which princess to be. I get all choked up thinking about their innocence, their beautifully small view of the world, and their pure and simple belief in how much God loves them. Being an adult is hard. WAY harder than I knew it was going to be. And what scares me is that it seems to be getting progressively more difficult the older I get. And my emotions seem to be growing with age as well. But I know deep in my spirit that no matter what, no matter who, or when, or why, or how, God is the only true constant. He is the only source of peace and joy that can penetrate our circumstances. Regardless of these temporary troubles, we have eternity with Jesus as our prize. There could be no better news.

There have been a couple of songs that have really ministered to me lately, both of them by Matt Redman. One is “Never Once” and the other is “10,000 Reasons.” If you haven’t already, check them out. I like to play them and just let the truth wash over me and remind me just how small my problems are and just how big, and holy, and perfect, and loving our God is.

In June and July I’ve been reading through the Psalms, and there have been a ton of verses that have  impacted me more than ever, and I’m going to list some of those below. But what I’m learning with all of my emotion, fear, and anxiety, is that I have to continually give it to God, sometimes every few minutes, and constantly let the truth of God’s word be my anchor. Here are just a FEW of the multitude of verses in the Psalms that have been a comfort to me lately:

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.”

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37: 16 “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.”

Psalm 42:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”

Psalm 46:1 & 10 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 48:14 “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death.”

Psalm 61:2 “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

And since I could never add anything valuable to God’s word, I will be quiet now and post some photos of our trip to Fort Lauderdale. If you’ve actually read this far, I am most impressed:)

My beautiful almost kindergartener *lump in my throat*

I was so excited that this bathing suit still fit Sierra this summer since she wore it last summer and we never got any good photos of her wearing it. It’s my favorite ever. 

 

 

Tobi - July 20, 2013 - 10:04 am

Thanks for this beautiful honest post. I appreciate it especially from a new mom outlook. Sending prayers to you on this new adventure in your life.

Sarah Lashbrook - July 20, 2013 - 10:54 am

Hey Heather, this post really hit home with me. Dave said I should check it out – and he was right. I have experienced so much stress over Natalie starting school. We are determined not to send her to public school, not sure if we can afford private…and I don’t know if I’m cut out to homeschool. I mean, I like the idea, but…what if its a big fail? What if I have trouble keeping on top of it? Plus, I like the idea of a school community. Aagh! And we’re not starting kindergarten this year, just pre-k. I’m trying to trust God with that decision as well, but it’s definitely hard. Just wanted you to know you’re not alone!

Dawn - July 20, 2013 - 12:38 pm

Well, of course, I read it in its entirety. Your words are honest and beautiful, and I think often times people are afraid to say, dang, this life thing is hard. Then throw in the kids, finances, schooling etc. It can seem so much to bear. Adversity and challenges hone us and do make us stronger and capable of things that without said push, could not be achieved.

Worry is a difficult beast to control. Even with prayer. We are human and it is in our nature. Some stress is healthy, but again, extremes of anything are not good for us.

For me, moving to Atlanta was the worst thing I’ve ever done, and thank God that has passed. And although it wasn’t what I wanted, there were wonderful things, life changing things, that happened out of that unpleasant journey. Life is full of irony.

The girls will be schooled and everything will work out. I am certainly not a fan of the public school model and think it is broken, but I couldn’t imagine home schooling and not affording my kids the social opportunities necessary to grow. You do the best you can, that’s all any of us can do.

Love Rich, that’s your number one job, keeping mom and dad happy and loving is the best gift you can give to your daughters.

And for heaven’s sake, worrying about college now will not be productive. Take one day at a time. I am praying and confident that the college system will change. I read a staggering article yesterday about college expenses and how they have gone up 900% since 1978. This system is not sustainable.

And remember perspective – it is often hard to do – and I don’t mean to not acknowledge that what you face is not difficult. Nope! Each of us face our own struggles, some have it worse, some have it better. But they are our struggles and they do affect our feelings and emotions.

Sending L.O.V.E. to your beautiful family. xoxoxo

Meghan - July 20, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Precious post!

Lindsey Rodgers - July 21, 2013 - 12:31 am

Heather, I remember the same thing last year. Russell was going into kindergarten and laney turned three all in one week. I cried a lot! And those fearful feelings seem to creep in all the time. I do think the enemy whispers them into our ears and they just so easily take root into our hearts. Lord, let it not be so! Let me hear only your voice – the One whose faithfulness has brought me safe thus far!

And it’s crazy too, that we were designed to be comforted by our parents. I remember going through a similar time when I was in college and continuing for several years into my marriage. When I left my parents or they would leave me from a visit, I would spiral out of control emotionally. I truly thought It would never change and it would always be like that, but ever so slowly The Lord has changed it for me. I don’t even really know when it happened. Not that I never have those lonely moments but it is not like it was!

Thank you for your openness! You are an amazing lady pointing people to Jesus!!

Diane Rawlings - July 22, 2013 - 12:20 am

Be impressed!!! I read it to the end. And what a treat to see the pictures!!
When my kids were 3 and 5 I went through HORRIBLE PANIC ATTACKS. Me!! Diane “crazy funny woman” Rawlings. Totally out of nowhere. About 5 years ago for no reason it all went away. (If u do the math thats 20 years of panic) So what happened in between? Alot of limping. God uses us best when we limp. Others can get closer cause we don’t go along so fast or so self assured. That was me. I was in charge and nothing would stop me for sure! Well anxiety and panic sure can!
Daily daily daily. Don’t you think that ultimately honors the Father the most??
Imagine a child with a physical limp. How hard for that child to walk, much less run. But how incredible that the child will hold out his hand and actually try it again day after day!!!! We would be crying with JOY!!
I could say so much cause I was feeling ur pain as I read and read. And if u look at my Bible those same verses are underlined and starred and highlight in neon! They are true- even if we don’t always feel it-especially when we don’t feel it.
The Lord bless you and keep you and may His face shine on you and in you. Praising Jesus for you.

bonnie - July 22, 2013 - 9:47 am

such an honest post, i think all mothers feel this way some times. i also can relate to the heartache of not having your parents close by for your children to grow up with. praying for you and your sweet family. what a blessing to see his hand in your life and excited for what he has in store for Alana at school this year. these pictures of the girls are great. they are growing up into beautiful little girls, not babies anymore. enjoy each step along the way.

bonnie - July 22, 2013 - 9:47 am

such an honest post, i think all mothers feel this way some times. i also can relate to the heartache of not having your parents close by for your children to grow up with. praying for you and your sweet family. what a blessing to see his hand in your life and excited for what he has in store for Alana at school this year. these pictures of the girls are great. they are growing up into beautiful little girls, not babies anymore. enjoy each step along the way.

Lacey Ames - July 22, 2013 - 10:38 am

As always, I love your sweet heart! I recently posted this on FB: We have to remember that it doesn’t matter if we’re confused or don’t know what’s going on. Our hope is (or can be) found in something solid that we can count on. Regardless of how we see or understand a situation, He is greater…always. And so is what He has for us. Prov. 3:5-6
So it seems, even without kids, life tries to take your security away as often as possible. But that’s only because the prince of this world is continuously “seeking whom he may devour”. Isn’t it great that God has given us assurance and PROMISES that he is greater, and because we know him and are his children, that makes US greater and able to overcome. Not on our own by any means of course, but one of my VERY fav. verses in 1 Cor 12:9-10. It’s through our weaknesses that his power is shown. And through your display of weakness here, his power is revealed to others, as you tell them “here I am, broken, and here he is, constantly able to carry me”. Good job friend! You are doing wonderfully! LOVE LOVE LOVE you!!! BTW Ps. 24:17 is also a favorite of mine. (really good one for single girls! haha!)

Lacey Ames - July 22, 2013 - 10:55 am

P.s. check out Shane and Shane’s new album “Bring your Nothing”. AMAZING!!!! (they lead worship at ours single’s group @ church) The One You Need album is also GREAT! Particularly check out the lyrics to Without You. Chorus says:

Here I am calling out Father
Can you hear me, can you hear me
I don’t want to go without you
Here I am can You talk a little louder
So I can hear You, I want to hear You
I don’t want to move without You

Grace - July 24, 2013 - 8:15 pm

HI Heather,
This is Sara’s friend Grace.

I just happened to be on facebook and saw your beautiful beach pictures and your mention of a blog…so I checked it out. Thanks for sharing your heart! I know exactly how you feel (although Cora is thankfully 3 so I have another year to think about school). I have definitely been discovering and thinking about the exact same thing lately. It’s so easy to make our world view a worldly view…thinking all of our security is wrapped up in our financial security, our health…even our marriage and relationships! As soon as we adopt that view point the world begins to overwhelm us because we want to control it and ultimately we can’t control anything. God is in control. He is sovereign and he has a perfect plan for all his children…even if that plan is not what we would choose. I have been praying fervently-less of me and more of Him. That I would choose “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That my world view would be a christ(ian) world view, always. Or how else will I find any joy or peace in this world that ultimately can offer me nothing but He can offer everything.

Anyways, thanks for sharing. Always enjoy and honest post from a fellow mom…

Kyle - July 25, 2013 - 9:00 am

Unfortunately the only way our faith and trust in the Lord is strengthened is when it’s tested and exercised. We have to count it all joy knowing that the Lord is using our struggles to create the endurance we’ll need to make it through the next thing. “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” -James 1:4. The Lord uses the difficulties we face to make us spiritually mature, it’s hard, but at least it’s not meaningless :)

Pixie - July 26, 2013 - 1:28 am

I love you sister.

Rafael Graham - July 31, 2013 - 7:30 pm

When the Pastor gets up and proclaim that the Spirit of the Lord is here, why do I feel like I missed him. Can someone tell me what am I missing that I am not feeling like God is touching me, speaking to me and just looking me over. Has anyone else ever felt this way and what did you do to get over it. I actually envy those who say they have a close, intimate relationship with God because it is what I desire. I pray, I read my bible, though I admit that I am not diligent with it, I go to church faithfully so I am left feeling confused and abandoned, especially when others are constantly professing what God has said to them or done for them. It is sooo discouraging. I just don’t know what I’m not doing or doing wrong.

Teya - August 7, 2013 - 5:16 am

Hi, Heather! This is probably a very late reply. I saw you mention homeschooling as one of the choices you’ve had for Alana. You might want to check out this blog from a mom who homeschools her five children: http://teachwithjoy.com/. It might help. :)

God bless you and your lovely family!

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