Monday, February 27, 2012

A Sweet New Friend

Another gift that God has given me in our new life in San Antonio is a wonderful new friendship with this sweet lady.

Rhonda & I met at La Cantera back in June right after Brady & I had been married. She spotted me shopping and recognized me from our blog and was nice enough to come over to introduce herself. Being that I knew almost no one very well at that point, I jumped on the chance to make a new friend....especially with someone as kind and great as Rhonda! :) Rhonda took the initiative to connect me with some of her own friends, she brought me along to her M.O.P.s group, she had the kids and I over for lunch, and we have met up for several play dates. I just love spending time with her...she is one of the kindest, funniest, and most thoughtful people you will ever meet. Even her sweet husband has stepped in while Brady is gone to help us take care of our lawn. I have been so grateful for the new relationship with the Huffman family. They are such a wonderful blessing in our life!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

June 2011

I have decided to do a little back-tracking with my blogging. Since it took us 7 months to get a blog up and running there are still some posts that I would like to include from the earlier months in our marriage. I think I am just going to do some monthly inserts here and there to try to not miss anything big.

So, here are some excerpts from June's activities.

This summer was H-O-T so Chloe and I decided to make homemade lemonade one afternoon. She LOVES sour fruit: lemons, limes, name it, she likes it! She thought juicing lemons was great fun and delicious!

One week while K & Zeke were in Granbury visiting with Nonnie & Granddad, Chloe and I met up with Dawnielle (Brady's stepsister) and the kiddos on the other side of SA for a swimming date. We were so fortunate to have LOTS of opportunities to meet up with family this summer. So fun!

In an effort to help me pack just before our move from North SA to East SA, Kendall (Brad Wims' cousin Krista's daughter on his mother's side) came to stay with us for a few days. She was a HUGE help with the kids while I tore through our house trying to pack as fast as possible. We met up with the rest of the Kerrville gang on the afternoon that Kendall left to go home. She was sorely missed because the kids got really used to having a super-fun "big-sister" to pal around with.

We had an exciting break one week with a visit from our cousins Callie & Ansley (Sara's sister, Angie's children). They decided to come to San Antonio for a trip to Sea World so we took that opportunity to join them. We are so blessed to have a new set of cousins so close to our children in age....what a gift! They all have so much fun together.

A few weeks after our wedding, my sweet friends at Southeast hosted a "wedding reception" so that we could share the celebration with our friends from Houston. It was so nice to have the opportunity to hug everyone and get the chance to introduce all of them to Brady & Chloe.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Social Sleeper

As I was tucking Kaelyn into bed tonight, she informed me that she did not like sleeping alone and that she would like to join her brother in his room for the evening. An extended conversation ensued as I tried to explain the reasoning behind why she needed to sleep in her own room.

*Side note: This is not an easy conversation for me to have with my children because I also do not like sleeping alone. It has nothing to do with being afraid but I sleep so much better if I am snuggled up right against a nice, warm, cozy friend...preferably Brady :) So, I'm not sure how convincing I am when I share with my kids about how they need to sleep on their own. Ha. When Brady and I got married in May I told him I had never slept better. I'm pretty sure he mentioned that he may not have slept as well since I insist on sleeping right up against him, pushing him to the edge of the bed. A complaint that I am pretty certain I have heard before. Some habits are just too hard to break. And some, I just don't want to.

Kaelyn: I don't have a person to sleep with tonight (downcast face)
Me: I know. Brother has school tomorrow and he needs his rest.
K: I will lay next to him and be VERY still. I will not bother him and he will be able to go right to sleep.
Me: I know. But it is also important that you sleep on your own sometimes and tonight is one of those times.
K: But you get to sleep with Daddy every night!
Me: I do? I don't see Daddy anywhere. I certainly don't remember sleeping with him last night and I think I would remember! Is he hiding in this house and I do not know it!
K: But when he is home you sleep with him EVERY night.
Me: That is true. But I don't ALWAYS get to sleep next to him and when I was little like you I didn't always get to sleep right next to someone. It is my job as your mommy to make sure that you practice sleeping on your own sometimes so that when you need to, you will be ready (I'm grasping at straws with some of this reasoning...right?)
....I need to make sure that when you grow up you are ready for everything....that you know how to sleep next to someone, that you know how to sleep on your own, that you know how to sleep in a bed or on the floor. I need to make sure that you are confident, tough and VERY flexible for whatever you need to do in life.
K: (smiling) Really Mom...on the floor?
Me: You never know....I just have to make sure that you are ready.
(whew....talked my way through that one and she seemed to buy into it) :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

On this Valentine's Day I am feeling especially grateful for Brady Sullivan. I am married to an amazing man. I am so grateful for the gift that he is to my life. God has blessed me in a multitude of ways, but giving me the blessing of our marriage is one of my favorite gifts!

Here is what I love most about him:
-he has a faith-focused attitude
-he is caring and compassionate to others
-he is an incredible father & gives great priority to the well-being of our children
-I love his integrity & his unwavering dependability
-he is chivalrous & takes great pride in protecting, providing & caring for our family
-he is attentive to my needs
-he is loving & inclusive to all our family (all extensions)
-he takes great pride in doing his best in everything
-he is a man of God

And, even though we are 8000 miles apart he still found a way to send me these yesterday evening.

I was surprised at how much it meant to me to receive them. I mean what girl doesn't enjoy getting flowers...but I was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY would have thought someone had just given me a million dollars the way I was walking around with a big grin across my face.

I have received quite a few phone calls about how I am doing emotionally on this particular day and I have to admit things are going really well. I was telling Brady on the phone this morning that I have reached a point in this deployment where each day does not take as much thought. It doesn't feel as strange at this point that he isn't walking through the door at 5:30. I'm not having to push myself quite as hard to go to bed at the vast emptiness of our king-size bed. I just don't spend as much time in my own head trying to convince myself to look at the postives in his absence. It just is. This is where are right now and it is our new normal for the moment. I am at peace with it (at least for today :) ).

Well, I did have a bit of an emotional breakdown two weeks ago (day 18 of deployment to be exact...everyone said the first 2 weeks are the hardest so I happily pushed right through those weeks and decided to lose it in the 3rd week). I may have been feeling exhausted (from several nights of little sleep), emotionally drained and frustrated and I may have taken it out on Brady via text messages. Luckily for the health of our relationship Brady didn't buy into all the emotional drama & didn't try to get defensive or hurt by my lashing out at him (sorry Honey). He did hear my requests for carving out time for more meaningful communication between us and since then everything has been going exceptionally well.

Here is the sweet note that Zeke gave me this morning.

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seasons of Life...

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

While spending some quiet time last week, I read a posting from Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby. These words spoke directly to my heart.

The beauty in the way God designed the four seasons is that, though each one is distinct, they all work together to bring life and growth. Spring is a period of freshness and new life. Summer sees growth and productivity. Autumn is a time for harvesting the rewards of past labors. Winter is the season of dormancy and closure. Each season has its own unique beauty and makes a significant contribution to life.

Just as God planned seasons in nature, He planned seasons in life as well. Life has its springtime, when we begin new things and look excitedly toward the future. Summer comes and we work diligently in the heat of the day at all that God has assigned to us. With autumn comes the fruition of things begun at an earlier time in our lives. Winter brings an end to a particular period in our lives. Sometimes winter brings hardship, but we remain hopeful, for another spring is just around the corner.

In God's perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. He will also build in times of quiet and rest. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God's grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God's grace, we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God's perfect will for each one of us.

Powerful words. I find so much peace in the fact that God is in control of every circumstance. As I look back at the past few years, there have been multiple iterations of "passing from season to season." My "spiritual track" has had its ups and downs.

Recently, as I found myself missing the family and going through the motions of a 5-month deployment away from home, I realized my overall demeanor was changing. I found myself getting a little bitter and was quick to get frustrated.

I do not find it ironic that I received this email (from "The Power of His Presence" by Ray Stedman) in my inbox this morning.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

We now have come to the third chapter, which describes the combination of opposites in our experience. Throughout this chapter the idea is propounded that there is an appropriate time for all of life's experiences.

There is an appropriate time for everything, the unpleasant as well as pleasant experiences. This is not merely a description of what happens in life; it is a description of what God sends. Many of us are familiar with the Four Spiritual Laws, the first of which is, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. That is the plan that is set forth here. All along, the Searcher is saying that God desires to bring joy into human experience. Many people think Ecclesiastes is a book of gloom and pessimism because of the findings based on the writer's limited view of those things under the sun, the visible things of life. But that is not the message of the book. God intends us to have joy, and His program to bring it about includes all these opposites.

If you look carefully, you will see that these eight opening verses gather around three major divisions that correspond, amazingly enough, to the divisions of our humanity: body, soul, and spirit.

The first four pairs deal with the body: a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Notice how this applies to the physical life. None of us asked to be born; it was something done to us, apart from us. None of us asks to die; it is something God determines. So this is the way we should view this list of opposites, as a list of what God thinks we ought to have. It begins by pairing birth and death as the boundaries of life under the sun.

Then the Searcher moves into the realm of the soul with its functions of thinking, feeling, and choosing—the social areas—and all the interrelationships of life that flow from that. Verse 4 tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. All these things follow closely, and they are all appropriate. No one is going to escape the hurts and sorrows of life is what he is saying here. God chose them for us. In a fallen world it is right that there will be times of hurt, of sorrow and weeping. The last six of these opposites relate to the spirit, to the inner decisions, the deep commitments. There is a time to search [for work, marriage, new friends] and a time to give up (Ecclesiastes 3:6). There comes a time in life when we should curtail certain friendships or change our jobs, for instance, and lose what we had in the past. It is proper and appropriate that these times should come.

All of this is God's wonderful plan for your life. The problem, of course, is that it is not our plan for our life. If we were given the right to plan our lives we would have no unpleasantness at all. But that would ruin us. God knows that people who are protected from everything almost invariably end up being impossible to live with; they are selfish, cruel, vicious, shallow, and unprincipled. God sends these things in order that we might be taught. There is a time for everything, the Searcher says.

Father, thank You for all the experiences of life that You have planned for me, so that I might be conformed to the image of Your Son.

Another posting on the same verse...interesting!

My experience along the "journey of faith" has been cyclical. As I look back at the past 15 years of life, there are spiritual highs and spiritual lows. I think it is interesting that when I was at the low point in my life (right after Sara passed away), I felt the closest to God.

As I read back through some of the old blogs (i.e. Bring the Rain, Refiner's Fire, & The Darker the Night, etc.), I can tell you that God was speaking through me. Those blogs came to be from experiences like this. I would feel pulled to the computer. I would sit down and my fingers would start typing - requiring no conscious thought. After I was done typing, I read back through the postings and could not believe what was typed. Never in my life had I been a conduit of God's word like that.

As I moved beyond that low point and embraced the "new normal" of life, I gradually could do more on my own - not being totally dependent on God to make it through the day. As I "did more" on my own, I "needed" God less. Sounds bad, but this was my experience. Looking back 2+ years, I am nowhere as near to God as I once was.

These two back-to-back postings have helped me realize that these different seasons are normal - and part of this life God has for us.

As I sit in my room, alone, half way around the globe from my family, I am making a choice. I am choosing to start the uphill climb towards another "faith peak" on my journey.

What "season of life" are you currently in? If you are experiencing the brunt of a harsh winter season, remember... "without the winter, there would be no spring."