"Complacency and indifference leads to unhappiness."  

This is not some well known little saying, just something that kept banging around in my head last night while I couldn't sleep. I was laying in bed next to Josh, being thankful for where we are at. 

When Ava died and we made it through that whole ordeal with our marriage intact, I thought we were indestructible. Maybe not indestructible but definitely not struggling. So, when Josh broke his neck, I remember leaning over his hospital bed, trying to talk to him while it was turning his body back and forth, and telling him, "We are going to make it!" I didn't really doubt this.

Until 6 months ago.  

So, after Josh got hurt, we were going on adrenaline for a long time. It seemed like we got closer at first. Then, once he got home and we were trying to establish a new normal, reality set in. It was ugly. I am naturally a very selfish person. I want what's best for me. I want what's easiest for me. So, when he needed me, I instead turned inward. I became somewhat indifferent to the struggle he was going through because I could barely cope with mine. When we were doing "okay," I thought that was good enough. 

It's not. 

It led to a wretched life that I could barely recognize as my own. One where my needs came before Josh's. Josh's needs came before mine. One where we were going completely separate ways. And six months ago, I was okay with that.

It seemed way easier. 

Except, that's not what God had planned for us.

I'm not sure when we thought it was okay to stop praying together or spending time in the Bible together. I don't know if I thought we could do this on our own, but I know we can't. When we stopped spending quiet time together, things went really south. Really south. Like Antarctica South. 

It's amazing to me that God can still restore a marriage that is falling apart at the seams. Even when, at first, I didn't really want it to. Am I allowed to say that? So much had happened that I wasn't even sure that I wanted to put forth the effort it would take to get things to where they needed to be. God changed that. He changed my heart and my desires. 

We have spent a significant amount of time in counseling and trying to learn what real communication looks like. Not what it looks like everyone else, but to us. It is amazing to me to start figuring out some of the core issues we had long before we even lost Ava. I am selfish, and as Josh said in his last post, he is prideful. 

We are ugly.

But God is working in us. I never want to be back to where we were 6 months ago. 

I like laying in bed next to my husband and feeling an overwhelming sense of love for him. I like being able to snuggle up next to him while he's sleeping and hear him wake up with a smile on his face. 

I never want to get back to that point of indifference and complacency. It's a dirty place, and oh so easy to get to. 

God delivered.

pride onion

Hello. This is Josh. Long time… no talky. ☺

I talked to a guy and a girl this week who recently lost their jobs. They both feel a little worthless. (A story that many of us are hearing or telling lately) I know a girl who struggles with drug use. I know a guy who rarely sees his kids because he doesn’t know how to talk to his ex-wife.

The theme in church yesterday was pride.  It was said that most (read “all”) sins stem from the sin of pride. Is this possible? With so many of us struggling daily wanting to be taller, smarter, skinnier, wealthier, what ever…  can it also be possible that we struggle with pride?

To be completely honest, pride has probably always been my sin of choice. I don’t think I’ve ever been the up-in-your-face-and-braggadocious type…  I like people too much to try to make them feel bad. But when it comes down to it, my personality likes to think that it can do X, Y, and Z  better than most everybody else. I guess there is an “I need to believe in myself” issue as well. If we’re going to do something and do it well, we need to believe in ourselves.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about us trying to work our lives out on our own terms.  “Sure I love God, and I will read my Bible some, and I’ll go to church, and I’ll listen to some Christian music.” But when it comes down to it, if God tries to veer us off of our own predetermined course, pride it rears its ugly head.

 After our daughter Ava died, I thought I did a pretty good job of putting my pride on the shelf. Then, after I was paralyzed, I thought I put my pride on the shelf. After all… being in a wheelchair and depending on so many people for so many things has a humbling (read “humiliating”) effect.

In reality,I don’t think that I let those things check my pride at all. It hasn’t been until the past five or six months that God has really begun to peel back the layers of my pride… kind of like an onion –  smelly.

Have I really earned anything on my own? God has gifted me with the skills and personality that I have. God saw to it that I was born into the family that I was. God saw to it that I was born in the country and in the time that I was. How is it then that I can get prideful about who I am and my accomplishments? I owe everything to God.

Beyond that, I am also prideful about what God owes me. 

I love working with my hands. I love building decks, landscaping, finishing basements, mowing, making homemade pasta, entertaining, grilling, working with electronics… and on and on.

I love music. I play guitar, piano, turntables, mandolin, harmonica… I love singing.

I love sports. I play basketball, I mountain bike, I golf (read “slice”), I jog, I lift weights, I sail, I wakeboard, I scuba dive, I play soccer… and on and on.

I love my family. I love throwing my kids are around and wrestling with them. I like camping.  I like doing Zoe’s hair.  I like playing catch. I like teaching how to make a layup. I like tucking my kids in. I like the look on Shelly’s face when she comes home to a clean house when she wasn’t expecting it. I enjoy fixing things around the house when they break.

But now I can’t do any of those things.

A person that I barely know gets paid to help me get out of bed every day. I need help taking a shower, using the restroom, cutting my bushy red beard, getting dressed, putting on cologne, and lots of other things.  Without abdominal muscles, I can’t sneeze or cough very well. I have trouble picking my nose. I can’t eat pizza unless it is cut up into pieces for me. I have to drink using a straw.

With society’s view of what a man, husband, and dad is… where do I find my value?  Where do I find my identity? 

Doesn’t God owe me more than this?

The answer is no… He doesn’t. I am just now beginning to be okay with that. I think that I am finally finding the definition of humility. It’s not thinking that we are worse than everybody at everything, but it’s knowing that God owes us nothing and being truly at peace with that thought.

Before you start to think that I am saying that I am unusually brave or insightful or godly… I’m not. I actually think that it is pitiful that God had to humble me in so many ways before I actually saw how deep my pride really ran. But praise God, he finally rooting it out at me! Yes!

I talked to a guy and a girl this week who lost their jobs. I know a girl who struggles with drug use. I know a guy who rarely sees his kids because he doesn’t know how to talk to his ex-wife.

We may lose our jobs. Are we so proud that we find our identity in our employment? Life may not be going the way that we thought it would. Does that mean that we will turn to drugs (or maybe other more PC addictions) to cope with the pain of not getting what we deserve? Maybe we have had to endure a divorce. Maybe someone we love has deeply hurt us. Does that mean that we will pass the pain down to our kids because we are too proud to make that connection?

Pride might be at the root of most of the sins that I commit, but I feel like God and I have finally turned a corner. There may be many more corners to come, but I am so thankful for the peace he is bringing me and the many many many blessings that He has brought into my life.

mother's day

So Mothers Day was the best one to date. I have had the joy of celebrating Mothers Day for 7 years now. I never thought being a mom would so vastly change who I am. I don't think it's even possible to comprehend how much your kids change you. Here we are, trying to be this light to our kids, to raise them to love God, to love people, and really, they are changing us. 

I was a special education teacher before I became a mom. I was always the patient teacher, the one whose students didn't ruffle her feathers. I thought this would carry over to mommy-dom. I was wrong. Seriously wrong. I am not the patient mother. I am always trying to hurry my kids. "Hurry, put your shoes on. Hurry, we're going to be late. Hurry, put on your seat belt. NO, not that way..." That's me. Not the patient mom like the patient teacher I used to be. I want to be patient, but I'm not. And then sometimes, I'm stupid enough to pray for patience (it IS a fruit of the Spirit) and then God tries to teach me. The only problem is that to be taught patience, I'm put in situations where I have to practice patience. Hmmm...

I want to be the mom who is not always doing something. I want to sit and just be with my kids. But, I'm always busy, busy, busy. Gotta clean the house, gotta mow the grass (that's a new one for me), gotta make dinner. Rarely take time to make cookies (they make such a mess!!!) or to just sit and read books, I have things to do! 

Isn't that sad??? I'm pathetic, I know. But I also know that some of my friends are the exact same way and don't want to be like this. Over the past 6 months, I have seen huge changes in my life in these areas. Yes, I am still impatient and hate to make cookies with my kids, but I see the worth in it. I see how much it lights up my kids eyes. It gives me a charge to think of what little thing can I do today that I would not have done with them 6 months ago? My own little adventure.

When I became a mom, I thought my kids were mine. I bore them for heavens sake, whose else were they? After losing a child, my view has changes drastically. God has loaned these kids to me. They are His. He has entrusted them to me and expects me to be the mother he calls me to be. He wants me to teach them to love Him. When He took Ava back to himself, I thought my life was over. I never thought I would survive. I now know that you do survive. Even if you don't want to. You learn to put one foot in front of the other, to continue on. I pray that this never happens again, but I now know something that I didn't know before. God will sustain me. If He chose to bring another one of my children home, yes, I would feel like I was going to die. But the funny thing is, he knows how it feels to lose a child. He lost his son Jesus. Losing Ava taught me that God is all I need even when my human body and emotions tell me otherwise. No, my emotions would be no less. No, it would not be easier. But I know that God would get me through. I know that these amazing children who reside with me are not really mine, but a gift from God. What a Mothers Day present.