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Rescued From a Life I Thought I Wanted

There is something magical about the trained ballerina. She is elegant, long, beautiful. She moves with effortless fashion and ease. She is graceful and composed.

The ballet world. This was a world in which I once lived in, more than half my lifetime ago. Not that I was all those adjectives previously listed; but I sure aimed to be. Five to six days a week I trained and stretched and wore out my toe shoes. I was there for class every day after school, and often on Saturdays, too. I loved it. I wanted ballet to be my permanent life. I was consumed by it.

I wanted to make a career of ballet, but there was an ever-growing tension in my home. No matter what it cost me, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. And yet my Mother was deeply opposed to the idea. She believed that ballerinas didn’t make much money, they were overworked, they often struggled with body image, and were sometimes placed in vulnerable situations. Not only that, but ballet, performed over a span of years, was hard on the body. We butted heads about the issue for several months. I kept praying and trying to convince her it was a good idea. But it was no use. Her opposition held just as strong as ever.

I remember writing in my journal, praying and wrestling with this tension as a teenager. How could my Mother not see how much I loved and needed ballet? Why could she not just give me approval in this one area of my life? I was headstrong, but I was also very much wanting my Mother’s blessing for my future career. So the inner turmoil raged on.

In the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I flew to Mississippi to join a three week long intensive Christian ballet workshop. I danced my heart out, made friends, and had a wonderful time. At the end of the workshop, I waved a sad goodbye and flew back home to California. But I soon discovered that something had changed. Actually, there had been a huge change in me! I didn’t need ballet anymore. I didn’t even want it! Somehow I felt totally free to move on from it– which was a completely foreign concept at the time. How could this be? I didn’t know, but I never went back to ballet classes or rejoined the ballet company I had been part of. I packed up all of my beloved ballet gear into a box, put it away in my closet and shut the door.

There was no logical explanation for this transformation in me except that the Lord literally plucked an idol out of my life.

So I walked away and never looked back. And I am so grateful.

In hindsight, I’m so glad the Lord listened to the prayers of my Mother, and not to mine. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a ballerina (the problem was with me, not ballet). Dropping ballet meant that I was able to devote more time to school and follow the pathway to become a nurse. I can think of a hundred reasons as to why I’m much better suited to being a nurse than a ballerina, and even though I don’t work a ton these days, it is a profession that I love and that has given me useful, practical knowledge for everyday life.

The Lord recently removed another idol from me (coffee), and the freedom I feel from giving up something as seemingly simple as coffee happens to be enormous! I’ve learned that the Lord both gives and takes away– and sometimes, the things He takes away are actually curses disguised as blessings. In the end, I have received a multitude of blessings by having these idols stripped away from me. When our lives are completely entrusted to Jesus, there is nothing but peace and joy!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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My Little Guy

My little Josh is quickly growing into a big boy. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s been really fun to witness. Parenting, for all it’s exhaustion and challenges, is full of wonder and joy.

Some highlights of this little dude who will be 3 in just a few short months.

-He is not cuddly by nature, but Mommy requires her daily allotment of snuggles with this guy and for all his protests, he loves it.

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-He is very happy when he is building something like this. (Of course, it must be built up and away from where little sister can’t get into it. Otherwise we have one very frustrated little boy!)

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-Thomas the Train, x 10,000. This guy lives, eats and breathes Thomas the Train. No need to say more.

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-And dare I mention books? We are always in pursuit of new reading material. Hanging out with his Auntie below.

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-Mommy finally got brave and tried out baking with a toddler. He loved it. Mommy… semi-loved it.

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-Playing outside. Those leaves are since gone from the tree, but at the time I would push him high enough so that the leaves would tickle his face and he giggled hysterically.

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-“We’re just two guys hanging out!” is the refrain I often hear when Josh and Daddy are together. Daddy is the BEST playmate.

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I must say, from 14 months to 27 months were pretty rough with this guy. We had frequent show-stopper meltdowns no matter how much we tried to avoid them. By several accounts, he was a “tough toddler.” But for several months now, we’ve seen this little guy really flourish as his vocabulary took off and his level of independence increased. And I’ve been happy to give him his own set of duties/responsibilities as I’ve watched him become quite capable of handling them. He is so different from his sister — he is focused, happy to be alone for long periods of time, delights in looking at every single page of a thick book, and loves his routine.

I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring. Thankful to our Savior for such this little dude. We love you Joshua!

 

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Moving Houses & A One Year Old’s Belated Party

I am very behind on blogging!

I guess that’s what happens when you suddenly decide to put your house on the market and move to another town? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Flipping the calendar back, let’s land on September when Rachel turned one.

We had a little party at my folk’s house (which is an hour away).

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Glad we got some pictures because I can’t even remember what we served for lunch. It appears that we had Mexican food!

Rachel did great and never shed a tear until nap time came around. She’s our social butterfly!

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Blowing out the candle (by Mom, of course). dsc_0651

Digging into her cupcake. Pretty sure that was her first cupcake ever! She loved it.

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That was followed by opening a pile of really fun baby girl gifts. This girl got showered in adorable clothes this year! Also, her Daddy and  I made her a dollhouse.  I got the idea from another blog.

 

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Then we stumbled upon a house owned by a friend of my hubby’s parents. The house was ten minutes from hubby’s work, on 1/2 acre, and close to a park. It was a little older than our current house, and needed some work, but it was also bigger. The house, because we’d forgo using a realtor, was actually in our price range. So we decided to go for it. We worked like crazy and got our house on the market in two (TWO!) days. It sold in 4 days, and what a HUGE blessing that was, because trying to keep a pristine house with two toddlers was nearly impossible. I found myself saying the most ridiculously thing to the kids, like “Why are you touching that TOY?!”

We we able to start working on our new house before we moved in (thanks to it being owned at the time by a really nice guy) and we scraped popcorn ceilings in the bedrooms, bathroom and master closet. Then we painted almost the ENTIRE house inside – ceilings and all! We got the carpet replaced (because there had been pets and it didn’t smell so great) and my hubby got started replacing baseboards (the old/current ones were foam/vinyl). Before we moved in, I chalk painted all of the kitchen cabinets. My father in law installed some new lights and fans. My parents worked like dogs too, coming over several times a week to scrape ceilings, paint, dismantle a deck, clean out gutters, paint some more, etc. In was a TON of work, and hubby and I burned the midnight oil for a couple of weeks with me leaving the house a bit after 5 am to work on the house and he staying after work really late most days. If I wasn’t working on the new house, I was at the old house packing and trying to keep two toddlers busy/happy.

I ‘ll have to post some before and after pics of the house soon. There’s a lot still that is unfinished. But here’s one of the kitchen (picture from before we bought the house):

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Today: It’s underexposed because at the moment we don’t have much lighting in the kitchen (it’s getting replaced).

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We had to replace the oven and microwave, because you couldn’t actually *open* the old dishwasher due to the old oven’s configuration (the oven’s bottom handle was in the way). The old microwave’s vent was busted, so we replaced the microwave.

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We plan to replace counter tops and the sink soon. There’s a leak related to the garbage disposal under the sink, so that will need to be dealt with as well.

And just in case you think our lives are like Pollyanna (which I’m sure you could say they are compared to some!) we did encounter some rough patches while moving! The night before we moved, someone busted the side garage door of our new house and stole my hubby’s drill and my father in law’s saw out of the garage. But they would have had access to the house too, because the door to the house had been unlocked. I had entered the house early that morning after the tools were stolen, although unbeknownst to me (with the kids) and was SO thankful there was no one here in the house when we walked in! Creepy! I also had a flat tire that morning that was repaired, but hubby got a flat tire a few days later and had to buy a new set of tires. And at the end of moving day, I noticed that our fridge was really hot on the exterior and not keeping up temperature-wise. It was also making an electrical burning-type smell. We lost all our food because by the time we realized the fridge was toast, all the food in the freezer had thawed. We ended up needing to buy a new fridge!

And tomorrow, we’re having our house tested for mold, because hubby has become mildly wheezy since moving in. We just need to know for sure.

There’s about 100 other things that need to be done at this new house, but it’s in a nice neighborhood and I love the house and yard. I don’t mind work in general, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. I like to have lots to do! Also, I am loving only being ten minutes from hubby’s work (as opposed to 40-45 mins) and all of the space here!

Hopefully we haven’t bought a money pit. I’m looking to the Lord to give me peace as we try to find inexpensive ways to tackle projects around here.

More on that later! Nap time here is over. May the Lord bless you and your week!

 

 

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Day 6, 7 & 8. The Sounds of My Babies.

This daily blogging thing isn’t really working out so well! I just don’t have the time. I don’t think I’ll be making a “commitment” to blog every day ever again… at least not while I have little kids at home.

In any case, I don’t think it matters a whole lot because the purpose was to help reorient myself back to a better frame of mind, and (thankfully) I am doing much better.

I want to jot down a few memories of my kids that I want to keep for a long time. As I’ve written often, Josh is quite enamored with trains these days. He’s familiar with all the different types (steam & diesel engines, and gondola/tank/cattle/hopper cars, etc.). We live really close to the railroad and whenever we drive by a train, he says in the softest, most adorable voice ever: “HIII trainnnn! Hi trains! HI TRAINS!!!” Then, if he sees the engine, he’ll shout “YELLOW ENGINE! TWO yellow engines! Choo-choo! Choo-choo!”

I go WAY out of my way just to make sure we see a few trains wherever it is that we go these days. Listening to that kid say hi to all the trains puts an instant smile on my face!

As for Rachel, I want to remember her ultra-high pitched laughter squeal. Ain’t nobody higher pitched than that girl! I’m not really sure where she gets it from. It comes out when she’s overjoyed (usually because Josh is playing with her) or when she’s hurt herself (in which case, anyone nearby should probably take cover, because their eardrums will never be the same). Her laughter squeal is one of sheer delight and even she seems like she cannot contain it. I hopes she never loses it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 5.

I just wrote a long paragraph about why today was a horrible day. At the end of my paragraph, I decided it was just a very long day, but certainly not horrible. Nobody went to the ER, and no relationships were severed.

In any case, I took a nap instead of blogging today.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Thank the Lord for a new day!

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Day 3. I’m Glad My Mother Let Me Fail.

When I was a kid, I spent about 75% of my growing up years outdoors. We lived in the country, where peach orchards mostly surrounded our house. We had a horse, a dog and two cats. We had a couple of neighbor kids too, all of whom were boys and around the same age as me and my older sister.

My mom would let me go outside and peruse the country on my bike or on our horse, Wally. I skated and climbed trees and built forts. I shot about a million basketball hoops in my neighbors’s front yard, and then in our own yard after I got my own hoop for my 9th birthday. The neighbor boys and I would build ramps for our bikes to jump off of and we would take turns flying over them on our bikes. My bike was a used but good quality girl’s Schwinn — a pink frame with a brightly flowered banana seat and “U” shaped handlebars. We built these ramps higher and higher and had great fun until one of the boys took a tall jump on my bike (I guess there’s no shame in riding a pink bike like mine you’re only 9?), landed incredibly wrong and broke his arm. Sadly, that put a swift end to our bike jumps that summer!

My childhood was a little messy at times, but I had a Mom who gave me guidelines and set boundaries and then set me free to play and master all sorts of skills outside. She was in no way a helicopter parent, nor was she ruled by fear. At the same time she was intolerant of disrespectful behavior and was constantly on me for my “attitudes.” She and I battled a lot over this issue until the Lord saved me when I was 12. From that time on, I remember very few battles with my mom, and my Mom still marvels at how much the Holy Spirit transformed me quite immediately following my conversion.

Now that I’m a Mom, I find myself looking back at my childhood through a new set of lenses. I have great respect for my Mom, who worked full time from home with 4 kids, one of which was disabled. I don’t know how she did it, but she carried on well and still does as she cares for my disabled sister.

She let me make mistakes and she let me fail, often. I still remember sitting on my bed in my room, sobbing my eyes out. I was 11, and I had just gotten kicked out of horse back riding lessons. I had my side of the story, and some of it made sense at the time, I guess; but the bottom line was that I had given up, and that I was stubborn. When my Mom came to pick me up from riding lessons that day, my instructor told her that she couldn’t teach me anymore. I was officially expelled. My Mom didn’t try to fix the situation or make excuses for me. We got in the car and came home, and I was sent directly to my room. Later, my mom calmly came in, sat down on my bed, and told me how utterly disappointed she was in me. I’ll never forget it, because I felt utterly disappointed with myself as well! I had to grapple with that shame, and although it brought a lot of despair at the time, it contributed greatly toward propelling me straight to Jesus.

She also let me fail in piano lessons (also kicked out), school (not entire grades, but in several projects and tests), and in friendships. She let me learn from my mistakes. And for a driven, people-pleasing person like me, I still remember a bit of the ache of rejection that came from those failures. But even more so, I remember the lessons that I learned.

So when I think back to my childhood, I’m thankful for my Mom, who undoubtedly had way more on her plate than I ever realized as a child. I’m thankful that I wasn’t ever coddled and that I rarely ever got away with stuff, because my mother happened to be incredibly perceptive (I just thought she really DID have eyes on the back of her head!). I’m thankful that she let me run around and play without hovering. And I’m thankful that, as much as it hurt, she let me fail. Because I would quickly discover that there was nothing on this planet but Jesus that could heal those wounds.

 

 

 

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Day 2. Not off to a very good start.

So much for daily blogging. I never got beyond two incomplete paragraphs (since deleted) because I got a phone call with that required urgent action, followed by my Dad visiting and a trip to Costco, followed by kiddo bath/dinner/bedtime, and then I went to work and ran like crazy to keep up for several hours. It’s almost 3 am and I’m headed to bed!

The good news is that God seems to have immediately answered some of my prayers. I’m feeling better emotionally. I was able to have good conversations with my hubby about some of my issues. And lastly, I’ve had visitors from family most of the week– which always encourages me. Thank you Lord!

 

 

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Day 1.

I’m going to try to commit to blogging every day for a month. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’ll try. I’ve been going through an emotional funk lately (how’s that for medical terminology?) and I need to process and remind myself of truth. It’s hard not to listen to accusing lies when you’re already feeling somewhat emotionally poor.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. It’s a real drag that I’m geared that way, because do you know what happens when you idolize pleasing anyone but Jesus? Misery, quickly followed by despair. I’ve found that I can let people down; I am capable of taking the steps to do what is right in my mind, even if I know the fallout will be rough. But then the fallout often feels worse than I had imagined and I quickly become miserable and depressed over it. I don’t enjoy conflict and feel like it quickly sucks the joy of life right out of me. I often feel heartsick over it.

So, I’m sure you guessed it — God is allowing these painful situations to occur for a very good reason. Clearly He is doing a good work in me! But it is a painful process. And I think that it will be until I learn to walk so closely with Him that I need not fear what man does to me. Even if it means loneliness and isolation (a big fear of mine).

Life has it’s peaks and it’s valleys. This is a valley, for sure. However long this valley stretches for, I know He is with me– not just walking with me, but carrying me along the way.

“So our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He has mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2

 

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Saying Goodbye

It’s time to say goodbye once again. In under two weeks, my sister and her family will be leaving us to live in another country for three years. They have lived state-side for twelve months, and we have done much of life together during that time. But just as we quickly adapted to incorporate them into every area of our lives upon their arrival, so we will just as rapidly have to adapt to their absence.

It’s a process I love and hate. I love having them be near us. I love having my nephews over for sleepovers, my husband being able to grab lunch with my brother in law during his lunch break, and my sister nearby to tackle life with me. I love being able to call or text my sister in order to coordinate plans for the next day or following week (it’s very expensive to call where they live overseas). I love how we cooperate together so that between the two of us we can get our grocery shopping done, our kids napped and fed, and whatever pressing need that may be on the agenda that day. Life–especially when you have kids, is work, and it’s great when you can share it with a friend.

As much as I love them coming, I hate that it also means having to say goodbye. Although 99% of me knows that life will soon find a purposeful cadence after they leave, I struggle. We weren’t meant for goodbyes, for separation. Living in community with others is hard work, but it’s also satisfying because it’s a little snippet of what life might have been like before the fall. Communing freely with God. Living in grace and peace with one another. Sadly, some live in turmoil and drama their whole lives, never experiencing this. Sin so easily entangles, but through His Spirit we can extend grace and love to one another. We can speak truth in love. We can focus on the log in our own eye instead of the speck in the eyes of our brother or sister. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

The following verses have been pressing on my heart these past few days. Maybe it’ll be my mantra for the next few weeks or months.

“‘Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:14-15

The goodbyes are coming. It’s a sad time for all of us. But we do not live as those who have no hope! So I won’t be foolish and dwell on it too much. I want to make the best use of the time. I’m praying for who the Lord might have me disciple or reach out to. How can I serve or bless? How can I open my home up to others?

May the Lord fill my schedule how He pleases.

In the meantime, goodbye dear sister, brother in law, and precious nephews. I love you guys dearly. You are never far from my thoughts and will never be anywhere other than close to my heart. You are doing a GOOD work and are faithful servants. You are always in my prayers.

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One Trip I Want to Remember

Since having kids, there have been entire trips as well as segments of trips that I wouldn’t mind too much if I permanently forgot about them. However, our trip to Monterey last weekend was definitely not one of them! We had such a great time!

I planned and booked this trip because my mom and sister rarely get a break from their busy lives and responsibilities. My sister returns overseas in less than two months, and she’ll be gone for over three years. A lot happens in three years. I wanted some good memories from their time in the U.S. to help me make it through their long upcoming absence. (I invited my little sister to come as well, but she was already booked for the weekend with other things.)

As it turned out, Monterey was a wonderful place to visit! I’ll probably come back and read this blog post in a year or two when I’m really missing my sister because she has been gone for so long. So I’m not holding back: I’m going to post a ton of pictures!

I forgot how pretty is was in Monterey. It had been at least 15 years since I had spent much time there.

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The first thing when we arrived was check out the motel suite and give Rachel a break from the long car ride. She had cried the last 45 minutes or so of the car ride. The motel was older but well maintained. I was really glad I rented a suite so that Rachel could nap and go to bed on time in a dark room and the rest of us could still hang out and visit.

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We made sure she got enough exercise in between being carried in the front pack, being held and riding in the car.

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If you ever go to Monterey, you should check out the antique mall. It’s huge! We didn’t even make it through the entire place in the 1.5 hours we were there. My mom treated my sister and I to each an antique piece for mother’s day, and my mom bought this giant metal bunny for her yard. (Sounds odd but it was really cute– you’d have to see it to understand what I’m talking about….)

 

Antique mall = stuff everywhere!

Antique mall = stuff everywhere!

After the antique mall we wondered around Cannery Row and decided on where to eat dinner.

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Dinner was really nice. Such a treat!

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We headed back to the suite and I put Rachel down for the night. My sister and I went on a walk on the beach (which took about 5 minutes by foot to get there) and my mom stayed behind and worked on knitting a new sweater for Rachel.

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It was so gorgeous! I wasn’t expecting the white sand like they have in Florida…

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There wasn’t much wind and surprisingly, despite all the rain that day, it wasn’t very cold. I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was.

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Back at the suite, my mom and sister headed out to buy some walking shoes for my mom (which they found for only $10!) and returned home with Moose Tracks for dessert. All of us went to bed fairly exhausted that night!

The next morning my sister took Rachel on a walk in the front pack while I savored an uninterrupted time in my Bible. After breakfast, we all took a nice long walk on the beach. The weather was so nice! It looked like rain was coming any minute, yet the sunlight was shining through the clouds in some places and it was comfortably warm.

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From the beach, we then headed into Monterey proper to swing by the antique mall one last time and then to fisherman’s wharf to eat lunch. It was fun to eat just above the water! This was our view:

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And then we began the long trek home. It was a wonderful time of good conversation, prayer, laughter and food (that I didn’t have to cook). I’m so thankful for our time at the coast and the ability to get away.

When I pulled into our driveway, I was warmly greeted by a toddler who was doing his best to jump up and down in excitement to see me and a semi-sick husband who graciously held down the fort in my absence. I am so blessed!

“The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”

Psalm 95:5

 

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