A new year and a “new day”

Six months ago I wrote about a new season, I had NO idea how much new this past year would bring for us.  I thought a new baby, new relationships, new perspectives and a new breath of life in our marriage was what I was talking about.   But new things have just kept popping up all year.  I’ve decided now that such is life.  I go through times where I hold my breath and wait for things to calm down, for ‘easy’ to come, for a break….for something.  I think now, for the first time, I understand that though that may happen, I can’t wait for it.  I just have to figure out how to live my life in the moment I am given.  And not just survive but really live.

Survival has marked a good deal of the last 6 years for us.  A sick first baby.  A super challenging second baby.  Rylee’s kidney surgery.  Major changes at Chris’ work.  Broken friendships.  Audrey’s kidney issues.  Painful choices of others that deeply impacted our life.  The list goes on.

If all my new year aspirations can be summed up into one, it is simply to embrace each day that is set before me, to choose joy and thankfulness above all else.

Last night we rang in the new year in the only way we could.  Folding about 8 loads of clean laundry while sharing a bottle of champagne as our precious little babes slept soundly in their beds.  It would be easy to see the lameness in that but instead I can be thankful for clothes to wear, for a husband that was sweet enough to fold with me until 1 AM, for a warm house, for the four little people God’s given us and for the new dreams we are sharing in.

We listened to one of our favorite songs last night, it rings so true for life I think.  The day might not look beautiful but we can choose to take what we have and delight in it anyway.  And in the end when all is said and done, maybe it was more beautiful than we’d thought to begin with.  Here are the lyrics for you.

Happy New Year!

rsb

Robbie Seay Band – New Day

If you’re like me
You need hope, coffee, and melody
So sit back down
Let the world keep spinning ‘round
For yesterday’s gone and today is waiting on you to show your face

It might not be
The prettiest thing that you’ll ever see
But it’s a new day, oh baby, it’s a new day
And it might not look like
A beautiful sunrise
But it’s a new day, oh baby, it’s a new day

I’m a pilgrim soul
I’ve traveled far and come back home
This land is hard and cold
For those who long to love
And I know it might seem
That the world is crumbling
But it’s me and you dancing in the kitchen at 2 am
And we’re still alive

It’s the calm of the storm that comes blowing in
It’s the springtime saying I’m back again
The clouds that roll by
Crossing moonlight
Me and you love – everything’s alright
Standing in the rain with nowhere to go
Laughing and we’re spinning and I hope that you
Remember this day
For the rest of your life
Me and you love – everything’s gonna be alright

And it just might be
The prettiest thing that you’ll ever see
It’s a new day
Oh baby, it’s a new day
If you look outside
To see a beautiful sunrise
It’s a new day

-Karissa

On the mend

Hopefully this isn’t jumping the gun but I think Audrey is on the upswing today.  She started eating again about 3 AM after about 35 hours of just a few ounces of milk.  I feel like I held my breath for a whole day as I waited and watched and really hoped we weren’t headed for another few days in the hospital that would this time include Christmas.

Between the snow and her not feeling well, it hardly even feels like it’s almost Christmas around here.  We haven’t done the homeschool projects that revolved around Christmas, we sledded every day instead.  Snow days aren’t the same either with a commission job instead of salary, definitely changes the perspective a little bit!  We haven’t done much of our baking either.  There has been so much change for us the past two months that I still feel my head spinning and it’s hard to figure out how to move forward sometimes.

It used to be a long list of expectations on our time during the holiday season of where we needed to be, now we have total freedom to be and do what we’d like to.  That is wonderful but still so different and strange.

Trying to smile.  Thankful for an eating baby.  Remembering to just breathe.  Comforted that Jesus came and He understands it all even when I don’t.

-Karissa

Laundry loses every time

Adventure downtown for a toy soldier parade and a pretend snowfall or fold laundry.

Watch our darling 5 year old dance at her ballet recital or fold laundry.

Spend hours playing in the perfect, fluffy snow and warm up with cocoa and spontaneous fun with family or fold laundry.

Trek out to Grammy and Grampy’s for a fabulous early Christmas dinner and presents or fold laundry.

Hide out in my bedroom working on homemade gifts for the kids or fold laundry.

Catch up on sleep for the first whole night (last night) since Audrey was in the hospital in November or fold laundry…this one is a complete no brainer!

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As you can see, laundry loses every time. Hoping you are enjoying the holidays as much as we are and can spend time on what matters and let the other stuff go for a little while.

More than a meal

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Karissa has worked with Step by Step, on organization that brings hope and health to mothers, babies, and families for many years originally as a Behavior Health Specialist and now as a volunteer. This last Friday night, Karissa and I had the privilege to volunteer at the annual Step by Step Christmas Party. What a treat this was for us. Karissa was able to reconnect with many of her past clients, hold their babies, and share stories about life. These mothers and their families came for a wonderful dinner which was served to them at their table. Along with dinner, came gift basket style door prizes, activities for the kids (face painting, balloon art, a cupcake walk, advent rings, cookie decorations, and even pictures with santa. For all of these families, this was an evening to be rememembered. Perhaps the best part of the night was the Toy Shoppe. Here each mother was given the opportunity to pick out one toy for each child in their family. These toys were donated by many different people and all were brand new. Not only did they get a toy for each kid (and they were some really good toys) but then there was a team of gift wrappers. Paper, scissors, and tape was flying furious, but you could not believe the relief and joy in so many mom’s eyes. I couldn’t stay out of this room, because you could tell that this was a room that brought so much hope to people who did not think they were going to get anything but dollar store items for their kids this year. There were many tears shed that night, as stories of desperation were shared by moms who for at least one night this Christmas season had much to be hopeful about.

Karissa and I love the organization Step by Step and if you were looking for a place to donate extra this year, maybe this is the organization you could give your time or your money towards.

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-Chris

Bittersweet

I keep hearing the pat phrases, “Change is hard, but so good”, “When a door closes another one always opens”, “Things have to get better!”, etc. I know those things are true and I see great things in the midst of these past few months but at the same time, words don’t really help make it better in the moment sometimes. Change is plain old hard. A closed door (despite others opening) is still closed. Things getting better means they’ve been pretty tough.

Like today. Helping Christopher pack up his office at church came at me out of no where. Was it really time? Was this really happening? Were we really moving on?

Tears now. We are moving on. For real. But this church home, this community of people holds so much of my life story in it. At the ripe age of 11, I first stepped foot at Northshore as a sassy, rather out of control pre-teen. One mom even dared to ask my parents if I could possibly be on drugs. I set out to go out with as many youth group boys as I could. I met a friend whose heart would be knit to mine to this day, in a way I could never have imagined. Many people loved me unconditionally there and shared the story of Jesus with me in the most tangible, meaningful way. My life was changed there, my heart was changed in the midst of a group of people that modeled Love for me.

In high school years, I turned away, dated a cute boy who didn’t go to church out of my rebellious heart, fell in love with him and he followed me back to church and we both found Jesus in a new way in the process. We came there dressed in our prom clothes the day after prom, our senior year of high school, having made it through prom night with not so much as a kiss.

A few years later, I put on my wedding dress in the basement and made a slow walk up the church stairs to come down the aisle and wed my best friend. 450 people shared that day with us. Lots of youth group kids and their parents. It was the perfect day.

I watched Christopher come alive there as he led the Junior High group for 7 years. We poured our lives out, had kids in our home often and gave everything we had to the students God placed in our path. We loved it, we loved them.

With great delight we shared with everyone that we were expecting our first baby and with great fear we asked for prayer when she was born early and was very sick. For six solid weeks, nearly every night someone from church brought us dinner in the hospital. The NICU nurses could not believe that we were so well cared for. It was amazing, such a sense of family, we felt so blessed.

We happily brought baby after baby Sunday mornings and often to daddy’s office during the week to be doted on and loved and held and kissed year after year.

The past three years so much has changed. Looking back it’s easy to see that our direction would change though it still was such a surprise when it did in September. What isn’t easy is walking out the door that is closing. Trying not to look back with tears. Knowing the people we are used to running in to and being around won’t be in our path in the same way anymore. There is something sweet and rich about being somewhere for 20 years. Being known, being remembered and being loved in the same place.

We know that the best is yet to come and that we are in for a great adventure. It is exciting to dream about what we want to do, to have the freedom to try new things and to trust that our future doesn’t rest in our own hands.

Thankful to feel deeply, to be turning the page to a new chapter, to have a Hope that never changes and to be doing it all with the same cute boy I fell in love with 15 years ago.

-Karissa

Confessions

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On my late night run to the fabric store for a few things I forgot that were still on sale today, I killed a bunny rabbit. I couldn’t stop in time and ran right over it. Rylee was with me. She kept saying surely it got to the side, it wouldn’t go under my car, asking why I was so sad. It was too much, I was sad. Two minutes of quiet and I felt better, nothing I could have done I know. If only my list had been more organized and I could have gotten everything this morning I wouldn’t have gone back tonight, thus not running over the grey bunny.

Just 45 minutes later on my short excursion, I was done dropping off library books and movies to Blockbuster and was headed home. Talking to Christopher on my cell phone (no hands free device mind you), I was tootling (if that’s a word) down the road home. He was funny, I needed to pee, I was laughing and driving and talking on my phone. Too much. Flashing lights caught my attention in the rear view mirror.

30 years. That’s how long I’ve gone never even being pulled over by a police officer. Until today.

Flashing lights…me thinking, those lights must not be for me, they never are, I’ll just get out of his way and get off my phone……yeah, not so much.

“I clocked you going 48 in a 35 there. Are you in a hurry m’am?”

I was talking on my cell phone and my husband is so funny and-“No, yes, I mean I need to go to the bathroom.” Did I really just say that?

Okay. Well can I have your license and proof of insurance?”

Christopher is going to have my head, he always tells me I drive too fast. And I always remind him I’ve never been pulled over. “Um, yes here is my license (mumbling about my tabs, are they current? like he needs another reason to give me a ticket) and some expired proof of insurance. Does it need to be current?”

“Yes m’am, otherwise it wouldn’t be proof of insurance.” Of course, I am a complete moron…who has been awake since 4:00 this morning…

“Oh, yes, okay. I’ll look for it. I’m so sorry I’m so flustered, I’ve never been pulled over before and I am just so flustered and …” You look like you’re 23, are you sure you’re old enough to even give me a ticket?

It’s okay. Just relax. Let me know when you find the proof of insurance.”

I finally find it, give it to him, he runs my license while I wait and try to explain to Rylee, oh yes, I still had her with me, why I just broke the law and drove too fast. That there are always consequences to bad choices and my consequence is getting pulled over. You know the line.

He comes back “I’m just going to give you a warning tonight, can you please slow down?”

No way, am I seriously not getting a ticket for this? If this were Christopher he would have been busted for using his cell phone, not using his turn signal and for going barely over the speed limit. He will not believe this just happened. I don’t believe it.

Now I get to explain to Rylee about second chances instead of punishment, how much more fun is that?

Hope

“The Lord delights…in those whose HOPE is in Him” Psalm 147:11b

For 2008 I asked God one simple thing on New Year’s day. No long list of resolutions. No lofty goals I knew wouldn’t pan out. No weight loss ambitions (I was pregnant after all). I asked Him only for hope. In fact, in was more like begging. I pleaded for hope in all aspects of my life. My marriage, my parenting, my relationships, the lives of my children, for my neighbors…the list was long.

It seemed like a big request at the time, but it was all I could utter. An unusually kind friend gave me a plaque that had hung in her kitchen during a really difficult time in her life. It had been a precious belonging of hers, a reminder of what could be. I have hung it in my kitchen now for months. It was at first a reminder of what was barely a light on the horizon. Then of something so close I could taste it. And now-of something that has filled the corners of my heart. I am overwhelmingly grateful.

In thinking about today, so many I know are so worked up about the outcome of the election. My neighbor is losing sleep over it. I realize I’m in a bubble being a stay at home mama, but I am an educated one who still knows the gist of what is going on in the world. I was up at 1:00, 3:30 and 7 AM today, feeding a baby and praying for the day and being reminded that my hope is not in who wins today and it shouldn’t consume my whole day.

My hope isn’t in myself, in any of the amazing people I know, in my plans, in a thought or ideas, in my circumstances, in my abilities…in who leads our country. It is in Jesus, just Jesus. He has turned things around and brought transformation and healing in places of my life I never dreamed anyone could. He IS hope to me. He has poured out grace over my life, every single day.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

Try this for fun!

Try leaving at 9 AM and heading out with four kids in the van to the emissions testing station. No line, answered prayer, we pass (good thing, tabs are about expired).

Then go to the Jiffy lube (after realizing the car is 5,000 miles overdue for an oil change, a headlight is burnt out and the wipers don’t work) to inquire “How long will this take? Can I wait in the car? I have four kids in here.” He quickly replies “It will take six hour and seven minutes and yes you can all wait in the car”. I smile at his attempt at humor and say “Really, I need to know-(my baby just blew out her diaper) we’re on borrowed time”. He promises 10 minutes, I start counting and proceed to change a diaper in the front seat of my car while listening to the banter under my hood.

“No wonder there is a light that doesn’t work, there’s peanut butter in here.”

“Can you turn the lights on/off (while changing a diaper)?” (6 times in 5 minutes)

“How many kids are in there?”

“You do the wipers…no you do it…no you do it” (I’m thinking ‘do it quick or I’ll come do it myself mister!’)

My kids giggled at these boys/men working the whole time, we were very entertained.

(Earlier today) Me calling my sister: “Is there any way I can drop off a kid or two (she suggests three) for a little while so I can run some errands? The to-do list is piling up and I feel like a nag every time I ask Christopher for help-he’s busy too!”

She graciously takes the older two and Audrey after our emissions and oil change adventure.

Kyler and I set out to conquer the list. He yells at me every time I buckle him in, “ME DO IT!” only he never does it, he just sticks his face in the seat and his bottom in my face. Nice.

We go to QFC to return rotten cantalope.

We go to Albertson’s to return a gallon of soybean oil, don’t ask.

We go to the post office to return something we ordered but was broken. Kyler pushes all the buttons on the machine I’m trying to use to get a stamp and it gets all goofed up.

We go to Central Market to get some fresh flour (I get flour all over my shirt and pants while grinding it-Kyler laughs and thinks it is hilarious).

We go to the printing store to make one copy for 11 cents to complete the application that I’ve been trying to mail for two weeks.

We mail the complete application.

I go online to renew the almost expired tabs now that we passed emissions.

Back to Danielle’s for lunch. Good times!

My favorite part? When people observe my energetic two year old darting around the store and marvel “Wow you’ve got your hands full!” And I get to reply “Yes, and I have three more at home!”.

Provision

I feel compelled to share a sampling of what we are experiencing and for those who are prone to worry about our little family, you don’t need to, here’s why. I read a quote recently that said “Don’t confuse your employer with your Provider”. How very true that ultimately God is the One who provides for us and many are the ways He chooses to do that.

This summer during our everything-in-the-house-is-going-to-break phase that we went through after hand washing our dishes and sopping up the dishwasher leak with towels every day, we opened the door one afternoon to find someone who candidly told us that Home Depot had been giving away free dishwashers so they stopped to get us one…likely story. It was a very nice dishwasher and though free to us, it was not free to them.

Along the same lines, a sweet young adult from the college group at church spent two days fixing our broken toilet and moldy bathroom flooring. I watched helplessly holding the baby as he scooped dirty toilet water out of the toilet so he could get it out of the house. After a minute of being at a loss for words I finally muttered “Can I get you some gloves?”. He said “That would be great” with a smile. We simply did not have the resources to fix this and I don’t know what we would have done without him.

Also this summer when the rat man came and AFTER he did his dirty work he told me he only took cash, I handed him all of our grocery money and held back tears. Within hours and before we even sat down to pray about our needs, God replaced the money in various ways and we did not go without.

Little things like my neighbor who bought me 20 pounds of tomatoes and wouldn’t let me pay her back for them, another neighbor brought us spinach and a whole chicken one night this week. These people on our street who we have finally connected with over our 3 years living here, they are part of my prayers for somehow things working out for us to stay here.

Big things, like today I went out to the car and there was an envelope there with our family’s name on it. I cried again (the 15 days in a row of crying only had 1 day off by the way). There were several things we were figuring out how to get squared away and now they will be taken care of.

I feel like we are getting a taste of the early church days, when people “gave to anyone as he had need” (Acts 2:45). And like we are being reminded that our needs are not unnoticed and they will be met in exactly the right ways-however unconventional and unexpected it may seem.

The most amazing part? If we weren’t in need, we wouldn’t have had the delight of seeing all these things done on our behalf. If we could do it ourselves, we would. But we can’t….and He can.

-Karissa

Those who love well

A great many things have been mulling around in my mind and heart the past week and a half. Life is so full of change and change is so full of pain and pain is so full of possibility. As our life changes greatly and we anticipate new things, I am still in the ‘change is full of pain’ part but in my heart I know I will get to the next place. As I’ve observed people’s words and attitudes for the past few days, one common thread has become so clear to me. The thread of pain.

One friend, not an intimate friend but one I’ve known quite a while, responded instantly to my text message Thursday that said basically this “I am wondering if you aren’t too busy today and are possibly able to come over and help me. I am overwhelmed with laundry and dishes and pain.” She was in her car right away, brought lunch, cleaned my disastrous kitchen, folded load after load of laundry and exuded peace and compassion the whole time she was here. Her pain? The one that comes to mind immediately is her time spent in Africa working among AIDS victims, she will never be the same.

Another young man who when I first met him he struck me as unusual in the best sense. He talked so fondly of his family. He was so delightful to chat with, so comfortable with our family, asked thoughtful questions and played amazingly with our kids. He seemed out of the ordinary to me and I was blessed by it. His pain (that I had no idea about until today)? His father died a couple years ago, leaving I think 5 kids behind.

Last week, when I missed a meeting I’d looked forward to for weeks, after all the kids were in bed I heard knocking on my door. I’d cried the better part of the day and was still in the previous nights’ pajamas. Two women who’d been at the meeting met me at the door, came in to sit on my couch and love me. One held my head to her shoulder as I sobbed for a long time. The other calmed down my confused and upset children. They both extended the arms of Jesus to me in the most physical, tangible way. They had no expectations, they stayed until almost midnight knowing Chris was working super late and I would be alone. Their pain? Lots of things-wounds from people, from loss and from deep struggles in their marriages.

Another whole family has showed great empathy and understanding and care to us. Their daughter cried on my couch with me this week too, another in her kindness and hugs made me cry at church. Their pain? Having to walk through something similar to us several years ago among other things as well.

Last Sunday, lots of people had no words for me, wouldn’t talk with me, walked right by even after making eye contact. But some people did. The ones who did, almost universally, were the ones who have been softened and molded by the presence of great pain. I have consistently watched myself change as year after year it seems, there is a different struggle, a different thing that makes my heart ache. It is through my hurt that God softens my heart to others and is able to better extend love through me. Sometimes I’d like to say, that’s enough-I don’t want any more. But the honest truth is I love what God does in my heartbreak. He doesn’t waste an ounce of it. He lets it touch the lives of other people in ways beyond my understanding. He always brings about good in the midst of what I can only see as bad. He meets me and calms my heart.

That I love. That I want more of. In my pain I want to continue to become one who loves well and can share His love in the most tangible ways.

-Karissa