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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Growing up as child number 6 out of 8 in a poor missionary family, not a day went by that I was not reminded that I was blessed, that I had much to be grateful for, that most people in the world did not have the provisions I had. I knew it was true, a lot of those people lived right around me. I am thankful for this in that I did not grow up feeling entitled. I didn't gripe and complain that my parents didn't buy me a car or pay my cell phone bill. I learned to work for what I wanted. But for some reason that thankfulness I was supposed to feel, just felt like guilt. Why did I have so much that others did not? And if I had more than so many, why did I want more? To this day I can not even buy a pair of socks or my weekly groceries without feeling guilty. Now I am not blaming my parents for this. Not all my siblings feel this way, but for some reason my mind has interpreted the want of anything into being something bad. Even blessings.

I know it isn't of God, and yet I can't seem to control my natural tendency to feel guilty. When I was young I thought that because I so badly did not want to be a missionary, God would certainly call me. Then I got older and wanted to serve God as an international missionary so badly, I thought surely he would call me to stay in America. I don't want to live in this house, so He will probably make me stay here. I don't want a big family, so He will probably give me 10 kids. I want to be a nurse, so He will probably call me to be something else. You see how messed up all that sounds? And yet no matter how many times I remind myself, that is NOT God! I can't help but believe it is.

Today I was listening to a sermon about the nature of God. The pastor said that God loves to bless His children, even though we don't deserve it. That it is literally God's nature to take pleasure in blessing His children. Why can't I believe that?? Why can I not trust that He placed the desires of my heart? That just because I may want something does not mean it will never be or that it is wrong? I beg God to change this in me. To teach me to accept His goodness. Yet so many times I am answered by this tiny voice that says I will never change.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trouble with Sleep

No it's not my baby. It's my three year old. He has been having trouble sleeping. I have been thinking that like most frustrating things, it's just a stage. He plays, talks, has to go "pee", is "thirsty", "hungry". But it goes on and on and has only gotten worse over the last couple of weeks. Even if I ignore the the requests he can some how stay up until 11 p.m. (or later) and still get up around 7 a.m. and sometimes even gets up in the night. So I cut naps short. I cut naps out all together. I tried giving him a short nap and putting him to bed later. I tried putting him to bed earlier without a nap. Nothing was working. Nothing is working.

The fact that I don't really get to relax at night is not what has bothered me the most. It's the melt downs, tantrums, the screaming, and all the terror that has taken over my normally sweet son. I know part of it is just being three. Pushing boundaries, testing limits, practicing defiance. But it has become so extreme lately and no amount of discipline seems to have any effect on his behavior. I am getting worried that I might lose it if we don't get a break from it soon. I know he is tired. I just don't know how to fix it.

So today I implemented the nap again. I'm keeping them to an hour and half and then I am going to put him to bed earlier than we usually do. I'm worried he's been staying up because he's overly tired and maybe 8:30 is when his second wind kicks in. I don't know, but I have to believe that something will work because the little bit of sanity I have left simply won't cut it for long.

If anyone has been through this before and has advice, let me know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Weekend

This weekend I got to visit one of my best friends from college. She is currently living in a refugee community in Charlotte where she and her husband minister to the families there. I have been trying to visit her since January and it just hasn't worked out until this last weekend. We've seen each other but I haven't been able to make it to her neighborhood. Even this weekend it didn't completely work out because they were house sitting and watching some friend's children who had just had a baby and were still at the hospital. But we at least got to stop by for awhile to pick up some kids to bring to church.

I LOVE this community. I remember the first time we visited them there, we pulled up and were immediately surrounded by children from all over the world. They immediately welcomed Aiden in their games, held our hands, and laughed as though we had known each other for years. I remember thinking, I could live here. Which is kind of a big deal considering I hate Charlotte (hate is a strong word, I know). Maybe it was because in that neighborhood it's hard to remember you are even in Charlotte.

We pulled into Birtchcroft, parked in front of their apartment, and made a loop around the neighborhood, stopping at people's doors to see if they would come to church. It was a Sunday morning, but already most people were out in front of their apartments, hanging out, talking, eating. Some of the kids could not come because they were going to a shoe drive that morning. Other's parents didn't approve. Four joined us (which was good because that was all we had room for that day). A little girl from Ethiopia named Sophia joined us in our car. Everywhere they walked she and Aiden held hands. She would touch his hair and face, smiling her big wonderful smile. Aiden loved the big sister attention. Even Gabriel loved having a friend in the back seat to smile at and talk to him. He sang his adorable baby songs and giggled the whole way. As we walked into church, Aaron by my side carrying Gabriel, Sophia and Aiden holding hands in front of us, I couldn't help but think, This feels right. 

The church was big. A lot bigger than what we are used to. It was also Baptist. We go to a Presbyterian church. I'm not much on denominations (I could really care less), but it was definitely a different experience. The first thing I noticed was the diversity; how many people were there from different countries, cultures, and different walks of life. The lobby was filled with TV screens displaying the service in the auditorium. When we went to sign the kids up for Sunday school we were met by a lady with an ipad who told us where they needed to go. I'll admit it, I was a little judgmental to begin with.

Aaron and I were both thirsty and tired so we went to the Church cafe to get some water and coffee. Once again I was skeptical at first, but it turned out they sell everything for a dollar and all the money goes toward building wells in Uganda. We were then told we could not enter the auditorium with drinks, so we sat in the cafe and watched the worship on the TV screens in there. "This is so weird." We kept saying to each other. A couple who appeared to be from Ethiopia sat near us. The woman was very pregnant and we had a conversation about babies while we finished our drinks. I'm learning that parenthood is very nearly a universal language.

The service itself was good. Not what we were used to (a lot of clapping, shouting, and amens), but I appreciated the enthusiasm. Despite the size of the church, most people seemed to know each other and there was a lot of fellowshipping after the sermon. Even the Pastor seemed to know most people. It seemed a very tight knit community for being so large. I was impressed and could see why my friends went there.

We were all sad to leave when it was time to drop Sophia off and say our good byes. The kids gathered by our car, touching Aiden and Gabriel, staring at us and smiling shyly. I reluctantly hugged my dear friend Heather good bye, wishing we lived closer. As we were about to drive away Sophia came to my window and said, "You come again and stay longer?"

I love the mountains. I like living in a small town. The community here is one we will probably never find anywhere else. But there is a big part of me that knows I would give it all up if God were to call us to a neighborhood like that. In fact, I can't help but hope he does.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Ask and it shall be given to you."

It is 4 a.m. and I can not sleep. My heart aches. It aches for the women and children around the world. For the women and children right here around me. For me and my children.

I have been thinking a lot about my hopes and dreams lately. I've been a little out of it. Lazy. Depressed. Neglectful. A little frustrated that things don't work out as quickly and smoothly as I would like. I let it effect my relationship with God. With my husband. My children. I get disappointed that I can't do all that I want to do. I get so caught up in it that I miss out on moments right here and now.

I'm done with that.

I know I will have my moments, but I have made a decision. God knows my heart, He knows my desires. Maybe its time for me to take a deeper look into His heart, His desires. Stop being so preoccupied with my own doubts and insecurities. Be willing to learn to let go and trust. I don't know how to be completely willing. There is always a part of me that wants to hold on to the controls. It's easier to try to carry everything in the world than to let go, don't you think?

Perhaps letting go is not a one time, final act. Perhaps letting go is simply asking God to loosen our grip every time we are tempted to hold on tight to anything other than Him.

Asking God.

It sounds so simple but I think I am only just learning to ask. I am always wondering--how do I do it? I think that's the wrong question. Maybe letting go is not something I am even capable of. Maybe it's simply asking God to do it for me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Me. Myself. And I.

Aiden is at school and Gabriel is down for his morning nap. I should be washing last nights dishes. Sweeping. Throwing in a load of laundry. Cleaning the crayon off my wall. But I can't stop thinking. Thinking about how much more I want to be doing, even while putting off the things I should be doing now. Sometimes I wish I could grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself, "Stop dreaming and live woman!" I mean I am living, but sometimes I think I live too much in thought life. Maybe because the future I dream about is more exciting than cleaning the house.

In case you hadn't noticed, I often struggle with being a stay at home mom. Why do I stick with it? I ask myself that question some times. It's not because it's my job. I could quit a job. For awhile I thought it was because of my up bringing. I was taught by anyone who was Christian that it is the mother's job to stay at home, raise her children, care for her husband, and then when of empty nest, then she can seek out other ways God may want her to serve. I think that logic is bull. Although my mom was a stay at home mom, she did a lot of other things. For awhile I even thought it was because of her I felt guilty for not wanting to stay at home because she believes so highly of it. However she did a lot of things outside the home. We were included in most of it though. I liked that. I would like that for my family.

In the end, I guess I choose to stay home because I want to raise my kids, not because I have to. Even though it's really hard. I am challenged in ways I don't like to be challenged. I have responsibility I don't always feel up for. Even though I know that I am not a perfect mother, or even close, I can't help but believe that no one could raise my kids as well as I do. I believe God placed our boys in our lives for a reason. Not because we are great, but because of all the beautiful things he teaches us through them and them through us.

It's not hard to be a stay at home mom because my kids are crazy or anything (although sometimes it's that). I mostly feel like I have it pretty easy. It's hard because this is a place where I don't get credit. I don't get praise. I don't get a paycheck. I have to teach the respect I do get. Nothing here is fair. I am asked of a lot more than I feel I have to give--a whole lot more than I get. I am forced to rely on God. For strength. For wisdom. Patience. Love. Honesty. Even rest. And trust that He is going to bring good things from my mothering. Not me. That's the hardest part, saying "It's not about me." And believing it.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I have recently been reading the blogs of two women who are a part of Heartline Ministries. I shared their links here a while back. Heartline Ministries is such an amazing ministry, helping women have and raise children who would otherwise die in child birth or have to give up their children. They explain it a lot better on their website.

You can also read about it here: http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2011/09/calling-all-ags-help-us-give-life-to.html

Right now they are trying to get votes so they can receive a $50,000 grant to build a maternity center to help the women and families of Haiti even more. Please vote! It only takes a few seconds.

Vote here: http://givingoflife.com/browse/heartline_ministries/

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today was Aiden's first day of soccer. Let me preface with I did not sign him up for this with any more intention than for him to have a good time. Maybe that's why it felt like such a fail.

Despite the fact that Aiden only took a 20 minute nap yesterday, he refused to fall asleep until 11:00 last night, then woke up around 6:30 this morning. By the time 10 rolled around he was already pretty exhausted, but it was time for soccer, so off we went!

Since we were about 10 minutes late everyone was already gathered on the indoor field as we rushed in. There were approximately 20-25 kids there, which meant about 50 parents/grandparents as well. It was pretty busy and more than a little chaotic. Aiden was not in the mood to follow instructions.

There were 4 stations where the kids could go to take turns practicing basic soccer skills. It was crazy, yes, but most everyone seemed to be having fun. Then there was Aiden. Kicking his ball in other people's space. Picking up the ball and running from Aaron (he liked the game chase a lot better than kicking the ball). Throwing himself on the ground when he couldn't get his way. Trying to balance on his stomach on the ball. Head butting the ball, Aaron, and the ground. It was kind of embarrassing because he looked like one of those kids you'd want to keep your kids away from at the park. He was that kid.

I had to swallow my pride and own up to being his mom when Aaron had his fill and I took over (when your kid refuses to listen and acts like a feral monkey, his behavior is not as embarrassing as the fact that you are the one who raised him). I pushed up my sleeves and mustered up all the enthusiasm I could gather. I brought him near the only kid he knew there and said things like, "Look at Ryann, see how she's kicking the ball? Doesn't that look fun? Let's try it!" And things like, "Let's pretend the ground is lava and the ball is on fire! You can't touch them with anything but your shoes or they will burn you!" in an effort to get him to actually kick the ball and stop rolling around on the ground. It worked for a total of 2 minutes.

On the drive home, I tried to convince Aaron that it wasn't a waste (I think he had even higher hopes for this than I did). He admitted that even though the last thing he wanted to do was push his own interests on Aiden, he was afraid he couldn't help it (Aaron played a lot of sports growing up, basically from the time he could walk, so its hard to imagine Aiden not doing the same). So I tried my best. It was Aiden's first time doing anything close to an organized sport, I explained. He's only 3 (just turned 3 at that). There were a lot of kids there, it was chaotic. He hardly slept last night, he was just really tired. All the things a good mother says in defense of her child.

Anyway, I think I got through to him because everyone was in a better mood by the time we got home. Aiden even seemed excited when I mentioned soccer next week. We'll see.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things. Stuff. And other things.

Something is happening.

There is a trail of ants from the window behind me all the way to my trash can 5 ft away. Ant traps aren't working. I wipe the trail with the most toxic cleaner I can find. Less than 2 minutes later, the trail continues. Infuriating.

There are mouse droppings on my kitchen counter and in my utensil drawers. The mice are back. I tend to jump and even occasionally squeal when I see one. I hate them with a passion and yet when the mouse trap snaps shut and I hear the little mouse's last screech I can't help but feel bad, wondering if its family will miss it. If it has little baby mice waiting at home. Probably in my closet.

There are cobwebs in almost every corner of my house. Despite the fact that I vacuumed and wiped them all yesterday (including the pesky spiders who made them). I question God's purpose in creating these creatures.

I have to wait in traffic for five minutes and can't sit there without checking facebook on my phone.

Someone cuts me off without even using their blinker. I curse the day they were born and barely stop myself from flipping them off.


I often get frustrated with my house. With my life. The small things. Why are dishes and laundry so unending? The big things. Why do I have to learn everything the hard way? Why can't I ever do anything right the first time? The annoying things. Why are there so many freaking critters in my house?!

When I stop to think about it, these things remind me of my childhood. The things that just were. Growing up where bugs were a part of life, not something gross or infuriating (as though some injustice has been done that I should have to put up with insects). Back when we would eat ant-infested peanut butter with nothing more than a little laugh about the extra protein. When traffic laws were simply guidelines. When nothing came easily and yet I always trusted they would work out.

The other day I made Aaron come into the bathroom and kill a spider for me.

What has happened?!

Spiders the size of my hand used to be a normal thing to see in my home. I used to wake up to scorpions on my bed netting. I used to need a net. Now I am having my husband kill a little spider in the bathroom corner? Something is wrong here. I've become one of those people I used to laugh at.

But then at the end of the day I rest in the fact that at least we don't have those ginormous cockroaches. Those things have always freaked me out.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogging: The Honest Truth

There is so much on my mind these days that it is hard for me to even know what to write about. Unless I have a specific story to share, I rarely know what I am going to write about before I sit down at my computer. But as I write I often ask myself, what should I share? What should I keep to myself? What will be helpful/amusing to others? What will just be selfish vulnerability? Sometimes I hold my finger down on the back space button and close my computer for another day. Other times I press "post" without a second thought (and end up going back later to edit 5-6 times). I like to hope that my blog encourages those who read it. That maybe my little bits of brutal self-honesty will push others to be open, even if only with themselves. But mostly, I blog for me. I have always had trouble journaling, even though I love the idea. I have never finished a journal. Each one remains at least half blank. Part of it was the fact that I hated my hand-writing. The other part was that I hated how vulnerable it allowed me to be. I know that sounds silly, that's why people keep journals, right? But it's true. I didn't like that I doubted God so often. That my mind changed so abruptly. I didn't like that my deep and honest thoughts were there on paper, so easily found by a sibling or friend. Honesty doesn't usually paint the prettiest picture.

My fear of honesty began dissipating when I found out I was pregnant with Aiden. I was a missionary kid, an RA at my Christian college, supposed to be a spiritual leader for the girls around me, and yet there I was, unwed and pregnant. This is the epic sin right? Sex before marriage is easily hidden. You can fool around and then decide not to any more, or get married, and all is forgiven. But once you get pregnant it seems to be a different story. People assume things about you. I had a close friend tell me she was shocked to find out that I was one of those people who sleep around. In truth, the only person I have ever slept with is the man I am now married to, but that didn't matter. I was pregnant, I must be  one of "those" people, right? I struggled with this for a very long time. In a way I still do. I realized that I could get over the fact that my life was completely interrupted. I could give up all my plans. I could be a mother even though I in no way felt ready. I could commit to my child for life the instant I knew of his existence. But I could not live with the judgement. The silent (and sometimes verbal) accusations of my character. People not only assume things about your character, but about your relationship with your spouse, your ability to parent, and your ability to achieve your life goals. Every hurtful thing that was said to me during that time is permanently cemented in my brain. I am still fighting the accusations a lot more than I would like to admit. Here is the thing though, the reason I was so aware of even the unsaid judgement was because I myself had those same judgmental thoughts about others before I had been through it myself. Once I did I realized that you can love God, you can want to serve Him more than anything, and still fall. I could be the best Christian in the world and still sin greatly. Isn't David a testament to this? Yet I could not understand it myself until I found myself there, publicly caught in my sin.

God healed me of guilt, but I still have scars of hurt from careless (and even thought out) words. So that is when honesty became more important to me than making myself look good. Because I am not good. God is good. That is the only reason I am capable or willing of anything in my life. I never want to give people the impression that in order to be a follower of Christ you must be as perfect as Christ, because I know how detrimental thinking like that can be. The guilt, the fear, the anger that comes with it. I still have to choose God everyday, because my heart still wants to look back and dwell on pain or regret. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. It's always obvious to me by the end of the day.

Blogging is the opposite of journaling. Instead of writing something to be kept secret and hidden, it forces me to be open and honest because most of you who read this know me and see my life. This blog gives me a chance to be honest before myself and others. To share both the blessings and heartaches in hopes of encouraging others who are here, have been here, or will be here one day too. Let my life (the good, the bad, the awkward) be a testament that God is good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Passing Through

Today my dad shared a documentary on Hulu about Americans raised in China. I can see how it might be boring to someone who was not raised in China or has no interest in China, but it really touched me. The guy only interviewed his father and his father's peers who lived in China in the 1920's, but somehow I can still relate to everything they talked about. 

It's funny, when I moved back to the states 6 years ago it was practically impossible to avoid the topic of growing up in China even with strangers. Now there are people who know me who have no idea I did. It's weird thinking back to when I lived in China, how America seemed like a dream, something far off and intangible. Now China is the dream. I remember trying to imagine what it would be like to live in America full-time. Would I fit in? Would I feel "American"? Would it feel like home? I was foreigner in China, but I also felt like a foreigner in America. I used to fantasize about what it would be like to not be different. To be like everyone else. It seems boring now, but at the time I wanted nothing else.

Well here I am now. An American, living in America. I fit in externally (I think), but internally I think I'll always be a foreigner. I don't feel American (what does that feel like?). And although I feel quite at home with my husband and my sons, it still feels weird to me that I am living here. As one of the ladies in the documentary said, it just feels like I am passing through. Everything is temporary. 

Here is the documentary for any who may be interested:http://www.hulu.com/watch/228077/made-in-china

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School

I think I was more excited about the first day of school than Aiden. No, I know I was. But Aiden was excited too. He talked about Danielle the rabbit all morning (they had only met once, but apparently they are best friends). Aiden insisted on running the whole way from the car to the building. When we got to his class room he immediately found his new friend Cole (they met at the park and now are in the same class) who was playing with trains. When I left they were both standing on a step stool looking at the turtles. All I got was a no eye contact "Ok!" when I told him I was leaving instead of the typical "Mommy, you just dont leave me." It made me both happy and sad. Mostly happy.

I spent my morning as a free woman--well, taking care of Gabriel, cleaning, and even made it to the gym. Although Aiden was only at school for 3 and half hours and I enjoyed the freedom of only one child, I did find myself missing him. I never realized how quiet the house is without him. It was nice though. To have a chance to miss him. And the quiet.

I got to sit in a pick-up line for the first. It's as unexciting as it looks. Then I pulled into the wrong area like a total noob. And then there he was! My big little boy, carrying his back pack, looking like such a little man holding his teacher's hand, searching the crowd of parents for me. Then he saw me. And burst into tears. "I don't want to go home!" he wailed. He cried the whole way home, saying he wanted to go back to school, or the park, or anywhere with Cole. Apparently they spent the whole morning inseparable.

Now he is taking the longest nap ever. I guess school wore him out. I could get used to school.


Used to it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Power Struggle

Before I registered Aiden for school last week and realized things are changing everyday, I kind of had an internal break down. As I may have hinted in my previous post, sometimes I get really bored as a stay at home mom. I get restless, start thinking about all I want to accomplish in my life, and then feel helpless because it's hard to conquer the world when you've committed yourself to raising two young children. When you have daily routines that mainly consist and revolve around two little people, it's easy to feel a little trapped. It's hard to see the big picture sometimes. Please tell me I'm not alone in this!

Now I am not here to say, I have found the answer! I am now completely content with where I am! But I am learning some things about myself that are allowing me to be a little more ok with the way I feel sometimes. Or at least to understand the way I feel. I have extremely high standards for myself. So high that I can never reach them, and therefore will always feel like a failure. It's really hard for me to let go of past mistakes. I am a guilt ridden person. I feel bad about things for weeks, months, years. I tend to be very open with people. Then I regret it. Sometimes honesty and vulnerability turn around and bite you in the butt. I easily feel judged, which in turn makes me want to judge. These are things I wish I could change about myself. Things that if I could change, would allow me to enjoy life a lot more. Without these things I would be less anxious, less stressed, and a lot more willing to love.

My whole life my goal has been to be a "good christian". It was basically my motive behind everything, although I didn't realize it. I am only just grasping the fact that that was never God's intention for me. Isn't that crazy? It blows my mind. No wonder I feel like such a failure all the time! It's still so hard for me to grasp the idea of living by grace. I try to live by grace. But that's the thing, I try. I try with my own strength, and then it all goes back to me and my works and never measuring up. How is it possible that I have been a Christian my whole life and still don't get it?

So here is my question. How do you live by grace? What does that look like? Is it something I have to let God do? If so, how do I let Him? Can't He teach me even if I don't know how to let Him? Because I don't think I know how to not rely on my own works.

Also, how does one learn to be content without being complacent?

If you could answer these things, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Whole New World

Today I registered Aiden for preschool and soccer. Wow. When did this period of my life start?! Well, technically, today. Maybe that's why it still feels so crazy. I am ridiculously excited about both of these programs for Aiden. He thrives in social and structured settings, so I think he is really going to like both soccer and preschool.

Today we went to see his class room. In the car he just kept saying, "I don't want to go to school! I want to go to the park!" Over and over. Then we got there. He got to press the buttons on the elevator. He got to meet both his teachers (very sweet ladies we both fell in love with right away). Then he got to meet the class room pets, Ruby and Max (turtles), and Danielle (huge white rabbit). Needless to say, when it was time to leave he said, "I don't want to go to the park! I want to stay at school!" Awesome.

As far as soccer goes, Aiden loves any excuse to run around and kick a ball, so this sport was of course a given. Although I have a feeling he'll be that kid who ends up chasing other kids on the field instead of the ball, and that he'll "share" the ball with kids on opposing teams, but I am ok with that. It's non-competitive so he'll be ok doing that for another year or two.

I am excited about having two mornings a week to help Aaron out and have some one on one time with Gabriel. Also excited about Saturday morning soccer games. Hello, Soccer Mom, here I come! Despite my occasional skepticism, I think I may be able to embrace this role. (Now all I need is a mini-van and a bumper sticker that says "I used to be cool.")