Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blessing and Sacrifice

As I drink my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, I reflect on being a mom.

It is by far been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  Kayla is a true gift from God that we don't deserve, but have been blessed with.  I can't imagine my life without her.  Ben and I's love for each other has only grown as we realize we have even more love to give to our sweet daughter. 

Is is also the biggest sacrifice I have ever had to make.

Being a parent has humbled me.  There is someone else in my life now that needs my time and attention.  She is completely dependent on me to meet her needs, 24 hours a day.  (Thankfully she loves to sleep about 10-11 of those hours at night!)

It doesn't matter if I want to do this or that, if she needs something, I serve her.  It doesn't matter if I want to sleep in, or if I want to go work out, her needs must be met first.  It doesn't mean that I still don't make time for "me" things (because I think that is SUPER important for the mental health of being a mommy!!), but the focus changes. 

I have always wanted to be a wife and mother.  Just ask my mom.  I "played house/mommy" ever since I was old enough to walk.  The Lord laid that desire on my heart years ago. 

So I was ready for that big change, the change of being a parent, and yet, there are days that take me by surprise.

There are days...

...when I would love to just run to the gym and work out without having to arrange for a babysitter.
...when I would love to go meet a friend for coffee without the distraction of a baby
...when I would love to be able to help others with acts of service when they need it
...when I would love to take a last minute trip and leave my responsibilities behind

I think it is human to have these emotions.  To sometimes feel "tied" to home.  While it is a blessing, it is a sacrifice. 

Most days, I serve with joy and am so thankful for the blessing he has given me.  After all I went through during my pregnancy, I am even more in tue with this!

But I am only human, and also have days when I miss my freedom.

But I wouldn't change it for the world.

God has called us to the great commission.  To take the gospel to the world.  I want to stand before him someday and know that I did all that he called me to do. 

The great commission starts in our home.  Our marriage, and then our children.  The children that he entrusts to me are given to me for a purpose.  By His grace, I am to guide and direct them in His ways, and pray and trust that they will grow up knowing and loving Him, serving Him all the days of their lives.

That is a heavy calling.  A blessing.  A sacrifice.  But ultimately, I want my life to be a reflection of Him.  I want my life to point others to Him.  Not to me, but to HIS name be the glory.

We all have the same amount of time in our days.  We all get 24 hours.  What we do with our time, is determined by what we prioritize.  We can all make excuses that we didn't have time to do "this or that," but ultimatley, it's all about what we prioritize.  We WILL live out our priorties!

Sometimes mine are out of whack.  I so often priortize the things that I (in caps!) want to do.  Instead, do I pray for the wisdom to prioritize the things HE wants me to do. 

Does HE come first.  THEN my husband, THEN my children, THEN my family, THEN my friends?

So often not.  That takes sacrifice.  Sometimes a sacrifice that I'm not willing to make.

So during this time of sacrifice, I pray that my selfishness with not blind others to His truth.

By his Grace, I go.  Some days I fail.  Some days He has to remind me of the same lessons over and over.  But by his grace and forgiveness, I go forward, thankful for a fresh start each day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

He gives and takes away

I have a dear friend who's nephew will not survive outside the womb.

I know a lady who recently lost her twin babies half way through her pregnancy.

I have a friend who has suffered 3 miscarriages.

I know a handful of other women who have lost a baby through miscarriage and have carried the burden alone.

I have been wrestling with this for a few weeks now.  It brings back so many memories of the loss of our first child.  The unanswered questions.  The fear, the unknown, the hard question of "why."

"We humans are afraid of pain.  No one likes to hurt.  We avoid it, mask it, and run from it, refusing the get close to pain even when it is not our own.  Fear can make us superstitious and irrational. 

But God doesn't act haphazardly.

Good and beauty can be found in the experience of loss if we are willing to embrace it.  But finding the good and beautiful is only possible when we believe that God is lovingly sovereign, that pain is not random, not without origin, not without purpose." 

From A Symphony in the Dark by Barbara Rainey and Rebecca Rainey Mutz

Everyone's situation is different, and yet a common bond with those who have lost their child. 

My heart aches for these woman.  I pray God will grant a peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Today I trust the One who gives, and the one who takes away.  I must, because I know that even when everything is spinning out of control, HE is in control.  He is holding us in the palm of his hand and won't let go.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stationery card

Balloon Motif Pink Birthday Invitation
Invitations for all occasions: graduation day, birthdays, & weddings.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Simple victories

I love my life. Well, I guess it's not really MY life-but the life that has been given to me!

It is a gift. Along with the life of those I love around me. I am so blessed.

I have an incredible husband (who passed his Professional Engineering exam!!!!! Wahoooooooo!!), who loves the Lord and loves me. He also happens to be an incredible dad.

He is so patient. Ah yes, we have our moments, the times we fight about the same things, but I love him! A love of choice, not based off of a feeling.

I have a beautiful, fun loving daughter. She is at such a fun age right now. She takes in the world around her like everything is a new gift. She had learned to put snacks in her mouth. Ah, if only the thing we were most concerned about was learning to put something from our hand to our mouth! The simple victories in life.

We have those each day. Those simple victories, yet, are we too busy to even notice them? Too busy to be thankful? Too busy worrying about what happened yesterday, or about what might happen tomorrow?

Be thankful for the simple victories today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thankful. Thankful for today.

Last year at this time, I was lying on the couch, fighting for the life of our beautiful daughter.  I have been thinking a lot about this time last year, and am again, so thankful for so many things.

I am just so thankful to be on this side of it.  So thankful for the family and friends who brought us meals, prayed for us, and encouraged me through those dark days!

April 29, 2010-went into ER in Pullman because of the incredible amount of pain I was in (now, having been through childbirth, I can say it was worse than giving birth!)

Transferred to Sacred Heart, monitored for the next day and night

April 30, 2010-21 weeks pregnant, pain not getting any better

May 1, 2010-exploratory surgery.  No guarantees that our baby would make it, but she did!  For those of you that have met her, you know where she gets her little "fighter" personality!  She had to fight for her life!  Found that my right ovary and tube had twisted and were "exploding."  They were removed.

I then spent the next 5 days in the hospital, on lots of medication, trying to slow my contractions down.  I am so thankful for my Doctor.  Dr. Peter Fern of Northwest OBGYN.  He is incredible!  He has been an OBGYN for over 30 years, and never had do that surgery on a pregnant woman.  So thankful for the knowledge that the Lord gave him (and the other two doctors) so that they could do the surgery that would save our lives!!

After I came home, I was overwhelmed by the support of family and friends during this time.  Jenny Lingle came and spent a week with me, taking care of me.  My mom brought us meals, and stopped by to encourage me almost daily.  My sister came as much as she could.  Taryn and Cathy came to visit from Boise.  Several people stopped in just to say hi.  They were long days. 

Our church family provided meals for over two months, and bathed us in prayers.  My mother-in-law came and spent a week with us.

My husband.  My best friend, the love of my life, my better half.  Nursed me, took care of me, kept our house clean and "running," all the while, working to continue to support us.  He sacrificed so much of "his" time, to serve me.  Words can't express the gratitude I have.  The Lord has blessed me with an incredible, selfless man.

I can't even begin to name everyone on here who rallied behind us.  People that I haven't even met were praying for us.  THANK YOU.  Thank you.  ThAnK YoU!!!!!

August 27, 2010 (38 weeks)  Taken completely off all bed rest.  I can't even being to list all the the things I did...one of the last being a batch of jelly I didn't get to finish because...

September 1, 2010-Kayla Grace arrived at 8:52pm!!!

Apparently, God still has some plans for Kayla and I here on this side of eternity.  I am thankful for all that He has brought us through, and pray that we will live each day with eternity in view.  Realizing that we don't know when our last breath on this earth will be. 

So are we living like tomorrow might be our last?  Are we taking in the moments and making the most of them?  Are we loving those around us and leading them to Christ?  Or are we too busy with our "to do's," our lists, our projects, our deadlines, our hobbies?

Thankful.  Thankful for today.  The gift He has given me. 

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Blessing After Another

I had the opportunity to speak at the Woman's Social at the Baptist Church last night. It was an honor to get to share "my story." I will post it here as best as I can remember. I will warn you, it could be a bit lengthy. So, if you don't want to read it all, skip to the C and E of "GRACE" :)

The definition of grace has changed over the course of my life. I like to compare it to a piece of stoneware. As I share, I will refer back to this as a visual.

I am going to share my "life story," up to this point, and how the Lord has changed and molded me into who I am today.

GRACE: Undeserved favor or gift-the undeserved forgiveness, kindness and mercy that God gives us.

G-Grace introduced
R-Re-ignited Grace
A-Apportioned (allowed) Grace
C-Complicated Grace
E-Eternal Blessings

Grace Introduced~Ephesians 2:4-5

You are given a piece of stoneware to bake on, and you wonder-what do I do with this? Especially if you've never cooked with a stoneware before.

This is much like the beginning of my story. I was introduced to "Grace" at an early age. I remember sitting on the edge of my parents bed, with my mom, asking Jesus in my heart. Of course, I didn't fully understand grace at this point. But I was introduced to it. Like Ephesians 2:4-5 says-it is by grace you have been saved.

It is by God's grace that I was raised in a Godly Christian home with parents that loved the Lord and gave us opportunities to grow.

I have an older brother-whom I idolized growing up, and a younger sister that I was really good at mothering. Bless her heart-she didn't ask for two mothers, but she got it!

In Jr. High, I went to a camp and I remember at that alter call, really deciding that I was going to dedicate my life to Christ from this point forward-not because anyone told me to, but because I was choosing to.

I also had the opportunity to go on a couple of missions trips in high school with my dear friend, La Rena. We served in Canada and in Brazil, and these trips really enlarged my world as I got a much bigger picture of God's grace in other culters.

Re-Ignited Grace~1 Peter 1:13; 2 Corn 12:7-10
So, you bought that stoneware bar pan, and you had forgotten about it. As you are cleaning out your cupboards, you run across it and are re-inspired to use it!

Much like this piece of stone, was the grace in my life as I entered College and my Post-College years.

I went to the University of Idaho and studied Music Education. My major was very demanding and I spent a lot of time in the practice rooms.

Much of my free time was spent being involved in Campus Crusade for Christ.

I am very thankful for that ministry and got involved very early on in college. I played on the praise team, had lot of leadership training, and opportunities to disciple other women. I also made many life-long friends.

I was asked to give my testimony at our weekly meeting. I remember thinking, "I don't have much of a testimony, I haven't done drugs, or been sleeping around, or done any of those 'big, bad' things." But I was still a sinner, saved by grace.

Because of this grace, he had saved me from getting involved in those things. That was a testimony in itself.

I feel as if I developed a new passion and purpose in life-a re-igniting of grace. I had taken my faith and moved it from legalism, or a law-based faith, to a grace-based faith.

After college, I was given an incredible job at Fairmont Jr. High in Boise, teaching Jr. High Choir. It was a challenge, as I was following in the footsteps of someone who had been teaching there for over 30 years. I loved my students, but didn't like the stress it put on my life!

It was also during this time that Ben came along! We had gone to college together, even lived across the street from each other, and went on a couple of double dates together (not with each other!). We were interested in other people and things during those four years though, and the timing was just not right.

The fall after we graduated, he came to Boise where I was currently living, for a mutual friends' wedding. I tease him because he didn't have to work very hard at getting my phone number. I had talked with him on instant messenger a couple of weeks before the wedding, letting him know that I only lived 5 minutes from the airport, so if his ride fell through, he could give me a call. Sure enough, his friend that he was staying with had to do some wedding duties at the time he was coming in, so he gave me a call.

The rest is history. :) We dated long distance for about 8 months, and then realized that we needed to live in the same town if this was really going to work out! He is the best thing that has happened to me. He compliments me and completes me in so many ways!

Up to this point in my life, I hadn't had a lot of major struggles. Sure, the ups and downs of life, but no major trials. I was blessed beyond blessed. God had been very gracious to me. I had a healthy family, all four of my grandparents still living, and an incredible husband.

So, I began to pray for the future. I knew trials were going to come. I Peter 1:13 says to prepare your minds for action.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 was another set of verses that came to mind. I started praying that the Lord would continue to build my faith, and make me strong so that when those trials did come, I would be able to stand firm on this faith that He had grown in me.

Apportioned (allowed) Grace~Ephesians 4:7
Back to my baking stone. :) There are some things you aren’t allowed to bake on it. You don't want to use liquids on it, as it is non-pourus.

I was now entering this stage of grace in my life. God was going to allow some things in my life that I didn't necessarily want, but He knew I needed to bring my focus back to him.

I had always wanted to be married. Ever since I was little girl-I was the one who would dress up and play wedding. I thought once I got married, life would just be that much better.

It was in many ways-I am so thankful for my incredible husband. But it isn't a "fix-all." In fact, the Lord has allowed several things in our lives to grow us in these past 3 1/2 years. In the process, it has been hard on our marriage. We have had to work through many things!

In our first year of marriage, we bought a house, I left my job (of which was very difficult for me to do), Ben got a new job, we re-modeled the home we currently live in, and moved to Pullman. I also went through a change of "careers."

After we moved, we knew we wanted to start our family. We were so excited to find out we were pregnant. At a very young age, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said "a mom, just like my mom." I knew this was my calling!

So when we lost our baby at almost 12 weeks, I was devastated. I felt like the ground had been ripped out from underneath me. I was angry, I was hurt, I had questions. I didn't understand why.

I questioned my calling. I knew I had been called to be a mother, so why would he take this child from me?

I did realize, though, that this was where the rubber met the road. This was my trial I had been preparing for. So I was either going to trust Him or turn my back on him.

I couldn't imagine my life without Christ, so I chose to trust him, even though I didn't know why, even though I was hurt, even thought I was angry.

1 Peter 1:6-7~In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

After having some time to process, I was reminded that I like to have a tight, closed fist around my life. As long as I can hold onto it, inside the palm of my hand, I can control it. If I can control it, then I know what the outcome will be.

I had to open my fist. I couldn't control this part of my life. If the Lord wanted me to have a child, then it was going to be in His time, and I needed to let Him be in control.

The Lord knows what we need more than we do-He knows and allows circumstances in our lives to bring Glory to Him.

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.” Peter Marshall

It was hard to see what blessing could possibly come from this. As time has healed, I have realized that I have a new ministry. I can now relate to other people who have lost their babies. There is a bond, an understanding there, that you have once you have gone through that. I have some friends in my life that have and are dealing with this, and I am so thankful that I can attempt to be some sort of encouragement to them.

Complicated Grace~Psalm 37:3-7a

Back to my visual-stoneware can be complicated. There are a few rules. You can’t put it in extreme temperatures (like from your freezer straight to the oven), and you aren't supposed to use soap to clean it or put it in the dishwasher.

Much like grace-it can be complicated. We often think we know what Grace should look like.

Psalm 37 says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord he will give us the desires of our hearts. So often this verse it taken out of context. We must read the verses surrounding that one. We must trust Him, do good, and dwell in His land. Then we can delight in Him. After we are doing all this, our desires should align with His, and He will "give" us those things. So often it's not what "WE" want, but if we are seeking Him, we will want what HE wants.

Life got a little complicated. I had some health issues after my miscarriage. Some things I didn't want to come to terms with, but that I had to. Things, that as a woman, I didn't want to hear because I shouldn't be "broken down." I should be able to do what I was created to do-have babies, right?!

I forget that we live in a sinful world, and for some reason, it is harder for some woman to fulfill that command.

As we started trying again, that was also hard. It brought a lot of emotions into our marriage that we didn't know how to deal with.

Well, all we needed to do was go on vacation to Mexico! :)

When we found out we were pregnant again, we were so scared. Of course we were excited, but more scared. Again, I had to remember to let go, and let God. I had to open my fist.

I had to trust that His will was going to be done. After we passed the 12 week mark, I thought, "great, we made it!!" I started closing my fist again.

So He got my attention...

I woke up one morning last April with an incredible pain on my right side. It continued to get worse.

Ben took me into the ER, and the doctors were trying to figure out what was going on. I was just sure I was loosing the baby again. I was so scared, but in so much pain that I couldn't really think about how scared I was.

The next morning, they decided to take me into emergency surgery. Everything happened so fast. They couldn't find my ovary on the scans or ultrasounds, but they knew something was growing inside that wasn't supposed to.

I was only 21 weeks pregnant. I was a mess laying on that hospital bed being prepped for surgery. They had told me that they weren't going to monitor the baby during surgery because there was nothing they could do if something happend. Life could not survive outside the womb until 24 weeks.

When they got in there, they found my ovary and tube had twisted on each other, and that my ovary was the size of a softball, black and exploding. My doctor saved my life. And Kayla's. He has been an OBGYN for over 30 years, and never had to do that kind of surgery on someone who was pregnat. I am so thankful for the confidence and knowledge the Lord gave him!

I went into labor after the surgery, but thanks to the medications, they were able to stop it, and slow down my contractions.

I was in the hospital for a week, recovering from surgery, and trying to get my contractions slowed down.

The most amazing thing to me was that we had a 3D ultrasound 3 days after surgery. She looked so peaceful. She had no idea what she had been through. Except she knew she had to fight for life! (If you know her personality now, you now know where that comes from!!) It gave me so much hope.

But the journey wasn't over yet. I was on bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. My restrictions got less and less the closer I got, but each week was a victory.

Especially at week 24. Once we were past that, I knew there was at least a chance of survival for her. Each week that passed, the survival percentage rate went up.

Bed rest was hard on me emotionally. Some people would tell me, "I would love to be confined to a couch!" Well, I would too, if it was my choice. When you are doing it because there is literally nothing else you can do to try and save your child's life, it takes on a whole new perceptive.

It was a roller coaster ride. I am so thankful for my incredible family, friends and church family who got us through that time. The prayers, meals and encouragement got us through! We were so thankful!

Eternal Blessings~John 1:16
The stoneware, over time, “seasons” and produces an incredible baked good, like this banana break I made. Through the seasoning of my life, the Lord was producing blessings.

He answered our prayers how we wanted this time. I was able to give birth to Kayla, and she is God's incredible gift. She is grace in our lives.

Grace is often used for a middle name, but it means so much to us, and this is why she is Kayla Grace.

I now understand Grace in a completely different way-She has been given to me as a gift, so that I can give her back to the Lord. The Lord doesn't bless us for our own good, He blesses us so that we can turn around and give those blessings back to him.

Am I continuing to give Her up to the Lord?

Blessings don’t always come when life is good.

We won’t always know “why” this side of eternity.

We just need to focus on glorifying Him through our character, not our circumstances

The song "blessings" by Laura Story describes this better than I can, so check out my last post with the lyrics to her song.

The price I could never pay for my sins, was paid for me at Calvary. We are remembering that this time of year. There is nothing I can do to repay Him, but I can obey. I can live in the daily, sufficient grace that He gives me. Because of this grace, we can have eternal life if we just trust and receive this gift.

I don’t have life figured out. God is still growing me in my marriage, and role as a mother. I have “those” days. Days when I don’t trust Him. Days when I wonder what in the world I am doing as a mom. Days when I fight with Ben over the same things. Days when I wonder what my purpose is. Just like that piece of stone, I will look a little rough around the edges, but the Lord can use that to produce an incredible baked good (like my banana bread I made on this stone today)

All he is calling me to do is live each day-moment by moment, in His Grace. When we do, we have this promise:

“From the fullness of His grace, we will receive one blessing after another.” John 1:16

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Blessings" by Laura Story

I am preparing to speak at our Woman's Evening Dinner next Thursday evening at Church (come if you can!), and I have lots of random thoughts running through my head. I am trying to bring some clarity to all that the Lord has been putting on my heart.

I ran across this song by Laura Story, and it has become one of my favorites. It puts into words some of the things I have been thinking about.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PE Exam

Ben has been studying for his Professional Engineering exam for several months. The time has come! Oh, for those of you that don't know, it basically means that he can stamp, or approve, his own projects. He no longer has to take them to other PE's to get the stamp of approval. It also means he could be his own boss someday!

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 am, he begins the 8 hour test. Many have gone before him, failed, and passed, and he too, will experience those outcomes. (Hopefully just the passing on the first round!!!)

I admire my husband. He has an incredible work ethic. He has a new daughter, and yet has been so diligent about studying. It has meant sacrifices on our part, but it's for all of us in the long run.

He has been putting in close to 12 hour days at work. (So that he could study for about two hours during his lunch) I am reminded of the harvest hours my family keeps! I am so glad he doesn't have to keep those hours normally. We are so blessed that he works an 8-5 job so that he can be home and involved in our lives here!

All through these long days, he still keep some energy for home. He is still happy to see us when he walks through that door. He is still willing to change Kayla's diaper and give her a bath. Not all days, but most.

I am blessed. He is God's incredible gift to me. May I never take that for granted.

You can do it, Ben!! One problem at a time! (There are 80 of them!)

Thank you for being my best friend, better half, and provider for our family!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Each Day is a Gift

Hello blog world. Sorry I've been absent for awhile. I know I was going to do some blogging on marriage, but to be honest, I just don't feel like I'm in a good spot to be talking about that! So I was trying to figure out what was on my mind.

My mind has been a little empty lately. Well, not empty, I guess, because I'm not a guy. I can't just think about "nothing." I don't have a "nothing" box. :) I guess I have been feeling a little down lately. Hormones? Lack of sleep? Absent husband (since he's been studying so much for his Professional Engineering test)?

I couldn't figure out why, and then I did a double take at the calendar.

April. Ah, April. You have not been so kind to us the past two years!

We lost our first child on April 6, 2009. There are many thoughts out there about miscarriages. Some people choose not to share that they have lost children, some share freely. I am one that talks about it. It is a part of my life, a part that has forever changed me. It is a child of mine that I will someday meet.

My heart aches for my little one this time of year. Now, having another child, one "on the ground" makes me miss my baby more. As Kayla grows and changes, and her personality comes out, I often wonder what our first child would have been like. Would they have had the incredibly busy personality of Kayla, or would have have been more laid back like their dad?

Time does heal. Life does move on. The pain does get less. But the loss is still there.

There is still an ache, a hole in my heart that no baby will ever fill. There is a hope-a promise-that I will meet my baby someday-when all tears will be wiped away-where we will know no pain-where I will get to run to them, hug them, kiss them and tell them how much I love them.

During that time in my life-my prayers were not answered like I had hoped. Our baby was not spared this side of eternity. I wasn't able to hold him/her in my arms.

My heart hurts for the people that have gone through this once, twice, three times. My heart hurts for the people I know that still have barren wombs. Why, I cry out, why? "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord..." It is so hard to see the blessings in the valleys. But they are there. We must look harder. We must open our eyes to the beauty of life that has been given to us. We must trust and live in that hope and peace.

I was admitted into ER on April 29, last year for what would turn out to be an emergency surgery while I was 21 weeks pregnant. Another incredibly fearful time in my life. Another opportunity to either trust in the one who held my future, or turn my back on him.

That time, our prayers were answered like we prayed. My life, and Kayla's life were spared. God was not finished with us yet. Our time here on earth was not supposed to end. There is a reason for that.

Am I living with that in mind? I hope I never loose sight of the gift of life. Being so close to death, and the death of one child, and almost another, you gain a new perspective on life.

It is a gift. Each day is a gift.

An opportunity to make a difference, to share the light and love of Christ to those around me. May I never forget that. May I be thankful for each day that has been gifted to me. Not to me, but to Your name, be the Glory!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Passion, or Not?

I sometimes wonder if I get too passionate about certain things in life.

Do I sometimes get passionate about something, and take off running with the idea, only to find it not coming to fruition. I wonder-did I pray much about it? Did I pray to see if it was God's passion for me to pursue, or if it was just "my" passion?

I am passionate about passion. I think we all need to live with a little bit more passion. I think we all get caught up too much in our daily lives. I think we forget what we are even passionate about.

I think even if we do remember what we are passionate about, sometimes we don't take the time for it. Sometimes we do, only to fall flat on our face. Sometimes we don't know how to pursue our passions. Sometimes we don't make it a priority.

Yes, there is always someone out there who has it worse off (hello-can we say Japan?), but that doesn't mean the feelings I have aren't worth having. So I type. (Sorry, I am getting side tracked from my "marriage" blogging.)





Seeking t0



Not to bring glory to myself-but to God!

Are you living a life full of passion? Am I? Or am I lukewarm, numb to life around me, going through the motions. Am I taking time to pursue my passions? Am I passionate about what God wants me to be passionate about?

What if I feel as if I am passionate about something that I feel He is passionate about too, and then I get a "no," a "wait." Those are the hard questions, because for those questions, we often don't have answers.

Passion. Confusion. Dissapointment. Excitement. Contentment. Peace.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love Happens

This past weekend, I was able to attend a marriage conference at our church. I was quite challenged, inspired and encouraged in so many ways. I even missed two sessions (of which I can't wait to watch!)

So, I have decided that I put things to better memory when I write about them. So for my next few blog entries, I am going to be writing about what was taught. Many of these thoughts will be mine, many will not. I hope to be as honest as I can though, and I thank you for going through this journey with me!

Love Happens

Why did you get married? Why do you want to be married? What is the purpose of marriage?

91% say it is for Love
88% say it is for companionship
82% say it is to signify a lifelong commitment

The list goes on. So most of us get married because we are "in love" with our significant other. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't fully understand what that "love" meant. I'm still working on it! I do know that love is a choice, it's an action. Not a feeling. This is why marriage so often ends in disillusionment and failure, because people say they "fall out of love." This happens if love is a feeling. I can't stop CHOOSING to love. How I am choosing to love Ben? Am I? On a daily basis?

Are they choosing to love? Choosing to unconditionally receive their spouse?

Some of my favorite quotes from this chapter:

1. Marriage is not primarily about you.
2. It is just as important to become the right person as it is to find the right person.
3. The one you married is the one with whom you are to make a life
4. The ultimate purpose of marriage is to reflect God's image.
5. Marriage is a covenant-a permanent promise-not a contract
6. Marriage is more than a device to suit our own needs; it exists for a bigger purpose.

We are selfish people. It doesn't take long for the "honeymoon" phase to wear off and then we start to wonder what our spouse is or isn't doing to keep us happy. If they will do their part, then I will do mine. If he will just honestly talk heart to heart with me, then maybe I'll....

Marriage isn't about us. It's about giving 100% to the one God has give to us. It's not about "if you do this, then I'll do that." It is about making a statement, together, about the God of this universe. It is about bringing glory to God. We are married for a higher purpose, for a higher calling.

Is this what I think about when I don't feel as if my needs are being met? When Ben gets home from being at work all day, and I'm tired because it's been a long day on my end? You bet not! I wonder, "why can't he just know what I need and do it for me, don't I deserve it?"

Ah, how our selfish culture gets inside our brains! Marriage is not about me. It is about embracing the God-given differences he's built into each of us and receiving Ben as God's incredible gift to me!

What does that mean? To unconditionally receive Ben? That means I shouldn't have any expectations on him, right? I shouldn't "expect" that he know what I need or want, or expect that he should do this or that. It means I receive him as God's gift, as he is. Not receive him in hopes to change him. Receive him. Period.

If Ben was to know that I see him as God's gift for a lifetime, how would that change the way I relate to him?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I have found a new passion! Flower accessories for any age!

I would love to make a custom color/size for a girl in your life, or a flower for you or someone you know that would enjoy one! All flowers are detachable, so you can mix and match!

I can make any combination of any colors (headbands and flowers!) I can also make bracelets with the flower as an attachment.

Headbands with one flower $16.95 (shipping included) Flower (without bling) $6.95 (shipping included) Flower (with bling) $7.95 (shipping included)

Please email me your order! rachel.kovanda@gmail.com

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Inspire: To fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence

Today was filled with many thoughts and emotions. The one that rises to the top, after all the dust settles though, is inspiration.

I started off the day with only about 4 hours of total sleep last night. So, my emotions were a little raw to being with. :)

I went to the half marathon knowing I wouldn't set foot on the course. Yet, walking up to get my number and t-shirt filled me with some feelings of disappointment. So close, yet so far away.

As we gave Dave his high 5's as he ran past us after the start, I wanted to just jump on the course and run next to him like we have been training for the past 3 months. I could almost feel the rush of the start-because I could imagine myself out there in the mix of the people.

I felt like I had just deserted a friend. He was nothing but supportive of the decision I had to make to not run the race, but still. There he went-off to run 13.1 miles on his own. Had the roles been reversed, I'm not so sure I would have completed that on my own. As we ran together during our training, we always talked about how much easier it is to run when you have someone with you!

The sun shone, the rain fell, the wind blew, and the anticipation grew as two hours rolled by. We began to watch for Dave and his lime green shirt. As we waited, and anticipated his arrival around the bend, I just couldn't stand there any more. I had to go meet him and bring him in.

So I dropped my coat, and took off to find him. In my jeans, no less. I couldn't just let him finish it alone.

I met him just after mile 12. There he was, trucking along. Still going. After running 12 miles on his own. It was the least I could do to bring him in for his last 1.1 miles.

As we neared the finish line, Shelby was snapping pictures, mom was cheering, and Dad (who was holding Kayla) was running the last few feet with us. All the while, cheering Dave to the finish line.

He did it. All 13.1 miles of it. On his own. If that is not inspiring, I'm not sure what is.

Was it hard, to not be out there? Yes. Do I regret the decision I had to make. Not at all. I know that is what I needed to do.

Did it inspire me all the more to want to do it someday. YES! I can not wait for the green light to run again.

Thanks Dave, for conquering that race today. Thanks Shelby, for being his biggest fan and supporting him in training these past 3 1/2 months. Thanks Ben, for supporting me in the time of training I had. Thanks Dad and Mom, for being so supportive of all of us no matter what it is we are doing (or not able to do-for those encouraging words, Dad).

Thanks Dave for doing it even without your training buddy. Thanks for inspiring me! I'm glad I had some pears and strawberry jello dessert for you to eat afterwards. :)

I'll wait a few days before I ask you if you want to do it again, and that time, I WILL be running at your side!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Yes. No. Wait.

So tomorrow is the big half marathon I was supposed to run.

Life is funny. (Or should I say God has a sense of humor?) I probably wouldn't have been able to run the race anyway, even if my doctor told me I could.

I have been sick off and on for the past month-which would have made training a little difficult. While the sickness has been tough (since Ben, Kayla and I have been passing it back and forth to each other), I am thankful to have the reassurance that I really wasn't supposed to run tomorrow.

I guess I am the type of person that sometimes needs a brick hit over my head. Instead of a simple "no," I tend to need the huge thunderous "NOOOOOOOO!" (for now)

That's an interesting thought. "No" now, doesn't mean "no" next time. "Yes" now, doesn't mean "yes" next time. Silence now, doesn't mean silence next time.

This is why we must continue to seek Him-even when we aren't sure why we received the answer we did. We must trust that He is enough. If He decides to give us the answer we want, then that is just an added blessing!

Yes. No. Wait. Thankful that I know the One who has the answers. Whether or not he decides to give me the one I want doesn't matter. He just asks me to trust that He knows what I need. What I Need. Not want.

That's hard to swallow sometimes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


This is the second night in a row I haven't been able to sleep. I wake up at 2am WIDE awake, ready for the day.

It's amazing how fast the time flies during the day-when there seems to never be enough hours in the day, and how slow time creeps in the middle of the night when you feel as if the rest of the world is sleeping.

I've got a bad cold again, and I'm exhausted from taking care of my sweet baby who has been sick/teething for over two weeks now. All I want is some sleep, and my body won't let me.

So after an hour of laying in bed, thinking of all the things I wanted to do today when the rest of the world wakes up, I decided I might as well get up and do some of them. Maybe now that my head is cleared, I can sleep?

It takes me back to my days in the hospital after my emergency surgery last year. I couldn't sleep then because of the medication, because of the pain, because of the worry. So thankful to be on this side of that. I will take this kind of insomnia over that any day!

I laugh as I remember taking a sleeping pill one night in the hospital. They really wanted me to get some sleep, so they gave me the whole pill. You can ask my husband, mom and sister what I was like the next day. A little on the weepy/crazy side. Note to self-never take a sleeping pill. ha!

Well, here's to maybe a couple more hours of sleep yet tonight?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strike Two

Well, I was three weeks away from running my first half marathon when I get the news that I can no longer run more than two miles at a time.

This is the second race that I have trained for, only to be shopped short of my goal. The first time around, it was because I got pregnant, and my body couldn't handle the running. (Which was a GREAT reason.)

This time it is as a result of having a baby, and trying to run too much, too soon after giving birth. Wouldn't you know!

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not cut out for it. Ha!

Running a half marathon is on my "bucket list." It is something I have secretly wanted to do for some time now.

When visiting with my Doctor, he asked if I had been feeling ok while training. I really had been feeling great, up until my 8 mile run. After that run, I could tell my body was telling me I might be doing a little too much. A visit to my amazing doctor (I really consider him like a grandpa to me-a man who saves both mine and my daughter's lives holds a special place in my heart!), we concluded that I needed to let my body completely recover.

Ah, disappointment. Many emotions ran though my head as I processed the news.

First I was mad at myself that I had decided to start training. I honestly didn't think I was pushing myself too hard. He made me feel better when he told me, "if I had been on bed rest for four months, I probably would have signed up for a half marathon too." :) Then I realized, no, I can't beat myself up about a decision I made that I thought was right at the time. We all do that, right? Make decisions we thing are right/good, and sometimes they end up not being the best. But the past is the past, and we can't change that. We must more forward and live today that the Lord has made!

Then I was disappointed. For the past two and a half months, I have carved time into my schedule (with a baby, and a very busy husband) to go on runs. Had I just wasted so much of my time running the 90ish miles I have since Christmas?

Then I realized, no it was fun for me. Some of you may laugh at that. Running? Fun? It was good for me. It was a way for me to get out of the house and do something for myself. I think it is very important to do this as a mom, otherwise, you can get consumed in your roll only as a mommy. I knew I needed something like this to keep me well rounded, to be a better wife, AND mommy!

Then I felt bad because I was leaving my running buddy up in the air to do 13.1 miles on his own. It has been a lot of fun training with my brother-in-law, Dave. He is such a great guy, and it has been fun getting to know him better. You wouldn't think we would have the same pace, but quite frankly, we do! We are great running buddies! So, here I am, leaving him high and dry. He was nothing but supportive of the decision I had to make though.

Then I realized, wait, my Dr. said I could run 2 miles a couple times a week, so I am going to pace him on the last two miles of the race. I am really hoping they will let me do that. If not, I will still be there with my sign, smile and loudest cheering voice. I just might be his biggest fan that day. (Sorry, Shelb!)

If he can complete that, by himself (which I know he will), I will be so proud of him because I can't imagine doing something like that by myself. I am praying the Lord gives him extra strength during the race as I won't be there to help him through those tough miles.

So, strike two. Will I have the opportunity to do it again? I hope so. I see my doctor again in a couple of months, and I hope I get a green light. If not, I guess I will just continue to heal, and look forward to next years race season.

I guess that's why a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. It doesn't mean they will get done on "our timing." As is life, right? So often I plan and scheme and decided this is what will be done here and now, and then God says, "wait, are you letting me be in control of every area of your life?"

Such a hard lesson for me to learn, apparently. So, for now, I sit back, and wait. I sit back and be still. I sit back and do what's best for myself and my family and put my desires on the back burner. Life is not about me anyway.

If anyone wants to come help me cheer Dave on, 10:00am, next Saturday, March 5th down at the Wawawaii landing on the river!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Worker At Home

This has been on my heart in the past few days. I recently read over some notes from a Bible Study I attended for a short time at Faith Community Bible Church in Boise. A very wise woman (Patty!) shared some thoughts about being a Homemaker. I have done some reflecting and on Titus 2, and these are some combined thoughts!

Titus 2:4-5
"These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God."

There are seven instructions for women in these verse:

1. Love your husband
2. Love your children
3. Be sensible (live wisely)
4. Be pure
5. Be workers at home
6. Be kind (do good)
7. Be submissive to your husbands

Love your husband~How does one love your husband? There are different meanings to the word love.

Agape-brotherly love-true love-sacrificial love
Eros-passionate love
Philia-friendship love
Storge-natural affection (like a parent to a child)

This word has so much power behind it. There are times when it can be overused, and loose it's value. There are also times when it is never said-from a parent to a child, from spouse to spouse, from friend to friend and it has a life-long effect. Then there are times when it is finally said- when someone has been waiting their whole life to hear it-and when they finally do, it means more than they ever imagined it would.

What about those people that are single, and desire to be married? I struggle with this-especially since I have some incredible single women in my life that desire to "love" a husband.

Love your Children~

The root of this is the "storge" love-the natural affection that a parent has for a child. I never understood this until I was pregnant with our first child. When we lost our baby, I felt as if a part of me was gone too. I had a love for this baby that I couldn't explain, even though I had never held it in my arms. Now, with Kayla, I feel this love again. It is a different love from the love I have for my husband, family, for my friends.

Again, what do women do with this command that are not able to bear children. Another struggle I have. I have women in my life that desire to have this "love" for one of their own, and yet, for some reason, they are not able to have a child.

So are they commanded to love the "children" in their lives? The children that they are around? What about their desire to have their own?

Be Sensible (Wise)~

This can encompass so many things! When I think about being "sensible," I think about having common sense. For some reason, the idea of spending money comes to mind on this one. Being the main caretaker of the home, I tend to be the one that purchases most things for the house. Being wise and sensible to me means making sure I am buying what is needed, and not always what is "wanted." Being a shopper-I sometimes struggle with this. But before each purchase, I should ask myself, do we really need this?

The verse also comes to mind about asking the Lord for wisdom. Being a wife and mother can be a daunting task. You are constantly making decisions, all day, every day. Like right now-as I type-my baby has awoken from her nap, and I am trying to let her cry herself back to sleep. How long do I let her cry? Lord, give me wisdom. What will I make for dinner? What can I make that will be healthy? How can I encourage my husband tonight? What will be do this weekend? How can I honor God with these every day decisions? Lord, give me wisdom!

Be Pure~

Pure in mind and heart. Making sure I am being led by the Holy Spirit on a daily, moment by moment basis. I forget to just ask to be empowered!

The fruits of the Spirit come to mind: Love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do I pray these for myself? For my daughter? For my home to be a place where these reside? Does my life produce these fruits?

Workers at Home~

This is the big one I have been thinking about. Our society does everything it can to pull us away from this. Even in our "Christian" circles.

Being a stay-at-home mom (or worker at home) is a thing of the past. What happened to the days of mom's "staying home", raising their children, being in communion with other mom's doing the same thing?

The biggest reason? We need the money. We can't live on one salary. Then my question is-at what "level" are you trying to live at? By who's standards are you living at? Are you buying things you shouldn't? Have you gotten yourself into debt you can't get out of? Maybe we need to re-evaluate our priorities.

Another reason-I just need to get out of the house. Do you really want to "work" to do this? Why not join a mom's group? Find a gym that has child care? Swap babysitting with a neighbor so you can have time out alone.

So many thoughts...

I'm not saying working outside of the home is wrong, I think this is something you and your husband have to pray about and decide what is best for your family. But I do know the Bible is very clear about the fact that we are to be "workers at home." So, if we aren't able to fulfill these duties, then we definitely shouldn't be working outside the home.

I just know I was challenged when I looked at this again. This is what I am called to. It's not a decision to just "stay home," it is a calling-I am to be a worker at home. To clean, organize, provide a place to bring others to, to make my family feel loved and welcome. What am I letting stand in the way of this?

Be kind~

Does it get any simpler than that? Be kind-am I putting other's needs ahead of my own? Am I kind to the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Am I choosing to be kind to my husband when he comes home, even if I have had a stressful day at home?

Be submissive to your husband~

There are a lot of different ways I could jump here, but I think the best way to sum this up is to make sure I am showing respect to my husband all the times. That I am enabling him to be the leader of our home. That I encourage him to provide for our family. That we make the tough decisions together, but ultimately, lean on his wisdom, as he is seeking the Lord for us. It isn't to be a door mat. It is to walk hand-in-hand with towards a common goal!

Well, lots of questions today-I would love to hear your thoughts!

I pray for the strength to be a Titus 2:4-5 woman! What an incredible calling!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Passion for Relationships! Calling all Moms!

Don't we all have an inner desire to connect with other people-especially those at the same stages of life?

I know this has been a passion of mine ever since I can remember-

to connect with others-to know what they are passionate about-to know what makes them laugh-to know what makes them cry.

So, I have recently entered a "new stage," I guess you could say-mommy hood! I am loving it! I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to be a "stay-at-home" mom. So many people can't/don't want to do that these days, so I am so blessed to have this opportunity to.

I can see how a stay-at-home mom can become disconnected from the outside world, though. I can see how easy it might be to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of life, and taking care of your child. I'm not saying that that is wrong, but I think it can become all-consuming if you let it.

I know I fall victim to being "lukewarm" sometimes. Lukewarm about my lot in life, lukewarm about my relationships, lukewarm about what my purpose is, lukewarm about my spirituality. (this is the scariest of all!)

Thankfully I serve a God full of grace and mercy that drags me back from these times of being "lukewarm." I am at that point now. I don't want to become a "lukewarm" mother or wife. I want to live with purpose and passion to bring Glory to God in all that I do, in whatever I do.

Some days, that is choosing to have joy when I'm listening to my baby cry
Some days, that is choosing to have a positive attitude towards my husband when he comes home from work, even if I have had a long day
Some days, that is choosing to be intentional about building better relationships
Some days, that is choosing to spend time with the Lord first, before the list of chores
Some days, that is spending time just "being" with my daughter, leaving my "to-do" list for a later time

It has been on my heart for some time now to be a part of a Mom's group. To connect with other moms in a relaxed setting. To connect with other women about real, every day life. To connect with other women's children.

So many ideas are running through my head, so I have decided to do something about it. With the Lord's help, I hope to start:

Mom's Morning Out!

My vision: To be intentional about building relationships with other women and children!

My mission: To reach the mom's of the Palouse area. To provide opportunities for mom's to connect with other mom's. To provide places for mom's to bring their children to connect with other children. To learn the hearts of these moms!

So, we set out on this adventure. This Tuesday, February 1st at 10:00am, at the McDonald's (by Arby's in Pullman), we will meet for the first time. I want to hear their thoughts. I want to hear what they want to get out of this. I want to see what might come of this time of fellowship.

So, if you have kids-come-bring them. Take a giant leap of faith, and share this with someone you know that might need/want to be a part of something like this.

Together, we can encourage each other and work at changing the world, one little heartbeat at a time!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life Lessons Learned from my Grandpa

I spent the entire afternoon in my Grandpa Morgan's (dad's dad) hospital room. He developed a very severe case of pneumonia last week, and has been in the hospital ever since. Mind you, this is no ordinary man. He may be 79, but he acts like he's 59! He has a passion for working with his hands to restore the old and build the new. So this caught us all by surprise.

I will admit. I am not used to seeing him so weak. I know there will come a day when I have to say goodbye on this side of eternity, and I think that reality set in this week.

As Kayla and I spent the afternoon with him, I was reminded again how much we have to learn from our older generations if we will only take the time.

* You are never too old to learn something new. May I always keep this mindset!
* Humility is something we all need a dose of from time to time.
* Never pass up the opportunity to share what Christ has done in your life with those around you-even in your darkest hours.
* You may not always have the right words, but you can always be available.
* We have so much, and take it for granted too often
* Prayer is more powerful than we think
* It takes three to make a marriage last (one should know that's been married 60 years): you, your carefully chosen one, and the Lord
* Tears are NOT a sign of weakness
* It takes more strength to receive kindness and help than it does to give it
* Everyone deserves a second chance and a healthy dose of respect
* Life is too short to live in any other way but to cherish each day that has been given to us
* I have an incredible, incredible family heritage-and this is only by God's GRACE

I also experienced something incredible today.

My Grandpa Miller (my mom's dad), came to visit Grandpa Morgan. He didn't want to be a bother, but wanted to encourage Grandpa Morgan. So what did he do? He asked if he could pray with him. So there I sat, listening to one grandpa pray for another grandpa, and I saw a glimpse of heaven. Two men, who love the Lord with all their heart, who raised Godly children that found each other, and who have had children and grandchildren of their own that have chosen to follow the Lord. It brought tears to my eyes.

It is by God's grace that I am a part of that heritage. May it not stop with me, but may the Lord see to it that we continue to walk with Him to bring up the next generation in a Godly way.

Thank you Grandpa for these needed reminders today. We pray you continue to gain strength, so you can continue to serve our Lord! As you said today, "I'm not sure why I'm here, but I guess God's not finished with me yet!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Beginning

Hello blog world! I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I have decided that I want to get back into sharing my thoughts, as I think it is medicine to my soul!

Kayla is almost 5 months now, and she fills our lives with so much love! It has been some of the most challenging 5 months, but also some of the most rewarding. She hasn't been an "easy" baby at all-in fact, quite the opposite! We have dealt with reflux, and with that has come quite a bit of uneasiness on her part. You could just tell she didn't feel good for so long. Then we were able to put her on some medication, which has helped! I think she is beginning to grow out of it, which we are thankful for. Her demeanor is just different-she seems so much happier!

She is a little me. Of which, I feel sorry for her! :) You can tell she has a "go, go, go" personality, which also presents it's challenges. Sleep, ah sleep. What's that?! She is not a great napper-I've tried all the tricks of the trade, and I have come to realize that she is one of those babies that doesn't want to miss out on anything, and doesn't require as much sleep. So, we just tackle each day as it comes!

I keep reminding myself how thankful I am for my time on bed rest-I knew I was storing up for the future. So I'm trying to tap into that reserve right now!

So many joys come with being a mom, and I feel so incredibly grateful that God has entrusted us to care for Kayla.

Grace has a whole new meaning in my life now.

It is because of his Grace that we live and breath and have life.
It is because of his Grace that I have an incredible husband who is very supportive and loving.
It is because of his Grace that we have a beautiful and healthy baby
It is because of his Grace that I have the strength to make it through the days (and nights)when I feel as if I have nothing left to give
It is because of his Grace that I have the ability to pursue the things I love and enjoy
It is because of his Grace that I was born here in America into a loving, caring family
It is because of his Grace that I have an incredible extended family who loves on Ben, Kayla and I

Well, those are my random thoughts for now. More to come later. For now, though, I choose to live in His Grace for today. Not to be overwhelmed by the night ahead of me, by the lack of sleep I get, by the piles of things "to do," but to live in THIS MOMENT. For we never get the days and moments back, so why do we try and rush through them?

Today is the day the Lord has made!