Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Roaring Twenties

This entire year, with my 30th birthday looming ahead of me, I have been reflecting on my 20's. I feel that I will look back over my life and think that the 20's were my hardest years.

They were the years I became a mom, three times; the years of sleepless nights and uncomfortable pregnancies; the years of sending my husband off to boot camp, countless training trips, and 3 deployments. In my twenties, I had to face my own demons and decide if I was going to conquer and overcome...or let them overcome me. I definitely see that in my early 20's I was very reactive to the things around me, allowing myself to be tossed about by the changes and struggles of life. I didn't handle many things very well. But I am so thankful for the Lord's patience with me, the spurring on of His Holy Spirit toward growth, and the opportunities He provides for me to practice what I am learning.

I put together a reflection of the past decade and hope that in following my journey you are able to see the transformative power of Christ. If there is one thing I can say, it is that I entered into my twenties a different person than I am leaving them. Glory be to God.

20- On my 20th birthday I had a one-month-old baby. I was recovering from an emergency c-section, and my marriage was only 7 months old. I was struggling with body image, identity, postpartum depression, and anxiety. My future looked bleak and I felt stuck and alone. I started going back to church but not consistently and not experiencing very much growth.

21- When I was 21, my husband went off to bootcamp for the Navy. He left right before our second anniversary and I remember crying the entire way home after I dropped him off. My life suddenly felt so uncertain, I felt out of control. And so I turned to exercise to help me cope. I also began eating less and less; every aspect of my life felt out of my control, while food was the one thing that I could have complete control over. I liked the control that it made me feel when my body cried out for food and I denied it. This was the only area I felt that I had any control over.

22- At twenty-two I hopped on a plane for the very first time with my two-year-old daughter and flew across the country, leaving my family and all that was familiar to me behind. I had no idea what awaited me when I landed; I had definitely never been to California before. What I found was a tiny apartment in paradise, a husband I hadn't seen in 3 months, and some of the best friends I will ever have. This is also when my faith slowly--very slowly--started to grow deeper as I plugged into a sweet lady's Bible study and began to surround myself with strong Christian sisters; our church attendance was still inconsistent, though.

23- At twenty-three I watched my husband graduate his training. After two years, he made it. We made it. I also had my second baby: another daughter. I didn't struggle so much with postpartum depression this time, but I did push myself too hard and too quickly to get back into shape. I was homeschooling my oldest daughter and couldn't wait to welcome our second little girl into our routine. I was beginning to feel some sense of purpose in being a wife and mom, and enjoyed time with my daughters, but I still struggled a lot with depression and anxiety. My relationship with the Lord still needed a lot of work.

24- At twenty-four, our family underwent our first deployment. The girls were 4 and barely 1, and my emotions were high. I felt afraid and though I had made some wonderful friends by this time, I still was very lonely. I missed my family. And so I went to visit them for 6 weeks and came home to a wet, moldy apartment. I hadn't had the forethought to ask a friend to pop over and check on things while we were out of town, and apparently our upstairs neighbor's shower water had trickled into our bathtub and just kept overflowing, filling our apartment with dirty bath water. Gross. We also didn't have renter's insurance, and so we lost a lot of our stuff. I had to deal with this, move out, and find a new place to rent...all by myself. But God, in His grace, provided sweet friends to help along the way. We were blessed with places to stay, friends to help us move, and lots of support & prayers. For the first time I was seeing for myself the importance of the body of Christ in taking care of one another.

25- Life was trucking along. We had a church home, friends more like family, a good routine. Our lives revolved around church and homeschooling, play dates and nap times. Now that I look back, it seems so simple. But my husband was away a lot of the time and depression became my close friend. I still struggled sometimes with not wanting to eat when I felt overwhelmed, and had to fight that urge to deprive myself of food. Slowly I began to learn healthy ways of coping with all the stress that comes with military life.

26- This year saw our family through our second deployment, during which the kids and I moved in with my mom. I found out shortly after my husband left that I was expecting our third child: a boy! Excitement. The kids and I moved back to California just before my husband came home, without a place to live. We ended up staying in a hotel for about two months while we waited on a place to become available to us. It was stressful and I was very pregnant and anxious, ready to nest without any place to do it. We finally were able to find a place just before our son was born.

27- My 27th birthday saw me enormously pregnant with our son. He was born two weeks after my birthday, a week past his due date. I enjoyed his newborn years more than I did with the girls; it was like I sensed he would be my last one, and wanted to soak in every moment. I gave myself permission to sit and hold him instead of doing the dishes and began to exercise slowly, when I was ready to. This was also the year we traded in our last cool card and bought a minivan.

28- And another deployment. Seven months this time, our longest to date, and I felt every moment of it. We had to move out of our rental before my husband left, and so for several months we just kind of bounced around, while we waited on our own house to be built. Our things were in storage for nine months and it was hard. I missed having a routine, having space to homeschool the kids, knowing where all my things were...but I was maturing in the Lord, and feel like I handled the stress rather well. We were able to fly back to California, sign the papers, and move in about 2 weeks before my husband was due home. It was a whirlwind and it was exhausting. I'd prefer to never have to build a house again; it is a long process and always, always takes longer than you anticipate in the beginning. But we are thankful, and we saw the Lord's provision in many ways! He sent my uncle and some sweet friends to help me with the moving and settling in during those first few days. So thankful.

29- A mom of three. A new house. Two girls to homeschool. A church home that we love. And looking ahead to no deployments for at least a couple of years. A husband who is home.

I have learned so many lessons in this blessed, difficult decade. A decade of transformation & growth, of provision and grace. The Lord has repeatedly put us in situations where we have no home, no belongings, and have to rely on the people He uses to help us. I have learned and decided that possessions really mean so little; I am simply not attached to them like I used to be.

I don't know all that the Lord plans to do with my life, I can't see the full picture: only the first thirty years of it. But I do know that where He leads me, His provision will cover me; I know that He is just full of mercy and grace. I know that He is a Redeemer God, and ever so faithful to those who love Him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Vow Renewal

I have been waiting for the right words to come to me before posting my photos, but they have been elusive.

How can you put into words ten years of struggles, growth, pain, healing? Ten years of marriage, children, faith, failure and victory? Ten years of life?

When we married I was 19 and three months pregnant. I was just emerging from the fog of utter exhaustion and intense all-day nausea. When you look back at pictures from that day, you can see it. I didn't put in a lot of effort. I wasn't a gushing bride. I was afraid, insecure, unsure of what my future held. I was being pushed into a life that I wasn't yet ready for.

For years I have looked back at those pictures and felt regret. We didn't do it right, and I wanted a do-over.

And so, I always knew a vow renewal would be in the cards for us. A chance to do things right.
I wanted the day to be all about our family, a chance for two sides to enjoy the company and fellowship of one another. It was my hope that we would all gather together and look back on ten years, seeing clearly God's blessing and provision.

I reached out to my grandfather, affectionately known as Grandy, and asked him to officiate. Other than that the ceremony was simple. Short and sweet. I wanted it that way.

I am so thankful for God's redemptive hand on our marriage. I am thankful for the family He has gifted us with. I am thankful for the struggles He has put us through, because they have helped to grow us up and deepen us in our faith.

I am not that 19 year-old girl any more. Justin and I have both grown up together, our marriage has taken on a new life and sense of purpose. God is faithful to redeem what you thought lost, to add purpose where you saw none, and to bring beauty to the tough places.
 



 




 

 




 











(Photos by www.meganrheaphotography.com )

Sunday, January 29, 2017

love must be tough

Question: When Jesus was here, walking the earth, did he only preach things that made people feel good?
Did he only spend time with those he agreed with?
Did he only show compassion and love to those who believed the truth or who lived nice, clean lives? 
Did he only die for the ones who loved him? 
Did he just nod his head and smile when he heard someone speaking falsehoods or half truths?

No.

Am I wrong, then, when I speak the truths no one wants to hear?
Am I wrong when I go against popular belief and speak what the Bible says instead?
Am I unloving because I disagree with you?
Do I not love you because I can’t support your choices and opinions that don’t line up with God’s word? 

And, anyways, what is love? 
GOD. 
God is love. 
Apart from him, there is no love to speak of. 

Apart from him we are all broken and lost and messed up. We are all sinners in need of a loving savior. We all have no hope apart from his grace.

Please know: if I don’t agree with you, that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. To love you means to speak truth into your life even when you don’t want to hear it. To love you means to hold you accountable to the person that God created you to be. To love you may mean to not support your decisions, if they go against God’s truth and prevent his best from entering your life. 

Love speaks light into the dark places, and truth into the tough ones. Love doesn’t always do what is easy or comfortable, sometimes love has to do the hard things, the messy things, the difficult things that bring us back to where we need to be.


This world has no idea what love is, really, because love cannot be known apart from our creator. He. Is. Love.

Friday, January 6, 2017

January Prompts

And just like that, another new year! I can hardly believe it is 2017, is this real life?! Last year was the fastest year of my LIFE!

One thing I LOVE to do is look back at my old journal and calendar from the past year. It reminds me of all the things we did, all the fun we had and hard things we overcame. It's pretty awesome to see. ;)

Every month I will be posting journal prompts to get you writing. Ever sit down with your journal or blog but just don't know what to write about?!? That's where my journal prompts come in. They are to serve as a guide to get your creative juices flowing. I like to take the questions and expand on them as much as possible. You may be surprised where it takes you ;)

JANUARY PROMPTS:

Write out your budget. Where do you need to spend less? More?
What are you most grateful for?
What is your #1 goal this year?
Are you content?
What is your best memory of 2016?
What was your last major accomplishment?
Can people change?
What possession can you not live without?
What are you excited for this year?
What are you reading?
What made you smile today?
What makes you angry?
Write out your goals.
What did you do for yourself today?
The best part of today was _____
What is the hardest thing you are dealing with?
Today I wish I had more _____
How is the weather lately?
Tomorrow will be better because _______
How are those goals going?
What made today unusual?
What was your biggest lesson learned last year? In what ways did it change you?
What is your favorite way to ring in the new year?
Tomorrow I will ______
What was your last big purchase?
My house is a home because ______
Who was the last person to tell you they love you?
I feel blessed today because ______
List three things you expect from your best friend:
If you could go anywhere, where would it be?
How is your health? What can you do to improve it?

Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Journal Prompts

Before things get too crazy around here I wanted to drop by and say hi, and leave you with your December journaling prompts!

When the year started I had planned to give you a list of prompts monthly to keep you inspired as you journal. Journaling has been such an enjoyable and therapeutic part of my growth and healing process that I really want to encourage others to explore this area more! I haven't been as consistent as I had hoped with posting the prompts but hopefully some of you have found the ones I have posted useful.

In December I always get the warm and fuzzies as I think back to Christmases past. It's such a magical time isn't it? And only made better by having my little people to share it with. I pray that each of you reading this post will remember the magic of the season and will be richly blessed this Christmas!

And now, here are your prompts! Happy journaling! :)

1)What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
2)What is your happiest Christmas memory?
3)What do you enjoy about winter?
4)Who are you spending Christmas with this year?
5)What are some of your goals for 2017?
6)What was the best Christmas gift you ever gave?
7)How does Jesus' birth impact you?
8)How do you bring Christ into your Christmas celebrations?
9)What is on your Christmas list?
10)List your goals for 2016. How many did you accomplish? How does that make you feel?
11)How is your marriage going right now? What can you do to make it even better?
12)What are your favorite Christmas traditions?
13)What do you love to do in the snow?
14)How do you keep yourself healthy during the winter?
15)Have you started any new Christmas traditions with your children?
16)What have you done for yourself lately?
17)What is your favorite Christmas movie? Song?
18)In all the hustle and bustle, what are some ways you can slow down and enjoy the season?
19)If you could go anywhere for Christmas, where would it be?
20)If you could write a letter to Mary (Jesus's mother), what would it say?
21)How is your budget? How can you stay on track through the Christmas season?
22)How can you let your friends know they are appreciated this Christmas in ways other than gift giving?
23)Making any homemade gifts? Jot your ideas:
24)As the year comes to an end, what were some favorite moments or accomplishments?
25)Have you let your parents know how much you appreciate them lately?
26)What do you wish had gone differently this year?
27)What do you look forward to in the new year?
28)List 5 ways to care for yourself this month:
29)What is a perfect date with your spouse?
30)Winter is...
31)Snow makes me feel...

(photo courtesy of insidescience.org)

Monday, November 28, 2016

read a little, grow a lot

Hi guys! I know I have been kind of absent from the blogosphere lately...well, really this entire year. WHERE has 2016 gone?! I feel like this has been the fastest year of my life! Between adjusting to being a family of 5, learning how to homeschool 2 instead of 1, and my husband constantly in and out for work...this year has been an absolute blur! I still keep writing 2015...guess I had better catch up, since 2017 is right around the corner!

A couple of you have asked what books and devotionals have helped me most in my personal walk with the Lord, so I put together a list for you! Reading and studying, praying, and talking with godly sisters who offer wisdom have been the key ingredients in helping me to grow and overcome the ugly in my past. I hope some of these suggestions will help you, too!

1) Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters- by Meg Meeker
This book highlights things that daughters need from their relationship with their fathers. It helped me to see what I should have gotten from mine, what I didn't get, and brought light to WHY I have the issues that I do. If you have daddy issues, read this book!

2) Power of a praying Wife- by Stormie Omartian
This book really helped my marriage to grow. There is something about praying for a person that changes and softens your heart. This book helped me to see my husband as a child who God loves, just like He loves me. And there is something so special about a wife's prayers for her husband.

3) Unglued- by Lysa Terkeurst
This book talks about emotions, and how not to be controlled by them. As women we are emotional creatures and that's ok...but when life gets tough what do we do? Are we held together by God's truth and promises? Or do we come unglued? A great read, Lysa has so much wisdom.

4) The Slight Edge- by Jeff Olson
This book talks a lot about success and what it takes to get there. Through reading this book I was able to see how important our little daily habits are, and why we should be mindful of them. I am going to have my kids read this book when they get older!

5) Fervent- by Priscilla Shirer
A book about prayer. Priscilla writes as though she is your best friend sitting with you sipping on a cup of coffee. Prayer is SUCH an important part of our spiritual walk. Don't shove it aside! This book highlights different areas in your life to cover in prayer in a simple yet effective & powerful way!

6) The Hole in our Gospel- by Richard Stearns
This book will challenge what you believe and value, which is good to do from time to time! Richard challenges the reader to take a good look at their walk with God and evaluate whether they are living out their faith...or just talking about it. LOVED this book!

7) Shepherding a Child's Heart- by Tedd Tripp
This book really held me accountable as a parent. Parenting is such a big and important job, I love reading what other christians have to say about things like discipline and growing children who love the Lord. I will probably read this book over and over!

Joining a women's Bible study group probably has helped me grow the most. Being able to talk it out,  to bring up things I don't understand or am struggling with...has really been an awesome thing! Also finding a pastor who gets you into the Word is vital!

Happy reading! And growing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sullivan on Strike

Well it would appear my Sully boy has given up nursing. This has hit me really hard the past couple of days, I think for a couple of different reasons.

For one, he quit with literally no warning. One day he was nursing 5-6 times a day, and the next day...nothing.

Also, it's my fault he quit. I was nursing him a couple of days ago and he kept biting me to see my reaction, so I flicked him (lightly) on the cheek. It broke his heart, I could tell, and in the process mine broke as well. I felt terrible...I still do.

And he's at such a busy age (11 months). He's not really wanting me to hold him as much, so feeding times were some of the only times we had just for us two. I'm sad it's over. I just wasn't ready yet, I didn't have time to prepare myself (can you tell I don't like change?).

The past few days I pumped a couple of times and fed it to him in a sippy cup. I also offered the breast to him often, only for him to turn away from me crying each time. I kept hoping he would get over it and come back to nursing, but I officially give up. It's become too stressful on us both so I guess we are moving on.

Still, the amount of rejection I feel has been surprising. But I do, I feel like my son is rejecting me (I guess all those issues are still lurking there somewhere). And the fact that he quit because of me and now won't nurse anymore makes me feel like he's holding a grudge against me...I know that's ridiculous and not true, but it's how I feel. I wanted him to forgive me and move on, and I felt like us regaining our nursing relationship would be proof to me that he had.

Ahhh, so many emotions! Who knew being a mother could cause you to feel so much, so deeply, about so many things. But as with all things, I'm trying to learn from this experience. What good do life experiences do us if we don't take a lesson from each of them? One thing I learned about Sullivan: he's tender hearted and very sensitive (like his mom, apparently). Knowing this so early on is a blessing because it will alter how I pray for, parent, and discipline him. He is a precious soul, he's healthy and happy, and he does still love me after all, so that's all that matters right?

Until next time,
Anna