Saturday, March 31, 2012

To Market, To Market sell our big house.  This is a big one for us, folks.  Something that has been years in the making.  No, we're not moving out of the area...although sometimes I miss IN so much I want to go back!  No, we're just trying to be obedient to what we feel God has led us to do.

Scene.  It was summer of 2009.  I had just graduated.  We had just moved from IN to SD and were living in an apartment that we were quickly growing out of.  The plan was to stay there a few months as we looked for our perfect know, the one you're going to live in forever and pass down to your children so they can pass it down to their children get the picture, right?  We looked at close to forty houses and found flaws with each one of them.  I can't believe our realtor stayed with us, actually... :-/  It was too small, or it was settling, or there was no backyard, or whatever.  We got so good at picking out the things we thought were "wrong" with the house, it seemed we were unable to see any of the positives in them.  We told ourselves there was no way we could live with less than 3000 square feet, or oak cabinets, and six-panel solid wood doors were a must.  The more houses we looked at, the more our priorities got skewed. Wait...let's back up a bit.

Scene.  I was in pharmacy school and we were dreaming of what our life would be like once I was finally done.  We talked about how it would be ideal if I could work two or maybe three days a week.  But even though I would be working, we planned to live off Gregg's salary so if for some reason I ended up not working we would be okay.  And in doing that it would free up my salary for things that were important to giving uninhibitedly.  It was all planned would be perfect.  Back to 2009.

Hiccup number one - my job offer was for a full-time position.  Okay, we knew this might happen.  We'll roll with it and in a few months to a year see if I can go part-time.  No big deal.  Hiccup number two - we weren't finding that perfect house in our original price range so we kept going up and up...and up, and up, and up.  Numbers we once thought were astronomical to spend on a house were left in the dust on our way to finding The One.  Hiccup number three - I had suffered a miscarriage in the apartment and I made an association between the two that was hard for me to get over.  Being there was a constant reminder of the loss.  We had to get out.

Enter our current home.  We thought about it...and went over the numbers...and thought about it some more.  Now if there's one thing that Gregg and I hate, it's debt.  We made the decision to buy the house only if we could pay it off in less than 10 years, otherwise it just wasn't worth it to us.  So we looked at the numbers again and knew it was we bought.

It's a good house.  Very well built and full of the things we wanted.  We compromised on some things - like the purple carpet - AARRGGHH!!  Don't get me started.  But all in all, it was beautiful.  It seemed to be the right decision, but I always felt a  I blamed it on the interesting paint colors or the chandelier in the dining room...once I change it, it will feel more like home...right?

Wrong.  The feeling didn't go away.  Gregg and I found ourselves explaining why we had such a big house to everyone that entered our home.  This is funny because no one ever said anything about it.  Does this speak of some sort of conviction?  Hmmm....  Once Micah came along, that unsettled feeling seemed to grow and grow.  I was still working full time and just as my maternity leave was ending, I realized...I want to be at home with my babies.  That's okay, right?  I just won't go back to work.  Oh, wait...we had our 10 year plan.  This won't work.  So I went back to work, and we stayed on track.  Over the next year and a half we played around with my schedule...trying to come up with some sort of compromise that would allow me to be at home more often and pay down our mortgage.  I went three days a week, switched jobs, went full time again, then part time again, then 7 on-7 off overnights, then part time again.  My schedule was so jacked up the kids (or I, for that matter) didn't know if we were coming or going.  Not ideal.

Scene.  It's 2012.  Over the past year and a half we've been through a lot of....stuff.  Eric's death, marital difficulties, a church change, an RA diagnosis for momma, and a PDD-NOS diagnosis for Will....I'm sure I'm leaving something out.  All of this combined with exponential spiritual growth for both Gregg and I (more so Gregg) has led us to this decision to sell our home.  We love this house, and the truth is even though it's been a constant "issue" since we moved in, I'm finding myself right smack in the middle of a war...a war between the flesh and what I know needs to be done.  We need to sell our house. 

Please know that I don't think there is anything wrong with a larger house, or wood floors, or a huge yard.  As I've often said, it comes back to a heart issue.  We had to ask ourselves, "At what cost?"  At the cost of me shuffling my boys to daycare, to grandma's, to school, to...  and all the while feeling the strain between the professional me and the mommy me.  It wasn't working for us...our hearts weren't right.  So we're taking the first step...we're selling the house.

Please pray for us during this time.  That God would give us peace to know we're doing the right thing.  That He would provide a buyer.  That He would give us patience once we start looking for our new home and a sense of contentment once we find it.  We so appreciate your prayers...we need them.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hangin' With My Boys

I got to do something with my boys today that I don't do all that often...we just sat.  Daddy wasn't feeling super great today, so it was just me and the little ones making do.  Seriously most of the day was a little stressful.  Not because it was just me with them (those are usually my best days)...just too many things on our plates right now and not enough time in the day....we're still in that reprioritization phase and sometimes it takes a little elbow grease to get where you need to be.  In the words of Beth Moore: "Does anyone...know...what I'm talking about?"  But I digress.  Me and the boys...all day...trying to get things success.  And all the stress made for a momma that was a little short with some undeserving boys.   And to be completely honest, this RA is still getting me down.  Fatigue creeps up on me to the point I don't know what hit me and I have to sit at that moment or I'll run myself into the ground.  So that's what we did tonight.  We rented a movie, made popcorn with a few jelly beans thrown in - you know, for a little color - and we sat down on the couch all snuggled up with blankets...or 'nugel as Micah calls it.  Love that boy!

Now Will's attention span is long enough to sit and watch a movie.  Micah on the other hand...well...  It started off well.  He sat and ate his popcorn and laughed and commented on those silly penguins...for about 15 minutes.  Then he got distracted.  The remote caught his eye.  The neighbor boys outside.  The jelly bean that had fallen behind the couch.  He was all over the place which evoked the response, "Uh! Micah MOVE!" from the older brother...which caused him to MOVE.  He shook his little butt all over the living room and thought he was just the funniest thing.  Man, I wish I took more video of these boys...mental pictures just aren't enough sometimes! :) 

Bedtime rolled around for the little man, so that left just me and Will.  Me and my sweet first born laughing at the crazy penguins and then after the movie talking and laughing about them even more as I tucked him in.  I'm so thankful God gives these little gifts when they're so needed, even if they're so undeserved.  I'm so thankful I decided to just put everything that needs to be done aside and just sit with my boys...I need to do it more often...and Lord willing, I will.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

See The Schmidts Run

My life is flashing before my eyes.  That's something you're supposed to say when you have a near death experience, right?  I feel like I'm saying that on a daily basis.  Sometimes I feel like Gregg and I are the main characters in a Dick And Jane early reader book...See Gregg run.  See Martha run faster.  See Gregg and Martha run so fast through this life that the next thing they know the boys are grown and living out of state and they'll wonder what happened.  Sound familiar to anyone?

I have been guilty all too often of the mindset, "If I just get through this (insert said event), things will slow down for us."  Then I'll have more time to read my Bible, or sit with the boys, or (dare I say it?) take care of myself.  If. I. Just. Get. Through. This......  It never happens.  Will is almost five now....FIVE.  I look at pictures of him when we first moved back to South Dakota and he looks like a baby to me.  This is scary because in my mind we just moved back here.  In reality, though, that was more than half of his life ago.  Stuff has happened since then.  Life has happened...the good, the bad, and unfortunately, the really ugly.  And it's all happening way too quickly.  Way too quickly.

Over the past few months...well, year or so really...several things have happened that have made me stop and take a good hard look at how we've been living this life.  I took a step back...looked at our lives as an outsider...tried to get a fresh, new perspective on things.

I have been so grateful over these past few months for a praying husband who stays in the Word and desires to lead his family well.  I have also been grateful that I've been able to stay in the Word fairly consistently myself.  This has allowed us to be able to analyze our day to day activities and reevaluate our priorities with a more eternal perspective...a more Godly perspective.  What would Jesus say if He walked into our lives right the mess that it is?  Would He be pleased?  Would He be ashamed to call us His children?  Would there be things I'd try to hide in the closet or sweep under the rug?  These are questions that have surfaced many, many times over the years.  Questions I would think about for a while and then push back to the dark corners of my mind after the answers I came up with were less than flattering...or convicting.

Well, we're not pushing them back any longer.  The reevaluation process has gone on long enough...time is flying by all too quickly and I don't want to wake up one day and come to the realization my life has passed and I don't have any more time to reprioritize.  No more excuses.  No more "Once this, then, God...then I will live how You want me to live."  No more.  More on that to come....  ;)

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise." 
~Ephesians 5:15

Sunday, March 4, 2012

By the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of Our Testimony

Have you ever known someone who you looked up to because they were what you wanted to be as a Christian?  They seemed to do everything right and always had a right perspective on life - both the ups and downs.  Then one day you heard their testimony and it absolutely floored you.  Floored you because it was full of a crazy life so far from God that if you had met them during that time you would have chalked them up as a lost cause.  Does hearing that testimony nullify what you had thought of them before you heard it?  Does it make you rethink what you know of God and His people?  Or did it confirm and maybe even enhance what you know to be true?  That He is an all powerful God capable of bringing anyone through the pit of despair and into a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Your faith was most likely strengthened and maybe there was someone else who heard that testimony and for the first time saw the power of God at work in a tangible way.

All too often I am silent.  I don't share what God has done for me for a number of reasons.  I don't want to look stupid in from of my super smart, super educated friends and family.  I don't want to be seen as a "hypocrite" because of the life I used to live or even because of the shortcomings I am still guilty of today.  I don't want to be confrontational.  I don't want to be asked something that I won't know the answer to...after all my Bible knowledge isn't what it should be.  Sound familiar?  So I stay silent and in my silence I am robbed of the power of my testimony.  Revelation 12:11 says, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony."  Who is "him"?  Satan.  We overcome Satan because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross (blood of the Lamb) and by our testimony about Jesus...who He is and what He has done for us.  So I will not be is my testimony...

I grew up in a Christian home. Both of my parents are believers and we were regular church attenders.  I remember accepting Christ into my life at an early age, but for whatever reason during my teen years I walked away.  I don't think I was a particularly "bad kid" (I guess you can ask my parents), but I did not seek God and had absolutely no desire to.  When I got to college I took advantage of the absence of parental guidance and kind of went a little crazy.  Partying became a regular part of my life.  Although I worked hard and did well in school, I played even harder...and I seemed to get away with it without consequence.  Just reinforcement to my behavior.  Some people can't stand the feeling of being drunk...being out of control.  I loved it.  I was never a super outgoing person.  I was always self-conscious and quiet, but alcohol gave me a gateway to be who I thought I wanted to I could be myself while full of a mind-altering, foreign substance.  Like I said, it seemed to be without consequence and so I kept going.  By the end of my undergraduate career I was going out (or drinking at home) about 4 to 5 nights a week and there didn't seem to be an end in sight...nor did I want there to be one.

Soon after graduation Gregg and I were married and we moved to Lafayette, IN.  Moving to a place where we knew absolutely no one sent me into a state of almost depression and the only way I knew to get out of it was to drink...and this time it wasn't for was because I didn't know what else to do.  I thought it was the solution.  Gregg went a different direction.  We had started attending a church...a really good Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church and Gregg was growing...changing.  It was obvious he had put his faith and hope in Jesus Christ, and I didn't like it one bit.  Remember, I grew up in a home where I was taught that God was the Creator of the universe.  I believed this...I just had no desire to let Him have any part in my life, and the fact that Gregg was letting Him in really ticked me off.  I thought he wasn't the man I married anymore...he's too different...maybe I made a mistake.

The funny thing is he didn't shove Jesus down my throat.  He didn't tell me over and over again that I needed to make a change.  He just kept growing, and I just kept pulling away.  Kept finding any excuse I could to keep drinking.  Remember those consequences I though I had escaped?  Well they began to show up...elevated liver enzymes, extreme weight gain, and anxiety that began to creep in ever so silently and then proceed to take over every single corner of my mind.  I was in that far down with no way out except to drink more...or end it all.  Although this thought never came close to fruition, you better believe it crossed my mind.  I kept on in a downward spiral until one day laying on the couch so caught up in my own anxieties and self-pity I finally decided that enough was enough.  What I was doing wasn't working for me.  The drinking...the anxiety medication...trying to hold on to the life I used to have - the one I thought I wanted.  God finally showed me the emptiness of my ways.  It was almost as if He was asking me, "What are you waiting for?  You're looking for a way out...lay it down."  It was that day I decided to lay my burdens down at the feet of Jesus and surrender my life to Him.  You know something?  I woke up the next morning without that constant desire to have a drink in my hand.  I woke up with a peace I had never before a burden had been lifted...a burden I was never meant to bear.

Now I'm not saying that I've never again felt the urge to drink after that...I'm not even saying I never got drunk again.  I'm not saying my life has been void of troubles or that sin isn't a common occurrence in my life.  The difference is, I look to Jesus.  I have realized I am a sinner.  I've turned it over to God, asked for forgiveness, and accepted the gift...the free gift of God's grace, and now I am free.  I am not bound by sin and death.  It has been covered.  I am forgiven.  Does this give me a license to sin?  Absolutely not.  Why would I mock my Savior and purposefully sin because I know "it's covered"?  Like I have a spiritual Get Out Of Jail Free card in my pocket.  That's not the way it works.  While sin is unfortunately still a part of my life (Paul says in Romans, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."), my daily goal is to take up my cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  I want to live my life worthy of my calling (Ephesians 4:1)...a life pleasing to the Lord.

Even as I write this I am having second thoughts on posting it...what if "so-and-so" sees this?  Huh.  Did you know there is a pastor over in Iran who is awaiting his execution because he will not renounce his faith in Christ?  And I'm worried about a coworker or an old college friend seeing this and thinking I'm an idiot...seems ridiculous doesn't it?  So I will post it.  I will not be silent.  I will tell people what God has done for me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Beautiful Boy

My momma heart is least is was on Wednesday and now it's slowly on the mend. But it will break again....over and over and over.  We knew from an early age that something just wasn't "quite right" with Will.  Since he was two and a half he's been receiving services to help him with his delays in speech, cognitive, and social development.  Words such as "autism" and "Asperger's" were mentioned here and there, but there was never a definitive diagnosis given.  Wednesday we finally got our diagnosis - Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).  I know what you're thinking...what the heck does that mean?  I's kind of a mouthful.  It means he doesn't really fit anywhere...he displays autistic tendencies, but doesn't meet all the criteria; his delay in speech excludes him from an Asperger's diagnosis; and he's not "normal."  So he gets this default diagnosis...almost like the null hypothesis of The Autistic Spectrum.

The Spectrum...huh.  I thought we might be able to avoid this categorization.  Two and a half years ago when we started all this, I was about positive he was autistic.  He displayed so many of the tendencies and just didn't talk.  There didn't seem to be any understanding when we spoke to him.  But since then he's made huge the point where I thought, 'He's grown out of this.  He won't need extra services.  We've beaten this.'  We started talking about where he'll go to school next year...maybe we can send him to the Christian school like we wanted...maybe we can get by with just a little bit of speech therapy each week - or maybe none...maybe he can be normal.

Normal.  What is normal, anyway?  I'll tell's the expectation you have before you become a momma.  Your excitement is sparked by the two pink lines and you start to wonder what he's going to look like.  You look ahead to daddy teaching him how to fish or to his first day of school.  You look to birthday parties and sleep overs with all his friends.  I still had hopes of these things...until Wednesday.  My hopes are gone.  This may never be a reality for Will, and my heart is broken.  Is he ever going to experience true friendship?  Will he ever find someone that can get past his weirdness and social awkwardness and get to know him for the super sweet boy he is?  Will he always be the odd kid?

Remember, this isn't autism...he's not shut off in his own little world with no concept of what's going on around him.  The thing about PDD-NOS is that he totally wants to be normal...he wants to fit in and be liked, but he doesn't know how to do that.  He's super sensitive and my mommy defenses go up every time he tells me someone was mean to him.  Or when I see he's not being loved the way I know he needs to be loved.  I want to protect him...keep him with me forever...never let him get hurt by the mean kid at the party or the teacher who's annoyed with him.  I don't want him to know that heartache...I want to take it away for his filter...his sieve of emotional protection.

I've had these thoughts and feelings off and on over these past few years, and they all resurfaced on Wednesday when we were given his diagnosis.  I was pretty down...wondering where we went wrong or if I ate something I shouldn't have when I was pregnant with him.  Gregg knew my thoughts and reminded me again that Will was made just as God intended.  This was no mistake, no accident.  Heart on the mend.  God has brought many people into my life that have special needs kids...many who have much more severe diagnoses than Will.  I'm always encouraged by their their reminders that our children were created by God, knit together while we were still carrying them (Psalm 139:13).  He is beautiful and just the way God intended.  Sweet, loving, and a 100% momma's boy...okay 99%.

I need to stop focusing on the difficulties or the issues I perceive as negative and enjoy the wonderful things that make Will...Will.  And guess what.  That includes this thing called PDD-NOS...this catch-all diagnosis that is now part our lives...his life.  I know my heart will break again...the next time he's left out at a birthday party, or when he just can't get a concept at school, or the ultimate heartache...will he ever have the ability to really understand the message of the gospel and accept for himself the love and promise that Christ has to offer?  Yes, my momma heart will break, but it will mend again as I choose to trust the plan God has for our lives, including this diagnosis and all that comes with it.  And along the way I will bring all my anxieties and fears to the feet of Jesus and He will give me peace that will allow me to embrace my baby boy for who he is...and he is beautiful.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
~Philippians 4:6-7