Friday, November 13, 2015

Scheduling Time to Cry



The night of October 16, 2015, I sat on the closet floor of my master bedroom held in the arms of my husband. On earth, he is my rock! As he began to speak truth over my life and explain that I needed to allow myself to fully feel each and every emotion; I knew that he also wanted a reprieve from the constant waves of anger that seem to slip so easily from my mouth.

Crying becomes the hardest thing to do sometimes. I know that I have written about this before in my Major Meltdown or when I blogged about my tears in heaven. I am guilty of giving myself headaches from holding back the tears. Why is it so hard to admit that I am sad and that I miss my sister? I miss the fact that I can’t just pick up the phone and call her about “stupid” stuff anymore. I shared at her funeral that the verse that played repeatedly in my head after her death is that, Jesus wept. The shortest, but one of the strongest verses in the bible. He knew pure sadness and did not hold back. 

As my husband held me through my melt down on the six-month anniversary of losing my sister he said the following statement that has allowed me so much freedom lately, “Even if we are sitting in this exact same place and you are feeling this exact same way, it is okay. It is okay to feel, it is okay to be sad, it is okay to cry. Stop scheduling your time to grief, stop allowing yourself only Thursdays, the 16ths of each month, or special occasions. Feel this fully.”

Yesterday after a fitful night of sleep and feeling as if even the slightest comment could break the dam of tears I climbed into the bath at 5pm and later fell into bed in a full fledge fit of tears. As my massage therapist suggested I laid face down and let myself completely feel the loss. Kyle came in and spoke words of love and encouragement to me, but also realized that I needed to just feel the heartache. You cannot truly feel the loss of someone unless you allow yourself to have some quiet moments. I also realized that my anger isn’t directed at God, but at the fact that the world is full of sin and that Jesus has so much more work for us to finish before He returns.

As I continue my break from Facebook and focus on the things that I need; more time in the word, more time with my family, more coffee with friends, and time to reflect I might find myself with more puffy eyes, but I won’t apologize for unscheduled times for tears.

Facebook Fast



Facebook is something that I do many times a day. It is part of my job, my social connections, and a total time waster; let’s just be real. I love the ability to connect with old friends from across the world, but I also have begun to resent the fact that the majority of my friends and family feel that utilizing Facebook as the only form of communication is completely acceptable. I am of the group that does not think it is acceptable for a close friend or family member to only send you a Facebook Happy Birthday. Come on…sending them a text to their phone is better than a “wall message.” 

I am currently completing a You Version (iPhone Bible App) bible reading plan titled, #Struggles. As I was scrolling through the many options for a daily devotion I landed on this one and it spoke directly to me. I don’t find myself envious of other’s on Facebook, but I find myself struggling not be to be stressed. Did I remember to pray for the 15th person that has asked me to pray? Was I kind enough to so and so when they told me about their struggles? Did I miss an event that someone really wanted me to go to? Oops, another birthday of an acquaintance realized a day later! Yes, these are just a few of the #Struggles I have been experiencing during my time on social media. It overwhelms me. 

As I have completed some personal reflection recently I realized that I am a person of deep affection and commitment. I long for deep and meaningful relationships. I am not very interested in surface level or the amount of friends that I have in my back pocket. I enjoy spending quality time with people whether it be a monthly phone call, coffee date, or weekend excursion. I don’t like to involve myself in relationships that I don’t have time for. If you are in my circle, I want to be available to help you if you need me. As I focus on the biblical aspect of this feeling I keep coming back to Jesus and His disciples. Jesus of course reached many throughout His three year mission, but he wasn’t close with all. He loved His people deeply, but I feel strongly that there was a reason that he had 12 disciples vs. hundreds. As I focus on His example I realize that my desire to have deep connections with fewer people is my desire to be able to share life, Jesus, and grace with those in my circle. 

This does not give me an excuse to be mean or not engage in activities with others, but it allows me breathing room to not have to be close friends with hundreds. The current bible plan that I am gives some valuable lessons, while sharing scripture that have inspired me to continue on this journey. 

“Social media should be a place to see what’s happening in the lives of those you love-not the place to make you envy. Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice.” I would not call my response envy, but I would often call it judgmental or irritated. If I am constantly having to hide someone’s updates or when I read them I am led to be angry or upset, why am I still reading or Facebook friends with this person?

“We have to make sure technology is enhancing our relationships, not replacing them. We need to ensure our ability communicate doesn’t prevent us from talking more while actually saying less.” –YouVersion Bible Application #Struggle

2 John 1: “I have a lot to write to you. But I don’t want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope I can visit you. Then I can talk with you face to face. That will make our joy complete.”

Overwhelmed



Prior to Ashley passing away this last April we had many discussions about the impact of social media; both negative and positive. I remember one such conversation being late at night after several posts were made on her account by a “hacker” insinuating that Ashley was pro-suicide for those suffering from terminal illnesses. Ashley always told me that at some point I was going to feel strongly that I needed a break from social media and that whether it was immediate or far into the future, I would know without a doubt that God was calling me into a closer relationship with him.

It has been a little over six months since my best friend (little sister) left this world and went into the arms of Jesus. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and long for those late night conversations, but more importantly I love when our conversations come up as reminders of when I face new life decisions. Directly following Ashley’s death social media, texts, emails, and even the frequency of cards arriving in the mail became overwhelming. I struggled with the decision of whether or not to take a break from the social media, but did not feel the huge push as I knew that people needed to see the impact that Ashley’s final words, life, and joy brought into our lives. I knew that our original mission for Ashley’s Facebook Page: Praying for Ashley Sult needed to be finished. She had already asked that her personal Facebook page be deleted as soon as possible after saving pictures for Oaklen. I honored her wishes and did this as quickly as I could with tears in my eyes over the beauty of the life she had captured in such beautiful pictures.

A couple of months after things had settled down I made the decision to keep the Praying for Ashley Sult page open, but to change the name to Family and Friends of Ashley Sult so that we could utilize the platform as a way to communicate prayer requests for other LMS fighters and update those interested in our advocacy for cancer cures.

Recently I hit the point of OVERWHELMED. Perhaps it is because I can no longer pretend that Ashley is on a trip, maybe it is because I am realizing that God desires a stronger relationship with me, or maybe it is because no one can possibly be “close” friends with over 400 people, but I decided that November would be my month of No Facebook. This is an extremely interesting month for me to called to this task as it also International Prematurity Awareness month and I normally use this month to share facts about prematurity and our NICU awareness, but friends and God reminded me that those that actually follow my page know our story at least to some extent and would support me whether I share 30 days of facts with them or not. I also don’t think it is mandatory to share my #thirtydaysofthankfulness either. 

As soon as I made the decision to physically delete the Facebook app from my phone I knew that I needed to make an active plan how to make the next 30 (or more) days count. Here is what I came up with:

  • Create a quiet time with God both morning and night when I would normally be checking my friends’ status updates.
  •  Journal more
  • Blog more
  • Leave electronic devices at home when going out on dates or participating in family activities (use the camera that I want to learn how to better use)
  • Make phone calls to those that I care about or simply send them a card in the mail letting them know how thankful I am for their impact in my life.
  • Create times throughout the month that allow for face to face time with my family and friends
  •   Allow myself to “just be.” This includes having nights when I change into my pajamas directly after work and snuggle on the couch with Bronson while watching entirely too much TV.

In my next post I will share what has been happening to my heart in just the last five days of my Facebook Fast…

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dating Your Husband

Are you feeling disconnected and alone in your marriage? Are you frustrated and wondering why your marriage isn't as great as you imagined it to be? Do you often compare your marriage to your friend's marriages? Let me give you some advice, start dating your husband. I know that there are tons of blogs and threads out there with great advice about "saving your marriage,"  but one more can't help. I am not saying that I have the perfect marriage; no one does. I strongly believe that we will never see the perfect marriage until we meet our creator in heaven. However, I do believe that the foundation of Kyle and my marriage is rooted in truth and is what has provided a marriage that gives me more joy than sorrow.

There have been lots of times in our marriage that things have been rough. We have had the outside stressors of medical issues, family drama, and loss of a baby that have put huge weights on our shoulders, but we have also struggled with the day in/day out normal marriage problems such as feeling alone, frustrated, and upset at each other for petty little things. Whenever there has been an issue that doesn't seem to be easy to resolve we have turned to outside help from our pastor or counseling. The two doses of outside counseling that we have received have been an integral part of our love story. There is no shame in admitting and participating in marriage counseling. I am so very thankful for our previous pastor that helped me to realize that if I continued to be bounded by family history that I would sabotage my own marriage. Prayer, tears, and faith have brought us through a lot of things that may have otherwise caused division in our marriage.

In the past eleven years we have both tried to make each other a priority in our marriage. We are high school sweet hearts and given our history it has allowed for us to literally grow up with each other. I am happy to say that neither of us are the same person that we were nearly 18 years ago, but I would like to cling on to the fact that we both still like each other. I realize when I take the time to date my husband and get to know him better that I find that I love him even more. I like to equate this to the time that we take to get to know our Lord on a daily basis. If you are not taking the time to be in the word and praying to Jesus it is super hard to feel connected to Him. Put that same effort into discovering your husband again.

As I read my Facebook feed yesterday and watched as two opposing groups debated about whether or not Christian women should read or watch the new "50 shades of ...", my heart was hurt. I struggle with why there would even be a thought of this being okay. There is NOTHING shameful about having sex with your husband. The Lord has given us this beautiful gift that should be cherished. If you are struggling with having a healthy and joyful sex life, talk with your husband. Don't seek a book or movie that has nothing to do with a Christian sex life to learn new things. Part of dating your husband might include asking him how he feels about your sex life. It is completely okay to talk to you husband about sex. Some of you may be blushing right now. That is okay! If you have suffered from sexual sin in your past or one of you has committed adultery, please seek outside help so that you can overcome this together or make the right decision for the future of your marriage.

Ladies, make a decision today to date your husband! You don't need a million dollar budget or funds to complete this step, you just need to make time. I am thankful for the fellow friends and family that I have that are willing to provide child-care for us so that we can have date nights at least once per month, but preferably twice. If you don't have the funds to cover child-care, check with a friend about swapping a night. Here are some great suggestions for dates with your husband:
  • movie night after kids are in bed
  • picnic at the park
  • dessert and coffee at your local hotspot (Pressed)
  • drive to the coast
  • walk around the neighborhood pushing your kid in the stroller (Yes, this was our nightly date when Bronson was this age and we had NO money)
  • ice cream dates
  • cook a special dinner and light candles and stay at home while grandparents keep your kids
  • catch a game together
  • try a new place to eat
  • sit on the back porch next to the outdoor fireplace and make S'mores
  • do a bible study together and catch up Saturday morning on your thoughts
  • write love letters to each other and leave them in the car
  • text each other daily with a word of encouragement
  • make sure to daily tell your husband why you love them. I firmly believe that going a step beyond saying, I love you can make a world of difference.
Let's all make it our goal to grow closer to our husbands throughout this year. If you are struggling in your marriage and need a boost go out on a date. If you need some support from the women around you, join a small group or book club. We are currently meeting every other week at a local coffee shop to go over Power of  Praying Wife. We spend the evenings discussing our thoughts about the book and praying for each other's marriages. I am so thankful for all of these local resources to ensure that I continue to have a healthy marriage. Above all, remember to keep Christ at the center of your marriage!

Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Highlights

You might think that my life has too much stress and not enough fun, but one of my favorite things to do is to take pictures and I realize while going through these pictures that I have way more blessings than sorrows. My family is beautiful, loving, and kind. We have made some wonderful memories in 2014.
Fight Night at OSU Boxing Club with the boys January 2014

Ashley cuts her hair to get ready for chemo January 2014

Giant snow storm in Blodgett, Oregon February 2014

Jace turns 2 February 2014

My BBQ lovin' boys get matching shirts February 2014

Ashley and I try on wigs February 2014

I speak at Fashion Show for March of Dimes February 2014

Kandis and I go to coast for Girl's weekend end of February 2014

Fight Night March 2014

Three generations of bike riders March 2014

Henley is born in March 2014

While on a business trip I travel to Disneyland by myself April 2014

Capturing the magic April 2014

Ashley was life-flighted to OHSU while I was gone to LA...stopped close to midnight to see her April 2014

Spent a Girl's Night with some of my lovely small group girl April 2014

Oaklen turns 3

Easter 2014

March for Babies 2014 with my WHOLE family

Kyle spends a week in the hospital May 2014

Bronson graduates kindergarten May 2014

Dad gets his first tattoo June 2014

Jace and Bronson fall in love June 2014

I coordinate Nathan and Whitney's wedding June 7, 2014

I go to Washington with Summer and Kandis to see a concert June 2014

WOU Graduation June 2014

Cousin picture attempt June 2014

Cousin sleepover June 2014

Wedding proposal June 2014

First hike with Bronson doing it all himself, Silver Creek Falls July 2014

Freedom Fest BBQ July 4, 2014: We hosted a big party too!

Daddy and B went to lots of car shows, Corvette placed 1st at Dallas Car Show

Bronson enjoys BBQ at Pacific City, July 2014

Lexi and her family joined us at Pacific City July 2014

Sisters Weekend July 2014

March of Dimes Night at Corvallis Knights Game August 2014

Ann and Bill got a 5th Wheel

Andreas was born in August 2014

I met Jeremy Camp at Fishfest August 2014

Dad got us backstage passes to Fishfest August 2014

Family Roadtrip August 2014

Crater Lake, August 2014

Austin and James got married, August 31, 2014

My handsome boys at Austin's wedding


Small Group Fun Day at Oaks Park, September 2014
Bronson started 1st grade

I turned 33 at the coast, September 2014

Chaperoned Bronson's zoo trip, October 2014

Airlie Farms October 2014

Road the Max, Work Trip October 2014

Women's Retreat October 2014


Bronson and I dressed like Zombies, October 2014

Hosted Thanksgiving for 35 people, November 2014


Participated in CCS Parade December 2014

Christmas 2014

Storybook Land December 2014
All of the girls with their guys, Christmas Eve 2014

Santa came Christmas 2014
Celebrated 11 years at the coast, December 2014

Still in love, 11 years later