Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Favorites: Podcasts and The Roosevelts

Happy Friday Y'all. I swear since I started getting into YouTube I've been out of Blogging. I apologize. I know I need to prioritize and get my life together.

So, I really really wanted to share two things that have become my BIG favorites this week.

1. Podcasts! I have been living under a rock or something because I've totally missed podcasts. Now, Matt has listened to podcasts for a long time and he has told me (yes, I am putting it in writing) that I would love podcasts, but I did not listen. Earlier this week I was watching a YouTube Video (I'll link it below) and they were discussing podcasts. Well, they hooked me with The Gilmore Guys!

Two guys talking about everything Gilmore Girls! I listened to the most recent podcast with Scott Patterson and I was HOOKED!!! I love it! 

They also recommended Totally Married. 

Now, I listened to one episode, but my prude self could not handle to the topic of discussion at all (I'll spare y'all the details). I still have it on my playlist because I am thinking maybe I will give them another shot. They have some great chemistry, but I can't listen if I am covering my ears the entire time scream Lalalalalalala.

So, I did a little searching and happily came upon The Lively Show. I absolutely love this podcast! 

I know that I know Jess Lively from somewhere, but where? Blogging? Real Life? I don't know!  You have to listen to her, it's great! 

And did you know that Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson have a podcast? Where have I been?  The Big Boo Cast. 

 I seriously just found this five minutes before I wrote this and am listening to it as I type. It's is these two amazing women just talking like the amazing friends they are! Love it! It's funny because as I listen they talk about Kelly and Eddie and I am like "I know them!" 

Matt just said, "At some point in our relationship I will say 'you will like this' and you will actually say, 'ok, I will give it a try'". We will see...I will do better - that's all I can say. 

Now, I did listen to him when he said you should really watch this documentary that PBS did. 

2. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.  I am a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt. Is "fan" a correct word? I  love everything that she has written, she was a seriously wise woman. I also love historical documentaries especially about presidents, so I knew that I would probably really enjoy The Roosevelts. Oh man, I am hooked. I watch at least an hour a night. 

There is so much that I did not know especially about Theodore. Again, you should watch this. I've only found it on Amazon Prime, so go get yourself a 30-day free trial.  

Before I forget, here is the video that started all of my podcast madness. I have also fallen in love with Long Short Story with Megan and Wendy - you should subscribe to their channel! 

I am linking up today with Momfessionals for her Friday Favorites

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend Haircuts & YouTube

So we decided this weekend that the little needed a trim and since this was Morgan's first "real" haircut I thought it was blog worthy.

Bekah got a braid after her trim.

Then, it was Morgan's turn. I don't think she was feeling too "Sassy Diva", but she did love watching a movie while she had her haircut. She was very serious through this process.

Her hair is now all even and cute.

Shelby and I have kind of been Youtubing - is that a word?

We captured this on our way back from North Texas on Sunday:

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites: So Proud of My Girl

So my most favorite thing this week was Shelby's award ceremony last night. She originally wanted to blow it off, so I am so glad that she went because it was kind of a big deal.

I was a little taken back when I received the post card from school because it only said that she was being awarded for an accomplishment, but did not give us any indication of what that accomplishment was or how big this event was going to be.

Hey, did that woman photobom my picture?

Matt had to work, so I took the girls alone. When we saw parents with flowers and signs we knew this was a much bigger deal then we had originally thought. I quickly sent JagDad and MommaB a text letting them know this was a big deal and ask if they were available to rush up to the awards locations. They were able to make it long before Shelby walked the stage (she had about 200 kids in front of her.

last row two in black chevron.

Can I just say (without sounding like a bad mother) that this was a beating? 400+ plus children to get through and thank goodness I had some help with the littles because they were done before the ceremony even started. And the place echoed. And Morgan is not into being quiet - neither is Bekah.

getting lined up to walk the stage

I think you can hear it better in JAGdad's taping, but if you listen closely you can hear Bekah ask about Shelby's name. I think she was slightly questioning why Shelby doesn't have the same last name as her. I know the conversations are coming especially since she is starting to question who the man is that I leave Shelby with every few months. 

Anyway, I am so proud of my Shelby-girl! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Post: Zoobilee

A few weeks ago we attended a members only event at the Houston Zoo. Let me take this moment to say that a zoo membership is so worth the money. We got it as a Christmas Present and love it!

So, Zoobilee is a member only event where they close the zoo early to the public. They have face painting, DJS, the carousel is free to everyone and they have a scavenger hunt for the kids.

Since it started at five and Matt was meeting us there from work we decided to save money (even though zoo members get a discount on food) and take sandwiches. I almost always take our food to the zoo because I just can not deal with spending $3.00 for an orange (it's not that bad, but it's pretty close).

The girls love the zoo. We would go every day if it wasn't an hour away!

There are, I think, three baby elephants right now.

 I love how up close and personal you can get with the giraffes.

Bekah's hand just cracks me up in the picture. More than likely she was moving Matt's head to see what she was seeing. 

Before we left we had a free ice cream sundae. 

It was a great evening at the zoo.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Story: Raw Feelings

I planned on writing yesterday. I planned on focusing on how great Mondays can be and how they allow for a fresh start. Mother’s day was good, but left me a bit melancholy as I am still sorting through my feelings about my last post. 

I’ve heard through the grapevine that people are really wanting to read happy posts from me and I do have a few planned, but today I need to get real with you, again. 

I’ve kept an open dialogue with Shelby during this entire process and Saturday she laid a question on the table that I carried in my heart all weekend. 

So in reality you have five children. You will see your babies in heaven, right? 

A question that has haunted me for years. 

This morning I searched the internet (hoping for direction to a verse in the bible) and saw that I am not the only one with this question. I am not the only one living with this pain. There are so many women like me living with the pain and morning children that we chose not to have. It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, it makes we want to curl up in the corner and just cry. 

Yes, I believe I will be reunited with my children in heaven. And to be honest that brings me sadness when it should bring me happiness. Happiness that God’s got them and they are perfect just like all of us will be when we arrive in Heaven. 

My sadness is rooted in fear that is probably unjustified. Will they forgive me? Will they hate me? Will I know who they are? 

I am not sure how the whole Heaven thing will work out. I don’t know why I see in my mind an airport terminal. My loved ones waiting at my gate and as I walk through those doors I see signs that say “Dana’s Family” and I am reunited with my grandparents, my family, dear friends, and my children. I picture tears (which probably is not right - there is not crying in Heaven, right?) and see myself hugging my children. “I am so sorry that I was so self involved, I am sorry I didn’t think about you and God’s plan for your life, I am sorry that I chose to let you go. I am so so sorry.”

These feelings made mother’s day harder for me then years past. I just was not feeling like the mother of the year (do any of us actually feel this?). It’s hard to have Matt tell me that I am a great mom because this year I felt like I’ve really failed two of my five children. I know I can work through this, I know this is part of my healing and I know that God’s grace can heal these wounds. I just really, really thought they’d been healed, but that question it got me. 

I can say in the past week that I’ve held my girls longer, I’ve read even more books than before. I’ve given way more kisses than they want. I’ve spread love to five children through my three girls - not sure if that makes sense at all. I am thankful the God allowed me to have my babies and to get the opportunity to heal. 

Matt shared this post with me last week, it’s a good one, but since this is raw again it’s still hard to wrap my head around. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Story: The Really Hard Parts

I feel like I’ve told my Shelby story over and over again. Even though I’d love to dive into it again and share the differences that I’ve felt having a child alone and having children in a loving marriage. I want to share with you the feelings of being a mom when I thought my entire world was rocked. I want to share with the grace and loving support I received from some amazing people. I want to share with you how my relationship with Jesus grew during my pregnancy with Shelby, but today I feel like I am called to share something different. Something more. 

During one of our nightly walks (I call them therapy walks) Matt and I were talking about where my stories will go next - what I will share with you next. It’s correct that I continue and share with you how I found myself to be a single mother at 23.  But as we walked Matt presented a question to me

Why did you have Shelby? If you were single and this was unplanned why did you follow through? 

This may sound shocking coming from a Pastor’s son, but bear with me for he knows more about the paths my life has led then you do at this moment (I am planning on getting into those areas today). 

I am not sure if he was thinking I would say because of my beliefs I kept Shelby, because I would not even imagine doing anything, but having and keeping Shelby forever. 

That humid night as we rounded the corner to the lake I laid a pretty heavy load on my sweet husband. 

I kept her because I terminated a pregnancy when I was 14. 

I think with that sentence a lot of things became clearer to him. I do plan to write later about how this journey of me sharing my stories has affected my family - just wanted you to know. I do have to give you a spoiler - me sharing my stories has made me see Jesus so much more through my husband. It has reaffirmed over and over again that God planned for me to be right here, to be Matt’s wife. 

Matt doesn’t hesitate to show me love even when I’ve said “that’s my entire story”, but later am able to release more hurt and share. It’s a trust thing and I strongly think that Jesus is telling me that not only can I trust Him to lead me through this journey, but I can trust Matt with my hurts, with the spots that are not completely healed, that still hurt 23 years later. 

You see, I’ve given these hurts to others, but have not received the same response. I’ve been shamed, not forgiven. So, I lived a life where I remember in silence each July that I would be celebrating a birthday - this year my child would have been 18, this year my child would have been 21, this year my child would be 23. It’s not easy and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. 

I was so so young when I became pregnant by my second boyfriend. I kept the secret for a long time before it came out. And a  decision was made and my pregnancy was terminated. 

I beg you to not judge, but listen for understanding - can I ask that of you? 

So, when I became pregnant with Shelby termination was an option, but it was not something I was going to go through again. You see, I am not sure how others’ experiences were, but it was a horrible experience for me that has yet to leave my memory. I had a sonogram technician who strongly tried to sway my decision by showing me my child. This did not help the situation, but is ingrained into my head - not sure if she realized or maybe she did. The extent of my sedation was something similar to laughing gas therefore I felt every scrap and every tug. I screamed in pain during the entire process begging for it to be over. It was horrible and I would not wish it on anyone. Also, looking back I probably needed after care - not for my body, but for my soul. I needed to understand what just happened and how it would affect my life. 

We are told that God knows our beginning and our end, that he knows how our life will play out - does this mean that he knew I would walk this path? I feel that if I got a do-over I’d change many things in my life, but feel (and I may be wrong) that God had a plan for this. Not that He planned it, but He had a plan for me afterwards. Am I making sense? I am not trying to sugar coat this at all. With the way we rate sins in our society, I’ve broken a big one. I am thankful that with Jesus our sins have no rating system and I’ve been redeemed. 

I spent years, I mean years saying I would NEVER terminate another pregnancy. I would always say I was pro-life for myself, but pro-choice for others - I really dislike those terms, there is so much more to this than those two labels. I can say, I strongly suggest avoiding the word, “never” in your life. Because  what I am about to tell you has been stopping me from writing, but is the entire reason why I’ve been on a mission to share my story. And I normally wouldn’t put this much (over a span of so much time) into one post, but I have got to get this out. I’ve got to get this done. 

When I was thirty, I left my marriage of almost four years (I’ll get into more of that later) and started a relationship with a guy I had known from South Texas. He was freshly out of prison  and I fell right back into co-dependancy. I found out I was pregnant and at first it was the greatest thing in the world, because we were in love. Shortly after I became pregnant it became perfectly clear that this guy that I put so much of my life into had developed (or restarted) a strong meth addiction. In a period of a month things got seriously worse, I had things stolen from me, I was put into harmful situations for me and for Shelby. I was trying everything to find a way out then he was arrested. I was pregnant and single again. I didn’t think I could do it - raise another child on my own. I didn’t think I could afford it, I didn’t think I could mentally handle it especially since I was already being treated for suicidal feelings by a doctor due to the situation I was in (more on that later). I did the only thing I thought I could do to get out of this mess I created, I terminated my pregnancy. At thirty, I did what I said I’d never do again. There is no way to sugar coat that, I can’t blame it on being a child or having another person make decisions for me. I can only say that I was painfully far from God and I so did not see clear path back. I acted out of fear - fear of the unknown - of what my life would look like. 

So, that’s my story. I’m broken - broken more than most, but I’ve been redeemed. Redeemed - that’s not a token word that I throw around to make myself feel better. It’s taken me awhile to get here, to understand grace. To know in my heart that I am not the person I once was - that I am not my mistakes. Yes, I said I am still healing mainly because writing brings back all the feelings again. I’ve sat quiet for so long with these stories that I have to scrap off scabs to get them out.

I’ve sat through many, many discussion about abortion or shall I say I’ve sat while others have had discussions. They talked the laws, the prevention, how we can stop this from happening. I know people who march, who stand in front of clinics, who have strong feelings on this subject. All along I’ve sat quiet because I have no words for where my life as led. All I can say is that when you have those discussions today you now know someone who has been through this, who lives with the pain and wishes things were different. 

Confirmation Weekend

It’s like a wedding. No, wait, that may be too dramatic. It’s like a graduation. 

That was the text I sent my sister-in-law as I was trying to explain the feelings and preparation around confirmation. Even though most of my family (Matt’s side) has been confirmed, Shelby is the first grandchild to go through confirmation. 

As someone who was not raised in the Lutheran church let me try to explain my view on what confirmation is. Lutherans believe in infant baptism (though Shelby was not baptized till she was 8) and confirmation is a process that children start going through in the sixth grade. They spend three years studying things likes the Lord’s Prayer and really gaining knowledge of what they say they believe. Confirmation is when they confirm their faith and take their first communion. In Shelby’s case the event of Confirmation took two days (Saturday and Sunday).  (But I just want to say that confirmation is longer than two days and you should always be reconfirming your faith - I hope I said that clearly - her faith journey is not over)

We were at church early Saturday morning for the day’s activities. First, we started with Shelby’s faith statement. If you remember, she had already shared this with her pastor (who is also her grandfather), our Family Life Minister (which is pretty much a member of our family - had to throw that in) and an elder of the church. You can read about it here: 

Since Grandad (JAGdad) had to be with another group of kids also that morning, Shelby had the privilege of being number two in line to give her Faith Statement. She took it like a champ. She told me later that she was shaking, but I could not tell and you won’t be able to either. The only shaking in the this video is me trying to hold a camera while a certain three year old keep pushing my arm down. And I know it was a little out of focus in the beginning - seriously it was a new experience trying to keep two little girls quiet and take video - I am so glad Matt’s mom was there to help! 

After her Faith Statement we went over to the sanctuary for group pictures and information on how Sunday would work. 

Selfie with Pastor DeMik (snagged from his facebook)
Then we had brunch and individual pictures. 

Shelby's Confirmation Banner. I was able to sew half of these and I actually made Shelby's. 

I kept waiting to get emotional on Saturday, but it wasn’t really there. I thought I’d be able to just breeze through this with out shedding tears. 

Saturday night, we had her confirmation party. She invited a bunch of her girl friends. Many of them were from church, so they knew what confirmation was. I have to giggle, though, we did received one note that said, “Happy Birthday Shelby.” I am sure she probably wondered where the birthday cake was.

The women of our church gave each of the confirmands these amazing plaques with their bible verse. 

Shelby wanted the colors of peach and teal with mason jars. This party was so much fun to decorate for!

Shelby had an idea early on to have a photo both. I had no clue how much fun a camera on a tripod and some streamers would be!  

Then, before I knew it the day was here - it was Confirmation Sunday. I swung Shelby’s bedroom door open and said “It’s coronation day!” and proceeded to sing “Tell the guards to open up the gate!”  (if you haven’t had to watch Frozen twenty bazillion times you may not get this). 

 I held it together getting her ready and making sure her red roses were pinned perfectly to he white gown. We found a good seat right behind her in the sanctuary and when the time came for us to meet her at the rail (communion rail? kneeling rail? - not sure what I should call it - I think communion rail) the emotions started to hit. 

I think I was crying before her picture appeared on the big screen above us. I am still not sure I can put into words the feelings of having your daughter be old (and mature) enough to proclaim her faith publicly. I am not sure if it’s because I am preparing myself to write about her birth and of the hard times (the times that Shelby mentioned in her faith statement where we “were not on the same path as God”), but man I lost it. Just an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I was given this girl and a moment of accomplishment that I’ve successfully (even though I thought I had fully ruined her) gotten her to this point. And love - just complete overwhelming love that I have for this girl. 

I had an opportunity to pull myself back together, though it was hard watching my friends go through the same feelings as their daughters and sons were also confirmed just a few feet to my right. All of us mothers were just sobbing and our husbands just patted us through all of it. The entire time I was thinking “did none of us bring Kleenexes up?”, I guess we all didn’t realized how bad the water works would get. 

We returned to our seats and watched as Shelby took her first communion. I don’t remember taking communion for the first time - I believe I may have done it really really early in my life before baptism (and I am not sure how I feel about that now). Watching Shelby do it was amazing - just amazing - that’s all I can say right now.  And can I say what I great feeling it is to have her grandfather give her her first communion. I hope she realizes how special that is - it's the same feeling I've had when he's baptized his granddaughters - I just love it! 

Shelby and our Family Life Minster, Rhonda!

My girls!

Oh my goodness,  I love this girl! I admit teenage-hood is a not easy. I've said over and over that I "dislike thirteen",  but then these days come around and it makes me remember why I try so hard to teach her things. I've been given this life to mold and to help teach the love and grace we receive from Jesus. He has big plans for her!

Now, ten more years and this girl will be confirmed - cry!