Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Letter

I got a letter in the mail yesterday.
It was a Thank You note for what I assumed was a birthday gift I had sent.
But I was wrong.  It was a thank you for who I am.  I felt incredibly blessed.

And know what was even better? 
It held 3 pages of written words of why my sweet friend is so thankful for me. 

Tears welled up as I read through her words.
She started like this, "I've decided letter writing is a lost art and I'm bringing it back!  I've been inspired of recently to make expressing my gratitude to people in my life part of my lenten practice."  And she continued on to bless me with her words, to build me up and strengthen me.
Words are powerful.  They have the power to destroy and the power to heal. 
Words can be life giving and death.
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen."  Ephesians 4:29

Monday, February 27, 2012

A New Life - It's No Longer Working For You

I want to share this journey with you and all that God is teaching me as I learn to live life in a new way after falling victim to the pressures of our society and myself.
Every Monday I will share a new part of this journey.
I pray that you will be challenged and encouraged through it.

As I sat in that cold, sterile room at the doctor’s office waiting for my test results I was nervous and scared. I hadn’t felt well for quite some time and just had no idea what my blood results would reveal. As the physician came in, my heart started pounding.
“Everything looks fine.”
How can this be?
How can I feel so horrible and have nothing wrong with me?
I was slightly relieved, but more confused and frustrated. “Raeanne, you’re someone who has always done everything and you’ve done it very well. Am I right?” She looked to my husband who nodded.
They way you’ve been living your life is no longer working for you.”
I like my life and I think I live it rather well!
What does this mean?

She went on to explain that stress and anxiety were plaguing my body and whereas I’ve probably been battling this for many years, my physical body is finally giving out and can no longer hold up under the pressures of life. She said that I would need to learn to live life in a whole new way. With a smile on her face, she encouraged me by saying this was a positive thing and once I’ve been reprogrammed, I would have a rich life – better than it has ever been. Sounds like a great prognosis, but I sat in tears, trembling, scared and completely lost in her vague words.
Learn to live life in a whole new way
– what in the universe does that mean?
She said we would need to sit down and come up with a plan for my new life that should include a good therapist, yoga, some good vitamins and perhaps some neurofeedback therapy. Again, this all sounded so lofty and vague and seemed to have nothing to do with the constant discomfort I’d had for months, daily digestive problems, head aches, lack of energy, a physical hollowness and other things I never found the words to explain.

About 4 months earlier we were in Yosemite as a family for a little vacation. Our first night I was woken up by my 2 year old son who was crying and for some reason my heart started pounding, I immediately felt sick to my stomach and I never recovered all night. He finally calmed down and went back to sleep, but I laid on the floor, shaking, sweating and feeling sick all night. I kept telling myself, “You’re alright.” I had absolutely nothing to fear or worry about, so why was I having a major panic attack? This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. It would happen again on a smaller scale 2 months later and after feeling sick everyday for a month in inexplicable ways, I finally decided to call a doctor. I was convinced that the sickness and discomfort I was feeling daily was something serious because I had never felt that way before.

God blessed me with an amazing physician who is gentle and kind and very knowledgeable about women’s health. God also blessed me with an amazing mother who had the wisdom and insight to e-mail me a list of things to share with my doctor before I met with her for the first time. My mom re-capped my year in bullet points and thought it important to share with my doctor that I had lost a baby through a miscarriage, my 2 daughters started kindergarten, my husband received a promotion that meant I am a single mother 3-4 days a week, and one of my dearest friends, my closest sister in Christ, was moving a few thousand miles away. As I shared this list with my doctor, bawling like I never have before, she interrupted me and quietly said,
“oh Raeanne, you’re going to be fine.”
Something that my doctor had said to me was that unfortunately she sees this all the time, especially in moms. That really struck me. That is one of the reasons why I decided to share my journey on my blog. She promised that she was going to run every test possible to rule out anything organic, but she thought that stress was playing a huge role in my constant sickness.
“I want you to learn a new habit.
Try saying, ‘I trust you, Jesus’ in response to whatever happens to you.
If there is time, think about who I am in all My power and glory; ponder also the depth and breadth of My love for you.”
Jesus Calling – January 4th
This little devotional is amazing and powerful.
It has spoken to me so much during this season of learning to live in a new way.

My blood work was done a week before Christmas and I would receive the results after the holidays. I had no idea that the worst was yet to come.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mack's 3rd Birthday

 My little handsome turned 3 last week.  I can't believe my baby is 3!!  He was all fired up for his John Deere Tractor party (although the day before he told me he wanted Bob the Builder!).  We had a blast celebrating with all things yellow and green!

The plan was to go to our local farm in the morning and see some animals and ride on the mini tractors.  The birthday party would be later that evening.  All the grandparents met at our house at 9am to head to the farm and everyone was so excited!  Last minute we checked online to make sure the farm opened at 10am and found that the farm is closed for the month of February!  Um... I never even thought that the farm closed, so I didn't check!  Now what?  I had a last minute idea to type in "Southern California John Deere Dealers" into a search and guess what?  We have a huge John Deere dealership only 20 minutes from our house!  Who knew!  (Yes folks, we have lots of farms in Southern California and lots of tractors too - not just movie stars!)  So we switched gears and headed out to the dealer and had the time of our life!

We could sit on any tractor, climb around, pretend to plow the fields... is was incredible.
Best of all, the salesman came out and offered a test drive!  He pulled out this quarter of a million dollar monster and fired her up!  Sadly the little birthday boy was terrified, so his sisters took his turn!
He said, "When I'm bigger, I'll ride it myself." 
For now, he was happy to sit on the small tractors in the showroom!
After the tractor fun, we headed to Sky High (a warehouse of trampolenes) and jumped until we could jump no more.  Back home, after naps, the party was waiting for us.
Our wall of photos was switched out to celebrate the birthday boy and his love of tractors!

The favors were little tractors, trailers and hay bales.
Party Food
The food was fun and some of Mack's favorites!

 I placed the veggies in old strawberry baskets to look like a little farmers' market

 The strawberries (that were picked at our local farm that morning)

were washed and placed back in their crate

BBQ Pork Sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with coleslaw
I placed the rolls in a wooden crate that was from my children's play kitchen
 Tractor Wheels 'N Cheese
Lemonade in John Deere cups for the kiddos
The cupcakes were placed in Mack's John Deere tractor trailer
Party Games
First up was Pin The Wheel On The Tractor
 The kids wore an oversized John Deere hat to cover their eyes

 And then came the Hay Bale Launch
The kids had one minute to launch as many hay bales as they could from the baler into the wagon -
this was a riot!
 And of course they loved just playing with the tractors!
The birthday boy had a blast
And so did we!
Happy Birthday Macky!
*I hope you'll join me Monday for a new series - A New Life

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Embrace Sky High

Someone turned 3 last week!
Before the John Deere party got kicked into full gear, we made a little stop at Sky High to jump for joy!

 Even the Grandmas got in on the fun!
 Sorry mom, this picture is too priceless!

 How cool are these Grandmas?  Pretty cool!
Get ready for a ton of John Deere birthday pics in tomorrow's post!
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Father Daughter

I remember as a little girl how special it was to get to do things with just my Daddy. There was something so magical about it because in my little world Daddy did boy things and that meant doing things with my brother. But on those special times that it was just him and me, I felt like he completely came into my world, did what I loved, and sacrificed his own desires.

Last week my girls got to go on a date with just their Daddy to the Father Daughter Ball. He took them out to buy them dresses and told them they would be his princesses and he would be their prince at the ball. They couldn’t have been more excited!

They looked beautiful.

After they got home that night and the girls were asleep, I couldn’t wait to get all the details! My husband said it was a great night, but he wasn’t quite sure if the girls had a wonderful time. They were coming off colds and not feeling 100%, they waited in line for a very long time for an activity that they didn’t get to do, and they only danced a little before they were too tired to carry on. My heart sunk a little. In the morning I asked the girls if they had a good time at the ball and they were all aglow. They couldn’t stop talking about it!

I remembered back to the Father Daughter dance I had gone to with my dad as a little girl. I remembered some of the special father daughter events we went to and I can’t tell you any details of what we did on those dates, but I can tell you that they were amazing and I never felt so special. Just being alone with my Daddy on a date was more impacting than any activity, party favor or game.

Sometimes I get caught up in the details of things – I want everything to go smoothly and dare I say it, perfectly. I get so distracted by creating special moments that I don’t just live in the special moment I’m in. Children remind me that more than anything, they just want to be with us, have our undivided attention, and have us let go of our ideas and just live in theirs.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Intentional Marriage - You Reap What You Sow

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Galatians 6:7

We reap what we sow. It’s purely common sense. This principle relates to every area of our lives – if we eat tons of unhealthy food (sow junk food) we will be overweight and miserable (the harvest of junk food). If we are sarcastic with our children and easily exasperated with them (sowing seeds of bad attitudes) we will have disrespectful, sassy children (the harvest of a bad example).

I am so grateful for the teachers and mentors in my life. Recently, one of my teachers talked about how we can misname harvest in our lives for circumstances. In marriage we can say, “we’ve grown apart.” But that is not a circumstance of our marriage, it is a harvest of sowing very little seeds of quality time together. “We’re so busy with the children right now, we almost live like roommates!” That is not a circumstance of having children, it is the harvest of not making your spouse your priority above the children.

We are constantly sowing seeds into our marriage, whether we intend to or not. Each choice we make is a seed we’re planting. How we greet our spouse in the morning, how we respond to an unkind word, the expression on our face, how we speak of our spouse in public, surprising our spouse with a special date night, leaving our spouse their favorite snack on the seat of their car… all of these things are seeds that we sow into our marriage and in due time, they will yield a harvest – some good, some not so good.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6

This verse is very convicting to me. Sow generously! I know that I want to reap a bountiful harvest in my marriage, but a bountiful harvest requires a lot of work – and not just one day of work, but a lifetime of it! The process of farming is simple, yet very involved and a lot of consistent work. The soil must be properly prepared, the seeds planted at a specific time, the ground nurtured and cared for so that the seeds have a healthy environment to grow in. Rocks, weeds, animals and pests must be removed daily so that they don’t kill the seeds that have been planted. Once the seeds start to grow, some need to be pruned to stay healthy. There is a lot involved in the process of growing things, but if we stay committed, we will reap a wonderful, healthy harvest in time.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

God will not be mocked! We will not sow selfishness and discontentment and reap a joyful, healthy marriage. God will not be mocked.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:8

As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.
Job 4:8

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:18

Last week my husband and I went away for 3 days together to the central coast of California. We stayed at a precious little Inn on the ocean with a wonderful patio where we sat for hours, cuddled on a love seat, watching the waves and seagulls.

Our Inn packed us a picnic breakfast each morning that we took on a walk
and stopped to enjoy along the sea.

During our days we went antiquing (my favorite), wine tasting (his favorite), olive oil tasting, and finished with some amazing meals. It was a wonderful time of sowing good seeds into our souls and our marriage. On our last day, I sat in the love seat and looked through the guest book journal that was in our room. I started to cry as I skimmed through entry after entry of couples who shared how rejuvenating their time was there. They laughed, had great conversations, cuddled, sat quietly… I could sense the rest in their words and I could feel the life giving memories they made. Seeds were sown. As I wrote my own entry, I included the passage that we all reap what we sow and I knew we would reap an abundant harvest from the seeds we sowed at that little Inn.

What do you want to get out of your marriage? What do you want to harvest down the road? What can you be planting now that will yield that crop? Remember, every choice you make with your words and your time are seeds you are sowing. Every dollar you spend, every place you go, every conversation you have are seeds you are sowing. Make a choice today to sow seeds into your marriage to please God and watch the fruit grow!

CHALLENGE: What are you currently harvesting in your marriage? Take some time to think about what you want to harvest out of your marriage and make a decision to plant seeds that will yield that harvest. Remember that hard work lies ahead and you won’t see the fruit of those seeds for some time, but don’t give up! God promises that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up!

This will be my last Intentional Marriage post for awhile. I pray that God richly blesses your marraige and protects it from the enemy. 
Next week I’m going to start a series on Monday where I’ll be sharing
a personal journey I’m currently on.
I hope you’ll join me!
Happy Monday!


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