Sometimes the World Spins

Remember all of that positivity I’d stored up and shared, about how it was so exciting to be a part of something new, something bigger…to start over? Before I address it, I want to start by saying that all of that still holds true. I’m thankful for the opportunities our family has been given. I’m excited for what we’ve accomplished here so far, I can’t wait to see what’s still in store. But boy oh boy, lately there have been challenges!

We thought we could work on those challenges by spending some much needed time back home and on vacation – this was great, a time to reconnect with those we’ve known our whole lives and some of our most cherished friends! But it was also hard, a look at what we sometimes feel that we’re missing out on and, a whole new level of homesickness when we left.

During our time home…and on our first night back, we made two trips that we didn’t expect…one to urgent care for Colin, then a second to the emergency room for a second, completely unrelated incident. He’s fine, but, there’s nothing that makes you feel like you have less control over a situation than feeling completely helpless to help your child when they need help. Again, I’ll reiterate, he is fine and by the time we left the ER last night he was running around, complaining about being hungry, making jokes with doctors and blowing bubbles all over the unit.

This pregnancy has been different than my others – thank goodness! I can eat! But, it’s also been plagued with uncertainty, pain and straight-up fear over what’s to come. Being a planner who feels most secure when life is going according to that plan, this has been a hard thought to swallow. When you go into your third pregnancy, whether you’re high risk or not, you are pretty sure you have it together. You’ve been through the ringer, you know your body and you feel competent to face the 9 months (and lifetime!) that lie ahead…it’s exciting! However…it just took one ultrasound and one tiny (beautiful!) little extra heartbeat to send things spiraling in an unexpected direction. This was compounded by the fact that we’re so far from so many loved ones!

This probably sounds like life to most people! And, I’m the first to admit that it really is. Life is full of uncertainties, of adventures and of unexpected events…that’s what makes it exciting and thrilling. But it’s also what gives that feeling of spinning, which I know is not unique to me or to my family. Sometimes, the world just spins a little faster than normal, or than what we anticipated!

I guess I’m just throwing this out there to be honest. I blog to share what’s happening, to give others something to relate to and to be honest. And honestly, that’s where we are right now.

When life gets here, I try – and am trying still! – to focus forward. To think about all the amazing blessings that have been literally poured into our lives. To look past the chaos to what’s ahead and to trust in the fact that this is all going somewhere amazing, somewhere I cannot fathom or imagine on my own. I remind myself that having control over everything is no way to live, you’ve got to leave room for some spinning, for some surprises! If it weren’t for that, how boring would this journey be?

Where are you at today? What’s spinning in your world? What can you grab onto to remind yourself that something beautiful is in the works?

Beach Family Photo

This is something I hold onto…the amazing family I’ve been blessed with and the adventures we get to share!

 

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Way Beyond Me

I’m back!! As many of you have taken notice to (thank you for the messages!), I’ve been a bit…absent…for the past month. That’s because – for those who follow me on Facebook – I had some news that was taking up a whole lot of my thoughts and time that would otherwise be devoted to trying to find new ways to be fit and that was hard to keep under wraps. But, now that it’s gone public, I can get back to doing what I love and sharing some of that with you!

For those that missed it, John and I shared some exciting news yesterday:

announcement

To make it just a little bit clearer:

twin_ultrasound

We are doubling our family by adding a set of twins to the mix! This is exciting and we feel beyond blessed by all of the support we have received from those close to us and those who we haven’t had a chance to be with for a long time.

But, before the excitement, and under a lot of it, we’ve had our own process that has had ups, downs, moments of shock, fear and excitement all thrown in together. I want to share with you how we got to yesterday’s big announcement, and what’s helped us focus on the (very exciting!) big picture.

Rewind a bit. Many of you know that in general, I’m not great at being pregnant. My first two pregnancies were challenges that never went quite according to plan until the moments that our two little guys made their perfect appearances. For awhile, we decided we were happy with our two, blessed that everything turned out and ready to move on.

But, the desire to have more never quite went away. I truly believe that God puts specific desires on our hearts for a reason; mine has always been to have a family full of children. After my second pregnancy, I focused on myself for awhile, put effort into fitness and getting into shape and leaving our plans in the hands of the one that knows and guides our steps before we take them.

A whole lot of life changes happened all at once: health struggles that resulted in surgery last October, a move across country to North Carolina, away from everyone that we know and love, a new job for John, a new life as a stay at home Mom for me and a lot of other things that we never could have dreamed up on our own. It was a crazy year!

In the end of March and beginning of February, I started feeling off. Eventually, I broke down and took a pregnancy test. To our surprise, it was positive. We were apprehensive because of the journey of the past year, but excited! I had an early ultrasound around 5 weeks to date the pregnancy and we saw a single microscopic little one in there.

The strangest part about all of this, is that during this time, I started having dreams about twins. This is something I only shared with John. We thought it was strange because we’d clearly seen one baby, but in my heart it just felt like something else was going on. We had the ultrasound…there was one! I felt silly that I couldn’t shake the feeling. Certain blood levels were a little high, but we saw one. I let it go.

A few weeks later I went back in for another appointment. As the doctor did the ultrasound, the words “yep, there’s two,” came out of his mouth…”two…babies?” I asked? “Yep, look…one…two,” he said matter-of-factly (he’s a play it straight sort of guy hah). Even with the dreams I had, I was completely shocked.

Stepping back from that moment, I wonder if I should have been less shocked. How many times has something been made clear to us, something that we chalk up to impossible? During these times, at least for me, I tend to cling to the rational knowledge that “I” have on my own, ignoring something that maybe I’m supposed to listen to and trust. This has happened many times in my life: the day I felt led to search for my own name online, leading to finding my birth family, the day it was clear that moving to Asheville, something I saw as completely beyond me, was the right thing for our family and so on.

After that big “surprise” we started to tell those closest to us, with apprehension. Twin pregnancies are inherently high risk…from vanishing twin syndrome (yea, I never should have looked this up) in the early weeks to complications later on like pre-term delivery, growth restriction and risks to the mom, we were filled with excitement, but also with the feeling that this is something much bigger than us. We are here on our own. We are still figuring out how to live as a family of four on our own. We have the gear and energy for one baby…but two?

Doubts have run rampant. But, through it all, there’s been this still, calm voice saying “trust me.” We don’t know what the future has in store…we don’t know how we’re going to do this on our own, but those fears and doubts are being answered with truth and realistic applications. We’ve grown closer to new friends in our new home. We’ve found a medical practice that understands my situation and is ready to meet each surprise with experience. The trials of my last pregnancy have not been as severe this time around. Each need has been met and we are going to trust that it will continue.

This past weekend, we were given the opportunity to travel to Nashville for the Country Music and St. Jude Half Marathon and Full Marathon as part of Team Toby Mac and Run for Hope, thanks to SO many of you for your amazing generosity. While I was unable to complete the half marathon, I jogged and walked the 5k. I did it for the kids at New Hope Academy and for those supported by the efforts of St. Jude.

But, I also was able to take something away for myself. You see, two Toby Mac songs have really spoken to us over the past few months. The first is “Beyond Me.”

“It’s way beyond
Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin’ on You
I’m leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin’ it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
Yeah, you keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me

You take me to the place where I know I need You
Straight to the depths that I can’t handle on my own
And Lord I know, I know I need You
So take me to Your great
Take me to Your great unknown.”

Right now, we are in our own great unknown. We are optimistic and excited for what’s ahead, but once again we’ve found ourselves in that place that what we thought, dreamed and planned has become something much bigger than we could have come up with or devised on our own…something beyond us. But, as we found with our move…it’s a pretty amazing place to be.

The second is “Steal My Show.”

“If You wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch You go
If You got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away
Need You to steal my show, can’t wait to watch You go
So take it away”

Sometimes we have great plans. We know what we want for tomorrow, the next day, next year and beyond. But, sometimes, we’ve gotta sit back, let go and watch what happens.

We got to see Toby perform both of these songs and I was filled with this amazing calm…”see, I’ve got you covered. You may not have this on your own, but you’re not on your own,” is what I felt. How amazing is it when we think we’re doing something for others, that it turns out to be just as big for us?

Thank you all for following along during all this, I’m sure I will have excitement to share as this journey progresses! Thank you for your kind thoughts, prayers and just for surrounding us with love during everything. We’ve never really felt so blessed and are excited about what’s to come!

10 weeks

Kids Can be a Part of Fitness Fun Too!

FighterMoms are busy people. From making sure their jobs are done if they work outside of the home to ensuring the house is running smoothly, the family is happy, healthy and fed and spending time with everyone, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or to feel like you’re just not sure of how to fit anything else in. Usually fitness comes in somewhere at the bottom of this list.

I get it. Prior to our move, my kids were in daycare part time and near family the rest of the time. When I needed a workout, I scheduled it around the times that someone else could watch them. The thought of integrating it all together? Nope, I didn’t think it was possible.

Then we moved. We decided to keep the kids at home for a little while with no family nearby. We had no idea what would happen. This is when I started to look for other options. We invested in gym equipment for the home – which was a great start and can be done on a relatively low budget with monthly payment plans, providing your commitment to using that equipment is strong.

I also discovered the world of at-home workouts on networks like Amazon Prime and Netflix and even better, on Pinterest. There are so many ways to stay fit without the equipment, fitness instructors and memberships. I also met women who are trying to figure it all out too. Something we’ve learned? The kids don’t have to be an obstacle to fitness. With the tools that are available, working out doesn’t even have to be a “naptime” activity. It can all be integrated…here’s how.

1. Let your excitement show.

If your kids see that you’re excited to workout, they’ll pick up on it and likely want to know more, watch or even participate! Talk about what you’re going to be doing and tell them why – as much as you can for their age level. The important thing is that they’ll learn that fitness is part of what should happen on a regular basis, that it’s fun and that you do it to stay healthy. Simple and fun.

2. Get them in on the Process.

Your toddlers may not have burpee potential or the ability to crank out pushups, but they can still play a role! Let them count what you’re doing, watch the clock for you and shout encouragement. Chances are you’ll be distracted enough to enjoy your workout a little more and the kids will feel like they’re helping you.

3. Give them a Distraction.

If you have a 30 or 60 minute workout plan, you can’t expect the counting and encouraging to last throughout the entire process. Give them a distraction. Set up a healthy snack station, bring in a few toys that they haven’t seen in awhile or allow them to work on a craft within eyesight.

4. Take it Outside.

We all need a little Vitamin D. If you’ve got a yard that’s suitable or a nearby playground, bring the kids with you. Do your workout while they play. They’ll love to have some fun and will expend some energy while you do your thing.

5. Find a Group.

You’re not the only mom looking for a way to stay fit. Find a group of women or a friend or two. Make a commitment to workout at a certain time on set days and stick to it. Having a work out buddy keeps you accountable, gives your kids some extra playmates and provides an extra incentive to get out there!

Working out can be fun and encouraging for the whole family. Follow the tips above to get started!

 

Settling In and Counting Blessings

mountainsIt’s been awhile friends! Most of you know the reasoning…that we’ve moved out of Pennsylvania and into a new home and life in North Carolina. Many of you also know that this move was full of questions for me. I had no idea what the future would look like and what we’d find here. Let me be clear up front in saying that while those fears were not unfounded…they may have been unnecessary.

We have been blessed with much as we settle in. Many of you have asked for updates…let me share a few of the highlights:

  • The weather has been fantastically mild. In fact, the past two days we reached the 60’s. We couldn’t ask for anything more.
  • We were welcomed into our new church home Sunday and it felt like coming home. It’s a great feeling and we look forward to growing with Summit Church and doing life with some great people.
  • Our home has come together well. We are mostly unpacked. While we are still waiting on a few pieces of furniture, things are shaping up well.
  • We will be starting our Friday Night dinners this week, inviting whoever wants to come! So far it’s mostly established friends, but we are anxious to see what these grow into, and to get to know those we’ve already met better!
  • The boys have found a few friends. Let’s rephrase that – many potential friends. Our neighborhood is FILLED with children their ages and we’ve spent the past 2 days outside playing with those children. I’ve also started to get to know their parents. Coming from a place where few of our friends had kids and a neighborhood without children, this is an amazing blessing. We’ve been told that in the summer, everyone spends pretty much all day outside!
  • We’re starting to adjust to a more laid back lifestyle. Things really do move at a slower pace here and we absolutely love it. The rush and stress that we didn’t even realize we were living in has been reduced.
  • John’s work is going well. He is getting to know his team and is working hard to keep things moving forward smoothly.
  • We’ve started to identify local stores, have started local accounts and have found great medical teams…this is big.

Asheville – so far – seems like an amazing place with so much potential. We love the outdoor lifestyle and are excited to jump in. It’s only been a week, but it’s been a great one. We appreciate all the positive thoughts and prayers that were coming our way during this transition. I’m sure it won’t always seem so smooth, but for right now, we are simply overwhelmed with thankfulness!

 

Just a reminder to all of my readers! I’m currently in the process of trying to raise money for New Hope Academy for Team Toby Mac and the Nashville Half Marathon…if you feel compelled to contribute, please visit my fundraising page!

 

What Does the New Year Mean to You?

New YearIt’s here! The old has ended and the new has begun.

In past years, for me, that meant setting a list of crazy expectations, coined “resolutions,” and obsessing over how to make them a reality. Blame it on a competitive nature or a need for perfection, I’m not sure – maybe they’re the same thing. Regardless, New Year’s was another excuse to put some extra pressure on myself and those around me.

I’m not sure what it stemmed from, but, honestly, I think it has a lot to do with what our culture has become. Sure, everyone wants to lose a few holiday pounds and to make a list of fun things to do in the New Year…there’s nothing wrong with this. However, with social media blasting images of perfection: perfect Pinterest pictures posted by professionals that are unobtainable to the average person, selfies filled with laughter, new records being broken and opinions from all angles, it can be a little overwhelming.

This year, I’ve decided to take a step back and evaluate. I started realizing that what we see all around us – and at all times thanks to mobile technology bombarding every aspect of our daily lives – is manufactured happiness. How hard is it to get a family laughing in a photo – or a hundred photos – and to make everyone think that’s an all the time thing? How hard is it to post photos of workout sessions 10x a day to make people think you’re living at the gym?

Let me step back for a second to be clear: I post just as many of these photos as anyone else. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; I think they’re a great way to share some amazing memories and to connect with friends and family members that we might not see so often. However, there’s also a drawback…when we focus so much on this social reality that we’ve become a part of, we start to see it as the only reality. It can make us feel inadequate…”why is everyone else succeeding?” “why is everyone else so happy?” “why are all my friends doing amazing things without me?”

What I’ve noticed is that when we only focus on what we see – what’s on the surface – we miss what’s underneath…we miss reality. We don’t see the struggles every single person has. We don’t see the hard times; which makes sense…who wants to share them on social media for the world to see?

I’m not saying we need to stop posting. I’m not saying we need to stop sharing joy and happiness – there are a lot of people who need those very things. What I am saying is that the way we perceive these images shared by others needs to change. We need to stop setting ourselves up with unmatchable goals and comparing our lives to the “perfection” that we are served on a constant basis.

Because of this, I’m not making any huge New Year’s resolutions, nothing that requires a check mark for completion. This year, I’m focusing inward, on my family and self. I’m hoping that by injecting a little more love and a little more focus into everyday events, that the result will trickle outward to those around me. I’m planning on facing 2015 and whatever it brings without my own agenda or “plan.” I’m opening my arms and embracing whatever comes my way with a positive outlook and thankfulness. Forget the checklist, this year is just about living right and loving both the good and the bad.

Happy New Year; thanks for being a part of my journey! Let’s do life together and do it well.

What’s your game plan for 2015? What does the New Year mean to you?

Just a reminder to all of my readers! I’m currently in the process of trying to raise money for New Hope Academy for Team Toby Mac and the Nashville Half Marathon…if you feel compelled to contribute, please visit my fundraising page!

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to send a quick Happy Holidays message to my readers across the world! May you spend time reflecting and enjoying life with family, and may the New Year bring you blessings and joy!

holidays

I like to use the Christmas season as a time to reflect and to look into what’s coming.

For our family, the past year has been something completely unexpected…sometimes, I think that’s one of life’s greatest gifts! I’ve learned to slow down, to appreciate every single moment and to find joy in every situation. In the past year, we’ve:

  • Decided to move our family across the country to somewhere new, complete with three trips to Asheville, NC, selling our first home, purchasing a new home and everything that comes with a move.
  • Seen John enjoy some great success at work, which he truly enjoys.
  • Watched our boys grow every day. Our oldest has become quite the thinker, who loves to build things and to analyze everything that goes on around him. Our youngest has found an appreciate for music and loves to figure out how the world around him works…with lots of laughs thrown in.
  • Taken numerous trips: Atlantic City, DC, AVL, Disney World and a few places in between.
  • Spent time building relationships with new and old friends.
  • Welcomed a new niece…and looked forward to the addition of a few new family members to spoil and love on!
  • Found our own rhythm and set some big goals for the New Year!

It’s been an adventure…and I hope it has been one for you as well. Think back over your year…what are your highlights? How would you sum up 2014? Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year!

 

Just a reminder to all of my readers! I’m currently in the process of trying to raise money for New Hope Academy for Team Toby Mac and the Nashville Half Marathon…if you feel compelled to contribute, please visit my fundraising page!

4 Nights

It’s a little crazy to me that we’ll be moving out of our first family home in just 5 days…that’s 4 nights folks. At that point, we’ll move into temporary housing until the big move itself.

But…

4 nights in the house that was our first ever major purchase, that taught us that working hard does pay off and that gave us something to strive for together.

4 nights in the house that became a source of protection, regardless of what was happening outside of its walls.

4 nights in the place where we learned to pray together and to count our blessings.

4 nights in the house that we brought our children home to, that they took their first steps in and that has been filled with a whole lot of laughter and fun ever since.

4 nights in the house where we spent nights awake wondering what our kids would be like, feeling them kick and staying up with them while they learned to sleep.

4 nights in the house where we spent evenings outside, enjoying the peace and quiet and forgetting about the craziness that surrounded us.

4 nights in the place where we learned to be a family and about what love really means.

Sometimes these thoughts are hard to handle! At the same, I am grateful for these memories and looking forward to what’s to come. Just something that’s part of the moving process!

4 nights. The countdown is on!

front of house

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