What Are You Waiting For?

I struggle with impatience; always have.

When I was five, I wished I were 25. As a teenager, my mom gave me this little Willow Tree figurine of a girl with her arms folded across her knees, waiting. I set it on my nightstand, asking God for patience until we had Paisley and now it sits on hers.

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Thankful for cozy winter nights with Joey

I’m a doer. I like action, movement, change. Procrastination is silliness to me. In my arrogance, I think my timing is best, and God is usually a little late. He is never in a hurry like I am.

I hate waiting because it feels like time is wasted, and time is something I value highly. But if I believe each breath is a gift, each day an expression of God’s mercy, then it holds true that with God, time spent waiting is never wasted.

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College Roomie Christmas brunch…our 8 little loves, minus one!

In fact, I believe the waiting period is perhaps what it’s all about. I teach my clients to focus on the process, not the end (“I will exercise 5x this week.” Not, “I will lose 5 pounds.”). The interim is where we find out what we’re made of, and our attitude matters. When we are waiting–on a person, a prayer, our big break, the light in the darkness, forgiveness, love, healing, a job, whatever–our character is being forged and time is not wasted.

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Christmas Train at Dry Gulch!

When I was pregnant with Finn, we knew he would be born different, but we didn’t know exactly how or to what extent. Some days I was terrified of what could be. Some days I was hopeful. There were months that Joey and I both cried ourselves to sleep. There were moments of clarity and intimacy with God like I’d never experienced before. Although those several months were some of the darkest of my life, I know without a doubt, that time was not wasted.

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Finn and Pais helped me decorate the bottom 1/3 of the tree

I like to imagine Mary, Mother of Jesus, felt something similar as she waited for her son to arrive. She was told He would be no ordinary boy. He was the long-awaited Messiah. How overwhelming for a young mother!

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage.” Ps. 27:14

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“It is good to wait quietly on the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

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Nana and Papa Rosell visited!

If you’re waiting, settle down. Take a deep breath. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments. In this season of Advent, I await the arrival of Jesus, the Savior of my soul, and I don’t want to waste it.

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Cray Cray Pai Pai

Paisley Dawn, you’ve added so much mischief, pink laundry and laughter to our lives in just 2 short years. You are beautiful and smart and kind and we love watching your personality unfold.

All About Paisley:

  1. Girl loves shoes. She changes shoes at least 5x/day. IMG_3705
  2. She prefers vegetables to anything. Cucumbers and roasted broccoli are her favorites. She would much rather eat adult food than chicken nuggets or pizza like Finn. She’ll only eat dark chocolate. We’ve got a little foodie on our hands. FullSizeRender 41IMG_3617
  3. Armstrong Dance Party begins every evening around 6:15pm. Girl’s got moves you’ve never seen. 😉 Then we race around the house–Finn in his wheelchair, and Paisley with her “wheelchair” (baby stroller). She wants to be just like Bubba.
  4. She loves bubbles and animals and babies. She is naturally nurturing and tender and loves “putting us to sleep.” IMG_4218 2
  5. She would do anything for Finn. I love to watch their growing friendship. IMG_3788IMG_3794
  6. She is bossy. I think that’s my fault. IMG_4198 2
  7. She drinks a vegan Arbonne protein shake every morning like mommy and daddy. The greener the better.
  8. She has curly, unruly hair like her Papa Terry. Shea Moisture spray does the trick.IMG_4024
  9. She is a big helper. She loves to clean and help me unload groceries or the dishwasher. IMG_4203 2
  10. She’s a climber, a jumper, a mover. She carries a step stool around the house so she can have full access at all times. Sister is a busy girl. IMG_3738
  11. I love her legs. They’re strong and sturdy. Stout and muscular. IMG_3631I prayed for long, skinny legs for a good portion of my adolescence. I didn’t like anything about my own. But when I see them in miniature form on my perfect daughter, I’m obsessed with them. Falling in love with her body has made me love my own even more.

Paisley, we love you. We need you. We celebrate you this weekend!

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Happy TWO YEARS!

He Did It For Me

Jesus dragged that splintered cross toward Golgotha’s hill for me. Burning muscles and tearing flesh. Spirit broken.

I can’t comprehend love like that–love that loved me before I loved Him. Love that accepted me at my worst but expects me to be my best. He became my sin and was punished for it.

Jesus stretched out his arms and was pierced for me. Pain for me. Spat upon and mocked by angry men, foaming at the mouth with hatred and fear. He was thinking of me with His face to the sky; a resilience that was not of this world. He cried bloody tears for me. His soul must have quivered at the hell that was encroaching. Thunder booming, lightning electrifying the sky.

The Lamb died for me.

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But then…He came back for me…so I could know the mystery of His living presence. So I could live fully, with hope. I can’t explain it, and I don’t need to, really.

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:15

If He did this for me, He did this for you.

 

Four Fingers

Four years of Finn. Four of the sweetest and hardest of my life.

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You are my heart on my sleeve. My superhero on wheels. My unexpected miracle.

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I am honored to be your mom, cheering and jumping up and down on the front row of your little life.

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God has big, important things for you to do, and we’re all watching.

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Happiest Birthday, Mighty Finn!

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4

(We’ve prayed this over you since you were in my belly, and we’re not stopping now.)

Santa Magic

I never believed in Santa as a kid.

I’m not really sure why, except that I tend to come by skepticism naturally. Also pretty certain my parents didn’t push it. One frigid Minnesota night when I was five, I stayed up and sat in the living room near the lit tree, hoping to hear reindeer hooves on our roof. Never happened. So I went back to bed, convinced it was a sham. No hard feelings.

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Fireside chats…

But the Santa we met today…he very well may have been the real thing; The Legend.

We have never taken Finn to sit on Santa’s lap before for several reasons:

  1. I am allergic to long lines. Hives. Hyperventilation.
  2. Shopping malls and/or crowded places used to terrify me with Finn wheeling around. So much staring and bumping into things and chasing. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically.
  3. I don’t believe in Santa.

But all you people and your adorable Santa-sitting-photos made me wonder if I was depriving my kids of something. So this morning we waited an hour and 1/2 at Bass Pro Shop to meet and take a free photo with Jolly Ole’ St. Nick. It was surprisingly organized and the staff were friendly and warm. We received a Santa pass for an 11:30 photo reservation. We chased our kids, watched the striped bass in the tank and ate at Uncle Buck’s restaurant while we waited. Not too bad.

Here’s where the magic happened…

While in line, Finn was spinning around and stalling on his back wheels (our new fav trick), and Santa looked over between crying toddlers and waved at Finn. Finn smiled and waved back.

Then as we were nearing the North Pole entrance, Santa signaled “wait” to his helper elf and waved on a little girl from the side. She was beautiful in a sparkly white gown and appeared to have Down Syndrome. Santa held both her hands at once and spoke directly in her eyes. She probably told him what she wanted for Christmas and he listened intently, nodding. He was not in a hurry. They hugged and hugged.

Once it was our turn, Finn wheeled excitedly toward the throne and Santa said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come visit me ever since I first saw you!” He took Finn’s little face in his gloved hands and whispered, “You’re so handsome.” I was struck in my gut by His warmth and kindness.

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This is when he was talking to Finn…I wish Joey had gotten Finn in the shot too. Paisley was shy, but didn’t cry.

He called Paisley an angel and we snapped this adorable photo.

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As I was taking Finn off Santa’s lap, he said to me, “Before you go, I need to speak with Finn.” He asked Finn, “Now what would you like for Christmas?” (A miracle. Advancements in Neurological Science. No more shunt revisions. Strong, sturdy legs. Peace on Earth…) Nope. Finn stretched both arms into the air and with glee, he shouted, “Candy!” Spoken like the sugar-deprived son of a personal trainer. 😉 Santa laughed, gave them each a candy cane, and told Finn how special he was and that he was so glad he and Sister came to visit him.

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I know this sounds cheesy, but today I imagined Santa was a little like our Savior. Waiting for us to come to Him, noticing us and yearning for our closeness all morning. And then He cups our face in His hands and asks us what we want, what we need. And it doesn’t really matter if he gives it to us or not. What matters is that He listens. He smiles warmly and loves us as we are and looks us in the eyes. He is not in a hurry.

December 19, 2015 was the day I first believed in Santa. 11:33am. Bass Pro Shop. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Thirty-two and a half years of age.

 

Give

This word has been hovering over my kitchen since Thanksgiving.

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Both families have agreed not to exchange gifts this year. They took away one of my love languages, and I’m not too happy about it. 😉 So I’m learning to give in new ways–perhaps more important ways than with the swipe of my debit card.

I’m giving more of my time. Each breath is on loan from my Creator, so it’s really not my time anyway, but I’ve always been most selfish with my time. Meetings that go long drive me bonkers. Commercials, snaking grocery lines, doctor’s offices, verbose, showy prayers, and stoplight traffic all test my patience something fierce.

Giving God more of my time (sheesh…it’s so hard for me!) in prayer and reflection has helped me refocus this Christmas season. I love the book, Savor, by Shauna Niequist. December 8th’s devotion reads:

“The season that centers around the silent, holy night, the simple baby, and the star quickly becomes the season in which we over-everything–overspend, overeat, overindulge, overcommit.”

I’m learning to give less frazzled, hustling, distracted moments and more intentional ones to the people I love.

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Give Joey longer, more attentive kisses.

Put my phone down and listen…to whomever is speaking to me: the Target cashier, my kids, my husband, my friends, Pastor Craig…

Let Finn spell out E V E R Y single letter in The Sleepy Train book and forget about the long list of naptime-to-do’s I need to accomplish before sister wakes up.

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They loved the Christmas lights at Rhema!

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Sit on my bathroom floor with Paisley while she digs through my makeup bag. Discuss the importance of beauty on the inside…and my new-found appreciation for high quality mascara.

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Life Church BA’s lobby is a Christmas wonderland!

Allow my clients the opportunity for proper form and quality of movement even when I planned another set.

Blog about what God’s doing in my heart and how He’s teaching me that giving is a mindset. I can give to Him and to you every day in simple ways.

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Taylor created this beautiful print for my mantel.

Give. And give again. Because when you give, you’re most like God, I heard someone say.

Getting Away

When life is hard, I go somewhere else in my mind–some fantastic place I’ve been before. This is the magic of vacation: the carefree memories last beyond the holiday. They get us through the arduous days and nights that follow.

I think about Colorado: Cascade Falls north of Durango and waking up in our tent beside Lime Creek.

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I go poolside in Mexico with my hottie husband doing a crossword puzzle at my left. I am climbing a rock face in Slovenia, slurping linguine in Florence, exploring ancient cathedrals in Rome. I’m bike riding up to a castle in Salzburg, on the dock with my family at the lake, canoeing in the Boundary Waters or whale watching in Alaska.

Getting away forces me to rest, breathe a little deeper and separate myself from the people and things that produce the most stress. But it also helps me appreciate those very things. With some distance between us, I am grateful for a home to clean, children to feed with butts to wipe, and a job with oftentimes too many clients to manage.

Most recently, we spent 4th of July weekend at my parents’ home in Bella Vista, AR.

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These two are something else!

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We watched fireworks over the dam, water skied, swam off the boat, and played games when the kids went to bed.

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Chad surprised us and drove up from Dallas to join the fun!

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This is going to be one of my new favorite traditions.

Last week, Joey and I left Tulsa on the earliest flight in the history of aviation, met our Norman friends in the Dallas airport (and two more met us in Mexico!) and continued on to Cancun.

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We were celebrating Dustin’s 40th birthday and our 9th anniversary.

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We stayed at Secrets Playa Mujeres.

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It was a new, all-inclusive resort with beautiful buildings/decor and really yummy food. I felt like Lady Edith, dressing up each evening, choosing anything I wanted off the menu and letting someone else do the dishes.

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We spent a couple blissful days at the spa.

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Anytime I get a massage, I pray…just so grateful for a moment to be pampered; a complete luxury. The masseuse would think I was a weirdo if she heard my inner monologue: “Oh, thank you Jesus. You are just so good. Always good…” 🙂

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LOVED this book! Thanks, Leah!

We had never traveled with friends before, and to be honest, I was a little nervous I wouldn’t get enough time with Joey, but it was perfect. We loved sharing meals with our friends each evening, laughing over the mariachi band’s lilting vibrato and tasting each others’ gourmet dishes. I miss the everyday-ness of our friendship with them. They are good people. Life-long friends.

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After day 4, we were missing our kids like crazy and ready to get home to our food, our workouts, our bed. We came home with a new appreciation for the regularity of our little life; ready to tackle parenthood head on.

Thank you, Mom, Dad and Chad for taking such fantastic care of our babies while we were gone. We can only travel like this because of your sacrifice.

Tuesday, Finn was diagnosed with an ear infection and sent home from school, then Paisley spiked a fever too. Yesterday, after hours of simultaneous crying and whining from my little loves, I took myself back to the relaxation room in Mexico. White robe. Cucumber slices on my eyes and eucalyptus in my nostrils. Breathe deeply. It’s going to be okay and it can always be worse. Dear friends are struggling with much worse diagnoses these days.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to get away but even more grateful for the opportunity to come home.