Middle Names and A Double Chin Named Fred

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Before I was a mom, I was told by a lot of parents just how unreal it is that their kids change so quickly. I of course didn’t understand the depth of that until I have been watching it firsthand. It is truly unreal, it was as if one day Arwen could barely say words and all of a sudden she was speaking in sentences. I am proud to say her first real sentence was, “Uncle Zach is pretty too.”  We were explaining what pretty and handsome meant, but she wanted to make it clear uncle Zach is pretty. I love watching her personality come out and most of the time she is super funny, goofy, and has a bit of sass. I do like to say that comes from my husband, but unfortunately the people in my life know that is a lie.

It is so enjoyable to see the things she likes and is interested in. Right now she is obsessed with knowing everyone’s middle name. No matter where we are, if you even make anything that looks remotely like eye contact she will usually first say, “What you name?” (we are working on the grammar). When they respond she follows it up with, “What is your middle name?” (see the grammar is better). There are times where she can care less about what your first name is and she will just ask what your middle name is. Because of this new found excitement in middle names, I now know all of our friends middles names and some people’s middle names and not their first names.

Recently we went to Starbucks and she asked the barista what her middle name was. We found out it was Victoria. We were in the drive-thru and I couldn’t see her first name. I was trying not to hold up the line and I sadly didn’t ask her first name, but I do know her middle name and I am sure most of the people in that Starbucks can’t say the same (I am really just making myself feel better for not asking her first name). As we drove off I asked Arwen if she knew what her middle name, Eliannah, means, and she said no. I explained that it means God has heard and answered and we named her that because we prayed for her and God blessed us with her. There is actually more of a story about how God answered and it has to do with hearing her heartbeat and the bathroom. I will leave you in suspense for that fun awkward story for another time.   After I said that she bowed her head and said, “Aww, thank you God.” I almost slammed on my breaks so I could sob. I love that she is so sweet and that was such a special moment.

As I have been thinking of her obsession with names, I realized I think she got that from me. I am sure all kids love people’s names, but I have gone as far as naming objects such as cars, designs in the wall, and even my double chin. My double chin’s name is Fred and when I was pregnant his cousin Helga came. We are not a fan of Helga. This has become such a thing that multiple friends have named theirs as well, although they have to force their double chins to come say “Hi.”

All this to say, I love that she is just curious, but in her curiosity we have met some wonderful people and my outgoing daughter has helped me to talk more to people that I may not normally talk to just because I am going through the rush of life. I want to be more like my daughter and take the time to know people’s first names, middle names, and double chin’s names.

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Love 146 ~ Last Update (For Now)

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Team Love Wins journey of walking 146 mile 46 ended on April 15th. I ended with walking 167 miles in 46 days, and many others also exceeded their goal as well.  Our fearless leader of Love Wins, Laura, walked 438 miles in 46 days! Our teams goal was to raise $20,000 and we were able to raise $29,162!   Words cannot express how blessed I feel to have been able to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

During these 46 days I knew things were going to try to pull my attention away from walking.  I just made a huge commitment of walking 146 miles 46 days, and I knew there would be things that would come up to take the focus off of these kids that don’t have a voice and back on to me.  In this time, my husband was looking for work (praise God, he got a job!), and my mom let me know that she has kidney cancer.  When I found out about my mom, I have to be honest, my walking wasn’t as much, I had a lot I was processing, naturally.  When I am sad, or worried I seem to shut down, and having this commitment, and the thought that I need to do something that is out of myself kept me in relatively good spirits.  Of course I had my off days, and sad days where I laid around with my husband and Arwen.  But knowing that I was a part of something so big, reminded me we all go through good times, and bad times.  Growing up, I had a lot of bad times, and I found out as I was an adult all the people rooting for me, all the people praying and fighting for me, and I truly believe that has had a hand on where I am now.

I don’t know these kids we are walking for personally, but I do know they do NOT have a voice and it is up to us to speak out against the injustice they face.  I may never know the outcome, but I want to know I at least am doing something.  I hope in no way this post is saying “look at what I did,” that of course is not my intention, but to just speak awareness of what the journey, of team Love Wins has been on, and what I personally learned in this journey.

I can’t thank everyone enough who had donated, shared my posts, had conversations with me, and walked with me.  Thank you to my wonderful husband who walked with me multiple times, or stayed home well our daughter napped and let me get more miles it.  He was such an encouragement in this journey. It was such a wonderful journey for me, and I am so thankful for each of you.

Just because the walking has ended, it doesn’t mean our desire to see child trafficking end (or any kind of human trafficking for that matter) will stop.  I know there are other things in the works to help in this journey, and I will from time to time keep posting about what we are doing.

If you want to help in anyway, Love 146 has ways that you can help!

Fear.

Untitled designWhen I knew that I was pregnant one of my biggest prayers was, “please don’t let her worry as much as I do.” Obviously she will have some worries at times, I know it’s unavoidable. Although I have been better, my worry used to be come paralyzing. I was so worried, of course, that when I had Arwen I would worry even more. Actually, I have gotten SO MUCH better. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments and my overreactions, but from where I was until now, I am a lot better.

Because I so badly don’t want to influence her in her fears and because she will have her own, I try to control my fears and not seem like I am scared of everything when I pretty much am. Okay, except when it comes to bees. I have had horrible parenting moments where a bee came at us and I ran leaving Arwen in her stroller. I did have a friend there so she wasn’t alone and I didn’t run far, of course I am not that bad, but yeah, not the best of times. Or like when a bee landed on my nose and I screamed like a little girl, so of course my methods of holding it together do not always work.

I do seem to become braver when I am around her. As she gets older I will share with her what I am scared about and I won’t pretend that I am never scared, but I want her to form her own fears instead of picking up all of my crazy and just mimicking me. So far she is super brave, she falls and she doesn’t cry (unless she is really hurt), she loves going fast, and so much more.  There are two things we discovered she is scared of though that make me giggle, one is flies. She HATES THEM! Oh, maybe she thinks when I run from bees they are flies? Anyways, she cries whenever she sees them. Yet, when one of our friends wore a scary clown mask this past Halloween, she wanted to play with it and wear it…all while I was trying to not run away screaming. The second thing that she is scared of is a song she loves. She loves to dance and she loves the theme song from Duck Tales. Recently though she has picked up on the lyrics that say “D-d-d danger lurks behind you / there’s a stranger out to find you.”  She will randomly run into my arms and say with fear on her face “OH NO, the Duck Tales will get me.”   Sad, yet funny all at the same time. We hug her and talk to her about her fear and why she doesn’t need to be scared. It’s funny that something she loves so much also scares her. I have feeling that might be why people like scary movies, that same feeling of love, but still being scared. I wouldn’t know since that is like number 7985804584905 of something I am scared of.

I was always scared of things when I was little. I had crazy fears. I remember for my birthday I was able to have a bounce house and a clown. The clown said since I was the birthday girl I got to stay in the bounce house the whole time. I remember thinking “this crazy clown is trying to trap me, I am on to his tricks, he is going to kick my friends off and in the switch of jumpers, since I get to stay on, he will suck me up in the bounce house and run away with me.” I was on to that sneaky clown.  I was also not a fan of people in costumes and that has carried through to now. I am OKAY with Disney characters, and Snoopy is OKAY, but the people that paint themselves gold or silver, I RUN! Although, a few years ago, an old family friend of mine was at my baby shower and she gave me a newspaper clipping, which is above, of me with the Easter Bunny. I seemed thrilled. It’s just so funny how as I get older I seem more fearful of silly things and in the midst of that crazy I become brave when I am around Arwen.

We went to Knotts Berry Farm recently and some of those kid rides were scary to me, but when she wanted to go with me, so I went and I smiled and held her. I was so focused on her that I wasn’t as focused on how I wanted to go hide in a corner. I love that she helps me grow and I am able to adult better because of her 🙂

Love 146 ~ Update #2

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If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have read how I have been walking alongside a team of wonderful people on team Love Wins, and we have been walking 146 miles in 46 days to help the efforts of Love 146 to end child trafficking. We have 5 days left and I was able to finish my 146 miles in 36 days!  I am still walking, and am at 154 miles as of today.  This issue of child trafficking weighs so heavy on my heart.  It hurts to know that these innocent kids don’t have a choice, and I am so honored that I have resources and abilities to spread the word that this needs to stop.  I am blessed that I have an amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing  husband who supports my efforts, and amazing friends who have joined in to walk with me and pray for these kids.  (Side note: I had originally had only 1 “amazing” for my husband, and he added the other 3.  He was kidding, but it’s true so I kept it).

I just got back from such a fun weekend.  We have such amazing friends, and we were gifted Legoland tickets.  9 of us stayed in a beautiful house, hung out and then went to Legoland.  Each one of my friends walked with me, and although we had fun while walking, they knew I really wanted to walk for “the kids” as my daughter likes to say while having fun.  So when there were things my daughter couldn’t go on, we walked.  I love that I have such an amazing support system, which isn’t just limited to my amazing friends I spent time with this weekend.  I am so blessed, that I have tears in my eyes as I write this.  I want that for these kids that don’t have a voice, I want them to know they are worth so much.

In this journey I am trying to raise money in the efforts to help stop child trafficking.  Before I even started walking I had reached my goal, what a blessing!  I actually had to raise my goal, and although I haven’t reached it yet, there is still time.  I am also just amazed by the conversations that are going on.  Almost every time I meet with someone, or talk to them we talk about why I am walking, and why it is so close to my heart.  Most people actually are asking about it, and I don’t even have to bring it for them to do so, that is really awesome, because the goal is to raise awareness.

Through this process, I have gotten to see more and more glimpses of my daughters heart.  And I am so thankful that at her young age of 2 1/2, she is understanding why we walk so much.  In my last update I shared her prayer, and the conversations I have with her, and I have to say we keep having it, and it has even progressed now.  She always tells me that we are walking for the kids, and it’s because some people are mean to kids. She has now added, that we need to help them.  It blesses me so much to hear this tiny human say things like that.  This has been such an amazing adventure and I am so honored I have been able to raise awareness.

If you aren’t completely sure what I am talking about, here is my original post as to why Love 146, and the efforts to stop child trafficking means so much to me.  I have also added my last update here in case you want to catch up.

Please feel free to share this with others, and if you want to check my page out, you can look here 🙂

Forgiveness

To My Mom (2)If you know anything about me, if you have heard me give my testimony, if you have read my posts, there are things that have been shared that don’t put my mom in the best light.  For a long time I allowed bitterness to block me from experiencing true freedom by forgiving.

I had forgiven her years ago, mostly because I was ok in my life, and I knew I could have been in a worse place.  Was the stuff I went through great? No.  Do I still have times of struggles from my past? yes of course, but I feel that is the case for everyone.  No matter how extreme the story, or maybe not as extreme as others, the facts are, our past shapes who we are, and it is up to us to either dwell in the past, allow the bitterness to run us, or try our hardest to not allow our past to depict our future, and our interactions with those we come in contact with.  Now I say all this, but it’s hard!

Like I said I had forgiven my mom, and had just come to the conclusion that she would never truly understand, or be able to understand the pain I went through, and I realized that if I wanted to move on with my life I need to accept that and forgive her to show her love despite what happened, and also to allow me to grow into a healthier person.

There is so much that her and I have been through, and most people may be shocked to know where we are now. Is it perfect? No, but I am trying.  One of the changing moments, is when a few minutes before I was to share my testimony about 4 years ago, my mom said sorry, but truly sorry, and told me that she is proud of me for sharing what I have been through, despite the fact that it makes her not look so great.  She has been my biggest encouragement in writing, blogging, and speaking.  Even though I know it is hard for her to read, she tells me to keep doing that. Who does that?

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time, and this has been in the queue recently before I had even found out about what my mom is going through at the moment.  In the future I may write stuff about my mom, that again doesn’t put her in the best light, but I will keep adding the link to this post to remind people where we are now.

In the past I have been asked to give my testimony.  With that said, I used to cry at the parts of my past where I felt I was abandoned, or the things I went through.  It was such a weird experience, it was this feeling of feeling like I was sharing someone else story, but then the crazy realization that I really experienced those things, but that I was safe.  The story has had multiple endings depending on when I was sharing. Some were, I am not talking to my mom, my mom is now in my life because she kept her word, and so on.

I was given the opportunity to share once again a few months ago.  This is the first time I shared since becoming a mom, and the most terrified I had ever been.  I feel this last time was life changing for me.  I spoke, I shared the nitty gritty, and I barely choked up talking about my past. Just to show how far removed I am actually from it.  I was talking about how no matter what we are NOT disqualified from God’s love and being used by God.  In this I started to cry when I brought up Chris, because for a lot time I tried to sabotage our relationship because I didn’t feel qualified, and if I continued that I would have missed out on living life with my best friend.  I then cried a little harder when I explained that I didn’t want to be mom, because I felt I would be the worst mom.  We waited 7 years to even try for a baby, and if I didn’t allow God to come into that I would have missed out on being my wonderful Arwen’s mom (I am actually tearing up now, because I can’t believe I thought that).  Then one of my last statements was “you heard everything my mom had done, and she is not disqualified from God’s love.”  Mom, I cried, and said how proud of you I am. I AM. I think I am better with words on “paper” but I want you to know that I see you.  I see how you have changed, how you have made a better life for you, Zach, and Rick.  You are getting involved in helping others, and you speak with such positivity, and I can’t express how proud of you I am.  There was actually a moment in September where I wept, because I missed you. This may seem weird, but it was a crucial moment for me.  Mom I love you.

I have chosen that it is easier to forgive then to hold onto bitterness.  Ok, now stay with me when I talk about this because it may seem random, but every time I watch Maleficent it reminded of my mom, and where I am.

SPOILER ALERTS ~ If you haven’t seen the movie Maleficent, don’t read ahead.

During the movie, Stefan a boy with no noble rights befriended a winged fairy friend named Maleficent.  They fell in love and so on.  When Stefan was given the opportunity to become king, he didn’t care who he hurt, he had one goal in mind…himself.  He ended up ruining the relationship with Maleficent to gain power, and to feed into his selfishness.  He got what he wanted by cutting off the wings of his friend to prove he killed her like the current dying king wanted, although he actually spared her life.  With this act of betrayal the once happy and loving Maleficent, allowed bitterness to rule her heart and revenge is what she sought after.  If you know the story of sleeping beauty, Maleficent put a spell on King Stefan’s daughter, and letting him know on her 18th birthday Aurora would fall into a deep sleep.  The king ended up sending his daughter away for her protection, and for 18 years thought of ways to take Maleficent down.  He wasn’t present for his daughters life, and you see him going crazy…literally, while trying to figure out a way to kill maleficent and to be ready for her.  He missed his wife’s death, and he missed his life trying to get revenge, by first allowing selfish desires to take over, and then revenge and bitterness to reign.  In the meantime you see Maleficent fall in love with Aurora, despite her best efforts, and feeling absolutely sick that she caused the one she loved (Aurora) to be hurt even though she was an innocent in these events.  A truly beautiful moment is when Aurora is in her deep sleep and Maleficent says ” I will not ask your forgiveness because what I had done to you is unforgivable. I was so lost in hatred and revenge.” If she hadn’t come to this realization, and because love woke Aurora up, Maleficent got to experience true forgiveness from her wrong doing, and also from herself.  In real life of course there is more to work on, and barriers to cross, but hopefully you get what I mean.  Sadly although Maleficent tried to extend an olive branch to King Stefan, just being tired from being angry, he didn’t take it, and lost his life.

In no way am I saying forgiveness is easy, or not a process, but I am just saying for me, when I was able to get there, it was freeing, and allowed me to experience so much. You don’t realize how much bitterness can weigh you down until you feel freed from it.

I feel for a time, I was Maleficent, I allowed bitterness to reign, but when I was able to forgive, it was freeing.  In the same breath, I feel like my mom is her as well, and she has allowed herself to forgive herself.

All this to say.  Mom, I want you to know I am proud of where you are.  Like we have talked about, you are not who you were back then, and you are a new person.  Although we are miles apart, I can see a difference in you, and I am proud of the fact that you are now finally letting the shame of the past be washed away.  I am thankful you made some tough choices, and you were selfless in those choices to make sure you can give a better life to Zach.  This is one HUGE way I can see a change.  I love you.