Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tough Decisions (edited)

Corey and I attended the Southeast Homeschool Expo at Cobb Galleria yesterday. I went with a huge to-do list:

1. Find curriulum for our school year.

In previous years, we have always bought our curriculum early on in the year, because I've decided what we want to do, and we are all done before it's even time for the expo.  But this past year, with all the changes going on, I didn't get it ordered.  Then, Corey and I have been discussing the idea of a hybrid school option for the 2014/15 school year.  I have just acknowledged the fact that it is very difficult to school Katie and Noah with a toddler around. And they are getting into more difficult subject matter that I just really want them to be sure to get a good survey of and it not depend on the day we are having if I can spend the time to do it.  And as they get older, we are just entertaining the idea of a hybrid school because of all the other things it would offer like clubs, honor societies, sports, music, and an accredited diploma at the end.

With this prospect on the horizon I knew that I wanted to get something that would get them more prepared for a classroom type situation.  I've always been very eclectic in choosing what we do, read aloud history from Sonlight, a separate math program, language, etc.  So this year, I was going to look at everything.

I got the sales pitch from all the big companies, looked at the ones I had also used in the past, and after considering the time that each type would take (I really loved Sonlight, but I had to realize that we just don't have the time for all the reading aloud), I made an extremely unlike me and difficult decision.

We went with a DVD based curriculum.

*GASP*  I really think I was in shock the rest of the day.  Truly.

I watched the sampler dvd they had playing for the specific grades and subjects that we were going to be getting, and also looked through the accompanying textbooks and workbooks.
They looked thorough and on target with the content I wanted to be sure to cover with them this year.
The dvds, honestly, are a bit dated, but they are tremendously better than the past experience I've had with a similar program.

The true test would be what Katie and Noah think.  So before bed last night we went through the sampler dvd with them with the subjects we would be using.  And they like it! Noah said, "It looks pretty good!" ha ha.  Perhaps it will do them some good to hear from varying voices and personalities for different subjects.  And honestly, it's neat for them to be able to watch many science experiments every day and learn things that way, because if it were left to us and our crazy schedule we probably would only get one done every other week at best.

We decided on Reading, History, Math, and Science.  They are filmed to be directed directly toward one child at home, and not just a video of a classroom.  And they are interesting, with plenty of interjected skits, animations, charts, real life photos, interviews, and virtual field trips.

My goal with homeschooling is to have school be just part of life, and for the education they receive to be customized for them, and for them to receive a quality (Christian) education without the restraints and influences of the public school system. This will still allow me to accomplish those goals.  In actuality, I am really enjoying thinking about perhaps having time to plan AND EXECUTE some more creative ideas now that I won't be the sole instructor for the basics.  If it isn't taking me an hour to read a 15 minute history selection, with interruptions every five minutes, perhaps I can actually gather resources to do some extra activities and projects. And get around to the "electives" like art and music more often.  Also, we still have our writing curriculum that I will be doing with them (they have lessons on DVD but it's one every week or two), and also I will be doing First Language Lessons with them as well.  So, it won't ALL be video based.

As I've had time to think about this over the last 24 hours or so, I think I've put my finger on the *issue* that I've had with this decision.  I've unfortunately always seen dvd homeschooling as something that would be chosen by someone who did not think they could do it on their own, who thought that the parent was not suited to teach their own children, or qualified, or for some people, (not all by any means), for those who didn't want to spend all that time with their children.

I thought that by making this choice I was putting those labels on myself, or thinking that is what others would think of me.

I absolutely do not believe that I am unqualified to teach my children.  And I completely believe that I *could* do it.  And I 1000% want to spend the time with my children.  So I have proven my assumption to be completely false. Because if no one else is an exception to those assumptions, I definitely believe that I am one myself.

I know my limitations.  I know that time management is a struggle for me right now with all the changes to our life and the space, time, and scheduling conflicts this presents.  I do not want an entire year of schooling for my children to fall victim to the fact that I struggle with maintaining a routine at this point in our lives.  And I acknowledge that using this system is a perfectly sound, potentially very fun, and one that provides a great deal of assurance for success for them this year, in being exposed to all the history, math, science, social studies, and reading material that might not all "get done" otherwise.  I know that it doesn't really matter what they get exposed to or how much isn't a life or death issue, but there is such a thing in this world as high school coming and college for their future if they choose it, and I don't want it to be more difficult for them than it would have to be for my lack of consistency and putting the material in front of them.  They are at a prime age for soaking up facts and knowledge.  I want to give them as much as possible.  So, some dvds with 180 days of learning included sounds like a good way to make sure we do it! ha ha!

I firmly believe that I have always done that for them in all these years so far.  But, the end of our last year for getting anything done with all the unnamed (ahem) little distractions made it VERY difficult.  And it definitely hindered relationships and patience for everyone involved.  I am hoping that this will provide more time for fun and creativity from mom, and less time being distracted and reeling everyone back in afterward.

I have lots of plans in place for how to keep the little one entertained, and there will be plenty of time to use those techniques during our writing, spelling, and language instruction.  But there's so much more that needs to be done including two different math lessons for two different grades, exposure to reading comprehension and vocabulary, science and social studies.  There is content to be learned and not just over the screams of the toddler or between trips to the potty.  And they aren't quite to the age of being able to completely school themselves (which will come the older they get).

And what of the toddler who actually needs to be played with and interacted with as well? I just feel there aren't enough hours in the day ha ha!

 This is just where we are right now, and I think (hope) that it will be a good fit.

Of course there's the 30 day money back guarantee if it turns out it isn't, ha ha.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Challenge Update

Okay! So I didn't get around to blogging yesterday, but I will just skip to today instead.

As of this morning, I am down 3.6lbs and 3 1/2 overall inches since Sunday! I know that anytime a new diet is started, those first pounds just drop away easily, but I am still encouraged! I HATE where I started, and I hope that once this cleanse phase is over I will feel more energized and able to do some exercise which I know will help even more!

The fiber drink yesterday was YUCK! Again! BUT, today I got a break for it until the last three days of the cleanse phase, so I am happy about that.  Today I had two eggs and a piece of toast for breakfast, and we had pork chops for lunch.  I made my pork chops separately just cooked in pineapple chunks with the juice and they were delicious.  I had garlic oven roasted asparagus with it.  Everyone else also had mashed potatoes and mac n cheese.  I just had my afternoon Spark with some almonds for a snack.  I really am feeling the lasting effects (ahem 2am) of the caffeine, but I SO look forward to the drink in the afternoon, so maybe my body will get used to it eventually.  Late late last night I was starving and had a banana at 1am, so that's probably not great, ha ha.  But oh well.

One plus I am noticing, and I did this when I was doing a strict paleo diet, is the energy I get after eating.  I don't know if it's because my body is "feeling" deprived right now due to the drastic change in food amount, but regardless I am getting that "rush" after meals that I SO enjoyed when eating paleo.  Much better than the draggy feeling I was having after eating junk and tons of carbs.  I really feel that I need to help implement this more with the kids too because I know they would feel better without a carb at every meal.  Everyone does!

AND potty training is still very hit or miss.  She definitely understands, but she's just in the experimental phase I guess.  It is looking like whether she's wearing panties or a diaper doesn't really make a difference.  OFTEN she will just pee in the panties, and many times she will tell us she needs to go potty when she's wearing the diaper.  She is just very two years old and if I can tell she needs to go and she doesn't want to, there is NO making her (without screaming and flailing away from the seat).  This isn't a live or die issue yet, so I'm not going to make her with screaming.  I'd rather reserve the seriousness for her more often tendency to draw on things that aren't paper.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Two

My second day drinking my fiber drink went much better.  Thanks to me thinking of perhaps mixing it with ICE WATER! Made such a difference!  Gulped it right down, then had one egg and a piece of toast because I got up late.
Lunch was chicken nachos for the family.  So I cooked myself a chicken breast with some of the onions and peppers, with only a little bit of salt and cumin and chili powder added.  I ate that with some black beans on the side and a generous amount of fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.  Drank plenty of water.
The afternoon slump hit severely, so I had a banana, and drank my Spark. The mandarin orange flavor was delicious!
For dinner I had my Omegaplex, a huge salad with lots of turkey, also tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, pecans, and a tiny bit of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.
I had my awful post dinner shakes again and ate a Lara bar and an apple.

As for the other new thing of the week, (potty training) I care not to discuss it today. :(

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Longest Day

Today may have been one of the longest days of my life! HA!

Two things: I started the Advocare 24 Day Challege, and decided also to begin potty training Ruby in earnest.

First up: the 24 Day Challenge.  I've been wanting to do this for months, but since Ruby was still nursing I had to keep putting it off.  So, finally, the time has arrived!

My eating has gotten utterly and completely out of control.  I would blame stress and that might be a lot of it, but part of it is also just me being indulgent and careless.  I haven't ballooned out of all my clothing, but it definitely is far above and beyond where I want to be.  Corey and I both dropped tons of weight at the beginning of the year when we were strictly eating Paleo, and I LOVED how I felt.  It's just been one thing after another getting in the way of being strict with it again.  So, I wanted to do this challenge as a jump start back into healthy eating.

It starts with a 10 day cleanse phase, then followed by a two week supplement and diet regime.
Today was day one.
I had my fiber herbal cleanse drink first thing, and let me say it was DISGUSTING!

haha.  Seriously, I was trying to chug it during our first potty session this morning (more on that later), and couldn't drink it fast enough so it started getting really thick, so I had to add more water and then it took even LONGER to get rid of! BUUUUUT I am sure it will be worth it!  The idea is that you cleanse and clean out first to get ready for maximum absorption during the second phase.  Makes sense.  I have never done any type of cleanse before, so we will see how it goes.  I only have two more days of this particular drink in the morning then I get a break for a few days before I do it again.

This cleanse includes just a very clean eating and portion controlled diet with it.  So after my drink I had two eggs with a piece of toast and a banana.  After all that, I was completely STUFFED.  SO FULL!!!!! So by lunch I wasn't the least bit hungry.  I drank a Spark (vitamin/energy drink with the plan) while everyone ate. then around 1:30 ate my lunch of a salad with greens, tomatoes, carrots, some turkey, and pecans sprinkled on top.  I drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on for dressing.

I knew the afternoon would be my weak spot.  I was suddenly starving!  I had some banana chips, almonds, and frozen blueberries for a snack.  And held out with a glass of water before dinner. I took my Omega plex supplements about 15 minutes before dinner.

Dinner was yummy! Pintos, sauteed kale, a baked sweet potato, and tomatoes with light olive oil and basil.  Then about an hour and a half after dinner I was feeling the serious sugar and carb withdrawals.  Shakiness and sweaty.  The food change combined with the events of the day (potty training!) had me completely spent as far as energy!  I thought I wasn't going to make it! ha ha!
Around 9 I enjoyed a coconut Lara Bar.  Mmmmmm........

So I think that puts me over on snacks today, but I know it will get easier after these cravings stop!
A little bit ago I had a swallow of apple juice.  Going cold turkey is just so hard! But I think I did pretty well!
I am excited to see my results after the first two days.  I think I will do a weight check on Wednesday morning. Later, right before bed I have a probiotic something or other to take, another part of the cleanse. I already dread that fiber drink the morning.  But I LOVE eggs, so that will be my reward for making it through!

Now, for the other big thing going on all day which made my day seem never ending!

Ruby has been interested in the potty for a long time.  She actually went a couple of days back in January or February and used a little potty several times.  But then the fun wore off.
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to potty training AT ALL.  I hate using public restrooms with toddlers, and also having to stop the car to find potties when out and about. So I put it off as long as I thought I could/should.  On the other hand, I didn't want to wait TOO long, till the fascination with prizes and praise wore off.  After a very busy week of VBS last week, I decided this week would be a good time to spend every day at home, rest, and give it a try.

I started by gathering a basket of "prizes."  We have already been giving a tiny marshmallow over the past few months when she would randomly say "potty" and actually go, so I wanted something different.  I got a pack of pipsqeak markers (opened so she could pick one at a time) because she LOVES drawing.  Also got a pack of the party favor size play doh.  She's never really played with play doh, so I thought that would be fun.  Some teeny stamps from the $1 spot at Target, some bracelets, kazoos, and that's about it.

Put panties on her first thing and she wouldn't pee in the potty, and had two accidents back to back.  Then I discover that I only have four of the six pair of training underwear I bought! So I'm already washing because I'm going to run out of them! Then I get the idea to start giving her a sticker every time she is DRY when the timer on my phone goes off.  Either it worked or she just got the hang of it, but she then stayed dry for a LONG time.  She would get a sticker, and we would go sit on the potty.  Then it progressed to, she would use the potty, then I would set a timer for 6 minutes, give a sticker for being dry, set a timer for 5 minutes, get a sticker for being dry, then I would get her on the potty and she would go.  If not, the timer would get shorter until she actually used the potty.  And when she went on the potty she got a prize from the basket.  She chose markers at first and loved drawing in between potty trips, but after that first play doh was opened, she was HOOKED!  She LOVED it.  So we basically played play doh ALL DAY LONG while checking and stickering and pottying EVERY THREE to SIX minutes all day long! Did I say this went on ALL DAY LONG?  Our last timer went off sometime between 9 and 9:30 and we were in the bed at 10! I put that diaper on with a big sigh of relief at 9:45 ish!

And on a very Ruby hilarious note, she was very dramatic during those 15 minutes! She rolled around all over the floor and squirming around everywhere saying VERY loudly, "MY BUUUUUUUUP" (My butt!), "My BUP MYYYY BUUUUUP!"
No idea what was the problem.  I checked and made sure her diaper wasn't off kilter or too tight, I guess she just didn't like the way it felt after having on soft undies all day! ha ha.

But, right before nap time she told ME that she needed to potty and went! So I really think it's going to come along just fine! I have no interest in forcing her to do this, but I do think the time might be just right.  She hasn't quite reached that "well, I've already GOT a prize to play with so I don't need any more" stage of not caring whether she goes anymore that day.  I believe we hit that stride at one point with Katie, ha ha.

Let's hope day two goes easier for both scenarios tomorrow!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Year Later

We made it!

We faced the seemingly impossible and we survived! ha ha.

It's actually been a week past a year now. We've moved twice, been through a financial overhaul, been through the loss of two relatives (a grandmother, and uncle).  We thought we had a plan last summer, and a good one at that.  But thankfully, God has better plans than us, and we ended up in the right direction after all.  We are now, again, in a stage of waiting.  But, "it isn't a wait without the longing"...this longing and waiting period will make the MOVING part that much more awesome and amazing when it comes.  When we can see what was happening behind the scenes, and when that perfect timing comes, every single day will be worth it! And we can be full of faith that the LORD is just as excited to show us the answers...but He can't until it's TIME!

Isaiah 30:18

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

In the meantime, Corey has managed to work a full-time job (second shift), complete another year of his schooling (with a straight A record!), and be so impressive at work that he has been given an opportunity to move up, something that many he is working with haven't done in working there for much longer than he has!

I am so SO proud of him.  He has nothing but our best in mind!  I predicted it going into the entire "thing" last year, but after having lived through it for a year, I can say with certainty that I would do it all again over facing the loss of a pregnancy and repeat miscarriage again.  That broke my heart.  This broke up our routine, but our faith and family remains strong!

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

God is good, and we love being part of His plan.  Always!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bittersweet milestone

As my first born daughter was placed into my arms, I never thought I would end up nursing her for a year.  That seemed like a looooong time to me, someone who had never experienced the swiftness of the years of baby/toddler/childhood from the mother's perspective.

Then, after Noah was born and I went to work when he was five weeks old, I was determined to not let working full time get in the way of him receiving the same benefits of breastmilk.  I pumped while at work, nursed at home, and we made it a year as well.

Many years later, there was no question as to whether or not I would nurse the third baby.  And from the very beginning we had it easy, she was a pro, and after much more internet research and experience in those in between years I naturally relaxed into a "nurse on demand" "don't watch the clock" rhythm with Ruby.  How very relaxing and freeing it was to not stress about how many hours it had been, or try and pump and give bottles.  I think because I had lived the newborn stage when I was so young, and realized how VERY quickly a year goes by, I was in no rush to stretch out feedings, and I wasn't embarrassed or awkward about just feeding her whenever, wherever, so it didn't impede our comings and goings hardly at all. Barring some issues with reflux, and me having to completely cut out dairy for about 9 months, we had it very easy.  I didn't rush starting solids, and she maintained a good weight and overall good health.

And, as I suspected, her one year birthday came entirely too suddenly for me!

That year just wooshed by, just like the ten it's been since I first became a mother.

At the time of her turning a year old, Ruby was still nursing 2-3 times a day.  And it wasn't because I made her or offered when she didn't want to.  She was still happily nursing in the morning, at nap time, and bedtime.  She also ate a good variety of other foods.  She just still wanted to nurse.  I didn't feel pressured to stop, and the benefits of nursing past one year have been repeatedly proven. I wish more people knew that some magical timer isn't going off somewhere and all the benefits for their baby aren't disappearing into thin air that hour past their first birthday!

Following her birthday, our life went kind of topsy turvy.  She did slow down on nursing during that summer, sometimes just once a day, but then we moved, were under a ton of stress, and then spent a very long winter enduring multiple sicknesses.

As anyone knows, a nursing infant will instinctively increase nursing when they are sick.  Even though Ruby did get sick several times, I am sure that her continued nursing did help her get better and not suffer even more than she already did. So, throughout this move, the stress, the job changes, the sicknesses, we were still nursing strong, twice a day, more in the night when she was sick.

Yeah, I was getting pretty tired of it.  But I did not want to force her, because in all honesty it still just didn't seem like that big of a "thing" to me.  We were both happy.  It wasn't inhibiting my ability to function, and really, on matters like this I learned to just do what I want and what I think it best and not really ask for opinions anyway, ha ha.  Contrary to what many may think, it hasn't turned her into a weird kid, who cries and clings to mommy everywhere we go and who can't be a regular kid.  She is extremely confident, has never cried when I leave her in her church class, and she easily interacts with other kids and adults, and is definitely not traumatized by her extended nursing, ha ha.  (really, some people just have no idea about anything! seriously!)

In March of this year, we were faced with another sudden move.  Which coincided perfectly with a horrible stomach virus that took quite a while to make its rounds through the family....*twice*.  Insert another increase in night nursing for the 22 month old.  I will never forget as I snuggled up with Ruby that night in the recliner, my mother in law taking such good care of us.  I hadn't really discussed the nursing progress lately, so I cautiously told her that Ruby would probably want to nurse.  My mother in law didn't even flinch (outwardly that I could tell anyway! ha ha!).  It was so incredibly wonderful to be supported in what isn't a mainstream decision.  I know many people that I know of who would have gotten some serious negative feedback from nursing a toddler of that age.  The same with my mom, she hasn't given me any kind of negative feedback about nursing, or the length of time we've been at it.  They have both been nothing but supportive with all of my breastfeeding decisions, from the time I brought Katie home, then Noah, and now with Ruby.

And, most importantly, I have to express thanks for a very supportive husband.  He, more than anyone, has been the support for me when it was hard, and has gone along with my dietary needs for Ruby, and hasn't complained, pressured me to stop or to do things differently to make it seemingly "easier" (I don't think I could prepare a bottle if I had to without explicit instructions! ha!).  I know that many husbands are not supportive, get angry or jealous about the bonding, or just disapprove in general, but Corey has never been any of those things toward me.  It would be difficult to continue to do something that especially in the beginning can be challenging to a post-partem woman, if the opinions expressed were negative and critical of that choice.

Now, for the reason for this post.

It seems that this entire journey has now come to an end.  Ruby, after getting settled again, and staying healthy for an extended period of time these past few months, has, * I think * stopped nursing now.

The last time that I can remember was July 3rd or 4th (you'd think I would have paid more attention! ha!).

It has mostly been directed by me.  But not forcibly.  I just simply felt it was time.

We gradually moved down to one night time nursing, at which time I started telling her when we were done.  Then she started getting distracted with music games before falling asleep and just stopped asking.  I honestly think that if you go for a year, that waiting for them to be able to understand and reason a little more really makes a huge difference when the time does come.  I was able to say "later" or "wait" and she understood me perfectly.  We went for a month with about a week in between her nursing sessions.  And now it's been another week.

It is truly, truly bittersweet for me.  Who knows if we will ever have more babies?  She could very well be the last, and another reason I was in no hurry to rush.  Time just goes by so swiftly.  These two years and almost two months I know will turn into ten years ago so very quickly.  And I've shed more than one tear about her turning into a toddler and talking up a storm, pretending to read, and before long I know she will be potty trained and learning her letters and numbers.

I have enjoyed my time with her as my "nursling" and will never ever regret not stopping the clock at the 12 month mark!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Twelve 7/7/13

On July 7th we will celebrate 12 years married.
Twelve years ago we said "I do." 
A wedding planned in less than a week (after over a year of being engaged),
 it's been a whirlwind from the very start!
15 months later, our lovely firstborn joined the family, followed 19 months after that when the second born came along. We really had an exciting and stressful newlywed period.

And, I can say, absolutely, without a doubt, there is no one else in this world that I would rather spend my married life with.

I've heard many verses read at weddings, 
yet this one comes to mind as I reminisce on our years spent together:

Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another

In a really good marriage, I believe this is the most truth that can be said.  We, throughout the years, have sharpened one another.  In a way that makes us better people, better parents,
 and better spouses to one another.

I also need to share, that Corey, completely and utterly loves me.
I know so, because he lives out this scripture in our lives, daily, consistently, and reverently:

Ephesians 5:22-33
Stay with me, I am adding commentary

 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 
Corey impresses me all the time with how he has owned this role and taken up the burden for our family.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. I think it is the curse of women to struggle with this, I would hope that Corey would say (if he's being honest and not sarcastic!) that I have improved here too! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! ha!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  
I'm going to take some liberty with this verse and how I feel it speaks to me right now. Corey has never once limited me, degraded me, or begrudged me in going to Bible studies, leading Bible studies, or participating in various opportunities to grow in the Lord. I view this as his way of allowing me to be "washed with water through the word" and encouraging me to be a better person. If you think about it, anyone who encourages others to do this is making the person better for themselves, as it says at the end "present her to himself without stain or blemish." I know I've got plenty of stains and blemishes, but I just thought of all the ways that Corey helps our family and himself by encouraging me to constantly seek out more knowledge and truth for myself.

 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. 
Corey loves me more than himself.  I know this because he shows it.  He doesn't just appease me with flattering words, because he long ago discovered that words mean very little to me.  He shows me this in his life.  His everyday care for my well-being.  His heartfelt concern for my health, both emotional and physical. He is a comforter to me in my times of grief and heartache, and a fantastic listener.  He shows sincere appreciation of the things I do for him, not just with words, again, but with actions and with a grateful and respectful attitude toward me. He shows me respect as a woman and as a mother.  He trusts in my areas of strength, such as decisions involving home/house matters, or in things concerning the children.  And by this respect I have grown to complete trust in him in the areas that are his own areas of expertise. He truly treats me as one would treat themselves, and I cannot stress enough how this is a true, active, and deliberate choice he makes through his behavior and actions toward me on a daily basis, not just through words and public deeds for others to observe.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

We make decisions together.  We go through life together.  We have a family together.  We have our own legacy to create and are working to correct the habits we have that we don't want to see continue in our family legacy.  We are making deliberate decisions to raise our children in a way that we believe that will empower them to live for Christ, though many of those decisions stray from the "norm."  We strive to cultivate a spirit of love, confidence in the Lord, and humility. We have certainly gone through some refinement over the last few years, but the growth we've seen cannot compare to the loss we've suffered.  We have truly weathered life as one, since the day we said, "I do."  And it's something that could not be done until that time we were both on the same page about following and trusting God with our lives together and as a family. 

 I am blessed that Corey and I call the same One "Father" and that we trust Him with all our days faced as one flesh. It is that love, given from Christ that enables us to speak respectfully when a harsh word would come more easily.  It is that spirit that helps us determine when we've overstepped and an apology is needed.  It's that gut spirit leading that helps us navigate the path we've walked lately, and leads us to make choices that maybe don't make sense at the moment, but will take us to where He wants us to go.  

It is truly the like-minded desire for the will of God in our lives that has made our marriage go to that deepest place and thrive in the midst of adversity.

Phillipians 2:1-4

 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

I love him. 12 years ago, had I been able to look into the future at all the ups and downs, good days and terrible ones, the joys and excitement, and every single hurt and sorrow filled night, I would quickly, and hastily make the exact same choice, so that I could feel the love and complete oneness that I feel at this very moment.