Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our Story ~ Letter to Little

Well, now we come to the part of the story I don't know how to tell.  In five, ten, fifteen years my sincerest prayer is that we can point to the altar we built during this time and declare in confidence the LORD brought us through a really dark time and grew us while we were in it. The blessings have outweighed the pain.

Dear Little One,

Sometimes life is more difficult than we let on and in trying to hold our life together by ourselves we cause more hurt and brokenness - to ourselves and sometimes to others. In those broken times our mind wanders and in the worst of times can lead us off the narrow path. 

What I want you to know is you can never stray too far from the power of grace. This is what your papa and I learned this summer. While we can't change what happened and though it may continue to haunt us and those who were hurt, this I know: God will make something from these ashes.  

We need people in our lives. To share our joys and sorrows and to hold us accountable. I hope you always feel the love we have for you and the love of the people who will surround you feel. 

We love you and are so excited to meet you.


***I think I started writing this a year ago, but still didn't know where to go with it. A year later I think this suffices.***

Monday, October 14, 2013

Showers of Blessings

***I realize this is a weird way to come back to blogging - there's about 5-6 months of really fascinating details from my life that needs to be documented, but this is what needs to be proclaimed right now.***

It is not a secret that I struggle with budgeting. I believe I've mentioned it a time or two in "year in review" and "about me" posts. It's something I know the value and importance of but have never succeeded in putting to practice. Several things have happened in the last couple months that brought to mind the parable of the talents.

A couple months ago, our dear friends invited us to live in their finished basement and we moved in the beginning of last month. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to focus on paying down our debts and build up a nest egg. 

We want to make the most of this time we have, so a couple weeks ago we sat down and focused on our budget and debt snowball. We were encouraged to see we could be debt-free (with the exception of a student loan we're still trying to get all the details about) by August 2016.

We then opened the first of what we thought was a medical bill. Inside was a reimbursement check for an overpayment I had made. The check was for $1.24 more than an unanticipated dental bill Jason had received a call about the day before. We had been budgeting for 5 minutes and were already winning!

The following week I had my annual review at work, where I received a 5% wage increase that will be retroactive to August 24, which is my hire anniversary. When I came home, there was an envelope holding another unexpected check for our refundable apartment deposit. (I have lived in several apartments and have never received my deposit back, no matter how spotless I have left the unit, so this was incredibly surprising.) Suddenly, we were ahead of the game.

I want to build an altar here in this place of how God is providing for us. We recognize the blessings that have come our way and we want to be good stewards of the resources we have been entrusted with. For the first time in a very long time we are caught up on all our bills, can put extra towards our debts, have made tithing a priority and don't feel like we're suffocating. We're still far from being debt-free, but in light of last week's events our debt free date has moved up to January 2016 (with the same caveat as above) and suddenly doesn't seem so unattainable.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day Post

Pssst.... I'm featured over at Rough and Rede's blog today.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Finding the Right Name

“Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.

Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh; "my name means the shape I am - and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”  --
Lewis Carroll

I have always loved names. Unique names, mythological names, antiquated names, Biblical names... the list goes on. So much of my life, outlook, and confidence is wrapped up in my own name - victory and wisdom - that I have always taken the task of naming very seriously. 

Enter my husband. He also takes naming very seriously and we both want a strong, meaningful name for our child. And that's where the similarities stop. I say "Hilde," he says, "Norah." I say, "Freya" (nod to his Nordic roots) he looks at me like I grew a second head. I think the seriousness of naming may be one of the reasons the gestation period is 40+ weeks.

Nearly 10 years ago, we had settled on names for our children. In the meantime both of those names have skyrocketed to the top of the charts and/or been added to our family via other means. (Even the back up names, so strange.) So when the two pink lines showed up it was back to the drawing board. And what a fun drawing board it's been. 

While we still haven't settled on a name, we have narrowed the field to ones we both love and have meaning to us personally, historically, and etymologically. This I know: Little Girl will have a name that she can use to help define or challenge herself and can wear with pride. 

***As an aside, I think it's strange when people refer to their baby by name while s/he is still in utero. It makes me really uncomfortable. Part of it is I think it's important to meet and see the person you're naming before you saddle them with something. This is my quirk, so even if we settle on something (unlikely) before Little Girl arrives it'll stay under wraps. Jason doesn't want unsolicited feedback on names, which I also agree with. ***

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Pregnant than I've Ever Been

Geiser Pollman Park, Baker City, OR
35 weeks and so blessed
Wow, I really haven't documented life lately. I like to think it's because I've been out actively engaging in it, but that wouldn't be entirely true. What I've been doing is trying to put words to all the excitement, fear, and "bigness" (for lack of a better word) of preparing for a child, encountering new physical limitations, and growing in my career. And as stressed and freaked out as I get about it all, I have a constant sense of peace and feel so very blessed.

To date, we have been given boxes of clothes, baby gear, blankets, and books from my cousins whose children are all past toddlerhood. Two of my cousins blessed me with their maternity clothes so I haven't bought anything except for the outfit I'm wearing in the maternity pictures (which isn't maternity and super comfy). Their generosity brings me to tears.

We've had four showers - one in California with the family, one with our West Side friends, one in my hometown with my family and dear friends, and one on the East Side with extended family and friends. Little Girl has been bathed with so many well-wishes and love I get more excited to introduce her to all the people who loved her before she was born every day. Kid's pretty blessed as well.
Lovely baby afghan my other mama made Little Girl
Not pictured is the matching hat, which is adorbs

I seem to have hit the stage in pregnancy where everyone expects me to be uncomfortable, grumpy, and ready to be done. I have some discomfort here and there, but mostly I'm just really happy and really excited. Also, I have a work project that needs to be finished before she arrives. I love the picture of Jason and I looking at each other around the tree cause it sums up the last 9 months so well - we're joyfully walking the path before us and enjoying (nearly) every minute of it. (Pregnancy hasn't been a piece of cake, but I know as rough as it's been at times - nausea, sickness, GD scare, constant heartburn, exhaustion, etc - it could have been worse.)

Watching Jason put together the crib (I helped towards the end, which was quite the hoot as I kept losing tools cause I could see them around my belly) and arrange the nursery has been so fun. He picked out her dresser and refinished it. We recently bought a cabinet/hutch combo at Goodwill for $5 he will also be working on. He's been way more industrious than I have and for that I am very grateful. He's an organizing whiz and has come up with some great storage solutions for the nursery/office. Last night Bryan and Crystal came over to help organize and move things around and I am so pleased with the results.

We still need to pack our hospital bag, install the carseat (Jason got the car detailed yesterday which was much needed, but did delay the installation), go on a date, and pack Little Girl's coming home bag, but feel like we're as ready as we're going to be and the rest is just little things. (Besides the carseat, I realize that's a big deal.) 

Grandma and Grandpa will be here next week and I'm so thankful they'll be nearby to help out when Little Girl arrives. Aunt Deb will be visiting the weekend of the estimated due date, so I'm praying Little Girl chooses to arrive then as it would be so special to have my aunt with us. 

So, all in all this whole post could have been summed up like this: I am blessed, I am surrounded by love, and I am humbly accepting this new path we've been set on. Little Girl, we are so excited to meet you!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012: But for the Grace of God go I

The sun is setting on another year. The air has turned a bitter cold and as I breathe it in I reflect back on what 2012 brought and taught me. It was a strange year that will reverberate through and color the rest of my life. Fortunately, the heartbreak and joy balance eachother out nicely.
2012: The Survey
Was 2012 good for you? This year was challenging, humbling, and full of growth. Those things aren't bad, just uncomfortable. 

What was your favorite moment of the year? This year my favorite moment was sitting in an ultrasound room with my husband listening to our baby's heartbeat for the first time. I wish you could bottle up those emotions and relive them every day. There is nothing like the sound of a miracle.

What was your worst moment of the year? The single worst moment was learning I'd been lied to by the one person I trust unconditionally. The fall out from that was pretty hairy as well.

Where were you when 2012 began? I don't remember and there are no pictures to document the occasion... Oh wait. I spent all of December 30 in Bend doing the Ale Trail. December 31 we were recovering and Jason and I drove home. I remember driving home, it's entirely possible I stayed home and slept once we got there.

Who were you with? I'm sure Jason and the cats were home.

Did you keep your new years resolution of 2012? In 2012, I committed to the My One Word challenge. My word was grace and I can say in confidence that choosing to respond in grace and hold myself to a standard of grace has positively affected every area of my life.

Where were you when 2012 ended? At the Higley house with Higley parents, Josh, Laura, Palke, and Jason. We watched Season 7 How I Met Your Mother episodes 2-10. 

July 2012 - Dinner at Elmers on the
way home from Cousin Palooza 2012.
Do you have a new year's resolution for 2013? I will continue with the One Word challenge, though I am not sure what this year's word will be yet. Humbleness, consciousness, and hope are all words I'm tossing around right now.
Did you fall in love in 2012? Yes, and I learned to choose love even when it's really, really hard.
Did you make any new friends in 2012? Met some new runners and friends of friends.

This was the best picture from the race. Leslie is terrified of
mascots and finds Stitch particularly frightening.
So awesome.
 What was your favorite month of 2012? February.

Why this month? In February my best friend and I took a girls' trip to Orlando, stayed at a DisneyWorld resort, ran the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon (my first) and visited Harry Potter World. So much was packed into five days and every day of it was awesome.

Did you travel outside of the country in 2012? Well, 2012 was NOT the year I actually went to Canada. Seriously, I will renew my passport. I was just thinking about this earlier today, but I have fatty pregnant face right now and I'm not thrilled with the idea of renewing my passport whilst 5 months pregnant.
Preparing for Turtle Shell 2 Epic Relay activation and reuniting
with Kisha after she spent a year in the Dominican Republic.

How many different places did you travel to in 2012? Roseburg, Epic Oregon Relay (Tigard to Eugene), up and down the northern Oregon Coast, and Orlando.

Did you miss anybody in the past year? I got pretty anxious for my grandparents to come back north and started missing the Johnstons dreadfully mid-winter. Fortunately everyone was back home by June.

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2012? "Brave" and "Les Miserables" are the only movies I remember watching in 2012 (Les Mis just made the cutoff with a New Year's Eve 7 pm showing). I preferred Les Mis to Brave.

What was your favorite song from 2012? "Blessings" by Laura Story
How many concerts or plays did you see in 2012? Zack Freiwald down at Earth & Vine in Baker City.

Did you have a favorite concert in 2012? Voices of Hope concert at Living Savior Lutheran. We weren't singing this year, but it's always so great to hear them sing.

What was your favorite book(s) in 2012? Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church by Pam Hogeweide and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis made the biggest impact on my life. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling had me in stiches an entire weekend.

Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Nope.
Dad, Mama, Ryan, Steph, and Judah Bentley came to visit!
August 2012 - Bob's Red Mill

What was the biggest lie you told in 2012? "We're great."

Did you treat somebody badly in 2012? I had some moments with my husband I could have shown more grace. Sometimes grace is really, really hard.
Happy, tired Finishers!
Disney Princess 1/2 Marthon
Disney World, Orlando

Did somebody treat you badly in 2012? The bad behavior was not directed at me, but it definitely had lasting consequences that affected/are affecting me.

What was your proudest moment of 2012? Finishing the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2012? The first time I threw up at work from pregnancy induced nausea. It didn't get less embarrassing, but we all kinda accepted that was going to be the routine for awhile.
Katie's (pregnant lady in denim skirt) baby shower fun!
Looking forward to three more of these in 2013.

If you could go back to any moment of 2012 and change something, what would it be? My response on May 15, though part of me is glad things played out the way they did cause it could have been worse.

Where did you work in 2012? AMC Foundation

Favorite TV shows(s) of 2012? Once Upon a Time and we've gotten into Burn Notice

Favorite Band(s) of 2012? The Band Perry and ABBA

Favorite Food in 2012? Mashed potatoes and cantaloupe

Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks
Harry Potter World, Universal
 Favorite Drink in 2012? Butterbeer

Favorite Place in 2012? German and Norway Pavilions at Epcot

Favorite person(s) to be with in 2012? Leslie, Dez, Heather, and Crystal

Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2012? Aunt Deb, Bobby, Grandma+pa

Favorite trip in 2012? Orlando trip with Leslie. Bonneville Dam Hot Springs for my birthday is a close second.

Favorite stores in 2012? I really didn't do much shopping this year... Cottonbabies and Amazon got most of my spending money.

Hardest thing you had to go through in 2012? Rebuilding my marriage.

Most exciting moment(s) in 2012? Running the 1/2 Marathon at Disney World/Epcot. Crystal's pregnancy. Ethan's birth. Going off the antidepressant medication. Spending a week with the Bentley Family. Laura's pregnancy. My own pregnancy and learning we're having a little girl (totally won the lottery on that one). Planning a trip to San Diego.

Funniest moment(s) in 2012? Laughing while our doctor friend was doing an ultrasound. Now every time I laugh I picture what happens to the baby and that makes me laugh harder.

The day we found out we were having a girl. You can't tell,
but we were totally in shock and still absorbing the news.
2013 will bring the first Bentley grandgirl!

May 2013 bring you much joy, peace and happiness.
Go make your dreams come true!