30 July 2013

Filling the empty picture frame with ME

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and He heard my cry." (Psalm 40:1)

Everybody wants to know who they are and what their purpose is in life. As a believer, one can go to God and simply ask: 'Who am I, Lord?'  Sometimes, we get a quick answer, and sometimes it takes years. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear, and sometimes it's a surprise. But God always answers, we just need to listen.

Patience is rare these days, and I am not always good at exercising it myself. Going through this transformation, I have gotten impatient, frustrated, and even close to giving up. My endurance and hope have paid of - I can tangibly feel that I had a major break-through, and God answered some of my prayers. Hallelujah.

In the last couple of weeks, I have gotten quite a few revelations about myself, in trying to figure out and accept who I am, trying to love myself, and working on reprogramming my 'software'. It's hard work, to get rid of old habits and start new ones - but it's worth it. And it is quite satisfying to get an affirmation from the Almighty about the good things in me.

Some people might be scared by the thought that God knows everything about them (after all, He created each and every one of us), but I am not. I find comfort in Isaiah 49:15-16 "I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." That is personal. God knows who I am, what my struggles are, my hurts, and joys. He knows my weaknesses and my strengths. He can help me turn those weak spots into virtues that will make me more Christ-like.

Our pastor started a new series the other Sunday with this: every story has the same components: a great opening line, some event, someone evil, a journey, and, of course, a hero. That made me think about my own life and how I ought to look at it. My life has a great opening line: 'I was born'. There have been many days in my past when I wished I was never born. Life seemed too hard to manage. That was before the hero of my story came into my life: my Lord and Savior. So who or rather what is the evil? It's my past! The past that I need to overcome! And it's satan that still tries to nag on my conscience in trying to put me down, because he is so scared that I might succeed in never being able to be tempted by him ever again.

So who am I?

I am a very passionate person. When I love, I love with ALL my heart. I do act upon my feelings, which makes me do stupid things, or daring things. I can act impulsive and emotionally. But I am never lacking passion. Love is like a deep wound, and if I get hurt - it takes me a long time to get over it. Yet I find comfort in knowing that I gave my very best, my all, my entire Me, with love - I didn't do it halfway. I don't want to have the attitude that people are replaceable. They are - we all know that - but going through life like that seems rather uncaring for the people around me. I love.

I LOVE God with all my heart and soul and mind. He is my heavenly Father and I am honored to be called His child. I love my husband and I know that we are meant for each other. Sometimes when I think that we don't fit together, I just look at him and I don't care what my brain tells me, I know what my heart says: that I love him. I love my kids, and would lay down my life for them. I want the very best for them.

God also showed me that I am the best mother I can be. My days are tiring and exhausting sometimes, and there are a few moments when I wish I could just be by myself and didn't have to act upon each and every request my children ask of me. But then I remember that this will only last for a short while - one day they will need me less, and that is okay then. For now, we spend pretty much every waking hour together as a family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Being a survivor, I am constantly reminded that my kids might only get to be with me for a short time. I would want to be remembered as the loving, involving, and caring mother that I think I am.

God has assured me on multiple occasions that homeschooling is the best for us. He has said so before I even started it, and has confirmed it since. And He has brought the Hubby on my side as well. We are now one team pulling together and making decisions together, teaching together, and raising our children to be the best they can be. It is so much fun and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

For anybody that knows me, knows that I am a very truthful person. I can't lie - I turn red and show all the physical signs of lying. I am just 'what you see is what you get'. Trying to appear as something that I am not seems way too much work for me anyways. I have many mistakes but I am standing up for them. And I am willing to change, to constantly work on myself to be more Christ-like. I am a constant construction site, or a piece of art that only will be finished when I enter through heaven's gates.

Our church did a series on the 'suitcases' that we all carry around with us, in form of unforgiveness or pride or hurt from rejections, abuse, failures, mistakes in the past, etc.... God's message was that we need to get rid of that 'carry-on' in order to move on. It was perfect timing for my transformation, especially the last sermon when the pastor even quoted from the book that started all of it. But I also learned that I have a problem..... it's forgiveness or rather my inability to forgive. Ouch!!! That was hard to digest. Me? Could it be? After much soul searching, I had to agree. Past hurts are still there and I need to learn how to forgive for MY own sake. So my new challenge is just that!

Recently, I had a big breakthrough while on the phone with my mom. It started out as one of those phone calls that I couldn't avoid because she is the kids' grandmother, so I chatted away about them and other not-so-important things. Then it started again.... those good-meant advises that I am so unwilling to hear, especially as they are only in her interest and not in mine or the kids. They are also self-centered and guilt-driven. I was about to get all defensive again, when God put His hand - literally - over my mouth, and said to me to be gentle and show her His true love. It worked! I was trying to be the better person, showing her mercy and grace. At the end, I could hang up the phone with a smile, not with a grudge. God is awesome.

And if you didn't realize that yet, I am also weird - or should I call it peculiar!? God taught me to love myself as an 'outsider'. As a matter of fact, I have come to love Me as ab-normal. I want to stand out with stuff that not everybody does. I love that my kids are homeschooled and do not fall into the peer pressure trap with clothes and TV shows and all that stuff that is oh-so-unimportant. They will grow up in a family where family time is the most important way to spend our days. We will teach them that being different is a good thing, not a bad label. I like that I am a little rebel and that I am not just flowing with the crowd, but rather would go against it. It makes me stronger. It teaches me to stand up for myself, when nobody else does. It brings out the person that God wants me to be, not what others expect of me. Truth be told, I rather try to impress my Savior than anybody on this earth.

So I am learning to make courageous choices, which means to do the right thing even when it is unpopular and/or unexpected. Now, instead of walking with my head between my shoulders, I think of the impact I might have on someone that needs a little pick-up. I try to remember that God put me here for a reason and that was not to hide within myself but to share my story - because my story is one full of God's mercy and grace, of His love for me and His many blessings. It's a story that I want to tell over and over because it shows that in today's world, miracles still DO happen.

Parts of my story can be read all over my blog, but foremost in the following posts:
- How we got here...
- New Hope - announcing baby #2 is on the way
- The Medical Side of a Surrogate Carrier
- the birth story of our second miracle: It's a ....
- How and why I became a Free-gan
- My Dream List, also known as To-Do-List or Bucket List
- Why we are homeschooling
- 100 reasons why I love my husband
- How I spent 9/11 and what it means to me
- Trying to figure out Who I Am
- Announcing Baby #3 is on the way
- My first Half-Marathon
- Arrival of Baby to make us a family of Five
- My post about the debate of breast milk vs. formula and being blessed
- finally the original post of how this transformation got started
- and my last post on this series: Hope and Encouragement

28 July 2013

Bittersweet End

Yesterday was a sad day, and yet I say that with a smile on my face and a warm feeling of being blessed in my heart.

At the end of my breastfeeding post, I mentioned that Munchkin was both formula- and breastmilk-fed. And today, I am happy to report that this was true for the past 13 months. We had found a permanent donor that provided milk for my baby for over a year. God was so good in sending this wonderful woman our way.

I feel so blessed that my story is a testimony of love. God's love for working things out for the good.
Because I love my children, I want the very best for them. Providing them with (in my opinion) the best nutrition that God 'invented' is important to me. And when I was unable to provide it for them, He found people to do that for me. People that love and sacrifice for others. I am so thankful for that.
Munchkin a week old drinking some breast milk
The story begins with a birth that took place way too early and a mother that had milk but couldn't give it to her baby because it was in NICU. So she pumped and saved, eventually threw it in a freezer hoping to be able to use it for her baby at a later time. It never happened and I don't know why, but someone else's breast milk was used instead, by the doctors. Which gave her the idea to save her milk for someone else.

That someone turned out to be me and Munchkin. We received the first badge of breast milk even before our baby was born. It was milk full of colostrum! Which was a blessing because we took it to the birthing center with us. We never got to use it there but eventually, Munchkin got that liquid gold.

But this first badge was suppose to be the only one, until she heard our story and felt called to keep pumping. At the end, she donated a total of over 2000 oz. - which are 15.6 gallons - of her precious milk for us. Wow, I never realized that it was that much in total. I only knew that - at times - it took over my freezer space. 

Munchkin received at least ONE bottle of her breast milk every day since. Except when we traveled - I was not gonna drive around with a cooler full of breast milk. Sometimes it was more, especially when she was sick and I felt she needed an extra immune boost to get over her sickness. Until yesterday, when that last bag was unfrozen and put in a bottle. Here she is enjoying it:
We were so blessed by this woman and her family to have supported us through this. I know it was a sacrifice on their part but she keeps assuring me that it was a blessing to her as much as it was for us.

I love when God puts people in our lives to pour His love out.