HELP WANTED!

I know, I know. It’s a bit dramatic. But click bait and all, you know?

I have been a mother now for 24 months. That’s right over 2 years. Now, most of you are probably saying, “SHELBY, you need some sleep! Your girl is only 15 months old” and you are right. But let’s not forget I carried that little peanut around for 9 months.
I remember while I was pregnant people would constantly tell me – you are going to be a great mom! And while the sentiment was VERY sweet it started to freak me out – this isn’t motherhood yet? I’ve changed my lifestyle, I’ve changed my diet, my sleep schedule has changed, etc, etc and this still is NOT motherhood??? Quickly after I decided that all of those sweet, amazingly kind people who were telling me what a great mom I WOULD be were wrong. Not about how great I was at being a mom but about the fact that I wasn’t one yet.

Hence, I have been a mother for 24 months now. Anyways, now that we are off that bunny trail…I have been doing this whole mom thing now for over 2 years. I remember during the time that Aaron and I were praying for a child thinking that I would be sooooo great at being a mom. I had been a youth leader for 10+ years and then a youth pastor for 2+ years and I had gotten a lot of practice loving kids. If there was a report card for moms I knew that my scores would be A+s. And then Gemma was born…

Let’s be honest, recovery after a baby is never fun. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it all but I will tell you that the pain I experienced after I pushed my 5lb 1oz baby out of my body was INCREDIBLE and UNBELIEVABLE and I was not prepared for it.
In my fantasies I saw myself waking up to the cry of my newborn at 3AM and running to her side with excitement, I would feed her and smell her and never take a moment for granted. In reality, I woke up to the unbelievably shrill sound of my newborn crying after having just fallen asleep 1 hour ago. I would feed her and most likely fall asleep which would lead to accidentally headbutting her (this actually happened). I wasn’t cherishing every moment, in fact, I was wishing the moments away – hoping that she would eat quickly so I could go back to sleep.
Honestly, those first 3 months were a deep, dark hole for me. I was tired all the time, I couldn’t ever leave the house, I was sore like never before, and I was picking fights with Aaron all the time (you know, being tired makes you do crazy things).

I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t be like my friends and Instagram icons?? Why didn’t I love waking up with my daughter at 3AM? Why was I still feeling like a bus had run over me and having a hard time moving around? Why wasn’t I satisfied with being home with my daughter 24/7 and never seeing the light of day? Why was my belly not flat and toned again? Why was my house always messy? Why didn’t I always have dinner on the table at 5PM? WHY DID I SUCK AT BEING A MOM???

This was the constant chatter in my brain for the first 3-6 months. And then…she started sleeping through the night and I was convinced that EVERYTHING WOULD BE BETTER and easier. I had already started planning our matching outfits for our cute Instaphotos and I had a menu of meals planned out for the week. I even had ideas for games you could play to help your child’s development. I was going to rock THIS thing. I would finally measure up to all of my friends and Instagram icons.

But, but, but then she stopped napping as often which meant she was up more – and, and, and all I wanted to do was take a moment for myself. Maybe watch a show on Netflix or paint my nails BUT she wanted me…no she needed me! Shouldn’t I LOVE the fact that my daughter needed me? Shouldn’t I want to be absorbed by my daughter all day, every day? Shouldn’t I be happy that I never had a moment to Netflix and chill?
All my friends and Instagram icons loved serving the needs of their child every moment. All of them loved having messy mom buns and yoga pants on all day. All of them were the perfect moms to their children and I just wasn’t. The saddest part of it all was that I didn’t feel like I could open up to anyone about how I was feeling because any time I spoke my mind, somebody was eager to give me advice on what I should do to fix myself. Advice is great – unless all you need is to VENT. And I just needed to vent.

Honestly, I found myself in a dark place. In fact, my sweet husband gently asked me one day – do you think you could have the baby blues? Maybe I did. I don’t know, but I just felt like God had accidentally given me Gemma. Horrible truth talk, I even said to myself – I miscarried before, maybe it’s because God realized that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. If I told you all of the thoughts that plagued my mind…you would be horrified.

Motherhood is a battle – not a battle with your children (well, I guess sometimes it is). It’s a battle in your mind. If you look for it, you will be able to find evidence every day that you are not the right mom for your child. That you are not the right wife for your husband. That you are not the right employee for your job. That somebody else could do your job better than you. This has been my struggle for 24 months. I wanted to hang a sign on my daughter that said HELP WANTED! I had looked for evidence that I was sucking at my job and I found it.

But  then I started thinking – if I can find evidence that I am a bad mom, I should be able to find evidence that I am a good mom….(my brain was screaming – or maybe not because I suck so much) So, I decided that every day I would find ONE THING that I have done well. Just one thing…because honestly there might only be one thing. Yesterday I sucked snot out of my daughter’s nose twice – she was screaming and crying crocodile tears BUT, BUT, BUT I AM AWESOME! I made sure my daughter could breathe yesterday!!! I have lost this battle in my mind by dissecting my day with my daughter, forgetting all of the good moments, and shining a spotlight on all the disappointing ones. The way I can win this battle is by doing the opposite. So, I challenge you today…fight this battle with me!!! Stop shining a spotlight on your bad moments.

Today my daughter is ALIVE! Just that simple fact means I ROCK!! Also, she is drop dead gorgeous so go me on having awesome GENES! Yay…2 pieces of evidence to prove I am thebomb.com.

Parenthood is arguably the most important job in this world so why wouldn’t we expect the enemy to attack us – to trick us into becoming lesser versions of ourselves? Our children are important and they matter. My daughter is going to change the world one day – just like your child will. Why wouldn’t I expect a grueling battle? But the good news is somebody already believed in us. He believed that we were just what our child needed. And His opinion is the only one that matters.

The other day the cheesiest thing popped into my mind – People say that children don’t come with manuals but I don’t need one because I know the Creator.

We’ve got this!

Our Birth Story

 

Our little G is a little over 3 months old and I am FINALLY posting our birth story. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE telling this story – I always feel so empowered remembering labor and delivery. I still can’t believe I did it!!

GIRL POWER to the 5,000,000th degree!!

To get the full story we have to start a week before G was born! So here we go!

I remember around this time noticing I was a weeeeee bit puffier than usual…let’s put it this way – even my Crocs wouldn’t fit my tootsies. My best friend had a baby about a year ago and had some issues with pre-eclampsia so when I noticed the crazy swelling I was a bit nervous that pre-e was in the cards for me. BUT I had no other symptoms and so I just continued my life like normal – I was about 37 weeks pregnant. On Monday, August 17th, I was headed to staff meeting and, while I was  walking, my peripheral vision started to vanish and my vision became super blurry (RED FLAG). I was immediately concerned because…hey that’s another sign of pre-e…ruh roh. So, I called my doctors and of course they said – COME ON DOWN AND LET US CHECK YOU OUT.

My doctor checked me out and my blood pressure was slightly high but not high enough to be a real problem. Sooo, my doctor sent me home and told me to make sure I was monitoring my blood pressure and taking it easy. As I was monitoring my blood pressure that week I noticed it was alarmingly high multiple times and long story short I was in out of the hospital 4 TIMES that week. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. All of these times I had high blood pressure when I was at my OBGYN’s office but when they would send to the hospital it would drop and I would be sent home. Needless to say, I had many emotional breakdowns this week – every time I left the hospital without my baby I LOST IT! On my Sunday visit to the hospital my doctor decided that I would need to do a 24 hour urine sample (probably TMI but…you are reading my birth story) and since I had an already scheduled appointment on Monday I could just bring it back in.

I peed in my little device for 24 hours…and let me just say my cup runneth over, if you catch my drift. And when I went in for my Monday appointment my doctor once again noticed my blood pressure was high soooo she sent me to the hospital. They tested my urine and noticed that the protein levels in it were off the charts and what they thought was just gestational hypertension  was actually the dreaded PRE-E!!! NOOOOOO….so they decided to induce me! YAY/OMG I am still 2 weeks from being prepared for this…but it was happening so I had to get ready REAL FAST! I called Aaron and told him what was going on and my mom decided to go get me MY LAST MEAL (only being able to consume ice chips STINKS!!!!). I remember sitting alone in that hospital room and listening to You Make Me Brave, thanking God for being with me in that hospital room. The most incredible peace enveloped me and carried me through the entire experience.

They didn’t immediately start me on Pitocin. They gave me something that was supposed to thin my cervix around 8PM and told me they would check me in 12 hours. If nothing had changed we would have to start the process over again. I had determined that I NEEDED to labor and deliver unmedicated (meaning no epidural). After they gave me the medicine I began having what I thought were contractions all night long and around 4AM I couldn’t handle being awake any longer and called the nurse in to find out if I could get any medicine to help with the pain. I am not sure what she gave me but I remember saying to her, “How long will this take to…” and before I could say kick in I fell right to sleep! That was the best sleep of my life!!!

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At 8AM the nurse came in, checked me and told me there was NO PROGRESS! I was immediately discouraged but she told me the doctor would be in in about an hour and would discuss what would happen next with me. Aaron decided to go get breakfast for him and my mom when the doctor came and checked me. BUT this time he said I was 2 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced and it was time to start Pitocin. Before that though, he broke my water….which was so weird btw. Almost immdiately I decided I was never again going to be without medication while trying to push a human being out of my body! So I said GET ME AN EPIDURAL!!!!

My anesthesiologist was a gem (punny) and all seemed to be going well after he you know…did the thing. But QUICKLY after he left the room I realized, OMG I am feeling everything on my right side. IS THIS REAL LIFE???? The epidural was only affecting the left side of my body and these contractions were SERIOUS! The nurses tried turning on my right side…medicine follows gravity, they said. LIES!!! My medicine had a mind of its own and even after the anesthesiologist came back and adjusted the needle I still could feel everything on my right side. My left side was so numb that at one point I freaked out and looked at my best friend and cried…IS THIS MY LEG??? I CAN’T FEEL IT!! IS THIS IT??? She assured me that thing I was touching was my leg and…we moved on.

Around 2PM the nurse finally came back to check me and to all of our surprise G was ready to come. In fact the nurse could feel her head! So, I started pushing and let me tell you…it took me 2 FREAKING HOURS to push that tiny little baby out. Woah!! Nothing is harder than pushing a human being out of your body! Finally, on August 25th at 4PM, she emerged and it was love at first sight! She was 5 lbs 1 oz, 18 inches long, and SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!!

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Gemma Birth BlogShelby and Gemma

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I cannot believe that I carried and delivered this beautiful baby! I could not have done it without my amazing support system – my mom, my mom-in-love, my BFF, and my husband…no seriously they were holding up my legs and reassuring me that I wasn’t going to die, that I was going to have a baby!

Here are some more recent pictures of my little babe! Enjoy and we’ll see you soon!

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I Have No Title For This Post…Enjoy :)

Its me again. Your favorite off again/on again blogger. It has been a while since I have blogged…a long while…and a lot has happened since we spoke last…a lot.

The most important and exciting development is…
WAIT FOR IT…
WAIT FOR IT…

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THAT’S RIGHT…WE ARE 30 WEEKS PREGNANT!!! Our baby GIRL (yay!!!) is supposed to arrive September 8, 2015. We are sooooooooooooooooooooooo unbelievably happy!!!

Unbelievable nauseau and a ridiculous stomach bug that I got NOT ONCE but TWICE (guess that’s what you get when you work with teenagers) caused me to lose 10 pounds at the beginning of my pregnancy BUT I have since gained those 10 back and added 9 more…GO US Gemmabird!! We are healthy, growing, and right on track! I can’t believe that in just 10 weeks I am going to get to hold MY DAUGHTER!

We had a sonogram of her done a while ago…a 3D sonogram and even though NOBODY agrees with me I can tell she looks so much like the love of my life (that’s my husband you guys). Everyone says its too early to tell but I have been staring at that man’s handsome face for 7 years…I know an Aaron face when I see one and my girl…she has an Aaron face. To prove my point check out the picture below.

imageimageFor those of you who have never seen Aaron w/out his glorious beard…feast your eyes on this face circa 2008! That’s right…the one shaped just like my daughter’s!
Well ok now the more I stare at her face, the more I start to doubt myself…so I guess we will just see! 

This post is mostly meaningless. In fact, I wrote it just to get the creative juices flowing again (sick…just writing that word made me want to vomit) and I think that’s ok. Not every post has to change someone’s life, not every post needs to make sense really (if you don’t believe me…then you probably haven’t been on Facebook within the last couple of days). So thank you for listening to me ramble…I promise a super insightful post soon but while you are waiting check out this blog that one of my closest friends Christine just wrote. Its an incredible, beautifully written letter to the LGBT community. Read it here.

One Tree Hill…You’ve Changed Me

How to begin….well…

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One Tree Hill (OLD SCHOOL OTH), I love you. I hate you.

I trusted you but you betrayed me.

It’s true. My husband and I started watching you 2 years ago (don’t judge; we hate bandwagons) and when we started I believed that you would enlighten me, that you would unlock the mysteries of life for Aaron and I and at first you did. You taught us not to give up on hopeless cases, that friendship is most important, and that love conquers all. AND YOU WERE RIGHT – YOU WERE SO RIGHT

But then…
Haley went on a nationwide tour with her music.
Brooke became a successful fashion designer (Clothes Over Bro’s SON).
Nathan became a professional basketball player.
Peyton started her own record label.
Mouth became a sports anchor.
Lucas wrote and published a book.

And I was happy for them…for all of them. For this group of friends who ALL somehow achieved complete success by the time they were 22. Yes they had their struggles but each of them had a specific moment that they could reflect on and say that was the moment I realized I achieved my dreams, that was the moment I realized I made my mark on this world!
But OTH here I am…a hardworking 25 year old and I haven’t had my moment yet. I have talents and abilities, I have struggles and insecurities, I have worked hard and sacrificed much and I still haven’t achieved stardom or ultimate success. People don’t know who I am. I am not famous and my name will probably never be written in history books. When I compare my life to Haley or Brooke or Nathan or Peyton or Mouth or Lucas I am a failure.

Just yesterday I was out celebrating one of my best friend’s birthday and we ran into some old friends – old friends that are doing so well! Old friends that are in a place in their careers that I wish I was in and as I was sitting at the tables trying to celebrate all I could do was compare my life with their lives — all of them Haley, Brooke, Nathan, Peyton, Mouth, Lucas, my college friends, my high school friends, my family, my coworkers…every single one of them. And to be honest, it wasn’t looking very good.
As much as I would like to lie and say that in that moment I realized that being a household name, people knowing who I am, and making a lot of money aren’t the measure of success I CAN’T!

I remember growing up people would tell me that I was destined to be a world changer ((if you have ever heard that…raise your hand…every person alive is raising their hand)) and I thought what that meant was that the world would know who I am. Like Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. or Eleanor Roosevelt.

BUT I only have 966 Facebook friends….

So today as I was over thinking like I ALWAYS DO – I started to call to mind people that have changed MY WORLD – my mother, my step-father, my grandparents, my Aunt Debbie and Uncle David, Aaron, Bonnie, Niki, Pastor Donnie…so many more, so many more people that you probably have never heard of or read about. But if they hadn’t simply existed…my life would be different. I am the person I am today because of every interaction I have had in my lifetime.
As sentimental and naive as it sounds we truly are ALL WORLD CHANGERS. Whether we realize it or not our simple interactions with each other are changing the world every day. Whether or not people know your name…whether or not people tell your story 100 years from now…whether or not you find the cure for cancer, or create your own fashion line, or play professional sports, or sing in front of 1,000,000 people YOU HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD JUST BY BEING IN IT.

The question really is…have you made this place better or worse?? Something to think about…and something you can change if you don’t like your answer. OOOOOOOOOOOOO deeeeeeeeeep.

Yes it’s true…this has been a bit “It’s A Wonderful Life”ish but that’s because IT’S TRUE…IT IS A WONDERFUL LIFE and YOU ARE A WORLD CHANGER sooooo go change the world!!!

By the way…I have been working on some hand lettering stufferola. So check out this piece I just worked on with the help of my amazing husband! It is one of my favorite quotes and it was also the gift I made for my above mentioned friend who’s birthday we celebrated.
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“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”
William Shakespeare

Hello My Name Is…

Reverend Shelby Strickland. I am a female Pastor in full time ministry and 2014 has been the hardest year of my life.

In 2014 I have:
– Received my official ministry license ((I told you call me REVEREND Shelby))
– Gotten pregnant with mine and Aaron’s first child
– Miscarried mine and Aaron’s first child
– Seen the man who made my dream of going in to full time ministry possible/mentor/father figure move on to become the Senior Pastor at a church in Georgia
– Led my first solo out of state trip with 30+ teenagers/young adults
– Preached a multitude of services and helped carry our youth group through a tough transitional time
– Cried in front of more people than I can count
– Paid more hospital bills than any one person should have to ((can I get an AMEN?!))

I promise this blog post is not meant to be a pity party for Shelby Strickland post! BUT IT HAS BEEN A HARD YEAR and I will be nothing more than pleased to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015!
Recently, I got to spend an entire afternoon with some of my best girl friends and it was one of the most encouraging and wonderful afternoons of my life ((SIDE NOTE: If you do not have good girlfriends that you can be completely candid with, I would suggest getting on that PRONTO))! We talked, laughed, and swooned over baby Maverick ((my unbelievably handsome nephew)) and then right at the pinnacle of our fun having…I debbie downed us ((yes, debbie downed is a verb)). I began crying and I mean weeping…in front of my 5 unconditionally loving and accepting best girlfriends ((yes, I am crying just thinking about how wonderful they are)). I LOST IT…and I made a statement that I had been afraid to admit for a long time…I told them “I never dreamed that life would be this hard.”

AND I MEANT IT. When I was a young girl dreaming of what my life would look like…I never imagined living in my small hometown, working at the church I grew up in, becoming the Assistant Youth Pastor at said church, living in a one bedroom apartment ((next to a seriously crazy neighbor), working to pay off massive amounts of school debt, sharing one car, miscarrying my first child, and struggling with conceiving again.
Can you imagine any person ever dreaming these things…writing these words down in a dream journal??!! NEVER, WE WOULD LOCK THAT PERSON UP IN A PSYCH WARD!!

In the movie Newsies, a.k.a. MY FAVORITE MOVIE IN THE WORLD. The newsboys have a rally to try to convince every newsboy in the state of New York to go on strike. At the end of the rally the most beautiful performer in the world comes out a sings a song that the cast joins in on, and it goes like this…
High times, hard times
Sometimes the living is sweet and sometimes there’s nothing to eat
But I always land on my feet.
So, when there’s dry times, I wait for high times and then
I put on my best and I stick out my chest and I’m off to the races again.

This is the song I sing as I trust that these hard times are just that…times. And they will pass. I never did imagine that life would be this hard because I never could have imagined that I could bear so much and grow so much.

From an early age I saw myself as a princess – you know what I am talking about. I was caught in my ivory tower, shadow kissed with tragedy yet still naive to the cruelties of the world. I needed a prince to come save me, to stand by side and walk me through all the struggles that would come my way.

As I entered college I began to see that I was a strong woman capable of great things. If I wanted to I could descend from my ivory tower and get through life all on my own. The man could just come along for the ride.

And most recently I have realized that I have been wrong this entire time. I can’t get through the struggles I face in this world on my own BUT I don’t need a man to walk me through life. God has always been my companion. He is the one walking with me through life — He is the one who makes this life more than bearable. He makes it enjoyable. He is the one who makes all the pain in my life worth it. I didn’t expect that life would be this hard — I definitely didn’t expect to have a Companion so loyal, kind, and strong in my weakness.

He is with me, changing me, strengthening me, teaching me, and making this life one crazy adventure.

I told you this wasn’t going to be a pity party post. FAREWELL ADVENTURERS…stay tuned for more.image

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When Darkness Seems to Hide His Face

In case you can’t tell I love music! But I love music mainly because of the lyrics…so technically I love words! They touch me deep inside…in places no one and no thing can ever touch. At my church we love to sing the song “Cornerstone” by Hillsong. 

This is is the anthem of my life these days and it goes like this:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly trust in Jesus’ name. 

Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong in the Savior’s love

through the storm He is Lord, Lord of all. 

When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unending grace

in every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil. 

It has been a few weeks since I miscarried and in that time I have been in this I’m ok/I’m not ok place. But to make things clear, I still trust God, I still love God — sometimes I get mad and yell and cry but He loves me and He understands that I am weak and He makes me strong. I find that although God understands my OUT OF WHACK MOOD SWINGS people don’t always and sometimes they just don’t know what to say. I find that people will either treat me like my life has ended or they treat me like nothing at all happened AND THE TRUTH IS I am neither of those — I am somewhere in between. 

Sometimes darkness hides His face; sometimes it’s easy to find and hear Him. Right now things are hard (no baby and hospital bills galore) but when things are hard I simply rest on His strength which always sustains me.

I wanted to write about this because when I first started this blog I promised that I wouldn’t just talk about the good times but I would be candid about the hard times as well. And THINGS ARE HARD….right now….they won’t be forever but they are now. He is our cornerstone and right now He is bearing a lot of the weight.

Also AARON STRICKLAND you make me brave! I love you and wouldn’t want to live this life with anyone else — p.s. Look at that sweet face…it makes me melt!!

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The “M” Word

Aaron and I had been trying for 4 months to get pregnant before that beautiful day when the 3rd (yes…third) pregnancy test read positive! We were soooooo incredibly excited and although normal protocol says to wait until the end of the first trimester to announce your pregnancy, we announced it 5 weeks in. We have such an incredible support system and family that we just couldn’t contain ourselves!!

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On Thursday, I started bleeding. I had been spotting weeks before but on Thursday I knew something was different. I could feel my body changing. Thankfully my mom and I work together and she had spent the day trying to comfort and console me BUT I knew. She brought me home and the spotting turned crimson red and my heart dropped…did I do something wrong?! Immediately my mom, Aaron and I got into the car and headed for the emergency room.

Blighted ovum and inevitable miscarriage is what they told me. They couldn’t find a heartbeat is what they told me. There was a 50/50 chance that I will miscarry completely is what they told me. You will have to wait until Monday to get some REAL answers is what they told me.

So I went home, with my rock solid, uncondtionally loving husband, and held out hope that this baby in me was alive! I spent the entire weekend believing that God would heal me completely and that I would go back to the OBGYN and they would find my baby’s heartbeat even though my body was telling me that this pregnancy was ending.

Side Note: Those of you who had been trying to contact me over the weekend and didn’t receive a response or received a short response…please forgive me…this is the reason why.

Monday morning I went back to my OBGYN and she gave me the news that what my body had been telling me (and what I believe God had been preparing me to handle for weeks) was TRUE. I had miscarried. The embryo hadn’t formed completely and there never was actually a heartbeat.

BUT.BUT.BUT.

My body had almost completely healed and this was a one time event that was not likely to repeat. I hadn’t done anything wrong and it wasn’t mine and Aaron’s fault that we miscarried.

Monday morning God had been working on my heart…that morning I couldn’t help myself from singing the lyrics to “Healer” a Hillsong song. The lyrics are so beautiful…

    I believe You’re my healer.
    I believe You are all I need.
    I believe You’re my portion.
    I believe You’re more than enough for me.

As I was singing I realized how completely contradictory these lyrics are. We believe that God is our healer but we also believe that He is our portion that He is more than enough for us. This means that even if He doesn’t heal us completely, even if bad things happen to us HE IS STILL ENOUGH. If I never have a child in this life (THE DOCTOR SAID I WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE MORE CHILDREN, THAT NOTHING IS WRONG WITH ME AND THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE FUTURE) HE IS STILL MY PORTION…HE is still enough to completely satisfy me and HE always will be. Regardless if my ultimate desires come to pass…HE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH.

The joy of the Lord and the true peace that passes all understanding filled my heart right there in the doctor’s office as she was telling me that I would not be a mother as soon as I believed. He was there with me in the room keeping me grounded, healing my heart (and my body) and assuring to me that HE is always more than enough for me.

IN CONCLUSION, we love ALL of you! You have celebrated with us and now I know you will mourn with us BUT please know that Aaron and I are ok. We are filled with God’s peace and joy and we hope and pray that you will be as well.

Trust Me. I’m an Expert.

In exactly 8 days Aaron and I will be married for 2 years and together a total of 5 years! They say that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert on anything. Well by my calculations, 43,829 hours later,  I should be an expert on all things David Aaron Strickland 4x’s over.

But. I’m not.

There are still days…

I say the wrong thing.

I do the wrong thing.

I don’t do the right thing.

What am I trying to get at? There is not one woman on this earth that can claim to be an expert wife and why is this?

Walt Whitman said it perfectly, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

We. Are. Humans. AND WE CHANGE. I am not the same person I was November of 2008 when Aaron and I started dating each other. I am certainly not the same person I was in October of 2010 when Aaron proposed to me. I am not the same person Aaron married in November of 2011. I am not even the same person I was yesterday…or 5 minutes ago…or 5 seconds ago. Every second of every day I am changing.

That is the beauty of humanity. We change all the time. Sometimes change is for the best…sometimes change  is for the worse.

This change is why couples wake up 30 years after their wedding day and realize they are sleeping with a stranger.

WHY DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER? WHY AM I WASTING MY TIME WRITING ABOUT THIS?

My motives are honestly selfish. As you get to know me, you will realize that I am I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T…do you know what I mean? I don’t want to be told what to do…I don’t even like to be given direction…I want to do things all on my own. And in case you haven’t noticed…we live in an age of experts.

An expert who can tell us what we should be eating, how we can lose weight, how we can look younger, how we can dress for our body types, how we can be the perfect Christian, how we can be the perfect wife, how we can be the perfect mother, how we can renovate a house on our own, how we can become a better version of ourselves in 48 hours. And while crafts such as tiling, roofing, painting, jewelry making, sewing, and car building can have experts……LIFE CANNOT! There is no expert on life. If someone claims the title EXPERT LIFE LIVER (not like the kind in your body)….RUN!!!! RUN WITH EVERY OUNCE OF STRENGTH YOU HAVE (which in my case is none since I believe that cardio is the Devil’s handiwork)!

You and I…we are beautiful, complex, intelligent, ever changing, ever growing AND so are our loved ones. I have been reminding myself of this lately. We can’t assume that we know everything about anyone…not even our better halves. We can’t claim to be experts on anyone person because we live in a world full of changing individuals. SO ACCEPT IT. AND STOP UNDERESTIMATING PEOPLE. Start reacquainting yourself with your best friends and family and learn to appreciate THE MULTITUDES each of contain.

My last piece of advice…stop judging those around you. The old saying is true…you have to walk in their shoes to understand what they are going through. Be a source of support rather than a source of judgment.

 

I Have Victories to Taste…

Recently I have had this nagging feeling.

That OH MY GOSH! I AM 24 YEARS OLD AND I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM “SUPPOSED TO DO” WITH MY LIFE! I thought I did…that’s why I went to college, that’s why I chose my major…but then…NO! And now….YES? I don’t know.

We are taught from an early age that what we do in the future is most important. They encourage us to start dreaming in elementary school and by high school we better have it figured out. We can’t vote or drink or rent a car but we better know what career we want to pursue for the rest of our lives. UGH. No soap box I promise…kind of. Well by the end of high school…I had it figured out! I had that career thing on LOCK DOWN! And then I got to college, and then I did my internship…and then I WIGGED OUT and thought, NO NO NO I don’t want to do this but I couldn’t change my major! And I have been in the perpetual state of not knowing what career I want to pursue since then.

To sum it up…I don’t know what I want TO DO but

but

but

but

I know who I want TO BE.

And I think that is most important. Who cares if I practice law or medicine or if I bag groceries at Publix? That isn’t WHO I AM that is WHAT I DO!

I was listening to Dashboard Confessional (SIDE NOTE: I am pretty sure I ONLY listened to Dashboard Confessional in high school — I was way more EMO than I thought) in the car this morning and this old song “Reason  to Believe” came on. One of the lines in the song says this:

“I have reason to believe that I have victories to taste
I can feel them on my teeth, upon my lips and in my chest
I can roll them on my tongue, they are more supple than defeat”

I LOVE THOSE LINES! It was a sign for me…a sign that good things are coming my way! And they don’t necessarily involve career changes…it’s more like character changes! I have victories to taste…you just wait and see!

<———————————————————>

In other news, Aaron and I went to do a little house shopping yesterday! It was very exciting and made us feel all grown up. Nothing to speak of yet but I have a feeling…VICTORIES TO TASTE REMEMBER!!!!

Aaron is terrified of sinkholes, I think he is convinced that if we bought a home in Spring Hill we would be swallowed by a big black sinkhole, which I mean could happen but Que Sera, Sera right?!

We looked at 3 homes and decided that if we could take the inside of the 3rd home put it in the outside of the 2nd home and then place on the street the 1st home was on we would be IN HEAVEN. But unfortunately house hunting isn’t like a build-your-own-bear…it’s way more lame and grown up.

AND GROW UP DAWSON!

Have I mentioned that I am LITERALLY obsessed with Dawson’s Creek? I own the entire collection and I have watched it in its entirety at least TWICE! Also, if I could choose any decade to live in ETERNALLY…it would be the 90s, I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT SO MUCH! To end this post that got super random at the end, here is a 90s meme that made me LOL…no no…ROFL….no no…LMBO…no no…all of the above. You probably won’t laugh as hard as I did because I am a little more lame than you…

90s meme

Oh my gosh I am dying over here!!

THE END.

WHAT DECADE WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN ETERNALLY?! I am dying to know!

I’m Back!

Dearest Blog,

I am sorry I have forsaken you for so long! Honestly, so much has been happening that I didn’t have time to update this thing…and even more honestly, I haven’t really felt inspired to blog.

I have been in a really odd place lately.

One that is both uncomfortable and terrifying. It’s almost as if my heart is in one place but my mind and body can’t catch up. I have so many desires, so many things I want to do but I have to wait. And that is what is so incredibly uncomfortable and terrifying especially for a control freak like me.

I WANT TO KNOW NOW! I HAVE TO KNOW NOW! I NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR WHAT’S TO COME –screams the controlling side of me! But our Lord, who is all knowing and ever patient, whispers back…Silly girl everything has always been in My control from the beginning, I am preparing you now for things to come. My timing is perfect just wait and see.

And so I trust (or at least try to)…because I know He is right and more importantly I know He is faithful.

So to update you on the past month that you have missed:

  • My Fine Arts team placed 6th in our district (they competed with over 100 teams)! They make me so proud I could squish them!
  • Aaron and I were pre-approved for a mortgage and are now house hunting HOLLA!
  • We celebrated Mother’s Day with both mothers. We took my mother-in-law to IKEA and we basically drooled the whole time over those pre-fab kitchens (GIVE ME THEM ALL).
  • My posse decided to start group working out…this girl almost died running…no LITERALLY almost died! Look!4A434AD4-EDCE-4669-B567-88103F173EF8
  • Aaron and Bindy shared a special father/daughter moment during post work out stretches!cuties
  • Finally, I mugged on my good looking man! I mean who could resist really? He is the best!boi

The End! I will try never to leave you again! We have many, many plans for this Memorial Day weekend…most importantly though is being grateful for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom! Thank you!