My two oldest kids are 6 and 4, but being that my four year old potty trained himself (no joke), I feel REALLY out of touch with the latest potty training methods. Frankly, I’ve been so busy just trying to keep my youngest from meltdowns that potty training hasn’t even crossed my mind. By now, I can change a diaper in three seconds with my eyes closed, so it hasn’t really bothered me. It’s a much bigger hassle trying to squeeze three kids AND a full cart into a tiny stall in the middle of Marshalls because someone “HAS TO GO NOOOOOOOWW”.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned after being a wife and mother for a certain period of time, it’s that I don’t know that much about what it means to love. It seems simple enough when you first think of it….but am I the only one who feels like loving well can actually get really complicated in certain situations???

I mean, if you had to describe what love was, how would you explain it? Many couples have a reading of I Corinthians 13 at their wedding – I did! But I can’t tell you I had any real idea of what it meant at that time. Or how to apply it! It states that, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”.

That’s a lofty list!

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Wow, I don’t even recognize my own website – it’s been a while! Where on EARTH does the time go?!?! I had to spend some time getting aquainted with my own writings – I couldn’t even remember where I had left off. So I guess this post will read sort of like a weird Christmas letter…a re-cap of the past year, if you will.

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Motherhood is a journey full of unexpected surprises. I know by now most of us have discovered that it’s much harder than we thought. I know most of us have also discovered that it’s more wonderful than we could have ever dreamed. But to say it’s full of ups and downs is an understatement. Like a roller coaster full of twists and turns, there are uphill battles that can seem to stretch on forever, and swooping let-downs. There are seasons full of joy and seasons full of heartache. Motherhood is unpredictable.

But what would you do if, just a few short years into your motherhood journey, you were given one of the most devastating surprises that a mother could possibly expect to receive? Your 3 year old son has been experiencing some developmental delays…and when doctors begin to investigate, the final diagnosis is this: he has a terminal illness – a genetic disorder passed onto him by a recessive gene that you and your husband both carry. It’s rare, but not rare enough to bypass YOUR family. He will continue to delay developmentally AND physically…and there is no cure.

And then, when things can’t get much worse, you look to your newborn little girl and wonder if her fate will be the same. There is only a 25% chance that she too will have this disease. Surely the odds will be in your favor that at least one of your children will be healthy….

The news comes back. This is a lottery you did not wish to win….but you beat the odds this time. Not only do you have to endure watching one of your children suffer with this disease…but BOTH of them.

This is exactly what happened to my friend, Stefanie Boyce. Not that long ago, the hypothetical story I just delivered to you was her reality. And the future of her children changed forever. Before the diagnosis, she was a “typical” mom just like me and you. She had the same dreams for her children that we all do…and in one doctor’s visit, it all changed.

I could go on telling you their story, but this video does it so much better than I could. Will you please stop just  a moment and get to know my friends? After you watch this video, please scroll down so I can continue to share my thouhts with you.

I want you to know their story because, surprisingly it’s one of the most inspiring stories you may ever hear. There is so much hope hiding in the midst of this tragic tale. Stefanie and Justin have chosen not to simply “survive” their circumstances but to THRIVE in them. A choice I don’t know I could make if I were in their shoes.

But so far that’s exactly what they have been doing. And I want to help them.

They are working to raise money to build a home that will better accommodate their children’s growing needs. Many of their friends, including myself, have committed to raising 1,000 dollars by next year to contribute to their efforts to raise the money.

In order to raise MY part of the funds, I have chosen to do something a little “radical”…I will be taking a leap of faith and, together with several friends, will be jumping out of an airplane on July 23, 2011 to raise money and awareness. A part of me is terrified (I have the most ridiculous fear of heights)…but when it comes down to it, it’s the least I can do.

So what would YOU do if you found out that your dreams for motherhood were going to be different than you thought? Thankfully, most of us will never have to experience the pain of that question.

But what would you do if you knew someone who does? Would you help?

I have been praying for your hearts to feel tender towards my friends. I know God will put the right people in place to help in their efforts. So I thank you in advance for those of you who I know are going to give generously.  I am hoping that this story will inspire you all…I would love for you to be a part of something so special and to be blessed the way I have. We hear stories like this all the time and can feel so helpless…but you really can make a difference. And there is no greater feeling than knowing you’re helping another person.

 If you wish to donate, you may do so  HERE.  I have 150 or so facebook followers of this blog. If everyone would just give 10 dollars, I would make MORE than my 1,000 dollar goal. No contribution is too small!

 If you’d like to know a little more about the campaign to raise money for this family, check out the video below or visit www.buildwiththeboyces.com. And please, spread the news around to your friends!

 THANK YOU!

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So I started to draft up this post to pay homage to one of my favorite subjects on this site…several weeks ago. Then I got sidetracked as always. It’s been WAAAY too long since I’ve done a Fun Photo Friday…so why wait one more day? Since it’s been a while, there are a few. A nice recap of the past few months :)

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Ok so here’s the deal. I have been on a crazy journey since my last post…I had referenced that I’m learning a “New Thing” and have been busy processing, praying, and putting it all together this past month or so. I almost don’t even know where to begin. And for your sakes, I’m trying to keep this post at a reasonable length so I’m going to do my best to summarize here :)

So here’s the re-cap: These last couple of “temper tantrums” were sort of the apex of what I’ve been feeling throughout my entire motherhood journey. Though motherhood has brought some great blessing, for a long time I have still felt “incomplete”. My post on The Joy of Motherhood Part 2 sort of summarized the place I landed after reading that book “Crazy Love”. Finally I felt like I was beginning to see a good REASON for why I felt what I did. I felt like I was missing something because I was. This missing piece was basically this: My primary calling as a Christian is to love God…and to love others as myself. I realized I was failing GREATLY in these two areas. That book awakened something in me that began to “scratch the itch”…

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So I’ve been praying and thinking and thinking and praying…

It’s funny how, with a little time, a little prayer…and a LOT of hope and faith, things can become so much more clear. And how what once felt like total ambiguity and shades of gray can suddenly burst into rainbows of color. And how problematic obstacles can actually end up becoming just a new door to walk through…or a beautiful introduction to a new chapter of the same book. I can’t wait to continue the conversation I started in the past couple of posts, BUT that will be at another time. For now, I want to take a detour.

Because I have been learning some really great things…YET I have this annoying thing I do every time I learn something new – I often forget about what it took to get me there. I’ll have this new epiphany or get a new way to look at something and then suddenly I’ll completely negate my life prior to that point…as if nothing before this new moment really mattered. In a way, I completley dishonor the process that it took to get there.  

I rarely go back and read posts that I’ve written on this site. But I spent some time doing that tonight…and I got an interesting snapshot of my motherhood journey. I saw myself through the writings on this blog…and I was reminded what a beautiful journey it has really been. It has been TOUGH, but I like that I was able to laugh through it much of the time. Life needs to be laughed at…often.

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My friend Christy just posted this. What a beautiful sentiment…too good not to share!

 The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.  He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.  He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.  For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up.” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people that break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are REal you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I have friends how are going through very difficult times.  Painful.  It’s like their hearts are being stripped down to the most vulnerable places.  But this is what I can say…I see them becoming more REAL than so many others.  I wish that becoming REAL could take less suffering.  But then I”m reading about Christ’s suffering for us in becoming REAL for us.  My heart aches for each of you and I’m praying this for you today, Be bound to Christ for this day and always. Bask in His deep, deep love for you. You are my heros as I see Christ reflected in you. 

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First of all, THANK YOU for all of the awesome responses I got in regards to my last post. I was so encouraged by those of you who were kind enough to take time to say “me too”. It makes me feel so much better just to know that I’m not completely alone in some of these feelings. For those of you who didn’t message me, maybe it’s because you’re sitting in your living room judging me…and that’s OK too :)

Anyway, I’ve had more time to think on some of these things the past couple of weeks…and, thanks to my very concerned Dad, was challenged to clarify exactly what this rant was all about. In talking with him… and my dear husband…and my mom…and my other dear friends…and anyone else who will listen…I have a TINY bit more clarity. TINY bit. I’m still putting pieces of the puzzle together and I’m sure I have a long way to go.

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OK. So up front I am going to ask many of you for forgiveness. I am a little afraid I’m going to offend somebody in this post, and it is CERTAINLY not my intention. Let me make it VERY clear that what follows is just MY opinion and what happens to be true for me. I understand there will be plenty of mothers out there who feel very differently from me and that is OK. Please know I wish I could feel the way you do…but I don’t. BUT this whole blog started with a temper tantrum and it’s lookin’ like it’s high time for another one. :) I have no idea what I’m about to write or how it’s all going to come out, but I think it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

The cat’s name is, “I’m not enjoying motherhood”.

There. I said it.

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