Friday, December 19, 2014

lessons from a two year old.

I watched her this morning as she climbed onto the chest to look in the mirror.

"Hi Eden" she said to her reflection. She smiled and waved . She flipped her hair and was satisfied with what she saw. She laughed and was pleased with her beauty.

I watched her and it struck me how she has not yet learned to compare herself to others around her and those she sees on social media. She does not scrunch up her nose at her reflection and the flaws she believes are there. She does not pinch and squeeze body parts wishing them to be smaller or bigger or more something or other. She does not scrutinize the reflection staring back at her.

She simply looks in the mirror and smiles.
I can learn a lot from watching her.

just call me "ma"

The other morning I was driving around running errands with Hope and Eden and we got to talking about what we want for Christmas. Hope recited her list and then turned to me with excitement and exclaimed, "I know what you want for Christmas Mommy!!"
"Oh really, What?"
"A rocking chair!" She answered. "So you can sit by the fire and sew like they did in the olden days!"

I laughed out loud. I don't even know how to sew... (although i did get a sewing machine for my birthday and am learning!) and the thought of me sitting in the rocker sewing just struck me funny!

I love Hope and her humor. 

Just call me "ma"...


Friday, December 12, 2014

laugh or break?



So I hardly ever clean the bathroom, like really clean it and give the shower and floors a good scrub. Sure wiping toothpaste off the bathroom mirror and pee off the seats is a daily occurrence and I occasionally give the toilet a swish with the wand but that's about it. So it had been a couple months since I really gave it a good cleaning. So Wednesday I scrubbed both bathrooms and did some other cleaning around the house.
And like one of the those unspoken laws of motherhood, 24 hours later two bathroom floors puked on and a kitchen floor covered in throw up. Two beds with vomit. A daddy and three kids sick. And did I mention I am also watching an extra kid? And it is almost laughable. 

I just tucked everyone in and showered off the lingering smell of vomit. I was feeling really grumpy this evening taking care of everybody and cleaning up messes and was thinking "God don't let anyone else throw up" and I turn around and Hope throws up at my feet.  Kids come running into the kitchen and all I could think of was the scene from Cheaper by the Dozen where the kid slips in throw up. It's not really funny at all. But it is so ridiculous that it is almost comical.
*******
Fast forward to this morning and I am having trouble seeing any humor in all this sickness.
 I.am.tired. 
Mark is lying in bed sick and I am running around doing the umpteenth load of laundry and being bedside nurse, a role I don't always do graciously. But in the midst of going through the motions, getting another glass of sprite, cleaning up a diaper of diarrhea and patting another back I felt God whisper " you are doing it". 
This is where the rubber meets the road. There is a call to rise to the task at hand. And even though I feel tired and a bit grumpy... I am doing better than I think

And if I can keep this perspective than half the battle is already won.

"I truly believe that one of the greatest skills a mother can have is a sense of humor. Laughter heals. A broken spirit makes things worse. There are lots of times in the life of a mother when these could easily be your two choices---laugh or break. 
You know the day that you wash all the bedding, even the comforters?
Probably causing a traffic jam of other loads that needed to go through? You know what will happen, right? Almost guaranteed puke in the middle of the night, or at least an accident, possibly a bloody nose. If you wash it, it will be the victim of some kind of catastrophe. What is this kind of thing other than funny? It is slapstick level comedy with the clean sheets playing the role of the pane of glass. Can you laugh? Or do you let it dry you out just a little bit more?"

-Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst








Tuesday, December 9, 2014

this is my story. this is my song.

This weekend we got a way with our church family for a couple days of fellowship, worship and perspective. This annual weekend is always one of the highlights of my year and this year proved no different. I love how on these weekends away God has a way of putting his finger on stuff in our lives that when we are in our everyday lives we are too close to see. But in these settings he is free to dust things off and awaken things in our hearts forgotten in the business of ordinary day to day life.
The whole theme of the weekend was about getting rid of shame and living a good story. 

We need to let go of shame in order to see clearly the story we are telling. 


Friday night as I stood in worship my heart felt free and alive. I was just Heather. Not a wife or a mom or anything else and it felt.so.good. In this season of life God is showing me more and more of who I am. At times I almost feel as if I have been under water for years and just now coming up for air and learning to swim. 
I can breathe. I feel free and alive.

I can be hard on myself and can look back and feel like I lost so much of myself in those early years of birthing babies. Marriage and motherhood are two of the greatest things that ever happened to me. But at times I have felt like I was in an identity crisis not really knowing who I am anymore because I was constatnly changing.  But God is showing me that surrender was necessary and part of the process. 

There was things I needed to let go of to become more of who I was called to be.

 Motherhood is a life changing procces that involves a lot of surrender. Surrendering our bodies, our lives and our dreams is part of the process. The surrender can be hard and painful at times and you feel as if you are lost never to be found again. But now in this season parts of my heart are slowing coming back...and I am better for the things I have walked trhough and learned along the way. 
But when I allow shame to cloud my story I am not seeing the beauty of the process and celebrating how far I have come. 

This weekend God touched deep places of my heart and pulled away a shadow of shame that has lingered over the past. It was as if I was looking back with foggy glasses and he tenderly came and wiped them off so I could see more clearly. I wept and He whispered his truth over my heart and I felt clean and whole. 

That is the Father's heart for us. 

And when I talk about shame I am not talking about huge regrets but just an overarching feeling that I often had about parts of our story. It was like a shadow. It wasn't real.  I read a quote today by Brene Brown that sums it up perfectly, "Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking." Bulls eye. I am a recovering perfectionist and have super high expecations for myself. It is learning proccess to be graceful and loving with myself.


And coming home I could start to see things differently. Almost as if I was watching a slideshow of my life. God was showing me the story we are writing and it is good. And when shame is removed the hard parts, the messy parts and parts that were unpleasant just become part of the what makes it a good story. Because all good stories have conflict and tension and some battle to overcome. 




I am celebrating how far I have come. And looking forward with expectation for the things yet to come. 
I am filled with a thankful heart for the journey we are on and the story we are telling.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

love grows best...

I have written about how marriage is sanctifying. And I have found this this to be true.

But even more so in my life, mothering has been sanctifying or revealing or frustrating however you want to word it. Mothering has a way of showing your true colors...some prettier than others.



There are seasons of mothering just as there is summer, winter, spring and fall. Summer break and winter always seem to be hard mothering seasons for me. Summer because everyone is getting reacquainted with each other after the school year and winter because we are all cooped up in the house together.

With the first cold week of winter blowing its cool air this week I have started to feel that familiar claustrophobic feeling of the walls closing in. We have spent more time indoors and our small house just started feeling even smaller. I was recognizing this week my need to get perspective now since winter hasn't even officially began yet. I mean we haven't even had a snow day...



One of the challenges is not just dealing with the kids and their squabbles but my own issues that arise in the process! They are fighting and yelling and I am ball of stress and it feels like we are all just one big hot mess. Today was a perfect example. It wasn't even nine in the morning on a Saturday and I had already broke up five fights and blew my top several times. I could feel the stress creeping in...
I muttered to myself  "why does someone who hates conflict have to spend their whole day doing conflict resolution?". And I am not even a morning person! It just doesn't seem right.

But mothering is sanctifying and God knows my weaknesses and buttons and stress points and still gave me these five with their unique strong personalities because He thought I was capable for the job. And if there is an area that needs a little work He is going to use these little people to work it out in me. Some days it feels exhausting and defeating. And other days I can see the beauty and the work in progress. Today was the former but I am straining to see the latter.


I am recognizing as they get older how much I need to let go of control.
 Give boundaries...and freedom. 
Let them make choices. 

Love, love, love.




And I know we are making progress. 
Some days it feels like baby steps.
 But right now I am choosing to receive grace, hold tight to God and cling to His perspective because I know there is a much bigger picture than what I can currently see. 

Give me eyes to see


Love grows best in little houses, 
with fewer walls to separate.
Where you eat and sleep so close together
you can't help but communicate.
And if we had more room between us,
think of all we'd miss.
Love grows best in houses just like this.






Friday, October 31, 2014

the next chapters.

The End.


Just kidding.

Thirty one days is over but really our story is just beginning in some ways. There is still so much more to unfold. Some days I can get discouraged about dreams on our hearts that are still sitting there. But was reminded again about how God loves a good story. It is exciting to see what chapters are still being written.



I am glad to walk through this life with this man. My husband, my adventure partner, my dreamer, my encourager... my best friend.



I leave you with lyrics from a cheesy country song. What I love is the last line...living our love song. I pray we could continue to chase our dreams and our love's still growing strong till we are old and gray.


So many things have come
So many things have gone
One thing that's stayed the same
Is our love's still growing strong

Baby just look at us
All this time and we're still in love
Something like this just don't exisit
Between a backwoods boy and a fairy tale princess

People said it would never work out
But living our dreams has shattered all doubts
It feels good to prove them wrong
Just living our love song.

~Jason Michael Carroll


Thursday, October 30, 2014

the island.


We moved to New Bern knowing no one but our realtor. (Mark's brother and his family and a couple other families would eventually follow). It was a crazy step of faith. But it was also an exciting adventure.
My biggest concern with moving there was that Mark find a job. Moving down there we thought there was a possible job but things didn't pan out exactly as we hoped. There was a three month period were Mark was job hunting. It was stressful at times but looking back also a gift to for our family to spend a lot of time together.
One day when we were both feeling a bit discouraged and wondering what we were doing in life we decided to go to a local BBQ joint. We really didnt' have money to be spending to go out to eat but it felt like we all needed to get out of the house. It was late afternoon and we all got our BBQ sandwiches, fried chicken, sweet tea and hush puppies and sat down in a booth. This was real Southern cooking at its finest. As we were eating we noticed two African American women sitting at the table next to us smiling and looking our direction.
We started a conversation with them about the children and then about how we had just moved here. The one woman looked at Mark and said,
 "We have been sitting here since 1:30 and The Lord wouldn't let me leave. And now I know why. I am supposed to tell you, you are right where you are supposed to be. "

We lived in New Bern for six months and then moved 45 minutes away to Emerald Isle which is on a barrier island at the tip of the Southern Outer Banks. We lived 3/4 of a mile from the beach and right off of the sound. Mark found a job working as a manger at a restaurant called RuckerJohn's.

It was not all glamorous but looking back it was a very sweet season of life. 
It was a sabbatical. It was time of restoration and healing. It was a time to establish who we were as a family. Sometimes you don't know why you are doing something until after you have done it. Hindsight is always twenty twenty as the saying goes.
And looking back it really was a pivotal time for us a family and for our marriage. We really grew closer as a couple and spent a lot of family time together riding bikes, playing on the beach, and going for hikes. Also a perk of working at the restaurant was we got to eat there for free once a week which was always a highlight of our weeks.
I often think that everyone should experience a season like that in their marriage where they are away from family and friends and home because it really does push you closer to one another and gives you a different viewpoint.










Emerald Isle will always hold a sweet spot in our hearts for the year we spent there. Some days it kind of feels like a dream. But it was real and I am thankful we followed God on the adventure.
After  a year of living there we felt God drawing our hearts back home. We felt torn because we really loved North Carolina ( i mean you can't beat the weather and the landscape) but felt like He had something for us back in Lancaster. The adventure of following God would continue.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

will you go with this man, again.


The morning after we had heard the words "North Carolina" during our prayer time, Mark had a breakfast meeting with one of his coaching clients. While at the restaurant Mark felt like God gave him a word for a couple sitting a few booths over so he went over to talk to them. They ended up being from North Carolina. They were from Greenville, North Carolina to be exact. After talking with them Mark looked at the map of North Carolina and began to do research on a little town near Greenville named New Bern and how it was settled by the Swiss and the history intrigued him.  The Buckwalter's had come from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in the early 1700's and we had been to Switzerland several times.  He knew there were very few towns on the East Coast that had been founded by Swiss settlers.   The more he read the more he felt drawn to go visit.

The following weekend we made a trip down to visit. We invited Mark's twin brother Matt and his family along as well as another family to come with us. It was a crazy adventure and we really were not sure what the heck we were doing. We went to visit with the idea of checking out if this was some place we were supposed to move to.
I was struggling with this whole crazy idea even though I had felt like God was saying something about North Carolina. It all seemed a bit out there but I agreed to go along, after all it was not like we were really going to move there. We drove eight hours through the night in a caravan and the closer we got the more we both started to panic a little. We were in the middle of Eastern North Carolina with nothing but fields and ramshackle houses and businesses with names like "Big Truck Tires" and "East Carolina Coon Hunters Association" we thought "what are we doing?"  "Have we just lead 17 people on a wild goose chase?"
A few minutes later our outlook would change.

We pulled into New Bern a beautiful little town surrounded by the Nuese and the Trent Rivers as the sun came up. We both began to feel in our spirits that maybe there was really something to this whole journey.
But it was still a struggle. Mark tends to get the vision and see where we are going. Sometimes it takes me longer. When I was on the land there I felt some excitement but still the idea of packing up our family of five and moving where we knew absolutely no one away from our family and friends seemed completely terrifying. Then there was a matter of finding a job and a house.  It felt overwhelming!

We visited New Bern in the middle of April. After two more trips back and forth and lots of praying and late nights talking it out we decided to make the move. I was starting to feel more peace that this was the right decision.
But it was still a time of wrestling with the Lord for me. There was a lot of tension with our families about the decision and it felt like I was being pulled in lots of directions. But when it came down to it I felt like a part of us moving had to do with me trusting Mark to lead our family and again saying to the Lord,
"yes I will go with this man".













Tuesday, October 28, 2014

we weren't crazy

After 8 short months of dating we said "I do" on a September afternoon in a grassy meadow on my parent's farm. By the time September 14th came we were ready to spend the rest of our lives together. We had been on a roller coaster over the impending months and had been tested in our love and commitment to one another. Through the trials and the issues that surfaced we grew stronger in our love.


Our wedding was a beautiful day followed by an almost two week honeymoon where we toured the east coast going from the Poconos to Niagara Falls to Connecticut, Boston and eventually Vermont.
When we came back from our travels we settled down in the small little house on my parent's farm. But our hearts were for the city of Lancaster and for community. After six months we moved into an apartment in the city and began living in intentional community, discipling and ministering to young people. We loved it and felt like we were living out our calling and destiny.  We have lots of good memories from those first two years in our little apartment on Lime Street with many small group gatherings, late night discussions on our couches and shared meals together.
 Our lives were full and continued to move fast. We bought our first house. We had three children three and under. We helped build a House of Prayer. We started a consulting business that ministered to Christian business owners.
The days were long and intense sometimes. Mark was away from home a lot. I was a stay at home mom with three littles. We were living on a very limited income which at times was a struggle for us and our marriage.  But in the midst of some struggle it was also a beautiful time of building relationships, receiving generosity, growing our family and learning a lot in a very short time.

Then came 2006 and 2007. Mark's coaching business was struggling. We hit some unexpected things in ministry. Our finances were lacking. There were some strained relationships. And we felt like everything in our lives was being uprooted. We were not sure what God was up to or which end was up anymore. Both Mark and I took turns being depressed and trying to pull each other out. It was a hard season of life.
One night after we tucked the kids into bed we sat in the living room praying together. We were asking God for clarity for our lives.  Mark began to ask God if we were supposed to move away from Pennsylvania. As we prayed I heard in my spirit "North Carolina". "Thats' weird" I thought, "I have no desire to move away from family and friends. I am not sharing that with Mark." 
A few moments later Mark asked me what I was thinking about and I eventually broke down and shared. He confided that he too had heard the exact same thing.
We talked and dreamed about it for about 15 minutes, then flushed it.
It was too crazy to be God...

Monday, October 27, 2014

the struggle is part of the story

Okay so the whole 31 days of writing every day thing is not going so well. I started out strong but am kind of flailing here at the end. 
Truth is last week I wrote a few posts and a couple in my head but did not publish them. I kind of hit a wall in our story. Sometimes it is hard to write it all out. It is taking the time to sort through the emotions, facts and memories. And sometimes in writing the story I start to relive those tense moments all over again and it is hard to figure out how to put them into words.
Last week I got tired. I also kind of started to feel like "who cares" about the story. Is any one even reading this? What's the point?
But after a few days of not writing. I am remembering what the point is. 
It is our story
 And sometimes the struggle is part of the story. I want to keep writing even if it is just for our children to know the story of their parents. 
And I think a lot of it is for me. In writing our story I remember where we came from, who we are and where we are going.


So I will keep on writing...