Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tribute to My Man.

This past weekend Matthew and I celebrated our FIVE year anniversary. For some reason, I have just really felt like five years was one of the big ones- I feel like this is a really good year to celebrate, like five is monumental! Eli was not in a smiling mood, but we figured it would just remind us of this year when being 2 1/2 is a little dramatic sometimes. :)

Marriage is wonderful and wonderfully hard. It's a very refining relationship, and each year we get better at communicating with one another and grow closer to God through our refining process. I knew I picked a good one before we got married, but when the Bible says "becoming one" I didn't really know the depth of what that meant. Now, I'm learning what that means more and more.

Right after we got married, Matthew got this job opportunity in Knoxville and we've been away from our married friends and our family for the duration of our marriage. This has been hard at times, but it's also been really good for our marriage. We have each other here. If we're mad, we give each other space, but there's no running to family or friends to complain or seek solace. We forgive and forget and kiss and make up. We do most of our parenting alone without lots of help, and we spend most of our quality and free time together. It's not always what we thought we wanted, but it has been very good for us and our marriage. Matthew is a good husband, and a much better listener than I am. He openly listens to my heart and thoughts and if need be, he will reflect on his actions and change to better our relationship. He is way more affectionate than I'll ever be, and I always feel loved by him. His personality is such a perfect balance for mine, that I really see how God thought we would be a good match for one another. I feel like no one really knows what marriage is like at the altar, and maybe that's good, b/c some might not get married. However, God knows how we will shape and mold one another and I know God put us two together. I can't wait for many many more years with my groom!

This same weekend, Matthew pretended like we were just going to go out to our favorite and usual sushi spot, Nama, which we've done every year since we've been married. We actually got in a tiff b/c he said he was taking care of everything and then didn't get a babysitter. I was busy lecturing about how I always have to plan and how I want him to be more thoughtful with his plans, and he just nodded and agreed with me while he texted on his phone. Hmmmm. My phone dinged with an email, and as I went inside to be annoyed, I saw that he sent me an email detailing a weekend itinerary of a get away with just the two of us. Insert my foot in mouth. We drove in to Franklin, dropped Eli with his grandparents, where I had to give myself a pep-talk about letting go, and then we headed down to Birmingham, AL where he had booked a historic hotel and reservations at one of the best restaurants in the southeast. We love to try new foods, and we fine dined that night- heirloom tomato salad with local goat cheese, crab claws with ginger aoli sauce, scallops, and duck! It was delicious! We woke up the next morning, walked around the five points area, had coffee and breakfast, and headed to Huntsville for a quick visit and lunch with my brother and sister-in-law. We eventually made our way back to Franklin, where Eli was busy being spoiled rotten, and we celebrated Leah's birthday and Father's Day the next morning before heading back to Knoxville. Fast weekend but full of celebrations!

When we got home that afternoon, we took some quick pics to remember that weekend and Matth's third father's day. I think my husband would be the first to admit that being a daddy didn't just come naturally as soon as Eli was born. He felt pretty useless in the beginning and unsure of what his role was with such a tiny newborn. He knew I was responsible for most of Eli's needs, and didn't really know where to step in. We had to really learn how we could both parent and what responsibilities would be good for each parent to take on. That's not to say he didn't love his son right away; he definitely did. He just wasn't confident in what his role was yet. Now though, there is a HUGE difference in the role Matth plays in Eli's life. He does bath time and bed time most every night, and loves getting out in the yard or the floor and playing with Eli. He knows how important his role is in Eli's life, and he really works hard to emulate the type of father his own father was to him. And a huge bonus, when we met, Matth only wanted 2-3 kids, and soley b/c he thinks being a daddy to Eli is so stinkin' great, he has bumped his range up to 4, maybe 5. I'm working on 6. :) There is so much more I could say about what a good husband and daddy Matth is; I am a lucky lucky girl to have such a hard workin', wife lovin', baby playin' man in my life!!

We had our own Father's Day celebration that night with daddy's choice: pizza and sweetwater. I gave him his gifts, which he really enjoyed. Two books we've been wanting to read that really focus on the role of being parents to the fatherless: Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and The Red Letters by Tom Davis. I also got him a special gift that he seemed pretty excited about. I heard this idea on Focus on the Family radio: I got him a black moleskin journal and told him the idea was to let this be a journal of letters to Eli. He could write his annual birthday letters to Eli in there, and include special days between the two of them, special verses he prays over Eli, and other quotes or thoughts he has for his son. Matth thought it would be neat to collect these journals and give them to Eli as a gift for his wedding. (I informed him that prob won't happen until Eli's 35 since he'll be living with his mama until then :))
This way, Eli will have journals of memories, letters, scripture, quotes, etc. that will be a precious keepsake for Eli when he gets older and becomes and husband and father himself. I plan to do the same and we will get journals for each of our children. I loved this idea when I heard it on the radio, and hope we keep this up for the sweet memories they will make! Hope y'all celebrated the husbands and fathers in your lives!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Great Video and Glory in the Hard Stuff

Have y'all seen this video? This couple really is showing what it means to have agape love for Christ and each other. They are performing love in action every day! What an encouragement!

And as a side note, thank you all for your messages and phone calls about my last post. I've had three close friends call to say, "Ummmm, are you okay?" :) Yes, I am!!

We really are okay, but that's not to say this isn't a hard season. I have a lot of prayers being sent to God for many different things in life right now, but that's okay! I just wanted to write that post to say that it's OKAY to have a hard season, to not have it all together, to share with one another that life is hard some times. Maybe it's being a mama, your marriage, being lonely, family relationship struggles, your work, your church, fertility, etc....we ALL will go through hard times, but that's probably when we need to be the most transparent and encourage one another!!

When I miscarried, I had SO MANY people tell me in private that they had one too, and I KNOW everyone grieves differently, but I just couldn't help but think that I would never have known if I hadn't blabbed about mine on this here little blog or in conversation. Not that I have a right to know everyone's business, but I just kept thinking, "Have you been suffering through that ALONE? With no other mama to talk to about what it feels like to lose your child?" Goodness, that just made me so sad. We are MEANT to support, encourage, and pray for one another in times of sadness AND times of joy. We are so quick to shout of the good things that God is doing FOR us, but what about telling about the good things he's doing IN us in times of real sadness and heart ache?!

I've never felt closer to God while I going through the lonely days of being a mama to a little one in a different city than family and best friends, or while grieving the loss of a child that was to be, or while wondering if MY dream of a house full of babies is really HIS dream, or while struggling with drastically changing my diet and running lots of tests to find an answer to some health problems, or while grappling with decisions my parents made that truly affected my brothers and I in our grown-up lives, or asking Him why there are almost 2 MILLION orphans in this world who don't have mamas to tuck them in, cuddle them close and feed them popsicles when they're sick like my Eli is right now, and asking God why I can't stop thinking about these sweet motherless babies. Do you have a vision of my heart and head lately?? :)

This is the GLORY in the hard stuff- God shows up! I've read that we don't see those radical miracles of the Bible anymore, like parting of the Red Sea, or the being raised from the dead, or manna from heaven, because WE have taken the need out of God. We don't really RELY on him for our basic resources; we have technology, food, houses, an ABUNDANCE of whatever we need! But y'all, we do need Him! And through all this STUFF that's in my heart above, the ONLY thing I have control over his my need for HIM! And I'm truly learning that more and more each day. Will I still desire and need God if He never gives me the babies I yearn for, or the relationships I think I need? YES, though that's an awfully hard pill for me to swallow, so I just keep praying for God to change MY heart. To break my heart for what breaks his, and to trade my dreams in for HIS. I can already tell it's working some, and it's hard to give myself up, but it's ALL worth it.

When life feels out of control, let Him drive the ship.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm not just fine; are you?

Hi friends! I've thought about this little blog many times lately and have written nothing. There is a lot of stuff swirling around this head and heart of mine, but I can't seem to get it out on paper lately.

This post is a lot like these pics of Eli trying to ride a tricycle. No matter how hard I try to figure it out, I just can't figure it out yet. But I keep on tryin'.
Friends and acquaintances always ask, "What's new?" "How's it going?" and Matth and I reply, "Not much!" The truth is: A LOT. There's a lot of talking going on over here in the Bills' household. Lots of thinking. Lots of praying. A little crying too. I think all those usually go together.

Isn't it funny how people keep stuff in? At church especially sometimes. If I just unloaded all these thoughts and mess on you for a simple "How are you?" you'd probably walk away thinking, "Goodness lady; wish I wouldn't have asked!" :)

For some reason, we tend to keep it all in. "I'm fine!" Then we walk away and feel good b/c we greeted that person for the day. I'm definitely guilty of that. What we really need to do as Christians, I think, is ask sincere questions about what's going on in our lives, give sincere responses, and not try to pretend that everything's falling in place as usual. A pride issue, maybe? I need to definitely put that pride aside and learn to be a little more transparent. I guess the truth is, I feel (and could be totally wrong) that many people just want the quick "fine" response! It's certainly easier that way than all the stuff that you could hear! Lately, I really DO want to hear how other people are doing. Are you going through some hard stuff? Maybe it's the same stuff we are! Maybe we could encourage and support one another! What a great idea God- that fellowship/community thing- you really knew what you were talking about there!

So let me say, friends, that things are not PERFECT over here. Surprised? :) I hope I never come across as having it all together, and I certainly don't want to come across like everything is always "fine" over here. Lately, lots of things aren't "fine" in this season, but I know one thing: God is always constant. The one thing I'm learning is to cry out to God more. Not my own mind, not my friends, not my Him. Even if it's to tell Him that I'm frustrated, disappointed, discontent, and just plain sad. I feel that He is the only one who understands how I truly feel. He wants us to turn to him FIRST, not after we've tried our other outlets. I keep asking God what it is that I'm supposed to be learning during this season, like maybe once I figure out what it is, He'll give me my heart's desires. Ha. What I'm learning is that these harder seasons are definitely a time to pray, ask questions, grapple, change, and grow closer to Him. That doesn't mean there will be a big "aha!" moment at the end and then things will fall into place. I might look back in one year, or ten years from now and see the growth and lessons that occurred.

One other thing? If you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His, be warned. A lot of tough stuff comes with that. TOUGH stuff. But, I asked for it, right? :) So here's my answer: We are not perfectly fine over here; there's a lot of sad things going on, but we're trying to figure it out. Would you pray for us? Is there something not perfectly fine at your house too? Can I pray for you? Great!