Thursday, May 14, 2015

Life is Messy and the Puzzle Pieces Don't Fit

E loves puzzles. I love watching her put them together: concentrating and twisting and turning each piece to find a way for them to fit neatly within each other...The pieces are always the right size, right shape. They click. They fit.

Sometimes, I wish life was that way.
But right now, my life puzzle is messy, disorganized, and, quite frankly, my pieces don't fit together. And while I'm making peace with where I am right now, it would be a lie to say this is is easy, or even that I'm enjoying myself.
Because when you're trying to put a puzzle together and your pieces aren't fitting together, things just get complicated and frustrating.

You see, I'm in this weird place of limbo and I'm still figuring out where I fit. So much of who I was early in our marriage was based on my husband's career: that's where we lived, how we met friends, how we found common ground with people. I had a community. I became comfortable in that community.
and then God closed that door.
So now here I am: not a military wife, but also not sure how to fit in or relate to the civilian world. In many ways, I'm in a position of being a single mom, but I'm happily married to a man that is working incredibly hard to support our family. It's almost as though I really don't fit anywhere right now (although that does sound rather dramatic-it's really not). And, if I'm honest, it's been really hard.

(and, let's face it, we need to be honest with each other in this human experience. life isn't always sunshine and roses, but that doesn't mean it's bad)

It's hard because I don't know how to help my two year old when she sits and cries and begs for her daddy when she's sad. Because it breaks my heart every time she asks, "Where daddy?" and answers her own question with "Daddy at work. Far away." It's hard because I'm seeing my two babies growing up and I know how much my husband wishes he could be part of it. It's hard because I have two precious, but busy children who demand so much of me-of which I freely give. It's hard because I'm also (by choice) working, going to school, maintaining our home, and keeping some semblance of order within our lives without my husband being able to be here as a physical presence.
It's hard because I'm lonely.

I'm still finding my niche here. I have friends from before that live here, and I love them dearly, but I haven't found where I fit yet. I know my village is out there, and my heart aches for it.  I remind myself this is a season where I might just be lonely-two kids age two and under makes getting together for quality time hard.
but that doesn't mean I don't miss it.
and I'll bet that most moms of young children often feel similarly.

When life's puzzle pieces just don't fit together well, it's hard. I get tired of explaining over and over again where my husband is because the response is often one of pity (or, "must be good money")
Both are wrong answers.
I don't want pity. I also don't want people talking about our finances. It doesn't matter how much money we're making-money doesn't replace a person's presence.
So if you happen to ask and I share what's going on in our family, here's what your response should be:
"Ok. I'll be praying for you guys."
"Can I give you a hug?"
"Is there anything we can do to help lessen the load for you?" (watch my kids so I can take a nap HA)
"You're doing a great job."
"I'm here for you."

That's it. Don't say you're sorry. God closed the door to our previous assignment for a reason, although I'm still waiting for His purposes to play out in a way I can tangibly understand. But I trust the Lord and his timing and plan, and I'm content in that.
Because I truly believe He's doing BIG things in our family this year.

Don't get me wrong, I have, and will continue to experience every range of emotion possible. I've been angry, sad, excited, hopeful. Even now, 6 months after leaving Texas, I still cry sometimes. The weight still feels overwhelming sometimes.

In the past week, I've really been meditating on the Book and character of Esther in the Bible.  In many ways, I feel like I can relate to her: She was taken from her community and placed somewhere that she didn't likely fit well, she likely experienced loneliness, she didn't want to be there.
and yet, she was reminded, she was there "for such a time as this". God had a purpose in her circumstances. She could have run away from the hard stuff. She could have wallowed in her sadness. But instead, she chose initiative. She chose strength.
and she changed the destiny of a generation and left a legacy that is still honored today.

I'm learning to embrace my circumstances. I'm leaning on Jesus for strength. I'm honest about my feelings and circumstances.
and I am embracing hope and joy in the middle of chaos.
and accepting grace for the moment.

So even though my puzzle pieces aren't fitting together right now in really any area of my life, I know that there is a marvelous picture that is being painted right now. I can't see the final product yet, but I trust the Artist's hands and vision.
and I find my peace in spite of the missing, misshapen, broken pieces that make up this life.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Go, Dog. Go!: A (Budget-Friendly) Second Birthday Party

Miss E turned two last month (hard to believe, I know!). Since she is old enough this year to actually have some little friends to play with, I thought it would be fun to do a friend party this year instead of the adult/family party we did last year.

Seriously, when did she get big?!

I spent some time trying to figure out what type of party to do.  I'm not a huge fan of licensed characters or overdone themes, but I didn't want it to be cheesy.  I also wanted to do something she would recognize and enjoy.

I couldn't do another Frozen anything

Sorry Elsa...

I thought about doing a popcorn theme since she loves popcorn (or "pawcawrn" as she calls it).
but the mess!

I thought about doing a shabby chic, or light pinks and golds, or something girly.
but it just didn't feel right for a "kid" party.

With all of the busy-ness of moving late last year, I also didn't have time on my side as I started to plan out V's party. Then, while reading our bedtime story for the umpteenth time, it hit me:

My daughter's favorite book is Go, Dog. Go!

So, being the overachiever and Type A planner (and overly confident Pinterest pinner) that I am, I started planning a Go, Dog. Go! party.

Pinterest wasn't much help. Apparently, it's not a super common theme.  I'm all for being creative, but goodness gracious, I really had to tap my creativity resources for this project.

I found some really great ideas after searching for Go, Dog. Go! and Dog themed parties.  Taking them from our theme and adapting them to who I knew would be attending got me on a roll and off I went into party creating madness.

I had a friend of mine design our invitations based on some I had seen online.  She did a great job and it turned out adorable!

I wanted to keep things simple, since the average age of party goers was around 2 1/2. We did hot dogs  and lil smokies (big dogs and little dogs, get it?!), fruit, veggies and hummus, and chips. Easy enough! To cut down on mess and clean up, we did a "picnic" in the living room on plastic tablecloths. The kids got a kick out of getting to have a picnic when it was snowing outside.

I made these garlands off of Pinterest (so easy! so cheap!) to decorate and threw some balloons in the mix to spice things up (and what toddler doesn't like balloons?!)

For our activity, we made our own party hats ("Do you like my hat?").

In lieu of a pinata, I found this great idea for a rainbow punch pinata on pinterest.  It was incredibly easy to make and was a huge hit with the kids. Much more age appropriate too than swinging sticks around and potentially causing a visit to the hospital.
That's usually a party damper. Best to be avoided. Blood and birthdays don't mix.

A lot of our time was spent just playing, though. Little ones are very easily entertained and quickly distracted.  Everly had so much fun with her friends, and the party really turned out well.  In all, we had 8 little friends show up, even though more were invited.  A freak snow storm decided to start that day, so due to weather, several friends couldn't make it.

I was so happy with the results of the party.  All in all, we spent under $100 to pull it all off, including decorations and food! I'm loving our current house because of all the entertaining possibilities! I'm looking forward to more parties in the future.

Happy 2nd birthday, E! We love you!