Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Because....



You just have to love her tiny sweetness!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One week old!!

We can hardly believe that Karlena is already over a week old. Time really does go fast but we are enjoying our time together as a family on "vacation". Dominic has to head back up to Tyler tomorrow night and it is going to be hard on everyone - especially him. Please pray for us as we begin yet another transition now that she is actually here.

The picture above is with Karlena's first teddy bear. The day we found out we were having a girl my sister Beth brought me some pink flowers and that teddy to my work.  When I pulled it out and laid it next to Karlena it was bigger than she was! She is such a bitty little girl!


 I had to show these 2 photos. Karlena and Elijah are about the same age in these pictures.  All of our boys looked identical when they were born so we were a bit curious as to what a girl might look like.  As you can see they definitely have similar features - but thankfully our girl has enough feminine features that makes her different than the boys! :)



Gabriel is such a good big brother. He is very concerned about how Karlena is doing and if she is "ok". If she cries he wants to know what is wrong with her and he really wanted me to take his photo with her this morning.  I tried to get Elijah in there as well but he wasn't having it! 

Isaac is a natural with her and although I don't have an updated photo to add here (I will get one soon I promise!) I can say that he has already changed several diapers - without being asked, and will hold her anytime I am willing to give her up (this is getting better). He is going to make an incredible father himself someday...when he is MUCH older!! :)

We hope you are having a great week and I will try and post lots more pictures soon!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Adjusting

This sweet gift is such a joy to have here finally!  But with the addition of another family member comes many adjustments.

Karlena has such a wonderful disposition. Overall she is calm and snuggly. It is so much fun to just cuddle her in your arms and nap while she naps....which seems like a lot of the day!  I took a nap with her yesterday morning and then Dominic got some chair time with her in the afternoon.

She is having trouble nursing though and that has been my biggest challenge so far. With all of the other boys I never really had any trouble and so this is frsutrating for me.  Being able to provide for my daughter is something that I want to do - but she is being a little uncooperative! :)  I am determined to keep trying and hopefully we can figure it out.

At this point she won't nurse unless I am standing and walking around with her.  Sometimes I can sit for a few minutes but typically she gets fussy and struggles and I have to stand up again.  She has lost almost a 1/2 a pound since she was born and as tiny as she seems already I don't want that to continue.

So on Monday we will be heading back to the doctor for a weight check to see if she has at least stabalized...please pray about this for us. I feel inadequate about the whole thing.

Besides that the only other thing I struggle with is sharing her.  I feel jealous when I have to let others hold her. :)  Dominic hasn't had near enough cuddle time with her and he will have to leave on Wednesday again for a few days so I know that I need to share her more. I am trying, but there is something so wonderful about having a newborn in your arms!

The other adjustment we have had is with Elijah.  At 19 months he is feeling the change in the family too.  Last night in the middle of the night I found myself in my recliner with Elijah on one side of me and Karlena in the other arm.  I have to make sure that I am making time for him too so that he knows he hasn't been replaced!

And the first time that I picked him up after holding Karlena I couldn't believe how heavy he seemed.  When you have just held a 6 1/2lb baby a 30lb toddler seems huge! :)  And changing the diaper of a toddler is such a different experience from a tiny baby too.  We have never had 2 in diapers before so we are getting used to that as well.

All in all we are doing well. It is hard to believe at times that she is here.  On Thursday we had the opportunity to go and introduce her to "Big Karlena's" family including her husband and son.  That was such an awesome experience. I just wish Kar had been there in person too. She would have adored her namesake.

Kerry - her husband - gave us a very special gift. Karlena had a Bible that she brought with her everywhere. He gifted that to our daughter in the hopes that some day it would be a treasure to her as it was his wife.  Overwhelming.

I am honored to be given the opportunity to be Karlena's mother and just thank each of you for walking with us as we do our best to instill God's word in her heart. Have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Headed Home!!


We are headed home!! We just got the ok that we can take our sweet girl home! Isn't she precious in purple?! :)

I am so excited to be all together as a family in our own space. Thank you so much for all of your visits and e-mails and support of us. I have said it before but we are so very blessed by each and every one of you!  Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Introducing Karlena Anne Smith

On December 20th, 2010 at 11:03pm I heard the words that we were waiting for 9 months to hear....your daughter is here! What an amazing night and an amazing blessing!!


I wasn't sure if it was the "real deal" earlier in the evening and so when I finally did call Dominic to tell him he needed to come for sure I was worried that he might not make it on time.  They had TONS of snow again in Tyler and so he had a terrible drive to get to me. Thankfully my mom was with me and encouraged and supported me until he got there. 

It was a fast and tough labor and when Dominic walked in the door I just bawled. So very thankful he had made it in time!!

I only had to push for less than 15 minutes so that too was a blessing. Karlena was crying right away and I got to just have her on my chest as they checked her out. She was perfect and healthy - Praise the Lord!

She weighed 7lbs (our smallest baby yet!) and was 20in long. She has long fingers and toes and LOTS of soft brown hair. She has some of the same features as her brothers but looks so much leaner than they did!

She is a beauty and we are thrilled to have her as a part of our family. God has blessed us in so many ways and this Christmas will just be time of celebrating our Savior's birth that made our new blessing possible.

Thank you for all of your prayers throughout this season. We feel so blessed by our amazing family and friends and can't wait for you to meet our daughter in person!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Family of Six


Last year, right after Christmas, Isaac went with my dad to Haiti.  They got home just days before the big earthquake that hit there and so the country and the people hold special places in our family's heart.

Isaac brought a few things back for our family and one of those things is the metal piece pictured above.  It is a tree with 6 birds in it.  He said at the time "I know we don't have 6 people in our family yet - but the last bird could be for the next baby we have".

Little did he - or any of us know - that almost one year later exactly we would be anticipating the arrival of that final addition to our family! It amazes me at times that we will be a family of 6 in just a few short weeks!!

I loved this "family tree" he found and wanted to do something special with it. So I found a large white frame at our local Goodwill store for $5 and painted it brown.  The I covered the "artwork" within the frame with a large piece of burlap material I found at Walmart and hung the tree in the center.

I love how it turned out! It is hanging at the end of our entryway hall so every night that we come home we see it when we walk in the door.

Today I am so grateful for all of my blessings. And I anxiously await the day when we will "officially" be a family of six!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I am SO proud!!!!

I am just so very proud of my husband that I needed to take just a minute and brag him up a bit here!! It has been 9 weeks since Dominic started his new job up in Tyler MN. It has been a very stressful time for all of us and every time a weekend is over it is so difficult to leave each other. But we are pressing forward with prayer and faith and God is granting us much peace during this time.

Part of the change with a new employer was passing the MPRE – which is an ethics test for attorneys and a portion of each State’s Bar requirement. He needed to get a scaled score of an 85 to be able to practice in the State of Minnesota. So during the first 5 weeks of his employment, while living away from home and trying to learn a new position, he also spent hours and hours and hours studying for this test which he took on November 5th.

As I understand it this was one of those tests where the questions are so tricky and sometimes logical thinking doesn’t get you to the correct answer. Dominic was not feeling great about the test when he was done and then we had to wait almost 5 weeks to get his score results! And as an added pressure, the next available date that he could retake the test if necessary was the same day we are all scheduled to fly out to Florida for a vacation with my whole family. So he has been waiting and praying that he would at least get the 85 that he needed to be eligible to continue moving forward in licensure in Minnesota.

Today we finally got the news and he not only did well – he hit it out of the park with a score of 111!!! When I called to tell him the news he almost didn’t believe me...it is probably still settling in! I couldn’t be a more proud wife. He worked so hard and we prayed and prayed about this and when I called him today he said “God gets the glory on this one”!

I know that many of you were praying with us and for us during this time and we are so grateful. We both know that God had His hand in this and we continued to be excited about what will happen next. Dominic still has to apply to the MN Bar so every hurdle isn’t yet complete – but this was a HUGE step in the process of moving forward with this new job.

Thank God for good news!! Have a wonderful week!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ornament Exchange


I am participating in something fun this year and wanted to share it with you! Check out Kate's blog for all the details...but do it soon, signup to participate ends in just a few days!

I LOVE Christmas ornaments. Right now we only have 1 tree that we put up every year and I probably have enough ornaments to fill SEVERAL trees. This year we ended up just putting up a few of them, which is probably a good thing because Elijah can't seem to stop himself from touching them.

So basically what happens with the ornament exchange is that you get a name of another person to buy an ornament for and someone else get's your name. And you have the opportunity to bless a "stranger".  So if you love new ornaments like I do please consider joining in on the fun!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful

Last night I had the opportunity to meet with some very dear friends for our annual “gratitude gathering”. Every year around Thanksgiving we get together and take some time to share all of the things that we are grateful for. It is just such an uplifting time and this year the list seems so long of all the things I have to be grateful for and I wanted to share a few of those things here.

Grateful: For my God and my Savior. Knowing that I am a sinner saved by Grace is overwhelming at times but I am so thankful that God loves me that much that he would send His son as a sacrifice for my sins.

Grateful: For my husband. I am so proud of the man that Dominic is. He takes his role as husband and father very seriously and strives to be the man that God would have him to be. He is under so much stress being away from his family, starting and learning a new job and studying for, and now waiting for the results of a big test. Yet he finds ways to be grateful for each opportunity and is a positive example to his co-workers and new boss. I couldn’t ask for a better husband!

Grateful: For my kids. Each one of our sons is unique and wonderful. Isaac has been such a big help the past 8 weeks. Often times putting my needs before his wants and being such a good big brother to Elijah and Gabriel. I don’t know what I would have done without him so many times and I am so grateful that I have a teenager that is such an amazing young man. Gabriel is a joy to be around and is so excited about school and everything that he is learning. He impresses me with all that he remembers and his positive attitude. Elijah sees wonder in the little things and goes crazy when he sees the moon and bugs and puppies. We hear those words over and over every day and I wouldn’t change a moment of it!

Grateful: For the opportunity to be pregnant. And this time with a girl! I LOVE my boys, but there was always a part in my heart that longed to have a daughter. I can’t believe that I have been given this chance and that she will carry on the legacy and the name of Karlena makes this time even more special.

Grateful: For my parents. I am so lucky to have 2 parents that are so supportive and loving. My mom came down on the night of our meeting, picked up our kids and then watched them at our house until I could get home. I know that it was a long night for her too, but she was excited to give me a night off. My dad is such a good grandpa to our kids too and makes things like having pancakes on Saturday morning a big treat!

Grateful: For my job. In this economy I know that just having a stable job is something that not everyone has. So even when it gets stressful I must remember that each day is another opportunity to help provide for our family.

Grateful: For so many little things. Like having a warm and safe home to raise our family, a vehicle that gets me to and from work each day, friends that love and support me, seeing a beautiful sunset on my way home from work and the ability to laugh at my mistakes and be willing to use those as an opportunity for growth.

The list really could go on and on. I hope that in the next few days, wherever you may be and whomever you are spending your time with, that you take a moment to think about some of the things that you are grateful for. I know that even in the dark times a light of hope can be seen if we are willing to look for it! I hope you have a safe and very blessed Thanksgiving! Much love to you all!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy 14th Birthday Isaac!!

Can you believe that this young man is now 14??!!!
How could someone this young and adorable now be ready to get his driver's license?
Isaac has grown and matured so much over the past several years.
He is one of the most kind and compassionate kids that I know. 
He is smart and hardworking and looks out for others.
And he is an AMAZING big brother.

Isaac, your dad and I could not be more proud of the young man you have grown into. I know that we made many mistakes as parents with you over the years as our firstborn...but you are forgiving and gracious and you remind us every day how grateful we are to have you in our lives. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are in our family! We love you!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Final Tribute

I had the honor today of speaking and singing at Karlena's Celebration of Life service.  It was a beautiful service and something that she would have loved.  I was so nervous about getting up in front of everyone but right before it was my turn we sang one of her favorite songs "I can only imagine" and I could picture her arms raised praising God and it gave me such a peace.  I wanted to share here what I wrote for today. Thank you for sharing her with me here!

It is a difficult task to sit down and put to words all of the things that I wish that I could share about who Karlena has been in my life. There are so many memories, so many stories and not enough time to share them all. Some of the moments, conversations are ones that were private and special and just between us and those I will treasure forever. I know that standing here before you we all have those similar experiences. Each one of us here in this room has been touched by the woman that Karlena was. For some of us we remember her amazing, big smile. Others of us remember her changing hair-styles/colors and long bright fingernails, her laugh and the way that she made us feel comfortable.


My friendship with Karlena started just that way. She was someone that never judged. Someone that accepted me for me, she was reliable and trustworthy and it didn’t matter the time between conversations, I always knew that she would be happy to talk to me whenever the time came.


Somewhere in our journey as friends I started to see a different side of Karlena. When we were younger we didn’t talk a lot about God, but as we both grew up a little we started sharing our faith with each other. It is that woman that I want to share with you today because it is Karlena’s faith in God that has had such a profound impact on me.


Finding out at 18 that she did have the Ataxia gene, Karlena knew ultimately what direction her life would eventually take. Her response to that news could have gone a couple of different ways. But as we all know she embraced her life and those things that she didn’t have control over and found an even deeper faith in God as a result. I am sure that she had doubts and fears but when I would talk to her about it as her symptoms progressed she always remained positive. She would tell me that she knew that God had a plan for her and she trusted that plan.


It was this faith, this trust that challenged me to look at my relationship with God. Karlena and I had many conversations where she would remind me that she wasn’t afraid of the future and each time that things got difficult for her she would press into God. This is how I want my faith life to look. One in which I am leaning towards God when life gets tough and not running from Him. It is this legacy that I hope to be able to pass along to our long anticipated daughter – a woman that will hopefully carry Karlena’s legacy of faith along with her name.


As we chose to name our daughter after Karlena I spent some time searching for the meaning of her name and found that I couldn’t find anything specific to her unique name – it is as unique as she was. So for our daughter I will pass along these meanings that I believe embody who Karlena was.


Faithful, Courageous, Steadfast, Loving, Kind, Supportive and Follower of Christ.


You know Karlena was always more worried about all of us and the condition of our hearts. She knew that when the time came that she would be called Home and she wanted to make sure that the rest of us would be joining her. She wasn’t afraid of sharing her faith with others and she was an amazing example of a woman living out a Christ-filled life. I know this because people gravitated towards her and grew in their faith because of her example.


It is an example that I hope to model my life after. It was always easy for me to let her be the example for me – to grow because I saw growth in her, to love unconditionally because I saw that unconditional love in her, to speak out because she spoke first. I feel that loss most heavily in my life now. Who will be that example for me now?


I know what Karlena’s answer would be.


God. He was her example, He was her strength, He gave her the courage to live life even when living was painful and He gave her the peace that she would one day spend eternity with Him.


I know that having a relationship with God was something that Karlena wanted for each of us. If she taught me anything it is that time is short and we just don’t know when that last breath will be for us. Karlena wasn’t afraid of dying because she knew what awaited her after her final breath.


A friend of ours from Augie – Anna – posted on my FB page something that I have to share. She said isn’t it awesome to think that with Karlena’s last breath she was opening her eyes and standing at the feet of her Heavenly Father! I praise God for that truth today. Today she is feasting at the banquet table of Christ - one that is set with a place for each of us.


The question is will you choose to be there?


Karlena can’t ask you the question any longer….so I will ask it for her. If you haven’t yet established a personal relationship with God what are you waiting for? Today is our opportunity to secure a place with her in Heaven. And all it takes is asking God into our hearts and our lives and then trusting Him in the journey that follows.


In 2008 I went to Denver to attend a Woman of Faith conference with Karlena. On that weekend we talked in depth about her “celebration of life” ceremony. She asked me if I would sing at her service because she “knew that I could do it without crying”. In fact she told me that she wanted signs on the door of the church that said “No crying allowed”!


I shared with her that weekend a song that I had just heard that instantly made me think of her. It is called “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin. Because as her body continued to fail her, as she continued to struggle with some of those daily tasks we take for granted – she held onto the promise of a Savior that loved her enough to die for her and make a place for her where one day she would dance unassisted, rising in worship to a God that loves her, loves me, loves all of us.


What an amazing gift we have been given – the gift of GRACE.


I hope that the words to this song will touch you as it did me. And as I attempt to sing this without crying I ask that each of you spend some time in communion with a God that has a place saved for you, just as He did for Karlena.

** side note...by the grace of God I did make it through the song...that and staring at the EXIT sign helped a little too! :) **

Karlena, you will forever be missed and never forgotten. Thank you for giving me the courage to stand up today. I love you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The View from Here

First I want to say thank you to everyone for their prayers. I know that Karlena’s family appreciates them and it is an honor to share her with you here. As it stands there will be a memorial service and funeral this Thursday and Friday in Colorado and then a funeral here in Sioux Falls next Friday. I was hoping to go to Colorado myself….I promised Karlena that I would be there for her funeral if at all possible. But since yesterday morning I haven’t been able to eat anything and keep it down. I am not sure if I am fighting the stomach flu or if it is just stress. Either way I am concerned enough about my ability to travel and the stress it could put on my pregnancy that I have made the hard decision this morning that I can’t go.

I am devastated….but trying to focus on the fact that I will be able to celebrate her life here next week.

Yesterday I was going through some of the e-mails I had saved that she and I had sent back and forth and I found one that I was hoping to share at her memorial service. Since I won’t be able to be there in person I thought that I would share it here instead.

I sent this e-mail after I visited her in March of this year. I brought Elijah with me this trip so that she could see how much he had changed and we had a wonderful long weekend together.

Karlena,

Hey! How have things been since I left? I have been a little down I think! I don’t know, feeling like we just didn’t have enough time….I am also feeling bad because I feel like I should have helped you write out your faith story for church. I should have offered while I was there and I am sorry that I didn’t. Did you get that completed? Nick and I were talking on the way home from a meeting last night and I was telling him about how you were asked to be a prayer leader for this campaign at your church and how someone on Sunday gave you this slip of paper asking you to pray from 7-7:30pm that night.


In all honesty – had that been me I would have prayed….eventually….but I probably wouldn’t have done it when I was “supposed” to. I would have found a reason…dinner, tv, a movie…something and would have made a choice to put off my commitment. But you didn’t. You remembered – you made sure that you went when you needed to and you excused yourself to a place where you could pray and not be disturbed. That whole thing has stayed with me this week.


That whole situation is an example of what I so appreciate about who you are in my life. That example of faith. And I told Nick that I think that scares me….knowing that I won’t always have that example in my life - in a tangible way….you know? I said that I didn’t know if I would ever be ready to lose that.


And he thought about it and then said something very insightful to me…”It isn’t that you aren’t ready to lose Karlena’s example, it maybe is that you aren’t ready to be the example on your own.”


And I thought about that and he was speaking truth to me at that moment and I could feel it! He is right. It is so much easier to be inspired by who you are, then to work to be someone that inspires. Because to me it seems like “work”. And I don’t think that it is for you. It just seems from my perspective that you are in that place where loving and trusting God in a big way isn’t “work” to you. It is just who you are.


Anyways….I felt like I needed to share that with you. And maybe that isn’t how you see yourself…..but it is the view from here. Thank you again for loving me and accepting me where I am and for continuing to inspire me to better faith and bigger faith in God.


I miss you!


Kristin

Today I feel that challenge – it isn’t a burden – but a challenge. Carry on that legacy of faith that Karlena had that inspired so many. If you have been touched my Karlena’s example are you ready to pick up where she left off? Instead of looking for someone to inspire you…being the one that inspires? I know that by my own abilities I am not capable of the task. But I am certain that God equips each of us with what we need to be His example….I just have to be willing to allow him to do the “work”.

Today my heart is willing….will you stand with me willing to be the light that Karlena was?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Karlena Marie Cahalan


I post this tonight with both a heavy and yet grateful heart. At 6:22pm (Colorado time) Karlena Marie Cahalan went to be with Jesus. My heart aches right now for her husband and son, parents and parent's-in-law and the entire extended family of those who loved and appreciated her.

I know that the sadness I am feeling right now is for my loss because when I think about where she is right now I am so grateful that she is in Heaven. No more labored breaths, no more pain in her legs....tonight she dances with angels and praises God in person!

I knew that eventually this time would come. I really didn't think it would come before she had a chance to meet our daughter - her namesake. She sent me an e-mail just last week asking for photos of the boys and an updated "belly" shot.  She said that they planned to come to visit her mom in SF at Christmas time and would stay "until she got to hold baby Karlena twice".   

This weekend Dominic asked me how she was doing and I shared that with him and we both laughed because we knew just what she meant when she said it.  She was so excited about meeting her...even Kerry her husband said this took him by surprise because he was sure we had until after January....that just meeting Karlena was keeping her going.

We just don't know the time or the place do we? Even if we have everything to live for here on earth - we don't know when our time will be. I have said it before but I must say it again today.

Karlena was ready. Not ready to die because she was done with the pain but ready because she was excited to meet her Maker. She KNEW with everything in her that on this day she would meet Jesus.

As I sit here right now my daughter is moving around inside my belly, reminding me that she is here - such a gift that she is. She holds a very special legacy just having Karlena's name. I haven't ever been able to find a baby name site that gives a meaning to the name Karlena.  Various forms of the name...but not that one specifically.

It is unique - just like she was.  Today I give the name Karlena my own meaning.  It is something that I will pass along to my daughter when she is old enough to understand.

Karlena:
Faithful
Courageous
Steadfast
Loving
Kind
Supportive
Follower of Christ

Karlena's strength, her character, her love for God will be instilled in my children.  She wasn't here long enough as far as I am concerned. But she didn't waste any time being that Christ-like example to everyone around her. It is evident in the number of people from her community, her church that went out of their way time and time again to care for her and her family.

She inspired people to reach towards Christ like she did. Ever trusting what He had in store for them - even if it hurt this side of Heaven. I am forever changed for knowing and loving her. I miss her already and know that with the joy of the birth of our daughter will also come some sadness at her lost presence.

Karlena, I know that you said "NO CRYING" and I can hear your voice as I type the words. Tonight my tears are for me...I am going to be a little bit selfish just this once. You and I both know that this is not goodbye....just see you someday soon. Until that time comes for me....save a place for me at the banquet table because I know that tonight you are feasting with God.

I love you....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 Weeks!

I have been terrible this pregnancy blogging about where I am and how I look etc. I guess I have a few other things on my plate! :)  But yesterday Karlena asked that I send her a photo of little miss Karlena growing and I realized that the last time I posted a picture I was 20 weeks! So things have changed just a bit! I had a doctor's appt. this morning and everything is going great - right on track to meet our sweet daughter in about 9 weeks!


And just for fun - here is how I looked at 31 weeks with Elijah...


Have a wonderful day and stay warm...it was snowing just a little here this morning and it made my heart sad! :)  I am NOT ready for winter yet!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Matter What

The past couple of weeks, overall, have been pretty good. Of course there have been times here and there where I get stressed but the past 24 hours especially have put me almost over the edge. And I will be honest – it is so easy to get on the “why me” pity pot and to room there for awhile.

And isn’t the “pot”, although cold and lonely, somewhere that we can get stuck? How come my husband couldn’t find his dream job in the city where we currently live? How come my 17 mo old all of a sudden isn’t sleeping for hours and hours on end and I am emotionally and physically exhausted? How come I have to worry about the “safety” of my job because of some big things that are happening there right now?

How come…..if I allow it, my list could go on and on. What are your “How comes”?

But I know this negative thinking isn’t healthy and the other day I heard a song that really struck me and I was singing it to myself last night in the wee hours of the morning as I tried to comfort my youngest son. I hope it means as much to you as it does me…

The truth of all of this is that if I didn’t believe and trust that God was with me always….I couldn’t do this. It isn’t by my strength, but by His. So I can say that regardless how things in my life play out – I trust my God and love my God with all that I am. No matter what Lord…..

No Matter What” by Kerrie Roberts

I’m running back to your promises one more time,
Lord that’s all I can hold on to,
I gotta say this has taken me by surprise,
but nothing surprises You.
Before a heartache can ever touch my life,
it has to go through Your hands,
and even though I,
I keep asking why, I keep asking why,


No matter what, I’m gonna love You,
no matter what I’m gonna need You,
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
but if not, if not, I’ll trust You,
no matter what, no matter what.


When I’m stuck in this nothing-ness by myself,
I’m just sitting in silence,
there’s no way I can make it without Your help,
I won’t even try it.
I know You have Your reasons for everything,
so I will keep believing, whatever I might be feeling,
God you are my hope, and You'll be my strength,

 

No matter what, I’m gonna love You,
no matter what I’m gonna need You,
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
but if not, if not, I’ll trust You,
no matter what, no matter what. 

 

Anything I don’t have You can give it to me,
but it’s ok if You don’t,
I’m not here for those things,
the touch of Your love is enough on its own,
no matter what I still love You
and I’m gonna need You

No matter what I’m gonna love You,
no matter what I’m gonna need You,
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
but if not, if not, I’ll trust You,
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain,
but if not, if not, I’ll trust You,
no matter what no matter what no matter no matter what

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seven is so sweet!

This sweet boy turned SEVEN this weekend!
He has been messy at times.... (3 yrs old)

He has been peaceful at other times..... (5 yrs old)

And he has made us laugh time and time again. (7 yrs old)

Gabriel - you are a joy to us all. Having you as a part of our family fills us all with such blessings. You have grown and changed over the past several years and have become a boy that we are even more proud of today.  Your dad and I both love you so much and we can't imagine our lives without you. We thank God for allowing us to be your parents! Happy Birthday son!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spending time in Minnesota

We spent the weekend up in Tyler with Dominic and I wanted to try and find somewhere that we could go to take pictures for our Christmas cards so we ended up at Camden State Park.  We started hiking and we ended up on the wrong way of a very steep and long path. For a time Elijah wanted to walk himself....

The he decided that he wasn't going to cooperate and so dad got to carry him....

And carry him....
And carry him...but overall he enjoyed the view!!

And Gabriel enjoyed the leaves!

I don't want to share the "best" photos with you now because then grandma and grandpa won't be surprised later...but we took a bunch of photos and Elijah cooperated with a couple and I think we have some that everyone will enjoy. We had a fun weekend with Dominic and it is always hard to leave but we have Gabriel's birthday next Saturday to look forward to so hopefully the next week will go fast like the first week did! How did you spend your weekend?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Enter in the “terrible two’s”

Well it is official….Elijah has entered that phase…the terrible two’s. I had a glimpse of it on Monday night. On my first day as a “single mom during the week” I got a call from Elijah’s daycare and he had a fever of over 104…so I had to leave early and go get him and bring him back up to SF to Acute Care. I know that he didn’t feel well but when we checked in at 5:45pm Elijah basically wanted to run and terrorize the place. With the number of sick people in the waiting room I wanted to keep him under control (mistake #1) so I was trying to keep him occupied in the play area and wouldn’t let him leave (mistake #2), this made him quite upset and he spent the next hour – while we waited to get in – screaming at the top of his lungs. It was fabulous. I literally stood with him facing the windows biting my tongue so that I wouldn’t lose it and cry right along with him.

Last night Elijah was, once again, into everything. He has discovered that we keep Pringles chips in one of our cupboards that he has access to. He likes Pringles..but not really for the eating. He would prefer to crunch the chip into a thousand little pieces all over the floor. So he goes for the Pringles again and I knew he wasn’t hungry so I took them away from him and told him “no”.

He proceeded to throw himself onto his belly started screaming and kicking his legs and flailing all about. At one point I asked him if he needed to go to his room. He shook his head no. He gets what is happening….he knows what he is doing and he is trying to play me. I wasn’t buying it last night. So I told him that when he was done he could come and find me and I walked away. It didn’t last much longer.

When I dropped him off this morning he was upset again – wanted to stay in the van and watch a movie. He always puts on a good show for me when I drop him off…makes me feel really guilty about leaving and then apparently stop the second I drive away. Kari at the daycare said that he threw about 4 tantrums yesterday….they don’t last long and they don’t try to control him when he does it – they try and ignore it - so hopefully he will quickly learn that these are not the method to use to get what he wants. He is a smart little turkey but he is testing the waters right now!

I just need to remember his adorable smiles and his laugh at times like this when he is acting out. He is such a fun spirited boy and I know that this too shall pass. Speaking of passing….yesterday he thought it would be fun to poop in his bath in the morning. Perfect! I took a picture of him with my phone and sent it to Dominic with the caption - This is the “I just pooped in the tub look” - He enjoyed that…shared it with several people he was sitting with at his training seminar yesterday!

So that about sums up my first week. We are surviving and are looking forward to a road trip tomorrow to go and spend Saturday afternoon and Sunday with Dominic and hopefully if the weather will cooperate, take the boy’s pictures for our Christmas cards. Maybe I can capture Elijah during one of his “moments”…wouldn’t that make a cute Christmas photo?! Anyways – have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Community

In the past several weeks I have been so overwhelmed with the sense of Community that I have surrounding me. I was thinking about it again last night and thought that I should blog about it just so that later I can remember and reflect on how important this has been to me recently.

We live in a small community – around 2000 people in our town. We admittedly don’t know our neighbors as well as we could. With working outside of town and going to church in a different town, we really only know those that are at our daycare, school etc. But even though we are “transplants” to Beresford I am so impressed by a few people specifically who have stepped forward for us. Yesterday the husband of one of the women at Elijah’s daycare told Dominic that during this transition time if I ever need anything that I should just call. Another woman who works at the bank I do and also lives in Beresford came to tell me that he husband said if I ever need help removing snow etc. to just call and he will come over. I have never met her husband….but yet he is willing to help out someone in his community. Such a blessing!

We have the privilege of attending First Baptist Church in another community with a body of believers that has walked with us and prayed for us during some very good and some very difficult times over the past 7 years. These are faithful Christian men and women who have supported us and encouraged us and continue to offer these things even when we recently had to pull back from some of our “responsibilities” at the church. I love that I can count on these amazing friends and that even if we aren’t there for a few weeks they haven’t forgotten about us and continue to pray for us.

I have had the honor of spending Tuesday evenings with a group of women that encourage and challenge me in becoming the woman God would have me to be. I can share my biggest fears and darkest secrets with these women and they continue to invite me back, to check up on me and to love me. I hope to be able to make it to some of those Tuesday evening meetings in the next several months and will be missing all of you when I can’t be there!

Dominic worked with some very caring people at SD Advocacy and they were so giving towards him, even right up to his last day. They had a special lunch for him and “roasted” him, gave him some unique and very interesting gifts, including a handmade guide to “Speaking Minnesotan”. One co-worker gave him a microwave and a set of silverware for his new house. He left a wonderful group of people and although he is excited about his new adventure we are praying that he will find that same sense of community with his new co-workers because his Advocacy family will be missed!

We have also had so much support from our family and friends. People offering to help us move, to give us things to make his new house more like a home, to watch our kids and to most importantly pray for us. We are ever grateful for each and every one of you.

Even blogging has provided me with a sense of community. Friends that I have not had the chance yet to meet in real life have e-mailed me or left me comments telling me that they are lifting us up in prayer. Just through blogging we are connected and have the opportunity to share life together. I am just so very blessed by all of it.

So today I am filled to overflowing with gratitude for each and every one of you. I love that I am part of a community of people that encourages, loves, supports and prays for each other. I hope that I can give back to you what you have so freely given to me. And please pray for Dominic as he starts the new job on Monday! Thank you friends!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just a few things....

Just a few of the things that we are doing and have been doing to get ready for this new change we have coming with Dominic's new job. At times I honestly feel a bit overwhelmed at everything that needs to be done or should be done or won't get done! :)  But I am trying to keep grounded and live in today - dealing with what we can today and letting tomorrow happen tomorrow!

We have the paint purchased and next week Dominic will be painting our entire basement, that along with finishing the painting I started in the upstairs laundry room will be the last "project" that we must complete in order to put our house on the market in the future.

We purchased a new garage door opener for the garage that houses the van which will soon become my primary source of transportation. I still drive my old faithful 1996 Camry but with miss Karlena coming soon I will need the van to transport our ever growing brood!  The garage door has been broken forever and we would like to get the new one installed sometime before winter approaches so that I can shut the door automatically instead of manually!

We have gotten a taste of what it will be like to send Isaac to college as we have had to borrow and thrift shop for some of the "extras" Dominic needed to furnish his new weekday "home". Many people have been generous with their things and we have found some great deals too. We got an awesome circa 1970's coffee table and end table from Y's Buys for just $17 and utensils and silverware from Savers for just $12! Dominic's brother had some furniture and dishes that he wasn't using currently so they helped him get everything to the new house a few weekends ago! Our final move day will be late next week. I haven't seen the house in person yet myself so I am excited to go and help make things more cozy for Dominic!

We did have to go and purchase a new bed and a laptop too. Dominic is "sacrificing" for me and letting me keep the new bed and he will be taking our 14 yr old mattress with him.  He is such a martyr huh?! :)  When we are all back together then Isaac will get the old mattress and replace the REALLY old one he has...all good for everyone!  And with the new laptop Dominic will be able to communicate via e-mail so we can always be in touch with each other.

I have lists everywhere to help me remember all that we need to send with him. I went to SAMS's this weekend so that I could buy all the stuff we use at home every day but can't easily "share" between houses like the soap and laundry detergent and garbage bags etc....our house is a disaster right now with MN "piles" everywhere!! We plan to go to the grocery store next week to get some of the smaller cooking items he might need. I think it will be weird for him not to have access to all the "stuff" we have in our cupboards and refrigerator right now...you don't think about those things until you actually need them!!

Overall we are getting it all figured out...with lots of help and prayers from our family and friends! We so appreciate all of you and ask that you continue to lift us up.  The next few weeks are going to be especially hard. His last day of work is Friday and then the following week is going to fly by.  He starts the new job on October 4th and gets to dive right in with a 2 day training seminar that week!  On top of all that newness he has to study for a test that he will take the first weekend of November that will hopefully solidify his acceptance to practice law in the state of MN.  Please pray specifically about all of that and that everything would fall into place with that whole process. It has been lengthy and time consuming to say the least!

Thank you so much for your support and I will do my best to keep my blog updated with everything as it comes.  I have been terrible about keeping up with this lately but hopefully when things get into a routine I will have some more time then!  Have a great week!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karlena and I


I had such a great time seeing Karlena and her family this weekend. It was a short trip but so awesome! We watched several Women of Faith speaker messages on DVD. We couldn't go to the actual conference this year but got to have the experience from the comfort of Karlena's home!

We were able to go to church on Sunday morning and I got to see again the body of Christ there that loves Karlena so much. They bring her family meals 3 times a week and really are the hands of Jesus....so awesome! Thanks Spirit of Joy in Ft Collins!


We had to get a photo of Karlena and soon to be here baby Karlena!  We decided this weekend that she was going to be my sweet, calm spirited child - just like her Auntie Karlena is!  Oh and she is going to sleep through the night right away too! :)

Thank you for your continued prayers for Karlena and her family.  So many people have told me that they continue to have her on their prayer list and I think that is so amazing.  Karlena is such a blessing to me and I am so grateful to be able to share that blessing with you!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BIG News and BIG changes!!!

This post is one that I thought I would write many times over and much longer ago than today….but finally I can openly share some big news and changes that are going to be happening in the Smith household! For those of you who have prayed for us during this time – Thank You!

Dominic has worked for nearly the past nine years for South Dakota Advocacy Services, a non-profit agency that represents persons with disabilities. It was his first job out of law school and one that helped him develop his writing and legal skills and provided several very interesting opportunities. As you may guess, being a non-profit agency does have its downfalls and it became evident to us over the past year and a half that this job was not meeting some of the basic financial needs that we had. With a new baby on the way, we knew that we needed to do something.

As you know, the economy has been tough and there are often hundreds of people applying for a single position. This was a very real road block for Dominic as well. We would pray about possible opportunities, asking that God would either open the door or close the door so that we knew we were headed in the right direction. We were constantly asking ourselves - What does God want here for us as a family? God please show us what we should be doing!!!

And then one day, out of the blue, Dominic got a call from a recruiter. This was a shock to both of us because something like this hasn’t ever happened before. He got Dominic’s name as a possible candidate for a position with an Estate Planning firm in Tyler MN.

We decided together that this was something that he should at least pursue to see where it might lead – even if it was a position out of state. Every morning when we would pray together as a family we would ask that God just be very clear with us….open doors and closed doors. We wanted whatever happened to be what God would want for us – so that we weren’t making choices irrationally etc.

This position in MN continued to progress and last Tuesday Dominic was offered the position with the firm and as a family we decided that this was something with which we would forge ahead.

This position will allow Dominic to learn an area and practice of law with which he is not today familiar, but he is excited about the opportunities it will present. It doesn’t come without cost though. Part of the difficulty in making this decision came with how we would handle our current living situation and the possibility of a move.

The boys have already started the school year. With a new baby coming and non-existent daycare availability for two young ones in the community to which we would be moving, and getting our house on the market and being able to sell it in this economy could all prove to be difficult. So we started talking about the option of a temporary separation during the week – so that Dominic can go and start his training and the rest of us have the support of family and friends very close by to help if we needed. This isn’t something either of us wants to do long term – but we felt we could do anything for 6-12 months until all of the “kinks” could be worked out.

This was the most difficult part of this decision. It isn’t the “most ideal” option. Living together as a family only on the weekends isn’t what we would want long term by any means. But for a time it is something that we know that we can do – with God’s help.

About 2 weeks ago I blogged briefly about this book I got called “Plan B”. From the moment I stared reading it I was convicted. God was speaking to me through those pages. Sometimes God doesn’t give us the “easy” path. When it is always easy we often stop relying on Him to help us through. When something isn’t “ideal” we tend…well at least I do…to spend more time looking to God for support.

So we talked a lot about this….about the fact that this is an opportunity for both of us to step out of our comfort zones and trust that God has been leading us here…and will be leading us through it too. Does that mean it will be easy? Probably not all of the time. But is it possible that we don’t see the full picture God has intended for us today? I am certain of it!!

And I believe that this will give us an opportunity to be intentional about our relationship too. I know that I take Dominic for granted. I don’t appreciate all the time we have together. I am pretty sure that this opportunity will help keep us focused on what is really important and hopefully eliminate some of that petty “picking” that we do on each other and our faults. Those things won’t be so important when our time together is more “precious”. My prayer is that this time will help me to see any and all time as precious so that I am less likely to take the time and Dominic for granted in the future!!

So there you have it…BIG changes for the Smith family coming down the road. On Friday he submitted his resignation with his employer and will need to stay there for the next 30 days. He will begin his new job on the 4th of October! He has secured a home to rent for the next 6 months and now we are trying to furnish his new space....if anyone has any old pots and pans etc. they aren't using and want to see go to good use let me know! :) I joked this morning that I feel like he is going off to college because we need 2 of everything! :)

We covet your prayers during this time of transition and change. We know that the enemy will continue to attack us and try to expose our fears and weaknesses. Please pray that our hearts would remain focused on God and the strength that He can provide to us. This is a new adventure that we are embarking on and we are excited and nervous about the ride – but confident that with God –all things are possible!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First day of school

Who is this man that is now living in our home?? I thought we had a 13 year old son and one day this guy appeared out of nowhere and our 1st born baby has mysteriously disappeared!! :)
Gabriel was all smiles for his first day of school! I am so glad that he is excited about the 1st grade!!

Elijah wasn't thrilled about taking a picture with his older brothers but they both wanted to try anyways!
I can't believe that another summer has come and gone already and that our kids are growing so fast!
Sorry about the picture quality here too...something happened when I transferred them from the Zoom Browser I use to the blog. They don't look this fuzzy even on my camera screen! Anyways - enjoy your week!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hamburger or turtle??

I realize that the title of this post may seem a little strange to some of you....

If you have been in my position, you may know what I am referring to!  But if not let me explain.

Today we had our big ultrasound.  I had decided again..cheater I know...that I wanted to know what we were having.  We didn't find out with the first 2, and then did with Elijah. I felt to stay balanced that we should probably find out again! :)

Everything in the ultrasound looked good. Baby was moving like crazy and so our tech really had to work to get some of the important shots. But he did a great job and showed us the areas of the brain, and the spine and the heart etc.

Everything looked as it should and baby thus far seems to be growing like it should.  We told him that we wanted to know if baby was a boy or a girl. I was desperately watching the whole thing trying to see if I could figure it out myself. Most of that stuff looks indescribable to me...so I couldn't tell at all.

When we had Elijah's scan I had done some searching on the internet and seen that boy parts are described as looking like a "turtle" and girl parts like a "hamburger". (Sorry for those of you who may have TMI here!!)

With Elijah the "turtle" was quite evident.  This time I couldn't see this myself as he scanned around...but like I said everything was difficult to distinguish. And then he put a circle around something and said "Well do you know what that is?"

Then he started to type on the monitor....GI....and I knew right away. We were looking at a "hamburger"!!! :) :)

That's right  - we finally get to say that the next Smith baby is going to be a GIRL!!!!

We are THRILLED. Dominic is still in shock I think! :) I am not sure that all these boys are going to know what to do with a little girl....but we are all excited to have the chance to find out!

She will be named after my best friend, and faithful, Godly example, Karlena. I can't put into words how much it means to me to be able to have a daughter and to be able to forward Karlena's continuing legacy to her. God is so so good.

And I have already gotten some of my first "pink" gifts today from my family!! My dad dropped off the pink cotton candy they got for me at the fair that Isaac forgot to bring home yesterday and Beth stopped by on her lunch hour with some pink flowers in a pink vase with Miss Karlena's first pink teddy bear!

I feel blessed in so many ways and so thankful to be able to share it here! Have a wonderful Tuesday!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trying to get positive

I have had a rough day....honestly I am in a terribly negative mood and was all ready to post about how miserable I am feeling...but instead of inviting you all to sit on my pity pot with me I decided instead to post a couple of pictures that we took recently.  I am determined to have a better perspective on things...so hopefully these positive pictures will be that start! :)

This is Gabriel without his 2 front teeth. He lost them both weeks ago but I never got around to showing how he looks.  I think it is adorable!

Elijah just cracked me up this morning. He is using a fork to eat more and more and his most favorite food is watermelon. He eats it like mad!! What will we do when fall comes?!

And this was taken of me this morning. I am half way through this pregnancy already! Gabriel came in as Dominic was taking the picture and said "Mom what happened to your tummy? It got all big!"  I reminded him that there was a baby in there and he said "Oh no...you have another giant meatball again!"

When I was pregnant with Elijah Gabriel thought I looked like a giant meatball....I guess I am starting to get that way again! :) 

On another note a package arrived today that included a book I had forgotten I'd ordered. 
It is called "Plan B" by Pete Wilson.  I am on page 18...reading while photos downloaded... and I have already been in tears and know that this book arrived just today because I needed it most today.  The premise is "What do you do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would?"

That is exactly my "problem" today. And the way I felt today I just feel done...beat. The first 18 pages have hit that nerve to the core and have started to challenge me already in how I want to respond....I guess I know what I will be doing for the rest of the evening!!  I will share more later as I get farther into the book!  Have a good evening!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Random Stuff

I haven’t posted in awhile…and honestly it has been crazy around our house and I haven’t had much time to post so I thought I would quick share a few updates from the Smith household!

I am either 18 wks 3 days or 19 wks pregnant today. My 2 sonograms were conflicting on the dates but we will know more for sure in 2 weeks from today when we have our big ultrasound!! I love this season of pregnancy. Feeling babe kick and move – even if it is small – is so amazing to me.

We have been spending every weekend doing home improvement projects. So far we have done a little landscaping/trimming in the front of the house, power washed the entire house, power washed and prepared our garages for painting – which can’t happen until this rain goes away!, steam cleaned the carpet in the whole house, washed walls and touched up paint upstairs, cleaned and scratch repaired all the wood upstairs, repainted the front porch, ordered shutters for the front of the house and fixed a few rotted window sills. Wow….I am tired just remembering it all!

Isaac decided to join cross country this year and has started running 4 days out of the week. That along with baseball, bike riding and time at the pool has caused him to really slim down! He didn’t need it at all, and I noticed on Sunday that his shorts were practically falling off of him and so he weighed himself and has lost 8lbs since May! Fortunately he has a HEALTHY appetite and is eating all the time so I am not worried about it.

Gabriel has another loose tooth, but this time I am staying away from it!! Because of the large space where his 2 front teeth once were, he can no longer say words correctly that start with “F”. It is so adorable. He says “tooth thairy” instead of tooth fairy! He is taking swimming lessons for a couple of weeks and is concerned about the “big test” this Friday. We have tried to tell him that he can’t fail at this and regardless he is learning something he didn’t know before.

Elijah is still recovering from his croup. He still sounds a bit hoarse and just isn’t himself yet. I think he is also getting his 1 year molars so he is always irritable! He is into EVERYTHING these days. Mostly the toilet and the garbage can. He has this little bunny that he carries everywhere and it has been thrown away and sent for a swim more times than I can count! Fortunately we have 2 of those bunnies so he always has a spare while the other is being washed.

Well for now that is about it for us….hopefully there will be more time and more to share again very soon!! Have a wonderful week friends!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Croup and a visit to the Hospital

I have heard of croup before, but we have never “dealt” with it personally until this weekend! On Friday night Elijah slept almost 12 hours straight…which is unusual for him, but he didn’t seem to have anything wrong with him so I dismissed it. We had borrowed my dad’s power washer so that we could clean the outside of the house and started that project sometime around noon.

Elijah had gone down for another nap at that time so I was in and out of the house all afternoon helping Dominic and checking on Elijah. After another 3 ½ hours I started to get concerned and went in to check on him and noticed that he was very warm. He had a fever of 102.7 so I gave him some Tylenol and a bottle and he just rested in our living room.

By about 5:30pm I checked his temp again and he still had a higher fever and was getting really irritable. He was putting his hand on his ears and didn’t want me to touch them so I thought that he might have the starts of an ear infection. I got cleaned up and he and Gabriel and I headed up to Sioux Falls to have him checked out.

I had heard him coughing a few times but didn’t think much of it and thought it was something tied to the ear infections. We got him started on the antibiotics for his ear and we went back home. Later that evening, he was tired and crabby and was coughing a little more. It sounded like he needed to clear his throat and cough some junk up and just couldn’t.

I had mentioned to Dominic that I was worried about him and that I would likely sleep out in the living room with him just to keep an eye on him. He fell asleep on his tummy on our living room floor while we watched a movie.

Around 11pm or so I went over to him just to feel his forehead and noticed that he was really hot. When I took his temp it read 103.3 and then I tried it again and it was 104.1. I knew that something was really wrong. Dominic went and turned him over and it was then that we could hear that he was really struggling to breathe – you could also see it in his body.

I was scared and called my dad to see what he thought we should do – I started crying so Dominic had to talk to him. We decided to bring him up to the ER in Sioux Falls and have him seen. So we woke up Gabriel and headed, very quickly into town.

They got us in right away and immediately gave him a couple of nebulizer treatments that helped with his breathing. They did a chest x-ray and then gave him some steroids. Funny story about that….the oral steroids made his tummy really upset and he threw up right away. The nurse told us to push the red button if he threw up again and they would give him a shot of steroids. So about 5 minutes later he threw up again and I ask Dominic if he could see the call light deal and all we can find is a red button on the wall that says “Staff Assist”. So he tells me to push that.

The “Staff Assist” button doesn’t call the nurse…it calls the WHOLE emergency department. 2 nurses, the doctor, the security guard and the flight med tech all came running within seconds to come to our aid. All except the nurse that told us to push the call light!! We were pretty embarrassed….they showed us where the actual call button was….it was NOT where it typically is on the bed. I think they understood…and Dominic and I had a good laugh over it!!

So after a few hours – at 3am - we were admitted to stay in the hospital. Elijah didn’t sleep well there and needed to be held the whole time. It was a LONG day. But the steroids really helped to bring down his wheezing and coughing and we were finally released to go home around 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

He is doing much better today. He is still pretty fussy, but his breathing has improved a ton and we are so thankful that he got the help he needed when he did. A very scary situation but it could have been a lot worse. We are just thankful for the hospital staff that helped him and that my parents were available to have Gabriel “sleep over” while we spent the day with Elijah. God was watching over us on Saturday night and I was reminded that Elijah is His son first and so I just had to trust that everything would be ok.

Thanks to those that prayed for us – hopefully the next time I am in the hospital it is to deliver this babe #4…in late December!! Nice staff, but I don’t want to make a habit out of visiting there!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Communication

Last night I had a meeting with several other women and we spent some time talking together about communication. It was such a good discussion and one that I needed to be a part of! In all things communication play such a vital role….if I can’t communicate well with others my relationships suffer.

I have not always been the best communicator. I can think something through, even blog about an idea, but often when it comes to communicating with someone else about what I am thinking or feeling…I end up communicating poorly. In the “heat” of a moment I often speak before I think, saying something that I regret and then have a hard time admitting later that I was wrong!

And I find that who I communicate with is something that I need to take into consideration before hand as well! Gabriel is often a good verbal indicator to help me see if I am portraying the message I want to. When he says “mom why do you have that mad face”, or “mom how come you are talking to me in a mad voice”….I know that something isn’t in check!

I can communicate a very strong message if I want to just with my tone of voice or my body language/facial expressions. But how many of us walk around with a mirror in front of us all the time to check our reflection? That is why someone like Gabriel is so good for me…he calls it like it is and I often have to change my approach if I really do not want to communicate anger.

I find that with Dominic I can communicate either respect or disrespect just by the way that I give him attention to something he is talking about. Even if it isn’t something that I want to discuss – I need to be willing to stop talking and listen every once and while!! But I can express my “distaste” in both verbal and nonverbal ways and it shows my disrespect. I don’t want to be openly disrespectful towards my husband so again that is something that I need to be very aware of!

One line I read about communicating really struck a chord with me. “Any message can be conveyed with courtesy, even one of outrage.” WOW! How do we do that? I know that I don’t do this well at all!! If I am feeling outraged it shows EVERYWHERE..on my face, in my voice. Let me give you an example.

I recently went to talk to someone in my HR department about my upcoming maternity leave. ( I am a planner and I wanted to attack this early) She hasn’t been with the company long – less than a year – and I just went through this whole process 18 months ago…so I kind of know “the drill”. I wasn’t sure where her level of expertise with our company would be…

I scheduled a meeting, explained in advance why I was coming and went expecting to get some paperwork and be on my way. What I got instead was a completely different experience. From my perspective I was treated with complete disrespect. It was evident in the tone of voice that was used with me, the questions that were asked of me and the guilt I felt was being laid on me. The conversation lasted 6 minutes.

In six minutes I was so outraged at the way I felt I was being treated that I stood up, said that I would no longer continue a conversation in which I was being treated this way and would not be made to feel guilty about needing maternity leave. I ended the conversation by saying that I guess I would have to talk to my manager and have him and her manager figure it out instead….and I walked out.

Was I conveying a message of courtesy in my outrage? NO!! Although I know that in situations like these I don’t need to sit and listen to what I perceive as disrespectful and nasty treatment….and it was probably good that I got up and left before it deteriorated even further….I also didn’t have to cross the line at the end and “threaten” her with involving our managers. At that point I was very upset and I wanted her to know it.

Being courteous in situations of outrage is something that I will have to continue to work on. It doesn’t happen very often….but it seems inevitable to avoid conflict with others and I need to be thinking of how I want to react when it happens.

Is my life a reflection of who God is in me? Am I offering grace to someone that doesn’t “deserve” it? Do I deserve it?? Of course not….but it was given to me freely, so why would I withhold it from someone else?

So as you can see this is an area where I will continue to focus on and hopefully will continue to grow from as well. But I love that God uses a small group meeting to bring up conversation and contemplation about another area in my life that could use a little work!


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