Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Challenge

Today I was returning an item at Costco. I was standing at the return counter waiting, patiently I might add, when this horribly bossy, loud, rude woman came up to the counter, bypassing the waiting people in line, to literally scream about how "THIS COSTCO IS THE ONLY ONE THAT DOESN'T HAVE A COFFEE GRINDER!! "She was losing her sh$% about coffee beans being ground. Really? Is this what's become of us? Losing it over coffee beans?
Maybe it's the work I do, but I am becoming less and less tolerant of the "coffee bean" situations in the world.  I realize that there may certainly be extenuating circumstances which made this woman lose it over coffee. Maybe she had a crap day, week, year? But this situation made me think of the people who truly are suffering through the holidays. I think of the people I have worked with that have lost loved ones in car accidents, to cancer, to strokes. I think of moms and dads who I have helped say goodbye to their babies and kids in the ER and truth be told, it haunts me. Every time I look at my Christmas tree I am reminded of so many memories I have made with my children, my husband, my family. Maybe my job has taken some of the fun out of the holidays because I literally think, "Goodness, one day some of these ornaments will be very painful to look at." I realize this isn't necessarily normal or healthy and probably speaks to some unresolved secondary trauma I am dealing with. But, what it has inspired me to do is to make the holidays brighter for those that are hurting. I am making a list of five things to do that might bring some HOPE and CHEER back into the lives of those who can't wait for this month to be over. For the people who ache at the thought of a Christmas morning because the absence of their loved ones will be so very palpable. Here's my plan..before Christmas I will..

1. Buy coffee for someone at line behind me and throw in a five dollar gift card for the next cup at Dunkin Donuts.
2. Make a batch of Christmas molasses cookies and mysteriously drop them off at a neighbor's house.
3. Make dinner for a family that could use a night off from worrying, "What's for dinner?"
4. Send my friend who lost a child a special ornament that will let her know we remember her sweet girl.
5. Buy gloves and hats with the kids and take them to the mission. My kids are old enough to know how very blessed they are to never know what it is like to escape cold and not know where you are sleeping.
So, blog readers, how about you? What can you do? Maybe it isn't five things, but it certainly can be one thing. I challenge you to seek you heart, seek your community and bring some HOPEFULNESS back to someone who may very well feel that Christmas may never be merry again! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Happy 10 years blog!

My blog is ten years old this week! I don't think I have been this consistent with something, well, umm, ever. Consistency is not something I excel at usually. I am so glad that I have continued to write here in this space. This week I have spent a lot of time reading over the last ten years of posts. Wow. The biggest blessing in having this blog is many of the things I thought at the time I would never forget or would never endure have long left my memory. One of the most difficult parts of having three kids close in age is that when they were very small we were just trying to hang on from day to day. Sometimes I feel like I blocked a lot of those days out because if truth be told, it was hard, really hard. Parenting continues to be the hardest job I have ever had. I often feel that I am not the mom my kids deserve. But, then as I read back over even the smallest victories, I feel a little better about who we are as a family and who I am as a mother.
Many of my posts chronicle my walk with my faith. The times where I have felt very close to God and times where I couldn't be farther from him. It encourages me to know however, that I have never given up. I continue to seek and believe and trust in Him.
Weight loss and dieting and attempts at living a healthier life style are also a frequent theme here. Oh, how I wish this was not such a struggle.  I wish I could say that I feel like I am balanced in all things and moderation is my motto. Nope,  never has been, but I will continue to try.
My transition from being a full time stay at home mom, to a full time student, to a third shift ER social worker have been journaled here. Those posts serve to remind me that indeed I am consistent and I did achieve a pretty difficult goal. That is one take a way I have realized throughout this journey, when I do set my mind on something, I will get it.
Love and marriage and the joys and difficulties of being in relationship with someone for over 20 years also have been written about here. I love my husband. Marriage is harder than I ever imagined it to be. I am grateful for the foundation of faith in our marriage because honestly, if we didn't have that, I am not sure how we'd get through these years where parenting and the stress of just trying to get by wouldn't threaten to make one of us throw in the towel. The other night we were snuggled up on the couch watching a movie and I looked up at Jeff and said, "I used to dream about this when I was imagining our life together, just doing something ordinary like enjoying a Christmas movie in our home together." In typical Jeff fashion he just looked at me like I was a little bit loopy, but he kissed my head and said "Me too". See, 12 years in and he knows when to throw his wife a nostalgic bone:)
I am most grateful for all the posts that chronicle specific things the kids have said and done. Stages, phases, firsts and lasts. It is all here for them to read one day. I hope when they read over these entries they will know how much they were loved and cherished. That their mom and did the best they could and were always trying to be the best mom and dad they could be!
Happy Birthday Blog! Thanks to anyone who reads here and especially for those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing or have told me you appreciate something I have written here. It is nice to know that other people can relate or take something away from this space!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Advent..a season of preparing.

This year I am determined to integrate more of the real spirit and meaning behind Christmas for our family. The kids are at ages (9,8 and 5) where they can participate in more meaningful conversations about the true reason we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ. I went to a Catholic church this past Sunday. I arrived about fifteen minutes before mass began. As I sat there praying, I felt my mind was cluttered and unable to focus on preparing my heart for church. I finally decided to mediate on one word, I chose, peace. I repeated that over and over and slowly felt my mind settling down and my prayers soon followed. The priest spoke during the homily about how Advent is about preparing ourselves for the second coming of Christ. He likened it to as the Bible says, "Christ will come again like a thief in the night." Upon first hearing this, my reaction was, "That doesn't sound fun." As I thought more about it, I considered the analogy for more than what it first appears. It won't be fun if Christ comes and I am not prepared, if my family is not prepared. If our hearts are not right with the Lord. If we are prepared I feel that it will seem more like a surprise visit from a long, lost friend. The kind where you wrap your arms around them and hug tightly thinking, "Oh, how I have missed you! I am so glad to see you!" but about a million times sweeter!
I purchased Ann Voskamp's family Advent devotional book for our family to read each night this month. It is a beautifully written book and I highly recommend it. 

 This year I want to instill in my children's hearts that God gave us the best gift we could ever receive, His son. That tiny baby, who came to make things right and offer all of us the greatest gift of everlasting life and peace.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thankful 2014

I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! Last night Kalamazoo received its first measurable snow. I am NOT thankful for the snow, but I am thankful for how beautiful it makes everything look. I think most of us Michiganders are forever traumatized by last year's brutal winter that was followed by an unseasonably cool spring and summer. NOT COOL mother nature! I have had some tough days recently. Work has been full of very difficult suffering for so many patients. Unfortunately a tragedy hit close to home at work and in my "real life" when friends of ours from our old church lost their only daughter in a car accident last weekend. One of the things that is most difficult about being an ER social worker is having to "keep it together" when your body and soul is hurting for what you are witnessing. It has been a hard week as my instinct to "keep it together" has over taken my ability to have a good cry and feel sad for my friend's loss. I am trying to do all the things I know a good social worker does to process the grief I have seen and felt myself this week. However, solace is hard to come by right now. Maybe, just maybe, listing all my blessings and wonderful things I am thankful for will be just what my weary soul needs to find its way to a happier space.

10. The way Ellie says, "I agot" instead of " I forgot" and her imagination. Watching her pretend to be a mom, teacher, teenager, brings me such joy and cracks me up!
9. Caroline's intelligence. Our girl has come such a long way from when I wrote of her struggles in late summer. She is loving school and such a smart little whipper snapper. We just had conferences and her teacher, who is such a blessing to Caroline, had so many positive things to say about her.
8. Matthew's maturity. He is becoming such a little man. We have had so many great, thoughtful conversations in recent months. Never, in a million years, would I have ever thought my naughty, drive me crazy four, five, six year would transition into such a treasure
7. My job. Sure, it has many difficult aspects. But, I am beyond blessed to have the privilege to serve individuals in some of their darkest hours.
6. My co workers. I work with an exceptional team of social workers, nurses, physicians, PCA's, clerks,etc. I have made some amazing friends through my job and can't imagine my life without my ER and Bronson people!
5. My friends. I have some great ones. From life long, college and neighbors that feel like family.
4. Faith. Still searching but through it all, I know He is there. I am so grateful for my belief in Christ and the peace that brings to my life.
3. Our home. Still want new carpet, kitchen, more bedrooms and the list goes on and on.We have become a family in this home. We have so many wonderful memories here and are blessed to have a safe place to rest our weary bones each night (or day:)
2. Jeff. Oh, how I love that man. I realized this year that I was foolishly taking him for granted. God has blessed me beyond measure with my husband. I can't imagine navigating life without his guidance, love and support.
1. My health. I finally committed to getting in shape and losing weight, again! I am proud to say I am much thinner than I was last Thanksgiving. I feel great and certainly realize how fleeting good health can be.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, I hope you are able to think of ten things that YOU are THANKFUL for. Find joy in those small moments. Be grateful everyday. Happy Thanksgiving,friends!

Friday, October 17, 2014


Jeff and I will be married twelve years in April. I have known him since I was 20. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that I have known him for twenty years. That just seems crazy. We had a horrible night a few nights ago. The kids were being shits. Sorry. but they were. They wouldn't go to bed, they were whining, it was eleven at night and I was over it. Over being a mom, over being a wife, pretty much over being a human. We both lost our tempers and I basically said, "This is not what I signed up for!" and something to the tune of "This sucks". (The tune had some more colorful words). I went up to bed, and like many nights, due to my third shift schedule, awoke at two in the morning and after tossing and turning, went down to the couch and the television. The movie, "Before Sunrise" was on. I loved that movie back in college. I swooned for Ethan Hawke and all his grunge. I wanted to meet a cute boy on a train in France and fall in love back in 1997. Instead, I met a boy from Kalamazoo in a disgusting house in East Lansing and spent many years attempting to  "convince" him that I was the one. Eventually he did discover that I was more than a friend, that he was ready for a girlfriend, that he wanted to make a life with me. The greatest gift from all those "pining" years for me, is that Jeff and I became good friends. We knew each other. We were there for each other through some difficult times. When we started dating it was almost a given that we were serious about each other and we both knew we'd eventually marry and start a family. Life twelve years later is in no way anything what I expected it to be. I thought I would love being a stay a home mom, I could not imagine wanting a career outside of "mom and wife".  I really couldn't imagine experiencing any discontent. Oh, how naive and well, I will just say it, stupid I was. People change, circumstances change, life happens. But, through it all, I will say that even on the toughest days of parenting, marriage, and hell, sometimes even existing, I love that my husband knows me better than anyone in this world. He gets me. He knows things about me that I can't and won't admit. We talk about everything, even the ugly and raw parts of our personalities.Even knowing the ugly parts, he loves me still. What a gift, what a blessing. Sometimes I find myself longing for the "Before Sunrise" moments in a relationship.  The excitement of a new relationship, discovering things about someone you don't know. But, I realize that really that comes from wanting to escape, even momentarily from the sometimes mundane parts of our life. The cleaning the house, doing the laundry, making the beds, the homework, carpooling to soccer/hockey. This season of our lives can seem like it is all about everyone but us. But, at the end of the day, when I contemplate it all, it comes back to the boy that I fell so hard for back in 1997. That boy knows me and he loves me. He puts up with a lot of crap. He had given me three beautiful children and a blessed life. He knows me. I am so grateful to be truly known and loved still.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Church woes

Church. Struggling. Is that enough of a post? That seems to sum up how I am feeling about it lately. And when I say lately, I mean the past two years. I blame myself for much of my angst, as I feel my sporadic church attendance does nothing to help my conflicted feelings. I can't help but think when I am listening to sermons, "Is this what Jesus wants me to focus on?" I packed up the kids last Sunday and headed to church. Full disclosure insists I must admit it was mostly because Jeff had an all day hockey commitment and they were driving me nuts. The idea of having an hour break and meeting God seemed like a win win. But, as I sat there, listening to a sermon that I didn't really agree with, I thought, "What is going on?" It also happened to be communion. As I sat waiting for the my little cup of grape juice and bread, I thought about my Episcopalian roots. I miss weekly communion. I think there is healing and transformation that comes with partaking in the weekly sacrament of communion. Confessing my sins before partaking in the body and blood of Christ. It has always bothered me that the churches Jeff and I have gone to over the last thirteen years do not have weekly communion.I left church feeling more restless than ever.
The girls go to the Wednesday night programming at our church. They have a a family style pizza dinner available before hand. Last night, I sat with the girls and some "important" people in the church. I had the opportunity to observe their conversation about their opinions on people who don't go to our church. I said nothing. I simply listened and honestly, I couldn't have been more dismayed. There was a man also sitting at the table, who I did have a conversation with who once he found out I was a social worker at Bronson, disclosed that he used to a be a "regular".  He went on to say that he has struggled with substance abuse for some years but had recently found sobriety and God. We had a brief conversation but I made sure to praise him for coming this far with his substance abuse struggles. I know all too well from my work how hard it is to find your way out of the hallway of the Bronson ER. As the "religious people" discussed things around us, I couldn't help but find myself watch this man. He seemed uncomfortable with the words he was hearing. Maybe I am being too critical but I felt like much of what was going on at the table seemed very judgmental. Redemption can happen to anyone, anywhere. God can meet his people wherever he wants. It might happen at our church, it could happen at a Catholic church, a college dorm, a hospital hallway. If I had said something I think it would have been, "I wonder if God cares about the particulars?" I feel, more than ever, that God wants us to meet people where they are at. God wants us to help the least of these, the "hallway people". I think God wants us to meet with him weekly but I am not convinced he cares where it is. I realize I am contradicting myself in many ways as I spoke of my longing for a more traditional church experience earlier in this post. The longing for tradition but also identifying with the values of a particular faith. I guess that's where I am at. Conflicted. I have been making time daily to pray for my faith, my family, my marriage. Prayer always brings me closer to God and reconciliation. I am not sure where to go from here? I am hesitant to make a big change because my children do love our church and their programming. In many ways I feel that trumps my struggles. Where do I go from here? I am not sure. But, certainly seeking God daily can't hurt anything.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Money language..

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that Jeff 's money minded nature can't help but find its way into our married life. He is always harping on me about how much money I have spent. He jokes that I was raised with no concept of how money works. I am not sure that is true or fair ,but Jeff and I definitely have different approaches to handling money, and the budget. I am a "seize the day, you only live once, let's just do it and think about the consequences later". Jeff is  of the " we have this much money, don't spend more." and the "you do only live once and but one day we want to retire, right?" This difference in how we handle money is a source of comedy in our marriage ,but it is also the underlying cause for strife. Jeff feels heard and loved when I attempt to manage our money and spend according to the guidelines we've decided on together. I think many people think he dictates to me what I can and can't spend. That is not the truth. We have gone through how much we spend on average on things like groceries, entertainment. etc. However,  I tend to forget this when I have reached the end of the month and I want to spend money on say..going on with some girlfriends for a drink:)
Last night we had a good talk about the things I need to feel heard and loved. As I rambled off the list of things that Jeff doesn't do, I couldn't help but examine the things I do not do. When I spend without thinking of the ramifications it will have on our budget, it is saying to someone like Jeff that I don't care. Sometimes we get nit picky about the things we aren't feeling from one another. Why can't he call me to just say hi, why are all his calls about "What did you spend $22.30 at Target for?" He probably thinks, "Why did you spend money at Target when we just talked about not spending money last night?" I have made a renewed commitment to Jeff, and our marriage, to focus on things that are important to him. To show him I respect his wisdom and decision making in this area of our lives. He is far wiser and I wouldn't want that responsibility. I respect the fact that Jeff carries a significant amount of the burden when it comes to worrying about our financial stability. This is what the man does for a living. In fact, it is one of the characteristics that I love about my husband. I love that he is great at math and numbers. God knew what he was doing when he hooked this math and budget challenged girl up with an accountant.
Twelve years into our marriage, we are still figuring out how to navigate this area of our lives. I found an inventory that was given to each of us during our pre-marital counseling. It asked each of us where we were struggle with one another. Our answers are so interesting and somewhat humorous to me, because twelve years later, the are EXACTLY the same. At the end of the day, despite how frustrating marriage can be, it is far more of a blessing. I am lucky to have a man like Jeff as a partner. He is kind, he is generous, he is smart, he is wise. Ironically, Jeff just called and said this past month was one of the best for us as far as staying in budget..maybe there is hope for us,, yet:)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Old habits die hard..

I am still on my diet. I am still losing weight. In fact, I am nearly to my lowest post surgery weight. Go me! But, I am continuing to realize what a mental game this weight loss crap is and really life changes in general. I am the queen of thinking I have mastered or conquered something in my life that is a stumbling block and then, in what seems like moments ,I have reverted back to the behavior that got me into the mess in the first place. Take for example what I have been referring to a the "peanut butter sandwich incident". Last weekend I worked. I love, love, love my job but working weekends is tough on my soul, my resolve, my body. I feel that all I do is work and sleep and try and cram some sustenance in. I am just trying to keep my head above water most weekends. Last weekend I did not do my usual prep for the diet. No veggies were sliced, no cabbage/meat stew (my favorite meal on this diet) was prepared, no chicken sausage in the fridge. What was there was a big ol' package of white bread and a Sam's club size container of JIF. What happened next was I awoke on Saturday, a mere two hours after a laid my weary head down, starving and before I knew it I was MAKING A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH ON WHITE BREAD! I took two bites and then was overcome with such a sense of  WHAT THE WHAT are you DOING?! I threw it away and took the two extra minutes it required to make one of my package ideal protein foods. I went back to bed, somewhat satisfied and definitely laughing at what a diet and really, life dork I am. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am the kind of person that, has to decide to do the right thing. I want the easy way out. I don't naturally want to work at anything. I want to be a better mom, wife, friend, dieter, human but only if it is easy. The path of least resistance is paved with peanut butter apparently! Susan Simpson, she doesn't really want to work to hard at it.  The reality is that when I don't put effort into anything I value, like my health, my marriage, my children, I sow no seeds. The soil lies parched and any dull wind threatens to blow it all away. I have realized through this specific journey with dieting, and especially in this season of my life, how much our mind controls even the smallest actions. My mind wants to trick me into thinking, "Just have that damn sandwich, it doesn't matter." But, it does matter. Old habits will die hard and you won't be able to teach an old dog new tricks if you don't fight for it.
When I began this diet plan, I had no intentions of going past September. I am proud to say I have reached the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the summer. I actual set a goal and completed it. But, in achieving this goal, I have realized how much my mind wants to limit my body. My Ideal protein coach made a great point when we met this week. She basically said, "Your head wants to keep you at a certain weight, a certain size, your heart and your body can blow that out of the water. " Amen, sister! In these last six months before I turn 40, I want to blow the old Susan Azzaro Simpson out of the water. I want to challenge her to become more than she could ever imagine. I want to see how we can not only improve her health, her body and her fitness level ,but also how we can change those toxic ways of thinking and in turn acting.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Caroline, age 8

When I was little I so loved the Beverly Cleary "Ramona" books. I especially loved "Ramona Quimby, Age 8". I think I loved Ramona so because I could relate and identify with her. She was spunky, she was creative, she was mischievous and spicy and she wanted so badly to be loved and understood for exactly who she was. My Caroline, who will be 8 on October 12th, is my own personal "Ramona". Caroline is spunky and sweet, fiercely independent, tremendously creative and a talented artist. She is driven and will never take no for an answer. As I have admitted even recently, this has been,at times,  a source of great strife for me. I think, with Caroline and me, we collide sometimes because we are one in the same. It seems it is a constant battle of the wills which can get pretty ugly when you have two ladies who know their minds and relentlessly hold onto to our stances to the bitter end. Still, even with the struggles, I am so very grateful to have been blessed with such a force as Caroline. She is complicated, and I appreciate that. Caroline isn't easily won over or convinced but once you have her heart, her friendship, her love, she is fiercely loyal. She has never been a girl who needs to have lots of friends surrounding her and rather chooses her friends thoughtfully. I love watching Caroline compete in soccer. This is where her competitive and determined nature truly shines. She will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. I am so hopeful and look forward to all the wonderful things Caroline will be able to do with her gifts. Counseling began over a month ago and has been wonderful for her. We are all learning skills to help her have a better handle on her emotions and reactions to others and most importantly she is learning to love herself, a gift I am sure will only continue to serve her well. She has a wonderful second great teacher who I believe "gets" her and is allowing Caroline to be herself. I am so thankful. Eight years ago when Caroline was delivered via c-section, she literally was brought out of my body screaming crying and then she suddenly stopped and had one eye closed and the other seemed to be eyeing me, like she was taking us and especially me in. I remember thinking at the time that it seemed unusual that a newborn baby would take appraisal of her surroundings. I like to think she was thinking, "Well, this  life thing should be interesting, and lady, I am going to give you a run for your money." :)  Caroline does give us a run for our money but she has brought our family so much joy and passion. I am confident and hopeful that when I look back on  parenting Caroline I will realize she brought out the best of me and herself one day. The world truly is hers for the taking. Happy Birthday to the sweetest, spunkiest, squeakiest Caroline. We love you "Caroline Simpson, age 8"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ellie is FIVE!

Five! My baby is five! Where did the time go? Well, technically she is not five for another six days but it's going to be a crazy week with summer ending, a mommy whose working all weekend and school starting. I was just reading back on a post I wrote when I found out that I was pregnant with Ellie. I remember that day so vividly. We were NOT planning on adding a third child to our family. In fact, I remember standing in the family room, positive pregnancy test in one hand and the phone trembling hand in the other, as I called Jeff. We felt so overwhelmed at the time with the two and three year old we had. Six years ago I wrote, "We feel very ill equipped to be adding another kid to the mix". Five years later, I can say we can not imagine a world without Elizabeth Jane Simpson. She is sweet, she is spicy, she is creative, she is a snuggler, she can be a stinker, she is a daddy's girl. Ellie says the funniest things and loves to act much older than she is. Her favorite show is Lab Rats or Doc McStuffins. She loves food, especially junk food. Corn dogs top her list of favs. She likes to stay up late and sleep in! This summer Ellie learned to swim and dive off the diving board. She tried her hand at tee ball and was not a fan! We are waiting another year and then might try soccer! Ellie adores her big sister and brother but definitely knows how to drive them crazy and aggravate them:) Ellie was headed to Young fives ,but after they change some things we decided kindergarten would be a better fit. We think she will do well and she can't wait to have all of the kids in the same school. Truth be told, this mom can't believe after nine years, there will be no more babies at home. There truly are seasons to life and especially parenting. Time and time again Jeff and I say to each other, "When does it get easier? When will we not feel overwhelmed all the time?" We are starting to see glimpses of that world. But, we also realize that every season has its challenges and it will never get easy! This fall all of the kids are involved in tons of activities and sports and it will be a busy year. Jeff and I are often passing ships, with one kid needing to be here or there and a third shift worker needing to sleep, life can seem like a blur.  We're looking forward to a new year, new teachers and new adventures! Happy Birthday sweet Ellie Bellie! We are so thankful that God knew that we needed a little spitfire girl in our lives!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I have never hidden the fact that I struggle with nearly every aspect of parenting on this blog or in my life. TRANSPARENCY is my theme:) I also have been fairly candid about my struggles with parenting Caroline. I love my middle girl with all my heart. She is driven, passionate, artistic, caring, sweet, smart as heck, athletic and the list goes on and on. But, she has tested every fiber of my being. Parenting her has taught me some very ugly truths about myself. I am inpatient, quick to criticize, I speak without thinking, and react in anger when dealing with her. Many times my interactions with Caroline have brought me such shame. Most days I struggle with parenting and feel so defeated. I realized earlier this summer that my struggles with parenting were impacting my life in a variety of ways. When you know you are messing up majorly in one area of your life you can't help but wonder how that affects the rest of it? But, for a long time I have struggled with how to handle it, where to turn to get help. I have gone to counseling in the past but it didn't seem to have any lasting changes on my parenting. I literally didn't know what to do, so I basically have just ignored it.
Well, last week we discovered through some pretty horrible circumstances that our girl is struggling more than we ever thought. We are devastated. We have always had the goal of shaping Caroline's spirit, not breaking it. I am afraid that right now, our sweet girl has a very defeated and broken spirit. We have decided that rather than bury our heads in the sand through this crisis, we will fight to help Caroline rediscover all the wonderful things that make her the fantastic girl we know and love. We have enlisted the help of a counselor who will work with our whole family to become healthier and stronger. We need to learn how to communicate better, discipline more effectively, love more unconditionally. We are so sad that it took a crisis in our child's life to get us to this point, but we are moving ahead optimistically and enthusiastically. I pray that Caroline never again doubts the love we have for her. I debated whether this was appropriate for my blog. But, like I said earlier, I am pretty open about my struggles. We are struggling. We covet all the well wishes and prayers you can send our sweet Caroline's way!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weighty issues

So on June 1 I began a diet. I have shunned diets for years. The word diet seriously makes me start to sweat, because for as long as my memory goes back, I have been all too aware of weight, especially my own. I have always struggled with my weight. It has been a source of much strife in my life. I don't like to even think about how much pain this struggle has caused me over the years. If I ever hear another person say to me, "Your face is so pretty" I will die. When I hear that, my take away is "BUT YOUR BODY IS NOT!" Unfortunately this approach , of not dealing with the issues, usually ends up with me not dealing at all with healthy living and then I gain more weight! After having surgery seven years ago, I have been able to keep off a large amount of weight. But, this past year, I have let life and FOOD get in the way of healthy choices and saw my weight creeping up to a yucky place again. I have faced the reality that I will never be a size 8. But, one day this spring, as I felt my pants getting tighter, I thought to myself.."What the hell, are you going to eat your way to the next size?" A dear friend of mine had done a diet last year and had great success from it. I had contemplated doing it but because of my distaste of diets, I was reluctant. Then one day, my mom told me how she ran into a friend she had not seen all winter, and she had lost a ton of weight on the same diet.  I don't know what happened? Maybe I thought it was a sign from the heavens, maybe I was all too aware of how out of control my eating was, but I signed up the next week. I started June 1st. I have lost a considerable amount of weight. I feel great in many ways, but I am also just beginning to get to the root of the impact of  thirty nine years of weight issues. I am realizing how much I sabotage myself. I am realizing how much I don't believe in myself or give myself credit. I am realizing how incredibly selfish I am. I am realizing that if you don't deal with issues they don't go away, they and you just get bigger. Above all I am realizing, for the first time in all my years of knowing and being married to Jeff, that he has never seen me for my weight. We were talking about my heaviest weight the other day, after I found a horrible picture, and I asked him what he thought of me back then. He just looked at me and said, "You know, I don't even remember, you've always just been Suzie." And that sentence, made up for any shortcoming that man has. He loves me for me. Sure he wants me to be healthy, but he is there for me, quite literally through thick and thin. This truth has been at the heart of  my weight struggles. Not feeling like you're good enough, sucks. It has caused me to make some horrible decisions over the years. Trying to find ways to make myself feel good in unhealthy ways, whether it has been too much alcohol, toxic relationships, or eating a whole box of thin mints, is how I have coped for far too many years.  As much as I have always felt that losing weight would magically make this feeling go away, it usually only makes me more aware of where I feel I am not good enough in my life. The struggles I have with mothering and marriage and being a good enough friend, good enough social worker, all contribute towards my feelings of inadequacy. Being the mom of two girls, I have been very aware of how my own body image affects my girls. I want them to have respect for themselves and others. I want them to be healthy. I want them to be able to know when they want an oreo or a carrot. How many of us never really know when we are hungry for something? I have realized over the past handful of years how mindless eating can be. I don't want that for my kids. I want them to pick partners who will say to them that they love them for their minds and spirits, not just their bodies.
I'm sure as I continue on this journey that I will discover more truths about myself. It is hard work but I'm game. Dang, will I be one together chick by March and the big 40 or what?!

Friday, July 18, 2014


Last Sunday I went to church for the first time in a very long time. I am ashamed to admit I can't even rememeber the last time I had been. I am sure I could say that I would go more if I didn't work every other weekend. But, really I am sure there are plenty of people who work nights and still manage to go to church every weekend or at least every other. The truth is we tend to get out of the habit of going in the summer. Just typing that makes me feel guilty, the "habit" of going to church. I'm pretty sure that attitude does not please God. I have shared here before that I feel a bit like I have been drifting the past few years when it comes to connecting to church and faith. A lot of that has to do with some struggles with the changes in how my beliefs have evolved over the last few years. I feel like I could drift from church to church to church and still I would struggle. Because in reality, all churches have their issues and at the end of the day I feel church is where a believer goes to worship and serve God, not soley to be served. I was talking to a friend last night how I miss being connected to a small group. Having that type of accountablity was so good for Jeff and I, and we developed some solid friendships through them in our previous church.
The last time I wrote I talked about how my life in many ways felt that is was "off the rails.". It has been about eight weeks since that time. Many positive changes have taken place in my life since then. For the first time in a long time, I am making my health a priority. I chose to do a pretty radical eating plan/diet to get myself back on track and am happy to report that I am lighter and feel amazing. I think I felt if I got "control" over things like what I eat and drink, the rest would take care of itself. While I do feel much better than I did eight weeks ago, I continue to  greatly struggle with other areas. I can't help but feel there is a direct connection with these struggles and my lack of balance and feeling firm in my faith. I feel like God continues to shake his head at me and is thinking, just get it together already. I think my approach to my faith has been largely selfish these past few years. What can I get out of a sermon? What does this church have for my kids? What is most convenient for me? The consquence of this selfishness being that I continue to feel very far from God and many of my thoughts and actions reflect this distance and drifting.
So...doing better with half of my life, but continuing to struggle with the other, and many would say the most important and meaningful part of life. I gave myself the timeline of my 40th birthday to get it together. Thank goodness I still have eight months to work on figuring it all out. I am sure God is just shaking His head and thinking.."Oh dear girl, it ain't that hard.."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Be the change..

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

This quote has been in my mind a lot lately. Some work things have been hard lately and some life things have been as well. I find it ironic that often I find myself in a position of giving advice  when I am talking to patients who are struggling with a variety of issues and yet  I struggle to , "practice what I preach". The result of this lack of action in my own life is feeling pretty dang shitty about myself. How can a person have so much education ,experience, common sense and still mess up? Because we are and I  am..human.  Sometimes as much as we want to make the best choice or take  the road less traveled we instead find ourselves on that same road, that same path of destruction. Lately, I feel like I wake up many days and think..What the hell is going on in my life? I read a lot of blogs, most of them written by woman who fall into similar demographics as me. Married, mommy, daughter, working and you know what..WE ALL STRUGGLE. I think that part of my problem with my various struggles is that I have wanted so badly to  deny that I am struggling. No one really wants to be the person, friend, spouse, sibling, etc that is walking around complaining about how much they screw up. I want to be the woman, social worker, mommy, friend that has it mostly together. (Notice I am not saying all together! Apparently I do have some sense.) But, somehow I think changing what I do not like that I do or say will happen magically. My first semester of graduate school I had a professor who asked us to write a paper on the topic of how a person goes about change in their lives. The stages ranging from recognizing what you would like to change and then doing it. In theory it seems simple enough but in actual life, I have realized that it is much easier to stay in the contemplating stage of your problem, or what you want to change than to actually get off your butt and change it. I think I have finally gotten so sick of my current path that I actually will take the flipping steps to change. Am I making any sense here?? I am starting to think that as forty approaches it is time to truly figure how who I am and what I want to be. By the time March 25, 2015 arrives and with it the big 40..I want to have a better handle on me. I have had thirty nine years of living. All of those years have helped to shape who I am . I can't help but feel that at times I am just beginning to know who I really am. I feel like part of this next nine months, before I turn forty, is to discover who the real Susan Simpson is. She may be a little tattered, and there may be some wounds that I have been denying exist from the past, but with some hard work, dedication and certainly grace, she can find her way to a happier, healthier way of existing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nine years

This weekend marks nine years that we've lived in Michigan. Both Jeff and I were raised in Michigan. Jeff grew up in Portage and I consider Midland my home town.  It seems like a very long time ago that we packed all of our belongings and a three week old Matthew and headed north! We desperately wanted to raise our family in Michigan, closer to Jeff's family and in a more reasonably priced area! Not to say that we didn't love our Chicago years. Both Jeff and I moved to downtown Chicago when we graduated from MSU in 1998. When we moved to Chicago, we were just friends. We didn't start dating for two years, but we had many mutual friends and hung out all the time. I have never had more fun than during those single, Chicago days. Cubs games, gorgeous Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop, just blocks away from your apt, great bars, laid back people..GREAT times were had in Chicago. But, once we started dating, and eventually married, the reality of what it would mean to live and raise a family in downtown Chicago, had us high tail it out to the suburb of Rolling Meadows where we bought our first home, a sweet little town home. At 202 College Crossing, we went from a couple to a family when we welcomed Matthew at the end of April. Desperate to stay at home with my little guy, I began looking for job for Jeff in Michigan the year before. He was working for a CPA firm back then and barely had time to sleep, let alone job search. I remember him meeting his prospective bosses from Borgess at a bar in Mattawan for his interview, which had to take place on a Sunday, his only day off during the busy season. He came back saying he thought it went well(and that it had to be a good sign that they wanted to meet him at a bar), and a few days later we knew we were headed to Michigan. Soon after I was put on bed rest and so Jeff went house hunting all by his lonesome, armed with an extensive list of my "must haves" and a video camera. I still can't believe we bought a house without me ever actually laying eyes on it! We had Matthew, and thanks to my mom coming to save the day and literally packing everything, were soon on our way to Portage.
So much has happened over the last nine years. We added two more kids, we've gone through many stages, from the baby and toddler years to now having three school aged kids! We've met some awesome people in Portage and feel very blessed to have some wonderful neighbors who've become friends. We love living close to Jeff's mom and feel so thankful for the love she's poured into our kids. Portage is a great community with good people. I can't think of a better place to raise a family. This house, that I never saw, until I owned it, has been good to us. Sure, I'd love to change some things but I can't help but love this house we've become a family in. From a three month old Matthew, to two little girls who share a room and lots of mischievous nighttime giggles, Christmas Eve spent with our good friends and neighbors the Maynards, bonfires with gaggles of neighborhood kids clamoring for smores and adults clamoring for one more beer! Lively discussions and heartfelt talks on neighborhood decks. The annual caroling party that we've held for the past four years. Lots of good things have happened here and I doubt anyone has ever noticed that our carpet is worn and stained:) Living in a great community where you feel you belong and know without a doubt that you could count on  in good times and in bad is something I don't take lightly. We have loved these last nine years and the memories we've made and look forward to many more years of fun to come and maybe, just maybe, carpet!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Backpacks filled with unrealized potential...

I can't believe I have been mothering for nearly a decade. Sometimes it seems like I have just begun this journey. Of course other times it seems like I have been doing this forever. When I was little I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I was the kid that was always pretending to be the mom. I had elaborate "houses" and pretend "kids". My imagination vividly created a world where I had lots of children and I was always the perfect mommy. I couldn't wait to grow up and have those dreams realized. As I grew older, I babysat all the time, and even as a young professional left social work for a period of time to nanny for two precious little girls in Chicago. I fully admit that BEFORE I had
kids, I thought I had all the answers. I was so smug, watching other people's kids, judging and always thinking, "When I am a mom I will never or I will always." Oh how I have eaten crow over the last nine years. What an idiot I was. While nannying children is a noble and sometimes difficult job, it has NOTHING on the real deal. Yes, I have loved and cared about the children I have watched during my babysitting years, but it pales in comparison to the love and investment I have in my flesh and blood. I never realized how much shame would be associated with mothering. I read an article by Jen Hatamaker last year about how most moms are "limping to the finish line to summer vacation." I feel like the Simpsons are limping from about October. For real. We never have gotten into a good homework rhythm . Our library books get sucked into the abyss,  our backpacks are filled with old cheese it crumbs and unsigned permission slips. Matthew's star of the week that was to be turned in around September is just getting finished now. The icing on the shame cake came yesterday in the form of a stern talking to from Matthew's piano teacher who basically said, "If he's not going to practice ,you're wasting my time and your money." Ouch. Sometimes I take solace in knowing that I am doing the best I can. But, more often than not, I feel ashamed because really, I am not. I could be more organized. I could forgo relaxing sometimes and get shit done. (Sorry, I felt the word was needed there) For awhile I blamed my working nights, but really, its been a year. I am used to the schedule so that is a sorry excuse. I have grand plans to get our crap together starting this summer. We've hired a nanny and she seems pretty on top of things, Oh, the irony that a nanny will end up getting this mom on the right page. Thankfully the kids are pretty bright and their academics have not lagged yet. But, as they grow older I know that we won't be able to get away with how we've approached their academics. That, and we certainly aren't setting great examples of how to be independent learners and establishing good study skills that will be needed as they enter middle and high school.
I guess I am wondering if I feel this much of a mess nearly ten years in, when will it start to get better? As they mature, their lives only get busier. This Spring sports season alone we have three kids playing some form of baseball, plus soccer for Caroline. We are running around like chicken with our heads cut off. At the end of the day, I don't like what being lazy about all this school business makes me feel like. We can do better. They say that the first step toward change is acceptance. I accept the mistakes I have made with Matthew and Caroline's schooling and really want to change that. I will even accept a 23 year old nannying showing me the way:)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Eleven for Eleven...

Jeff and I celebrated eleven years of marriage on Saturday. I thought in honor of the occasion I would make a list of eleven things I have learned or appreciate about marriage. Here goes nothing..

1. On April 26, 2003 I really had no idea how hard marriage would really be.
2. I love watching Jeff parent our children. Nothing makes  me prouder. Our children are so very blessed.
3. I am so grateful we took a luxurious honeymoon. I have no idea when we will ever have the time or money to do something like that again.
4. Even though it sometimes drives me crazy, I appreciate Jeff's conscientiousness about money!
5. I love that Jeff supports my career goals and helps me be a third shifter! I can't imagine doing it without his support!
6. I love that we truly balance each other out. Jeff's personality compliments mine in so many ways.
7. I wish I had taken the generous amount of money my parents offered us in lieu of the big wedding and had invested it in our future.(But the big ol'wedding and party sure was fun!)
8. I am grateful that Jeff and I have a shared faith and belief in God. It is truly the rock that hold this marriage together.
9. I love that no one knows me like Jeff. To be married to your best friend, someone who knows the ugliest and worst parts of you and loves you still, priceless.
10. I am grateful for the example my own parent's marriage of 43 years has set for us. What a legacy.
11. Above all, I am grateful for every moment of these last eleven years. Like I said, I had no idea what I really was embarking on eleven years ago. I certainly was naive and idealistic. I suppose that is good and the way it should be. I would hate to begin my marriage believing and hoping for anything but the best. As time goes on, I realize there are many hard days, but every day is better when you are known and loved. Believed in and forgiven, cherished, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, till death do us part! Happy Anniversary!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy Matty is nine!

Nine years of motherhood and nine years of having Matthew in our lives. I really can't believe how far we've come in nine years. I have documented all of Matthew's life on this blog. It has been such a blessing to look back over the last nine years and read about all of our adventures with "Crazy Matty" and the rest of the Simpson gang. The times I was losing my mind, the times we added a sibling, encountered obstacles such as Matthew's cerebral palsy and OT issues. Seeing how much he has matured. On the days when parenting still gets the best of me, which is MANY, this blog reminds me, time and time again, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That babies do eventually sleep through the night, that one day you will change your last poopy diaper, that you will be able to take all three kids to the store without wanting to cry your way through it. The weather today is very much like it was the day our boy came into this world. It has made me nostalgic for that day nine years ago when I thought for certain I would die from the pain of labor. When I realized how things weren't going well due to the doctor and midwife's alarm (and swearing!) as they literally sat on top of me trying to free the baby who had gotten stuck trying to make his way out. Waking up alone and scared, no baby, no husband, and a very blurry memory of them finally getting that baby boy out. Hours of waiting followed, panic growing stronger as time ticked on wondering where my baby was and if something was wrong. I remember when I finally got to hold Matthew, saying to him, "I am your mommy!" I remember thinking his coney, jaundiced face was the cutest thing I have ever seen. I remember thinking that the dream I had, for as long as I could remember, to be a mother, had come true. I have realized though the years of parenting Matthew(and Caroline and Ellie too), that I certainly underestimated parenting and motherhood in every single way. It is the hardest job I have ever had. It is the most rewarding, most demanding, and had revealed many of my deepest flaws to me. Above all, I feel overwhelmingly that I am privileged to be able to shape these little people. I pray that I am doing them justice. Happy Birthday sweet Matty man! We think you are a wonderful boy that is thoughtful and funny, caring and compassionate. We can't wait to see what your bright future holds!!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sometimes there isn't enough wine..

I am cracking myself up over here at my title. Perhaps because I have just poured myself a delicious glass of wine and am trying to survive this Spring Break. Disclaimer: What I am about to say will undoubtedly seem very, very bratty. But, this is my blog and I can be a brat if I want to!! So, for my entire childhood I was privileged to go to Florida for nearly every Spring Break. This was because my father traveled so much for business and had frequent flier miles and my uncle managed hotels and got us great deals. So, every March, I would board some airplane and lounge in the sun, soaking up all the rays I could, for the thought of NOT being the tannest person in my high school was devastating to me. Fast forward through college where I took more fun trips, paid for by my parents, and post college where I was lucky to go to places like Mexico, Grand Cayman and St. Lucia. Then, kids and jobs and being an actual adult with a husband who can never take vacation during spring breaks and student loans and three kids who can barely make it to Paw Paw on the way to Chicago let alone an 18 hour car trip to Florida. And, you have five fairly miserable people trying to make the most of it in freaking MICHIGAN. Oh, I forgot, Michigan, this winter was literally a frozen tundra of hell. Snow and cold like I have never seen in my life, and I have spent most of my life in this state! If ever there were a time that an escape to anywhere southern was needed, it was post WINTER 2014! But, for all the reasons mentioned above, we did not go further into debt to buy plane tickets, We opted instead to visit friends in Chicago, go to Shedd and have an overnight at a reasonably priced water park/hotel nearby. I have also been fortunate enough to have eleven days off work so I can spend this quality spring break time with the kids(note: this statement is DRIPPING with sarcasm and sauvigon blanc!).
One of the goals of this break, besides having great time together as a family, is to get my mess of a basement organized and the loads of crap I have stored down there for the past year, ready for our neighborhood garage sale in a few weeks. Many of you will remember that my friend Nicole blessed me with her organizational services a few years ago. Three years ago that  basement was pristine. But, fast forward,, THREE years and life has happened. Grad school, holidays, birthdays and grandparents that insist that KIDS need TOYS, has happened. The basement was a mess. In fact it was so messy that sometimes I fantasized a huge flood ruining everything in it so I could begin again. But, one day last week, my gracious mother in law offered to take the girls and Matthew was off playing with friends so I had no choice but to tackle it. I will admit that when I first went down there, I thought to myself, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!, I can't, I won't!" But, I started with one basket and soon I realized if I tackled the basement one basket/bin at a time, that it was doable. That I could make sense of the chaos that it had become. Three short hours later, the play side actually looks good. I couldn't help but see the lessons my messy basement was screaming at me. That I tend to become overwhelmed when I don't need to. That really all you need to do is take each day and sometimes each moment on and not worry about the big picture. That sometimes we do need to throw ourselves into the messy projects and miss the fun in order to have less stress in our lives. That sometimes we can feel bad that we think we the ONLY family in Portage, Michigan NOT on Spring Break. But, at the end of the day, we are blessed that we are able to have friends to visit and money to go to aquariums and movies and b-list water parks. Sometimes there are lessons for my kids and their grouchy mommy in the mess of the basement and learning to have fun and be a family, in any circumstance. And of course, there is always enough wine:) Kidding, kind of !

Friday, March 21, 2014

39 years..

On Tuesday I will be 39. I am all about my birthday. I blame my father, who for as long as I can remember has declared the entire week of his birthday..BIRTHDAY WEEK. I am a huge fan of the birthday week. I am sure I have been mocked by several people over the years , ahem, Jeff, but to those people I say..IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! This year I have to work which kind of stinks but I love my job so much that I am really not all that bummed about it. I have plans to have drinks and dinner with some girlfriends, and a date night with Jeff  planned as well. It is shaping up to be a great week. Things are going so much better for me since December. I feel hopeful and centered and back on track. The things that distracted me so towards the end of last year seem downright ridiculous to me now. Jeff and I are in a great place in our marriage. We've been connecting on so many levels and I am realizing with each passing day what a blessing he is to me. With 40 looming around the corner, I feel like some goals for this 39th year would be appropriate. What better accountability of achieving these goals than to post them here!? I am picking 4 for the big 40..

By March 25, 2015..I would like to:

1. Be a better parent. While I feel I have come a long way in my marriage, my parenting skills still could use some work! More patience, more grace, more fun.

2. Continue to be the best medical social worker I can be. To continue to learn how to best serve my patients and their families and my wonderful colleagues.

3. Continue to be intentional with my faith. These past two years have been some of the most challenging in many areas of reconciling what exactly I believe and getting right with God.

4. Be intentional in working on my marriage everyday. God has blessed me richly with a wonderful, loving, supportive husband. I undoubtedly have spent too much time taking him for granted and thinking the grass is greener in others pastures. I realized at the beginning of the year this could not be farther from the truth. But, I realize without daily work and devotion, it could all get messy again.

And I guess there is a fifth one..start eating better and working out. Because  really what set of goals would be complete without that?!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh yeah, I have kids..

Lately all my posts have been about me and my issues. Today, I am shifting the focus back to what began this blog in the first place, the three kidlets that call me mom. I love that I have nine years of stories and updates on here. I spent sometime last week reading old posts and laughing and nearly crying at how far we've come. So..Matthew, almost nine!! Still loving hockey, about to start baseball, just began piano(loves it!), has become an avid reader!(Mommy is so happy about this!). Just got an expander in his mouth as the beginning of braces begins. Still going to OT, and not being great about doing his OT homework. Good student, loyal friend, desperate to have a dog. The older Matthew gets the more I realize that there really is a light at the end of the parenting tunnel. If you would have told me when this boy was three that one day he would be a quiet, sweet, friendly, polite nine year old, I would have flat out called you a big fat LIAR. I never could imagine him maturing. Alas, he has and although he has his moments of being a typical kid, he is mostly a joy.
Caroline! Age 7.5 still loves drawing, soccer, play dates, Daisy scouts. Is the most independent girl and can almost always be found ready for school before her siblings and fast asleep at night without complaint. Caroline is still learning how to wait her turn at school (and that she can't answer every question, every time) although it's not because she doesn't know the answers, smarty pants that she is! Loves going to church and learning about God. Loves family dinner time and telling us her high and lows for the day. Great big sister to Ellie! Has the best smile and her hugs melt you because she doesn't give them out easily! Life is spunkier with our sweet Caroline.
Ellie, oh Ellie. Dramatic, expressive, sometimes a stinker face! She never has a problem keeping up with her older siblings. Loves to pretend that she's the mom, or the teenager or someone BOSSY. Great friend and loves taking the new kid under her wing. Very excited to play tee ball this year! Getting ready for Young fives or Kindergarten next fall, we're not sure yet. Screening at the end of this month will soon tell this four year old's fate. Loves to snuggle and rub your face, hand or anything else she can grab onto! Night owl like her big brother and daddy. If this little girl naps for even ten minutes, forget about her falling asleep before eleven that night. Loves to draw like her sister and is desperate for real homework.. We can't imagine life without the spunk Ellie brings.
We've had a long, cold and very snowy winter around here. We're desperate for Spring and Summer. Trips to the park, Lake Michigan, and sitting on the deck enjoying warmer weather are all things we are desperately looking forward to. The kids have asked that we look into getting a nanny for the summer rather than going to daycare. We are beginning the process of exploring what that would look like for our family. So, I think that about covers what the Simpson three have been up to these past months!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nearly eleven years in..

At the end of April Jeff and I will have been married for eleven years. We met when I was nearly 21 he was 22. We've known each other for the past 18 years. Holy cow. I sometimes can not wrap my mind around those numbers.  15 years of being in a relationship, eleven years of marriage, three homes, three kids, many jobs, many trips, many good talks, many arguments over big and little things, meltdowns, good times, they are what this marriage is made of. I don't think I really "got" what marriage, and what it truly means to be committed, in all circumstances meant until this eleventh year. This year has been by far the hardest on us. We've stretched, we've realized that those little cracks we thought weren't a big deal ended up being a huge deal. We both have come to realize without daily commitment to each other, this union is susceptible to all kinds of crazy realities. It has been one of the scariest years, but also has allowed me to grow the most in who I am as a wife, and more importantly as a woman. I read a great blog last week written by a 20 something who recently became engaged. Her wisdom on her impending marriage far exceeds my own.  Mo, at wrote that the world has taught us that there is one perfect person for us. That you can have the perfect wedding, the perfect kids, the perfect life, and if it doesn't work out, move on to find that perfect person. But, for those of us, like Jeff and me, who got married in a church and made vows before God, our marriages are based on the Word. For us, we realize there really is no perfect person or perfect life and that really, to make it, in this very WORDLY world, we are in desperate  need of the grace from our spouse and our God to carry us through year to year and throughout the seasons of marriage. I have realized this year that GRACE is truly all around me and I have especially experienced this in Jeff's love and forgiveness of me when I do not show him or treat him in the way I have vowed and am called to do. In a Christian marriage, our relationship is suppose to mirror Christ's love for the church and for us. The longer I am married, the more I realize that if we let Him, God will use our marriage relationship to draw us closer to and more like Him. I have realized some pretty ugly truths about myself this past year. Thankfully, I have also become more aware of the abundant blessings and grace I am afforded not only by my husband, but by my God. I feel like it has been a huge " A ha" moment, for lack of a better expression. This year on April 26th, I will cherish the blessing that my marriage has been in my life. To everything there is a season. I have felt like we've been in a winter of sorts this past year. I love the symbolism that our spring anniversary represents. The snow of this harsh winter will melt, the birds will sing, and things will look a little less bleak. I look forward to the next year, or forty with excitement of how God will grow us both through our union and commitment to each other.
The world says the person should be perfect for YOU. The ring should be perfect for YOU. The proposal should be perfect for YOU. The wedding should be perfect for YOU. And the Pinterest world will certainly praise YOU. (If you manage to host the perfect barn wedding, that is.)
But the WORD says it has nothing to do with you. The Word says the covenant of marriage has everything to do with God. The Word says the journey of navigating a lifetime promise has everything to do with Jesus. And the only thing perfect for YOU in the equation is grace.
- See more at:
The world says the person should be perfect for YOU. The ring should be perfect for YOU. The proposal should be perfect for YOU. The wedding should be perfect for YOU. And the Pinterest world will certainly praise YOU. (If you manage to host the perfect barn wedding, that is.)
But the WORD says it has nothing to do with you. The Word says the covenant of marriage has everything to do with God. The Word says the journey of navigating a lifetime promise has everything to do with Jesus. And the only thing perfect for YOU in the equation is grace.
- See more at:
The world says the person should be perfect for YOU. The ring should be perfect for YOU. The proposal should be perfect for YOU. The wedding should be perfect for YOU. And the Pinterest world will certainly praise YOU. (If you manage to host the perfect barn wedding, that is.)
But the WORD says it has nothing to do with you. The Word says the covenant of marriage has everything to do with God. The Word says the journey of navigating a lifetime promise has everything to do with Jesus. And the only thing perfect for YOU in the equation is grace.
- See more at:
The world says the person should be perfect for YOU. The ring should be perfect for YOU. The proposal should be perfect for YOU. The wedding should be perfect for YOU. And the Pinterest world will certainly praise YOU. (If you manage to host the perfect barn wedding, that is.)
But the WORD says it has nothing to do with you. The Word says the covenant of marriage has everything to do with God. The Word says the journey of navigating a lifetime promise has everything to do with Jesus. And the only thing perfect for YOU in the equation is grace.
- See more at:
The world says the person should be perfect for YOU. The ring should be perfect for YOU. The proposal should be perfect for YOU. The wedding should be perfect for YOU. And the Pinterest world will certainly praise YOU. (If you manage to host the perfect barn wedding, that is.)
But the WORD says it has nothing to do with you. The Word says the covenant of marriage has everything to do with God. The Word says the journey of navigating a lifetime promise has everything to do with Jesus. And the only thing perfect for YOU in the equation is grace.
- See more at:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hello,'s me, God.

One of the only downsides to my job is that I am required to work every other weekend. Working on the weekends isn't ideal for many reasons. One of which is missing church half of the month. Now I know that I could make myself stay up and go to church even though I have been up all night, but it rarely happens. This makes it easy to get out of the habit of being a regular church attender. With all my faith related angst lately, I have decided to make church attendance on my non-working weekends mandatory. So, last Sunday, I got up, got the girls and myself ready, texted Jeff, who was at hockey with Matthew,  something along the lines of.."WE ARE GOING TO CHURCH.NO DISCUSSION." and we were off.  We got the kids settled into their respective classes, found our seats in the back, because that's where we like it and listened to the Pastor deliver his message. Nothing could have prepared me for the conviction and simultaneous closeness to God I felt. The Pastor spoke about Menessah, a man who was in all ways blessed with a great life and being raised by parents who wanted him to love and serve the Lord. Unfortunately, Menessah had horridly different plans and lived a life that was anything that was pleasing to the Lord. In fact, he was about as wretched as they come. I sat in my seat listening, and I will admit, that my mind may have wandered to the spaces of, "What are we going to have for lunch?" " What do we have going on this week?" etc. I started to feel guilty and then the Pastor talked about how it's easy to ignore warning signs in our own life. He spoke of examples and here's where it got eery. One of the examples was spot on to bad decisions I have made. I distinctly felt God whispering, "You. You are here today to hear this. Hear me." I literally got chills. It continues to amaze me how God never forsakes me. Even in the midst of me forsaking Him. I felt so unworthy but at the same time I also felt that God was saying, come back to the ways you know will lead you to me. I felt hopeful for the first time in months that all was not lost when it came to my faith. Since Sunday, I have made baby steps into making my everyday world filled with steps that bring me closer to God. Having a time to read devotional, praying for my needs, my husband, my kids, my world. Choosing God. How lucky I feel to serve a God that continues to pursue me. Actually, it's not luck at all. Grace, Amazing Grace, that's what it is.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

$13 in beer bottles...

Did the title draw you in?:) One thing I hate about Jeff and I is that we are the world's biggest procrastinators. We will let some things go for much longer than I care to admit. Like the cupboard doors that have been off the kitchen cabinet for nearly two years, the broken snow blower, the missing mulching piece off the lawn mower (which means Jeff has to bag our horridly big yard, every time he mows!) and the list goes on and on. Today as I made my way through another procrastinated spot, the garage, the sight of the endless beer bottles was too much for me to take. I decided, with three kids finally back in school after THREE snow DAYS, that I could tackle this chore. I loaded them up and headed to return them. After all, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the tally add up in the machine, and the satisfaction of seeing a pile of bottles magically turn into money in your pocket! By the end I had almost fifteen dollars. I set out to do the shopping for dinner and was proud to that for once when the clerk asked, "Do you have any coupons or bottle receipts?" I could say enthusiastically, "Why, yes, yes I do!!". Well of course, as is par for the course for me, I misplaced the biggest receipt somewhere in the midst of D&W and was left with two measly receipts for 40 cents. I lamented to the clerk, " I had $13! I did!" and then, sounding like a fore lorn three year old, sadly said, " But, I lost it." I tried to spin it positively in my head, thinking, "Someone who really needed the money for groceries probably found it!" But, the cynic in my is really thinking, "No, poor people would never come to this overpriced store, it's more likely a rich person buying liquor!" Bastards. In the end I decided to laugh it off and  to NEVER tell Jeff the truth for I'd never hear the end of it.
Of course I have to make this into a life lesson for the sake of this blog, right? I guess the lesson would be that this is the STORY of my life. All good intentions with no follow through and plenty of lost bottle receipts. Ahhh, such is life. Thankfully tomorrow is another day and thanks to Jeff and his love of raspberry shock top,  there will always be more bottles to return!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year blues

2014 has gotten off to a bit of a craptastic start. I will preface this post by saying that I know I am overwhelmingly blessed. We have all the important things one needs in life. Okay, now that I have gotten that out of the way, on to the moaning and groaning. It all began around Christmas. I wrote in my last post how I just couldn't seem to get my act together during the holiday season. I never did seem to catch the holiday spirit which really was hard for me because I am such a lover of all things Christmas. Christmas rolled into New Years and the funk has continued. I feel restless and generally discontent. Worst of all,  I am not sure of how to find my way out of this abyss. It's at times like this, when I am so very thankful for a partner like Jeff. Oh, how that man knows me. We've had some pretty good heart to heart talks these past few weeks. We've set financial goals and are trying our best to make a concerted effort to work on our marriage and being a stronger, more connected couple.  I read on a Momastery post that Glennon wrote about how when she got married her parents told her they wouldn't contribute much financially towards a big wedding because really you need to get ten years in to really celebrate. How those sentiments resonate with me. I told Jeff the other night, through a tearful mini-breakdown, that sometimes it seems like so much work to be an adult. With job stress, debt stress, kid stress, relationship stress, faith stress, it sometimes can seem like every day is a struggle. I long for those carefree days of youth.
I still feel like I am in a limbo of sorts when it comes to my faith. I have been searching my heart for answers to why I seem to always have issues with my faith. The most important step in reconciling it being going to God in prayer, daily, even when I feel like I am not worthy.
On top of this emotional angst there have been broken down cars and other issues that make it easy to become discouraged. Still, I know that things could be so much worse and feel grateful for the little blessings and encouragement that have come along the way. The kids are doing great. My husband loves me. I have a job I love. I have so many lifelong friends who I am able to call on a moments notice and twenty minutes later I feel hopeful and heard. Most importantly, I have God who I know, even through my doubts, longs for me to bring him all of my brokenness and put it back together, piece by piece. Here's to hoping for happier days in this new year..