Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

What a year it's been! I would love to type up a longer post, but honestly I'm just trying to wrap my brain around the fact that 2014 is over. It has flown by. And we're hitting a whole new level of insanity (hover cars and robot butlers?) when I say that 2015 is right around the corner. So since I'm trying to digest this turn of the calendar page, here's a brief review of what we did this year. If you don't have time to go back & re-read the whole year's worth of posts, here are the highlights.

JANUARY: Read about Savannah's college decisions (or at least the start of that decision-making process) here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/01/college-decisions.html

FEBRUARY: Read about my trip to Houston with some ladies from church for the Unwrap the Bible conference here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/02/women-of-faith-unwrap-bible-conference.html 

MARCH: Read about the funny day I cleaned Samuel's room for him here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/03/today-i-cleaned-my-sons-room.html

APRIL: Read about my gout diagnosis here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-weekend.html 

MAY: I just cried (again) when I read this one, a reminder of those final days of Savannah's high school career just before she graduated. Grab your tissues & see the post here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/05/nearing-finish-line.html 

And then read about the quiet spaces of life that I found after our greatest loss of the year here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/05/quiet-spaces.html 

JUNE: The way our summer began: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/06/lets-catch-up.html 

JULY: Savannah had a wreck in July. http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/07/savannah-had-wreck.html 

And then Larry & I took a short trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/07/early-20th-anniversary-weekend-get-away.html 

AUGUST: We began searching for a new church late this summer. This post tells a little more about that: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/08/changes-ahead.html 

SEPTEMBER: I had a really sweet, memorable day in September with Jesus, Beth Moore and Katie: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-day-with-jesus-beth-and-katie.html 

Nothing real exciting happened in OCTOBER (that I blogged about anyway!), so I moved on to NOVEMBER when I celebrated my 39th birthday with this post: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/11/39-truths.html 

DECEMBER: I'm leaving you with two posts. One is a little funny: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/i-embarrass-myself-regularly.html

...and the other is serious: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/overwhelmed.html 

I hope you enjoy them both.

God bless!  Thank you for being part of my crazy world this year here on the blog!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Facebook vs. Blogging

I've fallen into a social-media-only thing.  Well it's almost solely social media that I get online for these days.  And it bugs me.  I like to write.  No, actually, I really love to write.  But somehow, over the last few years I've moved from blogging to social media-ing.  I really enjoy Facebook, but I find that I've made a mental shift somehow.

I used to mentally write blog posts throughout the day when I saw things or did things that might be blog-worthy.  Now, without giving much more thought to those moments of the day, I can pull out my phone, shoot a quick status update to Facebook, and then put it away & go on about my day.  So, all the stuff that used to spark really lengthy, thought-provoking blog posts is now being crammed into a short facebook post.  I think there are certainly things that I blogged about over the years that could have been summed up in a facebook post.  But on the flipside of that, there are tons of things I post to facebook that could make fabulous, longer blog posts.

So this coming year, that's a goal of mine.  I've got to learn to sit on those things I want to post for a short time & see if I don't come up with a blog post rather than zipping them out to facebook.

Can we call this resolution #1?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book review: Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline

A year or two ago, I borrowed a friend's copy of Lisa Scottoline's book "Look Again" and was hooked by the end of the first chapter. It was the story of an adoptive mom who got one of those "Have you seen me?" missing child postcards in the mail. She had seen the child.  It was her son!  The story digs into the moral question of what you would do if you were in her shoes.  Would you seek out the biological parents and try to return your adopted child?  Would you pretend you never saw the card?  The story was a MAJOR page-turner and had several twists that I never saw coming.  What a great book!

When another friend offered some books she had finished on facebook a couple months ago, I saw this one in her list of books & knew I had to get it.  If it was anything like the intensity of the first Lisa Scottoline book I read, I knew it would be good!  And you know what?  It didn't disappoint!

Don't Go is the story of Dr. Mike Scanlon, a military doctor who is called away from his young wife and baby daughter to serve in Afghanistan.  He doesn't want to leave, but goes to serve his country.  While he is gone, his wife dies in a household accident.  He is called home to deal with the aftermath of her death, to bury her and take care of the details of the estate and his daughter.  Fortunately his sister and brother in law live nearby and they offer to care for his baby until he can get home.

Upon his return home, he realizes that he barely knows his child, that there are secrets about his wife's death, that there were giant issues at home while he was gone.  After the initial visit to bury his wife, he must go back to complete his deployment.  Shortly after arriving back at his duty station, he is basically ordered to extend his deployment by 1 year.  He fights against the system to get out of this, but ends up having to agree to do it.  He is very worried about how this will affect his daughter who already seems like a stranger to him.

Some things happen (I don't want to give away too much!) but he ends up being able to go home early.  Sorting through the rubble of his life and trying to learn how to live as a civilian again is a very hard process.  He suffers with PTSD, flashbacks, physical/emotional pain and that's just what is going on inside of Dr. Scanlon.  The outside world is throwing some serious darts at him as well.

This book is such a great depiction of what happens in so many soldiers' lives both in the war and back home afterward.  Perhaps the details of the story are a little different for each soldier, but the message is powerful.

I highly recommend the book!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


On May 16th of this year, Larry's dad became very ill.  For ten days, we watched him slowly ease toward the grave.  It was nearly unbearable watching Larry and Samuel grieve.  The girls and I were of course sad, too, but my favorite two guys in the world took it very hard.  In the days following Jim's death, Samuel had a tough time, but eventually his grief quit looking so heart-wrenching and began to fit him like an old comfortable pair of boots.  That is not a metaphor.  He took a pair of Jim's old boots from his closet and has worn them literally EVERY SINGLE DAY since.  It is his own private way to remember his grandfather.

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

For nearly seven months now I have walked through life daily holding Larry's hand, wiping his tears, trying to support and hold him up when I was worried that he'd collapse under the weight of the grief.  Some days it's hard to put up with him, extending him grace and closing my mouth when I want to scream.  Other days it's still hard, but for different reasons -- watching the person you love the most in the world suffer is so very painful.  Having to defend their actions to others when they aren't acting quite like themselves is difficult.  The days have been long but these months have slipped by so quickly.  In so many ways it feels like just yesterday that we got the phone call from the nurse at the hospital letting us know that Jim was gone.

We began cleaning, packing, sorting things just days after Jim died.  Dishes and furniture, clothes and old suitcases.  Books and bags and old photo albums.  Trucks and old boats, piles of bricks and old metal.  Appliances and pocketknives, record albums and trinkets.  Every closet, every drawer revealing a new hidden treasure, a new item that brings tears or memories or laughter.

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

This summer, Larry's health took a hit.  I'm pretty much convinced it was due to stress.  Bearing the weight of all the responsibility for his dad's estate has been quite difficult.  He's dealt with each thing the best he could, asked for help when he needed it, and has tried to rest when he could.  His mental, physical and emotional stress have been mind-boggling.  Fortunately his employer has been extraordinarily gracious in allowing him time off any time he needed it.

In October, a giant tree fell on his dad's house -- the one where we'd been diligently working 2-3 days a week since June, destroying the entire roof, all the carpet, all the linoleum.  Last week the heater at the house gave out.  Today while we worked there, we discovered a water leak.  None of these things are devastating by themselves, but when you pile them all up on a guy who is stressed to the max already, they feel like huge, heavy weights.  Again and again, one more blow.

I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful
Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful
You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful

Today as I walked through the now almost-empty house, tented off with plastic as the paint and carpet team readies the house for more work, I found myself choked up. I didn't fight the lump in my throat as I sang to the bare walls the chorus of Selah's song "I Will Carry You".  It was written by Todd and Angie Smith, meant for their infant daughter who they lost at birth, but in my mind today, it was about the weight of carrying my husband through this most difficult year of his life...and of God carrying us through all of it.  I whisper-sang it as I looked in each room, taking in the 40 year old wallpaper left on his bedroom wall that will soon be covered in paint, the stacks of trinkets in the only room that was undamaged by the tree.  As I recounted the past seven months in my mind, I was overwhelmed by the range of emotions we've felt as we worked in my father in law's house.  Those early days when painfully sorting through silverware was about as much as Larry could muster the strength for.... the laughter of finding yet another jar of old keys, or uncovering the 500th pair of reading glasses.  The exhaustion on the 100th trip to the salvage yard with yet another trailer full of old metal stuff.  Somehow, watching him trudge this road has been both tiring and beautiful, heart-warming and excruciating.  And as I sang I was overwhelmed by how honored I am to be the one God chose from the beginning of time to be Larry's helpmate, the one who would carry him through all this.  I am overwhelmed in knowing that when God created me in my mother's womb, He knew that 40 years down the road I would be walking through this house, today, thanking Him for making me Larry's wife, for letting me be his cheerleader, his coworker in all this.

How powerful a reminder of our great big God and all He walks through with us.  The toughest, hardest, ugliest, messiest stuff of life that we deal with.  When we scream and wail, when we laugh and cheer, when we stare into space at the mundane routines of life, He is walking alongside us.

Looking at this empty house where my husband grew up, considering all the memories he made there before he even knew me, I got sappy and found myself praying.  

Thank you, Jesus, for letting me be here, in this season, in these hardest of days.  As hard as all of it is, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but walking this road, right by Larry's side.

You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful
Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful
You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful

You are Glorious, You are Glorious
Oh God, there is no one more Glorious
You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious 

(Words in italics are the lyrics to Big Daddy Weave's song "Overwhelmed".)

Monday, December 8, 2014

I embarrass myself regularly.

Perhaps no one else will think this is funny, but it is funny to me in a crazy, blonde, airheaded sort of way!

On my drive to work, I passed a friend named David in the highway.  He was going in the opposite direction & spotted me first.  He waved as he passed me.  It took a few seconds for my brain to register who I was seeing.  At my next stop (a mile later) I pulled out my cell phone & sent him a text saying "Hi back!"  That's when all the craziness began.  The text conversation that followed went like this.

David: Umm...hi?
Me: {thinking it odd that he'd already forgotten passing me & waving} Sorry I didn't wave back this morning when I saw you in traffic.
David: You saw me?
Me: Yes.
David: Where?
Me: On Highway XYZ {edited for my safety!}, going toward {town name}.
David: Oh, okay. Who is this?
Me: {laughing to myself because my text signature has my name in it} It's Liz Reeves. Wait...is this David W?
David: No, this is Jordan A.
Me: Oops! Sorry! I have this # saved as David W in my phone. I guess he changed phone numbers at some point & you have his old number.
David, err...Jordan: I thought maybe it was really someone I knew because I was on Highway XYZ this morning!
Me: How ironic! Well, sorry about that. Thanks for understanding. I will delete this # from my contact list now.
Jordan:  Well if you ever want to talk...
Me:  Ha ha!  Well you have my number and I'm on facebook.
Jordan:  Okay.  I'll look you up.

HOURS later it occurred to me that some Jordans are male.  All that time I was thinking I was speaking to a woman!  I figured one more friend is no big deal & it would be a funny story to tell people when asked how Jordan and I met.  Then it struck me that this Jordan person might have felt like I was flirting if it was a guy.  Oh my Lord.  I can sure get myself into weird messes.  I texted Jordan this afternoon & stated that I was sorry about the confusion and clarified that I am a happily married 39 year old woman and if my messed up conversation and invitation to look me up on facebook came across as anything more than just a random funny meeting, I was sorry.  I got no reply.

When I got home, I checked.  Sure enough.  My friend request from Jordan proves he is an 18 year old boy.  And I somehow completely misread his name.  It was JACOB not Jordan.  Oh my soul.  I am so embarrassed!  Hopefully he doesn't think I'm some creepy cougar!  LOL!