Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The journey for contentment

Tonight I was driving to dinner to meet up with the girls in our community group and was thinking about how blessed I am that God has put these women in my life.  They organized a dinner for us to get together and celebrate Parker Grace's upcoming arrival.  They made me feel so special and I am blessed to get to share life with these women! Our group consists of 7 couples and we started meeting early in 2012 and are really growing closer with each meeting.  It's amazing how much I learn and grow from these relationships.  Some of the husbands came and helped us move on Saturday which was a HUGE help.  This is what the "church" is all about.  Being in community and fellowship with people and sharing life together...all of the ups and downs as we seek to grow in our relationships with Christ and each other. 

I am thankful that I can be open and honest about things that I'm struggling with because let's face it, we all have our issues and short comings.  I was honest and told the girls that I've really been having struggles with contentment.  I know this will be a struggle for me my entire life but I am determined to work on it and can see that God is showing me areas in my life that MUST change.  For example, He has provided for Ben and I in SO many ways and when we were newly married and living in Austin I was waking up in the middle of the night having anxiety/panic attacks about our financial situation and He really stretched me spiritually and showed me that I had to TRUST Him in all things and all circumstances.  He brought us through and although we are still on an uphill climb, our perspective has completely changed about money, how it's spent, saved, etc. and just about what's important in life in general.  However, I still battle materialism, entitlement (delayed gratification isn't a term I like very much!), and such on a daily basis.  When we were in our rent house, I'd make jokes about bad things about it and how much better things will be when we got in our new house.  We just moved in this past weekend and I already find myself thinking "wow, it's smaller than I thought", "gosh there are so many dated things I need to change like these gold brass light fixtures" and the list goes on and on.  I'm not saying I haven't been excited about this home and that I haven't noticed some of the amazing things about it, including the fabulous paint job that my parents and Ben did as they painted almost every room in the house!  I just recognize that these negative thoughts that are creeping in are robbing me of the joy God wants me to experience.  This is our first home that Ben and I have ever owned, the home we will watch our sweet baby girl grow in, and it's WONDERFUL!  I am so blessed so why do I start saying or thinking negative things about the amazing gifts God has given me?  As one friend said, we are always trying to fill a void in ourselves with (fill in the blank) thinking that it will make us happy and when it doesn't bring true happiness or fulfillment, we pick something else.  It's a never ending cycle and as long as I'm putting my joy and happiness in things I will never feel satisfied or content.  I know in my heart what's important in my relationship with God and others.  No one that I truly care about cares about the size of my house, the kind of car I drive, the type of clothes I wear, etc. but yet society constantly is telling us to have the best of the best of everything and we'll be happy.  It's such a lie and I share this struggle with you openly because I want to be held accountable.  I want to be reminded of what truly matters.  I'm not saying nice things are bad to have because they aren't, it's just when we put our sense of worth or identity in the things we have or don't have, we can never be truly content or at peace. 

My last paycheck comes in July and things will get VERY tight financially as we begin this journey on one income and I know God will continue to stretch my faith and help me grow in the knowledge of what truly matters.  I know this precious daughter will help me be mindful of what my priorities are and help me stay focused when times are tough.  Hopefully I can find a part-time job in a few months but if I can't we will make it work just on one income for the time being.  When I start to think "if I had _______" then I'd be happy or life would be easier, I want to remember that there are people who are happy with a lot less than I have.  I mean, I've been on mission trips to Guatemala and seen people living in mud huts. Seriously, why do I struggle so much?  I feel guilt for that but then I realize, I am human and I have struggles, sin, and so on.  I want the conviction I feel to help change my thoughts and actions because I'm way too blessed to let this negative junk steal my JOY!  We all have our battles.  If you can relate to what I've shared and have any tips that have helped you please share!

When Ben and I made the decision that I would quit teaching for a period of time and I was really nervous about the unknown, a sweet friend reminded me that God will provide for our needs not necessarily all of our wants.  I am so thankful to have people in my life that God uses to help challenge me to be a better person while still loving and accepting me just as I am. 

Thank you to my sweet community group for the delicious cupcakes, gift, and most importantly GREAT conversation and laughter!  Neely, we will have to take another pic with you in it the next time we are all together! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I am weak and He is strong

Wow, what a day...I have been meaning to post for months and vow to do a better job of posting more than a couple of times a year! Today started as such an EXCITING day! I woke up and couldn't wait for the afternoon to come. Being pregnant, I look forward to the doctor's appointments every four weeks and today was our second appointment. As time has passed and my chances of miscarriage have dropped significantly, I've grown more and more attached to this precious baby growing inside of me. I've been elated from the beginning but also more cautious as I've watched many friends experience the pain of miscarriages. I have friends who have had miscarriages early in pregnancy as well as very late, in addition to friends that are having many trials conceiving. With all of that being said, I don't take ONE single day of this pregnancy foregranted. My heart breaks for the pain my sweet friends have endured. I know God has a plan for each of them and their families and I can't imagine what they have experienced. Their strength and faith in the midst of these trials is truly inspirational and I admire them more than words can express.

With all of that being said, I feel blessed beyond measure that I am still carrying this baby and am 13 weeks along. I thank God that we were able to get pregnant so quickly. With a variety of health factors that I won't go in to, to say that it's a miracle we got pregnant so quickly is an understatement. God continually reminds me that He is in control and I am not. My friend, Meagan is having a baby boy in April and she told me a great idea that she and her husband had done! They got a recorder from Build A Beart so they could record their baby's heartbeat. Once they found out a few weeks later what the sex was, they dressed the bear as a boy and have the heartbeat inside the bear. I thought that was a precious idea and what a wonderful keepsake for my baby boy or girl to have as their first stuffed animal! I went to the mall to get the recorder yesterday so we could record the baby's heartbeat at the appointment today. Ben and I were talking into it and being so dorky to make sure it was working properly. Have I mentioned yet that we were SO EXCITED!?! :) My doctor came in and she moved the doplar (spelling?) around to find the heartbeat. I've heard from many people that it takes a little while sometimes for the doctor to find the heartbeat and to not be alarmed. At first, I was completely fine but as time passed and there was still no heartbeat I became very concerned. She continually moved it around searching for the heartbeat and there was no sound. I started crying but couldn't really speak because I was so overwhelmed. I started thinking, "it's happening...what my sweet friends have experienced, I've lost this baby, it's heart isn't beating" and countless other thoughts. Ben had his hand on me and he wasn't talking much either because we were both so worried. My doctor is AMAZING and is so calm and her demeanor always relaxes me. She is a true blessing from God for me because anyone that knows me, knows I'm anything BUT calm so to have someone like her as my doctor is perfect. She was very calm and said "let's go take a look in the sonogram room. I'm sure everything is fine." I continued to cry the entire time and didn't say much because I couldn't stop thinking that I was about to see my baby on the screen with no heartbeat. I was praying to God for this baby to be healthy and for everything to be okay. I felt completely helpless and remember thinking...I have NO control. God, you are knitting this baby in my womb. It is your will whatever happens and YOU are in control. We were looking at the screen but I really couldn't tell what anything was until she started pointing out different parts. She zoomed in on the heart and I saw the most BEAUTIFUL sight. Our sweet baby's heart was beating so fast and strong. We could see the chambers and everything looked great! PRAISE GOD! She showed us different body parts and it was amazing how much the baby had grown in the past four weeks. We saw the head, spine (we could even see the vertebrae!), feet, etc. and the relief we felt was indescribable. She said the baby is growing great and everything looks good and there is no cause for alarm. She said although it's typically common for women to hear the heartbeat at around 12 or 13 weeks, sometimes the baby is a little too small still to hear it or is in a position where we couldn't get to it to hear it, etc. Bottom line, she's not concerned at all and everything looks great. Although it was very scary to not hear the heartbeat, it was a special thing to get to see a sonogram again because typically at this appointment you don't. We'll just take our little recorder back to the next appointment in four weeks! :)

My point in sharing all of this is because I want to remember this day. I want to remember the helplessness I felt, to remind myself that I am weak and God, the creator of the universe, is strong. He is in control of every aspect of our lives although sometimes I'm too fixated on my agenda and my plans to recognize it. All I can do is surrender control and trust in His plan for my family and pray that this precious blessing from Him continues to grow and develop. I told my mom that I'm sure this is one of the MANY moments I'll feel as a mom when I'm completely helpless and have no control over what is happening to my child. She said it will be like that from now on and I am beginning to understand what a mother's love is all about. It's all consuming, it's the most powerful bond I've ever felt and like I told my doctor after we saw the sonogram, this baby is my everything. He/she is God's child and Ben and I are blessed to be this baby's parents to love and care for him/her to the best of our ability with God's help and guidance. We can't do it alone. We are not in control and my oh my, I was definitely reminded of that today!

From the devotional Jesus Calling....TRUST Me by reliquishing control into My hands. Let go, and recognize that I am God. This is my world: I made it and I control it.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

Please continue to pray for our growing family and the health of Baby Brantmeier.
Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

I am thankful to share this journey with you all!