"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So. . . What is Krissy Planning for Next Year?

Perhaps THE most asked question around here is what Krissy plans to do after she graduates from high school in May.

I hope you will never guess!

One of the things I pride myself in is knowing my kids.  I do my very best to know and understand each of our kids as individuals.  I typically think I am pretty good at it.

However. . . Krissy shocked me BIG time this fall when she announced that what she wanted to do after graduation is join the National Guard.  I had never considered that for her.

Do NOT get me wrong.  I am NOT against the plan - I just did not see it coming.  Krissy is typically anti-uniform and anti-physical exercise and anti-following orders.  I never, ever expected her to consider military life.

The first month after she told us of her National Guard aspirations was rough.  While she had fully thought through her plan, she had even met with a recruiter - we were about 12 steps behind.  We kept asking "have you considered" types of questions.  She was totally frustrated, because she had! As we kept questioning her logic, she felt like we were not trusting her judgement or supporting her plans.  It took some time, and many conversations  - including an embarrassing meeting with the recruiter complete with momma bursting into tears - but we are all on the same page at last!

Although Krissy really wanted us to sign for her so that she could join the guard before she turns 18, which would mean she could head to basic training right after graduation, we have refused.  As I tearfully explained to the recruiter, I feel very strongly that joining the military is an adult decision.  I totally support her decision.  I have promised to drive her to the recruiting office on her 18th birthday - July 9 - so she can sign.  After, I will take her out for a celebration lunch.  I will send her care packages to Basic, and she will have my complete support throughout her service in the Guard.  However, since she will more than likely be deployed, which comes with significant risks - including death - I need her to be completely responsible for her choices.  If she would be killed or wounded as a part of her service, I can not spend my life wondering if she would have made the same choices had we made her wait.  As I explained (through my tears, totally embarrassing both Krissy and myself) to the recruiter, "You can not ask a mom to do that!"

So, she will go with plan B.

She will sign on her 18th birthday.

She will head off to Basic about 120 days after signing.  She will go to AIT following Basic Training.  Then she will return home, live with us, and work full time until school starts in the Fall of 2015.

She will head off to NDSU in the fall of 2015 with full National Guard benefits.  She plans to double major in Spanish and (perhaps) business.  Following her undergraduate work, she plans to go to law school.

She has also registered for both NDSU and BSC for next year - just in case she gets injured, or changes her mind about the Guard.  So, she has a plan and a back-up plan.

That would be my ultra-organized, completely-brilliant, oldest daughter.

Although this plan shocked me, I think it is a good one.  Joining the Guard will stretch Krissy in ways she has never been stretched before.  She will learn skills that she would never learn any other way.  She will be in the best shape of her life - for sure!  She will also graduate from college without debt.

I am feeling so many things as I prepare my heart to send her off.  All the normal momma emotions - pride, fear, excitement, sadness, joy, anticipation, curiosity, gratitude.  But the greatest of these is LOVE.  As my daughter becomes an adult, our relationship will change - just as it has continually changed through all the other ages and stages of her life - but no matter how far she goes, no matter how many things change, my love, prayers, and support will follow her.

Transitioning into the parents of adult children is something Chad and I have talked and prayed about a lot.  It may be our greatest parenting challenge yet, Krissy Jean - trying to help and support yet NOT intrude and control you, backing away enough to give you space yet not too much that you feel lost and alone.  Once again, poor girl, you will be the test-child.  Please know, beloved one, that we will do our best.  Be patient, our daughter, for we are learning, too.  We will make mistakes. As will you.  Some days will be impossibly hard.  But Jesus and Momma (and Daddy) will always love you.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Utrasound Update

It is a busy household!

I think we are all nesting.

Chad has Joshua's new room textured and ready for paint!

Krissy is sewing burp cloths and receiving blankets for me.

I am cleaning closets - aka killing time as I wait to get everyone moved into their new spaces - Joshua upstairs and his room switched for baby.

It feels good.

The news from the specialist in Fargo was all very positive.

Baby looks perfect. He has no concerns.

She weighs 4.1 lbs - give or take 10%.

And they are convinced they could see hair on her little scalp.  Her sisters were thrilled with that news!

So, now we just let her "cook" for another 8 (or so) weeks, while we get our house and my jobs in order, and then we have a baby!

Momma only has two concerns at the moment.

  1. Baby was breach during the ultrasound.  I think she always is.  Her movements feel very backwards from what I remember with my other pregnancies, and to me the heads-up position explains it.  We have plenty of time for her to flip, but you can all start praying now.  I have been looking forward to labor and delivery.  (I know, I am sick.)  I will be a bit bummed if we end up with a c-section, although I do know there are MUCH worse things!
  2. I'd really like her to be on time or just a day or two late.  This hope makes me laugh at myself!  I have always, in the past, wished for early babies.  I am a terrible waiter!  This time, since I will be taking maternity leave, I would like her to be right on time or a bit late.  I (selfishly) would like to be home until after Krissy's graduation, which will fall into place perfectly with a March 20 delivery.  I have joked that the first time I wish for a late baby, I will probably not get one!  Once again, that would be fine. . . just not my first choice.  (I would also LOVE for her to come totally naturally.  ALL of her siblings were induced.  While I have had wonderful induction experiences (pitocin and all), it would be fun to go into labor without dynamite. . . provided we make it to a hospital, that is!)
While my children have taught me much about planning, yet NOT overplanning, it is obvious I still am a bit of a control freak!  Let's just say, I have learned to roll with the ever changing plans that come along with a large family, but I still wish to have it my way.

Thank you for praying for this baby and me.  This pregnancy has been so healing to me in so many ways.  I am in awe of it all, and sincerely grateful.

(No pics from the ultrasound!  Guess you will all just have to wait a bit longer to see the outline of her little nose.  The 4D image of her sweet face was utterly amazing - but you will just have to take my word for it.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

7 Months - 32 Weeks Pregnant

Only 59 days until baby is due.

59 days!

I plan to savor each one.

I feel so good, so thankful, so full of life and love that it is nearly annoying to some.  I am very excited to have a baby in our house, but I am also in NO rush for her to arrive.  Once she is here, I will never experience the complete miracle that is pregnancy again.  So I am just enjoying each moment.  (I told you.  I am "Pollyanna the Pregnant Lady!)

Chad just laughs when people ask how I am feeling.  They always seem to expect me to be whiny.  When I gush about how great I feel they never know if they should congratulate me or commit me!

The kids just laugh at me.  When lying back in the recliner I get a bit "high centered" sometimes.  They think that is hysterical.  They also think that balancing a glass of water on the "table" their baby sister has created on my lap is hilarious.  Joshua has decided she makes a good pillow.  He likes to rest his head on his little sister while watching TV!

I am carrying this baby really low.  She likes to snuggle her feet right into my left hip most of the time.  It is not painful, but I feel her tickling the inside of my hip bone all the time.  She continues to be a serene mover.  Once in a while she gets really active, but when I place my hands over her wiggling body, she quiets almost immediately.  She does get the hiccups more and more all the time.  The best way for the kids to feel her move is when she has the hiccups.

The massive weight gain has begun.  I am up 18 or 20 pounds!  BUT - even that is not stressing me out.  There was one day when I was feeling ginormous.  I had this "I look terrible" chip on my shoulder for about half of the day, and then I realized just how silly that was.  While some tell me I am huge, and others tell me I am tiny (isn't it funny how everyone seems to feel free to comment on your size when you are pregnant?), I have decided to just feel HAPPY.  My body needs to grow and gain and stretch and change.  Whatever size that means I become, it is OK with me.  For the next couple of months, I am going to relish having NO control.  I am going to enjoy the growing and stretching and wiggles and hiccups.  I have the rest of my life to worry about the rest!

We will get one final sneak peak at this baby on Friday when we head to Fargo for a follow-up ultrasound.  Hopefully I will have some fun photos to share of this little dolly by the end of the week.

Our house is in mild chaos as Chad works hard to get a room built for Joshua upstairs.  He is doing a great job!  Once Joshua is moved in upstairs, we will start arranging baby's things.  For now they are stashed in or closet and in the front entry hall.  Even this disarray is not bugging me.

I am getting things ready for my leave at work.  I plan to work until March 21.  (I am due March 20, but I have never been early.)  I will then take 12 weeks mostly off.  I can not even explain how happy that makes me feel.  Over the summer I will work less hours in my office and more hours at home, so baby will be able to be with me (along with her siblings) most of the time.

And. . . I think we may have found day care.

Day care really, really, really freaks me out.  I can not add too many "reallys" to that sentence.  The first place Joshua was at was NOT ok.  I have honestly not forgiven myself for that.  I DO NOT trust my instincts at all.  Add to that the fact that I will be leaving an infant, and well, let's just say I have lost more than a few hours of sleep over day care decisions already.

The first person that entered my mind before I even knew I was expecting is the wife of a man we have done business with for years.  I do not know why she was front and center in my mind, I am hoping it was a God thing though - because once I finally decided that it is wisest for me to return to work after this baby is born, she was the first contact I made.  She does have an opening for this fall.  Chad and I visited with her last week. . . and I think it will be OK.

As I have admitted, the whole subject makes me sick to my stomach.  I am trying to trust that it was all aligned by God.  She was my first thought.  She has a spot.  But in all reality, I am just scared.  So pray for all three of us, ok?  (Me, baby girl, and Allison)

Here is your peak at our growing baby taken today by Ms. Brenna, of course.

For the record, I totally cheat on these pictures.  I always pick my favorite outfits and have her take them first thing in the morning when I look most rested.  Most of the time, outside of work, I am dressed in yoga pants and a HUGE sweatshirt of Chad's.  Stealing his clothes has always been one of my favorite parts of my maternity wardrobe!  One of these days, I will have to let her take a "real" maternity shot!

Such A GOOD Weekend

Chad and Jamison headed to Terry Peak this weekend for the High School Ski Trip our church hosted.  I stayed home with the rest of the gang.

Originally the plan was for Chad to have Joshua's new room ready so that I could spend the weekend painting it.  Thankfully that did not happen!

(Yep!  I did just say that!  I am thrilled that he did not get the taping and texturing done.  While I am anxious to get Joshua moved in upstairs and the baby's room ready - I am TOTALLY thankful that I spent the weekend hanging with the kids rather than painting!)

Instead of painting, I spent the weekend being a mom!  I was able to do all the things I used to do before I started working 2 jobs.  It was magnificent!

 I encouraged Brenna to paint.
Then I stayed in the kitchen and watched her create.

She is a wonderful artist.
 Joshua's favorite "project" is playing in shaving cream.
Moving mountains of shaving cream snow, while mom watched attentively, was something he and I both enjoyed!
 I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies.
(Imagine - I was a cookie baking mom by choice!  Typically, I only bake if required by a school/church assignment.  I used to LOVE baking, but I just do not have time for things like that anymore.)
 I cleaned and scrubbed - which I love - at leisure.
I also found some pretty corners in which to display Brenna's newest creations.

 We made baby Raja girl a soft, cozy, PINK tie blanket.
 Brenna painted several more canvases.
This one is her favorite.
 We squeezed 5 (including baby) in my bed for a movie.
Admittedly, it was a tight squeeze!
But it was also FUN!

In addition - I was able to get up really early and read, pray, and sip coffee in the quiet of the predawn house.  I took a daily nap.  We went to church and out to breakfast.  I caught up with putting photos from the last 12 months in albums.  I caught up the baby's book to date.  I washed all the sheets in the house, cleaned out a couple of closets, and read Joshua about 15 books.  I even had time to have a girlfriend and her kids out to play.

In my corner of the universe, it does not get a lot better.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

12 Months of Flowers

Once a month, EVERY MONTH, for the last year Chad has sent me flowers.  And while I am typically fairly frugal, I adore this tradition.  I truly look forward to it each month.

His faithfulness steadies me.
The reminder of his love for me and understanding of me (trust me, he does not love flowers) touches my heart in a very significant way.
Working is hard for this homebody.  Chad's presence in the form of flowers encourages me.
Flowers, silly or not, just have a way of making my heart happy.
The unending creativity of both GOD and my favorite florist, Tammy, always amazes me.
Walking into an office that smells like summer is just so much fun.

Thank you for spoiling me Chad (and Tammy!)  I really, really appreciate these monthly gifts.  They have encouraged me and filled me with your love in a really special way.  Thank you for loving me so well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Choosing Hope

I am coming to realize that my heart has slowly grown cold and hopeless over the past year or so.  It is amazing how this can happen.  Hope dies quietly. . . slowly.  It slips away one doubt and disappointment at a time.

It was certainly not a conscience decision.  I did not cognitively decide that I was giving up, sealing off my heart, protectively refusing to hope and dream.  In fact, I did not even really realize it was happening.

However, rather than bravely and courageously persevering over the course of disappointments - I DID indeed seal off my heart.  I built a wall of "protection" brick by brick, disappointment by disappointment.  Though it felt safer to have no expectations, no dreams - in essence to stop trying - it was not.

Truth be told, deciding to hope is refusing to allow God in.

If He is the God of Hope and I refuse to hope, I refuse God.

Looking back, I can see it.  The more I sealed myself off from hope, the more I sealed myself off from God.

Prayer was more like going through the motions than really sharing my heart.

Bible reading and study were sporadic and distant.

I chose silence over songs of praise.

As I continued to unknowingly push God away, He felt more and more distant.

Fear, ambivalence, loss if identity, and confusion all crept in.  And they grew and grew and grew.

I honestly did not realize just how far I had drifted away from God. I just knew I was tired, frustrated, struggling to discern His plan, lonely. . .

Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, thankfully He pursued me.

How crazy is the love of God?  I wander and He, the Holy One, pursues me.

He lead me to a Bible study, at a strange church, with a group of women I have never met.  I don't do things like that - but I was desperate.  I was scared, lost, and hopeless enough to try anything.  I expected this to be a large study with many women.  I expected to be able to be lost in the crowd, blend in, be anonymous.

I was wrong.

The study was small and intimate - 8 women.  They allowed me to be anonymous, yet they patiently and lovingly drew me out.

The study had daily homework.  The rule-follower in me "had" to do it daily.  This restored a habit of daily Bible study.  It was done out of pure duty at first, but slowly. . . slowly my heart began to soften.  It began to be a time I looked toward with anticipation.  Spending time with God began to be meaningful again.

He still felt distant.

I still felt confused - but I began to feel just the tiniest bit open again.  My heart began to seek Him rather than run from Him.

This study ended, and I began another.  On my own this time, I started and finished a one month devotional.  I started to feel God drawing closer - or me drawing close to Him?

Verses started to stir in my soul.

I began a second devotional.  This one requires daily prayer journaling.  I have been setting my alarm daily and wake up very early, yet expectantly, sincerely looking forward to beginning each day with Him.

I feel my heart changing, coming alive again.  I am starting to feel hopeful.  I am beginning to dream.  TO DREAM.  To consider options, joyful, exciting options for my personal future.  To believe that God may have more than duty for me, but hope and joy as well.

But it is choice.

I have to carefully and consciously choose to hope in Him.

It is not my knee-jerk, though it once was.

In fact last week, when I received some hopeful news, I realized just how unnatural hoping has become.  When I received this hopeful news, my heart shut down.  Instead of feeling anticipation, I felt dread.  My whole spirit became poised for disappointment, rather than excitedly awaiting goodness.

In that moment, I felt Him whisper, "What are you going to do?  Can you be courageous?  Can you choose to hope and trust in me?"

It brought me to tears.  (Which is not that unusual.  Everything makes me cry this pregnancy!)

Could I be courageous enough to hope?  Can I choose moment by moment  to place my wholehearted trust in Him?  Can I open my heart?  Can I live with my spirit alive, expectant - risking disappointment - yet trusting that He can and will make all things beautiful in His time?

You know what?

I can.

I can choose hope.  I can choose trust.  I can choose joy.

It IS scary.  It IS hard.  But the alternative is harder.  Life alone, sealed off, walled in feels safe.  To expect nothing means you feel nothing. . . nothing. . . nothing!  A life of nothing, is just that NOTHING!

And we were all created for so much more than that.

To be fully alive means I must take risks - and there is NO ONE more worthy of risking at all for than the One who gave it all for me.

So - I vow to continue to choose hope.  One moment, one prayer, one thought at a time - believing that my God of Hope WILL fill me with great joy and peace as I trust in Him.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Aspirations 2014

Yep - I know, this post is almost a week late.

That is OK.  I decided that before I was ready to move into 2014 there were a few things I needed to get done.  So, I put the new year on hold for just a bit.

And you know what?  It felt good.

I think that is one of my successes in 2013.  At the beginning of 2013, I declared it a year of rest.  Rest has been so very good for me.  I continue to be a "striver" - I probably always will - yet I have learned the habit of rest.  That will be challenged heavily this year as baby girl arrives!  Letting go and resting at His throne is hard for me, but I am getting better at it.  I aspire to continue to grow in my ability to rest, despite the changes that loom ahead.

As I have been praying about this year, God has shown me a few verses.  These verses have become the center of my aspirations for 2014.

Romans 15:13 
"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him."

This verse makes my heart sigh.  It fills me up.

For several years, my spiritual theme has been perseverance.  I felt called to just keep truckin' -truckin' - truckin'.  To simply keep on keeping on.  I felt commanded to hold on tight to Him and somehow survive the ride.  I was truly in survival mode spiritually.  And while I am thankful that I did survive - I am happy to see that phase fade away.

I really feel like God is calling me to HOPE.  To go deeper than just holding on.  To trust Him and His unseen plan enough to HOPE, to dream, to be filled with Him and move forward (whatever that may mean.) expectantly.

Crazily enough, being called to hope scares me!  In my time of being "stuck" in perseverance mode, I stopped hoping, expecting, dreaming.  Instead, I fell into the habit of either expecting nothing, or preparing for the worst so that I would not be totally disappointed if that is where things ended up.  While that thought pattern is not totally healthy or the least bit inspired, it does feel safe.  I really like safe, so beginning to hope and dream - to expect God to fill me with joy and peace - to let go. . . that has been hard.

I truly spent the first 20 weeks of this pregnancy expecting something terrible to happen.  When was the last time something went smoothly in my life, I asked myself?  There is NO way this pregnancy will.  I fought fear to a larger degree than I have ever fought fear before as I struggled to trust that no matter the outcome, God was in control.  This child is His, and He loves both of us in a deeper, richer, more pure way than I will ever fully comprehend.  As my belly has grown, He has filled me with a renewed hope.  It has been a precious gift.

It is also one I have to choose to open each day.  Hope is not coming naturally - yet.  But I am learning to choose it.  I am learning to claim this verse, to cling to it, to allow it to soak into my heart and soul.

I aspire to learn to HOPE in Him more fully each day of this year.

1 Corinthians 10:31
"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

God pointed out this verse anew to me just this week.  

One of the things I have been working hard at is spending some time in deep prayer and devotion each day.  I ordered the book Whispers of HOPE by Beth Moore to use during my prayer time for the first 10 weeks of this year.  I have felt called to hope for a while now, and when I saw this book in a catalog I thought it would be the perfect way to focus my attention during these last weeks of pregnancy.

It has been SO good for me.  I find myself waking and longing to be in the Word, excited to sit quietly at His feet.

Anyway, God has used some of Beth's thoughts in a powerful way in my heart, mind, and life.

She writes, "Paul wrote a thesis in simplification.  For everyone of us who ever wondered where to draw the line, juggling too many balls at once, or had trouble making up our mind, Paul offers a timely simplification: "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  We differ in talents, gifts and resources, but the hands of time strangle us all." 

"We're caught in the captivity of activity." 

"God never meant for us to love frenzied lives.  Backbreaking schedules are not His idea."

"God is not unreasonable.  He does not heap on stress and then refuse to grant us rest."

OK - so I know that these few lines do not do Ms. Moore's thoughts justice - but, they speak to me in a powerful way.  Though I have learned about rest, I struggle to decide what to drop and what to pursue.  I want to do it all, please everyone, and have a clean house, happy children, and successful marriage to boot.  Oh, and I'd really like to fit back into my jeans at some point which means eventually some hard core exercise will be in order, and. . .

I know you all fight the same fight.  I think almost all of us are "caught in the captivity of activity."

This year I aspire to make 1 Corinthians 10:31 my measuring stick.  Am I doing . . . can I do (whatever the task may be) and glorify God in it or through it?

Am I truly living to glorify God?  And do my tasks and attitude reflect this?

"Whatever you do - Alicia Dietrich - do it all for the glory of God."  I aspire that those words will become my mantra and my measuring stick.

Philemon 1:6
"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

Early one morning this week I was flipping through my Bible and paused at Philemon.  I felt God saying, read this.  I told Him to wait.  After all, Beth Moore had another passage in mind for the morning and I was on a mission.  (How He must shake his head at me.)

Thankfully, He reminded me about Philemon again - because this verse has not left my mind since.

I am not sure out how this command will play out in my life this year.  I sometimes feel that my circle of influence is "too" Christian.  Working in a church, I am more often than not surrounded by people of faith.  I know that sharing my faith - how I see God working in my life day by day - can be encouraging and challenging to other Christians.  Yet, I suspect there is more to this pull I feel as I read this verse.

So I move forward with my hands, heart, and home opened.  I desire to share my faith in a way I have never longed to share it before. Though I do not have words or a plan for it, it is a deep ache that I can not fully describe. While I absolutely want others to have the security that comes from a relationship with Christ.  At the same time, I long to fully understand it as well.  I long to live a life of hope, a life of gratitude, a life of service.  A life that fully understands ALL the good things I have in Christ. A life that communicates that understanding to the world around me in a never ending cycle.

Hope in Him.

Glorify Him in all I do.

Share my faith that I may understand it/Him more fully.

My aspirations for 2014. . .