New Beginnings

Everything is changing.

I can feel it happening deep down.

My body is growing a child. And it is changing me. Today, I was doing one of my favorite things – reading Real Simple magazine. Now normally, I just wander through it and enjoy the neat facts and pictures. But today, I cried. I cried that deep, convulsing, having trouble breathing type of crying. This is not a normal occurrence, and whether it is the baby hormones or missing home or the hubs being in the field, I don’t know. In all honesty, it is probably a combination of all three. Today I feel different. And for the first time, I’m ready to embrace the difference.

Different is exciting. It is feeling and growing and learning. These things have been absent for far too long. So I am here to embrace that change.

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Check out my little peanut!

I’m very excited to meet him (yes I think he is a boy!) and I am even more excited about the change he is bringing about. What a blessing he is already.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them

~Psalm 139:13-16

Silent Wanderings

There are days that turn into weeks and months and years. These days seem to never end; they blur together into meaningless moments strung together by nothing, it seems. And then, in one moment, things become clear. I’m in that moment.

I’m going to get real.

I have been silent. My heart has been broken. I have been walking in my wilderness, in the midst of doubt and fear. I blame it on circumstances, I blame it on other people; but when I get down to it, when I get real with myself, it’s all been my choice. Isn’t that the irony of it all? Bitterness and anger are my choice, and they always will be. Free will entitles me to that choice. Ugh, I hate my free will sometimes because I never use it right. I’m always choosing paths of disobedience and anger and disappointment and resentment.

I am 28 years young. I have no idea about the world, truly, I don’t. The whole of my life has been lived with the thought that I could just WILL myself to be better – to be a better friend, or daughter, or sister, or wife. But if my wilderness wanderings have taught me anything, it’s that my will is not strong enough and I’m tired. I’m so very tired.

I don’t like to be a Debbie Downer, in fact I hate it. Especially on the Internet. There’s enough crap out there without me adding to it. I’m saying that because I like having a BUT. (Not the gluteus maximus kind, although I do like having that – it makes sitting and such things much easier.) I like the kind of but that says there’s more to my story. It can’t just end here all Debbie Downer-like. So here is my BUT.

I am stiff-necked, stubborn, and angry. I am wandering around this life wondering what the hell I’m doing. If you read and study the Israelites after they escaped slavery in Egypt, they were EXACTLY LIKE ME. They were stubborn, stiff-necked, and angry. So angry, in fact, that they wanted to GO BACK TO SLAVERY. What kind of idiots would want to go BACK to slavery after being set free? Oh, that’s right, us! Us sinful, fallen idiots who have no idea what’s truly going on.

In the words of Marcel the Shell “Uh hello, this is me.”

I am that idiot that wants to go back to slavery after being set free.

In case you were wondering, I HAVE BEEN SET FREE. Jesus invited me to hang at his house with his Dad and I said, “Sure, Jesus, I wanna hang with you in your Dad’s house! I think that would be really swell!”

And truth be told, it was more than swell for a really long time. It was EPIC. I loved just about every second of it. And then Jesus told me I had to go out and hang somewhere else for a while. I didn’t understand, and I may never understand, but I do know this truth: no matter where I go or what I do or say or think, my Jesus stays the same. He was the same when the Israelites were being idiots and he’s the same when I’m being an idiot.

To make a long story short, I’m hoping to make this the end of my silent wanderings and my meaningless moments strung together by nothing. I’m tired of nothing and I’m ready for something. I had a good cry today, and I feel a little bit more ready to take on my future moments – no matter where my wilderness ends up taking me. I hope the next stop is the Promised Land, but we will have to wait and see.

Left Behind

I wrote this post 2 years ago when my hubs was about to leave for Afghanistan. Sometimes it’s good to remember what you have been through and what you have learned. If you’re anything like me, I easily forget things. Enjoy this post, it’s one of my favorites.

From January 2013:
I am spending as much time as I can with my husband. He is leaving on deployment soon and I can’t get enough of his laugh and his goofiness and just how loving he is towards me.  I am going to miss him dearly; as any wife of a deploying soldier would.
 

As we were getting ready to hit the hay tonight, I was thinking about what love really meant.  If I had thought about this question a year or two ago, my answer would have been completely different.  Why?  Because I have been force fed a steady diet of romantic comedy, cliche love.  I have thought that love should be full of risk, sacrifice, and will always have a perfect ending after exactly one week of “dating.”  While true love does have elements of these things (maybe not the perfect ending every time), this is not all it is. It is so much deeper than a grand gesture and a romantic walk into the sunset.

Of course, these things are every adolescent girl’s dream. No wonder the divorce rate is 50%. We are being fed lies; lies that I had believed until very recently- tonight even!

A few years ago, I dated someone who I cared very deeply about. I was head over heels in “love” and I was absolutely devastated when we broke up. And when I say devastated, I mean devastated. I missed classes, cried myself to sleep for months, even wrote journals dedicated to him. I was a mess.  But in my mind, I was just doing what anyone who was truly in love would do.  I decided I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I would win him back and then all my prayers and all my tears and all my journal entries wouldn’t be in vain.

Now I do truly believe that God used that time of my life for something very special. I know my prayers and my tears are not forgotten, and I know that my time in pain was not in vain.  However, I do realize now that my grand genstures and eloquent words were not the secret formula for love.  Everything in my few years on this earth had taught me that if I just believed enough, said just the right thing, made just the right gesture, and loved him just enough; that I would be the one walking into the sunset with him.

I based my entire future on a myth.

Love is not that one grand gesture or how long I can hold out for that one person that I believe in the most or that perfect letter given at the perfect time. It is so much more than that!

Love requires patience. Not just patience in waiting, waiting is very important, but also patience in listening, in responding, in arguing, in laughing and in everything in between.  Love is openness.  Openness with your hurts, with your baggage, with your hopes, with your dreams, with your disappointments, with your anger.  Love is kind and gentle. Love is slow and ever changing and evolving. Love is waking up every morning knowing that you will probably do or say something that is going to hurt the other person, but you get out of bed anyway and always choose to say “I love you.”  Love is bringing your baggage along, knowing full well that it will rear its ugly head more some days than others, but still moving forward with the person that looks at you and carries it with you. Love is unselfish, always putting each other first. Love is accepting.  And not just accepting the hurt and the past, but accepting the future, no matter how scary. Love is accepting little things like an open door or an open hand.

But most of all, love is filled with grace.  And the greatest thing about grace is that it makes life not fair.

Looking back, I had plenty of love to give, but none to receive.  That was the difference between my “love” for my boyfriend, my LOVE for my husband.

My husband loves me, but it goes so much deeper.  He accepts me, challenges me, says “I’m sorry” more than I deserve to hear it, he says”I love you” more than I think to say it to him and gives me an abundance of grace. And its not fair. But that is the beauty of it.

To my first “love,” thank you for continually teaching me what LOVE really is.  I pray that you will find it too, with our precious Savior at the center, guiding each and every second of it.

To my precious husband and my true LOVE, thank you for taking a chance on me. I love you more than words can say and I will miss you more than I could ever express.
 

SUN

Colorado sun is good for the soul. 

I believe this most definitely has to be fact. I just don’t understand how I could be mopey and down in my little bungalow in Texas, decide to take an impulsive trip to Colorado to see my family, and end up on the other side just pumped to the brim with JOY.

It has to be that Colorado sun. It just has to be!

It can’t have anything to do with hugging my mom or eating her delicious Sunday morning waffles… no I don’t think that is it. Even with this most adorable face:

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Yes, that is a cow hat. And it is glorious.

I’m sure it wasn’t the look on my extremely confused and sleepy father’s face answering the door at 5:30 in the morning. I SO wish I had a photo of that… He later told me he wish he had brought his handgun with him to the door. After all, who rings the doorbell before dawn and expects to live?

It had nothing to do with heading over to my in-laws house (whom I love dearly and am so grateful they are so wonderful- most people just tolerate their crazy in-laws, but me, I just love ’em!) and surprising everyone and thoroughly enjoying their bewildered looks, bear hugs, and laughter. 

It absolutely had nothing to do with heading to downtown Colorado Springs to meet my sweet friend and Maid of Honor, Shannon, at Wild Goose Meeting House to catch up, giggle and just be reminded why we love being friends.

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That’s Shannon! Ain’t she a beaut?

I know it had absolutely nothing to do with walking into Danae’s office and watching her jump up and down with joy at the sight of us. That definitely wasn’t it…

It most definitely wasn’t because I almost gave my 80 year old grandpa a heart attack walking into his house to give him a hug and say happy birthday! Or waking my grandma up from her afternoon nap and see that huge smile that only a granddaughter can give her grandma.

I know it wasn’t getting to wish my dear friend Richie Fike farewell as he moves on from our sweet Vanguard family to bless the people of Louisiana with his soulful sounds.

No, I think it was the sun. Yes, it was most definitely the sun.

PS- if you want to hear some soulful sounds of Richie Fike and his lovely wife Dana take a gander:

 

Lavender Lemonade

My mother always said, “When things aren’t normal, do normal things.”  People tend to neglect their daily routines when coping with a heartbreak. They’ll stop putting themselves together, exercising, or socializing with friends. Push yourself to go through the motions and you’ll start to feel like your usual, happy self.

~Melanie Thompson quoted in Real Simple magazine on what to do after a heartbreak

Wow. This stopped me in my tracks. I have been mulling this post over in my mind for about a month, but just felt like I didn’t have the right words to express what I wanted to say. My thoughts ranged from a hate letter to Texas (yes, I even started writing it) to just being downright melancholy. A complete Debbie Downer, if you will.

I won’t lie to you, I have had the absolute WORST time adjusting to my new “normal.” It has been a daily struggle to even get dressed in the morning- most days I just skip that and go right to baking cookies. Let me tell you, this has not been a gentle season on my waistline.

In a way, you could say that I have completely broken up with Colorado. I left all my memories, my laughter, my comfort in this beautiful place that I called home for 25 years. She was good to me; really, really good to me. And I left her for her scraggly cousin we call Texas. (I apologize to all you Texas lovers out there, it’s going to be a while before it can live up to the Rocky Mountains in my backyard.)

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I mean, look at that! Right outside my window everyday just beckoning me to go and find adventures!

I have been grieving this loss, and let me tell you, it has been gut-wrenching! I have been completely ripped apart and now I am trying to put the pieces back together.  

But wait.

This is not a post about my Debbie Downer-ness. This is a post about all the possibilities that face me here. My Savior is continually calling to me and he is eager to make “scraggly Texas” into a beautiful place. My thoughts as I read Real Simple this morning were that I have a choice. I can either take this cup with an open heart, or I can continue to be Negative Nancy and shove the cup back and never experience what is probably the best drink in the world. Which, if you are wondering, is lavender lemonade. I know it sounds strange, but oh boy is it delicious! Just head down to Shuga’s and drink yourself sick of the stuff. You wont regret it. Trust me.

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So here’s to lavender lemonade and all things beautiful. I’m off to do my normal things… I’m going to clean the bathroom. In Texas. And I will enjoy the view from where I stand, even in front of the porcelain throne. 🙂

Defenseless

It’s amazing how quick we are to jump on a bandwagon. Who cares who gets run over in the process? Who cares if your “feelings” are hurt? I’m on my bandwagon and I don’t care who I run over to get my point across!

I have a LOT of opinions and trust me, I love my opinions. I am an American and I have the freedom to express them. That is what makes this country I live in great. If you ask me my opinion, I will surely give it! However, that does NOT give me the right to jump on my bandwagon and roll over anyone who gets in the way of my opinion.  People have feelings and hurts and whole lives they live that form their opinions. What’s that golden rule again? Oh yea- TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.

I’m not one who will usually go on crusades all over the internet to get my point across. I don’t use coarse language and honestly, I have deleted more than my fair share of comments (and others who comment on my posts) on Facebook because I don’t like getting into political and philosophical debates over that medium. It seems like a cop-out to me. If you want to have a deep conversation, lets grab some coffee and talk it out face to face. That’s what I like. I definitely don’t like stirring the pot without a healthy way to resolve our conflict. Why? Because relationships matter so much more to me than whether or not Phil Robertson should be fired.

So here’s my soapbox and why I’m writing this:

God doesn’t need us to defend Him, He needs us to love people.

(Courtesy of Truth Work and their thoughts on the whole Duck Dynasty bomb.)

I am a Christian, and I believe the Bible is absolute truth. But please, don’t let that become a hindrance for speaking your mind and opinions around me. I don’t need to defend God and his plans. I just have to love people. And that, my friends is why I don’t like arguing on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Let’s argue face to face and then hug and drink our coffee and go play some putt putt because at the end of the day I won’t remember why we didn’t see eye to eye but that I beat you so badly at putt putt.  That’s the story I’ll tell my grand kids. And that, my friends, is the dream!

A Delightfully Charred Thanksgiving

Texas is COLD! Finally! Being from the wonderful land that is known as Colorado, I have so missed curling up in a blanket or having to wear a jacket outside. I love wearing jackets. It is my favorite thing and the Texas heat has stolen that from me! Anyway, here are a few of the goings on in the Wooly household the last couple of weeks!

Thanksgiving was awesome. My mom and dad and brother came down to hang out and celebrate with us. It was so refreshing to have family around! We cooked most of the day and when we were finally ready to sit down and enjoy the spoils, we realized the turkey was extremely over cooked. It was charred. Damn you turkey frier!

Salvaging...
Salvaging…

But, despite the charred turkey, we managed to salvage a few succulent pieces and enjoy the afternoon full of ginger cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, chai-spiced sweet potatoes, squash casserole, green beans, Nutella hot chocolate, and delicious no bake pumpkin pie! It was a feast for the ages!

Yummy!
Yummy!
FOOD!
FOOD!

Food comas ensued, and all were merry!

Even Rosie succumbed!
Even Rosie succumbed!

And we got a sweet family picture out of the deal even though Lucy was not amused. She fought us the whole time, but we eventually got a great picture without choking her out! My brother was dancing behind the camera to keep her entertained. It was a delightful time!

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We are anxiously awaiting December 20th. Colorado is calling us home that day. Thank goodness Jesus decided to have his birthday on the 25th. I don’t know how much longer I could stay away! Onward to the next adventure!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~John Muir

Butter

Butter. We use it in all sorts of things. It flavors our breads, makes our cookies to die for (especially the pumpkin ones!), and is an affectionate nickname for 2nd Lieutenants in the Army. That’s right, they are called butter bars. It is not because they taste like delicious pumpkin cookies- that would be really strange and could possibly be considered cannibalism… No, it is because of their rank is a gold bar, hence the name “butter bar” because of its golden, buttery color.

Yesterday was a delightful day in the Woolridge household because my hottie hubs, Jonathan, officially left his “butter bar” status in the dust! He is finally a 1st Lieutenant in the Army! Woo! Here are some pictures to commemorate this special day:

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Before: Butter Bar Status
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After: Promoted Status!
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Yea, we’re excited!
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I swear we are not choking the pups, she just wouldn’t look at the camera! This is our first promoted family pic 🙂

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we are way cooler now in the Army world. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to just use butter on my toast and in my cookies. I would say the view from here just got a little bit better.

True Beauty?

I have written a lot of thoughts down in various places all over the internet until I settled here. I have struggled with what I want to say, how I want to say it, how it should look, would people want to read it, blah, blah, blah. Instead of worrying what everyone else thinks about me and my thoughts I say, “Screw it! I’m writing down what I want, when I want and you can read it if you want!” So there. Here are my thoughts, thoroughly random, but definitely thought provoking- at least I hope they will be to you too 🙂

What brought this on, you ask? Well I’m here to tell you! Let’s get started. Yay!

My husband is in the Army and therefore I am in the Army. I don’t fight battles with guns and steel in lands unknown, but I do fight battles. We all do. These are my battles. I may not win them all, but the beauty of being a child of my sweet Savior is that he has already won the war. I can rest assured in that fact and face my daily battles with confidence, even when its not a winning confidence all the time.

Today, I was browsing the internet like I do so many days (the curse of being unemployed) and I stumbled on a couple of very interesting articles. You can read and watch them here and here. The first is from a graphic designer who decided to show us how warped our view is of a woman’s body. The author took many beautiful and famous paintings from the past and photoshopped the women to look like today’s ideal standard. The results are eye-opening. And the second is an interview with Heidi Montag of The Hills and reality MTV fame. She had a jaw-dropping 10 plastic surgery procedures done in ONE DAY! ONE DAY! I felt for her on so many levels as she described what it was like to come to and live with that decision.

On top of this, I had a conversation with a new friend I met yesterday, the sweet Hunter Beless about this very topic. She has a wonderful story and you can read it here.  Our conversation was brief but profound as we chatted about her desire to instill in women a deep sense of self worth through belief in our Savior and living a healthy and fit life (she is a personal trainer).

With all these things running through my head, I could not help but think about how negative and angry I get about my own body and all the imperfections I perceive along with it.  Day after day I constantly criticize myself about how I ate to much cereal at breakfast or had one too many pumpkin cookies last night. (They were just so, so delicious I couldn’t stop! It’s pumpkin season!) I will stare at myself in the mirror and be disgusted- this is not putting it lightly, I really do get disgusted 😦 – at the extra pounds I have packed on since moving from Colorado to Texas in July and my unruly acne that has decided to take up residence on my face.

Ugh. This is getting OLD. This is a cycle I have been repeating since 6th grade! When will it stop? When will I decide that the secular media does NOT, I repeat, does NOT determine my beauty and worth? When will I finally believe my husband when he tells me I am beautiful? Most importantly, when will I stop telling God, the creator of the universe and the wisest and smartest dude out there, that he didn’t do a good job on me? When does it end?

I’ll tell you when it ends- it ends when YOU decide to end it. This is an over-arching lesson I have been learning the last few months. If I want something to change, I have to be willing to change. What? Me? I have to do this? Yes, Roxanne, you MUST do this. I must read this verse and actually believe that I am wonderful!

Psalm 139:13-14 ~ For you created me in 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.

He KNIT me together. Knitting is not necessarily difficult, but it takes some precision, patience and time. If you skip a stitch, the whole project can get messed up and it would take some time to fix it. I don’t know about you, but I love this analogy. Knitting is so beautiful (except in this case… wowza!) and takes so much dedication and work! It makes my little heart happy to know that God took his time and thought about every detail, down to the last stitch when he created each one of us! We are all so special to him because he took so much time to put us together. What a beautiful picture of love from our Heavenly Father 🙂

This is my challenge for now: to look in the mirror and see what my Father has made and declare it- OUT LOUD!- to be beautiful. God doesn’t make junk and no matter how many times I tell myself that I am junk, it will never be true. I am thankful for that.