Kidspace Museum

We visited Kidspace Children's museum in Pasadena, yesterday. It was such a blast to be able to see Jed play with all the different exhibits they have. I really enjoyed taking him, and we were so glad to have our friends with us. Tori is such a doll! They all seemed to have a really great time. They were really good sports about their nap, too.

All the exhibits are interactive, and they're learning as they play. They have exhibits on force, gravity, insects, music.

^^They also have a really great room for younger kids. I believe It's for kids under two. They had story time for them while we were there and were able to play afterwards.^^

This might be our new favorite place! There is so much to do, we didn't finish it in one day. I really enjoyed that it wasn't just playing but they have opportunities to learn. We can't wait to go back!

Thank you!

In all of my time blogging, my post last week got the most email responses. From old readers, friends, people I didn't even know still read my blog. I just wanted to say thank you. It honestly helps to know people are going (have gone) through similar things. It helps knowing that it helps you when you read my blog. Losing Benjamin is still very painful. It is still something I often cry about, even when I don't intend to. Just the other day I was reading a blog post about a birth story and just the picture of her at the hospital made me burst into tears.

I am learning, that It's okay to still be hurt, and to cry. It's okay to not want to talk about it with every person you see. Everyone grieves differently, but I think even in that, our society has made it normal to grieve quickly and move on. I keep hearing from other moms that the heartbreak will never go away, you just learn to live with it. I think that's true, as much as I want to not be hurt, I think the pain is a reminder that Ben was/is real. In a weird way I do hope that it still hurts, even years from now, because I don't want to forget Ben. Even though its painful, I want to hold onto what little I have.

I am learning that everyone is going through their own struggle and their own pain. Everyone experiences their own degree of pain, and of heartache. Everyone has their own burden that might not seem as big as yours. But if Ben dying has taught me anything, It's been to be softer with people. To be kinder to everyone, because you just never know what their story is. You can't  know everything someone has gone through. Your hurt might not seem as devastating as a death, but it matters. You matter. God cares about your pain.

Reading and praying have helped a lot. Surprisingly the biggest help has been listening. Listening to what others have gone through. Listening to kind words and advice. Listening to the word of God. Honestly the greatest comfort in all of this, is knowing I will see Ben again.

Hollywood Sign Hike

We had a really great time going on the hollywood hike this weekend. It was a little long and very confusing, but fun. It's something I always wanted to try considering we have lived in LA our whole lives. There's a few things I would like to do before we move, and this was definitely on the list. I really enjoy hikes, not because of the workout, but because of how high up you are. It really gives me a different perspective on how insignificant things are. How small an entire city can seem.

                     My camera simply can't do that view justice. That, and the smog! Oh, LA.
Wish I would have gotten a better picture of Olive. She is the cutest dog! We kept getting stopped ( a lot) because people wanted to pet her.
It was a really nice day for hiking. You just can't beat going outside and marveling at God's creation.

The truth is...

A few months after having Jed, I stopped reading my bible. At the time, we had been living with someone, just a year after being newlyweds. A short time after that, I had Jed, and just completely stopped. In part because being a new mom was overwhelming for me. I choose, instead to throw myself pity parties because it was so hard. Then a month after that, I got pregnant with Benjamin and I was even more exhausted. Living with someone while raising your first child is extremely difficult. I think I felt stressed out every single day. At some point I think I just gave up. I would try and read here and there, but for the most part, I was just trying to get by, I just wanted to get through the day. RJ had been going through the process of applying for a job he really wanted, one I was sure he was going to get. As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I began praying again. At this point, I developed a conditional relationship with God. He didn't get the job. I was hurt for him. I was hurt for my husband who I knew really wanted this. So I sunk further in. I was angry because I didn't understand. RJ was so faithful that i  just didn't get why this was happening. It was really hard for him after that. He still managed to say that he knew things would be okay and that he trusted God. I admired him for that, but I didn't share the sentiment.

During all of this I had people share with me the "prosperity movement". You know, God wants you to be happy, and rich, and to have everything you ever wanted. I knew that wasn't true, but, it creeped in. Maybe because I hadn't been reading, or praying. Although I had been studying, because I remember studying Peter, and by the grace of God, that is really what sustained me. THEN, RJ was accused of something, I think that was the straw (you know, the camel). I was so angry! I felt like, way to kick a dog while he's down. A part of me still can't believe that happened. I have always felt like I'm able to keep a pretty good hold on things when it comes to me. I can handle a lot, but when it comes to RJ, i can't. I think that changed him. He forgave the person, and RJ is very forgiving. When he says he forgives you, he really means it, and he never brings it up. I knew it really hurt him, but he still managed to move on. I didn't. I was mad, I was mad at the person, I was angry at God. I just didn't understand.

For a while I was just hurt, and going though the motions. I knew I had no right to be, but I was. Then Ben died, and I became heart broken. I mean, I thought I had been experiencing pain that entire year, but I had no idea. I was devastated. I had no quarrels with God, I felt guilty, I felt ashamed, and I repented. I started reading again, not a lot, just what I could manage in between cries. Then the dust settled, everything calmed down, and people moved on. And I felt stuck. I guess a part of me felt like people would still be heartbroken with me. I was seeing everyone move on, but I was in the same place. I didn't understand. I KNEW what the right response was, I knew what the bible said, but I felt hurt. I felt betrayed. I started to entertain the idea that maybe I didn't know God. Maybe God didn't care about me. Remember the prosperity thing? That came in! I started thinking maybe theres something to that. Maybe if we really knew God, none of this would have happened. Maybe God was punishing me for being so unfaithful. I just didn't get it.

People around me were having babies and it hurt. For a while I couldn't even look at them. It just felt, like life kept going, without Ben. I kept thinking how people don't even want babies, and how women have abortions, and I was angry again. I was angry at God for taking Ben, for putting us in this situation, for leaving me. I knew I had no right to be, but that's how I felt. Up until now, I relied solely on what I already knew. I didn't want to read or pray. I just went through the motions. I showed up, talked if I had to, and left. When RJ joined the military, that was my way out. I thought I'll never have to see these people again. I won't be reminded of Ben and I can just move on. I removed myself. Pretty soon I did the bare minimum and that was okay. It was easy to go unnoticed. You just show up, say the right thing, and people leave you alone. I knew what I was doing was wrong, I felt convicted. I wrestled with God. I felt picked on. I started feeling sorry for myself. I kept trying to make sense of things. I kept wanting God to say, "this is why I did it". Something!

I just didn't get it, I still don't get it. I tried for a long time to understand. I thought, maybe it was for this reason, or because of this. I wanted Benjamin's death to mean something. Then I realized I'll probably go the rest of my life, and never know why this happened. I was surrounding myself with people and ideas that were different from the bible. They taught that if something bad happens, you're doing something wrong. You're not in God's favor. Then I started listening to sermons. I wasn't willing to read, but I would listen. I just knew something had to change, I didn't want to go the rest of my life this way. Something did change, the word of God has a funny way of doing that. I would hear sermons on heaven and suffering, and it started changing my outlook.

I'm still in the middle of it. God is slowly changing my heart. I heard a sermon last night about the suffering of Christ. He talked about how Peter told God that he would never let them crucify Him. He explained how Peter just couldn't imagine something like that happening, it seemed too horrible. In the same way, we can't imagine bad things happening, they seem like they're outside of the will of God. The verse in Matthew goes on to say that we must take up our cross and follow Him. It also asks, what good is it to gain the world, but lose your soul. I don't know why things happen the way they do, some things seem obvious and others seem impossible to explain. But I think God has been teaching me that I was chasing after something that wasn't real, something that had no value. I had an idea of what life should look like, and I was hurt that things weren't working out that way. I think a lot of people feel that way. They don't ever think they can have the life they want so they settle for the life they have, and are content just getting by. I don't want to get by. I want to live a life that brings glory to God. It took a long time for me to realize that. I kept hoping that I would wake up one day and feel different, but it hasn't happened. I don't feel different, I'm just thinking differently. I'm praying that in obedience and faithfulness, my joy will be restored. Not in perishable things, but in the precious blood of Christ.

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Roman 8:18

30 Days

As I mentioned a few days ago (here), I wanted to elaborate on my new years resolution. My new years resolution was to make more goals, but It's more than that. To put it into better words, I would like to be more disciplined. One of my favorite books is Spiritual Disciplines. I think It's very important for us to practice self control. I know that for me, this is an area that I really struggle in. I don't want food, TV, or other things to rule over me. I want to best utilize all of my life, to serve God.

When I look at someone who is an excellent shape, the first thing that comes to mind is how disciplined they are. Wether It's fitness, knowledge, or a hobby, that people excel in, I am most impressed by their discipline. Because the difference between these people and anyone else is that they are willing to say no to things in order to pursue what they want. So, in the same way, I would like to be that disciplined. So this year I would like to touch on all of these areas. This month i will be starting with....

30 days of no sugar (technically however many days there are in January).

I hate typing that!!! I'm not going to be very pleasant this month. Haha. I went back and forth on wether I should even write this. Considering I have a tub of chocolate fudge brownie in the freezer (sigh). That went in the trash! I really believe that if I can do this, I can do anything! I wanted to start with a big one. Sugar is a hard one for me, but typing it on here makes it official. So here are the rules:

No sugar.
Fruit is fine.
A lot of things have natural sugar, which is fine. Just read and make sure there is no added sugar. Here is a list of different names that are disguised as sugar.

That's all. Hurts doesn't it? If you're brave enough, join me.

Family Snow Trip!!!

We managed to squeeze a family snow trip in while RJ was here. We managed to get 13 people and two babies up there. It was a day trip to Lake Arrowhead, which is about an hour and half drive from here. Originally we planned on going to Big Bear, but the line to get up there was insane!! It was a dead stop, about a mile in. So we decided to go to Lake Arrowhead instead. They have better pizza anyways ;)

Here are a few shots from the day....

What you look like when you oversleep!! Remember the scene from Home Alone? Yup! 

^^Loved every minute of it!! He literally stuck his head in the snow. ^^

                                             ^^The newly engaged couple!!!^^

How do you know it was a success? No injuries and everyone sleeps in the car!!

We took some pretty hilarious pictures at the end. I wanted to capture a "snow" picture. My snow throwers were not the brightest. I wanted more of a snowy look, not a blizzard (sigh). What are you gonna do? Made for some pretty funny pictures!

The whole trip was a blast. Except for the million potty breaks and leaving late. A lot of sacrificing with big groups, but worth it for family :)

Fingers crossed that we end up in a snowy state. Maybe I don't know what I'm asking, but it just seems like so much fun. Well, a state with a minimal amount of snow, haha.