Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keeping It Real: The Difficulties and Sins Within My Relationship

I really just want to call this "airing my dirty laundry" but I feel that in today's picture perfect, social-media driven world, it's important to be honest when we can be.  I tell my Young Life girls all of the time that what they see on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are often times pictures that have been thought out in great detail and topped off with a filter.  It's a high-lights reel of our life...just a glimpse of it without the gruesome stuff that reality brings.

So this is me, being honest with all of you.  When I say all of you, I'm probably actually talking to my mom, some friends back home who keep up with my blog, and then some of my Air Force friends.  But this is it.  This is what keeping it real is all about.

f o s t e r i n g

Before I got married, I never really saw myself fostering. I definitely felt compelled to adopt because it's important to me and I believe that families have the potential to impact the outcome of our world.  A family is so crucial to helping a child prosper in life and I know that I can give a child a good home.  However, I never thought to foster but then I became a CASA and I started to think more about the idea.  Ever since I became one earlier this year, it's been something I've prayed about and thought about in great detail.  About a month ago, I felt that God was telling me that I needed to foster and I have a really strong faith. It may sound weird to you, the reader, but for me it is an important aspect of my faith.  So I was like okay God, I'll talk to Ryan about it and see where we're at.  Ryan wants to foster and adopt but he definitely does not feel the same calling that I feel right now.  This is something he wants to do in the future and I cannot explain how conflicted I feel about that.  I feel called right now and I know that I will do this at any point in my life but I feel so pulled to to do this right now and it's really difficult that we're not on the same page.  It's also difficult because as soon as I felt called, I started discount shopping for baby things.  I got screaming good deals on so much stuff.  Big stuff, like a crib, strollers, car seats, you name it and I got it.  It was all a very exciting process and I even sold my old Cricut to fund some of the furniture (again I got really good deals...as in everything for under $140).


That's not everything I got but one of our rooms is filled with baby things and it's quite fun.  However, with Ryan's reluctance to foster, they're just reminders of conflicts within our marriage. Instead of fostering Ryan wants us to try for a baby in January...which brings me to the next topic.

b a b i e s


You may have read the post Before You're Expecting and know how badly I want to have a baby.  Except now that I feel called to foster, something just doesn't feel right about having a biological baby right now.  I'm also kind of mad because I feel like my love for children and so badly wanting to have a baby is kind of being used as leverage in our situation.  I know Ryan is excited about the future prospect about trying to have a baby in the new year, except...I'm not.  I know that there is a strong likelihood that I'll change my mind and because of that I've still been taking prenatals because there's no way I'm risking my baby's safety because I'm indecisive.  I just want to be a mom on my own terms.  I also want to make sure that when I'm pregnant, that I'm absolutely, 100% thrilled.  I want to enjoy the experience as much as I can.  So I'm asking for prayers on guidance, clarity, and reassurance.

e d u c a t i o n

One of my biggest sins is how much I wish I could sometimes change my husband.  I want to be supportive and nurturing but sometimes I'm just angry.  Ryan has earned the right to be a full time student but when I was a full time student, I worked several jobs and would take 18 credits a semester. I think what is really difficult in our situation now is that back in college, I had very little sympathy for my peers who didn't work and now that's my husband.  I also work now and am about to wrap up my Master's Degree.  I love working and accomplishing my goals at the same time. I also have a really difficult time understanding the perspective of those who need to focus solely on their education.  I believe that everyone has the right to focus solely on their education, I just never had that experience and I legitimately cannot relate.

v a c a t i o n // t i m e

So that ultimately trickles into other areas. For example, I haven't been home in forever and flying out of this town is so expensive.  Basically I could fly from Wisconsin to California for a cheaper price than what it costs to fly into Montana.  It completely baffles my mind as to how this is possible.  But with that said, it's hard to not go home or go on vacations.  I desperately need a vacation and not in the state of Montana.  For those who know me really well, Christmas is a BIG deal to me and so not going home (again) is going to be another source of contention this year (again).

I recently got really mad at Ryan about this topic and I know it's not completely his fault.  Getting leave in my careerfield is very tricky, especially around the holidays.  Every month leading into the time where we could start asking, I made sure Ryan understood this.  I even went as far as looking up his school schedule before he even knew it so that he would be able to know when he had finals and when we could go.  Dates were never picked and the time to put in leave passed.  I am still irritated over this.
 
f i n a n c e s
 
I'm also not the best with money.  Ryan is significantly better at being fiscally responsible and budgeting for our family.  However, we also prioritize things differently.  With my job, I know that I need to get certain things done ahead of time.  If I don't, I will miss out an entire holiday season.  That's why I start Halloween decorations at the end of August and Christmas pictures are taken on Sweetest Day in October.  It just helps everything work out.  However, I'm also the partner in our relationship that cares more about that stuff as well.  So it makes it difficult when budgeting for certain things because ultimately the argument can lean towards, "this is something that is a want not a need."  It's also difficult when my allowance (yes we have monetary allowances) goes towards crafting for our home and all of a sudden things come up like having to make a food dish for an event. It's so stressful to have surprise things come up and I'm trying to be better about budgeting for those things but it is hard.  I've also had to prioritize certain things ahead of time and it is so hard to pass up a sale. I have a note on my phone that details my wish list items and my wish list even has the practical items like underwear.  It totally sucks when you go to Target and there's a sale on something but you have to prioritize something else. My money situation and how I handle it is so much different than what it was in college. I would reward myself by going to Sephora, Forever21, and H&M.  As a "real grown-up" the most recent clothing purchase I made was new underwear because I needed it.  Womp womp.

I also think it's interesting, when comparing the college versus now budgeting, how much I need to include my partner in decision making.  In college, I traveled all of the time for weddings, to visit friends, to go home, and to attend conferences.  I haven't done any of that in so long and today I was thinking about what it would take for me to go to a blogging conference.  I would have to budget for the tickets for the event, the plane ticket, hotel, food, etc. but I would also have to see if Ryan is cool with it, who would watch the dogs, etc.  A big problem with us is that we haven't gone home in a long time so going home is a top priority. With us not going home for the holidays, any other vacations are basically X'd out.
 
f r i e n d s
 
Building relationships and memories is really important to me.  I know it's important to Ryan but I don't think it's quite on the same level.  For people who I am really close with, I would do anything for them.  I would like to think of myself as incredibly loyal.  You cannot put a price on the value of these friendships to me.  However, that can be a problem because Ryan doesn't see things the way that I do sometimes.  I'm busy and gone a lot and for me, I think it would be easier for him to understand this if he was just as busy.  But instead, he doesn't understand why I don't like to stay home or why I'm so willing to help out a friend at a minute's notice.  That's just the way that I'm built.  I also really hate staying at home, unless it's after dinner.  I get bored very easily and I like to use my free time to contribute to society.  That's just how my brain works and I think it's so crazy that God put two completely different people together.
 
f i n i s h i n g // t h o u g h t s

That my friends is everything.  Before I got married, every "real grown-up" in my life told me it was hard but they never fully explained why and I think it's because of everything I've said above. It's hard to talk about and no one wants to be the source of blame or to blame their significant other.  Marriage is just super hard all around.  There are so many issues and scenarios that you cannot possible dream up or explain until you go through it.  My problems may not be the same as yours and you may have a set of problems and issues in your relationship that I cannot even fathom.  However, I think it's so important to share because it reminds people that this is hard and it was never meant to be a fairy tale or easy process.  I'm still trying to ingrain that into my head - marriage is not a fairy tale.  If yours is, that is awesome but mine is 100% hard work...blood, sweat, and tears all the way.  The good thing is that I know why God put me and Ryan together.  I think it's really cool to have an understanding of that.  Our marriage breaks us down, but also builds us back up and we don't have to do it alone.  We have a friend for life to help and we'll both grow in the process.
 
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Very Erskine Christmas: Sweetest Day Photoshoot

One of my favorite traditions that our lovely little family does is celebrate Sweetest Day. Yes it exists...just like Santa. Which is fitting because every Sweetest Day we do a tripod family photoshoot.  You can check out last year's here.

This year, I wanted it to be like a really chaotic Christmas morning and was especially inspired by this quote:

Yes! I'm going to miss being around kids and babies this year for Christmas :'(

 

We made a Christmas morning fort!

 

I took our kitchen table chairs (which are single seaters and two booth styles) and used them to prop up a comforter that had been hanging up to dry and a quilt made by my friend Lisa.


I then decorated the ever livin' poop outta it.


 

One of the best parts is that Holly would sneakily weave herself through the back part of the fort to partake in more than half of the pictures.




We've still got to pick out our favorite for our Christmas card! Which ones do you like?


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

He Must Increase But I Must Decrease

I saw this video a half hour ago...


and it floored me.

I cried with joy.

I cried with happiness.

I simply cried for this sweet soul.

It filled me with an abundance of grace, appreciation, and humility.

It reminded me of the usual things that one becomes thankful for when they see these types of things.

It forces you to pause and reflect.

I thank God for my life.

I thank God for my amazing family.

I want to thank my parents for working so incredibly hard to see my dreams come true.

It also reminded me of how badly I want to adopt and how I can't wait to be a mom.

I was going to ask for prayers for my evaluation but after I saw that little video...

it put some things into perspective.

My worries and my stresses in life are so insignificant.

It will work out.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it's worth
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

#journalingbible

Y'all I am so excited and Amazon is such a tease.

Have you ever heard of a journaling Bible?  I had, but the only journaling Bibles I had seen involved simply writing in the margins and that's something I already do.  It wasn't all that exciting.

Then I realized folks were actually creating art in the margins of their Bibles with how hymns or verses moved them.

It's amazing.





Wha-bam! There you have it.

A journaling Bible has major room in the margins aka a notetaker's dream but not only is there room for notes but you can create masterpieces in those margins.  

I first discovered this through Valerie Wiener's Instagram:

Photo: Each of our thorns are different but our God is the same, when you feel that thorn..Pray. Give Him control and let him Work the way He does. 
Also, in case you missed it, there's a new blog post up on ValerieWienersArt.com answering all of your #journalingbible questions and showing you some new pictures...
#ValerieDoodlestheBible #doodletheword #lettering #scripture #jesus
Photo Credit Valerie Wieners Art
 Isn't that beautiful?

She led me to see other folks' Instagrams and Facebook feeds.

Photo Credit Shanna Noel

She is currently giving away a copy of :


Check out Shanna's blog to enter the giveaway, otherwise you can find Writing in the Margins at Amazon.

If you haven't seen my Instagram feed lately, I've been cramming it with giveaways. I apologize in advance and I promise to beautify it in the very near future :) I just really want to start the Erskine baby stock right this minute...I can't help it :P

Back to the Journaling Bible!

I also joined a Facebook Journaling Bible group which is filled to the brim with beautiful inspiration.


I joined and it felt like God was blessing me as soon as I hit that "join" button.
This picture was posted by the group moderator (and awesome artist) Shanna Noel shortly after I became a member of the group.  
The #travelingbible will basically be a gorgeous, inspiring Bible that will be carried across the globe.  

My favorite book in the Bible is Hebrews and I cannot wait to add some art in those margins :)

Speaking of which, as soon as I saw Valerie's gorgeous newsfeed filling with colorful margins, I did a total impulse buy and bought one.  It got lost in the mail (THE HORROR) but Amazon, being amazing as always, quickly resent a new one.  I'll hopefully have it this Tuesday and it will be perfect timing for my upgrade sequence to a crew commander.  Please pray over me and send me well wishes!



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Before You're Expecting


Before I dive into this post with a very suggestive picture, I'm not pregnant BUT the conversation is happening.  Yes, praise Jesus we are in the stage where this is actually a feasible idea.  I wanted to journal through my experience of what it's like in the "before you're expecting" stage.  Now I'm not quite ready to share when I believe we will be "ready" but I think sharing all of this is going to be fun for me and hopefully informative for other families out there who may end up reading this.

If you know me at all, I have a fever...a baby fever.

It's bad y'all. I think I have wanted to have a baby with Ryan since the moment we got married.  It has been such a joy that now, at 3.5 years of marriage, we are legitimately having these conversations about planning our family.  

I can remember the moment Ryan asking me my thoughts on having a baby at X time.  You should have seen this gal's face, I was beaming from ear to ear.  Finally! Ryan was finally on the same mental wavelength as me.  Having studied reproductive rights and my interest in becoming a doula, I have a lot of baby books.  Color me weird at having all of these "baby books" in stock, but I am completely baffled as to how people can do so much research into purchasing something like a computer but don't know their rights when having a baby.  *Jumps off soap box*

Soooo I'm readily willing and excited to share my journey of researching products, trying things out, and educating myself on all things pregnancy, baby, and labor-related.  

Without looking at Air Force policies with Tricare, my birth plan involves having a doula, a midwife, and a water birth.  That would be a most ideal situation.  However, the other aspect of our family's plan is making sure that our military healthcare plan will cover it.  So my ideal plan may end up being in a hospital or where ever I'm covered.  If you've had any experience with pregnancy and the military, feel free to comment below! I'm all ears!

I recently went to my base gyno to have an overall check-up and she was this wonderfully pregnant captain.  It was so much fun being able to finally be excited and she was a bundle of energy herself.  It's great to finally be able to start asking these questions and figure out when my IUD can be taken out, etc.

For awhile I was incredibly reluctant to ever get pregnant while in this career field but then I started realizing that I needed to take care of myself and my family's needs and desires.  In the past year, I have volunteered for base/military everything and although I do a great job and am reliable, I started feeling overworked.  I was putting together great projects despite having limited resources and a lack of support, and the end result didn't satisfy me.  It started to feel very unfulfilling and I largely think it was because work without a lot of appreciation being sent your way is taxing. Being busy was my way of boosting my career and calming down the baby fever.  

After this happened several times where projects would come and go, and I just felt exhausted, I started taking mental notes of resolutions.  They included transitioning a lot of this energy into off base projects and volunteering or working off base.  Every volunteer opportunity that I've done in the community here has been amazing and so rewarding.  I feel that people are 100% committed and you're not working with folks who are voluntold.  These thoughts and ideas kept circulating and when Ryan brought up having a baby, I realized that I'm going to not only limit my base activities, but finally choose projects and volunteer opps that I can be fully committed to because being pregnant is a lot of work unto itself.

Writing this has been so therapeutic.  Now I only request your prayers and well wishes as our little family embarks on this journey :) 

  



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