A cause for celebration!

Today he turns four. What a cause for celebration!

Our Bradley Caleb Troyer
Born at 9:20 pm
8 pounds 3 ounces
21 1/2 inches long

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Wasn’t it just yesterday we held him with relief in our arms after an especially rough labor?
Wasn’t it just yesterday we found out with delight we were having a boy?
Seems like it was just yesterday, and yet it feels like he’s been a part of our lives forever.
From the moment we knew of the little life growing inside, our hearts were already captured. Never to be the same.

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These last four years our son has dramatically changed our world, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I now have a better picture of what selflessness really means.
Of spending all night anxiously worrying about your sick child.
Of crayon marks on the wall, and objects in the toilet that aren’t meant to be in there.
I now know how it feels to want to protect.
To love someone so little so much.
Of sticky kisses, spilled milk, crushed cheerios and a purse turned into a toy box.
Of facing strong wills, tantrums and confrontations I will never want to relive. Thank you very much!

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My heart melts as my son runs up to me, wraps his arms around my neck and whispers, “I love you Mommy.”
“I love you too, Bradley. I am so glad God gave you to us!”
He smiles bashfully and says, “I know.”
We snuggle awhile, and I savor the moment.
Two minutes later he wriggles out of my arms and is off again at full speed.

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Ahh, motherhood!
Full of treasured moments.
New discoveries.
Lots of grace.
And celebration!
But through each milestone and challenge, I marvel at the gift of our son. This precious life God has entrusted to us.
May I always remember to delight in every moment, for times passes so quickly.

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Today we celebrate the life of our special son.
Happy Birthday, Bradley boy!

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Alive

After the cold and dead of winter comes the new life of spring.
Seemingly lifeless branches burst with new growth and life.
Flowers push their way through barren soil to display vibrant colors and beauty.
All around us is life.
Growth.
Beauty.

You see, I was there.
No, not spring.
Winter.
Barren.
Lifeless.

There are many seasons in life. We all know that.
And for me it was a reality not all that long ago.
I felt like a bare branch poking out of the ground. Barely clinging to the life buried deep inside. I was hurt. By people I love.
Relationships seemed to crumble around me. Accusations were flying. Hearts hurting. Including mine.
Misunderstandings.
Criticism.
Lies.
I couldn’t escape.
I couldn’t trust anymore.
Fearing rejection and more pain, I locked up.
Scarred.
Bleeding.
Wounds wide open and sore.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14

There it was.
Conviction settled over my wounded heart.
Tears.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21

So it started. The process of forgiving. After all, if I didn’t forgive, God would not forgive me.
Sobering.
Not to forgive just seven times, but seventy times seven. Seemed so unfair. But necessary.

And it was there.
Healing.
A flicker of life from deep within.
A green leaf growing from the dry, barren branches.
A petal slowly unfolding in the warmth of the sun.

Forgiveness is not a feeling, but a choice.

It wasn’t my circumstances that changed. It was my heart.
I was no longer a bare stick poking out of the ground.
I was alive.

Broken, but beautiful?

I pushed my bowl of cereal away. It wasn’t even a 1/4 cup. And without any milk.
“I hate myself.”
“I’m so ugly.”
“Why was I even born?”
My mind screamed a horde of accusing thoughts.
Anorexia.
I had been diagnosed over a year earlier.
For as long as I can remember, I never thought I was beautiful.
Thoughts like, “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not outgoing enough.” “Why are you not more like so-and-so?” Would be the constant commentary running through my head.
Depressed.
Alone.
I spent most days in bed. Crying. Refusing to talk. To eat.
Doctor and hospital trips were becoming the norm.
The words from the doctor, “You are not able to drive anymore.”
Anger.
Resentment.
60 lbs lost, yet still when I looked in the mirror I cried.

But today?
I’m free.
Gloriously free.
Yes, my God is a God of miracles.

It happened one day. Lying in bed. Tired and weak.
My Dad walked in, placed his hands on my head and prayed.
I don’t remember his exact words, but instantly something in me snapped. I felt it. Was it hope? Freedom?
I went and drank a cup of skim milk.
And that was the beginning.

Sometimes the drive to be someone you aren’t created to be, leaves you broken inside. Hurting.
So you try harder. That voice whispers so taunting, “You’ll never be enough.”
You’re not thin enough.
You’re not outgoing enough.
And sadly, most of us believe the lies.
I did.
It controlled me.
My insecurities revealed themselves through my anorexia. But a lot of you hide it well. Trying. Yet failing.

I’ve been free from anorexia for almost nine years now.
When I wrote that down it shocked me. Nine years!
I am married to a beautiful man. He goes by the name, JR. He pastor’s a small church in town and is in love with God.
We have the privilege of being parents to our four-year-old son, Bradley.
God has blessed me. Blessed us.

It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago, after still struggling through years of insecurities, I realized. I am enough! In HIM.
What took me so long to grasp this? Why all those wasted years of trying to be someone I wasn’t created to be? Why did I not realize sooner He created me because He has a plan for me. A plan no one else can fulfill.
And I weep.
Revel in His love.
And He whispers, “My daughter, I love you. You are enough for me.”
I still have a long way to go. Still learning. Failing, yet striving.

Yes, out of brokenness comes beauty.

Sweetly Broken

I’ve been reflecting lately on brokenness.
Not the brokenness and pain from our past, nor the broken pieces of our life God so lovingly mends and restores, but the act of being broken.
Completely.
Before Him.
Letting Him break us and tear down the walls that hinder us.

I caught a glimpse of the walls in my own heart.
Walls I had built over time, and I identified them for what they were.
In those walls I saw various bricks and the issues they represented.
With the hands of Jesus covering mine, those walls crumbled down.

And I marvel at His love, and wonder at His gentle patience.

To be broken and submitted, I need to first start with putting down the mortar and brick.
To push past the walls that hinder me.
To break them.
Never to build again.

    Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. It means inviting God to become even more intimately involved in your life. – Julie Clinton

It’s an act of daily yielding.
Everyday surrender.
A daily shattering of self-will, that will keep us broken before The Lord.
No resistance.
No chafing.
No stubbornness.
Simply submitted.
Sweetly broken.

    “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17 (NLT)