Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“You are pregnant. You had a miscarriage.” Those are two sentences I never thought I would hear together. It was a surreal moment. Even though a miscarriage was the only thing I knew could account for my symptoms, I had been almost freakishly calm until the door closed behind the doctor who delivered the verdict. That’s when it hit me. The sobs came abruptly and caught me completely off guard. My husband covered me with his steady comforting embrace. After several minutes, I was able to regain my composure. I looked at my parents through tear clouded eyes and said something like “I’m sorry. I thought I would have handled that better.” I felt bad for causing such heightened emotions in the room. We had been laughing and making jokes just a few minutes earlier. It felt odd to switch gears so quickly. I didn’t realize how absurd that apology was until my parents told me that was to be expected. 
Over the past month since we lost our baby, I’ve experienced grief in a totally different way than before. I cannot remember many moments where emotion has hit me in such an abrupt and powerful way. I’m more used to the gradual build that comes before a good cry. The little tug on my heart, the attempt to stop it, the recovery, then the gradual build up, then the I give up, and finally the sob. I’ve never been a big fan of crying. I do not like how awkward crying makes people feel and I don’t like the tiredness that tends to follow a flood of emotion. It is something I would rather do without, whenever possible. With this it has been so different. Almost every time I’ve cried it has been a sudden flood of emotion. No crazy build up. No chance to stop it. Just raw emotion in the blink of an eye. That is not something I would have asked for, but as I am living it, it seems oddly merciful. Like God knew I would try my hardest to stifle the emotion if given the chance, so He just did not give me the chance. By letting the emotions come quickly I have not had a chance to see who might notice. I have not had a chance to feel sorry for the awkwardness that might ensue. All I can do is cry. Just cry and be hugged by whoever happens to be the closest to me. Oddly enough I’ve found myself not feeling guilty at all. Since that day in the hospital, I have not cared who might see me cry or care that I made someone cry. In fact it has been really nice having people cry with me. Even seeing a single tear fall from someone else's eye has been comforting. I think it makes me feel like my tears are relevant. It makes me feel like my grief is legitimate. Like my baby really does matter even though I didn’t know he/she existed until that moment when I was told he/she was gone. At times I feel like I have less of a right to grieve because I did not know, but I am so grateful that God kept it a secret from me. I did not have seven weeks to get excited, seven weeks to share with our family and friends, seven weeks to get my other kids excited, or think about my youngest as a big brother. I was spared much.

 I will probably experience random floods of emotion for years to come, but I’m okay with that. I have never found tears to be more healing than they have been in this last month. I am grateful to know so many people who have walked this path before me and have offered their comforting words. I am grateful for the willingness of so many to stand with the mess of a human that they call their friend. I love you all!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

This is not my calling...or is it?

I grew up in a military town. In fact, I grew up a few miles from the largest naval base in the world. Naturally military families have been a big part of my life. A a child, I had many friends who were around for a few years then moved across the country or even the globe. I had a hard time dealing with the loss of friends. We would do our best to keep in touch, but our relationships were never as close as when they lived near me. When I was ten years old, after going through the cycle of making and losing friends many times, I decided that I would NEVER marry a military man. I was convinced that I was not cut out for that kind of thing and did not want my children to have to deal with the pain of their friends leaving and more importantly their dad leaving for months at a time.

Fast forward eleven years and I met a wise, handsome, God fearing man named Anthony. I met him in a life group (fancy term for Bible study) at the church I had just started attending. He seemed like a neat guy. The only downside was that he was in the military. I was interested, but that whole military thing was really a bummer for me. He was shy, so despite the fact that I thought he was interested in me, I did not think he would ever ask me out. To my delight, I was wrong. He got out of active duty service and a few months later asked me out! I thought the stars had aligned and this would be perfect! In all honesty I wasn't quite so naive, but for at least a few moments I was. I remember thanking God for His perfect timing. What time could be better to start a relationship with the man of my dreams?!? He told me that he got out of active duty service to start going to school because he thought God had called him to be a chaplain in the military. After many conversations, I got the feeling that there was some flexibility with that calling, so I did not worry about it. Maybe God was calling him to chaplaincy, but maybe for a hospital or police department instead of the military.

Anthony went back to school to finish his bachelor's degree in the spring of 2009, eleven months before we were married. He started out with a lot of gen eds and I was pretty confident that he had heard God wrong and would be re-directed at some point. I thought maybe this was just the push to get him to stay in Virginia or go to Regent. Either way I was fine with it. I just knew that if God was really calling him to chaplaincy that He would show me too. And I was 99.9% sure he was NOT calling me to be a military wife.

After his first year or so at Regent he had to specify which track he was going to be on and chose Biblical studies. Again, I was not too concerned. I thought maybe being a pastor's wife wouldn't be bad. I grew up in the church, I know a lot of scripture and good Biblical teaching, and I love the Lord. That could work, right? I know a lot of pastor's wives who are amazing women and I'm sure I could call on them for advice and/or comfort if I needed help. It's not really what I envisioned for my life, but I thought it could be a good place to be. As the years past, and he got closer to graduation his desire to be a chaplain grew. My aversion to it also grew. I can't count the number of times I broke down crying at the thought of him going back into the military. I thought chaplains were needed, but I thought that was a job for another guy, another family. I prayed that the Lord would show me what He wanted, but I also prayed that it wouldn't be military service. At this point, you may be thinking I'm a whiny, selfish woman who lacks any hint of patriotism. And if I'm honest, at least the first two things are mostly true. I've spent countless hours of thinking what is best for MY family. I love people and want to be a blessing, but I really did not think I was even capable of handling the life of a military wife. I often said to my husband "I didn't marry you so that you could leave me! I didn't want kids so that I could raise them alone!" That's embarrassing to admit now, but that was how I was feeling. I felt like his choice to be in the military knowing what it would cost our family was selfish and not what God wanted for us. (Please bare with me and try not to get angry with me. I know a lot of military wives are probably reading this.)

Deployments are one of my biggest fears of entering active duty military life. They are not easy and they aren't meant to be easy. The military wants to keep sailors "uncomfortable" so that if they are called to battle they will be emotionally ready for the separation from family and home. That makes sense, but I always thought that life wasn't for me. Also, moving every few years was not something I had any interest in doing. I like where I live. My parents and sisters are all within twenty minutes of me and most of us see each other a few times a week. I love being close to my family. It's such a comforting thing with all that life throws at us. Plus there are very practical reasons for having family close. Especially now that I have children. My family and friends (many of whom I've know for many years) has been a huge help. If I'm sick and need help, or when I've been in the hospital delivering my babies, when I've wanted a date night, or when I've been overwhelmed I've always had someone to call. Someone that I trusted and who genuinely enjoyed being with me and/or my children. Family is a beautiful thing and I always wanted to be close to them. I still do.

My strong feelings about what military life would be like and what I thought the costs would be made me feel quite certain that I was not reading this wrong, until God lovingly smacked me in the face a couple times...ok, maybe more than a couple. I'm not sure when He started working on me, but it's been quite the process. I have resisted this with every fiber of my being. I've tried to reason with Anthony and prove to him that this was not right for us. That he had somehow misread the "feelings" God had given him. In an attempt to try to be submissive, I started going to a military care group for military wives. I decided thought that if I was supposed to be a military wife I should talk to other wives and learn more. Be more prepared, but I was also secretly hoping that God would confirm what I was already sure I knew: military life is not for the Lucarelli family. I met a wonderful group of women in this group. They were open and honest and I found that all of them thought life in the military was hard. One of the woman was having a rough time. Her husband had been deployed for over a year and still had a couple more months to go. Another talked about the hardship of having to move every two or three years. The actual process of moving, finding schools for her kids, making new friends, finding a new church, etc. I kept hearing story after story of things these women were dealing with. The more I heard the more emotional I became. I remember one night on the drive home from this group, Anthony asked me how I was liking the group and I just started balling. It wasn't so much a sad cry as an angry one. I was angry with Anthony for being okay with dragging me into a life I didn't want. For being okay with leaving me and his children for months at a time. For being okay with uprooting us every few years. For thinking more about the sailors than his own family. I was so not okay with that.

In the Summer of 2012, Anthony started his Masters of Divinity. At that point I realized that I really needed to come to terms with the fact that military life would most likely be a part of our future. I had the choice to support my husband or continue to fight him. Up until that point I had thought I was being smart. I was making sure he understood the cons and making him see that the cons really did outweigh the pros. God helped me to realize that I was the selfish one. I was making Anthony drag me, because I didn't want to believe where God was calling him. Where God had in fact called our family. Over the last three years, God has taken me on this journey towards submission to my husband. I hesitate to use that term, because I think our society has given it a bad connotation, but nonetheless that's what He's done. When I married my husband, I told him he was the leader of our house, but when things weren't going my way I tried taking it back.  I believed that I knew what was best for our family, not him. I had to apologize to him for my attitude and for my resistance. And I gave him back the tile of "leader" in our home. That was a really big step for me, and I'm so glad God brought me to the place where I could do that. Ever since that moment, I've been trying to see what God would have me do to support my husband, to learn about military life, to meet the needs of military family. He's given me a bigger soft spot for the military. I'm excited to see what place God will give me to serve and excited about possibly being a support to military wives who maybe are where I was a year or so ago (fighting my husband and the life God called us to).

I know the real work and test is still to come, since he is not active duty yet. I'm amazed at how much God has changed my heart so far. Getting to the point of surrender has been hard, and I will probably need to keep surrendering as things get tough. I know that He is not done with me yet and I still have a long way to go on this journey. I am no longer afraid of the future and I no longer dread it. God knows what is truly best for my family. His will may not be the most comfortable thing for our family, but it is what I want. I pray that I would be able to keep saying that no matter what comes! Here's to turning over a new leaf of surrender and hope for the future. Bring on military life!

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Family=My Mission Field

Over the past couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about missions trips and how neat it would be to go on one. My husband is working on coordinating a missions trip to Ghana at work and my church is doing a missions trip to Kenya. The longing to go is stronger than it’s been in years, but honestly I’m not really in a position to go. I have an almost four month old baby that I’m nursing and I have two other small children to take care of. I caught myself fantasizing about having the freedom to just go, when I was reminded that I’m already on the mission field. My children, my husband, my family-they are my mission field. It’s not as “glamorous” or awe-inspiring as feeding orphans, teaching scripture, building houses, or any other thing I’d do halfway across the world, but it’s just as important. I have three small children that as of right now do not fully understand the love of Christ. They can’t comprehend the meaning of Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sinful ways. I doubt they can even grasp the idea that they do sin! They don’t understand that He came to show us mercy not condemnation. Right now, I am the Jesus that they see. Before they can understand Love (Jesus is Love) on a mental level, they will experience and see it through others. I’m the person they see most. I am Christ's representative. I get to show them His love. I have to ask myself, “Am I showing them love like Jesus’ love?” Many times throughout my day the answer to that is, unfortunately, “No!” But loving my children is my mission nonetheless. I need to remind myself frequently that motherhood is not about what I get from my children, it’s about what I can give. They bring me immense joy, but many days I feel like I’m getting fussiness, frustration, and fatigue in a higher dose. Sometimes it’s hard to look at my messy house, the mediocre meal I threw together five minutes before my husband was supposed to get home, or even my chubby body, and think “Yes, this is what God called me to!” I definitely don’t feel like I can say “Nail it!” Honestly, a lot of the time I feel like a pretty sucky mom and especially housekeeper. I don’t feel like I can handle motherhood without a lot of help from my husband and so I feel majorly inadequate. My house is proof that I don’t have it all together. At the end of the day all I want to do is veg out on the couch with my husband. I have a hard time forcing myself to do anything once I sit down. Motherhood is not easy and it’s not always fun, but it is my mission. I will not always be “in the trenches” like another mom so eloquently put it, but it’s where I am now. I was asked the other day if there “are some areas of your life where you don’t feel you have the tools or skills to make a difference?” At the time I couldn't think of anything specific, but I think motherhood is the biggest area of my life where I can say that is true. I don’t have everything figured out and I never will, and that can be discouraging. But there is so much hope in knowing God will never leave us to do His work alone. He is by my side every minute of every day. He is there to guide me. He is there to help me stay calm when I feel like I’m going to explode. He is there to hold me in His arms when I’m so tired, that all I can do is fall on the couch in a heap of tears. He is with me! He is with you! Wherever you are right now, He is with you. How awesome is that!?!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

DIY Liquid Hand Soap

One of my least favorite things to buy is hand soap. I can never seem to get it for a good price, so I normally buy the giant bottle from Bj's or Wal-Mart. It pains me to buy things at regular price, but buying in bulk is usually the second best option to good sales. When it was just Anthony & I, hand soap wasn't something I gave much thought to. We were both working and going to school, so we really weren't home much. A big bottle of hand soap could last us months. $5 every few months was not breaking the bank.

Now that I'm a stay at home mom of two kids, its another story. It seems like I always have a reason to wash my hands. I take my kids to the bathroom, change Enzo's diaper, clean up food, boogers, and other questionable things from my kids faces, bodies, and/or clothes, clean random messes, and the list could go on. Not to mention that fact that Baby # 3 seems to be sitting right on my bladder and I have to pee every five seconds (you think I'm exaggerating...I wish!). So like I said, we...or more correctly, I use a lot of hand soap.

After running out yet again a few days ago, I decided to go to the trusty internet to see if there was a simple way to make it at home and save money. The first website I clicked on was gold. It was a blog post by a women named Haley who is the author of the "Cheap Recipe Blog." (I put the link at the bottom of this post)

The only two ingredients you need are a bar of soap and water. You will need a large pot, a fine grater (the smallest side of a traditional grater), and a funnel (unless you are more awesome than me at pouring liquid into small holes. =p). The recipe called for 1 Gallon of water and 1 bar of soap, but I made half a batch since I didn't think I would have enough dispensers or a container big enough to store it. The only other thing I did differently from the post, was to use a moisturizing and scented bar of soap instead of adding essential oils to an unscented bar. The batch made enough to fill five and a half 12 oz containers. Here is a little the cost comparison. At the Dollar Store (and I'm sure many other stores), you can buy one 12 oz bottle of hand soap (Softsoap) or a 3 pack of bar soap (Jergens, Palmolive, or Dial) for $1. With that 3 pack of soap you can make 33 bottles of your own hand soap!!! That is going to save us a lot of money. I am official converted to making my own, instead of buying it. Oh, and if you think it is hard to do, its not. It took me maybe ten minutes of actual work to make it. The longest part was waiting for it to get to room temperature, so I could fill the bottles.

If you are used to buying liquid hand soap, I highly recommend trying this recipe instead. Here are a few pictures of my first batch!

This is what half a bar looks like once it's grated. 

The finished product! 
Here is the link: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/11/04/diy-liquid-hand-soap-gift-handmade-holidays/

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Will Love You if I Feel Like it.

  • No one can tell you who to love
  • We fell in love 
  • I fell out of love
  • Listen to your heart
  • Do what feels right
This is just a short list of popular phrases about love. Our world basically says: "I will love you if I feel like it." So many people make love out to be some magical thing that you don't have any control over, but that isn't exactly true. We all have feelings that may seem magical at times, but they are feelings, not love. We can't always control what we feel, but we can control what we do with them. Most people will probably be attracted to someone at some point in their lives. God knows I've been attracted to my fair share of men, but thank God I didn't respond/react to that attraction every time. I would probably be a MESS if I had! Love is so much more than attraction. Here is a better list of what love is:
  • Patient,
  • Kind,
  • Not jealous,
  • Not boastful or proud,
  • Not rude,
  • Doesn't demand it's own way,
  • Is not irritable,
  • Keeps no record of wrong,
  • Doesn't rejoice in injustice,
  • Rejoices when truth wins,
  • Never gives up
  • Is always hopeful
  • Endures through every circumstance. (I Cor. 13:4-7)
I'm sensing a theme here. Love is about how we treat other people. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own issues, feelings, and desires. It's easy to forget that it isn't about us at all. We are called to love because we have been loved, but not just when we feel loved. Not just when we feel like loving. 

I am married. That doesn't mean I will never be attracted to anyone else ever again. I'm still human, and I still find men attractive. Marriage didn't suddenly blind me from every other good looking guy on the planet. I am still responsible for how I look at men and what I do with them. As a married women, I choose not to cultivate solo-friendships with men (outside of my family). I do not run for cover every time a man walks into the room, but I won't seek them out. If I'm going to be hanging out with a man other than my husband, then either my husband or another women will be there. That may sound silly to some of you, but the truth is we are sinful people and we need accountability. It is too easy to start the slippery slope to making awful choices. I doubt that most people who have an affair wake up one morning and say "You know what? Today seems like a good day for me to find someone to cheat on my husband/wife with." The Bible says "...the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness...(2 Corinthians 11:3). The good news, is that our God is bigger and smarter than Satan and He has given us resources for making good choices and knowing the difference between right and wrong. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." I love, love, love that verse! I love the picture it paints. Temptation is overwhelming. It overtakes us. If we are tempted by something, someone else has been as well. BUT temptation does NOT control us. If God is telling the truth (which I have seen proven many times), then there is always a way of escape. How encouraging is that?!? That verse has become my anthem over the years. I memorized it as a teenager and whenever I am struggling with a particular sin, I say that verse often. Whenever I feel tempted to do something I shouldn't, I say that verse and look for the escape. I am amazed by God's faithfulness. There have been so many times when I didn't think there could be a way out, but when I looked it was there. Everyone is tempted by different things. For some people it may be the urge to gossip, for some it may be sexual, for others it may be lying, stealing, pride, envy, etc. The list goes on and on, but we are ALL tempted. 

One thing that verse is not, is an excuse to push the envelope when it comes to temptation. When it comes to romantic relationships, I have heard so many people say they are okay with being alone with a person, and with making out because they wouldn't ever go too far. The Bible doesn't say "only go as far as you think you can handle, then stop." It says " Flee from sexual immorality..." (1 Cor. 6:18). When we don't follow this, we are letting our feelings guide us, not love. 

I had one serious relationship, before my husband. It was a whirlwind disaster, but I learned a lot from it. One thing I learned was NOT to "listen to my heart." If I would have done that I would have stayed with him and missed out on the life I have now. Would we have been okay? Sure, we would probably still be together, but my life would most likely be more complicated. 

Love isn't about fate, chance, or even feelings. Love is about choices. We can choose to love with our actions or we can choose to hate. We can choose to go out of our way to show people we mean "I love you" or we can hope that the words speak loud enough. Every significant relationship we have, whether romantic or platonic, will most likely be tested at some point. The only way we can pass the test is by making love a choice, not a feeling.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Forget the Mailman!

My mom has always been good at remembering people who help us throughout the year; people who are typically forgotten. As a kid, we had the best mailman. Our mailbox was attached to our house, so everyday he would walk up to our front door to give us our mail. My sisters and I would listen for him and open the door quickly to catch him before he left. He would tell my mom "My, what handsome boys you have!" or some other silly comment. We looked forward to seeing him everyday. Around Christmas my mom would always make him some sort of baked goods, usually cookies if I'm remembering correctly. She would give him a big ol' plate and he didn't care that he was going to have to lug it around with him. He looked forward to the treats every year. Mom also baked goodies for our mechanic (who we saw often with our 1984 Dodge Ram van that loved to break down...are our many other used cars!), and a few others.

I have always wanted to follow in my mom's footsteps with this, but have only done it a couple of times for a few random people. I don't think I've given to the same person two years in a row yet. This year I'm hoping to change that! Having that giant pumpkin helped motivate me this year. I made a couple batched of pumpkin bread and instead of making loaves, I make cupcakes. That made it easier to give to more people. The batches I made would have made four loaves, but I was able to make a little over fifty cupcakes with the same amount. This is an easy, inexpensive way to show somebody you appreciate them. I bought the little snowflake bags at the Dollar Tree. They came in packs of twenty-five (for $1) and they come with twisty ties. Four cupcakes fit perfectly. For groups of people, loaves or cookies may be easier. 

There are so many people we can give too. Who do you know that makes your life a little easier or someone you just want to bless? Is it your mailman, mechanic, teachers, garbage man, UPS or Fed-Ex person, Pastor, Nursery/Sunday School teachers, co-workers, boss, doctors & staff, etc? Let's bless some people this Christmas season! 

If you do something like this or have found other fun ways to spread some Christmas cheer, I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment with your ideas if you care to share. =)

Add Sprinkles before you put them in the over to add a little Christmas flair!

Write a personal note on the Christmas card. You can also tape a packet of hot cocoa to the inside of it "To warm you up when you get home." The cocoa is especially nice for people who work outside in the cold. 

You can make it more fancy if you like, or keep it simple like me. 

You can use Scotch tape to write what kind of goodies are inside as well as secure the ribbon to the bag. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013