Friday, October 19, 2012

InstaFriday: Califonia edition!

So the Captain and I went to California last week...
To visit favorite sister Sara, favorite brother Ryan and favorite nieces Charlie and Sam.
Did I mention we went without the boys!?!?! I know... amazing. My mother-in-law and my mom were amazing and watched the little guys for 6 days so Andy and I could have a vacation. It was so much fun. The last time the Captain and I were able to get away was a cruise right after Caden died. It was beautiful... but not what I count as a true vactaion... so this trip was long awaited and anticipated. We COULD NOT have gone without Sara and Ryan and our parents. We are SO thankful.

Not only had I never seen where Sara and Ryan live, I had never before been to California, so all was new to me. Well, me and the Captain, he had never been to the sunny state either.

My sister and brother were great hosts. We had a comfy airmattress and all the baby girls we could squeeze. Also, they fed us well and made sure we had plenty of entertainment.
It was fun to meet Sara's sweet friends and see into her life. Her family is well loved and cared for so far from her Indy home. It did my heart well to see my loved ones so loved on.

In exchange for the room and board, Ryan had a small to-do list awaiting my arrival. So while Sara and I chatted, loved on babies and caught up throughout my stay, I reupholstered 5 dinning chairs, helped pick out fabric and decorate the girls' room as well as hung pictures. So fun to be able to help.

I am not going to lie... I blew up the instagram whilst on my trip. I am certain people were all "Cari, we get it.. Your in CA, having a good time, seeing things and stuff... but do you have to take a picture of EVERYTHING?!?!?!?"  To which I shall respond... yes, yes I do.
So because I took a picture of eveything and then immediatly instagramed that bad boy... this post is LOADED with pics. your eyes may bleed it is so long... so beware.
(if you want to follow me on instagram my screen name is carichastain)

you have been warned.
(also... I am wearing BIG bug-eyed sunglasses in nearly all the shots I am in. My sister-in-law cringes inwardly... and sometimes outwardly, at my choice in eye protection... but deep inside my soul sings because of  large, fabulous sunglasses...FYI)

I am still unsure what transpired to result in this... but whewn Sara and I came home from being out with the girls, Ryan and the Captain were napping/resting here...
Just chalking this one up to brotherly love...

 Sara has the cutest girls. Charlie is 7 weeks older than Ryder and Sam is 6 months old. They are both smiley and giggly and SO laid back. If I had kids like hers I think I might have 17. They were so fun and squishable!

As any good Aunt would do, I tried to make some good memories. I gave Charlie her first pigtails.
Dying from the cuteness...

Sam looks like Sara as a baby. Just like. Clones... it's kinds creepy.
She is adorable though...

Sara took me to Disneyland. Just sisters. No kids. No husbands.
(they were hiking a mountain and gruntig and scratching and being manly)
It was SO fun. Everytime I saw a screaming child, or a parent trying to entertain their kids while in line for a ride... I smiled and thought "hahaha... suckers!"
It was awesome.

Sara had been there before.
She was my tourguide.
She did well.

We had a lot of time to chill and hang out as a family. Grilling out, cooking, eating, playing games. It was fun and relaxing. Ryan is a great addition to our family. In fact, he fits in so well, it is hard to believe he hasn't been here forever!

Charlie likes to eat.
the end.

One beautiful evening while we were there, we took a short trip over to Hunington Beach.
Our sole purpose for going was to see Jennie and Nick.
My friends from CHICAGO.
in Hunington Beach CALIFORNIA.

They were in town for her grandmothers 80th birthday and were spending time with family at a beach house. So we took advantage of being close to drop in and say hello.
It still seems crazy and amazing to me that we were there at the same time.

After a quick visit with the Murdocks, we headed to the pier. It was a great night to walk the pier, people watch, see some dolphins, a sea lion and watch the sunset.

and hang with the Captain.

The last full day of our trip, Ryan was back at work and Sara generously gave up some of her time with us so we could go on a day-date.
The Captain and I headed out to Newport Beach and spent the day perusing the shops, eating and going out on a whale watching cruise.

We saw no whale... but we did sail up to a pod of dolphins, about 100 in number. They stayed around the boat for about half an hour. It was so amazing to see so many of them swimming together and diving and flipping out in the ocean.

Before we headed back, we decided to go get our feet wet in the ocean.
The Pacific waves are CRAZY!!!
We both got much wetter than expected.
My crazy husband kept running out with the waves then trying to beat them back and not get soaked...
he lost. This pic of him makes me laugh... he's showing a lot of thigh...

All too soon it was time to back and head out for the airport. I was super sad to leave Sara, Ryan and my girls, but I was anxious to get home to see my precious babies.
I missed them.
Don't get me wrong... it was SHAAAWEEEEET having a break, but I missed the hugs and cuddles... and just being near them.

And then... on the way home, on a random Tuesday afternoon in the Cleveland airport... I ran into Julie and Macy. Who are from New York. CRAZY!!!!
Life is awesome.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

a reminder

When Caden died my struggle was obvious.

Hard, ugly, constant , soul-ripping grief.

To cling to Christ in maddeningly overwhelming circumstances was easy. I had nothing else. He was literally saving me every day, every minute, as I reminded myself of Truth.
His love.
His care.
His faithfulness.
His peace.
His plan.
His will.
His healing.

I was reminded and renewed by His truth daily... hourly. Because I had to be to breathe, to focus... to keep it together. I was given the gift of living in the hard to see Him in a new and refreshing way.
I was given the gift of steady, constant communion and fellowship with my savior. It wasn't always pretty. Some days were filled with tears and questions and uncertainty... but it was closeness. It was sweet... it was beautiful.

Now, four years later, my house reverberates with screeching boys. Toy cars slam into each other, into walls... into brothers. My furniture is rearranged and leaped upon and climbed up and bounded over. My floors are never clean and my dishes and laundry are always staring me in the face.
And because of His merciful and gracious healing... my life is full of being a wife and a mommy and not full of grief.

Yet, deep in my heart, I struggle. Because in the calm... in the peace... in the "normal" I struggle for the closeness. I become so overwhelmed with the chaos of my day that I miss the big important picture.
I ache for the clarity that comes with communion.
I long for the joy that comes with constant fellowship.

My days seem heavy.
My heart weighted down.

I look back on the season of grief with awe and a twinge of , dare I say, want... because it was a sweet, sweet time with my Savior.

My soul thirsts for more. I pray for endurance, for patience with my boys, for energy...all the while I just need Him.
Not all the "answers" to my immediate problems.
Just Jesus.
When my focus is right, all the chaos, the struggle the build up of impatience and anger ebb away.

He is enough,

It occurred to me the other day, that God has given me the same amazing opportunity to remind myself daily, hourly, of His amazing truth.
He has given me children to teach about Him.
He has blessed me with boys to tell about Christ.
About His truth.
His love.

His care.
His faithfulness.
His peace.
His plan.
His will.
His healing.

He has provided the same sweet gift, of living in the hard (because being a mommy is hard) to see Him in a new and refreshing way. To remind myself of God's goodness and love by teaching my boys.
 If I can reign in the moment, If I can get ahold of the minutes that fly by... If I can take the chaos that is mommy-dom and turn it into those sweet moments of repeating God's truth aloud to my boys, of reminding myself of who Jesus is... this will make all the difference.

I need to view the present, beautiful mess that is my everyday at home in the same way I viewed my life when it was torn by grief.

Every moment, every breath, I need Him to get me through.

My struggle might look different, but the solution is exactly the same.