Monday, February 28, 2011

Faith

Blogging is a funny thing.  I began writing in 2003, during a very difficult period in my life.  I was completely open and raw and uncensored.  Basically, writing became my therapeutic path to healing.

Goodness... how everything has changed!

I have so many family members, friends, clients, and acquaintances who read my blogs now.  I have to be so much more careful about what I say and how I say it.  I've had things misinterpreted or blown out of proportion more times this year than I care to remember.  I want my blog to be a blessing, and not a source of stress.

I want to be able to be honest and open with what I am thinking and feeling.  I love to write.  I love to be heard and responded to.  I like having a record of exactly whats happening in my life, to look back on.  Writing helps me sort out my feelings, too.

I have, apparently, failed at my second 365 attempt.  It is just too much for me at this point in life.  I do take photos everyday, but I don't have time to post and write about them every day... or even once a week.  I'm glad I started it, as it reminded me how important blogging is to me.  But I can just honestly say, a 365 project isn't for me.

I want to talk about some things here that may be difficult topics.  I want your feedback and prayers, and your understanding.  I want to be able to live my life openly without fear of being misunderstood.

I'm just going to write honestly again and see how it goes.

I'm struggling a lot with faith.  While I can tell you (thanks be to GOD!) that I finally have a calm surety that there is a God and He loves us very much, that He sent His son Jesus Christ to save us, and that the greatest command He gives us is to LOVE one another... my understanding of it all is shifting.

I'm having a difficult time coming to terms with the Catholic Church leadership and authority.  Since I converted to Catholicism based on this very issue, it is a painful thing to struggle with.  I am not leaving the Catholic Church, please don't misunderstand.  But so many things have changed within my heart.  I think it is a good thing... there is a lot of peace in my heart & mind.

I'm trying to work out for myself (with LOTS of help from God, studying and reading) just how far Church authority extends.  It isn't an easy thing to navigate.  I can't do anything halfway.  I am not the kind of person who can "fake it til I make it" and I am certain that I obsessively over-analyze just about everything.

Anyway, I guess I'm just asking for your continued friendship and prayers as I figure it all out.  :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Exactly 24 Hours Left!!!

Adam and *his* baby girl, Sophie.  Waiting outside of a Tulsa Courtroom on Sophie's Adoption Day!

I'm not asking for anything extraordinary.  Just two clicks.

First click here: http://melissazihlman.com/Blog/2011/02/07/all-you-need-is-love-continental-giveaway-voting-melissa-zihlman/

Then vote on the survey at the bottom by clicking #2 Lerin.

There are no tricks, no requirements to become a "fan", nothing to download... just two clicks.  Only one vote per IP address will count, so just once is enough.


As of this second we're just a few votes away from first place, and voting ends tomorrow at 8PM CST.  This is our last chance!

Adam and I have been selected as finalists in a contest to win a professional photography session. We've never had professional photos as a couple, not even for our engagement and I would love to win them to celebrate our anniversary in May.  The awesome photographer will actually fly here to us and give us a complimentary session with digital files. There are many beautiful stories on this page, but I'm asking you to scroll down and vote for #2 on the survey at the bottom of the page.

I'm begging you to please click here http://melissazihlman.com/Blog/2011/02/07/all-you-need-is-love-continental-giveaway-voting-melissa-zihlman/ and vote for us.  It is a small thing for you, just 30 seconds out of your day, but it will be the gift of a lifetime for us.

Thank you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Please, help!



Adam and I have been selected as finalists in a contest to win a professional photography session. We have never had Engagement Photos and I would love to win them to celebrate our anniversary in May.

There are many beautiful stories on this page, but I'm asking you to scroll down and vote for #2 on the survey at the bottom of the page.

Please click here and vote for us.

Comment below letting me know that you did, so I can thank you!

Here was the full entry... I'm wordy, so she had to edit! ;)

The love of my life? My husband, Adam.

I came from a difficult background. I got married right out of high school to my boyfriend, and we had the textbook definition of a co-dependent relationship. It was a very hard life. When I was 21, I gave birth to my first baby... a little girl called Sophie. Sophie gave me the courage & strength to end the cycle of abuse, and make a safe and happy life for the two of us. Divorce was never something I planned for myself. Single parenting was the loneliest time of my life, and I shed many tears over the broken dream of having what I considered to be a "whole" family.

At 21, I was adamant that I would never date again... much less marry. I knew I would never be able to trust a man enough to let him into my daughter's life or into my heart. I threw all of my energy into finishing my bachelor's degree. I nannied for a college professor during the day, where I could bring my own baby along, and went to school at night, while my mother helped me with Sophie. It was a lot of work, but I had accepted that it would be Sophie & me against the world. I was determined to make a happy life for her, and to provide her with everything she needed.

Then, I met Adam.

He was speaking at a religious youth retreat. His talk touched my walled-up heart so deeply. For the first time in years, I let myself cry in public. I told him afterward that his story was moving and that I appreciated him sharing. He gave me a big hug, and I was surprised enough to allow it. Over the next few months, Adam and I got to know each other via AOL instant messenger. I was Mommy during the day, and a student at night... I was up until 2 and 3 in the morning doing homework. Adam was an insomniac, and kept me company with funny little one-liners.

Our friendship naturally bloomed into a romance, thanks to one of my girlfriends expressing an interest in Adam. I was FURIOUS! I realized that I must have deep feelings for him that I wasn't ready to admit to myself. When Adam asked me on our first real date, I found myself saying yes. And we lived relatively happily ever after.

Adam is a beautiful, loyal, faithful person. I've never known anyone so dedicated to his wife and family. He has helped me grow so much as a person, healing wounds I didn't know that I had. He has helped me learn to trust, to love, to express vulnerability without fear. He has shown me that two people can disagree without an argument or violence. He has given me nothing but respect, and taught me to walk with my head up again. I just can't even begin to put into words what a special person he is. When he kisses me almost seven years into "us", I still feel like I'm flying!

The most wonderful thing of all that he has done for me... he not only legally adopted my Sophie, but we've gone on to have three more children, so far! I always wanted to be a mother to many, and he has given me that too.

Adam and I have never had a professional photography session for just the two of us. Our "engagement" stage was full of planning for our transfer to Houston and of jumping through legal hoops for his adoption of our Sophie. Photos are extremely important to me. I would love to have an "engagement" style photography session, even though we have been married for more than 6 years now.

Please consider us for your giveaway. We would treasure these images more than you can imagine. I promise, we'll have a HUGE print on display as we dance at our 50th Anniversary party... surrounded by our children, grandchildren, and dear friends who've shared the life we made together. I say with complete sincerity: my life is truly a dream come true.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Catching Up Post: 024-032/365

These images truly express this last week. We've had sick kids, then nice weather, then more sick kids. So here, without any fancy bloggery or templates...

First, the best cake smash photo in the history of ever. :)



Next, we had another sick day. Even Adam had to stay home from work. Sophie and Adam were quarantined to the Man Room to watch TV and keep their germs away from the rest of us. ;)



And then, it was Bella's turn.



As if round one wasn't bad enough, the tummy bug hit her on day two. She had her first taste of 7Up, the medicine of choice for sickies. Or at least, that's what my mom gave me.





Once she was well (for a few days, anyway) Lucy was happy to finally get outside and play!



On the 29th, I did some Mini-Sessions for Valentine's Day. While I'm not sure her Mom will appreciate this as much as I do... well... this made me laugh out loud in post-processing. ;)



On Sunday, only Adam and Sophie went to Mass with my brother, who was in town. Ben got to paint!



Monday was the last day of January, already. I was thrilled to get my first package from The Girly Tutu, a fabulous Etsy vendor. I threw Lulu in the car as fast as I could and we took 10 minutes worth of photos at Heritage Park before the cold weather rolled in. I love this picture so much I want to cry when I see it for joy at the beauty of my baby!



On February 1st, I forgot to snap a photo during the day. Instead, I photographed Ben as he was VERY UNHAPPILY in his bed. Bedtime is always such a huge disappointment for my babies. They never want the fun to end.



Today, Lucy's fever spiked again. We had an appointment to review her bloodwork and are happy to say she is NOT immunodeficient! But, we have a lot of test results to wait for. I'm hopeful that she will get better soon. I hate it that my family is always sick, but Lucy gets the worst of it.

The only thing that makes her feel better? Yo Gabba Gabba videos.