She Will Water The Pumpkin – A lesson on Anger and Acceptance – Part 2

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I’ve been quiet. I’d say too quiet…but that is not true. I feel comfortable with how quiet I’ve been. It’s been intentional. I’ve been learning. Cultivating. Growing. Stretching.

Life with two littles is as full as it is fun. It’s as hard as it is beautiful.

I love being home with them. I love watching Summer learn and develop. I love watching Samuel grow.

But working from home, and mothering, and wife-ing, and housekeeping, and friend-ing…it’s a lot. Parts of my mind have felt overwhelmed and tired. All the while, my heart has sat in the tension of all these demands with a sense of contentment.

Above all – this season has reminded me that yes, I’m unfit for motherhood. And yes, I’m in process. But, more than anything, I’m not going to get it right all of the time.

And that’s okay.

Continue reading “She Will Water The Pumpkin – A lesson on Anger and Acceptance – Part 2”

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Escaping My Crib: I Blame Faithwalking

Just kidding about the Faithwalking part.

Sort of.

Okay, not really. God uses Faithwalking to make you do hard things, or so I’m learning. More on what Faithwalking is to come…

Summer is one of the most high-energy, risk-taking individuals I know.

At 8 months old, I caught her swinging from her high chair. She charged the stairs at 9 months, fully convinced she could climb up and down them without trouble. She began swinging from her mobile at 10 months. Around one year old, she began scaling up towering furniture, testing the stability and durability of our Ikea-strength furnishings. A few months later, she dove out of a shopping cart onto concrete, rendering a concussion and a nasty bruise.

And so, as Summer continued to grow and develop we waited for the day that our only source of containment would render itself powerless. We awaited the day that she would escape her crib.

Not only did we expect her to escape her crib, but we fully expected to find her downstairs juggling knives or drawing stick figures with chalk in the middle of the street at midnight.

But, low and behold, this little girl who would happily hang from the rafters without fear, never – not once – attempted to escape the crib. In fact, she would often beg us to leave her there. She would play happily in her crib for hours until we returned to lift her out. Perplexed, we waited. Why induce a level of freedom when we had a newborn on the way?

The weird thing? She never really tried to escape. One night we had an odd casualty where she launched herself out of the crib out of desperation for us to come get her, but that never happened again. We simply decided as Samuel joined our family that it would be appropriate for her to bid farewell to the crib so Samuel could begin napping in it when he was about 4 months old.

Summer was terrified. She did not want to say goodbye to the crib. It became clear that was her safe place. Her resting place. A predictable place where she knew she could play, have her pacifier, sleep, read, and sing without fear. Pulling her out of that crib was pulling her out of a very comfortable and safe space.

At first, she approached her big girl bed with timidity. But once she sat in it for a while and realized she could enjoy some of the same comforts in that new space, she was game. She quickly came to love her big girl bed and the freedom it brought. Her first nap was over 3 hours long. Her first night sleep over 10 hours.

You know what can be funny about life as adults? We can become like my daughter in her crib.

Even though our personalities lead us to experience certain types of transformation and growth, we limit ourselves by choosing to remain in our comfort zone.

We don’t always trust that a big girl bed will be on the other side, so we choose to remain in the comfort of predictability. We choose constraints in life because it feels safe.

We can spiritualize this by saying, “I am called to this specific population” or “I just love my community and prefer to focus my energy there” or “well, that’s not my gifting” or “I’ll pray for you” or “I’m called to this city.”

Well, ya’ll, God is pulling me out of my crib. And it’s terrifying.

I recently experienced an intensive our church provides called Faithwalking. At this retreat, attendees are walked through a process of allowing God to re-wire the way they view themselves and the way they engage their role in various systems.

At this retreat, I felt God really pressing me to lean into a gifting of teaching He has for me. Even typing that feels so hard. Some of you may think that is silly after all I’ve shared through this blog and over coffee with strangers.

But, the reality is, this is hard. For me, it feels so embarrassing and prideful to assume that I have any sort of gifting. I know, I know, you may say, “how can that be true?” – similar to how I thought, “how could Summer – of all kids – not want to escape her crib?” I grew up in a great family where my parents acknowledged and fostered growth in certain skills and talents. I’ve been encouraged by leaders and teachers throughout my life regarding various strengths they have seen in me. And yes, I know what the Bible says about gifts.

Though it doesn’t make a great deal of sense, it’s my reality. It’s terribly uncomfortable to put myself out there in a role as teacher and to communicate any sort of information outside of simply my vulnerable and messy moments with my children.

My greatest fear in stepping into this role is twofold: I don’t want to be perceived as prideful or presumptuous. Simultaneously, I have a deep fear that I’ll be perceived as ignorant.

The truth is, the best teachers are learners. I am learning to let God lead me out of my comfort zone. It’ll be messy and I’ll make mistakes, but I’m taking the leap.

This Sunday, on Mother’s Day, I will be launching a new website. This website will not replace LivingUncovered.com. Instead, it will be a different, more focused, space where I share on the subject of rest and motherhood with rhythm and intentionality.

The goal of this new site is to provide avenues for mothers to experience the essence of rest necessary to be good mothers and walk in the fullness of God’s calling on their lives.

Stay tuned for Sunday when I will publicly share this particular website. I have this strange sensation of stage fright (it’s more of a Video Blog (vlog) format), but I also have hope. Hope that if this doesn’t serve anyone else, at least God will use it to show me another layer of freedom.

Courage is doing things while you’re scared. So I’m going to do this, scared. Eeek!

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Beholding His Face

The fact that I pocketed bacon and a Belle dress at the airport spoke volumes of how I’ve grown into motherhood, and how often I have traveled with Summer.

Though she has been on 30 something flights, this was Summer’s first flight during which she was keenly aware of her surroundings, the airplane, and the purpose of the trip. She announced to most people, “I going to da beach!” with excitement, and continued to entertain many with her zealous approach to traveling.

With her princess roller board in tow, she charged the gate with excitement. She had developed so much cognitively since the last flight, that this seemed to be a whole different experience.

I rolled Samuel through the terminal, watching my happy girl skip along. She and Ryan share the sweetest bond, and they played all sorts of games while we awaited our flight.

After boarding, we set up all the systems for airborne chaos management within the first few minutes. This time, Summer had her own seat, which was a new (and very expensive) development in our Hudson travel escapades.

We took off, and Summer carefully watched as we lifted off the ground. She immediately began coloring and engaging in whatever activity we sat before her.

The flight attendant came on the intercom and announced that the flight would experience a great deal of turbulence, and asked that we keep our seats for the majority of the flight.

Summer jumped up and onto her daddy’s lap and they began to watch a movie. Soon, the turbulence set in. I was curious to see how she would respond, so I paid close attention to her expressions.

There truly is nothing worse than seeing the look of panic cover the face of your child. As the bumps began, her expression quickly changed from pleasant to one of worry. I wanted to reach out and touch her. I wanted to assure her that we were okay. But, she didn’t look to me.

Instead, she turned and looked at the face of her daddy.

Ryan smiled and exclaimed “weeee,” while we bumped along, as if he was riding a roller coaster. The tension in Summer’s body visibly melted away as she saw her daddy confidently having fun. She cupped his face and took in his countenance as we were jarred around. She began to giggle and join in her father’s playful noises. His confidence and peace was contagious.

When life gets bumpy, it can become so tempting to look out of the window at the potential fall. Instead of relying on evidence or science, we rely on our emotions. Instead of beholding the countenance of our Father, we look to our right and our left, and absorb the feelings of anxiety or panic that surround us. I can’t help but assume, if we truly observe the face of our Father during these moments of struggle, we would “soar on the wings of eagles,” as the Scriptures say. We would approach life’s challenges with a sanctified and unshakable confidence. We would know rest and peace when the world knows fear and chaos.

My prayer is as the bumps of life come along, whether it be political, economical, or relational, that I would not look out the window or to other passengers joining me on this ride called life.

My prayer is that I would instead behold my Father’s face, and take on His countenance as I lean into friendship with Him. Surely He is not shaken by the turbulence we endure. Thank you, all knowing and good Father, for offering us peace, confidence, and joy when life gets turbulent.

Relenting the rights to my Reputation

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Has anyone ever lied about you and you’ve found yourself floundering to correct the lie?

This is a story of yes, my desire for the lie to be corrected, but also how I’m learning to surrender the rights to my reputation and trust God as my defender. It’s also my attempt to tackle this mommy shaming trend.

After a night of broken sleep, I wandered into the bathroom blurry eyed and desperate for a cup of coffee. I heard the “ding” of my phone sign off, alerting me of an incoming Facebook message. After waking up a bit, I decided to glance at my messages to ensure I hadn’t overlooked something important.

Upon noticing the sender’s name I thought, “how strange, I haven’t talked to her in years!” I opened the message and, surprisingly, a picture of myself stared right back at me. “Ugh. Another one of those scams,” I thought. I moved on, and then felt this inkling to re-visit the message and take a closer look.

Hm. It seemed that it was not a scam. It was legitimately a photo of myself plastered on a popular webpage suggesting I had made remarks about disliking my child and, also, including a false insinuation regarding my husband’s faithfulness.

What’s worse? This website oozed with mommy-shaming.

Mess with me all you want, but the bear in me will, indeed, come out if you mess with my kids or my husband. And if you shame moms who are struggling with their mental health (sic’em).

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 1.58.44 PM^ This is the click bait photo (so if you were to share the article on social media, this is the icon that would appear in your post), but this is also the photo used for the headline of the article.

I sat for a minute and practiced every form of grounding and relaxation exercise I could think of.

“Okay. It’s okay. This can be the price of this sort of ministry,” I thought to myself, “I won’t be reactive. I’ll sit with this for a while before responding.”

I wrestled with this feeling of powerlessness, and also this fear that me and Ryan’s ministry and reputation could be compromised. After all, not all of my readers know me personally.

“Don’t you know I’m bigger than this flimsy website?” I heard the Lord ask, “I am your defender. I overcome the world.”

I had never encountered this before. The need to know God as my defender. As the defender of my precious children and my husband.

It’s so easy to try and cling to something that I willingly surrendered when I gave my life over to Jesus. When I surrendered my life to Him, I surrendered the rights to my reputation. The rights to my comfort. The rights to my conveniences. He owns these areas of my life, now. And as I allow Him to oversee these pieces, I actually experience greater freedom, and more peace.

This circumstance has brought me to my knees in a different way. It has taught me a new way of trusting God to do what He says he will do as my defender and as a shield around me.

I have written the website, Babygaga, a letter requesting that the article be revised and that my photo be removed. But, more importantly, I’ve asked that they consider featuring my series on Perinatal Mental Health from LivingUncovered.com.

I do believe God could turn this to good. I believe that this particular article can be redeemed as we educate the readers of this site on maternal mental health.

My goal in sharing this is not to correct the lie about my thoughts or my marriage that is out there. Many of my readers follow this blog closely, so even if they do not know me personally, they bear witness to my journey and would hopefully know my truth.

But, for the sake of my children potentially coming across anything false like this one day, and to address the greater lie that abounds at the root of this article: that mothers who struggle with mental health are vile, I would like to see a change made to this article. I desperately hunger to see a change in the way we approach struggling mothers in our society. So, please, advocate. Educate. And Love.

Don’t spread shame. And don’t re-circulate articles that do so.


Please join me in advocating for more gracious and educated coverage of mothers on babygaga.com, and if you feel so led, please encourage them to share my series on perinatal mental health as a springboard for education and conversation.

Here is the article I’m referencing 

Here is an e-mail address where you can send a note. pr@babygaga.com

And here is the contact form for general inquiries

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

2 Thessalonians 3:3

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“The Lord is a shield around me; my glory and the lifter of my head.”

Psalm 3:3

The Smeared Banana Sparkles

Grocery shopping has taken on a whole new meaning after children.

I mean, I used to run in and spend an hour browsing the aisles, reading the labels, sifting the coupons to find the best deal, pausing at the Starbucks for some coffee. I’d pick up some items for work along the way, and I’d usually be in nice pants and a blouse.

Now when I go, I feel like I’m on an episode of survival.

I’m typically wearing exercise clothes. I have the entire store mapped out, and my rout memorized. I know just what to grab off the shelf. No more label reading – if it turns out I’m allergic to the product, I just won’t eat it when I get home, the rest of the family can enjoy it instead. If I realize upon getting home that it contains more sugar than I’d like, oh well.

I consume more than enough coffee before the event, knowing every ounce of caffeine will make a difference. I know just how long I have before a kid melts down. And I’m keenly aware of how many tantrums I can mentally handle.

It was a standard grocery run. I lugged Samuel into the store and held Summer’s hand. I was ready for the challenge.

As was expected, Summer soon began to cry. Samuel followed suit.

I’ve purposed myself to smile when this happens.

I stop. I breathe. I lean in and kiss Summer’s forehead. And talk to her about her behavior, all while offering a genuine smile. I offer this smile because it is so rare that I see parents doing so as their kids meltdown in public.

Even though the grocery store tantrums are one of the more tiring aspects of parenthood, it really is a privilege to coach and grow these little humans. I want to remember that. On this day, I would be reminded of that.

I sincerely do not want to parent her out of a place of anger or rage. So, I am working to choose joy, even in the midst of feeling impatient and frustrated. I want her to know that her behavior is not going to control my emotions or choices. This may not be correct parenting. There is probably some flaw within it that somebody can find. But, nonetheless, it’s what I’ve felt led to do so far.

 

After climbing out of the grocery store trenches unscathed by the cries of my baby or the meltdown of my toddler, I approached the cashier stand with confidence. Summer was still whining for her pacifier and Samuel clearly needed to be fed, but we had collected every item on our list! A true win.

I looked up at the cashier and she was looking at me as though my breast was out of my shirt (this has happened before. Nursing + sleep deprivation = embarrassing moments).

I quickly looked down, praying I hadn’t just waltzed through King Soopers flashing every neighbor I saw.

Nope. I was clothed.

“Is there something in my teeth?” I thought. I did a quick assessment as best as I could. Nope, that wasn’t it.

Feeling self-conscious, I pulled out my wallet and prepared to pay. At this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what she saw.

“You know you have something on your shirt?” She asked.

“What?” I replied, looking down at my shirt.

There was the normal amount of debris plastered across my front. Some evidence of spit up. Dog hair. And some smeared banana on my shoulder from when Summer nestled her nose into my arm during a meltdown intervention.

“Oh, this?” I looked at her and pointed to my shoulder. She nodded her head. “Oh, this is just smeared banana,” I replied with a sense of relief.

Then it hit me. Should I care about this? Do I appear unkept? Had I given up all hope of looking nice? Am I not honoring God through caring for my body and clothes? (I know. Ridiculous, right?)

The enemy began to bombard me with lies about the burden of motherhood and how life had taken a turn for the miserable.  I couldn’t shop for work items anymore, because being a walking napkin is my work. I couldn’t look put-together if I tried because the time to do so is hard to come by.

I put the kids in the car and handed Summer her pacifier begging her to “just be quiet.” My eyes watered as Samuel continued to wail. “What have I done with my life?” I asked myself. “Or worse, what have I done to my husband’s life?”

I pulled into my garage and got out of the car to breathe in some silence before helping the children out. As I closed my eyes, I felt God speaking.

In my mind, God gave me this picture of my shirt and all of the debris turned to beautiful sparkles. I felt Him saying, “This is how I see the smeared banana. This mess is true beauty. The price of motherhood is high, yes, but you get to experience a sacred love. A messy love. A love that shapes the future and powerfully ushers my Kingdom to earth.

That banana was smeared on you by Summer because she nestled her nose into your arm during a tantrum. She was scared and angry. You smiled and reminded her that no matter how ugly her behavior was, you still had My joy and strength to offer her. That’s what will change the world. Holding to joy when it’s hard, and seeing sparkles in the smeared banana.”

I opened the car door and things did not get easier. The cries got louder and demands got more ridiculous and obnoxious leading up to nap time. But, with every meltdown, with every spill, with every moment of correction, and with every hug, I remembered that it is this mess that changes the world.

So, moms, we may feel like walking napkins, but we are changing the world. One smeared banana at a time. Just look for the sparkles.

The Giraffe in the Room

Naptime was over. I cradled Samuel and walked into Summer’s room.

“Hello my dear Summershine, would you like a snack?” I asked.

“Yes!” She squealed, throwing her arms open. I’ve somehow honed the skill of picking Summer up while cradling Samuel, so I reached in and swooped her out of her crib, placing her on the ground beside me. I turned around to walk down to the kitchen and I heard her little voice.

“Wait!! My raff!!” (my giraffe).

“What?” I thought. I turned around and she was foraging through the toys that were barricading the giant giraffe into the corner of her bedroom.

Continue reading “The Giraffe in the Room”

Grace for the Broken Fan

It was a typical morning. Summer squealed her high-pitched shriek at Baylor while running circles through the upstairs bedrooms. I rocked Samuel in the glider, flashing Summer a smile each time she passed us by. Watching Baylor run from her with a goofy grin plastered all over his doggy face.

Round and around they ran, until I heard a loud crash. Bracing myself for a cry, what I heard was worse: silence.

Continue reading “Grace for the Broken Fan”

Samuel’s Birth – Part 2

As I waited for the anesthesiologist, I began to feel anxious.

This was the first and only time I experienced fear throughout the entire laboring process. I felt so dizzy and I was in such great pain.

The women surrounding me were prepping me for the epidural by telling me I couldn’t move while the needle was inserted. I thought, “There is no way I can not not move during these contractions.”

Continue reading “Samuel’s Birth – Part 2”

Samuel’s Birth – Part 1

Well, I suppose it is about time to share the story of Samuel’s birth…

The story is lengthy, so it will be shared in two parts.

It was November 17th

I anticipated my afternoon visit with my midwife because I had decided that I was going to let her check my cervix for dilation, which I never did with Summer. Knowing that women can remain dilated for days or weeks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up with Summer and become frustrated should labor take long. But this time was different.

Continue reading “Samuel’s Birth – Part 1”

To be Pulled Across the Battlefield: How to Support Someone with PPD

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I drove circles around the OB office for what felt like hours. I left 30 minutes early to drive these circles just to try and get my baby to fall asleep so that I could have a minute of silence during my follow up appointment.

Continue reading “To be Pulled Across the Battlefield: How to Support Someone with PPD”