counting down and preparing

I’m (generally) a planner. I (generally) like to know what’s going on at all times. I like to have things in order and I enjoy being overly prepared way in advance. It makes me feel comfortable. Calm. Happy. And, at peace. PLUS…. it gives me a chance to make changes or adjust when things come up. Because they always do.

So, days away from my 28th week, the beginning of my 3rd trimester, I’m counting down.
Thanksgiving Day I’ll be 31 weeks. 31. 31. 31. That’s insane.
New Year’s Eve I’ll be 36 weeks.
My ob tells me to be ready the first week in January (37w), but to not be surprised if these girls make their debut in December.

whoa.

Nothing new. I’ve mentioned this in my last few posts and I guess I keep saying it because this is real. And, it is happening. But, I’m having a hard time believing it. God’s faithfulness has blown my mind. The tangible truth that he gives good gifts is difficult to grasp. And, I just. can’t. get a handle on it.
Now, considering the type of person that I am….. I’m not ready. I’m not ready. I’m not ready. I feel like we have so much to do, purchase, organize, wash, and just make ready before the girls get here. Even though I watched my belly grow, my tops shrink, and my dresses fill out, December/January felt so far away and this reality felt so unreal. Yes, I saw these babies grow before my eyes from a little ball of cells with a beating heart, I watched their limbs grow and develop, their little faces mature…. I felt their kicks grow stronger and watched them vie for space in my belly but to know that I will be watching them grow on the outside in a matter of weeks is unreal. I can’t believe it. I literally cannot believe it. And, I’m not ready. {I don’t think.}

I love movies. I mean, I love movies. And, we’ve been going quite a bit lately. I want to see all the best movies out… My favorite are romantic comedies & films that depict love conquering all. I’m intentionally putting off  all of the girlie movies for the days/nights I’m stuck at home or will be at home. So, we’ve been watching the deeper more thought provoking movies (which I love, too!!!) and ended up catching The Judge last night. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. For more than a few reasons, but left me wallowing deep in my feelings and more than ever adamant about preparing for raising our children. (No, I’m not telling the movie, so you can relax!!! lol). All of this felt great because just a few days ago, I sent Thomas and email with a list of things I wanted to begin focusing on, discussing, and working toward in terms of spiritually preparing to raise our girls with a heart for Jesus.  I went to Flourish in June and was about 6 weeks pregnant. It was a beautiful conference which scheduled quiet time with Jesus. During that time I wrote down every character trait I wanted our kids to have (and, yes…. I wrote children many times and felt silly for doing so but that was what was on my heart), wrote scriptures associated with those traits and attached women in the Bible who portrayed the traits I longed for them to have.

After the movie, I was left encouraged to do all the things I’ve been running from, personally writing about, and convicted to do. I rambled on and on about how important it is for me to deal with hard things, emotions, hurts, and disappoints and to communicate because doing so builds and strengthens relationships, not doing it tears them apart. And, hardens us. I’ve hardened in many ways and although I’ve been praying that God soften my heart, I truly don’t feel as if I’ve surrendered enough for Him to do it.

I know that not dealing with our own personal shit before we have kids and after they arrive, leave them be the ones shoveling both theirs and ours. If we don’t deal with our own junk, we pass that junk onto them. I know that our issues impact our kids, shape their lives, their perceptions, and experiences. Noyhing will ever be perfect but my goodness I want to give my kids the best foundation possible.

I don’t want the things I suck at to impair my children. I don’t want the fact that mommy hates crying and being emotional so she doesn’t like really digging deep and dealing with things to hurt them. And, it will. It will hurt them, my relationship with them, how they see me interacting with their daddy, and their view of me being a person who is supposed to be the heart and lifeline of our home. All of my decisions will shape and impact their lives. For better or worse. 

Treating them with grace, freely and relentlessly showing forgiveness, and intentionally guiding them to truth that they NEED Jesus will be all of our saving grace.

Especially when the less than attractive side of mommy comes out…. when she’s impatient, harsh, hard, seeking perfection & the best from herself and everyone around her, is HARD. It’s stressful. It’s limiting. It doesn’t help to build relationships or people.

With two extra little firecrackers (which they will inevitably be) in our home, finding a new balance will be hard, but finding it will be our peace. Learning to deal with things…. learning to be gentle, assuring, and kind even when frustrated will be what shapes our girls to be kind and self assured. It is what will keep the feel of our home warm, safe, and sure. It is what will tether us together when we’re disappointed in each other… when we’ve hurt each other… when we’ve just been less than loving and gracious.

Wanna know what’s burdening me right now?

When you experience pregnancy, everyone is focused on gender, names, a nursery, cribs, and collecting massive amounts of diapers. We have checklists and baby showers to collect a bunch of (needed, albeit) STUFF. We have childbirth classes and hospital tours, lactation consults, pedi interviews. While there are plenty of THINGS our children will need throughout their short span of newborn-hood, toddlerhood, childhood and on and on. And, duh.. it’s an exciting time. But, why is the focus on all of that but not on shaping these children’s lives? Why aren’t mommy-friends sitting mommies to be and new mommies down and talking to them about their experiences as new moms who have to maintain homes, marriages, and learn how to be a good (read: God focused) mom and wife in this new stage in her life? What this life is really going to look life before/after/during and under the surface of the beautiful photoshoots, Insta posts, and funny stories?

No one knows it all, we’re all struggling. Bringing a person into this world and having the responsibility to raise them cannot be easy. Why are we avoiding the conversation? Why are we trying to appear to be these women who have everything together and in need of nothing? As a mommy to be, I can only imagine the stress of having to care for everyone. How can we be more supportive of each other in this new role is my question. How can we build honest, trusting relationships with other new mommies who we can go to for a release? For advice and wisdom? Yes, we have our girlfriend groups and they are tight knit and deep……. But, I feel that motherhood is so personal. I feel that mothers are so harshly judged that even with our closest friends it can be hard to open up about what we need and what we’re struggling with… difficult to tell a friend that the teacher isn’t all the way wrong about her child’s behavior… or to offer help in an area that we see our friend needs help with… or to share with a friend what the future of that child and her life may look like if she doesn’t ease up on the super strict discipline or reign in a child who could use a bit more structure and discipline…. It’s hard.

Because we’re fragile and offended easily. Because we don’t know if our relationships can withstand such truth, an opinion, constructive criticism. We’re doing the best we know how to. The best we can. And, can get angry when someone points out a weakness that we may even know we have. But, who does that serve? How is being hard, in denial about our struggles, our junk helping? How is it shaping our families and our children? How is turning a blind eye benefiting us?

Who is talking about postpartum depression? Who is talking about how frustrated you’re going to be with colicky babies or late night partiers when you’re exhausted and working on two hours of sleep? or sick babies? breastfeeding issues??
Who’s talking to mamas who have lost their babies?  Who is talking about REAL LIFE?? Who is willing to?

We expect everyone to show their best face at all times because dealing with life is hard, messy, and ugly. All at once. Yes, life can be beautiful, wonderful, and peaceful, too. But, truth be told it isn’t like that all of the time. I know that because we’re all sinners and we can all make the worst of the worst decisions at times. We like to serve ourselves at some points, in some way whether small or large, that hurts another person. This life, our friendships, marriages, and relationships are hard because we are, because we’re unforgiving, we have junk we want to hide, and because we just plain ol sin everyday.

I’ve pulled out my notes from Flourish and have been studying, reading, and soaking up all of the wisdom that was given that weekend. I’ve committed to dealing with all of the hurts and disappointments that I have felt, perceived, and experienced over the past six-eight months and I’m going to talk about them. Cry about them. And, truly work towards getting over it or learning how to carry it without allowing it to cause a negative impact on my life. I’m going to make more of an effort to build deeper relationships and open up much more to that close knit group of gals and really learn to lean on them and position myself to be leaned upon.

The quality of our lives depend on it. Our depth of our character, marriages, and relationships with Christ depend on it.
Our husbands’ lives depend on it.
Our children’s lives depend on it.
Our friends’ lives depend on it.
Those we love the most depend on us truly being able to deal with our junk and love them deeply, serve them with gladness, guide them with grace and wisdom, and relate to them in a way that they learn to truly trust us with all of them – both good and bad.

Post Jam: Kari Jobe – Here.
Healing and finding peace begins with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. We have to ask and trust that He will bring people into our lives and/or further deepen the relationships we have to help us along and to push us closer to him.

I’m definitely encouraged to deal… to take a deep breathe and do hard things that will expose my heart and cause me to be vulnerable. To dig in, take root, and grow in ways that will honor God, strengthen my family, support my friends, and build my children. I know I’m not alone in wanting these things, but are we willing to take the leap to take hold of them?

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saturday morning ramblings

The truths of God’s sovereignty have been a major and consistent topic in my life over the past few years but have really come together in the past couple of months. The rubber has been meeting the road and the act of trusting God faithfully has stretched so well. These situations have brought me to places that even in their greatest difficulty have shown me how much I’ve grown, how much better I am, and what the end result of both my character and difficult places could be.

God’s sovereignty is so much deeper than him reigning & holding the world in his hands and more than a difficult word to spell. (I literally can’t ever get it right… the fact that ‘reign’ is in the word helps but it never really looks quite right, yea?)

It took quite a few series of unfortunate events, linking truths, and many a conversation for me to move from theory to real life. You’d think after all we’ve been though that I would get it, that I would understand that God is sovereign (got it!) and that I can control nothing, but I wasn’t quite there yet.

I am a very passionate rebellious perfectionist…. How that is, I don’t know but I’ve found that that is who I am. I’m at home with my nose piercing, big natural hair, tattoo and conservative clothing. I am always thinking of how people will feel or what they’re thinking; even after I’ve not so nicely spoken my mind or unintentionally done something stupid or selfish….. when I am stern and harsh with my students or whomever because my expectations are high and my desire for them to be “good” and “right” overshadow my communicating to them that I am proud of them and love them.

My actions were not trusting God’s sovereignty (2x in a row!). I thought that if I talked enough about being considerate that the importance of taking others into consideration would be realized. That if enough examples were given on why this result was happening, would be enough to begin a change in behavior. Because, that is who I am. The problem with this is that the goal is all the way wrong, while the motive is in the right place.

My goal of being right and good was so that I would be seen as good and others would be taken care of. But, that is all so very wrong. My motives should be to honor God alone. Yes, I’ve always wanted to honor God, but I realize that I didn’t understand what that meant.

At the end of the day, no matter how much I push for any given result, it’s God choice on whether the result I want will even occur and if it does, the details will come only in his timing. 

That fact freed me. Freed me to love like Jesus, give grace upon grace upon grace in the hardest and most frustrating situations, and to trust God like I haven’t before. It’s not easy, but it’s so beautiful to see how God works situations out for good.

This act of submitting to God’s sovereignty is a beautiful example of how I believe he pulls us towards him. I believe that those around you feel more comfortable to just be and when mess ups do happen, they feel comfortable in coming to you or addressing issues because they know that you will respond with love, grace, and acceptance. Even when angry, knowing that God will work things out and our only job is to immolate him provides such a soft place to land. And, isn’t that what God does for us? We know He loves us, is patient with us, will forgive us, and will always accept us. No matter what we do. So, even  though there are times we go to Him completely ashamed and wallowing in our unworthiness, the comfort that comes with the love we will be met with draws us to Him and causes us to want to honor him more and more.

One of my issues with always being so forgiving and gracious is that people take advantage of that. While you still have to address issues, that gracious response is ignored. And, that is frustrating to me. It’s rude and unfair. It’s arrogant and shortsighted. But, what’s funny is that not only do we have that same response to the Lord, but that ungrateful response continuously shows us his character. He is honored no matter how we are treated! Aren’t we grateful for his love for us even when we mess up over and over and over again? Aren’t we moved to love others how he loves us? All of that is because of how he sovereignly designed relationships.

The process of becoming is a long one. It’s hard and painful and drags us through some pretty ugly things. It’s ugly for everyone on both sides. It’s uncomfortable and scary. But, what makes this process so beautiful is that it all works together and it is honoring to God. Those are the only motives that will keep us from falling into a hardened, dark place. Doing “good” so that others are taken care of and considered is nice but won’t last because our efforts may not ever be appreciated and we may never be treated well for our “good works”.  At some point we will tire of working in our own strengths.

But, working as unto the Lord, serving, responding, forgiving, loving, sacrificing, submitting, and just being as unto the Lord will never return void. Even when we’re hurt in the process.

Freedom in Christ is about much more than not being bound by the law. It’s more than being able to sin and receive grace rather than condemnation. And, I’m sure it’s more than the confidence that comes with submitting to God without worry or fear of the future or responses of others……

The sovereignty of God frees us to loves and serve others out of an unending reserve provided to us by the relentless grace of God.  A reserve of love, peace, faithfulness, self-control, kindness, forgiveness, and goodness that we could never authentically provide and definitely don’t deserve ourselves. God’s sovereignty puts us on the same playing field so that we can always serve out of understanding and compassion.

His sovereignty changes us all at the perfect time so that our pasts, failures, rebellions, successes, and feats will be honoring to Him in some way.

There’s freedom in leaving all of that change up to God.
There’s peace in trusting the sovereignty of God.
There’s grace when we mess it all up, thanks be to God.

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pride monster

These last 20 days post life with Drew have been interesting. I keep having these little epiphanies and realizations about the cycles of grief I’m going through. Lots of sorting through feelings of anger, gratefulness, hurt, and sadness.

Today, I realized that some of my silence on the issue has a lot to do with pride. Other parts have to do with my desire to respect her birth family and living above the fray. Other parts I’m sure have yet to be dealt with because they haven’t quite surfaced yet.

Have you ever had a war of the wills with someone… maybe yourself? Not wanting to give up any ground in fear of “losing”? Or, being plain stubborn because of all the things that could happen, that person “winning” “won’t” be one of them?

Control and pride. 

I’ve been pulled into that world…. where fear, control, and pride reigned instead of love, peace, and selflessness. And, the freedom that comes with good. The freedom that comes with the truth. The freedom that comes with knowing that change is difficult and accepting that you can’t make another person want to stand in the light that God provides. Freedom of standing in the light that loving others provides.

I’ve have to remind myself that no matter what or how many lies are told about us, no matter who hears or believes the lies, no matter what happens, I know who I am. I know who we are. I know the honest to God truth of what has been told and done to us.
As each day passes, I feel warmth and light more and more. I crave it. I miss it. I’ve had to work really hard to find it some days because I distract myself with so much. I’ve had to force myself to make real efforts to slow, to stop, to engage. To stand in the light.

In this world of adoption, kiddos are reunited with their birth families on a regular basis. Family change their minds constantly. A right they have. A right that I will never protest or balk at. So, I’ll never be angry with the baby’s family for changing their minds.

But, I am floored. I am more than appalled. I am hurt.
I am sad at the how and the results of that.

But, I am moving forward. I am forgiving and gracious; that part of me will never change.
I’m full of peace and joy. I have “things” that can never be taken from me.
It’s been a tough, tough, tough April and May. It has, I’m not going to lie.

But, I’m literally alright. 

 

The words you guys have shared with me over the past couple of weeks, has been life giving. You have poured so much into me that has encouraged me, brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh. Let me know that I’m not alone.

To see and hear what is truly thought of you, the good that is seen in you from the eyes of others is the most humbling and so very beautiful. It’s inspiring. Appreciated. Encouraging.

Thank you one thousand times!!!!!!!
I love you!

Post jam: Gravity ~ John Mayer

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