double the love

babiesinheartThis is the girls’ first Valentine’s Day and I am over the moon about celebrating with them. Everything is so much more exciting with babies … double that excitement with twins! We had this mini photoshoot and while I’m very proud of the pictures I took, the garland I made, and how everything came together, I also see looooots of room for improvement.
And, the way my hobbies are set up – I’m going to get a lot of practice!

… and, don’t judge the paci’s. (smile.)

moving on…

During our struggles with infertility, what made me the saddest was the idea that I would never be able to experience all of the things I’d envisioned doing with my kids and family, that I wouldn’t be able share the things that I love with them and vice versa…. that I wouldn’t be able to experience the joy that children bring to your home. So, now that these sweethearts have graced my life, I want to celebrate them and play and share and experience and teach and learn and grow with them as much as possible.

One of the things I want to teach them most is how to love like Christ loves us. I mean, He’s going to teach them…. but I just wanna play TA, and be the example. Kinda like a class pet. I want to be one of the ones called on to show and lead and to help.vday1

A friend’s Insta post caused me to really think about how our culture loves and responds to certain behaviors….. very “He did this so i’m not cooking… or doing that” and “I’m not going home because she’s nagging.”  So, I got to thinking about how our behaviors are so rooted in fear and pride that we can’t love like Jesus. Jesus could love the Pharisees and Judas (of all people) because his behavior was based on their crowd approval or their day to day choices. Jesus treated people the way he did because of His love for God and seeking his approval only. Christ teaches us to serve as unto God…. not until we get what we want, not when we feel like it, it, and not quitting if someone does something we don’t like or when our feelings get hurt. Jesus knew that people are just people. We aren’t perfect. We make stupid mistakes, we make emotional decisions, we get tired, we yell, we get frustrated and we SIN. We do some very opposite of awesome things and say some very opposite of loving things because we are fallible. But, not unlovable. Not unworthy of a second or millionth chance. In desperate need grace and mercy.

This kind of love is completely countercultural and down right difficult at times. It requires humility and a heart for God. It requires constant prayer and sacrifice of ego. This kind of love is invaluable. It can’t be measured. And, it teaches others to love in a way that lasts.

*** What it isn’t is an invitation to be a doormat… it takes a mighty strength to love another this way, a strength that won’t allow you to be treated any kind of way, and a strength that will let you communicate that in the best way. lol. get me?
(I’m learning, too!! Boundaries aren’t always easy to establish!)
Jesus didn’t play. You don’t have to either. lol***vday2

Even if relationships end or change, even if you have to walk away from a toxic situation….. loving like this will never be a waste. It leaves the door open for a reconciliation of friendship and relationship (even if it’s on a different level). Loving like this will heal and strengthen. It’s accepting when you fail and encouraging when you’re vulnerable. It’s a love that doesn’t humiliate or tear down. A love that softens hard conversations and is open and inviting. It’s courageous.

This is love.
The kind of love I’m learning and becoming excellent at. A love I am constantly praying for. The kind that is the standard for my behavior, it shows me where I’m failing miserably at. Because I’m a person. It’s the love that forgives me and gives me grace. That gives me twelve hundred more tries. The one that comforts me in my brokenness and celebrates in my success.
This love is Jesus.

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conscious gratitude

So, I literally don’t have the words to describe my feelings when I’m confronted with this:

IMG_5915.JPG{iPhone photo: Christin Armstrong}
…. and, again, let’s note the “chub”. My girls no longer have loose skin but cheeks and mini-rolls.
Progress, people, sweet progress. 

Disclaimer: I’m a mess and controllably uncontrollably crying so please forgive the mushy, overly emotional ramblings, k? Yes, it’s a real thing. It’s how you cry when you don’t want to freak anyone out but you can’t not cry. See? It’s a thing and you’ve done it before.

My friend Christin came over and captured my sweet ones today for a newborn sesh and we spent most of the session fawning over the girls. Lots of “where’s your phone?!”, “hurry… I gotta get this shot.”, “they peed…”, “ooooh, look!”, and shushing babies happened. And, my heart melted.

I feel that the girls have had a few “defining” moments since they were born…. Moments when I saw them in a new light, moments where my perspectives about them changed and I saw them differently. I think it happens a lot when you’re in love. You’re constantly and arbitrarily taken by what you see.

The first moment was when they were born. My gosh, I saw them above the curtain when my doctor held them high so that I could see them & when they were brought over to me. Their little swollen, peach colored faces were amazing to see. I could hardly breathe.
The second was the first time I saw them in the NICU & held them. So tiny with loose arm skin kept warm in their little incubators.

Then the third, today. This photoshoot.
All “dolled up” in a bow & wrapped in fabric. Or, just lounging diaperless (legs crossed!) on some fabric donning only a headband. They were beautiful and I truly saw it. I saw the greatest blessings.

You would think that everyday I wake up completely overwhelmed at the thought and sight of my girls. But, I don’t. Am I over the moon with them – of course but the novelty of them has kinda worn off. Between poopy diapers, exhaustion, 16 feedings a day, endless consoling of two babies, and life the magic of my girls can be overshadowed by realities and caring for them. I felt that my feelings equated to ungratefulness.

But, today!!! I remembered what it was like to fall in love all over again in a millisecond of a moment. To be so enthralled and taken that you can do nothing but smile and laugh and (for me) cry. And, stare. Lots of staring happened today.

Sometimes I feel that my heart hasn’t quite wrapped itself around what has happened. I hadn’t quite allowed myself to truly fall and believe and accept that this life, these girls, being a mama was real. It’s crazy because I mean, they’re mine but to wholeheartedly  get it with your heart hadn’t happened, you know? You’re stuck and that confusion that happens when you have something so very incredibly amazing you have no idea how you got it, what you did to deserve it, and you’re freaked out because it’s so special you’re terrified and when the thought of losing it sets in and you can do nothing but write run-on sentences and ramble.

My girls will be a whole entire month on Sunday and I’m completely just in love with the reality, idea, and scent (yes, their tasty baby scent) of my girls. Just the fact that my heart finally gets it is even sweeter. I knew that I’d become numb in a lot of ways over the last few years and got very used to the deep lows after great highs. For my sanity, emotionally distancing myself was the best way to go.  After so long, it was very difficult for me to warm up to and embrace any good thing and I felt so guilty and horrible as a new mom loving my girls but not fully allowing myself to love with all of my heart or with any real depth. But, now, sweet Jesus……. I’m so grateful. Not only for them but for the softening of my heart which I’ve been praying for and for the deepest love I feel for them.

Now, scroll back up and swoon over those baby rolls and teensy fingers, k?!

Post Jam: I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, Ingrid Michaelson
I was reminded of this song by my friend’s Insta and can’t get this version out of my mind! Fits my feelings perfectly, yea? 🙂

 

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sweet love

IMG_5817.JPG The days are long, rest is rare, but the love runs incredibly deep.

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