Archive for April, 2013

Advice on Advice

If only this were possible. . .

 

 

Dear me, on the occasion of your first pregnancy,

 

This is so exciting! I know that your mind is filled with all kinds of dreams and hopes. You are embarking on a new stage of life, and there is no turning back! I know it all seems like gumdrops and unicorns, but I just wanted to let you know a few things to save you some heartache and stress.

1. During the pregnancy, and through the first few years of Baby’s life, you are going to get LOTS of advice. Now that the world is smaller, you will be hearing it from more than just your mom and Granny. People in the grocery store, people at church, Facebook, Pinterest, everyone will have something to say to you. Here is something you need to understand:

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE GIVES YOU ADVICE DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

I can’t tell you that enough! They are just trying to help. They forget what it’s like to be on the opposite end, or they are just trying to show you another way to do things. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. They don’t think you are, either. You have two choices: File the tip or info away to think about later, or smile and nod. They are both just fine. Do not argue, it may have worked for them.

2. Every single item of pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing is a potential Pandora’s box of controversy. Seriously. Here are some things that will be argued about in nurseries, blogs, facebook, and every other location in MommyLand:

Breastfeeding/Bottle feeding

Diapers/Elimination communication (If I knew how to link up blogs, I would show you your old friend Kathleen’s. She never really had to wipe a baby’s dirty bum. And she’s a real person.)

Cloth/Disposable diapers

Rice cereal

Baby weaning

Scheduling/On demand feeding

Co-sleeping

Baby wearing

Expired car seats

Organic foods

Rocking to sleep

Baby reading

Potty training

These are just a few of things you will argue about. It’s okay. None of these things are God given directives.  You could maybe make a case for one or two, but in the long run, none of these things will be important. None of these will grow your child into a mature, well-rounded individual. That’s where the parenting and relationship you have with your baby will come in. God knew how you felt about organic foods, or rocking your baby to sleep. And He still gave you this specific baby. So ask Him if you are really worried about it, research it, talk to your Handsome Hubby, and then just let it go. You will develop your OWN opinions on all of these. Keep them to yourself, unless someone asks. This leads into number three. . .

3. No one has the right to judge you about how you grow your baby. Just like you have no right to judge them, either. So feed your two year old a hotdog. Or don’t. Let your three year old decide when to potty train. Or don’t. But do not judge others for how they raise their children, and if you think others are judging you, pray for them. It’s a hard world. Concentrate on your own family.

4. Your HH knows stuff. He may not know all the philosophies, he may not have read all the books. But it’s his baby too. It is never too early to let him lead his family. If he thinks the baby is hungry, feed him or her. If he wants to snuggle the baby through the hockey game, let him. You are going to make LOTS of mistakes. Give him grace and space to make his own.

5. You can’t do it all. Give up now. It will make it easier later.

6. Write it down! You think you are going to remember all these special things. You will forget them all! Especially once the next one comes (Yes, you will have more than one. Go get a pedicure and paint the master bedroom, NOW, or it will wait for six years and counting.) Seriously, don’t worry about a special “book” or format. Write it down on a piece of paper, and stick it in a binder. Done. Memory saved.

7. Back up your pictures. You will lose them all for your second baby. Make sure someone actually takes them, too.

8. Go to a midwife. Doctors are for sick people.

9. Never, I repeat, NEVER say the words, “I will always,” or “I will never.” They taste terrible later. You will eat a lot of them.

10. I know you aren’t going to find out at the ultrasounds. So, just so you know, your first one is a boy. You will love him.

Love, 

Me.

Midnight Ministering

On Saturday I read something that has been hugging me all week. It’s kinda been a rough one, with two sick kids, one sick newborn, and a sick mama. There’s been a lot of meltdowns, runny noses, and headaches, and the kids are having a hard time, too. I knew this stage would be hard: the 4 am feedings, the recuperation from childbirth itself, and the hardest part: the inability to do everything my mind wants to. I feel like these first few months of the newest, Beautiful one are a time when everything is put on hold. It’s survival, adjustment, call it what you like. I think to myself everyday: everyone’s fed, the house is standing. We did it!

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You see, I have huge prayers for our children. If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you know where my heart is. If you haven’t, know that I have a huge, bottomless passion for the hurting. For people exploited by trafficking. For children hurt by those they love. For people, in this country and around the world who are abused, and never get to see the Father’s love because of the hatred surrounding them. It brings me to tears. I can’t separate myself from it. I’ve always been involved with social justice; I believe, as a Christian, it’s part of our mandate. We are called to this. Yet, my teenage years and early twenties were a complete waste. With so much passion, and no responsibilities, I could have done a lot of good. Now, I am in the middle of a beautiful life, where I can try to affect some change, but it will always have to be on the side. My biggest prayer is that our children will be able to do so much more than I’ve been able to do. I pray, with the Bible as my guide, that they will be world-changers.

That they will be history makers.

That they will be healers.

That they will have visions.

That they will minister to others.

But most of all, that they will be such a face of God’s truth bearing love that the enemy will never stand against them.

However, they are little. They are 5, 3, 1 and 3 weeks old. So part of me feels like we are on hold. We aren’t there yet. We only have 2 out of 4 potty trained, for goodness sake. All this feeding, nursing, diaper changing, cleaning, nose-wiping, hand-holding, “why” answering, vegetable forcing, candy-hiding, disciplining, mediating, and wall scrubbing is just a means to an end. The “end” being when they can do it all themselves, of course. It is easy to get discouraged, and tired.

And then I read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Our church is doing a daily Bible reading plan, where we go through the Bible in one year. I like it because I feel like I stay more dedicated, and that I’m not missing anything. You’re supposed to journal each day, but I don’t, and I’m still going to heaven. Here’s what it says:

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Now the word “commend” means “to represent as worthy of notice, regard, or kindness; to speak in favor of; to recommend.”  I am not a theology scholar. I could have gotten this wrong. But I do read, and this is what my Bible says, and my Bible dictionary. What I read is that these are the ways that Paul’s ministry is credited. That is, the things that matter, the things that God notices, and others too. The things that make it a ministry, not just lip service. They aren’t just Sunday morning Christians. Mercy, if you are imprisoned and beaten, and you are not shaken, that’s for real! And then there’s the second half of the list, the purity, understanding, patience, etc. I can’t exactly read it while saying, yep, nailed it! Yep, that’s me! Nope. I almost glossed over these verses, figuring they didn’t really apply to me right now.

And then I read closer.

in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.

What Mama hasn’t had those. At eight months pregnant, tucking in one of those awful fitted sheets around a top bunk with one eye open at 5 am. Not knowing how to make the baby stop crying. Assuring your child there aren’t any lions in his bedroom. Cleaning up vomit. Wondering if the sickness is serious enough to go to the hospital. I know some moms who have even taken in other women’s children, and are starting this all over again. I imagine it doesn’t get better as your children grow up: praying that they are making the right decisions, hoping that you did everything you could.

Sleepless nights. It seems like it is when the whole world is on hold, and you are just surviving. But that is completely wrong.

God sees these nights. He hears our prayers. He feels our anguish, our pain, our shortcomings. He knows our love, but most of all, He is shown in our love.

This is ministry. Right now. At this age, at this time. If you are a mom or dad who have lost sleep over your children, believe that He notices. He loves your children more than you do. He says over and over in His word how important children are to Him. I want so badly to raise our children up to minister to others. I’m so blessed to be able to minister to them, first. This is not just survival mode. This already counts, for the children and to God. You don’t have to do anything big. You don’t need to know all the answers. You don’t need to get it all right. You don’t have to look pretty. You just need to wake up and be there.

This is ministry.

Rollovers and I Phones

Six weeks ago, I rolled the family vehicle. Despite the title, I wasn’t on my phone. I have never been in an accident like that, so it really shook me up. I wouldn’t say that it was a near death experience or anything, because I, and our beautiful unborn baby, were completely unharmed. Not a scratch. But it was still very scary. It seemed like I was spinning in slow motion, and I can still remember my completely random thoughts.

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Oh great. Now the baby will be breech again.

Oh man. My kids are going to miss me so much. (My hubby is really handsome, and I know that he will find a much better replacement. If this comment is still here at posting, he didn’t make me delete it.)

Please, Lord, I don’t want it to hurt. I don’t mind coming to see you, but I really don’t want to hurt. (Apparently, I have an aversion to pain.)

I wasn’t afraid to die. I remember thinking in the days after, wow. I have such peace about where I am in my life. I know where I’m going, who I will get to see again. I know I am exactly where the Lord wants me. There is such comfort in that. It was beautiful to read messages from friends who were worried, and to know how loved I am. My heart was filled to overflowing with love from everyone on facebook, phone calls, hugs from friends. What an overwhelming time that was- but a good kind. I didn’t know how much I meant to some people. I heard over and over, how blessed I was, how God had his hand on me. All true, obviously. And I love having a God that looks after every part of my life.

But.

I know a lot of people who have died in accidents. And a lot that have lost people that they love. I have been following some old friends of mine on facebook who have lost a sister, a daughter, at way too young an age. Are they not blessed? Where was God there? Do I presume to answer that question in a random blog, when I have absolutely no theology training, and when even those who do, cannot come close to justifying this very question with a quick answer? No. I know God loves me as much as that little girl, her family, and all His children. I know His plans for me are very different than his plans for anyone else. I can’t compare them to anyone else’s. I know that nothing comes to me that God hasn’t allowed. And I know that every single thing that God allows, good and bad, is for my overall good, even if I don’t understand it.

And we know that in all things God workfor the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And I know these things are true for my friends. The ones that said goodbye way too early, and live in heartache everyday. Their plan is much different than mine, but God knows both their pain, and why He has allowed it. This is a very basic, yet so difficult, part of our Christian faith.

So now I am left to wonder. What was the point of this completely random event? I have prayed through a lot of my fears, like if I were to die, what would happen to my family? To our children? And I know that God loves them more than I do, and that He would make His purpose known eventually. Don’t get me wrong. They really like me. I rarely go to the bathroom without attempted social visits. I am the only one who can find things, who knows the daily schedule, and can completely erase nightmares and boo-boos. I know I would be missed. Their hearts would break. There would be a gaping hole. But I have complete faith that God knows this. And He will take care of them, better than I can anyways! The thought of leaving my family still frightens me, but I know that God would be stepping in to take my place. And He has some mighty small shoes to fill!

It wasn’t to make me write out a bucket list. It wasn’t to deal with my fear of death. I may be afraid of pain, but who likes it? There’s treatment for that! No, it was to help me live. I am not afraid to die, but now I wonder if I have been really, honest-to-goodness living.

I forgot to mention that my cellphone has been broken for a week. No internet (till my HH comes home at night!) no contact numbers, no Words with Friends. How on earth is this related? Now I feel like I’m getting it.

I need to live, and by living, simply be.

To be in the moment with our children.

To spot a disagreement, before it’s a fight.

To watch them engrossed in an activity.

To focus on one thing at a time.

In the novel I’m reading right now, the old lady says, “I don’t know why folks say they’re so busy. In my day we didn’t call it busy. We called it living.” I pride myself on my ability to multitask. I can plan meals for the week, read a story to the Pretty One, and nurse our Beautiful One, get up to answer the phone, and swing right back into things without missing a beat. I never realized I was missing the Pretty One’s expression, or the way she knows what’s coming in the story. Or the sound of the Beautiful One sucking contentedly. I needed this stupid phone to break to realize the price I was paying to try and beat my friends score, even though I had only vowels. To know the weather for the week, but not how the fight started. I took pictures, but I didn’t live the memories.
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I was never glued to my phone. I was only on for a few minutes at a time, at random times during the day when the kids were busy with something, or I had my coffee times. It sounds so ridiculously cliche, and maybe this is all for me, and no one else will ever get anything out of it. Maybe the point of this is to humble myself, and tell you that this is an area I didn’t know was an issue for me. All I know is that I needed to tell it. Six weeks ago I rolled my car, last week I broke my phone, and although this week has been so hard, filled with no sleep. sickness, laundry, screaming children, and a couple bouts of Mommy crying, I know one thing for certain.

I didn’t miss a thing.