One Year Ago

Sunday, June 29, 2014

One year ago I was 1 week and 5 days "overdue." (Can I just say how much I hate due dates and the unnecessary pressure they put on pregnant mama's?! I think if we have another baby I will just give people a due month instead of date...especially since my babies seem to turn their noses up at their due date and find my uterus quite comfortable.)

Anyway, back to a year ago. In spite of my feelings about due dates we were still feeling the pressure of having to be transferred to a hospital if he didn't arrive in the next 48 hours. I had delivered Riley at the birthing center and really did not want to have to go to a hospital with Matthias. Towards the end of my pregnancy with him I felt a lot of surrender. I longed and prayed for a peaceful, calm birth experience with him begging God to be present in it. Not only for our health and safety but desperately (as weird as it might sound) wanting this little boy's birth to be a worshipful experience. As we faced the reality of how close we were getting to a possible transfer that would likely result in an induction I heard God telling me to surrender. I remember that Saturday, after having tried numerous natural things to try to get things going and nothing working and feeling so discouraged, having an emotional breakdown. Through the love and leadership of my sweet husband I remember praying a prayer of surrender. As desperately as I wanted this birth to look a certain way and be worshipful I found myself trusting that God had this and even if his plan was different than mine, it could still be worshipful. 

(Here I am at 41 weeks in all my pregnant glory!)

After that point, I feel like Matthew and I just worked together to do what we could to ensure what we believed to be the healthiest birth possible but continued to remind each other (okay, mostly Matthew had to remind me) to trust God. 

For those of you that like the details even though I hadn't gotten into active labor I had been having decent contractions, they just weren't consistent. But luckily they were dilating me ( I was at a 7 without any consistent contractions) and Matthias was super low and in a great position (good news but made for a very uncomfortable weekend!) so even though there was some concern that things weren't really starting we knew once it did it would be fast. By Sunday afternoon we decided the best call was to go in and have the midwife break my water. I was pretty uneasy about it but we decided that it was a better option than a medicated induction which is what I would have been facing the next day. So we went in at 2:00, they broke my water at 2:30, contractions started at 3:00 and went from 0-100 in their intensity. He came at 5:04pm after only 9 minutes of pushing! 

We were at the birthing center. The midwife left the room after breaking my water and came in periodically to check on us. The lights were dimmed, I had a playlist I had made on, Matthew was an amazing support. I don't remember timing well but after a while of laboring on the birthing ball I asked to get in the tub. The midwife got that ready for us and it was amazingly relaxing and pain relieving. I wasn't planning either way as far as a water birth but things went so fast at that point that it just kind of happened. 

It was fast and furious so I definitely didn't sound peaceful (ha!) but I feel like it was such a beautiful environment. Matthew was behind me, my dear friend Jen was "next to me" via facetime on my ipad and the midwife and her assistant were there and encouraging but minimally intrusive (only as needed). The moment of his birth was so surreal and beautiful and I still remember pulling him up into my arms and feeling incredible joy and relief. As well as thinking "OMG he is huge!" which was later confirmed when he weighed in at 9lbs 12oz. 

(My sweet boy, moments after birth, in all his giant glory!)

God gave me the beautiful, worshipful birth I had hoped and prayed for. But thankfully he brought me to a place of surrender first which made it all the better. 

As I have encountered the mommy emotions of realizing that I cannot cancel tomorrow... although I would like to try... and my little boy is turning one I have struggled with some mommy guilt over his first year of life. We have had quite a year and faced a lot of challenges. 

I realized early this year that I struggled with PPD in the fall in addition to having some personal/family struggles I was working through. There were a lot of emotions and loneliness. It was a tense time in our marriage because of all that, especially since we hadn't really realized what was happening. Additionally Matthew has faced the most challenging year at work and has had to balance a lot between home and work during this time. Thankfully there has been good growth and I feel like we are very much out of the worst of it. But I have struggled as I think about the fact that those struggles have, for me, defined the first year of my sweet son's life. 

Today though as I watch this much too big boy quietly reading books in the playroom I am reminded of what God was teaching me a year ago. 

My plan for this year was much different than what, clearly, God's was. But today He is reminding me of his goodness in his plans. My doubt has made me question why "shit hit the fan" so to speak all at the same time as we faced work challenges, depression and a newborn. But today I reflect on it all and believe that God has in this last year made me a better mom through those struggles I also believe that it was for my good, Matthias' good, and His glory that the timing lined up like it did. 

So I am still feeling all the mommy feelings about not wanting to believe that tomorrow I will be singing my baby boy Happy Birthday but I also feel a lot of joy that we not only get to celebrate the growth in him over the last year but also the growth in me.
(No picture could capture him better! He is such a joy!)

My Sweet Matthew

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I am reading "Restless" by Jennie Allen and loved this quote she shared by Brennan Manning,

"In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others... Hope knows that if great trials are avoided great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted."

My words here are deeply personal. As I have felt these feelings shared below I have also wrestled with a lot of fear and shame. But I share them today because this is my reality, the truth of my past and even my present and I no longer want to hide the "inner darkness." My hope in sharing is both that exposing this darkness of mine... this sin... will help me find freedom and that, possibly, you might too.

My Sweet Matthew,

I long to release you from a burden I have unknowingly placed upon your shoulders for our six years of marriage.

The need of my heart, the need for love, was and is real and purposefully placed deep inside of me. God made me to love me and for me to love him. He desired relationship with me. These are all truths I have "known" but I am learning that my heart hasn't truly known them.

I have been unknowingly bound by the wounds this broken world has given me. I believe family was designed to point us to the deep love of our God. But my family was broken. I learned a lot about who God was but realize that far too much of it was based on my works and worthiness.

When I reflect on our relationship I see so much of God and so much of his grace. I see his grace when I look back on how desperate I was for love and how he graciously placed me in a place where I was not able to be in any kind of romantic relationship. I see his grace on how he introduced us in a season of protected friendship and when that season was over, he surrounded us with friends and mentors who directed us to keep our relationship focused on Christ. I see our wedding day and how we longed deeply for that day to be a reflection of Christ's love and carefully chose the elements of our wedding to point to that.

But I recently realized that even in all of that there was still so much of me that was longing for love, and you were giving it, so I chose you. It breaks my heart to write those words. I have felt shame and sorrow as I process them.

Gracious words from a couple of dear friends and my sweet sister have allowed me to both sit in that reality a bit and be okay with the sorrow I feel over it. But then to look it over and realize that my story, while sad and dark in moments, is beautifully painted with the grace of my precious Jesus.

It doesn't take much imagination to realize how easily a different road could have been walked in my quest for love. I see so clearly now the beautiful grace of God that he gave me you. That in my need for love you were the one that was there to love me. For that I feel deeply blessed and grateful.

I am also realizing that I have continued to burden you with my need for love. I have demanded that you be my source, a role you were never designed to fill. I have placed an impossibly high expectation on you and when you have (understandably) failed to meet it I have become hurt and angry at you. I have created a tension in our marriage. I have locked you into a corner where you can't win. Even when you try you fail because what I want you are not able, nor were you made, to give me.

I even wonder if I have taught you not to always try. I wonder if there are times that to love me, how I expect, seems so impossible that it isn't worth trying. I wonder if this expectation is laid down if it will give our love room to grow. If you will be freed to love me in the way that I know in your heart of hearts you desire too. I wonder if that removing this burden will be a fresh breath in our marriage. I wonder if it will allow me to see more clearly how much you actually do love me and how blessed I can be by you when my expectation of you is healthy.

Release. I want to release you Matthew. I want to lift the weighty burden I have placed on your shoulders. And I want to release others. I feel like those nearest to me have been trapped by me. I have held them tight fisted because I needed them.

But I am learning that I don't need them. I am learning that my source of love is Jesus. I am learning that he is near and gracious and gentle. He is still big and mighty and powerful but additionally I am seeing how truly close he is, which really just makes it all more amazing. So big but so near. So mighty but so tender.

There is freedom in this for them and freedom for you, and there is also freedom for me. Freedom to love being loved by those God has gifted me with. To thankfully and joyfully receive the acts of love that my precious people send my way. But to not be desperate for it and demanding of it because of the realization that I am receiving a constant flow of love straight from the source of love.

So today, my dear husband, I release you. You are my husband- my kind, sweet, and blessing of a husband. But you are not my God. I do not need you. I want you. I choose you but I do not need you. I hope you feel the freedom in that.

My tendencies and triggers are still there. Even today unexpected things take me back to this place. But the truth is permeating my circumstances and I am remembering I am loved. I have a place where I don't have to search for and demand love but I just get to rest in it. There is peace and hope and freedom there.

So  Matthew, I don't need you. You are not my breath. You are not my water. I want you. You are my chocolate cake.

And you know how much I love chocolate cake.

He Meets Me Here

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I haven't known how to share these words. The last several months have felt terribly hard and dark. Suffocating loneliness and things from my past that I had never even identified have been surfacing left and right. In the midst of all this the thought never crossed my mind but recently a friend also mentioned the postpartum side that very likely added to these struggles. 

In the midst of all of this I felt pretty angry. I could share with anyone in articulate language what I felt I needed. From my husband, from my family, from my friends. I could justify it and then felt very angry when I felt failed by the people who I was desperately relying on. 

There's a part of me that wishes I had some dramatic, explosive story to tell you about how I was brought out of this place but I don't. But I think that my story is more beautiful because of it's simplicity. 

So much of my faith and so many of my encounters with God have happened on the mountain top, literally- ski trips and figuratively- retreats, conferences...etc. God has a way of pulling us out of our day to day and putting us in his creation or under incredible teachers and worship leaders and showing us himself. My life has been deeply moved and impacted by these experiences and I definitely believe they have the ability to touch lives. But I have also seen how when these experiences lack the discipleship to teach us how to live out this radical faith in the day to day, often mundane, parts of our lives we come "down" and feel a little lost. 

When I first heard about the IF: Gathering ( I was thrilled. The message of this movement resonated so deeply with me AND it was on my birthday so it completely felt like fate. I hungered for the message they were talking about but more than that just longed for a place to escape. I pictured a girly weekend with friends, convinced Matthew to rent a hotel room for whoever I would go with, had conversations with a dear friend from out of state about her coming down and spread the word trying to convince people to join me. Well interest seemed scarce and then as many times as I tried entering my information it wouldn't go through and then sold out. Long story short is that it didn't even work out for me to get to a local gathering to watch the conference and so I just moved on. Then a friend who had watched the conference encouraged me to buy it so I could watch it myself. It was a great price and you got a free travel mug (I love myself a free mug!) so I downloaded the videos. 

I still haven't made it through all of it but have been DEEPLY touched, challenged and moved by what I have listened to. There are crazy powerful messages that have been incredibly important to me where I am at but I will save that for another post. 

One of the biggest things I learned in this was what it looks like for me to meet with God. I have listened to these teachings right here at my computer desk in the middle of my living room. Sometimes while children napped but often with a loud almost 3 year old and a newby crawler making mischief right behind me. I have processed these lessons through text messages and phone calls while doing dishes and making meals. I have sat at friends tables or restaurants and talked through the powerful work that God is doing in my life. 

I have had it regularly validated that this season (raising littles) is uniquely hard but am also being reminded through those mothers ahead of me that it is a season and one day I will no longer have to have any part in taking care of the pooping and peeing of another human being and what a glorious day that will be! God graciously, through making my If: Gathering happen alone in the midst of the beautiful craziness that is my life, taught me how to meet him HERE. There is beauty on the mountain and there is a time and place for that but how much more valuable is knowing how to find Jesus in my day to my reality. 

We started there and over the last 6 weeks I feel like in what to any observing eye would look like a rather uneventful life of a stay at home mom I have been on a journey with my Jesus and he is growing me and shaping me and is SO near to me. I am excited to share the deeply valuable things he is teaching me but I am starting here because this is where he started with me.

An Invitation

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It has been the coldest winter I ever remember having. It has chilled  us to the bone and trapped us indoors. I bought R new shoes over the weekend so had her try them on. Which of course lead to an immediate request to go outside. The dog needed out anyway so I told her she could go out, fully expecting a quick re-entry to escape the cold. But yesterday was a warm and sunny respite to the harshness that has dried out our skin and made me want to hibernate with a mug filled with hot liquid and under a warm blanket.

So my sister and my littles headed outside with me. We played and ate and pulled weeds until I couldn’t put naps off any longer. After I got both of them down I went back out. My sister was still pulling weeds.

When we bought our house we quickly established lots of dreams and wants for our yard. Gardens and decks and furniture to allow for meals outside. But with news of a pregnancy within a couple months of moving in, the busyness of life and never having cared for a yard before those thoughts have remained dreams. It didn’t help that within the first 6 months we had multiple people with way more knowledge than us raise suspicion about the health of our tree. So plans were delayed until we, finally, had someone come confirm that it needed to be removed.

I felt sad. I remember driving up the first time we looked at this house. There was life in that tree. She was green and appeared to be thriving. There were baskets with flowers hanging in her limbs. She has provided entertainment during meals with the life she invites to explore her limbs. I have delighted in my daughter, delighting in the birds and squirrels that have explored there.

But we have seen less life there and it was confirmed that this tree I loved was not thriving. So we had her removed this weekend. It was my birthday so I left while they were just taking down branches. We came back later that day and our yard was empty.

Then yesterday out back my sister started the endless project of pulling weeds back there. After I joined her without kids I looked at the part she had worked on and it looked barren. Before a quick glance at the yard and you would have seen green and flowers and life. But like our tree it wasn’t healthy. It was full of weeds and the healthy grass beneath was suffocating.

Early in the morning while disciplining my daughter and reminding her that God loves her she asked, “Where is God?” I told her that God is everywhere and she pointed around the room asking, “God’s on the floor? God’s on the wall? God’s on the ceiling?” I loved the simplicity of her understanding of that truth. And was reminded of it myself in a moment I desperately needed it.

With the memory of his presence I heard him speak to me through His creation. He gently showed me that I am not healthy. That even the things that appear healthy aren’t coming from a place of thriving life. He spoke his love and his desire to remove the things that bring death and make room for life. Not like the men who in what felt like to me (although likely not to them) one fell swoop took our tree. But like my sister. Sitting in the dirt, determined but gently using her hands. Not with a goal of making things look good for now but with a desire to make room for life. So slowly and carefully she grabs each weed at the root and pulls. This picture of tenderness is what he promises me. With loving patience he will grab at the things in my life that bring nothing but death and make room for life.

It will hurt. It will take time. It will leave the reality exposed and barren, like my backyard. But it will make room for life. It will make room for me to thrive. So where there has been fear of this season that I feel Him calling me into, today there is peace. Because I see so clearly that he isn’t sending me into this alone. He is inviting me to come and sit with him so that I can find Him.

Made it Monday: Happy Anniversary

Monday, January 27, 2014

Matthew and I are about to celebrate 6 years together! CRAZY!!

 These are my absolute favorite pictures from the wedding.  These were literally taken RIGHT after the ceremony while we waited to start taking the "real" pictures. The only word I can use to describe this moment is bliss. I was in giddy shock that I was actually married and that this man was MINE to love for the rest of my life! 

I will save all the sap for another post but I feel incredibly blessed that in all the joys and challenges of the last six years this man was by my side.

In 6 years we have called 4 places home. One was only ours for 6 weeks... and 3 weeks of that was Matthew living there before the wedding...and 1 week of that was our honeymoon, so that never really felt like home. In Austin we lived in 3 apartments, one of those moves though was literally jumping across the hall to a bigger apartment after we had Riley. Then a year and a half ago we bought our first home! We looked at some homes that we would have had to fix up and even made an offer on one. I am SO thankful that it didn't go through since we found out we were pregnant a month after we moved in. Our house was move in ready so while there are things we would like to do we haven't had the stress of trying to remodel. Really all we have done is get some new furniture and slap some paint on the walls!

We have been talking for awhile about redoing our bedroom. So we decided to take the plunge and for our anniversary put some money into that. We started with the closet because we needed some organization to happen in there, especially since we have 2 big dressers we are getting rid of. 

I lamely forgot to get a before picture but there was just one rod for hanging clothes that went all the way around and had a shelf on it. And now we have this:

On Friday we cleaned everything out, tore down the shelf, sanded, and Matthew ran to Ikea to pick up what we needed. Saturday we painted and Matthew installed the rods. Sunday I made the bad choice to try to put the shelf together on my own and I got this far:

Then not only was I not able to get the last 2 sides on but I also had the realization that I was never going to be able to lift this by myself. Matthew came to my rescue after he got home from work and put it up! 

We are both loving how much more fits in there and how organized it is. We are still deciding (agreeing on!) what else we will do in our bedroom so stay tuned for that!

Made it Monday: Confession

Monday, January 6, 2014

I have a confession..... that I have a problem.... I am a hoarder.  Not of everything but of one thing... That is 59 glass jars/bottles. And that doesn't include the jar from the pasta sauce I used for dinner is on the drying rack. Or the fact that we use mason jars as drinking glasses. 

I think it all started a few years ago with pinterest. After so many pins of ways to reuse them ever single jar had so much potential. And to throw them away just seemed sad and wasteful. I didn't really realize how bad it had gotten until I had Matthew help me gather it all tonight. 

These have taken up space on a shelf in the garage and a cabinet above my fridge since we moved (18 months ago) and the collection has continued to grow. 

Now for a tiny bit of justification I have utilized some of them.  In addition to drinking glasses I have made these:

My mom used to work at a Christian bookstore and passed on some damaged bibles to me so one of those is covered with the book of Matthew and one with the book of Psalms. I have Modge Podge and more bibles hanging out in my craft closet so it is on the priority list to get more of these made.

I also made these way easy vases with some acrylic paint for Riley's first birthday party:

But I am on a mission to not just leave these all on a shelf for another year. Call it a New Year's resolution if you like. So help me by sending some inspiration my way. Or if you'd like a scripture covered wine bottle, let me know! :)

Made it Monday (with a twist)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Well today's made it Monday post is mostly just me saying I made it to Monday. The craft we made this week got eaten by the dog. (Note to self: salt dough ornaments are good dog treats... Not sure if they're actually healthy or if acrylic paint is recommended for ingestion though...) 

We have had a crazy week. A lot of highs as we get to spend time with Amy who is home from Uganda. And a lot of lows as we have dealt with sickness, sleepless nights and new discipline issues. But in the midst of it all I have had some sweet moments with my kids this week. 

Matthias is getting so fun and interactive. He is sitting(ish) and rolling and wiggling everywhere and laughs all the time. I feel a little overwhelmed by how fast time has gone and can't believe he is about to be 6 months old! It doesn't help that tonight I put him in 12 month pajamas and he completely filled them out.

(I love this sweet boy!)

Riley got to make some sweet ornaments to give as gifts this week. And even though most of them have been ingested the memory was still sweet. This girl loves to get her hands dirty and create. She also loves to make things for people. I want to continue to encourage this and it gave us a great chance to talk about what we are celebrating this week. 

(My little creator hard at work!)

I shared with her about why we give gifts and are given gifts this time of year. I reminded her that on Christmas we will celebrate Jesus' birthday and that God gave us Jesus and that He is the greatest gift we've ever been given. I told her that we give gifts to people to help them and ourselves remember how much God loves us. 

I know her understanding is limited but I am thankful that when I look for opportunities to share this message with her they are easy to find. God has surrounded us with Himself and I want to teach my children, and myself to see Him more. 

(We did have a survivor that was hanging on our tree.)

We found the tutorial to make these at Mommypotamus.