25 August 2014

things I want to tell new mamas that I can never remember when it's time to write in a card and wouldn't fit in there anyway.

So suddenly, I find myself in the 'young mom' category rather than the 'new mom' one.
Atticus is almost two, which is completely NOT baby anymore. This kid is living his life and I am along for the ride.
And I've realized I've learned some things in the last two years which other people have probably learned too and which others are going to learn in the near future, but I always appreciate a heads up from people slightly more experienced than me in life . . . so here you go: some honesty, maybe some profanity, hopefully some truth.

  1. Trust your new-mama instincts and emotions, even if they surprise you. I am not an especially nurturing person by nature. My favorite advice to give is "Well, figure it out. Read your Bible. You'll be fine." However, not long after Atticus was born I was like crying because he was so cute and saying things like "It's ok, mama's here." This was totally weird and surprising for me. Part of me wanted to brush it off and say I was just hormonal [partially true], but the rest of me, which was falling so deeply in love with this fat, pathetic little person told me to dive into how I was feeling. The amazing thing about hormones is that God gave them to us on purpose - to help us fall in love with our spouses, to help make us want to, ahem, procreate . . . and also to bond with these precious, helpless, tiny little people that are a result of said falling in love. So don't make excuses about being emotional and hormonal and tired and whatever. Don't put up walls around your heart when you hear your sweet baby crying. Go ahead and cry with them because they're so sweet and sad; sit and smell their head for like 47 minutes because it's the best thing ever; stay home alone just the two of you when people say you need to get out [at least sometimes] and just look at them and talk to them and pour out this ridiculous Niagara Falls of love on them any way you know how . . . and then, sit and cry some more because at some point, it'll hit you that this is how God the Father loves you BUT SO MUCH MORE.
  2. But let go - a little bit. You need to take care of yourself and your marriage [if you're married]. Those are not selfish things and they are the best things you can ever do for your kids. GO on a walk with your husband for an hour while somebody else who loves that baby watches them. LEAVE for a Starbucks run and hour of reading a book with long words while your baby has time with Daddy. Do it. All will be well. Tiny vacations are the beginning of your child trusting you to come back, and you trusting Jesus to take care of them.
  3. You still need Jesus. Probably you read that and if you're an honest person you're like no s&!t I need Jesus! I don't know what on earth I'm getting myself into! I'm about to/just did push a human being out from between my legs! Yes. This is true. But I'm not talking just the "I Need Thee Every Hour" kind of needing Jesus, though that hymn takes on a whole new meaning when you become a parent. What I mean is that you still need to be friends with Jesus. You still need to spend time with Jesus. Alone. And I know for me, and maybe for other new moms too, something in you freezes up at the thought of this. Another person who needs me. Great. Just what I need. At least Jesus doesn't need my boobs like the rest of my family seems to. Right?!!! Oh mamas [or soon-to-be], Jesus is not another demand on your time and energy. He is not a taker. He is not going to suck the life out of you like your baby does at times, however sweet they are. Even your husband, or friend, or whoever, who might be wonderful and generous, still requires some kind of response from you. But when you come to Jesus open-handed and open-hearted, even when you feel like you have no heart left after giving and giving and giving, he isn't waiting for you so you can give some more; he is waiting to fill you, to give to you, in exactly the way you need it because he knows and loves you THE MOST. You just have to show up and be filled. In the first few crazy months this really can't be that consistent, the showing up. But it can be the attitude of your heart. Once your tiny person starts sleeping all night long, set an alarm and get yourself out of bed - even 15 minutes before they do. Drink some tea. Read some Bible verses. Tell Jesus you've got nothing, and ask him to give you the good gifts he's been waiting to give you. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! All we have to do is the small, but courageous thing - ask; seek; knock; show up. It's worth it. And if we want our children to love Jesus more than anything - this is where it starts; by giving up a little sleep to be friends with God, and showing them that Jesus is THE BEST THING. Better than sleep. The only thing better than sleep, really.
  4. Find something that keeps you from losing your temper. In the big picture, this is naps. But they don't always happen, so find a backup plan. For me, it's singing a stupid song that helped me control my temper when Atticus WOULD NOT STOP CRYING. Usually I ended up laughing. Helpful.
  5. You can't care about everything. I don't care how much you cared about all the tiny things while you were living in parent-theory land before that baby showed up, you can't care about it all anymore. Don't have it in you to do the cloth diapers today? Don't. You'll care again tomorrow. Want to eat an entire pack of Oreos even though all that crap's going into your breast milk? Do it. Just not every day. Need to let your kid cry in his crib so you don't punch him? He'll be ok for five minutes while you settle down. None of these things are the end of the world. You have too much that matters to worry about than the occasional breaking of rules you made up for yourself. And DON'T EVEN let anybody judge you. Does someone have a glint in their eye as you eat those Oreos and make a comment about the "mystery ingredients"? Eat another one. And hang out with that person less.

22 November 2013

for my mom friends, after some conversations this week.

it's hard to have little babies [and big ones] and remember to talk to Jesus, let alone do something that sounds as big and grandiose as Glorify God - something easy for our college selves to do, but hard to translate to a life that involves poop in a greater percentage of daily tasks than we ever imagined possible.

so here are two things: one i read this morning that so spoke to me and was so appropriate; the other i was reminded of as i sat here thinking.

from today's 'My Utmost for His Highest':
Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow concerns of life are not ordained of God; they are as much of God as the profound . . . Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby. To be shallow is not a sign of being wicked, nor is shallowness a sign that there are no deeps: the ocean has a shore. The shallow amenities of life, eating and drinking, walking and talking, are all ordained by God. These are the things in which Our Lord lived. He lived in them as the Son of God, and He said that "the disciple is not above his Master."
 from Andy Stanley:
Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.
so friends. keep desiring and spending time with Jesus, whether in the middle of the night, or the wee hours [or wee 15 minutes] before the crazies wake up, or while they're briefly entertaining themselves on the floor and you can just sit.
but also, let's keep trying to figure out and encourage each other to proclaim the name of Christ in the shallow things, because that's just where we are right now. and hopefully that example will be part of raising young men and women who also proclaim his name and love him more than anything.
i love you! i couldn't do this without you!
happy friday [let's also hold onto the idea of a weekend]!!!

18 November 2013

a more intentional christmas


Atticus totally loving meeting Santa last year

As is Thanksgiving, which is actually probably my actual favorite holiday. We've talked extra about thankfulness in our family the past few weeks, and that, among other things - including this blog post and wisdom from my friend Mandy - has convicted about how our family will spend the Christmas season.

Christmas could easily be a time to just kind of give up on convictions and throw in the towel in our fight against our culture until the New Year, when it's logical to rebuild, resolve, reorganize . . . But I think I would rather use the time we celebrate Jesus' coming to save us to work harder at being the kind of people we want to be, and let it carry us into the New Year. I was totally inspired by Mandy's sharing with me that they only get each of their kids one Christmas gift, and that she already had her Christmas shopping done and wrapped - and this conversation was in October! Those thoughts were really what got me thinking about making some changes to how we spend the Christmas season. Later she sent me these words:
I guess what I am trying to say is be who you are the rest of the year in December, maybe just a little more, a bit more intentionally and you don't have to worry so much about what you DON'T do . . . Be the person you want your kid to be . . . Take back Christmas in your own heart . . . everything you do will be infused with Jesus because that is how you live your life the other days of the year.
So, I guess my goal is, during Christmas, to be the person I want to be I was the rest of the year, instead of the stressed, too-much-pressure-on-myself, not-much-thought-into-things version of myself.  And not because I want to be hypocritical and perfect-y and look good to everyone else, but to remind myself and my family of what's important to us as we celebrate Jesus and start a new year.

So I made an advent calendar. I couldn't find one to my liking that combined everything we love/need to do: sing, learn, do fun things, and share Jesus with people [the only thing it's missing is a reading of 'A Christmas Carol', but I think we'll just add that as our family grows in number and comprehension level]. So here it is, if anyone else was looking for something similar. I plan to use my BFFs Hot Glue Gun and Glue Stick to make numbers to attach to our tree [using the cute pdf here] with activities on the back.

A couple explanations:
  • I love Santa. I believed in him until I was 11. Legitimately. From Santa I learned that hope is worthwhile [and how to deal with disappointment!], that fun and magical things are ok even as you get older, and that it's possible to have him as part of the anticipation of Christmas without taking the focus off of Jesus. Some people disagree; I hope to have him as a balanced and appropriate and fun part of our family's celebration like my parents made for my brother and me growing up, and teach our kid[s] the same lessons I learned. Part of what we're adding to our Santa tradition is him sending our family a letter at Thanksgiving with instructions to use a sum of money to give to others [outside of our normal gift-giving]; this is what Day 1 refers to. Got the idea from the Jen Hatmaker post and their giving their kids 'something to give' and the story of St. Nicholas.
  • I grew up partially in the Czech Republic, where King Wenceslas is a big deal. So there's a day devoted to his story and his carol. Plus it's about being blessed by being a blessing to others.
  • I owe Henry Wadsworth Longfellow an apology; I've always said I couldn't handle his poetry, mostly because of 'Song of Hiawatha'. However, I forgot he wrote 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' [and started reading an old volume of his before bed - how have I gone to college and taught English without ever encountering 'A Psalm of Life' before now?! Read it.], one of my favorite carols. So he's included in the calendar too, and I take back all I ever said about him.
 Enjoy your Thanksgiving-Christmas-and-other-holiday season, friends!

23 May 2013

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood [some thoughts on spring in the city]

I think the city - and the world, really - is at its best in the spring. Hard rains wash away the salty grime of winter. People head outside into the warmth and call across the busy streets about how beautiful the weather is.

I never realized before that spring is my favorite season, but it is. All winter I store up the possibilities and potentialities I see in my yard, my closet, our community and the people in it I know and love. Spring always brings some of them to at least a beginning, or a new freshness, of not to total fruition.

But I think the best thing about spring is that it makes it impossible to deny that there is hope - even for the ugly, the dark and the dirty. After the darkness and cold and loneliness of winter - just when we think we can't make it any longer - a crocus or two will poke its head through the snow! A birdie will start chirping early one morning! The sun will keep shining after dinner one evening! One night, you're warm enough without your electric blanket being on!

All of these things I've always loved, but this year another thought occurred to me: all of the dead things around us coming back to life - trees, grass, flowers - they have no idea they live in what is supposedly one of the fastest dying cities in America.

They're just ALIVE, and so they MUST burst forth in color and light and sound and smell - and bring with them the joy that comes only from rebirth. They make what was ugly and dank and old - beautiful and fresh and new.

If only it lasted. Eventually spring turns to summer - it started to this week as we waited for rain, and schools let out today - and the city gets hot, dusty, faded, lazy. People get hot and cranky, and the unhealthiness and brokenness starts to show again. So there are shootings, and angry arguments in the night, and general craziness.

We need spring and the hope and new chances it brings - but we need Jesus more.
We need revitalization in our neighborhood - but we need it from the Holy Spirit, not our neighborhood association.
We need a sense of community instead of division - but we need it as a result of healing from and unity in Jesus, who is himself our peace.
We need a spring of the soul, to be made so ALIVE that we burst forth like the buds on the trees. The spring outside reminds me that what was once dead can and will be made alive again.

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 
Not by might, nor by power, 
but by my Spirit, 
says the Lord of hosts." [Zechariah 4:6]

02 April 2013

what I learned from giving up facebook for lent . . .

  1. Facebook was sucking my life away [this seems quite obvious]. I got so much more accomplished without it! I read my Bible! I had more energy! I was happier!

  2. Most of what I thought to post were veiled complaints. I guess I'm more negative or am looking for people's sympathy more than I thought . . . lame. I love my life. No more of that.

  3. If I need to rest and relax, I'd much rather watch TV or read - at least I'm actually being entertained or made a better person. For example, watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon makes me a better parent; instead of being mad at the little guy for things that he can't help as a six-month-old, I now speak to him in thank-you notes when I get frustrated: "Thank you, Ornery Boy, for waiting until after I showered to spit up directly down my shirt."

  4. The only things I truly missed were happy birthdays from so many lovely people and finding out when some babies were born . . . but now I saw them and am happy, just a few weeks late.
So there you go. I'll probably only be on facebook [except to use/check messages] a couple times a week. Yell at me if I complain, even if it's in a funny way.

I'm off to fill the crockpot with vegetable beef stew . . . yeah, didn't even attempt to give up Pinterest for 40 days. Impossible.

20 March 2013


There aren't many things in life I love more than the first day of spring - even if it's snowing, like today; just knowing that winter is technically over brings a new lightness to life.  Spring usually coincides with rebirth in my heart as well as the outside. I've found that God points out dead parts of me that need his breath of life [or that I just plain need to get rid of] during the winter, but for whatever reason, it usually takes until the sun starts shining, I can hear the birds in the morning and dormant bulbs start popping up through the ground for me to act.

Recently it's come to my attention that as much as I would like to say my life is focused mostly on the eternal and that I seek the kingdom first [we live in the Hood! we lead a missional community! we 'get it'!], it's not really true. For a little over a year, since finding out I was preggo with Ornery Boy, my life has been pretty self-focused [justifiably, and probably necessarily, so]. I had to do what was best for the little person inside me [no more walks through the Danger Zone to the library downtown, or really anywhere once it got so freakin hot, or just eating cookies for lunch . . . and dinner] and get ready for him to join us [lots of time spent inside cleaning and organizing rather than out with the neighbors]. And then I didn't go back to work, and fell in love with being a full-time mama [which I know has eternal significance - but what Ornery Boy really needs from me is for me to love Jesus more than anything!]. Thus, mid-winter found me planning lots of house and garden projects and desperately wanting a new couch, since I had been spending so much time sitting on our current one. This is pretty much all I thought about. Nevermind my neighbor who's on her last leg and doesn't know Jesus, or the clinic around the corner at which I'd made it a goal for the year to serve.

Thankfully, Jesus loves me too much to leave me there or let me settle for things that don't actually matter, and thus don't actually fulfill me.

He usually gives me statements that stick in my mind or that I need to work towards making true; here they are.

You can't take it with you.
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions . . . But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
We will fix our eyes on the One who will last forever/We will hold on tight to the only real treasure/We will not lose heart/We will not lose hope/We will give our lives to the One who will last forever [Sanctus Real
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning." . . . All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. [C. S. Lewis]
Pursuing anything but Jesus, even if it isn't sin in itself, is still not pursuing Jesus.
There's a difference between how much you pack for a visit [Earth!] and to live somewhere permanently [Heaven!].

So that's where this Vernal Equinox finds me. Still planning/doing house projects? Yes. Obsessing over them as if they were IT? No [most days]. Instead of how can I make my house awesome?, it's how can I use the home God's given me to impact eternity? Trying to fix my eyes on Jesus and keep eternity in mind amidst the diapers that need washing. Reminding Ornery Boy that though he's the cutest thing in the world, he's still dead in his sins and in need of Jesus, just like his mama. Doing my best to seek out time to spend with friends, some who know Jesus and some who don't yet, both of whom keep me on track.

And I think "You can't take it with you" is going to make it onto the living room wall for which I spent so many hours pinning ideas . . . I need symbolic things around to remind me - like the time at camp when I was more in love with Handsome Husband than Jesus so I plastered some Bible verses over a picture of his face [HH's, not Jesus'] by my bunk . . . and then he saw it. Awkward if anything ever was.

Here's to new, real life!
Oh, and here are my favorite first day of spring sandwiches. Leave out the pepperoncini; serve with fries and fruit and sweet tea. Perfect.

07 February 2013

well, here we are.

I started a blog a few years ago, when we first moved here.
I think I wrote one post.
But, now I have a little more time on my hands, and a little more to say, so let's begin again.
One thing I'm realizing about life is that it won't ever really be predictable [hurray!], and will always be an adventure if I choose to view it as such. In some areas, I could use a little less of this [how many times will I need to change my clothes to avoid smelling only like spitup by dinner? will I remember to brush my teeth? who knows?]; in other areas, more [forcing myself to make the time for unexpected visits to and from my neighbors, for example].
So, here's to more adventure in everyday life! Feel free to join me.