Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bad Morning for This Bad Mom

 I am going to be real. This morning was ROUGH. Like "I am a terrible mother" and "These children are awful" kind of rough! 

Now, we have conflict and chaos in our lives like everyone, but I can usually just rely on God's grace alone and not dwell on it all... I guess I am usually too sanguine to allow guilt or anger to weigh on me too long.

But this morning was more rough than any I ever remember. Both my kids decided they didn't want to cooperate. I repeated myself more than I should have, and let them take too long to obey because I was distracted with my own getting ready. It felt convenient, but it wasn't loving. I did not have my husband at home to help for the 3rd morning in a row (not his fault at all; I'm not blaming him). It was a wash-hair day for me, and even though they always sleep through the sound of my husband showering, they were both wide awake and hyper while I was soaked behind the shower curtain, so I let them watch tv too long while I got ready. The shirt Em wanted to wear for 80s day was missing, but we spent half an hour looking for it. I yelled, because who knows where she put it after wearing it last time (her dirty clothes don't always get in the basket). Then I made her wear normal clothes,
and I refused to even give her a side pony tail. 


Then my kids and the little girl we drive to preschool all started fighting over which side of the car they get in on - "This is my side!" they were all yelling at each other and tattling that someone else used "their door" or "their side". And I lost my patience! I didn't know whether to laugh, scream, or sit down and cry! Instead I told them that none of them owned the car, and that every side of the car was MINE. I told them they only get to ride in the car because I let them. I said if they wanted a ride, they better just get in and hush while I was being nice to let them. The only other choices were to walk in the rain or miss school (which is a lot to explain to 3 children ages 5 and under). But I guess they understood, because thankfully they all bought it and got really quiet and got in their seats. Then my kids ate cold leftover biscuits and string cheese for breakfast in the car on the way to school; I seriously had considered not feeding them at all. Emersyn got her first tardy. And I forgot to pack her lunch.

I did try to end the morning on a positive note while they were quietly riding in "my car" before Em got out of the car for school. But basically the morning was a massive failure. And it was how we started the day.

I kept mulling the guilt over in my mind for a while until I realized that the day isn't over, and these kids need to see repentance and forgiveness by the end of the day. Yes, I am very pregnant and tired. And yes, they were acting like they hadn't ever been taught to behave. But my responses are MINE, and no one and nothing else can be blamed for my behavior.

The Lord is gracious, and it is His kindness that compels us to love and obey Him. His perfection is my hope and my redemption, not my own (obviously, since I have none of that).


I am SO thankful that HIS grace is sufficient for crappy mornings, noons, and nights. And that even "bad moms" can get it right, not because they handle things perfectly, but because they depend upon the God who loves and forgives perfectly!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to School: Homemade Lunchables

It is that time again!  SCHOOL TIME!!! I am one of those weirdos who loved school so much as a kid, that I get giddy for my daughter to experience the same...

But my daughter and I are very different.  I LOVED cafeteria food - still do!  I loved the rectangle pizza, the thick mac and cheese, the salad bar, mashed potatoes, bread rolls, weird meat with gravy on top that they called salisbury steak, meatloaf, and whatever other possibly frozen, processed, food served in mass thing those awesome cafeteria ladies slopped onto my tray.

But with my daughter, it is easier to name the things she will eat than the numerous things she won't.  She won't any vegetable AT ALL!  And no matter how I have tried to hide them in things she will eat, it is like she can sniff them out!  She won't even eat potatoes unless they are French fries or tater tots!  Who doesn't like mashed potatoes or friend potatoes or cheese potatoes?!

Anyhoo, so last year I started sending her packed lunches to school at Pre-K.  On occasion when they were having something I knew she would eat at least 2 things on her tray, then I would let her eat cafeteria food - and the food program that year was FREE for ALL students!

This year, I am still going to mostly send her packed lunches, but not so much for the pickiness factor.  This year it costs money, and really not that much at all for eating a meal "out"!  But I knew that I could pack lunches cheaper and be sure that everything I pack is something my daughter will eat.

But again, the list of things she'll eat are limited, and there is the added difficulty that packed lunches to school cannot be something that needs to be heated up.  So what to do?

I got this idea one evening when I was grocery shopping with my kids in-tow.  Usually I buy my kids each a Lunchable to eat on while I shop.  It is pretty cheap, quiet, not too messy, and keeps them occupied so I can get the shopping done!  I decided NOT to throw away the empty Lunchable plastic trays after I had scanned and paid for them like I usually did.  Instead, I took them home, washed them with soap and hot water, and let them air dry.

And the next time I took my kids to the pool or splash pad or zoo, instead of buying a Lunchable at the store, I filled those previous trays with lunch goodies from home!  My kids LOVE it!  They love how different they can be and that I occasionally fill one of the compartments with Sour Patch Kids!

So when Emersyn went back to school, I decided to price-check a typical homemade lunchable to see if it was cost-effective for me to NOT buy her cafeteria lunches AND NOT buy her actual Lunchables from the store.  I was surprised at how cheap I can pack her a lunch she loves, and her lunchable, once it is unwrapped, looks just like the student's next to her after they peel back their Lunchable seal.


I pull the cardboard off the bottom of each store-bought Lunchable I occasionally buy (which is the brown you see at the bottom of some compartments where it was glued to the plastic) and write " Do NOT throw away" in the center so the container comes back home at the end of the school day.
So here's what I do:
I choose different kinds of cheese.  Just slice each piece into 9 little squares! 
This amount costs me about 14 cents!

My son LOVES these crackers!  He won't touch the real Lunchable ones! 
This amount of crackers costs me about 15 cents!
I also buy different types of lunch meat.  This was all I had on-hand for this pic,
but I have also packed fully-cooked frozen chicken nuggets
 and by the time she has lunch they have thawed in her lunch bag!
 The pepperoni and Canadian bacon pieces come in circles, just like the meat in real Lunchables.
 For deli meats, I slice into small squares the same way I do the cheese.




One version of a typical "Lunchable"




"But how do you keep everything from falling out of the compartments?"
I'm glad you asked!  I wrap them in sandwich sized baggies that have a fold top.
 They fit pretty good on this 3-compartment sized lunchable tray, but stretch just perfectly over the 4-compartment trays better!




Put the tray into the baggy, push the long flap over the side and on top of the tray,
 and then stretch the folded flap over and down the sides and corners of the tray.
Basic option completed and ready to go into the lunchbox!
Another variation in a 4-compartment tray:  I put many different things in these things!  Today, I put a boiled egg, chicken nuggets, ranch dressing, and blueberries in one of these trays.  But for this demonstration, I stuck to basics of what almost every kid will eat - Goldfish, apple sauce, sliced string cheese, and Canadian bacon!  Yum!  I admit I have packed this for myself on occasion when picnicking in the park!  This cost me 33 cents for the applesauce, 25 cents for the Goldfish, 25 cents for the string cheese, and 66 cents for the Canadian bacon.


I try to always pack this and put it in the refrigerator at night for the next day.  It takes me maybe 3 minutes!

In the morning, I quickly just tuck in an ice pack of some sort in to the lunch box so it will stay cool until lunchtime!
This entire lunch for my 5-year-old daughter for her school lunch, costs me about $1.61!!!  A store-bought Lunchable will cost at least $1.25, but I also have flavored milk and a GoGurt packed in here!  And this is healthier than the Oreos that were in one of these compartments originally!

It costs us 30 cents for my daughter to buy a carton of milk at school, so what I do instead is keep these character bottles that originally come with apple juice in them at Walmart.  I usually buy my kids one of these while grocery shopping too.  When I get home, I wash them in soap and hot water, cut the label off, and store them to reuse them as "sippy" cups.  The type of tip on Rapunzel's head is spill-proof, which is great if my daughter's lunchbox gets dropped or flipped around inside her backpack.  I buy a gallon of milk, put in a little strawberry syrup (sometimes), shake it, and pack it in with the "lunchable".  The milk costs me about 14 cents!

Anyhoo, this is maybe the silliest blog post I have ever written, but I have had several people tell me that this is a helpful idea to save money and time.  So I thought I'd share it just in case anyone else wants to try it out.

Again, the possibilities are endless!  Here is a list of various items I have packed into these compartments (sometimes even just cutting or slicing things up in a few seconds in order for it to fit):
cheese
lunch meat
string cheese, shredded cheese, cheese slice
blueberries
pickle
candy
unsweetened apple sauce
pretzel sticks
Goldfish/Whales
Crackers
strawberry slices
carrots (for my son, my daughter would cry)
fully-cooked, frozen chicken nuggets
boiled egg (surprisingly, my daughter loves these... like, what???!!!)
apple slices
peanut butter
ranch dressing (I tuck folded saran wrap over it and then still wrap it in the sandwich baggy)
banana slices
tangerine slices
trail mix
Captain Crunch cereal
Peanut butter and jelly roll-ups (pb&j spread on a tortilla and rolled up, sliced into inch-wide pieces)

So there you have it - one more random contribution to the internet of a mom saying "this is how I pack lunches" and probably everyone else is rolling their eyes and thinking 'No one cares!'

But I am excited this is so easy, cheap, and my daughter loves lunch at school!!!'

What else would fit into these compartments?  I'd loved to read your ideas in the comments!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Having My "Rainbow Baby": My Love/Hate Relationship With The Phrase

I didn't used to hate the phrase.  In fact, before I ever had a miscarriage myself, I remember seeing others post pictures of their "Rainbow Baby", and I thought 'Isn't that sweet?'  And I'm sure I even got teary-eyed thinking about what a gift a new baby is after losing one.

But then I had a pregnancy end.  Randomly.  For no reason.  Without cause.  Just ended.  And sometimes being Pro-Life, an abortion abolitionist, and a Believer in God, the Creator and Giver of Life, really sucks because I know that the phrase "pregnancy loss" is a cowardly way of avoiding saying exactly what is happening.  Since life begins at conception, then any "loss" after that is a death.  And death brings mourning.  So I mourned.  Some days I mourned a lot.  Others hardly at all.

And then I found out I was pregnant.  Which I wasn't trying to become again.  In fact, I was afraid to ever try again.  I was afraid that every pregnancy would end in death.  I was afraid to get excited.  I was afraid to get attached to an idea, to a person, again.  But I was excited!  And again, I knew someone was living inside of me... it is so hard to not feel joy!  So I wrote about it.  And even though talking about it in person was much more difficult, writing about it first eased me into talking about it.  And celebrating too!



And then people began to say THAT phrase.  They typed it on my Facebook posts, blog posts, wrote it in cards, and spoke it out loud in congratulatory conversation.  And I hated it.  I didn't correct anyone, and I didn't rant about it.  I knew they had good intentions. And I wrestled through the "why does this repulse me so?!"  And I waited months before I told my husband that every time I heard or read someone call my baby my "Rainbow Baby" that I wanted to scowl at them and lay out all the reasons why that label is ridiculous!

I mean, "Rainbow Baby"... seriously?  Who thought of that?!  There are several reasons why the phrase just makes my skin crawl or makes me want to roll my eyes.  First of all, it sounds SO cheesy!  I tend to gag at the thought of trying to make everything butterflies and... well, rainbows.  And I guess that phrase makes me feel like the person using it is trying to tell me that everything is alright now.  Everything is better.  Everything is just peachy.  And while life is pretty great and is a wonderful gift, "peachy" isn't how I would describe my feelings on all my emotions have gone through in the past year.

Let me tell you, every once in a while I still weep.  It comes from nowhere, gets me from my blind spot, and I feel it all over again.  The month of June was the worst... my due date for the baby that I lost.  Even though I can feel this new baby moving and kicking while I would cry about the baby I never felt move and never will.

It never fails that every time a certain song comes on the radio, I cry.  And I cry because I am still sad about the baby I lost.  For a long time, I didn't know why the writer wrote the song, but once I looked it up and was shocked that the song was written after the songwriter had miscarried.  The song is "Thy Will Be Done" by Hillary Scott.  I'm sure other people hear that song and think of their own sad story.  Some people might even hate the song, because they don't like what the song says about God and how He works.  But I believe it is Biblical truth, and all my hope depends upon the God of the Bible.  So I cry.  Every.  Time.  Every moment I hear the intro, I tell myself that perhaps this time I will be strong enough to sing along (because I am also a big believer in singing in the car) and not cry.  But I have yet to make it through without tears.  And in that moment, it doesn't matter that a new baby is here, healthy, and growing.  I mean, it matters, but my new happiness doesn't mean my old sadness disappears.

Which brings me to another reason I have not been appreciative of this phrase.  "Rainbow Baby" doesn't seem to only imply "sunshine and rainbows"... it also seems to say "replacement baby".  And it makes me think of one of my favorite books I read as a teenager called "Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones" about a young mother whose son dies shortly after birth.  In the book she talks about how when she finds out her baby has died, she wants to go home and begin a new baby... and perhaps this is how some people react to losing a baby or child... but now that I have had a loss of my own, it seems that would be the last reaction someone would have in the situation.  I could be wrong.  But I bet in most cases, a mother knows that babies aren't items to be replaced when lost and would feel guilt about wanting to replace them.  Each child is unique and uniquely loved... and uniquely missed once he or she is gone.  I wasn't just afraid of getting pregnant and becoming hopeful again after losing that pregnancy, I knew that 10 more babies would never make me forget how excited I was that one time and how devastated I was when that excitement ended "too soon".

Except I know that with my loving, all-knowing, and compassionate God there is no such thing as "too soon".  That is actually the reason why that same song that makes me mourn, also gives me such comfort.  Not all the tears I cry when I hear this song are sad tears.  They are healing tears.  They are thankful tears.

I know all of that sounds crazy and doesn't seem to make sense when put together.  But I know from experience that all of that can be swirling inside your head and heart, and they don't contradict one another.  My sadness and my joy and His comfort all swirl together and collide, kind of like in a storm.  And it rains.  Sometimes it is a light drizzle.  Sometimes a flood.  Sometimes it washes up junk into spaces that I thought were cleared out.  Sometimes it washes all the junk away.

The final reason I hated this phrase "Rainbow Baby" was because it labeled this new child, not based on his or her own personality or merit, but by a previous sibling's death... something this new child had nothing to do with - no cause or control over.  This new baby should NOT be loved more or less based upon someone else's story.  And I don't ever want this new child to feel like I only love him or her because they distracted me from sadness or "filled the hole in my heart" kind of garbage.  I want to make it very clear that "holes in your heart" from losing one do not get filled by gaining another person in your heart.  Our capacity to love is quite unlimited in this sense... perhaps this is another way we are made in God's image (although a very flawed and fallen version).  You don't run out of room in your heart when you have another child; our hearts exponentially expand.  And let me tell you this too, our hearts don't shrink in size to accommodate loss of loved ones either.  I want this new baby to know that they have their own special place in my heart that isn't based on or compared to any other love I have for others.

But let me tell you why I no longer despise, hate, gag, etc. when I hear this phrase.  One day I was just randomly looking up the definition of this term, because I was so annoyed.  But then I stopped in my tracks.  It still may not be my favorite, but my heart softened and smiled when I read this:

Urban Dictionary defines a "rainbow baby" as a baby that is born following a miscarriage or still birth.  In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.  The storm (pregnancy loss) has already happened and nothing can change that experience. Storm-clouds might still be overhead as the family continues to cope with the loss, but something colorful and bright has emerged from the darkness and misery.


And  I am thankful that perhaps that is what all these people using this term have been trying to express to me.  And what I am now trying to express to all of you is just this:  Rainbow Babies don't erase sadness from previously lost babies.  There is no such thing as a replacement to a lost loved one.  And no person should be loved, worshipped, hated, judged, or reacted to based on the fact that their presence brought joy after someone else's loss brought sadness... or perhaps even without meaning to, brought up old and sad feelings that were long forgotten.  But they should only be loved and reacted to based on their own worth.

But I am also saying that there are still storm clouds.  And it still rains some days.  But I do not want or need to be pitied, because I have much to be thankful for, much I have learned, and am thankful that I have my Rainbow.  We get to see our Rainbow's "beautiful and bright" face in 13 weeks!

Thy Will

Hillary Scott, The Scott Family

I’m so confused
I know I heard You loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of Your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words:

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You’re good
But this don’t feel good, right now
And I know You think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all Your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop,
Remember that You’re God
And I am not
So, Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
I know You hear me
I know You see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news You have in store

So, Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord

 
To view the video and read a little background go to : 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Baby I Was Too Afraid To Ask For

I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T WANT TO BE PREGNANT AGAIN?

People kept asking us if and when we would have more children.  We had said for so long that we were going to probably have 4; my husband hoping for an accidental 5th child to teach me a lesson!  But we only have 2, and the younger one was turning two - the age Emersyn was when we had Keegan, so it was natural that the question would come up.  And we hadn't changed our minds on having more, we just couldn't agree on if we wanted to have any more biologically or begin the adoption process that we had always planned on going through.  We both still want to adopt.  We still want more kids.  But we each had a different idea of how to go about it.  So we kept telling people, "We'll just have 2 until we agree on how the next ones are coming to us."

After 6 months of saying that, and seeing how much my husband really didn't think we were done having children biologically.  At some point, I realized that I just trust him, and I decided that sometimes giving the other person what they want also gives you what you want.  I want my husband to be happy.  I know he is wise.  And I want more kids.  "So, let's have a baby!", I said...

So we got pregnant for the 3rd time.  Easily.  Just like the first two times.  I have been blessed to not have to go through the struggle of infertility.  All 3 times I wanted to get pregnant, I got pregnant the first month we tried!

But, as many of you know, I didn't stay pregnant very long.  I miscarried around 6 weeks in mid-October, and that was a struggle all of its own, for sure.  I have written about that, and I found it helpful to write through the sadness and disappointment.  I will say that it was much easier writing about it than talking about it in person.  The first several times I spoke of it out loud, my voice would waver and I would get teary-eyed.  I have learned that talking about it out loud is much more brave than writing about it on a screen, even knowing that over 1,500 people read what I wrote.
http://livingonvicariousgrace.blogspot.com/2016/10/learning-to-love-and-live-through-loss.html

But I couldn't help but go into "fix it/figure it out" mode... Was it because I was older?  Was I too old?  I haven't been watching my weight or health, did that cause it?  Did I drink too much caffeine?  Would this happen again if we tried again?  Or was this just a one-time thing that God had us walk through?

TRYING TO TELL GOD'S STORY ON MY OWN


See, I did what many people do, and it is wrong.  I tried to figure out why, instead of really going through the struggle of it and really learning more about God and myself.  I would have moments where I cried, prayed, etc... but I mainly just tried to figure out "why did this happen?"  Were we not supposed to have another baby biologically?  Maybe this happened because we are supposed to only adopt from now on.  Maybe this, maybe that... like this was a sign that we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and needed to get back on the "right track".

Then one night I thought I finally knew the real reason why we had lost our baby... perhaps it was to open our minds and hearts to new possibilities we had not considered before.  See, before Kyle always thought of adoption for us as adoption of a newborn only as an alternative to abortion for someone else, and we both loved the idea of open adoption.  We had been reading up on it, and we had decided which agency we liked best.  But we had recently learned that the agency wasn't accepting any adoptive parents at this time, due to their waiting list being full... and then out of no where while on a date, Kyle said that he had really been thinking about adoption through foster care.  I was surprised, and I thought "perhaps this is what it was all for - so that we would open ourselves up to this new avenue of possibility!"  So being the planner I am, I immediately starting reading all over the place about the process.

So at our prayer group's next meeting in January, I was sharing all of this.  In my head, I had been thinking of this whole story like a puzzle that finally had its last missing piece, and now everything was going to be okay.  I like change.  I like newness.  And sometimes it is easier to get excited about something new rather than to truly heal through something else.  But as I shared, I got emotional, and how I had rehearsed my story in my head is not how it came out.  As I spoke, I opened up about how I was really afraid to get pregnant again, because I was afraid to miscarry again.  To break my husband's heart again.  To open myself again and get attached to another person I could lose - and there was nothing I could change about it.  I have no control over it.  And then I started to explain that perhaps my fear and our loss had led us to this mutual awakening to what else could be...  and they heard the truth I had shared.  One of them blessed me with a gentle correction about how we should not make decisions based on fear, and that we should trust God, truly trust Him and wait on Him to guide us.

I was operating completely out of my own fears, strength, and wisdom.  The truth is, only God knows why I miscarried.  Just because everything happens to serve a greater purpose, doesn't mean that each of us get an explanation and a pretty wrapped-in-a-bow ending to our stories.  The truth is I may never know why God had me walk through that heartache.  That doesn't mean He is any less good or not in control.  It means I am learning just how deep my self-sufficiency runs, and that it is interfering with my intimacy with the Lord... how can I be close to Him when I won't trust Him?!

So here we were at a crossroads of decision-making - I really didn't want to stay home full-time if there wasn't a new baby.  But should I go back to work full-time?  Do we start preparing for a home visit to start the adoption through foster care process?  But all of that could take forever, or it might take no time at all... what to do?  Do we not do anything and just wait for God to clear the pain and confusion?

And I started freaking out when February came, because if I was going back to work full-time, I needed to start networking... decisions, decisions...

WAIT A MINUTE!


I was stressed, I wasn't feeling well.  I wasn't resting.  And one day it dawned on me... 'I don't know when my last cycle was'... so I bought a cheapo pregnancy test at the Dollar Store that evening while I was picking up a few other things.

Now, how this all happened really cracks me up, but maybe only because I was there.  Perhaps anyone who has a few kids and has been with your spouse enough years, you will enjoy the real-life scenario too.  I mean, a life-changing event , was happening, but it was also just another day to get the kids to school on time...

So that next morning, was Wednesday - the busiest day of the week.  I decided to go ahead and cram our already-busy morning with the 3 more minutes it takes to pee on the test and set a timer.  While the timer was going, I was fixing my daughter's hair for school.  The timer dinged, I walked over to the windowsill, saw the positive result, and walked back over to my daughter to finish her hair.  I didn't say anything.  I don't think my face even changed.  So Kyle almost fell over when he walked into the bathroom and saw the test in the window while I carried on as if nothing had happened...

"Is this what I think it is?" he asked me while holding the test.

"Yes." I don't think I even looked up.

"Is this from this morning?!"

"Yes."

So with a surprised smile and then a nod, he said, "Well, okay! You alright?"

"I don't know.  I am not even sure how accurate these cheap brands are.  I'll get the right kind later tonight."

Which was silly; we both knew that it doesn't matter if you spend $1 or $10, a positive is a positive is a positive.

And we kissed.  And we congratulated each other.  And then we didn't tell a soul for weeks.  We didn't really talk much about it, except doctor's appointments and "ya feeling okay this morning?" kinds of things.

We were scared to be excited.  Or at least I was.  I think he was just being careful with my feelings and just reacting to my behavior.

When we went to the ultrasound, which seemed like a year later, I wanted to take our daughter with us.  Kyle didn't feel great about the idea in case we got bad news, but he said she could go when I explained that I really wanted her to.  So I just told Emersyn, "We are going to the hospital to see if there is a baby in Mama's tummy."  That way if something bad happened, she wouldn't have her hopes up, and I would have a motivation to keep my emotions in-check.

But there it was - the flutter.  And I surprised myself with how much I cried.  I didn't realize I had been holding my metaphorical breath for about 3 weeks.  When the tech told me I could empty my bladder, I went into the bathroom and sobbed.  I was carrying a baby!  A living baby!  I knew it all along, but I wouldn't allow myself to enjoy it, to really consider it.





So right then we gave ourselves permission to celebrate, no matter how long the celebration lasts.  I realized that I had developed this really twisted way of thinking out of self-preservation.  I had to remind myself out loud that day "When you are pregnant, it means you are going to have a baby; it doesn't mean you might have a baby.  Whether the baby lives a few weeks in utero or until the age of 93... Being pregnant means you have a baby, not that you might if everything goes well have a baby."  It was almost like I had adopted this "I'll believe it when I hold it" mentality.
Big Sister has been taking votes on if the baby is a boy or a girl... but basically you have to vote for your own gender... our friend Shawna voted for a boy, but Emersyn said, "Um, I'm writing you down for Girl!"  Ha!👍👎

So when we got home, Kyle told some close friends and family.  Then he posted a cute picture of our daughter holding the ultrasound photos.  We had found out we were pregnant the first time with her on March 14th, and here 5 years later we had pictures of this fourth baby taken on March 14th!

I am still getting used to the idea.  I still thank God each time I go to use the restroom and I don't have bleeding.  I still smile weakly every time I throw up, because that means someone is still with me right there in the bathroom, growing, completely unaware that his or her mom still worries they won't be here tomorrow.  But I also have incredible hope.  And my hope is growing too.  And I will preach to myself every day to keep putting my hope in the only One worthy.  I know that He is the author of life, the giver and taker... that we are all made in His image.  And that He cares for us all, always.

And I am allowing myself to make plans.  I know I am only 8 1/2 weeks.  Perhaps we should have waited to tell this time.  But we felt that was just perpetuating the fear I had been living in for months.  We have names picked out.  We are planning to build bunk beds this summer for the older kids to share a room.  When Kyle cleaned out the garage last week, he went ahead and got the baby bathtub and Bumbo out.
Big Brother insists on "sleeping" in the baby bathtub and tell us all that he also has a baby in his tummy... it is a boy that he wants to name Connor 😄😄😄

Why not?!  I am carrying a baby.  And whether I hold this baby in my arms, or someday hold another in my arms that someone else gives life to... or if I eventually get to do both... I know it is okay to get excited about people, no matter how little they are or how long they are with us.  As a friend just sent me in a text, "Congratulations on the promise of new life"... and the way she phrased it is what I am clinging to... I am thankful and hopeful for this promise of new life; the life I was too afraid to ask for... and the good God who has blessed us with life anyway.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Past I Drive By Every Day

I pick up my daughter from school every weekday afternoon, and I usually take the same route.  And as I was driving to her school yesterday, it dawned on me that I drive by my past every single day!  That may not make any sense, but let me explain.  What I actually drive by is this cute little white house with shutters every morning and every afternoon.  It is a simple, rectangular house with a red front door that is only about 800 sq. feet.  But when I am not in my dazed auto-drive mentality (or trying to reach the toy my 2-year-old has dropped and is sobbing about) and I really look and think about it, a ton of my best moments happened in that little white house.

Sometimes I get teary-eyed when I think about all the wonderful and horrible things that occurred while I lived in that cute little box with shutters!  It was my first major purchase (besides a college education, I guess).  I had just graduated from college, and I was ready to start adulting (although I officially hate that word - adult is a noun, not a verb).  My best friend, Jessica, was my roomie, and I was loving my first teaching job (well, the second year I started loving it - the first year, I was stressed).  We had a blast in that house - just two single gals living it up!  We had so much fun hosting international college students for dinner and holidays, having camp outs in the front yard with our friends, and lots of chic flick nights where we would invite all our other single gal friends, watch movies, and talk about our hopes and dreams until stupid o'clock in the morning.  I'm sure I said really sappy things about the man I would marry and the kids we would have... and that Gibson guitar I was going to buy, even though I had no idea how to play it (still don't).

This is my sophisticated map that I drew for clarification... or at least just for my own nerdiness.  It probably isn't very accurate!  But I know some people are visual, so here is my faulty attempt to include those people.

What is hilarious about that is that I had no idea my dream guy was living it up in his bachelor pad with his 3 roommates just two blocks away!  I drive by this house every afternoon too.  It just happens to be down the street from my daughter's school, and going that way makes a loop back to our current house.  It has been updated since he lived there, thankfully: it was pretty bad as most bachelor pads go!  Now as I drive by, I wonder if anyone has finally replaced that awful green carpet that had a huge hole in the middle, or replaced all the mismatched couches.  It is funny that I didn't even meet him until at least 6 months or more after I moved in just 2 blocks away, and we didn't even meet near our houses!  I started attending a new church after that next New Year, and there he was... although, at the time he was just another friend in our 20-somethings group.  We were all just a bunch of single folks spending our evenings playing music, experimenting with how to cook real food, and having a few laughs.  We often would host these evenings at my house.

And while that sounds so fun (maybe, I guess it could sound pretty lame to a lot of you), I also have at least 2 full journals from this time period in my life where I went through major depression.  I completely understand when I read about Millennials who have all this free-time to pursue anything they want, and yet they struggle with depression more than any previous generation.  There is this weird sense of purposelessness sometimes in your early 20s, when you are kind of floating and aren't sure where you want to land.  Back then I was working so hard all the time, and I had recently broken up with a boyfriend who had been a dear friend beforehand... and even though the rest of life was going well, I was disappointed and aimless.  My bitterness with God grew and grew, to the point where I would get angry with any godly encouragement.  It got so bad that I even moved all my roommate's stuff out of the house one day while she was at work (she is a very sweet, encouraging woman of God)... of course, I had it all moved back in by the time time she got home from work.  I was lonely, even though I had a ton of loving family and friends.  I was questioning God, even though I was learning so much of His truth at this new church.  And I felt like a failure, even though I was a homeowner and an educator at the age of 22... but I kept all my depression in that little cute house every time I went out.  I hid it all within those walls and those journal pages, and my roommate was gracious enough to not call me out on it when I was faking my way through social event after social event.

I lived in that house for 4 years before Kyle and I started dating, and I had only really started liking him 6 months before that.  I mean, he was just down the street and around the corner for 3 1/2 years that I was moping around about being single and miserable.  And then all of a sudden, he was mine, and he only lived down the street and around the corner!!!  We would go on walks, he would walk me home.  We had our first Christmas as a couple in that living room.  He stayed with me while I waited on the police the night that house was robbed.  And several months later we spent our wedding night in that house.  I became a wife in that house, cooking and cleaning.  He became the husband I always hoped for in that house - you know, mowing, taking the trash out, and trapping and killing a few mice (my hero, for sure)!  We had our first fight about arranging furniture in that house.  We did our first bathroom remodel there.  And he held me while I sobbed the night my grandpa died in that bedroom.

It is a really long story, but we moved back into that same little white house when our daughter was almost 2 years old.  And then we made even more animated memories - Emersyn potty-training, dressing up as Dory for Halloween, and "helping" me bake cookies.  Our son was conceived in that house, and all my afternoon "morning" sickness took place in that bathroom.  Many days of that pregnancy, I was so thankful our house was very small, because I could sleep and ignore our 2-year-old daughter while she was practically always within arm's reach if she got into something she shouldn't.  I remember giving her horsey rides on my back while having my 8-month-in-utero son on my front.  We had lots of tea parties, and when it snowed, we brought a tub full of snow into that living room for Emersyn to play with.

We brought our son home from the hospital to that house, and he slept in the living room since I didn't want him waking his older sister up in the middle of the night... although when you live in 800 sq. feet, everyone is going to wake up anyway.  His bassinet, swing, and diapers were all kept in the living room - along with his Boppy pillow and my recliner that I nursed him in...

I guess you get it by now... I have a lot of great memories in these houses that I drive by every day.  But my point isn't so much that as it is that God had a plan for my life all along, and I had absolutely no idea ahead of time what it was going to be.  I bought that house because it was cheaper to buy than rent.  It was more of a financial decision than one that would change my life, grow me in ways I didn't think possible.

But God knew.

And even more amazing is that as we lived in this tiny house with two kids, with all our stuff busting at the seams... God knew that a house with the perfect layout for our life was only 5 blocks away.  I wonder if I ever drove by it and didn't even give it a glance?  If I looked at it, I know I didn't give it a second thought... and yet, here I am living in that house that I never could have afforded if it hadn't been in foreclosure.  A house that is big enough to host college students and play dates, but small enough to keep it somewhat clean.  A house where my son learned to crawl, walk, and love "Masha and the Bear".  This house where my daughter has had several birthday parties and learned how to count to 10.  This house where women have studied scripture together, and college students have discussed how the Gospel changes our worldview.  This home where I have often lost at Settlers of Catan, or cleaned house while blaring Audrey Assad worship music, and miscarried my 3rd baby.  And here is where my husband and I have measured our marriage in various awesome TV series(es?)... ("This Is Us" is our current jam)...

And when I sat down with this amazing thought and drew it all out on a little map (that is probably not to-scale... I'm not a cartographer)... I had to laugh at the irony and be in awe of God's planning.  So much of my life that I longed for beforehand, or even shook my fist at God in bitterness at His withholding it all from me, ended up unfolding before my eyes within a few blocks' radius!  And I had absolutely no clue at how great it would be when He finally gave it to me!

Only God can do that.  And I am thankful that none of my other stupid ideas on how to get my dreams to come about came to fruition... because it happened when and WHERE He wanted it to... and I now see how beautifully planned out it all was... and still is.

And now I get to be gently reminded of this marvel every day - such a profound realization as I go about a simple errand... driving by my past, in my present, looking forward to whatever the future God holds for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Learning to Love and Live Through Loss: The Story of Our Third Baby

"Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.  No other fount I know... nothing but the blood of Jesus"... I sang this past Sunday standing next to my husband and two children... thinking about the theme of that day's worship set at church - each song being about Christ's blood making me clean, making me whole... It was all very emotional for me, perhaps in a way I'll never be able to describe.  The timing of these songs at first seemed like a dark joke.  Like cruel irony.  But the longer I sang and the more I thought about it, my heart was warmed with the thought of God leading the worship pastor to choose these songs... they couldn't have been more timely.

I leaned over to my husband and whispered in his ear, "The songs are all about blood."  My husband's face told me that he had noticed too... and that he knew why it meant so much.

2 weeks earlier we had been debating on whether there was a second pink line.  My cycle was pretty late, and I just knew I was pregnant.  I had been saying for a week that I thought I was pregnant.  And I saw a second line on that test.  But I wasn't sure if I actually saw it, or if I just knew where it was supposed to be...  and really wanted it to be there.  Kyle said he didn't see it.  So I sent a picture to my midwife, and she said she saw it!  I went in for a blood test to confirm, and I was right!  My midwife sent me a picture of the lab results - a positive pregnancy test!  I couldn't wait to tell Kyle, so I sent him the picture too.  We were both so excited to be having a third baby!  We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing  what the baby's nickname was going to be... who we should tell first... and when.



We had told our parents in unique ways before with our first 2 children, and it just so happened that both our parents were going to be having dinner together at a pregnancy center's fundraiser that evening!  So I sent my husband's mom a text with the lab results picture saying "Can you please show this to my mom?"  And Kyle sent the same thing to my mom's phone.  When they both were finally in the same place and actually looked at the picture, we all Facetimed and laughed about how clever we thought we had been and about the new grandbaby!

We had already made plans to spend that weekend at my in-laws' ranch, and we had invited some friends and their kids to come spend the weekend there as well.  So when my husband got off work on the day after we had announced the pregnancy to our parents, we headed for the ranch.  Earlier that day, I had noticed that all the usual smells at the school where I teach part-time were all stronger and did not mix well.  Bleh!  I noticed that I could even smell the hand soap before I pumped it into my hand in the bathroom.  Later on that afternoon, I had gotten a little carried away (when don't I, huh?) and dressed my kids up for taking a picture for the announcement.  I didn't tell them why we were dressing up, I only said it was for a surprise later that day.  The picture was so cute, and I just couldn't wait to design the announcement, so I spent the hour drive in the car deciding on the layout to announce baby #3.  We decided that we were going to tell our kids right before our friends arrived at the ranch, so that they would still be super excited and blurt it out to our friends upon their arrival.  I envisioned this big happy exchange of hugs and smiles all around, and I was so happy with anticipation!

When we arrived at the ranch, we did the usual hugs and unloading of the car.  I told Kyle that I had to pee, so I ran inside the house to use the restroom.  And as I am still bubbly with excitement, I started to bleed.  I was so caught off-guard.  I had not had any bleeding with my first two pregnancies at all, and I immediately realized the worst-case scenario was probably playing out.  I texted Kyle to come to the bathroom.  I told him.  And I took the wind right out of his sails.  I love that husband of mine.  He gets excited about things he should, and he becomes sad about things he should.  I know from speaking to other women that this is a blessing, maybe a rare one.

In that moment I felt and thought a million different things:
-'I am so glad I didn't tell my daughter.'
-'I am so embarrassed.  I shouldn't have been so excited.'
-'Maybe this isn't what I think it is... what else could it be?!'
-'Of course this would happen when I am at someone else's house.  Without pads.  And all I packed were thong underwear.'
-'I am gonna have to sit here and cry while my husband goes to the dollar store and buys me pads and underwear.'
-'Maybe since the blood is really bright red, maybe that doesn't mean it is a miscarriage... maybe it is something else that is minor...'


So I spent a lot of the weekend in the bathroom or sitting on the heating pad.  I had all the wrong symptoms for a weekend in the country with guests, but they were all the right ones for a miscarriage.  Back pain, clotting, nausea...

I had a few good cries.  I texted my mom, my sister, my midwife, and 2 other friends.  They sent the usual responses one would expect - hopeful, prayerful, and loving words for my heart.  I also tried to be a good hostess to our friends and walked around the ranch with them, watching our kids play together.  It was pretty windy and chilly, but during the times I wasn't in the bathroom, I was so glad to be outside in the fresh air with people I love.

But I also spent a lot of time on the internet researching miscarriage.  I had never had to read on it before, and my sister always told me to "never read the bad news until you have to".  That is when I learned that my guess about bright blood had been very wrong... apparently, it is the darker the better.  I learned that there are several different reasons why a woman might bleed during pregnancy, and not all led to miscarriage.  Many of the miscarriage symptoms were also common pregnancy symptoms, so while this depressed me more, I was also more hopeful...

Now how I could have been both at the same time is difficult to explain and believe... but it is a reality that before I didn't know existed.

After 24 hours, we got more nervous that this might not be just implantation bleeding.  Kyle told me he wanted me to take it easy, and we went home.  He did laundry, got dinner, did the dishes, put the kids to bed... and I was thankful for the time to rest in my favorite lounge pants on the heating pad (on the lowest setting).

I texted our pastors telling them that we thought I was miscarrying and that I wouldn't be coming in to church.  They were very kind, told me to rest and that they were praying for me... and they told Kyle to stay home with me.  Our pastor took over Kyle's Sunday School class, and Kyle ran in early to the church for half an hour to finish the set up I normally do each week.

We sat around in our pjs doing nothing much, and it was so sweet.  The past 2 months had been so stressful for me and Kyle during his recruiting season, and I had missed so much spending quality time with him and my kids... as a family.  I was sad, yes, that I probably wasn't pregnant anymore, but I was also overwhelmed by the love I have for these people and how much I had missed them.  That seems like a weird thing to say about people you live with... but it is very possible to sleep and eat in the same structural space while not feeling connected to them in a meaningful way... to miss them just as much as if they were on the other side of the country.

I became more hopeful as my mom replied, "It is fairly common for women to bleed during pregnancy."  Or listening to a friend's story about bleeding off and on for 6 weeks at the beginning of her pregnancy, and she gave birth to a healthy boy, whom my kids now adore.  A friend contacted me and congratulated me saying my dad had told her the good news... and I asked her for prayer and explained what was happening.  She responded that she had had a miscarriage between her two first kids... she now has 5.  A woman I work with asked me how I was doing, and I asked her for prayer and explained what was going on... she told me she had had a miscarriage before each of her daughters... she now has 3 kids.

During my miscarriage, I learned how common it is to miscarry a pregnancy.  I did not know that 20% of HEALTHY women miscarry.  I did not know that almost every person I explained my situation to had also miscarried.  I didn't know that all these secretly lost pregnancies were all around me in my circle of friends.  I was saddened by learning about them.  I was frustrated by the ignorance of these facts.  I was encouraged that I was not alone, and that I am not a broken freak.

I was also challenged in a new way in my thinking toward our loving and good Heavenly Father.  During this time, I found out another friend is expecting.  She was not wanting to have more children, or at least not for a long while.  She has been struggling, stressing, and anxious over the future.  Over the worry about what it means for her family.  And here I sat at home losing a pregnancy I had planned and hoped for.  It is only natural to notice the irony... to ask God what He is trying to teach me.  To have to pray to check my heart - to ask God to protect me from bitterness, jealousy.  And He has been so gracious to allow me to be truly, sincerely happy for her and the many other women I know that are growing little beauties in their tummies as I type this.  He has shown me that He has lessons for them to learn as well.  And He has been so, so good to me.  And I have felt it every second throughout this loss.

So while my time miscarrying was sorrowful, it was also refreshing... and by Fall Break time, the bleeding had stopped.  I knew my hormones and levels would still be out-of-whack, so I was determined not to let the waiting and not knowing for sure ruin the time we all had off together.

We had the greatest Fall Break, and I think it was even sweeter because of our loss.  We went to the zoo.  We slept in.  We stayed up late.  We hung out with the college students.  We let our kids have a sleepover in each other's rooms, which I am usually very strict about saying NO.  We had a picnic in our backyard.  Kyle went hunting, but only in the mornings and met up with us at the pumpkin patch.  I took fewer photos than usual, and I took it all in a lot more.  I smiled a lot.  Yes, I would get teary-eyed too.  I just felt like something so unfortunate had happened at a time in my life when I needed a new perspective, a breath of fresh air to my soul.



I began to cry in bed that Saturday night, and Kyle held me.  I explained that I wasn't necessarily sad, but I was feeling so much at the same time.  I said, "While I am sad, I am also so incredibly warmed to know that life goes on, and everything in it is a little sweeter."

The next morning we sang all about how Jesus' blood gives us hope, the only hope.  I smiled and teared up at the contrast between what sadness the blood in the world can bring... injury, death, loss... but what great news that through blood, just as human in design as mine, yet given from the body of the God-Man's sinless existence... it makes all things new again.  And that is exactly how I had felt about my time spent with family during and after my miscarriage... like my love for them and my enjoyment of them was all made new again.

And with newness of living comes newness of thinking.  I have begun the process of preaching to myself the truths which do not come naturally to our sinful souls.  I am preaching these truths, with more to come, I am sure:

-There is absolutely no reason why I should have felt embarrassed about being excited about a pregnancy I only had a hunch about for over a week and knew about for sure for a day.  Each life is a life worth being excited about, and if the whole world sees me celebrate one day only to have to mourn the next, embarrassment has nothing to do with it.  There is no shame in wanting to share in excitement.  There is no shame in keeping it a secret until later.  There is no shame in being honest about what is going on in our lives, especially when it stinks!  I am thankful that I shared what was going on with me, because I found much comfort in hearing others' experiences and knowing I wasn't alone.  THERE IS NO SHAME IN LOSS THAT IS OUT OF OUR CONTROL.

-And it is out of my control.  That is a gift.  I don't want things to be in my control, because I know how often I mess so much up!  No, I want God to be in control... of even the things in my life that may cause me pain.  He weaves the most beautiful truths into the stitching up of our deepest wounds... and they are truths we remember forever.  We so often forget the lessons we are taught in the shiny, sparkly times.  I believe it is our fallen, sinful nature that requires us to be broken in order to be made right... to have to first look less like us in order to look more like Him.

-And since it is out of my control, then there is no guilt for what occurred... all that I am responsible for is how I avail my broken self to the ultimate Fixer.  Not so that I can have my way now or later, but so that I can honor God's purpose in all this by paying attention to the purpose in all this!

"Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow!  NO OTHER FOUNT I KNOW!  Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"

Friday, September 23, 2016

When My Spying Ears Encouraged My Exhausted Heart

Today I am tired.  Like tired to my bones, need to prop my feet up, lay on the heating pad, bought my kids McDonald's and let them watch tv all evening kind of tired.  Today I packed lunches and dropped 4 kids off at school, dropped 9 boxes and 2 grocery sacks full of items at our church garage sale, taught 1st grade, fed 4 kids lunch, tried to put 3 toddlers down for a nap that apparently none of them wanted to take.  Priced items at the yard sale, changed 5 diapers, searched for more diapers because all 3 of them ran out, folded up and put away 3 pack-n-plays, cleaned poopy underwear, dealt with my daughter's dramatic meltdown about how sweaty she was while she waited for me to finish all my work so we could go home... (I love how a sweaty 4-year-old can't see the sweat dripping down her mom's face while she is looking right at her)... and I'm just tired. worn out.  exhausted.



One busy day is bearable.  Two, three... but busyness seems my constant state lately.  And it is mostly because 99% of the time I am surrounded by small children.  Usually 3 or 4 children, but always at least my own 2.  And I am usually on my own with them.  On Sundays you may see me with 16 toddlers.  Monday-Friday, again, I am with 1st graders or at recess duty with Kindergartners through 3rd graders.  And when I leave them, my own are once again with me until I make them lay down at night.  Always noise.  And mess.  And fighting.  And being selfish.  And hopefully hearing the Gospel I am trying to give them in my teaching them... Please?

I see adults in passing.  I have meaningful conversations with them even less.  Sometimes I fear I have forgotten how to have an adult conversation... like what do you say to someone who brushes their own teeth and doesn't need you to wipe their bottom?!  Sometimes I feel very much at a loss.  Like I am struggling to find a time to go get even a haircut... and I'm not sure what topics I am even qualified to discuss with the adult stylist once I actually get an appointment and go!

I am a busy woman.  I am so busy that I don't really ever have time to think about it.  I am also married to a busy man.  And we live in a busy world.  Between the two of us, we have 5 jobs, 4 of them being part-time of course (because we only have the same 24 hours everyone else does), and all the while we are parenting small children... very stubborn, spirited small children.  Fortunately, they get it from us, and most of the time we are stubborn and spirited enough to manage.  But right now is my husband's busiest time of year with his full-time job, and while we truly do bear one another's burdens emotionally... many times he just isn't available to help me physically carry the load I am to carry.  He says he married because I am strong.  And a lot of the time, I guess this strength he says I have allows me to get a lot done and mostly enjoy it all - all the moving, teaching, redirecting, reminding, disciplining, forgiving, explaining... most of the time I love being surrounded by these little people who are ignorant of how ugly the world can be... these little persons whose biggest problems are that their pb&j isn't cut the right way!  But by the end of the work day today, my strength was gone... burned up... blown in the wind.

And I was thinking about this today as I reflected on what the past weeks of my hubby's busy season has been like for me.  I don't blame him; this job that keeps him so busy and gone from home often is what feeds, clothes, and shelters me and my children.  I am thankful for his work, and for mine.  But today I was really thinking as I priced books at the yard sale... All I really want is to sit for hours and read.  I want quiet.  I want solitude.  I want to be left alone.  I don't want to be touched.  I don't want to buckle car seats.  I don't want to wipe butts, tie shoes, wipe snotty noses, explain once again why we don't hit our sibling, or tell a sobbing 4-year-old to take deep breaths and calm down while I cut the itchy tag out of her shirt.  And it isn't like wanting a billion dollars that no one you know personally has either, so you don't get so upset knowing it won't happen... instead there are people all around me who get to pee by themselves or go for a walk to clear their head... I mean, I could go for a walk, but answering 4,000 questions about why that dog only has 3 legs and why we can't hate mean people will only make more of a muddle!

I am so tired lately, that even the idea of spending time with my friends sounds like too much work.  And I am a very social person!  I am just so tired!

And when we are tired, our guards are down.  I know mine goes down quickly when I am running on fumes!  I start to get jealous of people who breezily mention they read a book, grew a garden (which I wouldn't want to do anyway), took an interesting class, shopped in a store for something other than groceries... many of the people I hear say these things are my friends who are just older enough than me to have grown kids... like they aren't old enough to be my parents, but definitely like an older sister-type... and sometimes I find myself wishing our lives away to get there to their status.  To have time to be a woman with interests and friends and brunches/lunches/coffees/day trips... I honestly don't have any hobbies anymore, unless you count having Netflix on in the background or occasionally reading the assigned book for my book club (which I haven't even started the one we are supposed to be reading now... I haven't even ordered it... I really haven't thought about it much either).

But tonight as I walked out of the yard sale that we were prepping, across the parking lot I barely overheard a conversation between 2 older moms.  Both have older-to-grown kids.  Both of them are dealing with having to watch their older kids make major life-decisions... and they are both worried as they watch their kids make the wrong choices.  At first I only thought of them, for them... I prayed a prayer of thanks to God that they can run into someone else who is going through something similar.  Then I thought about them in comparison with my struggle.  I started to think about how difficult it would be to watch your older kids - people you have literally poured most of your life's hours into leading, guiding, teaching - go against what you taught them, watch them believe lies, choose negative influences in their lives, permanently tie themselves to these negative influences, and sometimes even cut you completely off from their lives.  I'm sure it happens more than I know.

And I realized that this parenting job doesn't end.  Sure, it changes... morphs... appears different.  These ladies I saw conversing in the parking lot have more time on their hands now to pursue their interests and just to live life at a more enjoyable pace... plenty of time to stop in the middle of a parking lot and have a deep discussion without worrying about a short person getting hit by a car... but they are still mamas.  You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices.  I didn't listen to much of the conversation, but just the few small pieces I overheard, put together with what I know their families are struggling through right now... they still worry.  They still wish they could fix it all, and they can't.  They still wish they could smack some wisdom into their child's heart and mind so they may spare them of having to learn it all the hard way.

And then I looked down at my littles.  These 2 cuties that God has entrusted to me for this time... and I realized that it will always be a trade off.  Now, my time and energy is strapped.  Later it will also be my money.  After that, I'll get my time back, but I'll be older... and my interests may change by then.  And these little people will live elsewhere... maybe across town, maybe across the ocean.  And I will have to watch from the sidelines, whatever glimpses they allow me to have, every life-decision they make for themselves.  I won't be tying their shoes or packing their lunches or yelling at them to stop yelling in the car (yep, I have done that... several times)... but I'll still have to be trusting God with them every step of the way.

So today I am just too tired.  I won't always feel like this.  I'll probably wake up tomorrow ready to go 90 mph again, probably chasing them! But it is now that I have to learn contentment.  It is now I must rely upon the Lord for the strength I need.  Because in the blink of an eye, I'll wake up one day... and I'll have way more time to worry and mull over what only He has control over, anyway.  I won't always be so busy.  I won't always have to make so many in-the-moment decisions that affect other people.  But I will always have something that is bigger than me, and I will always be a flawed human whose reach doesn't go half as far as I would like.

So I go to sleep tonight.  And I rest.  For I serve a big God, the only true God.  I am inadequate.  He already knew that.  I won't get it right.  He is prepared for that.  But if He allows me to wake in the morning, He promises new mercies await me there... that He has a purpose for each day He wakes me... and that He will be my adequacy for me... He will overflow my cup.

"How deep the Father's love for us.  How vast beyond all measure..."

And knowing that... gives me the sweetest rest, not just for my body, but for my soul.