Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 days of learning to wait - here we go!

Once again, I had trouble making a decision. Do I try to do this "31 Days" thing with The Nester and other bloggers?  I've done a topic for a month on my own before, but I gave myself a lot of flexibility back then.  And what should I write about all month these days? 

Someone suggested motherhood.  Another suggested politics (but I feared losing "friends" with my passionate opinions). Nothing like waiting to the last minute, right? I wanted to write about something fun or something easy, yet I couldn't figure it out

But this month I am going to write on a topic that troubles me. Waiting.

I thought by thirty-one years of age, I would be pretty much done with waiting. Or I thought I would have at least figured it out by now.   Yet here I am. Instead of having my life all nicely packaged together within a white picket fence,I sit here waiting for some answers to hard questions, waiting for results, and waiting for whatever is next.  To be honest, I am so over waiting.  Apparently, God has other things in mind.

This month I am going to blog about learning to wait.  I'll share stories of seasons past, insights for the present and future, and probably a lot of questions, too. So please join me this month as I wander through the struggles, the blessings, and the process of learning to wait.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

James Taylor and changing prayers

I could write about the questions they asked, the family history they took, the physical features of my youngest that they observed, and the bloodwork that will take place in a couple of weeks to look at chromosomes. But to quote Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

(one of my favorite pictures of Bugaboo ever)

Instead I am listening to James Taylor. On my three hour drive home today I heard one of his songs, and one just wasn't enough. He sings, and I am transported to a short road trip to Peoria a decade ago with my best friend where we listened to his greatest hits cd over and over. Maybe that is why hearing You've Got a Friend on the radio gave me as much hope and comfort today as singing 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus three times in a row.
My music choices are all over the place today, much like my thoughts.

As much as I have hated the "It's probably a preemie thing," response we have been given for over a year, now that I heard the opposite today, a part of me wants to rewind. I want the naive "He will outgrow all of this and catch up in time" answer back. Instead I find myself standing on the shore of an ocean of unknown answers and even unknown questions. I stand here, wonder and wait. Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait is the rhythm of this tide.

My urgent prayers for healing seem hollow. Not pointless, but selfish somehow. It feels as if all the prayers for healing meant that who my son is without healing isn't enough. And that thought shatters me.

How do I pray for him now? Is it even appropriate any more to pray for healing? Because it feels slimy tonight. What do I pray? I'm unsure.

So I find myself praying for me. For strength  and wisdom. For grace and a sense of humor. For
divine appointments. For things I don't even know to ask for or hope for. And for now I keep singing the hymns I know by heart. I sing of God's faithfulness mixed right in with a medley of James Taylor's greatest hits.

linking up with Emily's imperfect prose community again this week

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the overwhelming unknowns

I think I might know what is causing Bugaboo's developmental delays.
I happened to get a book at the library, and something stuck out to me in the story combined with something our physical therapist mentioned yesterday.
And of course I googled. Which was helpful and yet not so helpful.

But I'm not quite ready to tell anyone what I am thinking. Just in case I am wrong.... or right.
The geneticist is less than two days away. And I am overwhelmed this afternoon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Money Shot Monday - the power of clean sheets

I've been a bit stressed lately. Bugaboo's geneticist appointment this upcoming Thursday has my stomach in knots. My mind and heart have been up and down. I'm crying easily. On Saturday, on a Sonic run for corndogs, The Hubs said the expression on my face looked softer than it had the day before and that I was pretty. This morning, fter a weekend of avoiding house work, I tackled a bunch while Bubby was at preschool. After I picked him up, the boys and I put clean sheets on the bed. There are few things as wonderful as clean sheets.

What should have taken two minutes evolved into a rousing round of peek-a-boo with my youngest, teaching my oldest how to make the bed (unsuccessfully), and a lot of bouncing around on the bed. The only thing better than the smell of the dryer sheet lingering on the linens were the squeals from my boys. My bed is wrinkly, but my priorities are in order.

We spent the rest of the day eating grapes and quesadillas. I played "Our God" by request several times, which Bubby has retitled "The Power Song," while his little heart burst out in song, "Our God is hea-wer, awesome in POWER, Our God! Our God!" We ended the day with games of chase and pillow fights, and I don't remember I have felt so productive yet so carefree concurrently.

It was the best Monday we've had around here in awhile, and I have hope in my heart for Thursday.

linking up with Money Shot Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday sillies and sweet stuff

  • There comes a point when every small child is fascinated with belly buttons. Bugaboo has discovered how delightful his is.  This is one of about six body parts he can locate semi-consistently.  He has also discovered that Mommy has a belly button. However, when he finds mine, he scrunches up his face and is not delighted at all.  Not sure how I should take that.
  • "Let's walk, G. Let's try. Couple more steps!" Bubby has started "helping" me work with Bugaboo. It involves C holding G's hand or walking behind him holding onto G's shirt like he sees us do, though sometimes it looks like he might choke Bugaboo as he helps.
  • The weighted blanket we are trying for Bugaboo is working pretty well most naptimes/bedtimes. Even on the times it doesn't work perfectly, it is still an improvement over what we had been dealing with to get Bugaboo to sleep. My arm is very thankful for not feeling like it is going to fall off every night.

  • Bubby talking like an adult, "Thank you. I 'preciate it."
  • (In response to a question of if he would like something): "Yes, that would be fine."
  • Bugaboo is starting to be able to balance while standing and not holding on for several seconds. The trick is to trick him into doing it. If he realizes he is practicing, he won't cooperate.
  • Me (as he is walking to The Hubs' office): What are you doing?
     Bubby: I'm just going to get my swords. (comes out with an umbrella and a vacuum attachment)

  • Out of the blue conversation with Bubby as we were putting on shoes for preschool one morning:
    C: Mama, can we go to Disneyland again?
    Me: Not today.
    C: Maybe on Saturday.
    Me: No. Maybe when you are five or six.
    C: It's too far away.

Monday, September 17, 2012

my future self writes a letter

Last week I wrote a letter from my present self to my teenage self, along with many others that linked up with Emily.  I found myself thinking, as I was reading the letters by other ladies, that some of their advice to their teenage-selves was applicable today. What would it be like if future-me could come encourage present tired-mommy-me? Sometimes you have to be the one to tell yourself the things you need to hear. Today was that day.

Dear Amanda2012,

I see you.

You are the one wearing jeans smeared with peanut butter and a t-shirt with slobber marks, You washed your hair yesterday, and you shaved your legs last week. You are counting the minutes till bedtime because Bubby didn't nap today. You're putting both boys to bed early because that is as close to a vacation is you are going to get for awhile.  I see you, sweet mama. 

Some days you find yourself thinking that life was supposed to be different. Easier, probably, because you've done a, b and c, and therefore x, y, and z should follow.  You are wondering how you can carry a twenty-seven pound child around throughout the day and still be at your heaviest. You are dealing with the perfect storm of Bugaboo's molars coming in, and Bubby deciding this will be the week he boycotts pee-peeing in the potty. The Hubs started nursing school, and he is still counseling wherever it fits.

I see you.

Even though I am you several years down the road, I can't tell you how it will all work out. I can't tell you when Bugaboo will start walking or talking. I can't tell you when Bubby will stop holding his poop until bedtime. I can't even tell you when you'll finally get out of the house you never thought you'd be living in for seven years.  Every single situation in life you are questioning right now, big or small, is building your faith. I know you don't want to hear that, but it's true. Instead I will come alongside you and tell you this.

You love those boys like nobody else could. Keep it up. It matters. Every sacrifice, every silly moment, every song matters because what they need to know about life and God, themselves and the world they are learning from you and The Hubs. Yes, even now. Especially now.  Treasure the moments as much as you can.

Some days are hard, so give yourself (and them) some grace with the times you'd rather not treasure.  Your boys won't always want to snuggle on the couch with you and their sippy cups first thing in the morning. They will get owies that don't go away with a kiss and a prayer.  They won't always want to "help" you with the laundry or the sweeping. They will get bigger faster than you ever think that they will.

Store in your heart the way Bugaboo grabs your mouth, the way he loves to be zubba-ed, the way he takes awkward steps behind the push toy, the way he claps to music, and the way he lights up when big brother walks in the room.  Make sure to tuck away the way Bubby dances with his little guitar, the way he calls out, "S-T-O-P- STOP!" at intersections, the way he calls his stuffed animals his babies, the way he holds your hand after preschool, and the way he comes up with the funniest and most random things to talk about. (For instance, today's topic was Disneyland.)  Find a way to record their laughs every month because that is the sound you will miss most. Big, innocent belly laughs from both of your boys.

You are not a perfect mother, but you are perfect for them. There will come a day when you are not the same kind of tired that you are currently.  Honestly, that day is not coming anytime soon.  Until then remember, you are not a perfect mother. They do not expect you to be. The Hubs doesn't expect you to be. So stop putting such stress on yourself that you will screw them up.  You won't. Some days it is okay to put in the second Veggie Tale DVD. Seriously. God is with you in every moment. He will give you the strength you need when you need it the most.    Keep surrounding yourself with the people who love and encourage you, with those who love your kids. I know you need to stop reading this and take care of that teething little boy now.  Hang in there, friend. You've got this.


linking up with my other favorite Emily blogger for imperfect prose

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Noah, absolute truth, and 21st century Pharisees

Sunday afternoon rides home from church are often my favorite. (Sunday mornings after a frazzled start, not always as pleasant.) Sometimes Bubby talks about his lessons, songs, friends.  Other times The Hubs and I discuss the sermon or the conversation in our Common Ground class.  Today our conversation evolved from the sermon topic to thoughts about truth (absolute and relative) and Pharisees.

Our young adult pastor spoke on Noah today, and I learned something new.  It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. So the other people on earth had 120 years to decide to join Noah under God's grace and protection in the ark.  But they did not make that choice. I think I always assumed God had judged Noah's contemporaries pretty quickly, and I had struggled with the judgment vs. grace aspect of God. This gave me a glimpse at a different facet of God.  I appreciated that our pastor gave me the whole picture of the Noah account - the grace and the judgment of God, as well as the story of Noah's faith.

That discussion led The Hubs and me to converse about how to tell people truth (whether that be about religion or money or politics or anything even lighter than that).  I came to the conclusion that we are supposed to tell all people truth, but people who have the Holy Spirit are to be held to a higher standard because without Him a person cannot really know truth.  We live in an era of relative truth, and I think that is mostly because so many people are living without the Author of Truth in their lives.  How can one believe there is absolute truth about anything if they do not understand The Truth?  I think any truth anyone finds apart from God (and it is possible because all truth is God's truth) is by luck or His grace or some combo.

We then started talking about accountability.  If a non-believer does something that is hurtful, destructive, or just ill-informed, yes we need to say something because love does confront. However, we should not be surprised (or even really offended) if they do not see things our way or change.  But what about the believers, those who have the Holy Spirit in them but reject truth and reject accountability?  What about the believers who just want a kumbaya warm fuzzy feeling all of the time, especially when advocating those feelings makes life easier for them or serves them in some way? 

I believe we are called to confront them in love, and sometimes love is tough. Sometimes love does not tell you the things you want to hear, but instead it tells you the things you need to hear.  As we listen to the Holy Spirit, we are able to discern how He wants us to handle our brothers and sisters. And sometimes the Church does not understand why it can't be all warm and fuzzy all of the time. Jesus was gentle with truth seekers (think woman at the well, centurion, etc) , but He was pretty harsh with truth distorters (Pharisees). Sometimes truth tellers are quickly mislabeled  hypocrites and Pharisees.

Pharisees in Jesus' day were religious leaders who distorted the Law for their own glory - for power, for prestige, for what they thought would gain them brownie points with God. They took things that were true and good, and twisted it for legalistic purposes. Today we always use the term legalistic and Pharisee interchangeably.  However, I think today our Pharisees are not usually legalistic.  I think a 21st century Pharisee distorts God's word for his/her own glory - by watering it down - by picking and choosing what makes it pleasant for others to hear rather than preaching the whole Truth.

The first century Pharisee manipulated God's Word and created hindrances for people trying to find Him.  Today's Pharisee manipulates God's Word and creates an atmosphere in which people needing a relationship with God are told they can do what they want without consequences. Both are destructive to the delivery of the Gospel.

As a Christian wrestling with the ideas of truth, grace, sin, love, and justice, I am keeping this in mind:
  • We are to be loving and helpful to truth seekers - to those who still need to accept Jesus as the Way, the truth, the life.
  • We are to be loving yet persistent to truth distorters (which can mean tough love and accountablity). Jesus didn't ignore the religious leaders of His day when they manipulated the Word of God.
  • And ultimately, we are to BE loving truth tellers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

a letter to my fifteen year old self

joining with Emily and others as we write to our high school selves.

Dear Me,

I see you there in your American Eagle jeans purchased with baby-sitting money. You are beautiful, little girl.  I know what you're doing as you read that - you're shrugging your shoulder and saying, "Eh. You have to say that because your my mom."  Well, I'm not your mom.  I'm you sixteen years in the future.
I know you worry about the way you look, the way you walk, the way the only time a boy talks to you is when he wants to copy your Spanish or geometry homework.  It's not an easy time in life to be the smart girl.  I know you wonder about your changing friendships, as everyone has found some sort of group. Band kids. Popular kids. The alterna-teens.  I know you are tired of thinking nobody notices and that teachers do not care.  Hang on, it's going to get better. Not high school specifically, but this time in your life.

This is the year you are going to meet Jesus.  For real. You are going to start going to a youth group with that girl in your English class.  You are looking for something - for a lot of things -and this is going to be the beginning of finding it.  He is going to change your life.  I know you are mad at God for some things, but there's a wonderful group of people at Homewood E.Free church just waiting to love and disciple you.  The rest of your high school years will still suck at school - you will eventually have enough and find an alternative.  But from the summer of 1996 on you are going to make some friends who know your issues but love you anyway.

You'll spend Monday nights with them playing Sardines and avoiding playing volleyball. You'll spend Sunday mornings on the back pew and then transition to a pew closer to the front.

I'd like to tell you to worry less about your looks and the boys who aren't calling, but I know you won't listen. I want to tell you to take Latin instead of choir, but it's a little late for that.  You are going to survive high school, my dear, and you are even going to make some wonderful memories along the way.  And that college you said you would never go to - yeah, you end up there and love it. But that's another letter that I've already sent you.

You are exactly who you are supposed to be, Amanda. And the people who are worth your time accept you for that and love you no matter what. Try not to worry about the rest.

Your thirty-one year old self

graceful for young women

(For a letter from my future-self to my present-self, go here.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I am WOMAN, and I vote

Tonight I saw a bumper sticker, I am WOMAN, and I VOTE.

Congratulations, woman. I am woman, too, and I vote. In every election - local or national. And I'm assuming by the candidate your other bumper sticker was endorsing that my vote cancels out your vote.

Are you implying that if I don't vote for your party or their ideals that I am less than a woman?  That seems like name-calling, attacking another woman. That  doesn't seem like a very liberated thing to do.  For someone who claims to be pro-choice, you don't seem to like my choices of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

See I'm a miscarriage survivor.  I have known no other heartache like that loss, and honey, I've had some pretty big heartache in my life.  I know that baby, even at just nine weeks gestation, had a life and a soul. And no man or woman can convince me otherwise.

You know what else?  My firstborn was born 10 1/2 weeks early.  Under the people you vote for, I could have killed him if he hadn't decided to arrive ahead of schedule.  He was just over three pounds and was 16 1/2 inches long.  He was skin and bones - looked like an alien-ish old man.  He is three years old now, and he is a funny, smart, beautiful little boy. And you want me to believe that he wasn't a human with some rights at that point had he stayed in my uterus just a little longer?

But here's the thing, woman.

My hoo-ha doesn't determine how I vote or who I vote for. My brain and my conscience do.

I vote for more than just free birth control pills, and I even vote for "more" than just the life/reproductive issues stuff.

I vote for religious freedom for all, not just select groups.

I vote for the government to get out of the way as much as possible so that small businesses and big businesses can create jobs for people.

I vote for things that will allow private organizations and charities to do the work they were intended to do, rather than burdening the tax payer with it all.

I vote for parent accountability just as much as teacher accountability - and believe me I know both need it.

Believe it or not, I vote for things that will allow people to do pretty much what they want to do as long as they aren't hurting others (that's my libertarian side).

I vote for government accountability and term limits and balanced budgets and stopping spending because I want a great country for my boys to inherit.

I vote for people who want to keep me safe rather than play the popularity game on late night tv.

You see, fellow female, I am WOMAN, and I VOTE, TOO!

Monday, September 10, 2012

all the way my Savior leads me

We have an orthotics appointment early in the morning. Seems like this month is another busy month for Bugaboo.  In many ways this is the least stressful of the appointments.  He will get some sort of insert or brace for his foot or leg most likely. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. But I can't stop the tears tonight as I sit and think about it.

Perhaps I am a bit emotional because our genetics appointment that was supposed to be here in town on Friday- the one we have been waiting for for months - got cancelled at the end of last week.  The scheduler didn't know if they could fit him in even in October. So in a couple of weeks I will make the three hour drive to University of Missouri Hospital with Bugaboo.

It gets lonely - this road of medical appointments, paperwork and follow-ups, questions without answers. It kills me to not have any answers. He is 21 months old, and he is developmentally 10-12 months old. So far we have no reason for this. Neither do the experts. It gets frustrating seeing the gap between what my son should be able to do and what he can do get wider, even though he has made progress. He has no label, so I don't fit into any already established support group. Even just looking at him one can't tell that he has developmental issues.

Sometimes I grow weary, and even embarrassed, of asking for prayer so often. Sometimes I wonder if people are thinking, "Here she goes again. What's wrong with her kid anyway?" But I don't know where else to turn, and I will never stop fighting for my kids - in the physical and the spiritual realm. 

We have a great support system - our families are not local. Yet there are people in this season of our life who love our boys, and for that I am thankful.  I will rest tonight remembering that Jesus has a plan for my children. I will day by day. moment by moment, give Him my concerns. He loves them more than I can even fathom. And He loves me that much, too.

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

the weekend I stopped judging beautiful people

The video promo spoke of princesses and beauty and featured a gorgeous woman. I somewhat begrudgingly signed up for retreat because my friend was so excited about it. I didn't want to hear about beauty, especially from a beautiful woman.

Several times I thought about backing out. I had reasons - the money, my friend moved, I wasn't sure who was going, the weather.  But I went.

The speaker was just as beautiful as she walked to get the microphone as she was on screen. I found myself thinking, There is no way she is going to teach me anything. Here comes another message that will say, "God thinks you're beautiful. Blah blah blah."  If I am honest, I will tell you that I have had issues with beautiful women for as long as I can remember.  I thought I would probably just go through the motions this retreat.  God had other ideas, and He tore down my preconceived ideas.

Jennifer Beckham was smart and articulate, funny and sincere, prepared but Spirit-led.  To my relief very little time was spent on beauty - or at least in the way I thought it would be. Instead she spoke on wounds and pain and scars. She spoke on healing in ways I had never heard before.  My tears flowed easily over the two days, and new concepts resonated and stuck deep within my soul. Instead of the usual "camp/retreat" high I think I've experienced since high school, I came home with resolve, purpose, peace, and an action plan. 

In the last twenty-four hours post-retreat, I have already had to apply some of the things I've learned. The incredible insight just from those small-scale experiences alone are reason enough for me to know that I was supposed to be at that retreat, and the enemy had tried to use my preconceived notions about the theme and the speaker to keep me away. I'm sure in the coming days, I will be using this blog to process and share some more. Tonight, however, I just repent of prejudging something/someone and say thank You, God for what You are doing.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

when the messiness of motherhood becomes a holy moment

Tonight after bedtime I was changing Bubby's pull-up. 

(He is ninety-eight percent potty-trained. However, he holds his poop until he is in a pull-up at bedtime. But this isn't about potty-training.)

I was doing what needed to be done, and he kept saying, "I pooped in my pull-up."
"I know, Bubby. It's okay. I love you."
"I pooped, Mommy."
"I know. Let's try to go in the potty next time."
"Maybe tomorrow. I pooped, Mommy."
"I know. It's okay. I love you."

And in that stinky, messy moment I still felt overwhelming love for my three year old. Yes, I wish he would get over his fear of pooping on the toilet. Yes, I am so over this phase of cleaning up the mess. But I love him more than I hate the mess.

In that moment, God whispered to me the same thing.

I love you more than I hate your mess.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

please don't treat me like I'm an idiot (from a gifted kid as an adult)

Sometimes it seems when one chooses to be a stay-at-home mom, other professionals treat her like an idiot. So much for progress and the women's liberation movement. Today a (female) medical professional felt the need to explain to me what "modeling to your child" is. 

Yes, thank you, Doctor. I could actually write a book on modeling to children. I realize that it is when you show a child what he/she should do. I know you are not implying that I need to walk down a runway and get my picture taken.

But I did not say that. I just nodded and smiled politely, wishing I could whip out my degrees for her to see.  I am now considering attaching my test scores every time I am at a medical appointment for either of my children. They will have access to exams ranging from my grade school years of ITBS to my ISLLC/SLLA exam, which I rocked, I might add.  I will also add the following information:

I chose to go to a small Christian school.
I chose to go into the field of education.
I choose each day to be a stay-at-home mom.
I could have done something else.
I could do something else.
Instead, for this season and for a variety of reasons, I am in this role.
Most days I love it.
And I rock at it, too. 
But please do not treat me like an uneducated buffoon.

I blame my years in self-contained gifted classes for my knee-jerk reaction of wanting to prove how smart I am to the world.  Thanks for letting me vent.

sixth grade me