Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Aksel's Birth Story

Somedays I can't believe I haven't written this down yet and then somedays I remember I now have three children and I haven't gone to the bathroom in the last 12 hours.  So, before my last three brain cells are used in the attempt to remember something even further back than Aksel's birth, I thought I would write it down here.

On Saturday, May 6th, two days before my due date, Noah and I were deciding whether or not he should preach the next day because, who knows, I could be in labor.  Not to mention, I had made sure to move as much furniture as possible on that day to help move things along, but as we sat in our living room that night, it had made no difference.  So we decided he should preach the next day and that was that.

Then, of course, beginning at 6 am on Sunday, May 7th, I was having contractions I couldn't sleep through.  All I could think was, "Really?  You couldn't wait a few hours?"  So as we began rushing around trying to make substitute plans, I called my parents and said I was in labor and if they wanted to head down to the cities after church that day, that would be wonderful.  Then, I called the midwife on call and to much rejoicing, it was my midwife I'd seen a handful of times, her name is Valor.  I told her my contractions were 7 minutes apart and didn't change if I stood or laid down or anything.  She said "Great!  Let's have a baby!  Come in when the contractions are five minutes apart."

I started packing my hospital bag (don't judge, third baby) and about five minutes later my phone rang, it was the hospital.  I answered it and Valor sounded just defeated.  She proceeded to tell me that Woodwinds Hospital (where I had planned on delivering) was "in divert."  Essentially that meant the hospital was understaffed and was sending all Labor & Delivery patients to different hospitals in the same system.  I was pretty heartbroken, so I prayed and asked God to slow down my contractions enough to keep labor at bay until they could discharge a few patients.  Then, I texted my sisters and asked them to pray for the same thing.  And within 30 minutes my contractions were 12-13 minutes apart.

So, I told Noah to go to church and preach and take the boys with him.  I stayed home while he preached, keeping his phone on him.  I laid down on the couch an watched a movie and when the clock hit 11am and I knew that Noah could be home anytime after that, I decided to get moving.  I put on some 90s hip-hop and danced like a fool while cleaning my living room, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and wiping down countertops and tables.  I could feel the contractions start to pick up.  Noah brought home lunch and everyone ate and took naps, even myself.  When I couldn't sleep anymore through the contractions, I called Valor and found out Woodwinds was open but I should probably get in before they went into divert again.

So, I took a shower while Noah got the boys ready and when everything was packed we headed over to our friends', the Kleinjungs, where we dropped off Soren and Jude to play with their good friends until my parents got there to pick them up.  From there we headed to Woodwinds with a necessary pit stop at Starbucks because even in labor; but first, coffee.
So there I was, showered, napped and caffeinated, ready to meet our son. We checked in, got our room and met our nurse, Katie #1.  I call her that because over the next 48 hours we would have three nurses named Katie.  By this time it was about 4pm and my midwife, Valor, had just finished a delivery and was in the middle of "a really extensive repair." Ouch.

It was all good, I was drinking an iced latte and waiting to get checked.  When Katie found out that Valor wasn't going to be in anytime soon she checked me around 5 pm.  She then admitted she wasn't yet very good at determining how far along laboring moms were and asked if it was OK if she had a more seasoned nurse check me.  I said that was fine and the next nurse came in, Katie said she thought I was at a four.  The older nurse looked at her and said, "Are you crazy?  8 and 80."  Woohoo!  I was well on my way.  That's when I told them, my plan was to try do this with just the nitrous oxide.

So they got the nitrous set up and we met Katie #2, who introduced herself with a Tommy Boy quote and we knew she was the nurse for us. Over the next hour I attempted to get the rhythm down to make the nitrous effective against the stronger contractions and it just wasn't working.  And then the fear started in.  I'd had an epidural with Soren and it wasn't awesome.  I didn't have any drugs with Jude and I called my sister afterward to have her remind me that it was truly awful.  I didn't know what I was going to do.

So I asked Katie (#2) to step out of the room and I looked up at Noah and said "I want the epidural.  Sara (a good friend who had just delivered at the same hospital) told me they gave her a really light one that just took the edge off."  He, obviously, said absolutely and I told him I needed one more thing, I needed him to step up to the birth shamers who were going to tell me I failed because post-partum me would just cry in a heap without an ounce of strength to stick up for myself.  He gave me an amazing smile because asking my husband to fiercely defend the people he loves is like asking a fish to swim, it's just a part of who he is.

So we were set.  Nurse Katie kicked butt getting my IV in and pumped a liter of fluid into my body with astonishing rapidity.  Then Dr. Wendell came in and was spectacular and talked me through everything, unlike my anesthesiologist with Soren who was apparently annoyed that I had the nerve to be in labor at 3am (I'm looking at you Craig from Great Falls, MT).  He gave me an epidural that left me mostly in control of my feet and legs and took the edge off perfectly.  I got the epidural at 8:15, they broke my water at 8:30, we called to say goodnight to our boys at 8:45 and at 9 I told my midwife I needed to push.

I was in a state I had never before experienced, I was alert, aware of my body and ready to go.  I was completely present so when I started pushing at 9:05, I held Noah's hand and 7 or 8 pushes later, I smiled and I'm pretty sure yelled with glee "he's here!"  I gazed up at Noah with total excitement as my midwife placed Aksel on my chest and I was enraptured.  I had never felt anything like that before.  I wasn't tired, I wasn't shaking in agony, I was simply in the moment with my new son and I was experiencing every second of it.  I loved it.  It was perfect.  It was totally me.

Aksel started nursing right away and was a total champ.  I'm sure he cried but all I can remember is just being so excited.  He just stayed on my chest and after a while I handed him over to Noah while I got stitched up.  Everything was lovely.   He was 7lbs. 3 oz, and 19 in making him the smallest of our boys for sure.  And wow, was he ever a good snuggler.
After about an hour or so, Katie helped me get up and go to the bathroom and get in the huge soaking tub in our bathroom.  I legitimately fell asleep for a few minutes in the warmth of the water and the lavender salts.  However, I woke up to Katie telling me I needed to get up because it was clear my bleeding hadn't subsided.

I got back into bed and she immediately hooked a bag of pitocin up to my IV and set the pump to whatever the medical term for "really fast" is.  When the bag was in, she said to me, "most nurses would do one bag and wait but if you were my sister I'd want them to do two, so I'm going to do two."  She was fantastic.

Eventually the bleeding stopped, I got some food in me and we got to the business of attempting sleep.  Honestly, the next 36 hours in the hospital were just marked with amazing things, like having my parents bring the boys to meet Aksel, and meeting great people, and also with things I can't even remember.  I don't think I could've imagined anything sweeter than when Jude got to hold Aksel for the first time and he launched into "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," a story he had told Aksel nearly 100 times while he was in my belly and now he could tell him in real life.  Also, the when my dad got to hold Aksel for the first time, that was really special because my dad and Aksel share a middle name, Luther. 
Also, our third nurse Katie ended up being a friend of a friend from Bluewater and we got to make a really fun Minnesota connection. 

Eventually we were discharged by a nurse whose son is the pitcher for the UMC baseball team and we got to go home to a quiet house because my parents had taken Soren and Jude to Crookston for a few days, which was and absolutely incredible gift. 

It's now nearly 8 months later and I know I have forgotten some details but somethings I will never forget and one of them will always be the amazing way God answered prayer after prayer that day and our baby boy came into the world, healthy, happy and full of love.

Friday, November 10, 2017

They Can't All Be "Teachable Moments"

Life with three boys is rarely dull.  Monotonous?  Yes.  Dull?  No.
As a work-at-home mom, I realize that my life is crazy blessed.  I have a business (I take pictures, do you need pictures taken?  Let me take your picture!) that allows me some flexibility to be home during the day with my kids and work while they are having "quiet time" or, more realistically, are being parented by PBS Kids. (Lord Jesus, bless public television, may it never be defunded.) Also, I have a husband who, as a pastor, has a pretty flexible schedule and as luck might have it, loves our kids in the "I don't call it 'babysitting' when I am parenting" woke-dad kind of way.
I am able to do things like, have my kids help when I am baking and teach them about why bread rises and why licking the chicken before it is cooked is going to make you sick and why licking the spoon and putting it back in the bowl is just disgusting.  I let them vacuum the floors with a little carpet sweeper when they spill their cereal and we do our best to make sure the legos are picked up every night before bed.  *That last part is mainly so I don't step on them when I inevitably take my 3-year-old back to bed after he wants to "snuggle." (Read: Kick us repeatedly in the ribs with his sharp toenails) 

Life is full of teachable moments and that's the main duty of a parent, right?  We are unconditionally loving teachers who praise the likes of other people who choose to be teachers so we can take a break from teaching for a few hours each day.  (If you're the kind of parent who doesn't thank the universe for teachers, stop it, you're making the rest of us look bad.)

We teach them how to say please and thank you, how to fold clothes and which drawers are for pants and which are for shirts.  We teach them how to tie their shoes and how to tell us when they have to poop.  We point out letters on a stop sign and then inevitably get honked at for spending too much time at the stop sign because our kids are learning.
But in the day to day onslaught of knowledge and hand-washing and realizing that Ready Jet Go has taught my kids more about the solar system than I know, there is one thing we need to remember: They can't all be teachable moments.

There will always be times when we need to get. stuff. done.

Sometimes the toys just need to get off the floor.  Sometimes the clothes just need to be folded correctly in under fourteen minutes because eventually, we will have to go out in public and should be dressed for such a function.  Sometimes we need to make dinner without any help because seven teaspoons of paprika is just too much and last time the cap fell off the spice jar and everything tasted .... interesting. 

So, yes, there are times I clean my boys' room because I swear their socks came in pairs and Lord help me if I have to buy another ten pack just to send them to school in matching socks.  (I am not the mismatched sock mom, I tried, I can't.) . There are times I relegate the teaching to ABC Mouse so that I can clean the stovetop since the other day there was so much dried food on our stove, my husband sliced open his finger trying to wipe it off, true story.

I will always advocate for teaching them how to make life happen for themselves, but one lesson they also need to learn is that moms get stuff done.  Eventually, they will be granted hindsight and they will realize how much they learned while emptying the dishwasher or stirring the soup or separating the toys into their bins.  The gratitude won't be immediate but hopefully, the impression will be lasting. 

Do we do it all for them?  Nope.  Do we show them the awe and wonder that is a mom rage-cleaning her house in preparation for anyone else to cross the threshold, inevitably putting the fear of God into their aim while they pee?  Yes, yes we do.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Stuff of Nightmares

Not long after I found out I was pregnant with my first son something started happening to me every night that made me avoid the respite of my bed. 
I had nightmares.

Now, these weren't "bad dreams" and they weren't unfounded stories of monsters beneath bed frames.  They were truly and disgustingly terrifying.  Every night I would close my eyes and pray that I wouldn't dream.  I would beg God to let my heartburn wake me up enough that I wouldn't fall into dream sleep.  With each subsequent pregnancy, I would fall asleep only to watch my children die in front of me.  I would stand helpless as scenes played out in which my husband left, or drove off with our kids, or drowned just out of my reach.  And with each startled wake, I would be lying next to my sleeping husband, overwhelmed with the emotion of his death or the deaths of our children and I would weep because it wasn't real but it still hurt.

Throughout the days, small triggers would send images of those dreams hurtling back into my life and it was nearly paralyzing.  It came to the point where, with bleary eyes and an exhausted body, I would type out emails asking people to pray that I could sleep without fear.  And they did.  Without question, they saw that I was hurting and offered help in any way they could.  With sincere hearts they volunteered to watch my kids so I could take a nap, they offered prayers and wise counsel and they even offered to pay for any type of counseling I needed in order to no longer fear something as blissful as sleep.

I can't tell you that those people did those things because studies had shown the effects of pregnancy on dream life.  I doubt any of them had postulated any major theories or written dissertations on the realities of sleep deprivation and perceptions of fear, real or imagined, in the first and second trimesters of human gestation.  I know that no one I asked for help questioned my intentions, asked why I didn't just "get over it," or assumed I was overreacting.  They just helped because they loved me and I was afraid.

Here's the thing; at no point would any of those dreams killed me.  I would always wake up and those tragedies would be erased into firing neurons only I could recall.  But nevertheless, I had helpers, people desperate to see me well and living free from the terror of the ordinary.


Up until this point, you read a story in which your friend, or a woman you've heard of maybe once, had a really horrible side effect to pregnancy and you had empathy for me.  But now, if you are someone who defends a citizen's right to own assault rifles your empathy is gone for the more than 600 victims of one man with an arsenal.


Let that number sink in.  That is more than the population of my mom's hometown.  If the news headlines read "Man shoots every member of small Minnesota town" you might think of it differently.  But instead people are honestly saying it wasn't as big of a deal because the people were at a concert of someone they didn't like, or they were in Vegas which is notorious for being "sinful" or because they weren't properly armed to take on a sniper at a country music concert.

ENOUGH.  Lord have mercy on us, sinners by lethargy, dedicated to placing the blame on anything other than our own failings to those around us who were literally dying and we said "Sorry, there is nothing we can do" because doing something meant resisting harder than we ever had before. 

In the Old Testament sacrifices were necessary for sins of omission.  The kind of thing where you should have done the right thing but instead you did nothing.  The only way back to righteousness was a sacrifice of something that cost you dearly and the physical effort to stand in front of one who might intercede for you.  And here we are, praying for justice to be done in hopes that the blood of the nearly 1,000 mass shooting victims we don't know personally is enough for us to walk away and be declared innocent again.

It isn't and it won't be.

My son's pre-school has protocols for shootings.  If that isn't fear in the ordinary I don't know what is.  He shouldn't have to have an armed guard in order to learn how to write his name.
Assault rifles weren't owned by the well-regulated militias of the 1780s.  They weren't fathomed by Thomas Jefferson so either stop quoting the founding fathers or start believing that John Adams was psychic.

Common sense gun control doesn't mean no guns, in the same way portion control doesn't mean no food, it just means you won't die from high cholesterol.  Let's stop saying gun control won't work or we can't do it.  We just don't want to resist that hard, it's too hard, it hurts too much, there are no funny memes and it makes us uncomfortable. 

You know what else is apparently uncomfortable?  Getting shot by a sniper whose right to own that gun is prized above the rights of the people below him to live.

We need to mourn, we need to beg for mercy and then we must answer for our inaction with reform and repentance.  We need to do better.

Friday, July 28, 2017

On Scripts and Sacred Ground

When the national news started picking up the story surrounding the Standing Rock reservation and its people protesting the building of a pipeline, the idea of sacred spaces and hallowed ground became mainstream language.  What was strange to me was the number of Evangelical Christians who balked at the idea that a group of people could be so tied to a piece of land for religious reasons.

The odd thing was, these were many of the same people who have made multiple ventures with their churches to "The Holy Land."  They walked the Via Dolorosa.  They sat on the Mount of Olives, stood on the hillside cathedral that was the church at Ephesus and stepped foot in the Jordan River where Jesus Christ was baptized.  They have wept at tombs which are said to hold the bodies of the saints and all because here was ground that was irrevocably tied to their story.

What is more, the Scriptures are littered with the concept of Holy Ground.  From Moses and the burning bush to the inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies to the ultimate goal of a "promised land" that was to be God's Kingdom on earth.

So why would we, a people so deeply rooted in the sacredness of space, be so opposed to someone else recognizing the legitimacy of higher power at work within the very earth we stand on?  Truthfully I'd love to say that it was just a misunderstanding and Evangelicals just like good business, but that's not what's going on.  More than anything, I believe we have lost the reverence of dominion in exchange for the profitable business of domination, forgoing all things sacred on this earth because "When we die, hallelujah by and by, we'll fly away."

In that short-sighted transaction we forgot that God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.  The world is not some ramshackle building in the hood where we can throw bottles through the remaining windows and spray paint "We were here" as some sort of misguided evangelism vandals before condemning the house to build newer luxury homes for a select, gentrified few.  God is in the business of remaking the world, yes, bringing back to whole fruition and flourishing, but we are called to be stewards of what He started so when he returns to finish it he can look upon us and say "well done, good and faithful servant, welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven."

Moreover, we all have holy places in our lives that we don't define as sacred until they are taken away.  As Wendell Berry says "There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places."  Think back to the places in your life that helped shape you and form you and bring joy to your life.  Are they still there?  Are they still sacred?
My family has one of those places, Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp.  It's a place that when I smell the air and feel the breeze off the lake, a level of worry regarding the world around me lifts away.  It's a place where I can swim in the waters where myself and my siblings were all baptized and renew my faith in myself or humanity or the Creator of all of it with each and every drop of water drying in the sun.  My family's story is irrevocably tied to the place of Bluewater and as such it is a place that if an oil company told us they had to build a pipeline beneath our pristine lake, my siblings and I would be the first to stand on that beach, linking arms and saying "you'll have to go through us first."

But there is something else I've found about Holy places; first, they are everywhere.  The divinity of the Holy Spirit indwelling in humanity makes any space we dwell a place that can reflect the image and transcendence of God Almighty.  Second, they have the ability to tear down the things, tangible and non, that might aim to desecrate them.

Despite having a Holy space such as Bluewater where I feel connected and whole most of the time, there is one thing that always seeks to destroy the sanctity of this place.  That thing is the pervasiveness of one relentless script.  A few years ago when I was introduced to the concept of scripts, the things we play over and over in our heads that dominate our perception of what is happening around us, a lightbulb came on in my head and I have tried my hardest to keep that light on, revealing truth and stamping out darkness.  My entire life I have had one prevailing script in my head that has too often won out, spoiling the very good moments it was created to destroy.  That script is this - "I do not fit into my immediate (siblings/parents) family and they would function just fine without me."

First off, let me assure you that no one in my family has ever even insinuated this to me and I know this script is a lie.  But, as I'm sure you know, a lie repeated enough times begins to feel awfully truthful.  I don't remember a time where this script has not tried to force its way through into every family interaction I have had in my life.  By grace and hard work I have been able to point it out and silence it when I see it coming.  But this year it made its way into some place sacred, it came to Bluewater.

Noah, the boys and I were able to come to family camp this summer for the first time in seven years where we didn't have to take an airplane.  It was glorious to be able to pack up the car and drive up in the morning and get there before the swimming area opened for the day.  But camp with a nine week old as well as 2 and 4 year olds proved to be something unexpected; isolating.  Here I was surrounded by people I've known and loved my entire life and the endless refrain of naps and nursing left me feeling alone. In that loneliness the script came to corrupt, and steal, and destroy.  As we drove away I was feeling only grief, a grief I processed over the last four weeks with good friends and a lot of prayer.
So I made the decision to brave the possibility of isolation again and headed up to camp to help out my brother and sister in law for the day and I found something entirely different.  I realized that what I did not do the last time was simple, I did not allow the space to remain Holy.  I didn't confront lies with unbreakable truth. For me Bluewater is a space that looks almost directly into the throne room of God.  In a time where all I could do was feel too much, that holy fear that breaks down barriers and walls and every lie since the Garden felt like too much.  Nine weeks post-partum, I was ever-teetering on the brink of tears and I couldn't stand to feel any more, so I retreated to what I knew, a script that while untrue, still felt familiar.

Now, I'm writing this out on the deck of my brother's home at Bluewater.  I am reveling in the wholeness and acceptance I feel.  I am truly joyful.  I am braving the sacred in order to kill the script and what I've found is this:  When you can accept the transformative power of the sacred, it stands up to danger and untruth, linking arms with the Father, Spirit and Son and says "you'll have to go through us first."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Relentless Now

I had a revelation this morning, I even had it before I had any coffee which in my mind makes it significant.
In just under five hours I'm leaving with a group of amazing women for The Gallery Covenant Church's annual women's retreat.  We will be going away for about 40 hours of time together and yet time away.  We will be eating together, laughing, worshipping, praying, and hopefully finding honest glimpses of the real people we do community with each week.

I am taking on a Saturday breakaway session.  I am talking about the idea of being present in our ordinary, every day lives.  It's a topic I am passionate about and believe strongly in.  I even preached a sermon about it before leaving the Pacific NorthWest to move to Minnesota.

But this morning I stood in my kitchen trying to catch my breath, literally, from an onslaught of emotion and exhaustion.  As the water boiled for coffee and used it's broken whistle to call me to attention, my youngest ran into the kitchen to tell me he was still hungry despite not finishing what I just gave him.  Also he had smashed bananas on his freezing cold hands which were promptly smeared down my previously banana-free legs, and just like that I was snapped back to the now.

I couldn't help but think over the last few weeks how I was going to teach anything about being present when I don't think I've had a solitary thought to myself in at last three weeks.  We've been plagued with illness and injury and death and taxes and in all of it, I am due with our third baby boy in 19 days.  I have responded to emails and text messages days after they were sent and I've lost my cool with the two little people who are nothing short of my heart walking around outside my body.

Shauna Niequist is an author I like a lot.  If I'm being honest she isn't revolutionary in an "I've never thought of that before" kind of way, but she speaks more gently like a mirror you can clean at your own pace, she reflects light and truth that you have forgotten.  In her book Bread & Wine she began a movement called Present Over Perfect.  In a totally unjust summary, it's giving permission to live in the now of your life and not the daunting past or future.  It's a way to hold your loved ones near without worrying about the dishes or the bathroom or the bills, if only for a breath.  Since then she has written the book Present Over Perfect, which I have yet to read only because I have about million books I have yet to read but I am excited to get to it, hopefully in 2017.

I love the idea of present over perfect.  I think it's a spectacular concept and I like to wish it on other people and hashtag it on my Instagram.  I like to dispense it as sage wisdom to those who are at the end of their ropes.  But I have not been able to understand why I cannot find joy in the present, why it is that the idea of "present" does not bring peace and I think that is where this morning's revelation came so poignant.

The reason is because the present is relentless.

My worldview is shaped as being a mom of young kids, and my present is not peaceful, it is not restful, it is constantly demanding my attention be torn into shambles between stolen legos and matching socks and who happens to be hungriest in that exact moment.  In fact, my attempt to write the previous sentence was interrupted by two arguments about whose banana was on the stairs and who got to walk around with the bucket on their head.  The bucket, I might add, was one used just in case my son got sick in his sleep again.

These moments are not marked by a stillness, steeping in the presence of the divine, and I think if we are more honest about what present means we will stop trying so hard to escape it for something better.  Maybe not even that, but perhaps we can call the onslaught what it is: terrifying.

Let me be clear, this is not a plea for placation or fishing for compliments.  This is just honesty, something I don't think we need to be lauded for, we just need to be more comfortable with its unresolvedness.  When we tell people in the midst of honest self-reflection that "it gets better" we steal the present moment from them in hopes that they will feel better so we feel better and the tension of the already and the not yet doesn't fall so heavily.  But I digress.

I guess this is nothing more than a quiet coffee with a friend.  It's a chance to tell you that if your "now" seems too daunting that present over perfect seems like more of a chore than you're willing to take on, you are not alone.  I don't have five steps for you, mama.  I don't have a magical play mat that will keep your children entertained for hours while you reflect on the good things in your life.  What I have is permission to feel too much and the understanding of the desire to escape into our digital lives for five minutes because no one on Facebook needs you to read them a book or wipe their butt.  What I also have is a mirror that slowly is beginning to reflect someone that looks like me, frazzled, tired, using her hospital bag packing list as a coaster and truly blessed beyond reason.
This is the tension we live in, our now is relentless, our lives have so much beauty that it weighs heavy and we are called to swim in it nonetheless.  So, I guess I'll see you in the deep water, we're all there too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Adult Friendships must equal Adult + Friend

There are very few mom blogs or parenting articles you can read about "self-care" that don't talk about maintaining relationships with your adult friends.  Every post that talks about the stresses moms carry talks about "going out with girlfriends" or "having a wine night" or "grabing coffee and gossiping."
Sure, all those things provide a little bit of reprieve in the day to day monotony of building wooden train tracks and coloring pages four crayon scribbles at a time.  But the thing they don't tell you in those "let loose" posts is that all those things also have one other thing in common: they are exhausting.

Truthfully it can be a ton of fun to get dressed up and go out on the town until the inevitable fatigue of 10:30 hits.  Sometimes it is nice to open a bottle of pinot after your kids are asleep and try laugh with another woman about the fact half your makeup collection got dumped in the toilet.  And yes, the Starbucks inside Target can be a safe haven for venting frustrations while still thinking about getting your kids little gifts from the dollar section.  But, in order to have adult friendships as an adult and, in my experience, especially as a parent your friendships must be made up of adults who act like grown-ups.

Let me explain.

As a mom I spend 85% of my day uncovering whatever is wrong.  My sons often just walk in to a room sulking and expect me to get to the bottom of that moment's injustice only to find out that they are sad because lions don't like taking baths.  And if someone is truly hurt, uncovering the truth about who pushed whom or where that bruise came from is a tireless and entirely thankless endeavor.  If you need further proof, a few nights ago my 4 year old spent 30 minutes sobbing uncontrollably because I cleaned him up after he threw up at dinner.  When I soon found out the reason he was crying was because I wouldn't let him eat the chips he threw up on, he looked at me for a solid minute repeating, "you broke my heart."  Yup, that's right, I broke his heart because I didn't let him eat vomit chips.

There are days that my kids sit on the couch with such discontented sighs that I fear asking them what's wrong, not because anything is actually wrong but I don't want to lose my cool when they tell me it isn't fair that they can't earn their screen time privileges back after they lost them for clocking their brother in the head with a stool.  In fact, the non-descript sigh, or whine, or little "hmmm" sound is so exhausting that not long into our parenting journey I lost my cool on my husband for making the same sounds when he's reading and wants to tell me what he's reading.  I literally shouted "If you are going to say something then say it like an adult!  Don't make me ask you. You are not a child!"  I think I scared him with my mom voice because he was pretty quiet the rest of the night.  (Thanks for loving me, babe, you're amazing)
I spend my day raising adults.  We have two, soon to be three under the age of 5 whom we are hoping will some day grow up to be functioning and communicating adults.  We do this all. the. time.  I don't have time to decipher a sigh or a "Hmmmm" or a vague Facebook status.  If you're going to talk to me as a friend, be an adult.

This is not to sound arrogant like I have it all together and I'm the best at adulting and I never make mistakes.  I totally make mistakes, I have selfish and immature moments.  But what it does mean is if we are going to be friends, I need you to say what you're going to say.  I can't dig for it, I don't have the time or the energy to do so.

I truly believe one of the best parts of growing older is getting to choose where you spend your energy.  I have had this conversation multiple times recently with some of the best women I know.  We can talk openly and honestly about how we love getting to invest in certain friendships and not worry about whether or not we can be friends with everyone.  It's truly liberating when you can be honest with yourself about it.

Because when we get to the honest stage, we find out that "letting loose" means not caring what my house looks like when you come over because you're bringing pizza and a movie for our kids.  It means using my shirt as a spit up rag for your newborn without missing a beat and being totally ok when you put my kid in a time out.  It means knowing the difference between when I need a friend to sit with me in the mess and knowing when I need help doing dishes because I haven't seen my countertop since 2013.  It means wine night can sometimes be wine afternoon and it means having a trusting enough relationship to say, "I think you need to reconsider how often you have wine night."

It doesn't mean as a mom I want easy and flighty friendships.  It means I want to have friendships without drama and backbiting.  I want to be there in the big and the small without hesitation or explanation.  I want to say I'm sorry when it's needed.  I want to say I forgive you and move on.   I want to be adults about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Grace and Pieces

So I changed the name of my blog.

I did that for two reasons, one of which is I couldn't actually remember the URL of my old one, so I'm guessing no one else could either.

The second, and more pervasive reason is because this is a title that has been moving through my head and heart for months now and I just couldn't shake it.
I sign each of my emails with two wishes, "Grace and Peace."  For years now I have realized those are the two things I need most in my day to day life and especially in my life as a mom.  I need time and patience and hope and for the love of all that is holy I need to find the 30 single socks that match the socks in my single sock basket.  I need time by myself, I need time with my husband and I need time with my Savior.  But because it is inevitable that I will fail at all those things, I need the grace to not dwell on my failures or the failures of those around me.  I need the peace to know that we are going to be OK, that the work is necessary and the hardships are strengthening us and that my children aren't going to remember that they have had nearly 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the last two months.

The idea of Grace and Pieces came because I always find that I write best out of the parts that are broken.  The great thing about broken pieces is that when I just accept that they are broken instead of exhausting all my energy convincing myself that everything is fine and nothing is broken, I can just tell the truth.  Sometimes the truth is hard, sometimes it is hilarious and every time it brings freedom.  John 8:32 says, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free," and that is beautiful.  But I like David Foster Wallace's take on it when he said "The truth will set you free.  But not until it is finished with you."  Freedom and brokenness are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are some of the oldest truths in the world.  So here I write, free and broken and totally OK with that.
I hope to write more, I always hope to write more and I hope to give myself grace when I don't write enough.

Grace and Peace be with you always.  Glad Advent to you all, may you give yourself grace and seek peace this Christmastide.