Monday, November 17, 2014

birth memories

It's a beautiful fall day here. It's also incredibly cold, but there's something about the way the sun is shining brilliantly through the fluffiest of clouds that reminds me of where I was, what I was doing, how I was feeling, a year ago today. I was at the very beginning of my birthing time with Baby G. If I were to be laboring today, you'd better believe it would be taking place entirely inside my home. But a year ago, it was gloriously warm, just a bit of crispness in the air.

Husband and I walked the neighborhood several times on that beautiful fall day. We stopped every time I felt waves, and I would lean against him and breathe, supported by his arms, safe and secure in the joy that is birthing with a supportive, loving husband.

I like my marriage as a general rule. But nothing has strengthened our marriage more than pregnancy and the births of our two little boys. We both change in the process. Our relationship changes: as I experience sickness and fatigue, he picks up the slack around the house. There have been moments of annoyance, fear, irritation... but most of what we experience as I carry our children has been an increase in trust, a shared anticipation, and an awe at what we have brought to pass together.

So today, on the eve of Baby G's first birthday (it took him 38 hours to arrive after labor first began!), I'm remembering those two days spent with my husband while we were still a family of three. We shipped E off to spend the night(s) with his grandma, and the two of us enjoyed our day together. Questions and fears, intense birthing struggles, and much hard work would come the next day... but a year ago today, it was just the two of us on a beautiful fall day, experiencing peace and anticipation as together we worked to meet our baby boy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

five minute friday: still

A lot of people in my life have gone through some tough stuff lately. Stuff that's been really hard to witness while being helpless to fix. Stuff that makes my heart ache.

Last night, as a part of my Bible study, I was reading a passage of Lamentations (who studies Lamentations?!) and had to back up to read the whole chapter so that the verses made sense in context. As I read, I felt stirred by Jeremiah's words.

Jeremiah seemed convinced that God had it out for him. He spent 19 verses detailing the various ways that God had tested him, put him through suffering, let him go through the valleys of darkness...  but STILL, Jeremiah said,

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." -Lamentations 3:21-24

All his laments, his fears, his despair, and still Jeremiah recognized the goodness of God! He spent the rest of the chapter giving God the glory, praising him for his mercies, reminding readers that, despite it all, God is good.

Still. Through death and illness and heartbreak and failure and fears, God is still.

Still merciful.
Still kind.
Still just.
Still protector.
Still good.
Still loving.
Still God.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I have THAT room

Do you remember the Friends episode in which Monica, the queen of clean freaks, won't let Chandler see what's in the locked closet in their apartment? This drives him crazy, so naturally, he takes the hinges off the door and finds, to his delighted amusement, a closet so packed with stuff that I'm pretty sure it inspired the show Hoarders or the Room of Requirement where Harry Potter hides his potions book.

::deep breath::

I have that room.


It isn't mine, though! I joke that I don't even go into our basement because it makes me claustrophobic. My dear husband does not share my obsessive tendencies, and in exchange for his help in keeping the main living areas of our home clean and neat, I try not to nag him about the basement (which also functions as his home office).

Until now. Because friends, it's getting COLD here in Missouri.

You see, over the summer, I purchased a FitBit (a very accurate pedometer that also tracks miles traveled and calories burned) and made it my goal to walk 10,000 steps at least five times each week. This was the perfect summer to do it. It wasn't a sauna like it usually is around here, and the temperatures were comfortably low. I did some walking outside most days, and I usually looked at my FitBit after the boys were in bed and decided to walk around the neighborhood for a while to top off my 10k steps.

But I'm not into walking in the cold, so I'm done with all that. I laid off the 10k in October to jumpstart my blog with the 31-day challenge, but now I'm getting antsy again. I got really hooked on walking, and on losing weight, and on feeling strong and fit. I miss it very much.

There's a treadmill in our garage that's just collecting dust, but my goal for this month is to work with Husband to bring the basement to a point where we can set it up without him feeling like he's losing his space. So, without further ado...... here's my Monica's Closet.

By December, I'll have an updated photo with a treadmill all set up and ready for me to walk!

What are your fitness goals this week/this month?
Do you set goals before all the holiday sabotages set in?

Monday, November 10, 2014

the other Proverbs wife

At 5:45 last Saturday morning, I was pulled out of the land of cotton and dreams by my husband kissing me good-bye.

Because he is striving to be even better at everything he's called to be, Husband is now getting up early on Saturdays so he can attend a men's group intended to build up men's relationships with God and family. It starts at 6 a.m. so as to not cut into family time, which I especially appreciate since our weekends are so precious.

But Husband isn't a morning person, and this is a huge sacrifice for him to make. I'm humbled by it all. So when he got back shortly before 8:00, I greeted him cheerily and left him playing with two happy children so I could make our traditional leisurely Saturday morning breakfast.

From there, though, things unraveled. I ran into issue after issue while trying to make breakfast, and it was a disaster (although my boys thought everything was fine). G was particularly demanding and whiny while eating, and it was impossible to have even the semblance of a conversation. At one point, I sat the rest of my family down to eat while I went into the living room and cried.

What happened? I started my day with such a love and appreciation for the man with whom I share my life, but in less than an hour, I was desperate to grab my car keys and run away from it all.

Cautiously, Husband asked what he could do to help me reset. I said I needed a rewind button. (Terribly helpful, I know.) But I eventually escaped upstairs to nurse Baby G and then do some pretty intense cleaning. As I scrubbed the bathroom sink, I mulled over my roller-coaster emotions of the morning. Why? Why had I snapped?

The thought of my husband at this men's group kept nagging at me. He had come back refreshed and rejuvenated, more ready to be a loving husband and father, but my attitude as his wife and the mother of his children could not have borne a more stark contrast to that.  I had become that Proverbs wife -- not the virtuous one from Proverbs 31, but the nagging one from Proverbs 21:9.

As a Christian wife, I have the opportunity to capitalize on my husband's spiritual "highs." To seize the moment when he has been built up and ministered to and spiritually fed. In those moments, I can add another layer of positivity, of love, of Jesus -- but I often find myself so vulnerable. I believe in spiritual warfare. I believe that there is a battle raging for our souls every day. I believe that I have angels who fight for me, that there are demons who strike out against me. And I can't help but picture the triumph on the face of the enemy when I succumb to life's frustrations and drag my husband down with me.

On my own, I'm no match for the forces of Hell. But prayer is powerful, and Scripture study is powerful, and Jesus is so much more powerful.

Sure, not every husband out there is gallantly sacrificing his Saturday morning sleep-in. But if your husband is making any effort, no matter how small, in an effort to become a better husband/father/man of God... meet him there. Be in prayer and study so that you are guarded against the evils that would turn you into a nagging Proverbs 21 wife. Support him in his journey with Jesus by creating a loving, joy-filled place where he can return.

Friday, November 7, 2014

five minute friday: turn

Oh, my E… we used to make such fun of your "dancing."

I’m not sorry for it. You looked absolutely ridiculous. You turned round and round the living room (or the kitchen, or your bedroom, or the backyard…) with jolting steps and uninhibited joy, moving your arms jerkily like some sort of deranged robot. You were the silliest thing we had ever seen, and the most endearing.

And then I turned around, and you are no longer that unsteady little toddler, but graceful and with more sure footing. Don’t get me wrong: you still look ridiculous most of the time. But your feet fall where you intend them to, and I no longer hold my breath in fear that you will fall and smack your head wide open. You jump and run and kick and hop on one foot, and when you twirl and turn, there is a grace even in those silly little boy steps.

You are a real person now, independent and self-confident and your own little man. You guide your baby brother, crawling alongside him as you lead him to the next escapade you two will share. It is your turn to lead; you don’t look to mommy as much these days.

I know that I will continue to turn around and find you have grown, inexplicably, into the next stage of your life. I cannot stop you and (probably) wouldn’t if I could. You are turning into the most remarkable buddy of mine.

Keep turning, E. Turn and twirl and dance. Turn into the face of adventure. Turn around and beckon your brother to join you. But once in a while, turn back toward me so I can witness the delight in your face as you continue along on this amazing journey of yours. Because one day, I know, I will turn around, and you will be all grown.

Five Minute Friday is a community of bloggers who write, using a different prompt word each week, for just five minutes. The purpose is to just write, without over-thinking or editing. If you know me at all, you know I won't post without reading through to make sure there are no glaring errors! But what I'll share on FMF will be as raw as I'll ever get.