11.02.2014

Changing Landscape

I have a favorite song with the following lines in it:

After night
Comes a light
Dawn is here
Dawn is here

-       “Oh the Glory of It All” by David Crowder Band

This is where I find myself.  My last post was rather bleak as I shared my struggles through the early newborn days and the subsequent “baby blues.”  All of that is starting to fade, and a new dawn is starting to emerge.  I am finding myself more hopeful than weepy, more confident than overwhelmed.  Silas’ sleep is getting more organized and so are my hormones…both of which have made a huge difference on how I feel about life in general.

In the bigger picture of “our life,” other things are beginning to shift, too.  Our sabbatical year officially started this month as Val shifted from his previous faculty position to a part-time hospitalist position.  As he transitioned jobs, Val was able to be off for almost six full weeks, which he dedicated to serving our family as we added another person to the mix.  He gave himself to making sure that each of us individually, and all of us as a whole, did well through all the transitions.  He supported me as I wobbled in all the emotions and exhaustion of my post-partum, sleep-deprived days. 

As a result of his presence and engagement of our family over those weeks, other things have begun shifting in the landscape of our family.  As Val truly carried us as a family over the past six weeks, he began to see and have insight into things in our home and family that could shift for more wholeness and life for each of us.  As he has seen these things, he is taking responsibility to lead us into health and rest and peace and wholeness.  He is creatively thinking about what is best for each of us and  is making plans to facilitate those things. 


At the same time that he is having insight about our family and leading us into wholeness and rest, I am feeling my heart transform from a heart that tries so hard to hold everything together into a heart that truly trusts Jesus to hold everything together.  I am feeling myself beginning to slowly release my intense need to get everything right, to measure up to others’ expectations (real or perceived)…and even to begin to release my own desire to meet a certain internal “standard” of what it means to be a woman, wife, and mom.  I am surprised by how much I still live life “trying to measure up” when I’ve already been given such incredible grace and freedom through Christ. 

It is in this combination of Val’s creative leadership toward wholeness and life and my release of control and measuring up that we are finding a changing landscape in our family.  At Val’s suggestion, I am beginning to entertain new ideas about how to approach our life differently than I have in the past.  My thinking about daily life, home, chores, responsibilities, schooling, kids, spiritual gifts, eternity, and the Kingdom is beginning to expand and adjust and shift...making room for God to begin to speak and move anything in our life according to His story the He would like to write with our lives.  My agenda is beginning to be minimized as I open my mind and heart to whatever, wherever, and however He may lead us through this next season.   

It is an exciting season in our family.  It’s as though we are moving out of a place characterized by one type of landscape and into a new place with an unfamiliar but beautiful landscape.  As we continue on into this new place, the fullness of that landscape will only develop even more as we walk out this Sabbath year.  I am excited and hopeful to see what unfolds in this new changing landscape ahead of us. 


10.10.2014

The Dark Side of the Newborn Days

I am always duped by the first four or five days after a baby is born.  My emotions are high.  I am in love all over again.  Each time with a new man.  And even more in love with my main man. 

Then after a few weeks of sleep deprivation and extreme hormone shifts, I start to feel the bleakness of my reality.  I am never going to sleep again.  The baby cries so much.  I don’t always know how to calm him.  Nursing is a commitment like none other.  It feels like that’s all I am doing with my entire life is nurse, change, and rock the [sweet] baby.  My hands are never free.  I cry anytime I feel anything…regardless of the type of emotion I feel…happy, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, in love…all produce tears.

With my first baby, I thought for sure this would be the way my life would be for the rest of my life.  That I would always feel this overwhelmed and desperate.  That I would never find myself again.  I did find myself again.  I did find my footing.  After my second son, I remember just the normal “baby blues”…weepiness for a while, but not desperate.  Overwhelmed but not as though I had disappeared. 

This time I feel shocked.  Surprised that these old dark feelings are creeping in and feel more extreme than I expected.  This time, though, I will not hide them like I did with my first.  I will fight against the lies that come with these feelings.  The lies that hauntingly say, “If you struggle like this, you are not a very good mom” and “these feelings of sadness are going to ruin your child” and “because you are on edge you won’t bond with your baby.”

In so many ways, I let these lies rule my reality with my first son for so long.  It was years later that I felt release and freedom and truth and healing in my heart in regard to those lies that had set up camp for way too long.  Lies that were condemning and guilt-filled.  Lies that wanted me to believe them so I’d already feel sunk from the beginning of motherhood.

This time as I feel the emotions and exhaustion creep in and become intertwined with disheartening lies, I find myself fighting back.  I am talking about what I am feeling with my trusted people.  My husband is truly with me in this, offering all the support he can both practically and emotionally…always my best friend.  And I am asking Jesus to help me during this season.  Asking Him to give insight and healing.  I feel Him pouring truth onto my heart. 

Truth that tells me to take hold of my thoughts and give them to Him.  To recognize that as I feel overwhelmed in my heart, He can illuminate what in my thoughts and feelings that I should hold onto and what I need to release.  To stop and see what is good.  To see how far we’ve already come as a family in the last four weeks. 

I feel Him reminding me to slow down.  To not get in over my head in what I plan for a day.  To prioritize what actually matters and to release the rest.  I feel Him reminding me to lean on the supports I do have.  To keep my heart light and refreshed even in small ways…like reading light fiction during middle of the night feedings and taking a shower each morning to start the day fresh and making a point to get outside every day. 

And to understand that I just don’t handle hormone shifts well, nor do I handle sleep deprivation well.  And that is okay.  It is really okay.  I am not “less” because of it.  

Of course, sharing all of this is so vulnerable.  However, not only is it good for my heart…to be honest and real about where I am and who I am, it is also important because I know there are others of you out there reading this who have struggled or are struggling with similar feelings.  Feelings of sadness, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, or being overwhelmed with the reality of a new baby in your life.  So I share this as a way to process for myself, but also in an effort to encourage you.  We are not alone.  This part is hard.  There is hope.  It will not be like this forever.


For those of you who have struggled with an extended season of “baby blues” or even post-partum depression, what is your story?  What helped you come out on the other side?  I would love to hear about your experience.   Please do share. 

10.06.2014

Three

Solomon,

I just love you.  I delight in you every day and am so happy you are my son.  Who you are brings so much joy and delight to those around you.  You are comfortable in your own skin.  Like a laid back grown man but in a three-year-old’s body. 

It’s hard to believe that you’re just now turning three.  You’ve already possessed a maturity far above a three year old level for quite a while now.  You express yourself so well, with words that encompass your exact feeling and meaning.  You are incredibly engaging when you communicate, putting much heart behind your words, powerfully using intonation and facial expressions to get across all that you are communicating.  You captive almost every audience. 

You are a snuggler with a such a tender heart.  I love these things about you.

You are also incredibly tough.  So, so tough.  You can tackle your older brother with no problem at all.  You are a solid kid who plays hard.  These rough and tough traits are also things I love about you.

You love to sing and dance, too.  And you’ve got some serious style in the songs you create and the dance moves you make.   I am amazed at how much rhythm you already possess at three. 

You love gogurts and peanut butter and ice cream and chips. 

You also truly enjoy being “with” those you love.  Almost every day you ask both dad and I if we will “play lightning cars” with you.  You long to have someone else engage in your experiences, to be connected to your reality. 

You love to share things that are special to you…especially special food treats.  It is so awesome to watch your eyes light up at that thought of sharing a treat or experience with someone else. 

Your heart amazes me all the time.  At three years old, you already powerfully possess and express such incredible generosity, tenderness, and life.

I love you so much and am so grateful that we get to know each other!

Love,

Mama

9.23.2014

Silas, C-Section, and Letting Go

Events and circumstances are often used as catalysts for the freedom, change, wholeness, or transformation God is trying to work out in our lives.  I’ve been learning all year about how I cannot and do not hold everything together.  God has been showing me so clearly this year that I cannot even hold myself together, I cannot get everything right and perfected every time.  I cannot hold my children’s world together.  I cannot hold my husband’s world together.  I cannot control or determine their feelings or actions. 

I have been learning freedom in the truth that while I cannot and do not hold all things together, I do follow the only One who does.  I know that in Jesus all things are held together (Colossians 1:17), and as I follow Him and listen to His Spirit, I am able to be held together.  As I listen to Him for how I parent, how I run my home, how I love my husband, then I can step into His freedom and peace and rest in my every day life…because He is the one holding it all together…not me. 

I thought I had been learning all of this pretty well.  And maybe I had.  This pregnancy was definitely the hardest of any of my pregnancies, and through the exhaustion in it, I had already been learning to let go of so many things.  However, it seems that there are even deeper levels to this release and rest that God wanted me to know. 

Over two weeks ago now, I was already getting a sense that something was “off” with the end of Silas’ pregnancy.  Labor wasn’t coming the way it had with my other two.  Five days past my due date, I woke up in the middle of the night with a sense that something just wasn’t right.  After being induced later that next day, things didn’t progress the way they had in my previous births.  Thankfully, because of all of this…because of what I had sensed…I was not exactly surprised when the surgeon and my doctor walked in to tell me that I would need to have a C-section.  We had already exhausted every other option.  While nervous, I had peace.  This was right.

It was very apparent to me that not only had God allowed the C-section as an act of grace to get my sweet Baby Silas out into the world with me, He had also allowed it for me to learn deeper levels of letting go of all of my efforts to hold things together.  Nothing quite “stills” you like being on pain medication, not being able to lift anything heavier than your 8 lb. newborn, and not being able to drive for two full weeks.  Everything weighs more than 8 lbs.  These new restrictions brought to the surface how much I still try to hold things together.  For the first time since becoming a wife and a mom, I literally could not hold anything together. 

That first day home, I didn’t even leave my bedroom.  Just Baby Silas and I hanging out all day in my bed up in the master suite. My super amazing stud of a husband did not even bat an eye at the new weight he would be carrying.  From the moment we came home, he has been committed to giving me a solid recovery time so that I would heal well.  He has done everything for our little family…literally everything.  As I observe him, I see God giving him the energy and the heart to care for me, our home, our big boys, to go grocery shopping, to plan and cook meals…to carry us right now.  It is humbling to be cared for like this.  The love my husband has for me is so full and amazing.

Yet, twice now, I’ve already overdone it.  It’s like I won’t learn.  It’s like I can’t accept grace, love, and rest.  I find so much satisfaction and worth in doing and accomplishing…in holding things together, that already at least twice in the last week, I’ve found myself pushing ahead of where I am right now.  Instead of trusting my husband to run the plan, I’ve stuck my hands in his plan, trying to also accomplish my agenda…and ultimately find satisfaction in accomplishing things.  Last night, in tears I was sharing with my husband that I’ve really got some issues when I have been given every resource and reason to rest and I still won’t rest.

My father-in-law has been hear since last Friday and is staying until my mom gets here this Friday.  We have help and support.  And yet, I push past the very obvious gift of being able to rest.  I push past the work God wants to do in my soul in regard to rest.  I push past the truth that I don’t actually hold everything together, but He does.  It is time take a good hard look at how much I tie my value and worth to accomplishing and achieving.  This is the moment to ask Jesus to transform my very heart to these deeper levels of trust, freedom, rest, and peace. 

How all this will look past this season is still unknown to me.  I will have to return to carrying some family responsibilities again very soon.  But I am hopeful that this time is on purpose to solidify deeper realities of peace in my soul.  I am hopeful that when returning to everyday life, I will be able to integrate a new understanding of peace and rest into my roles and responsibilities. 

So, I am surrendering myself to rest.  I am surrendering myself to this gift.  I am incredibly grateful for a husband who is working hard to let me rest…a husband who wants me to rest right now.  I am beyond thankful to have parents and in-laws who are incredibly willing to help us, to be involved in our lives and love on our kids. 

I am slowly learning to be at rest in my very spirit as I let go of all attempts to hold my little world together.  Because the truth is…I don’t actually hold it together anyway.