A Little Ong Family Update

April 3rd, 2014

So there was a baby born in this house almost 6 months ago, and that is the last this blog knows of our life.
In case you were wondering, she is a cute baby.

 

Our little family has adjusted even better than expected to this little girl who stole all our hearts. She slept beautifully and doled out smiles quite liberally, even from a few days old. Her big brother adores her completely. I love watching the two of them together. As she gets older and interacts more they have had so much fun together. She is the first thing he looks for each morning.

 

We had a lovely holiday season. It is such an incredible blessing to have both sides of the family near by, and to want to spend time with each of them. We don’t take that for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella is growing like a weed, of course. It amazes me how much faster she seems to grow than Miles did, because we have more to distract us. We turned around one day, and there she was just sitting up. When did she get old enough for that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am loving having a daughter. Boys are wonderful, and I’ve always said I want lots of them, but there is a special bond between a mommy and her little girl that caught me off guard. I can’t wait to be best friends for ever with this tiny beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boy makes my heart smile every day. He is at such a fun stage, full of exploring and generally lots of dirt. He is always thinking outside the box and doing things I don’t see other kids doing. Not that he does much of what normal kids do anyway. We are learning trust and patience when it comes to that kid.

 

We are growing and stretching so much these days. Chris and I are constantly having conversations about all we have yet to learn, and encouraging each other to grow more. Our children are so good for us.

 

Ella’s Birth

November 1st, 2013

I was 42 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and still no baby. It was Sunday, but I had opted not to go to church. I didn’t feel up to facing everyone’s questions and comments, however well intentioned. I spent the day walking up and down the driveway, drinking buckets of red raspberry leaf tea, working on a puzzle, writing a blog post with the truths I was holding on to, and carrying on a constant conversation with God about the baby coming. I think some of the reassurances and conclusions I came to throughout the day helped me to truly be ready for my baby to come. I needed to get to the place where I was at peace with the choices we had made. I had a nagging concern that there was something I needed to do since the baby was “so late” in coming. That day I was finally at peace with doing nothing and simply waiting – trusting God, my body, and my baby for the right timing.

My son Miles had been born at 41w 2d at a whopping 10lbs 5oz. Somehow I never expected to be pregnant longer with my second baby. I was totally fine with going past my due date, but in our state a midwife cannot do a home birth after 42 weeks. As that date approached I started to feel nervous. I had ended up having to transfer to the hospital for Miles’ birth because of too much meconium in my water when it broke, and I desperately wanted to have my home water birth this time. At my 40 and 41 week appointments my midwife had tried to strip my membranes but my cervix had been too far back to reach. I tried a regimen of black and blue cohash with no results. Neither of us were comfortable with the idea of caster oil because I had done that with Miles and we think that might have been the cause of the excessive meconium that resulted in the hospital transfer. We were leaving that as a last option. The day I was 42 weeks Lisa (my midwife) and Tatia (her assistant) came over and we did two enemas, hoping it would have the same effect as the caster oil but in a gentler fashion. Besides some awkward moments, lots of good laughs, and general ickiness they did absolutely nothing. I was feeling that my body just wasn’t ready. We hashed through my dates again and decided that they really did seem to be correct, especially based on the (presumed) ovulation bleeding I had had. The next day Lisa had me go to an acupuncturist. I felt like acupuncture was a nice thing to do for my body, instead of the icky things we had been trying. I felt so good the rest of the day, almost not even pregnant. It was Saturday and we went to my brother’s birthday party that evening and enjoyed seeing all the family. I timed my contractions through the party at 5-7 minutes apart, but they went away before I went to bed.
Lisa said she would give me through the weekend to have the baby and come Monday she would send me in for some tests and we would decide what to do from there. We had multiple conversations about it and we both felt that we had done what we needed to do and there were no warning signs or reasons to take any more drastic measures to make the baby come.

When Sunday morning came I spent the day praying I would have the baby before the next morning. I didn’t want to reach the point where I would have to go to the hospital and fight for the birth I wanted. My poor husband was starting to be worn down by the stress of waiting too. Our lives had been on hold for the last month waiting for this baby and not being able to have any solid plans. He kept asking “Anything yet?” and I’d tell him I’d let him know if there was anything worth telling. When my contractions picked up through the day I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Later in the afternoon I asked Lisa to come over and check me, just because I was curious if anything was changing. It was such an amazing moment watching the grin spread across her face as she was finally able to reach my cervix, did a stretch and sweep, and said I was at a good 4cm. We were all so excited! Lisa kept saying “Oh praise God!” She said she hoped to get a call from me that evening! I said that when I was finally in labor I probably wouldn’t be able to stop smiling because I was FINALLY in labor.

By 8pm my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart, but not strong enough for me to feel like I needed to get everyone’s hopes up. A little after 9 I finished the puzzle I’d been working on for a few days and we headed upstairs to curl up in bed and watch something. Part way through the episode of Psych (ironically that was what we were watching the night I went into labor with Miles, too) Chris told me I was groaning a bit through contractions. I didn’t even realize. He decided to text the midwife while I went downstairs to the bathroom. I told him I wasn’t sure she needed to come just yet but she said she was headed over. I loved that she was almost as anxious as I was for this baby to be born.

I think Lisa and Tatia showed up about 10:30. Just after Chris said they were coming my contractions completely stopped for 10 minutes, making me super frustrated, but by the time they got to the house they had picked back up considerably and were 2-3 minutes apart and surprisingly strong. That was when I started to get the feeling that this labor might go a lot faster than my 14hr labor with Miles. With him I hadn’t had contractions this strong til at least 8 hours in. I sat on the exercise ball in the living room while Chris set up the birth pool and Lisa and Tatia moved around getting things ready.

My birth photographer, Kira, had conflicts with her work schedule and wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it when the time came so we had also talked to my sister in law Alice and asked her to be available to cover if Kira couldn’t be there. I called Kira and she said she had to leave for work at 1:30am but could come until then. I was disappointed because I didn’t think the baby would come before then, but I told her to come on over anyway. We also called Alice and told her to come around 12:30 so she could take over when Kira left.

Lisa had me move to the bed so she could check me. I was completely effaced and dilated to 6, and she said I could get in the pool whenever I wanted. Chris and Tatia worked to fill the pool. Chris was rubbing my back and giving me counter pressure with contractions for the back labor. I didn’t even have to ask. I felt like I might throw up so I asked Chris to bring me a bucket or something. The feeling passed, and I decided to go to the bathroom before I got in the pool. I had a couple really intense contractions on the toilet. I was starting to worry that if this labor didn’t go a LOT faster than the last one there was no way I could handle it the whole way through. I changed into my tankini top and Chris helped me into the pool. The water felt amazing and took the edge off the intensity. I love birth pools!

The other midwife I had wanted couldn’t be there so Lisa called Judy, a really sweet older lady who Lisa had trained under. I had never met Judy but I loved her right away. Lisa, Tatia, and Judy were hanging out in the kitchen catching up, and Kira and Alice were in the livingroom. Chris stayed right behind me and rubbed my neck and shoulders while I leaned back against the edge of the pool. I found it helpful to rub my finger gently back and forth against my leg during contractions to give me something else to focus on. As with my previous labor, I didn’t make a sound and my best coping mechanism was to breathe as deeply as possible and relax completely. I knew Chris wanted to know what was going on with me so I tried to give some sign when a contraction was starting – leaning back or forward or something. He eventually picked up on my finger rubbing trick too. I also attempted to give periodic verbal updates – more than I had managed last time! They usually consisted of “They are getting stronger…” “I think things are going a little faster this time…” or something to that effect. I was happy with how much I was still able to engage with people around me between contractions at times earlier on at least.

I tried changing positions a couple times as things got a little harder to handle. I thought leaning forward over the edge might feel good, but it was actually so much worse. I seemed to do better leaning back instead of forward. I don’t know if that was because of my back labor or not. With Miles’ birth I hardly felt my stomach contracting because my back labor was so bad. It was still really bad this time, but I could certainly still feel my stomach. These contractions were just much more intense than the last time.

By 1:00 they were starting to be too much. I was freaking out inside that I couldn’t handle them, though I was still totally calm on the outside. I would have a couple really awful ones, and then one that wasn’t quite so bad. Finally the thought hit me that I didn’t have to handle them, I didn’t have to DO anything, I needed to NOT do, to let go. That got me through those last few contractions. I remember telling Chris “These are REALLY intense.” Suddenly I knew I was going to throw up and grabbed the pitcher Chris had brought me earlier. The contents of my stomach emptied with a power that shocked me. I was shaking and hardly able to hold myself up when it was done. Lisa nodded and said something about transition. I was pretty oblivious to anything done or said around me at that point.

Chris got in the pool to try and help support me better. He stood for a minute, trying to figure out how he could best help me and was kinda bouncing on the inflated bottom of the pool. It was just enough to distract me and make me think about balancing to counteract the jiggling. I snapped “Either sit down or get out!” Just a couple minutes later I had a contraction and realized I was involuntarily pushing with it. I could watch my stomach push down. It was such a weird feeling. Once it was over I said “Um, Lisa, I’m pushing and I didn’t mean to.” She said ok and came to check me. She said I was complete and could push whenever I wanted. I said “Oh good, because I’m not sure I could do this much longer.” There was a quiet moment as I rested and she leaned over the edge and told me I would meet my baby soon. I was so glad she was there, so glad I was surrounded by people who loved me and my baby. I couldn’t believe I was so close to finally getting the birth I had hoped and prayed for. And then it started.

I have never felt anything so powerful and intense as what followed. My body bore down and pushed all on its own and I just braced my hands on the bottom of the pool and tried to breathe. I don’t really remember pain, just the surprise and shock of the intensity of my body bringing my baby into the world all on its own. By the second push I could suddenly feel the head, by the third Lisa said it was crowning. Lisa told me to take it slow, and I did my best to slow it down as much as I could, but I didn’t really have much control. Chris was behind me cheering me on and sounded as  excited as I remember him when Miles was born. Next the head was out and I remember thinking I never even felt the “ring of fire”. Lisa said the baby was still in the caul. My body took a break then, again, completely out of my control. Lisa said “Whenever you are ready.” I don’t really know how long it was, but I was able to kind of catch my breath before suddenly bearing down again, and out the baby came! The bag of waters broke just as the baby’s feet were born and Lisa put my baby in my arms. I had pushed for less than 5 minutes. It was 1:23am.

I’m not sure if I was more in shock from what my body had just been through or because that was THE moment I had been waiting for, praying for, hoping for, afraid I wouldn’t get, and what I had held on to in those long weeks of waiting – that moment of being handed my baby seconds after birth. When Miles was born the doctor had had Chris cut the cord and handed him to the nurses and I didn’t even see him for at least 10 minutes after he was born. That was the biggest thing I wanted to be different with my second birth.
I just sat there clinging to my baby and trying to breathe, taking in the moment. Chris was leaning over my shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of the baby. After a bit I did think I should check to see if it was a boy or girl, but I wasn’t sure if I could even move yet. We had been waiting so long and I knew everyone in the room was dying to know. (I’m not sure if Lisa had seen when she passed me the baby or not.) Lisa finally asked if I wanted to know and I said “of course!” and finally found the strength to sit up a bit more and Chris lifted the towel that was thrown over us. I’m not sure which one of us announced “It’s a girl!” but I was completely shocked. I laughed. I didn’t really think I had been set one way or another but that was when I realized how much I really did think it would be another boy. I think it took me a couple hours to get over the surprise. I couldn’t believe I had a daughter.

After a couple minutes Lisa said she wanted to get me out of the pool to deliver the placenta. With quite a bit of effort they got us out and onto the floor. The placenta came just a couple minutes later and then they spent quite a while trying to get my bleeding to stop. I also had a prolapsed cervix because of how fast the birth had been. I tried to get my baby girl to nurse but she wasn’t very interested and my back and hips were really hurting from the hard floor. Lisa went ahead and cut the cord and gave Chris the baby so they could focus on me. After a while they got the bleeding under control and my cervix did finally go back up where it was supposed to be. I finally got to move to the bed in the other room and Chris and I got a few moments to be together and cuddle our girl. We talked about her name. We had two girls names picked out and hadn’t been able to decide between them. We finally decided to go with Ella Meredith.

Lisa came back into the room and did a newborn check on Ella. 8lbs. 10oz., 21” long, and completely perfect. Everyone packed up and left us alone by 4:00. It was amazing to be in our own house with our new baby girl. Miles slept through the whole thing and got to meet his baby sister when he woke up in the morning. Kira had been able to stay for the birth after all. Both she and Alice took some amazing pictures. I was in labor for a total of 4 ½ hours.

Over the next few days I smiled every time I thought about Ella’s birth. It was so perfect, exactly what I had wanted. I was so blessed to have such amazing care and support and to have such a quick, perfect birth and to be able to be at home and in the water like I wanted. I am so blessed.

Focus for Today

October 6th, 2013

This morning I enjoyed paging through my journal. So many encouraging thoughts and reminders there. I am choosing to focus on these truths today (apart from the mini melt down in the shower this morning.) I am begging God daily for faith, hope, and courage.

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“Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me.”

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“For I am poor and need, yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Thou art my help, my deliverer, and my God.”

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Life is simple. It appears sometimes to be overly empty and wasted, but I think it is not. This is a season for waiting. It is not that I do nothing while I wait, just different kinds of things. I know I can use more purposefully quiet moments. Doing “nothing” bothers me and I waste still moments with useless activity. I need to learn to wait well.

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I am again so awed by how You work. We asked and asked and waited and waited. At first I was confident in Your will, but the longer it took the more antsy I became. I again asked the questions of how much to pray, and what to ask. Then I was reminded that “Faith in God requires faith in His timing.” So I chose to have faith there as well, confident that I did not need to know a second sooner than You allowed.

I am assured again that as You visibly answer requests like this, You are also answering the unseen ones for hearts, and sight, and life, and knowing.

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I do not want life to stay as it is. I want to do hard things. I don’t want to miss out because of fear. I want more of God, and as I give life I believe I will find it.

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“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

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I know that I am exactly where You want me, that You are active in my life, and that my simple life is eternally impacting. I also know I could have more of You, could see You more, and know You better, and it would make my life so much more meaningful.

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I was talking to Chris’ mom about it and she said it is so easy for us to wish God didn’t let these things happen, but that we often get to see Him more when He lets us fall but has us land in pillows.

Oh Jesus, You are so gentle with us.

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There is good in the little things and beauty in brokenness, but not if it is less than Your best. I need to stop evaluating what I can handle and ask what You have planned for me. I never know if you will have something so much bigger up Your sleeve.

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“You aren’t wasting your life – when you aren’t wasting opportunities to love like Christ.”

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My choices do not make me righteous but are a reflection of my personal walk with God practically lived out. This is what You have called me to. I can encourage others but cannot look down on them because their walk with God looks different than mine. I have nothing to prove, but must simply reflect Jesus to the best of my ability.

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Growing Pains

September 12th, 2013

Its been a hard month. I won’t go into it all, but suffice it to say that it seems like all the hard parts of being an adult in the grown up world are pushing down on us at once, (May I just state for the record that I hate money? Oh, and why is it that dinner must be made every single night? And be healthful? And why, for the love of sanity, can employers not treat their employees like human beings?)  and on top of that we’ve all had head colds.

You know how high schoolers or whatnot complain about how hard life is and always get told “This is nothing. Just wait til you are an adult.” or, “Someday you will wish this was all you had to worry about.” and basically just “Suck it up. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”  But I really don’t think that is a fare attitude. See, humans are constrained by this thing called growth. We weren’t born finished. We have to learn. A runner doesn’t complete a marathon the first time he steps outside his door, but he may work just as hard that first day to run a mile as he does the day he completes the great race. Its all about conditioning and growth and learning. Something that is hard one day will be mindless eventually. We accept these facts when it comes to new knowledge or new skills, but why not with all of life? A one year old works just as hard for those first steps as the runner does for his marathon, a high schooler gives all he has for that 4.0, and without those toddling first steps, and hard studying , and life experience, a “real life adult” will never make it in the world. It is not that earlier tasks required less effort.

So really, the hard stuff in life is just growing pains. Moments designed to push us into greater knowledge of life and God and greater skill to work for His purposes. And as hard as it is, I want to grow. So this hard stuff, its ok. And I know its not too much, because Jesus always promised a way to escape anything that was. Its nice to know He trusts me with more than He did a while ago.

I see this happening big as life before me every day. See?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in those moments when the growing pains just seem to much, and I feel my huge belly might just explode, I look at my little boy who is right this minute crawling up my leg wanting to be held, and I know it is so worth it. I look Miles in the eyes and tell him he was, and is, worth it, worth the emotional upheaval and the physical discomfort, which reminds me that this little one I have yet to meet is worth it as well. And so is true of every area of life. Growing is worth it. It is what we were made for.

Life Today

June 4th, 2013

You know, its funny. I love to write, and blog, and talk, and communicate in general, but somehow as a mama it just doesn’t happen much any more. I was just complaining to Chris how I sat down to journal, purposing to  finally “make it happen” and only got two sentences written before Miles needed something from me, and of course I never made it back to the couch or my cold cup of coffee.

Somehow I always decide I NEED to write just when life is craziest – like this week, when I’m in a wedding this weekend, am going to be away from my little one over night for the first time, need to do meal prep, and clean my house, and go shopping; all before I head out to party with the bride, and then have company next week and somehow get ready for our annual girls retreat next weekend, which I have done next to zero prep for. Help! I am really looking forward to the next couple weeks, but I am overwhelmed too. I think that is usually when I feel the need to express some of the crazy thoughts flying around my head. Maybe if my thoughts are organized my life will feel a little more under control as well?

I feel so conflicted over this wedding! I want to be available and focused to go celebrate my friend and her exciting life change, and be all there for her at this time, but being a wife and mama makes it so hard. I don’t like missing out on so much of the celebrations and I want her to know how much I love her, but I also have a responsibility to my family and know that I can only be away from my little guy for a short period of time, realistically, before he starts struggling.

The Girls Retreat! I can’t believe its that time of year again. These never go quite how I envision, but they always seem to accomplish their purpose. I love to see God work. This year I’m starting to feel a bit panic-y. I somehow feel that I haven’t put in enough focused time with God lately to expect things to go well, but I know this is flawed logic. God will work through and around me despite me, because this is not “my” event, and He always loves to show up and bless those who seek him. Besides, as much as I’d love more undistracted God time, and always try to work toward that, I know that the faze of life I am in makes that difficult, and that I can meet with and worship God in each moment as I go about my day. I still hate feeling unprepared.

Lately Chris and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing our future and ministry and all the things we want to be involved in. There are so many things we would love to be a part of, and needs we would love to help meet. We are praying that God would allow Chris to be able to work from home at some point so we can spend more time serving together as a family. This has been our desire since before we got married – to be able to simply serve together wherever we could, and to make that our life. And yet right now we struggle with that. It seems that life just gets in the way. Chris’ job, Miles’ nap schedule, MY nap sch

edule for that matter (haha). Things like this girls retreat make me so excited, but when they come around I find myself so thankful that it is only once a year. Having a young family is a lot of work, and while I know our family is our primary ministry right now I wish there was more that I could do.

My cousin who has been living in Peru was just here for a visit and was sharing about her life and ministry. The family that she has been living with has three very young children and yet live in a foreign country and head up all sorts of cool programs and ministries. I wonder how they do that. I wonder how I can do that, but also if I should. I firmly believe that my children are my greatest ministry and that I can do just as much to impact the kingdom of God right here in my home as my cousin can in Peru. I know that HERE is where God wants me, and HERE is where He is choosing to use me. I don’t want to miss the opportunities to see Him and serve him that He places in my path each day simply because I don’t think they are big enough or far enough from home. However, I don’t want to limit His plan for me because I don’t think I have the grace to do something bigger. I cannot fathom the depths of His grace, or what He could enable me to do, if He so chose.

 

Here, have a cute picture of my “ministry” eating dirt.

Health and Holiness

April 17th, 2013

My last post was kind of… icky. Well the pictures sandwiched in the middle were cute, but the beginning and ending was icky. I felt I needed to get it all said though, and hopefully it would force me to think through things and gain a better perspective. I have been praying a lot lately about feeling so stuck in my day to day life. Here are the thoughts I have gleaned so far.

I guess it all boils down to focus. I am discovering how wrong mine has been. I have become completely embroiled in the nitty gritty problems of every day life and have begun drowning in the attempt to fix them. It all seems too much. I cannot face it. But really, I’m not supposed to.

Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, being encouraged to go gluten free, and dealing with all the normal ickies of pregnancy, I have felt pretty well drowned in health struggles. My doctor thinks it is best to put any active combating of the Hashi’s on hold til after the baby comes, but I don’t feel that my thyroid dosage is quite what it should be right now. I am tired all. the. time. Ridiculously so. At this stage in my pregnancy I should be having MORE energy, not less, than I did in the first trimester. It seems that as soon as the morning sickness went away I was suddenly so exhausted that I could hardly function. The foggy mind is almost worse. I hate not being able to think. And the gluten thing, ug! I have become so incredibly frustrated trying to figure that out. I don’t even know if it is worth it, or to what degree I need to be off it, or if what I have done is even helping. I have been given so much conflicting information. It seems the only way to be sure would be to go totally, strictly gluten free – aware of any little shred that I might be ingesting and probably even replacing my pots and pans.  This means a total life change. I don’t know how it even works with eating or eating at other people’s houses. I admit I have cried a bit at the thought of having a baby and people not being able to bring me food because of my diet restrictions. I honestly don’t want to face it all and am not being nearly as careful as I should be at the moment. I get so frustrated trying TO avoid gluten, and so guilty if I don’t.

And there are other things, so many other little things that have been blown out of perspective and have overwhelmed me. It probably doesn’t help that I have a cranky, teething kiddo on my hands right now who cries any time he isn’t being held.

I beg God to give me answers with these things, but I have realized this week my focus is completely wrong. My goal as a believer is to draw near to God and pursue holiness. That’s it. That, and that alone, must remain my focus. Everything else is simply a means to that end. It is amazing how much less overwhelming being diagnosed with a disease seems when I think of it simply as a way of drawing even closer to God, or of becoming more set apart for Him. It takes the focus off the “problem” and turns it into a stepping stone. I can handle stepping stones. I am much less overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of such a big diet change when I can simply ask God what would best allow me to draw nearer to him. And instead of eating what I think will comfort me when I am overwhelmed, simply choosing to eat what ever will best equip my body to perform the tasks necessary for pursuing and following after God that day. Simply put, the focus moves from me to Him.

So I am trying to face the tiredness, the fussing, and the decisions with this focus in mind, and purposing ahead of time to ask myself “What will best enable me to draw near?” even when my mind is foggy.

 

April 12th, 2013

I cannot think. I sit here and stare at the screen for way too long. I could give up and do something else like I have so many other times, but I feel a desperation. It has been too long since I forced myself to write, forced myself to express my feelings, actually attempted some sort of higher brain function. I feel that if something doesn’t change soon I will forget how.

Life moves on, oh so fast. The Monkey is no longer a baby, though he still refuses to walk. I can’t say I really mind, though he had better start soon. This kid brings so much spark to my life. He is still as easy going as they come, and full of smiles. As the weather warms he is discovering the great outdoors and is enthralled. I can hardly keep him in at all.

 

Ong Baby Number Two is on the way. I’m nearly half way done already. Can’t believe how fast this is going. Having a little to chase around does make the weeks and months fly. We are so very excited for Miles to be a big brother! I am already dying to know if it is a boy or girl, and I still have to wait another 5+ months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weeks and months may fly but the days, oh, the days crawl right now. I am just so tired, so foggy. I get into a rut of staying home because going out seems so overwhelming, and the less I get out the scarier it sounds and the worse I feel. I know it is bad for me, and I know Miles does better getting out too, but oh, it just seems like more than I can handle. And even if I don’t feel like I can engage people, I need to at least be engaging my brain. Chris and I are working on a children’s book. I could blog, I could read. There are so many things. But most days it seems that I just cannot think. The fog is so thick. I’m feeling trapped in my own body. Starting to feel panicky. I’ve got to push myself to think or I just might forget how.

 

The stages of life are a strange thing. I love my life right now. I love my sweet little growing family. Yet I still want more. I want to breathe. I want to experience it all fully. I don’t want to miss out.

Reflections of Grace

October 3rd, 2012

I have the sweetest, easiest, cutest baby on the planet. Really. He is the perfect child.

 Sometimes I catch myself wondering if we really are super amazing parents and just don’t know it. But then I have to stop myself sharply. Everything good in Miles is a reflection of grace, pure and simple. And any good parenting ability in me is grace as well.

You would think the idea of grace would have been heavy on my mind the past couple months, as I have been struggling with old health issues… again. On those mornings when I cannot get out of bed until 9 or 10, those moments when I’m sure I am a terrible mommy, and those nights when the dishes are still in the sink, supper never got made, the laundry is wrinkling in the dryer, and Chris comes home to find me in tears, those are the days when I should cling harder than ever to grace. Usually though, those are the days when I panic because I can’t do it.  I get frustrated because I want so much to invest in the lives of others but cannot handle my own little life and end up pulling back from people. I fall apart because I’m so scared that I cannot be who God has called me to be and cannot handle the responsibility already in front of me.You would think I’d have learned by now. Really.

I need a reset. I need to stop and purposefully accept the grace of God in my life. I want to be made beautiful by the constant meditation on His beauty, His grace, His strength perfected. Every good thing is from Him. I MUST accept. I MUST embrace.

More of Him and less of me is all that will clean up my mess and give me peace and beauty.

I want my life to be full of reflections of grace.

Marriage and Jesus

September 11th, 2012

Marriage is such a fluid thing. I am amazed by how much my relationship with Chris has changed over the past three years. First, the fear, then the falling in love, then marriage. But since then even more. First there was the honeymoon stage. The constantly wanting to be together, and alone. Being totally wrapped up in each other and living for the time we got to spend together. The time when snuggling on the couch was the happiest place to be. The time when every day was a date and every night was a sleep over. The time when nothing he did could bother me, not really even those socks that were always on the floor or the dishes that never made it to the dishwasher. Who cared? It was my purpose and joy to serve the man I loved.

Chris and I were at a wedding a few months ago and I felt an ache, a longing for those times to come back, when it was just the two of us and everything was so easy and happy.

Pregnancy changed things a bit. I was so sick and so tired. Chris was frustrated at work, and then starting a new job. I didn’t always want to be touched and he wasn’t always as aware of my needs. I felt guilty for not keeping up with the cleaning and cooking as well and for not being as quick to recognize his needs. But life was still good.

Then the baby came. Talk about your world being turned upside down. Miles seemed to take every last ounce of energy and attention I had. I remember crying one night, just a few days after Miles was born, because I didn’t feel like I’d even seen my husband since coming home from the hospital. I missed him and I needed his strong support to get through those rough days, but he was overwhelmed and sleep deprived too. A baby doesn’t mean all hard things, but it does mean an awful lot of change, no matter how you look at it. Our world was no longer just the two of us. There was someone else to think about now.

I started to get more and more frustrated with Chris. Little things, but things I no longer had the time or energy to deal with. I hated being upset with him. I felt guilty.

I had to work really hard to get through that time. I had to pray lots, evaluate and give up some expectations, and most of all communicate with my husband in ways I never had to before. I chose to focus on the good in him, and guess what, once I looked for it there was so much to be found. I was reminded again what a fantastic, funny, loving, selfless, godly man I had married. And he is an amazing father.

I’m thankful every moment of our marriage so far hasn’t been easy. We have grown so much closer together because of it. There were moments when it scared me, but we have grown and that is the whole point, I think. And always, hard moments are there to push us to God. If I married a perfect man I wouldn’t have need of God. Something I always pray is that Chris and I would know and serve God better together than we could separately. I don’t think I originality realized how much our weaknesses as well as our strengths would enable that to happen.

A couple weeks ago Chris and I were at another wedding, Miles in tow. This time as I watched the couple, I was struck by how unseasoned and, well, new their relationship was and I was happy to find how satisfied I am with were we are right now. I love my husband more than ever, and I trust him more than ever too. Our world is bigger than just the two of us now, and I hope it continues to grow as we see more of God. I know we will always keep some of that “newlywed love” but I’m glad for change and growth as well. I think we are happier now than we have ever been.

Marriage is amazing.

There was a time when I honestly would rather have remained single. I saw marriage as okay for some, but certainly not the thing for me. I loved my relationships -with God, my family, and my friends- just as they were. I was so happy with where God had me and I didn’t want it to change. I didn’t want to give it up for something new, untested, and, inevitably, harder.  Looking back, I am glad I was content. I am so thankful I didn’t waste years wishing for a time that hadn’t come yet. But I also wish I hadn’t fought the change so hard.

Marriage, and now motherhood, have made me a much more rounded, mature  woman. It is amazing to look back and see. The stability I see in my life now is amazing. I have learned things I absolutely never would have had I stayed single. I know God now in a way I never could have. Life feels so much more complete, more full. It is good. I really believe God means for most people to marry. Of course there are those He does not, and that is wonderful too! But I know beyond doubt that He does not mean to leave us in that stage of 20-something freedom. We are all supposed to move on and continue to grow up. And it is good.

I am enjoying the experience and wisdom and stability that is slowly growing in me. (I know that sounds quite silly to say at only 25, but I completely recognize it as a process. I’m sure after 20 more years of marriage, or maybe just 2, I will look back and think “What a baby I was!” But that’s ok too.) I am thankful for the hard times and the weakness that has produced so much good. I’m glad marriage and motherhood is hard. It is a good hard, a learning hard. God created us to do hard things. It is fulfilling.

 

I am seeing a growing trend in unmarried Christian girls. High expectations. To put it bluntly, these girls want to marry Jesus. I’m glad they don’t want to settle for less than God’s best, but really, girls? I think this philosophy comes, in part, from the verses in Ephesians that draw a parallel between husbands and wives, and Christ and the church. Husbands are shown to be the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. From this, the conclusion is drawn that the husband is supposed to be Jesus in the relationship. He has the responsibility to model with precision the perfection of Jesus Himself. A girl then begins to hope that the truly perfect man is out there, and begin to build castles in the sky and wait for Jesus to come along, sweep her off her feet with spiritual dazzle, and proceed to live a perfectly selfless life where he edifys and exhorts her in all the ways of God, loves her through all her shortcomings, shares with her in endless joy, as they together serve God in world impacting ways.

It doesn’t work that way. I absolutely believe that a man should aspire to be a picture of Jesus to his wife, and surrender himself to the working of the Holy Spirit to that end, but the wife has the exact same responsibility to her husband. We are all to be pictures of Jesus to everyone we interact with, filled more and more with Him each day.

Another part of this is found in 1 Corinthians and is something I really struggled with myself.  ”There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” And the question begs an answer, if being married would distract me from knowing Him, why in the world would I want to get married anyway? It would have to be a pretty amazing man.

And so the standard is set elusively high and a girl is frustrated and confused, or simply wonders what our world is coming to, when there are no good men to be found.

In reality, God’s purpose for marriage is for two sinful human beings to love and live together in their mutual pursuit of Him. There is so much to be learned from close contact with someone else’s imperfections. There is so much to be enjoyed from life with a still learning man. There is such closeness to be found in pursuing holiness together, and in those moments when you have to exchange “I was wrong”s and “I forgive you”s there is beauty. I am so thankful that neither I, or my husband, is perfect. I am thankful that we can, step by step, learn to know and love God together.

Girls, you already have Jesus. Marry a man.

Little Monkey

September 10th, 2012

How can someone who is so much work also be so much fun? It has really been sinking in for me how blessed I am to be able to stay home and spend all my time with my little man. He makes my days so happy. I really don’t want to miss a minute with him, well, except for the occasional time alone with Chris. :)

Miles is the happiest baby I have ever known. Even when he isn’t feeling good he tries so hard to be happy and he smiles in the middle of crying. He is content to play by himself for long periods of time, loves to simply sit and stare at his surroundings, and gets so excited when someone pays attention to him.  He is becoming more and more active and mobile. His favorite pastime right now is to walk circles around the coffee table and couches. He is way more interested in walking than crawling – we’re still working on that one. This little guy is growing so fast and adds so much to our lives! Love him to pieces.