Changing Seasons

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Photo I took on a road trip to New Hampshire with my mom in 2011.

Here we are creeping closer to mid-September, although it’s still as summer as ever in Florida. Pumpkin spice everything has found its way into nearly every store, and the malls are full of fall fashions despite Mother Nature snickering at her temps in the upper 80’s.

Touchè.

It’s been awhile since I have written, and I blame that on this new season of motherhood, but really, that’s just an excuse. Well, partially. The truth of the matter is that I have been so engrossed in caring for my tiny human (Shiloh) that the little time I do have to myself is usually spent taking care of things I can’t do when said human is awake. (Breath. My life has been a lot like the length of that sentence lately.)

I digress. . .

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I read a blog this morning that a friend of mine shared. It was titled, You’re not Failing, Mama. I don’t feel like I’m failing, but I will read it. It was a great read (I recommend you read it), and it left me feeling inspired to say the least. Fast forward 10 hours, after I’d raised my voice in frustration one too many times at my one year old, and left him in the nursery to explore for two minutes when I heard the cries. He was just playing with books near the closet!

Hubby was in there in a flash while I rinsed my soapy hands off at the sink and hurried in there. “Did he fall off of the glider?” I asked in a panic. We then came to the conclusion that he likely pinched his tiny fingers between the back of the glider and the window sill when he had climbed up on it. “It’s always something!” I huffed as I returned to scrub spaghetti residue from his highchair tray, while hubby consoled my sobbing son.

I scrubbed and scrubbed, soap bubbles foaming and water pouring as I felt water of my own fall warm and wet down my cheeks. And then a thought crept in— I failed my son today. The tears continued to fall, and my inner dialogue went off the beaten path.

I’m not cut out for motherhood. I can’t do this.

I thought back to the blog I had read earlier today, and thought it was crazy that when I have never considered myself a failure of a mother before, I know laid in a puddle of my own tears on the couch feeling as though I lacked qualifications for he job.

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Enter hubby after putting Little One down for bed (part of Shiloh’s reaction was the fact that he was tired, or at least that’s what I told myself). He asked me what was wrong, and the floodgates opened. “I failed my son because instead of protecting him I was concerned about spaghetti stains on his highchair tray!” (Insert sobs and sniffles here.) He laughed, saying that this sort of thing is bound to happen. However, I didn’t feel better.

I laid there, tears knowing no end, engulfed in this season of motherhood that has come like a flood. My son is now a toddler, and he is growing more independent. And I can’t control everything he does. He is bound to get hurt. And my heart can’t handle it. I am too sensitive—too sentimental for this mothering gig. Jesus take the wheel!

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I look at large families and tell myself that it must not be that bad because they keep having more! Hubby and I love watching “Bringing Up Bates,” a Christian family of 19, but even Kelly Jo and Gil (the parents), get super emotional at the fleeting moments. But time marches on.

Thank heaven for the hope of glory in Jesus Christ! I need to constantly remind myself that this world and everything in it is fleeting, but for those who are of the Christian faith, death isn’t the end of the story. No, it’s really just the beginning! I also need to constantly remind myself that children are a gift from the Lord, yet they ultimately belong to Him. Although I want to grip my son ever so tightly, I need to hold him loosely.

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I glance at the baby monitor and see my precious child rubbing his face sleepily as he rolls over and hugs his lovey. “For Jamie (In D)” by Allie Paige streams from my phone making this moment all the more special. A smile creeps across my face as I am reminded that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.

The love I have for my son is only a fraction of the love that God has for me—for you—for us.

Oh how fragile life is, but the One who hung the stars, the One who changes the seasons, the One who forms life in the womb, holds us in the palm of His hand. Thank you Papa, that while the seasons of life may change, You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thank you for your never ending, never failing love.

Here is a song I added after the fact because a friend of mine, Bobbi Blanchard, shared it in a recent blog post she made about seasons that I just came across! It seems many of us mamas are on the same page. Thank you sweet friend for reminding me of this gem. ❤

What “changing season” are you currently in? Are you a new parent? Empty-Nester? Have you started a new job? I’d love to hear from you.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” -Psalm 86:15

 

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Mother’s Day

  

Today is my very first Mother’s Day. I still can’t believe that God blessed me with the miracle of Shiloh. I’m out of town at a resort sitting on the balcony about to check out, but something has been heavy on my heart.

Honestly, I’ve been a bit of a mess. I’ve cried a few times thinking about the wonder of it all, but also remembering the all too familiar sting of pain at the loss of my first little angel. Granted, I was pregnant again the Mother’s Day after my miscarriage, but I still thought about the fact that my little angel would have been 4 months old.

  
Today my heart is heavy for those struggling with infertility. It’s heavy for those who have lost babies. It’s heavy for those who can no longer call their mother’s today to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. It’s heavy for those in foster care or orphanages who don’t know who their mother is. It’s heavy for those who have severed relationships with their mother for whatever reason. Several friends come to mind, and my heart grieves for you, but my prayers continue for you. 

  

When I say God blessed me with Shiloh, I’m not saying you aren’t blessed. We are ALL so very blessed. Some, in different ways than others. But we all have so very much to be thankful for.  

So today, know that you are thought of, prayed for, and loved. Take joy in knowing that you can be a spiritual mother to many. There are so many hurting, broken children in the world. More importantly, never lose hope for the future. 

  

Love

I sit in the stillness of the morning, birds chirping and cicadas singing their morning song. Spring is among us, and green is finding its way across the neighborhood.

It’s been awhile since I sat out here and drank deep of Papa’s love and light. I find myself meditating on 1 Corinthians chapter 13—the love chapter.

I often wonder if I know what love is. I say I love people and things—my husband, my son, my dog—but my words and actions often say otherwise. Truth is, I often find myself responding irritably to my Casey, getting frustrated with Shiloh’s fussiness, and getting down right angry at Dallas for his incessant barking and waking Shiloh when he’s finally down for a nap.

But love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not envy or boast.

It is not proud.
It’s not rude or self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.

It keeps no record or wrongs.

It doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…

How is it that most items on that list I still lack the ability to do? How is it that I can read the Bible, go to church, listen to worship music, sing on the worship team, attend a Christian college (in the past), go through deliverance, fast, pray, etc. but still read this chapter as though it is foreign to me?

Perfection.

Granted, the perfectionism I struggle with isn’t the type people often think of. If you come over, most likely the house will be a mess, I may or may not have make up on, and I may still be in my night clothes. In fact, I hardly wear makeup when going out anymore. It’s not the type that cares what others think of me. It’s the type that cares what I think of myself…

I bought an organization program years ago to help me overhaul the house. I started, but soon gave up. I have “x-ray vision” of my dresser and can see the clothes I need to sort through and organize in there. Each time I go into my closet I’m reminded of the purging/sorting that needs to be done. Clutter stresses me out. I believe I’ve talked about this in another blog, but here we are, circling this mountain again.

As I read 1 Corinthians 13 this morning I glanced at the notes in my Life Application Bible—notes I had already highlighted at some point.

“Much irritability comes from a love of perfection, a deep desire that programs, meetings, and structures be run perfectly. The desire to run things perfectly can irrupt in the anger at events or people who get in the way or ruined that desire. Those who are easily irritated need to remember that perfection exists only in God. We need to love him and our fellow Christians, not the visions we have for perfection here on earth.”

Perhaps that’s why I tried so desperately to get Shiloh on a schedule. Perhaps I was hoping that I could somehow control this thing called parenthood. I read a book called “Spirit-Led Parenting” that really gave me freedom but not completely. If his nap wasn’t as long as “it should be” and I’d be in a tizzy. “Not enough day time sleep will cause over-tiredness and he won’t sleep through the night!” I wanted to be in control or everything, and when I wasn’t, watch out.
Why do I tell you this? I do so because I want you to know that no one has it all together. We are all a work in progress. Some have more work to do than others, but it’s work nonetheless. Thank God for grace and hope! Each day is another chance to make a change. However, we must be careful not to let guilt, shame, and condemnation keep us in the hole of self-pity we may fall in . . .

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.“ (v. 9)

God is perfection. In Him our imperfections disappear. He sees us as a chaste bride. If the creator of the universe sees us this way, can we not see ourselves this way?
I am humbled when I think about the trivialness (I don’t think that’s a word, but it is now!) of the matter. What is an organized house, etc. compared to the salvation of souls? I’m reminded of my post “Purple Stains.” What is vying for our attention? Is it really important in the grand scheme of things?

Meanwhile a text just comes through from a friend who just found out she miscarried. My heart drops and memories of my own miscarriage come flooding back. . .

There are so many more important things in life to spend our energies on than the little things we think are so significant.

Lord, help us to love like you. This broken, hurting world needs more of You and your love. Let us value relationships over stuff, over being right, over EVERYTHING. Help up relinquish control. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

My Birth Story

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Laboring at home

I know several people have been waiting for this, and I’m finally finding the time to write since Little One is FINALLY napping, so here goes.

Every expectant mother has an idea of what they want their labor and delivery to be like. They show up at the hospital, birth plan in hand, praying for the best. Yet a birth plan is just that: a plan.

I had always wanted to have a water birth at home, but insurance wouldn’t cover it. So, I hired a doula, read multiple books on how to have a natural, drug free labor and delivery, exercised regularly, and ate well. I ran my list of questions through the multiple doctors that could be on call when I went into labor. I had everything planned. Or so I thought.

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Dallas comforting mama.

Friday, August 11th, one day past my due date, my water broke at 3:00am. Casey called my doula who had me monitor contractions and came over at about 9:00am. I labored at home until 5:30pm and then headed to the hospital.

They wanted to start me on an antibiotic since my water had broken so long beforehand. I signed a refusal form. I was doing this the natural way.

Hours passed.

Each time they did an exam I was afraid I’d be discouraged by the progress.

I was.

I remember at one point I told the nurse not to tell me where I was dilation wise. I pushed through the agonizing pain, walking around the room, sitting on the birthing ball etc., only to find out I was not that far along.

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More hours passed. I was progressing but VERY slowly. My body was growing weary. There came a time where the pain was so intense, my body was shaking, and I had the uncontrollable urge to push. “It’s COMING!!!! Where is Dr. Den Haese?!?!” I yelled. They legitimately thought I was in transition.

Still 6cm dilated and at station -2… This was after 32 hours of unmedicated labor! The doctor expressed his concern and explained that in his 15 years of practice, mine was the longest labor he’d seen. He recommended a c-section but knew of my desire for a vaginal birth, so suggested I get an epidural and pitocin to try and speed up the process.

I agreed to an epidural. I agreed to the minimal amount of pitocin. Both drugs I had read so many horrible things about. Both drugs I swore I didn’t want and wouldn’t take. . .

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My doula, Rachel Layman, helping me through the contractions before the epidural.

After the pain of the epidural placement, the pain went away, but with it, I was unable to feel or move my legs. They assured me they could turn it down for delivery, as I wanted to feel the pushing—feel the process of my baby entering the world.

Hours passed. Still 6cm and -2 station.

They increased the pitocin to intensify contractions.

Hours passed. Still no progress.

That is when my doctor came in to have the talk with me about a c-section. He once again reminded me that how the baby enters the world isn’t nearly as important as how you raise him or her. He called me a tough cookie, saying most women are begging for an epidural at 2cm dilated but I made it to 6cm (for quite some time). I was tired. I agreed through the tears.

Would I connect with my baby? Would that bond be there since the hormones that are released during a vaginal delivery won’t be released? I had read about all of the complications with bonding and breastfeeding after a c-section. I had skipped over the chapters about the surgery because I wasn’t going to have one…

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At 5:55pm on Saturday, August 12th, Shiloh James entered the world. I remember hearing him cry and tears filling my eyes. My doctor held him over the curtain so I could kiss him. I still didn’t know the gender until my doctor said, “Dad, tell Mom what it is!” (It was in my birth plan that I wanted it this way). Through the tears Casey said, “It’s a boy!” and my tears flowed all the more (I had been hoping for a boy). 🙂 They laid him on my chest and as soon as I was stitched up and taken to recovery, he was handed to me to breastfeed. I couldn’t believe it. Finally, after 9 months, after 38 hours of labor, my miracle was here, and I didn’t have any issues bonding with him. ☺️

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The days recovering from major surgery were long. Due to all of the operations I have had, I wasn’t able to get much pain relief which SUCKED. BUT…I was healthy, and I had a healthy, handsome boy.

When I reflect on my birth experience, and how pretty much everything in my birth plan went out the window, I am reminded of a verse in the Bible:

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

I believe through this experience the Lord taught me that no matter how much I try to be in control, I am not. Thankfully I went into this pregnancy with an open mind that IF things didn’t go as planned and I ended up needing a c-section, I wouldn’t suffer from depression over my birth plan not going as planned. I shed a few tears before the surgery and got over it the minute I laid eyes on my healthy boy.

I had also planned to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible and read books about that as well as the complications caused by giving a baby formula (not always). However, I’m not able to produce enough so have to supplement with formula (granted, it’s organic formula from Germany that is supposedly the closest thing to breast milk). 😉

I have learned a valuable lesson in all of this: hold onto your plans loosely.

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So here it is, pregnancy and infant loss awareness day, and a year ago I was blogging about the baby I miscarried last May, yet today I am writing about my miracle child—my rainbow after the storm. I just looked at the pictures that my doula took of my labor at the hospital for the first time and this was the very last one . . . A faint rainbow just outside of the Women’s Center. How perfectly fitting.

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My perfect little angel . . .

Worship in the Waiting

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It’s been awhile. 😀 There have been times I have been moved to write but let the urging go dormant. I am 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. The above picture was taken at 29 weeks and 3 days. My belly is a LOT bigger needless to say.

I’ve never been so happy to greet August again. It’s the birth month of my precious Babe, my rainbow baby—the promise after the storm. It’s 9 days until my due date, and I am finding it difficult to be patient. I’m so anxious to meet my Little One, yet I know that it’s all in the Lord’s hands, and I must continue to worship while I am waiting. I am praying for a natural birth without any intervention, but I am trusting the Lord with the process. Healthy mama and baby are key.

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I am overjoyed because the Lord has really been doing a work in me throughout this pregnancy. Initially I was gripped with fear of how I will care for a child without the support system most people have, on top of my disability, Casey’s work schedule, etc. Then I began worrying about having the birth I desire in the hospital after running my questions through several of the doctors that may be on call when I go into labor. I broke down in tears three times with one of them . . . Insurance won’t cover an at home water birth or birth at a birthing center. So, I hired a doula who will help me to labor as long as I can at home before heading into the hospital.

Then it hit me . . .

I wasn’t trusting the Lord with all of this. I was frantically trying to have everything in my control, and the thought of it not being in my control sent me into a spiral of fear and anxiety (which of course would hinder any chance of a natural birth). With each day that passes, each day that I choose to worship Him during this period of waiting, I can feel the fear chipping away and peace like a river washing over me. He is faithful. He has brought me through SO much, and He will see me through this. That is key to breakthrough—remembering what He has already accomplished in your life.

The fear has turned to sheer excitement for what is to come! I no longer focus on what I am losing by becoming a parent (sleep, freedom, etc.) but on all of the JOY to come! I can’t wait to see life through the eyes of a child (and play with toys without looking like a weirdo, particularly Calico Critters)! 😀 The best truly is yet to come!

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So, what is it that you are waiting for? Perhaps it’s financial breakthrough. Perhaps it’s a restored marriage. A marriage period. Perhaps you are waiting for a child of your own after many miscarriages or years of infertility. Perhaps it’s a new job opportunity, or a loved one coming to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting a Little One in need of a loving home. Perhaps it’s physical healing . . . Whatever the case may be, know that you are not alone, and that the more you worship in the waiting, as difficult as it may be, the more peace you will receive, and the easier the waiting will become. Trust. It all comes down to trusting the good, good Father that we have. He loves you, hears your every prayer, and hasn’t forgotten you. Worship while you are waiting my friend. That’s all we can do. ❤

 

Hiding Place

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Do you ever feel like you need a hiding place? A temporary escape from the word? Let’s face it, at some point in our lives (maybe several points), we may find the refrain from Ray Price’s “Make the World go Away” playing through our heads.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I need a hiding place. Often times I will just get in the car and drive to no place in particular, tears streaking my face, asking God questions I need answers to. Yesterday was one of those days. It was my “first” Mother’s Day, as I am carrying life in my womb at 27 weeks and 4 days, yet it was the first day fear began to grip hold of me. Will I be a good mom? Will I have meltdowns in front of my child? Will I have the help I need raising this child with Casey’s work schedule and family relationships that aren’t as close as they once were? What about mom’s care and all I do for her?

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The truth of the matter is that yes, I have my faith, but none of us have “arrived” yet. I am a lot better than I once was, but there is always progress to be made. I understand that being human isn’t an excuse to act fleshly, but it takes the pressure off of expectations that we so often place on ourselves. Do I trust the Lord, yes. Am I constantly being given more opportunities to trust Him, you bet.

During my devotional time this morning I was reading Psalm 32 and verse 7 stopped me in my tracks:

“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

My eyes scanned the verse several more times. Hiding place. Protection. Songs of deliverance. The Free Dictionary defines deliverance as “rescue from bondage or danger.” So first the Lord will be a hiding place for us. I think back to when he hid Moses in the cleft of the rock with His hand. In Him we will find protection, and He will proceed to sing songs of freedom over us. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from depression. Freedom from fear. Freedom from guilt and shame. Freedom from whatever it is that is keeping us in bondage. The song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music comes to mind. I know I have shared it in the past (It’s one of my FAVES), but I feel like it needs to be shared again.

“I am surrounded, by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded, with songs of deliverance. We’ve been liberated from our bondage. We’re the sons and the daughters. Let us sing our freedom.”

We have a Father. We have a hiding place. We have FREEDOM. Thank you Jesus. And thank you Mical for sharing this song with me way back when. ❤

Take Courage

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Photo I took Wednesday at Pass-a-Grille beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. The water was so still, so calm . . .

It’s been about and hour and half since my phone rang at 4:20am. Since I have it set to “do not disturb” where only certain numbers come through, I knew who it was: Mom’s nurse at her assisted living facility. She went to the hospital last week after laying on the floor most of the night after a fall. This morning the nurse said she had a laceration on her arm and her knee but was confused and didn’t recall falling. She also told me there was blood in her room on one of her figurines . . . (Mom had called the nurse from the bathroom).

She asked mom if she wanted to go to the hospital and she said no. So, she asked what I wanted to do. I advised her to keep an eye on her and I’d call in the morning (later on in the morning) to check in. I had just talked to mom last night and while she has been having issues remembering little things and I knew she is still sick and weak, she seemed “okay”.

I laid there in bed attempting to fall back asleep, holding my belly, feeling Little One move about, and my mind started going a million miles a minute. I thought about mom and all that is going on with her. I thought about my ankle and the pain I have been experiencing from day-to-day activities. I thought about my baby and the troubles he or she would experience in this life.

Then the Lord took hold of me. (Really, He never let me go.) I kept hearing the chorus of a Bethel Music song run through my mind, “Take courage my soul. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting.”

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I began to recite Psalm 23 in my mind. I began to meditate on the hope believers have in Him. Life is but a test for what is to come in eternity and how we navigate through this life will determine how eternity is spent even as believers, as we will stand before the judgement seat and give account for all we did good and bad (1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 22:12). Oh how I long to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

But I must take courage. You must take courage. Mom must take courage. We ALL must take courage in this life.

And with that, I hear the first bird singing morning salutations. It’s as if he or she is shouting, “Take courage!” May you find the courage you need in the One who is above all things and worthy to be trusted. Enjoy this song, and this day!

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