Children, Christianity, Parenthood, Uncategorized

Wake up, You Sleepy Head

sleepI love this picture of Rowan as a tiny baby. He looks so peaceful, asleep in my mom’s living room. Amazing that he could do that with everyone sitting around him, staring at him being adorable just by breathing.

God is always asking me to get out of bed before I feel ready. This has been going on for years, and sometimes I’m very diligent about it, whereas at others I hit snooze or forget to set an alarm in the first place.

But over the last week or so I’ve been getting even more of those messages from Him. At church this week the pastor made a passing comment about rising early, and then later that day I read it somewhere again, not even in connection with God, but with the same message of getting my butt out of the bed before the last possible minute.

Now, I’m an early riser anyway. It’s not as if I’m throwing on a sweatshirt and grabbing the kids a granola bar for the road as we leave for school each morning. I always get up, get ready, put on makeup, make them a good breakfast. Each and every school day. On days off my oldest and I may snuggle a bit, but the little guy generally demands milk, so I’m not sleeping in.

But what does all that sound like? It sounds like me. I get up early so that I can look good. Preparing the kids’ breakfast doesn’t take that long, really. The majority of my morning routine is spent in front of the mirror if I’m really being honest.

So Monday I tried something new. Nothing groundbreaking, but a test-run of sorts. I got up when my husband’s alarm went off at 6am, leaving me about 45 minutes of quiet time before my oldest came running into the room. I didn’t put on makeup or change out of pajamas. In fact, I only brushed my teeth and then got back in bed with my bible and devotional.

But listen, Monday was a GOOD day. I didn’t have any meltdowns or moments of huge stress. I was even able to take the kids to Target, come home and make lunches, and put them down for naps without too much fuss on their part or mine.

Did God give me some kind of epiphany for taking the time to rise and meet him, as I was? Not in any lighting bolt, dramatic fashion. But I think maybe he did in a “gentle whisper” kind of way. This is what your days can be like if you give them to me. This is how you could mother if you allow me to nurture you first.

But guess what? Each day has been more and more of a struggle to grab that time. Monday was easy – I didn’t have to take the kids anywhere. I didn’t have to put on my mask so that humanity wouldn’t freak out over a bare face. But the world tells me I need to cover these dark circles and blonde lashes, so I do it.

Today I read 1 chapter of the bible while nursing my son. Griffin back-talked me after breakfast for one of the very first times, and I didn’t respond as I know I should have.

Would the outcome have looked different if I had gotten up with enough time to start my day with God? I’m not sure. But maybe I need to do more than a 1 day experiment to find out.

 

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Christianity

Migraines…Again

I’ve been silent in the blog world lately, and not for no good reason, either. The monster that constantly lurks in my shoulders, neck, and head has come out in full force, attacking me on a daily basis. What I’ve come to realize though, is that I have been unwittingly feeding it for quite some time. And all that food has made one heck of a beast.

Stress is what gets me. Tension. Worry. Anxiety. You name it, I start doing it the moment I wake up. But instead of letting all those little niggling fears and worries roll off my back, I dwell on them. I allow them to sink in, telling me who I am and what I’m not (a good mother, wife, daughter, friend).

Sounds melodramatic, huh? It is. But it’s something that happens automatically. Here’s an example:

This morning I was making breakfast for Griffin and Jeremy. We were all in the kitchen, having a relaxing Saturday morning. Two pans were going with different styles of eggs, the kettle was just beginning to boil, and Griffin was squealing with delight at some type of kitchen utensil Jeremy was letting him explore.

But I didn’t see the joy in it.

I was stressed because one pan was cooking too slowly, and the other was beginning to burn. The kettle was whistling but Jeremy hadn’t yet cleaned out a cup. I still had to wipe down the high chair from yesterday, and Griffin’s screams were translated into frantic calls for food. I couldn’t take care of it all. Internally, I was telling myself that I couldn’t handle all the noise, the activity, the stress of a Saturday morning breakfast with my family.

What lies!

It came to a boiling point (the situation, not the kettle), and my wonderful husband sat me down at breakfast and talked to me about it all. We discussed the fact that my shoulders and neck were now aching, threatening a migraine (which would be almost 14 consecutive days of headache). I knew, of course, that part of the problem was my allowing Satan to get into my head and feed the monster massive amounts of the food it liked best.

Now certainly there are times when a migraine comes on for no apparent reason. Many times in the last two weeks, in fact; no amount of massage or medication has been able to prevent an afternoon of solitude with ice packs and darkness. But by and large, it’s gotten out of control because I’ve allowed Satan such a foothold when it comes to fear.

I fear that I won’t be able to do enough, be good enough, be smart enough.

My migraines are tension/muscle related. The tension is caused by stressors, and the stressors are caused by types of fear. That fear is certainly not of God. With this in mind, these migraines can be healed!

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That’s not to say I’m not going to specialists and getting to the bottom of this serious problem. God may be able to heal it, but I have to be proactive. It’s effecting every aspect of my life, including school and motherhood, my two “jobs”. On Monday, I have an appointment with someone that works for the Tennessee Titans – he knows all about serious muscular conditions. I’ve also resumed going to Acupuncture each week, and have visited a Neurologist (although I’m still in the market for one that would like to resolve the issue and not simply medicate me).

But the thing that worked the best today wasn’t any of the above. It was yoga. The volume on my computer got turned down as I did one of my favorite online videos, and worship music was cranked up full blast. I took a que from Mandy over at She Breathes Deeply, and allowed God into my tight places. As I breathed, I consciously thought of my neck, shoulders, and head, asking him to work there and rid me of this debilitating fear – the root of the problem.

And you know what? Today is the first day in I can’t remember how long that I haven’t taken a migraine pill.

Books, Fairy Tales, Parenthood, Writing

It’s the Wonders I’m After

Three weeks into my class this semester, and I am already feeling hopelessly behind. Not because of the workload my professor has placed on me, though. It’s completely my fault. I simply want to read everything ever written on the subject.

The class is a Folklore and Fairy Tale Survey. As soon as I read the first book, I knew I was done for. Now, after meeting privately with the professor and discussing where I would like to see this class take me, I’ve purchased everything I can find on the subject. Amazon boxes are being shipped to my house in twos and threes each day. I truly cannot get enough – so much so, that I am seriously contemplating a doctorate in this particular field.

Chapter 1There is something about folklore that resonates with me. Perhaps the stories are in my blood, passed down from generation to generation and still echoing as I read them from a book. My ancestors most likely sat around a fire, telling each other these exact same stories. Who am I not to give them the respect they deserve? They will most certainly outlive me.

FairylandAs for the class, we are also reading some modern day fairy tales – current books written for adolescents with a modern day twist. The Sisters Grimm is a great example, with girl detectives as the protagonists. Currently I am tearing through the pages of Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making. A lengthy title, yes, but a deep read, as well. When first opening the cover I had no idea that I would be rereading certain passages just to take in their full meaning:

There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood….It will be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.

I had to put the book down at this point last night. That passage rocked me to sleep and gave me dreams of the wonders I’m after in my own life. Parenthood is one of those wonders, certainly. And there is blood on a daily basis. My heart bleeds as I love more fiercely than I thought possible. It gets ripped in two when my little boy hurts from bumping his head. I bleed and constantly take a beating, but all the good things in life will cause this.

Fairyland2To live a life that full of passion, people will inevitably wonder what form of crazy you may have. Why you would choose to bleed for a cause, a lifestyle, or a goal most wouldn’t ever think of attaining. That’s what motherhood has been like thus far. That’s what Christianity is supposed to be like, as well.

I am far from where I need to be in either of these aspects of my life, but it’s the wonders I’m after, so I’ll keep striving and fighting.

I have a feeling this course is going to change my path. Perhaps it will lead me to that doctorate. Maybe it will only allow me to see things with fresh eyes. Either way, I am so thankful to be allowed to take this journey, no matter how hard and bloody.

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Christianity, Parenthood, Travel

Overwhelmed

A friend of mine is currently working with patients in Africa. She is on the cusp of beginning her residency and wanted to take some time to help another society and gain alot of experience in the process.

I read her bi-weekly accounts on her blog and can’t help but feel completely useless in comparison. But it’s not because I’m not over there. It’s because of the stark difference between my circumstances and that of the children and mothers there.

SONY DSCI want to help them. I want to feed the distended bellies and comfort the crying children I see in those pictures. Children that remind me so much of my sweet, tiny child who currently lays in his soft bed and laughs at the bright pictures above his head.

His stomach is full, yet another meal is shortly on the way.

His clothes are clean, but he will be putting on a daytime outfit before we see his Nonnie today.

He is happy and healthy, but I worry about what toys will be the most productive for him to play with.

I am spoiled – we are all spoiled. But as my friend has found out in the harshest way possible, “We will always have the poor.” God pointed this out in the bible, and it can be seen today in the fly-infested eyes of modern Africa. She is over there trying to help, but all she sees is more and more misery. The hospitals do not have the equipment they need. They aren’t sanitary. But even apart from that, the mothers of these children cannot take their babies to get help, because the husbands are gone for months at a time attempting to provide for them. The equivalent of 6 dollars could save a little boy’s life, yet it is impossible for the mother to attain that money.

ShackI want to give. Yet aside from physically going there and putting the money in her hand, I have no way of knowing if my money will actually help that dying child and his sister.

Accounts like this force me to realize what a blessed life I have – and how cliche it is that I’m even talking about it. I don’t want to be a cliche, though. I want to make an impact. I want my child to grow and impact those around him. To do this, I have to pop by comfort bubble and raise Griffin to know more than Nashville, TN.

I will teach him to be acquainted with life’s realities, and together we will learn how God will use us.

Baby, Christianity, Home, Parenthood

A Day of Dedication

Two Sundays ago we dedicated Griffin to God among family and friends at our home. It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve had with our little boy.

DedicationThe entire day seemed as if it truly had been set aside and blessed. Griffin’s naps were long and sound, he woke smiling and laughing, and when the guests arrived he presented the very best side of himself. Even during the actual dedication, he looked as if he really did understand what was going on. He knew we were doing something very important, and that he was a big part of it!

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Dedication2It meant so much to have such a big group of people come and support us in this. We wanted the day to be all about God and family, and couldn’t have felt more blessed when almost every single person we invited RSVP’d.

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Decor

Decor2Our friend (the very same person who married us almost four years ago) gave the blessing, presenting it in a way that was both relatable and completely unique. He took verses from the bible that were special to Jeremy and I, and used them to present a message regarding Jewish customs and the rites of passage for young men. Our life verse, Isaiah 61:3, was also featured. We are the trees of righteousness, and Griffin is becoming rooted and grounded, as well.

CakeWithin that message, he also gave a challenge to each person present – that they write Griffin a letter for his 13th and 18th birthdays. In this letter, they would discuss this day of dedication. He also recorded his message beforehand, so that Griffin would be able to listen to what was spoken over him when those birthdays arrive.

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FoodThe house looked beautiful and the food was delicious. These photos are all actually up on Project Nursery, where hopefully it will inspire others who are thinking about planning a baby dedication. But this day was definitely centered on something much more lasting than hors d’oeuvres.

MomsI’m so glad we chose to do it this way, and not simply take him up front at church for a brief prayer. I’m also really glad that we waited until he was a little older, so that he could be a part of the day and not stare into space in between naps. This is certainly something we will repeat if we ever have any more children!

You can rate the dedication on Project Nursery here!

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Christianity

Becoming a Worthy Vessel

We long to be fruitful and multiply.

What is profitable (meaning that which is productive, worthwhile, FRUITFUL), is not always comfortable. In fact, I would venture to guess that’s the case for most people. The good works that we do cause us to think of someone besides ourselves – cause a loss of selfishness – a loss of “self.”

I picture the Word when I think of this. The Word that spoke and illustrated to us that before Christ could use the temple for His good works, He had to first rid it of impurities. He overturned everything within sight, flipped it upside down and drove out everything but the good. There wasn’t much left after that.

I am that temple. He is currently cleaning house inside of me – making pure so as to make fruitful.

As this happens I can feel it. I can feel the bad fighting to stay, grasping at my thoughts and causing me to become afraid of the changes – to rethink the good works that Christ has predestined and entrusted me with. Sometimes I even throw a childish fit in my attempt to retain the routines and viewpoints I’ve mistakenly tasked myself with. I’m like a child that can’t give up their security blanket, a kid that doesn’t want to give up their baby tooth even with the knowledge that a more permanent, stronger tooth will take it’s place.

But His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And as He continues to empty me, to mold me, to strengthen me, to ENTRUST me – I know the result will be a Worthy Vessel. A vessel with the potential and capacity to be filled with whatever He deems worthy of the Kingdom.

Receive my adoration. You speak ancient Words over me, and although my limited vocabulary may not understand, I will be obedient nonetheless.