This morning has been a first-time-in-over-three-years kind of morning. I’m up, and miraculously nobody else is…and it has been at least 30 min…maybe 45.
So I did the only thing that made sense – I had a prayer time in peace and quiet. FANtastic.
And then I realized it is Thursday, which is my dedicated blog day that I have missed 363 out of 364 days this past year. So I thought I’d share my prayer time with you!
Today’s word is brought to you by the number 2 and the letter C 🙂
2 Corinthians 9:8. “And God is able to fill you with every good thing, so that you may have enough of everything at all times, and may give abundantly for any good work.”
May the Lord bless you and keep you in your good work today, whatever that may be… even if it feels like what is pictured above: you are behind the wheel of a fast moving vehicle, driving with your feet…with the door open….down a hill.
But now that you have this here scripture in your back pocket for the day, I’m sure you could manage a smile too 🙂
My absences from the blog have been very, very long. I am indeed sorry for them. But I am also certain that this trend will not be changing in the near future. Rest assured that I think of you often as I keep up with the posts that my fellow mama-bloggers are writing – and most importantly that I take to heart the things that are being written. I am delighted to have the taking-of-things-to-heart in common with you.
I have been trying to focus and narrow what I want to write about…and to (maybe!) possibly…perhaps try and write a shorter post for once. Maybe. So I tried to look past the moments and experiences and all that we have had going on in life to find the common thread that is weaving through all these things. I found it! It’s mercy. Continue reading →
I am deciding today to just dive into this post with where we are at as a family right now. I thought about delaying the post and writing when I had more stories, evidence, conclusions…more time….(are you laughing at me? Because I am laughing at myself!).
Let’s just plunge into this post, shall we?
Where are we right now: We moved half way across the country just days shy of 9 months ago. We have been living with wonderful friends (family, actually, because the bond we have all formed is thicker than blood) who have done nothing short of laying down their lives for us. We barely knew these spectacular people when we moved in with them (a story for another time…that I think might become a book some day). We are still working with the Lord to find a house get into the house under which we have a contract…(more long stories that involve us learning far more than we ever wanted to about the inner workings of city permits, gas and DOT companies and much, much more…). We never could have imagined the challenges that this move would bring, and the process is definitely not over. Our daughter, Sweet Girl, just turned 5 (someone please pick my jaw up from the floor and explain to me how babies turn 5 the say after they are born???) and is in her first year of school. Our son, Little Man, is 2 and lives outdoors in the chicken coop whenever possible.
Before moving we were very far from family and had very few, but very close friends. We didn’t have Sweet Girl in school because we suspected a move might be on the horizon and we knew it would like come in the middle of the year. Life was in one sense a lot simpler, mostly because we had very few commitments, but it was also very challenging because our support system was hundreds of miles away.
The last year before the move was particularly challenging for me because we hit the end of the 3s and the beginning of the 4s with Sweet Girl. There is a series of books by Louise Bates Ames that covers each age/stage that children go through, highlighting where they are in terms of growth, how they have changed in the past year, what is unique to their current age and gives advice on how to handle the changing and growing. As with any book on parenting, I don’t agree with every word written but I find these books really helpful developmentally speaking, and I find that they demystify things for me. They help me to feel less frustrated about the changes that come and go in my children because I find myself less caught off guard. I was, as a wise mom-before-me put it, finding myself outside of the honeymoon phase of parenting Sweet Girl. She recommended Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful. I knew just by the title that this was a must-read for me, and it really helped me make it through the gap of time where we could not put our daughter in school even though she was more than ready. In other words, it helped cut the negativity that I felt was starting to color our relationship and helped me to fill her love cup.
Filling the love cup/tank is a phrase that I have run across a number of times now in articles, posts, etc. It refers to a child’s emotional fuel tank. “Their emotional fuel is the attention, connection, and nurturing they receive from the people they love.” – Pam Leo. Pam, from the Natural Child Project, highlights how attention is good and helpful, but connection happens through truly engaging children which then strengthens emotional bonds. I have seen this to be true time and time again with Sweet Girl. And I am no expert. Nor do I feel like I accomplish the filling of the cup the way I wish I could on a daily basis. But that’s where you, people of our life (!), come in 🙂
Since moving we have gained the family mentioned above, which means my kids gained an extra sibling in an instant that I did not have to birth (fist pump!)…but given that we are 9 months into this adventure and all its challenges, I sometime wonder if birthing might have been easier…ha! My husband and I have gained the opportunity to go out more than once in a blue moon because we now have an arsenal of babysitters at our finger tips We have gained a small, tight-knit school family that we are getting to know and love very much, and a city that has so much to do we will never exhaust all that is available even if we live here for the rest of our lives.
People! Love cups are being filled left and right and it’s not all on me! Do I hear an Alleluia chorus?? Can I get an AMEN?!
Babysitters fill love cups when they play the exact game with the exact rules that Sweet Girl invents on the spot, and they do so with even more excitement and enthusiasm than Sweet Girl. I am telling you, I cannot fill that portion of the cup.
School fills love cups because teachers are Sweet Girl’s heroes and they love her no matter what every.single.day. They see things in her that I don’t see. She let’s them see things about her that don’t come alive at home because the teachers bring new life from her wild and wonderful little self. School, by definition to Sweet Girl, is “a big building full of the most friends of her entire life”. She could never spend too much time at school. She hopes, with all her love-gushing-heart to marry two of her classmates and her favorite part of the day is lunch (without fail. every.single.day). Overflowing love cup, right here folks!
Time with mom, or as Sweet Girl calls it, Mommy-Sweet Girl time definitely fills the love cup in a special way. I also find it the hardest thing to accomplish on a daily basis with school, Little Man, naps, meals to cook, cleaning, and all the things that happen in a day that you all are oh-so familiar with. This is definitely cherished time, and often happens when Little Man naps. When I finally realized that I (personally, this may not be for you) needed to give that time to Sweet Girl and stop trying to reserve it for myself (at least some days of the week), we both (almost instantly) became happier, more loving, more cooperative – yes, both of us. I realized I was either making the time to spend together (because she doesn’t need to make the time – she is ALWAYS ready!) or we were left dealing with the emotions of a cup unfilled.
Arts and crafts fill Sweet Girl’s love cup. This could be at school, during mommy time, babysitter time, or sometimes even on her own if I set things up for her. She has a lot of favorite things she likes to do. In fact, life is her favorite. She will tell you that everything about her days are great and wonderful. But if I could highlight something that really fills her cup in a day, with the exception of being with friends, it’s being creative. Now if she gets to be with friends and be creative, well then the cup overflows!
Daddy Dates. These excursions and adventures fill the love cup in a unique way that I really can’t put into words. I fell in love with my husband in part because of his amazing left-field humor. Laughing, especially in this family, is a very powerful way of connecting. And no one can pull this off better than Daddy. My husband tries to take Sweet Girl out on his own more than a few times a year. They often go out for breakfast and then to a book store. Reading is one of “their things”. The latest adventures in reading include comic books, especially Calvin and Hobbes and Star Wars. If Daddy loves it, Sweet Girl loves it more. For this we fill up a whole case of love cups, no problem.
I could go on and on with examples of how I have seen the love cups filled, and I am sure we are just scratching the surface. The love that others have for my child helps me to help her to fill her cup. W
I say cheers (clink!) to filling the love cup one (or one thousand!) connection(s) at a time!
How does your family fill love cups? I wanna know!
Finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Lemony Snicket. This is for you, Sweet Girl!
“…I will love you until the bird hates a nest and the worm hates an apple, and until the apple hates a tree and the tree hates a nest, and until a bird hates a tree and an apple hates a nest, although honestly I cannot imagine that last occurrence no matter how hard I try. I will love you as we grow older, which has just happened, and has happened again, and happened several days ago, continuously, and then several years before that, and will continue to happen as the spinning hands of every clock and the flipping pages of every calendar mark the passage of time, except for the clocks that people have forgotten to wind and the calendars that people have forgotten to place in a highly visible area…”
“He fits under my chin. Thank you, God, that he still fits under my chin.” Those were the words that sang forth from my heart the other night as I was falling asleep, listening to Little Man take to rest like it is his job. Because at long last it is.
My son is almost 2 now. I can’t believe it. I have no idea where the time has gone. Much of it has been a blur. I know that is true for a lot of moms, but it was a blur that I could not have fathomed or imagined even if someone had tried to prepare me for it. A true whirlwind that has challenged and changed me in ways I didn’t think I wanted, and that I resisted.
As I hinted at in my last post, my pregnancies tend to be rough. I love the feeling of being pregnant, but for whatever reason my body doesn’t handle the first 25 weeks well at all. Since my son was my second pregnancy I thought there was no way the sickness could be more severe than the first. I held on to that thought as the first weeks of pregnancy crawled by. I kept telling myself I can just decide not to be so sick. But I couldn’t. It was worse. The sickness was more severe, and I felt defeated at times. I couldn’t care for my 2 year old. What have I gotten myself into?
It was a really hard 20 weeks, but we got through it with so much prayer and wonderful help that came (from miles away) right when we needed it – not early and not late. Just what we needed when we needed it. When I hit the 25 week mark and rallied (at last!), I clung to the thought that “most people say second babies are more laid back. Easier. Chill.” Yes. That sounds wonderful. And so I hoped for that.
Little Man came along and he was wonderful. He is all things wonderful. Family life was once again new and even more delightful, but he was far from the second baby that “most people” have. He was harder than my first; needed more than my first. But he was oh so sweet. These hard things will work themselves out, I thought. But in many ways they didn’t. He didn’t take to longer stretches of sleep. His weight gain was fine on the charts, but knowing that I was feeding his ever 1.5 hours day and night – long past the newborn stage – he should have had more to him. I started to lose the feeling that “I can do this”. He would scream, I would feed him, he would fall sleep – for a little bit and very rarely for hours on end – he would wake up screaming, repeat the cycle. If we got in what I considered to be a ‘good feeding’ without him completely passing out, he would (often) vomit all over me.
I was in such a fog from lack of sleep and caring for my daughter as well, and I was so consumed by meeting Little Man’s needs that it took me until he was 4 months old to string all those details together and realize that there was more to the situation than these things just being ‘who he was’. And besides, wasn’t he looking a bit thinner? I would ask others. I asked my pediatrician. Nope, on the charts he still looks fine. He’s fine. I would breathe a sigh of relief. Next minute Little Man would scream again and I would look at his tiny little body. No, he’s not fine. There is less to him. Can anyone else see this?
Not too many days later, I was taking in some reading and I ran across a post by Mommypotamus about tongue ties and lip ties. Before I even finished the post, I knew this was it. This was it! And it’s not normal. I had cried out to the Lord and he provided, just as He has every time. In fact, upon reading the article I realized that he had provided before that moment. It just took me a while to catch on. It was not the first time I read the article. I had come across it weeks earlier, still having failed to put the pieces together thinking, “Thank God! At least not dealing with this! That sounds so rough….whew.” And as I thought further, I remembered the lactation consultant who came in the morning after Little Man was born. Little Man was nursing with great commitment, which to me made it seem like everything was going exceedingly well. The consultant asked me outright if I thought maybe he had a tongue tie. I said absolutely not! Do you not see how eager he is to eat? Don’t worry, we’ve got this.
Fast forward a week after reading the post on ties, and I was right back in the office of that same lactation consultant and she was gently guiding me and helping me sort things out. We identified that Little Man was very tied. He had posterior and anterior tongue ties as well as a lip tie. That poor guy was so tight and restricted that whatever compensation we had used to nurse through the first 4 months of his life was not going to work any longer. The lactation consultant referred us to a dentist and myofacial specialist hours away from home. We were able to Skype for consultation and have Little Man’s procedure done by the time he was 6 months old. It was quite traumatic, but yielded almost immediate results.
With rehab, both at home and a few sessions with a PT, we finally got into a groove with nursing somewhere between 9 and 12 months. There were some really dark moments for me. I had moments where I was convinced that being a mom of 2 was somehow beyond me. Moments of near desperation. I felt so alone and isolated. Though nursing greatly improved, sleeping never did. During these months I was up a lot at night, which meant I would spend a lot of time thinking. I would think about my pregnancy….I had never wanted to know the feeling of being so human, so imperfect, so dead-set against enduring what was put before me in order to welcome life into this world. I would think about my desire to have an ‘easier’ baby…I didn’t want to know what it was to feel so torn between a toddler who still genuinely needed me to be so very present and an infant who was in some sort of agony night and day. I would think about the fact that I didn’t want to know how to navigate a rough, and seemingly impossible nursing relationship with my baby. I didn’t want to know how to do these things. But I do know how. And initially these experiences seemed to carry a darkness with them that I was afraid would cause negative shadows to remain in my experience of motherhood, breeding fear and discouragement in the face of adding new life to our family down the road. Thankfully, “when life feels like a mess, there’s something we can do.” Many around me listened, shared, prayed and listened some more. I have also been able to help others identify tongue and lip ties in their new babies. Bit by bit the shadows have been lifting.
Well, life has chugged along, and now we are in a new city transitioning into a new way of life. When we arrived I was still nursing almost-2-year-old Little Man. He wasn’t ready to stop and I wasn’t about to force that on him when we fought so hard to get where we were with nursing. We have been living with friends and sharing a sleeping space as a family. Little Man’s traditional waking of 3 times a night became 5 times a night after the move. After 3 months I just couldn’t do it any more. I had approached weaning him once before moving and once after moving. Both experiences which sent him into sheer panic and anxiety. It just didn’t feel right. We went back to nursing. However, just two weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I was asking the Lord to help me find a solution to the sleep/nursing combination. I just couldn’t figure out how to wean him peacefully.
I had glanced through an article just the day before where the writer recommended that if one was ever to wean a child before the child chose to be weaned, wean gently. Gently. That resonated with me. But I thought I had been gentle in my approaches before, and they hadn’t work. Back to that night two weeks ago….The Lord nudged me to start right then and there…in the middle of the night….and to aim for 24 hours. So I began. Little Man was crying. I told him there was no more milk. I told him I was so sorry that was so upsetting for him. I told him I loved him a hundred times over and I held him for the rest of the night saying that any time he wanted to be held, I would drop what I was doing and hold him – really hold him – until he was done being held. He cried some, but I could see it in his face that somehow he understood. 24 hours turned into 48, then into 72 and the longer he went without nursing, the longer he slept both at nap times and bed times. He now takes solid naps, sleeps through the night, and eats way more food than I ever thought a Little Man his size could eat. And best of all we hug a lot. I hold him a lot. A lot of brief, fleeting moments, but they are such sweet moments.
I have noticed that when Little Man hugs, he hugs with all that he has. He totally buries himself into me and exhales so completely that all his cares in the world blow right out of his little body and he is at peace with me in that moment, just needing me in that moment. Curled up in a Little Man ball and tucked under my chin.
We have been through so much and we have moved on from most things ‘baby’, but when he comes to find me and I drop what I am doing, he tucks himself right under my chin. Thank you, God, that he still fits under my chin. And I plan to soak that in for as long as he will let me.
I regret that I have not been able to write consistently… I have had a terrible time formulating posts amidst the giggles and grime of keeping up with the kiddlets. So I finally decided to go with what MC said in her previous post and get some life on this here page. AND to top it all off, I am writing this, in part, during my prayer time. Yep. Me and Jesus, typin’ together. Sometimes I really struggle with what to do during my prayer time. I like to mix it up…I don’t stick with one method for too long…and this can lead to difficulties with indecision. So I going with what Sheila described in this post about actually making a decision. And it feels great. Onward!
One thing that has been on my mind a lot is that my life as of late: life surrounding marriage and motherhood has seemed to follow a progression that in the eyes of…I don’t know…those who have gone before…. is not highly recommended if one wants to be able to keep it all together. Have you ever heard that it’s not the greatest idea to do all the following within a year: get married, start a family, make a major out-of-state-away-from-all-family-and-friends move to start a new job and buy a house? Mmm. Hmmm.
You see, when I hear a list of such things, I have to laugh to myself because the chronology of marriage and family life shows my little family to be among the ones who regularly ‘break the rules’. This has, in turn, caused me to think about “the rules”. There are excellent reasons why all of that is not recommended, and yet that is sometimes just how life goes. I know we are not alone. I have many friends who have gone through similar situations, and it seems to often happen to the people I know and love when they let the Lord take the reigns on life. Sometimes I look back and wonder how in the world we made it through those times. But truly there is no question in my mind – it was the Lord’s guiding hand and never failing strength.
When my husband and I were engaged the Lord put it on our hearts, independently, to move half way across the country. So we discerned the desire and started praying for direction and applying for jobs. Marriage happened, and then pregnancy amidst suspected infertility (a true miracle to be shared at another time). With pregnancy came hyperemesis gravidarum, and just as I got over that came out-of-state training for the new job (where I could not live with my husband). Our daughter was born right in the middle of training and then we were assigned to Oklahoma….not at all where we intended to live – or where we initially thought the Lord was calling us.
But you see, when I look at that account of how our life together progressed – down to the very day certain things happened- I see a list of prayers being answered. One thing after another being ticked off the list. And not only that but I can reflect on those moments and see growth. I had to trust the Lord more than ever before during those times. I had zero control over every major part of life: Our living situation – didn’t have our own place to live the entire first year of our marriage and until after our daughter was born. Finances – due to hyperemesis I suddenly had to quite working. Our future living situation – my husband being subject to assignments. My role in the family -could we afford to have me stay home with the kids? Healthcare for myself and the baby was very last minute – I had to switch providers in the last weeks of pregnancy when my husband started training and we went through about a month without any insurance at all. I couldn’t even guarantee that my husband would make it to the birth without losing his spot in his training class (another story of miracles), and I was unable to live with him at the end of my pregnancy or for the first 8 weeks of our daughter’s life. I learned a lot about letting go. A Lot.
We certainly ended up in some of those situations by asking the Lord to work and change things for us – they were things that we knew we would go through in order to get to where we felt the Lord was leading us. But we also ended up in surprising situations through the cascade of events that followed the things that were expected.
I am currently reading the book Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. Philippe talks about accepting the situations that you find yourself in that are not within your control – in particular, accepting difficulties/suffering.
He says, “The subject needs to be handled carefully. It is not a matter of becoming passive and learning to endure everything, without reacting. But whatever projects we have and however well we plan them, many times situations that are beyond our control and involve a whole host of events contrary to our expectations, hopes, and desires occur, and we must accept it.” Furthermore he goes on to talk about not accepting grudgingly, but freely resigning to and welcoming the situation, aka ‘choosing’ it even when it might truly be that we have no choice – which is of course especially hard in really painful trials. Philippe talks about how it requires following the Lord in faith and hope, and truly “believing him capable of drawing good out of whatever befalls us…” That if we can follow the Lord thus, He will draw out the good. Philippe calls this a fundamental truth.
As I have read through the book, I have really felt that Philippe’s words have shed great light on why it doesn’t matter if our family life follows the ‘rules’…and even more so that the ‘rules’ are the very things that don’t matter. What matters is that my husband and I are seeking the Lord and discerning His will. What matters is that I continue to offer my life and the control of it to the only one who has any control over it. It used to make me feel uneasy and out of control knowing that we were tackling so many things at once, and that there never seemed to be any slow-down to the things that needed tackling. But I am finding now that I have more confidence in navigating the challenges of life knowing without a doubt that I am doing what the Lord has for me to be doing. Did you know that you can be 100% confident about such things? I feel I am constantly seeing that truth burn brighter. Additionally, it is true in every situation that I mentioned above – good or bad – easy or hard – that the Lord has indeed brought about good. Mentioning all of the good would take several posts at least!
Now, I would not say that I have really experienced any truly painful suffering – especially compared to what I have witnessed others going through. This post is not at all to say that I feel I have the ‘choosing’ of difficulties and sufferings down by any means. In fact, I am currently finding myself challenged in a huge way as we have moved half way across the country (again!) with two kids this time…3 months ago…and we still do not have a house…and school is starting in 2 weeks…and I want to choose to accept these challenges – to embrace them! I find myself wondering how to do that from day to day…or if I am doing it…A work in progress. Always a work in progress. One step at a time, mamas.
I hope you find this encouraging! Anything to add? Please post below!
Whoa Nellie! It has been weeks since I have written. You see, we have been in the process of moving half way across the country. Every step of the way we have been very well cared for and blessed beyond measure. Even still, moving (as I am sure most everyone knows) is a chaotic adventure. I would liken moments of it to “walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” (Lemony Snicket, Horseradish)
We only brought with us what we absolutely needed, and are living in a lovely temporary situation with our friends who are transforming their home into an urban homestead. There are (crazy) chickens and rabbits that will be birthing on Friday while the kids and I are the only ones home! I have studied to be a Doula in the past, though, so surely I can assist a birthing rabbit…right? Right? (Gulp!). Say a prayer, will ya? Continue reading →
“ There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.”– Astrid Alauda
I LOVE my brothers. I do. Truly. They are among my best friends. I am the only girl among four boys, and I am second in line. We lost the brother just younger than me when I was only three. It’s my earliest memory as a child, and it certainly impacts our sibling dynamic. We may not have all had a chance to meet him, but we all know him, each in our own way. On top of delighting in my brothers, simply because they are my brothers, I treasure my relationship with each one – even the one who is no longer here with us…or should I say – especially the one who is no longer with us.
I have been spending a lot of my thought life dwelling on my love for my brothers lately. Continue reading →