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Actions before Words

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I began the journey of parenting with the challenge to myself: my children are unique from me with personal goals and hopes and joys.  To forget this and sweep them along in my own life with my own interests constantly coming first would be a large disservice to them and to our family as a whole.  The more we bloom individually, grow personally, the more we can encourage each other’s uniqueness and live together in unity, simultaneously remarkably peculiar.

 

 

 

 

Of course, this phase of life is barely beginning because I quickly realized my child’s only goals are to be near me, taking part in what I am doing.  She began crawling so she could follow me around the house.  She began standing to hug my legs.  Tiny Human chased after sharing my daily personal agenda.

 

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When I wash dishes she sits on the counter stirring soapy dishwater happily.  When I cook she takes part or removes utensils from her cooking drawer to mimic me.

 

 

While I sweep she shadows me, dust pan in hand.  Gone are my days of dancing alone in the kitchen.  Now a little person toddles in with raised hands, begging, “Pls, pls, pls!” to join in.

 

The other evening I took a brief break from the dishes to sing a song on the piano.  As I returned to my work, I looked over to see Rainee, on tiptoe, one foot outstretched for the pedals like an awkward turkey, playing and singing her heart out.  It has never struck me so deeply how my every beauty and inconsistency is on show.  And she is taking it in and adopting it as her own.

 

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Now praise the Lord that He will work through the constant errors that I’m sure to make as a parent and use them for His glory in our children’s lives, but never before have I been so challenged to examine myself to catch the errors that she will accept so willingly.  Any hint of entitlement or compliance in gossip.  My willingness to extend grace to my husband before her because he can more eloquently express his emotions.  Putting comfort before the gospel.  Failing to admit my frequent shortcomings humbly.

 

 

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Last week Rainee and I were grocery shopping together and interacting with numerous strangers (as is prone to happen when you have a smiling baby in your cart).  As we waved goodbye to a kind elderly lady, I started to inform her to be kind to everyone who crosses your path for even a brief moment, because it can make a world of difference.  Instead, I was caught up in the challenge personally.

 

 

 

 

And honestly, that’s where it begins.  The frequent examining of my heart, actions, and motivations.  And it’s really hard and uncomfortable.

Get a jumpstart on me, whether you’re single, married, or parenting.  I can guarantee someone is looking up to you and mimicking your actions before your words.

 

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Dear Rainee Mae,

I wonder what your first memories of me will be.  Hugs and books?  Nighttime words lulling you to sleep and tender face strokes?  Singing by the piano?  Laughing outside?

As you begin to piece together a picture of the world around you, you’ll piece together a picture of your momma.  But remember, dear girl:

Before your momma was this:img_4185

Before she was a momma, she was this:

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But before she was a wife, a lover, a homemaker, she was this:

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A girl who sat on her porch deep into the night, trying to put words to music.

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A girl who felt incredibly lost at times, amidst betrayal, mistakes, heartache.  A girl who hid pain too frequently.  A girl who fell into depression and bad habits.

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A girl who clung desperately to Truth, fell on her face in the middle of the night in prayer, studied hard to find hope.

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A girl who woke with panic attacks and suffered with insomnia over issues she couldn’t quite sort out in her head.

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A girl who loved and was loved.  Who snuck into the woods at 2 in the morning to talk out loud to a good God.  Who wrote, composed, expressed in any way possible.

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A girl who was foolish and wise often.

 

As I reread the journals I wrote, I continue to see the jottings I left behind for you.  How I hope they resound in your heart when you feel alone.  My deepest prayer is that you know the hope of our God who loves you more than you could possibly imagine, that you are spared many of the bumps in the road your mother has seen, but if you face them that you let me cry with you, love you, and walk beside you, never putting me on a pedestal, but seeing me as a progress of grace.

 

This girl looks at the look in that past girl’s eyes and it feels so alien.  Because the Lord brings you so far.  The Lord grows you so deeply.  The Lord shapes you continually.

This thing called life is a messy, disastrous blessing.  Praying for your years even now.

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Loss

I’ve started writing this about 10 times in my head and each time I start to cry and have to stop.  Nothing in life prepares you for loss, especially not losing a child.

 

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I drew this the day before we lost our baby.  It was part of my accepting and processing this news that seemed too good to be true, this child we had prayed for.

Nobody explains the weight in trying to conceive.  Questioning if you’re doing something wrong, if there’s something wrong with you.  There was one day when I sincerely felt I was failing in every part of my life, the internal dialogue went:

Perhaps this is hard because I’m still nursing.  But weaning isn’t an option right now.  I’m such a bad mom for even considering doing that to her when she’s still so dependent.

I bet Derek feels overwhelmed and heavy from watching this effect me.  I’m a horrible wife.

Maybe we aren’t pregnant because I’m not trusting God’s timeline.  I’m failing Him.

It’s a cycle of lies and blame.

 

Watching your friends get pregnant while you wait, your newsfeeds full of everything your heart desperately desires.  I feel guilty and selfish wanting another child when we’ve been blessed with one child already, which is much more than many have been given.  But my heart yearns to see my little girl interact with a sibling, like so many of my dear friends.

 

I’m not writing this to give you fear.  I’ve prayed frequently that would not be the case.  Trust your Father God.

 

 

I’m writing this because I want to celebrate this little life, despite it being cut short so quickly.  God gifted us a few weeks with our baby.  From the beginning we recognized this child as His.

I’m writing this because it’s hard.  It’s so hard.  I cried more in those first 24 hours than I’ve cried in the past 3 years.  You have to grieve and grieve well, letting go of part of your family and all the dreams and hopes you had for your child.  Derek and I spent an afternoon holding each other and crying, listening to music that lifted our hearts, and praying.

 

I’m writing this because if you are going through something like this, I want you to know you can talk with us.  You can cry with us.  You can pray with us.   I know that so many have experienced years of infertility and multiple miscarriages and my heart breaks with you.  I don’t know who you are but I’m praying for you.

 

And I’m writing this because of the beauty that we are made in His image and we are made to HOPE…and it’s so easy to lose hope in times like these.  And in those moments when you can’t hope in anything, don’t stop hoping in Him.  Pray Romans 15:13.  Have someone pray it with you.

 

Remember: You were not made to be broken, you were made to be whole.  This pain feels so unnatural because you have an eternity ahead of you of complete joy and wholeness where you will fixate only on your perfect Savior.  Don’t lose hope.

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I’m SERIOUS about my playlists.  My most common lists are: Driving, dancing, or Rainy walks and seasons that deserve playlists are Summer, Christmas, and fall.  But out of all my playlists, Fall is the most serious ever.  Seriously.  You don’t mess with the fall playlist.  It’s also Derek’s fav. SO.  I thought I’d share it!  (Also before it becomes much, much longer.)

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I threw it into a youtube playlist since spotify recognized 6 out of these 38 songs and youtube only disregarded four of my (favorite) tracks.  *siiiiiiigh*

 

 

For me, Fall is a time of looking back on fond memories and dreaming about the future, introspection, and long walks.  A lot of these songs have been special in various seasons of life and the majority are filled with memories that D and I have made together!  Enjoy!

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Another one about Anxiety

This is my blog after all.  I can write about the same thing over and over and over if I’m still learning about it, right?

 

I started thinking about anxiety again after another anxiety attack recently.  I struggled with attacks as a teenager which I totally believe were largely raging hormones.  Since pregnancy and this postpartum year I’ve had a few hormone based anxiety attacks, entirely different from anything I’ve experienced.  I feel them coming 30 seconds before they arrive, a blur of unsettling shapes and a fuzzy taste in my mouth.  This is different from the anxiety I take control of, but I CAN seek support from someone outside of it, a person with their feet firmly planted on reality to talk me through those short moments.

 

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This is what I’ve been learning recently.  If you haven’t heard Grace Point’s wonderful sermon series on anxiety, give it a listen. (http://www.gracepointparadise.com/downloads)

Anxiety is a process always looking for content, seeking to suck up your thoughts into a whirlwind of doubt, mistrust in a sovereign God, and a fixation on the worst possible scenarios.

As silly as these scenarios might seem, they’re things people struggle through daily.

 

Instead, fix your thoughts on truth.  I choose where my head goes.  I choose to thank God for everything I can think of and my mind is soon grounded in truth and the faithfulness of God.

 

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such thing”

 

 

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A letter to Rainee Mae

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I remember the day I found out you existed. Two days after a routine doctor checkup where I timidly asked for a test because I was CONVINCED you were there. My disappointment when the answer was, “No,” and my feeling silly two days later that I just had to take a test for myself. And there you were, all along. I just knew.

 

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I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, tears in my eyes. In that moment I had a million hopes and dreams for you, my dear.

 

I couldn’t focus the rest of the day, purely giddy, pacing irrationally, even calling the doctor and explaining two positive tests. “Like, should I get a blood test? What should happen next? Like, how do I know this is real?” and she was all, “False negatives happen sometimes, false positives, rarely. Two positives? You’re pregnant.” Then it was a waiting game for Derek to get home, a battle of impatience as he dawdled around and I realized if I told him immediately he wouldn’t be able to focus that evening on a dear guest coming shortly who needed some love and attention. So I waited through the longest evening and a dear friend who would not FREAKING LEAVE.   I can’t help but laugh now, thinking of us saying goodbye and him standing by the door still talking for HALF AN HOUR, me silently exasperated.

 

And then, finally, I could tell him. We laughed and cried and just held each other and dreamed and wondered if it was real life. We were so in love with you even then.

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It was hard to keep you under wraps when we were so ecstatic (and I was SO sick.) Some nights I ate dinner three times and threw it up each time. You made me hate coffee and despise mornings even more than I already did. Each Sunday I read your growth achievements out loud and Dad and I marveled over the handiwork of God and cheered you on. Some nights I was so miserably sick I asked D to lay a dry washcloth on my pillow so I could just cry. But boy, you were worth it.

 

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That first moment I felt you wiggle in the middle of the night, like a little bubble against my side…right after eating hot wings. I lay awake for hours, in awe, hoping for another little moment with you. And then the day you wiggled as I sang to you. I cried. And then the night D felt you for the first time…wonder and awe and tears. Your little wiggles became excited, energetic hourly wiggles, and you hiccupped constantly….we hiccupped together.

 

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I knew it was worth it when I felt you wiggle, felt you respond to us.

All the times I cried for 30 minutes over nothing but hormones…worth it.

The aches and pains….worth it.

The waddle and the way I had to “starfish” out of bed at the end…worth it.

That time my grocery bag broke, cracking my pickle jar open before I could purchase it, my eyes filling with tears in the middle of Aldi because I was a huge pregnant stereotype…worth it.

That false call where we went into the hospital at midnight and got home at 4am, sad that our arms were still empty…worth it.

Those hours of intense labor, everything out of focus except for the realization of pain and D coaching me through breathing…worth it.

 

When you arrived with the storm, so alert, so vocal, in your own time…oh, you were so worth it.

 

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So we celebrate you and this first wondrous year, souls incredibly full with thankfulness. For the hearts you’ve touched and the people we’ve been able to minister to through doors only you could open and love only you could give. For all your achievements and all our adventures together. For the fresh perspective you give as you experience and treasure this beautiful world. For your good health then and now.

 

 

And most of all for the way you’ve changed us. You made us parents. You deepened the capacity for love in our hearts. And you thrust us towards our God, whom we could do none of this without.

 

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Happy birthday, my Rainee Mae.

My wish for you is that you love Him deeply, be a kind human, chase dreams and logic simultaneously, and enjoy the littlest of things.

Cheering you on.

-Mom

 

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Some of my fondest memories of marriage fall in those last few hours before we close our eyes together every evening:

-sitting on the bathroom floor deep in conversation, realizing an hour has past since we went in to brush our teeth.

-jumping on the bed, wrestling, being young and goofy and crazy and strange.

-heartfelt conversations in that tiny space between our pillows.

 

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Last week we were moments from sleep when I turned to D to voice my fears.  It had been a wonderful evening of dreaming together over projects we wanted to complete in our house: starting our raised garden, being inspired for artwork I had been creating to cover our little old house’s battered walls- yet as I lay in bed and daydreamed, I realized I was scared.

Scared I was falling into the “american dream” of a pretty little house with a pretty little fence.  Scared that I would provide a sense of entitlement to my kids.  Scared that I was growing wrapped up in the temporary.

I prefaced my fears with the fact that we have a desire to bless the people who enter our home.  “Groceries” is the only flexible category in our budget since it means we had oodles of people being fed in our home.  We want a place that is welcoming and comforting,  aplace where people feel rejuvenated.  And I love to “arts”.  It feeds my soul and gives me energy.  But where is the line in “living here” but not “living for here”?

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Derek hugely encouraged me that night in saying we’re far from there, but then he went on to say something hugely encouraging to me.  God is a creator.  And we are made in His image to create.  It’s a gift.  A HUGE gift, and we’re meant to take joy in it.

 

As I thought over this again tonight, I plumbed the depths a bit further…God created the world for His glory, yes, but He clearly had us in mind as well.  His heart for us is so apparent in the beauty around us…and this is so gorgeously astounding.

 

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Tonight I was again staring at Rainee, thinking out loud to Derek how crazy it is that God gave us any little part in helping to bring her to life.  (We’re totally going to be that old couple elbowing each other in our kid’s recitals and talent shows, giggling, “We made that!”)

 

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God is a poet.  A romantic. An artist.

 

 

 

 

But to sum it up….

Go out and “arts” something, and thank God for creativity and wonder and beauty and the opportunity to model His heart.  It’s not a waste of time.  It’s a gift.

-T

 

 

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