A Prayer, A Protest

I’ve written before about how I didn’t think about race for a lot of my life—a luxury I didn’t understand at the time.  Having two children with visually obvious black heritage has taught me something different.

I was very aware of the racial differences between myself and my daughters at first, but over time, my day-to-day acknowledgment and awareness have abated because I am just so busy taking care of their daily needs.  I don’t have a lot of conversations related to my children’s heritage anymore, and I have learned to walk away from unsolicited comments or insensitive conversations with my hypothetical fingers in my ears.

Recent events remind me that I need to pay attention.  For my children’s safety.   

I have never hated because of race.  But some people do.

I have never moved into a neighborhood and wondered, “is someone peering out the window with hatred in their heart because of what we look like?” But it happens every day to people who look just like my daughters.

I look at mixed-race families and smile—to me, they look like the family of God.  But to some people, my family is an abomination.

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My innocence to these facts might feel more comfortable, but it’s also ignorant to the reality of what some of our country actually looks like, thinks like, acts like.  This is a country where people who look like me literally wave flags of prejudice—and care more about our right to do so than the sense of oppression it makes our brothers and sisters feel.  I don’t understand the hatred.  I don’t have to live in fear of it, either (and I don’t plan to).  But I have to be aware of it.

Oh, how I want more for our children.

When pondering what happened in Charleston, all I could think of was the interconnectedness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (which is fantastic reading):

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

…Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .’

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, raise us up to be creative extremists in our churches, families, and communities.  Help us transform this stupid, messed up, full-of-potential world into a place that reflects Your love for all of us.

All About Riley

I realized the other day that Riley is almost 11 months old and hasn’t been the solo subject of a blog post since her birth story.  Oops!  I promise, she has had more accomplishments than being born!  It’s just hard to separate her news from Zoe’s news these days, since their lives are so intertwined.

That being said, here are a few Riley-specific updates. (Zoe will make her way into a few of these photos because, well, you’ll see.)

How big is Riley? SO BIG.

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As I type this, she is a week away from being 11 months.  She’s approximately 20 pounds and wears size 3 diapers, 12 month clothes, and 18 month PJs.  People always comment on her squeezable thighs and happy personality.  Many also comment on her hard-to-pin-down ethnicity.  Her skin tone is very similar to Zoe’s now, but her eye shape reflects some of the other aspects of her heritage.  She has a head full of curls, but her hair is finer than Zoe’s hair is.

She has one tooth.  It kind of makes my life.

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She is very affectionate.  Kisses, cuddles, skin-to-skin…she soaks it up, and returns it.

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She had a great run with sleeping through the night, but things change, and recently she has been waking up once during the night about 3x/week.  She has also started to fight her predictable 2x/day nap schedule.  I have learned in my 2.5 years of parenting that the only constant with kiddos is change, so I’m not too grumpy about it.  The Keurig Rivo espresso machine that I got for Mother’s Day mayyyyyy also contribute to my positive outlook (#bestgiftever) and if she gets too fussy, there’s always the option of sacrificing my body to let her get a good nap in.

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She started crawling at 7 months, waving at 8 months, and clapping at 10 months.  I may have made up the last fact because I haven’t written in her baby book since she was 8 months old and it all blurs together.  Anyway, she has no shortage of things to clap about, as her sister has several stage personas and two guitars.

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This is where I want to mention how special it is to have two girls who are close in age.  Riley adores her sister.

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They don’t get along all day every day, but when they do, it’s beautiful to watch.

In other developments, Riley is experimenting with walking (with assistance or a walker).

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She also loves to pull up on furniture.

IMG_4463IMG_4464“Did you miss me?!!”

Her favorite toys are a Melissa & Doug wooden stacker, the play kitchen (the doors OPEN AND CLOSE, GUYS!!!), and balls.  This is Riley’s demure face:

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This is her wild face:

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She says “mama” (mostly indiscriminately,) “hi da” on occasion when David gets home from work, and the occasional “buh” when someone leaves.  Like her sister at this age, her most consistent word is an excited “dohhh!” for our dog.  She loves to wave “hi” and “goodbye,” and (adorably!) will usually offer a goodbye hug!

She still isn’t a great puree eater, but loves her bottles.  Over the last month, I’ve tried to cut her afternoon bottle since her pediatrician told me to start weaning her, and girlfriend was NOT HAVING IT.  As of today, I’ve decided we’re back on the sauce, because I think she’s still hungry without that bottle and I can’t take any additional misery between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

Her deepest and truest food love are the Plum Organics kale and apple teething wafers.  She squeals with excitement when you rustle the package.  Pavlov would be proud.

IMG_4446“Um, mom? I’m having a moment.  Please go away.” 

I would describe her overall temperament as fun, easygoing, independent, and loving.  I think the best description of Riley that I’ve heard is “she is the kind of baby that makes you want to have lots of babies.”  Unfortunately, someone says we’re done with babies (that someone is the smug looking guy in this photo, and Zoe, we’re in agreement).

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Since I have been told that this is my last baby, I’ll try to do a better job of documenting her life from now on :)

Riley is a fun, sweet, wonderful little blessing and we are so thankful for her presence and light in our lives!

A Reminder

A few nights ago, I walked out of my house with a dog and a heavy burden.  My day had begun with 4:45 am wake ups and ended with feelings of exhausted failure.  As my faithful dog and I plodded through the streets of my neighborhood, all I could think of was what I did wrong—what I could have done better—where I failed and where I didn’t do my best.

Then I looked at the beautiful clouds in front of me and realized: those thoughts are not from Him.

God doesn’t love me because I am a good parent.

He loves me because I am His.

In fact, God wouldn’t love me any less if I was a horrible parent.  Even if I was a deliberately neglectful or unashamedly self-centered parent, He would still love me the same.  His love for me is not based on my performance or goodness, but on His.

Parenting feels really important and IS really important, but it’s not all there is to me, and it’s not all up to me.  At the end of the day, He holds my kids and He holds me.  Nothing I do (good or bad) is as important as what He has already done.  And anything good I have done is Him, anyway.

The Holy Spirit is here to help me and encourage me, to coach and guide me and give me wisdom—not to burden me with shame and not to make me walk around with a pile of guilt weighing me down.

The Lord gives lightness.  Purpose.  Direction.  Wisdom.  Insight.  Energy.  Grace.  Love.  Rest.  Yes, He convicts—but always through the stream of those other things.  Anything else isn’t Him.

I just wanted to share these reminders with anyone who may need them.  And remind me too, ok?

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(image source)

Before and…Um, After?

I mentioned about a month ago that I had recently ordered some “powerful” undereye cream.  It was expensive and I usually don’t do expensive, but the haggard look was starting to get old.  I faithfully applied it twice per day and had hoped to post some really dramatic results, but let’s be real: I have two kids under two and a half.  Thus, here is my before:

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and here is my after:

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(Did things get worse?!! Don’t answer that.)

I will continue putting it on every morning and night, because it smells good and something on me should smell good.  But I might retire my hopes that a .5 mL bottle can overpower 46 pounds of 24/7 crazy…

The Waiting and the Harvest

Waiting for something is hard.  Every single day, you look to see if it’s time.IMG_4329But even if you’re ready, it doesn’t mean it’s time.  IMG_4332This is a lesson I’ve been teaching my daughter through gardening.  It’s a lesson I think she’ll be learning for a long time, if she’s anything like her mama.  When it looks like THAT, then it’s time.  Not before.  IMG_4333In the meantime, I tell her, we don’t just sit around.  We prepare. IMG_4337We put in the work.  We pray for God’s blessing.IMG_4338Then one day, it’s time.  And, bedhead and all, we are ready.  IMG_4362 IMG_4363 IMG_4364 IMG_4366 IMG_4367 IMG_4368 IMG_4369Waiting isn’t fun.  But harvest time is sweet.

On Love

I haven’t written anything about our failed adoption in a long time, and as much as I would like to say that my heart is all healed, it’s still something I think about often.  It’s so weird to me that the baby that was almost ours is now 15 months old.  I wonder if she looks like Zoe did at 15 months.  I wonder if she has Zoe’s spunk and zest for life, if she says as many words as Zoe did.  I wonder if she is being cared for in any minimally appropriate way.  I think about her, and I wonder, and I have no answers.

At the same time, I look at my second beautiful daughter—the one I wouldn’t trade for anything—and rejoice.  I rejoice and I marvel and I realize that I couldn’t possibly have the answers.  I only see a hands-breadth in front of me.

Trusting God to work purpose through my pain and entrusting God with someone I love are among the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Yet that is what we are called to do everyday as Christians and as parents and as life-livers.  The things we grasp tightest didn’t originate with us.  Loosening our hands and lifting them up with thanksgiving and trust is the only response that will free us to truly enjoy them.  You can’t own or earn grace.  You just live in it.

The same is true for answers.  You can’t own or earn them either.  Sometimes, you are given them, and sometimes you just live in the mystery—and that is still grace, although not always in ways you appreciate.

With that perspective, it feels trite to try to understand: “if it hadn’t been for Brianna, we would have never been in the adoption process and we would have never gotten Riley!” because really? If God wanted us to have them both, He would have made a way (thankfully for my sanity, He did not make this happen).  I’ve found that adoption makes you wonder what God really intends as plan A and plan B and I am increasingly hesitant to speak for God on these matters.

But what I do know is this: despite the pain, loving Zoe, Brianna, Riley, and their birthparents has been a gift and a privilege.

We are meeting Riley’s biological family this week for lunch and I am so excited to look into her birthparents’ eyes, give them warm hugs, and hear—really hear—how they are doing.  I am thrilled to show them how our child is growing and developing and how she claps to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  I am nervous to see my parenting reflected through their eyes; I am hopeful they think we’re doing it well.  I am not new to this, so I know there will be some awkward moments and some lulls in the conversation where we don’t know what to say next. But I also know there is a gift of grace that binds us all together.

Glennon Dolyle Melton writes about her conversation with her young son after the death of his favorite fish:

“When he asked me, “why, mom? Why does God send us here where things hurt so much? Why does he make us love things that he knows we’re going to lose?” I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer.  Loving people and animals makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways.  Even if people and animals leave, even if they die, they leave us better.  So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us.  And that’s what we’re here to do.”
–“On Fish and Heaven,” from Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts On Life Unarmed

I am thankful to have had the chance to love and to learn about love from these people.  It has made me stronger and weaker in the right ways and I am better for it.

Mother’s Day Thoughts

Every Mother’s Day weekend, I get a little weepy about the amazing blessing of being a mom. I’m beginning to realize that the hard work might not ever go away and that there might always be parts of my day as a mom that are mundane and duty-driven instead of fun, but still, my overwhelming feeling is that being a mom is a a get-to, not a have-to—and that being a mother is one of the most amazing journeys I’ve ever been on.

Here’s one example.

A few nights ago, Riley began wailing around 1 am.  I rolled over, looked at the time, and foggily prayed, “Holy Spirit, comfort her and help her go to sleep.”  Immediately, I felt a rush of energy and heard inside myself, get up.  She needs your comfort to fall asleep.  The voice reminded me that she had rejected her 6 pm bottle after eating a minimal dinner, and instructed me, She’s hungry.  Go feed her.  Then she’ll fall asleep. 

I made a bottle, walked into her room, and was greeted with delighted baby sounds as I picked her up, changed her diaper, and sat down to rock and feed her.  She guzzled the bottle, then lay in my arms as she cooed her baby words of thanks and gratitude.

I couldn’t put her right back to bed.  The moment was too sweet.

And as I sat there rocking her, I was struck with this realization: I had asked the Holy Spirit to put her to sleep, meaning do it for me so I can keep lying here.  I’m so tired.  

But the Holy Spirit wants something better for me then a good night’s sleep.

The Holy Spirit hears every prayer I pray.

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The prayers for my daughters to have a secure bond with us and for them to know how much they are loved.

The prayers for the ability to lay myself down and serve my children with humility, sacrificial love, and willingness.

The prayers for parenting wisdom.

For me to know how to meet and serve my husband’s needs.

For insight into my children’s needs.

For growth and maturity in my faith.

For the ability to find joy and purpose in even the mundane moments of life.

To help me submit to God’s plans for my moments, days, and life.

The Holy Spirit weaves all of these prayers together with the needs and prayers of others, and then gives me opportunities to live out what I asked for—to have that insight and wisdom, to sacrifice, to show love, to submit to God’s plan for my 1 am (and 5:40 am, and…)IMG_4404
I can choose to roll over and ignore the opportunity, making my prayers meaningless and my growth non-existent.  Or I can choose to embrace the opportunity, and be given abilities and insight and wisdom beyond my own.  (Not to mention that my actions can also be used in ways I don’t even understand by God! Who knows what He does on a cosmic level with my daughters’ sense of self when they realize “I call and someone answers,” “I don’t understand my own emotions but my mommy can help me,” or “I can be forgiven even when I had a morning full of bad choices.”) 

Gloria Furman writes that motherhood is full of “calls to worship,” adding “if we have ears to hear these invitations, then we have opportunities to worship the Lord, who is nearer to us than we often realize.”

I would add that the “calls to worship” of motherhood have opened my eyes to the inadequacy of self-sufficiency…and my ears to the One who says, “let me help you.”

Yes, motherhood is full of challenges.  But i do not want an easy life.

I want a meaningful life—a life of growth and adventure, passion and purpose, joy and peace, maturity and authenticity, love and humility.  These do not spring up overnight or through exclusive pursuit of my own self-interest; they are cultivated over time through joyful surrender to the processes and paths that the Lord desires for me.IMG_4406

C.S. Lewis writes, “We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the ‘intolerable compliment.’ Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be.

But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”  (The Problem of Pain)

Admittedly, as I was writing this post this afternoon, Riley woke up from her nap earlier than expected and I said in my nicest voice to her sweet nine-month-old face, “I guess you kids just don’t want me to have any hobbies or complete a thought ever again!!” As my embarrassing sarcasm reveals, it is so hard to surrender all the time (it’s even hard when you’re writing a blog post about why surrendering is ultimately good!)

But I put the laptop away and tickled her and played with her anyway.

Because I choose to respond to the call to worship.

Because that is the kind of person God is making me to be.

Because every “interruption” is actually part of the best get-to of my life.

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Musings on Church

There was a boy who came to youth group, just because a girl invited him.  He had nothing else to do that night, and she invited him, so he came.  The leaders were friendly and the kids were friendly and over the night, his tentativeness turned into laughter and his hesitance into participation.

And when the night was over, the leaders and some of the kids said “are we going to see you next week?” and he said, “this happens every week? Is it here? Same time? Yeah, I think I’ll be back!”

And he was.

That night, the youth group was focused on planning “Youth Sunday.”

So a week later, he helped the youth group lead the congregation in worship.  He hadn’t been to church in a long time and didn’t understood much of what was going on, but it was “Youth Sunday”—and he was a youth.  He stood with the other teens and sang with the congregation.  He wore a Youth Sunday t-shirt.  He passed out bulletins.

He was back the next week.  That week, he signed up to lead a middle school mission week later in the summer.

That night, the girl that invited him asked me, “do you think it would be okay if I bought him a Bible? He’s asking a lot of questions and I don’t know how to answer them all. Oh, and did you know he signed up for our high school discipleship trip this summer?”

And I smiled.

In high school, I attended a church where you couldn’t sign up for summer trips without providing the trip leader with your written statement of faith.  Youth Sunday was the work of a small group of teens with polished testimonies and sterling reputations.  When I tried to make friends in the youth group, I was gossiped about for being “too popular” and having “too many friends at school,” with the dramatic punchline “and most of them aren’t even Christians!”

I’m glad I’m at this church now, with these Christians, with these non-Christians.

I’m glad I serve a God who is big enough to be glorified by the worship of a kid with no clue about His magnitude—only that he feels something and wants to know more.

God welcomes us extravagantly to the table that is set for all.  And although I did not set the table, it is my joy to pull out chairs for others and tell them I hope they stay for dessert.

The Miracle in My Mailbox

A few minutes ago, I walked out the door for my usual afternoon chore: dump the full diaper pails in the trash can.  Check the mail.  Nothing exciting.

But in my mailbox today, there was an envelope from the Social Security Administration.

Inside, there was a card.

There was her name.  Riley Grace Ourlastname.  There was a number.

And then there were my tears.

After a year and a month’s worth of paperwork, this was the last detail for my last daughter.

Three years ago, when we started Zoe’s adoption process and began what would become nearly three years of continuous paperwork, I read the book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore.  He writes,

“Keep yourself from being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all this paperwork by seeing it for what it is—a labor for the children God is calling to be yours.  You are kind of like Jacob of old, working years of arduous labor for the permission from her father to marry Rachel.  For Jacob, the years of work ‘seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her’ (Genesis 29:20)…imagine that Jesus himself is asking you to fill out that stuff, and do it with joyfulness and gratitude.”

I fully embraced that philosophy.  All of the work and i-dotting and t-crossing has been part of our calling to find and love these girls and make them part of our family.  And it’s over.  And they’re ours.

And it still all feels like a miracle.

I couldn’t fill out enough paperwork to earn the right to hear these girls call me “mama.”

It’s all His gift.

Thank you, Lord.

“Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness…let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  –from Psalm 150 

Where I’ve Been

I didn’t mean to disappear for almost a month, but that’s exactly what happened.  Zoe was sick, my family came to visit for a week, and writing professionally and editing others’ writing professionally seems to kill my interest in sitting at a computer and writing during my spare time.  Lent also impacted me a lot more than planned (more on that to come) and oh yeah, I have two kids and they’re both MOBILE now.

AHH!

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(As a side note, this post will feature even more gratuitous photos of my cute kids than usual because I have a MONTH to catch you up on.)

To begin, I want to finally admit “out loud” that having two kids so close together is way more work than I ever thought it could be.  There are so many joyful moments, but I do not think I would use the phrase “tons of fun” to describe the last 8 months.  Perhaps “overwhelming,” “surprised I didn’t die,” and “just ordered powerful under-eye cream” sum things up better.  As each one of David’s and my parents have independently observed when coming to help, “wow, someone always needs something.”  

It has been hard to hang on to the Sarah that isn’t just a need-meeter, but a person with her own needs and interests.  Sometimes I have done a good job of planning and anticipating my own needs, and sometimes I have pushed past them and wound up angry at everyone else.

Thankfully, I am growing and learning at the same time as my girls, and I feel like I am getting a little bit better at taking care of myself.

Here are some of the things that have helped me be “Sarah” lately.

Sleep.  I mentioned a few months ago that we were starting to sleep train Riley.  I am overjoyed to report that after 6-7 weeks of effort, the plan worked, and my big girl has slept through the night almost every night since.  I go to sleep with a smile on my face now knowing that I will probably sleep from 9:30/10 until at least 5 am.  SLEEP IS THE BEST.

photo 1-11Kisses for sleep.

Joining the Jazzercise studio down the street (and using its childcare).  Zoe adores the kids’  room, prays for the childcare worker and asks to go every day.  Riley hates it.  Too bad. I’m going 3-ish times a week, which gives me 3-ish more hours per week where I don’t have to be in charge and instead get to listen to cool music and get my cardio dance on.  Awesome.

Walking the dog: Thanks to the later daylight patterns brought on by Daylight Savings time, I can now walk our dog alone after putting the girls to bed.  I watch the sunset, clear my head, enjoy the silence, and/or call a friend.  It’s a great 15-20 minute exhale.

Working.  I’m busy and I’m good at it, and it makes me happy.  As a bonus, David and I now meet at Starbucks to work together one afternoon a week (which reminds us of our sweet college selves and is a great investment into our “fun away from the girls” tank).  When I’m not at my Starbucks office, this is where the magic happens:

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In related news, I dream of a designated office space…

The girls’ babysitter.  She brings craft ideas for Zoe and even folds our laundry, which keeps our house going and lets me have some rest time in the evenings.  She is the best.

A continued break from social media.  I did not rejoin Facebook or jump into daily blog reading after Lent.  My free time is very limited, and I have realized that I want to spend the little time that I do have on activities that really, truly refresh me or that bring me a step closer towards the person that I want to be.

During Lent, I read 6 books and reconnected with my love of reading the news.  I made nice lunches for myself during nap time instead of eating Zoe’s leftovers.  I reached out to friends more often via phone or text because I couldn’t just open my news feed and know what they were up to.  I found myself more productive with my work time.

I want to be a lifelong learner, an aware citizen, a person who honors herself, an intentional friend, a productive and focused worker—and I feel GOOD and refreshed when I do these things.  Many people can use social media responsibly, and I may return at some point, but for now, it’s just too much information to process and respond to, and is not the most valuable use of my energy or time.

photo 4-9After all, it takes a lot of energy to direct this motorcade.

Riley’s nap time.  Thanks to the sleep training program, Riley now takes a 1.5-2 hour nap every morning.  At first, I resented this because it basically chains us to the house.   After complaining for a few weeks, I felt God pressing on my heart that these mornings are my best opportunity to teach Zoe and fill her little love tank with one-on-one attention.  With that perspective, I’ve grown to love and cherish this time.  We planted a few container gardens, and we water and check our seeds’ growth every morning.

Zoe gardenAfter checking on our seeds, we play outside, read, do crafts or a workbook that I got for her, clean the house (“mommy, I do dust pan”), play with her dolls, build roads for her cars, etc. Throughout our time, I engage her in uninterrupted conversations about her feelings and viewpoints.  I feel our hearts connecting, and I’m so grateful to God for giving me the perspective that this is a time to give my best to instead of wish away.  One of my biggest desires is to be an intentional mom, and this is my chance to do this with Zoe.

Honesty.  I’ve really been working on being more honest with myself and with God about my feelings.  More to come on this in a later post, but here’s one snippet of that honesty:

When I got married, I knew that marriage (and eventually, my role as a parent) was a commitment to something deeper than my personal feelings of happiness.  Parenting a toddler has challenged me to understand this principle on a new level! It is NOT all fun and it does not always make me happy.  But I am learning to emotionally detach from the tough moments—because they are fleeting and not intended as personal attacks anyway—and lean in to the good ones.

Girls in the backyard

An older woman once walked by as I loaded a defiant Zoe into the car while wearing Riley and said, “I remember when my children were exactly their ages.  Those are such great memories!” I literally cried right then and there because I was so glad that someone who had been in my shoes looked back and remembered the good things first.

That’s my goal!

The last 8 months have felt hard, but I can see where I have grown and gotten it right, too.  I can’t go back to a stage of life where things felt easier and I can’t skip ahead to a time when my girls’ needs will be less intense; instead, I’m doing the hard and worthwhile work of learning to be Sarah where God has planted her now.

IMG_4207And I’m thankful to have been planted here.