So Noted

I was a little sad and worried about something this evening and David was at work, so I took Zoe for a walk in her stroller and called five people in quick succession.

None of them answered.  (Well, my sister did, but she was on her way into a job interview.  Good luck, sis!)  

I came home dejected and wondering who I could talk to about my problem.

And then, I felt a little nudge: Um, hey.  It’s God.  I’m here.  Have been for a while now.  I have better advice than your friends and care even more.  Just let me know when you want to talk.  I’ll be here all night…

Duh! I was so annoyed that I hadn’t thought of this earlier.  So God and I had a talk and I felt my sadness and anxiety being lifted and carried by Someone stronger than me.

And then He had my friend Jess call me anyway and give me support and encouragement and accountability.

And then He pointed me to these words:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes?

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

He knows what I need, and He can figure out what that is before I can even articulate it. Seeking HIM and HIS kingdom first is the fastest route to peace, contentment, and right decision-making.

So noted, God.  So noted.

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Life Lately

A few bullet points about life lately:

–This weekend was awesome—three of my college friends flew across the country for a girls’ weekend!!  I love these girls so much and was so thrilled to introduce them to the little one who has stolen my heart.  Plus, my husband rocks and took my pre-trip conversation with him VERY seriously:

Me: “Now you know, they’re coming here for a GIRLS’ trip.  I don’t know how to say this, but just keep in mind that it’s a GIRLS’ trip.”
David: “Yeah, it’s going to be so fun! I can’t wait to hang out with them!”
Me: “Yeah…if we invite you.”
(Silence)
Me: “Because it’s a GIRLS’–”
David: “Ohhhhhhh! I get it.”

He took his cue, left us to our girly devices (unless we invited him,) and went above and beyond with Zoe care so that we could have plenty of “older” girls’ time! It was so fun!

IMG_0638(What a hunk!)

Of course, we spent PLENTY of time with Zoe, too!

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I’m thankful for friendships that don’t just survive change, but encourage growth.  When I’m with these girls I always feel comfortable and accepted as I am AND supported and encouraged into the woman I want to be.  They are gifts.  And they read this blog, so thank you, sweet gifts!!!

–Also, it felt so strange to say goodbye to them today at the airport and think, “well, back to the work week” and then realize that my work week is now hanging at home and caring for our little one.  I don’t have anything deep to say about that, but…yeah.  It was weird.  And notable, apparently.

-On that note, I’ve gotten a few questions about working part time.  It’s been going splendidly so far! I’ve been averaging about 8 hours per week, mostly from home.  I check email every day and work two afternoons a week when David is able to flex his schedule to watch Zoe.  I am able to do the bulk of my work when I have childcare, but Zoe has been to the office, has participated in a few conference calls, and even sat through her first webinar during an RFP announcement.  I had to commemorate the moment:

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Clearly, she thought it was scintillating.

I look forward to my work sessions all week, and I think that working helps me be a better mom because I get to use different skills and don’t feel like I am solely sucked into a childcare vortex all the time.  Full disclosure to other moms considering PT work–the downside is that I end up using the times when David has a flexible schedule as “work time,” which means I don’t really get “me time.”  To me, it’s worth it, but I am very interested in my field and love my job, so that probably won’t translate to everyone.  BUT for me it’s working and I’m so happy for the extra income and opportunity!

–One of the reasons I felt like I needed to stay at home was because I felt like God was calling me to continue in and expand my ministry with the girls in our youth group (there was no way I could have done that with my old position.)  It has been SO amazing to watch Him work in the time He has opened for me.  I may have left my old position, but I haven’t stepped away from positive youth development work at all! You can find teenage girls at our house several afternoons a week now chatting about life, faith, boys…whatever.  I LOVE IT.  Bonus: no classroom management skills needed.

–I have been EXHAUSTED for the last week.  It turns out I was coming down with a cold. Usually when I get sick I’m all like, “whatevs, I’ll push it” but today? I got some grocery essentials and now I’m just hanging at home praying Zoe naps well (so far, so good.)  Since we’ve had Zoe, I’ve unintentionally lost some weight (not a ton but enough to make most of my pants unwearable.)  I’m trying to stop that trend and take better care of myself by eating more, going to bed at a reasonable time, and forcing myself to take some breaks and sit.  We’ll see how that pans out…

Well, my little bundle of joy is up and crying 🙂 Here’s a cute picture for the road.  Thanks for reading!

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He Can Be Trusted

“What is an area of your life where you need to consciously acknowledge a desire to the Lord? Sometimes we wander around in our frustration and never even go to Him with our request.  Does He know the desires of our hearts? Absolutely He does.  But just as Jesus prayed to the Father, so are we to–daughter to Father.  Be specific and give it all to Him.  He is not a God who stands at a distance.”  –Angie Smith, from “Mended”

As I read this devotional entry this week, I felt my breath stop inside of me.

Right now I’m in a period of total contentment with my life, where I sometimes just cry tears of joy because of how blessed I feel.

But a year ago, I did not feel this way.  A year ago, I wanted.  Badly.

It was against my will, against my desire, against the kind of person I wanted to be.  Wanting in the midst of such a blessed life? How spoiled was I?

I KNEW the timeline David and I had been led to was right.  We needed to have X amount of money, have spent X amount of time in our jobs, have X amount of school completed before we could start the adoption process.  That was what He wanted, and I felt total peace about the decision portion of it.  But it didn’t feel good to wait, especially knowing that the adoption process would likely take a year or two once it was finally time to start.

On Saturday mornings I would leave Zumba class and walk by the 2 year olds playing soccer outside my gym.  As they ran around tripping on their oversized T-shirts I would hurry as fast as possible to my car, close the door, and cry as I looked at them wondering, would it be 2 years? 3 years? 4 years? before I could hold a child that looked like them but was mine?  

This year when friend after friend told me about her pregnancy, I would smile with joy and genuine excitement.  But after the 4th or 5th friend in a row told me, I came home and cried to David.  “I don’t want to be crying right now,” I sobbed.  “I want to be happy for our friends.  But I feel like everyone’s getting their baby and I’m never going to get ours.  I want to be a mom so bad, but I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

I have friends who are there right now—who want children and whose bodies aren’t cooperating, or who want children but need to have more money or a husband first, or who are waiting for a government across the ocean to smooth things along with their adoption process.

There’s something so God-ordained about the longing for a child.  You can’t tell yourself, “don’t want that…” because it’s a good thing to want.  You can tell yourself “be patient—it’s all in His time” and absolutely believe it and feel cognitively soothed by that, but it doesn’t stop the wanting, the emotions, the frustration of your humanness that wants when you don’t want to want—when you want to be content.

Bringing it to Him doesn’t make it easier.  But it makes you more honest.

I began telling God “I want a baby” without shame or disclaimers or apologies.  I began crying to Him, with Him, instead of  pretending He couldn’t see me.

Every Sunday at church I would stand and sing songs about His promises, His presence, His power, and I would worship and sing to Him with open longing, asking Him to fulfill those promises and use His power to bring me my baby.  I brought Him my emptiness, reminding Him that He could fill it and asking Him to.  I prayed for my baby, and I prayed for my baby’s birth family—thinking that I was praying for a baby that would be conceived in the future.

Little did I know that I was praying for a baby that actually existed—a baby that had been conceived right around the time that David and I interviewed our agency, before we even decided to choose them.  A baby that would be ours.  A birth mom who needed my prayers to make the decision she made.

We were selected by our birth mom while our family profile was at the printer.

I had literally been crying the day before saying we would never get picked. “I want to get picked, Lord.”

God is bigger than our rules, our version of how the world should work, our version of how processes “should” go.  He delights in giving us the desires of our hearts when He placed those desires there to begin with.

He can be trusted with our desires.

He does not stand at a distance.  He is here, waiting to surprise us. Waiting to humble us with His goodness.

Needy

The two weeks have been…interesting.  Let’s recap, shall we?

Zoe is usually a happy, easy-to-please baby, but during weeks 7 and 8, she was a tearful little enigma.  This unfortunately happened during the same two weeks that David had to take five hard tests in Orlando as part of his ordination process.

Here’s a math equation for you: 1 screaming, unhappy baby – ability to be soothed + 1 sleep-deprived mama + starting part-time work – 1 dad around to help = misery.

As the craziness reached its peak, I started to wonder if Zoe was having an adverse reaction to her formula, so I began some food experimenting that exhausted her (and yet cruelly made her unable to nap.)  Here’s an example of when happens when HAPPY Zoe throws a random fit:

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So now imagine an UNHAPPY Zoe with a tummy ache and without a nap—it was a truly exquisite combination of a demon, short-tempered Kate Gosselin, and pitiful sweet little baby, with lots of back-arching, screaming, and hair pulling.

Put her down for a second to eat or go to the bathroom?!! What are you, crazy?!! Go somewhere in the car? Again, ARE YOU CRAZY? Try to help her sleep when she’s exhausted? Now you’re just being cruel…

It’s SO SAD to watch your little baby struggle like that.

You wonder, what am I doing wrong? What could I do to help? Does she need a schedule? Is she allergic to her formula? Is she getting sick? Is this her new personality?!! Is this abnormal fussiness a normal developmental stage? Am I missing something? 

You find yourself googling phrases like “baby abnormally fussy + 7-8 weeks” and “signs of colic” and “allergic to formula?” You talk to other moms who share worst-case scenarios.  You fear that this is her new personality.  You reflect back on how nannying was so much easier because you got to go home at the end of the day and get a break.  You feel guilty about that and quickly kiss your baby and tell her “I would never want to be childless! You’re the best!” (She cries in response.)  You feel guilty that other people’s babies have harder struggles, then you realize you can’t think about them right now because it makes you want to cry and that isn’t helpful.  And you try to stay calm and adjust only one thing at a time so that you can isolate the problem, even though you want to just change EVERYTHING.

Thankfully, SO THANKFULLY, I knew my mom and sister were coming to visit at the end of week 8.  Truly, if I had not had that information in my mental back pocket, I would have probably laid down in the street and waited for an unobservant driver to run me over (and I live near a high school, so I wouldn’t have had to wait long.)

Our pendulum shifted on Wednesday night at 11:30 when I picked up my mom at the airport.  Instant relief for me.

On Thursday morning, I talked with our pediatrician about my suspicion that Zoe needed a new formula.  I had already discontinued her formula twice (and switched to breastmilk) and she seemed to do way better without the formula, so our pediatrician suggested that I should try a formula for lactose sensitivity.

Here’s Zoe and my sister Olivia on Thursday, 16 hours after her formula detox started.  You can still see Zoe’s sad little face:

IMG_0575“Mom, I’ve been through a battle.”

But the lactose sensitivity formula did the trick! By Friday, Zoe was back to her normal happy self after 2 weeks of on-and-off misery!

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We had a fabulous, fabulous visit with my mom and sister.  We went on walks, spent lots of time playing with Zoe, played games, and took Zoe on her first trip to the zoo.  My mom watched Zoe so that I could go to the gym twice (and Olivia went to Zumba with me!) David finished his last exam on Friday so he was able to spend time with us too!

This photo describes the visit:

IMG_0579Olivia feeding Zoe.  My mom folding our laundry and simultaneously playing a game.  David actually being able to relax after an exhausting series of tests.

Family is the best.

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Zoe and her sweet Auntie Olivia

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Zoe smiling at her Gigi

The last two weeks have taken this usually competent and upbeat girl and made her painfully aware of her own vulnerability.

I’m used to being able to put hard work, energy, and a positive attitude into a situation and get the result that I want.  But motherhood is a whole new set of rules—I can exhaust all of my physical and mental resources and still not have my baby feel any better.

Earlier this week when I was struggling I said out loud to God, “I just feel so NEEDY.  I have nothing left to give!”

Being in a position where I feel “needy” at all strikes fear into my heart—I like being self sufficient!

But I’m realizing that motherhood is not an independent journey that I can just handle on my own all the time.  I NEEDED this visit with my mom.  I NEED the support of people around me and it doesn’t make me a failure to reach out to them and say “hey, this mom thing is hard!” (I’m so grateful to you Wednesday night Bible study friends who smiled at my tear-stained face and said “you’ll feel better tomorrow!”  You were right!)

And I’m thankful for my neediness, because it keeps me seeking Him.