Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Friend

There I was, green as the jungle around me, trying to learn life here in this sweltering humidity and heat with a five month old and barely three year old. Learning new fruits and foods and how to take the laundry off the line when the flash rainstorms came.

I’d already killed my fair share of spiders and never seen so many needy children who flocked our home every afternoon. Overwhelmed.

Oh, how I longed for a girlfriend to lean in to!

And there she was. She just showed up on our porch with her adopted daughter and introduced herself. There long after dusk, she sat with us in our kitchen and we listened as she shared her story.

We didn’t even ask if she loved Jesus. We already knew.

There bloomed a friendship of laughter and even tears. She taught me to gut a fish and we laughed when our coffee wasn’t sweet enough for her. She helped me cut up my first whole chicken and laughed when I had no idea how to make a soup.  She could make one blindfolded.

I would like to say I have taught her some things, too, but the truth is I don’t know that I have. But I know I love her and her heart for Jesus. She teaches me about faith and I watch as she loves kids that aren’t her own by flesh and blood but are every bit her own by motherly love.

In fact she loved my own daughter before I ever even knew her.

“I’ve got Jesus, and that’s all I need,” she once told me.

Her life shows it. And our friendship makes me a better person.

She doesn't look like me and she only speaks my third language, but honestly, I don’t know if I would have survived this Jungle life without her.

Thank you, Jesus, for this godly lady you have put in my life to help me look a little more like You.

Five Minute Friday is where we writers join every Friday to write for five minutes straight about a word prompt that Lisa-Jo Baker offers up. Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five Things You Should Know About Motherhood

I wasn't there, but I think I know the look on your face when you saw those two pink lines. And then you looked at the instructions at least 37 times because you were sure that you must have misunderstood how to hold the stick or pee on it the right direction. Or maybe two lines was a negative? Or maybe you just needed another cup of coffee and there was really only one line?

But no, it was a positive.

And for about three minutes and twenty-two seconds, you have instantly become the happiest person on planet earth.  You're thinking of how to tell your husband and then extended family and before you know it you already have color schemes and names picked out.

But then at the three minute and twenty-three second mark, you thoughts dramatically change and all of a sudden you're thinking about that glass of wine you had at dinner three nights ago and wondering if he or she will somehow glean only your less favorable features and if you will know how to properly install a carseat and before you know it you're ready to dial CPS and give them a nine-month heads up of your impending parenthood.

These things--they're normal.

For the next nine months, you will find yourself experiencing the entire spectrum of emotions from "I'M GOING TO BE A MOOOOM!!" to "I should put this poor kid up for adoption right now."

But when that sweet thing comes into this world, you find that all those emotions melt away. The pains of pregnancy will pass and you will enter a whole new world that will leave you thinking:

"Is there anyway I can stuff this child back into my abdomen?"

Here's why:

1) Parenting is hard.

The old saying is true. Any one can have a kid, but it takes someone really out-of-their-mind crazy to buckle down and parent that thing. Or something along those lines...

The reality is there are some things no one can prepare you for. Like the competition that is motherhood. How every one around you will instantly have an enlightening suggestion on how to stop the crying, get them to sleep through the night, and survive their first cold. There are hundreds of books and thousands of articles, most of which contradict and negate the others. And they are all "right". And that's just for the first year...

The truth is there is no handbook for parenting. No "one-size-fits-all" method. It's just straight up hard.

2) You will cry. Probably a lot and probably often.

There are going to be times that you collapse into bed at night (or at 3am as the case may be) and congratulate yourself on being the worst mom in the history of ever.

You will think of all the ways you should have done it differently and how you could have done better and the next day you will suggest to your husband that you go ahead and open a savings account to pay for your child's inevitable need for counseling.

You just aren't going to be perfect and sometimes you will run to the bathroom, close the door, and cry.

3) You may want to return your child. Possibly before even leaving the hospital.

When you have just finished your seventh green-poop filled diaper IN A ROW and you are covered in spit up and you can't remember if you took a shower yesterday or if that was three days ago, it's very possible that your mind will wander back to the good ole days when you slept until 8am because you could. You will be tempted to riminesce about those times you ran into the grocery store without having to unload 35lb carseat only to find that those Huggies actually AREN'T leak proof.

There will be times you "remember when" and it may unleash the floodgates as mentioned in point number two.

4)  You will be tired almost all the time and will forget everything. And you will forget everything.

Inevitably you will finally build up the courage to go to Wal-Mart after that last diaper adventure and get to the very back of the store when your baby will promptly start screaming at the top of his lungs. "That's ok," you'll think to yourself as you reach in the diaper bag (that is taking up the entire back of the shopping cart). "I have your paci... Riiiight here.... Shhhh... It's ok..... Mommy has your paci.... WHERE IS THAT FREAKIN' PACIFIER!?" And then you will glance up awkwardly as you realize the entire cold-foods section was privy to your most recent display of both exhaustion and forgetfulness.

5) Parenting will change your marriage.

It's all fun and games until your husband tries to sleep through his turn to feed the baby at 2:30am--for the third night in a row. Then it's on.

You will argue over who changed the last poop diaper and who in the world bought non-organic baby food! It sure wasn't me... Are you trying to kill our child?!

You will have times that you give him that "if-you-touch-me-I-will-show-you-seven-new-kinds-of-crazy" look because while he engaged in adult conversation all day, you washed six loads of laundry (how does this pint sized child get so dirty?!), ate leftover macaroni and cheese for lunch, changed 23 diapers, and become fluent in infantese. All on two and a half hours of sleep. The last thing you feel is "in-the-mood".

When you finally do get a child-free date, you will find yourselves talking about the baby you just high-five'd about leaving at Maw-Maw's and Paw-Paw's.

Now, before you hate me and deem me the worst friend ever for sharing these truths, let me share a few corresponding things I've learned in my the-days-are-long-but-these-four-years-have-flown-by parenting adventures.

1) You are not the first person to do this.

Generations of moms have produced children that have turned into thriving adults. After all, the human race is still here.

So while er'body and their mama is trying to tell you how it's done, follow your instinct. Pray about it. Glean advice from people you trust. Then throw out what doesn't work for your family, along with the guilt you're tempted to hold onto.

And remember that babies all around the world survive just fine without that fancy teething giraffe and baby wipe warmers.

2) Crying doesn't mean your weak. Most likely it means you are trying your best.

Those pictures you see on Facebook from those super moms who kids are always in new clothes and sporting a big smile eating made from scratch muffins? That's their highlight reel. They may have just come out of the bathroom from their hourly cryfest because she just changed her spit-up covered shirt for the third time today after she burned the first batch of sugary delights.  

No one posts pictures of that.

So let yourself cry. But also pick yourself up. You can do this and it is worth it. Some days will be easier and  there will always be bright moments sprinkled in. That's called God's grace. Bask in it.

3) There are no returns or exchanges on these little humans. I asked.

Turns out that's ok, because God picked you to be this one's mom. That doesn't mean it'll be easy (re: point number one) or that you will know what the heck you're doing at any given moment. It just means that He's going to equip you and grow you and change you and hold you and listen to you and understand every emotion as you walk this road. And He's gonna use you to have a huge impact on this little life.

So go ahead and own this little one. Cover him with prayer. Ask God for wisdom. Get in the floor and play. Laugh at your mistakes. Give yourself grace. Allow yourself to be human.

4) Try to sleep when the baby sleeps.

But also realize you're still going to wake up tired whether you sleep for 30 minutes or 30 hours (don't count on that last one).

It's just part of this parenting thing.

And you can try to pack that diaper bag in advance but you will inevitably forget something as basic as diapers from time to time. Laugh about it. And be thankful that you have 23 stores that sell diapers within a 3 miles radius of wherever you are.

5) I'm gonna park here for a minute.

Never forget that you got into this situation together and you are both new at this thing. Lean into one another, don't push against each other.
Don't push against each other.

Show grace. Laugh OFTEN. Forgive. Let go. And enjoy this thing that is the hardest job on the planet.

You can't do it alone. You're gonna need God and a lot of Him. And you're gonna need each other.

Go on dates. Talk things out. Find things to talk about besides this new addition.

And let him kiss you, even when you don't wanna. It's important for him. It's important for you. It's important for your child.

It's true when they say it's worth it. There will be a lot of really great times. So don't let these things I'm telling you discourage you, but rather motivate you to do this thing well.

By God's grace you are going to be a great mom. And when you aren't, there is more grace.

I wrote this for my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby in October. I asked her if I could share it because honestly these are all things I wish someone had said to me before I had our first. Or maybe they did and I didn't listen. Either way, I hope this is an encouragement to new mamas out there. And if you are a seasoned mom, maybe you can shout "amen!" and give other tips in the comments section.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Writer

“I’m not a speaker. I’m a writer.” 

I have said that many times. In this field of ours sometimes you are thought of as a speaker. But I’m just not. I fumble at my words and try to grab them back, hit the delete button and try the sentence again. The truth is, speaking isn’t as forgiving as writing. 

Writing allows for do-overs.

The last four months we have been without a computer thanks to our sweet four-year-old and a glass of filtered water. The hardest part of that was my inability to write my thoughts out.

But the truth is, I needed that time. I needed it to draw me closer to my Savior. I needed it to pour my heart out to Him instead of a blank Word document. I needed it to listen more and write less. 

It has been a beautiful write-free time. 

And now that He has blessed us with a replacement computer, my hands are aching to write again. To write of the trials of our life, the growing moments that make us more and more like our Creator. I am anxious to tell you all of the changes He’s doing in our ministry here. Big, unexpected, blow your mind changes. 

But it took not writing for a bit to see that I need to listen more. I need to hear what God is saying, not just share what I am thinking. 

Because with writing comes listening. And vice versa.

Five Minute Friday is a link-up for fellow writers from blogger and author Lisa Jo Baker. Check it out here.
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