Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On the Occasion of Your 4th Expectation Day










(I acknowledge to remember the joy and the grief that is always present while not necessarily debilitating.  We are so grateful for the lives that have blessed and influenced us.  Because we are no less grateful for this one's existence, we remember and acknowledge the significant dates that surround his sweet presence and the fact that we will miss him until we are finally reunited.)  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Putting the Reins on Passion

Benjamin Franklin once said, "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins."  I've thought about passion frequently in the past few days because I encountered it in situations when I least expected to see it.  And when that happened, I had to second guess a few things, ask a few questions and find a way to soothe my hurt feelings.  Franklin adds reason to the equation purposefully--because passion invokes strong feelings that can be difficult restrain.
Most of the time, I consider myself a fairly passionate person.  I'm passionate about what I do.  I love most of my students and I believe in the value of education.  I'm a strong supporter of public education (though I'm not against homeschooling or private education) because I know not every student has the resources to receive education otherwise.  I get my panties in a twist when people (in general) suggest it would be in our best interest to eliminate the public school system entirely.  
I love being a Mommy and I have strong feelings about being a good one.  The problem is my interpretation of "good" Mommy and someone else's interpretation are vastly different things.  I found that out when I joined a Mommy Group.  I know; I know.  I probably should've stayed out of the Mommy Group arena, but here's the deal:  we cloth diaper.  That's not a big deal, but cloth diapering companies give you these wash instructions that encourage you to treat them like they're precious porcelain...the thing your kid poops in.  So when KnickKnack found this Mommy Group that helps tweak wash routines for cloth diapers, I was all about it.
And they have been helpful.  I enjoyed having some insight into this parenting thing.  Then I made a mistake.  One Mommy made a comment that she was having difficulty getting her kid to sleep through the night without nursing him to sleep.  I commented that we used BabyWise and that helped us get our kids on a reasonable schedule so they knew how to react when it was time for night-night.
And then the hail rained down from heaven.
I receive a barrage of comments regarding this book and how it has led to failure to thrive, child abuse and a multitude of other things that clearly indicated I was the world's worst mother.  I felt defensive and upset.  The comments that were made regarding this particular text were far from accurate, and I felt like these women were indicating that my children were suffering at my hands.  After that, I learned that if you stick around in Mommy Groups you'll also learn people are passionate about the following:
  • Breast feeding (Apparently you're a monster if you don't or if you can't--there's no differentiation between the two.  And if you can?  You should until your kid is 10.)
  • Vaccinations (You're a monster if you do.  You're a monster if you don't.  Good luck on that one.)
  • Car seats (Don't keep them rear facing until they're teenagers?  Clearly you want your children to die.)
  • Circumcision (Why would you mutilate your child in that way?)
  • Co-Sleeping/Cry It Out (The latter is also called CIO.  On my Mommy Group, people err on the side of co-sleeping.  Co-Sleepers think all other people are CIOs and don't want a close relationship with their kids.  CIOs or non-co-sleepers think all Co-Sleepers are crazy hippies with no regard for their marriages/relationships.  Again, best of luck to you.)

Basically, on any given day, you're pretty much failing as a Mom and the good majority of these women will be glad to tell you exactly why you're failing as a Mom.
So I've been thinking about where others encounter my passions.  And I've been afraid to think that I've made someone feel like a little less because I feel so strongly on those subjects.
This morning, I heard Selah's "You Amaze Us" and for the first time, I started contemplating what it means for Christ to consume us wholly.  I used to talk about the concept in college, but I don't think I really grasped the enormity of those words.  Truthfully, though, I need something to direct all the passion--for something to hold the reins when I purposefully or accidentally make someone feel a little less than.  
That's where my prayer will start tonight--for Christ to consume me.  Maybe that will direct my passion for my community, my school, but most of all, my family.  Directed passion...what a concept.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'll Love You Forever


I never anticipated that I would love The Great Gatsby, but there's something achingly beautiful about a book that acknowledges our need to move toward the future while often and unexpectedly being drawn to the past.  And while it's true that dwelling creates an unhealthy emotional environment for the dweller, it is also true that remembering can sometimes soothe the dull ache grief hollows in our hearts.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Today so many of us are grateful that we had the capability to "beat on" but we will never forget what was and what might have been.  We whisper names that were never written.  We look at children living and wonder what similarities and differences would be obvious at this point.

And while I've been blessed to hold two in my arms, I cradled three in my womb.

We never forget, but today we remember aloud those who are missing and the continual ache that comes from that absence.

And just as much as I mean it for my living children, I also mean it for the one I never had the chance to hold:  I'll love you forever; I'll like you for always.

Mommy

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Post

I took a stab at answering Elizabeth's questions about being a working mom.  Feel free to check her out here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#PayItForward

On her blog, Teaching Sam and Scout, Elizabeth Chapman has been interviewing working moms.  There are several questions she's asked them to answer, but the one that sticks out to me the most was this one:  What's the best thing about being a working mom?  What's the worst or hardest thing?

When I answered that question initially, all I could think about was missing milestones in Ryan and Eli's lives, but now that I really consider that question I would answer it differently.  The worst thing about being a working mom is likely also the worst thing about being a mom in general:  anxiety.

I can only wish that I would be able to capture the minutiae of anxiety the way William Styron writes about depression in his work Darkness Visible.  Unfortunately, no amount of wishful thinking makes me a writer, so I'll simply tell you what I know:  anxiety is a sneaky bastard.

There are a hundred things I enjoy about being a mom and teacher.  These titles are the things I like best about myself.  But there are days when I can only focus on the piddling things that surround these designations.  

Eli wakes up happy almost every day.  He smiles at me and tracks my movements as I walk through the kitchen to gather my stuff before I leave.  He talks and coos and giggles, and I try my best to soak it in because I know he won't be little for long.  I'm pretty successful most days.  Then the sucker punch:  the diapers have a smell they shouldn't have; my living room is a mess; I don't have time to read/grade papers; I haven't had time to meal plan; I need to go to the grocery store; my milk supply seems to be decreasing; I don't exercise regularly; I'm still struggling with the baby weight.  

Any one of those things is completely manageable, but there are days one of those issues or any combination of those issues will knock the breath out of me.  I cannot get my mind off of the fact that maybe I'm not washing diapers correctly or I won't be able to nurse Eli the way I had hoped (which is made harder by the fact that I couldn't nurse Ryan).  I get snagged in the threads of detail and I cannot manage to untangle my feet from the mess.  And the bigger picture?  Completely invisible in those moments.

They attack without warning.  On the best mornings--the ones where I'm feeling the best, that things are going well and I'm doing a good job at most things in my life--they ambush me from a corner.  And because I don't like to cry in front of people, I spend those mornings gritting my teeth and attempting to occupy my racing mind with something other than the knotted thread tied around my brain.

That is the worst part of being a working mom.  Actually, now that I think about it, that's the worst part of being a human being.  I can remember the same issues in the days I didn't work and I can certainly identify them in the time period we waited to become parents.

But this anxiety made me think about another question Elizabeth asked:  "What items or tips do you recommend to help 'make it work'?"

I responded that we all need someone in our lives who can help keep things in perspective.  That's true, but I think working moms, moms, and people in general need encouragement.  On the days when the anxiety is the worst, I need someone to pat me on the back and tell me I'm doing a good job.  (Which is weird given that words of affirmation aren't really my thing most of the time.)  

Because of that, I wonder how many of us are willing to choose one person, just one person, to encourage every week for the next month?  And what if we asked each of those people to pay it forward?  What kind of change would we see in our families, our workplaces, our own demeanor?

Would you join me in a pay it forward campaign?  Feel free to share ways people have encouraged you #payitforward

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Next Month

I've spent the better part of the last two years pregnant.  After eight years of attempting to align my mind to the belief that we wouldn't have kids without IVF, it's been a bit of an adjustment.  What kind of adjustment?  Well, the one where I attempt to trust my body and believe it can actually do good things.

I mean, clearly it did.  It housed and birthed two beautiful boys.  (Ryan in three pushes and Eli in one push.  I think that's pretty amazing for a girl who has next to no ab muscles.)  But in spite of that fact, it is still largely unpredictable.  Most of the time, only other women with PCO believe me when I say I eat between 1500 and 1800 calories a day.  They get me when I say that my weight will not budge despite this fact.  They are the ones who understand when I say I'm tired all the time.  They know what it's like to keep a carb count at a certain level and still look in the mirror and see something that refuses to change no matter how much you want it.

They get it.  I wish I knew a few more of them.

My frustration hit a new peak when I had my thyroid tested last week.  Like all confusing elements in my life, it came back completely normal.  So why haven't I been able to lose weight postpartum?

Your guess is as good as mine.

But I know that I can't stay here.  So I'm going to try something new.

I'm putting this out here for the world to see in hopes that it's going to create a bit of accountability:

I'm going to do a Whole30.

Go ahead and click on the link and read.  I'll wait.

Maybe it seems a little drastic, but I feel like I'm out of options.  If calorie counting and carb restriction isn't going to cut it, then I need a complete revamp of my eating habits.

For the next week, I'm going to be making grocery lists, meal plans and searching for compliant recipes online.  I'm going to be gritting my teeth and thinking it's cruel for them to discount alcohol when that'll probably be a necessity about three days into this program.  And I'll be modifying my meal plan to include one yogurt a day.  I'm nursing, so I think it's a good idea to keep some milk in my diet.

And people who say that's not a real Whole30 can suck it.  Seriously, I'm tired of naysayers.  One yogurt a day (especially yogurt without artificial sweeteners or real sugar) for a nursing Mommy is not the equivalent of blowing the entire program on a Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  (Which, for the record, I will probably eat tomorrow since they'll be a no-go in the near future.)

I'm giving up black beans, and I'm sad about it.  I'm giving up all grains.  That's not a huge sacrifice with the exception of quinoa.  I'm giving up cheese, and no oatmeal for the duration of the program.  Those are the things that make me a little sad.

But the possibility of getting my body back?  Feeling good again?  Being able to keep up with my boys?

Yeah.  Those things make it worthwhile.

So pray for me (and the people who have to interact with me) for the next 37 days.  I don't have a ton of faith in my ability to complete the program, but if there's anything my body doesn't lack, it's tenacity.

So here we go.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On Value

At small group we've been talking about our stories--about the things and the people who have defined who we are.  Favorite and I laughed because we've become those people who talk about their children incessantly.  My Instagram feed is all kids all the time, and I've found myself fitting Ryan and/or Eli into every conversation I can.

Maybe most new parents can relate to that sentiment.  I'm just not sure I'm ever going to get over the wonder of being a mom--in large part because that wasn't supposed to happen.  Maybe it's weird to keep defining myself with loss and infertility in mind, but those experiences color the way I see my current reality.  They changed the way I approached Christ and the way I interact with others.

That said, I do not believe those experiences mean I value motherhood more than the woman who got pregnant very quickly and birthed a healthy child with no complications.  My experience colors my interactions--not the way I see yours.  Stick with me here because I'm going to try to share these thoughts as diplomatically as possible starting with my own experience:  I do not believe my experience is more spiritually significant than someone else's.  And I'm tired of people who seem to believe otherwise.

As a member of the Christian community, I believe in the idea that life is precious, but I refuse to promote the notion that one life is more precious than another.  It stands to reason that I would be offended by people who imply that adoption would've been far more laudable than giving birth to Ryan--and not because I fought tooth and nail for that pregnancy.  It's offensive because it implies one life or action deserves to be honored above another.  That one sacrifice matters and another does not.

One thing I would often repeat to myself on days I was really struggling is a quote from John Donne:  "Other men's crosses are not my crosses."  It wasn't just a reminder that we struggle differently; it was a reminder that my struggle may lead to a different outcome than someone else's.  My situation definitely helps me keep things in perspective on the days I have two very fussy boys, but I would never Jesus Juke another Mommy with that information.  (You know, when people say things like, "You should really appreciate what you have because some people can't have it."  Or another variation of that statement.  Or imply some people would/have paid an arm and a leg for the same privilege, blah blah blah.)

For the life of me, I cannot understand why we attach value to human beings because of how/when/why they came to be in our lives.  Ryan and Eli have value to me because they are mine--regardless of how they came to be in my life.  But their real value comes from the fact that Christ loved them first--before they were born or imagined in my heart.  That's where all value originates.  Not in our experiences (difficult or easy, expensive or cheap) but in the heart of a Saviour to gave Himself for us before we were even in existence.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

In Which I Attempt to Make Sense of Priorities

I've been a mom of two for approximately three seconds so I obviously need to put some thoughts out there about what it is to keep all my balls in the air. 

Really, though, I've been considering priorities.  Ok.  That's stretching the truth a bit.  I've actually been thinking about my thighs.

So, turns out that when you have two kids in two years, your body changes.  Obviously, I gained weight.  But that information aside, my whole body changed.  I carry weight where I didn't used to.  Pants that fit at a certain weight no longer fit at that same weight.  I'd like to say that I've taken this information in stride because, for the most part, I have.  I haven't stressed about weight loss, and I knew that it would take a while for everything to go back to normal--especially considering everything that's happened to my figure in the last two years.

But I'm starting to stress.

Like anyone else who wants to lose a few pounds, I've been logging my calorie intake in MyFitnessPal.  I make sure to make lunches and breakfasts ahead of time so there are no surprises.  I'm careful with my evening calories.  I make sure to include a large portion of vegetables and then hedge my bets with Greens First.  Oh, and I calculate my carb intake at each meal to make sure it's between 45-60 grams.  (That last part is a PCO necessity.)  I've even reminded myself to stay calm because I know weight loss is difficult for me.  One pound at a time, you know?

The major difficulty in my current equation is exercise.

First of all, I know I need to exercise.  I have never argued otherwise.  Secondly, I wouldn't mind exercising.  I'm not avoiding it like the plague or attempting to give all the reasons exercise isn't a benefit.  I know how beneficial cardio is for PCO.  I miss running a tiny bit.  I also miss the community I had when I was running on a regular basis.  But when it's the topic of conversation and I share this information, I often hear things like, "Get up at 5 am." or "You make time for the things that are important!"

I agree.  So help me find the balance.

4:30--5 am:  Eli wakes up so I get up to nurse him.  After I nurse him, I try to pump for 15 minutes to make sure my supply doesn't diminish while I'm working.  If he wakes up at 4:30, I may get to lay down for another 30 minutes before I have to start on my morning routine.  But that's rare.  On the mornings it does happen, I am groggy and know I will not be starting an exercise routine.  Judge me if you must.

5:45-6 am:  Finish feeding/pumping and get in the shower.  Attempt to get ready for work in 45 minutes.

6:45-7 am:  Leave for work.

7:15-3:30:  Work.  I've been asked if I have time to exercise at work (like on a lunch hour), and, unfortunately, the answer is no.  My planning period is 4th hour (10:44-11:32).  I pump during that time and try to work on grading, etc.  Then, during my lunch (12:28-12:58), I eat and pump again.  There is little time for anything else.

4 pm:  Monday & Wednesday I head straight to Mom and Dad's and nurse Eli right away.  Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I head straight home so I can nurse him promptly.  On Monday or Wednesday, Ryan and I (and Eli) usually eat with my Mom and Dad because my Mom has been awesome enough to cook dinner.  Between nursing and dinner (and playing a little bit with Ryan), we usually stay until a little after 6 pm because Eli will likely want to nurse again at 6.  

On Tuesdays, I try to find something to cook for Ryan and I so we can eat dinner.  Often it's something simple like sandwiches.

On Thursday, Chris is home.  We either go out for dinner or cook something quickly at home so we can be at small group by 6:30.

On Friday, Chris is home.  We try to go out and spend some time as a family.

6:45-7:30 pm:  Put Eli in his bouncy seat and get Ryan in the bathtub.  After his bath, I get Ryan in a clean diaper and jammies, go through his night-night routine and put him to bed.

7:30-8:30 pm:  I had been waiting to start Eli's night-night routine until 8, but it seems to work better to start nursing him at 7:30.  It usually takes 30-45 minutes to nurse him at this feeding (so he gets enough to sleep through the night).  We spent a little bit of cuddle time without wrangling big brother, and then he gets a clean diaper, jammies and a swaddle and I put him down for the night.  Sometimes I fit a bath into this time period.

8:30 pm:  I attempt some light cleaning--picking up toys, cleaning off the counter, putting a load of laundry in, loading/unloading the dishwasher, hanging up/putting away clothes, making sure the cloth diaper situation is under control, getting my lunch/water together for the next day, cleaning out the diaper bag.  I've given up almost entirely on sweeping and dusting.

9:30 pm:  Sit down and pump for at least 10 minutes.  If my supply has been dwindling, I may do a power pump (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for an hour).  On the nights I don't power pump, I consider starting an exercise routine.  I've scolded myself for NOT starting one.  But frankly, I'm tired.  So I usually go to bed.  When I do power pump, it's 10:30 and I know I only have about six hours before Eli is up and I have to start all over again, so I usually go to bed.

On the nights Chris is home, I do most of the same things from 7:30-9:30 with the exception of power pumping.  Usually, Chris and I will talk and/or watch whatever TV box set we are into at the time.  Sometimes we have time to go for a walk after we eat, so we fit that in if we can.  Since Eli is starting to stretch his nursing routine a little, that's more of a possibility than it used to be.  And on Saturdays and Sundays, I have more flexibility.  Those days aren't an issue.

As it stands, I'm struggling to find time for regular Bible study, exercise, grading and general cleanliness during the week.  My house is in disarray most of the time and I feel like I never quite catch up at work (well, except for now.  But it's the beginning of the school year.  The grading pile is coming.) and I miss sitting down to dig through scripture.

I appreciate the people who seem to find the time for everything.  I'm also a little jealous of them.  But since I'm a variation of a single parent Saturday--Thursday, some things are a little more difficult to schedule.  So forgive me when I want to egg your house after you tell me I need to prioritize in order to lose weight.  Honestly, I don't think I'm wasting a lot of time on unnecessary things.  (But in all sincerity, I'm not jealous of your progress.  I think whatever anyone else does to be healthy is fantastic.)

Here's the other problem:  when I say these things, I feel like I'm being ungrateful for the gifts I've been given and I SO do not want to give that impression.  Ryan and Eli are among the most extravagant of blessings--the ones I never thought I would get.  If having them meant I had to stay this size for the rest of my life, I would gladly endure it.  I remember what it was like without them.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out how a healthy lifestyle fits in my new normal.  I've committed to doing an exercise video on Saturday and Sunday because I know I have the time.  I can usually get Eli to sit in his swing for 30 minutes.  It's the other days I'm having trouble with.  Am I doing this wrong?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mean Girls

I usually attempt to craft some sort of opening that will catch my readers' attention because I like to pretend I'm a writer.  But since having kids, my thoughts are significantly less streamlined.  They look a little more double-helix-y these days--one thought connects to another thought connects to another thought--until I have no idea where I started or how I started concentrating on this subject.

In fact, Favorite likes to play this game with me:  he'll ask what I'm thinking about in that very moment and I have to tell him and then trace how I got to that thought in the first place.  It's often an odd set of associations that have ultimately reassured him he will never understand the way my mind works.  

Ladies, this is why we should feel a little sorry for our men.

But the bigger thought on my mind is how our men usually end up taking the blame for something I think we've perpetuated on our own.  Namely?  Mean Girl Syndrome.

I can't exclude myself.  I am horribly judgmental--particularly when it comes to other women.  Which is odd given that I would prefer to avoid close relationships with women because of The Drama.  (Of course I capitalized it.  And I'm willing to bet all of you know exactly what I'm talkin' bout.)  Like most things, though, it took blatant observation to call my hand on my own hurtful stereotypes.

We stare at women who don't look the way they used to--the ones who've gained a little weight, a few wrinkles or other physical imperfections.  Many of us use those visual sessions to reassure ourselves that we are (thinner, prettier, younger looking, less blemished) than the model we see in front of us.

But the thing I've noticed more than labeling physical appearance?  Some inherent need to call other women crazy.

I can count on two hands the number of times I've heard someone refer to a man as crazy.  One of them was when a guy I knew snowed a large group of people and stole money from a non-profit organization.  Another was when a friend's husband spent the 8 years they were married constructing a life that was more fairytale than anything else.  In both of these instances, it was clear that the people involved did not have strong footing in reality.

The number of times I've heard a woman described as crazy?  Incalculable.

Here are the instances I can think of right off the top of my head:
1.  She's not married but she wants to be.
2.  She doesn't have a baby but she wants one.
3.  She thinks another girl's boyfriend is cute.
4.  She doesn't agree with me on a subject.
5.  She's not the kind of girl I would hang around with.
6.  She's marrying someone I have a close relationship with and I don't much like her.
7.  She doesn't like the same things I like.
8.  She doesn't have the same hobbies I have.
9.  She talks about working out all the time.
10.  She talks about her struggle to lose weight.
11.  She is very passionate about her family.
12.  She holds grudges.
13.  She refuses to discuss certain subjects.
14.  She doesn't openly share her life story so we can understand her.
15.  She shares too much of her life story.
16.  She spends too much money.
17.  She refuses to spend any money.
18.  She focuses too much on one subject.
19.  She's very confrontational about subjects where she has no experience.
20.  She's stupid and loud (which apparently also makes her crazy).

How many things can crazy mean?  And ladies, what is our obsession with handing out that label like we're all psychiatrists?

In the darkest days of my life, I felt like I was sliding down some sort of crazy slide with no bottom.  I couldn't control how I felt and I was terrified I would never be myself again.  I can remember feeling like the world was in fast forward around me, and the number of people who treated me like I was just another nut case who needed to get my crap together was severely hurtful.  

I have no idea what was said about me in the privacy of another person's home.

But I can imagine.

And more than anything, it makes me wonder why we, as women--knowing the places we've navigated--don't seem to offer a little more grace to the women around us.

We don't know it all; I don't know it all.

We can't make the judgment calls that dictate whether or not she is right for him.
We can't constantly refer to her struggle through this or that as crazy.
We can't continue to dismiss each other because our experiences or likes are a little different.

On a good day, I like to pretend that our preoccupation with weight, looks and psychological well being is due to the pressure put on our gender by men.  But my experience tells me that thought couldn't be further from the truth.

I keep thinking it's time to let these thoughts inform my actions--to myself and the women around me.

This is part of grace...right?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Elias Carter

You arrived without pomp and circumstance a full two days after your due date.  Your delivery was so significantly different from your brothers that I almost doubt I'm the one who gave birth to both of you--and had I not been present, I wouldn't be sure.

When you failed to arrive on your due date, my doctor scheduled an induction to begin Saturday evening.  They went through the usual steps and finally started Pitocin after noon on Sunday.  Frankly, I didn't expect much to happen, but I was clearly mistaken because you made your grand entrance at 6:08 pm.  Less than five hours of labor and I was holding you; that's a surreal experience for someone who spent three days in labor previously.

When my nurse was asking about previous labor, Daddy and I mentioned that I never would dilate, but when I finally did, I went from a 4 to a 10 in about an hour.  So when Dr. Schneider came in to discuss labor with us and the nurse, she confirmed that when I got to a 4, my nurse really needed to be on her toes.  She walked out of the room and that sweet girl looked at me and said, "So, as soon as you feel pressure, I need to know.  OK?"

Not long after that, I felt pressure.  I told Daddy and he said I should wait for a couple more contractions just to make sure I was feeling what I thought I was feeling.  After two more contractions, I was pretty sure.  We called the nurse who immediately confirmed I was at a 9.  She called Dr. Schneider who said, "I'm on my way."

She walked into my room 30 seconds later and automatically began "suiting up."  My nurse looked at her a bit panicked and said, "She hasn't dilated fully.  The baby nurse is next door.  They're doing practice pushes."  Dr. Schneider responded, "Call her.  We aren't practicing; we're actually having a baby."

Five minutes and one push later, they laid you on my chest.  The baby nurse hadn't made it in time.

You are beautiful, little Eli.  You are everything we've anticipated, and the sweetest blessing since we met your brother just over a year ago.  Your name means "Yahweh is my God," and there's no better acknowledgement of how you came to be in our lives.  Some people anticipate one blessing.  Few people can embrace the overwhelming surprise of two, but that's exactly where Daddy and I are:  two blessings, two boys.

I'll love you forever; I'll like you for always,
Mommy


Saturday, June 7, 2014

On Fear

I can't remember a time I didn't love to read.  Even when my parents strongly encouraged us (with lack of choice) to participate in children's quizzing at church, I found stories and characters in scripture with whom I fell in love.




But they weren't the Israelites.




There wasn't a time when I read anything about the Israelites that I had any faith in their ability to be anything but whiny pains in the butt.  Deliver them from Egypt?  They think they'll starve.  Give them food and water?  They'll refuse to follow directions and hoard so it rots.  Follow them as a cloud and a pillar of fire?  They'll build a calf so they can have a tangible representation of something to worship.




It might be fair to say I'm a bit of a smug reader.  I could flip forward a few pages and know exactly how God intended to provide so I spent a lot of time smacking my forehead and thinking that these Israelite people really weren't the brightest crayons in the box.  The God of the Universe who delivered you from Pharaoh was clearly going to feed you in the desert, morons.  Get.It.Together.


If only I'd known that somewhere in my 30s I'd realize fear can be an awfully powerful motivator.  Because then?  I'd recognize myself in the hearts of these people who had witnessed miracle after miracle only to whine that the next set of needs could not possibly be met.


Fear is paralyzing.  I know because I've spent much of the last year in that state.


Oh, let's be honest.  Fear is the thing I fight on a regular basis.  But it's certainly been much more debilitating this last year.  After moving from a church with pastor/financial issues, Favorite and I found ourselves in a church with severe pastor/financial issues.  While we weren't the only ones blindsided by the lies, we did ask a lot of questions.  It's hard to discount the fact that two churches faced similar leadership issues (which one church sanctioned and one church did not) and the only common denominator was us.  An entire congregation faced severe loss--in friendship, trust, unity and money.


I lost the first close friend I've had since my best friend moved to Ohio.


Let me be honest:  I've been terrified.  Sure, I've seen God move us in miraculous ways, but in the latter part of 2013 (and the first part of 2014), all I could see was that He led us out of Egypt to starve in the desert. 


It wasn't long until things at work unraveled due to an unsettled contract and negotiations that would prove to create what is best termed as a hostile work environment for the better part of 6 months.  We were far from destitute, but in each situation, terror was slowly claiming pieces of my mind.  And the unclaimed pieces?  Were dry from the desert sun.


Then, in the desert, I discovered we were expecting.


If Ryan was the blessing of my life, Eli is proof of God's overwhelming extravagance.  But his presence did little to alleviate my fear.  Suddenly, I was hoarding manna and quickly discovering God's command to take only what I needed resulted in rot and panic.


In the past 7 months, I've been terrified that Eli's birth will meet with far less excitement than Ryan's.  It's hard to lose a cheerleader, and I know Courtney would have asked about every doctor's appointment and movement.  She wouldn't have raised her eyebrows that my sons are going to be so close in age (or told me terrifying stories about how awful the first year is going to be) and she would've thought it was great we were having another boy.  I'm not romanticizing her reactions either; I experienced them first hand with Ryan.


I'm scared to become a mom of two.  Sure, women have done it before me, but I've only been in this mommy business for a year.  I don't have it figure out so throwing another baby in the mix when Ryan is still very much a baby is, well, I have a hard time catching my breath.


Blessed?  Sure.  Beyond belief.  But like a thundercloud at a pool party, fear often overshadows the blessing I know I should be feeling right now.


I keep putting my ear a little closer to the page when I read about the Israelites.  I need to hear their individual voices and see God's tender hand consistently moving across those pages to touch the concerns of each person--not because I'm not blessed, but because I don't want fear to become the mitigating factor in my reaction to every situation.


Like Paul, I think most situations are about having scales fall from our eyes so we can see just a little more clearly--all the while anticipating the day when we don't see through a glass darkly.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The One Where I Ramble About Being Passionate and Settling my Work Contract

A hundred meaningless thoughts and less than a hundred seconds to get them into some sort of meaningful format so I can sort through them accordingly.


Ready.
Set.
Go.


My union settled our contract recently.  This has been a huge source of relief in the last eight-months-from-hell.  I know people in general have a lot of opinions about unions and contract negotiations.  You're welcome to your opinion.  Frankly, I struggled a bit with my opinion on this particular contract.


Actually, that's in large part what made this contract a fresh slice of hell in the workplace:  there were a lot of opinions, there wasn't a lot of communication and several "personal" issues (among board members and faculty members alike) became the roadblocks to a settlement.  Before we finally reached the point of exhaustion, the IEA sent representatives in to ask if we were willing to strike over the issues at hand.


Strike.  The word still makes me a little sick to my stomach.  Was that something I wanted?  Absolutely not.  I don't think any party benefits from a strike, but when there is no recourse because each side has drawn a proverbial line in the sand...then what?  That's the question I kept asking myself.


The community at large believed all members of the union were stalled over a raise and insurance benefits.  (In fact, one school board member's wife took to a public forum to make her opinions regarding our "posh" contract known.)  And that's fine.  You are welcome to believe what you wish to believe about teachers and negotiations in general.  In my own mind, though, I was struggling with what feels like the constant deprofessionalization of education. 


Frankly, public education is suffering under the weight of constant reform--reform that rarely has enough years in practice to see any real change or progress.  So when it comes to drawing and keeping quality educators?  I get a little passionate.


It's not about summers off.  It's not about working 7.5 hours a day and throwing in the towel.  It's not about babysitting or entertaining.  For me, this isn't a career or a place to bide my time at all.  It's a calling.


This week alone I've been reminded how important it is to hire people who are passionate about what they do because teenagers?  Are often unlovable.  In fact, about 40% of them spend 100% of their time acting like complete douche-canoes while maintaining a desperate need for someone to care for each of them consistently.


And consistency is hard--especially when these teenagers often lash out with personal insults.  This job clearly isn't for people who are holding on for summers off.  The other nine months make that abundantly clear.


So was I willing to strike for the sake of drawing and maintaining coworkers who are going to stand in the trenches with me and holler about what needs more attention, what shouldn't be ignored and push for the things that have taken a backseat to standardized tests?  You bet your ass I am.  Too many of my students come from homes best described as VOID.  Not fighting for those students feels like a betrayal.  Fighting for more money on my paycheck (while nice) when they potentially suffer at the hands of what is left for public education feels like a betrayal.


And I wish I felt as confident about my decision (which ended up not mattering since we settled) as I sound here.


Why don't I?  Because THE FEAR.  Oh gracious heavens, the fear.


But that's another post for another day.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The End of Winter

I will never understand why we start the new year in the middle of winter.  Nothing is new in January; it's all dead, dying, cold and generally dull.  We should honestly save resolutions for Easter because I'd be willing to bet more people would stick to an exercise routine in 70 degree weather than a gym regimen in the middle of the coldest month in the Midwest (except for this winter when all winter months have sucked).






It caught me off guard to see Sweet Williams blooming yesterday.  I should've expected their arrival given the nice weather we've been experiencing for the last few days, but I've gotten so used to the endless winter, I'd forgotten they would grace us with their presence at all. 






I needed to see Sweet Williams.  I think I needed to be reminded that all winters--figurative and literal--come to an end. 






I'm still working on how that ending looks.  I understand very little about forgiveness, grace or even gratitude, and I didn't know that until we were hit with an endless snowstorm.  So that's where this season begins--a few steps, patches of purple-y carpet and the hope of glory.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Facebook...Again.

I've laughed at all the stupid memes on Pinterest that point out how Facebook makes us hate people we know while (insert name of other social media here) makes us love people we don't know. I've laughed because there's a ring of truth about that meme. And several years ago, that was one of the reasons I chose to take a step back from Facebook.

My reappearance was innocent enough. I realized a few family members didn't use Instagram so I linked Favorite's Facebook profile in order to force post pictures from Instagram. After a week or two, I realized I was missing the comments on those pictures, so I would occasionally log in to read those. While I was there, it happen that my mom or one of my SILs was on chat so we'd talk for a few minutes.

 Eventually I was reading through the newsfeed regularly, participating in a constant chat stream with several of the teachers from my school and occasionally commenting on a few of the things that caught my interest. I would gripe to Favorite about the articles I found frustrating and found myself discontent with people who posted information I found to be narrow...or worse yet, I began to feel some posts that were likely innocent markers of that person's emotional state were personal attacks toward me and mentally began to hold them accountable for their, admittedly innocent, action.

 Here's where it gets even stranger: outside of Facebook, I don't care. Your beliefs about my personality, your personal preference on breastfeeding or recent weight loss are really none of my business. (I'd prefer to know your individual stance on vaccinations so I can decide whether or not to keep my kid away from yours, but again, that's your choice.) I am totally open to conversations about Common Core, World Vision, Christianity or personal problems, but I don't feel Facebook promotes real conversation. Sure, social media is supposed to help us all become more social. But I don't know that we should give that type of fragmented exchange the same weight we give to a fluid conversation. It's a whole lot easier to part and parcel someone else from behind a computer screen than it is to do it face-to-face.

 There are a lot of things I enjoy about social media. I love seeing pictures from old classmates. I like being on the periphery of most conversations--basically to feel like I am a part. Plus, it's nice to know when important things go down in the lives of old friends (or family members)--like in the case of my high school best friend's dad who went through a lung transplant recently. Without access to Facebook, I missed most of that stuff. And I felt a little cut off from people I actually saw on a regular basis. (Mostly because the conversation had started and ended on Facebook...usually the night before.)

 But if I weigh that against the ill feelings and the lack of real exchange with another human being? Facebook doesn't even come close. I'm trying to decide if I'll keep force posting from Instagram. For now, I think I've decided I will. There aren't many comments on Facebook anyway, and Favorite, who doesn't have Instagram, can still see, too. If I'm tempted, knowing what I know about how I'm impacted by Facebook, then I'm just not thinking clearly.

 After all, who needs a reason to dislike people they know in real life?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Truth in Love


“If our only response is to speak the truth in love to the exclusion of the hundreds and hundreds of verses that call us toward mercy, peace, kindness, hospitality, and patience while leaving judgment to God, the only One able to judge fairly and correctly (James 4:11-12), consequently also the only One who transforms and sanctifies, then I insist that you exercise that practice with every single sinner in your life.  Every single one.  Every single sin.  Otherwise that obedience has no integrity.  Every. Single. Sin.  I want it called out in truth and love, I want it blogged about, I want it argued into legislation, I want it discussed in public forums outside of genuine relationships, I want articles, I want excommunications.  I would respect a believer who calls out every sinner and sin around him in equal measure over one who selectively applies Scripture to certain categories. (I would not like that believer, but I would at least respect his consistency.)”  --Jen Hatmaker


I’ve been in the middle of this weird personal crisis where I keep trying to determine what it means to be in community with other people, how to best use my gifts and even this strange assessment of what my gifts actually are.  In a lot of ways, I’ve been limited in how I can write about it—partially because there seems to be weight in a word written and partially because I just don’t know what to say.  Even identifying a starting point is difficult.  Well, if you’re the kind of person who needs clear starts and stops.

A lot of people do—need clear starts and stops, that is.  And those starts and stops must be accompanied by clear reasons and must be logical to the person listening.  Rarely does the logic allow hurt on both sides and even less often does it account for the consequences of choice.

That’s where I’d like to start at least.  I’d like to call it speaking the truth in love and just lay all my raw thoughts out there from the last year.  That’s one reason the quote from Hatmaker caught my attention.  Her basic admonition is that we tend toward the truth we feel is necessary to share and assume love is present because this person or that person is/was tragically unaware of his/her transgression.  But it also caught my attention because I don’t know how best to love people.  And as someone who often says the wrong thing without even intending to (or realizing it), I can tell you loving people in Christ and for Christ feels like the equivalent of holding a live grenade.  I’m not sure when or how it will go bad, but I am sure we’re all heading downhill.

Usually, that means I’m hesitant to commit to people.  I stand to the side and watch and carefully catalog what I notice.  I see that you are afraid people won’t like you or that what you’re doing will be unsuccessful so you attempt to guide situations or people’s thoughts in the direction you’d most like them to go.  I’ve noticed that you’ve been hurt badly enough to cushion your interactions with everyone.  Most of the time, I catch your insecurity and your attempt to cover it with positive statements that often come across (personal opinion here) as hollow. 

Watching has afforded me a wide assortment of knowledge about other people.  Very often, people will be clear about exactly who they are if we are patient enough to pay attention.  So while some of it is based on personal opinion, much of it is performed loudly enough that I get it without ever allowing my thoughts to enter the picture.  That said, my problem isn’t really seeing people (for the most part).

I just don’t know what to do with that information.  I don’t know how best to love you in your circumstance.  Favorite says I come off as judge-y.  I don’t know how that statement could be anything but true.  If I can see you, but I don’t know what to do with you, I find ways to stay away from you.  It’s that simple and that complicated all at once. 

Here’s my struggle with how this applies to community, though:  I deeply understand the theology of grace.  I know myself and my tendencies and I am flabbergasted that Jesus would also see those things and want me anyway.  My unsurety sits firmly in the fact that I have no idea how to react toward other people with that kind of grace even when I approach the situation with that intention.  I either come off as the judge-y “speak the truth in love” Christian or I come off as the person who is completely dismissive of behavior that isn’t always best ignored.

So when it comes to best using my gifts within my current community?  Yeah.  No idea.  And, unfortunately, just putting gifts into practice isn’t always the issue.  (There’s a lot more to be said on that topic, but one thing at a time for now.)

I’ve never seen the play Wicked, but at the beginning of the song “For Good,” Elphaba sings, “I’m limited…just look at me, I’m limited…”  I think of those lyrics pretty often anymore.  We are so limited in our abilities and our responses—to ourselves and to others.  Nothing is more clear to me than the need for a Jesus who can break through all that nonsense.  So I keep asking—crisis, questions and all—what now?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Stabilize in Rejoicing

"Stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in Your [God's] works." --John Calvin

Voskamp asks, "Doesn't my world also stabilize when I rejoice in Your words?" (One Thousand Gifts Devotional 31).

I'm trying to process those thoughts because I don't want to be flippant about this relationship that often confounds me.  I think maybe the difficulty is in the word "stabilize."  The first entry on Google says, "Make or become unlikely to give way or overturn."  That makes so much sense to me, because my initial feeling about stabilization indicates an "evenness" I never have in difficulty.  I'm far too emotional--too up and down to be "even" during chaos.  And I've envied people with that kind of demeanor.

But the fact that rejoicing in God may be the very thing that keeps me from "giving way"?  Yeah.  I get that.  In the middle of the darkest days, when I first started praying for God to save us from drowning, I couldn't' see any movement on His part.  I prayed in panic daily--sometimes hourly--because I honestly felt like breathing was an impossible task.  Looking back, I know that "no response" isn't true.  (Though, I only saw Him through this "looking back.")  We never overturned.  We breathed in water, but did not drown.  We walked through the fire, not without scorch marks, but without being burned up.

That description doesn't sound much like rejoicing--simply praying for survival.  But isn't acknowledgement of God in itself rejoicing?  Isn't it honest and open recognition of who He is?  A recognition of the creation in the chaos, to quote L'Engle.

That's how I didn't overturn.  I cried.  A lot.  And I was honest with the One Who Hears.  

So I guess my world does stabilize in rejoicing.  I'd never thought about it like that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You've Been Weighed; You've been Measured

I've spend this pregnancy in a weird place--overwhelmed and excited to do something again we'd never thought we'd do once and simultaneously cursing the state of my body when we learned Ryan would be a big brother.  It's sad, and I'm mostly ashamed to admit that I've looked in the mirror with far less wonder than I did when my belly grew the first time.


All my life, I've heard jokes about men and how they compare "members" without realizing women are far worse about measurements.  We aren't just concerned about inches, but about pounds.  We measure weeks and months, ounces and amounts.  We measure intensity and emotion and worth and contribution.  We measure cost and time and devotion.  And when the sum total is in?  We almost always find ourselves wanting.

All that measurement leaves little room for wonder.  It suffocates grace and makes gratitude almost impossible.

It's strange to me that a year of focused gratitude would come at a time when I'm so zeroed in on measuring--as strange as last year when the word "peace" was dictated in a year of chaos.  I've spouted sayings that indicate situations like this are how we learn, but I wonder why that's the case.

Ann Voskamp describes thanks as recognizing the gift set before us, and, ultimately, how that attitude makes joy possible.  Because, she points out, "wonder really could be here--for the seeing eyes" (One Thousand Gifts Devotional 27).  Maybe my lack of gratitude stems from my unwillingness to see, and leads to my inability to perceive the wonder of what's around me--the gift of my boys, my coworkers, my church.

Far too often, I see the obligation and fail to receive the gift.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dismissive Communication

Contract negotiations at my school are in a much better place than they were two weeks ago.  I've had trouble determining right action during the whole process because I'm not a huge fan of the Us/Them mentality that develops out of situations like this one. 


When those mentalities first developed, I shrugged my shoulders because I believed it really was just part of the process.  My dad served on a school board for a couple of decades, so I feel like I speak from experience there.  I feel like the real loss, though, comes in the form of an unwillingness to reach out for the sake of conversation--people don't want to look at each other.  Forget talk.


We stop hearing each other.  We stop understanding that some (though definitely not all) motives might be good intentioned the way ours are.


I'm guilty.  After several months of emotional ups and downs on a contract, I just wanted resolution.  I got tired of hearing that my one concern as a teacher was money and I was sitting pretty with a "posh" contract and I needed to count my blessings.


Those were the things that were actually said.  What I heard was that it was OK for others to have deeper concerns regarding contract negotiations, but any unwillingness on my part to accept what is offered is greed, plain and simple.  It didn't matter if there were reasonable solutions presented.  At that point, I couldn't hear them.


Sometimes it's hard to hear people.  Hearts are all tied up in words and that may mean there is intention and deep conviction behind something that sounds a little flippant at the forefront.  But I'm so quick to dismiss words--a lot because I'm an introvert and would prefer to surround myself with only people I know and connect with easily, but also because I think I've allowed myself to become dismissive with words, and, as a result, people.


It's a work in progress.  It's letting myself share what I think without being able to fully process the emotion behind it and then allowing someone else the same luxury.


That's the difficult part--allowing someone else the same luxury.


Because often there just aren't conclusions--and I need to stop drawing them.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Nostalgia

Since I've closed my blog, my only reader is you, Ronnie.  You'd think that means I'd be more willing to sit here and type the things I'm really thinking instead of constantly editing how I need my thoughts to read, but that's clearly not the case.  Otherwise, there would be more than two posts in the last four months.




I've been thinking a lot about what you said about nostalgia--particularly church nostalgia.  I think tonight I'm super guilty of the same sort of sentiment.  It's not about the old church, exactly.  I can't gloss over the problems enough to be guilty of nostalgia in that respect. 




I don't belong at The View.  I'd like to tell you I know exactly why, but I can't.  Everyone else seems to be finding a little niche, but I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be doing there or why I felt drawn there in the first place.  The deep connections we had before the Josh saga have largely disappeared and few people seem to interact the way they did previous to that incident.  Jermaine and Mallory, who were great connection points for me, have left for another pasture (which I hesitate to identify as "greener" as I'm not entirely sure that's the case) which was further small group displacement.  Not only that, but I really connected with Mallory which you well know isn't something I do easily.  I alienate people.  It's my personality.  But it's weird for church dynamics.  I assumed that being a Mom would automatically connect me to the other moms, but that's a misconception.  I'm probably never going to work in the nursery or kid's church.  It's just not my thing.  (And one Sunday of accidentally saying something inappropriate to a repeater would prove that true.)




I don't want to be a part of Praise and Worship.  I don't want people to look at me.  I don't want to be on the stage.  But music is such a vital part of worship for me.




So I'm nostalgic.  I miss my women's group.  I miss their consistency and welcoming nature.  I miss our understanding and their commitment to drawing others to Christ.  I miss their lack of judgment on how Christ works through individuals.  And that nostalgia means I feel sorry for the people who must really just long for the day when they felt like they really belonged.




You think that's what nostalgia is about?



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

That Stupid, Stupid Song

I hate the song "Blessings."  There.  I said it out loud and pushed myself to the outside of inspirational Christian music circles everywhere.  I hate it.  And I refuse to listen to it.  Feel free to share your feelings about how this song is so meaningful, blah blah blah, but don't expect me to sit around and soak it in with you if you start singing.



More than once people have asked what my issue is with what has been called a beautiful ballad in many music circles.  In simplest terms, I feel it's a trite response to real human suffering.  I'm sure I haven't been the only person stuck in spiritual quick sand anticipating suffocation only to run into a well-meaning individual who wanted to play this song in hopes that I'd find comfort and the faith to believe God's Word.  My actual reaction was to seriously consider slitting my wrists.  I was praying to survive--for "comfort" or "for Your mighty hand to ease [my] suffering"--but I needed to know that God loves me "way too much to give [me] lesser things"?


That's a strange way to encourage an individual to "have faith to believe."  And I guess I feel like those lyrics do little to outline where one goes from this point:  we suffer; we believe; we understand it will be better when we die.  In the darkest days of my depressive fog, that continual message would have been enough to convince me I'd gotten out of my bed for the last time.


There's also something about the perspective of the song that makes me feel like an outsider for struggling to understand why God allows such deep suffering on the part of some individuals, or why He often chooses to be silent.  The last lines of the song ("What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life/ Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy/ What if trials of this life/ The rain, the storms, the hardest nights/ Are your mercies in disguise"), while not necessarily untrue, make me feel as though I'm being chastised by someone outside the suffering circle for not immediately recognizing the situation as one that is clearly meant to bring glory to God.  Frankly, I don't feel like the speaker of this song is in the trenches.  I feel like she's on the other side of the fence telling me to believe God's plan without understanding that's the very thing I'm (and others) are clawing to hold onto--belief.  (And it's a little simplistic anyway, isn't it?  "And long that we'd have faith to believe"--believe what, exactly?  The promises in His word?  In my case, believing those promises wasn't the issue.  Reconciling myself to the possibility of a different plan--one that didn't eliminate my desire or respond to it--was a bigger issue than believing God's promises.)


Maybe it's too much to ask for all song writers to sit in the ditch of lamentation and lay it out honestly the way Rich Mullins did with "Hard to Get."  I guess I just feel like it's my responsibility as a Christian to get real with you about suffering in the midst of belief--that it's not always about a lack of faith or a foundering belief system.  Sometimes we struggle because we believe.  Sometimes we hurt because we can't see the final picture even though we know there is one.  My problem isn't that I can't see suffering as God's "mercies in disguise"; it's that I know God and want to follow Him, but sometimes I have to acknowledge the reality that some things are just His "ways and [He is] just plain hard to get."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Elusive Priority

One of my great gifts is an ability to make almost anything more difficult than it has to be.  So when I say Christianity is simplistic, that's from a purely intellectual standpoint.  Practice is more difficult--probably because I think far too much about how I should act and then end up acting viscerally instead of according to my belief (which, unfortunately, is not yet that ingrained).
 
This action (inaction?!) is a pattern.  It is one of the main reasons I started leading women's Bible study (for consistency in study and relationship) and likely the reason I need to eliminate outside influences (topix, anyone?) that may not impact other people.  When I miss that stead influence and allow those outside influences play time, I see a significant decline in my attitude and more paralysis in my Christian action.
 
So it stands to reason that I would know what to change when I feel that paralysis creeping up my neck, but, oddly, I don't.  I don't know what I am supposed to be doing despite the fact that I know I belong where I am.
 
A friend told me once that education shouldn't necessarily be a Christian priority.  That thought has been in the back of my mind this entire school year...
  • because I believe education can have a beneficial effect on the masses
  • because I want my sons to be able to reason through situations instead of simply swallowing someone else's lecture
  • because my union is currently fighting a Tier Two salary schedule I fear will impact the type of education students at my school would receive.
 
Should these things be a priority for me?  I honestly don't know, and I don't see a lot of clear examples to illuminate the path.
 
That issue alone would be enough.  But it's rare any person gets to handle one situation at a time so I find myself, as I've said, in this bizarre "in between" place.
 
My word for the year is gratitude.  Like last year's word, "peace," gratitude should be a fairly easy concept to navigate.  After all, there is so much for which to be grateful--my little miracles, Ryan and Eli, in particular.  In the midst of all that baby excitement, though, are the situations that cloud that same sense of gratitude.
 
I'm not writing this because I have conclusions, but rather due to my lack of them.  That's what writing used to do for me--in the days before I started panicking that my kitchen was a mess and neurotically cleaning before bed.  Priorities, y'all.
 
But seriously, PRIORITIES...
  • for Christian action
  • for consistency in study (and maybe revisiting the idea of a study group?)
  • for a balanced view of education
 
But mostly?  For gratitude--in all seasons.
 
And maybe for grace to navigate the in between until everything is a bit more clear.
 
(If you read, forgive the lack of clarity.  My pregnant brain struggles to put one coherent thought together, so it's precarious to write anything at the end of the day.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Vortex

I feel like any sort of return to blogging (if one post can, in fact, be considered a return) should be a magnificent spectacle of wondrousness.


Then there's my blog.


And unfortunately, that means no magnificence, just crazy.  Seriously, though, if people read here for any other reason they might be slightly more delusional than I am.  So there's that.


A second pregnancy with a small child at home is no joke.  Lack of a negotiated contract is no joke.  All of the stress and mud-slinging that comes out of those two things--seriously, no joke.


It's a weird way to start a year I think is supposed to be focused on gratitude.  I've asked myself a lot of questions about that word in the last two hours I've stared at this screen:


1.  Why doesn't gratitude undo the awfulness of the last year?
2.  Why doesn't gratitude alleviate the hurt of losing a close friend?  Or replace that friend?
3.  Why doesn't gratitude settle a contract or at least require understanding on all sides?


And then I've been pushed to the other side by all the simplicities that wash over me:


1.  Ryan's sweet laugh and smile
2.  The baby doing the mambo on my bladder
3.  Colleagues and coworkers who are still dedicated despite the climate


I don't know what I want out of 2014.  I'd like it to be the year I get my shit together, but I'm not entirely positive that's realistic.  Maybe chaos is the way of the world.  And maybe gratitude is our way of finding Christ's peace in the midst of the vortex.