The Last Diaper

Tonight, I put the last diaper we own on M. He's actually been potty-trained for a few weeks now, but we've been slowly working our way through his last pack, coining them his "night-time diapers" so as not to confuse him. For days I've glanced at that pack and thought, "man, when is that thing ever going to run out?" Tonight, I guess.

I'm feeling oddly emotional about this. Some would say, "it's just a diaper", but I think the sadness is coming from a deeper place.

I never really thought I'd have a break from diapering between my children. And now I'm done. With no idea of when I will begin again.

The pile of wipe-packs will no longer deplete (thanks, Honest Co, for sending ridiculously unnecessary amounts of wipes) and my cubby specifically for diapers can now be used for other things. And I don't think this is something that I want.

**SIDE NOTE: I am over the moon about my potty-trained boy. He has been an absolute champion at this potty business and I am so freaking proud of him. Like, nearly everyone we come into contact with hears the good news. My sorrow does not leave me wishing we hadn't potty-trained him. So just so we are clear, the potty is awesome.**

It was this time last year I became pregnant with our little one lost. I never thought I would want to be pregnant around the same time because it would be too difficult. But these days I find myself wishing more than anything that I were. My heart believes, some might say foolishly, in God's goodness and provision. I know He will give us another baby. There is so much gladness in that "knowing" and also a bit of fear. Not fear of Him not coming through...

... but fear of my own doubt.

You see, I'm not afraid of losing another one (as it is somewhat likely due to a blood clotting condition I have called Factor V Leiden). I'm not afraid of the high-risk pregnancy that will inevitably ensue as soon as I see those two lines. I'm not even afraid of needing to stick a needle in my belly every day to try to lower the risk of loss.

What I'm afraid of is the part of me that doesn't believe to the point of peace that God's way is best.

There is absolutely nothing that can change about our circumstances just because my attitude wills it to. The dream of kids close in age, while I'm still obnoxiously young (that dream died a long time ago) and able to keep up is getting further and further away, and I'm here trying to understand and grasp God's dream in place of my own. You see, when I close my eyes, the walls of my imagination are still papered in those images I've carried since childhood. 4 babies. All close. Me being perfectly capable of handling it all. But as I close my eyes I see something that is not possible for me, and what I really want to see is the beautiful reality that God is unfolding for us.

But right now we are just at the bold edges of the tapestry. We haven't unrolled it to the point where things get intricate and beautiful and wild.

But I feel we are on the brink.

We are praying big prayers this year. We are believing God to do some incredible things with our lives, simply because we have asked Him to and we are willing to say "yes". If it doesn't play out as adventurous and fabulous in someone else's eyes, we don't care; for our hearts will know the wild adventure that we have gone on with our God.

So tonight, as I say a final farewell to diapers, I'm clinging to hope and praying for a heart that fully believes His way is better. More beautiful. More glorifying.

Because I would rather die than take any other way.

"For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans  for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:11-13|AMP

laura b
laura b

Their 40-Year Love

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Last Sunday my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I had the privilege of helping my mom put together a photo video collage thing for my dad as a gift, to reminisce over all that the past 40 years has blessed them with. As I scanned and scanned and scanned, I felt a stirring in my heart--the last 40 years of their marriage has been made up of a lot of the same kind of days, conversations and feelings that my 5 year marriage has been made up of.

I was brought to last weeks argument with T, or the seasons we've spent apart due to the military.

I was reminded of the adventures we captured on camera in our courtship days and the way he makes me laugh like no one else.

All of this is how it is with my parents, too. They have days where nothing seems to fall into place. Where one says something hurtful to the other. Where life and all it's demands seems to take a major toll on the romance in their marriage. They have days where they laugh till it hurts. Where they feel full and happy. Where they can't wait for the other to come home just so they can simply give them a kiss. There are two consistent factors in a marriage like theirs, regardless of what kind of "day" (or season) it is, and I believe they are the following:

they always show up for one another.

and

they would never choose anyone else.

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When you're young and in love you just expect those feelings to always be there. When someone bursts your bubble and tells you that it won't always be easy, you tell yourself, "yeah, but that's not us. We're solid." Unfortunately, and I can say this because I had that exact sentence run through my head a number of times in the past, the truth is that it is impossible to avoid pain and hurt when putting two broken and sinful people together in the most intimate of relationships. Real depth of love is not found in the early days where little work has been done, but after years and years of digging deep into commitment. Remember when you stand on the surf at the beach, and with each wave that crashes your feet sink a little deeper into the sand? To me it seems sort of like that. You stay put, let the waves hit, and feel yourself growing more and more solid in your footing. And before you know it, you are immovable by the waves because you're far deeper than you were at the start.

My parents were the ones "destined to fail." And on March 22nd they rang in year 40.

Their story, along with so many others, is the kind of story that newly married (or not-so-newly married) should lean into and take note. To remember that you don't just say "i do" on day one, but every single day that you have breath.

He's being a little too selfish for your taste... "I do."

She's being controlling and a bit overbearing... "I do."

We get to live our lives one time, which means we get to live our love one time. So we must choose to love with abandon. And by that I mean choosing to show up for your spouse, day in and day out. Work through the hard stuff together. Celebrate the blessings together. And always, always remember that its choosing your love, one day at a time, that builds a beautiful and lasting legacy.

I can't think of a better way to live.

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Thanks, mom and dad, for leaving us such a beautiful legacy. I'm so thankful for you.

laura b

Thanksgiving : Giving Thanks

These days it seems harder and harder to get here, and yet my heart longs for it more and more. Through our season of loss and grief there have been so many moments that the Holy Spirit has made the Word beautifully alive to me. All I've wanted to do is shout each one from the rooftops (or post it on here and let it spread like wildfire--or so I'd hope), but busyness, mom-hood and sometimes simply this season of sorrow have kept these gems between me and my Father. Which is pretty awesome actually. My prayer is for more time here in 2015--I believe wholeheartedly that He has called me to some good things here. But until then, there is one thing I must share with you.


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Now, you maaaaay not know this, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I know, I know, it's a little bit nuts. I think it's safe to say that I'm not alone in feeling very unfulfilled at the thought of an American Thanksgiving.

  • Way too much food.
  • Stresses of family.
  • Corralling kid(s) and living on the prayer that they will stay sane throughout this very out-of-routine day.
  • And dishes. So many dishes.

What's it all for these days? We hear so often that we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude as we enter into the holiday season, kicking it off with the holiday of thanks. But I think what's unsettling to me is this idea that we are to simply walk around with an attitude of thanksgiving.

As I prepared for my holy yoga classes this week, I did some perusing on Wikipedia; you know, for all of the legitimate historical information that would transform me into a scholar on the topic. I found some very interesting facts on the origin of this holiday that, to no surprise to me, correlate pretty perfectly with this faith-life we live with Jesus.

Firstly, there is the pretty oft-forgotten original intention of Thanksgiving. President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared it to be an official Federal holiday by proclaiming a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

In a time when Thanksgiving is about all the wrong things, can we take a moment to remember what we are actually supposed to do on this day?

The definition of Beneficent is "characterized by or performing acts of kindness or charity."

Our Father's very character is kindness. It's not something He simply decides to give--it's a part of Him; one that cannot be separated or taken away. If you're like me, you thank God for His kindness with a spirit similar to that of a debtor. Like it was so much work and such a burden for Him to show that kindness to me. But if I focus on the reality that my God's character is to be kind, would my thanks be given with a spirit of adoration? Maybe similar to that of a wide-eyed child thanking their parent from which they are unshakably secure in the knowledge of their love for them? I mean, can't you agree that there is a whole-body shift in you when you thank someone whom you feel indebted to versus someone whom you know you owe nothing in return? That is our Father. Our King. The One we celebrate tomorrow for.

The other thing that I just have to say is this: there is a mighty huge difference between simply having an attitude of gratitude and actually giving thanks. You can walk around all day long feeling thankful, but at that point your gratitude is about you. Sort of. But when you open your lips and speak out your praise, so that the One you are thanking (and all those around you) would see your joy and praise for His character of kindness, it becomes about Him.

Say your husband shovels the driveway for you. You feel thankful. Inside. Your gratitude cannot reach any further than your own self. But as soon as you open your lips and tell your husband how appreciative you are of his kindness and service, your gratitude has reached another--it's become about him and not about you.

The same goes for our King. And the same goes for what we celebrate tomorrow.

So as you prepare and bake and shop and clean today, can I challenge you with something? Please, oh please, take 5 minutes, a pen and some paper and sit. Prayerfully meditate on the kindness of the Lord in your life. And yes, things like food on the table and loved ones are important, but I'm talking specific things.

"The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"--days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought."-Good ol' Wikipedia

Has the Lord just won a battle for you? Where has He been victorious in your life this week? This month? This season?

Are you finally beginning to experience springs of Living Water after a season in the desert with the Lord? Are you seeing the harvest of your commitment to sowing the Truth in your mind, your family or your ministry?

Now once you've meditated on these things I want you to write them down. Make a list, sloppy or neatly bulleted, and carry this around with you tomorrow. As you visit with family members or friends, share one or all of these things with them, because as Psalm 105 tells us, we are "to make known His doings among the peoples". Let it be known to those around you that you are loved by a Father who is kind. Any maybe, just maybe, let this year be the beginning of your families accurate celebration of this very battered and stolen holiday.

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"O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His Name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them. Glory in His holy Name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek and require  the Lord [as their indispensable necessity].-Psalm 105:1-3 AMP (emphasis mine)

Tomorrow is your thanksgiving. The schedule, food, family or black friday ads needn't determine how you celebrate it. So celebrate your King tomorrow. Take back the holiday for yourself and your family. Maybe, if we each share this with our own families this year, it can continue to grow and one day we can see this holiday as it was meant to be.

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When You Come Together Changed--A Post About Reuniting

I've been MIA. This post will shed a little light as to why.

He came home. Like, home home. FOR. GOOD.

Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!

For weeks I had been preparing, cleaning, ready-ing, organizing and anticipating. Then he came home, and since then we've been embracing, unpacking, relaxing, adjusting, moving and just overall figuring this thing out. Because as wonderful and blessed any reunion is, there is always adjustment--and those are the feelings that aren't talked about much.

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Do you know how wonderful it feels when I look over at him and breathe in deeply the truth that we don't have a set number of days? Those moments when I choose to forget all the things and simply embrace the truth of today are invaluable. There isn't much like it, I must say.

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Then there's the moments where my mind begins to gear up for the usual routine (rest, write, blog or practice yoga during naptime; grab a bowl of cereal and netflix to hunker down before bed) and I'm reminded that life has changed. And it hasn't changed in the sense that now we must both revert back to life as it was before our year of separation, but changed as in we have now entered an entirely new land... and I don't know how to begin the journey of exploration.

You see, we've both changed. A lot. Our God brought us each to a new place in our intimacy with Him. Most days I marvel at what He brought us through and how He must've seen it as necessary to bring us through separately. It's a wonderful, glorious blessing. I'm so utterly grateful for His willingness to show us the parts of ourselves that needed to be left behind, and for graciously showing us how to shed those layers and break those chains.

But what do you do when you come back together?

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There has been a lot of pull to go back to those old habits, because they are what we have always known of life together. "Laura and T" life looks like this ______. But there are pieces of that picture of the past that I don't care to bring with us to this new place. With simple, and seemingly harmless habits like eating dinner while watching tv, or baking a batch of cookies and eating a solid half of the batch before they are even fully cooled, comes deeper strongholds and ways of life that I know neither of us want to continue in. In them lies joylessness-- a settling of sorts. And yet, while our desires to make changes now that we know will bring us joy are so present, our minds and bodies seem to want to go into autopilot.

In enters our will.

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The word "will" means, "Diligent purposefullness; determination: an athlete with the will to win." "The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action."

A mind or body on autopilot doesn't often dance with the will. They seem to keep to their corners of the room. But when I step back and I look at the two, square in the face, I unabashedly choose the will. There is so much more work, humility, face-planting and friction with that choice, but there is also so much reward.

Jeremiah 25 shares the story of Jeremiah trying, yet again, to knock some sense into the people of Judah. For years and years (23 to be exact) he had been trying to get them to turn from their evil ways of worshiping false gods and in doing so be able to live in the bountiful land the Lord had given them.

"Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever;" (vs 5)

I taught in my class Saturday that the word "evil" used here doesn't merely represent malignant, wicked things but also means "sad", "unhappy" and  "miserable". The times when I struggle with depression, sorrow and overall listlessness are at their worst when I am living life on autopilot. In this understanding of our present circumstance, that we are on the cusp of choosing a land of bounty at the price of greater effort, or a land of sorrow at the cost of little effort, every day, all day, I will deliberately choose the way of greater effort. I may need to breath heavier and at times might feel the strain in the deepest parts of me crying out for the days of old, I know that truly living and loving doesn't happen comfortably. It takes hard conversations. It takes sore muscles. It takes falling into bed at night because while the day might have taken much from you physically, it has filled your heart to the brim with all the goodness that comes from living it. It might also take laying face to face, heads on pillows, and humbly expressing wrong choices made and attitudes held--and voicing that sometimes living life together is hard and weird and we aren't always very good at it. Do you know how much freedom is held in those honest conversations? Mountains upon mountains.

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I'll take conversations at the dinner table over mindless Netflix binges.

I'll fight for evening family bike rides over cookie baking.

And I'll have the hard conversations, when I feel I've been misunderstood in this mess of figuring out how to live and love together, over closing up inside because "how could we possibly be arguing already?"

Life is arguments and feelings and romance and adventure and nothingness all wrapped up and happening at the same time. It never stops. It's always moving.

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We will change some more, and we will figure out what life looks like then too. But for now, every day is a day of small battles against our flesh so that we may live in this bountiful land God has given. Somewhere we were told that life should be joy-filled and effortless. What I'm realizing is that we need to see the joy in working hard for the life we've been promised. A life of contentment-- a life of completeness in Christ.

So that's what we are doing. And the best part is we are doing it together.

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Oh Hey There!

I wasn't around last week because this happened...

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And I will continue to not be around this week because these things are happening...

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Life is happening, as it always does but these two weeks it's been happening outside of the social media world. And I just love it.

But God's been stirring my heart and I'm anxious to get writing again. So until then, I'll keep on living life with my two best guys and I'll meet you back here next week.

29 - A Birthday Blog

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I realize 29 is still young; I'm not going to be that woman, but for the baby of the family (by 8 years) it's hard to imagine myself so close to 30. Especially when I'm married to a man who is 4 years younger than me. (Yes, it's true. He's the luckiest of 'em for snagging an older chick.)

I woke up quite early today (4am) and as I laid there my mind began to dutifully travel down the path of birthday drudgery- "Man, you're almost THIRTY!", "You're only going to get fatter and frumpier from here on out.", "You've only got a year or so left before your joints start to ache and you lose your spunk."

Obviously these statements are all absurd, and it took me all of 2 seconds to snap out of it and change course. The truth of my heart is this: the older I get the better I get. Maybe not everyone is like this. I know there are many women who try to hold onto their twenties with all they have, but that's just not me. Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind a woman with little makeup on her face, dirty feet from never wearing shoes and hours spent in the kitchen or craft room home-making like the best of them instead of hours spent pampering herself. The older I get the less I care about myself... but in the absolute best way possible.

Recently I've been contemplating just how much our "self-worth" can't actually be about self at all. I plan on writing about this one day (soon) but today I'd like to put pen to paper some of the things that make me glad about being that much closer to 30. (And no, this is not going to be a "30 is the new 20" thing... honestly, I'm not interested in living my 20's any longer than God intended me to.)

What's So Great About Heading Out Of My 20's:

1. The older I get the more life I've lived. Duh. But in that obvious statement is a very beautiful truth: God has been faithful to me. Part of parenting that terrifies me is the reality that I am NOT guaranteed any number of days with my sweet boy. He belongs to God and each day with him is quite literally a gift. Even the bad days. Similarly, my life and each day of it I've lived has not been guaranteed. It has been a product of His faithful love to me and to those that love me. Above that, I believe He has chosen these days in order that He may complete His work in me, that He decided before the earth was formed. He still has more to do with me... I can't even conceive how awesome that Truth is. So, I'm heading into my 30th year of God choosing to keep me around, choosing to show me who He is, and choosing to bless me and use me and love me immensely. Guys, each one of us should be jaw-droppingly grateful right now for all the days we've lived. How faithful is the God of the universe? Inconceivably faithful.

2. In these 29 years I, like everyone else, have experienced challenge. I've made bad choices. I've chosen myself or the world or idols over my God. And I have an enemy who tries with all his might to wash me in guilt and shame over these experiences. This, again, is something I plan on writing about in the (soonish) future. Again, the Truth here, is that in each of those instances I've been showered with grace, mercy, love and restoration. And in turn God has grown me in wisdom. When I think of this I can't help but look ahead at the next 29 years with anxious anticipation. If each hardship or bad decision has already been washed by His saving grace and will in turn grow me in wisdom and closeness with God, then how could I not be excited for each year He blesses me with?

3. That husband of mine. While he still has some time to camp out in his 20's, I can't help but love "growing older" with him. Knowing that as each year passes I get to fall more in love with him makes my eyes widen in wonder. How is it possible? Knowing that God will use us for His glory makes me never want to leave his side. There is adventure and love and joy and heartache that we can't begin to imagine awaiting us in this future of ours. I absolutely can't wait.

4. Sweet little M. How is it possible for God to love me so much? This child (and I'm sure our future children as well) is a constant reminder of my Lord. In each smile my heart swells at the love lavished on me, and in each tantrum I'm left with nothing but to cry out for the strength to parent from His spirit, not my flesh. If you desire to grow in your faith and love of the Lord, have a child and open yourself up to allow God to use that child. You will be taught things no pastor could ever teach.

5. Something I've struggled with for most of my adolescent and adult life has been friendships--specifically one-sided friendships. In those relationships was a deep-rooted need for affirmation. "If she would just want to be my friend as much as I want to be her friend then that would mean I matter." Sometime this last year I spent a good amount of time thinking about this part of my past and I found myself feeling sad. How many great relationships were overlooked because I was focused on someone else, thinking they were the ones to give me value? As God has graciously opened my heart to see the dark spaces, He has shown me how no human being is able to give me value. Only He can give me value, so even if I were best friends with each of those women I would still be left wanting more. In the not-so-pretty revealing moments of this part of my heart God has been faithful (yet again). He has brought some wonderful women into my life. Our lifestyle has forced us to be away "physically" from many that we love, but I've been blessed to establish some deep and meaningful friendships despite the distance. While I may not get to shop or have coffee and study God's word with my best friends, I always know that they deeply love the Lord and me, and that no matter where life takes us, they are a blessing and never the source of my value. What an awful burden for anyone to have to carry. (I'm glad you ladies don't know who you are otherwise you'd probably feel an immense pressure knowing how much I had riding on our friendship in this anxious heart of mine.)

Those are just some of many reasons why I'm happy to be making my way out of my 20s. I'm grateful beyond words for each and every way He has directed my life thus far, and in that gratitude I can't help but be so joyful as I look to the future.

These days that we celebrate our birth... they are really absolutely not about us. They are 100% about our Maker. It is because of His faithful love that He has chosen this many days for us. Days of love, heartache, loneliness, joy, growth, change, and above all, blessings.

Guys, 29 is so good. Just wait until Taylor Swift is 29; she'll know exactly what I mean and write a catchy song about it. #justyouwait

Day 11: What Your Life Looks Like

Image-1 "As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked. Live a life that is worthy of the calling he has graciously extended to you." Ephesians 4:1-The Voice

A reality about life and God that I will never understand is that not all will spend eternity in glory with the Lord. There are so many aspects of this that I could get into and begin to ask questions about but that would get me way off the topic at hand... the one on my heart. The fact of the matter is, as we have discussed earlier in this journey, God orchestrated quite a lot to get each of us to this place where we love and worship Him. The clincher is that the degree of which we worship is completely dependent upon us. How much of ourselves that we give to the Lord is our choice, as Caitlin showed us yesterday. But regardless of what and how much we choose to worship the God of the universe, one fact still remains: we have been called. He has anointed us. He has anointed him.  He has placed a seal on my husband, that he may be set apart in this world to do His good work. If your husband is not yet saved, he has still been chosen in that God has placed you very purposefully in his life... To be his help-mate; to show him Jesus. So whether his journey with the Lord has already begun or has yet to, God is at work and desires for all of our lives to be set apart. The way his life, my life, and your life, look to the outsider is each of our own decisions. God will not do the worshiping for us. If he only desired to worship Himself He wouldn't have needed to create us in the first place.

So today, as you pray over him and over yourself, keep this passage in your mind and on your heart: "In the light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run! - on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline - not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences." Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message

-Laura

Father,

We both need you so desperately, whether we choose to recognize that or not. Lord I will never understand why you choose some and not others but I am humbled that you have chosen me and that you have chosen my husband. Lord, let our lives be a worthy sacrifice to you. Father, show him when his life is beginning to go down the path that leads nowhere; when it's beginning to look just like everyone else's. Lord, while I thank you for the tools you've given us in our western Christianity, I pray that his faith, and mine as well, would not depend on jumping from one bible study or small group to another, but that it would be a steady pouring out of ourselves to you. Lord, show him how to display the truth of your character through the way he works out his faith in this life. Spirit, nudge him in the moments when you know a difference in attitude or a little extenstion of grace could reveal your heart through his actions or words. And most of all, Father, deeply implant in his heart and mind the magnitude of the calling you have placed on him. That he is not just another face in a sea of believers but that you have set him apart, and because of that his life aught to look different. As I pray this Lord, I confess the ways that I have not been living in a worthy manner too. Please right me where I am wrong, take my hand and show me how. You are worthy, Jesus, and it's in your name I pray these things. Amen.

Day 9: Awaken Pure Joy In You

Image "And David danced before the Lord with all his might, clad in a linen ephod." 2 Samuel 6:14

Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm not about to suggest we pray that our husbands dance around in ephods. At least not in front of any other eyes than our own. But I do think we should pray that they would  unashamedly dance. Allow me to elaborate.

Today I found myself listening to some old music that T and I used to enjoy in our youthful courtship days, making silly videos on my so cool macbook, lip-syncing ourselves silly. I like thinking on those memories, how it felt being so young and free of the weight of worry and adulthood and responsibilities. I would not, however, care to go back to that woman, nor would I want T to go back to that man. With trials and hardship comes wisdom and I would take that over macbook lip-sync videos any day.

In reading about David today, I am drawn to the above verse. David had recently conquered Jerusalem,  defeated the Philistines and was now transporting the Ark of the Lord (talk about a high pressure task). Take a minute and think of David in real-life terms, not just a person in a book. He was real; his emotions, levels of stress, and inability to handle said stress well were just like ours are. And yet he, "danced before the Lord with all his might."

Wives, our husbands carry so much in leading, providing, caring and loving. Today, let's pray that the Lord would wake within them and allow them to dance before Him in praise of all He is, all He has done and all He has promised.

Laura

Father in Heaven,

You have placed quite a task before this man, and you have done so knowing full well that He is capable of not only accomplishing it but giving you glory at the same time. Lord, you have placed so much joy inside of us in giving us the Holy Spirit. Please awaken that joy in him. Even in the most stressful of days, let loose the freedom inside of him to sing and dance for you, for himself and just for the pure joy of it. Thank you, that even in the most stressful or uncertain of times, you have not taken your joy from him. You know the plans that you have for him, to prosper him and give him a hope and future, so free him of the chains of worry and show him how to dance. Give him a heart like David, that is unashamed of the joy bursting inside of him because of you. Rid him of the desire to "cover up" with the stereotypes of this world and to vulnerably and unabashedly love you and in turn love me, our family and those around us better. It's in your worthy Name I pray. Amen.

P.S. I highly recommend doing a little dancing of your own to the song "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free. You can find it on Spotify.

To The Military Wife

Recently, while standing at the deli counter at the local grocery store, I caught out of the corner of my eye a man in a uniform. Now, if I were back in TX this would not necessarily have attracted my attention as most people are in uniform around there. But here in the Twin Cities this is pretty uncommon. As he was passing behind me I thought, "I should really go thank him for his service." I tell myself all the time that I want to be better about that, so I went over and thanked him. Upon doing so I was able to tell him that my husband is also in the Army and is currently deployed. The three minute or so exchange that happened next took on more emotion than I would have ever imagined it to. In telling him where T was I didn't have to even explain what the initials stood for- he already knew the place. He knew the types of things they do there. He's known others who have been there and spoke of men wanting to go there and their reasons why. He thanked me too, because having a family of his own, he knew what it was like for his wife to keep things up at home. It was the type of conversation I seldom have around here... a conversation where the other really truly knew. Knew the things that are unspoken in this military world. The details involved in a deployment or a training. The demands on the family. The demands on the soldier. What it feels like to be away from the people who mean the most in the world to you. While I appreciate so deeply the empathy everyone around me has, this conversation with this service member was different. It was the breath of fresh air my tired soul desperately needed. What I didn't expect was how much that fresh air would sting.

As he walked away and our pleasant conversation ended, I found myself drawing inward. Before he left he took the patch off of his arm for his unit and gave it to me. So as I stood at that deli counter waiting I found my thumb stroking it very gently and evenly. That army green thread, that velcro backing. It has been five and a half months since I have felt that between my fingers. As I watched him walking towards the checkout it was no longer a man that I saw but a uniform. A uniform that I miss with every fiber of my being. If I could just wrap my arms around it, close my eyes, and pretend it's him. Take in the musty gross smell of that stiff, horrible fabric. If I could just pull that uniform out of the dryer once again and fold those ugly tan t-shirts. These are the things that the military wife can understand.

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A few weeks ago my nephew stopped over after his Friday night drill and he was still donning that oh-so stylin' PT uniform. I think I hugged him at least three times while he was here. And I could't help but find myself staring at that gray jacket. Those weirdly poofy pants. I even offered to launder his PT's any time just so I could have the experience again. These are the things that the military wife can understand.

When T first arrived at his camp and we skyped for the first time, I remember being so deeply disappointed at how blurry the picture was. His face wasn't just pixel-y, it was like, 3/4 inch in diameter pixels. I found myself hoping and praying that this was just a one time thing and that it would get better eventually. I hated the thought of that being the only sight I would get of his handsome face. Sure I had photos but there's something about seeing his eyes smile when he laughs that a photo just doesn't quite capture. Five and a half months in and the pixels haven't really changed in size. On occasion, if he sits very still I can get a clear-ish view, but it's not the same. I found myself so very sad yesterday as I drove because I realized that the memory of the last time I saw his face in person, and touched his cheeks with my hands, has faded. I have to concentrate really hard and I can see what I've held onto with white knuckles, but it's nearly as blurry as the video I see on the computer. These are the things that the military wife understands.

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God has been doing some really life altering things in my heart lately. It's been a really cool adventure to be on. When I'm driving and it's just me and the road with a content little M in the back seat I find myself grabbing for my phone, if only just to pretend to call him. I try as best as I can to share the details of this heart of mine with him through emails and texts but those are not true forms of communication- not when you are communicating something so raw and true. Those are the conversations that take place with your heads on pillows and mere inches between you. There is something about thousands of miles that takes away from the freedom in vulnerably sharing your heart with the one you love. Instead the basic checklist of things usually gets shared. And when there's that occasional day where the babe is sleeping and you get to skype (dropped call free) long enough to share your heart, it is magical. Not noses-nearly-touching magical but something pretty special nevertheless. These are the things that the military wife understands.

As I watch those around me going through life with their loved one I can't help but smile at the idea of the arguments they must be having. When I miss T so desperately much I often think back to our seasons of tension and distance, and remember what it felt like to just want an hour on my own. I can't help but laugh. How bipolar our human hearts are. When I think about the arguments happening all around me, behind closed doors and smiling Instagram posts I smile with eager anticipation. For one day soon we will be back in that place, arguing about something stupid, coming together to work that foolishness out, and going forward in life and love. These are the things that the military wife understands.

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There are countless things, small and seemingly insignificant, that take up the spaces in my mind daily.  Having him taste a freshly baked treat right out of the oven, yelling at him for the hundredth time to shut the door before he sets up camp in the bathroom, laughing together at ridiculous videos on youtube or facebook, ones that I know my parents would watch and look at me like I'm crazy. I think for the spouse of a deployed soldier these might be the hardest moments. When it's quiet, and your mind resorts to those spaces where these memories are stored. Those little things, that joined together, make a very full and beautiful life.

While I may be in a season of sadness because my heart longs for my other half, I am so thankful that this season will soon be ending. Similar to this ridiculously freezing and drawn out winter, spring is right around the corner... and so is our reunion. What a glorious day that will be!

So to all of the other spouses, holding down the fort at home and thriving on those wonderful memories of moments shared, I'm so thankful for you. The unspoken understanding we share fills me when I find myself in a world of others who simply can't. Peace abounds in recognizing that you are out there, hoping, missing and waiting with me. I'm so excited for each of our days to finally arrive, and for each of us to bask in the warmth of being whole again.

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Imperfect Obedience

I had a rather random thought earlier about child leashes. You know, the ones that are masked as little critter backpacks but in all actuality are a leash for parents to keep track of their wandering, and likely disobedient, rascals. I truly don't like those things. In my inexperienced parenting mind I think to myself, "Come on, parents. Just teach that kid some obedience and make the effort to keep them with you." Notice how I said my "inexperienced parenting mind". Because I only have one and he is only 15 months... so I still have a lot of realities ahead of me in the world of wrangling little ones.

Recently, M has brought us down some uncharted territory with his behavior and it has forced me to face some parenting and teaching milestones I thought were still a little ways out. How often do I need to go back to the tv, or the computer or the stereo and teach and train him not to touch it? Seemingly often, I guess. For a little person who is constantly wrapped in a diaper, he sure reacts as if he's being tackled by a mugger when I attempt to change the poop nestled in his pants. I find myself exhausted at the end of the day, feeling drained of all patience and wondering if any of these moments are even making a dent. He is a strong-willed little boy.

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God, in His beautiful and albeit comical, timing and sovereignty is showing me just how much M and I have in common in this phase of life. M's outward behaviors are, I'm realizing, the physical manifestations of my spirit, heart and mind. The problem is that obedience is such a legalistic concept to me. I obey because I'm supposed to... because if I don't there is someone (the law, my family, the church, my employer) I am letting down. I do this to the extreme in that I struggle to throw a recyclable item in the trash because I know that, even in that plastic yogurt cup, I am letting the image I have made for myself down... even though no one even knows it happened.

In a mom's facebook group I am a part of, a mom recently asked what it means for you to have your child's heart. This, apparently, comes from a verse in Malachi, basically meaning that your child trusts your guidance so wholeheartedly that even in the moments they don't want to obey or don't understand why they must, they do it because they trust that you know what is best for them. The example given was that when you tell them to obey you and sit down when you ask, they are not still standing up on the inside.

My legalistic view of obedience does not allow me to fully give my heart to God. My obedience is not because I trust Him, in my vulnerability and questioning, to know what is best for me. It is because I have a fear of letting Him down. This creates a relationship that lacks intimacy. And produces minuscule rebellion.

On the other side of the coin lies perfection. The paths this life has taken me down have built up quite a strong demand for perfection. That has not, however, produced in me a person who is excellent at everything she does, but a person who tends to quit a lot of things because, "If I can't do it perfectly I just won't do it." As I walk down this path of learning to be obedient to Christ, I struggle with the journey. I struggle with all of the imperfection that paves the way.

Is it easier for me to just stay in this place? Where I don't live freely, but at least I live in these chains perfectly? The thought of facing, moment after moment, the crossroad of obedience or chains, is exhausting. Thinking of the moments where I will not be strong enough to obey is enough to make me want to run, arms flailing, as far away as I can.

As I examine these realities of my heart I see clearly just how much I am like my son. And just how much more patient my Father is than I. I am the child with the little critter backpack attached to the leash of mercy. His mercy. It keeps me in His reach, so each time I go back to that imperfect place, He trains me. Whether it's by the sting of consequences or the gentle love of His Word, He has mercifully kept me in His reach. When I face my lack of self-discipline, and every fiber in my being wants to just rebel in the simplest of ways (laziness, selfishness, biting words, too much chocolate) He comes back once again to guide me to His perfection.

The height of this lesson for me is found in the imperfection. Before Christ came and rose from the grave, perfect obedience was what was required of those who desired to spend eternity with the King. Your salvation depended on perfect obedience. Then our Savior came, the one true spotless lamb, and knowingly walked up that hill so that you and I would not need to be perfect. So that our obedience could be because He had our hearts. On that day, the requirement for me to be perfect, hung next to Him, never to come down. I am free to say "no" to selfishness, disobedience and sin with my physical body, and also with my heart, knowing that He is more than enough and incomparably better than any and everything I've ever run to before.

He loves me, so He puts the little critter backpack on me and covers me with grace as we face the world, day after day. Beautifully imperfect with no requirement to change that, but to accept His mercy and praise His holy name for being the perfection that I cannot be.

Here are things we will never perfectly be, but can always strive for. They are also things He always is, and will never not be.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)

We will have moments when we don't want to persevere. We will have moments when we might delight in evil. In our sin we may choose to protect ourselves over another. We will never do these things perfectly. We will fail and fail again and fail again... The beauty in this is found in verse 10.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."

When He returns, our imperfection will disappear for all eternity. When He comes into our sin today, His perfection covers over our imperfection in the form of forgiveness and grace. He will come one day, and we will be those things without putting forth even the slightest effort, because we will be truly and fully made new. Today, I am on my knees in humility, so thankful that He chooses to come to me every day, providing me the grace to be imperfectly obedient.

There is absolutely no such thing as a "Perfect Christian". Unfortunately many people have tried to show themselves as such and it has created a facade that does nothing but fade with each passing day. In this moment I am thankful that He has never expected me to obey Him perfectly, but wants to walk with me, guiding me through the training moments, until the day He returns and wipes away all imperfection.

Man, how He truly and deeply and perfectly loves us. And how graciously He remembers the beautiful moments with His child, and mercifully forgets the sin-filled ones.

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"Yes" be "yes"

There's nothing quite like sitting down, feeling light and full of the Spirit's word, and then getting smacked with your sinful nature. Here I sat, excited at the opportunity to write while M gets the last of his nap, as I sped through the usually lengthy warming up of my very old macbook. Even more excited, as the technical side of things was looking up, I logged into my site... and wouldn't you know, ten minutes later, lots of long deep breathing and prayers unceasing, my little old buddy managed to stop showing the spinning rainbow wheel and allowed me access to share these feeble thoughts of mine. "Oh how kind of you, sweet little white MacBook. Please don't take it personally if you find yourself out on the curb one of these days."

I have to laugh. This is such a picture of our lives. Riding high on the love of the Lord and the truth of who He is and then something as small as a technical error brings about our sin nature faster than an exploding gasoline truck in a head-on collision. Or maybe it's just that fast and intense for me. As sweet and kind and gentle as I may painstakingly try to appear, my tendency lies more in the area of anger, irritability and carelessness. But we all have our things, right? That's one of a bazillion reasons why we need grace. Every day. All day.

Well I've had a small little passage on my mind these past several weeks. The fact that it's been residing for so long in my mind and not being shared with the world goes to show my willingness to try to be less selfish... I don't want to.

Ok, obviously I want to, but what my soul wants and what my "self" does are usually two very far-apart things. Several weeks ago we were going over the Sermon on the Mount in BSF. We read a verse I've read about a hundred times, but in discussion a fellow classmate shared an alternate version of the passage and I haven't been able to shake it since.

"Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no', 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." -Matthew 5:37

I don't know about you, but in my circles I don't find myself making many oaths. When I think of myself saying "I swear" I'm brought back to my Jr. High locker bay and swearing to my friend that the boy she liked asked about her. Or that I swore I wouldn't share her secret crush. Or asking my best friend if she swore my permed hair didn't look and smell too awful. (That actually happened. The night of a formal dance at school, where I knew I would be dancing with my long-time crush. Who's idea was it to get a perm the day of a potential slow dance sesh? Sigh... Oh high school and your drama. Glad to be rid of you.) To be honest, I don't do much of that these days so this verse has always been a lesson in future instances where I might need to swear on something. My classmate shared the Message translation of this verse and it gave it much more life and applicability.

"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say, 'yes' and 'no'. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong." -Matthew 5:33-37 MSG

So.... what can I say after that? How many countless times have I, in hearing of another's difficulty, said, "Oh man, I will be praying for you." and forgotten about that oath within seconds of departing? I'm ashamed to say this happens on the regular. But here is the problem: I never intentionally tell a person that I will lift them up only to know that I in fact will not. I think the bigger issue is a lack of true understanding of the power behind the prayers I am willing to offer. If I truly understood the power behind the Spirit inside of me would I be more willing to pray right at that moment? Have those words become just one of many scripts we, as a society, say to one another?

This happens in more than just the Christian circles. "I'm thinking of you" "You're in our thoughts" "Let me know what I can do to help" "Keep me posted on what happens"

This is not just another problem with Christians, for non-believers to add to the list... this is a problem for humanity as a whole. Underneath our facade of empathy and care lies a lot of selfishness and only enough willingness to do what we are comfortable with... so long as it does not interfere with our own plans for ourselves.

I'm talking about you. And I'm talking about ME. Big time me. Majorly me. Oh man this is me.

I really want to be close with people. But not just close... I want to be their "person". The kind of friend you'd think of first to hang out with. Or when someone asks who your closest friends are, I'm on the list. I want to be thought of to be in your wedding. I want to be trusted to help in a time of crisis. I want to be that person. The favorite auntie, most helpful child, most thoughtful granddaughter. The problem is, I allow that underlying selfishness to rule and reign in my actions. My heart is all in, totally there, bursting with love. But my butt is still at home, sitting on the couch, surfing facebook, instead of calling you. Selfish. I think of you and your current heart-ache while I'm tending to M and I think, "I'll text in a bit" and a "bit" becomes never... or midnight when I think of it next. Naturally this problem has seeped into my intentions of prayer. These past weeks I have felt convicted time and time again that these promises must be fulfilled. My words must stay true to my oath. Unlike a friend who may also forget that I promised them prayer, my Lord does not. He is not vindictive, He will not come after me and scold me for saying and doing two different things. But just the reality that He remembers fills me with sorrow. How many dates have I ditched with Him in forgetting to pray?

One of the difficulties of T being deployed is the short, never deep, and often interrupted conversations we have. It's been a long time since my best friend has really been able to know and hear my heart, and me his. It sucks, in every sense of the word. And this, I now realize, is just how my Father must feel. When I begin to talk with him about a dear daughter of His, and suddenly I'm interrupted by my phone or my kid, that's a moment where He is left with only a piece of my heart. Then I forget and go on with life and He waits. He knows what this daughter or son needs before I ever even think to ask Him, but the intention behind my heart is an issue all of it's own.

And this is why I haven't been obedient in exploring this any further. It's a matter of my heart needing some changing. This is never easy. But it's always necessary.

Here are 4 questions you can ask yourself with this passage in mind: 1. How do Jesus' words concerning oaths emphasize His requirements of absolute truthfulness? 2. What commitment have you made to God that Jesus' words remind you to keep? 3. How would your relationships change if you obeyed Jesus' words in Matthew 5:33-37? 4. What could you expect God to do for you if you obeyed this command?

It's humbling and amazing to think of how simply and wonderfully my relationships with others and with God would and could change if I just obeyed. Maybe I could actually have a deep, meaningful conversation with my Savior and know that I am also building a friendship in the process. Maybe I could actually feel the closeness with others that I claim to want and need. Once again, it goes back to selflessness. Life can't just be about me. It must always be about Him and those He loves.

So to this I say, if I've told you I will pray for you for something you are in need of, don't be afraid to ask if I actually did it. If we all put a little meaning behind our words we just might see a lot more kindness around us. Life can't be about us. We aren't here for that. We are here for one another. We are here to bring Him glory.

Merry Christmas From The Ferguson's

Well this year is the first year of our 4 together that I have not been able to get out a Christmas card and letter. It's safe to say I'm more bummed about this than anyone else. Whether or not people enjoy receiving them, I sure do enjoy sending them. The best part is the Christmas letter; it's such a blessing sitting down and recapping the year we have had. I think I should try this exercise more often... Not just at the regularly scheduled card-sending season. So without further a do....

 

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So, family and friends (and readers, too), it's been quite an unexpected year. We entered into 2013 on the joyous wave of parenthood and a clean-eating health kick, ready to take on our world guns a blazin'. The health kick lasted all of a few hours (we ordered Papa John's by 4pm) and the realities of Parenthood came gradually and thoroughly. We learned that it is the following: challenging, heart-warming, tiring, so very fulfilling and one of the most wonderful parts of joining our lives together as one.

This little buggy...

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...became this little buggy. (Who moves so fast you can barely snap a clear picture of him.)

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We learned how invaluable loving friends are who will babysit for you so you can go on a date... to a movie where you can just sit in the dark and hold hands and not think or chase or clean up or wipe off.

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We saw animals at the zoo...

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We packed up our home,

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and he packed up his gear.

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We said, "See you soon" and gave our kisses and hugs. (And I wouldn't let go.)

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We drove out of Fort Hood one last time,

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and he said, "hello" to his rather scenic temporary home.

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We've been missing one another a lot,

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so we've been counting down the days till he's out a lot more frequently...

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M was the star of the show this Halloween and loved every minute of it.

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T has had the opportunity to make the most of his time over there and enjoy some leisurely activities, (very competitively too, which is not surprising)

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as well as taking some college courses... and doing whatever else he can to make the passing time a little less painstaking.

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I've been doing some running,

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a fair amount of lettering,

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and a lot of learning.

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M has been learning something new every day, which recently consists of hours upon hours of walking and falling and walking and falling and crying. Lily, to be honest, is just lucky to still be with us...

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We really miss our man so very much. Malachi has his meltdowns and I have mine... but that's to be expected and is completely normal, right?

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We truly are so thankful, even in our weakest moments, for the grace that He shows us constantly. It is truly endless. When we are desperate for the normalcy and emotional security of being together He is there to provide the comfort in the tears and the strength to wipe them away. He has saved us every day thus far and will continue to save us from ourselves, our circumstances and our sins. To Christ be the glory, forever and ever.

We couldn't have been more blessed by the people in our lives this year. Time and time again they were a testament to His love and provision. We are thankful for you. It feels a little silly to wish away this season but in our heart of hearts we can't wait for it to pass... Half of 2014 will be spent together, so we can't wait to get the ball rolling and get on into the New Year. New year, new possibilities, new plans we don't know anything about. How exciting! 

We are praying for your celebration today. May it be filled with peace. Life is real and hard and unexpected and all of those things don't stop just for presents and family gatherings. So for your hearts as well as our own we are praying for peace. His peace. It transcends all understanding.

 

From Egypt and Minnesota, we wish you a very blessed Christmas, and hope you will join us in giddily welcoming the New Year.

 

Thomas, Laura, Malachi, Theodore and Lily

 

 

The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been awhile since we've been together, and there are many reasons why... but to sum it all up I will just say that life has happened, as it always does. Sickness has happened. Fellowship has happened. Weariness has happened. It's all been here these days, but I'm still here and my mind still keeps ticking with the lessons and ponderings of this place. Christmas is in a week. One week. I don't recall a Christmas before where I have felt as weary and burdened and tired as I do at this moment. Much of this could be due to some circumstantial elements. I'm just ending a wonderful long weekend with my best friend whom I have not seen in three years. So being filled up and encouraged and embraced by my Lord through fellowship with her was an incredible blessing that I did not want to end. This leads me into the other element I'm up against that I just don't really want to think about. He's not here. Oh how I want him to be. Any other year, if you presented me with Christmas money or asked for my gift list, I would have a few things in mind that I'd want for myself. But this year, truly, all I want more than anything is to hold his hand while we watch our sweet boy open his presents... to sing Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra while decorating our little tree... to watch him taste test his favorite Christmas cookies. But, alas, I know this is not a possibility. So the second thing on my Christmas list would be peace. Peace when I want to be sad that I can't cup his face in my hands and tell him I love him, or that I can't get frustrated at him for eating all of the cookies before Christmas has even come. Peace when I want to be angry watching all those around me hustle and bustle over gifts and money and things. Peace when I want to bury myself in a mountain of blankets and sleep my way through the next two weeks. Oh Lord, if I can't have my first wish then please give me my second. I'm learning to say "no". And also to make time for the things I need to say "yes" to, such as time for my soul to meet with my Savior. This morning, as I sat here with tears, wishing so bad for so many things, I turned to see a verse taped to my side table.

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -Matthew 21:22

Despite my circumstances, despite those around me, I choose to believe that my God is big enough to supply me with the peace I need to say "No" when I need to, to accept the times when I must say "yes" and to remember that He is beside me to carry the weight of the world for me.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and 'you will find rest for your souls.' For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-29

The world around us is a very heavy load to carry most days, but I believe it is even more so in December. There is so much expected of us: Elf's, presents, sales, perfect Pinterest parties, baked goods, Christmas cards... the list is truly a long one. And every year there are those who take the time to call us to action, to encourage us to embrace the real meaning of Christmas. I am thankful for those people. Because we need them, year after year, to elbow their way through newspaper ads and tv commercials, Christmas music and viral videos of virtual Christmas cards, to remind us what we are here for, why we come together to celebrate the last month of the year. A year of successes and failures, triumphs and tribulations has come to an end and we cannot go back and redo any of it. But what we can come back to is the Savior Jesus, who knowingly accepted His position as Savior of the world, and came down to become a lowly and fleshly human so that we could be saved from year after year of mistakes. He accepted, lived with, and loved the fleshly and sinful humans that were with him while He was here so much that He sacrificed Himself for them. He also accepted and loved the fleshly humans that were to come, for thousands and thousands of years, and sacrificed Himself for them too. Take a second to ponder how many sins, how many mistakes, that one sacrifice paid for...

Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

Holy Spirit, when we shop, bake, cook and wrap, gently remind us of the reality of this sacrifice. That He was born knowing He would be given up for the sake of something worthy in Your sight. The Son of the creator of the universe, the Prince, given up for me? How can I even begin to fathom this truth. Gently walk us through this reality, and be patient in the moments when we don't quite grasp it's magnitude. Give us eyes to see a little less value in the twinkle lights and the indulgent desserts and a little more value in the people around us whom You love just as much. You died for them just as you did for us. In remembering You let us remember to show a little kindness, because really, that is a gift that is carried with the soul much longer than anything that could be wrapped in pretty paper. May we be pleasing in Your sight this Christmas, and may You show Yourself clearly, Father, through the thick haze of the world around us. We do not deserve the peace You are able to provide, and are so grateful that You offer it to anyone who asks. Thank You, Emmanuel, for Your goodness.

I pray that whether you are joyfully anticipating the week to come or are wishing you could become a big brown bear, get your fill of cookies and sleep the days away (just as I do) that He could and would become your focus. There's hope for this, we still have a week left.

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Multi-tasking Mom

I'd like to say that I am a multi-tasker. I've been known to have several plates up in the air, being sure they don't come to a complete stop and come crashing down. But I think it's safe to say that's a woman thing. We are able to keep one foot in this door and another in that one... and an arm here, another there, and our head some place else all together. Recently I attended an all day motherhood conference at my home church. It was unbelievably refreshing to let my always-going-never-stopping perfectionist mom heart take a day and just soak it in. Being a mom, and just a person in general, is a lot like being a sponge. As the day passes we squeeze a little more out, and if you're anything like me, the end of the day hits and your wrung dry. So it was nice to let my little sponge heart and head sit in a big bath of wisdom and love and peace.

Something seemed to have soaked right to the core because after a week and a bit I can't seem to get the image out of my mind.

Enter the Multi-tasking Mom.

We were introduced to three types of moms. With each we were given a visual and while many of us laughed I have a sneaking suspicion that most women in that room felt a lot like I did. Convicted. The beauty of conviction is that it is not condemnation. It is the ability to see where you're heading off track and adjust where needed. We all have a path we want to take in our lives, and in order to stay on it we need these moments of conviction. They are good and wonderful and hard and necessary.

The third "mom" we met was what I called the "Modern Mom".  Along with the title was this photo:

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Immediately my heart twinged and my brain went into overdrive. How many blogging, crafting, baking, trendy moms do I spend hours (collectively) admiring and secretly setting up as my standard and goal in life? The statement that was made about this photo was the fact that, to this mom, her baby is just another thing in one of her many arms. Another ball to be juggled.

Another plate to be dropped.

My heart broke at the thought then, and even as I type this now it breaks again. When I look at my gifts and talents I can see a life like this, filled with many different outlets to showcase all that is me. But that's not the path I want. I don't want to set M on the floor with a pile of toys so I can be sure to get my funny and witty blog posted (you know you think they're funny and witty). I don't want to leave him to always play on his own so I can get another craft finished or a cake baked. I want moments like this:

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Instead of doing something that fills me up, doing what will fill him. And ultimately that fills me more than any awesomely baked good (that will add to me all of the wrong things... i.e. inches and pounds. No thanks) or creatively crafted bib (which I did yesterday and felt less than accomplished by the end of it.) Taking twenty minutes to take him outside and teach him about leaves, bugs, water... even now these are the crucial moments. Five years from now when he's off to school and I'm weeping over having nothing to do, I will quickly remember this photo of this mom and how now my baby is big enough to stand beside me and learn from me and I can take all of those arms and wrap them around him tight.

I have to clarify something though. While I believe there are a lot of moms and dads who leave their little ones to fend for themselves far too often, so they can go and do what makes them feel good, I am also aware of many who are able to keep their personal plates spinning and still give their children their whole heart. I know this because I've seen them both. This statement and conviction is simply me realizing my strengths and weaknesses.

Yesterday I spent whatever nap hours I had trying to make some pocket bibs for M. I'm really cheap, and every time I pass these bibs in Target I can't bring myself to spend the kind of money they are asking. So I set out to resolve the problem myself. While I enjoyed being able to sew and create, I carried a fairly heavy heart all day. I couldn't shake feeling like the project had become a greater priority than my boy. He still got all of my attention when he was awake, but I felt rushed. I counted down the minutes to naps so I could get back to the project and just get it done. All of this left me feeling sad. This is not what I want motherhood to be like. As I laid my head on the pillow last night I felt disappointed. I wondered how moms and dads are able to work from home and still give their child their all. It's going to take me some time to get the hang of this. I guess that's why they say the first one gets jipped. They're the trial and error child. I know I can't sit around and do nothing while he's awake, and I realize he needs to learn to be on his own (we have recently initiated playpen time, and it's going wonderfully. He's getting better and better and playing on his own in a safe environment). But one thing I do know: I do not want M and any of our future children to be another plate. Even the prettiest of china pales in comparison to my family.

 

So if you don't see me posting it's probably because I'm still trying to figure this all out, all the while making and cherishing memories with my sweet boy. He's almost one. I can't believe it. Today, if weather permits, take a cue from M and go learn about the leaves or the bugs or the water. It's a pretty fun lesson to learn and relearn.

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My Big Question

My great, big, scary body-image question. No, more like a self-image question, because truly, my insecurities and short-comings and false notions revolve around more than just my physical form. But before I ask you the question, and in turn truly ask myself the question for the very first time, let me backup.

As stated in my previous post, I am a believer in the Author's sincere interest in my life; the tiny and the mighty, and everything that fits right in between. He romances, that is for sure. He also asks. He asks for my service, for my love, for my devotion, for my time. Recently He began asking me something I wasn't quite ready to hear. As a self-proclaimed victim of "seriously low self-esteem", I've created a life for myself that , in one way or another, revolves around how poorly I feel about myself. The trouble with this is that I have spent about 65% of my life feeling this way, so naturally, it has become somewhat of a character trait. My story is no different than anyone else, and honestly, that's not what I want to spend time sharing anyways. I will forewarn you in saying that this may or may not take two posts, and it may or may not be very esthetically pleasing to the English majors eye, but just stick with me.

Last week, a blogger that I follow began a series called 31 Days to Reclaiming Body Image (or something to that affect) and my immediate thought was, "yes, another thin, athletic, talented woman giving me advice on how to reclaim body image." And immediately I reminded myself that yes, it is possible for someone who has "all that I think will make me content" to have her own body issues too. So I swallowed my chill pill and kept on. With that topic lingering in the back of my mind one morning I felt challenged with a question.

 

What if you never change?

 

What if, for the rest of your days, you stay the very size you are right now?

 

Your waist doesn't get smaller, and definitely not firmer. Your boobs don't magically shrink and start defying gravity. Your skin keeps on keeping on in the pimple department.

 

What if?

 

While hating every fiber of this question, I also felt intrigued. It was almost as if a tiny shard of these lie-ridden glasses I've been wearing came loose and fell off. A little light of hope? A little glimpse of what might actually be my reality? So I kept mulling over this question, all the while poking and prodding each area of disdain... but with each day the pokes became a bit lighter, less hate-driven. Then I sat to do my BSF study. And I heard what was quite possibly written just. for. me.  We are studying Matthew 4 this week. To save you my interpretation I will simply share the words directly.

"Self-control and trust in God must replace a determination to control their own situation and others. And a truly contented spirit has no room for an attitude of self-pity and complaint." Ouch.  Remember back when you were in High School and instead of just feeling bad about yourself you also made sure everyone else knew how bad you felt about yourself? No? Well I do, because I did it often. See, that's the twisted thing about the deception of low self-esteem. It tells you that you really just feel oh so badly about yourself when in reality it's a serious pride issue.  It's a way of making everything about you and not needing to feel guilty or prideful about it. I mean, how could you? You're the sad chubby girl with no boys that like you. Or so you say. As an adult this habit changes slightly, but at the core it is the same. Instead of friends at school hearing your woes, it's your husband, or your family, or your boyfriend. In an effort to trudge through this life, I've resolved to control the one thing I know how; my dislike of myself. Truly trust God? Have self-control? What are these things they speak of? Do I long for a truly contented spirit more than I enjoy my attitude of self-pity and complaint? This is just one of many pieces that the big question brings about, and yet another reason why I didn't want to answer it when asked.

"Will you put aside your self-centered life of urgent but empty pursuits and ambitions? Will you trust the One who offers God's acceptance and transformation to real security and peace? Your Savior and King is here for you." The society we live in offers a lot of quick fixes for a lot of things. Just watch an infomercial. Major results in minor [time, commitment, money, effort]. This has always been my beef with diet fads, which is why my story does not include many of those. I have, however, bought into exercise tapes (Hip Hop Abs, anyone? Insanity?), the fitness magazines, and endless pins on Pinterest. The basic idea in our culture is that everyone has a "better" that they could be. Or for me, "should" be. I should be:

  • shorter
  • thinner
  • faster
  • stronger
  • dress "hipper"
  • be "more frugal"
  • crunchier (or more "natural" for those who don't get what that means... mom...)

I could keep going. And let me clarify one thing. No one, and I mean no one has told me that I need to be these things. These are things that have been fed to me by the thief of joy and author of deception. He has no greater love than seeing me live a life controlled by pity and pride. Two key words stuck out to me in the above quote: acceptance transformation

In a life filled with Pinterest and Facebook and mommy-wars and living "naturally", what woman (or man) in their right mind isn't desperately searching for acceptance? In a world of crazy, fat-melting Amazonian fruits and fitness magazines and Crossfit, what person doesn't long to see their physical body transform? But the truth I am beginning to see is that the acceptance and transformation will never be found in these places. It is found in the quiet places. Places of solitude, places of love. Family, laughter, joy, this is where we can truly feel accepted because we can truly just be. And the more I take the time to place myself there, in those moments that truly matter, the more I will see my soul, mind and heart transform. This weekend was my High School reunion, and it was absolutely no coincidence (maybe more like a harsh joke) that I would be pondering this question while returning to the place that birthed so many of these insecurities. I'm not a makeover story, the girl who walks in the room and blows everyone away with her crazy weight-loss and gorgeous hair and clothes and blah blah blah. I'm just an older, more mature version of the same girl who shied away from cool kids and ate lunch by her locker. As Saturday progressed and my womanly nerves began to get a little wracked, I truly asked myself that question, "Is it okay if you don't change?" (I decided that while I might be willing to discuss my options on being okay with the state of my physical form, I do know that there are parts of my mental, emotional and spiritual form that I do not want to see stay the same. But that is a topic for another post.) As I made my way to the neighborhood Target I passed something that made me smile and remind God that I had, in fact, not forgotten our previous discussion.

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I mean, what? This handmade sign, in a random person's front yard. Not a question. Not a call to confidence. Just the words that have been on my mind some five days or so. "Laura, your self-esteem is not found in anyone you will see while looking straight ahead but only when you look up." Needless to say, I made some giant leaps in acceptance that afternoon and resolved to enjoy myself no matter what. And I did. And the question still lingered.

So I will ask you the same question. If nothing changed, would you and could you be okay with that? If the answer is no, what are the things you do not want to carry into your life fifteen years down the road? Will these things hinder the way you love yourself, your family and your life? Will this drive a wedge between you and your Maker, the One who crafted you with such great care?

There are always ways to better ourselves, but I'm challenged to take a step back and see where I'm allowing my focus to lie. I always tell myself (and I know you do this too, so don't deny it), "Once I [do, make, lose, accomplish]_______, then I will finally be able to be content and put this whole big mess behind me." Another question to ask myself is, "If _____ changes, will I truly be content? Or is that an excuse to continue to look inward instead of out?"

I don't know about you but I've missed a whole lot of lives around me simply because I've been too busy feeling sorry for little old me. Some 17 years have passed and I can honestly say I do not want to spend another 17 replaying the same scenes.

So to that I guess I would like to ask you "My Big Question". Would you, could you, be content? (Cue the green eggs and ham.)

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it" (1)... not even a hot bod with killer hair and glowing skin. Not even an awesome "body after baby". Not one single bit of it. So to this I aim to remember that my body is a temple of the Holy of Holies. My husband and son deserve my very best. My future children deserve a healthy oven from which to be baked. So I must do what I can to take care of what has been given to me. But to these aims, not the aims of the society of which I live.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money (or beauty or societal acceptance) and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." " (2). Guys, this is really what He wants... for me, for us... to truly know that He will never leave us, even when we wish so badly we could leave ourselves. This is what life is about. Contentment in Him, because He is here for us.

Next time you look in the mirror, really look at yourself and ask. It might be interesting to see what you find.

To read more about the 31 Days of Reclaiming Body Image you can visit www.thelittleway.net

Verse references: 1. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 2. Hebrews 13:5

Today, I've been romanced

and it was in the most unexpected of ways. We started our morning with an outing to the farmer's market. After grabbing a 1/2 peck of Honeycrisp apples (thank you, U of M, for creating such a deliciously crisp apple) we got in the car to head home. But I faced a dilemma of sorts. You see, I have a thing for a little place called Caribou Coffee, and she and I have been separated these last three years. So as you can imagine, I take advantage of most opportunities to indulge myself (I say "most" but what I really mean is "each and every"). Here in lies the dilemma... the farmer's market shares a parking lot with Caribou. Shares it. So you can see why I really basically had no other choice. And they have a drive-thru, a.k.a. I don't have to take the baby out of the car seat. Double-whammy. Before I even realized what I was doing I was already sitting at the speaker listening to the cheerful lady ask what she could get started for me. After discovering that one of my favorite drinks (a vanilla rooibos tea latte) had zero caffeine I quickly adjusted my course of action and asked for a medium light roast with white chocolate... the cheap girls version of a frou-frou drink. *Let me pause and adjust your visual here. My parents just got a new vehicle and I have been blessed enough to cruise around town in it. It is by no means flashy but definitely new and definitely an upgrade from our already "good and gets the job done" Endeavor. As I drive it I enjoy pretending like I actually could own a car with satellite radio and a back-up camera. It's fun and I'm enjoying it while I can. I also, personally, don't believe that young people should be able to have such nice things. There's a reason why the older you get the nicer your stuff gets. You work hard while your young to enjoy your harvest when you're older. So I enjoy little glimpses to the future. Or maybe even the never, who knows.*

As I waited for the car in front of me I counted the dollar bills I had with me and talked a bit with M in the back in an effort to keep him awake until we got home so he could lay down for his nap without interruption. We pulled up and I waited. A lovely young girl carrying my precious coffee greeted me with a grin and said, "The person in front of you already paid for you coffee and wanted to tell you to have a great day!" So, naturally, I quickly adjusted myself and lifted my chin from the dropped position and began to smile so wide and asked, ever so awkwardly, "What? Are you serious?" To that she said, "yes" and more smiles were exchanged and even more stutters and stumbles (all from my end). All in all the exchange lasted a little longer than probably necessary considering I didn't actually have to give her anything at all, just had to take the cup from her. After I took it and drove away I began to really realize what had happened. You see, I've been making a significant effort to spend M's morning nap doing my BSF study as well as spend some time in prayer. These last few days have been pretty busy, making today the first day in a while I've had to set the better part of his nap aside to spend with my Lord. Knowing this, I was all the more anxious to get him in bed for a full nap because time was of the essence. As I pulled away with my coffee I made the realization that I was, in fact, being romanced by the Man I was about to have a date with.

And He treated.

Talk about romantic. There was always something special about going out, even for coffee, and having T offer to pay. I felt special. Taken care of. Worthy. This morning, He showed me that I am those very things to Him. He needed me to know that even though I cannot go on a coffee date with my love, my Lord and love will join me on one every day of the week. And He will romance me in a season that could be considered very romance-less.

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Another thing I realized upon receiving this coffee was the power of obedience, which coincidentally came up in my study time. The person in front of me could have seen a young girl in a nice new car and thought, "pssh... she obviously isn't in want. I'm sure she has no problem affording a cup of coffee. I'll seek out someone who I think is more deserving." There was no way of them knowing that I am actually an Army wife who is not in want but does not necessarily have excess. He has provided for us all that we need, but it is true that sometimes a cup of coffee is a luxury and I am more than okay with that. Or that my husband, and the father of my child gurgling in the back seat, is across the world and we will not see his face, except for a blurry skype call, until the beginning of summer. But they did not judge. They did not assume. They just blessed.

How often do I just bless? Without asking questions, or making assumptions. Just do as I'm asked. I have to say, not often. I always just know that I know what's really going on. Who people really are. Reality is, I have absolutely no idea. Repeatedly I am surprised by the kindness of people around me, most of which are the most unsuspecting. And yet I still walk around like I know all. It's pure madness!

Obedience is the lesson of my romantic encounter with my Lord today. It's pretty tough to be obedient in an very disobedient world. But it's something I will always need to be brought back to.

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And that He delights in romancing me. He knows my heart. He knows what makes me smile. He knows I'm worth far more than a $2 cup of coffee. And He will forever show me that in beautiful, unsuspecting ways. How sweet is my Lord.

P.S. Can we just take a minute and look at how cute my honey is? *He's the one with the killer smile and smiley eyes*

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My heart melts.

Childbirth

I've been thinking a lot about childbirth lately (no, not because I will be experiencing it any time soon. Although I do have the fever pretty bad). You see, I've returned to my home town just in time for the recent births of several babies. Friends, friends of friends, co-workers... Seriously, babies everywhere. It's just the most wonderful thing. My heart just smiles seeing these families become parents for the first time... remembering our not too distant past filled with sleepless nights, crying for what felt like hours and a belly button scab that I just couldn't wait to be rid of. All of those beautifully exhausting things, that truly slip by in a moment. Now he's almost a year old and so much of that is of the past, never to come again (for him anyways). How many more times will I experience them? How many more times will I anxiously (and angrily and painfully) anticipate the birth of the baby I've been making for 9 months? Only He knows and I will boldly and loudly exclaim that if it's even once more we are blessed beyond what we deserve. We are already blessed beyond what we deserve simply because we have M.What's been on my mind has been the process of childbirth. You see, due to my proctocolectomy (surgery to remove my entire colon and do some pretty cool stuff with my small intestine to get me up and running again) I am unable to have a vaginal birth. I must always deliver via c-section. For some moms this would be devastating. For me, I was just thankful to even be able to carry a child. We were given hopeful odds for conception, so we went into it thinking it wouldn't be a problem. Motherhood reality check number one. It doesn't happen very easily for everyone. Nearly two years (and many tears) later we found out we were expecting. This news, coming amidst news of loss and heartache for others around us, was the second motherhood reality check I had received and for me the chapter had only just begun. How different motherhood is for everyone. How fascinating to know that it happens to people in so many different ways. Whether by surprise, after many heartaches, accompanied by lots of doctors and injections or by someone who is not able to care for the child themselves, the process of becoming a mother is wonderfully unique. My third reality check was two days after M was born, when I realized I was unable to breast feed. Years ago I had a breast reduction under the impression from my surgeon that I should "have no problems breast feeding when the time comes." He had "never had a patient who was unable to successfully nurse their child." Suffice it to say I went into this whole nursing thing with my head in the clouds and my heart left unguarded. Little did I know, there is a very small percentage of women who are able to nurse after a reduction. (For more accurate information on this go to www.bfar.org.) To say that my heart was broken would be quite the understatement. By His grace I was able to watch my heart change by the hour as I went from heartbroken to thankful for whatever He provided that would allow our son to grow healthy and strong. After months of playing around we landed on goats milk formula as the best possible alternative for him. That is a different story for another time. The fact that I couldn't nurse was hard but I got over it relatively quickly... Until recently. Something about seeing so many friends with new babies... Hearing the stories of their milk coming down, or how well their child is eating... A little voice in by head asks the question, "Am I less of a mother? I don't know what it feels like to have my milk come down, so am I not the real thing?" In hearing these recent stories of childbirth, so fresh in their minds, I've soaked in the uniqueness of each one. It's truly amazing how no birth is the same. I love each story just as I love the families who brought these little people into the world. The thing is, you don't often hear many stories of people just walking into the hospital for their appointment to get numbed up and cut open to birth their child. Usually there are contractions, timing, walking, bathing, squatting, and a whole slew of other things involved... Even if the end result is still a c-section. I love our memory of waking up to the alarm, getting everything in the car, kissing the pups goodbye and praying the entire 4 minute drive to the hospital. I love the memory of walking up to the desk with a giddy smile across my face and saying, "I'm Laura Ferguson and I'm here to have my baby." There was no rush. There was no contracting or Lamaze breathing or yelling at my husband. It was scary and exciting and nerve wracking and possibly one of the best moments we will ever have shared together. But I didn't feel any pain. I don't know what it feels like to be in labor. Am I less of a mom because I don't know what that feels like? Am I not "in it" as much as the others because I haven't felt that horrible pain (so I hear)? Reality check number four. The thing with this reality check is that it didn't hit until 10 months after he was born. It took that long for the lie to grow and fester to the point where I could acknowledge it. All of our birth stories are different. And all of our birth stories are valuable. As I've fought this ugly slimy lie these past few days I've tried to focus on the women in God's word who were mothers. Certainly He would've included some truth to comfort me in this battle over my mind. I found that none of these women's birth stories were recorded. None. The fact that the child was born, that was it. No hint to their pain, their delivery method, whether they labored for five hours or sixteen. Just the beautiful miracle of the person. The little, wonderful, life changing person. There is also no mention of nursing. Obviously one would assume that they all did this, but what about women who just couldn't? I mean there had to be some around back then too, right? But again, no mention of that, just of the strong men their babies became. The recording of the amazing futures these men held, to me, is a nod to the provision they were given by their mothers. They were obviously cared for. They were nurtured, fed, clothed, changed, kissed, disciplined, taught and let go. These women were moms. They did what they needed to do. The only thing that was recorded was the reoccurring theme of barrenness. This is a very real and very prominent thing in the lives of so many women. So many that each of us interact with regularly, whether we know it or not. Children are truly a gift from God. To some, it may seem more evident. As I've read about them, their struggles and blessings, and I've thought about the mothers around me, I've been encouraged to know that mothers are kinda like snowflakes. There are no two that are alike. Similarly with the way we become mothers. Sure there are only a handful of means but each heart, each family, has been perfectly crafted for that child. There is a reason why God not only wants but needs for you to be the mother to that child. Whether you carried the child or not, labored or didn't, nourished by the breast or by a next best thing, you are just what that child needs. There is no one who could do a better job than you. So, after all of these words and all of these thoughts, I'm prepared to put these slimy lies behind me and know in full confidence that even though I can't say I know how it feels to be in labor, I know that I am just the mom for M. The one who was created so that he might be created to live a life to bring Him glory. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah (who was barren and was blessed by the birth of Samuel) says to Eli regarding Samuel, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to The Lord. I prayed for this child and The Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to The Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to The Lord." That is motherhood. Giving them to The Lord, for their whole lives.

Be still my heart. Thank you for letting me process these things with you. Be encouraged, mama. You are everything they need for this day.

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Blog Expectations

So I realize that the rate of ones success in blogging is largely dependent upon how often they blog (I.e. every day) but can I just say that I just don't have the time. Ok, that's a lie, time isn't always the excuse. There is a large part of me that just doesn't want to. Not because I don't want to be a "blogger" but because I still have that little girl inside my head that just can't stand doing what she's supposed to. If I hadn't set this as a goal for this deployment and could just do it out of pure enjoyment and knew that only strangers were going to read it, I can guarantee I'd be blogging much more frequently. There is something about goals, or to-do lists, that bring out my rebellious side... And let me tell you, I don't have much of a rebellious side. Just ask my family. Sweets and expectations. Those are my areas of rebellion.

So what about blogging? Heck, I could do it daily, I sure have enough going on in my brain to make for a few interesting posts every now and then. I know I could squeeze in some time to write it out. I think a few people would read them... At least I know my sisters would. So why not do it?

Beeeeeeccaaaaaaauuuuuuuusse.

I actually don't have a better answer than that.

See, apparently I'm halfway decent at writing, and I'm not sure why or how. I will not go around saying I'm even mildly capable of good writing because, lets be honest, who that is truly talented walks around telling people that they are? Humility. That's the ticket. But also, I'm just a person writing what I think. So I guess it's not about being a talented writer but a creative, albeit wordy, thinker.

I have a lot of thoughts every day, mostly unimportant, but usually one that carries me through the day. Sometimes it is an encouraging thought, other times its a challenging one. Today, for example, it was a bit of a downer. After having read a blog post about "Mom Wars" or something of that nature, I have found my brain being bombarded with the ways I don't measure up. This doesn't make sense, I know, because if you have read the post you will understand that it is a message of liberty and freedom in parenting and womanhood. An invitation to not try to measure up to everyone else but to just be so thankful for you. Maybe it's because the best person I know is halfway across the world and I haven't gotten to really talk to him in a couple of days. Or maybe it's all of these changes catching up to me. Or maybe it's just a good old fashioned down-in-the-dumps kind of night. Whatever the cause my mind has been thinking lots of things and none of them are particularly flattering.

The lesson for today though, is that sometimes, if you can get over yourself enough to talk to the people you try hard to be strong and independent in front of, you might actually find freedom in the humility. There is something so scary and so liberating about humility. I learned that today.

I'm a stubborn woman and an even more stubborn daughter. But tonight I found comfort in the words of my mom while sitting at the kitchen table crying over a cup of hot tea. It doesn't matter how old you are or how independent you try to prove yourself to be, there is always comfort in an honest conversation with someone who loves you.

There's my thoughts. Well, some of them anyways. I have some thoughts about comparing pregnancy to deployment but I can get to that later. As far as blogging goes, I'd have to say keep bugging me. Maybe if I have the accountability I'll sit down and do it. But then again I just might not.

Time

I've been thinking a lot about it today... time... and my thoughts have ranged from too many cuss words to admittedly type, to warm and fuzzy and full of hope. Tomorrow is the day. In my darkest of thoughts I have gone to the extreme of counting the hours we have left. (It's 22 hours and counting at this point... but I'd rather not be counting, if I could help it.) The thing about time is that it always passes, even when we wish with every fiber of our being that it would just stop. Or when the opposite happens and we wish with all of our might that it would speed forward. It just keeps. passing. tick. tick. tick. And that is what makes me want to slap it in the face.

When I think about 22 hours and I know how quickly it will pass I want to scream and throw up and crawl under the covers. I want to weep for my son. I want to weep for my husband. And I do weep for myself. Because no matter how hard we pray and no matter how well we spend the last hours, they will still pass. We will still hug and kiss and say our "good-byes" (or rather "see you soon"s)... and I just don't want to. I want to be the little girl in the corner with her arms resting on her knees stomping her foot in defiance. I just don't want to say goodbye.

Here's why time is a bitch. Because all of the things in life that are hard, that we dread, happen eventually. Grace is when we don't know they are going to happen ahead of time and we are forced to accept it and move on in order to keep functioning. Time is a mean girl sitting in the corner during every interaction we've had together these last few months, with her legs crossed and her finger gently tapping the watch on her wrist. She doesn't need to say anything, we all know she's there. And in these last days and hours she's grown to be about the size of an elephant... I'd love it if she'd leave.

But another reason why time is a bitch is because it can be so dang sweet. For every mother who has waited and carried and prayed for 9 months, time can be the most annoying and exciting thing in her life. I don't think I've ever been more excited than when we counted down the days till we met our son. I didn't like time then, but in the best way possible. For every family member who has excitedly awaited the arrival of their loved one who has been gone from them for months, the passing of hours is enough to make you explode with butterflies and tinglies. Minutes feel like hours but the smile on your face is enough to let any passerby know something amazing is about to happen to you.

Today, someone who passes me by may wonder if my dog just died or something equally horrible. (Side note: when either of my dogs do die, I can guarantee you I will be approximately 125% worse than I am right now.) I can't stop thinking about the passing of time, first with feelings of hatred immediately followed by so much hope. Because my soldier will come home. In about nine months I will be close to exploding with butterflies and tinglies. And we will be reunited and it will feel so good.

Because of His goodness I will not be overwhelmed. His grace will cover me. His grace will cover my husband. His grace will cover our son.

My life has been filled with hugs and cooking and laundry and walks and dishes and kisses and everything else that is oh so sweet about our life together. And for a very short season it will look a little bit different... a little less full of those things. But it will still be full, and this I know. Because no matter where we are or where our "home" may be, I know he is coming. I know he loves me. He knows I love him. And Christ will bridge the physical gap ahead.

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So bring it on, time. And I promise I won't call you a bitch again... I'll search for a more creative option.