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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Exciting News! *It's not a baby... duh*

After months and months of active and passive prayer, sought out counsel and some heels stuck in the ground, I've decided to dive into a new adventure. On February 27th I will begin 10 week training to become a Holy Yoga Instructor.

What is Holy Yoga? Well, it's awesome, that's what. It's a ministry of people, all kinds of people, who love our Savior. It's also people of all fitness backgrounds and levels who come together to enjoy and further their yoga practice. But instead of me trying to explain in my own fumbled words I'll just direct you to them.

Why Holy? I've felt for some time His gentle nudge... His patient desire to use me. I would say about 90% of the time I desperately try to ignore Him. And out of that 90% I usually actually obey about 45%. But I do know that He desires to use my voice, as He desires to use yours. I guess I just finally decided to relinquish control and let Him have me. The "holy" part of this ministry, if I can be so bold, is the aspect I feel I have the most control of. Now, God knows I absolutely do not have control of it, but He, in his mercy, will show me that slowly as I travel forward in obedience. In my head and in my struggles God and fitness have always been two separate entities. It has always been a mystery to me why God would care about my physical fitness, because in my mind, it was always with the end goal of looking thin, toned and smokin'. So obviously He wouldn't be for something like that... boasting in my body? In my hotness? Not a chance. But apparently He cares a great deal about my physical fitness, but not with the end goal of making me smokin' but making me alive, well, and able to actively grow with my husband and children as we live each day. Which leads me to the "yoga" part...

Why yoga? I've practiced yoga "lightly" for several years. It has always been my favored form of exercise because it allows me to challenge myself but also feel able. Because my natural stamina does not represent that of a cross country runner, and I'm far too nerdy and insecure to hang out in the weights area of the gym, I find that I feel at home on a mat in a room of people who are (usually) all in varying places in their practice. It has a very welcoming feel to me and I like that. I would like to feel welcome when I am standing face to face with my head full of lies, and that's usually what happens whenever I approach fitness of any kind. Yoga has always allowed me to dig deep and find that confidence I usually can't find. The other thing I find enticing about yoga is that, like our faith, you never really reach a place where you have "arrived". There is always something you can grow in, a new posture you can excel in, another variation you can try. Both of these things, my walk with Jesus and my yoga practice, give me something to work towards always. And both are gracious enough to allow small, reachable goals in the process.

Why now? Well, why not? I mean here's the deal. T gets home from the far-away land mid May. My course is 10 weeks long. This is quite literally my last goal to achieve before he is home and my heart can fully smile and we can be whole again. If I waited I would be juggling curriculum hours and payment plans and going to classes while my husband tries to go to school full time and work part time and blech... just not ideal. So the timing couldn't be more perfect... but His timing usually is so I'm not surprised.

 

So I have two things for you... yes, you.

 

One) Be praying for me in this, if you would be so kind. I'm going up against some nasty, deeeeeeep rooted lies going into this and I'm praying and believing Him to be more than enough to deliver me from them through this. If you know my heart you know that my insecurity is enough to paralyze me at times, so going forward in a ministry that is about spirituality as well as physicality is slightly terrifying. But my God is faithful... this I know full well. My desire is to be obedient in this task so that others around me may see the freedom He came to give them, through the physical practice of yoga and the spiritual act of worship. My life is His, always and forever, and I long more than anything to be a vessel of hope... to show that there is so much more than what you see around you. And in whatever way He desires to use me in this specific ministry, I choose to move forward in faith and obedience.

Two) In an effort to help support myself through the financial aspect of the course I will be putting some of my lovely little "crafts" out there for the world to enjoy as well. I will be putting other things out over time, as I haven't been able to get all of the ideas in my head manifested in real life. But I do have two things currently and if you know of anyone or you yourself would be interested in them then please consider helping me out in this journey by supporting our family (and my increasing addiction to crafting).

Without further ado, let me introduce you (or your little ones, rather) to the "Drool-y"

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Ok, I realize the name might need some work but the item itself is pretty awesome. Made of cotton t-shirt material, it is essentially a baby cowl to help soak up that never-ending faucet that is your child's mouth. Yes, my child's mouth too. You may be thinking, "Man, that's cute and all but who would ever actually put that on their kid?" Well, you're "looking" at her. M wears his all the time (when he is in someone's supervision, of course. Don't leave it on during naptime) and it has been a shirt saver and a mommy-sanity saver... and a baby skin saver too. M is old enough now that bibs are no match for him. Those suckers are down for the count a mere 15 seconds after they've entered the ring. So all I'm left with is a kid with a sopping wet shirt... or changing his shirt about 5 times a day, which I'm not into.

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I got the idea from a little mustard-yellow cowl I made him while visiting family in Canada. But I'll get to that in a minute. The nice part about these versus the little mustard cowl is that, because it is made of cotton, it can easily be thrown in the wash with other laundry. With a knit or crochet cowl, if you're like me, you would want to consider hand washing that. I've got a few different patterns I'm going to come up with in the days to come but this is the pilot option and we love it.

I'm also offering what I've coined "Cowly's". No craziness here, it's a baby cowl. 

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What is great about these, despite what others (ahem... our husbands) might think, is that they truly are a chilly-baby necessity. In the winter months, when these poor little big bellied, barely walking people try to go outside, they must first be wrapped and zipped and stuffed and covered. The more mobile they become the harder it is to keep these garments on them and them toasty. M's jacket, when zipped up all the way, stabs him in the neck/chin, especially when he's sitting down or in his car seat. His hat's flaps either don't come down far enough or drive him nuts and he's done with that mess before we even step outside.

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So not only is mama a fan of the cowly but baby is too. It took him two or three wears to really adjust but now it's no big deal for him. He really loves it. And this one also serves to help with the drool factor, too.

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Bonus: by next winter they should work great as headbands! *thumbs up*

What I'm asking:

Droolys-

  • 4-8 Months: $12
  • 9-12 Months: $13
  • 13-18 Months: $14

(Also planning on having options if you want more than one.)

Cowlys-

  • 9-12 Months:$15
  • 13-18 Months: $17

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My other little buddy that I would love to make available to you is the "Lovie".

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M is quite infatuated with his blankies (and by that I mean he is obsessed with them.) It's a fight between his blankies and his robe for his true devotion. At the end of the day these always win out. I made his first one when he was 8 months, and it didn't take long to realize he needed another one. I'm not about to spend precious hours searching for a blankie because he needs it to go to sleep.

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There are SO many options for this it's ridiculous. Between the minky fabric to the pattern piece on the front it's endless. I wanted to put the feelers out and go from there. These are about 15 inches in diameter, so they are a good size for little hands to carry around the house, and not too big to worry (as much) about them suffocating themselves in a fit of rage. (Is my kid the only one who has to bite a mouth full of his fist or his blanket when he's angry? Yes? Alrighty then...)

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One thing I will recommend with these though, is to consider getting two. It's nice if they can be similar in color, so if you have to swap one out for the wash, little buggy doesn't throw a fit when you throw him or her the color they don't like as much. I'm a little crazy and I tried to "ask" M when he was 7 months old, what color he preferred. I personally leaned more towards green, but in a show of paci's (blue or green) blue won out. So I stuck with the same minky blue and chose different patterns for the middle... keeping variety and security in the same blankets.

For the Lovies:

  • Standard 15" cotton and minky mix- $18
  • Anything larger, like the crib comforter I made M, would really depend on the size and fabric but they are definitely doable and so cute. (M's is a minky hedgehog print on one side and a flannel birch forest print on the other. SO cute. I'll post pictures soon.)
  • If you want to get two then they would be $32.

Please, please, PLEASE give me feedback. Let me know if you are even remotely interested in any of these. I can post some pictures of color options but really the sky is the limit for all of these things, so you can let me know what colors you would enjoy seeing. M is often drug through the fabric store so it is a frequented destination for us.

I realize for some of my very crafty and talented friends these items are not anything super challenging. So to that I just ask you to remember that this is solely as a way to help support my journey into the Holy Yoga ministry. I know and believe that God will provide, and I also know that He has provided me with these talents and there is no reason for me not to put them out there for others to enjoy too.

 

So again, PLEASE let me know if you're interested. I need feedback to know if I should keep going down this road. And we're at the halfway point with winter, so take the opportunity to save your little ones neck during the last half.

 

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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

 

 

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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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.

And Friends Are Friends Forever

As I prepare to write my thoughts for the last few days, this classic Michael W. Smith song is playing in my head... and I have to say it's not the greatest. No offense to Michael but that's one of those songs where you never really knew what he was trying to say but the words were mercilessly trapped in your brain, unwilling to leave. Thankfully, I have not been pondering the meaning behind these words, but rather one single word and all that it entails.

Friends.

There's the show, which let's face it, might be one of the best shows ever. (I know many will argue this, but honestly, you will get no where with me. I've seen every episode, several times... which may be why I, at various times, have felt like I have few friends. They all know I spend my time watching a decade-old show over and over and over. I think my husband sometimes doesn't want to be my friend when he sees me take the DVDs out again.)

There's the memories of times-past. Childhood friends. High school friends. College friends. Work friends.

There's mommy friends. Church friends. Neighborhood friends. The ever-touchy and ever-changing couple friends (one we have only nailed twice. This is a touchy subject in our home.)

My trouble is that I find it ridiculously difficult to really find a friend. *To my dear friends (who are mostly far, and some near) please know that I am about to explain why I run into this feeling time and time again and that it has nothing to do with the amount of how much I love you and know that you love me.* I have this thing, that I've decided is actually a huge act of God's grace but at times I think it's so inconvenient. I can't remember an exceptionally large amount of my past. I remember the big things, but everything other than those large, monumental moments looks a lot like what I see when I take my glasses off... only even more blurry and maybe even just straight up dark. (I am pretty blind, FYI... -4.25 or something like that.) So my frustration is that I can see the general idea, like:

Elementary school was awesome, I had lots of friends. I got teased a lot by boys though. I remember that. And that's when I learned what it felt like to feel fat. To recognize that something about my little girl body was not what it should be to other people. That part I didn't like.

High School was a whole lot of crazy. I was popular (in my mind anyways. I had a lot of friends. I thought people liked me.) I could never get that one guy to like me though... which shot right back to my life lesson from elementary school-I'm too fat. Then one day I became not-popular. I could count the number of real friends I had on one hand. Then I came to Christ and youth group proved that I could have friends again and people could love me and care for me. "Friendship" had regained it's value.

College (age... couldn't finish) was when I learned about thick and thin friends... the kind who really stick with you. Through terrible bouts of disease. Through traveling the world. Through it all, really.

Army life was when it all came crashing down. Maybe it was moving across the country and starting over in a new place. Maybe it's being in a transient environment. Maybe it was just me; maybe I had given up on reaching out and giving my all to the women around me, regardless of how they responded. I don't find it coincidental though that through this relentlessly tiring experience I have found a couple of friends that will stick. For forever, I hope.

I was once told, by a very wise woman, that there are three kinds of friends:

  1. Friends for a reason
  2. Friends for a season
  3. Friends for a lifetime

I think of this often and can say that this is very true. I am thankful for all three of these friends, for they all serve a purpose in the ultimate goal in my life: to bring Him glory. But can I just be honest and ask a question?

Does anyone else find it to be one of the loneliest places, as an adult, trying to find a friend? Someone who just wants to know you.

There are thousands of people all around us everyday and yet we can walk around not really being known. And how much fuller can our lives feel to just know that there is that friend who knows you - like really really knows you- and chooses to keep calling, keep hanging, keep growing with you...

The problem is I have this. I have these women in my life. They may not be near to me geographically but they couldn't be closer in my heart and mind. Yet time and time again the voice in my head reminds me of how lonely I feel. In those moments of weakness I choose to turn my face away from Truth... From what He has commanded me to do; fix my eyes on what is true, pure, holy, excellent, praiseworthy. And let me tell you, these women, these friendships, are praiseworthy. So as I've pondered this word "friends" the past two days, I've come to realize that I have as many friends as I choose to have. Plain and simple. It was my choice to focus my eyes on the ones who didn't reciprocate. Who were too busy. Who already had a best friend (that's a touchy one for me). Each and every one of those choices brought me here, to this place. I am a very loved woman walking around feeling very unloved all because I chose that for myself.

And so this I have been robbed of these last three years here in Texas. How many friendships could have blossomed had I been brave enough to offer myself to them. Been brave enough to try and try and be ok if it didn't work out. Trying to make friends as an adult reminds me an awful lot of what it felt like to have a crush in high school. I thought I was free of that dreadful feeling when I married my dude. But then again, my memory of those years is quite hazy.

So I guess I challenge you, as I am challenging myself in this new chapter of life, to be brave. Put yourself out there. Don't be a spectator. I've always felt the most comfortable just watching... but now I look back at my life like a movie and feel like I'm watching a whole lot of life pass by with a lot of missed opportunities. And I also challenge you, young and old, to be brave enough to walk away. If a person doesn't see how special you are, how very much you have to offer them, then you must simply turn and walk away. Because I'm pretty certain once you turn you just might find someone who will see and love and know all of those things about you and be so thankful they do.

*Parents of school-age kids: I challenge you to teach your children to be brave in this area too. In a world where kids are so horribly awful to one another, they need to be armed with bravery to know and love themselves so others can know and love them too. And teach them to open their eyes to everyone around them. For every popular girl or boy who's affection they are dying for there are five great kids who will truly appreciate them for who they are. This is a lesson I wish I had learned when I was young.

So let's all be friends, ok?

Ob-La-Di

As I fed M his lunch I began to sing, "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on bra" and he grinned his two-tooth grin. So I went with it and turned the actual song on. We finished lunch and danced around a bit. As I danced around our white, nearly empty, mostly boxed up Army house the lyrics of the song hit me. In a couple of years they have built A home sweet home With a couple of kids running in the yard Of Desmond and Molly Jones

We just celebrated our 4 year anniversary yesterday. I've always heard that "a couple" means 2, so by these standards we are ahead of them in married life points. I'm not sure how they managed a yard and a couple of running-age kids in two years, but that is not the point of my post. As I pondered these lyrics in relation to our life and home I peered out our window to the front yard and squeezed the kid in my arms. Desmond and Molly built a home sweet home in a couple of years. Our "home sweet home" belongs to the Army, and its contents are currently half in boxes and half at a storage unit the next town over.

There's a lot to be said for the concept of Home Sweet Home, but any military or transient family will tell you that the people who fill your home are what make it sweet. So maybe a better phrase would be "Home is where your heart is." In my case that will soon be two places. Idaho with me and across the world with him.

So while I'm happy for The Jones' and their kids and yard, I hope they had a lot more going for them than that. I know I do.

I Love

So I've started about 27 blogs (ok not really) and they've all lasted about two days (again, not really). But T is about to deploy and a lesson I learned from deployment #1 is that I accomplish more and process better when I can share life with the world. The reality is that there may be few who actually have any interest in this world of mine.  And for those "few" I am very thankful.

 

So my hope is to write about the happenings of our family as we make some major changes, experience new things and ultimately grow closer in the process. I might only post this entry... or I might post a million. We'll have to see. I downloaded the WP app, so here's hoping it's semi-user friendly and I'm able to blog from the iPad. This mom doesn't get much of a chance to sit at the computer. Besides, my couch is way more comfortable.

 

Highlights from today:

  • It's our 4 year Anniversary. Woo!
  • I got a speeding ticket this morning. In a work zone. fail.
  • I went against everything I stand for and got a coffee at Starbucks. And I cried at the window when he gave me my card back. (This was after said ticket).
  • It rained for the first time in a month today. Win!
  • I. Can't. Stop. Watching. Pretty. Little. Liars. That show needs to go away.

Yep, those are the highlights THUS FAR. But I'm going out with my man and my baby tonight so that will definitely be the highlight.