Well, it’s been no secret that we’ve been on the health struggle bus since we moved here. I’ve spent a lot more time worried about my husband and babies than myself, but that finally caught up with me. After my 10th positive strep test this year and many weeks of waiting, I finally got into an ENT.
He dug around and found necrotic tissue in my tonsils. Not good. He found swelling that was very bad. Before the exam he asked if I had bigger concerns about the sinus stuff or my tonsils. After the exam he asked me when I’d like to get them out. Essentially our discussion of options became option-less. “This is what we have to do!” became the tone of the conversation.
He was kind and patient when answering my questions. He’s hopeful that removing my festering tonsils will help that sinus pressure/infections and other problems. We finished our visit, and I was sent right to the scheduler. My surgery is scheduled for next month.
What does this mean? 10-14 days in bed where I will be able to do little other than pain management work and getting as much sleep as I can. What does this mean for my family?
1. I’m thankful that Rob’s workplace is filled with people who care about each person in my family. He will be able to work and help take care of all of us. I can’t express what that means or how thankful I am that we made the move for him to work with such incredible people. I’m working on a big article for a magazine so my timeline just got pushed way up. I am so thankful my boss is working with me on this. We now have editing scheduled during my recovery.
2. I was supposed to help host our gospel community next month, but now I can’t. If you know how much I love to host, you know I was really so upset to have to share that news. The second I told everyone, people began pulling out their phones and making a meal train, and putting MY surgery on THEIR calendars. We have longed for this ability to connect with the body for so long. I’m beyond grateful for that moment.
3. One of my best friends offered to figure out flying in or out of here if she could make it work without me even asking. My sister immediately volunteered to come stay the weekends to give Rob a break and help. My parents volunteered to come for the surgery day and for a few days to help Rob. A sweet friend even volunteered to just come watch TV with me so I wouldn’t be alone. More friends promised to step in and do whatever we needed- all because they love us.
4. Now a not so pleasant one: I have to stop breastfeeding. I never thought I’d do that longer than a year, but things have been so easy this go ’round, and Joshua has been so committed. Seriously, he loves to breastfeed still. I thought I was so ready to be done, but I already see how it’s frustrating him. I know my body can’t be responsible for such work post surgery, but this one has been tough on my heart.
This is surely going to be trying for all of us. If you think about our family next month, please pray that this procedure goes well, brings healing and restored health, and that the recovery is light on everyone. I hope my babies understand why I can’t be with them. I hope they get along and have so much fun with their daddy. I have every reason to hope this will all go well.
My mind is stressed trying to get all the ducks in a row- one more birthday party, getting Christmas decorations up, getting shopping squared away, and trying to prep as much as I can. I’m a planner. I like to know what’s in front of me. This is surely messing up an already busy time of year, but I’m trying, really trying, to set us up for this to go as well as possible all while remembering to breathe.
As my brain works triple overtime, pray for peace for all of us on the road to surgery and after. It’s going to be hard, but as I am learning, trusting God with my eternity means trusting Him with all of our today’s. For surgery day and after, I am choosing to set my mind and heart in trusting Him to care for all of us. He’s already showing up.
I am always in awe of my babies. I’m in awe of all they have accomplished and who they are becoming. They surprise me all the time, and one of the best ways they do is through their unique creativity.
Now that I’m also working outside our home, Lauren has a lot of questions about what I do. I recently gave presentation that I talked to Lauren about. It was last month, and to be honest, I haven’t thought about it again. I’ve been working on other things and a millions things at once.
Today Lauren came up to me and said, “Mom, I need your help to do a presentation.” I told her I would love to help her and asked why she wanted to do a presentation. She said, “I can do one like you!” Well, that warmed my heart and made me so proud. I was all in.
She designed a set, we made a storyboard, we practiced, and she gave her presentation which was really a fable/fairytale with a blend of characters from some of her favorite places which included The Good Wolf and a happy ending. It was INCREDIBLE!
She wanted to surprise her daddy and brothers, and she definitely did. She was a great storyteller and even wrote it down to keep. It was a wonderful tale of friends who banned together to solve their problems and have a party. She was positively precious and engaging and entertaining!
Everyday I’m so proud of this sweet girl, and today I’m reminded how every word counts. I’m reminded that in the things that slip my mind, there can be something important to my kids that spark interest and imagination in them. Today I’m challenged to always be mindful.
I can’t wait to see who she becomes! For today she’s a wonderful creative playwright, set designer, narrator, and the coolest big kid I know!
This last 12+ months have been hard on our family. With a tonsillectomy after endless strep, the flu, viruses, ear infections, and on and on, there has just seemed to be no end in sight.
That’s been hard. That’s been overwhelming. In some ways that has put blinders on me which blocked my peripheral. In that, I couldn’t see something huge.
Lauren was talking to me about her friend Jack at school. She’s told me some things about playing with him before. Today she told me Jack used to travel all the time. I asked why. She said, “Jack is a child cancer survivor. He travelled to Disney World, and to see doctors. He’s better now. His hair is growing back.” I couldn’t even think what to say for a second. I asks if she was sure he is better now. She said he was. She said, “Yes, he’s a survivor.”
If that wasn’t enough, a dear friend posted something to the effect of trusting God with her eternity, but not trusting Him with her now. I felt that one. I felt that one deep. God was gracious enough to make sure I wasn’t missing what He was saying to me through this post.
It is wearing to feel like your constantly running to the doctor, scrubbing and Lysoling, in line at the pharmacy, diffusing oils, measuring medicine, and trying to keep everyone well. I have felt that for a long time. It’s real, but this is too:
Inside my blinders I forgot to be thankful that what my kids have needed to be well was just a trip to the pharmacy away.
All they’ve had has been completely treatable. Even with having to go through surgery, the recovery went incredibly well. Even in this long, hard season, I should be so thankful for the positive things that have come, even in the sickness. I should be filled with gratitude for how we’ve had the access and means to care for our family completely. I will be thankful for those things.
I hear you Lord. I will be so much more intentional about trusting Him in each now, as they come.
I don’t give myself enough credit or grace, but I don’t think I’m alone in that. When I drop one ball, no matter how many others are STILL in the air, I feel it deeply.
Yesterday was tricycle parade day at kid’s day out for Joshua. I read the flyer, but:
1. I forgot.
2. I missed the part about them wearing their costumes.
3. I missed the part about needing to bring a tricycle.
Oh the trifecta of failure!
Here’s what happened. I carried Joshua into the gym, and since momma’s arms are his favorite mode of transportation, and I wasn’t leaving right then, he was thrilled.
He and I played chase all over the gym, and he loved running around the cones. All of the kids immediately bailed on their tricycles and ran and played. Joshua did not care that he wasn’t in a costume.
It fell hard on me though as I left headed into the office. After I left work I had to go by Ethan’s school to take his nap mat by since it was left at home Monday and Tuesday morning after I washed it over the weekend. I dropped it in the office, and they were very kind to me. They said that happens all the time, it was no big deal, and that they’d be sure he got it.
A diagnostician was leaving, and she said, “I don’t know why they send those things home so much. You know what happened to my kid’s nap mat when they were that age? It stayed in my car until Monday! We washed them maybe once every 6 weeks, and they were fine! All that they’re doing is giving you too many chances to forget it!”
That. That was what I needed in that moment. Someone who also lives a life with a million balls in the air to say that missing one thing was not a failure. Missing one this was not the end of the world.
That’s where I live. I live in the neighborhood of struggle because to err is human, and I forget that I am. I am a lot of things and have a lot of responsibility, BUT I AM HUMAN. I can make mistakes and not feel any less valid in my efforts.
I know I’m an overachiever. I know that I’ve had to work double time for every opportunity I’ve ever had. I know that aim toward perfection has always been my way, and it’s suffocating.
I see this most when God holds up a mirror when my kids struggle. Right now the biggest place I see this is Lauren. It’s not because we put that pressure on her. She does. She is a little bit too much like me in this area. If she misses the right answer, she gets upset. If everything isn’t 100 percent, she feels like she failed.
God is good in it. He’s giving me chance to change her trajectory. He’s giving me chances to heal this in me by seeing it and having to pour grace over Lauren, I can hear it for myself too. I can hear that getting it wrong is just part of learning. I can hear how 100 percent doesn’t matter as much as learning and trying your best. I can hear that even when you get the wrong answer, you can learn from it to know what to do next time. I get to tell her she just needs to slow down and remember to be patient with herself.
God is so good and He does good for us. He is healing me and teaching her about His heart for her. I am thankful. I am hopeful. I am glad to be His daughter. I am glad that there is grace for this. I am glad to be a part of breaking this cycle for my babies.
I’ve had to examine myself a lot lately. Have you ever had that feeling that all is not well in your heart, but you couldn’t get your finger on exactly what is bothering you? It’s a gnawing feeling. It doesn’t relent, and you have to examine yourself in an effort to keep bitterness or anger or resentment out of your heart. I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt those things welling up. I have so much to be thankful for, and I really am. There was just something that felt heavy. There was something I couldn’t see. When I did see it, it hit me with the full force of an 18 wheeler.
The truth is that those things were rearing up in me over reasons that were all about me. The way I saw life panning out has been interrupted. Doesn’t that always get us- when life gets in the way of our plans? Don’t we feel wronged, even if it’s not deeply wronged, when what we hoped seems all but lost?
There was some of that coming in, and by the time I noticed it, I had already given it more ground than I realized. I was sad. I was defeated. I didn’t understand why. Why were there things that were always going to be hard or at least harder than I expected or planned? Why was there so much more to do just to get to okay? Were things always going to harder than I wanted them to be? What would happen when I am no longer here to carry that weight?
These thoughts kept me up at night until I looked at myself closely enough to see them and what they were doing to me. Robbing me of peace. Shaking awake the reality that in some ways, everything would not turn out how I thought. With ruined dreams, slain hopes, and a picturesque life taken away, I had to figure out what was more important, what was most valuable. Were those things it? Had I hoped in them? Had I trusted that things would just go the way they “should” so much that them not going that way had shaken me?
I was half praying and half thinking through what was happening in my heart and mind, when a song I heard years before came to mind (link to video below). It struck me like a lightning bolt, and I could not be more thankful.
Though You Slay Me. In this I remembered that what He is doing is for my refining. What He’s doing is for His glory. What He’s doing is preparing me for eternity. What He is ruining is my way so that I would seek to know His. What He taking are my dreams so that I might know the destiny I was created for. What He is slaying is my desire to depend on anything besides Him, and in that, He is setting me free from the expectation of what things are supposed to be in my mind so that I might know that what He has is better. In crushing me in all of it, He is showing me the grace of receiving a beauty that is coming when I clutched the ashes of what I thought was over. It’s not over. He is not finished being good or doing good for me.
What is coming is more knowing and living in the truth of His sufficiency in all things. What is coming is splendor and joy through the exalting of the name of Jesus, whether or not life has ease. What is coming is deeper foundations being built into who I am because He loves me enough to show me what He has for me beyond what I planned for me.
What does that cost? Letting go. Living the hope I know to be real, and trusting His Father heart to meet me and minister to me and restore in me what was meant to feel like loss. I am not lost. I have always been in His hand. He has always been working for my good- especially when it didn’t feel like it.
What’s next? Waiting. Trusting. And waiting some more. This waiting is with the greatest expectations that what is coming will not wound but will bring with it the joy that I’m promised in Him. If you’re in this place too, hold fast. The things that hurt are not meant to break you beyond what needs to be wrenched from you.
What is coming is glorious. What is coming is for your good, and will work about a weight of glory that will be in you now and with you for eternity. Every bit of it matters. Every bit of it is seen. In every bit of it, you are being loved.
Grief is such a terrible thing because it can blindside you at any moment. Triggers hit hard and fast. I opened a bottle of marinade to pour onto some ribs for dinner. The second the smell hit my nose, all I could think about was his brisket. It smelled just like it- just like him after he’d been by the pit for hours and hours. I sobbed. It’s incredible that a smell can break your heart all over again.
The flood of memories speak to the great times. The times before the exit. The fishing trips. The Christmas celebrations. The summers. The cook offs. The smiles and hugs. The immense feeling of being loved- and then left behind.
Every time I was pregnant I only wanted that brisket. I only wanted the feeling that came with it. I only wanted my babies to know that love. They never got their chance. They never got to know that joy that I had for so much of my life.
If anyone reading this ever thinks that choosing to end it all is the answer, it’s not. What really happens is that the life landscape of every person who knows and loves you will just be filled with land mines that are buried too deep to be seen but break them apart every time one is triggered. The blow crushes you with pain all over again. You never really recover. The end isn’t the answer. Asking for help is. The pain just passes on to others, and they carry the ache of missing you for the rest of their lives.
Never choose that. Never send that shock of pain that will never stop wounding, and will never go away. All life’s troubles have answers, except this one. There will never be answers that can satisfy why you would choose to go. Please, never do that to anyone. Ask for help. If you have to carry on in the wake of this grief, know you aren’t alone. There is help for you too. Be well.
I’m trying really hard to take care of myself through creating time and space for opportunities to rest and be still. This is counterintuitive for me. I spend my days (and nights) caring for others and our home. I wanted to try to find a way to have an opportunity to just be and relax.
The idea I landed on was simple: take a 20 minute bath after Rob gets home. It didn’t have to start at the same time. With three kids, everything requires flexibility so that wasn’t important. The important thing was that it had to happen, and it had to be at least 20 minutes Monday through Friday that week. Here are my take aways and the things I learned:
1. I’m not used to slowing down. I set a timer to ensure I stayed in the whole 20 minutes. The first time I checked it to see how much time had passed it had only been 6 minutes. I checked because I was already feeling antsy from being still. I wouldn’t let myself check it again, but it was hard the first few days to not just rush out of the tub.
2. 20 minutes flies by when I’m making lunch, but when I’m trying to be still, it seemed like an eternity. Again, it felt weird to be alone and not doing something for that long.
3. No one died. I have an incredible husband who is an amazing dad. He took great care of our kids without me. I don’t have to be right there doing everything for everyone to be okay all the time. They were fine without me in the same room, and everyone survived and was happy to see me after my bath.
4. I really love the tub in our new house, and I really love bath bombs still. I honestly forgot I even had them, and I’ve hardly used our tub in the almost year that we’ve lived in our house.
As much as I had to fight down my impulse to get out sooner or to not feel bad about that 20 minutes, I’m glad I challenged myself to do this. It truly was a challenge for me. I’m sure there are people who get long hot baths anytime they want who will read this and think, “What’s the big deal?” This may seem like the norm for others, but doing something just for me is not my default.
Most of the time I have at least the tiniest twinge of guilt when I take time for myself. I’m learning from life and those dear to me that I have to. My friend Becca taught me that you can’t pour out of an empty vessel. You have to fill yourself up with good things you need to be able to pour out for others. I have to be full. I have to rest and refuel, and I can’t do that if I never slow down. I have to remember that I’m a person still, and having needs comes with that territory.
20 minutes a day may not seem like much, but it was so good. I can’t wait to do it again. So here’s the challenge, if you’re still with me:
Find something that requires you to be still and alone. Don’t do anything that requires any kind of effort- just be. Create the space to do that for 20 minutes a day for at least five days in a row and see what happens.
No one will die. All the wheels won’t fall off without you. You are a person who has the right to need things no matter what your days are filled with. Slow down. Be still. Breathe. Give yourself that gift. Give yourself some space. No shame. No guilt. Remember that you are worthy of good things, and rest is something you are called to.
I don’t know how many hours I have spent praying for my children. Those hours began long before they were born, and it is a mantle of prayer that will be one of my greatest joys all my days. I love my children, fiercely, with the deepest love. There isn’t a moment on any day that I will not choose to lay down my life for them. I love them, but in that I still have to remember that’s not my highest calling.
It’s hard to see isn’t it. It’s hard to see that we aren’t called to be mommas first. We aren’t called to be wives first. We are called first and foremost to be the daughters of God, and everything about how we love our families flows from that place. If we can see this, we will approach everything differently.
I am so guilty of taking my eyes off of this. I am so guilty of forgetting that I am chosen and loved so deeply that it is a joy to just sit with the Lord and read my Bible and pray. Being wife and momma are such huge, demanding callings, but God didn’t chiefly save me for them. He saved me for Himself that I might know and enjoy Him forever (mostly quoting John Piper here). Everything that comes in life after that moment of His choosing and my knowing God is affected by how I walk with Him.
There’s a reason for that. In the midst of ease or difficulty, I have to press into Him so that I may walk in the ministries He has given in me as someone who deeply loves the Lord the most. It is almost counterintuitive and definitely countercultural to live with your eyes fixed on Jesus and to remember to love Him most, but if we don’t we’ll lose who we are in Him and things will begin to win our affections more than Him.
I can say without a doubt the person that I was before the Lord was not patient enough for kids and all the crazy ups and downs of motherhood. Most often when I get impatient it’s because I’ve taken my eyes off of Him. When I stop looking at Him, I start being more like my flesh. He teaches me patience and every other fruit of the Spirit that sustains me and allows me to walk out these ministries with grace and a love like His. If I’m not looking to Him and clinging to Him with deepest affection, I will not do any of these things well. I will get frustrated and bogged down. I will feel defeated at times. He made me to know I need Him to do it His way, and the more I am satisfied in Him the more I experience joy in everything else.
Know that you are not just momma or wife. You are a daughter of a Father who loves and lifts you up. Know that you will be given many ministries and callings in your life, but none are more important than being near to the Lord that He might sustain and fill you. I do everything else better when I am pursuing the heart of God. I need Him in all things, at all times.
Today, celebrate the life God brought forth from you. Celebrate the ministry of motherhood. It is a beautiful day to remember what the Lord has done in making us mommas, but also never forget that you are still a daughter. Never forget who you are in Him is who you were always most meant to be.
I’ve heard it called a few things. Cycle breaking. Trailblazer. First generation student. Whatever you call it, if I was going to do it, I had to be first. I was watching the movie Hidden Figures, and there’s a scene where Mary Jackson, a black woman, petitions the court to attend classes at an all white school; at the judge’s bench she makes her case and says, “I have no choice but to be the first.” Her character is probably my favorite because of her moxie! That moment struck me because I realized that’s what was in me.
I was the first member of my family to want to go to college, and so I had to figure out what that was going to look like. There was no trail for me to follow. If I was going, I was going to have to find my own way. That included two jobs where I worked anywhere between 50-60 hours a week along with a full course load. If I was going to be first, that was going to be the cost. If you can understand the magnitude of that work load, you can see it was almost unbearable. It cost me, but I knew education was the key to everything I wanted.
If education wasn’t important, people wouldn’t have had to sit in at lunch counters or march for access to it. If education wasn’t important for success, it wouldn’t have been kept out of the hands of every minority in front of me who had to make their case in order to have the right to learn in ways that were really equal. There would have never been a Brown V. Topeka Board of Education. Remember that for all the people who say you can make it without education as you discount its importance. People bled and died so I could have access to the very thing that gives us all access to opportunities they dreamed of; remember them when you mock education.
If you’re going to be the first at something, know that not everyone will support it. There may be jealousy to contend with, or people may find ways to try to trip you up. Some people don’t want others to have what they don’t. Please don’t let that discourage you. Whatever that thing is for you, go for it knowing that no matter what you do, those same people were going to find something wrong with it. Don’t let them hinder what you know you were meant to do.
Now that I’ve been the first, those steps I took can empower others to know they can too. I hope it inspires my children to see me receive another round of degrees next weekend. I hope them seeing momma get hooded and handed a diploma is something they can look back on someday to know that whatever their thing is, it can be accomplished. The things that are most worth it have the highest cost.
Find the thing you want the most and pay the cost to open the doors you know you want to walk through, and do them with every bit of excellence in you. Be sure to prop those doors open for others on your way through. Be the first. Somebody has to be.