Five Minute Friday: Seasons

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I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday. Write for five minutes, no edits, and see what comes out. It’s harder than it sounds. Today’s prompt was seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Oh how true that is.  The Christmas season is one for love and for celebration, but today’s prompt has me thinking about the seasons of my life.  Each one has its challenges and blessings. Each one is an opportunity for growth and experience. With each season I surprise myself at how much more I have to learn.

In this season of life I am a mother to a young child, a wife that struggles to get it right, a daughter that is only now beginning to truly see through my own mother’s eyes, so many things.  This is a season of struggle, of constant juggling, of shortcomings and not enough to go around.  But it is also a season of understanding, of setting limits, and learning to say no.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

This season can be a difficult one, but I know all too well how quickly they change. Before I can blink she will be grown and I will have moved into a new season of life, a slower one with a little more silence and a little more solitude. Because as quickly as the seasons come, they go again and the world keeps turning. There will be a time when my husband and I can have a whole conversation, an uninterrupted hug, and a lazy morning in bed. Those days will come, but in this season we will embrace the chaos and the fast pace and learn all that we can before the seasons change again.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

I have two children. My beautiful little girl that is so full of life and excitement, and the baby I never got to meet.  Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I struggled all day with the decision to post something. We lost our baby in 2011. Many people that know me now, and many that read this blog, have no idea that we ever suffered such a loss. I documented that journey in another blog and when I started this one I wanted it to have a different tone. Besides, isn’t it counterproductive to open old wounds? But the thing is, the wounds are never really healed. And the fact that it’s still something that no one wants to talk about, is exactly why I felt I had to.

Losing a child is unbearable, no matter how old it was or how it happened. No one should feel that pain alone. Yet so many women do. As many as 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost, but somehow women still feel like they need to hide. There’s a sense of shame and failure in miscarriage. And there’s this ridiculous thought that because you never got to hold the baby that it shouldn’t really matter, but it does. The baby matters. The pain matters.

When I got pregnant the second time, I hesitated to tell anyone. I didn’t even want to know myself. Then I remembered the strength I received from all the people that prayed for us when we lost the first one, and I knew that I needed that to get me through. My pregnancy with Reagan was an anxious one. I never truly settled until I held her in my arms. And if I’m truly honest, it is a very big reason why I don’t think I want to have another child. I’m not sure I could survive another loss. I’m just being real here.

When I lost “the bean” I was very open about it. I was humbled and in awe of the people that reached out to me to share their stories; the friends that contacted me because someone they love had a miscarriage and they didn’t know what to say, the other mothers that had been quietly suffering alone, the fathers that wanted people to know they felt the pain too. There’s something really magical about people bonding together. When we build each other up, we really can survive anything.

In the book Heaven is Real the little boy that has supposedly been to Heaven tells his mother about the sister he met there. His parents had never told him they had lost a child before he was born. When she asked what her name was the boy replied that she didn’t have one because she was waiting on their mother to get to Heaven and give her one. I hold that image in my heart when the sadness creeps back in- as it sometimes does. It creeps in on long car rides and rainy days, when I see someone’s ultrasound or hear a newborn cry, every July when the would-be due date rolls around. I imagine that twenty years from now I will still feel it. I also imagine that one day, many years from now, when I get to Heaven my little one will be waiting there for me, with open arms ready to whisper “Mama” in my ear.

If someone you know is struggling with the pain of miscarriage, reach out to them. If you are struggling yourself please visit Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. A wonderful site where you can share your story and connect to a community of women that draw strength from one another.

Doubts in the Dark

I’m going to be real honest with you. Sometimes I’m not so sure I’m doing this mothering thing right. There are times when her little face looks up to mine and she smiles and says the wittiest thing that has ever come out of a three year old mouth and I am in awe by what I have made. But there are other times, when it all seems so much harder. When the darkness is around us and she’s been struck by whatever bug is circulating  and neither one of us can sleep from the coughing and the wheezing, I have my doubts. Why would the Lord trust me with His amazing creation? What if I don’t deserve it? What if I fail? Her soft skin burns and her teeth chatter and I lay beside her helplessly holding her and wishing I had some kind of magic to take it all away.  I think of everything I know to do. I turn to Google in the middle of the night. I pray.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear.  I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:14)

Tears creep down my face because helpless is not a feeling that comes easily to me.  I feel a little hand reach out in the darkness and find my hair. She twirls her little fingers around the dark ribbons and looks up at me with sleepy eyes, “I love you, Mommy. I’m better now.” And she snuggles in close and fades away to sleep. Of course, she’s still sick, a miracle did not strike down from the sky. But I realized right then that I have everything she needs, even when I have nothing at all. A mother’s job is a hard one, and often we underestimate ourselves. When I step back and see myself through those little eyes I know exactly how she feels. I was a child once and in the darkness of the night, when I was sick or scared, there was only one thing that I truly needed, my mother. And I wonder now if she doubted herself too while I snuggled in close and trusted in her as Reagan now trusts in me.

Doing Important Things

I’ve always been a bit of a dabbler. Sort of a “jack of all trades and master of none” if you will.  I have a hard time saying no. I don’t want to miss out on anything. This has always been a great way to live. It has led me down so many paths to a million amazing adventures. 


It also makes me very tired. It causes me to spread myself too thin. It makes me wonder if the fact that I do too many things is why I don’t do anything exceptionally well. I often wonder what would happen if I just focused myself on one endeavor. That will never happen.


Since the start of the new year I have recommitted myself to my fitness goals. I plan to reach new weights at the gym. I fully intend to run a half marathon in under two hours. I have charged into 2014 with a fresh outlook and energy. It has all gone really well, until today. 


Today’s rainy morning turned into a beautiful afternoon. I planned to hit the gym, but when I saw the sun shining I changed my mind. I figured I’d go for a run instead. By the time I got home, I’d lost that motivation too. You see, when I asked myself what was the most important thing I needed to get done today, the answer didn’t involve any of the things I’d planned. What I needed to do today, was be a mom.


Of all the things I dabble in, of all the things I like to do, there is nothing compared to being a mom. So today I decided to see the world through my daughter’s eyes when it was time to decide what important things needed to be done.

There were masterpieces that needed to be created.

And long journeys to take across the yard, trying to reach that ever- elusive moon in the sky.

I thought at the end of the day I would feel guilty about missing my workout- not following my plan. Do I? Nope. Not one bit. You see, I don’t stand a chance at being an expert on anything. I won’t hold a world fitness title. I won’t write a bestseller. I won’t win “teacher of the year”. I won’t win a Grammy. But to one person in this world, I am already everything I need to be. I am enough. I am Mommy.

Monday…

 

Best laid plans…I should be at the gym right now. I have a Monday morning date with myself every week. A 6am sweat session, the only one that I am guaranteed each week. The rest get filled in when spots open, but that 6am Monday slot has become sacred. A quiet drive through the dark streets of my city, a challenge to my body before the battle of the workweek begins. It has become the one thing that makes Monday bearable.  

How can life possibly weigh me down when I start my week reminding myself of my strength? That I have the power to just lift myself back up?

But 5:15 came too early today. When 2am brought a toddler that wanted juice, and to play, and to wrap her fingers in Mama’s hair, 5:15 came way too early. 

Some days are like this. I’m learning that the best laid plans do often fail. Sometimes I need a reminder that I am not in control.  My strength is given to me by a God that knows my heart so well. He knows what I need, right when I need it. He gives me the strength I need when life becomes heavy. He carries me.

So this week, when I feel like I have already let myself down, I will call on Him. When my attitude slips, and my weakness shines through. When I’m trying to squeeze it all in and still make time for myself, and my husband, and for tiny fingers and toes that dig in the dark to find Mama, I will call on Him, for He knows my need.

Currently, my need is coffee….and a shower…and to get to work. Happy Monday, everyone. 

 

It Was a Good Friday

The last time I disappeared from the blog, it was because I was pregnant and I wasn’t ready to share it with the world.  Guess what? Not pregnant, just busy. Busy raising a child, teaching the children, you know your typical “woman running the world” stuff.  I just haven’t had the energy to write, and to be honest I haven’t had much to share. There’s been a lot of adjusting, learning, and kind of just surviving over the last year. But Reagan is getting ready to turn one and I feel like I’ve settled into a groove and it might be time to start writing again. Besides, it’s spring in Southern Virginia and that means there is much fun to be had!


Today is Good Friday. I’ve been baking. I felt like I needed an Easter tradition that I could share with my little girl.  I decided that Hot Cross Buns could be something we could do together every year on Good Friday so that we could enjoy them Easter weekend.  When I am in need of a fantastic dish that doesn’t skimp on delicious (or on fat) I always turn to Pioneer Woman- Ree Drummond.  Here’s the link to her Hot Cross Buns recipe that I used today.

It’s a bit of a process, but it isn’t hard. The only problem I had was getting the rolls to rise. We live in an insanely drafty house. It’s an old farmhouse with several additions and depending on what room you are in, you may need a Snuggie or full-blown snowsuit. So where to find a warm place for the rolls to rise?



A wise resourceful woman steals her daughter’s space heater and hides the rolls in the guest bathroom.



Now I’m just waiting for the rolls to bake and cool so that I can make the pretty little icing crosses on them. And that is where my mind is lingering, on the thought of the cross and just what that means. 


For me Easter has always been the unofficial start of spring. It’s a time of new birth and new beginning. Even more so last year when my baby girl was born the day after Easter. It’s a time for eggs and pretty dresses and chocolate peanut butter eggs. In my head and in my heart I felt the true meaning of Easter for a long time, but it wasn’t until I became a parent that I felt it deep inside of me. What it truly means, Easter.  


I rock my daughter in the quiet of her room. I kiss her little toes. I listen to her giggle and call “Mama” in the dark. And I think about the cost, the sacrifice that God made for me- and for her. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16


I think about Jesus as a child. He once had squishy cheeks and baby giggles. He was not only the savior of our world, he was some one’s son. Someone rocked him and listened to him breathe in the dark night. Someone watched him grow into a man, and someone watched him die.


And as my rolls are cooking and I am preparing to celebrate the rebirth of that savior, I hang my head with humble thanks because I know in the depths of my soul what a sacrifice like that really meant. I feel it in my aching heart. And in that I know how much He loves me.



Life Lessons with Mom

What kind of daughter would I be if I didn’t blog about my mother today? In case you live in a cave, it’s Mother’s Day. Here’s the thing, she’s a pretty private person so I don’t think she would want me to tell you a lot about her.  So instead I’ll tell you about a few things I learned from her.

When I was a teenager, I used to think it was awful when I was on the bench at a basketball game and I would look across the court to see my mother sitting exactly the same way as me. We would cross our legs and rest our chin on our hands.  Now I know that any type of grace or poise I may possess came directly from her. 

A while back, Jon washed his brand new iPhone in his pants pocket. He came to me pretty embarrassed about it, knowing I would be mad. I laughed a little and then researched how to dry out an iPhone. (You can’t, by the way, I had to buy a new one.) My mom taught me that possessions are just things that can be replaced, but relationships can’t always be mended when you break them. You can’t take your words or actions back. You can always buy a new phone.

When my nephews were little, my mother took them to the beach. I won’t dive into the whole story, but they got stranded and had to walk several miles back to the house. There they were on the side of the road, carrying their little sea shell buckets with cars whizzing by. My mom didn’t whine or fuss or panic. She told them they were “having an adventure” and she meant it. When Jon and I found ourselves on a catamaran in Jamaica during the biggest thunderstorm I had ever seen, he was plotting our escape route while I was thanking God for the adventure.

When I lost my baby last January, I struggled for a few days and then got busy living again. I’ve never questioned or wallowed in self pity. I made a choice to be strong and not let the sadness swallow me. I didn’t question why because my mother told me that sometimes there really is no reason. I never felt sorry for crying, because my mom said sometimes it’s ok to just be sad. Mom’s really do know best, you know. Her life has had many trials, but they don’t define her. This will not define me.

Once we got lost on or way from Florida to Georgia. We knew we were lost because we saw a sign that announced we were entering Central Time Zone.  It took hours to get back on track. My mom just laughed and laughed. She said, “Well, we made a memory.” I’ve heard that line more times than I can count and have said it more than I’m willing to admit. Everything you do with the ones you love will be remembered. You decide whether they remember it with laughter or tears.

I could go on about the things my mom has taught me, but the best lessons (how to treat people, how to survive a difficult time, how to show someone you love them, how to be strong, how to dedicate yourself to something, how to be honest even when it’s hard, how to see the positive, how to trust in God) she taught me when she didn’t realize I was looking. Thanks Mom.

**Just a side note: If you have someone in your life that has lost a baby or is having trouble conceiving, someone who wants to be a mom but it just hasn’t worked out yet, give them an extra hug today.  We would never want to take anything away from the mothers of the world, but this day can be pretty hard for us. I picked a fight over a mango with my husband today, just to have a valid reason to be mad. (He was awesome enough to realize what was at the root of it, and let me cry until I felt better. Then he laughed at me and called me a Looneybirdicus Americanus. Yep, he did.)  Happy Mother’s Day.

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Baby Shower

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am blessed with some pretty amazing friends. Now I don’t like to brag (who am I kidding?) but they may have recently thrown themselves over the perfect 10 line when it comes to measuring awesomeness. A few weeks ago, two of my friends threw me a baby shower that I never could have imagined. I had friends and family travel from different states and hours away just to be there to celebrate my little one. I tell you, I have never felt so loved!

 Weeks before the shower they sent out invitations in the shape of library check out cards, and on the invitation they asked that guests bring their favorite children’s book in lieu of a card to build Reagan’s library. Each invitation held a book plate that read “This book was given to Reagan Olivia with love from ________” 

The theme was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle is one of my favorite children’s authors.  If you’re not familiar with the book, the caterpillar eats different foods on each day and on Saturday he eats a whole bunch of things until the little guy doesn’t feel very well. The illustrations are so beautiful!

 Would you believe they followed the book pretty closely with the food and took all the guests on a week long trip around the table? How stinking cute is that?? On Monday we ate apples with caramel sauce.

On Tuesday we ate nuts, and Wednesday was chicken salad. (Not exactly the book, but so much better!)

Get a load of the caterpillar cake! They were vanilla and strawberry flavored.  I was eating cupcakes for a week after the shower. I am not complaining.

We had chocolate-covered strawberries, oranges, homemade cherry pies, veggies, pickles, cheese, you name it. It was so delicious.

There was even this yummy green punch in the prettiest punch bowl. I felt just a little bit fancy.

Here I am stuffing my face. The present table was overflowing. You may notice the giant basket of candy at my feet. That was not all for me….although a lot of it found its way into my kitchen drawer. Shhhhh.

The girls had an adorable game set up, complete with door prizes. Everyone really got into the competition. 

Then there were the presents…. There is something about a little baby girl that makes it almost impossible to pass up frilly little dresses. I am not a frilly person by any means, but I simply can not resist the ruffles.