A Mother’s Prayer

A Mother’s Prayer

Lord, I ask for you now for strength

To be the mom they really need

I ask you to guide and light my way

And for courage to go through the day

 

Please help me, Lord, to raise my kids

KIDS, TELL ME WHO JUST DID THIS!!

Sorry, Lord, now I’m back

The children started an attack

 

Give me patience, make me kind

Remember to give extra smiles

DON’T POKE YOUR SISTER, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?

Lord, I need more strength today

 

NOT THE KITCHEN; COME BACK IN HERE

Lord, I need to feel you near. 

I want to be filled with grace

DON’T THROW FLIP FLOPS AT HIS FACE

 

Lord, you know just what I need

to become the mom I need to be

Direct me according to your will

WHAT IN THE WORLD DID YOU JUST SPILL?

 

I’m not perfect, but I try

To be the mom they need to thrive

I want to be a godly mother

But she won’t stop smacking her brother

 

So excuse me, God, for just one sec

To separate these adorable wrecks

I’ll catch up with you tonight

Maybe they’ll be too tired to fight

 

Amen. 

 

 

 

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The Best Policy

The Best Policy

As I have mentioned probably 470328320 times, I am on Facebook a lot. A. Lot. I love Facebook. I sing love songs to it and whisper sweet nothings in its ear.

No, no, the last two aren’t true.

When you get down to it, Facebook is basically a way to announce to the world what you want them to know about you in that moment. It might be what you’re doing for the weekend, what your kids are crying about, or, inexplicably, pictures of your dinner. It allows you to post your thoughts and opinions on literally everything. That can get tedious but I think we can all agree that it is an effective form of communication, if not always the most personal.

Of course, this also means that you are going to see posts that you disagree with. Sometimes just a little, sometimes vehemently. That’s right. I said vehemently. And when that happens, you have two choices: make a comment or move on.

A few years ago, if I saw something I didn’t like. I always commented. Always. I have been told that I can be a little too quick to react without thinking to a lot of situations, (hard to believe, right?? RIGHT????) so my comments were not always the most polite. I would get involved in debates that lasted all day, sometimes not even totally sure why I was debating but confident in my right-ness about the situation. Is “right-ness” a word? Spell-check didn’t flag it. But it also didn’t flag “spell-check.” Hmm. Is my spell-check even on? What is it doing, watching TV? Get it together, spell-check.

So what was I saying? Oh, right – the right-ness. I would get angry and I would argue and argue until Daniel either took away my computer or one of my fingers went numb. Darn carpal tunnel. It wasn’t pretty.

After a while, I realized that I probably wasn’t helping anyone by shouting my thoughts as loud as I could. I certainly wasn’t showing people the love of Christ. So I decided to stop getting involved with arguments and debates on Facebook. It just wasn’t worth it.

And at first, that went really well. It was freeing to just scroll past controversial posts without feeling like I had to say something. I didn’t need to yell at people or tell them why they were wrong. I could just let them be.

But it didn’t take long for that to feel wrong, too. Not because I missed the angry debates or wanted to stir the pot, but because it seemed like the coward’s way out. I had gone from sharing everything to sharing nothing. No opinions, no disagreements, no nothin’. I was able to be everyone’s friend because no one knew what I really thought. It seemed like a wonderful idea, but it just didn’t feel right.

See, I got it wrong both times. I didn’t need to get angry and shout. I didn’t need to pretend like I had no opinions. I just needed to be honest.

We live in a time where people are afraid to be honest, I think. I know I am. I put too much stock in what others think of me. I care too much if my friends agree with the choices I make. It’s not something I recommend but I also think every person in the world experiences that in some form or fashion. The need to be accepted is deeply ingrained in each of us. And in order to gain and then keep that acceptance, we change ourselves. We see something we know is wrong and we keep scrolling. We see a friend hurting and we don’t reach out. We see a post that we know is harmless but we decide to lash out at the person anyway. All in the name of not rocking the boat or showing others how knowledgeable we are.

But – pardon the language, Mom – that’s crap. It is. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what my friends think of me. I don’t serve my friends. I don’t serve Facebook. I serve my Heavenly Father and no one else. That’s it.

God does not call us to be liked. He does not call us to be popular. He does not call us to have 3279 Facebook friends. He calls us to follow Him in everything that we do. And if we agree to do that, we also understand that there will be days where our opinion is unpopular. But whether God’s Word is popular has never been the reason to share it. We share it because it is God’s Word.

So I have decided that honesty is the best policy. I don’t need to shout. I don’t need to hide. I don’t have to be profound or funny or likable. I just need to tell the truth, God’s truth.

I’m not saying to get involved in every post you see on Facebook. I’m not saying to stop voicing your opinions. I just want us to think about why we are giving our opinions. Is it because you want to tell the truth, or because you want to win? Are you ignoring an issue because you know that your opinion is well-known, or because you don’t want to upset anyone? Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying, and I think you’ll have a clear answer on what to do next.

Honesty can extend to our real lives, too. I know, I know; I am speaking of life outside of Facebook. Tell your friends. But being honest is important in all situations. There are some gray areas – for instance, you probably don’t need to tell your friend that her new hair cut is so bad you want to watch a Britney Spears music video just to get the image of her new bangs out of your head. But if your friend has broccoli in her teeth before church, help a sister out. And ask why she has broccoli for breakfast because that’s a little unusual.

More importantly, if a friend comes to you for counsel, be a friend. Be honest with them. Show them love and understanding, but above all, tell them the truth. Don’t do them the disservice of skirting around your opinions or berating them for their choices. If someone asks you what you think about an issue, tell them. You don’t have to put them down or be afraid to voice your thoughts. Just be honest. Just tell the truth. And if someone is honest with you, do them the courtesy of not taking it out on them. Know that your friends and family love you, and that sometimes telling you the truth is the best thing they have ever done for you, and the hardest thing they have ever done for you. Be honest with yourself when you are struggling over the next step to take. Be honest with yourself when you know that what you are doing isn’t right, and be honest with yourself when you have to make a hard choice that makes you unpopular.

I am a Christian. I know some people don’t like Christians. I know some people do. It doesn’t matter. It’s just the truth. I believe what the Bible says. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that God is holy and that His Word is holy. And I know that we live in confusing times where we wrestle with ourselves over what to think about so many things. We know what God says, but we worry about what our friends think, what our family thinks. But we don’t need to. We don’t need to have an internal battle with ourselves. We don’t need to yell. We don’t need to be silent. We just need to tell the truth.

Be kind to one another. Show compassion for your fellow man. And remember that honesty is still the best policy. It can be hard and it can be lonely. But we can rest in the promise of God’s truth and know that in a world where everything is constantly changing, God’s truth never does.

I’m So Pretty

I’m So Pretty

I recently got some new make up, courtesy of an Ulta gift card and a mom who loves to help me spend my Ulta gift cards. If you’re not familiar with Ulta, it’s a beauty/make up store that has a ton of different brands of make up, shampoo, hair accessories – basically it’s a one-stop-shop for all your beauty needs. I love it there. And, no, this post is not paid for by Ulta (but if anyone from Ulta is reading this, you’re welcome and also I need some free eyeshadow).

Last night, I was getting ready in the bathroom while Daniel played with the kids. I began to put my make up on, and, like always, I began criticizing the way I looked. At first I kept it to myself, just noticing my dry skin, my round face, the way my nose looked. I eventually became so frustrated that I said out loud, “I cannot beLIEVE how ugly I am right now. I hate how awful I look.” Daniel, who is a saint, told me that I was wrong and that I looked lovely. Read more

On Your First Birthday

On Your First Birthday

Joshua, today is your first birthday. How is that possible? It seems like there is no way a year could have passed since I first laid eyes on you, but I have checked and rechecked and re-rechecked the calendar and apparently it’s true. I still have trouble believing it but I guess the calendar wouldn’t lie… it is from Chick-Fil-A, after all.

As this day has been approaching, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to you. I thought of telling you the story of everything that happened, but you already know it – you lived it. I thought about imparting some deep wisdom to you, telling you the secrets of life that would help you as you grow. But it turns out I don’t know that many life secrets and some things you just have to find out for yourself. So I thought for a while longer and decided I would tell you some things that I learned over this year, things that only you could have taught me. 
See, I am not what you call a “researcher” or a “planner” or “someone who is ever ready for anything more than five minutes ahead of time.” I leave that to the more sophisticated people around me (who are constantly texting me to ask if I am running late yet again). And I wasn’t worried about being prepared for parenthood. I might be a last-minute person but I do good work in that last minute and I knew everything would work out fine if I stuck to my tried-and-true method. 
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the last minute to plan had arrived much faster than I expected. I think that was the hardest part of finding out you would be early – I was just starting to wrap my mind around the fact that I would be a parent. It still seemed surreal. And then suddenly I was going to be a parent in a matter of hours. I remember from the moment the doctor told me you would be born it was as if I was watching my life unfold on a giant screen, like I was aware of what was happening but so sure it couldn’t be real. I even told your dad that, moments before you were born – “Maybe this is just a dream,” I said. He assured me it wasn’t and offered to pinch me to prove it but I declined. Don’t let him pinch you, either. 
And then you were there. Less than two hours had passed since we had found out how sick you were and how much you were struggling, and there you were. You didn’t cry, because your little lungs didn’t work very well yet. The doctors had told me not to expect you to cry because of how early you were but that was the only thing I knew about babies – they cried when they were born. I was sure you would cry. I kept asking your dad why you weren’t, and finally concluded that the doctors had done something to prevent you from crying so you wouldn’t be upset. What can I say; I was on a lotttt of drugs, man. But I remember every moment after that with vivid detail. Dad got permission to snap a picture of you and show it to me. He watched them work on you and Dr. Manar took a minute to explain what was happening, and then he came over to explain it to me. I heard the words but they still didn’t seem real. Dr. Manar brought you to me and said I could give you a kiss. I did, right on your little nose. And then they took you to the 2nd floor, where we would spend the majority of the next four months. 
So my plan not to plan didn’t exactly work out, but, really, no amount of planning could have prepared me for this. And I think that is the biggest thing I have learned through this last year: Plans fall apart. Nothing is perfect. God’s plan is different from my plan and His plan is the one you want, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. For all of my lack of preparation, I still like to be in control. I like to know what’s going to happen and what my role will be. When you arrived, I didn’t have any training. I never took a class. I didn’t know how often to change your diaper. I had to learn on the job. But even if you had been born two weeks late, that would have still been true (although the diapers might have been easier to use – yours were reaaaaally small). That’s what parenting is: swearing your kid will never watch television and then five years down the road having the Disney Channel schedule memorized and sighing in relief when it’s time for Mickey Mouse. 
I discovered that no matter how hectic things got, I could handle it. Some days were a lot harder and some days were pretty easy. But for you I could do anything. I could learn medical terms and ask questions even when I was afraid and accept help from people that I had never met before. You were a pretty solid motivation for putting my own doubts aside and working hard for you, to make sure you had everything. 
I learned just because something isn’t the best, that doesn’t make it the worst, either. There is a whole world of in-between where things can just be okay. I tend to work in areas of black or white, never grey, but you showed me that when it comes to parenting, especially parenting a NICU kid, grey is pretty much your life. 
You taught me that it’s okay to question God. That it doesn’t make me less of a Christian, mother, or person. That God not only understands our pain but feels it right along with us. There were days when I opened my mouth to pray and nothing would come out. I was too mad, sad, plaid, whatever, to form any words. And I wondered if that meant I wasn’t as much of a Christian as I thought it was. But that’s not how it works. God knows my fears and doubts before I do and asking Him questions is okay. 
I found out that there really is a silver lining to every bad situation. You made for a pretty spectacular silver lining. I could (and still can) sit and just watch you for hours, silently cheering every time you moved your little hand or peered up at me with one eye. It was those moments, the tiniest victories, that filled my heart with joy and love for you. You helped me make friends with other parents who had kids just like you, kids who struggled and lived in a world of doctors and specialists and medicine, kids who I now get to see grow and play and who I am so excited for when they accomplish something. The parents became a part of our family as we grew together and rooted for each others’ children, taking genuine delight in every good update. These are the people who are in the “club,” who know the frustration and anxiety of being a NICU parent. 
You showed me that a total stranger can show the biggest kindness. You helped me see that I was surrounded by friends and family who love me and would do anything to help. You revealed the amazing skills of the NICU nurses, whose kindness and patience with both of us made all the difference in the world to me. I learned that no matter how bad things got, I was never alone. Someone was always praying for you, even someone who had never met you and never will. It is the people who prayed on your behalf, who dropped off gift cards and hugs, who sat in the waiting room for hours and hours – these are the ones who I will never forget, because they made it possible for me to find the strength to continue even when things seemed too tough. When I think of how your grandparents drove overnight in a storm to see you, how your other grandparents stopped by nearly every day to check on you, how your aunts stayed up late to talk to me all night and how your uncles volunteered to help us move and prepare for you to come home, I know without a doubt that our little family is loved so, so much. 
Joshua, you made me a mother. You changed me from someone who thought she understood what unconditional love meant to someone who knows exactly what it is. You have filled the last year with love and laughter and joy and smiles. Yes, there were sad moments, but I wouldn’t trade a single one of them. You have taught me so much in only a year and I hope that I can teach you something during your lifetime to repay the favor. Daddy and I love you so much and we are so grateful to know you. Here’s to the next year of life lessons from our favorite micro-preemie.