The View Around Here

This gallery contains 21 photos.

So, with each pregnancy I’ve debated maternity photos and newborn photos, and with each pregnancy I’ve ended up making the same decision: skip the maternity photos and don’t skip the newborn photos. So far, I haven’t been disappointed with my decision. Note … Continue reading

A Lake is not a Leak.

This is a little embarrassing.

While was chatting with the midwife at my appointment today, David brought up my “leak.”

“Lake.” she corrected.

Oh. Lake? To be fair, with her lovely French accent, it kind of sounds like the same word.

Now I understand why all my Google research was so very unsuccessful. A placental leak is not a thing. I’m not entirely stupid. I kind of wondered if I had misheard when Google kept asking me if I meant placental lake.

I David was able to ask some more questions and our Midwife was very helpful. From what I’ve read, placental lakes, while abnormal, aren’t actually connected with any pregnancy complications and it usually isn’t even mentioned unless there are several of them. Assuming I didn’t misunderstand everything, I only have one tiny one.  She went on to explain that an OB might not even send me for the second ultrasound, but that Midwives have to be a bit more careful. My upcoming ultrasound is just to rule out any other deviations from “normal” as a precaution. Basically, the impression that I now get is that its primary purpose is to cover my Midwives’ you-know-whats.

Oh. Ok.

Even though I feel a little silly for completely misunderstanding a word…and for telling people that I have something that doesn’t even exist, I also feel really grateful.

If I’m completely honest, I have spent a lot more time concerned this pregnancy than I did in my pregnancy with Eliana. I think it’s something about looking at my sweet baby and knowing that there’s another sweet baby growing inside of me. Somehow, it’s not as abstract as it was the first time. I so desperately want to meet her. I so desperately want to get to know her, to have her personality revealed to me day by day, to watch her play with her older sister.  These last few weeks have had me leaning so heavily on Jesus. Asking him to remind me that he is the one who loves and cares for my sweet children perfectly. He is the one to whom they belong. He is the one writing the story of their lives.

I am only their mother.

I love them. So intensely, so deeply, but they don’t really belong to me. They belong to Jesus. I mentioned in my first post about this that it seemed like a great opportunity for Jesus to tend the garden of peace in my heart, and my friends, he has been so faithful.  Each one of you who took a moment to pray, each of you who took an extra moment to let me know that you were praying, thank you for helping him.

I was hesitant to write the first post back in April because I thought maybe everything will be just fine and then this will just be silly. But remember how I talked about thinking and no more lies before? I don’t want to pretend that I don’t worry about things that are silly. Because I do. I don’t want to only write stories that are finished and have good endings and resolution. Because a lot of times, there’s at least one story in my life that doesn’t. But Jesus meets me there. He meets you there. In the worry or the anger or the suffering, in the unfinished stories and the ones that end sad. He stands there with us.  I don’t know what new information, if any, we’ll learn at our ultrasound in two weeks, but I am also not living in fear of it.  The Lord is still teaching me to trust, in his goodness, his wisdom, and his faithfulness. Not that things will always be good, but that He. will. always. be. good. 

I still treasure your prayers as the Lord teaches me to trust him with my life, my plans, and my family.

Mom Things: Reflections on Life with a Toddler.

Things that have happened today:
“Don’t eat food out of the garbage can!”

Followed by a quick look into the garbage can to see what she might be eating. The good news is I was greeted by David’s leftover cereal, which was piled on top of a clean paper plate, so…

 

While trying to make a packing list for our upcoming vacation, one little hand on my knee, one clutching a book. The question “Do you want to read some books?” was immediately followed by a vigorous head nod and beeline to the bedroom.

 

I heard a loud crash during “nap time” and found this in her room. Apparently we weren’t tired today.

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That’s all for now. Another stack of books is accumulating next to me on the couch.

Bittersweet

For the first time in almost 15 months, I went all day without nursing.

I think Eliana’s just about done with it. And while it’s nice to have a small break, since Little Sis is due exactly 4 months from today (WHAT?!?!), I can’t help but feel a little bit sad.

I mean, I knew this was coming. It’s fairly common for babies to quit nursing when their mommas get pregnant, and she’s just been less and less interested the more interested she becomes in the world around her. But this has been a journey. Despite a bit of a rough start, things were fairly smooth after the first couple of weeks. I quickly became one of those mommas who loves nursing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Eliana’s newborn days lately. I remember crying a lot that first week or two.  I was an overwhelmed, fearful, overjoyed new momma. That crazy cocktail of new momma hormones definitely had something to do with it, but I’m also an emotional person by nature (duh) and I was convinced my two week old was just growing up too fast. 

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And the Lord saw that momma.

And he spoke to her, maybe in a way he’s never spoken to her before. Because the change, my friends, seemed instant. The way that peace washed up over her heart and her life and still washes up over her every. single. day? He didn’t scold her for her fear. He didn’t chastise her.

He invited her.

He invited her to make the choice between a life with grasping hands and squinted eyes– always straining to see the future instead of looking at what’s right in front of her, always snatching at moments as they pass instead of feeling the way they gently move through her hands the way sand does– and a life with open eyes and open hands, ready to be filled and emptied, filled and emptied.

He invited her to be filled and emptied. Over and over again.

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Willingly.

But  how can she be sure that once she’s emptied, she’ll ever be filled again? How can the fullness be enjoyed if it’s only meant to be given away?

Is this not the beauty of the Gospel, sweet friends?

“It’s what God had been doing from the beginning, of course.  Taking the nothing and making it everything. Taking the emptiness and filling it up. Taking the darkness and making it light.”

When he met that momma that day, there on that brown couch while she held her newborn baby with tears running down her face, he gave her a gift. A gift of trust. Trust that grasping and squinting don’t make things slow down or become more memorable. Trust that this abundant life is in the seasons, the time coming and going. That “hurry up and get here” doesn’t make for an abundant life, but neither does “wait, wait slow down.” She didn’t want to be one of those mommas always lamenting that her first baby was growing up too fast. Because she isn’t. She’s enjoying and living each day that the Lord graciously gives her, and shouldn’t her sweet momma do the same?

To this momma who had been told the lie that she would have to be perpetually sad that her children were growing and growing and growing, Jesus spoke the truth that growing and growing and growing is a gift to be cherished by giving and giving and giving.

Maybe to you it seems like I’ve overspiritualized something that’s just a part of everyday life, but I think my point is that everyday life is deeply spiritual, if we pay attention.  And I think that this is why I don’t have to be depressed about my sweet baby not nursing anymore.  That even as I lose a part of our relationship, I can celebrate. Because she’s growing and growing and growing.

And I get to find new ways to give and give and give.

New ways to trust.

That empty hands will be filled again.

That abundant life doesn’t mean clenching up, it means opening up.

That I can say “yes” to all that Jesus has for me without squinting first to try and figure out what it is.

That He is good.

And then, last fall, I found myself saying “YES! YES!” as I read a post by Ann Voskamp who says it so beautifully:

You can have it all” — isn’t the whole truth.

No matter where you are— it’s never all easyA crop is made by all the seasons and the only way to have it all — is not at the same time… but letting one season bring its yield into the next.

This is how to have no fear —

each season makes a full year

The only way to have it all…  is to have Jesus – and like Him — to give it all away. 

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Belly.

I thought it would be really adorable to start explaining to Eliana that her baby sister lives in my belly right now. She kind of gets it.

Meaning that every time I sit down to nurse her, she grabs my stomach and kisses it while squealing, “BABY!” Followed by either a wave to her sister or a tummy drum solo. On my tummy.

The other day, I walked in while David was giving Ellie her bedtime bath to see her pointing at her belly button and bending over to try and kiss her own tummy, “BABY!”

Oops. My kid is all kinds of confused.

My plan was to have an adorable picture of Ellie kissing my belly right here.

This is what I ended up with:

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Real life, people.

Leak.

“Everything looks good except one little thing.”

Not exactly the words I was hoping to hear from my midwife at my follow up appointment. She went on to explain that our sweet baby is growing right on track, has a strong heartbeat and looks wonderful. My placenta, on the other hand, has a leak.

I’m not really sure what this means, but she suggests that it’s common for it to resolve on its own and is usually not a cause for concern. She doesn’t seem worried about it at all. They’re referring me to a specialist so that they can look more closely at the placenta, but that won’t be for a few weeks. My attempts at questions are met with reassurance that nothing is wrong, and there’s nothing I can do in the meantime.

My favorite! I love it when there’s nothing I can do, when things are out of my control, when I don’t understand. When all I can do is pray for my placenta.

I get that this is prime weather for the Lord to continue to tend the peace he’s growing in my heart, but I don’t really like it. I am struck by the idea that maybe this new information shouldn’t really change anything. My hope can’t be founded on bringing a healthy baby home from the hospital. My peace can’t come from the evidence that my body has sustained a healthy pregnancy in the past. I can’t even find solace in the fact that “at least I have one sweet baby.” Because none of that is guaranteed. None of it is stable. All of it shudders under the weight of the assurance that I need.

The things I have to trust and lean on are these: that the Lord is faithful to act according to his will and for his glory, that he loves and cares for my children much better than I ever will, and that his eyes see and his hands reach places that mine cannot. So, by grace, I choose to hope and to trust in him. I choose the garden of peace rather than the brush pile of worry.

But I’m still asking you to pray for my placenta.

Birthday Things

It was my birthday on Saturday.

I LOVE my birthday.

I always have. This year’s birthday was especially wonderful. Friday has been David’s day off for a while, so we made a two-day celebration out of it, and it. was. perfect.

David and I have been learning a little more about the 5 Love Languages.  I have suspected for a while that Gifts was a pretty strong one for me, and I was right.  I love giving gifts just about as much as I love receiving gifts.  So I decided that this birthday would include some gift giving on my part. I suspected that it might just increase my love for my birthday even more, and I was right again.

My first gift was to spend some birthday money I received on a zoo membership for our family. I know Ellie probably won’t have any memories of time spent there, but I’m looking forward to spending time there with her (and David) this summer, before Little Sis gets here.  We went for the first time on Friday, and Eliana loved looking at the animals, waving to everyone, practicing her walking, and playing with some of the exhibits.

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We spent the evening together relaxing, but woke up in the middle of the night to sweet Ellie’s first fever. It was so sad to see her feeling unwell, but I can’t lie. I love baby cuddles, and Ellie just hasn’t been as into them now that she knows how to walk.

We spent my birthday with some dear friends from college, eating delicious food, talking, and spending time together. It was a blessing to me to celebrate with them, not only my birthday, but also the new journeys the Lord is taking each of us on. It was a privilege for me to give small gifts that celebrate these exciting new places the Lord is leading them.   I think I hesitated to claim Gifts as a Love Language because it felt selfish to me, but I’m realizing that the joy is just as full in the giving as in the receiving. I felt new freedom to take a lot of joy in getting thoughtful gifts from so many considerate people, and it was an added joy to be able to give a few small gifts, also.

The day wrapped up with birthday dinner with family and a whole night of taking care of a poor sick baby.  I thank the Lord for the grace to see even this challenge of parenting as a gift.  I was tempted to feel self-pity that my daughter would have her first fever on my birthday. But I was gently reminded of what a privilege it is to care for and cherish this special life, and felt called to recognize the opportunity to give her the gift of my time, my patience, and my love while she felt sick.  It seems strange to write, but I really loved spending the last hours of my birthday evening holding my sleeping babe, not dwelling on how many or few hours of sleep I might get that night, but just thanking the Lord for all the fullness of the gift of being this sweet girl’s momma–all the hugs, drooly kisses, and smiles; and all the tantrums, huge messes, and late nights/early mornings of care taking.

Photo on 2014-04-26 at 20.13 #3

Letters to Ellie: SIX.

Dear Ellie Jo,

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This morning, before the sun came up, before my alarm clock went off, before I heard birds chirping, we woke up. I heard you in your room and I went to get you. I brought you back to my room and fed and snuggled you. I watched the clock change from 6:16 to 6:17, and just like that you turned six months old.

It didn’t really happen that quickly, of course. It happened slow. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, since the day you were born that time has been going away. I know where it went. But it’s gone just the same. It went to innumerable couch cuddles and late mornings in bed. It went to mini-road trips to visit your grandparents, to doctor’s appointments, to nap-filled days, to your first time at church, to long work days. It went to feedings and diapers and baths.  I look back on the last six months, Ellie, and my time it is full of you. It is full of learning and growing–not just for you but for me.  You are the baby who made me a momma, and we’ve spent the last six months figuring out what that means.

Six months ago, when we met you, I was struck by your beauty. I remember in those early days wanting to comment on something other than your looks, but I didn’t know you yet. What an incredible feeling it is–to love someone so much even though you know them so little.  Every day as you grow, I learn about you. One of my favorite things to do now is to compliment your other qualities.

Eliana Joanne, you are smart, perseverant, persistent, thoughtful, and joyful.  You love fiercely already.  You like to figure things out, you love to smile, and you are stubborn. How I pray the Lord gives us gentle hands to help shape that part of you without breaking it.

IMG_3854Sweet baby girl, I pray for you, that your tiny heart will know the love of the father real and strong and soon, that your heart will be tender towards that love and towards his people, and that the Lord might bless you with the gift of motherhood one day.  And if he does, sweet girl, prepare yourself. Because being a momma has already been the most spiritually formative thing I have ever experienced.  I didn’t know what it was to trust until the Lord began teaching me to trust him with you.  And I pray for us, Ellie, that trusting in Jesus will be the hallmark of our home. Because even after I spend 3 hours looking for a safe car seat for you, I remember that Jesus is the only one who can really guarantee your safety. And I remember that your safety might not look like I want it to. And I remember that being a clench-fisted momma won’t teach you to have faith. That white-knuckled fear doesn’t teach you how to trust.  And I sigh a little bit and I pray, Ellie Jo, while you’re there on the floor, trying to figure out how to crawl. That you will keep on growing and I will keep on trusting.

Love,

Momma

FYI (if you’re the Hall boys’ mom)

Dear Kim,

I have some information that might interest you.  Your post (FYI: If You’re a Teenage Girl) broke my heart. Because I can’t help but imagine the way that the shaming words you wrote pierced the hearts of the girls you wrote them to.  And I know how they felt because I felt that, too. I grew up in a church that used shame to get girls to dress, act, and think the way that girls are supposed to. And so, I feel like I have to tell you something that I wish as a woman you already knew: Shame doesn’t make women whole.

I also feel like I have to let you know that I think I agree with you on a lot of things: I don’t want my daughter posting pictures like that of herself on social media one day.  I think it’s wonderful that you encourage an open dialogue with your sons about their use of social media and that you encourage them to be wise.

I just think your post could have been so much better.  I think that instead of shaming these women (because if you’re going to call your boys men, let’s call these girls women) in hopes of changing their behavior, you could have talked to them about their value.  Instead of warning them that they won’t be “good enough” for your sons,  you could have helped them think about the kind of women they want to be.  Instead of threatening to block them from being your son’s friends, you could ask them to coffee.  And instead of writing your post with an air of condescension, you could have been careful to ensure that you communicated love and concern.

I love that you asked questions, but your post doesn’t offer these women a safe place to answer them, all it offers is shame. Shame that they posted the pictures, shame that your whole family saw them, shame that you have decided they are no longer worthy to be your children’s friends. If you want to block them from your sons’ social media, that’s definitely your prerogative as a parent (and possibly wisdom), but it’s not the reason that what they’re doing is not what’s best for them.

And I guess that’s what I wanted to say to you the most.  The primary offense here is not against you. Or your sons. Or your family social media surfing time. It’s against God and against his image in another person.  Your words are so clouded by your offense that they don’t offer much healing, even though it seems like you honestly meant them to at the end of your post.

Kim, I don’t mean to attack you– I just see this as evidence of a bigger problem in the Church. We want immediate results and we want good behavior, so we do whatever we can to get those things as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, we all suffer because we are more concerned with good behavior than what a person believes.  Let’s be mothers that raise children who think carefully, honestly, and biblically about what they do and say and who see and value the image of God in themselves and other people.