The Rough Edges of Motherhood

23 Sep

“Mama! I hold you!”

My 2-year-old’s squirmy body collides into mine. He’s my wild child. Rough and tough. Abrasive at times. All mess and climbing and destruction and just 100% pure BOY. He sleeps with firetrucks, airplanes, and his toy rifle. He head butts me and I sigh deeply.

“MAMA! I hold YOU!”

I hold him, because I know that’s what he means, and his body goes limp for a moment. I breathe in his still baby-ish smelling head and remember just yesterday when he looked like his baby brother in the other room.

5 years now, I’ve been neck-deep in the muddy and heart-achingly beautiful reality of caring for these tiny people 24/7.

3 babies. 3 beings with individual likes and dislikes, passions and behaviors, bad days and good days.

My oldest just wants to be a grown up. She is so gorgeous and smart and independent and goofy and sarcastic. She knows the world is hers.

I remember being 5 and having the same feeling. The whole universe before me, ready to be explored. I felt the same thing at 18 and 24.

Now at 34 and a half, I am asking my Father to give me those eyes again. To see each day like a child, wonder and awe and joy, always an adventure.

This year has done it’s best to dampen my spirit and put our my light, but I won’t let it.

This matters.

I tell myself as I wipe another butt, another nose, another spill. As I talk, calmly, when I want to scream and walk away.

This matters.

You whisper in my heart as I lie awake again with my tiny baby, getting all his nutrients from my body to fuel his strong legs kicking, his huge, bright eyes smiling.

Giving, always giving, even when I want to be selfish.

This matters.

I know, as I teach my oldest to read and my middle to pour cereal and I take another deep breathe and ask Jesus to be so real to me because I just can’t do this without His strength, His patience, His wisdom.

I look in the mirror and for a moment those lies creep in and I feel old and stretched out and worn out and I wonder where my dreams have gone.

Where is the great big world I wanted to see, where are the books I have always wanted to write, trapped inside my tired mind, stuck until this all gets easier?

Reality check: it’s not going to get easier. It will always be hard, in a million different way, changing with growth spurts and hormones and emotions to navigate, as the darkness in life becomes more real and tries to press in on their tiny hearts.

There will always be moments where I am stuck in the tension of protecting them and preparing them, where I want them to step out on their own, but stay in my arms just a little while longer.

Motherhood will always have rough edges that cause boo-boos, those real scrapes and bruises and the emotional ones.

There will always be moments of pain and guilt, when it’s so difficult to swallow my pride and lay my life down and mother and teach.

But hard is good. It makes us better.

This matters.

And I have the mind of Christ.

This sleep-deprived, mom-brain doesn’t render me incapable.

I can homeschool my daughter.

I can deal with my toddler’s BIG emotions.

I can hold my precious baby a little bit longer.

And can write my heart out.

I can follow my dreams, because you see, when I really peel back the layers and work my way around those rougher edges of daily sacrifice and chaos,

These beautiful, brilliant, messy human beings, are my dream.

They are my greatest creation,

My favorite story,

My best adventure,

My most important job,

My most kingdom-changing ministry.

This matters.

So I cuddle and discipline and teach and cry and laugh and try my best to be present, for these days I get to be with them are a fleeting gift.

And those rough edges sharpen and refine me like hell, making me closer to who I was always meant to be than anything else.

And it’s never gonna be picture-perfect or easy, but it’s always going to be worth it.

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The Slow and Speedy Birth of Raylan Emerson

5 Aug

It’s been over two months since my third child came into this world. I’ve been wanting to write about his journey here, but it feels exhausting to even stop and think about it. Maybe because I am afraid I won’t have any of the right words, and I will just write in a clinical, fact-only way that I despise. I will try my best to capture it. Keep reading if you are interested.

There is no better way to remember how little control you have then to have children.

From the moment of conception, from seeing those 2 lines on the pregnancy test, you are thrown onto a chaotic ride that just doesn’t stop. Often there is vomit too.

The funny thing about babies is that as small as they are, they are very much their own beings. You get to carry another within you. A vessel, a “mother” ship. Hate it or love it or both, it is a crazy thing.

Starting at about 36 weeks, I thought I was going into labor. I had intense contractions, that got longer and stronger, only to fizzle out. Prodromal labor is exhausting, physically, but more mentally. It’s like knowing you are about to meet the love of your life and they keep standing you up!

Towards the end, I listened to this podcast my dear midwife, Kelsi sent me. The woman speaking talked about how physically your brain is mush, especially towards the end of your pregnancy. She said instead of being annoyed or ashamed or always condemning yourself, (guilty) embrace it. While you can’t remember what you did 5 minutes ago or the name of your favorite movie, your body is preparing you for something that goes way beyond intellect or black-and-white thinking.

Birth is other-worldly, and we lose part of that when we treat it clinically and make it all about the numbers and the dates and everything lining up just right.

We play into fear and wonder why the pain is too much.

Even as I am writing this, the cynical side of me is rolling her eyes, “Come on! Get over yourself. Everything isn’t magical, some things just SUCK. It is painful. It is hard. It’s part of our lot in life as women who chose to birth children.”

But is it? Or have we just been conditioned to think so? Have we been conditioned to approach the most intimate, earth-shattering, spiritual moment in a way that is clinical and fear-driven?

I decided to have this baby at home. I felt comfortable with it, I trusted my midwife, husband and (most of the time) myself. I knew from the two previous births I could do a natural birth. I knew since I had a 12 hour labor with my daughter and a 6 hour one with my son, this one could be pretty quick. (HA! I had NO idea!) This baby was the wild card. I didn’t know the gender and had no idea when he/she would come.

For about a month, I thought I was in labor almost every day. It was hard to plan anything. It was hard not to get my hopes up, then be disappointed. It was hard to ignore the contractions and carry on with every day life, but I knew I needed to to stay sane.

My due date came and went. Both my other kids were born at exactly 39 weeks. This one was taking their time. I learned once again to stop and breathe and be ok with the unknown. (Lesson of my life right there!)

My birthday came and went. On top of everything, our hot water heater broke and leaked all over the downstairs (my birthing area) we had already decided to move and got permission from our landlords to break our lease early. So we would start moving on June 1st… this was the end of May.

Finally, at 41 weeks, I saw some REAL signs of labor in the toilet. I cried with joy as I text my husband who was at work. Contractions sped up that day and got really intense that night. Then, as always, I went to bed exhausted and they stopped.

Then that morning at about 4 am, I woke up with more contractions. It was May 29th and I was technically 1 week and 1 day “over due.” I told Jean-Thomas today could be the day, but maybe not. By now he had heard that dozens of times, but he decided to take the day off just in case.

I was having contractions pretty consistantley, but I wanted some alone time so I told Jean-Thomas he should take the kids to the YMCA. They left after breakfast and I did some cleaning and some sitting and lots of eating.

It got more intense. Kelsi text me to check in. I told her I was ok for now. My friends Danielle and Kyrstan text me saying if I needed to kids to come over, they could come get them. I said maybe later.

Then everything sped up. I thought about texting Jean-Thomas to come home from the Y, but they hadn’t been gone that long. I think I was still in denial. Just then he text me and told me Wyatt had wet himself and he didn’t have a change of clothes so they were coming home. I told him that was probably a good thing.

I got hit by a wave that made me moan outloud. I realized then this was for real. I text Kelsi who said she was on her way. I text my friends back to see if they could get Wyatt.

Jean-Thomas got home at about noon with the kids and some lunch. I ate quickly and headed downstairs. I could barely walk down the stairs at that point but I managed to get down and onto the birthing ball my friend had lent me. I could only think about getting on my knees and leaning into the birthing ball to rock. That was the position I stayed in, almost trance-like, just rocking through the pain.

Jean-Thomas started blowing up the birthing tub and filling it, I just wanted to get in the water so bad, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t need it. Kelsi arrived at about 12:30 with another midwife, Mary. Kyrstan arrived to pick Wyatt up. We had decided ahead of time my 5-year-old Aurelia would be there for birth. She was a great helper, telling me gently to breathe and offering me sips of water.

I stayed on my ball, rocking, and realized that the sounds coming out of my mouth were changing. Everyone was still trying to fill the tub.

“I don’t think I need the tub…. I need to push!”

I can’t quite recall what I said after that, but I know I cried out to Jesus and asked for His strength. Kelsi had me move my leg positions a bit, and after a few pushes, my baby came out into the world.

I grabbed him and checked and realized he was a boy.

“I knew it! Hi, Raylan!” I managed to say.

He came fast and furious after only about an hour of active labor, but he had weeks of practice beforehand.

He was perfect and I felt strangely calm, at peace, and even strong.

I am so happy we chose to have a homebirth. If we hadn’t, he probably would have been born in a car!

I am so happy I approached this birth assuming the best and really had a beautiful experience.

Raylan Emerson Louvier

Born May 29th, 2019 at 1:20 pm.

9lbs 3oz

19.75 inches long

13.25 inch head

14 inch chest

The Wisdom of Old

23 Jul

A sound mind is what You give

Yet the sounds in my head are anything but kind

Making me spin and jump miles and days ahead

Right past moments of joy that would leave me breathless

It I remembered to breathe in the first place

And I know this must not be what

You had in mind

Creating us creatures of complex thought

With the ability to love and destroy in a nanosecond

Knowing so many moments and days

We would pick destruction

We would choose to follow knowledge that leads nowhere

The world at our fingertips with self-made misery oozing out from each unique print

Synapses firing panic and worry

While You place them, forming constellations

Telling stories through our broken neurons

Every atom aching to get back to peace it was created for

Be still

You don’t need to know if knowing means more suffering

(Yet the wisdom of old won’t)

It will lead you to fields of green, growing yellow flowers that wait on the wind to be moved

As will I

Shut it down

You don’t need to eat from that tree

You just need to sit still and Be

Making God Laugh

28 May

It’s 3 am and I am 41 weeks pregnant. That’s 2 weeks longer than my first 2 kids, and those 2 weeks have felt like eternity. I’ve been having steady contractions off and on since 36 weeks which makes it seem like over a month of labor.

In that month we found a new place to live. It came as a gift after a lot of ups and downs, wondering, stressing and praying about leases and landlords, location, timing, and finances.

God brought it all together, and as always in this adventure we live, it is happening fast. Fast enough where now I am giving myself and this baby a deadline, where I am pondering furniture and boxes and exactly where I am gonna give birth. Because I decided on a homebirth, and now I am switching homes. So much for “nesting.”

I had a momentary freak-out yesterday and my dear husband gave me a foot rub, told me to breathe and reminded me that my ancestors gave birth in covered wagons and next to battlefields. And I carry their DNA, their strength.

Then I thought of one of the most famous birth stories as I ate leftover chicken pot pie in the quiet of 3 am. I thought of Mary and how she must have been having contractions, longer and stronger and closer together and how Joseph must have felt so frustrated he couldn’t find a bed for his very pregnant wife. How they had been entrusted with this crazy precious gift and they probably thought they might have to birth him in the street.

I wonder if Mary stressed as another painful contraction rolled through her body, if she wondered if maybe she had screwed up, or what the heck God was doing, after all, this was horrible timing having to make this journey so far from home.

I often think of the quote I first heard in the beautiful movie “Bella” (which ironically revolves around pregnancy and choosing life) the quote originally by Woody Allen:

“You wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

There is no better way to remember how little control you have then to have children. From the moment of conception, from seeing those 2 lines on the pregnancy test, you are thrown onto a chaotic ride that just doesn’t stop. And often there is vomit, too.

But birth is other-worldly. And we lose part of the wonder when we over-analyze and over-medicate and make it all about the numbers and the dates and everything lining up just right. We play into fear and wonder why the stress is too much.

Maybe it would be better just to let go of imaginary deadlines, stop trying to plan and control and just be grateful we get to partake in this incredible miracle.

Because we talk about “God’s timing” only because our limited minds are currently trapped inside of timelines. Yet our spirits are not, and neither our babies preparing to come earthside.

I know “this too shall pass” and right now there are so many lessons to be had in the waiting.

In the (once again) trusting last minute everything will fall into place.

In the embracing of the unknown because really, this is all just a great adventure.

I see it now: that moment when heaven and earth align and my body releases this brand new soul I’ve been carrying all these long months.

I smile, as tears of joy come, and then laughter from pure relief.

God laughs with me.

Girl, Quit Washing Your Face

9 Apr

When I was a teen and in my early 20’s, I struggled a lot with acne break-outs. I felt ugly and embarrassed. I’d cover up with make-up, but those pesky pimples would always poke through. I tried different products: chemical ones I had to order specially in the mail, natural ones that smelled like hippies and half a paycheck. Some things would clear my face up for a bit, but eventually I’d break-out again.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I stopped washing my face completely. Maybe I just got lazy or gave up, but also I remembered something grandma had told me years ago: the only thing you need for your face is a washcloth and some warm water.

So I tried it. I used coconut oil sparingly just to remove stubborn make-up. And I haven’t had a breakout since. Maybe one or two triggered by hormones or stress pimples, but they always go away quickly.

Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes you don’t need to follow the latest trend, spend money on the newest product, or join the latest MLM.

Sometimes you just need to go back to the basics.

Do less, not more.

When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I wanted badly to “be a good Christian.” I struggled with consistancy, with returning to those bad habits and sins that kept me feeling ugly.

I went through humanity’s tired cycle: mess up, cover it up, eventually repent, try to do better, succeed for a little bit, then mess up again.

I looked in the mirror and the only thing I saw was my flaws. The answer, of course, was always to do more.

I just need to read my bible more, or even better, the newest christian best-seller that unlocks the secrets of the bible!

I need to pray longer.

I need to cut things out of my life that were junk for my soul.

I need to sacrifice, to serve God in “fulltime minstry,” go into all the world, be a martyr, give up everything in order to be a “world-changer.”

Shape up.

Clear up.

Fix yourself, because Jesus died for you.

Because that’s what Christianity is about…..right?

The hustle of “working out your faith.”

The radical idea that because we have been given everything, we now need to do everything.

Join the club, pay the membership fee, and then make sure you sell the product to others because it will change their lives too!

Work your way up to the gold level, get the rewards you deserve, if not here on earth, than surely in heaven.

In the midst of the hustle, we don’t realize we are ruining friendships by always being ready to sell.

We are so busy striving and pushing (all in the name of bettering ourselves and others) we don’t realize we are still staring in the mirror.

We trade real, raw relationships for a marketing opportunity.

We trade the power of the gospel for a self-help book.

We trade Jesus for a nice, man-made idea:

That we can be better if we just DO more.

Not realizing that is in fact the complete contradiction of amazing grace.

My grandma lived for nearly a century. Her skin was beautiful. At the time I thought her advice was silly and old-fashioned. Only water?! How will that clear my skin? Besides, what would people think? Won’t I be all greasy? Won’t that be gross?

It can’t be that simple, right?

You know when Jesus said “My yoke is easy, my burden is light” he was serious.

He knew it applied to people like me: a tired mom living in a weird culture where everyone glorifies the busy, the hustle, the striving for perfection.

(Or maybe it’s always been that way?)

Now, I am not saying that we should all give up on our dreams, our children, and our faith and just sit in bed binging on Netflix.

What I am saying, the older I get the more I realize that less is more.

Sometimes we need to stop striving and just be.

Sometimes sitting in the stillness is the most “productive” thing we could do.

Maybe we need to just rest and let what Jesus did for us be enough.

Maybe we need to get away from the mirror and look up.

Maybe we need to quit looking at opportunities to better ourselves and just look at Jesus.

Let Him wash us in the water of the word.

Let Him bring the right people into our lives.

Let Him bring us TRUE success.

Let His bread and wine be our sustenance.

Let Him finish the work He started in us.

He’s already made us clean.

He’s already made us enough.

Now we get to rest in it.

Frozen Ground

22 Mar

Why do we toil so hard to till frozen ground instead of just waiting for the sun?

Is this just the lot of all men? To work until their hands bleed and their minds melt of boredom?

To paddle against a tide and go nowhere?

Where are the explorers and inventors, the revolutionaries pushing boundaries of innovation and creativity?

Let them take their rightful place in the sun, pushing aside the corrupt politicians and peddlers of empty dreams.

Give them a voice. The future of humanity rests in them.

Winter Steals My Songs Away

7 Mar

I broke down the other night while rocking Wyatt and singing to him before bed. It’s a song I’ve sang a million times over the last decade or so, in different countries and different seasons of life.

Maybe I don’t have the strength

Maybe I don’t have the faith

You brought me here in 40 years

When I know this trip should take a week

I barely make it past the first line. I struggle a word at a time as Wyatt tries to stick his fingers up my nose. My usually crazy busy almost-2-year-old has wanted to cuddle all day. He puked all over me earlier. My 29-week belly feels tight and cramp-y. I am emotional. I am just exhausted.

I’ve shed my tears and shed my blood

I’ve been held ransomed by the flood
The winter steals my songs away

In all of this I come undone

It’s hardly March and this year feels endless. Snowstorms, sickness, more snowstorms, broken cars, more sickness. Worry and stress. More snow. Endless piles and heaps. Anxiety about driving on the roads, raising wild children, adding a 3rd kid to our family, my mom having heart surgery, what the future will bring.

Stop.

Breathe.

Whisper.

When you walk through the water I will be with you.

When you pass through the rivers these waves they will not overtake you

When you walk on the fire those flames they will not touch you.

You’re mine.

Slowly, my voice stops cracking and gains some strength.

I sing until I can count my blessing again.

I sing until I can feel it.

I sing until I can believe it.

All the tiny miracles throughout my day….

Everytime I put groceries in the fridge or lay down in a warm bed. Every bill that gets paid. A friend that calls or texts because they really care.

My boy, laying is head on my chest.

My girl, making us toast by herself.

My other baby, moving healthily inside of me.

My dog, laying her chin gently on my growing belly, all knowing.

My husband, always passionate and giving everything he has.

Immeasurable blessings I lose track of and forget to see in the middle of the chaos.

Motherhood is full of moments too raw to capture. I reach the end of myself more times daily than I can count.

I kiss Wyatt’s toddler forehead and think for the millionth time in the past 5 years,

“This is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.”

Don’t ever let me forget, it is also the most important thing.

Facing boring and bad days bravely, even when they seem to pile up endlessly like mountains of snow.

Knowing I can walk through it with Your strength. My legs and my heart get stronger. I can squint and see the beauty of the sunlight glinting off the icicles.

The hope for joy in the midst of cracker crumbs and screaming fits and throw-up and all the mess of motherhood.

The warmth and peace available to me when I just let go of control and breathe in the Love I have found.

You are mine,

You are mine.

(Enter the Worship Circle- Mine)

Dumbing It Up

26 Feb

I don’t know much
But I am sure
In my tired bones
You are the good
in everything

And maybe I can be
Ignorant
and ill-informed
and non-educated
and slow

But the place of Assurance
doesn’t reside in my brain

and intellect
won’t save me from myself

Maybe we’re all
choking on so much knowledge
drowning in information

But this is air:

I believe I am Loved
and that’s enough

Let Hope Be Born

9 Feb

This place is too evil

or so they say

Don’t bring a child into this world

They will only suffer

Society will crumble

The earth will decay

Your grandchildren will watch it burn

(If they are even born)

It’s selfish to raise children

In the midst of the apocalypse

Or so they say

Better not add to the overpopulation

Better not risk a bad seed

A bad apple

Another ignorant human

Better not risk disease

Pain

Disappointment

Better to avoid life all together

………….Or

You could wake up

To a new day

Grow beauty in your womb

Let her come out bloody and screaming

Speak life until your lips hurt

Walk justly

Seek mercy

Fight for love

Choose to hear the Redemption Song

In the middle of the caucophonos war

Tell them

NO!

What’s selfish is to give up

When all the potential for change and restoration

Lies in a brand new human

Emerging from the womb

Let hope be born

Raise your children to be brave

To love unconditionally

To see beyond the veil

To lift the curtain

Live beyond the shriveling systems

Raise your children

To see the good in everything

To stand up to the bullies

To plant flowers

Speak poetry

Love life

To not be afraid to travel the dying world

To know what they think

And who they are

Raise your babies to make the world better

Whisper

Even through the darkest, most hopeless nights….

“You are the light

You are the future

You are the very breath of God.”

Viral Jesus

12 Oct

If Jesus came in the flesh today, thousands would stand in line in hopes of getting tickets to his sold-out stadium event. Waiting in the cold, shivering from the chill and the anticipation, hoping to get a glimpse of this high profile celebrity.

After watching his Facebook Live video that went viral of him healing that famous billionaire with the rare disease no one can pronounce. 3 billion views. Is that even possible? He practically broke the internet. It’s a good thing there were motivated Christians to come beside him and help him continue to market himself. They gave him a brand, put him on a world tour that sold out in less than 12 minutes. The elite got their VIP meet-in-greet of course. And a few lucky ordinary people who shared his post
and tagged their friends.

Now the city is abuzz with this new sensation. Traffic surrounding the venue is at a stand-still. Protesters with angry signs shout behind barricades.

“Of course there are protestors,” those that are close to him whisper, “persecution is inevitable when he is making this BIG of an impact.”

The president would show up to shake his hand. Mark Zuckerburg would be there to put aside his different beliefs and vow to help him continue to use his platform for good. So much GOOD.


In a seedy 24 hr diner, on the other side of the railroad tracks…

A trucker walks in, dirty and exhausted from all the miles, needing a shower and some coffee badly. A stranger sees him immediately and buys him a cup. They chat about his work, but get to the deep stuff fast. The stranger sees things in that trucker he never saw before. All the hope and potential of a newborn. The tough, weathered trucker finds tears falling into his coffee mug as something in him releases.

A woman walks in. Or is it a man? She’s spent the night on the corner, trying to make a few hundred dollars. She avoids eye contact with the stranger. Something about him unsettles her, makes her feel shame. He doesn’t let her ignore him. He buys her some waffles and hot cocoa. They talk for hours and she finds herself pouring out her life story. The abuse. The rejection. The stranger nods.

“It’s not your fault. You don’t have to live like this.”

The conversation continues into the early morning and the woman knows her life will never be the same.

As the media broadcasts the life-changing event just up the road, few realize that maybe we have the wrong man.

coffee

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