Friday, August 29, 2014

On Being a Working Mom

Confession (always a great way to begin): I haven't written since I became a mom. The days are long and the nights are short and my brain is foggy, so I haven't been able to pull it together enough to write. Incase you haven't seen her, God's given us the cutest, sweetest baby on the planet - I kid you not. But here I am… at the end of my maternity leave, needing some think space.

You see, the idea of going back to work has been exciting for me from weeks 8-13 of maternity leave. The first 8 weeks, I was hardly physically functional and had no desire to return to work, but these last 5 weeks, it's seemed more doable. I've seen a few friends brave the work world again and I've been anticipating that day for myself. Well this past week was week 14, my last week of leave and I now feel differently about going back to work.

I'm guessing this is normal, but to me it feels so unnatural to be leaving my kid with someone else. I didn't think I would have this problem because I'm not a "homebody" kind of a person. Not at all. I LOVE people, love being out of the house and I'm a big fan of contributing to society and the Kingdom of God. Big fan. Because of this, I thought I'd be excited to go back to my part time job that I really enjoy. But I have this sadness in my heart and a fear in my mind as I prepare to leave my girl next week.

It's not that her daddy and our amazing friend Julia aren't going to love her and care for her well. That's not it at all. I completely trust them and I know she'll have delightful days ahead, but I just have this gut wrenching feeling of "They won't love her in the ways I love her." And they won't. They will love her in their own ways and it will be just great for her… and for them. But as her primary care taker for the 14 weeks of her life, I feel like somehow I'm neglecting her and she's going to struggle when I'm gone. And it just feels wrong for her mama to walk away from her twice a week to go and work.

But I've also hit a wall and am beginning to dislike being in my own house (even though we get out pretty often). So I know it's time. I know the hours I spend away from sweet Holland will make me a better mama when I get home and I've had time to miss her. I know that having purpose in my job and making a difference in the world will make me feel more human and less crazy. And I know the time that my husband and our friend Julia spend with our girl will be awesome for them and for her. But this mama may cry on Monday morning when I walk out the door… and that's okay.

I think this is just the beginning of the motherhood tension of letting go but wanting to hang on at the same time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

In Oceans Deep

I wrote a few weeks ago about story - how our story matters and that I was committing to share more of my own story - to write, because that's how God uses us, when we are willing to share our lives. Well, that just got real… so real and the ocean is deep.

Three weeks ago I got a phone call that rocked my world and threw us into the deep place where we are now - where all we can see is waves. My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Literally the worst words… especially to her daughter who is 6 months pregnant with her first daughter. My heart is shattered. I wept. For five days - the day we found out, the entire travel day to get to Texas, the day we went to church and all of us prayed over her, the day we dropped her off to get on a plane to meet with the surgeon, the day of her surgery - all I did was cry. I wept for her, for my dad, for my grandma, for my brothers and sisters-in-law, for my nieces and nephews, for my husband, for myself, for my daughter. I wept for the dreams I have of my mom being at my daughter's wedding, for how this will wreck her body and make a very strong woman weak, for the dreams she has of years of being "YaYa" and loving her grandkids. When cancer is involved, the ocean gets deep and the waves quickly rise high around you.

We sat together as a family, waiting for the surgeon. Four and a half hours later, he came out to say that the tumor was self-contained and he was able to remove all traces of cancer. If you know anything about pancreatic cancer, you know this is not normal, not even close to normal. Sweet Jesus, we can see the lifeboat. It's coming. My mom has been given the gift of life - the chance to fight, many do not and we recognize how fortunate we are. We see the hand of God in so much of this story, but we still feel a bit like we're drowning.

This road is long - my mom had a major surgery where half of her stomach, two-thirds of her pancreas and her bile duct were removed. She was in the hospital for two weeks. Her recovery just from this surgery is no joke let alone the daunting road through chemo and radiation. When I think about the next 8 months of my mom's life, I weep. She knows she's not alone, but in the same breath, none of us can take this away from her or physically go through it for her. Just 3 weeks ago we were making plans for her to come the end of this month and help with our baby girl's room - and then plans two months later for her to come and stay for a bit when she's born. There's no one else I would rather have here when my daughter comes than my incredible mom. And now, we're deep in the waves not knowing much about two weeks from now, let alone two months from now. For now, she's home, she's recovering, she is handling this with so much grace and determination and she's loving being with family. But the journey is long.

There's a song called "Oceans" by Hillsong. This has been our anthem. My mom has been living in these truths for the last year as she's undergone numerous surgeries to prevent other types of cancer (ironically enough). I printed this and framed it for her - it's next to her bed. On the rough nights, the early mornings, during the times where sleep isn't coming, she can look at it and remember…

It's the wallpaper on my computer because I need the reminder multiple times a day that my faith will stand. God is for us, He is with us and this road is not being walked alone and everyday we choose to believe that He is Healer, He is Sustainer, He is Able, He is. And that He is all we need.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Write… because your story matters

Five Minute Friday

Since I was a little girl, I've had the "itch" - you know… where it feels like that's what comes natural to you, where you feel like your thoughts are best expressed. It used to be made up stories about the lives of fake characters who I probably wished were me - living a much cooler life than the already awesome life I lived at the time :) I remember literally writing books in notebooks, complete with magazine pictures of the characters so that everyone had a face, an identity, a story.

In high school it turned into essay writing and mandatory writing, but I still loved it. In college, it became my outlet. I journaled my way through really hard dating relationships and girly friendships, through figuring out who I was 8 hours from my family, through finding my wings and learning who I was supposed to become.

Shortly after college, I started a blog. It wasn't because I thought my story mattered at the time; in fact, I was convinced I didn't have much of a story. Funny how our young selves can't see truth sometimes. I blogged for me… because life was moving fast and I wanted to remember.

Now I am just learning, at 33, to blog because my story matters. I'm not very good at it yet, but in reading other people's blogs, I've learned that them sharing their story has done something for me. What I've been through, how I've learned things, how God has changed me - those things can do something for a reader or a friend. And so with boldness and a little bit of trepidation, I am entering a season where I am choosing to blog - life, marriage, missions, soon-to-be-motherhood, friendships, family and mess - because I know my story matters. Yours does to, so don't be afraid to write.

P.S. - this is a post from a gal who inspires me to write more with transparency - her story is changing me

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 Inventory

I started doing this post last year and resolved to make it an annual tradition. I think it's important (more for me than for you), but I do think it matters to recall, count blessings, take inventory and look forward. A few days late, but better late than never…

- joy: finding out WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!

- peace: knowing that during a really yucky season of crazy migraines and a bit of a health scare, God never, ever left us. He was our peace during a hard season with work and health. We weathered the storm knowing we were in good hands - with our doctors, our community and our God.

- grace: marriage is still the greatest picture of grace I've experienced. How and why he keeps loving and forgiving is beyond me. Grace upon grace upon grace.

- mercy: a new job that I said yes to this fall. So much mercy. The timing was perfect, the need for change was evident, the schedule is so fitting for having a baby on the way and I get to do what I'm passionate about - a combination of student ministry and missions - nothing better. Thankful for God's mercy in a job with Students International and all that this season of ministry will bring for our little family.

- discipline: this is kind of funny, but I actually think my best discipline was in the kitchen. :) I love to bake, but I don't love to cook and this year I've learned the discipline of cooking and the importance of providing nourishment for people I love. I'm hoping that 2014 makes this more of a joy and less of a discipline… wishful thinking.

- growth: holy leaps and bounds… leaving my job with IMPACT and the crazy process that involved for me - mentally, spiritually and physically challenged me and grew me. So much. I also saw HUGE amounts of growth in the college gals that I do life with. We learned to follow Jesus with more integrity, to become a family, to be real and genuine and to love each other unconditionally. It was phenomenal and I can't even deal with the fact that 1/2 of these gems will graduate in June. Can't talk about it. Tears.

also… this is what happened when we told the gals we were preggo :)

- answered prayer: our friends Chuck and Holly have been battling what was said to be terminal cancer in his body for the last year. We fervently prayed for them and for healing every single night. We got news right before Christmas that CHUCK IS CANCER FREE!!! This is such a sweet gift for them and their twin babies. We love it.

- friendship: I alluded to this in my last post, but good gracious, Jesus brought us friends this year -he literally just plopped this incredible group of friends into our lives and our town and we are so grateful. I needed a solid group of girlfriends so so badly and I sit here amazed at the answer to prayer in Cheryl, April, Nicole, Kristi and Blair to name a few. So thankful.

- beauty: I think that new life is such a beautiful thing. Because I'm pregnant, I may be appreciating it more these days, but we got 2 new nieces - Ellie and Liza and a new nephew - Jack this year. They are little miracles and such delightful tiny humans. Three of my closest friends had babies this year too and sweet Jesus that is beautiful. Bringing life into this world is beautiful.

- rest: rest for us this year came in the form of little getaways. We LOVE living on the central coast where it's easy to take mini-vacations and have a life time-out. A few of our favorites this year were Napa in January, Sonoma in February, Vegas in March, Palm Desert in May, Carpinteria in June, San Diego in July, Carmel in October, and Solvang in December. Just a few :) These much-needed breaks provided rest - for our bodies, our souls, our brains and our marriage. We are so grateful.

- perseverance: I saw more resolve in myself during the hard months of July and August than I've ever seen in my 33 years of life. All I will say is that it was hard, I wanted to quit, I wanted answers, I wanted to wake up and have it all be over with. God saw me through it. Life is so different now. So much redemption came from persevering through the suffering.

- pura vida (true, full life): I think Jarred and I find this most on mission. Whether local mission with Young Life, our church plant crew, the homeless shelter or overseas. This year for us, we found "pure vida" in our church community here - people knowing us well and loving us anyways. We also found it in our trips to Haiti and Costa Rica - beautiful pure life. We have much to learn.

- love: my sweet husband has gone above and beyond this year. From my health issues in August to getting pregnant in September, his job has not been easy for the last 5 months. This man is a rockstar. I can't tell you how many pesto chicken sandwiches he's delivered to the couch. I see Jesus in how he loves me unconditionally and without cost.

- the Gospel: our new "church" community has been the living, breathing gospel. The time we spend with them is real and honest and full of both grace and truth. These people have become our family here in town and we know that life with them around makes sense. God is present and revealing himself through this beautiful community.

2014 is about to bring SO much change - more than we could ever dream up. While we have NO idea what we're getting ourselves into with this little one, we have so much excitement and anticipation of how this year will go and are thankful for each day that this baby continues to grow healthy and strong. Bring it on… we expect great things.