Always There

When I found out I was pregnant again, I was ecstatic.  Well, actually, I didn’t believe it at first.  I used one of those pregnancy tests with the two lines, and drove around the corner to the  Rite-Aid to purchase on with words, just to be sure.  It came up with the exact same result, so then I got uber-excited!  We’re having a baby!!!

My excitement lasted for quite a while, but there were moments when it turned into something else:  a combination of nervousness, doubt and worry.  When it was time for our ultrascreen, I was nervous for the results.  After all, it was 5 years ago, during that test, that we found out we were at high risk for Trisomy 13 or 18.  It wasn’t lost on me that this baby was due the day after Caleb’s due date, so I was going through everything at the same time I went through it with Caleb.  Great (not really).

When we got the results back that everything looked great, I was relieved.  And I really enjoyed my pregnancy, for about 2 more months.  As I approached the 20 week appointment, I began to get nervous again.  It wasn’t your normal “butterflies in your stomach” nervousness.  It was more of a nervous fear, a what if, gut-wrenching nervousness where all I could say was, “Lord, please don’t let this have the same outcome as the last time.”  After all, it was at the 20 week appointment that we learned our baby boy had passed.  I knew I couldn’t handle it again.

Then, out of the blue, I got a text message from a friend from my church.  She was just encouraging me and praying for me, and she had no idea the turmoil I was enduring from my inner monologue.  Her text was right on time, reminding me that God is in control, always looking out for His children.  In that moment of reading that text, I felt a tremendous peace come over me, and I was no longer worried about the appointment (which turned out to be fantastic, and we learned we were having a baby girl).

Here’s what I know:  I know that I serve a loving, living God, who looks out for His children.  I know that He cares for the things that concern us, even when it feels like we are alone, He is always there.  And I know that He ordained this baby girl for such a time as this.  Sometimes it feels like we are on our own, and we wonder where God is in the midst of our pain and struggles.  The reality is that God is always there, and has the most awesome ways of reminding you of that.  For me, it was that text message.  For you, it could be a phone call, an email, an unexpected visitor.  Whatever it is, remember that God is always speaking, you just have to be open to hearing.

I Opened My Eyes and Saw You

I have many titles/roles in my life:  wife, sister, daughter, friend, “boss,” employee, etc. etc.  One of the most rewarding roles and titles I have is that of simply “Mommy.”  There are so many things rolled into that.  You are parent, disciplinarian, confidant, friend, protector and so many more things to your children.  My role is particularly special, because I am really 2nd Mommy.  My girls I love as my own, though I did not birth them and do not see them every single day. But every summer, I get to spend extra time with them, and that is very special to me.

For the past two weeks, our youngest, Miss Lady, has been with us.  It’s been hectic:  balancing camp drop off and pick up schedules with work and after-work responsibilities; ensuring dinner was ready at a decent hour and creating some semblance of a schedule so things weren’t chaotic in the mornings.  Whew, I’m exhausted thinking about it.  Even so, this summer was probably one of my favorites with Miss Lady.

About a month or so ago, I started a new bedtime routine with Miss Lady.  I would say her prayers with her (well, listen while she said her prayers), tuck her in, and then she and I would just talk for about 10-15 minutes.  Nothing major, I always ask the same questions:  “What was your favorite part of today?  What was your least favorite part of the day? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”  At first, she would answer the questions then I would kiss her goodnight and that would be that.  It was a nice way to wind down the day and she would go right off to sleep.  It set the stage for a restful night’s sleep.  Then, over the past two weeks, something cool happened.

Our bedtime routine evolved from being questions I asked to her asking me bunches of questions and just being a conversation between mother and daughter.  Miss Lady started asking about my day, and some of my life experiences.  And I began to see the world through her eyes.  She wonders what college will be like, and will she be ready for college.  She is curious what our house is like when she isn’t there, what kinds of things Daddy and I do when she isn’t there, and is it boring or fun?  She cares deeply about family, and whether people are happy or sad, tired or work too hard.  She reminds me of me, because when I am working late, she always says “Don’t work too hard, Mommy.”  Those are words I’ve spoken many times to both my mom and dad, and I know that they are genuine and heartfelt.

When it was time for Miss Lady to go back to her mom and stepdad, I was a little sad. And on Sunday, when I was leaving for church, I felt like something was missing.  I didn’t have to fight to wake her up and get her going, or make sure she’d put on lotion and lip gloss (she is a very girly little girl).  And while those things can be draining to any parent, I missed them.  I miss that little voice in the house, her huge smile and giant hugs; the joy and laughter that she brings into our home and family.

Parenting is both enjoyable and draining.  But there are few things more rewarding than being a parent.  I’m thankful for my girls, and for the opportunity to spend some time with my baby girl the past couple of weeks.  She turns 8 tomorrow, and it’s a little bittersweet.  No more car seat (under VA laws), which means she’s really a big girl now.  But she’ll always be my baby girl, and I’ll always be her Mommy.  And I am grateful for those special moments we share, when everything slows down, and it’s just the two of us, talking and learning.  It is in those moments that I see Miss Lady and the young lady she is growing into, and I am grateful and proud that God blessed me with the privilege of knowing and raising her.

A Change is Gonna Come

About a year and a half ago, I bought some wall decals for my youngest daughter’s room (Miss Lady).  She was five at the time, and very into the Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell.  So one day, while strolling through Target, I saw both Fairy wall decals and Princess wall decals on sale, and picked them up.  The next time she came over for her weekend with us, I showed her the decals and she selected the fairies to put on the wall.

You have to understand, Miss Lady is a girl’s girl.  She loves pink, princesses, dresses and dolls.  Her room is “Bunny Nose Pink” (gotta love those fancy paint color names), and, while she has it setup with all her toys and photos, it was missing that special touch that told us all it was her room.  Clearly the pink wasn’t enough of a statement for me.  When she saw the wall decals, she was elated and immediately selected the Disney fairy decals.  There were like 50 stickers in this packet (I should’ve read it more carefully), some small, some large.  We literally spent an hour placing each and every sticker, no matter how big or small, around her room.  Admittedly, when it was done, it was just what she needed to complete the look of her room.  She thought it was, “Awesome!”

Now, Miss Lady turned 7 last month (I know, she’s growing up before my very eyes).  I’ve been trying for the past few months to get her to take down the fairy decals and put up the princesses.  But whenever I asked (and I didn’t ask very often), she would say, “No, I’m not ready yet, Momma.  Maybe when I’m 8.”  So I let it go.  The last time I asked was in May after we returned from Disney.  After all that time with the Princesses, I just knew she would be ready for the fairy decals to come down.  But, no, she wanted to wait until she was 8.

Understand, I didn’t ask about the decals because I was tired of looking at them.  That really is her room and her space, so, unless she is there, I don’t spend much time in her room (our girls don’t live with us, for those who are looking confused right now).  But I knew that she had outgrown the fairies and moved on to the next thing, as evidenced in the things she chose to play with and liked to do.  So I wanted to support that in her living environment as well.  Growth is good.  At the same time, you have to know when to use a gentle nudge, and when to step back.  So after I nudged, I stepped back.  And a funny thing happened.

I was coming out of my bedroom on Saturday, and was met at the door by Miss Lady.  “Momma,” she said to me, with that look that told me she wanted something.  “Miss Lady,” was my reply.  “Momma, I want to take down my fairies and put up my princess stickers.”  I smiled to her and said, “But I thought you wanted to wait until you were 8.”  “Yes, but I changed my mind.  I’m ready now.”  I just smiled and said okay, and off we went to her room to work on our new project:  taking down the old stickers and putting up the new ones.

An hour later, all of our work was done (and the paint on the walls remained perfectly in tact . .. those decals are GREAT!).  As I walked out of Miss Lady’s room, I looked back at her.  She was staring at the walls and spinning and laughing, which is what she does when she’s REALLY happy. The next day, I asked Miss Lady about her “new” room, and if she liked it.  Her response?  “I love it, it’s awesome, but I kinda miss my old stickers too.”

I thought about the process of her changing her mind about the stickers.   I gave her a gentle nudge, but didn’t push hard when she felt she wasn’t ready.  And yet, she was ready, which I knew all along, and when she finally realized it, the change was made.   But even after the change was made, she still missed, just a little bit, what she’d left behind.  How often does God, through the Holy Spirit, give us a gentle nudge to make a change or adjustment?  And how often do we push back on it, feeling that we’re not quite ready, even though we know inherently that He knows all and is doing what is best for us.  But eventually, God works on our hearts, and we walk the path we’re supposed to be on.  And even then, we may look back longingly at the past, but we must realize that the past is behind us, and we have to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (Philippians 3:14).

What lies ahead of you?  Has God been speaking to you about doing something that makes you nervous or apprehensive; feeling that you aren’t quite ready?  Why are you waiting?  Just as parents do with their children, He knows best, and we must trust God and walk the path that He has set before us.  So step out of your comfort zone, there are better things ahead of you.

How Do You See It?

Whenever something happens that bothers me, my husband always reminds me that it is all about perspective.  Now, admittedly, this usually just irritates me, but not because I think there’s wisdom in what he says.  In fact, I do.  But usually, at that moment, I want to wallow in whatever is bothering me.  It just so happens that my wise husband doesn’t really allow me to do that.  Go figure :-).

He does make a good point, though. When things don’t go your way, how do you look at it?  Is it a learning opportunity, or just something else to upset you?  And if it’s the latter, are you missing the lesson?  We had a situation occur over the weekend that really upset me.  I had an unintentional emotional reaction, in spite of my best efforts to hold it in.  But once I got that out of my system, I took a moment to step back and look.  The situation, frustrating though it may be, was simply a challenge.  From my perspective, it was the physical manifestation of a spiritual attack.  So, taking that into account, I did the one thing I know to do in spiritual matters:  I prayed.  I prayed for the situation, I prayed for those involved and I prayed for myself.

There was a time where a situation like that would have shook me for days.  It would have left me in a funk.  But, as I’ve learned, it is all about perspective.  I can’t change what happened, but I can change (and control) my reaction to it.  There are things that take place every day that frustrate you.  You can wallow in it, holding on to the past, or you can change your perspective.  Identify what lesson or opportunity you may take from the situation.  Alter your perspective, I guarantee it will alter more than just your thoughts, but also your attitude, your behavior, and possibly even the outcome of the situation.