30 December, 2010

Our Song

Nick and I have never been able to say that we "have a song."
That changed today.

This is "Dancing in the Minefields" by Andrew Peterson

25 December, 2010

the guts to get pregnant

it's christmas day. 
only six days left until a brand new year begins.

i am a goal-setter by nature.  i enjoy challenging myself to reach higher.  so usually, around this time of year, my heart naturally begins to seek out the opportunity for a fresh beginning, and new adventures to go with it. 

and this year, i do have a mental list already forming in my mind.  no wonder i always feel so tired.  i have yet to master the skill of resting my mind.  perhaps i should add that to the list.

this year i accomplished something extraordinary.  well, several extraordinary things, but one stands out:  i gave birth to a baby this year.  i cooked her up by god's grace in my body, nestled warmly inside for what seemed like forever, and then, seemingly in an instant, there she was.  all seven pounds thirteen ounces of her.  my daughter.  she is eight-and-a-half months old this christmas.  and without question, other than my marriage, she is my greatest achievement to date.

last year, at christmastime, i was six months pregnant.  and while on the outside i was excited and confident about my new little one, i had a dark little secret.  inside, in my hidden places, i was very afraid.

you see, nick and i planned our pregnancy like one rips off a bandaid--hurry up and do it before i lose my nerve.  we had been married for five years and ready or not, it felt like time.  and we were extraordinarily blessed when we didn't have to wait long to see two pink lines on the stick.  we found out we were pregnant the day one of my cousins got married, and that day we danced and kissed and smiled like fools--this was it--we were having a baby.

but it wasn't long before my mind started spinning circles around itself.  and in the early months of my pregnancy, i silently wished to miscarry.  i remember one day specifically when i was driving in my car, sobbing and afraid.   i had been wrong.  i wasn't ready for this.  i wasn't ready to be a mom.  i wasn't ready to say that i could indefinitely provide for a baby.  i didn't have things arranged the way a wiser woman would have--how would we manage working and baby-sitters and insurance and diapers?  i had been foolish and now it was too late.  a baby was on the way and i had ruined my life.

when aly was born, i didn't attach to her right away.  i saw them lift her from me and they took her to clean her up.  i felt strangely detached.  everyone had told me that once you deliver that baby, it all becomes worth it.  my first thought was that it hadn't been.  worth it, i mean.  during the delivery, my contacts had become uncomfortable so i had taken them out. i am practically blind without them and so much of the room and the activities in it were a blur. 
but slowly it occured to me that i wasn't hearing a baby cry.  honestly, i was only minorly bothered by this.
i asked why she wasn't crying.  they told me to turn my head and look.
i rolled my head to the side and across the room, through the blur of weak eyes, i saw a baby.  my baby.  she was too busy looking around to cry.  she was wide-eyed, alert, content, and curious.  from the very beginning.
it was then that my mama's heart roared to life and in that moment, i loved her.

it has been in the months since that april birthday that i have learned the most dynamic lessons of my life.

there are many couples in the same holding pattern that nick and i were in.  knowing that eventually they want children, but that there are so many stars yet to align before that happens.  and i know.  i get it.  i lived it.

and it is absolutely wrong.  in my opinion, there has never existed in the earth a more damaging, deceptive thought pattern than this.  it was become the reflex, the response, the excuse that continues to this day to keep thousands of young married couples from their destiny.

and its hard.  never before has a generation had to be more purposeful about starting a family.  we practically spay our females with a little pill the moment she shows signs of fertility.  a zit appears on the chin of a teenager and we immediately prescribe the pill to get her hormones in line by simulating pregnancy on her body.  she gets used to this little pill, her little friend, as though her body, as god created it, is out of submission to her desires in its design. 

and when she marries, it becomes her pass to sex without baby.  and who doesn't like that idea, let's be honest?  and the concept, in my opinion, to delay babies for a few months, maybe a year or two, when you're first married may have benefit.  i see the scenarios and i'm not passing judgment. 

but i really think its time for us to rethink how we look at fertility. 
when the day comes that perhaps a woman might consider carrying a baby, she will notice for maybe the first time that her tiny little pill of a friend has become a wall around her destiny.  i mean that exactly as it sounds.  i don't think a woman was ever intended  to have to make the decision to allow her body to conceive.  the day you look at your pill and don't take it after years of its security resembles jumping off a mountain.  its that hard. 

women are created in god's image.  we are designed to bring life into the world, to nurture babies, to mother children, to issue forth a new generation.  we are created to conceive.

aly will wake up from her nap in a few minutes, as she does every day around this time.  there is no way to express the enormous level of new revelation of god's personality, character, and desires that i have gotten since the day she was born.  selfishness has been eliminated by love.  foolishness has been replaced by love.  impatience, yes, even poverty mindset, has been set aright as god reveals himself to our family.  my husband has been elevated from servant to servant leader.  he has a new authority on him that i have dreamed of since we married.

five years passed since the day we married and they were swallowed up in obligations, job pressures, money pressures, and fear.  in aly's birth, the father, my unique design and purpose, and my freedoms in him have been showcased. 

so this christmas, if i get my christmas wish, there would be a shift in how we think about children.
there are couples out there, men and women, who are praying to be advanced and blessed.  in my opinion, here is your answer: "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3 NASB)

children are the greatest blessing that god can give. our society focuses on the burdens of children. they write whole books on how to prepare for children. how to shoulder the financial burden. they could not be more wrong. do not be fooled. do not listen to your fears. do not give that voice the time of day.   it does not show revelation of the father to fear the arrival of your children.

 i beg you to trust me on this--embrace it.  go make a baby.  as quickly as you can.  on the kitchen table.  with whipped cream if you want to (to each his own).

it is christmas, after all.  its a great day for babies.

21 December, 2010

noisy rhonda

when i found out rhonda had died, after the immediate shock passed, i was numb for a long time.
it took a while until i felt anything.

but slowly, i started noticing that rhonda's name was echoing through my mind.  literally, it was like i was hearing "rhonda, rhonda" over and over.

for those of you who don't know, i'm something of a name person.  to me, names matter.  what the name means matters.  there are very beautiful names i've completely eliminated for my kids (present and future) because i can't name them something that means "from the purple grass" or something like that.  you know?  aly's full name is loaded with meaning, both officially and personally.  for nick and i, the names we give our children are prophetic and are our first task when we bring a child into this world--we prophesy identity on them.  not everyone feels that way.  but we do.

so after hearing rhonda's name for like four hours, i finally typed it into a favorite baby-naming site to find out what it means.  thought maybe that would bring me some clarity.

rhonda is a English name.  it means "noisy".

when i first read that, i frowned.  i thought that was awful for someone i knew to be so genuine.
and then, like a sponge, it started to sink in.  and i listened and thought about this for a while.

when we went to rhonda's viewing last night, people were waiting in line outside the funeral home to pay their respects.  we arrived 20 minutes after it started and waited in like for two and a half hours.  (thirty of those minutes were outside in the cutting winter wind.)  when we left at nine o'clock, there was at least another hour and a half of people in line waiting.

everyone wanted their chance to acknowledge rhonda.  to love on keith.  to hug their daughters.  to tell her family how special she has been.

when we finally reached keith, who we have fought with on the front lines, we looked into him and saw his conflict.  appreciation and humility at all the love being poured upon his family.  exhaustion.  hunger.  strength. sadness.  hope.  we offered to go get him some food (it had been many hours since his last meal), but his first thought was how rude it would be to the crowd of waiting friends if he paused to eat.  food could wait.  even in his mourning, even in his grief, even in weakness, keith showed his metal.  keith is a man who shoulders the battle and doesn't run from it.  he is a genuine, loving brother to nick and i and so many in the kingdom.  he is extraordinary.

i kept thinking about "rhonda" and "noisy" as we left the funeral home.
suddenly the revelation hit me squarely. 
it wasn't rhonda who was noisy.  it was rhonda's life that was.

i've heard many stories about rhonda in the past week and the echo of rhonda's life will continue indefinitely.  she truly impacted and served and blessed and gave.  rhonda's sound was so much bigger than her petite little five-feet-or-so would have indicated.  thousands of people put their week-of-christmas schedules on hold to stand in line to testify about rhonda.  the funeral home folks said it was the largest viewing they had seen in fifteen or twenty years.

it's so true that rhonda was one noisy gal.  she resonated.  she echoes still.
i'll bet heaven is a little noisier now too.  between rhonda's laughter, her singing, and her intercession, i'm sure the angels are nudging each other about the new girl and how glad they are she's finally arrived.  because no matter where rhonda goes, in this dimension or the next, she will always be the piece that when it's added, you realize suddenly that you've been missing her the whole time.

we love you, rhonda.  see you later.

16 December, 2010

pretty nails or useful hands

its a red nail polish kind of day.  i think i'm going to take myself out to get some.
along with baby wipes and eggs.
i'm forgetting something.
darn. it.

i don't know why i bother with nail polish.  and i will think that exact thought a week from now, when it's chipped almost completely off and looks ridiculous.  i will wonder why i went to the store and spent the money for it.  on purpose.  knowing full well it wasn't going to end well.

but its Christmas and my mommy hands need a little...sump'm sump'm.  however you spell that.

dish detergent!
whew, that's a relief.  glad i remembered
one more day without that and i'll be scraping the dishes clean with my fingernails.

that might be why, a week from now, the nail polish will have been a mistake.
because, even if i do remember the dish detergent, i will find some other way to mess them up.

oh well.
hands were made to be used, not displayed.
so i'll paint my nails and they'll be lovely for a moment.
then i'll use my hands and they'll be lovely to someone else.
i guess that's a fair trade after all.