Category Archives: Southern Belle Baptist

Learning to say “yes”

One day, I will learn not to take all three of my kids to Target alone. Maybe.

It was a Friday morning, that fateful day. I needed a few things, and I had a hankering to peruse the home aisles of my local Target. You know, to relax and imagine a world where children don’t actually destroy everything nice I own. It started off fine. Knox and Brody were in the front of the monstrous family buggy, and Ford was in the Ergo carrier. We made it all the way to the back corner of the store, as you do, before the crying began. Ford was done shopping at Target. Like, furiously done. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but wearing an angry baby is UNACCEPTABLE and is in no way, shape or form an allowable alternative to holding said baby. So, I took him out of the carrier, which now dangled around my waist and held him. Still, no dice. His angry “I hate Target” cry quickly turned into a “feed me, woman” cry. So, we pushed our cart as quickly as possible to the front of the store, where I pushed everything and everyone into the family restroom, ignoring the “no merchandise in the restroom” sign. Sorry, Target.

I quickly nursed Ford while Knox and Brody tried to free themselves from the buggy and destroy the bathroom. I mangled to wrangle them one-handed back into their seats with only minor threatening, which I considered a success. Once Ford was finished, I foolishly thought “that was easy enough, now let’s shop some more.” FATAL ERROR, JESSICA. FATAL ERROR.

Once again, we managed to get back to the same corner of the store (school supplies, no less), when Ford promptly lost his cool. All the way lost. Of course, by this point, the section is crawling with quiet families, happily shopping for pencils and dry erase markers. All of which, by the way, are pointedly glaring at me. So, I took Ford out of the carrier again, and tried to jiggle him around. Jiggling really pisses off babies that are tired, FYI. We are nearing nap time, but I just needed to get a new notebook for Bible study. Just one, tiny notebook. “Jesus wants me to have this notebook,” I think. I need it. It’s for holy purposes. Certainly I can just grab one really quickly. Nope. The sight of notebooks is enraging to Ford. I reach out to grab one. I am throwing it in my cart when I see “wide ruled” emblazoned on the cover. WHY DO THEY EVEN MAKE WIDE-RULED NOTEBOOKS???? College-ruled or bust. I frantically start scanning the mountains of notebooks for something with thin-lines. Ford’s screaming is reaching a fever pitch. The eyes of Target people are boring into the back of my head, and I start sweating. Notebook Gate 2016 is becoming a real thing. For the love of all of the things, WHERE IS THE COLLEGE-RULED SECTION?!!! Frantic, I just pushed the cart out of the section, my wailing baby serenading us all the way. As we move to the front of the store, Ford gets quiet. I look down and see the totally red face of a baby that has let loose into silent cry. You know the one. They are so pissed that their cry has lost it’s sound, which only means that in approximately .467 seconds, the loudest cry possible will emerge out of their mouth.

S.O.S.

I knew what needed to happen. This baby needed to nurse IMMEDIATELY. I was still halfway to the checkout section. There was no way I could make it back to the family bathroom in time. I looked around and saw it: the empty furniture aisle. I shoved the cart down the aisle just as Ford started to hysterically scream. All I could think about at that moment was that crazy video where the man at Target starts berating the women for breastfeeding her baby without a cover, and I could not be the newest viral breastfeeding story: “Mom beats man senseless when he tells her to cover up, story at 11.” Because of course, I had left my cover somewhere, so I did what I had to do:

I went into the shelf.

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There, between a barstool and a side table, I scootched all the way back, shielding myself with a cart of children (who at this point were beating each other, gladiator-style, with boxes of Legos) and nursed the baby. Peace (except for the gladiator children). I was hot and sweating and praying no crazy breastfeeding-haters would stumble upon our shelf spot. Once it looked like Ford was asleep, I got up and practically ran to the checkout. Well. All the running woke the baby, who once again realized that he was in Target.

You can guess what happened next.

Every checkout lane had a line. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DID. So I had no choice but to wait. Sandwiched between a blonde lady, about my age (with no children because she was probably smart and got a babysitter), and a lady around the age of my mom, I stood holding a baby that was irate and screaming at the top of his voice. By the way, that’s really loud. My two biggest are asking for Kit Kats and Push Pops and all of the processed foods, and at this point I am like “GET WHATEVER YOU WANT, HEALTH IS STUPID” and pathetically trying to load the conveyor belt with one hand. The blonde woman keeps looking at me, and finally, she can’t help herself…

“Would you like some help?”

I opened my mouth immediately to offer a sweet “no thanks, I am fine,” but instead what came tumbling out was “yes. Yes I would.” So she and the woman behind me jumped into action, unloading my cart and then, taking it a step further, talking sweetly to my angry baby, who promptly stopped crying and smiled at all of the grandma-like attention he was getting from the woman behind us.

It hit me then as I stood there with happy kids piling candy onto the belt- why don’t we say “yes” to help when we need it? I always feel like I have to fake control and make people believe that I have it all together. Let me tell you something right now: I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. And sometimes, I need some help. I need a nice blonde lady to unload my cart and someone else’s grandma to sweet-talk my baby because I can’t do everything perfectly, all the time.  I don’t know about you, but faking it for someone else’s sake doesn’t actually make anything happen for me aside from filling me with anxiety and making me a little sweaty. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with other people: motherhood (and being a woman, in general) is messy, and it’s hard. God designed us to live in community- to build each other up and pour into one another. Sometimes we are the ones pouring out, and sometimes we’re the ones getting filled up. It’s an ebb and flow, and it is okay to accept the filling. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. I am thankful today for two women in Target that showed me kindness and taught me that it’s okay to say “yes.”

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” -1 Peter 3:8

P.S. I got  home and realized: I forgot the notebook.

Hope Remains

One of my best friends lost her five year-old this week. After almost two years of seizures, comas, hospitals and specialists, Walker is finally resting in the arms of Jesus. I keep thinking back to when all of this started. Trevor called me that morning and told me about the medical call they ran the night before. The call where his captain turned their firetruck into our friends’ neighborhood. Then onto their street. Then pulled up at their house. Each step of the way, Trevor said he kept thinking “Please don’t let this be their house.” Only it was. Karie, my dear friend, called me from the hospital and told me about the first seizures. They came out of nowhere and suddenly their vivacious, smart, talkative three year-old was having an MRI while we all prayed and wondered how to make sense of it all. Many months later, we still can’t make it make sense. Babies shouldn’t suffer and die. Parents shouldn’t have to beg for their children’s lives. These things shouldn’t happen.

Everyone is so amazed they kept going. Not just that Andy and Karie carried on, but that they did so with immense faith and never failed to point out that God was in control. They had something bigger than their fear: they had hope. Here’s the funny thing about hope- it won’t let you give up. It’s more than just a feeling or an idea; it’s a bridge that carries you from a place that doesn’t make sense into one that does. To a place where details like autoimmunity and encephalitis don’t matter, but one piece of truth reigns over everything: that Jesus Christ is Lord. He suffered and died so that when our loved ones suffer and die, it isn’t the end. His kingship rules even over death, forcing it into submission to a mighty God that loves us recklessly and without condition. A God that fights for us even beyond death. He wants more than life for us: He wants eternity.

Walker may be gone from his earthly body, now, but his short life was not without impact. More people heard the name of Jesus through Walker’s story than I could begin to count. He mattered. He still matters. He will always matter. His life has led people to surrender theirs to Christ, to trust in God’s goodness even amidst tragedy. His strength and his parents’ strength have made us stronger.

Living in this sin-wrecked world has its perils; death is one of them. When the world has gone to pieces, we can’t expect things to make sense all the time. But. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, the fear, the all-too-human questioning, one thing stands out: love. The love of a God that made the ultimate sacrifice- his own son dying on a cross so that we, along with our own sons and daughters, can live together forever in paradise.

His love gives us hope. The world is broken, but our God is unshaken. For that, we can all rejoice, knowing that He can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is alive. He is good. He is our hope.

The hard parts

415369dd2516dd09d1c21167594fc6b5Thank you guys for all of the congratulatory comments and messages on our pregnancy announcement! It was a great surprise, and we’re looking forward to meeting this new little person in February (or January, knowing my history of early babies). I wish I could say that this pregnancy has been super easy and all sunshine and roses, but that has not been the case. This is going to be a long post, so maybe grab a snack before you get started! I had about two days of blissful happiness after we found out before the anxiety began. Crippling, all-consuming anxiety. I’ve blogged before about my own health issues over the past year- autoimmune activity, lots of blood work and doctors, leaving me with no answers and so many questions. Extreme dry eyes and dry mouth remind me daily that something isn’t quite right. It’s like pregnancy re-ignited all of my fears and concerns, but I couldn’t get away from them. I researched and Googled until I made myself sick with worry. Then at five weeks pregnant, the numbness started. I woke up three nights in a  row with both feet completely numb and both arms tingling. Pins and needles through my arms and legs during the day and random arm numbness.

I freaked out a little. By little, of course, I mean all the way freaked out. The OB said it was too early for pregnancy-related numbness. The doctor said it was probably pregnancy-related. All that I knew was that it scared me to death, and it needed to stop. My OB did put me on a baby aspirin to see if it helped improve my circulation, but I didn’t see much difference. After another week, I decided to take a methyl B12 (I’d been on it daily before I got pregnant but stopped with the positive test). In a couple days, the numbness stopped.

Then, Knox’s Vitiligo diagnosis happened. Picture me a woman obsessed- I spent hours, HOURS a day looking at my skin, just knowing I was developing white spots at an alarming rate. Brody was looked over constantly, Knox’s existing spots reexamined daily, sometimes more. I cried all the time, paralyzed with fear. I finally called my OB and made an appointment to talk to her. This kind of worry wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t healthy. I had developed a pregnancy-induced obsessive/compulsive form of anxiety, and she immediately put me on Zoloft, which has helped immensely. I am the kind of person that cuts everything in pregnancy: no coffee, no medicine, no anything artificial, but in this case, I knew that really needed to do something to help myself. I literally felt like I was drowning under the weight of everything going on around me. I dealt with postpartum depression after Brody and took it then, as well, so I am a big fan of asking for help when you need it- it makes all the difference for both you and your baby!

Back to the numbness I was having- knowing the B12 helped so much, it made me think about something else. My mom and aunts have a gene mutation called MTHFR- it effects the way your body processes folic acid and b12. I immediately became obsessed with researching this more than I had previously (which was a lot) and requested a blood test. I was convinced that I had it, as well. Not in a panic-stricken worried way, but in an informed, “I have weird symptoms of B12 deficiency” way. Sure enough, after about two weeks I got the call from my doctor- I tested positive and she needed to talk to me about our next steps.

Well, not only did I have the one mutation that my mom has (C677T) but another as well (A1298C) which makes me compound heterozygous for the MTHFR mutation. In the case of gene mutations, more is NOT better. Having this double whammy puts me at much higher risk of blood clots, cardiovascular problems and some other fun things. In particular, it makes clots in pregnancy a very real possibility. The fact that I’ve had two relatively normal pregnancies is an amazing blessing- many women don’t discover this mutation until they have a loss or recurrent losses and get a work up done after the fact.

My OB recommend that I begin on a daily regimen of Lovenox injections into my stomach to prevent clotting. In addition, I’ll still be doing the P17 progesterone shots again that I took with Brody to prevent pre-term labor, beginning at 16 weeks. We’re waiting on authorization from the insurance company, and once that’s done, I’ll begin the shots. The other important piece to this mutation is that I cannot take Folic Acid or regular B12- my body cannot break it down efficiently, so I have to take food-ready forms of the vitamins: methylfolate and methyl b12. I had already started a prenatal with that combo a few weeks prior, thankfully, just anticipating the results. After we found out for sure, I was instructed to double the folate dosage. I am also continuing with my gluten-free diet, as many products made with flour use enriched flour, which has both folic acid and b12 added. These can be harmful and actually block the methylation pathways in my body, so I need to avoid them. I’ve had Knox tested, as well (waiting on those results), and Trevor and Brody are next up. Chances are, the boys have at least one mutation, so they’re already on the appropriate vitamins, just in case.

This stuff has been very scary, and it’s definitely sucked some of the happiness out of the first trimester, for sure. However, I know that God is bigger than all of this, and that He gave me my crazy obsessive brain for a reason- thank goodness I was proactive and requested that test because now this baby will get what he or she needs in utero and have the best chance possible. I would really appreciate your prayers for a healthy baby and mama at the end of this pregnancy- we’re praying that no other complications arise (because seriously, that’s enough!) and we can relax a bit from here on out. Aside from the whole stabbing myself in the stomach part, because I am pretty sure that won’t be relaxing!

Holy Week

So I didn’t post at all last week. Sorry, but such is life when you work at a church and it’s Holy Week. I ran around like a crazy person all week and worked EVERY SINGLE DAY. We did a huge Maundy Thursday service at church, and it was ridiculously amazing and so powerful. My favorite element was a painter that we brought in- during the entire service, she stood off to the side and painted. At the end, she had finished a portrait of Jesus on the cross, then took red paint and poured it down over him. You guys, it was incredible. Here’s the finished product:

2015-04-02 20.04.57After Maundy Thursday, it was full blast to get ready for Easter Sunday. I am heading up a new committee at church that is in charge of the environment for big events, so we all got together Saturday morning to decorate the Worship Center for Easter. It was so much fun! I love these ladies, and it is a blast to get to be creative with them. My friend, Meagan, is an incredibly talented florist and took the lead on our floral cross centerpiece. I absolutely love how it turned out:

11074139_10204038547503323_6359103482594730524_nIt was also nice to get to use some of the leftover flowers in my own house for my Easter centerpiece!

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The Easter bunny visited Knox and Brody on Saturday night since Trevor had to work on Easter Sunday (lame). We are going through a bit of a sugar problem in our house right now (aka Brody is addicted to it) so that sweet Bunny didn’t bring any candy to the boys, just a pack of fruit snacks with their new sandbox toys. They got cute buckets with little shovels and dump trucks for our sandbox since they always want to take the good toy trucks out there to play with. They also got some stretchy/squishy lizard/snake toys that Knox loves. Not too many good pictures since they were in motion the entire time, but here’s the gist:

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Sunday morning, the boys and I went to church to celebrate our risen Savior- what a great morning! I kept thinking I needed a picture of us, but that never happened. Oh well, we looked nice, take my word for it. Easter dinner was weird for us because Trevor worked and only my mom and sister came over for Easter dinner. Usually we have about 15 people for Easter, so it felt very empty! I would say that it felt quiet, but seeing as how my children were present, it was NOT quiet. I made a pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans, then my sister made macaroni and cheese (and a second gluten-free mac and cheese for me), a Derby Pie and a paleo apple crisp. Have I mentioned that my sister is awesome?? I thought it was so sweet that she tried to accommodate my dietary changes- plus she works at a bakery and a really talented cook/baker, so everything she makes is awesome. Knox and Brody really like with Aunt Kayla comes over because she always comes bearing cookies!! I didn’t take a picture of the food (I know, so unlike me) except of my pork roast, after searing it, when it was going into the oven.

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Brody was being a bit of a busybody while I was cooking, so I decided to teach him a new skill to occupy his mind and his hands! He learned how to snap the ends off of green beans, and it was pretty much the cutest thing ever. We did eat a few stems, but all-in-all, it was a valiant first effort! He was also very proud of himself, which was adorable.

11081449_815921215128746_9026243716797651325_nAfter dinner, the boys ran off their sugar high, then we went to bed! That’s pretty much how our Holy Week went- did you do anything special for Easter? What are your family traditions?

 

Plate: Full

I like to work myself to death. Well, I don’t like to do it, but I tend to. I pile up my plate until it’s overflowing- family, church, work, freelance work, side job, house work, meal planning and the list continues. Why do I do this stuff to myself?  I feel like “Oh, I can do all of that” in the moment, but then I realize what’s missing: free space. I’ve left no margin for quiet time, for reflection, for relaxation, for fun. I’ve scheduled myself into a corner.

How do I stop that?

By scheduling myself out of one.

I am now starting to make appointments with myself. How ridiculous does that sound? I know, but seriously, if it’s not on the calendar, did it even really happen? I schedule everything: times to pick up kids, appointments, meetings, small group, conference calls, etc. Why not add a little block that says “do something for yourself?”

So today, I am saying “yes” to a block of time for me and “no” to saying yes too often. I need time to breathe. I need time to be alone with God. I need white space.

I’ve forsaken that time I need to get into the Word, to pray, to seek. I can’t function that way. My focus begins to waver, my resolve drifts, my peace wanes. I need that peace. A life filled with joy and peace isn’t something that I can allow to be scheduled away- it isn’t worth it. So I’m going to take it back, take back some of my hours, some of that time and reset my focus.

There is going to be a me o’clock today.

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“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1-2

 

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