Making Space

February 28, 2014

Unfortunately, one blog post a month is about all I can muster these days. This pregnancy hasn't been the easiest of times ... both my body and my mind have been kind of crazy. It's a good crazy, a "it will all be worth it in the end crazy" but crazy nonetheless. Every doctor's visit ends with "She's a big one!" which leads me to believe she will probably be as big as Henry's 9lb 6oz entry into the world ... or dare I say it - bigger. Both my mom and my husband were 9+lb babies, so genetically and historically I think I am pretty destined to have another big baby and another c-section. If only someone had warned me that my body generates toddlers at birth ...

So I guess my hormones are ramping up again in this third trimester because I've returned to all the crying. Yesterday after my doctor's appointment I was starving ... mainly because I was waiting on the doctor to finish a delivery and in two hours I ate all the snacks and the back up snacks in my purse. On the way home I was already teary, so I decided to stop at Chick-fil-A because I COULDN'T WAIT ANY LONGER (you mommas out there know what I mean), and I accidentally got in the wrong lane upon entrance. Now you know as well as I do that Chick-fil-A at 12:45 is a nightmare ... cars are full of hungry people everywhere, people are crossing traffic (either desperately lurching to get inside or happily sauntering out), employees are surveying the madness ... it's total chaos. And when a hormonal pregnant lady with mushy brains gets in the wrong lane, people are not happy. The lady beside me honked her horn loudly and firmly to protest my mistake, and I immediately turned to see her mouthing angry words and flailing her hands about and said, "I'm sorry!! I made a mistake!! I'm sorry!!" And then waterworks came ... I don't know if I was embarrassed or confused or frustrated or all of the above, but I do know that I was crying. a lot. We moved on, each in our individual lanes, and I hoped that she didn't allow my mistake to ruin her lunch.

The more I thought about it later, the more I realized how vulnerable I felt in that moment... and how vulnerable I feel. Just like being honked at in front of everyone, pregnancy is exposing ... strange people know something about me - something personal and emotional that I can't hide, something that I have fears and uncertainties about, something that is going to change my life significantly. And not only do these people know this thing about me, they always want to talk about it with me, too. With my tendency to hide, it's unnerving to be that exposed. I'm trying to live in the light, to live more freely, to live without fear ... so I let the tears come. I embrace them and listen to them.  In yoga we say to let the space around your heart be light. I would add to just let there be space ... for a big baby and for vulnerability and for being seen and for the tears that come with it all.

Those things are difficult to do, but all I can do is take each step one at a time. I hope you are making space for what you need too.

Looking Back and Hoping Forward

January 27, 2014

"Looking back on the memories of
The Dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment, all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?
And now, I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could've missed the pain, but I'd had to miss
The Dance"
-Garth Brooks

John bought me the new Garth Brooks CD/DVD set for Christmas. We saw his show at the Wynn Las Vegas when it was broadcast over Thanksgiving break, and I instantly remembered how much I love his music. Every song brought back a memory from my years as a teenager in the deep South. I sang along loudly to the choruses, feeling more nostalgia than the usual regret or TOTAL embarrassment that comes with going back to that time. It felt good to get lost in the music that had a hand in making me.

With his country twang and ten gallon hat stirring up memories, Garth gave me a jump start on the annual tendency to look back and reflect over the last 12 months. 2013 brought many life changing events for us, including our big move to Texas, Henry starting Kindergarten, and finding out we were pregnant with our baby girl. Despite the in-sane stress of it all, I am so grateful for 2013. I'm grateful that John is no longer traveling and we are living together full-time as a family. I'm grateful that I have been able to watch my little guy - who 50% drives me crazy, 50% makes me think I can't do this mom thing, and 100% helps me understand what unconditional love and sacrifice means - grow into a happy, healthy kindergartener. And, despite the sadness and pain, I'm grateful for the trauma of a miscarriage earlier in the year.

It feels weird to write out the words "grateful for a miscarriage." When I saw two pink lines on the stick back in March, I felt a mix of excitement and fear, much like I felt when I found out I was pregnant with Henry. Everything seemed pretty normal at first ... the bloating, the nausea, the I-want-to-lie-down-flat-on-my-face-all-day-long fatigue ... until I had some spotting. And the spotting led to appointments and then to waiting and an ER visit and a phone call from my doctor who couldn't sleep because of my case and an eventual D&C. I felt trauma and sadness and pain in a new way, but I also felt love and experienced my faith in a way like never before. Scripture says that God is near to the broken hearted, and that was never more true for me than during our loss.

God and I are closer. John and I are closer. I see and appreciate my son more than I thought I could. And I can't wait to welcome our new baby girl into this sad, painful, lovely, and faith-filled world. So, 2014, we look forward to all you are going to bring, hoping for the good to come.

Closer to Fine

September 17, 2013

"I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all ..."

-Indigo Girls

I turned 37 today. Earlier this week, John and I were joking about how I'm creeping towards 40. Forty, he teased. The big 4-0. And then I started thinking about the deep wrinkle by my right eyebrow, how I scare myself with how many times I stop mid-sentence because I have forgotten what I am saying, and how exhausted I am all the time. By the end of that train of thought I was buying a walker. And I generally felt like this:

Then, oh then ... I woke up this morning to my baby boy singing "Happy Birthday" and to a card from my best friend saying he was grateful I was his best friend. I connected with so many people - old, new, and forever friends - on Facebook as they wished me well. I got texts, calls, and cards in the mail. I had lunch at one of my favorite places with my favorite guy. I had a mini dance party in the living room with Henry after school. And John brought home some gluten free cupcakes. Seriously, what could be better?

A LOT, actually. What I participated in today was at the heart of who I am and what I believe. Today I had the privilege of being a part of my first Love Flash Mob at Momastery. Today we (and I say "we" because everybody's in) raised over $100 thousand dollars to help four children and their families. You can read about it here. The amount of kindness and love and compassion and giving BLEW. ME. AWAY. Our world has so much negative, so much pain, so much sadness ... sometimes it's all I can do not to fall apart and melt into the carpet because of it. But today, the Monkee nation reminded me that Love Wins. And that, my friends, was the best birthday present I could get. That and knowing we will be able to help these four families and more with the money raised.

But wait ... it gets better. Not only did I feel all this love and get to be a part of something magical, but then Glennon went and followed me on Twitter. I would like to tell you that it was no big deal, and I played it cool. But I soooooo didn't. The first thing I did after screaming was send a text to Suzanne. I sent a text to Suzanne because just yesterday I was telling her that Glennon and I are soul mates. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: I just got finished reading Carry On, Warrior, and I think she and I are soul mates like Brene and Oprah.

Suz: Ha!

Me: No, really. She doesn't cook (like, AT ALL), she admits to yelling at her kids, can get angry at the drop of a hat, would rather be in her pj's, and loves sugar and God and yoga. We're twinsies.

Suz: Oh yeah, that sounds like somebody I know and love.

So naturally, Suzanne was the first person I texted. And our exchange today went like this:

Don't get me wrong ... I wasn't star struck by Glennon. I wasn't excited because she is somebody special and her clicking a button made me feel special. No way. I was excited because I felt connected to someone I could relate to. That's all any of us want, right? To feel connected, to be heard, to be understood, to be loved. That's why I was so excited about chatting with a lot of people on Facebook today and replied to every single birthday wish. Not because I was happy to get comments, but because I could connect with each of those people and say thank you or I love you or I hope you are well. And I meant every. single. word.

I am so grateful. Grateful for the grace of Jesus, for another year, for my sweet husband and precious little boy, for friends who get me, for the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, to be able to show love to others, and to have a dance party in the living room. All of this made me realize that I am less closer to 40 and just closer to fine.

Five, Six, and Seven

August 3, 2013

Henry turned five this week. Five years old. What a mind boggling experience that was. Each birthday has filled me with awe and wonder, and this milestone was no different.

We started off the morning of his birthday with his present, one he had been asking for and obsessing about for quite some time ... the Lego Batmobile. He was so excited when he realized that we actually bought it for him that he alternated between hugging and kissing us, looking at the box in disbelief, and jumping up and down on the bed. He and John had it built before 7:30 am.

I told him we could do whatever he wanted that day, and he chose to play with the Batmobile ... all. day. long. His dinner request was Mexican - his favorite - so we headed out to meet John at our usual spot. The late afternoon light was gorgeous, and he obliged me when I asked to take a few pictures to remember what he was like when he turned five.




Going out for Mexican is a regular family tradition for us, so we were all very happy. We ended the celebration with a huge strawberry cupcake, hand picked by Henry of course.

John took these of the two of us after dinner. Man I love this kid. (And can you tell that I'm exhausted? This birthday has worn me down. Or maybe it's the move. Or the summer. Or the crying. Or all of it.)

A few days later we celebrated with our Texas friends, old and new. There were six kids and six adults in our little townhouse, which made for a cozy party. He asked for a (what else?) Lego Superhero party, so a Lego Superhero party is what he got.

We had Lego Superhero coloring pages, cupcake toppers, and juice jugs along with superhero gift bags, water bottles, masks, and even arm cuffs! 

And to top off all the birthday craziness, Henry lost his seventh tooth right before his party. Seventh!!

Thank you so much to everyone who came ... we loved having all of our sweet friends with us as we celebrated FIVE!! And a big thank you to our friends back home who sent texts and called ... we missed you more than you know.

Happy 5th birthday, my boy. It's been five years of you and five lifetimes of love.

The Least of These

July 23, 2013

I've been stuck on this post for a while. I am having trouble putting all of my thoughts together, so I have a feeling this one's gonna be choppy.

So much in the world is incredibly sad right now. Above and beyond the daily bleakness of hunger and crime and war, the headlines cry out and remind me over and over again that we are broken and our world is imperfect. The gay marriage debate, the utter disgust and contempt in politics, the abortion fight, kids dying senselessly ... in the midst of it all, I try to remember in what and in Whom I have my hope. I try to put one foot in front of the other, breathe, and be kind and brave no matter what. Every day.

I wasn't watching when the Zimmerman verdict came down. I received an alert on my phone, and raced to open it up and find out what happened. When I saw "Not Guilty!" splashed across the screen, my heart sank ... for Trayvon's parents, for the jurors who were constrained by a set of misaligned laws, for Marissa Alexander, for justice. If we take race out of the debate, the facts remain that a man, armed with a (legally owned) weapon, pursued an unarmed teenager when advised not to by authorities. He then got into an altercation with the teenager and shot him dead. He created a situation in which he ended up being responsible for the death of another human being and will have to live with that for the rest of his life, even if it is not in prison.

But the truth is that we really can't take race out of the situation. Even if George Zimmerman is telling the truth, even if he profiled Trayvon because of his hoodie and not his race - and I am not saying that I presume to know that he didn't -  there is a long, bloody history of discrimination and racial profiling in our country that this trial dredges up. And if you look in the mirror and your skin is pale, chances are you have no idea what that feels like. You've probably never been stopped by police just for walking down the street (like this guy), been followed around in a store to make sure you weren't stealing, or got on the bus and had everyone clutch their bags. You may not even know it's happening. STILL. IN 2013. But it's happening and it's real and it's wrong. And if our president could once be a guest at a fancy party and be mistaken for a waiter, what chance does a teenager walking home have?

Growing up in the deep South, race has always unfortunately been a part of my life. I've heard white people (adults and children) use racial slurs and demean other races as if they were inferior. I've heard black people complain and talk about white people with contempt. I've had white people tell me racist jokes and assume I would think they were funny because I was white. I've had black people call me names and assume I thought I was better than them because I was white. These things happened from childhood to adulthood on almost a daily basis, and in part, I think this was one of the reasons I felt so isolated from people. I never felt connected to either group because I didn't (and still don't) hold the idea that a person is defined by what they look like. And to this day, despite the fact that I have friends from all over the world, I still tense up and feel major anxiety when race is even mentioned. I can't help but wonder if a little white girl in the South has a story with race woven in that tightly, what does the story look like for a little black girl? Or a little black boy?

I know there is division on this issue. The two extremes that I have heard most often are "You need to get over it and stop making everything about race" and "You people are still trying to keep us down." Both statements make me sad. People of color can't just "get over" centuries of oppression and hatred that, despite progress, still goes on today. And not all white people are racist. The reality is that this issue will have no resolution as long as there is a "you" in our statements. It's just like in my practice when I used to invite married couples to try and stop naming things about each other and start looking at changes they could make individually ... Can we stop looking at others and look within? How are we each contributing to the perpetuation of a racial divide - outwardly or even in our hearts? Are we being unjustly accusatory or obtuse about the struggles of others? Because in reality, whether some like it or not, we are married to each other. We are all here, sharing the same neighborhoods, the same roads, the same grocery stores ... we aren't going anywhere. We're here, and we won't get better without each other. We won't have peace until we realize that we have just as many similarities as we have differences. We all have family and friends that we care so much about and want to spend time with. We all want to give and receive love, to know and be known. We all have children that we love and want to fiercely protect, and we want to see them grow and be healthy and happy and successful in life. And as broken as this world is, we need each other.

Jesus once said that whatever we do to "the least of these" we also do to Him. To me, He was painting a picture of togetherness, compassion, and mercy. When I think about all of us, broken and trying to make it through this life the best that we can, it seems as though we are all the least of these.


July 8, 2013

In honor of John returning home from Italy, I wanted to post a few conversation gems from our time in Texas. I keep a regular list of them, as they tend to occur pretty regularly. Enjoy!

Henry: Daddy, why do the cops get donuts as prizes in my video game?
John: Cops like donuts ... it's a broad stereotype.

Me: Now that I am writing again, I think I want to change my blog look, but I can't remember how I did it last time. Can you?
John: Yes. I did it for you.

Me: There are more homeless people here than I expected. It's so sad ... can you imagine?
John: I could probably make it work.

Me: How are you liking your new shoes?
John: Well, the sock to shoe coefficient of friction is higher than I'm accustomed to.

Me: Ugh, I'm just so irritated right now!
John: Want me to call a customer service line so you can yell at them?

One of those (amazing and toothless) days

June 23, 2013

I woke up a few days ago with, as my grandmother would say, a crick in my neck. That was just the beginning. For the rest of the day, I dropped everything in my hand - and by everything, I mean everything ... from the toothpaste to my phone - stubbed my toe, and ruined dinner. Then I waited 30 minutes too long to book a hotel room for a beach vacation we are planning, and the hotel sold out. It was one of those days.

We have those days, don't we? Days where everything seems to go wrong and frustration creeps in. Days where we can't shake that annoying realization that life is not happening easily. Then I catch myself feeling entitled ... my husband should be a little more like the Pinterest version of Ryan Gosling (Hey, Girl!), my child should be well behaved so I don't have to exert any energy into loving discipline (otherwise known as I'm tired of yelling), my bank account should be full so I can shop whenever and wherever I want (Banana! J. Crew!!). And then my child teaches me how to let go.

John and I were sparring over money. It was a friendly sparring, but a sparring nonetheless. We couldn't decide what money to take from which account to pay for an item we needed after the move. I thought it should be one account, he thought it should be another, and anyone who knows me knows that I don't like to lose. (This trait can be helpful at times - like when advocating for my son or trying to love people - but it can easily be one that causes me to land on my face.) As we went back and forth, Henry was quietly playing with his Legos on the floor. We knew he was there, but he wasn't a part of our discussion. At least we didn't think he was. After a few minutes of listening to us, he stood up and with true innocence in his eyes, he looked at me and said, "Mommy, if you want, you can have my dollar from the tooth fairy to help you pay for that."

You can imagine my heart at that moment, shattered and sunken into my gut. A few seconds later, he was in my arms. I wrapped him tightly, and I remembered that life is broken ... I am broken. I remembered the trip a friend just took to Africa to work on poverty efforts. I remembered another friend who once shared about the trip to pick up her newly adopted son and her desire to bring more children home because while she couldn't send them all to college, she could give them all food. I remembered redemption and grace and accepted forgiveness for being selfish so that we could all move on. All because of a tooth.

Last night we went to dinner with a friend, and afterwards we went to Memorial Park and let Henry play on the playground. While John was talking, I was busy trying not to become obsessed with Henry getting lost or abducted. After all, we were on the playground of the biggest park in the huge city of Houston, and there was little daylight left. So as I was on high alert, Henry slipped in and out of my sight, into and behind  equipment and slides. When I had been unable to see him for a few minutes, I began to panic, thinking "THIS HAS BEEN LONG ENOUGH!! WHERE IS HE??" And then I saw him ... being chased in a friendly game of tag by two other boys on the playground. Henry was laughing, smiling a mile wide, and running with complete joy. At that moment - that exact moment - my heart let go, and it was light and so so happy. I saw my child experiencing life with full release, and I basked in his joy ... it became my joy to see him unabashedly and fully open, embracing the moment without any fear - something I haven't been able to do well since I was a child myself. I was so incredibly happy that in that moment, my stuff hadn't become his stuff, and he could be freeGlennon would call it Kairos. And it was Kairos indeed.

I'm not a perfect person, and I am certainly not a perfect mommy. I am in the process of refusing to believe that perfection in any form currently exists, despite what magazines and makeup counters and Anthropologie tries to tell me. But I do believe we are all doing the best we can in each moment, and if we can extend a little grace to each other and to ourselves, we could do a lot of good together. And maybe, just maybe, every day could hold a bit of amazing, no matter what actually happens.

So much love to you today,