Not What I Expected

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but haven’t been able to really organize my thoughts. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t really wanted to organize my thoughts. My typical defense mechanism is to ignore what’s going on, shove it aside, and live in survival mode until I finally deal with it or it blows up in my face. And while there have been bursts here and there along the way, there hasn’t been a huge explosion yet. I hope, by addressing this now, there won’t be. Perhaps I actually am learning something.

This last week leading up to Mother’s Day was very different from the one two years ago. Then, I was starting on a cycle of fertility drugs, going a little crazy, stressed, anxious, and sad, though still hopeful. Now, I’m celebrating my first as a mom, with less than 6 months to go before we welcome a second into our family. Oh, yeah, and there’s a pandemic going on.

This time last year I thought there was still over a month to go before we’d get to meet Evelyn (there was really only a couple weeks as she came over 3 weeks early). I don’t remember being incredibly stressed. I just remember having huge feet, not being able to put on shoes and socks without feeling winded, and feeling the kicks and hiccups from the little one inside, reminding me she was there. I was amazed at what was going on inside me. Amazed at a Creator who designed this process so flawlessly. And yet…

I don’t know exactly when it happened. Probably a little bit as we struggled with infertility. And a little more as we saw a specialist with no results. I had begun to withdraw from the God I loved.

I was thankful, am completely thankful, for the precious gift He’s given us in Evie. But throughout that pregnancy I was still skeptical of the outcome. Worried she’d be taken from us too soon. Not letting myself get attached in preparation in case that happened. And then she was here. And what started out happy enough with this sweet little girl turned into two weeks of hell. We were scared DCPP was going to take her from us (all because I ate a poppyseed bagel 4 hours before I went into labor and tested positive for opioids on a drug test I took when I was admitted to the hospital). That complete ordeal lasted two plus months, but there was nothing that shook us both as much as those first couple days. Days we should have been rejoicing in the new life we’d been blessed with, not fearing that she’d be snatched away, this blessing we longed for so much.

Then there was the figuring out how to be a mom. How often should she eat? Sleep? What if she seems like she’s hungry but she just finished nursing? Is she crying because she’s hungry or because she just wants to be held? Along with the seemingly innocent questions and comments, “You’re feeding her again?” “She sure does eat a lot.” (Please do not ever say these things to a new mom. While you may think they are just observational and offhand, they can be taken very much as judgement of what she is doing…as if she isn’t already questioning herself & her competency enough.)

Just about the time the whole poppyseed ordeal was clearing up I found out that Evie wasn’t getting enough to eat (despite me feeling like I fed her all the time). For not the first time and not the last I felt I had failed her.

Insecure about my “motherness”, my body, my choice to stay home, I looked to distract myself from all of that (I’m really not so good at facing things head on). I turned to entertainment, social media, ridiculous time consuming games on my phone. All from which I gained absolutely nothing, besides what I wanted. Distraction. And during this all I distanced myself from my God. And I distanced myself from my daughter. I learned how selfish I can be; not wanting to relinquish my time to care for her. I thought this was all what I wanted. Be a stay at home mom. Take care of my baby. Teach her and watch her grow. Take care or our home. Cook delicious meals. Host dinner for our friends. Why was I not finding joy in this?

I had forgotten where my joy was found. More likely, I didn’t want to look for it there. There, in the place it always was and always has been. There, in my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. I had fallen into, I don’t know, a hole, a rut, a pattern of behavior? And while I didn’t want to be there, while I desired to draw close to the Lord, I had settled into where I was. I was comfortable.

Oh, there were times I had been rather distraught. Times of breakdowns and ugly crying. Times of knowing I wasn’t doing what I should. And maybe I’d change for a day or two. I’d rally myself and try to do better. But you know what? I’m not so strong on my own. I look back at all the things I have done/gone through in the past; moving to Alaska, major surgery, finding a husband, finishing a half marathon. They all have one thing in common. I did not rely on my own strength. So why am I trying to do that now?

Maybe in this season of feeling so out of control I want to feel like I can control something (though this started long before the current pandemic crisis). Maybe I want to prove something. To the world. To myself. To those around me. And yet I think about that and it seems so silly. I have the knowledge of where true strength comes from. I have knowledge of where true joy comes from. And yet I lack wisdom to put that knowledge to use.

And then yesterday, Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day, we joined our church’s livestream from home. Our pastor spoke of his mom, who went home to be with the Lord only a few weeks ago. He spoke of one of his fondest memories; seeing her enjoying her morning coffee and time in the Word and sharing with him what God had been sharing with her through it. Sharing with his sons the same as they grew. Her strength and joy found in her Lord though her life was far from easy, far from pain-free. The deep impact that has had on his life.

And I remembered why I so desired to be a mom in the first place. I remembered a desire that had lain somewhat dormant for some time. I remembered the desire to share the knowledge and the truth of the Lord I love with the child(ren) I hoped to have. It is to this end that I strive. Not for my own reknown or acknowledgement, but so that in this I  may honor & glorify my Lord.

Is it really that easy? Hearing a sermon and deciding to change? No, I know it won’t be. I know there will be days where my selfishness will take over. Days when I insist on working through my own strength. Days when my confidence in the process will falter because things are constantly changing. Days when schedules and best laid plans fly out the window (especially when her sister enters the mix). But I have been reminded of this great endeavor I have been blessed to have. Evie is almost a year old. Time goes by so quickly and I don’t want to waste it anymore.

If you made it this far, friends, congratulations! Forgive me for the twisting, winding thoughts. I hope they’ve made at least a little sense. This was much more for me to find my way through it all. To make sense of this last year. Thanks for muddling through with me.

If you feel stuck in a place, you’re not alone. This is not an easy road. I’m traveling it, too. More importantly, Christ is here, too. With Him it may not necessarily be easier, but it will be possible. I write this so I may remember it as well.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Never the Same

Eight weeks and two days ago my life changed forever.

Gone are the early nights to bed and sleeping past 5am (6am occasionally) in the morning.

Gone is having the day to myself to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

Gone are the days of only being responsible for myself.

Gone are the days of being able to leave the house in less than 10 minutes (not that I was terribly good at that before).

Gone are the moments of quiet, relatively easy to find.

Rare will be spontaneous trips out or traveling with a tiny purse.

Here are the days of a new normal.

Here are the early morning feedings, as well as those in the middle of the night.

Here are the days of caring for someone totally dependent on me.

Here are the days of changing diapers, cleaning spit-up (and things a bit more undesirable).

Here are the days of wondering “What have we done?”.

Here are the days of riddled with self doubt, thoughts of inadequacy, confusion, frustration, and sleep deprivation.

BUT

Gone are the days of longing for this blessing.

Gone are the days, racked with heartbreak for a desire unfulfilled.

Gone is the asking, “How long, O Lord?”.

Here are the days of rocking in my mama’s chair; nursing my little girl as sun beams gradually fill the room.

Here are the days of singing “Jesus Loves Me” time and again, with great hope that the Truth will be made evident in this new life.

Here are the days of seeing my husband learn how to be a daddy (discovering such tricks like humming the Star Wars theme can typically calm her down).

Here are the times of snuggling, the three of us, and the enjoyment of just being together.

Here of the days of seeing the Lord’s faithfulness, yet again, and wondering why it was ever doubted.

Here are the days of thanking the Lord (though not at all nearly enough), for this amazing blessing He’s bestowed upon us.

I always knew that being a mother wasn’t going to be easy, but it’s harder than I ever imagined. Especially when it brings to light all the sin and selfishness that’s tucked away in my heart. We are still figuring this out (and will be for the next 20 or so years, or just forever) and adjusting to our new normal, but are oh so thankful to be blessed with friends & family we can turn to for support, advice, and encouragement, and even more so for a God who is always reminding us just how great His faithfulness is.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

November 14, 2018

I was waiting to post this in order of our story, chronologically, but that has just gone out the window – I suppose I’ll try to catch up one day, but more important things have come along 😊

Today it became real to me. There is a new life growing inside of me. One, Lord willing, I will get to care for, nurture, teach, and love. I’m going to be a mom.

Up until now I don’t think I let myself truly believe it. I feared miscarriage (though that’s still possible). I feared getting attached to someone that I might never meet this side of heaven. I’ve spent the past year and a half trying not to get my hopes up and I think that mentality stuck around, even after I found out I was pregnant.

Today was our last appointment with the fertility specialist. He’s been keeping a close watch on things and I had my fourth ultrasound today. And today that little tiny life looked much less like a tiny blob and much more like a baby. My baby. Our baby. They put one of the ultrasound photos in a cute frame for us and happily sent us on our way into the hands of a regular OB. Their work was done. I tried to hold it together as I went back into the waiting room where other women sat, where I had so many times before. I would not be coming back.

We got into the parking lot and I lost it. I sobbed into Steve’s shoulder for a good minute or so. I remember him asking if they were happy tears and I nodded. They were really more of amazement and gratitude. “This is really real, isn’t it?” It had finally sunk in.

I’m not at all sure what we’re in for, besides a kid that’s got to be at least a little crazy. I still can’t think much more past today, and that is ok by me.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

When Worship is Difficult

It all started with a song. One inspired by Psalm 118. One Sunday morning in church, probably in late August when I had all but given up. Somewhere in the middle of singing praises to the Lord, this song started. I know it was in the middle because I was already standing and then the weight of it all hit me, and I just couldn’t any more.

🎶Oh, give thanks to the Lord

Oh give thanks to the Lord

For He is good

He is good

For He is good

He is good, oh

His steadfast love endures

Forever, forever He endures 🎶

You can listen to the song here : Psalm 118 (Your Steadfast Love)

The truth of this washed over me as tears fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it in my heart, because I had felt that He was everything but good at that moment. But my head knew it was true. His Spirit inside nudged me along. And I sang, though I was angry and hurt and broken. And when I couldn’t manage that for the tears, I mouthed the words. No one could hear them, but I was declaring the truth to the One who is Truth itself. It was my sacrifice of praise. While I didn’t want to acknowledge Him at all, it was really the only thing I could do.

If we praise God only when we’re getting what we want, how is He different from a genie in a magic lamp? His love for us is unconditional, and what’s more, He is God. That fact alone deems Him worthy of worship. Always.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth;

    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

~1 Chronicles 16:29-31

This is not easy. It’s not easy to worship God when you feel unseen by Him. Or when you can’t help but think He’s holding out on you. We all have ups and downs. Times when we feel super close with our Lord and times when we distance ourselves. But He stays the same. He doesn’t change. He sees our struggles and heartache. He sees our success and joy. None of our circumstances can change who God is and so our worship of Him should remain steady through it all.

A few months later, probably some time in November (after we knew I was pregnant), we sang the same song again. As the words began I couldn’t help but cry. Not out of brokenness this time, but because I knew, with all my being, the truth and grace in the words. He was good to me and His love endured. Through all my craziness. Through all my doubts. And sorrow. And questioning. How could I have ever thought differently? I praised Him for His providence in it all; not knowing the reasoning behind it, but grateful that He did.

I don’t know where you are, dear friend. You may be high on a mountain or low in a valley. Know this truth, wherever you find yourself; God is God and He is good. Always.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 30

Well, this was an interesting experiment. I did not keep a perfect record of writing every day, but I did make it a point to think about something I was thankful for each day.

After a season of not really being sure what there was to be thankful for this was a really good exercise.

Today it was more of the simple things. We’ve had various commitments in the evenings for the past few days and tonight we got to just hang out, which included breakfast for dinner, pj’s by 6, and watching a movie. I’m thankful for this relaxing evening at home.

I’m also thankful that tomorrow is December 1st & Christmas preparations will begin. We’ll tidy up so we can put up the tree. I’ll soon be baking up a storm to have a supply on hand for Christmas parties, gifts for friends and neighbors, and just because. Most importantly, though, is the preparation inside myself. Preparation to celebrate the coming of the Lord. The preparation of remembering what He left behind to come into the world as a totally dependent baby. All to bring the Father glory and restore a right relationship between us and Him.

I pray, as the season of Advent begins, you, too, will take time to prepare. Not so much with gifts and cookies and decorations (though those are all well and good), but with remembering the reason behind it all. The glorious miraculous birth of the One who will make all things new.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 29

Tonight I went to a mosaic class with my mother-in-law. There were just 6 of us there, plus the teacher, and everyone’s project looked so different despite the fact that we all were working with the same base and materials.

I am so thankful and in awe of the creative process and how everyone approaches it differently.

When I think about the oh so many art forms out there (and I’m sure there are some I don’t know about) I’m overwhelmed by it all. That two people could see a sunset or perhaps a snowy lane and respond so differently. The scene could be painted or written about in numerous ways. You could choose to photograph it, weave a story of it, create a melody from the emotion it brings forth, cook something delicious based on a memory brought about by it. The possibilities are endless.

And when you think about it, can you really be surprised? With a Creator Who fashioned those sunsets. Who designed such creatures as jellyfish and moose and hummingbirds. Who created us in His very image (and how very different are we, even when just looking at us, not to mention adding in our personalities?).

I’m just so grateful that we have so many ways with which to praise Him and all He has done, created, promised.

I hope you have found at least one way to express your gratitude, friend. A way which you can bring glory and honor to our Maker Who so rightfully deserves it.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 18

Creation resounds with praise to the King.

Without voice, of His glories it sings.

Sky and wind and tree and brook,

They all partake in, they cannot forsake Him.

While we sleep, it does not rest.

The stars take up their unending quest

To bring praise and honor to the Lord.

While we think of ourselves great,

We are really quite small,

In comparison to this celestial ball

As it makes its way around the sun.

He made it all, so of Him it tells.

Let us sit, and listen a spell,

As creation sings praise to the King.

Love & Blessings,

KJ