30 Before 30?

So, my whole “30 before 30” list?  Not so much achieved.  I knocked 14 of them off, which is pretty pathetic if I’m being honest.  Although some of my goals changed, like I no longer want to go to graduate school, most of them were not achieved because of pure laziness.  That being said, I don’t actually regret not being able to tick most of them off of my list, except for the reading part.  I’d really like to read more, which is why I’m going to put reading a certain number of books on my new “40 before 40” list…. when I actually write it.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about turning 30.  I am occasionally  tempted to panic when I think about reaching this milestone, but overall, I’m pretty happy.  These, after all, are truly the best days of my life!  I have my babies in arms and my husband beside me.  I have a wonderful extended family and a job that is meaningful.  These are the days that I will miss when my children are grown.  These days.  These tough, seemingly never ending, often mundane days of raising babies and keeping house—these are the days that I will miss.

And so as wonderful as my 20s were—they brought marriage and two beautiful children, as well as a host of other blessings—I look forward to seeing what this decade brings.  One of the things that I hope for most is maturity and comfort in my own skin.  At thirty years old, I feel like I should know who I am and be secure in myself, but most of the time I’m not.  So I hope that one day, when I tell my children about the 30s, I can tell them about a journey toward acceptance of oneself and others.

Thirty

I’m 30 now!  We had a rather anticlimactic celebration as Andrew is currently preparing for his first trial, but since we had a pretty amazing party last year, I’m truly not upset.  It started off with my loves cooking me a special banana waffle breakfast, and then I had a girls’ morning with my sweet daughter.

J started preschool a few weeks ago, and I’ve been feeling like I just don’t get enough quality time with her, so I wanted to do something special with just the two of us.  So we went to our local library branch and read for a while.  It felt like she found every ballet/princess/pink themed book before we left.  I loved reading to her and seeing what stories she gravitated to.  It was so sweet to just sit with her with no distractions.  After we read we headed off to Panera for lunch.  We sat outside, per her request, and enjoyed the fresh air.

While the kids napped and Andrew worked in the afternoon, I watched Mockingjay: Part One (on loan from the library).  The rest of the day was pretty low key, and Andrew made me a yummy steak dinner.  I made good use of the new food processor my parents gave me for my birthday and made cauliflower rice. Yum! Once the kids were in bed, I watched Mockingjay: Part Two. On a side note, I’m still disappointed in the casting decisions for the franchise.

After church this morning, we went to one of my favorite restaurants before heading to my parents’ house for a quick swim.  And that was how I spent my birthday weekend!

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Also, please forgive my very limited photoshop/collage skills😉

We’re Still Here

It’s been awhile.  Life continues to be busy, and blogging hasn’t been much of a priority for me.  Which has been compounded by the recent world/local events that I just have not been able to fully process and am presently incapable of articulating my thoughts on them.  But we are still here and I continue to be so thankful for the beautiful babies that I get to call mine.

J turned three last month.  THREE!!  How did that happen?  This little girl who made me a mom, who shattered my perception of who I am and who continues to show me who I can be.  This precious three-year-old who fills my heart to overflowing.  Whose attention to detail and elephant-esque memory never cease to amaze me.  Three.

H turned one a few months ago.  I don’t know how that happened, either.  Wasn’t I just a gargantuan pregnant lady?  This year has been so fast, and yet, I cannot remember life before him.  This guy just lights up our world.  He is fun and funny, fast, happy, cuddly, adventurous, and very much boy.

Grieving Change

Today a new friend asked me how the transition to working outside of the home one day a week had been.  And it’s something  I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  So much changed when I became a parent, and one of those things was a choice to work less.  I was and am so thankful to have the option and it’s something that I don’t take for granted.

Until my daughter was born, so much of my identity revolved around my work.  I loved it.  I loved the babies, I loved connecting with families.  I loved (and still do) placing a baby in his or her mother’s arms for the first time.  It still takes my breath away.  But when I went down to two shifts a week, the opportunity to “primary” a baby practically disappeared.  Even when I did form a strong attachment to a baby or family, it was rare for me to be assigned to care for that baby regularly.  And that is something I grieved.  As difficult as it was to be away from my own baby, and as much as I wanted to be home with her, when I was at work, I still wanted to have the same work experiences that I had previously.  But I couldn’t.  And I had to grieve that.  I was choosing to give up something that I loved for someone I loved far greater, but I still felt the loss.

And now.  Now I work one shift a week.  And I am so thankful for that.  I’m thankful for a job that allows me that flexibility and that my husband wants to be at home with our kids.  I’m thankful for the “break” that it provides once a week and that I can interact with adults on a professional level.  I’m thankful that I do still get to interact with babies and families in a meaningful way, even if it’s not the same as it once was.  I am truly thankful.

But.  Working only one day a week has its pitfalls.  Enough new staff has been hired that I don’t know many of my coworkers anymore.  Recently I walked into work a different way than usual and I didn’t recognize a single night shift nurse.  And they didn’t recognize me.  It was like was the one that was new, instead of actually being one of the more senior nurses.  It was really humbling.  And frustrating.

Musings on Motherhood

Motherhood is hard.  Really, really hard.  Really sanctifying, stretching, and sacrificial.  (I totally did not plan on 3 “S’s”, must be my SBC upbringing. Ha!)

Ever since I was a child myself, I looked forward to the day when I would have my own children to nurture.  Or, more probably, boss around, because as the oldest child, that’s what I really loved doing.  But as I grew older, I really did desire to nurture and love my own children.  I prayed for them and (not so patiently) waited for them.  I read, and continue to read, books on pregnancy, birth, and how to be a good parent.  I thought that I was pretty prepared.  But I was so wrong.  Nothing, nothing can prepare you for the emotional highs and lows of parenting except for actually parenting.  I’ve realized that my view of motherhood was intensely romanticized and did not account for bone weary exhaustion, or just the desire to have five  minutes all to myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in love with my children and they are my greatest joys.  I am not complaining about these precious babies that I still can’t believe are mine.  I am simply saying that I had no clue what I was in for.  I had no clue how much I would love these little darlings.  I had no clue how full my heart would be.  I had no clue how terrified I would become of losing them, or hurting them, or messing up.

I had no clue how difficult it is to teach and model for a child a life lesson or truth that I haven’t mastered yet.  And I’ll give you an example.  Last night, Andrew and I got about 3 hours of sleep, or at least, that’s how it feels.  We’ve had a week of really awful nights that have made me consider reconsidering my views on sleep training, and we are just so tired.  But I have been trying to teach Jane that being tired is not an excuse for being mean to others, and in order to really teach it, I must live it as well.  So today, though it’s not over, I’ve had to choose not to allow things to get under my skin.  Fortunately, in His infinite mercy and grace, God saw fit to give us beautiful weather today, and a good chunk of time outside this morning has improved the spirits of all in our house.  I am not good at being kind when I’m tired.  Not at all, so a moment like I had this morning is a real victory for me as I try to teach my children how to love others.  But here’s the thing, they can’t even appreciate that I’m doing it!  And I know this is just one instance, a small one, but I also know that there will be many more like it, and many more surrounding a host of issues that I haven’t mastered.

My children are incredible.  Simply because they are children, and without doing anything but being children, they have started to peel  away sin and selfishness from my heart.  They are the mirror in which I can see just how unloving, cynical, proud, and stubborn I am.  They have forced me to face parts of myself that I cannot stand.  They have forced me to mature.  They have forced me to become a better person.  And for that, and so many, many more things, I thank God for these darlings.   And I beg that He would give us the courage and the grace to parent our children well.

Lately

P1140229Lately, our family of four has been continuing to evolve our normal.  Our kids are growing and changing daily, simultaneously exhausting and frustrating while filling our hearts and giving us such delight that I sometimes think I will burst.  As I wrestle one child or another to bed (usually H), I often wish that he would just go to sleep!  But as soon as his precious blue eyes close and his little body is limp in my arms, I wonder how I could ever be frustrated with this darling boy.

These children and my husband are such treasures.  In a world that is as scary as ours, I constantly hear or meet people whose spouse or children are either taken from them or are profoundly hurting, and it terrifies me.  I have never known such intense anxiety as I have known since becoming a parent.  That saying about having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body is absolutely true.  It is a constant struggle to remember that my family really belongs to the Lord, and all that I can do is love them well and leave the rest up to Him.  Much, much easier said than done.

P1130924The kids love each other so much, most of the time.  They each light up when they see the other, and now that H is full on crawling and can cruise around furniture, he is forever trying to play with anything J has, and vice versa.  It’s so precious to watch them together and I really hope they will be friends growing up, but I know that conflict will be aplenty, especially once H is able to retaliate when his sister does something not his liking.

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I cannot figure out why this picture won’t turn.

Life is not always rosy in our house; I am often frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and tired.  When the house is a mess and the kids are screaming and I just want some alone time, I am still so thankful for this beautiful life (and for a husband who will give me a reprieve and let me catch my breath before I go nuts!!).

Hiding in the Light

My dad gave me a copy of Rifqua Bary’s story, Hiding in the Light, last year, and I just now got around to reading it.  It’s the true story of Bary’s escape from her Ohio home at age 16 and the events leading and following her flight.

Bary was born into a very conservative Muslim family in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States as a young girl.  She suffered physical, sexual, and verbal abuse at the hands of her family, and at the age of 12 she met Jesus.  After her conversion, she managed to hide her new faith for four years, but when her father found out, he threatened to kill her.  It was then that Bary fled to Florida and found refuge in the home of new friends.  A dramatic and public court battle ensued which led to Bary returning to Ohio in foster care and finally ended when she turned 18.  And although the court battle has ended, Rifqua still lives in relative anonymity to protect her physical safety.

Hiding in the Light is a well written story  and a quick read (I finished it in one day… even with interruptions from little children!).  The author has an incredible testimony of faith in Christ and her’s is a story well worth reading.

I Am Malala

I debated whether or not to write this review, since lately I’ve only reviewed books through Blogging for Books, but in the end, I decided that this book and the message that it delivers is too important to not say anything about it.

I’d seen Malala Yousafzai make the rounds on late night talk shows and after hearing the tiniest bit about her, thought she was probably a cool kid, but didn’t look any further into her story.  Well, Andrew bought me her book I Am Malala for Christmas and I gobbled it up in about two days.  Though it isn’t the best narrative I’ve ever read (it’s choppy in some places and the way it is written can sound awkward to the Western ear), the story is so so good.

Malala is a Pakistani teen who was shot in the face by the Taliban for being vocal about children’s, and specifically, girls’  rights to education.  She tells of her childhood and the brave example that her father has been, championing education and being an advocate for girls in an extraordinarily conservative culture, and how it all led to the eventual attempt on her life and moving to England.

One of the tests of a good book, in my opinion, is how it challenges your thinking and causes self-reflection.  And after reading this, I thought about how courageous Malala is, though she is still so young.  She is still essentially a child, something highlighted by her squabbling with her brothers and friends, but her bravery is astounding.  And I couldn’t help but think that I am probably not as courageous as she.  Probably because the older we (I) get, the more we (I) realize we (I) have to lose.

In a country and season where there is a lot of fear mongering going on, this was a most refreshing read and gave a lot of food for thought.

Plumdog

I recently read Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark, a really sweet little book that is essentially the diary of an English dog.  It’s cute and lighthearded and a quick read, not to mention beautifully illustrated.  It is such a pretty book!  Plum is the main character and she actually has her own blog that is totally adorable.

This book would make a good stocking stuffer for any dog lovers you are buying for this Christmas!

I received this book for free as part of the Blogging for Books Program; all opinions are 100% mine.

Five Stars

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber is, hands down, the best book I have read in a very long time.  Bolz-Weber is the pastor of a Denver church called House for All Sinners and Saints, and quite the departure from any pastor I’ve ever heard/read.  She is a former stand up comedian, who is sarcastic and sometimes profane.  And, wow, she and this book were exactly what I needed.

I grew up in a tradition that preached about the danger of legalism, while still handing out a pretty long list of “dos and don’ts”.  So partly out of my natural desire to please those in authority, and partly because I love rules and order, I never really learned how to be a “good Christian” without being legalistic.  And I never ever learned to appreciate liturgy.  I thought it was only for Catholics and was devoid of real meaning.  But after reading this book, I think differently and can see some stunning beauty in it.

In Accidental Saints, Bolz-Weber tells a collection of stories centered around the parishoners she pastors and the outpouring of God’s great grace on herself and those she leads.  It’s fantastic.  There are so many excerpts that I’d like to post that it would border on copyright infringement.  Honestly, something in every chapter spoke to my heart.  And while I don’t agree with Pastor Bolz-Weber on every theological, political, or moral issue, I don’t have to.  I think that’s part of the beauty of her book.  We don’t have to look alike, or see eye to eye on everything to be able to learn from each other.

And so I give an enthusiastic five stars to Accidental Saints.  Go grab a copy.

I received this book for free as part of the Blogging for Books Program through WaterBrook Multnomah.  All opinions are 100% mine.