Googling & Talking to Yourself and other stuff I want to tell new & expecting mamas

I’m still a new mom. My son isn’t even half a year old yet so me writing to all the

<3

future new moms out there seems a little ridiculous, I’ll be the first to admit that. But at church on Sunday John and I had a friend ask us what it was like to be new parents – we told him the usual, “It’s hard but worth it etc.” but I really wanted to find his wife who was only a few months pregnant and sit down with her and share a few things. Maybe I feel compelled to share with you now because I’m not so far removed from it so I don’t really have the luxury of sugar-coating my experience thus far.

Isn't he TOTES ADORBS?! #hangry

Isn’t he TOTES ADORBS?! #hangry

I want to share with you (new mama and soon-to-be mama) some mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’m currently learning as a mom who is only a few small steps ahead of you. You could even say I’m just a few BABY STEPS ahead of you. Get it?! HA!  I need more sleep, I know. I KNOW.

1. Google with caution – Trust me on this. When your child gets his first cold, the internet will convince you it’s whooping cough and he’s in grave danger of hyperventilating. Even if he isn’t coughing – you’ll find yourself sort of gravitating towards the dramatic options because your brain is now attempting to  anticipate every need of your child. It’s exhausting. I still haven’t quite figured out how to control my “worst case scenario” reflex as a new mom. Lots of prayer (see point #3).
2. Create a “Mama Bullpen” – Bascially, your bullpen is full of other mamas who you know are going to shoot straight with you, who are for you as a mama (and as a human being of value, sometimes we forget we’re more than a butt-wiper at this stage), whose advice you can take without feeling judged, and can make you laugh when you feel like giving up. Make the bullpen a diverse one if you can – moms of littles and bigs, nursing moms and formula moms, cloth diaper moms, chicken nugget moms, organic moms, stay at home and work at home moms, just find them and put them on speed dial.
These are the moms you text during crisis. The moms you chat with or grab lunch with between naps because seeing them is life-giving and hearing from them reminds you that you aren’t crazy and you CAN do this. The bullpen idea came from some discipleship sermon John heard about creating a bullpen of mentors who could help you with various issues in life or something. I don’t know. I just love telling you to create a “Mama bullpen” because oh the imagery! Am I right? Go find your bull mamas. I would be lost without mine or out to pasture, as it were. HAHA! Ok I’ll stop.
Showing Samuel how to pray. OBVIOUSLY. #holymama

Showing Samuel how to pray. OBVIOUSLY. #holymama

3. Pray all the time – This sort of happens naturally because the moment you hear your child announce himself into the world you think, “Oh God. That’s mine. What am I doing?” If you have a personal relationship with God then it’s like starting the longest and greatest conversation with Him. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, let me just encourage you to think about it. The gospel of Jesus sets you free. It doesn’t mean you won’t screw up, just that when you do, you’ll have the Living God to hold onto and move forward with. It’s mind-blowing.

 
4. Monitor your inner dialogue – As a woman you know what I’m talking about when I say “inner dialogue.” It’s that never-ending conversation you have with yourself. Sometimes that conversation turns into imaginary conversations that you have out loud with your loofa or steering wheel, but either way, you’re talking to yourself. Listen to what you are telling yourself and be very very careful.
This is all new. ALL of it. This person that you’re holding in your arms with the squiggly eyes and chubby limbs (or gangly limbs if you’re my kid 😉 ) is brand new to the entire world. The world doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know the world. Guess who gets tasked with facilitating the long introduction between the two? That’s right, mama. You. It feels too big and too great for you to handle and it is. So you have GOT to remember to give yourself grace.
Let me just say that grace feels painfully absent in the middle of the night when you’ve slept 2 hours in the past 8 and your kid is crawling all over you crying about only God knows what (seriously). Your body and soul take a beating those first few months – acknowledge that. Being honest is the best avenue to really healing. Again, I’m still learning this. I have a lot to process from Samuel’s birth and am still processing this whole mothering thing.
But start that positive, moving-forward conversation with yourself. Here’s a glimpse into mine when Samuel was 2-3 weeks old, “This is unbelievable. He hasn’t slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Man. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Get out of bed and go get him, Rachel. He needs you. One foot in front of the other. Yep. You’re doing it. You’re getting it done. One foot in front of the other.” So it’s not the next Agatha Christie novel but you know what? It’s also not beating myself up and feeding lies.
Lies become more and more believable when we give them a platform to stand on in our minds. KNOCK ‘EM DOWN, SISTER. If the lies have grown so big that you can’t see past them — see point #2. Call on your bull mamas to help knock them down for you. Melt down, yell, cry – but let someone else know that you’re doing it.  Too many solo breakdowns can lead you to believe that you’re alone and nobody cares about how hard it is and how hard you’re working and trying and guessing and praying.
Case in point? Last week I called one of my bull mamas. She answered with, “Hey. Is everyone ok?” (she’s usually someone I text so a phone call is normally a sign of SOS/911 stuff) And I responded with, “No. I’m not.” and proceeded to sniffle and snort my way through my strange emotions with her. I got off the phone and felt like I wasn’t crazy. My heart didn’t feel as heavy and my life didn’t appear so impossible. But if I had continued to listen to the lies that I was worthless, ill-equipped, unloved, and isolated I wouldn’t be in a place to write this blog now would I?
There aren't enough words to describe my love for you, kid.

There aren’t enough words to describe my love for you, kid.

Moral of the story is, you aren’t supermom. You are your child’s mom. Your child needs you desperately – warts and all. You will mess up. You will slip and fall while caring for them both literally and figuratively if you’re lucky like me. You are perfect for this job. If nobody else is telling you – I will! And I hereby grant you the freedom to indulge yourself in truth, good people, prayer and caffeinated beverages. Never ever be afraid to ask for a caffeinated beverage.

Baby Dedication – A Tale of 30 minute naps, 30 second prayers, and choosing to laugh

This morning at church John and I dedicated Samuel Charles to the Lord. It’s an important step in our parenting journey – the moment where we publicly acknowledge before our church family that our hope for our son is intimacy with Christ and life lived fully on His mission.

And this morning was a hot mess.

It started with Samuel waking up happy and bubbly as can be. I fed him and played with him and all was normal and fine until I realized – nap time is exactly when we needed to be at the church, standing in front of a bunch of people and solemnly praying over our son. Uh-Oh.

If there’s one thing John and I are so grateful for, it’s that Samuel now has a routine. He is so much more predictable than before. Yes it could change. We KNOW. But for now it is such a life-saver. With that in mind – whenever this routine is meddled with be it a doctor’s appointment, errands, or a baby dedication, our little munchkin doesn’t easily “go with the flow.”

And so, as he rubbed his sleepy eyes and yawned his ginormo yawns, I packed him in the car seat while withering under his icy stares and fussy protests. “MOM. THIS IS NOT MY CRIB. WHY DO YOU HATE ME RIGHT NOW?!” It’s OK though because mom and dad had this awesome game plan involving strapping him onto mom during the service in the hopes that he would fall asleep and all would be well. La de dah. Bippidi- Boppidi- NOPE.

Now we’re in the church parking lot. He fell asleep during the 8 minute drive to church BECAUSE OF COURSE. John looked over at me, standing in the parking lot with the carrier strapped on then back at our sleeping son and said, “Ugh. I hate this.” I did too but I knew he wouldn’t last in that carseat more than 10 minutes and the idea of pulling him out of the carseat just to bring him in front of the congregation wailing like a drunken Pentecostal was just not cutting it for me. So we strap him in, he protests only a little but is now extremely awake and had the scowl to prove it.

Then, seconds later, mama slips and falls on a patch of leaves scattered on a slope of the parking lot. I fell backwards (thank GOD), caught myself before my butt could actually slam into the pavement and managed not to tweak or twist any joint or ligament. It was just as much a debacle as a miracle. The greeters at the door gasped as did the people walking into church. “HA!” I said. “Of course.” This isn’t the first time I’ve slipped and fell in public (HELLOOOO High School Senior Awards ceremony) and it probably won’t be the last.

I took T-Swift’s advice, I shook it off. I also gave Satan the middle finger because he always deserves it. Especially on Sunday mornings where I’m convinced he works overtime to rattle God’s people. I have many pastor and pastor wife friends who will back me up on this theory.

 

Uhhh. What are we supposed to pray over our son? #NAILINGIT

Uhhh. What are we supposed to pray over our son? #NAILINGIT

We make it into the service and find our seats. The dedication is one of the first things of the service yet Samuel is getting more and more determined to remind us that he is tired and we’re making him miss his nap and he’s not amused. Our pastor finally says, “The Lavoie family” and we hustle to the front while I shove a paci in Samuel’s mouth and pray a silent prayer of, “Get us through this with no wailing and/or pooping, amen.” A part of the dedication was the parents writing a small prayer to pray over their child. I had sent John the prayer in an email yesterday once we had it all put together. 10 seconds before going to the front of the room, I saw it on John’s phone screen — he was ready.

Then we get up to the front and John (who just

Oh, Samuel. If there's one thing we know how to do -- it's laugh at ourselves. You'll catch on quickly.

Oh, Samuel. If there’s one thing we know how to do — it’s laugh at ourselves. You’ll catch on quickly.

loves public speaking, by the way) looks down at his phone and the email is gone. There is no explanation. So I fumble my phone from my butt pocket, locate the prayer, hand my phone to John who then asks the congregation to “Pray FOR me” instead of “pray with me” — and John and I just couldn’t help but laugh at how that Freudian slip was so well-timed and accurate. In fact, everybody laughed — the parents loudest and longest. We’re riding this crazy train together after all- SOLIDARITY.

John did such an awesome job praying over our son. Despite it all, it was a sweet, solemn moment that I will always cherish. Well done, babe. And another middle finger for Satan.

The rest of the service was spent with me walking all around the church both outside and inside to get Samuel to fall asleep. He did. For 30 minutes. Then he woke up right as communion was being served so I snuck into a room to nurse him before bringing him out as the service ended.

At the end of it all, we stood before our church

My favorite men. <3

My favorite men. ❤

family with our son and said, “We are in this and we need you.” And we received a collective, “We’ve got your back.” It was good and right and done well. Also – get a load of John and Samuel’s matching outfits.  SO MUCH CUTE.

**Many people told John after the service that they loved the prayer for Samuel so I wanted to share it with you here. If you’re a parent, I hope it encourages and inspires you to love your children towards the saving grace of Jesus.**

“Father, we acknowledge that Samuel was yours before we heard his voice or felt his heartbeat or held him in our arms. We ask that you would quickly and completely captivate the heart of our son. Create in him a heart that seeks your face, a mind that delights in the things above and a body that serves and grows in strength and humility. We recognize that the establishment and endurance of a life of discipleship ultimately belongs to to you, the Author of our Salvation. He must choose you for himself and not just piggy back on our faith in you. We ask that you compel him with your irresistable grace and give us wisdom as his parents to nurture his curiosity, encourage him in his gifts and disicpline him in his waywardness. Thank you for the privilege it is to raise this child, give us the patience and perspective to do it all with great joy. Amen.”

 

 

Pregnancy, unfiltered.

I’ll be 37 weeks tomorrow – AKA FULL-TERM!! So close and yet so far from holding my dear son in my arms. So before the munchkin arrives I wanted to share a little about my own pregnancy journey in a no-nonsense, no instagram filters, kind-of-way. This is probably the longest post I’ve written. Read at your own leisure/risk etc.

Your intestines – Jumping right in, let’s talk about bowels. During the first trimester I swore my body forgot how to poop. All my intestines basically stopped what they had been doing for the past 26 years to just stare at this new little lima bean growing in my womb while my digested meals were like, “Uhh. Guys? Are we just supposed to wait here?” Two words for you ladies: Stool. Softener. This became my first (of many) unglamorous companions of pregnancy. It was the friend I didn’t want other people to know I was friends with but secretly we had the best of times. Thank you docusate sodium, you were/are a game-changer.

Also? Heartburn. It happens. Especially in the third trimester. TUM TA TUM TUM TUUUMMS! But wait! There’s more! Gas. You thought it was bad when you ate that questionable Tex-Mex? Giiiirl. Just wait til you have a BIG BIG appetite and a SQUISHED SQUISHED intestinal tract. Every meal you ever eat will somehow manage to leave it’s mark on the environment around you. If human beings farted confetti, let’s just say pregnant women would be leading the parade. Just let your man know now — it’s gonna be death con 5 in the third trimester. And from what I’m told, it may never get better. So… who’s ready to snuggle?!

Your brain – Say goodbye to complete sentences and embrace the awkward pauses that will now plague almost every conversation you have (including those you have with yourself). To-do lists are a cute idea but if you’re like me, they just get lost with everything else, and the ones on my phone are no exception. One day I checked my phone and I literally clicked accidentally on a to-do list. And then as I read this list I felt increasingly useless and inadequate and incompetent as a mother-to-be and cried into my chocolate milk. Which leads me to the next thing.

Your hormones – Every woman experiences these suckers in a different way. I’d like to think I was pretty, you know, “low key” when it came to crazy emotional outbursts. But then John snarfed on the water he was drinking when I mentioned that perspective and I now realize I may have been a little more.. ahem..  unpredictable than I had imagined. *Note: The only time it’s OK to talk a pregnant woman out of a hormonal situation is when she’s convincing herself of what a terrible mom she’s gonna be/what a disaster this is etc. That’s no bueno. But if she just wants to rant for 5 minutes about how stupid bees are or needs to show you half a dozen hallmark commercials while sniffling into your shoulder.. just let it be.

#sexyandiknowit #cankles

#sexyandiknowit #cankles

Your extremities – This last trimester, I’ve convinced myself that my body is allergic to walking, thinking, breathing, existing anywhere that is not air-conditioned. When I walk for any amount of time in the heat, it’s like my hands and feet are all like, “Oh. So THIS is how you’re gonna be huh? THIS is how it’s goin’ down? Yeah. Ok. You can kiss your size 10 shoes GOODBYE. And I hope you weren’t planning on handling anything like a pen or your car keys because all of your fingers gonna be the size of a roll of quarters mmmk?”  So, hello cankles. Apparently you’re a real thing.

You can't see it very well but this is me sporting my new bedtime companion! We tried a variety of brands and sizes. I still snore.

You can’t see it very well but this is me sporting my new bedtime companion! We tried a variety of brands and sizes. I still snore.

Your sinuses – Ugh. This one was a real blow for me, ladies. Before becoming pregnant I had already woken up my husband more times than I could count with my snoring. And he um… he already wore earplugs to bed before we got married. (God is sovereign). Things got bad in the second trimester in terms of just how often I was waking him up in the middle of the night. I joked that I was preparing him for life with a newborn! He wasn’t buying it. And so enters, unglamorous pregnancy companion #2 – Breathe right strips. I had tried these in the past but not with much success. Still, I was desperate and I wanted to make it look like I was at least trying to silence the grizzly bear within. They helped a little bit. I still wear them to bed but I think they may only be operating as a placebo effect. John sees it on the bridge of my nose before falling asleep and thinks, “Well. Something is better than nothing.”

Your wardrobe – Let’s just say the number of maternity undergarments that inspire you to “be the best, sexiest you” based on their flirtatious patterns and designs are just… nowhere. Am I grateful for those who have thought about the comfort of the mama-to-be by creating underwear the size of circus tents? Yes. Very grateful. But I’d have to say that maternity underwear is my unglamorous companion #3. Do the words “granny panties” mean anything to you? They mean EVERYTHING to me right now.

DSC02471Your body image – Being pregnant has legitimately challenged my self-esteem when I look in the mirror. The truth is, you gain weight when you’re pregnant! It’s healthy and normal and good for the baby. But maybe when people say you look great, you acknowledge it with a smile but then run away from iPhone cameras and selfies and embrace taking pictures of anything else. Ladies — I feel you on this.  I weigh the most right now that I have ever weighed in my entire life. And even though it’s “normal” and “good” it’s also been hard and embarrassing. And it’s revealed to me how much it matters to me what I look like. Vanity is sneaky that way.

 

I’m still a work-in-progress on this one. I have resolved to step in front of the camera, to celebrate this season, and to drown out lies about unrealistic body image with the truth and wonder of being a vessel for new life. It helps when you have a husband who is so excited about your growing belly, too. And it always helps to laugh when you find yourself squatting to reach for something (unsuccessfully) or grunting like an old curmudgeon every time you get into and out of a chair. C’est la pregnancy! I bet my baby won’t give one thought to what I look like. He’s just gonna want to be taken care of and loved on like every child in this world. And I can confidently tell you, as I look into the mirror and smile at my reflection, that I am the BEST woman for that job.

So, as a recap – pregnancy upsets and shakes up and messes with you and your body. And pregnancy is a miracle. A big, granny-panty-wearing, stool-softening, cankle-forming, snoring, farting wonder. I raise my bottle of water fast-food cup of Coke to you, fellow mamas-to-be out there. In solidarity we shall waddle to the finish line and celebrate the tiny little munchkins that will set us on yet another journey: To motherhood! To stool softener! To YOU.

To the man who puts up with all of it. I love you!

To the man who has put up with this whole journey and reminds me of how much he loves me and is excited about our son – I LOVE YOU. Thanks for loving me in every season.

The Unexpected Plan A

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First time in my life that my feet have the appearance of being dainty. Is what I’m telling myself. #positivethinking

I’m 33 weeks pregnant. While I always wanted to start a family and have kids etc, the idea that I have a tiny human being growing inside of me still manages to take my breath away (literally and figuratively).

Before I got pregnant, I would always joke with friends and family about how quickly I would run to the anesthesiologist during labor and ask for an epidural before my cervix even had a chance to dilate. I know myself and I know that pain is not something I like to endure. I don’t have a military mentality about gritting my teeth and getting through it. “Hoo RAH!” Not so much.

I have very close friends, including sisters, who have given birth taking every imaginable course. Whether an emergency C-section, scheduled C-section, home birth, natural birth in a hospital, hospital birth with medication assistance – I’ve been around the mommy block when it comes to labor stories and opinions. I knew from the moment I looked at the two separate pregnancy tests both displaying two pink lines smiling up at me, that I was in for a wild ride.

In many ways I have had a stereotypical pregnancy and in some ways I haven’t. Spoiler alert: this is true of every pregnant woman and every pregnancy ever to have occurred in the history of mankind. Every woman’s body is different and so is every baby. I didn’t get morning sickness except for a little queasiness here and there. I know that means I have just placed myself firmly in the “Enemy camp” of many of my readers who spent 12 weeks hugging the toilet. I have no words for you apart from, “I’m so sorry. Can I bring you some ginger ale?”

I’ve had the occasional craving (FETTUCCINE ALFREDO AND CALZONES, PEOPLE). I’m convinced our son will come out saying, “’Ey Ma-MA! Wheresa mah fetttuccine?!” There’s not a drop of Italian blood in my body so I’m not quite sure what to make of this.

The one thing that has proven to be quite the opposite of what I had envisioned for myself is my birth plan. The once snarky, “HIT ME UP WITH THE MEDS, DOC!” girl has been replaced with the wobbly but determined resolution of, “I want to try to have my baby naturally. Plan A is no epidural, but I’m not dismissing Plan B entirely.” This decision has befuddled me to no end. My dear husband has been supportive (although the bill for my Doula/Labor coach about made him choke, bless him) and my family and friends have been all kinds of happy and excited for me.

I know that as long as my son makes it out safely, I’m gonna be so overwhelmed/exhausted/weepy/hungry it really won’t matter how he got there yet it will totally matter that he was given to me and John and we will do our darndest to love him to pieces the widdle wumblyrumpkin bubbabottom! I am SO excited about the nicknames too, you guys. I LOVE RIDICULOUS NICKNAMES. John and our dear cat Clara have been the main recipients but to have a little being who will be too little to understand and too tiny to run away from all of my gushy shenanigans is going to be a dream come true on so many levels.

In conclusion, as an outsider looking into the world of being pregnant, I was SO sure of one thing – getting an epidural. It was like the no-brainer of all no-brainers. The fact that as I have asked and discussed and prayed about what to do when my turn came to pay the pregnancy piper (oh man. weird visual. But I’m just gonna leave it there anyway) and I found myself leaning towards at least giving the natural route a shot… it’s flabbergasting.

I’m strangely at peace about it and, as with all of life, I’m holding it with open hands. Babies get to decide when and how they arrive so I may end up cradling my precious son after a C-section or after being induced or who knows what else. I thank God that I’m not the first person to ever do this. As I wait in the wings of my last few weeks of pregnancy, full of anxiety and expectation and terror and joy… I hold my unexpected plan A in one hand, and the hand of my sovereign God in the other.

7 weeks to go, y’all.

Wanna go get some Italian food? Perfect. ME TOO.

Any House A Home – A Lesson in What Matters

We moved about a week ago and we love our new place. It’s simple, beautiful, manageable and we have all the honeymoon-feels about it. Until the water heater broke two days after we moved in (but I digress). Before we started the process of looking for a place to buy, we came up with a motto that we’ve had to remind ourselves of during these past days of living in an unpacked, somewhat hazardous environment: We can make any house a home.

It's whatever, couch.

It’s whatever.

I’m going to paint the current status of our home for you — we don’t have any seating in our living room. Nada. The brown fluffy monstrosity from our other place simply refused to enter despite the men’s brave efforts so it took a long walk off a short cliff (or stairwell, as it were). RIP brown couch. Recently, John was able to make the second bedroom (affectionately nicknamed the dungeon) an actual livable space where we could navigate around without tripping over a chest of drawers, pillows, or a craft cart the size of a small child (whose IS that by the way? geez!). Yet our closets are still a disaster, brimming with things that are in all the wrong places.

The dungeon.

The dungeon. Pre-John’s ninja unpacking skills.

Sigh. Let me explain to you where my strengths lie when it comes to the unpacking process, ok? — THE FUN STUFF. By fun stuff I mean the pictures and knick knacks and fluffy feel-good things that go on the walls and shelves. This is also known as – THE LAST THINGS WE WILL UNPACK. I’m not sure if this is a strength of mine or really just something I’d rather be doing. Like dessert. Dessert is a HUGE strength of mine. I could dessert all day every day. Same way I feel about decorating the walls.

An interesting caveat to unpacking all the fun things this time around is I know I won’t be decorating with all of the picture frames I had used in our previous home. The reason is because in general, John’s mind is just more organized than mine (understatement of the year) and he’s requesting more open and clean space on the walls. Looking at the walls now, I have to admit — it does feel more sterile boring open with less stuff on them. Yet my decorating style is like walking by a wall resembling an advertisement for Hobby Lobby that is displaying every cute picture frame and wall accessory it’s ever sold… ever. On one wall.

Let me clarify – John has always graciously and lovingly encouraged me in my home-making skills. He tells me how much he loves coming home and how relaxing it is etc. So don’t get it all wrong when I tell you our decorating styles are not always simpatico. It’s totally hereditary. My mom decorates beautifully and bountifully and I picked up her gusto for knick-knackery. My mother-in-law decorates beautifully and minimally which is also sweet, and inviting.

John and I grew up in different worlds and now that we actually own a place for the first time, we’ll inevitably need to compromise on stuff. Despite our best efforts, compromise quickly translates into frequent grumbles, snorts, huffs, deep sighs, and apologies because we’re imperfect people with a measurable amount of patience and grace and we both so desperately want to have this place all put together.

My favorite person. :)

🙂

Yet at the end of the day, it’s not about pictures on the wall or where we put the couch, or what kind of rug we buy. It’s about who I’m making a home with. I want to do life with him. For all of the ways he challenges me and aggravates me, and all the ways I annoy him and snarl at him, this house won’t mean a thing if we don’t agree to keep loving and liking each other.

I’m guessing the wall decor process is going to happen sometime early in the New Year so my first New Years Resolution is to let the little things go. I’m not abandoning my opinion all together, make no mistake! But I’m willing to make it work because it’s dumb to get our panties in a wad about picture frames when we could be snuggling on our imaginary couch instead. 🙂

We like being homeowners, but we love being married. No amount of picture frames or knick knacks (or lack thereof) are going to shift those priorities. When we make a home we wanna make it right – built on love, decorated in compromise, and enjoyed by all who enter it. 

Any house a home, y’all. That’s how we roll.

 

Of floss and roses

FB DeleteA lot has probably happened in the past 10 days. I bet people got married, had babies, moved to new cities, dressed up for Halloween, went on vacations or business trips, ate a bunch of food and drank a bunch of Starbucks. I bet that happened. But I didn’t witness any of it.

I’ve been off of Facebook and Instagram for the past 10 days in the hopes that I could create some kind of healthy boundaries with my Social Media usage.

10 days into this little hiatus has taught me a lot. The first day was particularly hard because it began the process of breaking me from being a CPC (compulsive phone checker). It was bad, guys. Every 20 seconds I’d mindlessly punch in my passcode and click on apps that I had browsed through LESS THAN A MINUTE AGO.

Related: I don’t get a lot of email.

As the days wore on though, I started picking up on things I had missed during the hours I spent glued to my phone screen.

1. “Nothing” Moments – These are the repetitive shenanigans of your every day that I suspect will shape you more than all the special occasions combined. Like the last few minutes of my bedtime routine. I just love puttering around and chatting about nothing with John while we floss (just another example of how he’s more of a grown-up than I am. I remember him pulling out the box of floss ON OUR HONEYMOON and I tried to act like that was totally a thing I did all the time too, OBVIOUSLY. Til my gums started hemorrhaging). I like running up and down the hall dangling a string behind me and chuckling as my cat transforms from a lethargic pillow to a raging string-killing machine. I just like 9:30pm.

2. “Enough” Moments – These came to me more readily than ever before when I stopped compulsively checking Social Media. I began to appreciate all the things I had. The people in my community and the clothes on my back and the food in my belly. It was so easy for it to be enough when I wasn’t holding up my number of ‘likes’ for that status or photo to someone else’s. I really struggled sometimes to disentangle my self- worth from the impact of my words. That doesn’t mean I’m never going to write another funny Facebook status (you can’t stop me), I just need to learn to not  fret over it and wonder-what-people-think over it. When I was plugged into a lifestyle that was constantly (remember that every 20 seconds thing?) measuring up my own life with someone else’s, it was exhausting, frustrating, and discouraging. There’s a difference between having a genuine interest in another person’s life and having a genuine interest in what they think about yours. 

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More happy companions from my rose-smelling adventure.

3. “Humanity” moments – I like the way a dad plays with his infant son on the swing set. I like how awkward middle schoolers are when they do… everything, I like the way an older woman carries herself as her gray hair shimmers on her morning walk — she’s seen a lot, but she still smiles at the young 20-something who just jogged by. I like people. I lost sight of the breathing, moving, foot-stepping, high-fiving world around me. So when I went for a walk on the weekend, I literally stopped to smell some beautiful roses. I just stopped, shoved my nose into someone else’s private-property shrubbery and took a big WHIFF. I remembered that there is no substitute for the life that is happening all around me.

I still love Social Media and have every intention to reintroduce it back into my life. I know and have experienced unexpected and wonderful connections through it and truly love sharing my life with people.But this time it will come with limits and boundaries.

I’ve become quite fond of like a protective mama bear about my flossing and rose-smelling moments. This is the stuff I want to gather into my memory and tell my kids about. This is my silly, small, blessed corner of the universe.

If you’re struggling with discontentment, you might be like how I was — constantly checking your phone to make sure your image is in tact. Maybe you feel like your life is unmanageable or is racing ahead of you faster than you want it to. I don’t know what your dealing with right now but maybe it’s time to unplug for a bit. To stop and remember that you were put here on purpose and it was for more than just managing your online life.

Smell the roses, reader. You won’t regret it.*

*unless you’re allergic to pollen or other plant-dust things, in which case keep this exhortation metaphorical

Picking the right Fortress

Define: IMPENETRABLE (see picture)

Define: IMPENETRABLE TORNADO FORTRESS (please see picture above)

Last night we were under a tornado watch, then warning, then watch again, then “only” severe thunderstorms warning.

Let’s get one thing straight: I loathe thunderstorms. So to all of you psycho, lets-go-sit-out-on-the-porch-beneath-a-tin-roof-and-watch-the-lightning-set-the-field-on-fire folks: No, I don’t think it’s inspiring or refreshing or exhilarating. I think it’s terrifying. So don’t come crying to me when I’m safely nestled in the farthest corner of my closet, covered in couch cushions and surrounded by water bottles and you’re getting electrocuted or swept away or whatever else happens to you ridiculous people. Common sense. Go ahead and get some — then MAYBE I’ll let you into my impenetrable tornado fortress… maybe.

I know and love many of those psychos, I’m just not one of them. I’m psycho in other ways — like spending 3 hours re-arranging one page of my scrapbook and considering it an accomplishment when I’ve decided on my “layout.” I know. RISKY. And I don’t even wear a helmet.

But I digress.

This is John’s response to all of the hullabaloo last night: “Hey. Make sure you’re charging your phone in case we lose power OK?” He says as he sits calmly at his desk in the living room and I’m sitting on the toilet seat ready to jump into the bathtub. Then he took one look at my bathtub fortress and the damage was done. The rest of the night was filled with relentless terrorizing.

John: “Do you hear that wind?”

Me: “WHAT?!” *then realizing he’s referring to our A/C kicking on, decide to give him a few wallops with my pillow as he evilly snickers*

Etc.

But in that moment I realized just how thankful I was to be married to a man who was steady, equipped with a cruel great sense of humor, and calmly resting on the God who carries us through every minute of every day. For some reason I find it less difficult to trust God with our future, our goals, our dreams, and other big unknowns and more difficult to trust Him in the moment. John was so calm during the tornado warning because he strives to be faithful to God day-in, day-out, moment-by-moment.

The faithful become the faith-filled.

And I want that kind of faith. The faith that proclaims, “A Mighty Fortress is our God!” and hammers into life with gusto come tornadoes, or unemployment, or loss, or any manner of trial or disaster.

So while it may wound my pride to say it: I think he chose the better fortress last night. And I’m glad he left the door open so I could come inside.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2