Walking with Jesus – through my refrigerator

 I’ve been walking with Jesus through this life since the tender age of 7. Twenty years you guys. 20 years of his companionship, guidance, discipline and joy! And yet every year – sometimes every minute – I am learning and surrendering all over again. It’s amazing what happens when you take the truth of God’s word and hold it up against the subtle habits of your life.
May we never ever get it set in our heads that we have arrived. That we have learned all we need to learn or have grown into or deepest intimacy with Him. It’s simply not true. There is always more of Him than there are minutes in our lifetime. The real question is – will you find Him in those minutes?

Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both… All things are lawful, but not all things EDIFY. – 1 Corinthians 6:13 & 10:23

I wrote this little note this morning and placed it on my kitchen counter because I am re-evaluating my relationship with food. Something so simple and ordinary yet crucial to my life. It’s a relationship in which I have begun to adopt unsavory habits, in which I have begun to place food on some kind of comfort pedestal in my heart. I have not done the hard work of truly examining what I eat and why because I know, at the root, there is a restless mistrust of God’s goodness and an incredible ability to justify my sin into oblivion.

I’m just beginning the work of taking a long, hard and honest look into my pantry and fridge and figuring out what it might be telling me about my heart and my mind. They’re so connected you know? Thankfully, I have not reached a point where I am truly depriving my body intentionally or obsessing over a particluar size or image that causes me to binge. If this is you – please please talk to somebody about it. Oh what a hard spiral you are in – but you CAN be free from it!
For me? I’m addressing my apathy towards what I put in my body – “So what if this has stuff in it that isn’t actually food? So what if I’ve only got one life to live and one body to live in? Whatever. I have a high metabolism so I don’t have to “worry” about that stuff.” Not OK. Not a healthy attitude towards the blessing and nourishment that food is meant to be for me and my family.
So I’m asking myself: What is my relationship with food like? Is it healthy? Do I have auto-pilot habits and reflexes that need to be re-claimed and re-trained? (Answer: YES) — this little picture frame on my kitchen will sit as a reminder that God can use anything and everything to edify (to build up and encourage) His children. That He has given me food for my body but ultimately He has given me Himself to enjoy and find soul-pleasuring sustenance in – for my whole eternity.

I’m figuring out what all of this looks like and while it’s awkward for me to share and it will probably make me feel even more insecure when I let the whole freaking Internet world know about it – I want to be an encouragement to that one other person on the other side of the screen who is thinking about this too.

Momma's motivation <3

Momma’s motivation ❤

All I know is – I want to treat my body with care, raise my kids on food that will nourish and energize, and never ever eliminate the joys of ice cream and peach pie from my life because God gave me 10,000 tastebuds and I ain’t wasting a-one of ’em.

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In a moment

IMG_0162I emptied the dishwasher this morning. It was the first time I pulled your brightly-colored spoons from the silverware tray and I just paused and smiled when I thought about all of your banana shenanigans. Face-onesie-bib-bumbo-mom – all things that ended up smudged with banana goop. Ahh but your toothless grin as you smack your gums and grunt for more. In a moment you’ll be holding a grown-up fork shoveling in spaghetti or chicken or other foods that you have no concept of right now. You’ll be asking for permission to leave the table (hopefully you’ll have manners!) and you’ll run off to play outside or ride your bike with friends and I won’t have to wipe your face or smush your sticky fingers between the jaws of my wet paper towel before you go. In a moment, kid. Just like that.

I puttered around the house as you napped and picked up the green hoodie sweatshirtIMG_0168 we bundled you in on our walk this weekend. I stared at it as I stood in the middle of our living room. Where should I put this? Where does it belong? It doesn’t make sense to place it folded into the drawer next to the footie pajamas you’ve already poked toe holes through. We put it on you a lot nowadays, might as well hang it up next to our coats by the door. I casually walked over and hung it on a hook before stepping back and seeing it there for the first time. In a moment, you’ll be grabbing your athletic sweatshirt hanging up in your closet and take your dad’s 20 year old civic to a nearby park for some pick-up football with your bros. I won’t need to be there to wrangle your limbs into the arm holes. You won’t need me to fight the zipper or remind you to look both ways. In a moment, buddy. I will have endured (and often encouraged) your independence from me. I will applaud your successful shoe-tying. I will rejoice in the day you get accepted into college. I will trust you with a curfew and wait as the sleepy minutes tick by until the door creaks open and you fall asleep in your teen boy-smelly room.
IMG_0151So in this moment I’m gonna scoop you up and place you on my hip. I’m going to play peek-a-boo with you a thousand times til I think you may have giggled yourself to oblivion. I’m going to choose to laugh as you roll onto your tummy, bare baby buns in the air as I try to put on your diaper. In a moment, my love. This will all be over.
We are not guaranteed any tomorrow moments you know? But if God wills, we are running into years of moments that will stay safely tucked into their places in time.  We will feel and learn new things about each other. We will relate differently. I will lose my temper, you may call me names. There will be ugly moments, I’m sure of that. I was a teenager once too and I mastered that eye roll. Don’t test me.
But most importantly? More than colorful spoons and midnight curfew moments I want you to know — in every new chapter there will never be a moment where I ever stopped loving you so deeply, so imperfectly yet so wholly. In every moment you are covered in my prayers, wrapped in my very skin, loved to your very core. Never think otherwise, my sweet boy – not even for a moment.

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.”

 

 

On sleep training and trailblazing

Sleep training is for the birds, y’all. It just is. And parenting is ridiculous. The terrifying realization that you will be training this tiny human in one way shape or form or another, until they spread their wings and sleep through the night  leave the house (whichever comes first I guess); this is just a mind-boggling reality. Once they learn how to self-soothe they still need to learn how to use a potty, handle a fork, read, write, speak, listen, respect, share, give, forgive, ask for forgiveness, put on pants, solve algebra problems, look both ways before crossing the street.. I mean, really. The list is endless.

When you become a parent, you become a teacher. But instead of the predictable rhythms of arithmetic or the hard and fast rules of grammar and punctuation, you’re teaching them about life. You know? That thing you’ve screwed up in a million times? You have to teach someone else how to navigate it. And it starts with how to fall asleep and it ends with never. It doesn’t end. And if that’s not the most intimidating task on the planet, I don’t know what is.

IMG_7018

This is the face of a baby who fought sleep all day long but will sleep like an angel when you place him in a carrier at 5 o’ clock just so you can make dinner. The little stinkbutt.

For the majority of the day now my darling son wails in his crib like he’s under attack. I know he’s fed, his diaper is clean and that in his heart of hearts he just wants me to pick him up and play. I can’t blame him for this. I’m a pretty fun person to play with lets just be real. But naps have to happen and sleep during the night has to happen or mommy may end up running out of the house screaming like a banshee never to return. So we do what we do to survive and in the meantime there are many tears and pulling out of hair and quiet murmurings in the corner of “I’m not the bad guy. I’m not the bad guy. This is good for him. Long term goals. Long term. LONG TERM *@^#(&% GOALS!!”

So. Who wants to hang out at the Lavoie house? We are having ALL the fun over here.

In all seriousness, I think the most difficult part of being a parent has been the staggering reality that John and I have no idea what we’re doing. Truly. We are tasked with raising a human and our preparation has been exactly zero. Last night while nursing Samuel I considered how parenting feels a whole lot like trail blazing. Only, instead of bravely marching “where no man has gone before!”with confidence and fervor, we are just stumbling around the jungle with dull machetes, lopping off vines and tall grasses and hoping we don’t harm ourselves or anybody else in the process. It ain’t always instagrammable lemme just say.

With the first kid it is all so painfully and wonderfully NEW. Every thing is new. Every. Single. Thing.

Consecutive children are a little less unnavigable (or so I’m told) although they do come with their own unique challenges. But still. At least with consecutive kiddos you don’t find yourself wrestling with the car seat for 15 minutes in the YMCA parking lot while people walk by and try not to stare; or you don’t push your stroller around with the front wheels locked for hours on end and just assume you’re supposed to feel this much resistance while strolling around because everything else has been ten times harder than you imagined so of course strollers will be this difficult, right? These are all hypothetical “for examples” of course. Who would actually do that stroller thing? EMBARRASSING.

Hi Mom! Aren't I adorable? :)

Hi Mom! Aren’t I adorable? 🙂

The craziest thing about being a parent so far has been how, after all of this work and tears and wondering and second guessing and doubting, I just love my little bug more than anything in the world. When he smiles it’s like POOF! mom’s a puddle of warm fuzzies. I just want time to stop for a second so I can never ever ever forget it. His eyes light up with mischief and he starts to giggle and coo when he sees me and I can’t handle it. It’s too much. Being a mom requires so much from me but God, in his grace, gives baby smiles and minutes shared between just the two of us that fly straight from the moment into the deepest, sweetest spaces in my heart. I’m told I’ll forget all of the sleeplessness and tears in a few months (glory hallelujah!) but I am determined to keep the smiles.

If you have or currently are sleep training or potty training or basically just being a parent who is involved in your child’s upbringing — I salute you! We’re in this together. May we pick up our machetes and keep on keepin’ on! We are trailblazers for the next generation even as they poop on us or fight sleep like it’s the plague.

It’s whatever, kiddos. We’re here for the long haul and it’s bound to get messy but we’re gonna love you til it hurts and that’s a promise both of us can count on.

Sometimes: Confessions from the first 6 weeks

6 weeks into being a mom. It’s time to get a few confessions off my chest. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can judge. The only thing I’m certain of is this “confessional” will get longer as Samuel gets older.

Here we go y’all:

Sometimes when I’m “shushing” Samuel I’m really just doing it to occupy my mouth and distract it from screaming in frustration or from saying the not-so-nice words that are bouncing in my brain as he claws and screams and cries a few inches from my face.

thumb_IMG_6761_1024Sometimes I set my child down in his crib and walk away from him for a few minutes to collect my composure and take a few deep breaths after trying (unsuccessfully) to get him to sleep for an hour.

Sometimes I’m not smart enough to take deep breaths so I end up sobbing over the crib and begging this tiny human being to “please please please for the love of God fall asleep.”

Sometimes (OK every time) I giggle when I hear John’s commentary on the size of one of Samuel’s poops or when Samuel spits up on him. Nothing like being married to a fastidious person to make parenting that much more entertaining.

Sometimes I choose to listen to my bitter flesh and I seethe and grumble about my husband sleeping at night while I’m awake with Samuel.

thumb_IMG_6476_1024Sometimes I sneak a moment of daddy-son time after John comes home from a long 10 hour day at work and I swallow back tears of gratitude because there is no better man for this job. I’m certain of it.

Sometimes my son makes me laugh so much and love so hard I think my heart is going to explode from joy.

Sometimes I have a beer even though I’m nursing.

Sometimes he’ll turn his head when he hears my voice as I enter the room and it makes me feel like the most important person in the world.

Sometimes I’ll scoop him up and chat with him while he’s awake and tell him about my day or about the squirrels scampering outside our window.

Sometimes I leave him propped up in the boppy or swinging in a swing while he’s awake and alert and I keep working even though his sweet little eyes are open.

thumb_IMG_6661_1024Sometimes my first thought when I hear him waking up is, “Oh s^@%.” instead of, “Mom to the rescue, buddy! You are such a GIFT!”

Sometimes I pray over my son with eloquence and passion and sincerity. Dreaming of who God has made him to be and delighting in the idea that I get to see his life unfold in front of me.

Sometimes I can only pray, “Help.” or “Forgive me.”

Sometimes I leave myself no margins. I am walled in by my own expectations and standards and am left pacing inside of them, constantly disappointed in myself.

Sometimes I wake up determined to show grace and I feel like a super mom the whole day. Just totally nailing it with the diaper changing, feeding, working rhythm.

Sometimes I wake up determined to show grace and then proceed to bungle every opportunity I’m given. Every dirty diaper is taken personally and at the end of the day I’ve convinced myself for the umpteenth time that I can’t do this.

Sometimes I resent my husband for having a life that takes him outside the walls of our home several days a week.

Sometimes I stop in the middle of my day and give thanks for my hard-working, hands-on, hilarious husband who is an incredible source of support and encouragement to me.

thumb_IMG_6626_1024Sometimes I wonder if it’s all actually worth it because I miss having stability and structure in my day. And dairy. I miss dairy. (this is only day 3 of dairy-free, by the way. So far I only daydream about cheese every 20 minutes or so.)

Sometimes I stay awake and watch my son sleep in his crib even though I know I should be sleeping because I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be his mom and I know that one day he’ll want his independence more than he’ll want my presence and I’m gonna have to let him go.

 

 

New Mom Life: An Update From the Trenches

Well, let’s be honest. I’ve never been a consistent blogger since I began this endeavor over 5 years ago. BUT! From now on I will shamelessly abuse the “new mom” card and my son will absorb all the blame for his mother’s lack of discipline. I carried him around for 9 months, birthed him, etc etc.. so this is a small favor on his part.

Our little prince. :)

Our happy little prince. 🙂

Life as a new mom is now just life as I know it. On a personal level I feel like my emotions have been tossed in a blender on an almost hourly basis. This has improved (thankfully!) but the first two weeks I was certain I couldn’t look at my child without tearing up and swallowing a lump in my throat to keep from uncontrollable sobbing. Which  would still happen anyway. On several occasions John would come home and find me sniveling all over our precious son while he slept next to me. He stopped asking, “What’s wrong?” and just patiently listened to me tell him how much I love our son or how undeserved a gift he is or thinking of all the children in the world who don’t have anyone who feels this way about them or whatever thought left me in such shambles.

I’ve encountered new physical limits in myself during this period too. Before Samuel entered the picture, I was utterly convinced that I would not be able to function like a normal human being on less than 8 hours of sleep. I was dumbfounded when I thought of how other moms had done it — little to no sleep at night? What the? NO. That can’t happen.

And then Samuel arrived and VOILA! Up at all hours of the night, surviving on 4 hours combined of sleep that was acquired between about 2,038 nighttime feedings/fussy periods (also – I’ve earned the right to exaggerate when it comes to what happens in the night. If I say he wailed like the last samurai hollering his final battle cry for FOREVER… it happened. End of story.)

Weirdly enough, the NOT working out has been pretty taxing on me too. Yesterday John and I toured our local YMCA (healthy living with built-in childcare for the WIN!) and when I saw the empty group exercise rooms I felt the niggling desire to just straight up bust a MOVE across the floor. Everyone say a prayer for my Zumba teacher — she has no idea what’s about to walk into her classroom in a few weeks. Anyways — not being able to lift a certain amount or being able to run or dance has been eating away at me and I am looking forward to the day where I can get back out there and reclaim my strength and endurance.

In addition to pushing myself harder than I thought possible in terms of physical strain, I have also learned how desperately I need other people to not lose my mind. Not just for the newborn stage of life either. I’m an extrovert who occasionally enjoys alone time but for the most part I need people. And I’m not just talking about needing people to bring food and change diapers and rock babies (though that has been SUCH a blessing). I need conversation and insight and relationship and laughing til I cry and words prayed over and for and from me. When John went back to work during Samuel’s second week here and my mom hopped on a plane and headed back to the East Coast, I knew I needed reinforcements like WHOA. I sent a SOS email and my people answered.  I’m here to tell you, I have the best people. From giving me iced mochas or a chance to leave the house or take a shower or sneak in an afternoon nap or flying from VA just to spend a long weekend with me — they have been my lifeline. You know what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child and keep his mother from pulling all of her hair out while talking to the lamps.” Or something like that.

Now that Samuel is here and I can’t imagine my world without him, all of the craziness of the 24 hour labor experience seems to grow dimmer (a blessed side effect of passing time, thank you Lord) but I know it’s changed me permanently. Not just the scar on my abdomen but the new, deep place I entered with the Lord while I stared at bright lights overhead in a bustling operating room with my best friend sitting next to me, tears in his eyes but a sweet resolve to be strong for me when I needed him. It was there that I realized the shield of faith was made for scary places. It became a refuge and a fortress. I hid beneath the promises of Psalm 23, my exhausted mind only able to hold onto those first familiar five words, “The Lord is my shepherd.” That’s all I could remember and that’s all I needed.

Being a new mom has provided so many opportunities for me to experience the real presence of the Holy Spirit. My time spent in the Word has been woefully nonexistent while my prayer life has taken off like a rocket (usually between the hours of 1a – 5am). A sweet friend told me that my prayer life is “the heartbeat of motherhood” and I’ve seen that so much! I can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like as Samuel grows older (preschool? flu season? potty training? first crushes? prom night? OMG COLLEGE… MARRIAGE…IT’S TOO MUCH).

Safe in daddy's arms.

Safe in daddy’s arms.

Overall, we have survived on the generosity and company of other people. I am slowly growing more confident in my role as a mom. I’m taking the time to celebrate little victories — like pumping enough milk for other people to feed Samuel, getting a 2 hour workday in, and any time I get to hang out with John is always a WIN. Thank you to everyone who has shown care or given encouragement to us during this time of life. It’s unlike anything we’ve experienced and we’re happily growing accustomed to this new normal as a family of three.