Happy Thursday, friends! We’re finally on the mend around here, thank goodness. Onto the love.
THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:
Hitting my third anniversary of this blog yesterday! Wow, time flies. Click here to read my first post and don’t laugh. Okay you can laugh. (DISCLAIMER: I was not, in any way, shape, or form, high when I wrote it.)
My husband’s “nerd” voice.
Getting retweeted and tweeted at by Rachel Held Evans! I am such a fan girl, and I don’t care who knows it.
Hot tea and beer.
Celebrating my husband’s birthday!
Somehow managing to trick my husband into doing all the chores for a month. Muahaha. : )
Eating out instead of grocery shopping. See also: Christmas gift cards.
Seeing Dax be social with all my friends. He really is the happiest when he’s around people. He must take after me.
Catching up on Parenthood on Netflix and having Dan say, “I didn’t know you wrote for this show.” Thanks babe.
Encouraging text messages and emails from fellow mommies.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s the first TILT of the new year. If the first week of 2013 is any indication, this year is gonna be a good’un.
THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:
Not having any New Year’s Resolutions. (Last year’s? Gain 20 lbs and be okay with it. I gained 40 and was still okay with it. Then I lost 50, soooo….)
Spending time in my hometown with my family.
Watching my baby boy figure out his new toys! He’s so smart, y’all. Oh and he’ll probably be a drummer.
Seeing one of my besties for the second year in a row on New Year’s Eve!
Getting to see what all the fuss is about concerning Sister Hazel.
Finally seeing The Dark Knight Rises. (May or may not have had to watch it in two sittings because I’m, like, old and got tired and needed to go to bed halfway through it but WHATEVER OKAY IT’S A LONG MOVIE DON’T JUDGE ME.)
Beer and champagne.
New glasses. Yeah, I’m a hipster and I don’t care who knows it.
“Bartering” with my husband.
Getting a full night’s sleep for the first time since Dax was born. And then doing it all a second time! My husband is the best.
Reading books. Like, just because.
Friends going into labor! YAY BABIES!
Eating junk food.
Productive healing exercises.
Catching up on Parenthood on Netflix. (When will season 5 of Mad Men be on there?! COME ON, NOW.)
Bubble baths. Even if they’re too hot.
Watching my baby boy sleep and clutch his blankie. UGHHHHH THE CUTENESS.
A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.
Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.
When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.
It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.
The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.
To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…
God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone
Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.
“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”
Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.
By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.
Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.
Let them! Let them!
And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.
The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.
To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise — someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.
Never walk alone.
Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.
So, we’re knee-deep into the season of Advent and I have yet to acknowledge that on my blog. While I do mention my faith on here from time to time, I try not to blog exclusively about it because I’m a bloody coward and don’t want to lose my Atheist followers. (SHOUT OUT! Love y’all!) But, as a woman of faith, sometimes there are things about my life that are totally, completely, 100% wrecked by Jesus and, at the same time, super bloggable.
This post is about one of those times. Sorry if it offends you or whatever. I don’t mean to do that.
We cool? Cool. [Atheist/Christian approved fist bump]
Being a non-denominational gal, I typically shy away from stuff like Advent. But I have been actively participating in Lent the past few years, so I figured why the H not, because Lent is a lot harder than Advent, in my opinion. If I can refrain from straightening my hair for 40 days and learn something about God, I can probably learn something about God in the days leading up to a holiday where I know I’m gonna get a butt load of presents. #winning
My daily devotional time (that’s just a fancy-pants Christian-ese way of saying, “reading the Bible and praying and journaling every day”) has been through a guided set of scriptures put together by a friend in my bible study. Typically we start out in the Psalms, either crying out to or praising God for pain or for joy. Then we read some Old Testament major/minor prophet goodness, then hit the Gospels, then call it a day.
Monday’s chunk out of Isaiah is all about Judah’s guilt and judgment by God. Without getting into too much detail, Judah is a little brat. And God is tired of it.
A lot of the time when I read these stories, I find it hard to connect with them. After all, I’m not a drunkard, I’m not an adultress, and I’m not a murderer. I’m a good little Christian girl, trying my hardest to stay under the judgment radar. But when I read this excerpt, it clawed its way into my heart and hasn’t left since.
What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them
with ropes made of lies,
who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
— Isaiah 5:18
While I’ve never killed anyone or had an affair, I felt as though the writer was speaking directly to me.
In recent days, some interesting things have developed in my personal life. (No, before you ask, I’m not having marital problems and my child is completely healthy.) I can’t, in good faith, blog about these things so candidly because I wish to protect the other parties involved. But I will say this — going through what I’m going through right now has made me realize that, like the sinful Judah, I tend to drag my past hurts, failures, and sins behind me, tethered to my weary ankles by the deepest, darkest lies I’ve ever heard told.
You have failed at relationships. You have failed at a lot of things. You are a mess and everyone around you is about to find out.
Advent is a time of “active waiting” — that is, actively seeking the savior that is bound to somehow be born to a virgin (which, side note, after giving birth I’d like to say that it’s completely unfair of Mary to have to go through the BS that is childbirth without at least getting some action first) and allowing His grace to be enough.
For me in this moment, active waiting looks like this:
Allowing those who love me to actually love me
Allowing those who know me to actually know me and still actually love me
Basking in the grace I receive everyday, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what He has done
Not giving a f___ what others think about me, as my good friend Nora, the self-proclaimed monk, has told me.
What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them. What joy for those who die to them and rise to Grace!
I took last week off of the blog for the holiday. Hope you’ll forgive me for that. But despite losing sleep over a teething four-month-old and my own unnecessary hormone ingestion (blog post in the works) I have so much to be grateful for! Let’s get to it.
THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:
He’s finding his hands! So cute.
Getting to spend Thanksgiving with my mom! She drove all the way up here for me! (Okay, let’s be honest — she drove up here for Dax. And who can blame her?)
Seeing a doctor that finally listened to me about my issues with my IUD.
Days at home with my boy.
Lunch at Red Lobster.
Encouraging text messages.
Melted marshmallows on top of pumpkin pie. GENIUS!
Gratuitous Emoji use.
Making music with good friends.
Salt and vinegar chips.
Our amazing nursery and our friends!
Jammies, particularly those of the “footy” persuasion.
Starting and ending my work day by nursing the boy.
I know that sounds ridiculous but I’m pretty sure other parents can level with me here. Sometimes, you think your kid is a machine, right? A machine which, when you push exactly the right buttons, will do exactly what you tell it to. Feed Child at X time. Put Child down for a nap at Y time. Do all these things and Child will cooperate with you without fail. And DEFINITELY without tears.
At least, that’s how some of the parenting books may make you feel.
But you know what? Children, even babies, are humans. They’re little walking, talking brains with emotions, desires, pushes, and pulls. There is no perfect formula for child rearing. You just do the best you can today and hope it doesn’t end in a meltdown. And, if you are unsuccessful, you try again tomorrow.
Yesterday Dan and I tried to follow a formula. We tried to stick to a schedule. A method we’ve followed since he was two weeks old. But our child, who is not a machine, decided he didn’t want the same things we wanted.
He didn’t want to sleep.
He didn’t want to nurse.
He just wanted to be awake and wiggle. And cry. And be awake. And not sleep. And be hungry but fight me rather than nurse. And not nap. But lay on the bed with his eyes closed like he wanted to nap. Then cry.
It was a hell of a day, I tell you.
According to my friends and the Interwebs, it’s probably because he’s starting the teething process (WHICH BLOWS MY MIND INTO SMITHERINES YOU GUYS… MY BABY BOY!). Of course. Just after we get through a rough bout of colic, he starts to teethe.
Because he’s a human. Not a machine.
This post doesn’t really have a point. Just letting you all know that sometimes, parenting is hard. And today, I’m thankful that, after yesterday, and after not exactly getting it right, I haven’t been fired from the position of Dax’s mommy. For better or worse, each day is another chance to be the mom I was called to be.
It’s another day. I’m here, and I’m trying. Thank God for second chances. And second second chances. And second second second chances. And so on.
For good measure, here’s a picture Dan snapped of Dax passed out hard after raging all night. Party hard, crash harder, y’all.
Our baby boy is now three months old and, unfortunately, has decided he’s too old for naps. A 30-minute snooze here, a 45-minute conk-out there, but nothing substantial. It’s quite the challenge to get this boy to lay down AND STAY DOWN for an hour or more, despite his obvious developmental (and emotional) need for quality shut-eye.
I suppose he takes after me in this regard. I gave up napping at just eighteen months but Dax, the overachiever that he is, is trying to beat me on this one.
During the day, he’s happy as a clam to go nap-less. He smiles and coos, causing us to get dopey-eyed and do the same, all the while distracting us from the imminent doom that awaits us come bedtime.
When the sun goes down, our son’s blood pressure rises along with sizable shrieks of protest. We change him into his snuggly pajamas and try to avoid bursting into uncontrollable sobs as we clutch the angry, writhing child who, somehow, becomes stronger than us at night, against our weary chests and attempt to rock him into oblivion.
As my spirits sink, I find myself dejectedly repeating a plea in my head:
Oh, Dax, if only you would rest. If only you would shut your little eyes, stop screaming, and let yourself fall asleep once and for all. You would be such a happy child. You would be so safe. So sound. If only you would stop fighting me and just find rest in my arms.
After what feels like an eternity, he does finally nod off into the deepest, most restful sleep possible. He face-plants on our bed for hours and hours, completely still, as if he wasn’t just a mass of flailing arms and legs mere minutes before. And each time I think, See? Isn’t this better than fighting me? Isn’t this rest better than the anguish and pain?
I imagine that, as he ages in infancy and gets more accustomed to our bedtime routine, this will get better. And then, when he’s old enough to understand the implications of rest and sleep, he will resume the bedtime battle, as if he is suffering from amnesia in only one tiring and frustrating way.
As I transition through this identity crisis (that is, going from the go-to girl for everything to a 100% committed mom) it’s hard to find my center. It’s hard to focus on the good, rather than the bad. It’s hard to not be bitter about having to work, or not being able to be involved in the things I used to be involved in, or that my friendships have to be much more intentional now that my free time is basically null and void. Consequently, in my prayer time, I have found myself calling out to God selfishly, sinfully, demanding, “Why is my life ___ way as opposed to ___ way? Why am I ___ kind of person and not ____ kind? Why are things happening the way YOU want them to as opposed to the way I want them to?”
Last night, as I was falling asleep and praying this familiar prayer, I heard my own voice respond back,
Oh, Lindsay. If only you would rest.
My heart stopped. I went still. I listened some more.
Oh, Lindsay. If only you would rest. If only you would stop fighting Me and let Me love you. If only you would realize what plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. If only you would close your eyes and stop fighting Me. If only you would rest.
It’s autumn now which, where I live, means that you can walk from your car to the coffee shop without beginning to perspire profusely (profusely being the operative word, here). You can order a hot latte instead of an iced, if you’d like (or not, if you don’t like) and you can wear a cardigan if you want (or not, if you don’t want) but you are probably still rocking your $2 Old Navy flip fops because REALLY, PEOPLE, IT’S NOT COLD ENOUGH FOR YOUR UGG BOOTS JUST YET, ADMIT IT.
The majority of a Floridian year (March to mid-October) is actually just “summer.” While the rest of the country is sipping hot cocoa and wrapping scarves around their necks, we’re still armpit-deep in a season which, solstices and equinoxes aside, never fails to arrive earlier than we want it to and always, always overstays its welcome. And so, when the relatively “cooler” temperatures finally do show up, they always provoke within me the contemplation of the year at hand, the one that’s steadily slipping away.
How is it fall already? I swear it was just yesterday I was clinking glasses of non-alcoholic champagne at midnight to protect the precious, not-yet-public life growing within me, cheering on the hopes and dreams surrounding the possibilities brought on by a brand new year. And now, with each falling leaf, another minute of 2012 simultaneously shrivels up and floats to the ground, only to be stomped on by an indifferent passerby.
Last Saturday, my group of friends gathered together in the morning as we do each month to eat breakfast and study the bible.
After we all settled down with our plates of donuts and pigs-in-blankets (I had roughly fifty of them… roughly) I quietly surveyed the room of my friends. It was filled with individuals — all unique, all special, all quirky and broken, yet undeniably lovable in our own ways — who have experienced enormous amounts of change throughout this seemingly endless summer:
The discussion was prepared and led by a good friend who, at the beginning of the year, before summer swooped in and melted everything, moved to Birmingham to be with his fiancee. The first of our friends to take a huge leap of faith and dive into something alien and unknown, but with the full knowledge that God was behind him 100%.
Several months later, in the dead heat of the Florida summer, we gave birth to a baby boy. A boy who, completely unbeknownst to him, would change our world (read: our community’s world, not just mine and Dan’s) for the better in ways we’ll probably never be able to accurately articulate. I can’t deny the fact that seeing that positive pregnancy test did send me into a minor panic attack at first, but once that subsided, I knew that God had a huge plan for us. And I was excited to embark on that journey with my husband and friends right beside me. (I was also excited for summer to be over because YOU TRY BEING 38 WEEKS PREGNANT IN FLORIDA IN JULY.)
A few months later, mere weeks ago, two of our friends got engaged and set a date to be married in March, the usual start of “summer”.
Another friend purchased her first house just a few weeks before Dax was born. As someone who has now gotten married AND had a baby, I have to say that I’d do those things a thousand times over before buying a home. At this point, homeownership scares the dickens out of me. I’m so proud of her.
Another good friend continues to be healed of an autoimmune disease right before our eyes through prayer and obedience. Oh, and her husband is getting a puppy.
A whirlwind of change over the course of this year — mostly this summer. All in one, tiny, apartment living room.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop, one whose walls are about 80% windows, and just on the other side of the glass, a man with a leaf blower is loudly clearing the sidewalks of all of the crunchy, brown, tell-tale examples of the season.
In a way, I feel like each of us is a dried up leaf, withered by the effects of the summer, by the steady passing of time over which we have no control, being violently pushed around by the gusts of change.
As if 2012, which came so quickly and is on its way out just as fast, wasn’t chock full of enough changes, there is already a handful of changes lined up for the coming year. New marriages. New locations. New jobs. New babies.
No matter how far away we end up, no matter how blown away we each become, no matter how stepped on or rained on we may get, no matter how different things end up, there is one truth to cling to: we have all fallen from the same tree.
My baby boy is eight weeks old today. I know it’s cliche and all, but seriously — time flies when it comes to kids. These eight weeks have zoomed by me in a sleep-deprived blur. I feel like it was just yesterday we were being admitted into the delivery room and seeing this face for the first time.
But no. That was eight weeks ago. Those images, compared to the face I saw when I woke up this morning…
…blow my mind. He’s already grown and changed so much.
As you’ve noticed, the blog has been quiet these last two weeks. That’s been both unintentional (Dax has had reflux and colic going on which makes for one tired and busy momma) and intentional. I’ve been savoring these precious last weeks as a stay-at-home mommy. When I found that I had some time, I could either snuggle my boy or put him down and blog. Naturally, I chose the former.
A couple weeks ago, I went to a bible study at my church that is comprised of all moms. The newest mom there, I felt a bit awkward and out of place at first. I was the least experienced mother in the circle — still in the throes of nightfeeds and blowout diapers, and nowhere near potty training or choosing a preschool — and felt like I had nothing to offer. Despite my extremely outgoing nature, I spent the better part of the “socializing time” just sitting on the couch, staring at my feet, wondering if I could contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation. I decided that, nope, I couldn’t. Those moms had all been-there-done-that. It’s been quite some time since I’ve felt that strange about being around other people. (That also may have had something to do with my severe lack of personal hygiene but hey, showers are hard to come by these days.)
As we settled in to the devotion, I started to feel a bit more comfortable. A bit more like I belonged. I eased into the discussion and back into my normal skin as I listened to Margo, a good friend and the group leader, read that week’s lesson. It was called, Waiting for Normal.
I don’t remember the specifics of the story, but I do know that it was about a mom who compared her family life — her husband working long hours, never home for dinner, the kids on a weird schedule — with that of her neighbor’s — dinner on the table at the same time every night, the family always together, etc. Sadly, she deduced that her neighbor’s life was “normal” and hers was not. Therefore, she saw no point in trying to maintain a “normal” schedule until her husband stopped working such bizarre hours. She ordered pizza every night instead of cooking. She didn’t enforce a bedtime routine. She said she was just “waiting for normal” in order for life to be worth it.
That devotion was really convicting to me.
You see, when Dan and I first got married, we made an agreement to not have kids until we were in a financial position where I could stop working and stay home with them. Well, as you know, Dax came before we were anywhere near that position. The entirety of my pregnancy and the majority of the first weeks of motherhood, I’ve been fretting over our lack of “normal”. As each day would pass, my maternity leave running out like grains of sand in an hour glass, I would get more and more anxious about the fact that I have to return to work soon because that’s not “normal”. What’s “normal” is what Dan and I agreed on when we got married.
I felt like I was being held at gunpoint and forced to make a choice between my baby and my job. If I chose my baby, everything would be ruined. We wouldn’t be able to afford our apartment, our cars, food, or healthcare. But if I chose my job over my baby, everything would be okay.
Everything, that is, except for the fact that it’s not “normal” and my baby would suffer because of it.
Naturally, the end of the devotion came with the woman realizing that just because her “normal” was different from her neighbor’s didn’t mean it wasn’t “normal”. It was just a different “normal”.
Monday morning, I’ll walk back into my office after having eight wonderful weeks with my boy. The transition will be hard, of course, but the thing I have to remember is that this is my “normal”. I’m not choosing my job over my baby. I’m just choosing my baby in a different way. By going back to work, I’m choosing for him to have health insurance and clothes and diapers and every other baby amenity out there. Just because this isn’t the “normal” I envisioned for myself, it is our “normal”.