Sunday, December 9, 2018

Recipes I Want to Make: Holiday Edition

I get really burnt out on cooking sometimes, but lately I've been itching to try some new recipes. Especially if they're warm and comforting, or holiday-themed!


Salsa Verde Steak Soup

Celery Root and Cauliflower Soup

Immunity-Boosting Golden Soup


Thanksgiving Panzanella

Shredded Kale Salad


This is barely a recipe, but the Pamela's gluten-free dairy-free sugar cookie mix + Miyokos dairy-free butter + 2 Tbs Bob's Red Mill egg replacer + 6 Tbs water + 2 tsp fresh lemon zest = HEAVEN. It's not as high maintenance as it sounds, and the flavor and texture were spot-on.

Peanut 'Better' Balls

Molasses Cookies (would need to sub GF flour)

I'm craving the oreo cheesecake that Modern Love recently added to their menu. But since it's not a local restaurant, these will have to do.

Vegan Salted Peanut Butter Crunch Torte

Vegan Cashew Espresso Truffles

Vegan Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake

Lunch bowls

I've been loving these lately. Highlights include quinoa, beets, spinach, roasted chickpeas, and tahini dressing.

Also loved brown rice, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, red onion, capers, Kite Hill vegan ricotta cheese, and Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

Next I want to try this Macro Bowl

This Southwestern Bowl,

and This Rice Bowl with Shitakes and Peas


Instant Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins (still decent when I cut the sugar by about a third)


I recently made this Skillet Honey Pomegranate Chicken, and while it was a little more work than I like during the witching hour, it was PHENOMENAL. (I used my dutch oven, and I didn't have pom nectar, so I used a tad more juice and a tad more honey than called for.)

Simple Dutch Oven Chicken. Really similar technique to the above recipe, but a very different flavor. So good!

Vegan Cottage Pie

Basically all of these freezer meals -- This is my New Year's Resolution!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Meal Planning

This week has been kind of awesome. I'm such a brat about leftovers, and somehow this week we've managed to stretch two big meals into something that felt a little different each night!

On Sunday, I threw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot for Texas chili. Ross grilled hotdogs for the kids, and they had chili dogs, carrot sticks, and apples for dinner. I had leftovers when I got home.

On Monday, we had chili/chili dogs again, but I made a yummy fall kale salad to go with it.

On Tuesday, I made baked potatoes, bacon, and sliced green onions to put the chili on.

On Wednesday, I made fish taco bowls. I guess more specifically, I did the easy version of these. I used the fish rub recipe as posted (YUM) and served with rice, quick pickled onions, red bell pepper (from our garden), jalepenos, canned black beans, sliced Napa cabbage, avocado, and lime. I'm sure chipotle crema on top would be amazing, but I just mixed our favorite vegan Ranch with our favorite mild salsa and it was great! We eat tacos a lot, but for some reason this recipe just tasted totally fresh and different.

Tonight and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday), we are eating the same bowl ingredients except the fish is gone, so I threw some pre-marinated chicken tinga from the freezer and into the crockpot. People can eat it as a bowl, salad, or in tacos.

Then over the weekend, we will use the rest of the cabbage in crack slaw. But in the summer, turning it into actual coleslaw alongside grilled chicken would be great, too!

This has been perfection, because the weather has been sunny and warm in the afternoon this week, so we are taking FULL advantage of it and I'm so happy I don't have to spend each night prepping some new meal!

For the record, Rosie broke her arm 2.5 weeks ago, and for some crazy reason, she started sleeping through the night the day she got her cast on. (I don't want to jinx this!!!) It's crazy how much more manageable life feels when you sleep through the night. I'm so thankful and I really hope this is the beginning of a new normal for us! So if this week's meals don't sound as amazing to you as they do to me, maybe I'm just on a high from sleeping 6 hours in a row, 6 nights in a row!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The One Conference 2018

So I've been binge-watching this show on Netflix called Jane the Virgin. So... unexpected, right? It's the most bizarre show I've ever seen. More telenovela than sitcom. But you know what? It's really making me miss writing, of all things! It makes me want to read more and write more and really find my voice. But also... I know this isn't really the time or place to suddenly dig into that 100%. So I'll keep posting here. Little Ebenezer stones on this path I'm walking.

Amidst what feels like chaos, I'm starting to see themes emerging again. Instead of straight up survival mode, I'm sensing little love notes from God dropping into my days. Random things that have caught my mind are suddenly being tied together in my heart. And I don't want to forget. So... I write.

And today, I'm writing about water. It has been raining for what must only be 5 days or so, but it feels like forever. The ground is saturated and spongy. My feet actually squelched when I walked across the backyard this morning. It's still warm-ish, so I don't mind so much, I guess. Although I am ready to see the sun soon.

I drove to and from The One Conference in on and off rain on Friday and Saturday. Seven hours of driving in a 24 hour period, and I hate driving. I alllllmost didn't go. Rosie broke her arm last Monday, and last Friday afternoon we got the cast put on! So when I should have been leaving with the carpool, I was instead just getting home from the hospital and feeding kids, doing the naptime routine, and fretting that I hadn't even packed yet. When I did finally leave, I saw that the GPS predicted a 3.5 hour drive time instead of the three I anticipated. Sure enough, there was a super random detour 2/3 of the way through that took me off of I-35 and into Amish country. Like, I actually saw a horse drawn carriage going down the road! But you know what? The drive was really beautiful. Green hills, leaves that were just starting to turn, and a grey sky that somehow intensified all the colors with its filtered, muted light. It was just me, my podcasts, and the view.

Well, and the GPS navigator voice. And the RAIN. Noticeably and gratefully absent, though, was my companion Panic. Once I decided I was still going despite the weather, despite the crazy week, despite the fact that I missed my carpool and missed dinner and I'd be an hour late to the opening session, I just kept going. Because what else can you do? Something deep within me knew I needed refreshment and not just escape. I needed to hear words of life from wise and strong women who have walked their own journeys and found their stories in God's bigger story. And I'm so glad I listened to that voice instead of, well, binge-watching Netflix alone in a hotel room somewhere.

But back to the rain. It's stressful driving in the rain, especially if you're in a new place and the sun is setting and you're running late. I didn't think too much about it on my drive to the conference, but on the way home, the drive afforded some time for my chaotic thoughts to settle, and they started solidifying around a unifying theme: WHAT IF I'M BEING DRENCHED INSTEAD OF BEING DROWNED?* What if the very grace I need is deep within my circumstances? The faith I ask for is found by drinking deeply of what feels like a deluge. I asked for living water and it's being given to me in spades, just not in the way I expected.

"In order to find God, it is perhaps not always necessary to leave the creatures behind... The world is crowded with Him... The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake." C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcom

A varied assortment of podcast episodes whose themes seem to have coalesced into my current musings on expectations, rest, and being filled up:

Journeywomen Ep. 70: The New Heavens and the New Earth with Nancy Guthrie

Journeywomen Ep. 45: Rest with Abigail Dodds

Sorta' Awesome Ep. 162: Self-Care, Self-Comfort, What's Healthy, What's Not

Risen Motherhood Ep. 91: Coffee, Wine, and Social Media

Journeywomen Ep. 35: On What to do with Unmet Expectations


Rising Sun by All Sons & Daughters

No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

I Asked the Lord by Indelible Grace

*I have to credit this thoughts to Abigail Dodds, who said in a workshop on Saturday that never to we drink so deeply as in times of trial.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Sips of Living Water

To be honest, I felt kind of silly doing today's devotional at MOPS, because the truth is, my private devotional life has been less than stellar for the past 11 months. I've had dark seasons in my life where one big heavy thing casts a shadow over everything, and it feels like you need Jesus more than you need water. In those seasons, I have been able to dig deep into the Word of God and find rest.

But my current season isn’t dark so much as heavy and exhausting. It feels like a lot of medium-sized heavy things just keep coming: lack of sleep, family drama, health issues, medical bills... I've been running on fumes and at the same time, beating myself up for not having the discipline to sit down and dig deep. If I did it in that season, why can't I do it in this one? 

But I'm starting to see that different seasons call for different spiritual disciplines. I'm making things even harder with unrealistic expectations. Because you see, I tend to think that if I'm pouring out THIS much into other people all day long, then I need to fill my glass up THIS MUCH every morning. I constantly berate myself for not waking up at 4am just to have an hour of quiet Bible study. I have early risers and non-sleepers and I don't know about you, but having to address kids before I'm fully awake leaves me feeling like I cannot catch up the rest of the day.

But the truth is, Jesus never said he was a pitcher of water. He didn't even come to give me a pitcher of water. He says he IS a well of water, ever springing. More than I could ever ask or imagine is available to me through him. I don't need to constantly be trying to fill up my pitcher in this season, because there aren't enough hours in the day. But I CAN take sips of that living water throughout my day. I can meditate on one verse, listen to one song, spend one minute breathing in and out with intention.

I don't know why it's taken me over 4 years to realize that different seasons call for different spiritual disciplines, but a book called Long Days of Small Things has been a breath of fresh air for me! Each chapter can stand alone, and it comes with three spiritual disciplines to focus on over the next few days. The clincher is that these are things you're already doing! Chapter 1 focuses on breathing, walking, and eating. Little sips of living water as you go about the most mundane things.

In the first chapter, Catherine McNiel says:

I stole away into an adult world for a weekend to attend a Christian conference. In the hot, crowded room, the speaker drove his point home with passion: If we have a genuine commitment to knowing God, we must spend at least an hour each day in silence and solitude. 
There I was, ground to a halt once again. About to birth my third child in five years, I hadn't slept through the night or gone to the bathroom by myself anytime in recent memory. My physical body housed a tiny tenant; I was literally inseparable from this beloved person I nurtured. This simple suggestion of solitude-- one I would have recommended myself in a different season-- stole my breath away. 
I didn't hear anything else at the conference, because these words reverberated through my ears and soul for weeks, drowning out everything else. The list of spiritual disciplines no longer feasible to me as a mother grows longer with each new child. And, of course, any thought of silence and solitude is a happy dream mostly forgotten. 
No one tries to exclude mothers from the "spiritual life," but it happens regardless. I hear laments rising up in the hearts of mothers, mourning the losses that this season of nurturing unexpectedly brings: the impossibility of pursuing something soul-creative, something life-giving.  
[...] And yet. Underneath my unwashed hair and sleepy eyes, the truth in undeniable: These days have been made out of miracles. Uniquely and utterly female miracles. Pregnancy, labor, delivery, newborn days, and nurturing growing children have taken me to places where only women and mothers can go. These fundamental experiences are inescapably feminine, not experienced by all women, but by only women. If our daily experiences are so entirely singular, why shouldn't our spiritual disciplines be uniquely suited to us as well? 
So now, almost a decade into the most grueling journey of selfless giving and sacrifice I can imagine, my spirit is fighting back. There must be another path.
Children are consuming. They leave us with nothing left to give ourselves or anyone else. But this is the perfect training ground for our spirits, the very setting many disciplines are designed to produce! Our demanding, beloved children are what we create-- they are our spiritual path. What if we looked through new eyes and discovered that into our very life stages our Creator has placed impressions of himself, reflections of his strength and beauty, a spiritual path laid out just for us? 
[...] Some religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, have a name for people in this predicament: householders. Recognizing that folks can't just up and leave their spouses or children, these religions give householders a different set of expectations. Rather than becoming meditating monks, studying under gurus and wandering alone through the forest, householders are asked, for now, simply to be faithful in responsibility. 
Though we mamas may appear half-crazed, sleep-deprived, harried, and unkempt, our souls are being taught and sharpened and purified. I'm sure of it. We're not able to sit and ponder this, or even be aware of it most of the time. But soul refining is the work of struggle, sacrifice, discomfort, and perseverance. My three whirling dervishes take me to the end of myself on a daily basis, and I'm certain my soul will emerge stronger for it.

SO GOOD. Here are some resources for more refreshment, too.


Long Days of Small Things

Loving the Little Years

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full


Coffee + Crumbs Ep 28: Long Days of Small Things

Hello Mornings Ep 4: How to Begin and Build a Brilliant Morning

Risen Motherhood Ep 63: Growing in God's Word as a Mom of Little Ones


This song is my anthem right now! I Asked the Lord sung by Indelible Grace

Satisfied   (My favorite version is on iTunes and it's on the City Hymns album by Karl Digerness, but I couldn't find a video of it.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Humility in Motherhood

After Noah was born, I spent a lot of time telling myself, I can'tI've written before that I eventually found the second half of that statement to be ...but God can! Now that Rosie's been here for a year, I'm finally seeing the hidden subtext I'd never noticed before: When I say I can't, I'm really beating myself up because the message is, "I should be able to, BUT I can't."

This has been a revelation to me in the past week or so. The embarrassing is, I'm not trying to hold the world up on my shoulders and do all the things. To many, my calendar might look pretty clear. So when I'm saying I can't, it's not in response to not being able to run the local MOPS group single-handedly. I'm saying I can't get through the day with my kids without having moments of wanting to run away for a week. I can't stop myself from yelling when discipline gets challenging (the fatigue of a second child is definitely bringing out the yeller in me that I had pridefully thought wasn't there before). I can't organize fun activities for the kids when it takes everything in me to get out of bed again.

I have trouble sharing and verbalizing these things because many of my friends have more kids. They have more obligations. They work more hours outside the home. And if they don't, well, I find myself feeling bitter and resentful that they DO have more money, or more childcare, or family in town, or a bigger house.

I'm seeing that humility goes both ways: I can feel shame in feeling like I've been given more than I can handle, and I can feel shame in the fact that I can't handle more.

Last weekend, I listened to a podcast episode on self-care and self-comfort. I really liked the distinction between the two, and the suggestions they discussed. I asked some friends what they did for self-care and self-comfort. More as a conversation starter than anything, but it brought out some ugly responses in my mind. Why CAN'T I get up in the morning before my kids if the mom of three under three can? Why CAN'T I go to the gym in the morning and put my kids in childcare? My answers ranged from practical to petty: I can't wake up before my kids because I'm often awake either multiple times or for for multiple hours between 2-5am. I can't go to the gym in the morning because I'm already anxious about germs after how bad last winter was, and since Rosie still takes morning naps, I can't be at the gym first thing before other kids and their germs start to filter in.

Then I started beating myself up about the fact that I still haven't figured out how to work out consistently with two kids around. (Sleep-deprived monkey brain is a REAL THING.) Then I remembered that Rosie and I were sick for about 4 months straight from mid-October through mid-February, including several ER visits and one inpatient stay. And once the sickness passed, she was in a habit of waking up every 45-90 minutes for WEEKS and I was so exhausted I had to take the month of March off of work completely. So then self-flagellation turned to self-pity, which quickly went down the path of "no one understands how hard my life is." I'm left trying to justify my own difficulties and my own capacity, which is really unnecessary.

Clearly, I'm not in a good head space. But God has been gracious to me in that he seems to be giving me some tools and insights to get out of this vicious cycle. When we night-weaned and sleep trained a month ago, I had really high hopes. I registered for a month with a personal trainer. I bookmarked a bunch of new recipes. I checked out a ton of parenting books from the library. And you know what? If anything, we are sleeping LESS. HUMILITY YOU GUYS. He's leaving no doubt in my mind that the ONLY things I can focus on right now are the basics: sleeping, eating, breathing, walking. I can dive deeper into these disciplines instead of trying to cast a wider net of "shoulds."

The funny thing is, I've been beating myself up for A YEAR thinking, if I can just find the best devotional routine, or a quick mid-day recharge, or a self-care routine, or a daytime babysitter for 2 hours a week, I can find rest in the midst of the crazy. I have no doubt that God invites us to rest in the midst of the crazy. Even Jesus went away to be alone (and sometimes got interrupted when he did).

But sleep deprivation is real. I constantly feel like I'm coming down with the flu. My whole body hurts and I'm tired down to my bones. My short-term memory is shot, and my word and name recall is just embarrassing. Instead of adding more "self-care" things to my list of obligations, maybe I need to remove some of the "self-harm" things? The social media that's fine in and of itself, until I spend the precious little free time I get scrolling on my phone. The playdates that I like to plan because they mean getting out of our messy house, and they occupy my 4 year old so he's not constantly pestering me, but they also interfere with a daily routine and leave me tired AND missing out on my 45-60 minutes of mid-day down time.

This even extends to my other work, minimal as it might be. My hospital job was my very favorite thing before Rosie was born, but it's been a struggle for the past year. Maybe it was maternity leave: the bliss of having every single weekend free for three months. Or maybe it's just that now I need more downtime to balance out more chaos. Whatever it is, I'm just over here trying to maintain the status quo until God gives me some clear direction one way or another. I ALMOST quit in March, which is a whole post of its own. But I haven't written it yet, because everything still feels so undetermined.

My lactation consultant home-visit business has been, surprisingly, growing. I see one client a week, and often turn another 1-2 down because of time constraints. When I only have a few consistent rest times during the week, seeing a client during that time and striving to get both kids down and quiet and tidy up the house... is burning me out. And as always in my life, I have trouble distinguishing between whether I'm being called to push through and do the hard work, or whether I'm being called to lay that work down.

So I wait. And I'm faithful with the bare minimum: sleeping, eating, breathing, walking.

Because when I acknowledge that I CAN'T, I'm really acknowledging that I'm not God. And that's RIGHT where I need to be.

Monday, September 10, 2018

When the Weather Changes but Your Season Doesn't

For as long as I can remember, summer has been my favorite season. It's when I recharge, fill my bucket, and remember everything I love about life. I live for hot days, farmers markets, long morning walks, and late sunsets. But I don't know... this summer, I never got into the groove.

Usually, the end of summer finds me feeling nostalgic and overflowing with gratitude for how I grew and how life changed over the months that span between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Yet this year's Labor Day came and went a week ago, and I can't muster up any sort of comprehensive feeling about this summer. It just kind of happened, and that is all. But what's even more alarming is that, if I'm perfectly honest, I was pretty over summer by early July. I don't know if I was tired of the weather, or the season of newly-mobile-baby, or sleepless nights, or what. It all probably blends together, honestly.

The thing is, the life season I'm in isn't bad. It's not overly heavy or traumatic or anything like that. But when I think a little more, there are a lot of external factors that have created a cumulative sort of chaos. Some of the stories aren't mine to share. Some of it is just work stress from Ross' promotion and my own unit being short-staffed. And some factors are simply a product of living with two little people.

This past spring, I really found comfort in the idea that you don't have to be blooming to be growing; yet, even that has led to some guilt. I know I'm not putting disciplines and practices in place to deepen my roots-- instead, I'm just making it from one day to the next, putting off the hard work until "tomorrow." And here I am, one hundred "tomorrows" later, feeling like I didn't put any work in to change my season.

But do you know what's astounding to me? In the past few weeks, God has poured kindness upon me in a million little ways I wasn't expecting. I feel really undeserving.

If you catch me in a moment, I'm probably going to give you two dozen reasons why my life feels out of control today (sorry friends). But honestly, while those reasons are giving me total monkey brain, they aren't weighing me down like they could. I'm really grateful for that. God seems to be reminding me that it's his work and not mine that will make the difference, and I feel... okay about that.

A few weeks ago, we finished up summer travel. Ross didn't have a work trip for a while, and Noah was about to start preschool again. So we decided it was time to night wean Rosie. Sometimes she was waking up 1-2 times a night, but other times she'd be up at 11pm, 2am, and 5am and that's just too much at 12 months. So we night weaned and really after the first night, she did so well with it! She slept from 7:30pm-5am a few times, and I felt like I could take on the world.

I was making big plans: routines, exercise, maybe starting a podcast. But mostly I was more than ready to be a happier, more well-rested person. But you know, then she went back to waking up 1-2 times a night. I don't know why. And I had two weird little health crises (I'm mostly fine now). And Ross was out of town this past weekend. And today I'm feeling just as tired as I was a month ago, and more than a little discouraged. I realized I was expecting my life season to change along with the weather and the calendar. And when it didn't, I felt a little gypped.

But yesterday made me look back on the past 3-5 weeks with new eyes, and I can see a whole lot of kindness that has been bestowed upon me in spite of my disappointment and inaction. I'm going to a women's conference next month, and last night they shared this verse: "He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.'" Revelation 21:5.

It's the second time in the past month that this promise for all things new has been pressed upon me. And it reminds me that HE is making all things new. It also reminds ME to write these things down so I don't forget sweet little ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) gifts from God.

... Noah's first week of school was astonishingly awful. School itself was fine the two days he was there. Home was a disaster, and it brought out what was possibly my very worst mothering week ever. It's funny, Jen Wilkin says, "the heart can't love what the mind doesn't know," and I've been beating myself up over this. I need to be reading my Bible daily. But you know what? Unbidden one morning (one of those long mornings in which so much chaos happened before 8am, I really should write it down so I can laugh about it years from now) a line from a hymn popped into my head: "I asked the Lord that I might grow, in faith and love and every grace." I couldn't remember the rest of the song, but looking it up brought me to tears and I listened to it on repeat for days. "'Tis in this way,' the Lord replied, 'I answer prayers for grace and faith.'"

... I've been wanting a mentor for YEARS. Six years, to be exact. I've had 3-4 tried-but-failed attempts at this, and honestly over the past year I'd kind of given up. Then you know what happened? A whole lot of stuff I don't know details of or have control over. We had a sudden change in MOPS leadership and I was telling the new coordinator about my hopes for the mentor mom who would be at my table. As I was ending our conversations, I said, "It's funny, I've been praying for a mentor for years, and for some reason God seems to be thwarting that plan." And a few days later, who but my new coordinator, one life season ahead of me and bursting with a love for discipleship, reached out to ME saying, "I can't stop thinking about what you said, and I want to be your mentor!" Really, God? Just like that? And then for good measure, our group shifted again and I ended up with a new mentor mom at my table and her church members just rave about her spiritual leadership skills. Okay, God, I'm paying attention.

... Our neighbor has borrowed our lawn mower a few times this summer. He borrowed it again on Saturday and, when he heard Ross was out of town, he went ahead and mowed our front lawn without saying anything. What a thoughtful little act of service, especially since Ross and I have been arguing about lawn care recently. (Because wouldn't you know, taking care of your yard costs time and money!)

... Last Wednesday, I was determined to start taking better care of myself. The kids were bumping around in my bedroom, but they were playing nicely together and no one was crying. So I sat on the couch and ate my breakfast in peace for 10-15 minutes. The oatmeal was still warm, and I didn't have to get up once. It was glorious and I felt re-charged. I got up to check on Noah and Rosie, and I couldn't even believe my eyes. They'd emptied the bottom rack of my closet, and the entire dresser, AND MY FILE CABINET and dumped it all on the side of the bed. The pile literally went from the bed to the wall and was as high as the mattress. Fifteen minutes of destruction that would require hours of repair. My attitude went south REALLY quickly, and never recovered that day.

Which is funny, because mid-morning, a friend texted me about the book she's reading called Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe. She said, "Reading this book and thinking of you, because maybe it can be our next mom's book club pick. It is speaking to my heart! Just wanted to say you are so encouraging! I know your life is so crazy (and has been for a long time!) but I am really inspired by how you love your kids and even reach out to other women for the book club and breastfeeding and everything you do. I just see the Lord using you and refining you in this hard season in a way that only He could do, using your unique gifts and strengths. You are an amazing mom for your kids, and I'm so thankful to share life with you!" Well, that made me tear up and it gave me some new perspective.

... But then out of the blue, that same night, I started having crazy back spasms. Some sort of referred pain, not a muscle spasm (Flexeril, heating pad, and Advil did nothing). It was CRAZY. On par with labor in terms of pain, and even in terms of characteristics because I was having these spasms every few minutes, to the point of tears. The next day, I texted my friend back. I was still in pain, but it wasn't nearly as bad. Ross was leaving town the next morning, I needed to find childcare so I could get an abdominal ultrasound the next day, and all of this was going to cost MORE MONEY. I was frustrated because I try so hard to take care of my body and it still malfunctions often. I was having a pity party because I was going to be parenting alone and in pain all weekend. And despite all that, my sweet friend STILL invited the kids and me to dinner that weekend. We went over there on Saturday, and it was total chaos with Rosie opening cabinets and climbing stairs. Noah didn't fall asleep until 11pm after all the excitement, and I'd only slept for one hour the night before. But you know what? It filled me up to chat with my friend, and I was so grateful for her presence, and I slept great that night.

... Speaking of money and bodies that don't work, I lost two hearing aids this summer. One of mine and one of Noah's. With the new technology, they recommend buying two new ones since the aids "communicate" with each other. Which means 4 new pieces of medical equipment that insurance doesn't pay a dime for. But. Remember when Rosie was in the hospital last winter? And then when she went to the ER this spring? The ER visit cost $8,000 and it was a horrible experience. $8,000 for Benadryl, Advil, and a Nurse Practitioner visit? Just... no.

So I applied for financial aid, and we qualified. Which meant that we didn't have to pay for her inpatient stay, or for her ER visit, OR for any care that she received at that hospital through the end of the year. This was phenomenal news! It meant we could actually get her hearing tested at a one-year visit (this was recommended because of family history, but I was dreading it because our insurance doesn't cover it). It meant I could have our pediatrician order her one-year labs and allergy tests at the hospital, too. I'll happily drive across town for free lab work. It also MAYBE means that Noah's hearing test will be covered, as well as his hearing aids, since it all falls in this financial aid window. WHAT. We aren't positive that this is true, but I'm making all the phone calls. If it doesn't cover the aids themselves, I also applied for a grant that will cover 60%, which is better than nothing. Meanwhile, I'm going on 3.5 months with only one hearing aid and it's driving me crazy. I hate making medical decisions based on money. But I'm so grateful my kids have been covered.

... And then you know what was re-iterated three times at church yesterday? My transient troubles, and the power of God.

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared" (from Isaiah 35)

"The Lord gives sight to the blind" (from Psalm 146)

"And people brought to Jesus a deaf man who had a speech impediment, and begged him to lay hands on him... He put his finger into the man's ears... He looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, 'be opened!' And immediately the man's ears were opened." (from Mark 7)

Do I think God will give me perfect hearing tomorrow? I wouldn't hate it if he did! But I also know that he made me this way for a reason. He will provide for me, even if it's not as direct as free hearing aids. And the more important thing is that my ears are tuned to His voice.

... This this brings me to church yesterday. It was a sweet, sweet day, and it deserves its own post. Walking home yesterday afternoon, I was so tired but so full.

I'm writing it down. God is good. I feel seen and loved and undeserving and happy and really, really tired.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A New Thing

Shortly after Noah turned one, a verse from Isaiah captured my heart. So it's sweet to me that Isaiah 43:19 grabbed my attention a few weeks ago, right before Rosie turned one. 365 days of life with two kids, and I haven't quite caught my breath yet. I felt like in dark places after my first was born, God was close to me and drew near to me. I learned a lot of deep and meaningful things in the first 15 months of his life, and I don't feel like I've had that same experience this time around. Thankfully the lows haven't been quite as low, and I've certainly done a thousand things differently, too. But I feel like I also haven't had the highs, the breaks, the -- dare I say it -- rest that I was able to get during the day with just one kid. (My one-child past-self hates me for saying this, by the way, because nothing takes away from the fact that it was a HARD season. Yet, I find myself comparing now to then and wishing for old hard instead of new hard.)

I'm not saying God still isn't still present and with me now, but I guess I'm having trouble on my end. I have double the distraction and half the sleep. With Noah, I was certainly quite tired (don't hear me understating this because time and distance has taken the edge off), but after about 8 months, he finally settled into a nap routine and I had two "breaks" most days even though nights were still awful. But I cherished those two breaks! They allowed me to sit and waste time, to do physical therapy, to do a workout (yay endorphins), to journal and do Bible study, to nap. I'm still figuring out how to catch a break this time around. And I'm wondering why I think I'm entitled to one? The line between self-care and selfishness is hard for me to navigate right now.

With one kid, once we got into a rhythm, we could more or less plan on it sticking for 2-3 months until the next big change, at which point we'd have a week or two of frustration, an a-ha moment, re-calibration, and a week or two of adjusting to the new normal. With two kids, my Type A brain is reeling. (And it's "only" two kids!)

It's hard not to miss the downtime of morning nap. I dread laying one down only to leave the room to get bombarded by, "MAMA WILL YOU PLAY WITH ME" for an hour and a half while all I yearn to do is drink hot coffee and eat my breakfast in introverted silence. Sometimes I have it in me to sit down and engage and enjoy sweet one on one time with my firstborn. I never regret it, but it's the hardest thing to do right now, and consequently it almost never happens. So then I feel guilty, too.

It's hard not to miss morning walks. Noah and I took really sweet morning walks the summers he was 1 and 2 (they dwindled a bit last summer once the heat wave hit and I was in my third trimester). Walking with the two of them now is still better than not walking, but it wears me out for the rest of the day if we manage to do it! The heat is unbearable right now. Or maybe it's the humidity that makes it ungodly, but between that and almost pushing my own body weight when we walk, it's not as relaxing as it used to be. It's hard for me to admit that the season of little littles dwindles as my oldest grows too big for the stroller.

It's not at all helpful for me to compare seasons, but it's hard not to. There are wonderful things about not being home with just a baby all day. But the hard things stand out more right now. It's clear to me over and over again that my expectations are left wanting, yet I'm not quite ready to let go of them.

So... they tell you every kid is different, and I guess I'm just learning that in a tangible way. And each journey with each kid is different, too. With the first, every age and stage seemed distinct and surprising and new. With the second, the first year seemed more fluid and about 5 times faster. Some things are similar: both of these kids have a feisty attitude, they had major major sleep regressions from months 4-7, they didn't fall into a nap routine until 8 months, they don't sleep through the night until after a year. But the chaos and noise and NEED is compounded. While my heart is ABSOLUTELY filled with twice the love, I'm finding that twice the patience, twice the kindness, twice the energy... that's harder to come by.

I ended up crying at a playdate at the park last week when everything kind of accumulated. I forget to give myself permission to say that things are challenging. Like, I complain about them out loud, but I don't actually give myself grace for them! Life with two is hard. And it's been compounded by work stress for Ross and for me (another post entirely), by financial stress, medical bills, the fact that we built a new friggin' building in our backyard this winter in addition to all the sickness and sleeplessness. My car has had more in repairs than it's actually worth in the past year and a half, and the check engine light came on again. I LOST MY HEARING AID the weekend of my brother's wedding. Then I LOST NOAH'S HEARING AID a few weeks ago. Family drama with loose ends that leaves us feeling inept and unsure. Feeling completely invisible and not recognizing myself in the mirror.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a long-winded list of grievances. This... is where I am. A little bit of chaos with a lot of emotional responsibility mixed in. I want this to be my starting place. This holy, parched, broken ground where I NEED a new thing to spring up.