Be. Still. {The Blog}

….

Second Wind.

I am NOT a runner. Never have been.

Oddly enough, I hate running outside. If I must run, I’ll do it in the comfort of an air-conditioned gym with a big screen television obstructing my view of the all of the incredibly fit people. I am a poor runner because I am a bad breather.

Let me give you another, unrelated, example:

I remember the year I worked at Liberty University’s Career Center as a Career Counselor, we would go make presentations in various classes. It was a blast, but also anxiety-producing for me. There was a particular class, a freshman Communications class, that had at least a hundred students stretched across the room in theater seating. I and another colleague made a presentation on resumes. I struggled that day, because I had forgotten to breathe in between powerpoint slides.

…by the 4 slide I was completely out of breath and sounded like I’d gotten punched in the stomach. I recall seeing a couple of students in the front row looking amused.

Terrible, right? I stink at breathing (albeit, pacing myself) when under pressure.

I’m drawing a similarity with my life at the moment: lots to do, many hats to transition into and out of, but starting to struggle with pacing all the responsibilities. I won’t write out a list here, because you could probably look back on my previous blog posts and see that I am an incredibly busy woman. Duh.

And at times, I feel that if I have to think of ONE MORE obligation (merited or not), that I’m going to run away. Dramatic, I know. But, it honestly agitates my introversion. My desire to grab my favorite blanket (the one that my former college roommate made for me — thanks Jess), my cell phone, and hide in my bed. Somehow I can do that because the baby has enough milk to last her a month and my husband’s love tank is full so he won’t miss me for at least a week. And miraculously enough, I was able to clone myself to go to work FOR me so that I can continue to help support our family, meanwhile taking care of the finances and managing the home (and never feeling like a failure of a wife). That same clone will also be incredibly active and innovative in church, and call all of my family and friends to give them personal time every week so  no one feels neglected. My clone doesn’t need sleep or pampering or nutritious meals or self-care. And she battles all of the mommy guilt for me, thankfully.

She will take care of all of that, so I’ll be able to sit in my bed and take that much needed second wind.

Glorious, isn’t it?

I feel like I’ve been running for ages but rarely take time to breathe. God the Father Himself took a break after creating EVERYTHING. Why can’t I? Maybe God wasn’t tired, but rather He wanted to show me the way it’s (and by “it” I mean Kingdom building) done appropriately.

All of my efforts to rest won’t satisfy my weariness if I don’t look in the right places. I tend to look for rest externally, when I’ve been commanded to find my rest IN God. And I can free up my schedule to the bare necessities, but still not find rest.

I can have more free time. But miss having genuine rest.

Isn’t that sad? So, is it really about just “not running” or trimming back the distance?

Maybe not, because the race MUST be run. It will be. Once my life is done and over, there will be a summary of how well I ran. How far. And where I ended. Maybe the point is to learn how to breath in the midst. On the journey. Staying connected to the Source that can breathe new life; the One who first breathed into us.

Excuses, Excuses

I have way too many excuses & not nearly enough courage.

Apparently, so do most people. A well-known guy in the Bible named Moses was chatting with God about emancipating his people out of slavery. When told to go, here’s what he said:

Exodus 3:11;4:10
“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Ha. Of all things, Moses brought up his lack of charisma and charm, or that the fact that he might not be able to be very convincing to the ruler of Egypt. Honestly, I was here for Moses on this one. If I were chilling in the desert, enjoying my comfortable existence with friends and loved ones, I wouldn’t want to leave all that and go save a bunch of people I didn’t know anyway…

…but that’s God’s M.O.
Saving folk. Right?

WHO AM I, God? The call is always overwhelming. Too big. Too difficult.
Larger than my hands can hold.
Moses couldn’t wrap his logic around it.

…and neither can I.

I have hobbies. Things that I enjoy doing to pass the time. They are not only enjoyable, but easy.
Then I have talents. Things that I am both good at and enjoy doing. The work that goes into it is enjoyable.
Then…
I have passions. They are overwhelming and taxing at times. Especially when they push me (or pull me, sometimes kicking and screaming) towards my purpose.
Now, Purpose is NOTHING like your hobby or your talent. They can be connected, but they are rarely identical.
Your Purpose is divine and God-breathed. It’s like a distinct birthmark or a mole: it’s unique to you. It’s what identifies you in the Kingdom of God. It’s like your fingerprint, not because no one else will have that purpose, but no one else will carry it out EXACTLY like you.

Imagine this: God made you unique because He needed you to be exactly who you are, so that you can take your place (one picked out JUST FOR YOU) in the Kingdom of God.

So, when I/you make excuses, we are leaving our places unoccupied. And we all suffer because of it.

It’s hard enough DISCOVERING that purpose. Moses had to leave his cushy existence as Pharaoh’s son in order to find it. But the delay caused by excuses are on us. IT’s time to edge them further out of our lives & trade them for a little more courage.

29: Take One

Edging closer and closer to 30 is nothing like the movies portray it to be. At least, not for me. Truthfully, I am thrilled, settled, and more at peace than I’ve ever been in my entire life. It’s difficult not to look at my life from the outside and gauge that my contentedness is based on what I have and who I have to come home to.

…that doesn’t quite explain it.

The 20s are meant to be significant; filled with triumphs and mistakes. You learn more about yourself than probably any other decade in life. There are definitely ways to screw up your 20s, but everyone seems to have an opinion on how to spend these 10 years. Some tell you to live it up because once The Terrible 30s come along, you’ll truly have to grow up, and others bombard you with conversations on marriage, 401ks, and establishing a career. This sort of pressure made me pray for 15, when no one seriously expected much from me.

Thankfully, I didn’t have an overambitious mother. Rather, I had a strong one, and patient to boot, who let me make up my own mind about my future. She treated me like I had the right questions when finding my path, not her. And she provided guidance when I needed it.

(I want to emphasize how much that propelled me into dreaming of my future. I can only hope that I’ll be able to provide that same gift to my own children.)

So, here I am. My plate has never been this full:

Wife.
Mommy.
Working full time in mental health.
In school full time, working on my Addictions certification.
Leader in my church/active in a monthly small group.
And I still go to movies on occasion.

It’s enough to make my head spin sometimes. Yet, I have peace. Not in the fact that I’ve earned where I am.
Quite the opposite. I do not deserve my life. If I felt I did, then I’d feel responsible in fighting to keep it…or drowned in fear of losing it.

But I’ve spent much of my teens and 20s battling fear. And I’ve beaten it these past few rounds.

And I’m encouraged because I’m not yet winded. There is so much better ahead, and my arms are finally, freely open to all that is coming.

Little Me.

So, our little Naomi is coming up on 3 months.

…sheesh…can I just pause and say that happened really quickly?

Anywho.

She’s been doing a really terrifying thing lately:

While I breastfeed her, she will pause and stare at me.

(That’s some hilarious imagery for you, huh?)

No, I am quite serious.

And her stare isn’t, in itself, frightening. Meaning those big ol’ beautiful brown eyes aren’t creepy or eerie. They are very, very intentional. Observant. And almost…”knowing”.

As if whatever secret or shame I am hiding or fronting for at the time, she has already found it. She knows it. This little person stops for a few moments (which feels a lot longer), takes a big, long look at me, & break wide my whole world.

I’m afraid because I remember that soon she won’t be just an ornament on my hip. A super cute, 10 lb. ball of soft flesh wearing a diaper that I can show off on Facebook. Sure, I will blink and she will be an independent, capable young adult who lives her own life and makes her own (hopefully wise) decisions. But, there exists a sliver of time in the near future where she will be at her most impressionable. And not only will she see me, but she will mimic me.

The scariest part?

I can’t control which parts, which moments of mine, she will mimic. “Do as I say, not as I do” has to be the biggest paradox that exists for a parent. And I don’t want too see those big, brown eyes filled with confusion when I chastise her for repeating something that she’s seen her mother do often.

I will naturally try and hide from glances that have a knack for seeing too much of me, too quickly. But I don’t ever want to hide from her.

Not her.

So, after a few moments of Naomi’s glancing up from feeding….

…most of the time, she will giggle or smile at my nervous expression, as if to say,

“Chill, mama. I love you anyway.”

Timing

I remember having a TERRIBLE sense of timing.

When to confront. When to complain. When to begin or end a relationship.

During our dating years, my husband would poke fun at me for having this major flaw. I would deny it, of course, but looking back on it I see that he was completely spot on. Lately, I’ve become obsessed at the way timing plays into my life’s circumstances. No conflict or occurrence is random to me anymore, nor are they without a smidgen of meaning attached. I swear, if I didn’t love Jesus so much, I’d be one of those folks reading the palms and the stars, and instead of Naomi, my daughter would have been named “Serendipity”.

…that does have a nice ring to it though, you think?….

I learned from certain biblical passages (try Ecclesiastes 3, for starters…) that God infuses His purposes and plan for us with both strategy and intention. He isn’t a god who loves anonymity, but He loves to place His signature, with bold strokes and lines — in ink– on our lives. He wants us to know that He’s the artist, the producer, and the author of it all.

He will even risk getting the blame for the bad stuff….because the good stuff is SO. GOOD.

So, I pay extra attention to the order of the story…the order of my story. Because I know that when I do, I will see his signature in plain sight. So plain that it can be overlooked, even.

So, I guess this post will serve as a caution/encouragement: Look up. Pay attention. God is speaking all the time, even when He isn’t talking.

10 Things I Love About You

My daughter turns 1 month old today.

This past week, in particular, has been quite a unique one, because I’m beginning to see small bits of her personality become clearer. I stare at her more often. And she spends more time awake than she has since she was born. I thought I’d create a list of 10 things I find cute/lovely/funny about her. I’m sure in the days/years to come, this list will grow…

10. Naomi loves to cross her ankles while feeding

At first, I thought this was a coincidence, considering I habitually cross my legs/ankles while relaxing, eating, etc. I remember when we went to the mid-pregnancy ultrasound appointment to find out her gender, but couldn’t see her private parts because she was lounging with her ankles crossed. Ha. She’s definitely my child.

9. “The Pirate Eye”

Something unique that she does that I find adorable. While floating in between awake and milk coma stages, she will open only one eye…as if she’s considering whether or not it’s worth waking up yet.

8. Her sleep positions

When asleep, this child looks like she has worked 2 12 hour shifts back-to-back. It’s hilarious…

7. Her lips

Our poor little one has baby acne concentrated around her mouth because her dad and I can’t keep from kissing her little face. Her lips are so distinct and I’m guessing will be one of her many unique physical characteristics.

6. Her eyes

GORGEOUS. The prettiest baby eyes in the history of baby eyes. Hands down.

5. Flatulence

She will “poot” in front of anyone, anywhere, anytime. She could really care less. If she’s being held by the POTUS one day, I suspect he’d better be prepared.

4. Sound sleeper

Hopefully this observation will continue until she’s well into high school, but when in deep sleep, she has slept through 2 hours of jackhammering, noisy street traffic, and loud video games with shooting and car chases.

3. Her smile

There’s nothing cuter than a tooth-less, squinty-eyed, wide-mouthed baby smile. And she has one that will stop your heart for a few seconds.

2. Her chill-ness

I didn’t think I’d have such a chill kid. At least for right now, (when she’s not fussy of course) she is as cool as a cucumber. Not really bothered by much :)

1. She’s our miracle

I’ve concluded that she and God conspired about the day she was to be born. Even though we were all worried and concerned that she’d come too early, everything about her points to the fact that she was already in on that little secret from day one. (See number 2)

2014-06-12 21.53.10

Sleep Deprevivation

This post is about letting go. 

Releasing a tight grip from the wall of certainty where I clung in order to feel sure about my place and role in life.

It is about feeling emotions, and being okay with every second they take up residence in your heart. Letting it be okay that there is little logic found in their range, depth, severity, and speed that you experience each emotion, even as they fluidly stream from one into another.This post is even about not having nearly enough sleep needed to support the elation and joy I should have at the moment.

My mind is without a concrete form, but only because my daughter — yes this little, 7 lb angel — has taken it to mold it into what she needs. And strangely enough, that mind has become so instinctual. Basic. Almost primitive.

And this mind I am left with, who used to have quite intelligent conversations with my heart — on topics like priorities, passions, and what I am to pursue — speaks in sentences with no more than half a dozen words each. Sometimes, their dialogue is in the form of grunts and groans. Tears and laughter. And they understand each other. Perhaps better than they ever have.

Remove sleep and add a tiny person, and you are left with a profound amount of clarity found in child-like terms. I can see falsehood in my own heart (and sometimes in others closest to me) vividly. Many personal principles that I once held high and with such dignity, I’ve surrendered to a dusty alter before God. I’ve never had to give and give up so much of myself for anyone else before her. And I’ve never been so glad that she requires nothing less.

I am so tired…

…and yet, so awake.

 

1 Week.

2014-05-19 21.43.00

Haiku #1

By: Jill Scott

It was a loud cry

when I was brought to this world

been loud ever since.

To our little Fighter: may your heart grow larger by the minute & your taste for adventure soar far beyond the places where our feet have taken us.

Happy {{1 Week}} Birthday, my sweet girl.

My Little Girl.

I gave birth to my daughter, Naomi, this past Wednesday.

By far, THE most incredible, hardest act that I have and will ever do in life. Hands down. Many people emphasize the pain part, which is definitely noteworthy. But, the amount of focus, patience, and determination it takes to labor a little one into this side of existence is so undersold. There was a split second where I’d actually changed my mind about the whole thing. I wanted to take it all back. It was too great! The whole experience was coming to a head while I labored, and I was overwhelmed by a rush of emotion, pain, pressure, and exhaustion. And no medication was going to make it all go away. It was too late. I was here and I had to do this.

This isn’t an attempt to preach whether I am for natural child birth or medically assisted childbirth, by the way.

…it honestly doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, how your little human being was born. The “how” pales in comparison to all the other aspects, I think. Especially, the “who”. Women are the gateway. Literally. The gateway God uses to introduce life. We spend months protecting and nurturing the Way. We endure tests and examinations where we’re poked, prodded, and sampled. Pregnant women worry over negative anatomical scans, uterine and placental check-ups, and potential health declines. Almost a year’s worth of worry climaxes into a short blink of time (which could stretch up to 48 hours for some women) when labor happens. Biblically, it started out as a part of our curse for disobeying God (Genesis 3:16). But in the light of Jesus’ redemptive power, labor becomes our cause. Simply because God the Father used the processes of pregnancy and labor to bring the world its Messiah. The time that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she was literally filled with Promise. And the night she birthed Jesus, that promise was fulfilled.

…I understand that, in my own small way…and I think every (pregnant) mother can.

What it is like to hold a Promise closest to your heart, and to trust God with every part of it; both seen and unseen. Known and unknown.

I trusted God to give my little girl life, and NOW I am faced with an even greater act of faith (a daily act, too):

Trusting that God will sustain her life. Believing and claiming that John 10:10 pertains to her as well.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)

Here she is, guys, my little girl….

Naomi Alese

 

Bed-rest: Photo Summary

Fetal Monitoring

I’d do it all over again for her.

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