My first natural birth

This is the story of my second-born child, my first son, and my first natural birth; it was also my only birth with a doula. I wish I had hired one for all my births! I did not choose natural because I "want a trophy" or any other similarly silly reason. I chose it because I believe in it. I believe it's possible and beneficial for most women, not all. I believe it is a personal choice, and would not look down on someone for their choice. Choosing natural childbirth has changed the woman I am. It has deepened my faith in God and in myself. I have learned new things from each of my births. This birth taught me that I am strong, even when I don't think I am, even when others don't think I am, even when others think I may be crazy. Each of my natural births connected my husband and me more than my epidural birth. I don't believe natural birth is the only way to accomplish those things, but I know from experience that it can be a good way to accomplish those things. 

On Dec 26, 2005, Scott had the day off and I decided that I wanted to get all the Christmas decorations down so that they would be done before baby boy made his arrival. Who knew that would start a yearly tradition? After the decorations came down, I realized I hadn’t felt C move much in the past hour or so. I laid down and drank some orange juice to try to wake him up. He didn’t really wake, so I called my doula, Sherry Asp, and asked her opinion. She said to head into Reno and check his vitals. I started counting my contractions on the way to Reno, they were about a minute long and 10 min apart. He was moving a little now, but it was about 6pm, and there was a possible snowstorm that night, so we thought we would go ahead and get into Reno before the temperature dropped too much. At the time, we lived in Fernley, NV which required a drive through the mountains in order to get to a hospital. So, we called the Webbs, who were watching #1 for us, and they met us at a McDonald’s in Reno to take her. We grabbed some food for us too. 

We checked into the hospital, #2 was doing fine, and I was dilated to 6cm. We were admitted, and we called the doula to meet us there.

I should mention here that you can be dilated for weeks. I have been. Dilation is a measure, but it doesn't mean that birth is imminent. I believe now that I could have waited a week or more before #2 would have arrived. It turned out ok, but with later births 2 out of 3 later births, I chose to not pay as much attention to dilation. 

I informed the nurse of my birth plan - no drugs, intermittent monitoring (15min/hr), a hep-lock instead of IV, leaving the cord attached until after the placenta was delivered, and immediate nursing for the baby. (Tip: If you have a birth plan, choose 5 or so things that are most important to you, and highlight those. It will allow the staff to actually read your birth plan and help them to not see you as troublesome.)  She did the heplock and left. I knew my doctor was on vacation, he had warned me, so I knew it would be luck-of-the-draw. I also declined the hospital gown. I hated trying to keep that stupid thing closed with my first birth, and I saw no need for it in early labor. After about 20 minutes, the nurse returned to say that the doc on call really wanted me on monitoring the whole time. I politely declined. I also began to sneak chicken nuggets whenever we were alone in the room. While eating at one point, the doc came in. I thought for sure I was in for a lecture. He didn’t say a word. I explained to him that I wanted to be able to move freely, and that I discussed this with my doc (he was a supervisor at the hospital, so I thought a little name-dropping couldn’t hurt). He said he didn’t mind at all, that he hadn’t told the nurse I had to stay on the monitor at all. Hmmmmm. Someone lied. I still don’t know who. After about an hour, the nurse said it would just be easier to go ahead and hook me up to an IV now just in case something went wrong. I had hemorrhaged with #1’s birth, so I had already consented to pitocin after the birth. I asked, “Since I have the heplock, isn’t the time difference less than 5 seconds? I’d rather not. I want to be able to move around.” She tried to convince me that I could still move around, I would just have to wheel the IV cart around. Yeah, thanks, but no. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We watched Jay Leno, laughed, and goofed off. If I had been at home, I would have been sleeping, but I was too excited. I did nap off and on. 

The nurses changed shifts in the middle of the night. The new nurse said she had never had a patient choose to birth naturally before. She asked Sherry if I had had a bad experience the last time. Sherry just told her only I could answer that question, the nurse never asked me. The new nurse was very nice, even if a little clueless about natural birth. She seemed willing to experience it right along with us. She also told me that I should just do a shot of pitocin in my leg instead of putting it in the IV. We did decide to leave the heplock in, just in case, since it was already there, even though it was uncomfortable. (We never needed it.)

At about 5am, the doctor came in and said he wanted to check my progress. I was dilated to 9 cm, he told me. He then asked the nurse for a hook. She handed it to him. Immediately, red flags went up in my mind. “A hook? That can’t mean what I think it does? [to break my water] Surely he would ask first...” Very quickly, he had the hook package opened and in hand. I asked, “Wait... what are you doing?” He responded, very matter-of-factly, “I am going to break your water.” My head was saying, “Oh, really? You’re going to break something of mine, without asking me first? Nice try.” I managed to politely say, “I would like to discuss that with my husband first.” He looked astounded that I would dare even consider not going along with his will. He stood from the bed, stormed to the door, ripped off his glove, threw it in the trash, turned around and said, “You’re not at a 9 anyway, you’re only at a 6,” and left. Well, thank you, I didn’t realize they allowed two-year-olds to become doctors. I quickly realized his shift was over in 2 hrs, and he just wanted a paycheck for delivering my baby. I looked at my belly and told my little man to just hang in there till after 7, because I didn’t want that doctor anywhere near us again. I don't think he was quite ready yet anyway, so I never saw that doctor again.  

When the doctors changed shifts, the new woman came in, and was very nice. She was supportive of my birth plan, and checked on us every few hours, but largely left us alone, achieving a really good balance. We walked around the hospital a few times and basically just hung out, trying nipple stim and taking cohosh tincture. One time when the doc came in, at about 1pm, she explained that #2 was head down, and very low and said she would break my water if I wanted to. At this point, maybe I should have waited, but I was anxious to meet him, and had been in the hospital for about 18 hrs. So I consented, and she broke my water. 

Until that point, I had barely felt my contractions, but once the water was broken, they came fast and furious. I found relief changing positions, particularly on all fours. Sherry would gently tap twice on any muscle that I was tensing, something we had practiced. That was a reminder to me to relax that muscle. It was very effective, because it was something we had worked out before. I didn't feel like she was telling me what to do, but rather, using a gentle reminder to tell me something I wanted to do. The fact that it was non-verbal was nice for me also.
Now that I'm more aware of the power of human touch, I think that played a part as well. A gentle touch that not only told me to relax, but told me that she was here with me, supporting me, gently here for me. 

 I got in and out of the shower, each contraction getting stronger. I felt like I was in the movies, groaning and yelling. Sherry used counter pressure on my lower back, and Scott was very encouraging throughout. She did the hip squeeze - standing behind me, squeezing both hips up and in. I felt him move down, and at the same time, felt relief of some of the pain. Without those things, I don’t know if I could have made it through. During one contraction, with Sherry doing the hip squeeze, I thought, "If she did nothing else, this woman is worth every penny." I considered the epidural, but I ran through the reasons I had decided not to use it in my head, and remembered that I was most likely too close to birth to get one. 
C at 4 months

I told Sherry that I thought I needed to poop, and asked if it was normal. She said that it was fine and helped me to the toilet. It was there that I realized I didn’t need to poop, I needed to push! I decided then and there that I was comfortable on the toilet and would birth there. haha! Sherry got to where we were eye-to-eye and firmly (but nicely) said, "Kristi, you can NOT have this baby on the toilet." I trusted her and knew she would not have had that tone of voice with me if it weren't a good reason, so I got off and moved towards the bed. She later told me she has caught babies that way, but you run the risk of them hitting their head on the porcelain, and they go from warm womb to cold water. Obviously, I had not thought of either of those things!

I got back in in the bed, again on all fours. We called the nurse, who, of course, had to check my dilation. She complained to Sherry that she hated checking dilation while I was in that position (hands and knees) because it was hard for her. I said, “Fine, I I’ll roll over.” I was a little annoyed, because, really, I am the one who should be comfortable, not her, but I didn’t want to be a diva. I rolled over, she announced I was at 10cm and fully effaced. By this point, the urge to push was undeniable and unable to be ignored. They called the doctor, but the one on call was in her office across the campus. So they called the perinatologist, whose office was in the hospital itself. I remember the nurses coming in and telling me I couldn’t push yet because the doctor wasn’t there. I said he better hurry up, or I was doing it without him. I looked at Sherry, and said, “I’m fine with you catching this baby!” She was training to be a midwife at that time (she is a midwife now). They told me I could turn back over if I wanted to, but I did not feel like I could move. They also asked if I wanted to feel his head, but I was holding myself up with my hands, because putting my hips down on the bed caused too much pressure. I said, “I would really like to, but I can’t.” I’m still amazed at my ability to form such polite sentences at the time (especially considering I yelled at the midwife with L’s birth, 2 years later. Maybe I was just more comfortable with my surroundings and freedom to express myself with L, or maybe I became less concerned with what other people think of me). 
C at 6 yrs (minus one day)

The perinatologist came in and introduced himself, Dr. Globe, I think. For some reason, I said, “I hope we don’t make a mess on your nice shirt!” I guess I really liked his shirt. It probably had something to do with the fact that all the other doctors had been in scrubs, and he was dressed very nicely. He told me that was not a problem, and put a gown and gloves on. Because I had waited so long, once he got into position, I pushed very hard, and C was out in about 2 pushes. Sadly, the doctor cut the cord immediately. I tried to say something, but he was very fast. I knew he did not have time to review my birth plan, so I wasn’t upset, but I was disappointed. They set him up on my chest, and I said, “Hi, little guy!” Of course, it was love at first sight. He began nursing like a champ right away. The doctor told me several times that he was not pulling on the cord, but that the placenta was coming on its own. I thought that was kind-of cute, and I really appreciated it, considering the doc had pulled it with R, and that is almost certainly the cause of the hemorrhage. They called the time of birth at 3:00 pm, about 2 hours after my water was broken.

They took C and put him under the bili lights while the doctor started to stitch me up; I tore because I pushed so quickly. I know I asked him about 12 times if he was going to use a local anesthetic. Childbirth without drugs serves a good purpose; stitches without them is silly!  He laughed and asked if I wanted them. I was very enthusiastic when I said yes. I said that I wanted my baby back, and the nurses said they were trying to get him warm. I told them that I was plenty warm enough to warm him and he wanted to nurse again. They gave him back to me, and he nursed again. I did have to trade back and forth with him on the bili lights to make the nurses happy, though. 

When they moved me to a new room, I told the nurse I had to go to the bathroom, and she insisted on helping me to the bathroom. She was surprised at how easily mobile I was, which I found somewhat amusing. It’s amazing what you can do when you can move your own legs! (With #1, I couldn’t move anything below my ribs until about 10am the next day, she was born at 12:37am; it was awful.) After the bathroom, I asked her to help me with my sweatpants, I had refused to wear the hospital gown the whole time. She joked about me liking to be covered in my own clothes. I said yes, I was just more comfortable that way. She took me to my new room, and we ate dinner - it was actually very good! Scott went with the nurse to give #2 his first bath, and when he brought him back, he was snugly wrapped in a blanket inside a stocking! I wish I had that picture to show you, but it's trapped on a dead laptop, still in my garage, hopefully awaiting a resurrection. 

12-27-2013, 8 years old 

Christmas Eve

I am so excited today to have family in town. I am most excited that my kids get to hang out with their cousins! This means, however, that my house will have 8 kids, aged 9 and under in my house! So, this morning, when I got up and my kids were still sleeping, I decided to enjoy the quiet for a moment. I told my husband I was going to enjoy the calm before the storm, and I grabbed my kindle (thanks Mom and Dad!), and began to read my favorite devotional website. I decided to read this devotion, about what to remember about Christmas. I knew I would need the reminder, with the combination of me being postpartum, kids being kids, and adults who don't normally spend days on end in quite the proximity we would be. I read, and it touched my heart, to remember to love "the least of these" as we would love Jesus. But then the quiet was broken. But it wasn't broken by the clamor of children running to see if their cousins are here yet. It was softly broken. I heard my oldest daughter singing to my youngest daughter, "Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ria! In Excelsis Deo!" I was reminded, too, to see God's glory in the little things. To notice His features in the daily-ness of life.

To look in the bright eyes of my children and their cousins as they talk to me and see God's eyes shining there. To see the hands of a young child reaching for "Bup!" (up) yet again, and to see Jesus' hands, asking to be ministered to. To see a child carefully constructing an ornament, knowing that I will find its childish flaws beautiful and distinctive, and know too, that God carefully constructs each of us and loves some of the things we see as flaws as distinctive and beautiful individuality. To cook meals as though I was making them for Jesus himself. To feel the love I have for this zoo, and know that I don't even have a glimpse of the love God has for all of us.

Today, and everyday, I vow to see God and His glory in the smallest of things.

How will you change your perspective in order to see everyday things as holy things?

I have a question for you...

I've been looking at different sorts of blogs lately, and can't really tell where this one should go. So, I'm asking for opinions. Should I stick to one of these things or a combination? There's what I've mostly been doing, I don't know what to call it. Encouragement? Lessons learned? Devotional sounds wrong, but it is formatted somewhat like that. I've mostly focused on my walk with God, but I intend to branch out into telling my birth stories, and including natural birth/homebirth/breastfeeding/natural mommy stuff.

Then there's the crazy stuff my life brings - stuff kids (whether mine or a student) say and do, stuff I say in response, and one I haven't touched on yet - the weirdness of being a pastor's wife. I've also toyed with the idea of doing tutorials of some things that I've done, either crafts with or without the kids, baking, organizing, green cleaning, or something else, I don't know. What do you think? What would you like to see? What do you think works best here?

An answer

I stood in the strip of sunlight and watched them. I watched them walk and laugh, talk, smile, shrug, look at their toes. They would glance at me, try to get away with a minor infraction. They would smile my way, some genuinely, some politely, some suspiciously. There were groups, fist-bumping, hugging, joking. Suddenly, it hit me. I was standing there, surrounded by people. Not kids, not students, but people. I could see their anxiety and joy, their worry and their light-heartedness. So many times I shut myself off to their humanity. I see it when necessary, or on a surface level, but when it gets hard, when I see their hurt, I don't know what to do with it and I turn off. It's like a switch deep within involuntarily clicks over.

It's not that I don't care. It's not even that I don't want to care. I just don't know how to do it right. There are so many of them and only one of me. There is so much heartbreak, and I only have two hands that can't possibly make all of the wrong right. So, I do what needs to be done. Evaluate what they say, decide if a report needs to be made, and to whom. Once or twice, their reality has been such that is was all I could do to wait until they were out of sight before bursting into tears. The girl who described a situation and asked if it was rape. It was.

The questions began. How do I handle that? How does she? What is to be my role here? And, once I open myself to feel a small splinter of their pain, what then? How will I ever teach them something so trivial as comma usage ever again? How could I stand in front of them and focus on anything except their hurt?

For weeks, I felt this internal struggle. Where do I draw the line? I can't constantly allow my heart to break for them, or it would consume me. But I can't ignore their hearts either. I couldn't figure out what is enough. I watched other teachers, all on various levels of this care-spectrum, and wondered where I should be. Some of them were jaded, and didn't seem to ever care about the kids. Some of them became stepping stones as students used their backgrounds to get anything they wanted. Many more in between.

All the while, I went about my business - my job of trying to teach them. I laughed at their silliness, became frustrated by their lack of responsibility, tried to express my desire to help them become better people. I would get distracted by lesson plans, attendance, deadlines, copies to be made, check marks on the never-ending to-do list.

And then one of them, one that I couldn't pick out of a crowd, did something to make me pay attention.

She tried to kill herself. She decided that life was too hard.

As I read the email, my heart wept. We were asked to retain as much normalcy as possible for the kids, so I went about the day-to-day. I collected homework, passed out grades. I tried to smile a little more, to see their emotions a little more, so as to be a help to those who had lost a friend.

Is this the answer? Allow your heart to break for them, but somehow manage to be strong for them when face-to-face? How will they know I care? Because I do have that answer. I have to care. I can no longer walk around pretending that they don't hurt. I have to allow them in. Now, today, that is so clearly more important than how well they compose a letter. It won't save them. It won't make their lives perfect, but it might help one. I don't think it would have helped the girl lying in the hospital on life support today. I know some of her teachers cared deeply about her.

I can no longer opt out of compassion for them. I can't pretend that my job is nouns and verbs and not love. Teacher or not, I am called to love these children.

I realize that I must walk this tightrope before them, strong and compassionate at the same time. I offer a hand, a shoulder to help carry their hurt. I tell them it will be okay.

When I am alone, I will do what I did today when they all left, and what I did when the girl who had been raped left my room. I bury my face in my hands and cry. I cry for their delicate hearts that can't see a way out. I pray for them to find hope. I pray for me to have strength and wisdom. I ask God, "Why?"

In front of them or alone, I will love them. I will care for them. I will pray that their hurt will be small, or, more importantly, that they can find Hope Everlasting. All the time, I will listen to the words they aren't saying. I will smile more, be more patient. They are people and they are children at the same time.

I will remember the quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Love note

A note I found, between my 5-year old son and my 8-year old daughter:

Him: "[her name]!! is! pretty!!!"
Her: "You are handsome!!! Thank you!"
Him: "Yuk!!!!!!!!!"
Him: "Sorry"
Her: "Help me out of the bucket!!!"
Him: "I wish I cold [could] marry you!!!!!!!!"
Her: "I wish you couldn't"

I had to get a translation for the order of the conversation. 
I immediately confiscated it, wrote the date and put it in the box with photos.
I will cherish it forever.
And, you know, embarrass him as a teenager when his girlfriends come over.

An experiment...

Let me paint a picture of myself this week for you.

Tuesday morning, reading emails on my prep period. I look around my classroom and see several stacks of ungraded paper, the board that needs labels, the blank bulletin board, the pile of books that needs organizing, the attendance binder that's ridiculously out-of-date and I don't really know what to do with, the desk that needs organizing, the files that need filing... you get the idea. I bury my head in my hands and wonder how on earth I can finish all of this.

Thursday night, I stayed at school until 645pm. I drive home, tired, but feeling like I had been productive. I get home to straightened living areas, thanks to my lovely husband. As I'm putting the breastmilk away I realize what I'm putting in there is ALL of the breastmilk I have. The baby is hungry, but I just pumped. I walk into our room which has been overcome by the mountains - plural - of laundry. Despite all my work today, I'm just more behind in other areas.

Saturday afternoon I ask, "Whose turn is it to pull off a paper chain?" [Our advent calendar this year is a paper chain, with each link having an activity on it.] My oldest good-naturedly replies, "Everyone's! We all missed our days!" I purposely made the weeknight activities to be very easy (the most difficult is "bake gingerbread" not coincidentally on the night before I'm supposed to bring gingerbread to school. Seriously, one says, "Eat candy canes.") So, we haven't even ripped off the chain for 3 days, and still haven't completed the 2 previous days' activities.

Every morning, I brush my teeth and wonder what I'd like to write about next. I count the days since my last blog post, and think, "If I really want to do this, I need to practice. I need to write." I rinse and spit, go on with my day, and don't write anything more than comments on essays and Facebook.

There's just not enough time in the day. I constantly feel overwhelmed. Part of this, I know, is due to postpartum anxiety. It makes me feel, well, anxious, about everything, all the time. I'm working on figuring out what all I need to be doing to combat it.

Every day, something tells me I'm not good enough. Not an actual person, but something. It might be the pile of dishes, laundry or ungraded papers. It might be the look on my kids' faces when I tell them we'll have to do today's, and yesterday's activities tomorrow, because it's already too late. It's the blog that sits unwritten for a whole week. It's the checking account, the fast food wrappers, or the cluttered bathroom counter.

I slide in a few minutes late to another meeting, the snarky, not in a good way lovely teacher beside me says, "Oh, I expect it now. You're just late. It's just you." I smile sweetly mention how my plate is very full and think, "You've known me for about 2 months, and that's what you got?"

So, I decided to conduct an experiment. And, of course, I need to document this experiment for my own sake, and you get to follow along and laugh support me! This is my so-ridiculously-simple-tons-of-other-people-do-it-all-the-time experiment: no TV, no leisure reading, no Facebook, no Pinterest between the hours of 630 am and 8ish pm (whenever the kids are in bed). I will only use the computer for work, and work includes writing, because I really want that to be my "work." I want to see just how much I can accomplish without those distractions. If I am working at all my jobs (teacher, mom, wife, etc) for those hours, and I still can't accomplish it, it doesn't need to be done that badly. Or, I need to cut back. This week, I hope to get some answers to that.

Does anybody want to join me? Is there anything that you need to cut out of your day so that you can focus on your job, or, like most of us, multiple jobs?

I find the strangest things...

That's a plastic fork. In my Christmas tree.

And that's another one. 
That is all.

Sunday mornings

I have a confession to make. I hate Sunday mornings. This sounds bad, being a pastor's wife and all. But that's why I hate them. I have 5 kids to get ready, largely by myself, as Pastor Hubby is usually gone before we all get up.

That's not all, though. I noticed, back when I had a measly 3 kids, that on other mornings, I could get all of us ready more easily than on Sunday. It was hard, but Sundays were killer. And, when I finished and we were all loaded in the car, on other days I felt like "phew. ok, now we can get on with _____." On Sundays, though, I was (am?) a crazy person. My mind is my enemy. Here's a small peek:

"I can't believe I couldn't find those shoes. I'm a terrible mom. She's wearing tennis shoes with her dress. Who lets their 2-year-old wear tennis shoes with a dress? No one who has their act together. At least she has on a dress. I should have just put her in jeans since I couldn't find the shoes. But none of her jeans are clean. Because I suck. I can't even keep us all in clean clothes. And, of course, I'm late. If one person says a single thing about how I'm late I'll tell them to shove it. I'll smile and say the minute they think they can get 5 kids aged 8 ready, in addition to themselves, they're welcome to take over, because I'm clearly bad at it. No. I'll just say they're welcome to come help me at any time and leave it at that. Kill 'em with kindness. or passive-aggressiveness, whatever. And if they say something about the shoes..."

Of course, this internal dialogue is punctuated by 47 questions until I finally yell, "I don't know! No more questions this morning!" Which in turn starts a whole new guilt-circle. "Why did I yell at them? I want them to ask questions. That's how lifelong learners are created. Will I ruin their curiosity if I keep this up?..."

Now, you might think that people routinely blast me at church, based on my statements above. But they don't. At least not at this church. So why do I get myself all worked up imagining insults? Because that's how Satan works. I don't believe in "the devil made me do it." I do believe he is alive and well, and does his best work by whispering our own failures into our ears. He makes it sound like it's our own voice (saying I'm a terrible mom) or others (who would bother to say something about my daughter's shoes?).

Almost without fail, I arrive at church on Sunday morning completely defeated. People smile and say, "How are you today?" I very often reply, "I'm here." I'm saying that it took every ounce of my energy and will to get here, but now I'm done. It's part truth and part shield. I am afraid they're going to say something negative; I hope that if they understand just how vulnerable I am at that moment, they won't.

An amazing thing often happens, though. By the time I get to church, I'm already broken. I'm already crying out for God's grace to relieve me from the misery of myself. I worship and I learn. I am made new, over and over again. I am able to say to Satan what Joseph said to his brothers: "You planned evil against me, but God turned it for good."

So, late this Saturday night, I'm doing something I've never done before. I'm welcoming it. Bring it, punk. My heart immediately says, "No! I take it back! Scott's preaching tomorrow! I don't want to be late!" But, I've been learning lessons lately about welcoming, even enjoying the hard times, because they make me stronger; they make me who I am meant to be. I mean, if it weren't for those two lines, I wouldn't be writing this now. I might be preparing to run a half-marathon tomorrow, but I wouldn't have run the marathon required of me this year. As hard as these lessons have been to learn, I wouldn't trade them.

I'm ready for tomorrow.
Yes, my mirror is dirty. You got somethin' to say?

New direction

So, I've always always always wanted to be a writer. This week, after my evil last class left, I decided I'm going to be! For the first time I took that little whisper from the back of my head, brought it to the front and declared, "I am going to become a writer." Obviously, I'll still teach for the children awesome pay health insurance. I like teaching, I really do (although that last period makes me want a refund on that degree nearly every day), but I love writing. Sometimes I feel like I have to do it or I'll explode. At those times, I usually write the things that have been on this blog up to now. The things that affect me, that change me in some way. But I also often feel like I have to write about the crazy, stupid, ridiculous stuff that happens to a mom of 5, teacher, and pastor's wife.

I considered starting a new blog, but I knew that I would never keep up 2 different blogs. Then I realized that reading about the ridiculousness of my daily life can only help people to understand the moments when I come to a new realization. I love Beth Moore. But I can't be her. I do not always have nice hair. I am lucky to have clean hair. I have to be the kind of person who will tell you about the time that her 2-year old would smear poop everywhere at every opportunity he got (and she consequently nearly lost her mind). The kind of person who would love to use cloth diapers but simply can't even keep clothes, blankets, sheets, and towels clean for 7 people. The kind of person who looks at her kid and cracks up because of what just came out of their mouth, leaving the kid standing there looking at her like, "What?" or, probably, "What is wrong with my mother? Are all mothers like this?" Or the one that laughs when she finds a poop trail because if she didn't laugh, she'd cry. The kind of person who sometimes has to abandon her family and head to Starbucks with a Bible and my macbook because I so badly need to hear what God has to tell me... and to write it down.

I have to be that kind of person, because I am her.  As a kid and teenager, I flip-flopped back and forth between trying to be the cool girl or the perfect girl (the two stereotypical pastor's kids). Then it was the perfect wife, then perfect mom, the crafty mom, the hippie mom, even the laid-back mom. None of those quite fit. They were like the PE clothes I got in 6th grade. I ordered a size medium because I desperately wanted to be a size medium and I didn't want the other girls to know I really needed a large. All that year, I had to wear too-small PE shorts, when my friends were wearing baggy ones. They were tight, and I felt like everyone could see just how fat I was (I probably wasn't actually fat, but I was a junior high girl, and unfortunately, that's somewhat normal in our culture). I realized that it didn't matter what the tag said; what mattered is how it fit me. So, I'm on an adventure to figure out just what type of writing fits me.

I'd like to invite you to come along with me as I share the stories of the daily life of someone whose cup is so full that it's always spilling over. Sometimes it's a beautiful mess, sometimes it's just a hot mess. Either way, I'll share and I hope we can help each other along the way.

A Small Gift in the Near-Dark

The dishwasher sits open, one lonely row of cups on top. The clean clothes are piled on the couch. The dirty clothes are a waterfall out of the hamper. I had to say, "Put on your pajamas" 847 times tonight. (I do have 5 kids, but it was way more than 5 times.) A handful of candy corn landed in my mouth, despite my attempt to detox from sugar this weekend (ok, several handfuls!). My new running shoes lay under other shoes, rejected.

This is my actual laundry. Not all of it, of course! 
"Why do I even try?" was the soundtrack of my mind. To keep the house clean. To ask them to do something. To be healthy. To fold clothes that will likely end up in the hamper while still clean. After I ran through all the reasons not to try at home, my mind drifted to work. Middle schoolers who have no interest in speaking English correctly, much less writing it well. Administrators who ask so many things of me that I can't keep track of them all. And then, society and politicians, who all want higher test scores with less money and no creativity. "Why do I even try?"

I was nursing the baby. She spit up on me. I added "to put on clean clothes" to my mental list of defeat. That was the metaphorical straw. Never mind that it was only a bit. Never mind that I hadn't even showered today, so to shower at night is no big deal. Never mind that I wasn't going anywhere. Never mind that I actually had another clean nursing tank (not in my drawer, but the pile on the couch). The tears fell out, unable to be held back.

Then, she looked right at me in the near-dark.

She smiled. She cooed.

All was not right with the world. But it was bearable. I thanked God for that small (and, at the same time, huge) gift.

I will not be able to keep the house clean any time soon. There will be overflowing hampers for years to come. (I can hear my mother's voice telling me that doesn't have to be true. She's so optimistic. It does for me - my emotions, my kids, my job, it will be true for some time, I'm sure.) But, there will also be smiles and giggles in this house. There will be cuddles and stories read and told. There will be PB&J dinners at the table and tents in the living room. There will not always be baby smiles and coos. I will miss this someday, they tell me. Someday, I will gladly trade the empty hampers and couches, the clean kitchen counters and even uninterrupted writing time to get back a big baby smile and sweet coo in the near-dark.

I try to do all that other stuff because it's necessary. I try and fail and fail in so many categories. But my babies are loved. More importantly, they know they are loved. I'd rather fail at everything else than at that.


God spoke to me today. Little old me. How much he must love me to speak to me personally.

It was chilly, so I ran in pants instead of my shorts with pockets. So, I had to stuff my iPod in my bra, on shuffle, and hope for the best. After I got started, I realized I hadn't read the devotional blog that I normally do (although, thinking now, I did, and I forgot!). I prayed, "God, sorry I didn't make time for that this morning, but please help me to focus now and see what You have for me today." I began running, first song was a great song from Glee. I often feel like God speaks to me through music so I was expecting some great Chris Tomlin or something. Next was something classical. Ok, I'll just wait for the next song. I focused on my run. My knees hurt. I really should try to buy new shoes. Horse crap on the ground and exhaust in my lungs. I hate East Las Vegas. Yadda yadda.

Before I knew it, I was almost home, classical music still playing, no revelations, no comforting words. I prayed again, "God, I don't need blogs or music to hear from You. Please, speak to my heart." I looked up to see bright green leaves against clear blue sky. I began to thank Him for sight, and He reminded me of my spiritual and mental sight. I looked out at the purple lines in the rock mountains that make me think of home. God whispered, "You love those mountains." I mentally nodded. I do. I love those mountains more than one should love a big chunk of rock. They're just so beautiful, the way you can see all the different types of rock.

I realized I had been focusing on how much I hated Las Vegas.

Above all the noise in my head, one sentence stood out. God said clearly, "What you dwell on will become your reality." 

I don't know if I've heard that before or not. It may not be original. I do know God said it to me this morning. I hope that, perhaps, He's saying it to you right now. 

You don't need blogs or music for God to speak to you, but I pray that He may occasionally use me and this blog to speak to someone, some time. 


About a week ago, my husband told me that my oldest daughter, 8, (Child #1) had told my dad (still with me?) that she wasn't getting much sleep at night. She said it was because her younger sister, 1.5, (Child #4) would bother her - she would climb into her bed and try to play with her, including her favorite game, which is to find your belly button (this, along with her squeals of joy and how she says "belly belly belly" is completely adorable and no one can resist ... except perhaps in the middle of the night). This, for some reason, because I was about 4 weeks postpartum, broke my heart and made me angry. I internally yelled at God. Why couldn't we have fewer kids? My kids can't even sleep at night! Why couldn't He give us a bigger house? Why does life have to be so hard for us? What am I doing wrong? My poor girl is not able to sleep at night!  And on and on my internal tirade went, complete with tears and feelings of being a complete failure. That day had actually been a really good day until that point, and my focus had been on trusting God. So, I (rather angrily) told God, "You fix this. You have to fix this." I expected He would make #4 sleep better, without bothering #1. I knew I was tired and hormonal, so I went to bed, still very upset. I woke up the next morning feeling both a bit ashamed over my reaction and the same sadness that my oldest was having to sacrifice sleep because she had to share a room with her sister. I feel like there's a fine line: older siblings should help and contribute without making them bear a large part of the burden of younger siblings and their care, so not having a solution for this made me feel like I wasn't doing my job as her mom.

Fast forward to two days ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she had bunk beds she was selling. I bypassed the post entirely, until Scott asked if we should ask about them for the girls' room. My first reaction was, "We don't have the money." and then "Why?" The more we thought about it, the more we realized that if we had bunk beds in their room, #1 could cuddle and read with #4 - one thing we all love about them sharing a room - and then go back up to her bunk where her sister couldn't reach! Brilliant! We worked it out with our friend, and got the bunk beds all set up this evening. What's even better is that a few weeks ago, another family friend approached me to say that she knew her daughter's quilt and my daughter's quilt were the same, and she didn't need hers anymore, so did I want it? I almost turned her down, thinking that #4 would be in her toddler bed, and whenever we bought a house they wouldn't share anymore... but she was excited and I found myself saying sure! [You have to understand how much I like matching and coordinating. Ever since my youngest son was born, they have shared a room, so they have also always had matching blankets. It makes me happy, even if I know it is entirely unnecessary.] Tonight, I put two of my girls to bed in their new beds, with matching quilts, the oldest safely out of reach.

Look up top. That is one happy little girl. 

Did I mention these bunk beds have little shelves above their heads? I've always liked that kind (a friend had them growing up). More importantly, it gives #1 a little bit of personal space, something that a young girl with 2 younger brothers and who shares her room with a 1-year old sister doesn't get much of. Something that I have coveted for her for a long time. She had her own room until about a year ago, when  #4 moved in, which wasn't too bad until she grew out of her crib. Then, she had nothing. She's had to hide and constantly move her special things, and sometimes throw them out when one of the youngers ruined it. My heart hurts when that happens. It might just be a picture she drew, but it's heartbreaking when she sees that one of them has ruined something her 8-year old heart cherished. What makes it even harder is that she generally has a good attitude about it. She gets this resigned look on her face and says, "Oh." and retrieves what's left. To give her one little shelf to hold and hide all her little girl treasures makes my heart smile. What's better is, I didn't ask for that. God knew it, though. He knew the desires of my heart - and hers, I'm sure - and granted them when I didn't even think to ask. He fixed my problem and threw in the solution to another one as well.

Now, I feel like such a doof. I mean, really. I angrily told God to fix it, and I don't really know if I truly expected Him to do it. I certainly didn't expect to have the answer a week later. The idea of bunk beds never crossed my mind. So, remind me, why do I have such a hard time trusting Him??


My mom asked me the other day, “What is it about having another baby that’s so bad?” And I didn’t really have a good answer. She said it was that it wasn’t in my plans, and that’s a part of it - a big part, even. But there’s something more. There’s something about it that made my faith fall and threaten to shatter into a million pieces, and I can’t place it. 

I think I feel like God failed me, which, when I think about the circumstances, is weird. Over and over again I’ve heard from well-meaning mouths, “Oh, well God just wanted you to have another one!” or “God must have special plans for this one/you.” We’ve had surprise pregnancies before - 3 others, in fact (a whole other post). But, with those, I could clearly trace back to some little - or big - thing that could make it my fault (don’t worry, no details forthcoming). This time, we crossed all our t’s, dotted all the i’s. Hubby had a vasectomy. He had a 6-month test. Test came back negative. One month later, I’m pregnant (although we didn’t know for another few weeks). This is weird because this was the time I thought *I* had it all under control. I wasn’t relying on God to not get pregnant, I was relying solely on my decisions. All those other times, when I made mistakes, that’s when it was “up to God” to stop it, right? This time, I was saying, “We got this! No worries, it’s all under control here.” 

But this time, it’s either a mistake from the doctor, or God who made it happen. Or, most likely, both - God used a mistake from the doctor to give us Jordan. I had to stop after writing that, and smile at His ways. He gave us Jordan. After we decided on the name (after she was born), my dad told me that the Jordan River is symbolic of obedience in the Bible. Jesus was baptized there, an act of obedience. The Israelites crossed the Jordan River in obedience to go into the Promised Land. So, God gave us obedience when we were trying to control our life. And, once we accepted obedience as the right course of action, we were blessed. (more on her name later, it's good stuff, if I do say so myself)

I look at her now, peacefully sleeping, and wonder why I did think it was so bad. And I remember times when she’s screaming, the 18-month old is trying to pat her too hard, the 3-year old is yelling and fighting with the 5-year old and the 8-year old is yelling “STOP FIGHTING!” in an attempt to help. All those times when I feel like the stress of this many kids is going to swallow me whole. All those times when I look around and think simply, “I can’t do this.” But that’s what He wants, isn’t it? He wants me to turn to Him and say, “I can’t. You go ahead.” 

I guess, again and again, it comes back to who is in control. I have to rely on God even more now. I don’t have the resources for 5 kids. I don’t have the time, patience, or money to do all that I want for my kids. So, I have to turn to him and let Him take care of them. Which is what He was wanting all along. I was mad because I wanted to handle life without needing Him. I wanted to manage, like I had been, struggling with my 4, but doing so on my own (and by on my own, I mean, me and Scott). I didn't want to have to rely on Him. Me in control. My plans, my work, my reward. Apparently, God has more for me. HIS plans, HIS work through me, HIS GLORY, His blessings. I keep forgetting that this life is not about me. It’s about Him and what He wants and His glory, not my plans or my control or my ability to handle things. So, maybe Mom was right ... at least a little bit. ;) [love you, Mom!]

Psalm 23

Isn’t it funny how sometimes you know something but you forget - or refuse - to practice it? I have learned so many times in my life that God alone is the source of peace that never fails. I have also learned that this peace is like food. I can’t eat once and live for a month. I have to eat several times a day. I’ll survive if I eat once a week, but it’s not truly living. So, I’m trying to establish a habit of going to God first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person. I {heart} sleep. So very much. So, at first, this habit consists of reading whatever devotional book, bible or blogpost that I can access without actually getting out of bed. One morning, I choose a book that has not really spoken to me in the past. It’s good; it’s just not my cup of tea. I choose a chapter in the front that sounds like it might help me right now and read it. Ok. Sorta meh. No earth-shattering, mind-blowing revelations. But, you know, that can’t happen every day. I was really looking for something that morning, but it’s not something that can be pushed. I find I can also reach my Bible, and start reading the section of Psalms that the author used as a reference. It’s an old Bible, one I used on my mission trip - another time in my life when I desperately needed God’s touch to make it through each and every day. I notice something underlined on the opposite page. Wouldn’t you know? 18-year old me underlined the very verse that’s been haunting me

Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” 

What I’ve never realized before is that this verse is in Psalm 23 - Psalm 23!  You know - “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil... Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me... He makes me to lie down in green pastures...” - that Psalm 23! Again, the quiet, little, loving thump on the head from God. “You feel like this is the valley of the shadow of death. This is hard for you now, I know. But I have green pastures waiting for you. I will comfort you. And I will overflow your cup with blessings.” 

You have to consider also the emotions that “green pastures” bring to this desert city girl. I love visiting places that are green. They amaze me. To be in a place where grass is all around is so calming to me. Whenever I’ve been in a place like that, I feel as if I could reach out and touch God. In each blade of glass, in the sunlight that’s so much gentler when it’s not reflecting off of rocks, dirt, or concrete, in the beauty of the gentle flowers or the strength of massive trees. That’s the image that God put here. That’s the chapter that has been on my heart from first learning this news. God, in his infinite wisdom, allowed me to be angry with him, to fight, to rebel against His will, and He dropped that verse into my head, knowing I would distort it! Also knowing that He would show me the rest when I was ready to receive it. It makes me feel like all of that wasn’t in vain. It was all God’s plan. All God’s plan for me to work my way through it, trudging through darkness in order to finally see the light. If it weren’t for the darkness, would the light have meant anything? 


Months later, I’ve accepted - even enjoyed - this truth that our family is now 7. I haven’t held her in my arms yet, but she’s definitely a part of this family. Yet, still, there’s this boulder in the pit of my soul that keeps asking those questions brought to the surface by those two little lines. What if all I’ve believed in is a fairy tale? What if all of this religion is just... religion? What if none of this really matters? Then, what? What purpose do I have? To raise kids? To teach English? It all seems so worthless then. 
And the day-to-day of the future still looms before me, like a mountain casting shadows over everything. How will I manage 5 children? All 8 and under? The youngest 3 will be 3 and under! I’ve known some wonderful moms to raise 3 kids 3 and under, but there are two more older! (Not to mention, those moms seem to be so much better at it all than I am.) How will we pay to feed them, clothe them, for childcare, for medical bills? The monthly budget is already stretched tight, with no raises for perhaps years in the future. 
With white knuckles, I try to hold on to the things that I’ve felt were true even in the darkest wells. Nature. Creation. It has to point to a Creator. But, does that Creator really care about me? The Bible seems to say so. Is that enough for me? That The Book says it’s true, so it must be? Do I need more? Does that make me a bad believer? I guess it doesn’t really make me a believer at all. If I have proof of something, then I don’t “believe” it; I know it. If I want to believe something, I have to trust something, namely the one telling me, or at least the facts presented. So, is that what I’m lacking? Trust? Is that why I’ve only attained “religion” and not “relationship”? Is that why I don’t believe, deep in my soul, that God delights in me, as so many have told me He does? Is it that I don’t trust? What, then, don’t I trust? God? The Bible? Christians? Well, I know the answer to one of those. I don’t trust Christians - people - in general. They’ll lie and cheat just like every other human. I trust individuals, but not all. So, then, is it the Bible? Is it God? 
It’s hard for a person with a brain wired like mine to trust in God. I don’t trust much of anything. I need proof. You tell me this medicine works - prove it. I want to see research. You are trying to sell me the best carseat/ minivan/ carpet cleaner? Prove to me why it’s better. Show me all the details of how it works, how the competition works and why yours is better. God doesn’t work that way. He operates on trust. If I have researched carseats until I’m practically an expert (and I have), it doesn’t take much for me to trust that the seat will do its job. I know it. I don’t believe it; I’ve seen the proof; I’ve broken down the facts and figures. I don’t believe it or trust it; I know it. I can’t do that with God. I can’t prove that He exists. Sure, there are apologetics, but there are plenty of naysayers too. I have to decide, I have to choose, to simply trust, blindly. No guarantee. Only hope. 
Is that such a bad thing? Hope. Hope keeps people going in the worst of situations. In fact, hope keeps people going - hoping - when the facts, figures, and research are all dismal. When the child is dying of cancer, the mother with hope somehow gets up every morning and cherishes the moments with her kid. The mother who believes, trusts, the doctors’ predicted outcome, what does she do? She puts on a happy face for her child? And if the child dies, then what does this mother have? The promised outcome? What does the other mother have? Does she still have hope? Some do. So, in practical terms, what does it hurt to hope? To trust? To believe? What do I have to lose? Discontentment, anger, pain, anxiety? What does not trusting truly give me? A sense of control, perhaps, but only a sense. If I don’t trust, and God is still really there, He’s still in control (allowing, of course, for my free will to make decisions to trust or not to trust). And all I have to show for it would be bitterness. 
So, if I’ve decided that trust is worthwhile, how do I transfer that from the practical part of me that sees the benefits of trusting, to the heart? The heart that hurts and isn’t sure? How does it become more than simply a practical way to live? Can I push my heart to trust? Will it obey my command? I suppose the Bible says it does. And if I’m going to trust God, I have to trust the Bible. I’ll give it a try. 
This mental struggle continues for days until, reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, she tackles this very issue. She struggles with these same questions: “Can trust be conjured up simply by sheer will, on command? I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me because it’s true: I can’t fill with joy until I learn to trust: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow’ (Romans 15:13)” It’s almost like God just thumped me on the head, saying, “I am the God of HOPE. I fill you with JOY and PEACE. But I do so only as YOU TRUST. And why? Why? So that you may OVERFLOW.” Now, I’m beginning to thump myself on the head. This image that’s been bothering me, this overflowing cup, spilling over and making a mess on the new tablecloth. He uses it again. This metaphor - HIS metaphor - that I’ve been distorting. This cleverness I feel I have, He smashes it. With a look that I’ve given my kids, that you-know-perfectly-well-that’s-not-what-I-meant look, He reminds me that He wants to fill my cup with joy and peace. And what have I been doing? Running away from him, hand over cup, yelling at him for doing so! When all I have to do is stop and trust that what He’s pouring in is good. 
What I realize as I’m reading this book is that, for a long time now, I’ve believed in God - in those things I keep coming back to: nature, photosynthesis, flowers, a Creator, but I haven’t necessarily believed in a good God. I’ve believed He was there, and even was in control. On a cognitive level, I’ve said that God wants what’s best for me. I’ve repeated that He will work for good for us. But, deep, down where my true beliefs lie, the ones that aren’t always clear or based on anything rational, I’ve not trusted Him. I’ve felt as though this Christian life is a series of hoops that must be jumped, trials that must be beaten, or simply lived through. Joy and peace had no place in this life I’ve been leading. It’s been drudgery. Just survive one more hardship, take a breath, and wait for the next one. Like that family friend that keeps dunking you in the pool over and over. You just have to get a breath long enough to make you survive the next one.
That’s not life. That’s nothing like joy and peace. Yet, God is offering joy and peace in the midst of all of this. How do I get it? I trust. I trust that He’s not dunking me in the pool, but holding me as the ocean’s waves crash over us. Keeping me afloat and safe when all I know is I can’t breathe. I am not even aware of all the trouble surrounding me, out there in the ocean, I think it’s a pool with a concrete bottom and steps to climb out. I’m thrashing, screaming for Him to let me go. Just let me go be with my friends, the ones I know are somewhere playfully splashing and doing handstands in the water. He knows. He knows every single danger waiting in the murky depths of the ocean. He won’t let me go, despite my pleas. If I would rest, simply trust in the strength of His arms to keep me safe, then I would have peace (and rest!). Then, I might be able to find the joy in the beauty of the landscape. But I can’t see those things while I’m desperately trying to convince Him that I know better. 

Two lines!

Two lines. No. This can’t be. Two lines. How? Immediately I think of the thousands of women who die inside monthly when there is only one line. Shame, guilt, fear and even anger fill me. Why? I don’t want two lines. They do. They deserve two lines. I don’t need any more lines! Shaking, I leave the bathroom and stand beside my husband. He’s talking on the phone. I stand and wait, wondering, What will he do? Will he simply melt to the floor, like that first time there were two lines? Will he be the rock of a man he’s become since then and hold me and tell me it will be okay, even when he doesn’t know how it will be? He notices my hovering and finishes his phone call. I hand him the stick and look into his eyes. He’s done this before. One look, and his eyes are back to mine, wide. “What? How is that even possible?” I shrug. It’s all I can do. Our oldest is silently watching this whole conversation, eyes like ping-pong balls, struggling to know all the information, like she has ever since she was small.

My first response is to call my midwife. “Um, I was just wondering what are the chances to a false positive on a pregnancy test.” I know the answer, but yet, I leave messages, and I search the internet, not finding the small ray of hope I had hoped to find.

A few hours ago, I told my husband that I should run to the store and buy a pregnancy test, it had been over a month, nearly two. I was still recovering from nursing, and of course it wasn’t possible; he had his vasectomy tested two months ago, and they said he was “all clear.” If I saw that doctor right now, I could punch him in the gut... or lower.

Over the next week, it’s phone calls and blood tests. The numbers aren’t right, you might be losing the baby. Sadness, but also relief. Oh, yes, God remembers that I can’t handle this. Not again. Not so soon. I ask God to show me some small sign, just to remind me that He loves me and He is in control. I ask for flowers. Just flowers. Could be from anybody, just send me flowers, Lord. Today. I know how people convince themselves astrology and other scams are true. They use vague language and when something vaguely corresponds - well, that’s it, then! No vague language here. Flowers. Today. For me. No pictures. Actual flowers. They never come. I silently give up.

At the ultrasound, in the very first instant I see the little body, a voice in my head surprises me by crying out, “Oh, let there be a heartbeat!” And there is.

I’m accepting for a day or two. Then, I remember the flowers. At first, I give up all faith. God is a joke. If He were real, if He really doesn’t give us more than we could handle, I wouldn’t be here, in this position. This loss of faith does not free me from long-held beliefs about the beginning of life and abortion, however. Even if it did, my husband is a pastor. To keep his innocence, I would have had to lie huge lies to him, something I could not have done.

Slowly, pieces of faith come back to me. Another long-held belief - about the complexity of things as simple as grass growing, photosynthesis, a body digesting food for energy - pulls me back to the belief that there is a God. The only plausible response, then, is that He doesn’t care. But if I believe in Him, I believe in the Bible. And if I believe in the Bible, I must believe that He has plans for us, “plans to prosper and not to harm.” That verse, Jeremiah 29:11, floats around in my head all day, like a bubble that won’t burst. I can’t combine it with the feeling that is in my heart. Fine, then. He has overall plans, He just must not care about daily troubles - such as flowers.

I operate in this manner for weeks. Slowly sinking into a depression that I know I must escape, for the sake of this baby, for my family. But I don’t know how. The “witty” remarks of other people don’t help.

We have had 4 children in a span of 6.5 years. Only one of them was even remotely planned. The others were all shocks, but none, not even the first, compares to this. He had a vasectomy for crying out loud! My mind is constantly in a battle with itself. Children are blessings. Yes, but I’m blessed enough, I truly wish someone else had been blessed instead of me. The Duggars make the argument that is someone offered you a million dollars, you would take it, no matter how much money you had, and children are worth far more than a million dollars. Honestly, if I had enough money to keep me and my kids taken care of for the rest of my life and someone offered me another million, I really believe I would say, “I’m good. Can you please give it to so-and-so? They really need it, and I’m doing fine.” Or, I would take it and give it away to whomever I wanted. Have you ever tried to plan a vacation for a family with 5 children? A trip to Disneyland would easily cost $3000. Have you ever thought of putting 5 kids into sports programs? Even if each played one, with 2 practices and 1 game a week, and say my 2 boys closest in age did the same one, that would be 12 outings a week, just for sports. Forget school, church, fun. And then consider the cost of those sports $100-150/season. Per kid. How about simpler things? Grocery shopping for 5 kids. Grocery shopping with 5 kids! This would be a good time to remember that all 5 will be born in a time-span of 8 years. Have you ever thought of what it would cost to clothe 5 kids? Even with hand-me-downs and bargain shopping, it isn’t a pretty bill. Then there’s the house. We have 2-to-a-room right now. The kids’ bedrooms won’t fit another person, another bed. The baby will be in our room for awhile, but how long until we have to move? Is there any chance that our kids will ever have their own rooms? When dad’s a pastor and mom’s a teacher? To go even simpler, how does one even spend private time with individual kids? We work hard to make that a priority right now, but add another one to the picture...

These thoughts are constantly conflicting with the shame and guilt of thinking them. Pictures of women who would gladly have a baby right now pop into my mind. I shove them out by thinking, “Fine. They can have him!” I know that once I see him, I’ll love him and could never hand him away, but that doesn’t stop my mind from running over all the thoughts mentioned and many more. Other thoughts are constantly in my mind - “Look how he clothes the lilies of the field...” He won’t give more than we can bear, Jeremiah, 29:11.

All the while, people are telling me, “God must have big plans for this one!” “Well, it was meant to be!” “Maybe this one will be president or another Albert Einstein!” Yeah, thanks. Oh, well, that never occurred to me. That makes everything better. Yes, you detect sarcasm here. I would smile and nod, even laugh. I do this well. I’m grateful for the friends who said, “Wow. That’s hard.” “I know you didn’t really want this right now. I’m sorry.” Christians don’t ever want to say things like that. It’s like it’s too close to pro-choice. I wanted to scream at times, “I don’t care what he’ll grow up to be! I don’t want to be pregnant! He could just as well have been president if he were someone else’s kid!”

I feel inclined to point out that there was a genuine concern for my health as well. I’m overweight. This is the 6th time I’ve been pregnant in 8 years. Each pregnancy has taken its toll on my body, and made the next one more difficult. I have extreme back pain. My ankles are the size of softballs at the end of the day. With the last time, it seemed as though my kidneys were not functioning at a good level. I try to avoid any and all medication during pregnancy and nursing, so this means another year and a half of pain without medicine, of migraines and wicked sinus headaches, of weekly chiropractor visits so that I can move, but not sweep, mop, vacuum, or pick up anything over 10 lbs from the floor. This is in addition to the normal pregnancy problems - morning sickness, heartburn, etc. I have never enjoyed pregnancy, because it is difficult on me.

A friend’s Facebook status quotes Jeremiah 29:11-12: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ —[this is] the LORD's declaration— ‘plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. [12] You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.’” Verse 11 is so often quoted without verse 12! The realization is sudden. I have to seek His face. I haven’t been. I’ve been focusing on me.

Saturday morning, I’m driving to school. A combination of songs on the radio and the knowledge that I need to seek His face slaps a realization into me. It’s not about me. It’s about God. This whole thing - this pregnancy, this day-to-day, this life, this existence - it’s not about making me happy, me getting what I want. It’s about God. He gave his life for me. I can deal with another 9 months of hard pregnancy. I can raise another child. I was created for His glory, not my own. I feel like slapping myself on the forehead! What was I thinking?

It’s amazing how that short sentence - it’s not about me. - lifts a burden from my shoulders. I have only focused on how it affects me. The memory that I am part of a bigger purpose, that I am just a small part of a large universe, that I am just a piece of God’s great puzzle, frees me from my selfishness. It frees me from focusing on how this baby will change our lives, my life. I feel as though I have suddenly discovered a ladder out of the well I’ve been living in since that day weeks ago when I saw two lines.

About Me

I titled this blog "My Cup Runs Over" because that's the picture I get in my head when I think about my life. It's based on Psalm 23:5, although, I confess, the phrase earned a spot in my heart in the movie Hope Floats. In the movie, the grandma says it as her heart is filled with love for her grandchildren. I have said it to my children in this context as well.

Recently, I've begun to see it in slightly a different light. In anger, I've thought about what happens when a cup overflows at my house. It makes a mess, possibly even a stain. The overflow is not useful. It seems wasted.

I alternate between these views of my cup - my life. Some days I can't believe all the blessings I've been given, and it seems unfair to others. Some days I can't control it; it's messy and I feel ill-prepared to handle it all.

I don't know all, or many, of the answers. This is my struggle to figure out what I can. I'm sharing it mainly for my own therapy, but also in case it might help another. I make no apologies for my emotions, because I'm human. They may be wrong, in fact, I know some of them are wrong. I will deal with them with God, because He is the only One who truly knows my heart, and the One to judge it.

As for the basics, I am a mom to 5, a Southern Baptist pastor's wife, and an English teacher. I live in Las Vegas and have for most of my life. I grew up in a Southern Baptist home; my father is also a pastor.