Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Note to the Moms. The War on Girls.

There are things in life I really don't like.  Butterflies.  Celery.  The humidity of summer.  Cloves.  Manipulation.  Paper cuts.  Something being dropped on my foot.  Clowns.  Colic.  Crowds.

This may be where you click the little X at the top of the page and move on.  I'm okay with that.  This may be the part where you contact the friend who sent you this link and tell them what a conservative, close minded moron I am and how I am living in the dark ages.  I'm okay with that too.
But you know what I am not okay with, nor will I ever be okay with?

Children not being made to live their lives as  children.  

It's innate, isn't it?  From the time we are old enough to realize we are younger than everyone in our play group (somewhere around the age of 1), we start trying to be older, bigger, and wiser than we really are.  We make the same noises our older siblings make.  We try to dress like them.  Talk like them.  Walk like them.  Because they're older, they're cooler, they have more life experience than we do-- which infinitely pushes them up to the top of the awesome chain which we find ourselves the smallest and most insignificant link of.   We hate the process of waiting.  Whether it's in a drive-thru line for a cheeseburger or for a child to take his first steps, we want time to fly by quicker than it does.  We live in an instant society.  And from that tender age when we start measuring ourselves up to our older peers, we start realizing the lack that is found in the stage we are in.

"When I grow up, I'll get to stay up later, right Mom?"
"When I'm 10, I'll get to fly to Grandma's by myself."
"When I'm 16, I'll get to drive to the mall."
"When I'm 18, I'm out of here."

There's nothing unnatural about this process, and there's ultimately nothing wrong with the desire to mature.  After all, that's what growth is all about.  Wanting, striving, and moving toward being more.  Being better.  Being older.  

Why being older?   What is it about being older that so appeals to young ones and makes them so aggressive to attain it that they bypass childhood altogether and live as little adults from before puberty even hits them?  What does being older  mean?  Well, I can only ascertain from what I see that it's not the immense responsibilities and stresses that come with adulthood that draws them in.  It's not the art of balancing marriage/kids/work/family/friends/finances/church/extracurricular activities/health that tempts them like pickles to a pregnant woman.  Could it be that they are only attracted to the parts that appeal to that devious nature inside each of them?  Could it be that they are innately attracted to the shiny parts only, the rebellion flowing so deeply through them like an underground Amazon?
Could it be that those of us who ARE older are living a life that draws an unnatural desire forth in them to bypass time, decency, and even morality to attain it?  Could it be that those of us who are older think older means we are free from responsibility and ethical compasses of our own?
I'm gonna go on.  Feel free to read no further if you choose.  But if you feel like championing this war we are in for the hearts of our children-- and in particular, the hearts of our girls, can I challenge you?

Our girls are being taught by society that being female equals being sexual.  And because you're sexual, you must be provocative.  After all,  you have breasts and you should show them  You have hips,  and you should share them, And you have a rear-end that sticks out,  so it should be paraded.  Sex, and in particular, women in sexual situations sell everything.  Give a well endowed woman a jar of mustard, stick her in front of a camera, and you can make millions off the yellow condiment, even if it tastes like mud.  Want to sell the world's ugliest socks?  Make a woman look like she's begging for sex and that those socks are the winning ticket, and you'll retire off the dividends.  It. Is. Ridiculous.  And yes, as much as I would love to place the blame for this on things like Victoria's Secret,  the porn industry, and even the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, I'm afraid to report that the source of this problem is much closer to home.

Moms, the problem is us.  

Think about it.  What are we instilling in our girls when we buy them underwear that we didn't even wear until we were married?  What does it say about getting physical attention when we throw them to the wolves by buying them sweatpants with a word written on the butt of them?  What does it say to our young ladies about the eyes being the "gateway to the soul" when we ourselves are taking those ridiculously stupid bathroom pictures (you know-- the ones where you stand in a totally unnatural position so to capture both your breasts AND your butt in the same mirror shot with the toilet lurking like a troll in the background)?  What does it say to them about modesty and humility to see us dressed in less than our bra and underwear (which we call a swimsuit) at a public beach?  What does it say to them about men when we degrade men with our words and watch television shows that participate in female chauvinistic humor toward men?  What does it say to them about patience and waiting when we dress them like teenagers long before the curves even appear on their little bodies?  What does it say to them about the paramount importance of inner beauty when we show zero integrity in our daily relationships and daily life but yet show off our bodies like they are center stage of life's big happy festival?

I. Am. DONE.  

I am not a perfect mother.  In fact, I fail daily.  And more than once a day.  But dadgum it...  I REFUSE to let my daughter get sucked into an undercurrent of an ocean that wants to suck the very soul out of her.  I REFUSE to.  I refuse to let her sell her worth through the shape of her hips instead of the content of her character.  I refuse to let her get sucked into a black hole of lies that teach her that a "confident" woman dresses however she chooses and shame on the man that looks at the flesh she's exposing.  I refuse to have a toddler in stilettos because it's "cute" (it isn't), or a middle school in a g-string.   I refuse to raise a daughter who doesn't see the value of being a loving  caregiver to her husband and children but who chooses to sacrifice them on the altar of career equality so she can prove a point.   Will she make mistakes?  Yep.  Will she struggle with her identity and worth along the way while she grows?  Yep.  Will she, in spite of how many things we do right as her parents still violate wisdom and break our hearts?  Yep.

Will I do it all right?  Nope.

Here's the deal.  A person's prefrontal cortex part of their brain-  the part where good judgment and common sense comes from, doesn't mature until somewhere around age 25.  This means that there's a wild, untamed part of us that wants to sow our wild oats, break the rules, bend the boundaries, and skip over the fine print whenever possible.  This sneaky, rebellious bend in us manifests the moment we take our first breath. We become self-centered, egotistical, narcissistic, and me focused right away.  And somehow,  we still want to live like that cortex is incomplete as grown ups.  And we think the codes of conduct and morality we expect our children to live by don't apply to us as adults.  We can say what we want, dress how we want, drink as much as we want, sleep with who ever we want...  As if the "right" to do all this becomes ours at adulthood's threshold-- discounting what the actual Word of God says about how to get the best life possible on this earth while we're on it.

Could it be that we are raising a generation of women who have lost the elegance and class that once defined femininity?

Could it be that gender roles are becoming so watered down (thank you, feminism), that roles like Mommy and Wife mean nothing any more?

Could it be that we are producing a whole entire nation of young women who never taste the power of modesty because of the bitter remnants of immorality and sexual proclivities?

Could it be that the incessant pushing of the boundaries they are participating in is being modeled in front of them, not by older siblings or media, but by their own moms?

Could it be they aren't falling for the old "do as I say, don't do as I do" routine?

Could it be that they learned it all from us-- the ones who are older?

Wake up, Moms.  You and I have been mandated to teach our girls the lost arts of cooking.  Cleaning.  Homemaking.  Raising babies.  Loving our husbands.  Showing kindness.  Vulnerability.  Strength through dignity.  Humility through modesty.  Pride in our character.  Pride in our personalities.  Pride in our bodies.

Every day, your daughter is a day older.  Every day, a day closer to being a wife, a mom, an employee.  Or, a day closer to being someone's object.  Someone's property.  Someone's eye candy.  There is literally power in your choices to shape her final outcome.  We can't blame it all on daddies or the lack of them.

You're  her example.  You're her hope.  You're her reason.  You're  her story.

You're  her mom.

Be the elegant, graceful, sassy, confident, inwardly beautiful woman God created you to be.

And she will follow in your footsteps.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Is This Your First Time?

If you're a mom, you've been there. Whether you gained your baby through childbirth or adoption, there was a time when you had a bag packed and sitting by the door, an anticipatory car seat installed in a mini-van, and a crib all freshly made awaiting a tiny tot.

I am by no means a veteran mom. After all, I'm still raising mine. However, I am done with my childbearing stage. Done with the newborn stage. My youngest will toddle soon, and the rest, as you know, is history.

I LOVE seeing first time mommies prepare. I love looking back on my own expectancy with my first baby and remembering the excitement that you only feel that first time. I also love the look on their faces when they talk about how much longer it is until they hold their miracle in their arms. It's a look of both fatigue and rejuvenation-- of both dread and excitement-- of emotion and expectation that you only possess that first time around.

It's been many moons since my bag was packed for that first labor and delivery. A long time since I felt that initial gasp. Many sleepless nights since the car seat was filled the first time. But you know what? It's as fresh on my mind as it was almost a decade ago. And the lessons just keep on coming.

There's alot of expectant mommies around me right now. So many births to look forward to. So many sweet faces to see for the first time soon. So many miracles to celebrate. I can't wait to watch their lives unfold-- both the child and the mommy who is born that day, too. So, to all you soon-to-be-moms-for-the-first-time, here's a little advice from my heart to yours. (And all you other BTDT moms, feel free to add your advice on here or on this link when it's posted on Facebook!)

1- You will never feel this way again. Yes, you'll feel JUST as excited the second or tenth time around. But this is your FIRST time. And you'll never ever feel the excitement over the great unknown you're about to enter ever again. Soak up the innocence and naivety of this moment. It's precious and it will soon be over.

2- You will feel a wave of panic you've never felt when you hear the doctor/midwife/nurse say, "You're ready." It's ok. The panic will pass and you'll survive.

3- You will pack the bag with every little thing you think you'll need. You'll have the cutest nursery in the world for baby to come home to. You'll have every bell, whistle, and accessory known to man. But you'll soon figure out you have NO IDEA what you're doing. It's ok.

4- You're about to learn the literal meaning of "love hurts."

5- Your body will never feel the same way ever again, even when you lose the baby weight and get back down to three pounds smaller than before you birthed. And you won't really be able to figure out what the heck is different. You'll weigh the same or less than before you conceived but your clothes will never fit the same way again. File this mystery with where missing socks go, who killed JFK, and what the heck it is about a sign saying paint is wet that makes us want to touch it.

6- You will cry for no reason after that baby gets here. And you will suddenly understand why people go so over the edge about their opinions on vaccines, gun control, and helmet laws.

7- You'll second guess yourself for a couple of weeks-- is she too cold? Is she hungry? Is she in pain? But trust me. Soon, you'll hear her say, "EH," and you'll know-- oh, she has an ear infection in her left ear and she wants Goldfish crackers. Just. By. That. Sound.

8- Rarely anything is as scary as it seems. This includes the first fever of 104, poop that oozes out of his onesie, and the terrible barking cough.

9- You will soon hear people say, "I'm tired," after working a long week of work, and you'll fight the urge to laugh uncontrollably and punch them in the face at the same time. Because you know what you do when you're a mom and you're "tired"? You keep going. And you drink coffee. Or Monster.

10- You will get why people take their kids to Target in their pajamas and with their faces crusted with baby food and dried milk.

11- Your husband is capable of WAY more than you give him credit for. Trust him. Rely on him. Use him. And thank him. Oh, and don't feel the LEAST bit guilty for leaving Little Sunshine with him for a day or an evening out. Or two.

12- You will not scar your child by letting him stay at Grandmas or Aunt Helen's for a night. He won't forget who you are. And trust me. There will come a day when you'll HOPE he forgets you're his mom- like when he acts like scorpions are attacking him in Publix because you said he can't have a cookie.

13- He/she won't be perfect. And no matter what you dress him/her in for the day, chances are the outfit will be forever destroyed by vomit, a juice spill, or pizza grease. So, enjoy it the first time he wears it because it may be the only time.

14- Things can be replaced. This includes but is not limited to: carpet with red punch poured on it, couches bearing purple handdrawn dinosaurs, purses that bottles get spilled in and you didn't know until it was soured and/or moldy, and cell phones dropped in toilets. And yes, your perfect newborn will grow to be a toddler who WILL do one of the above.

15- You'll feel like you're treading water and drowning at least three times in the first month. We all survived. And you will, too.

16- You'll say, "What's wrong?" alot to your baby. And he won't answer. Sucks.

17- You'll rejoice because your 3 week old slept all night. She may even do it until she's 3 months old. But wait for it. She will change the game up. I promise. Sorry to bear bad news. But just expect it. Again-- sucks.

18- The first time she does sleep all night, you will awaken from your own sleep by the sun peeking in your window and you will totally freak with panic and run like the speed of light into her room to make sure she's breathing. She will be. And you'll rejoice at the major victory of a good night's sleep by calling every one you know and making it your Facebook status.

19- You'll also desperately need a nap by noon.

20- You'll soon understand why Redbox and Netflix were created... For parents of babies. Because all your non-parenting friends will be over there like, "Heyyyy, we just saw Twilight part 10 in the theatre," and you'll be like, "Heyyyyy, I watched part 3 on DVD from Redbox last night because going to the movies would require a sitter who can speak colic, the strength for me to shower before 4 pm, and timing the movie to be home in time to do my favorite thing in the world--- PUMP!"

21- You just THINK you liked date night before a baby. Muahahahaha! That was called "Every day it's possible." Now, date nights are revered, looked forward to, and treated like the Holy Grail of your month. Suck the life out of each one of them.

22- You'll check your phone every 3.2 minutes on date night to make sure the sitter hasn't 911'd you and your phone failed. I promise you won't even look at it by the time child 2 comes around. You may even put it on silent.

23- Remember all those time you said, "When I have kids, I will..." or "MY kids aren't gonna be allowed to..."??? Yeaaaaah. Whatever.

24- You'll start liking your mom a whole lot more and will often BEG for her forgiveness for your own childhood debacles.

25- You'll feel like Mother's Day was created just for you. And you will beam with pride from sun up to sun down that first Mother's Day. (You'll be awake for both).

And the most important one--
26- You'll wash. Pack. Plan. Read. Theorize. Anticipate. Imagine. Study. Learn. Prepare. Organize. Paint. Create. All to get ready for his arrival. You won't be ready. You won't have thought of it all. There isn't a birth plan or an expert on the globe to mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually prep you for the trek you're embarking on. So just go with it. Let the chips fall where they may. Ask for wisdom from God, your mom, your sister, and your own heart. 99% of the time, you'll figure out what to do.

And that other 1%? That part is what makes life so interesting.

Congratulations, Momma. Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Check up on a Check list.

It's not that I've learned it all. It's just that the older my daughter gets, the more I remember hard and/or valuable lessons I've learned along the way. Ones I wish I could peel her little hard head open and pour into her so she wouldn't have to bleed or cry or hurt to learn. I mean, I'm not saying I would wrap her in bubble wrap if I could. But I might be saying I would poke holes in the wrap in just the right places for her mouth and nose to be able to breathe. Is there something wrong with that?

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. That's what I know for sure. And lessons will be learned our whole lives. Some by the humility of taking advice from those around us with a few more miles on their odometer. Some by sheer ignorant decision making. And some by being so freaking hard headed, we wouldn't need a helmet in the NFL.

Every once in a while, I like to re-evaluate the lessons I want to teach my kids. I do this to keep my focus. But I also do this to remind myself that it's ok for our kids to hurt every once in a while. Because like it or not, sometimes pain is a sign of life. And sometimes pain is the only teacher we will listen to. Today, here's some lessons I have on my heart for Abi still to learn.

1- You won't be good at every thing you try to do, nor every thing you WANT to do. And you'll need people of brutal honesty to tell you that you suck at it so you won't look like a dingbat and waste valuable time and energy trying to make something fit that doesn't. Lucky for you, I'll tell you the truth. So call your mom alot.

2- Sometimes people are mean and you won't ever know why. But if you ask God to let you see with His eyes, He will show you the parts you need to see so you won't want to punch them in the face quite so badly.

3- Boys are not all bad. Some of them are terrible. And my job, along with your sweet daddy's, is to help you look past a boy's eyes and into his character. You are royalty. And you won't be allowed to associate with anything or anyone less than royalty. The end and you're welcome.

4- The other day when you ran into that boy in church and he dropped all his stuff on the ground, I saw the look on your face when you knelt down to help him pick it up immediately. And I saw you pat him on the shoulder, silently apologizing when yall stood back up. And in that moment, my heart almost burst with pride at the innate kindness inside you.

5- You're beautiful. You won't always feel beautiful. You'll feel fat, or ugly, or awkward, or undesirable. And to be honest, some days the mirror just doesn't lie. But emotions DO lie. Remain beautiful in your heart and you'll feel beautiful whether you have PMS or are having a skinny day.

6- Great marriages don't just happen. You don't fall in love and remain magically connected because you're "soul mates." Great marriages are a steady work of progress and alot of apologizing and changing. Fairy tales are sweet. But you don't live in a tower, have birds that sing to you, or own a pair of glass slippers. Your daddy isn't a king, your mom doesn't own a magic wand, and there is no handsome man living in the woods outside our home waiting to give you a rose as you walk through with your pet rabbit that talks. You'll meet a guy, you'll like him, he will like you, and real life will begin. And it won't be beautiful always. But it will end with a happily ever after if you follow the examples we have surrounded you with.

7- You will learn to make biscuits the way I make them, the way your Gia makes them, the way your great-grandma makes them, and her mom, and so on..., or you'll never get a driver's license. This is not negotiable.

8- Alot of your friends' moms will be more "progressively minded" than your mom. Your mom will always be the homemaker, the cook, the cleaner, the clothes shopper, the menu manager, the referee, the nurse, and the counselor of your home. And your mom is training you to be just as old school as she is.

9- Be quick to apologize. When you're wrong. Not when you're trying to just make peace. You're wise-- you're not a doormat.

10- You can't fathom this right now, but you will be best friends with your brother one day. The two of you will laugh at me behind my back and recount stories of my epic fails and epic embarrassments. He will need you. And you will need him. And no one on this planet will love you the way he does. Being kind to him now equals a foundation that a seismic earthquake cannot destroy.

11- You will cry alot in your life. Sometimes it won't make sense to anyone, even you, as to why you're crying. Go ahead and cry anyway. Like, boo-hoo and ruin your makeup if you need to. You'll be stronger for it and you can always put makeup back on.

12- Some things are not ok in the generic form. Like: Coca-Cola, toilet paper, permanent markers, and friends. Choose friends that are anything but generic. Because you become like who you hang around. And my dear, generic is not in one cell of your DNA. Stay name brand. You're the real deal.

13- I know you love people. You share your daddy's heart. But sometimes, you will just need to unplug from people and get them the heck out of your head. There's beauty in being alone. Alone is where you learn most about yourself.

14- Always leave a place in better condition than it was in when you arrived there. Or I will find you. And it won't be good.

15- If I ever have to show up somewhere (even if you're 30) and remind you of who you are and WHOSE you are, it won't be good.

16- If you have doubts about his character, he's not the one.

17- If you'd be embarrassed for your Paw to find you there, the answer is no.

18- Settle now in your little heart in these innocent days that some body parts are best left unseen (by everyone but one man). Make guys guess about you. Showing them everything before they deserve it is just sad. Be a woman of mystery. Make him earn every piece of your heart. And every piece of your body.

19- Standing at a ridiculous angle in front of a bathroom stall and sticking your butt out in ways normal people do not stand in every day life to get a picture to post on Facebook is not an option for you. You're showing your pretty face in a photo. Not your butt, your cleavage, or your legs. You're not a contortionist, so please stand straight. And if I ever see a toilet in the background, it won't be good. Be classy, for Heaven's sake.

20- We will continue to push you, demand excellence from you, expect kindness and manners from you, set firm boundaries for you, and make tough choices for you. We will not be friends with you, and will not treat you as the adult you are not.

21- You will know how to change a tire, check your oil, mow a yard, and use a tool box so that you will be capable until you find the man who will do that stuff for you.

22- You won't be able to dress like a hoochie until you're old enough to choose to do so yourself. And hopefully by then, we will have shown you how ridiculous it would be to do so.

23- All the little things I make you go back and re-do, like putting your shoes IN the basket instead of next to it, putting your bowl IN the sink instead of near it, and putting the couch cushions back in place instead of NEAR the couch are teaching you much more than housekeeping. I promise.

24- Sometimes, your heart will break so hard, you swear you'll never find all the slivers and pieces again. But you will. And even your darkest hour only has 60 minutes in it.

25- Love is hard to come by. If it's easy for you to say "I love you" to a boy, it's not love. It should make you so nervous, you swear you'll faint the minute it leaves your mouth. Because love is risky. It's sacred. And it's not found every day.

26- Sometimes, going to bed is like hitting the restart button because the day sucked so bad. Sometimes, a midday nap is the same thing.

27- I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever stop believing in you. Even if you begged me to stop. Or spit in my face. Or turned your back on me. Or turned your back on Him. Or ran away from me as far as you could possibly run. My belief in you is based on the fact that I carried you, I bore you, and I see in you what you won't see in yourself for many years from now. I don't love you because I have to. I love you because you're as much a part of me as the breath in my lungs right this second. And you'll hate me, you'll avoid me, you'll wish anyone else on the planet was your mom but me. But I'm her. And you're mine. And if I could go back and choose to do one thing differently leading up to your conception, I would leave every single piece untouched. Because I needed you. And I will never stop loving you with a ferocious love that cares not if you love me back. I'm the most furious hurricane in your life, little mama. And you will never get a break from me.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pro-life. No apologies.

As I often do, I'll start this blog with a few disclaimers.

1- I am pro-life. Like, 100%, unwavering, completely and totally in every circumstance, pro-life.
2- I am not opening this up for debate, nor am I looking for you to tell me why I am close-minded or idealistic by being so staunchly pro-life.
3- I do not judge people who have had abortions, nor do I judge people who are pro-choice. Judging means that I put myself in a place to think I am better than you and gives me the governing power to decipher why you believe what you believe. Your beliefs are between you and God, and I do not give myself the false power that comes with thinking I am better than you, more righteous than you, or a better parent than you because I chose life for my babies.

4- I am fed up with hypocrisy.

Today, my fire all started with this article. This is not a debate on surrogacy, nor will I weigh in my personal thoughts or feelings on the topic of surrogacy. What I WILL weigh in on is this.

Shame, shame, shame on us. We've now put a price tag on a human life. And it was a measly $10,000.

You know what? I'm sick of hearing that this kind of "thought" is the government's doing. The fact that we are now stepping over into a Hitler style era of "Survival of the Fittest" is not a Democratic Party problem. It's not a legislative problem. It's not a Supreme Court problem. Not a school system problem. The "problem," my friends, is that WE, the PEOPLE have failed to see the value of a human life. The "problem" is that we have put ourselves in a place of God-likeness and have given ourselves the power to pass or fail a human's existence based off of what we see. Let's not forget that a people once gave a man power to decide the fate of human lives, and 6 million people who didn't meet his stamp of approval were annihilated.

The "problem" is that we have failed at morality. And it starts at home.

I am clearly a mother. The moment sperm met egg in my womb, I became a mother. And my moral obligation to my children was mandated as more than just the obvious charge to carry those babies to term and give them their right to live. My moral obligation also was mandated to be to teach them valuable and critical life lessons from infancy. Back to the fact that I am fed up with hypocrisy.

I am fed up with a hypocritical society that tells me a cat's life or the life of HER unborn "babies" are more protected than the life of a child who was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome in the womb. I am fed up with the word "fetus", plain and simple. I'm a person, always been a person, and will forever be known as a PERSON. Not a fetus. (Oh, but I get it. Saying, "Let's terminate the fetus" sounds a heck of a alot easier to swallow than, "Let's slaughter your unborn baby.") I am fed up with hypocrisy that grants more privileges, rights, and freedoms to predators who commit heinous crimes against children than actual children themselves. I am fed up with hypocrisy that lends more praise to the beauty of a tree than the beauty of a child born with no limbs or a cleft palate. I am fed up with hypocrisy that justifies two convictions of vehicular manslaughter to a drunk driver that kills a mother and her unborn child, yet would protect her rights to destroy the child if she were on her way to an abortion clinic to "get rid of it". I am fed up with hypocrisy that screams and chants equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientations yet remains mutely quiet when it is asked to speak up for a child who literally has no rights at all and is given no right to be born.

Clearly, I am old school. I still believe in keeping my babies with me until kindergarten as much as possible. I love the thought of the man being the primary breadwinner and the wife taking care of the home. I think men should do yard work and house maintenance and women should keep her family fed, clean, and laughing. I understand alot of my peers don't feel this way, and I can't tell you how OK I am with that. In fact, as much as I disagree with today's gender neutral roles in our families (if God wanted our roles the same, we would have been created sexually neutral), I "get" why today's roles are the way they are. But moms, dads... there are some truths that transcend time. There are issues of morality, justice, and righteousness that matter not what decade we find ourselves in, and that should not be held subject to our economic or cultural climates, but should in fact turn the tide for the economy and the culture. What about THOSE things? What have we taught our children about the sanctity of LIFE? What have we taught them about human DIGNITY and WORTH? What about the principles of speaking up, and speaking LOUDLY when injustice is being done? What about being the voice of the victims and the powerless? What about speaking kindly about other people in front of our children, so they see we value the lives of even those we don't get along with?

I know, I know, I know. There are the arguments that it's unfair to bring a child into extreme poverty. The arguments that rape took a mother's power from her and she shouldn't have to bear a child who is a by-product of that crime. The arguments that say a child born with little brain function and no legs will have a terrible quality of life and shouldn't have to live one day of it. The arguments that say, "It's easy for you to advocate life when your children are healthy and your marriage is healthy and you haven't had to live one day of my story." The arguments that sometimes abortion is an act of mercy for all involved. If there's one thing ministry has taught me in the last twenty years, it's that someone, somewhere has lived a story very similar to yours and has overcome the odds. I can show you several parents who were advised to abort after an ultrasound showed grave danger for the baby, the mother, or both. I can let them tell you themselves how eternally grateful they are for the precious lives they were entrusted with-- how every burden they've borne with those special little ones have only deepened their love for them and for their Creator. I can show you a mom who was told to abort her baby girl because of a very dangerous birth situation that could kill them both. That girl is a teenager who is more than well today. A single mom who is so happy that her special needs child who was conceived in rape has stood as a testimony to her of the goodness of a merciful God.

Here's what all of them have taught me.

Life isn't convenient. It isn't always planned, isn't always orderly. Sometimes it hurts so bad you don't think you'll be able to take another breath, and then the very next breath could offer laughter from your toes. Sometimes you map out your life only to turn around and see you had it upside down the whole time. Children have a way of ripping the carpet out from under your feet and making you fall flat on your rear end. Then they spit up on you, blow a diaper out, get an ear infection, and change up their sleep habits a few times while you're down on that floor. Sometimes, they aren't born with all the parts we hoped they'd have. Sometimes their faces don't look like we hoped and their brains don't function like we planned. Sometimes they have to fight for their lives through machines and tubes and wires.

They shouldn't have to fight for their lives before air even touches their faces.

It's a sad world when a mother's wishes can supercede a child's needs. When she can decide whether or not it's "convenient" to bring her child forth.

And what does it say about us when we opt out because we aren't satisfied with the "quality" of the life we've created? My warning to you is this. Before you discount the life of a baby who will be born with a facial disfigurement or a brain impairment, you better be sure the powers that be are happy with your eye color and ethnicity. After all. History does repeat itself. In fact, it already has.

Eight times over since 1973.

Monday, February 25, 2013

He's One.

It's been 365 days. A whole year.

And I'm not entirely sure where it all went.

I remember that there was ALOT of sleep loss. ALOT of crying for about a month (both him and me). ALOT of poopy diapers. ALOT of changes. ALOT of swaddling. ALOT of calling my sister for advice. ALOT of praying. ALOT of "what the heck did we get into."

And ALOT-- and let me reiterate ALOT of love.

What do you say about the Other Man? The one you didn't see coming who swept you off your feet right under the nose of your husband? What do you say about the fact that your heart flutters at just the sight of him, and especially when he's sleeping in your arms or leaning in for a sloppy wet kiss?

I adore this baby.

Here's some of my favorite days since this time last year.

My Son,

Will you please slow and AND hurry up? Slow down the independence, the separation from me. Slow down the loss of the chub on your legs, the roundness of your face, the baby-ness of your smile. Slow down the speed of which you're learning new words, realizing the world is a little scary, and processing all this data we throw at you. Slow down the disdain you have toward your sister so much (I didn't think this started this early) and slow down the linebacker's aggression you possess toward 99.99% of life.

But hurry up and say "I love you, Momma." Hurry up and pick me flowers and tell me I'm pretty. Hurry up and draw me a picture of the sky with an airplane in it. Hurry up and want a dog so Daddy will get us one. Hurry up and take up for your sister for a change.

But stay little while you do all this, please.

Little enough for me to pick you up and put you into bed at night. Little enough to look at me first when you fall down and your knee is skinned. Little enough to think it's funny when Daddy kisses me or I sing in the shower. Little enough to fit on my hip. Little enough to tug at my dress hem from the floor with your little arms reached toward me. Little enough to smile every time I walk into the room, even if you saw me 2 minutes ago. Little enough to think I can fix anything, be anything, and say anything and it's just about perfect to you.

This year, you changed my life. I'd never had a son before. I wasn't sure how this would work. Oh, don't get me wrong. I was ready for the messes you'd make, the spaces you'd consume. I was prepped for the ridiculousness of boys through your cousin. I was told of your total opposite nature to all things familiar to my feminine world. I knew I would love you as much as I love your sister. But I wasn't prepared for how you would love ME.

For how your eyes would sparkle at me and only me. For how you'd find the perfect place in my arm and nestle in there every night as we lullaby. For how you would choose me (almost) every time over all the other arms that want to hold you at any given moment. For how you'd whine for me, crawl fast toward me, squeal with delight over me, and in doing so, melt me like a Popsicle in July. For how you'd say so much with so little words when I'd catch you staring at me with admiration, and upon catching my eye, simply grin, lips closed. For how you'd restore my joy on so many tired days, refocus me on scattered days, and push me to the brink of my patience with your personality that is so much like my own.

You and I are a special ticket, my boy. I love you fiercely and furiously, like a wildfire out of control. You stretch me beyond belief. You force me to slow down and prioritize. You make me laugh until I cry. You make me cry until I weep.

And you're the last line of the song God chose to write for me.

I have enjoyed this year more than I can express with words. And to think I get to have the passenger's seat for the next 17 or so fills me with joy from my head to my feet. Your delicious face is my crowning jewel. And your adventurous heart is my treasure. Your strong will, my challenge. And as we help guide you into being the man you'll become, I fall upon God's mercy and guidance to lead us. Here's to you, my prized son. My delight, my love.

We're just getting started. And I can't wait for the rest of it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bachelor.


Here's a disclaimer. Or two.

I hate, hate, HATE the show The Bachelor.
I do not judge you if you like it.
I have friends who like it and I'm perfectly happy being their friend.
This is my blog and I'll rant if I want to, rant if I want to, rant if I want to (please sing that line).
And this girl is on FIRE. (sing that, too.) So if you want to not read, opt out now.

I was in line at Target and saw the above photo on US Weekly. And instead of rejoicing in the fact that there's a virgin bachelor (I guess it turns out he's really not a virgin but a recycled virgin who is choosing to remain celibate), I was struck with one of those "Are you kidding me" moments.

Where do I start?

Oh, maybe I'll start at the fact that I'm a little super passionate about my children's purity through their childhood and adolescence. Maybe I'll start at the place where sometimes, no matter how steadfast I am in my beliefs and morality, I get tired of swimming against a current that feels like class 5 rapids to keep my kids' hearts in tact. Maybe a good place to start is that if we don't think this "entertainment" is affecting our children, why not put yourself in the place of how you'd feel if YOUR daughter was one of the disheartened fish in The Bachelor's pond who got sent home empty handed and broken hearted. Maybe I'll start at the fact that marriages are dropping like dead flies and no one wants to admit that entertainment such as this serves as Exhibit A as to why.

I hate The Bachelor. I hate the process that teaches young people that a man can stand on a literal pedestal and take his pick from women like a harem of worshipping Barbies. I hate that he will woo more than one of them at a time, give his affection and thus in HER mind his heart to more than one woman at a time, and I hate that he will spend the night with different women toward the end of this process, trying them on to see if they fit like most men test drive trucks. I hate that these women wait with all hope and sincerity that they will receive a rose from this man, this man whom they barely know and mainly have a sexual attraction to. And I hate that the last step in the journey is that two women are completely convinced they will receive a marriage proposal until the very last second when one of them goes home heartbroken and devastated that she wasn't the one after all that hoopla. And the whole Bachelorette thing? What happened to women being pursued? What happened to letting him look for YOU? But I digress-- that's "old school" and I'll save it for yet another tirade/blog.

Seriously? Can you fall in love during the middle of a circus? You're telling me that even though there's countless women, ridiculously little moments alone, constant ping ponging diversions of attention, shared affections, the bubble of reality TV and Hollywood that surrounds you that the real world doesn't live in, and spoiled rotten behavior and drama surrounding you, it's possible to know at the end of it all you've found the love of your life? Oh my. Oh, oh my.

See, in real life, women aren't ok with being option 2 or 3 or 45. In real life, man meets woman, and stops the world to win her heart, singular. In real life, there's coffee dates, long walks, and sitting on the couch asking questions like- What's your middle name? Did you play sports when you were school? And what was your favorite childhood pet? In real life, he doesn't spend the night with you one night, and her the next night to see who is his perfect fit. In real life, (most) women aren't okay with that. In real life, marriage doesn't begin with the "other woman" being sent home and you winning the competition.

And don't even GET me started on the virginity issue. The headlines read: "The girls are stunned to learn Sean's saving himself for marriage." Also, "Their awkward Fantasy Suite dates." And my personal favorite, "How the winner copes with her sexless engagement." Once again, society wins at falsely teaching young people that sex is the foundation for a great relationship instead of the by-product of a healthy marriage like God intended it to be. Once again, society wins at making the people who actually choose to get married before beginning a sexual relationship feel like they are diseased. And once again, our children are taught that if you aren't having sex, you certainly can't be in love. Because after all, sex is the reason we fall in love, right? I beg to differ. My husband and I both were virgins when we married- me at 19, him at 31 (yep, you read correctly) and let me tell you--- I promise you that we aren't lacking intimacy and I am a very, very happy woman. In fact, I can't tell you the assurance I have in knowing there's no comparison games to past partners being played, no regrets we carry, no jealousies bubbling inside... only a love that deepens as the years pass and we live this perfectly imperfect life together.

And furthermore, why isn't the headline reading "It was so awkward that they were having sex, having barely known each other at all" in all of the other seasons?

I can't speak for you. But I am on a passionate mission to show my children the other side of marriage. Not the one that begins with frivolity and hype, or roses and Fantasy Suites. Not the one that shows unrealistic demands and fairy tale endings. I want to show them the one where the baby is up all night with a fever and you take turns holding her so the other can sleep a while. I want them to see one where the best times are spent on your own living room couch. I want my kids to be familiar with the comfort that comes from the arms of the person who has pledged his comfort to you when you're devastated at yet another one lined pregnancy test. I want them to see "hot" as the hands that mow the grass, fix the broken door handle, and catch the lizards that got into the house. I want them to see the strength that comes from holding hands as you wait for answers or while you sit in the ER with a kiddo with a broken arm. I want them to walk into the kitchen when Momma and Daddy are smooching and be totally grossed out. I want them to understand that sometimes you're married for 13 years before one of you falls passionately in love, and that by the 17th year, you miss him so bad at the end of the day, it's like when you were in college and he was four hours away again. I want them to see that sometimes, love is messy, it's inconvenient, it's painful, and it's tiring. But it's also fruitful, refreshing, bountiful, and safe. I want them to see fighting and making up. Giving and taking. Crying and laughing. Worrying and trusting. Making messes and cleaning them up. Growing and changing. Working and resting.

And the last I checked, this isn't the picture our good ol' reality show paints for my kids to see.

I don't remember the last time I received a single rose from my husband. (I don't care for flowers that much. I'd much rather have chocolate, lol.) But what I do receive daily from him lasts way longer than the petals from a flower ever could. In fact, I wear his promise to me on my finger and every day, he makes good on that promise.

And at least when I do get a rose, I know I'm the only woman who got one from him that day.

I'm just sayin. ;-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Front Nine and the Back Nine.

This is the part where I start feeling overwhelming emotion that makes me feel all happy and ridiculously sad at the same time. This is the part where I realize that 365 days are really over quickly, and added up, they turn into seconds and vanish like the morning fog. This is the part where I step back and gasp at how much has changed right in front of me and overnight, like the strange way dew appears in the grass and you never saw it until you step barefoot into the morning.

My daughter is nine years old today.

We celebrate birthdays in BIG fashion in our house. Like for days at a time. Like lots of cake. Like lots of gifts. And the "big" birthdays? Well, they get even MORE attention. The 1st, 5th, 10th, 13th, 16th, and 18th are pretty significant ones, dontcha think? Entrances into new stages of childhood that should be praised and celebrated. However, last week, it hit me. The 9th is a pretty big one too.

We are exactly halfway.

Halfway between birth and adulthood. Oh, I know my job doesn't end in 108 more months. I'm 35 and I am still being parented. But reality is, in 108 more months, she will belong to the world. Not just to me and her daddy, her brother... To her destiny. Her own path. Her real-life world.

108 months down, and 108 more to go.

Sobering. And nauseating.

So much to teach her. And it's half over. So much she still has to learn. And tonight, I will be OVER half way to the threshold of her future. Halfway to her freedom.

Halfway to my nest being one less a baby bird.

We spent the morning with her, reminiscing with her and laughing about how far we've come-- the highs and lows of the front nine. We took her to breakfast, and I swear the whole time, she was cuddled to my side in our booth, her sweet daddy across the table from us- just the three of us, like we were today nine years ago. We would tell her a story about when she was 3. She'd say, "Tell me another one, guys." And we would.

My heart is full when I think of this girl, this answer to so many tearful prayers and so many wishful dreams. She was the light at the end of infertility's long dark tunnel. The first burst of fall's cold air on my exhausted face. And from her conception, she has been a delight. She was a delight to carry, a delight to deliver, and is a delight to raise. I praise the God of Heaven and Earth for her life. Because HER life brings definition to mine.

Will you allow me this trek through the last nine years? I can't put them all on here, for one- you'd fall asleep. But mainly because you wouldn't "get" it. Nor should you.

She is mine.

Dear Abi,

Here are some moments I have loved with you.

Nine years ago today, I found what I was born to do. When your cry filled the room, announcing your entrance, Heaven rejoiced like it never had before. That day, the world was changed. That day, you broke my heart and healed it all at the same time. That day, you showed me what I was created for. You have been a sheer treat to my soul from the moment I knew you were inside me. Every day being your mom is a dream I dreamed about for many years. And you've never one time been a disappointment to me. I carry your laugh with me through the day. And I count the minutes until I can kiss your cheek every time I drop you off at school. I search the freckles on the bridge of your nose and the speckled green in your eyes. I love the way your voice changes when you're telling me something funny and the way your song resonates through the house every waking minute of your day. I sigh with happiness when feeling you crawl into our bed in the early morning hours. I love your heart and how tender it is- how it breaks with love at a moment's notice. I love how you sing Zac Brown songs at the top of your lungs in the shower with lyrical precision. I love your pioneering spirit and how you're not content to blend in with your surroundings. I love how other kids are drawn to the light inside you. And how you make others feel valued and welcomed in your presence. I love your relationship with Jesus and how personally you know Him. I love how easily you take correction and discipline and how repentant your soul is when you've done wrong.

But mostly, I love that you are mine. I love that out of the billions of women on this planet, God fashioned ME to be your mom. That all the years of waiting led us to YOU.

Everything about you delights me. Everything about you matters to me. And everything about you is everything a mom could ask God for in a child. In fact, as He always does, He surpassed all I asked Him to let you be. You're so much more than I asked for.

And the back nine will be our greatest years so far. I know this because YOU are in them.

I love you,