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Dear Corban

December 31, 2018

Dear Corban,

I used to have theories that pregnancies that were stressful would produce stressed babies.  I believed this because when I was pregnant with your oldest brother, I never relaxed.  Even for a moment.  And as you probably know now, neither can he.  And while I was pregnant with Liam, well I was so damn happy I could barely stand it.  I loved my belly and his kicks and he was practically born with a smile on his face.  I thought the chemistry in my body had something to do with that.

You proved that all wrong.  Because from the minute I knew I was pregnant with you, dear one, I cried uncontrollably, until the day you were born.  I was so so so scared.  And despite my depressed and scared pregnancy, you came as an angel.  A sweet, content, joyful angel.  I had nothing to do with that.  You’ve been the gift we NEVER deserved my sweet Corban.

We picked the name Corban as it means “a living sacrifice” or “a drawing near”.  I really do believe that names have meaning.  I chose Judah’s name, which means “praise”, because I thought we all needed a reminder to be grateful to the Giver of life and the gifts we had not earned.  Your dad chose Liam’s name, but I got to pick his middle name, which is in honor of his father and a reminder that we have deep roots of love and many behind us who have prayed deeply for us.  I chose your name as a prayer that you would be the gift that God gave, that we would be willing to give back.  That Jesus would be near to our family.

Corban Isaiah.

You know, Isaiah was a prophet in the bible.  The Gospel of John says that Isaiah “saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him”, although while Isaiah was alive, he never met the King he so often spoke of.  It would be a long time before the Jesus he seemed to know deeply, as a close friend, would arrive.  And he spoke loudly, boldly.  We think he was martyred for it.  I wish I knew that kind of boldness.  Yet, while I’ve never physically stood in front of the King, I know his presence.  Because of you, and your brothers.  The miracles I see in you.

Also, dear Corban, as we are looking at your first birthday on the close horizon, I have to tell you that every expectation I had for you, it’s been wrong.  You have been so healing to my soul.  You have made me hopeful for what I have for this earth.  I believe you will teach this family.  The joy that escapes you and touches others is truly a thing to behold.  I’m so honored to hold your tiny body in my arms while you sleep.  It’s been my gift that you will be the last to leave my home and my arms. The last one I will pick up to comfort.  The last skinned knee I will bandage and kiss.

You have been a drawing near for me.  True to your name.

A drawing near of goodness and closer to wholeness.  You point me to Jesus and love and you remind me every single day to be more careful and hopeful.

I love you dear one.  Thank you for all the things you are. I’m excited to learn more about you.  You are simply and forever adored by me.

So sincerely,

Your Sassy Momma

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Dear Liam

December 27, 2018

This was written nearly three years ago after the birth of my middle son Liam, after three years of secondary infertility and a lot of unanswered questions concerning my body.  

Liam,

I’m hoping you can forgive me for taking so long to write you this.  The emotions behind your story already, have been complicated and sensitive and difficult to write about.  How do I put into words how much I desired for you, how long we waited and how blessed we are to finally know you?

For three years we thought we wouldn’t get to meet you.  I had this dream in my head of a little baby.  Chubby legs and blue eyes and huge smile.  I knew that baby would be perfect.  I knew that baby was meant for our family.  I could almost feel the weight of you in my arms.  And yet the longer I waited for you, the sadder that dream of you became.  I felt like I had dreamed you so vividly, you were a real part of our family.  I was so nervous that if you couldn’t be born, I’d have to let that dream go.  Before you were born, and after three years of pretending you were right on the other side of the nursery door, I began to miss you.

It’s heartbreaking to miss a child you love so much.

There was this moment when hope seemed thin and I drove straight from the doctor to your dads work.  As you know now, crying is not something I do often, but I did that day.  Your dad, without my request, simply leaned over, put his head on my shoulder and prayed to Jesus.  He gave control of my body to our Creator and Healer and we both offered up our trust.  I still cried.  I still worried.  But I did so with the knowledge that in suffering and sadness, Jesus will be present. He has done it over and over in my life.  It is our comfort in knowing that sadness will come, but the Gospel of Jesus is our prize.  Even if I never got the chance to meet you, Jesus was still with me.

However, as you know, you did come.  And you are chubby and blue eyed and you smile with your entire body.  You are more than what I asked Jesus for.  You are the product of His goodness and our patience and big time love.

So now that the hard, but beautiful part is out of the way, let’s talk.

Your brother.  Judah.  Dude is all up in your face.  He loves to squish your face.  He loves to scream in your face.  But he is mortified at the things that come out of your face.  I think at least 100 times a day I am begging that child to take a step back and stop shouting at you.  I mean I know he loves you with all of his heart.  I’m just also certain you will have early onset hearing damage from the physical showing of your brothers love.  I apologize.  Just know I tried to help.

Let’s go back to that part where I mentioned the gross things coming out of your face.  Because dear, I’ve already had to replace my rug from all the puke.  It’s unworldly how much liquid comes out of you.  At times, I’ve been convinced it’s more than what I’ve put in.  For the last 7 months I’ve had to change my clothes more times than I knew I could.  Laundry is an issue since you’ve arrived.

I’ve been so impressed with what you’ve done in the first 7 months.  Already crawling, sitting up, saying dada and mama, and frequently trying to kill yourself by way of throwing yourself off of every high place.  Every second of it is lovely.  You are lovely.  And I will do what I can to keep you from falling from high places.

I’m not done saying everything I want to say to you yet, but I’ll stop here.  You are still so small, it’s hard to tell yet what you are like.  I just mostly wanted to tell you how much you are loved.  I hope you feel the weight of that today.  My goal for you and your brother is that in the end, you can be successful and educated and have every good thing earned, but mostly I want you to rest in knowing you are loved so much.  By your parents, by each other, but most importantly by Jesus.  My love will fail, undoubtedly.  But the love of your Creator never will.  There is so much beauty in asking Him to draw near to you, and seeing the almost immediate fruits of that request. He will be near.

I love you Liam.  Thank you for being my son.

Sincerely,

Your Sassy Momma

to be opened

December 19, 2018

I wrote this almost exactly one year ago for my own personal journal.  But it’s stuck with me.  One of the only entries I’ve re-read and continued learning from.  A good reminder I feel good about documenting for my kids to find one day.  

Today I made a list of recent disappointments which had me overwhelmed. We didn’t get bonuses or a tax refund this year. Medical expenses have piled up. Insurance costs increased. Both of us have lost our entire bank of PTO and sick time. Childcare costs have officially tipped the scales so our expenses now exceed our income. And despite how hard we’ve worked to get ahead, the list goes on and the stresses mount.

Now I’m straddling the challenge of caring for a one week old while playing nurse to a very sick seven year old and I know, based on empirical evidence, this is just the beginning of what parenting all these complicated small humans will be for us for the next several years. And yet, every time I think about this, I know how lucky we are. I know each of these disappointments are small byproducts of really big blessings. I was also reminded of darker more uncertain days early in our marriage.

Even in the most uncertain of circumstances, I like looking at Chris and saying “it’ll be fine, right?”, knowing he has no idea. He is confident in this thing we have. He always says “of course” as he rubs his face with anxiety. We both know the next few years are going to be tricky. In a few weeks I’ll have to go back to my office, share this baby with other people, and resubmit to our master routine of work and schedules and lists on lists. Although I’ve faced this all before, the stakes keep getting higher and I feel all the more inadequate.

A few months ago I was reading from the book of Mark to my two older boys. In Chapter 7 there’s a story about a deaf man who is brought to Jesus by a group of friends. Jesus took the man …”And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” – Mark 7:34  The man heard. And he spoke plainly. And he was healed.

Ephphatha…. be opened.

That word. To a woman like me, who tends to remain closed and stern and correct, more than I stay vulnerable and soft and apologetic… I know what becoming open means. To be vulnerable enough so friends can drag you to the feet of Jesus.  To be expressive and sharing and unafraid.

I reluctantly hope for Ephphatha. To be grateful through the hardness. To give space and time to pain. To apologize instead of hurting and closing up others.

I’ve been so shaken and scared this last two years that I closed up tightly in what I thought was a necessary protection. But in that, I nearly lost a good friend. And hurt my relationship with my oldest son. And certainly pulled away from Chris.

It may be tempting in this season of mounting disappointments, to simply let it run its course and avoid eye contact with the circumstances. But I think instead I’ll pray for heavenly Ephphatha. I think I’ll aim to be open rather than endure the pain of remaining closed and scared.

I know everything is seasonal. Everything is bound by time. It’s okay for me to make lists of my disappointments if that’s healing to me but my ultimate goal is to draw up longer lists of gratitude and set up memorials to the struggles we overcome as they draw to an end.

All that to say, being open to disappointments and allowing feelings of fear to be present, while in a practice of gratitude is ok. It’s healthy. It may be the growth I’ve, we’ve, been waiting for.

On turning thirty.

March 24, 2014

My co-worker Chantell tells me she cried rivers on the day she turned 30. At the same table, another co-worker laments her frustration with the underwhelming celebration of her 30th birthday. I’m still coming to terms with how I feel this week. 30 is big. 30 is a milestone. 30 is something.

Truthfully I don’t understand the stigma. But that could be, of course, because I’m so wildly in love with my life. My job is successful and pointing in great places. My child is happy, healthy and full of sarcastic potential. The sex is great and my husband always does the dishes after I cook. I live in a beautiful home in a sterile neighborhood and my fridge is full. My car starts every morning and my dog, as much as I dislike her, keeps us aware of every neighborhood inconsistency. I weigh less today than the day I was married and I still have cheeseburgers once a week. I am living a perfect life. And now I’m 30.

So what?

When I look back on where I have been, and I try to remember what kind of life I dreamed of as a child, this is better than that. I grew up dreaming of a clean house with lots of laughter and intentional time and giving. I dreamed of a career. I dreamed of an education. I dreamed of a big family, with a house full of bunk beds.

And there’s the only snag…

After two years of unsuccessfully trying to fulfill that need to increase my family in number, I feel content, knowing we’ve increased in so many other ways. This has been the happiest year of my marriage. It’s been the year I was able to let go of expectations and live in moments and let my kitchen get crumby from time to time without feeling like a failure on every level. Yes I am 30 now and every passing month feels like one month further away from ever getting pregnant again. And there have been months when that has really broken my spirit. In brokenness, I have searched after truth and wisdom. In truth I see the blessings I’ve been given. And in wisdom I find beautiful grace in asking for more when I deserve it the least.

I’m happy to be turning 30. I’m happy to be his wife and I’m blessed to be his mother. And I’m going to wait and see what is next with excitement. It may not always be this high but today, at the age of 30, I feel good. I feel undeserving.

I feel superbly loved.

Dear Judah: 3.5 Years Old

March 23, 2014

My grandmother recently asked me why I hadn’t written you a letter for your third birthday.  At this point, you are nearly 3 ½ and before I know it, she’ll be nudging me at your fourth birthday wanting to see the goods. Frankly, I don’t have a good reason.  You being three has given me plenty of material, heartburn and joy.  But some of my favorite moments of writing to you, has been talking about the wisdom I’ve gained from being your mother.  So maybe I haven’t written because you being three has robbed me of all parental confidence.

In truth, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.

The further we have moved into this age, the more I’ve realized just how powerless I am to you and the things you feel.  For the last few months I’ve been really really bad at this.  You scream, I shout.  You cry, I shut the door.  You hit, and I just NEED TO BE ALONE!   And everyone keeps telling me the only reason I’m able to maintain senility is due to your cuteness in between.

And I’m not sure that’s true.

It might be the guilt of worrying I’ve screwed it up so irreveracably the day before, I become determined to do better the next.  It’s a cycle that’s been getting me out of bed for the last almost 180 days.

I don’t want to sound so dramatic in saying being a mother to a 3 year old is too hard.  But damn.  It’s hard.

Bedtime is hard.  Mornings are hard.  Potty training is hard.  It’s hard when you are hungry and sleepy and hyper.  It’s hard when you wake up in the middle of the night and point a flashlight directly into my sleeping eyes.  It’s hard when you get so mad you pull a dresser and 32” TV down on top of yourself, just to prove a point.  It’s hard when you are fed up with rules and make up your own.  It’s hard when you insist I’m not allowed to use words like “later” or “tomorrow” or “maybe”.

But let me tell you when it’s good.  It’s good when I curl up into your teeny tiny bed and we make up songs about made up words.  It’s good when you catch my eye in the rearview mirror and tell me you love me with a coy smile.  It’s good when you see me in the school parking lot and wave with so much raw excitement.  It’s good when you ask for carrots instead of crackers.  It’s good when you tell me new things about God.  It’s good when you announce it to be pajama time, in the middle of the day.  It’s good when you ask to be held like a baby after a bath.

Frankly, there are so many goods.  So many more goods than hards.  The hards just feel so heavy.

All through life, the hards will feel heavier than the goods.  It takes a strong spirit to judge them equally and let the goods outweigh.  The first time you experience the heartbreak of lost love, you’ll feel like all the good has been sucked out of the world.  The first time you are bullied or singled out in a negative way, those goods will be incredibly hard to feel.  But time teaches you things.  Eventually you’ll come to a point when you’ll realize the people who can’t see goods despite the hards, miss out on so much  love and opportunity and adventure.

I want you to grow into a person who chooses good.  Who sees hard and knows it will be defeated or forgotten soon enough.  You have that power inside of you.  You are so loved and that will win over a multitude of hards. Love always wins Judah.  So even if you’ve gone through that lost love, replace it.  Maybe not in the same way, but always find ways to love better and the hards will take their place in the correct order.

I’ll try to work hard and show you this.  I’ll pray for this.  We’ll practice it together.  Practice sounds like a funny word when talking about love, because it seems it should be a natural reaction.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Loving well is a habit worth practicing and perfecting over a lifetime.  Mistakes will be made and hurts will be caused sometimes in equal measure.  But love is definitely a practice.

In his book, Outliers, Malcom  Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to be successful in any practice.  What do you think it would look like to practice love for 10,000 hours?  And frankly, I’m not even sure that would be enough.  It’s a life of love practice from start to finish.  And even then we would be flawed.  But that’s not a good enough reason not to try.

I love you with so dearly with so many flaws. I prove it every day.  I wish that weren’t so, but it is.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and leave for work long before you start your day.  Before I walk out the door, I’ll stop by your room, pull up your blankets and kiss whatever exposed part of your face I can locate in total darkness.  I’ll silently apologize for the fight we had last night after the 12th time you came out of your room before finally falling asleep.  And I’ll swear to do better today.  Just like every day.  And I swear that I’ll mean it.  Just like I do, every day.

Because I’m practicing.

For the rest of my life.

I love you Judah.

-Your sassy momma.

two daughters.

July 2, 2013

Today, as I was rolling through my twitter feed, I noticed one of those habitual “quoters”.  You know the ones who almost never, if ever, contribute any original thoughts.  They just repost great things that other people have written, and then we are supposed to think they are somehow prolific for having read and regurgitated it…  Those types of people are boring.

And now excuse me while I regurgitate their regurgitated prolificness.

“Hope has two daughters: Anger and Courage.
 Anger at how things are and
Courage to see that they don’t remain as they are”

– Augustine

That’s pretty much where I’m living right now.  Only I’ve just been calling it anger with associated symptoms such as: unrest, discontentment, confusion, confrontation, anxiety and the beat goes on.

Anger is such a huge beast.  Because anger cannot…CANNOT… stay hidden inside of oneself.  It exists in every exchange.  In every facial expression.  Completely devoid of healthy direction, anger will guide almost every thing you do.  And anger is destructive.

Recently I picked up a new book and while discussing a topic similar to this, the author said that when we feel attacked, our first defense is almost always with our words.  Words that hurt.  Tearing down the things we most love.  The bible speaks of this frequently.

I’m not a licensed counselor but I think I have a keyhole peep into the root of my affliction with this.  People, but specifically, I –  need to be heard.  But more to the point…I need to be understood.

Proverbs 29:11 says “A fool gives vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back”.

My spirit bubbles.  My tongue spits words out quickly and with fervor.  I hold back very little when I know it’s safe to feel and express feeling.  And yet… I feel completely misrepresented, misunderstood… just missed.  The more I try to say it, and the less I’m heard, the greater the anger boils.

Sometimes I look to the heavens and ask God why He gave me a husband that physically can’t hear me.  I will spend the rest of my life repeating myself in multiples of 10’s just to have one feeling heard.  One instruction remembered.  One hurt understood.  The man just can’t hear me.  Not with his ears.  Not with his heart.  Not yet.  Maybe time will repair that.  Maybe doctors will.  But today…  I exist in a vacuum in my home.  Thankfully because of God ordained vows, I can feel safe while still misunderstood, knowing eternity awaits with something better for us.

And all that to say…

I’m in a search, spiritually.  I’m looking for that beautiful middle ground where I know God, and I’m satisfied in him.  And I feel known in my home.  In my work.  Amongst friends.  To feel heard.  To let go of the anger associated with only being needed as a function… and finally known as a person worth knowing.

Hope does have two daughters.  I’ve clutched too tightly to one.  I’m groping around in the dark for the other.

residual therapy.

June 30, 2013

I think I’ve done it.  I’ve waited the exact amount of time I could go without writing that everyone has stopped looking for it.  No one remembers this space in the inter-webs exists.  Also everyone stopped reading personal blogs in the amount of time that I stopped caring to write one.  Only the best writers remain and only the most loyal readers still read.  I am and have neither.  Therefore I may officially begin writing again.

I’m not even sure what I will say.  Now that I know for certain no one will see it, I think I can say and do just about anything.  I can prose poetic.  Or be dry and sarcastic (my specialty).  Overly sentimental (my fallback).  Or make a list of the reasons why, as I get older, I only seem to become more confused about who I am, rather than wiser and more in touch.

Mentioning that last point, let me just begin by saying, I have just recently finished my first ever season of therapy.  See, two years ago I probably wouldn’t have admitted that, but there it is…  I’m bat crap crazy and now that I’m writing to no one, it’s safe to finally say it out loud.

Yes, I have deep seeded issues.  From childhood.  From marriage.  From motherhood.  From faith.  Or a lack thereof.  From a career.  From loneliness.  From an unnecessary need to “do”.  From a million little things, that when standing in solitude don’t add up to much.  Whip them all together and what do you get?

Head-case.  Certified.  Grade A.  FDA approved.  Head-case.

Therapy helped me dig around, look at it from all different angles and decide on a lot of root causes, and I feel better.  Lighter.  But the truth of all those factors are still reigning true, and the brain that has to calculate and divide the pieces of me that I’m allowed to allocate to those things… is still frying as we speak.

Therefore, I stand before you a fizzled woman.  A woman who really thinks she was called to more than an emotional grease fire.  I have a desire to believe I am capable of more.  Of feeling better.  Of choosing better.

But I hear that’s a process.  Writing has always been a healthy process for me.  Almost always made healthier when I know no one is looking.  However, it’s good for me to share.  I’m inherently a non sharer when it makes me look weak.  So this is a small step in both directions.  Writing what’s real and sharing it honestly.

But maybe only to people who trip over me with an incorrect Google search.

Hi. Welcome.  You searched for “flashing subway freak” and for some under known reason, Google brought you here.  You are in good company.  Obviously we both need help.  This is my residual therapy.  You are welcome to come along for the ride.