Dear Abigail | 14 October 2019

Dear Abigail,

When your Dad and I were engaged, I decided to write in a journal and give it to him on our wedding day. I don’t remember much of what I wrote, but I know that I began writing it by explaining how inconsequential the date of that first entry was. I didn’t start that journal the day we got engaged, or on some other celebration-worthy day, but on some regular day that meant next to nothing. 

This is like that. 

It’s a Monday and I’m at a coffeeshop. I have other things I should be working on - is that motherhood? Just one long list of other things you should be working on that you put aside for this most important thing? - but here I am writing to you. 

You are seven months old. You have a tooth, one singular tooth in the bottom of your mouth on the left, that you used to bite me a few days ago. (If you hadn’t, I wonder how long it would have taken me to notice it.) You are fiercely independent and you smile at everyone and all I have to do to get you excited is raise the pitch of my voice ever so slightly. Two weeks ago you said “Mama” and I melted. Your Dad is still trying to get you to say “Dada.” 

I love being your mom, absolutely love it. You are brightness and joy and laughter. You have made me more tender, more kind. Some moms talk about how their babies smoothed out their rough edges and settled them down, but that has not been my experience with you. You have made my experience of the world sharper, clearer. I am more awake because of you. 

There are times when this awakeness startles me, like when I’m listening to music in the car and a lyric I’ve heard a million times will suddenly ring truer and tears will fill my eyes. Other times it feels as natural as a walk on a summer day. It’s as if when you were born my heart cracked open through my chest and sometimes the wind hitting that part of me that I kept so hidden takes my breath away. 

And yet, it’s just wind. Harmless, beautiful wind. 

All my love,

Mom

What I Learned: Summer 2019

June - August 2019

1. When I’m feeling annoyed, it helps to ask what I am functionally believing I deserve

While listening to this podcast episode, the hosts shared this incredible piece of advice that has been SO helpful whenever I become annoyed: ask yourself what it is you are functionally believing you deserve. My most common answers to that question (in the spirit of brutal honesty): I deserve to be able to complete this task without being interrupted, I deserve this person’s full attention, I deserve quiet mornings, the list goes on. Once I’ve named what it is I’m functionally believing I deserve, I am able to quickly reorient my mind and heart to the truth of the gospel and what it is I actually deserve and what Jesus has given me instead. FRIENDS this has been so helpful to me. 

2. How to make change your life chicken

This recipe is the only chicken recipe that matters. It is so easy. It requires zero dishes to be washed (if you line your pan with aluminum foil which you absolutely should.) It is so delicious you’ll wish you could eat it every day for the rest of your life and guess what you can because it’s so easy to make.

3. I love powerwashing

This seems too small to mention but I spent a lot of hours powerwashing this summer and I loved it. It is so satisfying to make a deck or the siding of a house or a concrete path look brand new again for such little effort. 

4. “I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights. I live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God; the Kingdom is not in trouble and neither am I.” 

This quote from James Bryan Smith (which he talks about in this podcast episode) has become a sort of mantra for me. There is so much truth packed into a few thoughtfully chosen words so it is something easy to remember while also being so powerful. 

5. Job and Abraham were contemporaries

I suppose I probably knew this at one time or another, but it never really sunk in. It is absolutely stunning to me that at the same time Job was asking the Lord  questions in the middle of his suffering, God was speaking promises of a coming Messiah to Abraham. 

6. Fear gives us the opportunity to have courage, and doubt gives us the opportunity to have faith

One of the hottest topics this summer in the evangelical subculture (God help us) was doubt and falling away from faith. After the gasps and the whispers, I think there were some really great discussions about faith and doubt happening, and maybe we could all use a little more of that. I love the way Mike Donehey (of Tenth Avenue North fame) explained it in this podcast episode: fear gives us the opportunity to have courage and doubt gives us the opportunity to have faith. This is liberating. 

7. Eskimo kisses ice cream is everything I love in an ice cream

I lived 22 years before learning that eskimo kisses ice cream exists. It is all my favorite things: chocolate, coconut, and ice cream. All the praise to our local coffee and ice cream shop for introducing me to my new favorite dessert. 

8. Food tastes better in its season

This summer I started paying closer attention to the timing of the produce we buy and eat. I followed some printables I found online (there are a million if you do a quick google search for seasonal eating) and found that the food just tasted...better. This should have been a no-brainer, but it was still amazing to me. (Fun fact: produce in season is also generally cheaper, so I can “splurge” on the organic stuff without actually splurging. Amen and amen.)

9. Paul Blart Mall Cop memes will always, always make me laugh

Literally always. If you were wondering what brand of humor hits my funny bone, it’s Paul Blart memes. I’m not proud, but I’m also not ashamed. I am who I am. 

10. Breastmilk contains antibodies that are created in real-time 

Josiah and I both caught a summer cold in the beginning of August, but somehow Abbie was just fine. I credit this to both prayers and also the fact that my breastmilk was protecting her by passing on to her the antibodies my body was making to fight the infection in me. The way God designed the human body is absolutely breathtaking and so, so cool.


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Sudden, Startling Joy

It has been a hot minute since I shared anything in this space. Admittedly, I expected the silence in this corner of the internet - caring for a newborn and becoming a mother myself have been full-time jobs that leave very little space for blogging. I started writing this post with the intention of updating all you readers (all 4 of you ;)) but so much in my life has changed in the past few months that to try to sum it all up in one piece of writing would be absurd. 

There is one piece of this story that has been sticking to my side like a bur, a piece that now feels almost too vulnerable to share. I was not excited to become a mother; in fact, I was dreading it with nearly everything in me. The nine months leading up to Abbie’s birth were some very difficult months for me. When I saw two blue lines on a pregnancy test, I honestly wept. Not tears of joy or celebration, but sad, mournful tears. The prayer I prayed most often over my pregnancy was that the Lord would somehow create in me the desire for the baby growing inside my belly because I felt so numb and afraid. 

I was never the girl who dreamed about being a mom. Before Abigail, I had approximately zero experience with babies and children. I had no idea how to change a diaper, soothe a crying baby, or do any of the things mothers do. I’m not sure there was ever a moment during my pregnancy when I felt joy about becoming a mother. And yet, as cliche as it sounds, the moment she was born was one of the most holy, sacred, and JOY-filled moments of my life. It was as if in a crashing wave the Lord answered “YES” to every prayer I had prayed throughout my pregnancy about creating desire in my heart. 

There have been many times throughout the past four months I’ve wondered shouldn’t this be harder? Shouldn’t I be more tired, more sad, more overwhelmed? Shouldn’t I be mournful for the parts of me that have changed and morphed and been lost? I expected motherhood to press against me on all sides like life has pressed against me for the past two years, and yet it hasn’t. I expected the weight of caring for another person to feel heavy and awkward and smothering, and yet it feels light and not burdensome at all. 

I expected a version of motherhood that is nothing like what I am experiencing. I expected that motherhood would be difficult, joyless, wrought with the little, painful deaths of my own desires. But instead of crushing, burdensome weight, my daughter has been, in the words of Madeleine L’Engle, a “sudden, startling joy.” 

I don’t know if there’s any deep spiritual lesson to glean from this, and I honestly don’t know if that’s even my job to try to find one and pin it down like a moth on a piece of glass. What I do know is that the rhythm of naps and nursing and diaper changes has become familiar and comfortable to me. I know that I desperately want to slow down time to soak in these moments filled with the most happiness I’ve felt in a long time. I know that the Lord is in these moments, and I’d like to think he gets excited seeing me experience all these blessings he is showering on me in the same way I get excited when Abbie looks up at me with her big blue eyes and smiles. Sudden, startling joy.

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