Thursday, September 29, 2011

I cannot keep silent...

I guess I am wanting to blog just to ask for prayer. I am at a conference for an organization called Care Net right now. It's really good, really amazing. I have learned so much, cried a lot, prayed a lot... felt overwhelmed a lot.

I've been involved with our Crisis Pregnancy Center for a little more than a year now.  I counseling and mentoring every Thursday morning. It's not much, but it's been an amazing outlet for ministry in my life. I have met more girls there and gotten to share my faith, encourage girls, and have even had an ongoing discipleship relationship with one. It's amazing to see the Lord work.

So a little while back our Operations Manager at the Center asked if I wanted to go to this conference. I think people think I am more on top of things than I really am... I had expressed interest in coming to a conference before, just to learn more and be better trained.

Anyways, I have felt so inadequate. I also have felt a heaviness. Maybe I'm tired from being six months pregnant, traveling to Florida, staying in a hotel, going to sessions and doing my best to take notes on and absorb all this information. But I feel like it's something more than that. Really, we are here because of abortion. We are here because our nation decided that it should be legal to take the lives of tiny babies, even before they can take a breath. We are here because medical physicians have made the decision (yes, made the decision) to go into the business of aborting babies.

This is something that Satan is all about. He has come to steal, kill and destroy. So many women have believed the lie that this is the only way out. Statistically one in four women in America has had an abortion. So statistically, some of you who are reading this have had an abortion. I am not standing here to condemn you, I am not saying that if I had been in your circumstances I would not have done the same thing. I'm here saying, I'm so sorry. I am weeping for you. Maybe it has been a long time and maybe you've done your best to put it on the back burner. I'm so sorry to be reminding you if that is the case. The truth is, there is healing. There are steps you can take to grieve and reconcile and be in freedom from your abortion. If you want to find out about that process you can go to our website and find out about it.

I think more than anything, this has just been a sobering time. I don't even know what to write in this moment, I think just to ask for prayer over my mind and my spirit. I keep thinking about my little Levi and what a gift he is, and how precious it is to feel Aria moving around inside of me... I feel like this whole thing is pulling at my heart strings as a mother in a new way.

Lord, please give me strength. Help me to learn, help me to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. These babies are near and dear to Your heart and I know you are weeping for them as they are being taken from their mother's wombs. You are a Father to the fatherless, You open the eyes of the blind, Your truth sets us free.  Please help me Lord.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life with Levi part 2

This morning I was thinking about how refining it is to be a parent.

What is that song?
Holiness, holiness is what I long for,
Holiness, holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what You want for me...

Holiness is not a comfortable, easy thing to attain. It's not like I'm just going to walk down a flowery, happy path and become holy. It's that I'm going to be tested by fire, by life and come through refined. Tested. I was tested yesterday as I'm chasing after Levi to get clothes on after a bath, tested with patience, that I wouldn't become angry and discipline him in anger. Testing as I am cleaning out diapers for my son. (I sort of feel like changing diapers is maybe the lowest form of servant hood in parenting. No one wants to do it, but it must be done, we must humble ourselves to that level and wipe the poo off of our child's bottom. It smells, it's disgusting, but it is necessary. I feel like it's one of the more ultimate day to day sacrifices... I'm just sayin')

I am tested as I'm trying to get Levi to eat healthy foods that he doesn't want to eat. Help me to be patient, not to raise my voice, not to get angry. To just keep telling him he has to eat it, and then when he flat out refuses we have to spank him. (side note here: Yes, we spank him. But I never want to spank him in anger, and we almost always pray afterwards and hug. I appreciate spankings because they don't drag out the punishment. It is quick, painful and then over. We get to move on with life. It has also been extremely effective with Levi, he has stopped throwing his food on the floor and spitting it out and he is eating his carrots and black beans all because we took the time to mindfully and consistently spank him and talk about what he did.)

Okay, wait, I'm going to go into the spanking thing a little further with this.  I want to always make the spankings private and intentional. I'm not going to just haul off and whack my kid because he did something I didn't like at the moment. We spank when he directly disobeys. I will take him to his room or a bathroom if we are in public, or the car. some place where we will be alone. This is how I can show respect for him. I would not want to be punished in front of a huge crowd of people, so I'm not going to do that to my child and shame him. Then we always pray with him (this calms him down most of the time) and I tell him I love him and we hug. Then we move on. I'm especially thankful for the prayer afterwards because it directs my heart towards the Lord and it is an opportunity to just pray over my son, that he would come to know the Lord someday, that he would learn to obey authority, that the lesson would sink into his heart... it's an opportunity to thank God for my son and just love on him.

These moments of discipline are never convenient. They happen mostly when I am tired or busy or we are about to leave or he is strapped in his high chair... more testing in my own life. Patience gets magnified and learning times a hundred with children. You just thought you were a patient, loving person... and then you have kids. :) Kids teach you WHAT patience is. It is a beautiful, refining thing.

Lord, help me as I parent my children. Give me more patience, give me a heart for them and their betterment. I pray that they would come to know You and have a passion for You and Your Word. Help me to do what is necessary today in their lives as well as mine.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pregnancy again. :) part 13

I'm feeling the need to post this morning. I was just sitting there, reading my Bible and it was just like the Lord told me to put it down and write. Okay, that's cool.

I've got a lot bouncing around in my mind right now, I didn't sleep much last night. Around 4 am Aria decided it was time to do jumping jacks, I'm guessing for about half an hour... the cool part is that I decided not to be frustrated with her that she was jumping around in my belly, but just to be amazed that there is a little baby growing inside of me... INSIDE me. Do you get that? I mean, do you really get that? A little person is in there, growing and developing and swimming around. She (it's a SHE, I'm amazed that we can know this) has no idea what time it is, she just knows mommy is being still so this is her chance to really get some exercise in. She's probably got those peanut butter cookies I ate yesterday coursing through her little veins and has energy galore.  Whatever I eat, whatever I do, it effects her. I have the most influence on her tiny life right now. I am a safe home for her until she is ready to come and be held in my arms, and be fed again from my body. Until she is ready to meet her daddy and her big brother. I am amazed at this. How is it that I have this privilege? I can feel her kicks, I know where her little feet are, I am starting to feel her little frame as she rolls around inside of me. She is with me all the time, attached and growing. She will not always be with me. Just this short period of 40 weeks.  I will have to slowly let go of her throughout her lifetime. Someday she will be a young woman... I can't even imagine this.

I'm looking for things that will encourage me on this journey throughout motherhood. There are a lot of things that will discourage and discount it.  I would say our culture is not pro family at all. Maybe that's why I'm amazed that a family like the Duggars can have their own TV show. I have heard about the Duggars for a long time now. I never started watching the show until I have Levi. Maybe I was bored, maybe I was fascinated that a woman could do what I had just done 19 times... I don't know. I started watching their show. Unlike most television, it was encouraging. Yes, they tend to be out of style, the girls all wear skirts and have long hair, they are ultra conservative... but what they do is pretty amazing. Maybe I'm most amazed that they don't raise their voice at each other. Maybe I'm amazed that their kids all seem to have this genuine love for one another. I'm amazed that Michelle (the mom) genuinely loves each of her children individually, knows them, treasures them, and even gets excited that there will be a new baby coming. Each one she acts as though it were her first one, all the kids get excited about welcoming a new baby into the family, it's like there's this tone in their household that delights in children, that delights in people. I love the fact that they give glory to the Lord. They talk about how God changed their lives, gave them convictions and they have held to those convictions no matter what. They decided they wouldn't ever go in debt. The other day I found this: 14 and Pregnant Again where they were living in a three bedroom, two bathroom house with 14 kids. I think they lived that way until they had 16 children. I love the way their children are not selfish. I believe it's because there's not room to be selfish.

All of this makes me want to have a big family. I know it will not be just like the Duggars, I know I would have to be more organized than I am now. I know I will have to cut down on the extra curricular activities, but I think it would be an amazing thing to raise children in this way.

Lord, help me to have perspective. I want to pour You into my children. Thank You for my Levi and my Aria. I pray that Ben and I would be mindful of our time and devote ourselves to You alone.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pregnancy again. :) part 12

I'm taking a break from video editing, sometimes my brain just needs to switch gears. So, now I'm blogging, of course. I love editing videos. It's one of the unexpected benefits of owning a Mac. They can make you look really smart. My family is all amazed at the videos I put out, but really, it's not much. All you have to have is an artistic eye and an ear for music and several hours. I just wish I had a big monitor or maybe two monitors and some good speakers so that when I watch my video on my in laws big screen tv I'm not surprised that I accidentally picked that photo or maybe that music was a little too loud in this place. I really should just be happy with my 14" MacBook though.

I'm blogging mainly because Aria is reminding me to write about her. She's kicking on my tummy, I guess her head is down and feet are up kicking directly into my abs. It doesn't hurt, it just feels weird. Maybe the weirdest feeling is when she decides to do a flip while I'm doing something. It's a fast flip too, or something where she is moving pretty suddenly. I hesitate to write this, but it's on my mind and I hope she doesn't mind. I don't even know if she reads this blog. I have a sweet friend who recently lost her baby at 36 weeks (I think) along, I heard it was because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. It makes me really think about what is going on in my womb. It also makes me realize how little control I have over what goes on. I mean, I guess I have some and there are all kinds of moves you can do if you need to position your baby and everything, but really, something like that is so unforeseeable. I have just been thinking about how it is just another way we have to have faith.  We have to release our children to the Lord even as babies in the womb. I have to release the fact that I won't always be there to make sure everything is perfect. New moms have to release the fact that their baby can go to sleep and so can the mom, We have to release them into the care of others at times, we have to release their safety to the Lord. And honestly, it's not always a release that is "safe" ... oh sure, we like to think that everything is safe and sound and that because we have a good God that He will automatically do what we want Him to do... but that is not true at all. He is a good God. He is merciful and just and He is powerful, but that doesn't mean He is going to do things that we understand perfectly at the time, just ask my friend.

I am learning that life is more precious than I ever thought. It is fragile and delicate. Each child is brought into this world not easily and, oops, we forgot to use birth control that time, but each child has a purpose. God ordained each and every one. It takes a long time to usher them in. There is a lot of pain and discomfort involved. There is a lot of sacrifice. But is it worth it? Most definitely. I wouldn't trade Levi for the world. Was he worth every ounce of that effort despite how frustrating he can be at times? Most definitely.

Aria, come quickly, we are excited to get to see you:) 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pregnancy again. :) part 11

I love the feeling of fall coming. The excitement in the air of the cool weather, getting to wear jeans and long sleeves. I'm sitting here in my fluffy robe and the window open, just feeling the coolness seep into our house. Makes me feel like drinking lattes, smelling pumpkin spice (I need to get one of those candles:)), the leaves, the air, makes me want to start baking things. Sigh... I love it. It's so full of anticipation for the many big holidays coming up.

I'm 24 weeks today. Aria is continuing to grow and have regular workouts in the womb. Sometimes I think she is jumping up and down. I have a feeling she will be active and strong, a good playmate for her big brother. :) I'm wondering if she will be less cautious than him (Levi is pretty cautious and sometimes easily frightened). I wonder if she will be the daring little sister like I was. Lord, help me not to project my life onto her. Help me to see her as her own person with her own perspective, her own experiences. Help me to allow her to be who YOU created her to be.

I think I'm starting to nest. You know? There's like this natural instinct that kicks in with pregnant women and they start cleaning things or working on projects to improve their "nest" or their home. Mine usually kicks in around 9 pm and I'm mopping the kitchen floor or shampooing the carpets. We borrowed the carpet shampooer from Ben's parents yesterday so we could clean up the throw up smell... yes, Levi threw up three times yesterday. I'm hoping he'll be alright today. Secretly I am excited because the spots on the carpet in other areas have been staring at me for months and I've just been itching for it. I kept bringing it up and Ben would say, let's wait and have them professionally cleaned, or let's get new carpet.  I'm thinking "no" in this area because we already need to buy a new (used) car for when Aria gets here, new tires, new brakes for the one we are going to keep... We are thinking of getting a mini van... yikes. That's a leap isn't it?

There's so much to being an adult and making adult decisions. You don't wait on your parents to make decisions and they decided whether or not to get new carpet or a new car... Ben and I actually GET to make a decision. The problem is that I'm really conservative with money, he feels more freedom to spend. :) I take a lot longer to make decisions (that's how it went in our family growing up) Ben makes decisions quickly. We have had our disagreements in this area. I am praying God will help me to submit to Ben's authority but also give him wise counsel (without nagging). Ben is very good at listening to me and considering my opinion. Lord, please help us to be wise with our resources! Help us as we go through life, help us to glorify You with what we have.

Only about 16 weeks left. Lord, help me to be patient and wise. Help me to do what I need to do and not to put extra stress on my plate. Help me to prepare my heart, soul, and body for the birth of this little precious life. Thank You for allowing me to carry her. I know I am not worthy, I know that You have given this life. You are the Lord of birth. Not a single life comes into this world apart from Your knowledge. Help me to be wise as I carry her.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life with Levi

I think I have finally caught Levi's cold. I thought maybe this time I could be immune. Seriously though, it's almost impossible to not eat or drink after him or let him get in my face and try to kiss me with his fish face little lips... I hate colds. I hate how I feel when I'm getting that first sign of a sore throat. The very worst thing about Levi having one is aspirating his nose. That is the worst. I literally have to lay on top of him as he is screaming and suck the snot out with the aspirator. I usually get tons of snot and it's highly effective, but I hate it.

Some things he has been doing lately that I LOVE:
- repeating words as we read books to him
- actually sitting still as we read
- putting his hands up in the air and looking at me when he doesn't know where something is.
- randomly calling out "Cars?!" and then we have to go find them so he can play with them.

Something we need to work on:
-swallowing his food even when he doesn't like it, not spitting it out

So that's been life with my Levi lately.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pregnancy again. :) part 10

A cool front has come in and it feels AMAZING. I realized today that I was so used to the hot weather that I brace myself when I step out of the door, and today I was yet again pleasantly surprised and refreshed.

I'm still doing my prenatal yoga, the other day I made it through the whole 50 minute video because Levi for some reason slept until 8:45... I KNOW! Lots of you young moms are jealous of me right now. Usually he sleeps until about 6:30 or 7 but we try not to get him out of his crib until 7 so that maybe his little internal clock would register to sleep that late.

Today I did yoga with Levi. It's good that I have the moves memorized because his little head is usually in the middle of the screen. My favorite part is when he tries to do the poses. My deep breathing is often interrupted by laughter, which eggs him on... I don't even care about the breathing at that point. I guess I could get frustrated that he is interrupting things and they aren't going perfectly for my yoga session, or frustrated when he poops in his diaper halfway through it, frustrated that he wants to poke the screen and the ladies faces... but I think life is too short for that. Why not just laugh and think, "I'm so glad I have a little boy to enjoy." Why not?

I was thinking about how pregnancy is this big, LONG preparation. You are preparing your mind, your house, your body for birth, you are waiting and anticipating, you are working out and eating right (as right as you can, or are trying at least...) going to the Dr, they are weighing you, everything is like this big anticipation. Everyone asks you when you are due, you have to say it thousands upon thousands... I think the only people who remember due dates are expecting parents. I can't seem to remember other people's due dates to save my life. I am counting how many weeks I am. I keep forgetting that to the common person they may have no idea what it means to be 22 and 1/2 weeks and how that's a little more than halfway done.

I think I'm just not patient enough. I want to hurry the process along, I don't want to have to prepare and do tons of walks and yoga sessions and keep watching what I'm eating and drinking (wishing I could have more than one cup of coffee a day) and whether or not I can sleep on my back or my stomach...

Aria, please come soon. I'm sorry I'm such an impatient mother. Maybe this is a good thing for me to learn so that I will be patient with you someday. Sigh.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Learning to Love and Support

You learn new things all the time. I have learned some things this weekend and I wish I had known them a while back. It would have helped.

I might need to start a series about our marriage and all the things I am learning about my husband. I don't know what I would call it, so I'll have to think a while. As I'm typing this the title line is empty.

Okay Jody, enough of that, what did you learn? Don't nag, help.

Advice for young couples: don't buy a house until you are ready to take care of it. Advice for young wives: don't dive into a project unless your husband is on board and you are willing to help. Those are my two cents. If you are a renter, let me just encourage you to enjoy it while it lasts. I'm not against houses, I just believe that people should know they can be a lot of work.They can also be a source of strain on your marriage.

There are several projects around our house that needed to be done. Okay, maybe something less pressing than needed, maybe something more like, I would really really like for them to be done so that my nest feels more like a nest.  One of those was the guest bathroom which has been on my nerves since we moved in. It's totally livable, but now I'm realizing I wanted more relaxing colors, not the sharp contrasting red, black and white. I wanted something peaceful like green. The wallpaper was coming off in places, the floorboards looked funny because we had removed the carpet and put in tile, there was a spot on the ceiling where someone had patched something and had painted not quite the right color... little things.
The other thing that needed attention was our yard. It has been the neediest since we moved in two years ago. All the bushes that needed severe trimming, removing, the grass that won't grow in certain areas but looks amazing in others, the drainage on the side of the driveway. We recently made the decision to put a bed alongside our driveway because we couldn't grow grass there, too much shade. (I LOVE shade, I also love grass, but we chose the shade.

The thing about projects is that you have no idea what they will REALLY entail until you get into them. You didn't know you could visit Home Depot so many times in one day. You didn't know you could be so frustrated when you paint a wall and THEN realize you should have worked harder on making it smooth with spackling, you didn't think about the fact that if you put a flower bed next to the driveway your guests will have to step out into the dirt and then accidentally track it into your house. These are all the things you don't think about. You didn't know that you would come JUST short of white ceiling paint and then have to run to Sherwin Williams yet again to get another quart of ceiling paint, and then there are the perils of painting with oil and having to clean that stuff off your brush...

Wow, the list goes on. Projects are hard. Especially when you have to live in them.

I was getting frustrated with Ben for not working on them as much as I thought he should be, not doing things promptly. My job was the plan and plant the flowers for the bed, his was the hard stuff like putting up the barriers, cutting down the limbs, and then there was the bathroom... we had a fallout on Friday night. I told him I hated the stupid flower bed and I hate having to plant flowers, I hate it that people have to step out into the dirt, this whole thing is stupid... (So mature, right?) He was just real quiet. Then he told me it was pretty discouraging to hear that this thing he had already worked on for many hours was something that his wife hated... Oh. Man. I'm such a jerk.

That's when my tone started to change. I decided that instead of quietly waiting by for him to do stuff I would offer as much help as possible.

The next day we worked on making stepping stones in the garden for people to step in in their cars, we also cut down some of the limbs from the tree I had been asking him to do, the next day we worked on hanging the bathroom towel racks and painting the frame around the bathroom mirror, we bought bushes for the flower bed as well as mulch, today Ben and my dad chopped up the branches for firewood...

I went from being a nag and resentful to looking for any way I could to help and encourage and it changed everything. I also found out that Ben and I are team players. We work harder and longer when we have someone to work with, we can spur each other on.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pregnancy again. :) part 9

Okay, so I haven't explained what we are going to name our little girl and why.

I've been praying that the Lord would give me a name and I would just know it was her name. I'm really good at shooting down names and being a hater. Someone will tell me their favorite name or something that they really love and I'll be like, "Uhhh, nah." Awkward pause and then move on. I kind of hate it when people suggest names to me because I usually feel like a jerk as I reject their name. It's not that I don't want to hear their suggestions or that I think their stupid or something, I think it's just that I feel bad.

Okay, all that to say we have decided on:

Aria Dawn

How did we come up with this name? Ben did. He is amazing. I know. We had been talking about it one Sunday afternoon and I liked the name Lyric. I wanted something different and light and meaningful, I write lyrics and stuff, but I wasn't totally sold on it. Ben wasn't a fan of it. The next morning I came out into the living room, he had just come home from working out and he told me he had a name idea. So, Jody, I was thinking about the name Lyric and how it has to do with music, so I was thinking back to my Music Appreciation class back in college (uh oh, if you were not a music major you wouldn't understand, it's kind of like me telling Ben and IT major that I was thinking back to my Word processing class in college, very basic, eyes are rolling) and I was thinking about the Italian operas (another uh oh, I'm not a big fan of the big, gaudy Italian operas, it's just too much for me... yes, I majored in music, I reserve the right to respect operas, but not enjoy them.)  What is the song that the woman sings in an opera? An aria. In Italian it means "air" or "wind" ... hmmm, it also means melody or song that the female sings in an opera or oratorio.  The wind is significant to me because we had been studying in church about the Holy Spirit as the Wind. God did some significant things in our church during that time, she was also conceived during that period. The more I thought about this name the more I just knew it was her name. Good idea Ben, I'm sorry I didn't have faith in you. :)

We decided on the name Dawn because it's my mom's name and we just wanted to honor her in that way. (Ben jokes that this way she will be mom's favorite grandbaby:)). We were also thinking that if her name is Aria (wind) Dawn (morning) it would be like her name is "the wind of the morning" ... a new and fresh wind. I hope that's what she is, just a breath of fresh air. I love morning breezes as I'm starting out on my walk and the wind just rushes up the hill to brush my face.

So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. She's 22 weeks along and having a grand time jumping, kicking and basically dancing around in my womb. This morning as I was playing and singing in worship I could feel her just going crazy. Already a worshiper? Yes, please!