Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ringing in the New

It's been a while since I've written here. 5ish months maybe? I could say that I do not have the time to write anymore, and while in some sense that would feel like truth, the reality is that it's something I've chosen to let go as this season of my life has much less available time for myself. I regret that much of Abram's growth hasn't been documented in the way I hoped (especially since my memory is just really stellar these days), but my daily demands with two little people age two and under has been sanctifying to say the least.

The impending New Year has everyone considering resolutions and changes and challenges. And up until the last few hours, I can't say I've really thought much about it. It has had me look back over the last year and reflect. 2013 was good to us and hard for us in so many ways. It brought us Abram, which is undoubtedly the best of the best from the last 365 days. It brought job change and life change too, and I'll be really honest that I do not love transition (the kind that happens in life or the kind that happens in labor ha!)

About 4 weeks after Abram's arrival, Tommy's job demands changed drastically from what we've been used to these seven years, and he began working 6-7 days a week 10-12 hour days. In an attempt to simply survive adding another child while also having my husband gone about 20+ hours more per week than we were used to, it became necessary to let the writing go. Those were and have been hard months, draining in the most extreme ways as motherhood and its demands has genuinely not stopped for months at a time.  God has been faithful to use that time to cultivate lots of areas of my heart, to point out the difficult things that need change, and to show up and show out in His sovereignty.

We learned at the end of the summer that some friends we've really cherished for years will be leaving... keeping us a continent apart for the sake of the Gospel. And there is no better reason to go. I've rejoiced for them and cried for myself and thought about how that will look in my life and in theirs as 2014 will bring their departure.  It is always nice to have someone who just gets you... understands you to the core and has a life that looks really similar to yours and never needs an explanation of why you do what you do. It is hard to let those people walk out of your everyday life. It's hard to anticipate that upheaval as well.

 I don't really have a lot of specific goals for this year... just a few. And they really aren't any different from what I'm doing now, except maybe it's just a refreshing of them. This year has taught me about the exhaustive joy of motherhood. I could emphasize exhaustion and I could emphasize joy because it has truly been both ways. It has brought me to the end of myself in many of the same ways that my labors have. It has revealed where I am most selfish, with my time or my giving or my sleep... and it has demanded that I put the needs of my children above my own in new ways. I have so many friends who are expecting their first baby right now or have recently had a new baby. And I've spent the last month thinking back to where I was 3 years ago and I just laugh when I think about how much I "knew".... How I thought, "Oh when I'm a parent I will not be doing that." or "If they would just do this, they'd have much happier children."  Even with all my early childhood experience and child development knowledge and a degree in little folks, parenting is just so different than all that and I just laugh and think, "Oh self, you knew nothing." (If you're reading this, remember I'm talking about myself here. Not you ;) You might know a lot!) And I feel confident that in five years I will be looking back on where I'm at now saying the same thing. And these last twelve months have made me ok with that not knowing everything position. I think back on all the advice given to me and the five thousand opinions (my own included), and as I found myself reentering the newborn phase this year has simply reinforced one of my parenting mantras-- Trust yourself. Trust yourself when you feel like you might be screwing it up and when you feel like you're doing ok. And don't trust yourself because you are all knowing and without flaw (because you're not and you will make mistakes), but trust yourself because God did not make an error in giving you the specific child He gave to you and He also gave you instincts- whether you grew up with parents who loved you big and taught you how to nurture or whether you grew up with just the opposite.  God knows I've done my fair share of reading, and while I often feel like I don't fit into any parenting camp or type or book (anybody want to hang out in the middle with me?!), I do know why I do what I do. But I learned with Abi Kate not to put my stake in that, and I've found a similar understanding with Abram. Don't let a book or a method or a person tell you how to parent your kid. There are 5 million books on parenting and 5 million theories with 5 million cited sources for each about children and the real reason is because everybody is just trying to figure it out. My best wisdom has come when I've just stayed on my knees and asked God for discernment for my individual child-- about big and little things. Raising two little ones instead of just one has driven this home to me over and over again this year-- Trust yourself. You are going to make mistakes, no matter how much you don't want to. Big ones and small ones. Let grace bridge the gap and press on with your best, God given intuition.

That concept is not always easy for me, even though I'm opinionated and decently "self-assured" for lack of a better word... because I genuinely care far too much what others think about me, and I also genuinely like most people and want to be friends with everyone. As a result, I question myself and overthink and spend far too much time mulling over the opinions of others. In the past, I've steeled myself against that and written those opinions off (and honestly not in a good way). This year, I felt undone by those things and thought, "maybe they're right" (and not in a good way here either).  Both responses are equally as wrong. It's been an area that Christ has put the pressure on this year, to let my pride fall and to keep finding my identity and sufficiency inside of Him alone. A lot of my Dad's lessons to me growing up have found roots in my life within the last year or two also-- he used to tell me, "Katie, you can't win 'em all." He's right. And I think that largely this issue I've wrestled with spiritually this year is exactly what he meant by that-- stop finding your value in people who like you and wasting time over those who've hurt you or don't like you. Love them both. Forgive them both. And find your value inside the one who purchased you when you were at your worst. He is enough.

It's funny because two years ago I wouldn't have cared a lot about any one else's opinion. Probably because I wouldn't have given much care to those people in general. While God has used the last two years and its events to soften my heart towards others and to extend mercy,  I've often fallen too far this year on the opposite spectrum--- Instead of writing people off, I raised them up. Both are dangerous and wrong grounds to be on.

So much of my parenting this year has exposed my flaws and weaknesses as a person.... and every year that I'm a mom I'm just more and more convinced that this is the point of parenthood. Even though it's the American way to put make kids fit into our lives and our schedules and our world, the truth is kids are rarely convenient. They will cry when you need them most not to. They will have to go potty at the worst time ever. They will wake up when you need sleep most. And I can't help but think that's why Jesus welcomed them when everyone else did not... He knew they were little refiners, capable of refining grown ,stubborn people in big new ways.  

I've learned that in this part of motherhood, I need time away and alone to reconnect and to refresh my mind and spirit. A few weeks/months (how sad is it that I don't remember?!) I got a coffee alone and sat in a movie parking lot and read a few chapters of a book in my car. I spent some time praying and while everything in me wanted to scream, "God, please stop pushing me to grow. Let me just be where I'm at for awhile." My prayer came out in opposite fashion, that He'd keep pressing into me and keep pursuing me and not let off me even when the growing hurt. And I'm pretty sure He'll see that through in 2014.

Abi Kate will turn three in a month, which literally I could sob thinking about that. Where did my baby go?! She's lively and literally never stops talking (she lost her voice one day back in November and it was SO QUIET in our house. So. Quiet.) She's all girly girl and loves her brother so hard, that I get overwhelmed at how good God was to answer that prayer of mine- that they'd be friends.

Abram is 8 months old (as of yesterday). He's much more mobile than Abi Kate ever dreamed about being at this age-- he's cruising and walking with his little dinosaur walk and ride toy, and he started calling me "mama" with intent a few weeks ago (that's right, folks. I'm two for two in getting to be the first word! I'd like to give my boobs the credit for that one.... my kids know their food source. They owe it to me.;) )He is much like Tommy-- long suffering, though he's got a temper that goes beautifully with his red hair if he's pushed long enough (or if he's tired or hungry)  ;) He's gentle and mild mannered but not as fiercely independent as Abi Kate was at this age. And he's tiny. He looks hilarious standing up because he's so small to us in comparison to Abi. I've now had one kid bringing up the 90% in weight and now I've got another holding down the 10%. He looks chubby but pick him up and hes a feather. Crazy! We call him our hollow bunny. ;)  

This year has been a whirlwind in so many ways and in the coming year as we've hit our stride, I hope I am more intentional in just simply enjoying my children while I'm at home with them. I've officially surrendered the ideal that my house will be clean and pretty while they're small... so now that that's out of the way... ;) And more than anything I just want to give them the Gospel.  I've learned that good parenting in does not equal good kids out. And nor does bad parenting equal bad kids. We want it to, so bad. That way, we can pat ourselves on the back when our kids are well behaved and smart and shake our fingers when other kids don't behave... It makes us feel good and makes parenting seem less complex and less difficult. But that's not real and that's not truth. There's no doubt that the responsibility of parenting is high and should be considered as such, but kids are sinners who need a Savior. And they will act as such, in spite of great parenting. So more than anything, I just want to give my kids Jesus. I want our parenting to exemplify that. I don't want to give them self-esteem or great independence (as if my two year needs help with that anyway- ha!) I don't want to tell them how good and perfect they are. And I don't want to give them a watered down version of biblical obedience.  I want to give them so much more than that. I want to teach them how good and perfect Jesus is. I want to teach them how He walked in close relationship with others, not how He was good enough on His own without humanity (though indeed He was). I want to teach them  how He did not worship self value  but He worshipped God.  I want them to feel the weightiness of the law of God so they can fully grasp freedom of the Gospel. And I want them to know they are fully loved, deeply and wildly by their parents and by their Creator, in spite of every great choice or poor choice they might make. I have prayed so much in the last two months that God would pursue my children. Now. While they are young.  And even though I make thousands of mistakes  as a parent, I see His work unfolding in their lives, in spite of me.

 I did another interview at 33 months with Abi Kate. Funny the difference 5 months makes in answers....
Can I ask you some questions? No. I'm building a tower.
What makes you happy? A tower. I make my house.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be the lighter.
What makes you mad? Nothing
What does mommy do with her friends? You push your friends.
What is the funniest word? Nothing!
What scares you? Storms
If you had lots of money what would you buy? A cupcake
What's the hardest thing to do? Take a nap
Who is your best friend? Olivia

What is the best thing in the world?
What do you like to do best/what's the best part of your day? Friends!
What do you think about Abram? He's my Abram-y! He's my best friend in the whole wide world!
Are any of my friends concerned that she thinks I push you?! Like physically?! A drug pusher?! What does this mean?!)
And I'll leave you with some of our most memorable moments from 2013.
 Turning Two at her Tea Party
 First TN snow! Weird as ever... half covering the ground and the other part totally uncovered.
 Waiting for babies with friends... Due 3 days apart. They were born 7 days a part :)
 The brief attempt we made at painting Abram's room at 35 weeks pregnant. About 10 minutes after this, I got down from the ladder, said we needed to hire someone. And it had to be painted the following day. Totally irrational. My huz (and a random painter off Craigslist) made it happen for my crazy pregnant self.


Love these two.

The due date that came and went
 The labor that finally started
 The boy who finally arrived

 We found her in her closet one night after putting her to bed. Asleep. Phone in hand. Walls colored. It's cool to be 2.
 When Abram was 7 weeks old, we went out as a family of four on an impromptu ice cream run. Everyone was sad. Except the adults. We had to laugh.
 This was found on my bedroom wall. Abi Kate came running out and said, "Oh Mommy I draw Doc McStuffins!!" (Don't worry. She was corrected. And had to help clean it off.... after we hid and laughed.)

And we became a minivan family.... and I don't even hate it! Oh my word...
 That's what trying to take your own picture with 2 kids looks like...Ridiculous. ;)
 Dedicating our boy.
Turning Abram's Play mat into her own stage


First food
Happy New Year Friends.   

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