The Most Important Thing Question

On one of the first occasions when I spent time with the little girls who would become my nieces, they were asked a question by my husband, Wade, affectionately known to the girls as “Gunka”. He was sitting on a chair in the dining room, and he gathered them into his arms and asked “Girls, what is the most important thing?”. They answered, “Family and the people you love. Then, tacos.”I remember thinking how sweet it was that no matter who asked them that important question, they knew the answer, and it was always the same.

Throughout my life, I’ve been pretty close to my family, although like most families we’ve endured ups and downs, times of greater closeness and times of separation. But through it all, I know that family absolutely IS the most important thing. When my first marriage failed because we both chose other priorities besides our marriage, I knew that I wanted to eventually find a man who valued me and valued his/our family above the things of this world, material possessions, hobbies, etc. I’m not saying that those things don’t play an important role in one’s life, but they can’t take the top spot or else the stability of the family is likely to crumble. That’s the thing about family: it is solid at its core but can easily crack if neglected.

I once heard a man speaking about marriages and love. He made a comparison to love being like a plant that requires water every single day. He said in order to make a marriage work (or a family, or any worthwhile relationship), you cannot go even one day without “watering” it. How often is it, though, that the world and its pressures suck us all dry, so to speak, and we have such little left to give to our families and those who are most important in our lives? How frequently do we hoard this most important gift, afraid that if we give too much away we wont have enough for ourselves? How often do we not receive this life giving gift from our own loved ones, and we start to feel dry and brittle? It happens quickly. When hearts and great loves are not watered, they quickly fade. My challenge is to be a watering can FULL of life-giving and love-sustaining water for my family and those I love the most. I can’t think of any greater gift with such an incredible return on investment!! I also want nothing more than to be a living, breathing example of this to my children and to everyone around me. Sure, this way of life comes with lots of challenges. We all fall short, at times, and we’re all guilty of letting selfishness, self-centeredness, pride, exhaustion, self-pity, etc. take priority over sharing our gift with our families. Can you imagine how much stronger our families could be if we made sure to love them harder and more intentionally every single day?? If we were honest with ourselves, I bet we’d all find that we have so much more to give in this regard, and isn’t that the most important thing?

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How do you win a fight when you have no weapons?

Some things in life are worth fighting for. I don’t always mean physically punching and kicking someone else to get your way, although I could think of a few things I’d get all “Chuck Norris” over. When I say fighting for something I mean working so hard for that thing and never giving up until you know you’ve exhausted every option available to you. But, how do you fight when you have no weapons? How do you “throw a punch” when your hands are tied behind your back, you’re blindfolded, and you’re strapped to a chair (metaphorically speaking)?

You see, I’m in a huge fight right now but my enemy is invisible, unreachable, and obscure. I’m angry, but I don’t know at whom. I’m devastated, but I can’t figure out who I should hold responsible for my devastation. The story goes like this: I want to birth my child at home. I’ve wanted to have this type of experience for almost 2 years now. I need this experience for me (long story, maybe one day I can share it and not feel like a terrible person). However, due to the upfront costs and the ridiculousness that is our healthcare system I cannot have the birth my heart, mind, and body longs for. I can’t win this battle, and I don’t know how I’ll ever resolve the battle raging within me.

Who would I pick to fight with? The insurance company? Sure, I might win a small battle over a reimbursement here or there, but they win the war. They make it so hard for women to have alternatives to the standards of care. Like I told a friend this morning, it would be easier for me to call my OB and schedule a cesarean section than it would be for me to birth this child vaginally without medical interventions. And why should they care about saving THOUSANDS of dollars, anyways, when they are greedy companies who make millions off of people like me?! Where do I throw the first punch? Would it even connect with my intended target?

Do I fight with my husband, the man who would sacrifice his whole life to give me the things I need and want? No way. Am I still, in some messed up way, a little bit mad at him because he has the unfortunate job of being the bearer of bad news? Yes. He can’t control this process either, but because he was never as excited or “on board” with the home birth process as I was, I feel like he won somehow. What kind of terrible person am I that thinks this way about the love of her life?? No, I can’t fight with him using fists or weapons. My sadness and silence is enough to break his heart, and that’s no way to win a war. After all, our marriage does not consist of game-playing (unless it’s board games) or lying. He knows I’m devastated. I know he’s devastated for me. We both lose.

Do I fight with the midwives for charging their fees? No way! They are awesome people who I wish nothing but the best towards. They have to survive and maintain a practice. Ultimately, the fees they charge are minuscule compared to the fees billed to the evil insurance company. Hindsight wishes I would have known my options sooner and tried to plan better for these expenses. Better luck next time, I say.

I guess that leaves only one more option of who I can pick a fight with: myself. I can explain why I feel so strongly about birthing at home. It has something I do with wanting the best and most joyful birth experience to help me bond with this little baby I’m carrying inside of me. The same baby that I’m having some trouble bonding with right now. Also the same baby I’m terrified about being a mother to. I feel like having the kind of birth I want/need would bond us for life because she and I did it together. Anywho, the psychology of my mind runs deep and is often too twisty-turvey to put into words. This is true, though. I will battle with myself always. Mind versus heart versus the outside world versus knowing what is versus wishing what could be, etc. This battle is sure to go on for a long, long, time. Hopefully I will come out victorious…someday.

The Hardest Job in the World: What no one ever told me about being a mom

“Being a mom is the hardest job you’ll ever have,” said my mom to me when I was pregnant with Jake. She was almost telling the truth. This is what would have been the most accurate statement: “Being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is the hardest job you’ll ever have.” PERIOD. EVER. Not only is it physically exhausting, but it is mentally and emotionally draining. It requires stamina and focus and great vigilance. It never ends because your kids never stop needing you, and you don’t have set hours. Not at 7 a.m., not at 8 p.m., not at 2:24 a.m. When I’m upset, sad, blue, or whatever, I don’t get to go to my room and cry because my little person needs me to be present and available at all times, so if I need a good cry, he is often a witness to it. I guess that’s OK – at least I’m being honest and showing him that he should not be afraid to show emotions.

Regardless of the hours, the lack of personal time, the isolation from the rest of society, etc. the most challenging part of being a SAHM is that it is full of contradictions. For example, I’m so completely bored with the same routine day in and day out, yet I’m overwhelmed by this routine sometimes. Could I imagine leaving him, though, with another person during these most important months and years? NO. Absolutely not. Would my heart break into a million bits every time I had to drop him off at daycare. YES! So why, why, why, WHY can’t I be more thankful? Another example is the absolute joy I feel when Jake learns something new, giggles, or does something heartwarming. But on the flip side, the resentment I sometimes feel towards my lack of freedom or my loneliness as the only adult in this house ALL DAY LONG every day of the week completely sucks the joy right out of life sometimes. These huge shifts from happy to sad, joyful to resentful, comfortable to terrified, and so on make being a SAHM the hardest job of all.

On top of already feeling this way sometimes, I am about to bring another baby into this world in November. I will be a SAHM to a 14.5 month old and a newborn. Don’t ask me how I’ll handle it. I have no idea. The level of terror and hesitation I feel outweighs the excitement all the time. The idea of having two incredibly needy babies means that there will be even less time for the things that I need in my life to keep me sane, BUT I suppose the joys and laughter will double right along with the tears and frustrations.

Lord help me to succeed in having the hardest job I’ll ever have.

New vs. Old

I’m at a place in my life: a crossroads.  A place where I’m certain about my regrets but uncertain about my hopes.  This place is a lonely place, a raw place, and place of sensitivity.  Since I am a believer of Christ, I believe that the Lord has a plan for my life.  I know that what I endure on earth and how I respond to trials are all for God’s glory.  But, in a church service this past Sunday, I was strongly convicted that my faith in Christ and my hope in His plan for me had seriously diminished over the course of the last several months.  There are a few problems with this.  The first problem is that I realize now that I do not fully understand and/or accept God’s unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy for me.  My slate has been wiped clean, and HE LOVES ME regardless of my past, present, or future sins.  Why can’t I forgive myself or let go of my past to accept the Lord’s love?  There was a time in my life when I gripped so tightly to God’s grace that I never thought I would doubt it in my life.  Through a series of difficult events, I think I’ve honestly lost hope that the Lord knows my heart and can guide me through what to me seems like an impossible situation.  However, I want to get back to basics with Him.  I was reminded of an incredible Bible verse that a very wise man shared with my husband and I almost a year ago.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am new.  God’s love has made me new.  No longer am I a slave to sin and death.  The old Jenny, the one that keeps creeping in, is DEAD!  Thank you, God, for making me new and gifting me with the Holy Spirit.  My prayer is that I would grow into this new creation that I am.  To find my identity in Christ, I must put away my “old ways” of evaluating my self-worth.  I need to have God-esteem, not self-esteem.