Excuse Monster + Chaos Creater

Photo Credit: Kasey Erin

I’ve done a lot of self searching this last week. I’ve spent a lot of time reading Christian literature (pick up Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson and Pressing Pause if you haven’t.)  

I had many revelations, a few I’ve shared on my Personal Instagram and Facebook, and many more I’ve written down into my journal. I spend a lot of my days worried about whether or not I’m doing a good enough job showing my children how much I love Jesus. I’m not. Never mind how badly I fail at it day-to-day with others I encounter. If I’m being honest. 

You see, I spend a lot of time in my life being an “excuse monster.” I heard this term on a team building excercise with my company. Let me tell you what it means. 

It means you make an excuse for everything. 

You probably do it, too. It’s okay. The first step is to own it. 

With my team, it was used to point out the excuses we make with our business. 

  • We don’t have many sales because everyone else has bigger groups
  • We don’t have time to do a live sale every week
  • We just don’t have good enough inventory to pull together outfits 

My life is so full.

Of excuses. 

  • I should really read my Bible, but I’m too tired.
  • I only lost my temper because they have been told a million times not to _____________
  • He’s tired?! I’m the one that had to run this circus today. 
  • I should lead a Bible study with mama’s my age. No one would participate.
  • What if I invited ladies over for fellowship? This house is crazy. Who am I kidding.

I spend a lot of my time praying that God would just deliver me to my reward. 15 years from now. (Don’t burst my bubble. I have so much hope in my children to need less of me).

Pressing Pause pointed out that we should stop saying “God, get me out of here.” And start asking Him, “God, why have you brought me here?” 

Where I am, right now, buried in diapers, potty training, wakeful nights, early mornings, bottles, and no peace and quiet. That’s where He brought me. This is the beautiful mess He has blessed me with, and what would I lose if he plucked me out of this? 

I would lose out on the opportunity to teach my children about the love of Jesus. About His strength and majesty. About His promises to me, and them, and every single soul.

Matthew 5:9 says, “blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”

Peacemakers.

What happens to a child when their mama walks in the room? 

Weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’s what.

What does your husband say? “Babe, they were so good the whole time. I don’t understand why they behave like this the moment you get home.” 

I know why. I’m not a peacemaker, friends. 

I’m a chaos creator. 

You know what makes that stressed out, frazzled, crazy woman turn into a kind and gentle soul who lovingly corrects her children? Jesus. 

It’s about time I stop blaming my reactions on my situation. It’s about time I stopped wishing myself out of the circus I live in with all of the monkeys I made. It’s about time I stopped making excuses for why my behavior is everyone else’s fault.

It’s not about how people treat you. It’s not about the words that they say. We are responsible for our own actions and reactions.

When I sit down with my savior every day and remind myself of His unconditional love I am better prepared to hand it out to everyone around me. (It doesn’t have to be in the morning. I’m still filled up from the night before. Or during lunch. Or at the playground. Stop making excuses.) I’m ready to tackle the day because I know I have the ultimate defender on my team. I know that He knows the plans for my day and I know that they are good. Because He is good. 

I know that it’s time for me to stop making excuses and creating chaos around me because of those excuses. I am wild in my love for Christ and I am free to share that love with the world. 

Stop making excuses, mama. 

Say your sorry to your sweet baby you snapped at and remind him that you love him, unconditionally. Tell him about His savior who is perfect and never loses patience. Tell him that you want to be like that savior and ask him to remind you of that. It’s hard, but it’s right.

Stop telling yourself those mama’s at church don’t wanna see your messy house or hear what you have to say about a Christian book you read. They struggle with everything you do and so many different things you haven’t yet. God put them there, next to you. Go find out what beautiful plans He has hidden in them. 

Settle in, for five minutes every day, with a Christian devotional book or, better yet your Bible. And be with Jesus. You found 5 minutes to check Facebook while they watched a movie. Use your time wisely. He is more fulfilling. I know. First hand. 

Are you an excuse monster? Do you create chaos around you? How does this reflect in your relationships with your spouse and children? 

He has already made you new. Let Him work in you. 

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for who you are. You are good and loving and perfect. Let us worry less about how incapable we are to find the energy or the time and remember that you are all we need. Stop our excuses in their tracks. Remind us that everything starts and ends with you. Help us to show others your unconditional love and peace that passes understanding in every moment of our day. Shine your light through us. We want so much to be who you made us to be. Amen.

Photo credit: Whispering Pines (Kayla Powell)

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Change with an Unchanging God

It’s been 8 long months since I sat down here to write. I kept telling myself I only had ordinary things to say. Salem started preschool, we sold our home and moved, in preparation for another move. The holidays came and went. I started a business in my home. My husband was gone for 2.5 months, during which I traveled to meet him, and we received the ticket to our next chapter. 

I settled into a day to day rhythm full of ordinary and rhythmic patterns. I spent a lot of time wrestling my children on my own and in A bitter argument with God over how wrong His timing was for our move. Who am I kidding, we’re still arguing. 
And today I’m sitting here sipping coffee, once more, staring down the last stretch of days that I will be handling my home alone, in the face of a giant move. Overwhelmed and overworked with a heap of to do piles still to accomplish, I’m reminded of a few truths.

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

I have prayed earnestly for a year for God to pick up my family and take us to a place where we can be “we.” The last four years my husband has spent 85% of his time at work. We signed up for it, and I was begging for it to be our time to rest. 

Here we are, less than 2 months from our move. The Lord has written our new chapter and we’re upon it. It’s on our doorstep and I’m so busy stressing out about the process of how to get there I’m forgetting to live inside the process. 

I’m not ready. I am a type A and I want everything to be where it belongs and clean to send off and greet us. But my, how He has provided for us. 

We have a home awaiting our weary heads. We have loving arms to hug us here, and there, and on the way. We have hands to carry babies when our hands are full of babies (I have 4 babies. Ha!) 

We have friends to laugh and break bread with all along the journey, and friends that pray for us even when we have settled in. 

You see, there was always a “way in the wilderness” and “rivers in the desert.” 

I’ve been too busy arguing and being ungrateful to see the ways He’s arranged and planed FOR me. Tapping my foot about timing and how long it’s taking. This entire process has been blessed by a God who is the Great I AM. He is not surprised and He has handled each tiny detail.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How blessed am I that He is patient with me? I am not worthy of such love and devotion and still He covers me in it. He is faithful and true. He kept His promise to me, to deliver me not only from sin but also from this difficult chapter for our family. He sent us so much help and love, which we were not at all worthy, But still, He did. He cared for us all the while. 

I have a plaque on our wall that lists the places we’ve been stationed. The top reads, “home is where the navy sends us” 

Sebastian and I have joked about it, because, to us, the Navy works for the Lord. He knows where we will go before they do. Truly, it should read, “home is where the Lord sends us.” 

Even still, this world is not truly our home. My hope and prayer during this time of transition for my family is that we can remember to focus on the bigger picture. We can remember who we work for and how much more important that work is. That our next chapter is full of much more devoted work for the kingdom (because we slacked here..). 

I hope during the next few months you can keep my family in your prayers. The friends and loved ones we leave behind us, as well. And that with all the transition and adjustments, because there will be so much of that, that God will shape us and work us into the beautiful goblets He had in mind, with minimal resistance from our stubborn selves. 

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Xoxo

Candace

Introducing Your Children to Jesus

I’ve been struggling for about a year on how to start talking to Salem about Jesus. 

I’m pretty firm in my belief that I want my children to understand that having a relationship with God is on them. My faith will not save them. Their dad’s faith will not save them.

It is entirely their responsibility to pursue God. They’re responsible for their own sin, and the consequences, until they give it to God. My job is to teach them, but it is their choice to remain teachable. 

I cannot force them to believe what I believe, but it my ongoing prayer that they will experience God’s endless love for them. 

They will have seasons of doubt, struggle, and lies. It cannot be avoided. And I want the door to remain open so that they know we can talk about it. They should never feel intimidated by my beliefs nor should they feel they need to feel embarrassed or shy about their intimate thoughts with God, be they love or doubt. 

But he’s turning 4 in October. So where do you start? That is a whole lot of deep theology to push onto a 4 year old who simply wants to watch toy story and put his underwear on backwards. 

I sat in silence waiting for God to answer my question. “Show me how to teach them to know you.” 

Silence.

I have to admit, I kinda got nervous I was the idiot in that joke, waiting on the roof top in a flood when God has already sent 3 means of rescue and I didn’t understand and I die. 

Today, my prayer was answered. 

I was feeling really discouraged. Every morning I fail to wake up before them. Every evening I fall asleep waiting for them to sleep. I couldn’t find a spare minute to sit down in silence with God. I was so ready for quiet devotional time. 

Well, today I boldly pursued him in the presence of my children. I shared a picture on my Instagram (honorableliving) stating this:

“When I was little, someone told me I should sit down with God in the morning or in the evening. When the world was still quiet. I took that as a Biblical truth, and for the last almost 4 years of motherhood I was discouraged. So discouraged. I was failing. But then, the last few days I realized my quiet time was never coming. It’s now or never. And Jesus gave you all this noise surrounding you and he can sure as heck talk over it. So, amidst the joyful squeals of toddlers playing and occasional cries of babies, I sat down with Jesus. There’s a real possibility quiet time is never coming, and if you keep telling yourself tomorrow you’ll wake up early or tonight you’ll stay up late, you’re making real excuses and missing out on really good truth. So sit down in the commotion and read through the chaos. Because He doesn’t mind interruptions.”
Well, shortly after I posted the photo Salem came to me and said, “you talking to Jesus! You reading Jesus book!” With a proud grin.

At first I thought, “where did he hear that?”

And then I recalled.

Last Monday, Salem was falling asleep and I came in beside him with my new devotional books. He stirred and said “whatcha doin, mama?”

I said, “I’m reading about Jesus, Sal. Sometimes mama needs to talk with Jesus. Do you know Jesus loves you and wants to talk to you? Jesus loves me, too.” And he didn’t say a single word back. 
It didn’t even dawn on me that was like the other times I teach him something new. Sometimes, when Salem sees something and says “what’s that!” I answer. His reply is often silence as he processes and learns. 
So today, when I felt bold enough to do my devotions with a wild rumpus about, and he said that, I realized, how much better for them. To see their mom actively pursuing God. There is a time and place for intimacy and privacy with God. But I am not finding that in this season of my life. And His goodness can be found by my children if I choose to share those intimate moments in front of them. 

Today, God showed me how to teach them about Him. He showed me that the best way to teach is to do. If they cannot see me doing what I tell them to do, why would they ever do it? If they don’t see my struggles and shortcomings and the grace and love God shows me in spite of all that, how will they know to want that, too.

Having a quiet moment with God IS important, and for many, that is the right way to pursue knowing Him. But it’s not the only way. And if you’re like me, making excuses, tomorrow, tonight, later, because you’re simply too worn out to make it happen if those moments come up…

Sit down now and have a moment with Jesus. Wherever you are. Who cares if someone sees you? The best thing that could happen is that they ask,

“What are you doing?”

And you can answer them with the gospel.

I am not enough

Motherhood is a strange form of masochism.

We continue to do it every day even though it brings about pain and humiliation. 

I know some of my readers chuckled a little and thier brains proceeded to justify the horror we live through daily.

 “Yes yes, it is so hard, but it’s so very worth it when they smile/laugh/hug me/etc.”

Let’s talk about the hard seasons though, can we? 
The ones where every day with our toddler is a fight.

The ones where our 7 year old says “you say no every time! I never get to do anything fun. I hate you.”

Or maybe the ones where our teenagers say “mom you’re so boring. Why can’t you be more like so-and-so’s mom”

(Let’s take a pause. Do not discredit me for my eldest being 4. It was not long ago I was the ungrateful teenager above. 6 years ago. My memory is still sharp.)

Now I’m on the mommy end. Now I lay in bed at the end of each day, staring at my ceiling, going over and over the plays of the day. I think to myself, tomorrow. I will be different tomorrow. I will not yell. We will peacefully enjoy each waking moment of family life. 

You too? Something about those quiet, dark moments while we plead for sleep to come. We sit and think up all of the ways we’ll be better tomorrow. All of the ways we will be enough for our kids. We’ll make a healthy breakfast and we’ll play with them for hours, building the same incessant block tower. We’ll cuddle and watch movies. We’ll put our phones down when the going gets tough. Most of all, we’ll be enough. 

Can I tell you the truth? 

We can’t be enough for our kids. We are sinners and they are sinners. We get mad and they get mad. Everybody wants his or her own way.  It’s the same lesson I teach my toddlers. Every time you take a toy, someone else is doing without. There is never a winner.  And the fact of the matter is, when it’s all about us, someone has to lose, right?

You will never be enough. 

Before you hurry out of this screen, there is hope. 

What if we stopped trying to be enough and gave it all to God? 

I thought I understood that question a week ago. 

It doesn’t say, try your hardest and then God will fill in the rest. 

It says “stop trying and give it all to God”

I spent a lot of time and energy going through the motions every day. Breakfast, dishes, pick up, laundry, pick up, lunch, dishes, naps, laundry, pick up, play, dinner, bath, bed, dishes, pick up, trash, maybe shower, and flop onto a bed in pure exhaustion and defeated. 

In between all of that I had little patience left to give my children and little time. 

I convinced myself that my kids would find God somehow in all of that and He would make up for my failures. 

This past week has been a good one for me. I learned my worth and in that, I learned that it isn’t about me and it isn’t about me being enough for anyone else. 

The truth is, I am enough for God, and in that, I will be enough for the work He gives me to glorify Him and His kingdom.

My mornings are a little different now. I haven’t had much sleep this week. But then I have seen the sun creep over the mountains each day. The light pours across the wood floors. I see the tiny detail in each plank on the floor and I am reminded. 

He took the time on those details. 

He took the time on your details. 

He took the time on each of my 4 snotty nosed, giggling, tired and sweet babies’ details. 

I am reminded that today is not about me.

It is not about my children and whether or not I do enough for them. 

Today is about doing God’s work and glorifying Him.

Give it all to God. Before you lift a finger, let Him know that you know that today is His. 

Remind yourself your work is for Him. You are serving Him.

When your focus is on serving God and basking in His sacrifice for you and less on serving “ungrateful children who genuinely have no idea what you’ve sacrificed” little things tend to upset you less.

And you are enough to serve Him.

When you know that, the rest will follow.

Does that mean your kids will stop fighting? That your day will go smoothly with no traffic, lots of tips, and no flat tires.

Nope. 

Nowhere does God promise easy, fortune, and the perfect American life. 

But He does promise us peace. (Phil. 4:7)

He does promise us strength (Phil. 4:13)

He promises that he’ll never leave us nor forsake (renounce or give up) us. (Deut. 31:6)

I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds like all I need for breakfast to get me through the day. 

Peace, strength, and a God who is always with me and will never abandon me.

And He promises us so much more, if we only set aside our selfishness to accept a better eternal future than we could have imagined.

Broken Me

I never had the exciting revelation when hearing the gospel. My dad was a pastor when I was small, and I always knew of God. I never doubted his existence, his power, his knowledge. I knew the Earth was his, I know I am his. I know he gave me the Bible, which he spoke and breathed, and I know it to be true. 
When I was 17, my church back home taught me something new. There’s knowing of God and there’s knowing God. I was taught that we are called to know Him. To have a relationship with Him. So I set out learning who He was, because that’s how we know people here. We learn who they are, what the believe. 
When I set out to know my husband, I wanted to learn what traits he had. Most of that was expressed through his likes. He loves to read translates to he pursues knowledge. He loves calculus and chemistry and physics should have translated to, he’s too smart for you and you have nothing in common. But it didn’t, it just told me he is smart. He loves music told me he was going to have a tricky time telling me how he was feeling but I could check out his last listen on Pandora and I might be able to figure it out.

What did I know about God? What could I discern of His character from the Bible?

Omniscient 

Omnipresent 

Infinite

Wise

Sovereign

Holy

Faithful

Love

That last one caught me. It’s a tale as old as time. God is love. We teach our children “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.”

I didn’t believe that. I couldn’t sit here and tell you I did. It would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told. I did not believe that a God who could be described as all of those things could possibly in his right mind love me. Me. Broken me. 
Sermons were preached of grace and redemption. My cleanness. My newness. But I didn’t feel that. Because I wasn’t. In order to be those things you have to believe the Gospel. I didn’t. I believed in God. I believed Jesus came and did miraculous things like die on a cross and come back to life. But I didn’t believe He did it for me.

 I believe He made me and knew me before my parents could hear my heartbeat. But I didn’t believe that He could love me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned at the church we go to here in Hawaii(I’ve learned a lot), you have to believe it all. You can’t pick and choose what the Bible has to say. You can’t make it say what you want. It says what God wants and you have to find a way in your own heart, soul, and mind (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to believe it to be true. Because it is true. And I am not.
Then i started to read a devotional. It shed light on something I never noticed before. It took me to creation. When God created, what did he say when each creation day was complete. 

It was good. 

What does the Bible say about creation of man?
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬
He described the oceans and mountains and stars in the sky as good. He described majestic elephants and beautiful oak trees as good. And He gave it to mankind to care for and called it very good. 
He trusted mankind with this precious Earth. The mighty sea and the glorious mountains are mine to take care of, I inherited it, the Bible tells me so. This task was passed on because The male and female He created in His likeness are from whom I descend. 
He called Earth and the Universe Good.

He created Me in His image.
Mankind fell from grace, which puts me here, where I am now. Struggling to understand how a perfect and beautiful God could love my brokenness. 
But I have one truth now to help me see that love. It’s in creation. I was designed for perfection. Not in the world. But I have a divine promise of that beauty and grace. I have the keys to the kingdom if I can believe that He loves Me. 
The next truth I found was in John 3:16. A bible verse I memorized for a jolly rancher at Awana at Grace Bible Church. Mr. Rotteire I took Gods word and hid it in my heart and it’s here still today. 
“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not parish but have everlasting life”
You probably went into autopilot reading that.
Me too. 
Read it again. Slowly. 
For God so loved the world that he gave STOP
I’m a mom now. I wasn’t when I learned that verse. And I don’t think you have to be a mom to understand, because you have one. 
I grew a person. Hands, heart, brain, eyes. All those miraculous things that just work. I grew 4 persons. I have lines on my tummy to tell you so. And I have shadows under my eyes to tell you so. I have spit up on my shirt to tell you so. And tears on my fingers. And germs on my lips from kissing owies. 

My body gave to grow them. I gave them life, quite literally. With help, of course, from my husband and a divine creator. 
I gave them food from my body. I give them hugs and kisses everyday. I give them direction and guidance. I give them an ear when they want to tell me for the 400th time that there’s a lizard (or a wizard, depends on who is doing the talking) on the ceiling. 
I give to them with no intent to receive anything back.

 I cannot guarantee that when they’re grown they will love me. I cannot know that they will speak to me on occasion or daily. I cannot know that they will forgive me for every failure they witness me perform. 

They will know that when they’re grown I love them and have always loved them. 
They will know that I want to speak with them daily, if they choose.
They will know that I forgive them for every failure I witnessed them perform. 
I should know that God loves me and has always loved me. 

I should know that He wants to speak with me daily, every moment, if I so choose.

I should know that He forgives me for every failure He’s seen me perform and every failure He knows is coming. 
How much more beautiful is the last set than the first. The love a mother has for her children is iconic. It’s used over and over to show selflessness. Unconditional. 
It was designed by the Master. It is modeled after the most divine design. 
For God so loved the world he gave.
With no intent that He should receive. 
That’s Love. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. 
He wants us. Whether or not you’ve experienced a healthy relationship with your mother, (she can’t know that you’ll forgive her for all her failures), a relationship with Him is perfect. There is no flaw from His end. He didn’t fail you. He gave without expectation. He loves you. 
And me. 
Broken me.

Ralph

Birth should empower you. No matter how it happens, you should walk away confidently. You should feel proud of your body, soul, and mind. You should look at your sweet baby’s face and remember how strong you were and how hard you worked to meet him. 

Why wasn’t I feeling that way this time around? I certainly love this baby with my whole heart. But every time I think back to how he got here I get uncomfortable. 

….

June 2nd, 2016 

Around 9 am, I started feeling anxious. Like I was late for an appointment and stuck in traffic. Or trying to find a parking spot at tripler. 

I busied myself with laundry. Washing, hanging, folding. Then I realized I kept needing to sit down every 5 minutes or so. I was having contractions! 

Oh. No. Today is not the day. Sebastian gets frocked tomorrow, mom and dad just signed their lease and want to move! I mean, no. Just a fluke.

Like all the other times.

As the morning went on, I neared my appointment with captain swift (the very same from Maebel and Marvins birth stories. My very favorite). I texted Sebastian to call as soon as he could and drove myself to my appointment. 

I walked in and the contractions were now 4 minutes apart. Easy though. They’re not making me hold my breath. They’re easy. 

She asked if I wanted her to move things along, but I declined. For said reasons above, I didn’t want to have this baby today. 

I left the hospital and Sebastian called, “so I have training this afternoon. Are we having a baby?” 

“No. Kristen thinks I won’t make it through the day let alone the weekend, but I’m going to lay down and chill out and cross my legs.”

He went back to training, I went home and laid down. Trying to nap I watched as Kayla fed the kids lunch and got them in bed for naps. 

Around 2:15, I felt a little squish. Shoot, I must really have to pee. A little more. Not pee.

I rushed to the bathroom, a little excited and a little disappointed at the timing. But at least it wasn’t 2 AM! And at least there’s no traffic to tripler!!

I sat down to let the remaining water go and laughed at my movie-like start. It’s never happened like this before! 

Then I saw it. Green water. 

Oh. No. He pooped. The baby pooped. He’s in distress and I’m 30 minutes from the hospital and I won’t be able to live if I lose him! 

I texted my family and close friends, asking them to pray. Then I called the boat. I remember someone saying something (turns out I knew the guy who answered! I must have been very out of it because that didn’t register one bit).

“Is petty officer W there? He’s in the Chiefs quarters for training. My water just broke.” 

In no time he was one the phone. “Hey! Is it baby time?”

I confirmed and then waited until he called on his cell phone to tell him that my water had been dark. After some quick googling, he assured me that he’s probably fine, late babies poop, and it’s most likely not a big deal. 

Most likely < — that’s what I heard

We got to the hospital and told them the circumstances of my water. They sat us in the waiting room.

“Well it must not be a huge deal, babe. No ones rushing you in!”

After about 5-10 minutes, a nurse came in to start our check in. She checked his heart rate. “He’s fine. Just pooped. No worries as long as his heart rate stays up!” 

Big fat sigh of relief from all parties in the room. At this point my mom had joined Seb, Kayla, and me. She brought her own “don’t mess with me” attitude which definitely helped me settle in and not be too concerned about interventions being pushed. 

We met with the on call midwife. She had me sign the paperwork and excitedly discussed my plan to continue with this labor with no pain medication. She was hopeful, what with this being my 4th, that she’d get to see it happen, but assured me that I could relax and she’d do her best to get me what I needed. 

We got to the room and waited. I started to get a bit concerned, cuz nothing’s worse than being a 4 and waiting for the contractions to hit you like a freight train. But they didn’t. They were easy. I slipped into a nice trance like state and waited for my baby to kick things into gear. 

Then came shift change. 

A midwife has the ability to set the tone of the entire delivery. Her role is an important one. It comes with power. 

This midwife knew that. 

I was about 6 hours into my labor. Because my water had broken, she didn’t want to perform any exams for risk of infections (for which I was thankful) but then. Then the intervention words came. 

“You know, if it doesn’t seem like you’re moving along, we will have to address some other options. Pitocin could be really helpful at this point to speed things up.” 

I shook my head no. 

“Well, you know we can’t be doing a whole lot of exams, but it’s important that your body start to show some signs that you’re hitting transition. You’re a multip, so it’s not like it’ll be long. But we’re on a timer with your water being broken. We could ultimately end up with a cesarean.” 

Timer. Pitocin. Why aren’t you progressing faster? Cesarean. 

All of a sudden I felt rather small. You see, I know how my body labors. I hang out at 4-6. Whether it’s my 1st or my 4th, it didn’t seem to matter really. 

But now I started to doubt myself. Every labor is different. What if somethings not working this time? All the while my mom is asking about other options, less painful and invasive than pitocin. All of which she’s not considering at all.

She left the room, and my husband made light of the situation. My mom assured me no one was coming near me without getting through her. 

At this point my contractions were weak. Like, calling them a contraction demeans the word contraction. I was alert and awake and very hungry. 

Kayla went for coffee for all of them and a sandwich for me. No one said I couldn’t eat, but I didn’t want to chance it. So I comically ate my subway with an ear toward the door. 

With a full tummy and an empty bladder, I laid back down. Murmurs of “you should walk” were heard as I zoned out. I walked last time. It wore me out. I wasn’t interested in being utterly exhausted at the end. Chances were I’d be tired enough. Every time she came back into the room I left my eyes closed. 
This is backwards. I’m never timid. But every time I talk she explains why my experience probably isn’t what’s happening. She explains her knowledge about it. She makes my experiences feel like opinions. 

Around 10 (I think) I told my husband I felt pressure. And nauseous. He asked for them to come in and she performed the first exam since she’s been there. 

“Only a 6. And 85%. Certainly not time to push.” 

Sebastian said “okay. Well she always vomits during transition, and she’s feeing nauseous. This part is pretty fast too. You’ll need to be close when she does have to push the babies come fast.”

“How fast?” The nurse asked, “no worries, I have caught babies before!”

One push and the last two flew out — i said. 

“Oh I pushed for over 2 hours with mine!” Chimed the midwife “well be close. But she has awhile. And there’s never a guarantee that this one will come that quickly too.”

She doesn’t believe me. This is literally my worst nightmare. She’s not going to be here. I need her to be here. 

Insert panic mode. I’ve now lost all relaxing labor techniques. I have zero trust in the team I’m going to have catching my baby. 

My contractions are worse. I have to breathe through them. 

Around 1 AM I can’t get comfortable. I’m exhausted. I’m telling my team that I’m hot and cold. I have puked 2 times (subway was not ideal). 

She does another exam “you’re still only an 8. I’m going to step out and check on another mom”

I’m not sure what happened at this point. I just remember feeling very overwhelmed. I wanted to cry a lot. I felt very abandoned and not safe at all. I was mad, too. How dare she not believe me? I know how I work. I know this baby is in my pelvis. I can go from 8-10 in a flash. 

I got up to go pee for the 400th time. This time there was no more green. The first clear use of the toilet. I got back to the bed and could no longer fathom laying down. The nurse took a hair too long to help me up into the bed and the contraction that came was unbearable. I leaned on the back of the bed with my back to the room. I remember fighting through 3-4 contractions here. I remember wanting to lay down and sleep and be comfortable but having the worst restless leg syndrome. I remember not being able to find an angle to get my head comfortable. 

Then, I felt him turtle. 

I need to push. 

I’m pushing – I said. 

According to my husband, I was very matter-of-fact. Eerily lucid. And she looked unbelieving. 

My mom urged her to look. 

Sure enough, when she lifted my gown he was starting to crown. 

She rushed to get gloves on. For the first time since Salem a baby sat and waited for another contraction. I pushed again, his head came and the rest of him followed, albeit, more painfully than the head. I have yet to know why that was the case.

At 1:58 AM on June 3, 2016 Ralph Alistaire Warren was born, weighing 8 pounds 4.3 oz and measuring 21 inches. 

They tried to hand him to me through my legs, which overwhelmed me a lot, I wanted to turn over, but I was having trouble communicating that. 

There was a lot of chaos. A lot of pulling at IV cords and detatching monitors. Then I felt her tug my cord. 

“Wait until it’s done pulsing to cut it.” 

“It’s about there” she handed Sebastian the scissors. 

He cut the cord and then handed it back. I felt a tug again.

“No I want it to detatch on its own” 

She agreed, but not joyously. I was trying to focus on my baby, who was crying very loudly. But I felt like I needed to make sure she wasn’t pulling. 

A few minutes later she said its right here. Give a little push.

So I did. 

Then. Then the most unimaginable pain I’ve ever experienced. 

She told me she needed to remove my clots. She reached up, you know, where an 8 pound baby just traveled in tight quarters, and proceeds to drag her fingers across my uterus while pushing on my stomach. 

This happened 4 times. I cried out. I asked her to stop. I felt like I was begging her. Somewhere in between 2-4 she mumbled a reason as to why she had to do this while I was holding my minutes old baby. Something about milk supply and infection. They sounded like puny threats.

They call it the golden hour. I truly only remember the gold fluorescent lights I stared at while someone dug around inside me. 

I remember after. When I saw 8 pounds on the scale and stared in disbelief. I remember after they wrapped him back up and gave him to me again, I thought, he has a big nose. 

But that first hour I remember feeling panicked. I remember feeling rushed. 

Because of those memories, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring myself to a hospital to have a baby again. 

No, that doesn’t mean we won’t have more children. It does mean, that I will choose 1 maybe 2 people to be my midwife. It means I’m not interested in the luck of the draw anymore. I want to know the person at my birth and I want to know I can trust them to ask me before performing something and explain to me it’s necessity. 

I don’t want to be doubted. I want my provider to trust me. I want to be able to trust me. I don’t want to be put on the back burner because I’m not going fast enough. I want to feel important and prioritized, no matter how slowly my children choose to come. 

Most importantly, I never want to leave a birth feeling disappointed ever again. I want to only focus on my new baby, not get distracted by all of the ways my hospital stay didn’t sit right. I don’t want to keep remembering all of the ways I was wronged. 

My sweet little ralphie is perfect. Even though my labor wasn’t what I dreamed about, my baby boy is. Yes, we’re both healthy and yes, I am thankful. But I expected more from the team that was there. And I should be able to expect more. Birth should always leave you feeling empowered.

It’s Not the Home I Love

Since March 17 we have been fortunate to take a trip home. We are “small town” Midwesterners. That’s in quotes because everyone’s definition is different. 

It’s not so small that we literally know everyone. But we know a lot of people. 

It’s small enough that your high school teachers keep in touch. Small enough that baristas remember you from a sibling. Small enough that it only takes 5 minutes to get from one side of town to the other. 
Small enough that church members and friends friends help pay for an airline ticket to get your family there. 
I’m talking heart of Illinois. Geographically and in terms of the sweetest love and welcome we’ve ever experienced. 

Midwesterners fill your heart and your tummy. And they hug you even if they’ve only heard of you and never met you. 

This place will always be our home. It’s where our deepest roots feed our souls. It’s where we will always go to be refreshed, mind, heart, body, and soul. 

This trip was very special, besides all that. 

My parents closed the door to my childhood home. 

I have 8 siblings and each one took the sale in their own way, as we all do with every life event. 

Me? 

My parents have begun the next chapter. They are together, quietly existing with each other in paradise. Hard earned and more than welcome. 

As far as the house goes?

 “It’s not the home that I loved, but the life that I lived there.”

I will probably always punch in the address when we visit and need directions back to town, because some habits you just can’t break. 

But I’m so happy for the new family who lives there. The small children filling that house with noise. Squabbles and laughter.

I’m so happy that the house my great grampa Ralph built will see yet another families memories. 

We named this baby before we knew about this trip. We knew who he was before the events that led to the sale of my parents home occurred. But in light of it all, how fitting that he will represent this period of our lives by his name.

 Photo credit: Megan W. 
We look forward to welcoming you

Ralph Alistaire Warren

On the Steps of Calvary

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity 

I grew up “in the church” as many modern day Christians like to say. My dad was a pastor before I was born, and into my early years of childhood. We moved to Illinois where “he got a real job,” as most of my school peers said. He never stopped sharing his faith with me, and I never stopped asking. My aunt continued to share her testimony with me by bringing me to pioneer girl camp. I sang worship songs. I “accepted Jesus into my heart” at a young age. 

I always knew God was there. I didn’t always know God. I learned the difference  at Calvary. 

I always struggled with my testimony. There was no a-ha! I had no radical conversion. My story seemed less interesting, and what little I had I struggled with whom to credit for my conversion. 

You see, many helped me get here. 

In reality, God changed my heart and I welcomed the change. 

I never thought much about my testimony until I came back to Illinois after 3 years of being away from our home base. 

I was pretty hardened by our sea tour in Hawaii. Deployment caused depression. My body kicked into survival mode with as busy as my husband’s work schedule was and how difficult a time I had juggling our home and family without him (thankfully I have my parents at my side). But the softening came. It didn’t happen at first for me. I got here and I mostly slept a lot. Then I went to the blend and the smell warmed up my insides. Like when you light a fire in a fireplace of a dusty cold room that’s been empty. Funny how smells can bring back old parts of you. Then I went to calvary on sunday, and I stood there looking up at the cross and thought about how much had happened to me and how different I was. Then I got this horrible feeling, like maybe I didn’t belong there anymore. Then Clayton started praying and I felt a little whisper telling me that I’m so very much the same. That I was different, but I hadn’t been spending quite enough time being the same old me. I had been a bit preoccupied with being the mom of 3 kids me.

And there she was, wiggling to be out of the Saran Wrap i had wrapped her in. Trying so desparately to let the feelings happen. This was a place where it was okay to be weak and weary. 

When I was in high school, most of my struggles centered on trying to make Sebastian understand how compatible we are. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated, but that’s the base line introduction. I was in love and he wasn’t and the struggle was so very real to 14-18 year old me. 

Deep inside it was a self love issue. If he couldn’t love me, maybe I shouldn’t. 

That’s where sin creeps in. It wasn’t Sebastian intentionally making me feel that way. I’ve said it before, our feelings are our own. The sooner we take responsibility for them, the sooner we can work with God to change our hearts. 

One day, when we were on good terms, Sebastian brought me to a youth group he had been attending. I met Clayton.

Clayton introduced me to having a relationship with God. Knowing Him instead of knowing of Him. He helped me hatch from my egg, as C.S. Lewis said.

Other people had told me this before, but God spoke to me there, at that moment. 

There I learned that being a Christian was having a relationship. Just like all relationships, you have to invest time and energy and love into them. 

I figured out how to pray, I struggled through devotions and making time for God. 

It’s been about 7 years and I still can’t get a rhythm. Praying in public feels wrong to me, it’s a privacy thing that I can’t seem to shake. Making time for devotionals with 3 kids doesn’t happen daily. If I told you it did it would be a big fat lie. 

Most importantly, I still struggle with the thought that God could ever have the time and energy to love little old me. To hear me when I struggle. I doubt him. And that doubt bleeds into my parenting. I see it. I watch it happen. I know it has to stop and I need to change again.

But if I told you my testimony as the happy story of always knowing of and eventually knowing him, but I failed to include my relationship with him now, well, it wouldn’t be real. 

My relationship with God is real. It’s raw. And I’m working on it. And a testimony isn’t just past tense. It’s present. And future. When you recognize that He is with you, and was and always will be, that’s where it all makes sense. You’ve been writing your testimony all this time, and you’re writing it every day, still.

What is important to me is sharing this story. Letting others know that there doesn’t have to be a firework display and a big emotional finding of God. There can be. But your story, your relationship with God isn’t any less real because it was gradual. 

On the steps of Calvary God made me whole. I walked up and down them many times and before I knew it, my soul was changed and my heart hungry for him always. 

  

No Such Thing as Normal

Today, I went to see my lovely midwife. She checked on our 4th baby before I fly home on Wednesday. While I was there, I decided it was the perfect day to take my Gestational Diabetes test.

For those that are unfamiliar with this test, it takes about an hour of your life. You drink a nasty drink, then wait around for an hour so they can take your blood.

Well, during this hour I walked about the hospital grounds some. In a secluded little walk path hidden by some bushes I heard a baby crying. A new baby. You can always tell because their cries are so soft and small.

Nosy me, with three kids three and under and a fourth due in May, it’s clear I love babies, I walked toward the sound. The bushes cleared a bit and there I saw a new mom, holding a screaming baby. She was sobbing. Big shoulder shifting tears.

I suppose some people would have turned around and given her privacy. But if I was her, I would only hope that someone would come to me.

“Do you want me to try and hold the baby for you?”

She looked up at me, a bit shocked as she didn’t hear me coming I assume.

“She won’t stop crying. I can’t get her to eat and her diaper is dry and she won’t stop crying.”

“That’s okay, I have 3 at home. I don’t mind a fussy baby. I’ll sit right next to you and when you feel up to trying with her again I’ll see if I can help?”

She nodded with her lip a little quivering.

We got to talking. The baby, Kate, was born ten days ago. The mom had delivered her here at this hospital. I asked how her delivery was, to which she replied, “complicated.”

Not wanting to press the issue, I swayed a bit with little Kate who was starting to quiet down.

“She hasn’t met her dad.”

I met the mother’s eyes and never have I ever seen that sadness. You see, at a civilian hospital, you would assume this to be a single mother, a dad not in the picture. Because I go to an Army hospital, the reason the father would not be here, well, the possibilities are endless.

“He’s at sea. They were supposed to be back. She came early. He’s coming late.”

I sat down next to her. “I’m so sorry. I cannot imagine what you’re going through right now.”

“It’s normal, right? That’s what everyone keeps telling me.”

I sat for a minute and looked at this poor young mother. Completely alone. Here, on an island, far away from any family, if she has any. And others’ advice to her is to tell her what she is going through is normal.

“No. No it’s not normal. How is that supposed to make you feel when you see other new babies with both parents? When other mothers tell you their husbands were at all of their children’s births. Why you? I don’t think it’s fair to say that anything about our lives is normal. How you’re feeling right now is how you should be feeling. What you’ve been through isn’t right and wasn’t expected. Life doesn’t go as planned for anyone, but telling you your circumstance is normal is never going to help you cope with the traumatic situation you’ve been through.”

When you see someone struggling, hear them. Don’t tell them to suck it up and get used to it. This lifestyle is hard. We don’t get to make plans and have them work out very often, but we try our hardest to get whole families at births of babies.

She started to cry again, and I squeezed her hand while I bounced her baby with the other arm.

She doesn’t know me. We didn’t exchange names. When she calmed down, I helped her settle the baby and make sure she got her latched.

I stood up to leave and she thanked me. I replied, “thank you. I love holding new babies. I’m sure your husband can’t wait to see her. Just remember when you’re feeling overwhelmed that babies can feel these feelings in us and it overwhelms them too. Try to calm your nerves when you’re trying to get her to sleep or eat. I know that sounds impossible, but if you ever need help, I know there are a lot of people in this world who can help you. They’ll find you.”

I told her about a Facebook group we have on island, Breastfeeders of Oahu. She smiled and said she’d look for it today. So hopefully I see her again, although I don’t have to.

She taught me a lot about carefully choosing words today. Truly listening to someone’s struggles. Not comparing or writing them off.

You can’t always see a person’s battle. All the more reason to assume it is far more dire than they make it out to be.

Military spouses have a hard cut in particular. Have compassion on them and realize the sacrifices they have to go through. We don’t always “know what we signed up for” so don’t try using that line to make it better. Just like you can have bad days, so can we. I know it’s a hard life for those who haven’t experienced it to comprehend, but I don’t know that I’ve ever really *needed* someone to understand how hard it is. I just don’t want to hear that it’s normal.

 

There is no such thing as normal.

 

Kitchen Remodel

So last year we started remodeling our home we bought in August of 2014! We got a lot done, but I think the biggest (and my favorite) achievement was the kitchen. 

My dad cut these cabinet doors for me from bamboo.

The counter is Quartz. 

The original floor we kept, which is beautiful marble tile. 

The stove has since been replaced to match the dishwasher, the fridge will follow. And the skylights are done, yet. But what project is ever really finished?