Humbled, yet Psyched

Well, I am humbled, as well as super psyched, to be nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award (TWICE!). After working diligently on my blog since November, it is so nice to receive some recognition. Although it is not at all necessary: Writing is my thing, my calling, my favorite hobby, so recognition or not, I’m not going anywhere.

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I want to thank Saturated in Seattle (saturatedinseattle.wordpress.com) for nominating me and being such an awesome source of encouragement. She never fails to leave me the most uplifting comments, and I just know we would be great friends if given the chance to meet in person. Please, check out her blog if you haven’t already. She challenges me in my faith with each post she writes. She talks about some extremely difficult topics, but you will only grow closer to God through her stories, as well as develop an immense amount of respect for her.

 

I also want to thank Gospel Isosceles (https://gospelisosceles.wordpress.com/) for nominating me for this award. She has been such a loyal follower; I get so excited when she comments on my work. As for her blog, just WOW. Her writing is top-notch. Plus she deals in prose and poetry, which I have not discovered many bloggers that do both. I also haven’t discovered any blog poetry that I like, except for Gospel Isosceles. Her faith intermingles challenging and thought-provoking material. Excellent stuff!

 

To both of these ladies: I would no doubt be nominating you if I was allowed! You are superb.

 

Now, I’m going to attempt to answer the 11 questions Saturated in Seattle asked me to cover on this post.

 

  1. How did you come up with your blog name?

Peace has always been a very difficult concept for me. Despite my tight relationship with Jesus, I have never fully experienced the way in which he calls himself the Prince of Peace. It is lost on me because I am not only a constant worrier, but I also suffer from anxiety. Anxiety has plagued me most of my life, but it has been more present in my day-to-day within the past three or four years, I suppose we can blame adulthood for that. It finally occurred to me one day that I do not have to live with anxiety. My children don’t need to know me as a mom who gets really anxious sometimes; my husband doesn’t need to take on the task of calming me when I need it. Instead, the Lord can and will heal me from this. Since adopting this belief, which I should have adopted long ago, I have gained an immense amount clarity , and even though I still have anxiety, I know the Lord will sustain me through it.

 

  1. Favorite thing about blogging?

I absolutely, positively love to write. I used to be an English teacher, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, and my decision to get an English degree really centered on my love for writing. However, I lost my passion for it when I got busy with college, and became even busier in my career. This stage of my life gives me ample time to nurture my passion, and it has come alive like never before. I can’t stop. I write in my sleep, while I do dishes, driving my son to the library. It can sometimes be quite torturous to be honest with you. My husband caught me the other day with my computer in the garage when I was SUPPOSED to be staining some wood for him. Whoops! I’ve no control.

 

  1. Hardest thing about blogging?

The hardest part about blogging is definitely the feeling that I should be reaching more people. I have a tendency, like all Christians, to follow God’s call and assume I know what He intends for it. He never fails to throw me a couple curve balls. It is hard not to become consumed with the number of likes, shares, and comments. It seems as though the posts that I am most confident in receive the least amount of feedback. It can be discouraging. It is easy to forget that I write for myself and for the glory of God. I tend to get caught up in writing for other people. However, I have learned that this is a HUGE no-no. It takes all the fun away when I’m just in it for the glory, and a word to the wise, there isn’t an immense amount of glory in blogging. So, I strive to maintain my passion and continue to post, ignoring my feedback for the most part (although it is so appreciated). I still get a huge thrill when someone likes my post. I’m sure my fellow bloggers can relate.

 

  1. Go to music?

I am a country girl through and through. I’ve known siblings and friends who have bounced between loving country and hating it, even betraying it by listening to–dare I say–mainstream pop (Ick). I can honestly say I have never not liked country. I like the new country and I like the old country. The lyrics make me happy. Also, when I do need a break from country on occasion, I will turn on KLOV, although, Christian music tends to drive me crazy. I know that makes me sound like a Heathen, but hey, it’s the truth.

 

  1. Who do you admire most? Why?

This is a tough question because there is so many answers depending on what avenue of my life I need mentoring. My go-to answer would absolutely be Jesus Christ. I strive and fail each and every day to model his behavior and love for other people. He is pretty much a rock star, and He is the best writer around. His words give me life every day, keep me going, and the imagery cannot be matched, even by Steinbeck. However, for those who want a more personal answer, I would have to say my husband. I know this is going to sound cliché, but seriously, trust me when I say: He is the most patient human being like EVER. I am an incredibly difficult person to live with and I have hardly ever seen him angry, at me or anyone else. This is not because he locks up his emotions; this is because he is honestly just a man at peace, something opposite of his wife, a woman at chaos. I can’t get him angry even when I try. He loves his family and provides for us in ways that I am abundantly thankful for. He has a faith in the Lord that inspires me every day. His knowledge of the Lord is also hugely inspiring, something I really strive for in my own life. He runs a store of 50 employees with ease, and comes home with a smile on his face and time and energy for his family (even when he has no time or energy). He’s the best.

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  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Tulfes, Austria. Tulfes sits above Innsbruck, tucked into a mountainside. At least, this is how I remember it. I stayed at a hotel in Tulfes when my History teacher took a group of high school students to six European countries in 10 days. I have gained a lot of respect for this teacher since becoming a teacher myself. It was an incredible trip, but Tulfes, Austria calls to me. I will absolutely go back there someday.

 

  1. Would you rather live in the city or country?

This is a tough one. I grew up in a small town and hated the big city of Fargo, ND. However, now I live in Bismarck, ND and I absolutely love it. I have no desire to live in a small town anymore, which is more of a surprise to me than to anyone else. However, Bismarck, ND is more like a small town than a city to most parts of the country.  I suppose I could be happy anywhere, except on a farm. I do not want to live on a farm.

 

  1. Favorite meal?

Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. When I am sad or sick or crabby or have any other type of ailment, my husband immediately jumps in the car to go get me a taco from Taco Bell. I’m not kidding. It has magical powers. Speaking of, I may need one tonight, since my son has basically cried all day long. 

 

  1. One piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

Hang in there. Blog often. Cultivate your passion. Don’t blog for other people. Write for yourself and for the glory of God. Celebrate when you receive feedback, but don’t depend on it. Don’t give up. It takes a while to gain any followers, but if you are consistently solid in your writing, they will come.

 

  1. If you had a free afternoon, how would you spend it?

I would spend a free afternoon reading at Barnes and Noble. It is one of the things I miss most about being childless. I used to spend hours and hours on end just hanging out in Barnes and Noble, or any other coffee shop for that matter. It is the most relaxing thing in the world to me. One day, I would love to find a tiny, quaint coffee shop and make it my office, spending day after day there writing a book. I think this is what I will do when my kiddos leave me.

 

  1. What is the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

The last book I read was I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. It is a nonfiction story of a girl who grew up in a Taliban ruled nation, Pakistan, yet had the courage to stand up for education. She was shot in the head, but survived and continues to fight for what is right. Although it took me awhile to get through and bored me a bit at times, it was an excellent book. I would absolutely recommend it. This is what inspired my post Living Outside the Cocoon (https://pursuepeaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/living-outside-the-cocoon/).

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The next thing I am to cover to accept my award nomination is 11 Facts about myself.

 

Fact #1

I love to hunt. I love to bike. I love to drink Dr. Pepper in extravagant amounts. I love pigs. I love to ski. I love people.

 

Fact #2

I won 8th place in a greased pig wrestling contest when I was roughly 13 years old. I had a partner. She did most of the work. I’m slightly petite. Not much of a pig wrestler.

 

Fact #3

I rode a pig through a pig barn for WAY more than 8 seconds when I was a kid. I broke my foot, but gained a lifetime of pig showing glory.

 

Fact #4

I am a freelance writer for a local magazine, and I am constantly on the prowl for more opportunities.

 

Fact #5

I used to be a pretty good runner. I’m not anymore. Although the worse the weather, the better my run, every time.

 

Fact #6

 

I am attempting to start a ministry titled Casseroles for Small Souls where a group of women would provide dinner for any woman who has lost a child through miscarriage. The casseroles would be provided for a week and contain enough food for her family. She would also be assured that we would be praying fervently for her during this time. If you’re interested in knowing more, comment below 🙂

Fact #7

My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

Fact #8

Before I met my husband, I used to hang out regularly with 60-something couples and play Farkle. Yes, I do have friends my own age. In fact, one such couple (his grandparents) introduced us through a set-up disguised as a game night.

 

Fact #9

The greatest thrill on this earth is a snow day. Hands down. Who’s with me!?!

 

Fact #10

I have the absolute, most horrifyingly unique dreams of any one on the planet. I scare my husband nearly every day with my renditions of them. I don’t know what this says about me, but man, I am never bored when I’m sleeping.

 

Fact #11

Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He is the King of my life and my absolute go-to guy for (nearly) everything. He gives me rest. He quenches my thirst. He provides me with wisdom. He has saved me over and over and over and over. Without faith, I would be unsure of everything. My life would have no meaning. I would have no hope. I don’t understand how anyone in the world functions without it.

 

The following blogs deserve much more recognition than my own. Each post is consistently chocked full of wisdom, talent, and entertainment.

  1. Missing Eden (https://missingeden.wordpress.com/)–She never fails to inspire and equip me with wisdom and tips for being a good stay-at-home mom. She faces trials herself, yet is so insightful concerning the trials of other moms. Every time I read a post, I find myself taking a sigh of relief toward the end. Excellent!
  2.  Beauty Beyond Bones (https://beautybeyondbones.com/)– This girl finds some crazy interesting things to write about concerning her faith and how to incorporate it into the world around her. She has struggled with an eating disorder, but her posts are for anyone who seeks the Lord. She always introduces me to a new perspective that I have not considered, but I’m so glad she opens my eyes.
  3. Accidentally Single Blog (https://accidentallysingleblog.wordpress.com/) — I basically respect the crap out of this particular blog because for a long time, before I found my husband, I thought I would have to face the world as a single gal. She has such a positive outlook, and the humor she incorporates keeps me reading.
  4. Fire and Ink from the North Dakota Plains (https://stephenarthurlarson.wordpress.com/) — Although I may be cheating a little (since this particular blogger attends my church), this is a man after the Lord’s heart, not to mention His truth. Stephen writes about very difficult topics that all Christians should be seriously considering. He is knowledgeable and will challenge you to consider your Christian morals in reference to the struggles our nation faces. His witty personality shines through in each post, however, and he is quite exciting to read!
  5. Jessica Buczek (https://jessicabuczek.wordpress.com/)— I just discovered this mom blogger and haven’t had a ton of interaction with her. In fact, she’s probably going to wonder who I am when she sees I nominated her. However, her humor and positive outlook make each post awesome to read. She faces the challenges of any mom with faith and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has really impressed me so far with the writing I’ve been able to consume.

 

Nominees, if you are interested in accepting your nomination, please email me at pursuepeaceblog@gmail.com 

To all my readers: I’m sorry this was so long-winded. One of my not-so-good qualities is that I love to talk about myself, when given the opportunity, although I do try to keep it in check when people don’t ask, so don’t get the wrong idea about me. I hope Saturated in Seattle and Gospel Isosceles know how thankful I am for the nominations, and I hope those I nominated know how much I appreciate their blogs.

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Acceptance is not Love

I am painfully aware, as are many of my readers, that logic and rationality are no longer key components of the American culture. However, despite society’s passionate endeavor to do away with such things, there is still an absolute truth and a moral code in which we are all to live by. No amount of denial and ignorance is going to destroy it. Those who choose to ignore this absolute will never find peace and freedom.

 

Racked. Riddled. Defeated. As I lied in the arms of my husband just last night, I couldn’t shake these feelings. I had attempted, for the first time and with reservations, to express my disgust and distress over Target’s recent decision to designate their restrooms as gender neutral. Not surprisingly, I received some opposition.

 

 

To be honest, the gay-marrirestroomage debate has long been an irritation of mine and I have no qualms about speaking my mind about it; however, I have chosen to remain relatively closed mouthed about transsexuals as I have little to no understanding of the difficulties that these people face, nor do I have any idea of how to approach such things. My silence finally ended when Target, who I have had a fairly tight-knit relationship with for some time now (they have a great selection of diapers), all but backed me into
a corner–
enough is enough. To every Christian whose mouths remain shut about such issues, it is time to say, enough is enough.

 

When I spoke up about my Target boycott, it did not take long for me to be called intolerant, a bigot, a hater, and I have no doubt that many others must view me in this way. If every sympathizer of the trans-gendered is going to automatically dismiss me, and all Bible-believing Christians for that matter, as haters, then we don’t stand a chance against the lies and deceit that are currently infiltrating this country.

 

I have no idea if it is my duty, my Christian obligation, to stand up to every person who denounces the truth of God: every gay marriage lover, every baby murderer, and every Christian persecutor. It seems to me that those who distort and defile the word of God deserve a little opposition. However, I struggle to do this, despite my relatively big mouth.

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Every time I do stand up for truth, I end up feeling like a fool because it accomplishes nothing besides days of frustration for me. It is difficult to maintain faith that God continues to work in the hearts of those who label me a hater. God certainly does not need me to defend Him. Nevertheless, I feel like I should defend Him, that I am somehow honoring Him if I fight for Him here on earth. What that actually looks like, however, becomes a very gray area when I am in the thick of it.

 

This is where Christ becomes, for the millionth time in human history, all we have, our only hope, our rock, our fixed point. Christ equips us with all that we need to not only defend Him, but to honor Him in every word and deed, even if we fail. We tried, right? We fought. We went down swinging. So, to the Christians who have yet to speak up, maybe it is time to start offending some people.

 

So, here it goes. I am intolerant. I am a hater. I am a bigot. I am proud to call myself these terms. Why? Because I know a truth that will set every trans-gendered person free. It is God’s truth. Being allowed to treat your sex as if it is fluid will not rid you of the pain, nor the tumult of emotions, that you have experienced. The haters are not your problem. Your sympathizers are your problem. The lies that society is allowing you to accept are your problem. The people that say it is okay to self identify with a different gender are lying. It is not okay and it is certainly not your fault. It is your struggle. Your struggle that the Lord is desperate to purify your soul through; He will use it to perfect you, if you let Him. Fall to His feet, become His child, tell Him you need him–whether or not you admit that you need Him, it will always be true.

 

Gender neutral bathrooms will not set you free. A sex change will not set you free. Hormonal supplements will not set you free. Your Father, the freedomcreator of the universe, the God who knitted you together perfectly in your mother’s womb, calls to you from the desperate, imperfect voice of every Christian in America, and He is saying, “Come to me. Let me heal you. I love you.” We all need healing. The Christian. The Transsexual.
The Atheist. The Druggie. The Children. I needed healing from my selfishness when I entered into marriage. I needed healing from my anxiety when I had my son. The Lord heals. I am living proof.

 

God calls each star by name. He set the moon in the sky at the perfect distance from the earth. Mountains tremble at the sound of his voice. He perfected this sin-wrought, depraved world through the tragic death of His own son. This same God made you a male or He made you a female, and He does not make mistakes; He makes all things new, purifying even the filthiest, causing all things to work toward good. I speak because I know what will set you free, and it is not acceptance, it is resistance from Christians who love you.

 

To the transsexuals, to their sympathizers, to the fairweather Christians who say God is love, who say God accepts all peoples, no matter their sexual orientation. Yes, God is love, but the God who is love will let those who reject Him suffer in Hell for all eternity. God’s love extends to everyone, but the Lord’s justice prevails in the end, and we are all subject to it.

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So I am a hater of lies. I am a bigot toward sin. I am intolerant of people who support and sympathize a deceit that will destroy, not only the people dealing with sexual identity crises, but the moral fabric of this nation. We surely have to maintain the absolute truths that the Lord dictates for us; otherwise, we have absolutely nothing.

 

So, to the trans-gendered, homosexual, sexually struggling community, I will continue to display God’s truth to you, in the best way that I know how. Call me a bigot. Call me a hater. Call me intolerant. It will bother me; it will keep me up at night, but I will not be silent. I love you too much for that nonsense.  

No TV Until they are Three

I really don’t know if I’m ready to admit this. Right here. On my blog. For the whole world to see. But… Here it goes…. My husband and I love TV. There. I said it. We enjoy binge watching a drama on Netflix or watching the Friends series for the ten-thousandth time. We often choose to watch TV instead of play a board game or finish a long-forgotten project in the garage. We hate to miss Wheel of Fortune, and movie nights, with popcorn and pop, are a very inexpensive date. So…my husband and I love TV.

 

Since the birth of our son, I do my absolute best to make sure he does not watch TV. I keep it off throughout the day when I am home with him, and I absolutely never put on a show just for him to watch. However, we still fail miserably in this area because we hate to miss the news or Wheel of Fortune, and sometimes he wakes up late in the evening when we are in the middle of a movie, and sometimes I am bored in the afternoon, so I turn on The Doctors, and sometimes I watch the Today Show or Kelly and Michael for some company. So, yes, my son watches TV.

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I always try to get through the self-checkout at Target as quickly as possible. You may assume this is because I have a young son who, by the end of a shopping excursion, has escalated his noise level to inappropriate decibels. You may also assume that, like many, I love the convenience of the self-checkout, but hate the constant anxiety that ensues when I use it. I mean, honestly, sometimes I feel like the menacing self-checkout voice is just plain out to get me, or she just really, really thinks I am going to shoplift something. Okay. Scan the item and place it immediately into a bag, so I do not get yelled at by the voice. Please place item in the bag. It is in the bag. Please place the item in the bag. It is in the bag! Please call for assistance. Okay. Stay calm. Just wave over the self-checkout-helper-person. Stay calm.

 

However, the real reason I try to make the self-checkout process relatively quick is because my son never takes his eyes off the screen. As my items and their prices pop up one-by-one and the menacing voice expresses the price of each item, my son stares at the screen, unblinking, seemingly unaware of any other activity taking place around him.

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My son has loved screens–I truly believe much more than the average child–since he was old enough to notice the TV in our living room. This causes me to be dangerously obsessed with how many screens my son comes into contact with each day, and let me tell you, it is A LOT.

 

Through the course of one day, my little boy’s attention is diverted to a screen of some kind countless times. Let’s review a day in his life. Because I have the news on in the morning, our television screen is the first thing he sees when he ventures into the living room to find his toys. He watches, fully entranced by the monitor, as I disarm our security system to let the dog out. I try so hard to stay off the phone in front of him; however, throughout the course of the morning, he reaches for the screen on my phone as I check the weather, call his dad, and answer a text from his Grandma.

 

My son has more interaction with screens when we go to our favorite pizza joint for lunch where he is immediately enraptured by Sports Center above our table. Then, we go get groceries where he becomes entranced by the monitor on the self-checkout or the screen above the cash register. When he wakes from his nap, he curiously walks over to the computer that I left carelessly on the floor while I was blogging. Even when he is at the park, he never fails to notice the mom on the bench next to me who uses her phone like a lifeline to survive one hour at the park with her child.

 

This is just one day in the life of my son, and he never misses a screen. He is such a curious little boy that he learned from a young age, there is something entertaining and important about these screens, because the adults around him are constantly captivated by them. I feel a twinge of guilt every single time I see my son looking at a screen. This is because I have seen the way they run our lives, the way kids live for them, even more so when they become old enough to make the choice–they always choose the screen.

 

I will never be that guy who does not allow TV in her home. I will never be that guy who never watches it. However, my husband and I are going to attempt to raise our children in a television-free environment for the first three years of their lives. This would mean that we no longer watch the news or Wheel of Fortune until our son goes to sleep. This would mean that I can no longer turn to the TV when I am bored in the afternoon, waiting for my husband to get home. This would mean that we no longer depend on the TV when our son is not only awake, but disturbingly hyper, at 3:30 in the morning.
No TV until they are three. Just saying this makes me cringe. It is going to take an incredible amount of willpower for me, and even more for my husband. However, I want my children to grow up in a world outside of cell phones, tablets, and television. I want them to learn by doing, not just watching. I want them to turn to books when they are bored. When my children are teenagers, I do not want the center of my living room to be the television, so I want to give them a fighting chance by keeping them away from it as long as I am able.

 

So, please wish me luck! If anyone has any great tips for keeping little ones out of trouble and away from the TV, comment below 🙂

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A Man like You and Me

I have recently been doing a devotional on Moses, and I gotta tell ya, I feel for the guy. Picture this for me: You’ve got a guy, around eighty years old (relatively young in Biblical terms), hanging out with his wife’s family, shepherding for his father-in-law. He has had it pretty rough, being driven from his homeland after killing a guy, after all, but he is mostly satisfied to live out the rest of his days working for his father-in-law. Little does he know, God has a much different plan in mind. Little does he know, a mundane day in a field with a flock of sheep, would be the last mundane day he’d ever experience.

burning bush

I commiserate with Moses in a lot of ways. God asked him to do the impossible, and he wasn’t lacking in his doubts. That’s what I love about him. He doubted God just as much as I tend to doubt Him. Moses was told in Exodus 3:10, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Now, if I had been in Moses’ shoes, I would have replied, “Excuse me, what?” For an ordinary man like Moses, this is quite the command, so Moses responds how we would expect, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

 

It is pivotal that each of us pay very close attention to the way that God responds to this question. God says, among other things, “I will be with you…” Uffda. That is some good stuff. I will be with you. I will be with you. I will be with you.

 

Just as this is rarely enough for me, it certainly isn’t enough for Moses either. Moses continues to ask God countless questions for even more reassurance; so many in fact that God becomes angry with him. The important part of the story, however, is that he goes. He takes up his cross and follows God, dead set on doing the impossible, despite his doubts and his fears.

 

Once arriving in Egypt, one might assume that since God sent him, everything went smoothly for Moses. However, this assumption could not be further from the truth. Moses and Aaron face countless difficulties and failures on their journey to free the Israelites. After Moses politely asks the king of Egypt to free God’s people, Pharaoh becomes angrier with the Israelites and makes their lives as slaves even more unbearable. This causes the Israelites to doubt Moses and Aaron, begging them to stop making things worse.

 

This is when Moses turns to God in Exodus 5, asking, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

 

Aaah… There it is. Here, Moses demonstrates a dangerous, yet common human weakness. It is the weakness that causes us to trust God up to a certain point, but then, when He does not carry out His plan the way we think He should, we turn against Him. I do it. You do it. We all do it.

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Moses was called to be the leader of a distressed group of people for 40 years. He was a simple shepherd. He was not fluent in speech, and he certainly didn’t have an out-of-this-world faith in God. He was an ordinary man asked to do an extraordinary thing.

 

If I could hop up to heaven for just a few minutes, I would chat with my Grandma, but I would also give Moses the biggest high-five, like ever. Why? Because he served his heavenly father despite intense opposition and fear. Moses continually doubted that God had chosen the right person for this improbable task. The number of times Moses turned to God and asked, “Are you sure you have the right guy?” is recorded only twice in the Bible (I think). However, for forty years he was the leader of a group of people with extremely fickle faith. It is quite possible that Moses asked the Lord this question at least once a day for forty years. He had his doubts — there’s no question.

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I have my doubts too. God has called me to do something impossible too–impossible for me anyway. He called me to be a stay-at-home mom, and I have just got to say, this is a relatively impractical request for my people-loving, activity-seeking, loquacious personality. While my husband works a 12 hour day and my son plays happily or naps quietly, I often become nearly consumed by the silence of my house. I ache for people, laughter, busyness, conversation, and (dare I say) purpose.

 

I realize that there is a part of myself that will never be satisfied as a stay-at-home mom, the people-loving part. At times, this causes me to ask, “God, are you sure you have the right girl?” I tend to doubt that my Father called me to do this for Him. I doubt that He has a plan greater than my boredom, greater than my restlessness. This is when I mirror Moses and ask with frustration and sometimes contempt, “Who am I that I should only have one purpose, to raise my family, while the rest of the world is out having a life?” This is a question the devil breathes into me.

 

Uffda. How’s that for honesty? Now, don’t get me wrong. There are certainly many days that I can hardly contain my immense joy because I get to watch my son grow, missing nothing of his childhood. However… there are also days that I look to God and wonder why this is His call for me. In a world that emphasizes money, busyness, big houses, and success, while de-emphasizing family focused living, I often feel as though I stand alone, me, the girl who hates being alone and always has.  

 

When I don’t think I can handle another day of just mothering, this is when God finally speaks to me and He says, “I will be with you. I will be with you. I will be with you.” Like Moses, there are days that this will be enough and there are days that I continue to seek more answers. There is one thing, however, that I can say without question, even on my bad days: My Father called me to this and I will do my best for Him.
Thank you, Moses.

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Stop Waiting 12 Weeks to Reveal your Pregnancy

I had a baby. His name was Jess. He died.

 

Alright, so now that is out of the way. I’m a little nervous about this one because it deals in some very painful experiences for many. However, I think it needs to be said.

 

In March of 2014, my husband and I were surprised to find out that we were pregnant. In April of 2014 we had a miscarriage, and two weeks later, a DNC.

 

Before I experienced this very common and silent suffering, I had little compassion for those who had. I did not understand the pain that could possibly be associated with a baby who was the size of a pea. I did not understand how one could become attached to a life so fleeting, it hardly made an imprint on anything. Now that I have experienced this, I have the deepest, most heartfelt compassion for any woman who loses a child. Whether she is one week pregnant or nine months pregnant, there was life. Period.

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I am radically pro-life. A baby deserves to see sunlight no matter how small, how he was conceived, or the harm he may cause to his mother: none of this is his fault. A baby becomes a person the moment he is conceived, and no one ever, should question that irrevocable, God-sanctioned truth.

 

My husband and I did something that many would consider a mistake when we were pregnant with our first. We did not wait 12 weeks to share our happy news with the world. We told our family. We told our friends. We told our colleagues. I told my students. How stupid are we? Two weeks after we shared the news, we had to share that the baby was gone. It was awful. It was hard. It was torture.

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For our next pregnancy, which has now become a 12-month old ball of mischief, we waited 12 weeks. Many would say we learned our lesson. However, I felt guilty the entire time. It felt wrong to hide my child from the world. I constantly wondered, if we were to lose him too, would we really never tell anyone that he existed? I am so thankful to God that I never had to answer this question.

 

I have thought a lot about this, and have come to the realization that many couples choose to wait 12 weeks before revealing a pregnancy because of self-preservation. There is no self-preservation involved in sharing a pregnancy too early and then having the dreaded task of sharing the story of your miscarriage over and over and over. However, the life that you are preserving when you share your pregnancy prior to the 12-week mark is your baby’s. You are openly admitting and joyously celebrating the life inside you. Whether that life will reach full term or not, it was there and it should be celebrated. Most of all, people should know about it. This baby lived.

 

No matter how far along a woman is in her pregnancy, the baby has life. Those that are pro-life would agree with this statement. So, why on earth, are we waiting 12 weeks to accept, share, and admit a life? The couple who chooses to wait 12 weeks and then suffers a miscarriage is forced to muddle through the mourning alone. They experience the same grief, the same anger, and the same questions as anyone who has lost a loved one, but they pick up the pieces alone. The part that really bothers me about this couple’s sad story, however, is that no one will ever know they had a child. Besides the couple, no one will mourn their child, pray for their child, or acknowledge their child. It is as if he/she never existed. That, my friends, is not right.

 

I have no intention of lessening the immense pain associated with a miscarriage. I also pray for the families that experience multiple miscarriages and their struggles. I do not understand what this would be like and pray I never find out. However, if God grants us with another child, my husband and I do have every intention of sharing his/her life with the world. If we were to lose him, the benefits of sharing it with others would outweigh the disadvantages. Of course, it would be excruciatingly difficult to share our loss with others. However, we would not have to suffer and mourn our child alone, nor would we be the only ones who knew we had lost a life in our family.

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We will see our son or daughter again someday, and we will call him/her Jess. My children will know they had another sibling, and his/her name was Jess. The world will know my child had life, and his/her name was Jess. God created Jess. Jess mattered. Jess lived.

One Year with my Son

It was one year ago today. I laid awake, invariably exhausted, yet awake, listening to the grunts and squeaks of my brand new baby boy. He awakened every hour that night. With the new-mother adrenaline pumping through me, I sprung from my bed and happily took him in my arms, no hesitation, no grumbling. I was thrilled. I knew his sleepless nights wouldn’t last. I would be such a good mother that my son would be that talked-about and coveted newborn who slept through the night at two weeks. Yep, that would be my son.

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One year later, I lay awake, invariably exhausted, yet awake, listening to the wails of my 12-month old boy, begging every known entity to get him back to sleep so I don’t have to crawl out of my nice, warm bed. There is an abundance of hesitation, and even more grumbling, as I peel myself off my mattress and drag my weary body into his nursery. One year later… My son does not sleep.

 

One year later. How could that be? One year ago I gave up my teaching career to become a mom. One year ago I looked down at my flawless baby boy, wondering how on earth I got so lucky. One year ago I finally found out that labor really does hurt as much as everyone says it does. One year ago my husband became a dad and I became a mom, changing our marriage forever… for the better. One year ago.

 

One year ago I flipped out when I picked my son off the floor and bumped his head, ever so slightly, into the side of the couch. I asked my husband, “Okay, I know I’m probably overreacting, but like what if it hit his soft spot or maybe it was harder than I originally thought? Do you think he’s acting funny?” I wish I was making this up, but alas, I was off-my-rocker with legitimate concern and overzealous panic over my new bundle of joy.

 

Now, I watch my son as he bumbles around our living room and into the kitchen. I hear him rummaging in a cupboard, pots and pans slamming against our cheap, laminate floor. Pots and pans–that means he is not in the cupboard with the poison, so it’s all good. Then, I hear a distinct sound that I have become surprisingly accustomed to–my son’s head hitting the floor. I wait to see if he will cry, or even whimper…the banging of the pots and pans resumes and he seems to have recovered with very little trouble.

 

One year ago I had an unhealthy fetish with mosquito netting whenever my son was to cross the threshold of our front door, into the outdoors. I no longer viewed the outdoors as a sanctuary of beauty and sunlight; it had suddenly become a trap of death for my son, everywhere I turned.

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Now, I watch my son discover the outdoors with a permanent smile plastered to my face; it doesn’t even phase me when he eats a bug. It is incredible to watch him touch grass, sand, rocks, leaves, trees, and… yep… dog poop for the first time (of course, dog poop does cause me to freak out a bit). I get up to comfort him the first time he trips over a crack in our driveway and cheer with pride when he remembers to step over it the next time. I overflow with pride when he tosses, or rolls, or more like drops a ball, toward me.

 

One year ago my husband and I could be found screaming at one another in the dead of night, while our son screamed louder. We were at a loss for what to do for him, and desperate for some peace and quiet. My son still screams, but my husband and I have learned to handle it with style and grace. Sometimes, as my son collapses to the floor, tragically heartbroken because he is not allowed to suck on the toilet, it even makes us laugh.

 

One year ago I genuinely worried about my ability to be a mother. How could I possibly care for a baby while still remembering to eat, shower, and clean the house? How could I possibly care for a baby in the dead of night, without neglecting him as I settle into another dream? How could I possibly care for a baby in the zero belows of the winter months without forgetting his hat, causing his ears to fall off?

 

Now, I still genuinely worry about my ability to be a mother, but we have somehow made it through the first year with few catastrophes. I have showered and eaten daily, and found comfort in the new-clean of my home, which generally consists of random items from every drawer in the house being dropped about like crumbs. I am far from perfect; I have screwed up royally; I still pray passionately for grace when it comes to my parenting, but my son thinks I’m a rockstar. That, to me, makes me a success.  

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One year with my son has made me crazier than I ever thought I could be, and calmed my soul in a way that I can’t possibly explain. I still lose my mind when he wakes with a runny nose, desperate to find a cure to the common cold. Yet, I laugh and roll my eyes when our snot-nosed dog with grass and dirt hanging from his mouth, shoves his nose right into my son’s mouth–the smile this creates on my son almost makes it worth it, no matter how disgusting it is to witness. I have felt every kind of happiness, every kind of fear, every kind of desperation, and every kind of pride as I have watched my baby transform into a kind, joyful, active, and terrifyingly adventurous little boy.

 

There is no greater gift.

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Living Outside the Cocoon

She will never forget the first time she heard his name. She was 12 years old, and had seen on the news that the Americans were celebrating his birthday. They all looked so joyful and she became immediately curious as to why this man’s birthday was so important. It took her weeks, but she finally gained enough courage to bring it up to her father.

 

“Papa, who is Jesus?”

 

“Silence, my child. Where did you hear of that name?”

 

“I saw it on the news, Papa.”

 

“My dear girl, you are to never watch the news. It is breaking the Islamic code for a young lady to poison her mind that way. The Americans are ignorant. That is all you are to understand about them.”

 

“I know, Papa. I’m sorry.” She felt a desperate urge to try one more time, “But, who is he?”

 

“He is a prophet that we are to honor. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now, be quiet and go help your mother.”

 

A prophet that we are to honor. Nothing more. Nothing less. Dilek had always trusted everything that her father told her, but she couldn’t help but wonder why she had never heard of Jesus. If he was nothing more than a prophet, she should have learned about him in her study of the Quran like she had of Harun, Ibrahim, and Adam.

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***

 

She is a little girl again. Her hijab is hanging in her bedroom, and she is free. A song is playing that she has never heard before, “Silent night, Holy night, All is calm, All is bright…”

 

As the music fills the room, she lies on her stomach staring at a dazzling light, like a star. The star is blotted out by the shape of a cross. It casts a shadow on the porcelain figurines below. There is a small baby in a manger and a woman in blue standing above him. A man is standing next to the woman reaching down toward the baby.

 

She awoke to the sound of gunfire in the distance. She looked out her bedroom window, which faced south, and saw flashes of light. When she listened intently, she thought she could hear the sound of hatred being hurled back and forth between the Americans and the rebels of her own country.

 

Her eyes settled closed once again and she tried desperately, yet unsuccessfully, to recreate her dream in her subconscious.

 

***

 

As Dilek neared adulthood, she was becoming more and more conscious of her loneliness, her emptiness. Every morning when she would dress in hijab, it felt like crawling into a cocoon that nothing and no one could penetrate. She would talk with her mother and sisters throughout the day, and sometimes her girlfriends would come over to visit, but what no one could see was that she never smiled. She was pretty sure her mother had also found rest in perpetual sorrow.

 

Each day, she would watch her mother’s eyes very intently as they worked endlessly on chores, attempting to detect a smile. Sometimes, to test it, she would even tell her mother a joke. She waited for the corners to twist upward, pulling her mother’s naturally round eyes into a tighter oval shape, but she never saw it.

 

No one ever smiled. Except her sisters, who seemed to be oblivious of all emotion. She constantly fought a thought she knew was like a malignant cancer to her faith. Perhaps, the women were forced to wear hijab so everyone could ignore the fact that they were miserable.

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As Dilek walked to the market the morning after the dream, she could not erase it from her mind. It wasn’t the strangeness of the magnificent figurines or the unfamiliar music that had struck her hardest, however. It was the appearance of her face in the dream. It had such a ridiculous smile plastered to it, that Dilek, now quite distant from the dream, wasn’t even sure if it was her face.

 

***

 

“H-Hey Ma?”

 

With a sigh, her mother clatters the dishes into the sink with significant exaggeration. “Yes? What is it?” Her mother had always been a brusque woman.

 

“Um…Have you ever heard of Jesus?”

 

Fear immediately replaced irritation in her mother’s eyes as she rushed toward her daughter, grabbing her by the shoulders.

 

“Sh, my child, you must hush. Why on earth are you asking me such questions?”

 

“I just… I was wondering why I have never been taught anything about him.”

 

“You are a woman, Dilek. Your duty is to your father and then to your husband. You are in no position to wonder.”

 

“But…”

 

“Enough. We will speak no more of this. Jesus is nothing.”

 

Her mother hastened from the room like she were afraid of catching something contagious, as if curiosity could kill.

 

***

 

Dilek walked to the market every morning. She was the best at getting the most for the small portion of money her parents were able to set aside each day for the evening meal.

 

Crossing the path of American soldiers on her journey was so commonplace that she barely noticed them anymore. The hatred and disgust flowing from them was so oppressive that she never even bothered to look up when she would see camouflage approaching.

 

It had been months since the dream, and thoughts of Jesus had been pushed to the back of her memory. She considered bringing him up to her best friend for awhile, but the way her parents reacted to her, made her scared.

 

She lowered her eyes to their usual position as she approached some American soldiers. The rocks below her bounced to the rhythm of her step.

 

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

 

The blood rushed to her head and her hands began to shake as she slowly lifted her eyes from the ground. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed soldier was standing before her holding a pice.

 

“I think you dropped this, miss.”

 

Oh, Dilek, move. Move your hand. Take the coin. Walk away. Move, Dilek. Move.

 

“Um…. Th-th-thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome. God bless you and may Jesus keep you safe.”

 

As he turned away, she finally gained enough courage to look at him directly. A piece of silver hung around his neck and it tossed a glimpse of light back toward her, the shape of it was unmistakable, a cross.

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***

 

God bless you and may Jesus keep you safe. God bless you and may Jesus keep you safe.

 

The words had been a constant echo in her mind for some time now. Everywhere she went, she looked for the blonde-haired, blue-eyed soldier. She knew he would tell her of Jesus. She just knew it.

 

She had ruthlessly battled vicious thoughts against her Islamic faith for what seemed like an eternity. If her parents found out the things she was thinking, she would most surely be shunned, maybe even killed, if the Taliban heard of it. She thought if she could just satisfy her curiosity, things would be better.

 

Today, she would rush through the market in order to have time to go to the local library. She made sure to wear her most respectable looking hijab, so no one would suspect her of wrongdoing. Women were not supposed to read, or wonder. Her father, however, had taught her to read when she was very young, before the Taliban. “A book can take you away from here, my darling,” he had said with tears in his eyes, causing her to wonder what could be so bad.

 

She knew she would find Jesus in the Holy Bible. People reacted to this book in the same way they reacted to Jesus’ name, with terror. The clerk eyed her intently when she brought it to the counter to check out; she was so thankful the librarian was a woman, one of the few that still worked outside the home.

 

As she handed it back over the counter, the librarian whispered, “Be careful,” and held the book for a second longer than was necessary.

 

“Yes, ma’am” Dilek responded as she rushed out of the building.

 

On her way home, she kept checking behind her, convinced she had heard the footsteps of the Taliban on her heels.

 

***

 

She read. All day and all night she read about the man named Jesus. She read of his life, his death, his resurrection. She even read of his return–despite the storm of fear that it created inside of her.

 

She had to read beneath her blanket using a flashlight she had borrowed from a friend, being careful not wake her siblings, but for three nights, she never blinked, she never questioned, she never tired. The words of Christ were feeding her thirsty soul and slowly filling up the emptiness she had grown used to.

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She made sure to continue in her sorrow during the day, so no one would sense the joy that was growing inside of her.

 

On the fourth night, she cried. Her tears poured out of her from a place much deeper than her emotions; they came from a place she was unaware of until this Holy Bible worked its way into her hands.

 

“Jesus, I-I can’t. Help me. Please. I’m Muslim. Allah is my king. Please. Jesus. Don’t take me away from Allah.”

 

As the sun peeked over the horizon, Dilek had quieted herself enough to think reasonably and all she thought of was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

 

Dilek had lived in fear all her life–fear of failure, fear of suicide bombers, fear of death. The Islamic life she lead was a prison with guards who forget to feed the prisoners; she was starving for freedom. She knew all that mattered was Jesus. With Jesus, she would welcome the death that was sure to follow.

 

She could hear her mother moving around in the kitchen when she finally whispered, “Jesus, I love you. I’m yours. You have saved my life. Please, be my Christ forever.

 

***

 

As she walked to the market that morning, she no longer looked over her shoulder, and when the American soldiers approached, she walked boldly passed them, checking each of them top to bottom for a silver cross.

 

The Savior of the world loves her. The Savior of the world will come for her. She has nothing to fear. She was so grateful that Jesus had pursued her heart, tormenting her until she finally succumbed to her curiosity.

 

With an elusive smile on her face, she was weeding through the fruit at the front of the store when it hit her. First, she smelled it, like smoldering meat; the flash of light that came next was so intense it knocked her from her feet; the sound deafened her instantly, transporting her to another world, one of total silence. Finally, the pain overtook her, startling her, even though she had been expecting it. As her life ebbed away, peace enveloped her and her grimace slowly altered into a smile because of what she now knew to be true: Jesus was coming.