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Monday, June 27, 2016

While We're Waiting

Here are some links to get you through the week. Enjoy!

The Rhythm of Celebration in Our Own Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson

In A Land Of Small Wonders by Christie Purifoy

When It's Hard To Keep Hoping by Ann Voskamp

When You Forget Your Grace Face by Brenda Bradford Ottinger

Grass Stains and a Grateful Heart by Joanna Gaines

Monday, June 20, 2016

While We're Waiting

It's Monday again! While we're going through the week and looking forward to Friday, here are some links for your reading pleasure. The first two are for those going through a difficult time, the next two are for parents or parents-to-be, and the last is for anyone who is married and has kids or plans to have kids. I hope these encourage and challenge you like they have me. 

When Hope Seems Foolish by Erin Ulerich

Connecting After Kids by Ann Swindell  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ignore The Sorrow (A Letter to Parents Who've Lost A Child)

Dearest parents suffering tragedy,

I've been mourning with you. Silent tears reach my pillow each night. Prayers that God will give you peace are whispered aloud as I go about each day. I've hugged my daughter a little tighter and a little longer lately, and we've made a game out of mommy opening her arms while she runs into them, and I'm reminded that this won't last forever. I'm reminded that at any moment, anything could happen, but I'm also reminded that she'll grow up and won't need  my hugs near as often.

I see the posts on social media, and they are fickle in comparison to the deep sorrow that has enveloped you as memories of raising your child flood your mind. These posts are political rants on both sides that do not address you; rather, they address whatever one feels about an issue that comes to fruition when tragedy strikes. Perhaps it's their way of coping: ignore the sorrow, the pain, and the agony and cover it with frustration and anger over opposing views.

As a fellow parent and Christian, I can't ignore the sorrow that you're facing. My heart is broken with you.

We have become a people afraid to feel, afraid to gather as a community to rally one with another. I doubt you'll read this letter now, because nothing that you could possibly read is going to change the fact that your child is gone. I also know that you'll never fully move on from this devastating loss like many others will. In those moments, you'll reach for traces of remembrance, resurfacing articles and posts from long ago. I hope you'll find this one, and I hope you'll find grace in the midst of pain.

To those of you who lost a child in the gay club shooting, it is my hope that your community is not shunning you and the immense sorrow you face simply because your child was at a gay club. I hope christians and nonchristians alike are standing with you and mourning with you because you've lost a huge piece of yourself. You've lost the child that you've raised-the one for which you spent countless hours nurturing-the one you sacrificed for-the one who you continued loving regardless of their sexual identity or any other defining factor. Some of you may be beating yourself up because you didn't show your adult child as much love as you could have, and I hope you give yourself some grace. You loved them immensely even if it wasn't always shown in word and action. We are all human. We are all trying to figure out this thing called life together.

To Matt and Melissa Graves, my heart grieves deeply with you, for you lost your little boy before knowing the man he'd become. It is my hope that other parents will come alongside you and comfort you, because an accident is just that, an accident. I know you'll go through the stages of grief, and you'll blame yourself for what happened, and you'll wonder the "what-if's," but it is my hope that you'll find strength, grace, and peace to face each new day without your sweet little Lane. It is my hope that you'll focus on the precious life God graced you with, and know that Lane is with the One who created him to bring brief but forever joy into your lives. Finally, it is my hope that you two, as husband and wife, will cling to one another and not let the lashing words of the media define your marriage or your parenting. You were the perfect mom and dad for Lane. I don't know why accidents happen that rip our loved ones away from us, but I do know that neither of you are at fault.

To parents all over the world who have lost a child, whether it reached the news or not, my heart hurts with you. I don't know what it's like to lose a child, and when I consider the thought, I'm overcome with sadness. I don't know why you are going through such devastating loss. I only know that clinging to Jesus in the midst of pain and surrounding yourself with the comfort of others brings healing. Today, it is my prayer that God will give each one of you strength for this day.

Grace and peace,
Shelby Hughes

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble...The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." Psalm 46: 1, 11 

Monday, June 13, 2016

While We're Waiting

The questions come daily from loved ones and strangers, reminding me just how precious this little growing gift is and will be.

When are you due? 

Are you having a boy or girl?

What! Why are you waiting?

How are you able to wait? 

The baby is due in October. We don't know the gender. No, really. A few family members are skeptical, but we honestly are choosing to wait. Why and how? When asked, I give a basic answer. We think it'll be exciting to find out at birth. I don't know how we are waiting. A huge part of me wants to know, but another side of me whispers "wait." 

With my firstborn, I was anxious to have everything planned. We knew the gender as soon as possible, we picked out a name before birth, and the nursery was staged with every girly item washed and folded. The process of having a baby was new to me, and I was set on doing everything in my power to make the arrival of our sweet girl perfect.

Oh, the learning that motherhood would teach me about perfection, about waiting. Our daughter was born after 20 hours of labor. I envisioned someone handing her right to me, but instead they had to clean her up first. I'll save you the details. After what felt like hours of waiting in a dreamlike state, they brought her over to me. I didn't react the way I had imagined. You know, the movie reaction of tears and adoration and joy. Instead, I looked at her every feature, completely dumfounded that this tiny individual was my daughter-the one who kicked and hiccupped for many months inside of me.

Within several short hours, a doctor arrived and explained that she'd need to be placed under lights due to jaundice. It was important that we only take her out to feed her and change her diaper. Those days felt like my body had been ripped in two. All I wanted was to hold her close, and the emotional toll of not being able to do that those first five days frustrated me. The waiting for the jaundice to clear out of her system lasted an eternity for my exhausted, weakened, and disheartened self. I had no choice. Wait.

Every time a doctor came back saying "not yet," I held back the exasperated sobs until he exited the room. The only solace for my soul was that they didn't make me leave the room. Since we chose to nurse our baby, they used a term called "nesting," as the key for me to stay with my baby.

When they said nesting, I pictured myself as a hen I grew up raising that sat day and night on her nest, unwilling to budge, and willing to attack anything that threatened to remove her. I was that hen the first week of motherhood. Ask the rooster, my husband. I was irritable from the lack of sleep, combative when I felt threatened, and emotional and slightly crazy during every hospital hour that passed. But roosters, when a hen's eggs hatch, are protective. That was at least the case for the one I raised. He helped scratch up food for the chicks and kept the other hens from attacking the brood. He made sure that the mother hen was well taken care of over the rest of the flock. My husband-the emotionally stable one-took good care of us both, and I'm thankful.

So here we are again, expecting another child to raise and nurture, and I'm choosing to wait. Perhaps this process is to remind myself that I have the ability to choose waiting and imperfection instead of letting it overpower me. Perhaps it's to learn that waiting and imperfection are perfectly necessary within life and especially within motherhood. Perhaps I'm a little crazy for waiting, but I've come to terms with the idea that it's okay to not be okay, to not know the answer, to not have a plan, and to let mere circumstance dictate my emotions.

While we're waiting for our second to arrive, for the excitement of finding out the gender, and for the tears, adoration, and joy of new life, I've decided to share links to words that resonate with me each Monday.

Why Monday? No one really likes Mondays. The weekend has passed, and we must wait for the next weekend to arrive. Some weeks are long and painful, while others fly by. No matter the extent of your week, I hope to encourage you in the waiting.

Boy or Girl? Cast your predictions in the comments below and let's wait with anticipation together.

When You’re Weary and Waiting by Marissa Henley 

I’m No Longer Satisfied with Crumbs by Terri Fullerton 

When We’re Tempted to Take Our Kids’ Behavior Personally by Amanda Bacon

Why my kids no longer come first by Jenny Sulpizio

Friday, June 10, 2016

Another Mom Noticed, Would You?

Guess what! You can get a free chicken sandwich from Chic-Fil-A if you download their app and join as a new member between June 1-11th, 2016. I just found out this afternoon. I'm not sure if you have to purchase the sandwich by the 11th or if you can get it later, but I used it this evening since my husband had a late work evening.

Why are you writing about Chic-Fil-A, you ask? Well, you see, I had a MOMent. Diaper Bag over my shoulder while holding my daughter in one arm and carrying a high chair with the other complete with an ever-growing baby bump had me looking like a sight, a sight that another mom noticed. I made my way to a table, strapped my daughter into the high chair, and sat down. An employee brought my food and placed it at my table. Opening our food and delving in, I suddenly realized I didn't have a straw.

Not a huge deal. I could have taken the lid off to sip from the cup, but I had wanted to share with my daughter, and all I could imagine was lemonade spilling all over her clothes. Getting up to grab one would mean ripping a toddler away from food and leaving food unattended (which my mama taught me never to do).

My pondering of what I should do didn't last long. The mom who observed me walk to a table with my hands full also noticed my strawless situation, and she came to my rescue by getting one for me! She deserves the great mom award of the evening, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed a young mom missing something seemingly unimportant.

As a young mom, do you feel self-conscious when other moms stare at you, especially if they seem more experienced because they have multiple children or older children? Me too! But, I'm learning that these moms aren't trying to be nosy or judgemental (though some may be). Many of these moms are reminiscing on the days when their child was a baby.

This evening, I stumbled across a few videos my mom had taken after I gave birth to my daughter. In one video, mom recorded my daughter as she cried. My heart melted and the tears flowed as I remembered those long and draining but beautiful days in the hospital with new life.

In the future, I may be the older mom who watches a mom with a toddler struggle to her table, and I hope that in the reminiscing I'll take the time to see if there's anything that young mom might need. A simple act of kindness goes a long way.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning In May

Something new: Each month, I'll be writing what I've learned and linking up with Emily Freeman's blog. By doing this, I hope you'll see that I'm fully human with the desire to learn a thing or two along this journey known as life.

Here's what I've learned in May:

1. Don't expect a sparkling surface and uncluttered carpet.

I'm raising a kid. My kid explores, makes messes, displays a myriad of emotions, eats and eats and eats, craves attention, and there's never a dull moment aside from when she's sleeping. It's when she naps that one of three things happen. A. I quickly try to tidy the home. B. I dig into scripture and either write or study the art of writing. C. In this season of life, I sometimes have no choice but to take a nap. My brain screams "NO" and "TERRIBLE USE OF TIME," but my pregnant, hormones-out-of-whack self whispers "necessary" and "it's okay." That said, if you stop by my home, I'll do my best to have progress made with tidying up, but rest assured one room in the house will be a complete wreck. I'm the gal who doesn't find a thrill in cleaning, and who often lacks the time to do so. If you are reading this and have children and a tidy home on a daily basis, teach me your ways!

Books and Laundry equal chaos in twenty minutes.
Chaos restored by the day's end.
2. Someone likes carrots mixed with applesauce.

She wants more!
This child of mine has the pickiness of her mother when she was under 10. Meats? No. Veggies? No. New Food? No. Baby Food? Yes! It must be a textures thing. Upon not eating carrots, I decided to blend them with a little applesauce. Repeat procedure and one point for mom. According to the Pediatrician, she can eat basically any food. Perhaps it's her teeth keeping her from doing so or just the look of certain foods. We have dairy, grains, and fruit down, so I'll call that progress.

3. Elephants are pregnant for two years.
My daughter's room took on a slight elephant theme when preparing for her arrival. I just learned that elephants are pregnant for two years. Perhaps there's an underlying message here, like the fact that 9 month human pregnancies feel as though they last forever.

4. Tree frogs are cute.

I'm pretty sure this little guy is a tree frog. Over the weekend, we went to a state park and these frogs were everywhere.

5. Eagles fly majestically.
While hiking near a river, I spotted an eagle flying. I've never seen an eagle in the wild, so I was a bit excited. Isaiah 40:31 takes on added meaning when one considers the gracefulness with which an eagle flies.

6. Ask and receive.
Okay, so I didn't just learn this in May, but it was evidenced throughout May. We don't have family in the area, so going to an ultrasound with a toddler is downright hectic. Figuring this out the hard way, I decided to ask a friend of mine if she could watch my daughter. She graciously said yes even though she has four children of her own. Thank you, friend. You know who you are.

Also in May, God provided us with furniture for Baby #2 and we didn't have a pay a cent. We didn't ask for furniture, but had asked where a friend of ours had gotten something for a crib. That conversation turned into getting rid of a crib because their family had just moved. Thanks you guys!

8. Just say no.
I've said no before, but it's never easy when saying no to family. I was asked to go to a family reunion which conflicted with a women's conference that I was already set on attending. After great consideration, I chose to say no to the reunion because my spiritual life needed the focus and because traveling three hours up and back to a reunion didn't sound fun while pregnant.

9. I have something to say.
I have something to say in the form of a book, but I've sat idly by for fear of what others might think, for falsely believing that what needs said doesn't matter, and for worry that I'm inadequate and unknowledgeable to the book writing process. I'm in the process of praying heavily over this and listening to what God wants. In the past several weeks, I've been jotting down notes like crazy, and I believe these may be the beginning of the process.

This book idea has been floating around for years, but for years I've been denying the idea. I've spoken to my husband and a very few others, and each person has encouraged me in their own way which has been good for combating the crippling fear.

This acknowledgement written in words is just another step toward submitting to God's call. It's a small step, but a step nonetheless.

10. Choosing vulnerability means I will change and others will change.
Oh, there's so much I could say about learning what it means to be vulnerable, but I'll just leave this here with few words for soaking purposes.

Note: Number 7 is missing. I could have gone back and changed it, but I'm humoring the fact that I can write yet not count to 10. ;) Fully human. Told you. 

What have you learned this month? I'd love to hear! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On Time And Serving

Sometimes days are long, making us feel like time lasts forever. We know those days all too well. We wake up to a cranky kid, face daunting tasks ahead, like laundry and grocery shopping, and in the moment the day drags. But when it's all said and done, realization hits. The day sped by. We feel the day did not consist of meaning-making. Contributing to the world in a rich, satisfying way seemed impossible with such a piled-high list. That's because time is brief.

In the long and mundane of tasks we'd rather not take on, the day nears an end and we realize time wasn't long to begin with; rather, the brief time was just filled with life, with adulthood, with parenting, with wiping a runny nose every few minutes. Brief. Swift. Precious.

Thus, no matter the circumstances of the day, time is precious. The day we've been given is precious. We are told to rejoice in the day (Psalm 118:24). It's easy to wish the laundry washing, grocery shopping, counter cleaning, mess making days away. It's just as easy to let frustration rise as the day comes to a close, sometimes causing our spouses to get the brunt of our emotions. I'm guilty.

Rather than wish the mundane days away, let's work on embracing them. We've been given this day, full of towering, often unwanted tasks. Sometimes we have to be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus, ignoring what needs accomplished for the sake of accomplishing more for our soul, more in order to know Jesus, and more that we may reflect Him. More often than not, however, we are Martha. We are the one that Jesus lovingly rebuked for complaining about Mary. We shouldn't complain when we feel we are doing the more mundane while our spouse, friend, or neighbor seems to be doing something much more valuable. Perhaps, too, we need perspective.

We forget the dirty work that serving others often entails, and we also forget that serving others may be within the home and must be within our home before it can reach others. Let's realize that every towel we fold and every sock we match has the ability to reflect a servant spirit. Aren't we called to serve others just as Jesus washed His disciples feet? Serving others with the right attitude likely shows more love than what we'd rather do throughout the day. Matching socks and washing dishes is just as important, perhaps more important, than what we'd rather be doing to influence the world around us. Serving is better than writing, than speaking, than singing, than preaching. This does not discredit the writer, the speaker, the singer, or the preacher as long as he or she possesses a spirit of serving others. It simply means true motherhood first requires serving, true craftsmanship first requires serving, true pastorship first requires serving, true _________(fill in the blank) first requires serving.

Serving is no easy task, for certain. Serving means humbling ourselves. Serving is one major way to show love, and in showing love, we reflect Christ. We reflect Christ just like we are called to do. Less of me, Lord, and more of you. 

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