Permission To Feel

Life isn’t a Hallmark commercial.

I think that’s why I found myself crying while folding the laundry and half-watching the television. The Mother’s Day commercials that usually leave me saying “Aww” have left a bittersweet taste in my mouth this year. For the first time, I understand what so many other women feel about just skipping the day all together. The day just serves as a reminder of what could’ve been.

Now, I know what you’re thinking–that I’m dwelling in the land of have-nots instead of remembering the blessings I have under my roof. But I’m not dwelling there. Sometimes, my mind just seems to peek over the fence for a while when I think about the empty chair at the kitchen table. You see, I realized that every first milestone I pass on the freshly paved road of grief will be be a little painful this year.

Mother’s Day just so happens to be my first hurdle.

I could say the things like “Every day is Mother’s Day” and other little platitudes, but that would be a load of bologna. Yes, I’m a mother and every day is, in fact, Mother’s Day, but then we go and place a special day on the calendar to celebrate. Then, we schedule baby dedications and bring the kids in from children’s church to hand out roses to their mommies.

This is the first year I understand how extremely painful this holiday can be.

not pregnant

I would’ve been 19 weeks by now. Just a week away from finding out if I’d be buying pink or using hand-me-downs from two big brothers. Most likely, I would be feeling the flutters of movement by now–just our little secret until the kicks got big enough to feel from the outside.

And it hurts.

I don’t want to dwell on the things that never will be for this child, because really, I could be in mourning every day for the rest of my life if I did. But, certain things just can’t be ignored or stuffed down deep. Certain things have to be mourned. So today, I give myself permission to feel because that’s where the healing begins.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Let’s chat in the comments: Is this a hard holiday for you? What are some ways you deal with the pain?

Taste Test

My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” ~Forrest Gump

It’s true. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. Each day that unfolds is like biting into a new chocolate truffle and hoping for the caramel filling.

But…what if you don’t get the caramel filling?

What if, when your teeth sink in, you get that pink-filled truffle that makes you gag? Whatcha gonna do?

Do you spit it out and chase it with a sip of water to clean your palate? Or do you force yourself to keep chewing hoping you’ll acquire a taste for it?

Asherbabyfood-HappyBrownHouse

When Asher started baby food, he wasn’t a fan. Oh, he’d take a bite or two. But then he clenched his jaw, making it virtually impossible to feed him.

Airplane noises didn’t work.

Peek-a-boo didn’t either.

He looked at me wondering why I was trying so hard…he already had me and my tricks figured out. He wouldn’t open his mouth for anything, no matter how much I knew he would like the pureed carrots.

And I wonder…

Is that the way I am with God sometimes? Do I clench my jaw tight, not willing to receive what He’s trying to give me? Am I hungry, but I can’t see the value in the things on the spoon right in front of my mouth?

Something to think about…

 

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Breathing Room

feet in poolWhen I was a little girl, I would take a big, deep breath and sink to the bottom of the pool. I wondered just how long I could last before springing to the surface gasping for air. Truth be told, I’m an asthmatic, so it wasn’t very long before my lungs felt like they were on fire and my heart was racing in my chest. It never failed that right as I was floating to the surface, a sense of panic would set in as I used up the last of my stored oxygen.

I need breathing room.

I feel it way down deep, this primal need for space and quiet and thinking and just…breathing. Funny thing is, I’ve been holding my breath for the past eight months…longer if you count my sickness during pregnancy.

I feel it. My chest is tight and my lungs are screaming for oxygen…for space…for quiet…for a full night’s sleep or a date with my sewing machine. But, I just don’t see these things anywhere in sight.

And I wonder…

Are we about to float to the surface?

Are we about to break through and catch a big breath?

Because I just don’t feel like I can hold my breath an longer.

_________________________

As I shared some things on my heart last weekend at the 2:1 conference with Jodi, she asked my why I hadn’t written about these things that I was feeling in this very tough time with Asher, the boy who never sleeps and prefers me over everyone. My answer, “It’s just too raw. People are going to be concerned for my well-being or unsubscribe.” She then reminded me that I might have someone reading who needed to hear the very thing I write. So, here I am, wearing my heart on my sleeve for you, reader, even if it means tearing down my wall of “fine” and revealing that I’m not always put together.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why you’re holding your breath today. But I know this, He is able and He loves you. Whether He lifts you to the surface just in time to let you gasp for air, or He brings you a scuba mask and an oxygen tank below the surface, He is there.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.~Matthew 11:28

The Wall of “Fine”

I got to hold a newborn baby this week. I know, I know, I have a baby of my own, but still…newborns make me weak in the knees.

My sweet friend, whom I actually wrote about before, had a baby. A much anticipated and prayed for baby. Oh, the joy of answered prayers!

As I took food on their first day home from the hospital, I asked her, “How are you doing?”

She replied with the obligatory, “Fine.”

Only, I didn’t believe her.

I asked again, “No, how are you REALLY doing?”

By adding emphasis with the word “really,” she knew she could break down the walls of “Fine” and tell the truth about how hard first days are with babies. Because they are…when we’re being honest with ourselves and others.

And because I had been honest with her at various times in the past, she felt comfortable telling me that the first day home hadn’t been bliss. She was sore, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And because I’m still 2/3 of of the same list 7 months in with Asher, I could say, “I understand.”

My memory hasn’t gotten fuzzy yet.

Honestly, I don’t think I could ever forget what life with a newborn is like…talk to me when I’m 80.

friendship bracelets.

photo credit: amandavenner

But here is the beauty of memories and tough times…

God allows us to walk through tough times to help others down the road. Whether it is by telling them where to step to avoid a pothole, or to lend a helping hand to pull them out of a hole when they’ve already stumbled…we must help!

I’ve walked down this newborn road twice now. I know the sleepless nights where exhaustion and hormones play tricks with your thoughts and emotions. I know the frustration of a baby struggling to latch on correctly and the searing pain associated with a bad breastfeeding latch. And while not everyone wants or needs advice, true friends can share how they made it through the struggles without offending.

I broke down the wall of “Fine” a long time ago. I don’t hide behind it anymore. I think it is only when we can live out in the open with people, instead of behind walls, that we can have true community.

Now, I didn’t have to ask my friend for the honest answer. I could’ve took her “Fine” and went home. The problem with that is that she would’ve felt alone and added another brick to the wall of “Fine” for next time.

We have to break down the wall.

If we don’t, we’ll all just be shouting “Fine” over a pile of bricks and crying by ourselves in a pothole.

It is only when we shout “Help!” that we really get help.

It is pretty simple, but yet, we all seem content to sit behind our walls.

It was when my friend finally said that she was feeling overwhelmed, sore, and exhausted that I could say, “Want some help or just a hug?”

I’m so glad she chose help.

It was only then, that I could respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging to run to Walmart for her and get something that I knew would help with the soreness while her husband stayed home with her and the baby.

It was then that I could tell her what little I knew about getting the perfect breastfeeding latch and how her husband could check after I left.

It was only then that I could run home and get the preemie clothes Jonah wore for the first month after he was born because even our smallest newborn outfit was too big.

And when I returned, I got to show her how to tie the Moby Wrap, my saving grace the first few months with Asher.

All very simple things, but all things that encouraged her and equipped her to have a better night and second day home.

I don’t tell you these things to pat myself on the back. Quite the opposite.

I tell you these things because we give a gift to people when we are honest with them and don’t hide behind the wall of “Fine.”

From the phone call the next day, I know that she was grateful for my help. But honestly, I was the one who was blessed! I had a part to play in encouraging her and loving on her. God allowed me to play a role in caring for another sister in Christ that night.

THAT is community.

I’m so glad I got a glimpse of it.

Question: Do you hide behind the wall of “Fine” or do you live out in the open? How have you experience true community?