Monday, October 5, 2015

Moms: Get In The Word

Before I had kids I used to look down on mom-friends of mine who said, "Oh! I rarely read my Bible, I just don't have time." Then Hudson was born, and God really convicted me of my arrogance and judgmentalism. For those of you who know my two-and-a-half-year-old son, you know that he is 100-mph all.the.time. He stopped napping just before his second birthday, to my shock and dismay, all while I was 7-months pregnant with our daughter. Anyways, he has the loving nickname of "Octane" in our household because he is just that darn full of life. 

So back to my naive thought about motherhood. I have always been a disciplined person. Even in college I would get up early and go for a run and have my quiet time. It is simply in my nature to have a busy schedule and be task-oriented. I pride myself on "getting things done." Well, then I had kids. And for someone who operates ON A SCHEDULE, having children has been a shocker. 

When Hudson was young, he was very difficult to put to sleep. His schedule was always unpredictable. It's been a battle for me to remain flexible and trust God's sovereignty especially when my kids don't nap or go to sleep when they should. I become easily irritated, angry, and tend to overreact when mommy-time doesn't happen.

So why do I say all of this? God has spoken His salvation message to us through the Bible. It is His personal Word to believers in Christ. 1 Peter 2:1 says that the Word is like "pure spiritual milk" and we are called to long for it. Admittedly, as a sleep-deprived, mother-of-two, I do not always have this longing. In fact, since Aubrey was born it has been increasingly difficult to find time to spend in the Word (like I said, Hudson doesn't nap and Aubrey does not sleep through the night). However, God still calls me to "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live" (Isaiah 55:3).f

I need God more in my daily life than ever before. Because I am sleep-deprived and a mother-of-two, I need God's grace for the days when there isn't time to spend an hour in the Word. I need His promises. I need His help. I need His voice speaking into my various circumstances. In a nutshell, I need His truth. And I need it bad.

Lately, I have become increasingly more convicted of this. While reading the book Word-Filled Women's Ministry, Gloria Furman and Kathleen B. Nielson eds., God reminded me of the importance of the Word in every aspect of minstry, hence for every believer all the time. I am applying this to motherhood as well. When I say that I don't have time to get in the Word at all, is that really true? How often do I check my text messages? Get on Facebook? Search Pinterest? Tidy up the house? More often than I care to admit. And so instead of using my spare moments to soak up the spiritual milk that God has given to me, I choose other things that in comparison matter very little. 

Mothers, are you tracking with me? Can you relate? Here is my plea: let's choose to soak up God's truth as much as we can, as often as possible. That may be a verse to begin the day. Or that may mean a whole chapter before bed. It might even be possible for you to study through a book of the Bible while your child naps or has room-time. Whatever the amount of spiritual food that we consume daily, it will be sure to nourish our weary souls. Let's scrutinize our time, assess where we can fit in more of God and less of the stuff that doesn't really matter in light of eternity. 

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food."  - Isaiah 55:1-2

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Mother's Prayer

Today, oh Lord, I need you. I needed you yesterday and I will need you tomorrow. I need you to help me be patient, kind, loving, and selfless toward my husband and children. I need your grace to make me dependent on you. I acknowledge my weakness and failure to humble myself before you all day long. I confess that I have been irritated today with my children. And I bless you that you have given me the Holy Spirit to reveal to me my sin. I also bless you that with you there is forgiveness so that you may be feared. You are a great God, and you love needy mothers like myself. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and condemning myself for not being like so and so. This does not please you! You delight in a broken heart, which is what I offer to you now. I need you, oh Lord, I need you. Thank you for loving this mother! In Jesus' name, amen. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mothering Like Jesus

Being a mother is hard. These past two weeks have been difficult for many reasons. Hudson is a fiesty, determined two-year-old who has a very strong will. He has been testing that will on Chance and I more than ever lately. The other day in the van he pushed me away and said, "No, Mommy!" Aubrey was in the carseat crying, and Hudson's rudeness wasn't helping the stress of the situation (i.e. being in the car with two fussy children). My heart broke as Hudson spoke those words. I realized that motherhood consists of a lot of selfless serving and very little gratitude from those whom you care for.

In John 13, Jesus demonstrates selfless service toward the disciples. Before the Passover meal Jesus takes off his robe and begins to wash their feet. Foot-washing was usually reserved for slaves or servants. Yet here He is, the Son of God, washing the dirt off of other men’s feet without complaining or grumbling. John says that the disciples didn't even understand what Jesus was doing. We don't know from the text whether or not Jesus washed Judas’s feet, but can you imagine if he did wash Judas’s feet, the feet of the man who is about to turn him in to be crucified? When I read this passage, I am convicted by how my flesh seeks recognition and praise, whereas Jesus sought neither. His example demonstrates to me that selflessness is about serving others with a happy heart because it pleases God. 

Mothering is also a way to lay down your life in service of others, similarly to how Jesus served.
 In describing the exemplary woman, Proverbs 31:28 says that “Her children rise up and call her blessed.While it would be really nice to hear this from my toddler and newborn, I doubt that my children will be praising me anytime in the near future. For now, my job as their mother is to lay down my life for my children without the expectation of reciprocal thanks, recognition, or affection. And even though this is tough stuff, I maintain my resolve to lay down my life in this season of testy toddlers for the glory of the One who laid down his life for me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Aubrey's Birth Story - Part Two

The day after Aubrey was born, a Monday, I was able to go home from the hospital. The next morning I was exhausted from multiple nights of little sleep, so I decided to take a nap. Chance and his mom were watching Hudson in the other room, while I took Aubrey into our bedroom to feed her and lay her down while I slept. The last thing I remember was feeding Aubrey in our bedroom. My memory begins again with a swarm of paramedics hovering around me. I had had a seizure.

Apparently, Chance and his mom heard a loud thud from the other room. They assumed a picture had fallen, but when Chance went into the bedroom he saw me on the floor seizing. Aubrey was on the floor too, crying.

The paramedics took my blood pressure and checked my blood sugar while Chance explained to them what he saw take place. I couldn't believe that I had just had a seizure. My labor and delivery went so well, and I felt that I was recovering rather quickly. Everything had seemed so normal, until now. After the paramedics left I called my mom (a nurse) who insisted that I call my OBGYN doctor. The OBGYN office told me to go straight back to labor and delivery, where I would be readmitted as a patient. 

It was all quite overwhelming. I don't really remember walking down to the car with Aubrey in tow. I do remember how distraught Chance was, which was difficult to see. 

After checking in at Baylor and being brought to hospital room, I began to break down. Why did this happen? Was I okay? Was Aubrey okay?! Seeing the fear that Chance was experiencing made me realize the gravity of the situation. 

Later, Chance took Aubrey to the pediatrician where she was assessed. We feared that I had dropped her when I began to seize, maybe hitting her head upon landing. She was in good condition, though, and the doctor saw no reason for concern. We were thankful. 

The doctors ordered all sorts of tests to be done: a CT scan, a MRI, an EKG, an EEG, and lots of bloodwork. It was a very draining day, both physically and emotionally. The nurse who cared for me that day was a Christian, and at one point when I sank into tears before my MRI she asked to pray for me; it was just what I needed. 

Later, I saw a neurologist and my OBGYN. Both doctors explained that a seizure can happen by many different causes: lack of sleep, high blood pressure, hormonal changes, etc. They reasoned that a combination of factors could have attributed to my seizure. They said that it was likely that it wouldn't happen again, if my tests showed that there were no underlying issues. 

I stayed overnight in the hospital. The next day I had ample time to contemplate the previous day's events. As I sat alone in my quiet hospital room, I reflected on the brevity of life, the importance of knowing Jesus, and uncontrollable nature of certain aspects of our lives. I realized from this experience that despite being in great health, traumatic events can and do occur without warning. God reminded me that He is sovereign over my days. And He reminded me of His great love for me in Jesus Christ, my Savior. 

Although all of my tests had come back normal, the most difficult news came from my OBGYN. She informed me that because of the seizure it was likely that I wouldn't be allowed to drive for up to six months. Ouch. That was a hard pill to swallow. I would have to follow up with a neurologist to confirm that, but six months suddenly felt like an eternity. However, I knew that it could be A LOT worse. 

At around 4pm, I was finally allowed to go home. Chance, Hudson, Shayla, and Aubrey came up to the hospital to take me home. We walked back to Swiss Towers in the bright afternoon sunshine. 

It has taken us these past two weeks to feel comfortable again. We have begun to experience a new "normal" (as much as possible with a newborn!) - running errands together, texting frequently when I am home alone, etc. 

God is definitely teaching me humility as I learn to rely on others for practical help. And I am learning to trust that despite whatever trials I face, God is faithful. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Aubrey's Birth Story - Part One

Written March 22, 2015: As I sit in the hospital room, the first evening with Aubrey, I am just struck by how thankful I am to God. He has really blessed Chance and I in so many ways - two of which are our TWO children: Hudson and baby Aubrey. We don't deserve these gifts, and though I know there will be time that I will take them for granted, my prayer is that God would help to me steward and shepherd their little lives well. What a privilege, blessing, and honor to birth, raise, and parent children.  This verse rings in my heart tonight: "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward."  Psalm 127:3

And now to her birth story... My second pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I had the typical discomforts like heartburn and back pain, but overall my pregnancy was great. I had expectations that Baby A (since we hadn't named her yet) would arrive on her due date, so we planned that my mom would come for that weekend. A week before she came I thought that my water had broken. After about 20 hours and still no contractions, we decided to go get checked at the hospital. As it turned out my water bag was still in tact and baby was just as cozy as ever. 

Well mom came, the weekend went by, and still no baby had arrived. I was very disappointed and needless to say, I was frustrated that (again!) God chose not to answer my prayer that baby would be born on her due date (side note: Hudson was 11 days past his due date). 

A whole week went by, I went to the doctor again, no changes in my cervix but baby's fluid looked great. I decided to just wait it out. On Friday (March 20) Shayla (Chance's mom) arrived. On Saturday afternoon I thought I was having some mild contractions, but wasn't sure so I didn't mention it to Chance. That evening (early Sunday morning) at about 2am, I was woken up by some pretty uncomfortable contractions. I didn't wake Chance up on the off chance that it wasn't actually labor. I went back to sleep and after another hour went by I woke up again. I decided to time the contractions - 10 minutes apart. These contractions lasted for a few hours, and at 5:30am Chance woke up to use the bathroom. I told him about my contractions and he got excited. We tried to lay back down but ended up just talking on and off. I didn't walk around much because the contractions were getting stronger quickly. At 7am, the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. 

I contacted Vandi, my wonderful friend and doula, and by 8am she had arrived. Shayla came over in the meantime to watch Hudson. It was quite funny trying to get ready to go to the hospital while Hudson was running around the apartment acting like a rambunctious toddler :) Labor is definitely different when you have another child around! Vandi and I walked the hallway twice and in that amount of time I had had 4 contractions (in 6 minutes). Vandi said we should go to the hospital. So we packed up in the van and Chance dropped us off (then he parked the van at DTS and ran back to the hospital). Vandi helped me get checked in at Baylor and we were taken to a nice corner room in labor and delivery. 

At that point I was in serious pain with each contraction. The nurse checked me once I got into the room, although it was hard for me to even lay down, and I was 8cm dilated! I immediately moved to the birthing ball and leaned on a side table during each contraction. I kept saying "there's so much pressure!". My water bag still hadn't broken and I was feeling discouraged. I told Chance and Vandi that I didn't think I could do this for much longer. The contractions were so intense.  

The nurse checked me again and I was 9cm. The nurses called the doctor and the delivery team to come in. Finally, she checked me again and I was a 10! I had started to push while on the birthing ball and Vandi encouraged me that it was okay. She also kept saying "you're so strong!" which was really helpful since I was doubting my ability to continue laboring. Since my water hadn't broken yet, the nurse asked if I wanted them to break it. I consented and once they did the insane pressure that I had been feeling was relieved. I got into the bed which they had made into a chair, I pushed once and Chance saw her hair! During a break between contractions, I remember telling Chance to pray. He prayed a heartfelt (probably somewhat flustered) prayer. Afterwards he would mention how great a testimony that was. I pushed again and she was almost here! I pushed a few more times during the next contraction and delivered baby Aubrey! 

It was such an intense but joyful experience. Aubrey's birth was amazingly rewarding. We didn't decide until after she was born that her name would be Aubrey Olivia. We are still getting used to it and to the fact that we have two children. What an amazing blessing. God is so good. 

The next day I was able to go home from the hospital because I was feeling great. And then... (To be continued in Part 2). 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Race Recap - Texas "Whine Not" Another Marathon

After the craziness of the cancelation of the Dallas Marathon less than two weeks ago, I scrambled to sign up for a new race as soon as I could. I didn't want to travel very far, but it was looking like that would be inevitable, since most of the races that still had space were further away. My other option was waiting until February or April to run, but I wasn't sure that I could train for another few months. A friend of mine sent me a link to a race here in Dallas. It was the following weekend. The race was called the Texas Whiner Series Marathon. I had never heard of it, nor had I heard of the race location: Bachman Lake. On a whim, after Chance's encouragement, I signed up for it. 

As the days dwindled down to race time, I began to get really nervous. After all, I had completed some pretty unconventional training. I used the Hansons Marathon Method to train for this race: my first full marathon. My longest run had been only 16.5 miles. In comparison to most training plans, which have you run at least one 20-miler, this training plan capped at 16 miles for its longest run. I ran 6 days a week, incorporating strength, speed, and tempo workouts. It was hard, but so much fun. 

The night before the race, Chance and I were in the kitchen talking. I asked him, "So, how do you think I'm going to do tomorrow?" I was hoping for some major ego boosters as I was really starting to get the pre-race jitters. His response: "Well.. I know that if anyone can do it, you can." Um, not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I'll take it! He went on to explain that 26.2 miles is a reallllllly long way to run and since I had only run a few 16-milers, he wasn't 100% sure I'd be able to finish. Yikes. Now I wasn't so sure either...

Race morning! I didn't sleep well the night before (big surprise!) but still got up at at 5:30 to eat and get ready. Downed some gluten-free waffles, a bit of coffee, and got dressed. It was 32 degrees outside. Chance and Hudson took me to the race start where a group of about 60 other people were gathered. 

The race was so low-key and non-intimidating. I liked that a lot. The woman, who was giving instructions about the course, asked if anyone was a first-time marathoner. A number of other people (including me!) raised their hands. This was it, no backing out now! I was so ready to start running. At 7:00am the clock started and all of us runners were off.

The sun started to come up just after 7:00, and it turned out to be a beautiful morning. There was no wind, which was amazing. The course was eight 3-mile-long laps around Bachman Lake and then a short out-and-back about 3/4 mile to the finish line. I thought that going around in a circle would get monotonous, but it actually wasn't bad at all. 

I got near the front of the "pack" with about three other runners ahead of me. I was going to try to maintain about an 8:12 pace for the whole race. My first few miles I found it difficult to even out my pace, but once I got into a rhythm I was much more steady-going. I began talking to a woman who was running right behind me, who was shooting for a similar finish time. We were both trying for BQ's (Boston Qualifying times - 3:35:00). I was more or less just doing that for fun, to see if I could actually get close to that time. My actual goal time was 3:40:00.

At about the halfway point, I began to feel some soreness in my legs, but not too bad. As I got closer to that 16-mile mark, I was getting excited because I still felt really good. After I passed 16 miles and finished 17, 18, 19 miles I was pumped because I hadn't run that long... ever!

Around mile 20, I went to grab some gummies from my running belt and to my horror realized that I had dropped my phone (or so I thought). I spent the next two laps trying to remember whether or not I had actually taken it with me. When I saw Chance and Hudson pull up in the car, just as I passed mile 23 (still feeling somewhat fresh!) I was relieved to discover that Chance had my phone the whole time.. whoops. It was a nice distraction, anyways. 

I yelled to them, "Last lap!", and kept on running. I decided to push my pace a little bit when I got to mile 24, so my last two miles were under 8:00. Throughout the whole race, I had passed by other runners who cheered me on, or yelled things like "You're killing it!" That was truly helpful! Thank you, other runners! 

When I got to the turn around to make it back to the finish line, I thought that I might just make the 3:35:00 mark. As I sprinted to the finish, I looked at the clock which read "3:36:14". I  couldn't believe it! I had finished my first marathon, and had done it UNDER my goal time of 3:40:00. I didn't really care that I missed a BQ by about a minute. I was just thankful to have been able to run this race, cheered on by some other wonderful runners and my two biggest fans: Chance and Huddy.

Hudson after the race. He was just too excited to take his morning nap.

At the finish line, the race volunteers told me my official time (3:36:14) and told me that I had finished first female overall. Now THAT was a huge surprise. Granted, there were only 60 people in the whole race (not exactly the Dallas Marathon) but still! Overall, my first marathon experience couldn't have been better. I am super happy that my training**, as unconventional as it was, paid off. After three days, I am beginning to feel much less sore, and can't wait to get back out there logging more miles. 

Happy Running! 

[**I would definitely recommend the Hansons Marathon Method to anyone looking to train for a marathon. Whether it's your first or tenth, HMM will push your expectations and help you to achieve beyond what you think your body is capable of.]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Post-[What Would Have Been My First]-Marathon Reflections

On Wednesday afternoon, I went out for a slow, four-mile run down Swiss Avenue, enjoying the beautiful 79 degree weather. I thought, "Surely tomorrow's forecast for freezing rain is a little farfetched." This picture can attest to how I could have rationalized that thought. 

On Thursday morning, the temperature had dropped to just above 32 degrees, and the clouds which hung in the sky looked unpromising. Unfortunately for me, I guess the weather man got it right. The plan was to have two friends and one family member of mine, from out of state, fly in the next day. We were all supposed to run the Dallas Marathon on Sunday. On Friday, I got the news that my friend's flight had been canceled. Then the truly unexpected happened...

After more than twenty-four hours since getting the news that the Dallas Marathon was canceled, I am still experiencing a whole gamut of emotions. I am frustrated, disappointed, and sad. I had such high hopes for myself, especially since this was to be my FIRST full marathon. My goal was to run under 3:40:00, having completed the Hanson's Marathon Method Beginner Program. 

As I said in my previous post just a few days ago, I learned a lot from my training; discipline, thankfulness, amongst other things. I still believe God's goodness and sovereignty despite this major disappointment. My theology is working for me! 

But disappointment is an interesting beast. We get most disappointed when our expectations are the highest. After four months of hard work, I had set high goals of completing this marathon and doing it well. Naturally, my disappointment is not minor. In the grand scheme of eternity, this is so insignificant. 

In the last day, I have even felt silly for crying about the circumstances surrounding this disappointing weekend. But at the same time, we are human beings created with very real emotions. It is all about how you control those emotions that determine whether or not your response to your circumstances is correct or not. 

By the grace of God, I believe that I have kept my perspective on eternity and my emotions in check (for the most part). Nevertheless, I am bummed about not running [what would have been my first] marathon. L

Perhaps, God is teaching me humility. Or maybe he is reminding me that He is God and I am not. Shoot, He desires to teach me all these things and in the midst of it, remind me of His grace which I do not deserve. I am reminded of what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6, that bodily discipline is of some value, whereas godliness is valuable not only in this life, but also in the life to come. 

That truth stings my flesh as I try to rationalize how important running this race was to me. On the one hand, finishing this marathon was going to be a great blessing and accomplishment; on the other hand, if my hope is bound up in just completing a road race, then I need to get my priorities straight. Talk about a reality check!

It has been helpful for me to write these thoughts down as I reflect on my unmet expectations. From here, I don't know what my running schedule will look like. I am not sure when I will run a marathon: next weekend, in the spring, or next December, perhaps. Whatever happens, I am confident that God will get the glory. He controls the details of our everyday lives and has proven to me [again] that His ways are not my ways, nor are His thoughts my thoughts (Isa. 55). 

Whether you are in the midst of disappointment, as I am, or you can look back retrospectively at disappointment in your life, rest assured that God is the same. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." When life doesn't go according to plan, like I've experienced this weekend, we can trust that God has it all under control.