Hurts so good.

Every other Thursday night, I have on my Google calendar an event from 8-10pm.  

It’s titled: WRITE … DON’T IGNORE!!!

I ignore it.  Every single time.  

Clearly, it’s working.

So a friend of mine called me out on it.  She asked me to add her to the invite, so that it popped up on her phone too and she can ask me about it every time.

Accountability… so annoying.

So, I’m writing.  That’s a good sign.

Over the last couple months I’ve made some discoveries about myself.  It’s interesting, that same friend above recently told me, “I heard someone once say, we think we have children so that we can grow and develop them, but they actually end up growing and developing us.”

Um, truth.

Motherhood hurts.  That’s what I’ve discovered.  Like so when we’re kids and we have growth spurts and it can physically hurt our bodies, motherhood hurts.  Growing hurts.

If you look up the word Motherhood in the dictionary, it’s literally defined as “the state of being a mother.”  Thanks, Dictionary.com.  Helpful.

If I was in a Spelling Bee, I’d be like, uh, can you define it further please?

“The state in which you feel or think you are the worst at everything, and in which every flaw you’ll ever have is exposed.  Example: ‘She feels like she is not enough.  She is in Motherhood.’ Synonyms: failure, lack of success, defeat.”

Ohhh!  Easy.  M-o-t-h-e-r-h-o-o-d.  Motherhood.

Nailed it.

Yes, it’s a state of discovery.  The discovery of all the crap.

But, here’s the good news about discovery.  Discovery leads to new learning.  Discovery leads to development.  Discovery leads to growth.

At least, that’s the hope.

I have a lot of growing to do.

I have a lot of brokenness I need to break into and let the cracks be filled with the superglue that is God’s grace.

We are in a new year and perhaps many of us, now in February, have already given up on our New Year resolutions.  To be honest, I don’t make any in the first place.  But there is always something in me that takes a deep breath and has this optimism for a “fresh start.”  That, perhaps, this year will be different.  I’ll make changes and I’ll be better.

I realized, with some people’s help, I need to take care of myself better.  Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  

Self-care… the antonym next to Motherhood in the dictionary.

I just finished a book called The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp, which was brilliant and I’m still recovering from all that I read.  It is essentially about living an abundant life even in our brokenness.  And she gave me so many life-altering words, but the ones that have been rattling my brain like a constant blow to the head have been these:

“There is no growth without change, no change without surrender, no surrender without wound – no abundance without breaking.  Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds of deeper growth … For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone.  The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change.  If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.”

If you didn’t understand what Motherhood looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.

To come fully into your own, you must become wholly undone.

“Our most meaningful purpose can be found exactly in our most painful brokenness.”

Yes.  Motherhood can tear open some of our most painful brokenness.  To love this much is to open your heart to pain.  It can cause complete destruction.  It opens our wounds so deep we fail to see, on our own, how we could ever really do this.  How we could ever be enough.  How we could ever be our best selves our children deserve.  

But God never meant for our brokenness to have no meaning.  He never meant for us to go at this alone.  And he gave us His infinite grace to prove that.

“Grace embraces you before you prove anything, and after you’ve done everything wrong.  Every time you fall down, at the bottom of every hole is grace.  Grace waits in broken places.  Grace waits at the bottom of things.  Grace loves you when you are at your darkest worst, and wraps you in the best light.  Grace seeps through the broken places and seeps into the lowest places, a balm for wounds.”

A balm for wounds.  

Have you ever put Neosporin on a cut?  It can burn, but you know that it’s doing its job.  It’s beginning the healing process.  It hurts, but it’s good.

My son deserves my best self.  He is everything to me and I love him so much… So much it hurts.

It hurts so good.

Motherhood hurts so good.

Life hurts so good.

“Grace is grace when it gives us what we’d never ask for but always needed, and moves us to become what we always wanted.  But hardly ever the way we wanted.

Yes, hardly ever the way we wanted.  Have you noticed that?  We grow the most, change the most, learn the most, usually through painful experiences or hard lessons.

Usually through the fussiness of a one-year-old.

This past year, almost year and a half, I have never been more stretched or more challenged.  I’ve never been more self aware of my emotions, my flaws and my weaknesses.  Parenting brings all of that out of you, whether we like it or not.  And I have not.

But I’ve also never been more aware of God’s strengths.

And what’s been most fascinating, most apparent, is how much more I see God in all of it.  

I see His holiness and His mercies.

I see His love and protection.

I see His miracles in the monotony.

I see my brokenness… breaking.

Through His infinite grace.

Yes, motherhood can hurt.  But the beauty of it is that God designed it in a way that offers an open invitation to His grace.  An open invitation to cling to Him through all of it.  So that when it hurts, it hurts so good.  It hurts so that it changes you, develops you, grows you.

And sometimes God will show you the good in the smallest of things.  In the quiet moments, the monotonous moments, the ordinary everyday moments.  These can turn into the most Holy ones…

I was sitting quietly in the dark, nightlight on, giving a bottle to Brooks as he lay across my lap. The sound machine playing white noise in the background.  I had a long day, I was tired and felt defeated.  I was not my best self.  I was impatient with Brooks.  I yelled at Brooks.  I was lazy with Brooks.  I was in the midst of praying to God about how overwhelmed I felt and how I couldn’t possibly be enough for this…

Lord, am I enough?

And just then, in the ordinary of the bedtime routine, I feel a little hand touch my arm, and begin to caress it like someone would when consoling.  I look down and see my boy looking up at me.  He takes the same hand and touches my face, begins to pat it like a friend would pat your back.  He smiles, pushes the bottle away and curls up into my shoulder.  His hand now clenched in my hair behind my neck as he falls asleep in my arms… and it hurt so good.

I squeezed Brooks a little tighter, smelled his hair, and thanked God.

And gave Him one final thought…

Okay, God, I’ll add some Synonyms to Motherhood:  Holy.  Miraculous…

Good.

A year of parenthood. A year of grace. Lots and lots of grace.

A year ago today, Brooks was twenty-eight days old.  I was twenty-eight days into motherhood.  Twenty-eight days into the biggest change of my life.  Twenty-eight days into a life of unpredictability, heart-wrenching emotion and exuberant joy.  

Twenty-eight days.  Brooks was so little.  Everything was so new.  I was so lost.

Postpartum depression, sleep deprivation and hormones took me for a ride that first month of motherhood, and I already don’t remember much about it, except there was crying.  Lots and lots of crying… and I’m not just talking about Brooks.

It’s amazing to think back to a year ago and try and grasp just how different it was and how much has changed in just one year of motherhood.  It’s amazing to see how much a baby grows in their first year, and how much you grow as a parent, too, while still feeling so inadequate at the same time.

I didn’t know my son then.  Not yet.  At that time, he was just this little human that I knew I had to feed when he cried and change when he pooped.  I didn’t know him.  He didn’t know me.  We were just trying to figure this whole thing out together.

Just one year later and I can’t even imagine that kind of relationship.  Brooks is as much a part of me now as if he has always existed in my life.  This year has brought me a love-life I’ve never known before.  This year has brought me a joy I never knew this life could offer.  I’m thankful and I’m grateful.

I’m also anxious and scared and tired… really, really tired.

Because babies are tiring.  Did you know that?  They, like, are non-stop.  Especially when they become mobile.  I feel like I’m following around a drunk friend all day making sure they don’t do anything to hurt themselves and simply keeping them afloat until I can finally tuck them into bed at night, hoping they don’t wake up sick or wet the bed.  Or worse.

Parenthood does not come without a myriad of anxiousness, fears, emotion and sleepiness.  It’s a non-stop roller-coaster ride that doesn’t allow you to get off.  It just keeps going around and around, with flips and turns and drops.  Some of it is exciting.  Some of it is scary.  Some of it gives you butterflies.  Some of it makes you sick.  Some of it gives you adrenaline.  Some of it is boring.  It’s a ride that you never want to get off because it’s your favorite ride, but every once in awhile you want to take a break and maybe, I don’t know, actually get something to eat.

And, if it’s your first time on a roller-coaster, there’s really nothing like it.

So as I reflect on this past year, that’s how I see it; a roller-coaster.  Not just in parenthood, but in life.  We moved into a new house, in a new neighborhood.  We had our first child.  I went back to work after having my first child.  I balanced new mommyhood and work and marriage.  I saw friends get married. I missed a friend get married in California due to an untimely flu.  I saw friends since we were babies have their own babies and step into this parenthood abyss just like me.  I dealt with loss upon loss that is still too fresh.

I sit here now and I’m asking myself how did that all happen in just one year?  Life is moving so fast, and I feel like I can’t keep up.  I’m taking a pulse on how I did my first year of parenthood and life with a baby.  How in the world did I do this and how will I continue to do it?  How do I keep putting on more hats and balance it all?

Because, I’m already exhausted, and Adam and I claim we aren’t done growing our family yet…

I recently had lunch with a friend who is literally superwoman.  True story.  With a family of her own, a child with Special Needs and a job that pulls her in every direction, a job she does ridiculously well I might add, I sat across from her and flat out asked,

How do you do it?  All of it?

The gist of her answer?

God.  And grace.

A lot of grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

She realized she could do none of it without God, and she simply surrendered each day to him, trusting him that he was in control.  She’d wake up and claim, “I am 100% pleasing to God today,” no matter what she did, and then lived that out throughout her day.  It opened her heart to live fully and forgive herself easily.

Most of the lunch I sat there reflecting not just on the past year but on my life and spewing out everything I’ve done wrong and and all the ways I’m not enough, all the ways I could have done better, all the ways I’m lazy and undisciplined and suck at life.  All the ways I’ve failed and all the times I was afraid to fail and so I didn’t even try.

I was laying out there everything the megaphone in my brain has yelled out to me for years.

She looked at me.  Took the “megaphone” from me.  Flipped it around and said loud and clear,

Do you think you may be being a little too hard on yourself?

Think about Brooks.  How would you feel if Brooks thought these things about himself, if he was being this hard on himself?

Crushed.

So don’t you think God is pretty crushed that you, his daughter, is this hard on herself?  When his infinite grace is at your disposal?  Give yourself a little grace, just as God gives it to you everyday.

Sometimes I forget the gift that is motherhood, because it gives me insight into how God feels about me.  It provides me a glimpse into how much God really loves me, in the same way I love my son.  

Except God loves infinitely more so.  And his love is also perfect.

So, why?  Why do we so easily forget?  Why is it so hard for us to accept God’s love and grace and mercy, but we’re so quick to believe the lies of the enemy?

Because it’s hard to comprehend perfect love when we are anything but perfect.  We are broken people living in a broken world and we tend to see our brokenness as a separator from God, when in actuality God uses our brokenness as a way to Him.

The enemy uses our brokenness to destruct.  God uses our brokenness to restore.

God restores our brokenness by offering his grace.

The cracks that led to my brokenness really started when I was fifteen, due to a tragic event that I watched unfold around me.  I saw first-hand what the brokenness of this world can do to a family, to a community, to friends and loved ones.  The world as I knew it did not exist after that, and the enemy rejoiced.  From that point on, he knew exactly how he was going to hold me back from my full potential in Christ, before I even knew Christ at all.

And with that, it holds me back from my full potential as a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, etc.

Being a parent is hard enough.  But being a parent while also being a wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, whomever, you can start to lose sight of who you are as a person.  I am all of these things, yes.  And I love being all of these things.  I love being a mom to Brooks and a wife to Adam.  But my brokenness can let the roles that I play each day and how I perform in those roles define me.  We let what we do become who we are instead of allowing who we are (hint: a child of God) to define and shape what we do.

Perform.  Perform and control.  Perform and control and cling to these roles as if you are nothing without them.

Perform and control and cling.  

Fail.

Feel miserable.

Repeat.

If I perform and control and cling to these things, nothing bad will ever happen.

Brokenness.  Again and again and again.

Year one of parenthood is in the books, and I can look back on this year and find all the things that went wrong.  All the ways I failed or all the ways things could have gone better.  All the ways I was broken.  Because those things are there.  There’s no denying that.

Or I can look back and see His grace.

I can see my son.  And the reminder of God’s love for me in how much I love Brooks.  A beautiful, healthy baby boy who looks at me with his big eyes and insane eyelashes as if I am his entire world.

I can see a desire fulfilled.  I am mom.  A mom!  What meaning that brings me and what purpose I have now.  My son is a part of me and I a part him.  I will always have that.

I can see a husband who loves me and loves Brooks and works incredibly hard to care for us well and always puts us first.

I can see good friends and co-workers who genuinely want to see me succeed and walk alongside me through the good and bad.

I can see family who on a daily basis give up their time and freedom to care for Brooks, giving us the opportunity to work, save money and know Brooks is in such good hands.

I can see hope in tragedy through close family relationships and joy in tragedy through the beauty of new life in Brooks and the smiles he brought during excruciating loss for our family.

Did I mention his eyelashes?

I can see joy.  

Lots and lots of joy.

I can see grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

The enemy says it’s because of your brokenness you cannot break free.

God says it’s because of my grace in your brokenness that you are free.

A year ago today, Brooks was twenty-eight days old.  Today, he is three hundred and ninety-three days old.

A lot has changed.

God’s grace has not.

And it was, and is, sufficient for me.

So won’t it always be?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Joy and Sorrow. Sorrow and Joy.

I was tossing and turning, staring at the clock wondering how much sleep I’d get if I fell asleep NOW.

Or NOW.

Okay, NOW.

It was one of those nights…

It was a Sunday evening and Adam and I just had the whole week off for a little “staycation.”  We had a great week of weather and relaxation, we celebrated our five year anniversary and we had Brooks dedicated at church that very Sunday.  We were surrounded by family all day and we felt truly blessed.  It was a week worth celebrating.  It was a joyful week.

But as I cozied up in bed reflecting back on the week, sorrow crept in.  That day was bittersweet.  You see, my aunt is in the hospital battling for her life with cancer and she was the only one not there that day.  She’s always there.  She’s always been there.  For every big moment.  For every small moment.  It was… odd and a little uncomfortable.  I spent that day thinking about her often, hugging my two younger cousins, her daughters, a little tighter and gazed at my uncle with concern more times than I can remember, praying for him each time I did.

We all did have a wonderful time, but we all knew something was missing.

P.s.  Cancer sucks, am I right?

I thought about those two things side by side in bed that night, tears beginning to roll down my face.  And, as weird as this sounds, it made me chuckle a little.  I remember thinking, “Well if that’s not the story of life I don’t know what is…”

It’s thinking you have a relaxing night ahead of you, only to be interrupted later in the shower by your concerned husband and a crying child while shampoo is still in your hair.

It’s watching a friend give birth to a beautiful baby boy one week, while another buries her stillborn baby girl the next.

It’s moving into a new home and then having a pipe burst.

It’s the joy of servicemen or women coming home to families from battle only to fight a different battle in PTSD.

It’s dedicating this new life in Christ, while a loved one clings to hers.

Joy and sorrow.

Sorrow and joy. 

Side by side.

Life. In a nutshell.

It is proof of a fallen world.

That night in bed I raised this question with God…

Lord, where is the good in bad?

I wanted a detailed explanation.  Instead, He gave me one word.

Jesus.

I stared up at the ceiling in awe of how simple the answer was and how easily I forget.

The day Jesus was murdered, I don’t think his followers thought that was a good day.  They had no idea what was to come.  All they knew was their leader and friend, who claimed to be the Son of God who will rule the earth, died.  He died.  How do you rule the earth when you’re dead?

Sorrow.

But three days later Jesus rose again.

Joy.

The story of Jesus reveals a similar pattern…

Joy and sorrow.

Sorrow and joy.

Side by side.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But here’s the kicker.  Without Jesus, all would be bad, even when it’s good.

Let me explain.

We would still have some good.  We’d also still have some bad.  There would still be joy.  There would still be sorrow.

But our sorrow, the bad, would be just plain bad.  There would be no “bright side.”  No “reason.”  No “purpose” for any of our pain.  If bad was just plain bad, bad would begin to suffocate the good until, eventually, all that’s left is bad.

And that’s not good…

Yes, there is good and bad.

But because of Jesus, there is also good in bad.

Because of Jesus, life is good despite the bad.

Because of Jesus, we find joy even in our bad.

I’m not saying our sufferings in this life are not painful.  I’m not saying the bad doesn’t hurt.  I’m not saying it will ever feel good to endure the bad.  Nobody wants the bad.

I hate the bad.

I don’t want to lose people I love.

Do you??

I cringe at the bad.

I cry at the bad.

I’m an emotional wreck at the bad.

I hate, hate, HATE the bad!

God also hates the bad.  So He gave us the good… in His bad.  By sacrificing His only son, God endured the bad so that we could have the good.  And Jesus is SO perfect, that even when life is bad, it can still be Good.

Our hope is in Him.

My hope is in Him.

It’s because of that hope that in my sorrow, I try to cling to the promise of Jesus’ words,

In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart.  I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

And these words from the Apostle Paul,

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also boast in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:2-4)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

And lastly these…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I don’t know the reasons for a lot of things.  I grow weary trying to figure that out.  I just don’t know.  I don’t know why bad things happen other than we live in a broken world and until Jesus returns or until we pass on into eternal life, we will always have trouble.

Joy and sorrow.

Sorrow and joy.

Side by side.

And when we’re in our sorrow, which we inevitably will be, we’ll feel pain.  We’ll be hurt.  We’ll have heartache.

We’ll probably cry out to the heavens and ask God that question we so easily forget the answer to…

Lord, where is the good in bad?

And God, even in our forgetfulness, will lovingly give us the simplest yet most appropriate one word answer.

Jesus.

Whether you win or lose, you wine.

Almost an hour had passed and I managed three bites of food out of my son.  I tried everything. Toys.  Distractions.  Puffs.  Oh the puffs!  Nothing was getting him to eat what I had prepared for him.

He was fussy.

I was fussy.

The day needed to end.

It was 7:30 in the morning.

My thoughts as the breakfast battle raged on,

Can we just go back to bed and try again tomorrow?

Is it too early for wine?

Oh my gosh, it’s just eggs.

EAT THE EGGS.

There’s still more hours in the day after this?!

Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man.

Wine.

Bed.

FOR PETE’S SAKE EAT THE EGGS.

I’m tired.

Another morning.  Another defeat.

Lunch and dinner didn’t fare much better.  Another battle lost.  I gave up and sluggishly moved on to our bedtime routine; bath, story time and bottle.  He fell asleep in my arms while his room darkened as early evening turned into night. I sat there, rocking away, singing to him softly… tears in my eyes.

The tears surprised me.  I remember thinking,

Are you crying?  There’s no crying!  There’s no crying in Baseball!! – Thanks, Tom Hanks for helping me find humor in this moment – No, but really, get your sh*t together!

I was done.  I desperately needed some time to myself and I was finally getting it, and I just stared at him, reluctant to put him down, feeling guilty that I “needed time to myself.”  

My brain decides to get all dramatic and ponder life…

Someday you’re gonna miss this.

Soon he’ll be a teenager and I’m pretty sure he won’t let you cuddle him.

Think about all the women who can’t have children, Karen. They wouldn’t dare take this time for granted.

Remember that story you just read on Facebook of the mom who lost her baby in that tragic accident? …Just reminding you…

How much do you think she’d like to cuddle her baby right now?

Being a mom is a privilege, Karen.  You should cherish this.  But you go ahead and have that glass of wine now.  You deserve it!

Oh, also a reminder that you didn’t cook any dinner so you should feel guilty about being a bad wife too.

Thank you, brain.  You know just what to say.

I went to bed feeling defeated.  It was a crappy day.  Some days, you just can’t win.

Your child really can make or break your day.  If they’re not happy, you’re not happy.  If they’re sad, you’re sad.  If they’re fussy, you’re fussy.  Depending on how good or bad their day is can determine whether you feel like you failed as a parent.  Intellectually, we know that’s not true, but we feel that way nonetheless.

It’s what guilt is made of.  Woven together so intricately and meticulously that you can’t help but be entranced by it.

You know what I’ve learned, though?  Guilt is okay.  I wouldn’t become friends with it, but I can live with it.  Guilt can paralyze you, so understanding your heart behind it is crucial.  And you know what my heart was saying in between those guilt-laden thoughts?

He is so darn cute.

This is all I need.

I love him so much.

Those cheeks.

Those cheeks!

These are tears of thankfulness.

I will cherish this forever.

Gosh, he smells good.

I don’t wanna put him down.

I have to put him down.

I need to like eat and take care of myself and stuff.

Okay, I’ll put him down.

Ugh. I miss him already.

Wine.

Guilt helps me see how much I really care.  It’s not fun, but it does give a glimpse into where my heart’s at.

So what did I do that night?

Nothing.

I went to bed.

Because sleep RULES.

And I woke up the next day and we did it all over again.

The day was good.  Brooks still fussed at his meals but we got through it.  He was happy.

This time, I went to bed feeling victorious.

Brooks is gonna have good days and bad days, regardless of what I do or how I “parent.”  He’s a human.  A new and tiny one.  But still human.  Just like us, for no reason, he’s going to have bad days.  He’s going to “win some” and “lose some.”  He just cries more about it.

Winning is not the reason you play the game.

Just kidding, I’m so competitive, winning is everything… I’m a work in progress.

BUT.  You have to learn to be okay with the losing part, because as much as we’d like to “win ‘em all,” we won’t.  That’s life.  Good days and bad days.  Sad days and happy days.  Scary days and exciting days.  Crazy days and mundane days.  Life is a compilation of winning and losing.

And the way we treat losing can really determine how we win, too.

I’m not saying you have to love losing.  It’s okay not to.  We’re not going to cherish every moment.  We’re just not.  Yes, it will go too fast and yes, we’ll look back and say we wish we cherished it all, but your memory will have cushioned and blurred some of the bad stuff.

I’m not going to feel guilty about not cherishing every moment.

I’m not going to feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

I love my life.  That doesn’t mean I love every moment.

Life is tough.

Being a mom is tough.

I’m exhausted!

But I’m okay.

Whether I win or lose these small battles we call days, I know that I go out there everyday and give it my all.

Sometimes my all isn’t enough.

And when I feel guilty, which I inevitably do, I’ll still be sad and defeated and anxiety-ridden.

I’ll probably cry.

But then I’ll remember what my heart said through the guilt.

You love.

You feel.

You care.

Those cheeks!

Wine.

We totally failed, and it was the best.

There are two photos in our family room from a wonderful vacation we took in the Bahamas recently. You could say they are those perfect family photos, the ones you share on all of your social media accounts. The ones, you know, you put in cute frames and display proudly in your family room.   They are perfect.

Except, they’re not.

Nope.

Not even a little bit.

Let me tell you about those two photos. They were gross. Yes, I said gross. More about that later. They were certainly not our best effort, and we were totally failing as parents just to get the photo in the first place.

It was our last night in Atlantis.   We had just finished a delicious dinner with the whole family and finished just in time to take the perfect shot on the beach, just after the sun was setting. If you’ve been to Atlantis, you know that the resort is absolutely ginormous. The walk to the beach would take a good ten minutes, and it was now an hour past Brooks’ bedtime, (parent fail #1.)

The ten-minute walk in the stroller was beginning to put Brooks to sleep and he was fading, fast, so we did all we could to keep him awake so he could be alert for the photo, when all he wanted to do was sleep, (parent fail #2.)

Before we had left the restaurant, Brooks was acting super fussy, as well, so this was a risk in the first place to not just take him straight back to the hotel room. However, on the walk to the beach, he surprisingly snapped out of the fussiness and was super happy, although sleepy, but cute and smiley and laughing. I thought, thank you, Lord! He got his second wind! This is going to work! What I didn’t think to realize nor remember was that Brooks was fussy at dinner because he was gassy, and I fed him prunes just a little while earlier. Now he was all of a sudden not fussy… I did not put two and two together, (parent fail #3.)

We arrived at the beach, Brooks was awake, happy and we were totally gonna do this thing! My mother-in-law had her good camera and I was wearing my white dress; you know, the one you wait to wear until the last night of vacation when you’re tannest, obviously. Brooks was dressed to impress in his white buttoned-down, and Adam was looking handsome as ever, fancy white pants and all. Perfect.

That is until I picked Brooks up from the stroller.

All of a sudden, my skin was not the only thing on me that had a tan.

Poop. Poop everywhere.   My white dress. Brooks’ white buttoned-down. My perfect photo! Mort.

Adam and I yelled out, freaked out and laughed hysterically. I was covered in poop. Brooks was covered in poop. The stroller was covered in poop. His stroller blanket was covered in poop. So. Much. Poop.

Thank you, prunes. I forgot how well you worked.

We had two choices here. We could have done the right thing and gotten him back in that stroller, raced back to the room to get him in the bath, get us both in the bath, and get him to bed. OR, we could have taken the photos anyway.

Yep… (enter parent fail #4.)

We debated for a hot second on what to do, gave each other a look and yelled out simultaneously,

“We’re doing it anyway!”

And we ran like little children onto the beach, laughing and giggling and smiling.

We took the photos anyway.

If you look at them closely you can see stains on my dress and Brooks’ discolored shorts, even after my MIL used her amazing Photoshop skills to try and remove them. But I put them up anyway. I display them proudly anyway, because as much as we try to be perfect, it’s the not so perfect moments that create the best memories. It’s the not so perfect moments that represent our lives in the ugliest, most real, yet most beautiful ways. It’s the not so perfect moments that allow us to “fail” as parents, as people, but not feel so guilty because we had a good laugh in the end. It’s the not so perfect moments that allow us to relate to one another.

I display those photos because it’s us. It’s all of us. It’s perfectly imperfect people.

Every time I look at those photos, I smile. And I can’t wait to tell Brooks all about it. I can’t wait to tell him how we sat in the bathtub together, cleaning poop off our skin, laughing at how good a mood he was in, even while sitting in his own poop for so long. That he was just happy to get it out of him. I can’t wait to tell him we had to throw out half of his outfit and blanket because Mommy was not about to spend her last night in the Bahamas cleaning that up. No.

I can’t wait to tell him…

That it was so gross.

SO gross.

That I couldn’t stop gagging while cleaning him, and Daddy had to take over.

That it was a really long night.

I can’t wait to tell him…

That I’d do it all over again.

That I loved every second of it.

That it was the best night.

I can’t wait to tell him that we laughed at our failure to get the perfect family photo…

And it was perfect.

We need to laugh. We just need to. We really do. Life is hard. All is broken. We are weary. If we let it, the sorrows of this world can swallow us whole. We need to find joy in the little things. We need to not condemn each other’s failures but lift each other up in them. We need to relate.

We need to love.

We need to be kind.  To ourselves and to each other.

We need to pray.

We need to take poop-stained photos in fancy white dresses.

And then we need to display them proudly in our family room.

Facebook, too. Obviously.


31

I’m always thinking about poop… and 9 other things I’ve learned as a new mom.

Locked in my office, pumping out breastmilk for the third time one day, I grabbed my phone to do my daily check in and texted my mother-in-law who was on baby duty that day.

After asking the general, “How’s it going?” my next question was one I had become all too familiar with.

“Any poops?”

If she answered yes, I was all like, “Yay! Poops!”

Then when I see my son, in a squeaky voice, I’m all like, “Did you go poopies today?! I heard you went poopies today!”

I get so excited for poop.

When did I all of a sudden get so excited for poop?

The answer? When I became a mom. When I became a mom, I learned that I get excited for poop.

This had me thinking. What other random things have I come to realize that as a new mom have become the new normal? After all, life has changed drastically, and there are plenty of things I’m learning along the way that I didn’t necessarily read in any parenting books. Things like,

  1. A hot shower is the equivalent to flowers and rainbows and everything good in the world.

You know the cliché advice to “nap when they nap?” Firstly, that’s easier said than done, so stop telling new moms that. It just doesn’t happen. In the beginning it was either, do I nap or do I eat? Do I nap or do I shower? Do I nap or do I pump? Do I nap or do I stare blankly at the TV, irrationally and emotionally questioning all of my life’s decision up to that point. I have to eat, and I have to shower, and I have to pump. No, I didn’t have to stare blankly at the TV, but sometimes you just can’t even do anything. Not to mention my son’s naps last all of 30 minutes. So naps? Just no. But showers? Oh my. Whenever I had a moment to myself, I took a shower. It’s the one time you are alone, uninterrupted (hopefully), and CLEAN. It did wonders for me mentally and even physically after childbirth. And I capitalize clean because more often than not, it’ll be the first one you’re taking in a few days.

  1. You become a human burp cloth.

This is part of the reason why showering feels so good. No matter how many burp cloths you have on you, your baby will find a way to spit up on you. My son’s spit up has the ability to redirect itself mid-air and find its way on to my clothing, and so I’ve given up on changing my clothes throughout the week. My son may only remember me as always looking homeless, but at least he’ll learn a technique on how to save time on laundry.

  1. Whoever said, “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” is the WORST.

Because spilling breastmilk is the WORST. You work so hard for it and when you spill an entire feeding’s worth, you cry and question life as you know it.

And while I don’t have any experience with formula, I’m guessing you’ll cry if you spill that too because, hormones. Plus, when is that ever cheap?

  1. Speaking of crying, you will. A lot. 

At some very irrational things.

One night my husband and I were watching TV when a life insurance commercial chronicled through the life of a baby boy, from infancy to graduation. I sadly gazed over at my husband when he asked me what was wrong. My eyes welled up and I began to cry as I responded in a pathetic voice, “He grew up.”

I cried because the boy grew up.

  1. Hearing “it’ll get better” when it’s not yet getting better, will make you want to punch people.

But don’t. Because it does actually get better. It’s just that when you’re in the thick of it, sleep deprived, and emotionally unstable, hearing it will get better when you feel there’s no end in it getting better, is a very annoying thing to hear.

If it doesn’t get better, you can come personally punch me.

  1. You will have a superpower called multi-tasking. 

Your whole life will now become multi-tasked. Who knew I could cook, empty the dishwasher, vacuum, eat or, yes, even go to the bathroom with my son on my hip?

And who knew I could do so much with my feet?

Rest assured, you will also discover the art of distraction. I have listened to Taylor Swift’s, Shake it Off hundreds of times now. The reason? It distracts my son. Want to use the bathroom all on your own? I don’t blame you. Two words. Taylor. Swift.

On repeat.

  1. You will probably crawl before they do.

In and out of their room, that is. You will do anything to keep them from seeing you as they lie in their crib, so like a ninja in the night, you’ll crawl in and crawl out, leaving them only to question where this phantom arm is coming from that reaches through the crib railing to stick a pacifier in their mouth.

  1. Once you hear your baby laugh, you will literally do anything to make it happen again.

Like Ross on FRIENDS, you may find yourself singing Baby Got Back to your child if that’s what will make them laugh. I have become the most obnoxious person I know when I’m around my son, because all I want him to do is laugh. Fart noises. Singing about how much I like to eat apples and bananas. Telling him I’m going to “get him” a million times. Making noises that only a baby would understand. Dancing like a buffoon. Fake sneezing over and over again. You do it all just to see even a smile. Is it worth it? Yes? Do you look crazy? Yes.

  1. You will have all the feels.

I love my son. I love him so much it HURTS. Remember when I said you will cry a lot? This is why. It’s like a section of your heart you never knew you had has suddenly burst open. So, yes, when I cry because the boy in the commercial grew up, it’s because the old saying is true: “The days are long, but the years are short.”

So we wonder why, Moms, even in the midst of the newborn stage when we can’t even comprehend doing this all over again, we eventually give that look to our husband’s… a look of excitement, a little panic and a lot of crazy. A look that can only conclude one thing:

We’re going to do this again.

And maybe even another time after that.

Because the days are long, but the years are short.

Yes, my son is only six months old, but before I last blinked, he was only six pounds. Time is not our friend, Moms.

So cherish each moment.

Cherish all the feels.

Cherish even the poops.

And just like that, I’m a mom.

A few weeks ago Adam and I were five minutes into a new show called Chicago Med when a doctor rushes in a teenage girl bleeding out only to realize she had just given birth somewhere on the street.  Frantic, the doctor runs a couple blocks away to where the young girl was found to track her steps and see if he can find her child.  The doctor finds a backpack in an alley and opens it up.

And there he was.  A newborn.  In a zipped up backpack.  Helpless.

And there I was.  A new mother.  In a glass case of emotions.  Crying.

I cry.  A lot.  Almost everyday.  Since having my son, I cry.  I never used to be like this.  I don’t even like crying, but my son has opened a section of my heart that I never knew existed until now.  A section that just loves to mess you up emotionally and mentally and physically… a section that screams, “Welcome Mommy!  Here’s all the hormones you can have at once!”

And just like that, I’m a mom.

The most frequent question I’m asked since having Brooks has been: “Do you love it?”

Do you love it???

Don’t you just love it?!?

“Yes! Gosh it’s everything I imagined it would be and BETTER.  Being a mother is the best, gosh yes these ARE truly the best days…” is what I did not say.

I love…him.

No, I don’t love it, whatever it is.  I love him.  And so I do it.

No I don’t love having my schedule revolve around when the next feeding is.  No I don’t love being woken up several times in the middle of the night from loud cries to continue said schedule.  No I don’t love gas being so bad in my baby he decides to just cry all day long, literally, with no end in sight and I get nothing, and I mean nothing, done.  No I don’t love being exhausted all the time, and feeling like a cow, literally and figuratively.  No I don’t love being peed and pooped and spit up on on a daily or hourly basis.  No I don’t love going two or three, maybe four, days without showering because you seriously don’t have a minute.  No I don’t love crying so hard out of frustration because it seems as though you cannot do anything to stop your baby from crying and there’s nothing left for you to do but cry along with him.  And no I don’t love how very real and scary postpartum depression is after you’ve given birth and how physically crappy you feel for quite some time.

No, I don’t love it.

But I do it.

Because I love him.

I love Brooks.  Oh my gosh do I love him.  I am so in love with him it is scary.  The thought of anything happening to him makes me sick to my stomach.  I wish I could describe in words my heart for him, but I honestly can’t.  I look at him and I can almost physically feel my heart melting.  All else falls away.  All I see is him, my son.

** Note to self ** Go back and read that paragraph each time Brooks keeps me up in the middle of the night because he just. won’t. sleep..  and my temperament changes from “Shh, it’s okay sweet boy” to “OH MY GOSH WHAT DO YOU NEED FROM ME?!??”

These last eleven weeks have been the craziest, most exhausting and challenging of my life, and it will continue to be as long as I am a mother.  With every stage comes different challenges and as Adam tells me each time I have meltdowns in his arms (which happens more times than I care to admit), “You’re a mom.  It’s the hardest and most important job you’ll ever have.”  He’s never been more right.

Yet today marks Friday, January 1, 2016.  New Years Day.  And in just three short days, I will need to figure out how to be a full-time mom with a full-time job as I head back to work.  Another stage, another challenge.  For how very anxious I am to take this next step, and as determined as I am to continue to give my very best to my job, a job that I do love, in the stresses of each day I need to remember Adam’s words.

Being a mom to Brooks is the most important job I will ever have.

I have never been more aware of God’s strength than in being a mother. And I have also never been more aware of my weaknesses than in being a mother.  The truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing.  And honestly, I feel like I never will.  But God knows this.  He sees where I fail and yet He’s chosen me anyway.  God has chosen me to be the mother of Brooks.  No one else.  No one on this entire planet can be the mother of Brooks besides me.  God has entrusted me with this child, and it’s because of God that I can truly love this child, because God loved him first.

I know I’m going to fail.  I already have in the short eleven weeks I’ve been a mom.  I know I can’t actually do this.  That’s right.  I can’t do this!  Not on my own… But with God and because of God, I can.  The assurance I have in knowing God knit him in my womb, that God loves Brooks more than I ever will and that God gave up His son so that mine could live, gives me the freedom to know that even in my failures as Brooks’ mother, God succeeds as his Father.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Being a mom is brand new to me, and to be honest it’s really, really hard (gosh I miss sleeping).  Yes I’ve started to get the hang of it a bit and I’ll admit it’s easier than it was in week one, but everyday is something new.  Everyday Brooks changes.  Everyday I’m thrown for a loop. Everyday I can do the same routine with Brooks and it somehow yields a different result every time.  Nothing comes easy.  But nothing is more worth it.

The moment Brooks was placed on my chest, naked and crying, at approximately 3:09am on October 16, 2015, I cried.

And when that doctor on the TV show opened that backpack and that helpless baby was inside, I cried.

And when I first cut Brooks’ nails and I caught his skin and he screamed and bled, I cried.

And on Monday, just three days from now, when I go back to work and leave Brooks behind, I’ll cry.

Because I am a mother.  And mothers cry.

Do I love it?

No.

I love him.

And as a friend recently asked the simple question, “How’s it going?”  I gave her my most honest answer.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it anyway…  While crying, probably.

——-

Brooks Daniel Veenstra

October 16, 2015, 3:09am – 6lbs, 7oz, 20in

 

 

You’ve probably heard the news by now…

Welcome back readers, if there are any left.  Yes it’s true I haven’t written in my blog since December, thank you for reminding me of that.  I’m not very good at this whole consistency thing.  It’s May…

I’ve been a little busy over the last few months.  If we’re Facebook friends or just friends in general (yes, there’s a difference) you have probably heard by now that I’m growing a human inside of me.  Yes, I’m pregnant!  And due in late October.  I found out in February and since then, my brain has been a little too occupied with the fact I’m going to be raising a child soon that I simply never sat down to write.

I’m going to be raising a child soon.  Did I just mention that?  A child.  A HUMAN.  Entrusted.  To me.  Where. Did. Life. Go?

Now that it’s out of the bag, I hope I can be more consistent in writing about my adventures of being pregnant and soon to be mom.  It’s already been quite an adventure for me, and mine and Adam’s lives are about to change forever.  Excited, nervous, overjoyed, feelings of inadequacy – just to name a few feelings I have consistently throughout my days.  It’s fun having so many different emotions on a daily basis… Nope, no it’s not. 

Life has already been different for me.  Things have already changed.  It’s true a woman may not exactly be a “mom” yet when she’s pregnant, but she sure does start sacrificing for her child well before it enters this world.

Funny, that reminds me of a Father I know…

As a Christian, I understand intellectually that God loves me.  I do.  But my issues over the years were feeling that in my heart.  Truly understanding the sacrifice God made for me to save my life in sacrificing His son.  I never “got it.”  I don’t have a child of my own, so how can I ever understand sacrificing one?

You know, God knows what he’s doing when it comes to the miracle of life.  It’s pretty amazing.  In just a few short months of being pregnant, I already cannot IMAGINE sacrificing this baby inside me.  I cannot tell you how much I am already in love.  I already wrote a lullaby I want to sing to him/her every night for crying out loud.

The very week we told our family and friends the exciting news, I had a scare that brought me to my knees, convinced I had lost the baby I just so joyously celebrated.  I’ve honestly never cried harder in my life.  And as I begged God to let nothing be wrong with this child, this feeling came over me that only God can give… as if He was asking, “Do you understand now?”

I do, Lord.  I do.  I’m a wreck at the possibility of losing a child I haven’t even met.  You sacrificed the one child you knew for all those who didn’t know YOU.  I am forever grateful.

Now if you could just do this one thing…

After an entire day at the doctor’s office, I came out of it exhausted, fragile, but thankful.  I heard my child’s heartbeat.  The baby was safe.  I on the other hand was told it was time to start sacrificing.  I had Placenta Praevia – a fancy term for saying my placenta was in the wrong place.  No more activity.  No exercise.  No going up and down stairs.  No lifting.  No traveling.  It’s pretty common and my doctor’s confident as my belly grows, it will move to its rightful place.  But if it decides not to move as I get late into the pregnancy, I will have to get quite comfortable with my bed, because that’s where I’ll be for the remainder.  If I do too much right now, miscarriage is the danger.  And if I do too much late in the pregnancy, hemorrhaging is the danger.  Um, yes, time to shut it down.

Sacrifice.  Really God?  Already?

I almost picture God snickering a bit.  Welcome to motherhood, Kar.  See you on the other side…

Thanks God.  You’re sweet!

So there’s already been change in my life.  Nothing will ever be the same.  I’m usually one to struggle immensely with anxiety, but for some strange reason, I haven’t.  I have been at peace in many ways.  Even as I’ve been discouraged not being able to do too much for myself lately, I’m learning more and more there is nothing better than sacrificing for something you love.  It is not and will never be on the level of what God did for us.  This is almost a silly example compared to that.  My goodness, though, I get it.  He loves us THAT much.  Sacrificial love is the highest kind of love.  And being pregnant has brought me closer to God.  In ways I never thought I’d be.

I guess it’s part of the miracle.  It’s part of becoming a mother.  A parent.  God allows us a small glimpse on this earth of what His love is like for us.  It’ll never compare, but a glimpse is all that’s needed to make us want more.

I want more.

I cannot and will not love this child more than God will…

But that won’t stop me from trying.

It is well.

When you awoke this morning, eyes blurred and arms stretched out, was your first thought for the day, “it is well?”  Sadly I’d say for many of us, it indeed was not.  It is not well.  I am not okay.  This is not the way life was supposed to be.  For many it’s just another day of surviving.

Have you ever driven at night during a horrible snow storm, in blizzard conditions?  The newscasters plead with us to stay off the roads because our visibility is compromised.  They’ll say there is “0% visibility out there tonight,” as in you won’t see within a foot in front of you.  Driving requires vision.  And when we don’t have it, it can be a frightening and fatal experience.  Luckily, more often than not in a big storm, we have the luxury of cooping up in our homes, allowing the world to require nothing of us for one day.  We are all in the same boat.

What happens, though, when the storm that comes is not in snow form?  When the storms take on the form of life’s everyday struggles: a death, an illness, an ending, a beginning…  These storms paralyze us just as much as the snow did, if not more, but this time the world around us is still passing by.  We have zero percent visibility in what’s next for our life, yet we’re still required to take a step.  And another step.  And another.

How do we walk when we can’t see where we’re going?

How do we guide a boat in an ocean that keeps bringing waves?

How do we move forward when the weight of the storm is causing us to sink?

The ocean can be a scary place.  It’s a beautiful creation of God, but it’s a creation not to be reckoned with.  And when you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean and a storm comes through, you can feel utterly alone and hopeless.  Life can be a scary place.  And when you’re on track in the middle of life and a storm comes through, you can feel utterly alone and hopeless.  The bad news is, if you’re alone, it can be fatal.

The good news is, you are not alone.

You are not alone in what you’re going through.  You are not alone in how you feel.  And most importantly you are not alone because you have a God who never forsakes you.

You have a God who, even in zero percent visibility, calls us to not predict our path, but to depend on His visible light.

You have a God who’s expert in calming storms.

So why are you still in one?

“The Lord is not as much intent on taking away the pain in your life as He is on teaching you to trust Him through it.” – Steven Furtick

Sometimes God calms the storm in our souls before he calms the storm of our circumstance.

The Bible shows us what happens when Jesus is in our storms.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?  God, where are you?  Don’t you love me?  Why would you let this happen to me?  Don’t you care?

This story clearly shows that Jesus was in the same storm the disciples were in.  He is with them.  But the difference is, Jesus was so calm during it all he was asleep, on a cushion no less.  Not a worry in the world.  Why?  What purpose would it serve us to have a God who panicked every time a storm came just as we do?  What does that accomplish?  Jesus was just as much in control while he was asleep as while he was awake.

Because even the wind and the waves obey Him…

So why don’t we trust Him?  Just like the disciples I think most of us know He’s there.  In the disciples case He was there, physically.  For us, we have to believe He’s there, and for the most part, we do.  But we don’t believe He cares.  He’s asleep.  He’s unavailable.  He’s going to let us drown.

But this story in the Gospel of Mark gives us hope.  Because even when we panic, Jesus does not.  Even when we’re scared, Jesus is calm.  Even when we’re drowning, Jesus is there.  He may awaken and calm the storm or He may not.  I can’t promise a better tomorrow just yet.  But I can promise, through Scripture, He is there.

And if He does wake up and He does calm the storm, He’s going to turn to us and ask, “Why are you so afraid?”

And our eyes will gaze upon Him with bewilderment, seeing the ever perfect God love on our imperfect selves, and our souls will cry out,

It is well.

“Why are you so afraid?”  It is well.

Jesus put us all on life rafts and went down with the ship.  Jesus died on a cross, so that we may live.

So why let us drown now?  It is well.

Why give up now?  It is well.

Why lose hope now?  It is well.

Jesus is with you.

Through it all…

Through it all…

It is well.

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Put the fancy dress away.

I’m sitting here in my pajamas, with sweatpants on with holes in the bottom.  My shirt is way too big.  My hair looks like I may have been electrocuted in the middle of the night.  My breath stinks because I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.  This is me.  On a Saturday morning.  In all my glory.  I love home.  Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where we can look and feel our ugliest, and truly embrace it.

Life is funny that way.  I may not look really good right now, nor feel that great about myself if I peeked in a mirror, but I would tell you this is when I am most comfortable with myself.  Whereas if I am out with friends, dressed nice, left the house feeling pretty good about how I looked when I took a final peek in the mirror, I’d tell you this is when I am most uncomfortable with myself.

Sometimes it’s when we strip down to nothing and see every flaw, every scar, every hole in the sweatpants, we see the unique and beautiful creation God intended us to be.  An original masterpiece.  We may not always like it, but at least it’s real.

Unless you peer into our living room windows every evening and see us for all our glory inside the privacy of our homes, we all tend to walk out of those doors looking prim and proper, showing the world just how beautiful we can be, with the right shoes, the right new outfit, the right make-up, the right car.  All of these are not bad things, but none of these help a bottom line that I think is so important in this life.

Our brokenness was never meant to be hidden.

This is a metaphor.  I’m not necessarily talking about material things here.  Although that can be another story for another day.  I’m talking about the masks we put on our faces every time we show ourselves to others.  The one that hides the fact that you’ve been struggling with your faith for years now and instead of talking to someone about it you go on pretending to love God.  The one that hides the fact that you’ve struggled with pornography so much so that it’s tearing apart your marriage.  The one that hides the fact that your occasional drug use is becoming the addiction you never thought it would.  The one that hides the fact your depression and anxiety is pushing you to do and think unimaginable harm to yourself.  The one that hides the fact that instead of being open and honest about how much you’re hurting after losing someone you love or seeing someone you love suffer through illness, you pretend you’re so okay with it that no one even sees how much it’s killing you.

Why are we so afraid to show each other the pair of holed sweatpants we all own?  Why do we insist on presenting ourselves to others so perfectly that there’s no room for error?

I think it’s a direct correlation in our relationships with God.  This is how we try and present ourselves to Him.  Everyday.  Unless we’re prim and proper and good and well, we can’t approach God.  Otherwise, He won’t love us.  We won’t be good enough.  So we take this with us in our relationships with others.  And what happens?  We falter.  We grow weary.  We find ourselves sitting in our living rooms stripped to nothing, scars and all, curled up on the couch hiding, hoping no one knocks on the door to come in.  Because this is who we are and we’re not going to let anyone else see us.

The problem with that is God sees us.  And it’s exactly how He wants to see us.

And we don’t have to be afraid of this fact.

Because our brokenness was never meant to be hidden.  Especially from God.

God has been waiting for you to let him into your living room so He can meet you in your brokenness.  Because He’s the only One that can restore it.  He knows every scar, every pain, every hurt, every hole you have in your clothes; the ones from your past, the ones in your present and the ones you don’t yet have.  He loves you in your living room because He created you that way.  That’s the beauty of artwork.  People have opinions.  Some may like it more than others.  But to the artist it doesn’t matter.  It’s his.  And when something is your own creation, you love it.

But now, Oh Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

God is saddened when we continue to try and present ourselves  holier than thou to Him.  When we give Him a list of why we think we’re good enough to earn our salvation.  When we do this, we are giving no value to Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the Cross.  What God wants is us.  To come as we are.  Beautiful and broken in His eyes.  He wants us to show Him our scars, just as Jesus showed His.  Because God wants to use us.

“God uses broken things.  It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.  It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.  It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” – Vance Havner

The secret comfort I feel when I sit here in my holed sweatpants and baggy t-shirt and bad breath?  It’s because this is who I am.  I have a mole on my arm I’ve always hated.  I have scars on my stomach from a surgery I wish I never had.  I have migraine headaches that cause me to want to rip my head off and find a new one.  I have emotional baggage that has caused me to be pessimistic and joyless too many times.  Did I mention I have sweatpants on with holes in them?  The list goes on.  And I can take this list and I can present it to God, because when we come to Him vulnerable and scarred, what we get is true transformation.  What we get is a new self.  He restores our souls.  We give God full permission to use us in ways we never thought possible.  But unless we allow ourselves to strip down to nothing, in all our glory, and realize presenting ourselves as perfect before God is actually robbing us of a perfect relationship with God, we’ll never experience God the way we were intended to.  In all of HIS Glory.

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. (Jeremiah 18:3)

Open the door.  Let God in.  And put the fancy dress away.  There’s no use for that near a potter’s wheel anyway.  Your sweatpants will do just fine.