I Love a Poopy Diaper

My husband and I laugh at the things we become excited about these days when it comes to parenting. Chloe keeps us on our toes and is so fun. We love to tell each other when she finally poops or when she has a good, long 3 hour nap. We love buying a new case of paper towels because we go through them so much cleaning up her messes. We love seeing Chloe jump into the pool finally. It makes us so happy to know she is a water girl. All of the small things truly do add-up when it comes to parenting. It’s the ‘small’, sweet moments of growing alongside her and experiencing life together which brings us to our knees. I think Jesus knew this when He said to let the little children come to Him. He loved caring for them. They are precious in His sight.

My heart aches for those who have not been able to experience parenthood yet. I can’t imagine the feeling of waiting each day for good news or some sort of encouragement a child would be on the way soon. I speak to so many women specifically who LONG for marriage and to be mothers. To do family. The waiting is incredibly HARD for some. The unknown can be emotionally too much. And yet, this good desire never fades…

I thought about writing this blog yesterday because I am three weeks away from my due date and I have a feeling writing will be on the back-burner for a bit until I adjust to being a mom of two. We are expecting our second girl (Peyton Grace) and simply can’t wait to meet her. I am even more excited for Chloe to have a sister. There is something sweet and special about having siblings. I have loved having four wonderful siblings and friends.

So, Chloe just turned two years old and is not quite potty-trained yet…which is fine…but I’m interested to see how we will navigate two children in diapers for a bit! My husband is not a fan of changing diapers (totally normal and don’t blame him)…but can I share a secret? I kind of like -no… LOVE changing diapers! Especially big poopy ones!?!?!?!

I don’t know what it is, but I THINK it may be the idea of knowing my sweet little one(s) is running around or crawling or just sitting in a swing with something gross on their bottom- and I am the ONE who gets to clean them up! Fresh and new. Clean and shiny.

It’s something they can’t clean-up themselves. It’s something they may be a little embarrassed about? It’s something they might just do and then smile at me oblivious to the fact that it has shot up their back and made a huge mess….and I get to fix it for them. I can clean them up, sing them a song or give them special attention for a few minutes, kiss their head and send them on their way….I get to be mom.

I love a good, poopy diaper.

Isn’t this similar to how we are with Jesus? We come to Him with our messes….some we are oblivious to and some we are completely aware of and He just says, “It’s okay”…cleans us up, loves us, and sends us on our way until the next time. No judgement, no holding onto our sin. He wipes us clean.

I know this is probably a stinky analogy, but it really is quite true!

Changing Chloe’s diapers the past two years has softened me and given me SO many moments to love her well, take care of her, be her mommy- and I LOVE IT.

I love a good, poopy diaper 🙂

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Finding REST

Lately our home has felt busier than ever because we are moving in a month or so down the road a bit. We are slowly trying to pack-up our things alongside working and coordinating schedules, so that Chloe is being watched and dinner is on the table each night. Somehow we still find time to get some exercise when we can because we both need it mentally (and it’s certainly helpful when NC is warm in February…thank you Jesus),  plan a date night here and there (or at least time to decompress and watch a show together), see family and friends, go to church, serve, and make all the other little errands happen- life is just BUSY! We do love the juggling though. It’s a constant dance together and we feel blessed to have each day. On a sad note, our sweet dog is failing more and more lately. Watching Stitch (or Stitchems as we call him) has actually been harder than I thought. His sweet brown eyes are just in a daze mostly. Today, he ate a crayon? He’s never done something like that before? Sigh. It’s just getting closer to “that time” unfortunately and we dread it. He adds to our plates because he needs a bit more attention and patience…poor buddy.

Last night, I put Chloe down to sleep and Dustin was working on the computer. I had a sudden moment of, “Ooo! I might sneak into bed and read a bit BY MYSELF!” I felt like I was sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar. To have a few moments of stillness to get lost in my “fun” book sounded so nice. Usually I’m in ten different psychology books for counseling. Currently however, I’m in the middle of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “Uninvited” which my small group is doing together on Friday mornings. It takes me a few minutes to settle-in and hear her heart or try to understand how she has dealt with rejection in her own life. Then, I think about my own life. Where have I been hurt? How did this affect me? I need to assess the damage because it’s there.

I only read a chapter last night, but each portion I read I feel energized by. I take away more than her words on feeling hurt – I take away twenty minutes of REST. Twenty minutes to connect alone with God and breathe-in His love. Twenty minutes to remember who I am in Him despite the rejections and pain I have faced. Lysa uses a good amount of Scripture in her writing which I love because it always turns back to truth. Personally I need to see the application from the Bible and how I can relate it to me…or possibly encourage someone else.

I have to admit I struggle at being consistent in my quiet times with God. Why? I feel SO much better after I do? I feel so much more at peace. I feel grounded and able to take-on whatever is to come. I know spending time with God nourishes the deepest parts of my soul and reconnects my brain to truthful thoughts. I so often find myself going to a negative place in my mind- especially when things are tough. But when I hear from Him, my thoughts and longings move towards a God who captivates me in every way. He reminds me I am:

Loved – more than I can imagine and in every way…

Chosen – before I was born, He knew my name…I am HIS always

Valuable – He sees me, hears me and says I matter…

Accepted – I am a part of His family…I have a place with Him forever, faults and all…

In my weekly routine of being busy, God whispers truths loudly to me. In the hard times and good, I can hold onto His promises and REST in His love. My anxiety lessens and my frustration is calmed because of Him. I can “let go and let God”…

When I remain close to my Heavenly Father – when spend time in His Word- I find REST and I never want to leave that place.

I don’t know where you are in life? Maybe you are dealing with something really big. A loss, rejection, loneliness, confusion or betrayal….maybe you have financial pressure or are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop? Maybe your kids are driving you bananas or you’re angry at your church? It’s possible you are busy like me and don’t notice the need for Jesus every moment until LIFE actually happens? Maybe you don’t know about this whole “Christian” thing and are trying to figure it out? The point is we are ALL dealing with something and each of our stories are important to God whether we are honest about them or not. No life is pain-free.

Whatever the case may be, I hope and pray that you might your REST in His love. I pray you know that You are incredibly LOVED by Jesus. And I pray these words in any and every way bring a calmness to your situation or the situations to come…you can find REST in Him.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.”

-Psalm 4:8

Come to Me…

I feel like I talk about my loved ones often. We were made for relationships and those we call family are even more special. I love how God designed the family-system. It is intentional and purposeful in glorifying God’s love and so many good characteristics about Him- strength, steadfastness, peacefulness, security…family really does matter. My heart aches for children who are living in orphanages or are waiting to be adopted as they go from foster home to foster home. I simply can’t fathom what a child must feel to not have a family. It’s thoughts about this which make me look to Heaven and ask God to remind me that my prayers for these children DO matter…I CAN do something…

Recently, our Chloe bear, or as I have been calling her “stink-a-poo” (I have NO idea where I got that name)…has slowly been entering into the “tantrum stage”. Ugh. Here we go.

I have to say the first time she had a real tantrum it caught  me off guard and I know my face looked like I had seen a ghost. Who was this child? Chloe is SO easy-going and super happy, so it was a shock for me to see her break-down, stomp a foot, say “NO” very loudly, cry, pull something off a store shelf and shake her head like I was the one who did something to offend her….? I was a bit embarrassed if I’m honest!

Fast-forward a few tantrums later…

Chloe had gotten a cold and one night could not sleep. Poor thing would wake-up every two hours crying. Dustin had gotten home at midnight and walked upstairs to witness the emotional break-down she was having. WE. TRIED. EVERYTHING. She would not let us hold her, rock her, she wouldn’t watch a show (which had always worked before), no lollipop, no popsicle, no juice…NOTHING. As I tried to move towards her to comfort her she would get even more mad and stomp her feet. Tears rolled down her face and I could feel myself becoming angry (mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to make things better for her. I felt powerless). I had to counsel myself a bit in this moment lol. Dustin always stays calm. I should probably take notes from watching him.

Something I have practiced in therapy when counseling kids, adolescents, teens and even adults is this truth which I very much believe in:

“Everyone at some point has and/or expresses negative feelings, but that is not who we ARE…0ur identity is far much more valuable and it is be found in God alone.” 

I know Chloe wasn’t trying to be a pain. Her behavior wasn’t great, but that is not who she is. She was upset and was struggling to calm-down. Her emotional side of the brain had taken-over at this point and any bit of logic was gone. Even as an adult I can recall times where I’ve felt this way. I have certainly let my emotions take over- anger on the road, tears because I was feeling overly-sensitive, stubborn because I didn’t get my way so I pout…

I love Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In context we see at the end it says, “…you will find rest for your souls.” 

What a beautiful picture of God’s love. Even when we are upset or angry we can rest our souls…our deepest part in Him. Whether we over-react because we are human or just feel broken, we can come to God and find rest. Why? Because He gets it. He gets it ALL. He is only One who truly understands our EVERY single pain. He walks alongside us when we need Him and holds us when we need to be held. Through it all, He doesn’t judge us or criticize our actions. He simple says something like this: “You are my child, I love you and it’s going to be okay. Just come to Me.”

Chloe bear. She is such a snuggle-bug! So to finish the story…Chloe had this “episode” for about ten minutes and for some reason ran into her room, in the dark and just stood there crying? We didn’t know what she was doing or what we should do at this point and then, I remembered what I talk about so often in counseling and I thought of the Scripture in Matthew.

So I went into her room and sat in the dark, in her rocker close-by. I looked at her with love and compassion and didn’t reach for her or talk to her. I just sat there and let her cry. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t going to abandon her. Even at her “worst” I was there and it was okay that she was upset. I patiently prayed in my head for God to calm her little heart and then I felt a nudge to just say, “shhhh…..shhhh…” over and over, softly and soothingly. I kept looking at her because again I wanted her to know I was there, she mattered, and when we she was ready I would hold her. I will never give up on her.

Within a few minutes she RAN to me and lifted her arms up to be held. I pulled her in close, grabbing “mummy” (her bunny blanket) and rocked her in the dark. Before she almost immediately fell asleep, I said to her while stroking her hair:

“I’m sorry you’re sad and not feeling well. I’m sorry it became too much. I know you don’t like feeling this way and you just want to sleep. Mommy and daddy love you.”

Empathy, empathy, empathy…the best medicine for a hurting, broken heart. No fixing. Just being.

Honestly, I was SO tired that night. But looking back, I know God was teaching me something through my baby girl.

Never will our God leave us and never will He say we are too much. He gets it. We are never alone…

“Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…”

Choosing Thankfulness

My husband and I go to a fairly large church…a mega-church as some call them. We’ve been attending together for about six years now and feel such a close connection with the families. We love seeing folks on Sundays and how church feels like home. Some Sundays I don’t want to leave! Recently, I have noticed more and more new attendees (or new to me) and have wanted to get to know them, but it can be so hard to connect with everyone. I think this is why serving at church and/or joining a small group is so important. You really need moments to “connect” and build these friendships with family in Christ.

Since having had our daughter Chloe, who is now 19 months, and knowing we have another baby on the way, we see the value of having these types of people around them also. Children need a “tribe” of folks who love Jesus other than family. A group of people who love them and are REAL. It’s healthy to be a part of a praying community whom encourages each other to look to Jesus.

Recently I talked to a lady at church whom I’ve known a long time and she is just going through a lot to be honest. My heart broke for her as she shared how much she has had to sacrifice (with a heart that wants to of course), so that she could take care of her family. She has support and she loves Jesus, so truthfully, I know she will be okay, but her words and tears made me feel a bit selfish. Her words made me take a step-back.

Do I really CHOOSE thankfulness or do I just take it because it’s how my life is going…if I am honest, MOST of the time? 

I think it’s easy to be thankful- to notice how good God has been and feel at peace. But when I go through trials and even in the good moments, do I really consciously STOP and praise God? I want to. I am aware of my need to be more intentional in speaking thankfulness and showing God through my time and resources…but I know I’m not there yet. It’s easy to buy a gift for another family by taking an angel card off of the Christmas tree- and that’s a really good thing, yes- but do I intentionally catch myself during my busy week, stopping to thank God for who He is and what He has done and continues to do?

I was convicted after speaking to this friend and as I sit in my comfortable office with the heat on, listening to Christmas music and drinking a diet coke…I recognize how blessed I REALLY AM. Do I really understand and will I ever truly comprehend the fact that Jesus was born in a manger for me, that He died for me and has given me eternal life? I don’t think anyone can really fully understand this scarifice. I know I take it for granted.

So today my prayer goes something like this below. I know God isn’t upset with me, but I am truly grateful He is so patient-loving!

“Lord, forgive me for not taking the time to stop and truly thank You. For what you did and what you continue to do in my life and the lives of others…God you are so good. You never fail. Father, I pray I would be more intentional about stopping…to be still and KNOW that you are God. What an indescribable gift and promise. May it spur me on to love others WELL as You do and live my life according to You. I love you, Amen.”

The Dance

Relationships can be hard. Some more than others. With each person we find ourselves moving to a different dance and doing our best to follow the steps, but recognizing we might step on toes or not know the way everytime?  There is grace (hopefully) as we learn and grow together, but sometimes this is not always the case. Sometimes we must leave the dance and realize we gave it our best shot. When we feel hurt too often we choose to end the dance. We can watch the person dance with others from afar or we can cut ties completely. Ending a dance entirely is not a bad thing either. Sometimes “releasing” another individual is the best way to show them we care for them and ourselves.

So how do we handle the more difficult dances? The confusing ones we don’t understand? Often we find these relationships at work or in our extended families…with our neighbors or possibly at our children’s sports team events. These are the relationships we can’t truly avoid and we awkwardly tip toe or stomp around these people each time we see them. We admit we can’t be ourselves around these folks and often times don’t know what to do except hide and grumble or hold our heads up high, pridefully.

In marriage, our dance may be difficult when we go through hard times like when finances are tight. We each try to lead the relationship or control which way to turn. Both partners are left feeling frustrated and stubborn and ultimately hurt that they feel misheard. The dance was so fun at first? What happened?

Difficult dances are not a bad thing. They challenge our character and remind us of our brokenness in this chaotic world. They help us to reflect and take into consideration the things we may need to work on personally. Negative emotions may surface like frustration or anger -which is okay. We are each human. The problem is when we decide to stay in this emotion and give-up. The issue becomes when we never truly reflect on our own self and ask questions like, “Where can I take responsibility in the dance?” or “When did I move and should have waited or not moved at all?” Self-reflection is crucial in relationships and forgiveness should be the goal (and just a reminder, forgiveness does not mean forgetting).

Relationships each move in a different way because we are each different. God made us this way. In Psalm 139:13 it says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Every single piece of you and I was made intentionally- with love and ownership. God knew you before you were even concieved because He is your Creator. Your greatest love. He is crazy about you. In this love, He also gave you free will. The ability to make choices and honor Him in those decisions. He helps us along the way if we are vulnerable enough to see our need for Him. He also is patient-loving and waits on our return to Him when we don’t let Him in…this pains His heart. Like a shepherd and his sheep (Jn 10:11). Like a loving Father, He protects.

The world is full of unique individuals of all groups and backgrounds and two things remain the same for us all:

-God is our Creator

-God loves us all

As we enter into our dances with one another, some intimate and some more surface-like, we find ourselves looking to a God who is perfect and who authored THE dance. The original dance with the best leader. The dance that reminds us of our need for Him. The dance which reveals His goodness, hope and heart for His children. It’s fun and inviting, warm and safe.

The more we dance with our Creator, the better we dance with others…and the better we dance with others, the better this world will be. 

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.…

-Psalm 149: 2-4

 

Dealing with Your “Stuff”

Dealing with your “stuff”. Yes, we ALL have it. I remember a point in my life when I thought to myself, “Huh. I’ve got some stuff to work through, don’t I Lord?” It was no one’s fault and not even really my own to some degree, but it was obvious I was struggling with various things and they were becoming patterns more than seasons in my life. They weren’t life-altering if I’m completely honest, but my intuition (really the Holy Spirit) was nudging me to start working towards uncovering some pain…

Now, we are each responsible for our own sin according to Galatians 6, so I did take full responsibility for my choices – particularly emotionally. My pastor once said if something in your marriage, for example, is a continual pattern instead of a season, then it’s likely you might need some additional help – objective help from a seasoned pastor, mentor or therapist. I think he’s right and I can personally identify!

I love this idea of patterns for many reasons. A pattern means: 

*feeling trapped in some way

*negative emotions and thoughts that seem to resurface each time

*pain being projected on others- hurt people, hurt people

*an inabililty to find freedom/peace in a certain area

*a continually awareness that something is “off”

*choosing to neglect opportunities of receiving help

*becoming angry if you are confronted about something sensitive or personal

*receiving information and experiences and failing to release them and move-on

*additional unhealthy choices spreading from a root issue

It seems like this list is long, but if you think about something you have been struggling with in your life recently, you may be able to identify with some of these descriptions…maybe even all of them?

So what’s the big deal? I feel like at some point we have a choice. A choice to grow or a choice to ignore the deeper issue and tell ourselves it’s not a big deal. We may even come to believe the lie that since we didn’t “cause” the pain we experienced, then we are powerless to do anything about it? What’s the point, right? It only resurfaces pain we don’t want to deal with and certainly do not want to experience again…

But what if Jesus treated us this way? What if He said, “Eh, we’ve been over this a thousand times and I just can’t face this pain anymore with you. It always turns into an argument or you feeling hurt.”

Eek! Scary to think about. Thankfully He’s crazy in love with you and I! Jesus won’t stop pursuing you and your pain – because He wants to heal it.

We all have a past and hurts. Often times, the hurt we are projecting on others or possibly ourselves is due to something that happened long ago. Maybe your parents divorced at age 2. Maybe you lost a pet and never really grieved him? Maybe you were sexually abused and it happened so quickly that you never dealt with it because it was a “small incident”. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a friend or were fired from a job during a difficult time financially? Maybe you were once overweight and still struggle with insecurity?

The point is again, we all have pain and we all have “stuff” to deal with. Sometimes simply talking about it with a safe person helps us to mourn our losses and allow God to move-in and remind us that He GETS it. He’s been there- remember? At the cross? He understands our pains and He is the only one that can fill those holes…but we have to be willing to face that pain. Pushing it under the rug only gives Satan the opportunity to remind us of the hurt that has never really healed and our feelings don’t really matter. LIE!

What does the Bible say about our “stuff”?

*be renewed in Christ continually (Colossians 3:10/ 2 Cor 4:16)

*be attuned to the Holy Spirit’s prompting (John 14:26)

*do not be held in bondage (John 8:36)

*bad fruit should be recognized and cut-off (John 15:2)

*take responsibility for your sins (Galatians 6)

*forgive as God has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13) (p.s. that also means forgiving yourself)

How can we commit to this?

I like simple, baby steps:

  1. Spend time with God. Journal. Open up to Him and share where you are?
  2. Write your losses in life down – what’s been painful or hard?
  3. Write down the patterns you see – any common themes?
  4. Share with a trusted friend or mentor
  5. What have these losses meant to you?
  6. Find a good therapist or a mentor to help your sort through/get to the root of your stuff…

Deal with your stuff! You’ll be so thankful you did…

He is our Peace,

Ashley

When You Feel DONE. — ashley wright, therapist

Do you ever get to “that point” where you are just DONE? I know I’ve been there multiple times. Whether it was because I hadn’t had a vacation from work in months or I was feeling worn-out from trying to mend a relationship that just wasn’t working, the energy emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually invested […]

via When You Feel DONE. — ashley wright, therapist