Thing have been and will continue to be quiet around here out of respect for what’s happening in #Ferguson. The longer the violence drags on, the deeper my heart sinks. I don’t have a lot of wisdom on the subject, but I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts while I’m hot and bothered.
I want to be known for listening more than I talk. This means I’m watching, reading, and soaking up pretty much everything you send my way about race in America. I know this goes far beyond a shooting and police work. I’ve spent the last several years coming to terms with my white privilege, filtering things through a new worldview, and making amends with people I probably failed as a young woman.
Feelings are real. Therefore, feelings are facts. Whether you’re a wounded person of color or a wounded member of law enforcement or a wounded person of privilege or a combination of those things, I’m here. If you’re angry, if you’re hurt, I want you to know that I see you. I hear you. I’m listening. And I’m on your team.
I love my country and its people too much to let this go. I love truth and justice too much to wait this out. Regardless of where we stand and where the fallout lies, we cannot look away from this. We cannot turn our children’s faces from it. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, if you’re a walking, breathing extension of the Church, your voice is especially powerful right now. So I’m speaking up to say that I’m listening. And that I’m not looking away.
I sent a message out to my Influence teams a few weeks ago, on a morning I felt especially weary. As I typed, I felt the Lord give me the mom smile. You know… that sweet, I’ve-been-telling-you-the-same-thing-but-you-had-to-learn-it-yourself smile? That one. He wanted me to soak my own words in. They were meant for me just as much as they were for my women. So I saved them in a journal, and they found their way out again today.
Sometimes the Lord places something in your heart and you save it for later. Sometimes you save it so long, it never happens. And sometimes, the Lord places something in your heart and you birth it. You quit your job and you birth it.
Can we all just celebrate Hayley and Mike for a minute today? It’s not about them, I know. This is Jesus at work. But still, the glory is His, and the sweat is theirs. The Morgans said yes. They didn’t save this dream or keep it quiet.
It makes something swell up in you a little bit, doesn’t it? Good. You should go for it, too.
I once took care of a man who was trying to die. Sometimes, the dying patients are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy about surgeries. Give me an otherwise healthy person who needs a little fix-up, and I’m in heaven. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, either. I don’t need the emergencies and the near-death stuff to make me come alive. I’m just as excited when people pass gas for the first time after an operation.
But every now and then, I get to take care of a man or a woman who’s at the end, someone who’s lived a full life and is ready to let go. If you’ve never been around an actively dying person, let me tell you something about it. It is a sacred, holy experience. Even if you aren’t a spiritual person, you’ll be one for a few minutes when you’re standing next to someone who’s literally about to breathe their last.
During the last several decades in this country, we’ve slowly forgotten how to let people die. We love medicine and we fear death. I heard it best described recently as “predatory.” We view the end as predatory, something dark that’s coming for us, something that needs to be beaten and overcome. Regardless of your views on death and what happens afterwards, it’s unavoidable. It happens to each and every one of us, and it’s not something to be feared or ignored. I’ve learned the beauty of the dying process over the last few years of my career, and I’ve had the privilege of helping a few family members see the beauty in it as well.
So back to the man who was trying to die. I can’t even remember his diagnosis, but I remember it was only slightly sudden. His wife had been dealing it for a few months, and she knew it wasn’t curable. Nonetheless, she doted and prodded and made big plans for his recovery. As he began to fade throughout my shift, she began to push harder. Let’s sit up and eat. Do you want me to call so-and-so for you? They’d love to hear from you. I can’t wait until we get you out of here. Take another bite. Wake up. Don’t sleep all day. Look at me.
He grew less responsive as the day wore on, and she grew more determined. The more agitated and restless he became, the more she paced and talked to him. After several hours, she asked me if I thought she should leave to check out nursing homes for him. She said she wanted to be prepared for the next step of his rehabilitation. We see this a lot, when people aren’t sure what to do with their grief. She asked one of the most loaded questions ever fired at a nurse. What would you do? I took a deep breath. I closed the door behind me and sat down next to her. I put my arm around her shoulders and I pointed at him.
I need you to look at him. Do you see how tired he is? Let him be tired. Be here with him.
The patient immediately settled down, bowing his head ever so slightly. It was almost as if he agreed with me, that someone what finally shooting it straight with his beloved. I pushed on to describe a bit of what she could expect to happen as her soulmate headed into his last few hours. How long do you think he has? Her eyes filled up with tears, and mine soon followed.
Not long. He’s been telling us all day. I think it’s time for you to just hold his hand. Just be tired with him.
I left them alone then but she called me into the room thirty minutes later, to confirm what she already knew. Her husband was gone. She smiled through her tears and gave me a tight squeeze. Thank you for what you did.
I wrote this story down so I wouldn’t forget that patient or his wife, but the truth is my job is full of these accounts. What a powerful place to be at work… walking into the dark, holding hands, and turning faces towards the light. And I chose this one to share because that day, those words taught me something. For a woman who is always on the move, who pushes to see progress, who tends to bulldoze her husband, I want to be a woman unafraid to someday just be tired with him.
I listened to this story on the way to work one morning and was moved. Isn’t this the way to communicate through conflict and experience growth in most areas of life? We could all do with a little less armor.
Several gardening books and small farm guides are en route to my house, thanks to this neat article on Mother Earth News‘ 2014 Homesteaders of the Year.
I watched this video at church, surrounded by middle and high school students, and promptly burst into tears. Women’s bodies are absolutely amazing.
Try to watch this without smiling. As someone who’s been accused of having no sense of humor, this guy did the trick for me.
You know the topic of postpartum depression is near and dear to my heart, and Katherine is a champion for it. CNN recently did a piece on her work and I couldn’t be more excited for what her voice is doing.
I’m over on the Influence blog today, sharing a bit of my heart for our conference this September. Several of my “real-life” friends, and countless others online, have approached me in the past on this topic. I don’t blog. I’m about to quit blogging. I don’t know how to grow my blog. I’m not really into the business side of the Internet. Is the Influence Conference still for me?
Several of you have asked for an update to this post and this one, and I figured Hadassah Lee’s turning one just might call for one. I’m grateful for you women who have spoken up and made sharing this piece of my story absolutely worth it.
I wept a lot as her birthday neared. I felt a frustration rise up, a sort of indignation, when people asked me why I was sad about my baby turning one. She’s it, y’all. She’s the last. And she’s the first baby I’ve ever looked at with confidence. Staring at her face got me through a lot of hard days and sleepless nights. I can do this. I’m doing this. I’m having a good time doing this.
I haven’t shared a lot of the daily dirt on my postpartum struggles, mostly because it sounds like a lot of defensive babbling. I still stand by my claim that I never suffered from depression. To this day, I haven’t felt anything remotely like hopelessness or despair. I’ve been there before, and I remember what it felt like. But this was different than that. Different from the baby blues, too. This was like, anxiety on steroids. Rage that made me feel other-worldly. Never in my life have I felt so out of control as I did during those long weeks last winter. There was a lot of calm calm BOOM happening. I’d go from folding laundry to slamming a door and screaming into my pillow. I found it difficult to enjoy my family, difficult to enjoy being home at all. I felt like a stranger, like something was wrong with me. Everyone else in my house seemed to know the secret recipe for contentment. Meanwhile, I was running sweaty, panicky laps around the house trying to find it. I saw a counselor a few times, which helped. I gave in to the joy when it overtook me, which helped too.
But what helped even more? I dug in. I didn’t run from it, or smile it away, or convince myself that it would pass. I didn’t even fully understand what it was, but I knew I had to deal with it head-on. There is no muscling our way out of seasons like these. So I quit fighting and I sat down. I dug in.
I dug into the Word. I read verses that spoke of hope and eternal perspective, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my marriage. I reached out to my husband each time I felt myself slipping into a rage. He asked good questions and volunteered sound advice, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my role as a mother, as shaky as it felt. I frenzy-cleaned less and snuggled more, and I tried to celebrate the chaos. I allowed myself to love them with the little oomph I had left, and the fog began to clear.
Things are still hazy around here. I’m not “back to normal” by a long shot. But I’m not sure there is some old version of normal to which I need to aspire. Because those things I listed above? Apparently, they’re all part of what we call healthy living. So maybe it’s time to sit down and dig in, on the regular.
We’ve been a little bit outdoors-focused since the weather turned warm, and it’s been fun to watch the progress. Each week, we high-five each other at the realization that nothing has died yet. I recently hauled home nearly twenty bags of mulch to spread around our front porch.
As I prefer most things, I like to keep the area nice and tidy. It’s dark, eye-catching, and fluffy. And of course, I want it to stay that way. After a good summer rain does its best to carry my mulch to the neighbors, my husband faithfully treks outside to rake the runaway stuff back into place. Every single time, without me asking. And I have to admit sometimes I wonder, what’s the point?
Does it really matter, for things to look a certain way all of the time? Does my desire for order and tidiness suggest that I am petty, or prideful? I know I’ve touched on this before. Why does the “messy house, happy home” thing bother me so much?
In the book of Hebrews, the author writes of a heavenly kingdom that we Christians are always building. As followers of Jesus, we believe that the projects we attempt in this world, large or small, are just flecks. They’re tiny dots on the architectural plans that we’re building in eternity.
This message is a huge one, full of hope and inspiration. Set your eyes heavenward, and don’t be distracted by what you see around you. Don’t compare yourself to all of the women online, and the women with whom you do life on a regular basis. Don’t feel discouraged by the women who seem to be doing it better, with more tidiness and prettier photos and fancier jobs and better-behaved kids. You’re doing kingdom work. Eternal, heavenly work.
But. Y’all? The mulch matters, too. What I want, for my home and my family and my life’s future, it matters. I’m not saying all of these dreams and goals will come to fruition, but God made me this way and He loves to see his kids happy. Mulch in my yard, in just the right way? It makes me happy. I know I must be careful on such a road, one that could quickly turn to pride. But at the same time, I just can’t believe that there is something wrong with wanting a tidy life. My mulch might might just a fleck, but it matters. I’m not afraid to fight to maintain a sense of self, but I’m not afraid to get messy while I figure it out, either. Because He’s in the tidiness, and He’s in the messes too.
A few days ago, I posted a photo of the twins in their undies. They were coloring on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen after church, while I planned meals and made a grocery list. One of them bent down to try on my discarded shoes, when she noticed her sister had a sticker in her hair. I snapped a photo as I smiled at the two of them working together, a cooperation which promptly ended as one of them discovered it was fun to pull more than the just the sticker.
A few hours and sweet comments after I posted it, I received an email that it had been removed. I’ve seen this happening all over Instagram as of late, so when I figured out which photo it was, I wasn’t super surprised. I’m not convinced that the bare top half of a toddler is nudity, but I’m also not going to crusade for the right to post such photos of my children on such a platform. I have to be honest and say that I just don’t feel that strongly either way about it. I’ve also heard that there isn’t a team of people monitoring content on Instagram. Apparently, it’s more of a system mechanism that removes photos and deactivates accounts automatically based on users reporting them. If this is all in the name of protection, I understand. But the concept of protection carries a lot of vague weight, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t wrestled with it.
I felt a little discouraged as I put my phone down that night. Would it have been different if my daughters had been in bathing suits? Or if they had been boys? Why are people using phrases like “exploiting” and “exposing?” Am I really putting my children at risk, clothed or unclothed, by talking about them on the Internet? What about this idea that our children are a social experiment, with a comparison of online moms to celebrity moms? And what about audience? Does it matter how many followers we have, or what kind of privacy settings we place on our accounts? Predators who want nude photos of children have full access to it outside of Instagram, as much as it pains me to type it. And these questions extend far beyond the World Wide Web. While the Internet is relatively new, protecting children from shame and over-sharing is not. There have always been photographs flashed, stories shared, pageants entered, slideshows broadcast. So what does this look like in 2014?
Because I’ve been on the Internet longer than I’ve been a mom, I’ve just been learning as I go. Isn’t that what parenting life is, anyway? I think I keep a pretty tight filter on the things I post when it comes to my kids. I want to provide an online presence that my children can look back on fondly. I don’t dish details or stories that will embarrass them. In fact, I rarely even give names when sharing. I check in frequently with my stepsons regarding social media and even show them each photo before I post it, to make sure they’re okay with it. I want photos and tweets and blog posts that empower my family, both now and in the future.
I’m a mommy blogger by default, because I write and I have children. I don’t have a business, and I’m not fashionable or creative enough to inspire people with lifestyle posts. I can’t escape the mommy blogger label, and that’s okay. But I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t do this motherhood thing perfectly; and that’s exactly why I’m staying here. The gray is where I almost always plant my flag, and this topic isn’t any different. I want to share, but I want to learn even more. I want to stay tender to change and open to dialogue. So to each one of you who has already or will share your heart with me on this in the future, I thank you. I’m glad we’re in this together.