All Things Thursday

Why Is It So Hard?

so hardWe were watching a movie where a couple brought home their second baby. In absolutely exhaustion the wife cries and says

“why doesn’t anyone tell you this is going to be so hard?”

The husband replies, “I think they do, but you’re just not listening, or you don’t believe them.”

When we found out we were pregnant for the first time, anything I was told about the challenges seemed covered over by a romantic hue of baby infatuation.

20 months later, and I still am completely overwhelmed at times by just how hard this parenting job is. Maybe it’s entering into my third trimester that has me sensitive. Every situation that happens with my son, I  ask myself how I’d handle it with two kids.

Then I freak myself right out, because I don’t have an answer.

I  didn’t know how much kids got sick, or how isolated you feel when sickness won’t leave, a huge dump of snow comes, followed by a -40 windchill warning.

I didn’t know the depth of loneliness that comes in those times of not making it to church, mom’s group, play dates, or even a date with my husband.

I didn’t know the conflicting emotion that would come from holding your sick baby. I could be so angry at a cough, and so frustrated with a fever, and so overcome with compassion and love for the sniffling kid in the same moment.

I have learned through having one baby that you do figure a lot out as you go. The mountains that seem so big, quickly dissolve when you start sleeping longer than two or three hours at a time.

And the truth is, it is hard because it is hard.

Parenting is going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to follow through on. It’s the hardest thing that I can’t, won’t and don’t ever want to escape. It’s the most exhausting, frustrating and rewarding task I have ever undertaken. It holds the most cliché emotions, and sometimes you wonder if you actually are bi-polar, or schizophrenic or something because why else do I feel SO OUT OF MY MIND RIGHT NOW?

But it’s when I get to this point, that the Lord usually comes through with something big. Like something that really shapes my character, deepens my influence, and rocks my heart.

He said this to me:

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”

Psalm 9:10

HE WILL NOT ABANDON ME!

Ever.

Not even for a minute.

In the middle of the night when my sick baby is coughing uncontrollably, he’s still there.

When I crawl back into bed, and my unborn baby is flipping out inside me because of all the screaming, and I can’t fall asleep. He’s still there.

It seems so simple, but have you ever got to the point where you need to know God is with you so desperately, that when he tells you he is there always, and that he WILL NOT abandon you, it flows through your heart and out through your mouth like the greatest shout of victory you have ever heard?

That’s where I’m at. I’m exhausted, 6 months pregnant, mom to a boy with a fever and a cough, and I’m scared out of my mind how I’m going to be a good parent to both these kids, a good wife, and a good follower of Christ.

But today all God is asking me to focus on is the true fact that He says:

Heb 13-5

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All Things Thursday, Birth & Babies

Peace Beyond Me

Oh my ten month old. He has a cold, and is really struggling with the challenges in his little life. He is also discovering that he has choices, and has desire. Right now I am watching him randomly chuck pieces of food from his high chair. He is dividing his cheese and strawberries into two piles. The ones that pass the ten month old inspection, and the rejects. Rejects go on the floor. The good enough ones are eaten. There is no rhyme or reason to this process.

This short week has been long. Weird stages bring a lot of different challenges. I feel like my list of when he’s not happy has been much longer than when he is happy the last two weeks.

When my son is happy: 

Eating snacks that pass inspection

Climbing over top of me

Being held, sometimes

Watching me dancing to keep him from crying

In the bath, sometimes

When my son is upset:

Being put in his high chair

Being placed in his crib

Being put on the change table

Being buckled into his car seat

Being placed in his stroller

When I turn my back for three seconds

When I’m not watching him play

When I try to put food in my own mouth

When I’m not giving him my constant undivided attention

When I unload the dishwasher

When I try to make supper

etc, etc, etc. I won’t bore you with all the details.

So today I managed to distract him for about 3 and a half minutes with a colander, a pot and a wooden spoon so that I could inhale my toast before screaming and crying ensued. I sat down at the kitchen table quickly, trying not to waste a second that could be used for getting some caffeine in my body after four really long nights. I laughed to myself at how this moment of rest came while the house was filled with the loud clanging sound of a pot being smashed repeatedly. Before this would have annoyed me or gave me a headache.

The verse that came to mind was this;

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7)

I have been kicking myself repeatedly for things I’ve been doing that I know are creating bad sleeping patterns this week. Today was the fourth morning in a row where he wouldn’t fall asleep on his own so we drove around. I couldn’t justify missing a nap when he’s fighting a cold and can’t breathe well.

As I sit in the line up for the Tim Horton’s drive thru finishing this post, I see a few other moms in the line up with babies in the car seat. They’re probably trying to snatch a few minutes of peace too.

Life changes and the moments we treasure are much different from the ones we used to.

Mom’s: you know that you can easily be engulfed in discouragement. Guilt, exhaustion, frustration, and confusion can get the better of us quickly, and we can be sent into a tailspin of discouragement and despair. You might have the same swirling thoughts that I do sometimes;

“he’s never going to fall asleep…”
“I’m never going to sleep…”
“will we ever sleep…”

I am so thankful for the promise of the Lord’s peace that goes beyond our comprehension. And this is the peace that will guard our hearts and minds. We need our heart and mind to be guarded. Proverbs 4:23 gives this decree

 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

I just hear the cry from the writer of that wise saying, conveying to us the destruction that can come from not guarding our hearts. If our hearts are full of despair, discouragement and disillusionment, then how we treat our family will flow out of that filter. If we let the Lord’s peace speak truth to our heart and we actively take thoughts captive to guard our heart, we will relate to our families from a place of love, joy and peace.

Jesus, guard my heart today. Replace the enemies lies with the truth of your Word. I can do all things through you who gives me strength, and I receive your peace that does not make sense considering the circumstance. You are the God of the impossible, and I am so thankful that it’s a Savior like that who I serve!

 

All Things Thursday

Worse Than A Speeding Ticket

Yesterday my son and I took a drive to my hometown to visit my mom for the day. That highway always brings back so many memories for me. It’s funny how something as simple as a road can be a landmark of emotion. It reminds me of my first trips with friends who got their licence, my first drive after I got my licence, fun trips to the city with my family, not so fun trips to the city for dreaded doctors appointments, moving all my stuff up to the city, and now it’s the road that takes my little family to see my hometown and my mom and one sister that are left back there.

On my drive yesterday, as my little guy was asleep in the back seat I was reminded of a specific trip I had taken to the city with one of my sisters. I had recently got my licence, and was really just discovering a whole new world of great Christian music. After a day of shopping and an extended visit at Blessings Christian Bookstore, we were on our way back with the new sounds of “How Great Is Our God” coming through the speakers, and we sang at the top of our lungs. Life was good, God was good.

As I was coming around a bend, close to town, I saw the lights of a police car go off and quickly pull over. I glanced down at my speedometer, sure that he must not be stopping me.

Whoa. I was going really fast. (Ok I know most of you are thinking I probably wasn’t that innocent, but this is my version of the story!)

I pulled over, and much to my terror, out got the police officer who was also our neighbor and a wonderful family friend. My heart sank down to the pit of my stomach. embarrassment and shame crept over me like a terrible rash. Why couldn’t it have been anyone but him?

Not only was he a great family friend, but he was also the officer I was partnered with to go into schools and classrooms to talk to kids about D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and encourage them to be leaders and live lives different from the social norm.

As I rolled down my window, I tried to stop the hot tears from spilling over my cheeks. He told me was really surprised to see me, and asked for my licence and registration. Then he said four words I have never forgotten.

“I am really disappointed.”

Those words dug through my heart like a knife. I was so embarrassed, I thought I would never be allowed to help kids avoid drugs and alcohol, or encourage them to live positive lives because I had now done one of the worst things an upstanding citizen could do. I sped.

Okay, so that was an extreme thought pattern, but I did feel an huge amount of embarrassment. The officer let me go with a warning and a disappointment speech, since it was my first offence. All I could think of is that I would have done anything for it to be some unknown officer who would have written me a ticket. Anything, but disappointing this officer.

Looking back, that was the best person who could have possibly stopped me in that moment. I am now extremely aware of how fast I am going, and try really hard to not speed (I don’t want to say I’ve never sped again, just in case that isn’t true, but I don’t think I have!)

Maybe another sixteen year old would have brushed it off as nothing, but there is something to be said for giving a teen responsibility and letting them know that they are a leader, and their actions affect others.

I avoided my neighbor for a long time after. I couldn’t face him. All I could think is that I had let him down.

We eventually talked and laughed about it, and I assured him that I had learned my lesson.

Sometimes we make a mistake and we get found out. Shame, humility and embarrassment can overcome us in an almost paralyzing way. In a fight to never feel those emotions again, we run from either the leadership position that caused us extra exposure and responsibility, or we hide from the people and accountability that we need the most.

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity (Proverbs 24:16)

Though we make mistakes, we cannot be crippled by them. Allowing correction to come and dealing with the embarrassment of those tough conversations only makes you a deeper person of character and conviction.

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2)

Although I definitely cowered away from seeing that police officer for a while, I know the Lord allowed me to experience wisdom from that situation. In the moment I thought that was worse than a speeding ticket, but now I know that was a way better lesson than a speeding ticket!

My sister still hasn’t let me forget that, and neither will the highway, but it serves as a reminder to me of the call to holy living that we have as leaders. Whether you are leading teens, a country, a small group or a family, even speeding is setting an example. What example do you want to set?

All Things Thursday

Honeymoon

After we got married we went on a ten-day honeymoon out to Vancouver Island and Vancouver. It was the best trip of my life. So relaxing, and wonderful. Since my husband and I didn’t live together before we were married, this was also the first trip we had ever taken together. It was the greatest way to end a season of waiting and wedding planning and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter, or really new book in our lives!

On days when I’m really tired or restless, for some reason I find myself dreaming of being on our honeymoon, just walking the pier, looking at the ships and stopping in at little coffee shops or ice cream stores along the way. No agenda, no time restraints, no responsibilities.

Actually a lot of our honeymoon became a hunt for better ice cream! Mmm…so good.

We did go into the big city of Vancouver, but we so regretted leaving the island. It was so peaceful and wonderful there. I think it would have been more fun if we had gone to Vancouver first, but we had already settled into the pace of island, the city was almost culture shock.

I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but we left our shoes and waded across the river at Cathedral Grove outside Nanaimo, BC. The current was way stronger than we thought it was going to be. It was actually kind of freaky, but totally a fun experience. Once we got to the other side ok, we laughed so hard, imaging the challenge it would be to get back over!

We spent a long time being captivated with the immensely tall trees. Andrew was especially taken with them since he had lived in Saskatchewan his whole life. It was a really neat experience because I grew up coming to a lot of these place in Nanaimo and Vancouver because I lived there until I was thirteen. It was fun to share some of these sentimental places with my new husband.

This was the peace and calm that we got used to. The beauty was so hard to leave.

I remember on our way home we talked about how we were about to really start life together. The honeymoon was fun, but it wasn’t forever. We were both going back to work, we’d learn how to live together, pay bills, and run our house.

Life changes very quickly I’ve found. I love the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:10 that says;

Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.

These times that we had at first were exhilarating and new, and nothing could have prepared us for how quickly our world would turn from ourselves to another little person and to increasing responsibility.

I love reminiscing about times we’ve had, I love creating new memories now, and I dreaming of the exciting things we will do in the future.

My expectations have lowered a lot. When we first got married I imagined that we’d go on many trips for weeks at a times, and I hope one day we will, but now I’m thrilled to go away for a few days!

When I catch myself trying to live in the past or longing for “the good old days”, I am trying to thank God for every special time I’ve had, then ask for hope and vision for the future. Perhaps your example could be as simple as mine, just longing for rest and adventure. In these moments I have been asking God for creative ways to do these things where we are now. Each time I end up admitting I wouldn’t trade any piece of my current life for a million honeymoons all over the world!

All Things Thursday

A Few Of My Favourite Things: The Vancouver Canucks

I was overwhelmed yesterday by all the people who enjoyed my post on the Double Bun and the Small Things Blog! Each day I have the privilege of connecting with new people and sharing my stories and my heart. I am going to be doing a post called “A few of my favourite things” every now and then featuring something about me or that I love that if you knew me you would know! I hope it will be a chance for you each to not only hear my heart and see some of the projects I work on, but also to get to know me a little better!

Thanks for being a part of My Red & Purple Life Blog! If you are new to my blog, I hope you’ll check out Stay Connected and be in touch with me! I love getting to know new people.

Ok so here is my first post for A Few of My Favourite Things!

The Vancouver Canucks

When I started watching the Vancouver Canucks play in 1995 at the age of five and a half this was their logo and their goalie, my first favourite goalie, Kirk McLean.

I have so many memories of my early years of hockey watching. If you aren’t from Canada you won’t feel the emotion behind the phrase “Hockey Night in Canada”, nor will you automatically hear the tune of that great theme song run through your head. Saturday nights were tough for a little girl needing to go to bed early to be up for church the next morning. I remember lying in my bunk bed with my radio on listening to Jim Hughson call the second or third period (since I was at least able to watch the first on T.V) until 1998. My eyes would get so heavy, but I could not let myself fall asleep until I was assured of victory.

Canuck fever had swept British Columbia after their 1994 run to the cup, and I was by no means too young to be immune to it. Everything about the Canucks was intoxicating: their speed, passion, vigor, and talent.

At that time my family lived in British Columbia, first on Vancouver Island, and then in Vancouver until we left B.C in 2002. I carried my love for the Canucks across two provinces to reside in the heart of a Saskatchewanian.

In high school we had many rivalries in my youth group between the different teams. One specific rivalry seemed to prevail. The Toronto Maple Leafs vs. The Vancouver Canucks.

On the night of this picture, I remember my team lost and my youth group held me down and put a Toronto jersey on me! We laughed so hard, I remember my stomach just aching. The next morning in church some how the fact that Vancouver lost was mentioned from the pulpit. Only in a small town!

My husband and I cheer for different teams, but there has never been a question as to who our son would love after this great shirt I found while I was pregnant! Not to bring up too much tragedy for all you Canuck fans, but I’m about to say the inevitable. Last year, we made it to the finals again. I was so sure this was our year to win the cup. I had my brand new baby home from the hospital with me as we watched game seven again the Boston Bruins. I could hardly breathe during that game. We had already overcome a huge mental hurdle: The Chicago Blackhawks, after losing to them two years in a row. We had come so far. This had to be our time.

Sadly it wasn’t. I can still get emotional thinking of how close we were last year.


Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers,
intensifies, but never destroys it.
– Eliza Tabor

As of today we’re still first in the league! Will our disappointment be the fuel that takes us to the final? Or the focus of a brand new year with no regrets? I guess we’ll see!

Are you a Vancouver Canucks Fan? Share your story below!

All Things Thursday

Stress Eating

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who depends on food, or turns to food for comfort. For Lent this year I decided to give up desserts. I was excited about it at first since I had realized I ate too much sugar a while ago. I thought this could be the push I needed in the right direction.

As the beginning day of Lent drew closer, I started to get a little nervous about giving up my cheesecake, brownies, cookies and all other little things I make far too often. My husband laughed at me as I started to get a little panicked the Monday before, reminding me it’s only for forty days.

So I’ve completed two full days, and I sort of already cheated by eating biscotti that didn’t have “much” sugar. I have realized something though. Stress makes me want sugar. If Caleb’s screaming, I subconsciously root around to see what baking there is, or pick up a little chocolate here, or desire a sugar filled latte. Being at home all day, I don’t think I had any idea how many times I just ate a “little something”.

It’s eye-opening to realize there is a deeper problem behind something. It isn’t just that I really like dessert, I’ve developed a dependency on it.

Confession: After two days, I have literally thought “I can’t do this.”

Wow. If this isn’t a wake up call to shake things up around here, I’m not sure what is!

The truth is, if I only deal with my sugar cravings, I will end up only replacing my need for comfort with something healthier, or something else that isn’t food related.

So my little Lent sacrifice has turned into something way bigger. I guess I could call it my journey towards a TRUE dependency on the Holy Spirit, not on food.

This is my theme song right now, for every situation I’m in. It’s very old, and I love it. I have been reminding myself many times already to “tell Jesus” instead of running to something or someone else.

“I must tell Jesus, all of my trials. He is a kind compassionate friend.” You can listen to the rest of it below. Let the words touch your heart, and throw preconceived notions of “hymns” aside.
*I couldn’t find a version that wasn’t a little dated in style! 

I certainly don’t have any answers on any of this yet, but I am excited at the work that Jesus wants to do in my heart, even if it scares me a bit to see what he digs up. One thing I know, he won’t ask me to deal with by myself.

Jesus can help me. Jesus alone.

All Things Thursday

A Week of Separation Anxiety

This has been a long week. I’m not complaining, it’s just the way it has gone has made it feel like time has dragged on. Caleb has been waking up in the middle of the night screaming inconsolably. For the first couple nights we rushed in and held him and tried to figure out what was wrong. That made it worse. He just screamed louder and harder.

I’m going to be honest, it was terrifying. He rarely cries. The panic in his cry gave us chills. My husband and I would stand there helplessly wondering what on earth was wrong. We prayed protection over him, our home, his crib…anything! Eventually he’d settle down and the moment I would lay him in his crib he’d start screaming. Or if he calmed down in his crib, he’d start screaming the moment I left his room.

I felt like it was never-ending cycle. It started transferring to naps and bedtime too, not just the middle of the night.

I was trying to figure out why Caleb was screaming and I read that between eight and twelve months is when separation anxiety hits its peak. I started reading more and more about his emotions, the changes going on in his heart, mind and body and began to understand where this panic was coming from.

As Andrew and I talked about it we were heartbroken that Caleb can feel such loneliness, isolation and fear in his tiny person. If you believed someone closed the door and walked away to never come back, you would be screaming too!

Through doing a little research I’ve found a tactic that seems to be working well for us, but it requires a lot of patience on my part. If you are interested in what’s working for us, you can email me at monica@myredandpurplelife.com. I’m not going to spend time going into detail on it during this post.

Sitting in the rocking chair in Caleb’s room while he screamed, reassuring him from a distance until he calmed himself to sleep, I was wrestling with myself to maintain the patience to wait this out with him. Once again, the Lord said to me that if I’d stick with this he would show me things about himself that I would never have known otherwise.

It is such a relief when a frustrating situation becomes one of great purpose.

So here are the three things the Lord has shown me during my late night calming sessions with my baby.

  1. We all have anxiety about being alone. This fear often can surface as fear of being single, or an unhealthy dependency on other people. Truthfully, it just comes down to a separation from God. People all around us are screaming out in panic. They are going through their own separation anxiety. Can we lead them to the one who will never leave or forsake them?

    Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

  2. Those of us who know the Lord are bearers of peace. In a world where nothing is certain, and inconsistency is every where, we need to be that consistent strong voice leading people to truth, which is Jesus Christ.

    I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

  3. Don’t give up on people. Often when a person is at their worst and seems perhaps beyond hope, breakthrough is just around the corner. The first night, I was just about to give up on my new tactic with Caleb, and it was two minutes after I decided to stay that he fell asleep. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

    So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

This experience has given me yet another glimpse in to the heart of God. The sorrow I felt in trying to make Caleb know we were right there, that he wasn’t alone hardly even compares to the grief the Lord feels when people are pushing away from him. He is standing there not just saying that he’s in the next room, like I was saying, but he’s shouting “I’m right here! Turn to me and I will heal your heart and make you new.”

I’m happy to say that things with Caleb have improved greatly throughout the week. Last night I was only up with him for about ten minutes. He’s becoming his joyful self again!

If you don’t know the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I hope you will talk to someone you trust who does know Him, or contact me. You don’t have to live in anxiety that comes from separation. If you do know the Lord, but you haven’t been as committed or faithful to him as you want to be, take this opportunity and recommit. His heart is breaking that you won’t let him come in and be your Father.

May eternal life, love and joy be yours today!