Category Archives: grace

His Grace is Sufficient

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 NIV

I know this is true, but today it sure doesn’t feeI like it.
The nice thing about doing dishes is that you can’t tell the difference between the teardrops and the water splashes.
KP is waking up every two hours.
The job with the shorter commute hasn’t led to earlier nights and the next quarter with less classes has led to more work because the class is harder.
I’m one marker on the furniture incident from complete meltdown.
Strength in weakness, weakness in strength.
His grace is sufficient.
Always sufficient.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Having our community group leader over to watch the first preseason game. Living room looks like this. Both girls are in a mood. This is where real life is, y'all.

Lonely

wpid-5-minute-friday-1.jpgFive Minute Friday. Where writers from around the world meet up to write, unedited, for five minutes. Join us over at Lisa Jo’s, won’t you?

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I have written a few times about my struggles to feel connected in relationship. I have often found myself sitting lonely. At home. At church. Surrounded by people, but always alone.

The advice that is often given is just to “reach out”. “Reach out to someone, they’re probably lonely, too.” The excuse I always give myself is that I shouldn’t always have to be the one to reach out. I’m a tired mother of a toddler and a baby. I shouldn’t have to reach out right?

Wrong.

The burden of not being lonely sits on my shoulders, and mine alone. I am the only one who knows whether I am lonely or not. Unless I tell someone, they cannot know.

Last night, I found myself really missing our weekly community group gatherings. So, I decided to see if I could find someone to watch the Seahawks preseason game. A couple texts and a few hours later, a friend came over after work.

Our house was a disaster. Both the girls were cranky.

But we were in community. And I wasn’t lonely.

And, I discovered, I was able to offer the blessing of sitting on the couch and vegging for a very busy, very tired woman. It wasn’t much, but it was our home and our time and rest.

P1030162

How We Talk

Have you ever been talking & suddenly clue into what you’re saying? Sometimes, we have patterns of thought & speech that we don’t realize are there until we pay attention to what is coming out of our mouths.

In the wake of Kaylee’s arrival, we’ve had a few people bless us with meals. As it happens when people come over, we got lots comments about how nice our house is: the size of the kitchen (it’s huge), the back deck, the built in BBQ & surround sound system. All of these were major selling points for us.

However, whenever someone points these out, I feel compelled to talk about everything that’s wrong with the house. If they point out the size of the kitchen, I tell them about the wasted space at the end, or how the dishwasher and oven doors bump into each other. The back deck? It’s falling apart or the questionable landscaping job. Or the electrical problems we’ve had. Or the blown speaking that’s going to be very difficult to replace. I could go on and on. And I usually do.

As this was happening the other day, I suddenly realized what I was doing. And I wondered, Am I not happy here with this house? Why do I feel the need to point out everything wrong with the house?

It is true that familiarity breeds contempt, but I started to wonder about the attitudes and thoughts that were driving me to talk about my house this way. I have been quite open here on the blog about my housekeeping struggles, and I wonder if talking about what’s wrong with the house gives me a certain amount of permission to continue to not take care of it. Or if it just deflects praise for something I don’t feel like I deserve.

What I hope this revelation causes is a turnaround in how I talk about my house. Framing it as a blessing from God, which it is, that we want to share with others, which we do. We bought this house specifically because it’s a good entertaining house.

I also hope that changing my patterns of speech will work their way back into my thought patterns. And then those thought patterns will work their way into my actions, so I can take better care of my house.

What thought patterns are your speech patterns betraying?

Kaylee’s Arrival: Part the Second

After spending the whole day Friday on the couch, I went to bed pretty discouraged. Jesse kept trying to encourage me, that he was proud of me for being patient. But I just wanted to be done.

I woke up at 3:00 with some pretty intense contractions. I drank some water & took a bath, trying to get them to calm down. They were pretty close together, so I woke Jesse up around 4 to help me time them. At 4:30, they were staying consistent at 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I called my mom, to get her out to the house to watch AJ, in case we ended up at the Birthing Inn.

At 5, we had been timing for an hour, so I called Neeva. She informed me that Susan was out of town for the weekend, but since I was going to have Neeva be the primary midwife, I wasn’t worried about it. After discussing where we were at, we decided to meet at the Birthing Inn at 6:30.

I called Kelley, who happened to be at another birth. Since the other mama wasn’t progressing, Kelley decided to come meet us anyway.

We rolled in and got set up, checked my cervix, which was still only at a 6. I started to feel discouraged again, because I had made it to a 7 with AJ before going in to the center. I was also worried that they might send me home again.

Neeva told me that they usually preferred to have their patients come when they’re actually in transition, which I was still a ways from, because it can be discouraging. However, she gave me the option to continue on at the center or to go home for a few more hours. I asked to stay partly because it would have been more discouraging to be sent home and because I knew Jesse would be distracted by all the projects that needed to be done at home. I knew that I was going to need his full attention to make it through.

The time line gets rather wibbly wobbly after that point. The rest of the morning is a haze of comings and goings, alternating between resting and walking, in the tub and out of the tub. At one point, we took a couple walks around the back lawn.

Somewhere around the afternoon, I moved into transition. I’m not sure anyone knows when it actually happened, I vaguely remember Neeva saying something about me reaching an 8 and nobody knew.

A few other stand out memories are of Neeva continuing to remark about how quiet I am in labor. A couple of times it made me laugh, which was both distracting and painful. But amusing nonetheless. I did try to warn her, but I understand not believing a woman who tells you that she sometimes can’t actually tell she’s having a contraction. It is true though.

I also have distinct memories of Kelley and Mom praying in the Spirit, which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful.

Music is one of the ways I deal with pain, so I had an all female play list prepared, which played during the entirety of the labor process. During which two songs came on that completely ushered in the presence of God.

Other than that, it’s a haze of pain and work. Towards the end, as she was crowning, I felt my blood sugar dropping and realized that I hadn’t had enough to eat that day. I knew that if I didn’t get her out soon, my body might not have enough energy to finish. It was at that time that I had a stern conversation with myself. I knew I wasn’t using the contractions to the full extent. I would get a couple of good pushes in, and then the pain would build in my back and break my concentration. So I told myself that I needed to just push through a couple of those, and she would come out, and it would be over.

After that I found my rhythm, and I think it was only a handful of contractions before her little head slipped out. I think I may have started crying then, because I knew the hard work was over and she was here.

When they pulled her out of the water, she started crying immediately. They put her on my chest and I looked up to see Jesse crying over my shoulder, just like he did with AJ. I am so grateful to have such a tender daddy for my girls.

Since none of us could remember the song that was playing when AJ was born, Jesse and I had talked about making sure we appointed someone to pay attention to that, but, of course, we forgot. Fortunately, Kelley remembered what it was.

So I will leave you with her song, and talk about the naming process later.

Kaylee’s Arrival: Part the First

In order to understand the full impact of Kaylee’s birth story, it will be necessary for you to know how things went with AJ. (For the morbidly curious, you may also wish to view the photos, Daddy’s version of the story, and Auntie Kari’s version.)

I find this birth story just as difficult to write about as the last. Which is odd, considering that things went completely differently and pretty much exactly as I wanted.

Let’s rewind to my 36 week check up… As I found myself approaching full-term, I became increasingly nervous about the stall-out from AJ’s labor. I talked to my midwife, Susan, and the student midwife, Neeva (who would be my primary delivering midwife), through the AJ’s birth story. We discussed exactly when the stall had happened and what the previous midwife had done. They reassured me that if a stall did occur, they would just tuck me into bed and have me get some more rest. I left that appointment much encouraged and relieved.

Up until the contractions started. On July 2nd. Two days before the date we were pretty sure she would be coming, and nine days before our due date. I decided to have them check my cervix (3cm at 50% effaced) at my 39 week appointment on the 3rd, and we talked about what they wanted me to do. I had been trying to alternatively walk (to keep the contractions going) and rest, since I didn’t want to wear myself out. They asked me to rest and be patient, true labor doesn’t stop when it decides to start. They told me that the location of my placenta was causing my uterus to be irritable, which basically means that anytime Otter moved around in there, it would kick up a round of contractions.

I went home and tried to rest as much as possible. When nothing really happened, we decided to go out to my parents’ house for the 4th. Around 730, the contractions picked back up again. I tried a few things to get them to slow down, but they continued to get stronger and closer together. I had Jesse call the midwife, since the contractions were getting to the point where I didn’t want to talk through them. We decided to meet them at the Birthing Inn to see where things were at. My doula, Kelley, met us there in case this was the real deal.

I had progressed slightly (to 4 cm) but definitely not in active labor as of yet. So home we went. Again. I cried myself to sleep that night. Friday (the 5th) I spent pretty much parked on the couch. I was so frustrated. I hadn’t wanted to do the three days of contracting again. I also found myself very untrustful of my body. If I couldn’t count on my contractions to tell me when I was in labor, how was I supposed to know? I cried quite a bit that day, as well as was just generally grumpy. Jesse and I went out for breakfast, since both of us were pretty grumpy. Not with each other, thankfully, but at life and the whole situation.

Five Minute Friday: Friend

From Lisa Jo:So, here’s the skinny: every Friday for over a year hundreds of people join a kind of writing flash mob over here.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

It’s easy to join in, just:

  1. Check what the prompt is on my blog.
  2. Write a post in only five minutes on that topic on your blog.
  3. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  4. Select the permalink to your post {so not your blog url www.lisajobaker.com but your post url www.lisajobaker.com/2012/07/five-minute-friday-2/ }
  5. Using the linky tool at the bottom of my Five Minute Friday post enter your link.
  6. Your post will show up in our Five Minute Friday linky.
  7. Be sure and encourage the person who linked up before you!

Our most important requirement for participation: There’s really only one absolute, no ifs, ands or buts about it Five Minute Friday rule: you must visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

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Friend is a hard word for me to write about. In fact, I found myself wanting to duck out of this week’s prompt entirely. But the harder I tried to walk away, the more it pushed to be written about.

What is a friend? “One who sticks closer than a brother” is the typical answer.

In that case, I’ve never had one. And frankly, I’m tired.

I’m tired of pouring myself into seasonal relationships. I’m tired of pursuing and choosing and not being chosen.

I don’t even want to try any more, because, really, what’s the point? It’s not like the relationship is going to last beyond a few months or years. One of us will move, or the life circumstances will change, and then, we won’t be friends any more.

Just acquaintences. People you pass in church and cordially greet, but who aren’t intimately involved in each other’s lives. People you watch their kids grow up on Facebook, because you don’t actually get to be involved in the growing up process.

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I did not want to write for this prompt. Like at all. Once I had cried and written it and cried some more, I didn’t want to post it. But I guess that’s part of the healing process.

ashWednesday

Wednesday, Day of Ashes

Ash Wednesday

I must confess, in my Protestantism, to still not entirely understand this day of ashes.

Lent, I understand. A season to remember the sacrifices that our Savior made on our behalf.

But, ashes? Why ashes? They are referenced many times in Scripture, but I have no cultural “hook” to hang them on. They are often used in parallel with fasting and repentance, which is what this season is about. They are also associated with grief, which I guess this season could be about. I have always viewed it as a season of delayed joy. There is sorrow, yes. But the story doesn’t end at the Cross.

His sacrifice is what brings our redemption. And our God is not dead. On the other side of the Cross, there is an empty Tomb.

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. — Daniel 9:3 (TNIV)

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I am not in the habit of announcing fasts, but given the nature of this Lenten fast, I wanted to provide a heads up. I am fasting from social media from now until Easter. So please do not be alarmed if I suddenly have appeared to drop off the face of the earth. I have removed the shortcuts from my phone and turned off all notifications.

I will be leaving the social plugin on my blog active, so that posts will continue to be pushed out to social media.

Looking Back: 2012

Before 2012 started,  I made a list of goals. I wanted to revisit those goals & see where I’ve ended up.

Get out of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome).
I’m going to give myself a D- on this one… We made some progress over the summer which quickly evaporated after Jesse started school & I got pregnant. We did have a few people over, but we’ve definitely got a lot of work to do before Otter baby comes.

I want to learn to play the piano, more than “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or C-scales. I want to finish writing three songs this year.
Fail. I didn’t spend any time practicing. I got a couple of lyrics in good shape, but because I didn’t learn to play the piano, I can’t put them to music.

I want to re-learn how to shoot manually. And maybe even pick up an SLR this year.
C ish. We weren’t able to pick up a full-manual camera, but I did spend some time playing with the manual settings on our camera, as well as the ones available on my phone. I think I made some progress, and looking to continue making progress this year.

A weekly portfolio piece. Possibly based on the liturgical calendar.
Fail. I kept this up for a couple of weeks, but then it petered out. I may consider revisiting this again this year.

Get comfortable in my post-baby body.
B. Over the summer, Jesse and I discovered The Carb Nite Solution and both of us were able to pull off a significant amount of weight and tighten up our body measurements. I never did get into the swing of working out, and struggled with some image issues as a result, but over all I consider this to be a success.

Open an Etsy shop.
C. Rather than an Etsy shop, I started Literary Jewelry. I haven’t had the time to commit to this site & so haven’t made very many sales, but I hope to be able to invest in getting an online store set up as well as a few more pieces in stock.

Get my first tattoo.
D. While I did not get a tattoo, I finally found something that my husband has agreed to. I will probably wait until after Otter is born to have it done, but am researching the exact design for now.

Get into a rhythm of blog posts.
D. I had a few stretches here & there, but eventually I would run out of my buffer & the posts would stop coming again. I want to work on this again this year. I have things I want to say that take longer than a tweet or a wall post. If I could be happy with the mobile posts, I would probably get more posts written, but I love my keyboard & the ability to easily write HTML on the laptop.

Find a way to serve my church that doesn’t conflict with the first two life goals.
D. Still working on it.

Open, unpack & get rid of all the cardboard boxes left over from moving in three years ago.
Fail. On the list of things to do before Otter gets here.

Start taking the stairs again at work.
C. I got pretty good at this for a while, then stopped, then started again. Then I got pregnant & taking the stairs leaves me seriously out of breath, so I stopped again.

My grades don’t really reflect it, but I feel like this was a good year for growth. It was a very difficult year for me emotionally. I can’t explain why very well, but it was rough. I feel a bit like a learned what being “grown-up” is like. Doing things you don’t want to do, because they need doing. I made much better strides at work than I did at home, this year is going to be about moving that growth to the homefront.

NaNoWriMo: The end of all things

Ok. Not really, but I thought it sounded cool.

My word meter hasn’t ticked over 31000 words. In the terms of NaNo, this means I “lost” (didn’t win, anyway). I went through a series of emotions when I realized that I wasn’t going to finish in time.

First, was the guilt for allowing myself to slack off, for giving up with a week left in the month.

Second was the excuse making. And, boy, do I have some doozies. Namely, these two:

image

Add to that an ear infection that laid me out for nearly a week, and you have a recipe for failure.

However, in the last couple days, I have come to realize that not only are these excuses, they are obstacles. Obstacles I managed to over come to generate 31k words of fiction. I wrote all that content in a holiday month, with an 18 month old, while fighting off an ear/sinus infection and morning sickness.

For the first time in years, I have held off my seasonal affective disorder until December. This project gave me something to focus my energy on, and kept my spirits high. And that is a benefit not to be discounted.

So, I don’t get a neat little badge for my website saying that I “won” NaNoWriMo, but I have 31k words towards a novel. One that I still intend to finish, albeit at a more reasonable pace.

Nandi will have her story told. One way or another. She is very insistent about that.

Examen: Community

When & where did I sense God’s presence?
In community. Thank you so much for where you have placed us. Thank you for safety. Thank you for vulnerability. Thank you for grace.

What am I thankful for?
Community. Prayer. Jesse. AJ. Growth. And yes, even change.

Where am I at emotionally?
Exhausted. It has been a bit of a roller coaster day.

Look forward to tomorrow.
Hopefully can wrap up my major project tomorrow & get started on the next one. Give me grace to navigate those waters. Help me to reserve enough energy to serve my family when I get home.