Monthly Archives: October 2013

Joy, Tears, and Change

Dear Evan,

One year ago today you and I saw each other for the very first time. To say the feeling was exhilarating would be an understatement. You were breathtaking – your ample red hair, your knowing eyes, the firm grip of your tiny fingers. I could talk for hours about that crisp October night in Minneapolis – how I labored in the shower and in the tub, how I munched on pretzels right up until you were born, how your dad unceasingly supported me through it all.

Before you were born, I anticipated that an intervention-free childbirth, God willing, would be a hugely transformative experience for me – that it would bring me to rely on the Lord in ways I never had before. But God is so much bigger than our human minds can ever comprehend. And His plans are so much better! As we lie here together a year later, your soft sleep-breaths rhythmically warming my arm, I can now see that He used not just your birth story, but your entire first year of life to transform your Momma’s heart and ready her for His purposes.

There is so much to say about our first year together – our breastfeeding struggles, your need to nurse hourly, my deep vein thrombosis, your preference to be snuggled rather than left alone in a crib, the weeks of shots in my stomach, Daddy letting you sleep on his shoulder anytime you need to, your first belly laugh at just 10 weeks old, my pelvic separation, your intense dislike of unnatural things (pacifiers, carseats, strollers), me being physically unable to walk from room to room, your sweet, sweet smiles, my foray into PPD, your precocious social nature, Daddy’s new job, your adoration of kitties, packing up and moving five states away, sharing sleep as a family, your love of hummus (and all food actually!), living with Grandma G.G., the way you light up when Daddy comes home, finally moving into our new place, the way you say “brrmmm” when you see, play with, or read about anything with wheels, finding a new church family, your hugs. Oh your hugs!

Certainly the past year has been a journey filled with joy, tears, and change. Certainly it has been one of the best journeys of my life. Certainly it has been incredibly transformative.

As many who are close to me (and several who have chosen to distance themselves from me) can attest, during your infancy I began to feel called to speak both publicly and intimately about the ways in which many practices within mainstream parenting are not God’s will for babies and children. Immersing myself in prayer, in the Word, and in community with other Christians, I was given a burden for the youngest among us. I can still remember when I posted for the very first time on Facebook. It was about circumcision. I knew people would snicker. I knew people would feel I was judging them personally. I knew I would lose friends. I still hit “Post.” God had called me, and who was I to ignore His call?

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Just like that first post, your birthday is bittersweet for your Momma. While I praise The Lord for you, for our beautiful journey thus far, for convicting my heart, for equipping me, a simple woman, for His purposes, I must reckon with the reality that you will soon enough begin to sense that the culture into which you were born believes that babies and children are somehow less than. This will stand in direct opposition to what you are learning about Jesus. May God grant your Daddy and I wisdom and strength as we strive to answer your eventual questions about why children are ignored, hit, shamed, and bullied by those on Earth that love them the most.

Love on your birthday and always,

Momma

*This letter was started yesterday, on your actual birthday. It just took Momma awhile to finish it up. 🙂

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Independence Is A Fallacy

Another oldie for the archives.

Dear Evan,

Today is Independence Day. 237 years ago the country you were born into asserted it’s independence from another country.

Today, with all 23 pounds of you sleeping peacefully in my arms, my back aching and my mouth watering for a drink, I find myself pondering this thing we adults call Independence. I wish I could tell you that the place into which you were born treasures connectedness and values community. But the truth, my son, is that Independence is but one of the many idols that reign here in America. And just like any idol, it is oh so tempting.

For 25 years before you came into my life, Satan whispered into your momma’s ears, “Be independent. Dependency is weakness. Make your own rules. Stop for no one. BE YOUR OWN GOD.” I wish I could tell you I wasn’t enticed. But I was. I fell head over heals for His lies. Seriously. And I lost sight of the truth. Only God can possess independence. We humans are entirely dependent on Him for EVERYTHING.

And when God brought you into my life 8 months ago, a tiny being fully dependent on your earthly parents for your every human need, He began a work in my heart. For many parents the dependency of babies is terrifying as it stands in direct opposition to the glories that Satan ascribes to Independence. But thanks be to God, for He is working during your infancy to destroy that idol in my heart along with all its empty promises.

A time Satan failed to tempt us to leave you alone to cry yourself to sleep.

How else could I resist the advice from family, friends, and “professionals” to enroll you in Independence Boot Camp? “He needs to cry alone at night to learn to self-soothe,” “You’re coddling him by holding him all the time,” and “Don’t let him use you as a pacifier!” God is sustaining my heart and reminding me of what’s true. And the truth is that God makes no mistakes. He designed your cry to communicate your needs to me, not to be muffled by a closed door. He designed my arms to hold you, not to be constantly replaced by strollers and jumperoos. He designed my breasts to nourish AND comfort you, not to be withheld because your needs conflict with my love of sleep or personal space. And He designed both you and me to be entirely dependent on Him! I would be so wrong to shove you towards the grips of Independence. Satan will tempt you with that soon enough. Instead I pray that God will use me to show you that dependence on another is not only good, but ultimately necessary. May you one day place your full dependence on Christ.

Love,
Momma

*Originally written July 4, 2013

I Let Him Cry It Out

I can still hear him – the sobbing, the sputtering, the gasping for breath. It was his bedtime. And I needed a break. And she told me to do it. Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes passed. Still sobbing, still sputtering, still gasping.

Angry thoughts paced through my mind: “She told me he would stop within ten minutes,” “He is trying to manipulate me,” “Why won’t he just sleep!,” “I need me-time!” And then it occured to me that maybe he had a need that I was willing to meet. “Maybe he dropped his pacifier!”

Slamming my book shut, I rose from the couch and climbed the stairs. Opening the door, I found him exactly as I had left him – clinging to the rail of the crib, pacifier dangling in hand. Almost exactly. Now, however, his face was mottled crimson, his cheeks glistened with tears, his upper lip was covered in snot, and his little body trembled.

I so badly wish I could say that I was moved by seeing the raw reality of his desperate attempts to reach out to me in the only way his 11-month-old self knew how. That I had compassion for him.        But I wasn’t.       I didn’t.

Turning from him, I walked out, shutting the door behind me.

When his mom returned that night she asked nervously, “Did he give you too much trouble at bedtime?” It was late, and I was prideful. “Oh no. Not at all!” I answered. At the time, I suppose my thought process went something like this: Why burden her with the gory details of my misery. MY misery! But in looking back, had I been honest with myself, I would have recognized that I was too arrogant to admit to either of us that I felt affronted by a baby. A baby.

Textbooks in hand, I walked out to my car. I was so relieved to be heading home. Needing to vent, I dialed my mom.

“Mom, that little baby was so clingy. Yes, it was hard hearing him cry, but babies need to know that their crying does not get a reaction out of us. They need to know who is in charge. How else will they learn to be independent? My babies will learn to be independent.”

I really said that. And I believed it.

No matter the weight of my regret, I cannot go back in time and answer his pleas for company, for comfort, for help. All I can do is cling to God’s forgiveness, to His grace.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Destined To Be Needy

Something from this past summer for the archives.

Dear Evan,
The past two nights you and I have awoken every 1-2 hours on average and sometimes as often as every 45 minutes.
These are the kind of nights that our “me first” culture uses as ammunition to tempt your momma to leave you in a crib down the hall to scream and cry alone. Supposedly this trauma will teach you to “self-soothe,” to be independent, and to be less needy. But my son I have prayed for so much more for you. So much more.
Because the truth is that mankind can never “self soothe” and be independent. Instead, we are utterly and irreparably needy. So I pray every day that God will instill in you, even when you are a grown man and your sweet baby rolls have melted away, a heart that can only be soothed by Him, rather than one that is clouded in a false sense of personal wherewithal.
Broken and mired in sin, all of us are destined to be needy. All of us. So be it 7 months, 7 years, or 7 decades, I will come to you, day or night, in the sincere hope that you will not learn to fear your human neediness. And in these times I will hold you close, dry your tears, and speak softly to you about the One whose arms are safer and whose words are wiser. Together we will run to Him.
Love,

Momma

*Originally written June 9, 2013

The Beginning

I have been wanting to start a blog for quite some time now. And with Jake’s urging (and technical assistance!), here goes!

It’s interesting how God convicts our hearts in ways we never would have imagined. Just under a year ago, I knew I was about to become a mother. What I did not know, however, was that the tiny baby growing inside of me would be used by the Lord to transform my heart.

For several months after Evan was born I longed for the Old Steph. I could not wait for her to return, and I excitedly planned the things she would do. She would have her body to herself! She would have her time to herself! Oh the possibilities!!!

As the months passed and the Old Steph failed to return, it dawned on me that perhaps, just maybe, I did not want the Old Steph to return after all. While she certainly was free to do as she pleased, she had never lived to serve another person. Instead, she unabashedly served herself.

Today I am thankful to say that I no longer pine away for the Old Steph. Do I miss her sometimes? Of course! Have I managed to get in contact with her? I admit that I have. I have even gone so far as to invite her to visit for a few hours here and there. By the grace of God, she never stays long, and when she leaves I am left with profound peace.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Amen!