I've had something stirring around inside of me for some time now.
I think I've taken a stab at it before.
But I'm a processor.
I need to let things stew
most of the time
before I am able to share what's on my heart.
Now I think I'm ready to talk.
This baby has taken over my life.
Of course he has.
I carry him with me everywhere.
I spend time reading, cleaning, organizing, and taking classes in preparation for him.
He impacts how I eat, sleep, exercise, and make decisions.
He impacts who I want to be.
I have a secret to tell you.
Being a wife and a mother are the two best jobs I have. I want them to always be my priorities.
But they are not enough.
I want my son growing up in an environment where the world is bigger than just family and play dates.
Those things are important. They are so important.
But there is a world full of people who carry with them unique mixes of talents and needs.
I want my son to grow up in an environment where meeting needs, sharing talents, and loving people just because they are valuable is the norm.
That happens by watching his mama, who he will have the most contact with on most days, model that kind of environment. It happens through him growing up in it and getting involved in contributing his own talents when he is old enough.
Not out of punishment, duty, or deprivation, but because that is how we live life.
Here's another secret.
I'm not doing great at modeling those things right now. In fact, I've caught myself wanting to hoard my time and my resources more times than I can count.
Really, it's ok- it is necessary- to protect some recharge time for myself. It is necessary to keep family time sacred.
I have so much in me that I can give.
And I should give it
because humans are made with different sets of talents/resources and needs.
Someone else may be able to use something (which doesn't need to be tangible) that I have, and I may be able to use something that someone else has.
We need each other.
When we give, without expectation, without need for reciprocation, we are renewed. (It is the giving with any sort of string attached that is draining.)
So, in some ways, true giving turns around to serve ourselves.
That is not a bad thing.
We were made for community. To need each other. To swap stories, time, recipes, and ideas.
Because I want my boy to grow up knowing and living that, Mama has to know and live that, too.
Although the planner part of me wants to pick one specific project to hone in on, to identify myself, I think it is most important that I start practicing the life I want to live.
That's what I'm going to do.
My goal is give away some of myself every day.
It might look different every day.
My efforts might not be recognized.
I will not record those efforts here, but I will check back in to report how I am doing.
But I will be recharged.
I will be satisfied knowing I am becoming a mama- a person-I want to be.
This week, my class and I have been reading about how Hitler came to power.
I recently received a pamphlet about what is going on where my sponsored child lives.
I've been thinking about some of the craziness that goes on when people are misunderstood, when they let greed and selfishness go unchecked.
I watched a particularly well-executing but completely unsettling episode of Bones.
It was just too much. I sat paralyzed with fear. Tim and I talked about going out for ice cream, but we just stayed in and kept talking instead. I am scared and dissatisfied that I cannot guarantee a safe world for my baby. I can't control enough, and I don't know what life will look like as this child that now lives and grows inside of me, grows outside of me.
I cannot promise that no one will harm this little one. I cannot promise that everyone will extend common courtesy or see and embrace his value just for being human (right now, I am thinking "boy," but I really have no idea.)
So I sat. Worry running through my blood like watered-down poison as I rubbed my belly, a weak "it's going to be ok" insistence for the benefit of both my baby and myself.
I poured my fears out of my mouth into the air, cautious at doing so, because although my husband is most certainly the best, he always wants to fix a problem when I present it to him. How does one go about fixing a broken world?
Tim did come through with a solution of sorts. Not a global band aid, but a different approach to life. One that does not leave room for paralyzed-level fear, but allows that fear to drive something better. I'm scared that the world will not be a safe place for my baby, that someone will see and treat him as "less," that someone will abuse him. In the face of that, how am I going to act? When I am staring at the ugliness that clings to this world, how can I offer beauty? How can I offer something great?
It can seem overwhelming to answer such questions, but I can't be paralyzed the desire to make things better, either. I just watched I am Legend (which may have also helped feed my fear?). In that movie, the lead character quotes Bob Marley (which I believe is my first time hearing said quote) who said, "The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness."
Perhaps much of motherhood, or just plain loving-someone-much-it-leads-to-terror, is about courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it's acting in spite of it.
Maybe that looks a little different every day. Today, I will promise my baby that I will not let fear paralyze me anymore. The house that she (ok, now I'm thinking "girl." I'm telling you, I have no idea.) grows up in will be full of love, thankfulness, and generosity.
Tomorrow, courage may bring a different story.
I'm even deeper in love with it because it's made with recycled and local materials by women in Uganda who are paid fairly for their absolutely incredible work. The same women are given English lessons, finance training, a weekly support group, AIDS and health education, and vocational training by a group I am absolutely in awe of: 31 Bits.
I got it at that party I was so nervous about as a gift from my mom.
That party was a complete success. Not only did I get to spend time with people I absolutely love to spend time with, but everyone who came was excited to learn about what's going on and buy the jewelry. I was encouraged to hold more of the same parties, to spread the word further, to keep pushing against my scaredy-cat tendencies to do the things that are so important to me.
I still haven't returned the leftover jewelry.
I will; I promise.
I'm just not sure I don't want to buy more of the gorgeous stuff.
Still, on Monday, it will go back.
I need to give someone else a change to snatch up some of the treasures I've been hoarding for myself.
I put a bit of myself out there last night.
I sent out invitations to a 31 Bits party.
It's not a really a big deal. It's not.
It's just do you wanna come over for muffins and orange juice and friendship? and I wanna show you something that excites me.
Except people can buy things.
And I hate doing this kind of thing.
I really do.
So I'm reminding myself it's just muffins and juice and handmade jewelry.
And it's ok.
I can do this.
It'll be fun.
and worth it.
because that handmade jewelry is made my women in Uganda
who want to support their families
who want to see them flourish
and who maybe could use a little bit of support doing that.
I. can. do. this.
Because I believe in family and community.
Which brings me to something else.
There some people I didn't invite
because I've been favoring naps over parties lately.
Because I haven't put the time in.
I feel like I need to give a little
before I take.
Does that make sense?
(Edited to add: This is not a reaction or anyone. I'm not even aware that anyone has complained. It's just a couple of things on my mind, now on the internet for anyone to read.)
Oh, my gosh, I loved being married to Tim (I still do, don't get me wrong, but this part of the story takes place in the past).
I loved being involved in Tim's youth group. It was often terrifying, surprising, trying, or heart breaking, but it included so much of what makes me feel fully me. You know what I mean? Those things that just engage your heart at the foundational level?
I had a lot to learn about both. There were misunderstandings, there were struggles, tears, heart-to-hearts, and a lot of difficult questions, but for both my husband and my kids, I wanted the best. The absolute best.
I knew that I couldn't accomplish that on my own, but maybe I could be an instrument in the process, you know?
My kids? Well, I used to call them my kids because of my motherly tendencies and just how much space they claimed in my heart. They were joy in human form. They were stories unfolding and explorations taking place. Tim and I were privileged to spend so much time with them, to be trusted and involved.
I don't quite remember when it started, but there was a slow downward spiral that slowly led us out the door of the church we were so involved in. I'm not here to talk about the specifics of that, but I will tell you that I tried to lessen the effects of that spiral. I tried to be less involved in church activities, hoping the heavy weight I felt would ease. I tried to disengage where I could.
My attempts didn't change that it was time to go. Neither did Tim's.
We're living in this sort of in-between place now, where we're coming up out of that spiral we were sliding down. We're getting healthy in all kinds of ways. It's all completely necessary.
But can I tell you something? I will do it again. I don't know when, and I don't know where. Once upon a time, I thought I had a favorite age group, but after spending lots of time with kids, adults, and teenagers, I don't think I do. I just like people, in small-ish settings. I like being a part of stories and processes.
I made many, many mistakes, but I can't think of a single regret. We all offered our own perspectives, time, and hearts. We were part of each others' stories and life processes. I'm so thankful to my (former) kids for allowing that for me.
But there are things I will do differently.
The next time, I hope to act with a little (okay, maybe a lot) more wisdom. And boldness. I was a love-y, listening, cuddly youth leader (ahem, with a side of moody and a love for dancing and cooking), but I've since learned that love- real love- the kind that wants the best for a person, is bold. Being a part of some one's life process, especially if that part includes mentor-ship, requires a big measure of boldness. It requires a toughness that says "I'm not here to make you happy (happiness is good, of course, but it's not everything) or please you all the time ; I want to help you search out the best and then help you live it."
I firmly believe that real love will lead to some uncomfortable situations, but it is worth it.
I loved the best I knew how to at the church (most of the time), but now? The ways I show my love will go even deeper.
If I hear something like, "life is a gift that is meant to be lived. Treasure it, embrace it, learn to live out each moment," I will quickly nod, and say,"oh, yeah, I agree " (or the equivalent).
I do agree. But. If you look at my life or read some of my words, you will see that my agreement does not always match up with the way I live life. I'm still learning how to live, people.
I lose perspective sometimes. I wonder where I am going, if I'll ever get there, if I am doing life "right." Sometimes I forget about the magic of the journey; sometimes I forget why I am doing what I'm doing; I worry way too much.
I need to be reminded every day that life is something that needs to be lived out moment by moment, day by day. I need to be reminded that I can choose to make a better choice right now if I want to do that, and that I am not stuck.
Peace is something that I have to fight to settle into. (Yup, I see the irony, too.) Sometimes anxiety just rises up in me and I have to pray (deep, completely honest prayers) until my mindset is restored. I have to repeat mantras like, "trust, trust, trust," or "one step at a time." I have to refuse to let anxiety mount up too high because peace is not my default setting.
Last night, my dear friend Jaimie introduced me to Hermie after I told her "I like the mug with the quote about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly" ( which was actually,"just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.")
I'm digging the caterpillar-turned-butterfly stories, quotes, and paraphernalia these days.
One day I'm going to be a mama...I'm pretty sure.
What I'm not sure of is whether all of those kids I'm already so fond of will carry somebody else's genes around. At least some of them will. Adoption, to me, is just part of my story. It will happen, but I haven't arrived in that chapter yet.
But the stories (especially the ones I read about here) get me so excited, and sometimes I get the opportunity to participate. I know there are people out there that feel the same way I do, and I know there are people who feel the same yet do not feel the pull to adopt. Those people that still want to participate...even if it's not time or maybe it'll never be time.
So I write.
Recently, I was introduced to an opportunity to give, to be a part of something beautiful quite easily. Jeannette decided to host a fundraiser for this cutie pie.
His name is Cliff. He lives in an orphanage and Eastern Europe, and he has Downs syndrome. And Jeannette? She gets excited about adoption, too. So excited that instead of waiting for other people's stories to come along and be a part of (like me), she did something better- she decided to try to raise enough money so that when a family- Cliff's forever family- comes along, all of that money required just to take him home? Will be taken care of .
So, here's the deal. If you want to be involved, click here. I recommend reading the post (it is fantastic and says so much that I didn't say here), but if you really don't have time to read it but still want to give, scroll toward the bottom, click on the "chip in" button, and give a dollar. Really, no amount is too small.
(Thank you, Love, for passing on this opportunity to me.)
I have not finished my Christmas present making. I have not made one single Christmas dessert. My house is not seasonally decorated.
There were plans. Lists. Schedules.
But you know, sometimes something that is more Christmas-y than gifts and desserts happens. People you love (whatever age they may be) visit and fill your home up with warmth.
They come home to help with the (Christmas) lists. To stir the chocolate chips, roll the truffles. They come over when you were planning to work on gifts.
They say (whether with words or only the gift of their presence) things like, "aren't you going to sit with me?"
The inaudible whisper rings through your days: Be here.
So you are. You do. Christmas looks beautiful, even if it is missing a little green and red. Even if the gifts required a few extra cups of coffee or a rush delivery.
That is what happened to me this season. The tension of laundry, dishes, recipes, and gifts yet to be finished did mount up. I did feel like the stress was pushing my shoulders up to my ears, like I'm never going to get this done, and like it's going to be a big deal if I don't.
But I keep hearing that whisper. Be here, it says.
So I've been trying, and although there's still more to do, I don't regret listening at all.
This morning, I was planning to write about what a grump I've been for the last 12 + hours, but...sometimes just thinking about what I want to write is great therapy for me. The good news? You are not subjected to reading words from Whiny Sarah. (Hooray!)
Also. I am fully aware of how off-centered my heart and mind were during my period of grumpiness (so it's really okay if you're thinking that I was being selfish when you read what I write here.)
And. Most of yesterday was just really great. Up until just a few weeks ago, I was carrying too much around and trying to do too many things. I ended up doing them, but doing them poorly. When that changed, I realized I like my job. That I really have it good. And after a week away, I was ready to get back to loving on and teaching my students. Yesterday was wonderful.
After work, I raced home, loaded the dishwasher, changed clothes, and headed to a yoga class. While there, I realized I was craving my mom's oatmeal, and rather than wait for breakfast to recreate it, I chose dinner. My craving was satisfied, but...a mix of the following occurrences joined together and led to one out of sorts Sarah:
The oatmeal was not quite enough, so I finished up my meal with what sounded good-cereal- when what I really needed was protein.
I have been really buying into the idea that my body (and my mind, my time, my heart) is not really my own, but I am given those things to borrow for a while by a God who created them and also loves me immensely. Those ideas really hit home when I stopped weighing myself (because really, what do numbers amount to? Care for what we've been given amounts to something, surely. But numbers? I'm not so sure.). I started thinking, acting, and eating in such a way as to be a responsible for what I've been given. But last night... I guess maybe it was the fatigue, the thoughts of the goal I made on my last birthday that I will stop binging this year, the thoughts that I just might make it the way I'm going, the ignoring of the thought that I need to be careful of being so prideful, the ignoring of the thought that I need to be responsible with how I handle my body, the paying attention to the thought that chewing sounded really good right about now.
I've been working on making Christmas gifts for my mom and my mother-in-law on Shutterfly, and the program just keeps freezing up on me. Between the feeling that my time is being wasted, my irresponsibility with my body (what I really needed to do was go to bed earlier), and my prideful attitude, I was a grump.
The general grumpiness carried on to this morning, until I realized (all over again, as I am sure I will need to continue to do) that, as a believer in God as my creator, all of this (my body, my time, my heart...) is not my own. It was not my time that was being wasted (maybe there was something more valuable to be found in those minutes), my pride that was (or is) important, or solely my body that I can treat however I want.
So, I'm climbing back on the responsible-with-and-grateful-for what I've been given train today.
Here we go.
One brown rice tortilla, heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, with a slathering of my beloved cashew butter (interpret "slathering" to be any amount you desire), plus a sprinkling (again, interpret as you see fit) of both chia seeds and ground flaxseed.
And some roasted butternut squash. (I make mine with olive oil and cinnamon. I think it tastes like pumpkin pie filling.)
I think it's a great combination of flavors, textures, and nutrition. (The chia seeds and ground flaxseeds really add nothing to the flavor profile, but I can use all I can get as far as energy goes lately, so in they go.) Try it if you want to.
I keep trying to convince my husband to believe me when I say, "Roasted butternut squash issoooo good." I usually stop myself and say, "why am I doing this?" Roasted squash does not last long in this house, and it's just me eating it right now.
I think about food alot. Eating it, making it, serving it. Who gets to eat and who doesn't.
I don't have it sorted out.
But I'm grateful for the inspiration I've been getting lately to explore the heart of the God I read about in the Bible, what real love looks like, and what's really important. I surely don't have it together, but my friends? I sure do want to learn.