Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Mommy Blog Post

This little man takes up my "free time" when I get home from work and on weekends. His cute little picture begins my "mommy blog post." His big brother will get a post to himself soon :) but right now, little Mr. Matthew takes up most of my time.

Here he is eating a cracker while I eat my food (and then put some dishes in to soak.)
 At one point, my goal was to write a blog post every week. Well, that didn't happen for two reasons. The first is that I thought my life didn't have any noteworthy (or should I say blogworthy) events to write about.

These last eight months, I got up during the night to feed my little guy, got myself ready for work and little man ready to go to Grandma's house for the day, went to work during the day, came home, fed little guy and did chores, then went to bed before getting up during the night to tend to little guy. In between all this, I spent time catching up with hub's day, keeping up on social media (mostly during my morning and evening commutes), and doing other random stuff such as writing in the baby book and doing errands. Hubs and I run errands together if he's home, or if I am able, I take the bus and light rail with my little guy if we're only getting a few things from the store.

The second reason I didn't blog much is because I didn't have time, and still don't really have time to blog. Right now, I  have dishes soaking in the sink, bottles soaking in the second bathroom sink, and the baby clothes / towels / burp cloths / bibs / items baby has spat up on laundry basket is full.

Yet, when I take a step back from all that, I realize my life now is an answered prayer to all the prayers my college student and young college grad self prayed during the lonely nights in the dorms and various apartments.

I wanted a husband, but I thought I was too messed up, not loving God enough, and not being obedient enough to earn the blessing of a Christian man pursuing a relationship with me.

I thought having or adopting kids would be a neat experience, but again, I needed a husband to do that and I also didn't know if I was healed enough from my past to take on the emotional responsibility of raising kids. Sure, I worked with kids in a volunteer capacity at my church, but raising them is so different.

Yet, God did His thing and here I am as a stepmom to a 12 year old boy and a mom to an 8 month old. I'm also a "working parent." At some point, I did want to be a stay at home mom, but I was raised to believe that being a mom who worked outside the home was just fine, and actually couldn't be avoided. I still like my job and my paycheck is necessary at this point. Maybe my house isn't as tidy as the homes of my friends and family members who don't work outside the home, but I've co see that we all love our kids equally.

I also realize that God really does give each of us more energy than we thought we had on our own. Sometimes I'm tired from work and want to snooze, but God gives me the energy to play with and crawl after my baby. Most mornings, I walk into work tired, but Praise Jesus for the law firm's coffee machine! God gives me the brain power to be coherent, especially that first hour at my desk.

When I take a step back from the day in and day out of my life, I am reminded that so many others want my life. I still have friends who are waiting for husbands and married friends who are waiting to conceive or adopt children. Realizing that my life is a gift is a reminder to pray for my friends who are waiting for these things. Prayer is not just "Oh, I hope someday they get these things and be happy." but prayer is asking God, on my friend's behalf, for His power to come into her life to either help her draw close to Him while she waits and, if it's His will, to provide my friend the blessing she's asked for in His timing and for His purposes.

Thinking about my life in that more complete perspective reminds me that my husband and I dedicated Matthew at church in February and promised to raise him to know Christ so that one day, by God's grace, he would accept Jesus as his savior and live out the Great Commission: Love God, Love People for Christ. Even at the crawling, bottles, burping, and diapers stage of Matthew's life, I can pray for him and the act of loving him will make him familiar with love so he will more fully understand God's true love.

All these things make the seemingly mundane tasks of chores, caring for a baby, and other tasks of being a working mom significant and yes, even blog post worthy.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Truth. Love. Truth

So if you, dear reader, have read through the very first part of my blog, you'll find that some of my posts really lash out against "the culture", more specifically academia. I haven't written much about those sorts of things mainly because I've been away from academia so long, but also because my views have changed.

What?

I still believe that The Bible is the true Word of God, Jesus died on the cross to redeem us and forgive us for our sins, that He shall return one day and make the world perfect, that Jesus is the representation of true Love, and that God is Creator.

I also have been wrestling with the realization that I probably made some pretty big mistakes when I went about convincing people of the above truths.

My initial Christian training went along the lines of what most would call fundamentalist Christianity, and our pastor talked a lot about how society has gotten gender and the family all wrong. This was rather pertinent as I was in the middle of getting my degree(s) in Human Development and Family Studies. Indeed, I saw that when a spouse put power ahead of loving and serving his family, the family unit was more at risk for domestic violence, divorce, marital conflict, etc. I say 'his' because most of the time, perpetrators of domestic abuse are men. I used the word 'spouse' in the above example because God intended for a man and a woman to marry and commit to each other to form the foundation of their family.

I still believe all that.

I also believed that when I talked to a person who identified as LGBT, I was to act friendly toward them, but my real intention was to get them to trust me enough so I could give them the low down on why God does not intend for them to live an LGBT lifestyle. I believed that a man was to provide for the family financially, and the woman was ideally a homemaker. I saw many families that made it work at my church in Fort Collins and thought, "Well, hey, they're happy, and they can homeschool their children, so cool." If I met a person who believed in old earth Evolution, I would watch for ways to get into that God is Creator conversation. If I met anyone who had a viewpoint other than mine, I was taught to be civil, but my ultimate goal was to convince them of the Christian viewpoint because if they knew Truth, they would know the Gospel and would eventually accept Christ.

I probably annoyed a lot of people. Looking back, I wonder if some people saw me as that nice sweet fundamentalist Christian HDFS girl from college. More seriously, I wonder how much my actions drove them toward or away from Christ.

After graduating from college, I had my own faith crisis of finding a human services job during a recession and without the ability to get a drivers' license. One would be surprised at how many entry level human services jobs require a driver's license. Makes sense if one is to visit families or child care sites etc. Someone should've told me that earlier, but that's a whole other blog post.

Anyway, my focus became less about sharing my faith on campus and more about working enough hours at a job I didn't like so I could pay rent, pay my student loans, and eat some food. I still clung to faith but it was hard.

Along the way, I found that a lot of people needed love first. As I have gotten further along in life and at the ripe age of 32 (!!), I found that a hug rather than a short apologetics lesson is what hurting people need. Not just being nice so you can share truth, but actual loving them. Social skills training for this nearly Aspie Christian also helped too.

When I met my sweet husband, I was right up against the old debate of family again. Do I write him off because he did family wrong, or do I give him a chance and let him tell his story first? I listened to God and He instructed me to do the latter.

With my stepson, I do my best to show him love so he can trust me as a parental figure. Only after I did that, did we have some small conversations about God, church, etc. Are there times where I slip up and get impatient with him if he's giving his dad attitude about going to church? Yup But there are also times when I have rubbed his back for some sensory input during the message or gently asked him to not prod his dad during the sermon. We have prayed about his homework and we have prayed for sweet hubs when sweet hubs goes to sing with the Sunday school classes leaving my stepson and I to attend service together.

My blog post title is Truth. Love. Truth. I'm grateful for the apologetics lessons I learned in college and how deeply we studied the Bible. I learned so much about God and wouldn't trade that for anything. Learning to balance sharing Truth in love has been the hardest part of my development as a Christian. My instinct is to just tell people the right answer if I believe they are wrong, and that's exactly what I did. However, I slowly learned that people need God's love. I've learned to lend a listening ear first before just spouting out Truth. But when the person is receptive and God says it's the right time, I will tell them Truth: Jesus loves them. If we get into a discussion about other issues, fine, but they need to know that the truth is out there and that truth is Jesus came to bring them perfect Love.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Worthiness in Success

Alright, I mentioned Hermione Granger twice in my last blog post, so I feel like I have to expand
upon why I relate to her character so much.

The Harry Potter series came out when I was in 7rh grade, so I joined my friends in reading along.

I could relate to Hermione Granger because she began the series finding her worth in her scholastic abilities. Her first interaction with Harry and Ron involves her demonstration of magic (in the movie verse, she fixes Harry's glasses.)

However, she realizes that her eagerness to demonstrate her knowledge in class becomes a liability because she's teased for it. Of course, that leads to the infamous scene where she's hiding in the bathroom crying for being teased during a troll attack.

We see more of her character develop as her friendship with the boys develops. She isn't just a student aiming to be the top of the class. She is now part of a friend group (The Golden Trio in the Harry Potter fandom) and values what they value especially when it comes to their role in vanquishing Lord Voldemort.

How does Hermione's character arc mimic mine, and why is it relevant to my spiritual growth?

For most of my childhood and teenage years, I had several major things working against my self-esteem: I felt like my health problems, vision limitations, and early setbacks around my adoption were weighing on my mom and because I couldn't solve them, I felt responsible for her sadness around these issues. I was also bad in gym and the less than chivalrous boys would tease me for that. The only tangible evidence that I could achieve what normal kids achieved was scholastic performance. If I got straight A's (or close to it), maybe that would make up for the limitations due to my severe nearsightedness and nystagmus. If I made the honor roll and brought home a ribbon, trophy, or certificate that said "Top of the class," I would maybe make my mom proud enough to make her forget the sadness that the rest of my development caused her.

Like Hermione's character, my narrative turned around when I met some friends in high school that were by my side no matter what. I started to develop more self-esteem. In college, this trend continued when I met some girls in my dorm that were part of a college group at a local church. They didn't care that I couldn't drive or that I needed help if they wanted to explore the campus at night. They helped me get around and they didn't care that I was a premed nerd and would geek out about class even on the weekends.

They introduced me to Jesus in a more personal way. I always believed I had to be a better person and try harder to get closer to God, but God extends His grace and love freely to us because Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross for us.

This was a love I didn't have to work for.

Now that I didn't have to work to earn God's love, anything I did for others in His name was out of sincere love and wanting to do good and not just to earn His favor. I did stuff like service projects and mission trips in college not for myself, but to truly help others.

Do I sometimes feel like I need to earn God's love still? Sometimes. More, I feel like I need to earn God's blessing if I want something, but just like Ron and Harry stood by Hermione's side no matter what, I'm learning that God is with me no matter what and what I do for Him or not doesn't make Him bless me any more or less because He loves His children equally. Christ's sacrifice was enough for all of us.

If I want go grow as a Christian in character or work on memorizing a verse of the Bible or something like that, worth in my success in this area should not  be my motivator. Because God loved me and sent His son for me to bridge the gap between man and God, I no longer have to have to succeed in any task to attain love.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Question that made me go "huh."

Last Friday, the boys, hubs, and I were at the Kids' Night of Worship (NOW) at Southeast. We thought Daniel would enjoy it since it was geared more toward kids. Matthew enjoyed looking at all the lights in the room, the kids and stage crew dancing, and the music. Daniel did more watching than participating, but that's his style. I've learned that Daniel does participate by observation even if he isn't actively involved.

Anyway, the youth pastor asked the kids if they could fill in the blank. "The one thing God wants us to do is ________." Daniel looked at me and I asked him if he knew it. He shrugged, but my mind filled in the blank with "Obey and know the Truth."

The pastor followed up by saying, "The one thing God wants us to do is believe."

What? Daniel was still thinking about the answer, but my answer wasn't what the pastor had said. Granted, the sermon was geared toward kids ages 5 - 14, but still, he had to boil theology down to the very basics, and God wanting us to believe is a very basic piece of theology.

"Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." John 6:29 (NIV)

Well, there ya go. But that makes sense. We believe in God and then we worship in spirit and in Truth because Christ is the way, the Truth and the Light. We also obey because we believe and are connected to Christ who transforms us (John 15:5, Romans 12:1-2).

So, if belief is the core component of theology, why did I automatically think of "truth" and "obey" as the things God wants the most from us? Or, the Hermione Granger part of my brain asks, "Why did I get the question only partially right, or at the very worst, wrong?"

And why does it matter? It matters because of the little guy that was my arms and the little guy young middle schooler standing next to me that evening. As Matthew's mom and as Daniel's stepmom, I have an influence on their faith and they look to me for spiritual guidance (Ok, Daniel does. Matthew just likes snuggles in church for now). If I want to guide them down the right path, I have to have a solid foundation myself.

Why is it easier to say God wants us to obey and know Truth than it is to say that God wants us to believe? Well, there are rewards for obedience and the Hermione Granger in us enjoys the recognition that comes with knowing something well. Obedience can be measured: I was patient the last three times I waited in line. My co-worker jabbered my ear off again and I didn't snap at her. Knowledge is measurable: I memorized half a chapter today. Belief is less measurable. You either believe that Christ died for our salvation and rose from the dead to give us new life, or you don't. Belief can be demonstrated in outward signs such as baptism, character growth, and good works, but it is definitely harder to grasp.

I think from a developmental standpoint, it's easier to explain to kids that God wants us to be kind, so share your toys, God made the world in six days and on the seventh He rested. These are easier for kids with less abstract thought to digest. I think that's why we start with these. Those aren't wrong, but I could see why a kid would see "obey" and "know Truth" as foundational if they were introduced to those ideas first and then salvation by grace as a gift of God's love as an added bit of truth. I think I was raised in a church that leaned a bit more toward obedience and knowledge as a means to come to God and His grace was less emphasized.

As a parent, I must remind both boys that Jesus loves them and always start there.

Daniel has accepted the basic premise of salvation and chose to be baptized a few weeks ago as a symbol that he accepted Christ's death on the cross for his sins and has been brought to new life in His resurrection. Daniel will understand this truth and all its implications as he develops greater abstract thought, learns more about his faith, and connects with God in deeper ways. I want to facilitate this connection as much as I want to give him little nuggets of theology to learn, and again, that starts with reminding Daniel that Jesus loves him.

Little Matthew's church experience is purely sensory: the lights from the stage, the music, hearing different people talk, but I whisper to him that Jesus loves him. My hope is that some of his early memories, among those of a warm loving home, are those of his parents telling him that God loves him and that will plant the seeds for him to seek out and accept God's love as he gets older.

Lord, help me to grow deeper in knowing Your love and Your grace so that I may grow closer to You. Please use me to draw the boys closer to You as that is my prayer for their lives.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spiritual Equlibrium: The Reboot

Rebooting is so this century! DC Comics are rebooting Justice League (from way back in the day) Star Wars is doing episodes 7 - 9, and Star Trek just completed its trilogy for its reboot.

Oh, and I'm turning into a geek being married to Bri-Bri and helping him raise Daniel who is also a geek in training thanks to his dad.

Justice League: With a Polynesian Guy!

Star Wars: The Force is strong with strong women!

Star Trek: The New Cast, but Leonard Nimoy cameos here and there

Anyway, I decided to get back into blogging. I took a hiatus because I was tired, nauseous and pregnant. Then I took another hiatus because I was getting accustomed to life with a newborn.

So, why the reboot? Well, why did any of the above franchises reboot? Um.... Revenue!

I'm not looking to monetize the blog right away, but I am getting back into the habit of writing to at some point publish a book of some kind. There is no spoiler alert for that one because I honestly have no idea about the particulars.

Anyway, the other reason the franchises rebooted was because someone on staff thought they could take the existing universe (DC, Star Wars, or Star Trek) and do some new creative things with it.

I am also taking this existing blog and doing some creative things with it such as:

  • Parenting dimension: I'm not switching it over to it being a parenting narrative blog, but my parenting experiences will most definitely be incorporated.
  • Spiritual Lessons Learned: Most of the posts were drafted and published during my time in my college youth group. Though I continue to learn and grow in my faith, I have seen ways that those lessons have continued to serve as a guide to how I go about my faith journey as a paralegal, wife, mom, and stepmom.
  • More thoughts on Adoption: I did start a dedicated blog on that, but then life happened. I want to incorporate more of how my identity as an adoptee influences how I view my parenting, how I view my son and stepson's development, and even how I view some current events. Obviously, posts on here will incorporate a Christian point of view, whereas I don't think my posts on my other blog have done so in an overt way.
So, yeah. I'm aiming for a blog post a week. Sometimes there will may be more, sometimes life with a baby, stepson, and husband will completely take over and I might not post. But, my goal is to be as consistent as possible.

May the reboot be with me!
Blog long and prosper!

And yes, the geek tie-ins will certainly continue!
(Pictures on this blog post were pulled from Google Images.)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Three Months Raising a Baby

 

Well on September 7, 2016, Matthew was born! Since then, he keeps me busy with his feedings, diaper changes, and play or snuggle time.

My maternity leave was four weeks long, but I have been able to work at home two days a week for these past two months, so I am very grateful to my employer for that! I'm also thankful for my baby slings that my friends gave me for a baby shower because little Matthew can snuggle against me while I sit at my laptop and work.

Everyone asks me how I like being a mom. Well, I've been a stepmom for two years and I like that, but I think being a full time mom to Matthew is nice too. I will be glad when I can sleep through the night because he has outgrown the need for midnight snacks, I like holding him and recently I've been treated to his little smiles after meals or when I talk to him. Do I enjoy that? Oh yes, I do!

Daniel is a really good big brother! He pushes Matthew in his stroller when all my guys and I go on outings and he keeps Matthew company in the back seat of the car. I make sure to chat with Daniel specifically about his life and that's easy when Matthew is dozing in my arms. I can just sit on the couch or in the living room and chat with my stepson.

Is life perfect with Matthew? Nope. Sometimes he fusses when we put him in his bassinet because he'd rather be held, and sometimes he spits up or wets or soils an outfit that I just put him in. Thankfully, he has not had bouts of colic or anything where he cries for hours. He just fusses when he's hungry or when Bri-Bri or I must put him down to sleep or to attend to something.

Anyway, that's my update!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

6 months of growing a human!


Well, I've been away from the blogsphere for a while, but for a good excuse! 

In February, I found out that I was pregnant. I was home from work due to an epic snowstorm and I thought, "Well, I've been feeling a bit off lately, I wonder if there's something up with me." So, I took a pregnancy test and lo and behold, it came back positive. 

Bri-Bri was sweet and understanding when I told him even when I was scared. He reminded me that God was in control. He also was excited and asked me if I felt excited. Honestly, my first response was that my mom would worry about us being unprepared for parenthood. Good friends reminded me that no one is really prepared and that made me feel a little better :)  

Small baby bump
Bri-Bri made me smile even on rough days!
The First Trimester

Growing a human and riding the light rail don’t always play well together, as in I got motion sickness the first few times I rode the light rail after eating a normal breakfast. After I began eating more of my breakfast at work, I wasn’t disembarking the train and running to the nearest trash can.

Thanks to being nauseous, I didn't eat much, so I slept a lot. Bri-Bri was sweet and would come in an check on me as I burrowed under the covers. Even before I got my visible bump, he was already telling me how strong I was with growing a baby and how proud he was of me taking care of the baby by eating healthy (when I could) and taking my prenatal vitamins.

The first trimester was also the time I worried a lot. I told my mom that she would be a grandma and she was a bit worried about how we’d manage with a baby and with Daniel and living in a 2 bedroom place with no 3 bedroom house or apartment lined up in  the near future. Bri-Bri assured me that we would begin looking for a place and if not, he was already brainstorming on where we could fit a little crib in our room. 

So, basically, I was nauseous, tired, and worried during a lot of my first trimester.

However, I still had happy moments. Seeing lil’ baby on the eight week ultrasound was pretty cool! It looked like a little lump, so for about four weeks, it had the nick-name “baby lump” or “lumpy.” Bri-Bri could see where its little heart was beating because he saw a flashing dot on our little lump that the nurse pointed out was a little heart.

Second Trimester

The nausea went away woo hoo!!! More importantly, we got to see baby at the 12 week ultrasound! It was moving around a bit and I thought I saw it opening and closing its little hands. It moved in response to Bri-Bri speaking and that was super cute! At 16 weeks, we heard the little heart beat!

Also at 16 weeks, I started to get a “bitty baby bump” which Bri-Bri quickly nick-named the baby “bip.” He would talk to it when he would kiss my stomach and that was really sweet!

At about 20 weeks, I occasionally felt little flutters and thumps happening beneath my belly-button. Baby was moving and from then on, I have felt more frequent thumps or wiggles or little movements in there.

At the 24 week ultrasound, we found out our little baby boy was healthy! The first thing I said to Bri-Bri when the tech told us that we were having a boy was, “You’re teaching him to go potty, dear.” Daniel’s face was priceless when we told him because he was grinning and it was way too cute!

Entering the Third Trimester

Most notably, our little guy is on the move a lot more. Even as I type this blog post, I feel him bumping against the edge of my  computer which is gently resting on my (shrinking) lap and his little home. Yesterday we got to hear his heartbeat again. The obstetrician said both he and I were healthy!

I am also hungry a lot more. Case in point, I’m snacking on some wheat bread and peanut butter before dear Hubby warms up some Marie Calendar lasagna. Little guy needs fuel for his last in utero growth spurt!


Bri-Bri, Baby boy bump, and I!

Hopes and dreams for our little guy! 

Obviously, our hope is that he comes to faith in Christ and accepts Christ for his salvation. My hope is that he can come to us and other trusted adults with questions as he gets older and figures out what it means to have a belief system and code of ethics etc. 

I hope that he understands the power of resilience. As much as Bri-Bri and I would like to, we can't shield him from the hardships in this world. We hope that he wouldn't have any major catastrophes in childhood or in any stage of life that would impact his development later on, but we can't protect him from everything. Bri-Bri and I can share how our hardships tested our faith in God and gave us an opportunity to see Him work even in the hard times. We can also share how God has used us to help others who were going through similar hard times. We can show him that struggles in life can lead to someone being more empathetic. Of course, if he needs to vent about his situation or just needs a hug, we're there too! 

We both hope he sees Daniel as a good big brother and role model as Daniel will be 12 a few months after the baby is born. I also hope that I can maintain my connection with Daniel as his stepmom and reassure him that I don't love him any less even though I didn't carry him in me. During one conversation, I told Daniel that I carried him in my heart in a way once Bri-Bri and I were engaged because I knew he would become my stepson. That "carried in my heart" phrase was borrowed from a sappy adoption related pin on Pinterest, but hey, it's cool! 

Of course, as middle class American parents, we want our little guy to get a good education, make wise decisions about college (don't get into crazy student loan debt, choose a course of study that will make you happy and make you an income), and become financially independent. He doesn't have to be making six-figures, but we'd like him to be able to pay his bills, save for retirement, and provide for a family as a primary or equal breadwinner. 

Speaking of family, we'd be overjoyed to be at his wedding where he has found the love of his life, but we hope we can convince him to wait on God's timing and to find a spouse that truly loves him for who he is and I know Bri-Bri would want to teach him how to be a good spouse too. If he wanted to date someone who already had kids, I'd have input on how to love the kids of the person you love and how to trust God to grow your heart for their little family. 

Trusting God with this little guy's life and being a parent is going to be challenging, but God will give us grace, and all my parent friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, inlaws, and my mom would all say it is worth it!