Monday, September 16, 2013

We all need a hero

We all need a hero.

Even mamas.

My twins were just a week or so old. Screaming, squalling bundles of joy. Oh the irony.

My first day going solo. No mama, no mama in law, no husband. Me and Ryleigh and Kadence. Oh. Happy. Day.

I thought I could do it. Two babies. No problem. I got this. I mean it wasn't like these two babes were my first. I already had one baby...a hard baby at that.

I don't remember how it started. Or when. I remember how it ended.

I was sitting on my sofa, sleep deprived--it's a wonder I was able to even function--and so overwhelmed. I had a baby cuddled in a Boppie on either side of me, armed with bottles and a horde of burp rags to contain the reflux, and they were crying. In stereo.

I juggled one baby in one arm, burping, bottle in the other hand, feeding the other baby in the other Boppie. Babies crying. Not eating. Spit up, reflux everywhere. Rags soaking. My frustration spilling over in waves. Babies not eating. Crying. Screaming. Oh God. Help me.

I was crying. Tears running down my face as I looked at these two squalling, screaming, red faced people. What was God thinking? Didn't He know me better than this? I can't do this. There's no way I can do this. This is too much. I am outnumbered. In every way. Where's that verse...the one about not giving me more than I can handle lest I sin? Do You hear that God???

I remember shouting for them to stop crying. (I know, ridiculous right?). And then I remember throwing their half-empty bottles at the wall because I didn't know what else to do, and in my mind, at that moment, this was an entirely appropriate thing to do since the babies weren't drinking them. I found myself in the middle of a grown up temper tantrum.
I was at the end of my rope and God hadn't thrown me another one. Yet.

In the middle of my very undignified temper tantrum, right when I started wondering how I would get through the next five minutes, much less the next five hours, my house phone rang.

"Hello," I said, tremulously.

"Jamie, where have you been?" My mama. Demanding. Tense. Urgent. Relief washed over me followed by a sense of indignation at her tone.

"What do you mean where have I been? I've been here the whole time." My voice got louder and more unsteady with each syllable. Babies screaming in the background.

"I've been trying to call you all morning." What???!!!! "I texted you. I called your cell phone twice. You never called me back."

"Mom, I never got your text and there's no message on my cell phone and my cell has been next to me." My sobs make it hard to talk. Hard to breathe. You mean this could have ended earlier? My heart was hurting and my babies were screaming. Still.

"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Softer, gentler.

"No, I'm not okay. The babies are screaming. I can't make them happy. They won't eat. They won't sleep. They won't stop. I don't know how to make them happy. Why can't they be happy?"

"Why didn't you call me?"

"Because I was trying to do this on my own. I have to learn how to do this on my own."

Oh my heart breaks for the mamas who suffer from the expectation that we have to do this on our own.

"No Jamie, you don't. You don't have to do this on your own."

"But mom, I can't expect that people can help me day after day. These are my babies. I have to figure this out. I don't want to be a burden on anyone. You've already helped me so much. I didn't want to ask for more."

"No. When we found out you were pregnant with twins, I said that this was going to have to be a family project. We were going to have to do this together. As a family. Not you. You can't do this on your own and you don't have to. I'm coming up right now. I'll be there in 30 minutes."

"You don't have to mom. It's okay. I'll be okay." My words said one thing, my heart said another. Inside, the pressure lifted. The burden, the expectation, the fear, the oppression of having to do this piece of life on my own was replaced with grace.

"But that's just it. You don't have to be okay. You don't have to do this on your own. I'll be there in a few minutes."

The grace of mamas who have the wisdom of years in their souls is a salvation to others. My mama saved me that day. I was at the end of me. I was at the brink of fracturing into a bazillion broken bits that would be irreparable. I'm convinced it was no coincidence. My cell phone never registered any calls or texts from my mama on that day. Had I talked to my mama earlier than that broken place I was in, things would have ended so differently. The hard moments lead to healing places. The hard moments are often doorways that lead to other graces.

I held it together while my mama drove to my house to save me from myself. I didn't need saving from my babies. I needed to be saved from myself. From my preconceived notion that doing mama-things by myself would somehow make me a better mama, would mean I was a natural, would mean I was born to be a mama, would mean that other mamas would look at me and marvel at how suited I was to being a mama.

The truth is that no mama can really do it by herself.

My mama stayed with me that day. And she came back 4 days a week for 4 months, until I went back to work. Faithfully serving my family. Not because she had to. Because she wanted to. Even now, it's my mama who stands behind me on hard days, who offers her ear and not her judgment when I rant, who encourages and exhorts me when I think I've botched it good this time, who helps me to remember to laugh and look at my frustration with different eyes.

That moment was a defining moment, a grace-moment. I'm convinced that moment was orchestrated by the hand of God to free me from my own performance trap. To let grace win the day and not competition.

Yes, my mama is my hero.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Road That Leads To Awesome

On the first day of school I showed my students a video by Kid President Robby Novak. At nine years old, Robby has life wisdom and perspective that most of us lack. And being that Robby has osteogenesis imperfecta (his bones break easily) his outlook is all the more remarkable.

My purpose: To inspire and motivate my seniors to be more than what the world might expect. We are all on a road that leads to somewhere; why not be on the road that leads to awesome?

I wonder what would happen if we all attacked every day with even half of the passion and joy that Robby attacks his days. What would happen if we all woke up tomorrow and said, “Today, I’m taking the road that leads to awesome.”  Can you even imagine what that might look like?

Would it mean that in the drive thru at Starbucks I pay for my coffee and the lady’s behind me?

Would it mean that instead of yelling at the guy that runs the stop sign, I simply sigh and pray he might stay safe?

Would it mean that in that moment when I’m prompted to call my friend I haven’t talked to in three years that I actually do it?

Would it mean that I choose joy instead of anger? Gratitude instead of selfishness? Grace instead of judgment?

Would it mean that I graciously give my children my time and my patience when I have more “mom” jobs to do than time to do them in?

Would it mean that when my husband comes home late, I choose to be gentle and understanding rather than stingy and small?

Would it mean I see beyond the attitude of that senior in my English class to the struggle and heartache beneath?

Would it mean that I try to see with the eyes of Jesus instead of the eyes of Jamie?

Would it mean that I wake up and offer Jesus the control and authority over my day, instead of relying on my own strength and my own understanding?

Would it mean that I err on the side of grace and mercy instead of criticism and judgment?

Would it mean that I give a little extra to my church, trusting in God’s provision?

Would it mean that I choose to support a child through WorldVision or Compassion and sacrifice my weekly Starbucks run?

Would it mean that I choose things that are eternal over things that are not?

Would it mean that I come alongside a fellow Mom of Multiples and be her friend when things are really hard?

Would it mean that I choose to only say those things that will build others up and hold my tongue when I would rather tear someone small?

 Would it mean that I call my dear friend of three small boys whose husband will leave to go back to Iraq for 3 months in a few short days and offer her my time, my ear, my encouragement?

Would it mean that I make myself small so that Jesus might be made big in me?

Awesome isn’t in the big things. Awesome is in the details.

Awesome is a mindset, a choice we make every moment to be the best version of ourselves in that moment. To be Jesus with skin on.

Awesome is continually choosing the fruits of the Spirit, even when it’s so much easier to choose out of them.

Awesome is the single mom who sacrifices her free time to take her kids to soccer practice. And then goes home to make dinner, pack lunches, and put kids to bed. All by herself.

Awesome is the teacher who notices an underprivileged kid in her class and buys him his first brand new backpack. With her own money.

Awesome is the coach who teaches his players not just how to win the game, but also how to lose the game.

Awesome is the teenager who gets a job to support his family because his parents are unemployed. And still goes to school.

Awesome is the friend of mine who is struggling her way through infertility and inspires me with her courage and her perseverance, in spite of her tremendous sorrow.

Awesome is that kid who marches to the beat of his own drummer, who dances to a song of her own making, who wears her princess dress to the grocery store and her tutu to the park.

Awesome is the body of Christ who rallies around a family who has lost a child.

Awesome is the pregnant teenage girl who chooses life instead of death.

Awesome is the mom who lost a child and still gets up in the morning to take her other children to school.

Awesome is the girl who lost her leg and now makes jokes and laughs about life with a prosthetic.

Awesome is the woman who battled breast cancer and won.

Awesome is the single dad who does his daughter's hair in braids for her school pictures.

Awesome is that person who chooses to see the lonely person and sit next to her in church.

Awesome is everywhere. We just have to be looking for it. And when we open our eyes to see the awesome, we will also find ourselves a witness to grace.

Yeah. I wanna be on the road that leads to awesome.

Because really, why not?

Grace Always Rises,