Expanding

I find it interesting that when people find out you’re about to become a mother for the very first time, they will often say things like, “Get ready to never sleep again!” or “Life as you know it is over! It’s all about the baby now!”

While it may be true that every mom sleeps less and that so much of their life revolves around the baby, I find these statements to be untrue and misleading. They always sounds so foreboding and ominous. It is a fact that I sleep MUCH LESS than I did before, and some friends of mine who are mothers sleep even less than I do since our little guy has always been an abnormally great sleeper. I also think about Travis and his well being every second of my day.

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For instance, the past couple of weeks Travis has had a cough that has kept the both of us awake off and on throughout the night. After such erratic sleep, I still have to wake up around 5am, nurse him, get myself ready for work, pack the gazillion bags I now tote everywhere, commute 45 minutes to work, work for 8 hours or so while taking 2 breaks at work to pump, commute back, pick up Travis from daycare, nurse him again, make a healthy dinner since Chad and I are trying to be healthier, do dishes/wash bottles, throw a load of laundry in, get Travis ready for bed, nurse him again, and lay him down to sleep while I read homework for my graduate class while trying to keep my eyes open. (Disclaimer: Chad helps SO much in all of this busyness with the exception of nursing!)

What message wasn’t portrayed to me leading towards becoming a mother for the first time was how very joyous these things, among others, would be. When my boy wakes up from a coughing fit, he wants ME. He snuggles sweetly into my chest and immediately calms down. His breathing softens and deepens until we’re both back to sleep…at least until the next coughing fit. When I wake him up in the morning to nurse, he gives me the biggest sweetest smiles that remove all the exhaustion from my mind. I smile back with a soft, but enthusiastic, “Good morning, handsome!” When I pick him up from daycare, his eyes light up again. Someday soon he will reach his arms towards me and say, “Mama!” because we belong to each other. When I am giving Travis a bath, or reading him a book, or putting lotion on his dry winter skin before placing him in a clean pair of soft jammies, he wraps his chubby little fingers around my thumb and ‘talks’ to me about his day. He is my boy.

These things are incredibly exhausting, but – as everyone says – absolutely worth it. What has been the most unexpected thing is feeling as if who I am has expanded. I have not been replaced with a new version of myself; I have expanded to become something more than I once was. It is difficult to explain, but I still feel so much like myself and like someone else new on top of that. I am still a wife, a friend, a sister, a student, etc. I am just now also a mother on top of those things. I was tired before and I am tired now, but I am somehow now able to function better than I could have imagined on very little sleep. I am not just Travis’ mother; I am Tasha. Adding mother to the growing list of things that make up who I am has only expanded what I am capable of and it’s so much more than I thought was possible.

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It’s true that I hold more tightly onto my free time than before because I have less of it and that my priorities have understandably shifted, but that is mainly a dual combination of motherhood and graduate school – neither are for the weak! It used to bother me so much when people would say that being a mother is the greatest calling God could ever ask a woman to do. What an isolating and discouraging statement for those women who cannot have children of their own or who choose not to.

As many of you know, for the past 4 years I wasn’t sure if I would ever have my own children. The women in my life who haven’t or who have chosen not to are extraordinary women! They are passionate and ambitious and contributing so much to the world. Being a mother shouldn’t be this glorified status symbol that graduates someone to being a ‘real woman.’ Being a mother is just another role that some people get to add to the ever growing aspect of who they are. If I had never gotten pregnant, I would still be me and capable of doing extraordinary things for God and this world. I am still me; I am just also joyously responsible for loving and raising a chubby little 20lb version of myself (and Chad!) to be the best young man he can possibly be.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am surprised that I am still me. People made it seem like I would lose myself in motherhood, but I feel as if the opposite has happened and I feel more like myself than ever before. I still love to read. I still love to create and to write. I still love cats and to travel. I still struggle with all the same flaws I had before and I still value the same things I have always valued. I don’t just want to sit and talk about my baby all the time and nothing else – I’ve never wanted to be that person… But you can bet that the best part of my day now is getting off of work and picking up my sweet little boy and kissing his face.

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The journey to motherhood has made me stronger and becoming a mother has expanded who I am and what I am capable of….. It is certainly one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is also one of the best things to have ever happened to me. It is a joyous gift, but not something I can place on a pedestal as some kind of ultimate achievement of identity or success. The only thing I can glorify is who I am in Christ. He is everything. I can’t be a mother without Him. I can’t be anything without Him. All that is mine – including Travis – belongs to Him and I don’t want to glorify what He has given me, but rather I want to glorify who He is through these things. He has expanded me to be and do more.

Travis is my gift, but Christ is my treasure.

 

The Other Side

So here I am on the other side.

The other side of a very long uphill climb looking back down on the path I’ve traveled and enjoying the view from the top. I haven’t had much to write about this year because I was internally processing the avalanche of emotions and thoughts I was feeling during my pregnancy, Travis’ birth, and my glorious 12 weeks of maternity leave. I was journaling, but not sure what I wanted to put out here on my blog.

Let me just say this:
It was so very worth the wait.

Despite the struggle.
Despite the heartache.
Despite the depression.
Despite it all.

I know that is cliché.
I know.

Cliché or not, it is undeniably true and I don’t know another way to say it.

It doesn’t mean the memory of the pain is faint or extinguished. I still remember how I felt at this moment last year wishing I could muster up a reason to feel gratitude at Thanksgiving and not feeling one ounce of it despite my best efforts. I remember dreading the oncoming Christmas holiday and that unspoken feeling of inadequacy that came only from my own, self-inflicted condemnation. In the midst of suffering, hope and joy were buried in a darkness so thick I could hardly to breathe.

But oh the joy of the other side!
And the memory of the journey to get to this point is still so vivid and has flooded my heart with compassion, grace, and prayers for those still climbing.

Last December, right before I saw those long-coveted two pink lines indicating my life was about to change forever, I remember writing a post about the meaning behind my new tattoo. (A tattoo I got while pregnant without realizing it! Haha)  You can read that post here, if you’d like

I am referencing that post because it was so timely and spot on with where I was and where I was about to be. Coming out of the darkness I was in to a light so bright and so beautiful that I now truly feel like laughing because of how different everything feels. The darkness did not cling to me, but was washed away by this new light. When I thought I would never see light again, it came suddenly and was brighter than I could have ever imagined.

This is how Jesus saves.
Not by rules and religious regimentation.
Not by condemnation and shame.

Jesus loves by entering your darkest time, reassuring your heart of His presence, and bringing you gently and joyfully into the light.

Hard times are inevitable, but Jesus is our hope.
I will go through dark times again I am sure, but this experience has changed me entirely. I cannot forget how close and how secure I felt in Jesus’ arms in the midst of my pain. I cannot forget how in His grace and mercy he didn’t answer my prayers for a baby right away, but instead gave me Himself. He is the answer to my pain. He is prized possession. He is my hope and my reward. When the next hard season comes, I will know where to turn and Who to lean on.

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– – –

Some of my favorite pictures of the past 3 months of my baby boy!
He is such a delight! 🙂

Tick Tock

I am finding it very difficult lately over the past few weeks to not feel overcome with anxiety over everything that still needs to get done. I feel like I can only do 1/2 of what I’m typically capable because I become so exhausted so much more quickly. I also feel that every time we accomplish something on our massive to-do list, 3 more things get added.

Is this normal?

I am 26 weeks as of today and the nursery has not even been touched because we have so many other things to finish before we can be ready to start putting the nursery together. Between working full time at a job that has its own daily, never-ending demands and all the projects we have going on, I feel overwhelmed that we’re falling dangerously behind and running out of time.

Is 26 weeks really that late to still not have anything done with the nursery?? Because people keep asking me if I have the nursery “all set up” and every time they ask me that I feel a growing sense of anxiety that lately reduces me to tears without warning…

I need Jesus to be my peace and my help…. I try to center myself in Him and find my strength in Him…  But I’m still getting stressed and still crying at a moment’s notice when something else is either added to my to-do list or delays checking something off my list….

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Joy Comes in the Morning

We just bought a crib and dresser for our son.

It has been a long time since I have written and so much has changed. My last post ironically was about my new tattoo and the meaning behind it to remind my heart to have courage in fearful times because once I am out of the darkness I will realize that with God holding me there was never anything be afraid of at all. What a beautiful thought, right?

Excerpt from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was in my last post:

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.”

And that is exactly how I feel right now…. as I feel this sweet baby boy doing flips in my belly.

We cannot see in the darkness. We cannot know for sure where we are going or what is going to happen. We fear the worst and try to hold onto hope with weak and shaking hands. It is only once we have left the darkness and step into a new season of life and hope that we’re able to look back on the dark times and see every single breathtaking second that God was with us. Eventually the darkness dissipates and we can see more clearly.

Joy comes in the morning indeed.

There are a lot of songs on Christian radio right now that make me change the station because they don’t have a ton of depth or they’re just plain annoying. To be honest, most of the annoying songs are by Mandisa (which I know a lot of people like??), but there was a song on the radio a few days ago by her that captured my heart…..  it said:

“When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger… stronger.
The pain ain’t gonna last forever and things can only get better
Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I have heard this song before, but it really hit me this time. I have been held in the arms of my Savior while going through one of the hardest times in my life thus far and I can look back now and see how it made me stronger. I am a stronger person and I will be a stronger mom for having experienced the grief of infertility.

Hard times are inevitable and I will probably experience hard times again in my lifetime. Suffering does not discriminate and pain continually finds everyone…but hope and peace and deep, unshakable joy can only come from Christ. Everything else used to pacify pain and suffering is temporary and shallow.

The only way to get through suffering and find purpose in it, is to experience your pain while leaning into the arms of the One who can wipe away every single tear…. a mere glimpse into the life to come.

– – –

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ….”
Romans 5:3-6
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“Courage, Dear Heart…”

When Chad asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I don’t think he thought I was serious when I said I wanted a new tattoo. 🙂

I got my last tattoo nearly 10 years ago in March of 2005, but I have been thinking about getting a 2nd one for the past 2 years or so.

I don’t tend to get things permanently affixed to my body unless they’re thoroughly thought out and have significant meaning to me. I spent a while trying to think of a great way to not only reflect on the growth I have experienced over the past 3 years, but to also reflect the positive change in my heart as I look ahead to the future.

I stumbled upon this quote on Pintrest by one of my favorite authors: C.S. Lewis and realized how perfect it was.
(I also used it in a blog post not too long ago!)

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This quote is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

The context is this:

Lucy and the others are on a ship heading into dark, unknown waters. Everyone is scared and worried that Aslan had led them in the wrong direction. (Oh, wow! How many times I have had this very thought!)

At one point in the midst of some turmoil, Lucy whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”

After she whispers this, C.S. Lewis so perfectly writes:

“The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better.
‘After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,’ she thought.” 

Then Lucy hears a whisper in reply: “Courage, dear heart” and she knew it was Aslan whispering to her.

I just love this part of the book so much because so often in my life, and probably in yours too, life seems dark and full of turmoil. How many times have we questioned where God was in the midst of our confusion, our fear, and our pain?

Those that don’t know the voice of God shake their fists to the heavens and cry out – demanding a reply and a rescue! What I have come to learn slowly, but surely over the past several years is that God is so very near to the broken-hearted. He is a breath away and has not abandoned us. Sometimes the darkness remains around us, but his gentle whisper calms our fears and comes to us in our pain.

The call to have courage is a steep one.

Courage is not easily grasped.
Courage means that when your circumstances don’t change at all that you still trust, you still hope, and you still believe.
Courage waits for that quiet voice to whisper and calm our hearts when our world spins out of control.
Courage knows that a brighter day is coming and that our response should just be to take our Father’s hand as he leads us through and eventually out of the darkness.

After Lucy hears Aslan whisper to her to have courage, Lewis goes on to write:

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.”

This is exactly the hope that I cling to…That after all this darkness has passed me, that I will find myself in a place more beautiful and more bright than I could have ever dreamed possible. I am not there yet, but I know that day is getting closer…

It takes courage for me to keep hoping.
It takes courage for me to keep dreaming and believing.
It takes courage for me to undergo a procedure or stick myself in a needle for medicine to help me ovulate.
It takes courage to try again and again.
It takes courage for me to fight the bitterness that so often threatens to rear it’s ugly head.
It takes courage for me to tune out the voices of those who speak against the hope my heart clings to.
It takes courage for me to trust that He knows why I am here and He knows where I am going even when I cannot see.

My first tattoo was meant to be a reminder to me that love is difficult, selfless, and requires sacrifice. It was a reminder not only of Christ’s loving sacrifice for me, but the loving sacrifice he calls me to show others.

In the past few years, with all that I have gone through and all that still lies before me, I want the reminder of this difficult season, the reminder of the strength I’ve found in Him, and the reminder of the hope He gives me to be permanent:

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Click here to read the full excerpt from Chap. 12 of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Love is Patient

Several weeks ago, I made a mistake. I got impatient with the way my life was. I got impatient with someone. I wanted more than I was being given and I was exhausted from being in a season of want and wait for years. I word vomited and immediately regretted it. These things happen. However, like all things of this nature, once it was “out there” I could not pull it back. It has been weighing on me ever since.

Have you ever made a mistake and said or written things that you wished you could take back? Have you ever let the ugliest parts of you be seen and it was not received very well and everything seemed irreversibly different since then? Have you ever wished for more, longed for more, dreamed of more, and felt the ache of that longing? Have you ever felt misunderstood or have you ever misunderstood someone else?

Have you ever not loved someone as well as you should?

I have been thinking so much about love lately.


I have a family that can’t seem to love each other longer than a few days.
It feels hopeless.

I have friends who I love with my entire being and who love me back right where I am for exactly who I am.
It is beautiful and precious.

I have a husband who I try to love so very well, but because we live together I
often make mistakes or say things I wish I could take back.
Thankfully, he makes mistakes too and we both try to be intentional about
forgiving each other every single time, no matter what.

I have friends with completely different love languages than me.
It is a struggle to remember that others give and receive love differently than I do
and I fail often to allow them to love me in their own way.

I have people I could love so much better than I do.
Jesus, help me love like you do.


You see….my struggle sometimes is that love is so entirely sacrificial and can, therefore, become so entirely unbalanced by either party. Yet the sacrifice requires a gracious heart that endures the imbalance and loves others anyway.

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A lot of people make a big deal about “boundaries” and “setting expectations” so that they don’t get taken advantage of. I agree with this in part and then disagree with this as well. If someone is being abusive to you, then absolutely you should set up boundaries and distance yourself from them. You are precious and under no circumstances do you deserve to be verbally, emotionally, mentally, sexually, or physically abused.

However, I disagree with setting boundaries just when you don’t get what you feel is owed to you – what you feel you deserve. Grace, love, and mercy are given to you freely without you having to do anything to earn them. You don’t deserve them. You’re not owed them. They’re just yours when you agree to receive them. Christ laid down his life for the people who mocked and scourged him. They rejected him and he gave. Grace is relentless and unwavering.

I LOVE this C.S. Lewis quote that so encapsulates the sacrificially loving and patient heart of God towards us:

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Do you know what 1st Corinthians lists as the 1st attribute of love?? Patience.

Love is patient.

Love waits for people.
Love waits for the reward, even if it will only come after this life has faded away.
Love is gracious and understanding when people don’t love you well.
Love is being patient with yourself when you fail to love people patiently.
Love is beginning each day with a heart that CHOOSES to remain open, humble, loving, and hopeful.
Love doesn’t give up on people just because they’re not meeting your expectations.
Love isn’t demanding.

So today, I will choose to be patient with others and with myself.
I will pray to become more patient. More gracious. More understanding of others. More willing to wait.

I will wait in hopeful expectation for deeper intimate friendships, for family peace, for the child I long to hold in my arms, for the day when I will see my Granny once again, and for the coming of the One who can settle all the turmoil and chaos of longing in my heart with just one glance of His eye. I will choose to love despite my shortcomings and despite the shortcomings of others. I will not lose heart even though that would be so very easy to do. I will not waver in my faith even though the circumstances around me mock me with their unmet expectations.

I will try my best, despite my failings, to love patiently through His strength as He enables me to give this gracious, patient love to others even when I feel depleted and empty. I will give all of me and He alone will fill me.

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The Rain

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The Lord is doing something in me that is difficult, painful, and more precious and beautiful than I deserve.
I know He is because for the past several weeks I have felt on edge and highly unsettled.

I have been anxious and sensitive.
Not that the struggles of the past 3 years hasn’t made me more sensitive already, but this is a little more than that.
The slightest things that I would have easily shaken off in the past have sent me running to my car on a lunch break to choke back tears, lecture myself on the art of getting it together, and reapply my make up.

One misinterpreted look or the lack of acknowledgement altogether.
One single word unknowingly misplaced and insensitively delivered.
One minute too long to sit and dwell and gradually begin to hear the not-so-subtle whispering lies to my heart that strike cords with my deepest fears and insecurities.

The past several weeks I have felt shaken and I haven’t really been able to pinpoint the moment or circumstance that started this process. I just know that because of it, I haven’t felt like myself lately. I sometimes feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Maybe it is because I started a new job and I am still trying to figure out where I fit/belong and where I can find some consistent intrinsic purpose in my work as a lowly admin.
Maybe it is the fact that my sweet Granny isn’t here anymore and any time I think of Christmas, hear an Elvis song, or walk into a craft/fabric store my eyes instantly well up with tears.
Maybe it is because I am navigating the waters of a new friendship and those waters are both simultaneously joyous and murky.dancing-in-the-rain (1)

Or maybe… perhaps a big part of it… it is just because ever since I found out that it would most likely be a long and difficult journey until my achingly empty arms would be filled only by God’s faithful gracious mercy, I have struggled every single day of that journey to feel like I belonged somewhere….. anywhere.

Yet, this is the tender place where I find my heart and my thoughts with God. When I come to Him in these moments of restlessness and insecurity….I am realizing once again that my sense of belonging shouldn’t be in tied to these roles I identify with.
I may be a wife, sister, daughter, or friend, but when it comes down to it:  I am HIS. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

The roles I identify with are not the true me. They are only the costumes I will wear for a short time in this life. The type of wife, sister, daughter, and friend I am to others matters, but only because other people matter.
Love matters.
These roles do not define me and should not determine my happiness.
Jesus and who He is determines that.
He determines everything.

It will take a significant amount of rain to wash away all of my expectations, my perceptions, my needs, my wants, my entitlements, and my identity.

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” – John Updike

The struggle over the past several years has been to let go of my identity as a mother. Not giving up on the dream, but not letting the lack of this role define me.
I have wanted to be a mother since I was 3 and carried around more baby dolls than I ever did Barbie dolls.

Every single day I battle an onslaught of reminders that reinforce the fact that I am not a mother.

The onslaught on my heart includes things like not being invited to a friend’s house to hang out because it is more of a ‘play date’ and I am not a mother. You have nothing to contribute or offer.
It includes people at church wondering why I volunteer in children’s ministry if I don’t have children. What could you possibly know about children?
It includes Facebook photos and updates for everything child-related under the sun. Look! I am living the life you can only dream of.

And so much more.download

But I hear my Beloved whispering over the sound of the storm…You are mine.

I am His.

I spent most of my 20’s trying to discover who I was and why I am the way I am. I spent many nights journaling every single heartache, confusion, and question in my soul. I spent hours talking with counselors and mentors, trying to navigate from the rocky waters of my childhood, so I could discover who I was and how to successfully join society. I learned so much about who I was, my personality (INFP!), how to love others well, and where I fit in. I felt confident and whole for the first time in my life.

Now that I am working my way through my 30’s and battling infertility, all of that confidence and self-identification is being stripped down off of me. Not that I am back to where I was in my early 20’s necessarily, but more so that Jesus is lovingly – yet painfully – peeling back the layers of who I am so as to make room for more of Him.

As backwards as it may seem, I can see God using even something as broken and ugly as infertility to birth peace, wholeness, and life in me. Infertility has made me realize (slowly!) more and more that this life does not matter as much as we act like it does.

I am learning little by little that I do not love people because I have learned how to be a good friend.
I love people because Christ loves them: passionately, vulnerably, whole-heartedly – no matter what it costs.
(And You know what? Loving people is not for sissies! Loving people is raw and real and requires so much of you with the expectation of so very little in return. The truth is…. people don’t owe you their time, their gifts, their support, or their love. But love gives and gives anyway and Jesus fills those spaces in us that we have given away, so that we can give more.)

I am learning that being a friend/sister/daughter/cousin/niece/etc may be much different and more difficult than what I wish it was, but my Savior wants me to be His hands and feet to others no matter what I receive in return.  So if that means lonely weekends, chronic family conflict that never seems to heal, and never feeling quite like I belong, then so be it. I belong to Jesus. Starting to learn this doesn’t fix the issues, but it makes the burden a little bit lighter.dancing-in-the-rain

I am learning that being a mother is so much more than physically birthing a child. Maybe in this life that is what defines it. Maybe in this life people will say, “You can never understand what it is like until you have had your own.” Well, maybe that is true and maybe it isn’t. But I do know that Jesus created the heart of a mother and He can create one in me. I may have babies of my own one day and I may not. I may adopt as many kids as our budget can handle and I may not. What I can do right now is wait and trust and hold onto hope with fists clenched tightly while I am a mother to the kids in our church nursery, our AWANA ministry, my friend’s kids, my nephews and niece, and any other child in need of a hug, a laugh, or a listening ear.

I am learning that none of the things we view as important that have so much to do with us, us, and US even matter.

I still don’t know how my life is going to pan out.
I don’t know how or when or if I will ever see my dreams come to fruition.
I don’t know how long God will continue to strip me of myself and replace the broken pieces of me with the sustaining pieces of Him.
I don’t even know how much I have left to give sometimes.
I have never cried so much in my life.

But…. I know He is faithful.
I know He is mine.
I am His.

So Jesus, wipe away my tears when life is just too much and people don’t seem to notice or have time to care.
Hold me when I have gone too many days without a decent hug.
Remind me that I have worth and a purpose and that I belong when those things seem to elude me too often.
Give me courage to face whatever you have in Your plans for me.

And let the rain continue to fall relentlessly and wash away every broken piece of my heart and my identity until you have it all….until all I desire is You.

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