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.

 

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.

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“…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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2013 sucked (Part 3)

Alright, folks.
Here it is.
Part 3 of this “2013 sucked” series and I am writing it a whole 1 1/2 months after Part 2. I would say I am sorry it has taken me so long since my last post, but I am not. haha. So much LIFE has happened since then. So much change settling in the air around me like a dense fog so that finding my way to actually sit and write in this blog was easier said than done.

Quick recap:
In Part 1 of this series, I explained that 2013 sucked because it was a year of so much unending struggle for me. Aside from struggles at work, struggles with coworkers, struggles with finances, and struggles with family – my primary struggle to get pregnant left me feeling like less of a woman, less of an adult, less of a contributing member of society, and less of a person overall.
Something in me is broken and 2013 was the year I felt every single ounce of that brokenness (and not the “good” kind of Christian-ese brokenness that is desired, but the genuine I-no-longer-know-what-to-do-with-myself-and-I-seem-to-have-forgotten-how-to-breathe kind of brokenness.) I truly felt by the end of 2013 that I was clinically depressed and I allowed very few people to see it. I pasted on a smile and cheerful demeanor each day and later would often break down crying when I was finally alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Then everything I discussed in my last post (Part 2) happened.

 

So where does that leave me now in Part 3 of this journey into the new year?

Well….

It is still a struggle every day to cope with the fickleness of my body, the unasked-for opinions of others on how I should be pursuing starting our family, and the relentless bombardment of people around me getting pregnant, talking about being pregnant, buying baby things, discussing baby names, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY, PARENTING, PARENTING, BABIES, BABIES, BABIES, BABIES…!! (etc.)

My circumstances have not changed, but something inside me has.

I’ve struggled these past few months to put into words the difference in myself that I feel. It is a combination of still feeling broken, but at the same time more whole than before. It is a realization that with as much sadness as I have had in my life, I’ve also had so much joy. That realization has left me feeling incredibly thankful and it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re feeling thankful. (I credit this epiphany to Melody Morgan and Ann Voskamp.)

There are two very specific songs that came out recently that have been the best expression of how I feel now compared to last year. The lyrics of these songs can change your life; they contain the ability to move your heart into a new and deeper place with God.
When I listen to or sing these songs (in the car at the top of my lungs when no one else can hear me, but myself), I feel my heart settle into a beautiful place of peace, surrender, and trust.

I am at the place in this new season of my life where I truly desire to be led out deeper onto the waters.
The place where all I have left to look at is His face to keep from drowning.
There place where all I have left to offer is a broken hallelujah.
The place where I can raise empty hands up to Him and receive something beautiful from my ashes.
The place where my trust doesn’t come with boundaries that keep everything comfortable and within my control.
The place where I trust Him and nothing else to uphold me.

 

THIS SONG:

 

 

AND THIS SONG:


Belated Halloween!

Chad and I had a pretty good Halloween this year, so I wanted to share the pictures even though I am about 20 days late doing so…

First of all, the trees and leaves this year have been spectacular!

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Also, my co-workers out-did themselves with awesome costumes!

Kayla as Katniss Everdeen:
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Desiree as Wilma Flintstone!
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Amanda as Guy Fieri (I didn’t even recognize her!!)IMAG3248

Excellent video of Amanda impersonating Guy Fieri!!

And Logan as a Dalek!!
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Also, Chad and I decided to dress simplistically as yard gnomes….

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And Maizie and Pumpkin were forced to dress like a cop and fugitive….HAHA! Doesn’t Pumpkin look guilty!?!?! 🙂

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Lastly, we had some great visitors join us to hand out candy and eat yummy Chicken Tortilla soup I made!

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How was your Halloween? How has your Fall been? 🙂

How Many Times?

You know how they say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? It makes sense to assume that trying something over and over and getting absolutely no where would drive someone insane, right?

I sometimes feel like I a losing my mind.

Today I took a test that would either 1.) determine a new role for me for the rest of my life or 2.) would just be the same old results I always get. It was a pregnancy test and it was the latter.

God, this hurts.

Can you even fathom waiting and hoping and dreaming for something not only for 2.5 years, but every 30 days or so as well? Imagine that every single cycle you recover from the grief of another negative pregnancy test only to begin trying again and allowing yourself to hope and dream again – only to cycle back around into the darkness of hopelessness and loss. Even the “trying for a baby” part begins to lose its fairy tale appeal because while the rest of the world gets to just have sex all the time and magically turn up pregnant, your journey becomes more of a horror story involving multiple invasive vaginal ultrasounds, medication you have to inject yourself with in the abdomen every single day, the side effects of swollen enlarged ovaries, having to perfectly and intricately time when you have sex rather than being able to just do it when you actually want to, and add to that having many of the symptoms of pregnancy that only continue to falsely fuel your hopes and dreams because you had to give yourself a HCG shot to trigger ovulation resulting in the actual pregnancy hormone coursing through your body for 12 days.

It royally sucks.
I have never experienced such a traumatic roller coasters of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain.
Couple that with the fact that you’re now in your 30’s, so every single woman you seem to encounter is pregnant or already have 3-4 kids of her own. It not only will make you feel insane, but you’ll start to be jealous of the most ridiculous things.

How many times have I driven by someone’s house and been jealous of the toys laying in their yard?
How many times have I seen someone exhausted from being up all night with their newborn and wish I even had such a glorious reason to lose sleep?
Oh if I could tell you how many times have I even been jealous that someone had to deal with spit up, poopy diaper explosions, colicky babies, and even toddler tantrums because even in those difficult and not fun moments of parenting it still means that they are, in fact, a mother. Something I feel is so far out of my reach.

I know I am venting and complaining, but wouldn’t you?

You can’t tell me to “relax and it will happen” and you better not tell me to “rejoice in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart” because none of that negates the pain and sorrow I have to cycle through on a constant basis. I do trust God. I do rejoice in Him. I am waiting on His timing. But He has given me the freedom to grieve and cry out and beg for understanding even if it is beyond me.

I’ve actually been loving this song on the radio by Plumb called “Need You Now” because the lyrics resonate with exactly what my heart has been feeling. The sense that you can reach a point of heartache so deep that you cry out to God to “please take this” from you. The point of heartache where you’re so tired from having to hold on for so long and you just need His strength to keep breathing…. It is beautifully powerful.

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

Less than 2 weeks ago I watched my brother commit himself to love his new beautiful bride, Anne, as long as they both should live. Both of them are in their late twenties and had been waiting so very, very long for the right person to come along.

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This picture just makes me want to cry all over again (I cried all the way through the ceremony as soon as my brother began crying). It is such a picture of the overwhelming joy and wonder of  God’s faithfulness:

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This next picture I am sharing just to emphasize how incredible their photographer was at capturing the beautiful and intense moments throughout the whole day. Here the bride is crying because her parents (who are in Europe and were denied visa into the country in order to attend the wedding) are praying over her and Matt via Skype:

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It was a breathtakingly beautiful ceremony and a really fun reception!

It is amazing to me every time I see such an obviously ordained story play out right before my eyes. They were made for each other. They are God’s very best for each other. I know they would agree that waiting was more than worth it.

It made me remember those times of waiting. I was about to turn 24 when I had all but given up on ever finding someone. Most of my friends were either married or at least in committed, serious relationships. I felt like I was being left out – on the fringes of happiness just waiting for life to begin.

I often felt like this:

I had no idea that I would meet my future husband that year in the most unexpected of ways. I just felt lost and lonely and forgotten about by a God who said He knew the plans and purposes for my life, but I couldn’t see them. It wasn’t until I resigned myself to be content with being single the rest of my life if that is what God had in store for me that Chad finally came along. A simple act of choosing to trust that God is good and that He had His hand on my life – even in the midst of hurting. Chad was worth every restless, lonely night I spent wishing it could be my turn to experience being in love. He was worth the wait.

Fast forward six years and I have once again come back to this same lesson of trusting God with His timing when I can’t see my future. Why do we so easily forget the faithfulness of God?

If God was with me then (even when I didn’t know it) isn’t He with me still? He orchestrates my life, not me. He isn’t moved by my worry or my fears, but by His perfect timing. So why am I sitting here wondering why all my friends are pregnant or have 2-4 babies at home, while I remain childless waiting for my life to start? Why am I so quick to focus on my lack and fail to remember all the times God brought me exactly what I needed at the exact point in time I needed it – not earlier and not a minute too late.

I think pain makes us desperate and irrational. Like a toddler who can’t fully yet understand the scope of reality and how the world is working around him, we grow fearful and anxious and we grasp for assurance. It is immensely hard to be single and alone and wondering if you will ever find your true love. It is equally hard (although for me probably even harder) to wonder if I will ever be a mother and to feel that precious hope slipping away. Instead of remembering the reality of God’s faithfulness and trusting that He is God and that that is assurance enough, don’t we all have a tendency to grow restless and fearful?

But here’s the best part:

In these moments, God isn’t impatient with us. God isn’t that parent that is like, “Well if you’re going to be like that, you’re not getting anything!!

God understands our frailty; He knows he are human.

God instead is the gentle parent who kneels down, looks directly in our eyes, brushes our hair away from our tear-streaked faces, and whispers reassuringly, “I know you don’t understand right now and you won’t be able to, but I promise that I know what is the very best for you. You can trust me because I love you so much more than you can even comprehend.”

And just like that, when we allow ourselves those quiet moments with Him, we can feel our souls take a deep breath. We can feel the weight of fear lift and our eyes fix themselves on that which we cannot see – because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. We begin to feel hope restored and we rest in the peace that He is God, He is orchestrating everything, and we will see His faithfulness once again if we just trust and wait…

“He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us”

There are things that I know are common among a large percentage of the female population, but I always end up feeling so isolated and alone in these things.
No one talks about it, or at least no one likes to talk about it.
It’s not the happiest of topics and most people would rather have every interaction in their day be positive and happy.

I’d like to be bold and say that so much of what happens in this broken life we live is negative, painful, and difficult. Maybe even more than 50% depending on the life/person.
Being a kid is joyful, but so very hard.
Being a teenager can be exciting, but awkward and painful and emotional.
Being a friend has so many rewards, but it is risky and hard and comes with occasional heartache.
Being married of blissful, but challenging and sometimes so very painful – it changes who you thought you were.
Being a parent is fulfilling and wonderful, but also challenging, painful, difficult, and risky.

and so on.

Having kids? Or rather, TRYING to have kids and finding out that you can’t without some serious medical help when every single one of the friends in your life are either pregnant, just had a baby, or are working on their 2nd or 3rd baby?

Now that’s hard.

After an extensive, heartbreaking 67 day anovulatory cycle, I found out today that I am, once again, having an anovulatory cycle.
We can’t even try to have a baby because my body will not cooperate.