The Blood

the blood 2.jpgToday is Good Friday.

It’s the day we remember the suffering of our Lord – the utter and complete surrender of His perfect life in exchange for our messy ones.

And during this Holy Week, I have been made so unbelievably aware of my mess.

Let’s start with my never-ending need to please people.

I drove a little too fast through our school zone on Monday (didn’t even realize it).  Several women I respect got very upset with me and I’ve been feeling so bad for disappointing them.

I got angry that the Happy Baby dumped his pee-filled toilet-training potty all over the bathroom floor and then went and pooped on the carpet in his brother’s room.

I had some insecurity about my job – wanting people to like me and desire to have their kids in my class.

I spent too much money on groceries.  Again.

I let the words of another make me doubt my calling in a particular ministry that I love.

I pushed the hubby too far in a conversation instead of wisely holding my tongue.

I paid too much attention to my phone.

I got jealous of a woman who has a super cute new baby with no health issues.

I wasted an entire afternoon feeling sorry for myself over a situation I have yet to fully surrender.

I think my kids ate chicken nuggets 3 times within a span of 3 days.

Add in some pride, fear, impatience, and unbelief and that about sums up my week!

the blood 1.jpgIf you didn’t already consider me a highly questionable source, you can do so now.

:-)

The point is, there’s a whole lot of ugly going on in this heart of mine.

 And being that I am a perfectionist, when I am faced with the realities of my sin, the temptation is always to let the above listed wretchedness take me down.

I mope around or overeat or complain to the hubs that I am worthless, nobody likes me, and a big, fat failure.

Oh, but Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that I could drown myself in a pint of ice cream and self-pity.

the blood 3.jpgDo you remember in the story of Moses when Pharaoh kept refusing to let the Israelites leave Egypt, even under the stress and horror of all the plagues?

The final plague was the worst of all – the death of every firstborn son in Egypt.

God had a plan, however, for His people, the Israelites.  He instructed them very specifically to kill a lamb and paint its blood over the door of their homes.  If they obeyed these instructions, then the Angel of Death would pass over their house and the firstborn sons would be spared.

When the angel saw the blood, he simply passed over the house.

He didn’t open the door to peek inside and make sure everyone was behaving properly.

God didn’t expect the Israelites to be perfect behind those doors.

It was THE BLOOD that saved them.

And that is our own sweet story, dear friends.

Our lamb is Jesus.

His blood is painted on the doorpost of our hearts.

And we are saved – we are set free!

I am not condemned for that laundry list of ugly I wrestled with this week BECAUSE OF HIS BLOOD.

This news is way more satisfying and joy-filling than ice cream (trust me on this).

the blood 4.jpgWhen I picked the Happy Buddy up from school recently and asked him how his day was, he immediately burst into tears and confessed that his name had been written on the board due to a poor choice.

In the past, being that darned perfectionist that I am, I have acted disappointed and upset with my son for daring to represent our family so poorly.

As if I really wanted him to feel bad for sinning.

But the Lord showed me awhile back that holding a grudge, looking at my child with condemnation, flailing my arms and shouting, “How could you do that?!” is not at all the picture of the cross.

No.

His response to the sin of His children is always love.

Because he just sees the blood.

Now when my son cried about his consequence at school, I wrapped my arms around him in a giant hug and whispered in his ear, “We all make mistakes, son.  Now we must make it right.”

He went to his teacher to apologize for disobeying the classroom rules and then we went to Jesus and apologized.

As our prayer drew to a close and we opened our eyes, I looked at my boy’s tear-stained face and said gently, “It is finished.”

I saw the burden lifted in an instant.

And he said, “Mommy can we have chicken nuggets for dinner?”

:-)

the blood 5.jpgWe are imperfect people living behind the doors of our homes.

We will have bad moments, bad days, bad weeks…

But all that bad is why Good Friday is so good.

Take that never-ending list of badness and daily remember the all-sufficient, unfailing power of our Savior’s goodness.

He sees the blood.

And today, my friends, it is finished.

Anyone want to celebrate with some Breyer’s? :-)

- Julie

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:7

Wisdom From A Snowman

**I probably should have written this post before Valentine’s Day, as it is about love, but I think it works perfectly on the flip side of this high-pressure holiday.  Maybe if your husband didn’t make it the day of your dreams with flowers and cards and diamonds and elaborately planned outings, or your kids threw tantrums instead of bringing you breakfast in bed, you can be released from those expectations and harboring any bitter root with this precious reminder from a very unsuspecting character.** :-)Olaf1

Have y’all seen Disney’s latest movie Frozen yet?

Two words – LOVE. IT.

It’s at our local dollar theater this week and let me just say that I fully plan on neglecting all household responsibilities in order to be at every showing.

For those who haven’t seen Frozen, let me introduce you to Olaf.

He is a lovable little snowman who sprinkles joy and fun throughout the movie.

What’s humorous about this precious guy is that he has no idea that if he gets anywhere near warmth, he will melt.  In fact, his biggest dream is to experience the season of summer and he dedicates an entire song to telling us all about it.

The other characters in the movie sort of play along and encourage his innocent, idyllic mindset, but toward the end of the movie, the truth comes out in a moment that spoke to my heart in an incredibly powerful way.

The heroine of the movie, Anna, is struck by ice and falls incredibly ill.

Olaf discovers Anna as she is literally freezing to death alone in a room in the castle.

He immediately begins to pull her body toward the fireplace to bring her comfort, but she cries out for him to stop because he will surely melt from the heat.

And {{here’s the zinger}} Olaf quickly responds,

“Some people are worth melting for.”

This movie was such a precious gift to me as it came right smack at the beginning of a season where I was having a particularly difficult time loving someone very close to me.

Olaf’s words came at me like a thousand little arrows fired to destroy the feelings of bitterness and hurt and hopelessness I was experiencing in my heart toward this person.

Olaf’s words challenged me.

Because some days ‘melting’ for another person is not exactly something I’m interested in doing.

Some days it is not easy to love the people close to us.

Some days the pain that a loved one may have caused us is almost too much to bear.

Some days we might even consider quitting on the people we love because it would just. be. easier.

Some days love takes a back seat to all the things I want, I expect, I need from a relationship.

And that is where we get it wrong, my friends.  We tend to mess love up by making it all about me me me me me.

But TRUE love remembers that the people we chose to spend our forever with are precious in HIS sight.

Created by Him.

Perfectly.

So no sin, or troubling habit, or hurtful word, or wrongful deed on their part really matters when we fully embrace this truth.

They are worth melting for simply because they are HIS.

In essence, whether that goofy little snowman knew it or not, he was reminding me of the Gospel.

Jesus loved us enough to ‘melt’ for us, even though we are sinners.

He saw past all the things that we tend to let build walls in our human relationships.

He saw us for who we truly are.

He saw us as WORTH IT.

Mother Teresa, whose words you might find a little more credible than a snowman’s, once said, “We must grow in love and to do this we must go on loving and loving and giving and giving until it hurts – the way Jesus did.  Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”

So today I’d like to encourage you, my sweet blog friends, to melt for your people.

No matter how difficult or unlovely or painful at times it might be.

Because your people – they are most certainly worth it.

And because that is living the Gospel.

- Julie

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16

The Epic Snuggle and a Blogging Hiatus

I used to blog almost every. single. day.

These days, I literally cannot even FATHOM how I did that!

I can barely crack open my computer now.

In a way, it’s a very good and very healthy thing, as I believe over time my blogging became an idol in my life.  It developed into this thing that I craved and desired more than I desired spending time with Jesus and, I humbly admit at times, even my family.

I got way too wrapped up in my stats, slaving away trying to post the next big thing – the next stat crusher.

I let my worth and value as a person be determined by how many shares a post got.

I spent a lot of time feeling jealous and frustrated with other blogs who seemed to just know how to do it all (blogging, photography, parenting, marriage, decorating, media, making money, looking super cute), all while never allowing another part of their lives to suffer as a result.

Then in November something huge happened in our Happy Home that sort of ripped me out of my petty struggles and into a fierce battle for the things in my life that are most important.

Ironically, the things that this blog is all about.

I honestly haven’t even wanted to write because I believe the Lord had to literally REMOVE that desire in order to show me how much He wants to be FIRST in my life.

He wants to fill my soul.  He wants to be the one I run to when I wake up in the morning.  He wants to be the one that makes me feel better on a bad day.  He wants me to be on my knees more than at a computer desk.  He wants to be the one who affirms my worth with the truths of His sweet Gospel message.

And He wants me to pay a little more attention to the hearts in our home.

photo-8Like this heart.

Precious Happy Baby woke up last Saturday with a cough that just wouldn’t stop.  I noted that his breathing was faster than usual and he fell asleep in the car while we were running errands (something that immediately alerts me of an oncoming illness. #mykidsneversleepanywherebuttheirbeds).

Then the Happy Baby spiked a high fever and his breathing got worse, so after consulting with his pediatrician, I drove him down to our old stomping ground (the place where we spent his first 97 days) and checked ourselves into the ER.

photo-9After some tests and an X-Ray, the doctors confirmed that my little guy had pneumonia.

They were concerned about his breathing so they kept us overnight.

And another night, and another…

More tests concluded that the Happy Baby was not only fighting the pneumonia, but also Rhino Virus and RSV.

photo-7We were suddenly thrown back into the world of unknowns and speculations and concerns and wonderings about the Happy Baby’s health.  All the doctors wanted to know why we did not pursue further genetic testing.  They said his neuromuscular condition was a huge factor in his susceptibility to these illnesses, as well as to his ability to overcome them.

It was rough!

photo-3The Happy Baby was so overwhelmed by all the hospital activity and poking and prodding and nasal cannulas and nebulizer treatments and cough assists and IVs and nurses and doctors that the ONLY thing that made him feel any sense of security was if I held him.

So I did.

photo-6For 7 days.

It was a snuggle of epic proportions.

photo-4And I cherished every second.

Oh, how the Lord has matured me since the Happy Baby’s first hospital stay!

Then I was afraid and timid and anxious and easily knocked down by bad reports.

Not this time.

photo-10This time I remembered what the Lord (not the doctors) has spoken to me time and time again about the Happy Baby.

This time I truly believed (instead of just hoped) that God would deliver us.

This time I laid my life (and the Happy Baby’s) completely at His feet in surrender.

This time I had eyes to see that the heart of my Father is to bless, to love, and to work out His perfect plan for my life – for my (our) good.

We are home now and he is healing slowly.

But all this to say, our family has been in a season of trial.  Especially since Thanksgiving, we have been thrown from one stressful situation to the next.  I haven’t been able to spend any ‘extra’ time playing on Pinterest or blogging simply because I HAVE to be spending that time with my Lord, lest I be swallowed up in a pit of despair.

I HAVE to be digging deeper and deeper into His Word so that I can claim TRUTH when the enemy breathes lies down my neck.

I HAVE to be in prayer or else I forget the closeness of Christ in the midst of great suffering.

I HAVE to be available to my family.

photo-5I don’t know how much writing I will be able to do in the coming days, but in the meantime, I am keeping a notebook full of blog post ideas and topics that I long to share with all of you.  Certainly no lack of ideas – simply lack of time!!

Maybe I should start pumping again in the middle of the night so I can actually get stuff done.  Lol!!!!

Thank you to all my precious readers who have emailed with giant question marks wondering what happened to me.

Thank you for responding to the Lord’s promptings to pray for our family.

photo-2We need it.

Love you all.

-Julie

The Not-So-Perfect Christmas

xmas6Our world (and often times my own blog) communicates that your life should look a certain way in order to attain ‘Happy Home Status.’

This is especially true at Christmas.

xmas13We should all have perfect Christmas cards and perfect gifts for people and perfect homemade Christmas treats and perfect Christmas outfits and perfect moments under the mistletoe with our husbands and perfect holiday dinners and perfect drama-free encounters with relatives and perfect children who respond in perfect gratitude when given perfectly wrapped gifts.

xmas12Well, friends, hear this message tonight – the first Christmas was far from ‘perfect.’

xmas10Mary carried a severe social stigma for being pregnant and unwed.

Mary and Joseph were forced to travel many miles during the final stages of her pregnancy.

When they reached Bethlehem, they were exhausted and yet turned away from every inn.

They had to spend the night in a dark and dirty stable.

Mary gave birth alongside stinky animals.

A feeding trough was the Savior’s first crib…

xmas9All these things could have despaired the main characters of the first Christmas story, but they chose to quietly surrender their own ideas of ‘perfect.’

xmas11

**They chose to obey.**

xmas7

So this Christmas let’s surrender what we have in our heads as the ‘perfect’ holiday, the perfect memory, the perfect photo {ahem}, the perfect life.

xmas8Because in His perspective, it is perfect.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Merry Christmas, sweet blog world friends.

Love,

Julie

Like Mary

**I wrote this post last year but it has been on my heart so much this last month that I wanted to re-post it along with several updates.  I hope it blesses you again if you remember it from last year, or I hope it blesses you brand new for all my recent subscribers.  Merry Christmas.**

mary 1I hope you don’t mind me being a little real with y’all today.

Sometimes I read other blogs and everything just looks so happy and all-around awesome for that blogger – as if they never have to bribe their kids with M&Ms so that they will smile for a photo or that their marriage never hits a bump or that they never raise their voices at their children.

In fact I was reading a blog the other day and I showed it to the Happy Hubby and said in frustration, “She makes everything look so easy!  So perfect!  And how in the world is it possible that she is an awesome writer/crafter/mom/wife/photographer/AND genius-at-coming-up-with-clever-Elf-on-the-Shelf-poses all-in-one?!”

The Happy Hubby replied, “Well, babe, you kind of do the same thing on your blog…”

I realized in that moment that he was SO right.

Happy Home Fairy is one of my favorite things – other than my faith and my family.

I want it to be this fun, creative, inspiring place for my readers (whom I treasure deeply).  I want it to be a happy place – not filled with lots of posts heavy with trials and tribulation.

But I realize that in my attempt to do that, you only get to see a small snippet of our lives.

This blog does not reveal everything that goes on in my world.

I am going to share with you some ‘real’ things today because I NEVER, EVER want this blog to be a place that stirs envy in my readers.  I NEVER, EVER want my readers to walk away feeling some sort of emptiness because the enemy led you to believe that somehow I’ve got this thing called living all together.

Because I definitely don’t.

mary 2To be perfectly honest, life is hard right now.

I told a girlfriend yesterday that lately it just seems like we have just been rolling from one difficult thing to another.

The Happy Buddy had a febrile seizure on Sunday.  He was acting on the verge of sick, but I was scheduled to sing on the worship team and he didn’t have a fever or any symptoms at the time, so we brought him to church.  After the worship, I sat down with him in the back of the sanctuary to listen to the sermon.  His head was in my lap and I was stroking his hair when all of a sudden his little body began convulsing and then he threw up everywhere.  I knew something was wrong though because it was like my boy wasn’t there any more, his face was completely unresponsive.  I slapped his cheeks a few times and spoke to him quietly, then quickly picked him up and brought him back to the fellowship hall where a few of the deacons called an ambulance.  The Happy Buddy was still not responding as I carried his limp body out to the paramedics.  We drove to the hospital and spent the afternoon in the ER.  It took several hours before he ‘came to’ and then another hour before his speech returned.  There were several moments where I thought perhaps the seizure had stolen the Happy Buddy’s ability to talk.  It was an intense afternoon – full of reminders of the uncertainties we faced with the Happy Baby’s health when we were in the hospital with him.

The Happy Baby is almost 2 and just the other day he started acting it.  And let me just say, it is NOT easy disciplining that kid.  It’s easy to let him get away with stuff because of everything he went through (and not to mention his super cuteness), but I have to be strong and remember that he is still a little sinner (albeit a super cute little sinner) and needs Jesus just like the rest of us.

The Happy Hubby and I are trying to figure out how to train up our boys, get through the busy Christmas season, and still find time for our own marital needs like date nights and intimacy and communicating beyond who changed what diaper and who is picking up who from school.

I am physically exhausted.  Do you ever wonder how to balance it all?  If I feel like a good mom one day, my marriage suffers.  If I feel like a good wife another day, my kids eat chicken nuggets and don’t get their teeth brushed.  If I am a good wife and a good mom one day, then I suffer.  I mean, I have an in-grown toenail on my left foot that is driving me crazy and not letting me wear any of my favorite shoes and who has time (or money) to go see a podiatrist for help when I am trying to keep a million spinning plates in the air??

(I don’t blame you if you want to stop reading this now that I’ve revealed too much about the condition of my feet.  Lol!! :-))

I could list several more things to prove to you how un-perfect I am and how our Happy Home is struggling to make sense of the day-to-day hurdles alongside everybody else, but God gave me a little pocket of truth that I would like to share instead.

mary 4When I was holding the Happy Buddy and his body was all limp and we were rushing to the hospital and I could sense that rising choice in my heart of whether or not to journey toward despair, I was reminded of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

I was reminded how an angel appeared to her – out of the blue – and told her that she would be the one to carry God’s Son.

We can only imagine what that must have been like – did Mary’s brain immediately start making lists of all the ways she she felt she fell short of the calling, how tired she was, or how would she ever survive all of the ridicule of a pre-wedding pregnancy?  Do you think she worried about this child’s future or how His coming might effect her relationship with her fiancé?  Do you think she got upset with the Lord for placing a call on her life that inevitably meant things would suddenly get very, very hard?

Maybe.

But the Bible only records what Mary said in response to the angel’s message.

She bowed her head quietly and said, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

mary 6This, my friends, is the reason why God chose her to be Jesus’ mother.

She ‘got it.’

She understood this whole living thing.

She knew that choosing to walk by faith is never easy, but always best.

You can hear the trust in her voice – ringing out like Christmas bells – when she spoke that phrase of ultimate surrender, modeling for the rest of us how to follow God.

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”

Yes.

And don’t you love how ready that response was on her lips?

It was like she was well-accustomed to saying, “I am totally and completely God’s.  He knows what is best for my life, so whatever He wants – I want.  Even if that means I might face difficulty, criticism, pain, wrestle with anxiety for my child’s well-being, or even have to walk through a hard season in my marriage.”

I can imagine she repeated that phrase when the innkeeper turned her and Joseph away and they were led to a dirty stable for her to deliver Jesus.

I can imagine she repeated that phrase when people mocked her for being pregnant before being with Joseph.

I can imagine she repeated this phrase when the angry crowds beat her son, whipping Him and forcing Him to wear a crown of thorns.

I can imagine she repeated this phrase as she watched Him hang on the cross under the weight of the world’s sin.

Oh, how my daily trials seem so minuscule in comparison to Mary’s!

But nevertheless, they are trials all the same.

And I want to make the most of them.

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”

mary 5This is how I want to respond whenever my life makes me want to run off to Target for therapy.

This is how I want to respond when the uncertainties of my children’s health begin to weigh my heart down with fear.

This is how I want to respond when I am tempted to compare my life with another’s via the internet (and for the record, I actually just unsubscribed myself from one particular blogger’s Instagram, blog emails, Facebook, etc. because the whole thing was just becoming too much of a distraction.  Sometimes you have to make drastic moves in order to walk forward in freedom!!).

This is how I want to respond instead of picking up the phone to complain to a friend.

This is how I want to respond on the days where I would rather throw in the towel come morning when the whole parenting/wife-ing/living cycle starts all over again.

There is such sweet joy in that kind of surrender, my precious readers.

God hand picks each of us to be Mommies to our Happy Buddies.  Wives to our Happy Hubbies.  And Women who recognize that, as the angel said to Mary just moments before he left her, “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).

To live this life under the umbrella of His love is to recognize that our lives belong to Him.

He can do whatever He wants with us – we are His servants.

We must lay it all down and simply rest in the fact that God is good.  Whatever He does do with us, we are promised that He will be with us every step of the way.

Sometimes asking Christ to dwell in us will literally leave stretch marks – you know?

But as He grows in us and we are stretched, we remember that He is shaping us to be more like Him.

Mary, when perfectly surrendered to the Lord, had the blessing of being Christ’s mommy.  She got to nurse the King of Kings.  She got to care for Him and snuggle Him and rock Him to sleep.  She got to make sure the Prince of Peace had clothes that fit, food in his tummy, and a roof over His precious head.  She got to hold the Messiah when He had a bad cough or runny nose.  She got to watch Him grow in favor with God and man.  She got to witness His ministry and miracles.

And He took care of her, didn’t He?  Right up to the end when on the cross, Jesus provided for his widowed mother’s future by placing her in the hands of John.

“For the Mighty One has done great things for me…” Luke 1:49

So, friends, this Happy Home is imperfect and messy.

I struggle like everyone else to make sense of the daily ups and downs of life (and toenails).

But what carries me from one minute to the next is not whether or not I can push forward in my own strength or by reading about someone else’s.

mary 3It’s that I hold it all before my King with open hands, declaring that I am His, and accepting what He gives in the knowledge that He knows what is best for my life.

Difficulty?

Bring it.

Trial?

Let’s do it.

This is what God is giving me right now.

And I choose to be like Mary.

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”

-Julie :-)

For When Your Kids Are Sick

A great post to encourage you when your child is sick.It seems that I have children who are sick 96% of the time.

Am I not cleaning my house enough?  Is it because it’s the Happy Baby’s first year in Day Care?  Should I be washing their hands more?  Is it because I don’t give them tablespoons of honey and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning?

Maybe.

Or maybe they’re just kids.

But let me tell you.  Each time one of my kids get sick, I come at it with clenched teeth and (not going to lie) feeling a little bit ticked off.

I mean, I knew that being a mom was no easy gig, but I sincerely never thought that the Nose Frida was going to end up being ‘the greatest’ gift I ever received from our baby registry.

These days I find myself wanting to tell all the starry-eyed moms-to-be to take a good long look at their piles of super cute new baby outfits and adorable matchy matchy crib linens and just imagine everything covered in diarrhea.

BAM.  Expectations adjusted.

for when the kids are sickoBut whenever I finally realize the negative behaviors in myself that need to be pruned out (ie. getting ticked off and sulky with God when the stomach bug moves in for 2 long, messy weeks), I take some time to ask the Lord for His opinion on the matter.

Check this out…

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” – C.S. Lewis (quote found in THIS encouraging post)

Do I believe that God authors every aspect of my life?

Absolutely.

Then instead of constantly fighting God on the unpleasant aspects of mothering (say, fevers and barfs), I would like to learn to quietly accept them, trusting that He knows what He is doing.  He is sending them and bringing them for my good.

For my sanctification, even.

So, as we enter Flu season, here are some of the ‘good’ things (and a few {hopefully} helpful tips) He is showing me in between the interruptions Kleenex boxes.

for when the kids are sick.Sick Bear

Just after Valentine’s Day this year, the Happy Buddy got strep throat.  I needed to get some medicine for him, so I ran to the drugstore.  I happened to hit their after-holiday sale just right and found a huge stuffed bear for only a couple of bucks.  I knew that having to give the Happy Buddy 10 days of meds was going to be  A-W-F-U-L so I thought bringing him a little comfort might help.  I snatched the bear up and on the way home decided to name him Sick Bear.  He loved it so much that now, whenever anyone gets sick, he comes out of his home in the closet for snuggles and intense strangling while medication is being administered hugs until they get better.  Then Sick Bear gets a superior deep cleaning and goes back in the closet (I think the longest Sick Bear has ever stayed in his closet has been about 12 days – lol).

Make a Couch Bed

When I was a little girl and got sick, my mom would transform the couch into a bed.  She’d take fresh, crisp sheets and tuck them in nice and tight.  We’d bring down my bed pillows and stuffed animals and I’d curl up on the couch to watch as much Saved Bt the Bell, Full House, and Mickey Mouse Club TV as I could possibly handle.  She’d make me toast cut in triangles and serve it to me on a TV tray.  I felt like a queen!  I now do this for the Happy Buddy and he is more than thrilled at the chance to take up residence in front of the tube.  Who knew that endless episodes of Pocoyo could be so therapeutic?

The Magic of the Cool Washcloth

Best thing ever when I was younger and had fevers.  I still remember the smell of the clean wash towel and the feel of it on my head when my mom would rest it there.  I loved flipping it over in 5 minute intervals to feel the coolness of the new side.  My boys love it, too.

for when the kids are sickMedicine

I wish I was that person that brewed homemade herbal teas to bring down fevers and strained garlic or whatever to heal ear infections.  But I am just not there yet – although I am open to learning.  I definitely don’t want to be unwisely pumping meds into my kid every time they get a runny nose, but sometimes medicine is the answer.  You have to do antibiotics?  No sweat.  Pick up a probiotic along with it and call it a day (or 10 days).  Plus, I think that giving our kids medicine can be a great way for us to learn more about God.  I don’t know about you, but my highly sensory child is incredibly disgusted by the taste of most medicines.  If we can’t find it in a bland form or mix it with something he does like, then often we must do whatever means we can think of to get him what his body needs.  Even if that means we have to gently pin his poor, sweet arms down and shoot it in with a syringe.  Sometimes we don’t like the taste of something God has brought our way, but He, as a loving Father, gives it because He knows it will bring about our ultimate healing… :-)

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17

Bring Comfort to Another

Because we do sick so much over here, I have grown quite attentive to the needs of my friends when their children are sick.  I once brought a simple meal to one of my BFFs who had 2 sick babies AND she, herself, was sick.  We’re talking rotisserie chicken, frozen sweet potato fries and a bag of organic microwaveable broccoli kind of meal.  It wasn’t much, but she had been so busy wiping noses that she had not made it to the store for food in days, so to her, it was practically manna from heaven.  You could also Ding-Dong-Ditch a basket containing a new DVD, some popsicles, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, tissues, etc. to bring a much-needed spot of hope to a friend with sick kids.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Snuggle Time

We know the Happy Buddy is getting sick when his normally strong-willed, busy self becomes a little sweeter, a bit less active, and a lot more attached.  I get the chance to actually hold my ‘baby’ for longer than a millisecond and bring him the kind of comfort only I, as his mama, can bring.  Isn’t it funny how, for many of us, we want our mommies when we get sick?  Even though I know the Happy Hubby loves me so much and would do almost anything for me, he will not stand at the toilet holding my hair back and stroking my head gently while I puke like my mom used to do.  Instead, if he hears me hurling, he will toss a hair tie into the bathroom before fleeing the scene like an escaped prisoner – lol!!!!!  So, cherish those extra sick hugs, sweet mommies.  Try not to rush off too quickly to get back to Clorox-ing absolutely everything in the house because when he’s away at college and catches the flu, you’re going to be the one he speed dials at 2 am simply because he wants to hear your voice.

“The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High God will be kept safe by the Mighty One, I will say about the Lord, “He is my place of safety… I trust in Him…” Psalm 91:1-2

sickShare Jesus with the Doctor’s Office

The Happy Baby had the stomach flu last month and it got really bad on a Saturday (of course).  Fortunately our doctor’s office is open on the weekend, but unfortunately everyone else in the county had also come down with the stomach flu.  We ended up having to wait for almost 2 hours!  The people around us were cranky and complaining and putting pressure on the nurses to speed things up.  These are perfect opportunities to be the LIGHT in the room, my friends.  Extend grace and kindness and patience to the hard working men and women behind the counter.  If you can, think in advance and bring them a little treat.  We once brought Hershey’s Kisses to all the nurses (wrapped in 3 germ-free layers of plastic wrap and Ziploc bag :-)).  It got our minds off our physical problems and gave us a chance to have a little fun and also be a blessing.

“A joyful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

Step Up the Prayers

When things are easy, we can easily fall into the trap of not recognizing our need for God and therefore not spend as much time in His presence.  When my kids are sick, though, I find myself pressing in deeper, memorizing Scripture verses, reading the Word, and praying A LOT.  I’ll hold my babies and whisper words of comfort in their ears.  Prayers for healing.  Prayers that speak of the unchanging attributes of our Lord.  Prayers offering the hope of a place where we will be one day that does not have the Chicken Pox or Rotavirus.  And as I practice this, I realize that it ends up being more for me than for my children because I am drawn closer to my Savior.  I am reminded of His goodness, the greater purpose, the taste of His strength (as opposed to my own), and His presence in the midst of darkness.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Another Opportunity to Surrender

Does anyone else struggle to remember on a daily basis that our kids are not our own??  They belong to God.  Period.  So when they get sick we cannot react by tightening our grip and stressing out.  Sickness is beyond our control.  Instead, it is a chance to hold our babies out before the Lord – like Abraham did with Isaac, like Moses’ mom did before she put him in the basket, like Hannah did when she brought freshly weaned Samuel to the temple, like Mary did with Jesus – and receive His peace for their future and for ours.

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

Your Child Gets to See What a Servant Looks Like

Mommies, our homes are places where our children get to experience Jesus, firsthand.  There is no better time to share the tender and unfailing and perfect example of Christ then when you have a little one in need.  I used to walk around all tangled up in a ball of anxiety and frustration when my kids got sick.  I was tense and fearful and in a hurry to see them get better.  I’d grumble and complain about everything that got barf or poo on it and I’d fuss about having to miss church or work or the ruining of a ‘fun’ family vacation.  And God forbid one child get the other child sick too!!

After the 157th illness, however, I feel like I am finally learning to let go.  I am finally learning what it means to truly serve – as Jesus did.  Instead of staring at them with a giant burden in my spirit, I am starting to joyfully ask my sick babies, “What can I do for you?” and “Is there anything you need, my darling?” because I believe this is what our Savior humbly modeled for us.  He knelt on hands and knees to wash the dirty, nasty feet of his beloved friends.  He laid gentle hands on ill children.  He had compassion on the great crowds and healed their sick.

But more important, He died on the cross to cure the most awful, wide-spread, debilitating sickness of all -

Our sin.

So, the next time you hear that first sniffle or get the middle of the night vomit-covered-bedroom call, we, as moms, can find purpose, joy, and strength in our hands and knees scrubbing of snot and yak, knowing that, in a way, He did it too.

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed…” Isaiah 53:5

- Julie

For When You Don’t Like Your Kid

praying for your happy buddyI looooooove my children.

They are absolute miracles.  Both of them.  The first one they said we would never have (and we did), the second one they said would never make it to his first birthday (and he did).

They are my angels, my heart running around outside my body, my answer to prayer, my joy.

But they are also my sanctification.

Especially my firstborn.

In this 4th year of his life, it seems that no matter how hard I try, no matter how many Bible verses I share and memorize and sing with him, no matter how many times I say, “We have helping hands, not hands that want to smother our brother with a pillow!!!”, no matter how many times I remind him of what a respectful tone of voice sounds like, no matter how many times I’ve had to stop playing with him because he was being too micro-managing and bossy, no matter how often we pray together or read Scripture together, or no matter how many times he’s received a consequence for throwing a tantrum in front of the entire church during fellowship hour when he’s discovered that the cookies have run out…

No matter any of this, the Happy Buddy continues to do his own thing.

I’ve said this before, but it is the truth that on more than one occasion I just want to get that miracle boy in bed and close the door behind me!

And possibly lock it.

I looooooove him.

But I don’t always like him.

I was sharing some of this with my mother-in-law one day and her response was rather immediate.

She said, “You need to get in his room and pray over him before you go to bed.”

She went on to say that she and my father-in-law did this very exercise with their son, the Happy Hubby, who, I am not even kidding when I tell you this, made his dad’s hair go from blond to completely white during the first year of his life.  The Happy Hubby was a wild child, full of spirit, throwing homemade popsicle stick Chinese stars at the living room blinds and launching his mom’s glassware off the roof with a friend.

The nightly prayers were clearly needed. :-)

That evening after I got ready for bed, instead of crawling under the covers, I crept down the hall and quietly pushed the Happy Buddy’s door open.

As soon as I tip-toed to his bed and saw that precious, resting face, I felt a wave of renewed love and compassion wash over me.

No longer was I thinking about the way he had colored on our bedroom comforter, or embarrassed me at church, or spoke disrespectfully to a teacher, or argued with me about going to the potty before bed, or broke my favorite plate, or snatched a toy out of his brother’s hands.

The sweetness of my little boy’s sleeping features was enough to fill up my heart with thanksgiving and contentment.

And a peace that it was all going to be okay.

I gently rested a hand on the Happy Buddy’s back, closed my eyes, and began to pray out loud in a soft voice.

I do not remember much of what I prayed.  Probably something along the lines of, “Thank you, Lord, that there is NO SEED of rebellion in my son!  Thank you that he is going to grow up and love you and have an understanding of the fruit of the spirit of SELF-CONTROL.  Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for his life.  Thank you that he and his brother will be best friends.  And thank you for his future wife who will have more patience than a saint.”

:-)

But what I DO remember is that the longer I prayed, the more I wanted to take the hand that was gently resting on his back, give it a little shake and wake up my kid so that we could snuggle and play.

I even felt strengthened enough by God’s grace to handle any bossy behavior!!

Being faithful to pray for my boy changed my perspective. 

It was a reminder that God is in control – that He sees my faithfulness and that is ALL THAT MATTERS.

I was laying on the bed in a heap of self-pity a few weeks ago, whining to the Happy Hubby (with my arm thrown across my forehead for added effect) that I thought the Happy Buddy was turning into a disaster and how will he ever keep a job as an adult if he tries to tell his boss what to do about every. single. thing. and throws fits when there are no more donuts in the break room?!?!?!

The Happy Hubby patted my dramatically placed arm and said, “Julie, we just have to keep being faithful.”

He left the room and I did not feel fully satisfied with his response.  I wanted him to give me an easy 1-2-3 step plan for fixing our son’s behavior immediately.  But then I opened my email and there was THIS POST as further affirmation to the message my sweet man had shared with me.

The message that we Mommies are not responsible for the harvest.

We are simply called to persevere – to be faithful to plant the seeds.

And many of those seeds are sown in the prayers we pray for our Happy Buddies.

(Just look at how amazing the Happy Hubby turned out. ;-))

So wherever you are, whatever time it is when you read this post, whether you are currently liking your child or not, I encourage you to make a note to use your stealthy ninja skills, slip into their room tonight, and pray over their adorable, peaceful, dreaming selves.

I promise you’ll like them again by the time you say, “Amen.”

- Julie

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

**Not sure how to pray or where to begin?  You can print out THIS simple PRAYER GUIDE to help!**

Baby Jane

**A few weeks ago, some friends of ours (I actually mentioned their wedding in THIS POST), began a NICU journey with their newborn baby girl that had me sleepless for many nights as I prayed for them.  Many of the people in our community have been hovering over their Facebook pages looking for updates on their daughter’s miraculous birth… as well as the revealing of an unexpected diagnosis.  Their story is amazing and powerful and needs to be heard.  Our friend, Phil – who is a pastor in our area, has given me permission to share his latest Facebook post and a few photos here with my sweet Happy Home readers and faithful prayer warrior friends.  This is the story of Baby Jane….**

baby jane5My wife told me we were expecting our second child two days before Christmas last year. The thought of a growing family made us so happy. There are striking differences between a second pregnancy and your first. When you’re pregnant with your first child everything is new. A world you were completely unaware of opens up before you and you’re sucked in before you realize it. A second pregnancy is much more like the other stuff of life. Exciting and thought-provoking, but measured.

During this pregnancy we ran into a handful of complications. Doctors found a small hole in Jane’s heart, and in the closing weeks of pregnancy her growth became restricted.

The complications were certainly concerning, but at the same time the doctors were very reassuring that these were somewhat common symptoms.

Over the last two months we have had multiple ultrasounds with both a cardiologist, and our high-risk pregnancy doctor. At times the appointments and the constant worry seemed annoying and unnecessary.

In mid-August, after seeing Jenny’s doctor, and fresh off my birthday celebration, which featured my first attempt at smoked pork from the new smoker, everything changed…

At 3:00am, Friday, August 16th, Jenny’s contractions began. At first they didn’t seem like contractions at all, but soon became regular cycles every ten minutes. Then, seven minutes. Then six. The specialists tell you to wait until your contractions are five minutes apart before heading to the hospital otherwise you just spend an exorbitant amount of time laying in the hospital room bed. At six minutes apart, it was time to go. We hurriedly threw clothes in a bag and called Jenny’s mom to come over and watch our 19-month-old son, Oliver.

When Jenny sat up from the bed to walk around the room, she began to feel an intense pressure. In the back of her mind she thought, “Is the baby coming? It can’t be.” She continued to get ready to leave with the pressure intensifying. Needing to be helped, I guided her slowly down the pathway to our driveway. When we were less than a few steps from the car, Jenny felt the intense pressure again and said, “I think the baby’s coming!” I, of course, immediately replied, “No, it can’t be.” They don’t come this fast. Maybe it was her water breaking.

Again, Jenny said out of breath, “The baby is COMING! THE HEAD IS COMING!” I looked down, and as Jenny was standing up, I could see Jane’s head coming out. Shocked, I dropped everything. Keys, phones, bags. We both held onto the baby’s head and in what felt like a split second, while Jenny was standing up in our driveway, at 5:45am on Friday, August 16th, 2013, Jane Abigail Letizia fell into my arms.

Completely frozen, we had no idea what to do. Drive to the hospital? Call 911? Calling 911 seemed like the best option for someone in my state of mind. Jenny, amazingly, stayed standing up with the baby, cord attached and all, gently rocking back and froth. It was like Jenny fell into this deep, peaceful meditation. I, on the other hand was the opposite.

Jenny and I have both commented on how strange and beautiful it was to simultaneously feel complete powerlessness, and the intense presence of God in the same moment. It’s the only way we know how to explain it.

The dispatcher asked us to go back inside the house if we could make it there. So, with 4 hands around this little 4 pound baby, we waddled back up the pathway to our couch inside. It seemed like ages for the paramedics to arrive. In reality, it was only a staggering four minutes. I met them out by the road.

As they attended to my wife and child, they determined Jane’s color looked good. She was OK. In an amazing moment, they handed me a scalpel, and I cut the umbilical cord on our couch.

After rushing us into Labor & Delivery, nurses quickly attended to Jenny and the baby, as did our neonatologist. After Jenny was placed in the hospital bed, I was asked to accompany the baby to the NICU. Because we had come into the hospital completely backwards, we had to inform the staff of the recommendations made by our doctors for the baby to go straight to the NICU upon birth. The hole in her heart, her growth restriction, and the possibility of an underlying genetic issue.

As I filled the doctor in, he explained to me the tests they were going to run. He then asked if we had any chromosomal testing done during the pregnancy, and I replied, “No, but we knew there was a possibility that something could be causing her lack of growth.” The doctor said the first thing he thought when he saw the baby come in, was Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome.

Now, I have to go back and fill in a few more details. I believe deep down inside, all throughout this pregnancy, I knew something was different. Something was going on. I’m a natural worrier, and over the past three months I have been wracked with worry and anxiety about the possibility of something being different about our little girl.

And when she fell into my arms, I saw it. I could see it in her face. She was a Down Syndrome baby. In the craziness of the moment, I put it out of my mind, but riding in the ambulance, in Jenny’s arms, I saw it again. I knew.

The doctor said he would send off a genetic and chromosomal test to determine if Jane was indeed born with Down Syndrome. It would take 7-10 days for an answer to arrive.

All of this happened in an hour and a half. I told Jenny the doctor thought he saw Down Syndrome in Jane. We knew it could be a possibility, but now it was becoming a reality. And right then, with my mom on my left, and Jenny on my right, I came unglued. The rollercoaster of the last few hours, and then seeing Jane most likely had Down Syndrome, was too much for me. I broke. We wept together. The tension of a few months finally released. It felt good. It felt right.

baby jane3In that moment, Jenny shared with me a passage of scripture that had never caught me before:

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

For the next 24 hours, I must have repeated those words to myself a hundred times. I would think back on the delivery and recite the words. I would think about Down Syndrome and recite the words. I would think about an uncertain future, and a four pound little girl, and recite the words, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…”

Jane has now been in the NICU for 11 days, and is almost set to come home. Slowly, she’s gained weight, learned how to eat, spent 3 days under a bilirubin light, and days readjusting her body temperature to normal.

On Friday, August 23rd, one week after her birth, the full chromosomal report came back positive for Down Syndrome.

baby jane2Jenny and I cannot express enough the gratitude we feel. To God, who is seeing us through. To our family who has stood by us. To our friends who have visited. To our church family that have taken charge and proved God is doing something special at CityChurch.

We are overwhelmed by the love and care we have received in the NICU from our nurses and doctors. In some ways, it will be sad to leave because we’ve formed friendships and bonds in the moment of crisis. These dear saints are doing God’s work.

Jenny and I, along with our family, are still processing what it means to have a child with Down Syndrome. All I can say is, she’s already impacting our lives for the better. She’s making us love one another more, and she’s revealing the selfishness of my heart and my desires.

We have a lot to learn about caring for a child with Down Syndrome. It will be a unique journey, one with many valleys, plateaus, and peaks along the way. In the little research and reading we’ve done on Down Syndrome, we’ve already come to believe Jane is God’s blessing to us. That WE are blessed to have HER in our lives.

Due to unprecedented prenatal testing in today’s world, nine out of ten babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome during pregnancy are terminated. 9/10.

Here’s what I know and believe for Jane.

Psalm 139:13-16 - “For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

baby janeThe name Jane means “God is gracious.” Although we don’t know how just yet, Jenny and I believe Jane will be God’s grace in our lives.

Somehow, she will reveal the love of Christ to us and to this world in a way that we have not yet experienced.

There is a long road ahead for her, and for us. A road paved with many hours of doctors visits and therapy, but more so with love, and family, and joy, and grace. God’s grace. I can’t wait for you to meet Jane.

Thank you so much for your prayers. For standing with us these past few weeks, and for standing with us in these weeks, months, and years to come.

**Please pray for Phil, Jenny, Oliver and Jane.  Since he wrote this, they have been discharged from the hospital and are settling into their home as a family of 4.  If you feel led, share this story with the people in your world so that everyone can hear about the hope, peace and rest we have in Christ – no matter our circumstances.  He is good.  Thank you, Phil, for giving us this precious gift.**

Why I Loved My C-Section

why one lady loved her c-section. this is funny and great for anyone who struggles to be content with their birth story

**DISCLAIMER – Please know my heart in writing this post was not to make anyone feel bad or even to find my own healing at another person’s expense.  The goal of my blog has been (and always will be) to be grateful for the circumstances life hands me and praise God for them (even if they weren’t what I had in mind).  So, sweet reader, thanks for stopping by and I pray that this post gives you a fresh and light-hearted perspective on whatever journey God has you on. Xoxo**

I had a dream that I would give birth naturally.

I was going to do the whole thing with no medication.

I wanted the pain.

I wanted the nurses to yell at me during contractions.

I wanted to hear the doctor shouting, “I see the head!”

I wanted that feeling of sweet victory in the end.

But God had other plans (which you can read more about HERE).

So I surrendered every single one of my wants at His feet, knowing that His way is always better.

csection2We had our first required C-section on July 3, 2009.

As the years passed and with a second (somewhat traumatic) C-section, even though I know God is so, so good and I know that His plans are way higher and way greater than mine, I have still found the whole thing to be a bit of a struggle in my life.

The problem is that my flesh crawls with jealousy whenever one of my friends ends up with a perfect labor and perfect delivery and perfect baby.

And it really wrecks me if I know someone who has had a successful VBAC.

In my deepest, most ugliest parts, I sometimes hope that everyone will end up with a C-section just so that I can feel better about my own.

**I know.  You probably don’t want to read my blog anymore because now you know how awful I am!**

These thoughts of mine are not okay, people, and it is my responsibility to take them and capture them for Christ – to replace them with thoughts of gratitude and other ‘excellent, noble, and praiseworthy’ things (Philippians 4:8).

It is my heart’s desire is to give these sins over to God and to truly, truly find joy and contentment and healing and freedom in the story that He has written for me.

This post is an effort to do that.

And I hope it gives you a good giggle, too. :-)

Because today I am listing 11 awesome reasons why I think my required C-sections were pretty great.

Reason #11You have a plan.  This is so helpful for all us control freaks.  You know what to expect and when to expect it.  None of this baby’s-coming-in-the-backseat-of-the-car drama or waiting-around-playing-every-board-game-in-your-house business.  When people ask when your baby is due, you can respond with a confident smile and a precise date of arrival.

csectionReason #10 - You can look gorgeous for photos.  I loved that I could wake up on the morning of my surgery and put on a full face of make-up, knowing that it wouldn’t get messed up during delivery.  Sparkly eye shadow was a must!

Reason #9 - You don’t poop yourself on the delivery table.  I hear this happens to some women when it comes time to push.  C-sections are much more dignified (if you don’t mind your organs being passed around – lol!).

Reason #8 - You get to pick your child’s birthday.  This was so fun.  We ended up being able to pick April 3rd for the Happy Baby so that both of our kids were born on the 3rd.  Easy to remember – which is good for me because I feel like each of my babies took a bit of my brain with them when they came out (and this does not speak well of how much of a brain I began with).

Reason #7 - You are guaranteed no pain during the event.  Not exactly the way it was when Eve was doing it, but think of it this way – Jesus came to release us from the curse.  Let the medicine be a reminder of that grace. :-)  But if you’re still wanting to be a hero, just go home without your pain meds.

Reason #6 - The scar turns your whole upper body into a giant smiley face.  Think about it…  The scar is the smile… Your belly button is the nose…  Albeit a saggy smile (as in my case because I pumped for 14 months), but It’s a happy reminder whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

csection4Reason #5 - You have a really easy explanation of where babies come from without getting into the birds and the bees with your toddler.  Because I never do ANYTHING without a little person on my heals, the Happy Buddy has seen my scar on occasion and has asked about it.  It is pretty cool that I can tell him, “That is where you came out of my tummy, you cutie-patootie!  Now may I please use the potty in peace?!” :-)

Reason #4 - Your baby’s head won’t look like a football.  I hear babies born vaginally look kind of like a cone-head in the beginning.  Your baby gets to skip that part and go straight to rockin’ his perfectly-shaped skull.

Reason #3 - You have an awesome reason to get a good wax job.  Hey, I’m just sayin’.  If everyone and their brother is going to be seeing your hoo-ha in the OR, you better clean it up a bit (plus, they hand you a razor when you get to the hospital, so thinking ahead is a real timesaver).

Reason #2You don’t have to worry about urinary incontinence.  I hear that once you’ve pushed out a few babies the muscles down there can get a bit relaxed and therefore interfere with normal functions like peeing.  If you have a C-section, you never have to worry that the joke someone told in the break room is going to render you wet for the rest of the afternoon.  Go jump on that trampoline with your Happy Buddies!  No diapers for you, lady!

And the #1 reason I loved having a C-section is…

Your Happy Hubby is thankful for the preservation of your lady parts! {Wink wink!}

csection3I am NOT trying to convince you to have a C-section.  C-sections are major, super serious surgery and if I had had a choice (as I said at the beginning of this post), I would have TOTALLY embraced urinary incontinence and Kegels and pooping on a delivery table to have my babies naturally.  Maybe with an epidural (or 10 epidurals – ha!).

But I did not have a choice with either of my babies and I simply want to glorify God with the birthing stories I do have.

I want to be thankful for what He did instead of grumbly for what He didn’t.

I want to be obedient to His will, not mine.

Now those are some better wants than all the others at the beginning of this post.

Happy C-section-ing! :-)

“…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The One Where I Feel Like a Failure

*Note – If you don’t like hearing about poop or other things pertaining to the potty, you may not want to read this post.  And you may not want to be eating anything while reading this post.  Just a heads up.*

This mothering business is awesome and wonderful and precious and it’s the whole reason why I blog.

But holy poop (and I mean poop.  Read on).

This mothering business is H-A-R-D.

I come to you tonight with some pretty raw feelings, friends.  These last few weeks have not been easy for me as a mama.  In fact, I have wondered on more than one occasion why in the world we prayed so hard to have kids!

{{gasp!!!!}}

I know, I know.  Happy Home Fairy?!?!  What are you saying!??!  You are a FRAUD.

Ohhhh, but it happened.  And it feels strangely therapeutic to share it with the thousands of you, sweet readers (who I pray won’t judge me). :-)

It all began about a month ago when the Happy Baby started having the WORST constipation on the planet (or so I thought – keep reading).

I had just switched his formulas and his little body needed some time to get used to the new one.  Meanwhile, about every couple of hours he would have these ‘poop attacks’ where he just needed to grunt and cry and push and be held for a good 15 minutes while he worked away.

Well, big brother started to get a bit jealous of all the attention little brother was getting so big brother decided to go park it on the potty and push his ever-living… POOP SACK OUT.

Yup, you read that right.  My son pushed so hard that he had what, in the medical world, is known as a rectal prolapse.

Basically it means that the inner lining of his rectum fell out.

(Hey, I warned you at the beginning of the post.)

When I came into the bathroom and found him bent over with what looked like a brain hanging out of his body, I almost lost my marbles.  Or my lunch.  Probably both happened.  I don’t really remember because I was in a self-induced coma.

Of course the Happy Hubby was not home when this seemingly impossible situation occurred.  So I frantically called my mother-in-law who informed me that I needed to PUSH IT BACK IN.

Dear Mommy friends, I pray that you never EVER have to become as acquainted with your child’s physical insides as I did that fateful night.

So I mustered up every ounce of strength I possibly could and I stuffed that thing back in.  Then I excused myself to the bedroom where I rolled into a ball and rocked back and forth for about an hour.  I do not think I blinked once for that entire 60 minutes.

The doctor informed me the next day that she didn’t think the Happy Buddy was jealous at all.  She thought he had really been dealing with some serious constipation too.

I brushed off her comment.  He definitely had poop issues, but he was just being a big brother.

Several weeks have passed and he is still having problems.

I feel like for the last 9 days all we have done is hang out in the bathroom (note my daily posts dwindling to 3 a week – if I’m lucky.  Poop is not very inspiring.  Just sayin’.), with nothing to validate our time as well spent.

Long story short, we ended up at the doctor again today where I told her about the constipation and some other strange symptoms he was experiencing (I’ll spare you the details here as I am sure you are still recovering from the prolapse.  I don’t think I will ever recover from that).

She nodded her head and then she started grilling me about the Happy Buddy’s eating habits.

And the more questions she asked, the more terrible I felt.

Doctor: How much water is he drinking?

Me: Uhhhh… I know he drinks some before bed and maybe at lunch time?

Doctor:  What kinds of fruits and vegetables is he eating?

Me: Uhhh… do those squeeze-y things count????

Why couldn’t she ask me questions like, “How many fun activities did you do this week?”

Then to finish the whole conversation off with a punch to the gut she basically informed me that I needed to overhaul our son’s diet in order to get him regulated…  OR HE COULD DIE.

I am not even kidding.  Apparently he is not just constipated, he is OBstipated, which is way worse and means his bowels could literally RUPTURE and he could die.

Sometimes I feel like my life is a constant state of CRISIS.  It started with the Happy Baby’s birth and hasn’t really stopped and seems to bop back and forth between children.  Is this just me or is there anyone else out there who feels like they are always in a metaphorical ambulance?!?

Needless to say, I walked away from that appointment feeling quite defeated.  We’ve struggled with the Happy Buddy being a picky eater.  I’ve tried all the picky eater tricks out there.  He gives me an appreciative pat on the back when I turn his grapes into a caterpillar or his apple slices into a sun, but he won’t touch ‘em.  He is too smart for the whole “Look at these magical little green trees!” bit.  And I even bought that cookbook by Seinfield’s wife about hiding vegetables in everything, but he was not to be fooled.

This kid knows how to fight and, to be honest, I have let him win over and over because it is easier.

That is where the word FAILURE popped into my brain today as the doctor’s words rang in my ears…  You are literally killing your son by giving in to his demands.  You don’t know how to feed your child, or your family, for that matter (don’t even get me started on the Happy Baby’s eating issues).

Ironically we didn’t have any food in the house and I had planned to stop at Publix to get some things for dinner on the way home from our doom and gloom appointment.  I called my mom as I drove to the store and basically said, “The doctor told me he has a condition that could make him DIE.  I can’t believe this is my life!”

:-(

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point.  Why does it seem so easy for other people to get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables (or on a grander scale – simply keep them alive?)??  I follow so-and-so on Instagram and she posts photos all the time of cute Target kid lunch plates piled high with strawberries and broccoli and happy children munching away.  Why do I have to stand on my head to get my kids to even open their mouths for something that is not beige?!?!?!

Seriously, when I get to heaven I am asking God why He didn’t make cauliflower taste like chocolate.

<<<<<<Insert gospel choir shouting “Amen!” here.>>>>>>

So there I am in the grocery store hating the fact that I bear the weight of responsibility for this precious, incredible, super strong-willed boy.  Hating myself for letting us get this far down the road of picky eating.  And hating that I have to make the changes and do the hard thing of teaching my child what is good for him in the way of asparagus and kiwi.

I mean, I already pushed the poop sack in, I kind of feel like I should be exempt from every other difficult aspect of being a mom.

And right in that moment when I was literally thinking, “You are the worst mom in. the. universe.” I looked up and saw this.

balloon of encouragement

There, floating above the vegetables, no less, was a word from the Lord.

Who put a balloon in the produce basket I will never know.

But I know that my God cares about me and wanted me to hear that message in that moment.

Tears filled my eyes and I knew we’d get through this.

Just as with all the other hard mommy things He has seen me through.

He gives the grace and the strength to fail forward.

A little Miralax and hopefully we’ll be back in business.  A little alarm in my amazing new iPhone to remind him to drink water.

Then we’re going to be making some changes around our Happy Home with regard to the way the Happy Buddy eats.

Veggie Boot Camp, here we come.

I am not a failure.

I am a special mom.

Special in that I am the mommy God chose to care for these completely amazing and complex children.

Not so-and-so on Instagram.

Me.

Unique and marvelous me.

Unique in my sins, yes.

But loved by a God who can redeem them and make a whole lotta good come out of something that seems so… well, poopy.

Like maybe one day I will be able to write a book for moms called How to Be Okay When Your Kid’s Poop Sack Falls Out.

- Julie

“But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

*I sure would appreciate your prayers more than your advice in this.  I am very fragile at the moment and being told more clever ways about getting picky eaters to eat will just overwhelm my heart.  I feel so much better just writing this and knowing that y’all are here for me.  I am also super thankful that you made it to the bottom of this post – hopefully without ralphing. :-)  Xoxo*