A Place to Sleep

We’re staring down the home stretch of this pregnancy to a due date.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve finally let myself do some of the things.  We organized some closets.  We ordered some size one diapers (I grow big babies).  My mom graciously washed newborn clothes and bottles and we put them in their place.  I’m starting to believe this may actually happen.  This baby may be born healthy and strong.  It may even come home.

FDED7223-92A4-4B24-989B-40B209C6C3F0We’re more minimalist than I thought I would be as a parent.  No perfectly decorated nursery for Emerson or this next child.  Our plan for this one is a pack and play in the office till sleeping through the night is a thing.  Then, both children will share.  I’ve gone back and forth feeling guilty about this.  Should my children have perfectly decorated rooms?  Shouldn’t I have a picture to post of that?

I’ve started to think about some of the newborn things.  Schedules.  Breast feeding.  Pumping.  How to juggle two children.  Laundry.  Bottle washing.  All the things.  I’ve started to ask a few questions of others about what the next few months may look like.  I’m in a few mom Facebook groups that I’ve started to pay more attention to recently as I watch discussions about naps and feedings.  I’ve read about the exhaustion and frustration.

We had set aside today to have some fun with Emerson and to do some good cleaning of our house.  Nothing says I’m 38 weeks pregnant with an object the size of a watermelon in my belly like scrubbing a toilet.  Well we had set aside today to only focus on some cleaning.

F8AAA42C-46F4-4DB2-AE64-B6C600CD25D0Late yesterday I received a message from a pregnant teenager saying she needed a place to live, 11 weeks pregnant and very unsure of what her future holds.  Then Donte needed our help today too.  He’s been out of a 3-month-jail-stay for a probation violation (maybe more about that in the future) for less than 48 hours and is already running out of options.  Smith and Smith Social Services was open for business.  I was researching pregnancy housing one minute and editing our list of resources for Donte to call the next.  JR was on the phone with him planning a route on public transportation for them to meet so Donte could borrow a computer to do some research.

IMG_2159I think about these three people – my “first” boy Donte, this pregnant teenager, and her unborn child – they aren’t sure where they are going to sleep in the near future.  While we were a little distracted at times today, I explained to Emerson that we were helping Donte find a bed in which to sleep.

“A big bed?” She asked.  She’s very fascinated with the idea of a big bed right now.  She had one for three days in June and then was demoted for bad behavior on my birthday.

“Yes, honey a very big bed.  Donte is taller than the door.  He used to sleep in the bed in your room.”

Then we prayed for Donte to find a safe bed.

It’s easy to fall into the middle-class motherhood trap, where the things matter so much.  I’ve caught myself being tempted by those things in recent days.  But today my heart broke for three people who are worried about something much more basic – where to sleep, what to eat, where to live.

When JR went back to pick up our computer from Donte, I sent him with a packed dinner of anything I could find in our fridge.  Our 6-foot-8-man-boy had only eaten once in 48 hours.

Being a parent is not an easy task, I’m very aware of that.  I’m also aware that its a tremendous gift.    I’m writing tonight to remind myself in a few weeks that when I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by the daily things (the laundry, the spit up, the crying, the lack of sleep) and when I’m tempted to focus on complaining about how hard it is, that all this baby really needs is a safe place to sleep, some food to eat, and some love.  With Jesus in me, I can do all of that.

It’s a broken world we’re bringing a child into.  Today was a painful reminder of that. There are so many “kids” out there who haven’t been given what we hope to give our children.  It’s not as it should be.

One of our favorite children books is “God made light.”  The line that currently makes me teary says, “And on the day you were born God said ‘Let there be light.'” 

With that truth, I hope to bring our next child into the world.  Baby, we want you to be the kind of person that will work to push back darkness in the world.  The kind of person that will love Jesus and be light to those living in brokenness.  We want you to grow up to be an adult who will care for women in crisis pregnancy situations and minority men who have fallen into the broken criminal justice cycle and other people like them.  In the meantime, your mama is going to try her hardest to not sweat the less important stuff (your appearance, your performance, your nursery, nor your schedule).  Hope to see you soon.  If you want to come tonight, that’d be great because the house is perfectly clean and that like never happens.

Dad’s day

When Emerson was just a few weeks old, JR and I went to lunch at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants with our precious girl asleep in her carrier.  The man sitting next to us struck up a conversation with us when he saw JR’s “Young Life” hat.  We talked briefly about ministry, DTS and our newborn.  The man finished his meal, exited the restaurant and then came back to our table with a book for JR on being a dad.  As he handed him the book he said, “Be a dad, not just a father.”  After he left, we talked about this statement and what it means to be a dad.

It seems to me that father is the term used for the role and dad is more a term of endearment.  Dads do more than just donate a sperm.  Dads provide.  Dads love.  Dads show up.  Dads forgive.  Dads encourage.  Dads teach.  Dads discipline.  Dads cheer.  Dads support.  Dads hug.  Dads play.

daddy and me blanket

I recently returned from a week of Young Life camp with teen moms.  As I listened to their stories, I was shocked by how many of their parents have completely dropped the ball on parenting.  The effects have been devastating to these teenagers.  These girls have needed their dads and most of them barely have a father.  After every week of Young Life camp I attend, I am incredibly thankful for both my parents, especially my dad.  My dad has always been active and involved in my life.  He has embodied what it means to be a dad.

Daddy and me alex baptism

While I was growing up, my dad played with me.  Whenever he came home from work he would jump in with whatever I was doing.  He played make believe.  He played with toys.  He played tennis with me.  He wrestled with us.  He tickled us.  We played hide and seek for hours.  I remember thinking of him as my playmate, not just an adult.

Daddy and me selfie

I can’t remember a time where I ever doubted my dad’s love for me.  He made it clear with his words and his actions that he loved me.  He communicated his love for me over and over again.  He said, “I love you.”  He gave me hugs and kisses.  He gave me back tickles for hours.  He came to my side in the middle of the night when I yelled for him to ask for a drink of water from the cup on my nightstand.  Bless him for that.  As I have become an adult, he has called me and texted me.  Once we started living in separate cities, he took me to fancy dinners when he was in town.  He has made it a priority to see me.  I have always known that he loves me.

Daddy and me

Before I write them, I almost want to eat these words.  My former teenage self is cringing right now.  In my head, I can hear my mom saying, “You’ll thank us for this later.”  Part of me hates it, but she’s right.  My dad wasn’t afraid to tell me no.  I am so thankful for that.  Yes, he was a little easier to get a yes out of than mom; but, he still gave me rules and boundaries.  He wasn’t afraid of taking away a privilege.  He was fine not being my friend for a few hours, days or weeks.  He gave me a curfew.  He grounded me on occasion.  He yelled at me when I deserved it.  He corrected me if I mouthed off to my mother.  Much to my dismay, I did not run my house when I was a teenager.  Already with Emerson, I am learning that saying no may be one of the best ways I can love her.  My dad told me no when he knew it was going to be in my best interest for the long-term.  As an adolescent, I did not know how to always choose what was best for me.  My dad communicated his love for me by stepping in and giving me guidance and boundaries when I needed them most.

Hook em daddy and me

My father is a dad because he played, he loved and he said no.  I love him so!

 

Happy Dad’s Day!

Wedding daddy and me

 

Preparing for baby

I am so ready to welcome this baby to the world and get it out of the womb.  Months ago I didn’t think I would ever say those words.  It seemed impossible to ever feel ready.  Driven by discomfort, I am now ready.

Logistically, we’re not totally ready.  There is no nursery.  It’s not decorated perfectly.  There won’t be one in this house.  We’re still planning to move in August but we don’t know where – Dallas, Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Africa – the whole world is still fair game.  This babe won’t have a perfectly decorated nursery, but it will be loved.  I think that’s going to be more than enough.

For awhile, our guest room was a quickly filling storage unit.  We had all of Donte‘s belongings on one side of the room and a growing pile of things for our baby on the other side of the room.  Over a few weeks, the baby pile quickly outgrew the Donte pile.  It was an interesting picture.

20150322- 056

All of the belongings of a six foot eight nineteen-year-old compared to all of the belongings of our unborn child.

Baby Belongings

Baby Belongings

More baby belongings

More baby belongings

Still more baby belongings

Still more baby belongings

The possessions do have one thing in common.  The majority of them were not purchased by the owner’s family.   Donte moved into our home with very little originally.  Thanks to the generosity of our community and the two families he lived with after us, he has collected some nice possessions: several pairs of good shoes (size 17), thick winter coats (from his time in Arkansas) and a nice set of luggage.  I’m not sure I’ve bought a single item for our baby at this point (BLESS YOU GENEROUS PEOPLE who have showered us and this child with love).  Both Donte and our baby have been blessed by the generosity of others.

But who knew a small person’s belongings could take up so much room in a home?  Is it all necessary?  Is it too much?  We are beyond thankful for the generosity of others.  Yet at the same time, we’ve been overwhelmed by the differences already between our baby’s life and Donte’s life.

We’re overjoyed that we have the opportunity to love this baby.  We can’t believe the number of people that love this child already and want to provide for it.  We’re thankful that this baby will know love, joy, generosity and abundant grace from a young age.  Yet at the same time, we’re sad that Donte has not had this same experience.

While we have prepared for baby and continued to care for Donte, we have been reminded about what is truly important.  It’s not the stuff.  It’s not the pinterest perfect nursery.  It’s not monogrammed outfits.  It’s not the outfit accessories nor the organic cotton everything.  I will buy things for my child.  I know others will continue to do so too.

But most importantly, I’m going to love this little life with everything I have.  I’m going to love my God and my husband.  I want to raise this little one in a home that overflows with love.  Something tells me it wasn’t his lack of possessions that impacted Donte’s life the most, it was the years where he lacked love.

We love you baby and we can't wait to meet you

We love you baby and we can’t wait to meet you