Friday, November 6, 2015

The smile I didn't want, but needed

While Nev and I were out and about today, I decided to make a quick stop to Walmart on the way home.  I decided to wear her throughout the store since she just can't quite sit up in the cart yet.  A few people complimented her or my wrap as we walked through the store.  One woman stopped me to ask me how I made something to wrap her like that.  I explained that I bought the wrap, but gave a quick one-liner about baby wearing.  English was not her first language, and I don't understand thick accents very well, so it was taking all of my concentration to have a conversation with her.  She asked me several questions about wrapping.  About a minute in, though, she abruptly changed the subject to why she *really* stopped to talk to me.

A church group in which she is involved has started a Bible study and she was out to recruit members.  She asked where I go to church and I told her.  I was in a part of town very far from my house and much farther from my congregation.  I explained that I appreciated it, but I didn't think that would work for me.  She went on to tell me how much I needed to study with her about "God the Mother - the female image of God."  She gave me a whole spiel about how we have only ever been taught about God the Father and that we are missing who God really is since we were made in His image - men and women alike.

I told her that I didn't believe that the Bible referenced God in that way.  I said I had been studying the Bible since I was a child - not to "one up" her or anything like that, but to explain that I wasn't basing my reasoning on my own thoughts.  She said that 2000 years ago, Jesus brought a new teaching that most didn't believe because it isn't what they had been taught.  It took 12 men to be open-minded enough to listen to what Jesus had to say.  She went on and on about God creating everything and that we as women were made in His image, as well.  I started to wonder if maybe they were using a shock factor to get people interested, but ultimately just want both men and women to know that they are children of God... maybe?  I mentioned that maybe my disagreement with that concept is just semantics, that I might not disagree with the basic principles she was referencing.

Honestly, at this point I was just trying to end the conversation.  Nev doesn't have much patience for standing still, and we were testing her limits as she kept reminding me.  I had already told this woman that I was not interested, but I was *not* going to be rude to her, either.  Here's where the whole conversation changed.  I was trying to dismiss her while being respectful and polite.  She said that it was the end times and now is when we need to be studying about God.  I jumped in and said, "Yes, I understand, but I am a saved person.  I have a wonderful relationship with God."

Then she smiled.  It wasn't a sweet smile, it was a smile that I knew all too well.  It was a smile tinged with pity and a hint of "if only you knew the truth..."  It made my stomach sink in my gut, but that was a moment of clarity.  See, I have been on the other side of that conversation a thousand times.  For a large part of my life, I talked to people about the Bible and salvation and when they told me they were saved, or about their relationship with Jesus, I gave them "the smile."  It's knowing that the conversation is over because the poor, sad person you were talking to wouldn't listen to your superior knowledge of what it means to be saved.

It made me sick.  It made me sick to think that this woman thought she knew more about my salvation than I did.  And then it made me sick to know that I had been on that side of the conversation most of my life.

I am ashamed.

With as much genuine sweetness as I could muster, I told her that I appreciated her talking to me and that she might get better reception with people who don't already have a relationship with God.

I know I could have handled the situation better.  I know there are a thousand things I could have told her.  But honestly, I think God used that situation to teach me a lesson that's been a long time coming.  If nothing else, it's that I should be humble when talking to others about their relationships with God.  I can not assume I know more about their salvation than they do (but be willing to talk to them about it if they are unsure).  And I hope to never make someone feel inferior by giving them "the smile."

Have you been on either side of that conversation?  What would you have done differently?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventures in Mommyhood: Our (very detailed) Birth Story

What a whirlwind it has been!  Baby girl is 2 months old now, and I am just now feeling like I have a few extra minutes in a day to get on the computer.  Being momma has changed my life completely... and becoming momma was such an awesome experience!

My last bump pic - 5/12/2015

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Jake and I were anxiously waiting for the moment I would start having contractions.  We were planning a home birth.  We hired two doulas, we had taken a hypnobirthing class, I was seeing my midwife once a week, I was getting weekly chiropractic adjustments to make sure baby was in a good position - we were READY!  After a few days of very very mild contractions, I finally woke up on May 13th at about 2:30 in the morning with serious contractions.  They weren't very painful, but I could tell this was the real deal.  They were strong enough to wake me up, so I got up and waited through a few more contractions before I woke Jake up.  Jake was so excited, he wanted to call the midwife and doulas right away. :)  I told him we should time the contractions for a while before we alerted everyone and he reluctantly agreed.  We were going to time them for an hour, but Jake gave in after about 40 minutes.  I was having consistent contractions about 5 minutes apart and he called to let everyone know.

My cousin, Jennie, was coming later to take pictures of the birth so before anything got serious, I put some makeup on and did my hair so that it was up and out of the way.  It had been months since I'd had sugar, so part of my birth plan was to start making a dump cake as soon as I went into labor so I waddled to the kitchen and got started.  Mom arrived during that process and took over for me.  I could still do it, but my adrenaline was pumping at this point!  The doulas arrived around 5 a.m.  I honestly wasn't sure how I was going to utilize a doula, much less two, but it seemed to be part of the home birth process.  One of the doulas took over timing my contractions.  I was pretty amped up, but they both thought that it was going to be a long day (my contractions were less consistent, but were getting stronger).  They were suggesting different positions, we went for a walk, all trying to get my contractions to be timed more consistently.  I felt like I needed to stand up all morning, but they thought I needed to get some sleep since it would be quite a while before baby got here.  At some point, they called my midwife from the other room to tell her that it was going to be a long day and that they were here too early.  The midwife called me and told me that.  I even had a contraction while I was on the phone with her, but apparently I am not the screaming type, so I just breathed through it while she was talking. She suggested that I send the doulas home and all of us get some sleep and just to call them later when things picked back up.  After we hung up, I cried.  Not because of the pain, but because this laboring thing was getting intense and if this wasn't hard labor, I wasn't sure how I was going to do when it got real.

Well, one of the doulas left, but the other stayed because she felt bad since I cried.  She talked me into sitting down and resting.  I did that, and closed my eyes between contractions, but they were so intense, and my adrenaline was still going strong.  I wasn't sitting long that I had a contraction and heard a tiny little "pop."  I thought I had peed a little, so I got up to use the restroom and clean up.  Looking back on it now, we think that is when my water broke.  I came back to the living room and she said I needed to eat something.  Honestly, eating at that point sounded awful.  Even if I had been offered cake, I would not have wanted it!  I took a bite of yogurt and felt like I needed to go to the restroom.  (Sorry if this part feels like TMI) I finished and went back in the den.  I was only in the den about a minute when I felt like I needed to go again.  So, I went in the bathroom and sat on the toilet because that felt the most comfortable.  All of the sudden my body was pushing and I could not stop it.  I still thought I was pooping, though, so it was all very confusing.  Jake came in there with me and I was making these moaning sounds while my body was doing the pushing thing.  The doula heard that and came in the bathroom.  She sent Jake to start filling the birthing tub (that was a miscommunication, since I did not plan to have the baby in the water - it was just there for laboring!) and she looked to make sure there was not a baby head coming out of me.  She stepped out to call my midwife.  Looking back, it seems silly that I didn't realize what was happening, but I really didn't realize I was pushing a baby out!  I thought this was just a different kind of contraction or something.  With each contraction, I couldn't stop the pushing.  The doula kept trying to talk me through it, breathing through it, but my body would only push!  She talked me into getting off the toilet (I definitely needed some convincing, since it felt like I was pooping with every push!) and onto the bed.  Jake was back with us at this point because there was a problem with the tub.  I climbed onto the bed on my hands/knees.  At this point, it was real.  I knew what was happening, and I could tell that the doula was doing everything she could to help postpone it until the midwife got here.  I wasn't scared, though.  Even though I was confused, my body was not.  It knew exactly what needed to be done and it was doing it!  The doula was praying over me and had me breathe through one contraction (instead of pushing) and it was literally the hardest thing I have ever done.  I was only able to do it through one contraction!

There was a ring at the doorbell and Jake went to answer it.  He knew we were getting close, but had no idea just how close we were to meeting our baby!  The assistant midwife was at the door.  He calmly told her that we were back in the bedroom and led the way.  This woman I had never met before walked in and I guess you would technically say that she checked me, but that consisted of getting a look at the situation and seeing my baby's head!  She got out the doppler to check the baby's heart rate.  Meanwhile, I started to have another contraction and the baby was making their way out!  Three contractions later, I felt our sweet baby enter the world as daddy caught her and handed her to me.  Since everything happened so fast, Jennie did not make it to take pictures before little missy got here, but the doula snapped this - which turned out to be my very favorite picture ever. (Excuse the obvious nakedness, but the edited version of this pic just doesn't make me nearly as happy!)

A few minutes after baby girl arrived, my midwife got to the house.  She was so disappointed that she missed it, but everything turned out just fine.  Hopefully she'll make it to the next birth - I'm thinking that I'm too independent to really get much benefit from a doula, so I'll be the only one telling my midwife how my labor is going.  I definitely think that will be a good thing!

So, there's our birth story!  I love telling it and I love reliving it as I do.  I can't wait to do birth again - it was AWESOME!

Oh, P.S. I totally ate a big piece of dump cake as soon as I was ready for food! It was amazing! :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A new perspective on church

I am 35 weeks pregnant right now.  Jake and I are so excited to welcome our first baby!  Pregnancy has been pretty easy.  The first trimester was hard because I spent about 5 weeks of it on the couch and nauseated constantly, but after that it's been smooth sailing for the most part.  I mean, there have been a few nuisances along the way, but nothing major.  My blood sugar was higher than my midwife liked, so I have been on a high-protein low-carb diet for the past 6 weeks.  And she really encouraged healthy eating the whole pregnancy, so before the new diet, I was already eating well.  Because of all that, I haven't gained much weight.  Yes, baby is growing well and will probably be a big baby anyway, but thankfully I won't have a ton of extra weight to lose once baby gets here.  I do have to keep reminding myself of that when I get tired of not having any sugar. :)

One of the things that we want to do before the baby gets here is to find a church home.  We left our former church almost a year ago and have been visiting another pretty regularly since then, but neither feel like "home."  Since looking for a church home, Jake and I have both learned that although actual worship is such a big part of feeling comfortable in a church, what happens after church is what makes us feel at home.  Right now we are just really struggling to find a balance between the community we feel with people after church and edifying worship.  Several years ago, I was blessed enough to be part of such a place, but, well, things change.

I feel like this could be a lesson for many of us.  Making worship something spectacular can be a beneficial thing, but it doesn't matter if the people in attendance don't feel like part of the family.  The song service might sometimes be "off," the preacher might be boring, I might get distracted during communion, but if the final "amen" is said and I spend the next 30 minutes or so feeling like part of a family - loved, wanted, appreciated, etc. - then I can leave the building saying "This has been a great day!"  When we start bringing our new bundle to church, we want him/her to be in a community that really focuses on the "after church" experience.  Because that is what will make him/her feel like part of God's family.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

No Big Deal, but I'm a Hippie

Yes, you read that right.  I am not-so-slowly becoming a hippie.  The more common word these days is "crunchy" but without the political and some of the social aspects, it's the same thing.

In my previous life, I would have silently judged someone for saying that they got most of their care from a chiropractor.  I would have rolled my eyes if someone wouldn't pop a pill for a headache.  I had sarcastic comments on the ready for people who wanted to eat all organic food.

Well, I have gone to the dark side.

Although I was judgmental about crunchy ways most of my life, it was always with the exception of my beliefs and perception of pregnancy/labor/childbirth.  I have always been one to want to let nature do its thing in that regard, but now that I am looking forward to having a family, growing kids right here in my body, and raising them to be healthy (physically, mentally, spiritually), I have decided that maybe doing things naturally can extend to more areas of my life.

I'm kind of a "dive in head first" person.  So, a few months ago I decided that I wanted to prepare my body for pregnancy.  With all the health concerns for children that are prevalent today that weren't even a thing to consider 30 years ago, I just began to wonder if there's something I can do now to starts our kids out in a healthy way.

--Can I just stop right here and say that I am not trying to be judgey about others that didn't come to these same ideas?  We all do the best we can with the information we have when we have it.  And even then, we might come to completely different conclusions.--

So, back to preparing my body for pregnancy.  I am not even sure how or when I took the plunge, but I decided that I wanted to start detoxing my body of chemicals.  Since I know adjusting your diet in that way is quite a process and not exactly cheap (or that's what I thought!), I decided to start with my hair.  Probably a weird choice, but that's what I did.  Yes, me - the girl who had to shampoo every single day because she had such greasy hair.  Yes, me - the girl who has hair down to her knees.  Yes, me - the girl who took *such* good care of her hair to ensure that it was "healthy."  Yes, me.

Funny enough, my Papaw used to tell me every time I was at his house that shampoo is bad for my scalp and washing my hair every day is why my hair was so oily.  He grew up in the back-woods po-dunk mountains of Kentucky, so honestly I just ignored him because I thought he couldn't possibly know what he was talking about.  We live in civilization now, Papaw.  Huh.  Come to find out, he might have had a clue!  I haven't used conventional shampoo or conditioner on my hair in two months.  If I use baking soda to give it a good cleaning, I can go almost a week before I feel like I need to rinse it again.  This Friday will be my longest stretch of 3 weeks of water-only cleaning.  So. cool!

We've also started eating *mostly* organic and local.  I need to tell ya - if you don't already do this... DO IT!  Jake and I were both really surprised at the difference in taste just from things as simple as hamburger and eggs.  If you like breakfast now, try it with fresh from the farm eggs, bacon, milk, sausage, etc.  It is just too amazing!

It's going to be an adventure and hopefully I can keep this blog updated on the process!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Smartest Person in the Room

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

I recently read one of those “40 things you should know to improve your life” or some other ridiculousness and this quote was on the list.  I usually dismiss most of what those things say, but that one really struck me.  I am a competitive person and I come from an intellectual family, so you can imagine that being the “smartest person in the room” has always been an aspiration for me.  I don’t think I ever have actually been the smartest person, per se, aside from times I have been the only adult in a room of toddlers.

As I tend to always relate things to faith, Christianity, church, etc. I immediately thought of the goal that many of us (especially the competitive types) have to be the most biblically knowledgeable person in the room, or in our circle, or on the internet, etc.  Maybe biblically knowledgeable isn’t always the goal.  Maybe we want people to see us as the most godly, or the most spiritually mature, or the one who has it all figured out, or the expert on whatever fill-in-the-blank crusade we’re on at the moment.  None of those are necessarily bad things, some are worthy and lofty and GOOD goals… except for the idea that we need to be the one at the top.

I am so guilty of this.  I don’t want to be, but I am.  I realized a few years ago that I am a competitive person and it infiltrates all aspects of my life.  Being competitive, I guess, doesn’t have to be a bad thing but it often, maybe always, leads to pride.  Yes, I want to be the smartest, the most godly, the expert, the best… and why?  Wanting to be smart, godly, knowledgeable, and good – those are wonderful.  But add that superlative and it becomes pride.

I had a conversation a few years ago with a friend.  We were talking about politics, but what he said is pretty universal.  He said something along the lines of this, “Instead of trying to always convince others that I’m right, I would rather actually be right.”  I am not quoting him well, but I think you get what he was saying.  If we walk into the room thinking we are the smartest in the room – or even if we actually are – we are not in a position to learn.  Entering a conversation thinking that you have all the answers leaves no room for you to actually get all the answers.  Sometimes we are in a position to teach others, and that might put us in a more knowledgeable position about what we are teaching, but if you enter those situations thinking that it is an opportunity for others to learn from all your knowledge, it closes your mind to the idea that it can be an opportunity for you, as well.

As I said before, I am guilty of this.  Next time I find myself being the most ________ (whatever) in the room, I need to either humble myself enough to realize it’s  an opportunity for me, as well, or I need to change rooms to one filled with people  ________er than me.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Best Friend's Baby OR The Biggest Surprise of My Life

Last week, my best cousin, Rachel, asked me if I would be off work on Wednesday and if I would like to hang out with her.  It was kind of random, but we were way overdue for some one-on-one girl time.  She said that her mother-in-law would have the kids for a couple hours and we could hang out.  I made sure my schedule was clear and penned her in.  She said to be at her house around 9 a.m.  Wow, does she know me?  Why would I want to get up in time to be across town that early on a day off!?!  I asked her if she had something in mind, or were we just gonna veg out at her house, or what?  She said she had something in mind, but it was a surprise.  And she knows we're on a budget, so she assured me it wouldn't cost me a dime.

A surprise for me?  It's not even my birthday!?  We used to celebrate Valentine's Day together, so I thought maybe this would be our Valentine's "date."  My mind starting wondering what in the world she would have planned so early in the morning.  I told Jake about it and he thought that sounded exciting.  In the next few days, I mentioned it to my mom and she was curious, too!  We decided it had to be pedicures or something like that.  What else would she use to surprise me that required an appointment?

Wednesday came and she texted me that morning and told me that I didn't have to hurry - our appointment got moved to noon. AHA!  We DID have an appointment somewhere!  Yup, pedicures for sure.  No doubt.  There just weren't any other possibilities in my mind, but sweet!  My toes need it bad!  I remember looking at my feet and getting frustrated because I had just torn one of my big toenails and the pedicure lady would probably have a hard time making it look good. lol

I get to her house early enough that we just sit around and watch a talk show for a few minutes, catch up on life in the past week, etc.  Around 11:30 she asks if I'm ready for my surprise.  Yeah!  We start heading to south Arlington, then I start getting confused.  She had to pass at least 25 nail salons and I was getting more and more confused.  We get off the highway by a shopping center and I think there must be a salon there.  Maybe she got a groupon?  Nope, passed the shopping center.  She looks at one of two office buildings and mentions how she needs to check the address again.  She does that, and then heads towards one.  We had to pull a U-turn at a hospital entrance to get to the building and I joking asked her if I was having a baby and she's surprising me with it?

So we start walking into the building and I just keep saying, "I have no idea!  It's not even my birthday!" and I'm thinking she is taking me to some ticket broker's office because she got me Opening Day tickets... or maybe we're getting massages... or they really DID win the lottery and she's taking me to get my "best friend bonus" as she calls it.  Seriously, these were all thoughts going through my head. We're still walking in and Rachel says, "Maybe we're going to see someone that works in this building?"  Okay, so then I start racking my brain trying to think of some "blast from the past" friend that would be working in Arlington that Rachel has contacted.  I was coming up blank.

We walk into this place and the door said something about Imaging.  I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm not much of a details person.  It really takes me a moment or two to take in what's going on around me sometimes.  And before I tell you what happens next, I need to tell a story about how my brain works.

Sometimes when I am caught in an unexpected moment, I have a LITERAL split second where I have very irrational thoughts.  One time, when Brick was a puppy, I went to have him groomed.  When I picked him up, he had bows in his hair.  They were blue, but still.  He's a boy.  I told them I didn't like the bows, so they took them out.  He was so happy to see me, and licked me all over like nobody's business, but that was his first groom so he looked really different.  I was holding him and as I started to walk to my car, I looked down and noticed that his... um... "boy parts" were gone.  I did not immediately think, "Oh hey, they gave me the wrong dog." For a split second, I thought, "Oh my goodness, how do I handle this?  They cut off his thing!  But it doesn't look like he's hurt?!  What do I do?"  Yes, seriously, that is the thought that ran through my head.  It took the rest of that second to realize that wasn't my dog and I went and got my boy (who had a bandana on and was fully intact, by the way).

Okay, back to my story.  So, we are walking in the Imaging place and I notice a TON of pictures of newborns on the wall. It looks like a photographer's studio.  I'm thinking "Wow, Gracie is too old for these pictures.  Are we here to get our pictures made?  I'm still confused."  Rachel is all smiles because she thinks I've figured it out by now.  Um, no.  We walk up to the receptionist.  I overhear her say something to Rachel "...pre-natal care..." My irrational nano-second thought is, "Am I pregnant and she's the one surprising me with the news?  How does she even know?" HA! My eyes must have been as big as saucers when we sit down and I hit Rachel on the arm and say, "Wait, you're pregnant?!?!"  She says yes and laughs at me.  Not only is she pregnant, but she has been pregnant for so long that we were there at her sonogram appointment to find out the gender!  I was so stinkin' excited.  I have never seen a sonogram before, so I was STOKED to experience it.  While we waited on her appointment, though, I could not stop laughing and saying, "I thought we were getting pedicures!"  It was definitely the comedy hour for the waiting room and the most surprised I have EVER been!! :)

Oh, by the way, she's having a BOY!  Nolan Christopher Taylor will be making his appearance in early September! :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My New Year's Resolution

It seem that everywhere I turn, I see and hear things about weight loss.  From pictures in magazines, women on TV, even facebook status updates from friends, I am bombarded with the idea that skinny=good.  For years, I have struggled with my weight.  Even at my very best shape, I have never been skinny.  I will never be skinny.  I even had a type of eating disorder for about 6-8 months and dropped a ton of weight, and was not ever skinny.

This past year, a lot has changed in my life.   I married my wonderful husband, moved him here to Texas, started working more than ever, and somewhere in the process of all that, gained about 15 pounds that I really didn’t need to gain.  It’s been bothering me since I noticed it.  I immediately changed what I thought was causing the weight gain, hoping that those 15 pounds would magically fall off the same way the fell on, but so far, that hasn’t happened.  I keep wanting to drastically change my diet, or get back into my running habit, all with the goal of losing not only those 15 pounds, but 15-20 more.
But ya know what?  This year, I’ve decided that enough is enough.  I refuse to believe that I have to live my life in a constant state of trying to lose weight.  I see people around me carefully counting every single thing that goes into their mouth and worrying about how much exercise that will require later and, frankly, I have no desire to live in that kind of bondage. Here’s the thing – I have done it all.  No-carb, low-carb, weight watchers, counting calories, scheduled fasting, smaller portions, eat-clean, shakes, lean cuisines, etc.  And ya know what?  I have lost weight with a lot of those.  If weight loss is your goal, then trust me, I can point you in some right directions.  But I’ve decided that I want a different goal.

This year, my goal is multi-faceted: to love my body the way it is right now, to eat things that make my body feel good, and to do physical activities that I enjoy because I enjoy them and not with the goal of losing weight.  So what does that look like for me?  That means I need to go buy some more pants in a size that fits me now instead of crying every time I can’t fit into my old ones.  That means I can do an eat-clean diet because I know it makes me feel good, and not because I want to lose weight.  It means I can run and I can train for a race without getting frustrated that I haven’t dropped any weight, because that was always my underlying goal of every race I’ve ever run and it never worked.

Maybe I’m alone here, but man… I’m just tired.  Tired of the impression I get from the world that “skinny” is the ultimate achievement.  Not sure if anyone else is feeling this way, too, but if you are let’s encourage each other.  I’m ready to be completely content with my not-skinny self!