Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Humility Looks Like

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time with hospitality.  Not on the giving end - I adore being on the giving end.  I enjoy opening my home to friends - new and old.  To make a comfortable home and share it with those I love, to fill the stomachs of those I love with good food, and to serve my friends copious amounts of coffee and iced tea - I love this part of hospitality.

What is difficult is being on the receiving end of hospitality.

I'm not talking about going to a friend's home to enjoy dinner and conversation.  I'm talking about the part of hospitality when I am on the broken end and need others to minister to my body and soul.  Why is that part of hospitality so difficult?

I'd like to believe that it's because I'm such a strong woman, I don't need help ever.  But that's a lie.  The truth is I struggle with pride, and in moments of weakness pride rears her ugly head and makes herself known.

There is nothing like having a baby to put you and your pride in your place.

Let's forget the part where you go to the hospital and put yourself at the mercy of others to help you labor and birth your little one into the world.  Or in my case, willingly lay down on a table and be sliced open to bring your little one into the world.  The IV's and gaping open hospital gowns you rock in pre-op as they pump 3 bags of fluid in quick succession into your body in the hopes of staving off any signs of nausea and vomiting on the operating table.  Only the OR inevitably runs late and you're left running with your IV pole and gapping hospital gown to the bathroom 84,000 times before you even get to surgery.  Then post-op, having to rely on complete strangers to help you learn how to walk again and pee again...yes these things ruffle pride's feathers and make her uncomfortable, to say the least.

But it's really the after part that's the most difficult.  After you leave the hospital and are trying so desperately to return to some form of normal life...only there is no normal and you still need people to help.  This is the part I struggle with.

It has been more than 2 weeks since my sweet little Poppy entered this world.  Pain medication is long gone and I can drive a car again.  Theoretically I can return to my life as super mom {ha!}.  So when a very sweet woman from our church called to set up a time to come visit us and bring us a meal from the church and a little gift for our kids, I thought "Oh how fun!  I can't wait to introduce her to our baby girl and show off the nursery" and visions of my perfectly clean house and perfectly dressed children ran through my head.

Well friends, today was the day and let me tell you, there was nothing perfect about what went down.

It started yesterday with a quick day-trip across the great state of Texas to visit grandparents, which resulted in us getting home after 1am this morning.  We were already delirious from pushing our 30 year old bones to the extremes of travel with a newborn and a toddler, but our sweet little Poppy wasn't done.  Oh no...she wanted to have a party all. night. long.  I think we finally got to sleep at 4 or 5, woke up with Poppy again at 7 and then crashed again.

So at 10:30 this morning I was still in bed when our guest showed up at our door.  The only person in my house who was dressed was the Kiddo and he had breakfast smeared all over his face and his hair stood up on end like he had just been electrocuted.

I did the quick switching out of pajama pants for jeans, threw my hair into a ponytail, and ran to the door.  I didn't even look around the house to see what it looked like.  I did not see the chair our puppy ate yesterday, sitting sadly in the corner with stuffing pulled out at every seam.  I didn't even take a second to do a "pit check" to make sure I didn't smell.  And I most certainly did not realize that Poppy and I had gone our maximum number of hours since her last "snack".  So as I opened the door to cheerfully invite our guest in for a visit, and tried to discreetly wipe yesterdays mascara from underneath my eyes....as this sweet lady {who I have never before met in real life} is bringing in casseroles and gifts from the church for our kids...this is the moment my body decides to fail me and my pride takes a huge beating.  That "all of a sudden my shirt is wet and holy crap how do I hide this???" moment....yes friends, that was me this morning.  Welcoming a complete stranger into my home with my daughter's mid-morning snack running down one side of my shirt and sleeve.  There is no hiding that y'all.

I was mortified.  I still am.  Our visit was short and I would have loved to sit and chat with her for much longer, but honestly I'm not offended that she left quickly.  I imagine she couldn't wait to leave our chaotic mess of a house and the leaky lady with the wet shirt.

But the thing is...I know I really shouldn't be mortified.  What took place this morning is real life.  Real life isn't neat and tidy with a bow on top.  And it is pure pride that makes us put on our "happy" faces and "everything is perfect" attitudes when we walk into church...a place where we should be at our sincerest.

I'm going to level with you...if it were one of my girlfriends or cousins at my door, we would have laughed at the timing and I would have gone to change my shirt.  But because it was someone I had never met before I desperately wanted to look like I had everything together, even though I clearly didn't in this moment.  Why am I more inclined to be less "real" with the Bride of Christ?  Why am I so quick to try to hide any trace of weakness when I am human and therefore completely fallible?

It's my pride that makes me worry that this sweet lady is going to head back to the church saying "Oh y'all...that family! The house was a mess, their dog ate the stuffing out of one of their chairs, and the mom's shirt was soaked through!"  Isn't the whole point of ministering to new moms and dads to help them in a moment when they desperately need help {even if we won't admit it}?  So why am I so afraid of {non-existent} disapproving looks and imperfection?  Am I really so vain that I'm only okay if I'm on the serving side of the equation?

The hard truth is apparently I am.

I have no pearls of wisdom on this one.  I have no answers or remedies.  All I have is a cup of coffee, good music, and this moment of realization that perfection is not required.  Today I choose to sit in this pocket of grace and not reflect too much on things I cannot control.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Two Weeks

I can't believe it has been two weeks since our family has welcomed this little one into the world...

She made quite an entrance, loudly protesting the bright lights and room full of strangers in scrubs...

She has quite a set of vocal chords this one.  ;)

We've had two weeks of snuggles and cuddles...

Two weeks of counting fingers and toes...

This sweet girl has quickly found her place in our family, and already I'm so blessed to get to be her mom.

Welcome to the world little "Poppy"!
Born April 5, 2013
7 lbs 8 oz, 20"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The 84,000 Books I've Read on Bed Rest

That might be a slight exaggeration.

I've only finished 7 books in the last 3 weeks, I've vetoed 3 books, and I have 4 books still in progress.  Pretty much the number of books I read all last year (which is sad for a serious book-lover like me).

Some of these are pure fluff.  Some of these are fluff I want to own (all these have been checked out from my local library since books aren't so functional as diapers).  Many of these are substantial, thought-provoking, must reads which I must own (diapers, what?).

Without further ado I give you...

The Style/Fashiony Fluff

Out of all of these, How To Look Hot in a Minivan was an impulse read and was, truthfully, not worth the time it took to read it.  Thankfully, since it was as mind-numbing engaging as a copy of US Weekly, the time commitment wasn't that great.  The highlight for me was the in-depth section on botox/plastic surgery/injections.  "Horrific" doesn't begin to touch the surface, but like any good train wreck, I just couldn't look away.  You've been warned.

On the opposite end of the still-fluffy spectrum was How To Look Expensive - which I so don't want to return to the library.  Definitely putting this one on my wish list.  Though the title sounds like it could be giving you pointers on something seedy, it's definitely a much classier read than How To Look Hot.  It's chock full of idea for hair, make-up, and your personal style with thorough lists of product suggestions at all price points.  Basically, if Vogue, In Style, and Allure had a baby in a timeless, hardback edition, this would be it.

Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange is another great read.  Although this one is 75% travel guide, 25% classic style book, it still did not disappoint.  Since traveling to France is on my bucket list, this is a must buy for me.  If you aren't as interested in things to see and do in Paris, then you might want to go the library route on this one.

Everyone Should Read

You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1960.  I have never read anything by Eleanor before, and I feel certain that I've been missing out!  I cannot express to you enough how much I loved this book.  Her words of wisdom are timeless and plainly written.  I think all 8th graders should be required to read it before leaving the zoo that is middle school for the zoo that is high school. And then they should read it again before graduating high school.  And probably again at age 25 and 30.  On my buy list for sure.

Books That Have Inspired Me

The Memoir Project is a short, quick read, but is full of wonderful advice for anyone aspiring to write anything, ever.  Marion Roach Smith's humor is infectious making this read anything but dry.  Instead of giving you cheesy writing prompts, she takes you by the hand and shows you how to just jump in and write.  And revise.  And then edit some more.  Ruthlessly.  I have a feeling I will be checking this one out from my library over and over and over....making it yet another book on my buy list.

I really didn't anticipate that I would learn anything from 168 Hours.  I mean, I know I'm a stay-home mom, but I really don't feel like I have extra time...ever.  I stand corrected.  168 Hours is another must read/must own.  The premise is that most of us schedule our time from day to day and fritter much of that time on frivolous things that don't bring us closer to our goals.  By taking a critical look at how we spend our time over the course of a week (or 168 hours) we can identify time sucks (hello iPhone and Facebook) and strive to be more intentional in the ways we choose to spend our most precious resource.  I am challenged and inspired by this concept, and it will be interesting to see how I'm able to put it into use in the upcoming weeks as I learn to juggle the demands of a newborn and a two year old.

I have read so many reviews for 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  And over and over I told myself that I didn't want to read this book.  Everyone who reads this book comes away challenged and changed and I was fine with my head in the sand.  And then my sweet cousin went and mentioned Jen Hatmaker in a blog post, and I realized I had to read this book.  If for no other reason, because I wanted to badly to ignore it.  My family lives a relatively simple life.  When I'm not having crazy preggo cravings, we support local restaurants, local farmers markets, buy organic from our grocery store, make our food mostly from scratch, grow veggies in our backyard, compost, are no strangers to thrifting and estate sale adventures, budget tightly, and give intentionally to organizations with causes we support.  And yet, reading this, I still felt challenged that I could do more.  In a good way, not in a "I don't do enough, I'm not perfect enough" way.  It's hard to explain.  So if you are one who wants to ignore this type of book, I completely get it.  But one day, if you're willing to give it a read, I think you'll find random nuggets of inspiration as well.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April {It's BABY WEEK!!}

Y'all!  I am bursting at the seams with excitement!  I get to meet this sweet little one on FRIDAY!

I have been on modified bed rest since 35 weeks thanks to contractions and the fact that my body seemed ready to go, even though this little one wasn't quite all developed.  It was a huge sigh of relief to get to 37 weeks, and now that we're at 38+ weeks I am just elated!

I'm sure you've noticed I've taken a step back from blogging recently.  I have been focused on spending time with the Kiddo and the Hubster and on finishing up smaller projects around the house as I can.  Don't worry, I will keep you all in the loop with sweet baby pictures, but I will definitely be taking a more relaxed approach to blogging in April.

But before I do, there are fun things to look forward to on the blog this week.  All the required resting has given me an opportunity to read much more than usual.  I am so inspired - I can't wait to tell you all about it.  And I also will give you a closer sneak peek of the almost-finished-but-not-quite-nusery.  Let's be honest, will it ever truly be finished?  Knowing me, no.  I will always be tweaking and editing.  But it is very close to what I have envisioned and I can't wait to share.  :)

Happy April everyone!  Now go forth and enjoy the sunshine and pretty flowers.  ;)