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Little Miracle

I wrote a song and had asked a friend to produce it for her project. I think she did a great job! Check it out!

https://soundcloud.com/melody-hamrick-kneezel/little-miracle

It’s called “Little Miracle,” and I wrote it before Hurricane came into being. ūüôā

Dobby-Themed Matchless Sock Holder

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

…and we have a snow day, so I decided to have the most productive day ever!

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First task, matchless sock holder. ¬†I drew inspiration from¬†this post and this one. ¬†I decided to go with the Harry Potter theme, but I didn’t want to exactly copy the other person, so I changed mine to say “Save Dobby” instead of “Free Dobby,” although “free” makes more sense in the context of Harry Potter. ¬†I plan to decorate a mason jar to say “knuts, sickles, and galleons” as well to collect spare change, and then also make artwork that says “Laundry is Magical” or something of the sort, so the whole laundry room will be Harry Potter themed.

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First, I purchased the block of wood from Hobby Lobby and painted it black with acrylic paint and just a plain old paintbrush. ¬†Next, I downloaded a free Harry Potter font to my mac (by the way, if you have Word for Mac, the fonts won’t work, so use Pages instead) and typed out Save Dobby. ¬†I made the font like 500 or something so that it would print big enough. ¬†My sis cut the letters out for me (thanks, Sis!). ¬†I glued them with regular Elmer’s glue onto the already-painted board, then traced and filled them with glue and poured glitter over them. ¬†After 24 hours of drying time, I dumped and brushed off the excess glitter and sprayed a finishing coat to keep it from constantly sweating glitter.

Next, I purchased one set of picture hanging hooks from Hobby Lobby.  My husband (thanks, Husband!) drilled holes in the back of the block of wood and screwed in the hooks to the back.  I tied twine (also from Hobby Lobby) from one end to the other, leaving extra room so I could use as many clothespins as I needed.

Next, I purchased clothespins and gold glitter puff paint. ¬†I painted the clothespins black, waited for them to dry, and then I puff-painted lightning bolts on each one, cause, you know, Harry Potter. ¬†I think if I was going to do it over again, I would hot glue little buttons into the clothespins that say “S.P.E.W.” because that would be funnier than just the lightning bolts.

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Overall, it ended up looking pretty awesome! ¬†I’m excited to finish up the rest of my HP laundry room! YAY for fun!

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It’s a Birth Story, Baby Just Say Yes

Okay, I totally fell off the bandwagon when it came to the weekly posts during pregnancy. ¬†And I’ll probably fall off the bandwagon again when it comes to this. ¬†But Fridays are days of reflection, and so shall I begin this Friday, before my alarm goes off at 3 am to feed the blessed creature.

Last Friday, October 11, I felt contractions all day. ¬†I had been feeling them for over a week. ¬†They were painful, but not unbearable. ¬†I kept thinking about the episode of Friends where Rachel goes into labor and the other women are coming and going from her room because they are progressing quickly and she is progressing slowly. ¬†One of the women in that episode has contractions that she basically squeaks through because they don’t hurt her too much. ¬†I was hoping I was that woman. ¬†Boy, was I wrong.

After several hours, the contractions were consistent and getting closer together.  By 1:00 pm, they were 5 minutes apart.  By 2:00, they were 3.5 minutes apart.  We called the doctor and she said to go in to the hospital.  Excitedly thinking we were having a baby (a week late, mind you), we headed on over.  The labor and delivery nurses practically rolled their eyes at us because we were so happy and excited, but since my contractions were close together, they put me in the triage room to be monitored.

Sure enough, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, but I wasn’t dilating or becoming more effaced. ¬†After 2 hours, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and more painful, but I hadn’t progressed at all. ¬†One of the nurses came in and said they were discharging me, and I almost lost my marbles (I wish it had been my water, but no such luck). ¬†How was I supposed to know when to come back to the hospital? ¬†Nobody in my family was particularly apt at giving cervical exams. ¬†Everything I had read said go to the hospital when the contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting one full minute each, and consistent for over an hour. ¬†My contractions had been like that for several hours already. ¬†I was convinced that the baby would be born in my bedroom since I couldn’t possibly know when to go back in. ¬†The nurse could only say, “You’ll know when it is time,” which was enormously all the more frustrating. ¬†I was distraught, to say the least. ¬†I cried my eyes out all the way home, screaming things about how this creature would never leave my body and I would be miserable forever, etc. ¬†You know, typical crazy pregnant woman hormone stuff.

When we got home, my whole family was there because they were excited about the possibility of labor. ¬†So while I writhed as the contractions got worse and worse, my brother and sister goofed around on the piano while The Big Bang Theory played on DVD in the background. ¬†My dad played the guitar while taking up the entire sofa to himself. ¬†My mom and Husband worried about me. ¬†I took a bath and cried. ¬†I lay in my bed and cried. ¬†I lay on the couch, tried to focus on TV or on the music, and cried. ¬†Soon, I started yelling through them because they hurt so bad. ¬†Eventually, around 9 p.m., I screamed and writhed and yelled and cried so loudly through the most intense pain I’d ever felt that Husband insisted that we go back to the hospital.

When we got up to the desk in the maternity ward, I tried to answer the basic questions so I could sign the consent form again and everything, but I had such a strong contraction that I started to fall over. ¬†Ryan caught me, and I was immediately admitted to a labor room. ¬†When I got there, they checked my cervix, and the darn thing was still only 3 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced – no change from that afternoon when I was dismissed. ¬†At that point, I started crying like an idiotic child because I was so frustrated. ¬†“My body is too stupid. ¬†It doesn’t know what to do!” I wailed while my mom and Husband tried to comfort me. ¬†The nurse told me I had a couple of choices since my contractions were obviously painful enough that I couldn’t go home – I could take a whirlpool bath while the jets ran, which would likely soothe the contractions a bit or at least get my body moving in the baby-having direction, or she could hook me up to an IV with pain medication. ¬†Still somehow convinced that I wanted to go as long as possible without any pain medicine (ha, ha, ha, she laughs at herself as she remembers that ridiculous notion), I chose the bath. ¬†After over an hour of running those jets through contractions, they were so painful that nothing was helping. ¬†More tears running down my face and one popsicle later, I decided it was time to suck up my fiery hatred of needles and get the IV. ¬†They gave me the modern girl version of demerol and within minutes I was drunk as a skunk, to say the least. ¬†The contractions still hurt just as bad, but I no longer cared. ¬†At this point, it was about 11:30 p.m., and they called the anesthesiologist to give me the epidural. ¬†I don’t remember a lot of this time period because that medicine was cray cray, but I do remember that the St. Louis Cardinals were playing some kind of semi-important baseball game, and the anesthesiologist made a joke that if he missed the game by giving me an epidural, I was personally held accountable. ¬†I also remember that when Husband saw the size of the needle they were using, he felt faint enough that he had to go sit down, and my epically awesome delivery nurse Becci had to hold me up instead. ¬†Good thing I didn’t see that needle. ¬†The epidural was the most wonderful sensation I’ve ever felt as an apathetic warmth spread through my entire body. ¬†All of my muscles loosened, and all of my fears and pains melted away under the glorious, joyful warmth. ¬†All I can say is that if epidurals are an option, I will never try to birth a human without one, for they are a medical marvelous miracle straight from the hands of God.

The epidural was administered around 12:30 am, and I spent the next 10 hours or so sleeping and flipping from side to side (with LOTS of help from Mom or Husband or nurses) every 15 minutes with absolutely no pain whatsoever.  I always sort of imagined that childbirth took a long time and was very rigorous and that the entire time was spent screaming and yelling and throwing things because of the pain.  It is now my understanding that rigorous childbirth is only the case for those people who are brave and daring enough to attempt childbirth without any medication, may God bless those women for their insane amazingness, and may they throw all the ice chips and scream at all the people they want for doing that.

At some point during the night, I still wasn’t making quick enough change, so they added pitocin. ¬†I didn’t feel a thing. ¬†I mean, I don’t even remember when it was added.

Around 10 or 11 am, I started to really transition. ¬†There was still no pain, but there was certainly discomfort. ¬†After another hour, things started to hurt. ¬†There was a button that supposedly added another burst of medication every 15 minutes that I needed it, but I’m pretty sure it was a placebo to appease Preggos around the world who are starting to feel the pain again into thinking that they are getting more meds, because I didn’t feel any better no matter how much I pushed that button. ¬†At this point, my primary issue was starvation; I hadn’t eaten since 11 that morning, and they would, of course, only allow ice chips. ¬†My mouth was so dry I felt like I had eaten a ball of cotton straight out of the field, thorns and all. ¬†After some sweet, medicated begging, the nurses gave me water in a cup if I promised to only take 1 sip at a time. ¬†I swore on the life of my unborn child and crossed my heart and gulped one gulp of water like there was no tomorrow. ¬†Around 11:30 or so, I was fully dilated. ¬†I was like, “Whaaaaaa? I’m gonna have this kid? ¬†Oh dear, this is happening.” ¬†They told me, though, that if I waited it out until I couldn’t stand it anymore, that I might not have to push as long. ¬†They wanted me to sleep some more to energize up since pushing was quite a chore. ¬†I slept off and on until 12:40, and when they checked me, the head was very low, which meant I needed to start pushing. ¬†I’m pretty sure the medicine was totally gone at this point, because no matter how much they told me it would just be “pressure,” it was definitely a ring of fiery death between my supposedly deadened tree stump legs.

And so I pushed. ¬†It was a strange sensation. ¬†Childbirth is definitely an inherently human nature event, because it doesn’t really involve thinking. ¬†It requires focus and determination for sure, and it is certainly not lacking in a requirement of effort, but it was like I left my body and sort of slept while some cavewoman took me over and did all the hard work. ¬†I could describe the pushing experience here, but it was very special to me for some reason, so I’m going to keep it for my somewhat drugged memories alone and just shared that it was an incredible experience. ¬†I felt more successful at the end of the pushing time (50 minutes) than I’d ever felt in any way before. ¬†And how could I not? ¬†The end of the pushing signified the beginning of everything.

And so, with one final push at 1:33 pm, Baby Hurricane entered the world, weighing in at 7 lbs, 13.5 oz, 21 inches long, and with a head of dark hair and red Esau skin. ¬†His shoulders were hairy just like his daddy’s. ¬†His first order of business was to projectile pee in the doctor’s face, so I’ll be giving him a hard time about that for the rest of my life. ¬†Then, in all his grossness, he was placed on my chest, and Husband, me, and Hurricane doted on one another, totally enamored, while a whirlwind of stitching and cleaning up and various other medical-related activities occurred to our ignorance. ¬†For those precious moments, it was just us three, a tiny family of love meeting one another for the first time. ¬†Then Hurricane peed all over me and parenthood began.

Since, things have been a blur of happy exhaustion while we spent time skin to skin, while the family met him, while I figured out how to use my beaten body (yikes!) again and help it to heal properly, while we learned to change diapers and give baths and care for circumcision wounds, while we pretended to sleep but instead just stared at our beautifully perfect sleeping son.

Welcome to our world, baby Hurricane.  May your precious life be used to glorify your mighty Creator.

Letting Go

I was listening to this Francesca Battastelli (yeah, I have no idea how to spell her name) song and the lyrics go like this:

“I’m letting go of the life I’ve planned for me/and my dreams/losing control of my destiny/feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe”

I’m a bit of a skeptic, and I found myself saying over and over again, “Yeah, easy for you to say, Francesca. ¬†You can easily let go of the plans for your life when you get to be one of the most famous Christian singers in the world. ¬†Of course you can let go of your dreams when they are all coming true.”

Now, I don’t hate Francesca or anything, and I’m not necessarily jealous of her, and I don’t think that her life is perfect. ¬†I am sure there are immense struggles to life on the road with two little kids, and it would be very difficult to maintain a happy marriage like that, so I’m not saying her life is perfect. ¬†But let’s be serious – that girl’s life dream was to write music and perform concerts about Jesus for people, and that is what she is doing. ¬†She is married and has a couple of little kiddoes. ¬†It sounds to me like quite a few of her dreams have come true. ¬†To me, that sure makes it a lot easier to let go of your dreams when they’ve already come true.

I have a lot of dreams for myself. ¬†I’m a rather ambitious person, and I have supportive parents and smart family members that have led me to believe that I’m smart, and I’m special, and I have gifts, and I could be anything I want to be. ¬†Here are a few of the dreams I’ve had for myself: ¬†hang out with kids all day long, teach high school choir, get doctorate degree in choral conducting and teach college choir, write songs that are meaningful and perform them for people, be a minister of music for a Southern Baptist Church, be a wife, be a mother, have children of my own and adopt children, be a foster parent, be a stay-at-home mom, be a missionary anywhere, learn Spanish and speak it fluently, live in England, travel to all seven continents, be an incredible cook and cleaner…

Some of these have come true – I do get to hang out with kids all day long during the school day and watch them enjoy music, and I love it. ¬†I haven’t formally taught high school choir yet, although I’ve had lots of chances to do it short term. ¬†I don’t have my doctorate but I’m working on my masters in music education and the doctorate comes next. ¬†I have written meaningful songs and performed them for people (although not to the extent of our friend Francesca). ¬†I am a wife, and I’m more than halfway to being a mother of my own children (since one is cooking in there right now), and I’m a pretty good cook.

Some of the dreams aren’t quite as big of a deal to me – I’ve been a missionary before for short term missions, and where God takes me, I’ll go, I’m confident that I can learn Spanish if I just bother to do the Rosetta Stone that I already own, I’d be perfectly content just visiting England several times instead of actually living there, I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I can travel some more, but I can wait a while until I travel all seven continents.

Then there is the dream I want more than any other dream – to be a stay-at-home mom. ¬†I have dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom since I was 12. ¬†I remember the day I decided that became my dream – I was in 7th grade, and all of the 8th grade cheerleaders were pick-ups and I had to ride the bus with my French horn. ¬†One day, my mom got to pick me up from school because she was off work for some reason, and I got to hang out with the 8th grade cheerleaders and learn some of the cheers and talk to them while we waited. ¬†They were so pretty and put-together. ¬†I asked one of the girls what her parents did, and she said her dad was a lawyer, and her mom stayed at home. ¬†I put together that she got to be picked up from school and hang out with her friends while she waited because her mom stayed at home and could come pick her up. ¬†This seems like a small deal and very silly assumption, but you have to remember that I was 12. ¬†From that moment on, I was determined that I should be a stay-at-home mom so that my kids wouldn’t have to sit on the bus by themselves with their gigantic and awkward French horn (they’d just get into my van with their gigantic and awkward French horn instead). ūüôā

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t resent my mom for working or anything, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mom working. ¬†I’ll be a working mom when my child is 3 months old. ¬†But this is my dream. ¬†It has been such a prevalent dream of mine for so long to live in a nice little house that is perfectly clean and put together and basically be June Cleaver or Donna Reed, that my heart actually breaks when I think about how every day I’ll have to “ditch” my little man when he is only 12 weeks old so that I can teach music to elementary students, which wasn’t ever part of my dream in the first place. ¬†I will have to spend 9 hours a day away from my kid because we can’t afford for me to stay home and lose my health insurance (yes, I do blame everything on health insurance, but that’s a different story for a different day). ¬†Sometimes, I get angry about it. ¬†It seems like so simple of a dream to stay home with my newborn child so that I can schedule his life the way that I think is best instead of having to trust someone who I barely know and pay him or her lots of money so that I can continue to do a job because we don’t have enough money otherwise. ¬†And those angry feelings are only the tip of the iceberg. ¬†Angry, angry, angry.

Here’s where God comes into the picture (because I’m a sinner and He should have come in the picture much earlier).

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Yay, I think.¬†This’ll be easy. ¬†I’ll just delight in the Lord, and then I’ll get to be a stay-at-home mom. ¬†I know that He loves me enough to make my dreams come true.

Ah, but there’s an unwritten part of this verse that they don’t tell you. ¬†When I really do seek the Lord and delight in Him, the desires of my heart will totally change. ¬†I will no longer want the things that I want because I want them. ¬†I will want the things that He wants because I want Him. ¬†This is the harshest reality to accept – that no matter how much I want to be a stay-at-home mom, it might never be in God’s plan. ¬†So it is my choice. ¬†I can be angry. ¬†I can say, “God doesn’t love me because He isn’t giving me the desires of my heart!” ¬†Or I can delight in Him. ¬†I can say, “I trust you, God, because no matter what I dreamed for myself, your dreams for me are better. ¬†I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me.”

I have to trust the Lord that if I can’t stay home, He will bring someone to take care of my kid who will do it in a way that honors Him. ¬†I have to trust the Lord that He will give me joy and patience when my heart is breaking every morning as I say goodbye to my child and spend all day raising other people’s kids. ¬†I will delight in Him when I can be with my kid, and I will delight in Him when I can’t be with my kid. ¬†I will delight in Him through the horrid sounds of beginning clarinet players, and I will delight in Him in the precious moments when my child smiles at me for the first time or falls asleep in my arms.

I will delight in Him because the comfort of seeking the Lord is that His plans for me are better than the plans I have for myself.

I will delight in Him because He can fulfill me even if my dreams never come true. ¬†Ouch. ¬†That’s the kicker, isn’t it? ¬†I don’t delight in the Lord because I know that my dreams will come true. ¬†I delight in the Lord because I love the Lord and I trust His plan for my life. ¬†I have to listen to Job: ¬†“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” ¬†No matter what happens, will I praise the Lord? ¬†If I’m on my deathbed at (hopefully) an old age, I will look up to the Lord and say, “You never let me stay home with my kids, and I never traveled the world, and I barely had enough money, and I never got to be a minister of music because I’m a girl, and so many of my dreams never came true, but none of that matters. ¬†Praise you, Lord, and blessed be your name.”

So, I’m letting go of the life I’ve planned for me, and my dreams. ¬†I losing control of my destiny – and this is the life for me.

“Could it be that He is only waiting there to see if I will learn to love the dreams that He has dreamed for me?”

Grace

This is week 23, and I have been so convicted.

I get these freak out moments (which I’m sure is true of all new mommies) where I have a spaz attack because I’m not perfect yet and somehow I am supposed to raise a responsible and respectful human being! ¬†It is truly terrifying when I look at my faults and the faults I’ve seen in generations before me, and when I look at what the world is like for children today – what was I thinking? ¬†My fears fill me up completely – I am surely going to raise a hurtful, fire-tongued child who is selfish and seeks only for himself, since that is who I am so much of the time!

Then I remember Grace. ¬†It isn’t a person. ¬†Oh, praise God for Grace! ¬†For without it, I am simply doing, doing, doing everything I can to earn perfection and to earn God’s favor. ¬†Ah, but Grace says to me the truth of the gospel: ¬†it is done, done, done! ¬†I am living in the freedom of Grace! ¬†I can live in the joy of forgiveness! ¬†Guilt doesn’t have to define me when I struggle in my still-sinful ways! ¬†What a blessing that of all the things that are wrong with me, there is one that is right – my trust in Christ! ¬†And it is all I need.

Oh praise, praise to God for this wonderful Grace!  I understand so much better the words of John Newton, who, as a former slave owner, wrote incredible words about forgiveness (which he must have understood that he needed!):

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!

Oh Lord, help me in these last few months of preparation to seek You!  Help me to live by your grace every day and extend that grace to my child when he comes to this world!

On My Heart – The Fakies

I’ve been struggling lately, as usual.

I am always amazed when I meet new friends who are Christians, and their first responses to me are always (I mean, always) things like “Wow, your honesty is so refreshing!” or “Goodness, you tell it like it is, don’t you?”¬† It is clear that what they are saying is not intended to be a compliment; they do not like that “side” of me (if there is such thing – I am pretty much exactly the same person no matter who I am around).¬† This is something that I do not understand, and I would like to take a moment to ponder it.

When, as Christians, were we ever called to pretend like everything is perfect when it isn’t?¬† When were we ever called to “fellowship” over just how sinful the rest of the world is while we relish in the glory of our salvation?¬† When we were called to point out exactly what is wrong with everyone else?¬† We weren’t, folks, and it isn’t doing us any favors to act like that’s what life is about.

For my entire life, whenever I have moved (which has been many, many times) and I have met new friends, guess who has never given me the time of day? Christians.¬† Christians are the one group of people who I should absolutely always fit in with perfectly, because we believe in the same God and our priorities are similar and we understand what things could be like after life is over.¬† We are brothers and sisters, all saved by the same dude.¬† We are people who have admitted our brokenness before God and asked Him to rescue us.¬† And when we’ve fallen again and again since that point, He has rescued us again and again.¬† Why don’t I have anything in common with these people when what we have in common is the only thing on earth that matters?

This fact, that I have basically nothing in common with any other Christian people even though we technically have everything in common, is a Christian disease I like to call “The Fakies.”¬† We are rescued by God for our entire lives, yet we somehow forget that He is currently mending us and rescuing us again.¬† We are fake because we are afraid of others seeing our brokenness.

And the big one: why is it that the people who accept me in my broken imperfection, and have been my undying, lifelong friends, who care about me the most and comment on my Facebook posts the most (read: give me validation) and love me unconditionally are so often those who do not believe the same basic things that I believe?¬† These people and I disagree on the absolute most fundamental meanings of life, and yet they are always there for me, supporting me, and they genuinely like me, while so many who have literally been commanded by God to be my family are the ones who turn their backs on my friendship?¬† This makes no sense to me.¬† Why would I choose to spend time with people who dislike my basic personality just because our faith is common when I could choose to spend time with people who genuinely like me and don’t “mind” what my “religion” is?

No wonder, when I have finally found a church who openly professes to be waging a war on shallow Christianity, I am still so very cautious about who I am in front of those people.¬† I make sure I say just the right words, and my prayers are just right, and I don’t speak about “inappropriate” topics, and I keep my mouth shut when (in my opinion) things need to be said, and I basically turn myself into an uninteresting blob of non-specific and neutral personality traits.¬† I don’t make friends that way.¬† But it doesn’t matter, because when I try to be myself – my broken, needs-fixing, constantly falling, thankful-for-grace self – I am given these looks of “geez, she’s difficult to be around.”¬† I am having a nearly impossible time making friends there because I can’t figure out who I am supposed to be in order to get them to “like” me.¬† I’m so afraid that they’ll dislike me, like so many have before, that I can’t bring myself to do anything that might sway them one way or the other, which is resulting in, as mentioned earlier, an uninteresting blob of non-specific personality traits that no one wants to befriend.

I’m am in the latter half of my 20s.¬† I have one college degree and am working on my second one.¬† I’m about to be a mom.¬† I am a grown-up in just about every way.¬† Should this really still be a problem?¬† Caring about whether or not people like me? Seriously?

I ache for open, honest closeness with fellow Christians.  I need to speak about my faith to people.  I need to fellowship and admit my mistakes.  I need help learning forgiveness and unconditional love and forgiveness and forgiveness and forgiveness!!  I need people who will not turn their backs on me when they realize that I am not perfect.

How many people have been totally turned off from church because Christians didn’t love them?¬† Thank God that my salvation has meant enough to me that I still want to seek Him after the experiences I’ve had with other Christians. (It really has been that bad sometimes!)

So here it is:¬† I don’t have “The Fakies.”¬† I refuse to suffer from an unnecessary disease because of my faith.¬† I refuse to be a Christian leader who pretends she is perfect.¬† So here’s the kind of friend I am:

I will never pretend like things are fine when they are not.¬† It doesn’t solve anything.
I will never understand why Christ saved me.¬† I will never understand how He could love me that much.¬† I will always do the absolute best I can to love you the same way He loves me.¬† This is not because you deserve to be loved. ¬†Whether or not you deserve it is not a factor. ¬†I will love you because He loves you, and I don’t need a better reason than that.
I will not be the person who “loves” you but doesn’t “like” you.¬† That is a ridiculous excuse to behave poorly to someone¬†and completely invalid. ¬†It is not a real thing. ¬†When you love someone, you also like them.¬† I may not approve of your decisions, but I still love you, and I still like you.
I will pray for you.¬† I will listen for hours to how much your life sucks even if it looks to me like your life is the one I’ve always dreamed of having.
I will never say anything about you to someone else that I wouldn’t tell you.¬† I won’t point out your weaknesses to other people.¬† I won’t constantly bring up the times you’ve hurt my feelings.
And I do not expect you to return these behaviors to me, because that’s what unconditional love is.¬† It is without condition.
I will not be perfect in these promises.  I will mess up a lot, because I am sinful.  I will be humble.  When I am wrong, I will admit it, and I will genuinely take responsibility for my actions.  I will ask for your forgiveness.

This impossible way of loving people is what Christ has commanded us to do for our Christian brothers and sisters.  We are to be real to each other.  I will always be real to you.  His grace is the reason we can ever love unconditionally!

II Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”¬† Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Rudolph the Radar-Nosed Reindeer

I’m trying to clean out all the papers that we have kept together and unorganized. ¬†I figure since I’m always bragging about how organized I am, I had better start living up to all the hype I’ve created.

As I cleaned, I came across some gems from the hospital/doctor’s office related to birth. ¬†They make me all increasingly nauseated, so I was, naturally, very pleased to find the paper explaining how to work with nausea during pregnancy.

This has continued to be an issue for me into my second trimester, and I’m hoping it gets better soon. ¬†Special thanks to all (the LARGE NUMBER) of my friends who are formerly pregnant who talked about just how sick they were the entire pregnancy, which has provided me much encouragement. ¬†This little paper about dealing with nausea has started cracking me up.

“Smells of all kinds seem to make nausea worse. ¬†These smells can include:

odors on other people’s breath (yep)
garlic (definitely yep)
coffee (nope)
beer (always)
perfume (nope)
hairspray, shampoo, and perm solution (just the perm solution)
onion (yep)
broccoli (nope)
sausage (yep…all meats, actually)
cigarette smoke (yesyesyes so terrible)
stinky children (okay, that one isn’t on the list, but seriously, it is bad)

To alleviate nausea, examine your surroundings.

When are you getting sick?” (Well, SOGA, I’m getting sick during kindergarten and first grade music every day and between noon and two on weekends.)

“For some, noise can increase nausea. ¬†Turn off the TV or radio.” (All right, I’ll just stop using music in my classroom and make the 20-26 children magically stay completely quiet for 30 minutes while I rest.)

“Fresh air may help. ¬†Open the window slightly.” (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA cause I don’t have any windows.)

“If bright lights bother you, dim them or turn them off.” (So in addition to the lack of music during music class and the magically silent 6-8 year-olds, I also should require them to sit in pitch black darkness.)

Yes, you could say that I’m finding this little article extremely helpful in alleviating my “afternoon sickness.”

(Again, I’d take all the symptoms in the world for the entirety of every pregnancy if it means I get to be a mommy. ¬†I just like to complain.)

 

Hard Times

I’m finding myself getting older. ¬†I think this is typical of all people.

As I get older, I am noticing some things about myself that I’m very relieved to see. ¬†Particularly, I am finding myself much, much more compassionate than I ever thought I could be. ¬†As a younger person, I always thought that compassion was aligned with weakness, and, even more often, compassion aligned with spoiling. ¬†I thought that having compassion for someone was the equivalent of letting them “get away with murder.” ¬†Even though I was concerned about being too compassionate, and even though I could never dream of wearing my heart on my sleeve, I always envied those friends of mine who so easily knew how to comfort someone with their grace and compassion.

As I spend time with children every day, I am able to find what I consider to be a realistic compassion Рa balance of loving and caring deeply for my students without letting them do whatever they want.  But there is more to compassion that I wish to understand and demonstrate РI want to empathize and feel the pain of others, and I want to learn how to comfort them.

As a child, it felt like hardly anyone ever died. ¬†I remember a few people dying when I was young: Miss Reba, who was like a surrogate grandmother to me when my family moved to Mississippi, died when I was nine. ¬†This was my first experience with death, and I was not fond. ¬†However, it seemed like it was her time to go, and although I missed her greatly, I grieved through dwelling in the nice memories of her. ¬†Then, when I was 11, my real grandmother died, and I understood devastation. ¬†I ached for my Granny, but even more so, I ached for my mommy, who lost her mommy. ¬†Ever since, I’ve tried to imagine what life would be like without my mom or dad to prepare myself for the horror that is sure to come, but it just seems impossible. ¬†I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a parent.

Later, friends of friends died. ¬†I’ve never had a close personal friend pass away, but many of my friends have. ¬†This is where I get so uncomfortable. ¬†I long to be there for my friends as they are aching, but I just can’t seem to figure out what to say or do. It makes me seem terribly insensitive.

And recently, it seems that there has been a lot of death. ¬†Several friends have lost babies, either stillborn or miscarried. ¬†Friends’ parents and grandparents have passed away. ¬†A friend lost his three year old nephew. ¬†Those children in Connecticut were murdered at school. Two different friends have had friends who pass away in tragic car accidents. ¬†And just today, a famous pastor who I greatly respect lost his son to suicide.

I feel selfish that I am so heartbroken about these deaths. ¬†They are not “my” deaths. ¬†I haven’t met the loved ones who have passed on, and yet I feel a tender care and aching tragedy over the deaths. ¬†I am still so uncomfortable as I try to figure out what these people need as they face these hard times. ¬†I try to put myself in their shoes: how would I feel? ¬†What would I want people to say to me? ¬†And my mind is blank. ¬†It isn’t about me, and yet I cannot figure out what I should do to make it about the loved one.

I am reminded of song lyrics and scripture that I’ve used when things have been difficult for me, but I can’t imagine bringing those up to hurting people. ¬†They sound so…preachy. ¬†What right do I have, when the loss isn’t mine, to tell others what they should be thinking about?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

“When darkness seems to win, we know the pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home.” – Laura Story, Blessings

“What if my greatest disappointments and the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?” – Laura Story, Blessings

All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

Thinking of someday when we all go Home: “One day Love will wear the crown, one day Love will set us free, hands up high and faces down, angels teaching us to sing, He will be King!” – The Great Day, Music Inspired by the Story

“If this is where my story ends, just give me one last breath to say, ‘Hallelujah!'” – Broken Praise, Music Inspired by the Story

(In fact, that whole Job song is quite the doozy when you are facing pains of life.)

Anyway, this post wasn’t really supposed to provide clarity, it was mostly just thoughtfulness about handling situations with death. ¬†If you have comments to help, such as what people do want to hear when they are facing these difficult times, I’d love to hear them.

List of Awesome Things About Being Pregnant

Not that I particularly want to make this list, and not that I particularly care if anyone ever reads it, but I feel like I should write these things down so that I can officially and accurately blame Hurricane for them one day when I hand him/her the bill of the expense of raising him/her.

1. Pregnancy is a legitimate excuse for absolutely everything that is wrong with me. ¬†When I say, “legitimate,” I mean it actually is the reason why everything is wrong with me. ¬†See continued list below for clarification. ¬†It is very convenient to be able to say, “I’m sorry I did that. ¬†I’m really dumb right now because I am pregnant.”

2. My calcium is depleted thanks to sweet little one developing it’s guts and bones and stuff, so when my foot rolled while dancing with kindergarteners on Wednesday, it ripped my foot enough that I have to wear a cast-boot thing for a few weeks.

3. I throw up. ¬†Regularly. ¬†Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of singing, and I’ll have to stop, step into the hallway, and ask a teacher who is “fortunate” enough to be walking by to please watch my class so I can go puke. ¬†The students find this highly entertaining.

4. ¬†I am a bloodhound. ¬†I’ve always had a particularly keen sense of smell. ¬†Perhaps this is God making up for my nearly-legally-blindness and my poor hearing abilities. ¬†Usually, the keen sense of smell has provided annoying. ¬†Now, it is downright obnoxious. ¬†Take, for example, the fact that half of my students come to my windowless room from PE. ¬†This has been a regular complaint of mine – probably enough that the other teachers are like, “Enough already, they’re stinking up our rooms all day long, you only have them for 25 minutes, shut it.” which is perfectly valid. ¬†But seriously, have you ever smelled a fourth grader who just literally ran as fast as he or she could for 25 minutes without stopping? ¬†Not pretty. ¬†Multiply times 26 and put them all together in a black hole and you’ve got my life everyday. ¬†I’ve taken to spraying my hand with Febreze and rubbing it under my nose so that it is all I can smell. ¬†It’s probably toxic.

5.  It is very hot, all the time, and when I feel hot, I feel like I am going to die.

6.  When children are sweet, I want to cry.  When children are mean, I want to punch my piano.  When children get good grades and understand concepts, I want to cry.  When children are loud, I want to punch my piano.  Basically, my whole day consists of switching back and forth between wanting to cry and wanting to punch my piano.

7.  When I get home, I am so exhausted that I plop on the couch and have an extremely difficult time getting myself back up off it.

8. ¬†At home, if there are dirty dishes left for more than 2 hours, and I smell them, or if there are leftovers that I see in the fridge (even if they are perfectly good leftovers), or if the trash hasn’t been taken out in 10 minutes, or if someone passes gas, or if…okay, anything basically, I gag so loud that it sounds ridiculously fake. ¬†I don’t usually vomit at home – apparently that is saved only for school hours.

9. ¬†When I wear regular pants, my belly is smushed, because even though it isn’t possible for me to be showing yet, I am bloated up like a balloon. ¬†I’ve had several sweet little darlings say, “You don’t look very pregnant yet, but it is definitely true that you’re having a baby.” ¬†Thanks guys. ¬†Thanks.

10. ¬†This one is not sarcastic – I have about 50 kids each day say, “How’s the baby doing?” ¬†So, so, so darling.

11. ¬†I have to drink about 14 bottles of water every day. ¬†I can’t drink out of water bottles that can be washed because they smell weird. ¬†Seriously? It’s nuts. ¬†I’ve always been high maintenance, but this is getting a little out of hand.

12.  Things I want to eat: burgers, fried anything, meat, chicken wings, pie, pizza, burgers again, fries, ice cream, fat, fat, fat, fat

13.  Things I regret eating after eating them: everything on above list except ice cream, which I could never regret. And pie.

14. ¬†Caffeine makes me act like a nut job. ¬†I squiggle. ¬†I literally squiggle. ¬†I didn’t know people could squiggle until I drank caffeine while pregnant.

15.  Headaches for no apparent reason, even when I have been sure to drink 14 bottles of water that day.

16.  Excuse to spend money on really cute things!!!!

17. ¬†Pregnancy brain is real, folks. ¬†I have a wonderful inability to say intelligent words. ¬†I so often words my get up mixed. Or I say things that I shouldn’t say. ¬†Filter = bye-bye!

18. ¬†Love. I feel nutty amounts of love for the things I’ve always been fond of. ¬†For those that know me well already, this proves hilarious because I’ve always been passionate about everything that I’ve loved. ¬†Now, it’s multiplied times a million, and if people insult the things that I love, I turn into Mama Bear. ¬†Mama Bear is fierce. ¬†Don’t mess with Mama Bear. ¬†She kill you.

19. ¬†Anxiousness about absolutely everything, even when I assure myself and spend time praying for contentment and peace. ¬†I’m FREAKING OUT ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!

20. ¬†The strange peace that follows the freak outs. ¬†Everything is going to be wonderful, and beautiful, and I will take this list and another list this size if it means that I’ll get to hold that little creature in my arms and watch/help it turn into a (hopefully) productive member of society.

PS When I think about “The Help” and I remember the poop pie (whoops, should have said SPOILER ALERT), I totally…yep, just gagged trying to type it.

Dear Baby Hurricane (Week 13),

You have certainly already started a hurricane in our hearts as we try to figure out how we could love something so much that we haven’t even met yet. We wonder who you’ll be. We have already started dreaming about who we think you’ll become. We think you’ll fit your name really well – you’ll be a fierce storm, protective of those that you love and passionate for the things you believe. I think you’ll be as stubborn and strong as me. I think you’ll have Daddy’s sense of adventure and fun. I hope you’ll have Grandpa Kneezel’s brains, Uncle Matt’s sense of humor, Popsicle’s musical talent, Grammy’s willingness to serve, Grandma Kneezel’s huge heart, Aunt Andrea’s kindness and compassion, and, most important to me, Aunt Carol’s passion for the Lord (and her eyesight, please, please, Lord). On a sillier note, I hope you have Daddy’s tan skin, Mommy’s hair color, and Uncle Matthew and Great-Granddaddy’s eyes. I hope you have Daddy’s long legs and someone’s athleticism (because I sure don’t have that and I can’t think of who does. Maybe Aunt Andrea?). Oh, and my feet (not really my feet necessarily, just NOT Daddy’s or Grandpa Kneezel’s).

Of course, we don’t want you to feel any pressure to be perfect, and we will love you enormously regardless of who you become.

I hope you find things to love. I hope the things you love are the best things. I hope you are brave. I hope you are careful.

It’s terrifying, little Hurricane, to think of all the changes the tiny storm will bring our lives, but already, we can’t imagine our lives without you. I’m sure you’ll run like a maniac through the house destroying everything you can reach in about two years. I am confident in this because I have heard stories about how your Daddy acted when he was a little kid, and I am seeing your cousin Sam do those things right now. I bet you’ll have a lot of spunk and tell us “no” an awful lot. I bet you’ll be disappointed in all the times we tell you “no.” I bet you and me will get in some pretty big “will-wars.” Don’t worry, I will win.

I just want you to know that I’m planning to change all of your diapers, even the ones that make me puke. I’m planning to clean up all of your puke. I’m planning to feed you as often as you need it. I am not looking forward to potty training you at all, but I will do it. I’m sure you’ll follow the Hamrick family bed-wetting tradition (sigh). I will teach you how to read and how to sing and how to dance and which ones are fingers and which ones are toes. I’m planning to spend lots and lots of money to make your life comfortable. But it is up to you whether you will be happy or not.

There is one other thing. Daddy and I are praying for you. So are Grandma and Grandpa Kneezel and Grammy and Popsicle and Uncle Matt and Aunt Carol and Uncle Andrew and Uncle Aaron and Aunt Andrea and about a million other people who love you. We are praying that we can show you the Lord in all that we do. We are praying that when you see us fail, you will understand sin a little better. We are praying that when you see us forgive you, you will understand what Christ did a little better. We are praying that our choices will plant a seed that the Lord will harvest, and you will become His child.

Daddy and I are so excited to hold you in our arms and keep you safe and warm. We want you to know that we will be putting you in your own bed, though, not in ours. Don’t even get your hopes up. We are excited to introduce you to wonderful things like Olive Garden and the Cubs (Daddy and absolutely everybody else in the family says Cardinals, but we’ll see) and MUSIC! Oh, I cannot wait to introduce you to music. In fact, I’ve already started. Daddy and I know that no matter who you are what you love or who you become, you will definitely be a most beautiful storm.