No More Lemons, Please

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To those of my readers who say that they love me and my blog because I am unafraid to be real, this one is for you. I am writing this through the tears of an exhausted, hormonal, self-conscious, anxious wreck of a person.

I have learned in my all-of-26 years that life ebbs and flows. This is nothing new. There are good days and bad days, and most of an average life is constructed of seasons where the good days outnumber the bad. “This is just a crappy day.” we say, hoping and praying and KNOWING that tomorrow will be better. But what do we do when the proverbial switch is flipped? When the bad days seem to swallow us? What do we do when everything should add up to happiness, but it just doesn’t?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with the concept of perception. I know in my heart that I don’t have it that bad. “All of my kids are healthy. I have a great husband. I have beautiful home. Our income is stable.” These are things I try really hard to tell myself when the going gets tough. Other women wake up not knowing whether or not their children will have food that day, or whether their husband/boyfriend/etc. will be kind or abusive that day. My heart aches for these women. I remind myself of them and pray for them when I become enamored by my own “sufferings.” But sometimes, I can’t talk myself out of the tears. Sometimes, life hands me a lot of lemons and the lemonade-makin’ machine is broken.

Today is one of those days. I’ve had it with the babies’ crying, with the loneliness, with the being needed, with the adulting, with the responsibility, with the expectations, with the spoon-feeding, with the diaper changing, with the keeping up of appearances (because even the most transparent of people still have to pretend sometimes), with the politeness that I don’t feel like mustering up, with being tired.

People say a lot of nice things about me. They tell me that I am a blessing. I smile and make some sarcastic or self-deprecating comment. They tell me that they don’t know how I do it. I say Neither do I. What I feel like doing sometimes is tearing up and honestly telling them “I don’t.”

This is such a hard season. Three babies under a year and a half is asinine and I am constantly torn apart by my desire to snuggle and hug and ENJOY and my desire to just be done with this phase. I’m over the crying babies, the not being able to do anything out of the house by myself, the nursing, if I’m being honest. And yet sometimes I never want them to grow up.

After I had Grady, I suffered from some postpartum anxiety and hormone balance issues (outside of the normal hormone problems). It was a rough 6 months for our marriage and for my sanity and I didn’t even know how to tell anyone about it. All I knew was that something wasn’t right. Surely this was not normal. The problems went away only because I got pregnant again. I spent the second half of this pregnancy terrified that I would become a basket case again. That I would crack under the pressure. That I am not enough. And some days, like today, I feel like that is true.

In a normal season, I would know that I would wake up tomorrow and feel better. That this is just a crappy, bad dream of a day, but I don’t know that lately. What if it’s not?

I’m learning to trust God and lean on him more, but I am a habitual “Do-it-myselfer.” I tell myself that God is busy with those other women I mentioned above. That my silly anxiety would be a selfish issue to bring up. God has been letting me fall on my face enough lately to draw me back to Him and to show me that my emotions and self-worth are important to Him, and that He is big enough for all of us, duh.

I say all of that with the caveat that I don’t at all intend for that to be the “message” for my post today. Sure, they are nice words, but when I say that I am learning and convincing and working, I mean that to the very fullest extent that I can convey. I don’t even feel good about writing those words because I would never want anyone to think that because I know those things, that I am smiling behind my computer and satisfied with the moral of this story and tying it with a neat little bow. The reason I wrote this today was mostly because I needed to. Sure, I hope that my bluntness and in-eloquent venting might resonate with someone else, but sometimes forcing myself to come out from behind the facade that others build for me because I am “so selfless and inspiring” is the therapy needed to get me through another day.

Love, Alex

What I Learned about God from Gilmore Girls

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I’m really bad about being distracted from God. Part of me has come to accept this and feels like God is telling me that He is and I should give myself some grace because of the season of life that I am in and the whole sacrificial obedience thing we have going on. That is not at all meant to come across as self-righteous, it’s just something that I feel like God is giving me the go-ahead to give myself a break on right now. The other part of me really wants to be better and has intense moments of trying to be. God tends to send me little moments that remind me of how awesome and how present He is even when I’m distracted by being climbed on or spit-up on or by falling asleep at 9 pm.

One of those moments came while watching one of my favorite tv shows, Gilmore Girls. I really don’t think of myself as a “basic white girl” in many areas. I don’t like pumkin spice lattes (#psl), I do not own the Urban Decay “Naked” pallet, and I have never worn a pair of Ugg boots. However, if you were to pay attention to my tv-watching habits, you would believe that I was a BWG with full intensity. Friends? Love ’em all. And Gilmore Girls? If there were a real Stars Hollow (And not just that town they

 based it off of), I would be saving up for my vacation home ASAP. I’ve already seen almost every episode (I have not seen almost all of season 7, part of which is because I know how it goes until the end and I am fiercely #TeamLuke, and part of it is because I have a weird fear of watching the endings of things. But that’s another topic for another day.), but I re-watch it during feedings or when I’m getting in bed, etc.

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The real bummer about this little message from God is that I didn’t get it. Until like a week later that is. Here’s how it all went down:

So the episode was the one in season 2 where Lorelei is graduating from business school and Rory convinces her to go to the ceremony and celebrate herself a little bit. Fast-forward to the middle-ish part where Rory skips school on a whim to go see Jess (#TeamJess forever) in NYC. Her bus gets stuck and she misses the very ceremony that was her idea in the first place. When Lorelei gets home, Rory is waiting for her and goes on a long rant about how crappy she is and how much Lorelei must hate her and says she’s sorry about a billion times and then goes on to ground herself and send herself to bed without supper. Lorelei then stops her and says that she still wants to celebrate with her by going to grab dinner. Rory quickly tells her no, that she doesn’t deserve it. Lorelei responds with “No, but I do.” (The clip is terrible quality, but if you need a visual…)

So I thought nothing of this until church this Sunday, when we were singing a song called “Ever Be.” You can find the whole song at that link, and I really hate it when bloggers put parts of music lyrics in their posts (Maybe I just get bored easily?), but I’m going to be one of those bloggers today, sorry.

Now you’re making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride

So only then is when it dawned on me, that the Gilmore Girls thing was for me, too. I realized that God was trying to reiterate a point that I have understood in theory for as long as I can remember, but, as I stated earlier, I tend to become distracted from. I’ve never been one of those people who has struggled with feeling like I had to earn God’s love, but I do get caught up in the perfection game quite often. I always feel like I am being a bad daughter or friend or whatever all-encompassing relationship with God that I feel I should be better at holding up my end of the deal on. I suck at “praying without ceasing,” I find myself guiltily checking ahead on my Bible app to see how much more there is to read, I talk way too much about my worries and stresses instead of actually praying about them, and I rarely feel so connected to God that I can’t help but talk about Him in every conversation I have. I envy people that do, and I compare myself to them a lot. I compare without ceasing. That I can manage, apparently.

When I heard this song, I realized that God was probably like “Alright Alex, let’s try this again. You’re always going to suck it up on your end of our relationship. Everyone is, no matter how holy the grass on the other side must look. The bottom line is that while you are (most certainly) not, I am perfect and I love you and I deserve to have you as my child.

How can something meant to be so freeing and flattering feel like so much pressure? God was telling me that nothing I do or have is something that I deserve or am entitled to or accomplished without His guidance. There is zero point to striving for perfection apart from Him. I often feel like if I work hard enough or stay busy enough or am productive enough, then I can forge happiness. I still, after all of these years of Christianity under my belt, find myself trying to make tick-marks on a checklist to feel like I am good-enough. I’m glad that the God of the freaking universe loves me enough to hit me over the head with reality and force me to get my head out of my own butt.

Anyway, this may or may not interest other people, but I thought it was pretty cool to get a Jesus-moment from Gilmore Girls. In closing, I’ll get this stuck in your head too:

Love, Alex

Nothing in It for Me

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I’m a feely person. I am 100% an external processor, it is difficult for me to “let things go” (how does one even just “let something go?”), and hormones are sooooo not my friend. SO this whole raising a baby-turned-toddler/adoption/growing another baby/adoption again thing has really taken a toll on my emotional state.

People say a lot of things about me. Lately, most of those things have been positive. “You guys are just so awesome.” “I’m so thankful for your calling.” “I don’t know how you do it, but God is really blessing you guys.” “She is a super-mom.” This is all very flattering, but do you want to know how I feel? I feel like a piece of crap. I feel like a selfish, whiny, brat of a person and I wish I could feel a lot stronger. 

The truth is that I am not a strong person, and for the first time in my life I can say that I can’t do this alone. That’s not to say that I could before, but I think God has been stringing me along for my entire life letting me think that I had it so hard and that I was handling everything so nicely, only to teach me a lesson that I apparently badly needed to learn, and with nothing short of grandeur. This lesson has come in loud and clear from the Big Guy. Are you ready?

“This isn’t about you, Alex.”

Ugh. Ouch.

You see, I didn’t even know it, but all of this excitement and pushing forward and all of the things that kept me (and both of us) going through this process was all about how it made me feel. It made me feel like a baller who was just doing the Lord’s work with grace and ease. Then reality hit me like a ton of bricks and it hurt. Badly. Having a teenager is hard. Teenage boys are gross and bonding with one in a maternal way isn’t as natural as I thought it would be. It often feels like all I am getting out of this is more laundry and less food. This is real-talk, you guys. THIS CRAP IS HARD. I don’t really know how to eloquently put it. Throw in a new baby with his own set of health problems and who cries all of the time, and my eyes have only one setting now: crazy.

This reality set in on day one. I sat in my closet alone on move-in day and realized that this didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I asked God what was wrong. How could something I was so excited about not feel all that exciting after all? Every time I have asked Him that question, which is all the time, His answer has come in loud and clear (which for me is a rare occasion. As you may remember, I am not a sweet whispers from God kind of person. I am a kick-in-the-pants kind of person for dang sure.):

“This is still My plan, even if there’s nothing in it for you.”

So this is not necessarily a sweet blog post in which the lesson or message can be wrapped up neatly with a bow. This crap is still hard. I am not nearly refined enough to take that message from God and allow peace to fall upon me or something. I am getting by a day at a time with the help of those closest to me (including God), and lots of crying and chocolate. I am a firm believer in the power of a good cry. My husband, on the other hand, wishes I would learn another coping mechanism that doesn’t stress him out quite as much. FAT CHANCE DUDE.

PS: Please don’t think I have gone off of the rails and am against foster-care and adoption now. That is the opposite of the truth. I am still 100% in and think that (most of) you should be too. Please still ask me questions about all of that, you can just trust that my answers will be raw and real and honest, which is really better, right?

Love, Alex

The Calm before the Storm

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I am literally minutes away from getting a delivery. Of a baby. Someone is coming my house to deliver a baby. To live with us. This is in addition to the baby I already have and the baby growing inside me right now.

I wanted to take a minute, really just for myself, to compose myself before possibly the craziest time *ever* begins. I don’t know what to expect, what to do, or how to be. All I know is that God has been setting me up for a while to trust Him with everything in me. He’s done that by turning my life upside down lately. Multiple hospital visits,a surgery, a surprise pregnancy, becoming the mother of a teenager I didn’t know before, scary moments, and lots of change. I have been an emotional wreck. And now He’s asking me to trust Him again.

I tried to enjoy my last night of regular sleep, but I really couldn’t. Dreams of chaos crowded my mind. As soon as the new baby starts figuring out sleep is probably when the even newer baby will make her grand entrance, then the cycle will start over. These last few moments are so weird. I feel like they should be sacred or something, but really they are just full of anxiety. I know I should be better, but I’m not. I feel like a crazy person. I have no idea what to expect and that scares the crap out of me. I am not a go-with-the-flow person. I need plans and structures and routine. We’ve been over this before, it’s nothing new. I am not easy-going, but apparently God would like for me to be.

So alright God, here goes.

Love, Alex

Broken

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They told me that this would be hard. That adoption comes from brokenness and that it is never as joyful and sunny as it seems like it should be. In our minds, adoption should be happy. A child has been rescued, right? It’s difficult to wrap our brains around the fact that “rescued” is a terrible way to describe it.

Yes, a child was without a forever home, and now s/he isn’t, and that’s so great, but they often don’t feel rescued, and what happens before, in between, and after the courtroom is still broken. (I’ll be using that word a lot in this post, broken, so buckle up and prepare yourself for some redundancy.) I haven’t even had a taste of the heartbreak that some adoptive and foster homes experience, and I am already exhausted. Exhausted from things not going my way, exhausted from the system, exhausted from waiting, exhausted from everything being out of my control.

Some of you are familiar with our adoption process. If not, you can find previous posts here, here, and here. As for a further update, we are still waiting. Sorry. I know some of you want precious, and I just don’t have any of it for you yet.

We have been selected as the pending adoptive family for a boy, but he has not been placed in our home yet. I’m finding it difficult to write about all of this without betraying anyone’s confidence or integrity and I’m sorry for that. I will share more as I feel more comfortable with the situation. That’s the hard part about being known as a writer who is brutally honest. I want to be, but sometimes even I have to have a little more tact.

Here’s some brutally honest for you, though. Seeing the intricacies of the system and how broken it is in and of itself makes me want to quit. It does. I’m so burnt out, worn down, and discouraged that it makes me feel like my small part in what is supposed to be the solution feels like it doesn’t matter. If all I get is pushback, what’s the point, right? This is the ugly side of adoption. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies like our unseasoned brains think it should be. Kids are broken. Homes are broken. The system is broken. WE, are broken.

The formula we make up where a kid is abandoned and then we come in on our white horses and “save” him/her and they are eternally grateful and happy and everything is beautiful just isn’t realistic. Not even a little bit. Yes, it can be beautiful in the end, but something had to break first. God never intends for those kids to be with adoptive parents. They were always supposed to be with their biological families, but through turmoil and heartbreak, we are second-best. We, who God commands to take care of the widows and the orphans. The members of society who are most desperate and in need of love and care. He doesn’t say “Take care of them if you feel ‘called’.” There’s your calling. Take care of them.

He paints a beautiful picture of adoption through the death of His Son. His intention was never for sin to enter the world, but it did, and it took brokenness in its worst form to fix it. The world was broken, so He became broken to come to our rescue. These kids come from situations that most of us can’t stand to imagine, and it’s our job to break and bend in order to take care of them. Not if it’s easy. Not until it’s not worth it anymore. Not to make us happy. But because those kids need to see God in us. Because if we aren’t patient while they figure this out, and walk through the process slower than we’d like, and are hesitant when we feel like they shouldn’t be, and when the system gets us down, who will?

Love, Alex

Spicy


Don’t let this photo fool you. My child is everything they said babies wouldn’t be. He is never cold, and has always gotten too hot for me to put him in those adorable fuzzy pajamas. He is strong willed and opinionated. And he is the opposite of cuddly and sweet.

I tell him all the time that he is not sweet, he’s spicy…just like his mama. I’m telling y’all, this child may look a lot like his daddy, but he is 100% my personality. I’m both proud of this and terrified for my and his (and Bryan’s) future.

This photo was taken while trying to get him to wind down and get ready for bed. He had been fighting me and trying to buck out of my arms. I held him tightly and said calming things to him as he fought and fought and finally was still.

God uses adorable little scenarios like this to gently wave my behavior at me like “Oh hey, see that? That’s you.” He tries to help and teach and refine me and I just fight Him. Nonstop. No matter how many times I’ve “learned my lesson” Having a baby has taught me a lot about how God must see us. Babies are ridiculous and irrational and unwise and clumsy and everything seems so obvious to everyone except them. Hm… I mean really. Babies be crazy. Perfect baby logic: “What’s this? The edge of the bed? Seems smart to just crawl off of here.” God tells us to trust Him, that He knows the way and that it’s better than ours, but we would rather just roll off the bed and hope for the best.

I love this Spicy child with my whole entire heart, and I am beyond grateful that someone loves me that much and more through all of my shortcomings and stupid behavior.

No More Ms. Waaay Too Nice Girl.

While I like to think that I’m not a cocky or arrogant person, I will admit to being good at a few things. Among those are strong logic skills, the ability to help others through conflict, and mediating conflict with a relatively clear head. You know what else I’m good at? Arguing. I’ve been told my whole life that I should be a lawyer because of my logic and argumentation skills.

I have a degree in Communication which specializes in the interpersonal variety. I spent 4 years studying human communication in regards to relationships, conflict, business, broadcasting, and the list goes on.  I had a pretty decent GPA at the end of it, and I am proud of myself for the work I did.

Unfortunately, this very expensive education had little to no effect on my own personal experience with conflict. I fail in minor areas such as not being able to see the logic through the rage, getting frazzled and overwhelmed and outraged by all of the many thoughts going through my mind and whatever you just said, and getting tongue-tied out of utter confusion that someone else could POSSIBLY think whatever it is that I don’t agree with. Possibly worst of all, instead of truly believing the fact that I am an adult on the same level as other adults, I make up hierarchies of people in my head and don’t allow myself to get past it. This includes most people of authority, the parents of people my age, and any adult who knew me as a child.

Instead of putting that pricy education to good use and learning how to grow up and emotionally protect myself and my family, I have learned some very bad coping practices. I either do nothing at all out of fear of embarrassing myself, not saying the right thing, or worst of all, hurting someone’s feelings, or I try to argue my points but falter because of the afore-mentioned frustration. I am the queen of “I should have said/done/mentioned/brought up ______. That would have shown them!”

Though I know it will shock you, this sort of behavior brings out many unhealthy habits. I am guilty of slander and gossip. Of stuffing frustration and letting it linger and build. Of inviting bitterness into my heart and allowing it to build and shape me. Of being afraid to live my life the way that God leads me to out of fear for upsetting others or disrupting their expectations of me. Of disregarding my husband’s feelings because I know he will forgive me, while I’m afraid others won’t. (<– the WORST.)

As Christians, we care called to mature conflict. As adults, it is expected in order to thrive in community with others.

God expects more out of His children than this. We’re not supposed to be cowards, but I so am. Regardless of the fact that history (and God Himself) has shown that God will always be on our side when we act justly and wisely in His name. History has also shown that the most respected and trusted people are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves, speak their minds maturely, and keep negative words against others at bay.

So knowing this, what am I so afraid of? Who am I more willing to disappoint?

My husband?

My family?

God?

Or everyone else?

Something’s gotta give. This is bad for me and bad for my family and bad for whoever I am frustrated with.

I am resolving to more phone calls and coffee dates with the source of my frustration and not about the source of my frustration. To better assessment of when to act and when to let it go. To be stronger and less afraid to stand up for myself and rid of unhealthy relationships, but mostly unhealthy situations. This is because I truly believe that things would be better if we were on the same page instead of me stuffing my anger. I truly believe that relationships thrive in mutual respect and much much less passive aggression. I’m resolving to command more respect for myself from others, and to stop allowing myself to be stomped on be everyone who tries, regardless of my own perceived hierarchy.

I’m resolving to start acting like the adult that I am.

Solidarity? Anyone else handle conflict like a child? Ugh, this is going to take work….and liquid courage from time to time.