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.

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This Child Has So Many Clothes.

Seriously y’all. We have been so incredibly blessed by people who see things that we would like, just have a lot of extra stuff, or just love us a lot.

You think I’m kidding? Check this out.

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And you guys? this isn’t even all of them. I’m trying to organize them by size into tubs so I can pull them out when he is ready to wear them. I started to catalog them all, but quickly gave up when I started hating my life and stuff.

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By far, this child has the most bear things ever owned by one person aaaaaaaand we love it. Grady, you’d better be into bears, man. Otherwise your father might cry actual tears.

So many thanks to my parents and sister, Bryan’s parents and sister, Heidi and Charlie Loften, Scott and Jennifer Mills, and Jeff and Joy Meekins for giving us all the great clothes for our little guy. He is set up for a long, long time!

 

Love, Alex

Dear Pregnancy Books and Websites…

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In my brief experience with pregnancy thus far, I have noticed some things. These are not pretty things, nor “glowy” things. These are real things. These are the things I wish I could have known. While realistically I know that it would be nearly impossible to pass along every single “what to expect” situation of pregnancy, but c’mon. I need some sassy girlfriend to lay some truth bombs on me for what is quickly becoming “the period in life we shall not speak of.”

I thought I’d compile a list of my findings so far. Not to worry, I’ll give an equally TMI updated version later on, as I am just now almost to the halfway point.

1. The age-old lesson of “Morning sickness isn’t actually just for mornings…” is old news. How about telling me what morning sickness is really like. In my head, morning sickness was this thing where you’d feel nauseous, throw up, and move on with your life until later when you’d do it again. I had no idea the crap-fest that is “morning” sickness. I was clueless to the fact that I would find myself praying to the heavens that I could throw up because then I’d feel better from the misery that is constant nausea. But that answered prayer is never as sweet as you’d think, huh? You lose a little piece of your self-esteem every time you have to throw up in a public space. Side of the road, at work, during a class you’re taking at your church…you haven’t quite experienced pregnancy until your knees become acquainted with the cold, hard floor of a public restroom…that’s my new motto any way. My favorite time was when we (grown adults) thought it was a good idea to hit up Denny’s at 11 pm when everyone had been consuming various amounts of alcohol throughout the evening. There is sick irony in an experience where you are the only one in the group who has not drank a drop…and are also the only one in the group who throws up in the Denny’s parking lot.

2. I grew up in a very open household. Everyone knew when anyone else in the family had any kind of bodily function. And then there was me. While it doesn’t weird or gross me out when others do, I’ve never been the “oversharing type.” It would have been nice if someone had told me that in pregnancy, that adorable privacy evacuates the premises. My dignity is hanging on by a thread at this point. I have lost the give-a-crap for when my husband and many other members of my tribe know the happenings of “the miracle inside me.”

3. I had to learn pretty quickly that eating is a whole new ball game. The books and websites clued me in to the whole backwards “eat when you’re nauseous and you’ll feel better” phenomenon, but no one told me about how aversions weren’t just for when you suddenly don’t like the taste of foods you previously loved or could stand the smell of. I wish I had known that this sweet, sweet baby of mine would be quick fickle about what I am allowed and not allowed to eat while it is sidling my resources and nourishments for 9 months. “Oh, you thought you could eat that delicious potato salad? Think again. Oooh soup, yum. HAHA. How about I make you bloated for 24 hours?”

4. For some women who I hate, the “starting to show” process is cute and dreamy. For me, this whole chubby-looking phase is lasting much longer than I’d like. The websites talk about the precious bump. No one tells you that it doesn’t look like that until MULTIPLE MONTHS of just looking like you have a slight beer belly.

5. I was unprepared for the fact that things I previously loved to do would be come a source of self-loathing. For example, I feel like I’ve made my love for cooking pretty clear in this blog, social media, and general conversation. I have cooked approximately 3 complete meals since I’ve been pregnant. The smell alone is enough to get me, and that’s not even mentioning the effort. I’ve found myself telling Bryan very sweetly that we can have whatever he feels like making or we can go out, whatever floats his boat. We’ve gone out mostly, in case you were wondering. Our monthly grocery budget is like $50 these days.

6. Whining about how you feel is much more rewarding than one might think. I told Bryan the other day that I really wish I could be one of those cool wives where when this was all over and done with he could look at me fondly and think to himself (and tell all the people) that I never even complained at all and took this process like a champ. “HAHAHAHAHAHA” We said in unison. I’ve complained every 5 minutes on average, as pregnancy sucks much more than everyone else lets on. Maybe next time (if there is one), I will suck it up and be that awesome non-complaining wife, although I imagine that version of Alex is like a unicorn or leprechaun… in likelihood that is.

7. Out of all the things I’ve feared in life, permanent body damage takes the crown. I am still unaware of all the changes to my body that I can look forward to. The other day I found out more body parts that I can plan on…ahem…*tearing* in my near future. I am also currently warding off stretch-marks like it’s my job. I hear coconut oil is the secret, so coconut oil-rubbing is my new daily ritual. I wish these cutesy websites could have a page where they lay it all on the line. I know that some moms-to-be would rather it be an unpleasant surprise, but I’d much prefer that sassy girlfriend be like “Look girl, this is the crap that will happen to you.”

8. Pregnancy Hormones are not as bad as the movies make them out to be. I figured with my PMS record that I would be a friggin’ mess while pregnant. This is one of the few pleasant surprises to come of this. I have not cried because there is no more juice, Bryan left the toilet seat up, or because man, Luke and Lorelei really are the perfect couple, and I’m a crier. I have only been irrationally angry like once. I am also aware that I am jynxing myself by posting about this awesomeness, so Bryan, prepare yourself.

9. Pregnancy guilt is much easier to shrug off than I thought it would be. I have always had a bad case of the “Wanting People to Like Me”s. I’ve learned much more in later years about ridding myself of this awful disease, but I still worried about caring what people think once I was pregnant. Much to my delight, my mom’s long-standing advice of “Know what you believe and why you believe it” has come in handy. “You’re drinking caffeine while you’re pregnant? There’s really no safe amount you know.” YEP. “You’re not even going to try to have a natural childbirth before getting an epidural?” NOPE. To each her own people, to each her own.

10. Because we all know how precious I am, I’ve saved the sweet one for last. The mom support group is so much more important than could have ever imagined. I’m sorry for taking advantage of you before I knew the effect you had. Please don’t abandon me for my ignorance in my time of need. Even though, yes, some of the advice and comments can get annoying (as in any situation), for the most part every seasoned veteran has been helpful and understanding. I like to think that pregnancy is as ridiculous for others as it is for me, and I’ve found so much support for this theory in those who love me. So thank you, other moms, I promise to never disregard your knowledge again… for the most part.

How My Faith Was Ruined

Preach it George!

Preach it George!

What? I’m the only one who breaks into song when almost every word ever reminds me of one? Especially one from the man who also begged us to “wake him up before we go-go.” No? Ok, moving on.

Once upon a time, there was a girl in her early 20s, we’ll call her… crap, nothing rhymes with Alex. It was me, ok?

Anyway, “she” was living her life doing that thing that Christians do, where they live how they want and then feel like bad Christians and then they remember that they go to church, have quiet time more often than not, try to avoid cussing, and watch what they spend their time doing and then feel better about themselves. This is of course until God used Jen Hatmaker and her book “7” and a few other methods to screw everything up for her. THE WORST. (That was only semi-sarcastic, you should still be afraid of standing next to me because lightning.)

Enter a very overwhelmed child of God with her newly found give-a-crap, straddling the fence between wanting things the way they were and marching forward now that I’m becoming more “in the know.” Part of me (the part with crazy eyes) wants to take one of GOB’s “forget-me-nows” from Arrested Development to empty my brain of all of the scary knowledge of the real world behind the curtain of the western church. The other part, the goody-two-shoes of my brain, knows that this is scary and raw and painful and sad, but is saying BRING IT.

Fun game: spot the pop-culture reference. I physically cannot write without one, apparently. There have been several so far.

So this is where I am RIGHT NOW. I’m not past this or on the other side of “figuring it out” or something. KNEE DEEP. It sucks. It’s no fun to see the world through a lens of greed, hostility, and pride. It’s hard to not be able to buy anything without thinking about tightening the binds of forced and unethical labor, or who and what I’m supporting with my dollars for that matter. Guess how much fun it is to become disgusted by habits and practices that CURRENTLY DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE. Not. That’s how much.

Ugh, Change is hard! And yes, I realize this is quickly becoming my mantra. But it is!

One thing I know for certain, and I’m totally stealing this from an awesome writer:

Jesus needs new PR.

Like, bad.

There is a reason that Christians leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and a lot of other religions don’t. Christians are awful a ton of the time. I’m sorry but it’s true. Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said to love our neighbors, forgive as we have been forgiven, and not to judge. Did we seriously think that those things were just entries in some sort of churchy suggestion box? This crap is on us, people. Start focussing more on damage control and less on being a hater.

Also, when Jesus said it would be hard for rich people to get to Heaven, sorry but He meant us. We may not feel rich by North American standards, but we SO ARE compared to the rest of the world. When we’re comfortable, we depend little to none on God for stuff like food and shelter and life. We get stuck in the “fill yourself up” phase and then stop, not going and making disciples of all the nations and sharing our GREAT GIFT and caring for the poor and widows and children and ALL THE THINGS.

Believe me when I say that this is where I am. I’m stuck.

It’s no fun and it feels like a swarm of emotions and things I need to be doing differently and I don’t really know where to go from here. But here are a few more things that I do know:

I am called to love people. Not only that, but I am called to love them AS MYSELF. That’s not just like a cute little thing Jesus said that one time. It is for reals, and trust me people, I love myself A LOT. It’s gotta be one-for-one. AS YOURSELF.

Another thing Jesus didn’t do: put an asterisk on the word “people” and then explain that it’s only the people who look, think, and act like us. Everyone. All of them. Even the ones who have hurt us, are criminals, or side with a different political party than we do.

Lastly, I know that caring about this stuff is a decision, not a feeling. It’s hard to always be conscientious about what you buy and how well you care for God’s creation and whether or not your time spent is edifying to Jesus. It’s not something you can either “feel convicted” about or not. (Gotta love Christianese)

These things aren’t really up for debate.

Giving of what God has given us? Puting other’s needs ahead of our own always?  Treating ALL of God’s children with love and respect?

Not “feeling” issues. Not up for debate.

It takes effort and thought to live the way God created us to. It’s so incredibly overwhelming. We live in a world where we are abundantly blessed. Even on our worst days. BLESSED. We have to decide to live the way Jesus wants us to and die to our own wills and plans and desires.

I’m done ignoring all of this stuff. The faith I thought I knew is broken forever, and I have to spend my entire life enacting God’s purpose for it. It’ll take a lot of prayer, research, and sacrifice, but what other choice do I have? To squander my life on things that will pass soooo quickly? No. NO. I have never felt more alive than I do right now. In the midst of the brokenness and confusion, I finally feel like I’m not wasting time and energy just living the way Alex wants to.

I for sure don’t have it figured out and never will. I will never be perfect at this stuff. I will literally die trying, but it’s worth it.

I’m so happy I’ve been broken, and I’m glad the faith I knew is ruined!

How has God broken your faith? And what did He use to do it?

PS: Stay turned for an in-depth look at my “7 Experiment” for further news on how my faith was ruined!