Ladies and Gentlemen…Well, really just mostly Ladies

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So when I was pregnant, I was of the “meet me in the parking lot with the epidural” camp as far as giving birth is concerned. I had friends that did all natural childbirth, and a part of me was happy for and proud of them, and part of me was sorry for them. Just keeping it real. Ripping my vagina open and feeling every bit of it did not seem like something I wanted any part of. So my “birth plan” consisted of “I go into labor. Bryan drives my panicking butt to Willow Creek. I check in, get epidural, and push out baby. I smile and cry at miracle. The end.”

God must have been all “HAHAHA that’s cute. Remember how your mom had preeclampsia, spent 22 hours in labor pushing and then the doctor told her that her pelvis didn’t do that? And remember how I created genetics?”

So yeah, NOTHING happened like it was supposed to. I got preeclampsia and was induced at 39 weeks and some change. I almost tied my mom’s labor record. He wasn’t a-comin’. At almost 22 hours, I was still only at a 5 and Grady was still a -3 station. (For those of you that don’t know what any of that means, it is a measure of cervical dilation and how far down into my lower extremities he was, respectively. The station starts at -4, so he had only moved one unit after all of those contractions.)

At long last, the doctor told me I would have to have a c-section. I was devastated. I felt like a failure. I was terrified. My mother’s fate had become mine. I cried, Bryan cried, my mom cried. We all know how well I deal with change, and I had been served a whole lot of it all at once. Laying on that table waiting to be cut open was one of the most out-of-control, least fun feelings I’ve ever experienced. But you guys, look what I got out of it.

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Wait, no. Bad example.

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That’s better.

I found myself becoming so thankful that I live in a day and age where my experience was possible. What if c-sections weren’t a thing, or if I lived in a place without access to the right equipment to do one? One or both of us may have died. And also, there are perks to having a baby extracted from me instead of pushed out of me. I didn’t poop in front of anyone, for one thing. There are others, I’m sure, but I was pretty psyched about the poop thing.

So when I was asked to do a tour of The Birth Center, I was skeptical. I had friends who went there for their pregnancies and childbirth, but what could they do for me? I mean, even if I wanted to participate, that ship had sailed, right?

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The founder of the Birth Center in Rogers, Cara, telling us all about it. She is an extremely educated, wise businesswoman who is passionate about women’s maternity health.

So wrong. What I imagined was a super crunchy, all natural, granola place was actually an incredibly modern, beautifully decorated, home-like place. Their 4 birthing rooms are set up like bedrooms I want to live in STAT. They have heated, vibrating, cleaning toilets, you guys. WARM TOILETS. I gave birth in December, you do the math. They also boast of low waiting room times. As someone who had to wait upwards of an hour at my appointments sometimes, I was all ears.

Imma need to know where you got that bedding.

Imma need to know where you got that bedding.

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Here is me striking an awkward pose during a tour to show off how nice their bathroom set up and decor is.

I have to pause here and give a shout-out to my friend Sarah, so I’m sure is thinking “I tried to tell you all of this, you jerk” right now. Sorry I didn’t listen, Sarah!

This was all fine and dandy…for other women. The ship had sailed, right? I had the scar that got me into the “no vaginal births unless you want to drive somewhere else to maybe, possibly, painfully make it work” club. Then I took a look at their exam room and found out that they do all-over women’s care. So basically, I can partake in the dreaded yearly in a fluffy robe in a warm environment instead of the alternative, which I feel no need to explain. They also do birth control care, will test for hormone levels, can give prescriptions for UTIs and stuff, and tons of other needs.

I mean, look at that. That just looks comfy. My friend Jacqueline actually put it on. I wanted to but am less brave than she is.

I mean, look at that. That just looks comfy. My friend Jacqueline actually put it on. I wanted to but am less brave than she is.

I loved my experience with Willow Creek, and will definitely go back IF I have another baby by growing it and not adopting it, but I am going to the Birth Center for my yearlys from now on. I didn’t expect to be sold, but man, it’s hard to say no to their amenities, especially when it’s just as, if not more affordable than traditional settings.

Above all, I love how empowering they are for women. They have somehow found a way to make you feel like a delicate flower and strong warrior all at the same time. And I love that.

Acorn Disclosure

You can find more info on The Birth Center in Rogers here. They are happy to answer all questions you may have and THEY DO FREE TOURS, y’all!

Love, Alex

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What the Proverbs 31 Woman is NOT.

Proverbs 31

You want to know a secret? I mostly HATE Christian blog posts about women. What women should be, what women should aspire to be, what kind of men women should seek, what kind of woman men should seek, and the list goes on.

I hate them. With some exceptions of course, I feel like they are sexist, narrow-minded, and generally lacking.

I’ve always held that God NEVER intended for men and women to become so unequal. He created different roles for us within families and somehow, even by earlier biblical times, those roles became known as more and less important and they stretched to become meaningful in society as a whole.

Enter the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve always liked her, but people use her as an example for something she’s not. She’s not timid or meek. She’s not stuck in a box. She’s certainly not less important. She’s feisty and has gumption. She’s a shrewd businesswoman, she works out, and she trusts her gut. My favorite part about this passage though, is that it says absolutely nothing about how good she is at the things she does.

We women love to both judge and compare ourselves to each other, partly out of nature and mostly out of nurture. Society has fueled in us the need to be better than our lady friends. You know who is the worst at this? Type-A people..

My husband recently said to me “You can’t be the best at everything you know.” While rationally I know this to be true, I let it hurt my feelings and you know what it was about? Rice Crispy Treats. Freaking RICE CRISPY TREATS. Ugh, God has so much work to do on me.

Proverbs 31 is filled with tons of badass things that this lady is and does, but says nothing about her skill level. Maybe she rose while it was still night with bedhead and horrific morning breath and went straight for the coffee because she was sooo not a morning person. Maybe all of the coverings and linens she sewed came out with crooked seams. Maybe her charity didn’t serve as many homeless people as the woman next door’s did. It says she GIVES food to her household and maidens, but maybe the Proverbs 31 woman ordered takeout because she was a terrible cook. MAYBE after all of that rising and sewing and feeding and field-buying she was exhausted and wound down with a bubble bath and a glass of wine… sheepskin of wine? You get the point.

She still lived her life like a boss. She was confident in what she did and delighted in serving her family. Even if she wasn’t the best, her husband was proud to be standing at her side and her children ADORED her.

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That’s all we really can do. Be the best us we know how to be and don’t sweat the rest. As a new mom, I’m learning that this is so important to remember. I’ve already crossed craftiness and staying underwhelmed off the list of things I’m good at, and I can assure you that there are more things on that list than the other one. But you know what I am awesome at? Loving that little guy so much that it hurts. He and Bryan make me want to be better for our family. My job is to keep him alive, lead him toward Christ, and love him, and as long as I am doing those things, even if I’m not the best at it, then I’m a Proverbs 31 woman too.

Love, Alex

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.

The Jesus Lens

Although I would like to pretend that I am the same to everyone, it would be a big fat Greek lie. The fact is that while I obviously have some personality traits that are take-it-or-leave-it, I alter my behavior a lot depending on my circumstances. Seriously. You should see my DISC personality test. I am an enormously high C in both natural and adaptive circumstances, but upon the switch from natural to adaptive, I go from a secondary I to a secondary S. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means that I try to be all chill and laid back and like “whatever man, I can totally roll with the punches you’re throwing right now.” when I feel like people are watching, while I am naturally freaking the eff out on the inside because CHANGE!

Bryan LOVES this about me. (No he doesn’t.) He thinks it’s adorable how I will be super confrontational and crazy person-esque with him, but then be a pushover and treat others with tons of respect and always let them have their way and consider their feelings first. Seems fair right?

All of this to say: I am really nice most of the time to most people. I bottle feelings, I relinquish my opinion, I will do things I don’t want to do, I always try my hardest to make sure I never make people feel stupid or shut down. Now with everything, I am sure I fail at this sometimes, but it would absolutely crush me to learn that I had hurt someone unintentionally with something I said or did.

If you’ve kept reading through all of the brag-fest, I commend you, because I’m really not bragging at all. It is because of this niceness and others-first mentality that I leave myself open to a lot of vulnerability. I am a huge baby and am very sensitive. Instead of being selfless with all of the traits mentioned above, I genuinely expect the same in return, regardless of personality, and will be very hurt if not. Now because we don’t live in that Perfect Town in the Walgreens commercials, you can see my dilemma. I am hurt a lot. It’s a little embarrassing how much I tend to take personally.

She knows I don’t like that and she just doesn’t care.”

He was there when I said that this was what I wanted and he’s doing something else anyway because he only cares about himself.”

And on and on and on and on and on.

Instead of being a mature adult who understands that every person in every city in every country on every continent on this planet is different from everyone else, I take things personally and willingly allow bitterness to take root in my very being.

As usual, I realized what a giant brat I am when looking at my behavior through the Jesus lens. How hurt would Jesus be if He allowed all the bullcrap I pull to get to Him? He gives and gives and gives and yet I seem to have zero problem with knowingly hurting Him or ignoring Him or putting myself before Him.

Ughhh Whyyyyyy can’t I just wallow in my self-pity and let my hurt fester without feeling all guilty and crap? Booooooo.

Anyway, this is what’s been on my mind lately. Sorry I suck at posting sometimes.

Does the Jesus lens ever make you feel like a ginormous brat? (I’m aware that it should and that Jesus certainly wouldn’t want it to, but it does.)

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell

**Sidenote (…or topnote): I wrote this on Friday, but am just now getting around to posting it, hence the past-tense verbage.**

 

Y’all, this is my third post this week, crazy right? I am on fire. Or at least I feel like I am and we can all pretend a little can’t we?

Anyways…. soooo um, I have always wanted to foster a sense of openness on here. To be painfully real. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty “real” in real life too, but somewhere between my first vent-session with more people than I would like and a full on melt-down in front of waaaaay more people than I would like, I start to feel a sense of embarrassment. Like “Ok Alex, you’ve let them know you’re hurting and could use some prayer, but let’s quit while you’re ahead and before you let them in on the fact that you’re a crazy psycho sometimes.”

I get ashamed that sometimes the advice doesn’t help, it only reminds me that, try as I might, I can’t just get over it, or pray it away, or let it go. It’s in this place that I usually decide that people will tire of hearing the same hurts over and over again and consider me helpless because I seem to just be wallowing in my feelings.

I’m here to say that I’m losing it, you guys. Seriously. Losing my crap.

I have been a mess lately, and I don’t exactly know why. I tried on Monday to convince myself that the day of the week was somehow to blame, but it hasn’t stopped. All of the spaziness and clumsy moves have continued, and they’ve invited their friends Random Crying and Self-Loathing.

I have been just a loss-of-concentration away from tears at all times. I have been snappy and sad and unpleasant to say the least. I have not been doing my quiet time. It has been very difficult to find God in all of this.

There have certainly been actual contributions to my hurt, it’s not all crazy, I promise! But it sure feels like it sometimes. I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not pregnant, which although we aren’t “trying yet” was one of the “actual contributions” mentioned above.

Although I know deep down that I am learning something crucial, I still have prayed that God would rescue me. I have told Him I can’t find Him, that I feel like He’s not listening. I know in my heart that He’s really with me and on my side, and that knowledge alone has kept me from relinquishing hope, but it has begged me to wonder why I feel so abandoned. I’ve allowed myself to crawl into a dark space and let Satan whisper to me that I am alone. That no one cares and I’m just being a drama queen.

It was today, on my 87th (est.) trip to the bathroom at work to prevent tears and tell myself to get it freaking together that God reminded me of something. I have fewer times in my life where I felt a true “God-moment” than I would like, but in that place I found myself looking at my hands. I heard God tell me that He made them, and I can curse them just like the rest of myself, but He created something and called it good, whether I want to believe it or not.

As I kept staring down through the floodgates that finally burst, He used those same hands to remind me that His own human hands were pierced for me. That may seem like Christianity 101, but in that moment I neeeeeeded that. I needed to be reminded that regardless of my hurts, pains, and failure to trust, He would allow His own perfect hands to be crushed again and again for me.

I’m still hurting. I’m still fighting back tears. I’m still resistant to change and advice that I’ve heard too many times before.

I’m still His. And although I deny that I’m worthy of His help even as I cry out for it, I know that there is light at the end of this crap, and beauty within it.

Maybe I should take my own advice, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck right now.

Solidarity anyone? Does your life suck right now and you may or may not know why exactly?

Clothes.

clothes

I know, I know. This has taken me entirely too long. I’ve had all of my 7 stuff saved as drafts forever, but I keep having new thoughts and ideas and aaaaah! I have a lot to say, ok?

Anyway.

Recap: The girls in my Community Group took Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and did our own experiment. No, not the one she orchestrated with another book on making your own experiment, because apparently none of us though to check that. So we did the extra work and made our own. Do we get bonus points for that? No? Ok. Sorry for all the links.

Clothes was the second chapter that we tackled in our 7 experiment. I didn’t necessarily think it would be hard, I just thought it would be annoying and a giant hassle. Let’s look at her rules:

  • 7 articles of clothing total, for 1 month
  • Undergarments do not count.
  • 2 pairs of shoes count as 1 item of clothing (leaving you with 6 more to choose)

Our rules:

  • The exact same, but for 2 weeks instead of 4.

Thaaaaaat’s right people! We got brave on this one and played by the rules. I should clarify. When I say “We,” I mean the majority of us. There were exceptions to the rules in some cases. For instance, Jen Hatmaker is a writer and speaker, but otherwise, a mom who works from home. She had the freedom to wear the same thing over and over without worrying about having to look (too) professional. Heather is a counselor and Raven is a graphic designer, so they still limited themselves, but had to expand their wardrobe a bit for work-times.

This happened to be the same week when my kidneys decided that growing E Coli might be fun times, so they gave it a whirl. I was home sick with pyelonephritis for half of the first week and in the hospital for the other half. I tried very hard to wear the 7-sanctioned casual clothes while I was at the hospital, but clothes get dirty (weird huh?) and the idea of trying to explain in my drugged up mind what I could and couldn’t wear to someone else seemed cruel for both of us, so I gave in. I rocked it the second week though!

So remember when I said I thought it would be annoying and burdensome? It wasn’t (aside from the *minor* hiccup there at the beginning) AT ALL! It was actually pretty awesome.

No having to decide what to wear.

No pressure of accessories.

No feeling like my clothes didn’t look good on me.

Best of all: No one asking me “Didn’t you just wear that yesterday?”

Wait, Whaaaat? I’m serious! I thought that people would notice and tease me about wearing the same clothes over and over, but my ego was forced to take it down a notch because NO ONE CARED. Even at work. No one even seemed to notice.

I think that was the biggest lesson for me. I get so concerned with what other people think of me, and that binds me to a lot of my materialistic tendencies. I want people to think I’m cool. I want people to think I’ve got great style. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I want people to be jealous of me and what I have sometimes, as if that will make my insecurities magically go away.

I realized that if I were to sell all of my clothes and keep only my favorite ones, no one would give a tiny rat’s you-know-what. That is so freeing. It’s also so humbling. This realization kind of forces you to get off your high horse and pay attention more to things that matter and less to things that–try as we might–will not last.

Next up: Stress.

Have any of you done the 7 experiment? Or just sold a bunch of clothes and had a panic attack about it? Tell me Tell me!

Here’s to a Crappy 2009

So I am in the process of reading the archives of a very funny blog I recently came to know (Jamie The Very Worst Missionary– for real, check her out! And do so before you make any kind of judgements about her blog name.), and I just got to her New Year’s post from 2009/2010. She had a really crappy year that she was happy to see end, and I have binge-read all about the reasons why within a couple of weeks.

That’s nice right? To be able to see a snapshot of someone’s life and learn in a day what took them a whole year to figure out. What if we could do that with our own lives? What if we could fast-forward or “binge read/watch” to see how it ends, or speed up the hurt and pain, or just at least KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO BE OK IN THE END. Don’t we all feel that sometimes? I mean we know it’s immature, and impossible, and ridiculous, but sometimes the circumstances just have us wishing we could get to the “lesson-learned” part of the story. To know that the resolution will come soon.

The truth is, I remember my 2009. I remember that it sucked too. I remember talking with some friends that I still have today about how much 2009 seemed to suck for everyone we knew.

I was a second semester freshman/first semester sophmore in 2009.

I broke up with my first college boyfriend that year, the first boyfriend that ever truly meant something to me.

I had my first TERRIBLE roomate situation. I mean terrible y’all. They like, burned pictures of me and stuff.

I got a demotion at work (yes it was at a restaurant, but cut me some slack, in college-world, it was a huge deal!) which lead me to switch jobs from the first one I ever had since moving to NWA.

I was a pretty good kid, but the only phase where I sowed oats of any variety, it started happening in 2009.

Of course there are other things too, these are just the highlights. (Lowlights?)

I probably cried more that year than I had in a long time.

I wish I could go talk to that girl. I wish I could tell her that it gets better. SOON! I wish I could tell her that college graduation does come, that she survives the homework, tests, and teachers that seem like they will be the death of her. I wish I could tell her that next year, she meets the love of her life. I wish I could tell her that some of the friends that she feels like are all she has don’t last and she finds amazing ones that she could never have imagined. I wish I could tell her so much more.

In the end though, I learned from all of that. God tells us that we will go through trials. We’re supposed to grow in all of our hurts. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and all that stuff right?

But it doesn’t feels like that in the moment. It feels like we could just die right there because NOTHING will get better. The not knowing is the worst part, but later we can look back on the experience and grow. That’s what refinement is all about. If we knew the end of the story while we’re still in the middle, we’d never learn from the experience, and we’d never learn to trust God, and we’d never learn to CALM THE EFF DOWN and lean not on our own understanding.

Sometimes I think back to a younger Alex and how she thought that when she was 24 she would be so smart and successful and mature and wise. And then I laugh my head off. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. Who thinks “When I’m *that* age, I’ll have it all.”

I learn a lot about my own faith and how little I have of it each time I go through something tough. I like to think that I have more faith at the end each time, but who knows. Hopefully one day I will have the trust for God that I should. The trust to get me through, knowing that God has sooo got this.

As I pray for some friends who have gone through something so gut-wrenchingly hard recently, I’m thinking about all of this. About how my faith will be tested next, and how I’ll need to remember that sometime in the years to come, a future Alex will look back and want to tell me that God has it under control RIGHT NOW. That it is ok in the end. If for no other reason than the fact that God. Is. There.

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On a lighter note, I dug up some photos of me from 2009 in honor of this post, and let me just say that I came across a slew of really embarassing selfies from 2009 that I apprently LOST MY MIND during because I ACTUALLY POSTED THEM TO FACEBOOK. I am so not plastering them on here, but they’re there, if you’re willing to find them.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren't my only friends based on this photo.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren’t my only friends based on this photo.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don't* still have that hat...if you were wondering.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don’t* still have that hat…if you were wondering.