Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Year

Wyatt helping Todd

Julie snuggling with Loralai

Bryan, Turner and Loralai

Completely and totally drunk on milk - and happy about it!

me and bryan

What a difference a year makes. Or almost.

I was just uploading pictures from our day today and I opened an old file. It was from last spring. And in it were pictures of my family. My brother’s family came to visit me last spring, along with my mom. Wyatt was a little over one, Turner was a little more than three and I was about a month shy of being pregnant. I look back at those pictures and I think a few things…

Turner will never have those cute pudgy arms again. Wyatt’s eyes will never hold such complete innocence. Julie’s womb will never have just held baby boys. Bryan will never just be a dad of sons and he will never have a dad again. And mom will never be a grandmother to just boys. And I will never be able to say that I don’t know the love a mother has for her babies.

A year. My life has changed so much.

But it’s inevitable. Life does that. Though even though life is always changing, it’s still hard to accept that change. And then sometimes, it’s an awesome welcome.

My nephews got to meet Loralai for the first time this weekend. Turner and Wyatt are so different. Turner is tenderhearted and curious to understand people and quick to do anything to make you smile. Wyatt is wild at heart, adventurous and ready to do anything that allows him to exert major energy. So upon meeting Loralai, Turner wanted to hold her and give kisses and Wyatt wanted to give hugs – BIG ones.

It was precious, really.

I can’t help but look at those old pictures and compare them to the new ones. I look at Loralai and I can’t believe she has such long long eyelashes. But my brother has long eyelashes – and so did my dad. It’s bittersweet, really. You never realize how different life can be a year later. I was slowly repairing my relationship with my dad a year ago. And while I’m so glad that salvation was his ending and allowed eternity in paradise, I can say that I wish he was here to at least see the long eyelashes his granddaughter has.

And so I look at these pictures from today and I think – what’s next? Julie will have her baby girl. Loralai will be bigger. The boys will be telling us new stories and jokes. And life will be richer. But still, it will certainly be uncertain.

How do I cherish the moments as they arrive? I slow down. I let them arrive and remember that nothing – nothing – remains the same except the maker himself.

And in that, I find a new breath of relief.

How precious is family and the moments that make you just sigh with peace. I love my nephews so much. I have to remind myself that my sister-n-law is my brother’s wife because she seems more like blood than an in-law. My brother will always be the man I first looked up to. My husband will always be the smile I need. My mom is the best case of the giggles you could ever need. And my baby is the most precious scent of heaven that God ever did create.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

rest. you will find rest.

...a while ago i began doing devotionals - of sorts. i say of sorts because they mostly reflect on my walk and experiences. i share them, via email, with friends and family. and now, i suppose i'll share them here too. i hope they can somehow help you in your walk.
Let this old life crumble. Let it fade. Let this new life offered be your saving grace. …you can rest. You will find rest.

Those are some of the lyrics to a song by Jeremy Camp. My husband likes to say that music soothes the soul of the savage beast (or something like that). But his point – music soothes us all. Somewhere there lives a song that speaks directly to our hearts. It slows us. We stop and listen to the words and in the melody, the lyrics, the beat – we find a little comfort.

After weeks of sleepless nights with a newborn, this song jumped out at me on the radio when I heard him say – you can rest. You will find rest.

I thought – reeeeally? When?

But then like God likes to do, he broke it down for me. Rest. Spiritual rest, Ashley.

For so long I’ve been pushing forward hard. My pregnancy was physically tough and took the wind out of my sails on more than one occasion. But it forced me to toughen up in places where I was admittedly too soft, and soften in places where I was too hard. And yet, still, as I enter motherhood, God is still breaking me of old habits.

Like control.

I’ve realized how different this new life of mine is. There isn’t a day that I’ve had in the past 6 weeks that are anything comparable to the days prior. Really. Not a moment is similar. And that takes adjustment and with that adjustment comes days of being exhausted. Physically and emotionally exhausted.

I’ve called out to God and begged him for rest – physically and emotionally. I’ve asked for hugs from Jesus and angels to guard my baby while my eyes are closed. And still I hear – Let this old life crumble. Let it fade. Let this new life offered be your saving grace.

Becoming a mom isn’t the new life offered. The new life was my salvation. But because I’m saved, I am walking in fellowship with Jesus. And every day, I have a choice: to ask the Holy Spirit to lead – or I can lead.

If you’ve never had a baby, you may not be able to feel this completely – but trust me when I say that being given charge over a life is the most blessed and vulnerable feeling you will ever feel. And initially, you may think that you can take control of the situation. You may think that because you’re an adult, you can handle your baby. But like Beth Moore says – when God gives you a calling, he follows it with a killing.

And after my sweet Loralai was born, God started killing off a bunch of old stuff. And slowly, it’s beginning to fade. I’m relinquishing control to God. I’m having quiet time at night. I’ve started journaling again. And I’ve surrendered my baby to a schedule of naps that, at first, seems like torture but when she rises from her slumber – I know that she and I have both found rest.

God is good. In his son we find rest.

Psalm 62:5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah

Matthew 11:28-30
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light

2Cor 12:7-10
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "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. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

new nights

it's tuesday night, according to my watch (that's 10 minutes slow and i refuse to reset), it's 8:25. i'm sitting in bed with the husband and i've decided to start something new. i mean why not? everything else is new these days. currently we've got a new baby - 5 weeks old. we've got new dogs - not really. but they act like it. they're jealous of the new baby and are acting out. so to figure out how to treat them seems like we've got new dogs. we've got little sleep - that's new. we're sleep deprived - that's new. we're learning to say - i'm sorry. will you forgive me? - a lot more. that's new. we're learning to eat food luke warm, eat while standing, shower in 5 minutes or less, be ok with unbrushed teeth until noon or later, wear pj's until 4 p.m., let voice mail pickup phone calls, email with one hand, eat while holding a baby, pee while holding a baby, change a dirty diaper in less than 2 minutes, and give endless amounts of hugs and kisses in an effort to fill a baby up with enough love to last her a lifetime.
...i labored for 12 hours. i wanted so badly to deliver drug free and naturally. but God had different plans for our baby's birth. he had different plans for me. he forced me to completely surrender. i remember lying on the operating table and just letting go and saying, "ok God. i'm out, you're in. this is completely you. please protect me and keep loralai healthy." really - i had to surrender. no one wants a c-section. it's major surgery. there's a great deal of risk involved. and it's scary - trust me, it's scary...especially when you hear the doctor say that you're losing a lot of blood and will need a transfusion. it was a forced surrender, but i think a surrender i needed to face. because i realized something. no matter the way your baby is born - it's still just as glorious. as they were pulling loralai out, i could feel the tugs on my abdomen. i knew she was coming. i can't explain the emotion that was rising up in me as i knew my baby was being born. i started praying out loud and just praising jesus. it was a major hallelujah moment. and as she was born, they lifted her above the curtain that hung between us and with her hands lifted high and mine lifted high - i cried as i felt her sweet little legs and watched her gasp for air. never in my life have i ever felt so blessed. never have i ever been so in awe - it was a divine moment.
and every night that i feed my sweet baby, that i hear her sucking her milk and feel her hands on my body, i realize how perfectly God created my body for hers. i am reminded how completely perfect God creates and how beautiful a life he has given me.
our new nights - with less sleep and all, are beautiful. they are heaven glimpsed.

...i hope this blog will be a fun way for you to keep up with our new family and allow you to share a glimpse at the blessing that started when todd and i met and got even sweeter when loralai whitney was born.