Thursday, April 22, 2010

Learning to Love: An candid look at my past month as a new mother.

I fell in love with a squirming 7 lbs 6oz of slimy wailing baby the second she was placed into my arms. A few hours later as night came and I was up alone with this new little stranger, I was suddenly acutely aware of the enormous responsibility that had descended upon my life. She was utterly dependent on me for everything. Warmth, nourishment, comfort, security... usually all at once every few minutes. Learning to nurse with her was an exciting task that night, but as the hours wore on and her fascinated little eyes continued to remain open, exhaustion of the past several days came crashing down. There in that hospital room I began to realize what loving a baby means.

5 weeks (nearly 35 days, or 840 hours, nearly 240 feedings and countless diapers) later, I am still learning what it means to love a baby. It starts with discovering the hopeless mess your character has gotten itself into. You are a ball of nerves, devoid of faith and patience clinging determinedly to the accustomed selfishness. Exhaustion intensifies this nasty soup of soggy tears. "Why wont this baby nurse right? She is so tired! Why won't she fall asleep? How miserable it is to hurt and ache and be subject to every whim of a person not two feet long." Gripe, sigh and focus on self. Fatigue and physical discomfort without the ability to relieve oneself adds additional charm to the tearfully frustrating time that you find yourself in often as a new parent at night.

I have realized that the majority of my struggles so far come from one wrong focus. The focus on myself, my time and my comfort. Spending 98% of every day focusing all of your effort, stamina and time on another person is exhausting. It is my selfishness that tells me that there is something undesirable about this situation. I am not patient with the innocence that struggles with learning how to be a baby in this huge new world. She fusses for hours trying to grapple with the conflicting needs that press her: hunger, fatigue, gas, a soggy bottom, and the confusion that results from all of these making themselves known at once.

I have discovered that I need to learn how to love. To love like Jesus does. Not the falling in love kind of love, but the love that decides to love. I am learning that this kind of love is not located anywhere inside of myself. I utterly lack the patience and compassion I need. But my Father said He would give it to me, and so slowly, and am being shown how.

Every night and most of the day, I must choose to put myself down and pick up my adorable and fussing "refining fire" and say "honey, take your time. Take as long as you need. I am here and I am not going anywhere." As I have prayed, sighed and occasionally shed frustrated tears at night, I am learning to breathe deep, and pick up patience along with my baby. I am learning to lay myself down as I lay her down and pat her back as she wakes up yet again. I am humbled every time I look at the perfection that my Father has given me. Humbled that He sees my utter lack of Him and says, "Lets work on this, dear. I am here and I am not going anywhere." As I once again fall into my selfish attitude, He lovingly picks me up, gives me strength, and keeps on loving.

Often, the tears change from tears of frustration, to tears of realization, then to tears of thankfulness and then tears of love. Those quiet moments, holding my baby, letting go of me, are gifts from God. I am learning to love.

"He must increase and I must decrease."
-John 3:30

"This is Love, not that we loved God, but that HE loved US."
-1John 4:10

A look inside the mind of a baby... as far as her mother can tell.

My little baby is a whole month old already, soon to be 5 weeks... Her cheeks are filling out, her eyes are focusing, her thighs are gaining in chubby rolls and she is discovering that her voice can do more than cry. It is an exciting world to be in. Everything is new and fascinating, shadows and contrasts in color hold amazement to be studied in depth, sunlight is at once both startling and soothing, watching something move beyond the current scope of vision happens less, now that her eyes and head have learned to follow it...

It is also a scary time. Sneezes and coughs are startling to a little body that has only been experiencing them for a few short weeks. Hunger pangs, the need to burp or go are all uncomfortable and frightening to a little mind with no concept of the passage of time... She doesn't even know she has toes and those fingers that keep poking her eyes can not possibly be hers... can they?

They descend out of nowhere and suddenly they are all consuming... they must have been there forever and there is no end in sight... Hunger!! Then suddenly there is food... but oh! Too much! Control is regained of the steady flow of warmth, but there is something burning somewhere... Soggy and uncomfortable... This discomfort is so distracting eating becomes a frustrating process of drinking and fussing. Suddenly there is no more food, somewhere is cold, not soggy anymore but cold, and there is that hunger thing again, and fatigue has set in and oh why is it stiiilll cooold and why is there no foood?? Oh! There is the food... Its not cold anymore but oh.... so tired... oops no more flow of food WHERE IS ihhhoh.... So sleepy but hunger is still there... and now a bubble has trapped itself somewhere inside and it HURTS!! With no understanding of how to expel it... it is stuck and now there is no food! Why is there thumping when I want food and my belly hurts?

A confusing, thrilling, scary, exciting, bright, safe place to be is the world in which she lives...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It is snowing again! But this time a warm breeze is the cause. Soft pink and while petals are sent dancing by the breath of spring, they spin and twirl as the hang suspended between heaven and earth. One of the most lovely parts of this lovely season.

Flowers on trees... Somehow it blows my mind every year. Things can grow in so many ways, but that God chose to make some things bloom... amazing. To me, its little pieces of God's love that He has given us in radiant abundance several times a year.
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork..." Ps. 19

I have officially decided that spring is my favorite time of year. There is nothing like watching the grass turn green, smelling the freshness return to the air, seeing the buds appear and bloom and hearing the birds start to wake up and make their joyfulness known to the world. I love watching things grow. The whole concept of something starting from nearly nothing and turn into something seemingly unaided is so humbling. The world just breathes God's presence. Spring makes me feel all the more aware of it, everything is so clearly responding to His touch.

Lying on the couch beside me is my very own little pink rosebud blooming right along with the trees. She has got to be the pinkest baby I have ever seen.

"You formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother's womb, I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Ps 139

I will never grow tired of just staring at her. It is truly incredible to have been a part of the creation process and watch this little person come into being. Watching her grow and change and learn utterly blows me away. I feel like I have come to know a whole different side of God, the Creator side, in a whole new way. I don't think I truly got it before, and I am not sure that I do now... All I know is that when I look at this perfect little person, I see the fingerprints of God in every teeny detail.

He is so good.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Phillipians 3:7-14

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

-This really sums it all up. This is what it is all about. May this become the earnest prayer of our hearts.