June 27, 2012

My Adoption Internship

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 7:30 pm by Tamara

I mentioned here how one of the things we were concerned about if we want overseas was the timing of my internship.  Three years ago I decided to go back to school for my degree in Psychology: Christian Counseling through Liberty University Online.  I finished my coursework in May (YAY!!) and then needed to complete an internship in order to graduate.

I was pretty stressed out about trying to find a position.  I have a hard time asking for help when I have nothing to give in return (I know, I know: pride), plus I felt rather insecure/ridiculous looking for a counseling internship as an undergrad student. I was also really unsure how it was going to work with Berean, since Adam’s working three jobs and not available much to watch him.  And, honestly I was resenting having to be away from Berean, even if only part-time.  I love staying at home with him!

So, frankly, I put off looking until way too late, and was really down to the wire.  I started praying hard that God would help me find an internship where I could both really learn something and really serve Him.  Praise the Lord he’s faithful even when I’m not, because he graciously answered my prayers to help me find a position.  Through a long, unlikely string of people that stretched over several states, I was connected with a non-profit that provides support services for orphans and adoptive/foster families.

I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff, from interviewing adoptive families, to researching grants, to soliciting donations, to helping deliver meals.  Tomorrow I find out about doing some work with an agency that uses animals in therapy, which I am REALLY excited about.  I think animal-assisted therapy could be fantastic for kids with attachment disorders.  In July I get to sit in on the CORE adoption training that Colorado requires for potential adoptive parents, which is another huge blessing because it’s a costly training and they’re letting me attend for free.

Our most recent big event was a night where foster and adoptive families dropped off their kids for a one night VBS-like program.  The goal was to give them a much-needed night off and hopefully relieve some pressure so that they can keep providing quality care and loving homes and avoid a failed placement.  We had about 50 kids and 20 volunteers, and I think it was a smashing success!

One thing I’ve been hearing consistently is that practical things like a meal or a night of babysitting can be a huge help.  One amazing adoptive mother of several children who’ve had a lot of struggles to overcome put it this way, “You can get so emotionally and mentally overwhelmed by the struggles your family is going through that just the thought of fixing dinner is completely overwhelming.  Sometimes just having a few meals delivered or someone helping you clean your house is enough to help you feel like you can face another day and not give up and send the child back into the system.”

It makes perfect sense to me.  When you’re going through a very emotionally demanding situation, it’s almost like your brain and spirit are dedicating so much of your strength to getting through it that there’s very little left over for practical, everyday things.  We understand this when it comes to things like grieving a lost loved one or giving birth, but I think we can miss how intense adoption can be and how much we can help and support adoptive families.

Something another mother said hit me like a ton of bricks: “It can be very hard to ask for help when you need it, because there can be a feeling that ‘You got yourself into this’ so you aren’t allowed to say you’re struggling and ask for help.”  That statement just about bowled me over.

I’ve been learning a lot from these adoptive parents and I want to write about it, but it’s kind of intimidating, because 1) I haven’t adopted (yet!) so I can’t speak from experience, and 2) I recognize that everyone’s experience is different, and some things I write about might be dead-on for some adoptive parents and completely in left-field for others.

But…adoption and orphan care are things I care about, and that I firmly believe we as the Church are called and commanded to do.  So I think it’s good to think and dialogue about it, even if I don’t get everything right.  And secondly, my internship supervisor asked me to write about it.  So I don’t really have a choice.  ;)

At any rate, hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll be posting more thoughts, both what I’m hearing from adoptive parents and what I’m studying in the Word.  If you have adopted or fostered, feel free to comment with your thoughts and experiences!  And if you know someone who has adopted or fostered, why not see if you can drop off a meal and watch the kids for an evening (or whatever else they need!)?  : )

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June 25, 2012

Life Update

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , at 11:29 pm by Tamara

It may be hard to tell from the last few posts, but my life really isn’t a book (or a review of a book).  So I guess I should give a life update before I write the next two book reviews I have planned….

You’ve probably already guessed it, but we aren’t going to be going overseas this fall.  As I mentioned here, once we started the application process a bunch of reasons not to go suddenly popped up, and we were left trying to discern whether that was God speaking or just life being life or the enemy being the enemy.  We were concerned about the timing for several reasons, such as our desire to have more kids sometime in the next few years (and the possibility that I’d have to come back to the states if I needed another c-section), and the fact that we’d have to raise all our support in the summer, which is when I also needed to complete my internship for my degree.

Also, right when we were turning in our applications we found out that Adam’s mom’s cancer had started progressing faster than expected.  She was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia a while back, but told it would be ten years or so before she would feel any symptoms or need treatment.  Unfortunately, her check up showed it was progressing faster than they expected, and they said she would probably need to start chemo within the year.  I promised Mom I wouldn’t be dramatic when I wrote about this, but you can imagine how difficult it was for all of us to hear that!  She very much stressed to us that she wanted us to follow God wherever he was leading us, but it was definitely a new factor in our decision process.

So, we did a lot of praying and talking with people we trusted, and finally decided that we should wait at least a year before trying to go overseas.  Ironically, a few days after we decided that, the organization got back with us and told us that they didn’t think they had quite the right placement for us.  So that closed that door!

I had very mixed feelings about that.  My first reaction was to be very thankful that God had clearly closed the door and confirmed our decision to wait.  Unfortunately, other emotions followed quickly on my thankfulness’ heels!  Chief among them was a deep feeling of rejection.  “Why didn’t they want us?  What’s wrong with us?”  And that quickly transitioned into “Why doesn’t GOD want us?”  It’s baffling to me that God clearly calls us to “Go into all the world” and says “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” but then when we say “Here am I!  Send me!” he says…”No.”  What do you do with that?

So I had to take a few weeks to really wrestle with some things I believe in my head but had to come to grips with in my heart.  A big one was that God’s love for me has nothing to do with my usefulness to Him.  And that closing one door doesn’t mean He’s given up on me and doesn’t want me anymore.  That He loves me fiercely and unconditionally and considers me as valuable as His own Son, and that will never change.

Once I had some peace in my heart about that whole mess of emotions and lies and truth, it was pretty much back to my old reaction: “Alright, Lord, thank you for clearly closing that door.  But, now, where is your open door?  I’m very thankful for clear ‘No’s,’ but where is your ‘Yes?’”

And…you’ll have to wait for a future blog post about that, because we’re not exactly sure about the answer yet!  We are sure, though, that God doesn’t have us here for no reason.  We don’t want to just be here because we aren’t “there” (wherever there is); we believe God has a reason why we are HERE, NOW.  So we’re trying to be faithful with what’s on our plates right now and keep our eyes open for what God wants to do in and through us right now.  There are a couple things on our radar screens, but this is getting long, so I’ll save them for later.

Mom has had a couple of doctor’s appointments since then, and we’re very thankful that she’s found some fantastic doctors.  They are still thinking she’ll need to start chemo sometime before the end of the year, but say there are some positives about where her condition stands now, such as that she’s still considered stage one.  So we’re waiting, praying, and trusting God.  I’d really appreciate your prayers!!

Thanks for reading, caring, and praying for us!  I can tell you are.  : )

March 15, 2012

Vision and Questions for the Future

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by Tamara

“Let me explain–  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.”  (Name that movie!)

It’s a long story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of, but the summary is that Adam and I have been seriously praying about the possibility of going overseas for two years to do ministry.  We’ve sent in our applications so that we can talk with the organization, find out more about the opportunity, and go from there.  (Incidentally, the application is part of the reason for the lack of block posts lately: too much other writing for the application and school!)

Ever since we started the application process we’ve been blindsided by a bunch of reasons NOT to go.  We’re still processing them, trying to discern if any of them are God saying “Wait” or if they’re just life being life, or the enemy being the enemy, or what.  It’s exhausting and discouraging, but also a good lesson in trust and learning to listen to the Father.  We’re really in limbo so I can’t say what’s going to happen, but if I don’t at least mention it now and we do decide to go, you’ll all think it came out of thin air, so I’m mentioning it!

At any rate, that’s not the real point of this post, just the background.  Here’s the point: I get prayer updates from someone doing ministry in a dangerous part of the world, and they recently had some people visit the region to see about maybe coming to minister there.  This was in a recent update from my friend, and it just about made me cry, because I can so relate!  I can’t share my friend’s name, but they gave me permission to post this.  If you’re in the same boat, I hope it’s encouraging to you, too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Some call them vision trips. Others say they’re survey trips. Whatever the name, it’s all about breathing the air, walking the ground, and wondering if you could do it. Could you make this move? Could you live here, in this stranger than you’ve ever imagined place? It’s about putting your real self and your shimmering dreams before others you may have met only through email, if at all. It’s about listening to what’s said and what’s left unsaid. Its about pushing back the doubts and fears and straining to hear our Father’s voice.

“I am always awed at the courage of vision-trippers. It’s a journey of pure faith; flying face-forward into the abyss. It’s knowing that you’re called but wondering who, if anyone, will receive you. And if they do receive you, will they be glad for it? Will you find a home with the little band, the team you’ve agreed to join? Will you make good decisions? Do you really know who you are? Are you ready? And if you do come, will anyone back home support you? Will people really pray? Will they give? Will they remember you? Will it be enough? And who said you could do this, anyway? Who said you had anything to give? Why don’t you just stay home? Isn’t there enough work to be done there? And how could you take our grandchildren so far away? What about your career and your retirement – and a hundred other challenges?

“This is why I’m always awed at the faith of vision-trippers. These are folks who’ve started the journey. Who’ve stood up and bravely said; ‘I want to go.’  They have some partners who’ve said; ‘I believe in you.’ Who pray and give – who invest in the brave dream that’s not yet been fulfilled. They’ve completed applications and joined an organization. They’ve prayed their hearts out and started counting the cost. They’ve stepped headlong into a spiritual battle the likes of which they’ve never experienced before. The enemy rises up in rage. “Who do you think you are!?!” With weapons of doubt and fear, he would stop us in our tracks if God were not with us. This is why I love vision-trippers. I love their sheer courage and trembling faith. The next steps are clear; join a field-team, raise support and go. If you know any such people, cheer them on. Celebrate their journey. Enjoy the overflow of their faith.”

December 31, 2011

The Blog Liveth! As do we: in our parents’ basement! (Wait. What?!?)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:31 am by Tamara

What’s with the siren song tempting me to start every blog post with “Well”?!?  (Or, worse still, an apology for taking so long to post.)  Both options are about as exciting as watching grass grow.  I stop my ears, siren song of well/sorry!!

Anyway.

We’ve been in Colorado almost two months now, and life is still pretty up in the air.  We haven’t signed a lease on an apartment yet, mostly because Adam’s job situation is still in progress.  He’s been working two jobs, but we’re really hoping he can get one better paying job (and actually have time to do little things like, you know, sleep and eat).  He had a preliminary interview with a school bus company and they told him he has to do another interview in January, but if he passes the background check, etc, he’ll get hired.  That’s very good news, since they pay significantly better than his current job and he would have regular hours (YAY!) instead of never knowing what his schedule will be from week to week.  The only downside is that the training doesn’t start until February, and we won’t know until it ends in March whether he can get full time hours right away or only part time.  But, even if he’s only hired part time he’d make almost as much as he’s making full time at his job now, so we’re really praying it will work out!

At any rate, we’ve decided it’s best to wait and see what happens before we sign a lease.  The cost of living here is pretty high; we could afford a decent one bedroom off what Adam is making now, but we’d really prefer two.  He also could end up driving a route on the other side of town from where we are now, so we need to know that before we can decide on a location.  Or there’s always a small chance he wouldn’t get the job at all, so we don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch.  So many unknowns!  So, for the time being I am forcing myself to be patient and wait on God’s provision until we’re confident we’re making a wise decision.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing.  On the one hand, I am SO thankful that my parents are graciously letting us stay with them.  There’s a stereotypical horror story about staying with your parents, but our experience couldn’t be farther from that stereotype.  They’ve been gracious and encouraging and helpful and non-meddlesome, and have done their best to give us as much privacy as possible in a house that really wasn’t designed for two families.  I’m also thankful for a chance to pay off our moving expenses and save for a deposit on our apartment so we don’t have to take it out of our savings.

On the other hand, I still really, really miss having a place of our own to call home.  No matter how gracious your hosts are, living out of a suitcase in a room without four complete walls gets stressful.  I also get a lot of fulfillment from creating a homey home environment, and it’s discouraging to not have a place where I can do all the wife and mother things I enjoy so much.  I LOVED being a stay at home mom after Bear was born, and I just ache to have space where I can create order and beauty and functionality in our own little world with our own little routine.  And last but not least, no matter what the circumstances, telling people that you’re living with your parents never makes you feel like you’re doing especially well in life, so it’s a bit of a blow to my pride….

On a little side note here, I have to say how it still amazes me sometimes that I get so much joy and fulfillment out of being a stay at home mom.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I was afraid I would chaff a little–miss “ministry” and “stimulating conversation” and “freedom” and all that jazz.  It’s not that I love those things any less than before or am any less passionate about them, but I think it’s that motherhood has been so much more wonderful and awe-inspiring and fulfilling than I ever dreamed possible.  There’s probably a whole other blog post in this topic, though, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Anyway.

I suppose I’m learning (or at least wrestling with) a lot: blessings, thankfulness, perspective, patience, humility, etc.  There was a picture that was all over Facebook this Christmas that put things in perspective:

I have to remind myself to mentally replace the right side of the picture with my “stresses” lately, whether that’s a picture of a home, new clothes, a computer that works better, or whatever.  It seems obvious, for example, that we “need” a two bedroom apartment, until I think of the thousands of families living in one room shacks or on the streets or running for their lives from war zones and genocide.  And I could make similar comparisons with all my issue right now.  I am definitely blessed.

So, all that to say, not much has changed, except (hopefully) some of my mindsets and attitudes.  I could probably get this tattooed on my forehead:  Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

November 14, 2011

Beautiful Things Out of Dust (A-la-carte life update)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:28 am by Tamara

For those of you wondering if we fell off the face of the earth, the answer is yes.  Thankfully, (after a stop in Wisconsin) we landed in Colorado.  Whoo hoo!  I’m pretty sure my stress level was supposed to decrease after the move was over, but that has not been the case.  I’m not sure if it’s really exploded or if it’s just cumulative stress of the past six months, but I’m kind of freaking out about life.

We haven’t found an apartment yet, mostly because we’re trying to figure out exactly what our income is going to be.  Adam’s looking for a second job, and possibly a different first job.  We’re also, believe it or not, considering the possibility of (gulp) taking the leap into full time ministry, which would (gulp) require raising support.  Anyway, I feel kind of suspended in the air with no place to land.  I’ve heard husbands freak out without a job; I think wives freak out without a home.

School wise, I’m taking a rather difficult philosophy course right now.  I’m pretty sure that times in life where one is emotionally and mentally depleted are NOT good times to take challenging, thought-provoking philosophy courses.   It is definitely adding to my stress level.

As for NaNoWriMo…sigh.  I’ve managed to keep at it so far, in spite of great adversity (the day it began was the day we started driving to Colorado, so I wrote the day’s word quota that night in a dark hotel room with a husband, two dogs, and a crying baby in the background, in spite of a dead computer, a broken desk chair, and a semi-truck rumbling outside the window.  That’s dedication).  Unfortunately, I feel like I’m drowning in life right now, and the stress is brutally draining the life blood out of my creativity.  I’m not sure if I’m going to make it this year or not.  We’ll see.

The upside of life right now is wonderful, adorable Bear.  He just turned seven months old.  I can’t believe it!  Where has the time gone?  He has been an absolute angel through all the chaos of the past month.  He had his first cold while we were visiting Wisconsin (so traumatizing!  He didn’t like it much, either), and just got his first tooth a week ago (my baby is growing up too fast!!)  I can’t believe how sweet he was during the trip in spite of a cold, cutting a tooth, meeting a ton of new people, and having his entire life turned upside down.  He’s really been amazing.  He’s getting much more comfortable and confident meeting new people and being in new situations.  We LOVED getting to see family and friends in Wisconsin on the way here, and finally introducing them to Little Bear.

So, all that to say…I don’t know.  Adam and Bear are my parachutes in life right now.  I feel like I’m just hanging onto them as we fall through the air to land…who knows where.  But, as long as they’re wherever we end up, I’m sure it will be okay.  God has always come through for us in the past; I think maybe all this stress and uncertainty is a chance to put into practice what we’ve learned about Him in the past when He’s come through in fast, glorious ways that far exceeded our expectations.  Things don’t seem to be falling into place very well right now, but the story’s not over, and God hasn’t changed.  I have two mantras lately.  1) “Stress is pressure incorrectly handled,” and 2) this song:

September 22, 2011

Ignoring Conventional Wisdom on Having Kids=Best Decision We’ve Ever Made

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:57 pm by Tamara

Bear, Five Months Old

I’ve been thinking tonight about what an incredible proof Bear is that God knows what He’s talking about and wants good things for us.  When we decided to try to get pregnant, there were plenty of reasons people could have said we were nuts.  The common “wisdom” on starting a family is that you need to a) be finished with school, established in your career(s), and financially secure, and b) have done everything fun that you want to do, because kids are going to tie you down and could destroy your dreams.  We decided to say bah humbug to conventional wisdom, mostly because the Bible is so chock full of statements about how kids are a blessing and a joy.

For example: Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward!  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!  Psalm 128:1-4  How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways…your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.  Behold, for this is how the man who fears the LORD will be blessed!

If God, the one who created all the incredible things that make me happy (like chocolate, colors, the ocean, back rubs, my husband!) says something is a blessing, then I would like to experience it!  We also trusted that if God instructs us to raise godly children, He’ll give us the financial and emotional resources to do so.

Zooming Around on Daddy’s Shoulders

Tonight I was doing homework and my husband put Bear in his PJs and then was jogging around the living room with Bear on his shoulders.  The sight of our little baby in footy teddy bear pajamas, grinning from ear to ear as he clutched fistfuls of Adam’s hair and “drove” his daddy around the room was too adorable for words.  They stopped by the table where I was working and Bear gave me a squeal and a huge smile before they zoomed off again.  My heart just melted.  I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am with our little family.  My husband and Bear have brought me so much joy—infinitely more than I can ever imagine getting from the things we gave up to have him.

Certainly, it’s hard too.  And there’s no guarantee that parenting won’t involve heartbreak (in fact, it probably will at some point).  I have friends who have experienced terrible heartache, whether in raising their kids or in trying to have kids.  My heart bleeds for them, and I don’t understand the unfairness of it.  I don’t understand why good parents have children who rebel, or why evil people harm their children while wonderful couples have no children.  Amazingly, most of my friends who have experienced this have still told me that God has brought good things even out of their pain.  In fact, witnessing firsthand the pain of our friends who wanted kids and were struggling to have them really drove home to my husband and I that kids are a blessing we shouldn’t take lightly or make a low priority.

Melts My Heart!

When I look at Bear, there just aren’t words to describe how fiercely I love him, or how fulfilled and joyful he makes me.  And tonight it hit me again: God is right.  He is really, really, right.  He knows what He’s talking about.  Bear will always be a great reminder to trust God when I’m faced with things that God says but I don’t think make sense.  I SO wanted to have a baby, but it was still a leap of faith for us, one we made because we trusted (and still trust) that God knows what’s best for us, knows how to give us REAL blessings, and will take care of us.  God has provided for and blessed us more than I could ever have imagined, and He always will.   I am SO thankful, and so blessed!!

September 16, 2011

Go West, Young Family!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 10:15 pm by Tamara

I’ve put off writing this for three reasons: 1) I can’t think of a clever/exciting/funny way to say it, 2) It’s hard to hold a baby and type with one hand (as I’m doing now), and 3) I’m afraid as soon as I post it something will change.  But oh well.  So, guess what?  We’re moving to Colorado!!

I wrote here about some of the reasons we started thinking about moving, and we’ve decided we’re going to move.  It’s taking all my self-control not to add an “I think” or “Hopefully” after that pronouncement because there are so many details still up in the air.  And then there’s always this: Proverbs 16:9  “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  And then there’s the fact that I get a little weepy every time I think about leaving our beautiful home!  But that’s the downside.  The upside(s):

Grandparents, aunts, and uncles!  Rean’s spectacular adorableness just shouldn’t go un-admired.  There have been countless times I’ve ached to have them here for some new milestone or cute antic of his.  Also, can you say…”date night?”  Because I can, once I add “babysitting” to the end of it!  I am so excited Rean will get to know his extended family.  I only wish the Wisconsin side of the family would be there, too.  L

I’m also excited that some of my high school friends seem to also be migrating back to Colorado.  It will be so fun to get reacquainted with them!

I think the seminary will be just what Adam wants.  It sounds like the professors and academic record are just stellar, so I’m excited.

And in case that’s not enough upsides…did you notice what state I said?  COLORADO!  Rocky Mountains!  Need I really say more?

The deciding factor was that earlier this week Adam was offered a transfer with his job.  Thank you, Lord!  After two months of frustration that I won’t elaborate on because it still raises my hackles, he was finally able to talk to the right people, which quickly resulted in a glowing letter of recommendation for him, two phone interviews, and a “When can you start?”  We’re still working on the answer to that question, but we’re hoping within the next 1-2 months.

It definitely doesn’t seem real yet—I don’t think it will until we’re driving away.  Now we have to pray our house will sell, which is kind of a discouraging topic since a) The two years we’ve been here clearly fall short of the 5-10 years we thought we’d be here when it was bought and b) Have I mentioned I love our house??  But, God is providing so far (the provision of the house in the first place was rather miraculous), so I’m praying for another miracle.  I wouldn’t mind your prayers on that front, either!

I’ll try to keep updating as we get the details worked out…but for now: Colorado, here we come!

This will soon be my view when driving around town. Aaaaaahhh! So lovely!

August 31, 2011

Decision Making

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:45 pm by Tamara

Well, we’ve decided we want to move to Colorado!  (I wrote here about the reasons we were thinking about it, in case you missed it.)  Unfortunately, wanting to move and moving are two very different things.  We have been waiting for weeks for Adam’s job to tell him if he can transfer, and haven’t heard a thing.  Every time we ask they just say they’ll call person X, Y, or Z and see what’s going on.  I am getting really, REALLY frustrated.  He’s applied for some bus driving jobs, but they won’t consider his application until he has a Colorado driver’s license.  There are a lot of openings and he’s qualified for them, so we could just move and hope he gets hired, but that sends my warning lights screaming dire predictions about ending up broke and living in our parents’ basement for the next five years.  Yikes!  So yeah.

We were also having trouble for a while getting our questions answered by the school.  They weren’t answering calls or e-mails, which was weird and stressful.  Then there was a mix up when we were trying to contact the realtor…etc etc.   Pretty much as soon as we made the decision to move, everything ground to a halt.  It’s been quite the contrast to our move here, where the doors just flew open.  I confess it’s made me wonder AGAIN “Are we doing the right thing??”

At first I was praying “Lord, if this is your will, please open the doors.”  Which sounds good enough, but the more I think about it, I don’t know that it’s the best way to make decisions. Biblically speaking, easiness isn’t really the hallmark of God’s direction.  Paul said once that “a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8).  So apparently there can be a “wide door” and difficulties at the same time.  On the other hand, there’s Jonah who could easily have said “Oh look!  God provided a ship for Tarshish!  And He provided the money for me to buy my ticket!  It must be his will!”  And clearly that was the exact opposite of God’s command.

I’m not saying we aren’t praying for God to provide the things we need to follow Him.  But I am rethinking my “open doors” guidance thoughts.  I confess I’m discouraged, but realizing that facing some roadblocks or speed bumps shouldn’t make me give up or automatically decide we’re “out of God’s will.”  We’re still pressing forward, while at the same time carefully listening in case God wants to tell us to do something else.  All our reasons for going still seem wise and it doesn’t violate any moral command, so we’re going to keep trying.  I would really appreciate prayer for wisdom and, yes, that (unless He has some reason He doesn’t want us to go that He hasn’t told us yet) that God will provide the things we’ll need to make it work.

This seems appropriate to insert here:

July 19, 2011

My First “Worst Mother in the World” Moment

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:08 pm by Tamara

I had my first “I am the worst mother in the world” moment while we were in Colorado.  Adam could only get a few days off, so I flew out with Rean several days before him.  Of course, before a wedding everything is craziness!  There was a lot to get done, but Rean still needed his mommy.  I ended up feeling guilty because I wasn’t helping as much as I wanted to, and guilty that I couldn’t get to Rean as fast as he was used to me being there for him.

Well, by the time we got to the reception, poor baby was just overwhelmed by everything.  I’d barely held him all day, which I think left him feeling discombobulated and upset.  Adam and I had gotten lost driving to the reception and showed up late (well done, maid of honor) so I was upset about that.  Berean really needed to eat, but he wouldn’t take his bottle and it’s not so easy to nurse in a bridesmaid’s dress in the middle of a reception.  I felt so stressed and so torn trying to divide my attention between his needs and everything else that needed to get done and people that I needed to say hi to.  I finally found a back room where Adam could guard the door, and Rean ate and fell asleep like the sweet baby he is.

And then my bad-mommy-ness really began.   It was the end of the night, Adam wanted to dance, and Rean was asleep in his car seat, so I asked someone if they’d keep an eye on Rean while we danced.  We danced one song, and then it was time to send off the bride and groom.  There were supposed to be candles to pass out, but it hadn’t been done yet, so Adam and I ran over to try and help.  Everyone got their candles lit and we went outside to light the path as the bride and groom left for their honeymoon.  After they were gone I came back inside to collect candles and hug goodbye to the people I hadn’t seen in years and barely spoken to the whole night.

And then…I realized it.  I had left Berean inside.  Alone.  While all the rest of us were outside, Rean was sitting in his car seat, right next to the back door, with no one watching him.  And not only had I left him, I hadn’t even THOUGHT about him before I’d gone outside.  And not only that, but I didn’t even realize I’d left him until my Dad realized we’d left him and said something.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sick with horror and fear at a mistake.  It would have been SO easy for someone to grab him, car seat and all, and slip out the back door.  One of the catering staff even came by once I was back by Rean and commented how surprised she was to see a baby all alone in the room (translation: “What kind of a mother are you??”)

Well, that was about it for me.  I was exhausted and feeling sick thinking about what could have happened and furious at myself and just wanted to grab my baby and sit down and cry.  I already had been feeling guilty for days for neglecting him, and this was about as neglectful as you can get.  I can’t think of a much worse thing you can do as a mother than put your child in danger.  Everyone else was cleaning up, but I moved Rean into a corner and just crouched down next to him and watched him sleep.  I’d been putting him down all week to do other things, and I was done!

On the drive home I insisted on sitting in the back seat next to him, and I spent the whole drive down the mountain verbally flogging myself to Adam.  How is it that I can feel a compulsive need to check every five minutes and make sure he’s breathing, but I can completely forget about him and leave him all alone?  Being so scared about “what could have happened” suddenly made me see with perfect clarity what I should have understood the moment Berean was born: God has made this little baby my number one responsibility right now, and it’s perfectly okay to sacrifice other things so that I can take care of him.

Adam agreed with me that it’s really hard to switch our mentality to that.  We’re both used to the idea that you’re supposed to find ways to help and be useful, not just sit in the corner.  But now, God has entrusted us with a little life, a little soul.  And right now, more than he ever will, Rean needs his mommy.  Adam and Berean are more important to me than anything else, and it’s okay for me to act like it.  If people are annoyed that I’m sitting in a corner holding my baby, does it really matter?  (And I honestly think everyone there understood, anyway.)  I believe God has called me to take care of Rean, and now it’s up to me to do whatever I feel like I need to do to care for him.  I’m not saying this means I won’t do anything but be a mommy, but I am passionate about taking care of him, and that means I have to say no to anything that I feel will keep me from doing that.

I know this is only going to get harder as Berean gets older, especially if Adam and I go into full time ministry.  There will be a million good things we could spend our time and energy on, and undoubtedly people who will criticize us for not doing what they think we should.  I’m a people-pleaser, and I’m also prideful.  I want people’s approval.  But more than that, I want to take care of the most precious gift God has ever given me: my family.  And I strongly believe that family is ministry, and that I have no right to mentor other people if I’m not mentoring the child(ren) God has entrusted me with.  I am going to have to learn to say “No” to the good so I can say “Yes” to the most important.

Something else became crystal clear that I should have already gotten: even with all my best efforts, ultimately God will have to take care of Berean.  By His grace, nothing happened.  And it’s only by His grace that my sweet baby is still breathing when I check on him for the twentieth time every night.  I’m going to do everything I can to protect and nurture this little boy, but ultimately he is in God’s hands.  And, ultimately, he couldn’t be in a better place.

June 23, 2011

Baby Dramatics

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 11:46 pm by Tamara

Look out! It's the bottom lip!

Rean is really a pretty easy-going baby.  He’s not much of a crier; we usually wake up to a polite “Uh, uh, uh!” rather than full-blown screams when he’s ready to eat.  Every once in a while, though, for some reason I can’t get to him quite as quickly as he thinks I should, and he’ll start to wail like he’s sure he’s going to starve at any second.  “Help!  Help!  Starving baby!  I can’t remember when it’s been so long since I’ve eaten!  Help!  WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE BABY?!?  Aaaaah!”

He’s so dramatic that I have to laugh a little, and I always think, “Aw, c’mon, Baby–when have I ever let you starve before?  You don’t have to worry–I’m not going to let you starve now, either!  I promise!  Why all the wailing?  I love you-you can trust me!”  I just have to chuckle when I do pick him up and he nurses frantically for a few minutes before falling into a blissfully satisfied milk-coma.  Sweet, silly baby!

Every time this happens, though, I’m reminded how I do the exact. same. thing. to God.  Finances are at the moment, shall we say, tight.  In fact, I don’t remember a period in our marriage (or my adult life, actually!) when they haven’t been.  Every couple months I have a mini panic attack when I look at bills or think about upcoming expenses.  C-sections, for example, are not cheap!  And I start to uh-uh-uh hyperventilate a little, and if the pressure isn’t quickly relieved, my first tendency is to start wailing “Hello?  God?  God, heeeeeelp!  Are you paying attention??  We’re not going to make it!!  Aaaaaah!”  And I have a mental picture of God quirking an eyebrow at me with a little bemused smile at my dramatics and saying “Aw, c’mon, Tamara–when have I ever let you starve before?  You don’t have to worry–I’m not going to let you starve now, either!  I promise!  Why all the wailing?  I love you–you can trust me!”

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