When Advent Arrived

Brad's wallet had been missing for almost a week.  With all of the feeding, working, diaper changing, toddler rearing, and family gatherings, we'd hardly had time to give looking a good focused effort.  We were sharing a debit card, and trying to rack our brain for days about where the wallet could be.  After exhausting all of the typical locations, Brad began to tear the house apart and check every nook and cranny for clues to the the wallet's whereabouts.  No luck.  It was time to move on to the next phase of searching...retracing his steps and calling any place where he might have left it.  A phone call to Fazoli's, the library, and the police station left us with no other option than to declare it officially, lost.

Finally, when it seemed like there was no stone unturned and no step untraced, Brad knelt down with Lewis to do what probably should have been done from the beginning...together they prayed and asked God to please reveal where the wallet was or for some confirmation that it was truly lost.  The next moment, when he and Lewis finished the short prayer, Brad opened his eyes from the prayer only to look over at a nearby car seat and see his wallet sitting right there.

When Brad called to tell me what had happened, I was pulling into the mall parking lot on one of the last shopping Saturdays before Christmas.  Crazy?  Maybe...but this was the first time I had been out of the house for more than a few minutes in almost six weeks.  I was on cloud nine to have an hour and fifteen minutes where I wasn't running urgent errands, and wasn't worrying about pumping or needing to feed a crying baby.  Brad face-timed me (we are new at the iphone thing) so I picked up.  Note: face time and driving do not mix - don't try it.  As I was juggling watching both the parking lot and the video on my phone, I picked up an image of Lewis standing there playing with Brad's wallet while Brad praised God and shared the incredible story of answered prayer.

I walked through the mall and wasn't even frustrated that there were so many people, lines, and craziness.  Tears were welling in my eyes because for the first time in so long, I felt that God was near.  My hour and fifteen minutes felt like three hours...I found a cute sweater, picked up some bigger pajamas for Lewis, and finished some Christmas shopping.  I grabbed dinner without waiting in any lines and even swiped a movie from Redbox for Brad and I to watch later.  It was so refreshing.

Driving home I uttered a silent, "thank you" to God in my heart for the events of that afternoon.

This advent season has been full of my trying...
trying to be strong while my babies were in the NICU
trying to get through the day without having a bad attitude amidst sleep deprivation and hormones
trying to be a good parent to Lewis
trying to remember that I'm also a wife to a husband who needs my love and attention
trying to stop eating so many sweets when I'm worn down and feeling hungry
trying to not stress out about things like sleeping and milk supply
trying to be obedient to God...a God I haven't talked to very much lately.

And I felt truly grateful...that the gospel, the reason that Jesus came down to earth was to save me from my trying.  He is faithful and pursues me even when I'm not faithful and I don't pursue him.  Because He took all of the punishment for my sin in my place, I don't have to worry that God is angry with me when I'm out of fellowship with him.  He is holding on to me and is near, even when I am far.

As I sang Christmas carols to Lewis before bed that night, for the first time this advent season, I sang them IN WORSHIP about a real Jesus who really came, really lived, really died, really rose again and really saved.

"Then let us all with one accord,
sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
and with His blood mankind has bought."

Dear Second-time Mom, here are some things to remember...

[photo snapped a couple of weeks ago in the NICU]
Dear Emily,

It's your second time to do this "mom" thing, and although you've been through this before, there are a few things in particular that are worth remembering during this season...

Currently, you feel like you've been hit by a freight train.  Praise the Lord for hormones and adrenaline, because it's the only thing keeping you running between feedings and short two hour stretches of sleep. I know it's hard.  These may be the most difficult weeks of the whole first year but know they will come to an end.  Hang on and believe that a full-night's sleep IS in your future.  Not only will you sleep through the night, but you will again go to the shopping mall, the coffee shop, and the grocery store without meticulously planning around feedings.  You will go on dates with your husband, and feel like a normal person soon.

Speaking of being "normal", your stomach looks less than normal, in fact, you still look pregnant.  This is distressing, because you were fairly confident that slipping into something that isn't labeled "maternity" was going to happen soon.  You're still wearing those maternity jeans and hanging around in oversized sweatshirts that hide your belly, and it's okay.  Even though you came back from the hospital significantly lighter, it will take months to lose the rest of the weight.  This will be a difficult task because producing breast milk will make you just as hungry as you were in your third trimester.  Hang in there, try to eat healthy, and when you feel up to it, start exercising again.  With a little bit of patience, your old jeans have hope of making it back into your closet.

Although the infant stage takes a lot from you physically, there are rewards too (and you know exactly what I'm referring to).  In the midst of sleepless nights and a flabby belly, you get to hold a miracle in your arms and it's wonderful.  There is nothing like cuddling your very own bundle of joy and being intricately involved with the details of a little person's life.  Your nurturing instincts are kicking into high gear right now...this might feel like crazy person hormones sometimes though, so make sure that you remember to be reasonable.  When you feel super crabby and start snapping at people (especially your husband), excuse yourself and take a nap.

Incase you are too tired and delirious to remember at the moment, I will let you know that this stage goes by so quickly.  One minute you are rocking a swaddled infant to sleep, and the next you are locking your cabinets and chasing a toddler around the house.  Your baby will grow up.  It happens so fast.

Each little season will hold different treasures and different challenges.  Embrace them.  Don't always wish you were on to the next thing, assuming it's easier.  In some ways it will be, and in other ways you will wish you had an immobile little infant again (even with the added crying).  Be content where your child is right now, and soak up every minute.

Eventually you will forget what it felt like to be pregnant.  The memories of nausea and aching hips will wear off.  You will feel like yourself.  Eventually you will forget what it felt like to labor all day and deliver.  Eventually you will look back on those first 12 weeks and have blurry memories of how you got through it.  It won't seem that bad, and it will feel totally worth it.

Second-time mommy, hang in there...this too shall pass.

Your less-sleep deprived self
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