Still Learning to Be Still

Special needs momming is a full time job, and the business model is super complicated.  I spent Tuesday at the psychologist with Ruckus, working on a round of updated evaluations. Wednesday I was in Atlanta again, from dawn to dusk for Mozart’s day with his health team. It was planned and well prepared for. The other four children had their needs well met in my absence.

Yet my little Cricket, whose sensitive heart struggles with anxiety and trust after losing his first family, woke today with a deep need for constant connection with me. And by that, I mean I spent my morning as a piece of furniture.

We spent much time snuggling, and watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on Amazon Prime.

I set aside my mental to-do list to let him have his time, and be present.  That’s a hard thing to do when tasks snowball and the weekend is coming with no free time to squeeze the laundry into.
I help him. We colored, snuggled, watched Mr. Rogers and Highway to Heaven, both in one day!! His joy was immense, and I loved it!

Still, that  epic battle of “to Martha or to Mary” battled in the back of my head.
Because I still can’t get the knack of  how to be still and know.

 

We have the opportunity for love and therapy with many animals. Cricket and I took advantage of a few minutes with a horse today.

Now it’s after his bedtime. I have that mile long to-do list and a decision to make. 

Be.
Still.
Know.

How much I know depends on the day and a thousand variables reliant on the actions and choices of several other people, both in and outside of my home and family.

What I KNOW is that this is complicated.

There are the days that my inner Martha spits the words back. Be STILL? When? How? Have you not seen? Even my to-do list has it’s OWN to-do lists.  Have you not heard? There are people calling Mama in rapid succession from 5 different directions. How then, do I fit in being still?

Yet there are the times that a Mary spirit wells up within me. I kick off my shoes to ground myself on the earth He’s given and I throw agenda to the side, to watch children fly away with their imaginations and meld into the wonder of the life around me. We breath in fresh air and run in fields. We know how to BE.

I can never decide if this verse is meant to be a deep call to intimacy with my Maker, or a chastising of my flesh for being so easily consumed by what I have to do, seeing that I really do HAVE to do a huge amount of doing!

If asked, I could never decide who it’s for, my Martha or Mary, and I have finally decided it comes down to the day I’m having, every day.

And this is why.

We, the lovers of Christ, have a habit of remembering verses in small tidbits.  We like small bites because then we can say that we ate today.
I’m learning to take the time to look them up and enjoy the pages of my Bible in fuller context.
Decision made. Those words have run through my head all day. Be. Still. Know.
I’m looking up the chapter.

Ladies…. this “be still and know” one is nestled smack in the middle of Psalm 46, and the rest of it is FULL of context that we all need.

Just look for yourself (below)! That little verse that has vexed me is so much better when I stand back and see it as part of this full work God inspired.

He is ever-present.
God is within her, she will not fall.
He makes wars cease.

He writes of refuge and fortresses, I think of hiding in the laundry room, folding, but also of blanket forts and reading nooks.  The word mountain always conjures up laundry to me, however the streams and rivers call to mind his great wisdom in creating the coffee and the constant flow here in my kitchen.  And also, chocolate.  He lifts is voice? Did someone turn on The Fish radio station again?

The last two years I’ve been mostly gone from the internet publicly. My family needed safety and seclusion (for details on that, read THIS PREFACE and sign up for the list. So while, I can joke about the mom thoughts and snark this chapter brings up, my heart hears the promises it holds. Promise of protection and God’s faithfulness. We have been cocooned in tightly. Now it’s time to spread wings again.

After all this time, I know. It’s for all the days. Every one of them whether I feel the depth of stillness welling within my soul, or I’m grappling with stilling my struggle with self.

It’s there, every day.
He has us.
He is with us, we will not fall.
The least I can do is listen.
I can BE.
I can STILL.
I can KNOW.

It’s more than the verse.
He gives us whole chapters, my friends.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

 

The Knock That Shook Our World

 

We thought it was an Amazon Delivery, of all things.

I had just returned home from a long needed night out with a good friend, a fellow mom of many.  My daughter and I bounded to the door, excited to see which of us got to open whatever it was.

My mom-friend-date had been fantastic. We ate, we laughed, we shared our prayers, our joys and struggles. We felt renewed and strengthened by our time together. We relaxed and enjoyed our truth.

We celebrated.

It had been a mere thirty-four hours since I sat in a courtroom and heard the judge’s decision.  The parental rights of the boys’ biological family were officially terminated, and they were legally made orphans by the court. The judge looked across the courtroom at me and, in front of all involved, declared us their pre-adoptive home. He said it out loud. It was real.

I walked alone to my car.  Feelings of joy and love flooded me, while the aching, writhing pain for the loss that was involved still gripped at my heart. Yes, we gained sons. But the hope of another family just died in there, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, but it happened all the same. All hope for them is gone.

I hadn’t expected to cry. We had known for months that the case was headed this way. We all knew this was the day.  But the moment I buckled myself in and stopped to exhale in the seclusion of my car, the rolling waves of reality tumbled to the forefront and took over.   I sobbed and wailed, emotions filled the air to a bursting level that no physical body could contain and stay poised and composed. Certainly not mine, anyway.  

I wrecked myself, right there in the parking lot.  

Actual photo I sent my husband. From the parking lot after the TPR hearing.

They will be our sons! But they lost their first mom forever, today. They will take our name! They will lose the one they have known.  They will always be brothers and sisters with ours! They may never know those who share their blood.
These are not small things. If they are now my sons, I am the mom who will have to walk through the future with them, and the struggle with these things will come. I can not protect them from  it. I cannot undo their loss. There is no escaping or pretending that they didn’t lose as much as they won today.


For thirty-four hours there was joy and hope and rest. 

Fourteen months we had supported any plan of reunification with biological family, unwaveringly. We prayed and hoped for the best of God’s plan and submitted to it fully, knowing that the loss of them in our lives may come. I never considered that as pressure. I was never afraid.  But when that focus was lifted and we were now given the right to focus on them being ours, I felt like a new mom.

It’s hard to explain how the release of it overcame me. Consider this. We had parented these boys with as much love as any DNA could have offered, from day one. We never made a distinction in our care for them, other than to doggedly offer love and support to their first family as well.  But to be told that, after 408 days of parenting them as someone else’s children, we would now parent them as our own. It was a slight shift, made in a few sentences and the short sound of a gavel’s fall.
Huge breath.
Huge change.


The future stretched before us with immeasurable possibilities. It felt as exhilarating and joyous as the first day of life with each of our biological children, just as powerful. It was a glorious, staggering reality.

For thirty-four hours.

The following night I went out with a fellow warrior-mom, as I said. I came home to the younger children in bed and my husband and teenager in a deep discussion on the couch. A home of peace and calm. All was well. The sound of the dishwasher running was so soothing. I remember that.

Our actual kitchen. I can hear the dishwash running, just looking at it.

I sat down to join them, in the depths of debate. There was a plate of cookies.  It was about 10pm.

It wasn’t Amazon at the door.

To be continued.

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Raise Your Hand, If Your Hands Are Full – For Moms of Many

 

It happened for the 4,356,837 time today.  As my four (not 10, not 21, just four) children and I stood in the checkout line at Walmart with their new flip flops in cart, someone behind me decided to say it.

“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”

We moms typically don’t know whether this is a compliment or not when you hear it. Until you see the body language and facial expression that accompany the much over-used line, you are immediately put on guard.  We don’t have time to evaluate you. We are with our children.

I turn and look to see a nice thin, tall hippy/earthy looking woman in her fifties who has the look of being happily single her whole life and terrified of kids.  She was scowling.
Yes, I looked. No ring.
Only a look of horror on her face as she took in the view of my little brood, looking down her nose with lips pursed tight.
She surely has cats. Lots of ’em.

I put on a smile, so as not to scare her, and rattle of my well-rehearsed standard response. God calls us to be kind, especially to strangers.

“Well, better than empty. At least they’re full of life!”  

Don sweetest smile.
Turn back around to my kids.

It was then,
THEN…

“I just can’t even imagine… WHAT possessed you??”

Yes…she did.  I couldn’t make that up.
She said possessed.

I took a deep breath to reel in my inner Madea.  I know the hair standing on my neck had to show, and the raising of my right eyebrow couldn’t be helped.
I turned again, using my happiest sarcastic voice…

“What possessed me? As in…demons?

Do my kids look like the product of demon possession to you?
As for possession, these four are the most amazing people in my life and worth more than any other  POSSESSIONS that I have.
No demons involved in that.
I actually have REALLY good sex with my husband. And often.
Thanks for asking such an interesting question. That’s a first for me.”

She started to sputter, almost choked even, disclosing her experience with her brother having 5 boys and it just looked like so much work, and she didn’t  personally understand “the draw”, but she was sorry.….Oh, goodness.

I looked back one more time.

“It’s really fine. Have a great day.”

And then as it was my turn to check out, and all four were working together to unload the cart very nicely, the poor cashier smiles at me… and says…

“You sure have your hands full!”

Oh. Lord. Help…
Poor innocent, unaware, little Walmart employee.

I put the smile back up.
“Ya know, EVERYONE has their hands full.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
It’s up to you what you choose to fill them with. I choose THEM, every single day.”

She thought it was sweet. I didn’t look back at kid-free-scowler, but I’m sure she had some sort of interesting response.
I DID hear the couple behind her giggle, for the second time.

So in defense of our full hands, moms, let us all remember that not having them would only give us empty hands to fill.

 Maybe with a life consuming career.   Look up the definition of consumption, will ya? I don’t want life consumed, although I know those who love theirs.

How about 700 cats like this lady. Maybe just one or two cats? Or how about be a lover of dogs so you can  approach a mother at Piedmont Park  walking her adorable baby in a stroller, with the dog along, and fawn over the K9 while ignoring that there is an adorable little person right there that is actually more valuable. Oh wait, because they aren’t as important to you.
And we have pets. Well loved pets. It’s the section of the childless crowd that values their pet over small PEOPLE that get to me.

Ladies, we could be making bank. Empty hands-not-full could mean fistfuls of money!! If each of our spawn didn’t cost $5,439,345 to raise like all the websites say.  We are REALLY missing out on that cha-ching.

You really don’t want to get me started on possession and the American need to fill our lives with stuff instead of… LIVES.  Possessions, over people. Because if we had more, we’d never be able to take them aaaallll to Disney!?!?

You could just have empty arms without them, and fill them with whatever man you want.  History has shown that does not lead to the most FULL-filling lifestyle.

And, mothers, let us never EVER forget the women who have empty arms not by choice. Who ache to hold the hope and warmth of a unique and precious immortal soul in the shape of a child who calls her Mom.

A disdainful comment of  “You sure have your hands full.” is a downright attack on them, the moms who are moms but hands are not full. Those who would give anything and everything they can get their hands on, to fill their arms with the life and chaos we experience every day in our children.

So, rock your full hands, mamas!

Look at them in wonder and awe… see their strength and value.

And I encourage you to come up with a really great response. Memorize it, know it, and own it. Be prepared for the 1,000,001 of times it will be said to you if you have more than the standard two children.

 Because until our society values these small people over possession, OUR choice to fill our arms this wide and full will be critiqued and commented on, shocking this  possession obsessed culture day in and day out. 

For extra evidence to defend my point, here are my parents, with all 10 of us children, 8 children-in-law, and over 20 grandchildren (2 more on the way!). Do they look like they need pity?  They made huge sacrifices for us.  And I am so, so thankful for it every day.

THIS right here is what blessed looks like. Don’t ever doubt that.

To be fair, I have a career, I love our pets and I absolutely enjoy extra money and shopping.

It’s valuing these possessions over children, when they’re not even your own, that makes fire spew from my ears. There has always been a small portion of the population who disdain children, but it’s growing, my friends. Our children need to hear us respond in confidence, valuing who they are.

Comment with your favorite response to the remark, “You sure have your hands full.”  I could use some fresh ideas myself.
UPDATE: After being asked a few times today why the statement “You have your hands full!” is offensive, I spent some time thinking about it and wrote a follow up.

Raise BOTH Hands if Your Hands Are Full- 7 Reasons the statement offends

 Reblogged from my other blog, Your Momstinct.

When God’s Timing Turns Me Into a Five Year Old, Because Patience Isn’t My Thing

I was not sure if more than five people would read that last post. For someone who hasn’t read what I have put out over the past, I am aware that it doesn’t make sense.  That it may not seem like a big deal or need to be said. For me, it did.
Also, I felt strange and awkward all day like someone who passes gas in a room full of people and then has the audacity to raise their hand and claim it.
Yeah. I did that.
Then they stand there bashfully waiting to see who will gawk and head out the door and who will give the high-fives.

So, if you are reading.  ((high-five)).

I meant to write that blog post months ago. In fact, we had a plan for me to stop taking births last December and prepare for adding foster children to our home.  In the plan was freedom and time to write again. I stopped taking births, for the most part, but then life happened and after all these years of waiting and preparing….

Children didn’t happen last winter.

It wasn’t God’s timing, even if we had planned it with Him in mind, which we did. It wasn’t going to happen on our timeline.

What stinks is everyone and their sister’s best friend and cousin asking how things are going. No, it doesn’t bother me that they ask. It’s being told one more time,

It’s ok, honey… All in God’s timing…
1926658_10151991917923263_1729479179_nIt feels so dismissive, doesn’t it? There is nothing left to say once someone has played the “God’s Timing Card”. As if nothing else matters and nothing else can change this.

That’s because nothing else does and… we can’t change this. We really can’t.

These are not the words I’ve wanted to hear.  In the past I must admit that I have felt good about my ability to adapt to this “God’s Timing” business.  I have practice. Patience may not come naturally to me but I’ve had serious learning sessions.

I tried to marry a guy at nineteen. We had our future planned. I didn’t marry him until we had two years apart, not even knowing if we would speak again. We were married at twenty-three. He still is everything I needed. No way did I understand what I thought I did when we were younger.  The timing was better than mine.

I tried to have a natural birth once, twice, even an third and fourth time.  That first baby was breech with her feet down and would not budge. The second time all was well and only VBAC was discussed, until a car accident that injured my back. Permanently. That next time I was pregnant for almost forty-three weeks.  My last, I labored for forty-three hours, fourteen of that on pit.  Still, all 4 of those kids were c-sections.
ME….c-sections!!
I was the one who wanted homebirths. I was up for having 8-10 children.  Surrender makes us whole and changes who we are. I would never be who I am if I hadn’t handed the timing of my other children, and all expectation over to Him.  He knew better and His timing prepared me to serve and encourage other mothers.  I could share my story of surrender and how amazing and powerful letting go can be. His plan was what I needed.

We bought a house that was practically unlivable. The plan was to fix it up  and flip it to make a profit… to move to a farm with many babies. Then Dave Ramsey happened to us. He hit our budget like a wrecking ball and we have never been the same. We are ten and a half years out and still building this house bit by bit.  With cash.
We’re so close.  I’m going to share about that soon.  I can’t imagine having done this any other way, now that we are this far in. I am blown away by the tiny provisions that have kept us present and open with this house project.  We truly are Making Room For More.

We attended a church for eight years. In fact, we moved into the city and bought this little hovel to be a part of the building team to start it.  We were invested. The last four years  of that, I knew we didn’t  belong there. We love the people. We still visit and hold them dear.  But I knew to my core that we were not where God wanted us. I tried to leave. I begged my husband to leave. I had to wait for him to feel it, too.  It took four long years. Four.
The thing is that we never would have ended up where we are, if we had left when I asked to.  I felt anger and frustration, and that is what made me want to leave.  I didn’t understand that was God asking me to look for more and that it wasn’t about the situations as much as His plan to make me uncomfortable so I would give up on looking at people and search for the bottom line of finding Him. We joked about trying any and all kinds of denominations, in hopes of finding what He really wanted. If I went back all those years and told myself that it would be Catholic… I would have side-eyed myself and ran away.  For realz.  That took time. I am thankful for those years. We are where we are called to be.

I’ve done surrender in so many ways, with a heaping serving of Extreme Patience Makeover. I have felt like a veteran of this “all in God’s timing” business.  I thought I had it down.  Heck, I even thought I had reached a point of enjoying the unpredictability of it all.  I was all for it.

319139_184083555005072_119245061488922_387806_758231187_n

I was wrong.  I’m still learning it. Still growing. Because in this case, I don’t like it.

At. All.

We had expected to be ready and approved over the last winter for adopting through DFCS. At least we had hoped to be. The reality is that we have gone about this in such a different way than most foster families would. Our big plans and preparation are what have dictated this longer timeline.

It’s the house. Again.

You see, we started with a 2 bedroom/1 bath bungalow of 1150 square feet.  We have added 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an office, a laundry room, a reading nook and a storage room.  It’s substantial. It totals 1350 square feet in addition to the original house.

Why does this matter? That’s not about the adoption…

But it is.

The addition is new construct. For us to be approved to home foster children or adoptive children, we have to have a Certificate of Occupancy  from the city.  See, that would not have been a big of a deal if we had simply been renovating a home. Oops.

That is why you may know people who have done this and did it quickly. That is why our process may look confusing, long and drawn out from the outside looking in. Even dramatically so.

Yes. I am aware that I can be dramatic. Especially about this.

Once we have that approval, we are likely to have children within weeks, even days. It’s just getting that little piece of paper, and that requires passing every inspection, even the big final one. It even excavating/landscaping the back yard.  Really.

I have friends who have listened to me rage about this. I do’t know how they put up with me. I try not to, but I feel the pout and whine come on like an expectant mama who just wants that wait over and to feel the baby in her arms. I haven’t been doing the patience as well as I should.

afterlight
Friends get stuck seeing my grouchy-mama face. Often.

Thankfully, I have good friends. They are so gracious.

Ultimately, we really are not that far off track. I should be thrilled. And I am. Really I am. God’s timing seems to be about a year after what we pictured.  That doesn’t sound that bad, right? Yet it has been an up and down year of releasing our plans and trusting him, only to pick up the timeline again and forge forward with everything we have. And I mean everything.

I am Verruca Salt. I want it NOW!!

It’s not that I just want my way, and I see these children and something for ME. It’s not a selfish need for another baby. It’s that, just like a woman who is growing a baby… I am expecting.

In August of 2012 I had a earth shaking realization, a moment that hit my like a Crossfiter’s biggest kettlebell and settled with a vice grip on my heart that still remains.
I was sitting with Lil Bit playing and dreaming of her as a big sister and what that would look like. That is when it happened.

I did the math.

As I held my three year old, I realized that if we were looking at welcoming a newborn and 2-3 year old in 2 years… Now mattered.
Suddenly reality ran through my veins like an earthquake. Thunder and lighting, racing pulse. Eyes wide open.

My. Child. Could. Already. Be. Born.

My heart almost exploded and the room spun around me.  It was all at once as thrilling and as terrifying as seeing two lines after peeing on a stick. It was real.  Once I knew it, I could not undo it. A fierceness came over me that moves me forward. The whole family  feels the empty space of where those children will be.

My prayers changed. I pray for our children differently. Feverishly.  I hold my breath on holidays wondering if they have been born, if someone said “I love you” today. And if they are somewhere, who is holding them?   Is anyone? It’s cold out, are they warm?  Are they hungry?

And the one that really gets to my mama heart,

Is someone hurting them?

This is hard.

It is one thing to be waiting on a baby who is safe and sound in my uterus.  Now, I have no idea.  In all reality, considering the statistical odds… our children are not likely to be safe and sound.  We can’t do anything for them, but get this house done.

We have chosen not to go through lists of children available for adoption. There will be no adoption books to look at, and our family won’t make a cute display of ourselves to show. It is a completely different process. We don’t get to choose.

We will prepare our home to treat children like gold.  Like the royalty they are, as precious little souls with potential for greatness.

We will get a call and have only hours to pray, decide and prepare. We will take who we are given. We will fill the need.

But in doing that, we will be opening our arms to children who are hurt. They almost HAVE to be hurt to end up in the broken system that we have chosen to go through. The system that will bring them to us.  They will be removed from their natural parents. They won’t have a choice. Those parents may not have a choice.
What keeps me up at night, scheming for ways to get this house done faster, is knowing that pain and hurt will happen, for them to actually make it to our home. Pain, rejection, confusion. Abuse.   We can’t save them from that. We just have to wait to catch them when they fall into our open arms.

And it rips at me heart, but only in a way that keeps me bringing it back to God and begging him to get with the plan and hurry up. But he won’t and I know that is best. He knows that it’s best. I need to get with HIS plan.

There is some incredible good in the last year of unexpected waiting. Now that I’ve put away my pouting, I’m aware that we needed this.

Two years ago we were completely focused on the adoption aspect of this.  Now our hearts have shifted to openness for fostering to be the main goal, always with the hope that adoption is welcome.  That is a huge shift.

We are prepared to lose these children.

Do you want to know why?

I realized that they could be alive. They were having a life that I was not a part of and I could not be there for them. Do you know what that means?

It’s not about me. It’s not my story. The story belongs to these children.
It. Is. Their. Story.

So what will it feel like if we have children who are returned to their biological families after six months… after a year… what will we do?
We will cry. We will ache.  We will thank God that we got to be a part of their story, because someone was going to be.
If their story was that they would go back, it’s not about us. That is out of our control. If they were going to have that six months or a year somewhere, anywhere… it could have been with a different family. And it could have been horrible.   Maybe they will be returned to an environment that is still tragic. Maybe their future will still hold abuse that we cannot protect them from.
They still had that time. All we have is that time.  We can’t control their story. We can only present ourselves as available for them and hold an openness to loving on all terms.

Short term or long term. We are wide open for that.

These are the things we have learned, that we have processed through in this extra time.  We’ve wrestled and prayed.  We’ve waited. We’ve built a home and we are almost there.

We can now predict to have children in three to six months.

And it is safe to assume that they are alive now. Someone is.

So please don’t wait. Pray with me. Pray for them now.
And pray for all the others. The ones who won’t fit into our home.

Pray that we get this together and ready for them.  Pray that we will be strong and open when the call comes for children to be at our door in a few hours.

Because, that’s all going to happen.

In God’s timing…

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OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Thinks I’ve Learned Through 7 Years of Poop)

Hello, My Name Is…

How do I start…

No, how do I pick back up. What do I pick back up?

That’s the problem with juggling hats, you see. I have so many and I love them all.  I hold them close, I spin them in the air. I store them in the closet.  And sometimes, I crush them because hats do crush so easily, after all.

Woman, wife, mama,  homeschooler, friend, designer,  crunchy, fancy, creative, maker, baker, picture taker, writer, artist, trainer, teacher, chauffeur, birth doulam volunteer, problem solver, coach,  foster mom, bio mom, adoptive mom, cheerleader, realist, dreamer….

IMG_7087

I don’t know which one to wear for you you. What comes first? What do I put up in the closet for next season?  Actually, why am I wearing a hat when I hate the way things feel on my head?

All that.
Running through my head.
For months now. Years, actually.
Stepping out in a funky hat takes some serious chutzpah.
Audacity.
How long does dauntless take, to become a habit?

Over the years I have had six different blogs. They have all been topic specific and  I have never just blogged as me, with my name.  As open and honest as I have always been, putting my name out there was something different. I orten did it anonymously or with a pen name.
She was braver than I, always.

It has taken until now to give myself permission to embolden from the ground up.  Let me tell you why.

I have blogged off and on for several years. Behind a keyboard pouring out my heart,  vulnerable to the point of flooding my face with tears and snot, only to panic and take it back frantically making those juicy tell-all posts private.

I’ve bared my soul, my history, and my body image. Then made it anonymous because it hurts. 

It hurts to have women and moms tell me that I inspire them,  and then have the someone I see day-to-day scoff and tell me I’m ridiculous. It’s that one that gets me, stabs and slays me, no matter if a dozen thank me. Why am I so weak?

It gets tiring to be the elephant in the room, especially when you’re the one willing to unpack your trunk. Haha…trunk. See what I did there?

The more I mull it over, the less likely I am to ever do this. So,  I’m gonna be real here and just…start typing.

But it’s ok. I’m ready.

I am not going to do fear and loathing anymore. I just won’t. I’m not going to make excuses for how people feel and worry if I am just “too much” for them. They did not even ask me to. I put that on myself.

I’m going to hash out a few things right now, before I start the baby-steps-back-into-blogging. I’ve been holding off on letting this out, trying to decide which way to go, what route to write…

I’m going to start with answering how I feel about me, before I put me in front of you on a silver platter to pick apart and mull over…in case anyone cares to do that picking business.

“You’re too intense.”

I am thankful for my God given intensity. I’m sorry if it stuns you and makes you uncomfortable. Nine times out of ten I’m thanked for being encouraging and challenging growth in someone. I refuse to take that one outlying opinion and mull it over in my head for days as a failure anymore. I’m not going to spend so much time if I have been wrong all along, over one opinion.  It’s ok. You’re allowed to read someone else’s blog. From now on, I’m me. All of me.Take me or leave me. Really… you are welcome to leave before this gets real. And I am not kidding here. Please. Feel free to read someone else’s blog.

“You’re too passionate.”

I am blessed by the gift of passion. Once in a small group we were supposed to go around the room and say what we are passionate about. I wasn’t sure. The minute I said that out loud someone piped in,
“You are passionate about parenting and family!”  
“You are passionate about supporting women!”
“You are passionate about sewing and clothes!”
“You are passionate about cooking!
“You are passionate about homeschooling and DIY stuff!”
Let’s just call it, y’all. It’s not that I have one thing. It’s everything.
I. Am. Passionate.  
There ya go.

Passion for my family. I am blown away by my husband and children and aim for growth in every day we have together. I’ve blogged about parenting  and love sharing that part of my heart. I do that because we all can do it better, not because I think that *I* do it better. I want to share that walk with you and with all the parents swimming through the sea of controversy in parenting. Staying above water is a struggle and we are constantly hit by tidal waves.
I do not share about parenting because I am bitter. It is because I am learning, and I love to learn! My mama taught me that. I do not challenge parenting standards because my parents were horrible. I parent differently than them. I absolutely do, unashamedly. When I blog about it, it has the potential to hurt feelings. They have told me so, and I absolutely understand why it would be uncomfortable. I feel confident enough to discover new ways because they taught me to. I owe that to my parents for homeschooling me and teaching me to teach myself. They are as amazing as they are imperfect, which is where the beauty lies. By that they have taught me that I can be equally imperfect and amazing, in being me.

Passion for the beauty of a woman’s body and its beauty in style,  in pregnancy and in birth.
Over the years I have had the great job of encouraging and supporting women to have a birth surrendered to truth. Truth is different for each birth. But don’t act like I’m a werewolf at a babyshower. Please. I’m ok with you loving your birth, however it was. Be ok with me encouraging others toward something that may be different. I’ve seen about 250 of them over six years. If there is one thing I know, her birth is not about YOU, and it’s not about ME. So… let me speak.
And then there’s my whole modesty mantra. Look… I’m basically a modest nudist. I like to be naked. But my spirit won’t let me. God won’t let me, ya know? I follow that still small voice that tells me what to wear. I’m going to tell you about it, and why I will champion the cause of modesty, yet dress as a “Modesto Incognito”.

Passion is a powerful part of my faith. Passion has lead me to places from which fear would have kept me. Passion left me dissatisfied with a mediocre faith based on popular Christianity and drove me to stand firm in searching for the Truth and the Light. It brought me to somewhere I never, never expected… The Catholic Church.

What?!?!? Did she just say Catholic?
She did. She said it. She did it.
She’s Catholic? What the what? Since When?
It’s ok. I love Jesus. Jesus loves Catholics.
Oh man, she’s gonna talk about Catholic.

Yep, I’m going to tell you about that… because it’s Jesus. I love to share Jesus. Stick around or don’t. That’s totally up to you. I free you from it if it bothers you. I mean, it’s all Jesus and you can read and not be Catholic… but I am. I found my freedom in it. So much freedom that it blows me away.

“You are so judgmental… “

Please understand that I make judgement calls. It’s what God asks of us, and I prayerfully try to toe the line of judging sin and not the heart and soul of a sinner, other than myself.  I’m not judging you by making a judgment call on what I believe to be a healthy standard. My choice is not about you. Also, I constantly encourage others to search their hearts and find that sound judgment that is there. It’s not what you think it is, and our culture and society is doing everything they can to destroy our good judgement.

“Nobody can make everything from scratch and do all that healthy stuff. I could never do what you do. “

Really, that’s fine. I can’t even do what people think I do. I love to make things myself. I also love ordering pizza, and I miss that option in my life. So there.

I love treating bodies well, nourishing them with whatever is wholesome and caring for them on a daily basis. But you may not believe me. You may think I’m a liar because…. gasp….

I had WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY!!!  Give me a few weeks and I’m going to explain to you in about 100 ways why that was NOT the easy way out. I promise. It’s hard. Especially when you’ve been known as a health freak for years…Yes, me. I did this… gasp…. Just wait. I’ll tell it all.

“I can’t believe you would tell people that! You know, that thing you just said.”

What, the truth?

Listen, I’m all about healthy boundaries. As a professional birth doula I am trained and experienced at following strict guidelines and HIPPA privacy regulations. It’s second nature. I was an HR manager with 900 employees when I was 22 years old. I can be diplomatic and discrete. I can poker face to the enth degree. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share failures and lessons I’ve learned, myself, in hopes that the experience can be used to help others. It’s part of who I am. To share. To support. To hold myself open to ridicule so that someone else can feel that they aren’t alone. I do that. Often.

I could go on and give you 100 things people have said to me about things I have written in the last nine years. I have the rebuttals ready. I think this is enough for you to get the idea, right? Right.

Moving on.

I’m starting fresh, from scratch and that may be with five readers instead of what I have enjoyed in the past. If you are reading this and you can see where I am going, it is worth it to me.

You want to know what all of this rambling is about? In a nutshell, it is a coming out in the light of day. I’ve spent years trying to hide ME behind a purpose or topic… every. time. I. write.


Because the real me, the whole me, was too much for people. Because Jesus wants us to see Him, not us. So I had to hide that for Him, right? Isn’t that required?
I  named blogs different things and kept them separate. At one point I had 5 at once, compartmentalized by different topics so the topic was what you saw. You aren’t supposed to see me.

I can’t maintain that. I can’t hide behind the banners and the goals anymore and say that they are what is important and I’m to be as invisible in the process as possible. I’ve refused to use my name in most of my blogging. I thought that was doing “Humility” correctly.

It wasn’t.

It was letting the fear of others cripple my heart. I let them hold back the baring of my soul, and if there is one thing I have known since I was a child, it is that God gave me a soul that is intense and passionate… that loves to DIY for everything… and he wants me to bare my soul. He gave me a crazy one… to share it. Yes.. bare… naked. Like that.

I was afraid.

Now I am not. So this is all about taking a deep breath and for the first time presenting me. All in one place. All my randomness. All my depth. It’s ok for my blog to be about me. Who I am is ok. That can be useful.

Most of all,  I want to share all that I’m meant to be… with you. To believe and know that I AM worth seeing and knowing. I don’t have to hide behind the words that flow from me, yet I don’t have to give them up to be something that I’m not. I can do both.

And if I’m worth reading.
I am worth seeing as a whole.

If I am,
That means you are, too.

But first, I have to tell you about me.

Bare and openly yours,

Talitha Cumi Seibel

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