Monday, September 17, 2012

The Preacher's Kid

As most of you know, I'm in ministry. Even though I hate titles, I am officially the Director of Children's Ministry or Children's Minister as some call it, for Antioch. If you would have asked me 10 years ago when I graduated what I would be doing, being a Children's Minister would have been the LAST thing I would have thought. God's funny like that though. He took a broken, messed up, sinner like me and put me in the position I am today. Instantly I was transformed and became the best, most awesome children's minister anyone had ever seen! Umm, wrong. In fact my first year, I think I came home every night and cried and told Tyler, "I can't do this anymore, and I’m horrible." Now as I start my fourth year, I am still amazed that no matter how much I have fought God on what my career should be, I'm still here. I started at Antioch when Presley was only 2 months old. Everyone on staff and our board was so generous, and allowed me to bring Presley to work with me. They even sit up a play pen in my office. They even put a lock on my office door so I was able to nurse her when I needed to. Note to self. ALWAYS remember to lock the door. You will save yourself a super embarrassing moment when someone from the church opens the door and sees your boob hanging out. So anyways, Presley has/is growing up at this church. She attended staff meetings, lunch dates and conference calls. She feels comfortable here. This is, as she calls it, "her church." Because I am here every day and not just Mondays and Wednesdays like some people think, my kids are around too. They pretty much have free reign of the building, within reason of course, to run and play and be kids. I mean come on, what kid wouldn't love to go as fast as they can down a really long hallway on a Big Wheel?! But because my kids are able to do these things, it gets kind of tough when it is a Sunday or Wednesday and they have to remember we aren't the only ones there. Being a preacher's kid of a "PK" as it is referred to, has it's perks, but it definitely has its pits too. Case in point, when you are PK, everything you do is being watched. When you are the mother of the PK, the way you handle your PK is put under a microscope. If you tell your kid to chill out, someone is watching. If you pull them into the bathroom, someone is talking about it outside said bathroom. And if your child throws a fit on a Sunday morning with everyone around... Well, you might as well just write about it in the church bulletin, that way EVERYONE can know about it. I hate this kind of pressure that my kids are put under. They are kids. They are going to be loud and messy and throw fits. Just because they are PK's doesn't make them immune to any of this behavior. But on another level, there is so much pressure on me, their mom. Moms' these days have enough pressure, it doesn't matter what line of work you are in. It seems like no matter what we do, it's never good enough for another mom. You are a bad mom if you vaccinate your children, but you’re neglecting them if you don't. You didn't breastfeed your child until they were two? Well then, you are going to have the stupidest kid alive. You haven't got your child on a preschool waiting list and they aren't even born yet? Shame on you! Do you hear how ridiculous this all sounds? Why do people add so much pressure onto an already challenging task? Never is this truer than with motherhood. Early childhood is this bizarre world where we hyperventilate because another mom enrolled her kid in Spanish classes and her baby is going to be fluent in Spanish before our baby can even talk! I know this kind of thinking isn't a new phenomenon, but it sure is obnoxious. More than that, it's exhausting! Enter Jesus.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 The Message How meaningful these words are to this exhausted mama, longing for relief. No surprise there. This is our Savior. He takes the unnecessary pressure and pointless legalism, put upon by society or self imposed and He gently pushes those aside and says, "Come to me." There is rest that only exists in Christ. In His embrace we can discern what matters and what doesn't. What counts and what is simply optional and what is essential to our holy task as a mom, or what is just cultural pressure. Jesus always chose the simple over the complicated. I love that. So let me ask you. Can you hear the spirit of His voice? He doesn't want us as moms wasting away in guilt and condemnation. He hates that you wallow and doubt and succumb to unnecessary pressure as you raise your sweet babies. To some moms, you will never be good enough. You will never parent the right way. You will never raise productive members of society because they had a little meltdown at church on Sunday. Who cares? You are enough because Jesus says you are. Come to Him. Come and rest.

Friday, December 16, 2011

From Here to Maternity...

It's finally here. Well tomorrow at least, the day when our sweet baby girls' will be born. As I'm sitting her writing this from what has been my home for the last month, it's hard to believe that in less than 24 hours; Tyler and I will be the parents of 4 children. Last night we were talking after he had put the kids to bed and going over all that has transpired in the almost 7 years we have been married. I asked him, "Did you ever think that when we met in the 4th grade, that one day we would be sitting here on the phone, getting ready to meet our twin girls?" He just laughed and said, "Never!"

There are moments when it feels we just got the news at 8 weeks pregnant that we were expecting identical twins. Then there are other days, as my mom says, "It feels like you have been pregnant forever!" The past 4 weeks have felt that way. I had to find strength, endurance, and patience I never knew I had. As you know I've never wanted sympathy, our situation is/was temporary and we knew going in, that no matter what happened we would come out on the other side. I have hated being away from home. Being away from Tyler, Keller and Presley for this long is something I pray I never have to go through again. So many late nights were spent crying in this hospital room as I longed to be with them. Missing dinners together, doing homework, reading stories and giving baths soon become a thing of the past and Tyler had to step up even more. As I sit here writing this, tears fill my eyes as I think of all Tyler has done in these past months. He is the most unselfish, giving and compassionate man I have ever known. There is absolutely no way I would have gotten through any of this without him. Even these words don't do him justice. God blessed me abundantly with a man who showed me more than ever what "through sickness and health" really means.

As much as Tyler did, he didn't go at it alone. Words will never be able to express how much all the calls, texts, emails and visits have meant to us. Your encouragement kept us going. For those that fed my family, multiple times when I wasn't able too, or just took the kids away for a few hours so Tyler could have a break. For Kristen Groves who took such great care of my little buddy everyday after school, helping him with his homework and bringing him home. People like you all, make situations like this more bearable. We are forever grateful for all the everyone has done for our family. Tyler and I say frequently that we can't wait to pay it forward.

To group mine and Tyler's parents in with everyone else wouldn't seem right to me. I have no idea how families can't live close to each other. I know for some it is by choice, but not for Tyler and I. Having our parent's close,and ready and willing to help has been the biggest blessing ever. I think of my mom and all that she's done. I can think of maybe one doctor's appointment she missed. She was the first one I called one something just "didn't feel right" and the first one to say, "I'll pick you up in 10 minutes" for one of our many trips to the doctor. She has slept on uncomfortable hospital beds and taken tedious notes on all the things the doctors' were saying. She sit there when we learned the news that Berkley was behind and may not make it and was the one that said, "We will get through this, you know I'm always here." She made sure that our Thanksgiving in the hospital was special by bringing in food and pretty tablecloths. She was my mom. And tomorrow she gets to witness the birth of her granddaughters. I can't think of a better way to say, "thank you." More than anything, my dad, and my mother & father in law loved on my kids when I wasn't able too. They let them stay the night, watched them after school and made their little lives more stable in an unstable time. God is so gracious for giving us parents like that.

It's so quiet on the floor today, well my room is quiet at least. I hear call buttons going on and off and the sound of a baby's heartbeat beating loudly on the monitor next door. But my room is calm. I know that come 7:00 tonight, the calmness will quickly fade away as I get to see Keller and Presley one last time before surgery. One last time to kiss their faces before Keller becomes a big brother for the 2nd and 3rd time and Presley a big sister for the 1st time. My sisters, Kelsey and Kaylee and my mom's sister will get here this evening, just in time for the birth of their nieces. As many of you know, Kelsey is my very best friend and I am more than thrilled her schedule allowed her to come down. Kelsey is the person you want around when you are not feeling well. She is a caretaker through and through. When I was first put on bed rest I got a huge basket from her full of magazines, books, puzzles and nail polish. When I was admitted into the hospital she was the one who went out and bought me XL shirts and pants so I wouldn't have to wear the awful hospital gowns. She made being here more comfortable. She is the best.

Tyler and I will spend our last night together this evening as mom and dad of two. Tomorrow that will all change. The morning will come faster than we think and soon the hustle and bustle will begin in preparation for the c-section. I'm so excited that my other best friend, also a Kelsee will be here to document all the excitement. She took our family pictures and my maternity pictures. She is super talented and I'm so happy she gets to be apart of our big day.

I'm a little anxious, but not worried. We have complete trust in Dr. Fanous and know he's going to take great care of me. The girls' are going to be born early at 34 weeks and 3 days. This may sound too early, but for us, this is a day we didn't know if we would see. Remember when our main goal was at least getting to 24 weeks? And here we are at 34. We are in a great place. We are anticipating NICU time and know the girls' will be little, but the fact that they made it this far has truly been a miracle. We have been through a lot to get to this point. Weekly appointments at numerous doctor's, labor and delivery visits, getting injections every week... the list goes on. It was all worth it. Every bit of it. More than anything I'm going to miss feeling them move and flip inside me. For the past 8 1/2 months I have been their primary caregiver. Keeping them safely tucked away inside. Not having this huge belly in front will be something I will truly miss. What a miracle it was to carry not one, but two precious babies'.

I'm sure sleep won't be easy to come by tonight as I think about what Berkley and Harper will look like, how much they will weigh etc. More than anything I pray they both let out a wail that rings through the hospital walls. I want them to announce their presence with gusto" "I'm here world! Here I am!" Now I'm sure we will change our tune soon enough, like when they are both crying in the middle of the night- but for now, we want to hear those lungs fill with air and their cries to echo off the walls. We pray that as they grow that God will fill their little hearts to overflowing. We long to hear them crying out in joy to their Lord and Savior. We know that God is the only one who can ultimately meet their every need and desire. We want to show them from an early age that God will never fail them and that He is the one source of true joy. We thank God for these precious children.

Please pray for us tomorrow as we go into surgery at 11:00. Pray for guidance over Dr. Fanous and his team. Pray that Berkley and Harper will have minimal issues and enter into the world peacefully. Pray for Keller and Presley as they aren't with us. We will keep you guys updated as soon as we are able. Thank you again for sharing this journey with us.

Much love, Kara

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world." John 16:21

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do you have the time?

You know I do. Sitting in a hospital room for 24 hours a day leaves you with a lot of time on your hands. And while I've caught up on thank you notes, shopped online and addressed our Christmas cards, I've also had a lot of time to think. It's amazing the things you think about when you are alone most of the day without the distractions of kids, work and life in general. At first I found it tedious. Boring even. But then I started to look at it from a different perspective. I would NEVER in my life have this time again. In 14 short days my days of watching movies on Netflix and doing crossword puzzles uninterrupted will be long gone. In there place will be loads of poopy diapers, dance classes and t-ball games. Life is going to be chaotic, to say the least. I will have no more me time. But guess what? I can't wait.

The hardest part of my hospital stay most definetely has been not seeing my kids as much as I would like. They try to come up daily, but some days they just can't. I miss them terribly. Miss hearing about their day at school, doing Keller's homework with him, giving Presley a bath. All those things I took for granted now that I'm the one that can't do them. So I started thinking about time. Specifically the time we spend with our kids.

What distracts us from time with our children? In every family this looks different, but it’s important to take an honest look at our own schedules and to adjust so that we can come alongside our children as they walk through this tricky thing called life.

I would be willing to bet that when you ask your kids when they are older when they felt most loved they would say it was in the unplanned moments sitting around a table and telling stories, or laughing at something silly until milk comes out of their nose, or when mom or dad sits beside their bed at night and asks them about their day–and really listens. Time equals love to a child, even if they don’t tell us in those words.

I’ve got two (almost four) amazing kids. I really do. They are wildly funny, imaginative, moody, opinionated, strong, weak, happy, sad, good and sometimes not so good. In other words they’re pretty normal. And while I’ve done everything in my power to raise them to turn out amazingly awesome – and they very well might turn out amazingly awesome – there aren’t any guarantees.

Sometimes bad parents raise terrific kids.

And sometimes terrific parents raise kids that chase bad things their whole life.

So, what’s a mama to do?

Embrace the process. Learn from the process. Let God speak to us during the process. And see the process of raising kids as an ongoing opportunity to invest beyond ourselves. We get to love our kids like crazy. Pray for them faithfully. Talk to them regularly. Listen to them tenderly. Model honesty and integrity. And point them to Jesus at every turn.We get to do all that.And tucked within these privileges is the reward. As long as I look for the reward within the process, I won’t misplace my expectations. I have to rest in the assurance that God sees everything I invest in these kids.And He will use every step of this process for good. The process will be good for me. And this process will good for my kids. It will be good. But this process won’t always make me feel good or look good.If I always expect my kids to make me feel good or look good, I am setting us all up for failure. My kids were never meant to carry the weight of a mama’s need for validation. I can’t let their failures send me to bed. And I can’t wear their successes like mommy medals of honor.

Motherhood is tough you know?

It really is.

However, it’s also our only opportunity, our only time to reach into the generations to come and make a difference. So, an imperfect but wonderful difference I will make. Won't you join me?

Dear Lord, time passes so fast and I feel pressured by so many things. Please take inventory of my life and show me the places where I need to adjust. Look at every area and help me to know how to find balance, and to connect with my beautiful child. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

32 Weeks...

What a huge milestone! 32 weeks down and only two short weeks to go. I remember when 24 was our goal and then 28, then 30 and here we are at 32 weeks. For some reason this was the number I was waiting for, the number where I could breathe a little easier. Like I do every Wednesday, I read the 10 different books and 5 different apps I have on my phone regarding what's happening with the girls' this week.

According to most they should be anywhere from 3.75 to 4 pounds and about 16 inches long. 32 inches of baby in me?! Wow. We won't have our next growth ultrasound for a week, but we are very anxious and curious to see how much they weigh. We are hoping they have at least hit the 4 lb mark, that would be great progress. They are also shedding the lanugo that has been on their little bodies and they are growing eyelashes, eyebrows and hair!

I was hoping when I got pregnant for the first time that I wouldn't be one of those women that "waddle." Well, that didn't happen. I didn't get too big with Keller but I still had a slight waddle. With Presley I was a little bigger and the waddle returned. But here we are at 32 weeks with a uterus measuring 45 weeks plus so the waddle is not only there, but would make anyone close to me scared for their life. As many woman know pregnancy hormones relax your joints and make you move differently. Your center of gravity is dramatically different. My family often wonders how I don't tip over when I stand up!

So with my muscles stretching and becoming more flexible, I thought it was appropriate that I learned that this week the girls' muscles are going through a growth spurt. And most of the weight they are putting on is largely due to an increase in muscle tissue. I'm glad my girls are putting on muscle and gaining strength because I feel like I have none! Getting out of bed takes all the energy I have. Thankfully I don't have to walk much (I'm not allowed to anyway) So since I don't have a lot of strength right now, what a perfect time it is to rely on God. This week and the weeks to come I will praying for a generous outpouring of His strength, because if these baby girls are going to come into the world, I'm going to need a lot of it! This morning I started looking up verses regarding strength. Praise God the bible is full of verses that speak of God's strength being sufficient when we find ourselves weak.

I am so thankful our sweet girls' are getting stronger with each passing day. We want our children to be strong- not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We pray that God will give them strength to always stand up for what is right. I think especially of their teenage years when negative peer pressure will be a real and fighting force. God, help them to stand firm in You! Give them the strength to resist any temptation that goes against your Word. Help them to stand strong in the face of adversity. Give them the confidence that they can do anything that you ask them to do. Help Tyler and I to build a foundation of truth into their lives at a young age, so they will have the tools they need to be strong.

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

Monday, November 28, 2011

Girls, Girls, Girls...

At times I get really bothered by facebook. It's really my own fault. I don't have to click on the "accept friend request" button but about 95% of the time I do. Unlike Tyler who likes to "make them wait it out." But lately I'm bothered at certain posts. Ones I can't ignore. Ones I should comment on but I don't. I get that facebook is a social networking site and you are pretty much free to put on there whatever you desire. But the status updates that get me are the ones from girls ranging in age from 16-19. Some are shocking, some are disgusting and some are downright cruel. Just the other day Tyler and I were saying how fortunate we were that facebook didn't exist when we were in high school. I think facebook makes going to junior/high school ten times harder. All it takes is one post and some one's life can be turned upside down. I can't stand cattiness. I can't stand when girls' can't be happy for other girls. I can't stand when a high school girl posts about a girl who is the very same class as her. Just who do you think you are? Can you tell I'm irritated? Why is so hard for us as young women to accept other young women. It really baffles me. Why can't we cheer on our fellow woman and rejoice with her when she triumphs and encourage her when she fails. What do we gain by being so ugly? In my experience girls that talk this way about others girls are unhappy with themselves. They are so sad and so lost that the only cure for the sickness is to make others feel as bad as they do. It breaks my heart for them. Other posts that make me look twice and the ones that involve their boyfriends. At times my mouth is literally left hanging open at the things I read. When you are 19 years old and your boyfriend is bringing you breakfast in bed, something is wrong people! IT'S WRONG.

In no way, shape or form do I think I'm perfect. I've made plenty of mistakes. Anyone that knows 3 things about me would know that I was pregnant with Keller when Tyler and I get married. We didn't do things in the right order and that's something we aren't proud of. Would we change the outcome, absolutely not, Keller was the greatest thing to ever happen to us. But would we have saved the heartache that came with having a baby before marriage. Absolutely. We were not honoring God with our choices back then, which makes it all the more important that our children do. It has really hit home with us lately now that we will have three daughters. It terrifies us to think about the world that they will grow up in. That's why we have to constantly be in prayer for our children, even before they are born. We don't want them to see sex as something casual and fleeting, but as an amazing gift that God has given them to cultivate with their husband and wife. Our prayer is that our daughters and our son will grow up to be completely confident in his or her sexual identity. We pray that Keller embraces his masculinity and seeks to become a strong, yet gentle man who brings honor and glory to his Savior. We pray our girls rejoice in their womanhood and see it not as a burden or weakness, but as a blessing and a joy. Most importantly we pray that we will never stereotype them or put them in a
box, but lovingly encourage them to be exactly who God wants them to be.

Today, I'm going to pray for these girls I have noticed on facebook. Some are friends of friends while others are much closer. I wish I could tell them they are so much more beautiful than the ugly things that come out of their mouths. I wish they could know about the complete peace that comes in having an identity in Jesus rather than things of this world. I wish they could see how precious they are and that God has an incredible plan for their lives if they would just trust Him. So, why can't I tell them these things? Perhaps that's where my insecurities come in. It's much easier to "hide" behind a computer and say these things rather than call someone out online. So for now I will pray for these girls whom I sure have really sweet hearts and good intentions but just need a little guidance. I urge you to encourage and love on someone today who might really need it. You don't have to come across as judgy or "be all up in there face" about it. Speak kindly and let them know you love them. Be on their side. Because after all, us girls have to stick together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fighting a harder battle

It's no surprise that my pregnancy has been pretty eventful to say the least. In fact, as I sit here from a hospital bed, I look back on how far we have come. Call me crazy but I am so grateful to be in this very place. Because being here means I'm still carrying my girls and they are still growing and doing all the things they should. You will never know how much all the cards, calls, texts, and emails have meant to my family during this time. But I don't want to focus on me and my situation any more. Don't get me wrong, please continue to pray for my girls', Tyler, Keller, Presley and those that unselfishly take care of them in my absence. This post is more about bringing awarenss to others and their situations. I love that I can enoucrage others, and I so appreciate when others tell me how positive my outlook is. Everyday when we wake up we have to choose to be joyful or not. Don't make excuses of why your day is going to be horrible, just choose to be joyful. So, am I always joyful and positive? Absolutely not, I just have to choose to be those things.

In all reality my situation is pretty great considering. Yes, it really stinks to be in a hosital room 24 hours a day, but the greatest thing about it is that we get something amazing at the end. My condition is not terminal, I am not dying. I get to leave her and have two more precious babies, God willing. For others, the outcome will be drastically different.

Someone whom I adore called me ealier today and asked if I would pray for a woman who was going through some major stuff. And while it is not my place to share her story, trust me when I say, it's heavy. But here's what got me, this woman who was going through all these horriffic things asked about me. Me. Despite this dark place she was in, she thought about me and my girls and wanted me to know that she thought about us everyday. I was humbled. It goes to show you that someone is always fighting a harder battle. Always. We complain about how crowded the grocery store is, how our kids are driving us crazy, how the drive thru was too slow etc. I want to challenge you to stop and think before you complain. If the grocery store is too crowded think about those who would love to be able to go the store and buy groceries but aren't able to. For everytime you say your kids are driving you crazy think about a woman who longs for a baby of her own. Someone is always fighting a harder battle. So for today and everday, have an attitude of gratitude and choose joy.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Your Daughters"

I apologize for my absence in the blogging world. It hasn't been for lack of time, since I've been on bed rest I've had plenty of time on my hands. I guess I tend to use facebook as a quicker way to keep everyone updated, but tonight I thought I would go into more detail about what's been going on...

Today, we had an appointment with a specialist. To be specific, the Professor of Cardiology at the Children's Hospital in Plano. His job is all about fetal hearts. There was no checking measurements, or fluid levels, but instead he checked every single part of their little hearts. The ultrasound took a good hour, he wanted to make sure he got everything he needed. He was very kind, and reassuring the whole time, but something he said stuck with me all day. It was simple enough. He said,
"Alright, let's have a look at your daughters." No one had ever called them that before. It was always so technical. Baby A or Baby B. But he called them "our daughters." I loved it. We are going to have not one, but three daughters. What an amazing gift and incredible responsibility.

The rest of the appointment went really well. Though he said that Berkley's heart was in fact a little smaller, there was no need for concern. She was right where she needed to be. My sweet little Berkley and her sweet little heart, doing exactly what God had intended it to do. Harper's heart also looked great and was in working order. In fact the doctor said, "I can't help but take a lot of pictures, your girls photograph beautifully." That made this mamma smile.

While I know the heart isn't where our emotions live, it is the symbolism we use in our culture. I so want my girls, all our kids to be tender hearted. Never calloused or uncaring. I want them to empathize with the plight of others. I want their hearts to be pliable- easily squeezed with joy, and even easily constricted with pain. I hate to think of their precious hearts' getting broken, but a hard heart lacks the capacity to know true love. My prayer for my children is that the Lord will give them a soft heart and protect it as well. I pray they have a heart for the things God loves most.

Carrying two babies around is definitely taking its toll. Even though I am 6 months pregnant, I am measuring almost 9 months! Both babies are head down and this can be super uncomfortable. If you have ever experienced this, you know what I mean. I'll spare the details but lets just say when I sneeze I hope they don't fall out. Since 14 weeks I have gone in weekly for progesterone shots. The first few weeks weren't so bad, but now my back side is getting pretty tender. Sleeping is a whole other issue. It's almost non existent what with the 10 nightly trips to the bathroom...I'm not kidding. I guess my body is getting me ready for all the late nights to come. But despite all these things, I am so grateful, and I truly mean that. Grateful that I have all of these "ailments" because it means I am still carrying my girls. I know too many people who would gladly take my place if it meant a child of their own. Even though it is trying, I am honored to take on this task and challenge and would gladly do it all over again. I love this verse from James 1: 3-4

" Consider it all joy, friends when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith is forced out into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way."

So, for today and everyday... I consider it all joy.

Much love my friends.