Just wheat: Only what matters

“What’s one feeling you’ve had since having her that has surprised you?”

One of my best friends posed this question to me a few days ago as I rocked my drowsy five week-old baby girl.

How’s she doing? Are you recovering from the delivery? How do you like breastfeeding? Isn’t it crazy how fast they grow?

I’ve been asked these questions countless times lately. Maggie’s doing well. I’m recovering well. Breastfeeding is complicated but worth it, I think (ask me a month from now). And yes, it’s insane how quickly she grows, changes, and develops adorable rolls of baby chub.

But my friend’s question caught me off guard. Not many people have asked how I feel about being a mom.

Honestly, I hesitate to write about it. I hesitate because when I was pregnant, I felt skeptical of all the women I knew who believed that pregnancy was beautiful and…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

I experienced my first bout with angina at 28 years old while walking through a Wal-Mart parking lot one cold winter night with Liz, my former stepdaughter, who was a gangly 13 year-old at the time. A pickup truck full of men, appearing to be in their 20s, drove by us and honked, hooped, and hollered. At LIZ. Not at me. I’m sure their cat calls were for my precious 13 year-old because I donned the world’s largest, bulkiest, floor-length coat that night. Liz’s long legs were covered in skinny jeans, topped off with a cute puffy jacket.

Along with the curses I hurled in the direction of the pickup truck, I remember turning to Liz and putting my hand on my chest.

“Oh my gosh, it’s my first official chest pain.” Apparently the idea of my precious Liz being eyeballed by perverted men was too much for me.

Three…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

November 16, at 4:21 p.m., our little girl Margaret Jacqueline became a tangible, visible, audible part of our lives.

Those of who you regularly read my blog know that my pregnancy experience was less than perfect. I’ve never imagined pregnancy to be “the best time in my life,” as some of my friends and acquaintances describe it, but I hoped it would not be the worst.

In some ways, it was the worst.

In other ways, it wasn’t so bad. I watched my husband grow into even more of a man, a leader, and a compassionate lover than he was before–and he was already practically perfect in every way (step aside, Mary Poppins). I learned to adjust my personal timetable and tastes and to yield to the ticking time bomb growing inside me, concerning myself primarily with her best interests. I discovered goldmines of gratitude in little daily kindnesses from…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This year, we’ll celebrate it a little differently since we’ll be caring for a brand new baby and won’t be able to participate in family festivities. I’m hoping and praying that our families will feel sorry for us and deliver some of their delicious dishes to our doorstep :).

Regardless, we will have plenty to be thankful for–namely, our brand new baby girl who will undoubtedly change our lives.

A simple gratitude prayer has resonated within me the past few days. It seems that my husband and I have been bombarded with blessings, surprises, bad news, and challenges all at once. With our baby set to arrive any day now, we’ve been feeling overwhelmed, broken-hearted, and hopeful, all at the same time.

“God, thank You for all You’ve given me

For all You’ve taken away

and for all You’ve left me with.”

This prayer captures…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

As a high school student, I set my alarm clock for 15 minutes prior to school starting–not 15 minutes prior to time to leave for school. I often slept in sweats or something similarly slouchy to save time getting dressed in the morning and took a bath before going to bed. I woke up (often to a shot of cold water in the face, lovingly administered by my mom, who tried every method imaginable to convert me to a morning person), roll out of bed into tennis shoes, and stumble into the bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and pull my hair into a ponytail.

Done.

No breakfast, unless I grabbed something while walking out the door that could be eaten while driving to school. No makeup or concern over the way I looked–it was high school, and honestly, I didn’t care about folks at school enough to…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

It’s hard to resist the temptation to listen to the Sirens of the past.

In fact, living in the moment is one of the hardest life lessons I’ve learned. I didn’t learn how to do it easily. It didn’t come to me naturally. And I certainly didn’t acquire the ability quickly.

It’s taken years.

Through a combination of catastrophic choices and traumatic trials, I came to believe that my life simply wasn’t going to turn out the way I’d wanted it to. And in truth, I had never had many visions of a pleasant life or goals for changing the world. After age 16, when many fundamental truths seemed disproved by my circumstances of sexual assault and the aftermath that entails, I discarded the notion that setting goals was even worthwhile. What’s the point, if someone can come along and rip your plans away from you? What’s the purpose in…

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Just wheat: Only what matters

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

My eyeballs automatically rolled back into my head at the recitation of this phrase which my mom repeated to me and my sisters so many times that I swore I’d never say it myself.

Yet a few days ago, as election season crept upon us in all its obnoxiousness, I found myself surprised by the number of negative comments and posts on Facebook regarding candidates, political parties, and ideological viewpoints. Election year seems to bring out the dark side of many normal, happy-go-lucky, non-partisan people. Lately, I find myself wondering if everyone had the benefit of learning the lesson, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Most of my “I will be kind and loving to my sister” sentences resulted from my failure to follow this maxim as a child. Each time, my mom would either…

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God with skin on

Chicken pocket filling for a ready-made supper. A visit from two hours away. Shadow box shopping with a crafty friend who is creating something special for our daughter's nursery. Eight hours slaving away over a stubborn sewing machine. Countless encouraging comments. Genuine prayers. Two different sets of people planning baby showers. A phone call--just because--from... Continue Reading →

Just wheat: Only what matters

I’ve never been spiritually motivated by the idea of being good, doing the right thing, or proving how holy I am. I can’t recall a single time when I made a decision, spiritually speaking, based on these things. Right or wrong, I am driven simply by God’s love.

Over a delightful decaffeinated version of my favorite drink, I had an in-depth conversation with a good friend a few days ago regarding this matter. She admitted that if anything, she had always been too intimidated to screw up and had probably missed out on what God could have done in her life as a result. I could not relate–I have lived my life, until recently, on the other extreme. I’ve never been concerned with what others thought about my choices, and for a long time, I wasn’t even that concerned with what God thought about my choices. I lived my own…

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Worth

*Thanks to Linda Unger, inspiring writer and photographer, for serving as today's guest contributor. To view more of Linda's amazing photography, visit her website.* I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a wife and many other things. But the most difficult to believe “role” has been child of God. So... Continue Reading →

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