my last

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because my last baby, lucky number seven. because ohmygoodness i’m so excited to never be pregnant again (i haven’t calculated but i’m pretty sure i have spent more of my adulthood with a baby either inside or attached to me than not, and that’s okay, but sigh). because my poor belly, i’m only just learning not to hate it. because i love cute little baby bumps but i have never had a cute little baby bump; some of us have big round baby bellies and they are just as beautiful. because he loves my body so well when i’m pregnant. because yes and done and yay and love.

xoxo

time traveler’s

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i hate calvinism i said
but the truth is
i just hate whatever makes him hate…
whatever keeps him from
Love

the beliefs that lie
the lies he believes
that keep him lost
in a graceless sea

but lately there’s so much
less of that
much more truth
more holding fast
more holding tight

and we just might maybe have
just begun or started over
getting to Know one another
again

or anew

cause lately
brand new kisses
shock us both
and he looks
i look
like whoa
hey you

there you are
again
anew

Surprise

This year has been chock full of loss for us. A little over a year ago, Joseph lost his father. And if you’re not aware of the circumstances surrounding that, I will just say it was one of the messiest losses imaginable. Subsequent to that, J lost his mind for a little while. He really did, and in that I lost my husband for a few months, and we nearly lost our marriage. I’m not by any means taking personal responsibility out of the picture here, mistakes were made on both sides. But we fought like hell to keep our marriage together, and thankfully had friends and counselors graciously step in and love us through it as well.
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At the end of all that, well kind of in the middle of it actually, we found ourselves expecting baby number seven. And after twelve long weeks of working hard to repair our marriage, and me being extremely sick, we lost baby number seven. It was… heart wrenching. We grieved, we named her, Olivia, we let go, and we grieved some more.

And then only a few weeks later, Joe lost his beloved Grandmother, the woman who’d saved him from his awful childhood and raised him. I did my best to comfort and care for him, only to find out three days later that my own grandfather, the only consistently present, loving and safe man in my childhood had passed after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

Amidst all that we got news that Eli might need spinal surgery, and though that has possibly been permanently postponed, it was a lot to take. And just over a month ago, Joe’s employment contract was up somewhat more abruptly than we had planned for, leaving us more than a little reeling.

Needless to say, the fog of sadness, heartbreak, frustration and loss has been thick this year.

Which is why we were completely shocked to find out that in this month where we thought we’d be about seven months along with baby number seven, we are in fact about seven weeks along with baby number eight.
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We were both quite reluctant to celebrate. But this morning… we saw a fuzzy little black and white heart beating away. Something we never got to see with our precious Liv. And no, we are not out of the woods yet. Which is part of the reason we’re letting you know.

We could use a little love, a little prayer, a little holding up. We are in fact, feeling all the feels.

It’s likely I’ll be getting very sick soon, (though we are reeeeally hoping that I won’t). And it’s likely our kids are going to be dealing with a very mixed bag of emotions as well. We need peace like a blanket to cover our house. We need this little baby to feel love not anxiety. And we’ll probably need some extra grace as we navigate our way out of this fog.
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And to you Little Bean,
Excuse out tentativeness if you will, you are loved so much already, I assure you. Lucky for you, there’s already plenty of room carved out in my belly:) As you’ll soon find out, our tribe is a bit of a wild one, but welcome.
Love love,
Mama

Dispelling Myths

 

Trigger warning: this piece discusses rape and sexual assault.

(This post is the second in a series where we discuss some myths surrounding sexual assault and eventually some solutions.)


I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath to dispel some more myths about sexual assault, have no fear, the wait is over. 

Last week we talked about some of the difficulties and challenges women face when deciding to report. A necessary post because apparently there are people who think that a significant problem in our society is false reporting of rapes. (Because definitely we crazy vengeful man-hating women are willing to cry rape and be repeatedly interrogated by police, and have our bodies extensively examined, poked and prodded all in the name of getting back at a harmless well meaning frat boy who accidentally made out with another girl at a party. Or no, not at all.) But I digress. 

I’d like to examine some of the ways society reacts to a woman who has summoned the courage to report her attacker. Common questions include: What was she wearing? Where was she? What was she doing? I myself find these questions to be completely irrelevant because I think the number of girls who choose out rape dresses to go to rape parties and ask to be raped is zero. But let’s pretend her clothing is relevant, what do you think the most common item of clothing victims are wearing? Guess what- it’s pajama pants. Maybe they’re really sexy pajama pants that men just can’t be asked to resist. Or maybe the problem isn’t what a woman was wearing or where she was or what she was doing, but instead the problem is THE RAPIST. 

Another common misconception- If she had been drugged it would show up in a tox screen. This is another rape apologist excuse, “She probably wanted it and then felt guilty later and made false accusations”. Well, you guys, common date rape drugs like Rohypnol and GHB leave the system with the first urination so no, they don’t generally show up in tox screens. Maybe we should instead be examining what is wrong with so many young men that they are interested in having sex with women who not only don’t posses the ability to give consent, but most of the time are not coherent or responsive. (I say young men because 60% of young men in college  “indicated some likelihood of raping or using force in certain circumstances”) That is not normal sexual behavior, folks. When you’re trying to get your partner in the mood and they fall asleep, your arousal level should go down. 

Also I’d like to talk about consent for a moment- First let me tell you what consent is not- Consent is not the lack of “no”. Consent is the presence of a “yes”. Consent must be clear and unambiguous for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter. This means if a sexual encounter begins with a yes and the woman changes her mind and the man persists, he is raping her. It is not the responsibility of the woman to “finish what she started”. Also consent is a yes given by somebody who is of age with the mental capability to give consent. 

And God help me if you are one of those “but you women say no when you really mean yes” people, please say it to my face. 

What’s going on in our society, what messages are we sending that say this is ok? From the over sexualization of young girls, to the adds we see everywhere that dehumanize and objectify women, to the college campuses more interested in protecting their reputations than the women who attend, the problems are many. And it’s not going to get better until we stop victim blaming and begin to address the real issues and place responsibility where it belongs. 

 

Identifying the Problem

Trigger warning: this piece discusses rape and sexual assault.

(This post will be the first in a series where we discuss some myths surrounding sexual assault and eventually some solutions.)

Someone said to me recently they felt that if a woman were going to report a rape, her name should be publicized, “after all, men’s lives can be ruined by these false accusations”, and though it triggered an immediate internal response, I decided to hear them out first, and then do a little research.

It turns out that according to the FBI only 2% of rapes reported are false accusations. That seems a relatively low number to me. But I can see how the public would feel like that percentage was higher since false accusations are much more likely to be reported than true ones. Given that the percentage of false reports is so low, this seems like a relatively unimportant issue to focus on. And yet, these stories are “exposed” as though we need to do some major reform on how we deal with the accused. I’m just not sure that’s what we need to be examining.

What does seem worth examining is- why is the number of stories reported vs actual instances is so skewed. Why is our culture much more apt to expose and accept stories that serve to protect the perpetrators of rape?

And why aren’t we more outraged at the statistics surrounding this heinous crime?

It could be because EVERY TWO MINUTES in America, someone is sexually assaulted. So maybe it’s just not news anymore. Or maybe it’s too personal. Either way, that seems like a problem worth focusing on.

What also seems like a problem worth focusing on- less that 39% of rapes are reported. (This number is in many expert’s opinions, very high, a better estimate is around 18%. And this does not include other incidents of sexual assault.) And in that small amount of rapes reported, there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will end up in prison. I wonder why we don’t hear more about this on the news.

Because there is a social stigma. Because our culture serves to protect the perpetrators more than the victim. Because when the story get’s out that a woman has been assaulted people begin to assassinate her character. They wonder about what she was wearing, (anti-rape nail polish?), and why she would put herself in a place or position to be raped. Because victim blaming is easier than acknowledging we have and epidemic problem. Because society would rather perpetuate myths than believe true horror stories about itself.

It seems to me that there are enough challenges when it comes to reporting rape.

And given the fact that 1 out of every 6 American women, and 1 in 33 American men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, I think we can safely say that there is a problem worth focusing on.

If this breaks your heart like it does mine, I would love to hear from you. This is not hopeless, there are many things, from awareness, to prayer, prevention and changing legislation that can be done. I’ll be starting a private group where we can share resources and stories and begin to change people’s minds and hearts about these tragic things.

Love and love.

*statistics provided in this article can be found at RAINN.org and TAASA.org

Six Ways to Help a Single Mama

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You guys probably know I was one for a while, and it was honestly wonderful when it wasn’t hellish. But this isn’t about me. It’s about the fact that there are tons of single mama’s out there and if we’re not careful we can surround ourselves with only people who look and live like us, and that would be really unfortunate. So, I’ve devised a list of six simple ways to be a friend to a single mama:

1. Call her just to ask how she’s doing, how her day went, what the kids are into, or what she might need prayer for or help with. They’re not all lookin for handouts, most of them aren’t. As a matter of fact, most single moms I know are hard working, strong, independent, faithful women. But they still need adult conversation, emotional support, someone to process things with and celebrate their victories alongside.

2. See if you can pick something up from the store for her. I’m not talking about stocking pantries and fridges, (though if you feel led to do so, go right ahead). I’m talking about grabbing a gallon of milk or some TP so she doesn’t have to load up all her kiddos in the car and march them around Wally World for two items. While you’re out, text your friend/single mama up and see if she needs anything. It’s a relatively easy way to let her know you’re thinking of her, but I guarantee it’ll be a huge help.

3. Invite her and her kiddos over for dinner. Again, this is not about charity, it’s about intentionality. I have definitely experienced the tendency married people have to only invite other married’s over. And it’s understandable that you want to have friends that you have plenty in common with. But divorce is hard enough without feeling like you’re not welcomed into married people’s houses/lives anymore without a spouse.

4. Babysit. This is a given, I know, and may not sound like the most fun- do it anyway. For the most part single moms will probably use up their childcare on important things like working and school. That doesn’t leave much room for free time and fun. Give her the evening off to go see a movie or wonder aimlessly around Target.

5. Encourage her. Compliment her. Ask God if He has a word for her. Tell her she looks pretty. For goodness sakes it’s not that hard. I’m not saying by any means that single moms don’t have any friends, but the amount of time they get to spend with other adults can be somewhat limited by their long to-do lists. An encouraging word from someone who really Sees them can turn a day or heck even a week around.

6. Offer to do something around the house, or have something done for her. Mowing the lawn, fixing leaky faucets, putting away all the laundry, changing the air filters… when you’re raising Littles on your own and working hard to support them, and most of the time, going to school too, these things get pushed to the back burner and can weigh heavy on a tired mama.

Pick one or five. Love on a friend and family that might be on the fringes. Treat a tired mama to a latte. And get to know her, because chances are she is stronger than strong, has a great sense of humor, and can offer a different perspective on life. And those are always great things.

Love and love.

learning

My name is not Survivor
It’s Free
My heart is not (pre)destined to be
Broken it’s not part of His plan
To leave me
A shell of a (wo)man

He fills to overflowing
every time I let Him
Tucks the hair behind my ear
and leans in

Close enough to whisper
Close enough to smell
Close enough to hold me
Knows me so well

Safe is ok for me to crave
He tells me
Quiet is good for my soul
The storms will not overwhelm me
I know now
In sharing He is making me whole

rest and balance… i hope

Joe sent me to the pool alone a couple of weeks ago. I needed peace and rest. And everything felt so heavy, you’d think I’d wanna hop in the water and let it lighten me a bit. But I didn’t. I wanted to soak up the sun.

I took a book I love, one I’ve read twice before, someone else’s heavy story, poems and redemption scattered throughout. I’m terrible at lightening up. The sun burned hot, my glasses slid down my sweat covered face repeatedly, the weight of my world and my heroine’s rested comfortably if not a little heavy on my shoulders. So maybe not the most restful or peaceful way to spend an afternoon off.

But then there were these two kids in the water… our neighborhood pool is quite large, but they chose my quiet little corner to play. Their parents were a few feet away, doing that kind of flirting that suddenly becomes socially acceptable because water. You know, half naked, legs entangled, hugging and laughing and whispering. This boy and girl though, both around five or six began violently baptizing (really just forcefully dunking) each other again and again, screaming “Son! Favah! Howey Spiwit!” between splashes and squeals of “wait wait! Lemme get my nose!”. And each time they finished their loud little ritual they would holler “KUMBAYA MY LAWD! KUMBAYA!”. And it. was. awesome.

Such a welcomed distraction from my well loved dark grey world that I walked around to the other end of the pool, the quiet end, and stepped in slowly, (when it comes to the pool, and only when it comes to the pool, I am not the jump right in type). I got in, went all the way under the clear blue water then treaded just enough to keep my head above it. I sat quiet in the shade, and I lightened up, and laughed at those crazy kids, admired their loving parents, sunk to the bottom a few times and let myself rise up effortlessly, my own sermon illustration.

Funny thing, to have to strive towards or be coaxed into lightening up. But irony of ironies, I am working on it. Because my shoulders do literally ache most days. I’m grateful for the sight and fight He put in me, more grateful for the empathy, and ever grateful for the bent He gave me towards action. Somedays require rest though.

A lesson I’ve been learning for a while. My eyes See, my heart feels, my hands search for things to hold and do. Somehow I’ve picked up this idea though, that seeing injustice is more important than seeing joy, that feeling grief is better than contentment, that hands working are greater than hands resting.

God help me, balance is not my strength. And this day holds no real significance for me, not a birthday or a new year, but I pray this day forward I can begin to love balance and not worship extremes. In the name of the Favah, Son and Howey Spiwit. Amen.

life right now

Lest you guys think I have fallen into some sort of negativity wormhole… Here are 10 things I’m lovin right now:

1) The way Joseph supports me in everything I do. He may not be perfect, but he is pretty freaking passionate about seeing me pursue my passions, and honestly that is like one of the sexiest things ever. (Ladies making wishlists- add “supportive” somewhere between “muscular arms” and “must like kids”.) Also? Love that he kisses me on the shoulder, because I mean really.  image Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

2) Wow do I love that my boys love school. Makes me wanna cry just typing it. We moved them to a more diverse school because, no joke, they asked for it. My thirteen year old started talking about white privilege last year, and my twelve year old was tired of being made fun of for his long hair. So they’re at a new middle school now and I get texts and smiling faces every day (so far) that it’s “flippin awesome!” So. Also, not gonna lie, I really love that they value diversity over sameness. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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3) My girls, and the way they value friendships. They have made lots of new friends lately, so fantastic. But also, they are both so good at maintaining and valuing old friendships. They write letters, they facetime, they run into friends they haven’t seen in months or years and hug their necks. It’s ridiculously wonderful. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

4) Eli’s vocab (and that face, gah!). Y’all he talks non stop. He loves books so much, but even when I’m reading he’s fitting all the words he can into each pause I take. He picks up about three new words a day. And his face, the way he lights up when he hears himself correctly pronounce a word, or when I repeat it back to him and he can tell I understand him? Heart. Melting.

5) Something I highly recommend everyone does: listen. Hear people. Ask someone out to coffee with the expressed purpose of hearing some of their story/ies. Just listen. Watch their eyes light up, laugh with them, hear their hearts. It’s amaze.

Other highly recommended things: Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

  • Sarah McLachlan’s new album “Shine On”. We saw her live last month (Best concert ever, and I’ve been to a lot of great concerts) then the hubs got this for me on vinyl. Check out “In Her Shoes”. Such good stuff. Music is Love.
  • Soy chorizo sausage from Trader Joes and corn tortillas. A busy breakfast lovers delicious dream. Bonus points if you add queso fresco.
  • Old Christmas lights instead of night lights in the kids‘ rooms. The girls are so in love with theirs.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Blonde hair and red lips. Nuff said.
  • Cotton maxi dresses with button-downs thrown on top for going into all these over-air conditioned places in Tejas. Way cuter than a hoodie, less mom-ish than a cardigan. When Fall finally comes along, add some booties and you’re good to go.
  • Getting to know Keri and Jeremiah Duckett. And their babies, my gosh. God is sweet is so generous to me in the friend department.

What about you? What are you lovin right now?

 

My Awesome Husband

It’s not even an anniversary or a birthday or anything. It’s just… I didn’t even know it was possible, but since Elijah’s arrival, I have grown to lean on and love this guy even more. And it’s my blog, so if I wanna go on and on about how much I love my Love(r), I will.

Know why I call him Captain Awesome?Uss

Because he gets up in the morning and helps Gracie pick out crazy clothes, and helps picky Emma pick a breakfast, and he hugs Gabe tight, and he talks and talks with Griff about things I don’t even know enough to carry on a conversation about. And because he is an incredible dad to Yusef, and he makes it his daily goal to spoil Elijah with cuddles and kisses and words. Because he happily runs our kids all over, and reads to them and tucks them in at night. He takes them to school while I sleep-in. He changes dirty diapers and does the dishes and organizes games of kickball with the neighbor kids. He cannot get enough of his tiny son, but that doesn’t take away from him playing with his other five. He disciplines them lovingly and counsels them and laughs at their jokes and protects them and guides them.

And because he pushes me to grow just as much as he enables me to rest. And he encourages me, and celebrates me. He makes me smile, and shake my head in the best way possible, he cracks me up. He loves me friends and he is my friend. He steadies me and surprises me. He gives so well, and he is learning to receive. He helps me, and he believes in me.

And he is wonderfully tall and dark and handsome. Also, his shoulders, his arms, his hands…Gosh. But also, he is driven and he is opinionated, and he is kind and tender. He is brilliant, so brilliant and so generous. He knows so much and he is learning all the time. He provides, and he knows Who his provider is.

He cares, enough to tell a bunch of guys that really needed somebody to care that he is there for them, every week, all the time.  And he takes care, of us, of me. And I didn’t even really know I wanted to be taken care of.  He teaches and he leads, our kids, and those guys, and me, (when I need it;). He is just the best man I know.

And when I was single-momming my four kids I never dreamed a man as great as him would be mine. And when I was a little girl, I never even knew to hope for half the things he is. And you guys, a million other things.

Just wanted you to know, again. My husband is awesome.