The Birth of Ivy

I felt the tug of death so strong in the last year…
I realize that’s an odd way to begin a birth story but I can’t untangle life and death; they’re ever entwined, tussling and rolling around like teenage boys in a heated wrestling match. J mentions it too in his (exquisite) letter but suffice it to say, Ivy’s birth bookmarks both end and beginning for us.

We found out tiny she was swimming in my womb just a few short months after a devastating miscarriage that took not only a baby we adored already, but nearly me (thanks to a short hospital stay and a couple of blood transfusions I’m fine but recovery was a big part of the mess that was our life last year.) But there she was, our eighth little one, 10 weeks new on a fuzzy black and white screen, arms and legs steadily dancing along to the beat of her own heart. I can’t… I still… we never saw our little Olivia’s legs move, nor heard her heart beat. So when we saw Ivy on that screen, a week or so after we’d seen that second little pink line that sent us reeling, just… tears and smiles. And disbelief.

The pregnancy was lovely but the loveliness of it if I’m honest, scared the shit out of me. We saw her dance on screens four more times and I was still scared to death she’d never make it eyes open and breathing into my arms. It was Grace for sure that I was well, but I’d never actually produced another life without months and months of debilitating sickness. Knowing for sure this was our last though, I tried to enjoy it. I cherished her little hiccups, kicks and flips, documented regularly my ever-swelling belly, and threw my heart and soul into preparing our home for her arrival.

God speaks to me pretty regularly but as you may have heard me say before, I don’t always listen right away. Luckily without fail He finds a way to get through to me though. This time that looked like our babygirl kicking around inside me for what seemed like an eternity (10-14days) past my due date (my poor midwife, I was relentless, we tried all the tinctures and remedies and positions and… everything). Around day 12, I stopped trying things and just let Him have it, I told Him everything He already knew, and tried to listen (how many times have my kids done that to me?). We both took some deep breaths and sighed a little, (yes He sighs at me, not in exasperation but in that soft and knowing way parents do sometimes when their kids are pouring themselves out emotionally).

Then one night a day or so later, around 3am, Ivy decided she was definitely on her way into our arms. We alerted midwife and family, and I braced myself for the fast-paced roller-coaster that was Eli’s birth, but that never came. Eventually we got the hint that this was going to be entirely other, and settled in to the peace and quiet that was the labor of our newest Love. Just Joe and I at first, (with the absence of me loudly groaning and moaning like I’d done every time before, the kids slept easily upstairs). Lynette came after a while and sat quietly in the corner. (In case I’ve never thanked you for sitting quietly in that corner the whole time and trusting me to labor on my own, no checking, no unnecessary directions, no demanding or even nudging, just simple but powerful grace and trust… Lynette, you are meant to be a midwife, my friend.)

And Joseph… goodness it had been a year, aye babe? But none of that mattered that night (or maybe all of it did…) You never went far, you rocked and swayed, attentive and loving, tuned into my pain and my needs and my heart, you rubbed my back, brushed the hair out of my face and whispered sweetly everything I needed to hear. And when I needed you to, you let me be without leaving my side. I rocked in my chair a good long while, eyes closed praying and hoping but truly still disbelieving Everything would be Okay.

Labor was short enough, a good four hours of our baby making her way through me, just painful enough to make it really real. Then it was time to push, and I can’t tell you how much I really did not want to. Not out of exhaustion, just plain old terrible fear. I just… listen if you hold a tiny baby in your hands that never took a breath once it will make you doubt even as a kicking and twisting little one barrels their way out into this world. So Joe stood by my side as we got ready to meet our girl and tears of fear and grief ran together down my face. And even as my body began to push, I feared holding another lifeless baby.

He was supposed to catch Ivy, our Papa Bear. We talked about it plenty, how much he loved catching Eli, being the first to lay hands on his boy. But I couldn’t let him go. I needed him, his strong hands around mine, his kind eyes locked on mine. And so he stayed.

Lynette leaned in a little closer and said something incredibly encouraging, and I decided to trust too, to hang onto the truth a little tighter that God is good. I leaned in to the pain and pushing my body already new well and prepared as much as I could to meet her. But you can’t prepare yourself to meet your baby. It is entirely impossible in any and every scenario. When that squawking little cry breaks into the earth the first time, it is otherworldly, the most real representation of heaven coming to earth that I know.

Ivy came. At 7:30 in the morning she came, just as the sun rose up in the sky and our bedroom lit up golden and bright. She drew breath on my chest, blink blinked away until her clear grey eyes opened, looked up at us and latched on to me immediately, undeniably alive, here, with us, Ours.

And she is a bundle of peace and joy, evidence that God is a show-off, gosh she’s gorgeous, and Loved. She is so Loved.

Listen, this I know- There are hard, hard things. But God is good. And that doesn’t always look like a new baby but it does always look like New Life.

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(a special thank you to my mom and sisters for coming to welcome our babiest girl, a huge thank you to Alisa for taking these photos, and another huge thank you to Donna Miller for being the best birth assistant ever).

And in case you are not already crying, here is Joseph’s letter to Ivy:

Ivy, my sweetest and most precious girl,

I could not begin to tell you what we were going through when we heard about you: death of my father, my grandmother, your Momma’s grandfather, and the passing away of your sister, Olivia.

These storms and the pains that we were going through in our own heart and souls tested the mettle of your Momma and Papa’s marriage and relationship and shook the foundation of our family to the bedrock.

Before we knew of you, it was dark. Joy was fought for and sometimes never won.

By announcing you, God reminded us that He is not far yet closer than a whisper. He promises hold infinitely true: eternal past, present and for the eternal future. He revealed that He has infinite mercy for us. He put on the most powerful display that we are indeed His kids and He is our Father in heaven. (Hosea 2:14-23)

He sustained us through your first three months in Momma’s tummy when we were so anxious about you making it since it wasn’t even a year ago that we lost your sister during the same trimester.

But even through the first half of you growing in the womb, your Momma never fell ill. Never got sick. Never got weak. With all of your brothers and sisters, well, it was a different story. We thought for sure your Mom would be too sick to even get out of bed or keep any food or water down. Nope. She was alive, happy, and strong. God is so good He heals and restores.

Not only does He heals and restores the body but He went to work on my soul and our relationship. He began the work to heal my mind, heart, and soul and did the same for your Mom. In that, he gave confidence and peace to our family when there was none before.

And just like your brother, Eli, you were strong. Kicky and squirmy. And just like your Bubba, you stayed in your Mom weeks past what we thought was your due date. Smh. That might have been a mere indication—maybe even a prophecy—that you two were to be as thick as thieves. And by the Bub’s sweetness on you, I say that indication is coming to past.

But no matter how late you were, we knew that you couldn’t stay in your Mom’s tummy forever :) We knew you would get here. We knew we would be holding you soon.

And just like the pregnancy, your arrival was just as sweet. You woke us up at 3 am. It was time. Calls to your midwife, Lynette, were made. Texts to our family and friends were sent. Your Ganna, Amanda Panda, and Alisa Pizza were on their way to help with everything.

Unlike the Bubs, we were able to take our time preparing our room for your arrival. No rush. No fuss. Breakfast made. Coffee poured. Siblings chilling.
And then you arrived. I was so ready to catch you just like I did before with Eli but your Momma didn’t want me to leave her side. I looked at her and was overwhelmed by her powerful love and gracious heart and breathtaking beauty. I thought about the incredible struggle and pain she felt in our marriage and in our lives to this point and we are still together. I decided I wasn’t going to leave her side. Not now. Not never.

Beside, Lynette was a pro. You were going to be in great hands until you could get to your Momma.

The moment you arrived: it was all the joy. The happiness. The sweet relief. The bliss. It was everything I could ever feel in one moment in time. I felt like cheering and yelling to celebrate your life and everything that the Lord has done in us and for us.

And I couldn’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt because my grin was ear to ear.

Unlike your brother’s arrival, which was fast and furious, yours was what at one time what I called, “normal”, but that’s not it. Looking back, your birth was just like everything else your announcement brought: peace, calm, and joy.

And your Momma. She never looked as beautiful as she did when she was able to hold you for the first time. She was all the love and joy and happiness and gladness that her little heart could hold and being poured out on you.

I remember her cheeks and my cheeks were streaming with tears as I leaned over and kissed her deeply. I remember touching her face and looking into her gorgeous blue eyes and thinking to myself, “We made it!” God is so dang good to us.”

In the midst of an incredible storm in our lives, God sends you here. In so many ways, you are God’s mercy and healing for your Momma. You are God’s peace and restoration for our family. You are my prettiest and a joyful reminder that God is so mindful of me and He loves me so much.

That’s why I kiss you with my very prickly lips a hundred times a day. That is why I dive my nose into your neck smelling your sweet baby smells. That’s why I don’t want our conversations to end. You are the best reminder of who God is and what he has done for us.

I love you, my most gorgeous girl. You are my sweetest. My sweetest sweet. My Happiest Girl. My yin to Bub’s yang.

I will always love you. I will always protect you. I will be there to make you laugh and hold you tight when you cry. And I will fight for you, and us, and we, and me until my very last breath.

You mean the world to me. I thank God that you are a part of our lives forever.

I love you, Sweet Girl

Love for life,

Papa

Ivy

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Ivy,

Sweetest girl, if I’m quite honest I really didn’t believe you were real, you were mine, til I held you that first time. Despite all four sonograms, all your mighty kicks and flips, and all the healthy heartbeats your midwife broadcast from my big belly- my silly, slightly cynical heart stayed in disbelief all the way through labor actually. Even as you made your way out into this world, (a story I’ll tell another time), I needed reassurance from our birth team that you were in fact coming, here.

And now here you are. Tiny beautiful you, laid back, sweet little you. And our family is complete.

It’s been a week (yes, already), since you joined us, and yes already, we can see some of your little personality. You’re full of peace (when your tummy is full), and full of wonder. I’ve never known a newborn to spend so much time quietly awake, alert but calm, and happy as a clam to be passed around from one beaming, excited sibling to the next.

Also? My goodness you are beautiful. You were born long and lean, with olive skin, lots of hair and dark blue eyes, a lovely mix of pretty much everyone in our little tribe. But I will concede you look most like your Papa, strange as it might be that such a tall, dark and handsome man makes such a gorgeous babygirl.

Ivy love, maybe your little heart already knows, but we lost a baby before we had you. I talked to God many times about how I didn’t want you to be a replacement. I didn’t want you born with some responsibility to make us whole. And He made sure that you weren’t. He even gave us a little extra time, two whole weeks, to lean on Him and let Him do that work before you got here, (and I’m quite sure He’ll continue it).

So you are free, Babygirl. You are free to be you, free to be loved and free to love. So many people are so smitten with you already. Your Papa though… I think he might be daily overwhelmed with how much he loves you. Eli too, goodness he adores you. We all do of course, it makes my heart swell to know that you, my little bird, have this safe, loving little nest to grow in, and learn to fly.

In your first week, Our Sweet Ivy, I hope, I believe, that you feel how safe and cared for, how wanted, seen and loved you are. The house sort of radiates with love and peace since you got here. The days have been filled with quiet grace and joy, I’m sure you know this hasn’t always been the case, quiet isn’t usually our forte. (And it probably won’t always be.) But goodness thank you for bringing with you all this peace and warmth.

Thank you for your squawking cries and sleepy smiles. Thank you for being snuggly, lovey, easy going, beautiful, bright eyed and strong. Thank you, my little bird, for being you. Promise that’s all we’ll ever ask.

Love and love,
Mama

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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

Tisheana and Baby Z’s New Beginning

We met her a week ago, Church. A carseat had to be donated that first day so we could take her and her babygirl out to lunch. She sat bent over and crying telling us about how she’d borrowed clothes that morning so she could wash her one set of clothes before she came to meet us.

Over the course of a couple of hours we learned her story- a single mama who’d been denied any child support since she caught the father of her baby doing drugs and told him she didn’t want that around her baby. No child support meant she couldn’t afford to keep the room she and her babygirl had been renting. And so she went to her own father’s house, a trailer where he and twelve of his twenty one kids lived. Needless to say it was too crowded, but staying with her mom, a longtime cocaine user and dealer, was not an option either. Our friend ended up staying with her baby-daddy’s mother in an also crowded house, but the smoking there, and the fact that the father of her baby would often show up, only to ignore the presence of his daughter and the mother of his child made it all but unbearable.

We met her because finding the only shelter she could meant moving two cities away, which meant missing appointments she needed to keep her little bit of government assistance going, and subsequently having them cut off, and running out of formula for the baby. We met her because her cousin called Mrs. Amy Ford to see what the Church might be able to do. We met her when she was a little hopeless. But we met her because God.

We offered her a warm bed in a safe room on the west side of Fort Worth, and she considered it on the drive to my house. And then we learned about her sisters. “I can’t be that far away from my little sisters. They’re not safe with my mom.” My heart broke, because oh do I know that feeling. (And yours did too, Church, because not one person questioned, and many gave) But then we learned just how close she was to making it, Church. She had a job before she lost her room. She had enough income to make it, just not enough to get back on her feet. And she was in school before she lost her room, trying to get an education, set an example for her sisters and make a better life for her and her babygirl (Have I mentioned the babygirl? Most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen.)  IMG_9530.2So she had sisters, a job and an education in progress in Dallas, the plan quickly changed from getting her to a room in Fort Worth to finding *them* a home in Dallas. We contacted area churches about housing and got the name of a small complex where a pastor and his wife had just moved in to help build community, and low and behold they were having a pretty phenomenal move-in-special. We believed then, that God had a home for her, and we were going to get to help provide it.

This was still the first day, a couple hours after we met her, but she was sitting across my living room when I got off that call and she smiled, my goodness her smile, she’d heard me say “two-bedroom” a couple of times and quietly exclaimed “My sisters can stay with me?!”, I still get tears thinking about it… I stayed on the phone most of the afternoon, taking calls too coordinate donations and strategize, and within a couple of hours we had enough to make more than the first months rent. As the sun set, we wrapped up our time together with a whole lot of hope and a little bit of trembling. I dropped her off with the promise of picking her up the next day to get to the government offices she needed to to reconcile all of her paperwork and responsibilities to get her funds back to where they needed to be. She went home smiling that smile but still pretty unsure any if this was really gonna pan out.

Before I got dinner started for my family the first day, I put up a little Facebook status with a few basic needs for an apartment. And before dinner was on the table, you Church, had gleefully fulfilled at least half her needs. Couches, beds, tables, diapers, clothes, linens, so many things, given so freely, so lovingly. All kinds of beautiful.

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She texted me the morning of day two to see if I was still coming, if yesterday had really happened, if the plans for that day were still on. Yes, yes, yes. I picked her and we scrolled through my facebook status and cried over drive-through donuts at your incredible generosity. “I’ve always known God was good, I just didn’t know there were people out there who cared, especially about me” she said, in shock.

The third day, Church, we went to look at her new home, because you had donated over and above her needs for rent and deposit, and all the furnishings were coming together, from all over the metroplex, from at least five different churches, from people’s neighbors and aunts and friends. The third day she put down her deposit on her new place. Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 8.01.24 AM

The next few days were spent gathering things, scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs, and spending some of the gift cards that you all donated. I have never seen someone so happy to be in Wal-mart, y’all. “The first thing I’m gonna buy is food, my own food. And some socks” she beamed. And as I dropped her off that afternoon, “Would y’all let me pay y’all back? So maybe you can help somebody else?” I grinned and said “maybe”, trying hard not to cry for the millionth time that week.

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Finally on Saturday, just five days after we met her, she got the keys to her new home. We dropped her off with a few boxes to bask in the glow of her new home while we made the first haul from Dallas to Fort Worth and back with a few helpers and a few stops in between. And Saturday night, Church, just five days after we met this mama with no home, who just needed to know people out there cared, especially about her, we said goodnight to her, her babygirl and her sisters, in their safe new home with warm beds.

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Yesterday and today have been spent getting her the last few things she needs for the apartment, and just marveling at what you’ve done, Church.

God is so good, and so faithful. And He used you this week, because you let Him. He used you to shine your Light. He used you to wrap His arms around His daughters. And I got to watch it.

There are not enough thank you’s in the world- everyone who gave and prayed and helped and sent and… everything.

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Love. And. LOVE.

P.S. God has been so incredibly gracious, that there is now a car being donated. It does need a little work, so if your heart is moved to give towards that, contact me please.

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