Sunday, October 6, 2013

Like mother, like daughter

Do you wanna know the best way to figure out your best and worst qualities?

Have kids.

I kid you not, I don't think there is any other way to truly show yourself your shortcomings in your life, than to watch your child do something and think, "where in the WORLD did that come from?!" only to realize moments later, "oh crap, s/he gets that from me!"

From the time Z gets up, until she goes to bed (and the brief intermission of nap time), she is going full speed. She hardly ever walks, she usually runs everywhere. This isn't always great for her because she inherited every bit of her mother's graceful nature, which means if there's a possibility she's going to trip over her own two feet, she's going to do it. This is great in ways because she entertains herself and usually lets me get some things done around the house and take care of Lily as she plays and runs, but is frustrating in ways because when there are times in the day when we have to stop, ie mealtime and diaper changes, you would think the world is ending. 

Eating is especially frustrating because it's probably the longest time of the day, beside her nap time, where she is required to be in one place for an extended period of time. She's by no means a picky eater, but she never wants to sit and eat. Put a bowl of strawberry slices on the ottoman for her to graze on as she plays and they will be gone in 5 minutes. Take the same size bowl and contents at the high chair, and its tantrum city. Refuses to eat them, not even a bite. Tells me "done" when she has eaten nothing and I know she's hungry. And finally, after 20 minutes of sitting in our chair trying to negotiate her way out, she finally gives in to eating, and eats everything. 

I will beg with her, plead for her to eat when we sit down, and there are days she flat out refuses. I have cried many times over the lack of food she consumes, or her refusal to eat anything except Cheerios. I have prayed over this several times, and one day that small voice of the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the head with a "Gee, sound familiar?" 

I am a very busy person. Nursing Lily has slowed it a little, but I typically tend to have things I "must do"  on a daily basis. I get the girls up, we come downstairs, I feed them (or try to), and then try to organize the kitchen somewhat, only to get overwhelmed with any number of dishes in the sink beyond what non-signing people can count on two hands. I then try to figure out lunch and dinner, along with doing laundry and trying to keep our house looking somewhat manageable. I am very bad, in all of this, to do the things I really "must do"- spend time with my Savior in prayer and Bible study, and do things to take care of myself (eat, shower, take a moment to rest when both girls are sleeping or occupied). And most days I find myself utterly exhausted.

If you were to come over to my house right now, you can see more often times than not, I fail miserably at balancing my "would like tos" and my "must dos."

Those moments of sitting and doing the one thing God calls me to- fellowship with Him, is so often glossed over because I can't be still for long enough to read His word and thank Him for everything in my life.

How often does my Savior pursue my heart, only to be met with my kicking and screaming of what I have to do today? How many days has He waited for me to sit with Him and have Him show me how much I'm valued, only to stress over the pile of laundry upstairs that I can't get to because there's a mountain of nonstick pans in the sink that must be hand washed? 

In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

He will give me rest. Not accomplishing the "to do" list of my day will give it to me. He will give it to me. But I must go to Him. I must be willing to set aside my pride of thinking I have it down, and find my rest in Him. And when I do go to Him, it doesn't matter if I get one thing done or the whole list of things I try to accomplish in that day- I find myself feeling much more rested and content than on the days I did not fellowship with Him. If you're anything like me, I pray that you will take time to rest with and in your Beloved.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why I chose a home birth

I am not a hippie. I am in no way a "granola" girl, as I like to put it. My daughter knows every show on the Disney Junior channel and isn't even two yet. We eat red meat, gluten, and Cheetos in our house because we think they are tasty. 

But I chose to have a home birth.
And a lot of people have asked me, "why?"

Well, here's my story. 

I did not have the best experience giving birth to Zoey in a hospital. The OB office I went to had several different doctors and nurse practitioners and never felt like more than just a file to any of them. In the last three months of our care, we were asked about circumcision for our son at least 10 times, and every time we had to tell them we were having a girl, they said "oh okay! We will put a note on your file and you won't be asked again." I was told I had high blood pressure, when really it wasn't as astronomical as they led me to believe. I was never given any advice on ways I could keep my numbers down, or to take it easy, I was just told I had high blood pressure. 

I was told at my 40 week checkup I needed to be induced that day because of my high blood pressure, then had to wait overnight in the hospital to get induced the next morning. I had specifically asked in the doctors office if delaying my induction for at least a day to see if my blood pressure would go down would be possible, and they doom and gloomed me into going that day because I needed to be induced right away. I was checked in, and then bed-ridden almost immediately. I was given medication to prep me for induction, less than an hour after- my water broke. After 20 hours of being at the hospital, and many drug injections (magnesium, pitocin, an anesthetic pain killer, and a semi-successful epidural, plus enough bags of IV fluid to make me swell up like a water balloon) Z baby made her debut. She was perfect, I was not. I felt sick, irritable, weak, and all around awful (not neccessarily how you want to feel when you're holding your firstborn for the first time). I wanted to eat, but was not cleared to eat because of my blood pressure (this is what I was told). After hours of begging the nurse staff to let me have something other than ice chips, I was finally allowed to have a liquid diet- something I had been cleared for a few hours prior, but since the birthing wing was so overloaded that weekend, I had gotten lost in the shuffle. Still not great, but at least it was something. I finally got released from the hospital two days after Zoey was born, still groggy from my drug cocktail, but I was glad to finally be going home. And felt like once I got home, I was able to rest much better and actually start recovering, especially since I wouldn't have someone waking me up every hour to take my vitals.

And once it was over, I knew that this was not the beautiful experience that I had pictured. At all. I felt like I had been through a major medical procedure that I had no control over, rather than a major life changing experience that I felt everyone told it would be. I was happy that Z was born healthy and that she was a thriving baby, but I felt like I could've given us both a much better experience of her coming into the world. So I researched birth facts and procedures. I talked to other friends who had babies. And when I found out I was pregnant with Lily, I researched more and prayed hard over the decision I felt God leading me to. 

I won't say that Andy was gung-ho about the idea of a home birth at first. It was a very long discussion about why I had chosen this, and why he wasn't included in this thought process. I admit, I did spring it on him, and I shouldn't have. I should have told him how I felt long before I did. But he agreed that we would go for a consultation at Sweet Child O Mine and we would pray about it, and would see from there. And while he still cracks jokes about us going to a witch doctor or being crazy hippies, he knows that the care and treatment I've received in the last 9 months has been more personalized and better quality than we ever received before. Our amazing midwife, Kim, knows our family quite well now. She always asks where Zoey is if we don't bring her with us to an appointment. Any complaints I've had, she's always had some sort of suggestion to help with that problem. The few times my blood pressure has been higher than normal, she's given me relaxation techniques and supplements I can take to help bring it down. She wants to know how things are going in our life. She knows about Andy's unemployment, and always asks if we've heard anything.  She asks how I'm doing with it. I feel like everyone in the office is part of our family. 

Lily's birth process was MUCH different than Z's was. I was able to relax at home. I walked around A LOT, especially since that seemed to keep everything more regular as far as my contractions went. I ate! I laughed with my friends Tara and Jessica- my AMAZING support team pretty much throughout my whole pregnancy and especially on our big day (and fellow midwifery users), who told me every step of the way how awesome I was doing, and kept up with the amazing wit of my hilarious husband. I felt great, despite every minute long contraction that would creep in and occasionally steal me of my ability to speak. I was cracking jokes and being silly well into the 8cm territory, something that was well out the window at 5 with Z. After my water broke though, that's when it got real.

I struggled in transition and with the pushing. Trying to get centered and push through the contractions was the hardest part of the whole thing, as I felt like there were times I had no break. I had some short breaks in my contractions where I prayed for God to give me strength I couldn't muster on my own. My amazing husband was by my side the whole time, other than to occasionally move out of the way so the birth assistant could check Lily's heartbeat. I gave birth to our sweet, second daughter in our bathtub. I felt relieved and amazed. One of the first things I did was look at Andy and say, "we did it!" He just looked at me and said, "no, YOU did it!" My heart overflowed with joy at the sight of Miss Lily Morgen as they laid her right on my chest after her arrival. My morning flower, born in the late night hour. I held her and praised God for bringing me through something that a few years ago I would have been terrified to do. When it was over- I was smiling, had energy to take a shower, and was happy. 

People have told me I am brave for having a home birth. I wouldn't call it bravery. I can think of plenty of women who are much braver than myself. Women who have more than two babies, women who go into the armed forces, women who somehow manage to balance full time work and a family (seriously- I don't understand how you do it). The only thing brave I see about what I did is that I stood up for myself and how I would be treated in giving birth. Home birth is a feared creature, for no reason other than its out of the traditional norms of today's society. Truth be told, I was scared at first. But after having so many friends who experienced it, and had such success and positive feelings about what had happened, I knew there had to something more to giving birth than being put in an uncomfortably small, unfamiliar room to do one of the most beautiful things in the world.

I still believe that there are people who can and do have beautiful experiences giving birth in hospitals. I know that home births are not for everyone, and there are some people who have greatly benefitted from the technology and medically necessary interventions found only in hospitals. But for our family, we now can't imagine doing it any other way. 

Lily: a symbol of purity, innocence, and beauty

Morgen: German descent, meaning "morning"
(My dads last name/should've been my maiden name is Morgenthaler- so Lily is named for him and for Andy's Grandpa Morgan as well) 


Saturday, August 24, 2013


"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

That's one of the questions I was asked in one of my first meetings with my guidance counselor when I moved down to Florida five years ago. It's a fairly common question, especially in things like guidance counselors offices, job interviews, etc. Quite honestly, I don't remember my answer. I was probably something superficial like "working a great interpreting job, living in a nice house, married to a great guy who works an awesome job, maybe a kid on the way." As if five years of life can be summed up in a nice concise answer.

I had no idea what God had in store for me five years ago, when He moved me half way across the country from my family. The only reason I could find when people who would ask me why I moved here was simple, "because God told me to." And believe me, I got strange looks. And I felt strange saying it. 

Now here I am, five years later. Working two part-time jobs, living in a townhome, married to a wonderful man of God who is currently unemployed, with my second baby due just any day really.

I won't ever tell you that the last five years have been easy. Truthfully, it has been the hardest five years I have experienced thus far. But I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything in the world. 

I moved down here in a relationship that was less than healthy for me, yet I clung to it because it was familiar. His family liked me, I had a safety net. Despite all the signs God gave me that this was not His plan for me, I held out. I doubted God would provide for me. I suffered. I finally ended things. And it was ugly. I grieved over the relationships I lost. I hurt over people not believing me as to why I ended things. I felt alone. But it was there that God provided. He provided me with comfort only He could give me. He gave me rest in the fact that I had done what was right, and what was best for me. He provided me with the prayer and support of my friends and family who told me, "you'll get through this."

And then He provided me with people. People like my future sister-in-law who the the week before Christmas said, "Hi, I don't really know you but Andy told me you aren't going to be able to go home for Christmas and you don't really have anyone to spend it with, so you're going to come stay with us. Oh by the way, I'm Amber- Andy's sister in-law." I fell in love with a family that was so ridiculously like my own that it scared me. I was interrogated over Christmas dinner. I answered every question about my life over a course of two days.  God had placed it on my heart soon after the end of my previous relationship that He would provide me with family. He exceeded my expectations. 

Had I listened to God the way I should've, if I had ended things in my previous relationship when I knew it was no good for me, I very much think things would've been different at the start of mine and Andy's relationship; less whispers of how he was just a rebound for me, no questions of Andy's true motives for our relationship. I felt the guilt. I was hurt by people I never thought would hurt me. Andy and I lost friends. But we knew where God was leading us. Those who knew us best supported us and prayed over us. They gave us love and advice. Their concerns were expressed with kindness and wisdom. We took it to heart. We prayed. A lot. We read God's Word together, and separately.

And then we got married. And we still do all those things, but to even greater lengths still. 

But marrying into ministry is an overwhelming experience. There are many great things, and not so great things I've learned. The role of a pastor's wife is not something I ever expected myself to take on,  and it is definitely the hardest role to balance, especially because I'm not one who's the best at holding my tongue.  We've had some wonderful experiences leading worship on several different occasions together, writing music together, writing a musical together (that was technically during the engaged phase), and being involved in student ministry and helping with childrens ministry on occasion. I've fallen asleep on our couch numerous times waiting for him to come home from working late, or a church event he had worked. I saw people take him for granted and heard people tell him "well you're not a real pastor." My heart broke as I watched the way some people who were looked up to would treat others, would talk about others, would do to others. I prayed for God to heal the injustices, to right the wrongs, to convict and redeem hearts (and still do). I held it all in when all I really wanted to do was cry. I held my husband's hand on his last day of ministry at a church he had grown up in.  I prayed over my husband's decisions. I stood by his choice to turn down a job that meant security because it wasn't where God was leading us, despite what some people said about that decision. I've watched him grow more in the last six months than I could ever imagine, and I've never been more proud of the man of God I married.

I also became a mother barely a year after Andy and I were married, and that in itself is an overwhelming ministry!! The struggles have been more than I could expect, and the blessings are sweeter than I could have ever asked for. Every high pitched, ear-piercing squeal of defiance that frustrates me to no end, is matched by a sweet snuggle and kiss from my smiling little angel and melts my heart. There have been nights where all I've done is cry and watch the monitor as she struggles to get back to sleep, and there are days filled with so many giggles and smiles I don't want nap time to come. And I'm terrified for our new bundle of joy to arrive, but I'm beyond ecstatic for the blessings I know can only come from sweet little babies. 

So where do I see myself in five years from now? I'm not really sure, but I know God has a plan for me. I pray im still married to my amazing man of God (hopefully employed by then), raising two wonderful little princesses into women of God (and done with diapers). Probably still working two jobs, because let's face it, I'll work at the Disney Store until we move somewhere that doesn't have one within 100 miles of it, and being a freelance interpreter is something I do enjoy if only for the fact of the flexible hours on some days. But I know that God has so much in store for my family than I could sum up in some interview question, or even a blog post. :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ode to the Yaris

It drove me out of my senior year, and almost into the birth of my second child. 

It has made several road trips from Illinois to Florida and vice versa. Countless trips to Nashville, St Louis, and almost across the entire state of Missouri for one interpreting test have been made within its tiny little bubble of car. It also has made a rough estimate of about 15 concert trips and 20 Disney trips.

And July 11, the Yaris took its final trip with me to be traded for a minivan. 

To be quite honest, I never thought I would have an emotional attachment to a car. Just not my thing really. However, the closer I moved into adulthood and parenthood, the more I realized just how much of my life had happened in that car. I had picked that car out myself after a town cop had totaled my first car. And, yes you read that right- cop rear ended a Buick who rear ended me, and I rear ended a truck just enough for his trailer hitch to go through my front bumper and into my radiator. And the truck had not a scratch on it. Someone had told me, upon getting the Yaris, that it looked like a little blue goldfish driving down the road, and the name Goldie stuck as a pet name. Clown car, jellybean, blueberry, and a few others were given by other people I knew, but I ignored most of those. 

In that car, I learned a lot about myself, where God was leading my life, developed one of the most important friendships I'd ever have, prayed over some of the biggest decisions that would change my life's directions entirely, and listened to a broader variety of music in in that most people do in a lifetime. More memories than I can fathom have been made with this car.

This was mine and Andys first married car- as in, the only vehicle we had in our first year of marriage (his died shortly before our wedding). We drove off into the sunset to our honeymoon in this car (that was one of several Disney trips that was aforementioned). Even after Andy and I acquired the HHR just weeks before Zoey was born, I knew my days with the Yaris were probably limited- that the girl who drove that car off the Marion Toyota lot all those years ago, had grown up and would not have a life where keeping it would be practical. I cherished every day I drove it to work at the Disney Store or interpreting. In the 6 years of owning it, I never had a single problem with it. But flash forward almost two years later with a second baby on the way, having a second car with four doors has become much more practical than having one small car with four doors, and one smaller car with two. 

So we found a van. We made a deal. And as the rain poured outside, we signed the Yaris away with a prayer it would find someone who would love her as I loved her. She managed to keep us from having a car payment on two cars at once, her final nudge to take care of me, even though she was worth more than the man at the dealership ever considered offering us for her. 

And while I love our new-to-us gold minivan, with its automatic opening doors and stow and go seating with lots of space for new memories and stories, I can't imagine loving it any more than I ever loved my Yaris. 

(From the day I brought it home)

Unless Andy installs the monorail "please stand clear of the doors..." spiel for the van. Then I might.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Yeah, I know...

I know what most of you are thinking, "don't you already have like two blogs?" Yeah, I know.

But I locked myself out of them because I can't remember the password. And the email address I used for those is no longer valid. I haven't used it in forever so it has expired. Or if it hasn't, I don't remember the password for it, and I can't figure out a way to get back into it. Too much work, and its just much easier to start a new one.

So yes, here it is.
I don't have much to say, but I figured I would explain the title of my blog.

I'll preface it with this, I'm a huge Andrew Peterson fan. His music is awesome. If you haven't heard of him. I insist you go and look him up. Amazing storyteller. Seriously. And he's a native Illinoisan turned Florida transplant. Like me. So that's cool.

Anyway, he has this really awesome song called The Good Confession. It's a song that every time I hear it, it breaks me. It's simply his testimony put into song. And it's beautiful, but the bridge is probably my favorite part:

"All I know is that I was blind but now I see that though I kick and scream, Love is leading me.
 And every step of the way his grace is making me; with every breath I breathe, he is saving me."

Though I kick and scream- Love is leading me. 

My daughter is about 20 months old. There are days when she has fits because I won't let her do things she's not supposed to do. Things that are potentially dangerous at times, like climb the stairs and venture out without holding mommy's hand. So I pick her up and carry her, and she kicks and screams (sometimes bites, that's a relatively new thing). She doesn't quite get that I'm doing it for her protection, because I love her. And some days it baffles me. 

But then I turn around, and do the same things. 

God protects me from the things that will bring harm to me. And I fight it at times, and question, and kick and scream (quite often crying) and wonder why God would keep me from something that I think I want so badly. But He is leading me. In love. With protection. He knows better than I do. He knows what that I think I want is no good for me, so he keeps me from it, no matter how bad I think it may be at the time.

So this blog is my journey: as a mother, as a wife, as a woman of God. The hilarity and the heinous, the terrifying and the tender. As I kick and scream, whether in laughter or struggle, through this crazy ride, I hope you can relate maybe even a little, or be encouraged by what I can manage to type in the little time between Z's bedtime and mine. :)