Our November Baby: When grief and peace kiss.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t grown spiritually at all since becoming a mom. Actually, usually I feel dumber. Mushy-brained. I think back on my “glory days” and my ability to sling theology better than my seminary husband (his words, not mine!). Now on my best days, I can maybe remember the sermon from Sunday or the psalm I read that week, but can’t remember the last podcast I listened to or non-mommy book I read. Sometimes people use those big words that used to roll off my tongue so naturally, and have to really think about what that word means. I about gave up caring about sanctification all together until recently, when God revealed all that he was doing in the silent, mundane days of quiet faithfulness…

I experienced my second miscarriage in March. I was about 7.5 weeks along and we had JUST announced the pregnancy to EVERYONE that week. After my first miscarriage (in 2011), I didn’t want to keep my early pregnancy a secret. A life was a life and I wanted to celebrate my tiny, tiny babe in a pro-choice world that typically doesn’t acknowledge pregnancy until a heartbeat is heard or a bump emerges. I wanted to share that there was nothing to be afraid of. I knew that if I were to suffer a miscarriage, it would be an opportunity to share the hope I have and that women don’t have to feel ashamed or pretend that their baby didn’t exist. God answered my prayer and I was not afraid when I saw the first signs of loss. This being my second miscarriage, I knew exactly what to expect: I knew those lower back contractions beforehand, I knew what I would see during, I knew how I would feel after. There was so much calm surrounding the birth of this tiny, lifeless baby. I was able to focus in prayer, pleading and trusting that the Father was holding my child safe. I felt so honored that God allowed me to witness life and used me to bring another into the kingdom. There was just so much peace and so much assurance. Since I have two children, sadness was definitely different this time. Instead of grieving the unknown, you grieve the known. I knew the laughter and the sound of their voices and the sweet snuggles and all the milestones: things I would miss out on with this little one. But God was so good and comforted me in the sadness and has continued to be good to me since. I realized how Jesus has been growing my dependance on him and my faith in his word over the years. He shepherded me into a response that was so different than my response 3 1/2 years ago, and I am so thankful. Everyday, the Lord is continuing to align my heart with his and giving me a deep-rooted hope in his promises. It’s getting me thru each day way more than the definition of “Expiation” ever did. Praise God.

“Its been 11 days since we lost our November 2nd baby. Grief makes the days slower I think, so it feels longer than 11 days. But to the rest of the spinning-round world I’m 9 weeks pregnant. We still get lots of “congratulations!” or comments on the need for a minivan, and I entertain them for a second, saying “Thank you,” because I genuinely am so thankful for their celebration. (In an age where most of the world won’t attribute life and value to a baby the size of a blueberry, I praise God for the joyful response we got at the announcement of our teeny tiny babe.) But of course I have to gently correct them and assure them not to feel bad. How can you know to be sensitive in this sort of situation? And I assure them that we are doing ok, but usually there is so much more that is encompassed by the words, “we’re doing ok.” I want to tell them how we are so thankful for the life that God created and that we witnessed. I want to tell them how honored I feel that, even though I don’t get to be “mommy,” God used me to add another to the kingdom! I want to tell them how empty we felt when we dug a small hole to bury the one we were so excited to meet. And how we mourn not experiencing the joys of raising him or her. And I want to share how so many grieved with us. Watched our boys. Provided us with meals when I felt too numb to cook. Because its really true: we celebrate in community and we mourn in community. And I want to say how so very thankful I am today. Next Sunday is a reminder that our savior stands in victory over death and none shall be taken from his hand. Even my tiny blueberry is safe because of the Firstborn’s sacrifice. What is sown in weakness, is raised in the power of God! And so as I pack away the few special items I got for baby in the earliest days, I remember my hope, and its not here. And I remember my sovereign God, who is so good to me. Come and see what the Lord has done for us!” (March 29, 2015)

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It’s a…

1234823_2411009201378_1008532139_nBOY! AGAIN! We are thrilled that Jackson will be a big bro!

Today we waited all day to open the sealed ultrasound envelope and to eat our pink or blue filled cupcake baked by our friend, Jenny. After our dinner at Voltaire, this FANCY restaurant on Frankfort Avenue, we cut into our cupcake to find BLUE icing! All along I had wanted a girl, but now I can’t imagine it any other way. Jack and Will are going to be bros for life!

Will is named after many men in his life! Kevin, Kevin’s dad, and my dad all have “William” as a middle name. We are choosing to just call him “Will.” Will’s middle name is Timothy. We picked “Timothy” after Timothy in the New Testament, Paul’s best friend and co-laborer in ministry. We are praying that Will and Jack, whose middle name is “Paul,” will model their brotherhood after this pair.

Soon after Jack turns one, we will be practicing the transition to a “big boy bed,” which is just a mattress on the floor. We are taking 4-5 months with this process, to ensure that we are not rushing him. The hope is that once Will is sleeping through the night, he and Jack will share a room!

We can’t wait to be a family of 4 and to see these sweet boys grow up together! Pray for health for mama and baby in these upcoming months!

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A friend for Jack & a listening, sovereign God.

Jackson has something to say!!

We’re pregnant with baby #2!!

So let me start from the beginning…

When Kevin and I started discussing family plans, we decided to make a decision once my cycle started back up again from nursing. My supply went down when Jackson was 4 months, and then unfortunately was empty at 8. All that time I waited and waited for my period. It never came. (Awesome, right?!) Kevin wanted another baby ASAP, I at least wanted Jack to be walking. But before we even had the chance to compromise, God decided for us! I found out I was pregnant in May!

I was surprised and apprehensive at first… (how was I going to do this with a nearly 9-month-old!?) but then my apprehension turned into joy! I couldn’t wait to meet this baby and I imagined all the fun Jackson would have growing up with a sibling only 16 months behind him! We had an ultrasound to see when my due date would be and discovered that on January 21st, 2014 that tiny little blob with a beating heart would enter our world!

Having had a miscarriage in 2011, we were slow to tell people, even family. Because of that sensitivity, we wanted to wait til my first OB appointment at 11 weeks. But I couldn’t very easily fool my friends by sneaking Sprite into my champagne glass at Steph’s wedding or by ordering a coke and vodka (hold the vodka) at the bachelorette party. I eventually caved and told some close friends who committed to praying for us.

Thankfully they were, because at 9 weeks I started having some bleeding. It was heavy and red at first, and I knew I was having a miscarriage. All the signs were there. I laid down and cried, asking friends to pray, and praying to God that he would stop the bleeding. I knew that prayer and God’s sovereignty were somehow intermingled, but I had never personally experienced  God changing his direction of an event in response to my prayer. But I prayed anyway. I knew God was powerful enough to stop me from having a miscarriage. Hours later, the bleeding stopped. Did God have mercy on me? Did he respond to my prayers?

I continued having light spotting, nothing that my doctor was worried about, but enough to keep me praying….

And then yesterday at 11 weeks, we went to the doctor. She put the monitor on me and immediately we heard a fast, beautiful heartbeat. It was such a sweet sound. All I can do is praise the God who saves. He saved our baby from death thus far, and he answered my prayer. I don’t know what his initial plan was, if it was miscarriage or not, but I do know that God loves me and he chose to give us a great gift! I am so excited.

And so is Jackson!

when life is flat, it’s testing ground!

Before I had a baby, I pictured stay-at-home-mom-life as a season where I would joyfully nurture my children with undivided attention, meanwhile preparing them nutritious kid-sized lunches cut into little shapes, keeping my home clean, and sitting down with my bible during naptime everyday. I would use my other naptime creatively–discipling a younger girl, for example. Honestly, I didn’t, and still don’t, think this picture was too unattainable. But I’ll be honest… this is nowhere close to what my days look like.

Most days I fail to have a quiet time. I give Jack whatever food that I can find in the fridge that seems semi-nutritious. And most of his naptimes are spent watching a show on netflix. Even when he is awake and playing, I’m checking Instagram as I watch him scoot around. The only thing that is pretty consistent with my former vision of motherhood is the clean house–and that’s just because I’m a psycho.

Most days, my failed expectations of myself make me feel so hopeless that I feel stuck and unable to be with the Lord. I look back on my glory days of Mcdonald’s quiet times where I dug through the Word and books. Even on days when I think, “today is the day I will begin a routine!” I feel like I’m too far gone.

Today was not one of those days. We had to leave Sojourn after serving at the 9am because Jack was having a meltdown. I was determined to have “church” myself during naptime. The time was so refreshing. While I read, I came across this in 1 Peter:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

All along I have felt like I am in a “flat” season. But in fact, this season is a trial! My walk with the Lord does not look like it used to, and it can not! It must evolve. I have to push though the temptation to have “me” time when my baby is finally sleeping. I have to pray though the same ol’ miniscule needs that I pray everyday. I have to remind myself that the disaster zone of a house can wait til later. I need to sit down and go to my God! And only then, will my faith prove genuine. This is not a “flat” season–this is a TESTING SEASON! And when I come out on the other side, my life will be found to result in praise and glory and honor in knowing my Jesus.

 

On an end note, as I was praying for the Lord to transform my walk with Him in this particular season, I came across this from Steph’s blog:

I know that my time with the Lord is going to continue to evolve. I have to learn to embrace the fact that my time with Him isn’t just part of a checklist that I can use to feel better about myself and that there’s no formula for it. If I take that approach, I’ll always fail. The Lord desires for me to find justification in Him alone. It’s rarely convenient to carve out that time and it will look different in all stages of life, but it’s worth fighting for because as John Piper says, “Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.”

Amen! That’s a good word right there, Steph!

Renaissance Church: Will you pray for us?

Here is the video that was just completed which documented our friends, Rob and Lauren, as they moved to plant a church in Pittsburgh, PA.

We joined the Maines, along with 2 other couples that we are close with, to scheme and pray forward this church plant for the past year. Since January we have been seriously considering moving with them, instead of just being financial supporters and praying from afar.

Please pray for us as we consider this option for our lives. We both feel a call, but saying “yes” means great sacrifice. It means not moving home to be near my parents and it means not raising our children alongside our longtime friends and church family at the Oaks. It means committing many years and laying down roots there.

Also, will you pray for our friends? Rob and Lauren and the Binkowski family have recently moved, and many have joined their core team already! Praise God! They hope to begin launch services in the Fall. Pray that their team grows, that the Holy Spirit would give them influence in the city, and that they would receive the financial funding they need.

crying out to god when life is flat?

Since I got married and moved to Louisville, my life has been very spiritually flat. No peaks, no valleys…just day-to-day, life. Working, making dinner, making friends, serving at church, changing diapers, feeding Jack. Sometimes marriage is hard. Often I am overjoyed by beautiful moments as mother. Many days I am just so tired I could cry. Life brings with it a whole range of emotions and experiences! But besides my miscarriage last year, nothing has really caused me to cry out to the Lord or cling to the cross. Likewise, nothing has really lit a fire in me to study the Word. Life just feels flat. No drama. No overwhelming trial or sin struggle.

Not like college anyway. My most formative years as a young Christian, were also the most sinful, dramatic, painful, and passionate. My learning curve was rapidly increasing as I dove into theological subjects with joy! My heart was raw and torn down from the effects of my own sin. I saw people meet Jesus. I had endless hours to just BE with Jesus. Those 4 years were like a roller coaster and through it all I was seeking after and clawing my way to Jesus. Recently, I met a friend who has a similar past to mine. Except she is still very much in the midst of trial and pain. Hearing her talk about the season she is in and the things God is painfully showing her, made me jealous for that crazy season that God brought me out of! Weird, huh?!

Because now, I’m just a mom and a wife. And I love it! But my relationship with Jesus has not been the same. It’s not that those things keep me from Jesus. It’s not that the dishes or laundry really distract me. But sometimes, they seem more interesting and fulfilling than sitting down to read or pray. Because if I sat down with Jesus, what would I say to him? That I need help deciding on the dessert to make for community group? That I hope Jackson sleeps til 8:30am? What would I read? Where do I start? What issues can I work through?! What are my sins? Sadly, if I’m honest, I think I sometimes pick fights with Kevin just so I can add a little drama in my life!

So this is my new journey: How to follow Jesus during the steady times of life, when every day looks the same, and when sin struggles are present, but not urgent. How can a mom and a wife have a thriving, desperate, and passionate walk with Jesus, full of growth and repentance? This is what I want to find out! Because I am just not convinced that life from this point on consists of coasting and character building. But I’m also not convinced that to really know Jesus deeply one needs to be surrounded by drama and sin! (and I would hope the drama/sin levels would decrease as one grows in godliness!)

Any thoughts from women who have gone before me on this journey would be much appreciated!

today i became a mentor!

So this is super exciting for me: Today I became a mentor! I am working with TAPP, a school for teenage mothers. TAPP helps these girls graduate high school and readies them for college! The school was featured on MTV a few years back for a documentary called “Baby High.” Click here to watch the 40 minute long special: Baby High- MTV

I was blown away by the school! Prenatal care, postnatal care (the girls are back at school in 7 days after having their babies, and teachers come to the hospital so they don’t fall behind!), parenting classes, AMAZING day care program– all while providing the same high school courses, advanced courses, and specialty courses that JCPS high schools offer! The staff works with the girls to tackle life issues, manage after school jobs, daycare, and transportation, and plan for after graduation goals! The graduation rate is 99%! Mentors are basically paired up with one student to be a friend to her. We will meet once a week to talk through motherhood, career plans, and life issues. Today I met my high school girl and her little boy. He and Jackson are exactly a month apart in age! I think it is going to be so fun to learn with her and from her, and hopefully make her feel loved and supported!

Even though this is not a Christian program and I can not do a lot of “preaching” (as the director called it!), please pray for our relationship and that God would open doors of trust and friendship. Pray that we would have a long lasting friendship that will eventually continue outside of school. Pray that her heart would long for Jesus and that He would call her to Himself!

Happy One Month Birthday Jackson!

Happy 1-month birthday, Jackson!

I can’t believe I have been your mom for one whole month. Even though each day seems long, the month flew by! Today we celebrated by throwing up an ounce or two of milk (most you have ever spit up!), working out your screaming vocals as I gave you a bath, and taking a photo shoot with your first pumpkin…And it’s only 2 o’clock! You are starting to smile now, and we are starting to communicate in a way only mamas and babies can. I can read your cries and know how you like to be held. And Jack, even though my arms get tired, I will cherish all the holding and snuggles I can get for now. During the day, you like to go on walks and look at your little light-up musical cat. You are starting to track toys with your eyes and try to bat at them. At night, you exercise your arms and legs with daddy (except you don’t like it very much–Daddy says its good for you!) and he reads the bible to you. Last night, daddy fed you your first bottle which was really special. We also have a nighttime routine down: around 11:30 daddy changes you and I nurse you to sleep. You are a good sleeper…sleeping usually from 12-7 (sometimes you wake up a bit earlier for a snack though…and then go right back to sleep!)

Jackson, I can’t believe how big you are getting. I love spending every second I get with you…Even now, as you are waking up from your short lived nap and crying…

Love,
your mamabird

Life Map & Saltiness.

Recently I revamped my Life Map to change and align my priorities in such a way that glorifies God and leads me into more holiness. I guess I could explain the Life Map in more detail, but that is not the point of my post…

Obviously my first priority should be “Christian.” As I sat down tonight, I pulled out my Life Map to see how I am doing. Here is my vision statement for ten years from now and the goals I have set for this year as I pursue that trajectory:

(In year 2022) I am a woman whose value is in Christ alone. I have surrendered my whole life and all my time talent and resources to the Lord. As a result, my priorities are Godly. The bible transforms my heart, both by reading my bible daily and studying theology. My life and understanding of God are evidently transforming in the way that I love and extend grace to my family, the church, and the lost.

 2013 Goals:

  1. Spend time reading my bible/ journaling everyday
  2. Read 12 books by 2014
  3. Blog 1 time a week

I was convicted about blogging. I know it seems silly, but my blog life really does reflect my growth with Jesus and the scriptures. As I process things, it helps to write them out for an audience so I can hold myself to a standard of theological accuracy and clear teaching. Just because I have a baby does not mean my blog needs to turn into a scrapbook–not that there is anything wrong with having blog posts about children, or even a whole blog site devoted to them!–this is just not the purpose of my blog on a large scale. So I figure I will ease myself back into a writing. I don’t have anything impressive to say, but Jesus has been good to me in giving me small nuggets of truth to sustain my heart…So I need to write about it! Amen?

This first month as a mama has been hard. Many days I don’t leave my apartment or open the blinds. I sometimes go a whole day without talking. I have felt lonely. I have also felt inadequate to be a mom who uses her life to advance the kingdom. How am I supposed to be the “salt of the earth” as a young mom, who knows few people in this city, and who doesn’t even have the motivation to leave the house?

Matt Chandler explains Matthew 5:13-16 well in his recent sermon “Light of the World.” Basically, he taught me that just as salt is a preserving agent in cooking, our function is also to be a preserving agent on earth. We become an agent of change and redemption for God’s purposes on earth right where we are. For me, I am now a mom and a wife, so breastfeeding, changing, and holding a crying baby all day is where “salt” takes place for me. What does this mean? No matter where we are in life, we can pursue saltiness as we:
1. Walk in integrity
2. Are a faithful witness to Jesus and his gospel
3. Refuse to enter into what is sinful

It is easy for me to spend all day with the t.v. on or to become frustrated with Jackson as he cries. Obviously none of us are batting 1000 in these three areas that make up “saltiness.” So how do we move forward? As we keep our eyes on the grace of God through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross, we will be led to a sobering seriousness about sin and a desire to be made into his holy image. It is this kind of seriousness that marks our life with confession and repentance.

Regardless of how I feel about my performance, I can rest knowing that God is using me as an agent of change and redemption as he preserves and advances his kingdom on earth. And as I pursue “saltiness” through regular confession of sin to other sisters and repentance, I am also a light for the world–revealing that there is something greater than my small world worth living for.

Jackson Paul Martin

Welcome to the world, Baby Jack!
Born Sunday, September 16th, 2012, 3:11 pm
7 lbs, 12 oz. 21 inches long

I wrote some of this post on Tuesday morning before we were discharged from the hospital, but this week has been a whirlwind! I can’t believe how good God has been to Kevin and I. Jackson is so sweet and his arrival went so so smoothy for both mom and baby. I am so thankful. I have been surprised how difficult it has been to even answer a text message and a lot of people have asked about the experience, so here it is! (stop reading if you don’t want to know details!)

I started laboring at 10 in the morning on Saturday. Kevin and I were on a walk and enjoying a morning on Bardstown road. Contractions came on consistent, but mild. I wasn’t confident they were even the real deal. They continued into the day and evening without any real pattern….sometimes they would be strong with long breaks in between, and sometimes they would be mild and close together. This was not what I learned to be a sign of “true” labor, so I just dealt with them and tried to be patient. I figured I was in for the long haul.

After dinner with Lauren and Darlene (my birth team/friends!) I tired to sleep, but woke up 3 hours later by stronger contractions. Kevin made us go on a 3 a.m. walk to hopefully move things along. He also helped me make banana bread to bring to the hospital for our nurses. He went to bed to get rest because I was pretty sure this was it…even though my contraction pattern was random. By 8 a.m. I was in serious pain and begging Kevin to go to the hospital and sit in the jacuzzi tub they have there. Lauren and Darlene came over and helped massage my lower back and stall me to labor at home as long as possible….but eventually around noon I made my way thru the ER lobby at Clark Memorial and announced my baby’s coming by puking in an plastic umbrella bag. By the time I got up to triage, I was 5 cm dilated. Within an hour, I was in my room and had progressed to 7 cm. They were already prepping the delivery cart! I starting freaking out, knowing there was no going back, wishing I could have an epidural, or even better just be put under and get a c-section! I wondered why in the world people choose to go through this more than once!

I finally got my wish. Around 2 p.m. I got to get in the labor tub, except immediately I felt urges to push! It was a whirlwind from there on out. I pushed on the toilet, moved to the bed to kneel over the yoga ball, and then they pulled up a bar for me to squat and push. My bag of water FINALLY broke and that’s around the time when I started crying/screaming with the pushes. The midwife came in and helped me push a few more times, while Kevin and Darlene helped hold me legs back. Within 4 or 5 pushes he was out! (sorry if that’s TMI…hehe)

I couldn’t believe it. I had spent the past 23 years without a child. And now I was mom. It was the best, most awkward, surreal experience I have ever had. The whole time laboring, I just tried to focus on the truth that I am safe and secure and that nothing can hurt me. Although I was experiencing this awful pain, I could remember that it was simply a small glimpse of the pain that Jesus endured to put an end to the sin that caused the pain of childbirth in the first place. And not only did He endure it, He conquered it and was glorified at the right hand of the throne of God. Praise God I am not condemned to this pain for eternity. Therefore, all of pain I was experiencing was serving and bowing down to God’s purposes in my life. Amen!

Since then, Kevin and I have been blessed with a week together at home. Darlene came over and cleaned the apartment so that we could rest when we got home from the hospital, and we have had so many people bring over food! We have all just been enjoying getting to know each other, and Kevin and I have been working well as a team to rest and serve one another. Please continue to pray for us as Kevin transitions back to work and as Jackson’s sleepiness wears off and he becomes more demanding. Pray that God would sanctify me and humble me and draw me into deeper dependence on him.