Baby Asher

Many of you have asked me the story behind the cover picture on my Facebook page. I want to tell you. I want you to know who Asher is. Honestly I haven’t had the words to adequately describe the experience.

So, I wrote him a letter in hopes to honor Lindsey and let her son know what a remarkable mother he has.

Today marks one week since baby Asher was born. He lived outside the womb for 24 hours. In that time, he was adored by all who were fortunate enough to meet him. No one treasured him more than his mother, Lindsey. I will never forget following her hand through the lens of my camera as she gently ran her finger along the contours of his little frame. She didn’t miss a single detail. She made sure she knew every line in his palm and wrinkle in his foot. She breathed in the smell of his skin. She delicately touched his head, feeling his baby soft hair beneath her finger tips. She memorized his face. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I am one of the fortunate few who met this special child and told him how precious he was. I will not go into details about the time I witnessed of Asher’s life on this earth. It’s not my story to tell. When Lindsey is ready, she will tell it and eventually I will write more of this little one who left such a huge imprint on my heart.

Asher Knox MartindaleDear Asher,

One week ago, today, we were all anxiously awaiting your arrival. I had met your mom and dad only the day before, but this experience would bond us for a lifetime.

From the moment you came into this world, you were adored. Your mama had a head start on the rest of us. She had been feeling your kicks and movements in her belly for months. You were her constant companion. She loved you long before seeing you.

I had the privilege of capturing your daddy’s face the first time he saw you. He loves you so much, precious boy. It’s such a difficult thing for a dad to watch his child struggle, knowing he cannot step in and save the day. Because he would have, darling. He would have traded places with you in a moment. You could see it all over his face.

Here is what I want you to know, little one. Your mom is so brave. Her courage is more than admirable. She has fought for you from the very beginning. She knew that medical facts showed little chance you would survive. She heard the doctor’s words and knew the odds that were stacked against you. She also knew that she would carry you, in her belly, as long as she could. She would give you life and if only for a moment, hold you in her arms, sheltering you from the coldness of this world, whispering lullaby’s in your ear.

I was witness to incredible love, sweet Asher. Your mama loves you extravagantly.

She wants all who know her, and those who don’t, to hear your story and know your name. You were a little champion. I am so, so grateful to have met you. You were wonderfully made and your life has great purpose.

Your mommy and daddy miss you, darling. There are so many tears. There are also beautiful memories of a day filled with…you. Your life. Your story. Your purpose.

Your legacy will continue. Your name will be spoken in many circles. Your memory will outlive us all. Those who know your mom are forever changed by her courage, faith and unconditional love.

You are beautiful. You are loved. You are chosen. Now may you rest in the arms of the Savior who spoke life into being. You are safe. You are well. You are home.

Love and Light,
Joy
(the girl behind the lens)

Five Minute Friday: Stay

Words, quotes, statements, pleas, heartbreak, uncontrolled happiness… all flooded my mind when I read Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday prompt.

Stay.

How many times and in how many ways do I use this word?

With my husband;
Can’t you stay in bed a little longer.
Can you stay with the boys while I run some errands.
Thank you for staying even when it wasn’t easy.
I could stay right here, in this moment with you forever.
Where will we stay when we go to __________?

With my children;
Stay right there! Don’t move!
I wish I could stay with you at school all day. It would be so fun!
We are going to stay with family when we go to California.
I wish you could stay this little forever.
Papaw is coming to stay for a few days!

I have so many uses for this word stay. Some healthy, others not so much. Regardless of the category in which they fall I have learned much about this word, my interpretation and the way I use it with others.

With Chris it’s, “Don’t leave yet. Stay.” What I’m really saying is, “I feel insecure. Please don’t leave me.”

When I tell my children I wish they would “stay little forever” it’s not really what I mean. I want them to grow and thrive and live life to the fullest.

Many times the things I wish could stay the same must evolve for my betterment. I don’t always see it, or want it for that matter, but it must. Few things stay the same and I am quite certain I wouldn’t want them to. Nothing but the Father’s love and faithfulness. Upon those I can rely, build my future and speak my truth. All else stays for a time and is gone.

My five minutes are up! Thanks for stopping by.

I’ll have…an overwhelmed June Cleaver with a side of crazy, please.

“Oh, June. With your pearls and your 19 inch waist, in your polished beige heals, fryin’ it up in a pan to have on the table when Ward, Wally and the Beave get home. How did you do it, June?! How did you hold it all together? (Is that a pill bottle I see by the cookie jar? Or maybe the pill bottle IS the cookie jar. Nice cover!)”

Being a wife and mother is hard difficult virtually impossible left to my own devices. Thankfully God knew this and makes it clear that I am not alone when that affirmation is needed the most. For the record, I’m not feeling any affirmations from June. I bet she was drinking straight gin from the freezer between takes! And who can blame her?!

I step over a growing mound of laundry to sit in my “writing chair” and purge my day of mental processing, I stare at the laundry and remember the fact that I need to vacuum….thank you notes need to be written…emails need responses…Bella is leaving again tomorrow…the lump comes up in my throat and that old familiar feeling of being overwhelmed attempts to settle in. Why does this happen?

I don’t think men have the incessant thought pattern that we women have. From the time I get up in the morning, the thoughts come pouring in. Hot off the presses from my unconscious mind to the conscious mind, continuing throughout every moment of every day.

It is imperative to start my day with 3 things; God, Quiet, and Coffee. If I miss anyone of those I’m setting myself up for failure, but especially the first one. It must look something like this for me…breathe in God, breathe out God (repeat), dwell on God and his promises (without ceasing), speak God into every circumstance…all God all the time. If not, my ego will sneak in and screw everything up.

For those of you who are parents, maybe you can relate, for those who aren’t, consider this mental preparation for the day you might someday become one. By nature, we are selfish creatures. Some of us more than others. I have to make a conscious effort to invite God into my day or I tend to leave him at home, waving good-bye as I speed away in the minivan with my praise music blaring. (It’s hard to yell at your children with praise music on. Yay for preemptive steps.)

What I’ve learned is that God does not force himself on me. He’s a gentleman. Sure he can be intense and fierce, but in my day-to-day he tends to wait for me to approach the throne of grace. “Why?” you ask. Because there is just something in the effort of me taking the initiative. When I don’t approach the throne of grace, opening my hands to survey those things thought to be of the utmost importance, I will keep my fingers tightly closed, missing all of the things that are waiting to be poured into them. I don’t want to do that! And yet, I still do it. Do you see my dilemma?

It’s me!!! I am my own dilemma!!! “Why not just fix it then?” you ask. Because I’m stubborn and doubtful and slow to change. The world screams at me in every way that if I’m not doing this, wearing that, volunteering there, eating these, I’m doing it all wrong.

I have a couple of different choices in this situation, I can continue to beat myself up with how I’m never going to win be nominated for “Mother of the Year” or I can turn to the voices of truth that refresh my soul and renew my mind. Like these gals…

I opened a recent post from my friend Courtney over at Lil Light O’ Mine where she was writing about her precious Ella not wanting to wear glasses because no one else her age does and everyone asks her about them. Courtney’s answer was beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear today. (Sometimes it helps to talk to me like I’m a Kindergartener, especially when I’m acting like one!)

Another awesome chick whose every word I hang on is Joy Phenix. Not just because she has an awesome name, but because she doesn’t pretend to have it all together, even though I think she’s one of the most stellar women on the planet. She writes over at Joy: Defined and one of my favorite posts is her take on the unattainable “balance” in life. She recommends working on your life “blend.” You can read all about it by clicking here.

My mentor is another irreplaceable gift in my life. Pam started a blog recently though she has been writing, speaking and coaching for years. I look forward to her posts as I can hear her beautiful southern accent through the page. It leaves me with a hankerin’ for sweet tea every time.

Who is that person for you? Do you have a person? If not, you can borrow mine until you find one or forever. These ladies have more wisdom and insight than they will ever be able to give away. They continue to grow and stretch themselves everyday in new ways. That’s what I want to be doing…growing and stretching. So when I have days filled with “mommy time-outs” I will rejoice in the gifts that are my children and I will thank God for the blessing of strong beautiful women who remind me that I’m not alone on this journey and that “perfect” may as well be a four letter word.

Awesome Resource at your fingertips! The one and only, Andy Stanley is in the middle of the series, Future Family. It is so great. Click here to watch the messages and print discussion questions. (You can thank me later, cause you’ll want to!)

Single Mamas

When the thought came to me that I needed to write about this sensitive and often misunderstood topic, I dismissed it as something that someone else would do much better than I.

I wonder if God grows weary of me trying to talk Him out of things that He makes abundantly clear are part of His will for my life?

Reluctantly I sit down before you, feeling very inept in my attempts to speak about such a fragile thing. At the same time, my heart is heavy and I know that once I listen and follow through with what I feel I am being led to do, the burden will be lifted and hopefully someone will be encouraged.

I know that there are many fathers out there holding everything together with their kiddos. I’m not going to talk about them. Reason being, I’ve never been a single dad. I have, however, been a single mom. I can speak from experience and hopefully share strength and hope as well.

Recently there have been a slew of things flooding my mind, but few reach my heart. The other day I was talking with a friend who asked if I would be willing to meet with an acquaintance of hers who was going through a difficult time. Without thinking or praying about it, I quickly said, “Sure!” (side not: that’s never a wise thing for me to do. Answer quickly. It usually means that my motives are selfish.)

This beautiful, young woman and I met for coffee. As I listened to her story unfold I began realizing that I had completely abandoned a part of my life that was a significant part of who I am.

I watched her eyes fill with tears though she would not allow herself to cry. I listened, I watched and I remembered. Suddenly I was taken back to a time in my life that was more difficult than I even realized at the time.

Some people choose it. Others are left. I chose it.

This woman had chosen it as well. Without telling you details of her story, without needing to, I can tell you that she’s in for a difficult road in her immediate future.

This got me thinking…now that I’m happily married to someone I adore and I have a beautiful family, does that exempt me from walking beside someone who is in the midst of the wreckage?

No. If anything it equips me to provide encouragement and a safe place away from the attorneys and bill collectors, accusers and mockers. I know first hand that she is misunderstood, judged, ridiculed and rejected by former friends and family. I know that she is scared. Fearful of not being able to pay the bills, of ever getting sick, of losing her low income housing. There is so much fear and doubt and uncertainty.

Have you ever been in that place of not really knowing from day to day what your life will look like? Do you know any single moms? Many of them have residence in that place of relentless uncertainty.

With Father’s day upon us, please be mindful of your words and intentions when speaking. Especially to children. There are some moms out there who are making it happen in both roles. Please don’t make assumptions or judgements.

If you’re a parent, you know how difficult it is raising human beings that will hopefully be productive members of society. There are days when I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t say to Chris, “Tag, You’re it!” so that I can have a few moments of sanity.

Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. We are pulled in so many directions. When you have more than one child it can be stressful even with two of you trying to make all of the school functions, sporting events, dinners around the table as a family and quality time investing in the relationship and future of your child(ren).

Imagine trying to do all of those things by yourself. Raising children alone can be one of the most isolating things out there. It’s difficult to explain, except to say that it’s not what you think…she’s not who you think she is…things are not as they appear to be.

May I encourage you to do something extraordinary? If you know a single mom and you want to help, offer to keep her kids (at no charge) while she runs errands or takes a shower and blow drys her hair or takes a walk. Send her a handwritten note of encouragement. Offer to take her grocery list, go shopping for her and deliver her groceries. Let her know by your actions that she’s not alone.

It’s not enough to say, “What can I do?”
There are so many things. It’s difficult to know where to start. The question will usually elicit one of two responses; “Oh, nothing, I’m fine.” or “Just pray.”
We must take the initiative.

I challenge you to make an effort this week to positively impact the life of a single mom in your community. And after you do, I want to know about it so that I can thank you.

Are you a single mom? What are your top three worries, struggles, concerns? What would be the biggest help to you from an outsider? Please leave a comment below or if you would rather remain anonymous, you can email me at the address found here.