In a few weeks we'll be expanding our home by two feet, but there will be no major construction--just a lot more noise...we're adding a little girl to our family.

K is 5 years old--she's just a few months younger than Jon. Over the past few weeks she's been spending time with us. It's a welcome transition, but it will definitely be a challenge for all of us. The kids already bicker like siblings, and Nate and I are slowly learning how to juggle two kids.

K is a fiery, sassy girl who loves dresses and playing dress up, having her nails done, wearing high heels, playing with Barbies and dolls, and carrying a purse. These are all things I'm slowly coming around to :) I did buy her a dress the other day...it is a Grateful Dead concert dress, but a dress nonetheless.

Both kids are unique with different personalities, but what they do share is trauma from their past. I'm hoping that as they grow and mature, they'll be able to talk about their pasts and help each other work through some tough emotions.

In the meantime, Nate and I feel like we're hanging on by a thread. We're ready and excited for this new opportunity, but it has all come about so fast, that we feel like our wheels are spinning but we're not moving. I'm overly committed this semester and am searching for ways (and coming up short) to lighten my load. I'm planning on taking some maternity leave to acclimate. What's hard about being a new mom through adoption is the general public views my entry into motherhood as an easier one that doesn't require as much help. For example, when babies come, people bring meals and offer to come over and stay for a time with the kid so the parents can sleep. People squeal with delight when a woman announces her pregnancy. Parents have nine months to plan and prepare for their little one's arrival. And, teaching moms have nine months to plan for their six week leave without the immediate presence of said little one. Because five year olds seem pretty self-sufficient, few will offer to bring us meals or watch the kids while we nap. My announcement of adopting a second child has been met with a few sympathetic smiles and some polite congratulations--far from elation. We've had exactly six weeks to plan for K's arrival, and I'm scrambling working all hours trying to create lesson plans for my "maternity" leave while I parent both children--including the one I'm planning to take leave for all while bracing myself for judgemental questions (What will you do when the kids are in school?) and opinions of my decision to take time off. I understand that parenting a newborn is different than parenting a five year old (each has its own struggles), but the acclimation to a new child is no different. It's hard, and we're struggling with it right now. I don't know if we'll make it out alive. Okay, that's a bit dramatic...but it really will be survival mode until May! If you're the praying type, throw a few up to the big Guy on our behalf for patience, a sense of balance, and a closeness with God as we walk this new path.


My favorite job

When I was 15 years old, I scored my first job as a telemarketer renewing peoples' auto insurance. I've held a job ever since then. I've worked as busgirl, a para, a recreation aide for mentally handicapped adults, a bagel/coffee extraordinaire, a chocolate seller at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a barista at a coffee shop, and finally, a teacher.  My jobs have been varied, but each one has been great and has served me well in whatever phase of life I was in.

My current job as a teacher has been amazing. I've had the opportunity to work with hundreds of kids from all over the state of Nebraska, and from all walks of life. I've been able to help kids navigate terrible situations. I get to talk about books and writing--two things I love--everyday. Through professional development opportunities in the Nebraska Writing Project, I've traveled all over the country learning about education (which fascinates me), and I've learned how to live more responsibly and think more deeply. Teaching has also taught me how to be a parent; it's been the best job....until now. 

Yesterday I headed out on a long run--leaving my family behind. Anyone who knows me, knows I love running. But yesterday on my run, I found myself wanting to be at home playing with Jon or preparing a meal for my family--I wanted to at home doing my job as a mom. When I have to bring work home (which is often), I find myself stressed and resentful that it's pulled me away from serving my family. Being a mom is not a glamorous job; it doesn't pay the bills, and it can be incredibly frustrating and reveals so many of my flaws and failings, but I love it. It's what I desire to do almost all of the time. For me, it feels like the best job right now. 


One foot in light, one foot in darkness?

Last week our church kicked off a new sermon series that comes out of 1 John. Today we looked at 1 John 1:5-10 (click here to visit the church website--the sermon from today was powerful; check back tomorrow or Tuesday to hear it), and to be honest--I've got a lot stuff heavy on my heart that I just need to confess and write about.

"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth" (1 John 1:5-6). 

I confess to living with one foot in the light and one foot in the darkness--let me clarify: with my words I profess to be a believer, but my actions profess darkness. We cannot live with one foot in the light and one foot in the darkness, because as the scripture says, there is no darkness in God. We simply cannot live in light if we continue to live in darkness. I fear that my actions have cheapened my faith to outsiders who hear me say I'm a believer and then see me drink too much, hear me use swear words, hear me gossip about others, see me react out of anger, watch me put my job before my family. That stuff is not the stuff of Jesus.

"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. [...] If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts" (1 John 1:8, 10). 

For at least a year, I've felt a nagging sense tell me not to drink that 3rd or 4th beer or use that four letter word or to reign in my emotions and think before I speak--but I've pushed off that nagging feeling and made excuses like, It's not that big of a deal; people make mistakes--God doesn't expect me to be perfect. I've made excuses for my sin--I've lied to myself and have basically set an extra chair at the table for sin. I've used God's grace as a "get out of jail free card." I don't want to confess this stuff just to free myself from the heavy feeling of guilt; I want to confess because I don't want to call God a liar anymore by making excuses for my sins. I know I've done wrong--I know I need help turning away from the darkness and running toward the light.

"But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). 

For a few months I've battled anxiety--I'm almost to the point of seeking a doctors help via medication to help me cope with the stress of balancing my job and my role as a wife and mother. But the more I pray on it and dig into scripture, the more I'm forced to examine my own life. I've created anxiety for myself, I think, primarily from living in darkness. My choices have launched me into a downward tailspin of anxiety and guilt and instead of running towards the light, I've walked in the darkness and used alcohol and swear words to cope with the stress of my job and have run to my job to cope with the stress of raising a family and all it's done for me has created more anxiety and a deeper feeling of emptiness. The words each other are so pivotal in the above verse because it implies that when we live in the light, we have fellowship with God and we know by having fellowship with God (by living in the light and confessing our sins--see the verse below) that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross takes away our sin. 

"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1: 9). 

When we confess, we are then free to enjoy fellowship with God--to live in the light. But we must make a deliberate effort to admit our sins and then rely on God's power to overcome our sins so we don't fall into a constant habit of sin or a habit of guilt that only beats us up and doesn't empower us to overcome our sin. This morning I've come clean with God, but I feel like I need to come clean to people who've watched me try to lead a double life. I'm sorry if my actions ever made you think negatively about Christianity or Jesus. My life has not always been made up of the stuff of Jesus; I'm working on getting that right. 


Just call me Martha

I write about this a lot...I'm sure those of you who read this blog or just tired of reading my back and forth on this concept. If you fall into this category of readers, just do yourself a favor and stop reading. Go watch cat videos on YouTube instead...it'll probably be a better use of your time.

This morning I started a new devo on my Bible app that explores the topic of simplifying. Not simplifying in the materialistic sense, but a kind of lifestyle decluttering. Eliminating the kind of business that distracts from the kind of stuff that really matters--like fellowship with God. First up on the Bible study was Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus visits Mary and Martha. Mary chooses to sit and fellowship with Jesus while Martha runs around the place cleaning and cooking missing out on an opportunity to spend with Jesus while he was in the flesh. All of her running around while Mary sat with Jesus made her bitter and angry causing her to blow up out of resentment and stress. Jesus gives Martha a 1-2 punch and gently explains to Martha that Mary is doing things right. I think Martha was well-intentioned in her actions. She saw Jesus as an important guest worthy of a good dinner in a clean home. I think she started out wanting to serve Jesus, but what she missed out on was a true fellowship with Jesus. In church this morning our pastor started preaching from 1 John. We studied the first four verses where John shares the good news about experiencing Jesus and that we can also be in fellowship with Jesus. Key word: with. Our pastor emphasized that we are to be in a relationship with him and not for him. Martha missed a great opportunity.

In the last three years, I think I've become a Martha. I've made myself so busy that I've missed out on many opportunities to fellowship with God and with His people. Teaching can certainly be a ministry, and I think it was for me when I taught in western Nebraska. I had opportunities through FCA, coaching, church, and sponsoring activities to build relationships with kids. In my role as a teacher and mother here, I'm rather limited in the type of relationship I can have with my students. Can I make an impact on them? Absolutely. Do I have the time to coach or sponsor an activity at this time in my life? No. Has the busyness of my job made me resentful like Martha? Unfortunately, yes.

I'd like to be involved more in my community or my church, but I've created such a tight schedule for myself and my family that adding one more thing seems close to impossible. I really hate this. We have some potential family changes on the horizon, and as I think about these changes, the more I realize I'm moving into a different season in life. Teaching and education truly is something I enjoy, but I think I'm ready to serve in a different ministry. I think I need to start praying about how to clear space in my life for fellowship with God and with His people (including my family!). It could be a long year as I struggle to become more like Mary while stile honoring the commitments I made a month ago for this school year.