i realized a few weeks ago that i’m an addict.

i’m not addicted to any substances, although given a different life, i probably would be. i just see it in me, that obsessive quality, that insatiable need, that quest for the next high, the desire for the illicit, be it the occasional cigarette or the ice cream after the kids go to bed. the now is never quite enough, i’m addicted to escape. it’s funny, because i don’t look like that, on the outside. i like to do quiet things, sort of–i don’t need lots of adventure or adrenaline rushes. i’m addicted to doing exactly what i want, to overdosing on books and reading them start to finish in one sitting. i’m addicted to performing, to showing off in front of people, although i do it in subtle or socially acceptable ways, my intellect or humor, or my voice, or my writing. i want to be the center of everything. i want everyone to like me the best. it’s kind of ridiculous.

i get really grumpy when i go through withdrawal from the things i’m addicted to. i resent my kids because of the way they inconvenience me and make it hard for me to do what i want. i feel a disconnect from my life because right now it’s all about self discipline and sanctification, two major buzzkills.

and i get it, life right now is really hard. we are plodding through the postpartum period, just starting to emerge on the side of a more predictable rhythm to our days. my two older kids are operating on a deficit when it comes to their need for love and attention, and that deficit communicates itself through anger, lots of it, and acting out, lots of it. i feel helpless and sad and angry in the face of their giant feelings and needs.

but i know this much, and i want people to hear this. this season is hard, but this season did not create these shortcomings in me. all of this was in me, and had to come out one way or another. it is the grace and gentleness of God that my children whom i love dearly (and dislike intensely today) are providing the catalyst that makes this ugliness emerge. it is the grace and gentleness of God that he is giving me this self awareness while also giving me three little humans to model brokenness, repentance, and humility for.

i’m an addict. and it’s serious. and withdrawal is ugly. it’s all uglier than i want to specifically communicate, just trust me on it. but the grace of God is exceedingly greater than the sum of my and my children’s faults. we’re going to be fine, because he won’t let us stay the way we are. i’m so, so glad for that.



A few important postscripts:

while this is a serious and heavy post, and a big personal shortcoming, this realization has not caused me to despair or really feel bad about myself. It is perhaps characteristic of the grace of God that conviction, while providing solemn self awareness, does not lead to despair or condemnation but the hope of the gospel trumps all. This post is more a processing, like “huh…so that’s why I do that!”

also, I’m not saying these aspects of my personality are bad. Like the performing, I write music to share with people and that’s good. It’s just when I abuse it that it becomes a problem.


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I Need You.

I just realized I never posted this song. It was an offertory from last summer sometime. I don’t remember much about what prompted me to write it, although the lyrics are pretty straightforward in terms of what I was thinking/feeling. (I think it probably was written around the same time I wrote this blog entry.) I do remember that I wrote in one naptime. I had been panicking about what to write, I was past my “deadline” (which is somewhat flexible but I still felt bad) so I called my mom and had her pray that God would help me write something. The fact that I then sat down and wrote out the entirety of this song in one take, and it ended up being one that I really liked? Well. My mom gets what she prays for, is all I’m saying.

I did do a little editing on this song, which I never used to be able to do. Historically, whatever I write out the first time is what the song ends up being, for better or worse. I have trouble separating myself from what I’ve already written, lyrically and melodically, and so it’s really difficult for me to edit and come up with different drafts of a song. Working at Redeemer, with Nathan (the lead musician) has given me somebody to sort of workshop my songs and I’ve learned a lot about revising. On this particular song, we change the melody a little bit on the verses and chorus to add more continuity, and we also brainstormed words for the chorus, landing on “infatuate” as the word that best fit what I wanted to describe (I had initially used “captivate” but wasn’t pleased with it). As I continue writing, one of the areas I hope to grow in is editing and revising. This song was the end result of one of my first really productive revision sessions, hopefully the first of many to come.

Hope you enjoy it.



I Need You. (lyrics here.)

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April 4, 2014 · 3:50 pm

the one you can’t shake.

When I was a sophomore in college, I lived on campus in an all-girls dorm. It was a beautiful five building affair (I think), all austere old brick, and I always felt like I was walking up to Hogwarts or something, just on an obviously much less impressive, much less magical scale. I didn’t know my roommates well at all when I agreed to live with them, and while I knew several other girls by appearance, from the christian campus organization I was minimally involved in at the time, I didn’t really have any friends for the first few months I lived there. It was a pretty lonely couple months.

Two times a week, I’d be walking to class in the afternoon, and I’d see this girl I knew, by appearance and name only, walking back from class. We’d pass each other on the sidewalk, sometimes awkwardly nodding at each other, usually avoiding eye contact altogether. I felt sure she was way too cool to be friends with me.

Then that fall, at the annual retreat held by that christian organization, something intangible and almost mystical happened. One night, during a concert, I think, put on by the worship band, several girls were dancing in the back together, including me, one of my roommates, and this girl, Grace. (Yeah, we were in our hippie phase, okay? Long skirts, dancing and twirling, bare feet. I look back on it with fondness, despite the fact that it’s an obvious cliche. It was real, then.) And we just became friends, right in that moment. I don’t even remember what prompted it, but I remember hugging Grace, both of us laughing, breathless from dancing, and it was like we knew we were the same, and our silly insecurities weren’t going to stop us from being friends. And we’ve been friends ever since: she was in my wedding and I in hers, she’s expecting her first baby and we actually talk on the phone sometimes (remarkable for two self-professed awkward people who hate the phone). Later, she said that she felt certain that I was too cool to be friends with her, all those times we’d walked by each other on the sidewalk. Funny, how we both had the same fear, how often that happens, and yet how we can’t shake it.

That was years ago, now. Maybe eight years have passed, and in all that time, I think sometimes that I’ve progressed, moved beyond that feeling that people probably don’t want to be friends with me. But today, twice, I’ve had similar thoughts to the ones I had about Grace all those years ago. First I thought that my friendship with a person was likely more important to me than to them. Second, I thought (again!) that another person was way too cool to be friends with me, and I, like, don’t even want her to see my patchwork house. Let alone how few cute items of clothing I have, especially now that I’m postpartum. Because that’s what friendship is all about, right?

And I wonder, now, if I’ll ever get past that. If it will ever get to the point where I don’t have to take months to talk myself into making a new friend. If I’ll ever be able to just rest in a friendship and accept it for what it is to me, instead of worrying about what it is to them. If I’ll just be free from that insecurity, or if this will be the one I can’t shake.


P.s. I met my husband at that retreat, too. My husband and all of my college friends. It’s funny how something that provided so little substance or had so little lasting importance in my life, like that campus organization, also completely changed the course of my future, albeit in a second-hand sort of way.

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A Rambling Arrival at Perspective

Little Mavis has been here for about a week and a half, and I’ve been kind of amazed by how calm I feel (barring two days of hormonal upheaval). Granted, our days are messy, the tv is on more than I’d prefer (especially now that I’m fighting off a nasty sinus clogging, sore throat bug), and the house…well. I mean, it is what it is.

But I was thinking back to how helpless I felt when Eliza was born, how incapable of doing anything other than attempting to keep her alive and happy. And she was a pretty easy baby! Now, I’m figuring out an infant, which is all consuming, and I’m keeping two other kids alive and somewhat happy, which is also all consuming. And I don’t feel too crazy about it, AND I’ve mostly kept up on dishes and sweeping the downstairs level of our house. I mean, I’m (obviously) not rocking this or anything. I yelled at Eliza a lot last week. (Her emotional volatility made me feel unstable just being in her presence. She has evened out this week, as have I, and I’ve made a point of finding the calm moments in the day and snuggling with her or reading or just talking, so I take advantage of the moments when she can accept my attention without acting out.) I can’t really carry Wyatt around, although I’ve tried to. I’m not really giving my “big” kids much sense of stability, although I try, and I mostly feel like I can either adequately care for the big kids or rock being the mom of an infant. Never being the mom of three kids. And yet…I don’t feel any internal pressure to rush myself into finding our new groove.

I guess the point of all this rambling is to say that growth is a funny thing, isn’t it? It sneaks up on you. You might be floundering, wondering when you will ever get your act together, or feel like you have a grasp on your life, or be able to be proactive instead of reactive all the time. And then in a moment of clarity you remember yourself a few years ago and realize that, while you might feel just as out of control as you did at that point, you’re actually handling things that would have destroyed you back then. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’m thankful for perspective this week, it’s helping me take it easy on myself. And it’s letting me enjoy Mavis without guilt for all the things I’m letting slide.

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Mavis Nadine: a birth story.

I’m just writing this stream of consciousness style, so it’s likely to be incredibly long and potentially uninteresting, unless you like birth stories, in which case you’ll probably love it.

I spent the week leading up to my due date in a state of heightened emotion, deeply disappointed each morning I woke up not in labor, very on edge with the kids, despairing of ever having a baby, and occasionally completely okay with never having a baby. It was all very exhausting, so I was pleasantly surprised when the due date came and went, with no sign of baby, and found me in a better place emotionally than I’d been all week, if not longer. I told Matthew as we went to bed that I felt really good about everything, and not anxious at all. Just very at peace.

I woke up Sunday morning having mild contractions. Nothing regular or painful, just consistent enough to know they were there. I was excited, because I had never had contractions in the morning before and it seemed like that might be a hopeful sign, but determined to play it cool rather than be disappointed if things didn’t progress. Also, my level of superstition was out the roof at this point (I didn’t pack the kids’ bag until the due date because for some reason I was convinced that would just postpone labor indefinitely) so I didn’t want to jinx anything with premature hopefulness. Whatever, pregnancy is weird, okay?

So we proceeded with our morning by hastily eating breakfast and hustling out the door to make the early service at church. As per my aforementioned superstitions, I felt very strongly that I needed to act like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, so that what I was pretty sure was actually happening would continue to happen. And that’s the last I’ll delve into the darkness of my pregnancy logic, lest you become convinced of my mental instability. Church was fine, I continued to have irregular contractions throughout the service and tried to good-naturedly ward off any lengthy conversations about my continued state of pregnancy.

We came home, ate lunch and put the kids down for naps. My contractions were happening about every five minutes now, but still mild enough for the most part that I didn’t even need to try breathe through them, but about one in five would be intense enough to make me think things were progressing. I called my mom to talk it over, the plan was for my parents to come get the kids but I wanted to make sure we didn’t send them if it wasn’t the real deal. After talking with her about the contractions and a few other signs of labor, we determined this was the real deal and that I was moving toward active labor. They would get the kids within a couple hours.

We made it through the next two hours, and watched a Winnie the Pooh movie when it became clear that I was too on edge to really deal with the kids. Still not much pain, but just over all I knew we were going to have a baby soon and I really needed the kids to be taken care of. When my parents arrived, literally as they walked in the door at 5, my contractions jumped to a different level. I had to focus to breathe, and not move or talk. Pretty sure active labor started as soon as I knew I didn’t have to take care of my kids anymore. I got teary when I saw my mom and told her I didn’t want to do this. She prayed for me, and they quickly packed up the kids and were on their way. I was on the verge of tears watching the kids leave, especially Wyatt, knowing that when I saw him next he wouldn’t be my baby anymore. But when I turned around to go back in the house all I felt was relief that that was all squared away.

And it’s like my body knew it was okay to go into labor then, because things immediately intensified. Within a half hour of them leaving, I was fighting tears every few contractions, although there were still mild ones in between. I kept asking Matthew when I would know it was time to go to the hospital, because I felt like things were getting intense but I felt so much calmer than I had with Wyatt. By 6pm, almost every contraction was really hard. By 6:30 I had allowed myself to admit that each one was about as hard as I remembered them being with Wyatt before I went into transition, even though I was still not panicking. Matthew even said, “you seem pretty calm, I don’t know if it’s time yet…” By 6:37 I texted my doula that I was freaking out a little so we were going to go to the hospital. At first I thought maybe we’d just let her know when I needed her once we got there, but something made me ask her to meet us at triage. Something like maybe divine providence.

As we were driving I kept vacillating from saying we had left too soon and I would probably get an epidural because we’d be at the hospital long enough, and then when a contraction would hit and I’d feel occasional pressure to push I’d say we might not make it in time. Even at the time, it was pretty funny how all over the place I was. When we got to the hospital, Matthew dropped me off and had to go park the truck. I was a weepy wreck when he left but I wanted him back with me as soon as possible so made him park right away rather than walk in with me. I could hardly walk into the hospital, the few yards between the entrance and the main desk seemed to take forever. The lady at the welcome desk got a wheelchair and took me up to triage. As we rolled in I blurted “I signed up for a water birth!” to the first nurse I saw. She kind of laughed at me, handed me something which I signed but don’t remember, and they took me in to have the midwife check me.

At this point I was in a ton of pain but still thought there was no way things could have progressed this fast (even though they did with Wyatt), and I’m pretty sure the staff thought so too because we were all very surprised to find out that I was 8cm dilated. Emily, our doula, got there right then, swooped in and hugged me and told me I was going to have this baby so soon, I’d done most of the work already, I could do this…which was good because I still was in denial and all I could think was how much I didn’t want to do this. One nurse said “she’s about to push out this baby!” and they wheeled me out to the labor and delivery room where they were filling up a tub for me. I got there so late in the game that they didn’t have time to check me in, put in an IV port, monitor the baby, any of the normal procedures.

In between contractions, the nurse would attempt to get a heartbeat from Mavis. It was a marvel to me how calm I was…I was still able to breathe through all the contractions, and I felt like those cheesy birth videos where the mom just moans quietly and everything is calm and beautiful and you wouldn’t know she’s in the worst pain of her entire life.

After maybe fifteen minutes in the tub, though, I was struggling to stay calm, and would panic a little each time, but mostly in my head I think. By 7:30 probably, I was 10cm dilated but my water still hadn’t broken and Mavis was at a -1 which as far as I understand means she was still kind of high up so I had a little ways to go.

I felt really confused, like what am I supposed to do with that? I’m 10cm why am I not pushing out a baby right now?! But Emily told me each contraction was moving the baby down, and I just needed to “breathe her out” which somehow made perfect sense to me and I tried to breathe out very calmly with each contraction. I was also feeling like I needed to push now so I did during the contractions. At some point they had me switch positions so that I was no longer on my knees but sitting up, sort of, and I began to push in earnest.

It felt like a million years, seriously…I couldn’t quite get control of my breathing and pushing and it hurt so much worse than I remember with Wyatt, who came out in one push. But Matthew says I probably only pushed three times before my water broke and then Mavis came out all at once. It was crazy! And then just…over. At 7:52, just under 3 hours from the point active labor began.

Once again, my favorite part of the all natural birth was feeling my baby come out. That’s such a release because all the pain just leaves and you feel your baby for the first time. They laid her on me and I just stared at her while my legs shook and I couldn’t believe it was over. She had so much dark hair and chubby cheeks, just like I’d seen in one of my dreams about her. She was perfect and somehow like and not like my other babies, all at once.

And that’s how Mavis Nadine was born.

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