Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding Freedom In Dependence

The first mother had the opportunity to give her children the perfect life, even before they were born. She'd never heard of colic, food allergies, asthma, or leukemia.  She had everything she wanted, and then she wanted to be God... Her first and only mistake made her less like him, though, when sin entered the world and made her the enemy.  Her punishment and ours?  Pain.  The consequence of living in a fallen world.  The punishment mentioned specifically because of her mistake?  Labor pain. (And this is someone who dedicated every single day of her first pregnancy to Hypnobabies! ;)

I remember my first experience with labor; I remember all 26 hours of it.  From the feeling of defeat that came over me, 18 hours into the experience when the doctor broke my water and said I couldn't have an epidural just yet, to the unparalleled joy that was gifted to me on the 26th hour, when I saw the face of the blessing that made it all worth it.  The most unspeakable pain gave birth to one of the purest loves I have ever known. And it makes sense, because it fulfills God's promise.  Not the promise of pain, that was a consequence, but the promise that we would all be delivered from our pain.  It's the symbolic fulfillment of hope that God works all things for our good when we follow him, in spite of and during our inevitable human pain. 

But this pure love is so hard to keep, and the thought of it being taken from me in an instant brings a wave of sickness over me like nothing else can; the loss of a child is one of the worst pains, I imagine.  In those 26 hours I experienced what I would know for the rest of my life: the constant struggle of how to move forward when I'm not sure how to, the determination to have faith in God's divine strength in my most vulnerable moments, the constant reminder of my human limitations.  All of these provide me with the opportunity to restore what Eve destroyed, the possibility of being as close to my God as humanly possible.  

Success arises out of these opportunities when I learn to do the very thing she failed to do: Depend on Him for my identity.  To not allow sin to define me, whether it's the fear of losing my child, the fear of failing that child, or the fear of not being enough.  

I don't believe it was a mistake that the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary before Joseph, when he announced they would be Christ's earthly parents.  I also don't believe it was a coincidence that Jesus first appeared to women when he resurrected.  Eve was the first person to bring suffering into the world, and God sent his own son born of a human woman to provide the sacrifice that would end spiritual suffering by enduring and overcoming more physical and spiritual pain than any of us would ever know.  The pinnacle was when he announced the end of spiritual pain by first appearing to a woman, Mary Magdalene.

We know that Jesus himself cried out to his father at the crucifixion, much like we do when we feel alone in our struggles.  We are also told, in that very moment God turned his face away because Jesus made himself the ultimate offering in our place by representing all the sin of the world.  This is something we will never have to know.  

As mothers, we would trade places with our children in their moments of suffering if we could, but we cannot.  Daily, we lay our lives down for them in various ways, though.  We function on little sleep and still love them the best we can, even when we are not at our best.  We make financial sacrifices for them.  Directly and indirectly, our time becomes their time.  Our meals are cold while theirs are warm.  We exchange a sneeze in the face for a kiss.  And the best part?  As it's been said before, only they know what our heartbeat sounds like from the inside.  They turn toward our familiar voice when they are just newborns.  Even our smell comforts them.  We share all of these things and more with our Heavenly Father.  He delights in our joy in the same way, too.  

We often forget these things, as our children do when they are angry at us.  But our Father's voice manifests itself in various ways throughout our day; he whispers to us and we are comforted by his promises.  Metaphorically, we know the sound of his heartbeat because we were made in his image.

So, yes, Eve may be the one to blame for our labor pains.  But God used that situation to our advantage, and he's made it known in so many obvious ways, these are just a few of them.  May 14, 2010 is Mirabel's birthday, but it also marks the day that I began the journey of discovering and depending on God more than ever before. 

Christianity is often criticized as being an enemy of feminism. But let me tell you, the most vocal and fair feminist I know is Christ himself.  There is greatness in manhood, too, of course--just look at that man's life!  But femininity itself is depicted as weakness, and motherhood is sometimes viewed as second-rate, or settling. I believe we all have our calling, but I know I have found mine because everyday I find myself in situations, both unbelievably difficult and wonderful, that allow for a greater understanding of love, or my Creator.  Isn't that the reason for our existence, anyway?

God doesn't promise the absence of pain in any situation, but he promises his presence.  We decide his proximity, though.  I believe that God uses motherhood as a unique vehicle to draw us near.  It's an on-going job that offers unending challenges with blessings that only reveal themselves when we allow God to reveal himself during those challenges by depending on him.  Eve missed the point.  God didn't want her to be him, he wanted her to know him by drawing near so that she would realize she wasn't lacking anything, after all.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Another First Birthday

I love how her little belly hangs over her tutu skirt :)

I'm not very organized.  Clean, yes, but not organized.  So it's no surprise that I have a really hard time keeping track of photos.  I take most of my pictures with my phone, because it's usually easily accessible, and most of our photos end up on our external hard drive because I have ZERO room on my computer.  We (actually Jose, he's the organized one) try to organize photos every so often.  Thankfully, the program we use to do this categorizes photos based on date (and I'm so happy this is the case).  
I haven't even created a post for Mirabel's third birthday.  I've been meaning to do it, but I think those photos are now on our external hard drive, since I cannot find them on my computer :P.  To make things fair, though, I did want to make a post about Juju's first birthday (since we made one for her sister's first birthday a few years ago).'s our cupcake's first birthday....

Hanging out by the water table.  Juliette loves being outside, and she really, really loves the water.  August is the hottest month in Texas, so it only made sense to throw her a water party.

...And cupcakes were the theme because my mom bought this cupcake tablecloth a few months ago :P. I wanted to keep things pretty low key, and I didn't want to spend too much (we're closing on our house September 30th, so we're trying to keep expenses down!).  I used what I had or what I could print, buy at the dollar store, or buy on Craig's list for $12 (someone just had a cupcake party for their daughter :).

Those inflatable cupcakes in the background were part of my Craig's List cupcake decor score!

I have a mini pie pan.  I really wanted to buy a cake pan shaped like the #1, but it made more sense to just use the mini pie pan to make Juju her very own tiny cake.  It was an orange cake with maple orange frosting, some of the other cupcakes were orange cranberry (because I had leftover cranberry chevre from the farmer's market that I had to use, of course ;).

All the cupcakes, again!  That one in the middle took the longest to bake, but I'd say she came out the tastiest and was made with the most love ;).  

This has been a very interesting year for us as parents.  Difficult at times, not gonna lie, many times, but Juju's brought a sparkle into our lives.  She is usually all-smiles and is already trying to give us kisses as she grabs our faces with her little chubby hands and puts her open mouth against our cheek--a good effort for a one year old, I'd say :).  To be honest, I actually expected things to be a lot harder with the second kiddo (tough experience the first time around, wanted to prepare myself).  But from the early morning she was born, she's surprised us with her easy going spirit.  I still can't believe she slept 8 hours after she came out and greeted us with her tiny cry.  Nowadays, she wakes up for a midnight snack or two from Momma's free 24 hour Diner...but I'm enjoying having her so close still at this age, literally right next to me in bed :). 

Mirabel brings much more than a sparkle ;).  She is the girl we don't have to worry about, she is strong and very spirited, and knows how to express herself.  Lately, it's been so sweet seeing them interact and start playing together. 
 Mirabel loves to rough house and, surprisingly, Juju (Juliette) doesn't mind much.  She may be tinier than her sister was at this age, but she's equally as fun.  
Together, they make life delicious.  They each bring their own spice to the mix, making for the perfect batch of cupcakes.


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