Spoken Word Poetry: Unbroken

Today my little boy, my first born, turns four.

 

Thaddeus made me a mama and he changed me forever. And he continues to shape me. He is a wonderfully bright, passionate, and enthusiastic child. He makes me laugh and makes my heart swell with pride. He is adorable and intelligent. He regularly surprises me and makes me marvel. He challenges me and pushes me to my knees before the throne of God. I feel honored and yet unqualified to be his mom.

 

Today I am trying my hand again at spoken word poetry. This time for my son.

 

I video taped myself saying this because, well, it is spoken word poetry – and as such, it’s meant to be spoken and not just read. But, even though this poem is for my son, I did not say it for him today. He’s four and I know that these words won’t mean a lot to him right now, but I hope that someday he will find this and watch it. Someday when he wonders what he was like as a child, when he questions and doubts my parenting and wonders why I did x, y, or z, someday when he needs to be reminded of who he is – I pray that on that day he would find this and know.

 

 

 

 

Wild
You run
Darting from one activity
To the next
Loud
You yell
Seeming to have only one volume
And it’s always
ON
Determined
You push your will
I say right
You go left
I say up
You go down
Yes becomes No
And
No becomes Yes
Like a wild stallion
bucking against the reigns
Refusing to be tamed
You fight
And time and time again
I pull
I pull in the reigns
I fight back
I set limits
I attempt to tame
And yet even as I do so
I hope I fail
Because someday you are going to need this fight
This fire
This passion
This determination
Someday you will be protector of those who no one else protects
Defender of the hopeless
Defender of the weak
That is your calling
Written in the stars,
Written on my heart when you were but a seed in my womb
Written into your very name
Thaddeus
Thaddeus –  strong heart
Courageous heart
The Lion Hearted
And as the stag bucks the lion roars
Roar on sweet boy
Roar on for the injustice of an early bed time
And the injustice of the child left alone
Roar,
Roar in protection of those who cannot protect themselves
Roar for the child who is teased
who is hurt
who is orphaned
Alone
Let your passionate heart roar
Roar on
I don’t know how
I don’t know how you will become that Lion Hearted protector,
What twists and turns your path may take,
But I am certain
More certain than anything else
that your path will lead you to protecting others
And I know something
Something vital
We can’t protect others if we are unwilling to fight
We cannot protect
Without having some of the wild stallion left in us
To protect
We must be willing to
Buck the system
Willing to look the oppressor in the eye and roar
“This far you shall come and no farther!”
No farther
We can’t protect if we are tame,
If we are broken
And honestly I long
At this time
To tame
To break
To domesticate you
But I do not wish for you to be broken in the time to come
I do not wish for you to enter the path ahead of you too tame to act upon your calling
And so I pick my battles
Sometimes letting you win
So that you know
You can
So that you know
You were made to win
Sometimes letting your yes mean more than my no
And your no mean more than my yes
So that you know
Your voice has power
So that you never doubt the value in the voice of another
I don’t want to raise a son who thinks he’s entitled to
The world
But I do want to raise a son who knows he’s entitled to his dignity
His voice
And that others are entitled to there’s
And I pray
I pray earnestly
For it is only through the hand of a loving God
That we will both emerge from
This season
This period of young childhood
Unscathed
Unbruised
Unbroken

 

 

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Self Care, Solitude, and Motherhood

The water runs over my hands as I scrub the crusted pot. My baby is snug in the wrap sucking the sweet life energy out of me as I stack dish after dish. I begin to smell the onions cooking on the stove and turn to give them a stir. My son comes running in asking me to fix a toy truck whose soft rubber wheel has snapped off. This multitasking of other people’s needs feels like my constant state.

 

The phone buzzes begging for attention and reminding me that it’s nearly time to pick my husband up at the bus stop. My mind returns again to the conversation I had early in the day.

 

“I don’t feel guilty for leaving them with him because I have them all week.” My friend’s casual relaxed statement plays around in my head over and over again. I feel almost jealous of her ability to separate from her children without guilt. I can’t even imagine leaving Bryan with the kids all weekend and not feeling guilty about it.

 

My mind wanders to the book sitting on the counter nearby.

 

“Herein lies one key to the problem. If women were convinced that a day off or an hour of solitude was a reasonable ambition, they would find a way of attaining it. As it is, they feel so unjustified in their demand that they rarely make the attempt…It is more a question of inner convictions than of outer pressures, though, of course, the outer pressures are there and make it more difficult. As far as the search for solitude is concerned, we live in a negative atmosphere as invisible, as all-pervasive and as enervating as high humidity on an August afternoon. The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone…

Actually these are among the most important times in one’s life – when one is alone. Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone…

Women’s life today is tending more and more toward the state William James describes so well in the German word, ‘Zerrissenheit – torn-to-pieces-hood.’ She cannot live perpetually in ‘Zerrissenheit.’ She will be shattered into a thousand pieces. On the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today. Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself. It need not be an enormous project or a great work. But it should be something of one’s own.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gifts from the Sea

 

I have always longed for solitude, but I have never been very good at self care. Since having kids I’ve gotten even worse.

 

I know in my head that time alone has a great deal of value for me as an introvert. I have been told time and time again that not taking care of myself will backfire in the long run. I know that abandoning my needs for the needs of my husband and children, may seem like selflessness, but in reality it isn’t. But, somewhere in my heart I don’t believe these things. Somewhere in my heart I still feel that I am not worth the self care, that time in my own persuits isn’t valuable enough, that I am selfish if I don’t pour my whole self into my family every second of every day.

 

I turn back to the stubborn crusted food on the pot before me and a question rises in my mind.

 

HOW? 

 

HOW am I to find time for myself amidst family cares? HOW am I to find time alone with an active three year old and an 18 month old with special needs? And when if I do, HOW am I going to fight this devaluing of my own self worth, this voice that says I do not deserve it?

 

I have made some progress in this area since January. I have had a babysitter come one morning a week so that I can get some time to write. And every other Saturday morning I have left Bryan with the kids so that I could go teach yoga. And two or three times a month Bryan and I have left the kids for a much needed dinner date.

 

I am realizing  that the answer to the resounding how that echoes in the questions above is community. The only way I can get the space and time I need to fill my soul and feed my heart is by leaning on the people around me.

 

I dig my strength deeper into the burned sides of the crusted pan in the sink. This is were the real struggle arises for me.

 

Before kids it was easy enough to change around my schedule, reorder some priorities and get time to myself when I needed it. Even during busy seasons I could always find time to step out the front door and go for a long walk alone. Now there are two little people who rely on me utterly and completely. I am responsible for their well being, for meeting their needs and I have carried that weight heavily on my shoulders.

 

The only way for me to get time alone is for me to rely on other people almost as deeply as my children rely on me. I must ask for help. I must let my need be known. And I must trust someone else to be there, to meet my children’s needs in my absence.

 

This has been incredibly difficult for me, even with my husband. I feel immense guilt about leaving my children for any length of time with anyone I am not paying to be there. Even when I do pay someone to watch them I still feel deep guilt for spending money that we don’t have on something that feels unnecessary.

 

My phone buzzes again and I put down the sponge to read the message. My husband tells me he is almost at the bus stop. I decide to leave the pot to soak as I hurry to bundle the kids against the cold wind outside.

 

My friend’s words play again in my mind, “I don’t feel guilty for leaving them with him because I have them all week.” I realize I have a long way to go.

 

I also realize how vulnerable I feel in this need.

 

Lately, the small moments away have been life changing for me. On the weeks when they haven’t happened I have felt the void and wondered how I survived without them. In the past two weeks my weekly babysitter has gotten another job and been unable to come. My mother-in-law, who usually takes Thaddeus on Wednesdays so that we don’t have him during Sage’s therapy appointments, had to cancel twice. And Thaddeus was off school for a week.

 

I think of these things as I slip into my coat and feel the weight on my shoulders. How I long to slip the weight of motherhood off my shoulders if only for a few hours.

 

If I’m really going to get space to take care of my soul, I not only need to fight this feeling of guilt with all I have, I also have to be utterly dependent on other people.

 

So, I come back to the question…

 

How do I find space for myself? How do I consistently get the time alone I need, not just once a week or a few times a month, but regularly? How do I safeguard my time so that I can take care of myself despite the changes in others schedules?

 

I can’t say I have totally figured out the answers to these questions. But, one thing I’m realizing is that I need more than just a small handful of people I can depend on. I need a lot of people. I need a whole community of people I can call. I guess you could say I need a village.

 

What about you? How do you work time for yourself in amidst other responsibilities, especially the all consuming responsibilities of motherhood?

 

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

A More Positive Story

Its nothing new to hear that the stories we tell ourselves matter, but I have only recently begun to see how much they matter.

Lately, I’ve started playing with my stories, changing my internal dialogues, and the result has been remarkable… Even life changing.

But, there’s a trick.

You see I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work. I’ve always known that my internal dialog, the stories I tell myself (particularly those about myself and my life) tend towards the negative. And at times I’ve tried to change them, without much success. So, I’ve always dismissed the idea when I’ve heard it in the past.

But, it turns out I had just made a fundamental story telling mistake when I tried to change my internal dialog. I had tried to jump to where I wanted to be at the end of the story and forgotten that all story is about process. Story is all about what happens BETWEEN point A and point B. It’s the process that makes point B believable.

In the past when I tried to change my internal dialog I had tried to go from thinking point A straight to thinking point B, and it didn’t work. Point A and point B ended up both struggling for dominance of my mind and heart. I cannot will a more positive story into being when my deep conscious still believes my negative story.

A few weeks ago something happened that opened my eyes to this problem and how to solve it. I signed up for these daily parenting emails that a friend recommended and one of them said this:

“When some aspect of your life feels like a grind, you can transform it into a groove by changing the stories you tell about it.
But this only works if you *believe* your groovy new stories, so it’s best to change them *gradually*. For example, if you realize you’re running a story like…

“I always get into power struggles with my child.”

…it’s not believable to change it immediately to…

“Our relationship is perfectly harmonious.”

A more believable new story would be…

“We used to fight a lot, but I finally surrendered to Love — I decided that I’d rather feel good than be ‘right’ — and now, every day, little by little, I discover new ways to create harmony.”

Ok. I sort of laughed at this at first. But, little by little it got me thinking and in particular it got me thinking about my internal dialog related to Bryan’s melanoma diagnosis. I realized that my internal dialog about Bryan’s melanoma went something like this:

“Bryan has melanoma. There aren’t good options for treatment that we are comfortable with. Eventually this thing will probably get the best of him and I need to prepare myself for that.”

I knew this was a negative story. I knew I needed to change it. And throughout the past year I’ve struggled to think positively about the situation. I’ve struggled to change the story by telling myself,

“Bryan’s fine. Melanoma isn’t gonna get the best of him. He’s gonna grow old with me. He’s fine.”

But, it never really worked. I struggled. Wrestling, over and over again, trying to will myself into positive thinking, but not really believing the positive story I was trying to tell myself. And then I read this email and realized my mistake.

You can’t jump straight from a negative story to a positive one. You can’t jump straight from point A to point B. You need to show the process, show the change. The human heart loves a good story and in order for the human heart to believe a change in the story you need to show the process of change.

So, this is the new story I started to tell myself,

“Bryan had melanoma. But, he is fighting it. The things we are doing can help. Right now he feels good and we are doing what we can to keep him feeling that way.”

This story might not seem as positive as the middle story, but the result of it was so much more positive for me. I didn’t have to struggle to believe it. It is truthful and authentic and yet it is also positive and full of hope. It takes me from point A and moves me closer to point B.

When I shared this with Bryan he shared another story with me. My husband is not really the intuitive, touchy-feely, overly spiritual type, but he shared with me a moment in all this where he felt like he heard from God and it changed his internal dialog. He heard this simple story, “This will get the best of me… But prayer can change that.”

The thought “this will get the best of me” was his point A, but the follow up thought “prayer can change that” is the story that moves him from point A to point B.

Changing my internal dialogs into stories that include movement has been perhaps one of the biggest epiphanies I’ve ever had. It has radically reshaped my attitude and feelings about Bryan’s melanoma diagnosis.

My negative dialog promoted fear. It encouraged me to pull away, to protect myself. My attempts at creating a positive dialog just created something I didn’t, no, couldn’t, fully believe and that lack of belief created internal conflict and that conflict created deep seated guilt.

But, when I changed my dialog to a story, and more specifically to a story that showed gradual positive movement, everything changed. My new internal dialog doesn’t promote fear, it keeps me grounded in the present. It promotes positive habits in me, like encouraging Bryan to keep up the healthy things he’s been doing. It also takes my focus from an individual one (“I need to be prepared”) to a collective, actively communal one (“We need to do what we can to keep him feeling well”).

And when I combine my new story with Bryan’s story the result is incredible hope. My old story killed hope. My new story feeds it. That’s the kind of story I want. That’s the kind of internal dialogue I want to practice.

What do you think? What negative stories are bouncing around your head and heart? Could telling yourself a gradual story of change move your internal dialogue to a more positive one? I’m fascinated by this thought right now and would love to hear what others think and how you’d apply all this.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman

 

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

MRI Results and Thoughts About Living in Holland

Last Friday we were able to see the neurologist and get the results from my daughter’s MRI.

The first thing people asked afterwards was, “How did it go?” which when you think about it is really a difficult question to answer in a situation like this. I sort of wish our family could have all been at the appointment and talked to the neurologist themselves.

In some ways I feel like some of the reactions we felt from others were more the reactions the neurologist expected from us. He kept asking how we were and at one point jokingly called us stoic. I didn’t feel stoic. I just felt calm and at peace.

There was really nothing he told us that was a surprise for us. We know Sage. We knew something wasn’t normal. We’d seen the print out from the MRI and we could understand enough to know that something was indeed wrong. We knew that she was already showing developmental delays mostly in the area of motor development. And we knew she qualified for and would benefit from early intervention services.

So how was the appointment? Well, it was confirmation of all the things we were already piecing together about Sage.

Here’s how it went…

We talked about what her brain looks like.

Sage has what they call bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria. Which means that the areas on the sides of her brain (both sides) didn’t develop the way that they should have. You know when you see a drawing of the brain and there’s all those folds and creases, well, Sage’s brain has smaller more frequent folds on the sides. Along with some volume lose of both grey matter and white mater.

We talked about what this might mean for her future.

Here’s where I feel the appointment just confirmed things we already knew. Basically the doctor told us that she will have developmental delays and that they will most likely affect her motor skills and speech. But, he was also very clear that with babies we can never really tell predictively the exact track of future development because at this early age the brain is still very adaptable.

When a specific area of the brain is damaged in an adult they can predict pretty accurately what functionality will be affected. But, that’s not as true for babies. Their brains are still developing and functionality isn’t as hard wired to specific areas as it is in adults.

Basically, he could tell us a range of functionality by looking at the literature and telling us the range that other children with polymicrogyria function in. The doctor was very honest in telling us that because polymicrogyria is pretty rare and we got a last minute earlier appointment he hadn’t had a chance to thoroughly review all of the literature. So he said we could call him later this week to find out more.

The most important thing for us to realize at this point was that each baby is unique and only Sage will be able to tell us what she’s capable of and what she’s not.

We also talked about how because of this diagnosis Sage is at an increased risk for seizures. She may never have them, but there is an increased risk that we should be aware of. Bryan and I had some questions at this point since we had no experience with seizures. We talked about what to look for, and what to do if we notice something. We also talked about why seizures are problematic and what they do to treat them should she develop them some day in the future.

We talked about the possible causes of polymicrogyria.

Part of the reason for doing the MRI was that sometimes it can clue you in as to the cause of the problem. In Sage’s case it didn’t really.

Basically polymicrogyria can be caused by an injury (beyond my toddler crawling all over me, which the neurologists said would not have been the problem, I had no known injuries), or an infection (the TORCH blood test checks for the infections that usually cause this and Sage had that test already and the results didn’t show any signs of her having had those infections), or genetics.

Before doing the MRI we were told that Sage’s condition was most likely a genetic problem, after the MRI we are in the same position of continuing to assume that this is most likely a genetic issue for Sage.

We talked about what our next steps should be.

The doctor first recommended a swallow test since I had mentioned that Sage seems to choke a lot and since perisylvian polymicrogyria can effect the muscles of the mouth and the motor skills involved in swallowing and talking.

I am very curious to hear the results of the swallow test since I have always felt like Sage had some trouble nursing, but any time I’d asked anyone about it they looked at her latch and said her latch was great and assured me she was nursing fine. It was a little affirming to have someone say that her swallowing and the muscle tone in her mouth may be the issue.

He also recommended a hearing and vision test, since she hadn’t had a newborn hearing test. He said he wasn’t aware of perisylvian polymicrogyria being particularly connected with hearing or vision problems, but whenever there’s a problem with the brain there’s an increased chance of those problems. So, we will do both of these tests soon.

He also recommended that we see a geneticist. Which was reaffirming since we had already scheduled an appointment with Dr. William Dobyns, a geneticist and neurologist who is the leading expert on microcephaly in the nation.

We also talked through the pro’s and con’s of genetic testing. As much as I hate the thought of putting my sweet girl through another blood test, we do feel like we need to do the genetic testing. And we plan on doing it before we see Dobyns since we know how long it can take to get an appointment with him and we want to be able to give him as much information as possible.

The neurologist also confirmed for us again that early intervention was the best possible thing for us to do for Sage. She will definitely need the support and help of occupational therapists and speech therapists and others who have experience working with children with developmental delays.

Overall, the appointment went well. Not really better than we had anticipated, but also not worse than we had anticipated. It simply confirmed things.

I’ve been thankful that we’ve had time to ease into our new reality. I’ve even felt grateful that there has been such long gaps between doctors appointments. It’s been frustrating at times, but I think it’s also given us time to process and ease into each deeper diagnosis.

I am anxious for our appointment with Dobyns in July, but I am also glad that we have a few months before that appointment. There’s a lot Sage can tell us about who she is and who she’s going to be in those months.

I think I’m slowly coming to peace now with the fact that the doctors aren’t going to be able to take this away and “fix” my sweet Sage. There’s nothing to fix. She is who she is and who she’ll always be. The doctors can’t just give her a pill or do surgery and then have everything be “normal”. This isn’t something treatable. It isn’t something that’s going to just go away. It isn’t something she’s going to outgrow.

Last week I read the essay “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Kingsley. It was a really helpful picture for me. In it Kingsley writes about what it’s like to have a child with special needs. She says,

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.”

I think even though I was doing pretty well with Sage’s diagnosis I still in the back of my head thought “well, yes, I’m in Holland, but I’m not staying in Holland. I’m just passing through.” But, the past week or two I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that, at least for my little family, there are no flights leaving Holland. This is our reality. This is who Sage is and it is now who I am as well. I am the mother of a special needs child. It is and will be my reality. God has brought us to Holland and it is in Holland that he will come to us and walk with us.

All that is not to say that there aren’t things we can do. Yes, there is nothing we can do that will just take this away from Sage, but there are things we can do that can help her to reach her full potential. There are opportunities we can give her that can give her the best possible advantage. And so, we’ll keep doing therapy with her, and looking into different types of therapies. And we’ll give her healthy bouts of stimulation, and play Lots of music for her. And I’ll breastfeed long term and make sure she gets lots of healthy fats in her diet. And we’ll take each day and each year as they come, listening and learning who Sage is as we go. And we’ll see where she takes us.

And isn’t that all any of us can do for our children? Listen and learn and see where they take us?

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

December Synchroblog: Experiencing Advent with a Toddler?

NOTE: this post is part of the December Synchroblog I participate in. I’ll post all of the other links as soon as I get them, so please check back later to read some other great thoughts on Advent from my blogging friends all around the world.

EDIT: All the links are added at the bottom of this post now – personally I can’t wait to read what all these wonderful bloggers have to say about Advent. So, grab a cup of tea and join me in checking them all out.

I have to be honest… I’m really struggling with Advent this year.

I want to enter into it and really make my day-to-day life reflect the unique season. I want to have more of a rhythm for our year that includes the rhythm of God’s story. But, I’m not exactly sure how. I have read lots of suggestions. I’ve even tried a lot of them in various past years. But, truth be told, I feel like most of it hasn’t worked well for me. I’m really bad with routines and no matter how hard I try I don’t stick to them… so each Advent I think, oh I’m going to do an advent calendar this year, or I’m going to do an advent wreath or I’m going to do the daily readings from the lectionary for each day of advent, but then I just don’t. Sunday comes and goes without me even realizing it and I forget to light the candles. A week goes by and I realize I’m five days behind on the advent calendar. I start out well with the lectionary, but eventually there’s a day that’s busy full of Christmas prep and party and I forget and then the next day I forget again. This was how it was before I had a kid, I can’t imagine how it would be now, when I can never finish anything and my brain is constantly scattered because of a demanding toddler.

In the past the best way for me to enter into Advent was just to think about, meditation on, pray through and write about the meaning behind the season. I liked the years when I took time to do that. Even though it was informal and I didn’t stick to a schedule or remember to do the advent calendar, I still feel like I entered into Advent during those years.

Lately though, I’m not sure how to do that with a young child. I feel like I don’t have the space or quiet in my life (or mind) to think, meditate or pray more than a quick, jumbled up prayer. Writing has also become a bit of a struggle for me since having a child. I get a little tunnel vision when I write and like to tune everything out and just type, but I can’t do that with a toddler tugging at my leg saying “up, up, maum, up” every few seconds.

Essentially I’m realizing that, as the mother of a toddler the way for me to enter into advent is no longer through the door of the contemplative.

A friend of mine is writing an advent series on her blog with scriptures, prayers, and other resources for reflection and I love what she is doing and definitely recommend you check it out, but as I skimmed her first post I couldn’t help but think, “this is a great tool for experiencing advent for the stage of life that my friend is at, but these tools just don’t fit with the stage in life I find myself in right now.” Case in point, I tried to do the liturgy she posted and was interrupted by my toddler or my husband 4 times before giving up. I later went back and tried to watch one of the videos she recommended while my son was sleeping I got literally 10 seconds into it and he woke up.

On top of realizing that this stage of life is not very condusive to the contemplative I’m also wrestling with wanting to find ways to enter into Advent not as an individual but as a family. I want to experience advent not as something I participate in my own “quiet time” (not sure I have one of those much anymore anyway), but I want to experience advent as a mommy WITH my son. I do not want to separate my spirituality from my mothering, I do not want to practice my spirituality apart from my son, but how do I commune with the divine with a 14 month old? Mother is not something I do it is something I am now. It is not a role that I sometimes play and can sometimes lay aside to pursue spirituality. Mother is what I am. How do I connect with God AS a mother, within my mothering? This is my big question lately, and the smaller aspect of it is how do I connect with Advent, with this small part of God’s big story, within my mothering? How do I engage with Advent with my 14 month old? I have ideas for when my child gets a little bigger, but what about now? Am I supposed to just leave him out of it and try to find moments to myself when I can engage with this season? If that’s the case I’m really not sure I can do that.

How do I experience Advent, or any church season, as the mother of a toddler? How do I experience God as the mother of a toddler? Honestly, I’m not really sure right now. Most of the ways that I have experienced God in the past and connected with his story just don’t work for me now in this stage. So, I find myself really wrestling with this question. Where is God amidst the motherhood? I believe that God is present so how do I find him within my new role as mother.

I don’t have answers, I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t know how to practice Advent as a mother, but I do believe that our spiritual life is a journey and we figure things out one step at a time along the way.

Advent itself is a journey – a journey of waiting. And so today I find myself entering into that journey, simply by presenting my questions before God and before all of you and waiting…waiting for him to speak into my mothering. Waiting for him to speak into my questions.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

What some friends of mine around the blogosphere are saying about Advent:

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