One year

Edith was born with the sunrise.

I write that sentence and giggle to myself. It sounds so idealistic, a bit too sappy sweet, just the way you might think a rose-colored-glasses sort of person would look back at the moment she became a mother. But it’s true.

I labored through the night, in the dark, with only a string of Christmas lights providing a glow in the corner. I walked and squatted and leaned over an exercise ball through the late hours of night and then early morning hours. I ate a banana, tried to forget about the pain and focus only on the task in front of me, even laughed with my mom through a few contractions.

I pushed in the dark, my eyes closed most of the time, drifting in and out of subconscious, exhausted sleep for a minute here, a minute there. And then there was a baby, a little person placed on my chest. They opened the blinds and the sun was rising over the tops of the buildings, filling our seven-story room with new light, new life. There was a sense of relief, but more than that: the world was new. There had never been a morning like this before. There had never before been a morning with this firstborn Lacy daughter in the world.

I asked over and over again what the baby was. The midwife forgot to announce it and must have assumed we already knew.

“It’s a girl!” I finally heard.

My mother said the obvious shock on my face was funny to see.

So we named her Edith Grace and suddenly our family was three.

It is a strange feeling, looking back on a day—a minute in time, really—that changed our entire lives. The memories hint at pain and blood and ice packs and eyelids that literally, not just figuratively, would not stay open; but they are not those things. They are of resting in the hospital bed with a sleeping baby on my chest, of Dad changing his first diaper, of the first night with a baby in the crib next to the bed, looking at her, wondering how I was going to be able to keep another human alive.

And although the memories continue, sadly they are not as distinct. They are memories of getting to know this little girl, of learning her and studying her and praying desperately every night for a little more sleep.

We go for walks, run errands together, play on the living room floor, read the first three pages of a book before she is off again looking for something new. And every night we are relieved to crawl into bed, hoping for a few hours of sleep before she reminds us that she’s still here, just down the hall, too close for us to fall back asleep. The days look much like this, over and over again. But the delight that we found in this life, in her life, is nothing we could have expected and nothing we have ever known before.

I am often struck by just how useless Edith is. We gain nothing considered of profit through her. She doesn’t do my dishes. She doesn’t grade my students’ papers for me. She doesn’t even feed herself at this point. But precisely because she has no use assigned to her by this world, therein lies her value.

But God chose what is foolish in the world in the world to shame the wise…

Two 24 year-olds with a few thousands to their name, two years to go in graduate school, two jobs, college debt, and many question marks ahead of them have a baby. Edith is our foolishness, our irresponsibility, our inconvenience, our hospital bills, our new budget category.

But she is our glory, our wonder, our laughter, our amazement, our joy, our love. She gives life. She is life.

And it is very good.

Happy almost birthday, little girl.

Becoming a mom: in 30(ish) photos

Being a mom—being Edith’s mom—has been delightful and something that I have been documenting since August 2014. And I think those photos tell a fun little story.

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It begins with feeling like you have such a big belly and then continues to prove that the first time you thought you were showing, you really weren’t.
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And that belly becomes even bigger. This is four days before Miss E came along.
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And then the baby comes and the magic of new life overcomes your little world and all is suddenly changed.
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And that first night, you lie in bed and wonder how this happened and how you are going to keep this little one alive and will you ever sleep again?
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And then she sleeps on you—and the magic is new every few hours.
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And you go on your first outing together and feel especially proud.
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But feel prouder still when you figure out how to wear your baby and suddenly have two hands and the ability to make dinner while keeping baby happy, quiet, and sleeping.
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Because she truly doesn’t sleep much. #mylife
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And sometimes she is all smiles.
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But she also looks like this for what feels like a lot of the time.
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And she gets older and you discover how to smile and play and laugh together.
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You teach her about lying out under the blue sky.
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About cooking.
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About how some nights you just need to eat your dinner on the floor while watching cooking shows on YouTube.

 

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About selfies.
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About music.
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About baseball caps and mornings spent in bed.
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And about chocolate-covered pretzels.
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And there are many times she still looks like this.
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But more often than not, she is pure wonder and delight and that is exactly how we feel about her.

Catching up

_SMO5698 copybcI don’t have many words yet for the past two and a half weeks. It feels that I am being fully initiated into motherhood, and I can only put this time into phrases, not full sentences. 63 hours of labor, wakeful nights and tired days, freezer meals (thanks mothers!), crying, diapers, baby snuggles, tears and laughs over all of these new parent moments, double chins and leg rolls and arm rolls, and one beautiful little girl.

I am already that mother that tells her child to stop growing; I can’t believe how quickly she is changing and becoming less of a newborn. She is absolutely delightful, and we are loving every moment with her.

IMG_20150510_220759It honestly took me by surprise when I realized just how much I love Edith and how I would do anything so that she would be happy or safe or unharmed. Her little (or not so little) cries from her crib when all she needs to do is simply fall asleep are hard to listen to, and we can sit and watch her sleepy grins and hilarious faces for a long time.

I am also learning that motherhood is one great act of trust in a heavenly Father who knows my daughter better than I do and who can provide consolation and peace to my daughter that even I cannot offer.

And I am constantly reminded that this little girl is a gift given to us, but not one for our ultimate possession. She is given to us to be offered again to God. In every moment, I am called to accept and cherish this responsibility of raising and caring for this little baby all with the glorious hope of our Edith Grace being one day united with Christ in glory. I want nothing more for my daughter, and so I lay her daily at the feet of our Lord, asking Him to do as He pleases and to mercifully love and keep this child. Whatever He asks of little Edith and of her parents who love her deeply, I pray only for the courage and strength to say “yes” as I offer myself and her to Christ.

Love, enfleshed

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetLove is nothing if it is not incarnated.

I suppose my liturgical seasons are all turned around. This past Holy Week—the three days in which we celebrate the apex, the glorious climax, of salvation history—filled all of my thoughts with the incarnation.

Perhaps it is because I am living in this miracle of life enfleshed; of love given hands and feet and skin and lungs and movement. Our love, made flesh.

Yet without the incarnation, we would not have Easter.

As I considered the agony of Christ, I couldn’t shake the humanity and the physicality of such holy days. Jesus wept in the garden and stumbled under the weight of the cross and felt every millimeter of those nails pounding into His flesh. How earthly and human.

Sometimes I worry that the love of God seems like an abstraction: something that I must hold onto and believe in, but something that I can’t truly understand or have experience with. But Maundy Thursday brings Christ who washes feet and loves His disciples with His hands and leaves Himself for us in the Eucharist. And Good Friday comes and reminds us that Love is more than an abstraction or a pretty idea; it is the Man hanging on a cross, his body broken and scourged, His arms open as He welcomes the thief beside Him into eternity. After Good Friday comes Holy Saturday, the quiet and sober day when we realize what the world would be like without this Savior. Dark, still, empty.

Then the darkness gives way to Easter, that day that the risen Lord gives us hope not simply of an eternal soul, but an eternal body: a new, risen, perfected, glorified body. There is flesh to the resurrection; it will be a physical reality, however mysterious and unknown that existence is to our mortal minds.

Love has bones and skin and hair and veins. Love came to redeem and renew our bones and skin. Love gives us hope of perfected bones and skin, perfected existence.

And in just a few weeks, we will welcome a new miracle of love enfleshed. Our love given physical reality, just as the love of the Father gave the physical reality of His Son to the world. We will seek to give love hands and feet and concrete existence as we learn to love this child and this Lord in new ways as we enter into the beauty of new life.

And we will welcome hope—because this is not the ultimate reality. It is only a beautiful taste of the magnificent, glorified, physical reality that we will one day know. This baby, and this baby’s mother and father, were made for glory—real, physical glory.