Diary of a Pregnant Woman: Week 29

I have officially made it to the third trimester. The baby registry is done and I couldn’t be more relieved. With all honesty, building a baby registry has been the worst part of my 7 months of pregnancy (minus the crap I’ve put up with at work this year). I know, for some new-to-be-moms that’s one of the highlights. Not this girl, I’d rather be tied to a chair and forced to listen to Cardi B’s “Pull Up” on repeat until either my ears bleed, or I laugh myself to hysterics because it is seriously one of the most ridiculous (and worst!) songs ever created.

I loathe shopping. Aj doesn’t understand this about me. Last year, for my birthday, all I wanted was for him to fix a pair of black boots whose sole had separated from the seam.

He refused and said, “It’s time for new boots, Steph. These cost you thirty bucks and I already super glued them once for you last year.”

I contested, “I don’t want new boots, I want theeeessssseeee boots.” I held out the word ‘these’ for emphasis, and raised them high in the air in front of his face, with one hand on my hip and my head cocked to the side as a sort of authoritative protest. He just looked at me and reiterated the words “New boots” and walked away.

I feel immense relief with the pressure of the baby registry out of the way, where you have 15 gazillion options for everything, no seriously, everything. For example, why do I need to decide between 108 versions of a baby bathtub? It’s water and soap no matter how you slice it. Not to mention the endless pages of baby “essentials” that I have no idea if I actually need or if they’re just a gimmick used to access the wallets of overbearing, overly anxious first-time parents. I mean, do I really need a poop alarm? Isn’t that why God created noses? Or pacifier wipes? What’s the harm in using water from a sink? Or, a bathtub thermometer, diaper cover, diaper genie, formula mixer, bottle warmer, etc. The list is endless.

This leads me to the other “big issue” that I have been feeling semi-confused over…the nursery. Everyone wants to see the “nursery”. “What color is the nursery? What theme is the nursery? OOooh, OOooh, let me see the nursery.” The reality is people, and I’m sorry if this disappoints, but my theme is… cheap. I currently have three items in the smallest bedroom of our house with nothing on the walls–a dresser, a bookshelf, and a glider–and they are all used items. Cheap…my theme is cheap. Is that so bad? Because, the reality is, the more you buy new the more pissed off you get when it gets broken or scratched. That’s why the majority of what we own is used. Someone recently asked me why we didn’t have a crib yet and I told them we weren’t doing a crib for the first year, a pack-n-play would do just fine and be a lot….cheaper (see you guessed it!). She looked at me appalled, as if I had broken one of the 10 commandments of first-time-parents. She said, “That won’t do. You need a crib!” Patted me on the arm in that “you poor, pathetic, clueless girl” kind of way and went about her business. But, the reality is, I was born into this world without a themed “nursery”, without having my formula machine stirred, or my ass wiped with toasty moist towelettes. And so were you. And we all turned out okay in the end, well…most of us. In the grand scheme of things who is all of this stuff really for? Maybe I’ll eat these words one day and will come to regret that I never included the pee pee tepee on my registry. But for now, I think my child will do just fine.

You see, one of my life motto’s is “less is more.” And I try to keep to it whenever possible. Let me show you what I mean. For example…less stuff, more space. Less work, more play. Less choices, more decision. Less busyness, more time spent. Less excuse making, more responsibility taking. Less complaining, more gratitude. Less comparing, more contentment. Less me-centered, more others-centered. Less calories, more room in my jeans. You get the jist.

This motto also works in reverse though. For example…Less sleep, more tired. Less time, more stress. Less money, more bills. Less family and friends, more loneliness. Less prayer, more worry. Less wisdom, more foolishness. And it’s these last two that I have been focusing on these past few weeks.

As my pregnancy progresses I spend much more of my time awake in the early hours of the morning, while the rest of the world is asleep. It’s rather typical for me these days to wake at 3am for the remainder of my day. It’s in these early hours, with my husband lying beside me and my dog at the foot of our bed that offer up my petitions to God in between the rhythmic breathing of both Aj and Dexter. As I lay there with my hand on my belly and pray, much like this morning, Sofia is most active kicking (or hiccuping) away. I lay there in the quiet darkness of the morning…praying. And I don’t know why, but I most often petition Him for his strong, yet gentle hand of protection over these three beautiful gifts that lay beside me and within me.

Prayer has always been a regular characteristic of my life. Sometimes I’ve done better than other times, but I have always relied on God in the best of times and the worst of times in my life. Even as a small child. I have memories of praying myself to sleep every night. My prayer always started off with “Dear God, thank you for today and please forgive me for my sins and forgive those who have sinned against me…” These days, I have become more acutely aware of the need I have for Him in my marriage, and in the life of this little one that grows inside of me. The need for His wisdom seems more pressing now than at almost any other point in my living. I look at the world around me and wonder “God, how do we do it? How do we raise our child to know you authentically, to love you and love others. To see her dependency and need for you as her Creator? And to understand and know you as her Rescuer?” I wasn’t raised in a home with biblical, Christian parenting. Neither was Aj. Don’t get me wrong, we were raised in homes with parents who loved us very much and provided for us. And we both thank God for that. But the inclusion of faith and Jesus, the idea of a real personal God, who I could know and who knew me wasn’t apart of the parenting I received. I have no model for how to raise a child with the knowledge of a real personal, loving Creator and Rescuer in a world that holds such hostility towards Him. And so these are the things that fill my prayers in the early morning hours.

How do I withstand the temptation and not make my life all about my child (like so many other parents do) and instead teach my child that life is all about Him? How do I teach my child that life is not about what you get out of it, instead it is about who you trust in the midst of its uncertainty. How do I teach her that society and culture are not her moral barometers; but instead, it is the person and work of Jesus. The honest truth is…we have no idea what we’re doing. No one does, I understand that. And that is why I pray and ask for His wisdom, not my own. I am well aware that my wisdom, in all actuality, apart from Him is actually foolishness. I am also aware that the less I have of Him in my daily living and consideration, the more I have (as well as my family) of emptiness and unfulfilling self-indulgence. And so these have become my early morning prayers…less of me and more of Him.

What Do You Do When Jesus Isn’t Enough?

My mind is at odds with my heart. Ever have that experience? I call it ‘The Great Disconnect.’  It’s where you have an intellectual understanding of a truth, yet, your heart perceives it to be a lie, a forgery, a falsity. Intellectually you get it. In fact, if asked to, you could explain the in’s and out’s of it seven ways to Sunday.  In such a way, even, that the Skeptic becomes Believer. But feeling the truth of it for yourself, is incomprehensible. Instead, your heart is like a limb that got lost in the snow, numb and without feeling to Truth’s certainty.

This is the season of Advent. A time of hopeful expectation. An expectant waiting for the one who has come, the one who will come again: Jesus. Jesus, the great rescuer of mankind, the one who was foretold by the prophets:

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Almost 700 years past between the time of Isaiah’s prophecy and the birth of Jesus. Imagine. Seven centuries of silence fell across the face of the Earth like an oppressive blanket for those who were waiting, year in and year out, for the Messiah. And then one day, a child was born who came to take away the sins of the world. A Rescuer, known as the God-man, Jesus, whose death would freely exchange our sin and enslavement for his righteous and freedom. And with that, the gift of eternal hope.

But, what happens when the reality of this world, at this present time, snuffs out the joy and peace that Jesus offers?  What happens when this season that is meant to remind us of the hope we have, instead presents itself as a bitter token of the hope we’ve lost?  What do we do when the tapestry of our life is torn apart by suffering—whatever the form be (death, divorce, illness, broken relationships, barrenness, etc.)? What do we do when the weight of life’s crash is so heavy and the brokenness so profound that we feel ourselves suffocating underneath the weight of it all, and we’re left feeling without hope?

What do we do when we feel like our suffering has ‘out done’ what Jesus has done on the cross and that he isn’t enough?

What a lonely and frightening place to be.

Preach truth to ourselves

We remind ourselves that sometimes what we feel isn’t always true. Just because you feel something or don’t feel something, it doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on its truth. Sometimes I feel I’m hungry when really I’m just bored. Other times I don’t feel tired when I really am. And most the time, I feel like I’m being funny when really I’m just being obnoxious. If I was married I could use a slew of analogies here. My point is, our feelings have a limitation when it comes to trust and we have to remember that. It’s okay to feel, but we have to remind ourselves that reality through the lens of grief is oftentimes distorted. Even if  we don’t feel it we have to preach ourselves truth, allowing our mind to be filled with it until our heart catches up.


We pray like hell. We offer up cries of prayer to the one who can save us. I’m often trying to remind myself that “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, his ear attentive to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).  God can take anything I cry out at him. He knows my heart anyway, whether I speak it or not. So why hold back? Why censor? We need to pray that Jesus keep us from distorted thinking and self-pity.  Two things that lead us toward a downward spiral that is hard to come back from. We must ask him to save us from the disbelief that runs rampant in our hearts when grief gets a hold of it. Primarily, I find myself praying that God save me from myself. That he save me from my own sense of what I think is ‘fair’ and ‘best’. I pray that he keep me from becoming like the Pharisees who tried defining who Jesus was on their own terms, telling him who he should and shouldn’t be, how he should and shouldn’t act and therefore missed out on who he was altogether. 

Remember that Jesus is our Suffering Savior

Yes, Jesus bore my sins on the cross, but he did more than that. He took my sorrows as his own. The book of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is the perfect High Priest, and not just because he is the pure and spotless lamb that absorbed the wrath of his Father for my sin, on my behalf. But, because he empathises with me in my weakness. Jesus was spouseless, childless, betrayed, abandoned, chastised, beaten, ridiculed, imprisoned, and put to death. He is not some God who sits far off and aloof. He knows your pain and mine. He is our most comforting suffering savior. He has felt everything that you and I will ever feel.

He is a Good Father

He is a good father. In his giving and his taking, no matter how painful it is, no matter how many tears you’ve shed. No matter how many times you’ve screamed at Him at night lying alone in bed, strangling your sheets in clenched fists, while his silence is deafening and your tears are inconsolable–I promise you, and myself, he is a good father. It may not feel like it at the time, but it is true.

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead

of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give

him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give

good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly

Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

So, what do we do then,  when it seems Jesus isn’t enough? We preach, pray, remember, and believe even when our hearts don’t feel it.

Santa has Nothin’ on Jesus

This morning I wake to a darkness that fills my tiny bedroom. I don’t get up right away, but lay here, silently, eyes closed, ears open to nature’s commotion outside my window, which assures me that the light of morning is on the horizon. And then it strikes me, as a metaphor of sorts, for the meaning of this weekend…

As a little girl, I remember my mother stating that Easter was her favorite holiday. At the time, I could hardly understand why. Why would anyone choose an early morning spent in stuffy dress clothes, sitting in a hard seat, listening to some man drone on and on for the better part of an hour? When all the while you could choose the holiday with the fat jolly man who brings presents directly to your living room, where you can spend all day in your pajamas. It’s like choosing vanilla when you can have chocolate. Sure, it’s an option, but it doesn’t make it a good one!

At the time, I just figured that’s what happens when you get old, you forget what fun is.

The implication of this weekend, for those of us who consider ourselves Christ-followers, is momentous. But, where does one choose to focus their attention in reflecting on this weekend? Clearly, it would seem Christ’s resurrection is the pivotal moment of importance. No? I mean, without his resurrection, the Christian faith becomes…futile. Without the resurrection of Christ, Jesus becomes nothing more than a man. Conversely, with his resurrection, everything changes. And, I mean, everything! Hope is restored, brokenness is mended, ashes turn to beauty, and mankind is connected with his glorious Creator.

It’s ‘Resurrection Sunday’ that permits the ‘Good’ in Good Friday. Without the resurrection, Friday becomes a tragic day in Roman history, where a really nice man, who spent time with the sick, poor, and outcasts of society was mercilessly beaten and left for dead. For no reason.

Good Friday. The day that signifies that Jesus stood in for me, absorbing the wrath and abandonment of his Father, on my behalf, so I would never have to. How do we not stop in reflection and genuine exploration of what that event means? The picture of Jesus, nailed to a cross shows us two things. One, who we truly are when left to our own nature: depraved, wicked, violent, self-absorbed, prideful, vengeful, jealous, out-for-our-own-good. Two, it shows us who this God-man Jesus is: completely loving, unbelievably merciful, abundantly gracious, Rescuer of mankind.

As a kid Santa brought me some amazing gifts throughout the years: my first leather basketball, my first pair of Skids, my first suede coat… never once did that fat jolly old man offer to stand in, as a ransom, paying my debt. Never once did he offer me the gift of life. And I don’t just mean life after death, I mean real life, in the here and now. The kind of life that when the storms of circumstance, disappointment, failed dreams, disease, addiction, abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and death come crashing in, so hard that you feel like you don’t have it in you to face another day—The God-man Jesus steps in. He kneels down, eye level, and reminds us that he has known sorrow and pain, too. And, the good news is, he has conquered it all.

Holy Thursday is the day that puts it all into proper perspective, for me—the passage of scripture, where Jesus is with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know the scene. The disciples have fallen asleep, even though Jesus pleaded with them not to.

Night has fallen. He’s alone, knelt over by a half dead tree. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” Jesus exclaims into the darkness, as tears sting the back of his eyes. He knows his hour has come. He can feel it, deep inside. As he sits there, alone, he prays through grinding teeth: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This is exactly what he and his Father have been discussing for centuries. This very moment in history. The moment where he exchanges garments with his creation, taking on our depravity, experiencing the wrath and abandonment of his Father, while giving us his righteousness.

I’m reminded this morning, as I lay here in my dark tiny bedroom with morning light on the horizon that the cup of suffering he swallowed wasn’t his—it was mine. And he swallowed it fully, absorbing it all on my behalf. It’s in reflecting on this great exchange that my perspective is set right. A perspective in which I assume my rightful place, one of humble gratitude at the cross, in recognition of the greatest gift I have ever received: Jesus, my great Rescuer.