Nothing like 46 hours without power, internet, and heat (yes, we forgot to reconnect our gas logs after the great reconstruction of 2015) to truly force my hand to #savor every minute.
Yep, my friends, savor is my word for 2022.
And even if we had not lost power (and a bit of my sanity), savor had already been set in place.
Last year was my year of joy. In a world that still feels dark and twisty, last year I intentionally focused on what brought me joy and how I could bring joy to others. I have a lot to say on that subject, but I’ll save it for a later date.
While the power is still out and my sons are still napping on the basement floor in front of our only gas burning heater, (God bless this single little stove that has kept us safe), I’m going to officially pen my goals for my #yeartosavor.
I mean, I wouldn’t be me without goals. And I’m hoping, my friends, that you’ll either join me, or simply hold me accountable. And if I’m lucky, you’ll do both!
And as a refresher, these words of the year are not one-offs. I don’t just proclaim that word for one year and then forget it the following. These words are little life changes that become etched on my heart and in my DNA so that I’m hopefully making permanent transformations for the better.
I’m still a girl who craves adventure (2015).
A woman who’s heart needs restoration (2016).
A lover of whimsy (2017).
Experiencing a lot of firsts (2018).
Still struggle with staying in the present (2019).
Deeply desire to be intentional (2020).
And want to live a life that radiates joy (2021).
And this year, I want to savor all that is around me. I will only be here, in this season of life, once. My sons will only be this age once. I will only have this day, this year, this moment to in front of this gas heater to write these goals, once. So why am I expending so much time anxiously awaiting and planning the future?
I want savoring to be so much a part of who I become that people know I will always look them deeply in the eyes when they are talking. I will always look up to respond to my sons when they call my name. I will always observe and enjoy first, take pictures and document later.
So here are just a few of my goals:
To drastically lessen my screen time, without the use of app limitations, because the life that is right in front of me will always be so much more completing that the lives I’m following online.
To close my laptop and pick up a book. Friends, I’ve stopped reading! Like Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs don’t count for me. There are books four years old in my possession that I have yet to crack their jackets. This is unacceptable! I miss reading. I miss words and the smell of print. And authors who are dear friends. I’m bringing reading back!
I want to date. Clearly, I’m only talking about the same man. Jason and I are about to hit 15 years of marriage; a milestone! This past fall we celebrate 20 years together (and by celebrated, I mean I wrote a cute yellow post-it on his lunch sandwich). The average American marriage is now only 8 years. As shocking as this statistic is, if I want to continue to be the exception and not the rule then I need to make sure dating my husband is a priority. We went on a “date” the week before Christmas which means we ate hibachi as a late lunch and hit up Best Buy and Publix before going to pick up the boys by dinner. Not exactly romance but maybe it counts for quality time. But this year, we will do better!
Lastly, I want to spend more time in play. I heard recently on a podcast that that “best parents” are the ones who are “enchanted by what their children find enchanting.” That’s it! That was the summation of all their parenting advice. So that means, for my little three-and-a-half-year-olds nose whistling on the floor next to me, I need to be “enchanted” by all levels of construction vehicles, know all the words to Fortunate Son, Bad Moon Rising, and Midnight Rider (daddy’s songs as they call them), and be completely focused on them and their needs when they are home. My sons are watching. And I don’t want them to ever question if an email, a phone call, my work, or doing the never-ending piles of laundry are more important than them.
I heard on another podcast (I listen to a TON of podcasts while I’m on the road. If you ever need a recommendation, I got you!) recently about the last man to spot a Supernova with his naked eye. Yeah, I didn’t even know that a thing. This man was so accustomed to looking up at the night sky that he literally knew it as if it were the street he lived on. So, when the Supernova appeared, he noticed the change in the sky and was able to alert astrologers. Can you imagine this? Knowing the sky so well, that out of all the stars, you can literally spot that one-out-of-a-billion change. I can’t stop thinking about that man. That man didn’t just know those stars. He didn’t just like those stars. He savored his time with them. Daily.
So, it makes me wonder, what in my life am I missing because I don’t take the time to simply look. To observe. To learn. To savor.
That’s it friends. I want to put my phone down. Pick up more books. And spend more eyes-into-eyes time with the ones I love. I don’t just want to be in the present. I want to truly savor the present. I want to discover the Supernovas right in front of my own life.
Who’s with me?
I’m starting now. My sons still have about 45 minutes to nap. So instead of working (no internet) or doing laundry (no power), I’m shutting my laptop, and I’m opening a book with a battery lamp nearby.
I have so many books, authors, and subjects I need to reconnect with. So let’s start now!
Cheers to a year to savor.
Aussie White, Poopie McPooperson, The Great and Mighty Mighty Pooperson, Snuggles died peacefully alongside her parents of fourteen years on Tuesday, July 28th under the care of Cornelia Veterinary Hospital staff (Bless Dr. Harris and all that work there!).
A manipulator from the start, Aussie convinced a naive twenty-two-year-old newly wed to bring her home on a snowy afternoon in January when Chestatee High School was issuing early release due to inclement weather, Previous caretaker, Dr. Peggy Leland, wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. “All newlyweds need a dog,” Dr. Leland said before pushing a puppy in the first year teacher’s classroom and pulling the door shut. No one refused Dr. Leland. And no one refused Greatness. It was her “ultimate sad face” that sealed the deal.
As the snow drifted on the open car door in the parking lot of Collins & Bull, CPA in downtown Gainesville, GA, her fate was sealed. Snuggled up in a blanketed wicker basket on the passenger side floorboard of a white Pontiac Grand Am, new husband of seven month, Jason White, was smitten. Having never had a pet before, only farm dogs, Jason didn’t know what he was in for. But Greatness knew. She knew she had found her match, her equal, her family.
Tales of Pooperson are what dog legends are made of. Having more phrases coined after her than Chuck Norris, one did not simply “know Greatness.” One was “in the presence of Greatness.”
Pooperson was world-renowned for her craftiness and lack of patience, able to swipe a sandwich off the countertop with a one paw swoop and devour it whole before her mom was any the wiser. This epic looting quickly became known as pirating. And her mom was her favorite unsuspecting victim.
Not holding back her opinion and a knack for telling it like it is, Pooperson’s favorite four-letter word was “Arky,” and she employed it often on her archnemeses: birds, bees, ladybugs, and doorbells (including those on tv).
Having never learned a single trick or command and refusing to come when called by any of her names, Pooperson didn’t need gimmicks to win your affection. Her smile and hot hair dryer breath (“the wind of Greatness”) were enough. And contrary that her name suggests, she did not “snuggle” but simply allowed others to sit in close proximity, though this occasion was rare and usually documented with photographic evidence.
Her greatest accomplishments were many. After all, she was Greatness.
She survived being hit by a car at a young age.
A diagnosis of heart worms and proceeding treatment.
Four moves, including an unsatisfactory extended stay in “the tiny shit house.”
A kitten sibling for seven years that she covertly treasured, beloved Racooney.
Her daddy’s prolonged battle with nighttime seizures.
Her mommy’s prolonged battle with infertility.
And a monumental amount of tears that came with both.
Pooperson was a woman of great faith. She did not shy away from her feelings but embraced them. She knew she was the foundation to which her parent’s successful marriage was built upon. After all, she was the name her father could say after a seizure. Not his wife’s. Not his mother’s. But “Aussie.”
She survived the introduction of her little brother, Quigley, Mr. Wiggles in 2015.
And the miraculous twin pregnancy and birth of her chickens, Crews and Ryder, in 2018.
Pooperson was an early Jedi Master and adored all three of her young Padawan pupils.
The force was strong with her.
And she continued her craftiness mentorship program all the way, till the very end.
Beating the average life span of a dog by two years, if it’s not clear by now, Pooperson was anything but average. Being diagnosed last July with congestive heart failure, the cardiologist at Blue Pearl in Atlanta gave Greatness at most, six months to live out her days. Challenge accepted, she concluded. Defying those odds, she doubled the expectation placed upon her. She had much to live for. In the last two years alone, she witnessed her chickens crawl towards her fluffy tail in amazement, pull up and stand to touch her soft ears (her greatest feature), walk towards her then quickly learn to run. And call out her name in excitement when they saw her patiently waiting at the bottom of the stairs. “Poo Poo!,” they would scream.
Only her subjects were permitted to her call that. And yes, she did allow it. She secretly loved it. Because she not-so-secretly loved them! After all, they paid homage in the form of constant chicken hugs and a rainstorm of snacks from their tiny fingers and tiny high chairs.
Pooperson was rare and allusive, preferring to be a home body than a world traveler.
She was a firm negotiator. Stubborn. Persistent. And deeply, deeply loyal.
As said by her daddy on the way home from her last breath, “what will we now talk about?”
But that’s the thing.
You can never stop talking about Pooperson.
Her story is too grand.
Her legacy is too great.
Her impact is too insurmountable.
We will never stop talking about the love and life of Aussie White.
Her heart “gave way,” they said. But her love, never will.
At the wishes of Her Majesty’s family (yes, her legal name), give your furry children an extra hug, belly rub, and treat today. Basically, whatever they want. Pooperson commands it.
Ok, I get it. If people were listening in on Jason and I having a conversation about our family, they would think we were some new age hipster farmers that obsessed over the wellness of their indoor chickens. As much fun as that sounds, as cool as that reality show would be, we’re not that cool. So, I get it. If you don’t know us, we can be hard to understand, hard to follow. So that’s why I’m working on some chicken lingo, dictionary style. Here are just a few entries to get you started.
Artillery (noun): what Jason calls male parts on Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “Are you done with his bath yet?” “Just finishing up on his artillery.”
Chicken Cork (noun): paci. “Quigley, do you have a cork in your mouth?”
Chicken Cuts (verb): haircuts for Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “On Wednesday we have an appointment for chicken cuts.”
Chicken Hug (verb): a hug from Ryder or a headbutt from Crews (yep, he thinks a hug is a headbutt, our apologies in advance). “Dada is home. Go give him a chicken hug!”
Chicken Pics (verb): pictures of Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. “Don’t forget we need to schedule chicken pics this fall for our Christmas card.”
Coop (noun): crib, or more broadly the chicken bedroom. “It’s naptime, let’s go to the coop.”
Goats (noun): feet. “Get your goats off your brother’s face.”
Greatness (Proper Noun): the official title of Aussie White. Also goes by (but does not always answer to) Her Majesty, Pooperson, Poopie McPooperson. “What does Greatness want for dinner?” (hint: the answer is always cheese)
Nub (noun): The leftover tail after a dog has been docked. (Proper Noun): The nickname of Quigley (also called Mr. Wiggles, Quiggles, Mr. Little Dude.) “And how was Nub today?”
Poofs (noun): unofficial name for “Happy Baby Organic Superfood Puffs.” “Snack time! Do you want some poofs?”
Rally Hair (noun): a Mohawk created by combing chicken hair straight up post bath time, no product need. “Nice, Mr. Chicken. I see you got your rally hair and are ready for bed.”
Worsh (verb): sounded phonetically instead of wash in honor of Uncle Reggie, Tennessee born and bred. “Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken, you ready to worsh?
Ok, friends, is this helpful. Can you now follow?
It feels like we’ve been in a perpetual season of summer. And not just because we’ve hit 99 degrees in the middle of September (but that certainly doesn’t help). With just five days away from October, my sons are still sporting tank tops and shorts. When we go outside to walk and play, their cheeks and calves turn pink. The leaves are finally starting to turn but not because of cooler weather ahead because of extreme drought and dehydration. And with all of that it really feels like summer and man, of man, am I ready for a change. And not just the desperate change of season. I’m ready to embrace change and maybe, just maybe, break free from this schedule I’ve been white knuckling these past fifteen months. Yes, if you’ve tried to schedule anything with me since my sons were born then you know the schedule I’m referencing. The 7-11-3-7 schedule. That’s right, the chicken schedule. Fifteen months in and we’re still going strong with meals at 7-11-3-and 7 (yes, four full meals, they eat non-stop) and two naps in between at 9:30 and 2 (here lately the second nap is more wishful thinking). Now before you get all judgy, we’re not militant about this schedule. I mean, I don’t wake my sons up at 11 from their 9:30 nap with a peanut butter sandwich in my hand. If a chicken is sleeping, you let the chick sleep! But . . . we have been saying “no” to a lot of things we could be doing because this schedule is what holds us together, better yet, it’s what holds me together. And the boys know it. By 9AM, the boys are walking over to the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs ready to go up (smart chickens!). But am I teaching them to be rigid? Am I preventing them from learning flexibility, resiliency, whimsy? These are the things that keep me up at night. You know, how I’m potentially damaging their future selves. I better make sure my counselor is not planning on retiring in the next eighteen years. Just in case. In all seriousness, I’m now down to three months left in the year. My sons are never going to learn to be brave, if they don’t see that action in me first. So, baby steps. We’ll stretch them a little along the way, and who knows by the time cooler weather does arrive, maybe I’ll be stretched too.
I recently confessed to a friend (over Voxer, of course) that I think I’m really bad at beginnings and endings; first impressions and lasting impressions. She immediately gave me some push back and reminded me of our beginning. Huddled in a corner in a concrete conference center in downtown Salt Lake City. About to read AP Seminar Research Papers for 8 days! The very first AP Seminar reading. We were divided into small groups about to be specialized in a very specific task. Two rows of Dell desktop computers curtained off by heavy navy flame-resistant (I remember reading that specific label) on white pipe tubing. Some of us were teachers, college professors, curriculum writers, one was even a lawyer. Critical thinkers and over analyzers, we were up to the task. But I felt really out of my comfort zone. I looked around our cubicle for a friend, and I spotted her. Blonde, denim jacket, stripped shirt, hipster glasses, my age but way cooler. “There she is,” I thought. During breaks I would Diane-Sawyer-style interview her asking all the things: where she was from, how long had she been teaching, what she was teaching, does she have anyone to share her heart with (points for anyone who recognizes where this question comes from), where does she buy her clothes. You know, hard hitting questions. Over those eight days she became my break buddy, my dinner companion, my Salt Lake City excursion partner-in-crime, and now a lifetime friend. She got married the week we returned home; me to Northeast Georgia, she to Tampa, Florida. We don’t see each other often but Instagram and Voxer keeps us up to speed. She knows my home is always open to her come flood or hurricane. Randomly, I have a lot of close friendships that have started that way. They may call them chance encounters; I call them involuntary friendships or friendship under duress. I find someone, I introduce myself, and that’s that. We’re friends. Dave Matthews knows this, it’s all about “the space between" and I plan to fill it!
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At 6AM, I had already stepped in poop then pee in two separate rooms. By 7AM, I was cheffing up cinnamon rolls (It’s CinnaMon-day, in our house, it’s a thing!), eggs with mozzarella, fresh pears, answering emails, and drinking cold coffee with Mr. Chicken, Mr. Chicken. By 8AM, I had been bitten twice (same chicken), broke up a chicken fight, hunted for pacis, already given the twins puffs in a cup (because we snack immediately after breakfast), and started several more emails but too afraid and unfocused to hit send. By 9AM, it was all quiet minus the cathartic hum of Joey, our faithful Roomba. After getting up exceptionally early, the boys were down for what I hoped to be, a three-hour nap. Although I’d settle for anything at this point in the day. It’s Office Monday, what some people say is my luckiest day of the week, I call it my most stressful. Yes, I am enormously blessed to be able to “work” from home on Mondays but with 15-month-old twin boys who are climbing champs . . . it’s hit or miss how much I feel like I’ve accomplished. But in the words of my perceptive husband, “We’re aiming for no head injuries.” (We’re in the season where my sons need everyday helmets. Is that a thing I can buy on Amazon with two-day ship? Just asking.)
So, the start of my work week typically begins at 5AM with emails and ends with more emails by 10PM. I’ve been embarrassed to tell people that I work from home on Mondays. I don’t want anyone to feel that I’m phoning it in, just enjoying a lazy day in my pjs with my sons. It’s exceptionally hard to be productive, to be a good mom, to not text my husband a hundred times, to get through my to-do list so my Tuesday doesn’t feel as chest-tightening as my Monday.
But I’m not complaining. I don’t ever want to seem like I’m complaining. I love this new life. I’ve wanted nothing more than this life I’m leading this very moment and I’m not going to be the one who spoils it by not ringing out every drop of joy from it. Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, I hit my Apple Watch stand goal every day before three. And yes, sometimes it thinks I’ve started a workout when all I’m doing is scrubbing animal crackers off the hardwoods or chasing one chicken to change his extra heavy diaper. I get up early. I stay up late. My meals consist of whatever the boys don’t eat. And I work in the crevasses of the day or type and design while standing at the bar in my kitchen while they play pick-a-boo in-between my legs. As one twin mom tagged on Instagram, it’s #twinsanity.
At thirty-five, I am starting all over. I am figuring out this working mom thing my own mother master decades ago. My Pinterest is full of twin parenting blogs and toddler family meals. I haven’t had a pedicure or a hair appointment since June. I can’t remember the last time I went to supper club (and I’m the one who started it!). I miss my friends, and date night, and showering without starring at a baby monitor.
And YET! I have never felt more alive, more joy, more “Natalie” in all my life! I feel like I am finally coming back-to-life after years of waiting, restlessness, infertility, anxiety, insecurity, bitterness, and resentment. To God be the glory for everyone who hung around during those years. To God be the glory for choosing us to tell His story. To answer our prayers. To restore our hearts. I am humbled. And honored. And unworthy.
So, what will I do with His gift? I am going to keep on. I’ll write. I’ll share. I’ll pray. And I’ll celebrate!
I constantly think to myself, am I too old for this? Too old to be learning what it means to parent? God’s resounding answer: “It’s never too late to start!”
I hope you are following along, faithful friends. I am going to attempt to complete the Hope Writers Fall Writing Challenge. 10 days. 10 topics. Short or long, I’m ready to write. I’m ready to start!
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What happened to whimsy?
I’m a hopeless romantic.
A believer in fairytales.
And yes, a believer in miracles.
But what happens after the dream? The fairytale? The miracle?
What happens in between “happily ever after” and “the end?”
And in my case, what happened to whimsy?
In 2017, I took a deep breath, typed a few words, and confessed to cyberspace that infertility is hard, unfair, and isolating. But thankfully we are held together by the God of comfort, of good, and inclusion.
For me, that was a bold step. That was not something I spoke about with my closest friends. Not something I talked about with my mom. But God called me that year to be bold, to be brave, and to be obedient.
I think a lot about that girl. I miss her joy. Her light. Her energy. And of course, her whimsy. I knew that motherhood would change me. I knew that life would never look the same. I looked forward to it. My home is no longer quiet. My hands are no longer idle. My heart is no longer broken. In fact, it’s full. Bursting at the seams.
God granted the greatest desire of my heart and what did I do for Him in return?
I went back to my old ways, trying to do everything on my own.
In short, I abandoned Him.
This reaction was 100% instinctual and 100% intentional.
Come on, God gave me the one thing I couldn’t do for myself. The one thing I couldn’t hustle my way though. The one thing that caused me to rely 100% on Him, so how dare I come back to Him and ask for more?
You see, if I want to come back and be that girl, I need to once again confess.
I need to be bold enough to ask for God’s help.
What happens to the girl who finally gets everything she has ever wanted?
She allows fear in.
That’s right, I’ve been hiding out.
I could dive into long narratives about the specifics of my fears. But I don’t think those are helpful or necessary (that’s what my counselor is for, bless him!).
What I think is helpful is to confess that I’ve been once again leaving God out of the equation. I’ve been prideful. I’ve been trying to do it all on my own. And that pride is a sin.
My friend Ashley said it best, “Of course God would give you twins. You’re an over-achiever and that’s the only way to slow you down. To make you ask for help.”
So, what don’t I ask for help? Why don’t I once again get in my spot with my cup of coffee at 5AM and cry out to God to help with my fear, my anxiety, my need to control? Because, in my human mind I think, “Haven’t I asked God for enough?”
You may be laughing at this absurdity. Shocked. Surprised. Confused. Yeah, I’m all of those things. But for me, this is my reality. My hard conversation with myself. In my head, I know God does not put a quota on our needs. It’s not a Christmas list and He crosses items off because we’ve asked for too much. He’s God. He’s not human. And I agree with Ashley. God gave me twins because He knew that was the only way I would have to ask anyone for help.
So again, what happened to the whimsical girl who finally got the miracle she prayed ten years for?
She has allowed the joy of that miracle to be overshadowed by paralyzing fear and anxiety.
Why? Because how dare she ask God for one more thing.
The more I’ve been thinking upon this. The more God keeps putting these exact conversations in my direct path. Like, can’t ignore it, words-spilling-out-of-their-lips-when-all-I-say-is-how-are-you, path.
I sat in a quiet room recently with a dear friend where both she and I confessed eye ball to eye ball that motherhood is hard. Asking for help is hard. With tears rolling down our cheeks, it only took a few words for us to both let go of pretense and admit that the journey to motherhood is sometimes only half the battle. And right when the conversation was finally starting to lift, her bouncy long-legged four-year-old burst into the room, ran right up to me with a full embrace, and said “I’ve missed you!” I wanted to cry all over again. I think God has been saying the same thing to me too; “I’ve missed you!”
Another conversation spilled into my Instagram messages last week. A former student in the same season of life regarding motherhood, only separated by a decade (or more) of life experiences, admitted to me that she had been struggling with “a fear of new beginnings and experiences.” She ended what she called a “rant,” and I called a much-needed confession with, “I’m a happy person, I swear. This year has just been overwhelming.”
“Truth!,” my heart screamed out. And as absurd as it sounds, I’ve been wondering if at thirty-five, I’m just too old to get this whole motherhood thing. Have I spent too many years going my own way, that I’ve missed my window of opportunity to be really good at this? Have I asked God to help me be good at motherhood? No! That’s crazy. He’s has more important requests.
And then some of the most vulnerable conversations of all have been happening in private. Over Voxer. My go-to Walkie Talkie app where friends can record a voice message at their conveyance. Some of these messages have come from the West Coast, five-hour time difference, where a third-time veteran mom with a newborn admitted to me, but mainly to herself, that “I can’t take this anxiety anymore. I finally admitted to my husband how I feel.” Her shaky voice echoed all the feelings reverberating in my heart. What would it look like if we all really took the time to confess how we feel and simply ask for help?
That same week, another dear friend, practically in my backyard, who is an adoptive mom and a foster mom, sent me a message. Hiding in her closet, she just needed ten minutes to herself, and she chose to spend those ten minutes with me filling me in on her currently seven kids; two adoptive, five foster. Her message of heart break, of mom guilt, of anxiety eventually interrupted by a little boy who shouted, “I found you!”
Ok, God. I get it. I’m not alone. WE are not alone. Youfoundus. There seems to be this community of moms, new or veteran, twenty-something or thirty-something, who are all experiencing the same symptoms: anxiety, fear, guilt. It’s so comforting to know we are not alone. There is something so incredibly powerful about admitting these feelings and then hearing the response, “Oh my goodness, me too.” But what’s even more comforting? You. We have you! We always have!
To be perfectly transparent, I don’t know if I believed in mom guilt, mom anxiety before the boys were born. I guess it’s just one of those things you have to experience for yourself, like jumping out of an airplane, or watching Downton Abby all the way through. You don’t get it, till you get it.
You know, these hard conversations are just what God wants.
Keeping these feelings to ourselves is what the enemy wants.
And the truth is, hard is not relative. Hard is hard. There is no harder. There is just hard.
We need to stop ranker our hard against everyone else’s hard just to make us feel better (or worse) and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard. And God wants us to have hard. Because having hard means we actually need Him! And yes, “every hour I need thee!” Thank you, Annie S. Hawks, who wrote these lyrics.
This year I never declared my word for the year. In truth, I never settled on a word that felt right. I tried a few on for size. Some required too much, others too little. Well, with five months left in the year, I’m ready. I’m ready to stop allowing fear to paralyze me. I ready to break free from the anxiety that has kept me in hiding. I’m ready to invite God back in to help. I’m ready to be brave.
That’s right, 2019 is not over yet. I have #fivemonthstobebrave.
I am going to continue to focus on empathy and openness. Encouraging others to shake free of what is shackling them. And I ask you all to encourage me. I don’t want to raise my sons in a home controlled by fear. By a mom ruled by her anxiety. I want my sons to live a life of faith, of trust, of whimsy.
So, to kick off my campaign to be brave, here is a picture of me in a bathing suit, mom bod and all. Twin skin flapping in the wind. Encouraged by some former students while on a bachelorette trip I was way too old to attend, they inspired me more than they’ll ever know. They snapped this pic. Dared me to post it. Called me out for being the brave role model they once learned from and worked alongside in the classroom. These young ladies are now teaching me.
Yes, sometimes students do know best.
And the teacher learns the lesson.
Here we go friends, #fivemonthstobebrave.
“I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.”
an attempt to reflect
While everyone else in America seems to be gearing up for the Oscar performance of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (and yes, I will watch that too), I’m sitting here still thinking about 2018.
You know, I really thought that 2017, my year of whimsy, was the most transformational year of my life. But 2018 clearly took the cake. Which is even more ironic since I didn’t eat much cake at all last year. No sugar cravings. Very unlike me.
And what else is un-Natalie-like, the fact that I haven’t formally taken the time to truly reflect upon 2018. It’s not that I don’t wantto look back on last year. It’s not that it’s too emotional to look back. And it’s not that I don’t have the words to look back. In fact, I have too many words.
I simply won’t be able to do it justice. And because I know it won’t be perfect, not even close, it has left me paralyzed. How paralyzed? Well, fifty-five-days-into-the-new-year-paralyzed to be exact.
How do you attempt to construct phrases around the year that gave you life?
Not the year that I bore life.
But the year that brought meback to life.
I simply just don’t know.
But I guess I’ll start with the word I chose for 2018: first.
Not glamorous. Not clever. But simple.
Oh, it was indeed a year of firstsall right.
It was the first time I heard a heartbeat. And yes, I heard two.
It was the first time I felt a baby move. And yes, I felt two.
It was the first time I rented maternity clothes.
It was the first time I ate 7 homemade ground chicken tacos in one sitting! (it might have been 8).
It was the first time I pissed my pants in public, but luckily passing out was what people noticed.
It was the first time a baby shower was held in my honor.
It was the first time I got to decorate a nursey.
It was the first time I stood naked in front of a room of strangers. (Twin C-section is #allhandsondeck).
It was the first time I held my own baby. The first time I held two.
It was the first time I changed, breastfed, burped, swaddled, pumped, and then did it all over again two (or less) hours later.
It was the first time I have ever felt completely whole and yet completely inadequate.
It was the first time my life revolved around someone other than me.
Ding. Ding. Ding. That’s the kicker, folks.
For once in my life, it wasn’t about me.
My life will never ever again be about me.
And I’m 100% okay with that.
Almost three years ago to the date, I wrote these words on my very first blog post reflecting upon 2015, my year of adventure: “But what people did not know is that the deeply seeded adventure planted within my heart was motherhood.”
Like most things in life, you never truly realize how badly you desire something until it alludes you. And for us, starting a family, being a mother alluded me for eleven years. That’s a long time. A really long time when almost every little thing reminds you of what you can’t have.
But I believed it then and I believe it even more today, we serve a God of grandeur, of humor, and of grace. In 2015 when our home flooded, God used that flood to wash away all expectations and ability to plan and control. You know, my security blankets. I also wrote, “God restored our home to something far greater than we could have ever imagined or truly deserved.”
And you know what, He did it again three years later. God didn’t just give us a viable pregnancy. He gave us miraculous monoamniotic, identical twin boys. Created as one life, from one egg, our sons shared the same amniotic sac, placenta, but had two separate umbilical cords. Yeah, boy. Our sons are rare. Created by God during His right moment. For such a time as this. As someone once recently said, “He was showing off.” And I absolutely love that. What an honor that God chose us to show off with.
I already told you about our NASCAR-paced C-section; how our sons were born just thirty-three seconds apart. Our tiny little doctor, like an orchestra conductor on her stool commanding the attention of the robbed sterile masses all task oriented: anesthesia, Baby A, Baby B, mother, etc.
But what I didn’t share was what we discovered during that C-section. After the boys were out and that strong wave of nausea passed, our tiny little magician of a doctor was off her stool and standing by my side. “So, Natalie,” she said through her surgical mask. “You have a massive amount of endometriosis on your left ovary. In fact, your left ovary is non-functioning. I’d like to go ahead and take it out. What do you think?,” she said so matter-of-factly. I looked to Jason who was holding a barely five-pound swaddled Ryder, completely oblivious to the conversation the doctor and I were having. Looking back at her, she kept talking about insurance, and not feeling pressured or rushed to make a decision. I tuned back in when I caught her saying, “We don’t have to take it out now, but since you’re already open, I can easily remove it and tie off your right.” Looking from her to Jason, we kind of already assumed these boys would be our only but, in that moment, it was confirmed.
“Ok,” I told her. And in a blue flash, she was back on that stool with her team in place. The anesthesiologist who had been at my head the entire time, leaned in and whispered, “What little miracles these two are.” And all I could say was, “yes” as tears for the second time ran down my cheeks.
The next day my doctor came by while making her rounds and in spunky fashion apologized profusely for not catching my endometriosis. “I can’t believe we didn’t see it on the HSG.” That x-ray had been almost two years ago. So, who knows when the craziness occurred? It doesn’t matter. Endometriosis is no match for our Father. No other time, nor pregnancy was His plan. These boyswere meant to be our children.
So, yes, this year of firsts. So many things I have done for the very first time. And will never do again.
For me, motherhood has been so clarifying and so emotional. Not in the “I-cry-every-time-something-happens” kind of way. But in the “my-heart-literally-aches-for-others” kind of way.
First example. When I started back seeing schools, I made a pit stop one day at the Target in Athens. (insert Halleluiah chorus. Is that not what you hear when you see that iconic bullseyes? Weird!) The boys had to be about nine weeks old. I remember this because I was there returning all the Lanolin cream people have given me because at 8 weeks. I called this whole catastrophe of breastfeeding thing off. I was in the baby clothes section holding two yellow button top outfits (yes, I bought them matching outfits). Crews and Ryder had no yellow in their wardrobe and I had intended to rectify this. At the same time, one aisle over, another new mom was trying on those baby carriers with a little four week newborn and her little girl wasn’t having it. At the sound of that infant cry, my body literally ached for my sons. A physical reaction. For the first time since Crews had come home from the NICU, I was homesick for them. All it took was that one cry from another baby across a Target.
People use that phrase “gut wrenching” or “heart wrenching” but until you are a mom and your body viscerally aches for your child, you don’t fully know what that means. I thought I knew that feeling when my body ached to be a mother all those years. But now I truly know. And knowing, has put everything else into perspective.
These past eight months (I cannot believe they are 8 months old!), I think about two topics the most; my relationship with God, and my relationship with my friends. I confess I’ve been terrible at both.
Let’s start with God. I don’t know why He has chosen to answer our prayers. I don’t know why He has granted us more than we deserve when others so far-more-deserving are still in the midst of waiting, or heart ache, or indecision. Maybe God has given them some kind of “no.” Some kind of “not in My plans” response. I don’t get it. And I mean it when I say my heart aches for these people. Literally twinges with pain. But God doesn’t have to answer us. In fact, He probably shouldn’t. Let’s face it, we would only ask more questions. His answer isn’t the point. His love is. His grace is. His goodness is.
And now when my heart starts breaking for others, I think about His heart breaking for us. As a new mom, I want it all for my sons; health, happiness, wisdom, kindness, success, love (terrible order but you get the point). And as much as I want all of that, our Heavenly Father wants that for us even more. So, when God denies us something, or says, “just wait,” He is strengthening our faith with as much compassion and love as a Father can. And when we ache, He aches more!
Right now, my heart aches for a list of women who are longing for motherhood the first time, or the second time. I am still keeping a list of their names and when my words are not enough, I simply open that Note on my iPhone and I say their names one-by-one to our Father.
And right now, their names are appearing in my mind. And the tears fall all over again because their pain is real. But amen, so is our God! And there is so much comfort in knowing that He is sitting right there with us, holding out a box of tissues (preferably Puffs Ultra Soft & Strong), ready to hear the words from our heart because they are the words of His heart as well.
So, let’s talk about friendship. Wow, what a gift! And God has been overly abundant with me in the relationships of women He has placed in my path. Phenomenal, powerful, gracious, Godly women of faith who have put up with my selfish bullshit for far too long (sorry friends, there is no other word for it). The blinders have come off and I can now see what a terrible friend I have been in return. For the past decade I have been literally walking away from the best resources a new mother could have; other mothers. Instead of remaining seated at those tables, I have gotten up and walked out when the topic of parenting or motherhood approached the table. I have used the excuse “I have nothing to contribute,” “this is too painful,” “it’ll be better for them if I leave” instead of facing the reality that I was selfishly putting on some armor instead of leaning in and listening.
I was so ignorant. I showed up at their houses post birth without a meal, expecting long conversations, a swaddled silent baby to snuggle, and a hot beverage. You know, like in the movies. I gave one of my breastfeeding new moms wine for heaven’s sake! Who shows up to a new baby with wine?! This gal. (if this was a text message, facepalming emoji would go right here).
But not only was I inconsiderate, I became an eye-roller. Sometimes just mentally but probably more often than not, visually. I just didn’t get it and the worst part was, I didn’t really try.
It’s a miracle these people are still my friends. I’m going to assume it’s my wit and sangria making skills that keeps them coming back. But who knows? Regardless, I’m grateful! Shocked! And grateful.
Their grace for me proves once again God’s grace for us all. I will forever be ashamed of my behavior the last several years and forever appreciative they have kept me around.
For all of these reasons and so many more, I’m so glad my life is no longer about me. It has been about me for far too long. I want God to use the rest of my life to be about others. To be about Him. To be about His love, His grace, and His power.
That’s why I have finally decided that 2019 will be my year of . . .
I don’t know why I thought motherhood would come so easily to me.
Conception; clearly not easy.
Pregnancy; not the most fun I’ve ever had.
But being a good English major, I thought I could read and research my way into knowing all the things.
I mean, I read several books on all the topics ranging from sleep schedules to twin breastfeeding.
I pinned articles and blogs on what to pack in your hospital bagto what you need to know the first few weeks.
But in Natalie-fashion, the plans, the pins, the articles, the books did not prepare me for the emotions, the exhaustion, nor the inadequacy that I would feel as a new mom.
In my mind, I thought, “there are two babies, and two of us. We got this.” Plus, “your maternal instincts will kick in as soon as the babies are born,” everyone kept reassuring me. And in some ways, they did. But in all transparency, I remained pretty numb my first weeks of motherhood. I’m really not ashamed of this but truly grateful to God that He was once again protecting me during those first fragile weeks.
Crews was in NICU on breathing tubes and feedings tubes. And the numbness was a saving grace. As Jason and I pulled away from Northeast Georgia Medical Center, I was calm, possibly even internally giddy, to be driving north to our home with just one baby boy; Ryder, AKA kickin’ chicken. One baby I could handle, but two . . . that remained unseen. Until that point I had only had one baby since birth. Ryder and I had reached an understanding, as long as he remained calm, so would I.
So as Jason drove as slowly as he ever had north on 365, our God of peace was watching over me. I knew I would see Crews in just a few hours. I knew he was in far better care than I could have provided. I knew that I had so much to learn before bringing him home. Before officially starting my role as a mother to two.
Our first night at home was pretty wonderful. I ate. I showered. I shaved. I slept. I kept Ryder on the same feeding schedule at Crews in NICU; 9-12-3-6. That’s right 9AM, 12PM, 3PM, 6PM, and on and on it went. And every time I fed Ryder, I prayed for Crews. Nothing elaborate; just soft whispers of his name. Soft praises of His name. And to pretty much everyone’s surprise, no tears.
As the days waned on, Jason and I fell into a new routine. I was up every three hours with Ryder who was gracious to stay on this schedule. One of the grandparents would come every day to sit while we traveled to see Crews at either 12 or 3. Crews was under “no stimulation” except for feeding. So, when he was being fed, I wanted to be the one to do it. Thinking about it now, I’m emotional. His swollen body on IV fluids. His little hands and feet taped with sensors and IVs. But then, I was numb. I seldom cried. But now, looking back, the tears fall easily. Swiftly.
By the third week of motherhood, this routine of back and forth, up and down was starting to get to me. Every day we drove south hoping the drive north would include a plus one. Every day seemed unfair to both sons. We were constantly leaving one for the other. So, when Jason and my mother-in-law scheduled an in-home interview with a nighttime nurse, I was too weak to protest. Months before however, I had put up an epic fight.
It was February. It was a Sunday. I was hysterical. “Hell no,” was I going to have a total stranger move into our home a few nights a week and mother my sons for me! I had not even entered my third trimester and already it felt like others were making plans for me, not with me. Being unable to articulate the pain and hurt feelings from this “suggestion,” all I could manage to weep out was “I didn’t ask for this.” My mother-in-law took it as “I didn’t ask to get pregnant with twins,” I meant it as “I didn’t ask for you to find me some hired help.” Just another example of our sixteen-year pattern of miscommunication.
But after I shot her down, we did not breach the conversation again. Jason and I finally settled on a “once the boys are here, we’ll decide” agreement. I know it sounds terrible, but I just felt like it was bad luck to make plans for two babies when in my heart I was still holding my breath until I heard theirs.
But after they were born, after Crews seemed so fragile, and Ryder seemed so small, I had no fight left. On a Thursday afternoon she arrived. With a contract in hand and a check waiting on her, this was not an interview, it was a first meeting. She started on a Sunday night and later that week, Crews came home.
The control freak, prideful version of myself (you know, that side you try so desperately to hide) wishes I could say that I didn’t really need her as much as everyone thought I would. But in reality, I needed her more. When she started I described her “intrusion” as “a bitter pill to swallow” in a group text to my family. In my mind, even life-saving medication was bothersome when being force-fed.
But once again, let’s chalk this up to one more way I have been oh-so-terribly wrong as a mother. Her help, her guidance, her mentorship, but most importantly her friendship has been gracious, as in divine, God’s grace. Not an intrusion.
She taught me how to feed them.
How much to feed them.
What to feed them (four formulas later).
How to bathe them.
How to clip their nails.
How to handle an ingrown toe nail (yes, I embarrassingly caused that one).
How to swaddle them.
How to create a routine.
And has gone with me to every doctor’s appointment including their first shots, where we were both proud that I didn’t burst into tears alongside the boys.
I have affectionately referred to her as my Mary Poppins. I may not live on Cherry Terry Lane nor craftily written a rhyming advertisement like Jane and Michael, but yet out of thin air, she appeared. When I need it, she gives me a pep talk, or quietly shoos me out of the room. And yes, we can be seen at play time or bath time sporadically breaking out into song (we both love Disney’s Spotify playlist). And with just a few weeks left on her contract, I feel deeply lost and emotional about losing her. Like Mary Poppins, we knew her presence would only be temporary. This is what she does. She teaches new mothers (especially of multiples) how to do just that; become mothers.
I never thought I would be one of those over protective mothers. You know the kind. The ones who have a hard time leaving their kids, taking their kids places, or trusting others to do what is best for their kids in their absence. Well, yep. You guessed it, I’m the worst! I’m so terrified to ruin our schedule. To ruin what is working that we have not deviated from this routine since they were born. That’s right, in sixteen weeks! Now on a four-hour schedule, don’t think about asking me to go anywhere around 7, 11, or 3 because that’s feeding time, and 90 minutes after that, we nap. Some people think this rigidness is crazy but unless you’ve held two screaming newborns at the same time, don’t bother trying to reason with me. It’s working. And I owe the sanity, the sleep, and the success to her.
Which brings me to you, dear friends. I know I have asked a lot of you all in the past. So many prayers. So many tears. So many heartaches. But you have been there through it all. I have just one more small favor to ask. I need another Mary Poppins to swoop down on my doorstep come late November. Another God-ordained, miracle worker to come to our home during the week to watch over precious Crews and Ryder. I live in Banks County, not exactly Atlanta where in-home nannies are few and far between. But maybe, you know of someone. Or at least, can pray alongside us for someone to come into our lives.
God has been so gracious to provide all our needs, so I am confident He will provide this need as well. But in the meantime, when I get down on my knees to pray, in their nursey as they fall asleep at night, I thank God for her. And every time, the tears come. To entrust someone with your most precious possessions is a great honor. God entrusted His son to us. And now I must entrust my sons to Him.
Thank you, friends for your prayers.
Thank you for your recommendations.
To God be all the glory! Great things He continues to do.
When I was a little girl, I had the most embarrassing case of homesickness. I would go hang out with my friends, play, eat dinner, get ready for bed and that feeling would begin to creep in. Timed just as the sun was setting, it began as a knot in the bottom of my stomach. And by nightfall, I would feel so incredibly sick and lonely. I would put on a brave face for my friends, climb into bed next to them or on a makeshift bed on the floor and would silently begin to cry. Like clockwork, their moms would come into the room (either because they knew I was on the verge of bailing, or just to be good moms and check in on us girls), but they would find me balled up in tears and would call my mom. Regardless of the time of night or the distance needed to travel, mom would show up. Just seeing her silver Pontiac pull in the driveway would lift the knot and part the waters cascading down my round cheeks. By the time I was in the car pulling away from my still sleeping friend, I was fine. I have no idea why I was like this. I have no idea what magical hold my mother held on my heart (and my stomach). But all I can say is that is was like magic. Her presence, her calmness, just her face, made me feel safe, secure, and loved. Mom never once chastised me for not making it though the night. I guess in a way she was always prepared for that phone call. And maybe super shocked when she didn’t get it.
This homesickness came and went as I grew older. It didn’t reappear so much at sleepovers but always the first day of school every year, like clockwork. I would be standing in my closet removing the tags from the new clothes I was about to put on and I would feel that ball in the pit of my stomach begin to toss and roll around. No, I didn’t want my mommy to walk me down the halls the first day of Ninth Grade but what I did want was that since of calmness, love, and security that came with her presence. I had learned more control as time passed and could hold back the tears, the anxiety. I would step out of the car, or off the bus and would fake it till I felt it. I would fake that confidence that I so closely associated with my mom’s presence. And by the time first period ended, the feeling of homesickness had passed or at least lifted so that I wouldn’t have to fake it so much.
Don’t laugh, but I experienced this same pattern of feelings the first day of college, and the first day I taught high school. Yes, even as a twenty-three year old standing in a classroom in front of clueless freshman, I was holding back those feelings of grabbing the phone and calling my mommy for just a few words of comfort. But, as the pattern has taught me, going through the motions and staying busy, the knot would gradually loosen and loosen until I no longer felt it’s presence.
It’s been a few years since I’ve really felt that old familiar knot. In fact, I had almost completely forgot about him. But becoming a mother has intimately reintroduced us.
The birth of Crews and Ryder clearly did not go as planned. I’m chuckling to myself because let’s face it, with God, why make plans? I’m sure He laughs right alongside me when He hears my perfectly constructed plans. I mean, you should have seen the birth plan I wrote, typed, and printed for the hospital. Yes, Type A, all the way.
Scheduled for 7AM, Jason and I arrived at the hospital on Tuesday, June 12th at 5AM. I’m not sure either of us slept the night before. Just the thought of them actually arriving was so surreal. Like Christmas morning and the night before your wedding all rolled together. On the 30 minute drive to the hospital in the dark that morning we had officially decided that Ryder’s middle name would be James after his police officer cousin who passed away from a job related incident when we were just college kids in love. Everyone says Jason looks just like Tim (James Timothy) and we just knew our sons would look like them both (we were right). But other than that major decision, the car ride and the hospital prep was fairly silent giving more proof to the phrase, calm before the storm.
By 6:50 we were separated; Jason to scrub up, and me for my spinal block. It all happened so quick. No joke, NASCAR professionals would be impressed with my phenomenal doctor and the crew of sixteen in the Operating Room. By the time, Jason entered the OR and sat down next to me, we didn’t even have time to speak. I had just asked him to distract me with conversation when our doctor said, “Dad, got your camera ready?”. Jason and I were both confused. Why? What did he need to take a picture of now? And then we heard those cries. Just as they are now, hot tears welled up in my eyes and blinded my sight. Before Jason could find his cell phone in his pocket under his scrubs, a nurse grabbed it, and we heard second cries. Born thirty-three seconds apart at 7:52AM, Crews Bradford and Ryder James entered this world and our lives. This was the moment I had prayed so many years for. This was the moment so many had prayed so many years for. I was a mother. We were parents. I turned my head to the side and could see both sons being attended to by their pit crews (no pun intended, dear Crews). Jason walked back and forth between teams and cut both cords all while a nurse snapped the pictures our hearts had been praying to capture.
Both sons were eventually laid across my chest and for a brief moment, nothing around us mattered. Ryder picked up his little arm and wrapped it across his brother and my heart burst open. I’m a mother. They are brothers. They are alive and healthy. God’s promise in my heart was fulfilled. I could not tell you what was going on to my body or what was happening around us. It didn’t matter. Only those tiny humans on my chest mattered.
But that moment was just that, a moment. The nurses noticed that Crews was still turning more and more blue and he was quickly grabbed and whisked away. Jason was asked who he was going to go with, me or Crews. He did not even look at me when he responded, “Crews.” In that moment, I knew it. Jason had become the father I knew he would be. The father he had been so afraid he wouldn’t be.
Ryder and I were both cleaned up and pushed across the hall to recovery. Being the first birth of the day, it was quiet and empty. There I was alone with this tiny creature wide eyed looking at me. Again, not the picturesque vision I had imagined with two sons and a doting father by our side. It was just us. For some reason, in that hour alone, I didn’t feel like a mother. Maybe it was the fact that I literally couldn’t feel anything. But even as the spinal block wore off, something was amiss. I was eventually rolled up to my room on the second floor with tiny five pound Ryder where two sets of anxious grandparents sat with questions I had no answers for. After just a few minutes with Ryder, he was also taken from me to transition due to his low blood sugar. So just three hours after my miracle moment, I was baby-less. I just remember thinking, “Ok God, once again, I surrender control.” Clearly, I could not hustle or negotiate my way out of this. I couldn’t even get out of bed or use the bathroom on my own.
Those first fews days in the hospital are one run-on day. Eventually Ryder was brought back to us. Jason and the grandparents would go up and down the floors to visit Crews. They would bring me back news and pictures of my poor son hooked up to all kinds of tubes and equipment. Once a day, Jason would roll me down to see him. And eventually I was allowed to hold him for 90 minutes at a time. Again, it did not feel real. He did not feel like my son. I began to slowly, internally panic that we wouldn’t bond. That he wouldn’t know me. I wouldn’t know him like I know Ryder two floors up.
But as the days and minutes together progressed, that fear inside of me was quickly replaced with the old familiar knot. It took me a few days to identify with words that familiar feeling. I said it first out loud to my mom while laying in bed just a fews days after being discharged with Ryder. Jason and I were still making our daily trek down to Gainesville to see and hold Crews during his “handling times.” Again, just once a day for 90 minutes. Not enough. Would never be enough. That knot would slowly build once again in my closet at home. I would be putting on my pants and he would appear. The sickness for leaving Ryder. The sickness for seeing Crews, knowing he was alone most of the day and that I would also be forced to leave him too. Did he feel abandoned when I left? Did he feel my absence as I felt his? That stretch of 365 from my house to the Gainesville hospital exit will never look or feel the same for me. That was the road that separated me from two sons for seventeen long days. I would fight back the tears coming and going. I would fight back the tears while holding Crews. I would fight back the tears while returning to Ryder. I am fighting back the tears now (and failing miserably at it). Homesickness has never felt more real to me in my life. Not as a child being separated from my mommy for a sleepover. Not as an anxious preteen entering high school, or an insecure young adult embarking on a career she was clearly unprepared for.
But I never had time to wallow in those feelings. I was too busy. We were too busy. Going back and forth, tending to the needs of two sons who desperately needed us in two very different ways. The same week we returned home with Ryder, two dear friends of ours lost loved ones. One friend lost his son in an mysterious tragedy. Another lost his father to a sudden passing. While swaddling one son at home and praying for the other in NICU, we also attended two funerals. Talk about a heart check. Jason and I both felt a deeper sense of loss for both our friends. We now got it. We finally feel it ourselves, the love of a parent to their child, the love of a father and his son. And when I think about that feeling, homesickness creeps in again. That feeling I have never been able to identify, that feeling I have towards needing my mom, that feeling I now have towards needing both my sons, what others may call bonding or parental love, I will forever call homesickness.
And yet, how can I not reflect upon how deeper and greater our Father’s love is for us? Does God feel homesick for us when we are astray? Does He yearn for us when we choose to walk this path without His guidance and presence? I now know He does. Just as I feel that pit, that knot begin to arise when torn away from my sons, God feels it exponentially more for us. We are His creation, His children. His beloved, and He wants us to draw near, to need Him, to love Him, to have a relationship with Him. I truly believe that is why God’s wrecks our plans (at least mine). He knows me better than my mom and dad know me. Better than Jason knows me. He knows that when I make plans they don’t always include Him. So, why not wreck those plans? Why not force me to surrender and include Him, my Father, in those plans? After all, God does not want to be homesick for us. He wants us to feel that magical, spiritual feeling of security. Like He is pulling in the driveway rescuing us from a night on the floor in tears.
Drawing near to my sons, I know they are safe, secure, and loved. Drawing near to my Father, I know I am safe, secure, and loved.
How deep the Father's love for us?
How vast beyond all measure?
That He should give His only Son,
To make a wretch His treasure.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation