Sunday, September 16, 2018

A fresh start and an open heart...

By Taryn Ramsammy

Ever since this Florida girl has moved up north, Fall has been my favorite season. Since becoming a mom, September in particular has always brought this wonderful feeling of renewing and refreshing. September was the month we became parents and accepted our first placement of foster sons, and since then every year that day feels like our family birthday, where we reflect on the past year and dream about the next. Now that our oldest kiddos are school aged we have an even more literal new year starting every year at this time and I think I look forward to it more than actual New Year's. 😝 It's such a blessing to feel like I have a clean slate and a fresh start at whatever I'm striving for, and my hope for this new year of MOPS is that all of you feel that too!

My first year in MOPS, I was a mess! I had three babies, and zero local momma friends. Our family is 1000 miles away. My husband is in exam cycles twice a year. So on top of being tired and stretched thin, what I remember most about that first year of motherhood was the loneliness. Back then I was a newborn photographer, and one of my clients came for a session. I know she had to have seen a little bit of crazy in my eyes because after chatting for a bit she looked at me and said, "It's time you join MOPS." Y’all. She was so right. I set my alarm and was probably the first person registered that year. I was desperate. But it turns out I was also real proud.

Either the crazy was still in my eyes (very likely) or maybe I had HELP ME written on my forehead (also entirely plausible) because from the first meeting I was surrounded with so many offers of support—from women I had just met. It was so foreign to me! I’ve always been a talker, so sharing at my table came natural. But I think that’s where I expected it to stop, because that’s how I had been going for so long—vent on the phone to my sister about whatever aspect of mom life I was particularly struggling with that week, then hang up and make it work on my own. So wasn’t the meeting just going to be another vent session? NOPE. These women didn’t want to just hear my struggles. They wanted to help me through them. But again I was too proud.

That whole year outside of meetings or play dates, I stuck to myself. In my head accepting that offer of help was admitting that I was failing the mom game hard. If I was taking their help, then clearly they were doing way better than me because I definitely wasn’t put together enough at that point to be offering anyone help. (Turns out the real reason I wasn’t offering was because I had NO FRIENDS to offer help to. #humbling 😂🤦🏻‍♀️) But honestly, I had prayed and longed for motherhood for years. God had finally fulfilled this deepest desire of mine so shouldn’t I be eternally grateful and just put my big girl britches on and figure it out like all of them seemed to have done? That's the headspace I was in. That's how I thought it was supposed to be. But y’all. God does not intend us to walk this road alone.
And let us consider how to stir up 
one another to love and good works, 
not neglecting to meet together, 
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, 
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

-Hebrews 10:24-25 

Motherhood is hard y'all. Really dang hard. Especially in these little years where we're losing more sleep than we did in college, where we're usually covered in at least one other person's puke (there's another college connection there--but honestly I'm just too tired to come up with it), where our privacy has evaporated and we go hours and hours some days without any adult conversation. We may be out of control of most of that. But that last part is up to us. We might not be in charge of how many diapers we are going to change that day or how many questions we will have to answer about the inner toddler workings of the world or how many LEGO’s are going to get crushed into our feet. But we are entirely in control of how we are going to fill our soul, of who we are going to surround ourselves with, of how we are going to strive to focus on the blessings before us. For me that comes in large part through fellowship. 

I so regret sticking to myself that first year, for in the few that have followed when I have allowed myself to let my guard down I have gained so much. I have built such amazing friendships. I have experienced the grace and love that comes from not only receiving support but also giving it. I have learned from women who have broadened my faith and made me a better mother, wife, and over all human being. So my prayer for you all this year is that you don’t waste the time I did second guessing yourself or feeling less than or unworthy of support, for we know those anxieties are of the enemy’s making. Instead I pray that you would come into this year with an open heart. Allow yourself to open up to your table, or to the mom you meet at a play date or in line for breakfast. Share your heart and take advantage of the support God has put before you. Surrender daringly, and breathe freely here for you are fearfully and wonderfully made and we are so grateful to have you. 💛

Monday, January 29, 2018

Before My Eyes

By Cassie Glubzinski

On Thursday last week my daughters and I had an epic start to our day. My oldest is in kindergarten, and she rides the bus to school. I live right off of a traffic circle, but our neighborhood is not usually busy. Often I let my girls run ahead on the sidewalk, but on that day I told them to wait for me for some reason, and I quickly discovered why.

There's a young man in our neighborhood who attends high school. He's a good kid, but he is most definitely not known for his exemplary driving. Thursday morning was no exception.

As my daughters and I approached the edge of the inner traffic circle and prepared to cross the far side of it I saw this young man's truck coming way too fast (and getting ready to cut the circle by going the wrong way) toward us at the same time as I saw a dump truck coming the other way.

I literally grabbed both girls tighter and jerked them back toward the center of the landscaped area of the circle, and we stood less than twenty feet from a head on collision.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, but my heart would not calm. I frantically looked down checking to make sure both my daughters were okay. By the exclamations coming from their mouths I could tell that they were, but I felt far from alright.

"Mommy! That truck crashed!"

"Yeah! He didn't go the right way!"

I had to walk my children around a crash site just to get my daughter on the bus.

As I walked I found myself holding tighter to their little hands, to the point that my youngest asked me to let go because I was hurting her. I apologized and picked her up, but I wasn't willing to let her go.

Once I got Gemma on the bus I walked back and checked with the two involved in the crash. They were taking pictures of the damage to both vehicles.

As I approached them my first question was if they were okay. They both assured me that the only damage done was to the vehicles, and that they were fine. Upon further questioning I found out they had not already called the police, so I took the liberty of doing that myself.

The teen who had caused the accident was literally shaking once I got off the phone with the police.

"Are you alright? Are you cold? Do you need another jacket? Or would you like to sit in the cab of your truck until the cops arrive?" I asked him.

"No. I'm fine, but my dad is on his way, and he's going to kick my a*%^," he told me while I held little Evolet in my arms.

Of course, she informed him that was a bad word, but he didn't apologize. He just walked away.

When he walked back after I had given my name and number to the other drive in the event that they needed a witness he sharply asked me, "What do you mean you were a witness?"

"I was walking my daughters to the bus stop when you had the accident. You almost hit us, but I pulled them back in time to keep them from getting hurt," I told him.

"Well, the cops and my dad are on their way, so I think you've officially done enough, don't you?" he smarmily replied.

Wow. Attitude much?

I'm surprised a fly didn't make its way into my mouth with how low my jaw was dropped. After a moment of getting my bearings I opened my mouth with my own rude retort...

"Hey. I know you're upset and scared, but you broke the traffic laws. They are there for a reason, and you should be grateful that you get to learn your lesson without anyone getting hurt and without any casualties, because that could have very easily happened."

Wait! Were did my own snarky retort go!?!

Actually, scratch that... Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit taking the words right out of my mouth and placing a better response upon my lips.

He just looked at me. Stunned.

Then he turned without a word and walked around his crashed truck.

I was fuming. Standing there a waiting for an apology from this kid who nearly killed my children.

He nearly killed my children! All for an extra two seconds in a traffic circle.

And that's when God whispered in my ear, "My Son was killed. Actually murdered. And even though some who are to blame have apologized, many others have not."

Oh. My. Goodness. Me.

I stood there looking after this punk kid who had caused this accident, and I was angry and frustrated and downright mad, and God was telling me to forgive and let go. Even though this teen hadn't asked for the forgiveness, I needed to extend it.

What an incredible morning, right?

But even more amazing: what an incredible God. Am I right?

His own Son was beaten, mocked, scorned, humiliated, and left to die. Murdered really. And even while dying his thoughts were not of himself. He said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

My translation of that on Thursday morning was, "Forgive him. He's just a kid who thinks he invincible and untouchable. I'm still working on him."

My kids are totally okay. They had an exciting story to share with Daddy when he got home, but I had some serious heart work to do with God that day. I had some of my own resentfulness and bitterness to release and lay at the foot of the cross.

Forgiveness is hard. Especially when it is deeply personal. But keep in mind, nothing could be more personal than the murder of child, and God knows exactly how that feels. And He gives the most amazing example for us to follow in it.

So, to the young man who attends high school and lives somewhere in my neighborhood. I forgive you.

And to the God who gave everything to have a relationship with me, forgive me for my stubbornness and pride.