Growing up, being a mom was always a dream of mine. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always “a mommy.” Maybe a marine biologist… and a mommy. Or maybe a teacher… and a mommy. But I hadn’t planned on having children as young as I did. I was still in my last year of college when I became pregnant with my first son. His dad (now my husband) and I were 21 and 22 years old, respectively (I’m the older woman!). At the time, having children didn’t mesh well with our carefree, late-night rendezvous in his parents’ basement. I had plans to finish my English degree and find a job as a writer or an editor. Then I would get married. Buy a house. Have a baby. Become a mom. Maybe when I was 30.
Life doesn’t always work as planned (especially when you don’t use birth control), but I’m so thankful that in this case, it didn’t. My son may not have been in my plans at the time, but being a mother always had been. And because of that–scared though we were–abortion wasn’t an option. Adoption wasn’t an option. Somehow, we would find a way to care for this unexpected baby boy.
Flash forward through a lot of hardships and struggles to getting married to my son’s father, picking out our first house as a family, and making plans for another child. But this time, it didn’t seem like having another child was going to happen as we had planned. It took nearly two years of on-purpose trying to get pregnant before my second son was finally a reality. And although this child was planned and desperately longed and prayed for, finding out that I was pregnant a second time gave me that same, scared feeling that I had the first time.
My story of becoming a mom, twice, leads me to believe that there is no “right time” when it comes to having children. While I do recommend using birth control until you’re “ready” to have children, I am also writing to say that whether it’s a part of your plans or not, becoming a mom is elating, terrifying, and rewarding in ways I could have never imagined. And in the 6 1/2 years of being a mother, I know that the only thing that you really need to make a decision to become a mom, whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned, is the ability to love.
Although being a mom was always in my plans, I am blessed by both of my children beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. And I wouldn’t trade either of my unique and drastically different experiences of becoming a mom for any other dream I’ve had.
As I pulled on my tennis shoes, I had lovely thoughts like, “I feel great today. The weather is perfect for a nice 3-mile run.” Or “I’m going to glide like a gazelle across the pavement.”
I gave my husband and the boys a quick wave, put on the headphones, and left. I started a fast walk as I fiddled with my iPhone: music on Pandora; tracking the workout with MapMyRun. And I ran.
As I began, my steps fell in sync with the music. “I could run forever,” I thought.
.25 mile later, my breathing started to get ragged. “Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. I can do this.”
Breathing under control, I turned onto a gravel road and faced nothing but fields and a farmhouse. My legs became heavy, tired. I focused on my arms, imagining they were parts of a machine, pumping and pulling me forward.
The farmhouse was on my right, a small house with several out-buildings. “Probably for storing equipment,” I thought. But I read a book recently about a family of country boys that were buying women and killing them, storing them in buildings just like those. I moved to the other side of the road.
Halfway up a small hill, my calves were on fire. “What happens if they burn right off my body?”
Then I heard, “Distance. One. Mile. Time. Ten. Minutes. And. Forty-Three. Seconds.”
“It’s only been a mile?” I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs didn’t seem willing. “I’ll just do 2.5 miles instead of three,”I thought. And then, “No. Three miles this time. I’m doin’ it.”
Finally, I reached the turn-around point. I paused the app, stretching my calves and catching my breath. A truck rolled slowly over the top of the hill. “Oh great, they’re going to stop and ask if I need help. I probably look like I’m dying.” The truck passed without pause. “Well I guess they’ve never heard of small town kindness. What if I were dying?”
I tapped the Resume button and started running again. “Halfway done. I can do this.”
My thoughts wandered until I heard, “Distance. Two. Miles. Time. Twenty-one. Minutes. And. Fifty-eight. Seconds.”
My calves started to burn again. I felt the back of my ankles tightening. “I can’t do this anymore,” I thought.
The next song started playing: “Die Young” by Ke$ha. I thought about my son. Cystic Fibrosis. Stories from adults with CF, swearing that running is what keeps them healthy. Ke$ha sang, “We’re gonna die young.” I fought back the tears. Pounded fear into the pavement. With each stride I thought, “Not if I can help it.”
When I crossed our driveway, I heard, “Distance. Three. Miles.” I shut it off.
I was finished. I did it. I will do it again. For myself. For my son.
If you’re a Christian, you’re likely to be familiar with this scripture:
I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. -Luke 6:47-49
For a long time, I was the latter of these two types of people. Though I had heard of God’s will, I still chose to build my life based on one idea of this world or another. Sometimes I built my house based on an intimate relationship, putting my significant other at the center of my world. Or maybe I built it around my friends, focusing on being the kind of person I thought would fit in with others. Other times I’ve built it on personal desires: to get ahead financially, to live longer, and yes, to have a family.
And yet so many times, my house has collapsed to ruins. When we build up our house around our spouse or our children, for example, not only are we putting the weight of our world on their shoulders, but if something happens to them–sickness, death, divorce–what happens to our home? It shakes, cracks, and crumbles to pieces. Our hearts become homeless.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of building and rebuilding my house, time and again, just to watch it fall to pieces. So several months ago, I started building my home on a solid foundation. This time, I’m building it around God and the one whom he sent to us, Jesus Christ. Through reading the Bible and prayer, I’m creating a stronger relationship with God on which I can build my home. For with God as my foundation, my home will never fall. Even if the world around me crumbles to ruin, my house will stand firm.
Keep in mind that Satan is the “floodwaters,” and that he won’t make it easy. But it will be worth it.
I hope that you will join in me in making your foundation deep and solid on God’s word.
I am so excited for today’s edition of Spiritual Sunday. I did an interview Friday evening via Facebook chat with a friend of mine, the blogger behind Be An Acorn. The thoughts and stories that he shared with me are jaw-dropping, humbling, and inspirational. And he gives all the credit to God, whom he is truly walking closely with through his journey. You’ll see what I mean… Enjoy!
Interview with Courtney from “Be An Acorn:”
Laura @ Close Families: So what first inspired you to write your blog, “Be An Acorn?”
Courtney @ Be An Acorn: I suppose I’ve always been a writer and after my encounter with God, where the blog name came from, I almost couldn’t NOT do it. I’d been blogging for awhile at the time and it was really just a natural marriage of two desires: writing and teaching via life experiences.
Laura: Yes, that seems like a good fit! When you say, “my encounter with God,” when would you say that happened in your life?
Wow. It feels so long ago. I think it was about 2007. I’d been a believer, sincerely, since about ’01, but while in the woods, alone, I’d been praying, really yelling in frustration, to God, when he verbally answered me. I heard as clear as if you had spoken to me “be an acorn.”
So by ‘encounter’ I really mean encounter, not simply ‘getting saved.’
Laura: Wow! That is amazing. Amazing doesn’t even scratch the surface of what that must have felt like to experience that. And how did you know what he meant by that phrase, “be an acorn?”
Courtney: I didn’t. Not initially. I was in a complete state of shock and disbelief. I spent days, maybe weeks, arguing with myself whether I’d really heard the voice of God or just made it up in my head. Eventually, after prayer and pondering, I realized it meant that great things start out small and to be the beginning of something great. Jesus uses seeds in so many of his parables.
Laura: And an acorn is a small seed compared to the great oak it will one day become. So since that moment, since you took those first steps toward something great, what have you learned through Be An Acorn… through the writing and teaching?
Courtney: That’s a great question.
Laura: Thanks. 🙂
It seems like I’ve learned on every topic. I’ve learned about soil, that what I’m planted in, what I’m surrounded with is incredibly important. Translated that means what environments and people I surround myself with.
I’ve learned that on my own I can accomplish nothing, but only by working with God in the way he designed me will I grow and prosper. When a seed is planted, it must actually be broken, it must die, before life can spring forth. I had to learn to die.
Laura: That’s a powerful statement. And humbling?
Very much so. Being broken hurts. Dying…I wouldn’t say it hurts, but I would say it can be quite terrifying at times.
It is the ultimate test of our faith, if what we have hoped for will be seen.
Laura: And if someone wants to hear God’s calling for their own life… how do you suggest they start?
Courtney: Well, God communicates in a number of ways, but we know that Jesus sent the Counselor to guide us. The Holy Spirit is a communicator for God. As it says in Acts, to be baptised in Holy Spirit, is that first step. Just like communicating with anyone, gotta open up the line first. So, just ask that he speak to you, welcome him. Ask for it. Ask God that he reveal the purpose he has for you and then be ready for change and challenges. 🙂
Laura: I’m sure being ready for it is key too! “Be careful what you wish for,” so to speak? No doubt, God has great things in store for us all, but I’m sure you’ve had challenges in this journey you’re on… Care to share a challenge you’ve had to face recently?
Courtney: lol. Which one?
Laura: Any old one you choose!!
How about learning to totally rely on God for provision. For over 16 months I have not had a “safe and predictable” income, yet somehow EVERY, SINGLE, month I’ve paid my bills.
He will take away everything you lean on, that isn’t of Him, until He is the only possible solution left. And He does this to get us to realize that He’s the only thing we need in the first place.
Laura: When you’re in that kind of situation, I’m sure prayer is the main thing that gets you through… What are some of your favorite inspirational Bible verses to help as well?
Courtney: It’s more than prayer, it’s more than us talking TO God, it’s hearing Him back. What got me through, and continues to, is hearing from Him and fellowship, more than it’s simply me speaking to Him. I don’t always know the numbers, but in 2Tim, it says “For I do not have plans to harm you, but plans to grow you and prosper you.”
“And if God is for us, who could stand against us?”
Lastly, of course Luke 8:15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Laura: And I love your insight on prayer as more of a two-way conversation. I think that’s what they mean when they talk about having a “relationship” with God.
Courtney: Absolutely! If any believer has not heard or sensed to a great degree, the voice of God, I beg you, I urge you to seek until you find. The encounters the prophets and apostles of scripture had weren’t only for them, they’re for us too!
Laura: Awesome. Before we wrap this up, I know that Hope Soap is another project that you are involved in and excited about. Tell me about Hope Soap, and how you got involved in it.
Courtney: I got into a conversation with a young woman by the name of Jennifer Preston at my local coffee shop. She told me about a non-profit she had started; Send Some Love. She builds baskets filled with toothbrushes, teddy bears, stuff like that and sends them to rescued victims of human trafficking.
She shared with me the financial challenges non-profits have. I wanted to help so I did some praying and brainstorming and came up/was given the idea of soap. I would sell soap and use part of the profits to put spa quality soap in her baskets and raise funds for her mission.
Now, we’ve grown beyond just the needs of her organization. We’re in several retail stores across our city and just received our first investment from an online retailer who’ll soon be selling our product to the entire world!
Laura: That’s awesome news!! Tell me a little bit about human trafficking and why it’s so important to support those victims. Does it happen here in the USA?
Human trafficking is one of the largest global crimes right now. It has surpassed arms trading and if not curbed soon, it will surpass the global drug trade, becoming the number 1 crime in the entire world.
It’s an over 2 billion dollar industry. The average age of someone being abducted into human labor and/or sex trafficking is only 12 years old. It’s more prevalent in Europe, but it most definitely is happening here in US too. You can safely presume that every major city has human trafficking happening.
Laura: So how can we help?
When you dig deeper you find it’s not just evil people doing evil things, but rather desperate people doing desperate things. Quite often it’s an effect from poverty.
Buy do-gooding soaps! And in addition, get involved with organizations like Endit! the A21 Campaign and/or local groups fighting it. Easily found by Googling.
But let me say one more. This comes down to the basic laws of economics; supply and demand. If we can decrease demand for this, it won’t matter if we can catch the criminals or not because they won’t want to do it if there’s no money in it. That translates to not going to strip clubs and no viewing pornography. I don’t know real numbers, but if church going people could stop those two things it would kill human trafficking. So, the solution is always the same: Love. Love God and love each other.
Laura: I think those are great thoughts to end on, Courtney. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. Any last words for the readers?
Courtney: Hmm. Everything changes when you realize that you are indeed here for a reason, that you have a destiny. With that in mind, I say Be An Acorn.
THANK YOU again, Courtney, for joining us at Close Families to share this awesome, inspiring, and humbling interview. To learn how you can help the victims of human trafficking, just click the button below to check out Hope Soap. I’m also going to leave the button on my sidebar so that you can have easy access to the project’s website anytime! I’ve used the soaps and they are AMAZING. Seriously, my home smelled good for days just from opening the box!! 🙂 If you have any questions for Courtney, contact him at Be An Acorn. Don’t forget to follow Be An Acorn to keep up with Courtney’s journey, or like the Be An Acorn page on Facebook by clicking here!
I’m so excited to tell you all that I have started a new opportunity. While I love blogging and will continue to do so, it doesn’t help pay the bills!
So today, I’m sharing with you the new adventure I have begun as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant! Before you click away from this page!!… Haha! Close Families is NOT going to become a blog about makeup or skin care or fashion. It’s purpose will stay the same. However, when I feel that there is an opportunity to share with you all some family-friendly information, and tell you about some great products that go along with that info, it would be a waste on my part not to do so!
For now, you can help me get off on a great start by checking out my brand new website and letting me know what you think!
In the future, I plan on a post here and there like offering a quick morning skin care/beauty routine for busy moms, an informative post about the importance of sunscreen this summer, and maybe even an occasional giveaway or great deals for my Close Families readers. I’m so excited about this opportunity, and I think it’s going to be a great fit for me, and a great next step for my family.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
**If you would like to place an order (Valentine’s Day is coming up after all… Why not treat yourself or your spouse!), I also want you to know that all of our products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and you can order and pay online through my secure website via ProPay!**
I’m 29 today. Every year since I can remember, I look forward to Christmas in December, and after it’s over, I have my birthday to look forward to. The New Year just slips on by, because the start of my “new year” begins just a few days later. As for celebrating my birthday, I keep it casual with a favorite meal for supper and dessert and maybe a movie or a good book and a glass of wine. I keep it simple, because I’ve learned that those are the moments when I am happiest. That being said, I do still get excited, a bit giddy even, over my birthday. It’s turning the page to the next chapter of my life, and that’s something worth celebrating, no matter how old I get. Each year is to be cherished, and while I fail at cherishing every single moment, I cherish the ones that matter most. When I look back at my 28th year of life, my first year of blogging, I notice how my stats dipped when I needed to pull out of the blogging world and spend more time cherishing those very moments.
They dipped back in April, when I developed gestational diabetes. I spent the extra time nourishing my body, taking care to track what I ate and when and how much and to check my blood sugar afterwards. Our after-supper walks as a family were some of my favorite moments that month, because my husband and son knew it was what I needed to stay healthy, and they willingly jumped on board.
My stats stayed low for the following month of May, when my sweet baby boy was born. By far, this was the biggest blessing of my year. He came unexpectedly, just as I had hoped for (I did not want to be induced, like I was with my first pregnancy!), and he was a beautiful, perfect little boy. He looked just like his older brother. He snuggled and nursed and bonded with me immediately. He made us parents all over again, and he made our oldest son a brother.
There was a final dip in August, when I cherished the last few days of my son’s summer at home with me before he started Kindergarten. He is so smart and talented in so many ways.
With the exception of those months, my blogging stats have been on a steady upward trend. My blog is growing and changing with every post I write, and although I started Close Families with a general idea of what I wanted it to be, it was the readers, the followers, the comments, the feedback… all of that has helped to shape Close Families (and the writer inside of me) into what it is today, almost a year later. I want to thank you all for your kindness, your support, your friendship. It means so much to share the bits and pieces of our separate lives that are joined by one common thread: family. And not just any family, but a family that wants to be close and connected. To have a lasting, enduring bond that is strong enough to face the harsh realities of the world. I’m still learning what that means and how to achieve it, and I hope you will continue to follow our journey.
One last thing: when I started this blog and gave it a name, I was a little over halfway through my pregnancy with our baby boy. Five months away from him being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. It wasn’t until months after that diagnosis that I made the ironic connection: Close Families… CF… Cystic Fibrosis… CF. Strange, huh? It’s a weird coincidence… or possibly a whisper of a bigger picture at hand.
Cheers to all of you for giving me a wonderful first year of blogging. I couldn’t be more excited about what my 29th year of life has in store.
Thank you, friends!
After we got our son’s official diagnosis of having cystic fibrosis, I was angry. My tender and delicate three-week-old baby had been suddenly thrown into a lifetime of hospitals, treatments, and life-threatening possibilities. When I went onto Facebook to make the announcement of his diagnosis–because what kind of sleep-deprived, devastated parent wants to make that many phone calls?–I only felt worse. Seeing all of the status updates about the wonderful things happening in the lives of my friends and family was like rubbing the injustices of the world in my tear-filled eyes, and it burned. There were friends who announced their children’s healthy well-checkups. There were family members who were on vacation, relaxing on a beach with a drink in their hands, like they were never going to have a worry again. What really made me livid were some of the complaints.
“Traffic is terrible today!”
“Ugh, the house is a mess, but I don’t feel like cleaning. Anyone want to do it for me?”
“I’m so hungry! Is it lunchtime yet?”
“Some people are so frustrating! Can’t wait for this day to be over.”
In that moment, those complaints seemed so insignificant and petty. I wanted to scream, “Really? That’s what you’re complaining about?” While these people’s biggest worry of the day was whether or not they were going to have time to stop at Starbucks on the way to work, I had real problems. I had a baby with a life-expectancy of 38. I had to endure the blood tests, the long doctor’s visits, and sorting out the confusing details of a complicated disease. Real problems, people.
I was angry with the world.
But then I thought about it from my son’s perspective. Despite the disease that had manifested inside of him, he was still a beautiful and innocent newborn. He cried and nursed and pooped and slept just like any baby should. He was content with the world. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel angry. After all, it was his body that was affected by this disease. It was his life that was imposed upon, and no matter how much it affected me, it would always affect him more. I couldn’t let him grow up thinking that he had a reason to be angry. I didn’t want him to believe that anyone else had a better life than he did. Or was more normal. Or was luckier. Or was more blessed. Something in me shifted when I looked at my sweet baby boy and saw the kind of man he needed to be: healthy, strong, and determined. I let go of the anger as best as I could, so that I could see my son as the perfect, tiny being that he was. I was grateful for him, and my Facebook status probably would have read, “I am such a blessed mama.”
Six months later, what do I complain about? I complain about the half hour wait at the doctor’s office. The never-ending piles of laundry and dishes. The grocery store being out of Cherry Pepsi. And somewhere out there, someone may overhear my complaints who is tackling something big. Something real. Something difficult. They may feel angry at my complaints. Just give them some time and perspective, and their complaints will be as good as mine.
**It’s Yeah Write Challenge Grid time! Come and join us.**