Friday, May 25, 2012

So I realize that you are generally supposed to do a year in review in January. Since I can't get it off my mind, I will go ahead and tell you guys (whoever you may be)...late though I am.

For a while now, my years have had themes to them. If I am good, I write them down but mostly, I notice in December what it was and smile. 2011 had a distinct theme, one that is extremely important to me because it is the culmination of years and years of walking with the Lord. The theme was this: Driving out Fear. "(See 1 John)

1 John 4:18 has always been kind of a mystery to me. "Perfect love drives out fear." It evokes more questions than answers for me. Who's perfect love? God's? Can people love perfectly? This verse has been echoing in my heart for years....years! If this is true God, why am I still so fearful? Fearful of dumb stuff and legitimate stuff. My heart was one big field of opportunity for the enemy. Thus, my loving Jesus set out to eradicate that weakness for my good, by calling me to face my fears.

So here it goes, the big lessons from ordinary things. Things God asked me to do that most of you can do without blinking an eye. That is why my journey has been visible only to me, the Lord and a handful of people who were fortunate enough to see fear roar its ugly head in the form of a breakdown.

Biggest fear.....drumroll.........Entertaining people at my house.

I can remember the first time that God called me to work on this fear. "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13. That's not the only verse that gives hospitality as a command. Type hospitality into your bible search engine and just see how many times it shows up. It's a lot. Every time I would roll over this concept, I inwardly winced. I thought, oh gosh, not that. I can give, volunteer, keep the nursery, share the gospel, disciple someone, but please don't make me open my home.

My dinner club friends (Shawnee DC shout out) can attest to this fear. That was step one to God removing fear in my heart. I would go to dinner club, once a week with some lovely ladies connected with OBU. Occassionally, it would be my turn to host. I would have to have a pep talk on the phone with my mom before any of these occassions. I dreaded everything: cooking, greeting the first person who came, small talk that depended on me to carry it, the fact that none of my dishes matched, everything. The only thing I was comfortable with was when it was time for  everyone to go home and they all politely left at once. Then my heart would return to normal. A little reference, that began in 2004.

The second place that God began to pull away this fear was in my jewelry business. In 2008, I started selling Silpada (LOVE IT). The only problem is that this business requires home parties. My stomach dropped at the thought. I can remember my first party. I invited everyone I knew, got great invitations, picked food that I knew would work, cleaned my house and of course, had my mom and sister Leah come so that I would have a safety net. I vividly remember talking to them and saying, "What if nobody comes? That will be so embarrassing! What if they don't have fun and then they stop liking me?" Yes, I was 26 years old and not 14. I am telling you, this fear was deep and intense. Short version, the party was great fun and I got lots of great jewelry and made new friends.

As much as selling the jewelry pushed on my insecurities, inching me closer to God's perfect love, it was not the kill shot. Jewelry got to be this really fun buffer. If there was an awkward pause, there was always the jewelry to stand in between us. God still wanted more from me. He wanted me to have people over for dinner. It was a clear, undeniable call in my heart. I started small with friends who knew about my fear and I knew wouldn't judge. Eventually I got braver but not too much. I was averaging 1.5 dinner parties a year.

Then in January of 2011, Terry and I sat down to do our yearly goals. One of those lists included people that we would have over for dinner. I wish I could say that I had all of them over...I can't. However, I can say that I had my inlaws, my neighbors, good friends and lots and lots of college students. I even go into the habit of having a group of college students over every Sunday for a while. I would try daring new recipes. I made Collard Greens.....and they were delicious. With each Sunday, I could feel the grip of that fear loosen until I realized I was free.

You are probably thinking that this is a little stupid and why is it important for me to get rid of that kind of fear? If you don't like having people over, just don't. Right? Wrong. The reason it was so important for me to conquer that fear was because people need community. I need community and they do. Every person, no matter their response to other people, needs community. Community is most easily created by engaging in common activities. What could be more common than your dining room table? People need to be loved and God had given me a great gift of a big house and money for food. The only thing standing in my way of loving people was my fear of doing so in my home.

What are you afraid of? Let God press on it and break it open, I dare you. Perfect love drives out fear and allows us to drive out the fear in others.

Love you guys! Who is up for dinner? :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In a world that is growing increasingly hostile to the true gospel, I find myself tempted to compromise. It is like a centripetal force pulling me in with the movement of my environment. The crazy part is, I find myself wanting to shroud that compromise in religious language.

I have always prided myself in standing boldly for truth. The problem with me however was that in that posture, I was not loving. God worked on me so much to understand the importance of loving people. He drilled this verse into my heart: Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 NIV84). In the last several years, I have grown so compassionate toward people. I find myself having empathy for people that I would have one time judged. I have often remarked that I don't know who I am anymore, I am just so 'nice'.  It is foreign to the old me. Don't get me wrong, I am glad for the softness I have found in my heart. I am glad that I see the fruit of love but it does leave me worried. This culture does not know love. What if I am confused too? I have seen that no matter how much I am trying to have a biblical view of an issue, I am still affected by culture's sway. When I was wielding truth like a weapon, I felt safe. It felt good to know I was absolutely right. But this love thing, it feels dangerous. Have I become so familiar with it that I too have lost the biblical definition of love? Have I lost the difficult kind of love that speaks the truth compassionately, even when it hurts? Have I grown afraid of boldness? Am I loving God and pleasing him with my love or am I living a compromised faith that is culturally approved? I don't know. Not for sure. But I do know that I have a burning desire for my love for people to be married to truth so that I don't confuse them with approval calling it love. Jesus love for us was so dangerous and so full of integrity. He never compromised truth in the name of love, yet he never wielded truth in a way that sacrificed love. I want to live like that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Birth Story...

Now this should be neither graphic or disturbing. I have read some of these that gave me nightmares, so given my squeamish self...That is not the case with my story.

I was not one to have an elaborate birth plan. To be honest, I am still not sure what the necessary parts of a birth plan are. I do know that this is the part of pregnancy where you say yes or no to an epidural. For me, that was a no brainer. Pain?? No thank you. In essence, my birth plan was to avoid hearing any of the reasons that people decide to forego the nectar of the anesthesiologist. I did this successfully, almost. I did have two college girls tell me something about disfigurement and paralysis, but I chose to dismiss it as inexperience and horror stories.

I suppose I had a couple of expectations. One was that he would come early/on-time (I do have a schedule you know). The other was that I would have a dramatic, middle of the night contraction story. In this mental montage, I had tons of adrenaline and my hair/makeup looked great. That did not happen.

I was induced on 3/13/12 at 5:30 in the morning. Also known as my husband's 28th birthday. When we got to the room and the nurses began to give me instructions I started to get really nervous. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Oh my gosh (repeat 10times). I was dialated to a three like I had been for three weeks.
They started the pitosin and I immediately began contracting (according to the machine).

Terry and I started the latest episode of The Voice on Hulu while we waited to progress. Periodically, a nurse would come in and ask, "can you feel that?"  Each time, my answer was no. Apparently my contractions looked pretty intense on the monitor. They let me know that I could have the epidural any time I wanted it. However, since I am afraid of all pain, I wanted to wait until my labor pains were greater than getting a big needle stuck in my back.

I was there by about 9:45am, at which point I ever so politely demanded/requested my epidural. While we waited my mom and sisters took turns massaging my back as I writhed in pain. Terry silently let me break all the bones in his hands.My contractions were one right on top of the other so that there were no breaks in between.

At 10:30, the angel with the epidural arrived. Once those drugs hit my system, I was praising the Lord for everyone in the hospital. Why anyone wants to do this without drugs is still beyond me.

 Around noon, the nurse checked and I had progressed a little but was on track to deliver around 6pm that evening. I prepared myself for that mentally. (the exit strategy for babies has always baffled and terrified me)

1:30pm, the doctor dismissed everyone so she could check me again. She looked at me and told me it was time to do this thing. I began to freak out a little. It's not 6pm!?! I'm not ready!

I asked for my mom and she arrived as my transformer bed morphed into a baby receiving station. Terry was already in the room since I hadn't let go of his hand since 5:30 that morning. The Dr. began to give me instructions about pulling my knees up and pushing. 

After the first big push, I asked them,  "are you sure this is going to work?" I reminded Myself that women have been doing this for centuries. There was probably someone delivering a baby in Africa sans pain meds as I lay there.

I continued pushing. "Oh! There's his head!! Oh! Look at that hair! Do you want a mirror.?" The doc says. Heavens no! I don't want to see that, I replied.  I kept contracting and pushing along with the counting nurse.

My mom said at some point my face shifted from doubt to determination and she knew I would deliver him soon. With the last push, I could feel his little legs kick out and I was finished. I have never been more surprised or overjoyed to see something I knew was coming. As soon as I saw him, I burst into tears and looked up at Terry, who's eyes were also brimming with tears. We did it. We have a baby!

As they cleaned him up and stitched me, I watched him in amazement. Oh my gosh, there is my own little human.  8 pounds, 8 ounces of little baby. How did that happen? In the same astonished moment, I felt stronger, more alive and more respectful of every mother on the planet.

 I watched my proud husband admiring his son, knowing I was watching a wonderful dad already. It was a precious moment. I am still collecting our precious moments. I have grown to love and own the title I earned that day: mom to Myles Solomon Rimmer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blogging can be good for your image. As can Facebook and twitter. It can also be terrible. There are a couple of scriptural principles that make this important. I am also going to offer some observations from my time as a social media participant.

1. Your reputation and name matter.
   Proverbs 22:1- a good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is more valuable than silver and gold.

Now no doubt your name and reputation are formed from more than just social media. But don't fool yourself into thinking that who you are online does not affect who people perceive you to be. If you are mean or continuously cuss or post images, songs and quotes that are offensive... People will be offended. Don't be shocked as if your Facebook is some private world where you can be your most awful self. It is the world wide web after all. Be who you are at all times and use the tool of social media to see if you like what you see. And for those Christ followers out you see Christ in who you are portraying yourself to be? You should.

2. Don't post what you would not say. But since you are, use it as an opportunity.
  Matthew 12:34....for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

In affect, you cannot help but post who you are. Some of us on social media need to realize that Facebook/twitter is not a discussion board for mental health professionals. It is also not a passive aggressive whipping post for every person who has wronged you.

Others of us need to realize that it is a place where people are expressing their hurts and hang ups. We would do well to minister the healing balm of Christ's love to those people. There is a wealth of opportunity to reach in and Speak truth. When possible, do this In person. It has become socially acceptable to admit your stalker tendencies in real life. "Hey... I noticed on Facebook that you seemed really discouraged." This is a tool for real life love; use it.

We are all affected by the presence of social media in the world. It has changed the way we do relationships. Why not work to make sure that is a good change for people and not a damaging one?

Monday, May 7, 2012

I have been blogging in my head for years. Of course back in the day, it wasn't called blogging, it was called talking to yourself. The Internet just legitimized this habit and allowed me to actually get my brilliant mental diary out to others. I haven't been disciplined to actually put my thoughts to the page because i have been running at a seriously aggressive pace that is hard to stop. I can't promise that I will stop and do
This often but here I go. Since I potentially really am only taking to myself, the risk for disappointment seems relatively small.

It has taken me seven weeks to unwind from my work pace. I was pretty ready to return to work until last week. And then it hit me... I am not going to be spending my days holding my baby for much longer. Now the pre-baby me didn't have a problem with this at all. Taking care of the child was another thing on my list of balance that I was going to delegate. No problem, no emotion...matter of fact. And then he stopped crying and started smiling at me. I began  repeating the phrase (in a googly voice) "oh!! Are you smiling at mama? Do you love mama?"

My former self is shocked but not quite appalled...just confused.  Who is this person inhabiting my body? Where did these emotions come from? Did I seriously make a baby that cute?

People who have witnessed this transformation are amused and the mothers in the crowd just look at me with a knowing smile. They ask, "so does that mean that you want to quit your job?!" I just shake my head no. Because the conundrum is that I really love my  job too. I love it on the bad days when someone is criticizing me to the point where I question myself. I love it on the good days when I see a student learning to love knowledge and wisdom. And I especially love graduation day ehen both of those students achieve their goal. So I have these two loves and I will give a little away pursung both of them. However I do know that when you are living in your calling, that is the best you that you can offer people. So MACU will get back a little different me, Jessica the Mom. And Myles will grow up knowing that I have two voices, professional Mom and ooey gooey mom. I think I can live with that.