Fear

Discriminating Mommies

Let's make motherhood a beautiful thing. Can we learn to support and encourage fellow mamas? rachelaz.com

dis·crim·i·na·tion          noun: discrimination;
1. the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.
2. recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.”discrimination between right and wrong.”

Prepping for motherhood can be absolutely terrifying. To co-sleep, or not to co-sleep. Wide-mouthed bottles, or traditional… oh wait, should I plan to use a bottle at all?

As a first-time momma, I felt absolutely overwhelmed through pregnancy. I was terrified. Petrified. I was bombarded with all kinds of statistics, opinions, articles, and research on the daily. Nursing, immunizing, birthing, professional care… all the options and arguments circled my thoughts and closed in on my emotions. It was an overwhelming, constant feeling of, “I should be doing more.” And if I’m perfectly honest, I still fight it today.

So, let me just start out by saying that I’m not arguing for or on behalf of a particular parenting topic. But instead, my heart is to hopefully broaden our perspectives and face the real issues.

We live in a society that lives and breathes to replace one idol with another. If it isn’t fame, it’s fortune, or success, or goal achievement, or superficiality, or a certain relationship, or self-improvement, or a particular job position. We’ve become convinced that we are sovereign over our own lives. And while we are indeed responsible for our actions, we’ve lost the freedom that comes with entrusting our Creator with our lives and worshiping Him alone.

We’re bombarded with and constantly reminded of what we don’t have, what we do have, or why we aren’t good enough. We obsess with what we believe in, or the choices we make; to the point that they themselves become a part of our identity.

With one year of motherhood under my belt, I can confidently say that the same struggles come with motherhood.

When we have a good mommy day; we’re great. And when we miss the mark or it’s challenging; we’re miserable. Just like everything else, motherhood can quickly become an idol. And our preferences, routines and parenting styles can easily become a part of our identity.

We allow them to define us and take it personally when people don’t agree with our styles or share similar perspectives. We get bent out of shape over feeding techniques, oils, health standards, professional advice, and physician care.

We allow the real enemy to come between us. And before we know it, it’s high school all over again, full of mean-girl cliques, “she said’s”, peer pressure, and “did you see what she did’s.” It’s silliness. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And yet, I fight it, and have found myself guilty of it many times.

How did we get here? Where did it start?

The older I get, the more I recognize my desperate need for Christ. Comparison, gossip, and judgement are not new tricks. The enemy’s just really good at disguising them. And now more than ever (even more than in high school.) I need Christ.

I need Christ to lead my husband and me as we seek out wisdom. I need Christ when it comes to bridling my tongue against gossip. I need Christ when it comes to guarding my heart against judgement. I need Christ when it comes to loving my family well. I need Christ to silence the voices of insecurity, pride, and selfishness. I need Christ when it comes to encouraging my sisters and fellow mommies.

I need Christ more than motherhood. More than my husband. More than my daughter. More than anything. I need Christ. He alone is worthy of my worship. He alone must be my source.

While I was pregnant, I fought so many feelings of insecurity and judgement when it came to our original plan. We chose a hospital, high risk doctor, and epidural, for Finnley Haven’s birth. I was told all about articles, horror-stories, and statistics which had underlying undertones of fear. Well-meaning people whom I love and adore lovingly tried to me that we weren’t choosing what was best for our daughter. I fought feelings of being judged, bullied, and almost discriminated against.

We didn’t get to our much prayed about “birth plan” due to severe pre-eclampsia at 29 weeks. But I am so very thankful for our doctor whom the Lord led us to. She stayed up all night while I was in critical condition, on her night off. She performed an emergency c-section the following day (on her other day off) and saved our lives– by no exaggeration. We’re also so very grateful for the hospital and incredible nurses who literally kept our little preemie girl alive for her first two months of life. God used our little “plan.” 

I say all this to say, that I understand this is the plan the Lord led us to. It was His sovereign hand on our lives. He led us, and He kept us. So, I mustn’t judge anyone if they’re being led in a different way than myself. Because who am I to know what the Lord has planned for their lives? 

There are risks to all kinds of births and parenting styles. Fear shouldn’t ever be the deciding factor. There is no perfect, fail-proof way to have a baby. Which is why we must put our trust in Christ alone as we seek out wisdom. If you seek the Lord He will lead you. Entrust the outcome to Christ. Trust His best for your family– through the boatloads of articles, opinions, statistics, and options. He has a plan, and He’s not up there freaking out. He is with us.

I love the wealth of information that’s out there, but at a certain point I think the best thing we can do to love our mama friends well is to pray for them, hold our tongues and wait for them to ask us for advice, and be okay if they don’t.

I want to trust that God knows my friends. He will lead my friends in the best path for their children. Just like there’s a reason He made Johnny and I Finnley’s parents; there’s a reason why He chose my friends to parent their littles.

Can we as mamas encourage and empower each other instead of sizing each other up and trying to convince each other of our own personal convictions when it comes to birthing/immunizing/parenting? Can we be a safe place, and extend grace to others when they struggle? Can we lean on Christ while fighting against pride and gossip amongst us? Can we point others to Christ, instead of some article?

Our mission as moms should be to make Christ our foundation, as we seek Him for wisdom and entrust our children to Him. He is good. He is for us. He is with us. 

There’s no easy or perfect way to parent, so let’s do everything in our power to support and encourage our fellow mamacitas. Let’s build each other up in Christ and stop discriminating mommies. Let’s love each other deeply, and make sharing the bond of motherhood a beautiful thing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.” [Proverbs 3:5-6]

xoxo,

   Rachel

Discomfort & Big Bird: A Preggo’s Confessions

Rachel Cavanaugh

I awoke for the second time with a terrible migraine. In the shape of a starfish (not on my side), disoriented, unknowingly hogging the double bed and ungraciously crowding my sweet husband who was teetering on the edge. The teal colored night-lamp dispersed just enough light to see the ceiling.  The room was small, I could see all four walls out of the corner of my peripheral.  It seemed too bright for it to be 3AM. Was it really the middle of the night? Alas, this was family vacation.

I’ve grown to both love and loathe bedtime. I laid there, hot and sweating in the room set at a cool 70 degrees. Uncomfortable, trying to recite scriptures to memory; “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…” and was interrupted by nausea. I quickly determined that no matter how beautiful, modern, or exquisite a vacation condo is–there’s no way to dress up a toilet. I sat on the bathroom’s beautiful marble floor and sobbed.

“I’m 19 weeks along. Why am I still sick with “morning” sickness?  I’m exhausted. Why are my prescriptions not working? Why does the smell of spearmint toothpaste make me want to puke more? God, can’t you just take away the nausea? I forgot to bring ginger ale. Why didn’t anyone tell me it was this hard? Shut up, you’ll wake Johnny, and they just drove over ten hours to get here. What on earth did I eat for dinner? What am I doing wrong? Why am I complaining– I am pregnant! You’ve prayed for this! You have a miracle inside of you. So many of your friends have suffered multiple miscarriages, failed adoptions, and been told they’ll never have children. You’re not dying. Rachel, stop being so selfish. Pull yourself together. Don’t be such a pansy. You’re such an ungrateful brat.”

These thoughts circled my mind like a lion closing in on it’s prey. Frustrated and angry. Then guilty and ashamed for being frustrated and angry. I could feel desperation’s sudden, not-so-subtle onset. Cue more tears; this is where I panic.

Then out of no where, I thought of a big bird. What on earth! (I should mention that I have a strong dislike for birds in general.) The thought continued to unfold; “He will cover you with his feathers.” I knew I had read it somewhere, but I hadn’t a clue where it was found. I crawled back into the room and grabbed my phone off the floor. I went on a google search frenzy: “scriptures; bible verses; ‘feathers…'”

Psalm 91. Bingo, well played google:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’…
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and protection.
You will not fear the terror of night,nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
You see, this first-time-mommy is quick to think of God as Marahute, the golden eagle in Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under. So often I wonder why He hasn’t swooped me up out of my troubled circumstances and “fixed” everything that’s seemingly going wrong. Where is He in my “time of trouble”? Isn’t He omnipresent, omnipotent, and capable of anything?
Paradigm shift. I’d been sitting there for well over an hour praying for God to take the pain away, while all along, He was sitting there with me. Stillness swept over my heart as His gentle, loving peace soothed my weary soul. He was with me.
I’m starting to see that God doesn’t always change our circumstances, troubles or trials. But like a big momma hen (don’t laugh), He gently covers us with His wings and warms us with His feathers. He faithfully sits in the crud and through storms of life with us. He comforts our hearts, speaks peace to our minds, sustains our spirit, and won’t leave us for a moment.  He is ever faithful; this is our Savior.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve only had a few nights like this. To be honest, pregnancy has been a journey of ever increasing faith. I’ve been challenged, pushed beyond what I thought were my limits, and been sicker than ever in my life. But along with my tummy, my trust and confidence in Christ has grown– and for that alone I am thankful. Our pastor, Todd Wagner’s version of Paul’s writings has been my motto over the last few months: “If dependence on Christ is the goal, then weakness is an advantage.” My prayer is that in times of need, my heart would turn to Him.
So whether you’re a first timer struggling through pregnancy, have six children, praying for children, or going through a stormy season– snuggle up to His side and let Him pull you through. He’s promised to work all things together for your good and His glory. Daddy Big Bird promised.

JUST DO IT

 JUST DO IT

“’Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still…Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.’”   Exodus 14:13-16 NIV

How many times have I found myself at what looks like a dead-end of disappointment.  Failures and screw-ups can be explained but when I’m led in what looks like the wrong direction, it seems unfair, unjustified, undeserved.   At times life is simply unreasonable.  Like the universe pays no attention to what I want or what has been promised.  In moments like these, I can’t help but look back to double check that I heard God correctly… did I miss something?   Was I mistaken?   Because the circumstances don’t line up with the promises.  Before I know it, doubt begins to take root in my heart.

Just when I feel like I’ve been driven into the ground– like a knight in shining armor, God comes through– and not a moment too soon.  A word, an inkling, a still small voice, a verse, something somehow manages to keep the promise alive and my soul from withering away with disappointment.

After ten plagues, countless firstborns slain, and a king who was fed up; the Israelites were free.   Moses led them out of Egypt and into the desert.  Then, after all of God’s sovereign intervention– He directed them straight into the sea.    Most of us would have thrown the towel in due to the obvious circumstances.  A slow-moving crowd of men, women, and children don’t stand much of a chance against an army of infuriated Egyptians in merciless pursuit.  And, needless to say, the Red Sea wasn’t exactly a great option either.  Had He led them all this way only to kill them off in some miserable, pathetic way?

You’ve probably heard the story, so you already know that the Israelites didn’t drown.  God kept His end of the bargain.  Moses stood as the people walked through the Red Sea as if it were a water park’s drained wave pool.  Sometimes, God will lead us straight into a dead-end simply to show that He is with us.  In times like these, fighting is worthless and swimming is hopeless.  We must stand so that He can act on our behalf and transform the very obstacles we face.  Despite all barriers, against all odds, come hell or high water; He proves that He is with us.

 “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.  Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant:  When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river…and its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”   Joshua 3:7-13 NIV

Fast-forward a few years and Israel’s next leader, Joshua, is faced with a similar setback.  I’m sure Joshua remembered the Red Sea dilemma and how God came through.  Surely, he wasn’t ignorant of God’s sovereignty.  Yes, the Red Sea was slightly chancy, but this was different.

Now, I’m reading in between the lines here a bit, but I can almost hear what Joshua might have said: “Isn’t this where I just raise my hands and You split the river like you did the sea?”  Or telling the Priests; “Men, I know this ark is our most valuable possession and I know you’re the holiest among us all, but I want you to march it straight into the river.”

He couldn’t simply do what Moses had done and watch the water split wide open.  No, not Joshua, he was directed to order his best men, the cream of the crop and their sacred treasure, their promise of God’s presence;  straight into the river.  God had stepped it up a notch, a raised hand could have gone unnoticed, but a full throttle priestly processional into the Jordan wasn’t exactly discreet.  This required more participation.  This was risky.  This made absolutely no sense– this was crazy.

I can’t even tell you how many times it feels like God is trying to murder His promises—the very same ones He’s given me.  “Just march into the river Rachel, take a step of faith, and then I’ll take it from there.”   Sometimes, God will ask you to carry the very things He’s given you into what seems like suicide.  In times like these, standing in faith isn’t enough.  Only after obediently marching straight  into the chaos He called you to, will He split the river.

If You’ve Been Asked To Stand:  Stand in confidence and ignore those who threaten to kill God’s plan of destiny for your life.  He is fully capable to fight for you and doesn’t need your help.  Remember, He has promised to never forsake us and you aren’t an exception.  Rest assured that He is ready and able to carry out to completion whatever He said He would accomplish.  Stand, be still, and watch as God sovereignly kisses earth as He acts on your behalf.  

When You’re Told To March:  Depend on the Lord’s instructions, no matter how crazy they sound and regardless of how much better yours seem.  Don’t wait for it to get easy before you move.  Go full speed ahead and trust that He sees the bigger picture and can always change your circumstances.    Remember, failing isn’t His thing; He isn’t out to drown you and your dreams.   March, step out in faith and watch what once were obstacles clear out of the way.  

Don’t drown in disobedience— whether you’ve been told to stand still in faith or march forward in confidence;  Stare your obstacles square in the face and  Just Do It.