Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My New Normal

I went with some dear friends to a park last week, and we attempted to sit long enough in between the spitting up and pulling hair and fighting over Veggie Straws (not us, the kids...although if there were cookies involved I might have thrown down) to talk straight and be real.  This is one of the many things I value about this particular group of loved ones: thier willingness to drop the curtains and be candid and real.  Love them. 

One of my girlfriends confessed that she is struggling with her identity right now. 
Her honesty brought a lot of head-nodding and a collective amen from the rest of us.  It is tough.  In a culture that is driven by definition, it's easy to flounder when the something that you were is now the something that you are not.  Think about it.  After spending almost all of our lives in full-time school, most of us join the working world.   We are used to a beginning time and ending time of responsibility each day.  Any time outside of that is ours for the taking.  Then baby makes three. When we have children there is nothing 9-5 about it.  Life as we know it is seriously turned upside down.

I remember feeling the abruptness of it all when Madeline was born.  As much as I rejoiced in her and felt like my love for her could move heaven and earth, I mourned a part of me that I thought had passed.  The skinny me.  The career-driven me.  The fashionable me.  The "contribute to the world to make it a better place" me.  The part of myself that begged my husband to go out for drinks and appetizers at 10pm on a Sunday night.  I seriously felt like I was in a huge whirlwind that gathered me up, tossed me around for a few months, and then spit me out on the other a frazzled woman with ten different shades of  awesome sweatpants.

Early motherhood is a beautiful and sometimes painfully consuming journey into the land of selflessness.  Where little hands and little hearts need you to so literally sustain thier lives.  Where for a few months you smell like spit up.  And probably for a few years you don't know what day of the week it is.  Where love runs through your veins so deeply and frantically that you swear it creates a pulse of it's own.  And where you slowly readjust.  To a new normal. 

I remember, after time, easing back into some activities that were life-giving for me.  Dates with Greg. Leading a small group for high school girls.  Worship team.  Coffee with my besties.  Running.  And oh man, did I capitalize on those playdates.  Let's be honest. There was no playing.  Maddie was like two weeks old.  But I needed that time with other new moms who were also living in the land of selflesness.  And I began to emerge as a version of myself that I really liked.  I loved my baby girl and my husband & the life that God was creating around us. 

Fast forward a few years, and we now have two beautiful daughters.  I am again adjusting to a new normal after the birth of Abigail.  For me, the whirlwind was not as insane this time around.  I don't feel as frazzled, and my sweatpants are being kept under lock and key. Most of the time.  Part of it is that I knew what to expect, and the change was not as abrupt as last time.  Another part of that, however, is that I am embracing the change...knowing that I will be refined into an even better version of myself if I am honest with God and with those He's placed in my life.  And if I continue to do things outside of parenting that are life-giving to me. 

So...on the topic of identity, I am choosing to be Rachel Jeanette Hamann, lover of God and people.  I feel a sense of freedom with that definition.  I feel that it will allow my gracious God to take me wherever He desires, and that I will love Him and those He's placed around me with all my might along the way. And right now He has me in our home, loving on and serving my family.  Who knows where He will call us next?  But in the spirit of living in the moment, I am choosing to stake my identity in Jesus Christ, and let the love from that overflow where I'm at right now.

"So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 5:22

Monday, August 22, 2011

Someday Ray.

When my husband Greg and I were dating in college, we would dream aloud about the life we would forge together.   I remember those late night walks around Judson's baseball field with fondness.  We would talk about our wedding day, our marriage, our ministries, our children and everything in between.   Our young love was filled with dreaming and scheming.  Greg would cap those conversations with a "someday, Ray, someday".  I would sigh in response and continue to plan out our super meaningful and noteworthy future. 

What makes those memories bittersweet is that I am still waiting for my someday.  In reality, I have spent most of my life in waiting.  Waiting to arrive.  Waiting to become an incredibly mature follower of Jesus.  Waiting to be skinny enough.  Financially secure enough. Waiting to be the proverbial wife.  Superstar mom. Thoughtful daughter and sister.   I consider myself a professional waiter.  As life is happening in and around me, I am waiting for my Arrival. Whatever that is.

 I recently began reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, where she talks about celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life.  I could yell out loud, "Yes! Yes!  Yes!  Me too!" as she described how, she too, was waiting.  I know  that God revealed a little glimpse of His heart to me as I read this book.  I know it because I could feel my Spirit let out a big sigh of finally someone had shouted out what It has been gently whispering to me for a while. 

What I'm at the beginning of grasping is that my life is not about waiting.  It truly is the smallest moments that create my life.  Crawling around on the floor and barking like a dog with my three year old.  Hugging my husband in our kitchen when I'm covered with spit-up and spaghetti sauce and who-knows-what-else.  Listening to my neighbor as she pours out her heart.  God is building my story and my life in these small moments.  They are what make me.  They are what honor Him.

I know that God can be in our dreaming and scheming.  I know that He's given those soulful moments to me as a glimpse of what is possible if I hand over my dreams to Him.  I also know that He has called me to not check out of reality and exist only in my alternate best-self universe.  That I won't become the best version of myself until I start stacking these "insignificant" moments on top of each other.  To build something bigger and better than my daydreams.

So, tonight I am going to make a craft with Madeline for the fifteenth time this week.  I'm going to really listen to my husband as he tells me about his day.   I will hold my sweet baby Abigail and let her pull my hair out to her little hearts content.  When I pray over them at night, I will look at each of my loves, full in the face, and tell them how proud I am to be their wife and momma. 

 My someday IS today. 

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now. 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson