Throwback Thursday: Katie.

Earlier this week I got lunch with my friend Katie and her son Landon. We chatted about life and God in segments, interrupted by the laughter of loveliness of our children playing together. I always smile and love to watch Riley play with other kids. But there’s something more when I watch her play with Landon. Watching Riley have a play date with Landon is crazy, because Katie and I were once children that had play dates together. It is an amazing thing to see your child with the child of your best friend of so many years.

Katie and I met when we were about 10 years old. My family had just moved to Roxboro from Durham at the same time that her family did. My family had only been in Durham for 1 year before that, and the same for her family. My family had moved to Durham from Massachusetts (where I was born), and hers had moved there from New York. We were Yankees trying to survive in this new world of sweet tea and southern drawls ya’ll. (Funny fact: we had actually met once before that at a church when both of our families had lived in Durham but we didn’t like each other. I can’t really remember why, but I just remember that we didn’t.) Our moms met each other at some sort of PTA or school meeting at our elementary school and hit it off right away. I mean, finding another Yankee in the midst of Southern “kin” and lifelong friends is hard impossible to come by, so I think they grasped on to each other immediately. They started getting together for play dates, and somewhere along the way, Katie and I started to think that perhaps the other was not so bad after all.

And so it began. 18 years of friendship (and counting)! So many memories.

There was the time (at 11 or 12 years old) when we were home alone and decided to drive her mom’s van up and down the driveway, which eventually led to driving it up and down the road. (Riley if you are reading this one day, that didn’t really happen.)

And that time when we went to the end of her road and put signs up for a “Free Concert” and proceeded to loudly and miserably play instruments incorrectly (on purpose) dressed in crazy outfits, just to see if anyone stopped. They did. We had an audience. It was weird.

OR that time (again at 11 or 12 years old) that we made a workout video for pregnant women. We literally stuck beach balls in our swimsuits and videotaped a workout called, “Janie Sue Fonda’s Workout for Pregnant Women” that was specifically geared toward women who were pregnant with septuplets. Judge all you want. There was a very demanding market for that at the time.

There was the time that we got our first “Limited Too” shirts together and insisted on swinging our bags proudly through the mall so that everyone could see that we shopped there.

The time when we wrote (and recorded) a song together and each had our copy of it to listen to when she was leaving for the summer to be with her Dad in New York. Here is a sample of the lyrics (I know it’s going to make you want more):

Two girls, 12 years old
They always did what they were told
Everyone knew they were best friends,
together nothing would end with them

Forever
To teach and to learn
Forever
Our friendship will never burn
Forever
Our friendship will never end
Forever
Best Friends

I’ll always remember the Limited Store
With all of those memories, I couldn’t want more
We didn’t care what people thought
because our friendship meant a lot

Forever…

Eh hem. Yes, that happened. And yes, I still remember the words. I don’t know how, OK?! It’s not like I sat at home listening to that tape over and over again until I had it memorized so well that I could sing it backwards in my sleep… Oh, wait.

Then there was the time at 16 years old when we got sent home from youth camp for dressing inappropriately and smoking behind the forts.

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(^ yes, we both legitimately curled our bangs under each day. That was cool then… right?)

The time when we both got our first boyfriends, had our first kisses, and survived our first heartbreaks.

And then there came the time when our friendship broke. When there was genuine concern that led to hurt and betrayal. That awful time where our friendship pretty much ended, followed by painful months and years where I no longer had Katie’s friendship and endured much pain and hardship without her sarcasm to make me laugh and her loyalty to make me strong. I was hurt. And angry. She was concerned. And angry. And then hurt.

See, this is where my friendship with Katie is so special and particularly different from every other friendship in my life. There was genuine hurt, pain and brokenness. And it tore us apart for a couple of years.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

In college, after a bad (but good) breakup and some major life change on my part, there was that time where we reconciled. We said “I’m sorry” to each other. We forgave. We cried. We hugged. We promised not to let this happen again.

I visited her at UNCG and she came and visited me at Elon. We caught up on the phone. We texted and talked on AIM (so cool). We hung out over breaks. And slowly our friendship mended. And became stronger than ever.

I think there is something so powerful about having to confront someone who has hurt you, admit to your own mistakes, and work towards restoration of the relationship. So somewhere over the course of our college years, our friendship became something powerful.

I watched her get engaged to her high school sweet heart who I had set her up with :). She asked me to be her maid of honor. I threw her Bachelorette beach getaway.

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And I watched her become a teacher.

She watched me go into full time ministry. And eventually realize that I was in love with my friend Jordan. And get engaged. I asked her to be my matron of honor. She threw my Bachelorette Beach Getaway.

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I remember talking to her on the phone in March 2010 when she spilled the beans that she was pregnant.

On November 6, 2010, Landon Thomas Austin was born.

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In March 2011, I pulled up at Target to meet her before we went to lunch, where I had planned on telling her my big news. She handed me a card that she had bought for me and written in before I had even told her. It said, “Congratulations on your pregnancy!” She just knew :).

2 days after Landon’s 1st birthday, November 8, 2011, Riley Grace Maroon was born.

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I’m pretty sure I called Katie 29832098 times a day (ok ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like 29832097) in Riley’s first few months asking, “What do I do about this?! What do I do about that?! 🙂

And now we call each other to laugh (or complain) about something we watched on TV, read in a book or article and stuff we see on Facebook. We call each other to cry together because one of us has just learned some really bad news. We call each other to ask for help with something. We call each other to share what God is teaching us. We meet each other for lunch.

And our kiddos play together.

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True friendship is full of fun, laughter, tears, heartache, confession, forgiveness, healing, accepting, and growing.

Thank you Katie, for being such a true friend. Love you!

KM.

On Purpose and Irreplaceable

A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine a fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heartsease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heartsease, I’m glad, amidst all of this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heartsease, I am determined to be the best little heartsease that I can.”

Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God’s heritage
can do it so well as you.

-L.B. Cowman, “Streams in the Desert”

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I hope this encourages hearts today, as it has encouraged mine! God has planted you specifically, exactly where He wanted you. Not someone else. He planted your heart, your mind, your body, what you look like, what your personality is like, what your gifts and talents are, what your dreams are, right where He wanted those specific traits. May you lift a brightened face with cheer as you let this truth soak in today :).

KM.

I Shall Not Be Greatly Shaken

“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
-Psalm 62:1-2

My soul waits for God alone. It waits expectantly and eagerly for answered prayer. It waits in belief. It waits on His promises. It waits for Him to make Himself known. For Him to speak. For Him to rescue. For Him to light my path. For Him to reveal. For Him to return.

From him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation. Not what other people think of me. Not the way I look. Not my performance and abilities. Not the momentary pleasures and comforts this world offers. Not my family. Not my friends. Not even my religion or spirituality or ministry doings. From Him alone. He only.

My fortress. I am hidden in Him. He is my shelter and my protection. From the harsh winds and storms of the enemy out for my blood, He covers and protects me. From myself and the deceit I naturally walk into and destruction I cause. He shelters me. From threats to my worth and identity. He shields me. I’ve always suspected this wasn’t home. He only is my home. My castle (He is a King after all).

I shall not be greatly shaken.

Not by people disagreeing with or disapproving of me. Not by my own mistakes. Not by failure. Not by my husband disappointing me. Not by me disappointing him. Not by people letting me down. Not by me letting them down. Not by poor health. Not by gaining weight, aging, or fading beauty. Not by financial stress. Not by stress in general. Not by loss of sleep. Not by loss of anything. Not by being stripped from any earthly comfort I feel entitled to. Not by rejection. Not by betrayal. Not by skeletons in my past.

I shall not be greatly shaken.

Hope has never shone so brightly <3.

KM.

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Foodie Friday: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

A friend of mine has started doing “Foodie Friday” on her blog where she shares a recipe she made that week that she and her husband enjoyed. I have loved the idea (and have been making her recipes!) so I thought that it would be a fun addition to “Throwback Thursdays” as a weekly blog post :).

I love food. Every time I eat something savory and delicious, I feel as though I have escaped, even if for only 10 minutes, to some mini vacation full of relaxation and pleasure. That is a bit dramatic but the sad part is that I am actually serious. I am just passionate in believing that eating is one of the most enjoyable sensory experiences that our Creator came up with! Ok ok, I am done with that spiel.

I also love to cook. I’m not a fancy make your own breadcrumbs and dipping sauce from exotic herbs and homemade spice combinations cook. I’m a pretty simple cook. But I love the aroma that fills the kitchen when something delicious is simmering on the stove and I find the monotonous task of chopping vegetables therapeutic and relaxing, especially if Nora Jones is serenading me from the iPad and there is a glass of red wine in my hand!

All of that to say, I like the idea of “Foodie Friday” so I’m going to borrow it from my friend and use this space to share with you (or myself looking back to my blog for favorite recipe ideas) to share a favorite from the past week.

This week’s winner is Mediterranean Couscous Salad. I found the recipe from a Pinterest search and tampered with it a bit to fit the ingredients I had on hand and what my taste buds are drawn to. I made it as a side for a fish dinner (Tilapia, which I just brushed with melted butter and seasoned with some delicious fish seasoning that I think I had bought at Harris Teeter. I wish I remembered what kind it was specifically because it was SO good! But I accidentally threw the container away when it was empty. Ooops).

ingredients:
-olive oil (2 tbsp-ish)
-butter (1 tbsp-ish)
-red wine vinegar (also 2 tbsp-ish)
-couscous (obviously. I used a box of garlic/herb couscous)
-white mushrooms (about a 1/2 a cup. You could also use portabella)
-Feta cheese (a whole small container, if you’re me. You’re welcome to use less)
-pitted sliced black olives (I probably used half a can)
-1/2 medium onion
-cilantro (to taste)
-Garlic (1 or 2 cloves, depending on how much garlic taste you like. I’m a 2 cloves gal. My husband is part Lebanese after all)
-grape tomatoes (about a handfull), sliced
-salt & pepper (to taste)

directions:
-start cooking couscous according to package directions. Add a little bit of the olive oil (probably 1 tablespoon-ish)
-while the couscous is cooking, lightly brown the mushrooms, onion and garlic in a skillet with butter
-once the couscous is done cooking, add to it the remaining olive oil and the red wine vinegar in a serving bowl
-add the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture to the couscous along with the olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, salt & pepper.
-top with cilantro (as much or little as you like. I had just sprinkled a little bit on top, but I love the taste of cilantro and would probably add a little more next time then I did this past time.)

Serve warm or chilled, it’s good both ways! Enjoy! 🙂

KM.

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Throwback Thursday: That Time I Forgot to Wear Pants

You may have heard of “Baby Brain,” also referred to as “Pregnancy Brain” or “Momnesia.” Experts (whoever they are) have pushed back on the existence of such a thing. Of course there are not any actual changes that happen in your brain, but I swear research has shown that memory lapses/deficit in memory are definitely common occurrences for a woman during pregnancy. Blame it on hormones, blame it on exhaustion, blame it on whatever you like, but it is a thing. Someone described it like this: “Pregnancy brain is the feeling of walking into a room, going after something, and not remembering what you went for about five to 10 times a day.”

It is a strange thing to experience. And experience it I did! When I was pregnant with Riley, especially my 3rd (and very uncomfortable) trimester, I would do really weird, forgetful things. For instance, Jordan once found a roll of tin foil in the refrigerator. As a matter of fact, several odd things found their way into the refrigerator (somehow), and I caught myself putting the milk in the pantry on several occasions. Whether I left the coffee pot on, the hair straightener plugged in, or the wet laundry in the washing machine for several days; I felt so forgetful and constantly struggled to remember simple little things.

But those examples are nothing compared to the one this whole post is written about.

It was around 3:30 in the afternoon late August (or early September. I was forgetful, remember?) 2011. Busses full of kids were starting to drive by our apartment complex and that was my cue to start getting ready to go babysit (I had taken on a couple of short term babysitting gigs during my pregnancy). I grabbed my keys, my purse, and my cell phone and walked out the door. I noticed several of our neighbors standing outside, greeting their kids who had just gotten off at the bus stop. I also noticed the insane humidity that will make a pregnant woman curse and become slightly very high maintenance. But there was one pretty big thing that I did fail to notice…. (you see where this is headed).

Right as I reached the door to my car I realized that I had forgotten something. My book! Duh. The kids I was babysitting for would need to do their homework that evening and while they did, I had planned on doing some reading. Silly me, I could not believe I had forgotten to bring my book! So I went back into my apartment to grab them. As I did, I walked past a mirror and realized (to my HORROR) that my book was not the only thing I had forgotten when I walked out the door.

I had FORGOTTEN TO PUT PANTS ON.

Yep. You read that right. And don’t worry, it was definitely worst case scenario. No, I was not wearing a dress, I was wearing a shirt. No, I was not “covered.” Yes, people saw me. They were all outside greeting their children, remember?

It’s not like I had forgotten to put pants on when I got dressed that day. It’s just that I was feeling really hot at one point in the day (I mean, I had set the AC at ONLY about 60 degrees in our apartment after all), and since I was at home by myself and didn’t plan on having any visitors, I had taken my pants off (ladies who are or have been pregnant understand this). At this point in my pregnancy, my belly stuck so far out that I literally could not see my toes, much less my legs. So I could not see that I was not wearing pants until I looked in a mirror!

Needless to say, I’m sure I gave my neighbor’s a great story to tell in any situation in their lives where they need to give people a good laugh. That time their super pregnant neighbor waddled to her car in the August heat wearing no pants.

And now I have a “that time when…” most embarrassing moment. At least let’s hope that I don’t incur another one to trump it ;-).

Happy Throwback Thursday everyone!

KM.

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Be Proud, Mama! (And life WILL get back to “normal”)

Last night I pulled out my “mommy journal” for the first time since October 19th (apparently). I used to update it all of the time, sometimes weekly and at least monthly for the first several months of Riley’s life. She was developing so quickly in the beginning, she was having milestones almost every week! Everything was so new, I wanted to record it all. She would hold up her head or roll over and I would immediately run to get my journal to record the exciting happenings.

Now I find myself saying things like, “Shoot I really need to update that mommy journal at some point,” which I obviously finally got around to 4 months after I started saying that. Oops.

It’s not for lack of new developments that I haven’t been keeping up with the journal. In last night’s entry I added things like “Riley can now say ‘teddy,’ ‘cat,’ ‘please,’ and ‘fence’.” or “If you ask her where her nose and mouth are or where your nose and mouth are she will point to them correctly.” There are definitely many things that I could fill the pages of the journal with about the things Riley does, what our days are like, and the person that she is becoming.

The reason that I get so behind in updating the mommy journal is that life with Riley, (developing though she still may be) actually seems… normal.

As a first time parent, normalcy seems like some small miracle. In the first however many months of your first baby’s life, you find yourself wondering if your life will ever feel normal again.

First, you feel so incredibly overwhelmed when you try to start your baby registry during pregnancy. You wonder what the heck a “Bumbo” is and why everyone wants to talk to you about breastfeeding. It doesn’t seem like it would be so hard to figure out. But there are lactation consultants, books, videos, and gel pads so… you start to get a little bit nervous.

Everyone’s brother’s girlfriend’s aunt’s cousin wants to give you advice on what to do once the baby arrives, and you’ve gotten at least 2938092 book recommendations and a passionate briefing on every type of method there is out there on how to get your baby on a schedule.

And then there is the day when you (finally) get to take your baby home, and you cannot figure out that blasted car seat! You may or may not have a meltdown, asking your husband how on earth these people who work at the hospital could let you take this child home when you clearly have no idea what on earth you’re doing. Your husband may or may not wonder what the heck he has gotten himself into when he then has a screaming, crying one in the car. And that’s just his wife! His baby is equally upset, and he has no idea what to do.

The next few months are a little lot a bit of bliss mixed with a little lot a bit chaos. Or sleep deprivation. Same thing. You face the tension between the “type” of mother you thought you would be and the one that you actually are. Your expectations meet reality with one big hormone induced cry fest. One night when your husband is working, you cannot get your baby (or yourself) to stop crying. You hit the bottom of your rope, call your mother, and ask her when she gets off work. She knocks on your door around 7:30pm, you hand her your crying child, throw on a hoodie, grab your keys, and immediately head for the wine section of Kroger.

But then eventually something starts to change. Your baby is waking up less in the middle of the night. Your baby starts to crawl and laugh. Your baby starts sleeping through the night. Your baby becomes a toddler and is walking. Your toddler sleeps for 13 hours straight. Your toddler has a consistent nap time. Your toddler is a little bundle of fun that brings more joy to your day and life than you could have ever imagined possible. Your routines become so established that it is hard to imagine what it is like without them.

Your life feels normal again.

Earlier today a friend of mine announced that she can fit into her pre pregnancy jeans (less than a month after her son was born! Woohoo!) She then was afraid that maybe it seemed inconsiderate to post, since some women struggled with losing the baby weight after their child was born (like me). But I’ll tell you what, she did not need to apologize! I was SO proud of her. And she is worth being proud of.

Truth is, all of us mamas are.

There are going to be days (especially in the beginning) where you just feel surrounded by things that you haven’t done well. You feel like no one (and no thing) is getting your best. We need to celebrate our victories, no matter how big or small they might seem! If you ask me, the beginning months of motherhood should have the freedom to be survival months. Just dote on your child, and sleep sleep, for the love SLEEP whenever you get the chance. Don’t worry about house chores, errands, exercise, or even keeping up with people. Just keep yourself and your child alive. That is it. And then, any single thing that happens on top of that is an extra victory worth celebrating :).

Be proud mama, you’ve done a lot! And I promise you, one day, life will get back to normal.

 

KM.

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Being a Mother and God as our Father

(I’ve never done this in a blog post before, but I was thinking it would be kind of cool, so click “play” on the video above and listen to this song as you read this post).

Being a mother is absolutely the most incredible thing I have ever experienced in my life. Especially right now. I have loved every single day and month of Riley’s life, but this 15 month old stage? It is the sweetest thing I have ever experienced.

I cannot explain to you what I feel inside my heart as I watch my daughter. She is just SO so happy all the time, it is incredible to observe. She laughs at everything. Sometimes it is this adorable little giggle, when you give her Eskimo kisses or when we sing “The Wheels on the Bus” or I put one of her puppets on my hand and make it talk to her and hug her. But other times it is this hysterical, hearty laugh where she throws her head back and you can see all of her little teeth. Like when Jordan gets home from work and chases her around the living room or jumps with her on the bed. Or when she pulls my hair (apparently it is REALLY funny to hear me yell “Owww!”) or pretends to eat my nose.

She has recently started doing this thing where she shrugs her shoulders up and down when she is really excited. Sometimes she gets so excited that I seriously start to think she might burst!

Her joy is contagious. And it just consumes me with delight in her.

Let me give you an example:

A couple of days ago I laid in bed with her, and I cried. I was having a hard day and I just felt sad. She looked at me confused, she’s not used to seeing mommy cry. Then she so sweetly and tenderly laid her face on my face to comfort me. Which, of course, just made me cry more. She is only 15 months old, and already she knows how to feel compassion. But then after laying on my face for a few minutes, she sat up straight, yelled this happy, funny yell at the top of her lungs, and started CRACKING up at herself! And that was it, all of my sadness melted away as I also erupted into a fit of laughter. The two of us then just gave in to 20 minutes of giggles, tickles, and bouncing.

She is so funny. Man am I in love.

And this is what I get to do every day as her mother. It is the most rewarding, delightful, fun, joyful thing I have ever done in my life!

I often look forward to the evening when she is asleep and I either get time to myself (if Jordan is working) or time with my husband. But (I’m not kidding) within an hour of Riley being asleep, I miss her. When Jordan gets home from work, we sneak in her room together and smile at each other as we watch her sleep, peacefully dreaming. We usually watch a video (or 2 or 5) of her before going to bed, and we laugh as we talk about our favorite moments with her throughout the day.

To think that this mirrors the affections that the God of the Universe has towards us is incomprehensible.

I realized this today:
Riley’s love for me is not that deep. It just isn’t. If you were to view our relationship through her love, it would be a bit shallow. But that is ok, because my love for her is much deeper! The truth is, Riley will probably never love me as much as I love her. But that honestly doesn’t disappoint me. Because the love I have for her is rich enough in itself. The love I have for her brings me so much joy, I don’t need her to love me as much for it to be complete.

Which teaches me this:
I often spend time in my faith reflecting on my love for God. But I think that then causes my faith to be shallow. Because to be honest, my love for God doesn’t run that deep. I wish it did, but really none of us really love Him that well. But if I reflect instead on HIS love, I will find my faith reaching depths I did not know existed. His love has no lacking, and His love is enough.

Oh, how He loves us!

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