Category Archives: Uncategorized

Great Expectations and Grace: A Birth Story Part 2

IMG_4048.jpg

They laid her atop my chest immediately following the final push, and the midwife ceremoniously handed the scissors to my husband so he could sever the cord that had bound her to me. “Hello Lily,” I whispered. She cried feebly, and I cradled her close, kissing the top of her head and reveling in the raw and beautiful glory of the moment. The perfection of divine creation lay in my arms, and my heart soared at the incredibly sanctity of it all … this tangible nearness of heaven wrapped in the form of our newborn baby girl.

Within minutes though, these soaring emotions gave way to a difficult reality. Her skin was tinged blue, and she didn’t seem to be transitioning to life outside the womb as quickly as she should. Though she was crying, her cries were weak. The nurses took her from me and began rubbing her vigorously. My husband stood by her side … watching, praying. Please yell, I silently pleaded. Her cries strengthened, and her skin tinged pink as oxygen surged through her tiny body. The midwife tended me, and my husband wore a path between our daughter and my side.

IMG_0307

Lily continued to slowly improve, but her pulse ox was low, indicating some respiratory distress. The nurses called NICU and my heart sunk. We’d been through this before; two of our daughters had been sent to the NICU after birth for brief observation due to respiratory issues, but I’d hoped and prayed we might avoid it this time. It was beginning to look like that wouldn’t be the case.

The NICU nurses arrived and began monitoring Lily’s vitals. My husband walked over, his face drawn. “They’re going to take her to NICU,” he said. I was heartsick; I wanted her cradled in my arms, not wheeled down the hall. “We’ve been through this before,” he reminded me. “She’ll be ok.” His words rung true, but logic doesn’t register with the longing of a mother’s heart.

“Go with her,” I urged him. “I’m fine here.” He walked off, following the tiny bassinet as it carried our little girl who had only moments before been tucked tightly inside. With the nurse keeping me company, I awaited his return and relaxed when I heard his footsteps echo outside the door. “How is she?” I asked. His face was solemn. “They’re admitting her,” he said. I don’t remember if I cried at his words; what I do know is I felt the caverns of a yawning emptiness grow.

IMG_0315

Lily was still showing signs of respiratory distress, and the NICU nurses weren’t sure why. Although two of our daughters had shown similar respiratory issues after birth, theirs had remedied within a few hours on their own. This, however, was different. After the nurse finished with me, they transferred me to postpartum, and my husband quickly wheeled me to the NICU unit. He informed me that Lily was on oxygen and had a feeding tube, since it would be difficult for her to nurse. He navigated the maze-like hallways and then pushed me into her room; though it pulsed with light and the incessant rhythm of beeping monitors, it was hushed and sacred.

Lily slept soundly in her bassinet, supported by oxygen and a tiny feeding tube. At 9 pounds, 9 ounces, she was the biggest baby in the room. Her attending nurse came over to introduce herself and then gently told me that I couldn’t hold her just yet because they didn’t want to disturb her tubes. My heart lurched. This was not how I had envisioned this birth, but God had been so faithful; I would trust Him in this too. We stayed by her bassinet for more than an hour before we decided to try to get some rest. At this point it was nearing dawn. We returned to our room and fitfully tried to sleep for a few hours before waking and going straight back to NICU. This pattern of NICU – postparturm – NICU was one we would come to know well.

IMG_0316

Later that morning, the hospital pediatrician made his rounds. He stopped by our room to introduce himself and talk about Lily. It was during that visit we learned that an X-ray had revealed that Lily had a small puncture in one of her lungs that was making it difficult to for her to breathe. As his gentle, patient words poured forth, I worked to catch my own breath and a number of worst-case scenarios and panicked questions passed through my mind. Would she need surgery? How long would she need to stay here? What does this mean for her future?

Her pediatrician graciously explained that the condition, officially called a pneumothorax, is when a bit of air escapes from the lung and gets trapped between the chest wall and the outer tissue of the lungs. Typically the condition heals on its own within a matter of days, and the body reabsorbs the air. Occasionally, babies may need to have the air released by needle aspiration. I was simultaneously shattered and relieved. The diagnosis was frightening, but her pediatrician seemed confidant that Lily’s lung would likely heal on it’s own. Only time could tell.

We returned to the NICU, this time getting to hold Lily, and my heart folded around her as my arms enclosed her. I could have never anticipated this turn of events, but I trusted God would heal her.

My mom arrived a bit later, bringing our younger preschool-aged girls. Having to explain to them that Lily wasn’t in our room shattered my heart again. Our two-year-old wasn’t allowed in the NICU, but my husband brought our four-year-old in to meet her. Shortly after we returned to our room, I pulled the two-year-old into my bed and wrapped my arms around her. Physically and emotionally spent, she and I both fell asleep.

Little by little, Lily seemed to be improving. Later that day, my mom brought all four kids to the hospital, and our oldest two walked reverently into the NICU and met their baby sister for the first time.

The hours passed slowly, and my husband and I made ourselves a permanent fixture by Lily’s bassinet. On Tuesday (just over 24 hours after her birth but what felt like days), the midwife gave me the option of being discharged or staying another day. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Lily, and I was feeling confident that she would be released to go home with me on Wednesday, so I requested to stay one more day.

IMG_4008

Later that afternoon, Lily’s pediatrician stopped to inform us that she was progressing slowly, but well. My heart soared. He then asked if we were being discharged on Wednesday. When I replied yes, he very gently said, “I don’t think she’ll be going home with you.”

In that moment, I literally crumbled, and every facade of strength fell away. I couldn’t go home and leave my baby here. Though Lily was right where she needed to be at the time, the thought of walking out of that hospital with empty arms was agonizing. 

To get Lily home, we had to get her off oxygen and the feeding tube, so that became the goal and our prayer. We’d shared Lily’s situation with close friends and family, and we felt buoyed by their prayers. The first time I nursed her, she had a difficult time, but the second time she latched immediately. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Meanwhile, we had to figure out a plan of action if I happened to be discharged before Lily. I needed to be available around the clock to nurse her, so going home wasn’t feasible. Thankfully, our NICU nurse suggested a room-in option that is reserved for low-risk NICU patients who are nearing discharge. Availability wasn’t guaranteed, but she assured me she would look into it.

IMG_4017

As Wednesday dawned, I felt hopeful. If Lily had a bit longer to stay, there was a good chance we’d be staying with her. That same day, Lily stretched and yanked out her feeding tube. Since she was nursing well, the nurse agreed to leave it out. I was ecstatic; we were making progress! That afternoon, Lily’s NICU nurse confirmed that she was progressing well and they would indeed be moving her to Special Care. It was news worthy of a celebration! We wouldn’t be going home just yet, but we would be allowed to room-in with her!

I was officially discharged that evening, and my husband immediately moved us into Lily’s Special Care wing. They brought Lily up, still hooked up to a heart rate, pulse-ox, and respirations monitor but completely free of both the feeding and oxygen tubes. I could hardly wait to pull her out of her bassinet and sit and rock her in the privacy of our own room for the first time.

IMG_4020

Pleased with Lily’s progress, the pediatrician discharged her on Thursday. The feeling of the warm sun on my face as we exited the hospital, with Lily wrapped snug in my arms is forever etched in my mind. We called ahead to let my mom know we were coming home but asked her not to tell the kids. It was a sweet surprise indeed when we opened the door and finally come home as a family of 7.

To see a video of Lily’s homecoming, click here.
To read part 1 of her birth story, click here.

A FEW NOTES: Three months later, Lily is thriving, and her pediatrician has assured us that although a pneumothoraxrax can reoccur, the chance of that happening is exceptionally low. I pray that her experience of it is nothing more than part of her birth story.  According to my research and conversations with pediatricians, no one really knows why a spontaneous infant pneumothorax occurs in an otherwise healthy infant. In fast deliveries like Lily’s, it is believed that the force of the initial breath causes an air sac to burst. If you have questions or you’d like more information about our experience, feel free to leave a comment.

Looking back, I realize Lily’s NICU stay was short and hers was a relatively low-risk condition (especially compared to other high-risk babies), but it was extremely difficult while we were in the midst of it. The experience gave me a new sense of respect and empathy for anyone who has ever had a child in the NICU, and it made me ever grateful for the tender work that NICU staff employees do day in and day out.

/ / /

Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Available on AmazonFor more content like this, connect with me on Facebook or Instagram! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All photos shown here here by Bree Linne. All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

Advertisements

Dear Moms: You’re Not the Only One

When You Feel Like You're the Only One

So it happened. I sat down last night after the kids had gone to bed and started to talk with my husband … and it happened. Tears. Wet trails ran down my cheeks as frustration and exhaustion came pouring out. Because it’s hard. This motherhood calling; this laying down of yourself to serve the needs of your kids and your family with nary a thanks. It’s throw-you-to-your-knees, pour-yourself-out hard.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s high and it’s holy, it’s brave and it’s beautiful, and I’m so thankful that God has gifted me with these beautiful kids and this privileged calling, but somedays it’s all I can do to simply make it through. I get tired of the mom bun, tees and shorts, sweeping dog hair, changing diapers, picking up toys, correcting behavior, making one more meal and then making another. Yes, even those of us who write poetic words about the proper perspective, the fleeting childhood years, or encouragement for the times we feel unseen … even we get discouraged. I.GET.DISCOURAGED.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to forget that we ALL struggle at times. We look at curated Facebook posts and picture-perfect Instagram squares, and we overlook the fact that real life is occurring between those lines.

Real.Messy.Life. 

Pull back the curtain on those still-frames and you’ll find babies crying, kids arguing, dogs barking, laundry accumulating, hair graying, laugh lines creeping, waists shifting, hearts breaking. Because the glorious and the gritty occupy the same space, we just don’t always see it. 

When You Feel Like You're the Only One

Comparison is the thief of joy, and it’s easy to look at a watercolor beach vacation and then despise your kitchen with its fresh-from-breakfast mess still in the sink and a half-eaten peanut-butter-and-jelly on the cutting board. In those moments, in those times that I compare highlight reels to my mundane Thursday afternoon, I can feel the tears pooling. Maybe you can too. Maybe you have days where you want to cry, throw in the towel, give up on this motherhood thing.

You don’t feel good enough, smart enough, equipped enough. You don’t think you can hear “Mom” one more time, strip one more set of sheets, quell one more argument, negotiate one more nap time. No one could prepare you for this … the swelling of your heart with an uncontainable love that is grounded only by the intensity of the motherhood role. Everyone tells you that labor ends when the child is placed upon your chest, but you know better. You know that labor extends well past the birthing room.   

When You Feel Like You're the Only One

Oh friend … if this is you, please hear this. You are not alone. On these days, in these moments when you feel tired and worn-out, ill-equipped and unqualified … You.Are.Not.Alone. The same God who sees you when mothering is hard, He who promises to carry you through is the same God who created community to help you shoulder the burden.

So find community, and press into it. Share your struggles and lay bare your heart. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be authentic. Be transparent. Tell your story. Take off the mask and break down the walls. Invite someone into the heart of your mess just as they are, and you’ll find a common grace.

C. S. Lewis said: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Motherhood is hard. It’s hard for me. For you. For them. It’s hard and it’s holy, it’s gritty and it’s glorious, and it will bring you to your knees. But when motherhood merges with authentic community, you’ll find a friend to lift you from your knees and a voice of understanding to whisper you’re not the only one.

/ / /

Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on AmazonFor more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

Regret-Free Mothering

Regret-Free Mothering | Faith and Composition

Regrets can suffocate a mom, threaten to steal the joy right out from within her. A mother can tally up those things like she’s keeping score. She can string each one, a bead at a time and then wear them around her neck like an albatross. My oldest is six, so I haven’t logged even a decade of motherhood yet, but I have some regrets stacking up already.

Just the other night, my son walked with dog bowls in hand toward the pantry. His arms wavered slightly as he set the bowls on the counter, then he turned, and I caught his eye. As his lip trembled, and the tears spilled from his eyes, I felt overwhelming regret consume me. Just moments before I had barked orders at him. We were running late, the baby was crying, dinner needed to be on the table, and I was feeling the pressure. I let the stress fill me up, and then I poured it out on him.

My boy is tender hearted, gracious, compassionate. It cuts him to the core when I use a harsh tone. So why do I do it? Why do I let the stress of the day boil over and take it’s toll on the ones I love most? I wrapped my arms around him almost immediately; I got down on his level and asked for forgiveness. Our relationship was mended, but I went to bed that night with regret eating at me.

The apostle Peter had regrets too. Christ foretold Peter he would deny him. But Peter was adamant, not him. Never.

Matthew 26:33 | Faith and Composition

But just hours after confessing his devotion, Peter does the very thing he vowed he wouldn’t do. He denies Jesus in His deepest hour of need … not once, not twice, but three times. Then the rooster crows, searing regret into Peter’s core, and he weeps bitterly.

If Peter—the man in Jesus’ inner circle—had regrets, you and I are bound to have them too. Mistakes in life, missteps in work, wrongs in relationships, misgivings in mothering. The question then is what do we do when these regrets arise?

What do we do when harsh words are spoken, spirits deflated, hearts crushed, souls wounded? How do we respond when tears fall from little ones’ eyes or doors slam at the hands of a frustrated teen? How do we move beyond the all-consuming regret that results from those situations and into reconciliation and redemption?

Peter could have remained in his regrets. He could have wallowed in the sorrow of his denial of Jesus, and it could have rendered him useless for the Kingdom. This denial could have been the last we heard of Peter. His ministry could have ended here.

But it didn’t. Why? Because Jesus … 

After his resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples and asks Peter a direct question. Not once, not twice, but three times. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” And three times Peter affirms Him, one answer of affirmation to redeem each denial.

Peter’s regret was one that only Christ could redeem. And Christ indeed did just that. Jesus sought Peter, He reconciled Peter to himself, and then He used Peter to influence the Kingdom for eternity. Peter knew what it meant to have regrets, and he knew what it meant to have those regrets redeemed. It was this experience that enabled Peter to became a conduit of grace to so many others.

You and I have that same opportunity. When mama guilt threatens to consume us, we can give in to the regret. We can let it eat away at us, gnawing into our heart, or we can give it to Jesus. If we give it to Jesus, we’ll find that He redeems our regret and transforms it into a tool of grace and redemption that we can’t help but spill out onto our own children and others. We can extend forgiveness, show mercy, pour out lovingkindness only because we have been recipients of it first. When face to face with Jesus, our regrets suddenly transform from marred mistakes into tools of His mercy. So whatever your regrets may be—even if they’re strung as beads upon a thread worn heavy around your neck—drop them at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to bring forth redemption.

Hinds Feet on High Places | Faith and Composition

This is Day 13 in 31 Days of Intentional Mothering. To start reading from Day 1, click here.

/ / /

Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

 

13 Life Lessons from a Mother to Her Son

13 Life Lessons from a Mother to her Son | Faith and Composition

My oldest recently completed kindergarten, and I’ve been musing a bit on the rapid passage of time. Wise, white-haired, nostalgic grandmothers caution us that it all passes so quickly, but you don’t realize the startling truth of that honest reality until you watch your own little ones growing before your eyes. The days pass slowly at times, but the years … those years fly by.

If I teach my son how to read and write, that 1+1=2, that whites should be washed on hot, and how to function as a productive part of society, yet I fail to teach him the more important heart matters, then I have fallen short. Because my role as a mother to this little boy is to raise him to be a man who loves the Lord and to have a heart that blesses others out of the outpouring of that love. 

And so I’ve been thinking a bit on things I want my son to know, life lessons that I hope he learns through the beautiful process of growing up in this lovely, mess of a family. I pray that through the expression of love and the modeling of forgiveness, these are the lessons that root deep into his heart.

13 LIFE LESSONS I WANT MY SON TO KNOW

1) Bravery isn’t measured by brute strength, nor is it the absence of fear, for fear is a common human emotion. Bravery is a heart willing to step up and out in spite of that fear. Take heart, be brave.

2) Society will try to tame your God-given thirst for adventure, but the world needs men who will rise to the challenge and ride to the rescue; that just may be you! Don’t tame your adventurous spirit.

3) And yet don’t resist the quiet, and don’t shun the weak. For beauty is found in quiet, and God’s strength is revealed in weakness.

4) Respect nature, immerse yourself in it. For God’s creation is the best measuring stick used to reveal our smallness and His greatness.

5) You will have both successes and failures. Be humble in the former, graceful in the latter.

6) Practice forgiveness.

7) Model strength through service.

8) Listen attentively; speak carefully.

9) God has given you a tender, compassionate heart, but there will be circumstances that will threaten to harden it. Don’t let the world steal your joy. Choose instead to let those circumstances flood you with compassion to pour out to a hurting world.

10) See girls not for their charm and beauty, but for their heart. Treat them with the respect due a sister in Christ. As their brother in Christ, serve them humbly.

11) The world will compete fiercely for your attention, and endless attractions have the potential to capture your interest. Only one thing satisfies. Choose God first, the rest will fall into place.

12) Take pride in a job well done. There is honor in honest work. Work always as though you are working for the Lord, not man.

13) Know that I will always love you more than my meager words could ever express. No matter your age, no matter your size, wherever your life may lead, you will always be my little boy, and I will love you with the ceaseless endurance that defines a mother’s love for her son.

 

/ / /

Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

When Grace Trumps Guilt

When Grace Trumps Guilt | Faith and Composition

It had been a taxing evening. My husband was out of town, and the older kids had both decided to throw near-simultaneous tantrums. The baby was running a fever, and my throat was on fire. Everyone needed me to meet their needs, but I could hardly meet my own. I felt awful, and I desperately needed a hot cup of tea and a long night’s rest. Unfortunately, neither was going to happen anytime in the near future.

I finally got the baby to sleep and then walked out to the living room to find the boy and girl jumping up and down asking for a snack. Their recent tantrums a thing of the past, they were quite exuberant, and they were using none-too-soft voices. I knew they risked waking the little one. “Shh!” I pleaded. “Please don’t wake your sister!”

As if on cue, she cried out. In frustration and out of sheer exhaustion I turned to my son: “Why were you so loud?” I snapped. “Now I need to put her down again. I’d really like to spend some time with you, but I can’t because I need to tend her now.”

His face sank, hope deflated, tears spilled. “I’m sorry Mama,” he said. “I want you to spend time with me.”

As his words tumbled out, the reality of the situation and the sharp, reactionary nature of my response became painfully clear. Guilt and shame welled up through that sore throat of mine, and I struggled to push it down.

I leaned into him, bent down, cupped his face and said, “I am so sorry!”

He melted into me. Little boy arms that hang long and slim wrapped around my waist. He squeezed my neck tight, and instant forgiveness flooded over me. There was no condemnation, there weren’t any expectations; it was just pure grace poured out from a six-year-old boy to his tired mama.

When Grace Trumps Guilt | Faith and Composition
As moms, it’s easy to lose our cool and say words with a harsh tone. The days can drag on tedious and tiring, the kids’ needs seem relentless, our significance feels small. We pour ourselves out without a moment to fill up, and suddenly we find ourselves responding to something the kids said or did out of sheer exhaustion or frustration.

And then that guilt and shame … it rears it’s ugly head and whispers into our weakness: you’re not enough, you messed up again, you raised your voice, broke their heart, you’re failing at motherhood. The emotions are real, heavy, ugly.

Maybe you’ve been there; maybe you find yourself there today.

Because these kids … they bless us and stretch us in ways we couldn’t have ever imagined, and that stretching can pull us thin, wear us down threadbare. Limits are tested, words spoken, patience expired. And days like that can leave us with the weight of mom guilt hanging heavy around our shoulders.

Guilt that shames, condemns, enslaves.

That’s where I found myself that night, swimming in a big pool of Mama shame.

But then my boy. 

My boy accepted my apology with open arms, and then he took those arms and embraced me. Right there on the kitchen floor unbeknownst to him, he gave me a very tangible object lesson. And it’s this: Grace trumps guilt. It ALWAYS will if you let it.

I know that. I knew it then, but sometimes when guilt is thick, we need to be reminded of that beautiful truth. And there’s nothing better to serve as a reminder than the forgiving, all consuming hug of a six-year-old boy.

Because sometimes our children are the tangible expression of God’s grace to us at just the moment we need it most. Forgiveness, acceptance, open arms.

Here’s what I know … Grace will always trump guilt, if you let it. It will stamp out shame, and it will spring forth from the tiniest seed in the most remote and barren of places. But we must be willing to receive it. Had I turned away from my son’s expression of grace that evening, it would have fallen flat on the kitchen floor. Instead I received it, and hearts softened, a relationship strengthened, bitterness dissipated.

Grace trumped guilt. It did for me, and it will for you if you’ll simply receive it. If Mama guilt hangs heavy, if shame is pressing down, please know that the gift of grace waits for you from the stretched-wide arms of Jesus. Overwhelming grace, consuming grace, I-don’t-deserve-it grace … it’s yours for the taking. Receive it. Because grace always triumphs.

 

/ / /

Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!