Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Could parenthood be better than this?

For many years the idea of having my own kids was not an idea I was willing to entertain. I did however want to be an auntie. That seemed like the best deal of them all. As an Auntie I could get al the great parts of kids and leave discipline and meltdowns to their parents. Win Win right?

When I met Daniel he already had 2 nieces, Madeline and Julia. I still remember the day I met them, it was at Disneyland. Madeline the goofy outgoing one, wasn’t to sure of what to think about me, and Julia the mousey, shy one, took to me right away. Though I wasn’t yet their Auntie I loved getting to know these little girls, knowing that they just may become my nieces one day too.

It was very soon after that I moved to El Salvador. While I was in El Salvador my Aunthood exploded. My cousin Kim got pregnant, my brothers wife got pregnant and Daniel’s sister gave birth to another little girl. I still remember the day that my brother called me in El Salvador to tell me. “Hello Aunite” he says. “hey bro” (I thought he was referring to me being an auntie for Kim’s baby). He says it again “HELLO AUNTIE” this time with a little force. “wait WHAT!!!” I started screaming. Once I figure out what he was telling me I was beyond excited!! I went running though the Teen Challenge center where I worked yelling “voy estar una tia” seeing as I worked with all men, they humored me and listened to me talk about how excited I was.

When I came home for a 3wk furlough, Daniel and I took the drive to go meet Naomi. His then 1 month old niece. Daniel and I weren’t engaged yet, but I was still excited to meet another little girl that soon be my niece. We hung out and played with the girls for a few days and I fell more in love with all of them.

In November 2006 not long after returning from El Salvador for good, my first nephew was born, Tristin. I still remember the day he was born. It was Thanksgiving day. He was so tiny, I held him and we made faces at one another. I few weeks later I became his very first babysitter, while his mom (my cousin Kim) ran to the bank. She called me twice to check on him, but I didn’t mind, as long as we got to cuddle on the couch.

6 months later my bother became a dad when my niece Penny was born. Still to this day her birth has been the most emotional for me, probably because it was my brother’s daughter. There was a lot going on that day and I only had about 5 mins with Penny, I cried the whole time I held her. I’m not sure I’d loved another human that much in my life.

By the time Daniel and I got married, we had 4 nieces and 1 nephew. For the next couple years that was it, we loved and played with those 5. I think the best part of my day was anytime I heard the word Auntie. In 2009 we get a text message from Daniel’s sister “we’re having twins!!” Two more little nephews to add to our collection. Toby & Trevor were born in March 2010. They were 2 wks old when we made the drive to meet them. They were still in the hospital, we visited them twice a day for 3 days. After that we made a few changes to our schedule so we could see the 3 girls and 2 boys once a month. We put a lot of miles on the car, but it was worth it hear “Aunt Regina, come play stickers with me”.

Then it happened again, just one month after Daniel and I found out I was pregnant, my brother’s wife Tiffany gave birth to their son Duncan. He was 1 day old when Penny “took me” to meet her brother. He’s still so tiny and squeaky. Watching Penny’s love for her baby brother warms my heart.

I can’t wait to hear “Auntie” come out of Duncan, Toby and Trevor. Not long after Penny was born I was thinking about my deep love for my nieces and nephews, totaling 8 now. Why do I love them so much. I realized that seeing as I never saw myself having kids of my own, being an Aunt was in my mind the closest I was going to get to parenthood. So I took all my love and poured it into being an Aunt.

But what ended up happening is those kids sideswiped me with awesomeness. I fell so in love with being an Aunt, I started to want kids of my own. Being an Aunt turned out to be better than I even imagined. And now that Daniel and I are adding our own little person to niece/nephew herd, I can’t help but think if it is even possible to love Imogen more than I love my nieces & nephews. I have talked to enough people to know that we will have a deeper love for her, but how is that possible!! I look forward to parenthood even if I have to have the meltdowns and the discipline and Imogen’s aunties and uncles get all the fun.

My sister Kelly And I holding Penny the day after she was born

Me and Tristin, the day he was born

Julia, Naomi, Madeline

Monday, March 28, 2011

We have been given the Logos

Coming from a background in philosophy, it would be an understatement to say that I think critical thought and reason play a very important part in our faith. Epistemology, or what we may know and how we come to that knowledge is very important to me. I believe it is no small coincidence that the evangelist of John begins his account with “In the beginning was the Logos.” The book of Romans declares that the Lord can be known through observation of the world. It is also no coincidence that our primary means of understanding the Lord comes through orderly written accounts full of form, structure, and reason. The Lord is a God of reason and order. Thus, it is logical that we come to an understanding of God through orderly and rational means.

Be that as it may, void of God's presence, pure reason fails. There is a lifetime of knowledge at our disposal, and insufficient time to comprehend it. Rational people are confronted with numerous reasonably held, yet incompatible truth claims. Simply put, hyper rationalism, or modernism driven to its natural conclusion, is overwhelming. This leads well meaning, rational people to choose one truth claim among many reasonable options, in essence resulting in postmodernism.

Postmodern thought is an ever increasing reality in our society, even amongst the conservatively rational western church. Theists and non theists both have reasonable arguments for their position.* A rational follower of Christ may make a reasonable, well defended claim for either a secure or an ‘abiding’ salvation. Likewise for free will, predestination, or various combinations of the two. There are numerous truth claims that may be reasonably held, even though our belief system holds that there is one truth.

Overwhelmed by the cacophony of truth claims, the average person of faith puts their trust in one claim that seems reasonable, and timidly holds it. We have the faculties to understand God to an extent, but regardless of what we may know, ‘His ways are above our ways.’ Put another way, the absolute truth we believe in is beyond us. We must accept that, fundamentally, the Lord is as much a mystery as He is comprehensible. Fueled by postmodernism, this has generated a movement within faith I call neo-mysticism. Where reason fails, mystery abounds.

The result, for the Church, is a body that rests increasingly on feeling and preference over reason. The church is at least partially responsible for this shift. Well meaning theologians, in fear of relativistic theology, proclaim their viewpoints more vociferously, drastically narrowing their definition of orthodox doctrine. The body of Christ is left confused and alienated by the resulting battles. It is not that the body of Christ lacks an evangelical mind. Rather, the body has been driven by fear to avoid using it. Instead, blind faith is put in the Holy Spirit for guidance. I say blind, not as an insult, but rather as a course navigated by spiritual compass, but no map.

We need a more balanced approach. What God has revealed of Himself has been overwhelmingly logical. Still, we must leave room for the mysterious workings of the Spirit. We must accept postmodernism, in a sense. Science and reason can only go so far in understanding God. By definition, God is beyond any quantifiable measure or logical principle. Any right belief in the Lord of heaven must account for that.

They that worship shall do so ‘in Spirit and truth.’ Any personal revelation provided by the Spirit must be interpreted in light of truth, of what may be rationally known. These truths should include the precedence of tradition as a guide marker, without elevating tradition to equality with truth. Tradition is the map to our spiritual compass. While our spiritual parents may have wandered off course at times, their journey informs ours.

'What we see is a dim image in a mirror.' We should accept that our spiritual vision is clouded by the very nature of our humanity. As such, we should be humble in any claims of absolute truth. Rather, we should understand that there are tiers of belief. First tier beliefs like the deity of Christ and His atoning sacrifice are non negotiable. Baptism by immersion or sprinkling is.

We must recognize that we have been given the Logos so that we may know of the Lord, and His goodness. We must always approach that Logos with the humility of His inherent wonder and mystery. We must recognize that the course we navigate was plotted and followed by millennia of sojourners before us.

* I am an ardent apologist. I hold that the rational, reasonable belief is that the God of the Bible is the absolute truth. I am not a relativist in an absolute sense. I speak of reasonable arguments for competing doctrines and non theistic paradigms to develop the point that the byproduct of hyper rationalism is nonsensical, and thereby absurd. Please do not misconstrue my statements to mean that I am not a defender of absolute truth.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is a dog ever just a dog?

The last two days I have been participating in class called Awaken with my church. There was about 40 of us going through our lives looking at how out past hurts have shaped us to who we are today. I've been through this process before and have always been able to see how different difficult situations in my life have molded me. Last night as I began looking at my "life map" I began focusing on one particular painful experience. The death of my dog Argos.

Argos passed away in Nov 2006 from Leukemia, I was 26. Her death was one of the hardests losses I've ever experienced. She was so much more than just a dog to me. I got her when I was 17 yrs old, her and I were inseprable, we were partners, she went most everywhere with me. For a long time she was the only living being I trusted.

The day put her down we were sitting in the exam room at the Vet with the dr who gave her to me. He and my parents talked about how much I needed her for those 9 yrs of my life. I needed her far more than she needed me.

I talked it out with a friend of mine today, trying to figure out how Argos' death molded my life. We came to the realization that her death was a significant shift in my life. At the time of her death, I handed my trust from her and me agianst the world to trusting Daniel as my partner. He and I were engaged just weeks after her death.

Thinking about Argos got me to thinking about Basho. It took 3 yrs for me to get to a place where I was ready for another dog. I love Basho, he's the perfect family dog. I look forward to seeing Imogen grow up playing with her puppy Basho. He's become a great addition to our family. He's a great little backpacking buddy, and we've enjoyed taking him on family vacations.

But as I got to thinking about him today I realized that my relationship with Basho is very different than my relationship with Argos was. It's like, he's just a dog. Argos was my partner, Basho is our family dog. I love him, but he's different. I got to thinking about Imogen. Reality is, he will probably mean a lot more to her than he does to us. Basho will be Imogen's big brother, her best friend. Chances are Basho will help her learn to walk, he'll sit there and listen to her while she reads him books, they'll probably fight over toys and even take naps together.

Basho and Argos are nothing a like (except in color). They both will have served very different purposes in my life, special in their own way. No two memories of them will be the same. I hope we are blessed to have Basho for many years to come. I can't wait to see the relationship between Imogen and Basho unfold.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Growing a human is hard work

I’m going to get really honest for a moment……

I’m not enjoying being pregnant. The “side effects” are not fun; vomiting, nausea, nose bleeds, heart burn, insomnia….that’s just to name a few (believe me, you don’t want to hear everything). Thanks to the internet, I am reading everything I find about pregnancy, birth and having an infant. I’ve come across many blogs of woman who talk about how much they love being pregnant. I can’t help but wonder if they experience all these things or not? And if they do what’s their secret to not being bothered by them. Generally I’m a pretty positive person, so I’ve been a little surprised at how much I have disliked this whole process so far.

The Imogen part I like though. I wish I could get ultrasounds whenever I want. I get very excited to see her. Only 3 weeks until the next one. I can hardly wait until I feel her moving inside me. I swear I may have felt her last night, Daniel thinks it was in my head. I'm so excited to meet her. There are days when August seems so far away, it will never get here and other days I feel like if I blink she will be here already.

Even though I’ve hated all the things that are happening to me, it’s truly amazing at the same time. The fact my body has shifted into survival mode for me, giving me what I need to survive and has shifted to focusing everything else on ensuring Imogen is safe, healthy and growing. Most of the nutrients my body take in…she gets (no wonder my skin is so dry). I read one article that said the work my body is putting into growing a human everyday is equivalent to that of a person running a marathon (no wonder I’m so exhausted all the time).

I suppose pregnancy is just the beginning of the sacrifices a mother has to make for her children. This whole 9 mos, I’m not living for me, I’m living for her. I have to put aside any fun I want to have, for her safety (I guess I won’t be skydiving this year). Everything I eat, I have to eat with her in mind (I really miss sushi). Everyday tasks I have to ask myself if it’s safe for Imogen (thanks to me friends who came and moved furniture around for me).

All that to say, as truly miserable I have been, it’s all pretty amazing as well. And before I sign off, my husband deserves a HUGE shout out for putting up with me :-) Thank you Love, you're the best.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pink or Blue

One thing I have hated ever since we found out I am pregnant, is not knowing whether it's a boy or a girl. I have hated calling our child "it" or "the baby". We picked a girl name out a long time ago, long before we conceived (we road trip a lot so started figuring out baby names on one of our long drives down from the bay area).

We have been discussing boy names but couldn't agree on anything. We agreed to stop talking about it until we found out what the sex was.

Yesterday I found out that our Dr's office will do an ultrasound starting at 15wks to let you know the gender (if you don't want to wait until the scheduled 20wk one). We just have to pay $40, since the insurance company won't cover it before 20wks.

So OF COURSE I was going to pay....patience has never been my strong point :-)

So they squeezed us in this morning. I laid on the table, the tech squeezed the goo on my growing belly and we got another glimpse of our little one. 10 little fingers and 10 little toes, the baby turned it's head and gave is a smile. Then the tech headed down towards the rump for the money shot. With it's legs spread for us to see, there it............wasn't!!! A little Girl!!!! I burst out "baby Imogen". I looked at Daniel "Are you ready for tea parties?" he smiled wide "absolutely!!!". The tech took a quick pic of our little girls's girly parts and we were done. 5 mins after walking in, we were walking out, knowing who was in my belly, our little girl Imogen Aurora.

We're even more excited now, my cheeks are starting to hurt from all the smiling (just like the day we got engaged). Now we just have to wait another 24wks to meet her, darn that patience!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Never the same again

Since January 11 our lives have gotten turned upside down and will never be the same.

It was January 11, 2011 that Daniel started seminary. It is like a dream come true for him. Since then he has had his head in books and is up late writing papers. I gotta say, from the time we were dating and Daniel was working on his bachelors degree to now with his graduate degree, I really truly love when Daniel is in school. I love who he is when he’s learning. He reads things to me that strike him as insightful, we discuss (maybe argue) over different things he’s learning or has read. Studying has never been my strong point, but I love learning trough Daniel’s learning experiences. He teaches me so much. I know there will be some tough times ahead of us while he’s in Seminary, but I’m still excited for the process.

But that’s not really why our lives got turned upside down. It was 12hrs before his first class, at 6am that morning that our lives changed forever.

That’s when the extra little blue line showed up on the pregnancy test. I stared at the test in disbelief “oh shit” that’s all that came out of my mouth, as the cat stood there staring at me. I laid the test on the bathroom counter and stepped into the shower. I needed a moment to process this before waking Daniel up with this life altering news.

After taking my moment, I went into the bedroom to wake up my not so morning person husband.

“Babe, you know that room for God that we have left…..he took it…….I’m pregnant”

Daniel stared at me and I at him. I’m sure his head swirling with all the things mine was; like: we put in notice to our jobs, we’re moving to Portland, Daniel starts his graduate degree today……

“Babe, say something” I couldn’t stand him staring at me any longer without something. Daniel has a tendency to be more thought out with his words than I do, so he looks at me and says:

“Children are a blessing from God”

See that’s why I married him, I say “oh shit”, he thanks the Lord.

He sat up in bed and talked for a while, I wish we had that conversation on video, we were in such shock, lord knows what we rambled about. Daniel jumped in the shower and I called my sister. She’s a bit more like me “you guys are so dumb”. She knew we’d been a bit careless.

Over the following days, the reality sank in a little more. We told our family and some close friends. It’s been 2 months now since we found out. Sometimes it still feels surreal. It’s no secret anymore so people are always asking how I’m feeling and freely telling me their birthing horror stories (thanks for those by the way). Excitement is setting in more and more and the puking is becoming less and less.

We’re still planning on moving to Portland, we’re just going to wait until the baby born. This move will be far different than we originally thought it be.

I’m pretty sure January 11, 2011 will be forever etched into our minds.