Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bleach and Church

Last week, I was attempting to multitask in an effort to cross some of the 17 things off my to-do list of household chores. You know. The sock-matching, toilet scrubbing, “easy-healthy crock-pot-recipe” finding-via-Google type of tasks that roll around in my brain daily. In an instant, I turned around to my 18-month old son spraying himself directly in the face with bleach bathroom cleaner.

(Let me first say that this is not the time to go all organic-Earth-Mother on me. I don’t care about your Norwex miracle cloth that scrubs human feces and salmonella away with only one wipe.  I just don’t believe it. Sorry. Oh, and I also just like the smell of bleach. That is, until the moment when I realized that it may have landed directly on my son’s corneas.)

I quickly scooped up Ben and ran to the kitchen to stick his face under the kitchen facet. Please God! Help me! After a minute of crying and panic-rinsing we were both covered in water, clinging to each other on the kitchen floor. Ben soon found the whole toddler-waterboarding to be funny. He started giggling and dancing around, totally soaked.

Okay. So he can see. That’s good. I had not blinded him. Thanks be to God!

Here’s the thing: I am pretty responsible. I have child-proof locks and I do keep an eye, sometimes two, on my kids as they play and eat and breathe and live. I am alert and with it, pretty much.

Who could I even TELL that this Bleach incident occurred without facing harsh judgement?! How do you even bring this type of parenting hiccup into conversation, into daylight?

With my heart still pounding, I grabbed my phone and texted a girlfriend, a confidant who would not judge the fact that my son was almost blinded by my love of bleach.

Me: “Holy cow. Ben just sprayed himself in the face with bleach bathroom cleaner. I rinsed his face off and it appears he will live to see (literally) another day. This event has caused me to lose seven years off my life expectancy. This is why I have gray hair.”

Her reply: “I’m sorry! That must have been stressful, no doubt. True story: Last week I found _____ (her toddler son) sitting in the corner licking the liquid from an ant trap. He’s still alive and looks okay.”

Me: “It is a miracle that we’ve kept these kids alive for so long.”

Seriously. Thank you for being real, friend of mine. Thank you for admitting that you are not always perfect and that you have had a parenting mishap or two.

So let’s take this illustration from my house last week and bring it into the church setting. If ever there were a place to bring your hardships or to show your flaws, it should be at church, right? The church is supposed to be a place where we come together and worship our God who is all-knowing, all-perfect and who does not harm us with Bleach. We are sinners. Imperfect people who can’t get it right without the saving grace and MERCY of a God who gave Himself for us.

Mothering is hard. It is hard to do at home. It is hard to do at school. It is hard to do at the grocery store. It should not be hard to do at church.

About a month ago, I stumbled across the church parking lot carrying/pulling/propelling my two boys through the front door of church, and only four minutes late! Glorious day! I grimaced when I heard a 50-something-year-old mother say, “Oh wow. I do not miss THAT.” 

THAT my friend, is life. THAT is the glorious struggle of motherhood. THAT is one of the hardest, best things to have ever happened to my husband and me. THAT is two boys, being boys stuffed into church clothes at 9:04 AM.

Instead of staring and commenting nonchalantly on the obvious fact that the Knipes were a little frazzled walking into church, perhaps consider grabbing the hand of my rambunctious four-year-old and HELPING me.

I know that that you’ve “paid your dues”. I know that you’ve “been there and done that.” You have raised kids. Your kids are teenagers or are off to college or have gotten married and officially graduated from life under your roof. I know that you don’t mean to come off in a condescending way, standing there with your actually HOT coffee and child-free arms.

Please just help me. Encourage me. One line is seriously all it takes sometimes: Tell me that it was hard for you too. Tell me that I am doing a good job. Tell me that my kids are beautiful, even with spilled milk and granola stuck to their church clothes.

Above all, tell my kids they are LOVED by a mighty God, a God who is overjoyed that they’ve come to learn more about who He is and more about His incredible love.

Truth be told: I might look like I have it pretty much together, but I am just one more weak, tired sinner in need of GRACE and TRUTH. And our church on a Sunday morning is where I want and need to be.

Mothers, aunts, and friends of older, grown children: Remember the mommas with little ones. Encourage us. Laugh with us. Tell us that you too have almost-blinded your children with bleach.

You have such a crucial role to play in the lives of the young women in your church. Please never discount it. Please don’t just sail through your post-parenthood years and unknowingly ignore the young families at your church. We are eager to learn from you.  And we need you!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Infertility Awareness Week

While I like that special week designations shine a spotlight on specific causes, I find myself disliking "special" weeks too. The attention, awareness, and education that these weeks offer is encouraging; unfortunately, the spotlight shining and "acceptance" sometimes seems to last only seven days.

At the Christian college I attended, we had a Spiritual Emphasis Week every year. The idea behind it was to take a week and bring in special speakers to engage our campus in further dialogue about our faiths. In theory, that doesn't sound bad. But really, Spiritual Emphasis Week? Do we only want to emphasize spiritual things for a week? For seven days? What about the other 51 weeks of the year?

Remember Red Ribbon Week at school? Say that fives times fast. I'm certain it's still around. The week where we talked about not doing drugs every single day. We wore red and had crazy door decorating contests. You remember that?

These themed, titled weeks are not bad. Really, they aren't. They do have value. I'm not a total pessimist this morning! But I think my main beef, the thing that leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth for these "special" weeks is the idea that usually, after the week is over, the topic or cause goes back in the closet or is seen as taboo again.

I understand that certain topics make us feel uncomfortable. We feel challenged by our naivety, or our lack of knowledge on the topic.

This is okay.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, the one week where it's more permissible to dive into that uncomfortable conversation. The week were couples can open up about the deep valleys they've traveled with the hope of coming out on the other side, baby in hand.

Still, I am not so naive to think that once this week is over, society will embrace infertility as a topic that is fine to bring up at the family dinner table, or in the faculty lounge, or in the cubicles at work. I doubt that insurance companies will see this medical condition as one that warrants funding for treatment. Unfortunately, the need for awareness about infertility will still exist.

You know what though? One thing this week has brought to my attention is the fact that I am okay talking about the valleys and the hard stuff, beyond this "special" week. Chris and I have walked through some dark places on our path to parenthood. And God has and will use them. All of them. None of our pain or discomfort or embarrassment is a waste. God will use it.

When life doesn't go the way we want it to, or the path in front of us does not align with our dreams, we doubt God. We doubt His goodness. Even in those bleak, empty places, He is with us, working out a plan for us. He is FOR us.

You may be in a dark place where you can't see Him. He's there.

And if you want to talk to someone who gets the pain of the void of a failed pregnancy, a failed plan, I'm here. And not just this week. The other 51 too.

Simply complete the Contact Form below. Let me know how I can pray for you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1 Year Post Transfer

I can't come up with the right words for this post. Saying I'm "thankful" doesn't even cover it. Praising God for Benjamin today and every day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Benjamin is here!

Benjamin Craig Knipe

October 7, 2016 8:03 AM
7 pounds, 10 ounces

Oh my goodness. I don't even know where to begin. It's been a week and a half since Ben arrived, and I am still in awe of this sweet boy! Everything with the c-section went well; we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM and by 8:03, Benjamin was here and healthy. All of the little details were so reviewed by God. Seriously. My nurses were friends, my surgeon endearing... just so many little things that made the process smooth and made me feel at ease.

I remember saying to Chris (about thirty times just that day alone): "I am so relieved. Thank you God. I am so, so relieved that he's here and he's okay."

The c-section and the recovery has been much easier this time compared to Gabe's. Also different is the fact that so far, we have a CHILL BABY. As long as his basic needs are met, Ben is one cool cat. He is just so calm. And he sleeps. Just typing those words freaks me out because I don't want to jinx this experience, this sweet newborn experience. I feel stronger and more rested at a week and a half out than I did with Gabe one month post delivery. 

Right now, we are soaking up these days. I want them to just last and last... new baby smell and snuggling, and sweet Gabe comments about all-things baby and big-brotherhood... Oh, I wish it would last forever. I am thankful and praising God for this experience and this miracle. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Conflicting Emotions

Knowing with certainty that the events of tomorrow will be life-changing has made this day one filled with emotion. I'm so anxious to see this baby. I want him/her to be healthy and I want to see the physical manifestation and validation that yes, there was a baby growing in my stomach these last months. At the same time, I wish tomorrow would wait a bit longer to arrive; time can slow down a bit.

I just put Gabe down for his nap and sobbed through story time and singing. The whole time, he kept asking, "You okay, Mom? You crying, Mom?" He'd pause, nuzzling in closer to me. "It okay, Mom."

I wish I could just freeze moments like that. Moments where I'm so present in my life as a mom.

Why the heck am I bawling my eyes out?! Good question. It's one I've asked myself a few times today already. Answer: It's because today is the last day with just Gabe. It's the most bizarre experience really, to feel so sad today, especially considering the effort, prayers, and angst we've been through these past two years just to get to this place of almost-delivery again.

I have no doubt that we will embrace this baby with open arms, arms eager for this next phase as a family. I'm so curious to know what this baby will act like, who he or she will grow into... Who are you in there?! 

I know that down the road I'll read this post and roll my eyes. I'll think: How could I ever have been SAD over the arrival of ___________ into our family?! Still, I'm pausing today to write so I can remember this odd feeling of both sadness and joy.  If it is possible to feel like I'm mourning something while also eagerly anticipating what's coming next, that's about where I am today. And that's okay.

Monday, September 26, 2016

37 Weeks

I realize the picture above more closely shows our toothbrushes than my belly... Sorry. I was trying to snap a quick picture before heading out the door to church. Still, here's my belly at 37 weeks. Documenting for posterity's stake! 

Next Friday, the baby will be here. I can't believe it. We have reached 37 weeks today and I am once again in that place of being super excited to be so close to delivery while also wanting time to crawl so that I can experience the feelings of pregnancy a bit longer.

I've tried to steer away from thoughts like This could be the last time I'm pregnant. to Okay. Enjoy this. Be present in this gift.

Gabe has been practicing pregnancy too... Either that or he's mocking me. Regardless, he's getting closer to being a big brother!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

33.5 Weeks

Wow. We are at 33.5 weeks! Praise God!

Life has been a bit hairy lately; a good kind of craziness, but craziness nonetheless.

I started twice-weekly non-stress tests two weeks ago. So far nothing of concern has been noted. The baby is healthy and active. We had another ultrasound last week to check for growth and everything looked good on that front too.

We met with our doctor would recommends a C-section for me before my due date. I had wanted to avoid another C-section, but he was concerned that the scar tissue and trauma my uterus has faced so far may cause some barriers to a successful traditional birth.

At this point, we want a baby; however that baby gets out is in God's hands. C-section it is! We will head back to set a date for the section in two weeks. Our doctor would prefer I deliver before my due date so as to not have any complications from the two-vessel umbilical cord. He wants to ensure there isn't any deterioration or problems that could arise from a large baby and an "old" cord.

Honestly, we are just going with the flow at this point. We are grateful to be at 33.5 weeks with a baby still in my stomach!

In case you were wondering, the baby in Gabe's belly is also growing. He tells me that his baby is going to come out soon, so that should be interesting...