Thoughts on: Having a Baby

I have to tell you something awesome:
There is a little human. In my belly.
I am a Mom.

I feel ten million things about this.
Mostly I feel: A Certain Type of Excited.

Not Disney World Excited. Not like sitting in the back of the mini van with zero reservations shouting YEAHHH THIS IS GOING TO BE SO FUN LET’S GOOOO!

More like the type of excited I felt before I became a missionary. Like I have so much hope and desire to do this but I am also SCARED because I want CHANGE THE WORLD and am I really READY or CAPABLE of such a MONUMENTAL venture?
…YES! What?! Noooooo! Wait, yes yes yes!

There is a word for this certain type of excitement:
awe |ô|
noun
1. a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

The source of this reverence, fear, and wonder:
I believe that every person is made of a spirit–you might call it a soul–and a body. While our bodies began existing sometime in the womb, our spirits existed long before that, and will continue to exist long after. In other words, I believe all of our spirits are infinite, that we have no definite beginning or end.

The idea that our spirits live on after we die isn’t new, but the idea that our spirits existed before we were born– sometimes that’s new. And that is what I’m getting at here.

That’s what the Lord was getting at when he said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” He’s saying, before you were born, I knew you personally. I gave you a purpose that you were to fulfill while you were here on earth. For Jeremiah it was to be a prophet, but I have specific work to do here to, and so do you, and so does my little baby. Before this baby was inside of me, his or her spirit lived with God, learned from Him, and was prepared to come here and learn more through the experiences of his or her life. So was I. So were you. And while God is our parent in Heaven, Ken and I get to be this little person’s parents on earth. We get to teach and prepare and help. And that, is something to feel awe about.

A time when the awe really got goin:
A little over a year ago, as I was thinking about having children, I felt something strange. I didn’t know how to describe it for a while except that it felt a little sad, but in a loving way. Why, when I thought about my future children, would I feel this strange hint of sadness? It puzzled me for a while, and then a thought came to me that felt very true. “It feels like I miss them,” I thought. Yep, that was it. It felt just like missing someone. But how could I miss my kids if I’d never met them? And then I remembered what I believe about our spirits, and that if my spirit existed with God before I was born, and my children’s spirits did too, then I probably have met them. In some part of me, I probably do know them, and miss them. Since then, there has just been no other way to describe it. My mind doesn’t know this little person — we haven’t met face to face yet. But our spirits know each other, and that little soul is growing in me. I am calmed to know that someday soon we will be face to face family.

Learn more about this idea: here.

Answers to the usual things people ask:
How far along are you? 10 weeks today.
When is your due date? September 15th.
Are you sick? YES. Yes yes yes.

brad

Quote

Identity poems today.

I wear knee-length jean shorts.
I wear jorts.
I cut my old jeans off at the knees,
and roll them once or twice,
to make my jorts.
I wear knee-length jorts even though my thighs
pudge out a little at the bottom,
Because I am Mormon,
and it is dang hot this summer.

I read things on my Kindle.
They are electronic books.
Like the paper version,
Only you swipe instead of turn the page.
Having a Kindle makes me feel Official.
Because I own a tablet
Not made of stone.

I argue with my husband.
Useless banter.
Sometimes for fun
And sometimes by accident
And a few times,
on purpose.
Because I just have a lot of emotions,
And that is a weird thing to handle.
I’m sorry.

I live in Texas.
Austin, Texas.
That has been true
For exactly seven days.
I live in Texas
And I embrace that.
But I need a job
And a friend
Please.

jorts

This is me talking about God.

Story time:
I used to be a teacher at the MTC.
That stands for Missionary Training Center.

I often asked the new missionaries,
“What do you need to feel in order to experience conversion?”
I wasn’t looking for any one answer in particular, just trying to get them thinking.

I often heard things like:
“Feel that God loves you.”
“Feel a desire to believe”
“Feel that He is listening.”

Once, from a brand new sister missionary in the back corner, I heard this:
“You need to feel uncomfortable.”

She explained that conversion requires a change of heart.
Some sort of self-renovation.
You cannot change or progress without leaving your comfort zone.
And so, she concluded, you need to feel uncomfortable.

I believe she was right.

Let’s talk about this.
Maybe the word conversion is strange and foreign to you.
You could call it inspiration or enlightenment or something more ambiguous if you like.
For me, that move can sometimes be deceiving.

Watch:
God >> Divine Being >> Higher Power >> Vibrations of Light >> Force of the Universe.
With each move, your subject becomes more broad.
You are covering a larger scope of ideas with just one word. This type of language is good if you’re speaking to a bunch of people from diverse backgrounds. It helps us unite and relate to a large spectrum of ideas. Yoga teachers are masters at this. But here’s the deal: in embracing that ambiguity, in trying to include every possible belief that others have, you may pass over the opportunity to clearly define what your belief is.

And so, I believe the safety of ambiguity also comes with a loss of clarity, relevance, and intimacy.
Who is God to you?
I think it can be simpler than a vast, vague sphere of ideas.
I think God is a man we can know, rather than a force that comes and goes in mysterious waves but is never quite as personal as a friend. I can be uncomfortable to try and communicate with someone you don’t know. But that is not the type of uncomfortable I’m talking about here. What I’m saying is that while the conversion experience must at some point feel uncomfortable, our relationship with God as a being, as a Father, does not have to be. It can be simple. And clear. And awesome.

Kind of like this:
There was a time when I really wanted to learn how to play the guitar. My good friend Jared offered to help. He was kind. He didn’t mind that my musical background consisted solely of jammin to the radio, he was just pumped to teach me–so I decided to try it. Still, it was uncomfortable for me. Holding the guitar, finding the chords, staying in rhythm–all of that was weird. It was a position I’d never been in before and most of the time I felt pretty embarrassed. Jared was patient. Sometimes he would explain things in a way that didn’t make sense to me, but I trusted him. I knew he was listening and that he cared about me, but learning to play like him was hard. It required much more. Same thing with God.

If you want to know Him,
You must be ready to go where you have never gone,
Learn new things. Embrace awkward positions.
Leave your comforts behind.

This means you will feel uncomfortable at times.
Not so much in your relationship with God,
but in the experience of becoming like Him.

I could leave you with a beautiful ending about how I stuck with guitar until I mastered it and was no longer uncomfortable. But that wouldn’t be true. I gave up on the guitar pretty fast. I just didn’t know if I was capable of the results I wanted. And if I was, would it be worth all the time I spent feeling uncomfortable? I wasn’t sure. So I stopped trying, and went back to the way I was. Now I listen to music like I always have, appreciating it from a distance without being involved. I think this is how I am with God sometimes too. Distant. Complacent.  But not happy. Not anywhere close to the potential he created me for. I keep having to remind myself to seek that potential–leave the zone of comfort.

So here’s the ending: I think that process is normal.
That is how you find out the details of who He is and how He works with you.
That is how God goes from someone you hear about, to someone you know.
That is how you move from an ambiguous notion, toward a firsthand, personal clarity.
It is also, I believe, the point of life.
We can do this.

HOME.

I am sittin here on the bed eatin blueberries,
wondering what to write about next.
I’ll just let myself talk to you.
(Or the void that is the internet.)
(Or whoever and whatever it is I speak with here.)
Here it comes.

This morning was a weird morning.
I swear I got out of bed multiple times and then woke up: still under the covers.
Ken tried to help.
I remember him nudging me with his nose like some kind of animal.
When I didn’t respond he pawed at my shoulder and made rawr sounds.
“Roaaarrrrrr! Wake up!”
“No” I said.
“But we’re pretending to be LIONS!” he replied.
“Nope.” [roll over]
“Oh. But why not?!”
And then somehow I was dressed and ready for church.
This is all I remember.

I don’t like to sleep when the sun is down,
but then by the time it’s up that’s all I wanna do.
The fact that I woke up every morning at 6:30 for a year and a half is a miracle.
(That’s when I was a missionary.)
The church is true people. That actually happened.
My mission is also the only time I looked forward to going to bed.
I was worked. WORKED.
All of that feels so far away now.
Now I work at the Missionary Training Center.
I help teach missionaries.
I am all around it every day, and yet my own mission feels far far away from me.

This has happened to me before– I want to tell you about it.
Remember the house on the culdesac?
The one with golden lights in my room at night?
The one I ran away from?
I ran away because we were moving.
My Dad was getting “transferred.”
That meant I was too. And I was real sad about it.
Now I know this all sounds very trivial, but it was so real to me then.
I wasn’t old enough to drive or take a bus or have a friend bring me back.
So, in my eyes, I couldn’t ever come back on my own.
I was leaving everything I’d ever known.
My friends and my cheer team and the woods in my back yard.
My bus stop and my Mamaw and my friend down the street.
And I couldn’t do anything about it.
That’s why I packed-up some canned food in the trees.
That’s why I planned for my friend to leave me sandwiches.
I was going to keep my life there, no matter what.

We moved on my tenth birthday and my heart broke.
There’s a lot to be said about this time in my life.
But the part I want to tell you about is this:
One time, we went back.
We drove back to Greensboro and Mom said we could go by our old house.
I couldn’t wait. That was my world! My home. I was going back to my life.
I carved my name in a tree in the front yard.
(…with my Mom’s tweezers, stolen from the console of our mini-van.)
We still had the key and no one had moved in yet, so we went inside.
I burst in the door, but
There was no big rug in the living room.
Everything was painted white– no colors.
No floral couches.
No kitchen table. No hand soap on the counter.
No shoes in the closet. No candy on top of the fridge.
No curtains on the windows. No pictures in my room.
It didn’t even smell like home.
It smelled like carpet cleaner and white paint.
It was empty. It seemed bigger. Father away.
At ten years old, this didn’t make sense to me.
I was HOME but nothing belonged to me.
I was right there, but it was all gone.
I was confused and embarrassed to have expected anything different.
I cried and cried.

And sometimes, when I’m walking around the MTC, watching all the boys and girls– the Elders and Sisters— with their black name tags and their scripture bags, their big nervous hearts, I try so hard to feel at home. To feel that I love this and I know this and I’m back and I belong. But that’s not who I am anymore. That doesn’t belong to me anymore. Sometimes, I can barely remember Sister Brown. She is all around me and yet she is not my life now. And really, that’s okay. I didn’t expect for the curtains to stay on the windows this time. The problem, even then at ten years old, was not that my old home was gone, so much that my new home was yet to be found. Seeing that there is no place in the past for me only emphasized what I had been ignoring: that I must go forward and find somewhere new to belong. At ten, this was terrifying. I didn’t want to belong anywhere else. Now, nearly 15 years later, I would love to belong somewhere besides full-time missionary work. I am excited and willing and open to this idea of somewhere else.

And yet, it is scary to know that everything behind me has been painted white and re-inhabited by strangers. Until this new home comes to light, I am floating, with what’s left of my torn-up roots scraggling along beneath me. But roots aren’t meant to float around exposed. Their work is meant to be concealed, deep underground, as they dig and hold steady to whatever they can find, spreading out for stability. Branches and leaves are blown in the wind, but roots find something more solid, more safe, and more steady. Especially my roots, because everything else about me is an emotional blow-around-in-the-wind mess. In short, I’m not crying in the mini-van this time, riding towards the scary unknown. I’m driving. I’m going willingly. I have lots of safety and stability and steadiness in the man next to me. I have big faith in the future. But still, it is disorienting and unnatural to drag one’s roots around every day. I am ready for some solid ground I can belong to for a while. Not only solid ground in God or solid ground in my husband, but real, squidge-your-feet-in-the-dirt solid ground. A place. A city. A home.
Texas, here we come.

UT.tree

University of Texas from Wooldridge Hill

Realization

Let me tell you about something that happened to me two weeks ago.
Before I start though, you might need a little background story.

First of all, I’m what people call: a Mormon. It’s one of the best things about me. It means I belong to a church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What most people don’t know about this Church is that it is actually the original church of Jesus Christ, which was lost for a while, but has been restored in our day, for people like us. You can find that out for yourself if you want, which I would highly encourage, because it will extend your heart into more than you ever thought your heart could become, and suddenly, life will make more sense, and you will know exactly what to do. You can’t fully experience that just by reading a blog, so I won’t try to make that happen right now, but you could start here.

Okay, so because this church is the same organization that existed in the beginning, it is run completely on revelation. That means we receive direction from God about what we should do. Anyone can do this in their own personal life. You can pray about individual things like, Where should I move? How can I be more patient? Who can I trust? God will send you answers in whatever way is best for you—a feeling, an experience, a friend– and then you can make the best choice based on what he sends you. Our church also receives revelation about what we should do as a group. This means we pray about who should be asked to do what at church. Who should teach the little kids? Who should help the unemployed people find jobs? Who should speak in church this Sunday? Who should regularly visit the elderly woman on Brawley School Road and make sure she has a friend? These responsibilities are called callings. Sometimes you get a calling because it will help other people. Sometimes because it will help you. And sometimes, usually, because it will help them and you. One of the main people that pray about these group choices, like who should do what calling, is called the Bishop. And recently, the Bishop asked me to fulfill a really big calling at church.

This is the part where I stop talking about my church at large and start talking specifically about me– the personal part.

When the Bishop asked me to do this big thing… when he told me that my full name came into his mind at while he prayed and that he received definite confirmation that this responsibility was for me… I found myself feeling surprised. In my mind, I thought something like this, “Really? I didn’t know I could still do significant things like that.”

Before that moment, I didn’t consciously recognize that I’d doubted my own significance, but I did doubt my own significance! I must have or else I wouldn’t have thought that. I don’t know when it started, but somewhere along the way I had started thinking that I was no longer on God’s list of people he could trust with significant tasks.

In the years before my mission, I remember feeling so empowered. I knew God was aware of me. I knew He knew my name because I could feel Him sending me to different people who needed someone like me. Someone like me, who believed in herself and had great faith in what was to come. Someone like me, who was capable of doing difficult things, things beyond her understanding, because she knew how to ask God for help. On my mission I felt the same way. God trusted me to help other people find Him and learn to rely on Him. God sent me to help other missionaries. He sent me to love people who were difficult to love. He sent me to do what I didn’t know how to do and was not capable of doing, because He knew I would seek Him out and receive His help.

Then I came home from my mission.

Then I found myself trying to be a daughter or a sister who didn’t get impatient or prideful or rude. Shouldn’t that be easy? I found myself struggling to manage my time well. Didn’t I learn how to do that already? I found myself to be pretty lame at doing the wife stuff I was probably supposed to be doing—cooking and keeping things clean and being pleasant all the time. I found myself batting with depression. (Again?) Again. I found myself with so many weaknesses. So many simple everyday tasks I couldn’t seem to do well. So many expectations I couldn’t seem to meet fully. I felt so… insignificant. For a while I was confused, Is this really the former Sister Brown? The former Lyndsi Shae? Is this really what I have become? I felt so anti-climactic. And so slowly, all that big-deal stuff, that helping-other-people-feel-loved and having-something-great-to-offer-the-world stuff, started to fall under the category of former-stuff.” Those were things I just didn’t seem to be capable of anymore. I felt like I was nothing that special anymore, just, average. I felt like that’s just the way it was going to be from now on, or at least for a while, and that I should find a way to be okay with that.

And just like that I stunted my growth. I shrank. I receded.
And I didn’t even know it.

I didn’t even know it until the Bishop was saying that God wants me to do this big thing and my mind responded with “Really? I didn’t know I could still do significant things like that.”

And the thing is, of course I can’t do this big thing the Bishop asked me to do. Not by myself. That’s not the point because God will help me do it. The point is that I’m still on God’s list of people He helps, but even better, I’m still on His list of people He can trust.

And since then, I just can’t believe the change I feel in myself. I am not so heavy with deception. I am hopeful. I am believing. I am prepared.

Since then I feel like I was capable of significant things all along—I was just deceived into thinking otherwise. I was deceived into shrinking and receding because I thought I was insignificant. I believe that if you feel this way, you are being deceived too, and that you can, as my Mamaw says “cut yourself loose.” You can ask God to help you get free. And I just know if you are sincerely ready to act on what he sends you, it will work.