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

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.

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.

Quote

To-do lists and an experience with revelation.

I’m going to tell you about my day today.
Today I sat down to write about my mindset right now, a mindset which seemed just fine to me.
I wrote out my thoughts in the black text you’ll see below.

Then I remembered a speech by someone I love. His name is Dieter. He is a humble man from Germany and he has been called by God to speak to the world. We call these men prophets, seers, and revelators. I know their words are not just wise opinions they’re kind enough to share– but messages inspired of God. I know my father in heaven  helps them know what to say. I know because just after I expressed my thoughts here on this post, I felt prompted to read this speech I haven’t read in a while. And I saw, point by point, how powerful and personally applicable the words of God are as they come from these men. Here is some evidence of that. I’ve copy/pasted his counsel inside of what I originally wrote. Notice how his words, quoted in green, have the power to interrupt my course and steer me toward the truth. I’ll start out with some of his introduction.

“One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.

…When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be. [But] there comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.

…My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.” –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

(Here’s where I come in…)

Today I sat waiting for my meeting to start at work.
I pulled out my notebook and made of list of things I need to do.
It filled the whole page. That’s okay. It tends to do that lately.
Then I do what I do every other day,

I categorized each thing into its purpose:
WEDDING
CHURCH
WORK
HELP MY FRIENDS
SCHOOL

“Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.” 

Then I made myself a deadline for each thing.
And micro-managed that list down to the wire until another week was planned hour by hour.
Literally. Every hour.
With all this you would think I’d never be behind on anything!
I am. I’m pretty behind in all things.
But that’s okay. I’ll just keep catchin up til it works. That’s what I do these days.

“I just have so many catgories in my life right now, and I’m trying to be AWESOME in all of them,” I said to my English Professor.

“Ah, and therein lies the danger,” she said.

Oh to be an english professor. To be a woman in hip business casual with a vocabulary that would knock your socks off. To be articulate and wise and spend time in the profession of pondering and articulating.

I daydream about all of the grandeur of her industry, if you could call it an industry. I wonder how she is a Mom of her 3 year old daughter and a wife and a professor. I wonder if she reads beautiful things to her daughter. I wonder what kind of statements she will make in her next publication. I am filled with hope and inspiration and thin nostalgic dreams. And then I come back to reality. There on the sidewalk next to her. With my paper still one day late and my thesis still weak and scraggly. Oh. Oh, real life.

There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions…The reason we return to these foundational principles [of the gospel of Jesus Christ], to the pure doctrines, is because they are the gateway to truths of profound meaning. They are the door to experiences of sublime importance that would otherwise be beyond our capacity to comprehend. –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

She’s right you know.
Therein lies the danger.

I know. But that doesn’t mean I can give up.
So I’ll just make my list, scope out a computer in the library, and sit down to my homework til its time to see my Ken and teach those missionaries. Today is homework day. SCHOOL CATEGORY. Time to profess my desire to educate myself. In the mean time, I’ve got Pandora flowin through my ears and faith stretchin my mind. And of course, ibuprofen. I can do this.

Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most. –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I see. My list is helpful. My list gives me direction. But my list should not define my identity or shape my priorities. I  know that, and yet I miss the point day after day. I know these man speak for God because time and time again I feel their words are personalized specifically for me. And yet they speak to the whole world. These are not general, vague messages of peace and goodness for the masses. These are direct, applicable, words just for me. God is out there and he is leading a church. There are still prophets and seers today. They are following him. So will I.

Click here to read the rest of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s speech, Of Things That Matter Most.

Click here to see a list of worldwide conferences. Men and women called of God, like Elder Uchtdorf, prepare for these conferences by asking God to reveal what message they should share with the world. They speak according to His will. Every year I listen to these conferences with a list of personal questions. Every year I receive answers just for me. I know they’re from God, and I know he’ll reveal answers to you too. Go read! Let them be revealed to you.

Attempt.

Me in this computer lab… with the book I will soon write a paper on!

Hey.

Hey hey it’s Lyndsi Shae.

Remember how my voicemail used to say that?
Remember how I used to be Lyndsi Shae?

Who am I now?

I am a missionary returned. I am a student. I am a fiance. I am a friend. I am a procrastinator. I am not a good wedding planner. I am somehow back to degrading myself constantly. I am thinking that’s gotta stop.

You know what I thought on my walk to school today?

I thought, I’m getting married in a month. And it was exciting.
Instead of stressful.

I thought of me and Ken.
Instead of table cloths and deadlines and how to match suits.

I felt happy instead of inadequate. That was nice.

This mornin I woke up and our neighbors were having a yard sale. Like right there in our yard. I washed my face and put on a sweatshirt and went to pursue the plunder. I selected my loot with ease: a dusty old plastic drawer organizer– this should do til we get a dresser… some ceramic green bowls and plates… and another copy of The Secret Life of Bees. That’ll be $6.25. Score. I paid in cash cause I’m so rich.

I forgot how much I loved yard sales. My Mom went through a phase where she loved yard sales. Once she came home with a shirt for me. The whole thing was covered in clouds and a blue sky. And the front had a smiley face. It was 75 cents. I wore that thing to death. Best shirt of my life. I loved it.

What do I love now?

I love sittin with Ken on our porch.
I love avocados and tomatoes.
Especially right when you cut open their squishy colors.

I love my missionaries at the MTC and how they pray for me and their future people in St. Louis Missouri. I love when I can see their minds churnin for the answers and their hearts building faith that God will, in fact, communicate those answers to them. I love shouting and jumping and scribbling on the white board and just letting my soul loose in there. Because in there I am Sister Brown and Lyndsi Shae at the same time. And that feels like home.

Where is my home?

It’s wherever my Ken goes. I know he’ll take me with him. When I say that, my pride and self-congratulating strength says Don’t be so dependent. You don’t need anyone to take you with them.


But did you know that this is the best feeling of my life?

The feeling that I don’t have to rely just on myself, even if I am strong enough to do so. The feeling that we will always be together now. We will be in this house with a couch on the porch and the neighbors sellin their junk in the front yard. We will be asking if the other one is hungry yet. We will be studying and writing papers and working and growing and believing together. And I get to have that.
I just get to have it.

Can you believe that?

And when I don’t believe it, when my pride invades us, he will say something like I know you’re used to taking care of yourself, and I love that you are your own woman, and I want you to remember you don’t have to do that anymore. I hope you will let me help you. I hope you will trust me. And then I remember, oh yeah,  time to lay my old weapons down. I’m safe, remember? Oh yeah. This is my home.

Guess what I’m doing right now?

I am writing.

Word word word word word word word word.

Just the click of this keyboard is satisfying.

And I’m not real sure if I know how to say what I really want to say.Or how attached I am to the words coming out of me. But for now, the purpose is to just let them come out.

To hear them.
To free them.
To get to know them.

I am recommitting myself. To this.