Chapter 1 Part 2

MASTERFUL PLANS

MY PLANS, that is not my life anymore!

NOT MY PLANS, BUT GOD’S PLANS.

After my 30th birthday, I promised myself that I would attempt to become Momma. That birthday came way too fast. So, on my 30th birthday, I partied like it was the last time I would ever party. I invited every single one of my friends out to the Illinois state fair. A Michael Jackson impersonator serenaded us that night and we drank a lot of beer, ate a few corn dogs, and hit up the bars late that night. That birthday was filled with a few of my favorite things: dancing, singing, eating, and laughing. A yellow cab ride home ended that night and I woke up the next day with an inability to remember much.

Although I could not remember much of the night, I did remember the graceful awakening and the timeline I had set to become Momma. A few weeks later, Brian and I went to see a fertility specialist. On appointment day I woke up so excited to see what becoming momma would entail. Thrilled about the future, we told our life group about our appointment with the fertility specialist. Our life group was a group of people we had just met through our church. We had recently joined the group and did not know many of them intimately, but we shared our journey openly. They prayed, encouraged, and loved us through the unknown.

We confided in our life group about what God was doing in our lives. God was calling us to have children. It was not easy to share our story with a group of people we did not know; especially, a group of “church” people, but we shared.

Brian and I had been through some stuff. Our stories were two stories that were long, chaotic, painful, and messy. Our stories were just emerging from their cocoons. It was not easy to explain our life to a general audience; therefore, we gave them enough pieces to hear what we were walking through at that time. Then we relied on God to fill in the gaps.

Brian and I had been married for about two years at this time in our lives. When we first really hanging out in 2006, I was pregnant with twins. I was on bed rest at the hospital where I worked. Brian would come by to check on me with all my other work buddies. I was big and pregnant and for a total of eight weeks I was told by the physicians to stay off my feet. I did as I was told, but in the end my babies died.

My body could not handle the stress of the divorce I was going through, the stress of the financial instability that was in front of me, and the stress of wondering how I would ever parent two babies alone.

I still sometimes wonder if I would have stayed in my first marriage, as unhealthy as it was, if my babies would still be alive. With that being said, God’s provision for our lives is more than we could ever imagine. I know that the things I often wonder about are not meant for me to beat myself up over. But, I am human and I do often wonder.

At the same time, I believe, that God makes good things happen through the hardest seasons we endure. Brian was the first person I called when I found out my daughters were dead in my womb. He was also an answered prayer of a righteous woman, a lady named Marge. Marge never knew me, but prayed for me to not be alone through the grief I would endure through the death of my daughters. Brian stood by me at my babies’ funeral. He loved me faithfully. In the midst of my tragic life, he could have ran, but instead he embraced. He was an answered prayer. 

EMBRACING LIFE AFTER TRAGEDY

This is where I spill a bit too much information, but you are now one of my best friends so just listen and enjoy this funny, embarrassing, and awkward story of embracing life.

Brian has a vasectomy. Many years ago, prior to our dating life, Brian had a vasectomy. Consequently we started this Becoming Momma journey at the only place I knew that dealt with vasectomies. I guess I assumed there was no other way to become Momma. I thought the first step to Becoming Momma was at a fertility clinic. 

Brian’s vasectomy had to be reversed. This was on my agenda. This was my plan. If God wanted us to have a baby then a reversal was the only way it was going to happen. That is what I thought anyways. I had an unrealistic expectation of what a fertility doctor appointment looked like. In my unrealistic expectation of our first fertility doctor appointment, I was going to walk out of that clinic pregnant. The appointment day was going to be the day of conception. One week after my 30th birthday was the day I was going to become Momma. 

Do you ever have unrealistic expectations? Have you ever thought that you would be handed a gift? A gift that you thought would be the joy at the end of a tragic story? I thought that the fertility clinic was the answer. I thought “appointment day” would be a nicely wrapped gift with a big bow on top. I thought the fertility clinic was God’s gift to me. I just knew that the fertility clinic had to be part of God’s plans. Why else would I be there?

In my fantasy land of unrealistic expectations, I would be birthing a baby in just a short nine months after “appointment day.” The fertility specialist, this doctor I was about to go see, was going to put my calling into place. Becoming Momma was fully embraced and there was no turning back. I was ready, God just had to show up

APPOINTMENT DAY

Any appointment makes me anxious, but I was ready for this fertility clinic appointment. I had been waiting to become Momma for far too long since the death of my babies. I did my hair and make-up, picked out my outfit, and took a deep breath. I felt as if I was going to an interview.

As I ironed my favorite pair of beige flowy pants, I smiled because it felt like a joyous occasion. I paired my favorite beige pants with a flowy yellow top. The outfit felt just right. As I did a little side step and a little cupid shuffle to my jewelry box, I was feeling good. I found the perfect piece of jewelry to finish off my polished look for the day I was to become Momma. I was ready. I bent down to pet Dash’s head, I pointed to his cage stating, “go to your cage…” On one command he went to his cage. “I am gonna be a good momma,” I thought. Then I grabbed my purse; and walked out the front door with pure confidence.

Pure confidence is a battle. I walked out the front door and the humidity hit me like a gut punch. Have you ever gotten punched by the humidity? I got punched right in my face by the Illinois humidity as it tried to zap my confidence. The hot August temperatures tried to steal my joy. The humidity took my breath away while melting my make-up off my face. I rolled my eyes and said a few words under my breath.

But, like I always do, I remained faithful in the face of “gut-punching”. I pushed forward through the heat, through the confidence blow, through my make-up running off my face, and through the negative thoughts running through my head. I could not let a little rejection leave me feeling unable to follow God’s will in my life. I put my head down as if I was a bull and pushed forward. The adventure of Becoming Momma was well on its way.

Life likes to punch people in the face. Like a hot August Illinois day, life shows up and tries to zap our confidence and joy in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes the zap of confidence and joy is a sign that we might be on the wrong track. At other times the zap of confidence and joy is a sign that we are on the right track.

On appointment day, I walked out of my home ready to become Momma and my hair flattened, my armpits sweat, and I was no longer ready for my journey. My cute outfit was no longer cute and my make-up was no longer in its right place. The air conditioner in my blue fully loaded Nissan Altima could not keep up as the sun beat down through the sunroof. The leather seats burnt my legs; and I felt pure rejection.

But, I stuck my face close to the air vents and became dog-like as my hair blew backwards while I drove to the fertility clinic. I met Brian in the parking garage which eased my mind and we walked in side by side. There weren’t many words said as we walked in sync. My stomach hurt, but I kept moving forward.

The greeter smiled at us, the receptionist eased my nerves, and we made it to appointment day. Filling out the paperwork, we waited patiently to be called back. Like little school children on the playground waiting to be chosen, we sat. A nurse came through the clinic door. “Brian…” she stated, “you are next.” We got up and followed her back to the examining room. Upon reaching the room she had us sit in two chairs lined against the wall. Again like little school children on the playground waiting to be chosen, we sat. She took Brian’s blood pressure and wrote a few notes. She turned around as she left and said, “the doctor will be in.” 

Our future was unknown as we waited once again. Nervous improv was being done between Brian and I. Improv is our favorite thing to do as we pass the time. Then there was a knock, “come in,” we chimed together. Two men walked in. “This is my student. Do you mind if he observes?” the doctor asked. Of course it is, I thought. “That’s not a problem,” Brian responded out loud before I could say um no. Brian and I, still sitting in the two chairs lined against the wall, looked at the two men. It was all awkward. We were there to get my husband’s man parts checked. And the energy in the room was uncomfortable. There were no jokes, there was no eye contact, and there was no small talk. 

“Would you like me to sit on the table?” Brian broke the silence. Trying to break the awkwardness, he pointed to the examining table. “No, you are fine where you are,” the doctor mumbled. Both doctors must have known we were there for a reversal consultation because neither of them asked the question as to why we were there. Sitting down in a short rotating stool the supervising doctor wheeled himself over to us quickly like a cat pouncing on a mouse. 

With his head down looking over his glasses without hesitation he said to Brian, “Stand up…” Brian stood up. My eyes got really wide. “Pull down your pants…” Brian pulled down his pants. Had I just entered an awkward game of Simon Says, I thought to myself. Placing both of his hands between my husband’s legs, the doctor said, “DAAAANG!”

Just kidding… he did not say DAAAANG! But he did feel around for several minutes while explaining to the student what he was doing. The student looked intently at what the doctor was doing. I could not handle the ball of laughter that was about to explode from my gut. But then he was done; and I managed to keep my laughter to myself.

“Bring me $12,000 dollars and I can get this done for you,” the doctor said. “Ummm what?” I stated out loud as I looked at him intensely. The doctor repeated himself (matter of factly) as if I did not hear him, “$12,000, I can reverse him, and you can have a baby.” He looked at me foolishly. I jumped out of my chair.

Not really but I felt like fighting. Say what? I thought, I ain’t no school-girl. I looked back at him with a non-school girl look as my lovely attitude shined. I spoke firmly as the questions poured out. Looking directly at this physician who pridefully played God when he directed us to bring him $12,000 to make us a baby. I squinted my eyes as I overwhelmed him with question after question.

“Wait a minute…what are the chances of pregnancy with reversal?”

“What if we decided not to reverse? Are there other ways?”

“What does the $12,000 include?”

“Is the surgery the only thing that is included in the $12,000 dollars?”

“What if there is no baby after the reversal?”

“Is there some sort of guarantee with this procedure?”

I felt like I was at a car dealership; and what this physician did not know about me is that my daddy taught me how to deal with car salesmen. This physician acted like he was the giver of life saying, “Bring me $12,000 I will get you a baby…” Well Dr. Baby Maker (and for all Dr. Baby Maker’s out there) YOU ARE NOT GOD and WE ARE NOT INTERESTED. Show me the door. 

The truth was with the $12,000 reversal there was a 50% chance of us actually having a baby. $12,000 covered the reversal, nothing else. There was no guarantee for a baby with $12,000; however, there were other options (for more money) if the reversal did not work. Dr Baby Maker DID offer to artificially inseminate me (with my husband’s sperm); however, that would cost more money. Forbes predicts that the fertility industry will double by 2026 becoming a 41.6 billion dollar industry. I could not run out of that clinic fast enough. 

Many people build families through fertility clinics. I know many people personally who have built a family with the help of a fertility specialist, but after what I saw for the brief moment I was in a fertility clinic, I pray often for those clinics. I pray that those clinics do not prey on the emotions of women who want to become Momma. Women who feel the desire to become momma and are having trouble doing so are vulnerable. Some women would become broke to fulfill the desires in their hearts to become Momma. And I have seen it happen where a fertility specialist keeps implanting, keeps blood drawing, and keeps attempting with no baby. For me, the fertility route was too much to deal with emotionally. It cost too much money. The doctor was too prideful. And let’s be honest there was way too much groping on my husbands’ man parts for my comfort. 

We left and never returned. My heels clicked down the clinic hallway so fast. I was confident that we would not be back to that clinic for any reason. As soon as I turned the corner, I felt safe. But I was sad and I cried. I looked at Brian and said, “I am so sad,” as I kept my head held high. My beige flowy pants and yellow flowy top carried me through the corridors. But once I got to the parking lot I could not keep the tears from flowing. I opened my car door sobbing. Once I sat in my car, the tears gushed uncontrollably. For the entire ten-minute ride home. I blubbered through my prayers. “God please allow me to become Momma without my husband having surgery. God, becoming Momma is somehow part of YOUR plan for my life…so I am going to have to ask you for this to happen without my husband having surgery.” 

Blinded by the sun blazing through some trees as I turned into our driveway, I called Brian. Through my tears I talked to my husband who is gentle and kind. He has a way of making me believe everything is going to be okay. He tenderly reminded me that this was just the beginning. As he spoke, I was reminded that graceful awakenings do not just happen. They are hard life lessons. Little by little we learn the lessons we are meant to learn. My dear husband said, “let’s just do the tests the doctors ordered, then we will wait.” 

We would wait until another decision was in front of us. We would wait until the test results came back. We would wait until the doctor called and gave us the options. We would wait. This was hard to hear. “Appointment day” was the day I was supposed to become Momma. I heard what my husband said, but I was not happy about waiting (I mean who likes to wait?). I told Brian that I prayed we could have children without him having surgery. And God answered those prayers.

ANSWERED PRAYERS

Although the prayer was exactly what God had planned for our lives and in the end we had children without my husband having surgery, I was angry. I found myself angry and annoyed that I was someone that had to even step foot in a fertility clinic. I was angry that I could not have a baby with my husband. I was chagrined because I had unrealistic expectations made up in my head of God’s will for my life. My plan had turned out completely opposite of what I had expected. 

Have you ever had a plan that did not turn out the way you expected? Have you ever been angry or annoyed at something that happened in your life that you could not control? Have you ever been chagrined? Chagrined is a form of distress, anger, annoyance, or irritation that comes from an event that one sees as failure or disappointment. I felt like a failure and disappointment. I was embarrassed, disappointed, and angry because I told everyone that I believed God was calling us to have children, so I quit college (again) to follow another idea I had. I followed what I thought God wanted me to do, but that idea was not happening the way I thought it was supposed to happen.

When MY AGENDA, or MY PLAN does not happen in the time frame I think it should, I feel like a failure. When I have so many things on my plate and I forget to do one thing, I feel like a failure. When I am not as good at something that I want to be good at, I feel like a failure. When the Lord gives me a small glimpse into the future and then I exaggerate the rest of the story while daydreaming about what could happen, and then it does not happen, I feel like a failure. 

My vision board is huge. I make random future plans and try to piece it all together in a picture that is unrealistic. I attempt to tell the story the way I think it should go. Then when the things that I make up turn out exactly the opposite way I spoke of them, I feel like a failure. When I speak of things out loud and they never happen, I feel like a failure. All this failure, embarrassment, disappointment, and shame is shown on the outside as distress, anger, annoyance, and irritation. This is chagrined.

The Lord gives us bits and pieces of our future at a time and when he laid on my heart that I would become Momma, this graceful awakening irritated me. I had no idea how I would ever become Momma; therefore, I thought it would never happen. I had become this new person (someone who wanted to follow Jesus at all costs) with the same bad habits (as if I never knew Jesus). Fear ruled me. The calling to become Momma was placed and it was not until years later that it came to be. 

I had to step out in faith to do what God asked me to do. Although I could not see how Becoming Momma was going to happen, I took each step. Although in my mind the calculations of Becoming Momma were off, I allowed God to work in his timing. When we step out in faith it takes us allowing God to work in His timing. Sometimes it takes several side steps, or dance moves (money moves is what we call them in the Lundberg household) to get us back on the right path. 

When we step out in faith it is like being lost in the woods. When we turn around to go back to the path that we were on before we got lost, we are still lost. I am sure Stephen Furtick told a story similar to this in one of his sermons so I’ll give him the glory, but I too have used this analogy. We must turn around when we get lost so we can get back on the right path. Turning around because we are lost is helpful, but it is not always easy. When we do not turn around the end results could be catastrophic. Turning around is scary and it takes courage. When we turn around, we may still be lost, but at least we are headed in the right direction after we turn around. Imagine there’s one path to life, and if you do not turn around, the one path to life will get farther and farther away. 

The path to Becoming Momma was getting farther and farther away for me. In 2011, I was going back to college. I was a successful respiratory therapist and advancing in my professional life was the only thing on my mind. But this time, I decided to listen to what God was saying, although I was scared. Although turning around felt dark and lonely. Although I was on the wrong path that felt right, I turned around. When I turned around, I ran right into a fertility clinic; but there I learned quickly that I needed to continue on the path to Becoming Momma although the fertility clinic was not where I would land. 

The Bible is filled with many stories we can all learn from. Here is one. At the beginning of Jesus’ story is the story of Mary and Joseph. Mary is Jesus’ mother who was a virgin that gave birth to him (I know a virgin, seems illogical, but still it’s the story). Mary and Joseph were dating before they got married; and while they were dating Mary found out she was pregnant. Although her and Joseph never had sex, Mary was pregnant (sounds like a situation to me). It says in the Bible that Joseph was Chagrined (Matthew 1:18-19 MSG). He was embarrassed, disappointed, and ashamed, BUT remained noble. The Bible tells us that Joseph wanted to walk away (I get that because I am good at walking away), but God told Joseph to continue on the path that was laid out for him. God asked Joseph to trust Him. Joseph took each step by faith that the Lord asked of him. To the general public Joseph must have looked like a fool, but for those of us who love the Lord Joseph is just another obedient and faithful servant stepping out in faith one step at a time.

Joseph could have let fear disable him. He could have let fear wreck his ability to hear from the Lord, but he did not. Joseph let God lead every graceful awakening, every hard life lesson, while he followed even when things were unexplainable. Even when things seem unrealistic and even when things seem like they would never work out, we must follow. The rest is always revealed to us in time. We can be redeemed from the pit of hopelessness. We can learn to live in the millisecond of the joyful moments that happen every day in our lives. We can learn so much from graceful awakenings when we turn around and say, “MY PLANS, that is not my life anymore…God do with my life what you will.”

Chapter 1 Part 1

Graceful Awakening

FEAR, that is not my life anymore!

Surrender

One night long ago, a graceful awakening happened (Before I tell you the rest of the story, I want you to know I am writing this book as if I am speaking to my best friend). Hold on tight, I am about to take you on a journey. 

One night long ago, a graceful awakening happened. Graceful awakenings are life lessons. When God speaks directly to our hearts it is a graceful awakening. The one night long ago was not the first time God was speaking directly to my heart. It was not the first lesson I ever learned about God, but it is the storyline to this book; therefore, I start with a specific story in my life that still brings me hope.

Graceful awakenings happen when we make a choice to follow God’s will for our lives. It happens when we make the choice to lay the plans we had for our lives to the side. It happens when we raise our hands and say “NOT MY LIFE ANYMORE, God. Do with my life what you will.” Graceful awakenings are life lessons and although graceful awakenings are one of life’s hardest lessons, they are beautiful moments of surrender. When we surrender our life for the life God has for us the miracles that occur are beyond our wildest dreams.

There is a process to living our best life and the process for each of us is very different. Even our hobbies have processes. One of my hobbies is playing sports. The goal an athlete makes in a soccer game is different from the goal an athlete makes in a basketball game. The goals I make will not be the goals you make. Sometimes neither of us will make the intended goal. Processes cannot happen without goals that are set. Sometimes we must change the process and try again. This is a never ending cycle; therefore, as we implement the processes of life, we must bask in the glorious moments. 

In sports, the moment we make a hardcore play, the crowd roars!!! That moment, that moment is glorious! That glorious moment does not last long. Glorious moments have a half-life of a millisecond. Scoring a goal is joyful for a millisecond. Then the process starts all over again. Getting back on the field to continue in the game is part of the process. When the process works or does not work we must learn to live in the glorious moments. 

Joy is living in the moment. Living in the moment can be living in the glorious millisecond of a process that worked or making a choice to change the process and trying again. Staying alert to know when that glorious moment comes and fighting for those glorious moments happens when we follow God’s will for our lives. We must say yes to the process and no to our plans. This is when graceful awakenings occur. Once we say yes to the process and no to our plans, we learn important life lessons.

Learning life lessons is the definition of success. With success we must say no to our plans and yes to the process. Sometimes the process does not look like great opportunities. Succeeding is saying yes to the process and no to our plans. When we say yes to the process we can find joy in it and as joy becomes evident in our lives it can then become the emotion that drives our lives.

Life becomes refined in the process. When we keep saying yes, joy begins to happen over and over again. Joy becomes our heart which can fill the positivity gap we all have. When joy becomes more and negativity becomes less the struggles become easier to handle. 

Graceful awakenings do not happen without struggles. Struggles always show up in the process. We must understand that continuing forward without struggles is a lie. Struggles are everywhere. They can show up in the negative words we play over in our heads. They can show up as a childhood memory we do not want to remember. They can show up as a question that has never been answered. No matter how the struggles show up, just know that struggles will always be there. 

Living in the glorious moments makes struggles easier. Living in the glorious moments is choosing joy when the struggles show up. The unexpected events that create struggles for those of us who like to make plans will happen, and the thoughts that create struggles for those of us who wonder how miracles could ever happen for us will happen as well. Therefore, finding joy even in the struggles is a process. 

Come with me on my journey of hope, grace, joy, pain, life lessons that stay, and struggles that come and go as we learn together to let go of the plans we had for our lives and enjoy the journey by being open to the process. Graceful awakenings that lead to life lessons through processes create struggles, joy, and hopeful moments. Through telling stories, teaching scriptures, and touting my struggles, I share WAY too much about my personal life. So get your coffee and sit back and enjoy.

Not So Glorious Moments 

The moment I knew I was to become momma was not so glorious. It was Spring 2011. It was late in the evening, right before I went to sleep. I was lying there, tucked comfortably into my bed reading a book. The book was called, Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. As I was reading the book, an overwhelming sense of Becoming Momma came over me. I want to say that the overwhelming sense of Becoming Momma came over me out of nowhere but in reality I wanted to become a momma for as long as I could remember. I always said I did not want to become a momma because I was hopeless and it was easier to say I never wanted that.

Ignoring God is easy. I am sure God had placed Becoming Momma on my heart over and over again but by this point in my life I was good at ignoring Him. I had been ignoring God for many years. This time, it was a graceful awakening that led to one of my favorite life lessons. I listened, obeyed, and responded with “NOT MY LIFE ANYMORE, God. Do with my life what you will.” I followed the process to lay my plans to the side as I followed God’s will for my life

Saying yes to God is not easy. Once we say yes to God, there is absolutely no more ignoring Him. Although I said yes to God, I had no idea what would happen next. Although Becoming Momma is now my redemption story, Becoming Momma was a 5.5 year fight. Becoming Momma was scary because I was hopeless. I was scared to step into God’s plans for my life. 

I was almost thirty and I had BIG plans for my life (without kids). My husband Brian and I were living in a tiny little house that was so cozy. It was decorated just right; and everything was in its place. It was the perfect size for our family. Our family consisted of three of us, Brian, me, and our little dog named Dash. 

The night I had this particular graceful awakening of Becoming Momma there were several things happening. My pup was stirring because of a thunderstorm, my thoughts were loud, my husband’s snoring was impressive, and my eyes were wide open. The rain beat against the bedroom windows, the lights in the room were still on, and the prayers did not stop. I was comfortable in my cozy bed, but so uncomfortable at the same time.

Graceful awakenings make us uncomfortable. They usually happen when we become comfortable, but they are the opposite of comfortable. I was comfortable laying in my bed with a man who loved me fiercely and a dog who never left my side. But as I continued reading the book, Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick, God spoke directly to my heart and that is uncomfortable. 

Becoming

“Becoming Momma?”

“Really God?”

“How would I ever become a mom anyways?”

“This is going to ruin the plans I have for my life…”

“Being a dog mom is hard enough…”

“What type of mom would I be anyways?”

“A stay at home mom?”

“Well that is impossible…”

“We cannot afford that!”

“I know nothing about being a stay-at-home mom!”

“Aren’t stay-at-home moms special???”

“No, NOT ME, I am not stay-at-home mom material…”

The thoughts kept coming and quite honestly I was pissed off. God was pretty clear this time about Becoming Momma. My soul was unsettled at the thought. But through the uncomfortableness of the process, I kept my hands raised and said, “NOT MY LIFE ANYMORE, God. Do with my life what you will.”

That night, I spoke to God all while throwing a temper tantrum. I took the book Sun Stand Still and threw it across the room. I was not happy. But somehow I murmured the words, “NOT MY LIFE ANYMORE, God. Do with my life what you will.” 

You do not have to be happy about what God is calling you to do. You do not even have to know the process that will unfold. You just have to be obedient and trust that God will show you the way. Throwing that book Sun Stand Still across the room felt good but it did not change anything. It made Dash startle and jump above the covers and it made me lay there and wonder what my life would look like as a momma. 

I laid there and stared at the ceiling fan. The blades went around and around. The cold breeze from the fan gave me chills as I cried.

“WHY???” 

I yelled at God as I shook my fists at heaven.

“I tried to become Momma over five years ago!!!!… and YOU…YOU didn’t allow that to happen!!!” I screamed.

“I don’t WANNA become MOMMA!!”

“I’M SCARED!

“I can’t stand to go through any more pain!!”

I turned to my right side and stared at the wall. My pillow was drenched from sobbing. Although my eyes were filled with tears, my heart was filled with grace as I woke up to God’s plans for my life. I reached up and turned off the lights as I drifted off to sleep. Becoming Momma was embedded so deep in my heart that there was no more running it. 

Stop Running

The next morning came quickly after a deep sleep. My day went on as planned, but the thought of Becoming Momma never left. When God lays something on our hearts we cannot run for long. Again, I tried to forget about Becoming Momma. I could run for short amounts of time, but I was unsuccessful. Our bodies are not trained to run for too long. 

I sent a few emails in the weeks that followed. God was not going to let me forget. I made a conscious decision to start embracing what was to come. Months went by and Becoming Momma became top priority. I picked up the book Sun Stand Still to finish reading it. I opened it and a little white piece of paper marked the place where I left off. It was marked on Chapter 7. A tiny 3 page chapter in the middle of Sun Stand Still, Chapter 7 was titled Tiny Babies, Giant Faith. Capturing my attention, I read the story.

The story in Chapter 7 was about a young couple who were staff members at Elevation Church. Furtick wrote about this couple who got to share the joyous news of expecting twin girls. Expecting twins is something special. I knew this feeling deeply and personally. Furtick (2010) wrote, “out of nowhere things got scary. The day that your child is born is supposed to be a day of joy…” (p. 75). I knew all too well what he was talking about. The day I was to give birth to my twins was the day things took a turn for the worse. That day in April of 2006 was supposed to be a day of joy, but it ended in a terrible tragedy. My faith died when my twins died. 

The faith the couple from Elevation church demonstrated during a painful time in their lives was honorable. Tears streamed down my face as I read Chapter 7, a tiny chapter about a momma I could relate to. She had no idea if her twins would make it home and only hope could sustain her. This story propelled me into my destiny. A couple from Elevation church found out they were having twin girls. These twins survived, but not without complications and questions. 

The pain this Elevation family shared helped me to say yes to God. If I can help one person say yes to God, it is worth every painful story shared. When we experience the pain of this world and share our testimonies it helps people. Throughout this book, I share my pain honestly and I share how I found joy eventually in the midst of the most painful moments.

Chapter 7 woke me up to the grace bestowed upon me. I could not continue to be disobedient. God had an entirely different plan for my life. I wanted to know what my life would look like on the other side of trusting God. I was not going to let fear drive my life anymore. I raised my hands once again and said “FEAR that is not my life anymore. God, do with my life what you will.”

“I will become momma.”

“Show me the way.”

Bonding While Waiting

Fifteen years ago, I found myself living at my mother’s house. WAITING. I was 23 years old and going through a divorce. I was waiting to give birth to my twin girls. I had left my ex-husband in my first trimester after I found out he was cheating. My baby girls, Brooklyn and Madalyn, were two very active babies growing fast in my belly. I had spent several weeks on bedrest at the hospital. The bill was over $54,000.00 dollars when the doctor discharged me home (to my mom’s house) to continue on bedrest.

$54,000.00 dollars in hospital bills

My normal doctor appointment, a few weeks later, proved the progress of the twins looked good. The doctor ordered me to continue on bedrest at my mom’s house. Therefore, the baby shower planning started. There was hope.

The twins and I had made it past the 28-week mark which meant survival in the twin world. I was 31 weeks along and my belly was in full bloom, so was my bum and my double chin. I was healthy and so were the twins. So, I waited….and waiting bonds us. Waiting for glue to dry bonds two objects together much like waiting for our babies to grow in our bellies bonds us to them.

While I waited, I nested, as much as one can nest while on bedrest. Their clothing was washed, and their things were well organized. But three days after my baby shower, three days after I washed all their outfits, three days after I put together the twin stroller, and three days after their crib bedding was placed, the waiting was over. I found myself in the emergency room because of cramping. I was wheeled gently to the mother-baby floor where a cold heart monitor was placed on my belly to check on Brooklyn and Madalyn.

The nurses could not find either of their heartbeats. The pace picked up. I became the emergency that night. The ultrasound was wheeled into the room and placed on my belly. All I could see on the monitor was my lifeless babies. The nurses ran around frantically trying to find a doctor to help.. A doctor I never met came in and said, “I am so sorry they are both gone.” I gave natural birth to my two still born babies that night.

My babies had died April 12, 2006. The nurses took pictures while I sat there trying to keep my head up, and while I was trying to see my babies for the first time and the last time through watery eyes.

I had hit rock bottom. The tragedy left me in total confusion, complete mayhem.

Jules Lundberg

Is there an event in your life that left you in total confusion, complete mayhem?  A tragedy that has crippled your heart and left you angry? A moment that when you think about it makes you sad, lonely, or scared? Have you ever hit rock bottom?

If so, I understand. My life became a spiraling unhealthy lifestyle of binge-drinking, negative self-talk, and tearing others down.

For many years after the loss of my twins, I lived a life of deep sorrow. I did not know how to get myself out of the sadness and pain I experienced.

But God did. And now fifteen years later God has shown me the part of His story that I never imagined. Through the grieving process, I learned how to use exercise as a stress relief instead of smoking and drinking. And if that ain’t a miracle, I got to quit my job to be a stay-at-home momma, I am writing a book, and I am in graduate school to become a counselor. God keeps showing up!

Christmas Eve 2014.

The Christmas I became a teetotaler.

God has used my passion to write, speak, and counsel. On my twins’ birthday almost every year for the past 6 years, I get to tell their story. On Monday, April 12, 2021, I will be speaking to the women at Sojourn in Springfield IL about a Survivor’s Guide to Self-Care and Coping Skills. Tragic events threaten to bring us down, but we are Survivors. I have used my story of trauma, shame, and tragedy to bring hope to others; and my hope is that through telling my story once more time that I have brought you hope. If you have ever been through a tragic event, you are not alone.

I am rooting for you!!

Madalyn and Brooklyn 2006 St John’s Hospital

If my story has ever brought you hope, please comment below.

Ask for Forgiveness, Turn Away from Old Ways, and Remember Children are Watching Us!

When we ask for forgiveness we must repent which means to turn away from the very thing we are sorry for… When we feel sorry for something we have done, we should continue to turn away from it until it is no longer a part of our lives. This takes time, but eventually we will find ourselves doing the things we do not like to do less; and one day, when we least expect it, we will wake up a little more mature.

Asking for forgiveness is mature, but what happens when we are waiting for a true “I am sorry” from someone who has wronged us?  Well, the answer is I don’t know!! But I write this blog to remind ourselves of one IMPORTANT truth…

Children are Watching Us!

Jules

Everything we do and everything we say, the next generation of children are listening and watching. They become us. My children are adopted and the things they do and say ARE ME! They are little sarcastic communicators with a slice of humor. Sometimes they run from the things that are me… like yelling. My son who recently turned 18 on March 14th told me that he really cannot focus when I yell at him; therefore, I have tried so hard to yell less. To repent and turn away from yelling is hard and to ask for forgiveness when I do yell is harder.

Although our kids learn so much from us, we cannot take any glory for who they become. They are going to become who they are meant to be. They learn from us, yes, but they have choices too. We need to be mindful of what we are teaching them in the everyday moments. We are all so afraid of Big Brother, Alexa, or our iPhone listening to us or watching us, but are we afraid of the next generation of children listening to and watching everything we do?

We are the people who go before us. We spend our lives mimicking the older generation, but sometimes we spend our lives running so far away from everything that was our upbringing. What are your children doing? Are they mimicking you or running from everything that is you?

Last night my son called me at 11:18 at night when I was dead asleep.  “Hey mom you sleeping?” he said. “Ya, honey. What’s up?” I said.. “Ummm, well my friend is having a really hard time…” he said as I assumed he was going to ask to stay out later. Then I remembered I had already told him that he could stay overnight with his friend; therefore, I said “Ohh…tell me more…” He said, “Mom can you talk to him? He needs some advice…”

THEY ARE WATCHING US, listening to us, and hearing us EVEN if we do not believe it. 

Are we showing our children how to connect or disconnect from us, friends, and the world? Are we showing them that they are always right and never needing forgiveness? Are we showing them how to ask for forgiveness and how to forgive?

Forgiveness does not happen one time. It happens over and over again while we are in relationship with each other. Forgiveness does not happen while we are mindlessly saying, “I’m sorry I offended you!” Forgiveness happens when we are truly sorry for hurting others and truly turn away from our old ways.

Unusual, but Truthful. Today is Tuesday.

This week’s Tuesday Truth is about relationship communication. Well, shit. I sit here in front of my computer (this was on Sunday) not communicating anything but nonverbal communication to my husband. According to Doyle (2020) over 65% of communication is nonverbal. Non-verbal communication is like talking in a foreign language to a lot of people. For me, non-verbal communication is my first language. When someone is responding to me non-verbally especially when they are hurt, I try so hard to attend to them, but my husband does not.

Brian and I have been together for 15 years March 17th and him and I have had very few arguments over the course of 15 years. But, of course, this week, the week I am supposed to share with all of you about relationship communication, I sit here NOT SPEAKING TO HIM.

Today (Sunday the day I wrote this blog) I have no words for him. This is rare. I called a friend to complain about my husband. This is also rare. Now, the only advice I have to give you is to find some friends who will not judge you for these relationship communication mishaps and share your struggles.

Believe it! We all go through struggles no matter how good things are, we struggle.

Jules

When we struggle, what usually happens is that Brian and I both shrug our shoulders to our communication mishap and say “I am sorry” which concludes with forgiving each other instantly much too often. I am not saying this is wrong, but when we are in a relationship that shows grace after grace after grace we can come to a spot in our relationships where things build up. When this happens, we must remember that things are not going to be ruined if we talk to a trusted friend about the hardships in our relationships.

Although I felt completely vulnerable since my friend knew on Sunday that me and my husband were currently not seeing eye to eye, I now know that Brian and I’s relationship is not going to wither into pieces just because there were some things that we needed to talk about. In fact, Brian’s and I’s relationship is stronger because of this communication failure, because I reached out to a trusted friend, and because I actually took the advice she provided.

Jules and Brian at her sisters wedding

She advised me to make a list of what I wanted to say to him. I did not want to talk to him, but I listened to her. If your relationship has a foundation of love, kindness, acceptance, and grace and there comes a time to talk about the things that hurt within the relationship, it feels gross. Like, dang, our relationship is good, why am I struggling at this moment? But what would be more worrisome is if mine and Brian’s relationship was unable to withstand the fiery furnace of calling each other out. This is how we grow and growing is painful.

Tuesday Challenge:

I was going to get on here this week and talk about Emmerson Eggerichs Love and Respect book and all the wonderful things I learned about relationship communication from this book. Above is the hyperlink check it out.

But, today, I decided you needed to hear the raw of a good relationship. A relationship I have with a man who adores me and whom I adore. I thought you needed to hear the real of a relationship communication mishap that did not tear us apart. I thought maybe you needed to hear about the broken yet beautiful side of relationship communication.

Sunday, when I wrote this, I challenged myself to make bullet points (advice from that trusted friend) to communicate with my husband about all the hurts I was feeling. When it came down to talk time, we had a civil conversation and got some things accomplished. Today, our relationship is back to normal and GUESS WHAT? It is probably stronger. When we are open and honest relationships become stronger. For this, I am proud of us. I now challenge you to make some bullet points the next time you feel unheard. I challenge you to not just keep it in. That shit ruins your relationships.

This message is endorsed by Jules Lundberg. I am not a licensed therapist, but I am being trained to become one. These are all my idea and thoughts and the articles within are given to you as another perspective.

Self Care and Coping Skills: Which is which and does it matter?

Sometimes we mistake self-care with our coping skills. According to Morin (2020) coping skills help us tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations in life. We need coping skills, but we also need self care. Self-care is proactive and coping skills is reactive. The link above gives us a list of healthy versus unhealthy coping skills. Coping skills is something we do automatically when we respond to stressful moments (or perceived stressful moments). They become something we do without thinking. Our. coping skills move to the top of the list during stressful times

Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health (google dictionary, 2020). Self care is simply the practice of taking an active role in protecting our well-being. Self care is a healthy active practice. We all need self-care in these stressful pandemic times, but we run to our coping skills instead because we cope without thought. Self care gets pushed to the bottom of the list during stressful times

In order to understand the difference between self-care and coping skills, we must ask ourselves: What are the reasons I am doing what I do? Sometimes I clean my house to cope and this can be a healthy coping skill, as long as I don’t assume others need a clean house to cope as well. Sometimes I clean my house because it helps me implement self care later in the week.

The beauty of life is that each and everyone of us get to choose what we will do for self care.

Jules Lundberg

I no longer clean my house for self care because I have found other things I like to do like blogging, running, exercising, eating a delicious meal with my husband, having a deep conversation on the phone with one of the many inspirational women in my life, taking my dog for a walk, sitting on the back porch, enjoying a cup of coffee. Being mindful in being proactive to choose self care before the automatic unhealthy coping skills take over is so hard.

Jules blogging for self care

Lundberg Tuesday Challenge: Write a list of your coping skills. You can use the hyperlink to get ideas of healthy vs unhealthy coping skills. Then use that list to mindfully write down a few things already do or could do for self care. Remember we do not want to use our coping skills for self care.

Move the self care items to the top of of the list, the healthy coping skills next, and the unhealthy coping skills to the bottom of the list. Then, when our unhealthy coping skills become automatic we will have a list to help us until we become mindful to practice self care.

This message is endorsed by Jules Lundberg. I am not a licensed therapist, but one day by the grace of God I will be. These are my ideas and thoughts and they are subject to change.

Tuesday Truths Column

I am hoping to find some time to rebuild this blog site starting with a Tuesday Truth column.

Drop a comment about what you would like to hear me talk about. My everyday lifestyle of raising 5 boys, the last 8 years, the 4 most memorable Aprils, the next 11 years, raising 5 boys during a pandemic while in grad school, my journey to finding myself, an airplane ride home from Vegas, mental health, a dog named Frank, my everyday emotions in the here and now, white privilege and my acculturation process in the African American community, communication styles and techniques, therapeutic writing and journaling, in Heaven’s Rocking Chair devotional, friends who are my key to success, my loud obnoxious German- Catholic upbringing, sisterhood, motherhood, grief grief and more grief, love and laughter, my awesome husband, my anxiety, or how I stay sane through it all.

Tell me what you would like to hear, follow my blog, and stay tuned.

In Heaven’s Rocking Chair

Lord why is their death in our dreams?  The kind of death that makes our mascara run and heart ache so deep?  Why is death so painful?

Lord rock me as I figure out my new dreams that look a lot like my old dreams.

My old dream died, why are these new dreams resembling and bringing back memories of pain.

Just like the reality of my children dying that had me never wanting children.  Dead dreams.

And the existence of these dead dreams had me never wanting to dream again.

Lord hold me, dead dreams are stealing my joy.

So many questions of why?

So many questions as to why you choose me to walk the path that I have walked.

Why have my children died?  Why have my dreams died?

Why after death is their restoration of a completely new life? What if I wanted my old life?

Why do I have 9 children now after I lost 2?  Why do you restore a hundredfold? (Matthew 19:29 ESV).

I thought the Bible said you restored tenfold, so I looked it up and You say that you restore a hundredfold.  I thought my restoration was done, but apparently you have other plans.

“Notmylifeanymore” I murmur under my breath.  Why do you take things from me?  It reminds me of my white board of the things that my children are grounded from until twenty-four hours later. 

I need to be childlike and take back what you are giving me with complete confidence knowing it is mine.  Like this counseling degree…

Daddy God, you took this dream away.  Why do I find myself applying for my master’s in psychology when you clearly called me away from that dream to foster children and become a stay a home momma?

Why do old dreams come back around to remind us of the pain of walking through death?

Rock me as I curl up in your arms and verbally process all of this.  Let me grieve as you reprieve me from what I deserve.  I do not deserve this opportunity.  

I was confident about being a mother until you took my babies away.

I was confident about being a counselor until you took my dream away.

I was mad at you for a long time.

Why do you take away then give back?

You are the true representation of what a parent is.  I have no other choice then to crawl up in your lap and rely on you, what about those children who have no parents to rely on?

Help me to love my kids like you love me.

Remind me that no matter how old they are, they can snuggle in my rocking chair and share their dreams with me as I help them to look to you as you unfold their lives, but more importantly their little hearts’ dreams.

Father brush my hair off my face as you use every annoyance I ever had.  Remind me that the opposite of annoyance is joy.  Joy in the opposite of annoyance.

Help me to be joyful and not annoyed with you, with my husband, with my kids, and with my family and friends.

Lord I am going to get down from you lap now un-annoyed, unafraid, and un-offended as I step into a dream that has been hidden in my heart for many years.