Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is My Son Next?

I remember as a kid knowing that if there was ever a fire, my dad, or someone like my dad, would save me. And just as surely as I believed that firemen would rescue me, I had the surest of faith in policemen. 

But while I know that I can have faith in many, there is the ugly horrific truth that I cannot have faith in all. 

We grow up believing that these men are heroes. That they protect us from harm. And they do. They risk their lives for us daily. They work tireless hours. They sacrifice holidays, school plays, children's basketball games, and tucking their children in all so I can lay my head safely on my pillow at night.

But just as one drop of food coloring can change a glass of water, the decisions of a few have brought out my greatest fear- not the fear of criminals, but of police. And not my fear of what they could do to me, but of what they would do to my son. 

I remember vividly watching the Trayvon Martin news in a hotel room with my mom and husband. I remember fearing what the world would be like if and when I ever had a son. 

But that fear has never been so real until I held my son in my arms and had to begin making a mental list of all the things I have to tell him when he becomes a teenager. 

When you go into a store in the winter, take your hood off. 

Never reach into your pockets or keep your hands there.

If you are walking through a neighborhood on your way home, keep your phone in your hand, so in case it rings you don't have to reach for it. 

If you get accused of something that you HONESTLY didn't do, let them arrest you. Because of how you look, you are already a suspect, and it's better to be arrested than dead. 

Whether this list right or wrong, these are the truths I have to tell my son along with a laundry list of other realities that only my husband as a black male can know and understand. 

I wish I could stop here. I wish I could reference one case and just let my fear be unjustified...but it's not and I can't. Because just last week when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered in the park, I yet again had to realize that someday, that could be my son. 

My husband had a toy pellet gun just like Tamir's in college. Just like it.

What if we had kept it? What if it made its way to the back of the closet and my curious 12-year-old son found it? And thinking he was cool like the people he sees on TV broke off the orange cap and headed to the park to shoot some birds? All while I'm thinking he is going to play? 

And what if out of a split second decision someone, a policeman, shot him thinking he was armed with a real weapon? 

And the worst part is- What if the policeman who shot my son then lets him lay there? Never trying to help him after realizing it was just a toy and that my son was not a criminal but just a boy making a bad, yet now fatal decision. 


I want to stop here. I want these to be the only instances in which I'm afraid. But just as I said before, they aren't, and I can't. 

What happens when my son gets arrested because someone thinks they saw him do something? And what if my son who knows right and wrong, who loves and fears the Lord, and has been warned by his mother and father to just listen to the police EVEN if they are wrong- what if my son doesn't fight back but tries to move away from their arrest? What if he stands up for himself because he IS innocent?

Do they choke him? Using a move that is illegal?

What happens when he pleads he can't breathe-over and over again?

What happens after he's breathed his last?

And person who killed him doesn't try to bring him back? Doesn't try frantically to save him but let's him lay there? 


I don't just have to fear for that moment when my son has to say, "My hands are up, don't shoot!" I have to fear so much more than that. 

And I have to face all of that in the eyes of an ugly and hateful society- one that says my fears are unjustified, one that says he should just go with being wrongly mistreated so "something terrible"-like his MURDER- doesn't happen to him.

But even though I have these fears, and even though the reality is that I have to wonder "Is my son next," I have hope. The only hope I can have- Jesus. He is my source of peace and comfort that I have as I lay my son in his crib night crying and praying that things will be different for him in the future. He is where I put my hope that someday, maybe someday, I won't have to wonder if my son is next.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A B+ Life

I listen to a lot of podcasts. In fact, I listen to so many I deleted almost all of the music on my itunes so I could have room for them all.

But out of all of the podcasts I listen to, my favorite has to be Sarah Bagley's Living a B+ Life. The truth she speaks floods over me every time I listen to it. (And for me to say it's my favorite, that means it is really, really good. Because I listen to some awesome podcasts.)

Every week I reevaluate my drive for perfectionism. My desire to have this perfect, clean apartment, to have my classroom organized and lessons executed perfectly, to have a son who is always happy and never cries, a husband who never has to lift a finger when he's home, and the perfect Pinterest crafts that I complete during my son's three-hour naps that happen every Saturday, and a prayer journal that has pages full of my countless hours in the word.

But you know what?

My life isn't perfect.

And I'm not perfect.

And my home is a mess most days, and with 27 non-English speaking students I often run around like a crazy lady, and my son cries A LOT, and my husband does most of the laundry, and I have yet to finish any of the crafts I so desperately want to complete, and the fact that I have been doing a devotion every morning for the past week and a half is a HUGE step for me

But the Lord must really be trying to teach me something; because every week I tune in, I am reminded how I am still striving for the perfect life.

Something my husband said this past week over a breakfast date has really been burned into my brain. After telling him about something I had read on one of the numerous blogs I follow, he responded with, "I want you to know that it's ok that you aren't like those women on your blogs, or podcasts, or on Pinterest. I didn't marry those people. I married you. You're the person I want. Not them."

It was as though my husband was looking into my soul and could see how much I was struggling.

Because with every podcast I have been listening to and every blog I had been reading I could feel myself getting more and more lost.

Who am I? What am  I doing? Why am I not creating awesome things like these women? Why am I not able to work and home and make money from writing? How can I make myself into a brand that other people would want to read my stuff and listen to me speak? How can I be just like these women I listen to/read about.

Here I am listening to a podcast on giving up your perfectionist ideals and embracing the life you have WISHING I could have/be/do something else because who I am and what I'm doing is not adequate enough, not perfect enough!

What a long road of redemption I have ahead of me.

My prayer as we wrap up this year and enter into 2015 is that God continues to transform my heart. Praise Him for not giving up on me so far and for weekly reminding me where my adequacy comes from. That it isn't in perfect instagram pictures or a Pinterest-perfect life, but rather in His acceptance of my B+ performance and the grace He covers me in.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Either Your Baby or Jesus.

I always knew becoming a mother was going to be difficult. Sleepless nights, emotions running wild, the constant caring for someone else. But I never would have imagined that the most difficult part was going to be the feeling I get from my church family.

Being a mother is hard.

There are no words to describe the level of difficulty.

But it seems as if the church doesn’t acknowledge it.

Instead, they toss you to the side until your young one is old enough, or until you can suck it up enough, to put them into daycare.

It’s like no one stops to think that maybe that new mama needs the love of her church family.

Instead, they see this new Mama and call her a disruption. And they give her the choice- spend time with your baby or be in the presence of Jesus.

You can be in church service- if your baby is completely quiet.

You can be at bible study- if you give your baby to someone else, even though you have been working all day and haven’t even had but a few moments to hold him.

You can serve the church- if you don’t need to stop and feed him or change him.

You can feed him- but only if you remember to be modest and cover your breasts. Heaven forbid you cause men to stumble. After all, YOU are the immodest one who is responsible for causing a man to sin. The man who is staring at your crying baby and sees you reaching up to pull out your breast to feed is the innocent one. For heaven’s sake cover yourself.

Why don’t you just go outside?

Why don’t you go sit by yourself in the cry room? You can fellowship in the foyer between services. And just ask someone after church if you can have some leftover communion.

Your lateness is a disruption. You should really be here earlier.

Your outfit is too low cut. It doesn’t matter if you have to have your breasts accessible for breastfeeding. It’s immodest.

How will anyone focus on the Lord if you have your baby?

We want people to be able to relax, not be distracted by a baby.

Just bring a pump and go relieve yourself in the bathroom.

After eight weeks of being a nursing mama to a baby, I have to say I am so glad Jesus isn’t like the church.

I am so thankful that He is with me as I sit outside every choir practice, listening to the songs from the couch down the hall, singing quietly to my boy as I feed him.

I love that He has no time schedule as I arrive places late because I had to try to adjust my baby’s schedule to I could be present for at least part of a service.

I adore that He has shown me the favor in allowing my body to be the one source of nourishment for my son. And that He is with me even when I go through the effort to make it to church, just to sit in a room by myself and watch the service on a TV screen in the back of a room facing the wall just listening.

I am so glad Jesus doesn’t make me feel like a bother. But instead gives me the peace I beg for as I am awakened again in the middle of the night.

I am in adoration at the endless love of my Heavenly Father who has wiped away my tears and held my heart in his hands as I have missed yet another opportunity to fellowship with a body of believers because I have a precious gift to care for.

But I am brokenhearted over the church. That everyone else’s comfort is taken into consideration at the expense of new mamas. That it would care more about not having a disruption than allowing a new mama to feed off the love of those in her church family. That it makes new moms have to choose between being in the presence of the Lord with her fellow believers or being in solitude.

Most of all I am disappointed that it doesn't stop to consider the eternal implications that could be had. That if a new mom who would rather go through the effort to bring her baby to the house of the Lord is better for her soul than telling her to stay at home. 

But I guess that’s why motherhood is difficult.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lessons From My First Week

Two nights ago while my mom and husband slept, I held my sweet little boy in my arms. I was once again so consumed with love and adoration that tears began streaming down my face. I can't believe that a week ago, I was living without him. 

In this past week my entire world has changed. I've experienced a level of love and joy that I never knew existed, and my heart has been filled in places I never knew we're empty. 

As I am writing this, I cannot believe it has already been a week. Although my body is tired and weak, my spirit has never been higher. I now have a new reason to live, and with that new reason has came a change on my entire perspective of life. 

A week ago, to-do lists ran my life. Up until the day my water broke, all I could think about was everything that needed to be done. Cleaning house, preparing for a new school year, preparing for a new baby. I hardly ever stopped to rest, let alone enjoy my days. Oh what I must have missed. 

As I hold my sweet boy, I stare at him. Trying to soak up every ounce of him that I can. I try to memorize his little features, and I feast on his essence. I've set my phone down more than I ever did before, because responding to a tweet might mean I miss one of my baby's eye flutters when he is falling asleep. I've learned that life is not made of how much I can get done in a day. And in just seven short days, I've learned what true priorities are. 

They are snuggling my sweet baby close, smelling his soft hair, kissing his tiny fingers, rubbing his smooth back as I rock him after he's eaten. They are watching in wonder as my mom sings him to sleep or my husband sways with him, looking down at his son with more pride and joy than I've ever seen in a man. It is ignoring that pile of laundry, that sink full of dishes, and collection of dust on my dresser to just savor the moments that God has given me to treasure this little growing boy, who won't be this little for long. 

I still can't believe he is a week old. My heart already aches as I miss the first moment I saw him, the first time I heard his cry, the first moment I held him in my arms. Those moments, those precious, sweet moments have already come and gone. That doesn't mean that there aren't a lifetime of moments to come, but they are just moments I can't get back. Sand in the hourglass I couldn't collect. 

I have no idea why a God chose to bless us the way He has. Why He gave us this child we prayed for. But I am so thankful He has. I just pray that as we raise LJ, God continues to teach us lessons through him. I now not only understand the preciousness of time, but I also have a glimpse of the adoration that the Father has when He looks at us. LJ has already been a vessel used by God to transform my heart in so many ways, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be used in that way. 

A child is a precious gift. One that I never fully understood until a week ago. But what I know for sure is that my heart has been changed in a way that I never could have imagined because of the treasure that has been given to us. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Baby Steps

It's hard to believe that in less than a month that phrase will take on a whole new meaning. Baby LJ will be here before we know it!

Because my due date clock is counting down, my husband and I have been working a lot on preparing our home and ourselves for our new bundle of joy. I have done some serious nesting in our apartment and have purged through almost everything we own, with the exception of our desk.

(You can check out more on that journey at my other blog, First Step Organizing. Over the past several months I have dove into podcasts and blogs on organizing and have found myself truly inspired. It is about my journey so far and my desire to help others take their first step towards less clutter. Check it out!)

Aside from just nesting, I have also spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a wife/mom/woman of God. I always find myself looking into Proverbs 31. And many times I find myself discouraged that I am not even remotely close to the woman in the passage. I typically end up making excuses for myself of why that's acceptable, but after some recent prayer and reflection I have felt like God is calling me to start measuring up.

I really love this parallel of what being a Proverbs 31 woman actually looks like. When I read through the list and really thought about it, I realized that this woman is not Superwoman. Instead, she is a woman who is doing what Christ calls her to do in the different areas of her life.

So what does this have to do with baby steps?

As I said, I organized and cleaned through our home and donated piles of stuff to a local shelter. With one action, I "extended my hand to the poor," "looked well to the ways of my household," and "worked with my hands in delight." I was accomplishing some of these tasks of the Proverbs 31 woman, and it was easy!

This motivated me even more to see what God was going to call me to next. God's refinement is never easy, and it became clear that He was shining a light on an area that I have long wanted to ignore: my spending habits. Now I am not a super shopper who loves to spend all day at the mall, but I do have a compulsive weakness for the clearance aisle at Target. After finally acknowledging that yes, God was calling me to check myself. I finally cracked open the Dave Ramsey series we have had in our closet. Lesson 1 is about baby steps.

While this should have been enough to light the bulb, it wasn't until my husband and I were watching a sermon last night and the preacher talked about God showing up when we step up. He said that it doesn't take running a marathon by yourself, but just taking small baby step at a time. Cue lightbulbs!

This journey to being a Proverbs 31 woman is going to be a marathon. But it isn't one I have to run by myself. It is one that can happen one baby step at a time. All I need to do is rely on His strength to get me to my goal.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"  Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Introducing Lorran Yul Lewis Jr!!!

It's official! Baby Lewis will be here July 24th! 

We just wanted to share a bit of our journey with all of you!

We found out we were expecting on November 19th. That weekend we were headed to Oklahoma to visit Sarah and Jordan. At the time I was only allowed to tell three people. I was so excited I could hardly wait until we arrived. We had a great time celebrating with them and went to the aquarium. There we battled back and forth over what to get the baby. My sea turtle lost, but so did Ray's great white shark. We settled on this little fella!

From there it was a matter of when and how we would tell our families. My dad came to visit the week before thanksgiving. Rather than waiting until Christmas like we planned, we decided to surprise him at the airport! We had a big sign that said "Grandpa Hausmann" with lots of pink and blue ribbons. It took him a little bit to figure out why the sign said grandpa, but he was so excited when he finally got it!!! (Sadly my camera at the time messed up, and we lost the pictures from the airport...)

Next we told my mom! She came the week of Thanksgiving. Because Ray wasn't going to be able to go to Illinois for Christmas. We celebrated that week. My mom started the gift giving the night she got here. She got us an incredible camera! No more lost photos!!! We then gave her an angel ornament that said Grandma. My mom is a pretty intuitive lady. We found out that the reason she got us the camera was for the baby she suspected we were having. Apparently my bedtimes of 4:30 pm set off her grandbaby alarm.

After that we began telling friends and church members around Wichita. We were bursting to tell people, but still wanted to be able to tell our closest loved ones in person over Christmas break.

I headed home for the entire week with a ton of Christmas cards in tow!

We thought the card was a clever way for people to find out we were expecting without us actually having to say it. ...Instead it left me awkwardly asking people which photo they liked best and why. Eventually they finally understood the baby outfit. It was such a joy to tell everyone in person. I only wish Ray could have been there too. 

Our first sonogram was the end of January. I couldn't wait to actually see him or her. The song "I have loved you for 1000 years" was on the radio during our first glimpse. We both cried... it was an incredible feeling... 
Here he is waving!

They were hoping to see if we could tell the gender early. Sure enough, we found out that it was a boy!!!

Since then we have had a fairly easy pregnancy. We had our second sonogram March 11th and confirmed it is, in fact, a boy. Ray has been on cloud 9 the entire time. We are so blessed by this child, and we cannot wait to meet him in July and our family and friends to meet him this fall. It is hard to believe that he will be here in less than 19 weeks! Until then, we will be anxiously awaiting his arrival!!!

Live, laugh, one more to love, 
-Stephanie Lynn