Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Devotional Part 1

The following was published in our Church Advent Devotional on Dec. 9th.  I'll totally sign autographs if asked.  

I love to surprise people. I'm sneaky that way. Sometimes this means I'm stealthy in the office and jump out at a co-worker. Sometimes it means sending a random note to someone who is not expecting it. Sometimes it means showering someone with hugs and kisses while they're trying to watch TV. (That one is mostly reserved for the men in my house.)

What I would not like is for someone to be surprised to find out that I'm in a loving committed relationship with Christ. I think it would be so sad if someone knew me but didn't know that very important facet of my life. I don't wear a
"Got Jesus" ball cap nor do I have a "Jesus is my Homey" t-shirt (completely fine if you do, by the way). What I do have is a friendship with Christ that I wear on my sleeve.

I encourage you to love one another, even when the others aren't lovely. That's what Christ did for us. By treating one another with kindness, we are making it much less surprising when they learn that God's hand is on our heart and in our lives. He commanded, not suggested, this of us:

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other."
John 13:35 (The Message)

Dulce Stevens 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Advice to New Mothers

Something must be in the water nowadays because there are several friends and acquaintances who are with child right now.  It makes me a little nostalgic and I think back on where I was when I waited for my sons to arrive.

Here's the thing, I've only been pregnant twice.  I'm hardly a Duggar or Osmond with a gaggle of kids but 2 is a respectable number.  I must admit, they were ridiculously blissful pregnancies.  Of course, I may feel that way because they happened 10 and 6 years ago and time erases the discomfort quicker than the stretch marks.  Now that's not to say the process was uneventful. 

Some people may not remember or know that we had Placenta Previa (that's right, I said placenta) with Jackson and some tough talks were had as a result.  We knew that there was a possibility one or both of us might not make it the 9 months. I wish the conversations we had for no one as my husband had to hear what my preferences were if I were unable to make decisions for myself.  All that to say, that child was bathed in prayer before his first breath and we experienced a miracle in the 3rd trimester that resulted in a bouncing baby boy through a great delivery.  (Seriously, all deliveries should be so awesome).

So, here's what I would say to those sweet ladies whose lives are about to change:

1. You do not get an extra crown in heaven for passing on the epidural.  If I could have, I would have named my kids after the anesthesiologist.  That hunky, hunky man.  That said, remember that you are still in charge of what's going on.  I knew when it was time to get the show on the road and said my goodbyes to the family and it's time for them to give me my space.  Listen to your body!  

2.  Sometimes, well-meaning husbands can not for the life of them keep track of contractions.  Bless them!  At one point St. Bryan was convinced I had an 18 minute contraction.  He had actually fallen asleep.  So, while parenting books may want you to include them in the labor process, find a stopwatch or clock of your own.  

3.  If you find yourself feeling like a time bomb about to go off, remember these are the last little kicks and stretches you'll feel from that little one inside.  Just smile as if you two have your own little joke.  Pretty soon you'll have to share that child with the world!  For now, they're all yours.

4. Baby Blues is totally fake.  JUST KIDDING!!  I am typically the happiest of humans.  But, on day 6 I found myself in my bedroom rocking in bed with my baby in my arms like a mother bear.  THIS is when you need to rely on your hubby, co-parent, or helper to clear the air.  Casserole at the front door?  Thanks! We'll see you later.  Someone on the phone?  They'll have to call you later.  Come up with canned answers and stick to the script!  You'll get through it in a couple days.

5.  Get a note for the door saying that those who ring the doorbell will need to be responsible for getting the crying baby back to sleep.

6.  Ignore advice-givers.  Yes, I realize this would now include me!  There are well-meaning people out there who can give great advice for what worked for them.  That's not to say it will work for you.  Of my 2 kids, they were as different as day is to night.  By the time they drew in their first breath, I knew them.  I knew #1 was an extrovert and #2 was a snugglebug.  I also knew they loved me and I loved them.  Still do.  So much.  
7.  The spread-eagle baby on your chest sleeping position is the best feeling in the whole world.  Hands down.

So, there you have it.  I have reminisced and pep-talked you through these final days.  Amazing, exhausting, and life-changing.  And no, I'm not doing it again!  Those chips are cashed in!     

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How Was YOUR Weekend?

For the last several years my sister and I have bought season tickets to Starlight Theater in Kansas City.  I have always loved going to musical productions.  I love the music, the atmosphere, the dressing up, everything about the 2 1/2 escape time.  As an added bonus, I get to sit beside one of my favorite people during this time.  

During my 24 hour trip to KC, we managed to:

  1. Eat at a Eden Alley, a fabulous vegetarian restaurant where my first food baby of the weekend was conceived.  
  2. See Spamalot where the Lady of the Lake rocked my socks.  
  3. Eat the best french toast in town at a wonderful organic, all natural eatery: Blue Bird Bistro.  Soooo Gooood!
  4. Walk around the River Market and bought yummy spices.
  5. Conceive my 2nd food baby at El Salvadoreno in Overland Park.  Their cheese pupusas make me so happy!  
Not a bad way to spend an evening!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Really? 1 Year? Really??

I can't believe it's been a year since my last post.  Ugh!  I often think about writing.  Many days I come up with my clever title and a fun picture that will engage the viewers.  Much like life, though, I end up getting sidetracked and skip right over.  Well, here's an update:

1.  Friends - Some time ago Darling Bryan talked with me about my need for friends.  He would go out every other week and some weekend with his guy friends and I could see the importance of it.  I just didn't see my need for that kind of comrade connection.  I have my family, I have my work, I have my kids.  I didn't want to stretch into building a core group of girl friends.  Little did I know that like was going to go all willy nilly on me.  My sisters and brother were all out of town, my mother would be sick with cancer, and my boys would be independent thinkers and free spirits like their parents.  Because of the convo with Bryan, I had decided to dive in to some promising relationships.  In God's perfect timing, these friendships were born.  Just in time for my moment of need, I had declared myself all-in.  What could have been the most devastating time of my life, it was the most precious.  I will never be the same and I'm so grateful.

2.  Family - I am a proud mom.  I know that every mother thinks their child is beautiful, wonderful, and above average.  My children knock those children out of the park.  I don't know how these boys have turned out as amazing as they are.  In the past 12 months, we have had health issues batter down on our family unit.  We've lost loved ones.  We've been financially strapped.  And you know what?  They have weathered the storms stronger than any adult I know.  Need some potassium?  I have a 6-year-old budding nutritionist who will come up with a fix.  Homeless people need a friend?  I have a 10-year-old who talk with you and show you how to make paper airplanes because it can make your day better.  Need a hug?  These guys are the best huggers in town.

So, how did they end up like this? Easy - this guy.  
I can never say enough about the man I married.  He's my best friend.  He's a loving father.  He's a goofball and the geek to my nerd.  

3.  Fun.  Oh yes!  There was fun!

After all, if you can't find joy in the tough times, you'll miss the rainbow.  To smile and mean it is a beautiful thing.  And to love each other despite your surrounding circumstances makes this life totally worth it.  I love my life.  All the crazy, too.  It's like I've been given this gift of watercolor paints and I can choose what colors to use.  I choose bright.  I choose deep.  I choose rich.  I choose to create memories and cherish the experience of making the art.  I choose to find the fun.  

I don't know when I'll write again.  Fingers crossed that it will be soon.  If it's not, just know it's because I'm knee deep in color.