Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Jezze

Dear Jezze,

A year ago I went to bed consumed with the same thought that I had been for weeks. I propped my gi-gantuous belly up on a pillow, closed my eyes, and thought, Will this be the night?

At 3:45 AM I woke to a cramp and a gush of water. Exactly nine hours later, and after withstanding the most intense pain and the hardest work I have ever experienced, you were born at 12:45 PM. "A baby girl," they said as they slid you right up onto my belly. I have never felt relief as powerful as I did in that moment. Welcome Jezze Grace Pié.

And so Daddy and I entered the world of parenthood. A world full of crying, sleeplessness, poop, spit-up, crying, burp cloths, bibs, pacifiers, crying, sippy cups, diapers, toys, crying, giggles, LOTS of picture-taking, onesies, bubble baths, and...oh, crying. We have watched you grow from utter dependence and helplessness to a beautiful, bouncing, little toddler-independent and fiercely determined. You are as tenderhearted as you are passionate (just like Dad). You are cautious until you feel confident, and then you proceed fully focused on what you set out to do. And you will let the world know when you have declared even the slightest injustice-seriously, 12 months of diaper changing and you still refuse to accept it as a necessary daily task.

Over this last year I have struggled with the conflicting desire for time to pass quickly (I can't wait until she can...sleep through the night, crawl, be more independent, ask for what she wants, etc.) and for time to stand completely still (I never want to forget...the smell of her warm, sweet breath, the feeling of her tiny hand on my chest, all her little noises and facial expressions, the sound of her laughter, etc.). I anticipated your first birthday with much excitement. And joy burst forth from the depths of my heart as we celebrated you. Yet I felt torn again, saying goodbye to a year of firsts (the first time you...cried a real tear, laughed, rolled over, crawled, got a tooth, brushed your teeth, saw snow, opened your Christmas present, ate baby food, colored a picture, etc.). A whirlwind of memories that leaves me humbled with a heart of gratitude for the blessing it is to have you as my daughter.

You have unlocked in me the tender, simple spirit of a child. I am suddenly aware again of the fun of being silly and playful, and of the excitement of holidays, summer vacations, and the discovery of new things. You have also unlocked in me a confidence that I did not know I had. I am fully willing to do whatever it takes to protect you and to make decisions in your best interest, no matter the cost.

As you grew in my belly I was keenly aware that you are only on loan to me. You are my daughter, but you are first a daughter of the Most High. I love you beyond the description of words, and He loves you even more. My commitment as your mom has been and always will be to encourage you along the path laid out for you by God, so that you can experience His love and your purpose.

Since your arrival, life has truly flipped upside down. Nothing is the same. Yet, it is better; somehow more fulfilled. And my love for you deepens with each day and with each stage. Thank you for being such a joy. And though technically over, happy birthday little girl!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodbye Grandma Dolly

Today my family said goodbye to a very special Grandma Dolly.

My gram was the youngest girl out of 14 children in the Gregory family, with just one brother behind her. Being the baby girl, they called her Dolly, though her real name was Ruth. She was a tough little lady...and I do mean little as she measured in at UNDER 5 foot! But she would speak her mind. Not just as she got older. For as long as I can remember Gram would tell you just exactly what she thought...good or bad:) Replying, "K, Gram," was most often an appropriate response to any rude or awkward comments. Later my sisters and I would have a good laugh about whatever was said. Like most of my family, Gram showed her love through giving gifts. She was one of the most generous people I knew-to me, to my husband and most recently, to my daughter. And though I've always appreciated that, I am even more grateful now, as I look around my house and see so many things to cherish because they have come from her.

My gram instilled in me the importance of family and of respecting my parents, no matter what. She gave me an appreciation for being domestic, as she taught me to sew (I still have fabric for a table runner that we were supposed to make together) and to make strawberry jam (a tradition every June when strawberries are harvested) and to bake (her recipes handed down from generations ago just made things taste better!). These were my deepest connections with her. They were what made me feel close to her and what made me feel she was proud of me.

When I was pregnant last year, I made a new connection with Grandma Dolly. She called me all the time! She had all the news about flu shots and infant sleep positioners and what baby names I needed to consider:) Toward the end of my pregnancy she would call and ask how I was feeling, if my feet were swollen, if I had any cramping. She was there the day Jezze was born. Proud as ever. And from that day forward she never stopped showering my little girl with gifts. Jezze "wrote" her a thank you note recently and mailed it to Gram. A few days later Jezze got a letter from Gram thanking her for the thank you note! Although that seems so silly and small, the first thing I thought of when she passed away was how grateful I was to have that note to keep for Jezze and to tell her of the love of Grandma Dolly.

I miss her. Already. She is the only grandparent I ever had the privilege of knowing. When I saw her in the hospital, dying, I was speechless. I couldn't think of any words that would convey what I wanted her to know-how I loved her, appreciated her, wished desperately for another decade with her so that my children could laugh about the rude things she would inevitably say to them. Mostly I just wanted her to know that the world would feel a little emptier without her in it. And it does.

K, Gram. I love you. I'll see you in heaven.

Grandma and me 1984

Grandma and Jezze 2010

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Run With Me?

It has been on my heart for months now to start a running club. Actually, the thought first crossed my mind a few years ago. But that was it. The thought came and went with no significance, much like many thoughts (i.e. "I should paint my toenails today." "It would be cool to go to Europe." "I think I'd really like to be a dog groomer, but I wouldn't want to get bit." etc.) Until recently.

I'm about to seemingly go off on a tangent, but hang with me because it's relevant:)

In my last post, I shared how I've been struggling to juggle my role as a working mom, when my heart longs to be home with my daughter. This isn't the only struggle that I've been experiencing lately. God has really just been allowing me to be wrecked-relationally and financially. I have thought a lot about Job lately. Though I would not compare my circumstances to the depths of his, I honestly have thought, "God, who do you think I am, Job?!"

But here's the cool thing...there is purpose in the turmoil I have been experiencing. I know that, without even knowing what it is. I can feel God refining me. I can sense God moving. I can see that he is shattering barriers in my life by way of preparing me for something. It's that same kind of feeling when you have a particular word right on the tip of your tongue. So close I can almost taste it. And I know from personal experience that it is often at the end of our selves that we hear and see the will of God. I'm there.

Throughout the stress that I have been under, I have had this nagging desire to start a running club. In my stubborn protest against not being Job, I have pushed it aside again and again. Sometimes I would even tell God, "You move first, then I'll move. You give me more time, then I'll look into starting one." Yeah, I don't think God works like that.

Is this the calling I have been sensing? I don't know. But, if nothing else, I want to continue breaking barriers (disobedience in this case) that would keep from being used by God. So, here's my first step.

What is a running club? It is two or more people that meet for the purpose of running. Two or more? TWO or more? That shouldn't be hard. I just need one more person to make it official:) "Official" running club things will develop in time, like a name, a website, a schedule, etc. For now, I am just generating interest. I am looking for other women (Sorry men, I'd like to avoid getting stuck with just me and some creeper running around Clarion County together!) who run and would like company. It doesn't matter if you are fast, slow, experienced, out-of-shape, have never run before, run marathons every day, etc. If you are that person, let me know. If you know someone who may be interested, get us connected.

My dream for this club is to be a way to connect with other women. I have a girlfriend who loves running as much as I do. When we hang out, we don't go to lunch or go shopping or sit and drink tea (do other female friends do that?). We run and we talk. We talk about all kinds of things. She doesn't know Christ. What a great connection to have with her. I want that with more women. Running is my passion, why can't it be my ministry too?

Well, I guess that's it. That's my heart. Okay, I'm off for a run.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I have been struggling for a while now...feeling trapped in my circumstances. Trying, sometimes desperately, to create solutions that would change my situation. Feeling disappointed when those "solutions" fail to create change. Sometimes I have even allowed myself to go to a hopeless place, believing that maybe things will always be this way. What way? Different than what I want.

Here's the deal...

Ten months ago my life changed drastically when I became a mother. Though I struggled at first with all the normal first-time-mom-things like nursing, sleeplessness, and what I like to refer to as chronic selflessness, I have come to absolutely love and cherish this role. When I hold my daughter late at night and she rests her head on my shoulder (if you know her, you know it is extremely rare for her to slow down enough to do this) I am humbled to tears at this responsibility and privilege. To love her. To nourish her. To disciple her. To lift her up to all she was created to be.

Wanting to stay home and be a full-time mom was something that I have always known I would want to do. So, it was no surprise when that desire began to burn within me as my six weeks of maternity leave was rapidly coming to an end. I returned part-time using earned sick and vacation days. And now, having maxed out my ability to use time-off I will go back to a full-time schedule beginning next week.

A lot of tears have flowed from this. Having to adjust to leaving my baby. Not being the one to share the best parts of her day. Functioning in a constant state of hurry-to get out the door in the morning, to get dinner together after work, to get to the one-million-and-one activities on our schedule, etc. Watching all of my created solutions fail to allow me to be free from this job. Coming to the realization that God wants me here.

That last one is tough. Because although I have my own will, desires, dreams, God has bigger and better ones. And I know that. And I know that even if I can't see it right now, this is best for me. And I know that this life is not for me, that I am on mission. That I have to stand up, shoulder my cross, and press on because there is something important to be accomplished.

At my job where I have the privilege of providing counseling to victims of sexual assault, I meet people every day in a state of brokenness. I get to share in their sorrow and offer them encouragement and hope as I walk them through learning how to heal and move on from a very dark place in their lives. I keep this verse on my desk as a reminder that the opportunity to do this is not in vain:

"The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. "

~Isaiah 50:4

So, I am choosing to fight the lie that this is what my life will always be like, and instead believe that I am doing what is needed at this time. I am choosing to see what feels like chains as purpose instead. And I am praising God for the freedom that comes in knowing who I am in him.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'd like to tell you about my love for running. I've always been the kind of girl that likes risks and excitement. I want to ride the biggest, fastest, scariest roller coaster in the park. I don't like renting the seadoos at the beach because there are too many safety rules (I really only have found them fun when you can go as fast as you can and then suddenly turn so that you are thrown...far). Once my best friend and I wrecked my dad's quad (for the second day in a row) and I couldn't stop laughing (that is, until I saw that she had a broken collar bone which landed us in the ER...again). In seventh grade when I joined the track team and the coach was showing us different events that we could try, I was told, as I stared at the pole vaulting pit, that girls don't vault because they aren't strong enough. Five years later my college recruited me for the pole vault where I competed at the national level by jumping over 11 feet. Point...I like to do things that most people can't. I like challenges that make me feel uncomfortable. Which leads me to my love for running. Believe it or not I've not always even liked running. I remember hiding in the locker room during track practice in junior high in hopes that I may have missed the warm up:( And I can't really pinpoint the moment when that changed. I guess it was more a progression as I matured. Every year in high school I joined the cross country team as requested by my track coach. Every year I quit within the first week or two. Except my senior year. At the end of the second week I remember Coach looking over at practice and saying, "What's Brumbaugh still doing here?" And I remember thinking, "Hm, I'm not sure." But I stuck it out. And I guess that was where I began to learn that I could push the threshold of pain a little further if I tried. The rest is really history as I continued to learn and grow and run more in college, and after that I began running road races and eventually the marathon. My favorite things about running: 1) I get to be outside to-see nature, breathe fresh air, learn the streets in Clarion, etc. 2) I get a chance to think and pray 3) I get to be alone OR I get to have the company of my dog, an occasional friend, my husband if I can bribe him or, my newest running partner, my 9 month old daughter 4) I am my own coach-I can decide where to go, how long I want to be out there, how fast I'm traveling, etc. 5) I have the opportunity to overcome an "I can't" during nearly every run-I can run further than I thought I could, faster than I thought I could, up a hill that I never thought I could, etc. These days running looks a little different for me than it used to. Just getting out the door 2-3 times a week is an achievement. Nonetheless, I run.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I started this blog a couple of years ago for the purpose of sharing my experience training for a marathon. Mostly it was to hold myself accountable. Knowing people were reading, expecting me to complete the race made it difficult to quit. So I blogged, I completed the marathon and that was it. I never really thought I would visit my blog again, aside from reading old posts about my training when I felt like reliving the experience. I am.
Why am I resurrecting my blog? Good question. I generally tend to shy away from making public announcements regarding my life to mass amounts of people. I don't even like to post a status on facebook! Something about being on display makes me feel quite insecure. At the same time I have a passion for connecting with people. And get me in a one-on-one environment and I will gladly share my heart. As well, I thoroughly enjoy reading other's blogs. I like to hear about their thoughts and experiences; share in their joys and burdens (wow, that sounds cliché!).
So, here I am. Back to add new life to my old blog.
Feels good:)