Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Politics and Religion

Now if that title doesn't grab attention, I don't know what else will.

I'm not going to start ranting and raving about ISIS and refugees and border security and grandstanding politicians. I'm not going to pretend that I can watch a few news stories, read some articles, and with a few swift opinions and decisions, implement world peace. If only it were that easy.

This is a call to arms for those who follow the Jesus...those whom, after choosing Him as Savior, have become the 'hands and feet of Christ' (1 Corinthians 12:27). In a world that does not follow the wise advise of being 'quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry' (James 1:19), here's some food for thought...

Rather than scowling at the woman with the Pro-Choice sticker on the back of her car...go volunteer at the Pregnancy Help Center or be a mentor to teen moms or babysit a young mother's child.

Rather than sitting on the couch and shouting your opinions at the reporter on television about the breaking down of American values and the decline of the American family...go be a Big Brother or Big Sister and mentor a child so that child and maybe even the ENTIRE family can have a real role model.

Rather than being afraid of what other people will think when you invite "them" over for dinner...get over it and just love on people.

Rather than worry about the cleanliness of your house and the dirty towels piled high in the kids bathroom...have a block party BBQ because nobody really even cares about the towels.

If we are called the HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST, shouldn't we be passionately pursuing opportunities to love on people and make them feel known, loved, and accepted? Again, I don't how to solve the refugee crisis. But I do know that because He is in me (Galatians 2:20), He can show me through the Holy Spirit how to love those around me and show them the LOVE OF CHRIST.

Rather than sitting around, dwelling in negativity about the chaos and hopeless our world is full of, find a way, no matter how big or how small, to listen to Jesus as He invites you to show others HIS glorious, undefiled, unwarranted, undeserving LOVE.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thank God for Jesus, Good Friends, and Lexapro

My incredible friend Kaylie Hodges has an awesome blog. She's a Chi Omega sister, Texas Tech University sister, and Jesus-lovin' sister. Mother of 5...5 and under...2 of which they recently adopted. She's living life...BIG.

I got to Guest Blog (is that a real phrase?) for her today for her "Be Salty" series. How God is doing big things in everyday life. So...

Thank God for Jesus, Good Friends, and Lexapro.

Check it her blog here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Third-Child Post Partum Appointment

The noted difference between a first baby 6 week post partum appointment and a third baby post partum appointment:

First Baby:
You shower. And groom. (You know what I mean.) You bathe #1. You dress them in cute clothes. You arrive with your husband 15 minutes early. He carries the carrier since you're still "recovering." You bring thank you notes to the doctor, nurses, and #1's baby announcement. You have a sweet little appointment full of oohs and aahs over #1, talk about how crazy and tough adjusting to having a new baby is.

Third Baby:
You still shower since it's been 4 days since you last washed your hair. (It's healthier for your curly hair that way, you tell yourself.) And seriously, they are checking your stuff. You change #2 and #3's diapers. You're pretty sure everyone has shoes on. You think you're on top of things with distracting activities and snacks packed in the diaper bag. You arrive only 1 minute late to the doctor's office (NAILED IT) sans husband. Because you stopped "recovering" 4 days post partum when you bought a house and put yours on the market and your husband went back to work. They call you back, you know the entire office by first name because you've been there SO MANY TIMES. The realize you forgot that baby announcement and you know you haven't come close to writing thank you notes yet. You sit on the exam table, 99% certain your blood pressure will be high because you're disciplining #1 and #2 while the nurse checks it. You pull out the iPad for distracting for #1 and #2 then realize your husband has changed the password since it's a new iPad. You pull out the backup LeapFrog, discovering it's out of batteries. Then you look for your phone to call your husband to get the new iPad password but realize your phone has been left either at home, in the car, or has been run over in the parking lot already. But you can't go out to use the office phone because you're already naked from the waste down and covered in a white sheet. So you resort to giving your kids the snack and break the news that when you were a kid, there were no iPads or LeapFrogs and you stared at pictures on the wall when you went with your mom to the doctor. (Insert disbelief, a few tears, and a failed attempt at their favorite game of I Spy.) You then decide on what IUD the doctor is going to place because this body is DONE procreating. Since you've already dropped your drawers with #1, #2, and #3 in the room, said nurse offers to take #1 and #2 into the hallway because you express concern that #1 may retell this story and how often he's exposed to breastfeeding boobs while in a counseling office when he is 16 years old. You laugh with your doctor at the entertaining events taking place with a speculum inserted in your woman parts about how last time you were in stirrups post-delivery and he was stitching you without anesthesia, you wanted to kick him in the face. You have an anteriorly tilted uterus (of course) so you bleed a fair amount (of course) during the semi-painless procedure. You then take up the doctor and nurse on their offer to keep #1, #2, and #3 in the office coloring while you run to the lab upstairs next to prevent your children from return with some unknown illness from the hacking 6 month old and 90 year old who sit in the inter-mingled, well thought out pediatric, neurology (I think) and lab waiting room. And you promise said nurse and doctor that you will return for #1, #2, and #3...eventually. 

For real. That just happened, y'all. Send your teenage girls to our house for a healthy dose of birth control. But in all seriousness, I wouldn't have it any other way. In all it's chaos and messiness, I'm uber-thankful. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Arden's Birth Story (Part 2 of 2)

(See Part 1 of 2 to get the pre-story...)

...When he placed the bulb, I thought he broke my water because I felt some gushing of fluid. It wasn’t amniotic fluid…it was blood. Your heart rate stayed beautiful and I didn’t start hurting so we thought it was probably just a uterine vessel that was broken rather than any placental abruption. They did want to monitor your and I for the next couple of hours to make sure bleeding stopped before even remotely talking about going home to sleep. After just a little bit of thinking, praying, and consulting your dad, Lamar, and my nurse friends, I decided that I’d rest much better at the hospital on the monitor than at home, wondering if you were okay. Dad ran home (but it took him 2 hours) to finish packing our stuff and Sarah came up to triage to keep my company while we waited. (I had sent a list home with Dad that included vacuuming the car, installing the car seat, finishing packing my bag, getting the herbs and essential oils for labor, and finding and inflating the birth ball. He finally located the birth ball, deflated in the garage in a wagon. Apparently, there was a hole in it, and we didn’t have the proper patching goods, so he tried caulking the ball to keep air in it. I’m sure you can guess that it didn’t work. But kudos to him for trying.)

A little after 9p, the bleeding had slowed but not completely stopped. I began retaping the foley bulb more taut to my leg and it slid right on out. I was surprised and called the nurse, Kathy. She rechecked me and sure enough, I was dilated to 4 cm! (She called me 3-4cm so that really means I was at least 4cm.) We all decided to go ahead and move back to Labor & Delivery and start pitocin. I kind of couldn’t believe it was starting to happen this fast.

I had been texting our doula Wendy to keep her updated. The plan was for her to come to L&D sometime in the morning when I started hurting. Since I seemed to be moving so quickly, she decided to drive up to the hospital after they started pitocin. 

We moved to our new room around 10:15-10:30p I think. Sometimes, you lose track of time. I wasn’t hurting. Sarah and I were talking and watching the 2015 Golden Globes. Your Dad was still at home trying to finish his honey-do list. The pitocin was started around 10:45-11:00p. Dr. Lamar didn’t break my water at that time because your head was still so high and my cervix was still very posterior. We didn’t want a prolapsed cord to happen. 

It was then that I found out that my next door neighbor had delivered a baby, too. Except theirs didn’t live. My secondary job as an L&D nurse it to coordinate the Resolve Through Sharing program. I help train staff on how to care for a patient who is experiencing a loss and follow up with at least half of the patients (other nurses follow up with some patients) who lose a baby for about a year after delivery. This baby was the 7th loss since the day before Christmas Eve that we had experienced at United Regional. Heartbreaking. And grounding. NEVER do I take for granted that you are healthy and there are a lot of odds stacked against you and I with my diabetes and now a newfound heart condition. Part of me hadn’t even let myself believe that I would be going home with a healthy newborn at the end of it all. 

Dad arrived back to L&D eventually, Sarah hugged us and went home in expectation that I would announce your arrival overnight, and Wendy arrived sometime around midnight. We all decided we needed to try and sleep as much as possible because it could be a long night. Dad curled up on the couch and fell asleep about midnight. Wendy went down to Antepartum Rm 4405 and slept on the couch, and I kind of slept with a giant peanut ball in between my legs to help open up the pelvis and allow for your head to descend. Stacy was my nurse (who helped deliver Blair) and Heidi was in and out of the room a lot helping while Stacy was still recovering another patient. 

I slept off and on from about 1-4a, only noticing mild contractions. Stacy checked me around 2a and I was dilated about 4-5cm, still very posterior, and 70% effaced. Not a lot of change.

About 4a, my contractions started picking up and becoming stronger as the pitocin continued to be increased. (I think we topped out at about 16mu/min.) I was contracting every 2-5 minutes and beginning to breathe and moan through them some. I finally decided that it was time to bring in the big guns and called Wendy to come down to see if she could help me relax. I just was having a hard time getting comfortable. 

About 5a, Wendy came to the room. I was still about to talk and laugh in-between contractions. No significant pain noted. I asked Stacy to check me about 5:20a because we were all curious to see if there was any cervical change. I was dilated to about 6 cm, 70% effaced, and the head had come down substantially. And wouldn’t you know…my water happened to break while she was checking me…

For the next 15-20 minutes, I sat up in bed, moaning through the contractions. They were definitely manageable. But they started to pick up in intensity and frequency pretty quickly. They dialed back the pitocin to about 12 mu/min but I think my contractions were still about every 2 minutes apart. Things started going very fast. I sat on the birth ball on the side of the bed, moaning through each contraction. Wendy offered verbal encouragement through each contraction and would lightly touch my forearms. And where was Jesus in the room this time? He was very much in her voice, in her touch, and in Dad’s constant presence. Never did He leave me, never did He forsake me. 

At one point, Dad tried to be “nice” and touch my back, but good gosh, he put his entire body weight on me. I knew he was attempting to be empathetic so I tried to gently say something,  but I think it came out in one long breath…”Please stop touching me, you’re putting too much pressure on my back, get off…” or something like that. After that, the sweet man just offered the occasional touch and word of encouragement. But he was always right by my side. I think I stood up and put my arms around his neck through one or two contractions but it wasn’t comfortable at all, so back to leaning over the bed it was. 

Somewhere around 6:30a, Stacy had to leave a little early (of all days!) and sweet Hayli came in to take care of me. At this point, I kept having to go to the bathroom. There’s a lot of pressure down there…I actually remember saying it felt like my crotch had been hit with a fireball…so everything just kind of comes out. No more pregnancy constipation.

At some point on the toilet, I inadvertently let out a push or two. Hayli checked me (bless her heart) and she couldn’t tell if I was an 8 or a 10. I tried making it back to the bed for her to check me. (Side note: no fault of Hayli’s, but walking to a bed to get on your back when you’re about to have a baby is one of the most torturous things to do to a woman.) I was 9cm. Oh my goodness, I was close but it felt like I was near death. I made my way back to the bathroom again. Someone mentioned me getting into the shower because that is how I labored with Blair. Then someone countered that, saying they didn’t want to deliver a baby in the shower. (The who said what and when is all a blur to me.) 

And poor Wendy. Through the contractions, I had developed a pattern of grabbing her shirt sleeves, moaning, and rocking back and forth. At some point, I a. got bodily fluid in her hair and b. began rocking back and forth while hitting my head on her chest. (Her chest was much softer than the shower wall, like I did with Blair.) Best doula, EVER.

I remember getting a little panicky at one point, saying, “I can’t do this anymore!” In an L&D nurses mind, those are the magic words that a legit natural, laboring patient (not the wimpy 2cm patient who has zero tolerance for pain) is close to delivery. Someone called Dr. Lamar and told him to come now for delivery. 

I had made it back to the birth ball a few minutes later when the door flung open and Dr. Lamar arrived, hair disheveled, out of breath after he had apparently sprinted from his car to our room. “Oh, I thought the baby was going to be out,” he said. “Guess I have time to change.” And God bless Dr. Lamar and his family. Two of his three kids, Hannah and Jackie, babysit/nanny/help raise your brother and sister. As much as I go see him in the office and as much as the girls watch your brother and sister, and now you, they’re like part of the family. 

So, Dr. Lamar left to change clothes. I inadvertently started bearing down during a contraction and Hayli asked me what position I wanted to get in to push. I had NO IDEA. All reasoning had been flushed down the toilet at this point. Literally. Wendy suggested I get on my hands and knees on the bed and that sounded like a reasonable thing to do. The head of the bed was still up while I pushed once…and it was miserable. Hayli dropped the bed to a completely flat position, I got “comfortable”…as comfortable as one can be while trying to deliver a fireball out of your vagina… and the thought went through my head…”I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN.” It was incentive to finish the job. 

I quietly pushed twice. I’m not sure if anyone but Wendy and I knew I was pushing. For a brief moment, I was embarrassed as I felt a little like a puppy on a training pad. Sometimes, bodily fluids escape while you’re pushing. After two pushes, I could tell you were crowning. A little “ring of fire” burning, but by the time you're on your third vaginal delivery, it was nothing too bad. 

Apparently, Dr. Lamar had come back in the room and I heard Hayli ask him if he was going to check me. He replied, “She’ll let me know.” I pushed once and groaned, “THE HEAD IS OUT.” 

I had two hospital gowns on. One on the front and one covering my backside since I had been up walking around. Lamar got up, lifted the back side of the gown, and said, “Oh yes, it is!” He told me to wait to push to see if you had a cord around your neck. I waited a second, heard that we were all clear, and with one more push, you shot out. 7:17a. It all happened so fast that Lamar only had one glove on. I guess that’s the ultimate level of trust between a doctor and his patient. 

I heard him say, “It’s a girl!” I was kind of surprised but started thinking you would be a girl the week before you were born. Ann Marie, the nursery nurse, took you to the warmer and Dad followed you. I rolled over and immediately felt grossed out by all of the blood I was sitting in while I was hemorrhaging. (Literally. I had to stay in a wheelchair the rest of the day and refused a blood transfusion the next morning.) I watched Ann Marie give you oxygen and a little PEEP to help open your lungs. At some point, I heard you give one good cry that gave me some reassurance. 

Arden Elise, you were beautiful. You had dark hair and were long and lean…7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches. Your feet and hands were ginormous and you had a dimple in your right cheek. Your lips looked like little strawberries…I just wanted to kiss you! 

Your brother and sister came to meet you. Your grandparents doted on you. Our friends and co-workers came to see you. You were a celebrity.

About an hour and a half after you were born, your oxygen levels started dropping again so you were taking into the nursery where an IV was started, you received oxygen through a nasal cannula, blood cultures were drawn, a chest Xray was done, and IV antibiotics were given. I have a new respect for nursery nurses. They cared for you like you were their own. You were a little puny at first, struggling to keep your oxygen levels up and had 2 wimpy feedings, but like the little fighter you are, you pulled off your oxygen and IV out later that night and came out of it like a champ. 

Arden Elise, you are glorious. Beautiful, gentle, sweet, relaxed, loved. I am so grateful that Jesus gave us a precious gift in you. He knows you, formed you in His image, loves you, and planned for you to be our daughter and us to be your parents. For that, I am forever thankful. I know He has great plans for you. I will relish the moments He gives us with you as your story is written. 

Our prayer for you is this: “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” - Proverbs 31:25. 

Trusting the One who holds your future. Thank you for being our daughter. 

I love you,


Monday, February 2, 2015

Arden's Birth Story (Part 1 of 2)

January 17, 2015

Sweet Baby Arden,

As I type this, you’re sitting next to me in a little bassinet, staring off into the distance with those beautiful bluish-gray eyes of yours. I can’t help but tear up with so much thankfulness and gratefulness that you are a gift that the Lord chose to give us. I will never, ever take that for granted. 

You arrived at 7:17 am on Monday, January 12 at United Regional L&D room 4412. Let me tell you your story. 

You’re the third born child of the Ben Hoover family. Your brother Grant is 4 and your sister Blair is 2. I remember growing up, wondering if I would ever be able to have my own biological children. I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was 8 years old and way back then, diabetics could have babies, but often there were birth defects, complications, stillbirths, anything terrible you could possibly imagine, associated with diabetic pregnancies. I remember reading through a pamphlet I found in a doctor’s office when I was 13 or 14 about how it was almost impossible to have a healthy baby as a diabetic. I remember grieving thinking I wouldn’t get to carry a child. Thank you, Jesus…look at us now. You are healthy and precious and beautiful and I absolutely believe that you are a miracle.

This pregnancy was a little rougher than the rest. I actually felt better physically because I worked out doing intense exercising called CrossFit until I was about 34.5 weeks pregnant. Despite the working out, my blood sugars were a lot harder to control this time. Partly due to running around after your siblings, partly from working nights, partly from a third pregnancy taking a toll on my body. I took anti-nausea medicine from 6 weeks to 22 weeks pregnant. I never took any medicine with your siblings. You just wanted to make your presence known. 

On Christmas morning, I was almost 35 weeks pregnant with you. I had told your Dad that I was getting so tired…that I was nearing the end of my rope in exhaustion after your Uncle John’s wedding, being sick with a sinus infection for almost a month, waking up 2-5 times a night with blood sugar and sensor readings, insomnia, your big brother and sister “sharing a room” that caused them to not go to bed until 10p every night, and working quite a few nights in L&D. Well, it was the truth because as I was loading the car with Christmas presents to leave for FW, I got really lightheaded and dizzy. I stopped, felt my pulse race, and realized my heart had gone into SVT. My pulse was about 250 beats per minute. I yelled for your Dad, who was out in the backyard hanging a zipline (pulling the cable tighter with his truck) in true Hoover fashion. He yelled at me back, telling me to chill out because he thought I was getting annoyed that he was so sidetracked with a project when we were supposed to be leaving. (Any other day I would have been.) “No,” I yelled, “I need you now!” I tried bearing down, blowing through a straw, every nurse trick I knew to bring down a heart rate but nothing worked. I started feeling faint so I said we need to go to the ER. Your dad drove like a maniac and I remember telling him that he was going to kill us all long before we ever got to the hospital. Thankfully, we survived and pulled into the ER parking lot. I didn’t want to go in…because who really wants to go to the ER on Christmas morning?! My anxiety started creeping in, and I started becoming short of breath, imagining what the fetal monitor would show, imagining that I could meet you via emergency c-section in the next 15 minutes, and I got out of the car and went in. I was quickly triage and taken to a room in the ER. (They don’t like seeing pregnancy women with cardiac issues in the ER.) I called L&D to tell them I was going to the ER, called Dr. Lamar on his cell phone and gave him a heads-up. (It’s nice to know your healthcare providers so well.) Long story made slightly shorter, I had an IV started and the doctor had just ordered adenosine (an IV med that basically stops and restarts your heart) to fix my rhythm. I told them they couldn’t give me the medication before I was on a fetal monitor. Sherry, one of my favorite nurses from L&D, was on her way to monitor me, and all of the sudden, after about an hour in SVT, my chest tightened up, I felt like I couldn’t breathe for a second, and my heart converted on its own. My pulse had dropped from about 235 to 103. Weird, weird feeling. Sherry got there with the monitor, your heart rate looked FABULOUS, they monitored me for another hour or so, then discharged me home to follow-up with a cardiologist. What a crazy little experience that was. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to phase you one bit though. And it bought me a two to three day break from dishes and picking up the house.

At my next appointment, Dr. Lamar and I agreed that the time to have a baby was sooner rather than later. Our original plan had been to be induced at 38 weeks. Both Grant and Blair broke their clavicle at delivery because my pelvis is oddly shaped (apparently) and not necessarily because they were big (8lb1oz and 8lb3oz), which can be a complication from uncontrolled blood sugars. So we thought an earlier delivery would help offset your size. Let’s just bump up that induction date to 37 weeks…

Thus, enter a psychotic nesting stage. Truthfully, I had done VERY LITTLE to prep for your arrival. Not because we didn’t love you, but because it’s kind of hard prepping for #3, whom you don’t know the sex of. Sarah Schneider did…but we didn’t. She made your name sign and ordered matching sibling shirts in advance, but that’s about all we had ready for you. (And tons of diapers. We did had diapers at least.) We had to finish moving Blair and Grant into the same room, and also felt this crazy need to paint our bedroom and bedroom ceiling. (Your parents are a little nuts sometimes. I’m sure you’ll figure this out one day.)

But Jesus helped me prepare for you on a lot of different levels. The week before your arrival, we had a sweet lady come clean the house on Wednesday, January 7, I worked my last night until your arrival on Thursday, January 8, I met with Sherril on Friday, January 9, and we talked about looking for Jesus in the room during your labor and delivery and thanking Him for what a unbelievable gift He was giving us. On Saturday, January 10, Sarah had bought and scheduled a prenatal massage. And then an unexpected twist…we actually put an offer in on a house that day…but that’s a whole different story. I was about as ready as I was going to be for your arrival.

So, on Sunday, January 11, we got up like normal, went to church with Grant and Blair, and were loved on and prayed for by “our people” here in Wichita Falls. Your Mimi came into town that afternoon because she was going to spend the night on Sunday and take Grant and Blair to school Monday morning while we were at the hospital. 

I ALMOST finished packing my bag and Dad BASICALLY finished painting the ceiling in our bedroom before we left for the hospital at 6:30p. We weren’t last minute at all…

We arrived at triage at about 6:45p for a foley bulb placement. I went to room 4414 where there were custom pads and panties decorated by my co-workers in celebration of  your arrival. “Push it, push it real good…Ring of Fire…Third Time’s a Charm…Don’t Break my tailbone…”were written all over them. Best nurses and friends in the world.

Dr. Lamar arrived about 7:10p to put in the foley bulb. The plan was to place it, tape it to my leg so it would mechanically dilate my cervix from 1.5cm to about 4 cm overnight, I’d be sent home, and then come back at 4:30a to start pitocin. Welp, it didn’t work like that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Things Ben Says

My husband says some funny stuff. Really, he does. And I'm going to post this story and I don't want to hear one..."Oh, Meagan," or "You look great," or "I can't believe he said that!" Because A. It's funny, B. It was the truth, and C. My self-confidence really is fine ;)

On Saturday night, I was getting ready for our church's small group adult Thanksgiving dinner. (That's a shortened version of saying, we have free babysitting and dinner from 6-8 p.m. with some of our besties that consisted of awesome soups, stews, candied apples and salted caramel brownies...and there's no way this preggo was missing it.)

My full-panel (go over your belly) maternity "skinny" jeans were dirty, so I had to improvise. I pulled out my second trimester appropriate under-the-belly skinny jeans, with a green long-sleeved thermal shirt, tall brown riding boots, and to add a little sass...a furry black vest. I will also note that my hair was down and curly..but not cute curly. Like, wet-cat curly because, THANK YOU JESUS, it had been raining all day. And I should also note...I think my green shirt has shrunk because it exposed the under portion of my growing abdomen when I breathed. (This, I did not realize at the time.)

I asked Ben, "Does this make me look...weird?"

Long pause.

Ben says, "Umm, it makes you look like a linebacker?"

I do not take offense...because he was totally right.

Being the 30-week-still-has-arm-muscles-crossfitter-preggo, I'm going to assume he meant that I looked like this:

Clay Matthews

Instead of this:

Sorry, Ryan Pickett, that your name came up when I googled "fat linebackers"

We will assume he meant it as a compliment and go on our merry little way. I mean, how else could you take it?!

That Ben. Gotta love the man. He speaks with such...honesty, love, and empathy. Never a dull moment.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Hello, blog. Nice to see you again...

Today, I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #forrealfriday. Some friends and I have been talking about Friday being dedicated to real life pictures. No fairy tales. No filters. Show me your sink full of dishes. Or your kids screaming. Or your cellulite. (Kind of kidding on the last one. But your cellulite may encourage me to post a pic of my new and very first varicose vein. Thanks, Baby Hoov #3.) Sometimes, most of the time, that's more encouragement than the cute pictures, clean home, and home cooked meal. After I posted those pictures, my sweet Facebook friends were so quick to come to my pregnant self's aid, immediately offering encouragement, a kind word, a "hang in there, momma." Funny thing is, it hasn't been a bad day. The pic of Blair screaming, Grant demolishing his newly-cleaned closet, Blair covered in chocolate bar in the car...that is what a regular day around here looks like. I just don't post pictures of it much. Because the clean, smiley, sparkling photos seem more appealing. But are they really? 

I made a promise to myself several years ago that transparency would be "my thing." I've lived on the other side of it. Unbearable pressure of seeming "perfect," always pleasing, quick to smile, use some fluff phrase of encouragement that really has no meaning behind it. Now, that sounds like a prison to me. So fake, so debilitating, so vomit-inducing. 

"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

What would the world look like if we walked up to each other and introduced ourselves like this:

"Hi, I'm Meagan. I'm a recovering perfectionist. I know what heartache feels like. I never got to break up with a boyfriend because they always dumped me first. I struggle with anxiety and depression though it may or may not be clinically diagnosed. I carry deep, deep wounds in my heart. <Filter: some things, you just shouldn't post about on the www> I have the best counselor in the world. Even as a 31-year-old, I struggle with my body image, especially when I'm pregnant and people ask if I'm having twins every day. There are days as a mom that I yell at my kids not because they did anything wrong, but because I'm in a terrible mood. Our marriage needs work. We both know it and yet, sometimes we don't want to put in the work to fix it. I've had diabetes for 22 years and sometimes I'm afraid that it may substantially shorten my time on earth. Money doesn't grow on trees and sometimes I fail miserably at managing ours. There are times I feel inadequate as a nurse and like a failure at work. Sometimes, I'm lonely and feel socially awkward. So, what's your name...?"

In all honesty, the world would probably be pretty dark and depressing if those were are standard introductions. We don't have to show each other all of our cards. You don't want to see all the dirty pictures of my life, nor do you want to see all of the squeaky clean ones either. THERE IS A BALANCE, FOLKS.

Maybe that means you open up about your struggling marriage to a friend. Or you find a counselor to talk to. (Oh, how I could go off an a tangent, and I will one day, about how there is not a SOUL IN THE WORLD who can't benefit from counseling.) Or you quit comparing what your life looks like in pictures to that of an Insta-friend's life. Or you don't lie when someone who loves you asks one of the most overlooked and under-answered questions around..."How are you?" <Disclaimer: You don't have to be a kill-joy. Don't have word vomit and spill your guts to everyone. Be discerning with when, whom, how, and what you share. Sometimes, it's just not appropriate.>

Because here's the deal: Jesus promised me that His Grace is sufficient, it's enough for me. HIS STRENGTH is made PERFECT in MY WEAKNESS. So when I show those less-than-perfect pictures and talk about my shortcomings as a wife, I am #1 being human, #2 inviting others to join in being free to be themselves, and #3 inviting Jesus to be showcased as stronger than my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Every stinkin' time I hear Ellie Holcomb's song, "The Broken Beautiful," I cry this really ugly cry. Which makes it even more awkward because it's quite an upbeat little tune. But the words...oh, the words...He takes me, a broken thing, and makes me beautiful.

I know that I don't bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There's days I wonder if You'll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would you remind me now of who You are?

That your love will never change,
that there's healing in your name
That you can take broken things,
and make them beautiful.
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So your love can taken broken things
and make them BEAUTIFUL.

I'm better off when I remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way

You say that You'll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness and cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That you can make the broken beautiful
You make us beautiful.

Thank God that He takes broken things and makes them beautiful.