Baby Registry List

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These are the must-haves and the didn’t-need essentials when you’re expecting your first baby. Of course it’s my opinion within the context of my own experience. Every baby is an individual person with different needs and wants. But I still think it’s a pretty universal starter kit from someone who had thoroughly researched baby items and scoured other blog lists on the internet only to find items I never needed 6 months into my first baby’s life. Now I’m on my second baby- a 3 month old- and, though they’re very different babies, the items that were useful still are and luckily I can reuse what I had. What a savings! Here’s the list:

  1. Rock and Play (I needed this with Isla, my first, but not with Wyatt, my second. With him we put him in the crib for sleeping but for her she spent a good deal of time sleeping in this next to our bed. I think she needed the rocking feature more than he.) 
  2. Diaper pail and refill bags
  3. Infant Tylenol
  4. Formula (start with a small sample to see which brands and kinds they like. My daughter liked Enfamil Gentle Ease and my son likes Similac  Pro Advance. With both my kids I never produced enough milk so I had to supplement with formula.)
  5. Baby Bath Tub
  6. Onsies and Pants
  7. Footed long sleeve body suits
  8. Fingernail clippers
  9. Bottle brush/dry rack
  10. Muslin burp cloths (These are the most absorbent.)
  11. Plush blankets and swaddle blankets
  12. Diapers/wipes
  13. Underarm thermometer
  14. Diaper rash ointment A & D
  15. Socks in 0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-24 months
  16. Diaper bag
  17. Bulb syringe and saline drops
  18. Kleenex
  19. Cotton hooded bath towels

    (They sell them in polyester which is so strange and non-absorbent. Make sure to get 100% cotton.)

  20. Mobile activity gym
  21. Baby body wash and bubble bath
  22. Baby bouncer
  23. Baby swing (We bought the 4moms swing and have hated it from day one. It starts knocking and bucking when the baby moves so I would do something like the link this time.)
  24. Newborn antiscratch mittens and the size up in case your baby is big. By 2 months you don’t need those anymore.
  25. Breast pump
  26. Bottles with various nipple sizes and ounces (nipple: NB, 1, 2, 3)
  27. Baby carrier (I didn’t care for the Boba fabric ones. I felt like the baby was falling down.)
  28. exersaucer (they love these when their core strength appears around 5 or 6 months)

 

Things that were useless:

  1. Pacifier thermometer
  2. Nursing pads (but I didn’t produce much milk)
  3. Baby powder (Advised not to use by pediatrics now.)
  4. Hoodies and t-shirts (Hoods get in the way and t-shirts ride up.)
  5. Bottle warmer
  6. Boppy (Although this did come in handy for my broken tailbone so maybe get one just in case.)
  7. Rubber duck that reads bath temp. Just use your wrist.
  8. A bunch of bath toys. Isla plays with 3 things.
  9. I barely used our porta crib. Don’t get a fancy one. Just a container for sleeping is all that’s necessary not the mobiles and changing stations and infant convertible stuff.
  10. A pacifier (neither of my kids used them)
  11. Stuffed animals. Isla just started carrying those around at 2 years old.

 

Also, things you’ll want for yourself:

Lavender Epsom salts (a few bags because you put a whole cup of them in the bath for sitz baths that your OB will want you to take 3 times a day. How on earth will you find time? I have no idea! I was lucky to do once a day. Another tip: no more than 15 minutes in a sitz bath each time. You do not want your stitches to fail like I experienced.) 

Pads

Maternity lounge pants (black) and maternity tank tops, a sweater, flip flops, maternity underwear (Black. Those mesh panties they give you are a joke. You can use your own underwear.) for the hospital.

Advil

Miralax (Colace did nothing for me and you do not want hard stool.) 

 

I hope this was helpful and just remember that these items just make parenthood more convenient but they shouldn’t be intimidating or overwhelming. And also, babies are just the best!

Baby Registry List

Central America’s Northern Triangle Migrant Crisis

The Associated Press published this article on the treatment of migrant children in the US.

These are the conditions in Honduras.

It is a criminal offense for individuals or media to engage in terrorism but the definition of terrorism is so broad that it includes peaceful protests.

A cyber security bill severely harms free speech by compelling companies that provide internet to censor content.

Security forces have opened fire on protesters demonstrating against voting corruption which has resulted in deaths.

3/4 of the 10,000 unit police force is corrupt, involved in embezzlement and organized crime.

Judges are not independent and face interference from the executive branch.

There is a dysfunctional justice system and low prosecution rates.

Honduras has the highest murder rate for a country not at war.

The current President doctored the constitution to allow for a second term causing a flash of protests.

Honduran citizens have no physical security, property rights, independent judiciary, political stability, rule of law, or functioning civil society. Similarly Guatemala doesn’t have these. Many factors in their history have contributed to the current condition of the northern triangle nations (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) such as foreign fruit tycoons exploiting workers, the local government seizing private farmland to sell off to fruit tycoon operations, dependency on one cash crop for economic sustenance (banana republic), severe crop blight that ravaged the economy, war, political revolutions, coups, Soviet-backed dictatorships, US disinterest in the region following the Cold War, inability to bounce back from these devastations. Simply put, they have a very poor people, very corrupt authorities and very criminal gangs.

So there is a humanitarian crisis in the region and many people are risking their lives to trek 1,000 miles with the intent of entering the US illegally, in fact half of migrants entered the US illegally in 2015.

Then there are pro-immigration advocacy groups who organize, orchestrate and coach migrants who are headed to the US-Mexico border. Instead of saying you’re coming to the US to work you should say you’re coming to the US because you’re fleeing persecution. In most cases that’s true. But it colors their migration with a belief that America is an open border nation when in fact we’re not. There is a rule of law migrants must adhere to, an immigration process. The destabilized nature of Central America is a deeply complex situation that has no simple fix. So migrants will keep coming. It’s not extraordinary for the US to want to guard its border, its resources and its people from the influx of a destitute people fleeing a destitute country. That’s a geopolitical statement.

Then there is the ethical sphere of the crisis. For the migrants that are here, what do we do about them? The US has a reputation that we adhere to, an ethical standard to treat people in a way that honors their civil rights. Especially the most vulnerable- children. Does that apply to illegal immigrants? I’m not asking a legal question. I’m asking an ethical question. My opinion is yes- when it’s children. Well that requires infrastructure spending to the tune of billions of dollars ($6 billion is one figure I read) to create medical facilities that languishing migrants are sent to so that they are removed from mere processing centers and detention facilities and treated humanely. We currently don’t have the infrastructure to be caregivers for migrants. The infrastructure we do have is for immigration processing but even that is not sufficient or efficient. There needs to be more immigration judges at the border streamlining immigration processes. There needs to be better communication within the levels of bureaucracy. When it’s an ethical question, we’re talking about throwing a lot of money and hands at the problem. Migrants depend on this inclination we have. They assume or at least hope that we overlook the criminal entrance for the sake of being humane. That’s a breathtaking undertaking though. How does a nation, even the most wealthy nation, be a guardian for all the destitute people of the world? How about just those on our doorstep? If I’m known as the lady who will always take in kittens the boxes of kittens on my doorstep will keep growing until I am maxed out.

Because the political stability remains rancid in the northern triangle, the ethical response will, ad infinitum, be exhausted. And everyone has an opinion to throw at it but what’s the solution? What’s for sure is the whole problem is devastating and emblematic of our existential fallenness. I think all US citizens have their heartstrings pulled for migrant children. A two year old put at risk by somebody (parents?!), but the risk they’re leaving is bigger than the risk they’re taking so he’s sent across a thousand miles, emaciated and sick he shows up at a US border facility that is a processing center, not a medical center, we have no border infrastructure to be his caregiver, in desperation he’s put in another older child’s care, agents scramble to find clean diapers for him (yes I’m willing to assume with confidence that the border agents are not sinister), fellow migrants try to convince him he can trust a shower. It’s all so devastating. And then the next month thousands more.

The problem is huge, there’s no simple solution and I don’t know where to begin. I think that’s where the forces that be find themselves too.

Central America’s Northern Triangle Migrant Crisis

Baby Boy

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This dedication is harder for me to write.

 

I wrote a dedication to our daughter, your sister Isla, when I was 27-weeks pregnant and now I’m 27-weeks pregnant with you and I want to write an address but I have so many fears linked to your sex. At our 14-week ultrasound we learned that you are a boy. At the 20-week ultrasound it was confirmed that you are a boy. Ultrasounds can be wrong so we will have a girl and boy name ready at birth but…It’s A Boy! This news was an acclimation. We already have a girl, whom we are familiar with and, well, why rock the boat? I grew up with sisters and we are a female dominated family. It’s what I know. Your father grew up with all brothers and the stories of his youth are rebellious. Is this rebellion your fate? I hope for a rebellion of a different kind; a revival!

 

All individuals are different so our boat will be capsized and we will either sink or swim, probably both in different seasons. I get wrecked with worry concentrating too much on my earthly efforts as your mother and the presumption that you will fall in line with cultural stereotypes, stereotypes that I have experienced personally. I worry that if I miss this lesson or that bad-influence friend I’ll lose you but… I never had you. Firstly, you’re God’s. Secondly, you’re yours. Mine you never are from beginning to end. Yet I will pour forth my heart for you and hope that you return the love. There is a duality that exists within parenthood. I am free from guilt because you are a soul, a body, a consciousness, and a conscience apart from me yet I am accountable for your direction. Not only me, your father too. Two floundering swimmers lost at sea. Two pitifully fallible people and the pressure is on to produce an upstanding progeny. Lord help us.

 

Who will you be? How will you hurt yourself, be hurt and hurt others? Will you be reckless, careless and danger attracted? These stereotypes scare me. Will you set sail into adulthood never bearing in mind to look back in my direction? You’ll be busy. Or worse, will you become lazy and indifferent? I remind myself I don’t have to worry so. You are not mine. But I will have to tread those turbulent waters. The current will be framed by your biological sex. How much you fall in line with stereotypical trends will be up to your spirit wrangling your nature. How hard you’ll have to fight and how strenuous your uphill climb will depend on those very unequal attributes you were given anatomically. Your nature will attract you to choices, what choice will you make? The man you’ll be, the spouse you’ll be, the neighbor you’ll be, and the son you’ll be is your pursuit. Even as I speak of who you will become, it’s never fixed.  You will choose anew every day and every season.  Will you choose the light or the dark?  I hope the attractiveness of the light outshines the dark.

 

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It’s providential that I’m having these anxieties in the Christmas season. As the Maker would have it there is a baby boy who, as a man, saved us sons and daughters. Christmas is the commencement of a life that will include deep suffering. In that image we, too, suffer but that suffering is followed by glory:

 

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” -2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Our suffering: “is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

 

So there is a boy that brings good news and I am pregnant with a boy who brings…who knows, but I’ve decided I’m joyful it’s a boy. I will joyfully receive this baby boy just as we receive Christmas.

 

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Like our daughter, I will look forward to the reward of that first smile, the month when you can sit up, the month when you can walk and the most rewarding so far; the months when you start talking. “I wuv you!” There is grace out there; hugs, kisses, laughter, funny moments, the brightness in a child’s eyes, even just holding hands. We are not alone son; that is our mercy. For, He rules the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, He stills them.

 

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

Baby Boy

Forgiveness

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Have you ever been hurt so badly that forgiveness seems like a contemptible commandment? Of course you have! Haven’t we all?! And even if your personal life has squeaked by largely unscathed there is the horror of the Holocaust that makes us remember. There is pain, misery, evil and death out there. Even in your home those things reside, rearing their head between moments of joy or peace, like a whack-a-mole. Can’t I just whack that thing once and for all? Do you find your exhaustion and your resentment festering until it becomes as C.S. Lewis describes- “a black we wish was blacker”? In other words, if you found out that some indicting point of view you have about someone is untrue would your reaction be ‘phew, he is not as bad as I thought’ or steadfastness in your indignation that your hatred has to be well founded? Aren’t we all guilty of the latter? We want people to be as guilty as our feelings sentence them with. But the former is the type of love forgiveness is rooted in.

 

Lewis thought Chastity was the most unpopular virtue. That is, until Forgiveness. We are called to love our neighbor as ourself but within that paradigm is your enemy. If everyone around you are idiots or more nefariously, corrupt, how can you love them? What does that look like?

 

Here is what forgiveness is not. It is not feeling fondly for the person. It is not finding them attractive. It is not thinking them nice when they have not been.

 

“This is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making them out that they are not really such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are.” –C.S. Lewis

 

Forgiveness does not reduce the hatred we feel for the wretchedness of the wrongdoing. We ought to hate it. It does not mean that the subject of the wretched act ought not be punished. Punishments and governing authorities are anointed to administer earthly justice. Deserved punishment is a wrongdoer’s right as a human being. Because we are ‘selves’ or self conscious sentient beings or made in the image of God (whichever way you want to put it), because we have that level of dignity above all other creatures and life forms on the planet is why just deserts matter. Forgiveness doesn’t negate retributive justice. So, depending on the trespass, jail or prison or death may be necessary. For the Gestapo this is necessary. But even in the execution of the punishment we should, as Lewis says, “feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves- to wish that they were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good.”

 

What does forgiveness look like for a spouse, friend or family member who hurt us personally? It means loving someone who is sometimes unlovable. But then, are you yourself, ever unlovable? Yes. We all are. Whether it’s that I must always be right or that I mentally reduce my loved ones to fools when their interests or idiosyncrasies or delights seem below me. Whether it’s having unreasonable standards or being perfectionist. Whether it’s glossing over my own wretchedness to go out of my way in pointing out theirs. Whether it’s my impatience, my intolerance, my misunderstanding, my anger, my rudeness, my frustration: MY EGO, these all make me deplorably unlovable. Even in my ‘noble’ hope that my loved one be cured of their unlovable affliction, which is an aspect of holy forgiveness (we are called to approach forgiveness with hope for redemption) we still miss the mark with this focus. Even reading this essay you have someone else in mind. You’re thinking of someone who may or may not deserve your forgiveness. Which leads us to what forgiveness IS.

 

Lewis sums it up so well here:

 

“For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life- namely myself. However much I dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

 

Isn’t that sharp?! There is someone in this universe that you always go out of your way to forgive. Yourself. When you’ve done something awful (and you have! We all have.) how long does it take you to forgive yourself, an hour, a day, maybe for the more brooding personality a month? Then you carry on enjoying your own company and finding yourself quite worthy and deserving of good things. That is what forgiveness looks like. But what forgiveness is is this: love your neighbor as yourself. It’s a challenging call because ‘our self’ is our constitution that we’re stuck with, that we can’t be rid of, that we can’t abandon so forgiving it is not only built in but necessary. Another’s self isn’t lodged in our being. We can abandon it. But how much more selfless and good and glorious is it to choose to love an abandonable person than the automatic and choiceless act of loving ourself? You would wish your loved one would choose love for you. Through your wretchedness, your guilt, your sorrow you wish for forgiveness and love from them.

 

So do they from you.

 

Forgiveness says, you have done an evil thing; nevertheless, I will not hold it against you. I love you.

 

This is why forgiveness is unpopular, radical and HARD. But for ourselves it is simple. We should extend the generosity we give ourselves to other people. That is love.

 

To love is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully in your hobbies and your vices, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safely in the coffin of your selfishness. But in the coffin- safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to heartbreak isn’t safety, it’s damnation. The only place you can be free from the danger of love is Hell.

– paraphrase of C.S. Lewis

 

 

Forgiveness

With Life Comes Death

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Ever since my daughter’s birth there has been a looming… I really couldn’t put my finger on it… just, a wave of mourning. I feel scandalized putting this intimate feeling to print. It recently occurred to me what this funereal feeling is. Each month I look forward to with my child is a month of my finite and mortal life that has passed by. She just turned one and a whole year, poof, gone. For her, each day is the beginning of the rest of her life while my days are half used up. With the birth of the next generation in my little family I have intrinsically passed the torch. She is the flame bearer. Now my days are spent grooming her to blossom. I no longer matter as much. My contribution was born and now I wilt into the background. It is my daughter’s turn. Don’t get me wrong, I love that she is just beginning and I get to witness all her firsts just as my mother witnessed all my firsts. I wonder if my mother felt the weight of entropy in her life as I took my first steps, as I moved out of the house, as I moved on with my life?

 

I had never been afraid of death. I smugly felt ‘if my time is up it’s up’ as is a luxury of youthful thought. Two things afford a young person this carelessness. The first is that they haven’t acquired many things they love yet and the second is that death is a far off threat. How will I feel when I’m 60? How will I feel when I or my husband get cancer? I think I will wonder, “How did I get here?”

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Letting the days go by.

-Once In A Lifetime by The Talking Heads

Isla makes me afraid of death. She will enjoy the years that have already passed for me and then she will lose me just as I will lose my mother. None of us quivers in our boots at funerals because we are still alive taking for granted all the days we’re endowed with. We drive away, get back to our kids sports practice, go to sleep, wake up. The sun is on time. We continue living. Eventually our family photos end up in a dusty flee market and the future buys them up for Halloween decorations.

 

There are generations of influential people in graveyards. Are there more dead than living? This is a tangent, but did you know there are thousands of pieces of debris orbiting the planet in low-earth space? Thousands of pieces of junk left behind by previous generations tethered to our conscious. The memories and buried bodies of people are earthly relics tethered to our conscious. We know they existed because there are traces of evidence but their imprint is a whisper in the wind until it becomes untethered and gets swallowed up by the universe.

 

So while Isla’s body is feverishly repairing and replacing cells my body is rusting. Eventually I will have crossed the threshold and my body will degenerate. I will grow mindful and ruminating while my daughter has perhaps bore a daughter herself. Finally I will breathe my last breath, drift off into the supreme deep sleep, and my daughter will hold a funeral. I will be remembered until some day I’m not. By then a fourth generation will take her first steps.

 

What is it all for?

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As I become more acutely aware of my limited days I can’t help but feel panicked. I don’t want to die.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

Mama, I don’t wanna die

-Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

How do I not languish in despair? I am in bondage to death.

 

This is how.  I know of no other way.

 

We do not lose heart, although our outer body is decaying, our inner soul is being renewed day by day. We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly body is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, a house eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this temporal life we groan, being burdened, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. His life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage.

-paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10

 

While someday I will be done here, I will not be finished.

With Life Comes Death

mother!

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This is an artistic film. I think the thrilling scenes are enough to carry a mainstream viewer but the artistic pace toward the climax is slow. Or rather concealed. Evil doesn’t start out bombastic and in your face, it starts with little background-noise slights and then more overt wrongs until it scandalizes into grand evil. Film critics have had contrasting reactions from “vile, contemptible, an embarrassment to Paramount Studios” to “riveting, masterpiece, visually striking.” It is downright Aronofsky and should be sealed with his family crest!

 

This nightmare (is this a dream?) is a Christian allegory.  That’s what I see.

 

‘He’ (Javier Bardem) is the Creator God, the houseguests are depraved mankind, the baby is the expiating Christ given as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, the carbon crystal is the seed of life and the forbidden fruit (the perfect genesis that belongs to God alone).

 

But who or what is mother?

 

Some critics have said this is a story about mankind ravaging mother earth, where Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘She’ (there are no names of characters only Him, Her, She and He) is the world. I think that’s too lazy an interpretation. There are too many things that wouldn’t add up. If it’s a lecture on the despicable way we treat the earth then what does the innocent son of man have to do with it? What of God’s taking earth’s love and recreating? It seems God’s preoccupation is with man. He says, for a creator “there is never enough.” Else, there would be no creation. He must bore forth. For the act of creating is out of desire to yield something ‘other’ than thou. God’s constitution is conceiving. He conceived of the earth but his fondness is for humanity.  This has me thinking about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Christian Trinity- that perfect relationship, why more, why us? I’m not sure this film presents the relationship between God and His creatures in accord with Christian doctrine but it is an allegory and a work of art. That these themes are even given screen time is groundbreaking to me in an industry that’s void of existential thought beyond ‘I’.

 

If She isn’t simply mother earth could she be Lucifer? Lucifer after all is a fallen angel who had protected the throne of God just as She protects His writing room and His cherished tree of life- the carbon crystal. There is also great parallel of His poet’s words and the word of God. There is even anointing done with ashes, by God and his priest, of his fan followers, blessing them; “receive his words.” The allegory goes on. Lucifer was exceedingly beautiful. Lucifer grows loathsome of service to God. ‘She’ is a stridently sacrificial yet jealous character. Yearning to have Him to herself, to have His gaze exclusively upon her, to have first priority when viewing His work of art. Then Lucifer is cast out of heaven and upon judgment is burnt by fire and disintegrated into ash. Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘she’ forebodes about the apocalypse. The narrative in mother! displays genesis through the book of revelation.

 

Or maybe lowercase mother is simply a person. She is the commoner with the womb that carries Jesus. The same person who seeks a word with him on his walk up to Calvary to whom he says “My mother is someone who hears the word of God and does it.” Lawrence’s She is sick of God’s plans for their household. She is the commoner that is enchanted, even moved, by God’s word but doesn’t accept the radical regeneration that’s required. Her idea of service is still prideful. She doesn’t do it 100% for God, she does it for herself. The home is her work, the womb is her work. He receives praise for His work, She wishes for praise for Hers. This isn’t simply a presentation of misogynistic burden shouldered by women. All un-regenerated people are saturated in self-glory, unable to free themselves from that outlook.  Unable to abide the leadership of Him.

 

There are plenty of stories in the bible that have God resetting the course. Outmoding animal sacrifice for the ultimate blood sacrifice Jesus Christ, Noah’s ark and the great flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. Now, whether the recreation in the film means God as a frustrated amateur that just can’t seem to get it right and narcissistically scraps His work so that He can receive more love, more adoration next time or God as the perfect creator that, out of abundance of love, painstakingly gives second chances, there is artistic license with this. Does the creator ‘He’ create out of an absence and a desperation for more or out of an abundance and a selfless choice to share?

 

This film reminded me a lot of Aronofsky’s earlier works. There were beautiful cinematic scenes that reminded me of several films. There was Requiem For A Dream in the pulsating organic walls and delusional visions. I saw Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist with the opening and closing sequences of nature insidiously consuming civilization with its tentacles. I saw Gone Girl in the scenes of the crazed fans and paparazzi. I saw Children Of Men with the war ravaged trenches and slummed refugee camps. The decent into Hell was almost as if an elevator were taking you through the generations of the earth’s crust with each layer being an egregious era in mankind’s history.

 

One thing Aronofsky got spot on is the depravity of man. And I’m not talking about the stereotypical political jargon that a bleeding heart (no pun intended) would sentence you with but rather the curse we’re ALL under. One thing that struck me is the brilliant way Lawrence’s She, whether Lucifer or person or planet, is cast as someone you’re sympathetic for. Of course!…the barging in of houseguests should incense her, of course she shouldn’t forgive the ravenous mob, of course she should be paid more attention to for her sacrificial acts of service and steadfast support of her poet-genius. Of course She should have glory! That’s how mysterious, how outside our mortal comprehension, how ugly to our unregenerate souls, God’s plan is. We see Her as painfully taken advantage of and flogged again and again to the point of total annihilation while He coolly forgives. What is justice for Her? It would be too simple to present sin as the mob but the road to Hell is paved with human good intentions that are apart from His plan. God’s plan is so radical, so rebellious, that forgiveness for a murderous mob is among his orchestration. Certainly God’s justice is mysterious to us. Where His radical love and justice leads in the bible versus where it leads in the film are different paths.

 

There are so many layers to this film I need to see it again. I’m delighted to see such transcendent themes in a star-studded film. It makes you wonder, like Michael Knowles said in the Daily Wire, if Aronofsky hasn’t paid lip service to the Mother Earth interpretation simply to con mainstream audiences into watching the Bible for two hours.

mother!

A Reflection On The Life Of Our Baby Girl

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Nine months ago I wrote a prayer for our unborn baby when I was 27 weeks pregnant. Now our baby girl is 25 weeks old and I was not wrong about my own struggles. There is a huge amount of helplessness a parent feels for their child. When she bursts into sobs after previous contentment you try the few desperate consolation tricks you know and then you dissolve into an exasperated defeated shoulder shrug. You have no idea what’s wrong. Then she’s sick with pinkeye and a cold and has a 101 fever and you don’t know what to do. You ask your husband what to do and he, likewise, doesn’t know. Meanwhile someone’s life is in your hands. You are her creator and her sustainer.  You are her anchor; an anchor that is ill weighted sliding across the bedrock while the boat is kicked up by storm.

You find that it’s a relief when your sister, mother or mother in law (anybody!) wants to hold her because all the baby does at this point when she’s not eating, sleeping and filling diapers (and those things have easy remedies, phew) is a lot of looking around. Looking around while in the bouncer, looking around while on her playmat, looking around in your arms, looking around in the stroller. The looking around and smiling is nice. She’s content. She’ll even let you snuggle her for 5 seconds straight. But then it wears into fussing and there’s nothing more to offer of locations and positions of looking around so what now? You want to hold her? Be my guest. I tell myself I’ll understand her better when she can walk and talk and that happens soon, right? Well no, not soon. Come to find out, full articulated sentences don’t happen until they’re 25 years old so I think I’m in for it.

Still, and this is our purpose as parents, right?  My one goal for Isla is goodness. Not chiefly goodness for her (though I wish her that joy too) but goodness from her and I constantly wonder how soon the instilling of that starts. I find that, often, I’m waiting for some demarcated time when this or that starts. I’ve come to realize that life just happens, it’s happening while you’re waiting and then you’ve missed what you should have been doing the whole while. It’s easy to view your child as a baby still, even when they’re 15 or 24 months old. To view them too young to grasp lessons but I read somewhere that as early as 9 months your child learns the tool of manipulation. I believe behavioral expectations are best instilled early on so when do I start? At 5 months old she obviously doesn’t intend to scratch or hit, that’s just her primitive reflexes and motor skills still being refined. But soon it won’t be an accident and how do I reason with her then? And what about the lesson your child wants to engage you in? Children have a way of revealing their souls to you when you’re running 15 minutes late for work or when it’s well past bedtime. Will I miss moments because life is passing, I’m exhausted and I didn’t hear the movie soundtrack cue: crucial life defining moment happening in 3, 2, 1?

What will her genetically given personality be? This really frightens me. I will try my best to groom her to fight her nature. This is what civilization is; fighting one’s nature for the well-being of the collective and the well-being of one’s own life as the natural state of humanity is barbarism. But a parents guidance only goes so far and then it’s just eccentricities of her personality at work. Will she be naturally strong-willed, will she be stubborn, will she be easily angered? Will she be laid back, will she be understanding, will she be empathetic? How hard will she have to fight her nature to be civilized and how hard will it be for me to wrap my mind around her eccentricities and imagination.

Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.  -C.S. Lewis

How big of a deal will the arguments of ‘keeping your bottom on the seat and your feet on the ground’ be for her future? Will my laziness in this area lead to a laissez-faire adult that doesn’t respect or have reverence for personal property and etiquette? How do I groom her with my values when my values are more and more archaic by modern standards?

Not only will I be fighting my child’s will but I will be fighting popular culture to raise my child as well. Popular culture will be telling her that her desires are paramount to any old crusty institutionalized idea of truth. In fact she’ll hear that there is no objective truth only one’s own made up conclusions on the matter. She’ll hear that the only area that the concept of ‘universal’ is applied to is love. Love is all you need, right? When I tell her “wrong” I will be chiseling through layers and layers of cultural-consciousness sediment that will feel violating to her. Man, do we have our work cut out for us.

I’m not sure God wants us to be happy. I think he wants us to love, and be loved. But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and the whole world is our nursery. Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others, and that something is suffering.      -C.S. Lewis

Yet…

Isla is on the verge of a belly laugh. She hasn’t gotten there yet. So far her giggle is more of an ‘aheh’ sound but I eagerly look forward to the day of the full belly laugh. And I still look forward to dandelion seeds blown off a stem for the first time through her eyes. She has already seen the sky and I the reflection in her eyes. Not too long until she understands what ‘the sky’ means in all it’s vast and glorious beauty. There is a whole universe out there created for only one small and precious Isla and when her eyes light up with the knowledge of that I can’t wait to see the reflection of God casting back at me.

God lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.  -C.S. Lewis

A Reflection On The Life Of Our Baby Girl