Monday, December 23, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is a Lint-Free Fro: My Unconventional Christmas List

I recently saw a post going around Facebook of a 10-month-old's Christmas list. It was surprisingly accurate, and even though Naomi isn't 10 months yet, nearly everything on the list applied to her. I figured I might as well make a list for myself. Moms want stuff for Christmas too, ya know!

1. A lint-free fro.
My fabulous fro. Don't look too closely.
I've never been much of a hair enthusiast. I typically do the bare minimum I must do to not be bald and that involves washing, conditioning, and LOC method (liquid. oil. cream.) Thank GOD for my natural Af-Am hair that doesn't have to be washed daily; otherwise I would most definitely be on the road to baldness. So I do this stuff to my hair, feel good about having done it, then end up rolling around on the carpet playing with Naomi. I used to love my big poof and always ensured before leaving the house it had no specks of white throughout lest it be mistaken for dun-dun-dun-dunnnn... dandruff. Ever since becoming a mom, it's a good day if I've picked my fro out, let alone checked it for lint. When I go somewhere with friends or family, someone inevitably comes up behind me saying, "Hold still!" and begins picking little pieces of carpet out of my hair. Sigh. I want my lint-free fro back!

2. To shave

Now I know it's winter time, and most people, including myself, probably consider this winter break from shaving. (Unless of course, your first day of winter it's in the 70s like it was here in the metro DC area...) There comes a point when bear legs are simply unacceptable though. I'm happy to say that I can now cross this off my list because I just shaved for the first time in....I'm not telling how long. Usually I'm rushing through my showers, hoping to get through them before Naomi notices I'm gone. There have been times I've planned to shave and the time won't be on my side or Naomi isn't on my side haha. And I usually have to choose between shaving or washing my hair. Never both. Hair always wins. Oh well. And speaking of showers...

3. To shower until the hot water runs out
It used to be this way.
Well, this actually isn't too hard to do since our hot water heater seems to empty pretty fast. But I remember the days pre-baby when the hubs would ask me after I got out the shower if I saved any hot water for him. That's because I'd be there that long. I can't remember the last time he asked me that question because I pretty much always have to rush. It's hard to enjoy a shower when your baby is in the room next door screaming like the crib you've temporarily placed her in is a prison. I long for the times when I could get in the shower and spend the majority of the time just standing there enjoying the hot water...then rushing to clean myself before it cools down lol. A little something like that comic.

4. A day without nursing

Yeah, yeah it's mostly my fault that this isn't possible. The fact is, as much as I want to be done breastfeeding, I don't want it bad enough to go through the struggle of weaning Naomi, and she certainly isn't ready to stop. But oh, to wear a dress or shirt that I don't have to worry about being able to feed her in, to get rid of the ugly nursing bras, and not constantly feel...used... (okay, that last one was a bit dramatic). Oh well. Such is life motherhood. A girl can dream.

5. To wear a real purse.
My luggage. AKA purse. AKA diaper bag. Bulky, but I actually love it since it doesn't scream I AM A MOM AND MY BABY HAS TAKEN OVER MY LIFE. Pink and purple and flowers and polka dots may be on everything else, but I draw the line at the bag!
Yeah, I know the days will come when I won't always have to lug around luggage a diaper bag. For the time being, I pack in case of 2 emergencies, not one, because you better believe that the day I decide that there is no need to bring all this stuff because I never use it is the day that the worst diaper blowout in the history of blowouts is bound to happen. I was so surprised the other day when I was cleaning my room and came across a pile of purses I used to use. I used to coordinate with what I would wear!! Now that seems so frivolous haha. But I wouldn't mind doing that again. I used to think my purses were big and that I carried too much stuff in them. With a baby now I know that that was complete nonsense.

6. An un-timed date with the Husband

The other day Jeremiah and I were chuckling about how we sometimes used to just be getting started with our dates around 9-10pm at night. We would hop up and do stuff and come back home in the wee hours of the morning. Now we know that the max an outing can be without Naomi is a maximum of 3-4 hours. A movie, basically. I can't tell you the amount of times that we have fed Naomi and literally ran out the door. (Not many actually lol.) It's a pretty funny sight though. Yay for pumping but with my picky child, she wants ME. Yay. That's motherhood though, and I've counted the cost. Even still, I think that in spite of my hyper-protective tendencies I will soon embrace the idea of an overnight babysitter.

7. My memory back
Something like that.
Mom-brain is real, ya'll.  I used to pride myself on my fantastic memory, but now if it isn't written down, it either didn't happen or it isn't happening. Take this blog post for example. I had already come up with what I wanted my Christmas list to be, but I humorously relied on my memory to get it all down. Haha! Oh well. It's okay. At least my memory is still better than my husband's *wink*wink* ;-)

Well I guess I'm done guys, since I can't remember anything else. In all seriousness though, spending Christmas with my family is all I need!

What unconventional things are on your list this year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm moving forward from loss

I was in the kitchen. I moved to the side as my husband opened the oven to pull out a pan of chicken.

"You know, I'll just be glad when I'm out of the first trimester."

"Why's that?"

"Then I'll feel better with knowing that these are just the regular pregnancy aches and pains and the chances of a miscarriage will go down." We had found out just a few days before that baby number two was on the way, and according to my calculations, I was between 5 and 7 weeks into the first trimester.

He sat the pan on the oven and pulled me into his arms. "But you have to know that even if we do have a miscarriage and God allows for that to happen, we'll be okay."

"I know we will," I said. "I would just be devastated." I paused as my throat choked up a bit from the thought. "This is a little different from when we had Naomi. That time it was kinda surprising and we weren't really planning on it, and there were so many mixed emotions on my end. This time we talked about it and stuff, so I was, well I am so excited! So I would just hate for something to happen."

He hugged me a little tighter. "I know you would babe, and I would too, but we have to keep remembering that God is always in control. He works out everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away--"

"Blessed be the name of the Lord. I know, babe."

"We'll be okay, babe. We'll be okay."


This was the night before I miscarried our second child.

The morning started off normal enough. Jeremiah went off to work, and I rested a bit longer because I wasn't feeling too well. And by rested a bit longer, I mean that once Naomi woke up at 7-7:30am, I fed her, changed her, and brought her back to bed with me. I willed her to sleep (yes, willed) and finally got more rest myself.

I woke up cramped.

Naomi woke up too, so I fed her again, and we started our day. Down the stairs, into the living room, pulled out the books and the toys. She laughed and played and I used her distraction as a moment to finally go to the restroom. What I saw looked different, and even though I didn't really know, I already knew.

I had no time to think about it, because as I headed down the flight of stairs, I was shocked to find that my 7 month old daughter had climbed halfway up the steps! (When did she learn to do this!!?) Bathroom trip forgotten, I thought not of my unborn baby, but only of the child who had already exited my womb and stood before me on the staircase with wide, wondering eyes. I calmly went down and snatched her up, praising the Lord that my little girl hadn't fallen backwards onto the wood floor. Gate time!

With Naomi safely in my arms, my mind turned back to the bathroom trip, and I picked up the phone to call my husband. "I should probably go to the doctor," I said. "Or the ER, since they'll probably send me there anyway."

Fast-forward and the husband is home, and we're sitting on the couch, and I'm on the phone with a nurse who says, Well I may as well wait until my already-set doctor's appointment the next day, because if I was having a miscarriage, there was nothing I could do. Gee, thanks.

I hang up the phone, and burst into tears, and go to the bathroom, and saw my fears confirmed. Blood.

I head down the stairs, more tears and this time I can't stop. "We're going to be okay," the husband tells me. I think he's talking about our unborn child, and I shake my head no. No! Don't tell me that! Because everything may not be okay. Just tell me everything could be okay. It could.

But he tells me no, and tells me that it will be okay, we will be okay. And I shake my head because he has no idea what he's talking about. We pray--he prays, and I silently ask for His will to be done.
On the way to the hospital, I realize I made a trip just like this when I was pregnant with Naomi, and guess what? Everything was just fine. So I told Jeremiah, Everything could be okay, right? He responded by saying that yes, everything will be okay.

We're at the hospital, and right after me, someone checks in complaining of cramps. She was 9 weeks pregnant. This happens, I told myself. I could be okay.

And so I waited and I saw the doctor, and I peed in the cup, and I had my blood drawn, and I had the ultrasound, and I had the pelvic exam and during each and every test I told myself no news could be good news. I could be okay. Our baby could be okay. I still tried to brace myself for the worst though.

Then the worst came as the doctor got straight to the point--I had a complete miscarriage. At first I thought I wouldn't cry, but the tears came and kept coming. I listened as he told me that the pregnancy hormone left in my blood was basically negligent. Though I knew I was between 5-7 weeks, I'd never know exactly when I miscarried. I'd never hear my little one's heartbeat or see them on an ultrasound. He told me that he and his wife miscarried their first child and that it was okay to grieve. He said I was healthy and able to try again whenever I was ready and that the blessing in the midst of it was that I'd need no further medical attention. There was nothing else to be done.

He left the room and my husband held me and our sweet Naomi, and it hit me how blessed I really am. But it still hurt, really hurt, and I could not. stop. crying. I used up the tissue box, and asked for another and the nurse came in the room with a new one and comforting words.

We got on the road and just drove. And drove. Out of our city. Into DC. Jeremiah took me over to a place of joy, the place where he proposed, and my mind went back a few years. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and I remember that tree on the National Mall. It was huge and beautiful against the night sky, rivaled only by the pretty ring I kept looking at on my left hand. The verse popped into my head. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desired fulfilled is a tree of life."

Tears followed that verse coming to mind, but this time I wasn't dwelling on the tree of life, but the hope deferred. I wasn't mad. I wasn't bitter. I was just sad. Just...sad.

In hindsight the Lord was preparing me for this loss long before I knew I was pregnant. Different conversations I had with other women about miscarriages they had, coming across research about the amount of women who miscarry, sometimes without even knowing it. Even an episode of 19 Kids and Counting where the Duggars lost a child. All this before conceiving, before knowing I had conceived, before knowing I had lost the child I'd barely known about for a week.

I didn't know all that stuff was preparation, but it was. Because each and every time miscarriage came up, I would question whether I was willing to surrender the outcome of each and every pregnancy to the Lord. It scared me to even think about losing a pregnancy, let alone accepting that it could happen and that the Lord could have a plan for it. I just kept thinking, If I accept this, if I surrender future pregnancies to the Lord before they happen, I am basically guaranteeing that I'll have to go through that pain. It was a terrible way of thinking, but I went through that thought process and eventually got to the point that I believed what God said. ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He knows the plans that He has for me and they're plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I can rejoice in suffering knowing that it would produce perseverance, which would produce character, which would produce hope. I knew it in my head, but had to believe it in my heart:  There is no pointless pain the life of a believer.

So that conversation between my husband and I? It was like my final moment of acceptance. Of surrender. I hadn't talked to him about miscarriage before that point, and it happened just in time.

The day of the miscarriage/hospital visit and the next few days that followed really put this surrender and trust to the test. I found out that at the same time I was in the hospital finding out about my miscarriage, a friend was in the hospital finding out that she was pregnant. 5 weeks along. What I could have been. A few days after that, I had a baby shower to go to which was joyous and bittersweet all at once. Conversations about pregnancies, pictures on Facebook, people jokingly asking when the next one is coming... All innocuous in and of themselves, stuff that typically wouldn't bother me. Now it seems like anything could plant a seed of bitterness in my heart.
So far, thankfully, that seed has not taken root. It's not that I've hardened my heart to what's happened. It's just that I know being bitter would take glory away from the Lord. Though He didn't change the outcome of the pregnancy, He clearly prepared me in advance. That fact was so plain to me that I had to, I have to worship and thank Him for that. I know my grieving process, even my recovery process could have been much longer and much more painful. I have been spared that, and I don't take it for granted. It definitely still hurts at times, but I can honestly say that I am doing well. I've learned that having an open hand when the Lord's given me something makes it easier to let go if He chooses to take it back. My child was His before he was mine. His to give. His to take.

I can't say I can all of a sudden relate to everyone who's had a miscarriage. There are people who lose their child when they're much further along. There are those who try and try to get pregnant and finally do, then for whatever reason the pregnancy ends. There are so many different, painful circumstances that occur that it would be impossible for anyone to relate to EVERYONE. But something that I take comfort in as a believer is that when I am tempted to be bitter about how things turned out, I don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses. He was tempted, as I am, and He was yet without sin. I can confidently go before the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need!! What a blessing! What a promise!!

My husband kept telling me that everything would be okay, and I kept thinking that he had no idea what he was talking about. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized that he wasn't just talking about the baby. He was talking about, well, life I guess. We're okay. God has given us each other and sweet Naomi. We've only gotten closer as a family because of this experience. We have Christ, who works all things, including my miscarriage, together for the good. I've been able to know Christ as my Comforter in a whole new way.

He said everything would be okay. And we are. More than okay really. We're moving forward.

Verses. Quotes. Inspiration.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a Struggling Mom: I Am Not A Superhero

Written around September 28, 2013

Giving birth has easily got to be among the top five greatest things I've ever done in life.  In fact I think it's resume-worthy. Not just for me, but for all moms! Before you think my life must be really boring for saying that, try picturing this. On average, a 6-7 pound baby coming out of an unnatural place of your body, which turns out to be totally natural. Or having your belly sliced open to pull out a miniature human. It's like something out of a science fiction movie, yet for some reason many look at it as something so regular and normal that it often gets bypassed as mundane. Uh, no. Absolutely not. Nothing boring or ordinary about childbirth, my friends.

I think what can come along with this mindset is the idea of this unwritten code for moms. The world says your life is ordinary and mundane? Well then act like it, even if that's not what you're feeling. Having a hard time with this job this is just a normal part of life? Well, keep it to yourself, because you're supposed to be enjoying it and that's all anyone wants to see. I mean, I swear no one really wants to know what's really going on in my life. Sometimes I may talk to someone with every intention of sharing how un-glamorous and difficult my life is and how it's a daily struggle. Not to complain, but to honestly bare my heart with the hopes of having someone encourage me and point me in the right direction, or at bare minimum let me vent. But then the gushing begins. The person shares their idea of what my reality is, and then I clam up. After all, who am I to burst their bubble? Yes, motherhood is nearly as perfect as you say, I say.

What I've come to notice is that people are all over you and drinking in what you have to say when you're talking about what a blast being a parent is. But you get started talking about the hard stuff, those people you were chatting up become shrinking violets and they want nothing to do with you. Or, or instead of recognizing that you are sharing your true heart is a cry for affirmation or dare I say assistance, they think you're complaining or worse, exaggerating, so they try to one-up you. Oh, you think this stage is hard now, they say, you just wait til they get to this stage; then you'll really have it hard.  And while this does happen between moms and non-parents, I'm talking about moms talking to other moms here! 

And so it begins. Or continues, I should say. The mom code. Negative experiences? Keep it to yourself. Struggling with a new baby? Unless you're less than six weeks postpartum, suck it up. Oh and you have more than one kid? You should already be used to it so you really should be quiet. Having regrets or second thoughts about the life you've chosen (or not chosen) for yourself? Again, suck it up or else sound like you hate your life and your baby and family. Struggling with depression? Don't you know that women have been birthing babies for thousands of years? Duh, there's down times but get over yourself! That's selfish to be so focused on your emotions and not those of your family.

The list could continue on and on. Reason after reason why we should soldier on through our struggle, not for the sake of our family or child but because this weighty title of Mother as defined most frequently by those around us deems it necessary for survival.
I'm thinking there are a few issues here. Somewhere along the line other, older moms forgot that they too were moms and had struggles themselves. Somewhere along the line we forgot that we're Christians before anything else and should be gracious to our fellow sisters in Christ, whether we understand or can relate to their struggle or not. Somewhere along the line we forgot that as members of this body of believers we should always be building up (edifying), not tearing down. Somewhere along the line we adopted this idea that a Mother is a superhero. And sure, she may be in the eyes of a child or spouse, and props to you if you feel you've mastered your role. Forgive me if I'm going out on a limb here, moms, but really? Can I just be honest with you? We aren't superheroes. We aren't invincible, and we have struggles like other mere mortals. Certainly we have to deal with them in ways that other childless people don't have any clue about, but--and I'm just speaking for myself here--I've found that trying to turn myself into some sort of super human limits me from really recognizing that its okay to struggle. To need help. To be depressed. To regret. To be human. 

So where do we go from here? What is to be gained by sharing all these things? Maybe this is more for me than you. Because I know I need to come clean. My life hasn't been nearly as perfect as I've made it sound at times. I'm pretty sure I had postpartum depression and sometimes I still wonder what my life would be like baby-free. I really want more children, but at the same time I kinda want my own life. Am I selfish? Where am I in all this? Am I allowed to have goals and aspirations that have nothing to do with family life?

I already know that there are those of you who shun the idea of looking at your life that closely. In fact you've probably already shut me out. How dare you question the position you're in? Don't you know motherhood is a blessing? Don't you know people would give their right arm to have their own child? (Yeah, being made to feel guilty for having a child.... Fantastic.) Don't know you know how selfish you sound? Don't you know this? Don't you know that? Don't you know you're making moms look bad and weak? 

There. There's the question. Because that is absolutely what I'm doing. I'm done trying to appease this ever-changing image of what mom looks like or should act like or should be. I'm challenging it and examining it and not just in my own eyes, I'm putting it up against the Word, because when did other moms start becoming the standard instead of the Word anyway?

If you haven't figured it out yet guys, I haven't figured it all out. I'm the mom of one child and she's seven months old and her and her daddy are. my. WORLD. But even still I'm struggling with this thing called motherhood, and I'd be lying to you if I said anything otherwise. But I won't stop living. I won't wait to share my experiences until I've "gotten it all together." I'm going to be transparent, keep going, and lean hard into grace and new mercies because if there is one thing that I have figured out it's that there is no way I will learn and grow in this role without it. In fact I'm living in moment to moment grace. So as I start this journey, let me say this now: I won't always have a solution or a way to make all things right. But I'm also not trying to be fixed because I don't think what I'm feeling is wrong.  I don't think it's right either. I think it's just neutral. I'm just feeling and learning and learning and struggling. And I'm not asking your permission to struggle. I'm inviting you to struggle with me. In the day to day questions and hurdles. In the good times and the not good at all. And for the those of you who have already attained/arrived (lol) or gotten close or at least learned something worth sharing, I'm all ears. Really, the wisdom from the Word allows for anyone to share, including those who still think and have no problem telling me that I need to get over myself. (I'll try to be gracious.) So stay tuned for more! And here I go....

This begins my journey.... These are my confessions....

Reminder of the Day
God's grace is sufficient for me. God's power is made perfect in my weakness.

Ultimate Goal
To boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
To delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blog Name Change--He knows my name!

I'm finally regaining a little blogging rhythm, but it seems that every time I write it either has something to do with my baby or the hubs or just living life. And maybe, maybe a little food inserted in there somewhere. What can I say? I'm a full-time stay-at-home wife and mom. That's my job. All the time. 24/7. Almost everything I do centers around or impacts my home, and so when it comes to writing, it's sort of just an outpouring of that fact.

With that being said, I'm thinking about changing the name of my blog...again. I feel like I don't have a big enough following to be significantly impacted by a blog name change, but I have to decide whether or not my writing has changed significantly enough that I should adapt my blog name to better suit it.

When I first started out blogging, it was as "My Life: Perpetua." Even as I type those words, I still love that title. It took me a long time--with plenty of reading and deliberation and creative thinking--to get to that name. I still love it! The story of Vibia Perpetua really struck me, and it still does. As I began writing on my blog, I found that I would write on a ton of various topics, the two primary things being spiritual matters and food. ('Cause they're right up the same alley!!) "My Life: Perpetua" didn't seem to fit quite the same, and that's when I began brainstorming a blog name that would give people a better idea outright of what I typically wrote about. So that brings me to the present. Right now I'm "Seasoned with Salt: Colossians 4:6... Not only my food... Also my life!" I really do still like that name, and I think it perfectly suited the season I was in. It makes me sad to think about getting rid of it. What if someone steals it!?!?These days though, I don't cook as much as I used to, at least not for fun. When I make food, I'm in the mind to eat it, not take pictures of it. (That's mostly because Naomi suddenly needs loads of attention whenever the hubs and I try to eat.)

I'm coming to terms with the fact that most people probably won't notice if/when I change the name of my blog. Initially that was pretty depressing. My love language is words of affirmation, so while I don't HAVE to be affirmed, it certainly feels good to know I'm not writing to an empty audience. I'm encouraged by the fact that even if no one else knows my name (or my new blog name) and even if I am forgotten and left behind by people who used to "follow" me and my blog, I find solace in knowing that my Heavenly Father knows me, and He knows be by NAME!!

Cue Israel and New Breed song "I am not forgotten" :-)

So there you go. The name is changing any day now, back to My Life: Perpetua. I think. Maybe not. I keep changing my mind and getting nervous as soon as I think I've made up my mind to make the big change. Really got to work on my decision making, ha. So tell me: what do you think? Blog name change or not? I'm interested in hearing what ya'll think, but don't get it twisted; the decision is ultimately up to me. ;-)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When the World Knocks at Your Door.....Again!!

This post was written back in 2010, back when I was dating (not even engaged!) and living at home. Even though it's a couple years old, I think it's worth sharing again! Now I'm a wife and mom, and the hubs and I have chosen not to have our family celebrate Halloween. At the same time, we are more than willing to engage those who do! This year we're looking forward to passing out tracks and invites to our church along with bags of candy for anyone who comes to our door. And of course I plan to snag some sweet treats for myself. ;-) Buckle your seat belts, guys; you're in for a wild, perspective-changing ride!!


I don't celebrate Halloween. Just thought I'd get that out there from the beginning.

My parents never had my siblings and I celebrate it at all growing up, and now that I'm older and making my own decisions and developing my own convictions based on the Word, I also choose to not celebrate Halloween. Wait, wait, I know what you're thinking! That I'm one of those judgmental Christians who seeks to impose my beliefs on everyone around me, whether or not they have the same convictions. Nope! That's not me. I definitely believe that it is every believer's responsibility to make decisions on everything they do based upon what God says in His Word and the convictions He has placed on them, not do stuff because everyone else does (or doesn't do it, for that matter!). I know several Christians who are strong in their walk and feel complete freedom to celebrate this day. I know others who literally start preaching against it the moment October 1st hits. Either way, each person has their stance, and it just so happens that this is how God has led me personally.

When the siblings and I were younger, my parents would put a sign on our door every Halloween asking people not to knock....I mean, that's way easier then getting up and down to answer the door only to disappoint people when you don't have candy to offer! We would pop popcorn and watch movies, or sometimes go to a church event, you know, one of those Fall Festivals that get put on with games and snacks and whatnot. There was always an alternative to celebrating Halloween, and looking back I appreciate that.

Recently my thinking was challenged about the celebration of this holiday. Sadly, I don't remember the pastor who said it, or his exact words, but this was the basic idea. As Christians, we are constantly seeking out people, going out of our way to share the gospel and to reach out to people. Many times we'll get more rejections than people accepting Christ! But on this one day out of the year, we actually have people coming TO us, of their own accord! What better opportunity to reach out to both kids and adults (oh, and teens too!) with the hope we have in Christ?

Granted, this isn't to create an open door policy that allows us to put ourselves into situations that would compromise our testimony for the sake of "sharing Christ." Obviously we are to use wisdom and only operate under the Spirit's leading! But I think, especially now that I'm older (yeah I know, all 21 years of my life haha), and now that I've actually developed a conviction about this, I can move in the direction of not shutting people out who think/believe differently than me, but instead I can be looking for ways to reach out and show Christ's love to the very people who are reaching out to me! And who knows, maybe it wouldn't hurt to share Christ with some candy! Disclaimer:  I'm sure it would be harder for a family with small children who doesn't celebrate Halloween to constantly have their door opening and closing with the intention of sharing Christ with the people asking for candy, but the kids not fully grasping the gravity of what's happening (i.e., all they know is that other kids are getting to dress up in cool costumes and go door to door for candy, but they can't.). So again, use discernment, and stand firm in whatever conviction the Lord leads you to from His Word!

I certainly don't condemn those who disagree with me. That's not the point of this post! I simply know that I want to take advantage of every opportunity provided to me to share the love of Christ with the people around me. Every day. Including October 31st.

Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sometimes I hate my job

I had to seriously give myself a pep talk to do the dishes today. If there is one chore that is seriously just that--a CHORE--it's doing the dishes. UGH.
I just stormed away from the dishes in my kitchen. Well, I stormed to the fridge, poured myself a drink (cranberry juice, nothing fermented, though I probably would've drank some if I had it), grabbed some Oreos, and plopped onto the couch and watched some chef on the Food Network make her family dinner. UGH. Dishes are clearly a common issue with me, given that those first lines up there (yeah, did you read those?) were written days ago. But as dishes go, they always come back, always... And. It. SUCKS.

I've been having a pretty sucky day over all, as I did yesterday. I've been battling the same emotions again, the internal struggle of whether my worth outside the home would be greater than if I stayed here. Looking at my baby girl, I can't imagine leaving her, but this rut I keep getting stuck in is pretty miserable. I'm sure there are other moms who understand. (I hope...) I saw this commercial on tv that said something ridiculous like "When you're doing what you love, it's not work at all." I call bull-crap. *bleep*bleep*!! Lol. (Yeah, that kinda day.) Because I love being a mom, seriously!! But heck if it isn't work every single day. (Whew, this venting feels good! I actually just smiled.) And since this stay at home mom thing is a JOB, I still gotta do the dishes. *grumble*grumble*grumble* Oh, and what made things worse? I had just posted a quote above my kitchen sink, and my husband joking about it the night before over a sink full of dishes did not make my mood any better. Here's the quote:
How's that for some conviction for ya? Grrrr...
So after I finished my juice and Oreos on the couch and glared at the woman on the screen making the perfectly prepared and "oh so easy" dinner for her family, I picked up my phone and scrolled through Facebook. (You thought I was going to say I called someone, didn't you? Can I just say that social media is so pro-procrastination?!). I came across an incredibly timely post that dealt with this ongoing problem I've been having with disciplining myself. It made me simmer down a bit about my overall apathy towards my "job" as it reminded me Who I'm ultimately serving and why discipline and self-control are important. Then I got a text from a friend literally at the EXACT MOMENT I was pounding away at these keys, venting in this post. It was a link to a post from desiringgod called Don't Give Up. I saw the title in the url and immediately started crying. There it was. There was my confirmation that the Lord was not just hearing me, He was listening to me and responding to me and present with me and how incredible is that!?! Even when I'm angry and responding in my sinful way, and discouraged and hopeless and feeling like there is no way I could keep at this job, the Lord reminded me and encouraged me through His Word at just the right time that there is hope, and not to give up. So. thankful.

I can't say I'm disciplined yet or that in the one day that's passed (I wrote this post yesterday) that I always want to do the things that need to get done. I can't say when I do get stuff done I'm always doing it gladly as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23-24), but I am so glad that sanctification is a process. Every day there are new mercies (Lam. 3:22-23) and every day the Lord has been providing me with more grace (James 4:6).  Glory to Him!

Dishes are just a small part of my full time job and though in the grand scheme of things it seems to be so minor, I know my reaction to them shows the overall (bad, sinful) attitude of my heart towards this role God has placed me in. I wince just writing that, but I know that once I recognize it and surrender it to the Lord, He can then mold me into the vessel (wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, human) He desires for me to look like, because what I am now is clearly not it. I'd much rather be soft clay in the hands of God than a hardened piece that has to be broken and broken again in order to take the form He desires and that brings Him the most glory.

Well, now my baby is screaming at me, and I can only assume that her attempts to unplug the laptop are her attempt to get my full attention. Time to get back to work.
I didn't write this, and I don't know who did, but I am definitely putting THIS above my sink!! The other quote will have to find a new home. :-)

Verses and Quotes for Conviction and Encouragement

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.
-Colossians 3:23-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, 
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
-James 4:6

This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offereing I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done glady, if done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.
-Elisabeth Elliot

Song that Encouraged Me!
 This one's a throwback!! I love how this song reminds me that no matter where we are in the world, in our life, that God is the one who in His sovereignty, put us there! And instead of lamenting that fact we should be trying to align ourselves with His plan!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

When I burp you, I burp, too

Before having Naomi I really had no baby experience. I have four younger siblings, but my older sister, who I fondly call Hermanita (despite the fact that she's 4 years older than me), typically took charge in assisting my parents in their (our) care. So this whole parenthood deal has really been learning as I go. Enter the burping phenomena....

Those first couple months were definitely a struggle to find a balance of how much Naomi could eat before she had to burp to keep her from being fussy and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. There were times I would sit for what seemed like hours and just be patting, patting, patting her on the back. I'd lay her across my lap, have her on my shoulder, put her in a sitting position, lay her on her tummy, pat-pat-patting the entire time. It was exhausting, to be honest, because by the time I was able to get a little gas out of her little tummy, she'd be ready to eat all over again. Made for long days, that's for sure. Other times, she'd be happily eating away, not putting up a fuss, and with one pat on the back she'd let out a ginormous man-burp. Great, right? Nope, because up with the gas came all the food I just fed her. And then she'd be hungry again, and I'd be sad. Can a mama catch a break?

Why do all the mamas in the Google Images of burping children have happy faces? I, for one, am typically tired and maybe even a little sad when I have to go through all these burping positions. Lol. #firsttimemamadrama
Here's a fun fact for ya: over half the time when I burp Naomi, I end up burping as well. The majority of the times when that happens, I'll burp first. Do you know how frustrated that used to make me?? Here I am at the crack of dawn or the middle of the night or even midday, typically wishing I could just close my eyes for a few minutes of sleep. Instead, I'm trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of getting a gas bubble out of my little one's tummy, and instead of that happening for her, it happens to me. I DON'T NEED TO BURP!!! I mean, really! She's the one who'll be crying and fussing and wriggling and making me feel like a failing mom if she doesn't adequately burp. Not me! I'm just fine burping her without burping myself, thank you very much.

I remember the first time the Lord showed me the spiritual lesson in this situation. I was sitting on my bed, sleepy (typical), and just so. freakin. tired. of working so hard to get the results out of my baby that I knew would make the day go much better. Then here I go, burping, when as far as I knew, I wasn't even gassy; Naomi was!

So often in life I will work hard and seek results out of other people. I'll see something in them that could use adjustment--character, attitude, whatever--and I'll put all my energy and good intentions into changing them for the better. More often than not when this is the case, I'll find out along the way that while I'm trying to do a work in someone else, the Lord is more importantly trying to do a work in me. For example, and of course this is purely hypothetical, hehe, there may be things about my husband--mannerisms or actions--that I am just certain that if I just work my wifely magic, I can change him and then things would be better in our home. There are friends I might pursue and begin going to work on them to make them into better people or better Christians, knowing that if I just do this, they'll be all better and the world would be better because of my actions. It can apply to so much more! Siblings, parents, coworkers--it doesn't matter who.

See, here's the problem with this mindset; it's rooted in pride! We've all heard (or maybe you haven't?) that saying of "always at the center of pride is I". I am going to do this, this, and this, so that I can change this person, so that I can make things better. I am going to nag and complain and pursue and push to make things happen so that I can make the point that my way is indeed the best way. I am going to.... you fill in the blank from here! All along God is showing me, no, you may be trying to do this your way, but I am going to do a work in you first. You see, it isn't always that the things that we are doing or trying to change or make better are wrong. Is it wrong for me to want my friend to recognize where's she's strayed from the Lord and to turn back to Him? No, of course not! The issue arises when I become so consumed with her issues and problems that I forget about my own. My lack of humility and lack of awareness of my own need of grace leads to the Lord causing me to "burp first." He first does a work in me, and in doing so, perhaps then He does a work in someone else.

I am happy to say that burping Naomi has become much easier as the months have passed. She's much more adept at burping on her own, which definitely saves me some time and energy, and definitely some bibs. I really do believe that the Lord used this basic of parenting to open my eyes to my need of His work in me before I focus on someone else.

Friday, September 27, 2013

My baby's six months old!

You know you're tired when you wake up and the first song in your head is "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" from Hairspray and you haven't seen the movie in months. You know you're tired when you're ironing your husband's dress shirt like you have innumerable times before and you nearly burn yourself two or three times. You know you're tired when you go downstairs and realize that you were so tired from the night before that you forgot to turn off the light in the living room. (So much for lowering that electric bill.) You know you're tired when your baby spits up in your bed and you use a onesie that she's not wearing to wipe it up and lay right back down. (That sounds kinda gross when I write it out that way...) You know you're tired when you willingly let said baby gleefully whack you repeatedly with her teething toy while you're lying down if it means you get to close your eyes for a bit longer. You know you're tired when.... this list could go on and on! And that's only a peek at yesterday morning--a day that marked six months of life for our sweet Naomi Grace.

Here are some mind-blowing statistics for ya:

We've changed approximately 950 diapers.
We've cleaned up the aftermath of 10 or less poopy diaper blowouts (not bad, eh?)
We've lost a crazy amount of sleep.

Here are the things that make that other stuff fade into the background...

First smile. First laugh.
First time flipping over.
First time trying foods.
Sitting up and scooting around.
Snuggles, snuggles, and more snuggles.
So. Much. More.

Parenthood is hardly easy. If that first paragraph didn't state it plainly enough, being a mom can be exhausting. It takes a ton of discipline, and Lord knows I'd be lying through. my. teeth. if I said I was even close to as disciplined as I know I need to be. I am ever so thankful for new mercies from God each and every day, because while I may be on track and doing great one day, the next day I can be an oversleeping, irritable, impatient mess. It's not like I didn't know this could/would be the case once I became a mom. However, experience can be way different than head knowledge, especially when it comes to parenting.

Being a mom to Naomi during these six months has been much more fun and rewarding than it has been trying, and I thank God for that! I am incredibly blessed to have such a strong, smart, and beautiful baby girl, and I look forward to doing life with her for years and years and years and YEARS to come! :-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Labor of Love: The Birth Story of Naomi Grace

Nine months passed more quickly than I ever imagined it would. One day you're waddling around, back sore, hands wrapped around a belly with skin stretched tight. Next day you're lying back, pushing and panting and pouring forth life as one body becomes two. It all happened so fast.

The contractions were about ten minutes apart, and I lay there in the dark, attempting to grasp at fleeting bits of sleep between each tense moment. My eyes were blurry with exhaustion, and I kept a pen and note card underneath my pillow to remind myself to write down each time I felt the pain. I was far too tired to remember anything. Minutes became hours, and I finally shook my hard-working husband awake.

I was completely indecisive about whether I should go in or not. The day before I was one centimeter dilated, and who is to say whether it would be an hour or a week before my girl was to come? Early labor, false labor, whatever. I ditched all the titles and just called it pain. It started in my sides and seared through my back, and I realized the fetal position was for more than just the unborn. He decided for me, so off to the hospital we went.

The drive there is a blur, though I remember wincing as we went over every bump and pothole and  braked for every light. And when we had to slow down because of the early morning traffic, I squeezed his hand and the handle of the door and both he and I told me that I could make it.

I was weak with exhaustion and exertion by the time I made it to the maternity ward, and the midwife said, no way I would I have the energy to push without having had any sleep in 24 hours. And upon being checked and found to be still at one, I faltered at the thought that it would be a long time coming before anything (or one) would be coming out of me.

A long, long hour, the longest it seems I may have ever experienced, walking around the giant loop of the ward. Around and around, arms wrapped tightly around the husband's waist as he whispered quiet encouragements and he pressed hard against the pain that ripped through my back. Around and around, and we passed someone else, a mom and her daughter, reflecting the glazed look I had in my own eyes as she too walked her way towards a new title in life: Mom. Around and around, pausing for ice chips and bathroom breaks, but who can let loose fluid when all your muscles strain and tighten in rebellion? More pauses and prayers and as the intensity increased so did the volume of those whispered encouragements to speak over the noise of doubt in my mind that I'd really be able to do this.

Finally the hour ended and they asked me to lay back once more, and I writhed and curled as the lines on the screen spiked and leveled out in tune to the contractions coursing through my body. After an hour of becoming not one, but three centimeters dilated, I was sure there was no way I could do it. (I had hoped to be further along.) Lack of sleep overwhelmed my thinking and my thoughts were taken over by every. single. person. who told me that I'd want to do this without least until the pain came. Then I'd be in my right mind and would take whatever they would give me, no questions asked. (Didn't you know that in a time of crisis the pessimists completely take over your mind? Watch your company and conversation, that's what I learned.) So the midwife talked, and I rolled and tossed and simply wanted silence, and she told me again if I didn't get some sleep I wouldn't have the energy to push. Tears welled up and and I felt like a failure and the husband stepped in once again and told me I could do this, told the midwife no medication would be necessary except for something to help me sleep.

So slept I did, as much as one can when it feels like a sumo-wrestler has made up his mind to squeeze every last breath out of you every few minutes. An hour passed, another half hour passed, and I was wide awake once again. There'd be no more sleep for hours to come.

The midwife came, and I laid myself back, and was shocked to hear that I went from one to three to eight. She talked and I listened and squeezed squeezed squeeeeezed on the husband's hand and looked right into his eyes and asked him if I could do this, and he said I absolutely could. And every five, four, three minutes I squeezed and I asked and he answered and I believed him. I absolutely could do this. No turning back.

Time in the tub and then time over the toilet and it's incredible how one takes for granted the most basic of bodily functions. The fear of the tube coming in me and draining me came on far stronger than the apprehension of a baby girl coming out of me, but the husband was there and he made me look at him and told me it was okay, it wouldn't be bad, and I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought, but I know I couldn't have done it without him.

It was time. How did I know? I have no idea. But right before that my mom came in, checking on me as she had this whole time, and I love her so much for it, but I had eyes only for my husband, because at that time we were one like never before. She came and she smiled and supported and cared and empathized as only she could, for six times over had she been in my place and she knew what was to come. She was there, then she left--but not far away, just outside the door as I came to find out later on.

Are you ready to push? came the question to me, and I had no idea because I'd never done this before. Forget all my research and my planning about positioning because I was in pain and I wasn't getting out that bed until there was a baby in my arms. The bed tilted and I realized, this is real...this is real! And as the contractions came, I grabbed hold of my husband and the nurse at my side and chin down, eyes squeezed shut, breath held, I pushed and I pushed and I stopped and panted and looked at my husband and he told me I could do this. I could do this. I would do this.

So an hour of this but perhaps shorter? it really seemed fast, then there was a shift change. It's a blur really, but a new nurse came in with the first nurse and husband and midwife, and it's amazing how annoying people can hinder your progress. What this new person took as encouragement, I took as harsh, and in frustration and pain, I yelled (or screamed?) for the very first time. The midwife told me that it had be my most unproductive push yet. But one can't explain the searing pain as you stretch and you tear and open yourself up for someone else, so literally! I determined in myself (and with the help of the husband) that if I would hurt, I would hurt with purpose (productive pain), so there would be no more yelling for the rest of the delivery.

The mirror came out, much to my dismay, and the glass reflected a red messy blur, and thank God I didn't have my glasses. No matter how much they were amazed at how well I was doing for a first-timer, I needed no convincing that my baby was coming out. And speaking of God? oh, how wrong of me it would be to not place Him at His proper place and give credit where it's due because there's no way in the world I would have made it through without Him!

GOD gave me that man, my wonderful husband, the amazing one without whom I would not have been able to focus on my breathing and relaxation between and during every push. God gave me someone who's word I could trust when he told me that I could do it, and I'm doing amazing, and he was so proud of me. God gave me this man that I have come to love in a whole new way because of the labor and delivery process. So I give God his credit. And oh, for the Word! God's glorious Word! Scripture memory is so important, and the verse that echoed through my mind on that day was the same one that helped me during emotionally troubling times of high school. Incredible how, years later, as I experienced both internal and external pain it came to mind once more: this light but for a moment...worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...things that are not seen...are eternal. The verse was fragmented and out of context and I held onto it for dear life, quite literally! How light the affliction was in light of what was to come, the birth of my sweet baby girl.

And so the time came, and I vaguely remember it, almost an out-of-body experience of that final request to Push! and I did, with all my might! And I felt it--I can't even explain to you what it felt like... (When two become one, and one becomes two-in-one, and that two-in-one becomes two separate beings!?'s a miracle, really.) Then came that indescribable feeling of life coming out, and of being so confused when she said, Stop! Stop pushing! Breathe! and I had no idea why til I felt and I saw, that's my girl! MY GIRL!! And the cord was clamped and her daddy cut it and she was placed in my arms, and it's all so surreal, but as I saw her wide eyes, open mouth, curly hair, body small and slick, I knew it was real. So real. I was (I am) a mom.

The rest of the story I'll (maybe) tell another day, about the postpartum recovery and such. (Let me just say, the labor and delivery was a breeze in comparison.) But who cares about all that? Because all that really matters is that I gave birth to a precious little girl named Naomi Grace who I have the blessing of mothering which both excites and scares meI don't have to do it alone thoughShe has an awesome daddy who loves her to pieces, another awesome Daddy who died for her and we're praying for her to one day be in a relationship with, and Nanas and Papas and Aunties and Uncles and Godparents and just a whole big huge support system with a vested interest in her growth and development, physically, spiritually and beyond.

I love this new life as a mom. I'm tired and showers are sometimes optional and when you're your child's sole source of nutrition for months on end, it can be quite draining (literally...). But it's worth it, and I love her and would go through this process again for sure. May I never forget the miracle of new life.

For your viewing from the (first) baby shower, then skipping ahead to some post-delivery and more current shots.

Gotta love edible centerpieces... All thanks to my mom for this crowd favorite! So cute and yummy! :-)
It's me! I keep saying that if it weren't for these pictures, it'd be hard for me to believe and remember that there was an actual BABY inside of me! 

Me and my daddy! He was working out of state and surprised me at the shower! Made me extra happy :-)
Whole family! (From left: bro, bro, mom and dad, me and the husband, sis, bro, sis, and bro-in-law)
Me again! I actually quite enjoyed being pregnant.
There were so many cameras! Hence the looking in different directions lol. The Husband and I with Naomi's godparents--his best friend and my bestest :-)
Not a shower photo, but I had to share! I think I was 38-ish weeks. 
Taken two days before she was born. Had just had my hair straightened and cut. Definitely didn't do it for like a month and a half after she was born. Ick! But hair definitely wasn't high on the priority list w/ a newborn!
Now on to the pictures you really care about...
Just born.
On her birth-day.
She still doesn't like mittens...
Me and my sweet baby girl.
Man, she loved that swaddle early on! This was after she came home from the hospital. :-)
5 days old. Happy Easter!
5 days old and looking like her daddy :-)
Awww. She couldn't have been more than a couple weeks in this picture.
Mama and baby were tired.
Mama mustered up the energy to hang outside for a bit.
Naomi made herself quite comfortable in daddy's arms :-)
Family picture! Yay Auntie Erin for catching the candid moments.
They're always making faces at each other. Daddy-daughter time is too precious!
Her Auntie Nini makes sure she's in constant supply of adorable animal print clothes :-) And her Auntie Erin makes sure her mama stays stylish ;-)
"Mama, I'm too tired for pictures!"
Time to fly around the house with daddy!
This little girl melts our hearts!
Look at that smile :-)

Hope you enjoyed hearing Naomi's birth story and seeing pictures of my precious little girl. :-)