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LIVE above THIS

12 Jan

since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. when Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
colossians 3:1-4

working on living above this world right now. I like things in this world, and i find myself wanting more of things in this world. but God tells us to set our affections on heavenly things, where our life is truly found. as a follower of christ, i can’t love both the world and love God…they are at odds with each other, and my increasing desire for one will decrease my desire for the other. i’m not just supposed to have a heavenly perspective, but to live a heavenly life right now. my earthly nature inclines my heart and mind towards earthly things…but God is faithful and so worth my affections and my focus.

when christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

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momma yaya

21 Dec

We first met Toya, or as we like to call her, Momma Yaya, just over two years ago in Haiti. We traveled to Haiti on a missions trip, and Toya was our group leader for the week. Our hearts were forever changed after that one week in Haiti. Our friendship with Toya started that week, and has grown ever since. She’s a strong, passionate, faithful woman of God, and is currently serving the Lord through being a missionary in Cameroon Africa.

I admire her passion for the Lord, and the way she truly listens for God’s voice in her life. She doesn’t settle for a stagnate walk with God, but intentionally seeks His will for her life, even when it means it’ll be uncomfortable. She currently works with young women in Cameroon to teach them abstinence and what it means to be a Godly woman. She teaches them practical things like making soap and cooking, this helps them make an income for themselves and prepare for being a wife. She also goes to the local prison and counsels inmates, and works with the local orphanage. I’m challenged and encouraged by her faith.

One of the memories with Toya that stands out from our time in Haiti was visiting an orphanage. It was a last-minute visit, and only 4 of us could go. We went to the orphanage, there were about 30 kids there, ranging from babies to 17 year olds. They were so excited for us to visit them, they hugged us, sang songs, and asked us questions. As we left that night they crowded around us, hugging us, touching us and telling us they loved us. My heart instantly broke for these children, no parents to love them, protect them, teach them and care for them, no family to be a part of. That night my heart was churning from the experience, I was wrestling with God on some things…I talked to Toya about it and I’ll never forget what she told me…how she can’t wait to see the family that God has for us in the future, that she can’t wait to see our ‘rainbow’ family, kids from all over, looking all different ways. Her words have always stayed tucked away in my heart. And now, as we started our family with Lucia, I can’t help but wonder what our other children will look like.

So when we heard that Toya would be in the states for a few weeks, we had to make it work to see her. She was staying with some friends in Chicago, so we set a date and made the two-hour drive last Saturday. It was so good to see her, catch up with her and have her meet Lucia. The body of Christ is a beautiful thing, we first met her over two years ago, haven’t seen or talked to her since (except for a few emails) and we picked up right where we left off. We shared stories of how God is working in our lives, we ate good food, laughed and listened to each other. I’m so thankful for moments like this, genuine relationships that God puts in our lives to encourage and challenge us.
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becoming momma

19 Dec

Motherhood is a strange thing…for 9 months I tried to prepare for what I thought motherhood would be like…but words can’t really describe how life has changed or the emotions that have run through me that I never knew existed until becoming a momma.

There have been amazing, beautiful and indescribable moments, and then there have been rough, ugly and messy moments. But somehow God eases us into being a momma with 9 months of sacrificing your body to grow a little baby, and then…after the baby is born, they sleep nearly all the time to help easing into the whole momma gig even more. For me, some of the hard moments came unexpectedly. I was adjusting to taking care of a little human, and I had to work at balancing my new life of being a momma, wife, friend, etc…

I expected not to get a lot of sleep, but I assumed the result of minimal sleep would just make me tired during the day. I figured I’d be tired, so I could just take naps to remedy the sleep I lost at night. But, what caught me off guard was how the lack of sleep took a toll on me emotionally. I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster that I couldn’t get off of, I would over-react to things I normally wouldn’t care about. I became weepy, and sort of felt like I was living in a tunnel, a constant circle of feed, sleep, poop, feed, sleep, poop. I love taking care of Lucia, but I felt overwhelmed at night-time, almost dreading it because I knew how little sleep I’d get. Everyone told me that the sleepless nights of waking up every 2-3 hours wouldn’t last for long, but while in the middle of it, it felt like an eternity. Slowly the nights got better, and Lucia started to sleep for longer stretches. Now she wakes up about two times a night, some nights more, some nights less, but overall I feel like we’ve made it through the worst of sleepless nights.

There were two things I researched endlessly before Lucia was born, breastfeeding and sleep schedules. I read books about this stuff, read blogs and talked endlessly with other mommas…I wanted to breastfeed my baby, and I set my goal for 1 year of breastfeeding. Thankfully, nursing has gone really well, and we had very little trouble getting Lucia to latch on, and my milk came in really quickly, and I haven’t had problems with not producing enough milk. I’ve thanked God over and over again for this blessing of being able to nurse Lucia. We haven’t had to use formula at all, she has only ever had momma’s milk, and I’m so grateful that it has worked out for us. I know that every baby is different, and that sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work, so I’m that much more thankful that this hasn’t been an issue for us.

The other struggle for me was how I tried to control her sleeping schedule. The first couple weeks Lucia slept almost all the time, then as she started to become awake for longer stretches, then I got ahead of myself and started thinking she was supposed to be on a strict schedule. I started treating her like she was a 4 month old, when in reality she was just a newborn. I expected her to be on a set schedule, all day, every day, and it just wasn’t realistic for her at that time. I overwhelmed myself even more by reading too many blogs and books, and started to feel like we were ‘behind’ in sleep training and that I was doing a crappy job at this whole momma-thing. I began obsessing over it, and it was all I could think about, constantly looking at the clock.  My sister gave me some really good advice…stop reading the blogs and books, and just watch for the signs and cue’s Lucia gives you. I stopped watching the clock, and started watching Lucia…if she showed me she was tired by yawning, having droopy eyes or becoming fussy-I started to soothe her and put her to sleep. If she woke up from a nap and was content, I didn’t feed her right away, but waited until she showed me she was hungry. I stopped feeling guilty for letting her nurse herself to sleep or sleep in bed with us at times. I eased up on myself and started to change the way I thought…I started to think more in generalities than specifics…knowing she usually wouldn’t stay awake for more than an hour or two-I keep an eye on the clock and remembered what time she woke up. It’s been freeing to let go of such a strict mindset. We like to go out on the weekends, which means her naps aren’t the best, but I want her to be able to roll with it and adapt…sometimes after a busy weekend, Mondays are a little hard for her to nap, but by Tuesdays she’s back on track with sleeping.  I know what our long-term goal is for her and her sleep schedule, and I’ve stopped thinking there is one narrow road to get there. I’ve realized that I need to ease up and not put so much pressure on myself, or on her-she’s a baby, and we’ll eventually get to more of a schedule with naps, and we’ll eventually get to her sleeping in her own room in her crib. But for now, we are content with where we are.

It’s all a learning process, and I’m sure-just when I think we’ve got one thing under control, another challenge will arrise…but I’m loving it!

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thanksgiving week

23 Nov

This week has been an adjustment. Monday I went back to work, and the first day was tough. Not tough on me, but hard on Lucia. The adjustment of being with momma all day, every day, to now being with daddy all day has been hard for her. The first day was the toughest, but she’s been slowly getting better day by day. I am trying to focus on not worrying about Lucia, or obsessing over her schedule and whether she’s eating-sleeping-pooping-or-whatever-enough. I have to let go of having complete control over her schedule, and it’s been a process of God teaching me that instead of obsessing and worrying, I need to pray, and give it ALL to God.

God is teaching me to lean on Him, and I’m learning to not be consumed by obsessing over schedules, and to let go of feeling the need to control EVERYTHING. I know this is a life long lesson for me to continue learning, but slowly, day by day, I am trying to grow in this area.  So Monday was hard, but Wednesday was better, and hopefully today is a bit easier.

We had a low-key Thanksgiving this year, Ben came over and I made a feast of food for the three of us. We ate, relaxed, watched football, and even squeezed in a mini-photo-shoot of our family of three. This year I am beyond thankful for our growing family. I am humbled every day just looking at Lucia, and am so grateful for her! Tomorrow we will get together with my side of the family to celebrate Thanksgiving. So tonight I’ll be peeling 10 pounds of potatoes to make mashed potatoes for the feast. Tomorrow will be the first time a lot of the family will see Lucia too. It’s strange, now that we are a family of three I am looking forward to the Holiday’s in a whole new way.

up all night

1 Nov

Last night was a bit rough…Little miss Lulu decided to rise and shine from 3am-5am before falling back asleep. As hard as it can be to wake every 2 to 3 to 4 hours depending on the night, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I cherish those sweet moments I share with her in the late night and early morning  hours. She is a cuddler and doesn’t like to be away from momma for very long at night. And so last night from 3-5am, I quietly listened to her grunts (how can that loud of a grunt come from such a petite little girl?!), coo’s and squeaks as she fed. Those little baby sounds melt me, it never gets old to watch her expressions, nor do I tire of hearing her sweet little whimpers. Having a new baby is hard, and it’s challenging me personally, and challenging my relationship with the Mr., but I wouldn’t trade those sweet moments I have with her in all hours of the morning/night for anything. Love you Lulu!

life as we know it

15 Oct

Life as we know it has changed…everyone said having a baby is the biggest life change we would ever experience, and it is…but somehow at the same time it feels like this is the way it’s always been.
Lulu is almost 2 weeks old and she is still sleeping and eating like a rock star. Last night she slept 3 hours at a time, and she’s been a lot more vocal and expressive than just a week ago. She doesn’t cry, but instead grunts, coo’s, and squeaks non-stop when she’s awake…which isn’t very often.
Dan had to go back to the daily grind today. Lulu and I slept in, had breakfast and then did a quick impromptu photo-shoot, and then it was back to napping for her.

father of the year

2 Aug

We had our first birthing class on Tuesday night, and I’m glad to report we made it through…barely. Before  anyone else showed up Dan attempted to hold the baby doll in the front of the classroom…looks like he’s a natural at holding a baby…and on his way to winning the father of the year award.

The class was going great until we had to ‘practice’ different positions and massages to help with the pain of labor. I was all eyes, ears, and hands on deck…Dan on the other hand was worried he would herniate a disk from pushing on my lower back. I knew it wasn’t the time to get into it with the Mr. If 7 years of marriage has taught me something, it’s that there is a time, place and way to confront…and then was not the time. I made a mental note to practice back massages and relaxation techniques outside of class much more in the next 10 weeks before baby girl makes her arrival.

I only feared being kicked out of class towards the end…and surprisingly it wasn’t due to anything Dan had done…but it was all me. As we practiced our breathing…ok, as I practiced breathing and Dan held my stomach, I was overcome with laughter, the kind you can’t contain and that just won’t stop…no matter how hard you bite your lip or will your mind to think serious thoughts. Being the mature woman I am, I kindly avoided any and all eye contact with the teacher until absolutely necessary. And only then it was to tell her that my husband-of-the-year wouldn’t be able to attend next week’s class with me. Not sure yet who will win the gold medal of being his stand-in…

Things are starting to become more and more real as we inch closer to my due date…

hittin’ the pavement

13 Jun

Baby girl and I went out for another run last night.

I had to run much slower than I’m used to, having to listen to my body and not push it farther than what it’s telling me I can do. Before being pregnant, I would have ignored my body telling me to slow down, to take it easy and not go overboard with the excercise. Not to be mistaken, I am not some hard-core athlete who just can’t do less than a bazillion miles or is so motivated that I will push my body to its limit. But, I had a little voice in my head called pride that told me I can’t take a break and walk if there are people around, that it would mean I’m a failure, and that I was getting…old.

But now…since I have no choice but to listen to my changing body, and an instinct that tells me to listen to my body so that I don’t harm baby girl…I am slowing down, enjoying each step as my perspective changes about running. It’s not about working up a massive sweat, keeping track of distance or even my speed. But, it’s about keeping my body healthy and strong. I’ve become thankful for the ability to get out and jog, to breathe in the fresh air after sitting in an office all day long, and about preparing my body for a little thing called labor. My perspective is ever-changing as God leads us down this path of preparing to be parents.

I don’t know how far I ran last night. And I did walk a little bit, and I listened to my body telling me to take it slow. And it was good.

the day we saw our baby

9 Mar

On Monday we had my first doctors appointment. I swear there was an added few hours in the day leading up to my appointment, it couldn’t come soon enough. But there we were, sitting the in waiting room, Dan paging through a pregnancy magazine, finally calling it quits on the magazine after seeing an ad for a breast pump. We weren’t scheduled for an ultrasound, but after my doctor had trouble finding the heartbeat, they promptly fit us in after my appointment.

As we looked on the screen it was hard to make out any shape, but then we saw the white flicker that was our baby’s heartbeat. And that’s when we saw our baby, about the size of a teddy graham, heart beating rapidly…

We found out I was only 8 1/2 weeks along, not 11 weeks as I had thought. Yes, I’m that mom who already thinks her child is more developed and smarter than all the other kids their age…After having a couple of weeks of dreaded morning-afternoon-night sickness, I was not happy to hear that there could still be a few more weeks of the nausea. But, the baby is healthy and alive, and I’ve actually felt a bit better the past few days.

Up until the past few days this little teddy graham has been doing a number on me…I have a love/hate relationship with food right now. I have to eat about every two hours just to make it through the day, yet just the thought of any type of food makes my gag reflex kick in instantly. I have crazy cravings for food, yet then when it’s in front of me it repulses me. Not to mention my obsession with lemonade, apple pie  & other crazy cravings has me running to the grocery store to get whatever my tummy demands.  But, like I said the past three days have been wonderful, very little nausea and I’ve got a little energy back so that I’m not dozing off at 7:30pm every night.

It’s been a whirlwind of telling family and friends the good news, and just last night Dan put headphones on my growing tummy so our baby could hear their first song. I told Dan I don’t think the baby has ears yet, but that didn’t stop him from picking out the perfect first melody we shared with our little bean. Our excitement only increases when we talk about names, how our baby will look and what these next few months will bring.

positive.

28 Feb

It was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day and we were having a lazy weekend. We barely peeled ourselves away from the couch all day, we were dog-sitting Ollie and we spent the entire day snuggling and watching movies. We managed to find enough motivation to make a quick run to Starbucks to feed or afternoon coffee cravings. The night before I had been feeling a little uneasy, and the next day had brought about more laziness…”should I get a test?” I asked the Mr…Sure…why not. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we waited patiently for the 2 minutes to expire before setting our eyes on the test. We both walked back into the bathroom and looked at the test together.

Positive.

We looked at each other with surprise….Positive?
immediately I said I’d better take the 2nd test as a back up…I felt like I was seeing things…it couldn’t be true. We waited 2 more minutes and again walked back into the bathroom.

Positive.

And so it is. I’m pregnant. We smiled, and became just a bit excited. We I squealed and told Ollie he was going to be a big brother soon. We get to hear our little babe’s heartbeat on Monday…and I couldn’t be more impatient for the weekend to come and go as quickly as possible.