Forgive and Forget

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Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me. 

Learning To Be Beautiful

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So I’ve reached that time after having a baby where I’m really noticing that extra “fluff” that baby-growing has left on my body. It’s always an interesting time for me. I want to get on a consistent exercise routine again, but I’m still so tired from being up at night with baby. Extra energy is rare. I want to make sure I’m eating healthy, but I also love Oreos. So yes, it’s interesting.

Before I was a momma, before I was married, I had a very unhealthy self-image. To be honest, I think I treaded on the obsessive side of worrying about what my body looked like. Being beautiful meant being sexy. It meant highlighted hair, manicured nails, a sculpted body, tanned skin and a perfectly painted face. None of those things are wrong, but they were my highest priorities in life…and that is wrong. Confidence meant knowing how to flirt. It meant knowing how to make guys desire you. It meant getting what you want. Authenticity didn’t matter. At least not to the degree it should have. Kindness and courage also didn’t hold places of honor like they deserve. If I felt like I had gained an ounce of weight, I would simply skip a few meals until I felt like I was where I should be. Even if I hadn’t gained weight and just wanted to feel more desirable, I would stop eating. I’m sad that’s they way I thought, but it’s the truth.

After I had my first daughter over 2 years ago, everything changed. I didn’t want her to grow up feeling insecure or obsessing over what her body looked like. I didn’t want her to absorb the lies that society told her about being “perfect”. I didn’t want her to overhear me talking about how I hate loving carbs so much because they make me fat. But when my baby weight started to be burdensome, my first reaction was so restrict how much I was eating. I remember looking down at her sweet, innocent face while she was nursing and I thought, “I don’t want her to see that growing up. I will not take away her nutrients. I’ll eat healthy foods. She matters more than my weight. She is more important.” That realization was a game changer for me. That seed of truth took root and it’s been growing ever since. I stopped using the words “fat” and “ugly”. Even when I’ve felt like those things, I will not say it. My daughter will not hear them from her momma.

As I was looking in the mirror the other day, 4 months after having my youngest daughter, I saw a very different body than what I used to have. I had to do a double take because I didn’t recognize a few body parts. But I realized something. I can look at my little kangaroo pouch and a little more truthfully say, “That’s ok. I grew a human in there for almost 10 months. And that’s pretty amazing.” I can look at my thighs and my hips and acknowledge that the extra weight they carry was important baby-nourishing weight.

Do not let your beauty come from the outside. It should not be the way you comb your hair or the wearing of gold or the wearing of fine clothes. Your beauty should come from the inside. It should come from the heart. This is the kind that lasts. Your beauty should be a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight this is of great worth and no amount of money can buy it.      1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLV)

Now I’ll be the first to admit that some days it is hard. It’s very hard. Motherhood changes everything, including our bodies. I get that. I really do. The extra rolls and fluff that won’t fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes can feel more like burdens than badges of honor. I get it. Those days are numerous, believe me. But my desire is shifting to be healthy, not hot; to be strong, not sexy. Don’t get me wrong, I want to look physically beautiful and I love when my husband gives me a little smack on the toosh and a “mmmm” as he walks by. Being beautiful doesn’t mean neglecting outward appearance, but it doesn’t mean obsessing over it either. I’m slowly learning to stop equivocating beauty to a number on a scale. Confidence doesn’t mean calorie cutting, it means grabbing hold of what makes you you and boldly living it out. Now that is beautiful.

Since I’ve had my daughters, I feel more beautiful. And I feel stronger. They’ve allowed me to be who I am. They’ve helped me value what matters. They’ve helped me reconnect with the beauty I felt as a young girl. Real beauty. I value strength. I cherish confidence. I esteem courage, kindness and authenticity. Because it is those things that make a woman truly beautiful.

Her clothes are strength and honor. She is full of joy about the future. Proverbs 31:25 (NLV)

 

The Ache of Christmas Eve

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Do you want to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? This particular story happened one year ago today.

It’s an ugly & messy & painful wound. But it has become one of the most beautiful scars a woman can carry.

After we lost our first baby on October 1, 2011, I wanted to find was desperate to find an ornament for our Christmas tree. Not any ornament, but one that would represent our baby. One that would remind us of God’s goodness & faithfulness. One that would tangibly tie our baby’s life into all future Christmases.

I told no one of my search. Only my husband & my God knew the importance of this simple little object that I longed to hang on our tree. I repeatedly asked God to lead me to my ornament. I went to countless stores trying to find the perfect one. But it was nowhere to be found. I would not buy an ornament, just to have one. I knew in my heart, when I saw it, I would just…know.

And then…

one afternoon, a small box arrived. It was from a close, “adopted” aunt. I opened the unexpected package & there it was. My ornament. My precious precious ornament. She did not know about my search. She did not know how many stores I had explored. She did not know how deeply my heart ached for it. And the moment I saw it, I knew…it was the one.

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My aunt mailed it, but my God sent it. And His words filled my heart.

“I see you. I hear you. I know this is important to you. And it’s important to me too. Here it is. I love you.”

Time went by. My beautiful daughter was born. And the Christmas season of 2013 had arrived. I was pregnant again. And Christmas Eve had arrived.

One year ago today, I was bleeding.

I walked into the same ER I was in when I lost my first baby. I walked by the very room where I felt His presence closer than the air I was breathing. That white-walled room that held my cries to Jesus, our prayers to our God & the realization we would not be bringing home our baby.

They admitted me to a room down the hall. Tests were done. Blood was drawn. Ultrasounds were taken. And it was confirmed.

I had lost my baby.

One year ago today, I walked through the darkness again.

I screamed. I yelled. I cried. I beat the floor with my fists in anger. I was not angry at God. I was angry at the enemy. This was personal.

But this time, my heart recalled memory after memory of God’s faithfulness through my first loss. The details were covered with His fingerprints. He was there. And he mourned with us. He showed us we were not alone.

So, I claimed His faithfulness once again. I clung tightly to Him once again. I entrusted my broken heart to Him once again. Because I knew it is only in His hands that my shattered heart can rest & be restored.

One year ago today, my husband & I left the ER & began driving home, where I would see our Christmas tree in the living room & my baby ornament hanging.

I told Jarred I wanted to stop by the mall to get an ornament for this baby. Tomorrow was Christmas & our baby ornaments could be together.

But as we were driving, I knew I was too physically & emotionally depleted to muscle my way through crowds of last-minute shoppers, so I told my husband to just head home.

We pulled up in the driveway. On our front step was a box. It was from my adopted aunt. I opened it & began to weep.

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The perfect ornament. It even looked similar to my first baby’s ornament.

My aunt mailed me this little box days before. Nobody knew I would spend Christmas Eve in the ER finding out that I lost my second baby.

No one knew…

Except for my GOD.

And so, today, one year later, I hold my 3 month old; I snuggle my 2 year old; & I stare at my 2 baby ornaments. I declare my God as faithful in every day, every pain, every joy.

He loves us beyond measure. He is so very present in this very moment. And I am overwhelmed by His faithfulness.

Merry CHRISTmas.

Blessed is She.

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She has arrived!

Our newest addition is here & I’ve got to admit, she is perfection. Of course I say that completely unbiased. It’s a fact.

She is our perfect little puzzle piece & has already added so much fun to our family. My oldest daughter LOVES being a big sister, which of course blesses my heart to know she is thrilled about her new role. She makes sure that “her baby” is constantly hugged, kissed & updated with what’s going on. When the dog does something silly, she will run up to her little sister & tell her all about it, just in case she missed it. If baby starts to fuss, big sister is right there asking her, “You okay, baby?” She will promptly find her paci & blanket because that usually fixes a fussy baby sister. If that does not work, she has on several occasions instructed me, “Momma hold baby. Momma milk baby.” Yes, they are already buddies looking out for each other.

I catch myself staring at both of my daughters (it’s still so crazy to say, BOTH!), to the point of tears sometimes because I am just that in love. I see Jesus through them. I see His love, His grace, His faithfulness. They are tangible examples of His goodness.

I look at them & I am completely overwhelmed with thankfulness. I am thankful that the Lord has chosen me as their momma. I am thankful for who they are. I am thankful for who they will become. I am thankful for how they will serve the Lord. I’m thankful for how the Lord will grow them, direct them & protect them.

I am thankful.

I’m thankful that my God has remained just as faithful during the dark nights of sorrow when we’ve lost babies, as He has been in the days of rejoicing as we snuggle babies in our arms.

This blessing tastes that much sweeter because I will forever know the bitterness of sorrow & loss too. But I am filled with hope. I am overflowing with thankfulness. And I remain confident in my faithful God.

If you are in a place where you desperately need your ashes traded for beauty, know that it is coming. The transformation is painful. And it can feel slow, but oh, it is coming.

He promises.

When He redeems something, He redeems in perfectly. He redeems it fully. It comes in different forms, perhaps not how we expect it, but how we need it.

Breathe Him in deeply today. Trust that He will fulfill His promises to you. Don’t be afraid to cling on to hope, even when it stings.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” Luke 1:45

Pizza & Endless Grace

Hello wonderful, sweet friend!

Oh the stories I have this week. And about 98% of them include my daughter. Yes, I’m “that” mom. Just go with it.

My little girl has definitely been exercising her independence. Which is a nice way of saying she has started wearing her sassy-pants more often. Her likes & dislikes are becoming very clear. If I don’t pick up on her unhappy facial expressions as she tries a meal she’s not thrilled about, she will very clearly tell me what she doesn’t like, why she doesn’t like it & why I should never ask her to eat it again. All of this is communicated in her own little language, but she uses a lot hand gestures, so I know she means business. She will throw her head back in the most precious & dramatic way if she is asked to do something she really doesn’t want to. She will also turn her head & close her eyes. I’m not sure if she wants to disappear or wants me to disappear, but either way, I get her point.

Along with all her dislikes, we have also discovered more of the things she likes. I am constantly left in awe of what a beautiful person my daughter is. The things she does amazes me. She is so smart & I just can’t believe that my baby is now her own walking, talking, exploring, expressive little self. I love when she gets excited over something new or smiles & nods her head in approval for something she enjoys. I have also discovered that this child loves pizza. A lot. Every time a pizza commercial comes on or she sees a picture of a pizza, the entire room fills with her long, drawn out, “Mmmmmmmmmmmms!” The first time she did this, I could not stop laughing. But now it happens every time & I’m pretty sure if anyone were to visit our house during one of those moments, they would think that’s all we feed her. Oh how I adore that pizza-loving girl.

As I look at my daughter, even when she’s wearing her sassy-pants, I gain a deeper understanding of God’s heart for us. I will always & forever love her completely & without reservation & I will do anything for her. There is nothing she can say or do to change that. And like Matthew 7:11 says, if I am a sinful being who can still give good gifts to my children, how much more will God give to us?

Grace is defined as “the free & unmerited favor of God”.

It’s free. And we can’t earn it.

Wow.

When I sit & think about it & really just let that soak into my soul, it leaves me speechless. It leaves me breathless really.

I think we all have days that our imperfections & mistakes cause hesitation to fully embrace that truth- the truth that our circumstances & emotions do not dictate whether God gives us a little or a lot of grace.

To be completely honest, there are some days I feel more covered than other days. My heart knows that isn’t true, but still, I have those moments.

But that’s the beautiful thing I’m learning about grace. Grace doesn’t draw closer to us when we feel holier or more polished. And it doesn’t loosen its grip when we feel dirty or frazzled.

We are submerged just as deeply in His free & unmerited favor when we feel like we’re on the right track, as we are on days we feel completely knocked off course.

Confident & lifting our hands or broken & on our faces. I think grace doesn’t distinguish between the two. We are God’s children. And that alone qualifies us to receive this incomparable gift.

I am so thankful for God’s grace. Our perfect, holy God grants us favor despite our mistakes & imperfections. What a beautiful picture of His heart towards us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8&9

At this very moment, His grace is washing over you. And it’s not going to stop.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

You are loved. You are precious. And I declare my God as faithful.

Just Like Mommy

So I had an “oh boy” week. The kind of week where you literally say “oh boy” out loud at least a dozen times. The kind of week when you realize your child is no longer a baby, but is now a little girl & is watching you…very closely. Everything you do, every word you say…that adorable little sponge is soaking it up. OH BOY.

My first “oh boy” came shortly after our dog had cozied up with my daughter & was an inch away from the delicious snack she held in her hand. His nose started bobbing up & down. His eyes were completely focused. And then his mouth started to open oh-so-slowly. He’s a beagle & his nose bosses him around & tells him what to do. At least that’s what he’s always trying to convince me.

So after realizing what was about to happen, I told him “no” in a stern voice, pointed my finger at him, then tapped the top of his head a few times.

Well, my daughter proceeded to do the exact same thing. In fact, for the rest of the day, our poor dog endured countless “no” taps on his head. Each one was followed by belly laughs from my daughter.

“Oh boy, it has begun. She’s copying what I do now. OH BOY.”

The tricky part about having a 16 month old is that I really couldn’t apologize for what I had down & explain why we need to love on our doggy instead of telling him no all day long. I tried, but I’m sure all she heard was, “Akjsdifjdoa DOGGY asldkjfoidjadf MOMMA.” All I could do was ask her to pet him or kiss him when I saw that sneaky little glimmer in her eye of needing to tell the dog no. Again. For the 400th time.

So by the end of the day, that was pretty much under control.

It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was definitely a huge realization. If she watched, absorbed, then copied my actions in such a small situation, the day is arriving when she will be completely focused on my actions, words & tones for things that truly are a big deal.

I don’t know about you, but that scares me half to death.

I feel like I’m constantly asking God for forgiveness & thanking Him for His grace. I know I am a flawed person. But now, I have an extra set of precious little eyes on me.

The following day, my little one unloaded my makeup case. That’s nothing new. She loves all the brushes & do-dads. But this time was different. She grabbed the eyelash curler & brought it to her eye. I have never shown her that. Well, I suppose I have, but unintentionally. She then grabbed my blush brush at dusted her sweet little cheeks.

Yep, this kid is watching my every move. Even when I have no idea that she’s paying attention to something as trivial as putting on makeup.

OH BOY.

Like I said, I know these situations are not dramatic ones, but still, they have brought a new awareness to me.

Our words, actions & “tones” are being watched, even when we think we’re secluded in those decisions. Not only by our kids, but by our coworkers, friends & even strangers.

So may we do the right thing even when it’s dark. May we speak kind words even behind closed doors. And may we be honest even when we’re inconvenienced. We truly don’t know the extent to which someone’s life can be touched by the quietest of our whispers.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp & put it under a basket, but on a stand, & it gives light to all in the house In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works & give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Our lives affect those around us. So may they affect others in a beautiful way & point them to Jesus.

I declare my God as faithful!

Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety.

That word just sounds ugly to me.

Have you battled anxiety before? I sure you have. God’s Word repeatedly tells us that there is a battle for our minds & thoughts. The root of many addictions, fears & problems start in our minds. If it’s true that our minds hold such power, then of course that is exactly where the enemy wants to attack & weaken us. He wants us distracted, anxious & focused on anything other than the sovereignty & peace of our Savior.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This issue is very close to my heart. I have battled fearful, anxious thoughts since I was a child. I remember experiencing my first panic attack when I was about 11. There were a few things that I could do to lessen them, but it was temporary & another one would eventually happen.

After I got married, I would ask my husband to pray over me when I would begin to have a panic attack or feel anxiety trying to settle in. He would pray over me, but then he would always ask me to pray over myself…out loud.

As I would be lying there completely paralyzed with fear & anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was pray out loud. I didn’t feel bold. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel like my words could battle anything because those words were coming out of a very scared, overwhelmed girl.

But with every attack, I began to rebuke any fear & anxiety & declare my God as more powerful than any fearful thought trying to take hold of me. I would keep verses all over the house so that I could look at them & claim them out loud when I began to feel anxious. Even if I couldn’t think straight, all I had to do was look over at the verses, read them & claim them out loud. As I would verbally claim God’s Word, I noticed that the anxiety lessened & lessened. After a while it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had once been.

I know a lot of things can cause anxiety. Sometimes it has a lot to do with chemicals or hormones in our bodies. Sometimes it’s a spiritual attack directly on our minds. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both.

With new seasons come new things that try to cause us to worry or be anxious. After feeling so much better for so long, anxiety came back & it came back with a vengeance. My breaking point came soon after my daughter was born. I have never loved another human the way I loved her & the responsibility in that was too much to think about at times. I wanted to roll her up in bubble wrap & keep her home forever. I never wanted her to feel the pain of this world. I never wanted her heart to be broken. I never wanted her to experience the disappointments, hurts & sadness that life would surely throw at her. All these thoughts coupled with raging, mommy hormones, was a combination that on my own, I couldn’t handle. They brought me to my knees. No, they knocked me to my knees.

I looked around & saw my mommy friends handling motherhood like champs. And here I was at 2am making my husband check all the locks on the doors…for the third time that night. Why couldn’t I handle it with grace? I hadn’t showered in 3 days much less been out of the house. I felt alone. I felt inadequate & overwhelmed.

Isolation is a dangerous thing. It makes us feel like we are the only ones experiencing something; that we’re the only ones that can’t handle the situation we’re in. What a lie. Almost every mommy I talked to felt the same way I did. I wasn’t treated like a failure. They loved on me & empathized with me. Sometimes the first step towards freedom is being brave enough to ask for some help & support. After I did just that, things began to change.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

I began giving God this new fear & anxiety that was trying to steal my mind & thoughts. It was a slow process over the course of a year & I still battle anxiety sometimes, but I know the power to defeat it is held in God’s Word!

If you feel anxious, no matter to what degree, always remember that you are not alone. And no matter what thoughts try to consume you, God’s Word is your shelter, shield & sword! His promises & truths are yours to claim! So claim them out loud.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You are loved & treasured! Please let me know if I can support you in prayer during this process! Victory is yours!

I declare my God as faithful.

The Great Parenting Challenge

We’ve all experienced it in some form & many of us, in multiple forms. A glaring look, a backhanded compliment, a rude comment on Facebook. To make matters worse, all of these come from fellow mommies or daddies. Whether it’s directed at your child’s behavior, the way you’re parenting, what you’re feeding your child or at a decision you’ve made, it stings. It beyond stings. It tears away at that part of your heart where you so deeply long to be a good mommy or daddy- to be a great parent. That part of our hearts already battles feelings of being unprepared, inexperienced, inadequate & sometimes, just plain scared! So those looks & comments are brutal.
Within the first 30 minutes of announcing we were pregnant, my husband & I were abruptly introduced to the harsh, cut throat, judgmental side of the club called, “Being a Parent”. It doesn’t matter if your baby is still inside your womb & looks like a gummy bear or if you’re holding your sweet little bundle in your arms; you’re in the club.
Epidural? No epidural?
Cloth diapers? Disposable diapers?
Vaccinations? No vaccinations?
Traditional? Non-traditional?
Breastfeeding? Formula?
I quickly realized that I was being asked all these questions, not because the other mommies were truly interested in my opinions or thoughts, but because they felt the overwhelming need to tell me why my decisions were wrong…if they weren’t the same as their own.
Good grief. There are enough challenges & decisions to make as a mommy & daddy without tearing each other apart for choosing something we wouldn’t. We are all trying to love & teach & take care ofthe precious lives that God has given us to the best of our ability.
I’m all about sharing good information with each other. I have been abundantly blessed with a circle of mommies that look straight to the heart & are supportive in this journey that we’re on together. They just don’t get caught up on all the details along the way. So the club can be a great one to be a part of too.
I think being educated & well balanced is wonderful. But when you feel that little fire inside of you start rising up because someone isn’t making the same choice for their child as you are for yours, maybe that’s not a good time to talk. Or comment. Or stare.
Sure, there are some things that I am unwilling to negotiate on. There are decisions that my husband & I have made that we believe are the best decisions for our family. But just because we say “yes” to something for our family, doesn’t mean that a “no” is wrong for another family. Every child is different, every situation is different & every parent is different. And so are options & decisions. And that’s ok. Actually, it’s more than ok! It’s wonderful that we are all different! We are all aiming for the same goal: to grow our children into strong, smart & well-rounded little people. Can we step back from the details & support each other for that?

So if you have received “the look” from another mommy on the playground recently, or if you’ve read a hurtful comment on Facebook, can I just encourage you today? You are doing a great job! It’s all right that your kid was the only one screaming & trying to go up the slide the wrong way. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.  If you’re all about cloth diapers, you go girl! If you use disposable diapers, you go girl! It doesn’t matter what your child poops in. You love your child more than life itself; you’re making decisions that work for YOUR family; & that, my dear friend, is not only good, it is admirable & beautiful.
 
Above my own opinions & ability to parent well, I rely on my God’s grace & direction. And He gives them abundantly & clearly. I declare my God as faithful!

A Year Ago

My precious daughter,

 
A year ago today, my life changed forever. The moment I saw you, I knew what unconditional love truly was. I thought I had known it before, but I didn’t. I would have never believed in the depth, strength & magnitude of the love I was now experiencing for you. My heart beautifully ached as it attempted to contain all the new passion & love that began beating inside itself. It was overwhelming. It was scary. It was the most breathtaking moment I have ever experienced. I was looking straight into the reflection of our God. You didn’t say or do anything to deserve my love, except just…exist. You didn’t ask me to love you, but I eagerly & without hesitation gave you my entire heart; even the most tender & intimate areas of my heart. The parts that I was almost scared to use because they are actual pieces of my very core & spirit. Without them, I do not exist. But I have given those pieces to you, my sweet darling. And you too, are now a part of my very being. You are closer to me than the air I breathe & more precious to me than my own life. You are the most exquisite of all creation. You are kind & gentle & beautiful & strong. And Almighty God has entrusted your daddy & I with you. A responsibility that we do not take lightly. You are destined for greatness. May you love Jesus above anything or anyone. May His Word be written on the tablet of your heart. And may you look in the mirror every single day & see your true identity- a warrior princess with a calling higher than anyone could ever know.

I love you, peanut.

 
Love,
Momma

Precious Arrival

Ok, so it’s been a thousand months since we’ve talked. My entire world has been turned upside down, sideways and inside out! All in good ways! We had our baby girl in August! Healthy, gorgeous and HAPPY all the time! The first thing I noticed when they laid her on my chest was her eye lids. She has my puffy eyelids. I did that! Wow. That is the coolest thing ever!! Oh, and my nose.

 

I cannot believe that she’s half me and half my husband. And I don’t think it really hits you until you see & hold your baby for the first time. That moment was the best of my life. I’m so passionately in love with her. She has been the PERFECT addition to our little family. She is a symbol of God’s love, goodness and faithfulness. We named her Raelyn because it means “God’s lamb of beauty.” Her middle name is Grace, “God’s unmerited favor”. We knew that’s exactly who she was. My mighty little princess warrior.
It’s incredible to know that because of God’s timing and His working everything out for our good, we have our daughter. Losing our first baby last year was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me. But even in the midst of the pain, I felt my God’s presence. I knew He was faithful and was ever so close to my heart. My second pregnancy was a constant opportunity to trust Jesus and meditate on His goodness…not my fears. And our beautiful daughter is one more example of how loving and good my God remains. If we hadn’t lost our first baby, I would not have Raelyn. It’s hard to explain how that makes me feel. It does not ease the heartache and depth of loss I still feel. I am not glad that it happened. However, God used that pain to teach me more about His heart than any “happy” season of my life. And He has created something beautiful through the timing and through His plan…the sweet life I now hold in my arms every day. (She’s pretty incredible, I gotta tell ya.)
So be encouraged, as I have been. He is good. Being able to see more clearly that He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning has made me fall in love with Him even more.
 
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
Our little peanut now sleeps through the night and has started allowing me to put her in her swing throughout the day so I can get things done. Like I said, she’s pretty incredible. So, I am looking forward to talking with you more. You are special to me & I have prayed for you during my absence…and sleep deprivation.
Blessings, sweet friend.