Tuesday, October 25, 2016

learning the art of slow living

As each day passes, I can see and feel it more and more... the joy that surrounds living slowly, savoring each moment, and really trying to be intentional about being in the moment. Having a baby has taught me to be intentional about not letting the moment slip by without enjoying it and really savoring it. 

I don't want to always have my phone in my hand or always think I have to be doing something to seem busy and important to people around me. I don't want to blink and regret not enjoying every single day, every single stage and season of Josie's life or my marriage. The more I choose to let the dishes sit in the sink for another hour to sit in the floor with Josie, watching her play and making her laugh, the more joy I feel in my heart. Of course there are days when I have to clean the house but even in those moments, I am learning to be thankful for the home I live in, the food I have to cook, and the toys I have to pick up off the floor everyday. 

I used to dread cleaning my house or cooking dinner but when I stop and thank God for these blessings, these "chores" become my joys and they create in me a thankful and content heart. I'm slowly learning to savor each moment... the sweet moments when my sweet girl cuddles up into my hair or kisses my cheek, the tough moments when I'm tired and exhausted from being pregnant---a complete blessing from God, the mundane days filled with laundry and dirty dishes made by the people I love the most in life, and the easy days when my house is clean and my husband is off of work early to enjoy his family.

 I'm so guilty of thinking of life as a to-do list but God is showing me that life is more about enjoying every moment that He gives us. I am choosing not to fret over an imperfect home. I am choosing to cherish this role, this season, this life. 

I want to stop what I'm doing to go outside and listen to the birds sing. I want to watch my baby sleep because one day, she won't have big pudgy cheeks and tiny little hands. I want to kiss my husband longer and hug him more because everything can wait when he comes home from work. I want to put my phone away and watch my child laugh and learn so many new little things... or enjoy the smell of my grandma's chili recipe simmering in the crockpot all day.. or turn the TV off and let my soul be nourished in His Word. 

I want to be available and open to God's plan for my every day. And I can't do that if my own schedule is full of things to keep myself busy. I am learning the art of slow living, of taking every moment captive, of taking little "snapshots" in my mind of the blessings around me that God has specifically given to me to enjoy and praise Him for. 

Because that's what this life is about. And if we miss that, we miss out on Him. We miss out on life all together. Instagram or Facebook will always be around. Our families won't. Blogging can wait. Housework or hobbies that get in the way of enjoying your people can wait! Time doesn't wait for us. And we only have so much left. I'm choosing to savor and relish it in this gift.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Letter to my Daughter {before there are two}

My sweet Josie,

While you were still growing sweetly inside of me, I prayed for you. I prayed that you would be strong and joyful. Those two words stuck with me throughout my prayers for you as you grew inside of me.  You're only 8 months old but you already exude so much joy. And the world knows how strong you are with how you overcame so much when you were first born. You amaze me! The world is new and amazing to you.  I always imagined what you'd look like. I always daydreamed that you'd have big brown eyes and long brown hair. You'd dance around without a care. Already, we can see that you are a lover. You love to love. You love to cuddle, give kisses, burrow your little head into my hair, and lay on your daddy's chest. You love others so well already; you're an inspiration to me. You love and are so loved. Everyone that passes you, whether they are your friends and family or strangers, they always comment on how gorgeous you are, how happy you are. People can't help but be happy when they are around you and I know that you're going to use that for God's glory as you grow. Your smile, your laugh.. evidence of the joy that is from God. What a special person you are.. and you're not even a year old yet.

I never thought I could love someone like I love you. There have been some hard days when you were smaller and we were both learning. But every single day, I thank God for you. I thank Him for taking care of you and giving you great strength while you were in the NICU. Every time I look at you, I see God's faithfulness, His grace, His goodness. You are our precious gift from God.

Right now, you're our one and only. Your sister will be less than a year behind you and I think you're going to absolutely love having someone so close to grow up with. I know that when she gets here, it may be hard at first but I think, just like me and daddy, that having another baby in the house will naturally ease it's way into your life and heart just like you did for us when you came home at six days old.  I think you're going to love having someone your age that you can grow up with, exploring all God has for you both as you grow. I'm so thankful for that! I can see you two running around the house in dress up clothes, singing a funny song you made up just like your dad does.

 In just three short months, there will be two. Two sweet girls to love on and teach and hold and watch grow. But you'll always be my first baby that made me a momma. And I'll always love you, hug you, hold you, laugh with you, and cry with you. We'll always be there for you when you fall to pick you back up and dust you off. We'll be there in the good and bad, the sunshine and the rain. I pray everyday that you will know God and love Him more than anything the older you get. I pray for wisdom beyond your years. I pray for protection from what the world will tell you and that you will bravely and boldly know who you are in Christ. You are strong and brave! I'm so thankful for you and I can't wait to see what God has in store for your precious life!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016


The first few months of being a new mom, I honestly didn't struggle or deal with mom guilt. I was wrapped up in one thing: my new baby. Those first few months were quite a blur and everything I did revolved around our baby... feeding, pumping, recovering from a c-section, eating everything in sight,  crying alot and cuddling even more. Those things summed up my life. And while I did love every second of it (minus the PPD, of course), I held out hope that my life wouldn't always be consumed with these things. But it felt like a lifetime away. And then one day, I woke up and the newborn stage was over. It went just as quickly as it came upon us.

Josie wasn't needing to eat every 2 hours anymore and I eventually stopped pumping and moved onto formula (hallelujah!) and I knew that thing were getting somewhat easier. And that's when a new frenemy knocked on my door: mom guilt.

I was recovering and able to do things I used to do like workout, blog, take pictures, and read my Bible. I was starting to come out of the fog of postpartum depression and anxiety. Life felt normal again. Besides being pregnant again already, haha, but that's another story for another day.

As I was trying to create a daily routine, I found myself feeling so guilty when I wanted to do anything for myself. Mean little whispers filled my ears... "You're not a good mom!" "You have a baby to take care of, you don't have time for anything else!" "You always need to be giving your baby attention." "If you don't play with her or hold her 24/7, she'll never feel loved!" I had no idea where any of these feelings were coming from. I'd never felt them before. I feel like I'm a great mom, super loving and attentive. I know my baby better than she knows herself. Yet, anytime I tried to do anything that didn't involve Josie, I would feel like a total failure.

Every time my husband and I would go on a much-needed date, I would think about Josie almost the entire time. I wondered if she knew I was doing something else without her... as if a 5 month old thought about things like that. I own a photography business and any time I had to be gone to shoot a session, I felt the guilt creeping back into my head. I barely put any effort into my quiet time with God because I was so consumed with holding my baby constantly. I didn't open my laptop to write once for seven months because I felt like any time away from Josie, even though she was right beside me playing happily and carefree, was going to mess her up somehow. The mom guilt is real, y'all. But I knew that I didn't HAVE to feel like this. I really wanted to shut it out... I at least wanted to stop listening to that guilt in my head.

I realized that any guilt, even mom guilt, is from the enemy. Guilt is never from God. In fact, Jesus took away all guilt when He proclaimed, "It is finished." 

I had to accept that truth and live it out in my own life... as a mom and beyond. I hated carrying around the heavy weight of mom guilt and Jesus reminded me that that burden is not mine to bear. He wanted it. So, I gave it to Him. And I give it to Him daily, hourly even.

The enemy of my soul still tries to get to me fall into the lie of mom guilt but when I soak myself in God's truth and in prayer, I can fight against those lies that I am not a good mom if I simply do something I enjoy. I still have to tell myself not to worry when she is playing happily in the floor beside me and I am reading or writing. She doesn't mind and I shouldn't let it bother me either. Date nights are needed and I should never feel guilty for putting my husband first. Don't let the enemy lie to you either. Jesus came to take those burdens of feeling unworthy or not good enough. In Christ and only because of Him, I am FREE. And so are you.

I will not let Satan steal my motherhood and I will not let him steal my joy even for a day. Because my today belongs to God and I find all my hope in Him as a mom and outside motherhood. Jesus redeems every part of our life for His glory. He is worthy, mama, even when you feel like you aren't.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Seven Months Later... I'm Back!

I'm currently in the floor of Josie's nursery as she sweetly naps this evening. It's the first time I've typed on a computer in seven months. I'm a bit rusty. But I wanted to share my heart and a little bit of where I have been.

 I didn't plan to take such a long break from writing but motherhood is a demanding thing. It's so many things, actually. So many good, hard, beautiful, tiring, and precious things. Being a mom has rocked me to the core and then some. From a scary, life-altering whirlwind of a labor+delivery, not knowing what will happen in the next moment to slowly gaining confidence as the months go by as a new mother to a precious and tiny baby girl who has pretty amazing hair and those cheeks.. don't get me started on those cheeks.

Let's back track to February of this year. Maybe one day I will be ready to write about Josie's birth but that day (and the many days after that in the hospital) is still raw and looking back is still tender to the touch, hard to think about, and somewhat painful as I remember my baby hooked up to so many machines but honestly --- so overwhelmingly good because God was faithful to us during such a scary time. I grew so much in my trust in my Faithful and Wonderful God. Josie is as healthy and chunky (and long) now as ever and I'll never be able to put into words the thankfulness to God that I feel in my heart for showing us mercy, grace, protection, healing, and ultimately, His presence during the time that Josie was born and was in the hospital. I struggled with control for many years and in a moment, all I had was Jesus to cling to for my life and my freshly new daughter's life. That will strip you of any feelings of control you think you have.

I dealt with postpartum depression/anxiety for a solid five months and still battle some anxiety but God has been so faithful to deliver me from that. I definitely want to write more about that later on so that other moms can know that they are not alone.

And then, we recieved some big news in the midst of no sleep and feeding a two month old every 3 hours. We are pregnant again! I cried and my husband laughed and leaped for joy. And I cried some more. God definitely gives us more than we can handle but He never leaves us alone to deal with it ourselves. I'm almost 6 months pregnant with another healthy baby girl and I'm so thankful. And tired. Haha! 

I have grown so much in my relationship with God as I face trials of many kinds (mainly motherhood related). I'm trying to learn how to be a faithful mother while also being a faithful wife, servant, and most importantly Jesus follower. Everyone says it's a balance but honestly, I don't believe that. I am learning that when I give my ALL to Jesus every single day, He provides me with the strength and energy I need to be a mom, the love I need to be a wife and faithful servant of Christ to those around me.

Survival mode is where I have been these last seven months but slowly and surely, the Lord is showing me that He has abundantly more in store for me and every other precious person He has created no matter what role He has given you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Maternity Photos Part Two | Sweet Love

Happy Wednesday! Can you believe we are half way through February? This weekend we are celebrating my birthday, the first birthday of being pregnant and it's just so fun because instead of traveling back home, our families are coming to us!
If you didn't check out part one of our maternity photos, go check them out here! I love these next photos because they seem to capture the love between my husband and I. He is so ridiculously sweet to me and I think you can see that in these photos!

We cannot wait to welcome our sweet little princess into our life (any day now!) and I'm so glad we have these photos to look back on to remember the season of carrying our first sweet baby.

Five Ways to Include Your Man in Your Pregnancy

I've been so blessed and even a bit spoiled since becoming pregnant because Joe has been so so involved in this pregnancy. We found out that I was pregnant together. When I was sick and in the hospital (three times) at the beginning, he was by my side. When I was nervous and scared of labor before learning so much about it, he was by my side. Through every joy and celebration, he's been by my side. Through every contraction and back pain and every false labor pain, he was by my side. I wanted to share a few ways that he has been involved in this pregnancy!
Learn Together 
My husband and I have been reading and studying the Bradley Method (husband coached childbirth) Handbook and Study Guide together for a few months now. Anytime I'm reading about what to expect in labor and delivery or just pregnancy in general, I always tell him about it. I'm sure he has learned a ton! Sometimes we lay in bed and read about what to expect or study different methods of child birth. Getting your husband involved in learning about pregnancy and the birthing process is a perfect way to making him feel included in your pregnancy. I couldn't do it without my husband!  

Have a Co-Ed Baby Shower
This is an awesome and fun way to get your husband involved in your pregnancy. It's not just your baby so why not celebrate together?! I understand that some guys aren't about baby showers but it doesn't have to be all pink and girly (even though ours was and my husband still loved being there) and you don't have to make him change a baby doll in front of 30 people. This made is really real that we were having a baby!
Take Him to the Doctor with You
I'm so blessed to say that my husband has been able to come to all of my doctor's appointments. Of course, your husband may have to work but if it's possible, asking him to come to at least one with you will help him see that this is real and I'm sure he would love being there supporting you!
Go Baby Shopping Together
This is SO fun and I couldn't imagine baby shopping without my husband. I love, love, love going with my mom and sister but it's so special when Joe comes along because seeing him get excited over tiny baby girl clothes or strollers just makes my heart grow ten times bigger. We have made this into a fun date night which is great for our marriage as well!
Encourage Him to Talk to and Feel the Baby
Joe LOVES doing this and actually, Josie will only respond to his touch or voice and I think that's just precious. All he has to do is get close to my belly and say "Josieee, what are you doin' in there?" And she starts kicking and hitting like crazy. It's so special. I know she is already a daddy's girl. Remembering that while you are carrying and growing that sweet baby, you couldn't of done it without your man!
Let Him be a Special Part of the Birthing Process
Of course you don't have to make him deliver the baby (but totally should if he wants to!) but asking him if he wants to cut the cord or hold her/him as soon as possible or massage and help you throughout labor will be something you won't regret. I hear so much talk about how special the bond between baby and mom is which I'm sure is completely true but I know that there is a bond between a father and his child that is like no other as well. Treasure that!
I'm so thankful to be in this season of life with Joe by my side. I know that he is going to be the best birth coach and partner I could ever imagine! I couldn't do it without him.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Maternity Photos Part One | Our Favorite Spot

It's no secret that Joe and I love going on dates.. date days, date nights, date weekends.. we love doing life together! When it was time for our maternity photos, we knew we wanted to capture some photos in our favorite location, downtown in our city. Our favorite restaurant and ice cream parlor is downtown along with a plethora of thrift stores, the river, the outdoor activities, the art, boutiques, and the longest pedestrian walking bridge. I love our city! I think we will love it even more with a little mini-me added to our family!
We had two outfit changes and the first was a casual and cozy. I loved how they turned out and I can't wait to put them up in our home. This first one makes me so happy!



Stay tuned for the next set of our maternity photos.. they are a bit more fancy shmancy! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tons of Tools & Inspiration for the Girl Boss

"I've got some dreeeams... she's got some dreams!" If you can tell me what movie this is from, we can totally be friends. For the past few months, I've been dreaming and scheming and wishing and hoping. Not only for our baby girl to enter into the world (any day now!) but also for what the future may hold. I've always had a thing for being creative. I've always had a dream of owning a quaint little coffee shop with a mini library tucked in the back. I've dreamt of hanging local art on the walls and showcasing lovely local scarves and jewelry and mugs. It's a big dream but a favorite of the few dreams I have for myself.
Another favorite is going to be kept secret for now but one day soon.. (after I get the handle on being a first time mom...) I will let you all in on the little secret I've been planning so stay tuned! I'm finally going for it. I've been too scared of failure, of the "what-ifs", of the comparison, but after an awesome talk with my husband over lunch one day a few weeks ago, when he told me that he completely supported anything and everything I wanted to do in this dream and will help me along the way,
 I'm going for it.
With that said, I love research. I have a growing list of my favorite places to go for inspiration on being a girl boss, a momtrepreneur, or whatever name you want to call someone who is in the business of going after her dreams of business and creativity. 
My Favorite Websites for Tools + Inspiration:
White Oak Creative - gorgeous site full of inspiration and help to get you going!
The Nectar Collective - Melyssa, my favorite go-to lady when it comes to anything creative business, inspiration, blogging and business focused teaching, and seriously just about anything you can think of. She is a genius and her attitude is contagious!
Entrepenueur Magazine - packed full of inspiration to really get you going! I love this site when I'm in the mood to be business-minded & serious about my game plan.

By Regina - this lady is on fire when it comes to being focused & business minded and she has so many loads of resources for you!
Jess Connolly - if anyone was my role model for all things creative + God focused, this gal would take the cake. just check out her blog and you'll see why. She co-founded The Influence Network + started Naptime Diaries Shop (both amazing and worthy of your time to check out).
Thrive Moms - not exactly business-focused but these moms who choose to thrive instead of just survive are so inspirational!! I cannot say enough good things.

XO Sarah - She's bold, passionate, & so business/blogging/freelancing savvy.. crazy right?!
Elle & Co. - a lovely resource for designers and bloggers and even business owners!
Career Contessa - this site is just genius and provides you with everything you need to be inspired to chase your dreams effectively!

Sarah Titus - super inspirational #momtrepeneur you want on your team. She seriously does it all!
Other ways to be inspired in your creative business endeavors:
-Search + Utilize Pinterest
-Listen to focused Podcasts that inspire
-Join a "Girl Boss" focused facebook group
-Purchase an Influence class

Monday, February 8, 2016

Our Valentines Day Plans

This year's Valentines Day is super special for Joe and I for a number of reasons.. One- it's our last V-Day without having children in the picture for the rest of our lives! Two- our sweet Josie girl is due 13 days after V-Day although at the way things are looking, she may be out by then! We wanted to make this Valentine's Day special and very "us" since for some reason, our V-Days always seem to get messed up which is so funny because normally, everything always goes so smoothly date night wise. But every year Feb. 14th rolls around, something crazy happens like we end up leaving the restaurant we went on one of our first dates to because they wouldn't let us order what we wanted to.
Maybe this year, we will end up celebrating in the hospital with our freshly born girl (I hope.. she is getting so big in there!). Or we may not even get to go anywhere in case she comes early. But if she decides to wait as long as she can, we decided to go ahead and plan what our favorite day would look like and then go for it (even if we have to celebrate two weeks early!)
My sweet husband got to choose the beginning of the day and then I chose to end. We decided to plan on celebrating on Saturday which is technically the day before Valentine's Day since Sunday we have church and I thought it would be fun to make a fun-filled day out of it. I asked him what his favorite day would look like (without traveling, since ya know, 9 months pregnant and all) and I added a few of my favorite things to it!  

+Sleep in as much as we want + then have breakfast in bed!
+On the menu: Pancakes, Bacon, & Eggs and some delicious hot Coffee
+Hang out all morning in bed being super lazy and have our quiet time
then probably watch The Office

+Get ready & go downtown for lunch at our favorite restaurant ever
+Walk around downtown (one of our favorite things to do together)
+Go see a movie of Joe's choosing

After Movie:
+Go to a yummy local coffee shop and finish reading our birthing book and read a chapter of the book Joe is going through with some guys in the church about studying God's Word (it's SO good!) while enjoying a sweet treat and a delicious hot latte.
+Take silly photos together like always.
+After hanging out downtown, maybe check out Anthropology & J. Crew (since I doubt we will want to go once the baby is born and I have a coupon for my birthday!)

+Get ready and go have dinner at a fancy restaurant
+Go back home to make chocolate covered strawberries, a fun dessert we find on Tasty, & make something for Josie (either a letter or painting or something sweet! That was Joe's idea.. he is the most romantic and most considerate guy ever.. best husband award!)

This is my definition of a perfect day and I can't wait to spend it with the one I love most on this earth! Now if only we can get in this fun day before Josie arrives!
What are your plans for Valentines Day if any? If you don't have any, what would your perfect day look like?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tips on Rebranding, Getting Focused, + Starting Fresh!

A few months ago, I completely rebranded my blog. I used to blog at "Hot Tea and the Empty Seat" but I wanted to get more focused and inspired, so I started Life Encouraged, a place to encourage and be real. I have so many dreams for this space but for now, I'm taking it one day at a time (and sometimes a week at a time when I am organized enough to schedule posts!).
Audrey White of Whimsy & Co. designed my new look and let me just say that she is amazing! My new blog turned out to be better than I could of ever imagined. 
I wanted to share a bit of the process with you in case you are in the process of rebranding or thinking about it. Go for it! It's the best thing I've done for my blog!
1. I chose a designer whose style, cost, and personality fit my own. I made a list of things I wanted for my blog design and went from there. My list looked a bit like this: clean, white space, professional looking yet still cozy and welcoming with soft colors and a pop of inspiration.
2. I wrote a manifesto to get myself focused on what I wanted this blog to look like. I want to encourage women in all stages of life to live fully and freely in my writing and blogging endeavors.
3. I searched for inspiration through Pinterest and other successful purpose-driven blogs that I look up to like Coffee + Crumbs, Love Taza, and many others.
4. I prayed that God would use my little blog to ultimately inspire, encourage, and point others to Him!
After these things, Audrey and I got to work (well, she did all the work but I researched and planned like a crazy person!)
This is the inspiration board she made for my blog and I fell in love...
A week or two later, she sent me headers to choose from and I chose this one...
This is my mission statement for this blog (a great way to stay focused on your blog!)
Aren't they just perfection?! I absolutely love everything about my new blog design and that makes a huge difference in my motivation and inspiration to write my heart out.
I hope those few simple tips can help you get started with your own rebrand!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Currently No. 2 | February

Well that was quick! I feel like I blinked and January is now over! I didn't even get to write out my January goals list but just being honest, I didn't have many goals other than learn how to give birth naturally and effectively (which I'm still reading everything I can get my hands on) and hold out until February to have this baby. This month, my only goal is to have this baby!  
 I'm linking up with Jenna for another installment of Currently February. I love getting a little peek into the lives of the many lovely bloggers I follow. I hope you enjoy it too!

sending // thank you cards out this month to all the precious people who bought for us at our baby shower this past December & another one in January which just reminded me that I need to blog about that!

eating // everything in sight particularly Panera Soup + their yummy Cobb salad.. I will miss being pregnant and eating whatever I want!

dreaming // of what our precious Josie girl is going to look like.. her eyes, hair, cheeks, sweet smile.. I can't wait. Just a few more days!

smelling // I love burning candles and currently have three b&bw candles burning in our house right now.. my favorite being marshmallow peppermint... mmmm :)

hearting // my sweet husband who has been my rock these past few days filled with contractions and false labor. He is my forever Valentine!

what are you currently hearting? <3
Currently No. 2

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Very Short List of Goals this February

Happy February! It's my favorite month of the year (especially this year since we will be welcoming our baby girl into the world!). Here is my very short list of things I want to accomplish this month:

1. Celebrate Valentines Day & my birthday!!

2.  Survive Thrive at natural childbirth and rock at it! And be very nice to my husband during the process!

3. Actually finish our Bradley Method book and workbook before baby makes a run for it!

4. Try really hard not to go into the hospital with all of these false labor contractions that have been happening everyday. And also try not to cry when they are not regular or getting worse.. oh the anticipation is unbearable!

5. Post our maternity photos on this blog before baby actually gets here because that's just awkward...

6. Post photos of her sweet nursery before it becomes occupied!
7. Have a baby!
What are your goals this February?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Guy Behind the Blog | Vol. 1

I love currently posts (they're just fun!) so I knew I wanted my sweet hubs to jump in and take over the blog for a day. Enjoy!
Watching: The Office (this is our third time going through all of the seasons.. haha!)
Reading: The Bible. ("More specifically, what book?...") All of it. ("haha! no seriously..") Jonah and Acts (and we are also reading the Bradley Method book together!)
Listening to: Your yappin' (LOL good one!?)
Dreaming of: You and Josie (then he smiles sweetly.. awww)
Eating: Lots of candy (Seriously, he bought a giant bag of Smarties and then on a game night, he and his friend bought two bags of gummie bears?!)
Learning: How to be a dad!
Wishing: I could be a dad! (Awww, yeah we are so ready!)
Obsessed with: Being a dad. (he's precious)
Loving: You and God (love him)
Planning: To have a baby (yes!!!)
Next time he takes over the blog, we will have ours a tiny little baby! We are so ready!
Thanks for hosting this fun linkup, Betsy & Laura Jean!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Faves - Mom Edition


+ I shared an update of my pregnancy with Josie this week (34 weeks, woot!) which included a maternity sneak peek photo + all the "fun" side effects of the third trimester!

+ This week, I opened up my heart and shared my fears + excitements about welcoming our first baby into our family. Am I the only one afraid of minivans, mom jeans, & all the scary pains of birth?

+ This week, through Pinterest, I found The Glow which is like a fun online magazine full of inspiring moms & their precious kids. It's a good blog to check out when you are in need of inspiration + fashion advice.

+ My husband and I are going through the Bradley Method (husband as the birth coach!) and I love reading these birth stories and getting pumped up about Josie's upcoming birth day. If you've ever done the Bradley Method or went medicine-free, I want all the details!!!

+ Have you checked out these prayers to pray during your pregnancy? I hope it's encouraging to you!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fears & Excitement Over the Arrival of Our First Baby

In less than two months, my husband and I (along with our super spoiled pup) will welcome our first baby into our family. For us, this is such a big deal. Our lives will never be the same! I wanted to share some of the fears and excitements that we are experiencing as we patiently await the arrival of our firstborn baby girl!
1. Fear of Giving Birth
I've always had fears of giving birth. I mean, fear to the point of never wanting to have kids. I'm a total baby when it comes to pain. And I'm super tense. Combine those two things together and I always told myself that I could never give birth. I'm realizing that that is such a lie! (another post for another day). I've always said that I have wanted an epidural and wanted it to go as easy and as fast as humanly possible because I thought I couldn't do it. Now that I am pregnant and have learned so much about birth and how medicine can effect the baby along with the great benefits of going medicine-free, I decided I wanted to go as natural as possible. I want to prove to myself that I am strong and for our baby, to keep her as healthy and alert as I can help. Before deciding this, I was praying for peace because of my intense fears of giving birth. God absolutely answered my prayers and now I have such a peace about giving birth although there are times where I start to worry about the pain. But I know I'm not the only one who has went through this!
2. Excitement of Experiencing New Life with My Husband  
My husband and I decided to do the Bradley Method, which is a husband-led way of going through the amazing process of birth. My husband is my rock and the place I know I can go for relaxation and peace during any kind of circumstance so I know he is going to be the best birthing coach I could even imagine! He is so calming and supportive and I can not wait to experience the amazing miracle of bringing a new life into the world with the person I love the most on earth. We know that God is going to do great things!
3. Fear of Our Baby Changing My Identity
I've always had a fear that once I become a mom, I won't be able to do the things I love anymore. There is a fear in me of being completely changed and turning into someone whose world revolves around her children and doesn't really see anything besides them. It's a real fear in my heart that I will become so involved or so wrapped up that I will lose a part of who I am.. I am afraid to drive a minivan at the age of 23. I am afraid of mom jeans and letting myself go. I am afraid of women my age with no children not building friendships with me because I'm not in their season anymore (something I am guilty of doing before I got pregnant). I guess I am afraid that being a mom is going to make me feel less than who I am.
4. Excitement of Our Baby Making Me a Mother
Even though I do struggle with believing the lie that motherhood will make me lose a part of who I am, I am so excited, so humbled, and so honored that I am gaining a new part of me. God is blessing me and entrusting me and my husband to be parents to His precious children. What an honor! I have to remind myself that I can still write and create and take photos and shop every now and then. I don't have to go buy a minivan anytime soon and I can still reach out to my friends without kids and go out to coffee and laugh (with a baby sweetly sleeping on my chest). Who I am will be changing but motherhood will only be enhancing who I am, not taking away who I am. And for that, I am so excited.
5. Fear of Our Baby Affecting Our Marriage
This is probably the biggest fear I have about having children. I see precious couples choose their kids over each other all the time. And it hurts. It hurts my heart to see wives neglecting the needs and wants of their husband. Without realizing that that is a choice, I fear falling into that trap. I am head over heels in love with my husband and as much as I can't wait to have children, I decided a long time ago to never put my kids about my husband. I'm sure it's easier said than done especially when that little newborn needs her mama every 2 hours to eat and in between, but I know it's not impossible. But the opportunity of a baby affecting our marriage in a negative way is really a fear of mine.  
6. Excitement of Our Baby Growing in us a New Love for One Another
I have seen marriages grow apart over time when children come into the picture but I have also seen the amazing ways that having a baby enhances a marriage. I've heard wives say that seeing their husbands as a daddy makes their heart grow 100 times bigger for them. They fall in love with their husbands all over again. They rely even more so on each other. And I know that having a baby doesn't have to affect our marriage in a negative way but that it was grow and make our marriage flourish and for that, I am more than ecstatic! I've always wanted to be a mom and my husband has always wanted to be a dad (he's going to be the best dad ever!) and we are so ready to have our own little family. I can't wait to take our little girl on camping trips, downtown during the summer, to the pool, and on little dates. I can't wait to get a babysitter and spend all night with just my husband. I can't wait to send my husband and daughter off on daddy-daughter date nights. I can't wait to fall more in love with my husband every day, through every pregnancy and every year our family grows bigger and bigger.
What are some of your fears about becoming a mother? What are you most excited for?

linking up this morning with Holly, Jenn,

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pregnancy Update - 34 Weeks!

Pregnancy Catch Up  

How far along: 34 weeks, 4 days

Size of Baby: approx. 17 in. & 5 lbs!

Symptoms: Oh how I have hit the fun part of pregnancy. I'm well into the third trimester and everything is achey and painful and I've lost my 2nd trimester energy. Boo! But that just means it's almost over and we get to see Josie so soon! My iron levels are still really low so I have to take a stronger dose of supplement so please pray that my levels go up before birth!

Hubby: He has been so supportive with me not feeling well lately and we have been preparing for the natural, medication-free childbirth that he is so excited about!

Total weight gain: So far in this pregnancy, I've gained 13 lbs.
Maternity clothes: Oh yes. All the time, sweatpants and my hubby's tshirts. Haha.  
Sleep: I switched sides with my husband and somehow it has helped so much with my sleep. I used to get about 4 hours and then be up for good and it was horrible. I still get up about 8 times during the night to potty but at least I can sleep a bit later!

Best moment of this week: We had our maternity photos this weekend which I cannot wait to share next week! Also, my sister and I made a hobby lobby trip to get fabric for headbands for sweet Josie girl. We're about to start making them today.. so excited!
Also, my family has helped us get her nursery into shape.. we love it!

Miss anything: energy :)

Movement: She is so active still which is amazing to me but now she is so big that her kicks are pretty painful which makes me laugh.. such an active little girl. Funny story: this morning, I had my coffee cup resting on my belly as I was blogging and she tried kicking it off. She hates when anything is touching my stomach, she always hits and kicks it until I move, haha! Sassy already!
Food cravings: EVERYTHING! My doctor actually instructed me to eat more so no complaints about that ;)  
Anything making you queasy or sick: It has taken me 8 months but I can finally say that nothing really makes me nauseous anymore!

Have you started to show yet: Oh yes! HUGE. I am all belly!!
Gender: A GIRL! Josie Kate :) 

Happy or moody most of the time: I've been struggling with some hormone changes in this new third trimester.. it's not easy!

Looking forward to: Seeing her sweet face in 6 or less weeks!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

when change doesn't bring a road map

This morning, I am soaking up this quiet moment of no sounds but only the rain splashing on the window outside. In just a month, my life is going to change forever.
No more sitting and doing nothing but being still in the silence. we live in a life of ever-changing seasons and I'm more than excited for this new life change of adding a human to our family coming up.
And even through transition and change and new adventures to places that don't come with maps, I can always rest in the One who NEVER changes. Ever! My God, my Strong Foundation.
Through every changing chapter, He remains the same loving God. He is forever my Rock and my never changing merciful father.
And he will be my rock when baby comes, when the winter melts and another year passes and more babies come, and the grey hair grows, and the memories of newlywed life turn into the fun tales we tell our grandchildren, and through the years of loving and living and so much changing and until the day we finally go Home..
Through every season.. He will be our rock and our mighty unchanging one.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

When God Restores: Our Story

I just wanted to share a bit of our story with you all in hopes of encouraging at least one person. I haven't wanted to share because this story, our story, let's you into the deep places of my heart. A couple of months ago, Faith, from Life With Mrs. G and the Artist, asked me to guest post for her for her marriage series, "After I Do". I figured I would do a lighthearted post like "5 ways to be a better wife" or whatever. But after much thinking, I knew I should share our story. So I did. But now, I want to share it with all of you. Because God is so good and stories of God's goodness can empower and encourage.
My husband and I have been married for almost three years. Honestly, he is like my dream husband. I have no idea what I did to deserve such an awesome man! We love laughing together, being lovey-dovey with one another, and holding hands 100% of the time. But things haven't always been rainbows and butterflies. 
When we got married, I was having female health issues. I've always had really bad issues and had multiple surgeries, nothing too terribly serious (in regards to what other people have to go through) but also not fun at all. Every month, I was down for at least two weeks. I had a couple surgeries to fix cysts and what not, but nothing seemed to help. I was terrified of the doctor therefore when my husband and I got married, those issues were still going on but I was too scared to address them. I was in pain, physically, which led to emotional and spiritual pain. It took a toll on us intimately. I blamed God for making me "broken" and even if we wanted to have kids right off the bat, it wouldn't of been possible. I let my circumstances control me and in doing so, I lost all hope to be healthy and normal. 

I let my circumstance be my identity... "broken + messed up" is what I labeled myself. We still went to church, worshipped, prayed together, read the Bible, studied, and had fun. I'm sure everything looked perfect from the outside. But inside, this trial was tearing me apart. Night after night, I would be up sobbing, desperate for change, for hope. I was torn apart inside. I hated who I was.

 My husband never once left my side or turned away from me. He had hope but for me, it felt like an attack on who I was as a woman and a person so I couldn't seem to muster up the faith it took to have hope in such a seemingly desperate trial.

I had surgery in February of 2014, about seven months after being married, and a doctor ended up taking a bit of cells away that were precancerous. If we wouldn't of been having any issues and if everything had been left unnoticed, I could of ended up getting REALLY sick. That was the first huge miracle of God working in the midst of this trial. A little glimmer of hope. I remember crying in the parking lot thanking God for looking out for me. Maybe all would be better! We could finally get on with our lives. But instead of holding onto that hope, I let myself fall back into failure, trusting in the hope of a better circumstance instead of hoping and trusting in a Good Father. For the next year, I tried doctor after doctor and even went to a physical therapist for help. Nothing worked and I became depressed and hopeless. Looking back, I was focused so much on myself and my circumstances that I never once trusted that God was working on my behalf.
Somehow through all of this, I never stopped seeking God. Which was strange because I pretty much blamed God for making me like this. But I did love Him and I did want to be healed so I kept seeking Him in my darkness. In the midst, I would of not told you that I got mad at Him, blamed Him, or pretty much stopped believing He could fix me (but I did do those things) and yet, He gave me supernatural strength to keep seeking Him, through His Word.
And one day I remember Jesus telling me personally in my heart, "I am hope." Those three words were exactly what I needed. Exactly. It all clicked. I realized that I hadn't been trusting God at all. I had let this trial suffocate my faith and hope in Jesus. I let circumstances become bigger than my faith in Jesus. He reminded me that it doesn't have to be like that. I can have peace and hope and faith and confidence that God would work it all out for His glory. Slowly, I started to believe that and out of the pit of despair I ran.

I can't explain to you how God healed me. I can't promise that my story will be just like your story. But I know that God is healer, no matter what. A few months later, there was no more physical pain in me. And my husband and I were able to be intimate. God saved me from the downward spiral that I was going and out of His grace and mercy, He blessed us. BECAUSE HE IS GOOD. And because He has bigger plans that no earthly trial could stop. A few months after God healing me and restoring my faith in Him and restoring our marriage, we found out that we were expecting a baby! A miracle. A true miracle. I had all but lost hope in God completely but my husband never gave up hope and God never gave up on me.
When you walk through trials in your marriage, do it together. When you walk through trials in your life, don't do it alone. YOU DON"T HAVE TO. Through all of this, we had people praying for us. In our small group, they were praying that God would restore. Reach out... even when it hurts. Lean into your husband no matter what. Emotionally and physically speaking. Whatever your trial may be, don't give up on each other. And keep seeking God. Don't lose hope. Your circumstance may seem hopeless. It really might and you may not be able to see any light but I promise it's there. Because Jesus is that light and He is always there. The darkest night is always met with a glorious bright morning. Because Jesus is in control of the sun! And that goes for your personal life as well. He is able, friend.

And whether it's your spouse who is hurting or if it's you, it doesn't matter. Your hurt is his hurt. His hurt is yours. The heart issues, physical issues, the pride and sin, the weakness, it's both of yours. You are one. Take on his burden like it is your own.
Don't blame God and don't run from Him. His love for you is real and He SEES YOU. He sees your pain and your trial. And He alone is healer. He is Redeemer, that is who He is! He can and wants to redeem YOU and your heart. So much of what I went through was physical and yet spiritual. And still, nothing can hinder the work that He is doing.
Through this trial, my husband and I grew so close together. Had it not been for this issue in our first year of marriage, we can both honestly say that we wouldn't of experienced God in the way that we did had we not went through the valley. The way we viewed God changed and grew into this reverence and awe. And the way we loved one another grew and changed completely. God restored me, my heart, my joy, our oneness, and even He restored my physical body. Most of all, He restored my faith in Him. Because He wants His children to trust in Him, because He knows that it is for our good and His glory. He is good and He is worthy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Currently No. 1 // January

 January has been off to a pretty productive start which is always a good thing in my book! Today I'm linking up with Jenna + Anne to talk about what is currently going on in our lives this month!


resolving | to set my mind on eternity // for the past few years, I have chosen one word to focus on in the new year instead of choosing resolutions. this year, I chose eternity and you can read all about why here! I want my mind and all I do to be set on eternity. I have been asking myself, "will this matter in 20,000 years?" Normally the answer is no so I know what I need to focus on in life. I want to say YES to that question more this year, focusing on sharing His love with others.

reading |  The Bradley Method Book which focuses on natural, husband-coached childbirth + Ina May's guide to childbirth... // both amazing books! I am so excited to go through childbirth with my husband as my coach and encourager. He is the best as keeping me calm, peaceful, and relaxed in situations when I don't want to be so I know he will be the best! I recommend these books for anyone!

organizing | our home! // Our first baby is making her debut into the world in possibly less than SEVEN WEEKS! Y'all, I am organizing like crazy. We have to make room for her which is so crazy to think about. All we have to do is organize the kitchen, finish hanging wall d├ęcor, get our bedroom in order, finish her nursery, and put up new trim and get this house sanitized. Oh man.

loving | the season that I am in // the joy and pure love on my husband's face when he feels Josie kicking and moving around, getting woke up in the middle of the night feeling Josie hiccupping, and praising God for His grace in this season of my life. My heart hurts for those women still waiting for this season that I don't deserve to be in. But I am humbled and so thankful and desire to raise Josie to fear and love her God!

craving | oh, just everything. // Josie is growing like a weed since we are in the final stretch of her growing in my belly. She's eating all of my food so I am having to eat more (literally requested by my doctor.. I'm not complaining, haha). I can't wait to put all of my grandma's recipes to work in the kitchen this month. First up: her famous chicken casserole + yummy peach cobbler. 
I am excited for what the rest of January brings as I strive to set my mind on what is important to the Kingdom of God!