I took these photos the day Mabel turned 11 months old and had full intentions of posting them later that evening. Then life happened, and here we are 9 days before my sweet girl’s first… More
It’s safe to say that it its fairly miserable over here. We have had a few winter storms in the past few weeks, causing there to be an overwhelming abundance of snow, but now the temperature is hovering above freezing and pouring rain, causing the world to be filled with slush and puddles galore. My tendency when this weather persists is to growl at everyone and hole up, searching for something to take my mind off of the persistent cold and lack of sunshine. I’m trying to be better, trying to find small joys throughout the grey days. Especially with a small person who is at the age where she will mimic what I am doing and sometimes what I am saying. She may be small and young, but she is so curious and observant, and I just know she is soaking everything in and will regurgitate it when we least expect it.
And her heart is just so, so sweet. She is curious and empathetic, and clearly becomes concerned when something is awry. Even if I just need some extra lovin’, she can detect it and will flash a toothy grin or attack me with a snuggle. Today, after a full afternoon of swimming at the pool then running a couple errands, I picked her up to take her into the bedroom for her nap. She promptly grabbed my face with both of her hands, and gave me several big kisses on my chin, then came in closer for a big, squeezing hug, slightly patting my back with her hand. Um . . . ! My mama heart just about exploded. We then proceeded to go into the bedroom to nurse for a few minutes before her nap, then I usually have to lie down next to her while she is still awake and sing to her, making sure she doesn’t try to stand up and just play. But this time, after I nursed her and carried her to the crib, her head snuggled into my shoulder, clearly tired. I gently laid her down, expecting her to start whining and waking, but she just laid down, snuggled into the mattress, and fell asleep. I quietly backed out of the room, shut the door, then started to tear up. I mean, this is what we’ve been working towards, her being able to just settle in and fall asleep, but I just didn’t know when it would start. This may have been a fluke, but I know we are moving in that direction, the direction of her growing and learning and becoming more independent. I am so proud of her. This has been such a big step in the way we sleep and our daily routine, and she has shown how strong and capable she is. I can’t help but type this with tears running down my face because I am acutely aware that she is, indeed, growing up. She is still a baby, but becoming a little girl, who will grown into a strong, fierce, gentle woman who will without a doubt change the world and everyone she meets. It is such an overwhelming responsibility to raise her in this crazy world, but more than anything, it is an honour and a privilege.
Happy January! We had our first Christmas as a family of three and it was so much fun! Mabel took things very seriously, but she really did enjoy herself! She loved the little rocking lamb we got her (ok, its actually a bunny, but c’mon! It looks like a lamb with floppy ears, so we’re going with lamb.), even though it sings “You Are My Sunshine” in a semi-creepy tone! We just won’t press that button that often, even though Mabel likes it! We had our Christmas Eve service, then late dinner of tourtière at the in-laws house. Back home for some sleep, then Christmas morning we woke up to open a couple of Mabel’s first presents! The lamb from us, and some blocks from Gramma & Grandpoppa in Missouri (my parents). We stayed in our pjs, packed everything else into the car, and headed up the hill to the in-laws to open the rest of the presents and have brunch. It was a peaceful day filled with family, and it was amazing! Now I will bombard you with cute baby pictures. 🙂
This picture is from our family photo shoot on Christmas Eve morning- I cant get over how cute these two are. They have my heart!
I got to lead worship for our Christmas Eve service-so fun!
Christmas morning . . .
Clearly, she was over presents an needed a nap asap! haha
If you stayed until the end, bless you. And I hope your Christmas was great!
Merry Christmas Eve! I had the opportunity to share my testimony in the local paper this month, and it was such an honour to share the ways that God has changed my life so radically! I thought I would post the article here for you all to enjoy as well. I hope it encourages your heart.
Also, here’s a picture of somewhere sunny, just in case you forgot what it feels like to be warm. 😉
It was supposed to stay a secret. It wasn’t a big deal, really, I tried to tell myself.The world slowly spun around me as I confessed my past to a friend on a sticky, warm summer evening. The street lights burned yellow as I told him of the suppressed memories, years of sexual abuse that I still believed at 19 years old were my fault. This was the first I had spoken of it, feeling shame burn hot in my cheeks as I tried to play it down. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I was desperate for someone to know; it had affected so many areas of my life and become a burden I knew I could no longer carry on my own.
I grew up in the Midwest in a Christian family; church-going, homeschooled, carefully watched over, and what some may describe as “sheltered.” My parents are amazing, loving people and did the best they could to protect us and love us with their all, but sometimes life happens, and an extended family member has the chance to take advantage of a small, vulnerable girl. Because of these years of abuse, I had very skewed ideas about myself, what it meant to be beautiful, how to catch the attention of men, and my identity as a woman but also as a Christian, a daughter of God. I held this secret shame until I couldn’t stand it, then shared it with a few close friends. At this point in my life, I felt no connection to the values I was raised with, fed up with Christians who seemed to say one thing and live out another. I felt I couldn’t share with people who constantly pretended to have their lives together, a shiny veneer on top of whatever was really going on inside them. I have a very clear memory of sitting at my university, talking to God and telling Him I was done; done trying to be a perfect, fake version of myself so I could fit in with others who were also faking it. I was just done. In that stillness that came after I had ranted and cried and given up, I heard God speak to me. He gently brought to mind the ways I could help others, who have less, but also, the ways I could help others with their pasts because of the past I had. I wasn’t sure how I could help people, but that evening I signed up to go to Guatemala with a group that was going to build a hospital for a village. Then a couple months later, I went to Mexico to help build a school for a small town. During these times, I was still wrestling with how my past had anything to do with these people, and though I could offer a helping hand, I still wasn’t sure how my past could affect them.
A few months later, after struggling and figuring out why I believed what I believed, I decided to sign up for a six month Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission. Three months of lectures and training in Maui, three months of outreach in Southeast Asia. During these lectures I expected to deal with cross-cultural communication, introduction to the language, and what sort of outreach we would be doing in each village. While we did cover that, we mainly studied through the Bible, learning more about the goodness of God, His holiness, His love, and His Father heart towards us all, as well as our purpose here on earth: to know Him, make Him known to others, and to bring Him glory in all we do. As I studied and grew closer to God, I felt my past creeping in, and the uncertainty of how to believe that something like this could happen to me and believe in the goodness and love of God, believing that He is good all the time. I confided in some of the staff and continued to believe that I was there for some kind of purpose.
During one of the weeks of teachings, we focused on our past hurts and the ways our hearts have been wounded, or ways we have been scarred. We were encouraged to move through the hurts, forgive, and release it, letting go of the baggage we had been carrying on our own. The abuse shot to the front of my mind and clouded everything. Let it go? How was I to do that? It had changed the way I thought about myself, about everything, and I couldn’t just ignore it because what kind of injustice would that be? I cried through gritted teeth as I prayed, telling God that I had to take care of this, I had to be the one to search for justice, because I didn’t trust anyone else to do it for me. I couldn’t let it go because I didn’t believe that I would actually be taken care of if I released it. Hot, angry tears continued to come, and I clenched my fists in refusal. But God, in His faithfulness when I was stubborn, gave me the words from Isaiah 41:10:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This was a promise. I was scared out of my mind, having believed I was alone in this for years. I didn’t believe that I could ever work through this and be restored, but here was a promise from God that He would be with me. He wasn’t going to let me flounder and figure this out on my own, but He would strengthen me, help me, and uphold me. With Him and through Him, there was a wholeness I hadn’t imagined was possible. He would be with me as I searched and sifted through the lies I had believed about myself, and He would be there to speak His Truth into my heart, reminding me of who I was in Him, as His beloved daughter.
Since that moment ten years ago, God has worked in my heart and in my life so greatly, and I am thankful every day. There are different seasons, times of growing, stretching, and learning more about how to trust and be who I was created to be, and times of rest when I am able to bask in His intense love. It is a journey of healing, and I am now able to see how my past can help others. There are many who may have experienced similar abuse and are lost, feeling shamed and broken, but there is wholeness that can be found in Christ alone. I am forever grateful for His love and the way He changed my life.
Merry Christmas Eve, all. xo
I started to write this post several times, not knowing what words to use, trying on titles such as “Not Enough” and “When I Just Can’t.” But with titles like that, words that have already been over used too many times, and didn’t even accurately describe what I was feeling in those depths, the closed closets inside me. I was getting angry, partially raging hormones, partially frustration of expectations not going as planned. The immature tantrums of a child not getting her way. They never lasted long, just rose unexpectedly and fiercely.
Why would I get so angry at a small being who needed my love and attention? I cringe as I type those words, admitting the growls that rise from within. They seemed to happen when I was just trying to take care of myself, and then it would come again. The need. I was just trying to take care of myself! You know, the whole “self-care” craze that is going on right now? Why was I being punished for trying to take care of myself? Not even anything crazy, just a moment of sleep or the space for a deep sigh. In one of these banters of inner chaos, I felt a word slither our, like a snake revealing what was below.
Stinginess. There was a stinginess in my soul.
My perspective had been skewed by all the chatter of the need for self-care. Mind you, I believe in self-care quite a bit, and I am not ragging on you if you do as well! I’m merely confessing the way my brain took it out of context and made it something it’s not. I had taken self-care and used it as a shield, a way to protect myself from giving with all I have. I had this mental picture of me, holding tightly to some object that wasn’t even that important, refusing to give it up because I felt like it was all I had left. With the realization of this picture, I see that I had bought into a lie, a lie that stated, “There is only so much to go around.” When you believe that, it makes sense to ferociously protect. But the reality is, there is more than enough.
There is more that comes at the end of yourself.
I that picture, I can see myself giving in and releasing what I am holding, then running towards the direction of whoever has pulled it from my grasp and diving headlong, spinning and relishing the joy of overflowing abundance. In many cases, it is towards this small, precious little girl who craves my love and attention in this season of her life. How dare I be stingy with my love for her? I hate the temptation to build a wall between us in the name of protection. I would rather be on the same side, on the same team, living in each others moments and gobbling up every sweet memory.
I write this out as a confession, something I have and continue to struggle with. My tendency is to be selfish because I am human, and I will fight that everyday to live in the overflow of love that comes after I spend all that I think that I have.
NO pictures of amazing donuts this time-I won’t taunt you again.
And as a warning, this week was fairly unorganized! I made rough meal plan and didn’t stick with it as I should’ve, either schedule getting in the way or forgetfulness in thawing things or just plain laziness. Yes, I ddi stick within the guidelines for my meals, but they were more, erm, “haphazard” so to speak. But here is a rough outline of what I remember . . .
Spaghetti Squash, crumbled mild Italian sausage, loads of garlic in olive oil, and chopped spinach.
Chicken & sausage sautéed, roasted sweet potatoes
Pork chops, celeriac mash, spinach salad
Fried Caulirice with veggies and beef
Potato Nachos (potato rounds, taco seasoned beef, chopped spinach, and salsa)
And if I’m completely honest? I have no idea what else we ate! Haha-I know it was compliant, it’s just not coming to me right now.
I have loads of good intentions for being more organized this week! I’ve made out meal plan and it looks too delicious to forget about.
As far as how I’m feeling, the constant hunger has simmered down quite a bit! Though I am still making green apples & almond butter a regular thing. Man, I eat SO much more almond butter when I am doing one of these things! I just make my own by processing them int he food processor until it’s nice and creamy. I also add a heaping scoop of coconut oil to it to loosen it up a bit and add healthy fats where I can. It doesn’t really affect the taste, which is awesome!
Cheers to the last week of the detox! Here’s a ridiculously cute picture for you.
Normally, I’m not a jewelry fiend. I like a few things just because they are pretty, but in most cases I love when piece has meaning behind it. I have a few things that were my great-grandma Nanny’s that are near and dear to my heart. There are a couple necklaces that I have gotten from my mom that always remind me of her when I wear them. Some have been thrifted, and I think of the memories from the trip when I bought them. But some I wear just because I really like them.
I got this necklace for free at the Refresh Market earlier this year, and it has quickly become one of my wardrobe staples.
(And if you’re wondering, yes I did take this photo while in my house robe, pre-make up, holding my morning coffee.)
It’s a fine rose gold chain with a small bear on it. The more I wear it, the more I identify with it. When I got it, Mabel was only a few weeks old, and I was still in my early mama crazy newborn haze, eeking by on little sleep and a lot of love. But as each day passes, I find myself entrenched deeper in this wonderful motherhood. And as she grows, I find there are so many choices I have to make on her behalf, from little things like what she eats and plays with to how we discipline her and the examples we set for her. She may be just a babe, but she takes in quite a lot! Which means that I want to fight for the best for her. I want her to have the best opportunities she can, and have the greatest adventures we can give her. I want her to laugh and play and feel that joy imprinted on her soul. I want her to know when we correct her, we are doing it with so much love it hurts our hearts. I want her to feel secure and loved and independent, knowing that she can go away and learn and explore, and we will always be here with open arms and an encouraging squeeze. I want her to grow in the intense love Our Father has for her!
I just want the best for her, in every way, and I’m willing to fight for it. I’m going to fight the selfishness that my flesh wants to fall into every day (several times a day!). I will fight that bad mood and snappy behaviour so I won’t snip at you for no reason. I will fight an over scheduled calendar that rushes you and doesn’t allow time to simply be. I will fight nay-sayers who say we should be doing things, parenting & life, a different way. I will fight laziness so I can be disciplined with devotions & prayer, setting an example for you.
I’ll be your mama bear, Miss Mabel Jeanne, and fight for you with all I am. I just love you so.
I was going to spill more than this. I planned on sitting down, taking a deep breath in, and exhaling all my thoughts, feelings, worries, anxiety, disappointment, and fear in one big breath out. However, as I sat down, I heard the tiny tune of a children’s song rattling in the back of my brain.
“Do everything without complaining, do everything without arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God . . .”
I have to pause and reevaluate my words. I also know in Romans 13 we are called to submit to our authorities.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1
So that means to submit to authorities without complaining . . . and that is something that I need to work on this early in the game. So I am going to step back from my computer and close my mind to the absurdity. I can’t talk about it without complaining and getting worked up, so stepping away is the best option right now.
I will be praying constantly these next four years, fervently starting this instant. I will be a prayer warrior for such a time as this, because God knows we need it more than ever.