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2 In Motherhood

Serving from the Sidelines

On Wednesday my husband departed at the wee hour of 5 am for the high school summer camp our church is hosting. A battle had been brewing in my heart in the weeks leading up to it because 1) It’s in the mountains on houseboats – how fun is that?! 2) It’s ministry to high school students which I love and 3) I didn’t know if I should go. I know those first 2 factors make the decision seem pretty patent but as a mama of a one year old, I really wrestled with forsaking one of my primary ministries – to “do ministry”. When we first began serving with the high schoolers, the youth pastor assigned me the role of supporting my husband rather than leading a group of girls. Since I work part time for our church and am also a wife and mama (and my husband has been unemployed twice since we moved back and we moved again), I was super thankful not to have one more commitment on my plate. In this season I have greatly considered what the term ministry means not only as defined Biblically but practically as well. Many times I have asked my husband if I should just take on discipling a group of girls but have hesitated each time because if I choose to serve in that capacity, I want to do so faithfully and to the best of my ability.

I have received conflicting communication on how much I should be serving right now, which has been hard and honestly, a bit hurtful, but as I’ve prayed, talked with my husband and sought counsel, I’ve decided that I will continue to support my husband for now and that is not less valuable than serving in a different capacity. I’ve also had to be reminded that motherhood is a ministry – this doesn’t exempt moms from serving in the local church but it does mean it’s okay for a season if moms, especially with younger children, have less availability to serve in more formal roles. I’ve had to remember that the Gospel is about God’s grace and I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t serve to be saved, I serve because I am saved and I’m so grateful for what God has done for me in Christ!

When I have this mindset, I joyfully seize any opportunity for service seeing that even the smallest action makes much of the beauty of Christ’s bride and even more of Christ Himself (even if that means cleaning up vomit and tee tee all within 5 minutes, not that I’ve done that or anything. . .).

I arrived at this conclusion only after much prayer and many, many tears. When I served with youth students previously, I was able to make it to every event and in a sense, pour my life out for the students I served. Now I get to pour my life out for my own daughter yet my heart so often resents the responsibility because I am quick to believe the lie that it’s not a “real” ministry. Instead of being grateful for what I get to do, I often lament the loss of what I used to do and then I must question whether my service is unto the Lord or unto myself.

Motherhood is the hardest service I’ve ever done because the fruit of my labor doesn’t manifest itself as quickly or easily. Simultaneously, motherhood is the sweetest sanctifier because I have the opportunity to serve in ways that are unique to this role and this season. The Lord has blessed me with the privilege of shepherding a sweet and sinful soul because He loves me and desires that I become more like Him and to be sanctified so sweetly is a blessed thing.

In this season, I’ve felt that much of my service has been from the sidelines and perhaps there is some truth to that.

I’m slowly learning though that the sidelines isn’t so bad after all because it yields unique service opportunities that are equal parts hard and holy and that hold just as much value as service in formal capacities.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

John 12:24-26

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0 In Motherhood

Adalyne Rose // Birth Story & 6 Month Update

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Well, eight days ago our precious Addie turned 6 months old. I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. Addie is no longer the tiny baby that was placed in my arms on March 22nd. She is a 14 pound chunk who loves to look at books, play with blocks, move wherever she can and scream just for fun. Derek and I delight in her and she is an absolute joy in our lives. She makes our hearts full to the brim mirroring the love that God has for His children. Since she keeps me busy (i.e. refusing to nap and sleep through the night – I have a new appreciation for God’s grace and coffee!) I realized I never posted her birth story so I thought now would be an appropriate time to share it.

Our story begins Sunday, March 20, 2016.

I remember waking up to get ready for church and my hips and back were KILLING me. I told Derek, my husband, that I might not be able to make it to church, but I  wanted to try. I began getting ready and put some essential oils on my back and hips to help ease the discomfort. I decided that I would be able to make it to church after all but warned Derek that we might have to leave early. As we were driving to church, we decided to pray together – something we do every Sunday on the way to church. I remember having a contraction as my husband was praying and I said, “OW!” I felt bad for interrupting his prayer but a fairly strong contraction had passed so I couldn’t help it.

We made it to church and Derek helped me get out of the car and promised he would walk me inside and make sure that I was able to be seated right away. I made it through the service but it was pretty challenging. I tried to memorize the main points our pastor was giving so I wouldn’t focus on the pain. I had a few people come up to me after the service and tell me that by observing me, they knew I was in labor. I asked my husband if we could go home but he asked me to wait just a little longer since we had a ministry meeting after the service. I told him I would try my best as I really didn’t want to miss out on the meeting.

At this time, one of my friends came and sat with me and talked with me for a bit. She suggested it might be good for me to get up a walk around. I decided to walk to the bathroom to see if it would help. After my short walk, I felt much better. The pain in my back and hips had subsided and I was able to make it through the meeting.

Monday, March 21, 2016 was our one year anniversary but we had celebrated a few weeks earlier since Addie could have potentially been born on the 21st. Her due date was March 25th, so my parents and youngest sister decided to fly in from California on the 21st in case she arrived early. I am so thankful for God’s perfect timing in every detail of my life because, after experiencing contractions all day Monday, when my family arrived in town, my mom said it was time for me to go the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital after hours, so we had to be buzzed in by security. Derek, my family and I rode the elevator up to L & D (labor & delivery) to get me all checked in, which didn’t take too long. Once I was in a room, the nurse ran some tests and asked what seemed like a million questions. She checked to see how far I had dilated and I was really bummed when she told me I was only at 2 which is where I had been for 3 days. One of the nurses was able to give me some medicine to help with the contractions – it was supposed to make me fall asleep but since I’m stubborn I decided that I would not let a drug determine my actions and I stayed awake.

My biggest fear was being sent home which I wanted to avoid at all costs because I was ready to have my baby! The nurse informed me that whether or not I was having the baby, I would not be sent home because my blood pressure was too high. I was really disappointed when I heard this because I had been trying really hard to keep my blood pressure low. My blood pressure was checked again a while later and it had gone down. The nurse concluded that I probably had a contraction during the first reading which made it seem so high. She checked the dilation again and I was a four. I was so happy when she told me that I was indeed in labor and I would be moved to my own room.

I remember my mom and Derek being in the room with me as I got situated and my new nurse informed me about how to request an epidural if I wanted one. She told me to keep in mind that if I decided to have one, it would take about 30 minutes for the request to be fulfilled. I waited a bit and then decided to get one so instead of concentrating on the pain, I could concentrate on pushing when the time came. I have no regrets about this decision. The epidural made my body feel like my legs were asleep but other than that nothing really happened. I was still able to feel a bit of each contraction and was able to push when my body told me to.

The nurse who was with me for most of my labor was named Kelley and she was a super huge boss. I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with Kelley hearing about her job as a nurse and how she was also a mom to a little girl. Kelley was so sweet and encouraging the entire time and I am so grateful for her kindness. After her lunch break, Kelley came back into the room and told me that she had been praying for me. She was supportive when I wanted to use lavender essential oil on my back to relieve my muscles and she also helped me find a position that was the most comfortable and practical for me (i.e. NOT lying on my back). My only regret is that D, Addie and I weren’t able to get a picture with her before we left the hospital.

During labor, my temperature went up to 100 degrees which the hospital staff considered to be a fever although I think it was due to being in labor. Addie’s heart rate went up as a result and I was informed that once she was born, she would be taken to the NICU to be given antibiotics and I would be administered antibiotics as well. Our sweet Adalyne Rose DuPrez was born at 4:17 pm on March 22nd and weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces.

I only got to spend an hour with her after she was born before the NICU nurses took her. The NICU hadn’t even been on my radar and I was really sad that Addie had to go there. I had to stay in my room for two hours as part of the hospital’s mandatory recovery period. My hope was to exclusively breast feed Addie from the start because I knew it was best for her however, I had to let that go as she was in the NICU and I wasn’t allowed to leave my room until my antibiotics, administered via IV, had run their course.

By this time I had a different nurse who wasn’t as sweet as Kelley and even though she had me sign a form stating that I would not get up on my own, I still went to the restroom by myself early the next morning because, when you gotta go, you gotta go. The restroom was literally two feet from my bed and I couldn’t wait for her to wrap up with other patients before coming to babysit me while I peed. I don’t typically believe that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission but in this case, I simply didn’t care.

I was anxious for the NICU to open because I really wanted Addie to be brought into my room. The night she was born, I was told that I could only see her during visiting hours. I know that policy was for the safety of the babies in there, but as a new mom, it really irked me. When the morning finally did arrive, I got up and took a shower all by myself and it was glorious. I then put on my make up and did my hair (which in this case meant washing it and braiding it while it was still wet) and was waiting to go visit Addie when the NICU finally called and let us know that she was going to be brought back to our room.

We had to stay in the hospital for two days which was also a mandatory policy. During the two days, they continued to monitor Addie and Derek and I continued to jump through their hoops so we could return home which was only 5 minutes away. We had to watch an 80s video on why baby shaking is bad (Umm. . . isn’t this obvious? And, do they really expect people to take their videos seriously when one of the ladies being interviewed has a perm AND a mustache?!). We also had to watch a cheesy CPR training video even though I’m already certified in both adult and child CPR/First Aid (of course, the trainer was rocking a dorky mom hair cut and mom jeans).

I’m not too fond of jumping through hoops so I am definitely considering a home birth next time around to avoid them as well as the CONSTANT flurry of nurses coming in and out of the room – we just wanted to sleep!

We felt bad one morning because someone kept knocking on our door and we ignored it thinking it was the hospital staff. The night prior was rough as Addie only slept 3 hours and we were exhausted to the max. However, the knocking continued softly so Derek opened the door and it was our pastor who had come to check on us and pray with us – we were so humbled and blessed by his visit!

Thursday, March 24th after waiting what seemed like an eternity, we were finally discharged an hour after the time estimate we had been given, of course. It was so nice to leave the hospital and feel the fresh air and see sunlight! Some people thought we were crazy for showing up at church the next evening for the Good Friday service but it was only an hour long and I HAD to get out and feel normal again.

For this being our first time having a baby, we both learned so much and we are very humbled that God would allow us to be parents. To all the expecting mommies out there, labor and delivery is not as bad and scary as everyone will tell you. In my experience, it wasn’t bad at all – truly, the hardest part for me has been giving up sleep in which case I have realized firsthand that God’s grace is sufficient for me and His power is certainly made perfect in my weaknesses.

I saw a shirt on Pinterest that says, “Mommin’ Ain’t Easy” and the things that are worth it usually aren’t.

Having a baby has been a greater blessing than we could have imagined and we are thankful that God has entrusted our Little Toot to us for our good and His glory.

We pray for her salvation often and are thankful for God’s gift of children.

We love you Addie Roo and we can’t imagine life without you, sweet girl!

0 In Friday Five/ Motherhood

Friday Five//Baby Edition

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As a new mom, I had to filter through the various suggestions I received regarding what items I needed for my daughter. If you are a parent, or expecting to be, I’m sure you’ve experienced the well meaning input from others as to what is necessary for your baby to thrive – and y’all know I’m not just talking about stuff here.

Why, oh why, must we scare new parents by giving them an information overload?

Why?

Approximately 100% of the population understands that the birth of a baby equals a permanent loss of sleep.

Reminding expecting parents of this is not encouraging.

We read in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” The verse prior tells us that, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

I’ve really meditated on this as a new mom because anxiety is one of the sins I have wrestled with for years and upon the birth of my daughter so many new anxieties sprang up in my heart.

But remembering that He has already given my soul permanent rest in Christ reminds my heart that He is all the more capable of providing my physical need for rest in the form of sleep (although it looks very different in this season).

I am sure it’s no coincidence that a verse reminding us about sleep is right before a verse reminding us that children are a blessing.

I know I was informed about the “necessities” including wipe warmers (really?), swaddle blankets, baby laundry detergent, MAM pacifiers (I still don’t know what those are), and the list goes on – but the most meaningful thing I was told about being a mom is how my heart would swell with love like never before and the joy I would experience the first time they placed my daughter on me.

So new mom, consider this post a bit of encouragement for you in the midst of all the warnings about how you will never sleep and never get to do anything for yourself as long as you (and the baby both) shall live – which is untrue, BTW, as the kids say.

And for your further encouragement, here are my top 5 no-nonsense baby items that have served our family most practically.

1. ERGObaby Carrier

At just over 100 bucks, this does seem pricey for a carrier but trust me, it is worth it! My husband and I have tried a few other carriers but this one is the most supportive of your back, neck and shoulders – exactly what you need for postpartum recovery. I chose a neutral color so we can hopefully use it for our future children, Lord willing, and so my husband can feel comfortable wearing it in public. He actually uses it more than I do which is sweet to see. It has two pockets in the front, one with a zipper and one without. The striped portion you see in the above image serves as a cover which you can place over your baby’s head to keep them out of the sun. This product is definitely worth the investment! If it’s too pricey for you, try purchasing through ebates or Swagbucks for cash back and/or wait until a holiday weekend to get a coupon code. We bought ours on Cyber Monday and were able to save big. You can also purchase a discounted gift card through Raise for further savings.

2. Gripe Water

Not every child will suffer through acid reflux, but our little Addie did and Gripe Water was our saving grace. A friend from church told me about this one night after small group and we went straight to the grocery store and bought some. The ingredients are pretty much all natural and once we gave some to Addie, she stopped crying within minutes and was able to go to sleep. Again, to save a few bucks, you can always order online through ebates or Swagbucks for cash back and pick up in your local store to avoid shipping costs.

3. Oh Joy! Backpack Diaper Bag

I first became familiar with the Oh Joy brand by following creator and blogger Joy Cho over at her blog by the same name. A few weeks ago she posted a picture of herself wearing this diaper bag/backpack on Instagram and it became a must have for me. As a mother of two, Joy understands the needs of new moms as evidenced by the design of this diaper bag. The two loops you see in the top left and right corners are hooks for placing your car keys – I don’t know about you, but I always lose mine in other bags and it takes me a while to find them, so this is the perfect solution! The bag is big and spacious, containing two cup/bottle holding compartments on either side and super comfy backpack straps on the back. This bag is stylish, functional and ultimately smart. There is a zipper in the back which, when unzipped, reveals a pouch containing a diaper changing pad. Originally, I decided to use a Skip Hop owl backpack I purchased for myself while single, in place of a diaper bag because they are pretty pricey. At only $39.99 this is a steal! I went through Swagbucks to earn 2% cash back and also received free shipping because my total was over $25.

4. Skip Hop Pronto Baby Changing Station & Diaper Clutch

Yes, my Oh Joy Backpack Diaper Bag contains a diaper changing pad with it’s own compartment, but before I owned it, my mom bought me the Skip Hop Changing Station and I still plan on using it. What I love about this product is that it has a pocket for diapers and a zip up pouch with a plastic box for wipes. Additionally, the changing pad has a little “pillow” where the baby’s head is supposed to go and it folds up so nicely. The checkered part you see in the image above contains a material that can easily be wiped down after changing your baby. I like that it also has a zip up pocket on the front which I’ve used for personal items. The clip on the side is great because it allows you to attach it to your stroller or wherever else you may need to stow it. This product has been very helpful when traveling, especially in instances in which there was no restroom around or we didn’t have time to stop in the restroom to use a regular changing table. Living in a trendy, college town, this product really serves it purpose because some places here are geared toward younger crowds and don’t have changing tables in the restrooms.

5. Medela Pump In Style Advance Breast Pump

Running at $400 most new parents hope this is something they can do without and if you really need to, I suppose you can. For us, however, this has been really helpful. I used baby shower gift cards to purchase a manual pump but when I actually had to pump, it took a really long time and my hand started cramping up. We were gifted an electronic pump and we are so grateful! What I like about it is that has helped me to create a small supply of milk which we have been able to leave for Addie when we go on dates and when we leave her in the church nursery on Sundays. To save a little money, you can always buy a single pump, use baby shower gift cards to buy a pump and definitely purchase online through ebates or Swagbucks to earn a little cash back.

 

This is just a small compilation of items that have really helped us out.

What items have you found most practical for you and your baby?

4 In Grace/ Motherhood

Not Just A Mom

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As of late I have found myself wrestling with being  just a mom. Amidst the spit up stains on my clothes and the never ceasing piles of laundry, you would probably never guess that I have a bachelor’s degree. I actually used to work full time and then part time and then I quit “working” so I could fulfill my dream of staying home with my sweet Addie Rose. Long nights have led to heavy eyelids and a weary heart. The dream I thought would swell my heart with joy often leaves me longing for more – more sleep, more time, more patience, more energy. . . and the list goes one. Day in and day out, I battle for joy seeking to take my thoughts captive so I may think on what is true and know wholeheartedly that my identity isn’t in my academic status, my career or lack thereof. Don’t misunderstand me – being a mom is the hardest job I have ever had. It is work and important work at that but it isn’t my identity.

I must constantly comfort my heart with the truth that I am fulfilling the command of Christ to make disciples in a way that is losing value in our culture. I often think that my work as a mom will be valuable if I am raising a future preacher’s wife or future doctor but what I fail to realize is that my work is no less important if I raise an “ordinary” girl who will do extraordinary things for Christ – like forsaking a career outside the home to work in the home and raise children.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying – that it’s wrong for a mama to work outside the home. We know that as women we are to work with willing hands and to consider a field and buy it. However, this doesn’t mean that if we choose to work solely at home, even if just for a season, that our work has less value. We may not be receiving a pay check, but what we are doing is invaluable economically and spiritually. (I love this recent blog post a man wrote explaining why he can’t afford his wife.)

Becoming a wife and mama within a year, amongst many other changes in my life, has been one of the biggest joys I have ever experienced and it has also been one of God’s greatest tools for my personal sanctification. As I battle to be a wife and a mother unto Him for His glory, I have learned that I will never be able to do so if I am seeking my identity in those roles. Yes, Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, but her  identity was first found in bearing God’s image – something I must remind myself of daily as I seek to honor the Lord in my priorities. I tend to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent which these days, consists of a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded and an infant who needs her diaper changed. In these moments, I often forsake my first identity for fear that I won’t be able to accomplish as much as I set out to when my day started. It is when I seek the Lord through reading His word, which is to me a joy, and the delight of my heart, and through prayer, that I am reminded of who I truly am. I am valuable, not because of my work, but because of the identity I have as an image bearer of God which is displayed in my work. This is true for us women in every season of life whether married or not, whether a mother or not.

I would typically say that marriage and motherhood are hard, but after reading this, I know that it is my sin that makes them so. As we are in various seasons, fighting our sin may cause us to grow weary and lose heart but may we consider the words of King Hezekiah in 2  Chronicles 32:8, “. . . but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” These were the words Hezekiah spoke to his army when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria was threatening Hezekiah and his people. Although you are most likely not engaging in a physical war today, know that the God who helped Hezekiah is the same God who sent His son to die on behalf of His children to not only remove their record of sin but to accredit to them His perfect life. This is the same God who through Jesus helps us today by the power of His Holy Spirit. Be encouraged today as you remember your identity and work in whatever capacity to bring Him glory, “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.'”

 

 

 

0 In Motherhood/ Product Review

Product Review // UpSpring VoxBox

 

 

 

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As an Influenster, I was excited to learn that I had been selected for the UpSpring VoxBox campaign. As a new mom who is also breastfeeding, I am always on the lookout for products that will help keep me healthy so I can keep Addie healthy. Using products that are chemical/GMO free is of utmost importance to me and since I have decided to become a Trim Healthy Mama (gotta lose that pregnancy weight!), I’m also excited about using products that are low in carbs and sugar such as the UpSring Milkflow drink mixes.

 

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My UpSpring VoxBox included the Milkflow mixes in three flavors – citrus, chocolate and berry. The packaging for the mixes states that they are all natural, gluten free and non-GMO. That was a really good starting point for me but I always like to check the ingredients to ensure that nothing bad is hiding inside the food and drinks I consume.

Although I didn’t research every single ingredient in the mixes, I did research the following ingredients that had me concerned:

Silicon Dioxide – Yes, it’s natural in that it occurs naturally but how it is commonly used is not so natural. Silicon Dioxide, or silica, is used in varnishes, pesticides and cleaners – not really my first (or last) choice for what I would want to feed myself or more importantly, my four month old.

Carrageenan – Yes, it is seaweed, so yes, it’s also natural but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. Carrageenan is typically used as a thickening agent but has been linked to stomach/digestive issues. If you’ve had a little one for any amount of time, you already know that these are the exact things you try so hard to avoid.

While I appreciate that this product was created to help moms increase breast milk flow, I’d feel safer recommending an herbal tea that promotes lactation – these usually have a higher amount of the same herbs, are organic and free of unhealthy ingredients.

In addition to the drink mixes, I was also sent Milkscreen test strips, UpSpring’s product for testing the amount of alcohol in your breast milk. I personally have chosen to abstain from alcohol while breastfeeding because 1) I don’t drink it that often anyway (the last time was over a year ago – I mean, I enjoy a drink on occasion but I don’t get what the big deal is) and 2) I will not take any chances when it comes to keeping my daughter safe. However, I do like that UpSpring created a product that helps moms who are breastfeeding.

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The final product I received in my VoxBox was the UpSpring Wellmom Nipple Balm. I love that this product has absolutely NO junk in it! I have been very careful about what products I’ve applied to myself topically because I know that whatever goes on my skin is absorbed into my body. I have been using coconut oil instead of lotion because I don’t have to worry about chemicals entering my body (i.e. sulfates and parabens) but since the product is organic and contains good ingredients (organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic sunflower seed oil, organic shea butter, organic cocoa seed butter, organic calendula flower extract, organic rosemary seed extract), I gave it a try. The nipple balm is pretty much odorless which is always a plus and it was very soft. I actually tested it out on my lips first since they were really chapped and it was very moisturizing. I would definitely recommend this product to moms who plan on breastfeeding. I will be keeping this in my diaper bag to use for my lips, skin, Addie’s skin and diaper rash prevention.

Overall, I feel that UpSpring understands the main concerns of breastfeeding moms and takes those seriously considering what they use in their products. For me, UpSpring products are a #momwin and I’m so grateful I was able to test them out!

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
This post contains affiliate links.
6 In Grace/ Motherhood

My Top 5 Encouragements for New Mamas

 

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As a new mama there have been so many opportunities for my sin to be revealed and there have been moments where I’ve experienced great discouragement. Trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing coupled with little to no sleep and hormones out of whack has left me desperate for Jesus like never before. Parenting is a great joy but it is also a great responsibility.

There are many days where my husband comes home from work eager to talk about his day and asks me, “So, what did you do today?” There is an internal struggle as I decide between responses, “Everything. . . nothing. . . ummm I kept a human being alive. . . ” Amidst the never ending piles of laundry (So. Much. Laundry.) and the sometimes never ending flow of spit up, the days have quickly dissolved into one big blur. My daughter is almost three months old, a quarter of a year, and I’m not sure how time has managed to slip by so fast.

This season, like every other, has it’s roses and thorns but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am learning to be content with where the Lord has me and be grateful for His faithfulness to continue to cause me to be more like His Son. The following five encouragements have been in my mind and on my heart as I’ve considered what wisdom I would offer a woman going through the season that I’m currently in. New mama, I hope these truths derived from Scripture encourage your heart as much as they have encouraged mine.

1. Give Yourself Grace

A few years ago there was a diapers commercial that stated, “Having a baby changes everything” and that sentiment couldn’t be more true. As a first time parent I have questioned whether or not I am doing things the “right” way (even though I’m not sure what that really is). During my daughter’s second week home, we had one particularly rough night in which I could not get my daughter to fall asleep. The combination of exhaustion and hormones lead to the spilling of hot tears as I entered our living room and told my mom, who was visiting, that I wasn’t qualified to be a parent and that there are moms younger than I am who are doing a much better job. I spent most of the first month of my daughter’s life condemning myself by thinking such thoughts that were based on my emotions rather than thinking on what is true. What is true, is that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I don’t need to punish myself when I fail because Jesus took the punishment I deserved when He traded my sin for His righteousness. The truth is, I fail daily but God is sovereign even in my failings.

2. Wait For the Morning

As a parent of a newborn, I’ve learned that late nights and early mornings are going to be normal in this season. Initially this was REALLY rough for me. I am the type who needs at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to function well but I’ve learned how to scrape by on 3.

A few Scriptures that have encouraged me when my heart grows desperate for a lack of sleep (and brain power) are Psalm 30:5 which reminds me that joy comes in the morning and Lamentations 3:22-23 which tells me His mercies are new every morning. I’ve faced a few discouraging and extremely long nights but ultimately I am grateful for them because they humbled my heart and left me longing for fresh mercies which only He can supply.

3. Fix Your Eyes On Jesus

Running the race of the Christian life requires great endurance and I think I realized this more upon becoming a parent. Sure, my seasons of singleness and marriage had their own respective challenges but neither season had me so desperate for Jesus as this one. This doesn’t mean that motherhood is more holy or sanctifying than other roles or seasons, for me it’s simply a different type of sanctification than I’ve previously experienced. In singleness and marriage I was free of someone relying on me for their care and nourishment 24/7 and I also had the ability to sleep for at least 8 hours every night uninterrupted. I could go out wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Motherhood is extremely hard mostly because my sin is being exposed like never before and I am having to die to myself like never before. Motherhood is also one of the biggest blessings I know because it shows me that I am weak and need Jesus in every moment. Such desperation has caused me to cling to the hope offered in Hebrews 12: 1-2 which states, “. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured for joy and by fixing my eyes on Him, I can do the same.

4. Do It For Joy

One of my goals this year is to memorize a portion of Scripture every week. Whether it’s one verse or  a few, I desire to have God’s word in my mind and written on my heart. One of the verses I came across in my Bible reading plan that I decided to memorize was John 16:21, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” The context of this verse is Jesus telling His disciples that He is departing to be with the Father but will one day return. He compares His absence to the pain women feel in labor and His return to the joy that is experienced upon the realization of new life. This was the verse I asked my husband to remind me of while I was in labor. Through contractions I squeezed my eyelids shut and crushed his hand with my grip as he gently whispered to me, “It’s for joy, lovey, you’re doing this for joy.” Labor is painful and at times motherhood is too but this beautiful metaphor reminds us to keep longing for the return of our Savior by reminding of us of the joy that caused our hearts to swell upon the births of our little ones.

5. Remember Who You Are

This has probably been the biggest challenge for me as a new mama and I think it’s generally a challenge for women in every season – remembering the roots of our identity. I have had moments of pride spring up in my heart as I’ve received compliments on how quiet my baby is or how well she (sometimes) sleeps well. During those times I’ve, in a sense, proudly worn my daughter like some kind of Badge of Excellence. In those moments I’ve failed to remember that I am a new creation and have been designed to worship God. Instead I have chosen to worship my daughter and allow my identity to be expressed based on how she behaves. I’m sure this will be a struggle in every season but I’ve learned that when I sin in this way, I put an unrealistic expectation on her and must realize that as another sinner, she will never be able to perfectly satisfy my expectations. Instead of humbly being grateful for my new identity in Christ, I’ve abused God’s grace in allowing me to be a mom and have pridefully allowed my new role to become my new identity.

Another area in which I’ve failed to be identified in Christ is body image. Instead of remembering that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and allowing my soul to know it well, I’ve beat myself up based on the number I see on the scale. Yes, my body is a temple and self control is the fruit of the Spirit, but I tend to go to the extreme and turn these truths into the law that Jesus died to save me from. It is definitely discouraging having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit but my hope is that my heart will count even that as loss for the ways that I am gaining Christ in this season (Philippians 3:8). I have learned to be disciplined in cultivating healthy habits knowing that bodily training is, indeed of some value, but ultimately, the training should create in my heart a deeper desire to train myself for Godliness. It is this training in Godliness which reminds me that, “. . . It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20.

Motherhood is hard but God is faithful.

He will not give you a season of life without giving you the grace to endure it in a way that is honoring and glorifying to Him.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Press on mama.

2 In Marriage/ Motherhood

Meet Adalyne Rose

Our little blue eyed beauty turned two months old yesterday and I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. She was born at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center on March 22nd at 4:17pm and weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces. I will write out our birth story later but wanted to post a little something for now. The first month went by like a blur mostly due to a lack of sleep which I believe contributed to a major loss in brain cells. We began sleep training at 5 and half weeks and while Addie doesn’t sleep consistently through the night yet, I think we are getting close. She goes down for naps and bedtime usually without crying. Adalyne loves singing songs with mama, bath time with daddy, dancing with daddy and snuggling with mama. She hates being swaddled and cries when bath time is over. We love her 2 chins and her chin dimple and the “Oh” sound she makes. The general consensus is that she looks like Derek, but I’m beginning to think she is stubborn and independent like me (yikes!). She is such a joy and while parenting is way harder than Derek or I could have imagined, it is also very much a blessing beyond what we could have expected. We love Adalyne Rose and pray that Christ will draw her to Himself at a young age and that she will do great things for Him.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”
Ephesians 3:20-21

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0 In Blog/ Financial Fitness/ Motherhood/ Shopping

How I Shopped Cyber Monday

For those of you who know me, you know that I’ve never participated in Black Friday and never will.

It’s the principle.

 

There’s nothing SO important that I can’t wait to purchase it at a less busy time or simply buy it online.
The week of Thanksgiving, my husband and I were fortunate enough to fly to California and Arizona to spend time with our family and friends.
While in Arizona, my mother in law was kind enough to host a small, family baby shower for me.
Although there were only 7 women present, including myself, my husband and I were extremely blessed with baby gifts, monetary gifts and gift cards.

There were a few items I was hoping to buy from my BabyList so my husband and I decided which items we would be able to buy with the money and gift cards we had.

However, due to a few money saving tricks I had up my sleeve, we were able to buy more items than we originally intended including diapers and wipes!

Here’s how I shopped Cyber Monday:

 
Original Price: $182.64

What I Paid: $117.99

Total Savings: $64.65

How I Did It – I performed a Google search of the product name to see if I could find a better price than the one listed on my BabyList. I found the item at Wayfair for $117.99 plus free shipping. I used our credit card for 1% cash back and paid it off right away (we don’t really use our credit card for items we haven’t budgeted for).

Original Price: $191.24
 
What I Paid: $179.99
 
Total Savings: $11.25
How I Did It – I did another Google search and found it on sale at JC Penney for $179.99 plus free shipping. In order to purchase the stroller/carseat, I went through Ebates which was offering 15% cash back for items at JC Penney. I also paid for this with our credit card and earned 1% cash back as well.
Original Price: $120.00
 
What I Paid: $60.40
 
Total Savings: $59.60 
How I Did It – We received a total of $50.00 in Target gift cards from the baby shower so I looked for this item on Target.com. They were offering free shipping and a 15% off promo code. I shopped through Ebates to receive 2% cash back and paid the remaining balance of $60.40 on our credit card to earn an extra 1% cash back.
Okay, so here’s the deal with the diapers. For this brand and size, the diapers are $0.30 each, which in the diaper world, is a little pricey. When searching for diapers for our daughter, the hippie in me began to wonder if diapers contained chemicals and if so, I wanted to know what kinds and what harm they could cause. I found out that most diapers contain chlorine as a bleaching agent.
For the sake of objectivity, I researched the number of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure from diapers and wipes and I couldn’t find any. I also considered buying the cheapest diapers (containing chlorine) by justifying that I will allow my daughter to swim in our chlorinated pool. However, thinking of people I’ve know that have died due to cancer, I began to consider that maybe the less exposure to cancer causing chemicals, the better.

I know that God ultimately determines when and how my daughter will die, but as her mom, it is my personal conviction that I should do what I can, within reason, to protect her. That being said, I prefer buying diapers that aren’t the cheapest but also aren’t the most expensive.

I’m not sure that I actually got a good deal here, I bought 2 packages of diapers at $43.51 each but it was with gift money. I paid for the diapers with our credit card to earn 1% cash back and paid it off right away. I also went through Ebates to earn an additional 2% cash back.

5. WaterWipes Mega Value Box Baby Wipes, 12 packs of 60 Count | 720 baby wipes

You know you’re a mom when you get excited about things like wipes. 
Yes, we are just going to wipe and toss, so it would seem practical to find the cheapest wipes. However, wipes, just like diapers, typically contain cancer causing chemicals. What I like about these wipes is that they only contain water and grapefruit seed extract. 
 
Two of the 720 count boxes *should* be enough to last through our daughter’s first year (I read this blog post to help me calculate how much we might use). Again, I used the credit card for 1% cash back and went through Ebates for an additional 2% cash back. 
I’m always hoping to learn about additional tips and tricks for stretching our dollars.
Feel free to comment with your tips and tricks for saving!
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