I sit down with my coffee and my Bible. I get settled in and open my journal and my Bible. I hear stirring from the baby monitor. The baby woke up. Again.
In high school I used to spend long stretches of time reading my Bible. In college, my workload got more intense, and I didn’t have as much time to spend in the Word. At the time I didn’t understand that different seasons of life mean that our time in the Word may look different. Instead, I felt guilty and would often go through long periods of not reading my Bible at all because I thought if I couldn’t spend the time that I was used to spending then I shouldn’t spend any time at all – I was wrong, by the way.
It’s so easy to get frustrated when different seasons of life make your “quiet times” with the Lord look different. It’s easy to just not show up. Something to remember, however, is that God values faithfulness. He honors when we choose to show up, whether we have an hour or just ten minutes. I believe time spent with God is never time wasted. God can bring fruitfulness out of both situations, even if we don’t necessarily see the fruitfulness right away.
So I take a drink of my coffee, set my Bible and journal aside temporarily, and go get my sweet baby. My quiet time is different than it used to be, but that’s okay. Seasons of uninterrupted time in the Word are beautiful, but so is this season.
There will be times as my daughter gets older when I wake up early to spend time with the Lord and the little pitter-patter of feet come down the stairs before they are supposed to, and that’s okay. Maybe I’ll pull her onto my lap and we can read together. Or maybe I will take a break to make her breakfast and then resume – maybe ten minutes later, maybe two hours later. But what I won’t do is get frustrated. I want my children to see their mama meeting with God regularly, and that may mean my quiet times looking much different than they did when I was fifteen. And that’s perfectly okay.
Friends, be willing to meet God where you are, no matter the season. Seek His face no matter what, and remember that your time with God is never wasted.
In all seriousness, it is so hard to believe that my baby girl is a month old! It feels like we were just in the hospital. But it’s been the best. month. ever. Bella is already learning and growing so much, and it’s so fun!
Being a mom is wonderful and challenging and exhausting. It’s all that I thought it would be and more yet completely different at the same time.
I’ve learned that your life completely changes yet doesn’t at the same time.
I’ve learned that things often don’t go as planned, and that’s okay.
I’ve learned that I have a problem with it wanting to ask for help, and I’m working on it.
I’ve learned that I have a problem with not knowing when I need to say no to things, and I’m working on that, too.
I’ve learned how unconditional love really can be, and I understand how God loves us so much more now.
I’ve learned that my husband is an absolutely amazing father, and our child is so blessed to have him.
I’ve learned that spit up matches everything, so I just wear it all the time!
I’ve learned that some things are just needed when you become a mom. These things include:
Coffee. Always the coffee.
A nursing pillow. These little people get heavy fast.
E-books and e-textbooks for middle-of-the-night feedings. Holding an actual book can often be too difficult (at least for me).
Someone to hold your baby so you can take a much needed shower or bath.
Did I mention coffee?
Voice-to-text to take notes while you read a textbook while a baby is sleeping on one of your arms.
Snacks and plenty of water for middle-of-the-night feedings.
And finally, I’ve learned that I have the cutest baby ever, and I’ve had the best month of my life with her! Happy one month Isabella Grace!
*Please realize this is not an attention-seeking post or an attempt at reassurance. I simply want to share my personal story!
I have always been small. Growing up I was pretty much all knees and elbows. I’ve always had a high metabolism, and no matter how much I ate, I didn’t gain weight.
My entire life I have heard comments like “You must be 90 pounds soaking wet!” or “You need to put some meat on those bones!” or “There’s not an ounce of fat on your body!”
I think most of the time these types of comments were meant as compliments, and I would usually smile and nod, but I felt differently inside. Every time a comment like this was made, I thought “90 pounds? Well, I’m a lot more than that. Am I supposed to be 90 pounds? I better suck by stomach in,” or “Am I not good enough the way I am?” or “Yes, there is, but I better hide it so you don’t see me differently.”
I felt such pressure to be as small as everyone thought I was, yet pressure to gain weight at the same time. I hated it. I hated my body no matter what. I wasn’t small enough. I wasn’t big enough. I wasn’t good enough. I was so insecure.
A few weeks before I found out I was pregnant I remember telling my husband that I wasn’t scared of what my body would be like when I was pregnant someday, but I was scared of what it would be like after. I knew that it was going to be different and probably never go back to the way it was before.
Sure enough, I loved my body when I was pregnant. Actually, I was the most self-confident that I’ve ever been. Yet there were still things that were said that hurt. I heard from many people that I “looked good with some weight on me.” I happened to agree, but I was a bit hurt at the same time. I knew it was a compliment or perhaps a reassurance, but what it felt like was “you weren’t good enough before.” I tried not to dwell on it because I knew it wasn’t meant that way.
Fast-forward and the day has arrived. The moment of truth. I’m no longer pregnant. How am I going to feel?
Honestly? Just fine.
At some point something changed. I wasn’t scared anymore. My body had just spent months growing a person. Of course it would look different! My body did something amazing; who cares if it doesn’t look the same as before?
And that’s the truth. I decided that the only one who can make me feel insecure about myself is, well, me. Yes, the things that were said to me over the years were hurtful, but ultimately I chose to let it get to me. And honestly, I’ve got too much going on to be worried about some extra weight and stretch marks.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to be known as “the thin one” or “the pretty one.” I’ve got more important things going on. I’d rather be known for how I walked with Christ. What kind of wife and mother I was. What kind of friend I was. Not my pant size.
All this to say, friends, be careful with your words. They hurt and have long lasting effects. But also, don’t let what other people say define how you see yourself.
I spent my pregnancy reading and researching, preparing mentally and physically for labor. I feel like the time I spent preparing was well worth it, but the main thing I learned from labor was that things do not always go as planned.
I went to the hospital at 3 p.m. on Sunday after I called the hospital and said that my water may have broken at 8:30 that morning – after which I still went to church and to the mall. They said my water had not broken yet (though I’m suspecting it was a hind leak that resealed) and that I was having contractions three minutes apart. I didn’t start feeling the contractions until a little later, and then it was purely back labor. My nurse had me walk the hall for an hour, and then I was admitted for labor – yay!
It was game time and I was ready to go. My nurse knew I didn’t want an epidural or pain medication, and I wanted to be up walking as much as possible. At this point I was thinking I would probably have my baby in the middle of the night. I walked for 40 minutes every hour for probably 4 hours until the contractions were too strong.
Fast forward several hours, they broke my water and an hour later they tell me that I’ve gone from 6 cm to 9 cm! I’m thinking we must be getting close. A few hours later my nurse checks me and says I’m just now at 8 cm – whoever checked me before was mistaken. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated.
Unfortunately, my body seemed to really like sitting at 8 cm. After several hours of being stalled out at 8 cm, I started to panic. I could handle the pain, but the urge to push was too strong. I knew it was way too early, and I couldn’t push without hurting myself and my baby. Finally, my nurse suggests an epidural to help me finish dilating. Though the thought of an epidural terrified me, I agreed (it was really no biggie). Within an hour and a half I was ready fully dilated and ready to push!
They turned my epidural down so that I could feel how to push, and I pushed for two and a half hours, and finally, 23 hours after being admitted to the hospital, at 2:16 p.m. I reached down and pulled my own baby girl to my chest (with guidance from my doctor). It was probably the most special moment of my life.
I didn’t care that I hadn’t slept in 30 hours.
I didn’t care that I had, just a few hours before, told my husband quite seriously that we were never having another kid.
I didn’t care that my plan of having an unmedicated birth went out the window.
I had my baby, and she was perfect.
Unfortunately, the next several hours didn’t go as planned either as Isabella had trouble breathing on her own due to me being in labor for so long (it’s fairly common, but it was scary nevertheless). She was in the nursery for 7 hours, and we thought she was going to end up going to Children’s Hospital – which was definitely not part of the plan.
We were exhausted and anxious and frustrated. I hadn’t held my baby in hours. My husband had yet to hold her. He had gone to see her in the nursery several times, but I still couldn’t go because my epidural had not worn off. My nurse came in to check my legs and said she’d come back and check me in an hour because I wasn’t able to move as well as I needed to to get up. I looked at Genelle and said, “An hour my big toe! Help me pump my legs and get this epidural to wear off.”
Which is exactly what we did. Twenty minutes later I was in a wheelchair heading to the nursery. It broke my heart to see my sweet little girl with her itty bitty oxygen mask. I sat with her for about 30 minutes, and while I was there she got better. She was breathing well when I left, and we were told she would be with us shortly.
After waiting awhile and still not having our baby brought to us, we were told that she had started to regress, and they would be talking to Children’s Hospital soon to see what to do next. We were scared and tired and all we wanted was our baby.
But finally, I looked at my husband and said, “We can’t be slaves to fear. We have to trust God. No matter what, we’ll figure it out. It’s going to be okay.” It’s funny how the sermon that morning at church was on fear.
A few minutes later, a nurse brought us our little girl, saying they were just going to spot check her throughout the night (she was perfect every time they checked her that night).
Would we still have trusted God if she ended up going to Children’s? Absolutely. But were we praising God that we had her? Absolutely!
Bella is 2 weeks old today, and we fall more in love with her daily. Being a mom is better than I ever imagined. I often stop and think about the long journey it took to get her here – and how every minute was worth it.
And yeah, I take back what I said about not having any more kids.
Living in the age of technology, we expect everything to be done fast. It’s reflected in most aspects of our life:
This person is driving too slow.
The wait is too long.
My phone won’t load fast enough.
The list could go on and on.
What I have realized recently, though, is that slowing down is a beautiful thing. Sure, there are deadlines and time-sensitive things, but why does everything in our lives have to be done at an accelerated pace?
One of the most beautiful ways that I have noticed the beauty of slowing down has been in my time with God.
I have had a relationship with Jesus for almost 7 years now. For 6 of those years I read my Bible the exact same way: a chapter a day (unless it was a super long chapter, then I would break it up). Last year around this time I decided that I wanted to read chronologically (in the order that events happened, not necessarily in the order the books occur in the Bible) and in larger chunks to get a better sense of the bigger picture, and I loved it!
In this season, however, I’ve started studying my Bible in a completely different way than I ever have. I spend about 30-45 minutes a day on around 10 verses of Scripture just breaking it apart. It now takes me 2-4 days to read a chapter rather than 1.
At first, it almost bothered me actually. I felt like I wasn’t reading enough. In reality, though, I’m digging in deeper than ever before. Reading the Bible, like many things in life, is not a race. I’m loving this season of just slowing down and really meditating on the Word of God. It has made me realize it’s okay to slow down in other areas, too. It’s okay to stop and appreciate the simple beauty in your life. It’s okay to leave the dishes unattended for a little bit to spend time with your spouse or kids. It’s okay to not always be in the fast lane.
For the most part, I have always been one to try to find the bright side in every situation. Several weeks ago, however, my husband – very gently and with grace – pointed out that I had been only seeing the negative in practically every situation. He reminded that I was always the one who found the silver lining no matter the circumstance, and that was not who I had been lately. And he was right. With taking 6 classes, working 20 hours a week, and being horribly sick in my first trimester, I was overwhelmed, over-stressed, and just done.
It was a real wake up call hearing it come from him, but I really had become the ultimate Debbie Downer. I made a decision that day, however, to not let negativity rule my life anymore because it made me – and surely him – miserable. Because that’s the thing: being extremely negative about an already difficult situation is going to make the situation immensely worse. I remembered the power of simply being grateful for the things that we do have and for the things that are going right. When you do that, you realize you are much better off than you thought!
I still have a tendency to overreact and become overly stressed about certain things (thanks, pregnancy), but my sweet husband is always there to gently remind me to focus on the things that are going right, because what we look at – what we focus on – greatly determines our outlook on life.
So if you’re in that place right now where the world seems to be against you and you are in over your head, I’d like to remind you that for every negative in your life, there is a positive (I promise, they’re there); there is always beauty among the ashes. Focus on those things. Give thanks for those things. Hold onto and focus on the One who never leaves you and is always there even during the rough things. You can still have joy during those things, don’t let anyone – especially yourself – take that away. Find that silver lining.
Right now you are still so small – not even half a pound! Part of me wants to keep you with me like this forever, safe and sound, but that’s not how this works: soon you are going to be in this world and subject to all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things that come with it. It’s going to be such a wonderful, exciting, and terrifying journey raising you, Little One, and Daddy and I can’t wait.
I pray that you see love in our household everyday, that you see Daddy and I love each other and love you with the love of Jesus.
I pray that you always choose to see the best in people, despite what others may be saying, and that you always have a kind word to offer.
I pray that you always find that you can come to Daddy or me with anything, knowing that we will always be here for you.
I pray that you always find it in your heart to extend grace and mercy.
I pray that you always see people as people, not as their problems.
I pray that you remember that it is okay to make mistakes and to be wrong because that is how we grow and learn.
I pray that you remember that just because you don’t always see God actively working in your life that it doesn’t mean that He isn’t working in the background.
And I pray that you never doubt how much your Daddy and I love you, because it already cannot be put into words how much we do.
You are such a blessing, Little One, and I can’t wait to meet you.
I am a huge Disney fan. I love Disney movies, Disney World, Disney in general (my husband and I even have Mickey and Minnie Christmas stockings, and I’m totally wearing my Mickey pajamas while writing this post).
The downfall to Disney is that it distorts our view of love. Have you ever noticed that couples in Disney movies rarely have any conflict? In a lot of the movies you have one person from a high socioeconomic status and the other from a low socioeconomic status (for example, Prince Charming and Cinderella or Jasmine and Aladdin) yet they just seamlessly merge there lives together? Yeah, that is not realistic at all, and it’s not just Disney: the media in general portrays a false version of love. We expect constant passion and spontenaity, but love isn’t all romance and returning glass slippers, it’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice.
It is so easy for me to just do what I want to do and act how I want to act without taking my husband into consideration, but that’s not how marriage is supposed to work. We’re a team, a partnership, and since the moment I said “I do” my life no longer was about my needs. Love is serving. Love is selflessness. Love is not about you. It’s not always easy to act on, though, is it?
In the past ten months of being married, I have learned a lot about what it means to love my husband, and I know that over the next several years I will learn so much more, but for now, here are some things I have learned.
Learn how to love your spouse. One of the most helpful pieces of advice we have gotten is to learn each other’s love languages. My number one love language is Acts of Service. The best way to my heart is for him to do something that helps me out and shows that he understands the effort I put into maintaining our home. If I do the same for him, however, it doesn’t have that big of an impact. Knowing how to love our spouses in the ways that they need to be loved is huge – as is periodically reevaluating your love languages because they do change with time and with seasons of life. In addition to this, simply paying attention to how your spouse reacts to certain things will give you a lot of insight into how you can love them better.
Communication really is key. One of the most frustrating things in marriage is the fact that my husband can’t read my mind. That would make everything so much easier, wouldn’t it? Since that is (unfortunately) not the case, we have to intentionally tell our spouses what we are thinking and what we are needing. Not only that, but it’s important to tell our spouses how much we love and appreciate them, because they need to hear that, too.
Never stop trying. There was a reason Never Stop by Safety Suit was the song we danced to at our wedding. Never stop pursuing your spouse. Never stop trying to learn about them and love them better.
What are some ways that you show love to your significant other? Shoot me an email or connect with me on the blog’s Facebook page!
College will teach you a lot of things, but one thing it will teach you for sure is how bad you are at managing time.
I have a tendency to procrastinate. I always have a justification excuse as to why I can put the task off, and then I end up ten times more stressed than I was originally. Once I got married, my time management spiraled even further out of control. I made half-hearted attempts to get on track but soon fell right back off.
Recently, however, I decided that I was no longer satisfied with the way I was doing things. This came about mainly because I started doing more of the things I love. Some of the podcasts I have been listening to – specifically Happier – as well as a book I’ve been reading (10 Time Management Choices That Can Change Your Life by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims) have greatly inspired me to lead a more productive life and have given me practical ways to do so.
What I have learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for time management. I’ve tried out several strategies, taken some on, discarded some, and tailored others to fit my needs better. Keeping that in mind, I thought I would share some of the strategies that I use:
The one-minute rule: if there is a task that will take you less than one minute to do (for example, hanging up your coat or putting a bag of chips back in the cabinet), go ahead and do it. By doing it right away, you are eliminating having to deal with several little things that will have piled up.
A categorized to-do list: I break my to-do list into four quadrants: housework, homework, other work (such as going to the bank or going to the gym), and leisure (like reading, writing, Netflix). For me it helps to see my to-do list broken down into specific types of work.
Scheduled housework and workouts: knowing what you need to do on any specific day of the week saves a lot of time and energy. My schedule looks like this:
Exercise bike & arms
Clean bedroom & office
Cross-training elliptical & core
Treadmill & legs
Clean living room
Some tasks like sweeping and laundry vary depending on need (though I do sweep every-other day to keep up with dog hair), but they still go on the schedule. And, sometimes things just don’t get done because life happens. When this happens, I just stick them on the schedule for the next day!
These are just some time-management techniques that I use to lead a more productive, happy life that utilize wisely the resource of time that God has given me.
What are some time-management strategies that you use?
Sometimes life seems to be an endless repetition of tasks: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, go to class, eat lunch, do housework, do homework, go to work, eat dinner, sleep, and repeat.
Honestly, life often is a series of repeated tasks, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our lives become boring and stale. Recently I’ve made it a goal to do more of the things that I enjoy. Some of these include:
I go to the gym three times a week. That may not sound like an enjoyable thing, but to me it is. I enjoy how I feel after, and I enjoy seeing how hard work results in progress, even if the progress is slow. It also requires a lot of discipline, and being disciplined in this area of my life helps me to be disciplined in other areas of my life (“Discipline” is my word of the year, so bonus!).
I read everyday. I’ve made it a point to read something everyday in addition to my Bible reading. I prefer to read a mixture of fiction and nonfiction everyday, but I’m satisfied if I get to read one of the two.
I listen to more podcasts. I take advantage of long care rides by listening to some of my favorite podcasts (which include Happier, Uniquely Woman, Cultivating the Lovely, and Mosaic).
I write everyday. Just like with reading, I’ve made it a goal to write something everyday. I love to write – obviously, hence the blog. I have been an avid writer since I was in first grade and participated in the Young Author’s Convention (so if anyone ever asks, my first book was really Sammy the Toothless Shark). For years a lot of my free time was spent writing or daydreaming about stories I wanted to write. Because of school, work, life, and excuses I haven’t spent much time in the past few years writing much other than blog posts (which I definitely love writing). I’m getting back into writing fiction which fills me with so much joy.
Life often is a series of repeated things to check off of the to-do list, but these tasks can be made much more enjoyable by pairing them with the things you love (for example, listening to a podcast while cleaning). Your days will also become more enjoyable if you schedule in time for activities you love; the things I’ve listed are things that are put on my to-do list. I carve out time among my daily tasks to do things that bring me joy. Why? Self-care is important: take time to relax and do enjoyable (and creative!) things without feeling guilty because you think you should be doing something else.
So that is my challenge to you: make time in your schedule to do things that you love. You’ll be happier for it!