Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your husband is not your girlfriend. The importance of friendship outside of your marriage.

   (My wedding day June 11, 2009: with my dearest friends Mel, Meagan & Lo) 

Here is the best advice I can give to any woman about to get married: 
Your husband is not one of your girl friends, so stop expecting him to be. 

When I was newly married I quickly learned that my husband was A.) Not a woman B.) Not one of my girlfriends, and yet I had put that expectation on him. After a long hard day at work (back when we both worked full time) I would want to sit on the couch and commiserate, and essentially have "girl talk". I didn't realize that is what I was doing, but I quickly learned something was wrong. At first I blamed him, "WHY AREN'T YOU SAYING ANYTHING?!", "WHY ARE YOU JUST STARING!?". He would then reply calmly, "I'm just listening. What do you want me to say?". Well NOT THAT. If I was explaining a problem, I didn't want a solution I wanted him to pat me on my back and tell me .... well... what my best friend Juliann would tell me. I wanted him to tell me how hard it must be, or how great of an employee I was, just like one of my girlfriends would. But men are not women. They don't commiserate about the same things we do. They don't have the same priorities and science has time and time again shown us that our brains ARE NOT wired the same. There are hundreds of books on this exact subject for a reason. 

(My wedding day June 11, 2009- with my best friend Juliann) 

So was something wrong? Well yes, but with me not with him. Now, I am in no way saying my husband is perfect, or that his communication skills don't need work, but I will say that most men have two modes of operation - listening while staying quiet or problem solving. Neither of which do I appreciate as much as much as I should.  When pouring out my soul I prefer sympathy with a dash of going over the same problem a hundred times with a friend who is "interrupting", adding in her own experience while sharing a box of tissues and a bottle of red wine. Simply put the problem was my expectations (unfair ones may I add). But alas there is a solution and it is easy, and it is important. 

Friendship with other women. 

More than ever before, I recognize how important it is for me to have GIRL TIME. I need my friends. I need to vent. I need to be honest and real without worry of judgement. I need to say the "bad" things I think sometime. I need to word vomit. I need to "have my feelings and eat them too". I need friendship, and other women in my life. I need mentorship, I need to mentor, I need peer relationships, and I need to learn from others experiences, teach from my own and stay teachable. I notice when I go a prolonged time without deep meaningful conversation and community with my girlfriends I become very emotionally restless in my marriage. I start to get mad at Thomas quickly. I start to resent him. 

For me, this balance is still a struggle, but I am able to more quickly realize that after a "disappointing" conversation, that it was I who wanted something that he cannot give. Not because he is not good at having a conversation; in fact my husband is one of the most articulate, well read and interesting people I know. He is thoughtful, funny and we truly enjoy each others company, and share many common interests and hobbies (which is a huge blessing that I am so incredibly grateful for). He is not lacking anything. But he is NOT a woman. Women have a way of relating to one another that is different than the way men relate to women and men relate to one another. Women talk over each other and go off on rabbit trails, following along, jumping from subject to subject like popcorn in oil. I know often times I can sit with my best friend and we can talk for three straight hours about a thousand different subjects. The conversation flows so naturally, and both people are blessed by it. Often times the next day my voice is hoarse from talking for so long! 

The other thing I have to recognize is that I often want my husband to be my God. I want him to meet ALL MY NEEDS. This is unrealistic and I know many women do this - married or not. Thomas is not my GOD. I can't worship him, and he can't worship me. He cannot fulfill my deepest needs to be loved, understand and belong. Often, new marriages or even a new relationship can trick women into feeling this way. Some might say they even become a different person - they seem happier, more content. All the flowers, wooing, dating, and compliments really create a "glow" in some women. But alas it is only another idol that will let you down. Sorry to sound so harsh here, and I am not saying falling in love isn't wonderful and fun and hey! I had that glow too! It is good to be loved! But what  saying is that I am so imperfect, and I do not love Thomas perfectly on any day, Only God does. Thomas does not love me perfectly on any day, only God can. Asking our husbands to be our God, our girlfriend, and meet all our voids (that is often there in our very isolated society) is a sure way to create discord, discontentment and contention in marriage. We each have roles; wife, friend, sister, mother, girlfriend, friend - and in a healthy thriving relationship you can be to each role what is needed in that role. God gives us his spirit, his word and his people to allow us to grow closer to him and walk with him. For me I have seen God meet my need to be understood and counseled through my friendships. It is blessing so great, and I feel like many women miss out on this instead asking their husbands to do this. 

So, pick up your phone and call a friend, they would love to hear your voice. You won't regret it!

(My sister Libby & I, on my wedding day in June 2009!)

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Changing the focus.

It begins the week of Thanksgiving. Relatives start to come into town, the grocery store causes a near anxiety attack, and the meal that takes five hours to prepare is over in less than an hour. My once spick-and-span house has turned into an army bunker complete with cheerios on the floor, dirty dishes, and sticky counters.

My fuse is blown. My head is spinning. I feel hung over, even though I barely had a glass of wine the whole Thanksgiving holiday. I try to muster up my "holiday spirit" with Christmas jingles in the car,  a wreath on the door, holiday candles, and hot chocolate by a fire. But what I came to realize this morning is that I really have it all wrong this year. Don't worry this post isn't about shaming you in regards to your holiday traditions and me telling you how "superficial" and "sinful" they are. This isn't about not getting a christmas tree or how certain carols we sing have pagan roots. This post is about me, and my need for Jesus and his help to shift my heart; worshiping at the altar of Christmas greeting cards, frosty the snowman bowing down to the "holiday god's" to make me feel better even just for a brief second.

I have forgotten that the reason I celebrate Christmas is to glorify the TRUE Prince of Peace. Everyday this Christmas I need a reminder that Jesus loves me, he humbled himself to be God made man, to be a King born in a manger and hung on a tree for my sins. Nothing, no amount of good hosting and glad tidings will bring me peace. No amount of charity work or donations, no amount of gifts I give or receive will make me feel whole. Only Jesus can fill me with complete joy, peace and love. I can not do it on my own, my flesh is self serving and weak.

Every year I dream of perfect family holiday where everyone gets along and we all laugh, and everyone has a helpful spirit, but I set my expectation and hope in these desires. Every year I am let down. I focus so hard on making the perfect day, planning, cooking, prepping only to be let down mostly by my own performance. I become controlling, even if I don't outwardly mistreat someone I hold resentment and martyrdom in my heart. Ask my husband how he feels during the holidays. I am pretty sure the guy walks around terrified to voice any of his own desires because if they aren't in-line with mine I may (or may not) have an outburst. Almost every Christmas we get in a fight when we bring our tree home, because no matter what I put these crazy expectations on how the "tradition" should go! I sabotage it, and I hurt my best friend in the process.

Glory be to God that Christ has changed me in so many ways, but as I grow in my relationship with Jesus I am more aware of my shortcomings and sin. I sympathize with Paul when he wrote in Romans 7:15-19 ;

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.

As I sat down this morning I desired so deeply to stuff my Christmas cards and play christmas music, and I kept asking myself "why?" and then I realized that it was to momentarily escape. Escape from the reality of my own sin, and to use Christmas to make myself better instead of Christ who is the only and true healer. So I confessed, and I confess now - and I hope it will be encouragement to you. I don't say these things to heap shame but instead to say take heart! In Christ we have the ability to put to death the desires of the flesh, and love others the way Christ loved. In Christ, there is freedom and forgiveness of sins. We don't have to "try harder or do better". We can truly rest in his completed work.

Philippians 2: 1-11 
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I pray that this Christmas I would be more like Christ. Not that I would make everyone "happy" and "oohhh and ahhh" over how wonderful of a host I am, or how perfect my house looks. I pray that I would simply love and respect my husband, and that there would be peace between us.  My "grown up christmas list" is that I would remember that Christmas is about remembering the greatest gift I have received, that is salvation in Christ, and that I would keep my focus there. While sitting by the fire, driving in my car, shopping with friends, making christmas cookies I pray that we will all enjoy all the many blessings we already have bestowed upon us. Filled with hearts of gratitude in this season where it is so easy to get preoccupied, and become increasingly unhappy by succoming to the consumeristic spirit the holidays can often bring. Let us refocus, begin this season with Thanksgiving in our hearts and merriment in our homes.

Merry Christmas Friends! God Bless you & keep you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weighting and Weaning.

We all have grand plans. Visions for our lives and those in our life. Great expectations. Hopes and dreams - sometimes they are attainable... sometimes they are unrealistic puffs of cloudy white forms in the sky. Sometimes life truly has other plans. One of my "plans" as a new mom was to nurse my daughter till she was at least twelve months old. All in all nursing came easily for me when Rebekah was born, there was the three days after she burst into our lives where her and I were BOTH trying to figure out how feeding time would work - but all in all we made way with great ease compared to most. Now before I continue this post isn't about how great I am because I chose to nurse - I am not a breastfeeding, nipple bearing brow beater. Nursing was something my Mom did with all six of her children and it came naturally to me. I will also add that I had a ton of support (which does matter and affect the amount of time a woman will breastfeed) from my husband to my mother, mother-in-law, family, our pediatrician, and lactation consultants. 

Fast forward to now. Rebekah will be 9 months in one week. She is now almost exclusively formula fed from a bottle. I started to supplement nursing with formula when she was about 7 1/2 months old. I will never forget making that first bottle - she was hungry, I had just had a very hard workout and I had nothing to give her and no milk in the fridge from pumping either. I did know that I had some containers of formula in the pantry - samples they mailed me when I was pregnant with her. I followed the instructions, hesitant but knowing that the most important thing for her was a full belly not my pride. So I let it go in that instant. 

Now my experience with nursing has been great, but I am not a "super duper milk producer". I always have said that God gave me "just what Rebekah needed"...until I started dieting and exercising rigorously. I haven't found many blogging fitness/dieting moms who lost all the baby weight in 4-5 months who were exclusively breastfeeding. If you are out there PLEASE prove me wrong. Most of the women I found inspiration from actually promptly stopped nursing. I am not saying that my experience is the rule, I just know that if I could "do it over" I would have started a lot slower out of the gate, and I would have met with a nutritionist to help me with the dieting part. Often times I know I was not getting enough calories for nursing and doing an hour of p90X or a 3 mile run. There were days I was shaky, irritable and exhausted. Looking back I think I took on too much and it greatly effected my supply. 

Rebekah "feeding herself" - She likes the independence of the bottle that is for sure! 

I do not wish for a do-over. The weaning process has been easier than I imagined, though sooner than what I thought I wanted. I have not felt a great loss and I don't believe my daughter has either. We have not made this something more than it was. She is not needy and fussy because she is not nursing any longer. She is not distant or resentful, and for that I feel like the timing has been perfect. I don't have to deny her anything because she isn't asking for anything she doesn't already have. My identity and my womanhood and worth is not wrapped up and entangled in this, though it was a beautiful gift and a beautiful season that I will forever cherish. 

After 9 months even though I am STILL not at my pre-pregnancy weight I am strong, I can see my body coming back. I have a half marathon in 8 days and I am ready. There is hope ladies, but the best thing you can do at two, three, six months after having your baby is BE GENTLE with yourself.... especially if you are nursing. Start slow, and realize the stretched out skin, the tone and definition will come back but every body is different. Every body heals at a different pace, and way - just like some women produce a ton of milk, and some don't - some have the metabolism of a cheetah and some are sloth like - self acceptance is the greatest thing you can do for yourself. Better than any diet, weight loss program or fitness regimen. Stop getting on the scale every day or nit picking yourself in the mirror. 

On my way out of the house for an 8 mile run two weekends ago - last weekend I did 10 miles, this weekend I'll do 6 and then 13.1 on November 9th for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon! 

Say one thing you like about your body a day and weigh in once a week. That has helped me start to accept who I AM and where I am going - instead of meditating daily on what I consider my failures (ie the number on the scale or the tummy in the mirror). 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So tired I could cry... well not really but almost.

It's been one of those mornings. It is already 10:30 am and I am exhausted. Had the normal night of a 9:30pm feeding, 2:30am feeding than 6:00 am feeding. Baby girl was up for the day at 8 am and I could tell she was already getting bored with the scenery in this joint so I got dressed, washed my face (er just the mascara off from underneath my eyes), and got in some running clothes. Shoved some breakfast in, and got us all out (her, the dog and I).

The walk was a success but short (thank you mosquitos that were eating both me and the baby).

We got home and I thought I'd try to put her down for her morning nap. Nope. No go. Fussy and unsettled in her crib turned into crying.

So we played.

She rubbed her eyes.

Crib again - uh- NO! Still not ready. Then I realized she might be hungry - that was the ticket.

Put her down again, and now all I want is a nap. If you are not a Mom and you are reading this you may think "whats the big deal?". The big deal is I haven't slept through the night in three months and I am not complaining, I knew what I signing up for. For the first three months of Rebekah Faith's life waking up in the middle of the night two or three times seemed easy. But it's not the shock to the body, when you have a new baby you have this adrenaline (or at least I did - I know some Mom's don't ever get that) it's the waking up for six months in the middle of the night that wears you down.

It's not the same tasks over and over and over again that wear you down - it's someone NEEDING you 24-7 that is draining. And so I find myself emptied again. And that is the beauty in motherhood that makes me turn to the Lord. I am forced, as though in a fast, to depend on him for my "daily bread" of sanity and patience. When I just want to have a cup of coffee and read, or finish a work email, I am interrupted and I am FORCED to put my own "to-do" my own expectations aside and meet the need of my child. Meeting the demands be done with grace, gentleness and joy or it can be done in haste, rushing and just wanting to "get this phase over with", and even resentment.  I have found myself slip into resentment, and that is when God is gracious to me sending the Holy Spirit to lift up a prayer for patience, handing my weakness over to God who can carry my heavy burden.

"Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy loads and I will give you rest." - Words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28 

Nothing gives me rest like turning back to Jesus and remembering that He will supply all my needs, he will give me exactly what I need. This is a practice, part of our sanctification process, and it is often messy - as our flesh resists we have to remember that Jesus has already won the battle for our minds. So we must "take our thoughts captive" and not allow the avalanche of tiredness, a messy house a screaming teething infant, our body image, and everything else that goes along with motherhood run and RUIN our lives.

26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" 
Matthew 6:26

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why my Marriage is my number one ministry.

Thomas and I on our first date July 10, 2008

A baby changes many things. Your sleep schedule, your body, how you spend your time, where you spend your time. But one thing I didn't expect it to change was my marriage. But it did. Amongst the flood of hormones, sleep deprivation and quite possibly going stir crazy for being inside with an infant most of the day I found myself thinking not so kind thoughts towards my husband, Thomas. My once happy demeanor turned into annoyance and belittling. I found myself treating him like an obnoxious kid brother rather than my champion, friend and love. Where there used to be adoration there was now an eye roll and thoughts of "I know better". Pride is a sneaky slithering snake that took up residence in my heart and in my thoughts.

When my daughter turned two months around Easter time and after the sermon on Easter Sunday I began to feel a burden on my heart for our family, friends and community. We tote ourselves as Christians and yet I felt we could "DO MORE". I began to ask myself questions about how we witness and how we live out the love of Christ. This was not out of some performance driven place, but truly out of concern for the "least of these" Jesus speaks of often in the gospels. So I dove in, like I usually do, into this specific topic. I sought hard and fast to try to understand "what would Jesus do", how would He love those around me. I emotionally and spiritually walked off into the great big woods of this topic - service, love, displaying Christ to the world. I went alone, and complained about loneliness, and I resented my spouse for it. Remember though I was the one who walked away (so to speak) unannounced, not really caring what his thoughts were on these topics. Do you see the pattern here?

Walking down the path of my self-righteous "do-gooder" mentality I can say that our relationship was NOT a priority. What others thought about us occupied my mind more than my husband's feelings of being respected and cared for. "Do people think we are greedy?" We should be giving more of our time, money and resources. "Do people think we are self-righteous and arrogant and unloving?" We need to try to love them harder so that they can see we love Jesus. My response to these questions were not entirely wrong, in fact most of them I believe came from the Lord, but I was off on my own little tangent. I also have to admit I was pointing the finger at Thomas, feeling conviction in my own heart about my own self-absorption and trying to get a conviction out of him. I was trying (in my own will) so hard to "be Christ to others", and yet I wasn't even loving the one person that I made a covenant to love.

Before Thomas and I got married we read the book Sacred Marriage the book can be summed up into this ONE sentence from the author Gary Thomas, "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?". The whole first chapter opens our eyes into the holiness of marriage, and Gary argues that it is just as sacred as the pursuit of a holy life of celibacy often pursued by monks and nuns.  Gary Thomas states it beautifully when he says "If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there's no question stay single....But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can't imagine any better thing to do than to get married." The book was something that set the tone for our marriage, we have gone back to it time and time again, remembering that our marriage (in the Christian Covenant context) is first and foremost for our holiness not our happiness and second that marriage is our first ministry - and boy had I lost sight of that recently.

When marriage is our first ministry, it is not something others see. You do not get accolades for being a good wife or husband or parent for that matter. Furthermore, we all fall short every day in this area. No one is perfect at it - you will never arrive like you might in a position you hold, or a hobby you love, or a sport you play. You don't get a paycheck or bonus. Fidelity and "tenure" in marriage isn't something our world values. It is easy to disregard the value a committed marriage and even miss seeing it as the primary ministry when marriage is something our world does not hold in high regard.  As Christians we are supposed to be set apart, but we let our minds be controlled by the popular culture of the time we live in.
"The evangelical world tends to value 'accomplishers', people who get things done. The danger of this is that spouses often pay the biggest price for some of these accomplishments, and 'true' spirituality can easily suffer as a result....
 So often Jesus left the crowd to minister to the individual, while we rationalize leaving the individual - particularly our spouse - to curry favor with the crowd. " (Thomas, Sacred Marriage) 

 So as I was wondering in the wilderness trying to "fix" our family, I heard from the Lord. I was told to cool it, and look at the true state of my relationship with Thomas. My badgering was exhausting and after an encounter with a close friend I realized that perhaps I wasn't so spiritually mature. In this one conversation I found myself clawing for her approval. This friend does not believe in the same things I do, and we value very different things. Yet, in the midst of this conversation I was desperate for her to applaud me and see what a "good christian" I was, and she seemed impressed with how "deep" I thought about the world around me. But after our conversation I felt ashamed and fake. Yes, (surprise, surprise) I am a "conservative" who actually does care for the poor and the broken and the lost. I DO care for the widowed and orphaned and the "forgotten". But what was I trying to prove, whom was I trying to impress - it certainly wasn't God when my own husband wasn't receiving gentleness, love or compassion from me! Yes, service is important, meeting with the poor and giving isn't a mission to overlook, as a rich American and Christian I have a profound calling to "love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself" - but not to the emotional detriment of my own household. But loving my husband and my children well does not receive praise. You will see the only accolades the Proverbs 31 woman receives is from her husband and children because they are likely the only one's who see what she does;

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
(Proverbs 31:28-29) 

In this I don't mean to belittle the importance of service and good works, after all "faith without deeds is useless", and out of our love for Christ pours good deeds. And GOD sees everything we do, and surely there are blessings for us in the kingdom to come, but what I had been doing was seeking to please the world and receive accolades.
"Biblical truth finds its basis in community and in serving the community - and this community starts with the marital relationship. If a man or woman is unrelentingly ambitious, willing to ignore or to sacrifice a spouse as they pursue their own agenda, they will almost undoubtedly be unrelentingly ambitious toward others as well, bringing them on board to serve their purposes, not to engage them in mutual kingdom service....
 We have valued the wrong activities when we look only at the person's outward accomplishments. Our relationships - especially our marriages - are an integral part of our ministry..."  (Thomas, Sacred Marriage) 
Our actions reflect the state of our heart, whether or not you believe in Jesus. Furthermore, if you are a Christ follower there is great value in self examination "do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (from Romans 12) This process of renewal is an active and vital part of understanding who we are in Christ. As evangelicals in America we often are out of touch with our own wealth and comfort, and that is a topic that we need to be examining more closely. We need to be dialogue about injustice, hunger, greed, gluttony, excess. We need to change - but that change must be inspired and completed by the Holy Spirit not out of our own strength. As a wife, I have to be cognisant to not bully my way into leading this charge by trying to shame and convict my husband along the way. It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict not mine, and I need to humble myself before I start pointing out "dust" in my spouses eye while I have a "plank sticking out of mine".

Slowing down and moving forward I am seeking balance. Keeping in mind that Thomas is not my God, but through my relationship with Thomas and I have an opportunity everyday to be more like Christ, which is what I was wanting to do all along. Thomas is my best friend and I need to WORK at treating him how I would a friend. I have to actively work on admiring him, and treating him with the respect he longs for and deserves - the same that I gave him when we were first married, just like I want him to pursue me and romance me like we were when we first dating and married - it is a two way street. I am grateful that he is the primary provider for our family and I get to stay home and raise our daughter. I am grateful for his silly sense of humor, his playfulness and adventurous spirit, and most importantly I am grateful to my loving God who brought me Thomas. God knew exactly what he was doing and I must take my thoughts captive and see what God wants to show me about his love for me through my marriage. Thomas and I are just a small tiny part of God's giant enormous love story.

"When marriage is placed within the context of God's redemptive plan, we stay married, as far as it depends on us, as a means to express God's commitment to his people; when marriage is ended by God's design - through death - our ultimate purpose hasn't changed. Now we are "free to perhaps more actively serve God in bringing knowledge of his redemptive plan to others. When marriage becomes our primary pursuit, our delight in the relationship will be crippled by fear, possessiveness, and self-centeredness. We were made to admire, respect, and love someone who has a purpose bigger than ourselves, a purpose centered on God's untiring work of calling his people home to his heart of love. We allow marriage to point beyond itself when we accept two central missions: becoming the people God created us to be, and doing the work God has given us to do." (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


It has been a little over a month since I started weight watchers. I have lost 5 lbs. Okay, okay when I write it like that I am EXCITED! And I have lost an inch off my hips, and 1/2 inch from my waist - so yes yes it is working.

But..... WEEKENDS are always killer for me. I typically work on Saturdays and we are often traveling. That being said I have been at a plateau for about 3 weeks now. I am happy to not have gained - but I gotta break this! Baby girl will be 6 months old on August 6th and my goal is to be in the 140's again! I am oh so close.

So I have recommitted myself for the next week to stay on my eating plan, NO EXCUSES, and to keep up with my working out (as a rule I am good in this area its the eating that gets me). This is my declaration of intent! I'll let yall know how it goes!

Getting my workout in this past weekend while traveling to NJ 
- my waist is starting to come back - yay!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Prayer for a friend.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for  all the friendships that you have brought me throughout my life.  Thank you for making me part of a big family with siblings who I consider friends. God you have been so loving to give me friends that care about me, love me and invest in our relationships. I am overwhelemed by your love displayed in all these relationships. Today I wanted to especially thank you for one friendship that is very dear to my heart, and ask that you would show the same mercy to my daughter in bringing her a friend and sister like my best-friend, Julie.

For as long as I can remember there has been a Julie. We met when we were babies and played together since before pre-school. I don't remember life without her.

I pray that Rebekah too would have a best friend at a young age.

Julie and I only spent one year in school together, pre-school at Redeemer, and I ended up dropping out after the fall semester because I missed my Mommy too much. In kindergarten Julie went to afternoon Kindergarten  and I went to morning K. We spent the rest of our schooling NEVER going to the same school, and yet she was still my number one pal.

I pray that Rebekah would have a friendship that surpasses distance or space.

Through out schooling we would have other friends in each grade that would come along and be our "best friends" and Julie and I would be jealous of those friends. This taught me what scripture means when it say's "God is a jealous God." You aren't jealous of our possessions but you are jealous in a loving and innocent way, wanting to be honored above all other things. Not that I am God but I know that, that emotion, is what you feel. It was innocent for a second grader to want the title of "best friend"  - to be recognized, it wasn't that we didn't want one another to have other friends - it is that we viewed the other one in such high regard, we wanted to be loved as much as we loved.

I pray that Rebekah would share this friend even when it is hard, but it is a good lesson to learn.

Julie was raised Catholic and I was raised protestant. Our churches were different and yet from a young age we talked about Jesus and God, and sometimes I would go to mass with her family and she would go to church with my family even if it meant feeling a little out of place. I remember praying with her family, going to her first holy communion and she would come to youth group with me.

Please bring my daughter a friend who knows you, loves you and is sweet and kind.

I pray that this friend would be lifelong friend, because I know how important friendships are in  shaping a person in who they are and who they will be. I pray that you would bring someone that knows her and cares for her, who reminds her who she is, in those years of peer-pressure. Someone she can be herself around. Someone who will let her have a bad day. Someone she can fight with like a sister, and learn how to forgive and reconcile (even if it was a fight over a boy).  A pray Rebekah would have a friend in her life who throughout growing up "gets her".

I know as her mother I won't always have the best words to say, and that she will need someone she can call, someone who can "talk her down of the ledge" and point her back to YOU, Jesus, because she won't want to hear that from me. There will be times even her husband won't know what to say, because he is a man, and women need friends and each other, but this friend will know what to say. This friend will not judge her for saying EXACTLY what is on her mind - this friend will be able to read between the lines, see through her extreme moods and love her with the unconditional love that reflects Jesus' love.

I pray that you would show this mercy to my daughter, and I thank you for showing this mercy to me. It is truly by your grace that I have a friend like this. Someone who is my "soul sister", and I am so grateful, and I realize this is from you God. It is nothing short of a miracle, because friendships like this are RARE. I don't know anyone else who has a friendship like this, and so I know it is from you. Thank you for hearing my prayer and I pray a special blessing over this little girl who will become a friend to my little girl and who will be like another daughter to me. I pray  for her parents and their marriage, and I pray for her wherever she is right now and I wait in anticipation to see this story unfold.


Me & my best pal Beaners.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Like a Rolling Stone

Motherhood is not a Rolling Stone - when you get things going you think you are a Rolling Stone as you are going along, leaping over one thing then the next. "I am a rolling stone" you think, "nothing can stop me" you say, to then hit a brick wall. It is an abrupt stop. You could be mad - you could be beside yourself, as your day seems to come to a screeching halt. Or you can see the beauty in it. That is the beauty of children - they make us stop, silence our busy day, put on lullabies and turn the lights down, they make us remember we too need rest, and quiet just as much as they do. So yes I was on a roll today, thought I was going to get EVERYTHING checked off, but I haven't, and that is okay. My daughter is asleep happily in her safe, cozy crib, and I am getting to sit in the stillness and reflect on God's word and unpack us from our wonderful family vacation. No I am not "doing what I was supposed to" but that is okay. I am here instead and here is a beautiful place.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nursing, Weight-loss, & Weight-Watchers.

The response to my last post was so overwhelming. Thank you to everyone for all your encouragement and kind words. I am glad that I could inspire some of you and relate to others. This post is a sort of part two to my last entry, as I am still on my journey to lose the baby weight. I hope this will help those of you also on the post-baby weight-loss track or who will one day be on that path.

Baby girl will be 5 months old on July 6th, and I am still not at my pre-pregnancy weight. WHICH IS IS OKAY!!!!! Ladies - some of us don't lose it in the first month or even first three months! After my last post I was SO close to my goal, but then two weeks after I was on a little mini-vacation and I just ate whatever I wanted. I lost so much motivation (to eat well) and my usual "look at pinterest to keep going" wasn't doing what it use to. Along the way I have looked to other Mom's in the blogesphere to help me keep going. Here are a few of my favorites:

Something kind of scary (ugh I hate that word) happened just as I was making headway and gaining momentum. As I was trying to count my calories (which I have ALWAYS done in the past to lose weight and been very successful with)  I was A.) exhausted by it mentally B.) physically exhausted. A BIG halt came in this journey when I woke up one morning with the shakes. I was dizzy, lightheaded and could barely lift my daughter. After nursing and changing her I put her in her pack & play and immediately ate some high carb food for instant energy. It took about three hours for me to feel "normal" again. Though my calories from the day before were on target - my carb count was NOT. I use for tracking and so I could see my fat, carb & protein (and much more) percentages for the day. I felt very discouraged and frustrated - not sure if I was getting enough calories in general and also not really sure how to balance WHAT I was eating while nursing.

The one thing I found is that YES nursing can be a miracle worker - i.e. I literally ate half a pan of brownies over a 24 hour period and did not gain a single ounce. NEVER in my life could I do that, but I have taken advantage of this in my weakest moments (clearly). Some Mom's also express, that while nursing, it is hard for them to lose weight and they hang on to those "last 5 to 10 lbs". I could totally relate to this. Not because nursing wasn't burning calories, but because I didn't know how to eat while nursing - you truly do need MORE calories, and more of certain kind of calories. Pre-pregnancy I could do low-calorie, high protein eating, but now I can feel my body has different needs. I also noticed that some of the women I looked to for weight-loss inspiration STOPPED nursing around 4 months, and so I couldn't necessarily relate to them and their weight-loss experience. Nursing IS more important to me than getting back into my skinny jeans.

After a breakdown, feeling frustrated, tired and annoyed. I did something I thought I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER do.... I joined weight-watchers. I have been doing WW for almost two weeks and I love it. The reason I joined is because they have a program for nursing Moms and they were having a huge summer promotion. It has been great for me because I am used to measuring and counting calories - so the transition to points worked, and it in fact it is easier. I am not starving, I can have the food I enjoy and it's all on my iphone too since I am doing the online version. If you are a nursing Mom who is having trouble with loosing the pounds try it! I will keep you all updated with how it's going.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Day we met. A birth story.

This is Rebekah Faith Wear's birth story, and it is a beautiful one indeed. Sadly, I do not have many photos from this day - I made sure with my second to hire a birth photographer, but if you have time here is our story! For you pregnant ladies out there who might be reading this it is safe to proceed. There is no horror story, blood or gore. And for those of you, some of my friends even, who did have to endure trauma during your labor and/or your delivery may this story be healing to you, and help dispense any fear, pain or hurt you endured during your experience.

Thursday January 31st - 38 week appointment

I remember when I felt Rebekah “drop” into place, it was around 36 weeks and I could feel the difference in my pelvic area. Walking presented new challenges, but it gave me hope she was coming early. I knew she was coming early. At my 38 week appointment I thought for sure I would be dilated but I was no more than 1/2 a centimeter dilated - nothing to write home about. My Mom, and doula, was prepared to come for the weekend following my appointment, but I called her after the quick appointment and told her not to come.

Friday February 1

I began to have tightening sensations about every hour for 15-30 seconds. They were very weak, almost unnoticible, but they were at regular hour intervals. I remember running to Target to pick up some last minute things; a changing table cover, gift for the nurses at the hospital. I called Mom as I was leaving and asked her to come for the weekend just in case this was a sign of my labor picking up. I remember not wanting to get my hopes up, curious, anxious if it was all really starting. Very unsure of myself and my body, and frankly I just needed my Mom there for comfort and reassurance.

Pre-Labor/ Early Labor
Saturday Feburary 2 - Monday February 4

Mom arrived in the morning. I was so excited, and yes, well rested. The tightening continued all day Saturday and Sunday with regular intervals, about every 7 minutes apart, but still very comfortable. Mild enough that I could nap during the day, and rest. But, by Monday, the surges slowed and I felt more frustrated than anything else. Unsure if labor was actually going to start “for real” or not. My Mom kept reminding me that it was “real” labor. It was all part of the story, all start of the process. Unsure if "the day" was one day away or one week away. It's like not knowing when Christmas is going to come.

Tuesday February 5

5 am - I woke up with regular surges. I went downstairs, ate a bowl of shredded wheat cereal and almond milk. Little did I know this would be the last thing I would eat for the next 28 hours. During the surges I got on my knees and laid across my red birth ball. I timed the tightening, and they were about 30 seconds long every 5 minutes. By 7 am I woke up Mom and Thomas, and we called the nurses -line. Because of the regularity and length of time I was having the regular contractions we went into the hospital. We packed up EVERYTHING.

Traffic was awful. It took us 45 minutes to get to the hospital. We brought everything up with us, registered, and went to the third floor to labor and delivery. As we got checked into triage, we were in formed that only Thomas could go back with me and that we could not leave our stuff - Mom had to carry it all downstairs with her to the first floor waiting room - I was annoyed they didn't tell us that when we arrived at Registration. Little miscommunications between Registration and the nurses continued like this throughout my hospital care. 

After putting on a hospital gown I was hooked up to two monitors  - one for the baby and one for my surges. The nurses asked me a million questions - most of which I cannot remember. I didn’t want to answer any of them. When they finally examined me I was only 1 centimeter dilated, but they confirmed that I was having regular conractions, and they would stay that regular or get slightly closer together and just increase in intensity. They urged me to go home since I wanted to do a natural labor and delivery. They said if I stayed at the hospital it would only increase my chances of intervention, induction, etc. So we left, and that’s when the race really kicked off.

As soon as I got home I tried to rest. Through each surge, I implimented my much practiced hypnobirth techniques. Light touch massage on my arms and legs was the only touch I could really handle. The birth ball was my companion and best friend, as I labored over it on my hands and knees most of the day. I took a few short naps, interrupted by my surges and trying to go deeper into myself. By 7 or 8  o’clock that evening I wanted to go to the hospital. My surges were strong and I was tired. We called the doctor and she was kind enough to just let us meet her at her office so we did’t have to go through triage again. 20 minutes in the car, with the seat heaters on seemed to acutally help my pelivic discomfort and ease me into my breathing. We got to  Dr. Wolf’s office and she checked me... I was only 2 cm dilated!!! I began to cry feeling like nothing was happening, and feeling very discouraged. My compassionate doctor held my warm wet face in her hands and said “You’re doing woderfully, go home.” She reminded me most women couldn’t even have labored this long naturally, and siad I was doing a beautiful job and that I just needed to keep going. So I did. My husband, mom and I walked (er -I waddled) out of the office and headed home. In the car we decided to just drive around for a bit since the car seemed to relax me. At this point the timing is all a blur. I was in and out of awareness - and can honestly attest to the power of the hynobirthing techniques at this point. My breathing would be so rhythmic at times I put my husband to sleep (once we were home of course).

When we got home my Mom encouraged Thomas to go to the basement and sleep, as we could have another long day ahead of us. Her and I slept in the comfort of the guest room where the soft worn in matress cradled my body and I would get 3 minute rests between surges. In those 2 or three minutes I sometime dozed. I tried to let Mom sleep as well, and I would often get up to go back into the master bedroom to work on the ball, or get in the tub. The night went on, the hours passed and I was unaware until about 5 am.

The 24 hour mark

Wednesday February 6

5 am - By the time I hit this benchmark in labor. I was tired and back labor had begun. I felt as though I was loosing focus and giving up on my body and myself. I would shake through my contractions and could not find a comfortable position. Any sitting or lying was unbearable. I asked to be taken to the hospital, and my physche flirted with the idea of escape via an epidural. I kept saying “I’m done now”. Thomas and Mom were patient, and calm as I felt like I was on the verge of loosing it. As much as I felt out of control, the baby bearing down on my pelvic floor, I kept it together on the outside. The videos of me show a completely calm shell. I seem drugged, and in no pain. Inside I was ready to stop. Looking back I was simply fatigued.

When we got to the hospital, I could barely get through registration. But I made it all the way to triage without a wheelchair. I could still walk and I continued to breathe. I continued to "run the race", one breath in front of the other, just keep going. The agony came when they had me hooked up to the monitors again. I could barely stand being on my back, lying down. The nurses checked me - two infact. I was completely thinned and they couldn’t get an exact on how dialted I was - they estimated 6-7 cm. That was a relief, but also discouraging. When they asked me if I wanted the epidural I said "yes", but Thomas said "no", and I stayed mad at him the remainder of the morning.

6:20 am - (Right before the nurses changed shifts at 7am)we were officially checked in to a LDR room (labor and delivery room)! Praise God. As they carted my bed off, the triage nurse went with me, and tried to re-hook me up to the monitors in the LDR room. I could not bare to be on my back. I needed to be on my knees draped over my birth ball, but the nurse was irritated that I wasn't being still enough to be monitored. Thomas and Mom advocated for me and luckily when the labor and delivery nurse came in she said I could be in any position I wanted to. She did not make me feel pressure, or bad for her missed agenda of getting the baby monitored.

The nurses changed shifts and Dr. Wolf came in to check me, commenting she doubted I was 6 cm. But when she did check me she said “Well good news! You are ready to push!” I was elated and in disbelief! She explained she would go get ready, and she would also be breaking my water.

I don’t know what time it was, but I remember the nurses coming in and setting up, the nurses were two girls in their young 20’s about my age. One was a nursing student, and the other was a sweet, lively nurse ready to go. I was glad they were both there to help and assit Dr. Wolf. We had a great team. Thomas was on my left and my Mom on my right. When Dr. Wolf broke my water I felt nothing, just saw a great flood - and Dr. Wolf explained there was merconium in the water and because of this the baby would not be able to have immediate skin to skin time with me, but would need to be seen (in room) by the NICU nurses right away. Thomas could be by her side the entire time. I was fine with all this, I just wanted to meet my baby at that point.

Around 8:10 am - Before I knew it I was pushing. Three 10 second count pushes for every wave of contractions. By the second wave I had a mirror that I could watch the process - Dr. Wolf said it would help me push better, and it did.  Although I fought her on it at first, I didnt want to watch my body unfold itself - but she said "You can and you will" even when I insisted I couldn’t watch. The hardest part was that I was tired, for being up so long.The pain was nothing in compared to the race I had been running for the past day - the finish line was in sight. My body shook after pushing, and my team would coach me to go limp and relax, reserve my energy for the next surge. Toward the end - waiting to push with her so low seemed impossible, but I remained calm and in control. I willed myself to keep going, still in disbelief the moment was here. The moment was now.

At 8:47 am Rebekah Faith Wear was born. 7 lbs 13 oz. 22 inches long. A head full of blonde hair. She was perfect. She was mine. She was ours. Her Daddy talked to her as she got examined by the nurses. He was her comfort amidst the confusion of not getting to meet me right away.

Dr. Wolf and my Mom stayed with me, and I delivered the placenta. I was shaking, and was buzzing, and in shock that it was over. That I had had a natural, peaceful and calm birthing. I did tear but I didn’t feel it when it happened, and it was minor. After the placenta was birthed they gave me pitocin because I bled a good bit, but I was well. She was healthy, I was healthy - the room was warm with the sunlight of morning and the birth of my baby girl.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Skinny Jeans, Baby Weight & Body Image

The journey to "lose the baby weight" has been interesting thus far. My daughter will be 4 months old in one week, and I only have 6-8 lbs to go to my PRE-Prego weight but really want to lose 15 more lbs since I was about 10 lbs heavier than what I wanted to be before I got pregnant. I wanted to write on this topic because I know how hard it is (now) to feel good about yourself in this stage of life. I wanted to offer a realistic view of what it looks like during this time, and so other woman can be encouraged by this post. Whatever you do - don't give up, and remember The Story of the Little Engine That Could - "I think I can, I think I can!"

Me a week or two before giving birth- Jan 2013 (I maxed out at 178 lbs - which was a 34lb gain my entire pregnancy -this is also my first pregnancy) 

I will be doing a couple posts on this topic because it was very difficult for me after I had her to deal with my body image. Luckily Thomas had two weeks off work and my Mom and his Mom were here to help us with the new baby, and that gave me a chance to shower every morning and do my hair and makeup. Even when Thomas went back to work and all the help left, baby girl had a really great morning nap routine and that is when I would still take my shower and do my hair and makeup. It was the ONE thing a day that made me feel somewhat okay about myself. Even though my face was puffier, and rounder than normal - styling my hair and putting on a face made all the difference.

The most challenging thing for me post-baby was how surprised I was by the 6-weeks of no exercise & & how crummy I felt about my body. I am NOT one of those women who started walking, running, exercising pre 6 weeks. NO NO NO. The one thing I heard from all the women in my life, including my doctor was "TAKE IT EASY". My own Mother was nuts about me NOT using the stairs, as was my Grandmother. It has a lot to do with the pelvic floor, and the truth is we just aren't sure how much damage we do to it until we are older, so the recovery time post labor and delivery is incredibly important. That all being said I hated (with a passion) not being able to exercise.

Here are some pictures from my journey thus far, and how I felt at every stage. I will be posting later on how to dress, and style yourself to feel BETTER during these phases.

The day I gave birth - February 6, 2013 - I was on a high. My body was the last thing I was thinking about. I had a 28 hour completely natural vaginal birth using Hypnobirthing. 

Me 4 days after giving birth - you can see my belly still swollen. At this point the water retention was intense, and I remember putting on that tank top and thinking - "this is interesting", but it still didn't phase me at this point. I was still 10 lbs down from when I was full term. 

Me (& my gorgeous sister in law) 7 weeks post baby. My weight was 161lbs at this point, and I felt gross. By the 5/6 post partum mark I was completely over not being able to exercise. Note: I did NOT eat well during those 6 weeks which is something I would totally change with my next post partum recovery period. If I had not had so many DANG Potbelly Sugar Cookies I would have been in the 150's at that point - but hey! I was enjoying the sweets. To make you feel better there was one day where I think I had three sugar cookies from Potbelly - and those things are 550 calories A POP. The fact that I wasn't gaining made me excited - so I took advantage. 

Okay I hate this picture (I am second from the left)- I about died when I saw it but I am posting it for a reason. I want SHOW other women out there that YES your body does change, your belly pouches, and you may feel crummy about yourself but be patient, and be KIND to yourself.  I know you have heard it a thousand times but here is another reminder: You brought a living human being into this world. You carried a miracle. Genesis tells us that both man and woman were created in God's image, and you know what image we reflect of God? The ability to create life! It is an amazing and powerful, and sacred gift, and we need to be kind and loving to our vessel that carries these sweet children. Even if you don't believe it - there are days when I don't, and I was scared - Your body WILL change back. I am not fully there yet, but even in the past 3 weeks (from when this picture was taken) I see a difference, and my body is changing, and the skin is going back to the muscle, and that fat is melting. 

Mothers Day 2013 - I still have about 10 lbs. to lose in this picture to be at my pre-baby weight
13 weeks post-partum. At this point I have been very disciplined about exercise and I am at 153-156 in this picture. I am also a nursing mother, so learning what to eat, and when has been interesting. You can see how and what I am eating in my next post! 

This is me today - down to 151. Still have 7lbs to go to my pre-pregnancy weight but I had a major victory today. These jeans are my "skinny-fat" jeans. Lol - what are "skinny-fat" jeans? They are the Pre-pregnancy jeans I fit into (at 11 weeks) but also my "fat jeans" - I am NOT in my skinny-skinny jeans yet! Back in 2011 I lost 20 lbs and I looked & felt amazing. I got ride of all my "fat" clothes, and as I was losing weight I bought these pair of jeans to transition (since I knew I wanted to lose more). They are Madewell Jeans and so I didn't want to throw them away when I lost all the weight. So I kept them around. I wore them in the first trimester of pregnancy (when I had put on about 8 lbs), and now I fit them! It's still a tight squeeze but they are totally wearable! This picture also shows my tummy - you can still see there is a lot of work to be done, but it is an improvement from three weeks ago, and from all the reading I've done it takes about one full year (ugh) for the skin to return 90% back to the muscle. Don't get me wrong that is not all skin, I have about 10% body fat I also need to lose, but it all ties into each other. 

 If you are a new Mom, or just had a baby and are struggling with your body image I hope by me "putting it all out there" it has been an encouragement. I think all women (as some point in their life) struggle with this - especially after having babies, but take heart and just keep moving forward. Now that I have been through, and am still going through this, I think TIME does more good for our bodies than any amount of exercise or trying to eat perfect. Keep in mind if you are breastfeeding to be cautious with dieting, make sure you are getting plenty of carbs and drinking enough water. This is not the time to "low carb" it - you can do that AFTER you stop nursing. Remember you are beautifully made and say nice things to yourself - change the inner-dialogue. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Photos & Mothers Day

So I have been using pinterest and other Mommy blogs to help me stay and get motivated to get rid of the baby weight. I realized the ones that get the most traffic and most useful to me are the ones that update regularly and POST Photos! So I will be doing BOTH of those things more often - I SWEAR!

So here are pics from my first mothers day. I had the wonderful joy to share the day with my Mama, and my Grandmother whom I call "Luli". Also my Aunt Gigi was in town from Seattle.

 Me & Baby Girl on My first mothers Day 

Four Generations of Women - What a Special Picture. 

 Baby Rebekah & her Lala... so sweet.
Laughing! Love this one :)
 Rebekah and Aunt. Gigi

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fitting in my workout

Baby girl is going to be three months on wednesday! This past month I gave myself a 30 day challenge to work out everyday - which really turned into me working out 5/7 days a week! Which is a great accomplishment in of itself.

Though the local Y has childcare starting at 6 weeks of age, I haven't been comfortable (during this flu season) to take my little one there. So how do I fit it in?

I have three different at home DVDs I rotate, and I go to the Y at night after the baby's evening feeding and when my hubby gets home. At home, my tip to to new moms is this: workout in the morning after a mid-morning feeding as soon as you put the baby down for a nap - don't get too distracted by all your other to-do's. Put the baby down in her crib, or even in a pack n' play next to you, and while he or she is sleeping workout. I find if I wait too long, by the time I START my workout is when my little one is ready to be up again. So do it at the beginning of a morning nap.

At the gym I have been focusing on LEGS, and 20 min of cardio on a bike or glider machine. My legs  took a beating from pregnancy - so don't be shocked if you feel weaker after delivery and the months to follow. I tried to hop back into running at the 6 week mark but a week into it my knees were so achey I couldn't continue - I did some research and believe it to be more muscle related then directly related to my knees. Not to mention I have 10 lbs to go to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, extra weight puts a ton of pressure on the knees also. So I am focusing on getting my legs STRONG, and getting these ten pounds off before I start my running program again.

The DVD's I use are:

- Jillian Michaels, 6 week six-pack
- Jillian Michaels, Ripped in 30
- Moms into fitness DVD - Lindsay Brin, postnatal Boot Camp

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hair-rah. Work at Home Mama.

As a hairstylist and makeup artist I have the best job in the world of making other women feel beautiful and confident - or, really, just getting them in touch with that part of themselves that was there all along. I love teaching women practical tips on how to style their hair or use makeup, and though my main cliental is brides (so I do a lot of makeup and updos) I also love cutting.

Before baby was born I arranged a little salon in the basement of my home where I have a stylist chair and great set up. Even though I have taken time off from cutting, and even weddings till May my sister came over today and we had a little makeover session. I cut, highlighted and styled her hair and then we did the works with the makeup. It was a fun creative outlet for me. 

Anyway, today on the blog I thought I would share the link to my hair blog:

My gorgeous baby sister Libby. After her cut, color & makeup makeover :)