So, I’ve never been one to make a resolution and stick with it. I typically don’t make resolutions at all. Have you ever done it? Have you even come close? I’m not great at setting goals… I know, that sounds silly. I’m afraid I’d just fail at it, get discouraged, get depressed, and then it’d be all over. I just do what I do, and try to do it well. That’s a goal, right?
Well, I heard a few things this year about resolutions not really being a thing any more, but having a quote or even just one word that you live your year by instead.
I read this post on My Big Jesus (here it is!) by a lovely woman I know, and she had a great take on a New Year’s “word”. She chose “ordinary”. That may seem like underachieving, but truly, it’s providing a blank slate for God to create something really beautiful, wonderful, extraordinary, that’s He has ordained, not me. Not something that I that I’ve heard other people did and thought it might look nice on my social media when you read it.
Leaving myself open to God’s plan isn’t always easy. His road is rarely freshly paved, with wide lanes and glorious views. It can be tough, windy, hilly, and we can feel like we’re low on gas.
But I think I’m gonna intentionally choose to embrace where I am in 2015. I jokingly say sometimes that I feel like I’m constantly on the crazy train, and I should just embrace it because it isn’t going anywhere. But seriously, I want to embrace the crazy – embrace it because it is my “ordinary”. I won’t set unattainable goals, lofty and numerous. I won’t even try my hardest to do what I want to do. I’m just going to pray more, and let His Spirit lead me. Saying “yes” to His will is the biggest “resolution”, or “word” to live by. The best part? There will be grace when I fail. There will be forgiveness when I’m not following. There will be room for growth, no matter how I’m doing. And that is where the true blessing is.
A couple of weekends ago, I went to the mountains (Asheville, NC to be exact) with my college girlfriends for about 24 hours. Y’all. It’s the first baby-free 24 hours I’ve had since September. I know, I’m probably spoiled getting away twice in a matter of four months, but I digress.
We had planned to spend a day and a night together before the Christmas rush to catch up, sleep late, eat like the foodies we are, drink wine and shop. It was a great trip: beautiful weather, wonderful friends (we’ve been friends for ten years!) and just enough excitement to make me glad I wasn’t lugging two extra bodies around.
Until I’d gotten through 19 or so of the 24 hours. And then I missed those extra little bodies. No one was tugging at my shirt from around my knees, no one had needed to potty, no sippy cups misplaced, no diapers were changed, and no one had cried because their nap time was off. But then again, no one randomly wanted hugs and kisses, ate the rest of my sandwich I couldn’t finish, charmed strangers with his giggles, or gave a hilarious misnomer to an item she saw in a storefront. Hubby was sending me pictures of the three of them, having a grand time wearing superhero capes and having dance parties. I know, I shouldn’t complain. I was sitting in front of the fire at the Grove Park Inn, sipping hot chocolate. Still, I digress.
When you create two little beings, they are such a part of you that there’s no not missing them. There’s no glad you haven’t seen them in a while or relieved you aren’t changing diapers and scrambling eggs right now. I don’t think it’s a routine thing either… I don’t miss them because they’re a part of my routine and I’m a scheduled person. I miss them because they’re a part of me. They’re my favorite people. They’re opening my eyes to the world that they see and the feelings they’re discovering for the first time, not to mention milestones like learning to walk or pooping in the potty that I might be missing!
I also know that time with adults (read: people with wider vocabularies) and time to be by myself is healthy. I know that getting a full night’s sleep is a good thing, as is building and keeping up relationship with women that I love. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating time; we are an easy-going group, who all know each other well enough that we can skip pleasantries and get straight to what’s going on in our lives. And since we’re all at different points in our lives (ie: I’m the only mom) it’s fun to hear about things that we’ve passed, or things we haven’t come to yet. It’s good for me to remember that my life isn’t only inside my four walls with the three people I see most often. It stretches and encourages me that not all of us are in the same trenches.
What a busy day we had! And that’s saying something, since we didn’t have to leave the house at all. We opened lots of presents, ate lots of food (mostly breakfast and snacks – our Christmas feast was green beans, macaroni and cheese, and Honeybaked ham!), and just spent lots of time together with our sweet family. Eight people at the house, in addition to our four was a lot, but awesome.
Here are a few pictures to recap the day… I’ll post again later with the nicer photos from Hubby’s camera, and also include J’s first birthday party this afternoon! He’ll be one tomorrow – more celebration! Phew!
More pictures from Hubby’s camera later… and also, J’s birthday party was a blast! Will post about it tomorrow! How was your Christmas?!
Today is a happy day, full of family, music, Christmas pajamas, twinkling lights, yummy food, and gratitude. I’m thankful for so many things, on this day of wonder and joy, and I’ll list a few of them here:
A family that wanted to visit me for Christmas, and arrived safely
Cute kids in their pjs
A Hubby that provides and loves well
A roof over my head to shelter me from this rain
Lots of food to eat
A church family I’m excited to celebrate with tonight
Presents under the tree
A Savior who came for us all
Here’s a glimpse of the lazy morning, and I hope you’re doing the same thing!
What are you plans for the day? Is it dreary and raining where you are?
My daughter likes to have me read the Bible to her before she goes to bed. We have two versions that we read to her: The Beginner’s Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible (both by Zonderkidz). For some reason, the entire season of Advent, we hadn’t read from the latter of the two versions until the other night. I was laying in her bed, her head nestled on my lap, and read the story of the Nativity, as written in The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Y’all. I was weeping.
I will first say that I’ve looked at the Nativity story – specifically Mary and her blessed job – a little different since becoming a mother myself. It’s rocked my world the past few Christmases, thinking about carrying a child you know will change the world in the best and most terrifying of ways. I’ll share a few favorite moments, but I have to say that I love the annunciation story:
“‘Mary, you’re going to have a baby. A little boy. You will call him Jesus. He is God’s own Son. He’s the One! He’s the Rescuer!’
…Wait. God was sending a baby to rescue the world?
‘But it’s too wonderful!’ Mary said and felt her heart beating hard. ‘How can it be true?’
‘Is anything too wonderful for God?’ Gabriel asked.
So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see. And she believed. ‘I am God’s servant,’ she said. ‘Whatever God says, I will do.'”
I love the way they don’t leave out the nuance of Mary’s fear mingled with excitement, followed by complete and total trust. My two-year-old might not have picked it up, but that was where the tears began. And here’s where they really picked up: the story of the shepherds. You see, I had never given a thought to God as a daddy. A great, big, Holy Father, sure. But a giddy, brand new Daddy? It melted me.
“You see, God was like a new daddy – he couldn’t keep the good news to himself. He’d been waiting all these long years for this moment, and now he wanted to tell everyone.
So he pulled out all the stops. He’d sent an angel to tell Mary the good news. He’d put a special star in the sky to show where his boy was. And now he was going to send a big choir of angels to sing his happy song to the world: He’s come! Go and see him. My little Boy.”
My little Boy. Thinking about my own little boy and his excited his wonderful daddy was when he was born made me wonder how much more excited God was to see his tiny Son be born!
Wrapping up the story was a perfect summation, written in a way that all can understand:
“But this child was a new kind of king. Though he was the Prince of Heaven, he had become poor. Though he was the Mighty God, he had become a helpless baby. This King hadn’t come to be the boss. He had come to be a servant.”
The excitement and wonder of Jesus’ arrival at Christmas is still a glorious foreshadowing of the sacrifice and hope of Easter. A incredible story of the humble beginnings of a baby King, growing into an unparalleled story of miracles, prophecy and fulfillment, suffering, death, and resurrection all for the sinners who had turned from Him. Reading between the lines of a children’s story, I experienced a shift from the busyness and excitement to gratefulness and conviction. I belong to this baby King, and he is my reason for everything I do.
Recently, I have had another wave of my friends – real life and blog world – get pregnant (with their seconds and thirds, mostly). Talking to them about their weird symptoms and questioning what is “normal” during a pregnancy got me thinking. What is normal? Is there such a thing as a normal pregnancy? Are you similarly pregnant each time, or do you have a different pregnancy with each child? Here are my thoughts:
1. Whatever happens to you is your “normal”. Feel great? That’s normal! Super tired and cranky? That’s normal! Only willing to eat watermelon and macaroni and cheese? That’s normal! For me, normal was feeling great and eating either raw food (salad, fruit, etc) and cereal. Weird, I know.
2. Fatigue is real. I repeat, the fatigue is real. I don’t care how far long you are, or what number child you’re having. You will experience fatigue sometimes. For me, it’s typically first trimester, and a little bit third trimester when I’m doing too much with that big belly and extra weight.
3. Pregnancy symptoms can start really early. Those people who tell you that the first several weeks you can’t even tell you’re pregnant… are lying. Breast soreness, increased appetite, backaches, headaches, fatigue – it can all start as early as BEFORE YOU EVEN KNOW YOU’RE PREGNANT. For real.
4. Maternity pants fit no one. Over-the-belly ones, at least. Especially because you might have a week that they fit you perfectly, but you know darn well that they won’t fit you if you are only 23 weeks, and they won’t fit you if you’re 37 weeks. When I’m pregnant, I wear under-the-belly bottoms almost exclusively.
5. Getting a cold feels like the flu. A smile was cold you caught from your preschooler can turn into a nasty snot fest that has you bedridden, begging Hubby to make you hot tea and grilled cheese.
6. Telling (and not telling) your news is equally stressful and fun. It’s hard to decide when and how and to whom to share the news. It’s taboo to tell too early, but waiting is tough when you cut out alcohol and caffeine and can’t fit in your clothes like you used to.
7. Once you’ve had a miscarriage, you may drive yourself crazy waiting for signs of another one. With J, I was fearful every time I felt a tiny bit of pain in my belly, or when I was really tired or had done a lot in a day without resting.
8. Learning to sleep on your left side for nine months is hard, but could be permanent. I’ve slept on my left side almost every night since I changed to doing that while pregnant with EK. I was always a stomach sleeper before.
9. Hormones are real, and scary. I cried a lot, about good things and bad, and I was a little… on edge (read: snappy. Sorry Hubby.). And unfortunately it didn’t really go away until the baby was a couple months old. It takes a while to get back to normal!
10. Insatiable hunger is a thing. I was hungry and craving things from the moment I was pregnant, it seemed. Different things all the time, but trying to quench my hunger with fruits and veggies didn’t always work. I frequently needed carbs and proteins to really stave off hunger more than a few minutes. And the only time I went hours without being hungry was sleeping at night, and sometimes not even then.
So there are 10 of my personal truths about being pregnant. Now I want to know: Are you currently pregnant? What was your normal when you were? Were your pregnancies similar? Did you do anything differently?
In honor of my turning 29, here are 29 things about me that you might not know. Enjoy!
1. I am not at all nervous about ending my 20s. They were the best years of my life so far- meeting, falling in love with and marrying my husband, my first years teaching music, having my wonderful daughter and sweet son, growing in my relationship with Jesus. Everything about then was basically awesome, so my 30s are gonna be just as good, I’m sure!
2. I’ve got an affinity for Disney movies. I’ve been a huge Disney buff my whole life, and growing up hasn’t squelched my love.
3. I like ethnic foods. Of all kinds. A lot. I love funky flavors, unconventional ingredients and thinking out of the box. Yum.
4. I almost completed a minor in art history. It was really because I was busy that I didn’t. I love art (I don’t make it though, haha) and I could live in a museum and love it.
5. I’m a sucker for a romance novel. That includes everything from the Twilight series (I know, don’t say it) to the Outlander series to straight up trash. I don’t always read them, but sometimes it’s nice to have an easy read, where I don’t have to use my brain but I get completely carried away somewhere else.
6. I’m from Georgia, so I am a Coca-Cola Classic drinker exclusively. I don’t have time for other sodas, especially Pepsi. #gross
7. I love the movies, but I’ve never read anything by Tolkien. This baffles Hubby (and countless others, I’m sure) but every time I’ve tried, his writing is too detailed and meticulous. It’s been a while since I’ve given it a shot though, so it’s on my to-do list to try again.
8. I wear contacts. I’m as blind as a bat, and I mean that very seriously. For instance, they don’t make those fancy thin lenses in my prescription. Four eyes, unite!
9. In addition to drinking a ton of coffee, I also love drinking hot tea. I’m currently drinking a lot of Mighty Leaf teas, which I’m purchasing at Lowe’s Foods. They are so yummy!
10. To go along with #9, I collect teacups from random places in the hopes that I’ll retire with a tea house one day, full of singular, unique teacups.
11. I may lead contemporary worship at a Presbyterian church now, but I grew up in a Baptist church, singing from a hymnal, accompanied by a piano, an organ, and a sanctuary choir. I have such a deep appreciation for both worship styles that if I’m with one for too long, I miss the other.
12. I sometimes (read: often) have a foul mouth. I know. I’m a Christian. I have kids. I should clean it up. You’re right. It’s still pretty bad. It’s always been a vice for me.
13. I’m thinking I should’ve done this project for my 16th birthday, not my 29th.
14. I haven’t always been an in-shape person. I haven’t always eaten healthy. I played volleyball in high school, but didn’t do a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. when I got to college. I didn’t start doing anything nice for my body again (including getting enough sleep) until I got pregnant with EK in 2011.
15. I have four tattoos. Each one of them is small and discreet, but I’m thinking about getting another that will be much bigger. Haven’t decided exactly what or where yet, but I’m sure I’ll post about it!
16. I’m terrible at math. I always have been, but now that I haven’t been in any sort of math class in six years or so, it’s a little embarrassing how out of practice I am at even the simplest math. Let’s just say I won’t be the one in my house who is able to help my kids with their long division.
17. Two of my favorite colors are coral and turquoise. If you look at my closet, you’d see that right off the bat.
18. I have only just recently started wearing purple again. My elementary, middle and high school all had purple and white as their colors, and I got so burned out on “Darlington purple” that I hated the color for years after I graduated. Only just in the past year or so have I allowed the color back into my life.
19. I love choral music. I’m a big nerd about it, actually. I like to go to see a performance of Messiah every year if I can (there’s a great one here; I went last night!) and I always like visiting churches where there are big choirs, concerts at schools, etc.
20. I like to dress up. I always liked it as a little girl, and that stuck with me. I like putting on a dress, sparkly earrings, and high heels. Especially because I love it when Hubby puts on a suit. He is dashing!
21. I love skiing. I’ve only really been once, and haven’t been able to go back, but it was incredible (we went to Beaver Creek, CO) and I wish I could go every winter.
22. I get a lot of cavities. It’s really annoying. I take great care of my teeth, and still discover one almost every time I go to the dentist. Ugh.
23. I just now downloaded the Timehop app, and I’m immediately loving it. I don’t know why I’ve been watching everyone’s Timehop posts for like a year, and I’m just now getting around to it, but I love it!
24. If I could choose, I’d be a night owl. My city has great night life (music, etc) and I am never sleepy when it’s time to go to bed (as she blogs at 10:39 pm). My kids have just in the past couple of months begun to get up early – around 7 am and yes I know I’m spoiled – and it’s been a tough transition. Hubby and I like to hang out late night, and then are extremely tired when kiddos are pooping and wanting breakfast so early!
25. If I could go to a new place, it would definitely be somewhere in Europe. I’ve been several places there before, and never to other continents, but I just have more of a heart for Europe’s history and culture. I’d love to see countries I haven’t seen. Maybe Greece, Spain, Scotland, anyone?
26. If I could go back right now to a place I have been before, I’d go to Ireland. I spent a month there in college, and it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken. I loved every moment of every place and every person I met. Incredible people, culture, food, and tradition. I think I could live there. (Other countries I have visited: Italy, Poland, England.)
27. I love living in North Carolina because I am close enough to the mountains, near enough to the beach, and in (or around) a city that has great things going on. It’s the perfect blend of all the things I love.
28. The chore around the house I like most is vacuuming. I like to see results. My least favorite? Folding laundry.
29. I am truly surrounded by wonderful people in my family and friends circles. I don’t really feel like there’s much drama (maybe I’ve learned to tune it out) and I genuinely like everyone I hang out with. I’ve been blessed with people who love me well, and who I love well, also. So thankful for that, after years of people coming and going and changing and growing apart. You guys who are my friends now are stuck with me!
Well, I made it all the way through 29. Don’t look for one of these next year because it was tough to talk about myself for that long – I actually wrote this over the span of a few days. Yikes! And now, at 11:00pm on the third day, I’m uploading the post and going to bed. Night!
Folks, this is the last year of my 20s. And you know what? I’m not even sad.
On Saturday, I had a fantastic day. We went out to breakfast, were successful in packing up more of the basement and catching up (a little anyway) on some laundry, and then in the evening our babysitter came over to let us go out to dinner and to see Mockingjay Part 1 (which, by the way, was totally awesome).
The only hitch in the day happened first thing in the morning. When I woke up, it was to the sound of my toddler, running around upstairs. This isn’t unusual. She sometimes stays in bed to read for a while, and sometimes comes out to play with her toys. This morning, she decided she was going to get started with breakfast. Much to my dismay, she began with eggs. And of COURSE, because toddlers are clumsy, she broke a couple. One in the kitchen, right in front of the refrigerator, which she stepped in, and tracked all the way back to my bedroom, where she broke the other one. Of course, right? Happy birthday to me. The first thing Hubby and I did when we got up was strip her of her egg-covered clothes, bleach the floor from kitchen to bedroom, and put everyone in the shower. Sheesh. Then, when we finally were all clean and dressed, there was no way I was cooking breakfast, so I got some Waffle House out of the deal! That was good.
Needless to say, we are now locking the fridge. It sounds ridiculous, but I am NOT cleaning up that mess again!
I noticed this phrase I’ve been using recently – and I even caught Hubby saying it today. sometimes, when I’m telling EK to do something, she gets frustrated or even cries. So the next time I tell her, I often begin my sentence with “I love you, but…” Here are a few examples:
I love you, but you have to go to bed now.
I love you, but you can’t hit your brother.
I love you, but you have to eat your breakfast.
I love you, but you can’t wear your too-big, plastic, high-heeled princess shoes to school.
See what I mean? I don’t know if I do it because my parents did it, or if I made it up all on my own. But when she starts the tears, or stomps her feet and slams doors in frustration (definitely my daughter – sorry to pass that on) I want to head her off by declaring my love for her, reminding that I have her best interest in mind, and that I’m not telling her to do something she doesn’t want to do just for kicks. But I’m using my love for her like a disclaimer. I’m saying it just before I deliver the final blow of bad news: I love you, but we aren’t watching any more Bubble Guppies today.
My love for my kids shouldn’t be a disclaimer, or even a reason that I can tell them what to do. My love should be the viewpoint from which I act, speak, and parent in general. My love should be what chooses my words and lifts my hands. My love is the reasoning behind wanting to help my kids be healthy, responsible, kind, and happy – not the thing I say before I force them into those things. So I’m going to challenge myself: I won’t follow my “I love yous” with a “but”. I won’t discount my love by saying it with an ulterior motive. I love my kids. I love them regardless of any and every situation they could possibly be in, which is why I will choose to parent without excuses, even if the excuse was “I love you”. There is no “I love you, but…” There is only an internal “I love you, so…” I will help you make the best choices now, so that when you’re older, you’ll make the best choices on your own.
Friends, I have a December birthday. It’s December 13th. And every year, my mom would do pretty much whatever I wanted to make my birthday special, and make sure it didn’t get lost in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle. (Thanks, Mom!) That included many things, but most importantly always, always making sure to wrap my birthday presents in birthday wrapping paper. My number one, biggest ever pet peeve? Getting a present on my birthday that’s wrapped in Christmas paper or in a Christmas bag. You know what the grocery stores and drug stores all sell year-round? Regular, plain ol’ paper and bags. Even if it’s a solid color! Just not a teddy bear in a Santa hat holding tinsel. Come on, guys.
Anyway, because I’ve got a mom who made my birthday special, and because I managed to have a son sandwiched in between Christmas and New Year’s, I figured writing a post about making your December-birthday kid feel special was appropriate. (Note: This can also be applied to a birthday on any holiday – Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, etc.)
I think one great thing I always got to do was choose whether or not I wanted the Christmas decorations to be up yet. I went back and forth pretty much every year about whether I wanted them up. Sometimes, it felt too rushed to have them up already – I mean, the first two weeks of December were about my birthday, right? But other times, it made the occasion even more festive to have everything decorated and lit up! Most important part: the choice being mine.
Another really wonderful thing my mom did was let me have a party. It must’ve taken some planning, too, to get the decorations and favors and treats that weren’t Christmas-themed. Usually, all I wanted was a ridiculous number of my friends over to spend the night (aka not sleep) but she still let me do it, even though we were always horribly busy (read: we were musicians), already exhausted, and there were already a thousand other parties happening that month. She was a champ, let me tell you, with my room right over hers, full of dancing, singing, giggling girls, playing weird games and calling boys on the phone all through the night, and still making us all pancakes in the morning.
I’m sure lots of things she did were just regular moms-doing-nice-things-on-birthdays stuff. But it really made me feel special in the midst of a season that is (thankfully!) not about me. The season of advent can be celebratory, but it can also be contemplative and somber. Not losing sight of the birthday celebration in the midst of that will make a December birthday feel special.
So bottom line, thanks Mom, for not wrapping my birthday presents in Christmas paper. Not one time. You’re the best!