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Midwest Mom

24, first time mom in Columbus, Ohio.

There is a cloud.

Ah! Hello again blog. Here I am! Over here on my couch with my Mickey blanket, ready to tackle this blogpost. I haven’t been around very much lately because, to be quite honest, school is kicking my butt. I have now moved forward to only having to complete major specific courses and finding time to read 100 pages of content a week is very difficult for me. It is not a surprise to anyone who knows me that time management is not a strength of mine. I have a very large tendency to get way off track, finding myself in the catacombs of Facebook or Instagram. So, with all of that said, I am so glad to have some time to share what has been happening in our lives the past few months.

Almost a month ago already, we celebrated Judah’s first birthday. I wanted to compile all of my feelings about that specific event into one blog post, but the only word I could come up with to describe it is, whoa. WHOA. WhOa. My kid is one year old! I couldn’t believe that 365 days had passed since I first met him, since he was laid on my chest for the very first time. His birthday party was an enormous success and I told Aaron next year, we have to scale it back. No more huge birthday parties until 5 years old (kind of, not sure if I’m maybe totally kidding)? It was exhausting putting the party together, and sending out invites, buying all the decorations and making sure no one starved while enjoying the presence of my child, who sat in his highchair and threw his cup on the ground repeatedly.

Judah got so many toys and clothes for his birthday, I also say, no more toys…for 5 years. Whenever big events like birthday parties happen, it reminds me of how many family members and friends we have surrounding us and loving Judah. It was really eye opening for me to watch all of these people who had influence on Judah’s life in his first year, be there to celebrate him! I also realized that I had no anxiety during the party. There were many things I was having to work through in the weeks leading up to his party and when the day came I was able to say, “come what may” and let the day go as it was going to go.

Aside from a really amazing birthday party, we took our first family vacation and jetted off to Walt Disney World. For those who know Aaron and I personally, you know that we can never get enough of Disney. We had the most fun with Judah. It was definitely the most relaxed and fun time I have had at Disney in a long time. Judah did so wonderful with all of the characters and the traveling. We are headed back in November for a huge family vacation and I can’t wait to see what he is like then!

So aside from all of that, there are more me things happening too. I wrote a post awhile back about my postpartum depression and my anxiety. Through therapy in the past few months, I have been able to work through several revelations about who I am and why I have certain tendencies. It has been completely liberating for me, but at the same time it is emotionally exhausting. Since Judah was born, the depression and the dark cloud has covered me.

I have never experienced such darkness in my entire life. The feeling of being so unnecessary and inadequate pierced through my heart every day. The beauty in this though, is that I no longer live there every day. After my first two weeks seeing my counselor, I could feel myself pushing through the cloud. Having a name (general anxiety and postpartum depression) for what I’ve felt for as long as I could remember, finally made me feel some semblance of normal.  I have real tools and coping mechanisms to work with when I begin to feel very overwhelmed. It has helped reduce my stress from day to day, and I’ve seen my every day life have more smiles and less tears.

This brings me to the title of this post! Yesterday I came across the new Elevation Worship album and I am typically really hesitant to listen to new worship music because I never know what sort of theology is wrapped up in the lyrics. On this album though, there is one song that when I heard the opening lyrics, I immediately felt the Holy Spirit and broke down in tears while driving down the highway. The lines go like this:

“Hear the Word, roaring as thunder, With a new future to tell. For the dry season is over. There is a cloud, beginning to swell.

To the skies, heavy with blessing. Lift your eyes, offer your heart. Jesus Christ, opened the heavens. Now we receive, the Spirit of God.”

The words that struck me so suddenly were, “for the dry, season is over. There is a cloud, beginning to swell.” This depicts my life for the past year. It has felt like I have been in the desert, alone, thirsty, scared, and hungry. I imagine nomads who walk across the desert, waiting and searching for their next drink of water. I have been waiting for the rain, for a break from the thirst, and I am finally feeling it. I finally feel quenched from the desperate feelings of inadequacy and unimportance. I am not saying that just one day those who suffer from mental illness can get up and be healed, I can say that is is a battle that is waged every morning when I wake up and feeling victory over that battle is liberating. Feeling rain pour over me and God’s presence pour over me is the greatest gift I could receive, at this time in my life and any other.
There was a moment several months ago where it came to a breaking point in my marriage, I was not able to pick myself up and ask for help. At this time though, I knew that if I wanted to keep all I held dear, I was going to have to muster up the strength to reach out for it. No one else could do this for me. I went and referenced one of my favorite and very relevant Bible verses,
Ephesians 6:10-17:
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to al of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

 

In the midst of my depression and anxiety, I had forgotten what God says about me. This verse in Ephesians comes at a time when the church at Ephesus was struggling, and Paul writes them this letter to encourage them to live in the Spirit in all aspects of their lives. How easy is it for me to forget this? I have felt that the battle that goes on in my mind every day is impossible to win, and there are days that this is true. There are days though when the relief of the rain on my desert pushes me through to joy. I find myself in prayer more now than at any other time in my life, I have found myself taking tangible steps towards the career I want, and learning many new things about myself and those closest to me.

I hope that if you are struggling with mental illness that you know that it does not always have to be dark, that the help you need is not too far. Whether that help be medicinal or not, all of us need shoulders to lean on and if therapy helps you have at least one shoulder, you should do it. I firmly believe that my ability to function every day is a gift from God. I also firmly believe that God has given us such amazing tools like medicine and doctors to help us in this life, we can’t do it all on our own (this is something I’ve learned the hard way).

Here is the link to the songs official lyric video on YouTube!

 

I know that this post is much longer than normal and if you have read this far, thank you for following my journey through motherhood.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

With Jesus’ love always,

Amanda

Bags.

When I first watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe I noticed the suitcases everyone was carrying in the train station. I wondered how in the world they fit their entire lives into those small suitcases. They had to carry these bags to the train station, to their seat, to the car after they got off the train, and then to their new home. While carrying those bags to the train station was temporary, the bags we all carry around each day are not.

Our bags may be invisible, the weight of a divorce, a difficult child, or decisions that we made that have hurt us or someone around us. The bags of trauma we carry from an abusive childhood, or an abusive relationship. These bags are heavier than the 50 pound limit at the airport aren’t they? Our bags may be visible, such as hair loss from chemo treatment, or bruises from a fight we got into with our spouse last night. All of us, one or the other carry our own bags.

We often hear the term baggage used to describe people’s crap they leave lingering in their lives, they react based on this baggage, or they shut down based on their baggage. Yet somehow, bags are different for me. I imagine myself, walking around with a backpack on. My backpack includes hurt from my parents divorce, the painful loss of loved ones, postpartum depression, and hurting my spouse with my words and actions. I could go on continuing to list the crap in my bag, but I will spare you.

While I wholeheartedly believe that these bags we carry around with us every day are direct result of our sinful world and our sinful nature, I also believe that we don’t have to live carrying those bags. For me, in high school I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship. While I couldn’t see at the time the toll it took on me, it ended up directly affecting all of my future relationships. As a kid, I was often intentionally left out of people’s plans and what felt like, always forgotten.

These bags have for the most part, shaped who I am today. But, I do not let them define me. That was never God’s plan. We walk around saying, “I’m a waste, he said I was a waste.” While that human may have said you were a waste, I promise you, God never for one day of your life has felt that you were a waste. The weight of our suitcases that we drag behind us can be excruciating. We let them grow around our ankles like a gigantic ball and chain, pulling us down with every step we take.

When we step into a conflict with someone, we strap on our backpack to react, speak, and fight according to what is in our bag. We decide that these things, our experiences and perspectives are the only important things. While everyone else around us has different experiences and perspectives. Carrying our bags alone can often feel very hopeless. I remember telling my younger self, “you have to figure this out on your own, you’ve got to strap on your boots and get it done Amanda.” Wow am I glad that, that is not the truth because fighting my battles alone, I’ve always lost.

About two years ago now I wrote about my struggles in my marriage, my temptations to step over where the “grass is greener” and how it impacted my relationship with my husband. To be completely honest, that is still a struggle. After having Judah, I slipped away from myself and didn’t recognize the woman I had become. It became easy to feel like no one cared about me, to cry about no one wanting to see me or hang out with me. It was easy to look at Aaron and say, “he doesn’t do enough around the house, I do everything.” I cried in the shower, in my bedroom, in the car, on my way to work, in the bathroom at work, anywhere where no one would see me. I packed this in my bag and took it with me wherever I went.

Now Judah is almost a year old (what?!?!?) and I’ve finally reached out to speak to a counselor, and I’ve finally began to face head on the way I’ve felt the last 11 months.

What is really most important to me when writing this blog is that others may come to understand that they are not alone. A huge part of my postpartum journey has been to let people back into my life, to share with them, to let them wash my dishes, or let them babysit Judah. I’ve learned the hard way that self care is not selfish. We run ourselves ragged trying to put on a show and take care of everyone else, and we ignore our own needs.

Moms of young children have an especially hard time realizing this. I work part time, go to school online, and still want to spend valuable time with my family. I rarely sleep the “appropriate” amount of hours a night, as at night all is silent, and no one needs me. If you are a mom of a young child and you have the resources, I would encourage you to spend some time each week, focusing on yourself. What small things used to bring you so much joy? Watching your favorite tv show? Or reading a blog online? Or baking cookies? We need to help each other unload our bags. We can’t continue to walk through the world carrying these on our backs anymore.

Our Easter campaign at church for 2017, is called Fully Alive. We want to feel fully alive in all aspects of our lives, this week we spoke about being physically alive. We learned about how much stress takes a literal physical toll on our body and can change the rate we are aging. While some aspects of being physically alive (eating better, drinking less soda, or exercising more) aren’t exactly appealing to me, I know the stress I have felt over the last year, a lot being self inflicted, has taken a toll on my body.

So I want to ask anyone who is reading this if you’ll unpack your bags with me? Whatever stress you’ve packed up, whatever hurt you have kept tucked away, will you start to work through letting that go? Trust me, I know it isn’t easy. I’m in the middle of it right now, and it is not very pleasant. But, I do know what it feels like to finally be free of the baggage, and to feel like a new person. I’ll pray for you today as maybe you are struggling with the weight of your bag, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are so loved, and so beautiful.

Always,

Amanda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance.

When you search balance on dictionary.com, there are several different definitions that come up. My favorite of the several that came up is, balance: “mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior,judgment, etc.” I like this the best because it mentions mental and emotional stability and behavior. I can balance on one leg, but can I balance my every day life? That’s what I’m attempting to be better at in 2017.

You see, I’ve never been very good at New Year Resolutions. Every year I would sit down and tell myself, “this is the year to get back in shape!” or “this year I will go to the gym 5 times a week and eat kale salad.” WHO WAS I KIDDING?! So last year, my friends proposed that we choose words to help define our year and I thought, “now this is something I can get behind! I don’t have to promise myself weight loss, or better eating, or more time outside! I can pick a word and let everything flow from that.” In 2016, I chose the word perspective. I told all of my friends and family that this was my word. Let me tell you, I used that word to help in many difficult situations all throughout 2016. So clearly, when 2017 came barreling in, I decided that I needed a new word to help me keep perspective (ha!) in the new year.

It seemed as though the word balance would be the most appropriate. With a small child (almost 9 months now, WHAT), a part time job, full time school, a husband, friends, and family to all care for and see, balance is necessary. I practically fail at this every day though.

I decided that instead of going on some crash diet, I would learn to balance my meals to make them healthier, not deprive myself of things I want, but still have more self control. Well, today I ate Taco Bell… so remind me of how well this is going? The thing is, my once a week Taco Bell or brownie, used to be an every day thing. I was feeling so tired and sluggish. Even the small changes of drinking more water and making our meals at home has helped me tremendously, so again balance. 

I am also learning to balance my life as a mother. This is a whole new beast that I have to take one day at a time. I knew that it would be harder to take time for myself as a mom, there isn’t a short list to those who remind you of this while you’re pregnant. Yet, when I had Judah, I didn’t recognize my post partum depression, or post partum anxiety. I’ve written about this before here. It has been very difficult for me to see outside of taking care of him, while most recently it has gotten significantly better, every day is a new mountain to climb.

I have recognized that while I strive for balance in motherhood, I continuously fall short every day. Some days I am all in. I can be attentive and engaged all day long while ignoring how the lack of sleep monster is looming over my head. Other days, I am checking my phone every 2 minutes to see if the outside world still exists. I find that when I have balance as mom, the rest of my life falls into place pretty easily. When I ask for help, for prayer, for a friend to come over, or go out to dinner, I feel lighter. When I don’t carry my burdens alone, the balance becomes less difficult.

So friends, fellow moms, or anyone who needs a little more balance in their life, I got you. I’ll be here all year hanging out with balance, eating dinner with balance, playing with Judah with balance, eating brownies with balance, saying no with balance, going on dates with husband with balance, and *fingers crossed* sleeping better with balance.
What is your word for 2017? Please share, I’d love to hear!

The Dark Place.

When I was still pregnant with Judah, I remember vividly a conversation I had with friends. I had been reading articles online about Post Partum Depression, I was concerned that I hadn’t been reading any articles about a mom who had a happy experience after having their first baby. I basically said, “that’ll never be me, why can’t a woman have a happy experience? Can we talk about that?” and I laughed it off.

Little did I know, 8 months after that conversation,  I would be the mom in those articles. I would be the mom who was feeling lost within this new life. When Judah was first born, I was warned that when my hormones crashed, it would be a lot of crying. What I didn’t realize was that the crying wouldn’t stop. I didn’t realize that I could have the desire to run away from my family because I truly believed that they would be better off without me. I’ve started to understand why women may leave their crying baby in the crib and walk out of the house.

No one can really warn you about the overwhelming feelings of doubt you feel as a new mom. We are bombarded with messages about how to raise our children, how to recover, how to handle family, how to handle friends, how to be a good wife while an infant in hanging off your breast for 12 hours a day, how to gracefully take advice from others, and the list could go on and on. We’re supposed to do this while everyone is wanting to hold our baby and congratulating us. Also, while we haven’t showered in days and our boobs are leaking all over our shirts.

I always prided myself on being a free thinking person. I told myself that I wouldn’t succumb to worrying about how others perceived me as a mom, that I would stand tall in my independence, throwing caution to the wind and the internet shamers. Yet, any time I posted a picture of Judah I would become anxious about what others thought about it. When I stopped breastfeeding/pumping at 3.5 months, I stopped talking about it because I was so ashamed that I didn’t make it any longer. I collapsed under the pressure I’ve put on myself. I want everyone else to think that I have it all together so that I would feel good about how I’ve approached motherhood so far.

The dark place for me is the anxiety I feel about being around others, afraid that they are judging every move I make with Judah. I have isolated myself time and time again emotionally from my husband, my friends, and my family. I oftentimes go home from conversations or events with friends and replay in my head what I said and how they are probably replaying what I said judging me and not wanting to be my friend anymore.

I look at the responsibility of raising Judah, and it can overtake and consume all my thoughts. The immense responsibility to help shape this little persons life is a little more than intimidating. I’ve thought to myself, “is this all I am now? I’m Judah’s mom? I’m still Amanda, I still have hopes and dreams laid on my heart.” then immediately feel guilty because the world around us would have you believe that if you don’t focus on your child every moment of every day then you’re an awful parent. We as moms offer ourselves up as sacrifices to our children. While we love them, we let the duties of motherhood consume our very identity.

Now, I do believe that becoming a mother changes you. You look at the world a lot differently, a little more cautiously for me at least, but we let our very being be permeated with motherhood. I feel guilty because I work, I see other moms stay home and I am jealous, I figure that they must look at me and judge my decisions to be a working parent. I let that aspect of my life be dominated by thoughts of never being good enough. The dark place comes and goes. Some days I am fully engaged with all that is happening around me, and other days I am absent and focused inward.

I hope that any other moms who find themselves in this dark place, whether that be anxiety, depression, thoughts of uselessness and worry, will be able to read this and know that you are not alone. Judah just turned 7 months old, I am still trying to dig out what I look like now, how I approach my husband, my friends, and my family. I don’t have all or many of the answers, but I do know that speaking to other moms has helped the darkness become a little more light. I wanted to be a little more articulate in this post, but I’m not ready to share with the world every single thing I’ve dealt with in the last several months.

Please feel free to ask my any questions, reach out to me if you need someone to talk to because I am always open for a new friend and to help a fellow mom no matter where you are on your journey.

-Amanda.

 

 

You’ve Let Me Down.

I want to first say before starting this blog post that it does not exactly pertain to parenting, but something else that recently happened in our lives. I feel it is important to share the highs and lows, no matter what the circumstances surrounding those are.

The past few weeks something happened to our family. I am not in the position to share exactly what that was, but it was significant. It changed the trajectory of our future significantly. It had seemed as we were rounding out the weekend and headed into a new week that Aaron and I couldn’t catch a break.

During the three and a half years we have been married we have seen many job changes, these job changes tend to come at times where the job is needed most. It has seemed that in the past we were being pushed and shoved all around until we could finally find a place we were comfortable. Well, recently we’ve been pretty comfortable. In December when we moved back from Florida, we stayed with family then found a house in the exact neighborhood we wanted, Aaron found a great job and they welcomed us like family.

The problem with comfort is that it eventually lets us down. This is because people let us down. We may hold our bosses, spouses, friends, and family to a high standard, but they will always let us down. I don’t say this to sound grim, I say this because it is reality. There have been many people in my life that I’ve let down because of decisions I’ve made. We can’t discount that humans are imperfect, yet when someone we were counting on, people we let ourselves get close to and spend a lot of time with let us down, it hurts.

I will not say to anyone that their feelings of disappointment and hurt are invalid. I know that even though I can see past what has happened this week, I can still be hurt by others actions. It can take time heal deep wounds, we can think we’ve moved on when in all honesty, we’re still bitter. It is important to remember that we people tend to lean on only thinking about ourselves. We think about what is going to be best for us and how we can get there. When this goes unchecked it can mean that we push and shove others out of our way to get what is best for us. Those who get pushed and shoved out of the way are most likely left feeling unimportant and undervalued. When we set our hearts and minds on our expectations of people, or of our circumstances we will continuously find ourselves empty and disappointed.

While I’d like to say to the people who hurt my family that they’ve let me down, my husband, and my son down, I turn to the One who has never once let me down. Out of pain, anger, and bitterness, He has shaped me, molded me, and delicately formed me into the woman I am today.  This is what Paul says to the Corinthians of the first century:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18*

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in this particular instance to encourage them to stop bickering amongst themselves. The church in Corinthians was a mess, the people were treating each other terribly and blatantly disregarding the teachings of Jesus. Paul encourages them throughout the book to forgive each other, he explains to them that all of the things we possess on the earth are not of ourselves, but of God.

I find that the entire book of 2nd Corinthians relevant to my life today. I’ve watched people in and out of the church tear each other apart, we see this in the United States clearly through this Presidential election. We are constantly divided.

Yet, there is something worse when it is aimed directly at your character. When someone betrays you, someone does not see how much their actions hurt you, it is disconcerting. The things that have happened to us recently, they’ve made me reevaluate what is important to me. My husband, our family we have together, the house we live in, and the money we make all belongs to God. As Paul points out, the things of this Earth will pass away and the things we have yet to see will continue forever.

I pray that even when those around us let us down, we can recognize the God who will never fail to let us fall into His arms. Our present troubles are not so great when we stare into the face of eternity. The words said about us out of anger or retaliation are not of God, and do not define us. I pray that every day I can take time to thank God for all He has given to me even when people fail.

Four Months In.

Currently I have three blog posts sitting in my drafts. I have tried to come up with something to write about in my sleep deprived state for several weeks. I realized yesterday actually that Judah was almost FIVE months old. Its like time is slipping away from me, its slipping right through my fingertips. Four months into this whole parenting thing, I never realized how much of myself I could give. I didn’t realize how my love for Judah and Aaron could grow every single day. So, with that I simply want to write about what it has been like these first four months and how it has changed not just me, but my entire family having Judah in our lives.

The Days are Long

I never truly understood the saying, “the days are long but the years are short.” until Judah was born. It seems like yesterday my water broke suddenly at home and we were headed to the hospital. Now, I have a baby who grabs my hair, squeals, laughs, and is practically sitting on his own. What I also have is a baby who is teething, who is going through a regression trying to get over this developmental leap, a baby who is eating more than I can keep up with and is clingy. The days sometimes are very long. There are many days I feel like all I do is bounce, lay him down, go to the bathroom, and by that time he has woken up again. Yet, when I see him smiling at me, and more recently reaching for me I know that it is all worth it.

Each and every day is a day that I can learn more about myself and about Judah. It is absolutely amazing to see how babies have their own tiny personality. I can already see the type of person he will be. Luckily for me, its not high strung like someone I know… cough cough (me) but gentle, laid back, and silly like his daddy. Somehow every day, I see this tiny smile and it makes me stronger. I often recall that this time 365 days ago I was in a dark place. I was so sick, I would cry all day telling Aaron that I would never make it through and I was terrified to become a mom. Here I am 365 days later, looking down at Judah as he plays with his toys, we make eye contact and he smiles at me. In this moment I know that the days are long, but I will look back years from now with fondness remembering the smiles and the giggles.

Mom Powers

Most of us throughout our lives have seen a strong mom or motherly figure. Whether that be in our own life, friends lives, maybe even at school, work, or church. These moms hold it down. They seem to have superpowers. They run on coffee and prayers. I never ever imagined myself as one of these moms. I barely imagined myself as just a mom. I find myself pushing a little extra, putting a little more effort in at the end of the day when I feel like I have nothing more to give. When I hear Judah crying in his crib at 3am, I don’t huff and puff my way there, I quickly go to his side and comfort him. I truly believe when babies are born, mom’s super powers are born also. Women are known to be master multitaskers, there have been multiple studies done that a woman’s brain can think and accomplish more things at one time then men can. *Go us!*

That is why we can work full time, come home take care of our babes, go to school, write blogs, make dinner, run a business, and balance a book on our head at the same time! I’ve found these multi tasking powers over the last four months, but that still doesn’t mean that I don’t get exhausted. There are some days where I’d like to go back to being 9 months pregnant for a few hours so I can take a nap. Judah has taught me so much about myself, I thought I knew myself pretty well, I thought I knew my limits. I don’t think I am the only mom who has felt this way either.

The first four month has also taught me that a tiny baby can have more body fluids than you’ve ever seen. Judah has spit up, pooped, and slobbered on more things and people then I’d like to admit. He is a relatively calm kid, yet he screams so high pitched when he is excited I have oftentimes felt like my ear drums are going to burst. I have realized that I’m comfortable enough to not wear makeup to work because the extra 5 minutes of putting it on means 5 less minutes I could be sleeping, and most days the thing I vaguely remember as sleep is hard to come by. I am in the process of learning to let go, to let the dishes go one more day, to let the chores, or the laundry sit for a few more hours so I can snuggle with Judah. These first four months are shaping who I am going to be as a mom.

A Lifetime to Go

In conclusion to my ramblings, the first four months of parenthood has been eye opening and exhausting. It has taught me more about myself then I could have ever imagined. Every day I wake up to snuggle with my boy, and I kiss his forehead. I am intentional about how I spend my time with him because I know he’s going to be running around with me chasing right behind him before I know it. I oftentimes hold back tears when I swaddle him up and rock him to sleep, I find myself choked up because of his innocence and how I never want him to lose that.

I wouldn’t say becoming a mom has made me complete, I firmly believe that I am complete in who I am as Amanda and who God defines that I am, but Judah has made our family complete. Aaron and I have grown to love each other more deeply while loving our son. It has caused us to reevaluate everything that is important to us, so we can make the best life for him. I know that I only have a short time to raise my boy to have a true impact on the world, but I pray every single day that his life will be filled with purpose, he will feel loved and understood at every turn, even when it is difficult.

I know he has helped me understand who I am and what I am meant to do in this life. I’m just glad we have a whole lifetime to go.

 

Sticks and Stones.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Whoever thought up this saying, I’d like to give them a stern talking to (that’s about as intimidating I get honestly). I was thinking about this blog post last night and I began remembering the times that someone had hurt me with their words. I recall, and have told this particular story many times. When I was in the 5th grade, I was awkward. I was a bit chunkier than my peers, and I wore the goofiest looking glasses. I was extremely self conscious and one day at an outdoor recess a girl called me  fat. I don’t specifically recall what lead up to this but I remember what happened afterwards, I threw a water bottle right at her head. I was so tired of people’s harsh words towards me. I simply couldn’t take it anymore.

I still remember this girls name. I remember when people made fun of my weight, my skin tone, my freckles, my hair, my laugh, my smile, and my clothes. Words hurt. I truly believe that words carry enough weight to break people. See, we are a people that thrive on the approval of others. It is extremely important to us, and social media builds upon this, that we show only our good sides. We only post the best pictures, only the happy things and events in our lives, when most of our lives are lived in the every day mundane tasks like working, going to school, cleaning, and sleeping. To clarify, I see nothing wrong with posting these things on social media, because our world needs more positivity, yet out of this we create comparisons.

Words matter.

I think that during this election, we’ve seen that words matter. Sweeping accusations against large groups of people, defining them, and ultimately exiling them is hurtful. Those words matter. Our words and jokes can be helpful or hurtful. I find that the saying, ‘think before you speak’ is more important now than ever. It is not an attempt to be politically correct (or whatever that is) it means, at the end of our words there are people. These are real people who’ve suffered and lived in their own unique ways.

Our words about someone’s weight, their job status, or their living situation matters. If someone does something we find strange or wrong, our words should be coming from a place of love or concern. We should be reaching out attempting to understand those who are different than us, not shunning them.

Our words and thoughts about ourselves matter too. Still at 23, with a family, and a husband who gives me compliments on the regular, I barely can bring myself to look in the mirror. Having a baby changed me. My skin shows stretch marks, and my skin is a little more loose on my belly. My hips are a bit wider, and my hair falls out in large chunks. Yet, when a close friend complimented me, I immediately replied with a sarcastic “thank you.” and kept looking at my reflection criticizing it. Many days when I look in the mirror I see the little girl who was told she was fat and ugly. I see the girl who was 75 pounds lighter and was still so insecure she wouldn’t wear a tank top. You see, I carry the weight of people’s words with me every day. I’ve let those words define me in the past. I pray that as a continue to raise my son, I don’t ever make him feel less than with my words.

How do we do this? How do we make our words help the world to be better?

I pray that for myself personally I can be a direct reflection of the fruits of the spirit.

“But the fruit of spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control; against such thing there is no law.” Galatians 5-22:23.

I also pray that in the every day mundane, I don’t define myself but what others think. That I live the life that God created me to because that is what is the most important. Now, I know that this is extremely difficult. I don’t say this and expect we all go out and heal our wounds that are deep, hurtful wounds immediately. I pray that we go out and don’t project our own insecurities on others. That we don’t throw the sticks and stones.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12.

We can be kinder. We can be more loving. We can think before we speak. We can heal others wounds.

Friends, I know that this is so hard. Gossip is easy. Judging is easy. Loving other is difficult, showing empathy and kindness is hard. Yet, I believe that we are all completely capable of being these kind of people. I pray that we are kinder to ourselves. That we give ourselves a break, that we wear our scars of life proudly and unashamedly.

 

I’m a Mom.

All throughout my life I have had trouble articulating how I feel. In conversations I often stutter, unable to make my mouth catch up with my brain. I always knew what I wanted to say but actually getting the words out was a struggle. This frustration has caused me to oftentimes feel very inadequate and insecure. I found my solace in writing, I was able to feel confident portraying how I felt through stories and journals. I tried to not let this one issue define me, I didn’t want to find my identity in this.

This is how I’ve attempted to approach motherhood. Becoming a mom has made me reevaluate and redefine who I am. As a follower of Jesus, I always find my identity in who He says I am, yet there are so many things that make me who I am. I am a wife, a mom, a sister, and friend. Becoming a mom, from that first time you find out you are pregnant it changes who you are. You begin to prioritize your life differently, you may change your eating habits, stop drinking caffeine, or change your workout routine. Your whole perspective changes. You wait a long 9 months to actually meet the life you have been creating, none of it truly feels real until you meet that screaming baby for the first time.

Before Judah was born, I often said “I don’t want motherhood to completely define who I am.” I still hold to that belief. I don’t want to lose who I am, my dreams and aspirations are still very relevant, though they have taken a back seat to Judah for now. I’ve taken time off of school, trying to reevaluate and dig into what I want to do. I know though that the most important thing I can do for my son is continue to do the things I love as I raise him to be his own person. I want him to see me working hard and for him to be inspired to do the same.

As moms we get enough flack for our every day decisions. These so called “mommy wars” wear me down. The natural guilt that comes with having to make such important decisions for another human is heavy. In the short three months I’ve been doing this, I’ve felt guilty many times. I’ve questioned my decisions, I’ve felt selfish if I left Judah at home so I could do something on my own, we already took a vacation and he stayed home, I had to switch him to bottles because this was working better for our family, and so many other things. I want encourage other moms or moms to be that we be unashamed of what we do to keep our babes happy and healthy. We are moms, but we are still individuals, we have to take care of our families, but we also have to take care of ourselves.

Personally, for me to be the best mom, I have to take a few hours away a week, breathe and then come back to my family feeling refreshed and rested. Moms should not feel guilty about that. Infants are especially demanding, the level of exhaustion is incomprehensible until you are in the thick of it. Yet somehow, parents all over the world make it work. That’s what it is all about in the end anyway. I pray continuously that there can be a change and shift of our culture of shaming, especially on the internet. I pray that instead of feeling like we have to do it all ourselves, that we find our ‘tribe’ and let them help us when we need it. There is no shame in doing what keeps your family healthy and happy.

– Amanda

Side note: I have been attempting to write this post for about a week now. We are transitioning Judah into sleeping in his crib full time and it has been exhausting, it seemed like every time I wanted to sit down and write, something else was demanding my attention. At the start of this new month, I hope to bring change and a different feeling into my life. A feeling of restoration and belief that I can reach the goals I’ve set out for myself in regards to blogging, and my career. Anyway, thank you for reading and please share!

 

 

 

 

Well, this is new.

Welcome to my blog ya’ll. I am Amanda. I am finally seeing the light after having a baby almost eight weeks ago. My life is basically the best song from Tangled, “At last I see the light, it’s like the fog has lifted.” No really, that’s how I feel. Having a newborn feels like you are walking around all day in a constant haze. The days turn into nights, and days go by where you realized you haven’t brushed your teeth, or hair for that matter in days. This tiny human sleeps so much, yet so little. I know for myself personally, breastfeeding was a intense disaster. This just added to the sleep deprivation!

I wanted to start this new blog with just a little bit about myself and my journey into motherhood. I have found a lot of help from the online community of moms, I do not have any friends that have (yet) had babies so I will be sharing my experiences in hopes that it can help another new momma if she is feeling alone.

When I found out I was pregnant, it was very surprising for my husband and I. We had just recently moved from Ohio to Florida, both were working at Walt Disney World, and were loving every second of it. We had plans to stay in Florida for several years up until this point. What we didn’t know was that God had other plans for us. When I became extremely ill, I ended up losing my job. We decided for our family, we should move back home to Ohio. The next 4 months flew by, and before I knew it my precious Judah was born!

My labor and delivery was a dream. For months I was absolutely terrified that I would have a traumatizing delivery. I prayed and had friends pray over me many times because I had so much anxiety about giving birth. When the time came, my water broke (I mean REALLY broke) on my due date and 14 hours later on April 22nd, my sweet Judah was born. As soon as he was placed on my chest, he lifted his head up to look at me, and that is when I knew he had me. He would be mine for the rest of my life. He is the sweetest, most beautiful baby I have ever seen. There are many times I’ll look at him in awe that he is my child.

Becoming a parent is hard. You feel pressure to perform a certain way, your friends great grandma’s aunt twice removed did her swaddling this way and it worked wonders! Well that aunt can take her swaddle down the street and throw it in the trash can. Okay, that’s harsh but really everyone seems to know the best way and it is very difficult to feel like what you’re doing is right. As a mom, there is a ton of pressure to breastfeed, and let me tell you breastfeeding is a whole thing. For some it comes natural, for others it is a continuous fight, and a lot of tears. Babies don’t latch for various reasons and when you’re going on 2 hours of sleep a day, popping a bottle in your babies mouth sounds so much better than listening to them cry because they aren’t getting enough food.

I remember my husband telling me, “you should just pump, at least he’ll have breastmilk.” and I definitely didn’t go down without a fight. I figured that if I didn’t breastfeed, Judah would somehow resent me for it, or I’d get rude comments for giving my baby a bottle, even though it was filled with breastmilk. I was caring about what everyone else thought whether than how I was feeling.

I hope through this blog I can remind fellow moms that our gut instincts are real, we know what is best for our families and for our babes. Although, I struggle with this very thing every day, I hope through my writing and sharing of my journey into motherhood, we can all lean on each other and raise our children to be happy and healthy.

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