Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Year Three!

Year three has come and gone in a flash.  I feel like we just got married last week!  

I've read that years 3, 5, and 7 are generally the hardest years in marriage.  I would assume it’s because year three is when you’ve really fallen into your role as parents and are struggling to get used to sharing your time and attention normally devoted to a spouse and now split between a spouse and a child.  But I have to say for us, this year was one of my favorites (although I say that about every year).  

This year Shane was in school full time, took a pastoring job bi-vocationally, continued to work his full time job, and managed to be a rockstar dad and husband.  This year was filled with struggles around time management but also filled with God showing up and showing out in incredible ways. 

Year three was laughing at our baby when she learned to make cat sounds.  It was was trying to squeeze date nights in an overly crowded schedule.  It was taking a pay cut and watching God match every dollar through our new church.  It was learning how to parent, how to pastor, and how to love when you just plain don’t feel like it.  Year three was so much laughter and so much joy.  It was happy, but it was more than happy.  It was Dollywood trips, buying a new to us camper, and mastering the art of grilling steak and lobster.  And still it was redoing the budget again to be smarter with our money, rainy days on all of our camping trips, and broken trucks and campers.  It was a year of growing deeper in our love and learning to love through the really hard days and the really good days.  

Year three is the year we learned our own rhythm as a family.  We learned how to read when the other one just needs a break or an apology.  We learned how to fight fair (although sometimes we still mess up on this one).  We learned when to speak up and when to hush up.  We learned that we will never fully learn how to parent this crazy child the Lord gave us.  But, we learned who was stronger in what areas as a parent (surprising to most, Shane is the better one at discipline!).  We learned to never say “I will never let my child…” as we let our screaming one year old eat fruit loops off the floor while watching the same movie for the 4th time in one day, while snuggling with a mop. 

This year I fell more in love with my smoking hot husband.  But, I also learned to love my selfless husband even deeper.  He is the hardest working person I know and he spoils me rotten!  He devotes 100% of himself to loving me, loving Hannah Kate, loving the guys he works with, loving his church, but most of all, loving Jesus.  He is the real deal, y’all.  We don’t go anywhere without him telling someone about Jesus and how HE changed his life.  And Jesus did change his life.  And I get to see it firsthand. What a blessed woman I am!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Things I never understood until her.

People tell you, they try to prepare you, but there is no preparation.  Poems, stories, and songs are written to express just how deep a mother’s love is and it is described as a force beyond explanation.  And, they try to tell you.  But, I never understood how much my mother loved me until I met her; my fiery, red-headed, sassy, piggy tailed girl.  When she showed up, it all made sense.

Ten things I never understood about my mama until I became her mama… 

      1.    The worry never ends.

My mom used to drive me crazy worrying about me.  I had to call when I got somewhere and when I left.  She called all my friends’ parents before I could spend the night.  She was constantly checking in on me.  I swore I would never be a worrying parent, but don’t even fight it.  I started worrying about my babies (two to start with) from the moment I saw that second pink line.  My body and my heart started carrying the weight of someone else’s life and I had no control over what happened to their little lives.  After losing one of my twins, the worry only intensified.  There is no limit to what I worry about with my child.  Is her runny nose just allergies or is she sick?  Did I break her spirit by scolding her one too many times today?  Did she get enough hugs, love, and attention today?  What about learning time; did we balance it well with television?  Forget mom shaming, I worry enough on my own!
      2.       Somehow, you naturally become last.  And it’s a beautiful place to be.

I worried about this one.  I was spoiled as a child and married a man who spoiled me just as much.  How was I going to be sacrificial for a child?  Yet, somehow it only made sense.  She needed me more than I needed anything else.  So, she got attention at 11:30 pm (then 3 am, then 6 am… you know how it goes mama).  My mom always got her plate last at dinner and I never understood it until now.  She wanted to make sure we got all that we wanted. There is nothing in the world I want more than to see her and my husband happy!
      3.       You are going to be so tired.

If you’re getting ready to have your first baby you have heard it a million times I’m sure.  But, really, you are going to be SO tired!  Just prepare yourself to never sleep again and you might be semi-ready for the reality of children.  My baby sleeps through the night and has for a while, but I still don’t.  I wake up when she coughs, when she moves too much, or when I just get worried and need to check on her (see number 1).  If she stays away from home, I wake up worrying something might be wrong and I’m not there.  I remember my mom being up at 5 am every morning and always being the last one to bed.  I get it mama.   

Take more pictures and videos. 

Time goes by so fast.  Seriously, the first three months feel like a fog but you’ll blink and the fog will be over and your baby will be crawling and then walking and then tomorrow she will be in school.  So take lots of pictures and seriously take the videos.  Your favorite things now will change in an hour so lock them away in a memory you can’t forget.

      5.       But, put your phone down.

I know, I know, how can you take more pictures and videos without your phone.  But, your baby needs you.  And he or she needs you to see them without worrying about checking social media or facebook.

      6.       It’s okay to fill their pencil boxes.

My dad always makes fun of my mom because my sister and I are grown and she still buys us things that she thinks we need.  She cannot stop taking care of us even though we each have families of our own.  He tells her she doesn’t have to fill our pencil box up for school anymore, but she does anyway!  I totally get it now, mom.  I feel a natural need to take care of my baby and I don’t see how that could ever go away. 

      7.       You’re gonna miss them when they’re gone. 

My parents were the cheesy parents that made us do family game nights when we were in high school.  We were not allowed to eat dinner in any room except the dining room, around the table, together; which is also where we ate breakfast, every morning. It used to drive me crazy that my mom and dad wanted to spend so much time together.  But now I get it.  It’s going by so fast and I just want to spend as much time as possible with my family before these 18 years fly by.
      8.       There is so much to do. 

Seriously though, the work never ends.  Thank you mama for carrying such a load with little to no recognition.  You don’t realize how much work a mama does until you are one.  

      9.       Being a mama changes you.

I was a carefree, independent, fun loving, goofy girl.  I fell crazy in love with a man who made me a wife and helped me see how much more I could be.  Then, he made me a mama.  The carefree part of me is gone because now I care an awful lot about an awful lot of people, particularly my girl.  Being a mama changed who I am and made me so much more. 

      10.   There is nothing that could break a mother’s love.

Growing up, my mom and I had some fights, I mean good ones.  The only person I fought with more than my mama was my big sister (and that’s saying a lot).  But through it all, my mama never once quit loving me, in fact it always seemed like she loved me more every day, way more than I deserved.  Now that I’m a mama I see it.  There is nothing under the sun my baby could do to stop me from loving her and being her mama. 

So, to my mama and all the mother’s out there, thank you.  Thank you for giving of yourself and expecting nothing in return.  I get it now.  I understand how powerful this love is.  And to my baby girl thank you for making me a mama; I look forward to the day when you understand what this love means. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Be still, Baby!

Be still, baby!

If I could only count the number of times a day I say this.  I cannot for the life of me understand why my 7 month old baby thinks diaper change time is a great opportunity to practice rolling and crawling.  Or why when she’s been up way past her bedtime she feels it’s a perfect opportunity to pop straight up and squirm her way to the ground to make sure her toys are still okay.  Getting her in her car seat is like trying to put a rabid raccoon in a 5 point harness.  But, all of these things must happen.  Why? Because she needs clean diapers, sleep, and to be safe in the car.  I know this, but she doesn’t. It would be so much easier if she would just be still for 30 seconds.

I was rocking her to sleep last night doing our normal routine of rock for a minute, squirm and wiggle for a minute, rock for a minute, squirm for a minute.  And I thought “oh if you would just sit still for a little bit longer you would realize how much you need to go to sleep.”

It was in that instant that God whispered to me, “Be still, baby.”  See, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).  I spend my days as a wife that is stretched pretty thin caring for a busy husband, a full time job (in social work no less), and a baby that demands a majority of my attention.  At any given moment I feel like I’m failing at a majority of what I should be doing.  And God gently whispers, “Be still and think on who I am.”

Oh if I could get that!  Does my baby feel neglected because I went to work today over staying home with her? “Be still and trust that I love her more than you do.”  Did I spend enough time in quality conversation with my husband or did he get my leftovers?  “Be still and remember I made you two into one no matter how much you talk.”  Did I mark off enough on my to-do list at work or will they think I’m a distracted new mama?  “Be still and know that I ordained you to be everywhere you are.”

Just be still.  He is the absolute best parent there is.  So, if he says “be still” it’s worth remembering and following.  Being still means letting Him handle the things we can’t see or understand and even the things we think we do.  It means trusting that if we could give him just a second of time where we trust Him over ourselves He would take care of it.  Just like there are times I need Hannah Kate to be still and let me do my job as her parent, God needs me to be still and let Him do His job as God, He is much better at it than I am!

Christmas Date Night


Shane and I have a tradition (If three years can count as a tradition) of a Christmas date night.  Holidays are so much fun.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we get to see pretty much all of our family on both sides and have lots of time to catch up with everyone else.  The first year we were married Shane surprised me and took me to Atlanta to ride the huge Ferris wheel and walk around in Centennial Park looking at Christmas lights.  It was so nice to stop all of the hustle and bustle and just spend time with each other.  During December we don’t have much time for date night, so now, we set aside one night just for us to do something out of the ordinary.

I joked the first year that date nights like ferris wheels and Christmas light parks were the stuff girls always dream of.  And, I meant it.  Shane does a great job of picking out great date nights all year long but our Christmas dates are always my favorite.  The second year I was SUPER pregnant and walking around was not an option.  So, we went to Medieval times and had so much fun laughing and EATING (you did hear I was 8 months pregnant right?)

This year was no different. Shane called me Thursday and said he had my sister lined up to babysit and we were going on our Christmas date.  We went to Cirque Italia in Gainesville, Ga and had a blast.  It was a really neat combination of all the interesting things you see at the normal Circus plus some other things I had never seen before.  We laughed and stared in awe through most of the night.  I mean really, how do people do those things???   

As our #goodwilldatenight continues to go viral, I want to pass this #Christmasdatenight along too.  Don’t forget in the midst of making sure you see every member of your family to stop for a night and spend time with your person.  I love spending time with our family and we always have a good time wherever we are.  But, my favorite night of the year is our Christmas date night.  I know every year it will be something special and we will have a blast simply being together.

And, P.S. all of our Christmas date nights have been tickets we found on Groupon for over half off!  (This is not an ad, no one is paying me to say that!) But, we have found that if we want to go somewhere Groupon not only has good deals but good ideas!!!

So Merry Christmas from us to you.  We hope your Christmas is filled with family time, good food, and lots of time celebrating the birth of Christ.  But, may it also have one night of making memories with your person.