Lord, bless this mess . . .

 

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Here’s my view from where I’m writing this. There’s Chex on the coffee table (and floor) that my daughter more played with than ate. Books that she emptied off the bookshelf, dolls she strung out, a shopping cart she tipped over, a dirty high chair, her favorite bunny she must cuddle with, and more.

Typically in these moments, I put my daughter down to bed and then rush to tidy the house from the tidal wave of a two-year-old. I stress. I tell Tucker to help. I scrub. I get frustrated. Or, sometimes it relaxes me to place everything back in its perfect order. Sometimes I even fantasize about the times before children, with the house a beautiful serenity of peace, quiet, cleanliness, breakable decorations, and candles. Once everything is in order, I pause and soak in the serenity. Don’t we all? I mean it only lasts for a few hours…

Tonight though, I decided to stop. Sit. Stare. In the middle of the mess and chaos, tonight I see beauty and blessings. I see home. I see a place where my child plays and feels safe and secure. I see carpet that pads my child’s knees when she crawls on the ground pretending to be a cat. I see food left out, meaning my child was able to eat her fill and we were yet blessed with more. I see toys given by thoughtful relatives. Toys from birthday parties and baby showers – where we celebrated life, another year, and family. I see clothing folded in the chair, not yet put away – clean clothes that I am able to wash when needed in the comfort of my own home.

Instead of rushing to sanitize the chaos of life and place it within order, comfort, and control, tonight I pause. This mess means that I have abundance: of safety, of comfort, of entertainment, of food, of procreation, of family, of home. Being able to even HAVE a messy house, or a house to fuss about in general, means we are beyond rich.

And isn’t this just like LIFE? Right when we believe everything is out of order, we’ve lost control, we can’t find our way, we’re drowning in to-dos and should-dos, and we feel there’s no where to go to find peace, the veil is torn away in the middle of the storm to see its strength, beauty, and life giving water.

Lord, help me to see this mess for what it is instead of seeing it as a chore and a fuss. Help me to be able to sit in the chaos and feel warmth and beauty, giving thanks for my home, family, and life — beautiful messy life.

Lord, bless this mess.

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Body Image: Your body’s sole purpose isn’t to please a gaze

 

 

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My body wasn’t meant to please your gaze. My body’s purpose is not to sell your brand of clothing, makeup, hair color, shoe brand, etc. Its sole purpose is to not be a over-sexualized symbol to turn the heads of men. Its purpose is not to wear a bikini in the summer. It’s not for other women to have an object to compare their body to. Its purpose is not to retain my 16 year old figure.

My body is meant for many things in fact. And a sexualized, ‘perfectly shaped’ being is not the highlight.

My body is for usefulness: it’s to move, to jump, to run, to breathe, to child rear, to breastfeed, to digest, to hear, to see, to feel, to climb, to make, to read, to create, to go, to write, to play music, to contribute, to renew, to grow, to age . . .

My body is made to express: love, art, kindness, compassion, beauty, gentleness, frustration, anger, to serve, to hug, to kiss, to hold, to be held, to assist…

My body is to create: to create peace, to create shelter, to create art, to create music, to create joy, to create new things, to recreate old things, to create a space for community, to create a family, to create beauty…

My body is for my husband: to love, to make love, to serve, to hold, to assist, to laugh, to cry, to grow old with, to behold, to take care of, to admire, to create with…

My body is for my children: that I may bring them into this world with the growth and marks of pregnancy and the pains of labor, that I may pick them up when they are sick and cradle them. That I should chase them when they take off the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. That I should have bags under my eyes because I didn’t sleep because they were awake and lonely. That my hair and nails aren’t done because instead I spent the money to go on a trip with them…

At the end of my life, I want my body to be marked. Marked with smile wrinkles. Marked with scars from adventures. Marked with stretch marks, my tattoos left by my children who forever changed my life. My breasts will hang differently from breastfeeding. My hips will be worn and achey from playing on the ground with children and grandchildren. My skin will be aged from playing in the sun and gardening. My nails will be torn and worn from working hard and serving others. My feet will have callouses from staying active and moving.

And, my life will be full.

Women, allow your body to be marked by life — in the most beautiful of ways. Embrace the shape you are in, the skin you are in, the hair you are in, the type of clothes you can afford, the color of your features, the shape of your legs, your thighs, your marks, your scars. Remember all that your body is and does and has been through — and its endless beauty in these moments — It’s not just some outer covering meant to please some passerby’s eyes. It never has been. It never should be. And it should never be your definition of its worth.

Miscarriage: The Invisible Child

Today I cried a bit.

And yes most people don’t talk about miscarriage publicly. I do. I do because so many women have experienced it. I didn’t realize just how many until I experienced it and those who never spoke about it sent me a message. I probably got over 30 messages… And those were only the ones who felt they could tell me. So, I want you to understand.

You don’t truly “get over it.” You don’t just “get better.” In some ways, it never “gets easier.” Just, mourning takes a new shape with passing days, months, years. And it hits you, the emotion, when you least expect it, publicly. Talking to a friend. Someone tells you they are expecting. A pampers commercial comes on. You see a mom holding a baby in the mall. Someone has the same month due date and every picture they post reminds you of where you should be but you aren’t. Someone celebrates a child’s first birthday and you stand at a party where everyone is laughing and tears unexpectedly fall… but you try to wipe them away before anyone notices. The due date month comes and goes and you imagine what it would have been like, but instead the halls are quiet in your house at night. Quiet enough that you hear the silence and drown in it. It’s a silent type of suffering… Pain that’s buried in the mundane routine of life, that’s hiding in a corner and there’s no warning it’s there until you take that corner to get where you’re going. Maybe I’ll have another baby someday. Maybe we won’t. But you don’t “replace” the loss. The invisible child grows with your family. And each year that passes you see your invisible child taking their first steps, playing with their siblings, blowing out their birthday cake candles. The invisible child is always with you. You never kick him out. But you embrace him for what he is. Laughter you can’t hear, but feel. A hand you can’t hold, but that touched your heart.

 

Dear Daddy (Open letter to daddies with little girls)

 

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After long streams of four-year-old run on sentences, ramblings, stories, and observations, I looked up at my dad and asked, “Daddy, do I talk too much?”

With a smile, my dad said reassuringly, “No sweetie. I like hearing what you have to say.”

* * *

Both of my parents were absolutely wonderful. I was truly blessed with a rich and loving childhood. While both of my parents made a huge impact on who I am today, I want to focus on daddies. While my father was a positive influence on my childhood, not all of my friends had this experience. I’ve sat down with many of my very best lady friends who have shared with me the struggles they faced and still face due to a relationship that could have, should have been beautiful, fruitful, and uplifting. Daddies have the potential to have such a huge impact on their daughters – and they will whether they intend to or not. And, sometimes us daddies don’t realize the impact until it’s too late. Today I want to remind the daddies, from a daughter herself, of what your little girl sees with her eyes, hears with her ears, feels with her skin, and what’s carved into her heart, mind, and soul.

  1. You teach her how to view her body.

When you’re with your guy friends in the evening sitting in the living room, and your sleepy, tired little girl gets up out of bed scared and slowly creeps into the living room holding her teddy, what does she hear you say with the guys? What does she see you watching? When an overly large lady walks in the store, what do you say under your breath, what are your facial expressions?

Children are perceptive, they remember (and understand and process) more than you know. A little girl will learn about her body from a male’s perspective first from you – in how you treat her and talk to her, but also how you speak about and view other women, including, and most notably, your wife – her mama. I’m not speaking simply about “lust” – but also body image, size, color, shape, skin texture, the whole gamut. Help her learn that her body is her own and is to be respected and valued. Teach her not to be embarrassed or ashamed by her feminine form. Teach her that her body is beautiful in whatever skin color, size, or shape. Teach her how to take care of her body, but not to become obsessive and abuse it. Teach her that she doesn’t need to look like a pin-up to have the affections of a respectable male. Teach her that breastfeeding is beautiful and acceptable – and don’t make rude comments toward a lady who chooses to do so. Yes, have intentional conversations, but SHOW her in your actions, in your speech, and in what you own. Do you tell her mama she’s beautiful even when she’s sweaty and without makeup? Do you keep your eyes on your beautiful daughter’s face as she’s talking to you at the pool when an attractive woman walks by in a bikini behind her? Your actions speak volumes, but so do your words. Lack of words can also speak volumes, and can sometimes unintentionally communicate shame and embarrassment. Talk to your daughter about her body – truly. You should. And show her how a real man treats women.

  1. You teach her positive touch.

The first male, more than likely, she will receive touch from is you – perhaps the first time you hold her in the hospital after she was born. That first caress is life changing. The hugs she receives from you when you get home from work, the pat on the back when she’s feeling blue, the high five when she catches her first softball all teaches her positive and acceptable, loving touch. She NEEDS this from you.

Unfortunately, some fathers are uncomfortable with touch – until it comes to discipline. The touch your daughter receives from you should not only be when she’s done something wrong – grabbing her to put her in time-out, pulling her abruptly off of her brother in a fight, etc. A daughter needs to learn positive touch from YOU (not her teacher, not a boyfriend, not a brother) – from YOU, least she internalizes that she should only be touched by a male when he’s mad or lusting . . .

  1. You teach her the value of her mind and aspirations.

Set aside time to intentionally talk to your daughter and take interest in what makes her eyes glow. Pursue her mind. Ask her questions; answer her questions; read her books; get involved with homework; take her to work and let her shadow you. Teach her that her mind is to be cultivated and valued by men – teach her that she is every bit of worthy of becoming a doctor, an engineer, a police officer, etc. And when she takes interest in this, do not laugh, do not tease – believe in her.

The key word here is INTENTIONAL. Looking back on your life, you don’t want to remember all the times your daughter came up to you as a toddler, begging for you to read her a book – but you told her, “Not now, daddy is watching football.” Or then as a middle-schooler she came to you to ask you about life and instead, not putting down your magazine, you nodded and said, “mhm,” “yeah,” “that’s great sweetie.” In the long run, your conversations and engaging her mind will have a huge impact on who she is – and how seriously she expects a man to take her dreams and pursuits. Put down the remote, and pursue her mind.

  1. You teach her about dating and marriage, how a woman should be pursued.

 In this culture, marriage is advertised all around us girls from a young age – from dress up, to Disney movies, to TV shows, religion, everywhere. But, where us girls will experience marriage first hand is watching you with mommy. Your relationship with your wife (or girlfriend) will resound and echo in your daughter’s heart and mind for the rest of her life. Yelling at your wife will cause not only your wife pain, but also your daughter, as bringing home flowers for your spouse will make your daughter’s heart sing as well (until the teenage years when she throws up in her mouth!). She will learn how a husband (or boyfriend) should treat his wife (or girlfriend) first from you – and her years and years of experience watching and learning about marriage will take place first and foremost in your home. Pursuing your wife, and learning to be a team, to love one another, to deal with stress, to talk through your problems will do just as much for your marriage as it will for your daughter’s future – not just her future marriage, but any situation she works closely and as a team with a male.

Show your daughter how she should be pursued whether it’s dating, the first year of marriage, or years into a marriage. Pursue your wife in love, respect, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Assist your wife at home with chores. Value and cultivate your wife’s mind and hobbies too! And if your marriage is bad, don’t give up and don’t give in to petty name calling, yelling, and the cold-shoulder (how childish!!). In fact, honestly, I don’t think you should EVER yell at your spouse in frustration, when they’ve made a mistake, when they’ve forgotten a task, etc. etc. There’s no reason to – there’s NO fruit that comes from it except to cultivate abuse, intimidation, manipulation, and to drive a wedge in your marriage. And no, this isn’t “idealistic” – I’m a product of a few generations of family that yelling at one another is absolutely unacceptable. YES we make mistakes, and this doesn’t come easy for all of us. Seek counsel if you see this trend. Seek counsel from a male role model who is a good example and will hold you accountable and offer constructive criticism, speaking into your life. Put your spouse first. Put your family first. Cultivate the relationship you said “I do” to “for better or for worse” and the little girl who grew from this relationship will be cultivated in love too.

If divorced, realize that your x-wife is still her momma, someone she still loves. Calling her mama (who she sees as half of herself) a “whore” or “worthless” or “ugly” or any other name will directly affect her own value and insecurities – to hear the man she loves call the woman she loves such ugly names. Yes, your x-wife could be wrong, and could have done awful things, but speak to your daughter like an adult. Explain to her what went wrong and why it hurt you, sure. But, be mature. Be the adult, not the child.

Lastly, teach your little girl that marriage does not have to be the ultimate goal for her life. Teach her how to be a strong, independent woman. Teach her that mommy was already complete and valuable without you, but that you chose to be together, to be a team, and to pursue each other out of love. Instead of joking about a third grade crush, talk about the science project. Instead of only buying her kitchen sets and Barbie and Ken, buy her a toy chemistry set as well! Marriage is beautiful and valuable, don’t get me wrong . . . but teach her to be secure with or without a man.

  1. You teach her about your faith.

Let me get a little ugly on this one before being encouraging: Here’s where actions definitely speak louder than words. What does your lifestyle say about your priorities and your values? If you claim to be a Christian, going to church every Sunday without fail, and then proceed Monday through Saturday to treat your wife poorly, to ignore your daughter, to yell at your coworkers, to hide porn magazines under your bed, there is one thing she will learn for sure, she wants NOTHING to do with your so called ‘god’ if that’s the type of man a Christian is (which I would argue you probably aren’t a Christian at all . . . [neither are you a car if you stand in a garage and claim to be one] but let’s continue.).

This is a resounding story I’ve unfortunately heard from both men and women in my life – watching their father attend church, put on a suit and a face, then do nothing to practice what he preaches at home. If you’re a man pursing the Lord, it’s a lifestyle, not a fancy church date. Does your daughter see you in the Word (and are you learning from it)? Does she see you serve your wife selflessly (and do you desire to do so)? Does she see sound leadership in your family from you? Does she see you show kindness and respect to strangers? Do you have a prayer life? Do you pray over your family? Do you pray with your daughter? Do you teach her your values in word and deed? Do you support and respect your wife and other women? Do you have other men in your life that know you intimately and hold you accountable in your daily walk? Do you understand your faith and believe in its principles and values NOT to gain some earthly reward or title but to gain Christ? And if not, and you desire to be here in your life, ask God, who is the provider of all things, to help you and humble you (Matthew 7:7-11). Realize you can’t simply “fix” yourself – humble yourself before the Lord and be faithful to prayer and reading the Word, and your heart and mind will begin to change (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 1:17-21, others). Pursue Christian community, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week – invite people into your home and your life, holding you accountable and being mutually encouraging (Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:2, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, etc.). Be encouraged that you are NEVER too far for the Lord to change. The most loving, healing, faithful Father will give you strength to be a father when you place your life in His.

 

There is so much more I could say here, but unfortunately not many of us have the leisure of sitting down and reading a blog post for 45 minutes – so I’ll leave you with the gist of the matter. If you would have given me that kind of time, thanks, you’re really sweet. 🙂

Last, NONE of us are perfect. And no dad is super-dad. As dads, you will overreact. You will be too harsh. You will be too tired. You will be too trusting – or not trusting enough. You will be too stubborn. You’ll get bored playing princess or tea party, but more than often, if you are pursuing her, and you keep the above in mind, she will remember the good, she will have grown for the better, and she will look back and smile and look forward with joy and hope. She may be a moody teenager and want nothing to do with you in high school, but she’ll come back to call you her best friend when she’s in college. Don’t lose heart, dad. You got this. And you have the sweetest little lady to cherish.

 

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3 Weekly Questions Toward a Better Marriage/Relationship

 

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It’s easy to remember to maintain a relationship when it’s new, but as the years pass, somehow we all forget how important it is to maintain it WHILE it’s healthy and not just give it attention when things are bad. If we take time to maintain our relationship while it’s healthy, we won’t find it suddenly starving for love and affection, us spending all our energy simply to revive it only to bring it back to the tipping point before it went bad. It’s exhausting! And, it’s not sustainable. So, what’s one way to keep our relationships healthy and maintain it?

My husband and I ask each other the same three questions each week, three questions that deepen our love and understanding of one another, assist us and encourage us in serving one another, and helps us sort out small issues before they become BIG issues. Here they are: “What makes you feel loved?” “What have I done that hurt you or disappointed you?” “How can I better serve you?”

 

“What makes you feel loved?”

Sometimes we don’t even realize what small things make our spouse feel loved. I remember telling Tucker that when he got me water at night it made me feel loved. And, it’s TRUE! Love languages come in all forms and sometimes the small things truly turn out to be the BIG things in a marriage. (Ladies, I know you want to say “Well, if he was paying attention, he should know what makes me feel loved.” PLEASE don’t fall into this fallacy – it’s not as easy as we want to believe. Everyone gives love differently, receives love differently, and processes love in a unique way.)

This question serves multiple purposes 1) affirmation: telling your spouse that they make you feel loved and recognizing the things they do by name 2) recognition of love language: some people feel most loved when they are given a gift, others by physical touch, and others by acts of service, etc. We don’t know unless we ask, well unless you take this test (which I highly recommend!!) http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/. 3) Encouraging love acts to continue: When we tell our spouse what makes us feel loved, we give them confidence in their ability to love us well and feel encouraged to continue pursuing us, finding out what little things say “I love you.”

 

“What have I done that hurt you or disappointed you?”

This is the most humbling question of them all. And it’s a tough one, but so very important to ask. Sometimes the answer to this question surprises me. Sometimes we have NO IDEA that a small thing we are doing is creating pain or tension – sometimes things we do send a signal to our spouse we never intended. But, how would we know unless we asked and gave them a chance to voice it? Perhaps it’s “Being on your phone makes me feel that you’d rather talk to other people than me when I am sitting beside you” and this is something that’s never occurred to us until pointed out. This realization is much better than a month down the road it becoming “You never want to talk to me or hang out with me!!” (and then wondering where that accusation even came from!) When being confronted and after fully listening, perhaps you need to explain your intentions and what you meant to do. You might admit you had no idea that it hurt the other person and you’ll work on it. You may admit you have a problem with this and need help and patience working through it.

Asking this question is important. It shows your spouse you care for how they feel and you care about what your actions say toward them. Asking it prompts them to have a safe place and time to respond, and to reflect on your actions. Also, it gives you accountability. You know the next time you all talk, you will be held accountable for your actions that week, and you will feel the full force of how it made your spouse feel.

The first time you ask this question, it might be very emotional as there is a lot to go over and maintain: there may be YEARS that have past without allowing the other person to fully tell you how they feel. Perhaps then the first time you ask, it may be better just to start with “this week” and build trust in telling one another your hurts. It’s important to NOT be defensive and allow the other to speak. It’s important to say “I’m sorry I hurt you,” not because your right or wrong, but because even IF you were right, it still hurt. It still caused the person you love pain. It’s important to get at the heart issue . . . is it because you’re on your phone at dinner that they feel hurt – that it’s simply the phone? Or is it truly because they feel like you’ve abandon them finding other things more important than the person you said “I do” to sitting in front of them.

In time, the hurt list gets shorter because you learn each other better, you begin to make adjustments quicker, and you learn how to read each other better. You also learn to communicate better, and to feel secure and safe in communicating the hard stuff. Ideally, there’s less hurt because you grow to understand each other and you know you will be held responsible for the actions you do and words you say. In other words, you may get away with doing something that hurts the other person if you truly don’t know it hurts them, BUT, after it is voiced, if you do it again, you do it FULLY knowing that it will hurt that person. That then is a MUCH greater offense.

 

“How can I better serve you?”

This is one of my favorite questions. We should never stop serving one another, never stop pursuing each other’s affections and heart. If each spouse is looking after the other’s best interests, then BOTH of you are being loved, served, and cared for. You can trust one another, and you can grow in a healthy relationship. However, if, for example, the husband is serving his wife, and the wife is serving only herself and her interests, you can see where the husband would grow tired and resigned. Who is serving him? Who is encouraging him? Thus, serve one another – each of you is cared for and you grow together in love and affection. Of course it gets tiring at times, it would be a lie to say it doesn’t – but I promise you will feel better serving the one you love than looking back ten years from now wondering what ways you continued pursing your spouse’s heart.

Different seasons will bring different answers to this question. I know after we had our daughter, I needed Tucker to help me with household chores, and that’s how he could better serve me. Before Tali, it was simply sitting next to me in the evening and talking to me without our phones next to us. This is another reason why you should continually be asking this question, each season of life brings new needs. 

 

There is so much more I could say, but I think it’s best to stop here and allow you to find your own path, as every relationship is unique. Of course, feel free to ask me questions in the comments below.

I hope this post assists you and encourages you to love greater, understand deeper, trust fully, and maintain a healthy relationship/marriage. Marriage is so beautiful, but it’s not always easy — especially when you stop communicating both the good AND the bad. In fact, this conversation above won’t always be easy, but I can tell you the more often you do it (and not shy away from it), the more trust that is built, the barriers fall down, security and trust grows, and you love deeper — and even look forward to these chats as my husband and I do! I encourage you to begin asking these questions and seek your spouse’s answer in love, humility, patience, kindness, and respect.

 

**Please understand this post is for maintaining a relationship. For a relationship that’s already full of disrespect, pain, and neglect, this approach alone is not a solution. Please seek professional counseling if you are experiencing an extremely difficult situation. Never be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, we just can’t do it alone.**

The [Im]perfect Nursery and the Joy of Simplicity

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“So, what’s your theme?” she asked me.
“Theme? What do you mean?”
“Your nursery! Animals? Butterflies? Princess? And what about the type of wood of your nursery furniture? White? Dark wood? Light wood?”
“Lavender?” I replied unsure of myself.

I knew this lady was trying to be helpful and considerate in asking me the theme of my baby’s nursery. She wanted to make sure she bought a gift for the shower that would perfectly coordinate. In all honesty, this thought hadn’t even occurred to me until this moment. Decorating a nursery? I suppose in America it would be considered a rite of passage. I know, I know . . . SURELY I would have seen all the advertisements in baby magazines and all the nursery picture posts by friends; however, when you find out you’re pregnant, plan a full wedding in two months, move twice, and figure out the very basics of being a wife, being pregnant, and becoming a mom, it doesn’t leave much room for browsing magazines and window shopping. Even if I HAD seen these beautiful coordinating nursery ads though, I still probably wouldn’t have paid it much mind. We see “perfect” all the time in ads. The perfectly fashioned female model. The perfectly polished, fast sports car. The perfect office space promoting creativity and relaxation. No one pays attention to the “perfects”! Well, perhaps I underestimated how big of a rite of passage the “perfect” nursery was. For me, this really stressed me out.

Up to this point, I had really enjoyed the simplicity of pregnancy. Wait . . . before you crucify me, hear me out. When you’re pregnant, there are less choices and you stick to the basics. When you’re pregnant, only a few items on the menu appeal to you. When you’re pregnant, entertainment choices are limited (no theme parks, no hiking, no rock climbing, etc). When you’re pregnant, only the handicapped bathroom stall will do. When you’re pregnant, bedtime is as soon as you get home. When you’re pregnant you give up on painting your toenails. When you’re pregnant, high heels are a definite NO. When you’re pregnant you grow out of your bras faster than the Irish sunburn, so a Victoria’s secret lacy little thing with velvet trim and push up padding for 80 bucks is out of the question. My favorite part was that, for once, I had a small manageable closet of maternity clothes and the choice between two pairs of shoes that were comfortable and fit my swollen feet. It wasn’t really hard to get out of bed and be ready in the morning . . . well, besides the sitting up from lying down part.

My family helped us out a lot on relieving my tension of figuring out a nursery. Tucker’s brothers (who by the way are GIANTS and don’t have to have a step stool to reach a ceiling) painted Tali’s room lavender. And, with the help of friends and family, we bought white matching furniture and received simple fitted sheets and other necessities in the color lavender. No, there weren’t decals on the wall. There wasn’t a rocking chair nor a decorative pillow embroidered with the letter “T.” We didn’t have a matching quilt, picture frames, diaper pail, hangers, lamp shade, lavender princess booger wipes… or whatever else you can buy in a “theme” for a baby’s room (you’d be surprised). By the time my labor was induced, the room wasn’t even completely put together. Tali’s new clothes from showers were still laid out all across the floor, her toys were in their plastic store-fresh containers lining the hallway, and the dresser was still in pieces with a manual on how to assemble it lying beside it. And, as I cried out in pain in my hospital room as Tucker embraced my hand and we waited to meet Tali, in my purse I still had a long unfinished checklist of things I absolutely must buy, things I absolutely must do, and books I must absolutely read.

When Tali arrived, I learned quickly how little we really needed. Although we had a lot of beautiful and thoughtful items from showers, to get us through those first few weeks all we needed the most were a carseat, about three footie pajamas, a pacifier, diapers, wipes, a bath towel and baby soap, breastfeeding supplies, a swaddle blanket, and a crib. The consumer baby market would be ashamed. Of course I needed a wipe warmer with a built in digital clock and room thermometer; an automatic spinning, music playing crib mobile; and sanitizing, alcohol free, gluten free, paraben free, dye free, calorie free baby safe pacifier wipes!

My husband and I didn’t have a lot of money, but we were happy. It really doesn’t take thousands of dollars worth of stuff to bring a baby home. And, there’s no shame in not being able to afford it. In fact, I learned quite a lot while I was pregnant and those first few weeks with Tali. I was happier with less. I was happier with more time with Tucker and Tali, less time organizing the clutter, and more money to spend traveling to see family.

So to the moms out there like me overwhelmed by the expectations,

You’re doing great! You don’t have to have a straight-from-a-magazine room for your baby! You don’t have to have the latest fashions or the trendiest baby clothes! The room doesn’t have to be tidy. Toys don’t always have to be put away from sight. Chores can wait.

Mommy, you’ve adorned your baby in love. You’ve decorated her room with your voice. You’ve grown rich in her laughter. And perhaps save a penny or two and go buy yourself a coke, and after she finally falls asleep, slide yourself down the wall onto the floor with your messy dirty hair, your unshaved legs, your pile of dirty laundry in the next room and breathe. And smile. You’re doing great.

An Unexpected Blessing

 

New Parents

Welcome to our new blog! YES! We are expecting!! And we can’t wait to share more with you! We are excited to use this blog as an outlet to share our experiences, our joys, and our struggles. We want to always be transparent here so that others may more deeply get to know our hearts and learn from us as well. To start our blog off with, we’d like to publicly share our wedding invitation letter, the letter that was included in our invite. Later, we wish to share more details about this journey. We are absolutely thrilled to be new parents and can’t wait to share more with you! Thanks for visiting. 🙂

 

February 9, 2014

Family and Friends,

Although many of you are already familiar with our story, we wanted to share it once more as we truly believe in God’s ability to use each story to reveal His love, mercy, and abundant grace. After all, the gospel itself is a compilation of stories that together reveal the Father’s character and ultimate plan, a plan that continues in our stories today. Our story is also one that is very important in the timing of our marriage and in the incredible journey of faith God has taken us on.

Kaley and I met almost a year ago at our current church shortly after I moved to Oklahoma. We went on our first date as friends in June of 2013 and after many more dates, prayers over God’s purpose, and getting to know each other’s hearts at Bible study, we officially became a couple November 10, 2013. We both knew early on that we were moving toward marriage, and by December I knew I wanted to start having conversations with Kaley about engagement, but I desired to wait before doing so. In mid-January, however, God changed the course of our lives forever when we discovered that Kaley was pregnant.

The news came as a shock to both of us, but after being both convicted and humbled by the Holy Spirit we immediately decided to be open with our mistake and go to our family and church community.  We were very fearful to speak with them at first, paralyzed with shame and guilt, but once we did we were met with much grace, love, humility, and kindness. While they did not affirm our sin, they were very quick to remind us of Christ’s gospel of grace and how He came and died for not only our sin but for the sins of the world! We were reminded by them that the gospel is placed in our lives not to burden believers in overwhelming guilt and shame, but to free us in what Christ did on the cross! When we are truly repentant and turn from our sins, God is able to create a beautiful story and use it for His glory! We were also comforted and at peace knowing that we did not surprise God with a child, but God already knew our child, made provision for our child, and had a plan and purpose for him or her before the beginnings of the world (Psalm 139).

After gaining much counsel from our friends, family, and pastor, Kaley and I decided to get married sooner rather than later, a decision we feel is best for each other as well as for our child. Although our child influenced the timing of our marriage, our vows to each other are dependent on our love for one another and desiring to make a life-long commitment to love one another, serve one another, and lead each other closer to the Lord. We both are blessed to have had wonderful examples of marriage in our lives with our parents, family, and friends and look forward to creating our own story together in marriage.

Kaley and I would be more than honored for you to share our story with us by being a witness to our commitment to each other in the sacred vows of marriage before our Lord.

Sincerely,

Tucker and Kaley