Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Baby "Bucket"

I've found that one of the hardest things about having a son is living away from family. We are really blessed to live fairly close to Brandon's parents, but all of our siblings and my parents live out-of-state. Thankfully, we are able to travel to Michigan (my home state) fairly often and spent the last week there visiting and introducing Beckett to his cousins, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, and many friends.

Our growing family!

When we named our son, we really didn't think it was all that complicated! But somehow, some of our family members have really struggled with his name! Granted, they are the oldest and youngest members of the family, so we cut them some slack, but they have come up with some creative alternatives for our little one!

Beckett with Grandma Laurie and Papa Jim

My 92-year-old grandmother has been ecstatic to meet Beck. Or "Beacon" as she more often than not refers to him as! She's also managed to refer to him as Brandon, Brendan, Benjamin, and Blanket - but she never forgets his middle name! (James, after my dad and her son!) On the other hand, our 1.5 year old niece, Reagan, has lovingly dubbed Beckett "my baby Bucket!" It's a good thing we love them so much!

Our sweet Reagan

Highlights of this trip really included a lot of family time - including a Valentine's date night with my siblings and their spouses while my parents watched all 5 grandkids, visits with friends (all who have growing babies of their own now), and eating some of my favorite food (metro Detroit has some of the best Middle Eastern restaurants!). And since Beckett rocked his first plane trip, I'm only feeling slightly anxious about our 4x longer flight to California in a few weeks...

I used to get together with these 2 ladies and another friend (who now also lives in MN) almost every week for several years - in 2015 we all had babies!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Maternity Reads

I'm an avid reader, and when I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was head to the library and check out a whole stack of pregnancy related books! 

I didn't do much more than skim through that first stack, but throughout my pregnancy I started (and mostly finished) a variety of books on pregnancy, labor and delivery, and all such related matters. While many were pretty drab and mundane, or simply scared the life out of me by listing everything that could go wrong(!!), there were a few that I really loved.

For the record, and to consider the types of books I was reading, we had a natural childbirth with a midwife in a hospital.

1. Redeeming Childbirth - Angie Tolpin

This is my #1 reading recommendation for momma's-to-be! I absolutely loved this book! It was recommended to me by a friend who claimed it really calmed her heart and prepared her spiritually for labor - and I would completely agree! I read this book during my third trimester and found it to be a great devotional tool. It helped me look at labor and delivery from a more spiritual perspective and see childbirth as an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord rather than just a feat I had to "endure." 

While the author chose to take a natural childbirth approach (which I appreciated as that was the route I knew I was headed and loved the mental tools she suggested) she in no way suggests natural childbirth as the right or only way to go. In fact, the friend who recommended the book to me did not take a natural childbirth approach and loved the book as much as I did!

2. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth - Ina May Gaskin

This was a book my midwife recommended I read. The first half of the book is a complete index of birth stories. This was a little shocking to me when I first picked up the book - particularly because the stories centered around women who were going a little more "natural" than I intended (i.e. birthing at home or at "the Farm" - the author's midwife center), but as I got closer to my due date, I found some comfort and empowerment in simply reading others' stories and gaining confidence in my body's abilities.

I enjoyed this book because it talked through the physical and mental aspects of labor and really emphasized the power and beauty of natural labor. It also answered many practical questions and spurred some great conversations with my midwife.

3. The Power of a Praying Parent - Stormie Omartian

There is no better time to start praying for your child than NOW! This book was a gift from my mom. I had read and loved its companion -  The Power of a Praying Wife, while Brandon and I were engaged, and was eager to read Omartian's thoughts from the perspective of a parent.

Simply put, this is an excellent read that emphasizes the power a parent's prayer has over his/her children. It provides great tools as to when, how, and why we need to pray for our children.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 5, 2016

In All Things Give Thanksgiving

I had a lot of expectations for Beckett's first few weeks of life - I would spend time cuddling and bonding my newborn as I soaked up his sweet smiles and little noises and filled my camera with pictures of his "firsts."

While all of those things have come true, I certainly didn't expect to spend 2+ weeks with 80% of my body covered in the most painful, itchy hives I've ever experienced. I didn't expect to find myself in tears at 3 am - not because I couldn't console my infant, but because I felt as though my body was literally failing me and no doctor could provide an answer or offer relief.

But that has been my reality for the last several weeks. 

And while there have been some miserable moments, I have also been overwhelmed with awe at how God has used this situation to teach me a powerful message - to draw me to him, and to completely transform my prayer life.

Above anything else, I have learned the power of peace - and the peace that comes with trusting our Heavenly Father and giving thanks in all circumstances

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
James 1:2

It's so easy to say, and so hard to do.

Yet this past week I experienced something completely new - finding true, complete peace while still in the midst of utter physical pain. As I called out to God and turned to him I was continuously reminded that the devil is always at work, looking to prey upon us in our weakest moments. While my body was failing me I came to realize that it would only be worse if I allowed Satan control over my mind. 

And so I called out to God - again and again and again - for healing and direction yes, but also to carry me through this journey, for mental strength, for patience, for a clear mind, for power over Satan's temptations and discouraging thoughts, etc. 

And God responded in an amazing way. Despite the pain and discomfort I began to feel his presence in a completely new way. I felt bathed in peace, revitalized to make it through another day, and able to give thanks despite circumstances.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."
Colossians 3:15

In the midst of this journey, I started a women's bible study at church - Pricilla Shirer's "Armor of God," which I highly recommend (as well as the movie War Room). The study is about putting on the Armor of God as laid out in Ephesians, plus the overarching power and importance of prayer. Coincidentally (hah!) this past week focused on the "shoes of peace" and how the Enemy uses instability/discourse/upset to keep us from Christ. Ms. Shirer presents the argument that it is only God's peace that allows us to stand firm amidst the storms of life - and that such a state of peace is activated through thanksgiving.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace"
Ephesians 2:13-14

So today I give thanks for these weeks that haven't turned out like I've expected, but that have brought me greater peace than I've ever known.