Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dear Social Media

Dear Social Media,

I love you. And I hate you.

I love that you allow me to stay connected to people I don't see often enough.
I hate that you bring out comparison in my heart.
I love that you give me a platform to share issues I hold dear to my heart.
I hate that you don't share my tone or the sincerity of my heart.
I love that I can post highlights from my life.
I hate how misleading those highlights can be--it leaves me feeling unknown.
I love the sharing of God's Word I see on my newsfeeds.
I hate the bullying and hate you so often provoke.
I love that a quick swipe down my newsfeed allows me to see what's going on in the world, from the comfort of my home.
I hate that you are too often used for politics.
I love seeing my friends use you to promote their small businesses.
I hate that you haven't figured out how to prevent hacking of accounts.
I love how you have connected me with other young moms, even some many miles away.
I hate how addicting you are!

I love you. And I hate you.

An avid user

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hello, 2017.

Whirlwind. That's how I would describe most of my days. There are few moments of calm, quiet, and rest. With two teeny girls, my only hope for calm, quiet, or rest is what I call NAP OVERLAP or as seen on my Instagram #twonappinggirls. I have learned not to expect it, but to be thankful for it and use it wisely when I get it!

January is quickly coming to an end and here I am, with my New Years post. Yep. Whirlwind.

Each year, I commit to praying a verse or passage from Scripture for Tyler and myself. This year, I also decided to prayerfully select verses for the girls, too. This year, I will be praying...

For myself :: "Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways." -Psalm 119:35
Oh how I long to seek God above all else and find life in Him alone. It is so much easier said than done with a sinful heart and in a fallen world. So I'll pray.

For Tyler :: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." - Romans 13:14
Walking in the Spirit is hard when exhaustion is a key player. My husband serves our family well and works HARD. I know that while he is on the "front lines" so to speak, Satan will not waste an opportunity. So I'll pray, for protection and strength.

For Peighton :: "Keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you...write them on the tablet of your heart." - Proverbs 7:1-3
What a joy it is to hear my biggest little talk about Jesus! My prayer is that His words would be engraved on her young heart.

For Brylee :: "You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you." - Isaiah 43:4
Sweet baby Brylee. I hope that as she catches glimpses of just how much she is loved by God!

I'm hopeful for the year ahead. Anxious for rest (sleep Brylee, sleep!). Excited for the adventures God has for our family. Eager to deepen and develop friendships. And thankful for another year of growing in the Lord. 2017, let's go!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Things I Hate

Today has been one of those days where I have been more drawn to complain, than to praise. And if I'm honest, the past week or so has had the same shade of pessimism in my life.

My staff team here at Rutgers with Athletes in Action, regularly goes through challenging material together. This semester we are reading Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp. My most recently completed chapter was about anger. Tripp compared two types of anger--the kind that probably comes to your mind when you hear the word {frustrated while in traffic, short tempered with your family, irritable at work, etc.} and the kind that is aligned with God's anger {angry about injustices, sin, our fallen world, etc.}. And this got me thinking....

Via my online life, some people know me better than they would otherwise. And some people only know me through my online life. And I'm feeling like I want y'all to get to know me a little better. Yes, I get angry {the non-God angry}. And yes, I get good and angry, as Tripp calls it. What makes me good and angry? What are things I, dare I say, HATE?

  • I hate broken relationships. I've experienced several throughout my life and the effects of those around me who have had broken relationships. And I'm often left feeling hurt, inadequate, misunderstood. And I think it is good for me to hate that, because God didn't design relationships to be broken.
  • I hate death. About a month ago, I visited my grandfather in his final days. It was an absolute joy to have him meet his newest great-granddaughter. But it was absolutely heart wrenching to see him suffering. And now that he's gone, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around just how different life will be without him.
  • I hate consequences. We {all people} make choices in life that come with consequences--big and/or small. The consequences sometimes don't go away. I hate the reality of a reminder of a bad choice.
Some more specific examples....
  • I hate seeing my daughters hurt.
  • I hate seeing my husband experience disappointment.
  • I hate pain. Like physical pain. I am a wuss.
  • I hate seeing others be mistreated.
  • I often hate hearing stories from girls on campus. During the last few years serving with Athletes in Action, I have had student-athletes share with me that they have been sexually assaulted, that they've sought counseling to get a handle on crippling anxiety, that they've had abortions, that they've experienced racial discrimination from peers/teammates, that their teammate was drugged and date raped, that their parents have been undergoing tests for a life threatening illness, that their parents are getting a divorce.... the list could go on and on.
People have stories. And I hate when we {Christians} ignore the people, forget the stories, and point fingers of shame and condemnation at the wrong just for the sake that it's wrong.
I long for a world of goodness, love, mercy and grace, humility, kindness, and sincerity. And if there's anything I've learned from experiencing the above list, it is that the kind of world I long for is a far way off...and only possible by the grace of God.

Fellow Christian, I implore you... let's aim together to love well, extend grace, and proceed with humility. Let's strive to make our world, although inevitably fallen and broken, a little less worthy of our anger.

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 
- 2 Corinthians 2:15

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Happy Halloween Indeed

Celebrating Halloween can be a controversial topic for Christians. This October, I have come across several articles offering different perspectives on the matter. This one is my favorite. And here's why...

Tonight, my family took part in Halloween. Our porch was donned with a pumpkin. We took our two little ones around our neighborhood trick-or-treating. We handed fun sized candy out to costume clad children. It was a Happy Halloween around here indeed!

As we were out taking part in Halloween, we met several of our new neighbors! We've lived in our home for 3 months now--so we are still "new to the neighborhood." I loved having that built-in opportunity to knock on someone's door. Our family met George tonight, who lives a few houses down. In our brief exchange with him, we learned that he has lived in his home for nearly 50 years and lost his wife just a year ago. I'm pretty convinced that without Halloween, I wouldn't have had that opportunity. After we got home, Tyler and I have discussed ways to love George well and reach out to him!

We are aware of the stigma that Halloween holds, the arguments for not celebrating, the reasons for the porch light to be off. But for us, Halloween is an obvious open-door to engage with those in our community. Hopefully, the Lord will continue to lead us to connect with our neighbors in a natural way. This year, Halloween was just the first step.

Monday, October 10, 2016

And Something for the Baby Mama

My littlest will be two months old this week. I don't know how that happened! It literally seems like yesterday that my first born was two months old. The fact that I am Mama to two little cutie girls, still blows my mind. But I am, nonetheless.

In light of the fact that I feel like I'm finally crawling out of my "I have a newborn" hibernation, I thought I'd share some things I've learned over the last just-less-than two years.

I have now given birth to two tiny humans. I have had three pregnancies--two to term, and both of those ending in a gestational hypertension diagnosis. Just prior to my most recent tiny human delivery, we moved into our first home. Two short weeks after Brylee was born, the fall semester started at Rutgers (which, for us, means busy schedules and full work days!). Does this make me an expert? Not in the slightest. Does it make me crazy? Maybe...haha! Either way, I thought it'd be fun to share some things I learned along the way in the whole "bringing tiny humans into the world" journey.

What made me feel cared for when recovering from child birth, transitioning into motherhood, navigating breastfeeding, functioning on little sleep, and what felt like, some days, I was barely surviving?

  • Food. Y'all, I love food. You've probably picked up on that. When Peighton (our first) was born, we had friends bring food from our favorite sub shop to the hospital, a friend left homemade banana bread at our apartment, a student athlete brought over Chipotle for dinner one night, and our freezer was stocked with crockpot freezer meals. When Brylee was born, we had those same subs brought to us--by different friends, my husband picked up Dunkin Donuts *although more for Peighton, but I reaped the benefits!, my mom prepped 20 or so crockpot freezer meals, and a friend from church brought over her DELICIOUS bruschetta and a pan of baked oatmeal. It was so incredibly helpful to have less to worry about when it came to food prep with a new baby. Cooking a full meal was one of the last things I wanted to do, after childbirth. So to have someone thoughtfully provide for me, meant the world.
  • Gifts. Gifts are my love language. When I am given a gift, it speaks directly to my heart. A gift, to me says, "I wasn't with you, but I was thinking of you and I care about you." I've learned about myself that flowers are my favorite post-delivery gift. When my husband and Peighton brought home roses after an errand, my heart was mush. The friend who left banana bread for us, also left a vase full of colorful blooms. And my sweet Mama brought flowers to the hospital when Peighton was born in the vase her mother had given to her when I was born! Talk about meaningful! 
  • Sleep. The gift of sleep isn't just nice, but necessary. I'm convinced there's nobody more tired than a breastfeeding new mama. After Brylee was born, I remember handing her to my mom and saying, "I just need to close my eyes" and my mom snuggled sweet Brylee for I don't even know how long while I snoozed on the couch. It was blissful. Any new mom is grateful for the extra set of hands in order to allow for some much needed Mama zzz's. 
  • Chores. Like cooking, laundry and cleaning aren't high up on my "can't wait to do this" list after child birth. Showering yes, chores no. When a friend from church came over and offered to do my sink full of dirty dishes, I was blown away. When a load of spit-up covered baby laundry gets done--and you have no part in it as a recovering mama--that's a win. When my hands are free from chores, I am free to snuggle my babies, and that's what I really want to do when I'm a ball of hormones. 
  • Errands. Getting out of the house is no easy task with TWO teeny ones, especially in the very early days post-childbirth. Having someone say, "Can I pick anything up for you on my way over?" can mean the world.
  • Initiative. I'm learning about myself that I am not great at asking for help. And, sometimes, I turn down a general offer for help even if I need it. So in light of my own issues, I realized that what's most helpful, and thoughtful even, to me is when an obvious to-do gets done. As a recovering new mama, I barely have enough energy to keep myself and the tiny human I'm nursing alive each day, let alone help anyone else. I don't have the physical energy to do much of anything, but I also don't have the mental energy to even be aware of all that needs to get done for those around me!
  • Words. "Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." - Proverbs 16:24 A kind and gentle word goes A LONG way for me as a new mama. Anything uplifting and encouraging does the trick. "You're doing a great job. You're great with her. You'll get the hang of ______, persevere. It's hard, but it's worth it. I'm here to help." etc. 
There are many many many articles and blog posts about what is helpful to new moms. Obviously, my list is not exhaustive. AND, it's pretty specific to what was helpful for me. But there you have it, some insight into how to care well for a new mama!