Stop Signs and Red Lights

A few months ago, Nehemiah went through this phase where he did not like to sit still in his carseat… at all. It seemed as though he felt like carseat = movement/driving/etc and if he was not doing any of those things he should not have been in it. One evening as we were riding home we came to a stop light and he began to get upset. I started to speak to him about being patient. As I was talking, I realized that there was a message in those words for me. I told him how sometimes God places red lights and stop signs in certain places to protect us, comfort us, save us, etc. Those pauses in life may come at the most inopportune times from our point of view, but they are essential. It is during those times that we grow and learn. We have the opportunity to take a look back at where we have been and to focus on where we are headed.
I am starting to learn to appreciate those brief pauses in the road. I am learning to see those red lights and stop signs as blessings instead of obstacles that I must hop over immediately. I am beginning to view them as God’s way of saying “hold on one second… its almost ready for you”, or “you are almost ready” or even “watch out!” I am thankful that Nehemiah has learned to be patient at those stop signs and red lights. My prayer is that I would be able to apply the same principles to my everyday life.

Marriage Mondays: How I See Me vs How He Sees Me

A friend and I were talking the other day about how our bodies have not bounced right back after having our babies. It is so easy to look at celebrities and even other women that we know and love in our own lives and wonder why it seems so easy for them and so difficult for us. I often look down at my little pooch belly with pride and thankfulness because I know that God has blessed my womb to carry two babies so far and that more are to come. However, I do not always feel confident when it comes to what my shape now looks like.

I did not really realize that this was a problem until my husband’s compliments to my body begin to feel like insults. When he would look over at me and tell me that I am beautiful or sexy I would cringe on the inside because I disagreed. I would instantly take a quick inventory of the parts of my body that need some work. I thought about the stretch marks, extra folds of skin, and the incision from my c-section (though barely visible it is HUGE to me!). Yet and still he would have this look in his eyes that let me know that he really did believe what he was saying. This dude really does think I am sexy!

It took a while for me to come to terms with that and to even see the parallel between this and how God views us. I am thankful that Joe loves me… stretch marks and all (as he should of course!). I am even more thankful that God loves me through all of my mess.

Did you ever have body image issues after having kids? How did you deal with it? How did/does your spouse make you feel?

Date Night: Nehemiah Mondays

We have had to get a little creative with our date nights, while our little guy is still so young. It is important for us to get this time together without Nehemiah as often as we can. While I was on leave and this summer one of those days during the week will be Mondays for lunch. My wonderful mother is off on those days and has volunteered to spend quality time with him. Of course, she gave the day a name… Nehemiah Mondays! For my mom, it is all about him on those days. For Joe and I, it is all about us and our marriage.

So far, we have gone to a local pizza parlor and to do a little shopping and to an Indian restaurant followed by some dessert at a cute little frozen yogurt shop! It has been cool to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to our date nights (or days).

What did you or are you doing to maintain your marriage after children? Any lunchtime suggestions for us?

Feeling Stuck

There have been so many times where I have just felt stuck. Stuck in my relationship with God, Stuck in my career, stuck in my marriage, stuck in my friendships… just stuck! I have always felt the need to make sure that I am progressing. I get joy out of that in the most simple ways, like checking off an item on my to do list.

Over the years, I have come to learn that being busy does not mean that you are truly moving forward. At times I am so “busy” that I am literally running in circles, no forward movement to be seen. I have felt like this particularly lately when it comes to my career. I frequently feel as though no progress is being made and I am simply wading in the water. Before going out on leave I would create a daily to do list and see how many items I could check off by the time 4pm rolled around. I used that list, with the neatly placed checked marks, as a measure of my success and progress for the day. By 4:05pm that feeling of progress waned and the feeling of being stuck returned.

My desire to progress or to be successful is often a distraction. I can easily get so wrapped up in  where I feel like I should be career wise and in other aspects of life that I quiet God’s voice within me. Perhaps I am feeling stuck because I am hard-headed, or maybe it’s fear. Maybe I am chasing the wrong things with the wrong motivation or even listening and taking advice from the wrong people.

When these feelings arise I know that I need to take a step back. I have to quiet everything around me and focus on His face. I have to (in the words of one my favorite celebrity families) get out of my own feelings and remember why I am here. I have to remember that it is not about me, it is all about Jesus and how I can be a blessing to His Kingdom. When I am feeling stuck or stagnant, I know it is time for a perspective shift.

To Work or Not to Work?

So my six weeks are officially up! I am grateful, however that I am able to apply some additional time to extend my leave basically through to the summer. Since I work for a school I have the summer off so it worked out perfectly. As the weeks continue to pass us by I am consumed with thoughts on whether or not I should return to work. I am enjoying my time with Nehemiah and I love being able to do more around the house. Growing up I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. I just knew that I would always have a career. I wanted to have it all. To be successful in my career, have a wonderful marriage, wonderful kids, and a great home life overall. In those thoughts my home was always clean, the dishes always washed, laundry always done, and dinner ready for my family by 6:30pm! There was not any stress or feelings of being overwhelmed. And I never have to compromise in any area to get it all done.

Now we are in the process of deciding what would truly be best for our family. And I am so torn! I really enjoy working, but I would really like to work for myself. I love being home when Joe comes home from work. I love when he walks in and sees a clean house and a clean and happy baby. I also love being able to contribute to my family financially. And to be honest, Joe and I have some financial goals that we really want to knock out sooner than later. So what’s it gonna be? At this point, I have no idea… I am planning to return to work but I am praying that I will be able to discontinue that and somehow work for myself. Besides who wouldn’t want to be around this sweet face all day long?

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Have you had to make the decision between staying home or going to work? What factors did you consider? What did you ultimately decide?

Hopeless Laughter

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Throughout my last pregnancy I was drawn to women in the Bible who had some sort of struggle with pregnancy, such as Tamar who fought for her right to birth children, Hannah who was taunted by her husband’s other wife for being barren and prayed to God for a son, and now Sarah the wife of Abraham who had basically given up hope. As I was reading more about Abraham, I came across a scripture that really struck me.

Genesis 18:10-15 reads,
Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”  Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

I read that and thought about how many times I laugh at God. How often do I laugh at a word that was dropped into my spirit or something that someone speaks over me. How often do I see it as impossible? unattainable? unimaginable? or too much for me to handle? I realized that I often laugh just like Sarah did. I laugh not out of disrespect or disregard but out of doubt, disbelief, and fear. I laugh because I may have lost hope in a particular situation and have began to believe and accept that things are what they are. I laugh because I forget how big the God I serve is. Like Sarah, time after time God has followed through on His promises and shown me just how good He is.

I have decided not to laugh out of fear and doubt anymore. I am choosing to believe and trust that He will do just what He says. Will you join me?

One Year Later

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This past weekend marked exactly one year since we learned that we lost our daughter Nia Audrey. Nia was stillborn on April 5, 2013 and it was and still is the most horrific thing I have ever had to endure. The blessing is that we endured it and we are here a year later able to share our experience and testimony. I honestly have been thinking about this post for a few weeks. So many emotions have overcome me in these last few days that it was hard for me to focus enough to sit down and write this post. I have come to realize that blogging and sharing with you all is therapeutic for me. It is apart of my healing process and an opportunity for me to continuously give God glory for what He is doing in our lives.

For a long time, I wondered what God wanted us to see or learn through that experience. I wondered why He allowed us to go through such pain. I wondered how He was going to use what we went through to help others. I still do not have the answers to those questions completely but I do know that Nia was purposed. I do know that if she did nothing else in her short time with us, she changed me. Not only did she make me a mom, but she made me stronger and wiser. Nia gave me a testimony. Through the loss of our precious baby girl I learned what it felt like to suffer. I learned what it meant to give up something and someone that meant so much to you without a choice. I learned how to truly press into God.

I spent much of last summer in tears. I would lay on the floor in the nursery or the living room and just cry out to the Lord. I begged Him to hear my cry. I asked Him to heal me from the inside out. I asked Him to make me stronger. I asked Him to let me smile again, to feel joyful again. I asked Him for total and complete restoration. I discovered that He is so merciful and full of grace. He gave me all of that and more. I found my healing in writing and sharing my story. I found my healing in His word, in the stories of women in the Bible who struggled with pregnancy or the desire to bear children, in the stories of the many men and women who overcame major obstacles because of their faith and trust in God. I found my healing in the face of my firstborn child.

I saw firsthand how Nia’s birth into heaven changed the people around me. I saw my family come together. I have heard the testimonies of healing and breakthrough in the lives of those who heard our story. My relationship with my husband is stronger and our bond deeper. And the love I feel for my son, Nehemiah is powerful. As a result of Nia I will be a better mother and wife, most importantly I will be a better disciple of Christ.

Nehemiah coming into our family has been such a dream come true. Joe and I decided early on that he would always know about his big sister, Nia. When we got pregnant so soon after Nia many people seemed concerned that we were trying to replace her. Anyone who has gone through what we have knows that replacing Nia with another child is impossible. We already speak to him now about his big sister, how she is his guardian angel, and how she changed our lives for the better. He will grow up knowing all about her and the impact she made in her short time with us.
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So, this past weekend Joe and I celebrated our firstborn. I am going to try my hardest for it not to be a time to go back to sadness too much, but to instead rejoice in what this past year has meant for us. I will always miss my sweet baby girl. I will always wonder what her eyes would have looked like, what her cry would have sounded like, what kind of voice she would have had, if she would have been tall like her dad or petite like me. I am choosing to find peace in knowing that she is in heaven with the best daddy there is.

Happy Birthday Nia Audrey! Mommy, Daddy, and Nehemiah love you and miss you so much!

Marriage Mondays: Life with Baby

I must admit that prior to having the baby I was concerned about how our marriage would be different. Essentially, we are each devoting a large portion of our time and attention to Nehemiah (and he requires so much!). I can see how easy it can be to neglect other things and people or even to put your marriage on the back burner. As much as I am really into the baby and his needs I realize that we have to work to protect our marriage. I do not want us to become one of those couples that lose themselves in their children. So I have been thinking of different things and ways to keep it healthy, fun, and vibrant! (Despite the lack of sleep!)

We definitely want to pick back up with our date nights, although we probably will not be ready to leave the baby until he is a little bit older. My mom mentioned on the last date night post a really good idea for an in house date night. I think that we will probably try that. I have a good friend who is a pretty good cook and seems to already be interested. (Hint, hint- you know who you are!) We have also discussed limiting social media after a certain time of day and just focusing on each other. One thing we also currently do that we both want to stop is eating on the couch in front of the television. Our goal is to have dinner every night at the dining room table. That way we can gaze into each other’s eyes and fall in love over and over again every evening! (LOL) We also used to take walks together and we really enjoyed them. That will probably be more of a family activity, but it is still a good way for us to connect and do something that promotes a healthy lifestyle. I also think that once the baby is on a good and solid schedule we can have time in the house where we can do fun things like game nights, art nights, movie nights, etc. And of course, physical intimacy is important so that will be an area of focus as well!

I am excited about getting some balance in our home and working to ensure that Joe and I stay connected. Did things change for you after having a baby? Any suggestions for how to keep things fresh after a baby?

 

IMG_1583                                                                       Joe and I during a walk recently.

Nursery Reveal

So Nehemiah has arrived (5 weeks early and all) and the nursery is finally complete! I guess it is a good thing that I did not wait until last minute to get everything done!

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I really stuck to what I put on the mood board for his room and tried to include as many elements as I could (although some were a bit too pricey and had to be cut).

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All of the wall art was made by Joe and myself and although he is probably glad to be done and to not have to hear my mouth about it all anymore, we both really enjoyed putting it altogether for our little man.

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Here is a reminder of what I planned for the room.

Nursery Mood Board

The only thing that is not pictured above is the bookshelf (the books are not placed on there in a presentable way) and the changing table (there is not anything special about it at all and like the bookshelf it is not really organized well). Now, the challenge will be in organizing and keeping his closet clean! Oh someday soon son you will be the one responsible for keeping your room clean and organized! Until then, mommy will be pestering daddy about the best way to keep your closet organized!

 

Most of the pictures in this post were taken by my brother, Korey Walker, aka the iPhone photographer! HAHAHAHA!

Why the Name Nehemiah?

When we first found out we were having a son we decided that his name was going to start with a J. I loved the thought of having a house full of children with all J names (kind of like one of my favorite reality TV families, the Duggars!). We sat down and discussed a variety of names and finally settled on one that we liked… or so we thought. The name was biblical and as we studied and read more about the individual in the Bible who carried this name the more we knew it was not the right name for our son. With our first child, Nia we decided that we were going to name our kids with N names and came up with a short list of boy and girl names and Nehemiah was on that list. My fear led me away from that name for a long time, even though I loved it and loved what it meant.

Eventually, when reevaluating our name choice the name Nehemiah came up again and we just knew that it was right for him. In the Bible, Nehemiah was the person who basically grabbed the reins and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. He led the charge and took initiative. The biggest thing for me in his story is that he REBUILT the wall. As a family, we needed to be rebuilt. God was making us stronger through everything. I really feel like this past year has helped to prepare us to be better…better spouses, better friends, better parents, etc. In a lot of ways it has been our rebuilding year. A season where we have been able to really refocus on God and our personal relationships with Him. A time where we have been able to pursue different things that we have avoided or been afraid to start (like this blog). A year where God has truly been able to work on us from the inside out.

Finally, Nehemiah means ‘to be comforted by God’. That meaning really struck me because through it all that was one of my prayers. I prayed that God would comfort me. I prayed that He would hear my cry. I prayed that He would answer me and let me know that it was truly Him. God is so good and so merciful… He sent me Nehemiah.