First-time Mom

There’s nothing quite like a first-time mom. 

I tried to read the list entitled, “Ruby’s Schedule,” outloud to my family when I found it in the mail just last week. But I could barely speak for laughing. At myself. Ruby, now almost 15 years old, just looked at me, confused.

Evidently, my mother was coming to watch Ruby when she was a baby so Josh and I could get away for a night. A night. One single night. I left instructions for my mom and 14 years later she found them and sent them to me in the mail.

I carefully positioned dashes next to what should happen every 10 minutes or less. I suppose I intended my mom to check off each “event” as it happened. And I included many clarifying details in case my mom was still confused after reading the basic command.

“________ Ruby wakes up

(Go downstairs with her and she will play on her blanket with her toys or standing at her table while you fix her bottle)

  _________ Feed Ruby her bottle”

Yes, mom, don’t let baby Ruby who cannot even walk yet go downstairs alone. And also, duh, she made a bottle. Ruby is the only baby in the house. Probably a safe bet that she would feed that bottle she just made to Ruby. But thanks for the clarification, Kristy.

“________ Ruby will take a bath

(Dry off, diaper, lotion, brush hair, etc and dress in whatever you want)”

Because obviously this woman I call mother wouldn’t know to DRY OFF the wet baby?!? Again, what in the world was I thinking? She successfully raised three kids of her own. Someone should have reminded me of this fact before I printed this hilariousness.

I take some solace in the last part though, “dress in whatever you want.” I didn’t have Ruby’s clothes pre-picked out for my mother, so I must have been a teeny-tiny bit laid back…maybe?

Maybe not. 

But what got me rolling in laughter was the second page of directions under “BATH TIME.” 

  “This is a fun time for her especially if you are giving her constant attention.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This is code for : Please, mother, pay close attention to Ruby while she is in the tub of water lest she drowns on your watch.

In my defense (really, there is none), my mom came to stay with Molly when she was only 7 weeks old because Ruby was in the hospital for four days due to septic knee. Miraculously, when I returned home, Molly was sleeping through the night. I was totally surprised! 

“So, you never had to get up in the night with Molly crying for a bottle??” I had asked my mom.  

“No, I never heard her cry one bit,” she confidently replied.

Molly probably realized pretty quick that Sweety is near-deaf and wasn’t gonna hear her crying, so she might as well sleep through the night.

My point being that my mom is pretty laid back or maybe can be easily distracted, so the extra details were just for my peace of mind in case Sweety had forgotten anything about taking care of a baby.

What a text book “first time mom” I was!!!

We tend to think “first time mom” refers only to that first year or two when your whole world is rocked and you start to come to terms with how very little sleep you will be getting and how this little person has shaken up every part of your life. I was the shocked young mom waking up in the middle of the night to feed my new baby. Yes, I survived the toddler years and even taught her how to read and tie her shoes. But I am still a “first time mom” to a 14 year old girl that has emotions and opinions and a mouth and face to express them. I am still “first time mom” as I am signing her up for Drivers Ed classes. Still wanting to make all the right decisions, give her opportunities to grow and develop her interests, still wanting the absolute best for her. I still worry—not that she will drown in the tub if my mom isn’t paying attention—but if she will make good friends, find her true identity in Christ, and live for Him instead of herself. As my first born enters each new phase, I go there with her as a “first time mom.” 

What’s a “first time mom” to do with all this potential for worry? 

Crawl onto her heavenly Father’s lap and remember that she is His child.

Psalm 131 gives us a beautiful picture of a weaned child resting against his mother.  The weaned child no longer needs milk, but is growing and advancing and gaining strength. The child no longer is in hysterics for milk, wondering if he is going to get what he needs, but has come to trust and relax that his mom is taking care of his needs and that child has a composed and quieted soul. And all of us moms {and dads!} are invited to remember Whose child we are. 

God is the One that cares for each of my kids more than I do. He is the One who never takes His eyes off of each one of them. He is the One who knows what they need and when they need it. He is the One who hears and understands their cries. He is able to take care of it all. And He is able to take care of me in these same ways! What an encouragement. 

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,

Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;

Like a weaned child rests against his mother,

My soul is like a weaned child within me.

O Israel {first time mom}, hope in the Lord

From this time forth and forever. (Psalm 131)

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February {how I loathe you}

I suppose I should post something about this longest shortest month. Gah! I am sooooo ready for some sunshine and warm temps. These cold, dark, rainy, days are just not fun. We have had such randomness going on around here that I don’t have the chunk of time I would like to sit and write. I think about things I am learning in my Bible, funny stories from around our house, and other stuff we have going on, but I have yet to take the time to devote to putting words together to communicate any of it.

But I would like to one day!!

Instead, I looked through my phone and thought I should upload some photos to keep things somewhat up to date. It turns out I take a lot of photos of my dog.

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We had a fun Valentine’s Day! We went to see a couple of widows from our church, and we really enjoyed getting to know them. I only snapped a photo of one of the ladies…I forgot at the second house. But Ms. Charlotte was so kind and so appreciative of having some folks to talk with.

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Can you believe she is 94?! She was amazingly sharp and offered some sweet advice about marriage. She said, “Just love each other. My husband and I loved each other and did everything together.” I definitely love Josh, but we have not mastered that doing everything together part. Maybe that comes later in life. I don’t know….

She also told us that she loves talking to God, even out loud sometimes because He is always with her. I loved that. I have learned that truth in new ways since our move, but it was a reminder that it will always be true. God is always with me and listens to my prayers.

Mack sent Josh a text Valentine.

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And we got the kids some Valentine treats.

Each kid got a framed verse, which I thought was a great gift. Mack, however, took his verse out and put in a drawing of a UGA player. I was like, “Mack! What happened to your verse??” He said it looked way too girly in his room, but that I could have it.  Well, thanks.

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This past weekend our city hosted the NBA Allstar Weekend. Josh and I were Uptown Saturday night and enjoyed our beautiful city–and there weren’t any major crowds either! When I see the skyline and notice how pretty it is, I am reminded that God has developed a love for our new city in my heart. And I am thankful.

 

18 years

Josh and I celebrated 18 years of marriage yesterday! We have grown so much as husband and wife. I love the life we share so very much, and I cannot imagine life without him.

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This photo above was in 1997 when we started dating in Cochran, Ga at Middle Georgia College. We were actually out and about (mudding) in Newkirk’s gold chevy SUV.

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This is a photo from our honeymoon that I created in the Waterlogue app. Life was so simple during these days. Wow.

IMG_2009.jpgAnd here is a little 2001/2019 photogrid. We have changed, for sure. Time has a way of doing that…and moves and three kids in less than three years, and more moves, job changes, loss, and just life in a broken world. But who we are as a couple today is so much better than who we were as a couple on day one.  No doubt, this statement would have fired me up in my younger years. “I love him so much, even on our wedding day!!!” And I did. But love grows and matures over time.

Not automatically. Not naturally. It takes hard work, effort, commitment, purity, selflessness, compromise, understanding, forgiveness, humility, laughter, wisdom, prayer, and did I mention hard work?

Josh has been gone for almost two weeks, so he sent me flowers for our anniversary. They are gorgeous!

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The other night the kids wanted Bojangles. I don’t usually eat it, so I was having hot tea by the fire while they ate and talked and acted silly. {that is what all kids do at dinner when dad is away, right?} As I looked in there at the huge, beautiful flowers, I was overwhelmed with what the love between Josh and me has produced in our lives. Three of which are these kids. They are some blessed children. They have parents that live under the same roof, love each other completely, love them completely, and provide for them above their needs. We seek God and honor Him as the head of our family.

I am beyond grateful for the 18 years of being ONE with Josh. He is simply the best.

Following Me?!

In this day of having “followers” via The Instagram, I was captured by a thought the other morning in my time with the Lord. I had been listening  to “The Goodness of God” on repeat for days; it is a new song by Bethel Music that is so amazing. I was thinking over and over of the faithfulness of God in my life recently and over the course of my almost 42 years of life. It’s almost too much to take in really.

The fabulous news I was captured by is found in Psalm 23, verse 6. It tells me I have some magnificent “followers” in my life.  And if you are a believer, you have some pretty amazing “followers” in your life, too!

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

It’s true. God is good and loving, and He’s got His goodness and lovingkindness following after me. When I spend time reflecting on this truth I feel like my heart could explode. What a truth to cling to and enjoy and think on.

With these two following me, I need not wonder if I am liked or loved or understood or accepted. God has His eye on me! He is with me. That will always be enough!

Take a listen to this song!

AROUND THE HOUSE

Josh may decide to hide all hammers and nails next time he leaves town. I have this thing with hanging stuff on the walls. Maybe because when I was growing up my family didn’t hang pictures…or curtains…or much of anything that made moving more difficult. With my dad being a builder/contractor we would sometimes move into houses that he had built that hadn’t sold. But if anyone decided they wanted to take over that payment every month, we would move and gladly let them have it. Bare walls and all.

Well, one of the first things I ever do when we move is start hanging stuff. Making marks on the walls. And I don’t ever really stop. If there’s a bare wall, I can usually figure out what to hang on the wall. To me, it symbolizes HOME.

So as I was cleaning out school room stuff and wondering what to do with the kids’ art work, I decided the stairway wall had been bare too long. Enter hammer and nails. And a non-perfectionist that isn’t afraid of a gallery wall.

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Precious drawings and paintings. And a couple of excerpts from a couple of the kids’ favorite books. And a little saying my mom said to me and I said to our kids many, many a night.

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A little more bare wall remains up the stairwell for any more precious items or photos I want to frame and hang! I will save them for the next time Josh goes out of town. He usually likes the finished product, but can’t quite handle my less-than-precise way of working.

 

Swipe Right–thoughts and take-aways

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I enjoyed reading Swipe Right  by Levi Lusko, though I thought I was buying his newest book, I Declare War. I guess I will just have to buy that one next. We had been watching his sermon series, “You in Five Years,” and I wanted to read one of his books. This one includes humorous stories, sobering stories and draws straight lines from God’s Word to daily living. He is an honest writer. I appreciate that. No fluff. Just straight-forward talk with real-life illustrations. Here are a few thoughts and take-aways:

Reminder to trust God’s Word over feelings every time: Trust your instrument. Don’t rely on feelings. “Just as a pilot needs instruments he can trust, you need objective indicators for your soul. Your feelings aren’t irrelevant; they just can’t rule your life. Monitor them, but don’t trust them. Rather, run them through an objective filter, so that even when you feel like doing wrong, you can spot the danger and choose to avoid it.” (page 47, Chapter 4)

Reminder to persevere and be hopeful that God is at work: Samson’s hair grew back!! Lusko provides encouragement for those who feel defeated by their sin. He also reminds us to be patient and to never give up. He tells about a tree being ripped out of their front yard and leaving a bare spot on their lawn. He decided to let his kids put down the soil and seeds and to water them. One of the daughters was so disappointed when the growth wasn’t seen immediately. He could see himself in her reaction. “We give twenty years to the devil and two weeks to God, and then expect everything to change overnight. … You’ve just got to do the hard yards of walking with Jesus. …growing fruit takes time and flourishing takes work.” (page124, Chapter 8)

“Before a tree is a tree, it is an acorn. An entire building springs out of a simple blueprint. World-changing inventions leap off of sketches hastily scribbled on napkins. Victory comes to those who can see past the seed. Harvests look nothing like the kernel that produced them.” (page 186, Conclusion)

Reminder to Work Hard at Marriage: “Marriages are like saving accounts: they have only what you put there through sacrifice over time, but the more you invest and the more patient you are, the more it will pay off.” (page 151, Chapter 10)

Reminder to Remember that Heaven is Our True Home: “Your treasure is not in this life but in the next. You are just passing through, waiting for a city whose builder is God, a kingdom that can’t be shaken. There’s no stronger motivation than anticipation.” (page 193, Conclusion)

Thankful for the work God does in a life and for their willingness to do the hard work of putting words and thoughts together to encourage and challenge others. Happy Reading!

 

Little by Little.

What a difference a year makes! 

That’s not really completely true unless you’re referring to the height of one of your adolescent-aged kids.

For me, I would reflect on this past year and say, “What a difference getting to the gym/trainer 3 times a week and sweating my butt off as I ran, pushed the sled, squatted, did bicep curls, glute bridges, lunges, planks and more for 52 weeks in a row makes!” Now that would be true. The year was going to pass by minute by minute, day by day, month by month no matter what I did or did not do. 

Little by little my waist shrunk, my mood lifted, my energy rose, my strength increased, my confidence was built, my food choices improved. I have abs, y’all! I don’t just believe by faith that they are under there; I can actually see them with my eyes!

Little by little. 

It’s not the way I would have wanted it to happen. I mean, if I could not go to the gym and not do the hard things Gym Tim told me to do, if I could sit on the couch and eat all my favorite foods and still lose weight and feel great, well then, I would have done that. I am not exactly a person up for a challenge just for the fun of it. But we all know change doesn’t happen overnight.

Change happens as a result of choices made over and over.  Levi Lusko has an awesome sermon series entitled “You in Five Years,” and in it he says that ongoing consistency is greater than short-term intensity. I agree.

For example, it would have done me no good to starve myself for two weeks and then give up on that plan because I didn’t see the results I wanted and eating very little is not sustainable. 

It would have done me no good to work out for 8 hours five days in a row and then burnout and hurt myself and never go back to the gym.

What helped me get results was plugging along little by little. Driving to the gym when I didn’t feel like it. (Showing up was half the battle!) Once I was there, I would do what I was supposed to do. I might huff and puff and even roll my eyes some times, but I did it! Little by little. No one is an overnight fit and healthy person.

Another way I could fine-tune the “What a difference a year makes” statement is “What a difference getting up early and starting my day in God’s Word almost every day of this year makes.” I was able to read through the entire Bible this past year, and I cannot even begin to put into words all the Lord did in my heart and soul. Truth is, I can’t see all that will come of that time sown in His Word. But I know I never wasted a second when I was reading Scripture, meditating and praying. Again, the year would have ticked along whether or not I started my day with God. I am so thankful God is so faithful and loving and draws close to His children. Little by little is the road of sanctification. No one is an overnight spiritual superhero. 

Lusko also tell his audience that in five years you will just be an exaggerated form of current you. Are you kind to people? You will likely be more kind in five years if you keep heading in that direction. Are you greedy? You will likely be more greedy in five years if you keep heading in that direction. Are you generous? You will likely be more generous. Are you overweight? Unless you change some things, you will likely be more overweight. Are you healthy and fit? You will likely be even more fit in five years if you keep it up! Are you a complainer? You will likely be even more a complainer unless you decide to change. 

Change is possible! I am living proof in the area of health. Man, I was unhealthy and mentally in a not-good place this time last year. It has encouraged me to keep on keeping on because little by little you can change. Little by little. Step by step. Morning by morning. The year will pass no matter my choices. I pray I am able to keep making good ones! There is always room for improvement and growth. YOU CAN DO IT!