Why I Quit Social Media

Social Media has become something of a phenomenon in today’s culture. It has provided jobs for people as “influencers,” it’s kept people in touch from all over the world, it’s provided a way to build community with those we’ve never met before and it’s also allowed us to gain boldness about specific movements and passions that we might never have had the confidence to stand up for before and not to mention, a good way to bargain shop (Facebook marketplace. Am I right?! 🙋🏻‍♀️). All these reasons have drawn me in to social media and in many ways have kept me addicted for years. I first got a MySpace account in eighth or ninth grade (more than 15 years ago)! I’ve never thought twice about having active social media accounts but over the last year, I’ve had some thoughts on my heart that has caused me to form more of a love-hate relationship with social media. As with anything, all good things can be used improperly when your heart isn’t focused on God.

Over the last 15 years, social media has been a huge blessing to me. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I may have never gone out on a date with my husband, Zach! However, as grateful as I am for the help that Facebook provided me with finding a husband, I’ve also felt like its done a disservice to me, also. I believe God has been slowly chiseling away at my heart and allowing me to identify the downfalls that have led me to say enough is enough and part with the very addictive platforms that social media has become. Lately, I’ve had several people ask me exactly why I deleted my social media and that really isn’t an easily answered question in just one sentence. In fact, many different factors have played a role in my final decision to delete permanently and so I figured I’d share my reasons.

  1. Pride, Popularity & Identity// Who doesn’t want to be liked? Every picture or post I put on social media is a way that I can get satisfaction and attention from other people. As much as I love displaying my life as “perfect,” it is far from that. Social media is reels of our everyday life but very seldom do we put “real” things on our social media that may expose our sin. Instead, we express ourselves like we have it all together and live the perfect life in hopes that we will get more likes or more follows. For me, it’s been easy to become prideful and worse, it’s been so easy to find my self-worth and identity in social media when it should be rooted in God. Social media is a place where we can easily glorify ourselves, it’s even widely accepted. How can we glorify a God is who is so good when we are so focused on our own vanity?
  2. Comparison// If any of you know me personally or have read my blog for awhile, then you will know that I’ve had two babies 19 months apart and I just had my second baby 12 weeks ago! You will also know that I have really struggled with my weight and appreciation of my post-baby bod. To be honest, most of that is because of social media. After having my son, the first couple months post-partum I was so incredibly proud of my body and what it did to produce a human that I wasn’t ashamed of my “new body” until I started scrolling through social media and seeing these women who looked as if they had gone right back to their pre-baby bod a mere few weeks after having a baby. That’s when I began to compare my self-worth to others. If my body wasn’t bouncing right back after birth, then I wasn’t worthy or beautiful. It’s also been easy to compare my lifestyle, my job, my fashion sense, my beauty, etc. to others. If I didn’t measure up in that way, I’d feel unworthy. God made us in His own image. He made us beautiful and He loves us no matter what people think of us. Our worth is not in this world, it’s in Him.
  3. A Movement Platform// Social media has become a place where controversial topics are brought to life and somehow gain momentum in propelling specific “passions” and “beliefs” forward. I think with this opportunity, we’ve become bolder on social media then we could ever be in person. That comes as both a huge advantage and disadvantage. With that being said, it’s unfortunately become a place that can easily cause division amongst individuals. I’ve been guilty of this very thing. Thankfully, we live in a country where we have freedom of speech and are entitled to our own opinions. What a blessing that is! Something we must remind ourselves of, however, is to not allow these “passions” to become a distraction to glorifying God. I’ve noticed how much some of these things can really consume people’s lives and seemingly, drive them away from God. 2020 has been a crazy year, to say the least. I truly believe that social media has played a huge, gigantic role in causing even more division amongst individuals than anything else in our culture. I mean, just scroll through Facebook and watch Instagram stories and you’ll see the arguments of Trump vs Biden, vaccinations vs anti-vaccinations, masks vs no masks, COVID is real vs COVID is a political hoax, unmedicated childbirth at home vs medicated childbirth at a hospital, sleep training babies vs not sleep training babies, essential oils vs pharmaceutical drugs, riots vs peaceful protests and the list never ever ends…… Just typing that out causes me anxiety. I can’t tell you how many times I got angry from someone’s posts about things like this. Then it dawned on me, Where is my focus? How does any of that bring God glory? How can I love people through those movements I don’t agree with?
  4. Addiction// I have a highly addictive personality. It’s one reason I don’t drink. But because of this, it’s easy to get addicted to things. In this case, I’ve been very addicted to social media over the years. I constantly check social media throughout the day, especially since I’ve been in a season of nursing my daughter. It’s so easy to just pull my phone out and scroll while I’m feeding her and it’s become a mindless task I do over and over, even with a 22 month old toddler running around me. I’ve been so addicted that it has become one of my husband’s pet peeves. He has constantly commented on how often I’m on my phone and how this addiction can effect the time I spend with him or my children. It’s becoming more convicting the more and more my son sees my phone and desires to play with it. I don’t want my son to be addicted to technology the way I am.
    Several weeks ago, we watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. If you have Netflix and haven’t watched it, I recommend you do! It was eye opening. I knew that social media had a lot of information about us but I had no idea the extent of information they have on each person. Each advertisement we see on social media is because they pay attention to the things we type in search engines, the things we purchase online and the things we talk about on our profiles so that they can get paid by those advertisements we click on! They know us even better than we do so they know exactly the type of things to put on our newsfeed that we end up spending what was supposed to be a quick five minutes online to easily thirty minutes or more. We’ve become slaves to social media and to our electronic devices! I was a slave to social media. It consumed me. One of my biggest motivators of taking photos was so that I could post it on social media. I even catch myself now when I take a photo because my first thought is “I should post this photo” but then I remember I no longer have any social media accounts.
  5. Loving Other People// God has called us to love one another and because of that, our greatest desire should be discipling and pushing each other more towards Christ everyday. I’ve been guilty of holding grudges towards people who haven’t shared the same viewpoints as me. I’ve been guilty of getting mad at people when I’d see a picture of their get-together I wasn’t invited to. I’ve been guilty of judging the way people present themselves online versus in person. I’ve been guilty of not loving people well because I’ve been personally hurt by them. Bottom Line: My focus hasn’t been on God and instead I’ve been so focused on myself and my emotions and what I see on social media that I’ve forgotten to love people. My husband and I lead a connection group at our church and I’ve been guilty of not loving the people within my group because of assumptions, opinions and hurts all acquired through social media. I’ve allowed the things I’ve seen about people online affect the way I feel about them and treat them. I wasn’t and haven’t been truly loving people. I believe this reason was definitely the final straw that broke the camel’s back for me when it came to deleting my social media permanently. My lack of love for people was consuming my thoughts instead of allowing God’s love for me to pour over into others.

I have now been without social media for almost a month. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I miss about it. I had it for more than half of my life! I miss Facebook Marketplace (such an easy way to find such good local deals), I miss all of the photos I’ve accumulated over the last 15 years, I miss my mom groups and I miss seeing photos of friends’ big milestones (getting married, traveling, having babies, etc). However, the overarching feeling I’ve had since deleting it has been…. freedom. Freedom from an addiction to my phone. Freedom from finding worth and value in what others think of me. Freedom from only loving others who share the same opinions and beliefs as me. Freedom to enjoy precious moments with my two young kiddos. Freedom to have intentional and meaningful conversations with my hubby. Freedom and time to meet with and disciple young girls. Freedom from so many sins that resulted from social media for me. It has been weirdly enjoyable to be away from it! If you have struggled with any of these things like I have, I would challenge you to pray about what God would have for you and seek Him first! Social media can be used for His glory too but we must be intentionally focused on our Creator and remember what we should be spending our time worshipping.

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Our Sweet Girl Is Born | Galilee’s Birth Story

On Sunday July 12, I woke up at around 3am and got out of bed to go to the bathroom. As soon as I sat up, I felt a gush of fluid. I honestly thought I had peed myself but I knew from other people’s stories that it most likely had to be my water breaking. I went to the bathroom and noticed that it was a pinkish color and I knew that that was what it was. I woke up Zach and started getting dressed. I’ve been having what I thought were Braxton Hicks for weeks (since 30 weeks or so). They seemed to be pretty constant but I never noticed any pain that would lead me to think they were the real thing or to start timing them. I knew though that if my water did break that meant that I needed to go to the hospital to get checked out regardless of how far apart any contractions were so I didn’t really bother with timing them. 

Thankfully, my mom had arrived on Saturday July 11. Talk about God’s perfect timing! After we got everything packed up and ready to go, we woke up my mom and made sure everything was good on her end to watch Titus before we headed out. 

As soon as we got to the hospital, the OB in triage tested the fluid and checked my cervix. To my surprise, I was already 3 1/2cm dilated (a vast difference from going in at 41 weeks with Titus and only being dilated 1cm) and it was confirmed that my water had broken. We were excited to know that we’d be meeting our sweet girl by the end of the day! They monitored baby girl’s heart rate and my contractions for a little bit. The contractions I was having were about 7-8 minutes apart. It still surprises me that I wasn’t in much pain. Zach thinks I may have been having real labor contractions for days and just never knew it. But once they admitted me, they decided that I should be put on Pitocin to get my contractions closer together. To be honest, I’m not completely sure what the exact reason was they put me on Pitocin. I assume it was because they wanted to get baby out within 24 hours of my water breaking to prevent infection or maybe it was to just ensure that I continued to dilate and make me progress quicker. Whatever the reason, that is what happened. 

They started me on Pitocin around 6:30-7am and I labored on my own for quite awhile. We were even able to stream Anthem’s church service while I labored. I guess that’s a positive of the covid pandemic…livestream church is so easily accessible! They checked my cervix again at 1pm and I was dilated to about 7 1/2-8cm. Soon after that, they increased the Pitocin and my contractions were PAINFUL. It was finally to the point that I could no longer handle them on my own and I decided to get an epidural. 

My epidural experience with Titus was easy peasy and pretty painless. This time, however, I was lucky enough to get a resident that had to dig around in my back and restick me twice to get the epidural correctly set. In the meantime, I was fighting contraction after contraction while hunched over in a fetal position and trying not to move. Because of the longer process, I strained the muscles in my neck and back pretty badly trying to compensate for not moving while I had uncomfortable pressures and pains in my back from getting the epidural set. Finally, it was set and I was pain free. Despite the rough epidural, I’m so thankful for modern medicine and being able to be more comfortable throughout the rest of labor! 

After I had the epidural, I struggled with terrible back and neck pain from straining. The nurse helped me get on all fours so that she and Zach could massage my back and neck. It was so incredibly painful! I labored for quite some time and even though I figured I was probably fully dilated by around 3 or 4pm, they were hesitant to check my cervix. I think they wanted to check me as little as possible since my water had already been broken. By the time 6pm rolled around, my contractions seemed to have stalled a bit. It scared me because I was worried that that meant that they may have to take a more scary route for delivery. But, it turns out that wasn’t the case! The resident OB came in and checked me and discovered I had a forebag. The forebag is a portion of the fluid-filled amniotic sac that bulged into the cervical canal in front of the fetal head. So basically, it was blocking baby from making her debut. As soon as they popped that, I was fully dilated and ready to push! My theory is that I was fully dilated for awhile because I pushed for 10 minutes and out she came! 

Miss Galilee Estelle made her debut at 7:00pm on July 12, 2020. She weighed 7lbs 13 oz 20.5 in. I can’t believe how much smaller she was then Titus! Fun fact: she gets to share a birthday with my sister, Jenna! Happy birthday, sis!

Labor and delivery went smoothly and overall, I had a great experience! My post partum has been quite a bit tougher, though. Due to the resident having to poke me multiple times to set my epidural, I had a spinal headache that I’ve been fighting for my whole first week postpartum. Never have I ever had something so painful. It was so painful in that it made it hard to even want to nurse Galilee or even sit up in bed. We ended up staying an extra day at the hospital in hopes of getting it under control. I got a blood patch to help alleviate some of the pain. It’s helped some but it has definitely been a long week trying to recover. I’m so thankful my mom and Zach have been able to take care of Titus and Galilee while I recover because I was incapacitated for days. Praise God, it seems that I am beginning to come out of it and I’m starting to feel more like myself! Im currently still not 100% yet but I definitely am able to function again and actually enjoy my life. It’s crazy how quickly we take our health for granted. Thank you, Jesus, for good health! If I’ve learned anything, it’s definitely learning to thank God for a body that functions properly everyday.

Now, a week after having little miss Galilee and it’s still sinking in that I have two children. My quiver is full! I’m thanking God everyday for the two little blessings he’s given to me and I’m just enjoying how faithful God truly is!

God is Still & Always Working

It is the beginning of April and if you would have said a few short months ago that we would be on lockdown from the COVID-19 virus outbreak in the US, I would have thought you were nuts! But, here we are, going on three weeks of the Missouri statewide (and now nationally) mandated order to stay-at-home in hopes of “flattening the curve” of Caronavirus cases and not overwhelming our healthcare systems. Though I’m thankful that Missouri has been a more proactive state on flattening the curve and this week I’ve been more encouraged about what our new foreseeable future looks like, this has been one of the hardest seasons I think I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. God has definitely been using this tough season to strengthen my faith and trust in Him. It’s been a tough season not only because of the COVID-19 virus but it’s also been made tough in regards to our baby girl’s health.

In the previous two blog posts, I gave an update about finding out that we are expecting a little girl in July but also that the ultrasound initially showed that our girl’s ventricles in her brain were outside normal measurements. This is called Mild Ventriculomegaly. We were referred to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist and were told that this finding could be associated with genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, Trisomy 13, 18, etc. You can read about those updates here and here. Since those two blog posts were written, my follow-up ultrasound at 24 weeks was on March 31. Their goal was to get more photos of our girl’s head and to monitor the size of the ventricles in her brain. There was a 90% chance that she’d grow out of the Mild Ventriculomegaly and after receiving our bloodwork a few weeks before which showed that she was Low Risk (basically negative; a 1 in 10,000 chance) for all genetic abnormalities, I felt much more at peace going into the ultrasound knowing that our girl was healthy. The anxiety prone person that I am would usually still be thinking “what if her ventricles still aren’t normal despite the bloodwork?” but I do believe over the last month God has really shown me that all I can really do is to trust Him and just let Him take care of everything. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Zach and Titus were not allowed to accompany me to this ultrasound. Though, I do believe God truly gave me peace over the last few weeks, I was confident going into it alone knowing that everything would be just fine!

The ultrasound went great and she cooperated so they could get all the additional photos they needed of her little body! The MFM doctor took a look at the ultrasound photos of her brain and they were within normal measurements! He gave me the happiest news when he said that our girl was HEALTHY and that we no longer had to follow-up with him throughout this pregnancy! What a sigh of relief! I can’t help but thank God for His goodness and just taking care of us throughout this difficult season.

Our sweet baby girl! Zach and I think she looks so similar to her big brother, Titus!

Because of the many discouraging things going on right now with the COVID-19 outbreak and the last month of not knowing what the future would hold with the state of our girl’s health, it’s been hard to see anything as positive. I’ve been guilty of having this mindset far too often. BUT, our girl’s health has been a great reminder to me over the course of this last month that GOD IS STILL AND ALWAYS WORKING even when we can’t see it. The year 2020 has been quite the rollercoaster already but it has never been anything God hasn’t been in control of. In fact, He’s been in control of this whole crazy season all along and STILL IS.

Though God has been taking us all through a similar season of difficulty with the viral outbreak, I’ve really been reminded and encouraged of all the WORK GOD IS DOING around us right now. The fact that our baby girl is healthy is proof that God has been working, not just because she is healthy but because through this, He has strengthened our faith and trust in Him. The fact that there are so many people out there working on the front lines to protect us is proof that God is working. The fact that I see almost daily on my social media newsfeed that babies are still being born healthy in hospitals during a pandemic and that people are being healed from far worse medical issues is proof that God is working. The fact that people are still deciding to get pregnant during a pandemic is proof that God is working. The fact that people are drawing nearer to God in a time such as this is proof that God is working. Guys, God is working miracles in front of our eyes!! We just need to open our eyes to see the awesome work He’s currently doing and stop allowing the devil to divert our thoughts to the things we have no control over. It’s been so reassuring to me how God is using this time of suffering to draw His people (and those who don’t yet know Him) closer to Himself just through the very stories I’ve read, heard about and mentioned above. So, I hope that if you are currently feeling discouraged, fearful or unsure of what the next few months hold, just remember that God has got this and He IS and ALWAYS WILL BE WORKING! Our future is full of hope because GOD CONTINUES TO GO BEFORE US! Feel free to reach out to me if you need prayer or encouragement during this time. I’d love to pray for you and offer up a virtual hug! Love you all and am looking forward to seeing how God will continue to work through this season of life!

We’ve really enjoyed our nightly routine of family walks!
Baby girl at 25 weeks.

Update on our Little Girl

Last week, after our 20 week ultrasound, we received concerns about our little girl’s ventricles in her brain and how they were slightly outside the normal range (and by slightly, I mean by 1 mm) and because they were outside normal range, there were concerns that she could be at risk for genetic abnormalities like Trisomy 13, 18, 21 (Down Syndrome) and sex chromosome abnormalities. You can read last week’s updates here. Although there was a 90% (or higher) chance that she was perfectly healthy, they recommended I do the prenatal blood screening for these abnormalities. So, Zach and I both decided that we’d go ahead and get that blood test for further confirmation that our girl was healthy. We were told that it could take up to 10 business days to receive our results.

Oh my goodness, let me tell you….waiting 1 day, let alone 10 days, has been BRUTAL. A time of waiting, living in a state of unknown has definitely been a spiritually growing and trying time for me. This last week has been a test of my faith, for sure. Despite having two doctors optimistic that our girl would be healthy, despite the high percentage rate (90%) of babies being born healthy with larger than normal ventricles, despite the fact that they did not see any other physical abnormalities in the ultrasound, despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that my baby girl is most likely healthy, my faith has definitely been tested. I’ve felt like a rollercoaster of emotions over the past 10 days. One minute I’m at peace and confident that God is keeping our girl healthy and safe, the next moment I’m on the train to “What-if town” and imagining the worst case scenario. It’s been a constant fight to remain steadfast in my faith and trusting that God has got it all taken care of. I know that day by day he’s been chiseling me into a more godly version of the woman He wants me to become and I’m thankful for that but that doesn’t mean it’s come without painful hiccups and bumps along the way. There is nothing worth fighting for that isn’t going to come with challenges, especially when it comes to trusting God in the unknown. If we want to grow spiritually, unfortunately, trials like these are the best way to toughen us up a bit and to be one step closer to an unfailing faith. So here I am, pushing through this trial, not as gracefully as I’d like to but fighting through it to become a stronger woman of faith!

Well, folks, our waiting finally came to a close this afternoon. After waiting 6 out of the 10 proposed business days for the genetic screening results, a nurse from the Maternal-Fetal Medicine department finally called and gave me the message I have been waiting to hear for the last 10 days! Our baby girl’s results were NEGATIVE for every marker they tested for! That means that our baby girl is HEALTHY!

If you have been following along in my faith journey through this blog the last few years or you know me personally but still haven’t been able to understand why I put my love and trust in Jesus Christ, this here is a great example of why you should put your trust in Him also! Despite being able to live in a country where we have the privilege of $2 million dollar ultrasound machines that can see so many bodily structures in an unborn child and can potentially find health concerns so early on in their little lives, I believe in a God that is even BIGGER! He has had a plan for our little girl since even before she was an embryo! He is a God that provides health, healing, comfort, redemption, forgiveness and never leaves our side no matter the circumstance. He is bigger then $2 million fancy shmancy ultrasound equipment, He is bigger then the extremely intelligent doctors we are blessed to have for our health care, He is bigger then any health concern that we might be facing, He is better than anything we can physically imagine! I truly, truly believe that there is absolutely power in prayer. I can’t even begin to thank the many, many people that have been praying for us over the last 10 days. We’ve truly had an ARMY praying for us and I do believe that God has heard every single one of them! So, to those of you that have been diligent in praying, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! I’ve felt every. single. one of them!

Even though we are not completely out of the park just yet, I still ask that you continue to pray with us that our sweet little girl continues to grow and develop as she should and that she cooperates for her next ultrasound coming up in a few weeks so they can get all the photos of her head and brain needed to solidify the fact that our girl is healthy! I also ask that you pray that the ventricles in her brain return back to a normal measurement. I’m thankful for the chiseling that God has been doing on my heart and faith these last 10 days and I will continue to work towards being a woman more steadfast in our amazing Savior!

2020 Family Update

Happy 2020, friends! We are just barely into March and already this year has rolled in with quite an exciting update! 

For those close family and friends that know us well, this specific family update isn’t necessarily new to you but to those who don’t know, our biggest update is that we found out in November 2019 that we are pregnant and will be welcoming a second little bundle of joy into our family in July 2020! It’s been so fun to reflect on God’s faithfulness as just a couple years ago we were unsure if we would ever be able to have children, let alone two! I sometimes can’t even believe that I am pregnant again! 

On Monday, March 2, we went in for our 20 week ultrasound. I did the same thing I did with Titus and clung to the truths in Psalm 139. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” As someone who struggles with anxiety and worry, these verses have been so comforting to me. God has had a plan for this little baby since before we even thought about having a second child so no matter what, this little life has been created for a purpose! I ended up having the same Ultrasound Technician as I did with Titus so we had great conversation and she did great about calming my nerves as she walked us through all body parts. After being in the appointment an hour, this little baby gave the technician quite an adventure as the technician still struggled to get many successful photos of the head measurements so we made an appointment to have another ultrasound in 4 weeks to finish getting the photos we needed.

After being torn throughout the first half of pregnancy on what the gender was, I decided that we were going to have another boy. Almost all of my friends who have been pregnant with their second babies were all having the same gender as their first so I figured that our odds for having another boy were quite high! However, I was surprised to find out that we will be welcoming a sweet baby GIRL! Zach had had a feeling it was a girl the entire time I’ve been pregnant and I was so happy that his “feelings” were accurate this time around! We left the appointment feeling excited and thankful for a healthy baby girl! 

Later that afternoon, I got a call from the Maternal-Fetal Medicine department scheduling me for an appointment on March 3. I was told that I needed to be seen by a doctor regarding results from the ultrasound. Those were the only details I was given. To be honest, I was absolutely terrified! I know that most of the people that get these calls never receive good news about their babies. That afternoon, Zach and I called and texted as many prayer warriors as we could think of because we were not sure what we were about to walk into with this appointment. 

We went to our appointment and talked with the doctor. He explained that in the middle of the brain, there is a space where the Cerebral Spinal Fluid is circulated throughout the brain and down to the spinal cord. They measure that space in the ultrasound and the normal measurement cutoff for that space in the brain is 10mm. Our girl’s measurement was 11mm, 1mm outside the normal range. He explained that being outside the normal range can be an indication of potential genetic abnormalities (Trisomy 13, 18, Down’s Syndrome, etc). However, 90% of the time, everything is just fine and baby is healthy. He said in most cases, they can usually see other signs for these abnormalities when they look at other parts of the body on the ultrasound but thankfully, they couldn’t see any abnormalities or other concerns with our girl. He recommended that we do the prenatal blood test that would screen for these genetic abnormalities so we decided to do that. We will find out the results in about 10 days and if it is negative, the test is 99% accurate. Thankfully, the doctor was optimistic that the baby is healthy and that everything will be all right as this can be a common concern for many patients. So, though, it’s not necessarily comforting news, Zach and I both left the appointment feeling more encouraged and more at peace then before.

The anxious and worrier prone person that I am, is still nervous. I still can easily get on the “what if” train but I’m choosing to trust God. We serve a big God. He’s the same God that made blind men see, made the lame walk and even brought dead people back to life. The whole Earth obeys His commands so we are choosing to believe that God is bigger than any “concern” or “measurement” they find on an ultrasound. We believe that God will whole heartedly keep our baby girl healthy and that she will pass the genetic screening and next ultrasound with flying colors! No matter what, our God is so good and He has designed our sweet girl on purpose, for a purpose. I do believe there is power in prayer so if you would join us in praying for our sweet girl over the next few weeks, I’d so greatly appreciate it! We will continue to pray for the genetic screening test to come back negative and that we are able to get better photos of her head to solidify that she is healthy in there! 

A big thanks goes out to our friends Katie and Chris for going all out and throwing an impromptu gender reveal for us at our church connection group. It was fun to forget about all the fears about her health and to instead celebrate our little girl and the life God is creating for her! I’m thankful for such great friends and people who also see the power in prayer and are joining us in our prayers for a healthy baby!

Where are you at with Jesus?

This past Tuesday, our connection group with our church started up and since our church is between a sermon series, we decided to start out this semester in group asking the question, “Where are you at in your relationship with Jesus?” The idea is to evaluate where we currently are in our relationship with Jesus and how we’d like to grow by the end of this semester.

Now I have to say, this question was super convicting to me. I have to admit, since I’ve had Titus, I let my quiet time with Jesus fall to the waste side. Having a newborn has completely changed the routines I was used to and because of that, I feel that I have been in survival mode and just trying to learn how to re-route my life as a mom. A new routine hasn’t come easily for me. Many mornings I’ve chosen sleep or getting housework done while he sleeps instead of sitting down and enjoying the peace and quiet time with Jesus. The less and less I’ve spent with Jesus, the more I think I can do everything on my own without him. But, that is so not true! I now have a little boy who will soon be watching and taking in every move I make. I want Titus to see how much his mother loves Jesus through my actions. So, bottom line… I need Jesus every day! So how do I do this?

I guess that brings me back to the question- Where am I with Jesus? To be honest, I have A LOT of growing I need to do. I have been unloving, I have been selfish, I have been hateful, I have been prideful, I have been anxious. The list goes on. Without Jesus, I am nothing. I can’t grow until I start taking charge and changing things. So, this week, I’ve made a list of things I’d like to improve on so that I can grow closer to Jesus this semester (and semesters after). My list looks like this:

  1. Be in the Word daily. My goal is to read my Bible every single day, even if that means I only get 5-10 minutes. Last year, my church did a Bible read through in a year. Well, embarrassingly, I never completed it so my goal this year, especially since I realistically won’t have a lot of time for studying scripture, is to actually read through the entire Bible.
  2. Memorize scripture weekly. It’s amazing how the more you memorize scripture, the more opportunities Jesus gives you to use the very scriptures you’ve memorized. So, my goal is to bring out the spiral notecards and begin memorizing one verse per week. Eventually, it’ll add up.
  3. Spend time in prayer daily. Prayer has always been hard for me. I’d say I’d pray for people, then I’d forget or I’d spend a ridiculously long time trying to pray for every single thing that it became unfeasible for me to pray efficiently everyday. So, later last year, I made a prayer journal outlining every day of the week and praying for specific things on each day. I found that the prayer journal helped me organize my prayers for people, things and situations and allowed me to pray more efficiently with the time I had available. It was amazing how much closer to Jesus I felt after spending that time in prayer consistently.
  4. Read Biblically saturated books. I am not a born reader. My sister could read a book in a weekend and I mean a 300 page book. I never could. However, in the last few years, I’ve tried to improve my interest in reading. I’ve actually enjoyed reading books that are biblically saturated and provide me with tools to grow in my relationship with Jesus. So, this semester, I’d like to read the books A Mother After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George and the Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. I’m excited to see how God challenges and teaches me through these books!
  5. Read parenting books on how to raise Godly children. The heaviest thing about being a parent is realizing that God has given us this little person, who is sinful and needs Jesus, to disciple and share the Gospel with. It is our responsibility to raise him in the ways of the Lord. If I’m honest with myself, looking at the way I live my life right now and how I represent Jesus, it terrifies me that Titus may never visibly see how important Jesus is to have in his heart. So, Zach and I have started reading Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. This book outlines how, as parents, we are to discipline our children, not out of anger or frustration, but by identifying the heart issue and redirecting their heart towards Jesus. I think it will definitely be helpful in redirecting my heart also. I pray everyday for Titus’s salvation and that he comes to know and love Jesus but ultimately, he has free will. I just pray that Zach and I can raise him with the proper tools to grow in his relationship with Jesus and that he realizes he needs Him in his heart. I hope this book will help us succeed in that!

Those are my goals for this semester (and I’m sure it will pour over into the next semester as well). I’m praying that committing to this list will bring me closer to Jesus! It will be tough to stick to these goals but hey, no one ever said growing was easy! Feel free to hold me accountable because I’m sure I will need it, especially since I’m still working at forming a new consistent routine. So, I ask you, where are you with Jesus? Is there room for improvement? I challenge you to make a list of areas you’d like to personally grow in in your relationship with Jesus. Let me know about it so I can pray for you and hold you accountable as well! Let’s make this year a year we can both grow spiritually!

The Pregnancy Chronicles: Welcome to the World, Titus Henry

Part VI

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2019 already! I have had so much I’ve wanted to share with you all before the new year but before I realized it, December just FLEW by. It seems like just yesterday that I brought my precious little boy into the world, but in reality, it’s been almost a month. Can you believe it?! A MONTH! Just thinking that makes this momma want to cry because it’s gone by so quickly.

The last time I posted, I talked about the agony of waiting and how I felt like I was never gonna get to meet my son. Well, my friends, that time FINALLY came! When I was pregnant, I absolutely loved hearing birth stories from my friends and fellow pregnant ladies. It always made me imagine what mine would be like and almost made me more excited for that day to come! So, I figured the best way to end my Pregnancy Chronicles series was to share my birth story with you all. It definitely didn’t go as planned but I am so proud of how our special day panned out and it was all worth it when we welcomed my precious Titus Henry into this world!

My original birth plan was to go into labor naturally and to have an unmedicated birth. I even hired a doula to help increase my chances for doing so. Well, my due date (December 5th) came and went with no sign of labor in sight. After discussing my desires to have a low intervention birth around 39 weeks, Dr Thies was supportive of my birth plan but didn’t feel comfortable with me going beyond 41 weeks. At that point, I was 39 weeks and super antsy to meet our little guy that I was okay scheduling an induction on December 12 because I’d be 41 weeks and figured I’d go into labor before that day came anyways. Plus, it was comforting to me to have an end in sight. With almost every other friend of mine delivering early, I was convinced I’d be no different. I guess Titus and God had different plans. Even though I wanted to go into labor naturally, I feel that God gave me a sense of peace with going through with the induction process if that’s how it panned out. Well, we finally made it to 41 weeks and D-Day had commenced (induction day was upon me).
We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 am. We got checked in, filled out paperwork and discussed different options for induction. We decided that beginning induction by using the Cook Catheter followed by Pitocin would be the best way to go. The Cook catheter was done first because I was only 1cm dilated and it would get me dilated to around 4-5cm. Then pitocin would continue afterwards. They placed the catheter at 8am. That’s when the beginning of contractions started. They were painful. They started pitocin a few hours afterwards. I didn’t dilate to 4.5cm until around 3pm that afternoon and that was when they decided to remove the catheter. Once that was removed, the contractions became immediately bearable. I was feeling like superwoman at that point because I could handle them so well! Around 7pm, Dr Thies came in and checked my cervix and to my surprise, I was only 5cm dilated. I was so upset and worried that I wasn’t progressing quickly enough. She recommended I break my water to start moving things along. I had initially discussed with my doula to deny getting my water broken unless it did it automatically but after talking with Thies, at the rate my contractions were currently going, I wasn’t dilating and the only way to really progress was to break my water. I agreed, much to my doula’s dismay. Not more than 10 minutes later, I experienced some of the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. From around 7pm to 1am I labored in every position and in every piece of equipment that was available and nothing seemed to help the pain of my contractions. By 1am, Thies came in to check my cervix again, at which point I was only 6cm dilated. I knew at that point that I could no longer go on without an epidural. Thies knew that if I continued on like I currently was and really unable to manage my pain, that I’d be out of energy when it came time to push. So, I decided that the epidural was the best decision. And man, I don’t regret it! That epidural was a game changer. Within minutes, I was able to find relief and even get several hours of sleep. Zach was able to sleep too as he was also pretty exhausted. I was only able to sleep in a sitting position on the bed however as Titus’s heart rate was all over the place and that was the only way he was happy. By 8am on December 13, I was finally at 8cm! Yay, I was getting closer! And by 9am I was at 9.5cm. Around 11am, I was finally at 10cm and was ready to push! I pushed for about 30-45 minutes and before I knew it, Titus made his grand debut at 11:41am! It was one of the best moments of my life to have that little chunky baby placed on my chest. After only 2 or so minutes of skin to skin time, the nurses pulled him off and rushed him over to the table to place the CPAP respirator and drain the liquid from his lungs. I was so nervous but kept praying that God would take care of him. I had peace that he’d be okay. About 25 minutes later, he was breathing well and brought back to me for a delayed skin to skin time. He weighed in at 9lb 1oz and was 21.25” long! I couldn’t believe a baby that size actually fit inside of my 5’3″ frame! Crazy!

Even though my birth plan didn’t go the way I planned and even the days leading up to the induction brought me lots of anxiety, I’m really happy with my experience during labor and delivery. I am no longer against epidurals because it made such a difference to me. It was easy to let the pressure of others get to me but honestly, I was proud of the way it turned out. I labored unmedicated for 18 hours! Most of the women I know that had unmedicated births didn’t labor for that long. Plus, I was able to get sleep before pushing so that the pushing didn’t last hours and hours. 28 hours was a long time to labor and I definitely hope that next time I go into labor it will be shorter but overall, every moment spent in that low intervention room was so worth it when I locked eyes with the most perfect little baby! I know God definitely had his hand on the whole process and I’m so thankful I get to be Titus’s mom!

Induction Day had commenced. We were so excited about meeting our little man!
Our first photo as a family of three!
I’m the mom to the most perfect little baby! Titus Henry, you are so loved!

Budgeting 101

When Zach and I learned we were expecting in April, we realized that we needed to start taking better care of our finances and getting some student loan debt paid down before his arrival. Even though I’d argue that we were never really “reckless” with how we spent our money, there were definitely places we could reign in (eating out, shopping, unnecessary purchases from Amazon….can any of you relate?!) so that we could save more money and pay down more debt. So, since we made that decision, we’ve been living on Zach’s salary as if we haven’t had mine. I believe that God calls us to be responsible stewards of our money as all of it is His anyways.  Since we’ve been working on our budgeting discipline and perfecting our tactics, I figured I’d share with you some of the things we’ve done that have made our budgeting a little bit easier. With a little discipline and hard work, regardless of how much money you make, I think anyone can be responsible financial stewards and pay down debt and STILL live a life that is fully rewarding with the money you make!

  1. Find a budgeting app that works for you! With the ease of smart phone apps, there are a million and one budgeting apps that you could use to help you reach your budgeting goals. Some of the apps that I’ve heard good things about are: Mint, Everydollar, PocketGuard and You Need A Budget (YNAB). Budgeting used to confuse me so much. Before we found an app that worked for us, I used to get stressed out because I was never sure how to organize our finances in a way that made sense and was functional for us. I suggest that if you want to start a budget, look into one of those apps mentioned above and try it out! We currently use the Everydollar app and love it so far. It can even be linked up with your bank account so that you know exactly how much you are spending in each category! Bottom Line: Find an app that works for you and stick with it!
  2.  Tithe, Tithe, Tithe. As Christians, we are called to give our first fruits (10% of our earnings) to God because after all, He provides for us and everything we own/earn is His anyways. It says in Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Zach and I have seen God provide for us over and over again because we have been faithful in consistently giving our first fruits of our earnings to Him. At times the finances didn’t mathematically add up and we were in a bind, but somehow, we’ve always survived and God has always provided for us. Even if it doesn’t mathematically seem feasible in your budget to consistently tithe, remember that God is in control and He will take care of you, regardless if the money adds up in your head or not! Start making tithing a part of your monthly budget and you won’t regret it!
  3. Use cash for all your monthly purchases. If you use cash for all purchases, then once you run out of it, you can’t overspend what you don’t have! We first got this idea from Dave Ramsey. He’s always taught that we should use cash for everything so that once the money in each category runs out, you’re done for the month and don’t spend outside of your means. We’ve made a few little adjustments, however. We tend to pay our mortgage, our utilities, our student loan payments all online as they are all synced up to our checking account and it’s just easier for us to get them paid that way then to physically pay with cash. However, everything else we use cash for so that once we’re out, we’re out! It’s almost fool proof. Keep in mind, you need to tailor it to suit your situation the best but I definitely recommend using cash for almost every purchase you make. Get rid of those debit cards and only keep a credit card for emergencies! Using cash also really puts into perspective how much money you are spending on things. $20 always seems like way more to me when I pay for it in cash versus using my credit card.
  4. Live within your means. This is by far the hardest part of budgeting! When you first begin managing your finances and you have to readjust your spending habits, you learn how difficult it is to live within your means. However, once you start to form a habit of it, it gets easier. When you begin forming your budget, remember that in order to live within your means, it may require you getting rid of a few things (Cable, Netflix, gym membership, Ipsy, etc.) but trust me, it will get easier and you’ll find other, cheaper ways to enjoy things! The sooner you stop overspending, the sooner you’ll be able to save money and pay off debt!
  5. Appreciate the FREE things in life and take advantage of them. There are so many things in life that are free but we get so focused on spending, spending, spending that we forget to look and take advantage of those free things! Since I’ve started budgeting, I’ve started taking advantage of free activities. Try taking a trip to the library to rent books instead of purchasing them, look on your local events calendar to see what kind of free festivals or celebrations are going on (Christmas time is the perfect time to look for these festive events), take a walk at a park with a friend, go on a picnic, sometimes there are free movie showings at the local movie theater, check and see, or if you’re like me, have friends over and make them dinner! Looking for the free activities brings out more creativity and is almost more fun at times then the expensive things!

So, there you have it, the 5 key things Zach and I have done to become responsible stewards of our finances! These things have definitely transformed the way we manage our lifestyle but they are oh so worth it too! By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to paying off debt, building up your savings, hopefully being prepared when an emergency happens (i.e. new car, new HVAC system in your house, hospital bills, etc.) and also discovering freedom when you learn that you aren’t controlled by money or your bills!

Hope you found this helpful! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more posts about life, faith and DIY ideas!

The Pregnancy Chronicles: The Agony of Waiting

Part V

In today’s society, waiting becomes such a minute idea. With fast food, Amazon Prime, Walmart Grocery Pickup and many other convenient things, we now can almost eliminate the waiting factor. Patience is almost a foreign concept, especially in the US. We like to get what we want, when we want it. But what happens when we come across a situation in life where we are forced to be patient? I don’t know about you but embarrassingly, I often feel like kicking and screaming, being grumpy and having a hissy fit because I’m not getting what I want fast enough.

Patience, I have realized is a HUGE learning experience when it comes to pregnancy. I have learned that I have absolutely NO CONTROL over anything in pregnancy and it’s just so incredibly frustrating at times. All of pregnancy is a waiting game. You wait until you conceive (God willing), then once you find out you’re pregnant, you wait until your first ultrasound to see and hear that little heartbeat (hopefully it is beating), you then wait until 20 weeks to find out if baby is healthy (of which, you still have no control over) and the gender and then you finally wait until baby’s big debut, of which, you only have a due date estimate to go on. It’s just one big, huge, fat waiting game!

These last few weeks of pregnancy have been the most difficult for me in being patient. I have to admit, I’m failing at waiting and patience. I’m 39 weeks today and I feel like the last two weeks have gone painfully slow. After having several friends deliver at 37 weeks, I’ve been on high alert expecting our little guy to make his grand debut any day. Any ache, pain or discomfort I’ve felt have had me wondering if those were the beginning signs of labor. Still nothing. Every day I wake up with no labor pains is another day that I just want to sit on my bed and cry (remember that hissy fit I was talking about?! This is exactly when I’d like to have it) because I feel like I’m never gonna meet our little boy. Though I will surely meet him within two weeks or so, to me, it seems impossible that I could even go one day more without seeing his little face. Patience has been such a foreign concept to me lately. Though I’ve desired all through my pregnancy to let my body go into labor on my own and to labor with as little intervention as possible, the further along I get, the more willing I am to talk myself into getting induced and scheduling a date that I will get to meet him. Where’s the patience in waiting?

The Bible teaches us that we are to be steadfast in waiting. God never promises that everything will happen exactly how we want it to and when we want it to. News Flash: We are NOT GOD!! There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of waiting but I have noted just a few that speak to my heart currently.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” -Proverbs 27:14

 “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient…Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.” James 5: 7-8, 11

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” Colossians 3:12

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25

In church, we have been studying through James and last week we landed in James 5: 1-12. In the first half of this chapter, James writes about how we should be patient in the coming of the Lord and preparing ourselves for not the self-indulgence of this world but for the treasures of eternity. Though I know waiting for a baby isn’t quite the same thing, it’s also been convicting in that we reap exactly what we sow. Just as farmers plant their crops and have to wait to cash in on their hard work, so I must also learn to wait on this perfect little human God is designing and forming for Zach and I. Our little man will come exactly when God thinks it’s best. Right now, he’s still growing and developing and every minute he’s in my womb is another minute that he gets to develop a little more. I must learn to remain patient. I am so close. I will have a little boy in my arms before Christmas! God is working and knows exactly when his birthday will be. Patience. All the hard work my body has done these last nine months will soon pay off with a perfect little boy, designed specifically for Zach and I to parent, thanks to God! It will just be in His perfect timing! Patience.

Now I ask you, are you struggling in waiting? Take time to pray and ask God what He can be teaching you through this time of waiting.

Thanksgiving Day at Cracker Barrel

The Pregnancy Chronicles: Maternity Photos at 29 Weeks

Part IV

Well, my apologies as this post is about 8 weeks overdue! Oops! It’s crazy how fast time is flying by while simultaneously going by at a glacial pace. How does that happen? In this instance, however, time seems to have gotten away from me and this blog has been thrown to the side as I’ve been trying to get lots of other things accomplished before our little mister joins this side of life 🙂 But, now that I actually have time to dedicate to this blog, I wanted to share with you some of my maternity photos my dear friend, Jennifer took of me! I was 29 weeks pregnant and Jen insisted on getting these photos taken before my baby shower on September 23rd. Little did I know that she was going to print a few of her favorites out to display at my baby shower. What a fun detail it was and then being able to take them home to decorate my house afterwards made it even more special!

These photos were taken at a conservation area in northern Columbia. After exhausting lots of other locations for photography I’ve done in the past, we opted for a new location and a new set of scenery. After taking a wrong turn and showing up on the wrong side of the conservation area, my late arrival made for a lot less time for photos. However, we were both pleased with how they turned out anyways! I’m so thankful that I got some maternity photos that I’ll be able to look back on in the future!