Mary, Did You Know?

I have always loved Christmas. The lights , the music (which is acceptable year-round), the food, time spent with family, and most importantly, celebrating the birth of our Savior.

This Christmas will be my little girl’s first. At eight months old, she really doesn’t understand it yet. I anticipate that she will tear into her gifts because she loves tearing into things. She will eat delicious food because she loves food. But she does not yet know or understand the season.

This year is different for me. This is the first Christmas I have been a mom, and it has prompted a stirring in my heart. I have been thinking so much about that tiny baby born to Mary and what that first Christmas must have been like.

We’ve all heard the song, “Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?” Last year, this song brought me to tears at the thought of my tiny Peanut growing inside of me and who she might grow up to be. This year, it brings me to tears because I can so much better understand Mary’s position.

As a mom, you have so much love for this little person you hold in your arms. You would do anything for them – sleep (or rather, not sleep) all night every night in a recliner, wipe up spit and vomit and who knows what else, give your time and devotion and sometimes your sanity for their well being. I can’t help but think about that first Christmas and what Mary must have felt. She was a new mom, which is terrifying. She must have been exhausted from delivering the baby. Then she held this tiny miracle in her arms and her heart must have burst with love. But more than that, she held Jesus. She held the Son of God.

Think about that for a minute. She held in her arms her newborn baby, her precious son, who was also the Son of God. What an incredible feeling that must have been. What an incredible responsibility. Was Mary afraid of messing up? Was she afraid if not knowing what to do, if not raising Jesus the way she should? Did she ever get impatient or frustrated with him?

As a mom, it’s easy to get swept up in the day to day monotony of life. The laundry and vacuuming and cooking and grocery shopping and appointments. It’s easy to forget the miracle that surrounds you every day. God sent this little baby to be yours, to love and cherish and teach and nurture. He entrusted you with this most precious gift. He loves you that much.

And more than that, He loves you so much that He sent His son for you. He sent Jesus to Mary on that Christmas long ago so that you could live.

This Christmas season, I urge you to stop and think about this. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, grandma or grandpa, childless or trying. Think about the incredible fact that Jesus came here as a tiny, vulnerable little baby. The Son of God was born in a manger, grew up sinless, and died on a cross, all for you. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

Blessing from Chaos

I keep seeing posts and YouTube videos detailing people’s routines: morning routines, night routines, or daily routines. The other day I stumbled across an article on the Baby Center website that outlined different daily routines based on being a stay at home versus a working mom (linked here.) So, to keep in the spirit of the fad, I thought I’d share my typical daily “routine.”

Sometime between 5:00 and 8:00 am – Baby girl (hereafter referred to as “Peanut,” a nickname she’s had since she was in the womb) and I get up, start the coffee, change her diaper, and get dressed.

Sometime between 5:00 and 7:30 am – My husband gets up and joins us, unless he’s leaving for work while we’re still sleeping.

9:00 am – 4:30 pm – Peanut and I play with her toys and read stories. When she gets fussy I try to feed her (sometimes nursing, sometimes a bottle) or change her or hold her until she is better. When she sleeps I either clean, do laundry, or sleep too, depending on the night we’ve had.

4:45 pm – My husband gets home (unless he’s working late). He plays with Peanut while I cook supper.

Around 5:30 pm – We eat.

6:00 pm – 10:00 pm – We play with Peanut. I try to straighten up the house. Peanut has a bath and generally a late evening nap from which she awakes to want to play more.

Sometime at night – We all go to sleep.

Briefly after that – Peanut fusses until I pick her up. We retreat to the nursery to sleep the rest of the night in the recliner.

Throughout the night – Peanut wakes and I nurse her back to sleep. My husband comes in to see if I want him to take a turn. We switch off sitting/sleeping in the chair with Peanut.

Morning – It starts over.

You see, we don’t have too much of a “routine” right now. When Peanut is hungry, I feed her. When she’s tired, I rock her to sleep. When she’s wet or dirty, I change her. In between we play and read stories and do tummy time and clean the house. We listen to music and I read the Bible to her. Sometimes we run errands or go to Grammy and Grampy’s house. We text Daddy and wait for him to come home. We sometimes cry and we giggle a lot.

Some days are easy, when Peanut is in a good mood and so am I; when I get the whole house clean and do laundry and we play and giggle a lot. Some days are so hard, when she is fussy or I’m struggling or things have piled up and I can’t seem to get ahead. Sometimes it feels like our days are filled with chaos. But truly, each day I stay at home with this sweet baby is a wonderful gift and I thank God every day for blessing me so much.

We don’t really have a “routine,” and that’s okay with me, because I know that these days are fleeting. We pretty much do the same things each day, but every day Peanut is growing bigger and learning more and more. I try to bask in the glow of that first smile she gives in the morning and to remember the sound of her sweet little laugh. I let her take naps sitting on my lap or laying in my arms. I cherish the fact that I get to stay home with her because my husband works so hard for our family.

In all, I really admire those families that can have a daily routine that is actually scheduled and works. But for now I think our “routine,” of just living life, is working just fine.

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.


Joy Comes in the Morning

This post has not been easy to write, and I went back and forth about whether I’d actually share it. But, although the subject isn’t easy for me to talk about, I think it’s important for me to be open and for others to know that they’re not alone.

If you read my last post, you know that I have been dealing with some postpartum depression. The truth is that I have struggled with depression to one degree or another since high school. Some times in life have been so difficult, and other times I can pretty much forget that I have struggled at all.

I used to be ashamed that I had depression, especially in high school and college. I have pretty much kept it quiet and not many people knew except for my family and a few close friends. The more I think about it now, though, the more I realize that it’s important to be open about it. First, it helps me feel less alone and reminds me that I don’t need to be ashamed. Second, who knows who I could help simply by talking about what I’ve been through?

I think depression is different for everyone who experiences it, and I can’t claim to know how others feel. For me, it’s a pervasive feeling that can sometimes fade to the background and sometimes be so overwhelming that I struggle to get out of bed. I took antidepressants for many years which helped me to feel better. However, when I started growing closer to God, I started questioning whether I was putting too much faith in medicine and not enough faith in the true Healer. I weaned off of the medication and, for the most part, did just fine.

When I got pregnant, my husband and I talked about the possibility of postpartum depression (PPD). He was pretty convinced that I would end up with it, and he was right (yes, I said it). After my little girl was born, I was so emotional that it was hard to tell if it was just hormones – baby blues, as it’s called – or something more. But as the weeks went on, it didn’t get any better. I stopped crying all the time, but I still just felt so down. I felt like I was worthless and drowning, and I felt so incredibly guilty about feeling that way because my little girl (and my husband!) didn’t deserve it. But as hard as I tried and as much as I prayed, it didn’t get better.

At my six-week checkup, the doctor asked me how I was doing and I just started crying. I told him that I had really been struggling. He asked if I’d had a history with depression and told me that this makes it so much more likely to end up with PPD. He was quick to explain that there is PPD that is more like “regular” depression, and there’s PPD that involves having weird/scary thoughts and ideas. I have the former.

My doctor then suggested that I use antidepressants. At this point I had been thinking for a while about asking for medication, and my husband and I had talked – and prayed – a lot about it. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t relying on the medicine too much and on God too little. My husband’s doubts prompted me to ask myself – had I been praying enough about this? Had I truly handed it over to God to take care of?

Because I could respond “yes” to these questions, I felt okay telling my doctor that I wanted the medication. If I had not been able to say “yes” to both questions, I don’t think I would have have been at a point where medication could even help.

It has been over a month now that I’ve been taking medication for PPD, and I do feel like it’s helping. However, I also firmly believe that it is helping because of God – because I have put my faith in Him to heal me. Some days are still really hard. Most of the time it gets better once I get up and doing things. It seems to get a lot better once I open my Bible and read (funny how that works). I have also found that if I’m open about it, especially with my husband, and if I pray and put it in God’s hands, those hard days are so bearable.

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:5, 11-12 NKJV


Expectation Versus Reality 

There’s a fad all over the internet right now of “expectation versus reality.” There are tons of memes and YouTube videos with funny takes on the whole expectation vs reality concept. It generally works like this: the expectation is something wonderful or perfect, and the reality is a far cry from that. The relatable thing about “expectation vs reality” is that they’re often true, and make you feel like you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. Here’s an example:

1cb(click for source)

Becoming a mom was like this for me. The difference though, is that the reality turned out to be both harder and much more beautiful than I could ever have expected.

When I got pregnant (and long before that), I daydreamed of having a baby. I had all these lofty ideas about snuggling my little one, playing with her, and dressing her in adorable outfits. I just knew if would be the best time of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those things are true. I love snuggling my little girl and watching her smile when we play. And she has some adorable little outfits! But here’s the reality: being a mom is hard! That was never part of my expectation. Yeah, people warned me that I would lose sleep and things would be tough, but I was not prepared for how difficult it really is.

It starts the moment your baby is born. Suddenly, a huge piece of your heart is living outside of you, and all you want to do is protect it. It’s a feeling beyond words – the love and the worry rolled into one as you stare at this perfect little baby.

On top of the worry come the hormones, which for me were almost unbearable. I would just cry and cry and then feel so guilty because I felt like that. I guess the “baby blues” are common, but for me it was more than that. I ended up having to get medication for postpartum depression (a story for a different day), which has helped immensely.

My expectations about being a mom never included all of the trials – the utter lack of sleep, fighting with my husband about what to do or just because I was exhausted, or not showering or brushing my hair for several days just because I’d rather sleep when I could.

But here’s the flip side – the reality is not only more difficult, but so much more amazing than any of my expectations ever prepared me for. Despite all of the struggles and sleepless nights, I look down at this beautiful baby girl and am filled with so much awe and love that my heart just might burst. Seeing her smile for the first time, holding her as she sleeps, watching my husband interact with her, and cuddling her in the middle of the night – nothing could have prepared me for how incredible these moments are. I thank God multiple times a day for this time and for this precious miracle he has given me. And let me tell you, the reality is turning out to be so much better than the expectation!


“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

‭‭I Samuel‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I will follow

Yesterday I quit my job. Without having a backup. Without knowing exactly what I will do. Without having a real plan.

Yesterday I quit my job, because I prayed and prayed and prayed about it and I know that’s what I’m supposed to do. I need to be a stay-at-home mom for my little girl. She is almost two months old, and I cannot imagine leaving her at daycare to go back to work. During the past two months, I have thought about what that would be like. What would it be like to have someone else raising my daughter five days per week, seven hours per day? What would it be like for her to walk her first steps or say her first words when I’m not around? I couldn’t stomach it. I would literally look at her and cry just thinking about it. So I knew I had to figure something out. (If you are a working mom, please do not take offense to this. I know that there are many women who choose to or have to work, and their children flourish.) So I prayed and thought and talked to my husband and prayed some more. And at around four in the morning, I had my answer. I knew God was telling me to stay home.

Yesterday I quit my job, and it’s kind of scary. Let’s be honest, having faith that God will provide is more easily said than done. We aren’t rich. We may have to live paycheck to paycheck for a while. But following God is not easy.

I was listening to a podcast this morning by Dr. Charles Stanley. In it he talked about how we have to be committed to following God. We have to step out and trust that God knows what he’s doing. Think about Abraham. God told him to go and sacrifice his own son, and he went. He didn’t think twice, because he trusted what God was telling him. Dr. Stanley pointed out something I had never before noticed: Abraham says “we” when he tells his servants of  returning.

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5 NIV).

Abraham had faith that God would take care of things, and believed that Isaac would come back with him even when it seemed impossible. He was committed to what God told him to do and was counted faithful because of this.

Oh, if I could have faith like that. I try, really I do. But it’s also something I have to consciously work on. I think it’s that way for a lot of people – we know in our heads that God’s plan is right, and that He is taking care of us, but do we really believe it in our hearts? It’s a really difficult concept to grasp and hold onto and truly believe. At least, for me it is.

So, how do I work on this? I pray. I talk to my husband. I try to read my Bible more. And I quit my job. Because in the end, being committed to God means being willing to follow Him even when it’s scary.
Dr. Charles Stanley Podcast