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I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I became a mom.

April 6, 2015

photo (74)

Before I had a baby, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to talk about how hard motherhood is. I had heard so many other women tell me that motherhood was the most difficult/wonderful thing they had ever done, but quite honestly I was discouraged by those stories because they made me dread, rather than anticipate, what was to come for our little family. But now that I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for about six long and incredibly short weeks I can safely say that motherhood is every bit as hard as others told me it would be but for reasons I never anticipated.

You see, I knew that taking care of a baby was going to be challenging. I had babysat for years and had enough experience around babies that I wasn’t totally naive about how consuming childcare can be. But it’s not the baby care that’s so challenging. No, it’s the fact that caring for a little one and giving yourself to your infant exposes you and every single one of your selfish desires and there is no place to hide. Being a momma and loving our little girl has brought me face to face with just how selfish I really am, even though I never thought of myself as an overly selfish person to begin with.

Over the past number of weeks I heard that little voice in my head saying, “What about ME?” about a thousand times. When Ainsley is awake from her nap 30 minutes ahead of schedule and is crying for her bottle just as I’m getting out of the shower, dripping wet. Or when I’m starving and sit down to finally eat dinner, but Little Miss wants to be bounced and swayed and cuddled. Or when I’m laying in bed, desperate for a couple of consecutive hours of sleep but the paci fell out of her mouth and she needs to be soothed back to sleep for the tenth time that night.

When I write these things down, they seem incredibly trite. I mean, what’s the big deal on missing out of a little sleep, being a little hungry, or not having the time to blow dry your hair or put on a little makeup? But I think I seriously underestimated how much I cherished those basic things in life: sleep, food, exercise, a hot shower.

At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, I was feeling like the ugliest version of myself. I had on a pretty dress and my hair was curled and our family looked photo-ready. (See evidence above) But inside, my heart was anything but pretty. Ainsley had spent the better part of the night crying inconsolably and being incredibly fussy, leading us to believe that she had an ear infection. After a middle of the night call to the pediatrician, they suggested we go downtown to the children’s ER since all things related to your kiddo are bound to happen on a Sunday, aren’t they?! We trekked to the ER at 4 am, sleepy and weary and a little worried only to find out that Ainsley was just fine and most likely just going through a developmental leap leading to increased fussiness.

On the way home I felt relieved but more than a little agitated. I was grumbling to myself about how tired I was, how little sleep I had gotten, how much we were going to have to pay for our trip to the ER, etc. My pre-baby self was throwing a fit inside about not getting what I wanted. In short, I was acting a lot like Ainsley. Totally acceptable when you’re a 6 week old baby, a lot uglier when you’re a 27-year-old momma of a newborn.

So when I sat down at church and sang those songs about the sacrifice our Savior made for us two thousand years ago, the ultimate sacrifice, it put my little tantrum into perspective. I thought about how diligently we, and many others, prayed for this sweet little baby of ours and how I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks complaining about the very blessing I wanted so desperately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so thankful for Ainsley and for our new life as a family of three, but it hasn’t been without significant growing pains. The very real and very difficult process of dying to yourself and your desires often gets lost in the sea of stories about how blissful new motherhood is. And it is blissful, most certainly, when your little one sleeps on your chest all curled up or starts to show signs of their very first smile. But it’s also difficult, and that’s okay, too.

So, if you’re a new momma, or about to become one, I want to let you know that it’s okay to struggle a bit, to miss your old life, and to struggle with your selfish desires. As my own mom affirmed to me yesterday, the transformation into motherhood is a process and something that takes a little time. Expecting that transformation to occur completely the minute you have your baby is holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. So let’s all vow to give ourselves a little grace in the process, shall we? I know that I, for one, have never needed more grace than I do now that I’m a mom!

Madison

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Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Pecans

January 13, 2015

Ultimate Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies | Espresso and Cream

Many times I sit down to write and blog post without really thinking about what exactly I’m writing about. The words flow easily about the recipe I’m going to share with you, the flavor or texture or usefulness of the recipe at hand. It’s easy to fall into a lull of writing about food without really writing about anything at all. Does anyone really need me to wax poetic for four paragraphs about chocolate chip cookies?

Lately I’ve felt a pull towards different types of blogs than those that I’ve loved in the past. I’m drawn to the writing of women who are ultimately inspiring in the way they share vulnerability and failure without falling down the rabbit hole of negativity and hopelessness.

*I love the way Jess and Rachel write about faith, motherhood and anxiety, depression and the whole of life experiences. The way they bravely share their faith and passion for Jesus pushes me to share my faith more openly.
*My adoration for Shanna’s understated and beautiful way of looking at the world continues to grow with every post. I’m so thankful for her friendship over the years, even if it’s just been of the digital/e-mail variety.
*The way Laken writes about family life, motherhood and personal growth always leaves me feeling inspired and uplifted; her site always feels, to me, like the blog equivalent of Anthropologie for some reason.
*I wish every single day that Heather and I could sit and work together and drink coffee and talk like old friends. Another e-mail blog friend, I feel her warm spirit come across in every post, almost like a virtual hug.

Anyway, I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off course, but what I really mean to say is that I’m so thankful for those who are willing to share their lives online. Sometimes I wonder if having “blog friends” is strange or if I should just spend more time devoted to those friendships that I have in real life. But the beauty of the blog world is that chances are there is someone going through something similar to what you’re going through, whether it be a painful and trying time or a time of extreme joy.

I’m so thankful there are women who have written their stories for the world to read so that I can follow along, a few steps behind, and feel a little more prepared for what’s ahead. I’m thankful for those who are writing out their own crazy stories in the thick of it so that I can read what they’re going through and know that I’m not alone.

If you’ve made it this far down the page, thank you for reading my ramblings! I have nothing to really wrap this post together with except to say that I made cookies. Really, really good cookies, if I do say so myself. They’re perfect in the way that they’re crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center. They’re packed with chocolate chunks and candied pecans and have just the right amount of salt so as not to overwhelm you with sweet. Make them. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies (1) | Espresso and Cream

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ sticks butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup chopped candied pecans (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, corn starch and salt. Stir until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and candied pecans by hand until incorporated.
  5. Spoon dough by heaping tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheet, placing dough balls about 2 inches apart. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and slightly soft looking in the center of the cookies. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.

Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy

I’m ready for 2015.

December 31, 2014

Photo on 9-11-14 at 2.40 PM

I probably could have alternately titled this post, “Thank heavens 2014 is in the books! I’m glad to see it go.” But I’ve decided that it’s best to look forward to the year ahead rather than focus on the year that is now (almost) behind us. I’ve mentioned this before but last January I felt God saying to me that 2014 was going to be the year of waiting. I had no idea what he meant by that but I’ll be the first to admit that the idea was a little unsettling to me. I, like many others, do not like to wait.

When we found out we were pregnant with our second baby (that I would later miscarry) in February, I thought that perhaps what God meant by “a year of waiting” was that I would spend most of the year pregnant and would be waiting for a child to be born. “What a joyful way to wait! This isn’t going to be so bad after all!” I thought to myself. but when we found out we miscarried at our 12 week appointment at the end of April, I realized that the year of waiting I had hoped God had planned for me wasn’t really the type of waiting He had in mind.

I picked the words DISCIPLINE and PATIENCE to guide my year. Oh, how I’m thankful that I did because without those two words in the back of my mind, I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude or strength to see what else God had planned for the remainder of 2014.

I asked myself in the weeks after our second miscarriage if I had the strength to move forward and continue to try to have a biological child of our very own. The physical and emotional pain felt like too much on my worst days and the idea of doing it all over again, risking experiencing another miscarriage, seemed like more than I could handle. I debated throwing in the towel and giving up on that dream, pursuing other methods of starting a family. I asked questions like, “If I never have a child of my own, is God still enough for me?” I wrestled and grew and heard the voice of God telling me that it was too soon to give up on that dream.

We moved along in the year to find out in June that we were expecting another baby. I’ve documented our miraculous journey on this blog and been blessed by your prayers in so many ways. I listened to doctors tell me my baby wasn’t actually a baby at all and that I should schedule a surgery to remove it. Against all medical odds, I prayed (and you prayed!) for a miracle and God showed up in the most amazing way, blessing us with a healthy baby that defied all medical explanation.

For the first 20 weeks I lived in constant fear and anxiety that our little one would be taken away from us, like our other two babies had. I prayed and avoided Google and trusted that God knew what he was doing. At 19 weeks we were told our little one had an umbilical cord issue that perhaps and issue with his/her heart. Fear gripped me again as we waited to see a specialist and find out if our little one was healthy. We praised God yet again after we found out that our precious baby was as healthy as could be and that their heart was functioning normally. Once again, God showed up even when I doubted.

In September we found out that my company, under pressure from a lagging economy, was going to lay off 800 people in our corporate headquarters. My goodness, the number and magnitude took us all by surprise. We waited for weeks upon weeks to find out about our individual job statuses, and at the beginning of December, just after Thanksgiving, I found out that my job, along with almost all of my co-worker’s jobs, was eliminated. At 30 weeks pregnant I struggled to think of worse timing to get such news, but I am once again putting my trust in God’s timing and plan for my life.

So I sit here on December 31st, thankful that 2014 is coming to a close but amazed at the ways that I can see and sense I’ve grown throughout this year. I can safely say that 2014 was, indeed, a year of waiting, and I have more questions at the end of 2014 than I did at the beginning. I’m bringing my questions, my uncertainty, my fears to the feet of our sweet Jesus, asking him to reveal himself to me in the year to come. Already I’ve felt God saying to me that 2015 would be the year I see the Lord. As with the year of waiting, I don’t entirely know what that means but I’m so ready to move into a new season.

Madison

Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Grace in Our Weakness

October 23, 2014

photo

For a while I got into a really good rhythm of writing authentically, saying what I was really thinking and feeling and processing. And then, a handful a months ago, I fell out of that rhythm for one reason or another. It’s not that I’m intentionally keeping anything from this site or not saying what I mean to say, but the truth is that this pregnancy has been all-consuming. The rocky beginning that shook us to the core, the desperate pleas for prayer and more prayer, the waiting between weekly appointments, the awe of the miracle God performed, holding our breath not knowing what the next week held, week after week, in all of its uncertainty.

I told myself for weeks that once we got out of the first trimester I would breath deeply and relish in the beauty of pregnancy, but anyone who’s been fearful of something can tell you there isn’t a magic point when the fear subsides. Instead, that fear is replaced with another fear, another fixation, another date on the calendar. I’ve been doing it, too. After the first trimester ended there was the next appointment, and then the 19 week ultrasound, followed by the appointment with the specialist. I told myself I would feel more peace and breath a sigh of relief after each milestone I placed on the calendar. But the truth is, I replaced once fear for another, one milestone for the next.

As I look at my thoughts and my behaviors I’m embarrassed. God has been so faithful to us and done such a miracle in this pregnancy! He’s led us through tough times in our marriage and our careers and through times of uncertainty, and yet I sit back at where I started, filled with doubt and uncertainty, wringing my hands and feeling fearful of what comes next. Even to me, when I look at it logically, it seems silly and petty and immature.

It’s times like these that I’m thankful for a God who offers forgiveness and grace in my weakness and doesn’t give up on me, time and time again. No matter how many times I have to learn and re-learn the same dang lesson, we worship a God that’s faithful and patient enough to overlook those weaknesses and give us another go at it. So if today, you find yourself stumbling over the same lesson you learned a thousand times before, don’t be discouraged. Take heart that we can come to God time and time again, no matter how many times we’ve done so before.

Madison

Uncategorized

On Turning 27

October 6, 2014

Christmas Card Photo 4 (B&W)
Yesterday I turned 27. I’ll admit that for the first 10 minutes of my birthday I totally forgot how old I was. I looked into the mirror in the bathroom and thought to myself, “I think I’m really going to like 28″ only to realize a few minutes later that I was actually 27. I guess it takes the sting off getting older when you’re prematurely aging yourself!

I’ve always taken the opportunity on my birthday to look back on the previous year and reflect, and 26 certainly gave me plenty to reflect upon. It was a year that started in my favorite place on earth, Gainesville watching my beloved Gators play with my dad and Joe,which is pretty much the best start I could imagine. I was in a strange place at the start on my 26th year, having just miscarried our first baby, I was filled with questions about our family’s future. Did we want to start trying to have a baby? What would the future hold and what would the road ahead look like?

When I look back at the past year, I feel pleased with how it was lived. There were plenty of tears but also lots of sweet memories, too. And when I look back, I’m glad that we chose to look beyond the harder moments and embrace both the good and bad of the past 12 months, because we certainly had our share of joys along the way as well.

Today, I’m kicking off my first full day of being 27 by going to our 19/20 week ultrasound. This afternoon we’ll find out if our little one is a boy or a girl (!!) and we’ll get to see him/her for the first time since our 12 week ultrasound, which feels like such a long time ago. ┬áIt seems so appropriate to start the year focusing on our baby, since 27 is (God willing) going to be the year that we welcome our first little baby into our family here on earth.

I’m filled with SO many questions as I start my 27th year. Will I be a good mother? How will Joe and I adjust to being (sleep-deprived) parents? I wonder what it will look like to welcome my 28th year and how different it will look from this most recent birthday. The last few weeks have, for a variety of reasons, reaffirmed to me how uncertain the future really is and what little control we have over many of the major events that shape our lives.

If you’ve followed the news, then chances are you’ve heard that those at my company (myself included) are facing a lot of job uncertainty. There is the threat of Ebola and Isis and worries about whether or not our baby will be healthy. Every day, if I seek it out, I can find more than my share of reasons to be fearful about the future. But I’m promising myself that 27 is going to be a year of walking out in faith, trusting that God has our future in His hands, believing that His plans really are best.

Madison

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