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We Made It! #WorldBreastfeedingWeek

It feels strange to be packing away all of my breastfeeding gear – pumps, pillows, nightgowns and such. 

This time last year, my Isaac and I were deep in the throes of bonding and loving and feeding and growing. He was barely 2 weeks old, we had just found our rhythm, and though I was hopeful, I was still very unsure that we could make it to the full year I was aiming for as our goal. 

Fast forward 365 days, and almost as if an alarm clock went off, my little man was ready to stop nursing, in the few, short days following his first birthday. Thankfully, he still loves to snuggle up close to mommy, just not for food…unless she’s holding a spoon…that’s a different story.

Being my baby’s sole source of nourishment for so many months, and then his preferred source of nourishment once he started eating other foods, was work…worthy work. He often determined my schedule, my availability, my mealtimes, my social life, and even my travel plans, journeying with me on both major trips I took during the last year. 

In the process of breastfeeding my son, I learned lessons I never expected. I learned to defend my time and space, both physical and mental, fiercely because my children need me. I embraced an alternative schedule and found myself accepting the challenge of  teaching online, from home, finding ways to make our lifestyle work. I learned to remember that this was, in fact, OUR life, OUR family, and OUR first priority. 

To serve my son in this way was my greatest ministry, and I pray that I will always be willing and able to serve and to sacrifice, to give love and nourishment to my husband and children, to keep the things that matter most as my top priority, and to never take our time together for granted. 

During that year, I was able to heal from the self-inflicted wounds of regret and guilt about not even making it a full three months breastfeeding my older son. With God’s help, I was able to forgive myself for making choices I thought were necessary at the time, like pursuing my MBA and going back to work full time, making life stressful, and breastfeeding difficult. In hindsight, I understood that those hard choices helped to bring us to this place where we can breathe a little easier…together. Those choices were the keys in my hand when the door of opportunity opened, allowing me to stay home with both of my children. Without them, this moment, this achievement, this indescribable feeling of fulfillment and completion would not have been possible. 

To Mamas struggling with the decisions, the forks in the road that sometimes seem to rip us from the place we are needed most, never give up hope, or allow yourself to drown in defeat. Promise yourself that you will try, try, and keep on trying. Find what works for you and your family, and commit to holding your head high. Learn to embrace the resilience of your children. Attempt, every once in a while, more often if you can manage it, to see the world through their eyes. They are far more forgiving, far more loving, and far more emotionally intelligent than we often give them credit for. More importantly, learn to see yourself through God’s eyes – cherished, perfectly and wonderfully made,  royal and highly favored. 

Reflecting on this past year reminds me of how quickly the time passes, that the hard parts don’t last forever, the pain isn’t permanent, and that I was created for this! 

It reminds me of how our Heavenly Father loves us, responding to our cries, providing for our needs, loving us through our growth process, building us up, comforting us, and feeding our souls. Out of my love, I gave TO my son. Out of God’s Love, He GAVE US His Son. And that kind of love changes EVERYTHING!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭KJV‬‬

#WorldBreastfeedingWeek #OneYearLater #WeMadeIt #TheLoveOfAMother #ReflectingTheHeartOfTheFather

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Turning 30: Transformed by the Light

Let me start by saying “I’m sorry”. Sorry for my absence, sorry for my silence. 

Instead of the anticipation-filled, party planning frenzy that turning 30 can often incite, it actually had the opposite effect, causing me to withdraw for a while, trading outwardly sharing my thoughts and writing for long periods of solitary, internal contemplation. 

Approaching 30 has made me more reflective, inward-facing, introspective, self-analyzing, and downright moodier than I’ve been since my silent, brooding teenage years. But, as promised, midnight does not last forever, eventually the dawn breaks, and with it, the light comes. 

So the following list of 30 lessons I’ve learned was born out of my emergence into that glorious light. Despite my fears that 30 would be filled with despair and disappointment (mostly with myself), I can say with confidence that the God I serve really does “make all things new”. 

This morning, I woke up to welcome 30 with joy, peace, contentment, a renewed mind, a reinvigorated sense of purpose, and a vivid reminder that this life is temporary, so I need to set my eyes, and heart, on the things that matter most, on the things that will last. So here is my list. Take from it what you will. I look forward to the incredible days and years ahead! Happy Birthday to Me!

1. Make every day count.

2. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

3. Love your hair. Even the gray ones.

4. Basking in the moment is far more important than documenting and posting it.

5. Protect Your Peace. Relentlessly.

6. Worship without restraint. 

7. You. Are. Loved. More than you know.

8. Don’t let anyone but God design or define your life and future for you. 

9. You are an original work of art.

10. Yes, those are your mother’s words coming out of your mouth.

11. Some things are worth fighting for, and some things just aren’t worth mentioning. Learn to know the difference.

12. Your dreams matter.

13. Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1

14. Do not despair in the twilight tussles between God and self. Your true identity is revealed in the wrestling. Just ask Jacob. Genesis 32:28

15. Pray. Without. Ceasing. Literally, have an ongoing dialogue between yourself and your Heavenly Father. A very wise woman once told me that the key to finding peace and contentment even in the everyday, mundane, tedious tasks of life, is learning to welcome God’s Presence into each moment, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It works. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

16. Family matters! Be present! 

17. Mentors matter! Have one! Be one!

18. Sleep matters! Your brain and body will thank you!

19. Seek Divinely-orchestrated friendships. They make the journey that much sweeter.

20. Embrace your Vision. Build your Dream. Even if entrepreneurship isn’t your thing, find an outlet, an opportunity, an organization where you can make the most of the gifts you’ve been given.

21. Identify your gifts. Acknowledge them. Call them by name. 

22. Use your gifts to enrich the lives of others, and you, in turn, will find your own life made richer.

23. Remarkable transformations happen one small adjustment at a time.

24. When you are tired, the house is a mess, the laundry needs to be done, you’ve had a long day at work, and someone keeps hollering “mommy, Mommy, MOMMY”, over and over for no particular reason, children are STILL a blessing. 

25. Stop reading so many of those “Things You Should Know, Do and Have By 30” articles. They make you paranoid that you’re failing at life.

26. You are doing much better than you think.

27. Be strong and very courageous. Do. Not. Be. Afraid. Joshua 1:9

28. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

29. Live out loud, with your whole heart, as if the next moment could be your last. Show the compassion, give the love, share the smiles, demonstrate the care you want to be remembered for. Your actions today become your legacy tomorrow.

30. Try Jesus.

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“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Imagine that you are waking up from a great night’s sleep, replete with dreams and drool, comfy covers, and a perfectly temperature controlled pillow. And as you begin to open your eyes, you feel all of your muscles contract and release as you perform the most satisfying, monstrous stretch you can manage.

Now I don’t know about you, but that stretch for me is a signal that I have not only experienced the most amazing resting period, but also lets me know that it’s time to get up and take on the day. That first stretch of the day energizes me and increases my capacity for movement. It removes the stiffness as a result of being sedentary the night before. 

I believe that just as our body is meant to be in motion, our lives are meant to progress as well. We know that complete absence of motion in the body ultimately means death, and it would seem that it is much the same case when it comes to our goals and dreams. It is often the lack of forward movement why New Years Resolutions just don’t work for many of us – we get excited and then a few weeks, if not a few days, into the new year, we lose all momentum where making that particular change is concerned. 

For some of us we have simply put our hopes and dreams bed, laid them down, put them on the back burner of our minds. Our goals and aspirations have come to a complete stand still. 

It is time to stretch and wake them up!

When we decide to reawaken our passions, and pick up where we left off in bringing our dreams to life, we often must commit to tasks or opportunities that stretch us beyond our current abilities. In order to eventually maximize our potential, we must first increase our capacity to learn, explore, be and do. 

Over the next few days, we will explore what it means to STRETCH – and I believe that we will find that we possess the flexibility to live the life our Creator intended!