Saying “Yes” To His Plans

Last year around this time, our family made some major decisions that would greatly affect the path our lives would take.  I have always known that I wanted to go back to school, to finish successfully what my past depression and anxiety robbed from me.  I thought it would be much further in the future, once our children were at least school-aged.  However, this isn’t what God seemed to have planned for us.

I shared back in 2013 the loss of our little saint, Isabelle Marie.  We were heartbroken, but still felt God’s pulling to try for more children.  June 2014 brought the loss of our next child, Elizabeth Anne, followed by Francis Jude in January 2015.  It took lots of soul-searching and humbling myself before God, and we finally accepted that if it was His will to only have one child here with us on Earth, we would sing His praises and be thankful for our abundant blessings.  I stopped obsessing over growing our family.  I tried so hard to keep a smile on my face when friend after friend announced another pregnancy.  Please let me be clear – I have always been happy for my friends and family to welcome a new life into this world.  I truly believe that babies are always a blessing.  But when you’ve lost three little souls in eighteen months, it can take some serious grace to not wallow in self-pity.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

– Matthew 5:4

So there we were.  Stephen was about to turn two.  I was quitting my nanny job and going back to school full-time.  I decided to pursue a secret dream of mine and work towards becoming a doctor.  I had applied and was accepted to CU-Denver.  I enrolled in my first semester’s pre-med curriculum.  And then I took a home pregnancy test on a whim, and it was positive.  We were so very scared that first week.  I remember one night setting my alarm for 3am, so I could call into the 24/7 nurse line and receive the results from my beta-hcg draw.  We asked for prayers from those closest to us, and our prayers were answered.  After numerous lab draws, immediate progesterone supplementation, and multiple ultrasounds, we finally got to see our miracle baby and his little heartbeat!


So back to the drawing board, and back on my knees for wisdom and discernment.  I was due February 1st, 2016, so I could still technically complete my first semester.  But is that what I really wanted now that God blessed us with another child?  I still don’t know the answer to that question today, but I decided to postpone school for the time being and focus on my vocation of motherhood.  I had given Stephen 18 months of uninterrupted Mama time after he was born, and I didn’t want to have any artificial timelines forcing me to go back to school before our new little one and I were ready.  So I stayed put at my job until Christmas break, and savored every little (and not-so-little!) ache and pain of this pregnancy.  This time around, I knew better than to take it for granted.


Henry Joseph James was born two and a half weeks early via VBAC (woohoo!)  My postpartum recovery was a lot rougher than I expected for a “natural” birth.  However, none of the darkness of postpartum depression or anxiety managed to overshadow the early days with our new little man.  I thank God every day that he spared me that cross this time around.  I also know that we would love to have more children, but tomorrow isn’t promised to us.  Children are truly a blessing from God, and I pray to walk this road again someday soon.


As far as school is concerned, we are back to praying for wisdom and discernment.  Part of me would love to attain my dream, especially following the long and rough road it took me to get there.  But another part of me is trying to slow down and stop planning so much for the future.  I want to spend more time in the peace and quiet of my soul, listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit to guide me.  And I pray that I always have the strength and courage to say “yes” to His will for my life, just like Mary did two thousand years ago.

“Be it done unto me according to thy Word.”

– Mary (from The Angelus)




Letting Go Of Perfection

So for those of y’all that know me, you may have heard or seen that we’re doing things a little differently with our son.  He is sixteen months old and still being fed purees by spoon.  No finger foods, no solids (with the exception of Puffs.  Oh my word, how that boy loves his puffs).  He’s also not speaking real words yet.  I hate labels, but we’ve been working with our pediatrician and a therapist on his feeding issues for a few months now.  We have a screening next week to see if he qualifies for Early Intervention for speech therapy.

It may not seem like a big deal, so he has some delays, so what?  But y’all don’t see what we are dealing with in the privacy of our home.  Most mealtimes, we pray beforehand that all his food stays down.  Lately, Stephen has begun violently throwing up every time he gets upset and starts crying.  I’m not talking a little bit of baby spit-up, either.  This is full-blown vomit – EV.ER.Y.WHERE.  So when he trips and falls and gets an owie, the shrieky crying begins and we race to get him to the kitchen sink fast enough before it all starts.  I hate that my first thought is to minimize the mess, instead of consoling my little guy, but there’s only so many times a girl can scrub the carpet in her apartment in hopes of not getting charged an arm and a leg to replace it due to all the staining.

I also went back to work a few weeks ago part-time as a nanny.  I’m working for a family that I used to help out before Stephen was born – and they let me bring him with me!  This is wonderful in theory, but exhausting in practice.  They have two eleven year old girls, so the house is anything but baby-proofed.  I spend the majority of my time taking things away from him and chasing him up and down the stairs.  And let’s not forget cleaning up the vomit after one of his episodes.  Yep, it’s already happened twice in the two weeks I’ve been back.  I do get a break twice a week, once when he goes to the babysitter and once when my hubby stays home with him in the afternoons.  I feel guilty for even thinking this, but my goodness, it is so much easier without chasing him around all afternoon long!

So between therapy appointments, doctors appointments, my work schedule and trying to work in a play date or fun outing, my weeks are exhausting.  I just want for things to be a little easier.  I’m so envious of all the families I see out and about with children younger than mine who happily munch away on whatever food is put in front of them.  I have visions of Stephen being on a puree-only diet for years to come, because progress with the therapist is painstakingly slow.  They say he has sensory integration issues – so I’m trying my hardest to give him as many sensory experiences as possible, in hopes that one day he’ll be able to eat table food all on his own.  The perfectionist in me is screaming inside, why my son?  But I quickly remember to be thankful for all of his amazing attributes.  He is wildly funny – always looking to make mommy and daddy laugh.  He goes down by 8pm and sleeps through the night – and has since he was 6 months old!  And most importantly, he is a happy, social little guy that loves to play with everyone.

So I’m letting go of perfection.  I’m hopeful for the future, even when the present seems so tedious and hard.  And I’m praying for the patience to make it through these challenges.  God only knows how frustrating things can get sometimes.  But I lean into Him and trust that He is winding a path for Stephen towards greatness.  And that makes me one very happy, very blessed mama indeed.

Baby Steps

Our little man is now 13 months old and is a whirlwind of energy, joy and craziness!  Up until this past week, he’s found his way around our house by crawling at lightning-fast speed, or cruising along the sofa or playpen gates.  But when he was at daycare this week, I got a text from my friend saying “He just took 3 steps!!”  Now of course, I wish I could have been there to witness his first real steps, but he’s repeated his new talent quite a few times at home now – the current record is 5 steps.  I haven’t been able to catch any of it on video just yet (he plops straight down onto his bottom whenever the phone comes out to record him), but I know I’ll never forget it.  He’s not taking very long strides yet, just wobbly-kneed, tentative little baby steps, but the grin on his face when we cheer for him is priceless.

I can’t help but think that this is how our Christian walk must look to God.  He doesn’t demand that we go out there and run a marathon or a 5k, or even make it around the block.  He does, however, ask that we let go of whatever it is holding us back – fear maybe? – and take those tiny baby steps in His direction.  For me that means packing up the diaper bag every Sunday morning and saying a few quick prayers that little man behaves himself in Mass.  There are two of us to wrangle him in when he starts getting fussy, but let’s be honest – it’s distracting and a little embarrassing when your toddler decides to practice blowing raspberries in the middle of the Consecration.  Jesus called the little ones to Him, so it’s our goal to keep our entire family together as much as possible during the Holy Mass.  This may not seem like a big deal to more veteran parents (how do you do it with 4 kids??), or to my friends without children, but it’s one of those things that really requires patience and prayer on my part.  It is my hope that by modeling proper behavior week after week, our toddler will turn into a child whose heart is full of love for the Mass, and even more importantly, for Jesus in the Eucharist.

I think it’s so important to remember that when we step out in faith, God is cheering us on with such pride and enthusiasm, just like we cheer on our little ones when they reach new milestones.  What baby steps is He calling you toward today?

A Break

So it’s been rough, y’all.  My miscarriage last December not only left me heartbroken, but it threw me back in the deep-end.  You know, the one they like to call post-partum depression.  Couple that with a temporary move into a teeny tiny one-bathroom apartment while our new house is being built, and I’m a lonely mess.

I went back to my doc, got some new meds and instructions to see a therapist, like yesterday.  So I did.  I told her how I felt like a bad mom, a bad wife, just a big hot mess.  We discussed some baby steps that will help get me out of this pit.  The biggest one – the one my insides rebelled against immediately – was The Break.  Wait, what?  You want me to leave my child when I’m already feeling guilty enough about my lack of energy to fully engage him throughout the day?  But I told this nice lady that I’d talk it over with my hubby. 

So we talked, although I admit I felt even more guilt asking for this.  We didn’t really have room in the budget for child care outside our monthly date nights.  But she had made it very clear that those didn’t count.  I needed a weekly break, during regular hours – preferably at the time that I feel my worst.  So we decided we’d follow her recommendation and find a sitter for our son for a few hours a week.

I’m sitting here at the bookstore writing this on my first Break.  I spent the first hour at adoration – because Jesus really does need to come first in all of this.  All my efforts are in vain if I’m not chasing after Him and glorifying Him with my time and devotion.  And so here I sit, honestly missing my little guy, but trying hard to embrace this alone time.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?  Well mine’s about bursting with thankfulness for my chance at motherhood and that the Lord blessed us with such an amazing boy. 

So perhaps there is some validity to this concept.  This concept that flies in the face of all the attachment parenting books whose words I’ve treated as gospel for too long.  I’m starting to learn that nobody knows what’s best for our family except those of us who are in the trenches day in, day out.  And maybe my new therapist is onto something here.  Taking care of oneself shouldn’t be put so far on the back-burner that the house ends up in flames.  I’m learning to embrace a more balanced approach to parenting and to life itself.  And it sure does taste sweet (or maybe that’s just my Java Chip frappuccino? *shrugs*)


I should be packing right now.  We should have been packing all weekend.  But instead I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so prone to procrastination.  What is it inside of me that causes me to wait until the last minute with every important task I don’t want to complete?

I suspect it’s probably the same thing that keeps me from Mass on Sundays when I know I should be there.  The same thing that causes me to make plans with people all the time, and then flake out at the last minute.  That thing that kept me from completing my college degree.  Anxiety.

I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life.  It permeates into all corners of my little world.  My stomach twists and turns into a knotted mess, my heart races, breathing becomes shallow.  While I’ve accepted anxiety as my cross to bear, I know that God calls me to a better life.  Because while as inconvenient as the above circumstances may be, the worst part of my anxiety is when it causes me to run and hide from God.

When I know I haven’t been on the right path for some time, when my quiet times have disappeared and my Bible hasn’t been cracked open in ages, I get that same sense of anxiety.  I try to fill my time with Facebook, Pinterest, shopping, cooking, even just hanging out with my hubby and baby.  But what I should do – what will take away that anxiety altogether – is lean into Him.  Time spent in prayer, in Bible study, in adoration … these are all things that restore my soul.  Instead of being fearful of God’s disappointment over my absence, I should freely receive His grace and mercy.

As a Catholic Christian, I have a remarkable, tangible source of this grace and mercy.  It is found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is where we humble ourselves before God, admit our sins and ask for forgiveness.  When we are truly contrite and genuinely make the effort to not repeat the sins again, we are assured of our forgiveness.  And if you’re not Catholic, or it’s just been a long time since you’ve experienced His grace in this Sacrament, I can tell you that it is the biggest anxiety relief I’ve ever found.  It gives you such a sense of peace.  You feel restored, not only in your soul, but in your relationship to God.

As I wrap this up, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7

“…for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.”

With Him, we can overcome anything.  The more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we will become.  And while my anxiety might always be around, it doesn’t have to keep me from living my life.  Thanks be to God.

Our Word for 2014

We have a lot planned for this year – the main events being two (count them – one, two) moves.  Instead of spending all my time on Pinterest trying to virtually decorate my new home, or finding a dozen new complicated recipes, or even planning an elaborate first birthday party for Stephen, I’m stepping back and leaning into our word for the year.  SIMPLE.

In order to streamline the build of our new place, we made a small list of our priorities for our new home’s interior options and will stick with the basic included options for nearly everything else.  I might love a fireplace, built-in media center, tile accents in the master bath and an innumerable list of other upgrades, but is it really worth the added cost?  We try to see the opportunity costs involved – in order to get these upgrades, what are we giving up?  Less family time due to more time in the office to pay the bills, or maybe a longer time frame to get out of debt using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps?  I’m trying to learn to be content with what we have – thank God for all our many blessings and remember that things don’t bring happiness or contentment.

When it comes to homemaking, instead of spending an hour or so once a week trying to think up a meal plan and grocery list, I’m trying my hand at creating a 2-week meal plan that can be rotated through twice a month.  It might seem boring at first, but all it means is that we’ll be having our favorite meals twice a month.  Plus, I’ll be saving loads of time not having to think up a new meal plan each week.  Why reinvent the wheel?  It might take some up-front work, but keeping on a schedule takes away all the stress that comes from not knowing what’s for dinner when the hubby rolls in the door at 5pm.

As far as Stephen’s first birthday, we’ve decided to forgo a fancy party and just bake him a simple cake at home – just the three of us and his grandma who will be spending that week with us.  A big party wouldn’t really be for him anyways, so why stress ourselves out with it?  I once read that to simplify a child’s birthday, the party should correspond with his or her age.  Turning one?  Have one special friend over.  Turning five?  Maybe the cousins and one or two friends from the neighborhood.  We also try to keep the gift-giving simple.  One toy from Mommy & Daddy, followed up by an overhaul of his current playthings.  We plan to either donate or pack away things he’s outgrown, and rotate the remaining toys so he can focus his attention on just a few special items at a time.

Now it’s your turn.  What were your resolutions for 2014?  Did you make specific resolutions, or choose a word like we did?  In what ways do you try to live simply at home?

What Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed about having a family of my own.  A handsome husband, a small gaggle of children running around, white picket fence, yadda yadda yadda.  I daydreamed what my life would look like, and I’m here to confess today that it’s not really what I had pictured.

I’m really not sure what I thought it would look like – perhaps lots of cuddling, hours upon hours of reading together, doing loads of laundry and prepping dinner during naptimes.  Well, these days my 9-month old son only cuddles me when we’re in new situations and the “stranger danger” phenomenon kicks in.  If I had known how quickly his newborn phase would pass, I would have spent all my time, every single day, with him in my arms.  We no longer co-sleep (he sleeps like a little champ in his own crib in his own room), so I don’t even get that warm little body next to mine each night.  I’m praying that when he gets a little older, he’ll come back for some Mama Snuggles.  Can anyone verify that this is actually a thing that happens, or am I being naive here?

My husband and I aren’t very good about bedtime routines – Stephen gets a bath a couple times a week at best.  Hey – he’s not exactly out digging in the mud, and I know frequent bathing is so rough on his skin in this dry climate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  But the bookworm in me laments over the fact that we’ve yet to successfully establish reading before bed with him.  Each time we try, he just grabs or hits the book, or tries to eat it.  Forget turning pages – he’s a little book-ravaging monster.  How will he ever grow to appreciate the written word when I can’t read him a 5-page board book before he goes to sleep at night?

As far as all of those homemaker tasks that I thought I’d be able to get accomplished each day, well …. I’m failing miserably, y’all.  Ever since I had Stephen, my depression has come back pretty full-force.  It’s a struggle to check off the most basic tasks on my to-do list each day.  Am I still in yoga pants and the sweater I’ve worn at least half a dozen times since it was last washed?  You betcha.  Now I don’t know if it’s my hormones, the lack of sleep, or the constant attending to my baby’s needs that has me so flummoxed over keeping my house in order.  But I do know this – it stinks!  My poor husband comes home to a house in shambles most days – dinner not even started, topped off with a grouchy mama and crying baby.  He is my God-send, though.  He takes over caring for Stephen immediately and lets me have some Mommy-time in the kitchen preparing our dinner.  A huge part of me wants to defend myself here and give a disclaimer that I do, in fact, love my son more than words could ever imagine.  But sometimes, I just NEED.A.BREAK.  Even if that break comes in the form of chopping onions and sauteeing chicken.

I sometimes wonder what I got myself into.  Is the wake-diaperchange-feed-play-diaperchange-nap routine just going to play itself a million times over?  It’s then that I realize that these are the little things God talks about in Luke 16:10:

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much…

God has blessed me with a million little ways to serve Him each day.  Every diaper change, every feeding, every time I pick up my crying little boy, I am proving faithful to God’s calling on my life.  This is a season of mundane routines, to be sure.  But it is also a season of wonder and excitement.  Stephen has gone from rolling over, to crawling, to sitting up, to pulling himself up on anything he can get his hands on – all in less than 6 month’s time.  He smiles at me whenever I enter the room, and that’s no little thing, folks.  While I do look forward to the future and all it has to offer, I try to maintain a practical view on it.  My expectations may not line up with the reality of how things will actually go, and that’s okay.  I know that God is training me for bigger and better things each day.  For in truth, there is no greater gift than the opportunity to raise up a child for our Lord.