March 28, 2014
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Yeah, I’m going there.

Why? Because this product has changed my existence as a women. Bold statement, right? Trust me – if it weren’t worth talking about, I wouldn’t be wasting our time writing about it.

So let’s get down to it. I don’t know about you, but until a few months ago, I always just did what I was told to do, vis-a-vis my “lady time” – use tampons and pads and grumble, grumble, grumble.

Tampons have always made my period cramping a lot worse, so I’ve tried to avoid using them unless absolutely necessary. May sound weird, but it’s true – they do to my period what pitocin does to labor and contractions – makes it a lot worse (stronger, more painful). I thought I was imagining it at first, until I went a few periods without using one at all, and the difference was like night and day. It occurred to me that it was probably something to do with them being unnatural/synthetic, and I’m very picky about what goes into and onto my body. Once I see the truth about something being unideal or unhealthy, my mind is made up. Seeing the horrific article about the moldy tampon didn’t really help matters, either. So just I decided at that point, “Ok, whatever, I’ll just use pads.”

In case you haven’t noticed – and I’m sure, if you’ve had more than, say, one period in your life, you have – pads aren’t exactly the most convenient, comfortable, or attractive things in the world. They have always made me feel like I was wearing an adult diaper, which is an annoying and embarrassing feeling – not to mention, a lot of the time (for me, anyway), they didn’t always do their job in terms of preventing spillage or leaks. Sans tampon, my period pretty much always feels like a bloodbath. Gross, right? Sorry to be frank, but it is. It’s just gross – the mess, the smell, the feeling nasty the whole time. Ick. 

So a few months ago I stumbled across my friend Lindsey’s blog post on menstrual cups. I was immediately intrigued, since I had already been on the hunt for an alternative – ideally, one that was less messy and more natural (i.e., not loaded with chemicals and with the potential to give me some weird condition like TSS). Well, as I read what Lindsey had to say, I was really excited, because menstrual cups sounded like THE answer to my problem. Sure, it wasn’t something I had heard a lot about – pretty unconventional – but y’all know me, I don’t really care about all that. If I find a solution that will improve something for me, “normalcy” is for the birds, as far as I am concerned.

So I ordered a Diva Cup (before you ask, I just sorta picked one – at the time, I only knew about two – the Diva and the Lunette). I’ve been using it since January.

diva cup both

And the verdict?

It. Is. Freaking. Awesome.

You can do some research on your own – there are tons of reviews and stories out there from other women who use and love their cups, just like me (just go type “menstrual cup” into the search box on Pinterest).

Instead of doing a huge, all-inclusive educational post, I’m just going to tell you my own experience and what I love about using one over the “old” tampon-and-pad method. If you want more of an informational overview, head over to this post that Lindsey wrote.

Reasons I LOVE My Diva Cup:

1. You get the benefits of a tampon (better, really) without any of the risks (like mold and/TSS, or chemicals generally) – you can wear it for up to 12 hours (YES, you really can) because it’s natural, undyed, healthcare grade silicone and totally safe (I wore mine with a pantiliner at first, but when I saw that I didn’t need one, I stopped using anything other than just the cup itself. It seriously works that well – no leaks).

2. No cramps, no smell, less mess. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s no messier than a tampon – I’d say less, actually, because you have to remove and clean it less often than you have to change tampons. Oh, and the smell thing? Yeah, the chemicals in tampons will make your natural smell down there a lot funkier. Not a problem with a menstrual cup – not that the smell is pleasant, of course, but…it’s not funky or rancid. It is a lot more “natural” and less noticeable, which is something we all (not to mention our significant others) can appreciate. Again, that may be TMI, but this is something that we all have to deal with, realistically and practically speaking, so…suck it up, buttercup.

3. No leaks = I can wear it to workout in. This is a big one for me, since Crossfit is a big part of my life now. Those workouts are intense and involve a lot of movement, so the fact that I can wear the Diva Cup with no leaks during Fran or the Filthy Fifty (and I can, and have) is a biiiiiig deal.

4. It’s super comfortable. I can’t feel the cup, generally speaking, and sometimes I forget it’s even there. AND, even if I do forget, there’s no risk involved (the worst that could happen is that it gets full and there is leakage, but that’s not happened to me yet and I always wear mine for 12 hours at a time).

5. It’s greener. Now, admittedly, this isn’t something that is always at the top of my priority list, over stuff like practicality and cost, but it is something I try to consider. I believe very strongly that we should be good stewards of everything we have, and that includes the earth. So, using a cup means less dirty tampons and maxis in a landfill somewhere, and that’s beneficial to all of us.

6. YOU SAVE MONEY. This is something that a lot of people don’t think about, but this is a big one! I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to calculate the cost of disposable menstrual products, but they’re way expensive. Just check out this cost graphic I pulled off Pinterest (admittedly, couldn’t find the original source, but those calculations seem pretty accurate to me, as someone who bought those products for years). The point is, a menstrual cup is something you buy once and then don’t have to replace for a a few years, vs. pads and tampons which I usually had to buy every 2 months or so. Huge savings – which means money is freed up for other, fun stuff.

cost comparison

 

So, before I wrap this up, I’m gonna hit some of the common questions I get (and will inevitably get from some of you who read this).

Q1. “But…..that looks a lot bigger than a tampon, like, width- wise.”
A. Yes, it is, but you fold it to insert it, and once it’s folded (there are a few different ways), it’s about the same in diameter and actually shorter in length than a lot of tampons, and definitely shorter than tampons with applicators attached.

Q2. “Does it hurt?”
A. Nope. There is a learning curve, of course – just like with tampons – but you’ll get the hang of it fast, don’t worry – it only takes a few times and you’re golden. Diva Cup has a great page on their website with all the how-to, practical stuff on there to help if you have more specific questions. That’s the only thing I referenced when I first got and started using mine.

Q3. “Can it get stuck? How far up does it go?”
A. Now, this is something that Diva Cup addressed in their instructions that came with the cup, but I want to tell you from experience – it may get what you feel to be pretty far up there, compared to a tampon. Do not freak out – that’s normal. Sometimes, especially if you haven’t had it in that long or are on the lighter part of your period and it’s not very full, you may have to utilize those Kegel muscles and bear down (Mamas who’ve given birth will know what I mean, but for those of you who haven’t, it would be similar to pushing during a bowel movement) to push it down where you can remove it. Again, totally normal. But, the longer you leave it in, the easier it is to remove because the cup will be more full and gravity does its job and pushes it down for you. I’ve never had trouble with not being able to remove it, but I remember being alarmed the first few times I used mine that it was so far up – mainly because I was still expecting it to be just like a tampon and hadn’t left it in for very long when I tried to take it out. Remember: It’s not exactly like a tampon. Similar, but there are some major differences – you need to approach this like it’s its own, new thing. K?

And that pretty much sums it up. I highly, highly, recommend using a cup – but only if you want a more comfortable, less messy, healthier, more environmentally responsible and more cost efficient period. I can’t fathom why someone wouldn’t want those benefits, but maybe some people don’t. If not, keep on with what you’re doing already. :)

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.

 

September 21, 2013
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This is a call to my fellow believers – the Gospel-loving, redeemed, Jesus-followers in the church.

I come to you in tears, petitioning you to join me in prayer for one of the saints.

Many of you know Carlyn and James Layton, who are best friends of Jared and I. We have known them for years, bought our home from them, and they are very close to us.

Many of you may not know, however, that Carlyn is expecting baby #4. She is about 29 weeks along right now.She went to an OB appointment earlier this week, where she received some very bad and very serious news. The baby is healthy – however, Carlyn was diagnosed with placenta accreta. Basically, what this means is that the placenta has attached to and grown into the scar tissue from her previous incision(s). This is, as James told us (he is a Dr.), THE most serious complication a mother can have.

Basically, the baby will have to be delivered early – around 34 weeks – via c-section, but it will be a very high risk, complicated surgery that requires a large team. They’ll have to do an incision somewhere other than the traditional place – since that is where the tissues have grown together – and removing the placenta from anything else it has grown to (the uterus, etc) will most likely require a full hysterectomy. There is a very high risk of hemorrhage and possible death.

You can imagine what the Laytons are thinking and feeling right now. It is a very stressful time already, with James working full-time as a pediatric anesthesiologist and being away from home often, and Carlyn caring for the other 3 young children (Luther, age 6; Pearl, age 5; Calvin, age 3) while having to be on full bed rest to avoid having contractions or put any stress or strain on her body, which could cause a uterine rupture and/or hemorrhage. They do not know a lot of people where they are living, and don’t have very many family members in or near the area either.

Words cannot express what this family means to me, and how they have impacted my life and the life of my family. In situations like this, when I am quick to fear and tremble with “What ifs,” I usually turn to Carlyn herself, who comforts me consistently with sound Biblical truth and encouragement and Scripture. She has been, more than anyone, the person who has taught me what it is to really trust God in His goodness and sovereignty in my life – every day.

So now, I will remember those encouragements of the past, and continue to cling to the truth of our God – His provision, His goodness, and His sovereign hand.

I urge you to join me in pleading with the Father on behalf of this family.

Of course, let us certainly pray that the surgery goes well – that He guides the hands of the surgical team; that there are no complications; and that Mommy and Baby are well and make a full recovery. It is my sincere hope and longing that this baby, like the other Layton babies, will be healthy, happy, and loved and cared for by James and Carlyn. But ultimately – and, at the encouragement of the Laytons, I’m sure -we will pray with thankfulness to a sovereign God, who we know loves his bride, the Church, and does what is best for her.

I have attached a few photos of the Laytons so that you can print them out, hang them on your fridge, share them via email/social media – please, gather other members of the body to pray for this sweet family.

Resting in the hope only Jesus can give,
Brittany

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June 14, 2013
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This is not going to be a fun, feel-good post. Just putting that out there. This is also not a personal slam or vendetta against anyone. It’s just me doing what I need to do, saying what I need to say, because I need to say it. Period.

Something a lot of people tell me that a big thing they admire and like about me is my honesty and straightforwardness. I really hope so, because you’re about to get a big dose.

Let me start by asking – have you ever felt desperate? Really, truly, desperate?

Let’s look at the definition real quick just to clarify what I mean when I say that:

des·per·ate, adjective

1.reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.
2. having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention.
3. leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperate illness.
4. extremely bad; intolerable or shocking: clothes in desperate taste.
5. extreme or excessive.

Ok, good. That is a perfect and accurate definition.

How do I know, you ask? Because I’m there. Right now. And I’ve been there for months, if not years now.

I’m desperate for community. For transparent, Jesus-centered community.

Several years ago, right after Jared and I were married, we visited a community group at a local church and were awestruck at the immediate fellowship and community we had there. People were totally open, honest, and in it for us and WITH us. We were all in it together. We were a part of that group for 3 years, until, eventually, literally every single family/couple/person moved out of state. We tried out other groups – many others – to no avail. There was always a certain level of formality and facade, and we just couldn’t get past it.

Now, let me include a disclaimer here: I’m not saying that everyone else should always put forth all the effort – you should do YOUR part. Don’t be lazy and sit back and say, ‘everyone has to pursue me while I do nothing’ – but usually, I think it’s safe to say, that you get to know pretty quickly in a social setting who your people are and who they’re not. And if they’re not your people, they’re just not. All the Bible studies and fellowship in the world isn’t gonna change that – and that is ok. God made us all different – one body, many parts. But we ALL have people somewhere.

Especially as believers! Even unbelievers have “people” – people they click with, or people who form relationships easily and quickly..and even people who don’t necessarily have an easy time of it, but are committed to making it happen. How much more, then, should the church have and do those things? How much more, then, should believers make that community a priority? The Gospel necessitates this – we have, of all things in the universe to have in common – the BEST and most WONDERFUL thing in common. We are also commanded in Scripture to have community and fellowship together – and this doesn’t mean, “Waltz into a building once or twice a week and be fake for two hours and then leave”. Jesus said to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

All that to say, of all places in the world we should find and have deliberate, frequent, rich community (a.k.a., not be desperate), it’s the Body of Christ, the church. Right? RIGHT??

The troubling thing about this is that this hasn’t been the case for me in the last several years. In fact, it’s been quite the other way around. I have had more natural, consistent relationships form and last from and in other areas.

So, now, the Big Question is, WHY?

Let’s start with me – right at the source. Have I put forth all of the effort I can in pursuing it? Yes and no. Have we been there every time the doors are open? No. Have we been as consistent as we should be, even? No. Do we take responsibility for that? Absolutely. Anyone who knows me at all should know that one of my pet peeves is people not taking responsibility for their own actions. I am not going to sit here and lie and say I’ve given 100% effort 100% of the time.

I am a human being – and the reality of that is that sometimes stuff comes up, but sometimes I just don’t do what I know I’m supposed to do. Period. So, yes, there are days when the girls decide it’s party time when bedtime rolls around and they’re up every hour on the hour all night and I only sleep 3 hours. On those days, I’m not going to go subject the world to myself, even – or, daresay, especially – at church. There are the weekends that we go out of town. Or, days that someone is sick. (Now – a LOT of people are more liberal with concern for illness than I am. I have always had the philosophy that if anyone is anything other than normal, we stay at home. Not because we want to – but we don’t want to share whatever it is that we have with everyone else. I would and do want that same consideration from other mothers and families. It’s no secret that children – although precious gifts from God- are also festering hosts of sickness.) And, while we’re here, let’s just get real ugly, shall we? Sometimes, we get in the van on the way to church and Jared and I get into an argument and turn around and come back. Sometimes one of the girls has a poo explosion all over themselves, us, and/or the van (that actually does happen with startling regularity). And sometimes, I just think “WHAT IS THE POINT?” and hit snooze, and that’s that.

So, there’s the bad and the ugly. Now, let’s talk about the good.

I have gone consistently. I have been friendly. I have been sincere. I have initiated conversation, even when and if it made me uncomfortable. I have been generous with my time and my attention. I have praised others and put others before myself. I have told myself that I have to pursue others, not wait to be pursued, and just to keep at it. I have – and this has increased in frequency over time – gone totally in the “DISCOMFORT zone” and said, “I like you and want to hang out sometime.” Or, “I want to get to know you better.” I have believed people when they said they enjoyed time with me and wanted to get to know me better. I have repeated to myself to not give up, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to keep trying. I have gritted my teeth, smiled, and repeated my requests when I didn’t hear anything.

How’s that going for me? Not so good. And I don’t know why.

People seem nice at first, people even seem sincere the first one or two conversations I have with them. People have been generous with their time and attention as well. But then, just as fervently as it was initiated, it’s gone. It’s as if we have never met or known each other. Which is really weird to me.

To me, that says that 1) I have offended you in some way or you have just suddenly decided that you don’t like or aren’t interested in me, 2) you were not being honest, but instead overdoing a facade of friendliness, or 3) I am just at the bottom of the priority list, relationship-wise. That third one isn’t so bad if it’s a temporary thing – not because I’m awesome, but because if you said things to me that certainly implied you were committed to actively pursing a friendship and then don’t actually do it – well, that’s a lie. And I hate lies. (And guess what? God hates lies, too.)

What I don’t want, like, or appreciate, or need, is people lying – or, if you want me to go easy on everyone and say something more fluffy like “giving false hope”- when they know good and well they have no intention of following through.

And trust me, before you go all “Oh NO SHE DIDN’T” on me – I am not saying anything I haven’t said to myself in the mirror (well, not LITERALLY, cause that’d just be weird) a thousand times. I promise. My own sin is the biggest burden I carry on my shoulders, daily.

But, what all people – and especially those of us in the Body of Christ – MUST remember is HOW OUR ACTIONS AFFECT OTHER PEOPLE. If you don’t mean something, don’t say it. Don’t lie to each other, especially in the name of or for the sake of seeming like a “nice, friendly Christian” or a “welcoming Church”. A loving liar – what an oxymoron!

I have had to learn this myself the hard way – when I have overcommitted myself or just outright said something insincere to “be nice” – it hurts people. There are consequences.

It really sucks when you think “Hey! Awesome, I really liked them, and they want to hang out again! I can’t wait to spend some more time with them and get to know them better and live life and the truths of the Gospel alongside them” and then you never hear another word from that person.

Again, am I part of the problem? Definitely. Am I the whole problem? No. The thing is, though, I can work – with God’s help – on my side of things. What I can’t do anything about is other people.

And that just sucks. Because the view from where I sit right now is one that looks like everyone else has their own perfect world of Christian love and fellowship at a table somewhere, and there’s not an empty seat in the house. And that’s a pretty crappy feeling. No – it’s a REALLY crappy feeling.

A feeling that leads to desperation. The first part of the definition I listed above is “reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.” That seems a little extreme, but people – let this sink in for a minute, ok? There’s a reason God wants and commands us to be in fellowship with one another. You’ve heard the adage, “No man is an island” right? Same principle applies. It’s unnatural and dangerous for a member of the Body of Christ – be it a man or a family – to be in isolation.

We have to labor in working out our salvation together. We need each other – to see things about ourselves that we can’t or don’t want to see, to confess our sin to one another, to encourage one another, to speak the truth to one another. To keep our lives from being THE (enter your name here) SHOW 24/7. And, if you believe what Scripture says, that’s what we naturally want to do. All of us.

Heck, the irony of all of this? This entire blog post? That’s the root of the whole problem! SELFISHNESS. I’m selfish, you’re selfish, we are all FREAKING SELFISH.

That’s why desperation is dangerous. Because, without others, we WILL – due simply to our nature – fall into a vicious cycle of self absorption and eventually collapse in on ourselves. In isolation, we have no accountability and no checks and balances, and we -and our sin – becomes extreme, excessive, and hopeless.

“Why should I care?” you may ask. That’s an excellent question, I am so glad you asked!

If you’re a Jesus lover and follower and part of the church, the answer is: because you’re commanded to. Because it’s your responsibility to. Not just that – but if you love Jesus, then you should necessarily love the things that Jesus loves. And He loves the Church. So much that he DIED for the Church. Get it yet?

Before I wind this suck-fest up, I first want to acknowledge those that may be thinking, “What am I, chopped liver?” My people who have been and are with me – though few – you aren’t forgotten. I am very very thankful for you. I don’t want to think about how much worse things would have been had it not been for your constant encouragement. You’re my sisters. You know who you are.

On that note – I hope that everyone understands that there is a BIG difference between good friends and a church family. They can overlap, but one isn’t a substitute for the other. I – we all – need both.

As always, I am going to end with some wise words from a wise man – an artist, believer, and person who will probably never know how much God has used him to teach me and encourage me – Derek Webb.

Going off of what Derek says, this is why I am writing this blog post. A lot of people- even most, I’d say – wouldn’t write a blog post like this. That’s ok. You all should know by now that’s just how I am, that’s how I roll, whatever.

I am liberated in being my real self, because I know and trust who Jesus is.

March 22, 2013
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I’m the type of person that, when I really really like something, I have the tendency to sort of get obsessed and talk EVERYONE’S head off for about 3 weeks about it – literally, every person I know is like, “WE GET IT BRITTANY, PLEASE SHUT UP NOW.” Usually, this is because the information I am raving about isn’t particularly interesting to them because it’s not particularly relevant at that moment in time.

….but I need to talk about it. What can I say? I am a true creative…and, let’s face it, a human being (read: narcissist) who likes to share my thoughts and feelings with anyone who will listen.

So, eureka! Enter le blog – a place where people can come and “hear” my opinions and thoughts, ON THEIR TERMS! What a novel idea!!!!

Ok, sarcasm aside, I do sincerely love helping people in that I like giving them tips on really fantastic products or services and my experience with said products. Word of mouth helps everyone – business and consumer alike – so why not?

So, from now on, I’ll be raving about any given personal favorite of mine on here every Friday.

Today’s Fave is Walking With the Wise, an album produced by Sovereign Grace Music. I just literally cannot say enough good things about this album. And that’s a BIG deal given what it is – a kids’ worship album. (I’ll explain in a sec.)

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The album’s thesis is Biblical wisdom (à la the book of Proverbs). A friend recommended it to me when it first came out, and I was hesitant because…well, quite truthfully, I detest children’s music. Nothing takes me from calm to “smash a kitten” faster than kids [badly] singing cheesy songs with a bunch of annoying sounds in the background to accompany them (which is what most kid songs are, if you’re honest.)

Well, not this one. For real.

First of all, all singing on the album is 1) on key and 2) normal. Not sugar-hyped rodent singing. So that gave the album a head start out of the gate, in my book. Also, it’s not just one track after the other of a mass of kids singing in a chaotic vocal free-for-all. There are different vocalists AND different song styles.  This may sound like I am pointing out stupid and/or obvious things – but, trust me, when it comes to kids music I am a severe critic. There are so many good, rare things about this album I want to make sure to include every positive nuance.

Next, this album is packed rich with sound Biblical truth. Obedience to God and parents, honesty, a diligent work ethic, the condition of man, the sovereignty of God…it’s all covered. The Five Solas – BAM. It’s all there. The more I listen to it, the more appreciative I am of how theologically rich and simultaneously straightforward the lyrics are.

Not only that, but it’s easy to understand, repetitive (which is excellent for kids), and it sticks. It’s not just something that is like, “Wow, that is profound and awesome and I love it” and then once you’re not listening to it anymore, it’s forgotten. I am a grown woman and there have been more times than I can count that I have literally been reminded of a track on the album and how it applies at that moment to my life. Also, I’ve been able to have numerous conversations with Piper already about songs on the album and how to apply them (e.g., “Piper, there are plenty of toys for all of us, so let’s share, okay? Remember the song we were singing earlier, about how God loves a generous heart? Sharing our toys is pleasing to God and loving to others.”)

My favorite songs are “A Good Friend,” “I Don’t Have To Hide,” “A Cheerful Heart,” and “A Generous Heart”. I know that is four out of thirteen, which is kind of a lot, but it’s almost impossible to pick one or two favorites because honestly every single track is unbelievably good.

“A Good Friend” is a great one for helping little ones remember and apply how to be just that – a good, Christ-like friend:

VERSE 1
A friend will always think of others
A friend will overlook a wrong
A friend sticks closer than a brother
A friend is patient all along
Jesus, let me be the friend You are to me

CHORUS
A good friend, true friend
Here to help you through friend
Strong friend, kind friend
You can have what’s mine, friend
Best friend, sure friend
Humble and a pure friend
Lord, I wanna be a good friend

VERSE 2
A friend will help me do the right things
A friend won’t lead me into sin
A friend will help me when I stumble
A friend will lift me up again
Jesus, help me find a friend who’ll make me wise 

Isn’t that AWESOME??? That’s Piper’s favorite and she already knows – and can sing- almost all the words! Nothing makes this mommy’s heart happy like my little girl loving, saying and applying Biblical truth.

“I Don’t Have to Hide” is awesome in that it teaches the importance of confessing sin instead of hiding it, which is what is instinctual – and contrasts how hiding sin hurts us and separates us from God, while confessing sin is liberating.

“I Don’t Have to Hide”

VERSE 1 
When I have done something 
I know I shouldn’t do 
And I’m tempted to hide it 
When I have spoken words 
I know I shouldn’t speak 
And I want to deny it 
If I confess my sins, I’ll find mercy 

CHORUS 
Blessed is the one who fears the Lord 
And admits his sin 
Blessed is the one who trusts the Lord 
Who alone forgives 
Jesus died so I don’t have to hide anymore 

VERSE 2 
When I have taken something 
I know I shouldn’t take 
And I try to conceal it 
When I have disobeyed 
The rules my parents made 
I shouldn’t keep it a secret 
If I confess my sins, I’ll find mercy 

BRIDGE 
When we know we’re forgiven 
We don’t have to be afraid 
We’ll want to run from sin 
And follow Jesus every day

Mind blown, right? Right. It’s hard to believe it’s an album intended for young kids, when I find myself almost constantly saying, “I really needed to be reminded of that today.”

And, what parent won’t rejoice over their kid remembering and enjoying a song about willful, joyful obedience? “All Ears” talks about how it’s beneficial for kids to listen diligently to Mom and Dad:

I wanna be all ears when Mom is speaking 
All ears when Dad is teaching 
There’s a lot I don’t know 
And they’ve been around a whole lot of years 
And have covered some ground 
Their words will make me wise, so I’m all ears 

When my eyes are tempted to wander away 
I’ll be all ears 
When my mouth is jumping at something to say 
I’ll be all ears 
Even when it’s hard for me to hear

“A Cheerful Heart” and “A Generous Heart” talk about what each of those attributes of character looks like in application, and how God is the one who gives them to us – it doesn’t come from us.  “A Generous Heart” also talks in detail about how God is the most generous of all, and how this is proven in Jesus.

Thus far, this album has been one of the best theological parenting tools I’ve encountered…seriously. It’s also, again, been something that has been a constant reminder of the great truths that I need to hear on a regular basis as well. Great job, Sovereign Grace. Now can you make an album based on Romans? That’d be great. :)

Go get the album and/or find out more here.

February 18, 2013
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February 06, 2013
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That seems a little dramatic, title-wise, but it’s the truth.

As I am sure you all have seen, heard, etc. in the past few months, Crossfit has become a very significant part of my life. So, naturally, I felt I should tell the world (I guess that’s being a bit optimistic about my blog – so, I guess I should say, ‘tell my humble following’) about it.

Let’s start with the first question I always get asked – “What IS Crossfit?”

You could answer that in so many ways. A lifestyle, a movement, a cult (as some jokingly call it)… Today I am going to go with the more detailed, pragmatic definition.

Crossfit is technically a fitness company founded by a guy named Greg Glassman. From what I understand, he noticed some gaps in the stereotypical “workout” a few decades ago. There were a lot of different types of fitness (e.g., olypmic lifting, gymnastics, calisthenics) that were all good but didn’t necessarily leave any given athlete very well rounded – olympic lifters, for example, would be excellent strength-wise, but not so hot in the areas of agility, speed, and flexibility, like a gymnast would. Glassman decided to create a fitness philosophy that would guarantee that an athlete could be ready for ANYTHING; He wanted it to be logical and functional. He wanted to create something people could – and would – use in everyday life.

Enter Crossfit – “Forging Elite Fitness,” literally. Crossfit’s foundation is the combination of a plethora of fitness genres (like those mentioned above – olympic lifting, gymnastics, calisthenics) for 1) constantly varied, 2) high intensity, 3) functional movement.

“…Uhhhh, what?” Ok, let’s break that down.

1) Constantly Varied – you never do the exact same workout twice (well, except for the Crossfit “Girls”, which are benchmark workouts, aka, markers done periodically to determine your personal improvement). So, for example, say you go to the gym four days in a row. Those four days will have four completely different workouts. There may be some repeated movements (like push-ups), but the workouts will not be identical. Let’s take a look at some workouts from Crossfit.com: the last three workouts they posted (three days consecutively) involved running 800 meters for the first one; front squats, box jumps, kettle-bell swings, and wall balls for the second one; and power cleans, push-ups, and squats for the third one. I know that all those exercises probably sound like gibberish to you – that’s fine. The point is – as I hope you see – that it’s not made up of any of the stereotypical repetitiveness that you get at most gyms (do X on Tues and Thurs and Y on Mon, Wed, and Fri). You do constantly varied workouts so that – again – your body never adjusts to a pattern, and thus, you are prepared for and able to do most anything.

2) High Intensity – oh, this is the fun part. This means just what it sounds like it means. High. Intensity. Moving quickly + doing challenging exercises/weight. You work HARD. Workouts are generally between 15-25 minutes total. You are kicking butt and pushing yourself the entire time – and you’re expected to. Let’s say I told you to walk half a mile. Then, after you were done, I told you to sprint half a mile. During which run did you work harder? The sprint, no question, right?  You did the exact same thing two times, but  the second time you performed at a higher intensity. During a workout, you aren’t expected to go at 100% intensity, but it needs to be in the higher end of the spectrum. Each workout is different, and you have to learn how to gauge your body, but basically, once you know what you’ll be doing, you have to determine how you can pace yourself to reasonably perform at a high intensity the entire time. Make sense? So, for example, last week I did a 105lb power clean. I did it once; it was considered my “max” for that specific exercise. Immediately following that, I hang cleaned (same exercise, different variation) 75lbs fifty five times.  I had to go as heavy as I could given the number of repetitions of that exercise I expected to do. Since 75lbs was about 75% of my max, I could do more reps, but it was still fairly challenging, especially while moving at a fast pace. I did the 55 reps in 15 minutes. That’s one rep every 16 seconds…for 15 minutes straight. So, yeah…intense is a good word.

3) Functional Movement – don’t do it if it’s not functional. What good is something to you if you invest all this time into training yourself, and then when that inevitable, crucial moment arrives and you need elite fitness, it fails you because it’s not functional? Who cares if you can do “pull-ups” (read: starting at the bar and lowering to 2 inches below and coming up again) all day. When you’re running for your life and need to pull up onto a building, a tree limb, whatever, are you going to be pulling up from 2 inches below that object? I think not. You pull your whole body up from a dead hang, or, really, a swinging motion. Right? So, in Crossfit, that’s how we do it. Take a look at the kipping pull up. That’s WAY more functional than the “stereotypical” (cheated) pull-up. Same with push-ups – you’re not going to be pushing your body up off of something starting a foot off the ground with your butt up in the air. ‘Cause that’d just be stupid. You will be flat against the ground and push up that way, with your back FLAT. So, that’s the standard for push-ups – thighs and chest must meet the ground every single time. At first, if you can’t do that (I couldn’t), they allow you to drop your body back down completely and push up from that position. Again, why? Because it’s functional.

Here is a little video explanation for all you visual learners out there:

Crossfit Whiteboard

So, I hope that answers the elusive “What is this…thing…you’re talking about” question for all of you.

Now, down to the really exciting part.

In September of last year, I was desperate. I knew that something had to change or I was literally going to die. Why? I was two and a half months postpartum, and instead of losing any weight, the pounds were piling on. I looked and felt like crap. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would begin to have issues with my sugar levels. I have a strong family history of diabetes, obesity, and heart health issues. I have watched [several of] my family members slowly succumb to diabetes medications, and, eventually, insulin injections. I have seen the stress it has placed on them, both emotionally and financially (those Dr’s visits add up). Not to mention, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was fed-up with tiptoeing around how terrible I looked all the time. I am a very blunt person – once you get to know me – and knowing that people were deliberately avoiding anything to do with my weight or physical appearance was absolutely maddening. And I didn’t want pity. I wanted – and needed- someone to say “GET UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.”

It was me, inevitably, who said that to myself. It was either change how I was living or surrender to how things were, which I was not willing to do. I think the final straw for me was that my maternity clothes – yes, I am embarrassed to admit, the clothes that I wore while I was nine and ten months pregnant – were becoming VERY tight. Too tight. It was either change or go shopping. And I absolutely would not. I decided right then and there I would do whatever it took to fix this problem.

I knew of several good gyms in my area, but to my knowledge there were no Crossfit affiliates. I didn’t know anything about Crossfit at the time, but my cousin’s husband, Cory, had been doing Crossfit for a few years and had mentioned it pretty frequently to me. So I Googled it, found their Affiliate Finder map, and lo! There WAS a brand spankin’ new affiliate that had just opened, and what do you know? It was less than five minutes from my house. I could walk there if I wanted to.

So I called them and talked to a few of the trainers, Ryan and Joey (I really wish I could have recorded those phone conversations, as I am sure they’d give me a good laugh now. I am so awkward already, but how in the world do you say, “Um, yeah, I am fat and horrifically out of shape, and I need to do something or I’m going to die. Although, I am afraid this may kill me anyway.” ? I tried to polish it as much as I could, but, I am sure it was not far off from that regardless). I went to my first workout, where, as Ryan explained everything to me, stuff seemed to make sense and actually seemed like it wouldn’t be all that difficult. HA! I was deranged from postpartum hormones or something, and must’ve had a memory lapse of about, oh, TEN YEARS. Because that is the last time I worked out consistently, or really at all. Needless to say, IT WASN’T EASY. I couldn’t finish it at all, much less in the 15 minutes given. Afterwards, I laid my lardy carcass down in the floor and just tried to remain calm as I internally repeated, “ohmygoshImgoingtofreakingdie. Breathe….nope, definitely gonna die.” And so on. It was like a disco – I was dizzy, heard music, saw spots, felt like I was on drugs…you get the idea. I know Ryan was thinking he’d never see me return willingly. But, after laying in the floor for a good 15-20 minutes, I regained control of my appendages, and waltzed –  about as much as a shaky newborn deer can – right out of there.

Was I embarrassed? Um, what do you think? That’d be a yes. But I thought, “You know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER. You are DOING SOMETHING. Something is better than nothing. And, you know what, fatty? If you don’t like how things are, giving up and not going back isn’t going to help that!” I came up with an internal, motivational tool that I would just repeat to myself any time I got embarrassed or discouraged (and that happened a LOT) – “Use it.” Anger, embarrassment, whatever. It would be the fuel to my figurative fire.

And, so I made myself go. I was so devastated by the first workout, it took me a week to recover, but the next week I went twice. And the next week, three times, and so on until I was going four times a week regularly. I even fell (y’all know how graceful I am)  flat on my face, mid-sprint [and took out someone else in the process] during my fourth week, and I thought I was absolutely going to die from humiliation. But I finished the workout and kept coming back. I decided the injury – even thought it turned out to be somewhat significant – was irrelevant to my goal (and yes, I was OK’d by my doctor to keep going, before you get all horrified).

Which brings us to….the part everyone really cares about….LE RESULTS. (Drumroll, please.)

…………………………………….

My first workout was on September 11, 2012. So, as of today, I have been doing Crossfit regularly for 5 months (21 weeks). In that time, I have DROPPED FOUR PANT SIZES and FIFTY POUNDS.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll even do the unthinkable and share specifics with you! I should be embarrassed by this, but you know what? Honey badger don’t care – it’s all gone now anyway, and NEVER COMING BACK! Anyway, I was approximately 210lbs, a size 16/XL (and growing) the day I started. Now I weigh in at 160lbs, and my size 10’s that have been in the corner of my closet receiving lustful, forlorn glances for the last 6 years FIT – and are a little LOOSE!!

BOOM! I am one happy camper.

And the weight loss isn’t even the best part, if you can believe it. I generally feel better. I have more energy, I’m happier, I sleep better, eat better…I literally have a better quality of life because of Crossfit. How many things in life can a person say that about? Not many.

And, finally, here’s LE RESULTS via photos:

Week 1/First Workout:

 

Week 12 (about halfway):

 

Week 21/today:

And one more of today, because I am too excited not to share – these jeans I am wearing in the next one are ones from my “wish” pile that I mentioned, and I haven’t worn them since 2006!!!!

 

So, there you have it.

I know it may sound extreme, but it’s SO MUCH fun. And, guys, seriously – the Crossfit community is absolutely INVALUABLE- my trainers, Joey, Ryan, and Kari; the girls I work out with at my own box, Crossfit Stacked; and the kindred CF gals (and guys!) from boxes across the land – I was determined to keep at it, but I honestly can say that there is no way I would’ve been AS determined and worked HALF as hard as I did were it not for you all. :) You had a big part in the success I have had. THANK YOU!!

And, if any of you people out there want to try it, get in touch with me, like NOW. I will go with you. Come to our box (FYI, that’s Crossfit lingo for gym. Better get used to the lingo right now, fair warning), or if you can’t because it’s not what’s closest to you, get in touch with me and I’ll go with you to yours. It’s worth it. The only thing you will regret is NOT trying.

Want to stay updated with my progress? Follow me on Instagram @brittanynoodles

December 03, 2012
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I am not sure how to begin this, seeing as how I am not exactly in my chipper, “Let’s blog!” mood. Not that I am in a bad mood, either – just a…non chipper one. Mellow, perhaps? Contemplative….definitely.

Things here are…different. Changing. Or, maybe, they have been different for a while, but it’s taken a while for the realization to hit? I don’t know.

Before I go further, this is not a blog about some…huge, earth-shattering thing. Which is why it’s so intriguing to me, I guess.

I am just becoming more aware of an infinite number of small, seemingly insignificant changes going on all around me. Individually, these things would hardly be noticeable…but there are just a lot of them. It makes me think of the story about boiling a frog. You know, you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put it in cool water and bring it to a boil gradually? It kills the frog because the temperature change is so slight that the frog doesn’t feel it. Ok, so the whole killing thing doesn’t really translate – I am not being melodramatic or anything, all of these changes aren’t bad – it’s just the analogy that most describes how I am feeling about my life, I guess.

Lots of little things, all happening gradually, and then one day it’s like, BAM! Epiphany.

I think I can credit the catalyst of realization to my decision to start working out. (I almost wrote “working out again” – but that’d be a lie. I haven’t worked out consistently in…pffft. Since middle school probably, high school at best. Who am I kidding?) Anyway, even “working out” seems a little understated. More like, I chose life instead of death. Death by obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and junk [food].

I am not going to turn this post into some huge weight loss success story (I’ll save that for another day…ha). But, it seriously HAS had a huge impact on my life. I don’t know what made me wake up. I was just tired. Tired of feeling like crap and being exhausted all the time. Not just physically tired, like from not sleeping…but tired from exertion. Out of shape. Lethargic.

And I thought about that quote about the definition of insanity: “The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results.” I wasn’t happy with how I looked, felt, or much of anything, really, so – by God’s grace – I did something about it.

And, from the discipline it’s taken for me to go to the gym 4 times a week, I have also become more focused and disciplined in other areas. I feel like I have a lot more clarity about…well, everything. Like I can think straight.

Yeah, I’m still tired. Still getting 5ish hours of sleep a night. Still going 110% all the time and feeling like I am moving at a snails pace in terms of accomplishments. But somehow now I am content with that, because I am doing my best. We – Jared and I – we are doing our best.

And it’s a good time. I am learning a lot. A lot about myself, a lot about my relationships with people. Old friendships are changing…some for good, others, not so much.  New friendships are developing. It’s all good, but pretty heavy. Yeah – not to sound like a stoner or anything, but heavy is a good word.

A lot of days it’s all I can do to stay afloat. I feel like it’s a miracle when Jared gets home from work and I have met the needs of both girls and the house isn’t in flames. Jared works 11+ hour days, and he gets home and we are both exhausted, and try to keep our eyes pried open so that we can give the girls attention for an hour and then I’m off to the gym. And when I get home, it’s bathtime and bedtime. Boom. Then, Jared and I rack our brains to see if there is anything urgent we need to discuss, we kiss each other goodnight, and he goes to bed and I come back downstairs to tidy and do dishes and laundry. And, while I am scrubbing the stubborn food off of that dish, staring into the sink, I blink and think, “What just happened? Where did that day go?? What did I DO today?”

Then, when I lay down to attempt to sleep, my brain begins to rattle off my to-do list. Which leads, inevitably, into contemplating things like God’s sovereignty, justice, and the meaning of life, etc. And then? Well, what do you know! It’s 2:51am and I am up blogging.

That’s what I am talking about. I don’t really FEEL that much busier than I have ever been. Do I suddenly care about things more? Or do I worry too much? Or, am I just excessively, unnecessarily reflective as I age? Who knows???

Not me, that’s for sure.

I am just trying to take baby steps. One week, one day, one hour at a time. I am trying really hard to slow down and savor everything. It’s all kind of overwhelming – adulthood, life, whatever – and it’s really easy to just go through the motions and not think.

I guess that is what all this contemplation is about…trying to find the meaning in everything: incessant appointments; late-night, barely coherent pillow talk about our to-do list; changing diapers; dancing with the girls in my pajamas to the Princess and the Frog soundtrack; paying bills; eating “cookies” (read: puzzle pieces) that Piper baked in her “oven” (read: fisher price barn).

Ultimately, every day I feel the weight pressing down on me. Not in a bad way, just…there. A lot of it is good weight. But it’s still heavy.

So, after all that ambiguous rambling, I am going to leave you with some recent images that make my heart feel more light than heavy.

 

(all images taken with Fuji X100)

August 14, 2012
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So it’s been a while. Yeah, I know. My blog is a reflection of me – i.e., imperfect…so I guess there really shouldn’t be any surprise there, huh? Darcy is only 8 weeks old now though, so I am doing better this time than I did last time (I didn’t blog Piper’s birth story until she was several months old).

I am so happy to have my precious girl finally here. She is so adorable, and looks just like her daddy – which is a change from Piper, who could be my clone. As excited as I am to have her here, that excitement is – or, at least, has been– atrophied somewhat because of my recovery.

As many of you may know, I had a cesarean with Piper at 37 weeks. I had preeclampsia and they attempted, unsuccessfully, to induce me. Preeclampsia is a big deal, is common in first pregnancies, and the only cure is delivering the baby. My body just wasn’t ready that early.

This time, I had high hopes for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). The Dr. who delivered Piper had been extremely encouraging and optimistic about my ability to labor with future babies. My current Dr. had also told me numerous times (just as a sort of disclaimer) that my pelvis was pretty narrow, but that didn’t set anything in stone by any means and that I should definitely give it a good try. She said that since the pelvis isn’t a fixed structure during birth, it was definitely possible (although maybe not probable) for me to VBAC. Add that to the fact that my mother had a successful VBAC, and my aunt had two successful VBACS (both of whom are skinnier and more petite than me…so, I figure, their pelvises must be more narrow than mine…meaning if they could then I could, right???). Well, we were feeling pretty confident. So, Jared and I hired a [wonderful] doula to help with the delivery, and with such a supportive team, were sure that we could do it.

Before we go further, though, I am sure some of you are wondering why I care so much about having a VBAC – why not just schedule another C-section?

.Yeah, I get asked that a lot. Jared and I – to keep it simple – LOVE our babies and want more of them. I don’t know how many, but…the consensus between us is and has been “A LOT!” for some time now.

Which brings us to the problem(s). When you have c-sections, the risk to mother and baby goes up with each consecutive surgery, and a LOT of OBGYNs won’t accept patients (or won’t be happy about it, anyway) who have 4 or more c-sections, or perform said sections. And, I’ve done it, so I can say this from experience: having a C-section is MAJOR SURGERY, people. It’s not a walk in the park. There are major risks, and the recovery is a LOT harder and a LOT longer than with a vaginal birth. With a vaginal birth, once you have the baby, you have the baby. It’s over. No recovery (assuming things go normally). With a c-section, you’re in the hospital longer. You can barely walk, much less do anything else (such as pick up or carry or bend etc. which makes life with your other children very interesting). You are on very strong pain medicine, and can’t drive. Again, it’s MAJOR surgery. You are basically on bed rest for a minimum of two weeks.

So, what would having another c-section look like for me? Bed rest. Jared taking off for 2 weeks, minimum, to take care of me. Me feeling guilty about that since I know he is swamped and doesn’t really need to be away from the office right now. Plus, not being able to pick up Piper, put her in her high chair, etc., or drive. Oh, and probably having to always have c-sections from now on. Which means, more than likely, fewer [biological] children.

Yeah. Tough pill to swallow. Which is why I was determined.

The pregnancy went really really well – especially compared with last time – my blood pressure was excellent, I gained less weight, I had no signs of preeclampsia, I had no swelling, and I made it to – and past! – my due date. Things were looking good.

My due date was June 15th, but the first ever prenatal visit I had I was told it was June 18th and they changed it to the 15th at a later appointment. Anyway, (Friday) June 15th came and went. No baby.

On my due date, I thought my water might have broken, so I went to the hospital and got examined just to make sure. False alarm. So, we trudged back home.

That Saturday night, it was pretty late (around midnight) and Jared and I were getting ready for bed – chatting, I was cleaning/organizing some stuff – and I had to pee.

So, I go sit down, and pee. And then I noticed that it just…kept…coming…out. I wasn’t peeing, but stuff was DEFINITELY STILL coming out. I yelled at Jared and I was like, “Um, do you hear that?” and he was like, “Yeah, you’re peeing…so???” and I said, “But, that’s just it…I’M NOT PEEING!”

[We were both a little skeptical, given that I had literally JUST been in the labor and delivery ward thinking the same thing had happened the day before, and I had been wrong. I wasn’t about to humiliate myself by going and being told it was another false alarm.]

The leaking stopped, so I get up and continue doing stuff and then it happens again…this time all over my clothes. I told Jared to call the on-call Dr. and ask them what to do. I had decided at that point that either 1) I was crazy and had a seriously incompetent bladder and needed to go to the ER for that anyway, or 2) my water had definitely broken.

After being advised to come in by the on-call doctor, we called our labor babysitters (aka, Jared’s parents) and they headed to the house. When they got there, Jared’s dad drove us to the hospital and dropped us off.

We ended up getting to the hospital around 2, and seen by a doctor by around 3, who confirmed that my water was DEFINITELY broken. Jared and I settled in and planned to try to get some rest before the morning, when things were probably going to pick up. Jared was able to sleep, but I was really anxious, and didn’t sleep a wink, despite my best efforts. Around 7am, my contractions started to pick up a little, but it was still pretty mild. My doula and friend, Angie, got there around 9am, which was perfect timing since that is when things really started to get…well, painful. I talked to the Dr. at 10am and was given pitocin at 11…after that, things got pretty hard-core, contraction-wise. About 3-4min apart and STRONG. By 1pm I was ready for an epidural, partially because of the pain, but mainly because I was afraid after not getting any sleep that I would quickly get exhausted and not make it to the pushing stage. The epidural took 3 attempts, which was really difficult given that I was having really painful contractions the whole time and had to keep really still.

By 11pm that night, I was completely dilated and started pushing. The pushing was going really well. Everyone was really surprised and pleased with how great a job I was doing and the progress I was making with the pushing…for the first hour and a half. By the next hour and a half, we were all beginning to realize that there was a problem. The Dr. originally gave me a goal of trying to have the baby out by 2am, and said after that we’d have to have a talk about how things were going to go and the risks of pushing longer, etc.

There at the end, I was exhausted, delirious, frustrated, getting discouraged, and feeling the urgency upon my shoulders to get the baby out NOW, or I would be rolled into surgery.

Despite all of that, I also felt extremely loved and supported. My labor team was amazing – I had a resident, my OB (who was actually not my OB, but a sub, since mine was on vacation, but who still did a fantastic job), several nurses, my doula, my mom, my aunt, and Jared. All of them were in there with me the entire time I was pushing…wiping my face, holding my hands/legs, telling me I could do it. There is no way I could have pushed that long without their help. They are what kept me believing I could do it all the way up until the very end.

But…I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.

By 3am, my contractions had almost stopped completely. I had no power behind the pushing, and I knew it was over. My mom and aunt both left the room – they said it was to inform everyone else, but I knew it was mainly because they were upset for me and didn’t want me to see them crying– and the rest of the team pampered and reassured me. They told me that I had done the best I could, and the situation now was absolutely not due to lack of effort, etc. The Dr. looked at me – I kid you not, with tears in her eyes – and said, “If I could give anyone the right to have a baby, it would be you. You deserve to have this baby. I am so, so sorry.” At that point, I was just concerned with getting myself emotionally ready for the reality of surgery.

So, we got suited up (and drugged up, in my case)- and after 20 total hours of labor, with 4 hours of pushing- off to the operating room we went.

Darcy was born via cesarean at 3:27am on June 18th, my original due date.

The surgery was hard. Scary, and a lot more difficult than when I had Piper. The epidural was only supposed to numb me from my feet up to my chest (top of the ribcage area). For whatever reason, it numbed up to my neck. After I had been on the operating table for a few minutes, I went to take a breath and couldn’t. Needless to say, between the exhaustion, the emotions, and the drugs, I FLIPPED OUT. I started saying [outloud], “I can’t breathe. I am going to die.” At first I was pretty calm, just thinking out loud. All the doctors and nurses in the OR kept telling me that I wasn’t going to die and that I was, in fact, breathing because I was talking. Which obviously makes sense. But, when you can’t feel yourself take a breath, and it doesn’t feel like you’re breathing….it’s pretty freaky. I just started saying “I can’t breathe, I’m going to die…” over and over, and I kept saying them faster, and I could feel myself panicking. Then I realized I was crying. And I would gasp for air because I was crying and I couldn’t take in any air (or, so it felt).

Jared was finally allowed in at that point (they have to get you onto the table and get stuff set up before husbands/whoever are escorted in). I guess they warned him that I’d lost it because he immediately came over to me and grabbed my hand. (Which, you know, was good…that I would get to say goodbye, you know. Since I was clearly dying…I thought.) I told Jared I was dying…he also insisted that I wasn’t, which was making me panic more, because I CLEARLY WAS – these people were not taking me seriously here, there was something really, very wrong and no one even believed me. He told me to squeeze his hand whenever I thought I was dying, and that would reassure me I wasn’t…because if I could squeeze his hand, I was alive and could breathe. Which really doesn’t make much sense but it worked. I remember squeezing his hand, and crying, and then…nothing.

And then I woke up. To Jared. Holding a baby.

And he looked at me and said, “Look Darcy, here is your mommy.”

And the realization hit me that I had blacked out, and during that time they had delivered her, cleaned her, weighed her, and swaddled her and given her to Jared, as well as stitched me up – which means I must have been out quite a while.

And then, I was in pain. A LOT of pain. See, with an epidural the medication is a lot more localized and precise…so they gave me enough to last through the surgery and after surgery was over, it started to wear off…which is what I was feeling.

I cried because of the pain the whole way from the OR back up to my room. When they picked me up and moved me back from the operating table to my hospital bed, I yelped in pain because it really REALLY hurt. I felt like I had been beat with a baseball bat all over…even on the inside. I was really alarmed because with Piper, I didn’t feel pain like that. I was a little sore later, but certainly not immediately, and not that bad, either. And when I got to my hospital room, the fun continued…the nurse had to come in and press on my abdomen….and I thought again, “I am going to die.”

The thought seriously occurred to me to reach over and knock the head off of that nurse, but then it also occurred to me that such sudden movement would probably also be really painful, so I didn’t. But I wanted to.

And, let me just say, when most of your family is there and you look like a big, ugly, swollen gorilla who hasn’t showered, and you’re half naked, drugged, bleeding and screaming in pain…well, it’s sorta awkward.

But then, after I realized I was going to live, and the Evil Nurse left, I was able to hold Darcy and get a good look at her.

She was gorgeous (of course she was, who I am I kidding? I gave birth to her, did I not?). No, seriously, she was beautiful and looked just like Jared. And, at that moment, it was all worth it. And I thought, “I would do this 10 more times if I had to.” (Yeah, that’s motherhood in a nutshell, people. For real.)

After all that pain, and seriously thinking I was going to die…it was all obsolete after I laid eyes on her. Funny, that.

Recovery has been difficult, to say the least. I’ve had a reminder every single day that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do the one thing that I wanted to do, the thing that millions of women have been doing for thousands of years, since the beginning of the human race – birth a child. I failed at something I was biologically created to do. What a horrifying realization.

I have struggled a lot with feeling like a failure. It’s a difficult thing to cope with, because those feelings of defeat make me feel ungrateful, which I am most certainly not. But it keeps running through my head, over and over – “You’re healthy, aren’t you? Darcy is healthy. Things could have been much, much worse. How ungrateful can you be??” Like I am nitpicking. And then I feel guilty for nitpicking and not just being happy that I have a healthy baby and I will be able to have [at least] one more healthy baby, as far as I can tell.

Then I think about having surgery….AGAIN. And the risks involved. And dealing with the recovery…AGAIN. And knowing that I can’t do something that LOTS of other people are able to do….AGAIN. And it’s really REALLY overwhelming.

What gets me the most, though, is thinking about my babies. I look at Darcy and Piper and I well up immediately with tears in response to how much I love them, and how much I love being their mommy. And how much I want more babies to love. And I can’t think about that now without facing the reality that I probably won’t be a mommy to as many babies as I would like to. And that makes me absolutely heartbroken.

So. Heartbroken → defeated → ungrateful → guilty → appreciative → covetous → heartbroken. A vicious cycle.

I am thankful, though…that can’t go unsaid. I am so thankful for a sovereign God whom I don’t always understand, but whom I can trust, because I know that He is GOOD. His nature and character are good. What He ordains is good, and right…but not always easy.

And though at times I think I am being silly, because me and the baby are both healthy, and because this isn’t as much of a tragedy as it could have been – or really even a tragedy at all, even though it might feel that way – I remember that it’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to feel angry, or depressed, or defeated. It’s OK to question why it happened. It’s OK to mourn the children that I probably won’t be able to have. My emotions are real. And the greatest truth of all? God can handle it.

Ultimately, if I can’t have as many babies as I want, it’s because it’s BETTER for me not to…God knows what is he doing. He does it all for His glory and our sanctification…and that is okay by me.

I wish it were more than just OK with me…I wish I could get excited about that. I can’t right now. That’s just the honest truth. I trust God, I know in my head everything I need to know…all the doctrine and the wonderful truths about God and His character…but those truths have not made their way into my heart yet. They will…in time. That’s just another thing I have to trust Him with.

Here is a hymn I have repeated to myself, read, sang, and wept over in the last 2 months. And, inevitably, I weep over it again now.

Every word is true… Every. Single. One.

WHATE’ER MY GOD ORDAINS IS RIGHT

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Holy His will abideth.
I will be still whate’er He does,
And follow where He guideth.

He is my God,
Though dark my road.
He holds me that I shall not fall
Wherefore to Him I leave it all

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
He never will deceive me
He leads me by the proper path,
I know He will not leave me

I take, content,
What He hath sent
His hand can turn my griefs away
And patiently I wait His day

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Though now this cup in drinking
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it all unshrinking

My God is true,
Each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart


April 11, 2012
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As a lifestyle photographer, I am paid – and expected – to get involved with my clients on a pretty intimate level when I’m shooting. It takes a lot for someone to truly drop all inhibitions and just be themselves when you’ve got your own personal paparazzi – it’s intimidating, right?

I do try my absolute hardest to make sure that’s not the case, though. And a big, BIG part of that, as far as I’m concerned, is first and foremost from MY end of things. I have to be MYSELF with my clients first, before I expect them to allow me the privilege of seeing them for who they truly are. Right?? Right.

…Which is why I am here to tell you a few things about me today. Some things you should know, might want to know…and, let’s face it, maybe some stuff you DON’T necessarily want to know…’cause that is just how I roll. 😉

The most prominent disclaimer that comes to mind is that I am not a polished person. “What do you mean by ‘polished,’ exactly?” Excellent question. Let’s refer to Dictionary.com’s #2 and #3 answers: “naturally smooth or glossy; elegant”. Now, not to say that I don’t try….the good Lord knows I do. Oh, do I. But, as with most things in my life, but particularly in this one area, Murphy’s Law is ALWAYS proven right.

BUT, don’t take this the wrong way – I am not a huge mess of ugly chaos either…or, at least, I don’t think I am. I’m just not one of THOSE girls….you know. Those girls that are polished. Whose hair and makeup is always immaculate, whose outfits are expertly put together and coordinated and trendy…and it always manages, somehow, to STAY THAT WAY.

Do I put a lot of effort into trying to look nice? Yes, of course. Do I meticulously apply my makeup and style my hair and arrange my wardrobe? Yes. But, inevitably, when I walk out the door, something like this always happens: I trip and fall, bust something on the sidewalk, injure myself and/or damage said wardrobe; a bird poops on my head; a large vehicle somehow blows excessive amounts of grass/dirt/mud/water all over me, etc etc.

Think I’m kidding? I’ll give you an example. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, I can assure you. When I was a freshman in college, my cousin Heather and I went to see a movie together at the mall. Before we left, we were getting ready and Heather begged me to let her do my makeup…so I did. I was wearing a purple (read: plum) shirt that day, and she was still in her matching-eyeshadow-to-clothes-stage, so guess what color eyeshadow she put on me? Yep, plum. I pretty much looked like I had been punched in both my eyes. Of course, being the trusting, loving cousin and friend that I am, I assumed when she was finished I would look normal and didn’t look at a mirror afterward…which was clearly a mistake.

So we get to the mall, and we’re walking around and I keep getting stared at…like a mutant (which is how I am sure I looked). But, I didn’t know this at the time, of course, so I was a little confused. I am used to people staring at us when I’m with Heather, but not at me, and definitely not the way they were looking at me, which wasn’t very reassuring. It was more like, “Wow, look at the freak show” staring instead of “Woah, hottie alert” staring. But, instead of being too suspicious, I shrugged it off and we went on to the movie.

The movie (Bridget Jones) was rated R, and technically, at 17, Heather was too young to get in. So we waltz up to the ticket counter, and I am all like, “Be cool” to her, and THEN they hassle ME -scowling- and ask to see my ID. Immediately after that, Heather asks for the same ticket, to which they reply, “Sure, miss – here you go. Enjoy the show.” No ID check. (Again though, in retrospect, I am surprised they even let ME in at all, given my appearance. Maybe they felt sorry for me?)

Fast forward two hours, we get out of the movie, and the scowling, gawking etc continues as we walk through the mall. Heather was such a pal – either she was seriously oblivious to it or got some sort of sick pleasure in watching me get mocked by the general public. So I FINALLY go into a fitting room and, look, to my horror, in the mirror. Where I see a girl who looks like she BADLY misapplied her mother’s makeup and/or has been assaulted in the facial region. I’m talking plum eyeshadow UP TO THE EYEBROWS, PEOPLE.

Suppressing my urge to violently kill Heather by throwing her off the top level of the mall, etc, instead I screamed – still in the dressing room – and then stomped out and pointed to my eyes, and bellowed, “I. LOOK. LIKE. I’VE. BEEN. FREAKING. PUNCHED. IN. BOTH. MY. FREAKING. EYES.” Heather’s only response? Apoplectic laughter. I just stood there, watching her roll on the floor laughing…and after a few minutes, I surrendered as well. We laughed for about forty years about that. All the way out of the mall, all the way home. Literally. I still laugh so hard that I cry when I think about it.

But, yeah, not exactly what I’d call “being polished,” really.

I think another  excellent – albeit fictional – example of said unpolishedness is embodied in Bridget Jones (…so it’s kinda funny that my story included that film.)

I LOVE Bridget Jones. I always have. I got the books when they were in the “new release” section at Kmart in the late 90s – before anyone had ever heard of them- and devoured them at the ripe age of 14. Bridget is, I’ve always felt, my literary soulmate.  Anyway, if you’ve read the books, you know Bridget, though lovable, isn’t polished. She does try, but she just isn’t.

That’s me. I’ve realized that I will probably never be one of those graceful, immaculate women. I’m ok with it. It doesn’t mean I’m any less significant of a person. It doesn’t mean I am not nice, down-to-earth, and professional. I have concluded that it’s God’s way of ensuring that I will always have a sense of humor. You can’t have stuff like that happen to you all the time and NOT have one.

So, here’s to even more laughs birthed in the throes of my abashed unpolishedness. Bring it on.

 “I am a child of Cosmopolitan culture, have been traumatized by supermodels and too many quizzes and know that neither my personality nor my body is up to it if left to its own devices. I can’t take the pressure.” –Bridget Jones’ Diary

 

February 27, 2012
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Ladies and gents, meet adorable little baby JET.

 

…and some behind-the-scene stuff, just for fun:

right before I took this next image, Tim and Jess leaned over and gave each other a little smooch, which would’ve been PERFECT….except, JET decided to, at that precise moment, cross his eyes in the most bizarre way I have ever seen (maybe he was trying to look at them??). I, of course, lost it, busted out laughing and had to report this to Tim and Jessica who looked and also thought it was hilarious. Everyone laughing, it seems, was the cure.

isn’t it adorable how they’re making the same exact expression??

and, lastly…the Williams gang had to cash in on some baby cuddle time:

Piper is going to be such a great big sister. :)

They’re all three looking straight at the camera. Score!