Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stop thinking about Phil Robertson...and let me love you.

As my Facebook newsfeed is erupting with statuses about Phil Robertson's forced hiatus from his own reality show due to anti-gay comments in a GQ article, I can't help but come back to several core thoughts.

It's a reality show about openly Christian southerners, yet you're surprised by his beliefs and want to censor him? Remind yourself of the definition of the word reality.

It's honestly kind of annoying to go into Walmart and see Duck Dynasty on literally everything - eye glasses, pillows, dishes, Christmas ornaments, you name it! Their values and lifestyle reflect what a lot of Southerners consider to be their own, but chill the hell out with the overglorification of this family. They are not to be made idols simply because they put their faith on TV. Respect them, like them, but don't lay your head on a Si pillow at night. That is too ridiculous.

Also, while I think it's dumb for A&E to pull one of the key figures in an extremely popular show, I'm not pissed about it. Fan opinions will be heard, and I predict that A&E will reinstate the patriarch of the family into the show in a dramatic, media-heavy way, and all will be right with the world. He's already made a statement to the press that he in no way hates LGBT people, but that his comments come from his personal faith. It may not be an apology for what he said, and he doesn't owe one. He's entitled to believe whatever he desires. It is, however, sort of a 'don't hate the player, hate the game' response.

This is fine, because I'm glad he is abiding by my two core beliefs when it comes to faith.

Love God.
Love People.

Everything else important will stem from these two. If it doesn't, it probably wasn't important.

I'm going to step on some toes now, and I like to wear heels, so it will probably hurt. 

I'm totally fine with gay relationships and marriages. I'm fine with families lead by gay parents. 

This isn't just an attempt to follow the latest issues and come out on the more acceptable side. This isn't because I just finished season 1 of The Fosters on Netflix. This is something I feel deep in my heart. Yes, there are several locations in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but I firmly believe that as Christians, we aren't doing anyone any good when it comes to eternity if we say, "I don't even know you, but the Bible says this, so you need to change." 

It's my job to meet you where you are and love you. 

Let me say that again.

It's my job to LOVE YOU. 

So I will. 

If loving you looks like honoring your relationship the way you'd like me to, that's what I'll do. 
If loving you looks like standing up for you, that's what I'll do. 
You're freaking right that loving you looks like praying for you, and you know I will. 

No, you won't see me picketing, petitioning, or calling my Congressmen, but you will see me treat you like a person. That's my main problem here. People argue that allowing gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage, yet you don't see too many marriages that uphold every biblical example. 

We accept divorce as a cultural norm. We laugh at Brittney Spears having a 55 hour marriage. 

Like I said before, my faith stems from 2 things. If I love you like I should and live my life as an example, I don't need Hell, fire, and brimstone to show you the way. They will know we are Christians by our love. 

I love you and I will pray for you to have a relationship with God, whatever that looks like.
He will be the judge. That's not my job. 
I've already told you what my job is, so give me the opportunity to do it. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Controversial Christmas


Jen Hatmaker - The Christmas Conundrum

In the above link, you will find an extremely compelling article detailing what exactly is wrong with the consumer Christmas, and what she suggests to do about it. I agree whole-heartedly.

As married college students, we often engage in this conversation with other Christian couples, "What are you going to do about Santa?" Now that we are actually parents, the importance of this question is much weightier. Granted, Roman will only be 1 this Christmas 2013, but we want to be prepared. We want to be grounded in our beliefs before the chaos of traditions set in and we end up feeling like we can't go back.

As an older, unmarried teen, I didn't like the idea of Santa at all. I told my parents I didn't want my children believing in Santa because it is pointless to lie to your children, even if it is intended for good fun. I felt like the Santa-myth bred so many points of gluttony and greed in children and I detested the song, He sees you when you're sleeping, He knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake! The idea that our children would value Santa over God is appalling. We shouldn't be threatening our children that Santa won't bring them any gifts if they aren't good throughout the year. We should train them to be obedient because God has called us to do so.

Similarly, the lengthy letters to Santa with item after desired item written inside puts children in a position of expectation. They may understand their parents' financial situation, but Santa is magic. He and his elves make the toys (that you somehow also see identical replicas of in the stores...? How did this not occur to me as phony as a child?) so they can afford to give you whatever you ask for. When Christmas morning comes, and under the tree is a modest assortment of things your parents can afford, disappointment sets in instead of joy.

The author touches on this bratty greed by remembering Christmas 1985 when she was mortified to discover one of her sweatshirts was a $3 sale item at Walmart. Have I been this child? Absolutely. Do I want to see this in my children? Absolutely not. This isn't about my children simply respecting the means we have (or don't have) as parents to provide for their wants, but it goes further -- into their hearts. I want my children to have nice things, but I don't want them to be defined by nice things.

Even more important than the depth of my children's character regarding gifts, is the notion that if you lie to your children about something so intrinsic to our lives and culture, such as Santa, how then are you supposed to gain and maintain their trust when it comes to crazy integral parts of our faith -- like, hey, the existence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit...or the validity of the Bible...or anything else we hold so near and dear?

There are many other extremely worthwhile points in the article, but the one that struck me with the most resounding impact was the issue of Santa. This is a completely attainable way that I can show my children what Christmas is truly about to me. This is a way to bring my focus and my heart back to what matters.

With that being said, we are saying NO to Santa. We are telling our children the story of Santa, just like you may tell many beloved fairy tales, Disney stories, or other Christmas tales like Frosty or Rudolph. We will tell them about St. Nicholas and his love for Christ that led him to give. We will talk about the wise men who brought gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to baby Jesus. We will talk about how our gifts (both physical and gifts of our time) effect others. We will hold these stories in our hearts and cherish them as fond Christmas fun -- but they will not be our focus. Our children will know the story of Santa, and they will understand that your children think he is real. If the school takes a picture with Santa or colors a Rudolph picture, more power to them. I won't interject. These things are all good fun, but we won't make Santa an idol in our home.

I understand that many people, family included, may think I am sucking the fun out of Roman and our future children's Christmas season. You may see a belief in Santa as harmless fun, but to me, this is an assimilation into the consumerism that we are all entangled in so deeply. I want my children to know the truth. I know we will receive judgment, but I will never put my faith aside to make you more comfortable.

It's an issue that has been nagging at me since before I was a parent, and now that I have a chance to mold the life of someone so precious, I want to make sure I train my child up in the way he should go -- starting with celebrating the birth of our Savior the way it should be celebrated.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Give a Care Package


This week, I spent a few minutes putting together a care package for a family whose <1 month old boy has been hospitalized with bacterial meningitis in his spinal fluid and blood. He had seizures, and was previously intubated, but is now extubated. I go to college with this little boy's aunt and after how kind she and her boyfriend were to me during my pregnancy, I had to do something for her family. And after all, I am a mom, so I automatically put myself in the place of this boy's parents. As a complete stranger to them, this seemed like the perfect way to offer encouragement.

I love gift-giving, and especially as we approach this season of giving, it truly gives me joy to spend my time and money giving something to someone else. With that said, I don't mean this post to be a 'look at me giving a care package, I'm so great' post, but rather a suggestion of something you can do for someone going through a tough time.

Your care package doesn't have to include this many items. Not long ago, I sent a care package to a classmate of mine whose son underwent an open heart surgery. I sent a toy for the child and a package of snacks for the parents.

I'll break down the items I chose and tell you why:

The family has two older children, a boy and a girl, so I chose 2 coloring books and 2 packs of crayons. There will probably be several times that the kids are at the hospital with their parents or even home with a babysitter and it can be helpful to have something entertaining to do. Typically if a family with a small child is in the hospital, or in need in any way, I give a coloring book and new crayons to the child.

These items are for the parents.

  • A magazine to pass the time. 
  • Gum for those long shifts at the hospital when they didn't get a chance to brush their teeth, or maybe just to help with nerves. 
  • A notepad and pens to jot down medical jargon or make notes.

Snack food is always a great item to include in a care package. 
  • Ritz cheese crackers
  • Mott's natural fruit snacks (these have fruit AND veggies in them!!)
  • mini Nilla wafer cookies
  • Flips white fudge covered pretzels

As you can see from my pictures, Christmas is right around the corner, so I challenge you to make a care package for someone you know during the giving season. Maybe it will go to the family of a child at a Children's Hospital, a shut in from your church, an elderly person, or anyone having a tough time. It can be so rewarding to step back from the consumer culture we live in during this time and be the giver for a change. I also challenge you to selflessly give without looking for praise or recognition. 

Join me in praying for the family of this sweet boy who is going through some serious health complications!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post by one of my friends reading,



How unbelievably true. 
Sometimes we mess up.
Sometimes everything is hard.
Sometimes I don't do the right thing.

This post is as much directed to my heart as it is to everyone else's, and to be honest, here are a few things I deal with on a weekly basis. In the spirit of dispelling the myth that some parents/couples/adults have it all together, let me be very open with you.

  • Sometimes Roman makes me so crazy frustrated that I put him in his crib and lay on my bed and cry until I feel like I can pray for a better circumstance or a better attitude.
  • I typically don't fold or put away ANY of my laundry. Like none of it. I wash it, dry it, and throw it in a basket in my hall. I spray Downy wrinkle releaser on stuff or tumble it for a few minutes in the dryer. I also don't sort my clothes by color. I wash baby stuff in one load and Mommy & Daddy stuff in all the others. (just because I eliminate fragrance from Roman's laundry)
  • My bedroom floor has little piles of dirty clothes on it because all of my hampers are filled with clean clothes that I won't put away.
  • I drink way more caffeine than a breast feeding mom should..
  • I honestly don't try that hard to make Roman sleep in his crib all night. Sometimes I just let him sleep in our bed all night because with our busy schedules, that feels like the only time all three of us can be together.
  • I take my education for granted. I think about quitting on a daily basis, but I have to remind myself that this is the only chance I will get to graduate debt free.
  • I bounce between an over-glorification of myself and an over-glorification of others -- a.k.a. A depreciation of myself. I may do a great job on my make-up (which is a fun hobby for me, not a mask I hide behind) and pick out a really cute Fall outfit, but then I catch a glimpse of my (literal) neighbor leaving for work with her long shiny hair and her sophisticated outfit and suddenly I feel like 2 cents instead of a million bucks. 
We live in a Pinterest culture where you have to feed your family Paleo-organic-not processed-homemade with love dinners in your Pier One catalog dining room while looking like you have a personal stylist.

Holy crap. Get real. No one lives like this. 

And if we're talking about comparison of relationships, Dillon and I argue about 
dumb stuff like chores. 

Like all couples, we argue about stuff like why there are 10 Starburst wrappers on the entertainment center (Dillon) or who let Roman have a sippy cup with a loose lid that resulted in water being poured all over his body and our carpet (Me). These little 1 minute arguments are normal and we typically apologize and say I love you. We've only been married for a year and three months, so more serious fights may come up in the future, but we picked marriage, and we picked forever. That means a lot to us, so we put our arguments into perspective and work things out.

We don't have it all together.
Don't be fooled by all the pictures on Facebook  - my child does misbehave and cry!
Sometimes I misbehave and cry. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. Your happy doesn't have to look like my happy. If your happy does look like my happy and you are missing that happy, try to remember that I spend a lot of moments sitting on the couch making to-do lists that never get done.

A lot can be said about my priorities too. Roman and Dillon first, school second, Chi Alpha third, and my house is waaaaay last. I end up the most upset about the way things look, which is ridiculous because it is last on my priority list, so obviously if I'm not getting around to it, I must be doing a kick-A job with stuff on the top of my priority list.

Perspective. 

Don't let your perception of others steal your joy. 

A moment spent in comparison is a moment wasted.

I can't think of another cliche to prove my point, so...

Go, live your real life and be proud of it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Chi Alpha DGroup Launch


Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year for Chi Alpha -- DGroup Launch Night!!

Over the past few weeks, Chi Alpha leaders have been building relationships with students in attempts to form this year's DGroups. We have been fishing for men in our classes, during breaks, and at the many events throughout the past month.

Tonight, we will give the students a chance to commit to coming to one of our DGroups. Each leader-pair created a short biography and took a picture to put in a DGroup book that will be circulated tonight. Students will be able to meet up with leaders and exchange numbers and information about the first DGroup of the semester.

Let me explain to you guys where my heart was 2 years ago on DGroup launch night. I was a freshman who didn't have a relationship with God. I grew up in church and had basic book knowledge, but I didn't love God and was running from him. At the time, I was in a dark place, morally, and was running from all authority, especially spiritual authority. Dillon and I had been dating for just a few weeks, but he asked me to come to Chi Alpha with him and his roommates. I was so reluctant because church was the last place I wanted to be after several years of seeing hypocrisy, judgement, the use of Biblical text out of context, and misuse of time/power/resources by church staff. I agreed to come, and was completely caught off guard. I had never attended a service where you stand up for the entire musical worship, where songs were 10 minutes long, or where people worshiped passionately. I actually felt physically ill because Satan was feeding me with lies and negativity about this service. He fed me lies about whether or not I deserved to be there. He filled me up with hate for myself, with memories of things I had done and where I had been. I sat down and Dillon put his hand on me. He told me later (like a year later) that he prayed for me that I would enjoy Chi Alpha. As I sat there, I experienced what I know now to be the Spirit moving in me and dissipating those negative things Satan was feeding me. I really started to listen to the music, and Amy's voice just blew me away because it sounded like Jesus Culture, which I actually liked. (Amy was a former worship singer) I didn't worship that night and I can't remember what Carp spoke about or anyone I met. I just know that I decided then to join a DGroup. That night changed my life forever.

Although I didn't end up going to the DGroup I originally chose for very long, those leaders were able to connect me to another leader who turned out to be a wonderful friend to me and a major reason why I let God into my life.

God did amazing things for me through DGroups. He provided me with girl friends, when I was the self-proclaimed girl-hater. He showed me that you could have fun without doing things that were against God's will. He used my leaders and friends to show me how to be transparent.

Please! Please! Pray for me and my fellow leaders tonight as we launch DGroups. May we meet so many 2011 Bethany's who need God desperately. May we fight the forces of Satan by filling this campus with the Spirit. May we do His will.

To my Chi Alpha family -- I love you all. Thank you for all you have done in the past 2 years. I cannot wait to help God change lives tonight along with you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

1st Day of Daycare

Monday morning, the 26th, Dillon and I left Roman at daycare for the very first time!

It has been such a heartbreaking journey for us over the past few months as we wrestled with the topic of childcare. We returned to school when he was just 3 weeks old last semester, so naturally no daycare could care for him. We relied on one another and a few friends to get us by at first, but then classes became too stressful to keep up with. I would come home after being away from my boy for 4 hours, engorged from not feeding him when he took a bottle, and just miserable. I would hold him and cry and promise that I wouldn't ever leave him again. I had many conversations about dropping out of school, getting a job at a daycare where he could come to work with me, and letting Dillon pursue his degree while I made money. This is such a realistic and fantastic option for many moms, but I could not bear to give up the thousands per semester I receive in scholarships. It was then that we decided to drop down to part-time students.

(our boy back then)

Everything went so well with this plan and our scholarships remained in tact. Our GPA's were slightly lower, but still passing and thriving. When it came time for us to return to school this semester, we knew that it was time for him to go into childcare. I wanted a flexible, home environment at first, but cost limited us to a daycare facility. We selected a great daycare in Conway (which I won't name here to protect my privacy and my son's safety! If you want to know, please only ask me in private.)

I did so well dropping him off. We left quickly to avoid any tears (from him or from me). I may have shed one or two dozen in the car!

At his daycare, the parents and the teachers fill out a form everyday on the child's daily activities.
It shows when they ate and how much, when they had their diaper changed and what was inside (non parents may think...YUCK, but all parents know you talk about this. haha), when he slept and how long. Parents are responsible for telling the daycare about what went on before he got there so they can keep him on a schedule. I love these reports!

Daddy went to pick Roman up from daycare and he said he was just sitting in his teacher's lap, being as cute as ever! He was good and didn't get upset. We are having a problem with him refusing bottles, but he is eating his lunch (veggies and oatmeal), so we know he isn't starving. He is also having a lot of trouble adjusting to taking naps in his crib at daycare. Each child has their own crib which has its sheets and blankets washed daily. Roman isn't used to being put down to sleep in a noisy room, and honestly loves to sleep in our laps, so this will be a big change for him.


On the night of his first day at daycare, I came down with some type of stomach virus and was super sick for about 24 hours. Dillon was at work when the worst of it hit me, so I was at home alone with a baby while enduring a sickness which to me is the worst kind! I had plenty of people offering to come help, but I felt like I may be contagious so I didn't want to bring anyone else into the mix. I ended up putting him in his pack n' play and just laying down and crying. It was torture for me to both feel so bad, and see my boy wanting me to play and not being able to even pick him up. After the sickness passed, I still had a horrible time recovering because I had no appetite and was barely eating, but I was still breastfeeding Roman, so what little nutrients I was getting was going straight to him. It was Thursday before I started eating normally again.

Daycare is a new adventure for our family and we are so thankful to have found a good place, especially when I was so sick on Tuesday and couldn't keep up with him! We pray daily for his teachers and the kids in his class, so feel free to join in that.

Friday, August 30, 2013

American Dream and Good for the Weekend

Friday night (8/23/13), Chi Alpha hosted The American Dream. This is an event directed towards freshmen during the end of move-in week. We put on the same event on the campus of Arkansas Tech University on Wednesday night. Outside of UCA's 'Old Main', we have constructed a pair of glasses large enough for several people to walk through and have decorated inside and out to look like a vintage carnival. Leaders were all over the steps, lobby, and road dressed as vintage carnies. We had ring masters, a man on stilts, World's Strongest Man, ventriloquist, and tons of vintage-looking prettyheads.

 (the following pictures were taken by Elizabeth Sneed)

(Lauren and Blake)

 (Michael)

 (Travis, Katie Ann, Kevin, Dylan) 

(Tim)

I dressed up as a generic carnie and was a 'Monkey Handler'.

Cutest little monkey around, am I right?

As students came up the steps, greeted by myself and other carnies, they were asked to make several decisions based on what was most important to them in different aspects of their futures.

They took the card that represented what was most important to them and went inside. The message Carp revealed was one of great importance to college students and many new adults.

Society has established an American Dream which includes (but is not limited to) 2.3 children; the perfect, attractive spouse; a high paying job; early retirement. Generally, we are all trying to keep up with the Jones' in every way. So much so, that our lives are consumed by having the life we think we are supposed to have. Even little children are burdened with this American Dream when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up.

Life doesn't have to, and isn't meant to be like this! We are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. We have the luxury of time ahead of us. We have nearly unlimited choices. We do not have to be limited by narrowing worldviews.

When you stop and ask God what plans He has for you, you may be surprised to see you have been looking in the wrong direction and striving for a false goal. This isn't to say that all of us are supposed to give up our majors and become missionaries in order for God to love us, but we are supposed to prayerfully seek after God's plan for our lives.

At the end, Carp asked everyone to go back into the lobby on their way out and trade the cards they originally received for a pair of glasses. Symbolically, looking at life through different lenses.

(image by Elizabeth Sneed;  Jenny, Jennifer, Alexis, Rahel)

After the American Dream, we had Pineapple Whip (a delicious dessert) in the center of campus and the next day we jumped right into deepening our relationships with new friends. On Saturday morning, we met for brunch at Pitza 42, a local restaurant which runs on the same concept as Tom's (1 for 1). Every meal you buy also purchases a meal for a child in a developing or impoverished area who would otherwise go hungry. It is a great restaurant that Chi Alpha and our family supports on a weekly basis. Ashton and Austin, the couple who runs and developed the idea for P42 shared their vision and what God had done in their lives with all of us during brunch.
(image from Pitza 42 Facebook page)

That afternoon, lots of leaders and students went to hike Mt. Petit Jean. Go ahead and guess whether or not we hiked...we didn't! It was about 100 degrees and we didn't want Roman to overheat, but we did meet everyone at the top for dinner and worship. It is amazing to look over God's creation and sing to him. If you haven't experienced this beauty, you are missing out!

(Y'all...this is my amazing husband stretching it out. haha! Look at that beautiful view behind him!)
(Photo creds to Lauren Goodwin)

Pierce (Chi Alpha staff member) led worship and shared some of his personal struggles resulting from the death of his older brother earlier in the year. He showed a true example of transparency for many of our newcomers.
(worshiping on the rocks)
(Photo creds to Lauren Goodwin)

Please pray with us for Chi Alpha as new students come pouring into our ministry. May we receive all of them openly, may God service their needs through us, may they all find a home. Dgroups will launch in a few weeks and I can't wait to report what He is doing!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

BLOG LAUNCH

I am so pumped to launch my new blog design to you, and it just wouldn't be right if I didn't brag on the designer! After deciding that I wanted to take the next step with my blog in order to look more professional, because I feel like content is more well-received if it is aesthetically pleasing, I began to hunt around for a good designer. I, myself, do not posses any of the skills needed to design a blog. I write. That's it. I am a regular follower of 3 Ladies & Their Gent and I really liked Amber's layout, so I looked into her designer:
because making pretty things should be fun

What an awesome tagline! It just drew me in right away. The prices are fair. The services she provided were exactly what I needed, and most of all, she listened to exactly what I wanted and provided a great design. I mean look at this. Look. At. This. It's gorgeous. If any of you have blogging needs, contact Aubrey and you will not be let down! You don't have to redo your whole look either. If you just need a few services or tweaks, she does a la cart services as well. Check it out. 

I'll give you a run down of this week with the Alexanders:
I've already told you that Sunday was move in day for Freshmen, so we participated in that and met so many lovelies. I feel really good about some of the friendships that have started forming. Monday and Tuesday were spent relishing in our last days of freedom and going on campus to make friends. 

Wednesday, we decided to take Roman to his daycare for an hour to let him visit and play. It was our chance to observe him with the other babies and to feel more comfortable leaving him. We were able to explore his class, talk to his teachers, and see what a genuine day would look like. We just stopped in without notice, so we knew that was what it would always look like. We were very pleased with the staff, the student/teacher ratio, and the overall environment. 
Roman sat down in the floor and just stared at everything at first. This kid has been around less than a handful of children in his 8 months, so suddenly being around 15 was crazy for his little mind! After a minute, he began to crawl and play with toys. We stood back and let him do his thing. He is currently the oldest in his class and the most mobile, so he might get moved up to the class with more crawlers soon, but for now he will start in the class with the youngest children. A few other girls were crawling and one other was pulling up, but he was by far the quickest. We may have a problem with him touching the other kids too violently. I don't want to say he is hitting, because he doesn't do it to be purposefully cruel, he just wants to explore and doesn't understand that we don't touch people's eyeballs. haha
I did so well and was actually happy to see him playing, but later when I visited a few friends, I just completely lost it out of nowhere and bawled like a baby. We're still praying that all 3 of us have a good first day on Monday.

Thursday was the first day of UCA class. Uneventful for us college pros. (We are Juniors)

Friday, Chi Alpha hosted the American Dream, then we went straight into Good for the Weekend.  I am planning to devote a post to this, so more later.

Thank you for checking out my blog. It means so much to me to have several loyal followers!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Life

Sometime soon and very soon, this blog is getting its face lift. The change will be drastic, y'all, so hold onto your hats! Today I just got some lovely head shots done for my bio, and I can't wait to debut it all to you.



On another, entirely unrelated, note: This week is move-in week, welcome week, and all that jazz for UCA where my husband and I are juniors. This year I am on the leadership team (again) with a transdenominational Christian ministry on campus. (And yes, we did make up that term "transdenominational". Instead of being nondenominational, which is without denomination, we seek to encompass all denominations, not discriminating against anyone's Christian practices or preferences as long as they are biblical.)

As a part of the leadership team, I with a partner, will lead a dgroup (discipleship group) that will meet at least once a week. In order to form the group, this week we will start going out onto campus to 'call our disciples', so to speak. We will be on campus all day Sunday for freshman move in, where we won't just talk to students, but we will actually get their stuff out of the car for them and their parents, show them to their room, and help them with whatever they need. Throughout the week we will be on campus to eat in the cafeteria with them, show them the buildings on campus, and remind them that they aren't the only ones missing home or feeling like they don't fit in yet. Hopefully we will hang out with some of them, share parts of our lives, bond, and become friends.

Friendship. That is our goal during welcome week. It isn't to meet a quota for our first Chi Alpha worship or for our first Chi Alpha sponsored event (The American Dream, happening Friday night in Ida Waldron). Our goal is to actually meet students where they are, both literally and spiritually, and live life with them. We want to open our lives up to them and let them see how Christian leaders live everyday lives. Hopefully the people we meet this week will one day be joining us in leadership. (Too many L's in that paragraph! ha)

This week is SO crucial for thousands of students, as they put themselves out there as adults for the first time and as they begin to meet new people. We want the faces they see this week to be godly, genuine, kind-hearted people who want to lead them in the right direction. I know that's what their parents want too! I remember so clearly saying goodbye to my parents that first week and hearing my mother ask me to make good choices. Did I? Yes and no. At first I did not, but when I got plugged in with Chi Alpha, I felt a tug to align my life with God's desires. Please pray for the students who are making these very same decisions.

Each dgroup has a name and a ours is Get Rich!! This is inspired by Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." So basically, we want to emulate Christ in everything we do. We will use scripture and pray for guidance to make sure we are spreading Christ's message, not our own.

Please be praying for us as we lead, for the people we meet, for Chi Alpha staff and interns, and for the other Christian ministries on campus --that we would draw students' attention instead of negative groups or choices. Pray for Dillon and I as well as we take on 16 hours this semester, Dillon works 20 hours per week, and we send our son Roman to daycare.

stay beautiful,
Bethany

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Blog Revamp Needed!!

For my blog, I am wanting to make it look professional (aka: not a stock BlogSpot background) (also aka: more fancy than I know how to make it).

I know this type of stuff is usually done at the beginning of a blog's creation, but you are talking to the girl who hung empty picture frames on her living room wall (trying to get the layout right) and left them like that for 3 months.

I would like to design a banner with my blog name on it and make the place my own.

I have downloaded a handwriting font HERE to make my signature, but I don't know how to make said signature.

I NEED HELP!!

I have so many great ideas churning around in my head, but I don't end up sharing them because I get uninspired by how blah my stuff looks compared to some other great blogs I follow like:

Maskcara

Life Moments with the Massey's

Maybe I should have majored in Blogging instead of Teaching (just kidding...on so many levels!)

To sum it all up: I need help making my blog look more visually pleasing so I can work on drawing in more readers. My current readers are so important to me and I am incredibly happy to see your comments and shares on Facebook, but it's time for me to get more responsible with posting quality articles more often and it's time for me to branch out and share my message with others. Please comment your suggestions or copy a link to a helpful tutorial or article.

(also looking for a catch phrase)
XOXO Bethany

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Me? and Why Not Me?

Today has been a day full of sadness and it has me asking God the hard questions tonight. 

We woke up to learn that a member of Dillon's extended family had died tragically and a mother we knew lost her full term baby. Later that evening we went to visit a friend whose baby is in the NICU and one of their NICU neighbors lost their son.

We gathered up Roman from the NICU waiting room and walked back to the car. I cried all the way down the hallway and then sat in the backseat crying over Roman's car seat. Later at home, sadness struck again and I really broke down. I looked down at my perfect boy and thought about everything that he is:
  • 7 lbs, 11.5 oz, 19.25 inches long at birth, delivered at about 40 weeks with no complications
  • 20 lbs, 27 inches long at nearly 7 months
  • His only sickness has been an ear infection
  • His gross motor skills are advanced
  • He breastfeeds like a champ
  • He is utterly joyful
Why God? Why am I so blessed with this boy and these circumstances while others suffer? I know you don't love me more than you love anyone else, so why do I get this life? Even before this hard day, I didn't feel like I deserved the life I live. I don't know how many times I looked upon Roman and said out loud, I don't deserve you. Now in the midst of others' sorrow, I am consumed by guilt. I'm angry at God for not stopping more suffering in this world.

I love Him, and I trust Him, but I do not understand why life on this Earth has to be so unexplainably cruel sometimes. God understands that we have emotions. He knows that we will have doubts and questions. He doesn't want us to hide this from Him and act like we understand when we are actually raw and hurting and need our Daddy, our Comforter.  I don't know how many of you have a really good Earthly daddy, but I do, and I know that when I need someone to hold me and tell me he loves me, my daddy was always my number one choice (until I met my husband). I imagine my God like that too. Even if you are mad and hurting and need to vent and cry, he will listen and wait until you are done and then he will impart some bit of wisdom wrapped in a comforting peaceful hug.

In the midst of God comforting me, this came to mind,

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

This doesn't mean that all things are good, it just means that the end result will be good for those who serve God. In the end, those who love Him will be in Heaven where absolutely no evil or sadness can dwell. I'm trying to remember this as I mourn, that through the struggles, the end is still going to be good.

No, I don't deserve this good ending. None of us do, and that's the beauty of it all. In the end we will all feast at the table of our Lord and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

I'm still sad. I'm still mourning. However, I'm not mad anymore and I feel less guilty for my beautiful life. I trust that God will work all things for His good in the end, and that is enough.

Please join me in praying for the families of William Allen (Dillon's relative), baby Jacob William Baker, and baby Maddox as they have gone to be with God today.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Updates & Recipes!

So after I made my proclamation to all of you that Dillon and I were going to get healthy, I sat down and made a grocery list so we could put my words into actions.

(TIME OUT: my child has his entire hand in his mouth. All 5 fingers up to the last knuckle. Talent.)

Annnnnnyways...I will share with you a few things that I purchased to help jump start our healthy lifestyle.

-big tub of Plain Greek yogurt (great for smoothies as well as substitutes for cooking)
-big tub of Organic vanilla yogurt
-small cups of Chobani Greek yogurt with peach
-Organic Almond Milk (we aren't milk drinkers, and this stuff lasts 2-3X as long as cow milk)
-Multi-Grain Cheerios (great for breast feeders. I eat 1 bowl every morning)
-Bananas
-Green bell peppers
-Tomatoes
-Grapes
-Strawberries
-Organic honey
-Ground chicken (why did no one ever tell me this existed?)
-Granola from the big bins at Kroger Marketplace (LOVE our Kroger Marketplace)
-Peanut butter
-Honey wheat bread
-Motts Applesauce Natural (same price as the Cinnamon or any other flavored kind)
-Black beans
-Pop-Tarts Oatmeal Delights (I know Pop-Tarts aren't healthy, but Dillon eats breakfast on the go every morning, and he requests Pop-Tarts so I did the best I could and found some made with whole wheat and sprinkled with oatmeal on top.)

We have already had some great meals and tried new things. Recently I have discovered that I like green bell peppers. This was one of those things that I tried as a kid and apparently didn't like, but as my tastes matured, I liked it. Awesome! Remind me sometime to write a piece about Pitza 42, which is where I really started liking peppers.

One of the first meals I made was Chicken Taco Salad. I browned the chicken and added a packet of Taco Seasoning. We then cut up a bunch of peppers and tomatoes. I put crushed up tortilla chips, cheese, chicken, peppers and tomatoes, together in a bowl and mixed it up. I put a drop of plain Greek yogurt on top as a substitute for sour cream and...voila!

I also made a fruit dip that I got from Pinterest. It was said to be "better than Nutella" and "like crack," so obviously I had to try it. It goes a little something like this:
-about 2.5 oz plain Greek yogurt
-about 2.5 oz organic vanilla yogurt
-2 TBSP peanut butter
-1 TBSP honey
-a dash of cinnamon
We ate it with apples, grapes, and bananas!

Lastly, I will share with you a smoothie that I created myself.
Peach Banana Smoothie
-2 cups ice
-1.5 cups almond milk
-1, 6oz cup Chobani Greek yogurt with peach
-1 medium banana
-a dash of cinnamon and sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
-1 TBSP of rolled oats
-1/2 tsp honey
Blend or liquify this in your blender. You may have to blend it and then stir up the remaining pieces and blend it again if there are too many large pieces for your blender. I have an old blender that is probably as old as I am, which I inherited from my parents.

Tonight I am making Italian chicken, a recipe from my Meme.
Get a covered dish, like a glass casserole dish and place chicken breasts (however many you need) inside. Cover the breasts with Zesty Italian dressing (I like Kroger brand). When I say cover, I mean cover them well! Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour and then serve with green beans. It is really good to pour the juices over your beans too.

I hope this is encouraging! Love you guys, and thanks for reading. (:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Plans

Today as I was considering attending my friend’s college graduation in the upcoming weekend, my mind began to wander to the past and to my past desires. My friend goes to a private liberal arts college --the college I wanted to go to more than anything when I was a senior in high school. I applied to the school and was accepted, but was not awarded nearly enough money to cover the grand tuition it required. I crunched the numbers every way I could with the generous private and state-funded scholarships I had received combined with the college’s academic scholarship offer. It just wasn’t going to work.

I wanted to go to this school more than anything because I thought I was liberal. I thought I was artistic. I thought I was eclectic and different and bold. I thought I wanted to party on the weekends and study hard on the weekdays in order to keep this scholarship.

Maybe I was different. Maybe I was bold in certain circles. I was actually artistic. I had no idea what liberal really meant.

I thought I was going to be an author, and I was going to major in creative writing to make this happen. I wanted to move far away from Arkansas. I understood I might not ever be JK Rowling or anything, but I wanted to make a living from my art. I was, in reality, an intelligent, rebellious, disrespectful, hopeful, determined, desperate, curious, girl who still lacked some of the most substantial part of my being.

After I suffered the crushing blow that I would not, in fact, attend my dream college, I conceded to go to the University of Central Arkansas. This is a public university in the same town as my formerly intended college which offered me a full ride scholarship with stipend left over every semester. I imagined I would still go to the same parties and make the same friends and work towards the same major as before, just on a different campus. I could still hang out at Hendrix. I could still have that life.

So I went to UCA in the Fall of 2011 and my life was rocked. It was shattered. It was absolutely torn to shreds because I met my Father. I met God in the midst of my rebellion and my anxiety and my grief. I met the Spirit for the first time in 18 years and my life just fell to pieces and I let God pick it all up and put it back together His way, with His additions. I let Him throw away a lot of the old pieces and make new ones.

He threw away my anxiety and replaced it with His love. I was able to wean myself off of powerful anxiety pills which I had been prescribed and addicted to for a long time. God took all of my symptoms away and He filled me with the ability to be consoled by His love.

He threw away my addiction to bad relationships. Gone were the days when I fell for guys who needed me to fix them. I wasn’t falling for guys from broken homes, with Mommy issues, who had no love-web, who looked to substance for fulfillment. I wasn’t falling for someone who would leech off of my strengths and gifts. God gave me a real man. Not a boy. He gave me someone who led me to the cross, who encouraged me, who built me up. He led me to Dillon.

God rebuked my hatred for other girls by giving me friends who exemplified His example of a Godly woman. He taught me how to trust. He taught me what transparency was by giving me examples of how to show it. He taught me how to cry for and care for and love a friend. He gave me Regina and Kayla and countless others.

What God did not give me was a free ride to Hendrix. He did not give me my plan. He made His own plan. I sit here and look back on my life at something I really wanted at the time and just thank God for not giving it to me because I see now what He had planned.

This revelation, if you will, has taught me one of the most vital lessons in true discipleship.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. --Proverbs 3:5-6

Man, God, you rock. I could never have made a plan as good as the one You prepared me for today. And I never, ever will. I’m a married mother of the most beautiful boy. I’m on my way to achieving a degree in teaching, of all things. I’m prayerfully considering homeschooling. Most importantly, I’m living the real dream. I’m living every day with my God.

As many of you graduate, or simply move ahead in your lives, remember that God’s plan is what you should ultimately follow. Pray to Him about your life and your intentions. Let him take your thoughts captive. Listen to Him for His answer. He will rock your world and give you what you need.

Monday, May 6, 2013

We Need a Change!

So after Roman was born, I wanted to shed the weight I was still carrying as quickly as possible, so I told myself I was going to jump right in and eat a lot of healthy snacks. Fill myself up on carrots and ranch or trail mix so that I wouldn't overeat at meals. I drank tons of water and some juice and only had a minimum of soda because I had heard caffiene can stunt your breastmilk production.

As Roman got older and the weight really fell off, I began to get back into the old rythm. I'm still going to college and sitting at home with him at nights while Dillon is working, so in the day I tend to rush around getting food and at night I have too much time to snack. My snacks went from veggies to chips fast and pretty soon the weight loss stopped and I became stagnant.

Dillon had also gained a few of the lb's along with me during pregnancy, so he has expressed desire to get fit again as well.

When you are pregnant, you might have a job or activities that take up your time, but at the end of the day if you have thirty extra minutes to go to the gym (for me, the gym is 2 minutes up the road at my apartment's office, where Dillon works). I guess it never occured to me that after he was born, I would have zero extra minutes at the end of the day. Even when I find  myself sitting on the couch flipping through Netflix, I have him with me and Dillon is working. You can't exactly haul a baby up to the gym and sit his carseat next to the elliptical, especially when your baby likes to scream his little monkey head off just for the entertainment of hearing his own voice. It makes people nervous, or just annoys them, to have a baby in a place where there are usually only adults. Plus, I'm not sure what the apartment's policy is on having kids in the gym.

I have walked a lot on the vast sidewalks of my complex, and even tried running some. I ran up the golf cart trails on the course, but I found that the trails aren't quite big enough for those speedy carts and my stroller. Plus, some golfers will actually ask you to leave the trail because they are afraid you will be hit by their golf balls and be hurt or file a complaint. Apparently running with a big stroller on a golf course also makes people nervous. Hmm. That still leaves the sidewalks, so I'll keep trying.

My point in all of this is, it's very hard to get back into the swing of things and get your pre-baby body back. I have lost about 25 pounds since I gave birth, putting me pretty close to my pre-baby weight, but numbers aren't everything. This is especially true when I gained every bit of the 32 pregnancy pounds in my hips, belly, or breast.

This is me on Christmas, just 1 week after delivery, weighing 134 lbs. I lost 16 pounds during delivery and the week after. (Reminder: my baby weighed 7 lbs 11.5 oz. So the waters and placenta must have been pretty heavy!)

At this point, 4 months 3 weeks post-baby, I approximate my weight to be 125 lbs (I don't own a scale), but my belly is not in the shape I would like it to be. I bagged up all of my bikinis and bought a nice tankini with full coverage bottoms. I don't expect the stretch marks to fall off anytime soon, although the weight just might. I am back in my size 2 jeans, size medium fitted shirts, and size small t-shirts. I actually like my hourglass shape, but not the front pouch.

I know I will have to do a lot of work-outs to get my belly toned up, but I have decided that my first step will be eating right. This will also help Dillon get back on track as well. It was his idea that after all the soda in our house is gone, we will stop buying it. I'm not sure if this means we don't have sodas out anywhere either, or if we are really quitting them, but that is one major leap for us! I told him I may have to start drinking coffee regularly if I am going to keep up with school work and not completely die of caffiene withdrawls (through a straw of course, to save my pearly whites).

This post is a declaration of our desire to change our lifestyle. We want to step away from our usual go-to's and jump into a routine of healthier, cleaner eating. This means more whole foods, more veggies, more whole grains, more organic, less carbs --- better choices!

I have turned to the interwebs for help.
Through Pinterest, I've found Tanner and Stephanie on their blog Kissy Lips and Carrot. They are two 20-year-old college girls who made a healthy lifestyle change by promising to text one another every time they ate in order to keep their focus on healthy living.
I've also found Taralynn McNitt on her blog undressed skeleton. She is a 20-something who changed her life dramatically by losing a lot of weight. She constantly posts pictures and write articles about the meals she is eating and even helps you find choices for healthy eating at restaurants.
And of course, one of my favorite bloggers Amber Massey (from Life Moments with the Masseys or 3 Ladies and Their Gent) on her dietician blog Chocolate Broccoli.

I've also found a few faith points to keep me going:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, SELF-CONTROL; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
verses found here

Final thoughts: This isn't simply about "weight loss", because as I said earlier, it isn't about the numbers. This is about being healthier and starting a routine. I still love chips. It will still take a lot of work to get me working out. However, I am willing to try to make a change. None of this post is meant to get you to say "You look great..." or throw me compliments. I know I have bounced back well, but I am looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that I can keep this body and make improvements to it. This will make it easier on me in the future when I have more children, my metabolism slows, or a number of other things that happen as we age.

Please encourage me to keep going. And don't post so many cake pictures on Pinterest or Facebook, ok? haha

Saturday, May 4, 2013

4 Month Catch-Up

Today, as I sit in my apartment with the heat on (on MAY 4th)(It's 45* here in Arkansas), I decided to write about my little man.  He is not only the biggest blessing in my life, but the biggest source of joy.
And let me tell you, he can do so many things!

As of today, Roman is 4 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days (actually 2 days, 22 hours, & 25 minutes) old. But who's counting?

He still has his long brown hair and dark blue eyes that everyone told me would change, but hasn't! At his 4 month doctor appointment, he weighed 17 lbs, 1 oz and was 26.5 inches tall. Compare this to the 7 lb 11.5 oz, 19.25 inch tall newborn he was, and he is one big boy!
At this same appointment, he got his 4 month shots (which is just a booster of the 2 month shots. Why do they need a booster just 2 months later? Beats me.). He is seriously the worst at getting shots, and it breaks this mama's heart. Within a second of the needle hitting his fat little leg, his face gets red, his mouth pops open as wide as it can go and a forceful wail errupts from his tiny (yet very very strong) lungs. It's Daddy's job to hold the screaming boy during shots, and Mommy's job to calm him down after they're done.


Over the past month, he has been extremely fussy. He has had some bowel issues that I won't go into, but let's just say we've introduced prune juice to his diet. ....And he likes it. Also, he his gums have been super hard as his teeth start getting ready to come in. No teeth have broken the surface of his gums yet, but he chews hard on everything in sight. He will hold his paci in certain places on his gums and chew it instead of sucking. Lately, we have been giving him teething tablets -- tiny, quick dissolving, homeopathic tablets -- which make him feel a little more normal. I took one to see what it was like, and although nothing on me was hurting, I felt like it was a boost of happy feelings.

He has also developed a few new skills over the past month. He can now easily and quickly roll over from back to tummy and tummy to back. He can also lay on his side and balance. These new skills have given him a newfound love for tummy time. Those of you who are worried about your child hating tummy time, just wait! Our love used to detest tummy time and would cry to be turned over or picked up. Now, you can't keep him on his back for more than a few seconds. He will roll over and begin inch-worming his way off the blanket and around the living room.
That's right, our boy is mobile!
He will stick out one leg and use it to steer while he presses his face and chest into the ground and pushes off. This, combined with his arms flailing around like he is drowning in a pool, propels him wherever he needs to go.

Gone are the days when I can lay him on a blanket and expect him to be in the same place when I turn back around. He will be off the blanket, under his swing, with the manufacturer's tag in his mouth. When he sees he's been caught, he will flash me the most mischevious little toothless grin. I love it!

He has also started reaching out for things. "Things" may include: every piece of food you eat in his presence, cups, full plates, pieces of paper, his paci, PHONES, or your face.


Roman and I with one of my high school friends, Elizabeth, and her 7 month old boy Landon
The babies were checking each other out.
This was their first time to meet.
 

I am so enjoying being the mom of this babe. He is developing so quickly and making me so proud with every passing day.

--Also, we found a fantastic, loving, babysitter for Roman this summer while Dillon and I are in summer classes, trying to make up for the ones we had to drop last semester due to having a newborn and all. Praise God for a loving, Christian, woman to babysit our lovey. And I know someday soon (soon is a relative word) she will want to have her own family, so this is great pratice. Happy day!(:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back to the Hospital

This is late, but I thought I would share the story of how I ended up back in thehospital after delivering our boy.

Three weeks after delivering my baby boy, I started getting sick. I woke up at 4 AM shaking, shivering, and running a low-grade fever (99*). After waking my mother up at that hour to ask if it was ok for me to feed little man with a fever (it is), I took some Tylenol and snuggled beneath several blankets. This was a Saturday, and Dillon was pulling an 8 hour shift at the office, so I was home alone with a fever, a sink full of dishes, 4 baskets full of laundry, and a hungry baby. Thankfully my wonderful aunt drove in to help with all of the above.

My fever progressed througout the day, breaking when I would take Tylenol and then spiking up further than before when the medicine wore off. By about 9 PM, my aunt left, and I called my other aunt, who is a nurse practitioner, to ask what in the world she thought this could be. I had no cough, congestion, stomachache, digestive problems, vomiting, or any of the common ailments. My mom guessed a touch of mastitis -- I was a little sore, but a hot cloth did the trick on that. My aunt guessed maybe a bladder infection -- I've never had one and didn't know what to look for. I was recommended to go to bed and if I still had fever in the morning, try to find an Urgent Care that was open.

 I went to bed and woke up to feed Roman at midnight, bawling my eyes out from the pains the fever was giving me. I had a splitting headache and was so cold I couldn't get out of the covers. Roman wouldn't touch me because even though I felt cold, my body was very hot, so poor baby missed a meal. I checked my temperature and WOW -- 102.9* !! Dillon jumped up, got dressed, packed up Roman in the carseat, and rushed me to the hospital. In fact, he was in such a hurry, he drove with the windows fogged over and just a tiny hole to see out for the first few minutes.

We were admitted to the ER and they started monitoring me and running tests. My heartrate was up to 140 and my fever had started to come down on my drive in and was now 101.9. I was given an IV in my right inner elbow. Due to this placement, I couldn't feed Roman on my right side, so he had to make due with a hasty left-side feeding after the IV had brought my fever down to normal. The nurse tested my blood and said my white counts were very high. Since I had recently given birth, they wanted to do an ultrasound of my uterus. I was wheeled back into a small dark room where I received a painful transvaginal ultrasound. The tech found debris in my uterus and an OB from my practice was called in at about 2 AM. She began to examine me, which was very painful, and discovered that my uterus was severely infected. I would have to be admitted to the hospital for a few days and would possibly need surgery.

By this time, I was in tears and frantically trying to call my parents who live 3 hours away. Although we are adults, and parents, I felt like Dillon and I were 2 kids alone in the ER, trying to deal with problems above our heads. I really needed my parents! Finally, I was able to wake them up and they quickly got ready and began driving to Conway at 4 AM -- now that's love!
A team of nurse assistants helped Dillon and I get to the OB ward where I would be staying for a few days. They started me on antibiotics and said that after a few hours of this we would see if I was making any progress. To my amazement, one of the nurses who had cared for me during labor--Meghan--was there to take care of me on the night shift. She remembered everything about me from a few weeks before and we were able to pick up our conversation where we left off. She made the call to transfer my IV from my right arm to my left hand in order to make feeding easier. I was dehydrated and my veins were being impossible, so she had to dig around in several places before placing a good port.

I woke up a few hours later when my parents arrived with my mouth full of the worst taste-- my medication had a side effect that was as if I was chewing the antibiotic up and swallowing it. I couldn't believe I was back in the hospital so soon and I was really upset.
The OB, Dr. Johnson, came back in and did another ultrasound (this time an exterior one) and found that the debris was still present and no real progress had been made, so she scheduled me for a D&C (dilation and curettage) to remove the debris and infection. This is the same procedure that women go through after a miscarraige. Since I was breastfeeding, they would have to be very careful about my anesthesia, so I was supposed to get a sleeping gas and then local anesthesia. Moments before the surgery, I was bawling to my dad because I was afraid I would feel the needles for the local anesthesia in my cervix. I thought the sleeping medicine would be like laughing gas at the dentist and that I would be awake for it.

They took me into the OR, which was freezing, strapped me onto the table, and the anesthesiologist inserted a drug into my IV. I don't remember a single other thing until they were waking me up to take me to my room. The procedure was less than 30 minutes, and my parents weren't even there when I came back to my room to recover because they thought it would take longer.
After an hour of recovery, my nurse moved me to the bathroom to clean me up. You lose all decency in the hospital, especially in the OB center, so as she was cleaning a very naked me, she discovered that I had serious mastitis on my right side. We all decided that it was from skipping our midnight feeding and then having the IV in my elbow.

I had to stay in the hospital until I was 24 hours fever free, so I was in for another night. My mom sent Dillon home to get his first full night of rest since before Roman was born, and she stayed overnight to help me with Roman since I couldnt get out of bed very easily.

My wonderful Dr. Lawrence visited me in the morning and later that day I was discharged with the pill form of the antbiotic I had been taking through IV. In the next few days, I began to feel better than I had in months. I didnt realize until then that I had been recovering in a very unhealthy way, and my particular type of fatigue, bleeding, and pain were all slightly uncharacteristic of simply being a new mother because I was also harboring an infection.

All this to say, please monitor your postpartum healing carefully, but understand that my circumstances are rare!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roman is 3 Months!

Today my sweet boy is 3 months old! Time has truly flown and I have loved every single moment of being his Mommy. Never did I imagine I would be able to love someone with such unconditional, overflowing, joyful, tearful, passionate love. The love between a Mama and her boy is so different from any love you can imagine...even the best of loves such as Daddy/Daughter (I do love my Daddy sooo so much), or even Husband/Wife love (and we know Dillon is the love of my life, forever and ever amen!). Our happy little love has grown up so much in 3 months and I am incredibly proud of him. Every time he does something new, my heart swells up and I think I'll burst with pride and joy. Just this week, I was making a list (and posted it to Facebook) of all the milestones he has met thus far. I'll recap:

Weight: 14 lbs 12 oz
Height: Just over 2 feet tall! wow!
Physical: rolls to his side, kicks his legs, bats at toys above him, can grab his paci and pull it out of his silly little mouth, can grab lightweight things such as rags or the string that clips his paci to his clothes, can hold up his head and chest, smiles socially (that grin is contagious!), can go from a laying back position to an upright sitting position
Cognitive: talks nonstop (coos, says syllables like "ma, ba, ga", yells, and I swear if you say "I love you" he will mimick some gibberish that sounds like he's saying it back), makes eye contact and holds his gaze steady, is very alert, can soothe himself half the time by sucking his fingers, knows who his Mommy and Daddy are, misses us when we're gone, freaks out when he sees us after waking up or if someone else has been holding him

Other: He is eating every 2-4 hours (he goes longer during the day and during sleep time, but in the evening he is a cluster feeder and tends to eat closer together) and is 95% breast fed. He takes about 4-5 oz of formula if he is home with Dillon while I'm in class and just CANNOT wait until I get home to eat. Recently he has been having explosive diarrhea (I know you want to hear that) so we took him to the doctor and they suggested I try taking all milk out of my diet. This has been pretty hard because milk is in so many things! However, I am willing to do any and everything as well as make all sacrifices for the health of my love. So far we have not seen great results, but it has only been about 4 days since we began the new diet. If we don't see results in 2 weeks, we will reconsider what may be causing it. Also he has been diagnosed with reflux and is on medicine twice daily.
He sleeps with us in bed still, but I have been putting him in his crib in his own room for naps every day. This week is our Spring Break (woo!) so I have plenty of time to start training him to sleep in his crib at night. Right now he is waking up once in the middle of the night for feedings, so it is manageable for me to get up and take care of this. I am praying he will start sleeping all night soon! He has cradle cap and a lot of his hair is starting to fall out. I think his big boy hair is coming in and I am seeing some golden hues, but it is still brown through and through. Nothing we have tried helps the cradle cap. Trying baby oil next, then coconut oil.

A First: The day before he turned 3 months, we went to an archery tournament in Hot Springs to watch my little brother shoot his bow and arrows! While we were there, Daideo (my dad) let Roman suck on a banana. Roman was lunging forward as if he really wanted it, so my dad just let him get ahold of it. He did not actually bite off any of it, nor did he swallow any banana. He just sucked on it and got some of the flavor. He absolutely loved it and it was so cute to watch.
Another First: Roman met a dog this week. It was a 9 week old Chihuahua named Vada. He was not sure what to make of her, especially when she licked his nose!

3 Month Old Likes: blowing spit bubbles, laying on his side in bed next to Mommy, play mat with 'his friends' as we call them (the owls and other animals that dangle from the top of the playmat), baths and splish spashing, physical therapy time with Daddy, talking to Mommy and Daddy, brown blanket with the polka dots (so soft)
3 Month Old Dislikes: the taste of his reflux medicine, waiting to eat when he's so hungry, tummy time, having the cradle cap picked out of his hair, when people try to hold him like a newborn instead of letting him be upright

Nicknames we have called him: Little Love, Buddy, Baby Heart, Baby Bear, Sweet Silly, Silly Willy, Silly Monkey, Baby Love, Sweetheart

I just can't get enough of this little boy. He is my everything!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chi Alpha VMA's 2013

I stopped writing for a while because I didn't think I could keep up with the calliber of some of my previous posts. I would compose stories with the intentions of evoking some grand response from my readers, but then I realized that the blogs I follow are written about everyday life. I want to share in everyday life with people, and most likely you want to do the same. Duh...what was I thinking?

My topic today, however, is quite grand. On Saturday evening, Roman and I attended the 2013 Chi Alpha VMA's (video music awards). This is is a red carpet affair which showcases videos created by teams of Chi Alpha (XA from here on) staff, interns, leadership, and dgroupies. In the past it was sort of a free-for-all where each dgroup was given the choice of creating a video or not. This year we have about 50(ish) dgroups, so there was no way that would work. Instead, dgroups were paired together with a member of the XA Film Team in attempts to build community between all involved. This worked on some levels and fell apart on others, but that's not incredibly important.
At the VMA's, each video was played and everyone was given a chance to vote for 5 different awards.
Best Picture
Best Cinematography
Best Choreography
Best Message
Best Ensemble

In the past, many of the videos have been downright silly, and while I love a silly video, I also love the videos that are emotional, evoke responses, and tell a story. We had several videos this year that gave me chills and challenged me. What's even cooler is that after sharing them with my mom, she said she wanted to share them with the youth pastor at her church. Coming from a town that I think is SO incredibly broken and desperately needs the Lord, I couldn't be more excited.
I just wanted to use this post to share those videos with any of you who might read this  in hopes that you would be challenged as well. Not all of them are super serious. My group's video (which won best choreography) is a Christian parody of Gangnam Style.

Here is where you can find the Chi Alpha YouTube channel with all of the videos, past and present.

The winner for Best Message was Open Letter.
The winner for Best Cinematography was Rise.
The winner for Best Choreography was DGroup Style. My video: starring me, my husband, and son!
The winner for Best Ensemble was Disney Compilation
The winner for Best Picture was Filthy Man.

Please feel free to share these videos with your friends, teens or college students, youth groups, churches, or anyone! But remember to give Chi Alpha and the amazing directors credit. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

December 17, 2012 - The Birth of Our Boy

       I have decided to document Roman’s birth story before nature starts working to erase all of those memories. I’ve heard from so many people that second children would never be born if mothers didn’t forget the pain they experience with first children...so here’s to hoping ensuring I don’t forget anytime soon.
      On Sunday, December 16, our families arrived to spend the night in a few of the executive apartments in our complex (one of the perks of having a husband who works as a leasing consultant). Their idea was that they would all go back to the execs and leave us at home so we could go to bed early. HA. Ha ha. We went to bed, alright, and that’s when the fear sank in. I was giving birth tomorrow. Our lives would be irreversibly changing tomorrow. (for some reason, I didn’t feel like things had changed so irreversibly during my entire pregnancy...?) I laid there next to Dillon and cried for a good half hour, questioning whether I had made the right decision by scheduling the induction, questioning whether or not I was strong enough for this, and worrying whether or not he was going to be healthy. All of those whirlwind birth stories people tell about 3 day labors, emergency c-sections, and the heartbreaking realization that their baby has a special need were running through my head at 10, 11, and 12 AM until by some miracle, I fell asleep. I woke up around 2:15 to find that Dillon was still awake. Our alarm went off at 3. Dillon showered, I put on makeup and fixed my hair, we loaded the truck, and picked up my mom from her executive suite.
      We arrived at the hospital a few minutes before 4, took the elevator to the 2nd floor and were greeted by a nurse asking, “Are we having a baby today?”
      I took a deep breath and said, “Yes, we are.”
We were ushered into an all-in-one labor, delivery, and postpartum room where I had the pleasure of putting on one of the butt-baring gowns, climbing into bed, and getting an IV. In the nurse’s first attempt on my left forearm, she hit a valve and ended up pulling out a bloody needle, which only caused me pain. The second attempt on my right hand took, but left Dillon dizzy with sympathy pains. The IV began my Pitocin and fluid drip and the nurse checked my dilation progress - 3cm. I was having the typical painless contractions as I awaited Dr. Lawrence. Sometime around 8, she arrived to break my water. All along, I had been afraid I would miss my water breaking and cause Roman to be distressed. When the time came for it to actually break, it was far from easy to miss. The flood gates opened and Dr. Lawrence actually jumped up from the bed to avoid getting soaked.
After that, these painless contractions were history, and I began to experience real pain. They let me know that there were two c-sections scheduled for that morning and that the anesthesiologists would only be available to give an epidural around the surgery schedule. By the time the first c-section was finished, I was begging for them to come see me.
I had always been afraid of the epidural because of the size of the needle. Ask my parents or Dillon, I am terrified of needles, and have been conquering my fear during pregnancy due to the large amount of blood-drawing and shot-giving I have endured. However, when I found myself hunched over in pain, gripping Dillon’s hand, leaking tears out of the corners of my closed eyes with every contraction...I welcomed the big ole needle. To save any of you who share my fear of needles from worrying, I’ll tell you I didn’t even feel the epidural. The only shot I felt was the numbing agent they used to dull the area. My side effects included a drop in blood pressure which required me to wear an oxygen mask to help baby boy get what he needed, and intense shakes, but I was blissfully unaware of the crazy contractions that were coming every few minutes. By around 10:30, I was dilated to a 7, and by 11:30 I was a 10. Most women who come in for a morning induction make it to a 5 by noon. Apparently I’m advanced.
The most wonderful OB nurse in the world, Heather, and I started the pushing process and after about 20 minutes, she decided he wasn’t low enough in the birth canal, and that I needed to “labor down.” This involves letting gravity pull him down, but since my legs were dead from the epidural, she put my bed at a serious incline, and went to take her lunch. As you can tell from the picture, the whole, "did my makeup, fixed my hair" thing was out the window...
When she came back, we started pushing again, and let me tell you, it was bad. She decided that I wasn’t pushing hard enough because I couldn’t feel what was going on, so she made the call to turn off my epidural. It would slowly fade away, allowing me to regain feeling. Yes, that is as bad as it sounds. I remember praying in my head with every contraction, please God make him come out now. Soon that prayer turned into, God why can’t you make this easier on me? What do I have to do for you to speed this up? Why don’t you love me enough to make the pain stop? (Yeah, I went there, and I’m not proud of it.)
Dillon was pushing on my left leg while my mom pushed on my right and a nurse stood at the foot of the bed with a towel, playing tug of war with me. After 2 hours of painful pushing, lots of low moaning but no screaming, and an episiotomy, I felt the most wonderful relief of my life. Roman Keith was born! It truly was the euphoric experience everyone talks about as they pulled him into view, screaming his little head off. He was slightly gray-blue and slimy but he had a few inches of dark hair on his head and he was definitely a boy, just like they told us he would be. The nurse laid him on my chest and I rubbed the color into him and started talking to him, just saying whatever I could think of, “Hey baby, I’m your Mommy. I love you so much. Oh baby, you’re so pretty...” My mom was bawling, Dillon had “dust in his eyes”, and after crying through the whole labor, I was just overjoyed to have him on the outside.
Dillon cut the cord, and believe it or not, you have to actually exert force when cutting it, and some blood may splatter on your hands. He was then whisked just a few feet away to the warmer to get wiped down, weighed, measured, and checked for initial health. I delivered the afterbirth and Dr. Lawrence stitched me up. At this point, I no longer had a big belly, so I could see down there and the stitches really hurt. Apparently I told her that I could feel everything and that my epidural was totally gone, to which she replied that there was no way I could feel everything, and it could be much worse.
Roman was so healthy, breathed well, and despite his long time spent in the birth canal, was barely cone-head. The nurse called out his weight -- 7 pounds, 11.5 ounces! We later found out that he was 19.25 inches long. Healthy, happy, average sized baby boy with all ten fingers and toes, a head full of hair, and dark blue eyes. He was (and is) perfect! 
 
They brought my baby, all wrapped up like a burrito, back to me and we nursed for the first time, just minutes after he was born. It wasn’t easy, but we got him to latch the first time and he ate for about five minutes, which is good. Dillon and I both held our baby boy and told each other how beautiful he was and touched him all over and gave him an enormous amount of kisses.
Roman was taken to the nursery for his bath, shots, and foot-printing, and I began the long, grueling postpartum process. Just getting out of bed was work, and I was freakin’ sore. Without my saint-of-a-nurse Heather, I never would have made it and I really wish I could repay her for the wonderful care she gave me. I would seriously recommend to anyone having a baby, to buy a really sweet card in advance and once you meet that nurse that really clicks with you, write her a heartfelt thank you note and give it to her before you leave. I don’t know if this made Heather feel good, but it made me feel good to thank her in the only way I knew how--through writing.
       As soon as Dillon’s family had said their first hello’s to Roman, the nurses came in and began packing up my stuff to move me to another room. There were so many women coming in to have babies, they didnt have enough room to keep me and many other new moms in the labor suites. Therefore, those of us who already gave birth were being moved to another wing for postpartum. We got settled in and prepared for our families to go back to the executive suites for the night. This is when everything started to get real--we had a tiny newborn son to care for on our own all night, and what a memorable night it was!