Category Archives: Motherhood

TODDLER DEVO

DEVOTIONS FOR TODDLERS – THANKSGIVING

Ezra and Elijah are at that tender age where they’re starting to ask questions about Jesus and God. They’re also at that age where it would be completely believable for them to ask a question about Jesus, hear the answer, and immediately start discussing mighty machines or dinosaurs or trains. Because their attention spans are….squirly, it can be a challenge to find devotions for toddlers. They need short and simple.

In our ladies Bible study at church last week I was convicted to be more intentional to teach my sons who God is. Of course they’re two and three, and not quite ready for deep theological discussions (although they both enjoy Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers [affiliate link], which actually has some great theology). But teaching them who God is and what He has done for us is weighty on my heart.

I put together a little devotions for toddlers calendar because I needed it. In November we’re focusing on Thanksgiving. The topics are very basic, and the reading is just one Scripture verse.

Week One: Who do we give thanks to?

Week Two: Who gives thanks to God?

Week Three: Why do we give thanks to God?

Week Four: How do we give thanks to God?

There’s also a short Bible verse to memorize over the whole month. I’m so looking froward to doing this with my boys and I wanted to share. You can download November’s devotions for toddlers by clicking here.

xoxo,

Amanda

Announcing Baby 2 5 wm

Our Easter Pregnancy Announcement

Two years ago next month, just a couple of weeks after our miscarriage, our fertility specialist told us that Mr. E.​ and I had a 5% chance of pregnancy *with* fertility treatment. After four years of trying, hoping, and praying for a baby; more than a year of testing, and ten months of treatments and procedures, we were devastated. We felt defeated and deflated. What little hope we had left was delicate and fragile.

But our God is not a god of chances. He is not a god of statistics.

We serve a God who’s plans far exceed even the best of what modern medicine has to offer.We serve a God who isn’t bound by closed doors, barren wombs, or closed up tombs. We serve a God who isn’t limited by our incomplete knowledge, who’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to Him, and who’s time table is impeccably perfect.

This weekend we celebrated His life that conquered death. Wee celebrated our lives – made new and holy because of His perfect sacrifice. And we also celebrate a brand new life I carry in my once barren womb – another miracle baby that God has graciously given when we least expected it!

Our Easter Pregnancy Announcement

Announcing Baby 2 1 WM

We announced our pregnancy this weekend with these sweet photos that my mom took last week. We returned to the church garden where I took my bridal portraits ten years ago, and my maternity photos one year ago. How incredibly special it is to get to venture back with my growing little family.

Announcing Baby 2 3 WM

My husband had the idea to ask Ezra if he wanted a brother or sister by choosing between a pink and blue peep. Sweet little love went straight for the pink peep! Is there a little lady in our future? We hope to find out some time in late June!

Announcing Baby 2 4 wm

I am eight weeks pregnant and due in mid-November. My guess date is actually Mr. E.’s birthday! Wouldn’t that be quite a birthday present for him?  Ezra and the new baby will be almost nineteen months apart.

Announcing Baby 2 5 wm

We are so excited to welcome a new “peep” into our family in November. This weekend my mom remembered with me the years that I wondered if I’d ever be able to have children. And now, against all odds, and in God’s impeccably perfect timing, another little one is joining our family. Praise Him!

pregnancy after infertility

Pregnancy after Infertility

“Pregnancy agrees with you, you’re absolutely glowing!” a sweet lady at my church smiled up at me and reached to put her arms around my ever growing middle in an enthusiastic, albeit awkward embrace.

Little ol’ church ladies know just what to say to make you feel amazing, don’t they?

I smiled back at her, and because we’ve known each other a good long time, I responded, “I think that glow is actually sweat beads from trying not to throw up in the car on the way here.” She gave me that knowing look and just patted my back. “Well you look beautiful, sweetie,” she said, with a twinkle, and all the honesty of a civil-war era president.

I needed to hear those sweet words, because the truth was I didn’t feel beautiful. My body was undergoing physical changes at an impressive rate. Changes which, by the way, were not limited to curvier curves and pat-inducing baby bumps. I had acne that  put sixteen year old Amanda’s acne to shame, and I hadn’t seen that many skin tags on one person since my Grandma passed away when I was eighteen.

My pregnancy was hard. And not just the “all things worth having are worth working for” kind of hard. It was more of a “maybe God didn’t let me get pregnant for so long for a reason” kind of hard.

It’s painful to type that. For most of my pregnancy I felt so much guilt about not enjoying the very earliest days of my long-awaited motherhood. After our long and tumultuous journey to conceiving, I felt obligated and so desired to soak up every blissful moment of being with child. But those blissful moments were elusive, and often I had to consciously choose joy and excitement.

ARD Pregnancy Pic 3

Can you even imagine that? Four years of trying to conceive, thousands of dollars spent on fertility treatments, the stress and extreme discomfort of needles and procedures and recurring tests, and then the heartbreak of shattered dreams when we miscarried. Pregnancy after infertility is supposed to be this overwhelmingly exciting and joyous time! Even now it seems impossible to me that I had to strive so intentionally to choose joy and excitement over my pregnancy with Ezra.

Oh, there were definitely times of joyous excitement. When we found out with our family that the babe I carried was a little boy – my heart overflowed with anticipation and gladness. When we were showered with love and prayers and precious baby things to get us started as new parents, I was overcome with gratitude for the generosity bestowed to us. When my husband read story books to my belly and we could feel Ezra responding to his daddy’s voice my heart very nearly burst with excitement for the new little person joining our family. Watching my bear tummy move in waves as he moved and thump, thump, thump when he had the hiccups brought inexpressible joy.

Those moments are the ones that got me through my pregnancy. They seemed few and far between, but that kind of inexpressible joy has a way of overshadowing days and weeks of being miserable.

ARD Pregnancy Pic 4

And there were many days that I felt so miserable that it seemed very nearly impossible to even anticipate the exhilarating adventure of parenthood that awaited us.

Morning sickness for me was all-day sickness that lasted almost until my third trimester. For months my husband balanced work, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and caring for me as if he’d prepared his whole life for this pregnancy. He sat beside me, rubbed my back, and held my hair while I threw up, whispered softly in my ear how much he loved me, then cleaned up my disgusting mess as though it were his most sincere honor. God bless that man for serving me so well during my pregnancy. He truly epitomized what it means to be a servant leader.

A few weeks before I entered my third trimester I finally began to experience relief from the nausea and vomiting. I remember the relief I felt when I realized I’d gone almost two days without throwing up. I felt invigorated, as though I could conquer anything! It was refreshing to be able to function somewhat normally. I felt good. I was pregnant, I was happy, and I was ready to resume some semblance of normalcy. I began to embrace pregnancy and I learned I actually appreciated people asking about how I was feeling. I was feeling great!

ARD Pregnancy Pic 5

At twenty-six weeks my hips and pelvis began to prepare for birthing time, spreading quite a bit earlier than normal. This resulted in almost three months of severe pain in my pelvis, hips, and pubic area. My ligaments were so loose that I could literally feel bone scraping on bone when I rolled over in bed. My body ached and it was hard for me

Because of the pelvic and hip pain I never really had a chance to “nest.” I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy in bed, on the couch, or in epsom salt baths seeking relief for my aching joints. Not only was Ezra’s nursery not finished when he was born, but it was barely started! And all that cleaning I was itching to do? It just didn’t happen.

ARD Pregnancy Pic2

After years of anticipation and countless prayers and tears, it was heartbreaking for me not to enjoy my pregnancy. I felt so much guilt.

Guilt over my lack of enthusiasm and excitement.

Guilt over how very little I accomplished around the house, and on my blog.

Guilt over being irritated by well-meaning expressions like “soak up every moment of pregnancy” and “just relax and enjoy your pregnancy!” because I didn’t feel like I really could.

Guilt over wondering how in the world I could actually do this again if God allows me to be pregnant again. Especially since I’ll have a precious child to care for.

Guilt over wanting to be left alone all the time, because I knew so many people were so happy and wanted to rejoice with me.

Mama guilt starts early. And It’s an arrow from the enemy sent to prick your heart just enough to distract you from what’s important.

Mama Guilt is an arrow from the enemy A Royal Daughter

Yes, my pregnancy was hard, it was so hard that I really didn’t enjoy it. And that’s okay. I endured. I held tightly to His promise to be strong when I am weak. But it was worth every unlovely moment and painful part of pregnancy to be able to become Ezra’s mama.

And there is no guilt in that.

Sweet Ezra boy

so this is love

This post contains affiliate links.  Income earned through this blog allows me to pursue my dreams and enjoy being a stay-at-home wife and mama, and it doesn’t cost you a thing! You can read my full disclosure and see a listing of affiliate partners here.

So this is love.

When I look into those big blue eyes and I see myself and his daddy. I see wonder and curiosity and anticipation of what will happen in the very next moment.

Those Big Blue Eyes

So this is love.

When he reaches for me, lifting those arms to be as close to me as he can, and I realize I want to be as close to him as I can be too.

Sweet Ezra boy

So this is love.

Watching him stand on his own two feet. Shaky little legs gaining strength so that some day soon he will be able to walk. Baby steps leading to grown man strides. And I pray these feet bring the good news of the Gospel of Christ. Beautiful baby feet, I hope they grow up to be beautiful man of God feet.

Baby feet standing
Ezra standing

 So this is love.

When he needs me close, not just in sight. When he needs to feel my warmth and hear my heartbeat. And I cherish these moments, even when they’re inconvenient, because I know they’re fleeting, passing me by and inching towards the day when I will no longer be his first love. And I want to prepare his heart, and mine, for that day.

Wearing a baby in a ring sling

Mama love is different than every other kind of love, isn’t it? It’s both effortless and persevering at the same time. Mama love is fearless, reckless almost; but also tender and purposeful. Mama love worries, trusts, wonders, and hopes all at the same time. Mama love is life-giving and breathtaking. Mama love instinctively protects and holds close, all while learning to let go a little bit at a time. Mama love is everything I expected it to be and more. So much more.

P.S.

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Toms on Zulily

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Ordinary Kind of Special

Ezra’s first Valentine’s Day was an ordinary kind of special day. He spent the morning with his daddy so I could sleep in late. I think the only sleep that truly contends with sleeping late on a Saturday morning is Sunday afternoon napping kind of sleep.

Eleven years ago Mr. E. and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together. It was insanely romantic, with candles and music and flowers and a perfectly planned menu. It was pinterest-worthy long before pinterest was a thing. And there was snow – snow in Texas!

Baby's First Valentines

This year we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as mama and daddy.

We spent the afternoon outside, enjoying the gloriously warm and sunny weather. Mr. E. worked in our flower gardens while Ezra and I played on a quilt under a tree. Storybook kind of perfect, right?

There was a small bouquet of tulips that graced our table, along with waiting to be paid bills, my sewing machine, and a box of goodies I need to ship to a friend. Not at all pinterest-worthy. But this is real life. This is real love.

Throughout the day Pandora played an eclectic collection of music. Conway Twitty, Veggie Tales, Celtic Thunder, and Josh Groban made for a soundtrack that wasn’t so much romantic as it was vibrant with rich and timeless talent. The soundtrack of our lives, really.

Baby's First Valentines Day

My sweet husband prepared our dinner: ribeye steaks, sautéed zucchini and onions, and a side salad. Mouthwatering? Yes, so much so that I’ll freely admit that I cleaned my plate in a not very ladylike manner.

Our Valentine’s Day was quiet, ordinary, and unassuming. It wasn’t all that different from most days, really. Except that my husband cooked dinner – that was quite different.

But it was glorious and memorable and everything I hoped it would be.

Because it was the three of us this year.

And we’re all pretty crazy in love with each other.

Ezra in his crib

Our Life Lately

This post contains affiliate links.  Income earned through this blog allows me to pursue my dreams and enjoy being a stay-at-home wife and mama. You can read my full disclosure and see a listing of affiliate partners here.

They told me it would go by too fast, but the truth is, even though I thought I was prepared, I wasn’t. It goes by so much faster than you can even imagine!

Today my sweet babe is nine months old!

Big Blue Eyes

Our lives are full of joy and delight as we watch Ezra grow. Our blue eyed boy is army crawling like a boss, and while he can get himself up on his hands and knees, he doesn’t seem to have much motivation to start full-on crawling yet. But he sure does love to army crawl, and has been known to skip a nap or two in order to practice.

Ezra eating greens

Two weeks ago we started a 30 day Paleo meal plan. We’ve ditched all grains, beans/legumes, dairy, sugar, and processed foods for a month. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Ezra was eating anyway. So basically Mr. E. and I are eating what Ezra eats. So far we’re loving it, and since we were already gluten-free, the change has been pretty painless.

Ezra has the appetite of a boy. He really began eating solid foods right around Christmas. We decided to try out Baby Led Weaning, and though we began offering him food around 7 months, he really wasn’t interested until just before he turned 8 months old. Since then, though? Yep, he’s been eating his little heart out, and we haven’t even dropped any nursing sessions yet! Right now his favorite foods are sweet potatoes, avocados, green beans, asparagus, and pears. You can learn more about Baby Led Weaning here.

Ezra eats his greens

Ezras messy hands

Mr. E. started back to school this week. He’s teaching all online classes this semester, for the first time. Ezra and I both really enjoyed having him (mostly) home during the holiday break, and we’re trying to get used to him being back at work.

He’s also been doing quite a bit of preaching over the past couple of months. He’s provided pulpit supply at three area churches over the last several weeks, and while we love visiting other churches (and I love to hear my husband preach!) we’re really looking forward to being at our church this Sunday. There’s just something sweet about being present where you’ve put down your roots.

Ezra in his crib

I watched Mary Poppins for the first time this week. I’d seen bits and pieces of it as a kid, but had never seen the entire movie. After watching Saving Mr. Banks a couple of months ago I was really looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins. It is quite magical.

I finally made it back to my Zumba class this week, which was great, except for the fact that the class has learned a bunch of new songs since I was there last, and I had no idea what was happening most of the time.

Ezra sweet hands

Those sweet little baby hands learned to clap this week. He especially loves to clap at the table, when he’s done eating. I, of course, take it as a personal compliment to my fine culinary skills.

That’s what’s going on in our life lately, what’s happening in your life?

 

Happy Baby Ezra

Twenty-Fourteen

As quietly as a breath and as quickly as the tick-tock of an old wind-up alarm clock, 2014 was gone. And I’m kind of sad to say goodbye to the year that brought so much glorious change to my life, to my year of becoming.

It was a year of change. My life today seems so very different from what it was one year ago. As if who I was this time last year was but a happy dream.

ARD Maternity 10

It was a year of hellos. Welcoming Ezra into our family was without question the highlight of our year. How could anything top that?! There’s a bittersweetness in saying goodbye to the year that brought me motherhood, the year in which my precious newborn son was birthed into our family, the year in which I was reborn as a mother.

Ezra in the Hospital1

It was a year of goodbyes. Saying goodbye to my last remaining grandparent was difficult. Watching my mother say goodbye to her daughterhood was heart-wrenching. And now, that all happened last year – and saying that makes it seem too long ago.

Grandma and Ezra

It was a year of stretching and growing. A year of challenges. A year of fear and confidence. A year filled with prayer, sleepless nights and days, messy floors, wrinkled clothes, empty cabinets, and eating chicken nuggets four days in a row.

8.3.14 Ezra and mommy snuggle

Last year was the year in which my husband and I had to really study each other and work at our marriage. Not because things weren’t working, but because we realized that taking on the new roles of mama and daddy couldn’t come at the expense of forgetting our roles as husband and wife, friend and lover.

Mr E and Me

2014 was the year I learned to ask for help, the year I learned to say “no”, the year I discovered my most important goals in life, and the year I learned how to prioritize.

Happy Baby Ezra

Last year was the year my hopes and dreams came true, the year that thousands of prayers were answered, the year millions of tears were dried. And yes, I very much look forward to 2015 and all that is to come in the next 365 days! But I can’t say goodbye to 2014 too lightly. It’s a year I will treasure for all of my days, and today at least, I am a little sad to see it go.