15 observations from a first-time parent

Posted in family
  1. You eat meals however you can because you never know how long it will be until both your hands are free again (i.e. in the car on the way home when your baby has fallen asleep in the car seat).
  2. You are challenged with how well you function under the duress of sustained noise (i.e. persistent crying). Sometimes I remain calm, other times a few huff and puffs escape me.
  3. You see a new side of your spouse that is sweet and fun and inspiring.
  4. The day you finally feel confident about a particular aspect of taking care of your baby, it changes. They change, grow or just downright decide to be different than yesterday. Bless ’em.
  5. Even being an imperfect parent, you begin to see glimpses of God, the perfect Parent.
  6. You begin to pray fervently about things you probably never thought you would (i.e. Lord, PLEASE calm this baby’s mind and body because it’s been 2 hours of crying and I might start crying soon and nothing is impossible with you! or God, please show us your favor in Anna being content while I grocery shop).
  7. You begin to understand what your friends meant when they said parts of parenthood would come instinctively. I disbelieved this because of my lack of baby experience or knowledge, but you get a month in, look back and think ‘Hey, I’m doing it!’
  8. You acknowledge God’s fascinating design that you and your spouse offer unique things to meet your child’s needs. (Example: John handles confusing + uncertain moments with Anna better than I do so he does a marvelous job of encouraging me when I get overwhelmed.)
  9. It’s a healthy practice not to pitch your mental + emotional tent in the way a few hours go, because the next few could be vastly different! (Anna has a morning with no rest and lots of fussiness and I want to collapse inward in discouragement, thinking the day will be a long one. But then she finally enjoys a good nap and the day turns up!)
  10. You realize just how vital it is to read Scripture whenever and however you can because it refreshes and recharges you unlike anything else.
  11. You catch yourself daydreaming about his/her future days. What books and sports will they enjoy? Will they be outgoing or quiet? Will they be the jokester or the academic in the room? What of your traits will they have? what of your husband’s?
  12. You’ll find a balance between enjoying the current moments, the beautiful and the overwhelming, and looking forward to what 6 months, 2 years, 5 years holds and marveling she/he is yours to raise!
  13. You become bffs with the nurse at your pediatrician’s office. Karen and I are getting to know each other because I would rather get our doctor’s opinion than Google’s.
  14. You come face to face with your desire for control, because a newborn is not a robot and is entirely unpredictable. I catch myself thinking, Man, I wish she would go down for a nap so I could do X, Y and Z. And then I remember, This, Chelsea, is what you get to focus on right now. These early maternity leave days with Anna are a gift. Ignore the temptation of anxiety and pressure that says you should be doing more than meeting her right where she is.
  15. Like many before me have said, parenthood is sanctifying. One month in, I also believe it’s super fun, if you can trust God with every detail no matter how small and if you can choose to parent from a place of abundance in Christ instead of scarcity in yourself. I’m trying to practice both every minute of every day.

One Month With Anna

Posted in family

Height + Weight: She is currently weighing in at 8 pounds and 9 ounces, almost two pounds grown from her birth weight! Looking at pictures from our hospital stay, it’s amazing how much she has filled out and changed.

Clothes: Most of the newborn onesies still fit a little big on her, the shoulders looking more like box sleeves than a cozy shirt. But she’s getting there!

Sleeping: Week 3 held some long stretches during the day without any good sleep, and we learned the term ‘witching hour’ after a few nights of major fussiness. But, at the one month mark, we are settling in to more of a rhythm, with varying daytime nap lengths and some longer stretches at night.

Eating: Milk, milk and more milk.

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the prayer I’m breathing all day

Posted in faith

This week I’m 39 weeks pregnant. (WHAT. Thank you, God, for getting us this far.) Looking back in my journal the past few months, I noticed a prayer written in one way or another found on almost every page:

You’re here with me. I have all I need.

On every page I’m either rejoicing over the reality of His presence or asking for help to believe He’s near. Verses I’ve known for many years have gone from simply ink on a page to companions walking alongside me:

Your Father knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8).

He is your Shepherd; you lack nothing (Psalm 23).

He perfectly cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

He calls you personally by name and leads you with His voice (John 10:1-18).

Jesus calls you friend. Apart from Him you can do nothing of eternal value (John 15:1-17).

The LORD is in your midst with power to save. And He takes joy in you (Zephaniah 3:17).

Genuine joy is found in His presence (Psalm 16).

He promises to strengthen and help you (Isaiah 41:10).

Walking such unfamiliar territory, I haven’t always known what to ask for, so I settled into a rhythm of simply asking for more of Him. I guess I figured as long as I have the Lord I’m more than okay, no matter what happens.

But it wasn’t the ‘I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, Down in my heart, Where? Down in my heart!’ kind of having Him I wanted. (Sorry if the song is stuck in your head now.)

What I wanted (and want) and needed (and need) most to feel ready for motherhood was (and is) a genuine, abiding, experiential friendship with God.

A knowledge of His nature — how He thinks and what He does — that I could stand on when circumstances don’t play out like I hope or expect. A knowing what His voice sounds like for when I felt weary, sad or overwhelmed. A playlist of His words to run on a loop when I began to doubt and fear. An awareness of His presence when I was alone or in a busy crowd.

This might come as a shock to you – it shouldn’t have been one to me – but the request for more of God is a prayer He loves to answer. It’s beautiful. In a time of a gazillion choices to make and a variety of opinions steadily given, this verse has been a wash of peace every time I read it:

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24 NIV

Dictionary.com defines delight as ‘a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.’ It seems unlikely to enjoy God to a high degree when we think of Him as far away, right? I’m going to stumble A LOT, but God is at my elbow, holding me steady.

This pregnancy has been an unexpected training ground for delighting in God as an intimate and sufficient Savior and Friend. But I don’t think I could be more thankful or happy for the practice. I feel needy, hopeful, humbled and excited, breathing all day a desire to know His nearness more confidently.

Is there a prayer you find yourself breathing every day? I’d love to hear about it.