Grayslake 5k Race Recap

Grayslake5k

 

On Saturday I completed my first postpartum race and my first race with my jogging stroller (the BOB Ironman). I didn’t race at all last year when I was pregnant, so I was excited to get back into it. I didn’t have to worry about setting an alarm for this race because Jaylen woke up on race morning at 6:30 a.m. The race was held in our local downtown area so Gerald and I planned on walking over (about a mile from our house). I also thought it would be a good warm up.

Pre-race

Pre-race

Saturday morning was rainy, but thankfully the rain cleared up before we headed out the door around 7:15. The rain held off until after the race, which was a blessing. We could’ve had a soaking baby otherwise!

My cousin was also running the race (and it happened to be her birthday) so we saw her briefly before the start and then she went up to the front because she’s super fast. I had to start near the back anyway because I was running with the stroller. I know they do that so strollers don’t get in the way, but it’s a lot more challenging to pass people at the beginning of the race when you’re running with a stroller. I was getting stuck behind people a little bit even though I tried to run on the side of the road to pass.

Eventually the pack thinned out. My Garmin watch wouldn’t turn on even though I charged it up (I haven’t used it in a while since for some reason it stopped uploading my runs to my computer…apparently it’s messed up now). So I used my RunKeeper app and had my phone tucked into a pocket on the stroller. So I couldn’t see what my pace or distance was. I know I started slowing down though as the race went on. I haven’t run at that intensity for that long in a while.

Jaylen was great during the whole race. I’m impressed with how content he seemed staying in the stroller for so long. He sat quietly on our walk over to the starting line from home. Then I took him out for a few minutes before the race started. He was awake for the beginning part of the race but then fell asleep about halfway through. It was his nap time, after all. If you zoomed in to the photo at the top of this post you can see Jaylen knocked out in the stroller. Haha.

It was humid and I definitely had to keep pushing myself during the race, but I was trying to save some energy for the last stretch.

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Once I turned the final corner and saw the finish line, I really dug deep and pushed toward that finish line (literally). There was another woman I’d been following during the race who got behind me at one point but then was now catching up, so I was just trying to beat her to the finish, which I did. She told me good job afterwards, but she was probably just impressed that I did that while pushing the stroller. Jaylen woke up right after we crossed the finish line. Apparently 5ks are exhausting! :)

My official finish time was 28:40. That’s not close to any kind of personal record for me, but I’m pleased with it considering all my

runs lately (with and without the stroller) have been in the 10 or even 11 min/mile range. This run was my fastest stroller run to date. Not bad for running while pushing about 35 extra pounds in front of me (stroller + baby)!

My cousin Sammy won her age group (no surprise there!) and I actually placed 5th out of 18 in my age group, which isn’t too bad, actually. This little race gave me a confidence boost knowing that I can only improve from here. I plan to do more 5ks in the next few months (both with and without the stroller) through the fall and I’d still like to do the Prairie State Half Marathon in October again, but I need to ramp up my training to be ready for that.

This was the perfect way to celebrate Jaylen’s 7 month birthday. I’m glad we could finish our first race together–hopefully the first of many!

 

Mommy & baby post-race

Mommy & baby post-race

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Door County Vacation + CMJ Reunion

Ice cream at Wilson's

Ice cream at Wilson’s

Last week we spent a nice few days up in Door County with my family. This was Jaylen’s first vacation and I was looking forward to seeing him experience new things and mostly to be able to spend over a week giving him my full attention without having to worry about work. Jaylen was good on the drive up there (about 4 hours) except for the beginning where he started screaming just as we got on the highway for a while before falling asleep.

We stayed in Ephraim, which is a nice little town. It’s interesting too because it’s a dry town so they don’t sell alcohol there. You don’t find many places like that these days. We took a trolley tour and also learned that Ephraim only allows buildings to be white but more recently allowed buildings to be painted off-white and gray.

Some of our highlights were the trolley tour, Nicolet Beach in Peninsula State Park (which Jaylen loved. He couldn’t get enough of the sand), going out on the pontoon boat, the fish boil, and just enjoying some family time. Gerald, Jaylen and I even got out on our own one morning to visit Sister Bay for smoothies, coffee, and lunch.

Vacationing is definitely different with an infant. It’s not as relaxing. Jaylen’s sleep schedule was and still is all messed up. He somehow is usually still in a good mood despite not getting good naps and being overtired. The first morning in Door County Jaylen woke up at 6 am after going to bed around 10 pm. I can’t say I was too excited about that, but he seemed pretty happy. I loved being able to see Jaylen experience new things and he got a ton of attention wherever we went. I think we’ll definitely come back to Door County in the future.

We came home right before the 4th of July, which was good so we could beat the holiday crowds in Door County. My cousin Justine was visiting from Toronto so it was nice to be able to spend some time with her and for her to meet Jaylen for the first time.

Here are a few snapshots from our week!

Family in Peninsula State Park during the trolley tour

Family in Peninsula State Park during the trolley tour

Can't get enough of that sand

Can’t get enough of that sand

Fishing on Anderson Dock

Fishing on Anderson Dock

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Jaylen taking a turn at driving the pontoon boat

Jaylen taking a turn at driving the pontoon boat

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Fish Boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant

Fish Boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

CMJ + Little J at the Botanic Garden

CMJ + Little J at the Botanic Garden

CMJ Reunion

CMJ Reunion

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It was good to see you, Justine!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

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My First Mother’s Day

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 - almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 – almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

Today is my first mother’s day holding my baby in my arms. Last year I was in my first trimester and hadn’t told anyone except our families that I was pregnant. It was like my little secret when they passed out Mother’s Day gifts during church service. I’ve always appreciated my mom, but now that I’m a mother myself, I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of a mother’s love.

The other night as I held Jaylen before putting him to bed, I was overwhelmed by my love for him. I would do anything for him. I don’t want to see him get hurt–physically or emotionally–ever (though realistically I know this won’t ever happen…especially the part about not wanting a boy to get physically hurt). I hope I die before him because I never want to lose him. I would give my life for him. As much as he may frustrate me sometimes with his constant night wakings and his sometimes endless need to be held, I love my son. It’s not because of anything he did; it’s just because he’s my son. How true that statement is about God’s love for us too. He loves us not because of anything we’ve done–just because we’re his children. (I heard that through a Visionary Parenting sermon we listened to last weekend).

So I realize how much it must hurt my parents when I’m hurting. They probably cheered when I learned how to roll over just like we did for Jaylen. And they probably welled up with pride (and a little sadness) when they saw me graduate from college and when I got a job. They sacrificed their time, energy, money, and desires for me just like I’m finding I need to do for my own child.

A mother’s job is never done. I see how much my mom still shows her love for me in the ways she shows her love for her grandson.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here's Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here’s Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

We’ve never had to buy diapers yet (and Jaylen will be 5 months old tomorrow) because my mom buys them in bulk from Sam’s Club before we run out. She provides babysitting and meals for us often. She encouraged me to stick through the tough parts of breastfeeding because she did it with my siblings and me and knows it’s worth the effort. She takes Chloe, our pug, out for us and even lets her stay at her house for days at a time. She prays for me and my family. Even though she doesn’t have to parent me anymore, my mom will always be my mother. Mom, I love you, and I’m continuing to learn from your example. Thank you for being my mom!

Now this Mother’s Day is extra special because I have my own little boy. He may not call me “mom” yet, but I love being his favorite

person (probably mostly because I’m his food source). I love seeing his eyes follow me as I walk across the room and to see his face light up with a smile when he sees me (even on FaceTime). I love snuggling with him and when he falls asleep on my shoulder. I love knowing that I’m the only one who can really soothe him when he’s super angry. I love seeing him master new skills and discover the world around him. It can be hard amid the sleepless nights, spit-up everywhere, messy house, and days where it seems like nothing really gets done, but I believe it will all be worth it. I pray that the result will be a respectful, godly young man who loves the Lord and lives to honor Him.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I leave you with a few great quotes from Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker.

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And this one is a plaque I saw and I just loved it. :)

StrengthofmyLove

 

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5 Minutes for Mom – Ultimate Blog Party

I originally learned about this Ultimate Blog Party #UBP14 because I was trying to submit some Tyndale books for review on 5 Minutes for Mom. Once I looked at all the amazing prizes being offered (including a little collection from Tyndale!), I wanted to join the party myself for the chance to win some of those great prizes! So for those of you who stumbled upon this blog from the Ultimate Blog Party, welcome! :) My name is Christy and I’m a wife, new mom to a 15 week baby boy named Jaylen, a pug mom to Chloe, a book publicist at Tyndale House Publishers, and an active member at my church. I enjoy running, but am working to rebuild my base after not running nearly as much during and after pregnancy. I also love reading, music, and horseback riding.

On this blog, I write about my life–so that’s anything from marriage, pugs, motherhood, faith, and running. There’s a little youth ministry thrown in there too from my former days as a youth leader. Hope you enjoy it!

I’m excited to connect with other moms and “party-goers,” so feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter!

This is our little family

This is our little family

 

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My New Normal

IMG_1618My little boy just turned 10 weeks old. That means I only have a couple weeks of maternity leave left. This time has gone by slowly (sometimes the days feel long when I’m at home all day and not doing much except caring for baby), but also too quickly. Jaylen had a rough morning at his 2 month doctor appointment by getting 3 shots and another vaccine to drink. It broke my heart to see him cry harder with each vaccine injection. :( But other than that, he had a great check-up and is perfectly healthy and growing well.

This week I took Jaylen to visit my co-workers at Tyndale and also to visit Gerald’s class and his co-workers. We got stopped in the hall at his school every few feet by more teachers who wanted to ooh and ahh over the baby. That’s what happens when you work in a female-dominated profession. People usually ask how we’re doing and how he’s sleeping. He sleeps about 3-4 hours in a row at night, sometimes less and sometimes more (though this only happened once so far). Apparently this is normal though for a breastfed baby according to the pediatrician. Somehow God made it so parents can function on very little sleep.

As for how we’re doing, I say we’re doing alright. We’re adjusting to this new normal. A new normal that includes:

  • Interrupted sleep
  • Letting dirty dishes sit in the sink and household chores that don’t get done
  • Staring at Jaylen’s adorable face all day (for me)
  • Getting up hours ahead of time when preparing to go somewhere because it takes twice as long to get ready
  • Lots of outfit changes for me and for baby because of spit up (or diaper blowouts)
  • Doing laundry almost daily because of the spit up and blowouts
  • Cars that feel a lot smaller because of all the baby gear
  • Enjoying lots of smiles and cooing from our smiley 2 month old :)
  • Getting peed on various times a day (the joys of baby boys)
  • Speed-eating during meals or taking turns to eat
  • More time with family (the grandparents mostly want to see the baby, not so much us ;-P)
  • Naps with my newborn
  • Looking in awe at this little person we created and being amazed at how awesome he is

A lot of these things seem negative, but they’re really not that bad. I think of it as our badge of parenthood. We wouldn’t be parents if we didn’t get spit up on or peed on. It’s definitely not easy being a new parent, but when we look at our little boy, we can’t help but be filled with love and joy. I can’t believe I’ve been given the privilege of being his mother. It’s a huge responsibility as I think about how what we do now will shape him (in positive and negative ways) in the future. I pray he comes out alright. :) I also love knowing that I’m the main person he depends on for nourishment and comfort right now. I hope that never changes!

So while I sometimes wish I was still pregnant (I actually got more sleep while pregnant) or that I had some of the freedoms I had when we didn’t have Jaylen, I wouldn’t trade life with him for anything. He is so precious and a true gift from God. This newborn stage can be hard, but apparently everyone forgets that and still goes on to have more kids. I know one day I’ll look back and miss this, but for now I guess I’ll try to enjoy all those late night nursing sessions and how my baby won’t let us put him down to sleep sometimes. There will come a day when he’ll be more independent and won’t want to stay in my arms all the time. So I need to try to cherish all these mommy and son times while they last.

Such a smiley boy!

Such a smiley boy!

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Love my son!

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One Word for 2014

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve chosen a word to focus on for 2014. My word for the year is intentional. Specifically, there are a few areas I want to be intentional in:

Marriage: I need to be more intentional in giving Gerald attention as my husband and in focusing on building our relationship, especially now that we have a son who demands much of our attention (mostly mine right now). I need to be intentional in the ways I talk to Gerald and to allow space for some spontaneity in our relationship.

Motherhood: I want to be intentional in spending time with Jaylen and in investing in his life. This is especially important when I go back to to work in March. I want to be present for my son when I’m not working.

Spiritual: I want to be intentional in spending time with God. It’s challenging to do right now with a newborn, but the times that I do get to do a devotion, I want to be very intentional on making that time count.

Family: I’d like to be more intentional about connecting with my family, and specifically my siblings. We’ll have to FaceTime Jaylen’s Uncle Nathan more often so he can see how he’s growing!

Time/Activities: If I want to be intentional about the things listed above, I may need to say no to certain activities or serving opportunities in order to invest my time in the relationships and things that I think matter most.

2013 was quite the eventful year for us. We faced marital challenges, buying a house, getting a dog, having a baby, etc. It was definitely one of the more challenging years of my life. So I’m glad to close the door on 2013 and I’m looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

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Jaylen’s Birth Story

IMG_1051It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago, our firstborn son, Jaylen Micah Stroud, was born. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had December 11 in my mind as a possible birth date for some reason. My actual due date was December 14, but I was hoping the baby would come between my birthday (Dec. 8) and then. Similar to the dream I had early in pregnancy where I dreamed I was having a boy, there may have been some kind of mother’s intuition or something going on because I went into labor on December 11 and our little boy was born the morning of December 12.

I’m not going to go into great detail, but here’s a nice little timeline with my commentary of Jaylen’s birth.

December 11
10:30 pm     We arrived home from having dinner at some church friends’ home. I’d felt some contractions while we were there, but I thought they were Braxton Hicks contractions and they weren’t very regular so I didn’t think anything of them. I took Chloe outside, brought her back in, went back out to check the mail, came in & had to go to the bathroom. After I went, I had an extra gush of liquid and my first thought was, “Oh no…did my water break?” I was taking a while so Gerald came down to see if I was okay and I told him, “I think my water broke!” That’s when I think we both started getting a little nervous & anxious.

I wanted to wait a little while to make sure I was actually leaking amniotic fluid before actually calling the doctor. So I texted my mom to let her know what happened and Gerald finished up some of his sub plans while I was trying to decide if I should call or not. Finally, at about 11:00, I was convinced I needed to call because I knew once your water broke you needed to head to the hospital soon. When I talked to the on-call doctor, she told me to start heading to the hospital. So I set my out of office message for maternity leave for work and quickly finished putting together my hospital bag. I also set everything out for Chloe and told my parents they needed to come pick her up.

December 12
12:00 am     Gerald and I finally headed off to the hospital

12:30 am     We check in to labor & delivery. I’m still not really feeling any contractions. They immediately hook me up to the monitor to monitor baby’s heart rate and my contractions and then get me started on an IV. That’s when I knew I was going to be stuck in bed  so I wouldn’t be able to move around in labor like I would’ve liked. I was already 2 cm dilated, which I had been for a couple weeks. The nurse talked to the doctor and said that they would monitor my contractions until about 4 am and then if they didn’t get stronger and closer together, they would start me on Pitocin. I even had a contraction while she was talking to me but I didn’t feel anything. She asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10 and I honestly said it was a zero. So Gerald and I tried to take advantage of those next few hours to get some rest, which honestly was hard for me to do. It wasn’t very comfortable in that bed and being hooked up to all these things.

4:30 am     The nurse came back to check on me and said they were going to start me on Pitocin because my contractions were still irregular. I really didn’t want to get on Pitocin if I didn’t have to be because I would’ve preferred if my labor could continue naturally, but oh well. They gave me the lowest dose and soon after that, I started feeling the contractions more. I felt them before they started Pitocin too, but they weren’t very painful. As I lay there and the contractions started getting a little more intense, I started thinking maybe now I should ask for an epidural because this could take a while and if it’s going to get worse than this, I think I might want the medication.

5:00 am     My nurse came back to check on me and I told her I wanted an epidural. It took a while for them to get everything ready for that and to call the anesthesiologist in. While I was waiting, my contractions started getting more intense and painful. Gerald had to leave the room while they administered the drug. Unfortunately my contractions were getting more intense at this point and I had to try to hold still. I started sweating  and felt like I was going to throw up. It didn’t help that the blood pressure monitor also started trying to read my blood pressure while all this was going on. This was the worst part of my labor. It felt like it took forever for him to get the epidural in & start the medication. Even after he finished and they had me lie back down, I could barely talk and I still felt miserable. Soon after that though, the drugs started working and I felt SO much better. This was around 5:30. Gerald came back in and said I looked so relaxed. I actually started getting sleepy and wanted to take a nap. I couldn’t feel any contractions anymore, but I could still move my legs (though they felt numb).

6:00 am     Nurse came back to check on me and told me that it seemed like I just needed the epidural to relax me because now I was dilated to 8 cm! I was shocked when she told me that because I didn’t expect it to go that quickly. She said she would tell the doctor to stay close by and that I should let her know if I felt any pressure. I felt slight pressure off and on for the next hour and finally called the nurse in again at 7 am.

7:00 am     Nurse came back to check me and she could see the baby’s head. So he was just hanging out there probably for a while! She called the doctor and then a whole slew of other nurses also came into the room and started preparing for baby’s arrival.

7:20ish     The doctor and nurse had me do some practice pushes and said I was a good pusher. That was helpful to know because I couldn’t feel anything down there to know if I was making any progress. The nurse had to watch the monitor to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel my contractions at all. Then the doctor left for some reason and the nurse was just having me push, but baby’s heart rate started dropping drastically and the next thing I know they’re paging the doctor to get in there quickly and she said they were going to use the vacuum to get him out quickly. It was a little scary (probably more for Gerald since he could see the whole thing happening), but I just prayed in that moment that our son would be okay.

7:30ish     I started helping the doctor by pushing during the contractions in addition to her using the vacuum and we got Jaylen out in probably about 5 or 6 pushes. All I know is it happened quickly.

7:46 am     Jaylen was born weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and at 19 inches long.

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I didn’t get to do skin-to-skin with him right away because the nurses took him over to clean him up and probably check on him. Gerald did get to go over there though (after cutting the umbilical cord). So unfortunately I could only watch from a distance while the doctor stitched me up. I heard him crying and I could see his little legs and I kept thinking, “I can’t believe he’s really here.” I’m thankful for a fairly easy (and actually relatively pain-free for most of it) and short labor.

So we’re about a week into this parenting thing and life with a newborn is a little rough. The lack of sleep, I think, is starting to catch up with me now. Plus no one talks about how difficult the mother’s recovery after labor & delivery can be. I was dealing with pain and discomfort from that up until a couple days ago. Not to mention the challenges of breastfeeding. Everyone keeps saying it gets better and it’s worth it, but sometimes I just keep wondering when that “better” stuff will start. It’s already a little better and I keep reminding myself that this is only a season. It won’t always be like this. Thankfully Gerald has been amazing with helping out around the house–cleaning up things that have been packed up in boxes in our basement and washing dishes (which he hates)–and changing diapers or holding Jaylen while he sleeps so I can get some rest or get something done.

Despite all the challenges of being a new parent, we love our little guy. His name, “Jaylen,” means “tranquil healer.” We chose this name because we like more unique names, but also because his birth is a reminder to us of the healing power of the cross and how God can redeem brokenness. His middle name, “Micah,” means “Who is like God?” We hope that Jaylen will grow up to be a young man who strives to follow God and be more like Christ daily. Jaylen, we’re blessed to be your parents!

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What I’m Thankful for in 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! We should be thankful all the time no matter what the circumstances, so in honor of this special holiday where we remind ourselves of this, here are some things I’m thankful for this year:

1. I’m thankful that God is in the restoration business. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may recall that this year was a particularly difficult one in our marriage. We are still in that healing process, but I am so grateful that God is in the business of taking broken pieces and transforming them into something new. He did that with my life by saving me from my sinful nature and redeeming me so I’m no longer a slave to sin. He’s continuing to do that now in our marriage by taking what was broken and restoring and transforming it into a new and better marriage. Of course, this is not an easy process because He’s having two imperfect, sinful people work to make a marriage more holy, but I’m thankful that God has given us the opportunity to work on our relationship and the desire in both Gerald and me to make it stronger. We still would appreciate prayers in this area though as it can be a struggle when life gets busy and it’s going to get a lot busier with this baby’s pending arrival!

Last week's belly photo

Last week’s belly photo

2. I’m thankful for a fairly easy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I know I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t have any morning sickness or really any other issues (no swelling, not too many aches & pains except for lately, no real health issues with the baby, etc.) throughout this pregnancy. I know some people hate being pregnant, but it really hasn’t been too bad for me. I’m still not even that huge (people can’t believe that I’m due in about 2 weeks) even though to me I feel big. So I know that plays a big role in me not having a lot of back pain and other discomforts. I’ve been sleeping well aside from getting up a couple times in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and maybe luckily for Gerald, I haven’t had any strange cravings to drive him crazy (people have been telling me to make them up just for fun). At our 21 week ultrasound, the baby had a calcification on his heart, which can be a soft marker for Downs Syndrome, but the doctor wasn’t too concerned about it. Then at an ultrasound I had a few weeks ago (because they thought I was measuring small, but baby’s actually okay–66th percentile for growth), they said the calcification was gone and the heart looks great! That was a huge praise for us because Gerald also has a heart condition that could possibly be genetic. So far everything looks good. I’ve enjoyed how easy this pregnancy has been (hopefully my future ones are similar), but I’m definitely ready to not be pregnant now. So I’m excited for labor to begin, but also kind of nervous about it because I don’t know what to expect. This is another area we’d appreciate prayers for–pray for a smooth, hopefully quick, and safe delivery of baby in the coming weeks!

3. I’m thankful for my family. This is always a given, but I have a wonderful family–immediate and in-laws. This year I’ve appreciated the grace and forgiveness both sides of our family has demonstrated. I’m also so grateful for their generosity in helping us fix up our new home, furnish it, and in providing us with things we’ll need for baby. I’m grateful that our families lives nearby because this will be a huge help once the baby arrives too. I’m also glad my family loves pugs because they’re going to take care of Chloe for us for a while when baby comes. My sister and dad also helped us care for Chloe every day for about four months when we first got her.

4. I’m thankful for my pug. This is our first Thanksgiving with Chloe and now we couldn’t imagine life without her. She brings us such joy (and IMG_0671sometimes frustration when she goes through the trash, recycling, or eats our food that she finds in bags). We love her energetic personality and I appreciate how considerate she was the one time she had an accident at home by peeing in the kitchen and not on the carpet (she stays home alone for 11 hours about 3 days a week – luckily probably not anymore). Chloe is a great companion & hopefully she’ll be a wonderful big pug sister.

5. I’m thankful for God’s provision. He provided us with a new home to call our own in His perfect timing. We have been blessed with more than we need and somehow He provides for us when finances begin to stress us out.

6. I’m thankful to work for a company that supports working moms. Tyndale has been so great with allowing me to work from home twice a week starting in September. This has helped since my commute is now about an hour and 10 minutes one way. I’m grateful for such a supportive boss and HR department that is also allowing me to work from home from now until the baby’s born. I love how Tyndale is so supportive of the work/life balance and understands the importance of family. I’m not sure exactly what my work schedule will look like after maternity leave, but I am grateful for the support and flexibility they’ve given me so far.

7. I’m thankful for my husband. Even though this has been a rough year for us, I am thankful for Gerald. He works hard to provide for our family and more specifically, did a lot of work (painting, handiwork, etc.) on our home this summer. I was even pleasantly surprised yesterday when I got home from work (he had the day off) and saw that he’d put up our Christmas decorations on his own AND did all the tasks I suggested he could do during the day–including washing dishes, which he hates. I’m thankful that he chose me and that he is willing to work with me to make our marriage even better IMG_0906than it was when we first got married nearly 2.5 years ago. I know he’ll be a great father.

I could find lots of other little things to be thankful for, but these are some of the things that have been on my heart lately. Most of all, I’m thankful to the Giver of all these good gifts. He has shown me this year how to be thankful in the good and the bad circumstances. 

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An Expectant Mother’s View on Advent

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just a week away. Since Thanksgiving is so late this year, that means the Advent season is quickly approaching too. This year, at 36–almost 37–weeks pregnant, I am viewing advent from a different perspective. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was at the same stage of pregnancy I am right now waiting for her baby boy to be born. I imagine as a first-time mom, Mary would’ve felt much of what I’m feeling right now: anxious and nervous about labor and delivery (because of not knowing what to expect), wondering when I might go into labor, excitement about being able to meet my son soon, wondering how being a parent will change my life and if I’ll be good at it, etc.

Advent is about waiting expectantly. At Christmas, we’re waiting expectantly for Christ to be born. Now that He has already come and gone back to be with the Father, today we are waiting expectantly for Christ to return at the Second Coming. I think being nine months pregnant gives you a great sense of how we should feel about longing and waiting for Christ’s return. I’m longing for this baby to be born (although somewhat reluctantly sometimes when I think of the pain I’m going to have to endure for him to get here) and I’m ready to not be pregnant anymore. I know the baby can come at almost any time at this point, but I still feel like I have so much to do before he gets here. I need to finish putting baby things away, get a few more baby things that we need, get the car seat inspected in my car, finish up things at work before maternity leave (mostly trying to work ahead), etc. I’m trying to prepare as best I can for baby’s arrival, but I also know he can come before I even get to do some of these things. So in the meantime, I’m actively waiting by doing things to prepare for whenever he gets here.

Similarly, we don’t know when Christ will return and we may feel like there are so many things we want to get done before He arrives (like getting married, having kids, traveling, experiencing life the way you want, sharing the Gospel with those who haven’t heard–hopefully this last one should be more of a priority–etc). Jesus may come back before any of these things happen, so we need to be prepared too by actively waiting for Him and focusing on the things that matter most in eternity. We should be living in a way that is actively preparing ourselves for Christ’s arrival on this earth. I know I don’t generally think in these terms or live with this in mind, but I want to have that kind of focus.

To help me with this, I’m going to be reading through Ann Voskamp‘s The Greatest Gift, this December. It’s a beautiful little book published by Tyndale that traces and celebrates the lineage of Jesus while pointing to the coming promise of Christ. {For full disclosure, I do work for Tyndale, but was not required to post about this book. I’m just personally excited to use it!} I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to keep up with the readings once Baby Stroud is born, but I’m going to try to keep up as I can.

Ann actually did a great webcast today with Liz Curtis Higgs as they both spoke about remembering the true meaning of Christmas. You can watch the entire “Christmas at the Farm” webcast on-demand and I’d encourage you to do so!

So as I’m patiently waiting for Baby Stroud to arrive (still patient right now…if I go past my due date, that may be another story), I hope I can take these feelings of waiting, anticipation, and even anxiety and allow them to remind me that I’m also waiting for my Savior’s return, which should be even more exciting and highly anticipated. May that reminder help me to refocus my attention on what is most important this Christmas season.

Do you do anything special for Advent to focus on the true meaning of Christmas? 

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Growing Baby

I haven’t been posting a lot of pregnancy pictures online, but for those who may be curious as to how Baby Stroud has been growing, he is definitely hitting a growth spurt.

First half of pregnancy

First half of pregnancy

belly2

2nd half of pregnancy

I started out taking photos every two weeks (except for the first two). I will note that on week 12, it looks like I have more of a belly, but judging by the photos after that, it wasn’t exactly baby belly showing at that time. ;-) Now that we’re only about two more months until Baby’s birthday, I’m taking pictures every week. I think this is when we’ll see the most growth anyway.

I’m still feeling pretty good. No back pain or other aches yet…unless I’m sitting in the same position for a while. Then I start to get uncomfortable. I’m tired, but I also need to work on getting to sleep earlier (5am alarms are tough). Gerald and I are getting excited to meet baby, but I know I’m also a little anxious! I don’t feel ready for baby yet (in terms of…we don’t really have anything for him!) We did set up the Pack ‘N’ Play in our room and I bought a stroller, which arrived last week. We finally also ordered the crib, which should get here Saturday. Maybe I’ll start to feel better once we start putting things in the nursery. Speaking of Saturday, we have an all-day childbirth preparation class that day so it should be interesting! Hopefully it won’t make me more nervous about labor and delivery. :)

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