At one point this summer Shelby told me about a half-marathon she was considering. At this race we would get to wear tutus, tiaras, and get bubbly at the end! I enthusiastically said that we should totally do it and then signed up for it that night and sent her my confirmation asking if she had.
Even though the title is hints that this is supposed to be the post where I explain why… I really don’t know why I wanted to accomplish 13.1 miles while still breastfeeding a baby. I’ve spent some time pondering it though… I think I wanted to achieve a measurable goal. Not that I cared to achieve it in a certain time, or in a certain way, but I wanted to say I had finished it, I ran the race. Of course, I wanted pictures for proof 😉
So much of what I do on a daily basis gets undone or I rarely see results to even know if I am doing a good job.
With running… I could have my app, my fitbit, my body, etc all telling me I was doing it!
It became my “me” time this spring and summer after a cold and mean winter last year cooped up inside and in hospitals.
Running truly gives me those endorphins and high that only weirdos talk about. I will forreal tell Micah that I haven’t gotten high in a while if I haven’t been able to run. I love it.
I didn’t always love it. In fact, I only had a handful of running experiences prior to the race:
- I ran track for a season, I ran sprints with a team (not alone and as fast as possible then its done) – this was in middle school.
- I weight-lifted for a year or two and we had to run around the track to warm up – this was in high school.
- I went on a cruise so we ran for like a month leading up to it, my BFF and I wanted to look good in our bathing suits – this was in college.
- I gained 50 lbs during my pregnancy with Haddon. My sister signed us up for a family turkey trot (5k) the following November – postpartum in 2012.
It was that last one that I decided I really liked running. Not only did I feel great but I saw results. I was hooked. From then on Micah and I would run together most the time. I have fond memories of bundling Haddon up in the dark as a baby and letting him fall asleep in the stroller as Micah and I ran around the neighborhood.
baby Haddon all cozy and ready to roll
I ran throughout my pregnancy with Verity and while it was more of a real trot towards the end, I did it! I was really proud of myself. I had big plans to keep it up as soon as I got the okay from my midwife. But like I said, last winter sucked.
Hey there, Verity!
So to me, running and postpartum are closely connected.
After much consideration, in retrospect, I think I signed up for a half-marathon because I wanted to see goals and I wanted to endure.
This might sound so silly… but Haddon’s birth was the longest/craziest event my body had ever been through (he was sunny side up) and when I found out Verity was sunny side up too…well, to be honest, I didnt want to endure that again – I opted for meds. While I truly dont think there is anything wrong with that and to each their own, I think it left me wanting to test my body again… and so, I did.
(to be continued)
You are a little over 10 months as I write this because we have been busy bees this month, you especially!
You give kisses.
You belly laugh when someone pretends you have stinky feet (but actually, most of the time they are in fact, stinky).
You high pitch squeal when you see your brother and you are wanting to see him.
You have two bottom teeth growing taller by the day.
Your brother and dad call you juicer… it’s the weirdest but funniest thing.
You give me kisses – big, open mouth, slobbery ones.
You took your first steps and they were toward me! Then this past weekend you took fourteen in a row.
You love drinking water – really I think you just like having your own cup a whole lot.
You eat like a champ – pretty much anything I put in front of you.
You like to read Pat the Bunny – my way of prepping you for your first birthday theme 😉
You are starting to be able to follow direction but that doesn’t mean you always do……..
You point at everything and I just think it’s the cutest – one time in kid’s church, you and your brother were pointing at each other and smiling from across the room. I think I melted.
I just finished my first 1/2 marathon and someday you will understand why that was so important to me.
You make all sorts of faces and I cant wait until you talk and you tell us what they mean.
Actually, I can wait… you are growing up so fast and I cant believe how long the days are sometimes but the years truly are so short.
Mommy loves you baby girl.
You’ve been with us on the outside as long as you were on the inside, and I wont lie, that makes me a crying mess right now.
I am so thankful, more than I ever knew to be before you were born.
Every day is such a gift sweet thing, you are such a gift to this family.
You make me so stinkin happy. Your personality and disposition is the biggest blessing to us.
Sometimes I cant believe we almost didn’t get to know you… and what we would have missed… I’m just so thankful to God for you.
You are growing and developing so wonderfully and that thrills me too.
When we left the NICU, we asked if anything was “wrong” with you from being without oxygen for so long and if there was anything we needed to be aware of long term. They said you had passed all your NICU tests and to just watch for your developmental milestones and that you would probably have an asterisk by your name until middle school to watch for learning disabilities.
So far you are passing all your milestones with flying colors (another thing that makes me sappy). Every time you do something new, experience something for the first time, etc it’s a reminder to me of God’s grace and my unreservedness. Almost losing you seriously changed me in the best way possible.
So, what you are up to…
Every since you got the grasping/pinching thing down you eat all on your own. We give you pouches occasionally for convenience but otherwise you completely lead the way and feed yourself anything that we give you (which is pretty much everything).
You pull on everything. You can stand for a couple seconds on your own.
You love your brother a lot.
Your daddy too… you have started to get excited when he comes home from work.
You love to touch other people but are kind of funny with your own space.
You are obsessed with your baby dolls, I have a couple so that we always have one accessible and you seriously squeal and laugh at them. If anyone tries to take one out of your hand you pull hard haha
You can say mumm mumm mumm but don’t do it all the time. In fact, you can make a couple sounds that sort of sound like words but you definitely take more in than you try to say.
You sleep through the night and usually take two naps a day. You are like clock work and at 8pm you turn into a grump if you are not getting ready for bed.
We never even had to sleep train you – you cried for like 2 minutes the first time we “tried” to train you. Every now and then you give a little protest but it’s nothing crazy and it never lasts for long.
You are learning the word no and I wouldn’t say you always listen to it… but you seem to be very teachable, which is something we pray for with you kids.
You make the most hilarious face when you don’t like something… you just open your mouth and make funny eyes, every now and then you make a whining noise and purse your lips too.
You rarely cry. If you do there is definitely a reason.
It’s hard to read to you… you are so active. I hope you will love books like the rest of the family though!
You are a tall little thing and I have no idea where you get that from but I should have known since you did give me stretch marks and your brother didn’t… I forgive you. I also still haven’t lost all the weight I gained with you and Ive been running over 25 miles a week – so I am assuming I just need the extra pounds for you to continue nursing. Which you are a champ at by the way.
As of today, (which is 4 days past your 9 month mark) your first tooth broke the skin!
I love you little girl and I cant wait to see what this month brings!
You turned 8 months last week and you just continue to capture all of us with your bubbly personality and big gummy smiles.
I truly don’t know a happier baby.
You are the most active little girl ever. You crawl all over the place. You pull up on anything within reach. Daddy had to lower your crib.
You are obsessed with your big brother and it is the sweetest thing to me when you giggle together at the craziest things.
You go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. You don’t really cry a lot though… more of a voice your opinion type of noise.
Just days ago you finally started shoving fistfuls of food into your mouth. Before that it was only pureed and you preferred store bought over anything I would make! Now you will eat whatever is in front of you… which is awesome but not so much when you find things on the floor now…
You had a blast at the beach. The sand was so fun for you.
You like to swing at the playground, jump in your bouncer, crawl, pull up, press buttons, eat your baby, get into things…
One of my absolute favorite things you do is, suck the air… bahaha when you want to nurse or are tired you just suck on your tongue a little bit. I need to get it on video.
It wouldn’t surprise me if you stood on your own any day now, you try but it doesn’t happen successfully yet.
You are learning the word “no” and sometimes you yell at be and get the biggest frown if I use that word. You also are super smart… because you go up to things you have already learned no about and you look at me and wait for me to look! little stinker.
I love you so much little girl.
Sweet baby girl you are 7 months old!
You bring me SO much joy.
You “crawl” all over the place.
You are super determined.
You wont eat food unless it is completely pureed, obviously you are not a fan of textures right now.
At your 6 month check up, you were in the 27% for weight and 87% for height.
You are still a champ at nursing, just an easily distracted one.
You love the baby you met in the mirror.
You “talk” and make sounds like mmmm and daaa. You also growl a lot.
You laugh, mostly at your brother and dad, sometimes me… and often at that baby you met in the mirror.
You know your name and sometimes I can even get you to crawl to me for a diaper change or to be picked up.
You’ve been sleeping pretty well lately, maybe 50% of the time its through the night. I think all the moving and grooving wears you out.
Your brother’s toys are fascinating to you now.
I can see you wanting to pull yourself up but if you actually accomplish it you cry because you aren’t sure how to get back down.
You are pre-teething still and try to bite my face off.
You do sit and play and can get in and out of that position though. It’s the cutest.
You are content to play by yourself with toys for very long periods of times, like your brother, thank you Jesus!
You are a very busy baby. Constantly moving, you do like to be held but not for long periods and if you are being held you want to look at things and touch them while also being held.
You are a sensitive little thing. If your brother kisses you too hard or someone makes sudden noises you get these big fat tears with the saddest frown ever, like someone personally offended you.
I just love you to pieces Verity Belle.
Five Years of Marriage…
It’s incredible really to be known and loved by someone and have the security that you are in it for the long haul.
We have had our fair share of arguments, disagreements, and feeling hurt by one another but mostly, its so easy to love you Micah Downs. Thank you for loving me so well and that when you don’t you earnestly try to get to know me better so that you can love me well.
There is no one else I would rather commit to every single day until death do us part…
To celebrate 5 years we got all dressed up in our old wedding clothes and went to the Sight and Sound Theater.
Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing a little about what God has been teaching me this year at our MOPs group.
The main point is: God is sovereign and in control, no matter what happens.
How I thought I was going to be the bravest this year!
So the topic this year was “Be You Bravely” and when Kristin asked me to share about what God has taught me this year through MOPs and just His leading, I truly didn’t know what I would share. I thought my biggest opportunity to be brave this year was going to come from asking my boss if I could just work part-time. Little did I know this year would be one full of transitions. I have felt anything but brave on multiple occasions.
I realized I’m not brave by myself/ Lots of life transitions
All these different occasions led me more to my knees in prayer and humility than a “climb the mountain, conquering type of feeling” if you know what I mean. I realized that I am just not brave by myself, especially if life gets hard… but that’s okay.
It’s okay if you haven’t been brave this year either – and I hope you feel encouraged and not saddened at the end of this little talk.
The idea of being brave requires that you can summon up courage during some sort of decision or life event. I am more of a dependent woman than I ever have been in my life.
So at the end of this, if you can relate to me and you haven’t felt very brave this year, that’s okay. You don’t have to be by yourself. If you have felt brave this year, good! I am so glad for you. I hope you have thanked God for the grace to do so and realize that every good gift is from Him and that we shouldn’t boast in anything but what He has done for us. No matter what your situation, I hope you feel encouraged to lean into Him after this little talk, no matter what your story.
I could tell you a lot of stories about all the transitions that have gone on in my family’s lives this past year but the most impactful for me to realize my dependence on God was my daughter’s birth.
Because I have to keep this talk under 15 minutes, the short version is, she wasn’t breathing when she came out. For seven minutes we heard nurses and doctors administer CPR, give her epinephrine, and then hook her up to tubes to help her breathe. I say we heard because we couldn’t see anything through the whirlwind that was the delivery room. I just kept asking “why isn’t she breathing, why isn’t she crying, and looking at my husband with fear in my eyes. I don’t remember actually asking him questions but the look in my eyes said it all – what if she doesn’t make it?
He knows me and he could read straight through my eyes and asked me ever so sweetly and calmly:
“Whose baby is she?”, “Who made her?”, “Who loves her more than we do?” I love that man.
When they got her stable and wheeled her away, Micah crawled in bed with me and we lost it. We almost lost her. But we didn’t. What if we had though? I know some of you have lost loved ones. We didn’t know if something was “wrong with her” from going that long without breathing and started to wonder what our road with her would look like.
I decided to ask Micah to turn on hymns because I just wanted to listen to truth. I couldn’t really talk and just wanted to be saturated with His word.
Because of this and a lot of other things this year… I became anxious and fearful. Two sins I’ve never struggled with before. It caused me to search my heart and mind to decide things… He is either good or He isn’t. I can trust Him or I cant. Not only in outcomes but through processes too, for it’s often there where we grow the most, through the process of pruning. Our sanctification. My anxiety and fear are being pushed away, (although not completely), as I learn and remind myself of His truths.
The Importance of Community
I remind myself of his truths by being in a gospel teaching and practicing church, by saturating myself with the word of God, by surrounding myself with believers to be encouraged, and non-believers to pray for and share truth with, it comes from prayer, it comes from a godly husband, it comes from me remembering every good gift is from Him and not mine to keep. It comes most of all not by me being more courageous but more dependent on the grace He lavishes out on me.
Community is so important yall – did you know that in the NT Paul is mostly writing to churches? When our old pastor shared that with Micah, it was a game changer for us. Who is the one another often mentioned in the NT? It’s us, its each other, it’s not just you or I. We are to encourage one another, serve one another, rebuke one another, bear with each other, pray for each other, etc.
God is Sovereign and in control. He is good.
It’s true stuff is going to happen. We live in a fallen world where there is death and sickness and we are a far cry from Eden. Even when stuff seems terrible or on the contrary when we are in a season of light with hardly any darkness… we need to be trusting in God’s plan and His sovereignty, His purpose and abilities to make all things work together for good for those who love Him.
He is so good. If he didn’t let Verity live, He would still be good. I would just be a really brokenhearted mama.
We need courage to persevere in our faith, to run the race set before us.
In the old testament, we see time and time again where God calls people to do some really crazy things. To trust Him when things seem downright crazy. I was reading about Joshua entering Jerico, God says “be strong and courageous, the Lord your God goes before you”. He goes before us yall. He knows the number of hairs on our head and nothings surprises Him.
So “Be You Bravely” ladies, for sure. Practice courage everywhere you can. Just don’t think you have to go at it alone.
Be brave in your decisions, your parenting, your finances, your marriage, but all those things are circumstantial – pray that come what may, we can be courageous in our faith. That it wouldn’t yield to anything or anyone.
Let’s have our prayer be that Christ would be made known through our lives, and that we would be brave in making sure that happens, no matter what our story.
I just want to end with lyrics from one of my favorite hymns…
“From life’s first cry (or lack thereof…), to final breath, Jesus commands our destiny”
I’m not one for major goals and dreams and five-year plans.
In fact, if I truly did stick to my old ones I would have achieved those at the age of 26.
Married: Age 24 – check
Mama: Age 26 – check
Thanks God and Micah.
Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be as a kid, without fail, the answer was: a wife and a mom. Although I think I always said mom first. I bought baby dolls until I was in college. True story.
When I went to college, it was because it kind of seemed like what I was supposed to do. I loved JMU and my undergrad minor led me into my graduate studies: Human Resource Development and Adult Education. There were so many avenues you could take with that degree and I really liked it! I always hoped it would be something I could still use if I did become a mama. I hoped that it would be the kind of work I could do from home.
I’ve kind of always just tried to go with the flow when it comes to God’s plans for my life.
He led me to my first job after college – working full-time in an office in Newport News.
He led me to Frederick, MD – working part-time for that same company.
I couldn’t have planned that out.
I get weekly interview offers through LinkedIn for exciting opportunities, mostly because I am hitting my 5-year experience threshold and the location of where I live. I turn them down every time though. For now, what is most exciting to me is not the money, the project, or the location. It’s that I am here every day when my husband gets home. It’s that I am with my kids more than I am apart from them.
The fact that I am working from home right now, using my hard earned degree is not something I take lightly, at all. In fact, I have tears in my eyes just writing this because I don’t know why God is being so nice to me in allowing me to continue with my career and see my littles more. Truly the best of both worlds.
Now that I’ve been working from home for over a year, I feel like I can shed a teeny bit of advice for mamas who desire to do the same.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind if you are considering this type of arrangement, in no particular order:
Have a set space. Even if it isn’t an “office”. It’s easier to stay focused when you have a designated work space. My office happens to be in the basement so every now and then if I don’t need two monitors I come upstairs and into the light!
Have designated hours. I work Tuesdays and Thursdays full 8-hr days and on Wednesday mornings. For me this meant taking work email off of my phone and closing down my computer at certain times. I don’t want to be connected to it all of the time. Isnt that part of my goal in having more dedicated and designated time for each priority?
Have reliable internet and phone service. It’s kind of embarrassing to have to log back into a meeting or call your manager back because of a dropped call. I know from experience… as I’m still working on cell phone service in my neighborhood!
Get a babysitter. Find someone you love and who loves your kids. I know some people hate the idea of a sitter but I personally really like the fact my kids are learning to play with others and listen to other adults. Plus, then they aren’t sitting in front of the tv or crying for your attention 20 hours a week.
Get dressed. Okay, I don’t always do this one. Seriously though, if you have a client call, a meeting, etc. just put on some normal pants, a little mascara, and lipstick.
Practice Professionalism. Just because you can see dried cheerios on the floor and your pump with milk bottles full is beside you doesn’t mean you are not a professional. Answer your phone, texts, emails, etc just as if you were interacting in the office. No matter where you are or what you are doing – do it for His glory. Your reputation matters.
Take breaks. Don’t feel guilty about them either. If you were in the office you would be chatting with people, going to lunch, going for coffee, smoke breaks, etc. Just know your companies guidelines on break allowances and give your honest day. It’s definitely a fact, that I work better and faster from home. You might be more distracted though, that’s where space and time are important – or just go to the office!
FaceTime. I actually don’t mean it the way its spelled. I mean, go see your co-workers, bosses, and clients if you are able. In the meantime, email them, text, call sometimes and not just to talk about work. That’s one of the cons about working from home if you are an extrovert.
Evaluate. Ask your boss to evaluate too. This should be a mutually beneficial relationship.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
Someday my littles wont be so little anymore. They wont need me as much as they do now. I will probably want the fancy project, higher salary, to get dressed in a cute outfit every day and do my hair and go see people! That’s not right now though.
Whether, I am able to do this another 6 months or another 3 years, I’ll be forever grateful for this time.
Has it really been 1/2 a year since you’ve entered our lives?!
This month was a little crazy.
You were still sweet as can be but…
You didn’t sleep as well as you had been and that made me a little nutty.
Then the last week of the month, you started crawling (kind of), eating solids, and sleeping in your crib.
They are all very welcome changes.
It feels a little freeing to me knowing I’m not the only thing that feeds you.
The crawling wears you out and helps you sleep better.
You are also a mover, a toucher, a kicker – you crazy girl. Your brother was so observant – you see something and go for it.
You prefer your crib to other spots to sleep.
Now that you can move, you are after your brother’s flashy toys. Sometimes he minds and grabs things from you but most of the time he loves to have you playing with him, watching him, and just being near you. If you sleep too long, he wants to wake you because he wants you around.
You two giggle at each other and it makes me soooo happy.
You are seriously the happiest and most delightful baby I’ve ever been around.
You blow spit bubbles and stick out your tongue like crazy! You don’t say anything yet but you are starting to make the “mmmm” sound so we work on mama a lot. I love when you scoot your little self over to me and then just wait for me to pick you up.
You can play nicely by yourself or with your brother for long periods of time but if you get stuck, bonk something, or get frustrated you get pretty dramatic. Now that you’re mobile I have to rescue you a lot.
You are such an undeserved blessing my little treasure and I thank God for getting to be your mama in this life.
This post has been swirling around in my head since January.
We’re home. The Lord had us waiting patiently (or maybe I wasn’t that patient but still) for a church home when we moved here and a year later I can confidently say we are home.
I haven’t been this excited about “church” in a long time.
It’s kind of a long story… before we moved here Lauren mentioned a guy at her church in Charlottesville was going to church plant in Frederick. Then Brodie and Jenn called and gave us their contact information. We met up with Bliss and Shelby on one of their visits to Frederick in April of 2014.
They seemed great, we loved the church’s vision, mission, our beliefs aligned but they said they weren’t launching until 2015… our excitement diminished because we didn’t want to wait that long for a church. Plus, I was pregnant… Could we really help church plant with a newborn?
So we didn’t commit. We looked around, tried other churches, even staying at one for a couple months but not feeling like it was “right”. The pastors there even prayed that the Lord would guide us and lead us to the right one.
It was a lonely year. We missed being in deep fellowship. We missed serving. We missed community. We did grow incredibly close to one another as a family though!
We stayed in contact with the Spillars and went to Redemption City Church’s first launch service (which happens to meet in our neighborhood).
I left there and I looked at Micah and said, yep – this is it. What do you think? We were on the same page (which… doesn’t always happen hehe)
It’s been four months and I can say wholeheartedly that I am confident in God’s leading for us to help with this church plant.
We love the people. We love the mission. We love Jesus.
Pray for our church as we seek to proclaim the gospel in Frederick!
Join us in our vision… our vision is to EXSIST as A CHURCH WHERE PEOPLE CAN ENCOUNTER JESUS AND BE TRANSFORMED BY HIS GOSPEL.