Living NOW

October has just blurred into the month of November. With birthday celebrations, Diamond in the Rough-Women’s Conference, my mom and sis in town, voluteering at our Church’s Halloween alternative called Kidz Block Party, my husband working 15 days straight from 2a.m to 8p.m., and now my poor little munchkin has been sick for five days…I’m just enjoying the ride, living each day in each moment.

Living in the present is a concept of which I am constantly reminding myself. Life is so much more fulfilling when I’m not “waiting” for what’s to come next.

Believe me, it is not easy to do when we’re paying off student loans, living with in-laws, and seeing each other in passing as we balance intentional family time with laundry, taking a shower, and sleep, eating, living.

Each of the events that has happened over the last month has left me just simply relishing them. Soaking every moment in. As I did my daily reading this morning, I was reminded again:

There are a lot of boasting people out there–they decide what they want and expect everything to run smoothly. That can be a trick of Satan. If he can get them to focus on tomorrow or next year, they don’t have to deal with the problems in their lives right now. They can live in a world of only good things that will take place in the future. Isn’t that like driving a car down the highway and ignoring what’s right in front of us because we’re focused on the traffic signal five blocks ahead? We’re setting ourselves up for a wreck.

Jesus promised us a life of abundance (see John 10:10). But we can’t enter into that abundance if we’re not giving our lives fully to Him. Don’t spend today planning tomorrow and avoiding the issues that confront you now.
-From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

1103, 1104, 1105, 1107, 1108… “Where’s 1106?” I holler around the corner to my mom and bellman. My best friend sis and I are so confused as our room number is missing. The bellman says, “follow me over here.” We walk down the hall and around the corner, into our Presidential Suite!!!!

No wonder our room didn’t fit in that hallway, it took up the whole corner of the building.

As we walked in to our room at 11:30pm we quickly realized action needed to take place promptly in order to enjoy this room we only had for one night. I put my munchkin to sleep, started a bubble bath, and when I was done the three o is enjoyed a glass of wine by the fireplace with Chinese take-out. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday evening.

I know these photos are long overdue, but here’s a few that we’re taken my birthday weekend. Sorry there aren’t more. We were just having way too much fun!

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Until my munchkin’s next nap time: Happy Thursday! Know that today you are blessed! Today, Thursday, November 7, 2013 is half-way over, smile and think: what are you going to do to make the best with the rest?

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Control Freaks Anonymous

Hi, my name is Danielle! “hi, Danielle!” and I’ve been a Control Freak for 27 years.

Yes, thats right. I celebrate my 27th birthday this weekend, and given my 10 month old’s ability to assert his will, I know I blessed my Mom with this control issue from birth. Thanks for putting up with me, Mom.

Have you ever found yourself so frustrated at someone, and as you thought about the details you got more and more frustrated realizing the person has done nothing wrong, and you’re just a control freak?!?!

Okay, maybe it’s just me…maybe not.

There’s something about leaving my munchkin in someone else’s hands that makes me feel like I’m the only one who knows what he needs during the day.

This is ridiculous!! When I’m gone he’s with one of three people: his Dad, his Grandma (mil), or a close family friend from church. Each of whom he adores! My issue has nothing to do with competence, it’s simply, I’m Mom and “Momma knows best!” Right?

I swear to everyone that my munchkin is not on a set “schedule”, “I let him tell me what he needs.” Yet I find myself writing minute details, down to activity suggestions for specific times during the day, that I pray will be followed. I’ll come home and want a play-by-play, and as I listen, secretly I’m stirring inside wishing I could’ve done the day differently. Wondering how the rest of the evening will play out since I wasn’t here with him.

I know that every day is a new day with him. Every day does change. When it’s just the two of us, I do follow his lead and don’t force time constraints on him. However, I know consistency is crucial for babies, so I try to keep certain things routine like story time, walks, errands or park days, bath time, etc.

I’m embarrassed even as I write these sad facts. Please Moms out there, tell me I’m not the only one!

As I drove to work, I pondered who I could call and vent my frustration without sounding like an idiot. Then I realized I hadn’t done my daily reading. I open up my app at a stoplight, and read the following from She Reads Truth- Daniel (my son’s name…ironic?) By: You Version:

“What am I clenching in my fist that I refuse to see as His [God’s]? What is it that I long so desperately to build, to control, to call MINE?

Epiphany: Gasp!! My child!

Can this really be? Am I that much of a control freak that I’m not trusting God with His very own creation. My Baby, My munchkin, My miracle. I feel so foolish. Yet just as I’m about to beat myself up, I remember Grace.

I realize that just as I have to guide and redirect my munchkin’s steps to protect him, God does the same with me. When is it that we assume our learning is over? No matter how old, Daniel will always be my baby; I will always be God’s child.

I am on a journey and need to let go! I am not in control. You’d think I’d know this after being “redirected” as much as I have been in my life.

As hard as this lesson has been, and as much as I’m still frustrated over Daniel not eating as much as I feed him, I need to get over it! Or GOI (pronounced \’gōi\ or goy) as my husband and I say frequently with sarcasm (I think it sounds nicer, thank you very much). Oh…my..gosh I really do have an issue, don’t I? Now is when I just need to laugh.

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap: thanks for letting me share my heart with you! I hope my tough life lessons or “redirections” will help you find peace or guidance in your circumstances, even if it is just to laugh at my ridiculousness.

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On a side note, my mom and best friend, who I call my sister, are coming to celebrate with me this weekend. Keep an eye out for fun stories and pictures from our girl’s weekend.

Two Words Doctor’s (& Insurance companies) Hate: Juicing & Miracles Part 4

Today at my Women’s Bible study I realized that I need to stop wasting my energy trying to control people and my circumstances, and redirect that energy into controlling my negative thinking.

Thank God for His gentle reminders! Now if only doctors and insurance companies operated in that same faith. I wrote previously about how God’s healed me, and ever since I’ve been in a battle trying to prove to these companies that I no longer should have these diagnoses in my medical records.

My husband and I are trying to be responsible parents and set up life insurance for our son, and apparently his very life isn’t proof to them that I don’t have these issues anymore.

I had a colonoscopy done again because of unpleasant side effects of child bearing and the results even showed there was no sign of the previously diagnosed Colitis, yet they won’t take it off my records.

Side note: I scheduled the colonoscopy before praying. Lesson learned. As soon as my friends and I prayed, the discomfort went away and hasn’t come back.

Now, I just found out, after such an encouraging morning at church, that I must prove the brain tumor isn’t there anymore. On my own dime, which is over $5000 for just an MRI by the way, I must get labs, an MRI and visual tests to show evidence it’s “under control.”

Although by nature I am extremely irritated about this delay, after such an incredible morning, I just keep telling myself that it’s not in my control.
This is when I need to pray and know that God is in control. I’m praying that insurance will take care of the expenses and that this “proof” will be used to show someone God’s amazing love and power over circumstances that seem impossible.

Like I was reminded this morning, God has a plan and a purpose for my life. It’s one more opportunity to surrender, let go, and let God!

Until my munchkin’s next nap, I hope my lesson of the day finds you encouraged in whatever circumstances you’re facing. Just remember, our thoughts about ourself and what’s happening around us have the power to either bring destruction or bring life and healing to the situation. I choose the latter. Be blessed today!

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Living on Purpose

My munchkin is 9 months old today! Nine months on 9/11/13.

Last night was one of those sleepless nights that mom’s often have with their babies. One of those nights where we woke up every two hours from either teething pains, a bad dream, or hunger. One of those nights where the only person who could soothe those pains and fears is, “MaMaMaMaMaMa!” Yes, that’s my name!

As I collapsed into bed each time, after being startled awake and comforting my munchkin for 20-40 minute sessions , I prayed I would fall back asleep quickly to savor the few minutes of shut-eye I hoped for.

Along with not sleeping much through the night, we were wide awake two hours earlier than normal.

As I peeled myself out of bed I realized a very important detail about today: My munchkin is 9 months old on 9/11.

Like most people in The United States of America, I know exactly where I was, what I was doing, and every specific detail of that day.

You might be thinking, “How do these two topics share any relevance to each other?” Let me tell you…

My son is growing faster than I can blink my eyes. As hard as it was to wake up this morning I couldn’t help but think of those precious moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandmas, grandpas, aunties and uncles and cousins that were on those planes that early morning twelve years ago.

Who did they rock to sleep the night before? Who did they kiss goodbye before walking out the door? Did they wake up exhausted, in distain, from no sleep? Did they say words or think thoughts they wished they could take back had they known how the next few hours would play out? Did they whisper softly in someone’s ear, “Goodbye, I love you!” like my husband did before leaving for work this morning?

I’ve always tried to live each day with a purpose, but today more than ever I’m reminded to take my thoughts captive. I’m reminded to smile, stretch, get up, have a good attitude, enjoy each moment, love, say, “I love you!” Because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I’m not fearful because I’m confident in where I will be for eternity. However, if today is my last, I want everyone in my life to know how much they mean to me. I want to enjoy my son each milestone of his journey. When I’m gone I want my friends and family to know that I lived each day learning from my past, preparing for the future, and relishing the present!

My heart and prayers go out to all who loved and lost victims of 9/11.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: enjoy each moment, be careful what thoughts you entertain and what words you speak. Live with love. Live with purpose. Love on purpose. As always, don’t forget to smile, you might just make someone’s day; what if its their last?

I love this picture! Here’s me being present with my gift present🙂

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Dichotomy: Mommy vs. Work

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Being one of the oldest grandchildren I remember watching very carefully as my aunts and uncles raised my cousins, always excited when I could step in and help. My sister, being the oldest, was always recognized as the nurturer and “natural mother”, which she is, but I would watch from a distance with much anticipation of one day having my own children.

I was helping my sister babysit when we were just 8 and 10, which is unheard of these days, and by 12 I babysat our neighbors kids on a regular basis.

When I got to college, I immediately met a family with two kids, who quickly became my second family, that I babysat once or twice a week as a side job. Diapers never bothered me, tantrums were just a normal part of learning, and the messes were cleaned after the kids were bathed and tucked in bed with time to spare before the parents would come home from their date night to a spotless house and sleeping children.

Then there came the first few years of marriage where everyone around us was having children, but we just weren’t ready yet. We knew we wanted at least a couple years to transition into our incredible life together before adding to our family. I loved being around these young families. Even though they constantly reminded me how I would “never understand until I was a mom,” I still immersed myself in their environment. I’m learning to roll those types of comments off my back, but at the time I swore I knew what motherhood was all about!! They just didn’t know how much experience I had with kids.

Now I know what they meant. These comments weren’t made to be rude, even if my insecurities interpreted them that way, they were just matter-of-fact. There is something about being a mom that is absolutely undefinable until you actually experience it. There is an unexplainable love and calling on our lives as women that cannot fully be grasped or understood until becoming a mom.

Along with playing with dolls and practicing being a mommy, I always turned my desk into a bank, grocery store, or local business. I longed to own my own business one day. It is such a crazy dichotomy, this world we live in. We have come so far in women’s rights and equality in the workplace, and yet that tug on our heart strings yearns for a family.

I have always thought it was possible to be a working mom. My mom stayed at home until we were in elementary school when she returned to working full time. In my mind, that seemed ideal: I would get to be home during the crucial developmental stages and when my kids were gone part of the day at school, I’d be gone to work and be off in time to pick them up or meet them at home. Is this picture even possible anymore? It’s a nice thought, but with the amount of competition that exists in the work force, you’re always replaceable. What boss is going to let you tailor your schedule to meet your family’s needs, when you could either stick your kids in daycare or there is someone else that will willingly take your place?

As I neared the end of finishing my business degree, with this cutthroat corporate chain reality, the idea of being a salon professional became more appealing. I could build my business, make my own schedule, while still being a mom when the time came, and when the kids got older I could eventually open my own salon. This is now my reality. The ironic thing is there still seems to be a level of exhaustion and stress from dividing my time. I understand my situation is more ideal than most, but the reality is that until my son came in to the world I never would have imagined how difficult it would be to leave him every time I go to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I love the relationships I have with my salon guests, but my heart now understands why I was called to be the nurturer of this precious little life; what a huge responsibility, what an honor!

I am a part of this incredible group of moms and we’re reading The Mission of Motherhood. This book lays out what the role of a mother was designed to look like. It gets my gut wrenching every time I pick it up. It’s the weirdest sensation. There’s this inner turmoil where part of me wants to throw the book down and stop reading because it seems so “traditional” and old-school, just not the way things can be nowadays. Then there’s this other part of me that can’t put it down because I so badly want to provide this amazing, loving, nurturing, supportive environment for my son’s soul. Although the author repeatedly suggests she supports the idea of working moms, it creates a separation anxiety between my two worlds. What I realized today when reading, in order to have peace in this division, I must rest in each role; I must completely give up myself despite society’s push toward pampering and independence. Rather than thinking I need or deserve my own time, rather than wishing my son would fall asleep “on schedule” so I could get some sleep or get something done, I am deciding to let go.

I am deciding to enjoy each moment with him even more than I did before. I am deciding to think ahead of the day what we will do while he’s awake to teach him, stimulate his creativity, and develop his senses. I am deciding to savor every moment, even the screaming, flailing-arms-and-legs-teething moments, as my opportunity to comfort him and soothe his mind, body, and tender unadulterated spirit. I am Mommy for a reason. Even though society tells me to use a “learning” program as the best babysitter, I will teach him these crucial lessons not the television.

All these ideas were what I knew in my heart I wanted to do when we chose to start our family, but in the midst of a chaotic world of running around trying to balance everything, I was beginning to to settle into the “exhausted mom” category, thinking I deserve a break or a day to relax. It’s amazing what a simple shift of perspective does to the soul! Back on track with this renewed mind, I have had the most rewarding day so far. I was actually a little sad when it was nap time because I was having so much fun with my munchkin. We’ve never had sleep issues, but the past few weeks have been a huge struggle putting my 7 month old down for naps. I was just trying and trying, and he was fighting and fighting. Today I hardly had to do anything and he was out! Hhmmm? Could it be because I put my distractions away, was more present and intentional with my time, and therefore wasn’t passing on my anxious tension? Just a thought. We’ll see how everything goes tomorrow.

We’ll, until my munchkin’s next nap time I hope this encourages you to find your purpose and be intentional with your day. Even if you don’t have kids, be intentional with your relationships. I couldn’t get through life without my friends. I appreciate each one for her unique personality, wisdom, and sense of humor.

P.S. If you want kids one day, evaluate these ideas before you get started, it’ll save you some stress when the time comes. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when there’s a plan; it’s amazing how flexible you can be with your time! Don’t forget to smile!

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Paradigms- Perspective changes

My world is being bombarded with perspective. Do you ever find yourself blasted with new realities? It must be time for a paradigm shift:
It was dark, cold and rainy this morning, the perfect morning to stay bundled in my down comforter. Ha! Ya right! I can’t remember the last time that was my reality. Of course, this drizzly gloomy morning was my baby’s dreaded 4 month immunization appointment! To make matters worse I had to wake him from his peaceful sleep to be there on time. Any mom knows, You DON’T wake a sleeping baby!!! There I was exhausted, my mood about as happy as the weather, [salivating over just the thought of a rich espresso roast coffee to drag this booty out of bed] and I quietly lean over his crib to disturb his peaceful sleep…dreading a shrieking scream…who am I kidding?… my munchkin rolls over with the biggest grin on his precious little face. Now that’s how I want to wake up in the morning: with pure joy and not a fear or care in the world!!!
-Perspective-

Off we go, I load him in his “race car seat” and he’s happy as a clam. Of course, he doesn’t know he’s about to get poked and prodded, but nonetheless he has the biggest smile on his face. Even as I unwrap him from his cozy blanket to strip him down and lay him on the cold, crinkled paper, he starts rolling around and playing. After getting his shots he cried a little, ate, and went back into play mode, and minutes later passed out on the drive home. This kid is teaching me so much about my attitude.
-Perspective-

About 30 minutes into his nap I decide to move myself to the other side of the house to watch a little tv. I turn on my video monitor to watch him sleep and there-is-no-baby-in-the-crib!!!! Oh my gosh! My heart skips a beat and body jumps up! Where’s my baby? He’s not even crawling yet, how’d he get out?

I look back at the monitor as I get ready to run to his room, and he’s right where I left him, passed out. What?!? I’m confused! Apparently my monitor froze on the last captured image before I shut it off this morning, which was of course…an empty crib. It was literally TWO seconds before correcting itself, and I had already worked myself into panic rescue mode. This is when I realized so much of my life operates this way. Situation>Emotion>Reaction>Reality.
[clearing lump in throat] -Perspective-

How often to you see a situation, draw all sorts of opinions and conclusions, some may not be a big deal, some may be life altering, and then one circumstance or glimpse of a different reality opens your eyes to a new perspective?

Before becoming a mom I had all sorts of opinions about parenting. Would i use meds during labor? Never! Should my baby be on a schedule? Of course not! Would I get my baby immunized? Obviously! What types of foods would I first introduce? Only veggies! I would never use those stupid monkey backpacks as a leash! I would never bribe my child to eat with desserts! And the list goes on. (Maybe we’ll revisit these topics and i’ll share what i’ve learned.)

I’m realizing that there is not one way. There is certainly no right way. There are certainly ways that are better than others. For instance, my child is not going to live on donuts and fried chicken (I might as well let him run into the middle of a busy intersection). Some of those opinions above haven’t changed like leashes…I still can’t figure them out; however, my child also isn’t walking yet. Like every child is different, every parenting decision must be different. I may still feel very convicted and confident about the choices I make for my son, but that, by no stretch of the imagination, means every other parent needs to make the same choices or that mine are even the right ones. I’m learning very quickly that everyone has an opinion on what I should do, even those who don’t have kids [that was me ] just as quickly as I’m learning humility. I’m learning that the best parents are the ones with questions not a laundry list of answers. I’m learning that the only way to make it through a sleepless day is by cherishing every minute, because as soon a I look at a clock I think I’m going insane. I’m learning to laugh with my son. I’m learning from my son. Because one thing is for certain: anyone who can be woken from a dead sleep and start the day with a smile on his face is worth emulating!

Bottom line: smile, breathe, let go and let God, learn from yourself, learn from others, stop running on emotions, and face each day with a new perspective.

I hope this encourages you and brings a smile to your face. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can laugh at me. Well, until my little monster’s next nap…

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Present!

The funny thing about writing is that it must be inspired. My dilemma is that my little cutie pie is my inspiration. I hang out with my son and I get a sea of thoughts and ideas roaring around inside the walls of my brain.
Why is this whirlwind a dilemma? I get to my next point: in order to jot any of these thoughts down I’d have to sacrifice spending time with him and attach myself to the lifeless technology that we so obsess over these days. At a leadership conference I attended last year, the theme was “Be Present”. So often we try to “capture the moment with a photo instead of actually experiencing the moment.” This concept was so profound to me. You see, as I had just recently upgraded my cell phone to have text messaging [for business purposes, of course], I obviously was a cheerleader for this concept. Side note-don’t we do that so often? We hear this amazing idea and don’t realize that the reason its so “amazing” is because it fits so comfortably within the paradigm we are already living.
Now a year after the conference and only a month into being a proud iPhone owner, I face the realization of how easy it is to get distracted from what’s important. That concept that was so “life altering” now actually needs to be. It’s so easy for me to grab my phone for music, to learn developmental milestones, activity ideas, fill in the ______. What I should be doing is learning what my four month old needs by watching him, listening to him, holding him; not holding my phone as if it were a lifeline to ensure and secure my child’s bright future.
Let me encourage you, like a friend did for me last week. Moms, give yourselves a break. Cut yourself some slack. Take an ounce of grace. We all have these realizations that will make us feel like terrible moms, but that’s what makes us incredible moms. We love our little ones more than words can explain. It’s a love that only a mother truly knows and understands.
Take these epiphanies, embrace them and then learn from them, but don’t let them be the next thing you harbor that will distract you from that smile or giggle that will warm your heart and make all the problems of the world go away.
The attached picture of my adorable son is right before he started crying, and there was my moment of realization : “Danielle! Put your phone down and hold your son! He doesn’t want his ‘pic’ taken, he wants to be with Mommy!”
Well, until my munchkin’s next nap-time, like my mom always reminds me, Make-it-a-great-day!!!!

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