Pregnancy has undoubtedly been my single favorite life stage so far.  It is just my jam.  I’ve been trying to talk Timothy into getting all Duggar-fied up in the Gothra house, but so far I’ve only gotten him to raise our previously agreed upon offspring number by 1 or 2.  We shall see, Gothra, we shall see.

I know when the baby gets here that life will change COMPLETELY.  And even if I didn’t somehow know that super obvious fact, I’d have all the “just you wait until…” people that surround a pregnant woman to let me know.  Life will change.  Got it.  But before that change, I wanted to make sure I remember some aspects of pregnancy and life as we currently know it.

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on nesting

No one ever told me that nesting is like this burning desire within you. For me, it was/is an even more powerful urge than any food craving I’ve had.  We’ve been painting the nursery and it has killed me, KILLED ME, to have to let others do the work.  I didn’t want to subject my baby to those fumes and I didn’t want to pay all the extra $$$ for no VOC paint, so I just twiddled my thumbs and set up other little projects I could work on in the meantime.  Like assembling the crib.  My husband was not very happy with me when he came home to an assembled crib, but I couldn’t help it.  I was dying!!!

Thankfully, by some miracle on high, when we went to get another can of wall paint, we discovered our paint was already no VOC and the amount of color added to it was so small that it was still perfectly safe.  So I’ve been one happy mama as I’ve sloooooowly crawled around the room with my back pain and cut in all the paint corners when no one else was around, and when it became too much I would take a break and work on her quilt.  Nesting is weird.  And fabulous.

 

on identifying body parts

My little girl loves the breech position.  Sometimes during the day she’ll flip into the transverse position, but when night comes she’s all about her favorite comfy spot.  One evening I was sitting upright on the bed talking to Timothy.  I felt something shift and placed my hand on my belly to feel an ENTIRE BABY HEAD just sticking out of the top of my belly.  I told Timothy to scooch over and feel her head and he was all “yeah right.”  Then when his hand cupped a little baby head I thought he was going to die.  It was amazing.  And the only time (so far) I’ve ever been a bit creeped out by the thought of an entire tiny human inside me moving independently at will.

 

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on finding the name

When I wrote the name post, I had a name in my heart already that I loved.  In fact, it was the name that we had started calling her privately just to see how it felt.  After a few days of trying it out, I told Timothy that we either needed to find a new name to start calling her or we needed to end the game quickly, because I was getting attached.  We spent an entire day going over our list, re-reading name lists online, racking our brains.  Other names that we thought we had liked just couldn’t quite make the cut.  Finally, right before church, we were sitting in our office and he turned to me and said “I just can’t imagine her being named anything else but _____!”  And then I started sobbing.  Ahh, one of my favorite moments so far.

 

 

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on becoming a daddy

There’s just something about this man that I married.  He was born to be a daddy.  He has his own pregnancy app and regularly gives me updates on what the baby is developing this week or what symptoms I might begin to feel that week.  He has never been around pregnancy or babies, and to watch him dive into the research and learning just turns me in to mush.  He works long hours and then comes straight home and asks what he can do to help with the nursery.  He even painted all of the hideous trim in her room without complaint.  We recently bought our first book for the baby and it’s all about animals and animal parents giving their babies kisses.  He shows everyone who comes to our house and has even started working on his sound effects.  And don’t even get me started on his sweetness when it comes to my mood swings.  Someone just give him a halo already.

 

on insomnia and amnesia

Starting around week 29, I began waking up every single night and struggling to fall back asleep.  I thought it was just a phase, but apparently it’s just the way of things.  I’ve actually started dreading going to sleep and dream about ways I could sleep standing up.  See, there are a few things conspiring against me.  1) My back aches all the time and the only semi-comfortable position is to lie on my side.  2) I have acid reflux and if I don’t lay down with my head propped up pretty high, I wake up gagging.  (Attractive, I know.)  3) My feet have started to swell, and my doctor told me to prop them up at night so that they are higher than my heart.  4) Because of my back, once I lay down I can barely move because laying down is the WORST.  So the 45 nightly bathroom trips make this problem fun.  So, if someone could invent a bed that allowed me to lay on my side while simultaneously propping my head up high and feet up higher, without letting my hip touch the mattress, I’d be all over that Kickstarter.

But, when morning comes, I forget all this and go back to my Duggar dreams of gobs of children.

 

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on decorum

I have heard that once you’re in labor, all sense of modesty flies out the window.  What I haven’t heard is that you lose your sense of decorum well into your pregnancy.  Pregnancy does weird things to your body, y’all.  And I’ve called my doctor to ask questions that involve words I never thought I’d say aloud.  I catch myself rubbing my belly like a lunatic in public.  I heave and grunt and make all kinds of attractive sounds as I try to move about.  And … most shockingly … I’ve started SNORING.  And I’m not even ashamed?!  After nearly 5.5 years of marriage, I still turn on the faucet when I use the restroom, and never let Timothy see me doing any type of weird body function.  You know, so the spark stays alive and all that jazz.  Well, apparently pregnancy makes  the spark irrelevant because we talk about my snoring all the time.  It’s bad, guys.  Pretty bad.

 

There are so many big and little things I hope to always remember about this season in life.  All the kicks and rolls and jabs. Running into things with my belly because there’s no way I’m actually this huge.  Going to classes at the hospital.  Video after video on my phone of belly shots, trying to capture her little movements.  Drinking enough water to quench the thirst of a small city, and being told to still drink more.  Dreaming about what she’ll look like and her little personality.  Knitting little animals that someday she’ll hold and get all slobbery.  I tell ya, it’s hard to imagine it getting better than this.

On April 10, 2015 · Leave a Comment · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING WHITNEY | The Terrible Good

I’m in my office at the church, making sure everything is lined up in the music department for our special Resurrection Sunday services this weekend.  My heart speeds up with the anticipation.  New songs, a prayed over worship set, an expected crowd.  I can smell the Easter lilies in the sanctuary a few steps away.  I send out texts to our worship team.  I refill offering envelopes and announcement cards.

But something’s different this year.

Today is the Friday before Resurrection Sunday.  For me, it has always felt kind of … I don’t even know … wrong, maybe, to call it Good Friday.  The day that Jesus was crucified was anything but good. Even the earth itself mourned in earthquakes and rocks split into two on that day.  (Matthew 27:51)  Death by crucifixion is sheer horrific agony.  I know that what Jesus accomplished by allowing Himself to be crucified is the epitome of good.  He saved the world!  But when I think of that day, good just doesn’t come to mind.  That day is so heavy, so somber.  The weight of it is too much for me to comprehend.   I can’t begin to understand that kind of love. My mind can’t wrap itself around that kind of sacrifice.  To be honest, I’d like to just skip right over the Terrible Friday, and celebrate on Sunday.  The miracle of His resurrection and the sheer hope of the day is much easier for my heart to grasp and focus on.

But this year, Terrible Good Friday has burrowed into my heart.  I keep trying to think of the beauty that resulted from that act. I try to envision the stone being rolled away. I try to make my mind skip ahead and start celebrating that glorious Sunday.  But I can’t.  I’ve felt peculiar all day.  It’s some kind of combination of heaviness and awe.

And I know it’s because of these two little feet that have been kicking me in the hip all day.  Two little hands that keep stretching out and apparently hugging my lungs.  A new life, a tiny baby, being formed inside me.

When Jesus was hanging on that cross, He already knew about this tiny life.  With every excruciating gasp for air, every heartbeat that rung in His ears, every drop of blood from His thorny crown, His pierced hands, His pierced feet, He was thinking of my baby.  He could see the plans He had for her entire life.  And He knew it was worth it.   

 

As cliche as it may sound, I already feel a love for my baby unlike any I’ve ever known.  Maternal love is altogether different than any love I’ve felt before.  I would do anything for my family, for my husband.  I love love.  If I love, I’m all in.  But this baby is different.  I’ve willingly given my body over to become this unfamiliar version of myself.  My body is stretching, aching, growing, gaining new scars (oh, hooray!), straining to catch its breath, dropping from exhaustion way before my mind is ready to quit.  It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of being “all in” in a love relationship.

And I’m beginning to grasp that fierce mama bear love thing that is birthed right along with the baby.  It’s like my love has amped up a bit.  My heart has found a new way to love that I have never experienced before.

We recently had a friend ask us if we were nervous/afraid to raise a child in this current culture and world.  Timothy and I have talked about how the world will be different for our little girl than it was and is for us.  What seems shocking to us today will be her normal.  Agendas are being pushed everywhere you look.  People are picking and choosing when to get outraged, while the world is covered in causes to be outraged about.  It’s perfectly fine to abort a baby, but if the mom takes drugs while pregnant then she can be sent to jail. Indiana chooses to pass a “Religious Freedom” act and a crazy amount of companies, businesses, and even city and state governments choose to boycott the entire state, yet nineteen other states have already passed the law and no one has even said a word.  This world doesn’t make sense.

 

But when asked if we were afraid to raise a child in this crazy, messed up place?  We could only reply no.

Because there was a Terrible Good Friday.  There was a dark day when hell looked as if it had won, the ground shook, and life changed forever.  It was the day humanity was presented with the ultimate sacrifice.  It was the day Jesus took His last breath and thought of my daughter.  When He thought of me.  When He thought of you.  When He gave Himself as the perfect lamb and took away the punishment for all of our sins.  When He took back the keys of hell, and conquered forever the power of the grave.  When He made a way for us to be saved.

How can I be afraid of my daughter being surrounded by an unknown and increasingly evil world, when Jesus has already conquered it all?  See, that Terrible Good Friday didn’t just insure us a way to salvation,  it gave us a reference point for our perpetual and unexplainable hope.  This hope, this peace, was birthed on a day full of sheer evil.  On a day that the earth shook in mourning.  But this day is the reason I can feel my little baby’s kicks and be filled with a peace.  This day is the reason that I am unafraid for her to enter this world.

It’s much easier and pleasant for me to focus on the rejoicing and beautiful parts of this weekend.  But today, I’m embracing the heavy.  The incomprehensible.  The terrible good.  The day that Jesus looked at the sum of humanity and decided to give us His all.  The day He paved the way for me to be able to raise my child without fear.  The day He changed everything.  That Terrible Good Friday.

On April 3, 2015 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING WHITNEY | Survival Tips for the First Trimester

So, take a quick hop over to Pinterest and you can see all kinds of these blog posts circling around.  Top Ten Must Haves for the First Trimester.  How to Rock Out the First Trimester.  What I Wish I Knew Before My First Trimester.  How Not to Actually Punch Random People and Then Cry at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in the Mall During Your First Trimester.  You know.  Same ol’, same ol’.

But when I was in the midst of first trimester pregnancy loveliness, I devoured those posts.  And for posterity’s sake, in honor of surviving my very first first trimester, and because bloggers are gonna blog, I’m here today.  With another one of those posts.

First of all, if this is your first time being pregnant, congratulations.  You have officially entered the club.  Oh, you didn’t know there was a club?  Neither did I.  Your fellow club members are your mother, your mom friends, your mom coworkers, your mom neighbor down the street, and any woman who has ever experienced gestation that just so happens to pass by.  They’re all club members.  And they suddenly love you.  It’s awesome.

People that you’ve never been able to carry on a five minute conversation with before suddenly open up, and you realize that you’ve been discussing things like Saltine consumption and dilation for the past thirty minutes with a woman who was practically a stranger last week.

But moving on.  To the tips and such.

 

  • When someone asks how you’re feeling, you have two and only two options for answering, based on the person asking the question.

If said person is a member of the club, tell them straight up what’s going on.  I didn’t know this was a rule, and I would always say how great I was.  Because that’s what I always say.  Well, not so when you’re in the club.  If you say you’re great, then expect the mom asking the question to come back with something along the lines of Oh, honey, you are just so lucky.  When I was at that stage just one whiff of carrots would send me heaving.  I was miserable.  You’re so blessed that you aren’t getting sick.   And there’s nothing a nauseous first trimester dweller, wallowing in the pits of despair and sickness, wants to hear less than how much worse someone else had it.  You have to come back with Oh, I was lying.  I’m actually miserable.  And then it just gets awkward.

Club members want to know how you’re feeling.  They want to know if the acceleration and deceleration of your husband’s driving is making you as nauseous as their husband’s did.  They care.  If you say you’re great, they automatically assume you’re the unicorn with no sickness.

That is option one.  Option two is for most members of the male species, and certain club members.  Aside from your husband and maybe close family members, most men are not super interested in hearing the ins and outs of your unglamorous symptoms.  And certain club members aren’t interested either.  They are either just trying to be polite or they’re trying to find a way to bring up their experiences and could care less about yours.  To both of these types of people some vague answer always worked best for me.

 

BECOMING WHITNEY | Survival Tips for the First Trimester

  • Ice water, lemon water, more water.  Or ginger candies, Saltines, cheese roll-ups from Taco Bell, soft peppermints, etc.

Everyone and her mother had something in her pregnancy that helped her get through those nauseous weeks.  For me, drinking tons of extremely cold water, eating cheese roll-ups, and always having some crackers in my purse helped.  I can’t tell you what yours will be.  Ask a club member for what hers was and try it.  Search Google for tips and try those.  Even if you spend your entire first trimester trying to find something that makes you feel less like a wad of unpleasantness, your efforts will not be in vain.  One day you WILL eat something that feels like heaven and you will see the light again.

 

  • Download some good pregnancy apps.

I thought that once I got pregnant I would feel pregnant.  Like it would be a completely different set of physical and emotional things going on that I had never experienced before.  Well, not so for me.  Now, at 25 weeks, I definitely feel pregnant. But in the first trimester, I just felt nauseous, bloated, tired, out of breath, and sometimes a little (lot) emotional.  While I was excited beyond belief, I didn’t feel so glamorous or glowy or motherly or pregnant.  Having some pregnancy apps really helped during that time.  They can tell you at each week what your growing baby is working on, what parts are developing, and how big (little) she is.  They can also give you a heads up on common symptoms, so you’re not caught off guard when you suddenly can’t breathe anymore or you have rapidly turned into an insomniac.

Focusing on each stage of your developing baby really helps remind you what all this is for, and helps you bond in those early weeks before you have a belly to rub or feel little kicks.

 

  • Give yourself grace.

I wanted to say lower your expectations, but giving yourself grace sounds a little more positive.  Your body is busy growing an entire HUMAN.  All your energy is being zapped into a tiny mass of cells being knit into a baby.  If you can’t stay on top of laundry or house cleaning or combing your hair, relax.  (Well, please comb your hair.  Then relax.)  This is a stage of life that won’t last forever.  I felt like a bad wife for some of the first weeks into my first trimester sickness.  Then my husband helped me see that it didn’t matter if we had biscuits and gravy for the fifteenth time that week or if I didn’t do my usual around the house.  I was working on growing into a mom and that took precedence.

Also, give yourself grace when looking at Pinterest.  Pre-pregnancy I had this whole thing worked out about where I would take my weekly pregnancy photos, complete with cute blog posts each week about the whole experience.  Then I got pregnant and realized WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS GIVE ME FIVE BILLION PILLOWS, SOME PICKLES, AND LEAVE ME ALONE.

 

My first trimester wasn’t always a piece of cake.  I cried about not knowing what food sounded good.  I became so skilled at throwing up that I could throw up in an empty cup while driving when there was no spot to pull the car over.  I read too many internet articles about everything that could go wrong in the first trimester.  I had symptoms that I didn’t even know could come with pregnancy like a tongue that felt perpetually burned.  But I have to be honest, I enjoyed every minute of it. While I was desperately looking forward to the oh-so-glorious second trimester, I never wished the time away.  It’s all part of the process, and what a beautiful, crazy, scary, amazing process it is.

So, to any club members out there, what are some of your first trimester tips?  And to any first trimester dwellers out there, feel free to use this post as a venting zone.  Tell us all about the time you cried at Auntie Anne’s in the middle of the mall.  We won’t judge. ;)

On February 25, 2015 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING | Knitting With God

Oh, you know, just God and I over here doing one of our favorite hobbies.

For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

I love that God chose the verb “knit” in describing the creation and formation of  life.  He could have used tons of other verbs.  You formed me. You molded me. You developed me. You created me. You designed, planned, configured, constructed, composed me.

But nope.  He chose knit.

I’ve always thought the idea of God knitting us together was a lovely one, especially once I started knitting.  But now that I’m a mother and am actually the one carrying this miracle currently being knit together?  Yowza.  This verse just blows my mind.  All of a sudden this concept becomes too fantastic for me.  Too precious, too awe-inspiring, to wrap my brain around.

 

For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Psalm 139:13-17 (NIV)

As a knitter, the thought of God lovingly knitting my little baby together is beautiful to me.  See, knitting isn’t really something that you can just make up as you go along.  It requires intention. In painting, you can literally throw paint at the canvas and call it modern art.  In some keys while playing the piano, you can practically hit any black key willy nilly and it will sound like you are doing some cool run.  Even a lumpy bowl made by an inexperienced potter can still hold water.  But knitting just won’t work if you don’t know how to do the stitches correctly.  An incorrect stitch will stick out like a sore thumb to a knitter.

Knitting is precise.  If you want a cabled sweater to fit, you need to use the right yarn type and needle size.  Then you’ll need to knit a gauge – a little square that will tell you how many stitches to the inch you knit.  If your gauge doesn’t match up with the pattern writer’s gauge, then you have to fiddle around with your yarn weight and your needle size until you can get the right match.  Then, you have to knit the whole thing consistently.  If you knit one arm while you’re stressed and you pull each stitch super tightly and yet you knit the other arm while you’re lazily watching a movie and your stitches are super droopy, the arms will not fit the same.  And you can’t close your eyes when you’re working the cables.  You have to keep focused on the stitches to make sure they turn out correctly.

Knitting never has been and never will be considered a speed sport.  It takes time, intention, planning, and patience.  

While I imagine what the finished product will look like and hope that I don’t have to reknit any mistakes, He was thinking about my baby girl before she was even conceived.  As I pick out the right yarns and needles and cast on to knit my baby girl a little hat, I can just imagine God gathering His wisdom and power and forming her in my womb.  As I lovingly knit each stitch into a hat, He is intentionally and consistently molding skin and bone into the perfect shape of a baby.  It is a slow, purposeful process.  And I think He enjoys the knitting as much as I do.

While I’m envisioning her baby pictures in this little hat with bunny ears, He’s envisioning her as a young child, a teenager, an adult, changing her world.  While I know what my hat will look like when I’m finished because I’ve seen the pictures from the pattern designer, He knows what my daughter will be doing in ten and twenty years, because those days are already written in His book.  While I’m cherishing the process of creating something for this little human I already love fiercely, He’s cherishing the process of dreaming her up, forming her, and then watching as she carries out His precious thoughts and plans for her life.

He saw her before He created her.  He destined her to be exactly who she will be.  He has already ordained how many days on this earth she will have.  His thoughts toward her are already so much more than I could ever dream for her life.

And to think that God saw, knew, dreamed, and planned all of this before this baby girl was even conceived?  To think that she was and is this loved beyond belief before the first beat of her heart?

God chose the process of knitting to describe the formation of life.  An intentional, exact craft.  His Hands would have to touch each stitch, each part of her life, as He knit her together.  His dreams are invested.  His love is invested.  His time, wisdom, and power are all evidenced in the creation of this little life.

I’m so enjoying knitting along with Him.

On February 21, 2015 · 6 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

Photo Feb 09, 4 56 56 PM

*This post brought to you today by an Oreo dipped in Nutella.  Let’s all just have one and be happy.  Ha!*

Today I came home from a stressful day at work, grabbed a frozen Snickers bar, and hopped on to check Facebook on my iPad and relax.  I saw the same video being shared by several of my Facebook friends, complete with lots of comments.  Aha.  The newest controversy.

I watched the video, read the comments, and ugh.  That’s the only way I can explain it.  Just the whole situation.  Ugh.

In case you have no idea what this is all about, let me set the stage.  Royal Tailor is a very popular Christian band.  They formed into a group at an Apostolic Pentecostal** Bible college, and started off singing at these church events.  They quickly grew and are now touring like crazy and are on the radio with several top hits.

The sad thing is that Royal Tailor has been a source of debate for the past several years.  It started when they began covering secular artists’ songs and creating music videos that stretched the standards of most Apostolics’ values and beliefs.   The controversial, if you will, video being spread around is a clip from an interview at the Grammy’s where Royal Tailor mentions their desire to learn from Kanye West, an artist who lately has been calling himself “Yeezus” as a comparison to Jesus Christ.

And in a few short hours, my Facebook has blown up.  We are quoting scriptures left and right.  We are calling the members of this group out by name and labeling them ungodly.  We are then saying that they are just like Jesus because Jesus hung out with sinners and was misunderstood.  We are saying that this group is wrong because they should be in the world and not of the world.  Then we are saying this group is right because they are trying to shine a light in a secular arena.

We are doing a lot of talking.  And honestly, I don’t feel like social media is the place to have this discussion.

I have very definite opinions on the whole matter.  And I feel like it is without a doubt something that deserves to be talked about.  But in the right place and the right time.  Ask your pastor how he feels about the matter, talk to your music minister, talk with the young adults in the college and career ministry.  Talk about it with your leaders and with those in your circle of influence.  Figure out what you believe.

But let’s not publicly bash anyone on social media.

On the one side, let’s not call our friends out by name and point out what we perceive are flaws.  And on the other, let’s not bash other Christians for having their own convictions about this secular industry.

Yes, Jesus called people out.  He called the very religious people out and he called out those deep in sin.  He plainly let them know what their sin was.  But He had the authority to do so.  He alone was the answer to their problems, and He alone was the salvation to their sin.

Today God uses pastors and people in the ministry to lead His flock and help keep us from sin.  I know my pastor has stepped on my toes many times in church while preaching a message that God gave Him for just such a purpose.  But last I checked, no one is the pastor of Facebook.  As far as I know, no one has been called to be the Voice of the Statuses declaring what is and is not righteous.

I think that a lot of us as a group of Christians can’t see the forest for the one tree in this situation.  It is so easy to focus on this one particular band and critique their every move.  But what are we trying to accomplish here with this debate?  To change someone’s mind?  If a Facebook rant has ever truly changed someone, I’d *really* love to hear about it.  Are we trying to point out instances of hypocrisy in other Christians?  Are we trying to point out instances of sin?  I think the world is doing that job well enough without us getting involved.

Let’s leave the righteous vs. unrighteous debate in God’s hands.  Let’s pray for our own convictions and then live by them.  Let’s pray for those outside our circle of influence that we feel may be struggling and then trust God to handle the rest.

Let’s be a light to the world by individually doing what we are called to do, instead of by shining a light on others’ perceived flaws.  

 

**If you have any questions on what it means to be Apostolic Pentecostal, please comment or e-mail me.  I’d love to chat about it with you!

On February 9, 2015 · 25 Comments · In Lovely Life