Dear Jackson // Four Months

*fyi taking these photos was next to impossible. Jackson can't sit up by himself yet but is so curious so he moved constantly resulting in him falling over. He spit up twice (hence the changes of clothes and the wet spot on the chair that appears halfway through), cried and then wanted food and just really wanted to eat his toes. These pictures accurately describe four months and I am in love with them.

Dear Jackson,

It's 9:22pm and I am already typing you this letter on Sept 14 rather than the 12th which is when you turned four months. I'm exhausted and honestly want to curl up in bed rather than type this out. I keep thinking, it's okay to miss a month right? I haven't even attempted to take your four month photos so I will put that on the to-do list tomorrow. I want to sleep but I know you'll wake up in an hour or so and wanna feed so is the hour of sleep really worth it when I just feel so groggy waking up? Should I just keep working until you wake up? Or will you wake up in a hour? For you to know and me to find out I guess.

It feels like I've been your momma forever. Four months is such a short amount of time. I can't imagine what life was like without you, what sleep felt like. That is by far my hardest thing about motherhood: my lack of sleep. I miss sleep so much. I can't believe it's been over four months since I slept eight hours straight. Random chunks of sleep just don't compare. But Jackson, I am happy to do it because of you. You are so incredible. You are so little and you don't know when its day or night. You don't know that I want to sleep. I often remind myself in the early morning hours that you have no clue I am missing sleep, you just want food or someone to comfort you.

This past month we have transitioned you to your crib. We started at two and a half months and this whole month plus has been learning to get you to like your nursery, establish a bedtime routine and get you to fall asleep by yourself without me rocking you. At four months you have mastered all of these things and I am thrilled! Yet, staying asleep is the hard part which I hope to type in your next's month letter that we have accomplished and that I have slept a full night! Anyways, this past week around 5am after you ate we were snuggling in the chair. Normally you fall back asleep for a couple more hours but your eyes were open and you were smiling at me. My heart melted as I looked down at you. I asked the Lord if I could freeze this moment. Everything was still, it was still dark outside and you were just looking up at me, loving me and thinking I was the greatest. Sleep didn't seem important in that moment as you gazed up at me smiling. I caved and rocked you around the room a bit making the moment last a bit longer till you closed your eyes and drifted back to sleep. As I placed you back into your crib I told myself to never forget this feeling. The feeling of true love, full dependence and purpose. Jackson, thank you for allowing me to feel so deep, to love so deeply, to cherish you so much and to learn to love you like Jesus. Thank you for giving me such purpose as I fold laundry, change diapers and hold you for hours. Thank you for letting be your momma.

This month you have grown so much.  Weight wise one August 22, you were 12 pounds 12 ounces. Mentally you have made leaps and bounds! You love tummy time and play on your stomach for a good twenty minutes before getting discouraged. You hold your head up high and look all around. When I put you on a play mat you shuffle around and can do a full 360 spin. You can roll over from your stomach to your back and each time you do you have the most adorable look on your face. One that is so confused how you rolled over and then after we reassure you of how great you are at your new skill you smile and are so proud of yourself. You haven't been able to roll from your back to your stomach but we are practicing everyday!

Your hands are open and you play with toys now. You can grab them and feel the different textures. You love grabbing a toy and trying to fit it into your mouth. You really try to fit everything into your mouth including your entire hand. Sometimes I almost think you'll get it. You play so well on your playmat as you grab the toys and try to put them into your mouth, not realizing they are attached- it is so cute to watch you try to figure it out. You are starting to fit in your exersaucer/bouncer. You are so proud of yourself standing up even though at this stage only one foot touches the ground. You are to little to move around in it, but can grab hold of the toys on the outside. You love your independence and being able to "stand" up and play brings you such joy. You still feed every three hours during the day and still random times during the night. You love watching baseball even though the Jays aren't doing to well these days. I can't feed you if the Jays are on. You just love them so much and wanna watch, it is too cute.

You can see so far and you watch us all day every day. You love watching me do dishes as you sit in your chair. You think the loud noises and running water are so interesting. Your daddy and I are so excited to see you in the morning that both of us normally volunteer to greet you when you wake up. Whoever goes into your room in the morning, you smile at them so big, grinning from ear to ear. You almost get hyper as you kick your legs and move your arms at the pure joy of seeing either daddy or me. You are just ecstatic in the mornings and it literally makes Marks and I entire day. Once we see you awake in the monitor the conversation always is "I can get him, nah, I can, no you shower I'll get him." Dad and I really love you but those first few moments in the morning are pure bliss. I hope to never forget them.

Speaking of your Daddy. You love him! Your eyes light up and you just permanently smile at him. You really think the world of your Dad and he thinks the world of you. Watching you both interact makes my momma heart explode. I can't wait for more moments where you can connect. We already talk to you tons about learning to skate, throw a baseball and bounce a basketball. Last week, as we were making lunch and you were in your chair just watching Daddy, he came over and started talking to you. You full out laughed and couldn't stop giggling! We both died in pure joy as it was the first time we ever heard full out belly laughter. I screamed running around the house trying to find my phone (which you will grow up to know I always loose my phone) as I wanted to capture the joy on video for the grandparents and friends to see. We got the end of the laughter and in the past week I have watched that video over a hundred times. Honestly, one day when you are reading this, ask Dad how crazy I am and how many times I watched the video. I am just so in love with you!

Jackson you are such a blessing. Children are blessings and you my son have blessed my life more than I could ever put into words. Some nights are hards, some days are exhausting but I would give up sleep forever to be able to be your momma. I still believe all you need right now is food and love. And I think you are getting a good dosage of both. You have so many people who adore you, who love you and who are praying for you.

But right now I am going through a small worry phase. Yes, some nights I worry about you and the pressure you will one day feel. Your Dad had the opportunity to preach again at the end of August and he was amazing. His spiritual gift is teaching and being able to communicate (something I am just awful at most times). I sat in the back row, as Papa held you as you slept and I just knew God is calling us to continue working in full time ministry. I bought some books to read up on how to parent you right from the start so I don't ruin you. As I pray over your life, I just feel God smiling at me and my worries as He whispers into my heart "Maddie, Jackson is mine." Yes, I need that reminder. You are God's child and He adores you more than I do (which is unfathomable!). I am praying that no matter what God calls you to do or our family to do that you will faithfully do it no matter the cost because Jesus is worth it. Yes Jackson, Jesus is so so worth it. Our time here on earth is so short and we need to make every day count for the glory of God.

OK I am typing way to much. I love you so much and I wonder when you will wake up tonight and if I will get any sleep. Let's sleep OK? Happy four months my handsome baby boy. We are crazy in love with every little part of you.

Your Momma


The "S" Word

I marvel at the way God changes us. As Christians, in my mind, you've got to love change. On this earth we are constantly changing into the likeness and image of Christ. I have seen my life completely transform and I know this change will only continue as I journey with Christ.

One journey that has totally rocked me is this idea of submission. I've wrestled with submitting to my husband and submitting to God and trying to figure out if that word could mean the same thing for years. I've come to a conclusion after years of searching that submission is a freeing word, not an oppresive one. & after learning to live this out for a couple years I can say it is so great!

I tried typing this post out but I just felt like it was easier to share my thoughts over a video. So I'm pretending to have tea (instead of a sleeping baby who wouldn't sleep unless he was in my arms) and chatting to you about my journey with submission and what it means to me now.

If you have questions/thoughts I'd love to connect! Send me a message. Maybe we can even chat in person over tea/coffee, I'd so love that.


Turning Twenty-Four

Yay for birthdays! Yay for taking specific time and reflecting back on the past year. You can read my 23 birthday letter here.

23 was a rough, growing year but a year full of beauty. Lots of bad changes (so they seemed at the time) and an amazing change of welcoming Jackson Thomas into our lives. Here is my honest reflection letter of this past year.

It all started exactly a year ago. I had just taken a pregnancy test two weeks prior and we were ecstatic to know God was forming a baby inside of me. We had talked about kids for months weighing the pros and cons for this stage in our marriage and life and really felt this was the time. We had also been praying for months if full time ministry was what our family was called to do and Mark and I both got a resounding yes.  The next step was for Mark to go to school to get his masters. This seemed like a lot to us, working full time, me picking up extra shifts as a server, being pregnant and using our savings to get Mark through school but we knew God was in control and that He was leading us in the his direction. I felt like I had a plan. Some security. I am smiling while typing this because we make plans but the Lord directs our steps. Little did I know what I was getting into.

Then, we find out at the beginning of September that our pastor and his wife were leaving. September 2015 was the most craziest, awful month of life. I was throwing up sick from being pregnant most mornings while dealing with the chaos of launching fall programs while two of the core staff were absent. I want to say that it was just a hard month but Mark and I were the only two full time staff after they left and the fall was pretty chaotic.

Mark had to put schooling on hold to work overtime because we didn't have a full time pastor. I had to work overtime because I was now responsible for children's ministry... something I felt underqualified for and scared to death to lead. It was a lot, yet every time I asked God if this is really something we should do, we got a yes. If I'm honest I asked God why he allowed me to get pregnant. Having known what the fall would have held for us, we would have never started trying, yet looking back now I can't imagine my life without Jackson and am so in love it makes sense.  September - December held a lot of tears and deep conversations. I thought Mark and I were close already but through this valley I experienced a deeper friendship, love, trust and respect for my husband. I am crazy about Mark but watching him protect me, lead our family and trust God in a valley was the most beautiful thing. We have come out so strong together and I am so thankful for God for the trial because I got an even better relationship with my husband.

I told myself January was a fresh start and we could put the awful first part of my twenty third year behind me. Mark finally started school in February and that was such an answer to prayer to feel like God was saying He still had us, and that He knew what He was doing. I had forgiven them and myself and was ready to move on.

February- April was so much better. We had an interim pastor and some stability.  I was fully pregnant and was diagonised with pelvic girdle pain which restricted most of my movement. It hurt to walk and some points of the day Mark would wheel me around in the wheelchair. There wasn't much to do. Doctors and midwives said that once Jackson was born the pain would go away and to put up with it till then.  Other than the pain, I was able to focus on the excitement of having this baby and started planning for the arrival of Jackson. Being distracted with creating a nursery etc. was a lot of fun. Looking back, having a baby made perfect sense in the end but it was difficult to see at first.

May-August equals the best months of my life so far. After such a rough season welcoming Jackson into our lives was such a miracle. Babies are miracles and such a gift from the Lord. God had given us a beautiful baby boy and I was so so thankful. Even in those first few weeks, I kept saying over and over again "I feel like I have purpose again." All those months of feeling burnt out and my creativity squished, this brand new baby gave me life, hope and purpose all over again. Mark and I just love being parents. We really love it and if I didn't hate being pregnant I'd probably want six kids because I just love them so much. I felt the call of parenting when I lived in South Africa and took care of eighteen kiddos. I found such purpose in raising the next generation and striving to love them like Christ. It gives me such life to parent. Sitting hear typing my birthday post and looking at Jackson makes the tough year fade.

So now we are into September again and I am feeling refreshed and that God is doing a new thing in my heart. I am becoming passionate again, super excited to lead a bible study and parent my sweet boy as he grows. I was talking to Mark recently and I said we should get a cake and celebrate surviving the tough year of ministry life and transitions. We are both feeling so good and passionate again and I am so thankful. Honestly, I wish it was just a tough month or two, not a tough year but looking back I wouldn't trade it for anything. God teaches us, grows us, moulds us in the trail, in the sufferings and that is so worth it. Anything that makes us look and act more like Jesus is worth it. This past year has taught me so much and I am a blessed woman to be able to have gone through this.

Looking forward I am excited! I really believe that Mark is called to be a head pastor. He preached this past weekend and the Holy Spirit just confirmed so many of my fears because even though I am 100% biased, I know my man has the gift of teaching and is such a good communicator. I am finally embracing being a pastor's wife and loving this calling rather than being skeptical and always thinking about Mark's teaching degree in the background to fall back on. Sure, if God calls Mark to be a teacher or anything else we will do that too, but right now it is clear of our next season. As awful as this past year has been at times, it secured our calling. If our past two years of ministry were super easy, we felt fully supported emotionally, financially and spiritually I may have had an unrealistic expectation. But having gone through the valley and still fully believeing we are being called into ministry....we know that it is God calling us, not us. Because for real, I wouldn't have wanted this life if the Lord wasn't calling us.

So I am so thankful for September. I have been looking forward to this month so that I can mentally close this past season and look forward to the next. I absolutely will buy a cake and Mark and I will celebrate coming through this past year stronger together and with a calling. I have been looking forward to this birthday to solidify that this is a new year. Twenty-four I am ready for you! I know there will still be trials and heartache, we are guaranteed that but I am ready for a new season.

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. You are so real to me, so present, so fulfilling. Thank you for another year of life and learning. I know each day is a gift from you, each breath you allow me to breathe. Thank you.

happy twenty-four!

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