Dear Jackson // YOU ARE ONE!

Dear Jackson,

You are a one year old. Turning less into a baby and more into a toddler. You love walking everywhere and still have such a strong personality of determination and curiosity. The world is yours to explore and you are definitely taking every waking hour and exploring it. You never snuggle or sit still, you are constantly on the move needing to touch and feel and eat everything. It's such a JOY watching you explore the world.

It's been a year and there have been so many transitions that marked this year. 

I stopped breastfeeding at a year. It was time for both of us. There is something so incredible about my body feeding you and providing you with all the nutrients you need and there is also something so taxing about feeding you from my body. You would only feed if the room was quiet and there was nothing distracting you. You made it impossible to feed on the go so I started with just morning and night feeds. Then after you turned one we did a week of just morning feeds and you were happy with being finished and so I was. I instantly lost 6 pounds and overnight felt like myself again. The first time in almost two years. 

The second big transition is that I returned to work full time. This has been a hard transition for your Momma but you my boy, have done a brilliant job! You are transitioning so nicely and love spending the days with your grandparents. It's such a blessing to know that your grandparents are taking care of you. I know financially I have to work but I think I would be so much more of a mess if a stranger was taking care of you. I am so jealous not spending every waking minute with you and resent working but I know this is just our season and life and that God is good through it and I will be ok. You sure seem OK. 

You started waking up around 5:30am which was just too early for your Dad's and my liking. But now almost 13 months (yes, I'm writing this late again, the normal) you are waking up at 6:30am and that is a great time! We have 1.5 hours with you in the morning to feed you and get you ready for the day and drop you off at 8am. Those 8 hours are long until 4pm comes around and then we fetch you at 4. 4-7 you are normally hungry and a tad bit grumpy and then you get tired around 6pm. I get jealous that we aren't there for your "good hours" but am thankful for all the moments I do get to spend with you. I so look forward to 4pm every single day.

You are still so determined and curious. You work at something and keep to it until it's completed. I am so proud of all that you are learning and discovering each day. You like independent play now and  your favourite thing this month is putting items into bowls, cups, mugs etc. You enjoy putting items into another item. You love talking on our cell phones, and carrying around the remotes. You love love love being chased and walking around in big circles around the house. You still love the tupperware drawer and are getting so good at pointing to what you want.

Your first word is "da da" and you can say "yayaya" really clearly but thats about all the words you are saying. You mumble and make other sounds but no "momma" yet which I'm trying really hard on.

You weigh 18 pounds at 12 months!

You now clap and love doing "how big is Jackson." Whenever we say "YEAH" you burst into a huge smile and start clapping feeling so proud of yourself. 

You eat with a fork or spoon and that is your preference over your hands. You are now eating all normal people food and getting your nutrients through that along with some oils, some protein powder (when you don't eat a lot of meat) and water. I am so thrilled with our eating plan and how we aren't drinking cow's milk. Being a first time mom is scary with all the different nutrition plans out there but I am so happy and thankful with ours and how you are have done so well. You are growing and doing amazing and now you love all fruits and veggies and are happy without all that sugar. Although you love cheerios and the third ingredient is sugar!

We threw you your first birthday party and it was so much fun! You were tired though and didn't eat the cake. I was hoping for you to smash it but you stuck your fingers in the icing licked it and then didn't really think anything of it. I was happy with it that you didn't have sugar right before bed! That would be your first experience with straight crappy food and I'm happy you didn't care for it. I know that will eventually change but for now until you realize how good cake really is we will stay away from it. 

It was so great having our immediate families over to celebrate your life. The life God has given you. You have blessed me in more ways than I could ever write. You make me giddy about the littlest things and make me slow down, be present and experience God in the mundane. You are trusting and loving and give the best kisses. I am so blessed to be your Momma. Thank you for making me Mom. Thank you Jesus for letting me raise Jackson for whatever amount of time I have to be his Momma. I know that Jackson is yours, and you love Him so much more than I ever could. Thank you for the blessing He is. 

Jackson, I can't wait for more. More days with you to love you and show you God's love. Happy First Birthday Jackson Thomas. You are the best!

Your Momma

*my goal was to write dear jackson letters until he was one. I will do sporadic updates as he gets older but will probably stop the monthly letters. Make sure you subscribe to the blog (right side banner) to get notified every time there is a new post!

That Time I Ran A Conference

there are two things that I know and God is teaching me so strongly right now.

one: God isn't found in my comfort zone. Faith and all the good things that Jesus died for is not found in my safe, secure, comfortable life

two. blessing often comes after obedience. 

this past fall, I read a book called Anything by Jennie Allen. It changed my life. She asks the question "if God is really real, if God isn't a fairytale and heaven and hell is real and Jesus really died to set us free then what..." we would do anything and go anywhere with Jesus. I started believing this and praying this to a whole new level. I prayed the same prayer for a couple weeks, "Jesus I'll do anything for you." Then one night while feeding Jackson in the early hours of the morning the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to my heart and told me to run a teenage girls conference and just talk about the real stuff with them. It was such a clear specific word.

After texting some of my best girlfriends about it, I found out that God had told my sweet friend Steph the same thing (how cool is our God!) and after connecting with some more friends it was clear that God was up to something, stirring our hearts and asking us to step out in faith. None of us had run a conference before, let alone on purity but we wanted to be faithful in what God was asking us to do.

With so much prayer, we started stepping out in faith and just doing the thing. It was costly for me to do this conference. The amount of hours I spent researching how to make a website, to praying for these girls, to organizing all the details of venues and topics, to writing my talk where I shared openly about my struggles was hard, scary and just a lot of work. I was so scared no one would show up and just scared that this wouldn't be received well. I questioned a few times if we all heard God clearly but it was always reassured that we need to be obedient in what He asks of us.

The conference happened last weekend. 29 girls showed up. It was amazing. We worshiped together and talked about sex and relationships. We prayed with the girls and ate delicious pancakes. We didn't go into debt and God provided financially with so many people believing in these teen girls and wanting to help or donate. God showed up. Not in any huge mountain top way but in blessing our obedience. I had so many good conversations, real conversations of girls sharing their hearts and their struggles when it comes to purity and just life.

And I got to share my heart. I am so beyond passionate to be available to love on these teen girls and just walk through life with them, not judging them but coming alongside them as there cheerleader and prayer warrior. In my many years of working with youth I know that many Christian girls don't think sex is a big deal and girls are struggling trying to figure out purity in such a messed up world. High school was so hard for me and as a believer going to heaven, I struggled a lot. I got to talk about porn and masterbation and boys and being defined by sin instead of being defined by God. I got to talk about how sometimes we live saved but stuck in our sin and shame letting it define who we are instead of letting Christ define us. And I challenged these girls that if they want to be defined by God they have to know what He says about them, and how can they when they don't know what His word says, when they don't read their bibles. It was so good. I felt the Lord speaking through me despite the awkwardness of these topics and the vulnerability I had to bring.

But again, obedience brings blessing. 

In no way am I saying I am a good Christian (there really is no such thing anyways) or I did this perfectly. I am the first to admit out loud that I am so messed up, saved by grace and I need the cross every day. But God did ask me to do something, and despite the cost I did it and wow, I met God. I needed God and He showed up. I drew near to Him and he drew near back. I actually had to practice faith and go outside of my comfort zone and when I was out there in the unknown, God was thick and real and tangible. 

Since the conference I now have some girls I am texting and praying over and asking God "now what" with big God dreams in my head. How can I love on and cheer on the next generation of teenage girls? What else Lord? I am willing despite the cost.

Are there areas of your life where you are living comfortably? I challenge you to pray "anything, Lord, I'll do anything you for you" and see where He leads. I'm sure it will be out of your comfort zone but I can promise you through God's word that He is the best and more than enough. You will find the good things of Jesus and get to experience the blessings God so wants to give His children if we would just trust Him and step out.

I'm cheering you on! Let's go after the good things of Jesus, let's get uncomfortable for the sake of Jesus.

ps. if you want more info on our conference that my sweet friends and I ran check out our website here: elmira girls conference

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