where my confidence comes from

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One of my favorite Bible stories as a child was David and Goliath. It’s a classic underdog tale: David, a young shepherd armed only with a sling, beats Goliath, the giant/scary warrior. I remember being in Sunday school listening to my sweet teacher tell us the story using the felt board and blacklight, bringing in a slingshot and some rocks to let us see what David’s weapon might have looked like. I remember Goliath’s felt person looked like a Disney villain and I thought about a) how scared David must have been to stand before such a big dude and b) how big God must be to bring down a giant in such a seemingly simple way.

Fast forward several years and here I am, an adult(ish) looking at this story with fresh eyes and asking myself – Where does my confidence come from?

David charged into a battle far bigger than himself with confidence. Why? Because he knew where his power came from. The Lord had been faithful before so why wouldn’t he be faithful again?

David had a big confidence that could only come from a big God. He didn’t lean on his own abilities but on God’s might and power to work through him. He trusted that God had his back. He was confident. And he conquered his giant.

I don’t know what personal battle you may be facing today or will face tomorrow. What I know for certain is that we all have our own stuff that we deal with. None of us are immune to life and people will let us down because we’re all human with our fair share of flaws. We all do battle with our fair share of giants and they come to us in various shapes and sizes, but we can take heart knowing that our God is always bigger. It’s time that I take a page out of David’s playbook and refuse to rely on my own strength so that I can find new strength in God. I’m done letting fear take over and take away my joy.

He has already overcome the world so why should I be anything but confident in Him? I don’t know what your giant looks like, however I’m guessing it’s not a monstrous Philistine warrior who wants to kill you (hello, perspective). What I DO know is that God has our backs. He’s got it covered. Rest easy, friends and don’t be afraid to be confident. xo

My Fall To-Do List

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Ahh, fall. The leaves are changing, the temps are dropping and boots are back, baby.
Whether you prefer pumpkin in your spice or not you have to admit there’s nothing sweeter than autumn in the South. Crisp morning air. College football. Pumpkins everywhere. Halloween candy. Oversized sweaters. Sweet potato casserole with a side of extended family. It flies by so as to not miss out on any autumnal fun I’ve made a list of things I plan on tackling this fall – some I’ve already checked off and some I’m looking forward to doing over the next few weeks. What are you most looking forward to this season? Let me hear em’! xo

  1. Visit the pumpkin patch with my parents (Annie was a huge fan)
  2. Watch “Hocus Pocus” (Annie wasn’t so sure)
  3. Decorate the house with pumpkins of every size, shape and color
  4. Spend a night by the fire pit (s’mores are a must)
  5. Pass out candy to trick-or-treaters and hot cider to the adults
  6. Carve pumpkins with Taylor and Annie (we can’t wait to try this for Annie’s first Halloween) then toast pumpkin seeds
  7. Season-themed crafts with Annie (because yes, I’m that mom)
  8. Attend a hayride
  9. Spend an afternoon antiquing with Mom
  10. Spend all Saturday watching football
  11. Perfect my pumpkin bread recipe and make enough to share with friends
  12. Make a festive wreath for our front door
  13. Unplug for the weekend
  14. Take plenty of long walks with Annie to admire all the fall colors
  15. Send thank you’s via snail mail

Married Life: A letter to my husband after we’ve had a baby

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To my husband after we’ve had a baby,

It was impossible for us to know what any of this would be like, this new season. We went into labor and delivery rookies, relying on our childbirth classes and Google for our limited knowledge. You calmed my nerves and held my hand through every contraction. You prayed us through the scary parts and ugly cried as we met our baby girl for the first time. You told me how proud you were of me and my “superhuman strength” and you helped me with well, everything in the tough days after when I felt like my strength had left me.

So here we are now, with a 5-week-old who has a smile just like your’s and you still tell me how proud you are of me. Of us. Of our little family. Day in and day out, you tell me how beautiful I am even when my hair is 97% dry shampoo. You turn your head when I eat five of the lactation cookies we both know I made just so I can have cookies. You never protest when I tell you I need Starbucks and to walk around Target for a couple hours. Never speak a word of my mood swings. Never flip out when I say I’m crying for no reason or because “she’s growing too fast.” You listen to me. You help make the major changes not seem so major. You take me on dates because you know we need time to focus on us. You love me just the same. No, scratch that, you love me more. You carefully push me to be the best version of myself. This new version of myself.

Some days are hard and some nights we don’t get much sleep between the diaper changes and feedings. Some days I don’t get a shower and walk around for hours with dried milk and spit up all over me. You never hesitate to jump in and finish dinner when she decides its time to eat – again – and you never complain when I pass her to you with a dirty diaper the second you walk in the door so I can pee. You change basically all the diapers and have learned to make the best half-caff coffee. You wake up extra early to clean the kitchen while I feed/pump/feed because you “don’t want me to have to worry with it.”

And so I thank you.

For telling me I’m a good mom. For loving me. No matter what I look like or how I feel. Thank you for always thinking I am the prettiest. The best. The sexiest. Even when I don’t feel like it. I am going to work hard on loving myself the way that you love me because the way you love me is the greatest way of all. I love being your wife and I love doing the parent thing with you. I thank God every day for this sacred season and I know the best is yet to come.

I love you more. xo

our perfect gift from God: Annie’s Birth Story

Our due date came and went without so much as an ache or contraction. I never felt better! In the words of my doctor at our last appointment she was “comfy cozy” where she was, despite my eating copious amounts of eggplant parmesan and walking every hill in our neighborhood multiple times a day. It was decided that if she hadn’t come on her own by the next week we would induce.

Waiting for a baby to arrive is like waiting for Santa to arrive except you’re not sure when he’ll actually show up and you can’t stop eating all the cookies. Honestly it became quite comical because every night Taylor and I would pray my water would break. Every time I moved Taylor jumped and asked how I was feeling. I sent so many texts to my Mom and best girlfriends about every possible “labor is coming soon” symptom possible and used an embarrassing amount of exclamation points. I drank red raspberry leaf tea non-stop all weekend and started having mild contractions that were a bit uncomfortable but wildly exciting. Finally something was starting to happen!

At 40 weeks and 5 days there was still no sign of Annie budging. My parents and brother came to town and we all went out for a final meal of my favorite Italian. When Dad told our waitress I was about to have a baby she brought me chocolate mousse on the house and yes, I ate every last bit of it. At 9pm that night Taylor and I made our way to the hospital. I was terrified – mostly of all the unknowns of the experience. Would it be super painful? Would the epidural actually work? What would pushing feel like? Would Annie be a healthy baby? My incredible husband held my hand and said the most precious prayer as we drove, knowing we would be meeting our baby girl soon. We both cried.

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We checked into the hospital and greeted the nurses on the floor with a huge batch of homemade cookies because who doesn’t love cookies? We were shown to our corner room (!!!) and soon I was in the glamourous hospital gown and chatting with our first incredible nurse, Amanda. She calmed our nerves by explaining most everything and encouraged us to try and sleep as much as possible during the night. We watched the “birth episodes” of both Friends and The Office – classics – and then I finally fell asleep during our favorite, The Holiday. My contractions started getting more intense during the early morning and Taylor was so wonderful to hold my hand through each one. We probably slept 3, 4 hours tops.

The next morning we met our incredible nurse with the great hair and even better attitude, Julie. I loved her from the start – she told us how she always pays close attention to details and would explain every little step of the process. She had me at “details.” She started the pitocin drip which kicked my contractions into high gear and while my pain was increasing I was so excited to feel something happening. Soon my doctor (whom I am borderline obsessed with) came in to confirm things were progressing nicely and I was ready for my epidural. Relief flooded my body. Dr. Rupe broke my waters and then it was time for my epidural, which by that point I was more than ready for thanks to my low threshold for pain and increasingly intense contractions. Julie held my hands and Taylor held my legs as I leaned over the bed with my pillow while the super nice anesthesiologist made all my dreams come true. I was shocked how quickly the medicine took effect but also how I was still able to move my legs.

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My parents got there soon after, remarking on how calm I seemed. I told them they had missed pre-epidural me and Taylor gave them a quick update from the night before. Taylor and Dad watched my contractions build on the big machine next to my bed while Mom and I chatted. My brother and his fiance got there and they all watched Jaws while bundling up in blankets. Hours ticked by and I kept dilating. My good friend and nurse on the floor, Paige, came in to chat for a bit. Friends, family, movies, and God’s miracle drug? This was not so bad at all.

Then, in the early afternoon we had a scare when Julie noticed Annie’s heart rate would drop with each strong contraction. She was concerned. Rupe came and told me they would closely monitor us both but if things didn’t calm down she would have to perform a c-section. I was terrified but trusted Rupe and Julie. She turned off my pitocin and it was up to my body to keep labor progressing. Taylor took my hand and we prayed. After being closely monitored for an hour Julie told us my contractions were building and Annie’s heart rate was doing just fine. Praise the Lord!

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My dearest friend Ashley came after work and stayed by my side, encouraging me and making us all laugh. I was given oxygen to help me rest while I ate popsicles. Around 5:30pm Julie checked me and I was at a 9 so she called Rupe. By the time she arrived I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push! After a couple test pushes they told me I was pushing so effectively our baby would be born in ten, twenty minutes tops. My family, Rupe and Julie held hands around me while Dad said a prayer for a safe delivery. It was such a special moment and I felt at peace. I was ready.

They broke down the bed, turned on the bright lights, put my legs in the stirrups and told me to grab the bars, bare down, and push. Julie would say, “Go”, and I would push while they counted to ten in sets of three. We’d rest for for a minute or two and then begin again. I willed my face to stay relaxed but with each push I could feel my eyes swelling. Taylor and I had decided he would stay “north of the sheet” but once the nurses yelled out that she had dark hair he leaned over to see. We were both momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of emotions but then quickly pulled it together to keep pushing.

Lots more pushing. Lots more nurses in the room. I joked with the nurses between pushing. Taylor amazed me by being the perfect birth coach – holding my hand, holding my leg to help me push, giving me water to sip. Taylor was my rock of strength and encouragement as I became more and more tired. You can do this honey. Our baby girl is almost here. You’re doing so amazing, one more push. Julie was supposed to go home at 6pm but she told me she would stay with us until Annie arrived.

More pushing. No more talking between pushes – I focused on deep, restful breaths (all that prenatal yoga came in handy) and prayed for strength. Taylor and Julie said I was in the zone. I didn’t understand why I was still pushing and could feel my epidural starting to wear off.

Rupe came in a little before the two hour mark and told me my dad was pacing so we needed to push harder. I gave my all to the next push but no change. Annie’s heart rate was in some distress and her shoulders weren’t coming out on their own for some unknown reason. She looked serious and explained that while some doctors would do an emergency c-section, she wanted to try using the vacuum while I gave one final push. If that didn’t work then I’d be rushed to the OR. Taylor dropped to his knees and prayed and I focused on my breathing, knowing I needed all the strength I could muster for this final push.

Taylor, Rupe, Julie, Paige and what felt like ten other nurses surrounded me and shouted words of encouragement as I pushed one final time. I felt a great amount of pressure and then heard the sweetest cry at 8:49pm. Rupe held up our precious miracle and then placed her on my bare chest. Annie immediately got quiet as she looked up at me. She knew I was her Mommy. I cried as I thanked God for such a perfect baby. Taylor cut the umbilical cord as we both cried uncontrollably.

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Taylor kissed me through the tears and then said hello to our baby girl. She turned to look at him and I cried harder. I asked Julie if I could keep her and I heard a collective “aww” from the nurses. As Rupe stitched me up she told us that Annie had flipped her body last minute to be sunny-side up and that she would have had to perform a c-section if my pushing hadn’t been so efficient. She also added that it would have been ten minutes of pushing if she hadn’t flipped. Of course she insisted on a dramatic entrance into this world.

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Paige placed Annie underneath the warmer and Taylor held her tiny hand. She weighed 7lbs, 1oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. So dainty and perfect in every way. Soon everyone left the room and turned the bright lights off, leaving us with our baby girl. Our little family.

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Our perfect gift from God had arrived and our hearts were forever changed. xo