Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Taming Your Inner Mama Bear

Lately, I have been dealing with a lot of new feelings. Aside from an overwhelming amount of pregnancy hormones coursing through my body, I have also been dealing with a lot of thoughts and realizations about motherhood and parenting.

In the past week, I have started to grow a baby belly and have had a few people notice. I have never enjoyed my belly getting larger before, but I love this, and it's quite a welcome change. Along with the visible sign of my baby's existence has come some pretty intense feelings. I have started to feel overwhelmingly protective of this little life growing inside of me. I spent a car ride with my husband, Jordan, in a near panic over the thought of needing to protect my child from being badly influenced or hurt by anyone.

What if other kids dont like my kid and they get bullied? What if my child doesn't believe in God when they grow up? What if my children become rebellious and hate me? What if other people try to undermine my authority in front of my children? What if I am no good at this whole parenting thing?

What if?

These feelings are unlike anything I have ever felt before. As a woman with an anxiety disorder, it is never too surprising when I am worried or fearful about something, but I have never felt like this before. It is almost like a feeling of fear and worry that seems completely natural and in no way influenced by a chemical imbalance or mental instability. It feels right and like I am actually made to feel this way. I am re-assured by others saying "That is just your motherly instinct kicking in" and "That's the protective mama bear inside of you", or "That's completely normal".

I believe it is normal, natural, and even healthy in some ways. The instinct to protect and nurture and shelter your child is something that God instilled into most women. But can we go too far?

Like I have said in the past, I let fear run my life for many years and only recently have found some freedom from this struggle. Because of this, I try to be very mindful of why I make the choices I make and pinpoint areas that I am letting fear hold onto me. It is very very important to me that fear does not run my parenting. So, I have been thinking about this, and I think it is never too early to start learning to be the best parent you can be. My baby won't be here for many months but I want to work through these areas of fear as much as possible beforehand.

So, what do you do when you are a mama and you are afraid? How do you tame that inner mama bear?

First, realize that nothing you have is your own, including your children. Your child belongs to God and you are only meant to steward the things God has given you, not possess, not control, steward. It is up to God what your child is meant to do and where your child is meant to go and who your child is meant to become. It is not up to you.

Second, realize and believe that as much as you love and want to keep your child safe, I promise you that it does not compare with the love and concern that our God has for our children. We are given a responsibility as parents to raise our children in God's ways but we do not have to do it alone or on our own strength. God is in control. God is in control. And He wants to see you succeed and He wants to see your children living in His grace and freedom.

And Last, but not least, surrender your child's life into God's hands and trust Him. Let go. How many of you know that whenever you try to take situations into your own hands, instead of trusting God, it never turns out well. This is no different with parenting. He is really our only hope.

Now, my first child isnt even born yet, so I am not really speaking from experience, but I believe this truth and I plan to hold onto it as I bring children into this world.

I will not live in fear, and neither should you! Let's surrender our children into the hands of the one who created and gave them to us in the first place.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Music; My Intro To It And What I Am Listening To Lately

I love music. I have always loved it. Throughout my entire life, no matter where I was, how I felt, what was going wrong or right, I have always loved music. The styles and genres of music that I have enjoyed have varied a lot over the years and continue to be very diverse. I enjoy worship music, country music, hardcore/punk-pop music, alternative and singer-songwriter music, and honestly there isn't really a genre in which I can't find at least one artist that I enjoy. 

Throughout my childhood I loved to sing, loud and proud, all the time. I have never thought or been told that I have a particularly nice voice but I just love to sing. I have the natural talent to have a steady pitch and that is enough for me. 

I learned to play the alto saxophone when I was in grade 7 and continued playing in the school band for the rest of my junior and senior high education. I was always commended by my teachers for being a natural. I loved being in band class. I honestly never made friends with anyone in my band classes and none of my friends thought it was very "cool" that I liked band so much, but it was the only class I never wanted to miss. 

When I was in grade 11 I dated a boy who played guitar better than anyone I have ever met still to this day. He taught me a few basic things about the acoustic guitar and I bought my own and fell in love with it. Once we broke up I continued playing and still play the guitar to this day. I wish I could say the same for the saxophone but that is just not the case. 

When I was in my late teens I started singing on the worship team at my church and liked it a lot. At one point I was even able to lead worship when I started attending a smaller church that usually only had one or two people playing at a time. I liked this but didn't feel super confident. 

In January I was a part of a church plant in my city and was asked to take on the worship responsibilities and lead the worship team. I was happy to give it a try and I am still doing that every Sunday. I enjoy it a lot, and hope I can continue to improve and keep at it, but let me tell you, it is hard work. It may not seem like it to some people but coordinating a team of musicians and planning set lists and learning new songs and trying to keep the song rotation recognizable and current at the same time is a huge job. Not to mention that as a member of the leadership at my church there are also other responsibilities that need to be taken care of, such as set up and tear down of equipment each week. This is the first time in my life that my love for music has led me to playing and singing so frequently/regularly. I feel more and more confident each week and think that I am truly improving. 

As you can imagine, keeping my worship sets current and recognizable means that I listen to a lot of music. I am always searching for new artists and new albums and things I haven't heard before and trying to see what kinds of things other Christians like to listen to and sing. I personally use Apple Music and Youtube for all my music listening needs, but in the past I have used apps like 8tracks to find new music. Because I like to share the music I find, I plan to do a regular instalment on my blog of "What I Am Listening To Lately" to let you know what I have been loving. Today I will share the worship albums that I have been listening to lately. 

So without further ado, here are my current favourite albums:

I don't have much to say other than this entire album is just pure amazing

I usually don't enjoy Hillsong Worship and strongly prefer Hillsong United's albums but this specific album is really incredible. 

This one isn't new, and in fact, this band has come out with another album recently but I am still not over this one.

I love everything Hillsong United does, and this "acoustic" album is no exception. They put a different spin on songs from their previous album and it is beautiful. Also, if you don't know who Taya Smith is, you will hear her (as the only female vocal) on this album and just wow. Her voice is not fair. 

//I hope that you get a chance to check some of these albums out! Let me know what you think if you do! 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

It's Okay If Your Pregnancy Isn't Pretty

All my life I have wanted to be a wife and a mother. I, like many other young girls, loved to pretend I was just that when I was little. I would set up my room in a way that resembled a home and I would force my brother to pretend to be my husband. I would clean my 'house' and I would pretend to prepare meals for my family, which was usually made up of some stuffed animals or dolls. I also loved pretending I was pregnant. I remember pushing out my belly as far as a could and holding it as a loving, expectant mother holds her growing belly. It made me feel beautiful. The idea of creating a life is a beautiful thing to think about and dream about. I have always imagined that pregnancy would feel very peaceful, beautiful and that I would feel a deep love for my growing baby.

Sometimes life just isn't what you expect.

To be honest, my pregnancy has not been pretty and it has not been anything like I expected. The most surprising thing is that, although I have many, nasty symptoms of pregnancy, I have not felt pregnant. I have felt sick. I have felt like my body is failing me. Being pregnant reminds me a lot of being depressed and having food poisoning, except it is all 24/7. My moods are ever-changing. And I can hardly force myself to eat enough to sustain myself most of the time. Instead of gaining weight, I have lost weight due to nausea and diminished appetite. Most days I am lucky if I can even accomplish one single thing off of my to-do list. I have tried to take bi-weekly photos to monitor my growth and document my 'baby bump'. I have taken 2 so-far; one at 6 weeks and one at 8 weeks. I have grown (mostly pregnancy bloating), but it doesn't look like a baby belly. To me, it just looks like I have eaten a few too many cheeseburgers lately. It does not look beautiful. I do not feel beautiful. This is not what I expected. 

But I am slowly learning that that is okay. It is okay if my pregnancy isn't pretty. It's okay if you're pregnancy isn't pretty! You do not have to be just like everyone else. There are some women who have very little struggle through pregnancy and are able to continue all of their hobbies, career, and even raise other children during. I am not one of those women. And that is okay.

No matter what your pregnancy looks and feels like, please don't compare yourself to other women. That is such a devastating road to head down and it does no good.

Dear sweet Mama, you are growing a human! If that is all you do today, that is enough. That is way more than enough. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Dear Baby; Week thirteen

Dear Baby, 

Wow, we have made it so far. It is really hard to believe that I am in the second trimester of pregnancy. What a strange feeling to have time seem to crawl and fly simultaneously. I can hardly bare waiting for each new milestone and yet the whole thing still doesn't feel real half of the time.  But here we are, week thirteen. You are the size of a small peach. I love peaches. I love you. 

I got to see you a couple days ago and watch you squirm around on a screen and touch your face and roll over. In that moment, it really hit me; you are real. You are my baby and you are inside of my womb and you can move and you can feel. I can't feel you moving yet but my heart knows you are in there and you are moving and growing inside me. 

When I lead worship at church each weekend I can't help but think that you are up there with me and  that very soon you will be able to hear. Oh baby, how I hope that music runs through your veins like it does through mine. I can't wait to sing you to sleep and hear the first sounds you make and the first song you sing. 

Your daddy and I are not going to find out whether you are a boy or a girl until you are born. The anticipation is intense but the reward will be great. We have picked out two names. One of them is yours. I can't wait to tell you your name. 

Soon I will start setting up your nursery. Right now your bedroom is just a room with boxes and miscellaneous storage items. But we have your crib. You will sleep in the same crib that your daddy slept in! 

I pray and hope so intensely that you realize how loved you are and never doubt it. I hope that you will always know God's sweet, unconditional, love and embrace. He is the one who is creating you right now! I'm not doing anything! It's all Him. He is making you exactly how you are meant to be. You are being made to love God and be loved by Him. It is far too beautiful to truly fathom. 

I have started talking to you because, according to the internet, you should be able to hear me soon. 

Your daddy loves you too, Baby. He can't wait to meet you. 

Hold tight, Baby. 

Love, Mommy.