I am really not so great at getting to these on time with little G. I do try little one! Ha! But a few days really don’t hurt anyway. With Elle I think I tried to hold back a little with how much I was obsessed with her. This time there is no hope for me. I look at them constantly and wonder how I am so blessed with such incredible, beautiful babies. I feel so undeserving. I’m not feeling guilty one bit about how much I’m immeshed in all things baby these days. What a joy and privilege. I pray I don’t take one second for granted as I try to savor each moment in this season. It goes by much too quickly.
Weight: Genevieve was at 11 lbs at her 2 month appointment, and 68% on height and weight. She’s probably up to 12 or 13 lbs by now. I do love how many rolls she has these days.
Clothes: We are really chunking up here, because some 0-3 clothes are getting a bit small. I think we still have some wear in them, but I can definitely put her in some 3-6 without them swallowing her. I LOVE seeing little Evie in her sister’s baby things. I pulled out one of my sailor dresses I wore as a baby and I can’t wait to put her in that too.
Sleep: Genevieve is still an amazing sleeper! We are so thankful. I hope I don’t ruin things by saying this, but she hasn’t woken in the night crying since last month! She might wake, but goes right back to sleep on her own. She barely even cries in the morning. Seriously, she’s an angel. Naps are a bit harder during the day. We still haven’t gotten on a great schedule. She seems to be great on the go but won’t go more than 45 minutes in her crib at a time. I’m not supper worried about it though. Our schedule changes too much for me to be overly concerned about it. She’s happy, so I’m happy.
Eating: We’re still doing feedings every 3-3 1/2 hours. She loves to eat. She really likes to use me as a paci at night and is cranky around 7 until I feed her again and put her to bed. Little lady likes her sleep!
Mood: Little Evie is seriously the sweetest baby! We are so in love with her. I took her up to north Alabama when Irma was coming through, and she just smiled and cooed at everyone. She has her moments of course, but I have never seen such a happy baby. She is pretty quiet, but will start trying to talk if you get her one-on-one. I could look at her deep blue happy eyes and gummy smile all day long.
Loves/Doesn’t love: She still loves being near mommy. She is very, very fond of being held. Ev will happily stay in the Baby Bjorn carrier all day if I let her. She LOVES the car. In fact she slept for FOUR hours, or at least was awake and calm, on our way up to Fort Payne! I was shocked. I’m so thankful the girls are good little travelers. She doesn’t like pooping. It seems to hurt her poor little tummy. She likes the paci a lot more now too.
Things I want to remember: Her hair is starting to curl up these days. I love it. She also started really loving to look at her surroundings. She takes in faces and will study you for a long time. I think she could recognize our house a little bit when we got home because she was so happy as she looked around. She started playing on her playmate this month too, and kicks up a storm – although, she would rather look up at me and Elle than her toys.
Life has seasons, just like nature. It has been so helpful for me to view my life through the lens of seasons. They don’t last forever, and whether enjoyable or not they do pass. Around the time we got married 7 years ago, I had a year-long season of stillness. It was a humbling time when our dreams seemed like they’d never work out and God said “no” to so many things. It was also an incredible time of growth in my life, and God’s nearness was palpable. When we got married, we thought our plan was for Jonathan to finish school and then head off to seminary. We’d both get our Masters of Divinity and then head out to serve God in some big, beautiful way. After a few months of marriage, regular jobs and real life, God took away that desire entirely and we knew it wasn’t what He had for us…but what did He have instead? We didn’t know. We longed to get of what we felt like was not much of a mission field, if I’m honest – Dothan. It’s natural really. We wanted to do something BIG for God and smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt didn’t seem like the most obvious place. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that God might call us to stay.
And there we were, still in Dothan, quite opposite of all our plans and dreams. No seminary. Normal jobs. Small places. No big, grand adventure. No laying our lives down in foreign places where our service could be seen and known. No, just stillness.
God taught me in the still season that quiet places have a purpose, and that sometimes dreams need breaking and reshaping. He taught me joy in the still, quiet place and surrender to HIS ways, not my idea of His ways. He is so gentle in how He leads. He is the Shepherd that makes us lie down, leads us by still waters and restores our soul before His ways lead through the valley. And then, on the other side of the valley of the shadow is the table He has prepared and the cup that overflows. The quiet place – His blessing. Leading on His paths for HIS name – His blessing. The trial – His blessing. The fruitful place of overflowing – His blessing. Seasons. In each one He is my Shepherd. I shall not want. I have seen this cycle in my life time, and time again. Through each one my assurance is knowing that His mercy and goodness follow me through it all and that I WILL dwell in His house forever. He is the reward. He is there in the stillness, there as the path forges ahead into unknown, there in the dark place, there in the discipline, there at the feast, there as my cup overflows. In every season His mercy and goodness is with me, so undeserved, and I shall not want.
It is so countercultural to slow down, to stop hustling, to pull away and rest. But what God teaches me in the stillness prepares me for the seasons ahead. It’s been a long time since that last season of stillness. Things look very different than I would have imagined 7 years ago. We are still in Dothan, but we know it’s exactly where God wants us. It is very much so our mission field. Ministry looks far different than we imagined, but it is real and deep – not the “public face” of what we could see as young naive babies. And we have adventured, just not in the way we thought. For 5 years God’s path led me to learn to express God’s beauty in others through my own business, and then He asked for it back. We still write “our own” music but instead of writing with dreams, we write just for Him. He’s just about the only one who has heard them and that’s enough.
And here I find myself again, still. Made to rest. Made to lie down. Feeling like the warm coat I have known, something part of me – though not necessary, has been sheared off and taken away. He makes me still so He can restore my soul, as He did the last time. I need to title, no name, nothing to cling to that says “this is who I am” or “this is my ministry” or “this is where God is calling me.” Someone asked me the other day, “So are you a stay-at-home mom?” I was kind of at a loss for words because I don’t even really know. Stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschool mom, ministry wife, business owner, photographer, song-writer, etc? I have no idea. And really, it doesn’t matter. I shall not want. The LORD is my Shepherd – that is the only descriptor I need. I have Him, therefore I have no lack. I can rest, I can lay all of the passions inside me down, stop striving and just be still because HE is my Shepherd. He made me. He loves me. He delights in me, not for what I do or who others see me as or what name anyone may put on me, but simply because I am HIS. What a blessing it is to be restored back to that place, where nothing matters except that He is there, because He is all I have. There is nothing I hold in my hands now that I can say “this is what I have achieved” or “this is who I am.” Just Jesus. I am with Him, and that is who I am. I am the one His mercy and goodness follow. What a grace far beyond what I deserve.
I’m sure the Jen I was 7 years ago would be shocked to know that not much has changed, and yet everything has changed. The main difference now is that I have two little hearts following my lead. All I know is to imitate my Shepherd, and to point them to Him. Full circle, I have come back to the stillness where there is no plan, nothing to hold to except for Him. And it is more than enough. I shall not want.
It is more than my heart can take to know that He sees me in the small still place, and looks at me – like I look at my daughters – with even more delight and love than I can imagine. In the still season He brings me back to the truth that I don’t need to “do” anything for His approval. He holds me and loves me as His daughter. I can cease all striving, because He holds all things together, not me. I can pull away and be joyful in the stillness, because it doesn’t matter if anyone else sees, HE does. I rest in His love, knowing He wants my heart so much more than anything I could produce. What a gift to be still, quiet and tucked away, coming back to the truth that I need only be who He says I am. In the season of stillness He is very, very good.
It is so counter-cultural to go slow, to be still, to stop and savor. If anything, that is what I learned this Summer. Fast-paced is definitely my tendency. I do it all the time to be sure, but slowing down is something I’ve learned to love. I’m one to want to be busy all the time. I love the feeling of checking off 100 things per day, but God is teaching me to be quiet, to be still…again…I mean as still as you can be with 2 kiddos to take care of. Maybe slow means the t0-do list can wait until after a nice long lunch at the park. Maybe it means taking time to teach my 3 year old to buckle her shoes instead of rushing out the door. Maybe it means letting my heart be quiet instead of filling it with checking my phone. Maybe it’s turning it off entirely for a weekend. Maybe it’s letting the laundry wait so I can soak in God’s presence during the one magic nap time. Or maybe it’s just a posture of the heart in the midst of all the day to day – still, expectant, waiting, content in the quiet. Stillness has a humble posture. It stops striving. To be still before the Lord is to put my trust in Him, saying “YOU do the work. YOU open the door. YOU change me. I will wait before You.” Seasons, like the Summer don’t last forever. I’m learning to soak in the stillness while it lasts…
I said goodbye to the job I have loved for over 5 years now. I shot my last wedding I have on the books this past Saturday, for a while at least. For the sake of laying out there, I still get plenty of inquiries and everything looks amazing – but to every single one God has said no. There is no explanation. Only a closed door. It feels scary to type this out because I still have hopes that I’ll do some here and there. I have LOVED loved LOVED every minute, and feel so overwhelmingly thankful for the privilege God has given me over these years. Never in a million years did I see myself becoming a wedding photographer. It has been such sweet years of growth, learning how to find my feet as a business owner and wife, then minister’s wife, mama, etc…It was just when I felt totally confident in my system, workflow and had been doing it long enough to feel so comfortable with my clients. I enjoyed the knowledge and experience and utilizing it to anticipate their needs. It truly brought me joy to serve however I could on these special, monumental days. Every single wedding has a special place in my heart. Every one was a true joy and honor. I cannot thank God enough for giving me this work, using it to grow my faith, to draw me closer to Him and bring such incredible people into my life. So many sweet friendships have been made and and beautiful places visited. It filled my soul. His gifts are good.
And now I say goodbye…
As I drove away from dropping of the girls to go work for what might be the last time, my heart was overcome with incredible peace. This, I know, is also a gift from the Lord. All of my flesh still wants it, still hopes, still wishes to hold on to what I’ve known and loved. But HIS ways are higher. He has so sweetly prepared me for this moment and my heart knows I must let go for whatever the future holds. I am so thankful to still be booking other portrait sessions, commercial, lifestyle and otherwise…but it is not the same as the thrill (or income) of weddings. Yet my heart is confident and my whole being rejoices. I can’t explain this sweet peace or His nearness. I’m saying goodbye to one of the biggest parts of my life, the creative fuel for my artistic heart and what has become part of me I thought I’d never part from. It’s always been His, from the moment He put it in my lap after asking me to quit my full-time job – to now. I know that it’s never been “mine” but after so long of “having it” it was hard to say goodbye.
During labor with Genevieve, God gave me the imagery of a boat being rocked by the waves. Now, I see I was tied to the dock. He had work to do. My ship had to be tied down, stripped and made ready for a new voyage. I was weighed down, but now I’m free of the things that would hold me back from this new journey. I don’t know exactly what He did, but it’s done and He’s beckoning onward. He’s loosing the ropes and now we’re off.
And now I say hello…
I’m not the same person I was a year ago. God has totally changed my heart and life in the last year. I can’t say I enjoyed the year or so of His stripping, pruning and discipline but I am thankful for it. The fog is clearing and He’s just now beginning to give me a vision for what lies ahead. He’s teaching me joy and faithfulness in the very, very small and menial things. Because they are important. He wants 100% of me invested in what is right in front of me every day. Most days, that is my two precious girls. (And what an incredible blessing they are! What an undeserved gift.) I’ve stopped fighting the pull to homeschooling. I’ve started enjoying finding new and innovative ways to make our home efficient and economical. Sometimes it’s good for the artist to stop creating and teach others instead. And maybe that will be more of what this season is about. I really don’t know! It’s half thrilling, half terrifying to have absolutely NO IDEA what God wants of me, other than my every day faithfulness. However, I do know this: GOD HAS BEEN SO FAITHFUL. Tears well up in my eyes every time I think about it. I worried about if I needed to totally shut down or not, but He said “Trust me. Be faithful with TODAY.” When I obey, He provides. Every time! Just when things start to look interesting, I’ll book something or we’ll get an unexpected gift. When I start to crave who I was, but instead look to Him and say “I am who YOU SAY I am.” Then, He gives me a piece of a song, the opportunity to travel or something to experience or create. When I grow tired of the tiny budget for “things” or grow weary of food prep, He ignites my joy and creativity for our home. He knows! He knows. He doesn’t owe any of this to me! He could strip away all the parts of my artistic heart, never make any more art in my life, and it would be so much more than I deserve. And yet He overflows my cup with what only He could give. It is astounding and such a grace that is overwhelming me with such joy and thankfulness. After all my struggle with the many levels (especially finance and identity) of letting this go, He still fills me up. My creator knows me, how He wired me and fills all the gaps He cut out of my life. He always does. He is always good. It’s just easy to doubt when our human eyes see lack. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
So hello new season. I’m all in. I’m 100% here, showing up, excited for what is to come. I’m light. I’m free. I’m hopeful! It really makes no sense on paper how or why God has closed off this part of what I’ve known, what I loved and something I knew He was using for His glory. And yet I have never felt more peace in all of my life. He is undoubtably here in this boat with me and up to something beautiful. My hands are totally and completely off the wheel and He has full control. I’m just a willing vessel for His will, wherever that leads from here. Farewell to all I’ve known up until this point. I’m with you God. I gladly greet whatever you have ahead…
Wow – time really does fly these days. Elle is officially 3 years old (her update to come soon) and Genevieve has been with us for two months! I’m so thankful for these sweet little girls. Just look at that cherub face! She’s angelic. Those smiling eyes get me every time. Life has gotten less crazy and we’re finding a good rhythm for our days. As long as she is near us and what we’re doing, she is very go-with-the flow and flexible. Just about everything is easier with her. I don’t know if it’s just because this is my second time or if she just isn’t as boisterous as Eleanora…probably a bit of both.
Weight: Not sure, but our scale reads around 10lbs. I’ll update after her appointment Thursday. She is in size 1 diapers as of about 2 weeks ago. Her chub is definitely coming in nicely.
Clothes: She has finally outgrown her newborn clothes, which is exactly what I said about Elle in her update at 2 months. She wears most of her sister’s old things, but I am LOVING the brand called L’OVED BABY this time around. It’s just about all I want to put her in. I can tell I’m much more minimalistic with Genevieve than I was with Eleanora. It’s totally pointless to put a newborn in dresses! Sweet, simple and soft onesies and rompers are the way to go for sure. I also think it might have to do with their differing personalities. Everything with Elle was flashier…colors and everything. With Evie I feel drawn to muted tones, softer pinks, muted blues, cream, gray and white. Maybe it’s her skin tone or the fact that it contrasts better with her dark hair. Idk? It’s so fun to try to get to know their personalities and see their unique differences.
Sleep: Genevieve started sleeping through the night about 2 weeks ago all on her own. We started off attempting the same schedule we did with Elle, but she has her own rhythm. We always had trouble getting Elle to go to sleep at night but Genevieve is ready to be out around 8-9 pm and we wake her for one last feeding around 9:30-10 pm. After that, she’s out until 6 am most nights! If she’s “off” it seems to be due to gas/ trying to poop. I can also put her in her crib at night or after a feeding in the morning with her AWAKE and she will go back to sleep pleasantly! (This is huge, so huge. E never would do that in a million years.) Sleep has been a breeze with her, seriously. I still get about the same amount of sleep as I did with E, since I don’t have any option of sleeping in ever or napping with 2 kids, but her night schedule is easy and predictable. I cannot express how thankful I am for that fact! She isn’t the best at napping in her room, but for the most part we stay busy with errands and adventures that she is kind of used to napping on the go. I’m trying to make sure afternoons are always consistent and make sure that rest is in her room. I love that she’s so great on-the-go, but so far both girls haven’t known much else! She took a 2 hour trip with me to the beach at 5 weeks and slept the whole way down and back. I am SO SO SO SO SO thankful the girls seems to love the car!
Eating: Little G loves to eat, just not so much from a bottle. But that is ok. I don’t have to worry about that too much right now. I think it’s more her personality to want to be close to me all the time. She likes to be held and wants to nurse for comfort often. I don’t mind nursing as much this time around, since it’s about the only times I sit down or get a rest during the day! Thankfully she doesn’t spit up hardly at all either! Hooray!
Mood: Little miss G seems to be pretty calm and laid back. So far E and G are night and day. E was always taking in everything about her surroundings and G seems to be drawn more to faces. If we are out she’s not looking around, she’s looking at me. E had to have her paci, G likes it sometimes. She doesn’t seem as picky about who is holding her either, as long as she is being held. Even her little cries are mostly whimpers, until she is REALLY hungry or has a bad gas pain. She seems to have more facial expressions than E did at this stage – but her only one one was wide-eyed just about! Genevieve does all the faces! Ha!
Loves/Doesn’t love: She LOVES her mommy, nursing, being near mommy, mommy’s singing, napping on mommy, etc…She doesn’t like being away from mommy so much…She loves the sound of the vacuum – it always manages to lull her to sleep! lol! Then again, she likes sleeping. She likes her sissy’s raspberry kisses. She DOES NOT like being put down when she’s awake. She hates being left in a room alone and prefers being held, always always. She loves getting a clean diaper – it makes her smile as soon as it’s on. She likes noises and will wake up if things are too quiet.
Things I want to remember: HER SMILE – gosh it melts me! She makes cute little breathing and squeaking noises. Again, just like with Elle I can’t manage to capture it. I love how she looks at her big sister when she wakes up in the morning.