Wow! Only 5 weeks left to go. I’m not sure how we got here so quickly. My heart feels as peaceful as this image. There is so much unknown, but God has me in a beautiful place of trust. I can’t wait to see what He’s unfolding with this life. As for baby, we had a check up last Tuesday and I was measuring over 4 weeks behind on my fundal height…go figure. But the doc ordered an ultrasound to make sure baby was growing on track, and she’s exactly 6 days behind…just like her big sister was. And guess what? Eleanora was 6 days late! Ha. It just takes me a bit longer to cook these babes. We’ll know more when I go in on Wednesday. I also think I carry small and don’t have big babies. That’s ok. I’m thankful to have been through this before. It helps so much knowing what my body does and what it is capable of doing while pregnant. There are so many things to worry about but I feel much more at ease this time around. I’m so excited and thankful that we’re getting so close! I’m ready! Elle is excited too. The other day she said, “Mommy, I’m going to cuddle baby sis all the time and you can have pretend baby sis.” ha! She talks about teaching her to make bread with us, talk and how to use the big potty. It’s adorable!
How big is baby: as big as a honeydew mellon, around 5 lbs
How I’m feeling: Physically I’m feeling well, considering! I’m definitely more tired overall. I’m hoping I’ll have one final burst of nesting energy to finish my last few projects!
Weight gain/ clothes: 20 lbs. I’ve finally hit the part where I never know what is going to fit when I get dressed. Thankfully, it is warm so I can pull out my shorts. Pants will not stay up for anything. I’m just working with whatever will fit at this point and *hopefully* can avoid purchasing anything besides maybe one stretchy shirt at the very end. I’m about to pull out the only things I can wear and push the rest to the side for now. The struggle is real.
Symptoms: A little indigestion, back aches, ligament pain, tiredness, discomfort due to my growing size. It’s uncomfortable rolling over at night! Ha! I’ve also started having some “episodes” of contractions and pain, mostly in the middle of the night. I think I’m just prone to pre-labor, or prodromal labor as some articles call it. At least I know what it’s like from a solid week of it last time! Gosh, I felt so amazing after birth simply because I could sleep a little again and it was all over! I hope it’s minimal until the end this time.
Sleep: It depends on the day and if I have an “episode” or not. It’s not super abnormal for me to be awake for a few hours in the middle of the night due to discomfort.
Diet/ cravings/ aversions: All I want is milkshakes and fries these days. Eek! I’m trying to limit giving in to once a week until the last week or two…or I might just have to experiment with some tasty healthy treats very soon so curb my sugar cravings. It feels so good to indulge in the moment, but my pregnant body certainly doesn’t appreciate being filled with junk more than the occasional treat. I still feel best when eating as many raw veggies and nut/ seed proteins as possible. Watermelon and oranges have tasted so yummy lately when I want a sweet something! Almonds are basically by best friends these days too. I don’t leave without them so I always have a snack on the go!
Movement: For some reason, missy LOVES to try to murder me from the inside at church on Sundays. I hope people haven’t noticed my grimaces during the service! Ha! She is quite the active one. The other day it felt like she was doing summersaults for over 30 minutes! (In the middle of the night of course!)
Exercise: I’m definitely getting in as much as I can. I felt great during our trip a few weeks ago but my energy seems to have waned since then. I just try to listen to my body. If it is saying I need sleep, I try to rest. When I feel good, I try to go for a walk or do my pre-natal barre DVD. Swats and certain yoga poses are fairly easy to fit in if I can’t do much else…plus I’ll be needing those muscles for labor!
What I’m looking forward to/ best moment this week: We finally found the perfect dresser (more so perfectly in budget!) for little lady’s room! It is the same style as our hand-me-downs in Elle’s room and I actually LOVE the dark gray color. I intended to paint it, but I don’t think I need to do a thing! It was fun to wash and organize all the baby things and put them in the drawers. But then again, organizing just makes me happy in general. I’m hoping to finish cleaning out her closet and finalizing the decor for the bookshelf area and over the dresser. We’ve already been spending more time in her room simply because it makes us happy to be there. The light has always been beautiful in that room. It’s small but happy.
Mood: I feel so much peace these days. I’m so thankful that we are getting to steward another little life. I can’t wait to meet the special, unique person God has already formed her to be. It will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to the journey.
My heart has been on quite the journey over the last 10 or so months. I can barely put words to down to describe what God has done in me, but I’m going to try for the sake of remembering. It has not been an easy journey, nor is it even close to being over, but I look around and can only say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
I know God has been shaping and preparing me for this season for a long time, but for me I see the start last July when I took a month-long sabbatical from work and social media (except for once a week check-ins.) “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Sheep are stubborn, as am I. Rest is not really in my wheelhouse. If it is not complete and utter exhaustion then surely I can fit something else in. But He made me lie down. I thought I’d come away with so many new ideas and such fresh vision of the road ahead, but instead God broke me down and gave me only more questions – not answers. (As if He’d stick to my expectations, right? Hello Jen – He is God!) He helped me “catch my breath” as the Message puts it and “sent me in the right direction.”
Mmmm, direction. After July God really stripped back a lot of thing in me. I saw how addicted I was to what my job had become for me and how tightly I held onto it without even realizing I was in control. I saw the life that being successful in my work would require and it wasn’t appealing anymore. As much as I love what I do, I wanted more of being useful in building God’s kingdom and not my own. Things that make up our identity can creep in without us really realizing it – my business had certainly been something that had become part of me in both good and bay ways. God took away my drive and all the push I had to further “the art” and taught me a sweet freedom in simply living everyday life. My heart felt a beautiful freedom in being with my girl when I was with her, and being fully invested at work when it was time for work. I chose to do things His way, even if it didn’t make great business sense to dial down the “push.” After all, it was so evident to me that what I wanted to achieve most in life was not running a successful business. My end goal is to bring Him the most glory. To really live that out, I’d have to release the reins. God gave it to me in the first place. It is all His. It’s hard to let go of control, to stop doing “the smart things” but I did and felt I had come to a wide-open place my soul had been so hungry to find.
Then – there is always a then…“Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death.” I would love to say that God opened up the heavens and blessings abounded in every area of life, although I was very, very blessed. One of those huge blessings was the news we were expecting our second child! I found out October 12th and I think I cried all day for joy. It was something I had longed for, really since Elle was born and had been waiting and waiting for God’s timing. I don’t know how many kids we are going to be able to have, but I have this vision of a full home – ours, adopted, fostered, whoever God sees fit to bring in. For years now, it’s almost like I can see them here, making us burst at the seams of these four walls. But as with all life, it comes with sacrifice. As this precious new life began, I saw my business start to crumble – at least to me. It was such a tremendous blessing for God to have lifted my drive so that I could deal with the physical strain of growing a new life. I was sick for 4 months with sickness on top of sickness. (Although I’m fully aware my struggles pale in comparison to some.) All life, all beauty originates in dark and quiet places. So there I was, so sick and feeling the reprecussions of “trusting God” with my business, which meant less engagement and less bookings than I’d seen in a while. I’d been in slumps and down seasons before. Honestly, all businesses have them and if you’re smart you can know when and why they usually happen so you can prepare and learn from them. This felt different. It was as if I was an outsider watching the thing I loved slowly die, and felt powerless to do anything about it. I had given God control! I didn’t feel the freedom to go back to the things I knew would work to put fresh wind in the sails and get things moving again.
“I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God is so gracious. In love He hemmed me in with His staff. He pulled me back when I wanted to keep going. Much wiser people have told me that sometimes a shepherd will have to break a stubborn lamb’s leg so that it stops running away. Then he gently mends the limb he broke and carries the lamb until it is fully healed. Then the lamb doesn’t leave the shepherd’s side. That is what God did in me. I am headstrong. I saw Him leading through the shadow of death, into a hard place and I didn’t want to go. But He never gave up, and I submitted to the breaking. He’s had to do it before, stubborn as I am and it is always, always, ALWAYS for my good and His glory. In those months of wondering “what are You doing God?” and “where in the world are we headed?” He helped me to say, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” It didn’t matter where it was as long as He was there, and He was – always. His rod both broke and protected me. His staff led and drew me into HIS freedom instead of the freedom I thought I wanted. Through it all I kept wrestling with Him, and in love He wrestled back and never let me go.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Come March I was tired, tired of the wrestle and needing to come to a place of surrender and peace. I was finally healed enough to say “whatever You have God, is what I want” and mean it. In all honesty it was hard not to be afraid of what He might say. “What if He does want me to quit my business? Really God? Right before I have a baby? You know that means more expenses right? You know that would make things interesting for us. You know how much I love it right? You know we’d found a good balance. You know it brings my heart joy.” I fought the worry and anxiety. I fought the need to hang onto the gift of this job I loved. I fought the idea of the lack of freedom that would mean if He did ask me to walk away. But God is SO MUCH BIGGER than my fears and even the best I can think to ask of Him. In His vast lovingkindness He set a table for me and gave me a choice: my business back the “way it was” or His way – and whatever that might mean. For me this time, the enemies were inside myself. They were lies. They came as influences from the world and the desire for it’s ways. But I saw a glimpse of the table He was setting and I wanted it with every ounce of my soul. He had readied me to let it all go. Hadn’t He brought me into that quiet pasture in the first place? Hadn’t He been my refreshment? Hadn’t He sustained me until this point and never let me go? So I jumped face first into His six-course dinner of beauty and a cup overflowing with blessing that I cannot describe or name. When I pulled back and saw all of where He had brought me, it wasn’t even a choice at all. How could I want anything less than Him – even if it meant leaving what I had come to know and love behind. I wanted it even though it might mean a more slim, simple, parred down kind of living. He said “I want to give you more freedom, not less. I want you free from the things of the world and it’s pull.”
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” (The Message) I feel like a little kid being chased by a loving Father, who I let catch me and hug me and kiss me time after time. It is overwhelming. It’s such a beautiful and free place. He wasn’t kidding about the freedom He wanted for me. I feel this earthly domain lessening it’s grip on me and I am starting to know what it means to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” I am starting to get it. I’m headed where He is, getting a glimmer of what He is doing. And it has made the circumstances of everyday life matter so much less. I am here, right now, and I know He will move me when He sits fit. I’m at HIS table, feasting upon HIS goodness and that is not confined to x, y or z – location, status, job, situation or otherwise. In fact, it follows ME! Me? This broken little stubborn lamb. Me. I could care less about my table now.
The intangible table I cannot adequately express, but in practical terms my heart can only say “I shall not want.” He has provided when it looked like things would get…not so pretty. It’s crazy to me that I wanted to hold onto my pride of earning money, doing something I felt was important and being able to be comfortable, travel, etc. Those are wonderful, beautiful things but they PALE in comparison. And you know what? I’m still doing my job – and I love it more. Every client is an incredible gift, and what He allows me to create is an immense joy. The difference is that I don’t worry about how things are going. He gives and He takes away. It comes from His hand and I am the joyful recipient as long as He gives me this work. He has shown me the sweetness of small things, like making my own food and growing a garden. He already moved my heart to be a more contentious consumer and I’d already started learning to sew- so “less” in clothes, home and extras doesn’t feel so hard. He is so good! I could shout it. He made me ready to let go – He is still helping me let go. I’m happy to have a more simple life because it is making room for more of what is truly lasting.
On top of giving me this sweet freedom, He kept confirming that I’m right where I need to be time and time again. Just when I doubt, He gives me a message in some way, saying “don’t give up – this is exactly where I want you.” We recently took a huge trip out to the west coast for 10 days. I can say without a doubt it was 100% God’s gift. He made it happen and it wasn’t due to my work or anything I made happen. I didn’t do a single shoot. I didn’t work. It was just time as a little family. What a lavish gift! I will forever remember it as the incredible GIFT I didn’t deserve, but He gave it anyway. For my heart it was His way of saying, “I know you better than you know yourself. All that you are, all that you love, everything that ignites your passion isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. The pangs, stretching and painful moments are like the labor pains of this life growing inside you. It’s part of the birth of something new. It’s a beauty you can’t see yet, but you will.” I’m not a a person who gets overly emotional or cries much at all, but every time I think of what God has done tears well up in my eyes. I have no idea of what the future holds, just like I don’t know what our sweet second babe will look like, BUT I do know it will be beautiful. Are the labor pains over? Not even close. I’m sure the hardest part is yet to come but I am EXPECTANT. My cup overflows with all that He is pouring in my cup – and it has nothing to do with me. I’m being chased by His goodness and mercy. I’m more free than I’ve ever been with more unknown than ever before. It’s crazy. It makes no sense. But it’s so beautiful. The longer I sit at His table, the more I see Him provide at just the right time. It’s not me, it’s Him. I just trust and obey and watch what He does. With all that is within me my soul joyfully proclaims, The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
I am so thankful to be hitting the home stretch with this sweet babe! Notice the wall color difference between this photo and my last update? It’s such a pretty soft gray. I LOVED the blue in Elle’s old room, but excited for a new color for a new baby. The nursery is coming along ok. We still have lots to do, a dresser to find in our budget and curtains to hang. Thankfully it’s a small room and looks full without much furniture.
How big is baby: as big as an eggplant, between 2.5 lbs
How I’m feeling: Still feeling much better for the most part. My larger belly makes it harder to do things and running around after my toddler is definitely making me tired! Also, giving her a bath has become a method of torture for me. I used to lean over on the side of the tub! No more. I’m going to have to figure out a better way or Elle is going to be learning how to wash her own hair very soon.
Weight gain/ clothes: 12-13 lbs. I’ve finally hit the part where I never know what is going to fit when I get dressed. Thankfully, it is warm so I can pull out my shorts. Pants will not stay up for anything. I’m just working with whatever will fit at this point and *hopefully* can avoid purchasing anything besides maybe one stretchy shirt at the very end.
Symptoms: A little indigestion, back aches, ligament pain, tiredness, discomfort due to my growing size. It’s uncomfortable rolling over at night! Ha!
Sleep: We had colds a last week which made sleep not so fun, but other than that I sleep like a log! I’m so tired when I go to bed at night…probably from not stopping during the day. (I know, I should take breaks…but it’s just not in my nature.)
Diet/ cravings/ aversions: FOOD! Glorious food! I have been doing a lot of research lately on non-GMOS and plant-based diets. It has really given me quite the motivation to get better at making my own things in the kitchen. I’ve learned how to make bread and hummus in the last 2 weeks! It brings me so much joy to learn something new. And it’s incredibly rewarding to find a way to save money AND know exactly what we are putting in our bodies. I’m trying to get a few things streamlined in our weekly routines so I can have everything down pat when baby comes in June. T-minus 12 weeks give or take! So, no cravings really…we’re just loving a more “whole” outlook on food.
Movement: Kick-fest starts every night at 10:30 pm and she hits high gear around 11…I can feel her little hand, elbow or foot scraping my insides or pressing out with all her might. I love feeling her, but she sure does know how to hurt me!
Exercise: Still doing ok. I’ve found I can’t do a whole lot of exercise, since I’m fairly certain I get in a good bit during the day with everything Elle and I do together. I definitely have to rest for at least 15 minutes after working out. It isn’t always feasible to fit in a workout AND rest so I have to plan the workout days when our schedule will allow. But overall, I feel pretty strong. As long as I’m replenishing the calories spent with good nutrients, I feel my stamina is pretty good. Hopefully I can keep it up as I get bigger and bigger.
What I’m looking forward to/ best moment this week: (I did pass my glucose test, btw! Yay!) I don’t have anything in particular I’m looking towards. In fact, I feel the Lord leading my heart to stay focused on each day as it comes. Learning to truly savor each day, grateful for whatever He has for me to do.
Mood: Thankful. Expectant.
This has been such a season of change for my heart, perhaps even more than I felt I changed when Elle was born. Learning it’s ok to listen to God’s leading even when it makes no sense for biz/ finances, and that is is OK to slow down…like all the way! But the Lord knows my natural inclinations to be and do so much, and is pushing me out of my comfort zone into a rhythms of less. I’m excited (and honestly extremely scared) as I enter a few months of mostly just being fully present in our home each day. Choosing to trust in His leading for the sweet work He gives me and when it’s done, rest in simply being His and letting Him tell me when it’s time to pick back up. It’s so hard for me to “let go” of the reins on my plans on what He’s allowed me to build up so much, and totally opposite of good business practices. But His way, always. He knows me best. All I have and am is His…so when He says stay, I stay. He is my CHOSEN portion. His boundaries on my life win every time, whether or not I would have chosen them for myself or not. Nothing else will satisfy. All the comfort in the world can’t come close to the joy of being in His shadow, even in the most UNcomfortable of places.
It’s hard to put a finger on where my heart has been these past months. It’s like I’m a ship ever-so-slowly sailing towards a port, waiting to dock but not exactly sure where I am or how to anchor along the shore. There’s land, something solid but I don’t quite see what will await me when I step foot on the sand. The only way I can think to describe where I am is that it feels opposite to my natural disposition. I’m type A. I’m a don’t-rest-until-it’s-done, go-getter, driven kind of creative mind. I don’t like stopping. I’m not fond of sitting still unless it’s because my wheels are spinning. And yet, I am still. Still…and content.
The early life of King David was characterized by stillness and quietness. It was just him and a some sheep for most of those days. I find myself so drawn to where he was during that time. It was menial work saved for the least important and the youngest. Sheep glamorous? Yeah, right. He didn’t even have that many sheep, “just a few.” He didn’t get much if any recognition. His father didn’t even count him among his sons when Samuel came. And yet his heart was after God. Even though the work was small His view was big. His eyes were on the greatest and grandest of pursuits. His tedious days and labor in solitude was used as a catalyst for poetry. Although I’m sure he hoped he wouldn’t be tending sheep forever, I can’t help but feel as though his heart was content as he wrote beautiful songs that only God heard.
I want my heart to be like David’s. I used to have these enormous dreams of what I’d do for God, such great aspirations for wherever I put my hands to work. Missionary in a foreign land. Worship music for multitudes. Art that went far and reached people’s hearts. Now? I see that I’m really like David, a shepherd in some obscure field tending small little things. By His grace alone, He has made me content. I just want to live out my life with my sheep, faithful in the small things. If my sheep are the only ones to hear my songs, that’s ok because it’s not for them anyway. My audience is One. If what I create for my work stays small or goes away entirely, I am thankful to have had the blessing of serving the people who came my way.
Those days of quiet taught David courage and to trust in God. He depended on God’s strength to help him guard his “few” sheep, so much so that He expected miracles! He took on a lion and a bear! His small tasks were not so unimportant that He didn’t rely on God to help protect them. I want to be the same. I want to trust God to show up in power in what feels small and unimportant. I want to show my little sheep that God is powerful enough, caring enough to meet us in the humble places – even if the miracles are only for a few eyes. If the songs in the field stay in the field, it is more than enough. They help my soul see the immeasurable beauty of God. If the path stays small and quiet, my heart can still sing and I can still expect BIG things from my God even if BIG things aren’t happening in my every day life.
I love what Levi Lusko said in his message at Passion: “Ministry that is effective always begins at home. If it’s not working at home why would God export it. If it doesn’t begin in your house, if it can’t begin in your cul-de-sac, if it doesn’t begin the city that you live in…if your gift on your life can’t work in a small, obscure, unknown context God will never be able to do the things He has put in your heart by way of dreams. Start where you’re at.”
God has changed the direction of my heart. He’s broken my big dreams and given me small tasks. Finally, now I see how beautiful and miraculous it is the be in the little fields, tending my few little sheep. My heart is full. My soul is content. Life is not perfect. I’m not anywhere near where I thought I’d be in life. My home, business, family, ministry don’t look like what I thought. My heart can find the same contentment whether I’m at home wiping up pee, or on a stage playing music, or working for incredible clients. I don’t have to have my identity be in what I “do” because I know WHAT I do doesn’t matter, but the HEART behind it. I don’t have to keep up a facade of perfection. I’m just a shepherd. But I can also expect miracles just looking after my small people, the same as expecting them for the things my finite mind reserves as “big” enough. God can show up when I’m doing dishes! I can overflow in worship when I’m cleaning toilets! Beautiful songs and art can flow from simple emails or picking up blocks for the millionth time. I’m not sure if I’m called to homeschool. Not certain if I’m supposed to go for it harder in business, slow down or if God wants me to let it go. I don’t know if what God has put in my heart will ever come to be. I don’t know if anyone will be impacted by the music He’s given us. I can’t see where I’m supposed to be other than right here, trusting Him for the every day and each moment as they come. Nothing may change and yet my soul can be full. I’m just a simple shepherd who is thankful to lead the little sheep I’ve been to green pastures and still waters, just as my Good Shepherd does so lovingly for me, wherever I am. In the dark valley or beautiful mountaintop I can see the glory of Christ alongside my sheep. And be content.
Well, it’s been a while! Thankful things have brightened up since my last update. I feel like an entirely new person, or rather that I’ve escaped from a dark storm cloud that weighed me down into the sunshine. The analogies could go on and on, that is how much better the past 2 weeks have been. I cannot believe we are six months in now! I’m starting to feel the need to finish up the nursery and choose a name! Just like with Eleanora, we are having a hard time. It’s a big thing to name a person, you know? Mostly we’re just picky. We are painting the nursery tomorrow! Yay! It will feel much more like her own space after we paint, add the curtains and crib.
How big is baby: as long as an ear of corn, between 1 – 1.5 lbs
How I’m feeling: Whew, so much better. Night and day. I still have my moments of feeling bleh, but I really can’t complain about not having one sickness on top of another for months on end! So thankful for this little reprieve.
Weight gain/ clothes: 10 lbs. I don’t check much at all. Not sure when I jumped up, but I mean, it doesn’t really matter. I’m hanging on to my regular pants thanks to all my hair ties! Lol! It’s not super comfortable, but thankfully it’s almost warm enough to just wear dresses from here on out. I’m excited for stretchy shorts too. I’d say my bump is finally noticeable, so it makes getting dressed a little more fun. I’m finally passing “the awkward” stage as I like to call it!
Symptoms: Mostly just back aches. I don’t remember my back hurting so early last time, but I also wasn’t carrying a 27 lb toddler around or bending over constantly. A little nausea/ indigestion here and there still lingers but nothing too bad.
Sleep: Thankfully, I’m not so tired these days. Some days I just can’t wake up when I’d like to, but I try not to push myself too much.
Diet/ cravings/ aversions: Thankfully, we’ve hit a good rhythm and food tastes good again!!! My body doesn’t love heavy meat or fried things, but does it ever? Ha! I LOVE grapefruit, tangy citrus and super fresh mexican style meals with lots of medium tomatillo salsa. (Only liked mild before.) Now that I’m feeling better we are back to meal planning and loading up on tons of veggies. I do succumb to the occasional milkshake and Five Guys burger though. #balance We’re doing much less dairy these days, but I have found that milk will settle my stomach at night if it feels icky. Also, I really love cereal at around 9 pm, probably for that reason. And I found a delish non GMO granola one that I’m obsessed with. That might be the reason too!
Movement: All the time. Little lady especially doesn’t like me wearing pants or playing guitar or singing apparently. Or maybe she does and kicking my bladder is her way of showing it. I do love feeling her move, however uncomfortable it might be. At night sometimes her kicks to my intestines make my stomach feel unsettled, but I that makes sense. I doubt tiny feet pushing and round house kicking my upper organs is good for digestion.
Exercise: Also, much much better these days. I feel so much stronger already and I’m not doing a whole lot more than walking/ light jogging a few times a week and some prenatal workout videos. It’s hit the point that I have to be super aware of my core to make sure I’m not straining my back and also supporting my growing bump. I’m trying to be intentional about doing little things throughout the day to gain strength, especially in my core.
What I’m looking forward to/ best moment this week: Well, I can tell you I’m NOT looking forward to my glucose test Monday. I hate it so much…and I always feel like absolute poop having to pump my body with all that sugar without eating anything! GAG. Mostly, we’re just excited about this little lady. Elle has started talking about her baby sis a lot more, and it’s super sweet. I am just soaking in the moments and thankful I get to do this all again. I’ve been doing some extra fun things with Elle lately since I know we won’t be going out quite as much after baby girl #2 gets here. It will be sweet but I love making these little trips with her. I can’t help but picture my two sweet girls with me after June! I took Elle to the beach Monday and she was dying to have a playmate besides me! ha! She kept inviting other kids to her “sandcastle” spot. I know she is going to love having a built in buddy soon.
Mood: Simply thankful.