Sunday, April 17, 2016

Boho Chic Bedroom Makeover

It all started with the bedspread.

I was looking for new brown and turquoise bedding to go with the painting above our bed. I was sick of the heavy brown duvet that we currently had that lived in a crumpled mess at the end of the bed under several layers of clothes.  Luckily, I couldn't find any that were just right because then it dawned on me:  Why was I creating the bedroom around the hand-me-down (albeit, beautiful) artwork when it didn't truly suit me and make me happy?  I was continually drawn to colorful, vibrant bohemian inspired bedding, so why not completely redo the bedroom to suit this theme?

I found this beautiful bedding from Bed Bath and Beyond:

And so it began--and a Pinterest board was born!

I would love to say that this process was super fun and easy, but alas, nothing worth having comes easy.  As I worked to redo the bedroom, I had to battle lies in my mind such as the following:

Lie #1: I need to be content with what we have.  The former bedding was very expensive from Crate and Barrel, and I didn't need anything else.

Lie #2: It was selfish and foolish of me to use money to makeover my bedroom when there were other ways to spend it.

Lie #3: Ultimately, I didn't "deserve" to have a nice bedroom of my (budget) dreams.

Lie #4: Since my room was a failure and a mess, I was a failure and a mess.

The TRUTH was that the rest of the house looked great.  I'd worked diligently and intentionally to make our house a comfortable, attractive and organized home.

The TRUTH was that I deserved a beautiful refuge that made me happy where I could read, rest, relax and… you know.

The TRUTH was that I am an educated, vibrant, creative, fun, beautiful and capable adult woman who could makeover her bedroom if she darn-well pleased!

So now the time has come.  Every makeover has a set of dreaded "before" pictures.  I am slightly extremely embarrassed to show you these, and I must beg your mercy.  But I know the truth: All of you at least have one area of your home that resembles Monica's closet from Friends.  #dontjudge  And if you don't, then why are you reading this?  Don't you have something to go clean? ;)

Sadly, this is how my bedroom looked for the majority of the time.  It was brown, depressing and messy. As you can see there are signs of effort to make it look nice at some point, but it never felt like it was my bedroom.  "Good enough" was the theme.  I never made the bed because the duvet was so cumbersome and the pillows were so many.

Our bedroom had become a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs (for which I am very grateful) and a graveyard for things in our home that didn't have a home.  It was a sort of purgatory where things got shoved in the five minutes before company came over.  Can I get an amen?! LOL!

And here are the BEAUTIFUL and GLORIOUS "after" pictures:

I styled the dresser with a mirror we had from Crate and Barrel, lamp from At Home, box and candle from Home Goods, picture frames and greenery from Michaels. The decorative balls are from Kirklands.

I styled the book shelf with cute magazine holders, frames (which have photos from our wedding and five year anniversary when we renewed our vows in Vegas) and vase from Home Goods, and an ethnic looking chest from At Home.

The heavy brown chest at the end of the bed was replaced with this beautiful grey one from Home Goods.  The large artwork was a steal on clearance for $6 at Big Lots.  I got the smaller art from Target.  And of course there is the gorgeous bedding from Bed Bath and Beyond styled with pillows from At Home.  

My desk was finally neat, tidy and nice-looking.  I had everything except for the yellow vase that I got at Michaels.  

The other small artwork is also from Target.  

The night tables proved to be the most difficult to get "just right," but I found these on Amazon and replaced the knobs with cute ones from World Market. They are perfect! 

And I finally had a cute sitting area!  The chair and curtains are from World Market, the pillow is from At Home and the table is from Home Goods.  

I absolutely love the finished product!  It is exactly what I wanted, and I couldn't be prouder. It is so much easier to keep the bed made and the room free of clutter now.  I often find myself sitting in bed at night smiling as I look around at my beautiful made-over bedroom.  My mood is instantly lifted when I am in the room now.  It is so peaceful and comforting to be surrounded by beautiful things that say: Brittany.

And I saved the best part for last:

Long after the things in this room are put in the trash or passed on, what I learned about God while giving my bedroom a boho chic makeover will last forever.

I learned that God is a good, good father.

He cares about the things that we care about.  He wants to make us happy by giving us things that bring us pleasure no matter how small they might seem.  We actually didn't have the money to allow me makeover my bedroom due to unexpected medical bills and other expenses that came up that month.

But God….

The day that my husband, Ashton was going to have to tell me that we would have to put off the bedroom project due to lack of finances, a rather large, unexpected check arrived in the mail minutes before he planned to tell me.  I believe that because we are faithful and tithe, God protects our finances and provides everything that we need.  The Bible says that if we delight ourselves in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) and God knows how to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11).  He knew that the desire of my heart was to have a beautiful place I could call my own and He provided the means to do so!

A little while after my room was complete, I was doing my quiet time with God and I prayed that He would give me His perspective of my life and of me.  I felt that He said, "Look around you.  Look at the bedroom that you made look so beautiful.  I created you with a gift to make things better--to make them beautiful."

I just love the heart of our Father God.  In my bedroom project, God gave me both what I wanted and what I needed.  I wanted to give my bedroom a super-cute makeover, but what I needed even more was to see that God created this desire within me, and that He cares about me enough to give it to me--exceedingly, abundantly more than anything I could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Saturday, April 9, 2016

God, Help Me to Be a Good Mother

Lord, I need your peace, comfort and strength to be a good mother. 

That was my prayer as I began to journal.  And as I got the word “good,” I stopped dead in my tracks.  I was reminded of this scripture:

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good (Luke 18:19 NLT).

If Jesus didn’t even consider himself good (even though he was perfect), what sense does it make for me to try and be a “good” mother?  Actually, let me be honest.  I want to be a perfect mother.

I want to always respond to my children in a calm and loving manner, taking every opportunity to patiently teach them and train them.  If I don’t explain something with the utmost grace and gentleness, I feel incredible shame and guilt.   God forbid I snap and yell or threaten to spank their butt [and do it] or take away all her toys [and do it] if she can’t stop throwing them all in the floor. 

I want to always engage with them or lead them into independent play, so that mommy can get something done.  Every time I turn on Netflix, I shutter with disgust and thus begin the relentless accusations about my laziness as a mother and how my children’s brains are rotting as they spend more time in front of a screen.

I want to always make sure my children eat healthy foods and try new foods out.  To do this I [try to] limit sugar and processed snacks like Goldfish.  But it never fails, and out come the Goldfish as I vow to never buy more once they run out.  And then I do, of course, the next time I am at the grocery store. 

I want to always take time to enjoy my daughter’s expert stalling techniques before bed instead of rushing through the bedtime story just so I can climb into bed and escape into my novel for a while. 

I used to think that I was a bad mother if I gave my baby formula or any non-organic food of any kind.  Then I came to the realization that bad mothers don’t feed their children at all; good mothers do.  My simple desire to be a good mother made me a good mother.  After all, I loved her extravagantly, clothed her, fed her and protected her. 

Yes, this is all still true, but God is taking me to a deeper level of understanding what it is to be a mother and how to surrender to motherhood. 

Some synonyms for the word mother are: look after, care for, protect, nurse, tend.  I do all of those things and much more for my children, so why am I praying for God to help me to be a “good” mother?  I have already established that I am a good mother.  There is not debating that.  I would say that I love my children more than any other mother ever has loved their children, but then again all mothers feel that way.  

As with everything in life the answer to our problems is because we believe a lie in place of the truth.  Whether it is the world of social media that we live in or listening to the opinions and judgments of others, we are believing a lie in some way or another.  The father of all lies is Satan.  When we even engage in a conversation with him or listen to those thoughts that sound like us or someone we know (when they do in fact belong to Satan), we have already lost.  But when those thoughts come, and we refuse them and cling to the truth—that we are dearly loved and chosen, that we can do all things through Christ, that God’s plans for us are for good, we win. 

Satan can even sneak into the motives behind our prayers like he did for me with out me even realizing it. After all, it is a noble and honorable thing to ask for God's help to be a good mother.  But, I needed a shift in perspective to truly release me to experience freedom and God's goodness.  

Now, instead of praying for God’s peace, comfort and strength to be a good mother, I will pray simply for more of God’s Spirit for my current assignment which is to be mother.  To quote Chris Tomlin’s song, He truly is a good, good father and I’m loved by Him.  My quest should not about being a good mother, but rather about resting in my identity as a beloved daughter of the Most High God who happens to be chosen to mother two of his other precious daughters.

God, thank you that I am a simply a mother to two of the most beautiful, sweet and incredible girls.  You are good.     

Saturday, September 6, 2014

You Are Not Who You Currently Are

God, help me to get my eyes off of myself and on the cross.  

What does that even mean?  

It means to trust that Jesus died for me.  While I was a sinner, he died.  I did nothing to earn or deserve it.  Nor can I do anything to earn or deserve his grace and mercy and love today.  I am free.  

The cross summed up in one word is freedom.  It was because of love that God sent his only son to die.  But to me, freedom is the manifestation of that love in my life: Freedom from sin and its consequences.  Freedom from my own negative thoughts.  Freedom to be who God created me to be.  Freedom from condemnation when I fall short, which I always will.  Not a picture perfect model.  Not a perfect clean house.  Not a perfect mom or wife.  My kid may throw fits,  I may overreact with my husband, and I may berate myself in my thoughts.  None of that matters because it doesn’t really matter when compared to the infinite value of knowing Jesus.  He offers me freedom from those things so that I can enjoy my life.  

Life may be messy, but I am not a mess.  

Jesus is bigger than your current reality.  

I’m going to say that again: Jesus is bigger than your current reality.  

All of those things that we hate in our lives and about ourselves fade away.  Jesus and the cross eclipse them so they can not be seen when you take your eyes off of yourself and look to the cross.  They may never go away while we are on this earth because we live in a fallen world, in broken bodies, but one thing that is true is that the imperfect will fade away when the Perfect comes.  Jesus is perfect.  

So stop trying to be perfect.  Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect.  Stop analyzing everything.  Stop seeing yourself from other’s judging eyes and start seeing yourself as God sees you.  When you look in a broken mirror the image reflected back is broken as well.  Stop looking in a broken mirror to tell you who you are.  Start looking to God who is the perfect reflection to tell you who you are.  You are not who you currently are. Let that sink in.  You are not who you currently are.  So stop looking at yourself and start looking to the cross.  

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him (Romans 5:6-8 MSG).

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up (Hebrews 12:2-3 NLT).

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law (Gal. 5:1 NLT).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).

But when completeness comes, what is in part disappears… now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:10,12 NIV).

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One) (Philippians 3:8 AMP).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Psalm 139

Last night I read Psalm 139 in a new way.  I deeply thought about the truth of how God feels about me, and God's love and acceptance washed over me like never before.  For the first time, I think, I truly felt His love.  Today, I personalized the psalm in first person.  My thoughts and confessions are below in between the verses of the psalm, which is in italics.  I hope and pray that it blesses you as much as God has blessed me in doing it.  Oh how he loves us!  Oh how he loves ME!  

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.

I am known because I am important and you care about me.  You haven’t forgotten me or ignored me.  In fact, you know me better than anyone! 

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
             You know my thoughts even when I’m far away..

You care about every little and seemingly insignificant part of my day.  You understand my emotions—even when I don’t. You know my deepest desires, regardless of my actions.  No matter where I am in life, if I am close to you in obedience or far away in stubborn, selfish disobedience, I am still your daughter and you care about what I am thinking about, good or bad. Even when I am far from you due to my own choices, you know and care about what I am worrying about.

 (3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. NASB)

You get me!  You not only get me, but you pay especially close attention to where I am going in life—even if it seems to me I am going nowhere.  You know all my struggles, quirks, challenges, hang-ups, and disappointments, but you also know my dreams, hopes, loves and desires. 
4 You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.

You know me so well you complete my sentences!  You help me use self-control to only use my words to build up instead of tearing down. 

5 You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

You lead me and guide me.  But even when I get out in front of you and try to do things my way, you follow me to guide me back on track so that you can bless me. 

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

Your ways are far above my ways.  There is no way I can figure out what you know and how you know it and how you work in my life—so I shouldn’t even try.  I just need to trust you and stand in awe of your ways. 

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.

You are everywhere I go because you are a part of me and I am a part of you.  Even if I am feeling weak and like a failure, and I make my life in a dark pit I created, you follow me there to give me strength and bring me home. 

(11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me. And the light around me will be night, NASB)
12  but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

I get so overwhelmed with my problems and circumstances, I feel like they will surely consume me.  I feel like the light you have called me to be no longer shines and a shadow is cast by my life instead, leaving me to a joyless existence.  But no matter helpless I feel you are not overwhelmed by my problems and uncertainties.  You will find me in the depths of darkness and depression and help me shine my light again. 

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

You made every part of me special—my personality, my heart, my emotions.  You created me to be good.  There isn’t one single thing wrong with me.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

I am the way I am because you made me that way!  I’m thankful that I am so complex and passionate.  Who wants a robot!?  Everything that you make is good, especially me. 

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

When I was all alone being made in the darkness of my mother’s womb, you were there delighting in how wonderfully I was coming together. You’ve designed every part of me and my life to be good for me.  Nothing that I’ve done in life has surprised you or disappointed you because you knew it would happen.  You’ve been in control all along!  And you always will. 

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

You think about me constantly.  You can’t get me out of your mind.  Everything that you do, you do for me because you are thinking about me.  Nothing else even compares to how much you think of me.   

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

There’s an enemy out there after my soul because he hates how much you love me and bless me.   He wants to kill every good thing that you’ve created in me.  He lies to me about myself, my life and you.  I hate the devil and his lies and everything he stands for.  I will wage war against the lies, God, but I need your help.  Please rescue your daughter from his evil plans. 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Look deep into my being and calm my anxieties, fears, insecurities and doubts—the things that hurt too bad to even mention, things so deep that I don’t understand.  Show me where I do not trust you.  Show me what lies I believe about myself and about you.  Show me the parts of my flesh that you never intended on being there, so I can repent and be as pure as the day you created me.  Gently hold my hand and guide me back to the blessed life you created me to live.  Restore me back to your love.  

                                                       (Psalm 139 NLT, unless otherwise noted)

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Day Noelle was Born

I had just got done working a very long week of teacher in service.  I didn’t do much but sit, but it was a big change from taking it easy at the house all summer, sleeping in, taking naps and cooling off in the pool.  It was the end of my 35th week of pregnancy.  I was in so much pain—my lower back, hips, and abdomen.  I’d resorted to using a heating pad in August in Texas if that tell you how desperate I was.  Friday finally came and I was so glad to have the weekend ahead of me to rest and get stuff ready for the baby.  I still needed to pack the hospital bag and go to the store to get the remaining things I needed. I even had a massage scheduled on Saturday!  This was going to be a productive and restful weekend! 

But God had other plans…

Friday night at midnight I woke up to my water breaking, but I was one of those women who for some reason didn’t realize it.  I was currently getting up at least 3 times during the night to pee so I thought that I might have peed on myself because Noelle was right on my bladder.  I went to the bathroom, but it kept on coming out at so I just tucked a wash cloth in my panties and tried to go back to sleep.  I didn’t think I could be truly going into labor because I was barely 36 weeks, my bag wasn’t packed, and I didn’t have any contractions.  I did have cramps, but I’d been having all sorts of pain down there so I just took some Tylenol, not thinking anything about it.  Furthermore, I didn’t want to go to the hospital!  This could not be it!!  All I wanted to do was sleep. 

But first I did what any normal person would do.  I had to google it.  All I got was a confusing bunch of responses on how to tell if it was truly your water breaking.  Typical.  After googling something, I am only more lost.  Finally, I woke up Ashton.  

“I think that my water broke, but I don’t have any contractions,” I said.
“No, I don’t think that’s what it is.  It’s this other thing that the Prepared Childbirth class told us about that you’d think is your water breaking,” Ashton said.
“I don’t remember, but I guess that you’re right,” I said, thinking that I haven’t been able to remember anything in quite some time.  Surely he has more of a brain than me at this point. 

We prayed together and went back to sleep.  It was pretty frustrating trying to sleep with all of this fluid gushing out of me, so I kept on having to change out the washcloths.  (Stupid?  Yes.  But don’t judge.  At least I wasn’t one of those girls you hear about who give birth and didn’t even know they were pregnant! Sorry if one of those girls is reading this.  But seriously, you didn’t even know you were pregnant?!)

In the morning Ashton got up to run and I stayed in bed to sleep in.  Ashton came back in to tell me that he’d talked with his friend, Brandon on his run who’d confirmed that his wife had the same thing happen, but it wasn’t her water.  They had diagnosed me.  I was definitely not in labor.  Hmmm, I thought.  That’s weird. 

Ashton left again to take Nola for a walk and I got up out of bed to call the doctor’s office just for a piece of mind so that they could tell me about this mysterious other thing that happens that is exactly like your water breaking but isn’t.  I told them what had happened and they said to go to Triage at the Hospital immediately.  I was going to have a baby today.  My stomach tightened and my chest got heavy.  Oh. My. Gosh. 

I’ll never forget the emotions that swept over me.  I was half doubting, half scared and half excited.  Would this really be the day that I gave birth?  Will they just send me back home?  It was not like I’d planned at all.  I didn’t even feel any contractions!  I called Ashton to come back home and said we had to go to the hospital.  I called my mom and told her that we were going to the hospital and she said she’d meet us there. 

I started crying as the emotions overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t think.  I tried to start packing my bag and went into the bathroom to straighten my bangs.  I was actually about to put on some makeup.  Ashton came in.  “What are you doing?” he said.  “I will straighten my bangs,” I said, daring him to try and stop me.  “And my bag’s not ready.”  “We’ll come back for it,” he said.  “Ok, let’s go,” I said.  “Just let me straighten my bangs first.” 

We got in the car.  Why was he driving so slow?  I started to get angry and worried that we’d waited so long.  I was hoping and praying that Noelle was still ok.  Did she have enough fluid still in there to keep her alive?  I could still feel her move, so that gave me some peace.  My sisters were texting how excited they were.  I texted back, not to get too excited yet.  This wasn’t it.  It couldn’t be.  I just knew they’d send me back home. 

We finally made it to the hospital and I calmly walked into Triage and told them that I think my water broke.  I filled out some paper work and changed into my gown.

After my exam they confirmed that my water had broken.  I will not cry, I thought to myself.  I will not cry.  I will cry.  And I did.  Oh wow.  I’m about to have my baby. 

I guess I was going to have to call and cancel my massage today after all.  

When I got to my room, we started talking about pain medicine.  I was only dilated a little bit, not even a centimeter yet.  They were worried about infection since my water had broken so long ago.  It had been 9 or 10 hours at this point, and I wasn’t dilating so they were going to give me pitocin to speed things up.  They asked if I was getting an epidural.  I said yes, but not right now.  They told me that the pitocin would really get my contractions going and if I was going to get one, I’d better go ahead.  Oh no, I thought.  This was one of the other things I’d googled a lot.  I was afraid that getting an epidural too soon would stall the labor.  I thought I wouldn’t be able to push.  Frankly at this point I was more concerned that I couldn’t eat anything all day. Oh well.  Let’s do this.

I ended up getting the epidural right away since they assured me it wouldn’t slow down labor because of the pitocin— and I didn’t want to feel those contractions!  Right then all I felt was moderate cramps.  And that’s basically the most I felt as far as pain is concerned.  So if you are going to get an epidural, but have any reservations about getting it too early, don’t.  It’s pure heaven.  And if I wasn’t already married, I probably would have tried to marry the anesthesiologist. 

Finally at 4:00, I was ready to push.  Luckily, I could feel the contractions, but not the pain, so I knew when to push.  I was so thirsty, but barely had time between pushing to munch down a piece of ice that Ashton gave me.  I kept thinking, how is this supposed to even happen?

After 30 minutes of pushing, Noelle was born.  I will never forget how wonderful that felt—what a relief and release!  I instantly started to cry.  My baby was here!  They laid her on me and I didn’t even care that she was all messy.  I kissed her so many times and kept exclaiming, “You’re perfect, you’re so perfect!”  My baby angel girl had arrived!  Noelle Celeste Prejean, 6 lbs. 7 oz. 18 ½ in, was born at 4:29 P.M. on August 18, 2012.  Our lives will never be the same! 

Things started to die down and I was finally able to eat.  They had taken Noelle to the nursery and I was the only one in the room as I ate—just me and my thoughts.  It was so peaceful and I was so happy.   Did this all really just happen?  It was all so surreal. 

I finally got moved to my recovery room, but they still had Noelle in the nursery.  She had some fluid in her lungs and were keeping her in there for a while for X-rays and exams.  Finally after 9 P.M. they brought her to my room. After I got to see my baby again, it felt like all was right in the world.  They kept her in the nursery over night for observation because she was making a grunting noise and because she was a late preterm baby. 

I was so exhausted, I barely remember the rest of the night.  I had to ask Ashton if they even brought her to me to breastfeed.  Which they did, I was just so tired I couldn’t remember.  At that point, deciding to sleep for 8 more hours instead of going into the hospital at midnight when my water broke seemed like a pretty good decision. 

The next morning, they brought her to me, and I got to keep her in my room.  We were finally able to bond!  We cuddled and practiced breastfeeding.  I was able to care for her all on my own!  She slept the night in my room and I enjoyed every bit of waking up to feed her.  It was just her and me…and Ashton asleep on the couch :).  I loved watching her sleep on me—a perfect angel. 

The next day, the nursery nurse came in.  I couldn’t wait to tell her how good she was doing.  She had other news to give. 

They were taking my baby to NICU.  Her blood sugar was low and she was still grunting.  They were worried about an infection.  I could feel the hot tears begin to form in my eyes as my nose burned.  My heart had been broken.  “Do you have to take her now?” I asked.  She said yes.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I had been so glad that even with Noelle being born 4 weeks early, she was healthy enough to go to the regular nursery instead of NICU at first. 

Having to give my baby up like that after we had spent time loving on each other was terrible.  I know that this was what was best for her, but it tore me up.  I held it together for a little while, but after the nurse wheeled my precious Noelle out the door, I lost it and just wept.  I felt so empty—so helpless. 

I went to NICU every 3 hours to visit Noelle and spent at least 2 hours in there, feeding, pumping, changing, holding. . .wishing, praying.  I’d go back to my room for a short time to rest and then go back.  I was exhausted.  I was tortured.  I lay in bed and looked at the pictures I had of her from that day when we bonded.  I cried all night that night. 

The 24 hours that Noelle was in NICU was the longest and some of the most horrible moments of my life.  I know that other parents have babies in there for weeks and have to go home with out them.  I don’t know how they do it.  I hated seeing my baby hooked up with all of those wires.  I hated having to leave my room to go down there to see her and feed her.  The worst part was feeling like my baby wasn’t my baby at all.  I couldn’t wait to go home with her.

After 4 days in the hospital, we could both go home!  Noelle ended up not having an infection, but I’m glad that we took the precautions.  The day she was born was probably the best day of my life, but the day we went home would be a close second.  This is where our story would truly begin.  We would start this amazing journey together as mother and daughter!  The gift I’d always wanted.  God has truly given me the desire of my heart.    

Noelle, you amaze me.  You are such a sweet angel.  Everyone says how beautiful you are and what a doll you are.  They’re right.  But you are so much more.  You’ve stolen my heart and I’ll never be the same.  You’ve come so far and learned so much in such a brief period of time.  You’ve taught me so much too—like how to be patient when you need me in the middle of the night--again.  Even though it’s hard to lose so much sleep, I treasure holding you and comforting you back to sleep.  I will never stop loving you or praying for you.  I can’t wait until I can braid your hair and paint your nails.  I’m going to love playing dress up with you, going shopping with you and teaching you all about style.  It’s going to be great when you and I can talk and talk for hours about anything.  I am honored to be your mommy, Noelle.  I love you more than words can say…more than you’ll ever know.  

Getting ready to have a baby!!

Presenting Noelle Celeste Prejean! 


Love at first sight! 

Proud parents 

I can't stop looking at this angel! 

Taking it all in

I love my mommy's kisses! 

Sleeping Angel

Cuddle time 
About to go HOME!!!!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Resolution for 2013

 As this year draws to a close, we are all thinking about the past year—about our sorrows: the things we’d like to do differently and about our joys: the things that made the year worth living.  We talk about New Years Resolutions because we believe in fresh starts.  We believe that God makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).  

But why is it that we think that after a certain year or age that we will magically be changed?  I stopped having real New Years Resolutions a while back because they never worked.  I never was able to stick with it to make the change. After all, how can I fail if I don’t ever make a goal?  I think that I always failed eventually because I tried to rely on my own efforts to change.  True change doesn’t come from trying hard or our good intentions.  It comes from God.  We know this, but as with all of God's Ways, it is easier said than done.  

One of the most profound things that God has ever told me is (Who am I kidding?  When God speaks, it’s all profound!) that just because I want something doesn’t mean I’ll get it.  I want a good marriage.  But if you wish in one and you know what in the other, see which one fills up first.  Wanting does nothing unless you surrender and do things God’s ways. 

This New Year of 2013, the only thing I want more of is God.  I want His Presence and His Peace.  His word tells us that we already have these things—“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalms 16:11 NLT).  All we have to do is Trust that He will do what He says. 

So as 2012 comes to a close, just like everyone else I will think about the past year—about my sorrows: the things I’d like to do differently and my joys: the things that made this year worth living.   I will look forward to 2013 with great expectation as an artist looks at a blank canvas—full of possibility.  The only resolve that I will make is to seek His Peace and His Presence above all else because in His Presence our problems and circumstances don’t seem to matter as we fill our lives with the fullness of His Joy.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Treasure the Trials

What an amazing journey this first year teaching has been! It’s still not over yet, but I am feeling the need to reminisce and process what I can so far. I have felt God so much in the midst of trials, tribulations, and overwhelming stress this year. What has been even more overwhelming though is God’s love and will for me.

So many answered prayers mark this year. First, I got a job—one in teaching—during a difficult economic time when teachers were getting laid off left and right. And the people I work with are absolutely amazing! Everyone loves God. I have been very encouraged this year, and it helps to have people you can confide in who share your same beliefs. Not only that, but they all have a great sense of humor! Laughter has really kept me going! My principal Donna Hart has been such a mentor this year. Her gentle spirit has taught and encouraged me. I feel like she really understands me and truly appreciates my hard work. Not only that, she is super fun! My assistant principal Matt Daniels reminds me of what Jesus is like. He is gentle, kind and wise beyond his years. It has been a blessing beyond anything I could have imagined to work with these wonderful, godly people. I thank God every day for the people he has place in my life to help me travel this path. Though it has been bumpy and twisted, they never criticized or cut me down. I of course cannot forget Dr. George, our superintendent who has been such an inspiration to us all. Although I don’t get to work with her as closely as I do the principals and other teachers, I feel her fervent prayers in a real way. I deeply respect her hard work and dedication to Newman. All of the good that has come our way has come because our leader trusts and fears God.

The best thing of all, of course, is that God has also chosen Ashton and me to be blessed with the promise of a child! I am beyond overwhelmed as I think about the reality of the gift he has place inside of me. Still, being pregnant with my first child has presented additional challenges in an already stressful and exhausting situation, but God has led me the whole way—a way I did not know. I don’t know how I managed feeling sick and exhausted, but I kept going because God was holding my hand. I will never forget how on our first day back of the New Year for teacher training, everyone gathered around me and prayed that God would bless me with a child. We found out that I was pregnant only a few weeks later! How big is God!? And who gets to work with people like that outside of ministry?! The students and staff have been so supportive and excited for us as their eyes have been unceasingly upon my growing belly! It’s such an incredible blessing to share in the joy of a child on the way with such wonderful people.

This year the enemy, however, has come against me strongly and attacked me with anxiety and fear. He has sent gossipers and naysayers to try and destroy my spirit, but I know that I do not get my identity from approval from the others. God is well pleased with me and that is all that matters. I know with out a doubt that God will complete the good work that He has begun in me (Phil. 1:6), specifically as this school year draws to a close. I have learned that I can’t do it all, and I can’t do it all perfectly. God has completely filled in the parts that I was unable to. He is beginning to teach me about what really matters in life and how to have joy in unfavorable circumstances. His favor, however, has been upon my life immensely. The comfort and approval heart idols in my life are coming down! God alone is my comforter and worth. Things that once seemed like insurmountable giants in my life--anxiety, fear, emotions and discomfort—are nothing when compared with the peace and understanding that a life with Jesus brings when you fully and recklessly trust him.

I know that I still have much to learn. My life is about to be turned upside down—in a good way! — when we welcome our precious baby in September. I believe that so many of the lessons I have learned this year have been about the baby. God is equipping me as I begin to step out into my destiny. I will treasure this year forever.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Content and Carefree Living

“So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 TMB).

Content and carefree is how we should live if we really believe that God is in control. Therefore, faith is really all that is required of us. But why is faith so difficult, even though it is so simple? The answer is because our feelings are in direct opposition with faith. Faith is not a feeling.

This is hard for me since I am such an emotional being and I go by my feelings as many women do. Going with your “intuition” or feelings can be beneficial, but it can also be detrimental if it gets in the way of our faith, which hinders our freedom. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). The Amplified Bible adds that “faith [is] perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.”

I am willful and passionate. I often go by my feelings and what I want to do or not want to do. My personality does not serve me well when I don’t want to do something. I always fall back on the verse that God will give me the “desires of [my] heart,” therefore, I should get a say in what I want to do. That is partly true, however, the full context of that verse is:

Trust in the LORD and do good; 
dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD;
and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD,
trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:3-5 NASB).

That famous verse is sandwiched in between two other verses that instruct us to “Trust in the Lord” and to “commit you way to the Lord, trust also in Him.” We must trust in him and commit our ways to his ways as Jesus said," not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). We must believe that God’s plans are indeed, “plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future” (Jerimiah 29:11 NIV). We must believe that “ without faith is is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV). We must believe that HE IS. God is…

· In control

· For me

· My rock an my redeemer

· My comforter

· Faithful

· love

· My Father

· Lord of my life

· Good

· The Great I AM

I believe that God does want to reward us with good things, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think [even beyond the desires of our heart], according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV), but I also believe that he first wants us to believe and have faith that He is. That is the power that works in us.

Lord, as the father of the possessed boy cried out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV) so that I can live a content and carefree life trusting in you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

When Trials Come Your Way...

I would like to say the reason that I haven’t written in my blog lately is because I have been utterly consumed with my job and have had no time, although that is totally true. Perhaps the main reason I have not written more is because what I have been going through is so hard and so personal that I hesitated to share it because the feelings were so raw, I didn't know how transparent I could be. Transparency is the best way to be. Let's just start with the facts.

This has been a crazy year.

The year 2011 started off with the planning of my littlest sister’s wedding on May 21. All the while, I am unhappy subbing and looking for full time work and insurance so that Ashton and I could start planning our family. An answered prayer happened May 5th when I was offered a full time teaching job in the fall. We took a much needed 3-week vacation in Florida during the summer. During that time, my other sister found out she was pregnant and Ashton’s grandmother found out she had cancer. There were also personal family issues with which I was dealing. We came back and it was time to get ready for the school year.

Before the job had even started I was unbelievably overwhelmed. Right after the first of the school year, Ashton’s grandmother passed away, a dear friend lost her life to a life-long battle with Cystic Fibrosis at only 26 years old, and I turned 30. I was constantly on the verge of tears that I would cry at anything. I have longed for 30 for so long because to me, it would be the age that I would be able to officially put the insecurity and foolishness of my 20’s behind me. How silly of me to think that I would magically change, as the clock struck midnight on August 29th as if I were Cinderella. God would magically change me, but it wouldn’t be instant, that is for sure.

The past semester teaching has been the absolutely most difficult time in my life--constantly crying, wanting to quit every day. Words do not explain the pressure, stress and emotions that I felt—and still do. I am prone to be dramatic, however I say the following with certainty: My first semester teaching has been far more difficult than my dad passing away suddenly 3 months before I got married. And at the moment it seems more difficult than the torture-filled 3 years I spent battling an eating disorder. If this feeling were to last 3 years than it would with out a doubt be worse. The only thing I can compare the way I feel is to is the 3 years I spent in an emotionally abusive relationship, feeling trapped and powerless while everything in me literally screamed to get out. I am not comparing the situations, but rather the way I felt.

Perhaps the best way to explain it would be how Ashton does. He compares it to an illustration he once heard about a young child who gets a poisonous chemical splashed in his eyes. As his mother and father held his eye open under the water faucet to flush out the poison, he screams, “I hate you, mom and dad, I hate you!” because of the torturous pain. Although his parents knew it was best for their child to get the poison out, they were crying too because it hurt them to see their baby in such pain.

But only I am that child, screaming as God holds me under the faucet to get the poison out of my life.

It was truly the perfect storm: A first-year teacher at a first-year school teaching 6, 7, 8 and 9th grade English with no books, no computers or technology, no white board, no desks, no lesson plans—only a confusing mess of CSCOPE curriculum.

But God…

Only God could orchestrate such a perfect storm. He knows that I have to go through this and deep down inside, I know that God is Lord over my situation. His handiwork is so obvious throughout all of this. I work with the most amazing people. God knew that this would be tough so he has placed me in the company of such a godly group of people to protect and comfort me. Despite the impossible circumstances, my work environment is always positive, uplifting and covered with prayer. The miraculous help that God has sent my way proves that He is leading me by a way I do not know and guiding me along unfamiliar paths. He is turning darkness into light before me and making the crooked places smooth. He is doing these things and He WILL NOT FORSAKE ME (Isaiah 42:16).

Nevertheless, this remains the hardest thing I have ever been through.

I know that it is so hard because I am trying to do all of the things that He wants to do through me. I don’t get how to stop striving and trying so hard because that is all I’ve ever done. Plus, I really am in a real situation that is really impossible. I am not simply making this up. I have a right to feel this way, right? Don't answer that. But how do you just stop trying when you have no clue how to? God knows that if I knew how to, I would take the credit for it and that is not what He wants.

Giving up control happens everyday, in the trenches when the enemy’s fire is relentless and my emotions are out of control.

I will say: I give it to you, God. I trust you. I will be joyful in this moment.

I know that I must consider it pure joy when trials come my way because God is perfecting my faith (James 1:2), but truthfully I look forward to the time that this is all over and I can look back in retrospect at the greatest year of my life. I know that I won’t even recognize myself when this thing is over and for that I must give God praise.