They said there’d be a glow.

They said there’d be a glow. The only glow I had, I paid $15.95 for at the local drugstore and came in the form of a bentonite clay mask – which I was using to control this outburst of adult acne that accompanied my first trimester. No one tells you that part about pregnancy. The down, the dirty, the reality of the toll growing a human takes on your body. No ones tells you how early the “mom-guilt” starts from not only those around you but even in your own subconscious. 

“Are you sure you want to eat that?”

“Everything you eat goes directly to that baby.”

“I haven’t kept my prenatals down in days, I’m failing my child.”

“Sickness is a good sign, you should be happy about it.”

“Don’t take the nausea medicine, you can handle this, women have been doing it for centuries.”

Guilt. No one told us that this was pregnancy.

During our first ER trip after a couple of days of throwing up – 7 weeks in – I laid on the bed with my eyes closed. Thinking of my husband who I know is exhausted, sitting beside me in the middle of the night, holding my hand while they change the IVs. The one thing that I’ve wanted, dreamed of, imagined my whole life – was the joy and blessing that it would be to carry a child. 

Under the incandescent hospital lights, no one told us that this was pregnancy. 

In this time in a women’s life when I expected to feel the most loved, the most surrounded by God’s grace and the most enlightened as a woman – even through the support of my loving, serving husband, our awesome families and encouraging text messages – I have never felt more alone in my life. I could barely stand the idea of being hugged, let alone snuggled or kissed because I was feeling smothered, not by anything physically around me, but by the pressure of the broken expectations. 

The idea of a social life went something like this: 

“Ya, sure lets get together on Saturday, it’ll be so awesome to catch up!”

Saturday morning: “ya, I’m on day 4 of throwing up, we’re probably not going to make it…”

So I stopped making plans. Soon after, they stopped checking on me too, as if I was contagious. I wasn’t, I was just defeated. 

Defeat. No one told us this was pregnancy.

People would ask how I was doing while at work, church or out and about – my response went from “I’m great, so excited” to “I’m here.” Because getting there was now the best and probably the only thing that I would accomplish on that day. I would pray throughout my whole day “God, do this for me. Be my strength, nourish this child because I’m failing you.” Patrick was praying throughout his days “God, help me support her because I don’t know how anymore. Get her through this because I can’t take this suffering from her.” 

Suffering. No one told us that this was pregnancy.

During our second ER visit – 15 weeks in – after 5 straight days of crippling sickness we finally decided to get the prescription and take the medicine. I cried. I have never felt like I’d failed as much at anything as I did at pregnancy – the one thing that I felt I was made for.

I was one of the lucky ones. At 5 months pregnant and a few weeks into the diclectin, I’m on the mend. Sick days are fewer and far between. I still take my mornings slow and my evenings short, but I am finally feeling a sense of comfort in carrying a child. A comfort that I believed didn’t exist. Everyday I am in disbelief that God continued to nourish our child through days I could not – that after a month of very little food, Tiny continues to grow.

The lessons I’ve learned throughout this time seem endless. I am greatful for the ability to carry this particular child for as long as I have and hopefully as long as needed, when others often miss this experience. I pray everyday that God’s will be done in our lives, as much as others. I can’t wait for the day that I will get to hold Tiny in my arms and share with them how loved they are.

I decided to write this brutally honest piece about my experience, not to depress you or discourage you, but to instead share that even the most wonderful blessings aren’t without their own trials. 

Leaning not on our own understanding is one of the most terrifying yet comforting calls that we could have on our lives.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

God’s Promise


God works in mysterious ways. He shows himself in the places that we’d least expect him, on days that we’d least be looking for him and surrounding moments where he knows that we’ll doubt his plans.

God’s promises are bigger than my own plans, even when they feel smaller. Mine will never compare in greatness. Whatever I believe my worth to be, whether in experience, success or money, or family. I know that my worth to him is much more than any earthly measure.

 My disappointments and failures are part of what He often uses for his glory.

On my drive home from work, I pulled to the side of the road to take in God ‘s reminder of his promises – to love me, to provide for me, to give me hope and a future.

Today, I am disappointed but I am not defeated because He was already there. 

Now The Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom.

– 2 Corinthians 3:17 

Confessions of a creative-minded wife.

confessionsofacreativewife

If you’re anything like me, God gave you a creative mind. Which is such an exciting adventure. Everyday is different, the building excitement of possibilities are endless, and anxiety is an everyday battle.

If you’re anything like my husband, you had no idea what kind of highs and lows you were going to experience throughout your marriage.

When walking through a store, I literally take hours to just look at details of items – I have to pick them up and feel them to get an understanding of what I might use it for, even if I don’t want it. When you see a frame, you don’t just see one, you see of collection of what they could be together, your imagination goes wild with what you could put in them and how they would make a room feel. There is no simple answer and most times I leave a store empty-handed, more confused than when I walked in, especially because I went in for socks.

Sleeping is a challenging part of your day. When you finally walk through your brain shutting each section down and creating a to-do list that will take years to complete, your dreams take over. They are almost like a second reality where you have to wake yourself up multiple times to convince yourself that it isn’t really happening. My poor husband has been woken up more times than not from me trying to get myself out of a dream. But when he wraps my arms around me and says “I’m here, you’re okay”, I drift right back into the next dream. Often times waking up more exhausted than if I hadn’t slept at all. They’re rarely even scary, they’re just real.

Having a creative mind makes things like watching TV insanely challenging. For me personally, I’m constantly looking at the lighting, camera angles and the camera’s focus. In order for me to pay attention to a TV show, I’m almost always doing something else at the same time – I crave multi-tasking. Whether it’s perusing an article, scrolling through instagram, doodling on a piece of paper, or note taking for a blog. My husband always tries to catch me not paying attention but is always taken aback when I can recite the entire conversation we just watched word for word. If I wasn’t doodling – I could not have done that.

Every story that you tell isn’t about the ending of the story – it’s about the journey of how you got there.

Wife: How was your day?

Husband: Great, busy. How was your day?

Wife: Well, I got up, tripped over my charging cord, had a shower, made a smoothie and some coffee, was running sooo late for work I practically jumped in a moving car. At work, this patient said this, and I responded with this, it was so funny. Then on lunch, we couldn’t decide to do… etc.

You get the point. Sometimes, for husband, it’s a bit exhausting. I don’t blame him. Most days I’ll start a story in the morning, forget that I was telling it because it tapered off into another story – and then finish the original one when he crawls into bed at night.

Music has an impressive amount of say in my mood – if it’s too busy when my mind is busy – it can send me into a panic. If it’s too loud when my surroundings are super colourful or overstimulating, I get overwhelmed. My husband’s metal music collection and I aren’t the best of friends.

When anxiety takes over and I can’t talk myself down anymore, I feel like I’m suffocating. I have to clear everything on or around me that’s loose fabric and assume the fetal position. When I am in that place, I feel embarrassed that I let it get that far. That I didn’t lean on God when in the depths of my struggles. God comforts me in more ways than one — especially through my husband, who gets down on the floor with me and talks me back to him.

I constantly live on the edge of sheer joy and depression, teetering back and forth. Everyday is a balancing act. I am my own worst critic. I hold myself back because I’m so worried about who I am not, that I forget to take joy in who God created me to be.

Creative, unique, cheerful, compassionate, humorous, joyful, energetic, loving, and most importantly, to serve Him.

Will you let me pray for you

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray for all of the creative-minded women out there. You created us all so similar yet so different. I pray that we will seek you in the joys and the struggles. That we will feel your presence in our day-to-day lives. I pray that you will bless each of our relationships so that they will grow deeper with you. I pray for our husbands who meet us where we need them too, in the middle of our sunshine or the middle of our storm. Thank you Father, for loving us unconditionally.  

In your name,

Amen.

Let go, fear less, trust more,

B.

The Darth Vader to your Audrey Hepburn

Amanda Arch Photography

Amanda Arch Photography

Last week, we had our good friend Zach over, who asked my husband and I a simple question:

“What do you wish that you knew about each other before getting married?”

Our question was specifically about each other, but it got me to thinking. We just passed our first wedding anniversary, what would I tell to newly married or engaged women that I have learned within our marriage as well as from those around us. I am choosing not to title this a “what I wish I knew…” post, because I don’t want it to have a negative connotation. None of these things would ever have changed my mind about marrying my dear Patrick, but have been building blocks to our relationship. This blog is a very honest blog post, a little window right into our hearts.

Upon making my list, I also asked Patrick to make one for newly married or soon to be husbands. I thought this might be an interesting comparison.

To the soon-to-be married women:
  1. Thinking about two people, all the time, is exhausting. Every decision that you make, all the sudden has another person’s desires and opinions attached to it – it takes work to find a balance. Lord, help me when we multiply.
  2.  Don’t be afraid of sex. This might seem like an unexpected one to some people. But sex, when outside of marriage carries a heavy guilt and burden on a struggling heart, it’s hard to come to the understanding that God has created you, as husband and wife to KNOW each other, intimately and otherwise. Everything that you learned in the much more conservative church upbringing about being a sin to “want” for, is all the sudden encouraged and expected (in a positive way). It’s challenging to wrap your head around the switch in mindset, but trust in the Lord, because he knows your heart and your husbands.
  3. The first fight will likely be a big one. If it’s anything like ours, pillows will be thrown, doors will be slammed, tears will be cried (and probably all of those by you). Don’t doubt your strengths as a couple. It is not the be all and end all of fights – and it was likely caused by something as simple as a dirty dish.
  4. In a world of social media and quick text messages at your finger tips – trust, transparency and honesty are key – and by key, I mean, non-optional. We’ve been very open with each other since day one, and it has saved us while we’ve watched other couples without these crumble.
  5.  Your fridge will constantly be in disarray since you both put the milk in a different spot.
  6.  However open you thought that you were with your spouse before, there is a whole new level when it comes to marriage. There will be days when you think that you spouse is the grossest human being – and vice-versa. Mostly the other way around though, as girls poop doesn’t actually smell like roses.
  7. As a wife you must be fearlessly prepared to call anyone at anytime. As your husband, once signing the marriage license, may experience selective amnesia on how book any sort of appointment. I remember one time, he asked me to book a hair appointment for him… while he was holding his phone in his hand – that was the last time that he ever asked me to book a hair appointment for him.
  8. Pray more than you fight. If you have a day where you bicker all day long, pray just same, and then all the next day.
  9. The fruits of the spirit are challenging to live by. I always seem to forget about the self-control one… Don’t forget about self-control.
  10. Kiss him as much as he desires, and then a little more.
  11.  One day, you’ll wake up next to your deep sleep breathing, snoring husband – and realize that you’ve found the perfect Darth Vader to your Audrey Hepburn.

Patrick’s list is a little shorter than mine and straight to the point – which fits perfectly into who we are as a couple. He starts out with some sweet words of wisdom (“He’s so dreamy” I think to myself, as I blush and fan my face.)

Don’t get caught up in the media’s perspective on marriage, it’s important to separate yourselves from that. Take a step back to evaluate marriage through God’s perspective, your perspective and your wife’s perspective – then come together with a marriage that is unique to you as a couple. A strong marriage is 100% from each spouse, not 50/50.

  1. Cleaning the house is both your responsibilities.
  2. Bobby pin infestations. They are everywhere.
  3. You don’t have a side of the bed that is yours anymore.
  4. Collecting China is a thing and cabinets are required to store it.
  5. Blackened bananas shouldn’t be thrown out, they should be frozen for banana bread.
  6. Anything you wish to purchase must pass the “but do you need it?” question. Anything she wishes to purchase should not be questioned.
  7. There are several ways to do things. Your way isn’t the only way.
  8. She will have a stash of candy somewhere in the house. Leave it alone, she knows the exact quantity of each item.
  9. She does not have to like your sports team, and will quite often cheer for whatever colour she’s “feeling” that day.
  10. You’re no longer deciding for one, but for two. Always take her thoughts and feelings into consideration when trying to make any decision, serious or otherwise.

Right away you can see the difference in our perspectives as husband and wife. Mine is very much a list about dealing with emotions and all of the “feels”, where his is more of a “dude, this is how it is” list. Our first year of marriage has been relatively easy in comparison to some other stories that we’ve heard, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t take a lot of work to get to where we are today. The Lord has worked heavily in both of our lives in the past year while adjusting to life as a team. It is a journey of 100/100 and we’ve just begun!

Dear Heavenly Father,
I life up each and every one of these new marriages to you. I pray that they will fall deeply in love with you Father, to seek you in the joys and the hardships in their marriage. I pray that you will cover them with your grace in abundance and bless them in the years ahead.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Jeremiah 29:11 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

#freethemomjean

Mom Jeans.

Mom Jeans.

I walk by a popular clothing store and they are taunting me with their “low as can be rise and skinny as chopsticks” fit and fashionable jeans.

They’re saying, “Awwww, hey girl, you know you’ll look good in these jeans, you’ve still got your youthful figure.” I think for a moment to myself, take a glance at my behind in their large reflective windows and decide that I would, in fact, look fantastic in those jeans.
I waltz in, select a variety of sizes because let’s be honest, each store is different.
I am led to the change rooms by a fashionista with a large smile on her face who says “I love the fit of these jeans, so flexible…” I nervously smirk in return.
I am alone. I start to slither into the size I was the last time I shopped here, maybe 6 years ago?
This is my thought process.
  • Are these real pants? – as I unroll the skin-tight jean up the calves
  • They weren’t kidding when they said chopsticks
  • The size must be numbered wrong
  • Did my knees gain weight? Is that even possible?
  • These are supposed to fit human legs right?
  • Onto the next size
  • How am I a different size than I was 6 years ago when I am currently still wearing the last pair of pants I bought here…
  • Whew, up to the thighs this time – take that knees!
  • They should offer yoga here
  • Breathe in, breathe out, downward dog, breathe in, button up annnddddd relax.
  • These are clearly not getting past these thunder thighs
  • Maybe if I tuck them into the jeans while I jump?
  • Uhmm, no. Never mind.
  • Did I just hear a rip?
  • Next size, last ones
  • Is that the cost of the jeans or the item number?
  • Up the calves, these are waaaay too long.
  • Over the thighs and…
  • ….
  • Wow, when they said lowest of rise, they really meant it
  • Do people’s bottoms actually fit these?
  • How are these remotely flexible?
  • My underwear is covering more of my behind than the jeans
  • People will start using me as a piggy bank
  • These aren’t even real pockets – where am I suppose to keep my snacks?
  • I give up
  • It’s no wonder girls are so confused, they’re being squeezed into these suction tubes that they call jeans
  • Oh goodness, they’ll have to call in the jaws of life to get me out of these
  • Hello?! Help?! Anybody?!

 

I drive home, go into my jean drawer and grab my “mom” jeans. They slide right up  – no tucking, no jumping, no yoga poses, no jaws of life, and my lunch that I just ate isn’t hanging over the edge.

Hello, my name is B, I’m 24 years young and I wear mom jeans
…and I’m a lot more comfortable than you are.
#embracechildbearinghips #embracejeanfreedom #freethemomjean #jeanequality

Dear 16 year old me – A letter I wish I had.

Dear 16 year old me,

B, young
I wish I could go back and make your decisions for you – take that weight off your indecisive shoulders. You’ve always thought of yourself as mediocre, but you’re not. You’re so much better than that. You are beautiful and brave. You are little but fierce (so says Shakespeare).
  • Your relationship with God is the most important. Even though it feels strong right now, you’re going to hit some bumpy passages – keep investing into him. He is your rock, your solid ground, when everything else falls apart – he’s still there.
  • Stop second-guessing yourself. Go and sit beside that guy in stairwell eating lunch alone.
  •  Thick black eyeliner does nothing for your eyes, except make them look smaller and a wee bit Chinese. And for goodness sake, spend time finding a foundation that matches perfectly with your skin tone – you’ll thank me.
  • Thigh gaps don’t exist for girls with thighs and bottoms like us, embrace your body for how God created you – your husband will love it.
  • The friends that you make in high school – despite what everyone says – will be life long friendships. Feed into them more than whoever your monthly crush is. Much to our dismay, we learn the hard way that friendships are way more important than any boy you’ll take interest in or think you need acceptance from. Even your marriage began from a friendship.
  • No guy will ever give you the acceptance that you think that you need. You are perfect in God’s eyes. Remember that, repeat it over and over again – it will save you heartache. When someone makes you feel less than perfect, take a deep breath and walk away.
  • The company that you keep has a huge affect on your happiness. If you hang out with negative people, you will be a negative person – which we know that we are not. So just don’t do it.
  • Don’t chase happiness as your main goal – if you can’t be happy now, you’ll never catch it. So sit down, look at everyone around you, write down the things that you are thankful for, and find contentment (with some adventure of course.)
  •  No, means no. Don’t ever be afraid to say it.
  • Your gut feeling is right. Love everyone, but you’ll know when to be cautious. If you feel anxious (that tummy flipping, gut wrenching panic) about anyone or anything, walk away.
  • Counselling is one of the biggest, most positive steps you can take in your life.
  • A wise man once told me, “If you start to feel stuck in a relationship, that’s your sign to get out.” (NJ) I wish I heard this sooner. If the guy you’re seeing prevents you from investing into your loving Saviour and awesome friends, he’s not worth it. Your husband will bring out the best in you, and fit like a glove in your friendships – as if he’s always been there.
  • DD’ing is always more entertaining then the hangover the next day. Keep it that way.
  • Don’t worry so much, you’ll travel the world.
  • Try not to let the people who tell you that “you must give up your creativity for a future” get into your head – obviously they have no creativity. Just remember that it might take you a couple extra part-time jobs to get you to where you want to go.
  • Lastly, just remember that everything will be okay. High school isn’t forever, although some people have a hard time moving out of that stage – be the one who does. You will be more respected sticking to who you are – your positive, mostly conservative, non-swearing self than you ever will be by conforming to the world’s way.  You can make a difference, even just with one person or one photograph. You’ll learn to communicate almost better through photography than through chatter – let God use the gift that he has given you and give it back to him.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
You can do this. And for goodness sake, PLEASE use a planner and stick to it.
Honeymoon
Love always,
B.
Your 24 year old self

Be Still

You think that those feelings are going to go away. The way that he made you feel when he looked at you with those determined eyes, the words that he used to be demeaning to you echo in your ear. They bring up feelings of fear, disconnection, and doubt in yourself. It’s been years since I’ve seen him face to face.

The days for me are now fewer and farther between. But they still come, the devil still pursues me using the voice that he knows will make me shake. Just a couple of nights ago, I swatted my husband’s hand away from around me while in a dream because in my dream it wasn’t my husbands hand – it was my past – coming to take the life out of me. Despite my freedom in The Lord, the awesome counselling and the change of lifestyle, I realize that the devil is never going to stop pursuing me. He’s never going to stop telling me that I don’t deserve to have made it out the other side. Maybe he’s telling you the same thing.

I’m here to tell you, that you of all people deserve to have made it out of the emotional bondage that he put you in. You matter. Your opinions matter. You are of value on your own. You were created to be courageous. You are fiercely loved by The Lord. You, are a daughter of the King.

The closer that we get with The Lord, the harder the devil is going to fight for us. Be aware, the devil doesn’t always fight in dramatic ways like the movies tell you. No, the devil fights in little whispers. “You’re not as good as you think”, “you hold no value”, “you’re not worth it”, “you’re never going to be good enough, skinny enough or pretty enough to be loved”. He plays mind games.

The Lord stands in front of us, he protects us, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t face these fears, it means, that you won’t face them alone.

This week in our life group we studied the story of Moses, who through the glory of God freed the Israelites from slavary under the Egyptians.  After they were freed, The Lord brought them in plain view of the Egyptians, who came after them. The Isrealites cried out in fear, saying that it would have been easier for them to have stayed slaves then to be brought back after freedom. Moses responded with “The Lord will fight for you, you need to only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) God opened the sea for the Isrealites to cross through, and when the Egyptians followed them, God let go of the waters. If the Isrealites hadn’t turned back and faced their biggest oppressor, they would not have been completely freed.

Jesus paid the price for you for be free from sin. When the devils comes a knocking, The Lord will fight for you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come before you today holding my fear, my doubts, my insecurities and my demons. I pray that you will take hold of my heart and my life. I trust that you will give me the strength in Jesus’ name to fight against my worst oppressor, the devil.  I pray that the whispers in my ears and my mind will be drowned out by your voice, telling me that I need to only be still. I know that you are Lord. Thank you God for wanting me, for loving me, for creating me. Thank you for saving me. Lord, may your will be done in my life.

In Jesus name,
Amen.

Let go, fear less, trust more.

B.