Mommy’s Coming Out!

“Your body went through nine months of radical changes, so give it another nine months to return to normal,” they say.

Those words were much easier for them to say than for me to accept. There was a time when I was an optimistic pregnant balloon. I had the impression that once my baby came out, I’d be back to normal because that’s what they told me.

“Girl, you’re so skinny, you’ll bounce right back after popping that baby out.”

Reality hit when I went in for my 6-week postpartum checkup looking worse than I did when I left the hospital.

Truth: my body is not latex and it did not snap back.

It’s funny now, but postpartum insecurities are no joke. Hormones run wild and emotions follow suit – I haven’t studied it, but I have lived it. I was a new mother spending every day with the most wonderful baby I had ever known. But I tried to cover up vulnerabilities intended to showcase the raw beauty of motherhood.

I found myself insulting my own appearance in an effort to keep my roots underground. It wasn’t even about my body or the fact that none of my clothes fit. I wanted to know that I was doing this thing right, that I could provide this baby with every thing she needed at the time she needed it.

I remember being so nervous to change my baby’s diaper in the mother’s room at church because I would be the one to do that wrong too. Aliyah was my first and we had to learn it all together, teach each other.

I could go on and on about all the inward struggles that have been my life the last nine months, but I don’t think I need to. People close to me would be surprised to hear how ‘untogether’ I still am, but I thank God for that.

He’s the reason I’m able to conquer all my fears. I gave my insecurities to Him and He exchanged them for confidence, joy, peace and so much love. He gave me a stud of a husband to encourage me and an incomparable support system of friends and family to keep me going.

My daughter is nine months today and I can boldly say I’m proud of myself. I feel and look amazing and I’m not ashamed to say it. My body will never be the same, but I like to think it’s better…I’m better.

If you’re going through anything similar, trust the process. Cherish the season that you are in and don’t be afraid to share the unseasoned parts 😉 They’re beautiful and they make us who we are. Cheesy as it may sound, it took nine months for Aliyah to develop before she could see the world and I think it may have taken nine months for this mother to do the same. I’m coming out! (Call me Mama Dre<3)

IMG_15931

Selfless Selfies

disciple. wife. mom. daughter. sister. friend. the list goes on. and on.

This week a friend of mine mentioned that I don’t have any selfies on my Instagram page…so I posted one today!

IMG_1836

This morning I scrolled through my page and asked myself why I have so few pictures of just me on MY account.

Here was the initial assumption: “I must be insecure about the way I look. If I thought I was the least bit of fine, I would want the whole world to see..right?”

Wrong. That had to be wrong. I am terrifyingly not photogenic, but I’ve always been a considerably confident person. I’m not conceited by any means; I simply don’t give energy to what others think, so it had to be something else.

As my mind wandered, I stumbled on a conclusion. My page shows baby..baby..me and baby..me and husband..husband..me and friend..baby..baby because those are the roles that I play. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it!

However, I am learning that it’s healthy to have my own thing. Something that I enjoy doing or a place I enjoy being at or people I enjoy seeing just for me. Just for fun. With this in mind, I’m starting a few projects that I hope to share soon.

If you know me, you know there’s always something deeper I want to acknowledge. It’s great to find hobby or activity that makes you feel good or gives you a sense of fulfillment, but you’ll keep searching your whole life. Everything here on earth is temporary, it won’t last long.

I hear about women who get wrapped up in their business or their marriage or their kids and they lose themselves. I can totally see how they get there. These things bring us so much happiness, but they demand our focus, our time and our strength.

We (as women and as people in general) need to find our lives in something or SOMEONE that gives back. Since I’m the example here, I’ll let you know that I found Jesus. The Bible tells me that if I lose my life I will find it in Him and I have! I actually follow Him in real life.

My lack of self on social media was never intentional. I guess I just post in the moments that mean the most to me and it happens to be with those I love most.

(It could also be due to the fact that I am hardly ever on my phone, therefore making me an inadequate millennial)

The picture is not the goal, but it did remind me of one of God’s many promises. I hope you liked my face and were encouraged by something I said.

More selfies to come my dudes!!

***

“…your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” COLOSSIANS 3:3

Aliyah’s first Day at Work

Aliyah is six months old today!

Today I had to take her to work with me for a few hours and of course I got to thinking…

I love to work. (I have my mother to thank for that quality). I relish any fast-paced workroom and I thrive in the overtime.

Before Aliyah came I worked for a local news station in Oklahoma. The newsroom atmosphere only exacerbated my itch to clock-in.

I worked hard and tried my best to be home for my husband before 11:30 each night.

But then July 12th happened. Jelani and I decided it would be best if I quit my job and stayed home to take care of Aliyah.

MY GOODNESS! My world was rocked. I went from being home for 8 hours (for sleep) to being home 24 hours a day, seven days a week (pretty much). The first few weeks were rough. Very rough.

Most days, it was just me and my girl. Speeding passed the snarling shitzu down the road during our morning walks became the most thrilling part of the day and Sunday church the most thrilling day of the week. (I’m so patient now!)

But let me tell you the good news, it got easier. It actually became a dream come true.

I’ve never had to ask someone else about my child’s day. I have the privilege of experiencing every cry, every babble and every smile. How could I desire anything more?

Of course there are days when I miss feeling my heart race while assigning a breaking story, but there’s something to be said about a heart that knows how to sit still.

I needed such a dramatic shift to truly appreciate this season of my life. I’ve grown immensely in the past six months and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given: to nurture a beautiful girl and provide a warm home for my husband.

After six months, I’m fortunate enough to work part time (at a new job) with the freedom to bring my girl with me. I’m able to help out financially and I’m home by 1 p.m. to serve my family. Long story super duper short: life with these two is pretty freaking sweet!

***

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” ~ James 1:4

First Things Come First

Can my new year start like tomorrow?

I fell asleep on the couch with my teething child last night, I have a pile of unfinished work that was supposed to be done Thursday and I haven’t shaved my legs since like last year (please just laugh). I chose to do laundry over my first morning run, upgraded my Dr. Pepper to a large at Chick-Fil-A and I just placed the softest homemade snickerdoodle cookie* on my ever-protruding gut so I could type.

Today is the second day of the new year and I haven’t even written down one resolution. The fact that I’m writing this post a day late says it all.

This morning I wondered if I was the only one slacking this year. Why this year of all years, when I have the most responsibilities, have I not taken the time to get my life together before the start of 2017.

I looked up the definition of resolution (as in New Year’s Resolution) according to Google. It’s pretty obvious: a firm decision to do or not do something.

We climbed a mountain** today and I realized I do have a resolution. It’s the same resolution I had two days ago and it’ll be the same twenty years from now. My goal is to follow Christ. I made a firm decision years ago to do that and I’m doing it.

And although it may not feel like it at times, my life is together.

I’ll eventually get my body back (somewhat) and figure out how to eat right. I’ll learn how to work more efficiently and finally find time to start writing novels. But I’ve got to have my priorities straight.

This new year has come with a lot of changes. My family and I moved back to California. My husband and I are starting new jobs, which means I won’t be with my sweet baby 24/7 </3.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for what’s ahead. But first things come first.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

 

*My sister made the cookie. If I were to have made them, they would be crunchy and store bought.

**Mt Rubidoux in Riverside. It’s actually more like a hill with a paved walkway, but a girl has got to start somewhere, right?

 

Do you know what I know?

It’s Christmas!

It’s been four years since I’ve spent this holiday with my family. I worked last year and the year before that AND this year happens to be my baby girl’s first Christmas.

Needless to say, there are so many things that have made this day incredibly special this year.

But now it’s coming to an end. Aliyah is in her crib, and there are no more gifts under the tree. In just a matter of hours, it’ll all be over.

The holiday season brings hope (among many other things) and unfortunately for some that hope (whether in presents or Santa or time with family) fades with the sun. Well, I feel an obligation to tell you that it doesn’t have to.

My family and I went to a church service yesterday (Christmas Eve) and the choir sang the well-known carol, “Do you hear what I hear?”

In the song another question was asked, “Do you know what I know?”

I cried. There are so many people in this world, people that I know, my friends and family that do not know what I know. They don’t know the fulfillment I have despite what’s going on in my life. They don’t know that one thing that gives me purpose, the one thing that brings me life.

And so I can’t let this day go by without sharing that one thing that this world needs. He’s the reason for this beautiful giving season and His name is Jesus.

He’s the Messiah, our Savior, and the Lord of my life. We celebrate His birth on Christmas, but it doesn’t end there. He lived on this earth and then died so we could live with Him. He is the only way to God. And He’s the same yesterday, today (on Christmas) and forever.

And so I thank this wonderful holiday, the carols, the ule log and the cheesy movies for yet another rainbow, God’s promise of eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

 

Friendly Neighborhood Walmart Lady

It’s been almost two months since my angel came into this world. Life with her has been different, to say the least. It’s beautiful, but if I’m honest with you, there are days when simply getting through is the goal and beauty is far from a possibility. Believe it or not, there are days when I actually feel worthless. This was one of those days.

I was tired. Aliyah had been up all night— not crying, just up — and she refused to be up alone. (A friend of mine came to visit the week before and it demolished my baby girl’s schedule, so we’re basically starting over now.)

It was the morning after, Labor Day, and the weather was decent, so we decided to grill out. I had to stop by the store, so I ran to the bathroom to throw on some deodorant and grab a hair tie (after all, I was going out in public).

As I rushed toward the door, someone stopped me. I knew this person well, but I didn’t recognize her. Her hair was a mess, her face was pale, and her body offered no rebuttal. Everything about this woman screamed motherhood, and it wasn’t exactly pretty.

Shaking off emotion, I grabbed Aliyah and a few of her things, slipped on some flip flops to complement my gym shorts and headed for the store.

While at the Neighborhood Walmart (which was apparently the place to be on everyone’s day off), I got the usual “she’s so cute” and “wow, all that hair” just about a million times.

I had her strapped to my chest in the gray carrier my brother bought. It made it easier to shop, but the trip was taking longer than expected. Aliyah was getting restless.

She started crying and wouldn’t stop. I found myself more embarrassed than concerned. I bounced for a few minutes, attempting to soothe her.

In a moment of temporary relief, an older woman with long, curly locks walked toward me. She had a similar reaction as all the others when she noticed the tiny feet dangling in front of my torso.

“Oh my goodness. She’s so tiny. She’s gorgeous.”

“Thank you,” I replied, following the queue to look down at my beautiful girl.

“Thank you,” she emphasized as if I had done her a favor. I could feel her eyes trying to catch mine. Not knowing her intentions, I refused the intimacy and placed my hand on Aliyah’s back protectively.

“Thank you for having a baby,” she clarified gently.

My eyes shot up, trying to reconcile, but she had already turned away.

My heart swelled, regretful of the encounter. I wish I had been more welcoming, more happy, cracked a genuine smile at the least. I wanted to sit down with her and explain how blessed I was to have my girl, how she was the best thing to happen to me, how there was no way I would’ve ever not had her.

I kissed my baby. She was the only one that needed to know. She could cry through every shopping trip or make me late for every meeting. I’d take no makeup days and dirty hair for months if it meant I’d have her.

She is my joy, my love, my laughter, my pride and my blessing.

Days like these remind us of our selfish nature. We want more for ourselves than we want for others. Days like these remind us that love is a choice, it requires effort. It requires us to chose someone else before ourselves. Days like these remind us of a promise – love will never fail.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Thanks for the rainbow friendly Neighborhood Walmart lady.

Aliyah Nichole

“Ready..one, two, three, four…”

Jelani’s counting tensed as the big moment drew near. Those 11 hours in the hospital were nothing compared to the 38 weeks of waiting. We thought, we dreamed, we imagined what our precious girl would look like, talk like, act like. And the anticipation multiplied with each deep, strained breath.

I could feel the pressure increase with every push. The once giddy delivery room had quickly been converted to an intimidating childbearing factory.

My husband held my hand and I squeezed tight. This was it, and we both knew it. Sweat dripped from my brow, I gritted my teeth and bore down. A forceful groan expressed my strength but dimmed at the sound of her emerging cry.

She was here.

There were tools and gloves and drugs and towels. There were nurses whirling in and out. They were typing and sewing, disinfecting and talking. But all I saw were her eyes looking right back at me. All I heard was her deep pant indulging in each new breath. All I felt was her vernix-coated skin drawing warmth from my own. Her head on my chest, basking in the familiar rhythm. She owned every beat of my heart.

Aliyah Nichole. It means “exalted, victorious” and I think she knew. Because from that day forward she would be first, and every day after that she would win my love without even trying.

Thanks for the rainbow baby girl.