Travel Diaries: San Antonio Re-cap

Pardon the water spots on the mirror.

Hey friends! So, summer showed up! (insert laughing emoji) This dress was my momiform last summer, and I wasn’t disappointed at all when I found it while pulling out all of our summer clothes last week before we took a long weekend trip to San Antonio.

We had the sweetest time there visiting with our family and celebrating my great-grandmother who turned 100 this past Sunday.

We decided to try a couple new things this trip; one being we stayed at a VRBO instead of hotel. My parents generously rented a house for them, our little crew, and my two siblings to stay in (so 6 adults total + 2 toddlers) just around the corner from my grandparents’ (where all of the festivities would be). David and I are completely sold on using VRBO or Air BNB for long weekends going forward- no more hotels. Having a fenced in back yard to stick the kids in was such a blessing (for all affected parties) after our 9 hour car ride. Plus we didn’t have to worry about kids waking up at all hours of the night or coming back to the hotel for naps right when house keeping was in the middle of changing bed sheets.

We also explored the San Antonio Aquarium, which was something none of us had ever done before. It was a great little spot for toddlers since they have so many hands-on exhibits. I would highly recommend it IF you have an hour that you need to fill, and you don’t really want to be outside. I was able to get a Groupon for our tickets, which significantly reduced the price, so check them out before you buy tickets, and don’t plan on spending a whole day there (it only takes 1-2 hours to experience everything) or go on a Friday like we did (aka field trip day aka lots of little crowds).

The kids have talked about the exhibits with the birds and alpacas since we got home as well as a fiesty little tortoise who almost crawled out of his exhibit.

But what’s been really special is all the talking they’ve done about their cousins and family members who they got to spend time with while we were at my great-grandma’s birthday party. My brother (pictured above) mentioned how special, and rare, it was to have a day where everyone (except for two family members who were down with a stomach bug) could come together and genuinely enjoy each others company for an entire day. Not to mention how rare it is to celebrate someone becoming 100 years old!

On our drive home, I kept thinking about his comment. The truth is family gatherings with toddlers are a little overwhelming for us right now. We enjoy seeing family and being with them, but we’re never able to 100% focus on a conversation or even stay the whole time. We usually have to skip out for a bit for naps and most places aren’t 100% toddler proof. (Am I the only one who is terrified someone is going to give my two year old a grape while I’m not looking?) And you’re going to have toddler meltdowns at some point on a trip, so odds are one could very well go down right smack dab in the middle of the family gathering.

So, I wanted to encourage the other mamas (and dads) who know the feeling. I know you’re out there, because many of my friends fall into our boat too. “Is it really even worth it?” is a question I hear posed a lot when it comes to bringing toddlers to social gatherings.

We’re super privileged to have family who GETS IT. Aunts and uncles and cousins who help, grandparents who say when we have to leave early, “It’s ok! Go. Take care of your family.” But that still doesn’t remove all the overwhelmingness that manages to creep in before and during the gathering.

My dad encouraged me a couple months ago to tackle social gatherings (and trips in general) with a man-to-man offensive strategy. I take one kid; David takes another. Sometimes, we have to switch, and sometimes we have to tag another family member to cover for us for a minute. But, we’re still on the same team with the same goal. We usually remind each other what the goal is too before we walk into the gathering. (e.g. We’re here to celebrate Mammaw.) It helps me stay focused and not get so overwhelmed, AND it helps limit directing our frustrations towards each other.

We’re not perfect parents. We don’t have this parenting thing down pat, but this strategy (along with respectful communication) did help a lot at my great-grandma’s birthday party, and we plan to use it from now on while we’re in this stage of life with littles who need so much of our attention.

Some social situations aren’t going to be conducive with toddlers. They’re just not, and it’s 100% ok to skip out. But other things, like great-grandma’s 100th birthday party, are non-negotiable. We’re going to be there no matter what, and I’m grateful for a new tool in the toolbox to limit my anxiety while we’re there. That way, when it’s over, my kids aren’t the only one with fond memories of the occasion.

Do you have a strategy you implement in large social gatherings with your little kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay


ThirdLove Review

This is kind of weird writing a post like this, on a blog like this, but here’s the thing… my heart for this place when I started out on this Ave&Jay journey was to encourage and reach women in whatever stage of life they’re in. And no matter how old or young, a woman’s body image almost always needs some encouragement.

The other day my husband snapped a pic of me making a green tea latte, and when I looked at the pictures, I realized how bad off my body image situation was. I looked at the pictures he’d taken and immediately deleted all of them. There’s more than a dozen extra pounds on me right now, my abs are no where near as flat as they should be, and my thighs are making the thought of white pants after Easter unappealing. But, when I looked at that picture what actually stood out first to me was the situation I had my girls in: another sports bra. A cheap one. It was offering some support, yes, but that was the only positive thing going for it, and it didn’t make up for all the bad it was doing for my appearance.

I made a comment to my mom shortly thereafter about how I only had one “real bra,” which I had been measured for and purchased in my first trimester of pregnancy with my now 3.5 year old. So since then I’d carried to full-term and nursed, for at least a 1yr each, two babies. My body was a yo-yo: pregnant (gain 50lbs), nurse for a year (loose 50 lbs), pregnant (gain 50 lbs), nurse for a year (loose 30 lbs), and here we are almost a year after THAT.

My mother, learning of my situation, insisted, as only a mother can, that I go and buy myself a new bra.

But how? But when? But where would I go with two toddlers in toe??? To be measured by someone who probably doesn’t even know what they’re doing? To spend MORE MONEY on something??? … No. Not going to happen.

Cue ThirdLove. I’d filled out their questionnaire 9 months ago, but since I rarely ever wore the one real bra I had, I didn’t really know how to answer the questions. So I just guessed and assumed the best answer. I knew when the results came that I definitely wasn’t the size they suggested. So, I closed my laptop and made do.

This time around I was prepared with that old bra in hand and answered honestly. No guessing. No, “well, if I answer this way then…” Nope. Just straight up answers. When the results came in, I knew they were right.

I ordered the style of bra ThirdLove suggested for me in the size they suggested, and when the box came in the mail, I looked like a school girl on Christmas morning getting her first pair of pierced earrings.

When I put that bra on, I didn’t want to take it off! It fit better than any other bra I’d ever put on in my entire life. I put a t-shirt on over it and smiled BIG. I looked MUCH better than I had in that picture my hubby had taken. I immediately went to my t-shirt drawer that houses all the old bras in it, dug around for them, and threw them out. Then I ordered another style on the “you might like” list in a different color.

It came in, but after a day of trying to break it in, it still didn’t feel right. I couldn’t believe it when that evening a ThirdLove stylist texted me to see how I was liking my purchases. A few texts back and forth, she had a free exchange all set up for me and a pre-paid return label in my email’s inbox. Y’all, that’s service!!

I’m in the skincare/glamour business, and I’ve seen the power a positive body image gives a woman when she finally finds a foundation that matches or a skincare line that clears up her acne. Well, the same is true for a well-fitting, form-flattering bra!

As I started gushing to a few of my girlfriends about my new discovery with ThirdLove, I found out I wasn’t alone. Almost every other woman I talked to was living in one or two “regular,” ill-fitting bras or mostly poorly supportive sports bras.

So, that’s why I’m sharing my discovery here on a blog that’s about transparent, faith-filled living in every season.

Transparent: Uh, if you don’t know me that well, I was appropriately given a the gag award of “The Nun” during my sorority days. I am the epitome of modest. Showing you pictures of bras I purchased is nearly making me hyperventilate.

Faith-filled: No. But, I will use this section to say, our identity should not be placed in our body image. Our joy should not come from what we look like. Those two things are in and from Jesus. Identity and joy are different than finding yourself being frustrated with not being able to find a comfortable bra that does what your boobs need it to do. So, don’t read this post the wrong way. If you have a great-fitting comfortable bra that you can wear under whatever outfit it is you’d like to wear to church on Sunday, out to dinner Saturday night, all day at work during the week, and while you walk the dog, congratulations! Most of us don’t.

Every Season: Absolutely. No matter what season of life a woman is in, she’s balancing it all: every relationship from marriage to motherhood to best friends to coworkers to family members to her Maker, jobs (she’s most likely got multiple sources of income), finances and budgets (do you know how much time it takes to coupon?), some semblance of self-care, physical fitness (heart disease is real y’all; get your cardio in), etc. Every woman can use every bit of encouragement to take the few minutes it took me with ThirdLove to not only get myself into a comfortable bra, but one that does what it should, and helps me feel better about my appearance on top of that.

So, if you’re in the “I need a new bra” camp, Hi, you’re not alone. Go check these people out. I’m fairly confident they’ll help you find the best one for you.

PS They donate bras to homeless women so they can have this basic necessity met too. Seriously, check ’em out. They’re pretty cool.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Her name is Shame, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can catch up HERE.

And now, part 2. If you’re a Christian reading this, and you choose to continue reading, you may want to do what my dear friend Beth Hollingshead says, “Take your feelings and put ’em in your purse and zip it up real tight.”

The truth is Christians say the worst things to people with depression. And I know because I’ve said them.

I will never forget one day standing in the driveway with a loved one of mine. No one knew she was struggling with depression, and I was the one to witness the first signs of it, there that afternoon. I saw a person who was strong, in every kind of way, a leader in her church, a woman who loved Jesus and served and knew him. And, I, in my naivety said, “It’s going to be ok. You know God’s got it.” And that’s when she began to tear up. A person I’d never once seen get emotional, was about to start crying right in front of me.

Years later, the same kinds of words were spoken over me, and although they were meant to be encouraging, they only made me feel even more foregone.

I’ve explained depression to others as the feeling of drowning- that’s how it is for me. So, in my dark season, I felt like a buoy in an ocean. I knew I wouldn’t sink because I was a buoy, but I also knew I was in a storm, and it had been storming for a long time, and the waves had yet to cease crashing over me. When people make comments to a Christian who is in a place like this, it feels like an enormous weight is pressing down on you and pushes you, the buoy, under the water. It’s a physical struggle to force yourself back up, and when you do get back up, it’s still storming.

Common comments in regards to postpartum depression are…

“Have you tried praying about it?”

“Maybe you should trying joining a small group?”

“Children are a blessing from the Lord. Think about how many women would do anything to have what you have.”

One day I turned on our television to watch an HGTV show and finally eat my lunch while my kids napped, and the TV was turned onto God TV. Yes, for those of you who do not know, there is a channel called God TV. And yes, we try to always leave it on God TV so that way when I turn the TV on to queue up a recorded episode of Daniel Tiger, there aren’t half-dressed women stroking a bare chested soccer player in a cologne commercial on the big screen in front of them. Fragrance commercials drive me batty. But, I digress…

I turned on the TV and was hitting all the buttons on my remote to find one of my recorded HGTV shows, and while I was navigating to it, a female speaker was talking in front of a congregation. I never caught her name, and I’m sure she’s a very nice person, and I’m sure she didn’t mean for what she said to shame anyone, but when she said what she said, my buoy was plunged 20 feet under water.

Basically, what she said was that she believed our society would be a lot less medicated if we were living with the joy the Holy Spirit fills us with.

So what I heard was, “This journey of postpartum depression I’m walking through is my fault. I did something wrong or I am doing something wrong in my relationship with Christ, because obviously, because I take anti-depressant medication, I’m not filled with that joy she’s talking about- I’m filled with depression.”

Christians, please understand something, it is possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have depression at the same time. I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to do SUPER NATURAL things. He is in me. There are men and women I know, personally, who walk with Jesus, who spend daily time in the Word with Him, who serve Him in numerous ways, who too were struck with this, severely.

So, when you make comments like those above, even though you mean for them to be encouraging, they often bring shame upon the person you’re speaking to.

Are your feelings still in your purse? Put them back if you just took them out.

Shame is sneaky. The Enemy uses shame to bind. So, it’s no surprise to see how the Enemy of course would use the words that [often] well-intentioned, caring Believers offer to their friends and family when they see how they are hurting. HOPE is being extended, but the Enemy translates it to Shame.

Again, I’ve been that Christian who has said something well-intentioned, something that was TRUE, but it was still the wrong thing to say to a person with depression.

So, “What do you say?” the Christians are wondering, because Christians, it’s true… God is in control, of course we should pray about it; we should pray about everything. Yes, a small group is a great idea, but you know what, you can’t always join one right when you need to. And many church’s small group schedules take breaks, so what are they going to do when it’s the middle of summer and you tell them to go join a small group? And for the love of EVERYTHING, do not tell a woman who has postpartum depression that children are a blessing from the Lord and that other women would do anything to have what she has. Yes, this is true true true, but believe me when I say it will offer her absolutely no encouragement- all she will feel is shame.

So, “What do you say?”

I’m not a licensed counselor or therapist. So, all I’m going to share here are the statements that helped me…

“It’s going to be ok. It’s going to get better. You’re not alone in this.”

“You are not alone. In fact, _________ dealt with this too. I’m sure she’d love to talk with you if you wanted to.”

“What can I do to help? You’re not alone in this.”

Those statements loose Shame’s grip.

I fear that there are so many Christian women sitting in their houses, sobbing on the floor, feeling like they’re 20 feet under water, who are only hearing the Shame statements from the other Christians in their life. People who love these women, who love Jesus, and of course would never, ever want to make that woman feel worse! Yet, I fear this is happening far more than anyone realizes. Because I was that woman. And I am forever grateful for the Christians who said the right things to me- because there were Christians who said the wrong things too. But, the Christians who said the right things, including, in my case, going to talk to my doctor, God used to pull me up to the surface of the water. To give me air. To give me strength to stay afloat.

Shame has lost her grip on me. So, sweet sister, who read this whole thing that’s walking through depression right now, I’ve been there too. You’re not alone in this. It’s going to be ok, and it’s going to get better.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Kristina: An Empath’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Yes… We are here again. The Holidays… (said in my best Eeyore voice) With Christmas quickly approaching, so is the anxiety for your friendly neighborhood empath. What is this ’empath’ you speak of? Well friend, let me break it down for you before we dive in to my own personal survival techniques.

Most of the time, people consider empaths to have this unnatural, almost paranormal, “sixth sense” that allows them to sense and physically feel the emotions around them. For me, this category also includes your introverts, quiet folk, peacekeepers, shy ones, and the Meyers-Briggs INFJs, so this is really for anyone who falls under those labels. We simply have more empathy in our souls than most, and that makes us painfully aware of our surroundings. In other words, you will not find us throwing elbows at your local big box store for a cheap television on Black Friday. I shudder at the thought.

So, that sounds pretty harsh, right? The one time of year when emotions are running at their highest, a little family drama is inevitable, and we are destined to feel every single eye-roll at the depths of our soul. Never fear, my friends. We will survive, and here’s a few tips to keep your tinsel from getting tangled.

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1. Avoid guilt-tripping yourself.

Let’s just start off with a big one… Say it with me friends, “I cannot please everyone!” I am from a family with several divorces and remarriages. I have never seen this as a hinderance, but more of, “I just have more people to love me!” And it’s true, but the problem is that I had to teach myself that it is not possible to attend every single family gathering. It is not your fault that time travel hasn’t been invented yet…probably. Do your best to focus on the gathering you have chosen. There’s no use in feeling guilty the entire time you’re at one party because you will likely subconsciously distance yourself from the people you chose to be with. That’s no fun for anyone!

2. Book, but don’t overbook.

Going along with the last tip, you really do need to schedule your holidays to avoid the anxiety that goes along with being pulled from all directions. Decide. Make it known. Stick to it! If you volunteer to bring or make something, plan ahead of time and choose something simple. My husband and I planned the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of time. We ordered our groceries via Walmart Grocery Pick-up* and had them loaded into our car by an employee the Sunday before. It was truly a life saver!

3. Master the art of smalltalk.

Total cringe. Being an empath has made me so incredibly aware of things like awkwardness, mistakes, embarrassment, silence, tension… Trust me. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll feel it. You really have two options when it comes to smalltalk when you’re not good at it and your BFF isn’t available. One, stick to the most extroverted people in the room. While the conversation can be a little overwhelming, you won’t have to do much talking. Just listen and be present. Now, if for some reason the extroverted people are engaged in a conversation or activity you don’t want to be a part of and you’re stuck with awkward, quiet cousin Bob, remember that there’s a good chance he feels the same way you do. Instead of focusing on how YOU feel, try making it your goal to make Bob feel more comfortable. Ask questions. People love to talk about their hobbies. Find out what they are and become genuinely interested in learning more. Even if something might not sound cool to you, it might mean the world to cousin Bob and this is the quickest way to give people the opportunity to open up. If cousin Bob’s quietness isn’t wavering, it’s ok embrace it in silence. Somehow our society has decided that silence is awkward. Personally, I am a firm believer that can be beautiful too. It all depends on your perception!

4. Don’t be afraid to step away for a moment.

I am the QUEEN of sneaking off for a moment at holiday gatherings. My head will often become a jumbled mess, and I can’t even speak if I don’t take a breather from a crowd. I have learned over the years that this is totally fine because it’s what my mental health requires. While the family is playing a crazy party game that sounds like pure torture to your quiet soul, go grab a slice of Mema’s semi-famous coconut creme pie, bundle up if it’s cold, and head to the porch for a few moments. Take a walk. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to (guilty), but one way or another, give yourself a few moments of peace. Your brain will thank you later.

5. Do something for YOU!

If you don’t take away anything else from this post, please consider this most… People will tell you the holidays are about family right? While I do agree, I also believe that the holidays are also about love, appreciation, and peace. You deserve all of these things, even if it’s coming from yourself. For real… Treat yourself! Have a favorite menu item that you decided not to make because you’re afraid no one else likes it? So what?! Make it anyway. You might be surprised at who might like it, and remember that even if it is a bust with your friends and family, you get to take home all the leftovers! Feel as though you have nothing to wear? Find a new-to-you outfit. Even if you don’t feel like you have the money to purchase something brand new, check out your local thrift stores for a deal, or ask a friend if you can borrow something fun! Still dreading gathering because you know you’ll be drained afterwards? Set aside some time to do an activity you love that very same day, even it means you need to leave a little early.

Friends, if you’ve paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that there’s really one common trait amongst all my tips. Focus on controlling your thoughts and actions instead of focusing on how you feel. Emotions are a wonderful thing, but sometimes they can get the best of us. Especially for those of us who not only feel our own feelings, but the feelings of others as well. The holidays are absolutely the most emotional time of the year, and our environment can truly be overwhelming. I hope that I was able to give you a few tips to help you survive the chaos, but if not, please don’t be afraid to open up to a friend about your concerns. Remember, you deserve love, appreciation, and peace, and I hope you are able to not only survive, but thrive this holiday season!

xoxo, 

Kristina

*Note: This post is not sponsored but by clicking “Walmart Grocery Pick-Up” in the text above, my friends and family can save $10 on their first pick-up order of $50 or more (pre-tax)! Walmart does all the in-store shopping. It’s so easy! You place your order online, pull up to a specially marked parking spot after scheduling a time for pick-up, and an associate will load the groceries your vehicle! How awesome is that?!

Kindness

I bought this shirt as an impulse buy one day while looking for a daddy-shark t-shirt for my husband (inside family joke). I’m not sure why this burgundy v-neck was included in my search results, but there it was on my screen displaying back to me a phrase I say over and over again to our kids every day, “Be kind.”

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It’s kind of baffling to me how easy it is to be kind, and yet I see this phrase plastered as a reminder everywhere I look these days- on t-shirts, on social media newsfeeds, on hand-painted signs at craft and decor stores. But why do we need the reminder when it’s so easy to be kind?

Sadly, I think it’s because so many people are not kind. One time I joined a public group on Facebook for moms who use a specific kind of baby wearing carrier thing. The group’s purpose was described as a resource for people who use that baby carrier- a place where you could post questions, including pictures of yourself with it on, and your baby in it, for tips on how to adjust all the straps the right way so you’d be wearing it correctly. Well, I quickly understood why a facebook support group existed for this baby carrier, because it was incredibly confusing to get on right. So after my husband and I watched a few videos on YouTube and still hadn’t figured it out, I posted a selfie with me wearing it with my son in it along with a caption that went something like this, “I know I don’t have this on right, but I can’t figure it out. Can someone please advise?”

The comments almost brought me to tears; they were so mean. I couldn’t believe people would respond that way to a person asking for help, especially in a place where those questions were encouraged. Shoot, the entire purpose for the group was for women like me to post exactly that kind of question/picture.

It was a wake up call. It took me a couple hours after I’d deleted the post and left the group to realize what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary. It’s comments like the ones made about my selfie that warrant the plastering of “be kind” everywhere.

But still, I just kept thinking to myself, “It just isn’t hard to be kind.”

And when it comes to our words, sometimes being kind is just being quiet.

Sometimes it’s hard to be quiet. And social media lets us shout anything through our fingertips with a captive audience 24 hours a day, so “sharing” and “transparency” are constantly encouraged if you’re connected at all to that world.

Other times it’s hard to find the right words. Especially when you don’t agree with someone, or they’ve offended you in some way. However, there is a way to disagree and confront another person in a kind and respectful way. If kindness and respect are not what are bubbling up from inside of you, you may want to wait to use words in that moment. (Something I’ve definitely had to work on at times.)

It’s really easy to be kind to others, but I fear it just isn’t our nature. I have a little song I sing with the kids that my mom made up that we apply a fruit of the spirit to when we sing it depending on which fruit applies best during that situation. Our top three are kindness, patience, and self control.

Kindness, kindess

Jesus gives us kindness.

Kindness, kindness,

Jesus gives us kindness

Through the Holy Spirit.

When I sing this with the kids, it diffuses whatever situation we’re currently finding ourselves in. (I find singing when I get mad or they’re mad is SO helpful!) It also reinforces which choice they should be making, so in regards to kindness, it would be whatever the kind choice is in that situation. And, most importantly, it reminds me how badly we need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and refine that sin-nature we all have into character that reflects Jesus.

If you’re currently finding yourself in a place where kindness is not being shown to you, I just want you you to know that I prayed for you before I published this post. I know how much that hurts when someone isn’t kind to you, whether it’s through social media or directly to your face or behind your back. Remember that there is Someone who wants kindness for you in this broken, self-centered world. Keep giving it, living it, and letting the Holy Spirit grow it in you. Hugging you.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

PS – This post does contain an affiliate link, but my opinions are always my own. Thank you for clicking through!

Her name is Shame, part 1

My three year old loves for me to lay in bed with her at night while we say prayers- and for a little bit longer after that. I love snuggling with her. It’s such a good way to end our day, especially when these days are often filled with so much correction and coaching and discipline. Her love language is quality time, so just three minutes snuggling fills her tank up like nothing else.

One night when she didn’t want me to leave quite yet, she gave me the line, “But I’ll be alone,” with a pouty little lower lip protruding out.

Me: No, you’re not alone. You know God is here with you too. Always!

A: If He’s always here, then when am I alone?

Me: Exactly! You’re NEVER, EVER alone. Isn’t that wonderful?

Fast-forward 15 minutes: I’m scrolling through Instagram on the couch while hubby’s watching a football game. I love seeing all my friends’ pictures. Dogs, babies, vacations, and their stories. If you follow me on Insta you know I love Instastories. For some reason I felt the nudge to type into the search box (something I never do unless I’m looking for a person) #momlife. And my jaw dropped open when I saw the pictures that popped up on my phone!

First of all, girls, put on some clothes. The entire world does not need to have access to what you look like in a bra and panties, and I assure you that’s not #momlife. I’m laughing as I type this- #momlife is wearing your nursing bra well past the days of nursing and buying panties in a pack of 4 from Target. Speaking of nursing, I’m all for breastfeeding, I nursed my babies well past a year and nursed in public, but for real, if you’re going to post yourself nursing on instagram, you can do it in a modest way that will actually encourage and promote acceptance of breastfeeding rather than mostly just show us how full your girls are these days.

Did I digress…?

Anyway, once I moved past that little eye opener, I noticed how perfect all those photos looked. I scrolled myself down through all the little squares of images to find one picture that looked like someone had actually taken it themselves and not been professionally photographed. I eventually found one and the instagramer appeared to live in Spain.

Well the comparison game started to try to sneak its way into my worn-out-mama-mind. All these scantily clad mamas had perfect bodies, perfect skin, and apparently the world’s most incredible dry shampoo because my hair only looks that good in the few hours in between when my stylist does it, and I wash it that night.

Little known fact, the comparison game has a name, and it’s called Shame.

And Shame has a super power: she makes you feel alone.

And alone is a very scary place.

I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it, I’m sure. It’s one of the most paralyzing feelings I’ve ever experienced. When you feel like there is no one like you, no one on your team, no one who understands, no one who cares, or no one you can trust.

I’ve never completely opened up about how alone I felt in the darkest days of my journey through postpartum depression. And, spoiler alert, I’m not going to in this post. But Shame yelled at me every day. She told me lie after lie after lie. She even twisted Scripture to make me feel even more defeated… even more alone. She also used well-offered words from Believers to belittle me and my feelings.

A very dear friend of mine who also struggles with postpartum depression said it so perfectly to me the other day, “Lindz, gosh, if I could change it I would.”

These were the same words I’d said over and over again at the beginning of my journey. I just couldn’t get out of it. Nothing was working. All of the *right* things weren’t boosting me out of the drowning waters I was sinking farther and farther into.

And then this amazing thing happened when I started sharing how I felt with other, safe, people… I realized I wasn’t alone.

This is probably the best place to interject that I never felt like God had forsaken me. I never felt the absence of His presence. But I felt alone in my struggle, shameful to be in that struggle, and Shame reinforced the whole mess of it to me every day.

When I came to realize that this wasn’t an isolated-Lindsay experience, that other God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Holy Spirit-filled women had walked an identical journey, Shame lost her grip.

Her name is Shame, and she’s an enemy’s weapon.

I thought I’d shook her, and there, as I sat on the couch with my husband that night, she tried to work her way back in through a medium that I am currently seeking to reach women through. Not for likes or follows, but so women will know they’re not alone. So they can call out Shame when she speaks and send that little demoness back to Hell where she belongs.

He didn’t die for us so we could live in her shadow. He died for us so we could live.

You’re not alone sweet friend, and it’s going to get better. I’m going to share a lot more about Shame here, so if this topic or the topic of postpartum depression or mental health is of any interest to you, be sure to follow the blog via email (there’s a nifty box up to the right you can put your email address into) for updates when new posts are up.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

 

 

Dear Pregnant Mama of a Toddler

I have so many friends who are pregnant right now with their second baby. There is something in the water where we live, so all the rest of us who are done having babies are drinking bottled FIJI water. I kid, of course. But in all seriousness, I’m loving not being pregnant (or nursing) and watching my friends in this special season. I’m also remembering how hard that season is, and I’m wishing I could write a letter to myself when I was in that stage – pregnant with a toddler.

But, since that isn’t possible, I thought I’d write one to those of you who are in that season right now…

Dear pregnant mama of a toddler,

It’s ok to have such mixed emotions right now. You’re excited, but you’re so miserably uncomfortable. You can’t wait to meet this new little baby, but you also can’t imagine how you’re doing to do it with two little ones. How will you have enough love for both of them? Enough arms for both of them? Will this second one be anything like the first? What if they aren’t? What if they are? 

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If you want to know what “pitting edema” is just look at my swollen foot. This picture was just days away from my due date. I originally captioned this photo as, “The only good thing about my legs being this swollen is there’s more room for ‘A’ to sprawl out on.”

Well, they’re going to be different. And you’re going to be different this go around too. You know more now. Do you remember how intimidating it was when you had to figure out how to change the liner in the diaper genie? Or the first time baby #1 had a fever? Or just getting the baby in and out of the car by yourself when you ran your first errand after being cleared to drive a car postpartum?

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That is definitely my child going through all the magazines at my OB’s office. I promise we cleaned up everything before we left that day!

You feel kind of guilty for not wanting to do things- like take your toddler with you to your OB appointments, which is totally fine to do, especially if your OB delivered that first baby anyway. 

But you know what mama, once I hit that third trimester, I hired a baby sitter to watch my toddler while I went to those appointments, and not me or my husband even blinked at it. It’s hard running any kind of errand with a toddler, and when you’re pregnant, it’s super hard, and when you have to sit in a waiting room with them while your OB has to run and deliver a baby, and that waiting room, or even exam room, if you’re lucky, doesn’t have toys and TV’s playing Daniel Tiger for them to watch, that’s kind of like torture.

Honestly, I took almost every person up on their offer to help me before my due date. If someone offered to come over and watch my toddler, I said, “Come on!” In fact we have an aunt who would come over a couple afternoons a week and watch our toddler just so I could go to the grocery store by myself or get caught up on house work. So, if someone offers to take your child for a couple hours, take them up on it. (They know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.)

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When you get to get out of the house with someone who is super helpful to you, GO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH THEM! The one and only Kristina Goodwin snapped this pic btw, and she is one of the most helpful people on the planet. Hence why I’m smiling so big. (It could have also had something to do with that faux fur coat I’d just bought from her vintage shop, but I digress.)

You probably have your birth plan figured out- or at least the basics like who you’ll call if the baby comes in the middle of the night. And who you’ll call 2nd if the first person you call can’t come for some reason.

I remember thinking my labor and delivery with baby #2 would go a certain way, just like I had expected baby #1’s to go a certain way. Well, you’d think after baby #1 did not go at all the way I thought she would, I’d have come to the realization sooner that baby #2 wasn’t going to follow my plan either. I do wish I’d been a little more prepared for Plan C- which in my case was a failed epidural and “natural” delivery, albeit induced. I’ve talked to other mama-friends who were in similar boats. They’d wished they’d been mentally prepared for Plan C and Plan D, not just Plan A with fleeting thoughts that entertained Plan B. So, just something to think about…

I also wish I’d thought about how feeding baby #2 could potentially be different than feeding baby #1. I nursed baby #1, and I loved pretty much every minute of it. It was such an incredible experience that I looked into becoming a lactation consultant while I was pregnant with baby #2. I never dreamed that nursing baby #2 would be anything but just-as-amazing, so I didn’t have milk pumped or back up formula in the pantry that first week home from the hospital when I really wanted to go to the emergency room for the kidney stone I was passing (again, without pain medicine!). I wasn’t about to take my newborn to the emergency room, but I had nothing for anyone to feed him with if I left him at home. I also didn’t have anything stock piled to feed him when my milk “dried up” after I went on Zoloft* for postpartum depression. A can of formula in the pantry would have done a lot of good, had I had one…

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Are you taking a lot of pictures right now? I’m so grateful I took a lot of pictures of my firstborn while I was pregnant with baby #2. That season is so fuzzy when I try to remember it. I love looking back at the videos and pictures. They remind me of all the sweetness there was in that season.

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Try to focus on the cute bonding going on here between the siblings and not my cankles.

It reminds me that there is so much sweetness yet to come. Yeah, there are uncomfortable days- days where you just want to fast-forward and get through this season and at the same time you don’t want to miss one minute of the sweetness you have right now with this first little one looking back at you. 

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First time making ginger bread houses. We called them ginger bread forts.

So, dear pregnant mama of a toddler, basically, be encouraged. This season is everything you feel right now, and you are not alone in it, or the season you’re about to step into. 

From this mama who made it,

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

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*I started Zoloft at about 3 months postpartum. It did not dry up my milk, but I lost the sensation of let-down, so I thought my milk had dried up. Since I wasn’t pumping, when I tried to pump, I didn’t experience the sensation of let-down, nor was I able to express any milk. Regardless, we knew my baby was still getting milk because there was absolutely no change in his wet diaper count. ❤