Lessons from Motherhood: Part 2

One of the many perks of spending time with a baby often (whether you’re a mom, a nanny, an aunt, or a close friend) is getting the chance to see the world through a baby’s eyes. As a mom of a now five-month old, I’ve learned a lot during this season of my life (some lessons I wrote about in my last post).  One of the things I am pondering recently is attentiveness to holy moments.

Read the rest on Circles of Faith!

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5 Big Life Lessons from My Tiny Newborn

As I write this, it is about three months since I gave birth to my first baby, Hudson. I feel that I am still emerging from what I like to call, “Babyland.” It’s a twilight zone where days and nights fuse into one, where sleep is a coveted and little-known resource, where there is little time for anything other than feeding, changing, rocking, cuddling, and repeating that process. I wrote on my Facebook wall, “It amazes me that one tiny, adorable being can be so very high maintenance”.

I always wondered why people said newborns were so time-intensive when all they do is sleep, eat, and poop. Now I get it – firsthand. But Babyland is also a place where there is a lot to learn.

Go to Circles of Faith for more about these lessons.

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Waiting for Birth: A Practice of Mindfulness

Being several days past my due date, I can officially say that the end of pregnancy is a very good time to practice mindfulness.

We are in a strange season of waiting, in which we know that change will be coming for certain (in the form of a little one), and yet we don’t know when it will occur. We could get stuck feeling anxious, or depressed, eager to move onto the next stage, or frustrated (those emotions have certainly been experienced in the past few weeks). Or we could take this opportunity to practice mindfulness, to be really present in this moment, to be in the here and now.

In this moment, we have prepared about as much as we can to have a peaceful birth, and to become parents afterwards. You can only prepare so much for such a huge unknown! So I am trying to practice enjoying this last season of being on our own- me and Josh. And this season where I can sleep pretty much whenever I want to, go to a cafe on my own for some journaling, go out with friends spontaneously, and so on. I am trying to remind myself that each season is precious, and to appreciate it for what it is. Each season also has its challenges- in this season, it is the waiting and the unknown. Once we have a little one, it will surely be the sleepless nights and challenges of new parenthood, but it will also have many blessings.

I am also reflecting on the ordinary miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. It is so usual, so normal, and clearly, women have been doing it for a very long time, and yet it is unique to each person who experiences it. It is one way (among many) that God invites us to become co-creators. It is a step of faith and hope, that in the midst of suffering and chaos in this world, new life is still occurring. Despite the many things that we fear in the future- from environmental crisis to terrorism, we have hope, and we step out in faith. A friend of mine wished for our baby to be “a prisoner of hope.” I echo that prayer for our baby, and for us as well.

I see this ordinary miracle reflected in spring- that before our eyes- despite the harsh, cold winter that seemed like it would never end, flowers emerge now. First the snow drops and crocuses, then the daffodils, now the tulips, and the hyacinths. Despite all that is wrong with the world, spring still comes.

How many other simple, ordinary miracles do we miss each day? A sunrise, a sunset, forgiveness from a friend, laughter of a child? We must be in the present moment to catch these miracles.

I leave you with a recent post from Inward/Outward, a wonderful place to find daily quotes and reflections on faith and life.

Taken by my husband, Joshua!

Taken by my husband, Joshua!

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How a Volunteer Year Changed My Life

When I was 24 years old, just two years out of college, I was a bit restless. I had been working with middle-school youth and teens at a small urban nonprofit. This was a wonderful and fulfilling learning experience, but also tough and draining. I felt that I needed more training. I was living in a community house that was floundering, and wanted to learn more about what it meant to live in intentional community. I looked at a missions program in France, another one in Africa, and other volunteer programs all around the country. An unexpected opportunity opened up that led me to Washington, D.C., only two hours from the Pennsylvania home I was living in at the time. What drew me was a small volunteer program called Discipleship Year, run by a community called Church of the Saviour.

So, in the summer of 2008, I kissed my boyfriend goodbye (now my husband –  Yes! We survived the year of long-distance relationship), said tearful farewells to friends, coworkers, and the youth and families with whom I’d formed relationships at my job.

Want to know what happened next? Check out my recent post at Circles of Faith!

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How God Provides

After a year and a half of living in Belize, Central America, my husband and I have returned to the United States…a bit sooner than expected, and a bit surprised to be coming home pregnant! We have been back for over two months now, and have had time to reflect and be present (my word for 2015!) with family, friends, ourselves, and each other.

When we left for Belize to run a study abroad program, we said goodbye to our beloved house and much of our material goods. It was difficult, sad, and also strangely unburdening. I wrote a post about the process at that time. We were able to bless other people by doling out our stuff at that time – books, scarves, dishes, clocks, even boots! When we came back home to visit this past July, it was fun to see our clock hanging on a friend’s wall, another friend using a special mug.

Read the rest of my reflection on returning from Belize here!

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Experiencing God’s Presence When You’re All Alone

I first experienced an extended time of silence when I was entering college. It was during a pre-Orientation 10-day backpacking trip called, appropriately, Exodus. I had recently begun my own “exodus” from my bustling, suburban hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, where I had spent most of my life, to a small, rural town in Pennsylvania. I was excited, and felt that God had led me here, yet there were many swirling emotions in such a monumental time of transition.

When we began the trip, we were told we would be doing a “solo,” which meant 24-hours on our own in the woods.

Continue reading the post (with much prettier graphics) at Circles of Faith!

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Present

My one word for the New Year is “present.” I have followed my aunt’s lead to choose a new word for each year- a kind of spin on a New Year’s resolution with less pressure and more freedom to explore and interpret.

The last season in my life was very busy, and lots of big changes happened very fast- ending a semester, leaving my job, moving from Belize to the U.S. I didn’t have the time to be as present in the moment as I wanted to be.

Now, my husband and I are back in the US expecting a new baby in April. We have lots of thoughts, plans, dreams for the future, and many uncertainties. But this year, I want to go slow. I need to go slow. I need to enjoy and be here for the season of pregnancy that feels like it’s going faster and faster. I need to savor the pre-baby time with myself and my husband, and prepare for life with baby. I need to ease back into North American life and culture, without feeling like I have to rush into the frenzy.

Winter helps. I don’t feel as much urgency to run around and get things done, I can take a slower pace. It feels like a slower time to hibernate, reflect, think, and plan.

So, for 2015, here’s to being “present,” and taking the time to learn what that means!10421533_994724258004_1726330416365327452_n

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