Wednesday, March 20, 2019

5 Things I Want My Sons to Remember on International Women's Day

As many are aware, March is a month designated to celebrating women. What began as Women's History Week in the 1900's, has now transformed into Women's History Month. There is even a day, which was just celebrated, designated to acknowledging women called International Women's Day. 

My Instagram feed was filled with photos of mothers and daughters captioned by inspirational quotes nodding to strong women everywhere. Even though I am a woman, I felt the day didn't apply to me much since I'm not "raising women". Literally 100% of my energy is spent on keeping tiny little men alive, but with each double tap on a post, my mindset began to change. I realized that even though I am currently only raising boys, this day can be for them too. As the following days passed, my mind continued to turn regarding International Women's Day which led to a post stirring in me.

Simultaneously to International Women's Day, God had placed Proverbs 31 on my mind, not for myself, but for my sons. It's not a coincidence that I have been praying this portion of scripture over my boys and their future wives during the very month designated to women.

Using Proverbs 31, I put together 5 things I want my sons to remember on International Women's Day.

1: Treasure her.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10 NIV

View your wife as God does, a precious treasure, worth more than any physical prized possession here on earth. Cherish her more than you would a brand new truck. Value her more than the upcoming soccer game. Live a life where she knows, after God, she is your top priority. 

2: Trust her.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. Proverbs 31:11 NIV

If you marry a woman of noble character, there is no reason to micro manage her, or use your authority to control her. There will be times when you need to make the final decision, but there will also be times when your wife needs to make the final call. When that is the case, trust her. Establish a full confidence in her, so when she needs to make an important decision without you, she knows you will have her back.

3: Support her.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for wok, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She’s sees the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. Proverbs 31:13-19 MSG

Whether your wife desires to be an entrepreneur, in the military, a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or all of the above, be her personal cheerleader. Let her hear your support from the sidelines as she does her thing. Be her ongoing support while she is strong and be her brace when she feels weak. Don’t snuff out her dreams, but create an environment where she can flourish.

4: Encourage her.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:28-30 NIV

Women never grow tired of hearing words of affirmation, whether it be in regards to their physical appearance, their character or their cooking. The atmosphere you create in your home will portray itself in your wife and eventually your children. The words you speak will radiate from her as she goes about her daily tasks. Praise her for her noble character and her fear of the Lord, and watch her relationship with God blossom even more.
5: Honor her.
Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:31

Your words have the power to build your wife's reputation. A virtuous women can rest assured knowing the way you speak of her to your friends, co workers and children will only heighten her character. Let your honor for her be known privately by making it a priority to listen to her desires and let honor for her be known publicly by the way you serve her. Open the door for her, allow her to go first, and meet her needs before your own.

Bonus number 6: Celebrate strong women, but also celebrate the women who raised them.
When you come across the woman God created for you, celebrate her! Rejoice, because you have found a good thing and received favor from the Lord. In the midst of this celebration though, remember to also celebrate the woman who raised her. Raising strong children is hard and every mother deserves to be celebrated.

The world will always be screaming in my boys faces about women's equality and independence from men, especially on this day, so I feel it's my job as a mother who is raising Godly men to open the discussion while they are young. It’s my job to teach them how to celebrate women the way the Word tells us to.

Happy International Women's Month!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Overwhelmed and Underqualified

Do you ever feel overwhelmed in motherhood due to the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional tasks we take on every day? Does the screaming baby, needy toddler and sick Kindergartner completely defeat you? Do you ever feel under qualified for motherhood after a long day? Or how about after you see a mom handling a situation better than you?

To be honest, I haven't posted a blog for awhile because this is how I've felt. Overwhelmed and under qualified. Everyday my head is spinning with inspiration, making me feel like I'm literally going to explode with words begging to come out. Yet when I'd be greeted with the blinking cursor on a crisp white page, I'd freeze. "How can I write about motherhood when I'm drowning in it?"

As I'd stare at the screen, the enemy would spew lies at me. After multiple days of this ritual, the lies were starting to sink in. "Your 5 year old is acting out because of a decision you made. Your 4 year old has anxiety because you were selfish and only focused on your own post baby health. Your 1 year old is into everything because you don't discipline him enough." The list goes on. My mind would quickly unravel into a mess of anxiety, making me feel totally overwhelmed and under qualified.

During my quiet times with the Lord in the mornings, I would lay out my feelings. "Lord, you've given me this passion to write and a burning desire to encourage moms during this season. Your hand has guided me to this place. You have given me gifts to give to other moms, but I'm literally feeling like the most overwhelmed and under qualified person there is!" I tried to let it go and quit with the daydreaming of influencing women in motherhood.

The journey I was about to embark on was one I thought needed to be walked through alone, but after conversations with multiple moms, it was clear that our journeys are meant to be shared to strengthen one another. The Lord impressed on me that the feelings I was walking through were exactly why He's brought me here. He's given me these experiences that turn into passion so other moms can be supported in the trenches of motherhood. My goal in sharing this is for you to know you are not alone and ultimately point you to our loving Father.

With gentleness, He then corrected me.

This gentle correction needs to be relayed to you:
It's ok to feel overwhelmed, but it is NOT ok to feel under qualified!! That is a lie straight from the enemy. The Lord has chosen YOU to be the mother of your children. He has chosen YOU for this beautiful chaos we call life. There is NO ONE more qualified to be your child's mother, than YOU!!

You need to believe this today. You need to let this sink into your soul before you click off this page. Because as soon as you do, the world will be right there in your face telling you what you need to do, or what you need to say, or what you need to wear to be more qualified. But do you want to know something awesome?! You are who the Word says you are, not who the world says you are! I find great peace in that and I pray you do as well.

Unfortunately the lies from the enemy and the mind games don't stop. However, they do become easier to fight! One habit I have formed recently has been highly fruitful when it comes to fighting the lies of the enemy and the qualifications of the world. I noticed I was spending a few minutes on my phone in the morning while eating breakfast doing the usual notification checking before I dove into my Bible. What I didn't notice though, is I was allowing other people to lay out my day and sadly letting them decide how I was going to start my day feeling.

I'd check my email and see a bill, which in turn made me immediately start thinking about our finances and budgeting. I'd see a red icon reminding me of the text messages I forgot to respond to the previous day, making me feel overwhelmed and behind before the day even starts! Then a quick 30 second scroll on Instagram would leave me feeling completely under qualified in literally every area of my life. I would open my Bible and pursue a quiet time with the Lord before my boys would wake up, but I just couldn't settle my mind. One evening I told my husband, "I'm tired of starting the day running and STILL running out of time!" So I stopped hitting the ground running.

I formed a new habit. I still get up at the same time, which is generally 1.5-2 hours before my kids. Before I check any notification on my phone, I jump into the Word.... whatever it might look like that day. I provide myself with sincere quiet time, solely focusing on my spiritual growth. So now, instead of allowing the world to dictate my emotions for the day ahead, I allow the Lord too. I ask Him to align my heart with his. He never fails. Sometimes I do, but he doesn't.

Maybe your definition of being overwhelmed isn't the same as mine and maybe your level of qualification isn't the same as mine, but I know you fight it too. I encourage you to provide yourself some alone time first thing in the mornings to focus totally on the Lord and the agenda He has for your day. I can speak from experience and say you will be able to have a few moments where you aren't overwhelmed, but even better, you will be set up to live a journey of motherhood that you and only you are qualified for.

Cheers to being overwhelmed in motherhood and cheers to being the most qualified human to be a mom of your babies!

Sending my love and prayers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It Takes a Village

During my pregnancies, I never understood why people always felt the need to tell me "it takes a village". Seriously, I was told that so many times that it almost became a fantasy to think I could raise a kid without an army behind me. 

Due to my type A personality, I don't like to rely on others. I like to get the job done in my time and the exact way I have planned. Therefore it was alarming to me when others would constantly remind me I needed 'a village' to help me raise my child.

After my first and second babies, we were blessed greatly with many meals brought over and help offered. I was thankful for the offers and support, but I never felt the need to ask for anything more. Having babies and raising kids was what I was created for. I loved being a stay at home/work from home mom. Our days were filled with play dates, finger painting, baking cookies and watching cartoons. I had a steady control of our lives resulting in happy toddlers, a loving marriage, a successful home business, growing friendships and even healthy dinners made from scratch. Outside of needing a sitter for the kids every now and then, I really didn't need much help. There weren't any scenarios that led me to believe I needed a village.

Life was that way as a result of my "desire to have control" personality, but also because I literally loved being the one to do everything for my husband, kids and home. God truly blessed us during that season and I am thankful. 

Circumstances got crazy as we decided to move our family across the country to pursue new career opportunities. It was getting harder to control all the things, but we still managed. All was well and exciting when we decided to have a third baby. 

Throughout my pregnancy we connected with a church and developed relationships with a few families who attended. I saw the way they did life together. They loved on one another and took care of each others kids like their own, making no exception for mine. The more time we spent with them, the more it occurred to me that they resembled what one would call a village. Ultimately, it was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. 

If you've been following along, you know I encountered some complications after the birth of my third baby. I ended up in the hospital away from all three kids for 2 weeks. When I returned home, I suffered from postpartum depression and PTSD. I spent a few months navigating through the suffocating darkness that PPD ensued. The Lord really humbled me during this time as I was forced into a position to give up complete control and not only lean on others for help, but totally rely on them!

My sister took weeks off of work to be by my side or to stay the night with our 3 boys. My mom and mother in law both flew back to Arizona and helped wherever needed. Whether it was going to the grocery store, holding the baby or doing laundry, they were there! Friends showed up to the hospital at all hours of the night to care for our newborn and pray for us. Women brought meals to our home on a daily basis and gifts for all the boys. Men brought my husband food, coffee and air mattresses while we stayed in the hospital. Someone was constantly checking on us. It was during this time I began to personally experience why "it takes a village." That phrase was taking on a new meaning everyday. 

The road to recovery was long for both my physical and mental health, but these people never left my side. They showed me what it's like to have a village and why I needed one.

I needed a village who would show up to the hospital uninvited bearing gifts.
I needed a village who would hold my baby when I didn't feel like it.
I needed a village who would push me to be better, but also allow me the time to heal.
I needed a village who had no shame in using a microwave when I was feeling guilty about not making meals from scratch.
I needed a village who would invite us over to their house, leaving it a little messy so I didn't feel bad about the disaster at my house.
I needed a village who would tell me stories of losing their cool with their kids after a day where I felt bad for losing mine.
I needed a village who would laugh as we'd throw out our kids art projects while they weren't looking.
I needed a village who would reach out when I was beginning to withdraw due to an onset of depression.
I needed a village who would ding dong ditch food at our front door during a hard week.
I needed a village who would take care of my husband and boys when I wasn't.
I needed a village who would teach me how to be the body of Christ so maybe one day I could pass that on. 

Today, I sit here humbled by the grace of God, in complete awe of the village he has surrounded me with. They helped me walk through the dark valleys and climb the mountain of healing. Because of them, I am able to write to you and pass on the encouragement. 

I also have sadness though, while I look back on my beginning years of motherhood and come to the realization that even though I might not have needed a village, I was selfish to not create one for others. I think of the opportunities I missed. Opportunities where I could have helped a mom walk through loneliness. Or just a simple opportunity to act as the body of Christ.

If you are struggling or lonely, reach out! Don't wait for the invite. I know reaching out can be difficult due to the fear of rejection, but if you're rejected, that isn't the right village for you anyway. It's also hard to make the first move while reaching out because in a sense you are admitting you're lonely, but how can someone help you if they don't know you need it? This is a scenario in my story. Admitting to myself I was lonely was the biggest challenge. Humble yourself. Our battles are meant to be fought together, just as our victories are meant to be celebrated together. Don't do it alone.

If you are struggling or lonely, accept the invite! Go to the playdate, say yes to moms night, respond to the text, and accept the meals! The feelings of failure would wash over me with every offer of help I received. I was thankful for every meal given, but it also served as a reminder that I wasn't able to provide for my family. I continued to fight the feelings of failure as I'd hit 6 months postpartum or 9 months postpartum and still be needing help. But I stand here at a year postpartum and realize those feelings of failure were lies from the enemy. I wasn't failing, I was healing. It scared me to rely on others for so long, but getting past that fear is what brought me this village. Give up some control and rely on others to help you. Don't be afraid. 

And if you aren't struggling or lonely, send the invite! Don't think it's weak to have a village. If you are in a healthy place, you are a great advocate to grow the body of Christ and further healing. Offer to hold someone's baby, take a new mama out to eat or just be there to listen. You never know who might need it. Don't be selfish. 

1 Corinthians 12 outlines the body of Christ beautifully. I encourage you to go read it. The NIV and The Message versions are my favorite. 

Here is a small passage from The Message. I love the picture the Apostle Paul paints for us. 
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

Our small group discussed Philippians 1 this week, which holds a prayer from Paul that fits well into this topic.

Philippians 1:9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

I love that we discussed this in our small group, because this prayer is exactly how they have loved us over the past year.

So this week, go! Go and find your village. Invite yourself in and invite others to join you. But untimely, go be the body of Christ. Don't just love much, but love well! Live a life Jesus will be proud of that is bountiful in fruit. Go make make Jesus attractive to all!

Sending my love and prayers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


The months following my "near miss" experiences after birth could be described in about any adjective you could think of! I felt full of anger that I missed my newborns first month of life, yet full of gratitude because I was still alive. There was a great presence of fear that I had to fight daily, but somehow I also felt peace. I felt like the world was raging around me, except it was quiet and moving in slow motion at the same time. I was completely numb and empty, but somehow completely full. My new zeal for life was often choked out by crippling anxiety. The months seemed to sluggishly pass, yet there we were, already into the second month of the new year.

Christmas was well gone and the New Year Celebrations were over. I was determined to get a family holiday card out despite how my mind and body felt. I just had so much say!! I mean, we added a member to our family, I almost died and God saved my life! People needed to hear my story and the goodness of God.

There was no way everything I wanted to say would fit in a tiny card envelope. My postpartum experience gave me a new view of life and I wanted to morph all the feelings I felt into one word. So the hunt began to choose just one word along with a scripture that our family would live by in the new year. In the midst of brainstorming, I stumbled across Ephesians 5. Ephesians is not lacking in inspirational scriptures!

The Message translation of Ephesians 5 is my favorite!

5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

5:8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it!
The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours.
Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

5:11-17 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see.
Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

The picture of Christ's extravagant love and his command to 'love like that' inspired me! I knew I wanted to go into the new year displaying the new passion I had for life by loving people better and pointing them to the greatness of Christ. I viewed every day as a second chance and I was ready to make the most of it!

Multiple words were jumping out at me.... life, generosity, light, extravagant, opportunity. But intentional... that's the one that captured me.


Verse 10 in Ephesians 5 states, "Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it." That sums up the definition of intentional!

I knew I wanted to live my life according to this verse, and encourage my boys and husband to do the same. To live everyday with intention, figuring out what will please Christ and then DOING IT. Thankfully, Ephesians 5 lays out for us what will please Christ and how to accomplish it. I found it to be a good guide for prayer as I prayed over daily.

Ephesians 5:1-2: Intentional With Our Love
Lord I pray we would watch you and learn from you. I pray we will be like children seeing what you do and following your example. Thank you for loving us. I want to learn to love like you do and teach my family to do the same. Lord I pray our family will continue to keep company with you as we observe how you love us. Your love is not cautious, but extravagant, exceeding the bounds of our human minds. Will you grow us to that level of maturity? I pray our family will be as selfless in love as you are. That our intentions will never be to gain, but to give! Lord will you teach us how to be generous with our love. I pray both our eyes and hearts will be open to the assignments you lay before us. Thank you for the guide on how to love like you.

Ephesians 5:8-10: Intentional With Our Opportunities
Thank you God for navigating us through the murk and the darkness. I am so glad we are no longer there. Your bright light illuminated our path making our way plain so we no longer have to stumble around. Your Word commands us to do what is good, right and true. So Lord, I ask that you go before us and open our eyes so we can be intentional with the opportunities around us and to do what is good, right and true. Ultimately Lord, I pray our family will continually seek out what will please you and then do it.

Ephesians 5:11-17: Intentional With Our Time
Lord, I pray we would be intentional with our time. That we would not be focused on useless, busywork or pursuits that give attention to darkness. I pray we will no longer let our lives go to waste. Your Word says you will show us the light, so today I ask that you show us. I pray your light surrounds us and exposes the darkness. Wake us up when we fall asleep! Lord will you guide our steps? We will follow your lead and use our heads. I pray we obey your commands, making the most of every chance we get, no longer living a careless life. Lord, I pray that everyday we not only learn what you want, but understand it.

Those scriptures and prayers fueled my new zeal for life! I truly had a fire burning inside. I prayed that it would last!

The spring and summer months didn't come easy for us. We were faced with a great deal of sickness and many trials. Unfortunately, my zeal for life was slipping away with every new trial that arose. The sickness our kids were facing kept us cooped up in the house for a couple of months. My personality thrives off of social interaction, so being away from people for weeks on end was not healthy for me. Many moms can relate when I say being a stay at home mom can be lonely. When you add sick kids to the mix, its even lonelier! Add that loneliness to my personality trait and I began to feel discouraged and even left out.

I am blessed with amazing friends and very thankful for the group of moms I am surrounded with. But isn't it crazy how you can have multiple friends, yet still feel alone? At least I know I feel that way sometimes. My personality tricks me like that.

The beginning of the school year rolled around and our 5 year old started Kindergarten. I was excited to meet new moms and make more connections. I feel like I can never have too many friends!

The first weeks passed and I wasn't making those connections like I hoped. I quickly realized most of these parents already knew each other from the previous year of preschool that my son didn't attend. I really started to feel out of place. Everyday after pick up, I'd pull out of the parking lot feeling discouraged because another day passed where no mom reached out to me. There were two moms I really liked and wanted to connect with. Like usual, my thoughts spiraled.... "No one says hi to me unless I say it first. Don't they know I need them? If they only knew how hard life has been for me that past year. What is wrong with me? It was dumb of me to think I'd fit in here."

The next morning, I still felt discouraged. I spent some time in prayer asking the Lord for help in this specific situation. I opened my book Uninvited by Lysa TerkLeurst to chapter 4, titled 'Alone in a Crowded Room.' I'm pretty sure she wrote this chapter for me. God spoke to my core through every sentence.

Page 45 stopped me in my tracks:
"I can't expect any other person to be my soul oxygen. I can't live as if my next breath depends on whether or not they give me enough air for for my lungs not to be screaming in pain. Because here's the thing. People don't mind doing CPR on a crisis victim, but no person is equipped to be the constant lifeline to another. It's not wrong to need people. But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have of others that they can't ever possibly meet. That's when the desire to connect becomes an unrealistic need. Unrealistic neediness is actually greediness in disguise. It's saying, 'My needs and desires deserve to tap into or possibly even deplete yours.' Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others or do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me?"

Over and over I read that last question, "Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others or do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me?" I'm fully aware I set unrealistic exceptions on literally everything, but for some reason I didn't catch it this time. Probably because it was bigger than that. There was a void I was trying to fill. I was depending on others to be my soul oxygen, looking for how they could benefit me instead of how I could bless them.

Ephesians 5:2 popped back into my mind. "He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." I realized I was no longer living an intentional life. Not only was I far from loving like Christ loved, but I had disobeyed his command. My heart actually hurt when I saw how I allowed earthly circumstances to choke out my passion to be intentional. Once again, I had become so selfish and careless with my love, opportunities and time.

I am so thankful for God's grace and forgiveness!

As I drove to pick our son up from school that day, I prayed the whole way there that I would be prepared with the fullness of Christ and that he would ultimately be my soul oxygen. I prayed that I would be given opportunities here I could choose to be intentional. I asked the Lord to help me see ways I can bless others, instead of ways they could bless me.

I arrived at the school just as the baby was falling asleep. My 4 year old saw kids on the playground and wanted to get out and play while we waited for his brother to come out of school. I really wanted to say no because the baby had juuuuuust fallen asleep, but I felt my heart racing like the Lord was telling me to go.

We hopped out of the car, making our way to the playground. It was super hot outside and the only shade was literally right next to the group of parents already there. I nervously sat myself and the baby in the shade while my 4 year old played. Of course it was the two moms I had been wanting to connect with sitting there with their families. I felt awkward "invading their space". But within seconds they pulled me into their conversation, never making me feel unwelcome. After a few minutes, we put the dots together of which kid belongs to what parent. It was the coolest moment when they realized who my son was and praised him greatly with all the kind words their kids have spoke of him. The moment got even better when I realized the two moms I had wanted to connect with were actually the moms of my son's best friends that he constantly talked about! To be honest, I wanted to start crying happy tears! We had a great conversation as our kids played happily together. I could hardly wait to tell my husband!

All I could think about for the rest of the afternoon was how amazing God is. I felt full. But it wasn't a fullness that came from our conversation, it was the fullness of God.

See, I wasn't able to connect with those moms until I had the fullness of God. Once I had that, I was able to change my mindset which gave me eyes to see how to bless others. I didn't feel the need to love in order to get something, but to give. And it worked! We now have established relationships with these families that have turned into really great friendships.

I want to encourage you today to start living an intentional life with the fullness of God inside you. Look for ways you can love others extravagantly. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to shine the bright light Christ has installed in you by doing what is good, right and true. Don't waste your time dwelling on useless work, giving attention to darkness. In every interaction, look for ways to bless others! Don't walk around empty and dependent on what others can give you. If you do these things, you WILL feel Christ filling you up.

A great way to get started is by praying through Ephesians 5. You can use the prayer I posted above and change it up how you feel led.

Another way to get past the hump of loneliness or emptiness is by reading the book I mentioned above. Uninvited by Lysa TerkLeurst. Here is an Amazon link. Her personality is exactly like mine, which makes it easy for me to relate to her writings.

My prayer this week is that you feel both encouraged and motivated to live intentionally. I'd love to hear from you! Comment below if you have any questions or stories of living with intention! Or head over to Instagram.

Our family photo we had on our New Years card.... That bald little baby makes me weak!

Sending you love and prayers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Postpartum Depression and the Battlefield of the Mind

Within the last year, I've had a few ladies reach out to me regarding Postpartum Depression (PPD). Their ages vary and each have a different story, but all have struggled with the same set of feelings. I'm thankful they have trusted me enough to be open and vulnerable.

In a previous blog I shared a bit about my PPD with my last pregnancy. Today I wanted to share a more in depth look at PPD and the different ways it portrayed itself in my life.

My first baby boy was born in the spring of 2013, he was a whopping 8 pounds 6 ounces! My delivery with him didn't go as I had planned, which totally bummed me out. This was the start of my PPD, I just hadn't realized it yet. See, I am the type of person who dreams about the upcoming event every single day leading up to it; which in this case was labor and delivery. I always have the perfect scenario and plans lined up in my head. The expectations I set are very HIGH and when those expectations aren't met, I hit a deep low. I've always been like this and it's still a work in progress for me. So as you can imagine, when the doctor told me at my 39 week check up that I had developed preeclampsia and needed to be induced ASAP, I was pretty disappointed. The delivery was long and hard, which is completely normal, but not how I had planned. My expectations weren't even close to being met. I began to hit my low. In the early hours of the morning our healthy boy was finally born. The disappointment faded as I held my chunky guy that we had waited so long to meet.

Due to my preeclampsia we had to stay in the hospital for 3 days. I had to be hooked up to a couple IV's the day after birth, making it hard to get out of bed, use the bathroom etc. I was not expecting to be in the amount of pain I was in. Everything hurt. Nothing went how I expected it. I had a perfectly healthy baby though, so why was I feeling so much disappointment?

Once we finally made it home, I cried ALL THE TIME. That is not an exaggeration. I would cry when thinking about how I wasn't pregnant anymore. I would cry when I thought about the last time I walked through the door and I was 9 months pregnant, so full of excitement, not pain. I would cry when thinking of a week prior when I would sit in the rocking chair awaiting the birth of my baby, instead of nursing him for the 6th time in 2 hours. I would cry that he was 1 week old. I would cry when he burped without needing help. I would just sit and cry. This was so bizarre to both me and my husband since I had never been a crier! Yet here I was bawling my eyes out because our baby lifted his head for a second.

All the stories I had heard after women having babies never included them crying as much as I had. They were all so happy and loved visitors. Breastfeeding created a special bond with their new baby. But that wasn't me. My baby wanted to nurse every single second. I couldn't supply enough milk for him and absolutely hated being attached to him all day. I didn't want anyone to come visit because I would just have to feed the baby the whole time anyway. A few weeks in, I developed a horrible case of mastitis that in turn made me hate breastfeeding even more. I felt like a total failure of a mom because breastfeeding made me despise my baby instead of bond with him. The feeling of failure continued when I had to switch him to formula at just 6 weeks old. Within that time frame he had a bleeding diaper rash that freaked me out. I felt like a failure once again and my thoughts would quickly downward spiral. "I probably didn't change his diaper enough which made him have a rash and I wasn't paying close enough attention and now he screams when I change his diaper and I don't know what I'm doing and now I'm going to call the pediatrician again and probably my mom too and I'm so embarrassed because I thought I'd be a good mom but I'm clearly not and my husband must think I'm crazy so I need to stop crying before he gets home and now the baby just puked out everything he had in him on me and I haven't showered for a week and how could I ruin our simple, happy marriage like this?"

My mind was foggy all the time. I felt so alone for those 6 weeks, but the weird part is, I didn't really even know it until after I was out of it. I think it was because I didn't want to admit to anyone, especially myself, that I felt sad my baby was born. My husband was the only one who even knew I had this battle going on. Thankfully, after we started formula, the baby was significantly happier, other people could help feed him, he slept better, and I liked him better! My baby blues faded and I honestly didn't think about them again. This was a mild case of PPD that left quickly, but it still caused me to have bad postpartum memories.

Our second baby boy was born 18 months later in the fall of 2014. His labor and delivery were exactly what I hoped for with no complications at all. We got discharged as soon as we could so we could get back to our firstborn waiting at home. To be honest, after that, I don't remember much about his newborn days, haha! Two in diapers will do that to you. There were days were I had more tears than others, but nothing that I would classify as PPD.

Three years later, in the fall of 2017, we welcomed our third baby boy! If you've been following along for awhile, you are probably aware that I had some complications after his birth. I hemorrhaged three separate times the month following his birth causing me to fight for my life. Before those complications though, I had already begun to feel the baby blues. Similar thoughts to my first round of PPD were popping in my head. I wrote in detail about my feelings of guilt and failure pre trauma in this post. My hope was they would pass before turning into a full fledged-depression. Unfortunately, after the trauma I endured, PPD hit me hard! There was no stopping it.

Welcoming our third baby boy into the world!

Once again my expectations were not hit and postpartum certainly did not go as planned. I was in the hospital for a total of 13 days. Almost two weeks that our newborn, 3 year old and 4 year old had to live without their parents with no warning. We didn't FaceTime or talk to them on the phone during the hospital stay because the situation was too confusing to explain and I for sure didn't want them to see my extremely swollen face with tubes coming out my body. I painfully missed them, but knew talking to them would make them sad and miss me, which was horrible to see! It ripped my heart out every time I'd think about that scenario. Thankfully, we had some amazing family who sacrificed their time for those two weeks to take care of our boys! We were so blessed!

My husband and I returned home late in the evening on our 13th night away from our boys. The transition of us coming back home was hard on everyone. The older boys were feeling and expressing every emotion. They were excited we were back, but also frustrated because I couldn't do much but lay in bed and Brett was occupied with the baby or taking care of me. They were ready to go to all our Halloween events we had planned on attending, and then upset when we weren't able to make it. All they wanted to do was snuggle me, but my body hurt so bad they could only sit by me. They had much more fun when their aunt, uncle and grandparents were in charge! They were exhausted and constantly fighting. My head throbbed from the noise of their yelling and crying. I couldn't handle being around them. It broke my heart. Our parents would take turns taking them out of the house. I'd weep in Brett's arms. I felt it was my fault. I've ruined our happy kids. My depression got heavier.

The baby was 3 weeks old when we came home. I had spent 14 of the first 20 days away from our newborn. During the 7 days we did spend with him he was an angel baby. Slept great, ate great, easiest baby ever!! While we were gone though, it was a different story. When we returned home, he wasn't eating well. He was having constant diarrhea which resulted in a horrible diaper rash. The worst I'd ever seen! He wasn't sleeping well. He'd cry from what I imagine was belly pain and of course when he needed another diaper change. I couldn't believe the baby he had become in such a short amount of time. On top of that, my arms were so swollen and in excruciating pain due to the numerous IVs I had. I couldn't even bend them, making it impossible for me to hold the baby and feed him a bottle. Someone else had to do that. I was absolutely terrified of moving, fearful that I'd start bleeding again, so someone else would also have to change his diapers. My depression became even heavier when I couldn't do "mom" tasks. When the kids constant fighting and the baby's inconsolable crying were added to my physically pained body, my mental state became dangerous.

With the sound of the big boys fighting in the background, tears would stream down my face as I'd sit and stare at my crying baby in his swing. My mind was completely blank, yet filled with depressing thoughts at the same time. Through my tears I would tell Brett, "That's not the baby I left 2 weeks ago. My baby was easy and happy, this baby just cries. My baby was a newborn, this baby is almost a month old. He doesn't even look the same. His flaky skin is gone and he barely fits into my favorite newborn pajamas anymore. My baby snuggled and we had an unbreakable bond. This baby doesn't want to be held and honestly I don't even want to hold him." I'd cry, "That's not my baby!"

I'd wake up in the night crying from a nightmare of events that happened in the hospital. I was living in a thick dark cloud that was suffocating. My heart constantly felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I was weak with no appetite. My stomach was in knots. The depression was the darkest, heaviest feeling I've ever felt. I had lost control of my mind.

One morning I had the biggest breakdown of all. My mother in law was downstairs taking care of the kids. I told Brett that once again I needed to talk through some thoughts and feelings I was having. I knew they weren't really how I felt, but I needed to get them out of my head. Before I could even talk, I was bawling in his arms. Slowly I'd mutter out a word or two. Eventually I expressed to him the darkest thoughts I'd had yet. "I don't want that baby. I don't want to touch him. We have no bond and I wish we never would have had him. If we wouldn't have had him, life would be good. I feel like life will never be the same and we will never be happy again and its the baby's fault. All I want is the normal, happy life of routine that we used to have." I rolled into my thoughts of how bad of a mother I was and a terrible wife. "Everyone would be better without me. I'm completely useless here. I just want this pain to end." This is the closest I felt to suicide. I didn't actually want to die, but I sure did want out of the physical and mental pain! I saw no light at the end of the tunnel while in the dark, air deprived tornado of depression.

My doctors, family and friends were all aware I was feeling quite dark and heavy. I was even warned before I left the hospital by a psychiatrist that PPD and PTSD would hit me hard. The doctor laid out the exact thoughts I'd be having. He was actually spot on. They had prescribed me medication just in case. I resisted it for a few days because it made me feel like even more of a failure. Obviously I knew what I went through was traumatic and warranted unwanted feelings, but my mind would tell me that if I was normal I would be able to move past the PPD without the help of medication. I felt as though medication displayed yet another weakness. Thankfully I was surrounded by supportive people who encouraged me to start with the medication. Once it was in my system, my anxiety subsided and I was eventually able to get past the depression and reconnect with my kids.

If you are feeling like you're struggling with Postpartum Depression, here is my advice coming from personal experience.

Find Your Support System!
As soon as I could feel the baby blues rolling in, I immediately told my husband. I also reached out to my closest friends and family so they could be praying for me. There were a few that I even asked to keep checking on me so I didn't sit in the house alone with my thoughts for too long of a time. You have to find a support system, whether its your doctors, parents, friends, partner, or counselors! People you can count on to check on you and encourage you.

You read above, following my first birth, I had PPD where I didn't talk to anyone about it and it was horrible!!!! This last time I struggled, I talked to everyone in my support system consistently. I often would repeat myself to them, but I needed to get out my thoughts every single time I had them. Listen, no one can help you if you don't talk about what you're feeling!! And if you have a good support system, they will never shut you down or turn you away! 

Talking also helps connect you to other moms who have struggled with PPD or are currently. It helped me so much when another mom would share her story and we could relate to each other.

Have Patience!
Girl, have patience with yourself! Healing takes time. I am just about a year postpartum and I still have days where I feel PPD or PTSD lingering. For the most part it is gone, but it didn't happen over night! I had to have patience with myself in order to heal. 

Having patience is a shoutout to your support system too. Make sure whoever is in your system is going to have patience with you. Brett was so patient with me. He talked me through every single feeling until I felt better, every single time. This was literally weeks and even months! He spent days listening to me cry and repeat my absurd feelings to him. Never one time did he displace my thoughts. He never acted annoyed. Instead he would help justify why I had those thoughts. He would pray with me and encourage me with scripture.

Take the Medication!
Like I mentioned above, being prescribed medication for my mental health made me feel like a failure. This will more than likely be the case for you too. You will feel like there is something wrong with you. I am a firm believer in modern medicine and living proof that it works. Take the medication! It will help.

However, along with medication there are also side effects. Be aware. Talk to your doctor about them beforehand. My doctors talked all the side effects through with me. I'm not here to lie or sugar coat anything, so with that being said, once I started the medication, I got worse before I got better. It was intense. I literally felt like I was going to explode, but then one day it was better. Most of them time I felt numb, but it was better than what I was feeling.

If you take away anything from this post, let it be this. You are not alone! You will feel alone, but I promise you are not! You have to remember this.

Be Thankful!
I will be the first to admit that this is not easy. In fact, I didn't even want to try it. My husband would encourage me every time I felt depressed, discouraged, and defeated to give thanks. He encouraged me to not only think in my mind what I was thankful for, but to speak it aloud. I fought this hard because most of the time I really didn't feel thankful for anything. That's what this dark cloud the enemy will surround you with will do to you. You have to push through! As I would lay there in our room, filled with insomnia and flashbacks of what had just happened to me, I slowly began thinking of what I was thankful for, but it was physically impossible for me to speak it out loud. I literally could not do it. The enemy would pop in my thoughts and convince me that I wasn't really thankful. We would battle back and forth as he'd try to fill my head up with lies. As the nights passed, I fought back and would make myself give thanks out loud. The first few times were hard, but once I got the hang of it, thankful thoughts starting flowing! Being thankful was a huge part of my freedom from PPD. You will not feel like being thankful, but I promise it will draw you out of your depression!

Understand the Battlefield of the Mind!
One of my aunts from my support system mailed me a book called "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. Let me just say this book changed my life forever. Every time I read it, I felt as though she wrote it specifically for me. Once I began to understand the battlefield of my mind, I was able to form a more effective strategy and win the battle! I wish I could share all the parts of the book I have highlighted, but that'd basically be the whole book!! One day I hope to do a few blog posts specifically on the book, but today I'd like to share a couple paragraphs that helped me through the dark time of Postpartum Depression.

Chapter 12: An Anxious and Worried Mind
"Anxiety and worry are both attacks on the mind intended to distract us from serving the Lord. The enemy also uses both of these torments to press our faith down, so it cannot rise up and help us live in victory.... Because I was constantly worrying about something, I never enjoyed the peace that Jesus died for me to have."

So good!! When I read and digested that paragraph, it clicked that I was under attack. I realized I had just won the battle of overcoming the fear of death and the enemy did not like that, because he knew I would use my story to influence others to the goodness of Christ. The enemy was using anxiety and worry to distract me from living in the major victory I just had. He was continually working on replacing my peace with fear, making my mind foggy, so I was preoccupied and not able to hear the Lord and serve Him to full capacity. I also felt as though I was being selfish for not living in and enjoying the peace that Jesus had died for me to have.

Chapter 12: An Anxious and Worried Mind
"Jesus gave us His peace, (John 14:27) but He said we must not allow ourselves to be fearful, intimidated and unsettled. In other words, peace is present in us, but it must be chosen over what our fleshly mind thinks. We can choose to be peaceful by choosing to think on things that promote peace rather than things that open a door for worry and anxiety."

This went hand in hand with what my husband had been encouraging me to practice: giving thanks. I was thankful for the confirmation and extra push from the Holy Spirit. Jesus commanded us to not allow ourselves to be fearful, but abide in Christ by resting in Him. I was far from abiding in His rest, but I didn't give up! I made the choice moment by moment to think on things that promoted peace rather than anxiety. 

You really should go read this book, even if you aren't struggling with PPD. Here is a link for you.... it will be the best $10 you ever spend! Let me know what you think when you read it!

I will leave you with this encouraging scripture!
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to talk too! I would love to be in your support system! Leave a comment here on the blog, send me an email or connect with me through Instagram at @taylormadelifeblog.

Sending my love and prayers,

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

When the Enemy Tried to Kill, Steal and Destroy My Life

The morning after my first postpartum hemorrhage was surreal. So much had happened during the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning. After a couple short hours of on and off sleep, I woke up around 5am to the "code blue" alert in the hallway of the ICU. Our room was quiet and my mind was foggy. My exhausted husband was trying to sleep in the recliner beside me. I had an IV in each arm and an IV in each hand pumping blood, morphine, antibiotics and electrolytes back into my body.  They had placed a Bakri Balloon in my uterus, which meant I couldn't move for 24 hours, which also meant I had a catheter. I had oxygen tubes in my nose and compression boots on my legs. I had a blood pressure cuff on my left bicep and a pulse oximeter on my right middle finger. With all of those cords coming out of my body, it made it difficult to even move. I was in horrible physical pain and even worse emotional pain. If I barely moved, or coughed, or cried, my heart monitor would go off beeping like crazy and the nurses would come rushing in to check on me.

The doctors and nurses were in and out of the room constantly. I had to keep asking what was going on and needed to be reminded of all the procedures they did early in the morning. It still wasn't clear to me what had happened or what was still happening. Everything was so foggy. I was terrified to move.

Once I was able to get a hold of my phone, I started responding to all the messages from friends and family that I missed through the night. I had been in conversation with my aunt and uncle who have been in the OB-GYN field for over 20 years. They were familiar with my situation and were able to bring some clarity by answering a few questions and also bring some peace with their wise counsel. My aunt had just heard the scripture, John 10:10. The first part of the verse is: "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy...." She had felt it was exactly what the enemy was doing to me. She pointed out that the enemy had a plan and was patient until the opportune time. He had already tried to destroy me in the weeks leading up to that night, he tried to literally kill me that night, and now he was going to do all he could to steal whatever joy and hope was left inside me. She encouraged me to stay alert and on guard. I needed to be prepare to fight and not let him take what was left.

You see, the enemy was forming a plan long before my hemorrhage. He waited until I was at my weakest point before he made his final moves. 

I believe his crafty plan started while I was pregnant and experiencing horrible fear and anxiety, in a form I like to call "Third Baby Syndrome." He knew I was prone to fear and anxiety and snuck in while I was weak.

His plan heightened about 3 days after Marek was born in the form of Postpartum Depression. Brett's parents had left to go back home to Montana. I had a terrible time saying bye to them. Postpartum depression was creeping in, and I began to have such negative thoughts. Guilt overtook me. I felt like a horrible mom and an even worse daughter in law because I was beginning to convince myself that I was keeping my in-laws from their grandchild.  As I would bawl my eyes out, I'd think, "I am so selfish. If we wouldn't have moved, it wouldn't have been so hard to say bye. It's my fault they won't get to be around our new baby. It's my fault that my kids don't get to be around their grandparents." 

Coincidentally, on the same day they left, my parents also left for a trip to Montana. My safety net was gone and I felt completely alone. I spiraled quickly into thoughts like, "How am I even capable of taking care of three kids when I can't stop crying. Now my boys are freaked out because I can't get under control. I'm sure I've traumatized them by now. My kids are going to hate me. Everyone must hate me. Why am I like this? Brett must be so annoyed with me for calling again."

The enemy took full advantage of this and began to destroy me, one thought at a time. Very quickly my thoughts began to get darker. They turned into, "If we wouldn't have had this baby, it wouldn't have been so hard to say goodbye. We were so happy before he was born. He's ruined our happy life."

Satan got in my head and made me feel alone, worthless, and depressed. When I was mentally the weakest I've ever been, he struck me while I was down and tried to take my life.

While I was in recovery and the initial trauma was over, the medicine was wearing off and reality began to set in. I was not only struggling with Postpartum Depression, but also PTSD, which as you can imagine is a horrible combination. Because I was in the ICU, my kids weren't allowed to come see me, including my 8 day old newborn. My body and mind were completely out of whack. I would literally just stare and let the tears flow from my extremely swollen eyes. My mind was blank, yet racing at the same time. I so desperately wanted to be holding my newborn. The very newborn that when I was pregnant with him, I told everyone I wasn't sharing him. He was mine to hold! I was never putting him down and I was going to spoil him rotten. I knew how quickly time passed with newborns so this time I wasn't going to regret not holding him enough. And yet there I was, going on day 2 of not even seeing him. This was when the enemy was trying to steal my joy.

I am here to tell you, the fight to not let the enemy steal my joy was anything but easy. This proved even more difficult the following weeks as I hemorrhaged two more times and spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital. It would have been easy for me to dwell on all he had already taken from me and at times that was the case, but I realized the more I dwelt on the darkness, the darker my heart became. I would become angry and bitter towards both the enemy and God. My joy and new zeal for life would disappear. With every thought I had, I would have to choose to not let Satan do anymore harm than he had already done. A full year later and this is still a work in progress. 

The second part of John 10:10 reads, "....I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." My aunt also reminded me that day and the following weeks to come, that Jesus won. He not only died so I may live, but he died so I may live to the fullest!!! This was encouraging to me! In the time I couldn't imagine ever having a normal life again, but this scripture gave me hope that one day I would have a life filled with even more joy and purpose than I did before! The fact that Jesus gave up his life for mine took on a whole new meaning.

Along with my story, John 10:10 gives us a glimpse into the spiritual realm at work behind the scenes of our lives. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." He is crafty! He deceptive! He is patient! And he will slowly sneak into your mind. He will take his time and break you down and jump when you are in a moment of weakness. BUT GOD! Through Christ's blood shed on the cross, He has given us the tools we need to defeat the enemy. In Ephesians 6, we are given the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:17 commands us to put on the helmet of salvation. The helmet is used to protect our minds. Majority of the time, Satan's attacks start in the mind. If we wear the helmet of salvation every day, our minds become more protected against the traps the enemy lays for us. It will become easier for us to focus on an eternal agenda and remember that Christ has already won the victory. With this mindset, it is harder for the enemy to sneak in. 

We are also commanded in verse 17 to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This is the only offensive piece of armor noted in the full Armor of God making it our best option when fighting the enemy. We sharpen our sword by reading and memorizing scripture. The devil hates it when we use scripture during battle! This is our biggest tool! 

I want to encourage you today to put these tools God has given us into practice. I want you to be alert and ready for any battles coming your way. To start, read through Ephesians 6:10-17. After that, I would encourage you to read it daily and practice putting on the full armor of God every morning. Not only will this help you get into a routine of being in the Word daily, but it will also help you memorize scripture which will give you the most powerful tool of all!

I am a living testimony that these tools work! We quoted scripture all throughout my hospital stay and the months following. With the help of Christ, we reigned victorious at the end. When Satan tried  to steal my hope and joy, destroy my health, and take my life, Jesus came to counter and triumph over Satans work of evil by the power of the cross! Christ in turn gave me a bonus life, abundant health, a growing family, a new purpose, and a powerful testimony! God took what Satan intended for harm and turned it into good!!

Here are some verses to get you started! I'd love to hear how these have helped you prepare for battle! Comment below, email me or find me on Instagram, @taylormadlife! It's been so encouraging to hear from you!

Guard your minds and be alert!

John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I have 2 photos from the 13 days I was in the hospital. At the time taking pictures was not a priority, or even a thought! Now though, I wish I had more to look back on. This was the end of day 12. My husband and I praying together that my heart rate and blood work would clear the next day so we could go home. 

Sending my love and prayers,

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Third Baby Syndrome

Have you ever heard of Third Baby Syndrome? It's where mothers expecting their third child are more nervous about the birth and babyhood than they were with their first two. It might sound silly, but it's real! And today I'm going to share my raw and real version of how Third Baby Syndrome affected me.

My pregnancies have never been classified as easy or even enjoyable. I'd say they were rather difficult and strenuous. Basically it felt like I had the flu for 9 months! They were long pregnancies, but yes, so worth it!

At the beginning of my first (term) pregnancy, I had extreme fear of miscarrying. This was due to the fact that I had miscarried our first baby the year prior. But once I passed the "safe zone" and into my second trimester, that fear went away. The rest of the pregnancy was filled with great anticipation and not much time to think of the "what ifs" and fears. I didn't read the books. I didn't check WebMD for symptoms. I didn't call the doctor about anything. I didn't count baby kicks. I didn't fear labor and delivery. Maybe because I didn't know what it was really like? You could probably classify me as naive but I wouldn't change that! I'm thankful to have had a pregnancy that solely focused on the life I was creating. Even though I was physically sick, my head was in the clouds 110% of the time as I dreamed of all things baby!

It was only a short nine months after the birth of our first baby boy, that we found out I was pregnant with baby boy number two! For this pregnancy, I felt like a veteran. Plus, I was chasing around a one year old which made for literally no time to read the books or worry. By his birth, it had only been a year and half since I'd done it, so I was ready to go! Their births were polar opposites, but both brought about healthy babies and a healthy mom.

Two and a half years later we found out I was pregnant again! This was totally planned and so exciting. I had high hopes that this pregnancy would be different. Maybe even easy?! After all, the third times the charm right!? WRONG. I was even more sick this time. How that's possible, I don't know, it was horrible. Not only was I constantly sick, I was constantly battling fear and anxiety. I was only a few weeks into the pregnancy and found myself regretting our decision. It broke my heart and made me feel even worse when I had those thoughts.

Our third baby pregnancy announcement!

Everyday brought about a new fear. I read the books. I searched WebMd for every symptom. I called the doctor more than I'd like to admit. I counted kicks every chance I got. I feared labor and delivery and the chances of something going poorly. Anxiety consumed me at every doctors appointment as I sat in the waiting room. My doctor was the best and would do an ultrasound at every appointment. You'd think that would help my anxiety to see the baby, but I was still worried every time the ultrasound popped up on the screen that something was going to be wrong.

My thoughts wandered often and caused me to wonder, "Why am I feeling like this? Is it because I'm sick and tired? Is it because I'm in a new state, with new doctors and a new hospital? Is it because it' been a couple years? Or is it because I really am afraid? What's wrong with me? I wasn't like this with the others, so why this one?" I remembered a friend telling me awhile back she had struggled with different worries about her third than the first two.... so I researched it, (AKA googled it) and sure enough, Third Baby Syndrome popped up. It brought me a little comfort knowing that other women have struggled with similar fears as well, but I still felt "off".

One night, when I was about 8 months pregnant, I couldn't fall asleep. I had severe insomnia while pregnant, so this wasn't an abnormal night for me. However, as the minutes passed, fear crept in. All of the fears I had been struggling with were hitting me. I began to pray and cry out to God for protection over my family and our new baby, but it seemed the more I prayed, the more fear I felt. That's when a new fear arose. The fear of death. I was afraid of dying and leaving my husband behind with two toddlers and a newborn.

The sudden fear I had of death hit me so hard that I literally thought I was going to die in my sleep that night. I tried to continue praying, but honestly couldn't form prayers through the rampage going on in my mind. The enemy did not want me to win this one!!

Now I know I could have woken Brett and he would have been glad to pray with me and talk me through everything, but I really felt like this was my battle and I needed to do it alone.
My fear continued to grow. The room felt darker. My body felt heavier. My mouth was dry. The tears wouldn't stop flowing. My mind and heart were racing. My hands were sweaty. I was crippled with fear. When I still couldn't speak, I began to quote my favorite "life" verse, Psalm 34:4 in my head. After quoting it in my head for awhile, I was eventually able to start quoting it out loud. "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Over and over and over again. I truly believed it in my heart that he was going to answer me and I was going to be delivered from this fear that night.


He told me I needed to surrender my life to him. Not my "life after death" life, but my living, breathing, right here and now life. He was asking me to give him complete control of my life. He wanted me to fully trust him and know his plans are always greater than mine. I needed to commit my living life to him and his will, even if that meant dying in the process.

Once again, I was speechless. Like honestly, how do you do that? I was quite terrified to give him control, because "what if"? My spirit wouldn't rest though, I knew this was the key to being delivered from fear.

By this time, my head was throbbing from crying and my pillow was soaked with tears. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I put my hands on my big ol' 8 months pregnant belly and began surrendering my life to the Lord. I told him I trusted him no matter what the outcome is. If it's in his plan for me to die, then I will accept that and believe my family will be taken care of. Now, these words are easier for me to type than they were to say. It took me a long time and a lot of deep breaths to get those sentences out that night. But I realized, the more I surrendered, the more peace I began to feel. The darkness left the room. My body felt lighter. The tears slowly stopped. My mind quieted down. My heart stopped racing. Trusting God with my life started to become easier. It even became exciting! To know God had plans for me, my life and my family that I didn't even know or could possibly fathom started to really excite me!


I'm so thankful that during these speechless, fear struck moments, our God still knows our prayers! And answers!!

Now we fast forward a month to delivery day! I was 40 weeks and 1 day and beyond ready to meet our new little guy. My delivery was quick and easy! It went better than planned and was quite perfect to be honest. Fear and anxiety didn't even show up!

Both baby and mom were deemed healthy and we were sent home within 24 hours. It was our sixth wedding anniversary. Our crew of boys were reunited and our home felt just right.
A few days passed and those not so friendly postpartum baby blues started creeping in. Since this was my third baby, I knew they were coming, but I crossed my fingers they would leave just as fast as they came.

Six days after he was born, I was feeling especially down. My husband and friends were well aware of this. We got out of the house for our 5 year olds soccer game and even got all the boys fresh haircuts. Brett and I talked about my feelings and how I just couldn't kick them. His parents had already gone back to Montana and my parents had also gone back to Montana for a quick trip. So we wondered if I was just homesick for Montana? I felt more off than normal and it was driving me crazy.

We got home and and I sat down to feed the baby. I suddenly felt like I was bleeding more than I was previously. I gave the baby to Brett and ran upstairs to the bathroom. Once I was in the bathroom, it was evident that this was not a good situation. I screamed for Brett. Since I was screaming, the boys were freaked out and also came upstairs. It was a truly horrific moment that I wish their young eyes would have never seen. Everyone was in that state of "trying not to panic" type panic.

(I will be posting a few more blogs with more details of what was happening and the hospital stays etc, but for this post I'd like to focus on this amazing story of what God did in a specific moment.)

We rushed to the closest emergency room. The severity of my situation was not communicated well, which resulted in too much passed time and my body losing too much blood. The more blood I lost, the weaker I became.

I was laying on the little bed, bleeding through the couple blankets they had covered me with. I was burning hot, but also freezing. My body went totally limp. I kept telling myself not to close my eyes. I felt that if I did, I wouldn't open them again. Unfortunately, I became so weak, I wasn't able to keep them open. The last thing I remember seeing was my husband holding our three year old by the wall in the hallway while nurses rushed between us. My eyes closed and I cried out in my head for God to protect my husband and babies in case I didn't make it through. I prayed for angels to surround us all. I could feel the breeze of the medical team rushing around me. I could hear the panic in their voices, but couldn't comprehend what they were saying anymore. I knew they were going to do something with an IV because I could smell the disinfectant they were rubbing on my hands and arms. To keep myself breathing, I began mumbling,"Please help me Jesus. Please help me Jesus. Please help me Jesus," until I couldn't even mumble anymore.

Soon the medical teams voices started to dim and feel further and further away. My breathing became even slower. I could see myself from an areal view, lying on the bed in the bright emergency room hallway, with my head turned to the right facing my husband and 3 year old. I could see them watching me. In this moment, I could feel the literal pull of life and death.

The pull of death portrayed itself in sadness. I felt sadness because a part of me wasn't sure I was going to make it and my husband and son were going to witness that. I felt sadness for my 7 day old baby because he would never know his mom. I felt sadness for my 5 year old because the last time he saw me we were crying together while I was bleeding everywhere. I felt sadness for my parents who didn't get to say goodbye. I felt sadness for my brother, who's last conversation with me did not end in an "I love you" from me. I felt sadness for the people I hadn't asked for forgiveness from. I felt sadness that I hadn't influenced enough people to Christ.

The pull of life portrayed itself in peace.  This peace was two fold, the first was in the form of our intercessors, our family and friends were down on their knees crying out to God for a miracle. They stood in the gap for us. I could literally feel the prayers! I've never felt anything like that and truly don't know how to explain it. It was like arrows of peace hitting me every time someone prayed.

The second form of peace came from a flashback to the prior month when I gave my living, breathing life to the Lord! I realized he was preparing me for this exact moment. The peace began to overwhelm me as I realized it was all going to be ok. Whether that meant it ending in death or life, it was all going to be ok. My husband and sons were going to be ok. My newborn was going to be ok. My parents and siblings were going to be ok. My debts were paid in full when Christ died and it was going to be ok.

I don't remember much from the next few moments, other than I felt peace. It was the most surreal feeling to be that close to death. To actually feel its pull. I felt and watched my life balance on the line of life and death. It's only by the goodness of God that I am still alive today. He surrounded us with amazing family and friends who gave up hours of their Saturday night to stand in the gap and pray for us. He put the right nurses and paramedics in place at the right time. And most importantly, he heard my prayers, he answered me, and he delivered me from the fear of death so I could look it in the eye and beat it.

I feel the Lord has placed this on my heart to share. It has been a lot to process, but I am excited to use my story to help others. I want to encourage you, wether you are a mom battling fear and anxiety, a mom struggling with postpartum depression, or a mom struggling with Third Child Syndrome, know that God is on your side! You can beat it! Fear and anxiety have been a consistent battle in my life and I make a daily choice to choose victory. If this is something you struggle with, find your support team! Do not do it alone. Cry out to God, HE HEARS YOU!

If you can relate to this I want to encourage you to look through the Bible and find a verse that touches you and repeat it over and over. Speak them over your life, over your situation, over your children, over your pregnancy.

Here are a few to get you started! I can't wait to hear your story of how God delivered you from fear and anxiety and surrounded you with peace. Comment below, email me or find me on Instagram, @taylormadelife! I have loved hearing how God is speaking to you!

Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

Psalm 34:4 (NIV)
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
The Lord is my light and my salvation;

    whom shall I fear?
The Lordis the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lordyour God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 107:28-31 (ESV)
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
   He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
   Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Romans 15:13 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)
But now, this is what the Lordsays—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Sending you love and prayers!