BABY BODY {an excerpt from the Quiet Time Devotional Book for Moms}

johnnewborn

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,

to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,

which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1

“Sometimes when I look in the mirror or see photos of my post-baby body times four, I cringe a little. I knew my body had changed dramatically through each unique pregnancy, but the full impact hits me when I see the proof. A squishy belly that my kids love to blow their sticky lips on, a larger pant size, purplish-blue varicose veins, stretch marks, and other unpleasant sights have surfaced that didn’t exist before. I’m often amazed that my husband still finds me attractive after all my body has gone through.

I’ve often thought about what God would want us to know about our bodies. After all, he knows we’ve birthed a live human being into this world—many of us multiple human beings. We’ve fed our babies, clothed them, and watched over their very livelihood. We’ve sacrificed nearly 24 hours a day for them. Is the physical sacrifice we have made and are making worth it?

The new marks we wear are battle wounds that signify something so much greater than the eye can see. Of course there’s nothing wrong with watching carefully what we eat, exercising, and eventually burning off the weight, but honoring God in that process is most important. We could be consumed with our health where it’s an idol, or we might not be concerned at all, which isn’t good either.

The truth is that our baby bodies, no matter what shape and size, are pleasing to the Lord. They reveal the physical, emotional, and spiritual sacrifices we make for our children every day. They signify the new life we’ve prepared for, prayed over, and laboriously delivered into this world. They remind us of the reward we have in raising our children and offering them to the Lord each day.

We’re called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices unto the Lord, holy and acceptable. This is our act of worship to him. Worship to him isn’t reserved just for Sunday mornings but is a lifestyle throughout the week. The physical sacrifices of putting our children’s needs before our own, nursing our baby around the clock, easing the pain of a sick one, changing multiple diapers, losing sleep, cleaning up messes, managing meltdowns, watching over their safety, and more are all sweet sacrifices God sees and delights in.

Giving up the right to yourself in order to invest selflessly into the life of your precious child is a beautiful thing. Giving your body wholly to God and honoring him as you raise your children is an act of love and service to him that should never be devalued and diminished. God sees your effort and delights in it.”

PRAYER: God, my body is yours to do with as you please. Help me to honor you today and remember the great sacrifice I’m making as I invest in the lives of my children. I give myself wholly to you to do as you will in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

quiet-times-large-title-front-cover-kindle** This excerpt is from my new devotional book Quiet Time. 

** The QUIET TIME  E-BOOK is now available for pre-order in the Kindle store on Amazon.     <—- click here to download

** The paperback version will release at the end of the month!

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A Surprise Baby!

IMG_4679In late November I started to feel dizzy and nauseous and a little off. I thought I had some kind of stomach bug but I didn’t think anything of it until it didn’t go away. Then Jeremiah and I figured I should take a pregnancy test to rule that option out. We made a trip to Target in the evening, I grabbed the test and took it after the kids were down.

Jeremiah sat in the living room and as I anxiously awaited the results. My heart raced but I really didn’t think I was pregnant. Then to my shock and surprise, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. Not one but two pink lines were popping up.

Are you kidding me? How can this be?

I grew angry and unsure of everything. I had a four month old, had barely gotten my pregnancy weight off, was exclusively breast feeding, and on birth control. With all my other three children, I never got pregnant while nursing.

“It says we’re pregnant Jeremiah! What in the world?” I cried in disbelief.

He was in shock and having difficulty processing it too. I was already quite overwhelmed being a mom to three children under 4 and was really looking forward to taking a break from carrying and delivering a baby. We knew we wanted to complete our family with four children but we wanted to wait a while, like 2 or 3 years.

That night I went to bed shocked, woke up shocked, and felt down the whole week. I didn’t tell any family or friends. I needed time to process and pray and work this one out with God.

Weeks passed and I slowly told our family and close friends. I knew I had the choice to accept this surprise or be bitter and angry. I faced the choice to worry about what people thought and the comments people would make (especially in general public) about being pregnant while holding another baby on my hip.

Ultimately, I’d arrived at a crossroads in my life where I had to surrender my desire to control and give all that I was, and my very body carrying this new life, into the very arms of Christ. This was His doing. Would I trust him?

Thoughts wrestled through my mind for several weeks. I went in for my first doctor appointment and my doctor couldn’t believe it when he saw my name on the schedule but that he was so happy for me. The ultrasound and heartbeat were perfect and I was already 6 weeks along. My due date was looking like July 25 putting this baby and my daughter Hannah 13 months apart!

“This is a miracle, Samantha. You may not see it right now, but God has plans in the future for this baby,” my doctor said confidently.

I held back my tears and smiled.

“Thank you. You’re right.”

My heart was at peace and I was thankful the baby was healthy. A few days after my doctor appointment I finally arrived at a place where I embraced this baby as God’s perfect will- His perfect miracle. This baby was a gift. It wasn’t about me. And that’s what ultimately helped change my perspective.

Initially, I realized more of the shock came from “Oh no, how in the world am I going to handle four children under four?” than it really was about the blessing of this baby. The majority of my fears have to do with motherhood. I’m nowhere near the perfect Mom and if I’ve learned anything with the three children God has already given me it’s that I really don’t have it together. I need the Lord’s grace every single day.

Motherhood has tested me and refined me like nothing else has. It’s also been the greatest joy of my life. I struggle daily to be everything I’m called to be but I do know that God has given me the privilege and responsibility to love and nurture my children and teach them to know and love God.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127:3-5

This mission and calling keeps me going every day. And I’m just praying for the strength and endurance I’m going to desperately need when this sweet baby arrives.

Well on Friday, we had the 16 week ultrasound and everything looked great. We were thinking all along we would make it a surprise delivery since we’ve never done that so during the ultrasound, we didn’t find out but I did ask the tech to write it down and put in an envelope in case we wanted to know later. They don’t keep the gender on file.

IMG_4684I wasn’t planning on keeping the envelope in my purse for very long long because of the obvious temptation to read it. I was thinking about handing it off to a friend. Then I realized during those few hours after the appointment that I really wanted to know. I was getting too stressed about not knowing if it was a boy or girl. So Jeremiah and I opened it together Friday evening. And we loved what we saw in writing- A BOY!

I’d been praying hard all along for another boy so we would have 2 girls and 2 boys and that our boys would be the bookends. I also felt like it could be a boy since this pregnancy has felt similar to my son John’s so it was such an answer to prayer to receive the news. God is so gracious.

What I’m most amazed by at this 16 week mark is how much God has changed my heart. Of course, it has been a process as I’m a work in progress. I know more than ever that I’m not in control of my life as much as I’d like to think I am. I can make plans, but the Lord determines my steps (Prov. 16:9). He is the Creator of life and knows what He is doing. Can I trust him with my very own life? Can I trust him that this is his perfect will for our family? Absolutely. He has never forsaken me.

IMG_4678That doesn’t mean the road ahead will be smooth sailing by any means. Raising a family is hard work. Our home will look pretty crazy with four little ones running around- it already is with 3! But God has made our life so rich and so full with our children.

Thank you for sharing in the joy of our little boy who is on his way very soon!

told to be… still

I come from a line of “doers” so when the nurse told me today that I need to stay off my feet, I thought it would be impossible- especially with a toddler.

For the past few days, I’ve had really strong and firm braxton hicks contractions when I stand up, walk, do chores, anything. They only subside when I sit or lie down. It’s crazy because right at the moment I stand up, my abdomen is as hard as a rock. I have six weeks left until baby girl Krieger’s due date and so far my husband and doula have a suspicion she could come early October.

Yesterday, I sat down for an hour while Jeremiah played with John and it was really, really hard. But I think I’m learning a lesson already.

I’m not still enough and I don’t listen to God nearly enough.

While sitting in our lazy boy with my chubby toes propped up, I was able to reflect more on life and what was really going on. Life can get so fuzzy when you’re so busy. I’m having a baby and my sweet little boy is nearing two. I have an incredible husband and God is building our little family the way He desires. What a gift. It was as if God whispered in my ear that everything was going to be fine and that He was in control. I didn’t need to worry about the logistics of the baby’s arrival, our time table, the lack of sleep coming up with a newborn, or anything. God was handling it. And He would handle it.

I sensed such peace covering my anxious heart.

God is absolutely sovereign. Yes, I will make plans as best I can, but he directs my steps. He knew that I would get to the point in my pregnancy that I would just have to get off my feet.

Who knows if our baby girl will come early, right on time, or late. I’d love to know. But right now what I need the most in my life is to be still and know that He is God, and I am not.

Do you find it hard to be still?

About 3 weeks ago, we discovered…

I am pregnant! On Saturday, Feb. 27 I had that feeling. My friend encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. It was positive. I cried and was overjoyed at the same time. Jeremiah was in San Antonio for a class so I waited all day long to tell him. I went to Whole Foods and got 4 chocolate covered strawberries to represent that we will now be 4 and a card to write down all the details that happened before and after finding out.

We celebrated that evening together, surprised, excited, and shocked.

Since then, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve had extreme nausea, cravings, morning sickness, fatigue, and feeling like a truck has hit me at about 8 every night. Since I often love to control things, this pregnancy is teaching me that I just can’t have control. Every day is something new. Every day I have to rely on God’s strength to help me love and respect my husband well and be there for John even when I feel like a mess.

Last Friday we went to our doctor and he said everything looked great and that our baby’s due date is Oct. 26, exactly three days after our son John was born. It looks like they will be 2 years apart. I am currently about 9 weeks along.

I definitely have my concerns: How will I love this baby the same as I do my son? Can we really handle two? We live in an incredibly small apartment on campus at seminary- will we survive until school is done? Can I really go through natural labor again? Are we crazy for trusting the Lord to grow our family?

Even in the midst of it all, we are so grateful that God has chosen us to bring about new life once again. His grace is amazing. And this new life is His. We have to hold this baby with arms wide open. It’s funny, I kept running into these verses in Psalms before we found out:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
– Psalm 127:3-5

I think God was preparing me all along and I love how he does that.

Thanks so much for sharing in our joy today (I couldn’t wait to tell you)!

John Samuel’s Shower

On Saturday, Sept. 13, my dear friends in Dallas (including my Mom and Sister who flew in) threw me a baby shower. One of my best friends here, Julia surprised me with having the shower at a clubhouse in her community called the Village. It was the perfect location and so homey. She made home-made chocolates and decorations. My mom made her incredible punch and my sister was the main host. Around 30 of my closest friends celebrated with me. One of my best friends from college, Bethany, even came all the way from Florida.

We played some incredibly creative games like guessing what’s in the bag (each item in the bag started with the initials in John Samuel) and the crazy fun game where you crush up chocolate candy bars and put them in a diaper to guess what candy bar it is. My sister and Bethany read a toast/tribute written for both Jeremiah and I. Then a few others went around the room and gave me words of encouragement. It was so meaningful and really added an extra touch to the shower.

I’m so thankful for the friends and family God has given me. A time like this can feel overwhelming but when I know I have community around me- it makes everything so much better. Yesterday marked one month until baby John arrives and my and Jeremiah’s 2 year and 9 month anniversary of being married. We have this “17” thing going on. We can’t wait to see his little face and to learn even more about selflessness. As Bethany’s mom’s advice was that marriage strips away a layer of selfishness and having a child strips away the rest.

It’s coming…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia’s home-made chocolates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

an amazing cake from a Mexican bakery in Midland.

 

 

 

 

 

Nautical theme (like John’s nursery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

getting ready to open gifts

 

 

Sis, me, and Mom

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