Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

These images are from a few years ago, but they are what immediately came to mind with this challenge.  Some experiences you will never forget, and this is an incredibly small sample of the many imprinted images from my missionary trip to Nigeria in October, 2009.  A trip that changed my life…

Marketplace in Lagos
Cow crossing! We had to wait for the shepard and his herd to pass before we could enter the church.
Traffic jam! Unlike anything you’ve seen.
Streets of Ibadan
City goat. Just making his way…
Even in a foreign land, some things remain universal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Celebrate!

Every 4 years an event takes place that captivates audiences from around the world.  The 2012 Olympics have finally arrived and we’re all abuzz with Olympic fever.  My excitement was solidified after  having the opportunity to attend the final day of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Trials, and although on vacation (pictures coming soon) you better believe we’re watching what we can!  You may tune in for the extravagant opening ceremony, the unification and pride displayed by your fellow countrymen, the intense competition, unfolding of heart-warming stories, or to see what lessons can be learned.  There are various reasons that explain why we’re so drawn to this occasion, but the sure thing is that we love to celebrate extraordinary achievements. It’s wonderful, but what about celebrating the small, seemingly insignificant accomplishments of our daily lives? 

As the mother of a 4 and a half month old, I am thrilled with every subtle nuance, growth and change in Alexandra’s development.  Oh the milestones are endless (first poop, first smile, first bath, rolling over, lifting her head, sleeping thru the night, etc.), and I love recording them because they mean something to me.  In all the wonder I see in her, I’ve realized I have a thing or two to be proud of as well!  So I’ve decided to list some of my accomplishments in motherhood, not with the intent of rubbing anything in or making someone feel bad, but simply as a reminder that it’s OK to give myself a pat on the back!  Here are some of the reasons (so far) why I should be a candidate for the mommy gold:

  1. I gave birth!!  After carrying this little one around for 39 weeks, 6 hours of intense labor, and an emergency c-section, she’s here!!
  2. Nursing exclusively.  She will take a bottle (for the most part, lol), but after a challenging start we’ve found the groove!
  3. My first major solo trip to the grocery store!  I was scurred, but we made it. 😉
  4. Going for a walk at least 2-3 times a week.  Soothes baby girl and eases mommy’s mind too.  Plus it’s the perfect opportunity to commune with the Lord!
  5. Taking a shower every day and applying some make-up too!  I love the little stinker, but she’s not going to derail my hygiene routine. Hahaha.
  6. One-handed multitasking.  Maybe it’s eating, cleaning, or typing (like I’m doing now!), but who knew I could do so much with 13 lbs 30z in my arms?!
  7. Road trip!  Hubby+baby+7 hours in the car.  Hollaaaaa!
  8. Parting with her at night so she can sleep in the crib in her own room.  Sniffle.  I’m fine, really, but you can read about it here.
  9. Universal Studios.  Nuff said.
  10. Nursing while walking around Universal Studios.  Ergo baby carrier, I salute you!
  11. Date night with the hubby.  We’ve had 2 so far!!
  12. Losing 3/4 of my baby weight and for the most part feeling confidant where I am now!  Got some new clothes, and I’ll let you know when I hit the goal of wearing my wedding band again.
  13. Changing her diaper any and everywhere. I’m also getting pretty good on my lap.
  14. Maintaining some level of consistency in my prayer life and study time.  CRUCIAL!!!!
  15. Getting away for some mommy me time.  A little bit of pampering goes a long way.
  16. Not being so hard on myself when I make a mistake.  Babies are resilient and God knows I’m doing my very best!

It’s your turn!!  What are some goals or milestones you’ve recently recorded for yourself?  You don’t have to be a mom, just willing to give yourself some credit!!  I’d love to hear from you and remember this:

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV    

I hope you enjoy the balance of your day!!  God bless!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

I had trouble sleeping last night. Alexandra slept inside the crib in her room, and for the first time since conception she wasn’t within arms reach of mommy. I’m proud of her growth and the hubby and I are well aware of how blessed we are to have such an amazing sleeper, but it seems like we’re at this point way too quickly. Sigh. I didn’t exactly feel ready for this transition, but I knew it was time. The discomfort will fade and I’ll eventually embrace the change, because what matters is that she knows I’m close and I know she’s safe. Besides, only a wall separates us, and like the grace and stealth of a gazelle I can spring into action whenever she needs me. 😉  Ahhh, the mom journey continues!

Dare to Dream

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

I thought about my writing today, and how this time last year my passion for the written word was ignited after an excruciatingly long period of dormancy.  I was eager to get re-acquainted with my creative side and share my musings with anyone who would listen.  After posting some sample pieces for my friends on Facebook, my new-found groove was cut short as I experienced extreme illness with my pregnancy.  Just like that writing was kicked to the curb, and my focus made a major shift.  I decided to start again as soon as I felt better, but with every attempt I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper in quicksand.  Writer’s block?  Fear?  Insecurity?  Lack of focus?  Lack of time? Whatever it was I was in my own downward spiral headed to my dream deferred.  I wanted so badly to express myself, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to gain my footing again.  I allowed the busyness of life to keep me sidetracked, and it took me 9 months and an emotional breakdown to finally take that first step in the right direction.  I sat at the computer and let my fingers do the talking, and The Stranger in the Mirror was born. In that moment I vowed never to let this desire dwindle, and I enlisted my family and friends to keep me accountable.  I didn’t want to have any regrets as a result of not pursuing my own potential.  I wanted to do something that simply gave me joy.

I get so caught up in wanting to achieve some intangible level of output that I often forget to connect with myself.  I forget to check in with Me, and neglect those ideas and visions that were once burning a hole in my head.  I shrug off the passions that once ignited fresh excitement and the reveries take a back seat to my tasks and to-do lists.  It’s easy to let this happen, and before you know it weeks, months and maybe years pass before you stop and say “whatever happened to that plan I had?  I remember how much I used to love to do this…how did I ever let this slip away…”

Does any of this sounds familiar? If so, I don’t blame you.  We live in a society of movers and shakers, and it’s easy succumb to the pressure that dictates our success by how many goals we have and how quickly we accomplish them.  We lock into a routine and before we know it our Mondays blur to Wednesdays, Wednesdays blur to Sundays, and just like that we start the cycle all over again.  “Rush, rush, rush; hurry, hurry, hurry; go, go, go” is the new norm, but happiness is far too easily replaced by productivity.  Looking at the big picture, what have we really acheived if we can’t relax and let our imagination run free?  What discoveries would you make if you allowed yourself to dream

What can you do now to turn that dream into reality?

Need some ideas?  How about creating a Bucket List?  This one certainly inspired me:

Bucket List Publications