a resolution for every mom

Sometimes your shortcomings just smack you in the face. Like, for example, the other day when I told my kid, “you do you.” As soon as the words left my mouth I braced myself for her to repeat my snarky comment back to me but thankfully it kind of zipped right by her.

Clearly, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to my mothering. 




There is one area in particular I know every mom can use some work in, because it’s one of my biggest struggles.  Continue reading

beloved weekly shares { week 1/52 }

Guess who’s back? Back again…

First, Happy New Year!

Back in October when I jumped on the #Write31Days bandwagon, I left my Beloved Weekly Shares in the dust. But I’ve missed sharing my favorite finds and links every week, so I’m starting off the new year with my first post of 2016 and a new round of BWS!

Welcome to week 1/52:

In this piece, I see myself as I am now: mom to a toddler, oftentimes frazzled and just trying to get through Target with everyone still smiling. But I also see my future mom self; who I’ll be when my babies are grown, and what I’ll say looking back over the most precious years of my life.

These fox flats. I die. So much so that I bought another pair a size up for Aven because her current ones are a little too snug. *P.S., they are on sale right now. 🙂

Sleep is important. I could have confirmed that for you right about Day 3 of Motherhood, since you really learn this lesson when it’s TOO LATE, but this article actually backs it up scientifically. Pretty interesting stuff. 

Sometimes I get on an organization kick, and I love my house so much when everything is in it’s place. (I just wish it came naturally to me!) Scrolling through this list of Jen’s top organization posts makes me want to spend ALL DAY getting things in order.

Thanks to a mom on a mission, so many children with Down Syndrome in China now have the chance to join families and flourish. This makes me smile, all the way from my heart to my face.

And if you’ll let me, I wanted to share a piece of my own. It’s the first piece I’ve had published somewhere other than my own site, something I hope to do more of in this new year. I snapped this Instagram picture several months ago when my new North Face jacket arrived in the mail….and was promptly hijacked by my toddler. It made me realize all the many, countless ways we moms give of everything we have.




I’m really looking forward to this next year, and I can’t wait to share with you as I go. Thanks for being here! 

xo 
Shanna 


31 Days of Learning to Simplify: My Mothering


There are about one million ways I could think of to improve my parenting. One million ways I fail and mess up, and one million times when I’ve said or done the wrong thing. I’m sure the people around me would gladly dispense advice and there are books full of checklists to make sure I’m doing everything just right, all the time. 

It’s so much pressure. 

But God doesn’t put pressure on me to be a more perfect mom. His approach is much different, gentler. He picks my tired self up off the hot seat, and then he doesn’t just leave the seat empty for me to find my way back again. He sits in my place.

He sees me in the monotony of my days, at my best and my worst, and he’s pleased. He tells me I’m a good mom (sometimes more than once, when I really need convincing). 

That’s because the Lord looks past my mom “failures” and “wins” and peers deep into my mama heart. 

He knows the soaring love I have for this baby of mine, because he sees with the eyes of a Father. A kind Father. A good Father. 

When I feel all caught up in my constant striving to do better and more, I need to remember who he says I am. That is, already enough

Right where I am – I’m enough. You’re enough. 


I’m my best mama-self when I see myself how he sees me. When I parent out of that place, I’m not relying on techniques or methods, I’m just relying on the One who made me a mom in the first place. And He’s enough. 


I am nearing the end of my Write 31 Days Challenge! If you want to read through some of the other posts in this series, click here

sunshine & rainbows


I saw this play on a famous quote written on an Urban Outfitters mug, and I catch myself repeating it constantly. “It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but a good amount of it actually is.” Please don’t be concerned that I get my inspiration from places such as Urban Outfitters. I will explain. (The mug is sold out or I would link up to it…and also buy it for myself.) 

So many applications for this, but motherhood may be the most fitting of all. 

A good amount of motherhood ACTUALLY IS glorious. That’s the secret sauce in this parenting concoction, I’ve decided. I mean, why else would we sign up for this more than once? So much of it is utter chaos and madness and just….insanity. Some of the phrases that exit my mouth are at minimum – ridiculous. “Aven, honey, we do not high five the dog in the face.” And let’s be honest, a good amount of it is also just really, really tough. 

BUT THEN. 

In the midst of an overcast day, we catch a glimpse of sunshine that manages to radiate through the gloom and mundane. The sunshine is blinding it’s so bright. It comes in the form of a gummy baby giggle. Or witnessing their first unsure steps. Or the first unsolicited “I yuh you mommy.” (Actually that last one is definitely a rainbow in my mind. A giant, coloful, unforgettable rainbow.)  These moments – the rays of sunshine and rainbow prisms – shine so brightly, they warm our faces and reflect on our skin and pierce to the depths of our mama hearts. They tuck themselves away to be drawn upon later – a balm for the weary mom’s soul, a sweet memory for reflection at the end of a demanding day, a catalyst to the energy we need to survive the all-nighters. So powerful is this light in our world that it pushes out the dark that has come before and repaints the scene in vibrant color.

If today has been arduous or exhausting or marginally insane for you, just wait for it. Your sunshine is coming. The rainbow is forming. Sometimes the light finds you, and sometimes you have to chase it. Either way, what we find in those bright moments is the promise that mothering is good and important work. HARD work, but SIGNIFICANT. So, so significant. 

And worth every cloudy day. The light always wins. 


when motherhood gives birth to loneliness.


It’s been over a year and a half since I first became mom to a feisty baby girl with a quivering lip and bird cry that I could pick out instantly among the chorus of babies sharing our hall in the hospital. 

I still remember those first months vividly, despite the postpartum hormones and feeling like an legit zombie for at least six solid weeks. 

Such a time of transition and learning and becoming.

My world as a brand new mom naturally orbited around my baby in a perpetual three-hour cycle, day and night, and consisted of breastfeeding (full time job on it’s own – somebody back me up on this), naps, relentless diaper duty, and “playtime”….a.k.a., laying your newborn on a colorful mat to stare at toys they can’t quite reach and can’t quite see. Too nervous to brave outings with my “spirited” newborn, and no close friends with small babies meant I spent most days within the four walls we called home. It was a sweet time, just me and my babe. It was also a lonely time, just me and my babe. 

It doesn’t take long to discover the polarity of motherhood:

lonely and never alone.
chaotic and peaceful.
sweet and demanding.
noisy and quiet.
monotonous and ever-changing.
blissful and heartwrenching.

the best ever and also the hardest ever. 

Glancing over that list, it’s hard to believe anyone signs up for this emotional turmoil. It’s messy. But then, like most great things in life, none of us know what we’re getting ourselves into until it’s too late; and then we’d do it 500 times over. Easy.

//

Feeling the confines of those four walls, I craved connections with people who spoke in actual sentences. That was the only real requirement.

YES. COME AND BRING ALL YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOU was my immediate response to potential visitors. 

They came to my door with smiles and gifts as I welcomed them in with words and feelings. Too many words and feelings, I’m pretty sure. Wow, this motherhood thing – it’s incredible! AND crazy-hard! Giving birth – also HARD! Finding time to take a shower during the day? Hard! How do I get my baby to sleep at night instead of all day long? I know you know the secret. Just cough it up! Is there a Moms In the Know Club you can sneak me into? And pronto?

I couldn’t help it, people. I was “feeling all the feels.”

{Please note: I had help with the baby. Plenty of help. I did not live 600 miles from the nearest relative. No. This was more of a mommy thing than a baby thing.}



I should have seen it coming. 
One day a couple months into this new gig, you wake up, look around, and find that the day has come when you’re on your own. The meals have stopped. The phone isn’t ringing anymore. The check-in texts disappear. Rather abruptly your surroundings are looking less “village” and more “nomad.” 

You squint at your calendar and it starts to make sense: your newborn isn’t new anymore. People have moved on and now expect you to put your big girl panties on and leave the diaper-wearing to your infant. The nerve of these people assuming I know how to be an adult with real responsibilities. 

When things got quiet, what I was really longing for surfaced: a community of women who shared both my season and my heart. Not just someone to bring me a meal and conversation, but someone who knew exactly what I was experiencing to walk this journey with me. Not just for a few weeks, but for the long haul. I didn’t know where to start, so I began to write

I wrote and I wrote some more. To my surprise, other mamas began to chime in with “me too.”  I found encouragement for myself by cheering others on. I was given the invaluable gift of solidarity: Yes, we hear you new mama. This gig is no joke. We see you and we get it. 

I even discovered entire ministries dedicated to building community among moms and providing them with soul-filling, scripture-inspired reassurance. 

This was all an affirming, blessed balm to a new mama’s soul. I was reaching out. And guess what I found? 
My very own little village. 

P.S.,  It was there all along. I had been sitting around waiting for it to come knocking. 

And for some, maybe it does come knocking. Maybe you are blessed enough to have a mom village at your fingertips. But the rest of us will have to seek it out and plant our feet firmly among those who are walking our current path. Among women who understand implicitly and can laugh or cry through the crazy with you. A safe haven to be honest about the radical changes in your life – good and  bad.


This might feel awkward at first – like where to sit at lunch on the first day of school. But it’s worth it to cultivate community. Invite a mom over for a playdate, even if you don’t know each other that well, and go from there. Start a supper club. Start a mom’s night out. Heck, start a blog! 

If you already have a strong sisterhood surrounding you, or once you find one, WHO CAN YOU INVITE IN?  Put “new mom” on your radar – is there someone at your church or workplace that needs support? Welcome her in. The more the merrier.

//

No, motherhood was never meant to be a one woman show. So stop trying. It takes all kinds. It takes everyone pitching in, showing up, speaking up, providing the shoulder, calling, texting, listening, praying, cooking, baby-rocking, insisting yes you will go take a shower while I hold this baby to get this thing done. No mom should feel alone in this. Let’s not let that happen anymore. 

Let’s all jump in and help. You’re gonna get dirty and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to get messy to experience the magic in life.  





both hands.

My 13 month old has just started walking. Parents, you know how it happens. Those first unsure, wobbly steps VERY QUICKLY turn into a tiny human toddling confidently all over the house. I think it only took Aven between one to two weeks to get really good at it. She beams with pride and even applauds herself over this new milestone. It’s adorable. But in the beginning when she was first learning, she would reach up and grab one of my hands. Then she would stand there paralyzed, reeeacching up until she could grab hold of my other hand – only then would she feel brave and secure enough to lift her foot and make a move. It took both hands. I had to be all there.

This really made me think about how often I parent with one hand.

In a literal sense, it’s totally a survival skill for parents, especially in the beginning when you’re holding your child in one arm while functioning with the other. It’s kind of astounding what you can accomplish with one less limb out of necessity. But more importantly, how many times do I parent with one hand, in an absentminded or passive way? Giving my daughter only part of me? I know for a fact that 100% of Aven’s mama does not always show up. Often purely out of distraction with other things. Or sheer exhaustion from LIFE RAISING A BABY. (HOW do people have more than one child?? I need a nap just thinking about it.)

Of course, we can’t be engaged 100% of the time. I know this. Things have to get done, there’s work to do, and it sure would be nice if my floor were actually visible through the sea of toys. That’s what I tell myself. And that’s valid, a lot of the time. But showing my love has to be intentional, always. That’s where the divide between the talk and the walk appears. And for our little ones, LOVE is often spelled out with our hands. We have to SHOW UP. We have to put down our technology, our lengthy to do lists, our multitasking, our busyness, our expectations of motherhood, and our selfish tendencies so we can make ourselves fully available to our babies. Because you know what?

Sometimes both hands are required.

To hold their tiny little faces with two hands when you kiss them……Or for a tight hug with both arms…..To cheer and clap for their big and small accomplishments….So you can scoop them up close and tell them how big you love them…..For playing patty cake….To tickle them until their sides hurt from giggling….So you can splash and make a colossal mess during bathtime….Or for a dance session in the kitchen while the bottle is warming up.

So many opportunities for significant displays of love in the simple and mundane. But you’re gonna have to use both hands.

Colossians 3:12 & 14 says to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these, put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.”

That’s the mom I want to be.

Parents – PUT ON LOVE.
Look with both eyes, fully focused on little faces. Listen to little voices with two ears instead of one. Use both hands. Use your whole self and your whole heart, because YOU make them brave. YOU teach them extravagant love. By simply being YOU.

favorite baby prep ideas

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the writing here at Beloved Nest. 

Whether you are pregnant or growing your family through adoption, expecting a child definitely takes it’s toll – I realize you are already drained. And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this is nothing compared to the exhaustion that’s on it’s way. With two of my best friends joining me in this new life of motherhood, (one welcomed a baby boy in November, and the other is expecting her baby girl in June), I’ve been thinking back on what I would do in advance to prepare for a baby if I were a first time mom again. So here’s my list of suggestions that will ultimately make the newborn twilight zone a tiny bit more sane and manageable, which in turn allows you to enjoy that short phase more. Only take on the ones that speak to you and forget the rest. Well, actually, I lied. There is one must-do that I included for everyone…it’s super important so don’t skip it.

The purpose here is to simplify and prep now so your life is easier later. I promise you’ll thank me.

one.

Decide now which mom friend you’re gonna call or text when (not if) you have a strange mommy or baby question, need a good cry, or just a pep talk. Let them know they’re your “person” – maybe with a coffee and donut in hand as a bribe? – and make sure they’ll be pleasant when (again, not if) a need arises at 3 am. 


two.
Download a baby care app on your phone. It’s convenient for tracking diapers (wet vs. dirty), frequency of feedings, which side you nursed on, baths, naps, etc. since your brain will be on hiatus especially the first few weeks. This is also helpful for pediatrician visits. Instead of a blank stare when they ask “how many times a day is she pooping?” you can just refer to your app. I used the Total Baby app. 

Also – we STILL use a great lullaby and noise app called Sleepy Sounds. It’s nice to have it with me whenever I might need it – in the car, at a hotel, etc. 

three.
Do something to pamper yourself. Mani/pedi, hair trim/color, massage, facial, shopping in Target alone (this would be my pick!) – or all of the above! 🙂  Because lets face it – becoming a mom means you will often be putting yourself at the bottom of the list.



four.

Read a non-baby book. Or at the very least read a book about what to do after the baby gets here. There’s so much focus on the baby’s actual arrival, which is obviously important, but that’s just the beginning! Because then you have a kid to raise, ya know? I would also suggest downloading the She Reads Truth app on your phone or ipad for daily bible devotionals. They are written by women for women. Super convenient during a marathon rocking-your-baby session or while breastfeeding.

five.
Brunch/coffee/dinner/Target shopping trip with girlfriends….just something. Whatever you can make happen – make it happen. This one is for sanity purposes only -you can talk to them about all your crazy thoughts and irrational fears, and they’ll listen without judgement. After the baby comes these outings will be a bit more tricky to plan, but girl time is crucial for mommies and mommies to be. 

six.
While you’re at it…..plan a last supper with your man. Sure, it’s to enjoy one last date with no time constraints, but the real purpose is of the date is to go ahead and put another outing on the calendar 3-4 weeks out from the baby’s expected arrival and set up a babysitter. I’m not kidding – bring your calendars to dinner with you! If you don’t make it a priority starting now, you will honestly be surprised at how quickly 6 months can pass with no date night.


seven.
Get bills and other paperwork up to date and organized. Set up automatic online bill pay if possible. This is just one of those things that you could easily get behind on, because snuggling your baby will win out over nearly all tedious tasks.

eight.
Pick out a birth announcement (or at least a couple favorites) and have a photographer on deck for newborn photos. While you’re choosing the announcement, go ahead and type the name(s) you’ve chosen into the template as one last check to make sure you really love it!


nine. 
Grow an extra arm. I know I needed still need one. Kidding.

ten.

Clear out the storage on your phone. I’m not kidding on this one. My phone consistently tells me “Cannot take photo. Not enough storage” which is beyond frustrating when I’m trying to capture something in the moment. On this same note, go ahead and have your “real camera” battery charged for baby’s arrival. Take a million and one photos, and also video some of those newborn moments. You will be so happy you did.


eleven.
If you’re planning to even TRY breastfeeding, take the time to educate yourself. There is so much more to it than you would imagine. You can take a class at a local hospital (they will discuss the basics and show some videos), skim through The Nursing Mother’s Companion book, or watch some of Dr. Jack Newman’s informational videos.

twelve.
Make one or two baby essentials baskets for around the house. Pack some diapers, wipes, large burp cloths, diaper cream, and hand sanitizer into a basket so everything you need is easy to reach quickly and portable. I also had a couple of roll up changing mats so I didn’t have to take her to the nursery for every diaper change. Kindly ask guests to use the hand sanitizer before snuggling your baby.


thirteen.

Purchase some Shout Color Catcher sheets for the laundry. This allows you to chunk all your laundry in the same load together without risking running colors. That = less loads, which = less work! I love these things. You may also want to consider signing up for Amazon Mom Prime membership; you can read about it here.


fourteen.
Ask a girlfriend to set up a Meal Train for you right after the baby’s arrival. This is truly the most genius idea ever. Family and friends can sign up to bring you meals and easily view which dates are available. You can warn them of any food allergies or aversions, and select the best time for drop off. See? Genius.

fifteen.
Here it is, the must-do for everyone. 
Looowwweerr your expectations on back down to reality. For your baby, your spouse, YOURSELF. Despite how excited you are now, there WILL come a moment when you think what have we done?! It’s normal. There is a giant learning curve to parenting that never ends. Give yourself some grace. Please don’t expect your baby to be superbaby – they will cry inconsolably at times. Your husband will not always be superdad – he’s tired too. And no one expects you to be supermom. You’ll feel inadequate and have way more questions than answers, but you CAN do this. Perfection is not a pre-requisite for becoming a parent. (Praise Jesus!)


Tackle some of these now so you can have less to worry about later!

Also, I’d love to hear other helpful suggestions from any moms who have ideas to share.