Love. Babies. Lessons.

2017, and all it’s waves of good change, came crashing into a shore full of washed up lessons. I knew I was in a place where I needed to value family more in my heart. I also knew I was in a place where I needed to surrender a specific stronghold of bitterness but I didn’t know how. All the big blessings came and it wasn’t until the end of the year that I would realize how God was going to use them.

15327388_10207641282331963_3824460975027479935_nIn December 2016, my husband Josh and I attended the “Gifts” course at The Father’s House. It was very eye opening! We were coming to the end of the time we’d been planning to wait to have a child together. Frustration was building because we weren’t where we thought we’d be to create the stability we wanted for that baby. At the end of the class someone prophesied over us that she saw some kind of change coming our way. She said “I don’t know if it’s a job, a car, a house, a baby?….” Josh and I both giggled with tears in our eyes thinking, all of those things God – all of those. In January after much crying out to the Lord we decided we would just start trying for a baby even though we were missing all of those things. We prayed over this child before she was here, we believed we were brought together to leave our legacy.

At the end of February, our very small legacy carrier was on the way. In March we decided to get a new vehicle (although, it was justified at the time to be used for Josh to work an extra job). In June, Josh was blessed with the job he’d been working so hard for. In October we moved into a bigger house JUST in time for a SURPRISE baby GIRL born November 5th. Anaiah is her name and it means “God Answered.”

And God answered it all, the need for a refocus and the bitterness. I have been working in the birth profession for nearly 5 years. Developing my knowledge over the years while witnessing how things do NOT happen the way they should in the hospitals had seriously taken its toll. I’d witnessed more coercion, abuse, and manipulation then I could begin to mention. All towards vulnerable parents who deserve to be respected during a time they will never forget. My work was (and still is) such a huge passion, as it was a mission to change things. As a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor, I was extremely focused on changing things as much as I could. Because of this imbalance, the anger that was developing – this drive started competing with my role as a mom, wife, and follower of Christ.

23415185_10210272206583425_3959298861373837751_oNot only was the gender of our baby a huge surprise (pretty much everyone guessed it was a boy besides Pastor Dan), but her birth and my postpartum experience was as well. A planned homebirth resulted in a hospital birth. A determination to breastfeed better this time came crashing down. I spent about the first six weeks of Anaiah’s life wrestling with the fact that a decision I’d made 5 years ago had completely ruined my ability to breastfeed.

When I birthed Anaiah in the hospital it was a pretty hilarious experience from an outsider’s perspective. I was SO tense and ready to fight that I was barking orders with thirty seconds to spare between contractions. I finally relaxed and started being more frank with my communication. For example, when we attempted to express our desire for Josh to help deliver the baby, the nurse said “oh, we don’t do that here. Maybe if I ask the doctor, but probably not.” I nodded as she spoke, smiled, and responded “okay, thank you for telling us all of that but just so you know – we’re probably just going to do what we want to do.” Can you imagine her face? Ha! It turned out that we just began to deliver our baby ourselves with no one else in the room to ensure we got what was so important to us. Josh even snapped a picture of her coming out with both our hands on her head.

As weird as that may sound to most readers, that was a miraculous moment we’ll never forget. Our family, all connected in the miracle of life. So together. I realized that the big mean scary monster the hospital had become was actually none of that to each individual family I help. I learned that it’s actually not that difficult to communicate your desires. And you can even have some fun with it! I no longer needed to carry such a biter burden for all these families. Now I can teach them without fear!

26685212_10210684610613268_2840468400181914057_oThe postpartum experience wasn’t as much of a quick lesson. I could never fully describe the level of guilt I carried. Can you imagine learning your baby was sick and starving and you didn’t even know? And literally because you made an ignorant and selfish choice to take away her nutrition? Weeks and weeks of desperation trying to make milk. Weeks and weeks of mourning a loss that was so incredibly important to me. I likened the emotional expense to some of the most traumatic things I’ve experienced in life. I looked back on the birth and said to myself, if I could pick being able to breastfeed and trade it for a traumatic birth experience – I would. My priorities were totally shifting. Bonding with and nourishing my baby for what could’ve been a year or two (or more!) was realized as WAY more important than a one-time experience together. As I moved through these thoughts and cried and cried every step of the way, my husband was right by my side. He held me tight as I broke into pieces. We’ve never been through something so difficult before. He taught me how much we need each other. It might be safe to assume, I’ve taught him the same. His new job has been difficult, to say the least, and I’ve been right by his side as well.

All these changes, all these blessings, all these lessons. I already knew I needed to value family more, but I didn’t know how. I already knew I didn’t need to harbor bitterness, but I didn’t know how to get rid of it. Welcome, little baby Anaiah. Such a small person carrying such great truths which “God has answered.” Bitterness was built up in fear, fear was the driving force of distraction against focusing on love. God already said, “There is no fear in love, perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18 Of course, oxytocin lives on as cortisol diminishes and Love wins again.


26756917_10210720229663722_1296659016472475728_oKaren and Josh Brann have been married 18 months. Karen brought two precious girls to their union, Natanya and Mikayla. Their family recently celebrated the birth of a third daughter, Anaiah. Karen has been a childbirth educator, birth doula, and lactation educator/counselor for the last 5 years, helping women and families experience their best birth. Empowering women is part of her life’s biggest purpose now.  She is relentless in giving moms the information she lacked. Not only with HypnoBirthing, but also in how to have a positive hospital birth and how to be successful in breastfeeding.

Christmas Traditions & Photos

Christmas Traditions & Photos | A Collaboration from Daughters Blog Readers

 

Dezirae Hesse: Every Christmas Eve before bed my parents would gift my sisters and me a new set of pajamas to wear, and my dad would read “The Night Before Christmas” to us. Then we’d wake up Christmas Day, all of us in our new pajamas (and we’d stay that way until dinner), and open presents! My sisters and I know every word to that book now, and it’s something I can’t wait to carry on into my family.
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Hannah Clements: Snapped a quick pick of kitty in front of the tree. But we don’t own a cat… Poor kitty was meowing outside our door. I opened the door and she came strolling in to check out our Christmas tree. She saw it was already decorated so she said “Meowy Christmas” and left. Now that I think of it, maybe she was just Christmas caroling.

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Kendle Figueroa: We have annual dinner and ‘pick out the annual ornament’ at the Hotel Del. Some people don’t know, but the Hotel Del does a different ornament every year. Picture attached of some of ours.

Girls always getting matching jammies and open. Christmas Eve.

For several years running we did Ding Dong Ditch with the Henson’s. Several families would buy gifts for other needy families. We’d wrap the gifts caravan over to the house. Place the gifts on the door and one kid would ring the bell and they’d all run. It was always an honor to be the kid to ring the bell.

My encouragement; if you don’t have traditions start them (it’s not too late). I have been sick for 4 weeks now and I have gone a little simple of all things Christmas. It’s been interesting to listen to my kids comment and ask if we are still going to do certain things, not complaining but just wanting to do their Christmas traditions. They both asked, “Is Hotel Del happening this year?” Both thanked me for putting up the hot chocolate bar. I created an area where the kids can make their own home drinks hot chocolate, with candy cane sugar, marshmallows, hot cider, Christmas teas and whatnot. There are tons of ideas out there and it made me think I wish I had more traditions in place.

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Miranda Sprague: Christmas was a big deal in our family. Our parents… I mean Santa… put a lot of love into it. From going to see Santa at the fire station where my dad worked, to making our famous Christmas candy, to wearing Christmas jammies, to my parents having to tie my door shut so I wouldn’t sneak out in the middle of the night to see all my amazing thoughtful gifts. Thankful for family and traditions!

Shannon Mulvanny: We open gifts oldest to youngest one at a time until they are all opened, I love seeing someone’s face when they open a gift I picked for them almost more than getting gifts myself.

My mom used to leave a trail of chocolate covered raisins as the reindeer droppings.

We all bring out our favorite appetizer on Christmas Eve and have a pig out fest!

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Barbara Christiansen

Traditional Black Friday shopping (photo Ryan Walsh).

Matching Jammies at Nanny & Poppy’s

Buzz as Santa with Barb and their girls, Tracy (Daugherty) & Stacy (Brown)

Andrea Pinner: Joe, the girls and I have a baking day in December every year where we listen to Christmas music and bake mostly cookies all day. We follow this with driving around to different friends’ houses where we sing carols for them and give them a bag of our baked goodies. I LOVE IT, and look forward to it with great anticipation every year.

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Merry Christmas from the Daughters Blog Team!

Ask yours – kids say the darn’dest things

Ask Yours – Kids Say the Darn’dest Things | Posted by Bethany Luchetta

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So, this is meant to be fun, a little holiday jest! We all love hearing what those precious humans have to say about hard to grasp topics. So, go ahead, ask your kids a question about Christmas, or tell us something they randomly said about the holidays.  Post it on the fB feed below the blog post.

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Livvy Lou Luchetta

I will give some examples of things that have come out of my lil Livvy Lou about the holidays.

We went to a tree lighting and Livvy saw a man dressed like Santa come up on stage. She got really excited and exclaimed, “Mom! God brought Santa back from the dead!” Pure excitement. It reminded me of that scene from the Elf when Buddy heard Santa was going to visit Gimbals, hands clapping and all!

We were talking about Christmas and she declared, “I have Noah in my heart.” Babhaha. Close honey, but the wrong bible character.

In talking about how we celebrate the birth of Jesus, she explained to me, “God had to bring Jesus back from the dead so that I wouldn’t miss him.” I can’t really argue with that methodology.

Livvy asked to sing away in the manger, we have a book that goes along with the song. At the end of the song “…Asleep on the hay” –  she looks at the picture of Jesus and says, “No, he’s not! He’s awake! Mom, let’s change the words to the song.” She proceeds to sing, “Awake on the hay!” in true form.

Okay… Now it’s your turn. Light it up!

Merry Christmas

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A Candid View of the Holidays (Through the Heart of a Single Mother)

A Candid View of the Holidays (Through the Heart of a Single Mother) | Collaboration by Sally Smith & Sonya Finley

Sonya Finley: My memories of being a single mother at Christmastime takes me back to when my own mother was doing it, single with five children. Back then, I am not sure if I understood how she struggled just to survive daily life. But, add to that the pressure of trying to provide us with joy at Christmas, well, now you know who Wonder Woman was modeled after.  There was never “a lot”, yet somehow she managed to make Christmas special and memorable.

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I remember the little 3 foot artificial tree that was the center piece for most of our Christmases. It sat atop a small round end table and was decorated with all the handmade ornaments each of us created at school. At some point it was so covered with our creations you could barely see the tree. Oftentimes presents did not appear under that little tree until Christmas Eve. It turns out a lot of the time that was just when she was able to pull something together, whether from her pocket or various last minute charitable donations.

My mother was the master of innovation. Her creativity during times of struggle created some of our favorite holiday traditions we follow today. For instance, because she could not afford to give us all money to buy presents for all five of us, she instituted the “draw names” tradition. Each child would pull a name and that would be the person they Fotolia_125617063_Subscription_Monthly_M.jpgwould buy a gift for. Our budget, $5. It wasn’t much, but boy would we make it stretch! More often than not, we would have change left over and so would combine it to buy a
special gift for our mother.  Believe it or not, we still do this today! And we have passed it down to our own children. Finding stocking stuffers for five kids was another budget buster, but my mom, true to form, came up with a creative solution for that. Bubble gum machine toys!! Yup! My mom and sometimes my older sister would stand out by the gum machines of whatever store we were shopping at, putting in nickels, quarters, and dimes and pulling out fantastic treats we would later open with childish glee on Christmas Eve. And yes, stockings are still a must have in every household! My oldest sister even sent hers from Georgia one year to be “stuffed”.

I grew up and I too found myself single with children at Christmas. And while loneliness can be an issue—especially when everyone else in your family is married—oddly enough it was not my most pressing concern.  My struggle arose from simply not having enough
to do what I wanted to do for my children. I was barely getting the bills paid and then had to find “extra” to bring a little joy to my sons. Of course, having watched my mom navigate through those rough times with love, laughter, and creativity I was found the strength to do the same. I did what I had to do, I accepted charity (in many different forms)—no matter how humiliated I felt in the process—and believe me, sometimes the processes for receiving charity were humiliating indeed. I vividly remember one year I signed up to be adopted. I sat and went through the long process, hoping to be selected; then only to be given a small bag of four, dollar-tree toys—one for each son. When I questioned it, I was told that since I had nothing, I should be grateful for whatever was given to me. I was so broken. I was so disappointed. I so wanted to do more for my sons. Believe me, it is a most horrible feeling to want to do for your children but then not being able. I do not remember how things worked out that year. I think family pitched in, but I am certain that somehow my sons had gifts they were pleased with. If you ask them, they never had complaints about their Christmases.

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These days I am still single with children but they are all grown and able to do for themselves. Having gained an understanding and appreciation of past struggles, they have grown into young men who are loving and generous in spirit. Our Christmases are not just about the gifts that mom can give (they buy me gifts now!), but about family and keeping alive the traditions passed on to us by a woman who, in spite of circumstances, created the best Christmases EVER!!

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Sally Smith: Ah, the life of the ‘Single Parent’. Many of us ‘Single Parents’ did not start out single and going it alone. We may have had similar beginnings as lots of the intact families that you know and love… I did anyhow. I had the wedding, the baby showers, the family get-togethers and birthday parties. Year after married year, I had that unit, and fell into the rhythm that comes with two parents and… however many kids.

7cfad5efd14a6cf0e567173a5b5f01c4--christmas-card-photos-ideas-for-christmasRegardless of the state of my family, there was a predictable quality that encompassed the preparations and observances during the holidays. I did not know it prior to my leap to singularity, but holidays were designed around the model of that type of unit. During the first few years of being alone and raising kids, the holiday motions were like learning to walk after losing a leg. This dramatic visual is to say that it was painful, confusing, and imbalanced, but necessary in order for me, and for my kids, to move forward.
I am in no way throwing a pity party; I was the one that set the separation into motion, that needed to create the change that split our family apart. Like I mentioned, I did not realize how different our holidays would be, and I would not have done things differently, but I will fully admit that I had to get on board with the big changes that came my way.

You+Will+Survive+This+Christmas+As+A+Single+MomWithout going into sad and embarrassing detail, I will say that several things are drastically different: finances, traditions, and people that you celebrate with are among the biggies. We Single Parents (maybe not all, but some) have to find ways to maximize financial resources during the holidays in order to create as small of a wake as possible. For me, it is not so much to be an extravagant gift giver, but more so that my kids would not have to experience a jarring difference or lack that might elicit concern over my financial state. I have attempted to stretch and make it feel like holidays of old, but always worry that I might not be doing enough.

Obviously, traditions have to change, too. The schedule of the holidays and the family members that are present change. Knowing that my kids would have to adjust to new scenarios, minus me, was worrisome. I felt sad that they might have to incur awkward times, and have difficult conversations. The new normal takes a while to settle in. I am on year-4, and the holidays are finally starting to take on a new, hopeful shape.

Yes, there is hope! Prayers have been answered, hard work has been rewarded, new relationships have been formed, and children are resilient. Love conquers all! I have held fast to my convictions and stayed committed to my Single Parenthood, and through it all, I have been richly blessed. I am constantly reminded that “It is well, it is well with my Soul”.


Sally Smith is a 40-something Mother of two daughters, both whom are loving, talented, and independent. Lila, 19, just started her 2nd year at GCU, and Rubi, 13, just began attending the Orange County School of the Arts. When Sally is not busy driving to the train station, to dance, or selling two way radios (no, really, that is her job!), she can be found shakin’ it at Zumba, or cooking/surfing/chilling with her main squeeze. Life is Beautiful…

20170113_074913-1-1Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

First things First

Run To Jesus | By Andrea Pinner

First things first:

  1. Everything I’m about to write I’m saying to myself too.
  2. Girl, I know you’re busy, so I’ll be short and sweet, just like my mama. (Love you, Mama!)

I wish I could sit real close, look deep into your eyes and tell you that you have ALL that you need to be the parent that you want to be. How do I know this? Because you have Jesus. He is our source for everything that we need.

image2Just to be clear, I’m not talking about cute bento lunch boxes, or perfectly decorated or
labeled anything. I’m talking about you and me as mothers. How we behave when we are around our kids. Now listen, your kids don’t need the perfect version of yourself. I hate to break it to you, but they already know you’re not perfect. They need to see you pursuing the One who is though, with all that you have.

Now get this, let it really sink in deep, the enemy is going to want to twist this all up so let’s get something straight. You are enough because Jesus is enough. This is not another failed to do list. This is an invitation to spend more time with the One who loves you and knows you better than anyone else.

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Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten how busy you are. I know you just want to go to the bathroom by yourself and your body is begging for more sleep. I’m not saying you must carve out a beautiful serene quiet time into your day. Maybe that’s impossible in this season we’re in, so just remember this; HE is always with you!

 

Your kids are cranky and you’re about to lose your mind? Run to Jesus. It’s bedtime and they want one more story or drink of water. Run to Jesus. You’re running late and that one child of yours, you know the one, has misplaced their shoes again! Run to Jesus.

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Our kids need to see us running to Jesus in the everyday moments. Let them see you read your bible for a couple minutes with breakfast, worship Him in song or dance, listen to podcasts while driving or doing your make up, pray when you’re anxious, or angry, or sad. They don’t need perfection. They need real. Real Pursuit of Jesus.

The world will show them a million false things to turn to for peace, strength, joy, and love. Let it be us (their mamas) that show them by example to always, always run to Jesus.

 

 

 


Andrea Pinner is a daughter of the King, wife of 18 years to her love, Joseph, and mother to her five dearly treasured daughters. She loves to sing, dance, cook, and write. Flowers, butterflies and cool crisp mornings are her favorite. She’s passionate about encouraging young women and other mamas in their daily walk by being transparent with her own struggles and victories.