The Beauty of Baby Brain

Today I discovered that I've been using the incorrect due date for most of my pregnancy. Talk about a let down. Just when I thought I had 5 weeks left until my due date, I discover I have 6. And when you are in the last "home stretch" of your pregnancy, that is the kind of news that will make you cry. Or maybe it was just me.

Over the last few weeks, I have had an overwhelming need to slow down and quiet down. It's not that my calendar has been incredibly full, it's that I have kept my mind full and occupied at all times. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for many years, quieting my mind is not only difficult, but would almost encourage the anxiety to surface. I have always kept "noise" on around me. Music in the car. Podcasts while I workout. Netflix on in the background at home. Netflix on, even while I'm reading. There was a day a few weeks ago where I felt like I might lose my mind. So many thoughts, to-dos, fears, frustrations and things to look forward to were swirling in my head (as usual), but add on the intensified emotions of pregnancy and I just thought I might go crazy.

I was getting ready to go on my daily walk around our lovely neighborhood and realized my headphones were missing and immediately considered not going on my walk because having a podcast to listen to makes the time go by faster. A small voice told me to just go and enjoy a quiet walk. By the time I got back home I was amazed at how much I noticed. The sounds I heard, the things I saw. I take the same walk each day, and it was like a completely different neighborhood. Because I was present.

One thing I love about the Lord is that He is all about the details. There have been so many moments that are seemingly insignificant, but help me feel (or see) His love. Throughout this pregnancy, it has been so evident to me that He is in the details, because HOW ELSE could this miracle happen?! Honestly, the fact that not only does my body create a HUMAN without me doing anything (other than taking prenatal vitamins and not eating sushi...ok and a few other things), but it also creates an entirely new organ to sustain that human's life. Hello. This is amazing. My hips hurt, she's kicking my organs and I can't get out of bed without rolling over like a beached whale, but seriously. Still amazing.

He is down to the details, even this thing called "baby brain". I always associated it with forgetfulness, which is of course very true, but I realized that as soon as I got pregnant, many of the fears and anxieties I used to have took their place on a far away shelf because my mind had no room for them. (Shout out to therapy!) I had to realize that what was happening in my body was in almost every way, out of my control. As time went on, I had to force myself to let go of things in my schedule that were making me too busy because I mentally could not operate at the capacity I did before. As someone who likes to be productive and maximize every minute of the day, I have learned to see it as God's way of nudging me to ENJOY this pregnancy. Enjoy the fact that you need to take naps now. It's good for you and the baby. Enjoy the fact that you have your evenings free, so you can spend time reading and cooking (which you love doing).

Last week, our staff blessed all the Mom's with a little gift bag, which included the book "Breaking Busy" by Alli Worthington. Incredible timing (God's details!) that I would get this book to read. Just three chapters in and it's a refreshing reminder that I need to be more intentional about being busy with PURPOSE and not just wearing myself out, especially during this time of preparing for a newborn.

Alli says, "Finding your passions that lead to your purpose may feel difficult at times, but remember this: God's not keeping it a secret from you. He's waiting for you to stop striving and set everything aside that is keeping you busy and distracted, then turn your attention to him." In a season where there has been a tremendous amount of change in a short of amount of time, this is something I needed to hear. So far this year, Jon and I have been preparing to no longer be two, but three. We've had a few of our close friends move and we've found a new home for our growing family and then lost that home forcing us to prepare our 1-bedroom for a baby. We've also been navigating what it looks like for Jon to get some incredible work opportunities (and to hope that this will lead to a full-time opportunity). It's a lot. To say 2016 has been an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement. Through ALL of this, I've been trying to figure out what God has for me: what my purpose is and what to do next. And ultimately, because of this "baby brain" of mine, I've been nearly forced to slow down and not worry. Yes, I have days where my emotions take over and I freak out about how we are going to pay for things and where we are going to live and how it's all going to work out. But I have felt that peace that surpasses all understanding more than I can remember and I'm pretty confident I have baby brain (and of course the Lord) to thank!

So let me encourage you. Whatever season you may find yourself in (and whether you have baby brain or not), slow down. Make space for quiet. Be intentional about the things you are making yourself busy with and focus on the things that will fill your soul, not just your calendar.


A Life That Is Captivating

Now, in my 6th month of pregnancy, waiting to meet my little girl, I have felt such a deep sense of responsibility about the kind of life I live. Every time I feel her kick I swell with joy and excitement at the thought of meeting her. We dream of who she will be, whom she will look like. More than anything, I pray that she would have a deep sense of purpose in the One who calls her by name even before she is born. The weight of bringing life into this world is profound and utterly amazing. It's inspired me to pave a road before her that displays strength and trust in the identity our Father gives us. Something I have to admit doesn't come naturally to me.

I've been thinking about the character of women, and how often in our society we have two extreme opinions: a traditional, subservient woman who should stay at home and serve her family, or an extreme feminist few that encourages a woman to break free of any mold and stick it to the man. When I look at Proverbs 31, I see a harmony of the two.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Her family has confidence in her. She works hard. She gets to work and does business. She takes care of her household. She is gracious and helpful. She is fearless. Strong. Wise. Faithful. Worthy of praise. What a beautiful and perfect picture of a woman who can be both a servant and a leader.

There is a penetrating beauty that can be found in the secure feminine soul. Captivating talks about the longing that every little girl feels to be swept up in romance and to play a role in a great adventure. The author says, "Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now, as the Hero of your story - to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating."

This is the legacy I hope to leave. Not only for my daughter, but for other girls / women who are living in a society that has so blurred what their identity is or where it is. In Christ. It's not in our job, our relationships, our family, where we live or how we look. It's in Jesus. There is so much freedom in that! A freedom I am still trying to live in everyday. It's alarming how easy it is to slip back into the comfort of a husband, a boyfriend, a good job and forget that none of those things will give us what we really need.

So far, 2016 has been a tough year. God is moving and doing something great I'm sure, but the process is difficult and at times painful. This morning, I read something that resonated deeply with this current season. This blog writer said, "We can't escape God and His stormy gale of purpose. He pursues us with love that is filled with a beautiful intensity unlike anything we have ever known." I feel grateful despite the pain I am experiencing because I can see glimpses of what He's doing in my heart. I can see Him trying to answer the questions I've been asking for a while now: "What is my purpose?" "What are you calling me to?" "What is my role in the great adventure?" I see Him creating something new in me through the storm I feel like I'm in. There's nothing like bringing a life into this world to make me start asking some big questions. To make me take a serious look at myself and say, "It's time to get it together." I mean, seriously Vittoria get it together. (And then cue a good cry, because #hormones.)

Often, I feel so alone when it comes to this concept of "calling and purpose". As believers, we are so focused on that (as we should be), but it's so easy to slip into the comparison game and feel like I'm missing out on something. Now, working at a church, it's even more difficult for me at times feeling like I must be the only one around here who has no idea what God is calling me to do with my life. Sure, I know that I've always loved writing and now I'm entering this new season of motherhood, but what does it all mean and how can I make a difference? I'm surrounded by a lot of people who are relentlessly pursuing the callings on their lives and I find myself feeling like I should really have it together by now.

My prayer is that if there is anyone else out there feeling a little lost and like they don't have it together, that they know they aren't alone. I also hope that as a community we can enter into a season of finding beauty in the purpose of simply being that "Proverbs 31" woman that we hear about all the time. Maybe one of the greatest legacies we can leave the next generations is finding security in who God says we are. To being bold and courageous, quiet and confident, and trusting God to use us, simply by being faithful in those small things.

The invitation to this year's Colour Conference reads, "Be found so that others may find hope through you." I love the simplicity in this statement. The focus on our identity as a woman and making the world a better place by being found in our Savior. I don't want to get so wrapped up in doing something BIG that I forget about being faithful in the small. I'm beginning to see that it is in those baby faith steps that we can be led into our big moments

What do you think? How does your identity play into your purpose? What, in your opinion, is the greatest way we can leave a legacy as women?