Monday, December 15, 2014

nicky james is three & what I'm so glad i know now

A week and a half ago, this funny, loving, energetic, creative little boy turned 3. 

When I met him in a little hospital in Montana three years ago, I knew that I loved him.
But I didn't know how much that love would grow.
I didn't know what it would sound like to hear him say, "Mama, I love you." 
I didn't know what it would be like to watch him make his little brother giggle like no one else can. 
I had no idea how much he'd make me laugh or that he'd love to "make jokes."
I couldn't imagine the incredible JOY I'd feel when I heard him sincerely praying for the first time, when he was afraid (and as I eavesdropped outside his bedroom), asking Jesus to help his little heart.
I didn't know that he'd say, "You look like a ballerina!" when I wear an apron, or how sweet it would feel to have his big, 3-year-old self crawl into my lap just for a snuggle. 
I certainly had NO idea how much I would know about planes, cars, trains, and dinosaurs.
(Or how much I'd read about strong-willed children and how many deep breaths I take per day.) :)

This feisty, hilarious, smart, beautiful, dramatic, caring, particular, friendly boy has changed my life in the most incredible way. HE IS A GIFT. Thank you Lord for the joy and privilege of being Nicholas' mama. Three years of discovering delight, and my own deep need for Jesus, all because I get to be his mom. God is the giver of good gifts.

I love you Nicky James.

From this:
Sweet, 1-day old Nicholas and I

To this:

Nicholas James, you rock my world little man. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

to my friends who are new wives and new moms this holiday season

If you're celebrating a "first" this holiday season, your first holiday as a wife or as a mom, this blog post is for you.

I come from a family that is all about Christmas and traditions. Not in an over-the-top way, but growing up we really looked forward to the holidays. I knew that my mom was going to put up beautiful decorations that made our house feel like, well, a Christmas card. I knew that on Christmas Eve we ate homemade clam chowder, sang Christmas hymns and opened our present-laden stockings. My parents found a wonderful way to make the holidays about Jesus and family, and it felt magical. Some of my favorite childhood memories are wrapped up inside this holiday.

My first Christmas as a wife?
We ate lunch meat ham served on top ramen noodles.
Talk about some major holiday disappointment. Let me back up a little.

Brian and I were 21 and we'd been married for just over 8 weeks. We'd recently moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to be on staff with a missions organization, and were preparing to go overseas for a few months - so we were not rolling in the dough. We lived in a dorm room, complete with termites and lime green carpet, and I don't really need to say that it was definitely NOT cozy winer weather; a balmy 78 degrees was pretty average for a December day in Hawaii. My only Christmas decorations were from a box that my mom so lovingly shipped to me, including a "make your own stockings kit," which we never got around to (sorry Mom!) - so I had a row of knitted mittens hung on our wall, and not much else in the way of Christmas cheer.

Newlywed babies in Hawaii

Brian and I woke up on Christmas morning and exchanged presents. He opened a new flashlight, and I opened an odd, ill-fitting dress (think mustard yellow, pink-tie-dye, eyelets, and a bow, all in one dress - he's a much better gift giver now!). We spent time with friends during the day and Skyped with our families. Then, when it was time for Christmas dinner, we headed to our kitchen where all we had left was lunch meat ham and top ramen. So my sweet husband, the caretaker and provider that he is, heated up that ham on a frying pan and served it to me over some salty top ramen.

Can you guess how much I cried that day?
This was not the sparkly, cinammon-scented, newlywed Christmas I had imagined. I didn't bake Christmas cookies while wearing a sexy Mrs. Claus apron (still haven't done that, for the record). There was no Christmas ham, unless you count the lunch meat. There was no tree. I felt like I had failed as a wife and ruined our family's future holidays, with no cutesy traditions or magical stories to tell to our someday children. I was not my mom, and this was not Christmas.

You know what?
We laugh so hard now as we retell that story. God has written some unique, and honestly funny, chapters of our family's story.
Since that first Christmas, we've spent holiday seasons in our parents homes, in cozy dorm rooms and apartments, and one Christmas in Guatemala - complete with a tiny Christmas tree we packed in our suitcase and watching our Guatemalan friends light off gigantic, slightly terrifying fireworks.
Our first Christmas as parents consisted of flying home to Washington with a 2-week-old Nicholas.
I was recovering from a c-section and was wonderfully postpartum chubby and lethargic. Christmas Day I had a cold and took a nice long nap - don't remember what else happened besides trying to fit a tiny Nicholas into his stocking for a photo.  :)
Last year we lived with my mother in law and I didn't even get out our Christmas decorations.

Christmas in Guatemala  |  2-week-old Nicholas
1-year-old Nicholas  |  2-year-old Nicholas

To my friends who are celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as new wives or new moms - it's ok if the day isn't perfect. It probably won't be. If it's poo blowouts in your baby's special Christmas outfit, or opening a very small stack of presents inside of your meagerly-decorated newlywed home, or top ramen and lunch meat for dinner - let yourself enjoy it. This is part of the unique, beautiful, funny story that God is writing for your family.

Let Him write your story.
Let Jesus be present with you, because He is.
Whether your day consists of moments you'd never want to share on Instagram, or if it ends up being totally dreamy - don't despise the small beginnings.
This is a beautiful part of your story, whether it's a hard chapter or a warm and fuzzy one.

You will probably look back one day and laugh.
And if it's not a funny story, but instead a painful one - I bet one day you will remember this time with a humble gratefulness, thanking God for all He taught you and for how faithful He has been through the hard stuff.

Here's to humble holiday beginnings, letting the Lord write our stories, and enjoying the reality and beauty that comes with new babies, new experiences, and the ever-shifting stories God is writing into our lives.

Monday, November 17, 2014

#12prayers for you and your kids

Photo via Rachel / Sarah

Moms, if you are like me, you a) don't have hours to pray throughout the day, b) would love more resources to teach your kids about prayer, and c) love Instagram.

Enter Rachel Baxter from Being Made Beautiful. This woman is a mom of five and also an amazing woman of prayer. She started an online community of women who pray (not just moms!) with her #12prayers movement. Twice a month, Rachel and her team write 12 prayers surrounding one topic, and this community of hundreds of women pray Scripture-based prayers throughout the day. Rachel posts the prayers on Instagram, and the idea is to take just 3-5 minutes each time one of the 12 prayers pops up, to pray on the topic.

Today the ministry that I work with and absolutely love, Thrive Moms, has teamed up with Rachel and the #12prayers community to pray through 12 Prayers for the Armor of God. Rachel has written some beautiful prayers based on Ephesians 6, in order for us as moms to pray over ourselves and our kids that we might put on the full armor of God. She's included prayers we can pray with our kids, to teach them about God's armor and also how to pray through "putting on" that armor. What a great resource.

Will you hop over to Rachel's Instagram (@makesomethingbeautiful) today, or to Rachel's blog, and take a few minutes throughout today to pray with us? The easiest way to follow along is on her Instagram account, or searching #12prayersforthearmorofGod on Instagram. We'd love for you to join us!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

a little october recap

If you visited my blog last month, I wrote solely on one topic in October, for my Settling Down & Looking Up series. It ended up being a challenge, joy, and inspiration to write! But I missed sharing about other parts of my life, too. So I thought I'd give a little Byersdorf family recap with just a few fun pictures  of what our month held. And a heads up - you're about to see the cutest dynamic duo you've ever seen.

Our October:

A day at the pumpkin farm with Central Community Church!

Nick enamored with construction by our house, such an almost 3-year-old boy.
Brian and I went to see Ryan Adams in concert! SO good.

Baking together has been so fun this month, Nicholas loves "cones!"
And our hearts were STOLEN on Halloween by Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody.
Find their costumes here and here!

This was such a fun month! November is already off to a speedy start. I'm praying that I can continue to find joy and life as I obey the Lord in His callings in my life. He is GOOD.

*Affiliate link used.

Friday, October 31, 2014

the "yes" is for our good, the "yes" is worth it :: the final post in this series (day 23)

Well, today this journey is officially over. I'm still on day 23 and technically the whole idea is to write for 31 days...but I'd say for having two small kids and being involved in two different ministries and enjoying brushing my hair everyday, I did pretty good! :)

Oh I'm so cheesy, but though this #write31days series ends today, I know that this idea the Lord has placed in my heart to look to Him as I settle into this season, and say YES to Him - it's just beginning.
And at the end of this whole thing, I feel like my heart has been brought right back to where I was on day one: my utter, real, desperate need for Jesus. To do anything good. 

Guys. Self.
I cannot say yes to anything the Lord asks me to do. Not without Him.

I am actually NO BETTER than I was the beginning of October.
I might have searched my heart and God's Word more than I had before, but myself? I still try to find ways to get around really having to say yes to Jesus. I'm still feeling like I'm standing on the edge and feeling too scared to just jump.
I'm not 100% "settled down."

But this month I have also seen God be really good.
Even though I'm a scared, tiny woman, in those moments that I quietly nodded my head and whispered, "Okay, Jesus" - He was there. He was faithful.
He gave me more and revealed Himself more than I ever though He would when I uttered that feeble word.

At the end of this month, I know that He is with me when I say yes. (I mean, He's with me when I say no too, but what I mean is that He is ever present and doesn't leave me hanging when I step out to obey Him.)
I also know, just a little more than I did before, that saying yes to Him is totally for my good, and for the good of other's too. When I said yes to Him in regards to my family, I was so darn blessed. And so were they. I said yes on some new ministry opportunities, and it has brought me life and dreams that I am so excited about.

He is good. He asks. We, very scared and feebly, say yes. He stays the same, good and faithful as always. He continues to be present, we mess up and sometimes say no and sometimes say yes. And still, He's faithful, present, and good. Saying yes is worth it.