Six months.

Six months ago I had a baby.

Wow.

It still leaves me in awe to be able to type that. Sometimes I look at him, and I cannot believe he is real. We prayed so long and so hard. And though our struggles were no comparison to what others have gone through, we could only hold our breaths with each doctor’s appointment and sonogram wondering if this little bean would come to be.

He did! And we give all praise to God for this gift.

I did not write much about my pregnancy and really only mentioned it in passing on this blog. First, I was so sick and so tired and the bare minimum was about all I was able to do in my day-to-day life. But there’s been a lot of wrestling going on as well over the past year about what about my children I should and should not put online. I want to protect them and I know full well these babies grow up into 11-year-olds (ahem) that do not want their pictures online. And, I have to say, it’s been special to share about little Z in a limited way on social media with, for the most part, only my family and closest friends. It also motivates me to detail his life as best as I can offline.

At the same time, I’ve written so much about my older son in this space that I’d be remiss to not mention his little brother at all. And since I just post pictures and not too many details on Z’s life on Facebook and Instagram, here’s a fun little update on all our little man is up to.

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Z-man! You are six months old today! I look at you and cannot comprehend how you can encompass everything I have ever wanted and yet everything I did not know I needed. Here are some highlights from your first six months on earth:

  • We get a different weight for you at the different offices we go to you, so that’s been frustrating for your mommy! But you’re about 13.5 pounds (tiny thing!) and roughly 26-27” in length. You’re just growing out of your 3-months clothes, but fit comfortably in your 3-6 months ones.
  • Your eyes turned from gray to now a greenish-gray and it looks like you may have your daddy’s hazel eyes. You were born with a TON of hair. Black at first, but now a light brown with hints of blond and even red. It was mostly straight but now is starting to curl! You have your momma’s skin color. I fear the sunburns already!
  • You are known for being HAPPY. There is not one person or doctor who has seen you who has not commented on how joyful you are. You are a friendly, smiley baby.
  • At the same time, in every way possible, you are the complete opposite of your big brother. You can be needy and you cry a lot more than he did. But that’s okay. You like constant attention, people looking at you, or someone to hold you. Nothing wrong with that.
  • You love the bath! You love to watch the water and now play in it.
  • You love for your mommy to wear you. No matter what time of day as soon as I put you on me, you lay your head on my chest and fall fast asleep. At the same time, you love watching the world around you when you are awake.
  • You are down to two good naps–one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You go to bed anywhere between 8:30-9:30 which I love because that means we sleep until late. You still wake to nurse at night, but it doesn’t even affect Mommy anymore as you go right back to sleep. You can give me a few hour stretches for which I am grateful.
  • You have seem to be teething for months, but no teeth yet!
  • You have been babbling for quite some time now. You know how to have a conversation in your own baby way.
  • You roll from front to back and back to front with ease and can sit up all on your own.
  • You went to your first Mets game on Sunday, May 17, 2015.
  • You took your first class – a baby signing time class. I’m pretty sure you understand the milk sign and I’m convinced you do it, but Daddy and your brother will disagree. You simply had fun listening to the songs and putting all the toys in your mouth.
  • You are a physical therapy graduate! Breastfeeding did not come easy for us, but it was something momma believed in and I want you to know how hard I worked to give you the very best possible. Through a visit with a lactation consultant we learned you had torticollis and a slight flattening of your head. We did physical therapy and you “graduated” way ahead of the normal prognosis. Your physical therapist was so proud of you! And it’s not just your mommy that thinks so–she said you are very advanced for your age. You have motor skills that are on level with a 7-to-9 month olds and other skills past that even. Unlike your brother who did things “later”, we think you will be our early bird.
  • You are SO ready to eat! You have shown signs of readiness since you were four months old, grabbing our food any change you got and I’m so glad you finally get to dive in and enjoy the world of solids!
  • I love how you recognize your family, especially your mommy. Your eyes will follow me all over a room and if you cry, mommy picking you up instantly helps. You are such a joy to us!

You are a joy in our lives and I can no longer picture our family without you.

Thank you, Lord, for the honor to experience having a baby again. It’s been so much fun doing a lot of things the same but also recognizing how I should have done things different with my older one. I am relishing and cherishing this baby, not knowing if he is my last. I’m so glad I’m able to relax. I don’t feel time passing too quickly, but I know it is. And I’m just soaking it all in as best as I can. I think I will remember every detail, but I know I won’t. But I love him so very much and that’s what I want him to know one day when he reads this.

I will not be posting baby’s picture on the blog, but know that he is the cutest, sweetest thing possible!

And now? I totally get to start planning his first birthday!

I love you Z-man.

~Mommy

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Closing a chapter.

IMG_0690My dearest boy,

One of the most profound statements, in my opinion, that I’ve ever made in this little writing space of mine is that there would never be enough time to love you with all that I have.

And as we approach the birth of your little brother or sister, that statement has been swirling around in my head. Because it’s true. There was not enough time.

Anticipating the arrival of your sibling does not mean I will stop loving you, of course. But the time and attention I’ve been able to devote to just you is ceasing, and the tears that fall when I think of that are a mixture of gratefulness and sadness of this era that is coming to an end.

God really hit it out of the park by giving your father and I you as a first child. I do not know if that will help us to be better parents this second time around, or if it scares us to think there is no possible way to have another child like you. Because, boy, are you special. And one of my biggest prayers have been to never compare our newest arrival to the baby and child and now young man you have become, because it just wouldn’t be fair. There’s something about you, little man. You’re from a mold never to be replicated.

I’ve always been very intentional in my relationship with you, but even more so since finding out about this baby. I will fondly look back to the summer of 2014 as one of our best. I will forever remember mornings of making pancakes, racing in pools, playing soccer on the beach, and days in the city. IMG_0692

But most of all, I’ll remember how well you loved and cared for me. How the young man who was beginning to grow began to become aware as well that our relationship would be changing and so he grabbed my hand a bit more often and cuddled on the couch more frequently.

For months now, I’ve been hearing what a great big brother you will be. But really, I think about what an amazing husband you will be one day should you choose to get married. From opening car doors for me to yelling–yes, yelling–every time you saw me bend to pick up something because I was pregnant and should not be doing “manual labor” as you called it, your heart to care and protect someone you love was so evident. You let me rest, you learned a lot more independence, and I’m so grateful for this immense understanding you have with all we’ve dealt with these last nine months.

I love you, my son. A baby will never change that, and yet I know I will now need to learn how to divide, or at least share, my attention between a new creation that needs me and a young man who does as well. That’s hard to do after ten years. I will have children in two very completely different stages of life and I pray for the grace and knowledge to know how to deal with both simultaneously. I am confident that both of us will rise to the challenge.

Tofer, there’s no doubt you have been one of my best friends. And I pray you will never be negatively affected by this new arrival, but only experience joy in this new season of our lives. Having another child was never an indication of not being 100% completely satisfied with having only you. The peace and contentment the Lord gave me in being okay with having an only child was overwhelming. You are and will remain one of my earthly everythings. The space you have in my heart is going to be hard to shift, but I know it will be done. It’s hard to imagine loving another the way I’ve loved you, and that’s the truth being written, but I know I will love your sibling in both the same and different ways. There’s no doubt though that our relationship will always be built on something immensely special.

I feel like there’s so much more I can write, but I’ll end it here. With a lot of love and gratefulness to God about the son he has thus far blessed me with.

I pray on the days of sleepless nights and having a tired mama, you will be filled with understanding. I pray your sibling will be your new best friend despite the age gap. I pray you will be blessed by this new arrival and never miss your “only child” status.

No, Goob, there was not enough time to love only you with all that I have. But, I pray, there are many many more decades to come of continuing to try.

Congratulations on being promoted to big brother. I hope it is everything you have imagined it to be.

With love always,

Mommy

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May may be over, but let’s still celebrate.

How did June creep up on me so quickly!?  Well, it did.  And though May is over, we’re going to keep on celebrating motherhood as I finish posting up a few blog entries from dear friends.  Let’s pray I get them all up before Father’s Day!

Today’s guest post comes from one of my favorite women–my first pastor’s wife.  Christina was a great friend, confidant, and mentor to me as not only a new Christian but as a new wife and mother.  She amazed me with her calm demeanor though she carried the weight of ministry alongside her husband and, wait for it, five children.  At the time, I didn’t know families that big existed anymore! I’m excited to share her encouraging words with you.  Thanks, Christina!

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Grace_wordleI purposely have not read the other blog entries because I didn’t want to put expectations on myself for what this needs to be. I also hoped that if I repeat what anyone else has said it will be from God, an exclamation point of sorts. I’m looking forward to catching up on the previous entries!

This kind of sums up “Motherhood” for me: expectations.

Expectations: what are mine of myself, my husband’s expectations of me, my children’s expectations, my church’s, and God’s expectations of me? That’s heavy.

I have 5 children. The oldest is 23 and the youngest just had her 11th birthday. My oldest, Jessica, and youngest, Julia, are girls. There are three boys in between – Jonathon, Joshua and Josiah. I love the newborn – 2 years stage. I had birth and breastfeeding down pat. There may be people who adopt 5 kids at once or in a short period of time or the few families on TV that have multiples. I can’t imagine going from no children to 5 or having one and then birthing 4 at once making an automatic family of 5. Phew! In my average case, it was one at a time. Managing those ages and stages have to be lived one day at a time but also lived with the future in mind.

My struggle with expectations has brought me to a place of casting aside all others and asking God, “What do YOU expect?” His reply is what we all long for: “Love me.” Encapsulated in that is also “Let me love you and love others through you.” Don’t you love HUGS? Maybe there are the few that have difficulties with touch and resist the intimacy of a hug, but overall I think we generally love HUGS. What I like most about it is that when you give one, you almost always get one back.  As I focus on being aware of His Presence throughout my day, loving God and receiving His love for me, then loving my family and “doing” all the mom-things for them become an expression of love and not just an expectation of duty to perform.

My expectations of myself, by the way, are usually an unrealistic conglomeration of all the ‘best mom’ attributes of all my friends, acquaintances and maybe even TV moms, Martha Stewart and Food Network stars, all wrapped up into what I think is who I should be. As I surrender that and focus on Jesus and pleasing Him, I find that I can navigate around all the other expectations.

“Focus” is the word for me this year. Haphazard living doesn’t yield a fruitful life. In the stages of nursing babies and toddlers, I had to have structure but bend with the unexpected. During the school years, structure is forced upon me and there is a rhythm to the weeks. With a large family, I have had years with kids in 3 different schools. “Life happens” and in the chaos, I have often lived by the urgent with my only focus on survival. However, I can look back and know that through it all, I have and continue to live with a focus – pleasing God. And He smiles on me and on you, too.

To wrap it up, in this newest stage of parenting (letting children grow up and go away), there is one HUGE thing I learned: “new level, new lie” or some say “new level, new devil”. What do I mean? Well when my oldest was graduating high school, I thought “I’ve finally learned how to do this thing called life.” I was confident in my relationship with God and aware of the destructiveness of the enemy of our souls. What took me by surprise was that the enemy came from a different angle, found a weak spot and took on a new lie. When my oldest got engaged, I began to think, “She doesn’t need me anymore. Her husband’s family is better for her than we are.” I started to agree with those and other negative thoughts and for 3 weeks or so I was being tormented.

Then it hit me, “THESE WERE LIES FROM THE PIT”.

It was like a veil was removed and I saw where these thoughts we coming from. I immediately repented and began to cut off the plans and schemes of the enemy in prayer.  God is faithful and my relationship with my daughter is close and strong.

I could have filled this blog with scriptures and believe me, I have many favorites. I love this definition of the GRACE of God – His ability to do in and through me what I could never do in my own strength. That’s Motherhood.

Christina Dzindzio (aka Mom, Chrissy, Sis, Mrs. D, pastor’s wife)
I’m married to a man of God – Timothy Dzindzio. We both graduated from Zion Bible Institute in 1987 and have been married 26 years.  Our journey: we have served as youth pastors for over a decade, Senior Pastors in Pelham Bay, Bronx, NY for 7 years, Master’s Commission director in NJ, lived in Louisiana for 3 years and currently pastoring in Rhode Island. 

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Celebrate Motherhood: A Guest Post from Aileen Torres

I apologize for the delay in getting posts out to you.  It’s been a hard month, and while I would love to catch you up on all that has been going on in my life I’m pushing forward with our scheduled posts for this month.  May’s not over, after all!

Today’s guest post comes from one of my best friends, Aileen Torres.  Aileen was the one mother I approached that I did not have “niche” for.  I just knew I wanted her to share, because whatever she wrote would be insightful.  I am humbled by her honestly and transparency in what she submitted. Motherhood is not always rainbows and butterflies (Thank you, Maroon 5 for that song lyric.) and it’s important that we share our truths with one another–even the hard and brutal ones.

Thank you for sharing, A.  You are a gem in my life.

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womanToday [the day this was written] happens to be my mother’s birthday. For some this will be a mad dash to the phone to be the first to wish mom an exceptional day, but not so for me. It’s not because my mom is deceased. It is because, in many ways, she never really lived. Let me explain.

My mother is a deeply broken woman and because of it my two sisters and I have struggled to connect with her. To clarify, my hesitance is not due to anger or bitterness. I honestly do not know her. I even question if she knows herself. This makes me deeply sad.

Without going into all the sordid details, my mother suffered horrific abuse. Yes, think of the worst case scenario and I promise you she fits it. She was damaged and in many ways still is. Don’t get me wrong, she kept house, we were clean and the lady can cook her tail off, but she was not emotionally available to us. Her trauma caused her to never let us in and we felt it. Boy did we feel it.

In fact it took a group confessional of sorts for us three sisters to realize that we struggle to not only connect with our mother but consequently to also connect with our daughters. Initially I felt relieved that I wasn’t alone but shortly thereafter I felt a crushing pain. My truth was validated and it hurt. Boy did it hurt.

I honestly love my daughters and I am better for having them in my life on so many levels. There is nothing I would not do for them. However, it would be a lot easier for me to shield them from a bullet than to sit down and have a face to face conversation with them. Like my mom, and many families of abuse, abuse is cyclical and I too was a victim. Something in me died as well. If there is anything my mother and I connect with it is this horrible and unspoken commonality.

There are so many areas of my life where God has acted supremely. I have been delivered and set free from so many strongholds many of which were shattered the day I called upon the name of the Lord. However, because of my mom’s brokenness coupled with my brokenness, what should be organic and natural is more of a daily intentional, cognitive, effort to go before the throne of grace and ask my Father to enable me to love my girls the way He wants me to love them and according to their individual needs and unique design. And to be honest, I’m OK with that. If going before God every day is what is required, then going before God every day is what it will be.

Two things I know. I love my mom and wish it could be so much more. I love my girls and trust God that it will be so much more.

I know I was asked to write an encouraging post to all the moms out there and although my words may seem a little heavy to some there may be a few out there who can identify with what I write and find great comfort in my journey.

One of the most liberating feelings is to be truthful and honest about what you feel. Truth is the basis of our faith and the beauty in all this is that my ugly truth combined with His truth makes for an exceptional and exhilarating journey with Him and with others.

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Celebrate Motherhood: A Guest Post from Christan Causey

supermomSo, here’s the deal. This motherhood thing is not for the weak. We know that, and we all agree. I regularly swing on a pendulum of feelings…one minute I feel as though I’m on top of the motherhood world, the next I am swimming in a sea of mistakes, failures, and weariness.

Supermom…is there such a thing?

I wrote a blog months ago before my third little one was born (entitled, “When I Leave the Room”). I felt compelled to share parts of that blog, along with some additional recently developed thoughts.

Our days are riddled with statuses, articles, blogs, and more that try to tell us who to be as mothers. What is best for our children? What will make them the most healthy and successful as they grow? If you are anything like me , you regularly become overwhelmed with the need to be supermom.

And, what really does supermom look like? I don’t know that I have figured it out. But, through social media and the internet, the information with which we are inundated tries to convince us of their perception and understanding of supermom. We are desperately grasping at every trend – seeking to know how to be “the best mom we can be.”

Stay at home? Work from home? Eat healthy! Be green! Crafts, crafts and more crafts! 10 perfect discipline tools! Follow these 5 steps to make your kids genius’ before they enter kindergarten! Extracurricular activities are a must for the successful child. How to raise a happy child. 7 Signs your child loves you. And so much more!

I mean, really, these are just a few headlines. Slap “failure” on my forehead and take my children away. How can I be a supermom when there are some days that the last thing I am worried about is if my child is happy? Rather, it’s trying to keep myself from either locking them or myself in the closet. (Of course, I would never do either.) And let’s forget the eating healthy and going green, I hate to cook and love to take full advantage of my child’s love for Sonic.

Did you know that you can search “mother’s guilt” online, and come up with millions of results? Why? Because it is actually a common condition. We mothers are so hard on ourselves.

Imperfection and failure have often been my friends as I raise my three sweet children under 5yrs old. I nodded vigorously, I am sure along with thousands of other moms, when I saw the movie, “Mom’s Night out”. The main character battles these feelings of “not enough”. Yep, understand that.

I’m sorry if I got your hopes up, but despite my blog title, I do not know the perfect path to becoming a supermom. BUT, I am learning a few things. God has and continues to reveal truth to me in regards to this idea of supermom. These truths continue to bring peace, joy, and a much needed confidence to my journey of motherhood. Most of all, He is pulling me away from our society’s worldview of supermom. I have become very choosy about the magazines, articles, posts and more that I read or allow to penetrate my heart.

Here are the things I have learned, and am still learning…

Measure Yourself Against God’s Word

Proverbs 31 is a familiar passage of scripture that we use in reference to motherhood. But let’s read it closely; this Godly woman had many qualities. She worked outside of the home (GASP), she also worked inside of the home (GASP, really you can do both and still be a good mom?), she was filled with joy, strength, confidence, wisdom, intelligence and more. She was responsible and dependable. She was a woman chasing after God. She not only provided for her household, but she watched over the household.

Let me point out it says nothing about specifics…what she did to arrive at those results. Just simply that how she lived her life resulted in these qualities. I believe that God shows each of us individually what our “specifics” are and how we AS AN INDIVIDUAL can reach the result of the above qualities. And I also believe that it will come through God’s guidance, wisdom and His Word. NOT societies opinions…including those of your family and friends.

Love God, Be Healthy, and Take Care of Yourself

As a person of faith, I am confident about at least one thing that causes us to be supermom in our children’s eyes. That we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. And that we do whatever is necessary to be healthy and balanced in our soul, mind, spirit and body (1 Thess 5:23). If we do these two things, I believe God will give us wisdom and strength to be the supermom HE has called us to be.

I recently ended a year long journey in counseling. And what began as a journey for grief recovery (for the loss of my mom and dad) has now turned into a healing of the depths of my soul. A need of healing that I could never have understood or known if God had not used his Holy Spirit to pair me with someone that professionally knew how to weave through the cobwebs of my soul. I asked God at the beginning to search my heart and show me what needed to be “made new”. Boy, did he.

There were many discoveries made. Amongst them was my need for perfection, my battle with mother’s guilt, and my major unrealistic self-imposed expectations. I also learned and accepted that my mom failed me in many ways, just the same as I have already failed, and will continue to fail my children. However, because of God’s grace these discoveries were game changers for me. I received the tools I needed to apply truth and operate in that truth, rather than operating in lies and unrealistic expectations. And hopefully, I will do my part to be balanced and healthy – so my children receive what I believe is the best mom. Only you and God know what you need to do to be healthy, but whatever it is, I encourage you to fight for health in all areas of your life.

Finally, take time to give yourself what you need to be rejuvenated and refreshed. Pamper yourself, celebrate the victories, and do things regularly just for you. Things that will bring you energy and life. For me, it is time alone, time for creativity, and time for working in ministry. Again, everyone is different, but discover what it is for you and fight for it.

Live in Grace

Give yourself grace. Receive God’s sweet grace. Move in and through it. In grace, you will find strength and joy to rise above failures, weariness, and uncertainty. Abandon self-imposed expectations, and clothe yourself in His grace. Know that you are “His beautiful work, created to do good things” (paraphrased from Ephes. 2:10). And each day as you simply love your children, you are doing great and beautiful work. Remember that “His grace is all you need, for His power works best in our weakness”. (2 Cor. 12:9)

I have included a video to the song, “When I Leave the Room” by Natalie Grant. I love it. It’s my heart. I have made already thousands of mistakes, but “when I leave the room” I leave my babies with Jesus and I do my best.

My mom made a million mistakes with me (I am sure yours did too), some small and some big. But one thing I can say about her is that “when she left that bedroom and entered eternity” she left me with a love and knowledge of a Heavenly Father that would carry me through. I remember sitting there with her the day she passed “fingers intertwined” – my heart crying out in pain. Yet, knowing she was leaving me with the faith I would need to continue on. She did the main things right, and I hope my children can say the same thing about me.

You can read more about Christan’s story and who she is by clicking here. She would love to hear about your ups and downs as a mom, and how God is giving you grace to not just survive – but THRIVE! Visit her blog at www.gracefindsme.com.

Email subscribers, click here: “When I Leave the Room” by Natalie Grant

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Christan is my best friend’s sister, but to me I consider her a friend as well!  I approached Christan because she is the mom to three very young children and I wanted to know what that was like.  (Hint, not easy!)  Her faith encourages me and I pray her words and blog will encourage you too.  Thanks for sharing, Christan!