I Didn’t Want to Be Brave.

Last year at MOPS, I was A Beautiful Mess – and it was perfect. Feeling that it was okay to be a messy new mom, and still be beautiful – if maybe only in God’s eyes most days – was terrific.  We had lots of fun, untidy activities where we were free to be raw and real and sloppy.  It was probably the best introduction to MOPS a new mom could ask for.

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Then, at the end of last year’s session, they announced this year’s theme: Be You, Bravely.

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Oh boy.

I didn’t like the idea of being brave. On purpose, that is. I had already gotten pretty real with the ladies at my MOPS table – we’d had a few good ugly cries together and I thought it was brave of me to show that side of myself.  I don’t usually cry in front of others.  Plus, I was brand-shiny-new to this whole motherhood thing – which is brave, in and of itself, too.

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But now I’d have to be brave – on purpose? As a theme?  In my life?

I decided that I had all summer to stew over it and so I let it go.

Until the end of the summer came and it was time to register for MOPS again.

And there it was: Be You, Bravely.

I did not want to be brave. I knew that I would be asked to try new things, dig deep into myself, take a good look at my life, analyze.  Can’t I just have the safety of my sofa and yoga pants?

Bravery, to me, is bold. It is taking a stand, speaking up, and not being concerned about what others think.  In my mind, bravery looks big, strong, and risky.  It’s not always safe, and sometimes, it might be life threatening.  And I felt like some of the decisions I’d been making all along were “brave” already.

Then I thought, “Well, I could just not participate in the activities.” And then quickly recognized how ridiculous that was.  How would I realize the fullness of the fellowship I could have with my MOPS moms if I was holding back?  I would be cheating myself, and them.  And besides, maybe a new adventure or two would be good for me…

So, instead of backing down, I’m meeting bravery head on.  And it has occurred to me that bravery wears many different hats:

What if bravery isn’t about being bold, but being humble? What if bravery isn’t always taking a stand, but stepping back?  How would it feel if bravery was more about listening than speaking my mind, and being concerned about what God thought of me, instead of everyone else?  And maybe bravery is big, and strong, and risky because God created it that way – and what He creates is ultimately good.  And maybe being brave isn’t safe (socially or emotionally), but I’m always safe with the Lord.  And as far as “life threatening” goes… well, I need to lose this life to gain my new life in Christ, right?

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Right.

And the truth is, I can’t wait to see what happens when I partner with God to be me, bravely.

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A Year of Wonder.

A year ago on this day, I gave birth to my daughter.  I’m usually pretty good at expressing myself, but today things are different.

I cannot put into words the amazing year we’ve had.  My daughter has truly transformed my life – she has opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed.  She has changed the way I view every aspect of life:  love, dedication, relationships, values.  She’s even changed the way I view my job, my friendships, and even how I keep my house!

This year has been full of everything new.  New experiences, new joys, new friends, new everything!  And at the same time, this year has given me the opportunity to reflect on the things I’ve always had with a new appreciation.

In her first year of life, my daughter has been my teacher.  She has taught me more about the meaning of life in these past 12 months than any other time in my life.  She has taught me about patience, commitment, what real love is, what true exhaustion is, and what really matters – and what doesn’t.

She has taught me about God.

In addition, having my daughter has connected me to some truly wonderful moms who are sharing the parenthood journey at the same time as me – the La Leche League, my MOPS group, my Bradley group, the Birthing Breastfeeding and Babies group – I would not have met these lovely women without my daughter.

It’s amazing how one small person can make such a big difference.

Life this past year hasn’t always been easy, but it has been good.  And I’m so excited to see what this next year brings!

Happy birthday, my sweet daughter.  I love you more than I ever dreamed possible, and I wish you a long, beautiful life full of blessing.

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A happy birthday at the aquarium.

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Looks like we’ll be getting an aquarium for our new house.

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Likes hippos, just the way mommy does.

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Real big fishies.

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It was a long day.

If you’re interested in reading my daughter’s homebirth story, click here.