Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Half-Birthday Baby James!

Dear James,

Wow! I can't believe six months have passed since you made your wonderful debut into our family! These last six months have been the most incredible months of our lives. We are so blessed to have you in our family. You make us smile and laugh, cry and pray. Because of you, we work harder, think more, and are happier than ever.

In the last months, you have grown so much, and learned more than we could ever imagine.

When you were born, we knew right away that you looked just like Daddy. You were 9 lbs, 7 oz, and 20 inches long.

At one month old, you were as cute as can be. Everyone loved you, and wanted to hold you all the time. We discovered that you didn't really like sleeping, and you were very unhappy until we switched you to formula. After the switch, you were so much happier! We were glad to finally have found something that would work for your little tummy. You didn't like sleeping by yourself, so you spent every night in Mom's arms. We all started getting a lot more sleep!
We decided it was time for you to learn how to play the trumpet. Aunt Lydia didn't mind letting you borrow her very cool compact one.
At 2 months, your family was very very busy. We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with family. It was really a lot of fun! You got to see snow for the first time; your mom really loves snow. Also just before your 2 month birthday, you showed your very first great big smile! Luckily Mom had the camera close by!
At 3 months old, you started showing us your very very adorable personality and discovered your feet. Very close to your 3 month birthday, you learned to roll over from your belly to your back, and also how to grab and play with a rattle. The elephant rattle in this picture is still one of your favorite toys.
On the day you turned 4 months old, we moved from our home in Fairfield to Louisville because Daddy got a new job. You sure love your dad a lot, and your favorite thing in the whole wide world is to play with him. He always makes you laugh! You also learned how to roll over from your back to your belly, and mom was so excited!

When you turned 5 months old, you started talking a little more. On your 5 month birthday, you started saying "Da! Da!" I don't think you know it means Daddy yet, but it still makes us really happy!
Last night, the night before your 6 month birthday, we gave you your very first vegetables. At first you were happy, but you didn't really like the taste of the peas. You love to sit in your high chair, you LOVE to eat your cereal, (rice and oatmeal) and you're trying very hard to learn how to crawl. Sometimes you pull your knees up underneath yourself, and you even got up on your hands and knees once yesterday. You're teething, and we're pretty sure we're going to see some adorable little teeth in your mouth very soon! You started saying other fun words, like "Na" and "Ma," but you still say "Dada" when you're the happiest. Mom thinks it's because you love your dad so much!

We're so proud of you, little James! It's so much fun watching you learn and grow, and even better knowing that we get to keep you forever. We love you more and more every day, and are having so much fun watching you grow. Thank you for making us the happiest parents in the world. We're so thankful that Heavenly Father let you come be a part of our family, and can't imagine our lives without you in it.

We love you!
Mom and Dad

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where Can I Turn For Peace?

During pregnancy and after the birth of a child, a woman's body goes through lots of changes. We all know that, yet somehow, we find a way to work through the challenges. Mentally, we prepare ourselves for those physical challenges, but what I never realized was that the toll on my mind could (and likely would) be much more devastating than the toll on my body.

After James was born, I had a pretty tough time. Emotionally, I fell apart. The combination of adjusting hormone levels, lack of sleep, and some of what I felt were my own personal failures left me feeling oftentimes empty and alone. As things in our lives began to improve, I started to feel better. James started sleeping more, I started getting more and more productive, Chris got a job, we moved to Louisville, things were really looking up. Then I got pregnant again.

The first time I was pregnant, my mood was great most of the time, especially at the beginning. It was hard on me physically, but I was so thrilled to be pregnant after being told that it would be hard to do that the sickness was just a part of the blessing and nothing more. This time, things haven't been so simple. I can't sleep through the sickness. My hormones hadn't finished adjusting before they took off again. In short, I have been a wreck.

A couple of nights ago, I was feeding James in his darkened bedroom and thinking about my emotional state. No matter how I wracked my brain, I couldn't figure out why nothing was working. No sleep recharged me. No time watching TV or reading a book let me disconnect. Nothing was helping. Why wasn't anything working? Why was I falling apart? Why couldn't I find any answers? Then, without any prompting or warning, a song came to my mind:

1. Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

2. Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

3. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

I mulled over these lyrics for a day or so, and realized that I hadn't given any thought to my spiritual well-being in quite some time. I made a decision that I was going to make an effort to take the Savior up on His promise, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I mean honestly, who needs rest more than I do? (Probably most of you, actually.) From this point, I was unsure where I was going to go, so I made the decision to spend at least 10 quiet (alone) minutes reading or listening to scripture or the words of the apostles and prophets each day. Last night, I watched a video of Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from April 2009 called "None Were With Him."

The whole talk is really too incredible to pick and choose which parts to share, but here's one of (many of) my favorite parts.

(The whole talk can be found here.)

"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: 'I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].'"

Through all of my reading and prayer in the last few days, I've come to the conclusion (clearly with a great deal of help from Heaven) that the answer to my woes is to come unto Christ, and the way to do so is by learning of Him. By recognizing the remarkable power of His Atonement, by reading about who He is and the life He lived. By trying each day to be just a little bit more like Him.

If you've made it this far and haven't already read the talk, (and maybe even if you have) take a few moments to watch this video. It shares excerpts from what Elder Holland said interwoven with depictions of Christ's atonement and crucifixion. I promise it's worth it.