Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beware of Commentators

Each month a pregnant woman's appearance changes as her belly grows little by little. Naturally, those around you will notice your body changing, and naturally people will make comments. This has been one of the most entertaining and sometimes frustrating parts of pregnancy.

Before Chance and I found out that we were having a boy, both of us were convinced that we were having a girl. This was due, in no small part, to the fact that almost everyone around us was convinced it was a girl, too! The first comment I remember someone making around week 19 had to do with the "way" I was carrying. Now keep in mind that I hardly showing at this point, but alas, the comment went something like this: "You have only gained weight in your tummy. It's definitely a girl! With my two boys I gained weight all over, but with my girl I only gained weight in my stomach." After hearing that, I was confident that this person was right. However, since week 19, I have heard this exact comment--only OPPOSITE! Multiple people have told me that because I have only gained weight in my tummy that it MUST be a boy. Wow, talk about contradicting opinions! 

About two months after we found out that I was carrying a boy, a woman Chance and I were talking with told us adamantly that we would be having a girl. I corrected her by telling her that we had been to the doctor and had seen the sonogram of our baby boy. "We are having a boy," I repeated to her, but it was to no avail. She was convinced that regardless of what the sonogram said that we were having a girl; in other words, the doctors were wrong. Oh fooey.

Just this past weekend, a woman told me that I was carrying very low, which is (apparently) an indication that it is a boy, and that he will arrive early. Really? Most people who I've talked to have said that I am carrying HIGH and that your first is typically on time or even late. I've been told that Hudson will definitely come before the new year, that he'll be here before his due date, that he'll arrive on his due date, and that he'll probably be late so don't expect him early--all from different sources! Everyone has their opinion, and everyone is indeed entitled to their opinions. But are they helpful to the pregnant woman who is already anxious about the way she looks and about when her baby will arrive? I would answer a definitive no. 

I say all of this to simply conclude that it is not always wise to listen to the "advice" of others. More often that not, that advice is not correct, and will just lead you to think something that is probably not true. Thankfully, there haven't been any comments that have caused me to break down into tears (at least not yet!). Therefore, I would advise you to take everything with a grain of salt, and be thankful for knowledgeable healthcare professionals who give their honest, expert opinions. And just remember that doctors make mistakes too. 

And the next time you think about sharing your two cents with the expectant mother at the grocery store, you might be wise to keep those lips sealed.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for ... WORK

As we roll into the holiday season, many of us begin to contemplate what we are thankful for. After all, the celebration that happens first in this season is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, families and friends will gather to enjoy one another's company, share food, and be reminded of all the reasons they are thankful. I have often thought about the idea of giving thanks or being thankful, and would like to offer my two cents on the topic and then explain what I am thankful for.

Whenever you contemplate giving thanks, have you wondered, "Who am I giving thanks to?" Or do you know for sure who the One is that you are thankful to? It's quite a profound question when you think about it. I would guess that most people say that they are thankful for this and that, without giving much thought at all to the Source of their thanksgiving. Is it possible to be thankful without rendering your thanks to God? I would conclude that this is not possible. Scripture says, that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17) If we begin with the presupposition that all good things come from God, then wouldn't we have to conclude that anything good in which we are thankful for has come from God? And do we not, therefore, have to give thanks to Him for that good thing? God is the Giver of all good things and so as long as we are thankful for good things in our lives, we must offer our thanks to the Good God who has made us and blessed us far more abundantly than we could ever think or imagine. 

 This brings me my reason for being thankful, not only this week or this holiday season, but in the past year and a half. I am thankful... for my job. Yes, you read correctly. I am thankful for my job, I am thankful for work. When Chance and I arrived in Dallas, I immediately interviewed for a job that was very close to where we were living. The position was that of an executive assistant/office manager in a financial management firm in Dallas. The building where this company is located is one of the most beautiful in Dallas. When I arrived for my first interview, I was stunned by the beauty of the building, the office space, and the view from the conference room where I was escorted upon my arrival. Well, to make a long story short, I was hired about two weeks later. Praise the Lord! It took me quite a few months to get used to the working environment and simply working full-time, but I have come to appreciate a whole host of things about this job. I have learned a great deal about myself while working here. I have been challenged to be more bold, to be assertive, to think critically, to mulitask, and to be responsible for many facets of a business. It has been a joy to work with my co-workers and to work under a boss who genuinely cares about his employees. I admit that working has not come without its challenges, but I am grateful for all (okay most of them) and wouldn't change my circumstances for the world. Admittedly, I have been discontent and complained along the way. However, God has taught me that He is a Great Provider and the One who orchestrates circumstances for my good and His glory.

As I close out this chapter of working in the corporate world full-time it is with reluctance and excitement. I will have the privilege of staying home to look after and care our new baby, Hudson, who Chance and I will be welcoming into the world in less than two months! We could not be more excited to see what the Lord has in store for our family. I am thankful for my job, for my co-workers, my boss. I am thankful to God for all these things and more and give Him the glory for all He has done and continues to do in my life. 

May we all seek to praise the Giver and Provider this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. As Paul said it so well in referring to the Lord Jesus, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Me-Less Theology

Have you ever heard the phrase "Don't thank me, thank God"? What does that phrase imply? Should we never accept thanks from others? How should we thank people in conjunction with directing our thanks to God? My husband told me a story of a fellow classmate whose mother made incredible spaghetti. This student would thank his mother for this delicious meal whenever she cooked it, and in response to her son's kind gesture she would retort, "Don't thank me, thank God!" How do you think this guy responded? Should his mother have accepted the thanks offered to her, or was she right in directing attention away from herself? If we pose this question another way, we might as well ask: Did God cook the spaghetti dinner? By now you probably get the point. No, God did not, obviously, cook this young man's spaghetti dinner. So what is the problem here?
I have been guilty of responding in the same way that the aforementioned spaghetti-cooking mother did. I think that oftentimes our desire to be humble and not draw attention to ourselves, is misguided when we do not take rightful credit for our human acts. If we cook a great meal, or do well on an exam, or perform outstandingly in a race or sports event, as Christians, should we take the credit? I think that this is a question of balance. It is obvious in the example above that the architect behind the meal was not, most basically, God. He did not boil the noodles, nor chop the tomatoes, nor brown the meat for sauce. The mother did. So whenever the son thanks his mother and she deflects his thanksgiving, is she really acting in accordance with reality? I think not. As Christians, we may have a hard time accepting praise or thanks for fear of being prideful or become too conceited. But we must remember that the Bible speaks very clearly of both the human and spiritual aspects of life. In theological terminology this is called compatabilism. For instance, when we pray we are beseeching God, the Creator of the universe, for our requests. God is not the one praying, we, humans, are. But God is ultimately the Sovereign King of the universe and has the right to decide whether or not he will grant our requests. So it is with our performance in the kitchen, in the classroom, and on the field. Humans cook meals. Humans take exams. Humans play sports. Yes, God enables us to do these things. God gifts us in specific ways so that we are able to perform. He strengthens our resolve to study for long hours, and ultimately to perform on tests. But when it comes down to it, it would be foolish to say, "God got that A+ for me." Right?
  • "Give thanks in all circumstances.." -1 Thes. 5:18
  • "Pray without ceasing." -1 Thes. 5:17
  • "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." -1 Cor. 10:31 
Scripture commands us to give thanks to God, and to do all things for his glory. But we must remember that we are not robots. We are human beings, created in the image of God, uniquely designed for the purpose of acting and living in this world in such a way that our lives praise him. This includes accepting praise, thanks, and honor when it is due. Of course we direct that praise back to God, whether verbally or in our hearts, but as Christians we would be mistaken to think that it is God who cooks our spaghetti. So the next time someone congratulates you or thanks you, do your humanly duty and respond appropriately. A simple, "You're welcome!" will do the trick.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Race Recap - Running for Two

After a long time of anticipation, I finally accomplished my goal: running a half marathon while being with child. Back in April, of this year, I signed up to run the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Dallas Half Marathon (a mouthful huh?) for the second time. Not two weeks after I signed up and paid my fee, did I find out what I was pregnant! Since the race was at least 6 months down the road I didn't worry too much about it but kept it in the back of my mind. I thought that if I felt okay to run at that point and my doctor gave me the go ahead then (and only then) would I run the race. Well, August rolled around and I was running again fairly consistently as the weather began to cool off. I told my doctor about the upcoming race and she encouraged me in my training. Early in September, as my tummy grew significantly bigger, I began to experience some pretty intense round ligament pain in my pelvic area. The nurse at the doctor's office encouraged me to purchase a maternity support belt to help ease the pain when I ran. It helped tremendously. Right after that I began to follow an 8-week training plan to get ready for the half marathon that had at one time seemed so far off! It was now right around the corner. The goal was to run 3 times a week and cross train when possible. I had already been running between 10-15 miles per week, and transitioning to the training plan was not that difficult. 

Each week I increased my mileage by about 2 miles, my longest "short" run was 5 miles at about 9:30min/mi pace. My longest "long" run was 10 miles at 10:00-12:00min/mi pace. Two weeks before the race I had an ultrasound where the sonographer measured the size of the baby to determine if he was growing at a normal rate. My doctor had said that if he was measuring small that I needed to ease up on running and possibly not run the race at all.  I was okay with that, I just wanted to do what was healthy and safest for Hudson! The ultrasound showed that he was growing right on par and my doctor said that I could keep on training. I completed that 10-miler on a warm Saturday afternoon only a week before the half marathon. I was starting to feel nervous about the reality of running this race. Was I crazy?! On Tuesday before the race, Chance mentioned that he wanted to run with me when we got home, and so we went for an easy 2.5 mile run on a beautiful evening. I began to feel run down on Thursday and so I took the day off to rest. As Saturday approached I was more and more nervous, but also excited. I couldn't believe it was finally here! On Friday night, I could not sleep and must have only gotten 3-4 hours of sleep. And then it was race morning. I got up around 5:30am, ate some breakfast and drank some coffee. The weather had changed and the temperature was a lovely 38 degrees at the start of the race! 

Chance and I drove downtown, parked, and jogged over to the starting line. It was a blistery morning but not a cloud in the sky and the buildings downtown twinkled as the sun rose. I warmed up and Chance practiced his photography skills. I hopped over to the starting line and chatted with a few ladies who asked, "Are you pregnant?!" It was funny to hear other people's responses to seeing me running alongside of them. At one point during the race a woman said, "I am just admiring you right now.. you must do this often!" I told her that it was not my first half marathon and that all I wanted to do was finish. I continued to run all the way until past mile 6 (after taking a short stretch break around mile 2) at which point I walked for about 2 minutes, through a water station. I was beginning to ache at this point, but did not feel at all fatigued. I kept running until mile 8 where I walked for a few minutes again and then kept running at a steady pace. After the 11 mile mark, at the American Airlines Center, I texted my friend Mallory and called Chance to tell them I was almost done! I'd be at the finish in about 20 minutes. I walked the next 1/2 mile and then ran the rest of the race, spotting Chance just before the finish line in the bright sunshine. My mood was light, I was thrilled to be finishing, and was just plain happy that I was able to run with my little buddy, Hudson, snoozing away inside of me. It was a great day and I am so glad that God allowed me to run. I will forever have the memories of running 13.1 miles while 29 weeks pregnant with our first child. 

To all those other pregnant (or future pregnant) ladies out there, I would encourage you to run through your pregnancy if you have a consistent running regime now. I would have been unwise had I not been a runner previous to becoming pregnant. If you are unsure about whether or not it is safe or healthy for you or your baby, let me give you some advice based on my own experience: 

  1. Running has helped me to stay energized. I have not been very tired throughout this pregnancy (only in the first trimester), and I attribute it to consistently running.
  2. Running has allowed me to gain very minimal pregnancy weight. I have gained the recommended amount of weight for my body size/type and basically all of the weight has been in my belly and upper body.
  3. Running has been a great motivator for labor! I am confident that if all goes according to plan, I will be able to have a natural birth no problem. I am hoping that training through my round ligament/pelvic pain has been a good setup for natural childbirth.
  4. Running has been a way that I have been reminded of the blessing, joy, and honor of carrying a child in my tummy for 9 months. I am continually amazed that there is a little person inside of me, living and growing. Every time I run I get to feel the changes that my body has experienced because of him! 
So after 30 weeks (today!) I can say that with all the excitement that I experienced in running this half marathon, I am even more excited to meet Hudson in just 10 more weeks! Please keep praying for me and Hudson, as Chance and I await his arrival!