Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Story: Having a Baby at 23

July 4, 1999

Today is my baptism birthday. 

I was twenty-one when I was baptized in a Presbyterian church, which may seem really odd because I was raised Assembly of God and am now Lutheran. Oh how I wish I had better feelings about the day I was baptized. It was a requirement for marriage in the church, so I thought “why not?”. My Meme cried, so I knew I was doing something right. I do long for a great story around my baptism, some big redemption that led to my baptism. 

The true meaning of my baptism would not be clear to me for two more years. The feeling of forgiveness would come over me as I walked into a church of people I didn’t know, very pregnant and they would great me with a “we know you are unmarried and pregnant, but we love you (maybe even more)” 

So, I probably could have named this blog “Conversations During Road Trips”. I kind of knew that this was coming, but love see how God works. He has been preparing me for this because I’ve been trying to write the story of Shelby’s conception and Shelby’s biological father and really not sugar coat it, but open my self up to people and let them understand that I did not do things correctly. 

When I told Shelby, last week, that it would just be her and I driving half way to North Texas, she was very happy. She said she had some questions she needed to ask me. It took awhile her to her get them out since she was very hesitant about what I would answer and what I wouldn’t answer in regards to her biological father. She hadn’t been ready before, but that Sunday afternoon she felt ready to hear the story. 

Then she final got up the nerves to ask, “was I a mistake?” 

I did not plan to get pregnant, but at the same time I knew what I was doing would possibly cause a pregnancy (I didn’t sleep through all of my freshman health class). She was far from a mistake. She was wanted and cherished as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test. I still remember that day mainly because I accidentally bumped into my aunt at Target while trying to buy a test, I played it cool, but quickly left the store with no test in hand. I was not ready to explain that to my mom’s older sister.  I did wind up purchasing a test and taking it in the bathroom at work. 

It’s funny how most of my memories about those first few days happened at work. I traveled between locations at that time. I remember what location I was in when I told my parents, which probably was the most professional things to do at all since I cried through most of it. I knew what there response would be, but I was not prepared for my then best friend would do. 

When I called and told her, she acted as though she understood and supported my decision, but later her phone accidentally called mine back leave a voicemail that would forever damaged our 15 year relationship. I heard her telling someone else terrible things about me and the fact that I was pregnant and unmarried. It was one of the most hurtful things and I unfortunately had it recorded on my voicemail to listen to again and again. That’s when it hit me - this wasn’t good and people though terrible things of me. At that age I believed everything people said about me (extreme people pleaser). 

It wasn’t until I was maybe seven months pregnant that the Lord sent someone into my life to show my grace and help me understand forgiveness. I had a client (who I was supposed to be counseling) that dug a little deeper into my story each week. Then, she brought me a bible (that I still use today). As she handed it to me she explained that Jesus’ death of the cross wiped clean all of my sins. Jesus still loved me. 

Jesus still loved me. 

It wasn’t the easiest gift to accept - the belief that in all my shame Jesus still loved me. I had battled for months to be love. I did receive love from my parents, but felt shamed by so many people including the family of Shelby’s biological father. Look back I don’t think I realized at the time how damaging all of the words of other people were on me. 

For some reason at this point I can’t bring myself to share the details surrounding Shelby’s biological father - the things I had to deal with. I hope you understand that I can’t bring my self to spill out all the details like Lifetime Movie. I am not sure if I am protecting him, Shelby or myself. I want to say that when I became pregnant I had not daydreams of us getting married and having a family - I knew that would not happened, but I did think at first that he would be a part of her life. As the events played out, I knew that she was mine and I would raise her alone and you know, I was fine with that path. I embraced raising that sweet girl on my own - I owned it - she was all mine (which is probably why I am so over protective of her - she’s mine). 

I think I am through all the yuck of the situation and I live in the forgiveness which is right where I was on September 13, 2001 - just two days after our Nation suffered such a huge loss. Looking back at my time in the hospital I was realize that I was still so young and now realize why the staff treated me that way. I was young, but so filled with God’s glory - I was the most committed to my faith during that last few month’s of my pregnancy. I couldn’t get enough of learning and prayed continuously. I felt like I had received a huge blessing - I did, all 8 pounds of her. I was in love the moment I saw her - she was absolutely perfect. 

I wish I could say that single parenthood got easier once Shelby was in this world, but it didn’t. I was the first (for a long time) of my friend to have a child which left me out of so many things. My friends were finishing college, going on trips, having brunch and coffee while I was making bottles. I did miss some life experiences, but I don’t think I felt the longing for those things then. As I look back today, I wish I finished college (I still can), but in reality I received something so much bigger than a college degree - I found the true meaning of grace. I found Jesus, I understood the words I said when I was baptized two years before. And that I would not change for anything. 

And I love my girl. She’s absolutely amazing. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Pep-Talk

Right now I just need to write. As I start this I have no clue what then end will look like, at all. I woke up this morning in tears with an overwhelming feeling of depression. I wondered if this is what my Meme felt like when she struggled with depression. Just a blank sense of where it is coming from, just sad, just overwhelmed with life and the thoughts that go through your head. Not suicidal thoughts, just the devil’s foothold on my mind due most likely to hormones and a very long week. 

For some reason I’ve become a closet over achiever. I say “closet” because from the outside you’d have no clue, but on the inside I WANT SUCCESS! I am not really sure what “success” is though. I just want to do “my best” on everything from writing and videos to a clean house and meal planning. I want to be a good friend, a good wife, a good mom, a good daughter all the while I think “what is a good me?” I am probably not making sense what so ever, but I will continue because when I write it releases the devil’s power (or his sense of power or my sense that he has power). 

I suffer from comparison and have a Facebook/Instagram/YouTube addiction where you see the rosiest parts of everyone’s lives. I’m comparing my un-filtered cluttered bedroom to their perfect living areas. My clogged pores to their “flawless” skin. You name it, most days I’ll compare myself to it. 

Then I stop. I have to say “stop, you’re being so stupid! Look around you.” A post comes across my TimeHop app reminding me of life 7 years to 8 years ago and I remember how far I’ve come. And man, my blessings. I have three amazing daughters who each day bring me such joy, but make me frantically search for the pause button because with all my business life is passing too fast. I am blessed to have a husband who even though running late for work will sit and hug me while I say, “I just don’t know why I am crying.” I have amazing friends who love me even when I have not seen them for a year and really it feels like I hadn’t missed a thing. And I’ve been blessed with new friends who will come to my aid even when I asked them to paint and cut foam till they are as exhausted as I am. 

I am blessed! Do you hear that devil? I’ve GOT THIS! I KNOW that I AM LOVED! I am loved not only by the people I’ve just list, but by an amazing God who has redeemed me from the crap you are trying to pull me back into! I take back “I’ve got this” and lay down “He’s got this!” Because no matter how big the mountains may feel in my life HE HAS GOT THIS!!! And that is an amazing feeling! 

Wow, that’s an amazing feeling. Breathe…I need that little pep-talk. Now off to make breakfast, put on a some make-up and kick today’s butt!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Favorites: Podcasts and The Roosevelts

Happy Friday Y'all. I swear since I started getting into YouTube I've been out of Blogging. I apologize. I know I need to prioritize and get my life together.

So, I really really wanted to share two things that have become my BIG favorites this week.

1. Podcasts! I have been living under a rock or something because I've totally missed podcasts. Now, Matt has listened to podcasts for a long time and he has told me (yes, I am putting it in writing) that I would love podcasts, but I did not listen. Earlier this week I was watching a YouTube Video (I'll link it below) and they were discussing podcasts. Well, they hooked me with The Gilmore Guys!

Two guys talking about everything Gilmore Girls! I listened to the most recent podcast with Scott Patterson and I was HOOKED!!! I love it! 

They also recommended Totally Married. 

Now, I listened to one episode, but my prude self could not handle to the topic of discussion at all (I'll spare y'all the details). I still have it on my playlist because I am thinking maybe I will give them another shot. They have some great chemistry, but I can't listen if I am covering my ears the entire time scream Lalalalalalala.

So, I did a little searching and happily came upon The Lively Show. I absolutely love this podcast! 

I know that I know Jess Lively from somewhere, but where? Blogging? Real Life? I don't know!  You have to listen to her, it's great! 

And did you know that Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson have a podcast? Where have I been?  The Big Boo Cast. 

 I seriously just found this five minutes before I wrote this and am listening to it as I type. It's is these two amazing women just talking like the amazing friends they are! Love it! It's funny because as I listen they talk about Kelly and Eddie and I am like "I know them!" 

Matt just said, "At some point in our relationship I will say 'you will like this' and you will actually say, 'ok, I will give it a try'". We will see...I will do better - that's all I can say. 

Now, I did listen to him when he said you should really watch this documentary that PBS did. 

2. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.  I am a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt. Is "fan" a correct word? I  love everything that she has written, she was a seriously wise woman. I also love historical documentaries especially about presidents, so I knew that I would probably really enjoy The Roosevelts. Oh man, I am hooked. I watch at least an hour a night. 

There is so much that I did not know especially about Theodore. Again, you should watch this. I've only found it on Amazon Prime, so go get yourself a 30-day free trial.  

Before I forget, here is the video that started all of my podcast madness. I have also fallen in love with Long Short Story with Megan and Wendy - you should subscribe to their channel! 

I am linking up today with Momfessionals for her Friday Favorites

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend Haircuts & YouTube

So we decided this weekend that the little needed a trim and since this was Morgan's first "real" haircut I thought it was blog worthy.

Bekah got a braid after her trim.

Then, it was Morgan's turn. I don't think she was feeling too "Sassy Diva", but she did love watching a movie while she had her haircut. She was very serious through this process.

Her hair is now all even and cute.

Shelby and I have kind of been Youtubing - is that a word?

We captured this on our way back from North Texas on Sunday:

Can you can see more of our videos here:

Also, DanaRae is on Facebook and you can like the page for this blog here:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites: So Proud of My Girl

So my most favorite thing this week was Shelby's award ceremony last night. She originally wanted to blow it off, so I am so glad that she went because it was kind of a big deal.

I was a little taken back when I received the post card from school because it only said that she was being awarded for an accomplishment, but did not give us any indication of what that accomplishment was or how big this event was going to be.

Hey, did that woman photobom my picture?

Matt had to work, so I took the girls alone. When we saw parents with flowers and signs we knew this was a much bigger deal then we had originally thought. I quickly sent JagDad and MommaB a text letting them know this was a big deal and ask if they were available to rush up to the awards locations. They were able to make it long before Shelby walked the stage (she had about 200 kids in front of her.

last row two in black chevron.

Can I just say (without sounding like a bad mother) that this was a beating? 400+ plus children to get through and thank goodness I had some help with the littles because they were done before the ceremony even started. And the place echoed. And Morgan is not into being quiet - neither is Bekah.

getting lined up to walk the stage

I think you can hear it better in JAGdad's taping, but if you listen closely you can hear Bekah ask about Shelby's name. I think she was slightly questioning why Shelby doesn't have the same last name as her. I know the conversations are coming especially since she is starting to question who the man is that I leave Shelby with every few months. 

Anyway, I am so proud of my Shelby-girl! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Post: Zoobilee

A few weeks ago we attended a members only event at the Houston Zoo. Let me take this moment to say that a zoo membership is so worth the money. We got it as a Christmas Present and love it!

So, Zoobilee is a member only event where they close the zoo early to the public. They have face painting, DJS, the carousel is free to everyone and they have a scavenger hunt for the kids.

Since it started at five and Matt was meeting us there from work we decided to save money (even though zoo members get a discount on food) and take sandwiches. I almost always take our food to the zoo because I just can not deal with spending $3.00 for an orange (it's not that bad, but it's pretty close).

The girls love the zoo. We would go every day if it wasn't an hour away!

There are, I think, three baby elephants right now.

 I love how up close and personal you can get with the giraffes.

Bekah's hand just cracks me up in the picture. More than likely she was moving Matt's head to see what she was seeing. 

Before we left we had a free ice cream sundae. 

It was a great evening at the zoo.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Story: Raw Feelings

I planned on writing yesterday. I planned on focusing on how great Mondays can be and how they allow for a fresh start. Mother’s day was good, but left me a bit melancholy as I am still sorting through my feelings about my last post. 

I’ve heard through the grapevine that people are really wanting to read happy posts from me and I do have a few planned, but today I need to get real with you, again. 

I’ve kept an open dialogue with Shelby during this entire process and Saturday she laid a question on the table that I carried in my heart all weekend. 

So in reality you have five children. You will see your babies in heaven, right? 

A question that has haunted me for years. 

This morning I searched the internet (hoping for direction to a verse in the bible) and saw that I am not the only one with this question. I am not the only one living with this pain. There are so many women like me living with the pain and morning children that we chose not to have. It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, it makes we want to curl up in the corner and just cry. 

Yes, I believe I will be reunited with my children in heaven. And to be honest that brings me sadness when it should bring me happiness. Happiness that God’s got them and they are perfect just like all of us will be when we arrive in Heaven. 

My sadness is rooted in fear that is probably unjustified. Will they forgive me? Will they hate me? Will I know who they are? 

I am not sure how the whole Heaven thing will work out. I don’t know why I see in my mind an airport terminal. My loved ones waiting at my gate and as I walk through those doors I see signs that say “Dana’s Family” and I am reunited with my grandparents, my family, dear friends, and my children. I picture tears (which probably is not right - there is not crying in Heaven, right?) and see myself hugging my children. “I am so sorry that I was so self involved, I am sorry I didn’t think about you and God’s plan for your life, I am sorry that I chose to let you go. I am so so sorry.”

These feelings made mother’s day harder for me then years past. I just was not feeling like the mother of the year (do any of us actually feel this?). It’s hard to have Matt tell me that I am a great mom because this year I felt like I’ve really failed two of my five children. I know I can work through this, I know this is part of my healing and I know that God’s grace can heal these wounds. I just really, really thought they’d been healed, but that question it got me. 

I can say in the past week that I’ve held my girls longer, I’ve read even more books than before. I’ve given way more kisses than they want. I’ve spread love to five children through my three girls - not sure if that makes sense at all. I am thankful the God allowed me to have my babies and to get the opportunity to heal. 

Matt shared this post with me last week, it’s a good one, but since this is raw again it’s still hard to wrap my head around.