Motherhood and Sabbath

A few years ago I wrote a post called “4 Practical Tips for Sabbath” with (shocker) some practical tips for sabbath:

  1. Make time for sabbath.
  2. Plan something fun for sabbath.
  3. Prepare for sabbath.
  4. Rest on sabbath.

Sabbath looks very different now that I’ve gone from full-time corporate employee to 24/7 stay-at-home mom. I’m only 13 weeks in and have found that it takes more and more intentionality as life gets busier, and I’m so grateful my former pastor/boss Justin drilled that into me back in 2011.

Anyhow, a couple months ago I realized while conversing with a friend that I hadn’t really taken a sabbath since before Madelyn was born. Since my workplace/life all jumble in to one space, my to-do list is basically constantly in my face. There is always something to clean, laundry to do, chaos to organize… and as a type-A, hyper-responsible person who doesn’t like to enjoy life (joke), I had to sit down and rethink how I did Sabbath.

Here is how I implement my 4 practical tips:

  1. Make time: I set my sabbath Friday evening-Saturday evening most weeks. Chad has Fridays & Saturdays off, I don’t teach Pure Barre classes, and it gives me Fridays to do responsible things (ie. grocery shopping) with Chad home to watch M.
  2. Plan something fun: We typically plan an outing or have someone over. Sometimes I just plan to do something irresponsible, like get lunch from Whole Paycheck Foods.
  3. Prepare: I do all necessary organization and cleaning (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, clutter-ridding) the day before sabbath. That way if something happens (ie. spit-up disaster), I know I did all that was in my power and I didn’t set myself up for stress.
  4. Rest: This one takes the most effort, because in a go-go-go culture & busy-busy-busy mentality, it’s hard to stop and remember how beloved I am as a daughter of God in Christ. It’s hard to be mindful about rest. For my birthday, though, Chad got me a coloring book that I bust out on days/moments I need to stop and remember how much Jesus has done for me (but don’t have the capacity to soak in a ton of text).

Anyhow, what sabbath looks like is a moving target in this season of life, but one verse that I keep looking back to is Hebrews 4:9-12 (emphasis added on v. 11):

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:9-12 ESV

Rest for your soul is freely given, but hard to enter into and fully enjoy. Let us strive to enter that rest. Enjoy your sabbath!


Newborn (& Mama) Products: Favorites, Not-So-Favorites, & FYIs

As a first-time mom, I had no idea which baby products I would really use and which ones I liked the idea of using but would never actually use. I’ve compiled four 5-item lists: favorite newborn products, favorite new mama products, FYI – which brands of essentials I used, and thought-I-needed-it-but-didnt-actually products.

Favorite Newborn Products

  • Water Wipes

    These wipes are not the cheapest ($0.06/wipe), but are by far the best for baby’s skin and totally worth the investment. Thanks to these wipes, my little one rarely gets any sort of rash; when she does, it goes away quickly. The wipes come super moist so I wring out the excess into my OXO Perfect Pull Wipe Dispenser and use Viva Vantage Paper Towels (the super soft ones, cut in half) for extra wipes. It makes it more worth the price.
  • Gerber Flatfold Cloth Diapers

    We aren’t cloth diapering, but these are great as rags/burp cloths. Madelyn is a spit-up queen and we go through at least 3 of these a day. They’re absorbent, cheap, and cover a lot of surface area as a first line of defense for the liquid burps. :)
  • Carter’s Sleep & Plays

    The two things I now look for in newborn clothes are built-in mittens (they looooove scratching their little faces) & zip-up/button-up fronts (because their heads are so soft and delicate). With the exception of a couple outfits for special occasions, these became my go-to very quickly.
  • Matimati Bandana Bibs

    These stylish, soft bandana bibs are the BEST for catching baby drool & spit-up. There are other brands of these out there, but Matimati is what I registered for and currently use. You can see from the photo that these scoop out under the chin, so it helps keep baby’s neck dry better than flat bibs.
  • Miracle Blanket

    No velcro. No zipper. No escape. Best swaddle! I have 2 and rotate between them since I use it for all of Maddie’s naps and sleeps.

Favorite New Mama Products

  • Bamboobies Super Soft Washable Nursing Pads

    Once my milk came in I started leaking everywhere 😛 (Sorry, TMI.) I highly recommend these: machine washable, ridiculously soft, and super absorbent. I got extra overnight ones since I would sometimes go through more than one set before doing the laundry again. Side note: I tried a knock-off brand that advertised “soft bamboo” pads that are cheaper, but the quality is nowhere near these. Worth the splurge.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Cream

    One jar of this lasted me through till breastfeeding wasn’t painful/result in soreness. It also has OK-for-baby ingredients to ingest so you don’t have to wipe it off for every feeding (which is incredibly frequent the first few weeks!). It also smells good. :)
  • Target Gilligan O’Malley Cotton Nursing Camis

    I literally own 8 of these. In the same color. Some days I go through 3 camis. Around the house, I wear this with my yoga pants. When I leave the house, I just put on a nursing scarf/oversized top and wear this as an undershirt. Seriously the best. Get lots of these!
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Hand Cream

    When my mom got this for me I thought, “I live in the Pacific Northwest. I won’t get dry skin!” But alas, with the amount of times I have washed my hands since Maddie’s been born, this hand cream has been a life saver. I highly recommend getting a few tubes and leaving them anywhere you wash your hands.
  • Postpartum Belly Band
    I’ve had some minor lower back injuries since my dance team days, so after a little human exited my body I needed something to help with the lower back pain (and help my organs find their place again). This band is only $13 and relieved a lot of my back pain.

FYI – Brands I Used

  • Stroller: Armadillo Flip XT

    I LOVE MY STROLLER! Huge canopy, full one-hand recline, one-handed fold, giant basket, folds both facing out and with seat reversed, all-terrain wheels. It’s also teal, which happens to be one of my favorite colors. :)
  • Car Seat: Cybex Aton Q

    This car seat is highly rated and fit with the stroller I picked. The base has a shock-absorbing load leg and the seat has an extra large canopy. It also doesn’t require the base for installation, which is convenient for travel.
  • Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers & Bambo Nature

    Pampers Swaddlers are a hit because they have the wetness indicator and fit newborns’ little legs well, so these are husby’s favorite.

    Bambo Nature is almost 100% compostable, super absorbent, and friendly for baby’s tushy; however, these diapers run really big so it took Maddie a couple weeks to fit into these (even their preemie size).
  • Monitor: Angelcare Video Monitor

    We wanted to have our baby sleep in her crib from day 1 so that sleep training would be easier in the long run, and this monitor gave us incentive to do so! The movement pad is installed underneath her crib mattress, and the range is strong enough all around our house, so this was perfect for us. The video quality is terrible and it’s a bit limiting where you can set the monitor/crib, but all in all it does the job and it gives us peace of mind that she is breathing. No false alarms, either.
  • Crib: Babyletto Harlow 3-in-1 Convertible Crib

    My in-laws got this for us, so we got a fancier crib with acrylic bars in the front so you can see through. Babyletto makes a lower end one that is pretty much the same crib without the acrylic (I think it’s the Hudson model).

Not-So-Favorite Products

  • Diaper Ointments/CreamsCreams and ointments made M’s diaper rashes worse, so we found the best solution was a clean, dry tushy (with our WaterWipes), a good diaper (thank you Bambo Nature), and air flow (naked tushy time).
  •  Thick BlanketsI received SO many adorable blankets that are way too thick, heavy, and small. I highly recommend getting a few breathable muslin swaddles (like Ziggy Baby or aden + anais) instead–they’re ginormous and comfy for baby.
  • Cheap Crib SheetsWe got one set of nicer crib sheets that we ended up getting more of (Burt’s Bees) because the cheap crib sheets from Amazon were just flimsy and didn’t fit the crib mattress well enough. You only need 2-3 crib sheets, so opt for ones that won’t leave you stressed about it getting loose and smothering your little one.
  • Over-the-head ClothingFirst-time parents + soft baby head + flailing flimsy baby arms = disaster for over-the-head clothing.
  • Nursing CoversOversized tees, wide scarves, and muslin swaddles are stylish and all you need for coverage.

Whew! That was fun. I hope you find my lists helpful, and let me know if you find any newborn products you can’t live without! :)



Remember His Grace


His grace has come to you.
(John 1:17, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3-4, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3, Revelation 1:4)

His grace was given to you.
(Ephesians 3:2, Ephesians 3:8, Ephesians 4:7, James 4:6)

His grace was made known to you.
(2 Corinthians 8:9)

His grace saved you.
(Ephesians 2:8)

His grace was received by you.
(Romans 1:5, Romans 5:17)

His grace has justified you.
(Titus 3:7)

His grace abounds for you.
(Romans 5:20, 2 Corinthians 9:8)

His grace strengthens you.
(Hebrews 13:9)

His grace extends through you.
(2 Corinthians 4:15, Ephesians 4:29,

His grace is sufficient for you.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

His grace will be with you.
(Romans 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 6:18, Ephesians 6:24, Philippians 4:23, Colossians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:18, 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 4:22, Titus 3:15, Philemon 1:25, 2 John 1:3, Revelation 22:21)

Remember his grace today.


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Wet Cement: The Strategic College Years

Post by my dear husband. “The college campus might be the most strategic mission field in America.” Read:

Chad A. Francis

I’ll never forget the night nearly 2 years ago, where our NG family of 15+ adults shared their testimonies, and we realized nearly all of us were saved in college (if memory serves, 8 or 9 were specifically saved as sophomores, myself included).

Later when I learned that 77% of professions of faith come before or during the college years, I was not surprised. College is a formative time of life.

These years are formative for a myriad of reasons: we are out on our own for the first time (away from mom/dad/the context of our upbringing), learning who we are as individuals, meeting a number of new people/ideas (the college campus is the ultimate melting-pot), making decisions about what we will do with the rest of our lives. People rarely come out the same way they went in, but however they do come out seems pretty set for the…

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Take care, lest you drift away

“People do not drift toward Holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

– D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Volume 2, p. 23

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

– Hebrews 3:12-15

Cha-ren’s Chili: A Beery Bean-less Delight


Last month Chad and I had a mini breakthrough in our marriage: he enjoyed his first (ever!) bowl of chili.

The secret ingredient: beer.

I got the recipe* that night, tweaked it a tad since neither of us are a huge fan of beans, and ta-da! Here it is for you.

Time Estimate
10 minutes prep, ~40 minutes cooking time

– 2 onions, chopped
– 2 bell peppers, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
– 1-1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
– 2-3 tsp. sea salt
– 2-1/2 lb. ground beef (I use 93% lean)
– 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
– 1/4 cup chili powder
– 2 tsp. ground cumin
– 2 12-oz bottles of lager beer
– 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
– toppings (cheese, avocado, green onions, sour cream, fresh ground pepper, etc.)

1. In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, cook onions, bell peppers, garlic, & sea salt for 6-8 minutes.
2. Add beef, cook 5-7 minutes, breaking it up with a spoon until there’s no more pink.
3. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add beer, diced tomatoes + juice, simmer ~25 minutes until chili thickens.
5. Serve with toppings.


*Recipe originally from Real Simple magazine’s Chili for a Crowd.

Why I Go To Church

Must-read from my friend Danielle Tejes, for anyone who has ever wondered why corporate church gatherings are important.

she laughs at the days to come

The sermon at church wasn’t centered around 5 arguments to convince people in the pews to come to church, but yesterday I was reminded why I go to church. Hebrews 3:12-13 says,

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another, every day, as long as it is called “today,”  that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

The writer of Hebrews says that we can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, so we are to take care and exhort one another. In salvation, God takes my heart of stone and makes my heart a heart of flesh. Basically he takes something dead to God and makes it alive to God. But the cares of the week, the pressures of the day can make my heart crusty…

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