Maternity and Postpartum :: Affordable Clothing Guide

Let’s be honest – shopping when you’re pregnant or just had a baby can be hard on your emotions and expensive. It’s hard to find places that sell maternity clothes that are affordable and aren’t splattered with old lady patterns, and it can be not so fun to look for clothes that fit after you’ve had your little one.

But I’m here to help with that! First, let me say something very true: you are beautiful and your body is an amazing thing. You are carrying/just birthed a tiny human being! How incredible is that!

Now to the good stuff – I hope this helps and encourages you! Congratulations, mama!

Some links are affiliate links.

KEY PIECES YOU NEED
MATERNITY

  • Long paneled leggings :: these are just the best. To be honest, I still wear mine sometimes! It’s already great that they’re bigger sized leggings to begin with, and on top of that, they cover your belly and support it well! Such a must-have.
  • Comfy dresses/tunics :: if we’re being real, nobody wants to wear pants when they’re pregnant. Nobody. So having these (hopefully with pockets because those are the bomb) to pair with leggings or to wear by themselves (hello July due date) is a life saver! Also, hear this loud and clear: you do NOT have to buy clothes marked “maternity.” Chances are, they’re going to be not-so-cute and $20 more than what you’d pay for a normal sized dress. Instead of shopping “maternity,” just get one or two sizes bigger in the normal section! Stay tuned for where to shop.
  • Comfortable shoes :: especially if you’re like me and had to work 40 hours a week during pregnancy, you want some good shoes to wear. Cute, but comfy!
  • Bralettes :: I heard from a Lactation nurse that wearing underwires in your bra can cause infection when your breasts are full of milk. I took this to hear and stopped wearing my Victoria Secret bras pretty early! These are a nice transition between your normal bras and nursing bras while you’re pregnant. Plus, so much more comfortable!

POSTPARTUM

  • Nursing bras :: whether you’re nursing or pumping, you’re going to want some of these. You can shop the ones I have here! Super comfortable, which is important considering you sleep in them too.
  • Jeggings :: I just love these. I have them in three different colors! These are great because they’re nicer than leggings, go great with t-shirts, and give you a comfortable way to buy some time until you’re real jeans fit again!
  • Nursing-friendly tops/dresses :: this is where it gets tricky, but let me let you in on a little secret. There are places that sell affordable pieces for your nursing needs that are just as beautiful as clothes you have in your closet from pre-mom life. Keep reading for more!
  • Postpartum recovery girdle :: these are awesome. I have one from Bellefit, and I really recommend it! It helps in your postpartum recovery by improving your posture, helping with any bleeding you have going on, and getting your body back into shape all while making you feel more confident in your clothes as your body recovers and it holds everything together! See below for a promo code to save money on yours!

WHERE TO SHOP

Okay, here’s the fun part. Time to shop! Click on the links below and check out three of the websites I’ve used in my journey through maternity and postpartum. I hope you get some great stuff and feel confident in your beautiful skin!

  • JessaKae :: with new editions to her website every week, Jessa offers so many cute clothes for a variety of styles. She has the cutest shoes, too! So affordable, and a lot of what she has is nursing-friendly.
  • Roolee :: this website has a whole section for mamas! Such a cute place to shop!
  • Bellefit :: This is where I got my fabulous postpartum girdle. Go get yours AND use the promo code TAYF20 for $20 OFF!

Here are some fun examples of pieces I have! You can shop these dresses and other beautiful items by clicking the links above!  

JESSAKAE

This dress is AMAZING. It’s a wrap-around dress, so super nursing friendly. It’s also a light material, so can be cute for warmer weather or for fall if paired with a cardigan. It’s called the Tea Garden Wrap Dress. ❤

This is the Nashville Striped Dress. A really nice material but stretchy. I love the striped design and how they are printed in different angles to make it really flattering for this postpartum body of mine. 🙂

This is the Ivory Enchanted Floral Midi Dress. I actually wore this to one of my baby showers at 36 weeks pregnant! Love the pockets and the stretchy material.

ROOLEE

This dress is sold out 😦 but is just one example of the beautiful outfits this website offers! This one wasn’t even in their mama section, but is still nursing friendly with the buttons on the front! Go check them out!

Advertisements

One Month as Mama :: What I’ve Learned

On July 31, 2017, my life changed drastically.

Finley Jo entered the world at 5:29 PM and just like *that* I became a mama.

IMG_0134

It’s been a little over a month and I’m still no expert by any means, but I believe baby girl has trained me somewhat! Since I did a post after being married for a month, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned this far in mamahood.

+ + + + +

To the soon-to-be mama,

You can’t control a thing.

The crazy thing about it to me is that there’s no real preparation for it. You can read all the books you want, ask all the questions, and watch someone else mother with your own eyes, but nothing can fully prepare you. I think God did that on purpose so we’d learn to trust Him. Because if we’re being honest, when everything is working by my own efforts (and it never really does…), I don’t feel that I need God in that area of my life. Motherhood is so very far from being one of those areas. 🙂

From the naps taken to the gas pains to the cry fits in public, there’s just no control. And I’m learning to love that, learning to embrace those opportunities to seek God in them. God’s had to teach me this lesson quite a few times in my life, and He’s teaching me again.

There will be setbacks in sleep training and times where you have to clean poop off the wall. And that’s okay. It’s all part of the humbling and sanctifying journey!

IMG_0531

Be picky about your pediatrician AND his/her practice.

This is one thing I would do much differently if I had the chance to go back in time. In my experience, there have been issues with getting questions answered and feeling like when they were answered, it was just to get me to go away.

If you’re searching for a pediatrician for your little one on the way, do yourself a favor and do these things:

  • Go there. Meet some of the people in the office and get a feel for how you’ll be treated and prioritized when you come in for appointments.
  • See about setting up an appointment to meet the pediatrician. Make a list of questions to ask him or her beforehand that you’d love to know!
  • Ask the front desk how they go about answering questions you call with over the phone. Do they transfer you to a nurse? How long does it usually take to get a call back?
  • Ask them what the typical wait time is for an emergency appointment, should your baby need to come in on a whim.

FullSizeRender-2

Just assume Baby’s stomach is ultra-sensitive.

About three weeks into mamahood, my milk supply went down drastically and we had to start supplementing formula. As a new mom, I had no idea which brand or type to start Finley with, so I called my pediatrician and they suggested regular ole Enfamil.

Now I’m totally not a medical professional, and I know Enfamil works for a lot of little ones, but in our experience and the experience of a couple of my friends, that lactose just made our little ones miserable. If I could do it over again, I would have just started with formula for sensitive tummies (we use Semilac Sensitive, which is soy-based), because that way you have all your bases covered and don’t even have to worry whether or not they’ll have a reaction to it. It’s not any more expensive (the cost for us actually went down) and it’s a whole lot cheaper in regards to Baby’s comfort and your sanity. 🙂

IMG_0502

Decide ahead of time that you’ll keep your marriage a priority.

Before I had Finley, I decided that when she came, I would make myself let someone else take care of her every now and then to give me a break, and more importantly spend some time with my husband. Because if we’re not in sync and our marriage is suffering, how in the world are we supposed to be good parents for our girl?

Tyler and I are a much stronger team since Finley has joined our little family. Parenthood can be hard on marriage, but can also be so so good for it. You almost have to make up instantly when you bicker (at least, in these early days) because you need each other too much and can’t afford to not help each other.

Every mom is different, but for me, I felt like I could start letting people babysit Fin as early as 3 weeks old. I know moms that have one year olds and still haven’t left their babies for longer than a couple hours at a time, and that’s okay too! For me, it was hard at first to do this, but I have actually already let one of my family members keep her overnight. It seemed crazy when I made the decision but it was the best thing I could have done that particular day for my sanity and for my marriage. It gave Tyler and me the chance to get some uninterrupted time together to get back on the same page and to really talk about how we were both doing with transition to this new season of parenthood. It also gave me the humongous gift of a full night’s sleep. I felt so re-energized and replenished after that one night!

Like I mentioned before, every mama is different, but when you feel like it would do you some good to get a little break, find someone you trust and don’t be afraid to ask! Chances are, those around you are dying to spend time with your beautiful baby anyway and would love to keep him or her! Which leads me to my next point…

IMG_0523

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to accept it.

Ever since I moved off to college and started buying my own toothpaste, I’ve been pretty adamant about doing stuff on my own, but since having Finley I’ve had to learn that it’s better for me to let others take over sometimes.

Having a newborn can sometimes be overwhelming, and that’s very normal. On top of all the crazed hormones, you have a little person that is totally and solely dependent on you for everything which can sometimes make it hard to take care of yourself and your house and your husband and all the other things.

So, if someone offers to bring you food or clean your kitchen or watch Baby while you shower, let them.

IMG_0340

Babies aren’t robots.

This seems like a very silly thing to say, but it’s almost like I subconsciously believed it, that babies will give you certain results if you do certain things . . . and that if you go down the list of their needs, making sure their diaper is clean and they are fed and warm, that they will be happy and pleasant. Not the case!

Believe it or not, babies have bad days too. I have to keep reminding myself that Finley is just a little woman, which means that sometimes she’s just a diva and just needs to be a little salty from a long day. And that’s okay. Allow your little one to have bad moods and bad days and extend grace when they do!

IMG_0358

Anxiety stresses Baby, too.

I came to realize this the hard way after the first couple weeks. I started to notice after a few days that Finley seemed to be a lot more pleasant when other people were feeding her or spending time taking care of her, and it really hurt my feelings. I would wake up in the middle of the night for her feedings, and she would just cry and cry and I couldn’t figure out why she “didn’t like me,” because Tyler would take her from me to try and calm her down and she would be just fine.

She could sense my anxiousness. Ever since I realized what was happening, I have forced myself to stay calm when I start to get anxious, and I’ve seen a huge difference. She sleeps better, eats better, and so do I!

Think about when you’ve been around someone who was anxious, especially if it was the person in charge, and remember how that feels. Your baby feels the same way! Unsafe, unsure, frustrated, scared. There are times you’re gonna feel anxious as a new mama, and that’s okay. This is where your prayer life is nurtured (man oh man, let me tell you…) and you tap into a strength not your own. Take those opportunities to overcome fear by resting in His peace that passes understanding, and passing that peace on to your sweet little one.

IMG_0256.jpg

“It gets better” and it all really is worth it.

These days, my conversations with people usually go something like this:

“Congratulations on the new baby! How are you doing?”

“I’m good, just adjusting and very tired.”

“Girl, I know. It gets better. The first three months are just the hardest.”

I’m not to that third month yet, but I can already tell you that they’re right. I don’t know about with the second baby, but having your first is a huge adjustment. Everything about your day-to-day life changes completely and it’s hard in those first days to feel normal. It’s a beautiful yet hard adjustment. It takes time to settle into a new norm, and that’s okay.

You will sleep again and you will get past the fog of those first weeks. You’ll find a new routine and feel sane again. You’ll get to a place where you remember to eat again and where showers are once again a part of your day. Promise!

At five weeks, I’m just starting to get to that point, and it feels good. I’m loving being a mama and spending every second with my sweet girl. Her smile completely melts me and I feel so unworthy to be her mama. What a gift this season is!

IMG_0338.jpg

My new mama must-haves

I’ve been a mom for just a month, and already have so many fun things that have been lifesavers in this new season with a newborn.

If you’re gearing up to welcome a little into the world, check out what’s helped me below! If you’re already a mama, feel free to share what’s helped you!

*There are affiliate links in this post!

Feeding

BREAST PUMP

s559965213217096007_p19_i1_w1800.jpeg

I have the Spectra S2, and I love it because it’s super quiet, small/easy to tote around, and easy to use!

MADELA NIPPLE SHIELD

MNipSh001-02.jpg.png

They handed me one of these in the hospital right after Fin was born, and it’s been great for her to learn to latch. It’s also been great to help her switch between drinking from bottles and from me, as it gives her a similar effect when it comes to the ease of drinking!

DR. BROWNS BOTTLES

71T6GtZ6A0L._SY355_

Y’all. These have been a lifesaver when it comes to helping Finley with her gas issues. We started out by using the bottles the hospital gave us, but switching to these definitely reduced her gas issues (which is a blessing for baby and mama).

BREAST PUMP BRA

medela_bustier_product.jpg

I understand this sounds/looks ridiculous, but the struggle is real when you have to sit in one spot for 15-30 minutes at a time, and don’t even have access to your hands! I bought this on the chance I’d find it useful, and boy have I! This has made my experience so much more enjoyable – I can read a book, hold my baby girl, and even write a blog post while pumping! 😉 I may or may not also fall asleep while pumping in the middle of the night… If you don’t want to buy one, I’ve also seen where some mamas make their own out of old sports bras!

COVERED GOODS COVER

CoveredGoods-Marketing-03_grande

These can be used for multiple things! Breastfeeding cover (came in handy even in the hospital, when folks were uncomfortable with watching her nurse), shopping cart cover, car seat canopy, and even a pretty scarf! This brand is the best in my opinion – such pretty patterns and very well made!

Pain and Discomfort

LANISOH NIPPLE CREAM

71bSj-CRllL._SX522_

Just trust me. This is good stuff. AND it’s safe for baby when breastfeeding/pumping!

NUMBING SPRAY

450

If I ever met the person that invented this, they would get a huge hug from me. And probably a box of chocolates.

Sleep

HALO BASSINET

81kTDZjCUML._SY355_

I just love this thing. Allows Fin to sleep right beside mama, safely and conveniently for middle of the night feeds.

NOE & ZOE BERLIN SWADDLES

IMG_0339-2

In my opinion, these are the best. We’ve tried other brands and they just don’t work as well as these muslin wonders! They are a great size (larger than most) and really keep that baby in tight!

Travel

CITY MINI STROLLER

FullSizeRender

People told me this was the best stroller, and now I’m totally on that fan train. SO easy to maneuver and a delight to use. Just be aware there are different versions with the main difference being the wheels – wish we would have gotten the one with wheels for tougher terrain!

BOTTLE COOLER

8751D4A3.zoom

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=urningages-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01MQ4ESWM&asins=B01MQ4ESWM&linkId=76908535f0d22c7753541984740bf956&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF“>This has been an essential for us. Even if we’re going to visit our parents for an afternoon, it’s so helpful to be able to bring a small cooler to stuff some food in for baby girl!

MY DIAPER BAG 

hipcub-tote-diaper-bag-gray-white-front_2000x.jpg

When I was picking out a bag to register for, I did a lot of digging. This one has served us so well, and is such a beaut!

STROLLER FAN

Best-stroller-fan-1

I grabbed this at the last minute before Fin was born, and so glad that I did! Eases mama’s mind when strolling baby around in the summer heat and keeps baby cool! I also may or may not have clipped it to my hospital bed while in labor…

For Baby

GAS DROPS

c2fe196d-abe0-4906-bc28-0f12d8ea2ea8_1.a103f18b497c576ea05c2b00a3ad22a3

You guys – Fin is a different baby since gas drops. Her witching hour (for now) has gotten so much better, and these drops of liquid goodness soothe my baby’s tummy. This mama is so thankful!

GRIPE WATER

7bf0aabf-3b89-446e-8da0-309380483790_1.f783339f8e6bfb7e3b4d3f951b2b86a2.jpeg

Although this is supposed to help with gas too, we actually just use this for hiccups. Literally within seconds of giving Fin a tiny dose of this, her hiccups are gone!

For Mama

LARGE WATER BOTTLE

Especially when breastfeeding (but regardless!), mama needs to stay hydrated! I have a huge jug of water that I keep full and drink throughout the day. I take it with me everywhere and keep by my bed for middle of the night wake up times!

BASKET

This isn’t something I thought of until Finley was actually here, but has been so helpful. It really depends on your routine, but for us we move all-the-things to the bedroom at night and move them all again in the morning. I decided to just put everything in a basket and tote it that way! It saves so much time and helps me stay organized. When in doubt, it’s in the basket. 🙂

Seeking Joy Through the Fog

This season is teaching me a lot about what it means to trust God’s kindness and choosing to be still (yes, again).

A lot of it has to do with my long-neglected habit of stopping to count the gifts in my life, rather than spending my time entertaining the lies and fearful thoughts that cloud my mind.

You see, if I don’t sit still for a moment, things stay foggy.

Have you ever dealt with something for a long period of time and, instead of using your energy to keep fighting it off, you just subconsciously decide to welcome it as a part of you? Almost as an annoying friend you have to take with you everywhere?

That’s me and anxiety.

There are some days where I’m feeling ultra-victorious, when I’ve been encouraged and reminded of the victory I ultimately have in Jesus. And man oh man, on those days am I ever. But then there are other days when it just feels like too much. I feel I don’t have time or energy to fight. I’m tired – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and I just want to give up.

Do you ever feel like that? Like the fog just follows you?

Like fog tends to do, it makes your vision a bit hazy. When I welcome anxiety as a companion instead of seeing it as an enemy, I can’t see well at all. My circumstances look different and my motivations are off, which then leads me to see God through the lens of my circumstances and not through His promises.

Through the lens of the circumstances of my mental health, I see God as unfair. It feels He’s forgotten me, that my prayers are not heard, that He doesn’t want healing for my life. What a hopeless and lifeless place to be.

In His word, though, and through the little graces in my life – if I’ll only stop and ponder them – I’ll see that none of that is true. It’s where working on my faith comes in, where I have a choice to stop and remember.

+ + + +

I have a sweet baby girl turning twirls in my tummy, who could make her debut any day now. What a gift, what an unfathomable grace to be her mama.

God promises me that He hears my prayers, and will deliver me from all my troubles (Psalm 34:17, 107:13).

My husband is the sweetest gift from God. He is calm when I tremble, sane when my hormones are everywhere, and patient when I am frustrated with lack of control. He fights for me daily and intentionally speaks words of life over my fears and insecurities. What a blessed gift to celebrate.

God promises me that His kindness and His peace will never leave me (Isaiah 54:10).

God has given me a reason for my pain, an outlet to use my brokenness for good. He’s set His vision for a ministry in my heart, and given me a team of women to lock arms with to share His freedom and peace with others. What an incredible opportunity, what a purpose-filled calling.

+ + + +

Maybe today you find yourself in a tough situation. Maybe you’re struggling with something in your life, and nobody even knows. Maybe there’s a sorrow – a hollow pain – in your heart that longs to be filled with joy.

Can I speak something over you, my friend? You don’t have to stay there, in that dark place. You have the choice to find joy in the promises and presence of God.

You see, God never leaves His children. The realities of His kindness and His mercies may be fogged by our circumstances, but His light and His freedom are always there behind the haze – we just have to choose to find it.

IMG_0059

Part of being still is choosing to stop fighting and letting Him fight for us. Instead of giving up and giving into the struggles in our lives, we settle in and welcome His truths as holy weapons for our battles.

Let’s search for joy today – in His word and in the little gifts in our lives. Let’s take time to stop, breathe, and choose to believe in His promises, to let Him stir up the hope and peace in our hearts that we so long for.

my “so that” moment

It was February of 2015, the month my whole life changed.

Everything was light, and all the sudden there was a dark heaviness. All I knew to be true about myself and about God was questioned in the most twisted ways and I didn’t feel there was any firm place to stand.

Thoughts were consuming, my heart was pounding, and I didn’t trust anyone with the thoughts I had swirling inside my head. Suddenly my thoughts seemed not my own, but from a place I never imagined I would go.

It was the darkest time I’ve ever known. Even calling my condition by name wasn’t very helpful – but only by the process and the journey God gave me was I able to see light again.

OCD.

The most twisted, ugly, dark, unfamiliar, unlikely, unwelcomed companion.

Most think, as I did before, that people who struggle with OCD are just clean freaks or quirky with lining their pencils straight on their desk. But this mental disorder is so much more than that. OCD takes what you are most afraid of and makes it a possibility in your mind so much that it seems true. In short, it attacks what you love the most in your own mind, leading you to think that you are the one to blame for the destruction that isn’t even happening. Think of the most unlikely and terrifying thought you could ever have, and that’s what OCD plants in your mind, making it seem the thought is your own. There is so much shame, so much guilt, so much fear. It’s crippling.

February of 2015 was the first time in my life that my faith’s strength was truly rocked. It made me hard, cold, distant, and a different version of myself. I was being thrown lies about who I was and as a result, questioned God’s goodness and purpose for me. It was as if everything I knew to be safe and true was suddenly sharp and unnerving like broken glass under my feet.

+ + + + + 

Today, I’m still fighting the darkness. Every day my thought life is a battleground I never knew I’d encounter. But there’s light again.

I still question God in the most vulnerable ways. Why would he let this happen to me? Why would he allow this mental disorder to be a part of my life? And although I think it’s okay to ask God those questions as Jesus did (see Matthew 27:46), I was neglecting for the longest time the more important question: “Lord, how can this be used to help someone else?”

You see, pain always has a purpose.

As my pastor wisely spoke on Easter Sunday, “Your purpose in life is not to understand your ruins, but to seek how your ruins can rebuild someone else.”

+ + + + + 

One of my Bible study leaders, sweet sweet Lisa, used to remind us over and over again that we have a “so that” moment. She would read to us, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (emphasis mine)

I love her for that because I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many times that thought has flown through my mind.

+ + + + + 

On April 5, I woke up expectant.

Earlier that week, I felt God stirring something inside me, and I just knew He was soon going to give me His ideas. I had asked some friends to pray, and I knew that on that Wednesday there would be special time to sit in some quiet and listen for Him to speak.

He did.

He gave me a vision for an online ministry to help women heal and find freedom in the midst of their brokenness through the written word. My calling and my pain, combined into one vision.

FullSizeRender

It’s my “so that” moment, my opportunity to share my broken places and the ways He’s touched me and healed me, so that maybe someone else can experience it too.

He’s calling me to step out in faith and be vulnerable in my weakest places, so the strength of His love and power can shine even stronger and provide hope for His girls out there that need encouragement and freedom.

He’s calling me to build a team of women to do it with me – to write about their broken places and use their pain for a purpose, and to create images and pretty reminders for His girls to be encouraged in His truth.

I wonder if this is your “so that” moment too? Would you pray about it? Would you seek the Lord in this, and ask Him sincerely if He’s calling you to share your gifts to help His kingdom grow?

*If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities available to be a part of this launch team, please email me at tagillilan@gmail.com. I’d love to share with you more of this vision, and about the Designer position in more detail! We are currently at our max for Contributing Writers, but are still accepting applications and are in need of TWO Designers to launch the site!

what I need most as a new mom

In a little over four months, I’ll become a mama.

Aside from a few years of being in denial about wanting children (and in doing so, thinking I was protecting myself from the possibility of never getting married), I always knew I wanted to be a mother. As a child, baby dolls were my toys of choice. I dressed them in real baby clothes, powdered them with real baby powder, strolled them around, rocked them, cleaned them, and even had a couple baby scrapbooks to document, well . . . I’m not really sure.

I would ask my parents and grandparents to take me shopping so that I could be sure I had all I needed to be a good mother. And, in all my seven or eight years of wisdom, I thought I was doing a pretty good job.


And now here I sit, as baby Finley squirms around inside of me, tossing and turning and making me smile with every kick and punch. The footage of her recent sonogram stays pulled up on my computer because I just can’t seem to ever tire of watching her move and seeing her little heart beat. It brings me to tears when I think about what a miracle she is – every bone and ligament and cell placed right where it’s supposed to be by a God that loves her more than even I, her own mother. I am in awe at the purpose with which He knit her in my womb and am so honored that I get to be a part of her life.


In the moments when I’m not a basket case over the sweetness of this gift, I think practically about the things I need to mother her well. Some things are similar to what I used on my baby dolls at seven years old, but there’s one thing I never thought of until one of my long drives to work.

+ + + + +

You could say I’m an adult.

I’ve lived on my own for a few years, during which time I’ve bought my own toilet paper (that, my friends, felt like a really big adjustment). I’ve graduated college, work a full-time job, and have been through the processes of buying a house and a car (thanks, hubs). I know how to chop garlic and how to iron and how to take care of myself and my husband (for the most part because – hello – always learning).

I was raised by my parents and now I’m in this place in life where I’m doing it all on my own.

That seems to be our mindset, right? Or, our goal, even? Our parents raise us and once we’re raised, their work is done, and we go out on our own and all the sudden are able to make these really important decisions and finish our race in all of our adult-ness. Until we mess up, or realize we don’t know what the heck we’re doing.

I guess what I never thought about when pondering my list of needs as a new mommy is the truth that I’m always going to need to be parented.

On a drive to work one morning, I fought with God for at least half the way about a decision I wanted to make. You see, I really wanted to stop at Chick-fil-A and get a biscuit, even though my husband and I agreed to one meal out per week, to keep ourselves within a good budget, and I’d already had lunch out the day before. But there were hormones and hunger pangs and I just really didn’t want to wait that extra ten minutes it took to get to the office and toast a frozen waffle. And so I fought.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t stop and get a biscuit (that day), but as I drove past the parking lot full of people enjoying all the Jesus chicken, I felt in my spirit God say to me, “Let me parent you.”

Oops. Talk about humbling.

You see, maybe my parents’ job is finished in their raising of me (and to that they probably say ‘hallelujah because that was tough’), but I should always make room for God to step in and have the final say-so.


I’m about to be a parent, but I still need parenting.

When I’m wanting a chicken biscuit that’s unhealthy and dishonors our budget, or when my lack of sleep as a new mom gets the best of me, or even when He tells me to keep saying yes when all I want to say is no.

When I’m adjusting to parenthood and need some direction, when Tyler and I are making big decisions for our little family, when we’re doing all we can to raise our baby girl in a corrupt world, or when nobody told me being pregnant resembled feeling like an exhausted whale.

Later, when Finley is growing too fast and I just want time to stop, or when Finley’s a teenager and has a smart mouth (this’ll be payback), or when she has her first boyfriend (Lord help my sweet husband), I’ll especially need the comfort, direction, and guidance from my heavenly father.


And just like when we were kids and fought our parents’ instructions because we didn’t understand them (I hated that curfew), sometimes the Holy Spirit will whisper something that makes no sense and we have to have the humility and the obedience to follow anyway.

+ + + + +

In what areas of your life do you need to invite and allow God to parent you today?

I have some specific areas that come to mind for myself where I’ve been extra stubborn, and I’m praying through that today.

I so hope you’ll join me, because to let God in is to welcome freedom, and I don’t know about you, but I always need more of that.

Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful. The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive. Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools. -Proverbs 16:20-22

Our Crazy Small Wedding

I’ve been wanting to write this ever since the day we said “I do!” and, to be honest, I look at photos of our wedding day probably a little too frequently. I just loved it; it was the best of days.

If you’ve never planned a wedding before, let me just clear something up: it’s not easy. And the hard part doesn’t even really come from the logistics, but from the opinions of others. If you let them, the pressures that spill from other peoples’ words will steal your joy in your wedding-planning season. I admit, I fell into that trap – at first.

As some of you know, Tyler and I started dating again in June 2015. We both knew pretty quickly where God was leading us, so it wasn’t a shock to many people that we were going to get married. What was a shock to everyone, is how short our time of engagement was. To some, it seemed like we didn’t have the patience to wait; to us, it felt like a long time coming. That’s a post for another time, but I’ll sum up our short engagement like this: when my peace gets a certain amount of heavy about what God wants me to do, it’s so much easier for me to jump.

So, the wedding planning began. With a combination of a small budget and our readiness and excitement to start our journey together, you could say our thinking got a bit crazy. If you know me, I’m a planner and normally like to have things well thought-out before I do something. But with this? All of that went out the window. And I was 100% okay with it.

THE BACK STORY

We started out by setting the date at September 10th, 2016. We were going to get married in the town where we grew up, in an outside chapel at the city park, and have the reception in one of the conference rooms nearby. And then, we started on the guest list. Looking at that next to our slim budget made my stress levels skyrocket, and we knew we had to go with another plan.

The beach, for us, has always been a very special place. It was on a day trip we took to Gulf Shores in the summer of 2015, that I knew I wanted to be his travel partner forever. Tyler and I had tossed around the idea of getting married at the beach, but always as a dream, not a suggestion. The more we talked about it, the more we decided we were just crazy enough to do it. We decided around the first of June that we would get married on July 23rd in Navarre, FL (that’s right – a month away). Needless to say, we had some very opinionated responses to that. But we just had to decide that it didn’t matter – this is what we wanted.

I had about a month to plan, so all in June, we bought my wedding dress (thank you, Mom!), Tyler’s outfit, makeup, accessories, a burlap runner to use for the aisle, and some tiki torches to use for decoration at the wedding. We also ordered and sent out invitations!

Oh, and my stepdad got ordained.

I borrowed everything for the reception from my too-generous aunt, and made reservations at the only place large enough in the city to hold everybody. Because of our funds and space, we were only able to invite our families and a few of my closest friends. It was a hard decision, but one we had to make.

WEDDING DAY – MORNING

Things got crazier leading up to the wedding, as it was hard for our guests to find places to stay on such short notice, in the middle of the summer. By the grace of God, everyone found a place, and everything was ready!

Tyler and I drove down to Florida after our work days on Friday, the 22nd, and stayed with his parents at a condo they rented. I woke up the next morning, on my wedding day, in disbelief that our day was actually happening. I was so excited and had the greatest peace.

Unlike many weddings I’ve been to and have been a part of, it was the chillest wedding morning ever. Tyler came into my room that morning as I was waking up, kissed my head, and whispered, “Happy wedding day. I love you. There’s coffee in the kitchen.”

I walked in the common room, grabbed some coffee, and enjoyed it on the balcony overlooking the beach. Later, we walked down to the beach with family and enjoyed time together until it was time for my hair/makeup artist (AKA my little sister) to arrive to start my prep.

It took about two hours for me to get ready, and then it was time to go!

13735119_596439923850773_414366993014652200_o

img_5073taylortylerbw

img_5071taylortylerbw

img_5070taylortylerbw

Makeup and Hair: Sydney Gillilan (sister)

Dress: Altar’d State

Bouquet: Michelle Shelton (mama)

Photographers: Michelle Shelton, Kayla Partridge

THE CEREMONY

There haven’t been too many times in my life that something important went awry, and I laughed in response. The start to our wedding ceremony just happens to be one of those things.

As I was finishing up gluing my fake eyelashes onto my face in the car, we pulled up to the city pavilion, where I imaged we’d walk through to the beach, and everything would be laid out and ready to go (because nobody is on the beach at 6PM right? People have to eat! Wrong. So wrong.). I open the back door to the car, and see my mom standing in the middle of the parking lot, looking like she’s been in summer’s heat for an hour. No makeup (or maybe it was there at one point?), and a nervous look on her face, she walks toward us and whispers something to my sister. About five minutes later, I find out that someone has laid on our burlap runner (my aisle) as if it’s a beach towel to sunbathe, and my sister is in the process of telling them not-so-kindly to MOVE. I laughed really hard.

At about 6:15, the strange people had finally found something else to lay on, and my precious friends and family had found somewhere else to set up my little wedding. And so it was time.

I latched onto my daddy’s arm, and we made our way to where everyone was standing. “Which side are you supposed to stand on?” he asked. “Ehh.. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.” With a shocked look on his face, he responded, “You must really want this. I’ve never known you to just ‘wing’ anything.” “Yes, I do,” I said with a smile. About a half a mile later (okay, a little bit exaggerated), we reached the runner and from that point forward, the only person I saw was Tyler and the only thing I felt was the peace and presence of God.

13735116_596443793850386_9038240257612945484_o

13698236_596444097183689_5802451561678395859_o

img_4948taylortylerbw

13615131_596444167183682_3300585154928134058_n

13669077_596444190517013_5497953872667087717_n

13781945_596444267183672_6771653541673286892_n

img_5002taylortylerbw

img_5006taylortylerbw

13769474_596444573850308_2180270741145105397_n

13620021_596444677183631_6195977738623652976_n

Officiate: Kyle Shelton (stepdad)

Music: Lauren Oden, Violin // Katie Compton Brasher, Guitar and Vocals // “La Reyna” – Penny & Sparrow (wedding song), “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, Be Thou My Vision (special), Make You Feel My Love – Adele 

After we made our covenant in front of our loved ones, we started back down the aisle as one (with, might I add, an awkward delay in music). We made our way up to a hill nearby and had a moment together of “wow. this is it!” before it was time for a few photos.

img_5052taylortylerbw

img_5061taylortylerbw

13723942_596445550516877_5963794616933949019_o

THE RECEPTION

We pulled up to East River, which I had only seen in photos, and I hoped to Jesus that everything would be decent. It far exceeded my expectations. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, the company, the delicious food, the view of the beautiful bay, and the live music!

It was so fun to have everyone in one place, and I’ve never felt more celebrated or beautiful in my life. After everyone’s bellies were full, we danced in the sand and took some more photos before the sun went down.

img_5205taylortylerbw

img_5221taylortylerbw

13737492_596443863850379_2283258538702483028_o

13680526_596443867183712_8039425017054470008_n

img_5188taylortylerbw

img_5168taylortylerbw

Food and Host: East River Smokehouse – Navarre, Florida

Cake: baked by Publix, decorated by Jake Funderburg, Gina Poole, and Beth Tate (sweet in-laws)

Decorations: courtesy of Rhona Osborne (love that aunt of mine)

THANKS

To my sister, Sydney, that threw my bridal shower, prettied me up for my big day, and made me feel like the most beautiful of brides. Oh – and chased down the people who laid on top of my aisle.

To my stepdad, Kyle, who willingly (and over-excitedly) stepped up to marry us. We were honored to have you officiate our wedding.

To my mama, who took beautiful photos, laced together my bouquet, bought flowers the morning-of, worked tirelessly to make sure my day went smoothly, and did so much more than I probably realize.

To Jake, my brother-in-love, who took initiative to create our cake, buy decorations, and make it look awesome with the help of other sweet family members.

To Brittany, the best of friends, who bought me a pre-game sandwich so I wouldn’t pass out mid-vows. You’re a lifesaver.

To our friends and family, who helped with set-up and take down, and who supported Tyler and I in our wedding decisions, as crazy and disastrous as they might have seemed. Thank you for your understanding and willingness to support our wedding dreams.

To everyone else who played a part in our wedding day, thank you thank you thank you. It was the best day of our lives to date, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

13669771_596446243850141_2606913189359082466_n