preemie

Finnley Haven Turns Four Months Old

It feels like just yesterday that our little miracle baby was introduced to the world. Today, we celebrate a very Happy Four Months to our beautiful baby girl, Finnley Haven.

At one month gestation, our little 29 week preemie now weighs five times her birth weight at a whopping ten pounds! As of last week, she’s officially out of her newborn clothes. She’s grown from fourteen inches to twenty-one. And we feel like we have less of a baby and more of a toddler.

Her eyes have miraculously developed 100% normally. After five excruciating eye exams, yesterday, we received the incredible news that there is no trace of blindness and she won’t be needing any surgery! Our God reigns, we are just so thankful! 

In other news… FinnFinn loves staring at the ceiling fan, being passed around by family like a hot potato, snuggling with daddy, bubble baths, and practicing Spanish with mommy.

We’re just so grateful for her life and for all of your continued love, prayers and support! Thank you!

xoxo,

    – RACHEL

The Diaper-Rash Fighting Secret

I think one of the most common fears amongst mommas is the very common occurrence of diaper rashes. While we were in the NICU with Finnley, the nurses shared their age-old secret that helps fight and prevent diaper rashes. Thanks to this wonderful little tip, our little four-month old has never had a diaper rash. 

Praise God for tried-and-true tips and happy babies!

xoxo,

    – RACHEL

THE SECRET: It’s as simple as using AQUAPHOR by Eucerin ($6/ea).

WHAT IT DOES: Aquaphor acts as a protective barrier. Commonly used to protect skin from chaffing when running, biking, swimming or exercising. **Please Note: It is only a preventative measure for diaper rash, not a healing ointment for diaper rash.**

HOW TO USE: After each diaper change, apply a dime-sized amount of Aquaphor on your baby’s bumbum and diaper regions. **Please Note: For external use only.**

OTHER USES: Great to help heal eczema, bug bites, dry/cracked skin (especially due to a runny nose), baby acne, and 100% safe to use on your little one!

BUY IT:
We purchased a 14oz jar of Aquaphor ($13) for our changing table, best price via amazon:

keep your baby's bumbum happy. Learn the diaper-rash fighting secret. tried and true and proven to protect your little one. rachelaz.com
And 1.75oz tubes of Aquaphor ($6/ea) for each of our diaper bags, and vehicles, best price via amazon:
keep your baby's bumbum happy. Learn the diaper-rash fighting secret. tried and true and proven to protect your little one. rachelaz.com

 

Polished Perfect

“Whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones…”  -Matthew 23:27

As silly as it sounds, every time I paint my nails I’m reminded of the horrific events that took place in the spring of 2012.  One of my best friends left her apartment, checked into a hotel and consumed an entire bottle of 500mg Extra-Strength Excedrin, another of Tylenol and a 2-liter energy drink.  When we found her, she was hardly responsive and her skin had green undertones.  As tears were falling from her face faster than her sleeves could catch them, my other friend, Cara, called an ambulance.

I couldn’t even function.  I just sat there in silence at the foot of the bed, blankly starring at my gorgeous friend’s near lifeless body.  As I picked up her hand, I noticed her fingernail polish was chipped.  Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed a bottle of polish and tried my best to paint her nails.  Looking back on this, we all laugh at how stupid I was to paint her nails in such a time of absolute crisis.  I still kick myself for doing something that was so entirely irrelevant to the situation.

You will be relieved to know and I am thrilled to report that after three days in the ICU, my friend survived and was released without any stomach or liver damage.  God is sovereign.  She is an incredible woman and has a jaw-dropping testimony nothing short of an amazing miracle.

As I was thinking back on all this the other day, I realized that I’ve been painting my nails in the midst of crisis for as long as I can remember.  My coping mechanisms have always been to hold everything together.  Be perfect.  Or at least act and appear to be put together.  Maybe, if I looked whole on the outside, something would transform on the inside to match.  The more I struggled internally, the more I tightened the mask strings.  But inside, beneath the image was always a little girl—and she was completely falling apart.

Image: An imitation of a person or thing; a representation, likeness, impression or conception of oneself; an illusion.

I learned at a young age that the world doesn’t care about how the girl in the pictures really feels.  I quickly learned to have a positive outlook, stuff my emotions, and fight for a flawless reflection.  But this was never a lasting identity, it was only an image.  The more pain, loneliness, rejection and insecurity I felt; the more I strived to paint an inaccurate picture of a girl who had it all together.

Beneath the facade I had no idea who I was or where my value was found.  I fought my hardest to maintain an image that had absolutely no relationship with reality.  But the outside couldn’t fix what was happening inside.

We live in a world that applauds, endorses, and super glues on the masks.  Our world worships images.  We’ve learned by example to push the limits and see how far we will go to maintain the image we want others to see.  We want people to view us superficially so they won’t look past the masks, or God forbid, stick around long enough to see how we really are.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  -1 Samuel 16:7

Thankfully, God doesn’t buy into “fake”.  He isn’t fooled by facades, intimidated by masks, or takes us at our word when we say that we’re “doing great!”  He sees past the act and speaks to our hearts.  He sees us falling apart and breathes life into us.  Like the woman with the alabaster jar, sitting at Jesus’ feet in the midst of her filth, mess, insecurity and pain.  This kind of vulnerability pulls on His heart strings.  He faithfully seeks us out to break off the things that hold us back, threatening to hold us captive.

“All of us then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces.” –2 Corinthians 3:18

This kind of matchless beauty is so raw and undone it scares those who are still in chains.  This reckless transparency with messy hair, mascara running, bent knees and a heart of flesh cannot be fabricated.  It’s as real as they come.  This absolute humility is so authentic it makes others uncomfortable.  But it’s the imperfect that the Lord chooses to use.  Our weakness allows Him to be our perfect strength.

He sees us. Fighting to be faithful, wrestling through motherhood, trying to parent perfectly, in yesterday’s topknot, with dried spit-up down our shirts. He begs us to leave the dishes and climb over the dirty piles of laundry. He beckons us to come away with Him. To sit at his feet. To rest in Him. To just be His daughter.

When your need for approval is fulfilled by what you do, how you parent, or imperfect people, you will always be left desiring more.  I encourage you; Run to the One whose perfection isn’t painted on with brushes, designed by the fashion elite, studied in Ivy League classes, or worn as couture. He is simply perfect so we won’t have to be.  He is the answer to our imperfection.  The sooner we take off our masks and come face to face with who we’ve become, the sooner He can intervene and make us who we were born to be.  It’s still a daily struggle to be real,  but I’m learning how to walk in freedom of who He has created me to be.

His absolute security beckons me to be renewed.  He loves me just as I am.  Broken, hurting, confused, crumbling; real.  And He desires to make me whole and lacking nothing.

So, which is more important to you—your outward persona or your inward well being?  Don’t paint your nails while dying—it’s senseless.

“He said to me… ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:9-10