First-trimester: The blessing of weakness

I’ve just recently come through {survived} the first trimester of my third pregnancy, and while I am so thankful that this precious life is growing inside of me, I think it’s been the most challenging one yet. When I was pregnant with John Wicks, I shared some of the funnier parts of first-trimester pregnancy, and some parts were similar this time. Like the crazy food aversions and hilarious, unhealthy cravings. I drove through Jack’s for burgers, ate dill pickle spears with La Croix snow cones made in my blender, and stopped to get take-out Mexican food on the way to Chick-fil-A with my family. I sent Adam out for biscuits and orange juice at 9 pm at night and drove him crazy with my indecisiveness about food choices. But, if I’m really being honest, the first trimester season was a lot harder than it was funny. I felt moody and nauseous and very, very tired almost all the time. Viruses, ear infections, and a sinus infection in addition to pregnancy sickness left me spending a lot of time in bed. And the hardest part wasn’t necessarily the sickness itself but the weakness—the inability to accomplish the things that needed to be done, much less all the things I wanted to get done. First-trimester pregnancy was a time of vulnerability. A time of becoming painfully aware of my limits. And I really didn’t like that one little bit. In fact, it often got me a little worked up and stressed.

I think the sickness is finally beginning to ease now, but I still need more rest than normal. I still cannot accomplish as much each day as I would like. And I’m finally realizing how important it is for me to evaluate what’s at the heart of my constant frustration and stress over my heightened weakness during this particular season. Why is it so hard for me to slow down…to rest…to let the laundry get out of hand…to let my kids watch more TV…to read less and sleep more…to intentionally do less in this season and to be ok with that? I don’t like facing my limits and vulnerability because I thrive on achievement and accomplishment. Almost nothing makes me feel better than checking things off the to-do list and feeling like I’ve had a productive day. Almost nothing makes me feel worse than feeling behind, overwhelmed, and unable to catch up. While being driven and productive are good things–God-given qualities that will aid in my work for his Kingdom–my  joy, peace and satisfaction each day cannot be wrapped up in them. I must not bow down to the false god of human accomplishment.

 I must not find my hope in what I can accomplish each day; rather, I must always find my hope in what has already been accomplished on my behalf through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In a recent podcast, I heard Paul Tripp make the following statement: “Generally it’s not my weakness that gets me in trouble, it’s my delusions of strength. The Bible is all about the beauty of God’s grace for the weak. In fact, you could argue that there is no such thing ever considered in Scripture as human autonomy and human self-sufficiency. I’m neither independent nor self-sufficient.”

It’s counter cultural to affirm and embrace weakness, but the Bible is clear that God’s grace is for the weak. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” It’s those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and acknowledge their need for God’s help who receive the Kingdom.

When I feel strong and able and accomplished, it’s easy to believe the lie that I’m autonomous and self-sufficient. And it’s easy to slip into idolatry without even realizing it–to begin worshipping my productivity and thereby begin worshipping myself. But the truth is, I am not God. I need God. I need a helper. Through Christ, God is my salvation and my help in all things, even the seemingly small tasks of this life that I so often toil and strive to accomplish in my own power and strength. And God is much more concerned with the holiness of my heart than in what I get done each day.

I know that many aspects of bearing children {or being unable to bear children or losing children or struggling with rebel children} are hard because of the fall and because of sin. But I am thankful that our sovereign and good God is able to bring beauty out of pain and difficulty and hardship. He uses seasons of weakness for good by revealing our frailty against the backdrop of His sufficient strength and abundant grace. He uses frustration with our limits to expose misdirected worship and to turn our hearts back to the only One worthy of our worship. He continues to bring life–both physical and spiritual–in spite of the curse of the sin. He uses the gift of pregnancy to teach us much about our hearts. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


And his name shall be called. . .

John Wicks Rice

Short and simple and classic, like we like ’em.

He’ll go by the double name “John Wicks.”

“Wicks” because it was Adam’s mom’s maiden name, and I have a self-made rule that at least one of the names (first or middle) must be of family origen or have some sort of sentimental significance. Plus, I like that Wicks is kind of original.

“John” because . . . well, it’s strong and masculine and biblical. It goes well with Luke and makes for a nice double name with Wicks.

It’s really hard to name a child. I’ve gone back and forth thinking of all these different scenarios like “people will call him John Rice,” which is the plainest name ever, and then he’ll have to tell them he goes by the double name or “the baseball team is going to nickname him something like ‘J-Dub’,” which . . . GAG ME NOW.

Eventually, I just had to move past all that and make a decision based on what we like  and what we want to call him. And I like it. I think it suits him already. Since we’ve actually been calling the baby by this name for some time now, we decided it was time to commit.

I haven’t blogged much about this second pregnancy. It’s honestly been such a whirlwind. With my first pregnancy I was thinking about the baby constantly and reading every bit of pregnancy literature I could get my hands on. I was so excited for my belly to finally pop out so that I could see the evidence of that precious miracle.

With my second pregnancy, I’ve been like “Oh wow, I’m seriously almost 23 weeks along? How did that happen?” or “Another day still wearing my regular jeans?!? Score!” 

Of course this doesn’t mean I love little John Wicks one tiny bit less. I’m just a little more distracted {and busy} this go-round.

During this second pregnancy, I’ve exercised less yet still gained less weight than with my first. Although this worries my dear, sweet mother a bit, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. His name is Mr. Boy. And he wears me slap out.

Mom has no need to worry, though, because I’ve grown a small cantaloupe over the last  few days. It may be because I single-handedly ate an entire carton of Nutella (or the Kroger brand equivalent) in two short days. And I’m sad to report this is not the first time this has happened in the last month.

Or it could be those fudge brownies from Great American Cookie Company at the mall. Sometimes I go to the mall to exercise walk because I consider 26 degrees to be too cold for exercising outside and we refer to the track at the seminary gym as “the blue bowl of torture” since you have to do 12 laps to make a mile, and there is absolutely NOTHING to look at in the process. It’s such a temptation for a preggo with a sweet tooth to try to exercise at the mall, though. I mean, you pass Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Godiva Chocolate store, and more. All I really want to do is buy a diet coke and some cinnamon pretzels, park myself on a bench, and enjoy. No wonder this babe is movin’ and shakin’ a lot. He’s swimming in sugar.

I joke. Well, a little bit. I usually get some exercise without succumbing to temptation, although I do indulge in the occasional fudge brownie. But hey, at least it isn’t hotdogs. The good news is that we’ve moved on from that eating phase.

Here are few bump pics for documentation. . .

John Wicks at 19 weeks

IMG_3706Luke at 17 months and John Wicks at 22 wks.

IMG_3877And here’s a fun picture that I haven’t shared yet. This was taken in early October. We had just found out dos was on the way, and all of Adam’s family happened to be together for his ordination weekend. Nonnie wanted to attempt a Christmas card picture of all the grands, and this is the absolute VERY BEST we could do between three cameras. In the middle of the COMPLETE PANDEMONIUM that is a Rice family photo shoot, Adam runs in and says…“WAIT! Someone is missing” and hands Hannah the little sign announcing our news..

DSC04982All their expressions make me laugh every. single. time. So excited that our little John Wicks is well on his way!

Boy Mom


Yesterday I found out that I’m officially a “boy mom.”

That’s right. Dos is a little BOY. And while there’s always the possibility of a girl {or girls} in the future, at least for the time-being, I am a for-real BOY mom. And I’m outnumbered three to one in my house!

This doesn’t altogether surprise me. Adam and I were both sort of expecting another little bambino. It does tickle me, though. If you knew me as a little girl, it would probably tickle you too. I was as prissy and girly as they come.

If you knew me as a child, you probably would have expected that I would one day be a mama. I loved to play house and often even pretended that I was a preacher’s wife {laugh}. I constantly had a baby doll on my hip. I even asked for a mini-van just like my mom’s {but my size} for Christmas one year. Mom informed me that she didn’t think the elves could make a child-sized mini-van. To which I knowingly retorted, the elves can make anything. Bless. The point is, I’ve always been sort of maternal.

But the majority of my dolls and imaginary children were girls. Girly girls, at that. They all had overly feminine names like Samantha, Felicity, Victoria, and Megan-Rose. And I pampered them and doted on them and treated them like delicate little angels. There wasn’t much rough-and-tumble play or little-boy shenanigans in my imaginary world.

There were, however, a few in my real world. Shrieks resonated through the condo our family had rented at the beach one summer week when I came into the upstairs bedroom to find my porcelain princess Megan-Rose strung by her neck from the blind strings. Little brother shenanigans!

Will is the one who scaled the side of the house in the middle of the night, roller-bladed down hills backward, rode on surf-boards attached by rope to moving vehicles, and amazingly, lived to tell about it. Jenny was the one who could tell you anything you wanted to know about any sport at age 10 and, better yet, could tear almost anyone up at any sport. I was scared to even play tee ball.

But they’ll probably both end up with girls. And here I am with a soon-to-be house full of boys. God seems to have a sense of humor like that.

I’m glad he knows what we need better than we do. I probably would have given myself two girls first, just like my mom had. But He knows I need two wild little Rice boys. And he gave me just the man’s-man of a husband I need to help raise them!

I never in a million years imagined just how much I would love and adore my first little Mr. Boy. It makes me so excited to fall in the love with my second.

photo (1)


Little Boy #2, we’re so glad we now know that it’s YOU. Your Doc-Doc says Mama is destined to live in world of men :). At least for now, that’s surely the truth! And I couldn’t be more excited. What a wild adventure it will be! We love you so much already!

Pregnancy. It’s funny like that.

Well, the word is out that nugget #2 is on the way!

In one way, pregnancy has been been different this go ’round. Twice the exhaustion. Or maybe I just don’t remember it with the first.

I’ve been neglecting blog-writing and reading more than I would like. I need to record Halloween, first hair-cut, etc. But nap time has overtaken blog time. And everything else time. There are days when I put Mr. Boy in his crib and literally collapse into bed until he wakes up. My house is in a constant state of CHAOS {can’t-have-anyone-over-syndrome} because my cleaning-up just can’t compete with Mr. Boy’s messing-up.

Other than that, the pregnancy has been EXACTLY the same. Same constant {but manageable}nausea. Same cravings.

There were tell-tale signs that I was preggo long before I found out.

Like the intense cheese cravings. One night, I got out of bed and ventured down for a midnight snack, which is unusual in itself. I returned to bed with a bowl of pasta covered in feta cheese. Adam was like, “What is that?!? It reeks!” My sister aptly reminded me that in my early weeks of pregnancy with Mr. Boy, I ate feta cheese right out of the carton.

You’re thinking, “no wonder you’re nauseous,” right? It gets worse.

Hot dogs. I never eat them. But during the first trimester, I CRAVE them. It’s weird, but the things that seem good to me {foods I think I can actually stomach} right now are things I care nothing about when I’m not preggo. Basically, UNHEALTHY JUNK. I recently sent my dad a text asking if I could give myself gestational diabetes from eating so unhealthy. Thankfully, he said I was a long way from that. He just encouraged fruits and veggies in addition to the hot dogs and Eggo waffles and gallons of Sprite. And I’m still doing that for the most part. Here’s the end of our text convo. If you know my dad, you’ll get a laugh. . .

Then there was that day that I got teary-eyed in the Kroger parking lot while listening to the country song If I Could have a Beer with Jesus.

Have. mercy.

At this point, I was hoping it was whacko pregnancy hormones because that is just not my normal. I don’t cry easily in songs or movies, especially ones about drinking beer with Jesus. But when he got to that line where he asks, “How’d you turn the other cheek to save a sorry soul like me? tears literally fell from my eyes. And maybe it’s not all that crazy to cry about after all. Because I often ask Jesus the same question. Amazing, unconditional, undeserved love like that is hard to understand. And it should probably draw out emotion more easily than it normally does. 

So, pregnancy. It’s funny sometimes. It’s exhausting sometimes. It’s hard. There will be pain in childbearing from the day my babies are conceived until the day I leave this earth. That’s the curse of sin. But in spite of judgment, there’s so much grace and goodness.

It seems that we picked the craziest season of our lives and said, “let’s make it even crazier and throw in another baby!” But the truth is, we didn’t pick this season or this baby {although it wasn’t a total surprise}. God did. And we know that this is God’s best for us. And it’s God’s gift to us.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward….     Psalm 127:3

Thank you, Lord, for a precious gift. Again.


(DISCLAIMER: Long, extremely detailed post of ramblings for my own remembrances).

I’m 37 weeks today (officially full-term and feeling it). So, I figured it was time to document the nursery, as this is probably the neatest it will be. EVER.

Adam and I opted to stay in our same little apartment for now (though I’ve since questioned that decision), and the transformation of our study/guest room/storage room into a nursery has pretty much been a 9 month project. It’s been fun. Well, fun for me and Mom. Not sure if Adam would agree.

I wanted something whimsical and fun for the nursery…nothing too dressy or formal. Rice boys are just not formal. I also wanted some things to be gender neutral so that we could possibly re-use them if we ever have a girl (i.e. green and white gingham curtains, rocking chair, green rug).

Here is a glance of the room from the doorway (I realize the lighting isn’t great…I’m still trying to figure out our camera). Thanks to family and friends, we were able to do this nursery pretty economically. Adam’s sister passed down the crib, changer, and glider since their last baby has moved up to a big girl furniture! Huge blessing! The curtains and paintings above the crib were a gift from my mom.

I bought this shelving unit from IKEA for my apartment in college, and it has proven to be a great investment. The large baskets were also purchased from IKEA when I bought the shelf, and I recently added the smaller baskets with lining for extra storage and to tie in with the curtains (both are from Pottery Barn Kids. You can’t tell in the pics, but the fabric is green and white gingham, like the turtle in the next picture).

The bedding is “cheerful critters,” and I got a great deal on it from PB Kids. The whole set was on final sale, so I was able to get all the pieces (bumper, dust ruffle, crib sheet, quilt, pillow, etc) for cheap, cheap! Score.

After much deliberating, we decided to leave the twin “guest” bed in the room for now. I was worried about it being too crowded, but I think we will be glad to have a place to lay down on long nights with a screaming baby or between late-night feedings. I found the blue comforter at Sears for $13.00. The massive lamb pillow was a shower gift.

The glider was a fabulous hand-me-down from the sister-in-law. I had new slip covers made for the cushions in this yellow and white stripe with blue and white polka-dotted piping. Fabric came from Joann’s Fabrics. One of my mom’s friends in Jackson did a fabulous job sewing the slip covers.

The wooden alligator was Luke’s first souvenir from Nicaragua, courtesy of Doc and J-J (my parents). Mom thought it appropriate since it went with the “critters” theme :). The distressed, green wooden signs were a fun find from a gift shop at Rosemary Beach this summer.

Yellow bubble suit was Adam’s as a baby. The precious little shoes were Adam’s dad’s. So special. Thanks to my sweet MIL for passing them along to us.
I just had to document my favorite cubby in the shelving unit. I’m so looking forward to reading many-a-story to our little Lukester.

And finally, the changer. The precious painting above it was done by my friend Christy. She painted two other canvases that are hanging above each closet door (see previous post). The white storage thingy (not sure what the correct name for it might be) is another past IKEA purchase. It makes a handy little diaper holder. And the fabric storage bins on the changer shelves are from Babies R Us.

So, there’s the nursery…ready and waiting for baby boy to make his debut. Props to those of you who made it to the end of this post :).

Showered Again

Goodness, we’ve been blessed! My sweet Louisville friends put together such a special baby shower for Luke and me. Everything was just perfect.

My friend Christy painted these precious canvases.
They are now hanging in the nursery (and, p.s., that cheese ball was fine).
 Many sweet prayers were written.
Very special.
and friends
I only regret that I neglected to get a picture with the hostesses, four of my dearest friends! They were so sweet to do this for me.

Lord, thank you for good food, sweet friends, and provision for our baby boy. You are so faithful and kind.

Times of Change

These really are times of change for the Rice’s. In keeping with this theme, I decided it was time for a blog change. Actually, Adam just convinced me that WordPress is easier to manage for the “not so blogger savvy.” We’ll see.

In preparing for the arrival of our little bundle, we bought a new camera. Sony NEX 3. This is supposed to be somewhat of a more “user-friendly” Digital-SLR. Adam’s been playing with it a lot, figuring it all out, and trying his hand at what I like to call “artsy” photos. I’ve gotten so big that I’m sort of over the preggo pics, but I’ve been his only human subject to photograph. So, why not document the largeness?

34 Weeks…and a little sneak peek of the nursery (a nursery post will come eventually).

Had an ultrasound today, and baby boy weighs 5 lbs, 6 oz! Sounds really big to me (since I have 6 weeks left), but ultrasound tech said it was just above average.

Adam’s parents are coming tomorrow for a visit. Yay for family! So, a non-baby-related post may be in my future. I apologize for baby overload, but that’s the big thing going on with us right now! Until next time…