5 ways to be a world-changing father.

I am lucky enough to have grown up with a great father. One that loves me well, that reminded me how proud he was of me all of the time, and reminded me also that I was beautiful while growing up. Because of him, I'm a better, more confident person today. And he still loves me the same, even though I'm 27 years old and no longer living under his roof. So when Nick and I became parents this past fall, the bar was set high. I wasn't ever really comparing Nick to my dad as our little daughter came into our life, but I can't pretend that the image of a hard working dad that always made time to play with his kids and affirm them wasn't in my head as what I wanted for my child, too.

When Gemma came into the world, father became a new part of Nick's identity instantaneously. The few weeks leading up to her arrival, we anticipated her every minute, and I could tell Nick was going to be the best dad, but he exceeded my expectations immediately as I watched his heart melt into a puddle the first moments he held her, the way he cried with me when she got a shot in the hospital, and the way he adored her completely. It was evident that he was wrapped around her finger, and that only grew.

As we learned to be parents, in all of the hard, sleepless times and the joyful moments, I watched the man that I thought I new well turn into someone different, someone softer, and someone with a new focus.

Let me explain. My husband is a person with passions. He is a leader. He does a lot of things, and he does whatever he can to do them all well. He has spent a lot of his time and effort over the past few years on coaching and teaching, and that meant a lot of time out of the home. Don't get me wrong, we spent endless amounts of time together- but he was motivated to grow as a professional, (which no doubt is a great quality) and I figured that would always be the case.

Slowly, over time, Nick's goals shifted. He has done everything he can over the past few months to do what is best for us, his girls, and he has succeeded. And his new focus is, most of all, to be home with his family.

I can't explain how much that means to me and how rare I feel this is. His choices and diligence in loving Gemma and me reminds me daily how lucky we are to have him. It might sound dramatic, but I believe the love he has for Gemma and me is a love that will change the world...and I'll explain that in a minute.

So because I know I've got a gem of a man as my husband and as the dad for our baby girl, here are a few things I have observed that I figured I'd share with new dads, dads in general, and families this father's day.

If you're wondering how to be a dad (or a parent in general) that changes the world, here's what I've observed in Nick, and he's pretty much already an expert:

1. Don't act tough. Show emotions. Feel all the things. Let the great big love of parenthood soften your heart in a way that nothing else can. Don't fight it. A man that can show emotions raises kids that know it's okay to do the same.

2. Actually be tough. Sleepless nights. A really anxious, postpartum wife. Nights of a screaming baby that can't be soothed. Big decisions to be made about pretty much everything. Being a new dad can be tough- so do it and do it well. And encourage the new mom- she needs it.

3. Spend endless amounts of time playing, tickling, and kissing your new baby. Don't act like other things are more important- they aren't. This time is precious and you'll regret it if you miss it.

4. Do everything you can to do what is best for your family. Even if it means deciding to move across states without any certain jobs. And make all of the necessary steps to secure a job and provide for your family. Pray a lot, too.

5. Love your family by spending more time with them. Don't put work, hobbies, or anything else before them. Be careful about how much time you're spending out of the home.

I've watched Nick re evaluate how he spends his time, define his values, and pursue becoming the best father and husband possible this past year. He has taken huge leaps of faith, and God has provided big time through his diligence and obedience. He's driven back and forth across states for interviews countless times over the span of one month. And he's secured an amazing teaching job.

But most of all, he has showed his love for his family over and over by deciding to say no to things that he loves, because he loves his family more. That doesn't mean he is throwing away passions, but instead being faithful to his most important commitment, and fitting his passions in where they fit best.

I know it's common for men to want to make a difference, climb the ladder, and be faithful to commitments outside of the home so much that their commitments at home fall to the wayside. I think the key to making a difference and changing the world is to make sure the commitments at home come first, always. And I'm so thankful I have a husband who does that.

I know I'm so lucky to have him, and Gemma is, too. Happy Father's Day to an amazing husband and a fantastic father!

"If you want to change the world, go home and love your family."

Lessons Learned from Living with my Nana

This past month, my nana stayed with us to take care of Gemma as I started back to work. Before she came, I was already thankful. I knew I wouldn't be able to easily transition back to work after maternity leave, and leaving my baby with a stranger was going to make it so much harder. Thankfully, my Nana came to my rescue. Lessons Learned from Living with my Nana

I have a special relationship with my Nana. I'm her first grandchild and she took care of me a lot as a baby when my mom was sick. We have a bond, and I just love being around her. But let's face it, all of her grandchildren feel that way about her. She is an amazing lady.

I think when the average person thinks of a family member, even a close one, staying with them for a month, there might be a little bit of anxiety involved. But I can honestly say that this past month as my Nana stayed with us was one of the best months for me so far as a parent. Not only did Nick and I get to have extra hands around the house to take care of Gemma or to do all. of. our. laundry. (for real, every last piece), but I learned so much from her and gained new perspective as a mom. An extremely valuable perspective that comes from a different generation.

Many millennials might brush off the advice of a grandmother, but I have always valued my Nana's advice. She is wise in so many ways, and the lessons I learned from her in this past month will stick with me. Some of the most important ones;

-Take care of your loved ones through serving. While my Nana was here, never did I wake up to a dirty dish in the sink. A lot of people have tidy habits, but I'm not one of them. My nana is. She doesn't wait for a pile of laundry to build up before she gets it done. She just does it. She cleans the stove immediately after she cooks and just gets the dishes cleaned up right after dinner. Though this takes time, in the end, it saves time, and a tidy kitchen is never a bad thing.

What it comes down to is that she is anything but lazy. She's always doing something, and it sometimes makes me tired just to watch her. But the reason behind it is she is taking care of the people around her, and that really seems to give her energy. Or at least, the desire to take care of the people she loves trumps her desire to relax.

I know the idea of the housewife is outdated, but it's not about cooking and cleaning or the woman of the house being the only one that does it. In her own home, my nana isn't the only one that cooks and cleans. The idea is that through watching my Nana and benefiting from her love of serving the ones she loves, I've learned that the mundane tasks have purpose, as they are an act of love and service for the people you care for. The art of service in this way has been greatly lost on my generation, I think, and I'm thankful I got to see this lost art in action through my Nana.

If you want something done, do it. I have a real habit of procrastination. My Nana is the opposite. From getting a package shipped out to fixing broken drawers to organizing a closet, if she wants to get something done, she just does it. She doesn't wait til the perfect, opportune time like I sometimes like to think I'm doing (really, I'm just pushing it off). It makes me wonder if procrastination is really a generational problem. Either way, even if it is hard to kill my procrastination habit, I admire my Nana's ability to just get something done as soon as she thinks about it. Also, she knows how to do just about anything to get whatever it is that needs to be done, done. I'm pretty certain I haven't inherited that skill, but I feel blessed that I can learn from her.

-Listen to people. My Nana has a lot of advice, and good advice at that. She has stories to tell and I absolutely love listening to them. It seems she has a story to go with any lesson. This is something I love so much about her, and it is part of a reason why people gravitate towards her. However, I think the main reason people want to be around her is because she listens. She listens and a lot of times, she gets it. I have been going through a certain struggle the entire time she stayed with us, and she is one of the only people that I could talk to about it, especially at first, that I felt truly heard by.

Even if she doesn't agree with a person, she listens to them. Because of that, she has so many friends and family members that bug her literally all the time. I'm surprised she isn't constantly overwhelmed by the amount of people that need her or want her thoughts or opinions on things. The way she listens makes everyone she comes into contact with feel truly cared for.

-Parenthood is a gift, and it doesn't need to be stressful (not always, at least.) This is probably the most important thing I've learned from my Nana since Gemma was born. Anytime I've called stressed about an inconsolable baby, a fussy baby, or just anything Gemma is doing that makes my life a little harder, she always responds with a "that's okay..." explanation followed by "she's just growing, she's learning something new, etc." Over this past month, I've learned to find even Gemma's screaming matches less than stressful as I watched my nana laugh at such ornery baby behaviors versus freaking out about them.

Sure, being a mom is tiring. Sometimes I don't get to eat when I want to, or finish a hot cup of coffee ever. This is what I signed up for, though. The amount of complaining that goes on in mom culture these days is more than half of the reason I was afraid of having children. I'm not judging by any means; I've been a part of that complaining as much as any other new mom (or veteran mom). But watching my Nana and learning from her, I've realized it shouldn't be this way. Having a positive outlook and just finding joy in the hard things and always thinking of Gemma as a gift are my new goals, thanks to my Nana.

Maybe she's always been this way, or maybe she's learned it after years and years of being a mom & grandparent. Either way, I'm not saying I'll never complain about the tough parts of being a parent. But I do hope to be a little more like her and find joy and perseverance in the hard parts of parenting.

These are only three of the several things I observed in my nana for the month she lived with us. I also learned smaller, more specific things about how to be a good mom. Or little cleaning tricks that I'll follow from now on. Whether it was a small lesson or a big one, I'm forever grateful for the days I got to observe her in her daily habits.

There is just something special about learning from your grandmother, and I value everything she has taught me.

My Nana left today to go back home, and the rest of her grandchildren are overly excited to see her. Though I know we'll all go back to surviving without Nana over here, I really wish I could have her here longer. I'm forever thankful for the memories we made and all the fun things she taught Gemma while she was here. We really did nothing special and basically stayed in the entire time she was here, but it was just so special in itself to have her here for such a long time. I love how much Gemma grew to love her in this month, too.

Now I have to figure out how to do my own laundry and cook meals again without her. But I'll hope to do both of these tasks with more joy than I did before, as I learned that there is joy in serving from one of the most amazing women I know.

Thank you, Nana, for a month of valuable lessons I will never forget.