2016: An Update

I started this blog in 2011, at 21-years-old, the day before I married my adoring and kind-hearted husband.

Our family, May 2015

I invested my heart and soul in the words written on This Rookie Wife. First, as a new wife. Then, as a new mother. I documented my journey into adulthood, fresh-faced and honest.

Today I am a 26-year-old journalist and freelance writer, more in love than ever before to my adoring husband. The brand new baby whose arrival into this world is carefully documented here is now 4-years-old, and about to start school next month.

This Rookie Wife is missing an essential character to our story: our younger daughter, Georgia. She was born after I ended my time writing here.

A lot has changed in our lives since I last hit publish, from new jobs, to a few different moves, and an addition to our family. I decided to make this blog public after taking it down for awhile, because I know that writing here helped me in so many ways. It helped to form the woman I am today, and acted as a companion to me in my early years of motherhood and marriage.

Without the stories written, and the time spent writing on this platform, I would have never honed my writing craft. I would have never thought to step out in faith, and become a professional writer. At the time of writing this blog, I couldn't imagine that possibility. 

The main reason I have kept these words in cyberspace is not because I believe the general public will read them. Rather, it's because I hope my daughters will one day spend some time perusing This Rookie Wife. I hope it acts as a digital scrapbook, a peak into my heart and mind as a young woman of faith. 

I didn't always get it right on here. In fact, there's some cringe worthy blog posts that are still active. I have deleted some of the really awful ones. But, I want to preserve this time in my life. The good and the bad.

Thanks for reading this far. I really did love being This Rookie Wife, and will always be fond of the people I met through this medium. 

Brianna Bell
Journalist, Essayist, Published Author
Find my work in The Globe & Mail, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and GuelphToday.com


to the harried mother

this letter is to the harried mother in all of us.

the one who scrubs, and washes, and folds, and tidies.
forgetting to even take a breath between the sheets and the dishes and the dirty kitchen sink.

the one who smooths fly-away hair and brushes tears and kisses bruised knees.
the mother, whose own tears remain hidden, locked behind a bathroom door in a stolen, quiet moment.

the one who wakes up before the day begins, and while the rest of the world dreams sweet dreams.
she grab a coffee and says a quiet prayer, and perhaps, opens the Good Book, hoping the words will remain in her heart for the day.

the woman who smiles and laughs and holds her head up high.
even when some days, her spirit feels low.

dear harried, hurried woman, I ask you one more thing.

please stop for a moment and breath between the sheets and the dishes and the dirty kitchen sink.
look at your child who smirks beneath those long, soaring eyelashes, you know, those ones she got from her father?

stop for a second while your child jumps and squeals and laughs, playing happily on her own.
watch the beauty unfold before you. the simplicity of a deep belly laugh, and allow yourself to release your own.

stop for a moment, lift up your feet. pick up that Good Book and let those words penetrate deep.
let the coffee swirl around your tongue as you drink.

finally, harried woman. please slow down. because before you know it, there will be no small children to rush around.

"He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord." Psalm 113: 9


Christmas 2012

I hope you enjoyed Christmas! It's crazy how much anticipation the day brings, and how quickly it's all over.

We had a great, but very busy day. Next year we'll likely do things quite differently (a lot less travelling and visiting on the actual day), but we're happy with how the day turned out. It was a lot for Pen though, and she's been battling a fever and sleeping most of the day.

Here are some pictures from our day!

1. Pen reading a book I bought her, An Awesome Book!
2. Pen and I drinking out of my ASK pottery mug!
3. Daniel excited about his new Philips Razor
4. A brief nap between visits in the car

Pen shortly after waking up

me, savagely eating some left over turkey at my in-laws
my second turkey of the day!

I kind of failed at the picture taking. Pen hates when the flash goes off so we only used Dan's iphone, and I totally forgot to get a picture of her in her adorable Christmas outfit. Oh well!

How was your Christmas?


Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

Christmas is a time for thankfulness, joy, giving, forgiveness, kindness, and love. Christmas is a time where we gather around our friends and family and find comfort in being with our loved ones.

We sing special songs. We bake special treats. We stuff ourselves with coma-inducing turkey. We give precious gifts, some costing a fortune, and others costing nothing but our time and our love (those are the best ones!) We put up trees and holly and string popcorn and even sometimes blindingly tacky lights. 

Christmas is a day that we all anticipate. Each day, we count down until that one special day. Christmas.

Tomorrow I pray that amid the joy, gratitude, kindness, and generosity, you remember one thing. Remember to receive. Receive the love of Christ, the gift of God's son, and the forgiveness that he offers. Christmas is not just a day for perfectly wrapped presents and deliciously moist turkey. Christmas is a day where we remember, honour, and give glory to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. It's a day where we celebrate the greatest gift, given to all mankind. A perfect baby, who would grow to be a perfect man, and die the most gruesome death, a gift for us all. 

I pray the Christmas spirits lasts year round. That our daily lives would be to give glory to Jesus, and never forget to receive his grace and love. 


Christmas at the Bell Home

All my favourite blogs are busy writing about Christmas, and I realize I haven't really talked much about how we're celebrating the holidays. My plan was to write weekly on what I'm learning through Advent, but I haven't been too diligent with that. I must admit, I was doing really well with meditating on scripture and digging deep over Christmas until the Sandy Hook tragedy. It's really knocked me off the rails and I'm struggling to do...everything.

So here are some things we DIDN'T do this year

>> send a Christmas card. We never do this. I admire people who send Christmas cards, especially ones with their beautiful family. Thank you everybody who sent us a card. Our bad that we didn't send you one back.
>> bake. My mom baked in my kitchen while I laid on the couch (because I was sick!) But seriously, I have zero desire to bake this year.
>> advent calendar. Remember how I was so excited about the Advent Calendar I made? We have seriously done like four of the "tasks" on the advent calendar, so that was kind of a flop. In future years I would focus on things like reading scripture and sharing your gratitude with your family, rather than things like having a picnic by the tree and baking cookies for your neighbours.
>> pushing santa. Pen is seven-months-old, so we are clearly very far away from having to talk about Santa in our home. We did a Santa picture, but other then that we haven't talked at all about Santa in our home or to our daughter. My friend Emily wrote a great blog, which basically covers how we also feel about Santa.

Penelope and Santa. I was pretty surprised she wasn't freaking out.

Here's what we have been doing for Christmas

>> singing lots. We love music, which is hilarious because neither Daniel or I can sing, at all. Daniel has discovered some amazing Christmas CD's, and we've spent most of this month singing Christ-centered songs.
>> drinking mulled wine. I really, really wanted to try mulled wine. So, I tried it. It was alright.
>> reading lots. I've really enjoyed reading the Gospel of John, as well as the Gospel accounts of Christ's birth. I've spent a ton of time this month reading different Christmas books, and other books just for fun. It's been a great way for me to just relax and rest during this busy season.
>> shouting JOY TO THE WORLD! For the past two years Daniel and I have opened up the door and shouted JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME, as soon as we wake up Christmas morning. The first year we were engaged and Daniel spent the morning at my house, and last year we had a baby in my belly. This year, we'll be spreading the joy with Penelope in our arms, and perhaps in 2013, Pen will be shouting right along with us!
>> spending time with family. We're spending lots of time with family, whether it be our spiritual family at Compass Point, or our Bell-Zerafa family. On Christmas Day we will be going to my Grandparents home and Daniel's parents. It's bound to be a full day! We still haven't decided WHEN we'll start celebrating Christmas at home, with just the two of us and our kids, but this year is not the year!
>> being thankful. Finally, the biggest thing we're doing this year is being thankful. For the gift of family and having each other. for our daughter and the beauty and wonder she brings to our life. for our home and all of the ways we have been provided for this past year. most importantly, for our Lord. For his humility, for his grace, for the joy he gives us each day.

Our First Christmas, Dating (2009)

Our Second Christmas, Engaged (2010)

Our Third Christmas, Married (2011)
...and both with child

How are YOU spending Christmas this year? What are some things you've skipped this year?


The Truth About Motherhood

the winner of my final giveaway is Brooke! 
email me at thisrookiewife@gmail.com!

For most of my life I have fantasized about motherhood. I’ve dreamed about all the firsts: the first time I’d lay eyes on my child, the first time I’d breastfeed, the first time I’d see my baby smile. I dreamed about baking cookies and going for walks and dancing in the rain.

My life has been spent building up this imagery of motherhood and the joys and triumphs that I’d experience devoting my life to my children.

I’ve been a mother for seven months, and although I haven’t baked cookies or danced in the rain with Penelope, I have experienced a lot of firsts.

Like the first time my daughter was laid on my chest. It was many agonizing minutes after she was born. I was the last person in the room to see my baby girl, after my midwives, my mom, and my husband. It was after my heart felt like it was being ripped from my chest as I listened to nothingness. 

No crying she made. 

I remember that first so clearly, her pale skin with a tinge of blue, her weak cry clouded with water in her lungs. I remember being confused and weary, and eventually, relieved. I remember praising the Lord for another miracle. I remember berating myself for eating too many donuts. Perhaps she wouldn’t have been so huge if I hadn’t eaten so many donuts, and she would have been laid on my chest sooner.

These seven months I’ve experienced the joys and triumphs of motherhood. But, I’ve also experienced the pain and struggle and loneliness. The truth is, motherhood isn’t as glamourous as I had imagined. 

There is little glamour when you're scraping sticky poop into a toilet. Or folding the hundredth load of laundry. Or scrubbing dried up banana off the couch. 

Motherhood is not the fantasy that I built up in my mind. It’s not constant laughter, or bliss. Motherhood is sacrifice. Motherhood is determination and perseverance. Motherhood is unconditional love. Motherhood is pure devotion. It is never easy. 

Being a mother to my daughter is not what I expected. The challenges are greater than I'd ever imagined, but so are the rewards. Nobody can describe to you those lonely moments, those desperate moments, those sleepless nights. Neither can words describe the first time your baby smiles at you. The joy that I have experienced hearing my daughter laugh, watching her reach for a toy, seeing her gaze into my face, this joy was unimaginable before becoming a mother.

Seven months ago, I experienced a moment that felt like an eternity. A moment where motherhood was nearly snatched from my fingertips. I will never, ever forget that moment. The silence. The unimaginable horror.

And then, there she was. Full of life and love and hope for a future. 

The truth about being a mom is that it is messy and it is scary. It's also a great blessing, a great reward, and a great way to spend your time and your energy. Each morning I wake up to my daughter, and no it's not all kittens and butterflies, it is hard work. But, I wouldn't want to do anything other than spend my days teaching my daughter about integrity, life, love, and sacrifice. 

The Lord laid down his life for a wretch like me, so the least I can do is lay down my life for my beautiful family. In the end, that's what motherhood is all about.


Advent Reflections {Week 1}

{I'm being featured on Beautifully Rooted today!
Blessed and honoured to have my story on this wonderful site.}

There is a lot of talk about Advent on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Pinterest right now. Some people are wondering why Advent has become such a big deal, and others have never really heard of it until now.

I think it's wonderful that many people are hearing about Advent or being encouraged to start an Advent tradition because of these social media networks. Of course, if Advent is just another way that we're trying to keep up with the Joneses, we have lost the entire meaning of Christmas and the hope and anticipation that Advent brings. For me, this is not the case. I have always known about Advent, but have never participated, and this year my husband and I are jumping on the Advent train in a big, big way.

Here are some ways that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, anticipating his "birthday", and remembering and reflecting on what it all means.

>> trying out best to keep up with my DIY advent calendar, and giving ourselves grace when we skip a day, or two.
>> we just started reading Good News of Great Joy, available free from Desiring God.
>> I've read and meditated on both Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ, and have now started reading the Gospel of John for this month.
>> I'm also reading an amazing book called Christmas Stories for the Heart compiled by Alice Gray. It includes stories by Max Lucado, Chuck Swindoll, Ruth Graham, James & Shirley Dobson, etc. I'd recommend looking for this at your library, it's like a way cooler Christmas version of Chicken Soup.
>> We are listening to Christian Christmas music most of the time, and really enjoying feeling the Holy Spirit stirring in our heart as we belt out "Joy To The World, The Lord Has Come!"
>> We are also hoping to start some Christmas traditions as a family. This year Daniel and I are going to see Handel's Messiah in Toronto, and will hopefully be able to continue going every few years (it's expensive, so likely not a yearly event!)

I know that is a long list, but I know personally that if I don't surround myself with the beauty of Christmas and what Christ's birth represents, my heart and mind will become polluted with what the world is telling me the "Holidays" are about. I'll become greedy and selfish and anxious, and I really want my first Christmas as a mother to be something that I can cherish for years to come, and not regret because I got lost in greed.

Check back next week for more specifics on what I'm learning!

How about you? How are you anticipating and preparing your heart for Christmas?

ps: thanks to my hubby Daniel for creating the images in this post for me! love you!

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