Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Created to be His is moving!

For several weeks, I have been working hard on my book about purity. I have been going back through old journals and emails and putting my whole heart on paper. It is strange that in doing that, it led me to finally do what has been brewing under the surface of my blogging heart for a while.

Created to be His is a beautiful name but where I'm at in my life right now calls for more. And my "more" is the new name for the new blog - where JOY is. Satan is the destroyer of joy. He steals our reason to do as David did and sing songs of praise, even in the midst of emotional hurt or physical pain. If he cannot have our souls, then he will try to devour our happiness and push us lower and lower into a pitiful mess of gloom. But I say, as David did, restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation!

Looking around at what we have become, even in the Church, I am burdened for myself and my fellow sisters. We have lost our joy!

Single women have no joy in waiting on the Lord's timing for romance.

Married women have no joy in serving and loving their husbands.

Mothers have no joy in investing their lives in raising and discipling their children.

Homemakers have no joy in keeping their home and making it a sanctuary for their family.

Believe me, even in the middle of long days, exhausting nights, and seasons of waiting patiently impatiently for God to move, there is joy. Though I am struggling with you, because the Bible tells us so, I KNOW we have plenty of reasons to sing, dance, shout, and rejoice in who God created us to be. And I choose joy.

So join me over at where JOY is and walk with me as the Lord teaches me how to be full-to-the-brim of His joy and how to offer that joy to the lost world in need.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

When God Decides to Stretch You

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I have not posted in over a month. And there is a good reason for that. We have moved! That's right. And any of you that has ever moved before can attest to the exhaustion and overwhelming emotions that come with packing up a home and leaving. While in the process of packing and leaving, I have also had a great deal of time in the still hours of the night, while feeding my baby, to think and meditate on all the things God uses in life to strengthen our spiritual muscles. To be honest, I have been ashamed of myself at how quickly and easily out of shape my spiritual life can become.

The day we came home from the hospital, our newest little bundle of joy in our arms, an offer was made on our home.

The.day.we.came.home.

My husband and I have prayed about building a home for nearly two years. Our little mobile house had become home for us, but we both wanted a more secure place out in the country. We want our kids to live like we grew up - playing outside with the nearest blacktop a couple of miles away. After praying, we decided to put our little place up for sale. If it sold, we would begin building. If not, we would stay put until God moved us. Apparently, after having a "for sale" sign in our yard for over a year, the day had come.

I should have been thrilled when, after being home less than an hour, we learned our house had sold. Instead I felt a panic. God! I screamed in my head. We just got home! I'm exhausted. I have a new baby AND a toddler. And now I'm supposed to pack up and say goodbye to this cozy little place in a little over one month?!? I don't have it in me, Lord. It's not fair! Why?!?!


STRETCH.

We began looking at where we would stay while our house was being built. We wanted to save as much as possible but we also wanted to be in a place convenient for my husband's job, our Church, and to allow us time as a family. In an answer to prayer, we were invited to stay with my husband's family for the few months it would take to build our home.

STRETCH

Now I will say that I am immensely blessed to have wonderful in-laws who have taken me in as their own. They are such a blessing to me. But in my mind, though I was grateful, all I could think about was my home....my "space"....my routine....my privacy....my comfort.

(See a pattern?)

I knew it wouldn't be easy moving into someone else's home. It wasn't going to be a piece of cake in trying to settle myself and my kids in a spot that wasn't "ours." Nothing was going to be simple and comfortable. It was going to take adjusting. It was going to stretch me. No doubt, there would be days when my human nature was going to want to snap.

STRETCH

Have you had a season in your life where you were comfortable? You know what I mean. You and the Lord are walking along, enjoying the smell of the roses. No heavy rain, just sunshine. No fork in the road, just a straight path that goes neither uphill nor downhill.

It's good. It's easy. It's comfortable.

And sometimes, that is okay! Psalm 23 is an all-too-familiar passage that gives us a picture of comfort. Our Shepherd is leading us through green pastures and still waters. No rough waves to topple us or barren deserts to leave us dry. He is restoring and blessing. There are seasons when the Lord fills our cup with beauty, and moments where our hearts and our minds are at ease. But all too easily, Satan can steal those moments and make it all about our own comfort instead of basking in the sweetness of His presence. It becomes more about us and how much we want to stay walking pleasantly along our simple, easy path. God intends it for rejuvenation and intimacy. Satan uses it to breed selfishness. Then when the Lord leads us to an ascent that calls for muscle, stamina, and grit, we moan and complain and have a pity party.

....or maybe that's just me.

Since moving in with my in-laws, I have been reminded of the wonderful grace of God. It seems as though I have been learning lessons on His grace for months now. The transition for me and my children has been unbelievably easy and peaceful and I have been reminded of my shortcomings once again. I was afraid, but why fear when I am ever accompanied by His presence? I was comfortable, but why sink into the muck of ease when there is an opportunity to grow and see the strength of God at work? 

Though my flesh prefers the comfortable path, may my spirit ever live to be stretched (and stretched often!) to remind me of the bigger picture; of the higher purpose; and that in being stretched, I can see the power of Jesus in my life.

Psalm 23:6
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Are You Tired, Mom?

I am writing this post as a sleep deprived mother.

I have a toddler that wants my attention and a newborn that demands my attention. I have a husband who deserves my attention and a home that, um, needs my attention as of late. I have numerous projects and ministry endeavors on the table too.

I'm exhausted.

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In the last five weeks, I have experienced the usual - feedings every two hours (or less!), an endless array of diapers, baby baths, infant spit up, and crying. A lot of crying. Sometimes more like wailing.

Long days and short nights.

Oh, I'm tired....Any of you mothers relate? :)

Every season in life brings its own bundle of lessons. This season I am learning a big one:  Joy

I am tired. Really tired. But I want to display joy. That's not easy when sometimes often I just want to have a big meltdown and run away. When my 23 month old throws a tantrum - again - I don't want to snap and lose my head. When I hear the unmistakable noise of a newborn waking when I'm almost asleep, I do not want to get angry. When my husband comes home after a hard day, I don't want to be impatient or selfish. I want to be joyful; gentle; thankful.

I can't do it alone. That much is for certain. But I CAN do it with the help of Christ

Psalms 28:7 says, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him."

I have grown to love that verse over the last few weeks.

In the midnight hours where my body is screaming for rest, I can take comfort that the Lord is my resting place. In the moments when all I want is a peaceful, quiet hour, I can be thankful that I have little ones to disrupt the silence. I can rejoice that although life is sometimes crazy and hard, it is a wonderful gift from God.

His Word says I can do all things through His strength. He says that His grace and His strength in made perfect in my weakness. That's a beautiful promise! In feeding, nurturing, training, and loving my kids, His power is mine if I claim it. In loving, serving, and helping my husband, His abilities are mine if I allow Him to work through me. In caring for and managing my home, His joy is offered to me.

That's a good Word, isn't it?

Am I tired? Oh yes. But I cannot find a better reason to be tired, can you?


Friday, March 8, 2013

Increasing Your Milk Supply

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A few days ago I mentioned in a post that I could not nurse my first child like I wanted to. So, this time around I made it a point to do all I could to be able to nurse my baby girl. With my first, I assumed I would be able to nurse easily but I learned quick that it is a learned process. It's not an effortless art to everyone. So this time, I set my mind to it, I prayed, and then I turned to the God-given foods and herbs within arm's reach to help me out.

There are lots of things people say to do. For example:

  • Nurse often. In the first few weeks especially, your baby will need to suck often. As hard as it is on your body (and your sanity!), you need to let them nurse as much as they want. Why? The more your little one nurses, the more milk you will produce. From one who is less than four weeks in, I will tell you that the days are long and the nights are hard. Sometimes you may feel like all you do is feed your baby, but it will pass. ---and I say this to encourage myself too.
       
  • Eat and eat healthy. Breastfeeding moms need an extra 500 calories on top of the 1800-2000 calories they operate on a day. It's been said that if your body is making milk, it is the equivalent of running a marathon! So...we need sustenance. If you're hungry, EAT. And though you can indulge in a milkshake and Dove chocolate, it's important to eat as healthy as possible. Whatever you eat, baby eats.
       
  • Pump. Invest in a good pump. Preferably a double electric pump. If you pump after your baby nurses, it will send messages telling your body to produce more. Plus, as you make more milk, you will be able to store it which will allow others to feed your baby and give you a break. Double win. :)
       
If you're like me when I had my first, those three things may not be enough. So here are a few more ways to boost your milk supply.
  • Mother's Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals is something I purchased right before my baby girl was born. It is a sweet and spicy, slightly bitter-tasting tea that is full of herbs like fennel and coriander.  Personally, I'm not fond of the taste and so I add honey and lemon to it. But it's worth it and it may be tasty to you.
      
  • As I posted the other day, Lactation cookies are a delicious way to boost your milk supply. Courtesy of Pinterest, and tasty as all get out, these cookies are AH-MAZE-ING.
      
  • If you read my post on pregnancy supplements, you will remember my singing the praises of Red Raspberry Leaves. Along with providing relief for women who have painful or heavy periods, and strengthening the uterus and prepping the body for childbirth, Red Raspberry Leaves also aid in milk supply.
         
  • Fenugreek capsules is something I tried after my first was born but I think I was too far gone by that time and I gave up. This time, I began taking Fenugreek immediately after my baby girl was born and slowly increased the dosage. Many women claim to see a significant increase in their milk production in the first 24-72 hours!
There is much more you can look into and try. Oatmeal, Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa, papaya, Flax, water, spinach, carrots, Hummus, apricots - there are lots of foods and herbal supplements available that will help us, lactating mothers, produce more! Happy lactating! :)


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Postpartum Belly Wrapping

Have you heard of postpartum belly wrapping?? When my oldest was around five months old, I learned about belly binding and was surprised to learn about its history. It's fairly uncommon here in America but the benefits are wonderful! The concept behind belly wrapping is to support the muscles and the skin of a woman's midsection after delivery. If you are a mommy, you know all too well how loose everything is after giving birth. Your body has undergone a massive ordeal and, in the six weeks after delivery, your organs are slowly working to get back into place. And, of course, you have extra skin on your tummy from stretching to accommodate your little darling. Some well-meaning women may tell you that your belly (and body!) will be ruined after having a child. That's not a happy thought...  and thankfully it doesn't have to be true.

Here is a little history:

"For centuries, Japanese mothers have used their “Sarashi” to speed up weight loss and toning of the abdominal muscles and skin after childbirth, while Hispanic mommies believe their “faja” helps bring all the muscles used in the birthing process back together again. No matter what she calls it, women in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Latin America, Mexico, Spain, England, and the Philippines have benefited from using an abdominal compression wrap after childbirth."

In cultures like those mentioned above, it is actually considered cruel NOT to bind your belly. After reading about the ancient art of belly binding, I decided I would give it a try this time around. To be honest, I am very skeptical of things like this but I've been pleasantly surprised.

After tons of research and reading lots of reviews, I decided to try the 9" Three Panel-Elastic Abdominal Binder & Waist Trimmer. It can be overwhelming when you see the many styles and prices out there, but be encouraged that you CAN find a good wrap at a decent price! Some are very expensive! Like I said, I'm skeptical of things like this and I didn't want to spend a lot of money only to be disappointed, so I chose an inexpensive wrap that had good reviews and hoped for the best. May I just say that if the Lord gives us more children, I will ALWAYS wrap my belly after delivery!! I have loved it.

So what are the benefits of belly wrapping?

  • It helps restore organs and muscles to their original positions.
  • It reduces the appearance of the belly quicker.
  • It lessons the likelihood of postpartum depression.
  • It helps stabilize a woman's mood.
  • It eases the transition of becoming un-pregnant.
  • It supports post-birth digestion.
  • It offers gentle support of the back and stomach.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

36 hours postpartum without the wrap

36 hours postpartum with the wrap

With my first, I dropped 20 lbs within the first month, but the last 15 lbs I could.not.lose. This time, at two weeks postpartum, I am five pounds away from my pre-second-pregnancy weight! --I still have a few more to get back to my pre-FIRST-pregnancy weight. I contribute the weight loss this time to 1) breastfeeding and 2) wrapping my tummy. The wrap has given my back and my abdomen a lot of support and has made me feel extremely less "loose!" In fact, though I still have some flabby skin, my tummy is a lot firmer this time around. I put the wrap on for the first time 36 hours after giving birth. Some say to keep it on 24/7 with the exception of bathing. I, however, do not wear it all day, every day. And I do not sleep in it. It is comfortable, though sometimes it rides up and I have to readjust. So I give myself a break in the evenings. But I have been so very pleased with my purchase.

If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it!

2 weeks postpartum (with the wrap)



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lactation Cookies


Pinterest deserves my profound gratitude. I discovered this wonderful recipe a few months before baby girl made her appearance and I made the decision immediately that I would try them out.

With my first child, I couldn't nurse like I wanted to. So I gave up and we went to formula. This time around, I resolved to do everything I could think of to prepare for breastfeeding and to boost my supply. And out of all the things I have done, this is my favorite! ---though that's probably because I am a sucker for a chocolate chip cookie! So for all of you mommies-of-babies out there, here is a delicious recipe for some mouth-watering lactation goodness! Oh and if you are not pregnant, don't worry, this won't make you produce milk. My husband eats them too! ;)


Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. peanut butter (organic peanut butter is best)
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. ground flax seed
3 T brewer’s yeast (can be found online or at your local healthfood store)
1/3 c. water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. chocolate chips (organic chips are recommended but I didn't have any on hand)
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I left mine out)

Directions:
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy. Mix in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Slowly mix in oats. Place Tbsp.-sized balls of dough onto greased cookie sheets. Press down each ball lightly with a fork. Bake 12 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool. Enjoy!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Labor and Delivery Playlist

Music is my language. While preparing for my labor and delivery, I decided to compile a list of songs into a playlist to help me 1) relax, 2) stay focused on Jesus, and 3) calm my fears. I listened to these songs for several weeks leading up to my labor and was encouraged every time I opened my heart to the lyrics. I definitely recommend having songs on hand during the birthing process. Though I only labored for a little over two hours at home before rushing to the hospital (read the crazy story here!), I was able to listen to a few of these songs on my playlist before we left. When a contraction hit and my response was to tense up and fear the pain, these songs helped keep me calm and steady. Hearing truths in the lyrics of these songs (i.e. be still and know that He is God....faithful God, every need You've met....my Father comforts me....He walks with me where angels fear to tread...) brought comfort to me and reminded my heart that I am His child and I am in His hands.

Below is my playlist. It's a combination of fast and slow songs. Some instrumentals. Most all of these can be found on iTunes.

  • Amazing Grace (instrumental) - Josh Wilson 
  • Be Still and Know - Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Beautiful Baby: Pachelbel's Cannon w/piano and strings - Music for Labor and Delivery
  • Beulah Land - my grandfather (www.lisembys.com)
  • Bless Us and Keep Us - John Waller
  • Blessed Assurance - Eden Symphony Orchestra
  • The Blood of Jesus (live) - the Collingsworth family
  • Bring the Rain - Mercy Me
  • Dreams - Eric and Leslie Ludy
  • Edelweiss - Sound of Music soundtrack
  • Faithful God - Laura Story
  • Fear Not Tomorrow - the Collingsworth family
  • Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - Matt Redman
  • Find You on My Knees - Kari Jobe
  • God Walks the Dark Hills - Vestal Goodman
  • Grip of Grace - the Perrys
  • He's Always Been Faithful - Sara Groves
  • Here - Kari Jobe
  • His Burden's Light - Austin's Bridge
  • His Grace is Sufficient - Mike Bowling Group
  • Hurt and the Healer - Mercy Me
  • Hundred More Years - Francesca Battistelli
  • I Can Trust Jesus - the Collingsworth family
  • I Look to You - Selah
  • I Need You More Today - Jeff & Sheri Easter
  • I Place My Trust in Him - Reggie Lisemby (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/he-guards-my-way-audio/id446655886?i=95189020&mt=2)
  • In the Calm - Jennifer Deibler
  • The Lord is My Shepherd - Keith Green
  • Nearer My God to Thee - (www.lisembys.com)
  • O Lord, Our Strength and Confidence - Ingrid DuMosch
  • One Desire - Kari Jobe
  • Only Trust Him - Eden Symphony Orchestra
  • Perfect Peace - Laura Story
  • The Potter Knows the Clay - the Perrys
  • Rise - Kari Jobe
  • Steady My Heart - Kari Jobe
  • Sweet Hour of Prayer - Anne Walsh
  • Take My Life - Kari Jobe
  • Tell the Mountain - the Collingsworth family
  • Thou Oh Lord (Psalm 3)
  • The Well - Casting Crowns
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread - the Worship Crew
  • Where Joy and Sorrow Meet - Avalon
  • While I'm Waiting - John Waller
  • Yearn - Shane & Shane
  • Your Grace Still Amazes Me - Phillips, Craig, & Dean

Do you have songs that still your heart and calm your fears? Feel free to share!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Supplements and Vitamins I Took While Pregnant

I am not a doctor, midwife, herbalist, or anything of the like. 
 The information in this post is just that - information
 This is simply what I have learned and what I tried in my pregnancy. 
 Do your own research before you take any supplements or herbs.


Contrary to my first pregnancy, I took a lot of vitamins while pregnant the second time around. In my first pregnancy, I wasn't consistent in taking my prenatals (probably because I was too consumed with trying to find a way to combat the acne I suffered!). This time, however, I made a vow that I would be religious in taking whatever vitamins and herbal supplements I felt was necessary to make my pregnancy and, more importantly, my delivery as smooth and as healthy as possible. And I'm so glad I did!!


Prenatal Vitamins

For my prenatal, I simply took Spring Valley's Prenatal Multivitamin. Later, I also tried the Rainbow Light Prenatal Multivitamin tablets. Next time around, I plan on using Rainbow Light again.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for tissue repair, bone growth, healthy skin, and helps your body fight infection. It also helps the body absorb iron and, in pregnancy, it keeps the amniotic sack strong. It is suggested that pregnant women take at least 85 mg of vitamin C per day.


Calcium

Calcium is, of course, essential for bone health, but it also benefits the kidneys, blood pressure, and can even prevent certain type of cancers! When I was little, I developed an allergy to milk, so drinking milk has never been a part of my diet. I would enjoy a little ice cream here, and a few slices of cheese there, but I was always careful not to overdo. As I grew up, I learned how to handle milk products more and more but I never could develop a taste for straight milk. So suffice it to say, Calcium is very important for me to take. In this pregnancy, I found myself craving ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and chocolate milk often and my husband was always intentional in reminding me that I needed as much calcium as possible. I took Calcium supplements every day and allowed myself to indulge (not gorge!) in whatever "calcium cravings" I acquired.


Evening Primrose Oil

Once I hit the 37 week mark and was considered full term, I began taking Evening Primrose Oil. Many midwives and dulas suggest taking Evening Primrose Oil to help prepare the cervix for labor. Some take it before they are full term, but I tend toward the cautious side because the oil has been proven to induce labor in some women. So I began taking one, sometimes two, 500 mg pills a day, beginning at 37 weeks. It took only a little over one week for my cervix to be completely ripe and ready.


Red Raspberry

I honestly think this was the most important thing I took. After clearing it with my OB/GYN, I began taking Red Raspberry supplements once I was full term. I chose Natures Way Raspberry Leaves and after reading that you can take up to 4500 mg of Red Raspberry a day, I began taking four a day and increased to six a day, taking two at breakfast, two at lunch, and two at bedtime. Red Raspberry has an abundant supply of calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Some women use raspberry leaf for painful periods, morning sickness, preventing miscarriage, and easing labor. I had read numerous stories of women who had all-natural births that were easier than previous births and contributed it to red raspberry leaves. I also bought Raspberry Leaf Tea. I'm not a big tea drinker, but I enjoyed sipping this tea every day. What Red Raspberry does in pregnancy is prepare and strengthen the uterus for labor. With your uterus stronger, each contraction is able to achieve more. It also helps the uterus clamp down easier and deliver the placenta without much help (massaging, etc). Another benefit of Red Raspberry is that it aids in milk supply, eases postpartum pain, and contributes to the female system in its entirety. Does it sound like I'm a believer?? I am. This was my first all-natural birth and, though painful, it was unbelievably easier than my previous, MEDICATED birth.

Naturally, I give all credit and glory to the Lord for giving me a healthy pregnancy and bringing me through delivery. I'm not putting my trust in Red Raspberry or any other vitamin or herb I took, but I am very thankful for the things God has given us in nature that aid our health and help strengthen our bodies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birth Story of Selah Elizabeth

My darling girl made her appearance early this morning and my, what a story her birth is! While things are quiet and everything still fresh in my mind, I decided to write down and share the birth story of my little girl, Selah Elizabeth.



It started Monday night, February 11, 2013. In the space of a week and a half, I had been having Braxton Hix contractions which I thought, at the time, were the real thing. ***A note to future or first-time pregnant ladies - you will know when it's the real thing! With my first baby, my water broke so I had little to no idea what true contractions felt like. I thought I did ....but I did not. After several weeks of BH contractions and constant calls, texts, and emails from anxious friends and family, I felt frustrated with myself that I had had so many nights of false labor. With our families waiting excitedly, on Monday the 11th, I had decided that I was NOT going to breathe a word of a potential contraction until I was completely sure. Monday I spent cleaning our house, doing laundry, and going about my normal "Monday routine." As was normal in my pregnancy, I had a minor backache off and on all day.

Grant and I went to bed shortly before 10 p.m. My back had a dull ache which was typical, especially after a full day of chores and such. But there was something different this time. No matter what position I tried, I could not get comfortable. I felt restless and my backache slowly increased. At 10:12 p.m. I had my first contraction. I checked the clock and tried to get into a comfortable position to sleep. Ten minutes later, I felt another contraction. Unlike the previous BH, these contractions felt like intense cramps that wrapped around my back and stomach. With my back still aching, I quietly slipped out of bed and started pacing the living room, stretching to see if the achiness would go away. It didn't and I began to notice that those cramp-like feelings were coming every 10-15 minutes. I kept thinking, "Surely this isn't it. I've been wrong so many times. Am I missing something??" I logged into Facebook, hoping my mom was online. She was. :) I told her everything I was experiencing and she answered some questions and gave me tips on what to do and what to look for. My doctor had instructed me to head to the hospital when my contractions began to come 7-8 minutes apart. After an hour and a half of contractions every 10 minutes, I noticed that with each one, I felt pressure on my pelvis. Each one was lasting longer and I was beginning to moan through them. I knew it then. I was in labor. I woke Grant up at 12:12 a.m. and told him what had been going on for the last two hours. I said I was going to take a bath and then begin getting ready to go to the hospital. Twenty minutes later, my contractions dropped from 10 minutes apart, straight to 5 minutes apart and were getting more and more painful. I was confused. My husband, thankfully, was insistent. We needed to leave. Immediately. Barely able to walk to the car, I climbed in and we made our way to the hospital - an hour and fifteen minutes away.

In less than 20 minutes after leaving our home, I couldn't talk and could barely move due to the pain. The contractions, we discovered, were coming every TWO minutes. We were still far away. My husband, who became my hero all over again, put on the flashers and drove 90-100 mph on the freeway. Half way to the hospital, in a painful and terrified whisper, I told my husband that any hospital would do. My thoughts: just get me to a hospital!! I had hoped to try to deliver naturally this pregnancy. Having had a hard and long delivery with our first child, I wanted to try an all-natural birth this time around. To be honest, I am and always have been a weenie when it comes to pain. I don't have a high pain tolerance. I think in the back of my mind, I believed I couldn't deliver naturally because of that, even though I wanted to. In the car, flying down the interstate, all I could pray for was relief. I kept saying, "Please, just let us make it in time to get the epidural!"  After two more indescribable contractions, I felt my body clamp down and I felt the unmistakable urge to push.

PANIC MODE

We were still 30 minutes away from our hospital. I told my husband my body was trying to push. I knew we couldn't make it. The north side of town, where we were entering, had another hospital; a branch of "our" hospital. We had to go there. Amazingly, while driving at an incredible speed AND praying for me AND trying to comfort me in my pain, my husband was able to call our hospital and explain that we wouldn't be able to make it. He arranged for us to go to the other, closer hospital.

At this point, my contractions were coming constantly, with hardly a breaking point long enough to offer me a decent inhaling breath. With each contraction, I felt more pressure to push. Finally, we made it to the hospital. My husband, double parked with flashers on, leaped out of the car, grabbed a wheelchair, and lifted me out of my seat. He brought me to Labor & Delivery and the first thing I (loudly) said was, "Need....epidural!" My nurses, who were so calm and collected, helped me to a bed and, after checking me said, "Okay honey, you are at 10 cm. It's too late for an epidural, its time to push." ***insert a wailing "Nooooo!" from me***  All I remember after that is pushing and praying that she would come out healthy...and that I wouldn't die. (Dramatic, I know, but that's how it I roll while in childbirth). I don't remember how many pushes it took. Somewhere between five and ten. But finally, with a surge of strength from out of nowhere, Selah entered the world at 2:04 a.m. with a beautiful, strong cry, a head full of dark hair, and big blue eyes. It's amazing how aware and in awe of life you become when you hold your little one in your arms. She is a precious, petite princess who weighed 6 lbs, 7 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long. For a little girl who's name means pause, rest & reflect, she sure entered the world exhibiting anything but! :) She was obviously in such a hurry to get here, the doctor couldn't make it in time! But now that she is here, and the delivery is over, she truly is living up to her name.

I didn't have a choice in terms of pain medication and a great part of me, though the pain was horrible, is glad I didn't. I learned a little more about the strength and power of Jesus Christ being made perfect in our weakness. I learned, from experience, what travail is. I learned a bit more about the amazing work of God's creation and how He designed our bodies. I even remember thinking, Oh God....this pain doesn't even match the pain of sin Jesus suffered on the cross. For me.

I thank you for your prayers. I am feeling tremendous and recovering excellently. In the morning we will go home and begin our lives as a family of FOUR! Please continue to lift us up as we enter a new chapter. May our faithful God receive all the glory. Forever.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Pregnancy Files | Week 39 | baby #2

38 weeks

In these final days of my pregnancy, I am trying to soak up what has been "normal" since the birth of my first. Today I am 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant. According to my OB, baby girl could quite possibly make her appearance today or tomorrow! That's her prediction and I am quite happy with that opinion! So here are my thoughts and feelings about this pregnancy... for the last time. :)

  • My doctor estimates that baby girl will be about 6 lbs. Petite! :) Everything looks perfectly healthy and normal.
      
  • She has been head down for three weeks which is GREAT!!
Her room - all ready!!
As for me...
  • I am prepping for labor. I have posts in the making that will explain what I have been doing, what I have been taking, and how it has worked for me.
       
  • I haven't had any new stretch marks this pregnancy, but in these final weeks I have noticed that my former stretch marks have become even more difficult to see. This is good news. What have I been doing? Vitamin E oil and Lavender essential oil.
       
  • Not much swelling. My feet and ankles have swollen occasionally and my fingers are a little swollen, though not nearly as bad as last time. Epsom salt baths and ingesting apple cider vinegar (with the mother) helps!
             
  • Other than fruit, the only craving I have had in my third trimester has been granola bars.
              
  • I am dilating well. "The time" could be any moment!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Ideas for Homeschooling Toddlers



My husband and I plan to home school our children. To be honest, I'm intimidated. I want to do well yet I do not look at myself as a great teacher, but I am trusting God's Word which says I can do all things through His strength. If He says it, I know by His strength I can do it. Although Kindergarten for my eldest is still a few years away, I have been thinking on my plans to teach for quite some time. While praying about the future and asking God, "how am I supposed to do it??" it was as if He spoke to me and said, START NOW.

Light bulb.

Of course. I can begin right now teaching my toddler, working our way up while instilling learning skills in him and building confidence in myself. Below are some ways I am beginning to teach Nathan early. Every baby step counts. Every intentional effort made goes a long way.


  • One thing we have is the Your Baby Can Read Deluxe kit. I will say that we do not do this every day. We have had this for almost a year, Nathan is 22 months old... and he cannot read. However, he recognizes some of the words and he enjoys the DVDs. Also, simply setting a time to sit down with the flash cards and picture books teaches him to 1) sit still, 2) observe what I put in front of him, and 3) work on retaining skills. Repetition helps. I am glad we have the kit, but I would never expect or push others to purchase it as it can be pricey. You can easily create your own version of it.
             
  • I dearly love this adorable ABC Wipe-Off book I picked up at a Christian bookstore. I love the fact that it is a wipe-off, meaning I can reuse it. And I love how easy and toddler-friendly it is. Nathan has always enjoyed colors and so this helps familiarize him with the ABC's and how to write them.
              
  • Nathan's favorite is his Magnetic ABC's. I put them on our refrigerator and he not only likes to take them off and put them back on, but he likes it when I put them in order (A, B, C, D, etc) and when I spell words and names. Again, this is simply getting him familiar with the letters of the alphabet but it is also lots of fun for him!
               
  • Picture books. If you have children, you likely have several children's books. And we all know that children's books are full of pictures. I like to sit with Nathan and read to him. When we look at the pictures, I try to point out every single thing I can think of. (i.e. See the grass? Grass is green. We have grass outside, see? **proceed to window or door). If there is a dog in the picture, I point it out, make the animal sound, try to encourage him to do what I do. Children's picture books are great tools!
            
  • We count. Yes, that's it. Every day we count to ten. I use my fingers and show him how to use his. I count his toes. I count his fingers. We count his shoes and his toys.
              
  • Nathan has this adorable Match Game that he loves. It is simply a three-piece puzzle of a person (police officer, cowboy, soldier, etc) . We do this several times a week. He also has a fabric match game a friend of mine made for him that he enjoys as well.

I am very careful not to push him. Some parents teach their babies to learn big things at early ages. This is completely fine with me, but personally I want my babies to be babies. I don't want to push him so that he grows too fast. The early years are so short. Therefore, we have our toddler school three days a week and it's always in short durations and in basic things (ABC's, 123's, recognizing animals and objects). It isn't much, but it is enough to begin building good learning skills.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eye Candy Will Make You Sick

Can I share something with you that troubles me? Okay, here goes....

Eye candy.

photo credit
Yes, that's right. Eye candy. Pinterest is all the rage right now and, I will admit, I am a fan. I love learning new tips and tricks to better my home, my health, and finding fun activities to try with my kiddo. But I get disturbed when I see tweens, teens, young ladies, and - yes - married women pin pictures of male celebrities onto their boards. ---- Mind you, I'm talking about Christian girls and women.

Remember when your Mom would say, "No more candy. It will give you a tummy ache"? We were taught from an early age that eating too much junk food was bad for us and could make us sick. It's definitely true! Too much candy = bad health. Too much junk food = low energy and an all-around BLEH-feeling! Now let's apply that spiritually.

Spiritually, ANY and all "junk food" makes us sick. It erodes our soul. It drains us of spiritual stamina. It puts our focus on earthly, carnal things instead of heavenly things. Keep in mind sin most always starts with the eyes. We see it. We want it. We take it. The Bible calls it the "lust of the eyes."  (1 John 2:16)

You may be thinking, "Okay I see what you're saying, but I'm just pinning a picture of a good looking guy! No harm, no foul."

I beg to differ.

If you are single, this harms your perception of marriage and devalues men in general. Think about it. Take a second and picture your future husband pinning pictures of ultra-"gorgeous" female celebrities onto his Pinterest board. Picture him gawking and drooling over the skinny, barely clad, airbrushed models that he tags as "sexy" and "delicious." Would it bother you? Intimidate you? Hurt you? Make you feel less than perfect? Likewise. If you fill up your eyes and your mind with "eye candy" you will have little room for good, healthy, Biblical precepts. Proverbs 31:10 asks the question, "Who can find a virtuous woman?"  In verse 12, it says that she (this virtuous woman) does her husband "good and not evil all the days of her life." Let me ask you. Is it virtuous to store up man candy, even while single? Is it doing your future husband good? Are you preparing yourself to be a noble and Godly wife while filing away images of "hot men" that you can (and no doubt will, as is tempting for us to do) compare him to? Think about it, girls. Be wise!

If you are married, this is a slap to your husband. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus talks about adultery and says some strong words. He said that if a man looks at a woman and lusts after her, he has already committed adultery in his heart. That goes for us, too! Wow...talk about serious! Proverbs 5:15 instructs husbands to "Drink waters out of thine own cistern..."  What does that mean? It means stick with your own wife. And in like manner WE should stick with our own husbands, not only physically by not committing literal adultery, but in every way! Bring your husband honor by regarding him as the only lover of your heart and the only "candy" your eyes indulge in. Build your house, ladies. Don't pluck it down by foolishly allowing your eyes to drink in the shirtless, seductive-posing Hollywood celebs that you are not married to.

It all goes back to purity. Purity is more than being physically abstinent. It's so much more! And, believe you me, impurity has a knack for knocking down a single young person, and utterly pulverizing a marriage.

Simply put: Eye candy will make you spiritually sick.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Prepping for Baby!

Today I thought I would show you how the nursery is coming along! Earlier this week, my husband and I took down all of our Christmas decor and I did a massive cleaning job on our house. We also....... **drum roll** ......PUT HER BED TOGETHER!!! This is a personal victory of mine since I have been wanting to set up her bed for over a month now. Below are some "before and after" pictures of her bedroom. It isn't completely finished yet, but it is well on its way!


BEFORE:
The room was, first, our study/office.



AFTER: 
The doorway

View from the door

View from her bed



A beautiful painting


Obviously, we don't have her bedding in yet and we haven't brought in the swing and infant bouncer from storage, but you can see how it is coming along. Only a few weeks left!!!

HURRY little bit!!!! I want to see you!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Pregnancy Files | Week 34 | baby #2

32 1/2 weeks

Today I am 34 weeks preggo! --- I know I haven't been very diligent in taking pictures of my growing abdomen. I plan to take a new picture today. In a little while, I will head to my OB appointment where I will get an update on how my little one is doing. From what I can tell, she is...*ahem*....growing. And she seems to be very, very, very energetic. Here is the latest:

  • The average weight and length of a baby at this point is about 5 lbs and 18 inches. She may be smaller, she may be bigger, but she is somewhere along that line.
       
  • Her fingernails are completely formed and growing. Best make sure the fingernail clippers are within arm's reach.
       
  • She can recognize songs, voices, and various other sounds. How neat!
 
As for me...
  • I....can't....breathe. It takes focus to take a full, deep breath.
       
  • Sleep is becoming an adventure. At bedtime (no matter what time of night that may be), I either cannot get comfortable or she decides she wants to play in my rib cage or turn cartwheels. I'm in for quite a wild ride...
        
  • Itching. Itching. Itching. Thankfully, loading up on lotion and taking cool baths help. It isn't nearly as awful as my first. But who enjoys itching with little to no relief??? Not me.
         
  • No swelling....yet. I'm praying it never comes, honestly.
         
  • No leg cramps. No new stretch marks. No varicose veins. And no heartburn. That is goooood.
             
  • My appetite has been strange with this pregnancy. First it was nonexistent. Then it came back with a force. Now, it's like, "Eat? Eh....okay, I guess." I haven't had a craving in.... I don't remember when. Odd.
              
  • I am beginning to feel Braxton Hicks contractions. That's exciting.

That's all for now. I need to scoot off to my next appointment. I want to hear the heartbeat again!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Savior Leads Me

Fanny Crosby wrote in her beautiful hymn,

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.


photo credit
2012 was a year that, for me, held both sorrow and great triumph. Like Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times...it was the worst of times." The Lord granted us a sweet, soon-to-arrive little girl and so many other blessings! He gave us memories that I will cherish forever. He is, indeed, a GOOD God. And yet in the midst of beauty, He also allowed us to walk in the darkness. Sometimes I was afraid. Some moments I was angry. Other times, I could only sit and cry and ask God the question we always seem to ask - "WHY??"

If I could sum up 2012 - personally - it would be, He led

In life, there will be days when we walk through valleys and deserts where, quite frankly, our spirit and even our flesh cries out in agony. Other days we will walk on mountain tops where we are high above all the trouble and pain and heartache that seem to cover the world we live in. But still He leads. Our great Savoir is far above all that we can see or think and He has more than we can ever imagine in His plan for our lives. He calls us to follow Him. And though our typical, Christian answer is to say, "Yes, Lord, we will follow You," our actions rarely obey the call. He calls us higher. He calls us to trust Him. He asks us to let Him lead. He may take us through deserts where we feel nothing but dry, desert sand that leaves us panting with thirst. He may take us through dangerous storms that threaten to plummet us. He may lead us through darkness so thick that we wonder if we will ever see light again. Up and down, twists and turns, darkness and sunshine.... sometimes it may look as though we will never reach "the end." But if there one thing I have learned, and will no doubt continue to learn, in 2012 it is that our great Shepherd leads all the way. And He leads well. He truly never forsakes. The pain that we experience in doing His will is so very little in comparison to the pain of not trusting the Master's voice. The fear we may feel in following Him is only a little shadow that He can rebuke with one word. As Fanny Crosby wrote, For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well. All things.

Regardless of the past, I pray that this year - in 2013 - you and I will both answer His call to daily die to self, pick up our cross, and follow Him. One year from now, when we look back on 2013, I pray we can say that He led us...and He is still leading. Let us then let Him lead us....all the way.

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