Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [Mommy Advice That Actually Helped Me]


I've been tempted to buy that onsie on many occasions! People are all to willing to give advice, especially to first time moms. I found this extremely overwhelming and frustrating, however, there was tid-bits here and there that I found helpful. Here's my list...

1. Write everything down because you won't remember it. I'm so glad I did that because as I browse her baby calendar I'm finding that I forgot things from a month ago already!

2. Read BabyWise and get on a schedule/routine. A schedule helped me so much. It took a lot of work, but in the end it was so worth it. I wasn't guessing what she needed and when she needed it. As a first time mom who knew nothing about newborns, this was extremely helpful. Babywise gave me an idea of what to do and then I just used their outline to set up a schedule that worked for me. Some parents don't need a schedule and their children thrive, I was not one of those parents.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in those moments of frustration and exhaustion. Other moms get it and will be willing to give you a break if you desperately need it. I had a friend offer to come over at 3 in the morning to help me with Brielle during her first few months of life. She had colic and when 10 pm hit, she was screaming until 2-5 in the morning. It was exhausting. I dreaded nights and needed help, a sanity break, and SLEEP. Letting down your guard and accepting help will help you more than you know.

4. Ask for advice from experienced mom's who obviously know what they're doing. There are very few moms that I go to for advice. If I'm asking you, it's because I admire your children's behavior, your patience, and I see you taking your "Mommy Ministry" job seriously. If I want to mimic you, I will ask you for your advice. If you see a mom who's methods are methods you like and admire, those are the mom's you should go to. Only ask advice from the people YOU want to mimic. Otherwise, filter the advice and sift through it. You don't have to take everyone's suggestions seriously, because, quite frankly, everyone has a different set of values and beliefs. And everyone, whether or not they have children of their own, freely give advice.

5. Independent play time is just as important as you playing with her. I was so grateful to hear that. I learned it from a preschool teacher, because she was talking about the struggles she sees with some of her students who only play with a toy by themselves or only have fun while playing with others. Each of those "skills" are important and she talked about how evident it was how each child spent their time at home. While setting up Brielle's schedule I included independent play time (giving her fun activities to do) and play time with mommy (and also plenty of play-dates). I loved it because while she played by herself I could do the dishes, or read a book, or sweep the floor, or fold laundry. I did not have to entertain her all the time - she can entertain herself!






6. Be consistent and follow through. If you're not consistent and you don't follow through they will know what buttons to push and how far they can or cannot go. My sister lovingly teased, "Those little brats are smart!" as Brielle was trying to sneak over to the dog dish, eye balling me the whole time, because I would not let her play in the slobbery water.

7. Read to her from day 1! I'm a former reading teacher, so I preached this to parents, but I also heard this from multiple parents on multiple occasions. I'm so so so so so glad I did this because at 15 months old Brielle entertains herself by picking up a book, pointing at pictures, talking to herself, and turning the pages. When I pick up a book to read to her, she seriously screams at me, she's so excited. My sister read to her boys from day one as well and now Gary "reads" to little Hunter all the time (Gary is 4, Hunter is 2). Don't underestimate the power of words.
4 Months Old - Reading with Daddy.
6 Months Old - Reading with a friend from church.

"Trail of Books" (14 Months Old)
8. It goes fast! Everyone and their dog told me this. I blinked and she's 15 months old. They. weren't. kidding.

9. Embrace your specific "mommy" skills. There are some mom's that are really good at doing crafts with their kids, other moms only feed their children organic food, or super-organized-mom, whatever "mommy" skill you possess, embrace it and work on your weakest. Don't expect to be perfect with ALL of them. (Fact: There isn't a mom on the planet who can do it all, even if they give you that impression on Pinterest or Facebook or through their blog, they're either liars or you're only you're seeing their highlights.)

10. Your goal is NOT to be a people-pleaser-parent. Parenting is controversial. No matter what, someone out there somewhere will not like what you're doing. There are thousands of opinions. There will always be judgmental gossips. Ignore it. Your child was given to YOU for YOUR care. If you're doing the best you can with what God has given you, it shouldn't matter. No opinion matters besides that of God's and of your spouse. I heard a mom (who's advice I'm constantly seeking) say that her sole job at this moment is being a godly wife and taking care of her mommy ministry. I like that: "Mommy Ministry," and when I see it that way nothing else matters to me. So I ask myself daily, "How am I being a parent who glorifies God and teaches my child Biblical truths in a world who has rejected Christ?" THAT is what matters to me and THAT in and of itself is controversial. I have to ignore the controversy and be a God-pleaser, not a people pleaser. So on the day that I stand in judgment for what I've done or haven't done, I don't want to be guilty of ignoring His charge to parenting godly children according to HIS standards (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, &etc.) and not my own, or by the woman's opinion across the street, or by Facebook friend merits. Don't be a "people-pleaser-parent" because everyone knows it's impossible to please everyone. The most important question here is, "WHO are YOU trying to please?"

There is absolutely no reason to go into parenting thinking you know-it-all (because you don't) or that you have to write the book. There are millions and kajillions of mom's who are currently "doing-it" and "doing-it" well and millions and kajillions of mom's that have been-there, done-that. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes (because you are human), but there's no reason to repeat mistakes already made. (That was a sermon more for me than for you, haha.) The best advice I have is to simply learn from others. Every piece of advice listed was from someone else and I'm just passing it along. I hope it helps you like it helped me. I'm sure that as time passes my list will grow and change and develop right along with my daughter.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day After Christmas Let-Down

December days are filled with crazy anticipation and preparation for one day. We can all admit the high's experienced on Christmas Day with family and presents are followed by a real low, low. Time to clean up, go back to work, take down Christmas decorations and find places to cram our new stuff can be depressing.

On our way to the store for diapers, I was talking to my dad about that feeling, wishing my husband didn't have to go back to work so soon and that we could have another day like yesterday. Despite that feeling, this particular Christmas has been a constant reminder of the wonders of His Love. Upon thinking about the true reason for the season: celebrating Jesus Christ, I was again filled with awe and joy and peace, so the "let down" wasn't really a let down, let down (but I didn't say that out loud). Following my comment about how the day after Christmas can be such a let down my dad asked a profound question that had me pondering the reason for the season, "You mean presents don't bring true happiness?!" The question was smothered in sarcasm and made me laugh, but was also meant to take seriously and also inspired me to write about this feeling. 

Why does the "reason for the season" end on Christmas day?

Why don't we celebrate Jesus in everything, every day? 

Why does the joy of giving not continue? 

Why does the peace we experience on this day end? 

A few years ago those questions were questions I asked on many occasions, but today, upon thinking of them, I realized that my happiness doesn't revolve around gift giving or receiving, or the anticipation of what this day holds. My happiness revolves around this gift I didn't deserve and keeps on giving: salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Despite Christ knowing I'd sin against Him time and time again, He died the death that I deserved (Romans 5:8). Because of His sacrifice I will be in heaven with Him someday soon. That gift He gave of Himself gives true joy and peace.
My dad explained it perfectly, "I think so many of the let downs exist because we think we're going to get these fantastic "things" that will change our life, and that just doesn't exist. God has built us for relationship." And that relationship is with Him. And the relationships we have here on earth are to be a reflection of what He wants with us. I'm not saying a relationship with Him (or even your friends and family) will leave you without downs or that life will be perfect, but I am saying that He promises to be there with us through it all. 

So on days like today where some of us may feel an exhaustion, or sadness, or a little let down, know that there is such a thing as true peace, true joy, and true celebration. Do not lose the reason for the season after Christmas is over! Continue to celebrate Jesus. Continue to give and see the joy it produces in the lives around you. Every day wake up giving thanks for Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross, because those "things" you received yesterday will only bring temporary happiness and joy. Christ gave His own life to give you everlasting joy, eternal life, steadfast love, and peace in all seasons of life. Ahhhh... the day that I meet Him face to face... that fills my days with crazy anticipation and preparation. When that day comes... NO MORE LET DOWNS! Ever.ever.ever.ever!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [Church Nursery Duty "Sins"]

I had the privilege of doing nursery duty last Sunday. It was a morning that helped me understand toddlers, stand in awe over cute they are, and that life with them is never, ever boring. I am beyond thankful these kiddo's are in my life for so many reasons, but here's a list inspired by my time with them Sunday morning; because despite how absolutely adorable they are and how each and every situation listed below made me laugh hysterically, it also helped me realize our deep and never-ending need for a Savior!

1. Coveting runs rampant. If one toddler looks like they're having fun with a toy, all toddlers want it.

2. Selfish thoughts are evident, "Even if you're playing with it, I will have it." That goes back to #1, because I want to have the same amount of fun as you, so even if you have the toy, I will get it from you, no matter the cost and even if I'm told, "no, wait your turn."

3. Patience is an unknown skill. 

4. Even if it's yours, it's mine. (Including sippy cups, pacifiers, and lovey's.)

5. Giving love is not always loving. From taps on the head to chubby-armed hugs -- watch out.

6. Toddlers give in to peer pressure too. For example: one baby wanted out. So she slammed both hands on the door and yelled, "da-da-da!" in a desperate attempt to get her daddy to save her from the horrors of the nursery. Once she did this, all babies thought it was a great idea.

7. Toddlers justify over indulgence. EVERYONE WANTS MORE CRACKERS!

8. Playing makes your clothes fall off.  If you take your child to the nursery, but extra layers on, 'cause them shoes ain't gonna last too long (and they may be lost forever, the nursery eats stuff).

9. It's like the tower of Babel in there. Each child has their own unique language. It's not easy trying to decipher 10 different versions of "cracker" (and the weird thing is that despite the variations, they all seem to understand one another).

10. Grudges are held. I wouldn't let one girl kick another girl. Oh man, are girls stubborn! (It was her against me.) I'm not sure who won, but after removing her from the ordeal (making her MAD) she did not want me. After a time I asked her if we could cuddle for a bit and she quite honestly answered, "No." So I asked, "Are you still mad at me?" More honesty, "Yes." (By the way, she did cuddle with me and wanted no one else --despite her grudge-- so I guess something was accomplished in all of that, right?) Either way it made me giggle.

Despite these truths, I also realized this amazing truth as well: that Everyone enjoys the simple things and takes time to stand in awe of it. Like trains going by, cuddle time in a rocking chair, or finding a matching puzzle piece. Trying to teach them patience and sharing do not compare to what they teach me on a daily basis.

I encourage you to find the person in charge of setting up the nursery duty schedule in your church and volunteer your time. Jesus had a lot to say about the value of children, make them a priority, and you'll begin to understand why they're a valuable asset to any church atmosphere and why they're worth every second of our time and energy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bennett's Birth Story [Water Birth]

Another incredible story of trust in GOD's perfect timing, thank you Emily for sharing it with us!

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Bennett's birth, early in the morning of September 5th, was perfect!

I am blessed beyond words with amazing family and friend support God has carefully placed in my life. As I type this, my son is being doted upon by his honorary aunties who I am fairly sure are feeding him mac and cheese and juice, the good stuff he doesn’t get at home. The night Bennett was born, I was surrounded by my three best friends as we planned the final details for one of their weddings and I baked a cake for a coworker leaving the Division the next day. I didn’t feel any different than normal and hurriedly went about the work that needed to be done. Amongst the giggles, printer noise and paper cutter slicing, I stopped to use the restroom. I stood up and turned bright red with embarrassment, I had always heard very pregnant mama’s sometimes pee themselves but thankfully up until this exact moment in time, I had avoided that lovely side effect of pregnancy. I quickly changed and started back downstairs when it happened again…a small woosh of liquid everywhere. The girls called out to check on me. I answered in a quiet voice, “I think my water just broke…” All three were hovered around me in our small upstairs bathroom in what felt like seconds! We decided to call our doula and the midwifery. The midwifery told me I had an appointment at 10 am the next morning to check me and to try to get some sleep. 12 hours later… little did I know... that would be much too long to wait. 

Our doula, who technically wasn’t even “on call” yet, (our contract stated she would be available 2 weeks prior) told us to start tracking contractions as they came. Immediately one of my girlfriends grabbed a note pad and began writing out columns. She is a VERY organized person. Another friend grabbed the computer to begin downloading music for me. I had asked for a good “birthing mix” earlier in the week. The third friend downloaded a stop watch app on her phone. I, feeling no contractions yet, called my husband who was at work, and told him what was going on. He asked if he could finish some things and I said yes but to be ready if I called back. I then proceeded to march to the kitchen to finish the cake I had promised my coworkers! My three girlfriends laughed and followed my every move. About an hour later contractions started and never stopped. 

“CONTRACTION!” I’d yell. 

“Timer!” someone would say. 

“Got it!” another friend would yell. 

We had planned an all natural birth at the only free standing birthing center in Colorado. I was excited to trust in God and my body, and birth my son naturally in the water. But oh my!!!! If this is just the beginning of labor, stage 1, and thinking, I am totally going to fail at this! What was I thinking!!!! This hurts! Oh Lord please help me, I can’t do this…

Another hour later my contractions were all over the place. No rhyme or reason, no consistency in length, duration, time in between. I called my husband as the pain intensified. "Please come home," I begged. He agreed and said he was leaving to make the 20 minute drive home. I called my doula and let her know how things were going. She agreed to come to my house even though I was only 2.5 hours into labor. I told my girlfriends they could go home. It was late and they all had to work in the morning. Thank the Lord they did not listen to me and leave! I wasn’t sure what I felt. I thought I had to use the bathroom. I kept going back and forth from my bed (yea right-I was trying to “get some sleep”) to the bathroom but I really didn’t need to go. Then I said it out loud, words that scared everyone in the room…

“I feel like I need to push.” 

I was still at home. My husband was not there, my doula was not there. What was about to happen? Immediately my friends called my doula who said we needed to leave for the birth center right away and she would meet us there. She would not be coming to the house. I called my husband who was just pulling into the driveway. My friends rushed me into his car with our “go bag”. My husband called the midwifery as we started the drive. Unknown to me, they told him if there was a hospital between our house and the midwifery, we needed to go there instead. Thankfully my husband knows me too well and we pushed on. The normally 25 minute drive only took us 14 minutes. As I look back I am very thankful we trusted in the Lord and His timing. I felt calm and confident He was with us and taking care of every step along this journey. God really does have perfect timing doesn’t He? 

Our doula met us in the front of the building. I was led into the front room where I had one big contraction. Once I got into the room I just kept asking to get in the tub. The midwife and nurse helped me undress and asked me to lay on a bed first to be checked and to place the monitor on the baby. I responded in tears “there’s not time”. The midwife checked me standing up and told me to get in the tub b/c she felt Bennett’s head! 2 pushes later, 7 minutes from the time we pulled up to the midwifery in our car, my beautiful 6 pound 15.5 ounce baby boy was born naturally in the water. 

As hectic as it seems when I say or type the story, I was very much at peace the entire time. I felt God’s presence and knew he was watching over all of us. It was incredible. 

My husband and I were fortunate enough to have hired an amazing doula who took photos. We got to spend time with Bennett in the tub and then in the bed in the room and he never left our side. We delayed cord cutting and worked on breastfeeding until Bennett latched and sleepily napped on my chest. I took him into the regular bath with me once I was taken care of and able to move around. My husband and I gave Bennett his first bath together in warm water full of healing herbs. 

As I dried off, my husband took our new baby to get weighed and measured then we snuggled a bit longer together as a family. 



Bennett was observed with us for 4 hours and finally the 3 of us went home. Yes, home to our house, our bed, and our dogs with our new baby. It was incredible and peaceful. Ironically we were observed longer than my entire labor. My husband still laughs, he was home with Bennett sooner than he would have been had he have worked his entire shift! From water breaking, to Bennett’s birth, it was 3 hours and 53 minutes. We now know to go to the midwifery immediately if my water breaks for baby #2. Especially if “they” are right and 2nd babies come faster than first babies.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [Reasons to Emulate My Husband]

My husband is a rare soul and I just don't brag on him enough, so here's my opportunity to share ten things that my husband does everyday that reflect qualities all men should emulate, because he is a phenomenal husband and father.
  1. He gets up at 4 am to work out every day. Now I'm not saying you should do that, perhaps that isn't your thing, but here's why this is so significant. First of all, he's been doing that for over a year now (Dedication & Hard Work) but the reason why is HUGE. He loves to work out, he works out because he feels better as a result, it's his thing and we used to do it together every day after work. When we added our baby girl to the mix that became more complicated. I was no longer able to go with him. When he'd come home from work around 5:30-6 ish and then work out until 7-7:30 ish, he didn't really see his family. Rather than giving up something he enjoys, he sacrificed to make it work in order to have more time with his family
  2. He works long hours and works hard at a job that is not necessarily his dream job. He has a dream that involves more school, but he set his dreams aside to take care of his family firstI can not tell you how many times he tells me that he works to take care of us, and to make sure that we have everything we need and want. I am spoiled.
  3. When he comes home from work, he plays with his daughter while I cook supper. She loves this and so do I. It's so much easier to accomplish this task when she's not at my feet begging to eat and eat and eat. His selflessness in this is huge. I'm sure he's tired from work. I'm sure that there are time he'd rather go downstairs and flip on a football game, but it's obvious that his family's needs are always, always, always above his own or anyone else's for that matter. 
  4. He helps me with the dishes every evening after dinner. Do you know how much I enjoy that time with him? Do you know how much we talk during that time together? Do you know how much that simple, 30 minute task means to me? 
  5. He spoils me in more ways than I can possibly share here. Let me give you a few ways how he does that: we'll go shopping and he'll always ask me, "Is there anything you want babe?" or I'll be admiring something and he'll tell me, "Whatever you want babe." or we'll be downstairs watching TV and he'll ask me, "What do you want to watch babe?" or we'll have free time on a Saturday afternoon and he'll ask, "What do you want to do babe?" He's always asking questions like, "What can I do to make you happy?" I am spoiled by a selfless man who provides for and cherishes his family on a daily basis.
  6. He is quick to apologize. If he has screwed up and he knows it, I will hear him say, "I'm so sorry, will you forgive me?"AND HE HAS NEVER, EVER, EVER GONE TO BED MAD AT ME, and he has never, ever, ever gone to bed when he knows I'm mad at him, he is quick to resolve.
  7. He is quick to say, "I forgive you." He does not hold grudges, he thanks me for saying I'm sorry and he loves on me afterwards.
  8. He married a woman that is not "Becky Home-ecky" (in other words I am not domestically inclined), but I have never once, not once, heard him complain about a meal gone bad (or having to eat the leftovers) or a messy house.
  9. Every day he comes home and listens to me, actually listens. I might tell him about my day with the Bean and show him video's or pictures that I've taken. Or there may be an issue I've been praying about and need his guidance. Or there are times I need him to simply hold me as I cry. No matter what it is my husband is quick to show compassion and I trust him in his advice on how to fix it; because he is wise, which leads me to my next point...
  10. I saved this one for last because I believe it's the most valuable. Every day I see my husband spend time in God's Word and every day I see him try to emulate Christ in love, kindness, patience, and gentleness. That's reason enough to emulate this man, because his love for me gives me a picture of how Christ loves his church. (Read Ephesians 5:28-30 and you will know exactly what I mean here.)

I have zero reasons to complain about this wonderful man God put in my life. I feel blessed beyond words and if those qualities don't speak enough about him, check out these photographs that show it.
Whispering sweet nothings (he does this often) and no, I won't share those sweet nothings with you. :)

Singing to me. 


Every night he reads to his daughter.

Every day he plays with her (she loves to play with trucks, sound effects are always needed).
With his nephew...

With his daughter...

With his daughter...




With his niece...

His look when he saw me... (yeah, this pic makes my heart melt...)

He took me to Disney World for our first anniversary. That's love.

With his nephew...

With his nephew...

Marley was cold...
If you find a man who's goal in life is to be like Christ, do not let him go. Because of Christ, he will grow and grow and grow in wisdom, in love, in his need to protect, provide, cherish and nourish you. He will understand your submission to him as he submits to Christ in his own life. He will be sincere, he will show grace, and you can rest in this one amazing fact: you don't have to live in fear over good-bye's because this world is not his home.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Brandi's Birth Story(S) [Hospital & Home Birth Experience]

I randomly began following http://www.visionarywomanhood.com on Pinterest and happened upon an article titled When God's Plan is Different From Your Plan, which lead to a head-to-head battle with a green monster. A battle I didn't even completely understand needed to happen until after it happened. I had this incredible head knowledge: GOD IS IN CONTROL, but my heart was obviously hem-hawing around that fact. There is a huge difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge and sometimes it takes a swift kick in the pants to come to these revelations. After writing about it, praying about it, and talking about it with my husband I can FINALLY say I'm in a better place about my birth story because God was very obviously in control of it all; and when (or if) the day comes that I must prepare for another birth story, I am better prepared for what God has in store and let HIM be my central focus no matter the outcome. (It's so easy to say that, but it takes a lot of work and some hard knocks to finally mean it.)

Thankfully, I have some incredible friends who are willing to share their incredible stories. My whole point for asking women to share their stories here is to encourage other mommy's as they either struggle with their own feelings of failure, jealousy, anger, frustration (whatever) that you're not alone. I also want to encourage you as you decide your birth plan and that whatever birth plan you choose, that it may not go exactly how you envisioned and that's okay! I also want to encourage all mommy's to embrace the process of birth and let your body do exactly what God designed it to do in the first place, and sometimes that process is put to a screeching halt and He has other plans in mind; not because of anything you did, but because HE HAS SOMETHING BIGGER IN MIND. Embrace that too.

My friend Brandi did just that and has two amazing birth stories that I cannot wait to share with you. Enough with my mumbo jumbo... here's her story(S)!

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I have 2 children and 2 very different birth stories from each of them. To fully understand my decision and experience with birth I feel you should know both of my stories as well as some back ground. 

When my husband and I began to talk of starting a family he asked me if I would consider doing a home birth. When I became pregnant with our first child I couldn’t even wrap my head around this idea much less research it; soooooo we decided that my first daughter would be born in a small hospital.  We were able to have the same doctor for all of our appointments and also delivery. 

While being sound asleep my water broke at 2:00 am, 10 days before my due date. My water broke with a big gush, that I thought I peed the bed but soon realized I still had to pee.  Lol.   My contractions started about 2 hours later, regular but only a touch of how intense they would become. Early in labor a part of me actually craved contractions. I knew each one brought me closer to meeting my baby and finding out if we would have a boy or a girl. Labor progressed steadily and by 12:00 I was in heavy labor dilated to a 7. I was in the beginning of transition and labor was tough. The intensity of contractions had picked up and I felt like I had to push. The nurse had me humming though each contraction to keep myself from pushing.  I was frustrated and unsure of what was going to happen next and how long I would have to be doing this. It was intense and I could not understand why, if my body was telling me to push, I could not. My labor had stalled at a 7 and the nurses just kept assuring me if I would relax my labor would continue to progress again. 

(Now I told you I would share some back ground so that you would completely understand. I am the oldest daughter of 3 girls. My mother and my middle sister had both had babies in nearly no time at all and little to no “real” labor. I tease that they sneezed and had a baby. So first things first I simply knew I would have labor and deliver babies just as they did. The other thing you ought understand is I mentioned I was the oldest of 3 daughters. I was raised by 2 very loving hard working parents. They had excellent intensions by teaching me to be independent, business minded, to use common since, think for myself, to set goals and achieve them and to be strong. I was successful in the business world and in sales. I also had developed a knack for talking. I was fairly opinionated and somewhat of a control freak.—I was loveable, but knew nothing about being a biblical woman, much less a wife. To this point in my life I had not yet learned who was really in control. I am also going to mention that having my first baby was not going at all how I planned; I was stuck, confused and frustrated!!!!) Now back to my story… 

I stayed like this until about 3:30 and the nurses encouraged me to get an epidural to help me relax. Against my original plan I received an epidural and did relax. But my labor virtually came to a stop. My contractions went from steady and regular to more sporadic. In order to help things progress they started me on a pitocin drip and had me and my baby hooked up to every monitor possible. I was still not progressing with any speed and there was talk of a cesarean.  My doctor who was coming home from his daughter’s wedding (that was 6 hours away) arrived to check me and see how close I was to delivering. At about 5:45 I was at a 9 and all but a little piece effaced.  As he was checking me he asked me to push against him.  He said that he was going to go change clothes and then we could start pushing.  I was glad he made it because I trusted him and felt confident that he would do his best to keep me from having a C-section. My contractions were still not near as regular even with the pitocin and I hated that I couldn’t move and that I couldn’t feel what my body was doing. I still very much so wanted a vaginal birth. So as soon as they said I could start pushing I did, but because I couldn’t feel my contractions I  couldn’t work with my body and it was much more tiring. I was even pushing without a contraction to keep me from having a cesarean. It was exhausting. To help with my progress the Doctor used the vacuum, which I thought hurt much worse because it was something that as my body was pushing out, was going in. I also received an episiotomy. (Even with an epidural you can still feel the episiotomy--- I would strongly encourage anyone to adamantly refuse an episiotomy as the healing process was the hardest part of my post delivery.) After an hour and 20 minutes of intense pushing, and the hustle and bustle of the hospital, our beautiful baby girl was born. Following the delivery the nurses were excited to weigh her and get their hands on her. My Doctor actually sharply reminded them that the paperwork would could wait and that someone had better get this mom her baby. It was still a while until I got to hold her because I was getting stitches from my episiotomy.  In the end, I had a 7 lb 4 oz 19 ¾ inch long beautiful, happy, healthy baby girl.

When my husband and I began to think of a second child he again asked me about homebirth.  Being at a much different place spiritually, (Let me elaborate…. even though I had been a believer since I was a teenager,  for the first time through scripture I was able to understand how BIG God is and how small I am, with the first inkling of understanding a need to trust in God and submit to Him. Most importantly my NEED for a savior and His redeeming love for me.)  I was willing to research the laws, who to work with, how it worked and the safety of actually having a baby at home. Even though I thought I would prove it was unsafe and that we should not do a home birth, I also wanted to have a different experience with labor. My first birth experience wasn’t bad. In fact it was very routine and produced a healthy baby, but I really wanted an experience with childbirth that someone talked me through the process, what my body was doing and one that I wouldn’t be hung up in transition. I wanted be able to embrace the experience of childbirth and what my body was made for.  I wanted to be able to be relaxed and calm with no fear of what would happen next.

We began researching by watching a documentary “The Business of Being Born.” It gave us an idea of what it entailed and where to start—keeping in mind any documentary is presenting facts to prove a point, so you must be objective to the persuasion. The next step was to interview midwives who could work with us but quickly found that homebirth was not legal in our state, so to do a homebirth we would need to find an alternative location. Fortunately for us my parents lived in a neighboring state which did allow for homebirth and we worked out the details to meet a midwife at their house for delivery and my parents were nice enough to lend us their house . Unfortunately for other women seeking to do homebirth in Nebraska this is not an option, hopefully laws will one day change and there will be licensed Midwives  in the state. 

My care while pregnant was very similar with my midwife to that of my doctor. For our appointments we did the same things, blood pressure, weight, how the baby was growing, etc. The rest of the time we spent getting to know our midwife and at first she probed me to ask questions and even talk to her about my feelings.  There was much more of a getting to know each other process. 

Because my first baby came 10 days early I was sure my second would as well. WRONG!!! A person’s first breath and last breath are in the control of God alone!!! The due date of my second daughter came and went. My midwife explained to us, if I went beyond 42 weeks the law would require I be induced and deliver in the hospital.  At 41 weeks insisted she check to see if my body had even began to act like it wanted to have a baby and I was dilated to a 4.  My midwife laughed out loud and said all you need is contractions and this is going to go fast, many women are in active labor and spend hours to get this far!! I had several days, in the month before, where I had steady contractions and just knew I was going to go to sleep and wake up to more intense contractions, leading to a baby. Day after day I would wake up with no contractions in the morning. It was 41 weeks 6 days and I was set to go to the hospital for delivery the Monday morning. I was again having contractions pretty steady through the day but was not sure if it was going to lead to much of anything. Around 2 in the afternoon they were about 2 minutes apart. I decided to get in the shower and shave my legs-- of all things. LOL! What I was feeling was not painful but more, tingly as my belly tightened and softened. I would feel each rush of energy in my butt and legs.  It tingled and was extremely intense and uncontrollable. 

We switched to my parent’s houses and in the process my labor came to a screeching halt. My midwife encouraged me to get comfortable and then do some walking to see if the contractions would come back. Several laps around my parents house and sure enough they were back, 6 mins apart and regular. Knowing I was going to have a long night I decided to rest a bit. I laid down and when I was just about to doze off I moved and heard a little “pop” and then a little wet. I told my husband my water broke and he peeled back the covers and said, “no it didn’t, there is no puddle!!!” The next contraction was kicked up a notch (still intense tingling in my butt and legs). One contraction at a time, they went from 6 min apart to 5, and then 3 minutes apart. We called my midwife to see how close she was to leaving when we were sure my water broke. She was about an hour out. I decided to get in the bath and relax until she got there.  Now up until this point I had been calm and relaxed using several techniques I had learned from a book recommended by my midwife: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskins. I learned several things like focusing on positive thoughts and words,  to keep my hands and jaw from tightening because you then tighten those muscles the ones in your bottom follow, to allow gravity to work with my labor, to be up right and moving so baby would keep heading down and out and to think of opening. Because of these tips I was much more prepared for the restlessness and difficulty of labor and the most intense part -transition. I chose to get out of the tub because I had been stiller than I wanted and continued to walk around the bathroom.  I moved from pacing the floor to setting on the toilet as I moved through transition.  Prior to moving to the bathroom and pacing some, my midwife checked me asking how I felt. ‘Did I feel like pushing?” She explained that if I felt like I wanted to push I could start.  I was completely effaced and almost completely dilated. I just needed to embrace where I was in labor and just let it happen so I could meet my baby.  While setting on the toilet, I had one good push with a bunch more water and said to my husband with a sigh of relief, “Oooh, the baby will be crowning with the next push.”  Transition was over. I was calmer and more gathered and ready to deliver my baby. In between contractions my midwife reminded me as I started to push, make whatever noise I needed, let my body do the work and if I felt a burning  to back off, it was my body’s way of saying to slow down it needed time to stretch with my baby. The people in the room (My midwife, my husband and the midwife assistant) were there to softly and lovingly encourage me but were going to do their best to keep the excitement level down and the room quiet. It was now 10:15 and for the next 45 minutes I slowly worked on pushing my baby out. My midwife and husband quietly reminding me to keep my hands open, muscles relaxed, and back off if it started to burn.  Going slowly didn’t remove all the burn but what little bit was left was alleviated with my husband placing a warm to hot wash cloth on my bottom. (I am telling you this was life changing!!! No matter how awkward, have someone, anyone do this for you it was amazing how much it helped. It also helps you stay moist and it is hard to make those muscles tense with the warm setting there.) When I got to the largest part of her head out, I did tear the slightest bit (One Stitch). My midwife said that she didn’t think I would have at all if it had not been for my episiotomy scar. My husband, with the coaching of our midwife was able to catch our little girl. (“I had no idea how slippery babies were!" he said.) After delivering this baby I was beaming from ear to ear, excited and relaxed. I had completely forgot that I had to deliver the placenta. LOL! I don’t know a high that could top my experience. Something else that was cool about homebirth is that we did not cut my baby’s cord right away but waited an hour or so, so that she would receive the extra blood and not have to work so hard right of the bat. Oh, I forgot to mention that this wonderful, calm, intense, nearly painless experience produced a beautiful 10 lbs 8 oz, 21 inches long baby girl who was as happy and healthy as her sister. 

I believe that this birth experience was drastically different for many reasons: I was in a calm, cozy and comfortable environment. I had researched natural birth tactics and had a better understanding what my body was going through in labor. I was listening to my body, but mostly because I was able to submit God, to the situation, to allow my body to be used for God’s purpose and not my own. I allowed my focus to be on the moment and the moment alone. The best way I can describe it is to be apart of the ocean letting it take me where it willed and simple embracing, not thinking, just being present and being joyful.  It was intense, but not about me.

Now, I am NOT saying that by trusting in God your birth experience will be painless---NOT AT ALL. The bible tells us in Genesis that we will have pain in childbirth, this part of our curse, the other part being our desire to rule over our husbands. (Both are true—see above, who I was before God opened my eyes through scripture. Don’t think I don’t still struggle with this sin, I did then and do now. I just see my sin today. I am a dirty, rotten, filthy, stink’n, stupid, sinner who needs Jesus Christ as my savior.) God designed childbirth to be painful, therefore it is. However, there was such a drastic difference in the person I had become in the time between giving birth to my two children that I was able to embrace the intensity of birth that I originally thought would rip me in half, pain that I could not understand why I could not will it to be over when I was done. Instead I found comfort in Genesis 3 and understood it to be a part of how God was using me to bring forth new life. I knew that because the pain was part of our curse all women who had given birth before me experienced the same thing. It was designed by THE God of the universe who controls all things. The pain would not kill me, I was not being tortured, it was with purpose and God’s hand was in it—Thank God. (If I had not embraced it in this way, it could have been way worse!)

I am so grateful for my two little Beauties and the experience of bringing them both into this world. I am most grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the transformation of my heart that God allowed because of His word. I pray you are encouraged and blessed by mommies like me sharing their birth stories and that you are excited about God using you, however He sees fit, when He sees fit, despite our own plans. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Social #14

Sunday Social

1. What is your favorite Holiday Movies/TV Specials?
A Christmas Vacation!
2. Do you do any volunteering during the holidays if so what? If not what would you do?
Does nursery duty at church count as volunteering? (That's year around, so I guess the easy answer to this question is no.)

3. What is your favorite toy received as a child for the holidays?
Our favorite toy growing up was Lego's so every year that's what all four of us asked for and received. I could still get out a bin of Lego's and have the time of my life! 

4. What was your must have item in high school for the holidays? 
I was never really into that... so I honestly do not remember.

5. What do you do on Christmas Eve?
As a child we went to our Christmas program at church and then opened presents. Now that I have my own family we don't have any Christmas Eve traditions, other than enjoying one another's company.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Beautiful Adoption Story

One of my friends on Facebook shared this incredible story, the piece I found most incredible was the Father's description on adoption. There are times I can think of nothing else to say but, "WOW." and this is one such instance.



"Anytime I think about adoption I think about my spiritual adoption, about how Jesus went to infinitely greater lengths to adopt me into the family of God. What a privilege it is to, in a smaller way, in a human way, live out some of the truth of the gospel."

And if that wasn't incredible enough he goes on to say this, 

"The nurse just asked us if we're excited to meet our son and I paused for second there because I think it's the first time I heard someone else refer to him as our son."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things!

I grew up watching The Sound of Music and it has always been a family favorite. One of the songs I sing to my own daughter is These are a Few of My Favorite Things! 
(Sorry for the poor quality of the video.) 

I only watched the tail end of Carrie Underwood's performance and thought that she did well enough, however, the original production can never be beat. That is not a slam against Carrie Underwood, it's just that the 1965 version is a classic and will remain as such (in my eyes at least). 

The Sound of Music will always be on my "These are a few of my favorite things..." list! Including this song that encourages us to think of all our blessings in bad times like, "...when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad..." and then "... I won't feel so bad!"


Here are a few of my favorite things, that help me when I am sad. Rather than making a list, I decided to write my own version: 



Words on white paper and bling on my finger
Uplifting music and friends who linger
Songs that I cherish and can't help but sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Dressing up fancy and pajama pants too
Cookies and Coffee and baby shoes 
Growing and changing to be like my King
These are a few of my favorite things

Cuddley puppies and crafty wheat beer
Frosty Mugs filled with root beer and cheer
Family love and the laughter they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

When a friend fights
When a word stings
When I'm feeling sad
I'll simply remember my favorite things
And then I won't feel so bad!

Now, it's your turn! Write your own version and share it with me!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

We Are ALL Terrible Mommy's

Today is another day in the saga of "my daughter only wants to eat graham crackers" (for every meal, all the time). When I place a wholesome meal in front of her (that she has thoroughly enjoyed in the past) she refuses to eat it and even spits it out when I give it to her. Ahhhhhhh! It's so irritating! When I'm irritated I am not patient or kind. Plus, she is hungry (no matter how many crackers you eat, it can't be fulfilling) and as a result she is uber whiny, clingy, and irritable. I'm at my wits end.
I decided a picture of me at my wits end might help concrete the following description of my frustration...
She's also refusing to play without me. In the past I'd play with her for a half hour or so to start the day, and let her play by herself, give her a task to do with me and all was hunky-dory. Noooooooo, not anymore. She is at my feet all.the.time. clinging to my pants (I hate that), begging for my attention. Crying, whining, screaming for "ca-ca-ca" (crackers). It's impossible to accomplish anything... which leads me to my next rant...

Today is also day (whatever... it seems like an eternity when you're in the midst of it) that she is FIGHTING sleep. And by fighting sleep I mean that she's on the verge of passing out (eye rubbage, looooooong blinks, the typical "I'm so sleepy!" signs) so I'll lay her down, and she will play and play and play and talk and talk and talk for a long time. Today it went on for an hour! She seemed happy, like time to relax in the crib is what she needed, so I took her out, tried to give her some lunch, and decided to try and accomplish something, anything, blah, blah, blah... crankiness continued, refusing to eat, not leaving my side....

It came to a head when I began folding laundry. I'd fold a piece, set it down and she'd yank it off the couch and throw it back into the laundry basket or meander over to her dirty clothes bin and throw it in. I took a deep breath and said this prayer, "Lord, help me." And it was then (as she grabs a piece from the basket and does this cute little rendition of roll-it-up from patty cake) that I realized she was trying to fold it! In my selfish, irritated state I did not realize that my daughter was mimicking my actions in laundry-doing, she was trying to help me! Conviction set in and I had this realization that I am a terrible mommy, unfortunately, as I'm typing this I know other mom's are going, "Honey, I get it! You're not terrible." Yes I am and so are you. We are all terrible mommy's.

I'm being 110% serious.

Hear me out.

I'm studying the book of Romans right now. In chapter 1 Paul's description of sin, of our depravity, leads the reader to understand why we desperately need the gospel. We are liars, haters, boastful, foolish (everything that describes me today and every other day of my life). When we abandon God, God "...gives us up" to our sinful desires. Because of our sin against a perfect and holy God we deserve to die! Paul is very adamant that ALL have sinned, ALL of us are rotten, ALL OF US ARE TERRIBLE!

"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God. 
All have turned aside; 
together they have become worthless; 
no one does good, not even one. 
Their throat is an open grave; 
they use their tongues to deceive. 
The venom of asps is under their lips. 
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood; 
in their paths are ruin and misery, 
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:11-18)

I don't think we can hem-haw around that passage. There is not one of us that can escape the fact that we are terrible people and because we are ALL sinners we deserve death. We do not deserve to be in the presence of a perfect God. "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) We deserve to die for all that we've done, murderers, haters, liars, and terrible mothers alike.

"For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

Because of what we've done against God (like being a selfish mommy), we deserve to die. Just in case Paul wasn't clear in chapter 3:11-18, we deserve to die.

So on these days when I become so irritated with my child that I want to lock myself in a closet, scream, and then gulp down a glass of wine, what is my hope? Well God had a plan knowing we'd have days like this, weeks, years even, and we'd continue to be inadequate in meeting His perfect Law.

"God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Christ took the death that WE DESERVE! He lived, he died, and rose again. Jesus Christ took God's wrath on the cross so that His children can enter heaven holy and blameless, despite being terrible!

I must admit the fact that I'm a terrible mother, wife, PERSON, and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me, teach me, even in my failings as a mommy. You will continue to fall short every day of your life. You will never measure up to a perfect God. There are no good people apart from God. So thank you Jesus that "...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) That's it! And that's something I remind myself of daily, especially in moments like this when I'm failing as mommy, despite my best efforts.

And thanks be to Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross because without that one selfless act I would be doomed on days like today, but it's days like today that I'm forever thankful that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Wow. Despite my terrible daily imperfections, I am not doomed. Despite my daily act of trying to be good mommy (and failing), God is good. Regardless of my never ending failures, He is unchanging. No matter how many times I give in to my resolve to yell, scream, shut myself up in the closet, God is faithful. No matter how lazy I become, God is always at work in my life. Despite my impatience, He is patient. Even though I am a terrible mommy, He is perfect. 

As long as I trust in HIM, this mommy job is one that He is using for His glory, no matter what I do or say. Hallelujah, because today... today I'm a terrible mommy. Tomorrow isn't looking so hot either. So I will take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, give thanks for His grace, and rely on the Holy Spirit. Without that, my terrible, earthly, fleshly self is hopeless and lost and terrible.

These are the qualities of the Holy Spirit that I need in parenting: patience, kindness, self-control, love... and according the the Bible NO ONE possess's these qualities without Him because of our sin. Outwardly we might try to work on these things, but it's the heart that matters and if our heart is not right with God, those qualities will continue to be surface level. In order to be a good mommy, I must embrace the fact that I am a sinner in need of Christ, and once I allow the Holy Spirit to intervene, I am good at this job only because He's giving me HIS perfect qualities.

Side note: I think that from now on when I hear a mother exclaim, "I'm a terrible mother!" I'll agree and say, "Yup, we are all terrible mommy's. Thank goodness for Jesus Christ's grace and for His perfect example on what it means to be a good parent. We must simply be willing to let Him guide us as we go. Rely on Him." And that's that.

--------------------

This post may come as a shock after reading my recent argument about this amazing job we call motherhood. I'm not taking back what I wrote there, I meant every word I said, but we cannot embrace the truth -- that God gave us the ability to nurture life -- unless we truly embrace the source of that ability!

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Last year a good friend gave me the book titled The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg.
The illustrations by James Bernardin are beautiful that make the story come alive. I kept it in our Christmas tub and Bean pulled it out asking, "Dis?" (which means this). I cried as I read the legend behind the candy cane and the message of hope behind it. I'll forever have a different view of candy canes and it'll always be a central piece of our Christmas celebrations.

I highly recommend you get the children's book and check out this website that has this free printable -- and what an amazing poem.


Have a wonderful Christmas celebration centered around Christ our Lord and glorifying HIM.