Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesdays Top Ten Plus Ten [Events that Changed My Life]

I've written about many of these events here and I'll share the link if you're interested in reading further into each story. I believe each of us have ten events that make our life worth sharing with others (which is one reason I love the world of blogging so much), including Melany

The events I'm going to share with you added such depth to my life that I feel solid in my understanding of God's sovereignty.
That doesn't mean I don't struggle with my faith occasionally, it simply means that I know where to go to find encouragement and renewal of hope: God's Word. His Word reminds me that He is sovereign and worthy of my complete trust. It's the experiences that He has put in my life that forced me to joyfully yield to His plan, while giving up my own.

It's also in these experiences that I was forced to learn and grow and change. I believe they were each for a purpose and it's because of these experiences that I ask myself, How is God using this to draw me closer to Him? 
Granted, not every experience, has been brutal. Some have been simple reminders that it's the small things in life that are often the most memorable.
Ain't that the truth?

The Death of Two Friends. I briefly touched on this in my testimony, but saying good-bye to friends who never experienced life outside of high school made me realize that life is short and something to be treasured.

My Parents Divorce. It still affects us today, almost ten years later. There is absolutely nothing - nothing - easy about parents divorcing. I learned so much as I watched my family unravel, about forgiveness, kindness, self-control, God's faithfulness, commitment, consequences, promises, selflessness, and about how marriage isn't just about two people. It's about a whole host of people - from those who witnessed your vows, to family, joint friends, and especially your children.

The First Day of Marriage Counseling, which I briefly entertained in my Why BecKyle? page, but I'll go into more detail. Our pastor Doug presented the gospel and Kyle accepted Jesus Christ as His Savior that day and I renewed my life for Him. It was quite the jump start to our marriage - one where Christ is the central focus!

Resigning as a Teacher and coach to be a Stay-at-Home Mom. That was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, but I am forever thankful I made it. My career will wait a few years as I enjoy our babies first few years of life. I don't want to miss anything, these years fly by so quickly! It was the right decision for our family. It's been challenging and it was extremely difficult laying my career aside, but it has been worth every minute of every day. I wrote about this specifically in my About Me section and in this post titled, Stay at Home Mom? ME?! Then I read two books that helped me understand God's design for women in the home (The Privilege & Price of Motherhood a post written about the book Fearlessly Feminine and Glimpses of Grace). Whether or not I'm working, my job is to care for my family. The thought of caring for our home, baby, and most importantly nurturing my relationship with my husband (which I neglected for the first few years of our marriage) while also trying to be the best teacher possible, became a task I was not willing to tackle. I didn't want to be split. My personality would never allow it. So I knew I had to pick one: teacher or homemaker. I never, ever, ever saw myself as a mom, much less a stay-at-home mom. It's amazing how my plans were trumped by an amazing God who knows what is best for our lives as BecKyle.

Our Briella Bean's Birthday.

The Day I Hemorrhaged. 

The last 3 events all happened in 2012, so when January of 2013 rolled around I wrote about our memorable year. I'll let you read my reflection for yourself.

The Day We Prayed, "Lord, we trust You and know You are sovereign. Therefore, if we're meant to have another child, we know, as the Creator of Life it'll happen whether we're ready or not. Help us let go of our fear of the unknown and trust in Your plan for our life." It seriously was a week or two later that I knew I was expecting our second child. Praying with my husband and trusting Him together was one of the most intimate and life changing moments of my life. It's hard learning to let go and Trust HIM alone, but it's so much easier having your best friend beside you, holding your hand, sharing your fears, and giving them to the One who is worthy of trust. (Read more about this event here.)

Our trip to the Bahamas contained an event that changed my life as well as my sister Mandy's. She had been struggling with postpartum depression and woke me up in the middle night asking for help. We prayed, focused on the gospel, worshiped through music and this was one of the most transforming moments in any relationship I've ever had. To be witness to my sisters life changing events is something I'll treasure forever. I'm in the process of sharing more about that particular event in the near future....

I don't know the day exactly but I began the discipleship process with a very dear friend nearly 3 years ago. I am not the same person I once was because God has worked wonders in my life through His Word and the process He designed for a closer walk with Him.

The day I met each of my little nieces and nephews. It was because of them that I learned I could actually love little kids and want little kids of my own. Starting with our little Gary, each have taught me so much about life and I will forever be grateful for them. I've written about them a few times here...

I'm sure as life goes on, like adding a little baby come April, I'll have more events to add to this. For now it's a pretty good start to a pretty good life. I'm thankful for each of these events and how God used each of them to transform my life. This has been a pretty amazing reflection, thanks for reading along!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The 4 Pages in "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" That Left Me Frustrated

A dear friend gave me three books to read that helped her as she prepared for the birth of their second daughter over two years ago. Now that I'm the same boat I was anxious to feel better equipped for this birth than I was with Beans, so I was thankful to receive them. I dived in to "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" right away. 
Her credentials are pretty impressive (check out her website for more information on this renowned midwife). She has many published books, has attended more than 1200 births from beginning to end, she lectures to other midwives and has even been invited to speak at medical schools, and most impressive yet is that a method devised to deal with a feared childbirth complication was named after her and is now taught to medical professionals around the world. (source) There are so many reasons to trust what she has to say about childbirth.  

And it took only four pages in her book to frustrate me and leave me feeling elated all at once. I am not "broken" despite what the doctors made me believe.

The chapter titled, "The Wrong Environment Can Stall or Reverse Labor" (more precisely pages 138-141) gave reason to my feelings precisely. It's hard to condense Ina May's words and I'd honestly like to give you what she stated in its entirety, but I'll try to sum it up instead... 

Before I do, I'll give you my favorite quote from the section which will help you understand my summation:
The problem is that doctors today often assume that something mysterious and unidentified has gone wrong with labor or that the woman's body is somehow "inadequate" - what I call the "woman's body as a lemon" assumption. For a variety of reasons, a lot of women have also come to believe that nature made a serious mistake with their bodies. This belief has become so strong in many that they give in to pharmaceutical or surgical treatments when patience and recognition of the normality and harmlessness of the situation would make for better health for them and their babies and less surgery and technological intervention in birth. Most women need encouragement and companionship more than they need drugs. 
Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth as well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo.” (p. 141-142)
She began this section with one simple fact: that birth requires a "maximum degree of relaxation". Ina May and her midwife partners witnessed on many different occasions (and gave specific stories of such instances) where as soon as relaxation was lost, labor stopped or reversed. She dived into medical textbooks and interviewed other medical professionals to determine what was said about this phenomena and what she found shocked me. Doctors from the 1800's -1900's wrote about it in their medical textbooks, but recent textbooks deny its existence. Most doctor's today do not believe that the cervix was truly open to the stated centimeters, in other words, they do not trust in the midwife's ability to check openings appropriately and choose to believe that something "mysterious and unidentified has gone wrong with labor" or that the woman's body is now somehow "inadequate" instead. Ina May quoted six different doctors from the 19th century who witnessed this phenomena first hand and wrote about it in medical textbooks with advice on what to do and why. 

Here's the underlying piece to this puzzle and why it fit my feelings precisely: most doctors during this time period knew that an unwelcome or upsetting presence could stall labor. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. There's a few things you need to understand about my doctor and anesthesiologist with Brielle's birth: my doctor wanted me to have an epidural in the worst way and was not on par with my wanting a no-med/intervention free birth and she made that quite clear with her mini temper tantrums as she stomped out of the room stating (not facing me), "You're not any less of a mother if you have an epidural." I know that. I believe that. But it was not my choice, for many reasons. Secondly, I had a few playlists that helped me focus on something other than contractions and the moment my anesthesiologist entered the room (after giving in to my doctor's wishes) he growled, "Turn that crap off." It was not at all the environment I had envisioned or the encouragement I had hoped to receive from the medical community. (They were pieces I left out of Brielle's Birth Story because despite the callousness of the doctors that attended her birth, it was an unforgettable experience that changed my life forever. It was in her story and the happenings afterwards that forced me to have an eternal perspective on life and understand God's sovereignty, so I am truly thankful for it.) What leaves me irked is the lack of humility from the doctors I've encountered.  

Reading her findings made me irritated, writing that paragraph has made me angry. Doctors, do you understand the power you have to heal, discourage, encourage, manipulate and truly hinder or help your patients?

It's truly unfortunate that American women share more horrific stories of childbirth than beautiful positive ones. I desperately want a positive med-free, intervention-free experience and I really, really want encouragement and support for that decision. Sadly we spend more time comparing and judging one another than offering what Ina May has found to be most successful: encouragement and companionship.

Which is why I love sharing birth stories occasionally here, there's no better way to encourage one another. If you are interested in sharing yours, leave a comment and I'd love to get in contact with you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [Things I Always Keep on Hand]

I created this list from this perspective: what are 10 things that must go in the diaper bag or that I almost always have near by?

1. My Bible, Fine Line Markers and a Highlighter! I spend time reading every day and when I come across anything pertaining to God's sovereignty, His grace, purpose verses, &etc. I take note (hence the markers and highlighters). I also never leave the house without it. I do not want to miss an opportunity to share the gospel. Plus it'd be the first thing I'd grab (besides my children) if I had to up and leave in a hurry. Why? I want my words to be His Words because I believe God's Word is the only source of truth in this world and I want to know it so that I know HIM according to HIS WORD. There's no other way to find encouragement or hope in a world where I don't belong.

2. My Journal and/or Notepad. Every day I write at least 5 thank yous (here's why) so I keep it on hand to write them down as my day progresses. I find that much easier than trying to reflect back on my day. I've been doing this since February of 2013 and my thinking has changed dramatically. I have so so so much to be thankful for and as events happen I'm finding reasons to be thankful for each of them - good or bad. 

I also keep a notepad handy because I'm a lister

3. Thieves. It is a wonderful, absolutely wonderful, concoction of essential oils that is a must have for your medicine cabinet. The story behind it is pretty cool and the stuff works in warding off and/or shortening sickness.

4. A Book. Reading and writing are a major part of my life. Partly because I'm certified to teach junior highers and high schoolers english and language arts, but also because some of my best memories and most relaxing moments of my day revolve around a book. Books take me on adventures, challenge my thinking, make me cry, laugh, smile, (etc. etc.), and improve my overall state of mind. I'll always have a book on hand.

5. My Phone. Over the past few years I have received many complaints from friends and family that I'm terrible about answering my phone, so I've made it a point in the last few months to be better about having it around (what's the point of having one if I don't, right?). Voxer has helped and I'm much better about texting. Voicemail is another issue altogether and I've never actually liked talking on it (weird, I know). Plus my days revolve around discipleship and because I'm involved in many discipleship relationships, it is important to be able to talk to one another often. This one can also be a curse though. I'm finding it difficult to truly balance my time between my families needs, getting things done and always having this on hand. 

6. Wipes. With a two year old who got her dinner on the bottom of her feet last night (don't ask me how) this is a must. There's a pack of wipes in the car, diaper bag, bathroom and to save on these expensive boogers there's always a washcloth on the back of her booster seat/high chair. 

7. Chapstick and Lotion. I have lotion in every room in my house. I live in a dry climate and after washing my hands after every diaper change, or every time I have to go to the bathroom myself (thank you pregnancy), or wash the dishes, my hands become extremely chapped. My lips don't take quite the beating as my hands do, but I hate the feeling of chapped lips so much that Burt's Bees is a must in this household. 

8. Coconut Oil. You talk about versatile! It's good to eat, it's good for cough medicine, it's good for cooking, it's good for your skin, it's just good stuff and we'll always have it around. Plus my two year old daughter is convinced that "coco oy-w" is the cure-all for every ailment known to man. 

9. My Computer. This is always easily accessible because (see #4) reading and writing will always be part of my life. It's much easier to use a keyboard and see the words on the screen (to keep up with my overactive brain) when inspiration hits than it is to write in a notebook. I might be confusing you after reading #2, but there's a difference between sketching a few thoughts or writing a list than actually writing writing. (If that makes a lick of sense.)

10. A Drink. This may sound like a duh thing to always have on hand, but if I don't have water on hand, I don't drink it (and neither does my daughter) so it's a necessity. BUT I will always have a cup of tea or coffee or root beer on hand during those special times of my day (see #1, 2, 4 or 9). I find relaxing isn't as enjoyable without a favorite beverage of some sort. Haha, when I go to church I have a bottle of water and coffee or tea. It makes the diaper bag full, but it's well worth having those things on hand.

What are some things you always keep on hand? I'm interested in hearing you add to this list! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Decorating Tips]

I am by no means an expert on decor. Thankfully there's no "interior design" rule book, just your personal imagination and creativity is needed (or Pinterest if you lack inspiration). I thoroughly enjoy it as one of my favorite hobbies and thought about doing it every day. I applied at the Art Institute of Colorado and debated on becoming an interior designer. I chose to be a teacher instead, but decorating is still something I could do every day. Unfortunately, I only have my home to work on so there's a few things I do to scratch this itch. Rather than repainting or completely remodeling any room in my house (or the house altogether) I've adopted a few habits that might benefit anyone who enjoys decorating as much as I do.

You may or may not agree with me, or Melany for that matter, but here's a few decorating tips from two people who enjoy making a space beautiful, comfortable, and creative...

1. Seasonal Decor. I have a tote for Valentines, spring, summer, fall, and many for Christmas. With each season brings new decor and a new -pop- of color. For Valentine's it's a bit of pink, spring is teal, summer is blue, fall is orange, and Christmas is green. Each color is a perfect companion to my overall color scheme and changes things up a bit every few months. I've written about this once before: From Summer to Fall.

Here's another example of my Christmas to Valentine decor...
The greenery at Christmas time definitely made this area a favorite.

Here's an example of my Valentine decor. I'm thinking I'll do another post in the near future of my switch from Valentine to Spring so you can see more of what I mean on seasonal decor.
2. Books! I personally think books are the perfect decor for any age, for any room, for any look - modern, antique, vintage, and anything in between. They add the perfect layering opportunity for shelves, can add a -pop- of color, offer perfect conversation starters, provide inspiration, and so much more.
See the splash of pink provided by a love story titled, "Pride and Prejudice" (perfect for Valentine's)!

Shelving in my kitchen even has a stack of books!

3. Don't let your walls inhibit you. Granted there's only so much you can do when faced with a tiny or odd shaped room, but don't be afraid to play around with the furniture arrangement. Also, don't be afraid to angle or arrange furniture away from the walls. I personally like a u-shaped arrangement for my living room and during the summer I rearrange the living room to be even more open. I challenge you to flip through decorating magazines or Google furniture arrangements and count how many professional interior designers arrange the furniture entirely up against the wall....

4. LET LIGHT IN! There's nothing more homey than a room full of Vitamin D. On the same token, there's nothing more depressing than a room that's never seen sunshine.

5. Find unique pieces. I scour thrift stores for such purposes. It's there I find cheap books, interesting frames, vases or pieces such as this...
I found this gem at a local consignment/antique/clothing store. I told my husband about it and how much I liked it. He purchased it a few months later as my mother's day present. I have an amazing hubby. 
The books on top are cowboy books with unique designs on them (see #2 and #8) and the books leaning against it are places that are on our bucket list (Ireland & Alaska) so we dream of visiting as we flip through them.
This little iJuke was $20 at a local junk store. It's definitely a favorite and since music is always playing at our house, it also hits #7.
I found this tea cup and saucer at a local consignment/antique store as well. It's titled "Harvest" and fits so well into my kitchen's color scheme and I find them elegant. The window pane next to it says, "Bless this home with Love and Laughter". The pane was given to me and the quote was found at Wal-Mart for .99! 
6. Think Memorable. I love to decorate with memories. Pictures, dried flowers from my hubby, vacation memorabilia, decor used in our wedding...

This arrangement is in our bedroom. I found the frames at a thrift store and used wedding cards given to us as mattes behind our engagement pictures. I love how it turned out.
The flower arrangement are dried roses from my hubby (past Valentine's) and other misc. items I nabbed from hikes we enjoyed together.
I created this from bouquets I received after my near death experience and also another set of roses from my hubby. On the back is glued the cards from each person who so thoughtfully sent me those gifts. I put it on display every time I pull out my Valentine's decor, it's a wonderful reminder of all the love and support I felt and that this season is a perfect time to show that same love to others.
7. Think Functional and Comfortable. Obviously there will be some decor in your own that serves no functional purpose what-so-ever. The shelving in my living room is meant to be decorative and that's it. Still, I'm challenging you (and myself) to think about the "why" behind each piece in your home. What purpose does it serve? Do I really need it? Does it add or take away from my family life? (In other words if it inhibits your families ability to function logically or comfortably, get rid of it or move it.) For example, you can still have a home that's adorably decorated and baby proofed, while being comfortable and functional for everyone else. I'm about to enter another one of those seasons with a two year old, a newborn, 2 dogs, and a husband who loves a clean home. Function and comfort need to be at the top of this home-managers list!

8. Think Unifying. I like that word - unifying. If a piece doesn't fit into the overall scheme of a room, I don't display it. Pick pieces that will bring a room together. They don't have to be "matchy-matchy" to be unifying. Think of it like "harmonizing" - where you have distinct, very different voices working together to create a beautiful musical arrangement.

Here's a tip I enjoy quite a bit that relates to this word I like so much: My overall color scheme for the house is light yellow/gold and red, with hints of brown, black, and white trim. My husband is a cowboy/farmer at heart (he grew up on a farm) so I try to incorporate those things he enjoys as well. I love elegance, handsome historical pieces, and pieces with character (so much character that it could tell a story). So I dug deep and realized there's something about a cowboy, with tight jeans, a cowboy hat and riding a beautiful horse that makes me smile (this could also refer to #6 because the first time I actually met my husband was at a party where he wore his cowboy hat and tight jeans. Yes, I swooned.) Added to this is the beauty and character of unique saddle designs. These patterns offer such incredible elegance that I went with it. It's not a "theme" necessarily, but it gives me a starting point for unifying pieces that match our different styles to a tee. Each room varies a bit from this (haha, especially Bean's room with her gray and pink Minnie Mouse decor), but this scheme allows each piece of decor to float easily from room to room.
Wheat is such a unique plant and I love the arrangement it provides. The frame was an old clock dug out of the trash and hung around the vase (if you can see the splash of green) is a medallion with my initial on it that was around my bouquet for my friend Rachel's wedding I was in (see #6). 

You might think the last two have nothing what-so-ever to do with decorating, but I beg to differ...

9. De-Clutter - Too much stuff is overwhelming. When there's so much stuff on your walls, on shelving, on table tops - it's like everything is fighting for attention!

"Look at me!" 

"NO! Look at me!" 

And that's annoying. I still have a bit of de-cluttering to do in my own home. The dishwasher, for example, is one of our clutter zones. It's where we put mail, pens/pencils, piles of books I'm currently reading and much much much more. I hate it and have yet to find a functional and stylish arrangement.

10. Keep it Clean - If your home is a mess, it doesn't matter how much time you spend on the decor. This relates to #9 in so many ways! Clutter is mess and is distracting; so is a dusty, smelly home covered in a layer of dirt and grime. PLUS, the more stuff you have, the more you must clean it. Answer me this: if an item is dirty, does one notice the dirt or the decoration itself?

Hopefully these decorating tips offer some inspiration for you! Don't leave before checking out Melany's tips (and with her adorably elegant, unique bedroom you'll regret it if you do).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Spilling the Beans [January 2015 Edition]

She stood at the end of our bed one morning and announced, "Daddy, I have a booger nose!" She told me the same thing at church the other day, the only difference being she had her finger up her nose as she said it and then handed me a lovely gift.

We bought her princess panties in an attempt to get her interested in using the big girl potty. She was thrilled. We had quite a few accidents, but she seemed much more interested in not getting Cinderella or Belle or Snow White wet. We tried it for a day but she was absolutely NOT interested in going potty in the potty. She didn't want to get the princess' icky, but refused to actually use the potty. She'd sit on it for a few seconds, stand up and announce, "Allllll done!" Trying to explain to her that you actually need to pee or poop in order to be "all done" was unsuccessful. When she started getting annoyed of my asking her if she needed to go potty and responding with an angry pout, we went back to the diaper. It was worth a shot, but she is clearly not ready.

She tooted and laughed, "What's that noise?"

The little booger pretended to hit her head on the table, fake cried, and begged, "Mommy? Hold you?"

Pastor Hod's sermons from Ephesians and Hebrews are now shared on YouTube, which is a wonderful tool with which to stay caught up after missing a lesson because of nursery duty or when it's our turn to teach the youth. One particular day Brielle was so excited to "see" Hod (which you can't, you hear his voice and see the notes), but Briella Bean is enamored with him. In fact, the last time we went to his house she was absolutely thrilled to see Hod but was upset because she didn't have a dress on.

Brielle told us at the dinner table one night that, "Quigley is daddy's."
So I asked, "Is Quigley mommy's dog too?"
She replied, "Quigley is not a dog."

Brielle enlightened her daddy, "I tooted on my tutu!"

For the past couple of months her pajamas must be put on backwards every night, otherwise she wakes up naked. Dressing and undressing herself is a favorite activity. In fact, she wakes up every morning with the following announcement (arms up in the air), "IT'S DRESS UP DAY!" (If only I greeted each day with such enthusiasm. I'm constantly taking lessons from my little two year old.)

She is very complimentary. She made me tear up one day when I walked out of the house with tights, skirt, boots... and hear, "Mommy, you're so pretty!"

She compliments her father as well. When he walked out of the shower with a towel around his waist she told him, "Daddy, I like your dress!"

These days a blanket is "blanklet" and Quigley is "Qluigley". That extra "L" throws things for a loop...

Thanks to one of Beans favorite books, If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff, muffins are not just muffins, she calls them "moose-a-muffins".

Bean: "Mommy! I want lunch."
Mommy: "Okay, what do you want for lunch?"
Bean: "Uhhhhh, a sucker."

Cucumbers are "cute-cumbers"

One evening after dinner we sat at the table and played with Brielle's playdoh. I made a princess and daddy made a monster. The monster ate the princess. Brielle thought that was the greatest story ever. Now she associates the playdoh with making monsters who eat princesses.

Donuts are "o's"

Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel" is still her favorite song. Now, instead of simply dancing to it, she sings along as well...

Library Day is one of her absolute favorite days. We could spend hours there (and sometimes we do) just pulling books off the shelves and reading. Last week the librarian told the kids that the letter of the day will be "r" so we'll be hearing all about robots. Bean will not stop talking about the robots...

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you would have seen this incident...
She got into the flour bin and dumped it all over the floor... (look at that face of innocence... ha!).
She kept telling me, "Uh Oh! My dress is dirty!" and "Mommy! Look at my hands!"
Time with her cousin Abi is some of the best time...

And when she watches princess movies she must wear her princess dress, cuddle with Marley and then dance with daddy afterwards (he's her prince).

Lately she's been obsessed with the books Silly Sally and Silly Sue. When she talks about them she always giggles about how silly they are... I love it.

There's so much about this little girl that I love! She's our little princess. Our little ballerina. I've been joking about the differences I see between her and her little sister already. Bean moved a lot, but her movements were like that of a ballerina. Her sister, however, is intense. I do not remember having sore ribs and stomach muscles with Briella Bean. Bean is my ballerina. Her sister is my karate kid. I wonder if this will hold true through the years...