Thursday, June 23, 2011

Real Food for Mama and Baby



This book is the book I go to for baby nutrition. I've read it at least 3 times cover to cover, and certain chapters I've read many more times. The book consists of three major parts--eating for fertility, eating for pregnancy, and eating for nursing.

I read the book a couple times before I was married so I could make sure that my husband and I were eating the optimal diet for the baby we were praying for. A lot of women sober up their eating habits when they find out they  are pregnant (which is great!) but it seemed to me that it made more sense to begin the strong focus on diet 3-6 months before conception. Health-wise the ONLY input hubby has on the infant consists of whatever state of health his body is at when the baby is conceived. Mama, of course, has a good deal of input during pregnancy, but her health at the time of conception is also imperitively important.

This is not a cookbook, it is more a cross between theory and Nina's personal journey to healthy eating. The "theory" portion lines up with the Nourishing Traditions line of thought (Nourishing Traditions is hands down my favorite cookbook, but it has a lot more than just recipes). I also appreciate the portions of Nina's life that are included, because her perspective on diet is a lot more reasonable than the stringent requirements that books heavier on theory include. In both her life and her book her motto seems to be, "do your best, don't worry about the rest."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Life has been moving slowly lately. Every day and every week seems to take longer than it has the right to, as if each moment is vying for my attention. Sometimes this is hard... Sometimes there are moments that I really would rather skip. But I've been packing a whole lotta living into each week, and that's a good thing.

In the last week I have done a lot of living, a lot of tasting of life. I've tasted loss, and am still working through the grieving process. Some days are great, other days are minute-by-minute. I've tasted the joy that God can give in the midst of suffering. I've tasted the concern a shepherd (or in this case, shepherd's wife) feels when she sees sheep headed in a potentially hazardous direction.  And I'm tasting again the prayerful vigilance kept over a saint preparing to make their final trip Home.

The last couple weeks haven't been easy... but life isn't supposed to be. They have been hour-by-hour days. Days to trust God with. Days to pray through. Days to learn from. Days to drink deeply from this sweet, beautiful, bitter, hard cup called Life.


And in the mean time, I've been counting my blessings.

97. Watching my hubby at a history exibit
98. An afternoon at home
99. Joyfilled thoughts of heaven

100. An old joke told to new people
101. An encouraging letter from a friend
102. Google!!
103. Meeting (again) a modern day heroine of the faith
104. My husband, holding me through the contractions

Elisabeth Gren (previously Elisabeth Elliot) was in town
last week. The day I lost my baby, I was able to personally thank
a woman who helped teach me how to grieve.
105. A husband who truly loves, sacrificing self.
106. A husband who seasons his speech with wisdom
107. Juicy tasty steaks on sale!
108. Tears, every one of them intimately known.
109. Shade on a summer day

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prayer



Monday when I got into work I found out that M'Lady had taken another fall just a few hours before I arrived. She's been falling more frequently the last month, but it has always been a soft thing. But this fall wasn't soft, and it has really done a number on her. She's pretty bruised up and sore.

More than the physical damage, though, I'm concerned about her will. She's been getting weaker the last few months, and the fall seems to have taken the last of her usual spunky get-up-and-go.  If she wants to pull through this there is no physical reason she can't. But she's got to have that will to live.

Please keep her family in your prayers. One of her daughters has seen this coming for longer than even I have, but I don't know that her other three children have. Her 100th birthday is in 10 days, and she has some family and friends coming from quite a distance to see her. I wouldn't keep her here if it is God's time to go, but it would be nice for them to see her one last time.

The One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven



I really think this book should be prefaced with a warning--if you DON'T want to be convicted about witnessing, don't read it!!

Mark Cahill is a wonderful communicator. This means his book is LOTS of fun to read--even if it's also painful to read. He deftly shows the reader the necessity of a Christian witnessing (it, quite simply, is non-optional for a Christfollower). He then proceeds to take all the usual excuses we give and show how they absolutely don't hold water. By the end of the book he has shown the imperitive necessity, removed any mental blocks/excuses, and armed the reader with an arsenal of ideas for ways to witness. He has chapters covering some of the most common questions that the unsaved have along with answers, and ideas for conversational lead-ins. This book is about as close as you will get to having a experienced "witnesser" hold your hand and walk you through the process. Definitely a must-read for any Christian (whether or not they are interested!! :P)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meet Mr. Smith



This book by Eric and Leslie Ludy (mostly Eric) was NOT what I expected when I picked it up as a newlywed, but it is hands down the best book I can recommend on sex to young, unmarried folks. Eric treats the subject with delicacy, never stepping outside the realm of what would be appropriate. The book itself is written as a story about Eric himself, when he decides to try to have an interview with Great Sex or "Mr. Smith." In order to earn the rare priveledge, he must go through Mr Smith's four bodyguards--the first of which is Purity. At the end of the book, after finally earning the privileged interview, Eric, along with the reader, makes a surprising discovery.

 When I say this is good for "young folks" I do mean pretty young, I think this book is appropriate in the teen years at the point which the young person begins to experience pressure in the sexual arena (whether outside pressure from peers, or inward pressure from self). Obviously, this age will vary with each individual. This book is NOT about details, instead Eric focuses on having a Godly, Biblical perspective on the topic, particularly focusing on those in their single years.

At the end of the book Leslie has a chapter that deals with some "FAQs" that young people have on the topic. This chapter (which is outside of the story portion that takes up most of the book) is the only portion of the book that goes into detail, but Leslie does so in a godly reserved way, keeping the veil drawn over the bedroom. The book can be useful with or without this section, though if parents prefer not to have their  teens read this part they should consider answering the FAQs themselves. There is a reason the questions are "frequently asked." :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow


This book was an excellent look at the part of contentment in the lives of Christian women. Linda Dillow's way of communicating truths is readable, memorable, effective and challenging.  I found myself encouraged to take a closer look at my life to see both the positive parts where I' doing well, and also the not-so-great parts that could use improvement. I could recommend this book to any woman, whether or not she believes contentment is difficult for her. I don't know a woman that WOULDN'T benefit from a bit of encouragement in this area!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day by day



This post was written in the middle of last week, and scheduled to be posted today. I've decided to go ahead and post it, because despite what my husband and I learned this weekend everything I wrote here is STILL true. I'll add some further thought at the end, with this weekend in mind. 

 *~*~*~*~*

Early last week a sister of mine asked me what wonderful works God has been doing in my life. At this moment in time, I feel almost silly for giving the testimony that God has given me. Aren't testimonies supposed to be stories of something gone horribly wrong, "but God..."? Is it really a testimony if the entire thing is a list of the blessings God has given?

I hear stories of the triumphs of other Christians who endure unspeakable hardships and yet come through them rejoicing and praising God. The stories are motivating, but they have also almost given the mindset that the most important time to praise God is when bad things are happening. Of course, it IS important to give thanks even when it is hard, but that isn't the whole story. We are to give thanks for the unpleasant things, but we are ALSO to rejoice in the good things as well!

In a most recent display of his providence, the Lord provided my hubby and I with a 14lb bag of super tasty farm-fresh veggies, compliments of a lady I've only met a handful of times. The Lord's mercies truly ARE new every morning, and He provides for the most practical of our needs!!

So, without further ado, God has tremendously blessed my family. Tremendously!! It isn't that we have come into a grand monetary inheritance, but the daily provision of our needs is wonderful to see. God has graciously provided for our needs, in ways that aren't always recognized or appreciated immediately for their worth. Looking back, though, I am able to see his wisdom and love as he directs our paths day-by-day.

I had no idea when I wrote what was above how quickly God would give me the opportunity to test my words. Can I praise God when things are hard, as well as when they are good? To be very, very honest--it took me awhile. I never doubted God when I learned that He'd taken our baby home to be with Him. I never doubted that He would use it for good, and that His will was best, and that if THAT was what HE willed for US--then that is exactly what I would have chosen for myself.  

But acknowledging and submitting to God's will isn't the same as thanking him for it. My husband was able to thank God almost immediately. I remember him praying with me after we'd left the doctors office, pulled over in front of a Starbucks, grieving to hard to drive further, and he thanked God. He didn't understand--we still don't understand--but he thanked God anyway. I tried to pray along, but I knew--and God knew--that the words I mentally repeated weren't heart-true. It took God's strength to enable me to thank him for the loss of our Baby. To enable me to see that even this is a gift. 


I decided last week that it was time to continue my march to 1000 Gifts. I continued keeping up with in my journal for awhile, but it has been a long time since I added anything new either to the journal or the blog. I didn't realize when I made the decision to start counting again how much I would need this today, or how hard some of the gifts would be to count. I didn't realize that the same day I finally get around to posting the gifts related to my baby's birth announcement would be the day I start counting the hard gifts after my baby went to Jesus. 




70. Ducklings shepherded across the street
71. The ability to invent recipes (sometimes!)
72. Stuffing jalapino peppers with my man
73. The opportunity to ease my husbands burdens
74. The way my husband's eyes light up as he's telling me about his latest project.
75. Baby Dreaming while pushing a shopping cart
76. happy secret's shared
77. The look on my husbands face when I told him about baby!
78. A single rose.
79. Sharing joy with others
80. My Mother's Day Corsage
81. Paper, glue and scissors--crafts!
82. Sharing the Lord with those who don't know Him
83. SUMMER BREAK!!!!!
84. A nap in the afternoon
85. Date night at home, no interruptions
86. Hagen Daz coffee ice-cream (a gift from my man who won't touch the stuff himself)
87. Farm fresh veggies--14lbs of them as an unexpected gift!
88. The firm grip of my husband's hand around mine, as we waited in a darkend Dr's office
89. The gentle, sweet support of my Midwife as she told us what to expect... when we're not expecting anymore
90.  A husband who is loving, supportive, encouraging. I don't have words for this gift, only God knows what my husband has been to me the past three days.
91. My church. It is a house of love.
92.  The mothers at church, who in their support during this time model for me how to grieve in a Godly way--not as those who are without hope.
93. Flowers, sent by dear friends when they heard the news
94. A letter, written by a young friend
95.
 The chance to spend an afternoon with a dear sister
96.Sharing a Schlotzsky's Original,Dip Cones, and good conversation. :-)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

To Everything there is a Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:...
A time to be born, and a time to die...
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecc 3:1,2a,4
 This past Sunday evening, a week ago now, I began bleeding. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to concern me. I've been told that it is fairly common to experience minor bleeding in the first trimester, so (after sending an immediate email to my midwife) I calmed down and went to bed. Not to sleep, but to bed.

The next day I had some spotting, but no more bleeding. My midwife told me that the amount I experienced most likely wasn't a problem, but she wanted to schedule me for a sonogram just in case. My hubby and I had decided not to get a sonogram unless there was a medical reason to, and this sounded like a good medical reason. So I said go ahead. She scheduled it for Friday.

Tuesday I had almost zero spotting, and was feeling very calm. I assumed this was just "one of those things" and was pretty okay with everything. I had started to feel some unusual aches and pains, but they were quite mild--normal "pregnancy" stuff, I assumed. I was more concerned about waking up congested that morning than I was about my baby.

Late Wednesday evening there was more bleeding. Less this time, but definitely there. This time I called my midwife--though I wondered how the dear lady (who delivered my siblings, my husband, and his siblings, plus about 3,000 other babies in the last 35 years) ever got any sleep. It was that evening, before we realized there was more bleeding, that we decided to tell our immediate family about the emergency sonogram. Up till then it just hadn't seemed necessary.

The next morning I weighed myself.  I've been keeping various stats on my pregnancy written on a calendar, including my gradual weight gain. Staying at a healthy weight has never been an issue with me, and a couple weeks ago I crossed my personal weight pregnancy "threshold." Seeing the numbers tip our scale was a celebration! I was officially in "pregnancy" weight range!! Thursday morning, though, my weight was down, nearly 2lbs. 1/3 of the weight I gained over the last (almost) 3 months had just melted away sometime since I'd last stepped on the scale. I was no longer in the "pregnancy" weight range.  I remember vividly stepping out of the bathroom that morning. I felt a realization wash over me--a realization I quickly shoved down as an unreasonable fear--that my baby was gone.

Friday I was exhausted and emotional. Unreasonably emotional, in my opinion at the time. I needed plenty of support and hugs from my hubby--even if the little bit of extra snuggle time after we cleaned the house put us at risk of being a wee bit late for the sonogram. I was, privately, concerned enough that I took a pregnancy test that morning "just to make sure." I knew if something had happened the hormones wouldn't be out of my system yet. But somehow, seeing those two instantly appearing pink lines gave me a little bit of assurance to hold on to. According to the test, at least, I was still pregnant. I also wasn't looking forward to the sonogram, as sonograms in the first trimester aren't nearly so pleasant as ones when the baby is more visible. But it was totally worth it to see my baby's heart beat!!

We went back to the darkened room, my husband, my midwife, her assistant, the sonographer (is that what they are called?) and me. I was instructed to lie down on the bed. We tried the regular sonogram first. She rolled the little tool all over my belly, but there was nothing. I knew something wasn't right. At nearly 11 weeks my baby should have been there--even if he was small. (A little bigger than a Kumquat, according to my week-by-week pregnancy guide). But I still hoped.

Second choice was the T-V sonogram--though not very pleasant, it gave a much better picture. With it the Sonographer found my little sack. It was a dark spot she zoomed in on. She had been telling us what we were seeing as we went along, but she didn't need to tell me what I was seeing then. I've never seen a sonogram before--and always thought those fuzzy little pictures shown by excited mothers or siblings at church were extremely difficult to decipher. But that still, motionless, black shape in my womb wasn't any challenge to decipher, even for somebody who'd never seen one before.

Our baby was gone.

Our midwife took a few minutes with us to gently explain what had happened and what we could expect over the next few weeks. She told us the miscarriage hadn't been a recent thing--it was recent within the last month, but it had been longer than a week. The bleeding was a result of my body purging--by the time I got the first signal that something was wrong my baby had been gone for at least several days, probably more.

My hubby reacted first--his first tears broke in the office. He'd so looked forward to being a daddy.

I was slower--it always takes me several hours before I can react to a major thing. I was sad at first, of course, but more in a stunned "my life isn't following the course I thought it would" way. But that evening, while my littlest brother was playing a rendition of Yankee Doodle Boy, it hit me. No longer was I processing how my own life changed with those few minutes in the sonogram. No longer was I mentally adjusting to a new plan for the next year, the need to find a new home for the eagerly given hand-me-down-maternity clothes and adjust our vacation plans. No longer was the thought that we will have other children in the future a comfort.

Instead all I could think about was that black, motionless shape in my womb. That individual that I'll never be able to meet on this earth. That tiny little heart that wasn't beating anymore. And how very, very, very badly I wanted it to beat. I would have done anything to make it beat again.

*~*~*~*

All that happened just two days ago. The grieving process has been difficult, particularly when combined with the physical discomfort of loosing a baby (though the serious cramping has yet to come). But there have been blessings in the storm. I remember almost instantly when the grieving hit my mind went to New Jerusalem.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
I know that God is going to use this in our lives, in my life, to work some greater good. I have absolute,unshakable faith that God had a reason. My baby didn't just die and go into nothingness, my baby is with Jesus. Someday we will meet, and Mama's arms will be full for the first time. I'll get to know my baby then--personality, hair, their smile. I'll know whether my baby took after me or my husband (maybe? Do glorified bodies still show that? I don't know! I kinda hope so, though).

Years ago I heard Elisabeth Elliot say she had no regrets about her first marriage--even though her husband was martyred just 3 years after their wedding, she would have done it all over again, even knowing the pain. It is better to love and loose, than to never love at all. I didn't grasp that at the time. I thought maybe she would have chosen differently--the pain of Jim dying would still be there had they just been friends, of course, but not the devastating pain of widowhood.

I understand what she meant now. I have no regrets about my pregnancy. I know that this baby was created out of the union of my husband and my love, and that while I was never able to hold my baby, Jesus has. Together my husband and I created a life that will be able to praise God in heaven for eternity. And though we are separated here on earth temporarily, eternally speaking it will be for just a moment. If I'd been given the choice between not being pregnant, and becoming pregnant but miscarrying at 8 weeks, I would have chosen the second. Even knowing the devastating pain of lost motherhood. Because it was worth it.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”Psalms 139:13-16 (ESV)

Job 14:5 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
God knew when he made my baby that my child would only have 8 short weeks. He knew my child would never have the opportunity to serve Him on earth, my baby would never be able to tell someone about Jesus, never be able to minister to a hurting soul, never have the opportunity to bless other Christians or comfort the lost. And yet God still created my baby. He still thought my baby was worth it. And so do I.

I'll close with a song that has comforted me (even if I have cried every time I've heard it. You're warned.). :-)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mama's Belly Butter

 After having the inspiration to make my own bath products I was in a quandry as to where to start. It didn't take long to realize that at the moment the biggest need I have in bath products is a deeply moisturizing and protecting skin product. While my pregnancy is still relatively new, I've already noticed the gentle changes in body shape. Warned by my sister in law (who is due any day now) I have been religiously applying lotion to stech-mark "danger zones"  morning and evening.

Anyone who has bought lotion, particularly the thicker "cremes," knows that that stuff is practically gold, and is often priced per oz. And I'm going through it like it is water!! Either I needed to cut back on the lotion application, or I needed to find a more economical method of skincare. Therefore,  my very first attempt at a spa product couldn't have come at a more perfect time!!



Recipe:
Coconut Oil
Shea Butter
Mango Butter
Avacado Butter
Cocoa Butter

I used one heaping tbs of each ingredient, and two of the Coconut Oil and Shea Butter.


I then placed the bowl on top of a little pot (my home made version of a double boiler), and gently melted the oils together.


This is the view from the top.


After melting the oils together I noticed a few impurities. So I placed a loosely woven cloth over a funnel, and used it to filter the oil as I poured it into the jar. I let the butter cool a few minutes, then gently mixed in some essential oils for smell. I used Rose and Ylang-Ylang. The scent was okay, but I don't think the two mixed very well. Next time I'll use one or the other, or maybe leave it unscented.


This is the finished product, before it has cooled. When it cools it is much thicker (not liquid at all, though thinner than cream).

My first impression of this was that it is VERY oily!! This may seem obvious considering the ingredients, but I frequently use coconut oil on my skin and it seemed to absorb into my skin much faster. This takes about a half hour to fully absorb.

I gave the blend a few days, and once I got used to it I was actually very impressed. I have been a long term sufferer of dry skin, particularly as I moved past the teen years. Since I started using this stuff my skin has become very comfortable to live in!! No more dryness to speak of. Hurray!!!

In the next try I'll probably try to find some ingredient that will increase the creaminess and possibly help the absorption to move more quickly, but overall I'm fairly pleased with this first experiment in homemade creams and lotions!


[This post was written a couple weeks ago--I just now got around to posting it!! A few older references in there--such as the fact that my sister in law already had her baby. The post is still good, though]

What the ingredients are known for:
Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil--this stuff is generally good to have around--whether used on the inside or the outside!!

Shea Butter--used to fade scars and stretchmarks. Is a powerful moisturizer and readily absorbed into the skin. Made from the fruit of the African Shea Tree.  Solid at room temperature.

Cocoa Butter--One of the most stable fats known and high in natural antioxidants. Used to prevent stretch marks, and moisturize skin. Solid at room temerature, melts with skin contact.

Mango Butter--A natural emmolent, also known for its regenerative properties. An effective treatment of dry skin, though it is so solid at room temperature it usually needs to be used in combination with other oils. Clears blemishes and heals minor wounds and skin cracks. Prevents and heals stretch marks.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Backwards...



It's Five Minute Friday again!! I'm joining Lisa Jo this week over at Gypsy Mama to write for 5 minutes on the prompt of her choice. This is the pure, unedited, love of the word here, it won't (ever!) be perfect-but that's WHY it is perfect.

Here are the rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.


The prompt today is: 


Backwards...






GO:


Backwards. My days are backwards when I get up in the morning and head to the computer instead of my Bible. My days are backwards when I get more excited about a good sale at my favorite deal spot, than I get over the latest insight that the Lord has given me. 


My conversations are backwards when I get more wrapped up in what I'm DOing and what I want to be DOing than what God is teaching me and what I am becoming. 


My priorities are backwards when I focus more on having a clean house and orderly surroundings than I do on what my husband needs or what my God desires. 


It is so easy to let our days slip through our fingers in a backwards, unlived mess--all the while thinking that we are handling what is most important. I cleaned the house! I had a good conversation! I found the most aMAZing deal! But those things don't matter in eternity. What really matters is if we live our days front-wards. God first. Family second. Love, hope, joy. 


Are YOU living your days backwards or frontwards? 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Plans



I'm a book lover, and for years one of my fond dreams has been to have a large collection of inspiring, uplifting books. I don't just want Bible studies and inspirational books (though those are wonderful!), I want to have a good, solid collection of godly, uplifting fiction as well. Jesus himself spoke in parables--fictional stories designed to teach life lessons. I personally can often get more out of a good fictional story than out of a heavy dissertation on how to live the Christian life, so it stands to reason that my children will be the same way.

My husband shares my love for a good story, and has, in fact, already written and printed his first children's story book. Though we weren't married at the time, he wrote it with his own children in mind. He also brought his own hefty store of books with him into marriage. We long since have run out of shelf space, and now pile books on the shelves in whatever manner packs them most tightly--though it may not look the prettiest.

As important as good books are to me, it has also become important to write my own review of each of these books. I find that some books that others give rave reviews of I personally find disappointing. Other books seem to be like buried treasure--I feel like the first to stumble upon their riches. When I sit down to write reports on the books I read it helps me remember as the years go by which books are worth their weight in gold, which are best as nice shelf decorations, and which really ought not be read again.

The past month or two I've done a lot of reading, but haven't taken the time to record the books I've read. Therefore, next few weeks week I'm going to focus on posting short book reports on what I've been reading this month. My reading has had a lot of variety--from fiction, to diet, to Christian living. So stay tuned!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Every Day...



It's Five Minute Friday again, so I'm joining Lisa Jo over at Gypsy Mama. Here is a recap of the rules:

  1. Indulge in five rich, delicious minutes of pure writing.
  1. Tell your readers you’re linking up here and invite them to dig in too.
  1. And most importantly, go visit, read, and compliment the five minute chef who served something up right before you.

Today the prompt is, "Every day..."

GO (5:25pm)

Every day I wake up to the sun shining through the windows in the master bed room. I turn and look and find my husband beside me. Nearly every morning I decide that breakfast can wait another 15 minutes, that the morning is to valuable to hurry up and move, that it's worth more to stay in bed a few extra minutes and snuggle close to a husband who is still asleep.

Then on with the morning, email, breakfast, house tidying--wondering if I have something to toss together for lunch (or forgetting to wonder until noon). There is a husband to bid goodbye, and work to be done, a house to be cleaned, a schedule to keep. Life doesn't seem to wait until I'm ready to go to the next thing. It's one thing after another. Except for those 15 minutes in the morning. Those belong to me.

In all the rush I hope I'm not just hanging on to life, but living each moment. I want to grasp life every day and pull out every drop of goodness. I want to be the woman that, 20 years from now, my husband (who sees the best and worst) can say lived every day to the fullest--never complaining, never worrying, never frustrated or angry. I want the woman in my head, the ideal woman, the one who loves Jesus and lives for him moment by moment instead of getting too busy, I want that woman to become me every day, instead of just my ideal.

STOP (5:30)