Friday, December 9, 2016

Life inside the NICU

It's a land flowing with breast milk and hand sanitizer. It's where people get excited about bowel movements and weight gain.  It's noisy, yet quiet. The only sound you really hear is the constant buzzing of monitor alarms going off.  

I sit there trying to tune out the conversations that happen on the other side of the curtain. As I feed my baby and marvel at her miniaturized toes I hear phrases like, "morphine drip" and "not going home till after Christmas". My heart sinks. I fight back tears and realize the struggle that so many parents are faced with.  I'm grateful that my struggle is not as bad as some. I'm humbled because my struggle is not as bad as some.

This place is a world all in its own.  These tiny humans have good days and bad, just like the rest of us, yet theirs is all about survival. None of us want to ask the question, "when", we just want to see our babies make it past another test of strength.  We know that day will come. And some of us hope that day will come.  Again...tears at the thought of any parent faced with that.

Tubes and wires everywhere.

Tiny takes on a whole new meaning.

Cecelia's moment in the spotlight.

I have not stepped outside in over a week, so I'm claiming this sunset last night for Cecelia and me!







Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sometimes life does not go as planned.

I've been meaning to write this for a while, but life gets in the way. And now I'm forced into putting all that day to day stuff aside.  So here I am...34 weeks pregnant and on hospital bed rest, awaiting the birth of our FIFTH child.  I wasn't planning for my water t break a few days ago, but it did.

As I was saying, life doesn't always go as "planned". I wasn't planning on being a new mom again, while many of my friends are moving into the grandparents' stage. And, I certainly wasn't planning on being a "high-risk" patient, diagnosed with gestational diabetes and preparing for a baby to be sent straight to the NICU. 

I am a planner.  THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN! My daughter had her first swim meet this weekend, my husband needed to go on a business trip, I don't even know if there's food in the house! I didn't finish my "thank you" cards for all those precious ladies who blessed me with a baby shower. And I haven't even begun to prepare for baby! I didn't wash all the windows or shampoo the carpet, I didn't go room to room cleaning out junk and organizing (I realize this all sounds like the thoughts of a crazy person - but these are my crazy thoughts...) Suddenly, my family is left to fend for themselves, I'm strapped to a bed with tubes and wires, and I have no plan....

That's the vulnerable reality.  I've lost control over the situation.  And boy, do I like to be in control! But, as I am being viciously reminded, that's a downfall. And that's where faith needs to take over. There is a plan...and it's Christ's; to rely on His power, His promises, and His peace...and that's all that really matters. Everything else will come together. In fact, it already is. Amazing friends and family have come to the rescue (He is using them - and at the same time, reminding me that I don't have to do it all).  My little family is coming together as a team and pulling through. Yeah, it's uncomfortable for them, but they're doing it. And me...I'm here to decide if I will let my fears and worries take control, or will I sit back (I'm doing a lot of sitting) and just trust Christ, and appreciate the tender beauty that comes from all of this. 

As I write this, I look out the window to see snow gently falling. Christmas music flows through my headphones. It is a time of peace, not chaos.  It is my Savior's reminder that He is here to take over.  

And so I will let Him do just that. 

Tomorrow I will be induced. We will meet our baby girl. We will rejoice in the beauty of life; this gift of God...this early Christmas gift (who we still need to name!!!).

My one and only "bump" photo.

Forced relaxtion. I couldn't help but think of those photos people take of their feet when they're on vacation, with a pool or beach in the background. Well, here's my little "paradise"...puffy feet and these things on my legs to keep me from getting blood clots.

At least someone's happy to get popsicles!





Thursday, December 4, 2014

There's a reason they call it "detox".


So, November came and went, and for some reason there seemed to be a whole lot of junk in my diet. It all started with the pie auction at church, then came my birthday, then came my daughter's birthday, then came Thanksgiving...plus eating out more than normal and SNACKING. The intake got to be overwhelming and I knew I needed to get back on track with healthy eating. Yes, I do splurge from time to time. I'm not a health nut freak. But by and large, I've developed a habit of eating way less processed foods and a lot more homemade and natural foods. 

With all that junk came the need to "cleanse", so I went with the Dr. Oz 3-day Detox. There's two sides to this whole detox business. Side one says that the modern day diet (especially in America) is so filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients that we are practically killing ourselves just by what we eat. Side two says that our bodies are designed to naturally rid us of the toxins we ingest and that detoxing is not necessary. I lean towards side one, of course. So, here's how the 3 days played out:

Day 1 - Morning went pretty easily. The drink tasted good; a little sour, but filling. The lunch drink was a little harder to swallow. In fact, there were so many ingredients that went into it that I could barely get it all in the blender. Speaking of blenders...you need a FULL SIZE one, not an individual one like the Magic Bullet. And it had better be a pretty good one, otherwise you'll be consuming chunky, cold soup!  

By midday, I was starting to feel some "side effects". I started to get a splitting headache. That was the hardest part of the day. I also struggled with the fact that it was one of those frigid cold days and I was out and about a lot. Normally, I can handle it better, but since all I was eating were cold smoothies I was a little irritated. By evening, all I wanted was a bowl of nice hot soup!  The detox bath did help and I had another cup of green tea at night. 

Day 2 - This day was the most bizarre day. I had this strange flushed feeling all day and I still had the headache until the afternoon. Also, on this day I figured out that the dinner drink was my favorite, so I had that as my snack, as well. Loved the cayenne pepper in the drink. It gave it a little kick. Also, by this day I was feeling a little extra fatigued. My workout in the morning was a real struggle. About halfway through this day is when the detox really started to kick in, or shall I say...the elimination process. 

Day 3 - The morning was kind of hard. I was a little queasy and definitely felt like I needed to be close to a bathroom. It never did get "ugly" though. Thank goodness! I will say this (without being too graphic)...what goes in must come out! Okay, enough said!  By nighttime, I was really wanting to eat something that didn't come through a straw. I have a new respect for anyone who has to have their jaw wired shut.  A liquid diet gets old pretty quickly. 

So that's the gist of it. I'm glad I did it for the following reasons:
1.  It got me back on track to eating healthy. 
2.  It reminded me of the fact that food in its natural state is really good.
3.  I just felt overall healthier for doing it. 
4. It helped me break the desire for sugar and wheat, two things I want to eat less of and I don't even crave them at this point. 

Although losing weight wasn't my primary goal, I did lose about 4 pounds. But, I don't consider this weight as fat loss. It was more water weight. It did help clothes fit a little better, so that's a bonus! 

Here's something else to consider...credit to Dr. Oz, but I'd like to one-up him on one thing...using the three days to "cleanse" spiritually. It's good to go into this plan with scripture to mediate on through out it. There are moments of weakness during the detox, but letting those moments be a springboard for focusing on Christ builds strength and faith, kind of like a spiritual fast. 

Here are the side effects I experienced while doing the detox: headaches, fatigue, irritability, flushed feeling, and slight nausea. Keep in mind this is an elimination of toxins. Just like with a heroine addict...it's going to challenge the body, but the outcome is worth it. 

Would I do it again? Yes, but with clean eating (hopefully) it shouldn't be a regular practice. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

What do you value, Ladies?


I'm inspired to write this post for two reasons.  First, with my daughters in mind, I see a real social issue that I want to avoid.  Second, the Holy Spirit seems to be nudging me on this topic, and when the Holy Spirit "speaks"...well, it can be like a constant nagging.  But none the less, I feel compelled to write on it...

If there is one thing, in this day and age, that I want my daughters to know it is this:
Your value does not come from how many "likes" you get.  Your value does not come from how many "friends" or "followers" you have.  Your value does not come from posting scantily-clad pictures of yourself on the internet for all the world to "oogle" at.  No, your value comes from the One who created you.  The One who knit you together in your mother's womb.  The One who knew you before anyone in the world knew you.  He created you beautiful in His image.
I know it's tempting to take a picture here, but please....don't!

So, why do I feel the need to share this with you.  Because, my friends, we are living in an era when values are down-spiraling like a meteor headed for earth.  This "look at me" society we have created has forever changed the way many of us live our lives.  And...I know how exhausting, frustrating, disappointing, and damaging it can be to put all our energy into how we look and what others think of us.  Personally speaking, it can feel like a rush when we know that all eyes are on us.  But it's temporary and then it controls us and we want more.  The truth of the matter is that beauty is fleeting and we can only chase it for so long.  The Lord knows that eventually it will escape us, yet He will still love us.  Can we say that about all the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram admirers (or whatever else there is out there now to showcase ourselves with)?

It saddens me to scroll through Facebook and see posts that clearly scream, "I need approval".  Especially when all God wants us to know is that His approval has far more value in it...eternal value.

You see, I am quite passionate about this.  Not just because I am trying to raise our daughters to a "Higher" standard, but also because I know what it's like to be that woman that's way too focused on her outward appearance.  Ladies!!!!  It doesn't have to be so difficult!  We don't have to starve ourselves.  We don't have to fret if we don't find the right outfit.  (Do you know that it used to be my very first thought if I had any place to go, "WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?  I HAVE TO BUY A NEW OUTFIT!") We don't have to spend $$$$ on beauty treatments, hair styles, and the latest miracle anti-aging serums. And we certainly don't have to go seeking approval.  Like I said, it gets to be exhausting.  Not only that, but I believe it disappoints God.

Now, this doesn't mean we're to turn in the opposite direction and start shopping at Walmart in our pajamas!  I still believe it is important to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and put an effort into what we wear.  But, with that said, we certainly don't have to be obsessed with it!

So how can we be happy without having to parade ourselves or strive to look "perfect".  Seek God, seek His wisdom (start with the book of Proverbs), and give it up to Him.  Just let go of the pressure!  Saying, "Lord, all I want is You" is so freeing!  The benefit is a richer, deeper walk with Christ, more authentic relationships, and a whole LOT less disappointment!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Gospel according to Hollywood

The other day I watched a movie about a young woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  It was a sad, tear-jerker of a movie.  Yes, I cried, but not because of the drama that was played out.  I can't help but cry when I think about how wrong the world has it when it comes to death.

The movie focused on a young woman's life and the relationships she had with friends and family.  She was single, successful, independent, strong, and "loose" (for a lack of a better term).  She prided herself on the intention to stay single and be able to "hook-up" when ever she wanted.  She was the picture of what society expects the 21st century woman to be.  I won't even go into how far we've fallen off the morality wagon there. 

In the movie, the woman's view of God was Woopie Goldberg and heaven, of course, was big fluffy, white clouds in the sky overlooking the world below (pretty original, huh).  That's the disturbing part.  People, by and large, want to get their spiritual information from the delusional minds that pump these movies out purely for entertainment.  Newsflash!!! Life and eternal life, for that matter, are not dictated by Hollywood or anyone else for that matter.  Only God Almighty has the true version of it and He gave us a whole book on the matter. It happens to be the best selling book ever, but for some reason, I don't think everyone is reading it.  Huh...go figure...

In this particular movie, there was no question about whether or not there was a God, except for when this woman posed the question to the guy she was sleeping with (oh, and of course, falling in love with).  His response was basically, "I dunno know".  And then she replied, "I admire people who have faith.  They're so sure of what they believe."  (That's not word for word.  I'm just paraphrasing.)  That was the best line of the whole movie though!  Yes, we are sure and YES, it is faith.  But it's also truth, proven truth.  The problem is, most people don't want to accept the truth.

There are only two destinations when we die, Heaven or hell.  There is only one true God, Jesus Christ.  People refuse to believe it because they don't want to give up living life by their rules.  They want their pleasures and don't want to give them up.  They think when they have to give them up then life is no longer fun.  I know I didn't want to give up what I enjoyed.  Then, when I finally let go of it, I realized the freedom in giving up those desires.  I realized the joy in pleasing God.  I realized His love for me was so much more important than seeking ungodly relationships, seeking entertainment in dark and depressing meat-market bars, and living life on my terms.  I realized the true blessing of letting go.

What really had me in tears while watching this movie is that I know so many people like the main character.  They think that they are "pretty good" and they deserve Heaven.  They are not concerned in the least that there might be a chance that they could live in eternal torment...alone...without any loved ones and without God. They think they are okay in thinking that there is a higher power, but they aren't really interested in knowing too much about him.  They'll play it "safe" and pray once in awhile, but don't really know how or what to pray to.  They'll do some good deeds, like volunteer at a shelter or give money to a charity.  They think that will score some points with whoever is in charge "up there".

How do they know this is the way it is?  Because the all knowing minds that produce their entertainment make "feel good" movies.  And if it feels good, it must be right...right???

Here's the thing...it's wrong!  So wrong! I hate that so many people are steered in this wrong direction.  I hate that they don't want to open up a Bible and seek the truth.  I hate that people I love will miss out.  It's as if the Holy Spirit gives me a vision of tormented souls and it shakes me to the core, because I want nothing more than for everyone I know to accept Christ's invitation for eternal life with Him...in paradise.  It's the only way to get there.  Sadly, it's not a very popular idea to sell in the movie industry.  Even sadder, there will still be more movies than will lead people away.  In all fairness, though, we can't blame the "big bad Hollywood" for a person's wrong thinking.  In the end...each person has a choice and no one can make it for them. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Making Time For Him




I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1

When I first read that verse my mind wants to think of a living sacrifice as simply taking care of myself:  eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, etc.  Yeah, yeah....I got that.  But really, what is the sacrifice that God is looking for?  TIME!  That make's me think of the rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland".  "Time?!  Time?!  Who's got the time?!"

Giving Him time is the sacrifice He wants from me.  Time means I give my mind to Him.  I think about Him.  I included Him.  I need Him.  It's the least I can do ("your reasonable service"), considering all that He has done for me.  What does that entail?  If you're like me you might be thinking, "I have so little time as it is!"  Oh yes, we have SOOO much going on in our lives.  Shuttling children around, taking care of our homes, spending time with friends and family, working, exercising, and the list goes on and on and on...  But name one thing on your list that is more important than spending time with God.  I know I can't.  

How do we do it?  Here's a start...and this is a HUGE step in the right direction...TURN OFF THE T.V.!  I believe this is one (if not THE) single biggest problem with American Christians today.  When I gave up secular t.v. programming I freed my mind of the garbage that Satan wants me to focus on rather than God.  Yes, our family still owns a t.v. (eh hmmm...okay, more than one...), and yes, we have satellite programming.  But of all the 300+ channels, we probably watch 10 of them.  Seven are Christian programming, one is PBS (educational children's programming), two are Disney (and the jury's still out on the necessity of that one - quality has gone WAY down in recent years), and then there's the news (which is becoming less and less important because of all the smut stories in it).  I can't even remember the last time I watched the FOOD Channel and I love cooking shows!  But the thing is, even a cooking show can pull me away from time with God.  Instead, if I'm looking for a particular recipe, I'll search for it on Pintrest and then I've saved myself some time.  

I'm not saying that watching something like the Food Channel or a DIY show is a sin, but it's worth asking the question...does it consume time that I can be spending with the Lord?  Do I walk away closer to Him?  Well, there is probably some gray area there.  We can use the knowledge we gain from it to bless others and in turn bless God.  I'm not saying STAY AWAY from it.  Just judge the time spent on it. Everything in moderation.  
And then there is the just, plain darkness of t.v.  That's where things get heavy.  I will NOT waste anytime with crime dramas, murder mysteries, reality shows, crude humor, mindless sitcoms, soap operas, anything that focuses on witch craft, vampires, zombies, sex, fortune telling, or infidelity.  Basically, anything that does not include the Lord and glorify Him.  I just won't do it.  It fills the mind with darkness and is of the devil.  How can I grow closer to God if I'm filling my mind with such oppressive material?  If I truly claim to be a believer in Jesus, but entertain myself with things of the world, I'm not walking the walk.  I'm holding myself back.

I'm also not going to fill my mind with music, movies, books, or magazines that glamorize the above listed things.  They all hold me back.  How can I have the mind of Christ, when I'm filling with songs about "cheatin' hearts" or getting drunk?

Here's the follow-up verse, for the above reference one:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

You know, it is possible to be entertained without having to give our thoughts over to things of the devil.  As a family, we do enjoy movies and entertainment that includes God; that have an ounce of morality to them.  We come away feeling blessed.  I can't say that about those other "so-called" forms of entertainment.  In fact, I wouldn't even call them entertainment.  I see them simply as the devils hooks.  I won't let him get a hold on me anymore!
 
 

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Love Your Enemies" ...Say what???

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."  Matthew 5:43-48
 I read this passage of scripture and it almost brings tears to my eyes.  Never has it been more needed than at this moment.  When I feel beaten down Christ gently reminds me of what true commitment to Him is.  I love Him more that anything and I want nothing more than to please Him.  I know the price He paid for me; the suffering, the pain, the humiliation, and the rejection.  Every hurt that I have ever known, whether it be physical or emotional, He has felt it...tenfold. So knowing that, and knowing that He forgave His enemies (in fact, He died for them) helps me to move to a place of forgiveness towards my "enemies", and not just forgive, but to love them.

How can we possibly "love" our enemies?  Well, I seriously doubt we are suddenly expected to send roses their way.  No...it's a different kind of love.  It means praying for them.  And I don't think that prayer involves the words, "Lord, please give 'em what's coming to 'em!"  I believe it means praying for their souls, first and foremost, and that the Holy Spirit will shine a light into their dark world.  It also means praying for blessing from God, and that they might see His grace through it.

So why even bother - human nature would really enjoy seeing revenge played out.  Well, for one thing, it frees us.  It lets God be who He is while we sit back as trust Him to do His will, for us and for them.  It also means we believe Him.  Sure, it's easy to say we believe in Him, but what about when we have opportunity to show we BELIEVE Him.  Hasn't He promised He would never leave us or forsake us?  That means He has us in His perfect care even when our enemies strike us. It also proves that our love for Him is authentic.  Like the scripture says, anyone can love those who love them back, but  loving the "unlovely" is a true reflection of Christ and it can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Again, that means we give it to the Lord and when we do He gives us all the ability we need.

And why am I so emotional about this passage now?  Because I'm given first-hand opportunity to put it into action.  In the month of April my husband and I have been working through the sale of our house and waiting for it to close.  When the title report came in we were saddened to see that two separate parties have clouded our title.  Both of these parties have made it clear that they would like to see the sale of our home not go through.  Plain and simple, they want to harm us.  It is pure hatred and their actions are vindictive. So with that said, we can sit here and cry and ask, "why, why, why?"  Or, we can give it to the Lord and let Him lead us through it.  I can't say for sure how it will all turn out.  I just know (because I have the promise of His Word and it has never failed me) that our faith in His goodness outweighs the outcome of the situation.  One way or another...we will be blessed.