Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Taking Account

"You're baby is in distress.  Go straight to the hospital, don't stop to check in, just in go to this room number."  Those are not comforting words to hear coming from your OB.  I followed directions to the T.  Covered in monitoring equipment, I listened to the rapid echo of my baby's heart beat as it filled the room.  My body wasn't doing what it was supposed to do, and now there were complications.

Guilt, it is that nasty and vicious tool used to pierce our hearts by the enemy. Satan is the father of lies and will try to deceive our hearts and minds in order to keep us from fully accepting the grace, offered by God the Father.  Without knowing grace we cannot know the full joy God provided through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus. My heart is no stranger to the lies crafted by evil intent.  My mind is often flooded with the reminders of my past sin. Satan doesn't want me to forget what I have done.  He will cleverly twist truths, to mold my perception of what ever circumstance I find myself in.  It is his objective to define my hardships as a punishment for my failures. I believe in my heart, have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, repented of my sin, and confessed my faith in words: I can be sure that my sins have been forgiven.  That is why Satan targets my heart and mind so fiercely.  God in His word tells us that above all guard your heart.  It is from our very hearts that our life path is most vulnerable.  
The bombardment of spiritual attacks on our societies hearts and minds come in many forms. Some are obvious and some start as small words that manifest, simply because we accept them.  I was in college, and I couldn't see myself as a beautiful creation of God's.  I looked in the mirror and saw large thighs and wide hips.  I denied myself basic nutrition, or carried guilt of excess calories to the gym and burned them in aerobic exercise.  I was 18 years old, 5'1", barely over 100 pounds and I felt fat.  I had bought into the deception and lies told by Satan through the Victoria's Secret Catalog, Seventeen, and the images of what society deemed beautiful.  I struggled with these unhealthy thoughts and trough God's grace overcame the unhealthy habits of starvation.  But in one of my weakest moments Satan took a partial truth and crafted a lie.  Then casually delivered it through  a well meaning nurse. "You are ruining your body...you probably won't be able to have children."  I can't remember exactly how the conversation went but her words pierced my heart deeply.  More than anything in the world I wanted to be a mom.  Satan knew that and used it to capture my joy.  Her words lingered in the back of my mind for years. 
Matt and I were married right out of college and we had plenty of years ahead of us to be blessed with children.  About a year after we were married, I began showing symptoms of a miscarriage.  We were relieved to find out it was a hormonal imbalance and not an actual miscarriage, but that little lie that had been tucked away resurfaced.  "You ruined your body...now you can't have children."  More than ever my heart was burdened and I was determined to conceive.  Month in and month out, the waiting, the stress, and the heavy burden of those few words held my joy captive and haunted me. Becoming pregnant became an obsession and consumed me.  Six months of ovulation monitoring, feet up in the air, and several negative pregnancy tests had pasted.  Maybe that nurse was right.  I couldn't remember her exact words, but maybe she was right.  I had come to a point where the guilt of my past engulfed my circumstances and I only had on place to turn.  One Sunday morning in early November, standing in worship as church began, tears streaming down my face, and arms lifted I cried out, "God, if you want me to be a mom, make my a mom.  But if you don't please take this desire away from me."  My desire had become too much to bare, and He would have to carry it now. I had peace with what ever He willed.  But the beauty of it all is, while I was crying out, He was already weaving within my womb.  I would find out weeks later that He had fearfully and wonderfully crafted a masterpiece for me to love.  


Enduring months of morning sickness, I had carried her to full term, and now there are complications? A sonogram that morning revealed that I was several days over due, my placenta was detaching and my Olive's weight estimated at 9-10 lbs.  My body wouldn't go into labor, and now my child was in distress.  My OB wanted to do a C-section right away, but I really wanted to try to deliver naturally.  After much consideration and prayerfully weighing all options, we chose to be induced, instead of the C-section.  Shortly after 10 AM I was induced and given an epidural as a precautionary measure.  I had a leisurely labor I admit.  There was a slight discomfort when I would have a contraction but no pain.  Slowly my body submitted to the medicines and was ready to deliver Olive.  She entered the birth canal and the doctor summoned the delivery team.  Then the rhythm of her rapid heart rate began to slow, seconds would pass between heart beats, then nothing.  There was no heart beat, a since of urgency swept over the hospital staff... and there was no heart beat.  A moment of fear swept over me, but was quickly replaced by a divine peace.  That lie that Satan wanted me to believe brewed a fury of anxiety, but I had weathered that storm of that untruth with Jesus as my ship's captain.  I knew God gave me this child and He is in control.  I trusted in Him what ever the outcome.  With in seconds, decisive measures were taken, and I was being wheeled into the OR for an emergency C-section.  There wasn't time to wait for the anesthesiologist every second we waited was one Olive didn't have oxygen.  With a skilled and trained hand my OB quickly saved my child's life, and I could not be more grateful or more sure that I was right where God had planned for me to be. 
 Olive's birth is not a testament to my strength or courage, but one of God's deliverance from danger.  It is for His Glory that she was created, and how she was birthed is not counted as the righteousness or unrighteousness of me.  There is yet another lie that Satan has crafted and with social media as a platform he is spreading through a group called, Disciples of the New Dawn.  Through hate filled photographs and ugly words they make claims that we women who have had C-sections don't get brownie points in heaven.  For generations faithful people have made assumptions about how God should deliver His people.  No one ever thought that it would be through a desert, the stomach of a great fish, or through a humble carpenter.  But still judgment, pride and self righteousness blind many from seeing divine miracles that grow faith.  There is not one scripture that reads though shalt not have a C-section, or describes the way a birth must take place in order for it to count!  But there are scriptures that say God loves, and that His plan for our lives was set in motion before our existence.  He has numbered our days.  If God wanted to take a life there is no surgeon that could stop that from happening.  It is foolishness think otherwise, because God is sovereign.  I am confident that my righteousness is because of my relationship with Christ and the transformation He makes from with in me.  When the day of Olive's birth is accounted for God will count me righteous based on my faith in Him.  I can stand firm in my faith and reject the lies this group is trying to force on society because I know the Truth.  The breath of God breaths life into His children.  Insults, malicious words and images are not from Him, they are from the father of sin.  I feel sorry for the the people behind these claims and pray that they be convicted by the Holy Spirit.  I forgive them for the hurtful statements they have made.  I pray that their hearts be soften to God's word and that they learn to walk in the Truth. 
There is the power of life and death in our words.  Whether you are a mom who has bore children without medications, had many c-sections, or trough adoption, you were created to be a mom of a gift from God.  May words of TRUTH echo in your hearts and overflow from your mouth to your children.  Every birth counts and anyone who says otherwise doesn't know the Truth.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Big Hearts Come in Little Packages

It was the last game of the year. The whistle blew and play was stopped.  But my little Adi didn't hear, or chose not to hear, the whistle.  She scooped up the bouncing basketball and began dribbling in full sprint toward the hoop. With all her might she jumped, and with both feet off the ground she launched the ball.  Instantly a smile stretched across her face and she celebrated with victorious double fist pumps.  Her excitement made my heart to fill with pure joy.

Adi was the smallest girl in the whole league. To be honest my husband and I tried talking her out of playing basketball, and tried to convince her to cheer.  We had good intentions,  Adi is gifted in encouraging others, full of spunk, and cheerfully bounces through life's experiences. She is a tiny in size and the basketball seemed bigger than her.  But she was determined to play and so we signed her up.  We knew after her initial evaluation that this would be an interesting season.  She surprised us few times by stealing the ball (sometimes from her teammates)  and she even had three rebounds in one game.  Her cheerful team spirit rang though on and off the court.  Even while sitting on the bench she always was excited to be part of the team.  "Mom, Mom...Look at me!" would ring from the court side, and when she caught my eye, she'd wave enthusiastically.  She hadn't scored all year, in fact she hadn't even had an attempt.  Now it was the last game and she was determined to shoot the ball.  I was glad that the refs allowed the game to be paused for such a determined little player.  Even though the ball barely hit the net, the crowd cheered and she was elated!  I asked her later why she did the fist pumps that day and she responded, "because I shot the ball!"  Oh my sweet Adi, I am so inspired by your perspective and your bravery to reject the world's.  Adi's definition of victory isn't just about winning, to her victory is not being afraid to try. Such boldness from a tiny girl, but like David on the battle field she has the biggest heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Feelin' a LIL SNARKY

I am hooked! The Perfectly Posh Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme Lil Snarky, is a new staple in my purse!  A couple months ago I sat across from a friend who offered me some hand cream.  Leary of undesired exposure to chemicals, I hesitated... Knowing my quirks she assured me that it was made by a company that uses products that are safe for consumers and for the environment.  In fact the company lists the ingredients of each product in the back of their catalog.  I couldn't stop thinking about the lotion that I had used that evening. After a month I reached out to her to see how I could get some of my own.  Lucky for me she sells it. So, I ordered my own and I am happy I did!

One mesmerizing use wasn't enough for me to endorse it just yet.  I wanted to know if it lived up to it's first impression during the gauntlet of mothering duties, work, play, and more.  So I agreed to do a FULL review of the product. I used the product everyday for the past week and found that the scent was pleasing without being overwhelming and my hands felt super soft.  I generally would reapply 1-2 times throughout the day.  One day I had left my Lil Snarky at home in a different purse.  I realized that my feeling of disappointment was proof of my new addiction.  
The Big Fat Yummy Hand Cream, Lil Snarky is made by a company called Perfectly Posh.  It is a direct sales company geared to empowering women and creating natural based products.  Their catalog is filled with super fun vintage pin-up style photographs and great tips for using their products.  I found myself creating a long wish list of foot scrubs, sea salt spray, body butters, detox masks and more.  Being a frugal (by marriage) shopper I was excited that all their products were under $25.  Then there was an added bonus, if you buy five products you get the sixth FREE.  Plus if you spend $100 then you receive FREE shipping.  Their products are free of any paraben or paraffins.  

Tip: These products would make great teacher gifts.  I know most of us wait till the end of the year, but now is a great time to encourage a teacher as we approach the home stretch to summer!

Product safety: I found that most of the ingredients were within my acceptable ranges for safety.  I usually look for ingredients with a EWG.org score of 3 or less,   The Lil Snarky hand cream did have one ingredient that was scored at a 4.  After reviewing the ingredients and feeling how soft my hands felt it was a safe product to introduce into my lifestyle.

Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme, Lil Snarky Ingredients: (score given by the environmental working group: 0-2 low harard, 3-6 medium hazard, and 7-10 high hazard)
water (0), cetyl alcohol (1), stearic acid (0), glycerin (2), glyceryl stearate (0), PEG 100 stearate (3), dimethicone (3), fragrance (I have been told that they use high quality essential oils to give their product a scent: rating is unknown.), apricot kernel oil (0), trocopherol (1), sodium PCA (1) aloe barbadensis leaf juice (0), tocopheryl acetate (3), PEG-10 soya sterol (4), allantoin (0), xanthan gum (0), sodium stearoyl glutamate (1), ethylethanol (2), disodium EDTA (0), and citric acid (2).  

Want to try Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme, Lil Snarky? You can order it by clicking Perfectly Posh button bellow:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stressed out? I bet you don't smell like the forest.

In college I had taken a class on stress management.  It was very helpful, and really should be required for all students, but that is another topic for another time.  In that class I was taught several techniques on how to deal with stress in healthy ways.  One of my favorites was to calmly talk to a person, verbally walking them through a peaceful forest.  I never put much thought into why a forest.  It always seemed natural that it would be a stress free place, unless you were lost in the forest.  However, there are multiple reasons that the forest has calming effects,for instance: it is quiet and smells like trees!  Your sense of smell has powerful effects on your brain, and your olfactory nerves are closely tied to your memory. Since I have never been lost in the woods all my memories of being in a forest have been pleasant.  My memories of times in the forest are marked with smells of cedar trees.
Cedarwood ( Juniperus Virginiana), has become a staple in my daily routine.  I chose it for its dermal rejuvenating and acne fighting abilities.  I have mixed it with witch hazel to create a powerful acne eliminating toner.  I use it in the evening after I wash my face and before I moisturize.  A welcomed side effect is its soothing and calming effect that helps my overactive brain tune out the days ciaos.  I am able to relax and have quality sleep.  And SLEEP would be my love language, BONUS!
Even if you have never been to a forest Cedarwood's aromatic properties can still help your relax after a long day, reduce feelings of anxiety and calm a busy mind.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vacuum Princess Style

Playing pretend is one of my favorite past times.  My imagination could transform any situation into a total dream world.  I would often hear people say, "she lives in her own world" when describing me. It is true. I am a dreamer.  Like most imaginative little girls I dreamed of being a princess. My lists to Santa would include the things like a million ball gowns and tiaras. My husband on the other hand is Mr. Practical, but we often find balance admits our two worlds.  
I bet anyone could imagine how elated I am to be raising two little girls that love playing princess! My husband is the best sport to play the role of prince.  Dancing and singing are staple activities in our home; one might think we live in a musical.
While living in the south we were introduced to pageantry, but my husband didn't feel that they were practical, so we didn't participate.  I too held a certain contempt with the idea of judging children on their appearance, so I didn't push the issue.  But after moving to Arizona and getting to know many amazing people in the pageant circuits (and being a big girl who still loved to play princess) my mind was open to the idea of letting our oldest participate.  I won't ever forget the morning when Mr. Practical's world collided with our oldest's dream of prancing on stage.  I was putting on my makeup when Olive asked where I was going.  I explained that I would be photographing a pageant that weekend. Instantly she held her hands out as if to say, "Wait!" and said, "I will go get my dress!"  Then she ran to her room to get ready.  I just smiled and looked at my husband who was in a state of shock, and could not deny his little princess the opportunity to get a real live tiara.  We signed her up and the weekend was a blast of borrowed dresses and sweet smiles on stage.  Olive finished last in her division, but was awarded a real princess tiara: her dream come true!  The following year was filled with pageantry and fun.  Sashes and tiaras became part of our everyday attire.  I have to admit vacuuming is a lit more dignified when wearing a tiara, especially for a dreamer in the practical world cycle of hug, kiss, dishes, laundry, dust, vacuum and repeat...  
I know the never ending cycle of  housework, is a daunting task.  The fantasy world view doesn't factor in the practical needs of wiping snotty noses and wearing stained yoga pants.  My Cinderella story went in reverse. I met the man of my dreams, got married, and then began scrubbing floors on my hands and knees.  That is not how the world would write a story about a princess, but is how God wrote it.  Because even though I do not wear a tangible tiara everyday, I know that I have been adopted by the King of kings.  He has placed on my head a crown of love and compassion.  When I feel unimportant and emptied, He renews me and declares over me my royal status.  It is in the everyday acts of making lunches, helping with homework, and loving my family that He is glorified.  It may not come with a fancy title or paycheck with several zeros, but the job of motherhood is nothing less than regal.  So to all you mommies out there dig deep in that dress up box, put on that plastic tiara, and rock out the yoga pants to the beat of a roaring vacuum. Princess style!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Getting The Laundry Dough Down!

Earlier I had shared our families money saving tip by making our own laundry detergent, but there is one more way to cut your laundry costs.  (AND have a HEALTHIER home)  Instead of using dryer sheets we use 100% wool dryer balls.  The average name brand dryer sheet cost 3.7 cents per sheet and the wool balls either homemade or the Norwex, Fluff and Tumble Dryer Balls range from $25- $30 per set and will last approximately 1000 loads.  At worst you are looking at 3 cents per load vs. 3.7 cents per load over 1000 loads that is a savings of $7.  Okay so that doesn't seem like much, but here are some other reasons to not use dryer sheets:
1. They are filled with harmful chemicals!!  TOXINS that fill your home with what I have to admit are my favorite smells, but are not good for you to breathe! They might smell better than smog but could still have similar impacts on your health.
2.  The chemicals that are in a dryer sheet are designed to melt in the dryer and adhere to the fibers of your clothing making them feel softer. So now all those chemicals are now sitting on your largest and most absorbent organ, your skin!!
3. Those chemicals meant for your clothes also coat your dryer, causing mechanical problems and even home fires. "Dryers and washing machines were involved in 1 out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2006-2010." 92% of these fires were caused by the dryer!

So that $7 in measurable savings looks pretty good when you factor in the immeasurable risks that could be accumulated by using the dryer sheets.

I took the easy path on this money saving tool and bought the Norwex  Fluff and Tumble Dryer Balls.  But if you venture to make your own here is a link to instructions on how: Doterra Blog.  You can even have that great smelling laundry by using the pure essential oils.

Want to know how your Dryer sheets rate?  Check out EWG.org