Back from Blogcation

Yes, I know. It’s the week of finals. Shouldn’t I have waited until next week to return from my Blogcation? Probably. But there is something much too big going on in my life right now to NOT blog about. Immediately.

 

Plus I needed a break from studying.

 

A few weeks ago, (April 11th to be exact), I began my day just like any other. I stopped by Starbucks on my way to school and got my vanilla latte and sausage breakfast sandwich. I had no idea it would be the last piece of meat I would ever care to eat.

 

This semester at Marshall, I took an English Class called “Texting the World,” (Rhetoric in Popular Culture) taught by Dr. Roxanne Aftanas .  There is not enough blog space here to talk about this class, and the impact it had on me. It was a critical thinking class and after taking it, I cannot live my life, day to day, without asking WHY? about everything. I am constantly analyzing now. On April 11th, she DARED us to go 5 days without eating meat or dairy, and to watch the documentary Forks over Knives . So I did it as kind of a fun social experiment. On the 3rd day of the #nomeatchallenge something happened. I felt AMAZING . The best I had felt in years.

I watched only a few  minutes of the documentary “Forks over Knives,” and I was in tears. When it came to the story about the man taking insulin shots everyday I had to stop the film. The reason I stopped it is because I KNEW my husband needed to be watching it with me. JR is a type II diabetic and ALSO taking insulin shots. That evening we watched the documentary together. To be honest, I fell asleep before it was over, but he stayed up and watched the whole thing. The next morning we discussed the documentary and he was telling me about the parts I missed (after having fallen asleep), I asked him what he thought about it. LOVE is not a strong enough word for how my husband feels about steak. It was his absolute favorite thing on earth to eat. I never thought in a hundred million years he would ever consider giving it up. But the morning after we watched the film he looked at me and said, “This way of eating reversed that man’s diabetes. And one day, I want to play with my grandchildren. So I’m going to do it.”  I was floored. So on day 5, my husband joined me on the no meat challenge.

On this blog, I have talked about my struggle with weight and my desire to become healthy.  For the first time, I feel like it’s happening:

 

3 weeks in and I lost 15 pounds!

3 weeks in and I lost 15 pounds!

Yes! 15 pounds! I am feeling great. I don’t feel like I am dieting, I just changed my lifestyle….This is only the beginning!

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The Pearl

Right now, I have approximately 5 or 6 unfinished blog posts sitting in my drafts. I have at least two reasons for this: My 20 month old, and my 2 month old.

My sweet baby boys: Aidan and Nathan

My sweet baby boys: Aidan and Nathan

I am a little ( a lot) overwhelmed right now.

I have so many things I need to share, but right now is not the time I guess. I need to share about being on bed rest while trying to take care of my toddler. I need to tell the story of my little Nathan’s birth and what a miracle it is that he survived it and made his way into the world. I need to share about how I cried my heart out when I had to come home from the hospital without him when he stayed in the NICU for 7 days, and how I survived it by cuddling with my toddler CONSTANTLY when I was not at the hospital. I need to talk about pumping breastmilk. LOTS of pumping. See there? I’ve already worn myself out, and I haven’t even mentioned my postpartum issues yet.

There is so much to share, but to do it justice, I’m going to have to wait until life calms down a bit.

I read something today that I just had to share. I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed this today and how much it ministered to me. I hope it will to you as well!

The Story of The Pearl

“Most people know that a pearl comes from an oyster. It isn’t just luck of the draw or random chance- in fact, that little oyster has to do a lot of work and endure quite a bit of hardship during the making of that pearl. And the most amazing part of the process is that the oyster’s goal isn’t even to make a pearl. The oyster’s goal is to insulate itself from the offending irritant.

A pearl is formed when a single grain of sand or tiny foreign particle is lodged inside an oyster. If left alone, that tiny particle will cause damage to the tender mollusk. The particle is an irritant, causing the oyster to produce a lacquer-like substance called nacre. The oyster secretes the nacre to cover that irritant as a means of protecting itself. It constantly works to shield itself from the irritant. Those layers of nacre coat the sand granule, eventually sealing away the irritation and forming a gorgeous pearl.  Offenses are just like that grain of sand-when someone says or does something to us that offends us, it is as if they put sand in our oyster. While the oyster always knows how to deal with its grain of sand, we too need to learn how to deal with the offenses that irritate us.

Throughout our lives, unfair things will happen. People will let us down, they’ll say things that hurt our feelings, and they won’t always treat us the way we think they should. If we allow those offenses to take root in our heart, they will cause us to become bitter and lose our joy and enthusiasm for life. We must learn to insulate ourselves from offenses and to keep our hearts pure. One of the keys to loving your life is learning how to take those negative things, give them to God, and allow Him to produce the priceless pearls our lives are meant to be.”  – Victoria Osteen

Baby Nathan Update!

Happy Wednesday!  I thought I would take the time this morning to give a little update on the progress of our pregnancy and what has been going on in our life as of lately! As I was looking back over my previous posts, I realized that my baby updates have been kind of brief and I have a few gaps to fill in. 🙂

When we first found out about this pregnancy, I think my husband and I were both in shock. When I showed him the little blue plus sign on the pregnancy test, he just looked at me in silence for what seemed like forever, then very timidly said, “Honey, <insert long pause here> I just don’t know what to say…..” Bless his heart. I didn’t know what to say either. It was so unexpected, yet such happy news. We were both speechless. And trust me, I am NOT speechless very often. (I think I just heard an amen from someone/anyone who knows me!) Ha.

In all this excitement, I was having a hard time recalling exactly where I was at in my cycle. I was pretty sure that my cycle had started the first week I had classes, which would put my LMP around January 9. When I went to my first doctor’s appointment, they told me my estimated due date was October 16. Then later on, we went for our first ultrasound and (after hearing the baby’s heart beat for the first time!) our due date got moved to November 6. So for the majority of this pregnancy, that is what we’ve gone by, anytime someone asked when we were due and also how many weeks along I am.

So, when we went to our doctor’s appointment on September 6,  I was 31 weeks pregnant. I was feeling good for the most part, but I was having moments and days where I was just SO very tired and sometimes just feeling downright BAD. I just assumed it was because I was saying goodbye to the 2nd trimester energy and saying hello to 3rd trimester aches, pains and TOBP (Tired of Being Pregnant) syndrome. I was having a harder time keeping up with my little boy, who is a very energetic 17 month old, and I expressed this whining and complaining concern to my doctor. He said he would like to do an ultrasound anyway to check on the baby’s growth. I was diagnosed with HG (Hyperemesis gravidarum ) and had lost 15 pounds through the course of my first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Even though I have gained back most of the weight I had lost, he still wanted to check on our little guy’s progress. So we go in for the ultrasound. I looked on the screen and saw a much bigger baby than what I expected to see.

Our little Nathan

He was legs and arms all over the place. He has a head full of fuzzy hair. He was sucking his thumb. He weighed in at 5 pounds 3 ounces. But the most surprising part? He measured at 34 WEEKS. I was an entire THREE weeks further along than what we thought! Our due date got moved back to October 17.

So, here I am today, at 36 weeks pregnant. It makes my head spin to think that at this point in our journey with Aidan, he was already born! He was born at 35 weeks, 5 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia/toxemia. I am so thankful for all that God has given me. It was very scary when Aidan came early, and I was SO VERY SICK due to the pre-eclampsia that I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy the last weeks of my pregnancy with him. God is merciful and we both ended up okay. I have hoped and prayed for a different experience with this pregnancy, than the labor and delivery I had with Aidan. I got some disappointing news at my doctor’s appointment this week, that I am starting to show some symptoms of pre-eclampsia, that is requiring further testing. Please pray for us, that the test results show NO TOXEMIA and that our little boy will be born safe and healthy, when he is READY! I am feeling good for the most part (just tired mostly!) I don’t feel even a FRACTION as bad as what I did when I was getting ready to give birth to Aidan, so hopefully the tests we are doing will come back okay.  Thanks so much for your prayers!

Because of HIM,

Amy

I appreciate each and every one of you for reading my post and for your love and kindness! This week I was so excited to get started with an 8 week Bible Study on the book of Colossians with Good Morning Girls and Women Living Well ministries. I am so thankful to have this online study during a season of my life when I am spending so much time at home! It’s only the third day into the study and I already feel like I’ve learned so much. I’m so excited to see what God is going to do next!

Overcome the 3 D’s through R.C.A!!!

I have begun to notice a pattern of habits about myself. Last week I talked about how I had been discouraged and feeling like I did not have much talent.  Discouragement is part of the pattern I’ve begun to notice that leads me down the road to depression and believe you ME, I am NEVER going down that road again. So I have had to beware of the 3 D’s. Distractions, Discouragement, Depression.

BEWARE of the 3 D’s!!  

Distraction- Distractions are different for everyone and are at times they are thrown at us. It could be as simple as an acute illness or a flat tire. It could be misplacing your keys or purse. It could be television, leisurely browsing the internet or facebook. Distractions are time stealers! Distractions take our focus off of God, our goals, and what we are has called to accomplish in our life.

Discouragement-  Having been distracted, and taken our eyes off our goals and our eyes off GOD, Discouragement will set in. Discontent. Feelings of self doubt and low self esteem creep in. We begin to slip away from our goals and wonder why we bother at all! (Oh and we begin to believe lies like we have no talent or God can’t use us. Or maybe that’s just me. *grin*

Depression-  Discouragement can quickly lead to feelings of depression. Feeling we having nothing to offer, nothing to accomplish, that we are just downright worthless. We feel helpless. These helpless, worthless feelings can quickly lead to despair. For those of us who have struggled with addiction in the past, this is a CRITICAL time….

HOW CAN WE AVOID THIS? HOW TO WE OVERCOME?

RCA!

READ!- Read the Bible! God’s word has every answer for every question in life. Get your hands on a Bible promise book. These have listings by topic of different struggles and feelings, gives corresponding scripture to reference on that subject. A great tool! It is also important to read a version of the Bible that you can understand.

Connect!- Connect to God and Connect to others. Connect to God by praying to him! Ask Him for help overcoming these struggles. He listens, He cares, and He loves you more than you will ever know! He sent His only son, Jesus, to die so we can have access to Him. There is no great love than THAT, am I right?? (Sorry, I started preaching there for a second, Haha.) Connect to others through church, small groups, Bible studies, or fellowship with a Godly friend you trust. I have been so very fortunate recently to have a meeting place on Tuesday night with some amazing wonderful people who have overcome/and are overcoming addiction through the power of GOD! We meet together, pray together, get into the WORD together, and are transparent with one another about our struggles. If you do not have a small group or bible study you can go to, there are many online bible studies , prayer groups , and faith communities that are available. (I have just started my own online group, more details on how to join at the end of this post!) Just connect in anyway you can. One of the worst things we can do is isolate ourselves.

Apply!- Apply what you’ve learned through reading and connecting and put it into practice!

Let’s overcome the 3 D’s that the devil throws at us!

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony……”

Revelation 12:11 KJV

 Thanks so much for reading my blog! Are you looking for a way to connect to God and to connect to others? Come and join my Good Morning Girls group!  I am so excited about this online study. Starting September 17, we will be reading through the book of Colossians together (2-3 verses a day) and using Facebook we will share with one another what we are reading and learning! We will also be sharing prayer requests and praying for one another.  To join my group go to my Facebook page and comment/message me , and I can add you to the group. So excited!!

#WOFCelebrate : Never Let Go of the Dream

There are times in life, when you feel the need to just “get away.” Everyone needs to recharge their batteries every now and then. Even Jesus had to get away sometimes. To be alone with God, He went up on the mountain. And Jesus, was…well…. Ya know….. JESUS. He was perfect, y’all.

And me?

Well….. I’m far from it. Most of the time I feel pretty much the opposite of perfect.

Being pregnant while taking care of my 1 year old has been very challenging for me. My husband works about 60 hours a week, and his only day off is on Sunday. I am not complaining. I love my life and I am so very blessed. That being said, every Mommy needs some me time. It’s like we have a well on the inside of our hearts. We have to get our well filled up. If we don’t, we don’t have anything to offer to anyone else, especially our husbands and children.

Is anyone feeling me on that?

I was so excited to have the opportunity recently to go to a Women of Faith Conference.. It was an amazing, refreshing time. In my every day life, it’s easy for me to get discouraged. I look at the people around me, and they are so talented. I have so many friends with special talents. Friends with singing abilities, musical talents and friends with great intelligence. Some have beautiful artistic ability and others have so much charisma, that people just flock to them. Although I have come a long way in my negative “self-talk” and my inner dialogue has much improved, I still sometimes feel like I do not have much to offer. I mean, I like to talk. I talk A LOT. But most people would not consider that a very special talent now would they? Haha. 🙂

But here’s the thing….

I. Just. LOVE. God.

Not only that, I’m head over heels for Jesus.

I used to have a very VERY sad life you guys. Now, I have a very very wonderful life. It’s nothing short of a miracle what God has done in my life.  He has helped me overcome low-self esteem, depression, addiction, infertility, unforgiveness, unbelief….. (I could go on and on. ) So because God has brought me through so VERY much, I have such a strong desire to tell others about Him, and to teach (I really don’t care for the word “preach,” I never liked being “preached” at. Haha).  A few years ago, I heard a Pastor say, “Sometimes I don’t know what to say when people ask me what I do for a living…..So I just say that I teach people how to love God.” When I heard him say that, something stirred inside me. I thought, “Yes! That is what I’m supposed to do with my life. Soak up the Bible and teach people about how much God loves them and how to love Him back!” So here I was with this strong desire to let God use me, yet at the same time feeling so ordinary. So untalented. So ashamed about the bad decisions I’ve made and guilty about the addictions I allowed into my life. As a result, I was discouraged and just about to give up on the dream I had, that one day God was going to use me. Who knew how, I thought maybe through public speaking. Through teaching at my church, writing a book, speaking at conferences or small groups. But at times I get discouraged and almost ready to let go of that calling.

Then I went to Women of Faith.

It’s hard to put into words what I experienced there, but I’m really going to try. 🙂 I don’t want to write TOO much about the conference, just in case someone reading this is planning on going to Women of Faith near their city. I don’t want to give out any spoilers. (I HATE spoilers. Haha.) I can sum it up by saying that I left that conference feeling completely refreshed and renewed. I learned that weekend that God isn’t looking for smart people. He’s not looking for the beautiful, the talented, the educated, the charismatic or the exceptional. He is looking for people who are AVAILABLE. That’s it!!! At the WOF conference, a very funny man named Mark Lowry said, “The Bible is full of freaks, frauds, and failures…..”  He’s right! I left feeling so very encouraged. I know without a doubt now, that God is going to use me. Who knows, He may be already using me and I do not even realize it! So, in this current season of my life, I am just going to enjoy every moment. While my babies are small, I’m going to soak up every inch of the Bible that I possibly can. I’m going to pray pray pray. Not only am I going to read and pray, I’m going to APPLY it. I’m going to make myself available wherever and whenever I can. It is my promise to God to be faithful….

and to NEVER let go of the dream. 🙂

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones……” Luke 16:10

Growing Home

#iPPP What I do when I’m not blogging

Last weekend, I was away from my baby for only the second time since he was born. (The first time was when we went on a marriage retreat that was pretty much life-changing.  )

I have been trying for the past 4 days to blog about my experience at the Women of Faith Conference I went to over the weekend. There is just so much to say. It was an amazing experience. There is so much I want to share and write about, but I just have not been able to do it yet.

Here’s why:

Just in case you missed it, that is my 16 month old little boy, climbing up onto the couch. These days, he is climbing up onto everything.  This is making it a little difficult  for me to find the time to clear my head, sit quietly, and write.

Here are a few more examples of what I’ve been doing while I’ve NOT been blogging:

Yup, I clean up a LOT of messes.

When I’m not watching him play, climb, run, jibber-jabber, or make messes, I am stealing hugs and kisses from him…………. and baby cuddles beat out blogging every. single. time.

🙂

GFunkified

What’s in a name?

So sorry for keeping everyone in suspense about New Baby Boy Ethel’s name! Before I tell you what it is, I have to tell you briefly about our journey and how we decided on his name. Thanks for indulging me!

For many months now, JR and I have been racking our brains trying to name this baby. Even before we found out he was a boy, we had no idea what the name would be. We started making a list, and had many different ideas, but the names we liked the most were girl names. I REALLY wanted a girl so I concentrated on those names. Then we got the big news that we were expecting another BOY! Back to the drawing board. I started asking my friends on Facebook for name ideas, got some really GREAT suggestions, but we still couldn’t decide.

JR and I did not take naming our kids lightly. We really like to know the meanings behind names and we wanted our boys’ names to have a special meaning. Aidan’s name means “little fire.” Which is perfect for him.  He was a little spitfire from the very beginning! We also liked the idea of his name meaning “fire” because JR and I had a BURNING desire to be parents. After thinking for a long time we may never get to have kids, Aidan was our miracle baby.

THIS time, we were not exactly trying to get pregnant. You know what I mean. Not trying, but not doing anything to prevent pregnancy either! We knew we wanted more kids but after the long struggle we had trying to get pregnant the first time, we never expected to get pregnant so easily. Oh my how surprised we were!  Surprised and ecstatic. You see, JR and I had overcome SO MUCH in the previous six months.

I won’t go into all the details of it now, but in short, we were struggling. Struggling in our marriage. Not anything that would have made us get a divorce or anything, but it was like there was a big wall that had gone up between us and it was so hard. There is not a “how-to” manual on how to be married. JR and I are so DIFFERENT. Those of you who know us well can testify that we are NIGHT and DAY. Then after we had Aidan, we poured everything we were into taking care of him and, in all probability, neglected our relationship with each other.  JR and I love each other so much and never ever stopped, but we just had a hump to get over. Then, we had an amazing opportunity to go on a marriage retreat with Christ Temple Church. What happened to us on that retreat was LIFE CHANGING. We opened up to one another and we did something we had never done before. We prayed together. We re-dedicated our lives and our marriage to God. It was only just the beginning.  Over the months to come, we worked on our OWN personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as individuals, and the walls between us just came tumbling down. We apologized, a lot. We served one another without expecting anything in return.

And then………..

We fell in love all over again.

What happened next do you ask? Oh yeah…….we got pregnant again. 🙂

So having been through and overcome so much, we feel like this baby was a precious gift. It was God’s way of telling us, “Good job! Keep up the good work! Oh and HERE, have a BLESSING!”

So what is our new baby boy’s name?

From the beginning, JR and I both really loved the name Nathan. Nathan means “gift of God.” Translated in Hebrew it literally means, “God has given.”  JR’s middle name is Alan, and so is my Dad’s! Alan is of German origin and it means “precious.”  So, this boy is our “precious gift from God” and we are naming him:

Nathan Alan!

We are so excited and absolutely cannot wait to meet him!

I choose LIFE!

It is 6am in the morning and I just had one of those bad dreams that make you suck in your breath and be OH so thankful to be awake. I dreamed that my husband had died. Everything about the dream was really dark. I didn’t see the funeral, any friends, any family bringing food or any comfort that usually comes when you lose your spouse. All I saw was myself in a big dark empty house sitting on the couch watching television. Alone.  My children weren’t there, just me. The silence was deafening. I was surrounded by really nice material things in that home. There were so many nice expensive things that filled it up. Brand new furniture, state of the art televisions and stereos. A nice kitchen. But none of it mattered because I was alone. I didn’t have my husband. I didn’t have my children. In my life, I spend way too much time dwelling on the “have-nots.” There are so many things I see that I wish I had, and quite honestly plan on buying “one day.” This dream I had really gives me a healthy dose of perspective. God could give me those things if He wanted to. He is all knowing and all powerful. There is nothing that He cannot do. Yet, I sit here, in my tiny little 2 bedroom apartment, with my 1 year old baby boy sleeping next to me and my husband stirring around the apartment getting ready for work. The tshirt I’m sleeping in is my BCM beach shirt from 1999. My baby’s pajamas were purchased for a few dollars at a kid’s consignment sale. It is the wee hours of the morning and the sun is poking through our curtains, curtains that I bought at a yard sale. In a few hours I will make my weekly trip to the laundry mat, which is always a low light of my week and such a hassle. But when I consider this dream that I had, the dream in which I was surrounded by so many material things, but all alone, it gives my REAL life so much meaning. I pick up my little boy, smell his baby hair, and I feel rich. I squeeze my husband’s neck a little tighter this morning before he leaves for his 60 hour work week.  I rub my 6 month pregnant belly and feel those little kicks that give my heart such pure joy. I let the dream I had fade into the background of my memory. It’s not hard to let the dream go. Because, when compared to my real life, if given a choice between the dream and the reality, there is not even a little bit of hesitation about what choice to make. I choose MY life.

Please pray for all those affected by the storms! There are many people still without power, water, and air conditioning. God bless you ALL!!!

Growing Home