Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Rainbown Baby Turns 6

It was my 32nd birthday. David Crowder was playing in the background as I leaned my forehead against the nurse's chest and bowed my back at the CRNA who was sticking a needle in my spine. At that moment I began to sob quietly. Uncontrollable. I'm not sure the poor nurse knew what to do or why I was crying. She didn't know that 2 years before this moment I had discovered I was pregnant and 6 weeks later learned the baby had no heartbeat. This loss was followed 3 months later by another lost pregnancy. I became so obsessed with having another baby I took my temperature religiously every day for 3 months in an effort to know my body's cycle.  (I jokingly say my son is so rigid about things done a certain way because his conception and birth were planned meticulously.) I changed doctors and saw an endocrinologist for a full thyroid work up.

This pregnancy had gone perfectly. And finally after 2 years of waiting it was all over. In a few moments I would look in the face of my new baby. I knew that months of tears, praying, waiting and hoping were coming to an end. I could feel the pages of that chapter of my life closing. The poor nurse patting me on the back had no idea that my tears were tears of relief, joy, sadness, fear and excitement all at once.

That was 6 years ago. Social media has taken to calling these post miscarriage babies "Rainbow Babies". The beautiful result after a storm. I call him a miracle baby. An answered prayer. Grace from God. You see in those dark years of not knowing if I would carry another child in my womb I cried out to God. I came to a place where I simply said "Please teach me the lesson you want me to learn, Father. Show me what you would have me to do." I learned that He is my refuge and my strength.

So on my birthday, 6 years ago, I got what I wanted most in the world. A baby. He was longer and thinner than his sister was a birth and had no hair but I adored him. When they brought him to me to nurse at 2 AM my husband was sleeping quietly in the cot beside my bed. One little light was on over head. The nurse handed him to me wrapped snugly in a blanket and smelling like baby lotion. I wanted that moment to last forever.

My "Rainbow Baby" has had his share of trouble. He has asthma, reflux and allergies. It took us years to figure it out and get it under control. I joke and say he is so rigid about having things done a certain way because his conception and birth were planned meticulously. But he has the best smile. And when he wraps his arms around me and says "I need Mama lovin'" Oh be still my heart. He is such a funny boy. Even his kindergarten teacher has commented that he has a great sense of humor. He is the spitting image of his father when his father was 6. He is a big brother now.

Not a birthday goes by that I don't thank my God for this sweet blessing.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When Satan knows your weakness

I spent this past weekend at a youth retreat at a camp in southeastern OK. Our speaker, Mike Kebone, said something that really stuck with me. "Satan knows your weakness." And he knows how to exploit it.

I hate chaos. Sunday morning chaos is the worst. Sunday morning, post youth retreat exhaustion with a headache chaos...well that's what I dealt with today. Satan know I can't handle the chaos. The dog woke 2 of my 3 children an hour early...after he destroyed the book we had been reading at bedtime and a friend's shoe. Hubby, suffering from the same post youth retreat exhaustion, got up just in time to get dressed and head out the door. I'm trying to cook breakfast while the 9 year old is crying because she is awake (I'm not kidding- we are NOT morning people), the sausage is smoking and grease is popping in the skillet, the 2 year old has undressed himself and is walking in only a diaper around crying about something and the 5 year old is talking non stop. I could feel my heart rate rising and my head begin to pound. In the middle of the swirling chaos I just wanted to call the whole day off. Just go back to bed and forget this morning ever happened.

In that moment Satan had my number. I bet he's had your number too, dear mama. Maybe your husband doesn't go to church with you and getting the kids ready is all your responsibility. Maybe your a single mom who struggles Monday through Friday to get the kids up and dressed and off to school and one more day of chaos is one more than you can handle. Maybe chaos isn't the button Satan pushes to keep you out of church and away from God's people. Maybe it's fatigue or busyness or the mountain of laundry that threatens cause an avalanche in your laundry room.

I took a deep breath and through vision blurred with tears finished breakfast and sat with my kiddos in front of the tv for a few minutes until they were all awake and functional. I pushed through the chaos and managed to get to church mostly on time with 3 kids in tow. Although I was weary and worn I found rest at the feet of Jesus in His House with His People.

I don't know what your weakness is. I don't know how Satan is tempting you but know this my God is stronger. He can and will provide a way out of temptation if you will rely on Him and seek Him. Keep pushing through the chaos.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hiding from the storm.

"Mommy, aren't you scared?" The question comes at me in the dark from my 8 year old who's green eyes were wide with fear. It was Memorial Day and instead of sitting outside at a barbeque celebrating the beginning of summer I was hiding a storm shelter with 3 kids by myself. All I could think when she asked that question was "No, I'm no scared. I'm mad. I'm angry because this is not what I signed up for." (That was the reply in my head, NOT the one that came out of my mouth) 11 years ago I stood in front of God and family and friends and signed up for a fairy tale. I signed up to be a youth pastors wife. I signed up for beautiful babies and ministry together and days in the sun. I did not sign up for miscarriages, loss of parents and struggles of faith. Yet, here I was sitting in a concrete shelter in the earth while it sounded like Big Foot was thrashing around outside and the whirly thing on top of the shelter spun like a pinwheel. My youth minister husband was taking shelter with some 20 teenagers at a local camp 40 miles away. Early in our ministry together we went everywhere together. Even after our first child I was able to get to camps and retreats without too much trouble. But by the time baby #3 came along my work had changed and getting away became more and more difficult. So that is how I found myself alone in a storm shelter with an 8, 5 and 1 year old.

Then that same beautiful 8 year old asked if we could pray. And so we did. Every 3 minutes for the next hour. We prayed for our safety. We prayed for the safety of Daddy and his students and the workers huddled in bathrooms at camp. In my heart I prayed God would let me see His will in all of this. "For I know the plans I have for you- this is the Lords declaration- plans to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and fine Me when you search for Me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:11-13.

There was no tornado over us that day. There was only a storm. An hour later we returned to the house to eat supper, watch tv, get baths and head to bed like every other day. So often we cannot see what is going on in the midst of the storm. We can only pray and trust God.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Be Still

I attended the Extraordinary Women's Conference in Tulsa this past weekend. The theme verse was Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God." Almost every speaker stood and talked about how difficult it was for them to "be still".  They talked about struggles in their lives and how they want to control the events and outcomes.

My confession: I'm a control freak who is borderline obsessive. If I get something on my mind I will think and rethink about it until I have examined that topic by every angle. A few years ago after 2 miscarriages I bought a basal body thermometer (BBT) and took my temperature religiously every morning for 3 months. I researched how to use this fertility tool best. I even took it to church camp and slept with it under my pillow so I could check my temp every morning and chart it. I could not control my body but I could figure out how it worked and use that knowledge to my advantage. I knew the exact date my second child was conceived and had a positive pregnancy test just 10 days after conception. More recently our dog died and I became convinced I wanted a Golden Retriever. I have spent hours looking through Humane Society, animal shelter and animal rescue groups websites and Facebook pages. When I get something on my mind I talk it to death. Being still is not an easy task.

I have been praying about a certain issue for over a year. A desire of my heart. Over the past year as I have prayed and read in God's Word I have heard the speaking of the Holy Spirit that I am to do nothing but wait and watch as God works. So I guess God sensed my restless spirit and sent me to a conference where I heard 5 different speakers expound on waiting on God. Five hours. "Be still and know that I am God."

So when it seems as though our world is going crazy- Be still and know that I am God
When we don't know who will be the next leader of our country but all the options are scary- Be still and know that I am God
When we know that God said He would never leave us or forsake us but we feel lonely and scared- Be still and know that I am God.

My God is on His Throne. He is in control. Sometimes he just needs me to sit down and shut up and watch Him work.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lifestyle changes

Last night Hubby and I got all dressed up for a formal event to benefit a scholarship program for a local college.  I love a night to get dressed up and feel special. Hubby wore the same suit he bought last year. He had no trouble buttoning the collar on his shirt and felt more comfortable than last year. His suit was looser as well. I had fun trying on new dresses because I felt better. We stayed mostly on track with our eating...except the cheesecake! We said no to the dinner rolls but the steak, roasted potatoes, asparagus and carrots were on the healthy side. I think we both cleaned our plates. We had no sweets the month of January and very few sweets this month so we splurged. Hubby got up this morning with a headaches and thinks it was the cheesecake.

We still eat 3 meals a day during the week at home. We ate out for Valentines and eat out for lunch on Sunday but are mostly eating at home. I had a chance to look at what we spent on food the month of January. We actually save several hundred dollars by eating healthy food at home. Our grocery bill was nearly double what we usually spend but because we were not eating out and were not wasting food but eating most of our leftovers we ended up saving money. So yes eating healthy is expensive. Buying fresh food costs more than eating off the dollar menu at a fast food store. But when you add in the cost of regular visits with your health care provider and medication to treat chronic illness it's less expensive to eat at home.

This is a season of Lent. A season to give up something to which we are addicted and focus instead upon Christ and that He should be the Lord of our lives. I cannot say enough what a positive difference this program has made in our lives. So if you are still not sure what you want to give over to God during this season of sacrifice consider doing the Whole 30.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Life After Whole 30

Christmas Day I was helping my sister in law cook Christmas dinner and texting my sister at the same time. My sister said "We should take the girls an American Girl store sometime." And thus began the planning for a girls weekend. There was bargaining over where we would meet because there is no store halfway between us. Then my mother says "You really think this is going to happen?" She's known us (my sisters and I) for over 3 and a half decades you would think she would know by now that a comment like that only makes us  more determined to make it happen. So this past weekend my 9 year old daughter and I flew to Nashville to meet my mother, father, sisters and nieces for a girls weekend. I was way off what has become my regular diet the first day and by the end of the day I bloated and having a lot of abdominal pain. That alone convinced me to try to stick closer to my plan. It's not easy eating out and staying on a strict diet. I ate a lot of grilled chicken and salad. I know the dressing was on the plan but I did not eat as much of it as I once would have. I found some Larabars at Target and packed those for breakfast on the trip home. We stopped at Cracker barrel for lunch and I had grilled fish and sweet potato but had to scoop off the brown sugar.

I got home just in time for our Super Bowl party with the students from church. I ate off plan in a big way Sunday night. Monday morning though I just got back on track with eggs and thin sliced steaks. Lunch was chicken strips, roasted sweet potato and asparagus. I never thought I would be looking forward to my routine lunch but it was so good. This morning I cooked up the rest of the thin sliced steak. We had some for breakfast and saved the rest for lunch.
I put a roast in the crock pot for dinner and covered it with Tessemae's slow roasted garlic and added potatoes. The kids had 2-3 helpings each of the roast so I guess it was good stuff. I also used the Chesapeake Mayo as dip. First time I've had mayo in over a month. I've been a mayo addict longer than I've been a coffee creamer addict!
I gained 1 pound back in my off plan eating over the weekend but Hubby was at home and stayed on target. He's lost almost 20 pounds now. A lot of people have commented about his weight loss.

I did drink some coffee with real creamer and even one Starbucks coffee this past weekend. But Monday morning I went back to my coconut milk and cinnamon. Today is Fat Tuesday. Lent starts tomorrow. A lot of people will give up something for Lent. Sounds like a great time to start your Whole 30 journey!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Whole 30: Reintroduction

Reintroduction is scary. Because the program works well. We eat well. We feel well. We're in a routine. Why change things now? We can continue if we want but that's not the way the program works. Part of the point is to find how certain food affect your body. Being in control of your choices and not letting cravings dictate what you eat and how much of it you eat is a huge gain.

Yesterday morning I got up, pushed the button on my Keurig and grabbed the new container of coffee creamer out of the fridge. Regardless of what the book said about reintroduction I was having creamer! And it was GROSS! The taste was all off. I had 3 cups of coffee with real creamer and today I went back to coconut milk, cinnamon and cocoa. It was much better and less sugar and less calories.

We had edamame at dinner. If you haven't ever tried this green legume you should (after your whole 30). We were introduced to them at a sushi restaurant and the whole family loves them. But by bedtime and again this morning my stomach was hurting. I think it was the coffee creamer but it may have been the edamame.

Tonight I made chili with plantain chips for dinner. It was pretty good. I think I let the plantains sit too long because I read they make better chips if they are green and mine were not. But we ate it. Two different students at church told Hubby he looked thinner. I think that made him feel pretty good.

Friday we get to reintroduce dairy. We'll see how that goes.