Foolish Freedom & Worthless Religion

This morning the Lord taught me something about myself, or maybe He just shined light on what I already knew. He showed me how much I despise being made a fool of.I hate when my actions and decisions are questioned, even simple ones like…paint color. Through His word, He taught me that sometimes He values my “foolishness” over my “religion.”

Foolish Freedom and Worthless Religion



At work I struggle because I am continually learning and constantly being contradicted. Even when these simple suggestions or teachable moments are minor, my self-esteem takes a hit. Moodiness sets in and I immediately become very hands off. Oh, you don’t like my paint color? You can take over the project. You want to go through my patient’s chart? How about you take over care.

To take it a step further, I think it puts boundaries on when and how I share my faith. If I feel that my views are unpopular in a certain setting I tend to just stay quiet at best, and at worst do my best to “fit in.”

“I’m not a regular Christian…I’m a cool Christian.”

I do think there is value in being relatable and not pushing or bullying someone into your beliefs, but in all that gray area I think there is a line.

When does being relatable turn into conforming to the world? When is staying quiet generating peace versus passive acceptance? When does my fear of appearing foolish make me spineless and robotic instead of free in Christ?

Reading through Mark 15 and 16 this morning I was struck by Jesus’ humility. In these chapters, everything about Jesus is questioned, mocked, and insulted. He was flogged and tortured but, dare I say, even worse than that, His integrity, intelligence and worth as a man was exposed and ridiculed.

Now if Jesus can go through this, I can swallow my pride enough to be teachable and patient when I have to explain myself. In even more seriousness, I can stand firm in my beliefs even when those around me disagree or put my intelligence into question because of them.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

It is important for us to continue to represent the Father, and to control our words and actions. Even when it means looking foolish to the world, it means everything for building our faith. Fitting in will never be as important as showing love to the Lord through obedience.

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

 

James 1:26

So, how do we deal with this insecurity? As I went through James 1, I found a few applications:

  • Persevere: persevere through the trial God promises that He will finish His work in us, producing maturity and wholeness, and giving us a crown of life. (James 1: 4, James 1:12)
  • Ask God for Wisdom: God places no fault on those who ask for guidance, and He even promises to give you wisdom when you ask for it. (James 1:5)
  • Control Your Temper: God wants us to be good listeners and self-controlled speakers. He values those who do not put their foot in their mouths. Our anger does not produce His righteousness. That is His job, we are to be humble and self-controlled. (James 1:19-22)
  • Be Obedient to the Word: Don’t just say you follow Christ, follow Him! Don’t just read your Bible, obey his commandments! I struggle here, but obedience is how we combat worthless religion. (James 1:22-25)

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you will become wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18

1 Corinthians 3:18
Are there moments when you value the opinion of others more than obedience? Do you also fear appearing foolish to those around you? What are some ways you combat these feelings?



Curry Chicken Cheddar & Broccoli Recipe

Today I am going to share with you one of my very favorite recipes!

While I wish I could take credit for this creation, it is really a recipe that was shared with me by my friend Lindsey.

Right after I had Lucas, she brought me this dish, even though she herself was days away from going into labor with her FOURTH child.

I then proceeded to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone and promptly asked for the recipe!

*This post may contain affiliate links- meaning if you purchase anything off one of these links you will be supporting my family, because I may receive a small commission! I never recommend anything I don’t love, and of course this is at no added cost to you!*

Curry CHicken Cheddar & Broccoli Casserole Recipe



I don’t know whether it is the curry, the creamy sauce, or the heaps of cheddar cheese, but this heart warming and filling meal was an immediate win with my family. It is easy to whip up and ready within an hour. You could easily freeze this meal and save it to enjoy for later. Enough chit chat. Let’s get down to it.

  • 1 ½ cups of Mayo
  • 2 Cans of Cream of Celery
  • 2 Heaping Teaspoons of Curry
  • Lemon Juice to taste
  • 1-2 Cloves Garlic
  • Broccoli- steamed
  • Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and pull out your favorite 13”x9” casserole dish.
I usually lay my chicken down first. When Lindsey made me this dish she left the chicken breasts whole, which is delicious, but for little one year old hands and a lazy mama, I like to cut my chicken into bite size pieces.
Lindsey also used fresh steamed broccoli, I used a 14oz steam in the bag…again because I’m lazy.

Once my chicken and broccoli are in the pan, I add the mayo, cream of celery, (I used cream of chicken because that is what I had on hand) a squirt of lemon juice, and garlic. Mix it all up. Finally, add a layer of yummy cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 1 hour.

Curry Chicken Cheddar and Broccoli CasseroleEasy peasy, and versatile. You can make this dish fancy, like Lindsey, or be like me and use what you’ve got. Would you give it a try? Tell me what you think!



Why “The Caffeinated Elephant”?

For those who don’t follow me on social media, I am calling July my first full month of blogging. I think I actually slapped the wordpress theme on my domain name sometime in May, but there was a lot of trial and error and an emergent trip to Texas, so I didn’t really start working on it until July.

I’d like to (again) say THANK YOU, to all of my 1200 viewers! I can’t even begin to tell you how much looking at that number has encouraged and motivated me. I had made a monthly goal to get 500 views this month and even that seemed lofty. If you want to check out my most popular post, find it here: https://www.thecaffeinatedelephant.com/10-favorite-newborn-essentials/. This post however, was my personal favorite: https://www.thecaffeinatedelephant.com/persistent-prayer-resistant-doubter/

Why "The Caffeinated Elephant?"

The whole point of this blog post today is to help you get to know me a little more and what my actual goals are with this little blog of mine. Firstly, I want to tell you why I chose the domain name: The Caffeinated Elephant.

When I was 21 I took a full time, live in, nanny position. To this day, it remains my favorite job. I learned so much about myself that year. I had a secure place to live and a secure job. I now had the time and money to figure out my likes and dislikes and try new things. During this time I started making a series of mildly embarrassing youtube videos under the name: The Caffeinated Elephant. A name I came up with a friend based on two of my favorite things: elephants and coffee.

To me, this name is more than just a reference to my own likes. The Caffeinated Elephant is about embracing every part of the messy growth process that is me becoming me.

It is cringing while I watch a youtube video of myself from 5 years ago, but loving myself all the same. The Caffeinated Elephant is showing gratitude for my bravery in continuing to plow on through diversity and insecurity while learning from mistakes I’ve made in my impulsiveness and headstrong heart. It is about continuing to grow into myself and continuing to forgive myself and offer myself grace instead of criticism. The Caffeinated Elephant is about becoming my best self, under Christ.

I bet you never thought such a silly name could be so deep, but there you have it. My goal in sharing this with you is that you will know that your growth, your words, your mistakes, all hold value. No matter what part of life you are in, you are loved by a Good Father who wants you to have good things!

The Caffeinated Elephant

 

So, during this upcoming month of August here are some things that I will be working on for me and you:

Psalms & Bloggers: I have renamed my “Soul Food” page to this more catchy title. On this page you will find:

  • Links to posts about what I am learning through my quiet times. (This month I am studying James.)
  • What others have posted that I found inspiring and or encouraging.
  • Some helpful guides on how to read and study your Bible as you develop a relationship with God.

The Holy Art of Homemaking: This is a brand-spanking-new page! On this page I will be posting about how I am learning to serve and love on my family through the mundane chores of domestic life. This month of August you will see:

  • Cleaning schedules
  • Organizing hacks and tips
  • Graciela’s DIY Harry Potter nursery
  • Frozen Meals/ meal planning

Pregnancy & Parenthood: One of my favorite categories! Here I will be posting about my experiences through pregnancy and what I am learning about how to deliver another baby into the world. Also, you can read up on how I am enjoying the toddler I already do have. Some things you might see this month:

  • Surviving a summer pregnancy
  • What is a doula and why you need one
  • Preparing for childbirth in the 3rd trimester
  • Activities for a one year old
  • What to feed your one year old
  • How to take guilt free time for yourself

Clarksville/ Nashville Area: This is an unfinished thought I have had about falling in love with my surrounding area. The page doesn’t even exist yet, but should I make it, I will post about:

  • Restaurants I liked
  • Fun things to do
  • My favorite businesses
  • Etc.

Are you as excited as I am for this month? Fellow bloggers, what are you working on this month? If you are interested in collaborating with me, shoot me a message! Readers, what types of posts are you most interested in seeing? How can I help you become your best self?

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram!

 

 

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

Mid-February of this year I found out I was expecting my second baby. My first born was only 9 months old at the time, but this phased me very little because I knew I wanted my children close together. Also, I pretty much had wanted to be pregnant again as soon as he came out! All that being said, I didn’t realize then the strain I was putting on my body. Some would argue that I was still recovering from childbirth and I was setting out to do the whole thing over again! As early as 12 weeks I was starting to feel hip and back pain. So, I did what most moms do and complained on facebook. The advice I got from my friends was almost unanimous: GO TO THE CHIROPRACTOR!

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

*This post may contain affiliate links, if you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!*


 

My first experience with the chiropractor was watching my husband be painfully readjusted after his back gave out. While I am open to alternative medicine I must admit that I lean towards skepticism. Eventually, the back pain started affecting my sleep and I gave in and scheduled an appointment.

All chiropractors are trained in prenatal care, but you can see chiropractors that have more advanced training with pregnant women. The highest level being a DACCP with the most advanced training, a CACCP a level under that. Chiropractors can be members of the ICPA which reflect interest in working with pregnant women, and finally a Webster Certified chiropractor who specializes with pelvic balance during pregnancy.

I am currently seeing Dr. Josh Lecker from Care Chiropractic. Each time I go, the appointment runs that same. I am greeted by friendly staff whom I have enjoyed getting to know over the past few months.

I am swiftly brought to the back and am adjusted on the table. The part where my belly goes slides downwards to create more room for baby. Dr. Lecker uses a tool called the activator, which reminds me of a hole punch. The activator tells certain nerves in your muscles to relax to help the adjustments become more effective.

After the initial adjustment I am then sent over to another table where they use a foam roller and do some additional stretching. Then it is time for my favorite part of the appointment, about 10 minutes on a roller table in a dark room. It is almost like a massage and is very relaxing. It is an important part of the appointment because this time of relaxation and spine stabilization allows the adjustment to “set in”. This table is called an IST table, and Dr. Lecker informed me that the movement it creates helps bring nourishment to the spine.

The final part of my appointment is where I sit on an exercise ball and do a few simple exercises. This includes rocking my pelvis front to back, side to side, and in circles. The movement created in the spine provides additional nourishment and encourages the baby to “fall into position.”

exercise ball

 

Benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include less chance of miscarriage, less back pain during pregnancy, less chance of the baby being breech, less chance of back labor, and also shorter labor time over all.

I will say that I have experienced less back pain overall throughout this pregnancy, but about the time I sat down to write about the miracles of chiropractic care, I started having some pretty serious back pain. I scheduled an appointment and had strict instructions to ice the area. As pregnancy continues the hormone relaxin is loosening your joints and fighting against each adjustment. Dr. Lecker did admit to me that chiropractic treatment it isn’t perfect. He adjusted his own wife throughout pregnancy and during labor and she still had a c-section for a breech baby.

Unfortunately, my back pain has continued and become more severe. At this moment I am sitting with three pillows propping me up and ice strapped to my back. I have another appointment scheduled for Monday and am praying that I will be feeling better by then. I continue to hold onto the promises for a shorter labor and NO back labor. (Something I experienced with my first born. You can read it here.)

Have you had chiropractic care during pregnancy? What benefits did you see?

You can read more information on the subject at the American Pregnancy Association or if you want to get more analytical check out this article from the NCBI.

 



Lucas’s Birth Story



I have had several people ask me about my birth story so I decided to write about it. My midwife also suggested I do this to help process everything that happened. Giving birth can be a big deal to some ladies, and my all natural birth didn’t quite go as planned.

It starts with when I went in for my 39 week prenatal appointment. The medical assistant brought me back as usual and she took my blood pressure. I normally read below 100 and almost never about 110 systolic so when the machine said 149/96 I asked her to check again. The next two readings, one with the same machine on a different arm, and another done manually after some rest, ran high. After that the midwife came in and checked me and sent me over to the hospital for a non-stress test and to check for preeclampsia. I really wasn’t feeling very worried yet, sometimes blood pressure just takes high for a lot of different reasons.

When I got onto the floor, the nurses that greeted me were completely scrubbed up and attacked the new admit in that great way we nurses do. I had 18 gauges thrown at me and a bag of fluid was hung wide open. A full set of labs was drawn and a blood band was smacked down on my arm. The fetal heart rate monitor was put on, as well as the tocometer, and I heard something about a catheter. When the midwife came in I asked if the baby was alright and if I needed to call my husband. I had become a little teary because I thought they were going to take me to the OR and hand me a baby while I had zero support/ preparation for that to happen. Luckily, the baby was fine and I was looking fine to. My mom came down to keep me company while they monitored me and the baby. The midwife told me that I had some protein in my urine. The comfortable limit was a value of 0.3 and I had a value of 0.32. I was sent home with a large orange jug and orders for a 24 hour urine screen. That is this super fun thing where you have to save all your pee and put on ice for 24 hours.

I pretty much continued life as normal. I complained about being pregnant a lot and tried to distract myself from my imminent due date. I returned to the doctor for blood pressure checks and to drop off my jug-o-urine and spent the day with Enrique. That night we went over to my parents house for dinner and just relaxed and enjoyed each others company. When I got home I was pretty tired and looking forward to crawling into bed. That is when my phone rang. The on call midwife said that I had more protein in my urine and that they wanted to induce. I said, “You mean tonight?” I was pretty shocked. First of all, I really didn’t want to be induced. Secondly, I really was very tired. I called my doula and told her we were going in to ask more questions and get some more answers.

When Enrique and I got there we found out that the protein in my urine had doubled in the past 24 hours, so for the safety of the baby and I we decided to move forward with the induction. The plan was to receive 2-3 doses of Cytotec, a cervical ripener and then to be put on Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin in the morning to start contractions. I received my first dose of Cytotec at midnight. I was trying to get comfortable while in the hospital bed.

I was again hooked up the the fetal monitor and had another IV. I was very tired and I wanted to rest that night before it went down the next day. Enrique made himself comfortable on the couch and watched a basketball game and started dozing.  I kept getting up to go to the restroom and asking for more pillows. My poor nurse was so patient with me. She kept coming in after I had unhooked myself from all my monitors every five minutes and remained totally nice about everything. Enrique would get up and help me untangle myself as well. At 4:00 AM the midwife came back in and checked me and gave me the second dose of Cytotec. I was dilated at 1cm and “soft”. After that second dose it started getting very real very fast. I began to have contractions and asked the nurse for a birth ball to sit on. Luckily, I never had to have any Pitocin, my body started doing everything. We were able to pretty much follow my birth plan at this point. At first I just sat on the ball and leaned over onto the bed, still trying to sleep. Enrique had been able to fall asleep on the couch but not for long because I started to play music to try and distract myself from the pain. I noticed at this point that I had begun to bleed. At 6:30 AM I once again got up to go sit on the toilet with both my nurse and Enrique staring at me. I felt the “gush” everyone talked about. I told my nurse “Oh, I think my water broke.” She asked if  I was sure it wasn’t pee and I laughed and said I couldn’t be sure. It turns out that I was right and my water had in fact broken.

After that I started to feel some real pain. I was still on the birth ball leaning over onto the bed and I had begun to get louder with my contractions. Enrique sat behind me and rubbed my back. When the midwife came in and checked me around 8:00 AM I was dilated 3cm. I asked her for pain medicine, and she said she would give them to me but reminded me that my birth plan said no medication and told me the risks the medication had on the baby. I agreed that it wasn’t the best choice and went back to moaning on my birth ball. I asked Enrique to go ahead and call my doula so I had someone else there to help keep me calm and deter me from drugs. This is pretty much how it went for the next several hours. My doula Mercy and Enrique were so awesome. They rubbed my back and my hair and told me I was doing great. They helped me in and out of a warm bath  gave me sips of water after each contraction. Mercy helped remind me to breathe through contraction. I remember at one point she asked me, “Are you in the zone?” and I just whined, “No!”

Every bit of my labor was in my lower back, so it felt impossible for me to be any position other than all fours. I had quite a lot of bloody show at this point. I eventually was on the bed, leaning over a peanut ball while Mercy and Enrique catered to all my needs. The midwife came in and checked me and Enrique went to go call my mom, which was a good sign. I looked at Mercy and told her, “I can’t do this much longer.” She told me that this was the time when everyone wanted to quit and that I was dilated 7cm, in transition. She asked me if I remembered anything about this stage of labor from school and I thought for a minute and then said, “That it sucks.” She then gently reminded me that it is also the shortest phase of labor…for most women.

I continued laboring, and my mother arrived. I had sweat off my first IV and they had to call anesthesia to come start a new one because I was so swollen. Everyone was trying to cover me up to preserve my dignity, and I remember not being interested in that at all. The man came in and started looking at my arms and hands. He was asking me to lay on my side which I was also not interested in, He tried several times to stick me and kept telling me he was giving me lidocaine, then miss the IV. He was also getting frustrated because I was having a hard time staying still with contractions. I wanted to scream at him and say, “I CAN NOT STAY STILL, SCREW THE LIDOCAINE AND STICK!” I didn’t though and he eventually started the IV. At about noon the midwife came in and announced that I was complete. 10cm dilated, fully effaced, but the baby was at -3 station. The baby was also sunny side up, which is why I had so much back labor. She told me that I had work to do. For the next hour we tried to labor him down and I tried to push when I felt like it. I was surprised that I actually had no idea how to push. Mercy had to coach me through it. All of that to say that it felt like my first hour of pushing was absolutely worthless. After this I had no concept of time. I was in more pain than I had ever been in. I was starting to panic and go ballistic. What was taking so long? I thought the baby was supposed to slide out after you were complete. I’d been laboring for hours, I had been up all night and I was losing it. I continued to try to push but my energy was draining. Mercy kept telling me, “You are doing this, you are pushing him out.” The baby did slide down to zero station. We were so close and I was in agony. I tried squatting at the side of the bed, but as soon as I did the midwife came in and wanted to check me. I needed physical help to move. She told me she wouldn’t deliver the baby standing and to get back in bed. I conceded enough to get on all fours in bed. She checked me again, which I might add is incredibly painful. There had been no progress.

I continued to try and push in several positions. The baby’s head was in a weird position. I honestly can’t remember what they were saying more than that. We began to try and get him to turn. I was laying on my side and using the peanut ball. Mercy kept asking me to straighten my bottom leg, which seemed impossible. I know that the nursery nurse came in twice. They even turned on the infant warmer. Then they came back and turned it off, I was still pushing and feeling discouraged and crazy. At some point after being on the monitor they cranked up my fluids. During this time my IV infiltrated and was now useless and my arm was incredibly swollen. I also remember the midwife saying something about putting me on oxygen but they never did. They wanted me to try and drink juice to regain energy, but it made me super sick.  I was starting to panic. The midwife mentioned that they might use forceps and both Enrique and I said, “No!” pretty forcefully. Mercy kept reassuring me everything was fine. I kept saying, “You have got to help me!” Finally, I gave Enrique the “code word” for an epidural. We made sure the code word was something I would not want to say and was super inappropriate to discourage me from getting any drugs. Unfortunately, by that point I was done.

The epidural took forever. I kept thinking, I should forget it and keep going. I was sitting on the side of the bed while she poked holes in my back. The contractions were still coming and I would unwillingly bear down with each one. I had calmed down though and was staying still. I was hoping that the baby would just turn and slide out before she got the epidural in and I would have reached my goal. She did finally get the epidural and it was heaven. I have never felt so much  relief. After that they pretty much prepped me for surgery. They said they let first time mom’s push for four hours before calling it a fail and that I wasn’t going to be able to push the baby out in the next 30 minutes. (Ouch.) Apparently we had been told this information when the midwife had announced that I was complete. My mother heard it, but neither I, Enrique or my doula heard the midwife tell us that I had four hours. Honestly, at this point in the game I didn’t care. I was ready to be done.

After that I was wheeled to the OR. On the table I was shaking like crazy, the doctor even commented on my teeth chattering. They had also given me an antibiotic that made me super nauseated and I kept turning my head because I thought I would throw up. The nurse anesthetists blew hot air on me and gave me some Zofran. Enrique was brought in the room and stood by my head but also watched the surgery. When they got Lucas out at 4:29 PM and showed him to me, I just started crying but I wasn’t producing any tears because I was so dehydrated. The doctor  said Lucas had the largest “cap” he had seen in 10 years. I encouraged Enrique to go over to the warmer and see Lucas while they were stitching me up. When they brought Lucas to me I was shaking very badly and didn’t want to touch him for fear of hurting him.

About 30 minutes to an hour later they brought the baby back to the room with me. Mercy kept me company during the wait and helped me try to initiate breastfeeding. I think I was in shock that I actually had a baby, and super in love.

I was/ am a little disappointed in myself for asking for the epidural. I feel that had I known I only had four hours to push I could have endured at least that. I was also ashamed because I didn’t call to the Lord once through the process. I had memorized scripture and had worship music in the background, but in all my pain I was only focused on me. I think a lot of the reason I asked for it was that I did NOT expect to be pushing that long. I knew labor would be painful, so when it was painful everything seemed normal and going along as planned. The contractions hurt but I knew to breathe through them and relax. Also, having the midwife say I wasn’t progressing and nursery in and out with no baby was very discouraging. I also had not planned on an induction and it may have been that he was just not quite ready to come out. When they told me I was going to have a c-section I was not worried about it. I will say that about two days later, I was really worried about it. Recovering from surgery was not very fun, especially when you are sleep deprived and caring for your newborn.  At the end of they day I am at peace that both Lucas and I are healthy. He is the best and most handsome baby I have ever laid eyes on.



Update! 7/23/17



Woah! Did the past two weeks really just happen? I thought that after my long break from the internet world it was time for an update. I have to say that I have a huge admiration for single parents, military spouses, and anyone who really has to parent alone. My husband was gone for work the past two weeks and I was home to work, watch house and take care of Lucas. Even with the help of my mom, who is a tremendous support to our family, it was hard.

tired

I took the first week in stride, but eventually mom guilt and fatigue settled in. One day after waking up from night shift, I picked up Lucas and went shopping. So, my July Spending Freeze just deteriorated from there. Discouraged by the expenses coming from my husband being in Washington and a 200 dollar vet bill, I continued to deplete the bank account with some new maternity clothes. I considered taking it in stride and continuing with controlling my spending, but poor planning and lack of discipline took over. So, I will revisit it another month. I think it will be better to plan and set myself up for success, rather than trying to truck through a ton of crappy circumstances.

Eventually, I just put all my goals on hold and set into survival mode. I was already feeling like I had limited time to spend with Lucas so I took a one day hiatus from blogging that turned into the rest of the week. I really focused on resting and enjoying him. It was well worth it. We have hit so many milestones this week it is crazy. He magically decided to start drinking through a straw, a skill we have been working on FOR MONTHS. Also, he has said his first word (other than mama and dada) which is, “Car.” The cherry on top is that he is standing and taking steps all on his own. I’m serious, he just went wild!

Basically, what the week taught me is how much I love and appreciate my husband. I hope I never have to do life without him. He is my best friend and biggest helper and my safety net.

The week has also taught me that if I want to be serious about not only blogging but blog promotion, I need to find ways to be more hands off. I want to write. I want to interact with people who are reading my material, but I need to schedule those posts and social media prompts. That way I am free to love on you all and my family, not spending all my time trying to keep up with notifications. So, this week I will be working on installing programs that will schedule my posts for me, and scheduling my own time where I can sit down and respond to you without neglecting my family.

I also need to get back into my quiet times. Ridiculously, I decide to stop doing this to try to find rest when reality is that I find so much peace and rest by continuing it. My attitude continues to decline and more and more gets put on the backburner. My energy is just zapped because I am so self-focused.

Lastly, we hit 90 days until Graciela makes her arrival. I know we are now in crunch time mode and I need to be preparing for her appearance. By taking care of myself, getting her room in order and stock piling freezer meals and doing some deep cleaning that I know will not get done for quite awhile.

Anyway, that has been what I’ve been going through. I know it was a lot of whining and I will try to remedy that. Be on the lookout, because it is going to be a better week. We are going to be normal human beings who do adult life. Are you ready?



The Lonely Church

My morning was a fluster of sending my husband off work and getting Lucas fed, watered and bathed. Not to mention that I also needed some direct pampering. After a kiss on the cheek and an “I love you” my husband was out the door leaving me to sip my lukewarm coffee and tear my closet apart for an outfit appropriate for church.

Ya’ll, I did real good. My hair and makeup were done and I wore a cute teal maternity dress with a shawl and jewelry that matched my flip flops. Lucas and I arrived at church 15 minutes early and my heart crowed with pride as I walked into the sanctuary sipping my second cup of coffee with 5 minutes to spare.

“This is nice.” I thought to myself. My hectic morning coming to a peaceful halt. Loving my time to myself, I chose a seat towards the middle and looking up noticed a younger woman in the row in front of me who was also alone. The spirit moved the first time, “She looks new.” He told me. I thought, “Oh yes, that’s great!” and continued to prepare for service. “Do you remember,” the spirit asked me, “when you were new and all alone at church? Do you remember how no one talked to you? Do you remember going back to your dorm room and crying?” My heart sighed because I did remember. It then started to pump with the anxiety of having to speak with someone that I did not know. The Spirit continued to wrestle with my flesh.



Finally, succumbed to obedience and tapped her on the shoulder and asked if it was her first time here. Actually, it was her second time. She was a college student and had lived in our town for about a year with continued church hunting. I told her, “I wanted to make sure that you knew you had a friend here. I remember coming to church alone and how hard that was.” She told me that I was the first person, from multiple churches to ever reach out to her.

Afterward, I invited her out to lunch, and she agreed. During this time we were able to get to know one another a little better. A day later she came to my house to join my community group and I for a game night. We also made plans to get coffee so I could introduce her to a few single gals that could hook her up with the fellowship and guidance she had been seeking.

These were immediate rewards to an opportunity that I almost lost because I wanted my “alone time” at church. I was prepared to walk into church and worship the way that I felt was best, simultaneously ignoring all commands that Christ gave me about how to treat His body.

I wanted:

  • Good music, check.
  • Good sermon, check.
  • Eat mexican food, check.
  • Go home and nap. Check, check.
Is that in the Bible like…anywhere? When Jesus said, “Make fishers of men” did he just mean smile and say good morning? When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” and told him to “Feed His sheep” did he just mean listen to the sermon while thinking about your ever growing to do list and a small response from the heart towards the end?

Continually, I think that just showing up is enough. I have gone to my current church for a year and a half and am active with a community group there. Do you want to know how many new people I have met and reached out to? One; and you just read that story.



Preaching continuously, Jesus went from town to town. He sent his disciples out in pairs as “sheep among wolves.” He made no implications that this wouldn’t be hard work. Let’s get even more honest here, this is in reference to Luke 10:1-19. He is sending the disciples OUT. I was already IN the church. Seriously, half the work was already done. She obviously wanted to be there because she came of her own accord and I was willing to pass her by. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us this:

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

God has equipped us with different gifts to be able to “build up” His church. I just want to remind you (and me!) that your spiritual gift is not sitting and listening quietly. Your spiritual gift is not being able to show up to church looking cute and with children in coordinating outfits. Your spiritual gift is not leaving the building feeling warm and happy feeling because the pastor told you the God loves you and you can smell the enchiladas from the parking lot. You have a Holy calling to build up His church.

I believe that Acts 2 gives us an example of just how the church is supposed to function. That if we mimic and follow these principles that our support group of believers will thrive and grow.

Acts 2

Devote ourselves to:

  • Teaching
  • Fellowship
  • Breaking of Bread
  • Prayer
  • Helping those in need

We are told that these early Christians met with each other daily, that they ate with each other. (I knew mexican food wasn’t the enemy!) Having everything in common (commitment to Christ) and glad and sincere hearts. Not only that, but we are told that because they had these principles down that they enjoyed the favor of all the people and that the Lord added to their number daily.

In conclusion, I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and the culture of your Christianity and devote yourselves to one another. As a church of individual people, but we must be united to complete the Lord’s work.

Ephesians 4

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the Truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect that mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body joined together and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:14-16

Have you ever felt lonely at church? What are practical ways you can build your church up?



The Breastfeeding Basket

When Lucas was born and we were in the early throws of breastfeeding; I would often find myself confined to a chair for up to two hours at a time while he cluster fed. Consequently, I was grateful to have certain nursing “stations” set up, a simple breastfeeding basket. As I prepare for Graciela, I was reminded of what came in handy and wanted to share that with you.

 

 

breastfeeding basket

*This post contains affiliate links! If you choose to purchase any of the items I am recommending I will receive a small commission. This in no way affects your cost and I only recommend what I adore!*

 

 



 

Water Bottle: This contigo was my go to.

Snacks: I often just had oatmeal bars, but I think this time around I would like to try some lactation cookies, like these.

Hair Ties: or head bands or bobby pins, whatever you prefer!

Lip Balm: I’m forever a lover of Burt’s Bees.

Phone Charger: I promise your phone will die as soon as your little one falls asleep. I PROMISE.

Entertainment: I went through all the seasons of Parks and Recreation on netflix. I also read through, Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes ,The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne. This time around I would like to read A Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I would also keep my Bible on hand so I could try and dedicate one nursing session to my Quiet Time.

Baby Finger Nail Clippers: No better time than when they are in a milk-coma!

Baby Lotion: Lucas struggles with eczema so I always had Aveeno Eczema baby and Vaseline on hand. I really want to try this Burt’s Bees ointment.

Blankie: Just in case either of you get cold. I love love love Aden & Anais Muslin swaddles.

Burp Cloths: For unexpected, and expected messes!

Lanolin: I applied this after every nursing session and it held me in good stead!

Soothies: When I nursed with Lucas I only used these one time. Someone gave them to me at my baby shower and I swore that I would only use them when I was “at my worst.” Well one day came where I was cracked, bleeding and sore, and I thought, “No, it could get worse!” It didn’t get worse and I used the soothies on a day I needed them less. They were still heavenly. This time around I will invest in a few sets so I’m not so stingy and can have some more relief!

Nursing Pads: I liked having the disposable because they offered more coverage and seemed to wick moisture away better, but there are also great reuseable varieties! How could you resist buying some called “Bamboobies?



 

 

I always appreciated to have a nursing cover (I can’t wait to buy a milksnob!) and my breast pump nearby as well. You could use a blankie to cover up if you had unexpected company (that can happen in those early days!) but, I always liked to have something lighter on hand. I remember at first feeling like Lucas was not emptying me out, or would only nurse from one breast and I would be left uncomfortable. So, right or wrong I would follow with my pump. (Again, I want to suggest that you buy a Medela!) I know some ladies will pump on one side while their baby nurses on the other to increase supply.

breastfeeding basket

Successful milk-coma.

 

 

Those were my favorite items to have on hand. Do you have any favorites? What were you caught without during an ultra long nursing session?

 

Grace Be To Mommy!

Grace Be To Mommy

This week has been crazy- which is mainly my own fault. Pregnancy hormones are on the rise and my moods have swung back and forth with the consistency of a pendulum on an old grandfather clock. Consequently, I have snapped at my husband, forgotten two important appointments, double booked myself for work and a class, ignored my son, and sobbed. Straight up locked myself in my bathroom and sobbed for like 10 minutes. Grace be to Mommy! My husband has told me, “Hey, relax.” My mother has comforted me, “You are too hard on yourself, his (Lucas) every need is met.” They have offered me grace upon grace, but it took hearing it from the Lord, multiple times, until I let it comfort me.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

Isn’t it nice that the Lord gives all of us mommies a head nod? He is saying, “Hey, I see what you are doing, and it is hard.” He promises to take extra gentle care when leading us. In Mark 13 he discusses how difficult the end times will be, and again pays mothers a specific reference:“How dreadful it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” Never let anyone tell you that your responsibility as a mother isn’t hard or important. Even the Lord understands.

He gently leads those who have young

On top of just the normal daily struggles I have been going through this week, I have been wrestling with an important decision. The decision to stay working full time once Graciela is born or to cut back and work about once a week. If I choose the latter that means I would have to withdraw an application for a job that I have wanted since I graduated. This job is in the area that I ultimately want to end up in.

Am I less of a woman if I decide to stay home? Why can’t I handle the stress of a career and family? What was the point of working so hard for a degree that I won’t use or love?

During more than one of my quiet times this week I told the Lord how tired I was. I told Him I felt overlooked, that my efforts were unnoticed or unappreciated, my feelings were hurt. I related myself to the woman in Mark 12:41-44

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling His disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of her wealth; but she out of her poverty, put in everything. All she had to live on.”

Bear with me, I know I’m stretching it. I inquired of the Lord, what about poverty in spirit? I feel that I am pouring my soul out to serve and then I’m surprised when I feel empty. I whined and pitied myself, even though the reality of the situation was not that bad. Grace be to mommy! The Lord lead me gently hear and reminded me of how blessed I am. He lovingly told me to fix my attitude and stand firm with Him. That following Jesus is a daily, sometimes hourly and sometimes by the minute act.

Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily.”

Pretty convicting while I sit in a comfortable chair and blog. In this season of life, denying myself means forgiving my husband and having patience when he doesn’t separate the laundry into darks and lights. Denying myself means coming home from work and lovingly picking up the house and providing dinner for my family. Taking up my cross is every dirty diaper and every act of patience when Lucas is impatient. Taking up my cross means making time for the Lord, not being ashamed of His Word and impact on my life. It means reaching out to other women in honesty and respect. My cross is acting out in obedience to what He tells me to do.

When I prayed over the decision to continue working full time or not, I asked God to make this decision very clear to me. My answer came when my husband told me, “Yeah, I think I would like having you home.” Multiple times, in multiple ways. In the past, he has expressed a desire for me to work- a desire that I have fought against. So, to hear him say he wants me home made the decision clear for me.

Today my husband came up behind me in the kitchen and wrapped his arms around me and said, “Man, I love you.” Lucas woke up in the middle of the night and I snuggled him for a short while and he was so sweet giving me kisses and smiles. Whether God pressed it onto their hearts to show me extra love or he changed my heart to notice the small things-it comforted my spirit.

So, the next time you are depleted in spirit and overwhelmed in the daily tasks of motherhood, I ask you to do these three things:

 

  1. Pray. Tell God how you are feeling. He already knows, but He wants to hear it from you. Tell him what you are feeling, why you are feeling that. He is our greatest friend and the best listener.
  2. Listen. The Lord is also a great speaker, and prepare your heart for answers that may be hard to hear. The best way to hear from the Lord is from His word. (If you struggle with quiet times, read this!) A friend or mentor is also a great way to hear from God. (The best ones will point you back to His word!)
  3. Act. Did the Lord tell you to do something? It can be as simple as forgiving yourself for forgetting to take your dog to the vet and as humiliating as apologizing to your husband for your mean and hormonal response. Maybe He tells you to rest and take time to enjoy your children, home, and the fruit of your labor. However, He could also tell you to “Suck it up, buttercup!” and to keep moving forward and serving your family.

Take up your cross

Has the Lord gently led you in this area? In what areas have you felt overwhelmed or convicted as a mother? What advice have you heard from other moms? What has God told you? I want to hear your stories…and remember GRACE BE TO MOMMY!

Please leave me a comment, your feedback encourages me! Don’t forget to SHARE the love. Find me on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

Grace Be To Mommy!

 

 



July Spending Freeze Week 1

A week ago today I whole heartedly set out to complete a full month without spending. Friends, can I be honest with you? I have already failed. Unfortunately, I ran out and bought some sonic before a shift at work…on Day 3 no less. I ONLY WENT THREE DAYS! Don’t worry though. I am offering myself plenty of forgiveness and grace and I have taken steps to prevent myself from making the same mistakes!

*Heads up! This post contains affiliate links! If you buy anything by clicking one of these ads you will be supporting my family because I may receive a small commission. This will never effect your price!*

First things first, I have taken my credit cards out of my wallet and placed them in a “safe place”. Usually, my husband and I take out cash to budget for groceries and gas, so that stays out of reach of temptation as well. I am keeping my debit card in my wallet in case of an emergency. My husband and I have a joint account though, so I do have accountability here.

Ultimately, this week I feel like I did not dedicate myself enough to the tasks she set out-and frankly I wasn’t incredibly interested in them. The first task was to clean and organize my pantry. This was awesome for me to do.  The instructions are as follows:

  1. Clear out a large space to work on: you are going to need somewhere to put everything!
  2. Remove everything from each pantry shelf, one at a time: while you are doing this you can check for any expired or yucky items. I then placed them on my workspace and organized them into categories. (Baking, canned goods, ready-made meals, etc.)
  3. Clean each shelf after removing all items: Oh my goodness. I couldn’t believe how much this was needed. This pantry had the year and a half of gunk from my own family plus what I am guessing is 11 years of another family’s gunk. YUCK. I scrubbed the pantry down and it still smells fresh and clean!
  4. Write down each item as you go: I half heartedly did this. This is not my strong point and I don’t enjoy taking inventory.
  5. Put everything back in a clean and logical order: this I did enjoy! I was instructed to place items back like you would find them in a grocery store. Opened or older items first then newer items. All labels facing front and items you use the most at eye level.
  6. Sit back and enjoy your clean pantry!

organized pantry

I can honestly say that I loved this task and that items in my pantry are starting to be used! I couldn’t believe how many boxes of pasta I had and cans upon cans of diced tomatoes. We had snacks we could eat. After a week it was good to see the progress we made on all that food! Without spending a dime!

Day 3’s was to use my pantry inventory and make a meal plan for the entire month. I didn’t do this. It isn’t my thing. I can’t plan that far in advance and I don’t want to. So I skipped it…probably why I grabbed Sonic.



 

Day 4 was to organize a meal swap. I may do this when I make a dinner worthy of someone else eating it. It didn’t feel right to say, “Hey will you make me a delicious meal and I will give you one I made up of old leftovers?” So, for now this task is on hold.

Day 5 eat out at home. In the book, she includes lots of links to different recipes you can try. I just tried the Trim Healthy Mama version of Zuppa Tuscana and experimented with my own versions of “Frappuccinos”. I liked these because they were healthier versions of food I was craving. Check out the recipe for my Protein Packed Chocolate Frap.

Chocolate Frap

 

Day 6 was to get into freezer cooking. Again she has some great recipes. I made a few dinners out of what I had in my freezer and pantry that will be ready to cook in a few days. I do love freezer cooking and want to keep this up for when the baby arrives. It is so nice to not have to worry about what to make or when to start dinner. It is sitting in the freezer waiting for us.

freezer dinner

Finally, Day 7, a day of reflection: The hardest part of the spending freeze has been going back and forth with my husband about what are needs and what are not needs. I have felt that it was all on me to make the decisions and that he was barely tolerating the spending freeze. He is coming around however with my constant reminding about what we can buy and what we can’t. (Mainly food- before we buy more fruit we need to eat all the apples we have..etc.)

In conclusion, I will keep chugging along! This week I will be focusing on getting my house clean! What are you biggest challenges when saving money? Do you like to plan your meals ahead or do you just wing it?

Resources:

www.livingwellspendingless.com