Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interesting E-book

I'm excited to read this e-book, 31 Days to Clean, "Having a Martha House the Mary Way" and am taking advantage of the author's freebie offer today for blogging about it.  If you do miss this freebie, it looks like it is only $4.99 to purchase and looks well worth the cost!  I'll let you know what I think of it when I read it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Gift That Came on March 30th

On March 30th, God blessed our family with a new member! My little nephew Jedediah David! Yes, the name David is not in short supply in our family as I have a brother Colter David who goes by David in Latin America, a son Jeremiah David, and another nephew named David as well as cousins and uncles with that name too. They wanted to name him Jedediah Colter but considering that Latin Americans cannot pronounce the name Colter, the name Jed, or their last name, they wanted him to have one name that Spanish-speakers could pronounce.  Jed is such a sweetie and I'm absolutely desperate to hold him! They live overseas where they are missionaries and I can't wait to hold him for the first time this summer when they go on furlough. There is something surreal about seeing your sibling's kid!
 My brother, and his sweet little family
My favorite photo they have sent us of Jed thus far.  His mama, Anna, who is half-Honduran, is soooo pretty and he looks just like her and has more hair than any newborn I've ever seen!  However, I'm not sure I can stay friends with her after hearing her natural childbirth story, which includes phrases like, "Only a couple of hours of pain" and "Not that bad" and "I want to have 12 kids!" All joking aside, she is very sweet and makes my brother very happy!

Meeting Money Saving Mom

My husband accuses me of acting like a teenage girl about meeting Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom.  But can you blame me?  She has been one of my biggest inspirations in blogging, couponing, living frugally, and "making my home a haven".  She challenges me to grow, and even though she was only an online acquaintence up until a week ago, her thoughts, via blogging, were a part of every weekday for me for the past 4 years!  I learned couponing and working the Walgreens deals from her!  Her "Big, Huge, Audacious Goal" of paying cash for a house inspired me to do a BHAG too and save for a really nice camera!  I'm a better wife, mother, homeschool mom, manager of my money, and blogger because of her influence, so I was unbelievably stoked to be able to meet her!  When we made plans to visit our friends who live in her state and only 40 minutes away from her, my hubby told me I should write to her and ask her to meet me for coffee.  I did, and held my breath wondering if she'd have the time as she is busy completing a huge book project.  She did want to meet!  I tried not to get my hopes up and only told a few friends about my plans in case they fell through.  Up until the day I walked into that coffee shop I was afraid our plans would be cancelled and I would be royally disappointed.  But they weren't!  And as I sat down in the crowded little Starbucks, reading a newspaper, juggling my baby, pinching myself to see if I was dreaming, and watching the clock, she walked through the door, holding her darling little son, right on time! 

My friends whom we were visiting can attest to the fact that I was goofy, nervous, and over-analytical about the visit.  I worried that I'd say something really stupid or not have anything to talk about with her, and I made sure to have cash on hand because I felt like I was buying coffee for Dave Ramsey.  I didn't dare buy her coffee on my debit card, because my debit card goes through as a credit card and you don't want to buy someone who's anti-credit card something on credit!   I brought her a gift of a few groceries (aren't groceries the perfect gift for a couponer?) I knew she liked from reading her weekly menus, hoping she didn't think I was a stalker because I knew her preferences so well!

From the minute she sat down at my table, we hit it off and talked nonstop for over 2 hours!  In fact, my friend Shiloh came to pick me up and I wasn't ready so she had to come back a half an hour later after taking a picture for me, bless her heart!  Thanks Shiloh!  We had gazillions of things to talk about and we probably could have gone on talking for several days if time had allowed!  I was blown away by how authentic and "real" Crystal truly is.  And though I had anticipated her being very nice, she's far more sweet and soft-spoken than I had pictured!  It's clear that Crystal loves the Lord and wants to glorify Him, but not in a preachy or holier-than-thou way.  She is humble, and she is patient, and God has clearly chosen to use her as a vessel to reach many.  She's a real woman and real mom with real struggles and challenges just like you and me. 

 Crystal and Silas, who joined us for part of the time until his daddy picked him up
 Katrielle was a bit fussy but Crystal offered to hold her for me and got her to sleep for me!  A Frugalista and a Baby Whisperer!
My parents asked me if Crystal was standing up in this pic.  She is!  =)  I'm only 5'6" but she does make me look tall!  

What a special blessing from the Lord it was to be able to spend some "in real life" time with someone who has had such a big impact on me!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thoughts on Suffering

It's been said that sometimes when the night is darkest, the stars shine the brightest.

In the midst of my darkest days with PPD, when I felt like God was far away and ignoring me, He truly was holding me.  Though He seemed silent, He kept me alive when I was feeling beyond overwhelmed by life and wanting to die and led me to just the right solution thanks to my very-wise doctor.

I never realized the depth of my husband's love for me until I felt completely unloveable and broken and needy, only to have him tenderly care for me and provide for all of my needs, showing me the most profound example I've ever seen of Christ's love for His church.

God has provided meals unexpectedly, through sweet friends, on some of the hardest days.  And older women in my family and in church who care enough to ask, "How are you really doing?" and share their own experiences with postpartum depression and rearing 4 little ones.  What a blessing it is to have their encouragement and to have them hold my baby for me at church, and have their older children help me carry diaper bags and corral kids!  What a blessing it is to talk to friends my own age who have experienced PPD and offer tips and promise to pray.

According to "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul David Tripp, a book my aunt recommended to me, suffering:
*Gives us the opportunity to make truth concrete for people.
*Encourages us to depend on Christ, rather than on ourselves.
*Encourages humility and honesty.
*Redeems my story.
*Makes my life a window to the glory of Christ.
*Results in worship of Christ.

Suffering is not easy or fun.  But, according to page 145 of this book, "Suffering is not only the common ground of human relationships, but one of God's most useful workrooms."  And every one of us will suffer.  "Our experience differs only in the degree of the pain." (Page 143.)

The paradigm of purposeful suffering, taken from Paul's example in 2 Cor. 1:3-11 leads us to see that we suffer to lead to the experience of God's comfort, producing the ability to comfort others, resulting in a community of hope. (Page 154.) 

As I think about the trials we have been through, and the stories I could tell of God's faithfulness in those trials, I am inspired to comfort those who are in the situations I have been in, in the same way that loving people have ministered to me.  I don't want to waste my life or my suffering.  Whatever God has given me is a platform for His glory and I know He can use my sufferings, however small in comparison to the great sufferings of many in this fallen world, to bring comfort to others.  So, someday, I'm going to be buying pizza gift cards for moms going through intense pregnancy nausea, and offering to babysit a mom with small children, and sending a helpful book to a young mom desperate for tips on getting her baby to sleep at night, and paying for a busy young mom to have a nanny come for a few hours once a week, and offering to hold the fussy baby, and bringing a meal by unexpectedly, or sending an e-mail asking if she is truly doing okay.  And in doing these things, God will bring hope and comfort to those who are suffering.

May this post encourage you readers, in whatever you are facing today.  One of my favorite quotes is, "Be kind, for every man you meet is fighting a hard battle."  Whatever that battle is today, I pray that you would suffer for the glory of our Lord Jesus.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pretty and Unique Table Decor

We recently visited our beloved friends who moved back to Kansas.  You may remember an interview I did on my blog a couple of years ago with my friend Shiloh, who is the world's tidiest housekeeper on how she manages to keep her house perfect with twin preschoolers.  Now those twins are 5 1/2 and they also have a 2 year old.  Her house is still the cleanest I've ever seen and not only that, but one of the most tastefully decorated homes too.  My husband and I concluded, after staying in their home, which they decorate on a budget, that we are country bumpkins that know nothing about style and elegance in home decor.  Maybe when Shiloh visits us this summer we will ask her for tips on how she would decorate our home if it was hers.  I thought this simple, but interesting centerpiece was worthy of a blog post. 

 While you could probably make these paper balls from scrap newspapers and modge podge, she purchased them from Pier 1.  I absolutely LOVE that store, but don't get the opportunity to shop in one very often.
Fun, artsy, and modern!

The Manners Pig

A few weeks ago our Pray n' Play devotional was on teaching your children table manners.  The lesson suggested using a little plastic pig to play a game during each meal to remind kids of their manners.  I found a little pig at the local dollar store and wrote some of our family's table etiquette rules on it with a permanent marker.  He sits on the dining table and whenever someone is caught breaking one of our family rules, the "Manners Pig" as my little ones call it, gets put in front of the offender's plate.  The last person to end up with the pig has to clear the table.  My kids love this game and I'm loving how it is helping their manners tremendously!  But I will say that if you implement this in your home, be prepared to be caught forgetting your own manners by your children!

What rules do we have for our children at the table?
*Say please and thank you
*Sit up with your feet in front of you
*No elbows on the table
*Chew with your mouth closed
*Speak quietly, no shouting.
*Ask to be excused when you are done.
*Stay in your chair for the whole meal unless you are asked to get something or have permission to leave the table
*Don't speak with food in your mouth
*Don't throw food on the floor

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Justus and Katrielle's Dedication

 Our "little" kids.  The second brother-sister set of kids in our family to have a dedication.
Alathia and Jeremiah were 2.5 and 6 months when they were dedicated on my golden birthday 4 years ago.  Justus and Katrielle are the same ages--2.5 and amost-6-months!

 Our family and my parents on the left, Pastor Richard, and Pastor Matt and his family on the right

Katrielle and Marius slept through the dedication.  Camilla is a good friend and one of our pastor's wives.  She had Marius 5 days before I had Katri.  She is one of the strongest women I know--having given birth 3 times at home and having had to push for 3 hours with each one of her kids!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Girls and Shoes

What could be better than dark chocolate with almonds or a Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Mocha?  How about finding a darling pair of your favorite kind of shoes in your favorite brand on a really good sale?  I don't know what it is about girls and shoes......I just know I love these!

You're Going to See a Lot of Pictures Here

Cute Crafts

I'm so blessed to have a really creative friend!  Actually, I have LOTS of creative friends, but my friend Amanda is especially creative with paper/cards/scrapbooking type stuff.  The other day my mom asked me if I wanted to make some little gifty things for some volunteers at her school and I immediately called Amanda, because she is the queen of all things gifty and crafty.  Here's what she came up with!  We had so much fun making these!
 We took tiny paper sacks and glued a half circle on each side and then strips of paper for handles.  To make a large circle pattern just trace around a large bowl in your kitchen.  Jazz them up with ribbon and buttons.

 The local plant shop didn't have small flowers in bloom so we filled them with chocolate candies.  But you could put a petunia or pansy or anything in them for a mother's day gift or make them for May Day baskets to  leave on your neighbor's doorsteps.
Amanda also makes gorgeous cards, which she sells at craft fairs and things.  When I'm looking for extra-special cards I go to her, because they are so much prettier than what I can find in the store, and cheaper too!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm Back!

Wow, hard to believe I went 4 weeks without blogging!  Where have I been?  I'll explain!

The last year has been a very tough one.  God has definitely given us some enormous blessings (a home and a sweet new daughter and safety and health and grace and mercy and all that really great stuff!) but we've had lots of stresses.  If you've been reading here you already know that.

I've felt less energetic and less motivated since Katrielle's birth but I thought it merely had to do with having 4 kids, or homeschooling, or having tons to do, or the holidays and company, or the many trials and sad things going on in people around me. 

But after Katri got Influenza A and we ended up with a week of very little sleep (including 3 nights where I was up the entire night and all day with her barking like a seal and struggling to breathe) it's like my body just broke.  Trying to get rest to catch up and trying to sleep in the guest room and trying to take vitamins, eat healthier, and lose baby weight didn't help me recover.  Trials that would come into close friends lives would crush me, the constant mess of the kids would cause me to fall to the floor weeping uncontrollably and I felt unable to deal with their constant neediness and need for discipline.  I was becoming an angry and sad mom.  I lost interest in blogging, sewing, scrapbooking, and even hanging out with friends.  I had very little energy and patience.  I struggled to even just keep up with the simplest regular household chores.  After talking with those who have "been there" and praying much for God's help and direction, I knew I needed to see my doctor.  I'm not sure if Dr. is her official title, but she specializes in Women's Health and Nutrition and runs her own women's clinic in town.  We knew I needed some professional help as I was struggling so much just to get through the day.  At first my doctor tried an experiment with an all-protein diet and nutrients and hormone cream to see if I responded well.  She also ran full bloodwork on me.   After much talking with my doc and going over my lab work, she concluded that I have very low hormone levels, and very low Vitamin D levels, which can cause depression.  We worked out a nutritional plan, which is very similar to what I've read here, and a plan for some temporary low-dose medication to help me recover from Post Partum Depression while my body flushes out toxins and tries to become more balanced again.

I feel so wonderful now, and it's ironic that I'm losing more "baby weight" eating meats, butter, regular cheeses, drinking whole milk, etc. than I was in the previous weeks when I was dieting and eating low-fat everything.

I'll share more here as God leads in the hope that it will encourage and help those of you who read here.

Blessings to you blog reader friends!
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