Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Often, I forget how blessed I am.  I forget that God provides for my daily needs, well, daily.  I forget that I don't have to worry or fret about what we'll eat, how we'll pay bills, when events will take place.  It's already taken care of.  I just forget that those things take place not in my time but in God's. 

But, I AM, we are, blessed.  Abundantly.  We have a home that gives us shelter.  We have a vehicle that gets us where we need to go.  I have a job that pays the bills (and God often stretches my paycheck in miraculous ways). We have friends and family members and a church family who are so very precious to us.  My co-workers are gems, and I genuinely enjoy being with them during the day.  Our Bible study group is a group I think of as friends who have become like family, and I look forward to Monday nights because I know we'll be with people we love and who love us.

I hesitated before writing this.  I don't want it to seem like I'm boasting in any way.  I give God ALL the glory for what He has done and continues to do.  But, I've felt a pressing need to tell you how God has been working through our loved ones lately, even some whom we haven't known for very long.  It's a testament to men and women who listen to what God is saying to their hearts and who act on it.  I hope it will point you to the true Giver.  To the One who gives us all we need and more.  Read closely, Friends, but not too closely.  Instead, open your hearts to what God wants to say to you.  If anything, I pray that you only read what God would have you read.  Nothing more.  His story.  Not my own.

Let's begin...

*A little over two weeks ago, on a bright (and INCREDIBLY) foggy morning, The Husband and I went to our church.  I sang on the praise team that morning (which means helping lead in worship both services), so instead of sitting through both services, we chose to sit through the second one.  And by sit, I mean we listened to the sermon and didn't just participate in the praise and worship aspect of it as we did during the first service. Anywho.  Our pastor was speaking on how Jesus responded to those who tried to trap Him.  One such instance (Luke 20:20-26) was when spies were sent by the pharisees.  These men asked if the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar.  This was a HUGE hot-button issue back then--Caesar (whose image was on the coin of that day) claimed he was a god, which was abhorrent to the Jews.  If Jesus responded that they should pay the tax, the pharisees would have cause to arrest Him for agreeing that Caesar was a god and for not obeying God's command to serve no other god but Him.  If He responded that they shouldn't pay the tax, they would arrest Him on grounds that He spoke against the Roman ruler.  It was a lose-lose situation.  But our God is greater than those who stand against Him.  Read how Jesus responded.  He knew their treacherous hearts and knew that His response would make a statement to all who heard.  Our pastor pulled out a $100 bill and showed it to us.  He asked what the value was.  He crumpled it up, stepped on it, and smoothed it out.  He asked again how much it was worth?  We all knew the value stayed the same.  All throughout the message that morning, he wove in stories of people.  People without a voice.  People that the world sees as invaluable.  The unborn children being aborted every day.  Women forced into sexual slavery throughout the world (and in our own backyards where human trafficking is happening all around us...). Men and women on the streets with signs asking for help who we refused to look in the eye.  It simply breaks my heart.  Our pastor asked us to remember the value that God places on EVERY human life.  Every life is precious to Him.  He sent His son to die so that not ONE would be lost.  At the end of the sermon, our pastor asked if there were any pregnant gals in the congregation.  I raised my hand.  He looked at me, smiled, and said that unborn children are precious to God.  He walked over to us and handed us the $100.  His gift to us for our child.  I cried as I sang the last song of worship.  I cried because God knows our struggles, hears our prayers, and answers in miraculous ways.  I heard later that the money was from his own wallet.  That He felt God telling him to give us the money and that he didn't want to at first :).  But God continued speaking to His heart, and he obeyed joyfully. What a blessing he was to us that day. 

*Yesterday morning, after waiting and praying for weeks, The Husband got a part-time job offer from a gal who owns a company called Meal Masters.  She's a Christian gal who teaches others (not just those who live nearby) how to plan, purchase, and prepare a month's worth of meals in just a few days (she even has a book of paleo recipes) all on a small budget.  The meals get stored in the freezer throughout the month and get pulled out as needed.  We met her about a month ago at her home for a "tasting" of some of the meals she has in her recipe books.  Yum!  But, I digress.  A friend of ours does some work for her, and she highly recommended The Husband's IT skills.  It's a small role in the company for now (updating the website mostly), but we're hoping and praying that God is preparing a bigger role for him.  This first month is like a test to see how he does.  Would you pray that if it's God's will, that The Husband would do an excellent job and that the company would continue to thrive?  I appreciate you!

*Yesterday afternoon, after a long day at work, we arrived home to a large box on our doorstep.  My name was on it!  What was in this box, you ask?  Bath and skin goodies from my parents!  Remember that bath gel I received as a Christmas present that smells exactly like almond extract?? They gave me four more and a jar of body lotion!  I'm SET for a long time :)

*Last night, after showering with my new bath gel, we headed to Bible study.  We arrived to laughter and lots of tasty foods to munch on.  I love that we like those guys and gals so much that fellowshipping with them for almost an hour never quite seems like enough.  I headed to the table where the food sat (because I'm hungry ALL THE TIME), and started visiting with a girl who's pretty new to the group.  She's a sweet gal who lived in South Africa for quite a while before moving here.  I'm sure she's had experiences some of us could never imagine.  She has a heart for the poor, the needy, who roam the streets.  She has a heart for God.  This sweet gal, who I met not a month ago, handed me a beautiful envelope.  She told me that The Husband and I had been on her heart and that she had been praying for us all week.  She said this was something she felt led to do.  I opened the envelope, saw the money neatly tucked inside, and read her sweet words in the card.  Y'all, this girl, who barely knows us, gave generously to us out of her abundance.  I was overwhelmed.  I hesitated a few beats and told her we couldn't accept such a generous gift.  I felt guilty for taking it. She said that she has more than she needs, and she knew God wanted her to do that for us.  Her gift of prayer, her smile, her kind words would have been sufficient, but God took it a step further.  I, in my pride, wanted to say no.  My gratitude to Jesus for how He continues to amaze me allowed me to step past my pride and accept with joyful thanksgiving.  Her gift was out of love (for God and for us).  How could I dismiss or reject that?  So, thank you, Sam :)

The instances I just recounted show the hands and feet of Jesus clearly at work.  Part of me doesn't understand it, doesn't see how we deserve such generosity, doesn't even want to accept it.  But, I do know that God loves us.  Provides for us.  Over and over again.  Just when I forget, He reminds me.  In a BIG way.  And, I praise Him.  Again and again.

Last night, The Husband and I fell asleep both feeling the kicks of our baby (y'all, I'm little terrified at HOW active this wee one is, haha!).  How precious are those little hands and feet (and elbows) shoving and kicking away! Those little bumps reminded me how precious we are to God.  So precious.

These people, who have been the hands and feet of Christ, are amazing.  Not because of what they give, but because of how they do so, how they listen to God's small voice, see a need, and act.  I never want my heart to stop breaking for those around me who are in need.  Never.  I want to do something about it and not turn a blind eye.  I have set my mind and heart to pray and listen for how God can use me.  There are sooo many needs, but there are also plenty of ways to help.  I just need Him to point me in the right direction :)

I know that there are others out there struggling.  Trying to make it through the day.  I want you to know that God loves you, and He desires a relationship with you.  Please don't turn away.  Don't turn a blind eye to the Creator who sent His son to die so that we might NEVER be separated from Him.  Seek Him out, and I pray you will find Him in a big way.   He's a big God, and He's kinda hard to miss...


Sunday, January 27, 2013

17 Weeks - Pregnancy #2

Each Sunday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I did this with my pregnancy with Hadley, as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  I'll probably write these on Saturday nights and attach the picture the next day.  That way I can stay semi-technology free :)

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  17 weeks 

Size of baby:  Baby Love is 5 inches long and the size of a turnip.

Total weight gain/loss:  I weighed myself at the gym, and it said I had gained another pound.  I go back to the doctor in a week, so I'll have a more accurate measurement then. 

Maternity clothes:  Comfy tops, maternity shirts, Be Band, jeans, pajamas.

Gender:  Well, our OB couldn't get a clear enough picture (and the baby wouldn't cooperate, hah!), so we're still left with what the specialist and her technician told us when I was 11 weeks.  I'll have another ultrasound at 18 weeks when I go back for my scheduled appointment, so maybe we'll find out then.  I'm actually in no big hurry to find out this time (but The Husband REALLY wants to know!).

Movement:  I've felt a bunch of little kicks starting Friday night.  Even The Husband felt one or two!!

Sleep:  I'm sleeping well; I'm just not getting enough of it!

What I miss:  Hmmm, queso at Mexican food restaurants and sleeping on my back.

Cravings:  An occasional Chocolate Frosty or chocolate shake and salt and vinegar chips

Symptoms:   A little bit of nausea; a lot of tired-ness

Exercise:  I did pilates a lot this week, (the DVD was due Friday), and I made it to the gym on Thursday.

Belly Button in or out: In still! Yay!

Wedding ring on or off: On :)

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy :) Especially after The Husband brought home a half-gallon of my FAVORITE ice cream!!  Homemade in the Shade!! :)

Looking forward to: I'm looking forward to finding out the "official" sex of the baby next week *crosses fingers*!

Best moment this week:  The best moment this week was feeling those sweet little kicks at random moments!

17 Weeks

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A bedtime story

Once upon a time, in a small condominium kitchen, a bright and chipper young (and not-even-remotely-close-to-turning-30) girl had a marvelous idea for dinner.  She'd fix up some tasty pasta with a cheesy, sun-dried tomato sauce.  Sauté some shrimp in butter and garlic.  Mix it all together.  Add a little shredded cheese on top.  Put it in a lovely bowl for her prince.  Voila.  

So, this worn-out, pregnant gal pulled out the bag of frozen shrimp from the freezer and set out to thaw it thoroughly.  She noticed that this 1-pound bag of frozen shrimp her prince had grabbed at the local market didn't say the hyphenated word de-veined anywhere on it.  

She searched.  
To no avail.  
And, so (not truly understanding the importance of this word) she shrugged and moved on.  

As she cooked up the pasta, she poured out the shrimp into a bowl of cold water in the sink to thaw.  This lovely and not-at-all-bedraggled girl started to wonder if she herself would have to de-vein this huge bowl full of shrimp.  

Surely not, she said to herself.  Surely, it wasn't that necessary.  Or, surely, she just missed that magical word on the package.  She scanned both sides.  A couple of times.  

Nothing.

So, having never de-veined anything, she picked up her trusty crystal ball, lovingly named Google, and asked the all-important questions.  

1) Must one de-vein shrimp? 
(Yes, unless one wants to eat the ickyness that is said-vein) 

and 

2) How does one go about de-veining shrimp?  

Sadly, she received her answer.  

In detail.    

It sounded rather unappetizing, but she girded her loins (I don't think that's right...) and knew she was up to the task.  

....Probably.

The pasta drained.

The sauce simmered.

The knife was chosen and held at the ready.

And, so she began to follow the carefully laid out instructions.

It was slimy.  

And stringy.  

And messy.

And, occasionally, she had to force herself to FORGET what it was that she was actually removing from those little shrimp bodies.  

It was nasty.  Oh-so-nasty.

But she accomplished the task set before her.

The meal was completed and set before The Prince.  
All was tasty and good in the land.


The moral of this tale?
 
Never again forget to check the package of shrimp The Husband places in the basket.

Y'all, I de-veined a pound of shrimp tonight. 

I don't want to ever, ever do that again.

Ever.

The End.

Monday, January 21, 2013

16 Weeks - Pregancy #2

Each Sunday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I did this with my pregnancy with Hadley, as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  I'll probably write these on Saturday nights and attach the picture the next day.  That way I can stay semi-technology free :)

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  16 weeks 

Size of baby:  Baby Love is around 5 inches long and the size of an avocado

Total weight gain/loss:  Ok, The Bestie told me that I shouldn't count all of those pounds and that I should only count starting at my pre-pregnancy weight.  So, with that being said, I've gained 1 1/2 pounds.  Haha, I don't really think that's accurate, but it makes me feel a little better. :)  

Maternity clothes:  Comfy tops, maternity shirts, Be Band, jeans, pajamas.

Gender:  Well, our OB couldn't get a clear enough picture (and the baby wouldn't cooperate, hah!), so we're still left with what the specialist and her technician told us when I was 11 weeks.  I'll have another ultrasound at 18 weeks when I go back for my scheduled appointment, so maybe we'll find out then.  I'm actually in no big hurry to find out this time (but The Husband REALLY wants to know!).

Movement:  I've felt a few flutters this week.

Sleep:  I'm sleeping well; I'm just not getting enough of it!

What I miss:  Hmmm, queso at Mexican food restaurants and sleeping on my back.

Cravings:  An occasional Chocolate Frosty or chocolate shake and salt and vinegar chips

Symptoms:   I'm tired.  I feel like a broken record.  That's my response when people ask how I'm feeling.  I am feeling better in the nausea department.  There were a few rough mornings this week when I thought I'd lose what was in my stomach, but I toughed it out.

Exercise:  I'm still doing the pilates video, and Thursday, I finally made it back to the gym!  I'm hoping to do some of both during the week.

Belly Button in or out: In still! Yay!

Wedding ring on or off: On :)

Happy or moody most of the time: Hmm.  Tough one.  This week has been a "moody" week, unfortunately.

Looking forward to: I'm looking forward to finding out the "official" sex of the baby in a few weeks!

Best moment this week:  The best moment this week was getting the call from my OB's office saying that all of my blood work (the ones to check for antibodies attacking the baby) came back great!

16 Weeks


Sunday, January 13, 2013

15 Weeks - Pregnancy #2

Each Sunday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I did this with my pregnancy with Hadley, as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  I'll probably write these on Saturday nights and attach the picture the next day.  That way I can stay semi-technology free :)

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  15 weeks 

Size of baby:  Baby Love is 4 1/2 inches long and the size of a naval orange.

Total weight gain/loss:  HAHAHAHAHA.  Ok, that was my sad laugh.  You know how I said previously that I had lost several pounds?  Well, not anymore.  Y'all.  I'm now a pound and a half over my pre-pregnancy weight.  That means....are you ready?  I gained 5 1/2 pounds in three weeks.  THREE WEEKS, People!   Why?  Because all I did was eat over the holidays.  Eat, and eat, and eat some more.  

Maternity clothes:  I am still fully enjoying the COMFORT of maternity clothes.  Whoever invented them is a genius!  My jeans, the Be Band, plus a comfy (yet cute!) maternity top is my favorite go-to outfit.  But, now that school's started again, I'm back in dresses and slacks (plus the comfy maternity tops.  And a Be Band since my slacks won't button.  

Gender:  Well, our OB couldn't get a clear enough picture (and the baby wouldn't cooperate, hah!), so we're still left with what the specialist and her technician told us when I was 11 weeks.  I'll have another ultrasound at 18 weeks when I go back for my scheduled appointment, so maybe we'll find out then.  I'm actually in no big hurry to find out this time (but The Husband REALLY wants to know!).

Movement:  I've felt some flutters, and when I do, I'll talk to him/her.  It's usually when I'm in bed that that I feel something.

Sleep:  My nightly pit-stops it seems *crosses fingers* have dropped down to once a night.  Yay!  I haven't gotten much sleep this week since work has started up again, but Friday night I did sleep well, and I was able to sleep much later than I'm usually able to.

What I miss:  Hmmm, queso at Mexican food restaurants and sleeping on my back.

Cravings:  An occasional Chocolate Frosty or chocolate shake and salt and vinegar chips.  Last night, I ate HALF a can of salt and vinegar Pringles.  Y'all.  It's ridiculous.  Why can't I be one of those awesome pregnant ladies who crave fruit and veggies and healthy things?!

Symptoms:   Have I mentioned that I feel like I'm hungry All. The.  Time?
I'm still tired, but not exhausted like I was.  I can now feel tired without wanting to cry.
My back has spasmed some, but I think I finally figured out why it was doing that and why it did that so much with Hadley.  I'm not normally a side-sleeper, so now my body is being placed in uncomfortable (to me, at least) positions for most of the night.  One night, I bucked the SOS rule (sleep on side), and I slept propped up on my back.  NO back pain the next day.  So, I'll just have to work through the pain, I suppose, since I'm really not supposed to sleep on my back.

Exercise:  I borrowed this really great prenatal pilates video from the library, and so for the last week I've been doing those exercises in the comfort of my bedroom.  The workouts are really great, and I recommend them for anybody.  Not just pregnant gals.  The video is called 10-Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates.  There are five separate 10-minute sessions, and even a custom workout can be created using them.  It's neat!  I have it for another 10 days, and I plan on really staying focused on learning the moves.  Then, whenever my back is fighting me, I can do those stretches.  :)

Best moment this week:  Seeing Baby Love on the ultrasound Monday was super special.  He/she is growing, and the amniotic sac is completely fused to the uterine lining!  Yay!! Here's the baby's back (can you see the spine, starting at the head on the left?) and cute little legs and feet (and toes!) at the top.
Now, I'm just waiting impatiently for some blood test results to come back.  The specialist and my OB spoke, and they wanted to make sure there weren't any strange antibodies attacking the baby.  They said that "may" have happened with Hadley.  My doctor really didn't seem concerned, and she said she just wanted to be on the safe side.  So, I'm praying for really wonderful results on all four of the tests they're running.  Would you pray with me?

15 Weeks - Not my most favorite photo, but it'll do :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

14 Weeks - Pregnancy #2

Each Sunday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I did this with my pregnancy with Hadley, as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  I'll probably write these on Saturday nights and attach the picture the next day.  That way I can stay semi-technology free :)

*Sidenote*, before we start this week's highlight's post:  Did you ever get a random song stuck in your head for weeks and weeks on end?  For most of this pregnancy, I've had that song "Baby Love" running randomly through my mind.  Mostly, it starts when I'm showering and soaping up my belly (TMI? Sorry...).  I start singing it and talking to the baby.  But, Y'ALL, the lyrics are terrible and should NOT be used in reference to an infant.  Nevertheless, because of this silly song, I've started referring to the baby as my "Baby Love,"and it's stuck. Oh, the shame.  *sigh* I just won't sing it as a bedtime song.  Scout's honor.  

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  14 weeks (2nd Trimester!!)

Size of baby:  Baby Love (haha, I know it sounds ridiculous!) is 3 inches long and the size of a large lemon.

Total weight gain/loss:  As of my last checkup, I had lost four pounds.  So, I suppose once I start gaining I'll count what I weigh currently as my starting weight and go from there. I do know that I've eaten an ENORMOUS amount of food over the last few weeks (sadly, I'm so not exaggerating), so I'm almost positive I've gained that weight back.  We'll see tomorrow.

Maternity clothes:  I am still fully enjoying the COMFORT of maternity clothes.  Whoever invented them is a genius!  My jeans, the Be Band, plus a comfy (yet cute!) maternity top is my favorite go-to outfit.  School starts back up tomorrow though, so I suppose I'll have to jump back into wearing dresses, skirts, and slacks.  *sad face*

Gender:  At our last appointment, the technician and the doctor were both 99.9% sure of their gender guess.  I'd like to wait until I'm a little farther along, and I've had another ultrasound before making that announcement.  There's always that chance they could be wrong; though small it may be.  We're still pondering names.  Mine often get vetoed, and his haven't impressed me much.  It's a work in progress :)

Movement:  I've felt an occasional push or kick in there, but it's very rare.  Like maybe once a week or so.  

Sleep:  Well, I'm still having to make a trip to the bathroom at least two times a night.  That being said, other than my nightly trips, every night this week but Thursday night I've slept so wonderfully.  It helps that I haven't had to get up for work.  I've gotten between eight and ten hours of sleep each night, and I am BEYOND thankful.  Holy insomnia was Thursday night rough, though.  I'll be super happy if those kinds of nights will leave me the heck alone!  

What I miss:  Hmmm, queso at Mexican food restaurants.

Cravings:  An occasional Chocolate Frosty or chocolate shake.  I have had a strange hankering for sweet things (I'm not generally a candy/sweets kind of person) like those strawberry flavored sour straws and gummy-anything.  

Symptoms:   Even with all of that extra sleep, I'm still tired.
The dizziness has kicked in.  Yay.
Those joint pains in my pelvis have been acting up, and that causes some discomfort but not terrible.
I feel like I'm hungry All. The.  Time.
I'm still visiting the bathroom quite frequently.
I've got  LOTS of eczema that's reared it's ugly head lately.
But, everything else has been pretty good! :)

Exercise:  I've tried to do at least a few Pilates stretches each day.  Not much else since it's been so cold and rainy lately.  I'm ready to go walking again as soon as the sun decides to shine! 

Best moment this week:  This doesn't have anything to do with the pregnancy, but my favorite moment this week was watching Les Miserables with The Husband last night and making it through the ENTIRE 157 minutes without having to rush off to the restroom.  That's including the giant slushy he and I shared.  Soooo good.  But, boy did I race to that restroom as soon as the movie ended.  :)    

14 Weeks - I now FEEL pregnant LOOK pregnant!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Year in Review and a Few Resolutions

A Year in Review
I know it's a few days late, but I wanted to do a sort of year-end review of 2012.  You know--the high-lights and the low-lights.  So instead of typing something up, I created a photo collage of memorable moments.  One picture for each month last year. 



Resolutions
I've never been good at making New Year's resolutions.  And when I did make them, I'm pretty sure I didn't knowingly keep any of them.  According to the dictionary, a resolution is "a firm decision to do or not to do something."  It's the "firm" part that gets me.  And, if I'm being honest, the "decision" part gets me a little, too.  I HATE making decisions.  But, I do see the value in making a resolution or two.  Making them will require me to look back on this last year, you know, in order to actually resolve to do or not do one or two things differently this go round.  Ok, this is off the cuff, so it might take a little time and though, but here we go.

Resolution #1 - I resolve to rely on God more fully and less on my (or The Husband's) own strength.
I can't say I've done a good job of that this year (though I know there were times when it was all I could do but to hang on to Him for dear life), and I've tried to reason my way, work harder, think things through more.  Basically, I tried doing it on my own in a gigantic, foolish way.  It never worked out how I thought it should have.  If I had just relied on Him, I feel like He would have guided me/us through those situations, and my/our steps would have been surer.  So, anytime something big (or small--God's in the details!) comes my/our way, I hope I will turn to God first before turning to myself or others.  

Resolution #2 - I resolve to try to see the positive in EVERY situation before focusing on the negative. 
Sometimes, the negative is a so very in-you-face kind of real that it's quite difficult to see the "silver lining."  But, that glistening lining is ALWAYS there.  I just have to seek it out.  I can't give up and give in to that sin, that temptation to be angry and down in the mouth and grumbly.  

Phew.  That wasn't too bad!  I don't want to "firmly decide" on more than that because I'm pretty worried I won't actually see those two through!  
I *think* I shall write them on my mirror, so I can see them each morning. 

So, what about you?  Any new resolutions this year?  What's your track record with keeping them in the past?  I encourage you to make one or two.  Simply because it's a good evaluation system of things that can be worked on.  And, let's be honest here, we all have a couple of things that need some fixing up. :)

Blessings to you!