Monday, June 8, 2015

Bear's Birth Story

It started with false labor.

Friday early morning May 1st, around 3am, I was woken by small pains. They started in my lower back and flowed slowly around to my stomach. I knew this feeling. Contractions. I was excited, but I didn't wake Daniel.
I decided to start counting them after an hour of feeling them. They ranged around 8 minutes apart lasting 45seconds to a minute. They slowly got closer and slowly became more intense. I decided to wake Daniel up and let him know we could be having a baby soon.
He helped me through the contractions as they became very uncomfortable, especially in my back. But the time between each contraction began to waver.
I texted my doula (who is also one of my best friends) Anna. I explained how things were going and she told me from the sound of it, it could be false labor. She had warned me that second time mama's can get false labor. But not me. I know what contractions feel like. These were real!
She suggested a bath to see if they went away or not. I decided on a shower and called my mom to be ready to come watch the girls cause this was the day.
In the shower the contractions virtually stopped. That's okay, I thought, this happened with the girls too, the warm water really helped me not feel any pain in a contraction.
After I got out, they wavered even more. To about 8-10 min apart and losing their intensity. I laid back down hoping they would return. I also let Anna know and she assured me it was false labor.
That was not what I wanted to hear!
I was rebuking her words and praying they were real. They truly hurt! Why should I have ALL this pain for NOTHING! I was angry.

Mom came and I cried when I saw her. I was so disappointed. They were completely gone by that point. Anna encouraged me that the false labor wasn't in vain. That my body was prepping and I could very well have a fast labor from having them. I was too sad to see the bright side. But by the next day I felt better and took her words more willingly.

Fast forward to Sunday night the 3rd.

Around 7pm when we were getting ready to bring the girls up to bed I felt a very faint and small ache in my lower back. That ache would slowly swim to the front of my stomach. False labor again. I had to think about the false contraction to really even feel it.
After the girls were in bed I let Daniel know I could feel some minor aches, but it wasn't anything like Friday's pains.
I had planned to go with my brother to Target that night and thought walking would either rid them completely or they would become more of something to consider.
When I picked Wesley (my brother) up, I told him I could be in labor, but probably not. He was a little panicky, saying I better not deliver at Target. I think he must have thought that if a woman goes into labor, there isn't time to do anything, but do an emergency catch the baby procedure.

The mild aches came and went as we walked and I timed them just cause I could. Didn't want to waste the app I had downloaded. They weren't very consistent and ranged quite a bit. So I decided it was false.

I went home, but the aches were still coming and going. Daniel had a lot of work to catch up on so I went up to bed to rest. About 10pm the aches didn't feel like aches. They felt like the same stinking contractions I had Friday. I was frustrated. But thought to count them just in case.
They started at 7min apart, then slowly they dipped to 5 apart then 4.
I told Daniel and they were becoming intense. But I didn't want to pull him away from work (I already made him miss work on Friday with false labor) so I continued to manage the contractions on my own in bed.
I again texted Anna and let her know what was up and to get her input. And wouldn't you know that the moment I texted her my contractions spaced out to 7 min apart. Then 8 min, then 5, then 2, then 7:53, 7:42, 4:43, 2:08, 2:26, 7:52, 3:59, 6:31- I still have them saved in my app. Yep, disappointed again. The time was all over the place, but the pain was not subsiding. I moved and changed positions, showered and did what I could to drive the pain away, but to no avail.
Daniel came upstairs and tried to help relieve some pain through a contraction. I began finding comfort in getting on all fours and concentrating on them the best way to get through them.

I was angry thinking all this pain again for nothing.

I had called Baby+co to see if maybe I should come in. I was told it was probably not real labor and to hold off on coming. But at one point, on all four and trying to get through a contraction I cried through it. Daniel decided at that point to call my mom and that we needed to go in.

Mom was at our house in a flash, I moved around getting things together, and would hop on the floor to get through a contraction as it hit. We went to the girls room and kissed them, letting them know we were leaving to see if it was time for their brother to come and would be home soon. I remember hurrying out of their room to work through a contraction so they wouldn't see me.

We got into the car a little after 1am and I let Anna know. I stopped counting them long ago now, but they were feeling more consistent. Daniel pulled out the car and I worked through a contraction in our driveway. Every contraction brought me to the floor. How was I going to drive 45min to Baby+co?! I was dreading the drive.

I wanted to stay relaxed, to not tense up so my contractions wouldn't be so intense. But I couldn't help but tense through the contractions peak. I grabbed onto what I could in the car and hoped to make it through it.

With Lilly and Rose, my contraction never got this intense. When I got the hospital with them I was 6cm and 2min apart and I still felt great! So I knew if this was truly the real deal, then I would be farther than 6 with as much pain as I was having.

We got to baby+co about 2am. There were two other mama's delivering so that left me with the back room to the right, which is the one I wanted. I went in and Anna showed up shortly after.

yay Anna!

I went the bathroom and had bloody show. I freaked out a little. Anna reassured me it was normal. We started the bath, I was eager for some relief and feeling the warm water.
But before I could really settle in the tub, about 2:30am,  Kate walked in and wanted to check me. I was ready to hear I was 8cm, maybe 9. I was so ready to hear I was moments from being done with all this and she tells us I am a whole TWO centimeters. 2!!! WHAT!???
My heart was broken! Only 2? I couldn't be admitted till I was 4.
She told me I could stay and labor for a couple hours and see if I make it to a 4 so I can continue to stay. I just couldn't believe with the intensity I was feeling I was only a 2.

I was told I couldn't go into the bath because it could slow my labor down. Anna again tried to encourage me by reminding me how her and my sister had incredibly intense contractions close together and were only a couple centimeters also, but then delivered so fast they had no time for pain meds. But I didn't feel like I would be so lucky.

We went outside to walk around to help get things moving. The night was warm and there was a lovely breeze that would bring comfort and blow the trees leaves, sounding like ocean waves. With each contraction, I would turn to Daniel and hold onto him, swaying through the waves. Anna would press on my back to relieve pain. We walked back and forth a couple times and then returned to our room.

I sat on the birthing ball and swayed. When a contraction hit I tried to breath slowly through it. But as it peaked I found myself in a bit of a panic and struggled to keep my breaths slow and even. Anna again worked on my back through each contraction, using her strength to ease my pain. Daniel sat in front on me making sure I had water between each contraction and reassuring me I could do this.

I stayed on the ball for quite a while. And it became extremely intense. I remember I had told myself long before in my pregnancy, that I wouldn't be a mama who says she can't do it. I would have faith in myself. But as I would hit the peak of a contraction I found myself looking into Daniel's eyes and crying out, "I can't do this!" I think it felt like a relief to say it and also a way to get encouragement. Daniel would reassure me with his words that I can do this. He would make me look into his eyes and push me to follow his breathing.
Funny enough, in our birthing class, practicing staring into his eyes would make me laugh. I decided that would not be something I would do in real labor. Yet it was looking in his eyes and breathing with him that made the contractions feel the most tolerable.

Anna decided to go and get a midwife to check me again as I was signaling I was progressing through labor. That was around 4:30am. Jualeah, who actually had the evening off and worked on call the day before (I think) had stayed to be help Kate if she needed it. So she came in to check me.
I was praying to God I was at least a 5! I wanted to be in the tub, I wanted relief and to know I was at least half way there. If I was still a 2, I was ready to give up (like that was an option).

Jualeah gently checked me and announced, "Oh! If you pushed right now, you could have a baby!"
I was too tired to understand what she meant by that. I called out, "What does that mean?!"
Anna laughed and said, "That means your 10cm!"
I couldn't believe it. I mean, I was delusional and could NOT believe it. I felt like I was dreaming. I went from a 2 to 10 in 2 hours?! THANK YOU GOD!

They began filling the tub as I managed through contractions on the bed.
It was after 5am by the time I could get into the tub. It was so much warmer than I thought it would be and it was GLORIOUS.
The heat and water was like magic. My contractions were much easier to handle and I felt like I got a much needed break.

Jualeah told me I could start pushing. 
"But I don't feel like pushing." I said. "Shouldn't I have an urge?"
Jualeah told me to try and that my water should break from it.
But I was too happy to finally have some rest. I didn't want to push.

I was instructed to try. As a contraction came I found I still wanted to be on my hands and knees and I did so. I gave a push. A very fake -I don't really want to do this right now- push. I couldn't fool the midwife. She then told me to give heavy grunts and deep groans to get some strength. I guess my measly weak "Errms" & "Oohs" didn't work for her.
I dug a little deeper and really tried to push. I wasn't liking it. But the longer I hesitated the longer I would be in labor. I had to suck it up and get it done if I ever wanted to be out of this and with my baby.
With each wave I gave a deeper groan to give a stronger push. My water broke.

OH! It felt so good! I guess the water bag was making it very uncomfortable to push and when it broke it was like a release. It was an incredible feeling. BUT THEN. I could feel his head coming down.
What. Have. I. Done.

I remembering thinking- 'I will never do this again' & 'what was I thinking to do this?!'

"I can't do this!" I called out.
Anna said, "Too late Liz, you're going to have to push him out." or something like that...
I wasn't incredibly fond of her that moment, but I did still love her.
Daniel kept telling me I CAN do this. I just needed to hear it. I knew it, I just needed to hear it.
I think I needed to hear that it was too late too. To get over myself.

I felt the pressure of his head and I suddenly had no control over pushing and the sounds I made. They were deep and raw groans that became louder with each contraction. I found myself yelling out these groans and with each contraction it became an out of body experience. I had no control. Time seemed to feel like forever, but it was such a feeling of being out of myself that I couldn't tell time.

There. Right there. I felt his head coming. Was this the ring of fire? No, it felt like a ring, but a ring that was going to fail. There is no way this giant head is coming out without tearing me apart.
With another push came the most incredible feeling I have ever felt. The feeling of power, but no control over it, his head was out. Relief is all I can say to describe that feeling.

Jualeah asked if I wanted to catch him myself.

Oh hellz yes I do! After all those feelings I wanted to complete my path of power and catch my own baby!

She instructed me that with the next push I need to lay back in the tub and his body will come out. I'll need to reach down as I get into a sitting position and pull him up to my chest. I was ready.

The contraction came and I pushed, I leaned back as I reached down feeling his body slide out. I felt his little body with my hands and I pulled him up onto my chest.

And like that, every pain, discomfort, the warmth of water, the water itself. I didn't feel it. I just saw my baby. He was in my arms and he was perfect. He was mine. I did this. I pushed him out myself, I caught him myself. I felt so relieved, such peace and such strength.

Bear was born at 6:01am. Perfect. Beautiful. Mine.

Jualeah & the nurses, were a perfect team that I needed to make this baby happen.
Anna was my relief and my voice when I didn't have one or didn't know what needed to happen and what to say.
And Daniel. He was my strength. He is my best friend who I do life with. My partner. And his strength became my own.

Even though at the moment I was telling myself I would never do this again. It wasn't even 24hrs later before I was thinking how I would totally do that again if I ever got pregnant again.

It's hard to imagine not to now that I had done it.

I prayed the whole time, more like yelling in my head at God to make the pain go away. I kind of wondered where He was. But I know He was there, He didn't make anything go away. He was present in the moment and was the power inside. The indescribable rawness was the most in tune I had ever been with my body and I'm glad He didn't take that away.

                                                              Bear getting weighed

Thursday, January 23, 2014


"UGH!" She cried.
I turned to see her pouting down at her chest, a button had come loose. 
He arms started to flail and then fall at her sides as a sign of defeat. She started to cry again.
"Lilly!" I called. "No one can help you if you don't ask."
I crouched down to fix her button, pretty irrattated as this is a daily job - reminding my girls to ASK for help instead of losing their cool.

Then it clicked.
Instead of fussing at her I said, "Sometimes Lilly, you teach me a lesson."

How often have I found myself in a situation that I felt defeated and how simple a task it was to fix for God. Yet I don't ask for His help. I sit and wallow in self defeat. Pouting. Maybe even a flail of my arms too. My situations to God are as easy to Him to fix as it for me to button my daughters dress.

Why do we feel like our problems are too big? Too much to ask. Why do we focus on the problem so much it consumes us to the point we don't see anything clearly anymore. Why is asking for help seem helpless?

But here my daughter reminded me how a simple request, a simple sentence can truly turn the whole situation around.

Does prayer seem too good to be true sometimes? Just ask and it will be given? Or it feels uncertain. What if it doesn't get answered? Is my faith weak? Is God really there?

Well, as a mom. I'll say that sometimes when my girls ask me for things, I may tell them no. Actually I tell them no a lot. They are young and they don't know how things can hurt them or be bad for them. Sometimes I tell them not yet. Because if we leave now the library wont be open. And then there are those times I say yes.

And God, as our ultimate Father, answers. He sees things we don't. He knows that some things may actually hurt. He knows now is too soon. And He knows when to say Yes.

What needs to happen most of all, is to just ask. No matter how much or how little faith. No matter how long it's been since we've asked your request. No mater how uncertain we are. No matter how simple the request or how big. How silly or how needed. He wants us to JUST ASK!!!

No, this doesn't mean I have total patience now when my girls freak out over something that can be easily fixed if they would just ask me. But I will use it as a reminder to myself as best I can that no matter how crazy, silly, or desperate my situation may feel to me, it isn't too much to God.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and door will be opened to you." Luke 11:9
Just do it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

God the Tangible

Last night we prayed for us as were preparing to go to church in the morning. Praying for the girls to have open hearts to what they learn, to be able to understand what they learned and for Daniel and I to be able to share God to our class and use us so our kids could hear from Him and understand what they were hearing.

As I explained to the girls what we would be praying for that night, I talked about who God is, I have done this before but tonight they were much more interested. To make God tangible to a 2 yr old I explained that God created everything, He made the skies, the stars, the moon, the sun, He made them and us and so on. {this was good timing too as their Sunday School class has been talking about creation anyway}

The girls began to point to things and ask if God made it. Their beds, their lovies, our dogs. It was fun. It was also neat to see them start to understand more about God. It was bringing God into a bit more perspective, as well as grasp Him because they could see the things He made.

I told them that God is everywhere and spread my arms out to show them. Rose and Lilly both asked if God was also in the glider that no one happened to be sitting in in their room. I said yes. God is everywhere. Even in the chair.

Rose and Lilly jumped up and ran to the chair, stood on the side of it and said, "Hey God!"

Adorable overload.

They babbled and made conversation with the empty chair.
But to them it wasn't empty.
The creator of heaven and earth was sitting there. To them He was already loving and friendly. He understood their babble. He enjoyed their smiles and their faith. 
Lilly asked to hug God. I said sure! God loves hugs!
They both opened their arms wide and wrapped them close, smiling. They made a friend.

We then prayed and I said we will learn about God tomorrow when we go to church.

We lifted the girls up to lay them in bed and Rose cried that she wanted God.

She ran back to the glider, snatched some air over the chair and then, ran with a clenched fist to her bed and threw her air into her bed, then proclaimed, "There He is!"

It was so funny.

I laid her down and she kept telling me God was next to her. I agreed and kissed her goodnight. Lilly followed in suite and said God was in her bed too.

This morning I picked Rose up out of bed. She wiggled and whined, then reached into her bed, snatched the air and with a clenched fist told me she was taking God with her downstairs.
I laughed and said SURE! I was impressed with her remembering last nights events.

All morning she had a clenched fist, she pretended to pass God into her other hand if she needed to switch hands for something. She also would say, "Oh no! I dropped God!"
I told her she can't drop him but to a two year old who believed she was holding something in her hand, He could be dropped. She would pretend to pick him back up.

We went to church and they got busy with the day.

I was thinking how funny they were, how they saw God in their minds as someone they could carry with them all the time, to be held with a clenched hand, to worry about dropping Him, to worry about making sure He wasn't left in bed.

Oh how much we can learn from a child...
Is it silly? Is it really just a 2 yr olds wild imagination? Just a need to feel He's tangible to go through such extents? To talk to Him in a chair?

Isn't that how we should be?

a : capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch : palpable
b : substantially real : material
: capable of being precisely identified or realized by the mind 

Related words: 
tactile; corporeal, physical; actual, concrete, embodied, existent, material, real, substantial; appreciable, detectable, discernible (also discernable), noticeable, observable, perceptible, seeable, sensible, visible

Shouldn't God be visible to us? Substantial, real, existent, concrete, actual, physical? 

The more we believe God is everywhere, in our homes, our rooms, beside me as I write, beside you as you read. The more concrete He is, the more detectable, the more seeable.

The more He is of these things, the more we are able to reach out and clench on to Him. To talk to Him. To remember not to leave Him in our beds when we wake up and go on in our days. To simply turn and ask God for help, He is right there after all isn't He? 

To remember not to drop Him. But to hold on to God the tangible.

My daughters & their faith can really give their mother some perspective.

I want to see God in my home, to acknowledge Him always in my house, in my car, in my workplace, in my church, wherever I go. The more I do that the more I'll reach out to Him, talk to him, listen to Him, be accountable. The better our relationship will be.
I want Lillianna & Rosalee to see God this way always. Luckily they already have a head start on me.

The girls got hugs from God last night.
it's not silly.
It's tangible.
He's tangible.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013



I'm not always sure how to open a blog post, mainly if it is going to be an intense one.
So that's my opening.

It's funny how God can shine a light when your not paying very close attention. Even funnier when He hit's you with that light like a semi truck with it's brights on.

I had been reading a wonderful book called, Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. A very well put together book about incredible women in the Bible. I eagerly skipped over a chapter to read the story of Ruth. Some reason or other I just stopped right towards the end.
I couldn't find interest in finishing it's last bit. It had been months.
Last night I sat on the couch with my mind just going in every which direction. I felt like I had choices to make and I didn't know how to even start. My pitiful two second prayers asking for an answer weren't cutting it and I was absorbed in my own confusion I couldn't find what I needed to really seek my answer.
Then I pick up my book. Of all the times to read, my mind couldn't contain itself and I decided to attempt to redirect it's attention to a story. Then the truck with it's brights hit me.

There is so graciously a devotional at the end of each story of these women in the bible. I finished up the story of Ruth and I felt the sense of celebration as I ended it, satisfied. Yet, I pressed on to read the devotional. Something I wouldn't have done normally, especially late at night, with my mind overflowing, with my husband gone up stairs for the night already, all these unusual things but I found myself in the midst of God by continuing into the devotional time.

Ruth had to make life changing decisions. Extreme ones. I need to make big decisions and are extreme to me.
I told my husband I am not one to jump off a bridge and say, "God catch me!"
But I am one to use a rope and say, "God, I trust You to hold me."
I found myself at the top of a bridge and I looked down and coward. Because the rope can seem uncertain. It can seem weak and frail. But at the bottom I could see what I desired.

That also scared me.
Because sometimes it's hard to believe that my desires are God's as well.
Because sometimes I like to believe it is to justify my own wants.
I'm afraid of making up my mind based only on me and my wants, and making a mistake.
Praying for something that I've made up in my mind to do already and just asking God to play along.

"I am going this direction God! Come and follow me!"
when it should be,
"I will follow You and go Your way."

But I couldn't find my mind in any kind of clarity to see the path I needed to take. To follow.
This time of devotion opened my heart, my ears, cleared my mind and I found myself in discussion with God. As I read each question I heard it like God was beckoning me. & then there was this passage:

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.'
Romans 12:2

I prayed for a transformation. To change the way I was thinking, so I would know what He wanted me to do.
& when I prayed this, I knew how good and pleasing and perfect his will really was.
It was so clear.

Suddenly as I asked questions that had been running through my mind over and over, they were just being answered, so plainly.

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.'
Proverbs 3:5-6

So what has been so intensely on my mind I could hardly focus, that I need this awing moment, to be hit by an oncoming vehicle with it's lights blaring on me?

I've decided, along with my husband, that I will give my notice at work & officially be a full time stay at home mom! {Insert giant happy smiley Liz here}

Thursday, March 7, 2013

For a Friend; Meal Planning & Frozen Dinners

Today I'm talking food::

I am all about freezer meals and crock pot meals. I was at first skeptical about it. Would it really save me money? Would it save me time & work? Would it be something I could keep up with? Would it taste good? The answer is yes to ALL.

When I first started it felt a little overwhelming. In order to not succumb to freaking out I initiated a plan.

1. I would only select meals that were simple, meaning almost no prep work. Just toss all the ingredients together and done!
2. I wanted meals that could all go in the crock pot so I didn't have to do any work & would cook on a day I was out of the house.
3. I wanted meals that were all easy to freeze so they would last a while if I wanted them to.
4. I would double up each recipe. {Believe me, this IS less work, less ingredients, less to organize, less meals to figure out.}
5. I would ONLY start with a weeks worth of food.

I basically picked out 3 meals, doubled up the recipes and ended up with 6 days of food. I planned one meal to actually cook at dinner time which was Breakfast for dinner. It's easy and it's cheap.
The only downfall is that it feels rather repetitive having doubled up meals for only a weeks time. BUT I wanted to try the whole deal out without feeling overwhelmed because if I did then I'd forget the whole idea and the purpose is to help me be less overwhelmed.
The girls just won't allow me to cook, they are attention hogs. Both of them!

So let's pick three meals.
(I used pinterest to find meals mainly and would pin them to my freezer/crock pot board)
{also note I may not be writing all the recipes exactly as written because I just decided to go without certain ingredients for us- so there is a link to each recipe from it's original home}

1. Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup
From Pearls, Handcuffs & Happy Hour
  • 30oz bag of Frozen Shredded Hash Browns
  • 3 (14oz) Can of Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Onion
  • 1 Pkg of Cream Cheese  
Add all the ingredients to the crock pot except the cream cheese.
Cook 6-8 Hrs Low
1 Hour prior to serving, add cream cheese and heat till melted.
Top with Bacon bits, cheese and chives (if you want)

2. Mandy's Big Mess
From Crockin' Girls
  • 1lb Smoked Sausage (sliced)
  • 1 Bell Pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Purple Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Can of Pineapple Chunks (drained)
  • 1 Jar of Sweet & Sour Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
Place all in the cooker, cook 3-4 hrs low.
Serve over rice or with salad.

3. Mexican Chicken Taco Chili
From Skinnytaste
  • 1 Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans
  • 8oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 10oz Pkg of Frozen Corn Kernels
  • 2 (14.5oz) Cans of Diced Tomatoes with Chillies
  • 1 Pkg of Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp of Chili powder
  • 24oz of Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast
Add all and cook 10 hours Low or 6 hours High
30 min prior to serving, pull out chicken and shred. Add back into the soup and stir.
Serve with salad or with chips- yum!!

We're going to write our grocery list now, I am going to double up these recipes.
{another note: The Potato Soup and Mexican Chili serve about 10 people each recipe. I am doubling it anyway just for this example and it will make PLENTY of food and left overs}

Shredded Cheese (optional)
2 Pkgs of Cream Cheese

48 oz of Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast
2 lbs Smoked Sausage

Canned Goods:
2 Cans of Black Beans
2 Cans of Kidney Beans
2 Cans of Pineapple Chunks
2 (8oz) Cans of Tomato Sauce
4 (14.5oz) Cans of Diced Tomatoes with Chillies
6 (14oz) Cans of Chicken Broth
2 Cans of Cream of Chicken Soup

2 (30oz) Bags Frozen Shredded Hash Browns
2 (10oz) Bags of Frozen Kernels

2 Onions
2 Red Onions
2 Bell Peppers
Chives (optional)

Seasoning & Other:
Taco Seasoning
Chili Powder
2 Jars of Sweet & Sour
Tabasco Sauce
Bacon Bits (optional)
Gallon Size Freezer Baggies

Copy and Paste this onto a word or note type file and print it. There is your grocery list.

When I make a trip to the store, because it's usually a months worth of dinners, I'll do one night of shopping and then the next night dedicated to prepping the food.

Label your freezer bags, two for each meal, with the meal name, and small directions like...
ex: 'Potato Soup, 6-8 Low Add Cream Cheese 1 Hr Prior' per bag (which is 2 bags)

Instead of throwing it all into the crock pot like the directions say- toss it into the freezer bag {EXCEPT the ingredients that are not suppose to go in until the end}

This should make 6 meals. But like I said the Potato Soup & Mexican Chili will be enough for possibly two dinners or left overs.
For US, this would make us 4 meals from the Mexican Chili, 4 from the Potato Soup and 2 with lunch size left overs from Mandy's Big Mess.
So 10 meals!!!

Start with just planning out ONE week. Do it like that till you feel comfortable and confident to go to two weeks- or prepping 6 meals that are doubled plus Breakfast for dinner twice or planning to have left overs for dinner a couple nights to make it to two weeks.
Then brave 3 weeks or 9 meals.
Then 4 weeks, 12 Meals.

 Thank goodness for Daniel- he helps me prep meals

We also do simple FAST hardly any work meals, like Pizza night, which is pre made refrigerated pizza dough and then let the girls decorate the pizza, or taco night. OR once in a while let the girls have a separate meal and then make dinner for Daniel and me after they go to sleep to enjoy a quiet meal we both like (& the girls probably wouldn't) Like Salmon with Asparagus.

Planning out meals made it that we didn't buy more than what we needed. We had a plan of attack and didn't need to guess what we may need. It has saved us money.

I write all the meals I find in a little dollar Journal I got at Michael's. I try to keep up by going back to the recipes and marking how much we all liked them- kind of like a star system.

 Because I did one week at a time to two weeks and finally a month it never felt overwhelming or too much to handle.
I really love it- I've merged into freezing casseroles, breakfast burritos & other breakfast food, and other things that can be used for the month or longer. Less work, more time for me and no worries of having my munchkins attack me because I'm in the kitchen cooking, instead I just get to spend my day and time with them :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Set Your Anchor- Part Two

I started yesterday writing out what Daniel and I feel helps make our marriage tick and keep ticking. You can find 1-7 here which was Daniel's list, and I elaborated on. 8-16 is my addition to 'The List'

8. Pray for your spouse, pray with them, and pray for yourself as a spouse
9. Say you're sorry
10. Forgive
11. Look nice
12. Date
13. Anniversary trips
14. Don't let anyone in the bubble of you and your spouse
15. Time/Share
16. Be financially wise

 8. Pray for your spouse. You won't believe what that does for you and them. You are lifting them up to God and you are pouring your heart out for them. When I bring Daniel to God in prayer I am showing him ultimate love and because of that, my love for him literally grows and strengthens for him. Pray for their heart, their mind, their spiritual walk, pray for what is troubling them, pray for peace, pray for wisdom, patience- it's endless. Lift your spouse up to God and God will honor it.
Philippians 4:6 "Don't worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask & pray. Give thanks to Him."
Pray with them- this intimate time solidifies the base on which our marriage stands. We show our vulnerability as we share our needs and lift them up and we see theirs. We make an invitation for God to enter into our presence and bless our relationship. It brings glory to God, and God will honor it.
Matthew 18:20 "Where two or three people meet together in my name, I am there with them." 
Pray for yourself. I ask that God helps me be a good wife, for guidance, patience, compassion, for love and to help me be someone who lifts my husband up. When we ask God to help US be the good spouse we become more aware of hearts and minds so we can slowly but surely move towards the goal of being a good spouse. And guess what.... God will honor it.

9. Say you're sorry.
This is so huge. Matthew 3:2 "Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repent you! For your marriage is at hand! A world of difference can be made when we say we are sorry. It turns the whole fight upside down. If I am in the wrong I am very quick to say I am sorry- usually- I try. If I am not in the wrong- sometimes I just apologize anyway! Maybe about my actions towards being upset or whatever the situation was- it brings peace to us automatically. Sometimes I want Daniel to say he's sorry and he isn't planning it- but if I apologize he will apologize back. Bring peace, suck it up and say you're sorry.

10. Forgive 
Luke 17:4 "Suppose he sins against you seven times in one day. And suppose he comes back to you each time and says, 'I'm sorry.' FORGIVE HIM."
Oooooooh how the bible is just filled with repentance and forgiveness and telling us to forgive. It is incredibly hard at times to let go- especially if it's a constant thing you find yourself forgiving. But such a wonderful verse Jesus gives us when he gives a limit to how many times we should forgive- He say's there is no limit. He didn't give us one, and oooooh how many times we have done a constant thing to Him we need forgiveness for. The hard part of forgiving is the emotional letting it go and NOT bringing it back up- into your mind or out in the open as a means to hurt your spouse. Thank God that He doesn't do that to us. So we must try our best to do the same.

11. Look Nice
When we were dating I can't count how many times I brushed my teeth in a day, checked my hair and spent hours styling it nice. Picking out an outfit, doing my makeup just right. Then we got married. And I couldn't keep myself looking constantly at my best and began to not care as much. I still care! I do. But some days not so much. But I try to make myself still look good for Daniel. I want him to know I still care about what he thinks of me and myself. I'm telling him he is still worth it. And keeping an attraction to each other is a big deal!

12. Date
Daniel and I did a lot of things together as far as going out when we got married. It was easy to still do. We gave each other time and went out and made an occasion of it. It was special.
When we had kids that's when dating got hard. It had to become intentional. Pick a day and time out so we can get a sitter. It's even more special. We are so busy with kids and we seem to revolve around them. It's important to step away from feeling revolved and revolve around just us again. It strengthens our relationship, it gives us personal time, it gives us intimacy that we just don't get whenever we want anymore. Taking time away out of each of our busy days tells the other that they are still very valuable to us and still desired.

13. Anniversary Trips
I told Daniel when we were engaged that I wanted us to do something every EVERY anniversary, to get out of town and celebrate. It is one of the biggest things for us that strengthens our relationship. Our time away from our home, our distractions, our children, our pups and just being completely focused on each other and ONLY each other... it's like a honeymoon every year. It is like a refreshing and a renewing over us and we feel like newlyweds! Take time out, and not just date time but a weekend trip, or a week trip and enjoy each other all over again like you did when you first met.
Also we make small guidelines- very limited electronics... like the only reason we keep our phones on is in case my mom needs to contact us about our girls. It's just to guarantee our time is utilized at it's best.

14. Don't let anyone is your bubble- Daniel and I have a bubble and you are not allowed in. Just like we aren't allowed in yours. It's a two person bubble. No one else should be in it besides God who is the bubble maker. Is this making sense? haha. I'm basically saying, anyone who talks negatively about my husband, who tries to bring me down about our marriage, anything that would make me feel anything less of my husband or marriage has entered our bubble and is squeezing  their way in between us, even if that's not their real intent- it is what it is. And so that thing or person needs to be removed immediately. Either by setting them in their place or removing them permanently. If you aren't lifting our marriage up then I'm afraid you don't belong and that's how you ought to be too.

15. Time/Sharing-
Honestly this falls into communication. I like to share my walk spiritually, or share my thoughts randomly- usually right when we get into bed which is bad timing cause that's when Daniel can't keep his eyes or ears open to listen to me. Nevertheless. I share my time and things that happen in my day etc. and so will Daniel. It just another block that helps build and keep our building of a relationship secure.

16. Be Financially Wise.
1 Timothy 6:10 "Love for money causes all kinds of evil. Some people want to get rich. They have wandered away from the faith. They have wounded themselves with many sorrows."
Thank goodness Daniel is in charge of our finances cause if I find a penny I WILL find a way to spend it! We discuss our finances together- where are money is going, where it's being saved, we save up for events, we stay out of debt as much as possible with credit cards and pay them off as soon as possible if we use them. When we are smart with our money then we aren't stressing about it and if we aren't stressing then it's not stressing on our marriage- it's not a source of frustration, anger or fear.

I'm adding one more... Talk about the future. It brings hope, it gives us expectations of good things to come. We share our hopes and wants for the future and we plan our hopes and dreams with each other. It will bring light to what may sometimes seem like a black tunnel. Hope.

There is SO much that can help make a marriage tick. These are just some of the major things that help us. I hope it helps you or someone you may know.
Daniel and I have what I would call 'Invisible Rules' it's not something we ever sat down and did major discussion on or wrote in stone. But it's rules we follow in our marriage.
We respect each other
We are kind to each other
We don't swear or use any profanity
We find ways to help each other
We are courteous
We try to have fun and laugh often
We take turns with not so fun things we have to do
We believe in the coventant of marriage and that it should not be broken
We have promised to do counseling before we ever let our marriage walk on the edge of falling apart

I sometimes wonder if it would help couples who are struggling to maybe make a 'Visual Rules' list to help get through tough times and rules to keep their relationship going. If you need to, sit down and write out the rules, maybe not bring up something that will obviously start a fight. Or if one of you want to talk the rule is the other one should be ready to sit and listen so there is no running from a needed conversation. Don't place blame rule. Whatever may help keep a fragile relationship bandaged and from knocking over and breaking.

Again, marriage is beautiful partnership, it's a blessing and brings an enahancement to ones life. It brings out the best and wost in us. It refines us. Marriage is unity- it's a perfect promise that is forever. It's a house with many parts that keeps it together, secure and from falling apart.

I don't claim to have the perfect marriage- we don't always communicate the best, I'm not the best listener, we don't always pray. But we're trying, everyday we keep going and pushing to keep our boat going.

And again it IS possible to make through any trial and any storm, you just need the right boat..
You have to have the right boat- God.
The right sail, your persistence.
The right rudder, your tongue.
And right navigation- His Word.

And the anchor is your heart- it's your beloveds and it should not be moved.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Set Your Anchor

Today my husband brought me home a cookie.

If I had to choose over flowers or a cookie... I choose the cookie. He knows me so well.

I was thinking about us and how our marriage ticks, what helps it tick and why after six years (which may be short to some or long) we still laugh, love and are best friends.

Last night in bed I thought about what is it that we hold valuable in our marriage that makes it strong. Then I asked Daniel what he thought. I asked, "If you were asked to give advice or pointers to a young man getting ready to get married, what would you tell them?"

He (eventually) numbered off;
1. Communicate
2. Listen
3. Make your spouse feel desired and needed
--He later added this evening
4. Watch out for pits
5. Always remember the Knight and Princess
6. You will learn patience- so be patient
7. Hold on and hold on tight song

My addition to that was/is;
8. Pray for your spouse, pray with them, and pray for yourself as a spouse
9. Say you're sorry
10. Forgive
11. Look nice
12. Date
13. Anniversary trips
14. Don't let anyone in the bubble of you and your spouse
15. Time/Share
16. Be financially wise

1. Communication is most likely every ones number one, yet one of the hardest things to do sometimes. 
The bible talks about speaking from the very first chapter of the bible. God spoke and it was. Words can build up and can tear down, words tie us together and expresses the depths of our hearts. We need our words to bind our relationships together and we need to be wise with our tongue, because words once spoken cannot be taken back. It should be used in a gracious way.
Colossians 4:6 "Let the words you speak always be full of grace. Seasoned them with salt. Then you will know how to answer everyone."
Daniel and I express with our words, even when mad or angry at each other, in a graceful way. We start our words by not placing blame but expressing our feelings and why we have them.
Communication is like a tennis match, you can't have a game and you can't have a solid and fair resolution if someone isn't hitting the ball back.
So speak full of grace and enhance your grace with salt to one another.

2. Listen. So much easier said than done. I seriously have a Attention Deficit issue and Daniel is very forgiving of me for it and I am sorry for it. He is an amazing listener and I appreciate being heard.
We all want to be heard, but guess what, so does your spouse. If we don't listen to our spouse we can't learn their wants and their desires, we wont know what needs to be done to help them tick. They wont feel wanted and the words will stop coming out if they keep falling on deaf ears- thus communication will end.
Proverbs 4:1 "My children, listen to a father's teaching. Pay attention and gain understanding."
We won't gain anything if we don't listen.

3. Make your spouse feel desired and needed.
Song of Solomon 2:10 "Rise up, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one."
It felt like that when you were proposed to huh? Or the one proposing. You felt desired and you desired your spouse. You were ready to go anywhere with them and start a new life at any moment with them. I tried to talk Daniel into eloping with me. To just run away together in the dark of the night and not have to wait for family and friends to witness our marriage. I was half joking. Our roots are deep now so just up and leaving isn't really possible. But I wouldn't go anywhere without him, and he wouldn't go anywhere without me. I would follow wherever he goes and he will follow me. We still desire one another.
It helps that when you feel like you're the one being desired- to desire them as well. So if you feel undesired- and you know you can make that feeling of being desired mutual, work on desiring them first and they will too communicate that back and you can begin to rekindle the flame.

4. Watch out for pits! 
Don't let yourself get too distracted with other things outside of your spouse. TV's, phones, computers are huge distractions that can consume our time. Other hobbies that overrule our time with our spouse can become idols. These things aren't evil but they can be if you put them before your wife or husband. So just watch it. And make some changes if you need to, or guidelines.
5. The Knight in shinning armor and the captivating princess
Psalms 18:2 "The Lord is my rock and my fort. He is the One who saves me. My God is my rock. I go to him for safety. He is like a shield to me. He's my place of safety."
Women want to feel safe. Men want to bring safety. Women want to be saved. Men want to save.
God represents His love many times as a bridegroom to His bride- His people, His children, His church.
He wants to save us and we want to be saved. Just as a real bride feels the same desire of safety. Just as real groom desires to bring safety.
When we keep this idea of the knight and princess it parallels in our marriage- to treat your wife like a Princess, to protect her, love her and keep her safe. And your husband a Knight, to trust him, follow him and respect him.

6. You will learn to be patient. Hopefully. Because if you don't you're in trouble. After the dating and honeymoon phase wears off, we can find ourselves seeing that cute chewing sound they make when they eat, isn't quite so charming. Or the messy side of your girlfriend made her seem ditsy and fun- but now she's your messy wife (sorry Daniel). Our endless patience can start to wear away.
You will ultimately learn about being patient as we get irritable, or impatient, or when you have kids! That was the real patience pusher for us.
So be patient!! Have grace and then COMMUNICATE it!

7. Hold on and hold on tight
Song Of Solomon 8:6 "Hold me close to your heart like the seal around your neck. Keep me close to yourself like the ring on your finger. My love for you is so strong it won't let go. Love is as powerful as death. Love's jealousy is as strong as the grave. Love it like a blazing fire. It burns like a mighty flame."
Psalms 63:8 "I hold on to you. Your powerful right hand takes good care of me."
When you find something good, you hang on to it. There may come a day when it may feel like that good thing isn't good anymore, or you're in that day. There was a day when it was good. Hang on to that, keep hanging on and hang on tight. Don't let a cool wind blow between you but keep the flame going. Even a spark can set a forest ablaze. Hold on.

I'm going to let that set in and finish off the other half tomorrow.

I really hope, in some ways, this can encourage others or help in some way if you need it. Or save it for a rainy day.

Marriage is precious, spectacular, an incredible ride and LOTS of work. It peels away at us showing our faults and our impurities. It brings out the worst and the best. It is possible to make it through any situation, any burden, season or storm.
You have to have the right boat- God.
The right sail, your persistence.
The right rudder, your tongue.
And right navigation- His Word.