Monday, September 29, 2014

When Prayer Doesn't Come Naturally

Maybe prayer comes naturally to some people, but for me it has been such a learning and growing process. I didn’t grow up sharing my heart and emotions. On the contrary, I pretty much had to bottle them all. Since emotional and relational honesty and intimacy weren’t areas I was very comfortable with, it took a long time to feel comfortable praying. At first, I didn't know how to pray or if God really even wanted to hear from me. I would try to pray, get frustrated, and give up because I felt like I wasn't doing it right. Or I would just mutter a five second prayer right before I fell asleep. Needless to say, I didn't have a very powerful prayer life. Honestly, God scared me. I could handle Jesus. I knew He loved me, but the God of the universe? I was pretty sure He just tolerated me because He had too. So you can imagine my excitement when I read the verse about the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. I figured if the men who walked alongside Jesus everyday had to be taught to pray, then there was hope for me. This led me to awkwardly asking God to teach me to pray which led me to learning this about God: He LOVES to answer prayers from people who are wanting to learn more about Him. Right away He put people in my life who showed me what a relationship (not performance) with Himself looked like. Now over a year later I find myself talking to God in a much more personal way. I've discovered how much I need that communication with Him. If I don't get my prayer and time alone with Him you do not want to be around me. Chances are I'll be waking in my flesh and that gets real ugly, real fast. To get to this place of being comfortable with prayer though, I had to recover from some pretty nasty lies and replace them with these truths:
God is like no one in my life. I brought some heavy baggage into my relationship with God which meant I did not see Him for who He says He is. I have learned that I cannot view God through the lens of my parents, friends, spouse, exes, the world, and sometimes even the people in my church. If I do, I end up with a distorted and messed up picture. I am in no way saying that others and the church can't help me in my walk with God, but the best place for me to learn who God is in His word. The same God who worked in Abraham's life wants to work in mine and yours. He hasn't changed.
I do not have to have anything together before I come to God. So many times I have felt like I needed to get my life figured out or a sin conquered before I dared to approach God's throne room. Nope, not true. If we were perfect, we wouldn't have needed Jesus. "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it" (Hebrews 4:16).
God wants to hear from me. He adores me. Before I even knew to love Him, God loved me. "In this is love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1John 4:10).
Prayer has turned into the greatest tool for God's power to work in my life and it all started just by saying "Lord, teach me to pray".
"God means prayer to have an answer, and that it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive what God will do for His child who gives himself to believe that his prayer will be heard."
"Christ teaches us to pray not only by example, by instruction, by command, by promises, but by showing us HIMSELF, the ever-living Intercessor, as our life. It is when we believe this, and go and abide in Him for our prayer-life too, that our fears of not being able to pray aright will vanish, and we shall joyfully and triumphantly trust our Lord to teach us to pray, to be Himself the life and the power of our prayer".
Both of these quotes are from Andrew Murray's book With Christ in the School of Prayer. Hope everyone has a great, prayer filled Tuesday.

How We Broke in Whole Foods

We were very excited this weekend to go to our new Whole Foods store. I couldn't wait. We went Friday evening and it was packed. Right when we were strolling by one of the sample tables, a stomach bug hit my toddler full on. And by full on, I mean throw up went everywhere. All over her, me, our cart and the floor. Not to mention she was hysterical because she has never really had that happen before. I ended up running out of the store with her, while listening to sanitation being called on us. And that was our first experience with Whole Foods. I snuck back in Sunday hoping no one would remember me and was excited to see the huge selection they offered. Most of it seemed pretty affordable too. The only things I didn't buy there were my organic dairy products. Still much cheaper at Kroger.

Fortunately my girl was feeling better in time for church Sunday.
Life is becoming very interesting the older Avery gets. I love this talkative stage and how interactive she is. It also presents some new challenges. This morning when she discovered it was raining outside we heard her mutter "awe ship". Obviously this was meant to be another word. Jared and I were both floored. We never use language like that around here even when very upset. The irony is that the only two places she could have picked it up from is either a kid at her Mothers Day Out program at a church or a kid in the church nursery. This just goes to show that you cannot protect your kids from every single thing. This is why building a relationship with her is incredibly important to me. I want to have more influence on her than the peers around her.  Avery honestly thought that whoever she heard say that phrase said ship because when I asked her what she meant, she looked at me like duh and said "a pirate ship Momma". I had to spend a good bit of time convincing her that is not how we use that word and coming up with other phrases like "oh no" or "awe man" when we are disappointed. Always an adventure around here, especially on a Monday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Toddlers Healthy Skincare Routine

When I first had Avery I knew absolutely nothing about health. During her first year she had multiple ear infections. So many that she eventually ended up with tubes by her sixth month. She also suffered from allergies just like I do.
Around the end of her first year our church offered a free class on nutrition. It really kicked off this whole health journey I've been on for the last two years. I am no expert in organic or holistic medicine. I am just a Mom who wants to take the best care of the child God has entrusted to me. I've spent the last couple years gathering and wading through a massive amount of information. The hardest thing though is trying to provide healthy options for a family while living on a budget. I don't believe in living beyond our means anymore so I have to figure out creative ways to be as healthy as possible without breaking the bank.
Skincare is one area I have gotten extremely interested in the last year. When Avery was little I slathered all the name brand products on her and didn't think twice about it. But now, I try to be incredibly selective with what goes on her skin. Here are some of the ways we have changed her skincare while staying within our monthly budget:
1. I use coconut oil. Some nights I put on lotion, but most nights you will find me using coconut oil as Avery's moisturizer. It absorbs quickly and smells great. You can find coconut oil anywhere, but we buy ours in the huge container at Costco. I actually find a lot of organic products at Costco including the body wash I use on Avery.
2. Instead of the normal baby body wash, I use The Honest Company's shampoo and body wash combination. I love their products and now they have them at Target. I buy mine at Costco because they come in pretty big containers and last a long time.
3. I buy Burt's Bees when it is on sale. I started using Burt's Bees a couple months ago. I love the smell of their lotion and its what I use when I don't feel like breaking out the coconut oil. I buy mine at Target and Kroger when it is on sale which seems to happen fairly regularly.
It is amazing the difference that these few changes have had on Avery's skin. Her skin isn't as easily irritated as it used to be and mosquitoes leave her and I alone now. It feels great knowing that I can make healthy choices for her without putting extra stress on our finances.

Week 12

Week 12 of being pregnant is coming to a close and I am headed into my second trimester. While I thankfully did not experience morning sickness I did get the joy of having pregnancy acne along with being extremely tired. And while the end result is definitely worth being uncomfortable, I am happy to be moving into the next phase of my pregnancy. My cravings have varied a ton from when I was pregnant with Avery. I ate an unbelievable amount of unhealthy food with her. Think along the lines of Taco Bell and McDonalds. This pregnancy I've been craving a lot of fruit and vegetables, particularly red grapes and cucumbers. The only food that I crave a lot of that isn't the best for me is potato chips. I could eat them all day long. I have to at least have a little handful at lunch and dinner.
Avery is getting so big. I can hardly stand it. Sometimes it is like talking to a little adult. She asked to pick out her own outfit this day and she actually did a great job. You can't see, but she even had matching Hello Kitty sandals on.
And she has been insistent on helping me cook, even if its just to make sandwiches. Which has been known to happen a lot lately for dinner.
 Playing babies is her new favorite activity. It's great helping her prepare for being a big sister. She does get a little bossy though. In the picture below she was telling me how I needed to be quiet since her baby was sleeping.
 Wednesday night we went to see Jared play his first soccer game of the season. I love cheering my man on when he is out there on the field.
I'm looking forward to the weekend and some down time with my family. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Power in Powerlessness

I’ve always been somewhat of a control freak. I don’t enjoy a lot of change. I know some of that comes from having an ever changing childhood and the rest comes from my personality type. Change is hard for me to take and admitting I am not in control of things can be even harder. You can imagine the difficulties that this is causing during my pregnancy, when I have absolutely no control over most things except what I put into my body.
Because I grew up in a church that routinely had support groups based around the twelve steps I learned them pretty early. And step one has always been my go to step when I’m struggling with surrendering my control.
‘We admitted we were powerless-that our lives had become unmanageable.”
If you believe in God like I do then truth is we aren’t ever really in control. I believe God is sovereign and does a much better job at guiding my life along than I do, yet I still face the temptation to try to step in and take the reins. This normally produces results that leave my life or relationships a complete mess. This is why I find myself back at step one on a continual basis.
There is a great benefit to admitting my powerlessness. Not only does it take the pressure off me, but it allows God to come in and work His power in my life. I promise you, He accomplishes much more than I ever can on my own. Anytime I try to take the place of God and take control of my own life, unmanageability quickly ensues. Like when I practice my people pleasing and end up saying yes to way too many commitments. Mine and my families' life quickly becomes unmanageable. However, if God is the center of my life and not others, then I have no problem with saying no to others and making time to enjoy my relationships.
There is so much power in admitting my powerlessness, it just isn’t mine. It’s the power of God and the Holy Spirit working in me. And that is a power I will take any day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Filling in the Gaps

I got to have a great weekend enjoying Avery. We spent all day Saturday together playing outside and finished out our evening with a movie. I am trying to soak up all my alone time with her since we will be adding another baby soon. I can’t imagine it not being just me and her anymore.
After watching her play this weekend and taking a moment to whisper a prayer of gratitude for God giving me the privilege and recovery to be such a hands on Mom with her, I thought of how many people (myself included) didn’t grow up in these types of scenarios.
It’s incredibly sad when you look around and realize you are missing some of the people who are supposed to love and accept you the most. It can feel like a giant size hole in your heart that will not go away or be placated with anything else. I think this is a reason why many of us turn to unhealthy people. It stops mattering where we get the love or how good it is, as long as we get it.
There is another way to fill in those gaps. I know from experience. I tried to get them filled the world’s way and was only left more depleted in the end and with more hurt to show. When I stopped looking around for that love and looked up, change started happening.
God has an amazing ability to fill in those gaps in our lives where a person is missing. Psalms 68:5-6 says “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows-this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But for rebels, there is only famine and distress.”
God is not only a Father to the fatherless, He places the lonely in families. Not having a parent, sibling or spouse be emotionally or even physically available doesn’t hinder God. He finds a place for you to go where you can experience the acceptance of Jesus Christ. I have seen God place people in my life who have truly become my family. They have stepped in to fill up these roles that I desperately needed and wanted to see fulfilled.
Does it mean I don’t ever grieve for the losses I have experienced? Of course not, but I would be foolish if I overlooked all the ways my God has provided for me in those losses. I will be forever grateful for all the healthy, safe relationships He has used to reveal His love towards me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The bump and a little bit of serenity

Almost out of the first trimester...only one more week to go. I am praying that my energy comes back in the second trimester and I want to do more than nap.
And contrary to what everyone keeps asking me, I am not having twins. At least not that I am aware of.
Avery is a huge fan of the baby bump and keeps rubbing and kissing my belly. Here's hoping she feels the same way when the actual baby shows up.
 She wants to try on all my shoes now.
We spent one afternoon pretending to be princesses.
It was finally cold enough today to wear something other than a sleeveless shirt. I am beyond ready for fall.
I was reminded this week of how powerful the serenity prayer can be. It's simple and gets straight to the heart of things. Such a great prayer for me to say when I am overwhelmed with certain situations, people or just life in general. I found myself saying it over and over the last couple days. There are times when I don't even know how to pray and this prayer is all I can mutter to stay sane.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."