Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lessons Learned from Pregnancy

You can never really know what to expect from pregnancy no matter how many books you have read or how many stories you have heard from friends. Every pregnancy is different for every person. So what is true for me in these months might not hold true in future pregnancies. I did want so badly to be the person who absolutely loved pregnancy, mainly because I heard so many negative things about it (and parenting) before we started our own journey. And it is a gift that not everyone is able to see happen in their life.

However, while I can't say I've loved it, there are things I have enjoyed and have learned a lot already. Here are some of the lessons which also may ring true for those with a long-term illness. (At the risk of being cliche, I thought I'd document my own experience for those who can relate.)

Getting up slowly

I heard a story about a great Chicago football player (Walter Peyton) who spoke once about always getting up slowly after a tackle. That way, your opponents won't know if you're actually hurt and come after you. Show no weakness! Inspirational, right?

This is not that.

Whether it's standing up slowly from a chair so that you have your balance, sitting up slowly in bed so that you won't get nauseous, or just moving slower to prevent pulling those very loose joints and muscles, I have learned that getting up slowly is my best friend. Sometimes it seems like you are belaboring the point, but when you get up and feel good when you're up, it's a victory in itself.

Enjoying food 

This is never to be taken for granted ever again. The media is quick to splash a picture of a woman buried in a sea of food bags as a sign that she is pregnant. Similarly, people ask about cravings. Even marching into my third trimester, I've learned that enjoying food is a gift--not an expectation. It hasn't been "cravings" for me. It has been "tolerances." I open the pantry. I'm very hungry, because hunger strikes hard and fast these days, and I can't find a thing to eat because nothing sounds or looks good.

After my first trimester was over, I was SO thrilled to eat anything with flavor. I'd had my fill of crackers and Gatorade. But the same has held true over the span of these past 7 months and I've found myself eating bland foods to ward off any triggers that render me horizontal for the rest of the day in attempt to avoid nausea... or worse.

So when I can once again eat whatever I want without consequence, I will not take these things for granted. Also, I will need to be counting calories and working out so that I don't gain more weight post-baby. Moderation-- always moderation.


On the morning you wake up feeling pretty darn good, you will drop everything you put in your hands requiring you to bend down to pick it up and thus trigger the nausea. When you finally think you've gotten enough rest to get you through the day without a nap, you can trust that you will be on your side in a few hours praying your heart rate slows down and your lungs get a full breath. The day you finally have plans will be the day that you don't feel like seeing a single soul. Or the day you don't have plans and can stay home all day, you will have to run to the grocery store for a necessity. And the moment you convince yourself that you will indeed survive this very strange journey of body occupation and total takeover, some awkward person feels at liberty to share a horror story which would have been better left unsaid in the universe in general.

I think this is God's way of helping me learn to adjust my expectations each day. It's not always negative or waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it's learning to roll with the punches and not set anything in stone. Health is a fragile thing and you cannot push yourself past your limits with hopes of conquering the world as you did before. You must listen to your body and understand that this season of fragility won't last forever.

It is a wild ride of adjusting your life to sustain another life. It is a gift to feel a kick and see your abdomen moving on its own, because there are so many who can't have that. It is a weakness of your body that will result in your body being the strongest its ever been. It is a light at the end of a tunnel which seems so far off and yet way too close for comfort at times. It is beautiful and messy and discouraging and hopeful all at the same time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cleansing My Pantry and Refrigerator

My opportunity to post a New Years post is quickly slipping away. I think I've posted a post on this blog at least 10 times since Sept but apparently only in my mind.

Life is never stationary. There's plenty of mundane survival involved in living, but we're always changing and adapting to conditions around us. Not just with the new year and all those resolutions that come with it. I do prefer to attempt to make lifestyle changes instead of just resolutions. And while Jack has instituted a new silverware policy in our dishwasher so that every utensil has a designated slot in the basket (hello OCD!), we've also talked through our nutrition.

I will admit that food has been a "whatever we can afford" type of a deal for most of our marriage, but we are implementing a few new rules this year.

1) No high fructose corn syrup in the products we buy. It's the stuff of obesity and cancer and unhealthiness.
2) No MSG (monosodium glutamate)
3) Limited sugar intake
4) Cut back on milk intake (not dairy in general...just milk)

While #3 is a very large challenge, I'm convinced that in my life that the socially accepted "sweet tooth" is an addiction to sugar. I have zero legs to stand on when I say that I don't support addictions of any kind but yet I can't resist sugar (or for some it's caffeine.) As an adult, I no longer have an excuse for the bad things I eat. I choose what comes in my house (most of the time). Occasional sugar is fine, but feeling I need it every day or using it as a comfort food is unacceptable. Moderation. I feel that I did well with kicking the habit last year, but now I'm implementing it strongly in my house. Yes, Jack is now checking labels and paying attention to what's in his food. I feel like this is just the beginning of our journey with chemicals in our food and products.

Millennials have been tagged as hipsters who run to every food trend out there and spend way too much money on fancy labeled foods. But can you blame people for wanting to know what's in their food? And honestly, there is so much information out there about what companies are doing to our food source, but now it's all about finding the truth amidst the shouting. "Sustainable" food isn't necessarily healthy food. Anyway, I digress.

Small lifestyle changes that really help us see a difference and give future diseases, illnesses, and cancers less of a foothold is what we're going for. What are you changing this year?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Unchanging God That is Different

I've been reading in the Old Testament recently and have found it really intriguing that the God of the Old Testament doesn't seem to be the same God I see today. And we know that God never changes (James 1:17, Malachi 3:6), so what has changed?

God disapproved deeply of murder (Cain killing Able. David killing Uriah), yet God authorized the Israelites (especially David) to wipe out entire races of people. Everywhere David went God granted him favor over obliterating cities--men, women, children, animals, everything. On God's order, the forces would leave nothing alive and when Saul spared the life of some, he was punished severely. Today we call this kind of thing genocide or the Holocaust or "jihad."

Another place we see our view of God is different is in 1 Samuel. We find that Saul brings David to his palace to play the harp for him. In the Scriptures it mentions that God causes Saul's dark moods which have Saul throwing spears at David and trying to kill David in the wilderness. That's so different from how Western society sees things. We attribute all evil to the Devil and everything else to God. But really as I think about it, all things should be attributed to God because we know that Satan is not the opposite of God since God is Supreme Ruler. Satan/Lucifer is the opposite of Michael the Archangel. I'm not saying God tempts us with evil or authors evil or embraces evil, James 1:13 says He doesn't, but at the same time by saying the dark moods came from God it seems that we are saying "God is in control of all" as Job acknowledged.

I have other thoughts, but I find it interesting that when we read Scriptures the God we see there supersedes the God we've set up in our cultures. His ways are far beyond what we can understand. The pain, the judgment, the swords we brandish at one another for causes that we've come to understand as truth  are not all backed by Scripture. Yet all we can do is submit and say "God, you're in control. Do what you deem best and give me peace about it because you never change. In this life, I'll never see the full picture. I'll never understand what you don't give me power to understand." Some people think that God contradicts Himself in Scripture, but because we can only see through the lens of our conditioned thinking, I think our understanding of God  often contradicts God's true being. Only through divine help can we truly grasp an epically small portion of the being of God.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lessons from Moving

Can we all agree how crazy life gets at moments? And while I know that life could be so much busier, let me tell you what is crazy. Moving 4 times in 5 years. Oddly enough, each time we move we say we won't do it again for a while. And God hears our declaration and laughs and says "wait til you see what I have for you in a year." And inevitably, we move.

My husband and I have lived in every type of house the average commoner can live in (read no mansions or castles...yet). We moved from living in dorms to being married with an apartment to owning a house to renting a three-level townhouse to renting a duplex. We've learned a few things along the way about moving.

5 things make moving easier:
1) Friends that help
2) Moving in-town
3) Using boxes
4) Not having any stairs
5) Not unpacking entirely in the first place

I think Jack and I both agree that we'd rather not live in a three-story townhouse again if it can be prevented. Moving three levels of stuff is definitely more painful than moving the same amount of stuff in a one-level. Walking it from the truck to its designated place with no stairs is such a happy feeling. If you've never experienced such exhilaration, just take my word for it.

Have you ever had that moment where an outsider looked at your earthly possessions and said "wow, you have a lot of stuff" and you weren't sure whether you wanted to agree with them or be offended? You hover with a foot in both camps because you agree you have a lot, but certainly not as much as some, and yet who is someone else to determine how much stuff a person should have unless there is hoarding going on.

So the natural response is to clean out. You have to ask yourself "are your kids actually going to revere your plastic elementary school soccer trophies the same way you did? You were the MVP and all." But the answer is most likely going to be "no probably not." Whew--tough pill to swallow. Take a picture of them, thank them for their service, and set them free. A life free of clutter is certainly worth having. Not that I'd know completely, but from the outside it sure looks nice. And moving lots of stuff isn't fun--that I do know.

What are you tricks for moving? Leave a comment!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Drinking Green

Have you ever purchased kale from the grocery store? If you have, you know it comes in massive quantities. It's as if the sales people for kale said, "hey we don't have a lot of sales on our kale so if someone wants it we should sell them a ton of it at one time." 

There's an amazing soup recipe I have that calls for kale. It is essentially a copycat soup of Olive Garden's zuppa toscano which is incredibly delicious thanks to the sausage, bacon, and potatoes in it. I digress.

So in lieu of all of that kale that is left over, and due to my previous utter failure of making kale chips which do not taste like potato chips by the way, I started searching for ways to not waste vegetables--good healthy food. I've heard of how much of a super food kale is but haven't really paid much attention to the fad since it was most likely started by kale-growers themselves. So enter my resourcefulness. I went and got strawberries so I could blend the kale with milk and strawberries. Here's what it looks like on my second try. My first try looked really brown.
With enough milk to dampen the kale, it blended right up and the strawberries added sweetness. To make it a little extra sweet, I put in a teaspoon of honey. But I'm pretty proud of starting my morning with leafy green vegetables even if it does get spiced up by some fruit. Sure beats sugar-added cereal in every category included nutritional value. I thought maybe it'd taste bad but it didn't at all. I was pleasantly surprised. 

So tomorrow morning, I'm going to go for kale-strawberry smoothie number 3. My body has some recovering to do from my lapse in sugar avoidance over the weekend. **ahem**

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pillow Talk: Stain Removal

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine  shared an article on Facebook about how to get yellow or stained pillows and pillow cases white. Tossing them in the wash just doesn't cut it, at least it doesn't for me. So I saved the link to pore over at a later date. (You can find the original post here.)

Yesterday was that later date. In changing the sheets and pillow cases for the bed, I decided it was high time to try to get those pesky stains out. At the risk of over-sharing and grossing you out, I'm going to go ahead and over-share. This is your warning. Do not continue if your sensibilities are easily offended.

So for the rest of you, here's the deal. I hesitated to wash feather pillows in the past because I didn't want to destroy the feather fluffiness. So we invested in some good pillow covers that would take the brunt of the weight. Kinda like getting a good mattress pad to protect your mattress. You spend lots of time in your bed with your skin oils, sweat, and grease getting all over each surface. Made sense to me.

I'd washed my pillow covers often but never really saw much change in the staining. Sadly, I'm always very hesitant to use bleach because of its destructive nature. But I followed the "recipe" laid out in the article very loosely since I didn't have all the quantities I needed and traded vinegar for borax. So take note that I'm sure the results would have been even better had I followed the instructions to the letter. I used this recipe on two pillows and two pillow covers, but only took a picture of the pillow covers since they were the worst.

1 cup of laundry detergent
1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
1 cup bleach (you could try “A Natural Bleach Alternative“ if you are opposed to chlorine bleach)
1/2 cup borax

Here's the very shameful before picture of two pillow cases I was going to throw out (always good to do a test run before you do anything on your nice stuff):

And the very happy after picture (their lives are spared):

I do wonder if I'd used bleach on them before now if that would have made the difference instead of using all those ingredients combined. Even though they aren't pictured, I must say that the pillows look significantly better and I did put both pillows and covers through the wash twice.
Chalk it up to another day of being awesome. ;)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Touch The Sky by Hillsong United

Blown away by this new song from Hillsong United. I picked this video specifically because I like it live A LOT. Skip to 1:20 if you want to skip the initial conversation. The lead singer, Taya Smith sang Oceans and she's back to lead us back to submissive worship.

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