The Value of A Labor Doula

Looking back over the births of my two precious little ones, I have treasured the presence of my doula, Amber. She was the perfect comforting support person that facilitated a peaceful atmosphere during my labor. She provided that reassuring presence with her knowledge and expertise in the birthing process. Her service to me has been the launching point of my desire to serve others in this way. I wanted to be able to encourage women that the birthing process is a beautiful and natural experience.

What is a Doula?

Servant

A doula is an ancient Greek word and literally means “mother’s slave”. Her aim is to accompany women in labor to help them have a more satisfying birth experience.

Advocate

A doula provides you with emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, be your advocate in communicating with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions as they arise in labor. She is not taking the place of medical staff, but helps guide parents with balanced information and perspective. She can help you form your own birth plan and support you each step of the way.

She will not offer medical exams, but will help provide information so a couple can make informed decisions. She understands the birth plan, the desires of the mother and father, and seeks wholeheartedly to be an advocate for them. Her desire is that birth would be a beautiful experience for the family and that all would come away feeling the wonders of God’s design in the creation and birth of new life.

Wealth of comfort measures in her doula bag

A doula can provide reassurance and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help provide physical comfort through massage, labor positions, hydrotherapy, optimal fetal positioning, aromatherapy, acupressure, deep relaxation and visualization techniques. My doula was extremely skilled in providing just the right comfort measures (from back massages to the rebozo technique – an excellent excellent for correct positioning of babies) and position changes for every stage of my labor. She offered that quiet support that was not intrusive in the least. She was there to continually remind me to keep breathing deeply, taking long slow breaths, to stay on top of the contractions, and encourage me with the right words continually.

Does not replace Dad

A doula does not take the place of a husband or partner. She is one that helps provide the father with ideas to support the mother. She is one that offers reassurance, reminders, and tips that he might be most effective. A doula has most often been through labor and delivery herself and can thus relate to the pain of the mother, and help the mother’s spouse/partner understand possible alternatives, comfort measures that they can team up together in providing for the mother.

My husband specifically loved the presence of a doula at our births. He saw her as one who did not take his place in the least but provided him with the tools and reminders of how to serve me most effectively. She helped him be my #1 support!

Constant Support

Especially in a hospital setting, nurses and doctors will come and go, but a doula will stick with mother, father and baby through the whole labor and delivery. She will often be available to help with immediate breastfeeding after birth. Postpartum doulas are even available to hire after the birth to attend your needs at home and help you through the transition process. This is a huge asset especially if you do not have family in the area. It would be an excellent gift idea!

Benefits of Doula Use

Studies on labor support show that the benefits of doulas are tremendous!

  • C-sections reduced by 50%
  • Length of labor reduced by 25%
  • Oxytocin (induction) use reduced by 40%
  • Use of narcotics reduced by 30%
  • Forceps reduced by 30%
  • Epidurals reduced by 60%

Long-term benefits include:

  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Increased time spent with baby
  • Decreased postpartum depression

Doulas are independent and self-employed. I highly encourage you consider hiring a doula, especially if it is your first birth. They can be that knowledgeable support that is totally unique to even midwives.

To find a doula near you, visit Dona International or CAPPA.

Photo Credit

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Make Your Own Nursing Cover

A nursing cover is a huge asset to have as a new mom as you begin exploring the world of breastfeeding. I have been making my own for several years now. I love to give them as gifts to new moms because they are so nice to maintain privacy and comfort on the go. Nursing covers can be relatively expensive and easy enough to make in the comfort of your home with some basic supplies and simple sewing skills. I usually spend no more than $8-10 for all the supplies necessary for this project. Here is a little tutorial of my most recent cover for your use. This is a large nursing cover, measuring about 42″ x 30″ in the completed product. Most of the standard nursing covers on the market are far smaller and make it more awkward to keep yourself fully covered. I purposefully made this latest one significantly larger to test. The recipient shared that it was a huge improvement! You can certainly adapt the pattern to your own needs by adding extra or decreasing in size as desired.

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Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: MOTHERHOOD

by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

As I’m writing this article, it’s Mother’s Day morning. It’s not even 7am, but my husband and I have been awake for hours. Outside my little round window, I’m looking out over the fluffy clouds, and feeling so overwhelmingly thankful. Right now, Jon and I are en route to California to welcome “home” our oldest son, a USMC 1st Lieutenant in Ground Intelligence, who returns tomorrow from a dangerous military deployment in Afghanistan. It’s an exciting life-moment, but for this time to coincide with Mother’s Day is like a special gift, just from God!

This month on Passionate Homemaking, Lindsay asked if I would share my 5 top tips for mothers.

So, how do I put a lifetime of principles into a few concise tips? I’ve come to realize motherhood is a complex calling. It begins with a tiny little person growing inside of us, but the ramifications this has on every area of our life and future are HUGE!!! Successful motherhood is not easy, and it’s definitely not for wimps. Good motherhood demands everything we’ve got, plus more. It requires strength of character; discipline; reliance on God’s grace (and lots of help from friends and family); endurance; a new heart for intercession, like we never knew before; lots of laundry soap, Comet, and Windex; laughter; and VISION.

Just to let you know, I absolutely LOVE being a mom. Some of you may have struggled with accepting the idea of motherhood, but not me. Even from the time I was a girl, I’ve always longed for the whole package-deal. I was raised as the oldest child in a fairly large family (with six kids), and throughout my childhood and youth, I always looked forward to being a mom. At our wedding, Jon and I requested a prayer of blessing for lots of kids. And then, once we started having babies, we’ve been praising God for this dream come true!!!

A fun mommy moment, with our youngest child, Philip (a few years ago)

I love the feeling of a baby growing and kicking inside me (and that season when laying on the couch and eating well gives me a feeling of productivity). I love the challenge and work and JOY of giving birth. I love nursing and nurturing a precious newborn (and seeing those big eyes looking up at me). I love snuggling with toddlers, managing a houseful of rowdy munchkins, mixing batches of yummy cookies at a crowded kitchen counter, enjoying deep conversations with teens, envisioning possibilities with young adults . . . and aiming our arrows into the world to do some SERIOUS damage to the kingdom of darkness. WOOHOO!!! I love it!!!

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The Joys of Home Birthing

My home birth team at Titus' birth - March 2009

I write this post today merely to share of my personal experience home birthing, but I want to clarify from the outset that there is no condemnation here for any one who chooses a different route – be it hospital or birth center. I know you can have a beautiful experience in all three of these environments when you chose to embrace the process. My purpose today is simply to share my personal testimony of my experience and encourage you all to weigh the pro’s and con’s of every birthing option.

I have been so extremely blessed to have two beautiful and peaceful home births and we anticipate our third this summer. I’m even throwing around the idea of birthing in our hot tub! ;) If you think I’m nuts, your not the only one…I still have to convince my husband. ;) With my two births I have experienced the true beauty of giving birth.

Birthing each of my children has been a empowering experience and a sanctifying work in my own heart. It has changed me more than any other process, event or circumstance. I have had to lean on the Lord more intimately than ever before. And in the process, I have grown to truly love the birthing process. I have learned that fear only tightens our muscles and causes delay in birth, whereas a wholehearted embracing and working together with contractions and pain has allowed for a smooth, peaceful transition into motherhood. God designed this pain to bring that fruitful sanctification in my own heart and He extends grace for every birthing environment.

Here are some reasons why I love home birthing:

Comfort of my own home

My favorite aspect of home birthing is that I can stay within the comfort and security of the environment that I am most familiar with – my own home. My home is a place that I have made my own. It is a place I love to be because it encourages relaxation. I feel secure because it has been decorated and arranged to my taste. Home birthing views birth as a integrated part of our family life as we celebrate life together with family and friends. During early labor, I enjoyed baking in my kitchen to help keep me distracted.

Continuous labor support

With a home birth midwife you experience continuous labor support. My midwives are with me through the duration of labor rather than being distracted by the needs of others. They are continually available to answer questions, offer suggestions, and facilitate the birth as I desire. There is an absence of multiple nurses changing duties or coming in at undesirable hours.

Privacy

In my own home, I enjoyed the beauty of birthing with my dear husband by my side and my midwives, whom I have gotten to know extensively over the nine month period of pregnancy. There is no one else there unless I desire them. I am comfortable because these are people I am closest to. And when I am comfortable, my body relaxes, facilitating a natural delivery.

Freedom

I love the ability to set the mood in the room with calm music, dim lights, lighted candles, or whatever else might encourage my relaxation. I can move around as needed to encourage the process of labor. Numerous labor positions, space to walk, climbing stairs, and the like, all help encourage the passage of baby down the birth canal. I can eat during labor and satisfy the needs of my body. I can labor or birth in a tub if desired. In this freedom there is so many options and means of relief.

Lack of interventions

Any interventions are going to cause greater risk to mother and baby. It is important to evaluate the potentials risks of interventions when considering epidurals, cesareans, and inductions. These are often accepted as lifesavers without thought. It is also important to consider the slippery slope of intervention as well. Statistically, once you add an epidural you are at a much higher risk of induction (due to the way that epidurals often numb our bodies to the extent that it slows down the birth process), and both these produces increase the rise of cesareans. With these pain medications and such not being available, I am allowed to work together with my body in the birthing process. I can focus on embracing the pain rather than fighting it, which leads to a quicker delivery. Please note: there are certainly extreme cases when these procedures can be life saving in high risk pregnancies. I am thankful for advancement of technology in our modern culture, but also leery of how often it is utilized unnecessarily in low risk pregnancies.

Encouragement for immediate bonding and breastfeeding

Early breastfeeding helps mom stop bleeding, clear mucus from the baby’s nose and mouth, and transfer disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby. I loved being able to bring my baby forth on my own or via my husband’s arms and carry directly to my chest. I loved having extensive time to just enjoy each other with uninterrupted time.

I have intentionally avoided addressing all the debate about the ideas of safety and conflicts that are attached to the idea of home birthing, because I believe there is plenty of information available for your own review. I’ve shared a few resources below.

Ultimately, studies show that home birthing is just as safe as a hospital setting. If you are low risk (which represents 85-95% of pregnancies), have a trained professional licensed midwife, and ideally have a hospital within close proximity and a working relationship with a physician in case of transfer, there really is nothing to fear. There is certainly instances when you want to avoid home birthing if you are diabetic, for example. And there is certainly a valuable place for modern health care in a hospital setting. Home births have been a natural way of life since the dawn of time. Statistics show that countries with large numbers of home births have less maternal morbidity and mortality than the United States.

I believe that God has beautifully designed your body to give birth in whatever environment you chose. It is ideal for the most successful birth that you do chose an environment that you are comfortable in and that will encourage the relaxation of your body. It is important to research your options and become knowledgeable in the pros and cons of every option so you can make an informed decision. Pray together with your husband rather than just embracing all the assumptions of our day and age.

Further Reading:

Karis’ Homebirth Story - learn about the crazy and miraculous events surrounding our Karis’ breech home birth delivery!
Titus’ Homebirth Story
- read about the adventure of welcoming our second little one into the world!
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth
- a balanced view addressing all the issues relevant to natural child birthing.
The Christian Childbirth Handbookmy favorite book on the topic of natural birthing with a sweet God-focused approach!
Bradley Birth or Brio Birthing ClassesI highly recommend every woman to take a serious birthing class – wherever you chose to deliver. The hospital birthing classes are unfortunately not very thorough or practice intensive. Bradley or Brio birthing classes are highly recommended because they really help train you how to work effectively with your bodies. They include lots of practice and help to work through any fear or anxiety you may be experiencing. The best thing we did in preparation for our births!
American Pregnancy Association
– thoughts and resources on home birthing
The Homebirth Choice – an article by Midwifery Today

What birthing option have you chosen and what were the pros and cons of your experience? What do you think are the pros and cons of a hospital, birth center or home birth setting? Please keep comments considerate and respectful or they will be removed. Thank you!

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Learning to Enjoy Our Children

Enjoying smores in our backyard

Blowing bubbles, chasing butterflies, zooming cars, and dress ups are treasured moments at our home these days. These are little glimpses into the beauty of motherhood. With two toddlers, aged 2 and 4, I confess I find it challenging to stop the daily to-do list and sit down by their side and explore the world together. It takes deliberate focused action. I am not one so eager to slow down when I want to be most productive with each passing minute. Dinner is calling, dishes fill the sink, and Karis asks for a story. But these little ones are growing up before my very eyes. When I chose to be intentional, my children blossom. They are so much more happy, secure, and satisfied even when I just take a few moments to focus on their interests in particular on a regular basis.

How hard would it be to invest an intentional 30 minutes with each child on a daily basis? That has been the gentle call upon my heart lately. I don’t want to miss out. I want these precious gifts in my hands to be lovingly cared for, nurtured, watered, and brought to fruition into a full beautiful full life. My little ones have been entrusted into my care by a faithful and loving God who has honored me with this task of motherhood. I need to refocus. I need to stop focusing on all the work involved in raising them up, and start enjoying the special things that delight and bring laughter to their souls.

Could I stop today and dance together with them across the living room floor? Could I get down on my hands and knees, even with belly protruding, and get enraptured in “zoom” noises with little cars? Could I enjoy apples and peanut butter on our back deck and talk about the latest favorite book, story, or event on my daughter’s heart? Can I just stop and see? Can I see the delight in their eyes when I ask them what they want to do and then do it with them? Can I let go of the laundry and sit down and play a roaring game of “Go Fish” with a girl who loves games? It is these simple moments that memories are made, relationships are built, and the joy of living becomes more fully known. This is where my heart and theirs is nourished and restored.

Here’s a little inspiration for investing in your children (thanks to Gospel Centered Families):

  • Show love – Our first responsibility as a parent is to love our children. Be affectionate. Tell them you love them. Always say good night. Take time to simply snuggle together. I remember snuggling with my daddy up until I was married.
  • Take time to talk – Your children won’t talk about deep, personal stuff with you, if you haven’t first talked about a load of trivial stuff. Write letters to each other.
  • Eat together – Meals are beautiful times for talking and bonding. Turn off the TV and enjoy each others company. Make the dinner table gathering a sacred event.
  • Be creative together - Read to them. Build lego castles. Bake cakes. Start a shared hobby.
  • Play with them – Kick a ball in the park. Pretend to be pirates. Board games. Get on your hands and knees.
  • Plan memories – Growing sunflowers. A treasure hunt. Sleeping in a home-made den. A special date out with each child individually enjoying coffee or simply a walk around the park.
  • Telling stories – Create your own stories or share stories from your past. ‘Do you remember when…?’

Ultimately, it doesn’t require a lot of planning…just the ability to stop, get down to their level, and enjoy life from their view! When I stop, my joy and love for them grows. Each day becomes more beautiful.

“We can remind ourselves that we do not need to judge our daily lives by how much we accomplish. There is real value in simply being present, for our children. For when we reclaim the realm of motherhood, we also protect the honor and province of childhood.” - Katrina Kennison, Mitten Strings for God

 

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Why Mothers Need To Pick Their Priorities

Photo Credit
Written by monthly contributing writer, Kat.

Confession: I don’t often floss or recycle.

Ok. Calm down. Don’t throw any tomatoes. Step away from the unsubscribe button.

I realize that for many of you flossing and recycling are sacred.

I also realize that they are both super, really, extra special, very important things to do. Times ten.

However, the fact remains, that I don’t always do them. Brushing works just fine for me.

The List of Important Things Is Endless

As moms, there are a whole lot of of super, really, extra special, very important things we can do. And there are lots of people, magazines, tv shows, dentists and doctors telling us we need to do them. All of them.

Here’s a sample:

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes 3 times a week.
  • Drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day.
  • Always sit ergonomically correct when using the computer.
  • Lift weights regularly to fend off osteoporosis.
  • Don’t let your kids watch more than 30 minutes of TV.
  • Never, ever raise your voice to your children.
  • Don’t let your child see that you’re frustrated with them.
  • Make sure your children eat lots of spinach and broccoli.
  • Share the Gospel regularly.
  • Read your Bible daily.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

All of these things are very important, but it is impossible for us to execute ALL them 100% of the time.

Impossible.

We have to learn to let things go sometimes. We need to know what is important TO US and let go of the things that, while important, are not priorities right now.

One Thing At A Time

Imagine a child walking in to the first day of school and the teacher saying, “Ok. We need to read Chaucer, then do some Calculus, a little Mozart and we’ll wrap up with AstroPhysics.”
Those are all important things. But they are NOT important, in anyone’s estimation, to a first grader.

God does not address all of our faults and shortcomings at the same time. Neither should we. And sometimes progressing in one area means postponing progress in another.

Imagine if a football player shows up to practice and the coach says, “First we’re going to work on our jump shot, then zone defense, free throw shooting and dribbling.” Those are all important skills….for a basketball player, not a football player.

When we don’t know who we are, where we are at, and where we are headed we get distracted by all the “important” things….because they are all around us.

Most mothers deal with comparison. We feel bad because “Mrs. So and So” does such and such…and that’s REALLY important.

But is it really important to YOU? Is it what God wants YOU to be doing right now?

Spend time with God. Listen to His still small voice. Know your purpose. Pick your priorities. Do the next thing.

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Encouragement for Weary Mothers

Republished from the archives…Picture 13

I have been going through a challenging season in my mothering: sparatic insomnia, disciplinary struggles with a toddler, and challenges with getting the kids to sleep together in the same room. I have felt time and time again that I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I believe the Lord takes you through these seasons in order to reveal how much we desperately need Him in order to be faithful mothers to our children. I wanted to share with you today some encouragement that the Lord has used to lift me out of those feelings of failure and hopelessness. Mothering is not an easy task, nor is it a task that I would ever do on my own.

Take time to be alone
This may sound impossible, but I believe it to be essential, and possible if you are purposeful! I have found taking regular intervals of time to have a simple short retreat brings such refreshment to me. In this season of life with nursing, they have to be short, but it is amazing how an hour or two away can renew my spirits. I try to get out once or twice a month for a few hours on a Saturday morning or Sunday while my husband watches the little ones to just be alone and read the Word and write out my thoughts. I go to a coffee shop or sit alongside a river bank and spend time with the Lord. I always take my Bible and notebook with me to write out what struggles I am going through and the Scriptures that encourage and strengthen me. It is a testimony to look back upon and see what God has done. God has been so good to me lately through these times. If your husband is not available, seek out a friend to trade watching each other’s children. Schedule these times away and make it a habit.

Find refreshment in Psalms 23
I have been steeped in meditation on Psalms 23 lately…a passage we are all familiar with, but how often do we really meditate upon? It has brought such strength to my soul during this weary season and can bring encouragement to you whatever you might be going through. Here are the meditations that I wrote down that I wanted to pass on to you. It is re-paraphrasing Psalms 23 in part in my own words:

You are not alone
“The Lord is my Shepherd” - The Lord, God of the universe, Sovereign King, is MY SHEPHERD. Did you catch that? He is MINE! He chose to take on human flesh in order that He might adopt me into His fold.

Your every need is already met
“I have all that I need” – He has already supplied my present and future needs. He has already provided for the grace I need for each passing day in my mothering and wife roles. It has been a difficult season in child training – it feels like a dark valley with no light at the end of the tunnel, but in reality, this is only a passing season for which God has already supplied all my needs to make it through. I lack patience. I lack perseverence. Grant me, oh Lord faith and endurance. You are doing a good work in me. Growing me in Christ-likeness. Childbearing and childraising are God’s means of grace in my life to make me more like my beautiful Savior. It will bring great reward!

Let some things go
“He lets me rest in green pastures, He leads me besides peaceful streams.”
Sometimes God takes us through difficult seasons and calls us to simply rest. For me that means we have been eating very simple and easy meals. We keep the house picked up but no deep cleaning is happening right now.

Focus on the goal
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.” I am laboring to bring eternal souls into the Kingdom! That is my mission as a mother! I am co-laboring alongside my husband to serve the Lord and His church. My God is close beside me! He guides me along right paths. He is my Shepherd and Guide. He is my Source that I might bring honor to His name. He is my Enabler.

Be thankful
“My cup overflows with blessings.” It is not just full, it is overflowing! Do you see that? What are these blessings? Write them out. I am thankful for My God – I wouldn’t be here without Him. My Husband – who lovingly leads our family and cherishes me! My two adorable children. My family – for their support and encouragement. My cup truly is overflowing!

For further encouragement from Psalms 23, I would encourage you to listen to Revive Our Hearts recent series on it here. This series was what lead me to mediate on Psalms 23 and the Lord has used it mightily in my life!

May you dear sisters be strengthened today in your mothering! The Lord is with you!

What can you be thankful for today?

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Aromatherapy for Mama

Photo Credit: Eggybird

Written by monthly contributing writer, Michele Augur.

Essential oils can often provide simple, natural solutions for pregnancy and postpartum concerns.

During pregnancy and postpartum seasons (and beyond!), I’ve loved surrounding myself with soothing scents. Here are several of my favorite basics:

  • Lavender Essential Oil: I’ve kept a bottle by my bed, adding a couple drops to a pillowcase for restful sleep. It’s also lovely in a relaxing massage or warm bath. I dozed through much of my labor, even staying peaceful through transition, as I was soothed by a very fragrant lavender candle.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil: I enjoy adding this to a refreshing foot soak bath, and it’s also useful in addressing fungal/thrush/yeast concerns.
  • Peppermint Essential Oil: This invigorating oil is not recommended during pregnancy, but can be useful during labor (some midwives suggest it for stimulating a slow & tiring labor, soothing nausea, or even helping babies to turn!). It makes a lovely foot rub in a massage oil/lotion for tired mamas’ feet!
  • Lemon Essential Oil: Smelling the bright citrus scent of lemon may help soothe morning sickness nausea (try placing a few drops on a handkerchief), and is delightful when added to a lip balm.
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil: Congested sinuses are often a normal occurrence during pregnancy; add in seasonal allergies or a bout with a cold/flu, and mama can be quite uncomfortable! A eucalyptus oil sinus steam or several drops added to a diffuser/vaporizer can help bring some relief naturally.
  • Rose Geranium Essential Oil: A more affordable option than true rose oil, this “rosy-smelling” oil is not recommended during pregnancy, but can be especially refreshing for postpartum mamas during stressful times of hormonal fluctuations or after an emotionally-trying birth. Try it in the Mama’s Passion Bath Salts!
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil: This oil can be more expensive than the others; to keep it in my budget I just purchased a bar of natural sandalwood-scented soap to use on occasion while showering. This scent was especially emotionally uplifting for me on dreary days.
  • Clary Sage Essential Oil: This relaxing oil is not recommended during pregnancy, but some women find it helpful during labor or the trying-to-conceive season, when added to a massage oil.

Building up a small “remedy kit” of staple oils can be manageable for most budgets: small bottles of quality, basic essential oils are usually affordable (typically under $5 or $10, or so), and last quite awhile.

What are your essentials?

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April at Our Home

Our home has been overflowing with visitors this month. We were blessed to host our first overnight guests for a few nights, and then came church gatherings (we hosted an Easter sunrise breakfast and weekly community group), a baby shower, and a birthday party for my sweet Karis (she is 4 years old!). We had over 130 people come through our doors in one week! I am enjoying a quiet recovery this week from all these exciting events. It has truly been a joy to open our home and use this gift to bless others!

We have been enraptured in the beauty of Spring peeping out in our backyard, bringing flowers indoors, taking nature walks, climbing trees, and exploring as the sun begins to make an occasional warm spring day. I have grown to realize how easily it is to fill our days with such activities that we have no time to stop and treasure the beauty that God has placed around us. I am eager to glean fresh eyes.

Karis & Ty waiting at the window anticipating Daddy's arrival home

We arrived at 26 weeks in my pregnancy this week! Wow! It sure is flying by…but definitely starting to feel it more in my physical body. After that busy hospitality week, I felt like my legs would fall off from all the standing and hosting. You will see me sitting a lot this week just to give my body a rest. Baby is healthy, head down, and growing every day. Now if I could just deny my cravings for sweets!

I would appreciate your prayers as my husband, Aaron and I, prepare to go to the Philippines on May 28th. We will be leaving our kids with extended family and joining the Compassion bloggers team to see the work and ministry of Compassion International in the Philippines. I am praying the Lord would sustain me physically (I’ll be 30 weeks pregnant at this point!) as well as keep our children safe and comforted during our absence. I will be recording our adventures here during the first week of June. So excited!

We also will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary this month! May 21st marks 5 years with my wonderful hubby – who diligently provides and cares for our family! I am a blessed woman!

April Reading

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand – I greatly enjoyed learning a little American history and the enthusiasm that rose around this little horse during the trying years of the Great Depression. Hillenbrand is a excellent writer!

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan – a powerful challenging call to see the magnificence of Christ and to motivate us to display that love to a dying world around us by living intentionally for his glory. This is a wake up call to the Christian church to live radically for Christ as we witness the crazy love that He has given to us.

Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick – Another good read by Elyse on the topic of helping to identity and battle the idols in our lives with the truth of the gospel. Lots of encouragement and practical advice for making sure Christ is first on the throne in our hearts and not this world, beauty, the opinion of other’s, or anything else that might shape our purpose in this life.

May Theme: Pregnancy & Motherhood

With the celebration of Mother’s Day this month, we wanted to focus our May theme on tips, inspiration, and encouragement for natural pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. We hope you will join us as we share encouragement regarding the beauty of birth, inspiration for motherhood, advice for new moms, and more.

May Sponsors

We want to take a moment to highlight and thank our May sponsors!

Your Gardening Friend - check out this fun blog highlighting lots of tips and advice for natural gardening!
Azure Standard: Midwest Route facebook page - If you reside in the Midwest, you don’t want to miss out on learning about Azure Standard and the wonderful natural food co-op that delivers all over many parts of the US and recently expanded into the Midwest. Join the conversation!
Paula’s Breads - Find high quality kitchen gear and resources for your home at Paula’s Breads!

 

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Living in the Moment: A Real Life View

I am here today to take you on a little photo tour of our home in everyday real life. I am here as a simple wife, mother, and homemaker striving to live and treasure each and every moment. I am learning to grasp and seek out the treasured gifts in each day as they fly by my oft absent eye. I long for eyes to see.

And as I open my lens each picture captured is another gift bestowed to me. As I begin this scavenger hunt, my heart leaps within me to discover the joy around me. True joy results from looking beyond the mundane to see the beautiful.

“Wherever you are, be all there. It is only possible in the posture of eucharisteo (thanksgiving). Give thanks and see God. Full attention slows the current. Simplicity is a matter of focus. That keeps the focus simple.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

“The joy of God is the human being fully alive. And the life of the human consists in beholding God.” - Arasmus

Where do I behold God? How can I enter into His very presence in each moment? By seeing Him radiated in everything around me.

“It is up to each of us to set the example, to show by our actions our respect for intimacy, contemplation, and wonder. This is perhaps the greatest legacy we can bestow on our children: the capacity to be enchanted by the quiet gifts of everyday life.” – Katrina Kennison, Mitten Strings for God

And thus my gift list continues….

#357 – Little girl dressing up like a bride

#358 – The sweet helpfulness of 2 year old hands

#359 – Spring sun peeping through the clouds

#360 – Titus singing so beautifully on pitch without words

#361 – Blowing kisses to daddy

#362 – Titus making sure Daddy doesn’t forget to kiss Mommy goodbye

#363 – Little musicians strumming and banging to make music

#364 – For the daily workout of two stories of stairs

#365 – For a pile of dishes in the sink showing our bellies are full

#379 – Sketches across stone walkway

#380 – First blossoms of spring on the trees

“When I stop speeding through life, I find the joy in each days doings, in the life that cannot be bought, but only discovered, created, savored, and lived.” – Katrina Kennison

And thus the journey of savoring every moment continues…cultivating thankfulness, the key to the fullest life.

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