Life-Giver {and a KraftyKash Sale!}

life-giving: imparting, or having the ability to impart, life or vitality

God built into all of us as women the ability to give life. When we talk about this in relation to motherhood, thoughts of pregnancy and childbirth come to mind. But the role of a woman as a life-giver goes far beyond those moments of waiting and labor, and most of the time, the life-giving has nothing to do with the physical act of birth at all. In the Five Aspects of Women, Barbara Mouser says:

“All of us are lifegivers. We have a created capacity in our bodies and in our spirits to give life, to nurture, to heal, to comfort, to encourage, to make things alive. Motherhood is important, but it is not the sum total of lifegiving.”

I wrote about the life-giving aspect of women in a series several years ago and all of that still resonates deeply within me, maybe even more so this year as I am focusing on vitality. Not only do I want more life in my days for myself, I want to spread and speak more life to those around me.

Give life. Speak life. That’s the kind of mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend I want to be.

Let’s celebrate the life-giving ability of all women this Mother’s Day.

Life Givers

This gorgeous new leather dictionary cuff from KraftyKash is serving as my reminder that, when filled up with by the Holy Spirit, I can be a giver of life to those around me, especially my family, by the way I speak, act, serve, and love. I can’t believe she was able to find my word, but I also can because God makes things work just like that, doesn’t He?!

Life Giver Close

I love this cuff because it has meaning, but also because the leather and snaps are tough enough to stand up to life as a boy mom and the accents are very feminine! It is also has two snaps to make it adjustable for any wrist size! But the very best part about the work of Kashoan at KraftyKash is the personalization. You can choose just about any word that has great significance to you or the person you are giving it to and she will find it if it is out there!

This would be the PERFECT unique Mother’s Day present! And with that in mind, the vintage dictionary leather cuff, normally $30, is on sale for just $25 PLUS free shipping in the United States when you use the code homewiththeboys at checkout now through April 23, 2014! Go! Order one or two or ten now!

Who has been the biggest life-giver in your life? What word would you order for that person?

 

Thank you to Kashoan at KraftyKash for this beautiful cuff bracelet to review and the sale to share with you! I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

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A Mom’s Guide to Better Sleep

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep. I would lay in my corner room with the pink and blue heart wallpaper in our home on the corner of the block and listen to the wind blow through our huge evergreen tree, cars driving by, people out for a night walk. I wasn’t usually scared, but I was a worrier and that manifested itself mostly at night. I can’t even really remember what I worried about back then, but this difficulty falling asleep carried through to adulthood.

Once I became a mother, I found myself exhausted enough that I was falling asleep fairly soon after my head hit the pillow, but now I wasn’t sleeping very soundly. Mothers hear every little noise in the night, don’t we? And although I don’t worry too much before I fall asleep these days, if I’m awakened in the night, I do have a hard time drifting back to dreamland.

I had a startling revelation when I got my FitBit for Christmas. This device is worn on my wrist all the time and tracks my level of activity throughout the day. It also tracks my level of restlessness during the night. I don’t have a newborn or even a nursing baby anymore, but I was shocked by how restless my sleep was and by how often I wake in the night. No wonder I’m so tired during the day!

Armed with this information, I’ve been on a mission to get better sleep at night and I’m sure some of you are searching for similar relief! Here are some of the most important things that have led to a better night’s sleep for me…

Mom's Guide to Better Sleep

1. Stretch before bed

We carry a lot of tension with us throughout the day – lifting and carrying children, scrubbing, picking up, all kinds of work and the stress that comes with it leave us tense as we wind down our day. I’ve found a little stretching or foam rolling before bed helps my body relax and power down. I started using a foam roller after I started running and it feels like a deep tissue massage for my hamstrings, back, calves, and so on. Like a massage, it can hurt to get the muscles worked on, but afterwards, I find everything much looser. The slow movements of stretching and rolling also have the added benefit of being very calming.

2. Wash your face

I do a terrible job of remembering to do this on a regular basis, but when I do wash my face with warm water before bed, it helps wash off the things that have collected during the day and leave me feeling clean and refreshed as I lay down.

3. Read

There is just something about reading that gets me in the right frame of mind for sleep Well, except when I get all wrapped up in a an awesome fiction book I can’t put down and it is part of series and I stay up reading until 1:00 a.m… {I’m looking at you, Lisa T. Bergren} Most of the time, I try to read one chapter of a good, uplifting book before bed and that is just right.

4. Clear your mind

When I couldn’t fall asleep as a girl, I would often start praying about whatever was worrying me and then drift off in the middle of praying. Doing something to clear your mind will help keep you from staying awake with your thoughts. Praying is perfect when worry, fear, or anxiety keep you up. I’m also a brainstormer, so I’m often up with all sorts of dreams, plans, and goals swirling in my mind. I keep a notebook by the side of my bed to make to-do lists with things I’m afraid I will forget or to jot down ideas that pop into my head, such as writing topics. I also keep my Joy Dare journal in my nightstand to jot down a few gifts from the day to end on a high note!

5. Essential oils

If this hadn’t worked for me, I wouldn’t be sharing it with you right now. We’ve started using essential oils in our home and my friend Brooke recommended spreading a little lavender on my pillow before bed to help me sleep more soundly. And it totally did. I saw a noticeable decrease in the amount of restless and awake time on my Fitbit even the first night. And then I tried the Serenity blend from doTERRA and WHOA. I slept the same amount of time I normally sleep that first night I used Serenity but I slept so well and woke up feeling very rested. While I love lavender for all sorts of things, I love the smell and calming effects of Serenity even more. You may need to experiment to see what essential oil is the most calming for you! To find out more about the oils I use and recommend, visit my essential oils page and please feel free to contact me with any questions!

I still get woken up in the night by this child or that child on occasion, but overall my quality of sleep has improved immensely since implementing these few aspects into my nighttime routine. I kick myself when I leave one out and wind up feeling exhausted the next day…or maybe that was because of that great book again…

What helps you sleep better at night?

 

Disclosure: I am a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and receive commissions and/or bonuses from doTERRA. I am not a medical professional. The statements and suggestions given here have not been evaluated by the FDA. I am simply sharing ideas and suggestions on how to use essential oils in everyday life. I assume no liability for the way you choose to use essential oils. Use your good judgement and act responsibly!
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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 2}

Here is part two of my fascinating interview with Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, releasing next week!

Before you read below, check out my thoughts on this fabulous book and part one of our interview, including more about how Micha discovered the Benedictine way.

foundcoverE: You are the mother to TWO boys now. How has your journey of prayer + motherhood continued or changed with a second child in the house?

Micha: Having a second kid magnified the intensity of motherhood for me: More love. More stress. More anxiety. More insecurity.

I have a friend who says she never really felt like a grown up until she had her second baby. I totally get that. Having one child is hard, but you can still feel capable of giving yourself fully to your child. There’s this moment after your second child is born when both are crying and you have to choose which one you will comfort. And you realize this is a metaphor for life from now on!

I have had to learn that I am not enough for my kids. And I’ve had to learn to trust God with my own inabilities as a mom. I cannot hold both my children at the same time. And the older they get, the more I realize that I cannot always rescue them. I have to trust that God’s grace fills in the gaps.

That sort of growing up has reverberated out into my prayer life. More is demanded of me. Therefore, I have to be more protective of the kind of mom I’m going to be for my kids. The changes have really been pretty simple. I go to bed earlier now. I expect less of myself. I allow myself to get the sleep I need. And then I wake up really early so I can pray. Waking up early to pray is much easier when you’re not up all hours of the night trying to be a super hero.

And when I don’t wake up early and I don’t spend time in prayer, I actually believe that God continues to love me, that God is still here with me, that I’m still being remade, even though I didn’t live up to some spiritual ideal. That’s the biggest change that has happened for me. I learned to extend God’s grace to myself and, through that, to my kids.

 

E: Do you include your husband or children in the Benedictine prayers?

Micha: The Benedictine monks and nuns mostly emphasize the Psalms during their daily prayers. (Modern-day monks usually pray through the entire book of Psalms every two weeks.) They also practice a kind of prayer called Lectio Divina, in which you read through scripture in a slower, less intellectual, more heart-driven way. There are a couple of scenes in the book where I pray using Lectio Divina.

I still practice Lectio Divina. I’ve just begun meeting with a group of friends (other moms) once a month for Lectio. And I still use the Psalms in my prayer life, though I don’t have a specific schedule of Psalms like I did in my story.

I love to emphasize the Psalms with my kids, especially my oldest, who really feels things deeply the way I do. I discovered a beautiful children’s book of Psalms—Psalms for Young Children. It emphasizes the whole gamut of emotions in the Psalms in a tender, gentle way that my kids really get. So we read through them when they’re feeling worried or sad.

But more than how I include my husband or my kids in the way I pray, I think the bigger change St. Benedict’s Rule has made in my life will be through my character, my sense of peace. I’m much more at ease with the “ordinariness” of this season of my life. I’m at peace with how I use my time and how God loves me. And I think my boys and my husband experience that on a daily basis. I’m a different mom than I was three years ago, because the Benedictines helped me learn to believe that God’s is finding me, restoring me, here, right now. That has really changed everything.

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E: In the book, you say, “My life has value because God has touched every mundane moment with the glow of holiness.” How do you remember to find that holiness in the mundane?

Micha: Some days I remember to look for it and some days I don’t. In the book I talk about “paying attention” and I really believe that gratitude is the beginning and ending of that process of noticing God in my ordinary life. On the days when I feel like a failure as a mom, or a friend, or a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to start back in the most basic place: gratitude. Even if I don’t know how to pray, I know how to thank God for my three-year-old’s laugh or for pieces of avocado on my slice of toast. And as soon as begin attributing the good in my life to God, I begin to see the holiness of my life again.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 1}

I would love to have you join me at Thrive Moms today to read more about the questions I’m asking God and myself about motherhood!

*****

I’ve been devouring books lately because there are SO. MANY. GOOD. ONES. coming out this spring and I’ve had the privilege of reading several advance copies. I honestly can’t get enough reading time and when I do, I just want to read and read and read these gems.

One of the first of this spring delivery of words I read was Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I didn’t know of Micha before I stumbled upon her book in the faith section of a review site. It was a total God-thing I found her there because her words spoke straight to me heart.

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Found is a story of purpose and motherhood and chaos and quiet and so much questioning with which I could absolutely relate. What happens to our faith when we’re doing something different than we ever thought was in the plan? How do we approach the feelings of insignificance in our current role? Where do we find the time and space for Him when little ones are always in our hands and at our feet?

This is truly a beautiful book so many will identify with because seldom does life go exactly as we had planned from day one. And the busyness of life threatens are quiet, intimate relationship with our Savior. But Micha offers hope in her journal-like memoir of discovering the time for all things, inspired by the Benedictine way of life and faith.

I had SO many things I wanted to ask Micha after finishing Found and she graciously agreed to an interview. I couldn’t NOT share all the beauty in her answers, so I’m dividing it into two parts. Here is part one…

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

E: What initially led you to research the ways of Benedict?

Micha: I came into motherhood during a season in my life when I felt pretty frantic about my own spirituality. I was trying to be enough for God, trying to make my life count. And being ordinary seemed the furthest thing from what God would want from me. So I was desperately striving to care for my kid AND do the “big” stuff, the hard spiritual work of ministry.

I was in youth ministry then and felt constantly torn, just like most working moms, between my passion for my work and my students and the demand of my child. And I feared that if I left ministry, I was leaving the thing that made my life valuable.

So much of it came down to a skewed perspective of God. I felt like if I could just figure out how to be more organized, how to be on time, how fit more in to my schedule, then I could finally pray enough, be enough, to feel valuable.

I came to Benedictine spirituality through one quote in Kathleen Norris’ book, The Cloister Walk. In her preface, she mentions that the Benedictines have always believed “there is enough time in each day for work and study and rest and play.” As a mom, I thought maybe I’d found the Holy Grail. Maybe there was a way to have enough time in the day to be everything I needed to be!

The story of my book, though, is the reality that “enough time” is not a five-step plan, some secret sauce that nobody else has figured out. It’s a spiritual condition of believing that there is enough time because God is enough, because God is making me enough.

 

E: What is your favorite prayer of the day in the Benedictine tradition? Favorite psalm to pray?

Micha: I talk about this verse in the book, but it’s become natural for me to pray the psalm that Benedictines pray each morning when they wake up. “Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

I love praying that before I open my lips. Before I’m barking orders at my kids to get dressed for school. Before I’m nagging my husband to take care of something for the house, I want to order my heart and my lips into one straight line. Will my mouth declare God’s praise? Will my hands? Will the words I write and the way I change that diaper and the grace I offer my Kindergartener when he refuses to focus on his homework?

What will happen when I open my lips today? Who will I belong to? I want to belong to Jesus. I want to belong to the God who rescues me again and again. I want to recognize God finding me, right now, today. Here.

 

E: What books do you recommend on the topic of prayer and Benedict? {This is for me, too – I’m very interested!}

I mention a lot of books in Found. But my favorite Benedictine author is Esther de Waal. Her books Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict and Living With Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality just clicked with me. Also, The Benedictine Handbook has been important. It includes the Rule of St. Benedict and some reflections from monks on his teachings. It also includes a prayer guide, which I like to go back to from time to time. Also, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine nun) has a beautiful book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, which works more as a devotional tool, taking you through the daily hours of prayer and offering scripture or poems or reflections to meditate on during those specific moments of prayer.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

 

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Surprised by Motherhood

My dear Lisa-Jo wrote a book. Surprised by Motherhood. It is her journey of never wanting to be a mom.  Of losing her own mom. Of South Africa and the Ukraine and the United States. Of becoming a mom. And of being surprised by all things motherhood, especially the wonder of it all.

I was surprised by motherhood, as well, but in a very different way.

I always wanted to be a mother. As a child, I enjoyed holding babies and taking care of the younger kids. My sister and I even fought over who got to hold the newest baby cousin and for how long. I started babysitting at an early age, partially because of the money, but also because it was fun for me. Even in high school, I was voted “would make the best mom” in my senior class. And I loved that.

I worked at a daycare. I taught elementary school for five years. I really thought I had motherhood all figured out and was ready to tackle it head on. When Big J was born, motherhood felt exhausting, but still pretty natural. He got older, we added siblings for him, and then I got my surprise.

“It was like discovering a superpower – becoming a mom for the first time. It has led me to believe that motherhood should come with a superhero cape along with the free diaper bag and samples you get when the hospital sends you, otherwise defenseless, home.”

Motherhood is hard. Way harder than I ever imagined. And I don’t think it is all the kids’ fault. I know it’s not. I think I was surprised so much by motherhood because it made me confront just how selfish I am and how much I’ve always wanted to be in control. Yep, motherhood will mess with all those things in a big way.

“I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids. I didn’t know I was angry and quick to keep a list of wrongs done to me, of slight slights, of everything I felt entitled to and was happy to demand.”

But motherhood is also hard because I love these sons of mine more than I knew was possible. I want so much for them. I feel like I should never stop praying for them. All the emotions I feel towards my children and magnified because of the great love I feel for them. My boys can be the cause for great joy, great sorrow, great frustration…all in the same day. Lisa-Jo says, “Sometimes you don’t realize you have a temper until you have kids.” And, “Nothing can hurt as much as the fears we carry for our children.” This could not be more true.

Boys Looking Up Blog

If I’m being real honest here, I have always been terrible at follow-through, especially with long-term tasks. Motherhood is definitely long-term and NOT following through is not an option for me, so I am being stretched and grown in unimaginable ways. Some days the stretching hurts, but when I pause long enough to see God at work, I feel and see so much more clearly…

“With this boy wrapped in my arms, this flesh and blood and bone that I had grown in my womb, clinging to me, I understood what the God parent feels for me. To die for this love – yes, it made sense.”

These days I’m being surprised by finding new ways to enjoy motherhood. Much of this comes from knowing that no mom thinks her job is easy. There is great relief in that knowledge.

It also comes from learning more about the amazing boys God has given us and the ways He in which He has connected us. I feel like a student all over again. And I’m making my strengths work for me – being silly and dancing more, communicating more effectively with the boys, finding ways to be positive during the rough days.

Surprised by Motherhood

If you were sitting near me when I started reading this beautiful, transparent memoir of motherhood, you would have been passing me Kleenex after Kleenex as I related so closely with Lisa-Jo’s words, despite our very different stories.

And I’m needing a Kleenex now as I write this and realize just how I needed to hear her real, nitty-gritty, wonder-filled motherhood story. How every mom needs to read the ups and downs of someone else’s motherhood story to realize just how brave and not alone they are. Lisa-Jo gets it. She gets me. She gets us, moms.

Congrats, Lisa-Jo. Your newest baby is just gorgeous.

Surprised by Motherhood is available TODAY! Yes, TODAY! Order now!

 

*I received a copy of this book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

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Mighty {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Mighty.

Stick around for why this week is so important!

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And go…

I’m coming up on eight years of being a mom and I’m still not sure of myself. The moment I think I’ve figured out what works for our family, our boys, things change – ages, stages, moods, circumstances. I’m a little lost and trying to find my place.

Mighty Men

But I do know one thing about these boys of ours: I want to raise them to be mighty men of God. I want them to recognize the strength and power that comes from the Holy Spirit when they are living in relationship with Jesus. To use that might for the Kingdom. To be mighty for God and to love mightily. To use their passion and strong will for justice and mercy in His name.

I know no other way to do this than to be a mighty warrior in prayer for them. I’m not a guy. I don’t know how to be a godly man. But I know how to pray and prayer is a mighty weapon. None of us will be mighty on our own, but in His hands, there is strength this world can’t come close to touching.

Mighty

I need to wear out the knees of my jeans in prayer the way my boys do playing hard. A mighty prayer warrior to raise mighty men of God. Only by His grace, I’m finding this is my place.

Stop.

*****

Do you ever feel lost and completely un-mighty in your role as a mother? You’re not alone. And even though our paths to motherhood are very different, I’ve never felt so understood as a mom as I did reading Lisa-Jo’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood. Mamas, this book is for all of you and it will rock your world. Go. Pre-order it now. For you, your mom, your sister, your bible study – all the mothers you know. I have more to share on this next week, but know that I laughed and cried and finished it in 48 hours.

And go read more fabulous posts on the topic of mighty at Lisa-Jo’s place today!

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Water Walker + Forgiveness

I had never really struggled with forgiveness issues in my life. And I never knew how much I would need to practice forgiveness in my role as a mother.

Only a daily basis, there are times I feel hurt, offended, wronged by my children. These offenses are often unintentional. Many times, they are are product of the natural immaturity of children. And sometimes they say or do hurtful things on purpose. If I’m honest with myself, I do these same things. That sinful nature in all of us…

Amidst this role as mother, I have found myself parenting with the wrongs at the forefront of my mind. Well, you can imagine how great a mother I am when holding on to frustration, sadness, anger in regards to being hurt by their harsh words, disobedience, disrespect.

I don’t think what I’m describing is much different than what most parents experience. Children act from impulses. They hurt others both intentionally and without knowing it. All of us do this, but hopefully we learn over time to treat others with respect and kindness.

When we’re hurt by someone we deeply love, it aches even more. That’s why our children can cause such strong emotions in us. We love them so much and can’t imagine they could ever do anything to upset, hurt, emotionally damage us. But it happens, probably to all parents at one time or another. And even a small act of disrespect from our own child can feel like a big slap in the face.

Here’s where forgiveness comes in to play. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said we’d have to forgive some people a whole lot…

Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive. ~Luke 17:4

And with kids, they might not even know they need to ask forgiveness. But the forgiveness needs to come, more for my sake than theirs. It’s a way of releasing the hurt into the hands of the One who can carry it without any bitterness, only with grace and mercy.

My mind is all wrapped around this forgiveness thing because of Ted Dekker’s newest book, Water Walker.

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I’m not sure I had ever read a Ted Dekker book before and suspense is not my normal choice for reading material, but the spiritual message and theme of forgiveness really drew me in.

Letting go is something you do, not just talk about. Talking about forgiving changes nothing. Doing it changes everything, not just in you, but somehow in those around you. We are not healed alone. Don’t ask me to explain. ~Ted Dekker, Water Walker

The main character of Water Walker, Alice, faces unimaginable trials and offenses from those who claim to love her. Honestly, her suffering was quite difficult for me to read. But that makes her walk towards Jesus and forgiveness even more amazing. A miracle.

I was really moved by the way Dekker used the imagery of stepping out of the boat onto the stormy water to illustrate forgiveness. Our eyes must always stay fixed on Jesus, not the waves and storm around us. And this is a huge act of faith, this forgiving and releasing the feelings we hold against someone. Truly forgiving is what makes us water walkers.

Since finishing Water Walker, I find myself recognizing the negative ways in which unforgiveness eats away at me. I am experiencing the freedom that comes in telling my child I forgive them for something they didn’t even know hurt me. And I forgive in my head, my heart, sometimes seventy times seven times a day because I know this is what Jesus would do.

I’m a better mom because of forgiveness. And I hope my kids learn to do the same forgiving for me.

What has been your experience with forgiveness and motherhood? Are you, like me, easily hurt by things your children do or say to you?

 

If you’re interested in reading Water Walker, you can get the first episode of the book for free here!

I received this book to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

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10 Days for M’Dai: Restoring the Joy of Motherhood

Big J will be eight next month and I still remember the day he was born like it was yesterday.

Big J birth_opt

I had gone in the day before for my regular OB appointment where they determined my blood pressure was higher than they would like. A phone call was made to the hospital to let them know we would e coming over for an induction. This was the day before he was due anyway, so we felt as prepared as first-time parents could be and gathered up our hospital bags to go meet our firstborn son.

I was placed on one form of drug to induce in the early evening and another later in the night while also being hooked up to monitoring devices. Other than feeling somewhat crampy and nauseous most of the night, no contractions ever really kicked in, and by the time the doctor came to check on us for the second time the next day, it was decided he would break my water to get things moving.

Now, we had planned on as natural a birth as possible, but I wasn’t prepared for going from no contractions to strong, piggy bank contractions and within in an hour I was begging for an epidural. Well, Big J wasn’t going to allow for that to happen because, as I shifted position in the hospital bed in an attempt to get more comfortable, his heart rate suddenly dropped. We tried to move me back to where I had been to help him out, but within a few minutes I was being raced down the hallway to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Big J was out of me and in the care of great doctors with his daddy’s watchful eye in no time at all. And, although he was a little blue when he first came out, he was otherwise perfectly healthy. We all sighed with relief and went about our lives as new parents.

I shudder to think of what could have been with Big J had we not been under the care of such skilled doctors and nurses. While any number of factors could have resulted in his low heart rate, had I not been hooked up to a monitor we may not have know he was in distress. Had we not been at a hospital with a doctor who could perform an emergency c-section at a moment’s notice…I don’t even want to think about it.

But I AM thinking about, this week in particular, as I’m learning the stories of mothers around the world losing babies or even their own lives during childbirth because they lack adequate obstetric care and the basic knowledge and needs that should accompany motherhood.

In Cambodia, 1.7 million people lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. While this may seem like a long time ago, the effects of this genocide are still staggering. The closest to my heart are the mothers. They are women who grew up with no older women to teach them the ways of a healthy pregnancy. They are women who had no health professionals to monitor their bodies and babies because the Khmer Rouge killed all the doctors and educated people they could find. No role models existed to teach them about nutrition and personal hygiene.

The cycle has continued since then, and this cycle has resulted in a fear of childbirth and motherhood among the women of Cambodia, especially in the remote villages where no aid has been provided, no relief offered, no cycle broken. A pregnant woman in the Kratie province of Cambodia is 10 times more likely to die in childbirth than in the United States. Babies in their first month of life have the highest mortality rate in the country. One out of every 12 children doesn’t even make it to the fifth birthday.

The likelihood Big J would have survived birth in these conditions is very small. Like I said, I can’t even think about that.

But we need to think about it and we can think about this because there is hope, provided in the form of help from Samaritan’s Purse and 10 Days for M’Dai.

1406CB Maternal Child Health Cambodia

M’dai is mother is the Khmer language

Samaritan’s Purse started a Maternal and Child Health program in Cambodia’s remote Kratie province in 2013. The goal is to reduce the mortality of mothers and their young children by improving obstetric care, teaching essential nutrition practices, and increasing access to quality healthcare.

1406CB Maternal Child Health Cambodia

In the first year of the program, 5,745 people in 20 villages were reached, 255 health volunteers were trained, and 40 local pastors were equipped to reach out to their communities.

1406CB Maternal Child Health Cambodia

Women are being taught the importance of holding their babies. Nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations are training women to properly nourish themselves and their families. Churches are coming alongside these women to offer support and the hope of our Savior.

For these 10 Days for M’Dai – March 16-25 – you can be a part of restoring the joy of motherhood to the women of the Kratie province of Cambodia by praying and giving in the following ways:

  • $12 provides a healthy cooking demonstration for a village.
  • $64 equips a local church leader to reach out to a community with practical help and spiritual counseling.
  • $76 trains and equips a volunteer to perform maternal and child health promotional activities.

Moms, we know the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children…and we do it all in safe, healthy conditions. Let’s take the fear out of motherhood for the women of Kratie and join hands to restore the joy.

He gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:11

 

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Resting Before We Need It

I’m training for a half marathon right now. It’s my fourth in two years, so this isn’t new to me, but following a strict, 12-week training program is. On my schedule each week are at least four days of running, one more day of easy running, cross training, or some “fun” exercise, and two days of rest.

Rest.

It’s kind of weird to see that word written so concretely on a plan for becoming a better runner. It doesn’t say “rest – if you want to” or “rest – if you feel tired” or “rest – optional.” It says “rest” and offers no other option.

I know Jesus tells us to come to Him when we are weary, but what about coming to Him for that rest He offers…BEFORE we need it?

Resting Before We Need It

Join me over at Thrive Moms today to read about resting before we need it in my first post as part of their blogging team! You will LOVE the heart and encouragement happening at Thrive Moms! I am so honored to be writing with those lovely ladies!

 

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Growing Vegetables + Children

This is where I usually tell you that today is another Five Minute Friday, where Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and invites us to write for FIVE MINUTES ONLY, no editing, no rethinking, no shame.

But this isn’t just any Five-Minute Friday. Yes, it IS Friday. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but the kind of love we’re sharing here today goes beyond a one day holiday. You’ll see…

Today’s prompt: Garden.

*****

And go…

The gardening analogies were lost on me until we bought a house with landscaping that needed to be kept up. I had always said I had a black thumb but that wasn’t really the issue – the issue was my own lack of persistence, patience, diligence.

Garden Kids

There is no garden quite like motherhood, where I am toiling to produce the fruit of Christ in my children and He is working to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me. There is daily planting, daily digging, daily weed-pulling, and if I don’t remember His call to not grow weary in doing good, it might all just be too much.

My mama soul has been turned over and over again just like the dirt. Every part of me feels the joy and pain, the lift and weight of the toil of parenting, and I live in a place where everything I could ever need is in reach for me without physical labor.

God is working on my heart, pulling up the weeds of selfishness, bringing forth new growth of love and service, showing me beauty and joy in swept floors and folded laundry.

Garden LisaJo

The work of beautiful women around the world, literally planting and harvesting to nourish their families, body and soul, is finding root in my heart, giving me a vision for true service to my family.

Garden Women

They grow vegetables AND children, even children who aren’t their own, loving them as if they were. And while I haven’t latched on to the whole vegetable garden in my own backyard, I am a mother who is growing children and, as Lisa-Jo says, “There is nothing ordinary about being a mom.”

Stop.

*****

Today a bunch of not-so-ordinary moms are linking arms and running forward in love to show the world LOVE is a VERB. It goes out and does crazy stuff like build a center for a community in South Africa in need of a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids. THAT is love and we can show it today.

It all starts today with a garden. A vegetable garden. And that’s just Phase One.

You can donate through the project on Pure Charity. And you can also purchase a gorgeous necklace through one of my favorites, KraftyKash, from her “Fall in Love With the World Next Door” line and $12 from each sale will help fund the Maubane Community Center in South Africa.

I’m just giddy and teary and overwhelmed by so many coming together to love on these kids, this community. Love IS a verb. Let’s do this.

 

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