Saturday, January 25, 2014

A note to all the crunchy Christians out there: There is freedom in obedience.

If you are Facebook friends with me, you may have seen my recent posts about trying to find more natural yet effective cleaning products.  It is my most recent mission in trying to reduce my son’s exposure to potential toxins.  It was a topic that came up at my women’s Bible study last week as the ladies and I were sharing our struggle with worrying about and trying to protect our children.  Then our Bible study leader, a mature and wise woman of faith, abruptly interrupted our banter to remind us that while it is nice to share our struggles with other women, it is of grave importance that we remember that when Jesus told us not to worry, it was a command!  The room went silent as conviction hit us all like a divine lightning bolt.  Ever since that moment, God has been working on my heart as I have meditated and sought His counsel on this issue, and I feel that He is calling me to share what He is teaching me with you.  I think you will also find conviction on this issue, as well as freedom as we learn to walk in faith and obedience.

We all know the passage in Matthew 6 when Jesus tells us not to worry.  I’ve even had it taped to my bathroom mirror for the past 3 years.  But if you’re like me, you probably have tended to skip down to verse 34, which says:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” (ESV)

and have applied it to the big issues in your life; who you will marry, whether you will have children, where you will live, what career path you will take, etc.  However, if we go back and read Jesus’ entire teaching on this topic, which starts at verse 25, we will find that he wasn’t talking about these big issues at all. 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air:  they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)

He was talking about the details of life; what we are going to eat, what we are going to drink, what we are going to wear.  I think we have all probably sort of skimmed over this part because we think he’s talking to poor people who don’t have access to food and water and clothes like we do, but surely all the people in Jesus’ audience were not poor.  I think more than ever this passage applies to us today, and I think that many of us are gravely disobeying this command.  Let’s take the passage and put in the issues that cause us anxiety in our day.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat,” whether organic, free-range, grass-fed, or hormone free, whether Paleo, GMO, or no artificial colors, whether raw or whole or high fructose, whether homemade or prepackaged, vegan, vegetarian, or Atkin, locally grown or imported, preserved, hydrogenated or homogenized, microwaved or juiced, iron fortified, supplemented, or gluten free,

“or what you will drink,” whether breast or bottle, fluoridated, pasteurized, or rBT free,

“nor about your body, what you will put on,” whether cloth or disposable, Ergo, Bjorn, or Moby, unbleached, organic, recycled or reused, made in America, post consumer, fabric softened or bleached, cotton, polyester, hemp, or bamboo. 

And while Jesus only speaks of food, drink, and clothing, I think His message was intended to teach us not to worry about ANY of the details.  For me this week, that means not worrying about toxins from cleaning products.  For you other details may hit home; vaccination, antibiotics, shampoo, laundry detergent, homeopathic, phlates, parabens, BPA, germs, mold, allergens, probiotics, screen time, etc.  Am I saying that trying to eat healthier or be more natural are bad things?  No, not at all, when they are done with the right motivations.  Jesus says not to worry about the details.  At the heart of worry is fear—fear of the unknown, fear of what could potentially happen in the future.  Are you making these decisions in faith or in worry and fear?  Do you eat organic because you think it is more nutritious or are you afraid that pesticides will give you cancer?  Do you use cloth diapers because you are trying to be a better steward of the earth or because you are afraid of the chemicals in disposable?  Do you make your own baby food because you are afraid that the jarred stuff has preservatives that are harmful to your child?  Is your child on an alternate vaccination schedule because you are afraid that they will get autism?  Do you use natural cleaning products because you think that conventional ones have toxins that could give you cancer?  You get the idea.

As women of faith, we are called to make decisions based on faith, not fear.  Why?  Because Jesus commanded us to.  Listen to what Jesus said next:  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”  This is so important because we are making all these decisions out of fear of death!  We fear illness and premature death due to exposure to things in our food and in our environment, and God says that we cannot prolong our life (or avoid shortening it) by even an hour by worrying about these things! 

“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  It seems that this culture of fear and skepticism and distrust in the food, manufacturing, and medical industries is pervading our culture at an accelerating rate.  This culture of fear is getting into the hearts and minds of Christian women, but we must remember that we don’t need to be afraid like “the Gentiles” do because we are Children of God--set apart.  God has been going out of his way to protect his children for thousands of years--from Genesis forward!  The same Jesus that you have put your faith in for salvation from your sin saved Noah and his family from the flood, parted the Red Sea to save his children from Pharaoh’s army, made shoes that didn’t wear out for 40 years, rescued Lot and his family from Sodom, brought down the walls of Jericho, fed 5,000, and died on a cross to save you from condemnation.  Do you really think the God who numbers the hairs on your head won’t protect you from pesticides?  Do you really think that the omnipotent God who orchestrated thousands of years of events to enact his redemptive plan for his children can have His plan for your life thwarted or cut short by cancer?  Of course not.  As a child of God, you don’t have to worry about the things that the world worries about because you are not of the world.  You are set apart--under the grace, mercy, and protection of a loving father.

So, women of faith, stop being anxious about the details of your life.  Stop making decisions about the details out of fear.  Stop talking about it, blogging about it, and Facebooking about it.  Stop boasting and posting pictures about it.  Stop Pinning and Tweeting and Sharing about it.  It’s a big deal.  It’s a command.  Let’s walk forward in obedience and find the freedom and peace that God wants for us. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Help and support

It's been a while since I have posted on this blog. It has been a very eventful few months I must say. With being pregnant with twins and raising an almost 3 year old I hardly find time for myself. I went into preterm labor on April 29th, I was 30 weeks pregnant with twins. I dilated all the way to 6 cm and the doctors were able to stop labor, thankfully. I have been in the hospital ever since, which is going on 5 weeks this coming Monday. I posted this blog last week on my personal blog and thought I would share. Maybe some may be able to relate. Hoping to have more interesting posts once I get the ball rolling with raising 3 kids 3 y/o and under! I forgot what it is like to have a newborn and something tells me my babies will not be easy on me :)

Lets talk about support. I have been in the hospital now for 4 weeks straight! In those 4 weeks I have never received more offers of help in my life! Between my military family, most of which I barely know very well, offering to care for my daughter and come to the hospital to keep me company to my parents and Joe's parents dropping everything to come to my house and help clean and maintain it and care for Adrianna (and feed my husband). I am so very lucky to have such a great support system. Some of my friends have even come to the hospital just to chat for a few hours, how nice to have regular girl talk :)

Anyway, as my time being pregnant comes close to ending I have started to think about what life will be like with 3 kids 3 and under....two of which will be newborns. I am never one that likes to ask for help. I actually really hate asking for help unless I really need to, emergency situations and such. I am pretty sure that is why I ended up on hospital bed rest, I didn't ask for help nor did I listen to my body when it would tell me to slow down. I would go food shopping and think "it should be fine to carry all of these bags in myself, it is only a few steps away." You guys, I even carried cases of water 2 weeks before going into preterm labor! That did happen, and I should have never done that. We wont talk about other things I did throughout my pregnancy because, OB has a facebook and I am afraid she will read this ;). Point is, I should have asked for or accepted help when offered. As moms, I feel like we grade ourselves on that kind of shit, "I raised 4 kids and I never needed help and I home-schooled, home birthed and my kids never watch TV and I still nurse my toddler who latched on from the moment they were born." Just because I don't do these things doesn't mean I am less of a mother. I am perfectly perfect for my kids and my husband.  I have learned the hard way that help is nothing to be ashamed of. I am making it a point to accept help once the twinkies (I'm back to calling them twinkies, I am not mad at them anymore for misbehaving lol) arrive. My mom has been with Adrianna for about 4 weeks while I have been in the hospital and my MIL is here for about 1 week to give my mom a break. Once the twinkies are here, my mom will be back for maybe a week or so then it is just Joe and I until June 26th....then my 16 y/o cousin is coming in from out of town to be the relief. She will be helping me with everything, mainly keeping Adrianna company while we are tending to the twinkies and prepping our house for the move to VA in the middle of July. I am so glad to have all of this help. I am sure if we need my MIL or mother at any point they will gladly drop what they are doing and come our way. I don't anticipate needing meals made or anything like my wonderful military community likes to do, but I will not be turning away any form of help. I am done feeling bad for looking "weak" because I can't be supermom and handle it all on my own. This includes my feelings after birth.

With Adrianna, I had more than just the baby blues. I was down right depressed for a period of time. I did a great job faking it, but I had never felt more alone than I did during her first 6 months or so. I would cry throughout the day, had no motivation to do anything (I would force myself to tidy up the house but I never really went anywhere for 3-4 months), I couldn't sleep at night because I thought for sure Adrianna would stop breathing if I wasn't alert and attentive to her. It was miserable. Once she hit about 5-6 months I did some research and found a mommy and me gym class called Little Gym and it was seriously my saving grace! For the first time as a new mom I interacted with other new moms going through the same hardships of raising a newborn, it was fantastic. I will never forget the first time I brought Adrianna to a restaurant for lunch by myself. She was about 6.5 months old and it was after a little gym class, we went to Panera together and I juggled pushing the stroller around people and tables and getting my food/finding a table. It was hard and exhausting but felt so good once I settled in. Since that day, I began taking Adrianna out to run errands with me. They weren't always smooth, she once threw up EVERYWHERE at a Starbucks, pooped all up her back and on a shopping cart at a Target, I mean it was hard! But it felt good when I was able to accomplish what I need to during the day all while juggling a baby. Now, I am faced with twins. Will I have the same feelings again? Am I going to cry all day long, be stuck at home or stay up all night obsessing over their breathing? Chances are, that may happen again. I don't want it to but it probably will. I have had so much anxiety throughout this whole pregnancy. Now during my hospital stay I have the worst thoughts run through my mind...scary morbid thoughts. What if I die during labor, how will Adrianna handle not having me around forever? What if one of the babies die, will Adrianna keep asking for the other baby because she is so used to there being two babies in my belly? Will one be sick? Will one have Downs? Are the nurses sure they are getting two different babies when they check the heartbeats every night? Why do I think this way??? It is so frustrating because I feel out of control when these thoughts enter my mind, I feel like I can't breath or I just cry myself to sleep. It isn't healthy. So I suspect I will be just as anxious when the twinkies are home with me. Difference is, I will NOT be afraid to ask for help. I will tell the pediatrician the truth when she asks me how I am feeling (she would ask me multiple times whenever I brought Adrianna in to see her and I would lie every time). I will be honest with my OB when asked how I am handling things. I will talk to my husband more about these feelings and not try to hide them, there is nothing to be ashamed of. I hope I can resolve these feelings without medication. I hope that once the babies I will be so over the moon happy there will be no room for these crazy irrational thoughts and feelings. I will be paying more attention to caring for myself as well as them though, healthy me equals better mommy for them, all 3 of my babies :)

BTW, eviction date for the twinkies....JUNE 5TH!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Flying Across the Pond...

It must be summer! We are up and traveling again. Two days ago, we landed in the UK for a two week adventure and our first foray into international travel with the little guy.

No matter how many times I fly with the little man, it is different every time! We booked a late afternoon flight into Detroit and connected to Heathrow from there. 

We spent the morning before our flight at the children's museum in Denver letting off steam. This got us all nice and tired. 

When traveling internationally, if your little one is traveling as an infant in arms, you will need to pay taxes on the trip when you arrive at the airport. This took about 30 min. and the cost is around $300 (you can estimate it as roughly 10% of the ticket cost.) I'm not sure why it takes so much time, but arrive early to account for this. The airline will then issue tickets your your infant in arms child.

In Denver we sought refuge in the USO. (Located in Terminal A near the airline clubs.) They are so wonderful there! We all got a bite to eat and settled into their dark room for H to take a nap. He slept for about 45 min while we charged up all our gadgets. 

H played happily on the flight to Detroit. We had lots of food for him, but he loved the collection of snacks from the flight attendants. He played with the peanuts and pretzels and ate the Biscoff cookies. Our only incident came when my husband attempted to remove the cookie remnants from my sons hands, at which point he totally freaked out. Even with all the toys we brought, little peach preferred the window shade, armrest and buttons on the chair to everything we brought. Since we were in the bulkhead, he was able to stand at our feet and play around. 

We arrived in Detroit with a close connection (due to storms moving across the plains) and got off one plane and right on to the next. While everyone else was boarding, we changed the little guy into his PJ's, read a story, said prayer and he was asleep before we started to taxi. Amazingly, he slept for much of the flight. He woke up several times to reposition and we had to get creative a few times to help him get comfortable. We put a blanket down at the floor and let him sleep at our feet for a bit and I even sat on the floor so that he could sleep in one of the seats! 

When they turned on the lights for breakfast, the little guy woke up and enjoyed three of the breakfast muffins. (We had a very nice flight attendant!) We got him dressed before we landed and let him watch some of the kids TV options as we landed. 

Going through customs was a breeze. A customs officer jumped those of us with little ones to the head of the line, saving everyone some headache. Although the little ones slept, they only got about three hours. Immigration was a breeze, although our car seat came out on a different carousel. 

We chose to bring our own car seat to the UK after much Internet searching and a phone conversation with Britax. We have a Britax Marathon. UK law requires you to have a UK car seat. That being said, everyone I talked to assured me that our carseat was a better option then renting one through the car hire. (The UK law does have an exception for US Military, but only of they are using their US car here.) New cars in the UK have LATCH, although it is called something else and not as well marked as in US vehicles. Britax assured me my rental car would be new enough to have this same system, and sure enough we were able to use the LATCH fasteners and secure the seat. Now lets just hope that my husband remembers what side of the road to drive on.

So so far, so good...right? Well here is the bad news: The first night was terrible. We all passed out around 7:30pm and slept without trouble till about midnight, when Little Peach woke up and thought it was time to get up. It took almost two hours to get him back to sleep -
It eventually took turning on all the lights, having a snack and then going back to bed co-sleeping style. The good news is he woke up smiling and ready to take on the day and we are all now fully acclimated! 

I'm sure I'll have more tips and tricks as we make our way around the island. In the meantime, you can follow us on twitter @ejdn or read about our travel at Out of Edwards. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Easy, Awesome, DIY Toys!

These are the easiest, most engaging activity items my kid has. I saw a few at the Children's Museum in Atlanta and was inspired.  You don't even need instructions to entertain your child for hours. Take a bottle and fill it with something - literally anything - secure cap, and give to you kid. I filled some bottles with water and food coloring. Today we had a play date at a friend's house who had used popcorn in one bottle and felt balls in another. Genius.
Activity Tubes at Atlanta Children's Museum 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


My toddler just had a meltdown.  I'm talking sitting on the floor, crying hysterically, inconsolable because we were outside, she wasn't listening, and I made her come inside.  I could feel myself getting frustrated with her so I took a deep breath and picked her up and we went and sat on the couch until she calmed down.  I spoke softly to her while she cried, encouraged her to stop crying, and tell me what was wrong.  She was calm within a few minutes because I was calm.  I'm not saying I'm a perfect parent.  I am far from it, but I do try to improve my parenting skills every day and be a better today than I was yesterday.

The thing is toddlers don't have the language skills or the emotional understanding to express what they are feeling verbally.  Yes, I believe my toddler was mad, but she doesn't have the words to tell me she was mad that she had to come inside.  She also doesn't have the language skills to necessarily understand why we had to come inside.  She was expressing her frustration the only way she knew crying and pitching a fit. 

In moments like these try to put yourself in your toddlers place.  Physically get down on their level.  Sit with them, hold them, talk to them calmly.  Help your toddler learn how to express themselves by letting them know it's okay to tell you when they are mad/sad/frustrated/happy/etc.  Encourage your toddler to stop crying and talk to you as much as they are able at this young age. 

If you need a time out then take a time out.  It's better to remove yourself from the situation or ask a trusted friend or family member to hang out with your child for a few minutes while you calm down than it is to take your frustrations out on your child.  Never discipline your child when you are angry or take your frustrations out on your child.  Remember your child isn't doing anything wrong...they are acting like a toddler, learning self expression.  You have a choice to maintain control and be patient with your child.  You have the ability to maintain control and demonstrate patience.

Parenting is hard.  It's a lot of work.  It takes a lot of patience.  Your child needs and deserves an amazing parent.  That doesn't mean being a perfect parent, but rather it means that you actively work on your parenting skills.  We all need help and advice from time to time. 

Serenity Counseling Online is here to help.  Whether you are looking to strengthen your parenting skills, need someone to talk to about parenting, or have questions on how to work with your particular child don't hesitate to contact us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Toddler Bed

I thought Sweet E was ready for the toddler bed.  Okay, I didn't really, but circumstances have sort of forced us into this transition (we are getting ready to move into a hotel for 2 months before our military move).  We knew she'd be sleeping on a toddler cot at the hotel so we wanted to transition her to the toddler bed now in preparation for that.  

It hasn't been as awful as I thought it would be except for naptimes which to be honest have not been that great in our house recently.  We have a LOT of change going on right now.  We sold our house, traveled to VA to find a house, are having a baby, moving to a hotel.  I know Sweet E knows something is going on, but how do you explain to a 2 year old all of those things?  

So basically Sweet E only will fall asleep at night if someone sits in her room until she falls asleep.  I sort of am okay with this.  I don't want this to be our habit forever, but with everything that is happening I feel like she might just need the extra support right now.  

Naptime she wants to get out of her bed and play.  Yesterday she did not take a nap at all, only woke up once during the night, fell back to sleep relatively quickly (with mommy half asleep in the rocker), and stayed in bed till almost 6:45 this morning.  Mommy needs to get stuff done during naptime plus I NEED that down time during the day and sometimes I just need a nap, too!  

I just ordered her a tot clock so I am hoping that helps get her on a better sleep schedule.  

What's your best tips for transitioning to the toddler bed and helping your toddler stay in bed?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Birthday Party Prep

When Baby Peach turned 10 months i thought it was time to start thinking about his first birthday party! I made a trip to Hobby Lobby for inspiration. (Thanks to major traffic on 25, I missed Stroller Strides and found myself with some extra time. Lemons into Lemonade!)

I won't bore you with the crafty details (you can read those over at Peach Stitches.) I'm pretty excited about planning the party - even though it means my little one won't be so little. In an attempt to put everything I make for the party to use, I'll be using some of the decorations in BP's big boy room.

Here is a photo preview of some of the goods...