Monday, December 9, 2013

Grief and Sorrow for the Christian

A little over a year ago I heard a sermon on James 5: 7-12.
Some very hard things in life had just happened, and within a couple weeks of that this sermon was preached. God's sovereignty and perfect timing in meeting my needs was awesome!

James 5: 7 - 12
"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation."

Here is a short section of that sermon that really spoke to me...

The promise of redemption began and redemption is simply that part of the story that says in the person of Christ God's going to clean up our mess. We made the mess, God didn't, but God is coming to clean it up in the person of Jesus. God came in the person of Jesus to clean up the mess that we made which is why we can say the miracles of Jesus were not the suspension of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. They were a reminder of what once was prior to the fall and a preview of what will eventually be a universal reality once again, a world of peace and justice without death, and without disease, and without conflict, and that means, Christians, that to grieve as a Christian, listen, to grieve as a Christian is a down deep emotional statement of faith that one day things won't be this way. That's what grief is, grief is a down deep emotional acknowledgement that things weren't always this way. There's a sense of remembrance in our grief, whether we're conscious of it or not. Grief is an emotional response to the realization that things aren't right. When Christians grieve it's a down deep emotional statement of faith that one day things won't be this way. It's a down deep emotional statement of faith that our King is coming back and when he does he will fully and finally put this broken world back together again.

There is great comfort in this truth. God created a perfect world. Mankind messed it up and brought a curse upon it. But God is going to fix it. He sent Christ Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin, and through Christ's sacrifice will one day restore all to perfection once again.

The trials, sorrow, pain, suffering and grief of this life are only temporary. And our grief is good, in that we feel sad/sorrow/pain etc. because we know this is not the way it's supposed to be. And we have hope that someday soon all will be right again through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I hope you find hope and comfort in this as much as I did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Esther's First Thanksgiving

We had the opportunity to travel to Idaho and spend a few days there during the week of Thanksgiving. Esther is an awesome traveler, as she just slept the entire way.

We got to see my good friend and her family. Her son Pierson is only a day older than Esther.
We had a great time!

Later in the week we got to meet all the relatives.
We had a good visit with my Grandma.
Meeting Great Grandma
 And with Matthew's Grandparents.
Meeting Great Grandparents
We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family on Wednesday.

Spending time with the Aunts!

 Preparing Thanksgving Dinner

Dad carving the turkey

Grandpa and Grandma Dickey

Playing with Grandpa

Traditional thanksgiving board games

Spent Thanksgiving Day with Matthew's family, and got to eat another delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
Meeting Uncle Isaac

Nana's turn

Esther enjoyed her uncle Jacob so much!

Meeting Great, Great Grammie
 5 Generations here, from 4 months to 96 years!!

Meeting Great Grandma
 More game playing traditions

We had a great time in Idaho with everybody! Our time there was too short, as always!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

What do you mean by "Thankful'?

In the past I have participated in the trending thing of posting something each day on Facebook that you are thankful for. This year I didn't... partly because it's what everyone does, and in some ways it seems like a tradition that has lost meaning. (Doesn't mean I think all who post what they are thankful for don't mean it, though).

However, this month especially it seems I have had many things to be thankful for, or they have just come to mind more than normal. Some of these were simple everyday things I am prone to take for granted. Others were a "big deal" (to me) that happened, or didn't happen. These things include:

Very thankful for coffee!

Glad I have a sewing machine, so I can do something that I enjoy.

Thankful for good health, and immune system.

Blessed to have a washing machine and clothesline/dryer that makes my choice to do cloth diapering soo much easier. (once upon a time, cloth was the only option, with no washing machines).

Thankful for my husband (there is so much I could say about this).

Thankful for my daughter, and the special reminder, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, that it has been one year (on thanksgiving) that I found out I was pregnant.

Soo, very, very Thankful for forgiveness and grace!

Happy to have a church family, that is just that, Family! And all the blessings that entails.

Very thankful for God's protection over my family, bringing my husband home safely each day from work.

Thankful for answered prayer! There's no describing the "feeling" and blessing that goes with asking a powerful God for what you need and seeing specific, timely answers to exactly what you prayed for!

I could go on, but that gives you an idea of the types of things I'm thinking of lately. Thankful for the big and small things.

But something I've been meditating on lately is, what does one mean when they say "I'm thankful for...."?
What do you mean by "Thankful"?
Does this season of thanksgiving, and the daily Facebook posts, and all that goes with it simply the things to do because "'tis the season"? Or does it go beyond that?
Is "being thankful" simply an attitude of gratitude, that you are glad for what you have?
The big question is Who are you thankful to?
We tell one another "thanks" for gifts and acts of kindness and such, therefore being thankful to somebody.
So, this season of thanksgiving, when we traditionally express all the things we are thankful for, such as, family, health, home, life, possessions, etc. Who, if anyone, is receiving our thanks?
Where do these blessings come from? Have you considered the source of your family, health, home, life, possessions, etc?

James 1:16-18 says,
"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should become a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (ESV) 


"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him. And His is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17 ESV).

"Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 106:1

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Crossfit while Pregnant?: May not be for everyone but worked for me

If you know me on Facebook, you'll occasionally see posts about me doing Crossfit.
You'll also know I did Crossfit throughout my pregnancy with Esther.

Lately there has been debates going around on the internet about women who lift or workout, and/or do Crossfit while pregnant. Some say it's terrible and unsafe, others say it's wonderful and a great idea! I personally think both can be true.

Crossfit can be one extreme or the other. I personally really enjoy it, think it's fun and challenging! Most of my workouts while pregnant were not very intense and I've always only done what I knew I could. I do push myself, but not in an irresponsible way. I take as many breaks and rests as needed, drink water and hydrate during as much as is needed also. I do believe Crossfit can be very dangerous for those who are irresponsible with it and either don't know their limits or push them too far. But that is true of any workout routine or sport. I enjoy staying active in many different ways. I've just in the past year learned more about Crossfit and my reason for doing it is because I like it and it's fun! I never lift as much weight as is prescribed because I know I can't and usually finish last because I go at my own pace.

I've been thinking about sharing Esther's birth story here on my blog for the past few weeks. I am amazed by all the details and circumstances that were apart of it. How God gave us a beautiful, healthy girl and showed me He did it according to His plan, not mine and it worked out so much better than my plan would have. Usually is the case, isn't it?!
But I haven't yet, partly because I haven't made time, and partly because just because I think it's the coolest thing ever, doesn't mean anybody else cares about all the details.

Well, I've decided I'd share my story and combine it with how doing Crossfit while pregnant worked for me. Just add my two cents, or rather, just my experience and how it worked for me to the debate.

**This is a pretty long, and lengthy post, sorry!!**

About a month before getting pregnant, I had just completed a Tough Mudder event. I wasn't doing Crossfit yet, but I'd been training in a regular gym, and doing some trail hiking/running. I was healthy and in shape.

Around the 1st of November is when I got pregnant. I continued my normal workout routine. The only pregnancy symptom I experienced was extreme fatigue. So, through December I skipped a few workouts due to lack of energy. End of December our local gym closed. So we, and some friends of ours collected some equipment and put up our own gym in our friend's garage/shop. It had very minimal equipment, which was kind of ideal, since a few of us were leaning toward making it a Crossfit gym. End of December is also when some new friends came to spend 5 months as an intern pastor for our church. They had been doing Crossfit for awhile already, and taught us all a lot about it.

That winter was extremely cold. Sub 0 temperatures were the norm for about a month. So, they gym was typically about 15 - 20 degrees F. inside until more work was done to get it better insulated. I, being one who hates the cold, skipped a lot of workouts due to the cold, and still being extremely tired.

I'd say it was about January that I started working out again, and began doing Crossfit. The same friend who helped with teaching us more about Crossfit told me about a website called Crossfit Mom. Which had Workout Of the Day (WOD) posted each day, created specifically for pregnant women.

For several months I did these WODs from that website. Toward the end of my pregnancy I had learned how to scale workouts to what I could do, being 7-9 months pregnant, and knew how much I could safely lift and do.
I continued to do Crossfit up until 40 weeks. The last week of pregnancy, (as Esther was born at exactly 41 weeks) I just walked A LOT. About a couple miles a day, sometimes twice a day.

I had no issues with working out. I had a very easy pregnancy. The worst I ever felt was the extreme fatigue for about 4 - 6 weeks of the first trimester. I always had energy, never was sick, didn't have back or hip pain, no swelling, and was perfectly healthy the entire 41 weeks. I can't yet relate to many of the discomforts and complaints most women have about being pregnant because I didn't experience any of them.

My diet was pretty clean, yes, I indulged in bad, sugary junk food on occasion. It was far from perfect. I simply aimed to eat calories that counted and to get at least 80 - 100 grams of protein each day. Some days I did really well with that, others not so much.  I gained a total of 40 pounds. Which I was happy with since my goal was 35-40.

My husband and I committed ourselves to having a natural birth. We would have preferred a birthing center or home birth but sadly, our only birth option was hospital, a hour drive away. (Yes, we live in a very rural, remote little town). We knew it could be done, we would just have to work a little harder. We choose The Bradley Method for natural childbirth. Attended birth classes and gave the Doctors and hospital staff our birth plan. There were 2 OB Doctors at the hospital, our primary Doctor and a Certified Nurse Midwife. We felt more comfortable with the Midwife and were praying she would be on call when it was time to have the baby. Both agreed to most of our birth plan, but there was going to be things we would most likely have to compromise on, unfortunately. This was something I committed to prayer on a regular basis, that we would be able to have the natural birth we desired.
3 days before giving birth

40 weeks 6 days
Late Wednesday evening I'd noticed slight leaking of fluids, wasn't sure what it was, but finally just assumed instead of my water breaking, it was just slowly leaking. I went to bed, really hoping labor would start that night. Very early morning I had a few brief, mild contractions. I got up around 7am Thursday morning, ate, went for a long walk, relaxed. Contractions were still very mild, but were consistently about 10-15 minutes apart. I had a regular prenatal check up scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so since I was pretty sure I'd be in active labor later on, and had to be on the road in a few hours I decided to go back to bed for an hour or two.
Arrived at the Dr. office for appointment. Still having contractions, but they were still about the same as in the morning. Once I finally saw the Midwife, they confirmed that I had been leaking fluid and because of that I should be sent up to the OB department and put on pitocin right away to get labor going because there was a risk or infection. I knew better than this, and that there was very minimal to no risk of infection. So we asked if we could leave hospital, get some lunch, and come back later when labor was more active. Primary Doctor was on vacation, so there was a traveling substitute Doctor on call. The Midwife was headed out of town to pick up her daughter in Salt Lake that evening, so the only Doctor available for the weekend was the Traveling Doctor. At first this bothered me a lot. I didn't know this guy, and he didn't know me. I was so disappointed that the Midwife would not be available for our birth. This had been what I was hoping and praying for. Since the new Dr would be the on call Doctor for the evening they let him decide if we could leave and come back later.
He came in with a copy of my birth plan, looked it over and saw we wanted a natural birth and did not want pitocin at all. So he said us coming back later would be fine, but warned, again, about the risk of infection if we waited too long. I was really happy he looked at our birth plan and agreed to it.

We left, it was about 3:30 by now. Got some lunch. And decided to walk to get labor going. We walked through Walmart for maybe an hour, contractions were about 5 minutes apart or so. We finally decided around 5pm to get a hotel room. We walked the halls and stairs for awhile. My husband was able to take about an hour nap, we both got a shower, and just waited for labor to get more active. Finally by 11pm we were ready to head back to the hospital. Contractions were strong and intense by then.
I was a little discouraged to hear I was only dialated to 3-4 cm at that point. But continued to work through each contraction. Labor was hard, but not painful. Just took a lot of concentration and hard work.
Another really cool thing about the Doctor on call was he didn't force anything on us. When we were checked in at hospital they said he suggested antibiotic via IV just in case of infection. We declined it and all were okay with that. They simply gave me a heplock and no continuous IV fluid. They monitored Baby intermittently also, ask we requested.

At 3am Friday morning, I was finally ready to push! I was so excited because the end was near... or so I thought. I pushed for 2 hours with hardly any progress. Could not see Baby's head yet and nurse said Baby seemed stuck. We already knew Baby was in the posterior position, being face up, giving me hard back labor. I'm still not sure how, or why she was stuck, could have been her position.
Doctor came in and said I could keep pushing, because baby's heart rate was strong and I was doing well so all was good and OK. Or, he could help out with a vacuum assist. I choose to keep pushing. We both were discouraged at this point. I was feeling like I couldn't keep pushing much longer. Between helping with contractions and pushes Matthew prayed a lot. I gave a few very hard pushes and we could finally see baby's head of hair!! That was the boost we both needed and was a direct answer to prayer. However, baby didn't move much more after that. At 4 hours of pushing, the Doctor finally said he would have to use vacuum. I was disappointed I couldn't get her out on my own but knew it probably had to be done.
I ended up loving my Doctor. As he was getting everything set up to use the vacuum he told me to not listen to him, but to listen to my husband who was coaching me. I pushed several more times with the assistance of the vacuum as well as an episiotomy and some tearing. Finally my baby girl was born. She was perfect. And other than needing stitches, I was doing great as well! They of course offered pitocin to help stop the bleeding and help the uterus contract. Which I of course declined and they were fine with. I was just fine and didn't have excessive bleeding.
It was amazing how all the details worked out that the Doctor and nurses followed our birth plan and did exactly as we asked! Even though the vacuum wasn't part of our plan, there were not negative effects from it!

I was disappointed with the need for stitches. And everything I'd heard and read was that it takes a long time to heal and recover from it. But we all were healthy.

Unfortunately, we had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours as they were waiting on test results on Esther because they were still concerned about infection. Of course, she was just fine.

I never had any medication or drugs and neither did my baby. I took a little bit of Ibprofin for the pain from the stitches but that was all.

I really think doing Crossfit and staying active and healthy throughout my pregnancy was what gave me the strength, endurance, and stamina to go through labor naturally. Pushing for 4 hours was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I could not have done it if I was unprepared for childbirth.
My recovery was exceptionally quick. At 2 weeks I felt completely back to normal, I no longer had any pain, discomfort or issues from the stitches and really wanted to be back working out again. I decided to wait until my 3 week postpartum Dr. visit. When I did, he said all was good and healed and I was perfectly fine! I was seriously expecting a typical 4-6 week recovery time, if not much longer due to how severe the tear was and how many stitches I had.

Now, at 8 weeks postpartum I've been back doing Crossfit for 5 weeks, and slowly working up to being able to do more, but still going slow and only doing what my body can handle. I've also lost all but 10 pounds of the pregnancy weight and feel great!
8 Weeks Postpartum

Crossfit during pregnancy worked great for me! I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I had a very positive experience with it. It's all about being responsible and knowing what your limits are.
I had an easy, healthy pregnancy and a natural birth. Not sure if Crossfit made a difference or not, but there definitely wasn't any harm done in doing it.

I'm not saying you should do Crossfit if you're pregnant, or even if you're not. But I do think staying healthy and active during pregnancy has lots and lots of benefits. Doesn't have to be Crossfit, but do something!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nursery Complete

 Now that we know the nursery is for our little Girl I've added the finishing touches.

I'm using the baby girl quilt and had enough scraps to make a crib bumper, a mobile, some wall decor, and a crib skirt.
Thankfully, I was able to find a bit more fabric from this collection on the clearance rack at JoAnn's since I'm pretty sure this line of fabric was discontinued. I bought it all quite awhile ago.
I had enough to complete the crib bedding and accents!
 Here is up close of the mobile, made from fabric yoyos, ribbon, and an embroidery hoop. 
And a shot of the inside of bumper. I made it scrappy on the inside, partly by choice, and mostly out of necessity, as all I had were smaller pieces leftover from quilt.
The embroidered "Baby" sign was a gift from my sister.
 I found some sweet cream, green, and pink colored paisley fabric for the curtains.
 Here is the embroidery hoop wall decor with leftover fabric scraps.
 And I also was able to make a crib skirt as well. Though I didn't get a great photo of it.
I'm loving my neutral nursery turned girly!!
Will still be awhile before Esther spends much time in her little nursery, as she's still sleeping in a cradle in our room. But I'm glad it's all done, and it's nice to have a place to store all her cute outfits and girly accessories!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Month!

Esther is now a month old.
That went by so fast!!  

She is a very active girl. Wiggles, scoots, and squirms constantly!
Eats on demand. 
Sleeps a little less than in the first couple weeks.
Doesn't enjoy "bedtime"
Is only up once at night, which is a real blessing for Mama.
She's still pretty tiny, but growing fast. 
She has out grown some of her smallest outfits, but a lot of her small clothes are still a little big.
She hasn't quite figured out what to do with her toys, but she enjoys looking at bight, shiny things.
And she loves car rides. Which is a huge blessing since living where we are, it's at least an hour drive almost anywhere we go!

Esther with Nana.

Esther with Uncle Benny!

Can roll onto her side... and almost to her tummy.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Strength

As a new mom and learning to adjust to my life changing overnight (literally) I found this morning's reading especially encouraging. I'm prone to grow weary as I begin this new journey of motherhood, but take comfort in knowing Christ is my strength.

"Unchangeable Jehovah
When I am discouraged in my ministry and full of doubts of my self,
fasten me upon the rock of They eternal election,
then my hands will not hang down,
and I shall have hope for myself and others.
Thou dost know Thy people by name, 
and wilt at the appointed season lead them out of a natural to a gracious state by Thy effectual calling.
This is the ground of my salvation,
the object of my desire,
the motive of my ministry.
Keep me from high thoughts of myself or my work,
for I am nothing but sin and weakness;
in me no good dwells, 
and my best works are but sin.
Humble me to the dust before Thee.
Root and tear out the poisonous weed of self-righteousness,
and show me my utter nothingness;
Keep me sensible of my sinnership;
Sink me deeper into penitence and self-abhorrence;
Break the Dagon of pride in pieces before the ark or Thy presence;
Demolish the Babel of self-opinion,
and scatter it to the wind;
Level to the ground my Jericho walls of a rebel heart;
Then grace, grace, will be my experience and cry.
I am a poor, feeble creature when faith is not in exercise,
like an eagle with pinioned wings;
Grant me to rest on Thy power and faithfulness,
and to know that there are two things worth living for:
to further Thy cause in the world, and
to do good to the souls and bodies of men;
This is my ministry, my life, my prayer, my end.
Grant me grace that I shall not fail."

--The Valley of Vision

Baby Girl!!

 Finally getting around to updating the Blog with the big news!

Baby Levi is a Girl!
 Meet little Esther Levi.
Born Friday, August 2, 2013 at 7:18 AM.  7 pounds 9 ounces, 20 3/4 inches tall.

For the past 11 days we've been busy loving on this sweet perfect bundle of joy. She's already getting too much attention and being spoiled! Gifts of pink, girly, frilly things have been pouring in - not to mention Mama had to do a little of her own shopping. So glad I saved up gift cards and cash gifts from baby showers to splurge on all the pretty girly things!
 We had a wonderful hospital birth experience. All natural and just the way we wanted. In the end things got a little rough. This little girl was a little too comfortable and birthing her into the world was no easy task. But in the end all are well and healthy and happy! Praise The Lord!

 One of the many Aunts had the opportunity to come a visit for awhile. She's been enjoying the little girl to and been a big help to everyone!

We've been so blessed by our church family. We had a little over a week of meals prepared for us. Families from the church brought over food and gifts each day of the week. Was such a blessing to get to relax, recover, and love on our little girl without concerning ourselves with preparing meals.
My man has been incredibly amazing from coaching me through labor to do almost all the housework. It's been so wonderful for him to have the ability to take a bit of time off work to stay home and help out and love on Baby!

I'll try to do better in the future about keeping this blog updated regularly!