[Letters & Songs]

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power…”

If you were a letter, what would you be saying? If you were a message sent to the world from God, what would the people around you be hearing?

Jesus was the ultimate expression of God; He was the full embodiment of the character of God. Jesus was the very WORD of God.

And aren’t we supposed to be like Jesus? We who have been redeemed are all to be living, breathing letters from God. Letters continually read out in our actions towards one another. Proclamations shouted through our every day activities.

How about this? What if every one of us were constantly emitting a sound? What if your life was basically a song? What would it sound like? What would it be like to stand above the earth and just listen? At first, your ears would probably be assaulted by the millions of different melodies. You would strain to hear something, anything specific. And then, one by one you would begin to pick out single strands of song. One here, another there. Each piece different, but still somehow similar. Each one a glimpse of the Creator- little proclamations of a God who loves people deeply.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE PROCLAIMING?

Fireworks are Overrated

We have a new addition to the farm (also known as our backyard)!

On July 4th, at 3:00 AM, I woke up rather suddenly and couldn’t go back to sleep; so naturally I began researching “goat birth.” Isn’t that what YOU research when you can’t sleep? Upon reviewing the signs of labor, I realized that our goat Mollee (whose due date was July 8th) might possibly be in labor. So I got up to check on her…

She was in early labor, but I wasn’t sure how long goats labor, so I hung out in the barn until about 5:00 AM when I went back to sleep. Some midwife I am, haha! Long story short, she gave birth to a wee girl baby at about 2:00 PM. Thankfully my kids (haha) were napping, so I got to be there for the delivery and everything. Amazing!

ImageHere’s Mollee with her new baby girl

We named her Independence,wasn’t that patriotic of us? Well, that’s how I spent my fourth of July- what did you do?

ImageLittle Indee

[two is so much older]

I can’t believe that two years ago I was breathing through contractions in my living room, less than three hours away from holding my precious girl! Since Addi turns two today, I thought I would revisit her birth. She is my spunky little sunshine and I am so thankful for her!

I woke up at 5:00 am, wide awake and hungry (not uncommon during my pregnancy). Got something to eat (I believe something Italian) and sat on the couch in the living room. I realized I had sort of an aching sensation in my abdominal area. “Hm,” I thought, “I wonder if that’s a contraction. I decided to go back to bed. I’d heard false labor was very common, also even if it was the real thing it would be a while before anything really major happened, so I knew I’d need some rest. I slept, but it was kind of like sleeping Christmas Eve when you’re a kid.

When we finally got up, I debated telling Josh- I didn’t want it to be a false alarm. I ended up telling him and we again decided to go about the normal routine of things. We had planned on going to the store to finish getting things needed for Addison’s birth, so to Sam’s club we went. On the way, I called my mom to give her a heads up, just in case this was the real thing.

Walking through Sam’s club was strange. Everyone else was going about their Sunday shopping, and I was waddling through contractions. It was like I had a secret that I wanted everyone else to know, but of course I didn’t tell our check-out boy that I was possibly in labor- that would’ve been weird.

The contractions gradually got closer together and lasted a little longer. Somewhere in the day I called the midwife. She told me to let her know when  a) I needed her or b) when the contractions got definitely more intense.

So from 10:00 am to about 7:00 pm, we counted seconds and I tried to rest. We also inflated the birthing tub we’d rented and went on a walk. A little before dinner time I was seriously craving cream soda (the kind in the glass bottle) and spinach pizza. So Josh’s mom picked some up for us and brought it over.

At that time, my mom was already on her way down from Palm Bay, and the midwife was on her way too. We had sent out a text to our “point prayer people” who were supposed to spread the word that I was in labor and wanted all the prayer I could get. We asked them to pray for a speedy delivery.

Filling up the birth tub was an event (more like a circus, less like a ballet), but Josh bore my sharp remarks and blunt commands well (he’s the best!).  By the time the midwife got there, the contractions were certainly more intense, but bearable and I had been waddling around with bowls of water to fill the tub. Needless to say, my blood pressure was not at its best. She told me to relax a little and  she’d take it again later. She checked me, and  I was 6 centimeters dilated. I groaned, all this time and only 6? But then that was at least halfway. It would have to do, it’s not like I had a choice anyway.

For a while, I was in the tub. The contractions continued- a little less bearable, but still manageable. For a while they seemed to have fallen into a rut. They weren’t regressing but weren’t really getting more intense either. And then they changed.

I was in the tub and out of the tub. I tried different positions (see sitting on the “birth ball”, on all fours, laying on my side, leaning against Josh) but I always ended up leaning against the wall, feet spread apart, with my head resting on my crossed arms. At this point, which Jyl told me was transition, none of the “comfort measures” we had learned in class worked. I can’t really describe contractions. I have nothing with which to compare them. They hurt, yes. But it’s…well…more than that somehow.

I remember during one contraction feeling almost panicked. Because this intense pain was in my body, I couldn’t escape it. It’s not like slamming your finger in the door where you can simply open the door and the pain will diminish. Another time I wanted nothing more than to lay down on the bed and sleep, just to take a break for a while. I also had a moment where Matthew 24:22 flashed through my mind, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” And one where the phrase  “This too shall pass,” somehow brought a little relief.

Now all this seemed like forever,  but I believe it was only a matter of 3 or 4 hours between the midwife arriving (6 cm dilated) and being ready to push. I knew I was ready to push when, at the end of a contraction, I gave an involuntary grunt. At that point I was out of water and Jyl asked if I would be disappointed if I didn’t have my baby in the water.  I realized she was expecting the baby to be here soon- that helped me to focus and to keep going.

So I got back into the tub, and got on my knees, leaning over the side and crushing Josh’s fingers with my hands. With each contraction I pushed. This crazy guttural noise came out from somewhere inside me. I pushed and pushed. Finally after what seemed like forever, she crowned. Then Jyl told me to wait so the baby could turn. Ha! It felt like stopping a train, but I did my best to wait. At this point, my legs were shaking, and I was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d, but i knew it must be close to an  end, so I just wanted my baby out.

A few more pushes (and roars on my part) and she came sliding out; Jyl helped me bring her up through the water and into my arms. I was a mess of exhilarated joy, exhaustion, and tears. Addison felt so small, I was almost afraid I would break her. She was covered in white stuff (vernix) and seemed irritated at her undignified entrance, but she was so beautiful!

There was, of course, a lot that happened after that, but I think this is good for now. I wanted to write out the story of Addi’s birth, so here it is. One thing I must mention is the timing of her birth. Addison’s due date was April 18th, but Josh kept saying she would be born a day early. A week or two before, he had noticed a publisher on a book was Addison-Wesley. The next day, Kelley called and told him Wesley’s birthday was April 17th. I know that sounds strange, but God speaks to Josh through things like movie titles and repeated phrases, so he was certain the 17th was the day. And Addison was born at 11:48  on Sunday, April 17th.

I loved having a home birth. Wouldn’t have changed the location for anything. If I did it all over, I would do it the same way again. I was able to move around as much as I wanted and I was in my own space, the same space Addison would be living in, growing up in. It just felt right.

That was then- 

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This is now!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADDISON GRACE!

[coffee containers & my baby’s butt]

This is the most genius idea and it will only take 5-10 minutes of your time! Unfortunately, I cannot take complete credit for this. You can find the original “recipe” here. I wasn’t entirely happy with the results, so I tweaked it a bit. My version is below. You can follow the step by step with photos, or just skip to the bottom for the condensed version. Enjoy!

You will need:

    • 1 Roll of BOUNTY paper towels
    • 1 Tbs. Coconut Oil
    • 1 1/2 – 2 Cups HOT Water
    • 1/2 Tbs. of Your Favorite Baby wash
    • A Mug
    • A Sharp Knife
    • A Container for your wipes

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Okay, so Step 1, cut the roll of paper towels in half, so you end up with two short rolls of paper towels. I find it’s easier if you kind of smash the roll a bit to make it thinner. Also, I use my hand dandy Cutco for this.

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Next, pull the cardboard roll out of the middle. You could have pulled it out first, but I find it is easier to pull out after you’ve cut the roll in half.

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Whew, okay that was the hard part. Now, get a mug and dump in 1 ½ to 2 cups hot water. I don’t like super moist wipes, so I usually do 1 ½ cups. Also, I just use water from my tap, but if you are super particular, go ahead and use filtered water. Add in 1 tbs coconut oil and 1/2 tbs baby wash.

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Swirl it around until everything is mixed. If your water isn’t warm enough, the coconut oil will solidify; if that happens, you can always put in the microwave for 30 seconds.

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Alrighty, almost done! Pour the mixture into the bottom of whatever container you are using. I actually use old Folgers coffee containers because I can get them for free. They aren’t cute, but they are certainly functional.

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Another option would be an old round wipe container. Dollar tree also has round containers, but you have to smush the roll a little to fit it in there.

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Last step! Place one of your short paper towel rolls in the container, put the lid on, and wait at least 1 hour.

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You did it! Don’t you feel so thrifty and accomplished?

Homemade Baby Wipes:

   Ingredients:

    • 1 Roll of BOUNTY Paper Towels
    • 1 TBS Coconut Oil
    • 1 ½ to 2 Cups Hot Water
    • Your Favorite Baby Wash

   Supplies:

    • A Sharp Knife
    • A Container for your wipes
    • Mug for mixing the liquids
    • Measuring cups/spoons

Step 1: Using a sharp knife, cut the paper towel roll in half. Then pull out the cardboard tube in the middle.

Step 2: In the mug, combine 1 ½ to 2 cups hot water, 1 tbs Coconut oil, & 1/2 tbs baby wash.

Step 3: Pour mixture into your container, then place one paper towel roll half in the container.

Cover with the lid & wait 1 hour.

Step 4: Wipe your baby’s butt & feel happy knowing you saved money & are keeping your baby’s skin safe!

***EDIT: I have since attempted making these wipes with the “Select A Size” type of Bounty. My thought was, of course, that I could get twice as many wipes for the same price. While this is technically the case, the wipes end up being a square rather than a rectangle and I usually have to use two anyway (so not much money saved).

Also, at this point I make the wipes with water and coconut oil only (mostly because I’m lazy and I have these things in my kitchen) and they work just fine. I switched to cloth diapers a few months ago and use these wipes exclusively. Happy wiping!

***EDIT 2: Just a note on traveling. The best way I have found to travel with these wipes is to rip off a bunch of individual wipes and carry them in some sort of tupperware-type container. I’ve used old greek yogurt containers (the big ones) and old parmesan cheese containers (I clean them first of course).

[a moment]

A moment of quiet, a break in the day,

as if the whole world is holding its breath

for a moment.

I slip away to see You, meet You.

Just to be with You in silence.

To let the peace of Your nearness

envelope me.

Oh in this stillness, I find rest.

Oh in this stillness, I take comfort,

knowing You are here.

I with You. You with me.

Together.

[rock stars & static]

Each week for the past month, I’ve been reading about some awesome everyday supermoms here. One of the things each mom is asked to do is, “For each of your children, share one of your favorite memories.” Which got me thinking- what has been my favorite moment today? Sometimes the day flies by so quickly I don’t have the chance to savor & enjoy my girls (or even my husband) the way I would like.So here are some of my favorites from today!


Anna’s smile this morning would definitely be one of them, but I’m liking this rock star nap pose too.

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And for Addi, it would have to be the way her hair looked today every time she climbed up to the big slide and went down (by herself)!

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What has been your favorite moment today?

[eating the elephant]

A lot of new adjectives have entered my vocabulary in the past 2 years.

GMO. Unrefined. Organic. Natural. Vegan. Raw. Whole Grain. Whole Wheat.

Also a lot of nouns…for example I didn’t even know how to pronounce Quinoa (keen-wah or kee-noh-uh for those of you who don’t know either) until a year ago.

Now that I have children I am far more concerned about things like fiber, calcium, pesticides, and green vegetables in general. Heck, I actually eat Kale (and like it)! But I will admit that I have, on more than one occasion, almost given up trying. There are several reasons for this: 1) I have a budget. It is actually impossible for me to buy organic everything and stay within that budget. 2) Living “naturally” can be overwhelming! (Can I get an amen?) Seriously- I have this spiral that usually starts with some type of food, say apples. I have to wash my apples, right? But what if my soap has nasty chemicals, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? And speaking of nasty chemicals what about that shower cleaner I use that practically requires a breathing apparatus? Speaking of shower, is my shampoo organic? And before you know it I am looking around for some Oreos and Velveeta cheese because if I can’t change it all, why bother trying? Anyone with me?

My Dad has a saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Here are a few things we’ve done around here to make this whole lifestyle change a bit less overwhelming:

1) Add good stuff in and take bad stuff out one at a time (instead of everything at once)

For example, we switched all of our pasta from enriched white to whole wheat or veggie pasta. (My eventual goal is to make my own, and jar my own sauce made from tomatoes I’ve grown in my garden…see, the spiral?) Another example- I have a friend who doesn’t eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, she just won’t buy it.

2) Make your changes count! Change the things that are most important to you.

An important change for our family has been meat. I would rather have “happy” (antibiotic free, free range, etc) meat then other organic products, so I use a large portion of our grocery budget on that.

3) Switch things out as you use them up.

My latest kick has been using more natural cleaners and toiletry products, but that doesn’t mean I am going to go through my entire house and throw out everything that isn’t green. Instead, as I run out of certain items (like deodorant), I replace them with products that are less harsh.

4) Research, research, research!

I’ll say it again, research! When you run out of dish soap, don’t go out and buy 5 different kinds to see which one you like (unless you have a ton of money- then go for it!). Also don’t buy things just because they say “natural” on the label. I like to look up reviews on the type of product I need and see what other people have to say about it. You can save a TON of time and money here. It’s kind of like asking your friends which type of shampoo they like best, except you have a billion friends.

You will not have an off the grid, self sufficient, chemical free homestead overnight (if ever), but over time you can really make some big changes with a little bit of consistency. So set realistic goals and stick to them! You can do it!

[embracing the season]

Seasons. They come and they go. Some bring a gentle breeze, while others blow in with all the intensity of a hurricane. There are seasons full of extremes and seasons of quiet rest. But each season has a purpose. The Father orchestrates each one to bring about something specific. He utilizes life situations and, if we are willing, will bring about stunning purification. But that’s the thing- we have to be willing. If we go through a season kicking and screaming, it won’t be nearly as effective as if we had submitted to His plan.

Anna’s birth in November began a new season for me. At first I tried to fight it. I tried rushing through the “newborn” season of sleepless nights, no routine, and crying that just won’t stop. I started crossing the days off on the calendar, trying to make the “3 month old” mark come faster.

But in one broken moment, I suddenly realized what I was doing. I was trying to escape the season, trying to rush through to the other side. I had forgotten that God had me in this season for a purpose. So instead of trying to escape, I began to thank Him for Anna and everything about her (the smiles and the screams). And while things didn’t really get easier, my attitude had changed and my heart was lighter through the difficulty.

So to all those tired, frustrated mamas- remember there is a reason for the season (haha). Thank God for where He has you- believe me, it helps! And also remember that seasons change, so this won’t last forever!

“Wherever you are- be all there.” -Jim Elliot