Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I'm Into this Month- September

This list was inspired by Megan at SortaCrunchy.  I am definitely echoing her amazement of how fast this month has gone by, but I'm actually glad it's gone by somewhat quickly.  I'm so done with triple digits (especially since I've been reading about so many people's lovely fall weather)!    

On My Nightstand: Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (The FlyLady) and Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot- I seriously misplaced this book, so it's not technically "on my nightstand" right now, but I'm determined to locate it (or buy it again!) so I can finish it.  So far a lot of good stuff in there that is inspiring me to up my "game" a little (okay, a lot!)

Want To Read:  Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris, Radical by David Platt, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and of course, Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot. Lol.

T.V. Show Worth Watching: Nothing right now. I absolutely feel another TV-free week coming on.  I think we did one in April or thereabouts, and it was nice to break out of the habit of automatically turning it on for no good reason.

Movie I've Seen (in or out of the theater):  I half-watched Sherlock Holmes with my husband a couple weeks ago (I was in and out of the kitchen making dinner).  From what I saw of it, it was pretty interesting.  I might have to watch it again.

In My Kitchen:  Lentil, Kale and Bacon Soup (recipe from For the Love of Cooking) Delicious!

In My Ears:  The newest additions to my playlist are: Revelation Song by Kari Jobe (we've been singing this at church lately, and it's just an amazing worship song) and In My Arms by Plumb.

Three Newest Blog Reads: Modern Alternative Mama, The Blog Guidebook (a great resource for the beginning blogger- like me!  And for more experienced bloggers as well) and Passionate Homemaking.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month:  My daughters 1st birthday celebration!  Hard to believe she is almost 1.  It's amazing how fast they grow, and how fast time passes once you become a parent.  It feels like it was just yesterday that I was pregnant with my son (who is now nearly three and a half!) Wow!  Also looking forward to cooler weather (hopefully).  

What about you?  What are you into this month???

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part Six: My Pregnancy Must-Haves

Ancient Secrets Ceramic Nasal Cleansing Pot, 1 Neti Pot...Or at least "really-want-to-haves-if-at-all-possible". 

A Neti Pot:  When you're pregnant, your sinuses can dry out due to an increase in estrogen.  I experienced this just too much in my first pregnancy- and had sinus headaches all the time, so when I found out I was expecting number two, I headed to the health store for one of these contraptions.  It cost me about $10, but what a difference it made!  It looks weird, it sounds weird, but don't be afraid to try it.  It may be your ticket to nasal relief!  Also, you don't have to buy the prepackaged saline solution at the store, you can make your own by mixing about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon non-iodized salt.  Then you add about a cup of warm (not hot) water, and you're all set!

 Chiropractic Care:  Every time I've told someone about getting chiropractic treatment during pregnancy, I sense that they aren't comfortable with the idea of getting "snapped, crackled and popped" with a bun in the oven...but it is oh so wonderful.  I ended up at the chiropractors office the first time around because after the first couple of months, my joints and ligaments began to loosen up in a very noticeable way.  I would be walking down a hallway and my hips would pop-pop-pop as I walked.  At first it was humorous, but after several days, it began to HURT!  I went to see Dr. R. and soon he was able to correct whatever imbalance was taking place in my spine, etc.  I was blessed to be able to go on a weekly basis during my first pregnancy.  It can be expensive, so that's why it's an "if at all possible" must have.  If you can swing it, I highly recommend it if you are having any sort of back or hip pain.  (By the way, during my second pregnancy, chiropractic treatment was not an option due to financial issues, but I was able to alleviate back and hip pain by stretching every day...though not as well as chiropractic would have done. I suppose prenatal yoga would be a good way to relieve some of that as well).  Another good time to turn to chiropractic care during pregnancy is if your baby is breech.  There is a technique they can do that is very effective in causing the baby to turn head-down.  Visit here for more info.

Memory Foam pillow:  I got one of these when I was pregnant with my son, and oh my...what a difference it made!  It was like sleeping on a cloud.  In fact, an abundance of all kinds of pillows really helps you to sleep better.  I started putting them everywhere when I got to be I laid on my side under my leg to keep my hips balanced...behind my back for my get the idea.  Lots of strategically placed pillows are a must!

Fish Oil:  Fish oil does many great things for the pregnant body (at least in my opinion- talk to your midwife or doctor before taking anything).  It was very good for my moods, and also for aches and pains in my body.  Not to mention the brain benefits for mom and baby.  These "feel good" properties are something I wouldn't normally get through my diet as I really don't eat fish very often.  It was definitely beneficial to me in my last trimesters when I had difficulty getting comfortable and/or moving around in bed.

What has your experience been?  Have you found relief with any of my "must-haves"?  What are some other tips/tricks that have worked for you?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part Five: Five Ways to Bond with Your Baby While You're Pregnant

1. Write a Journal- With both of my pregnancies, I started a journal as soon as I found out I was expecting.  I wrote to them about how I discovered that I was pregnant, I wrote about the prenatal appointments, how I was feeling, and the circumstances happening at the time, and more!  I plan to give these journals to them when they're grown, and as a bonus, it will help them in a practical way when they are expecting their own children someday!

2. Read stories to baby- I loved taking that time during both of my pregnancies just to focus on them.  I actually read children's novels to both of them, as well as shorter story books. You could even read a magazine article to them if you want (hey there's no reason you shouldn't be entertained too if Cat in the Hat doesn't do it for you!) It might be easier on you to read a shorter story to your baby if this is not your first child.    I know it was definitely easier to read to my son when I was pregnant with him than with my daughter, but I still made it a point to find a way to steal a quiet moment with just me and her.

3. Read about baby's development from month-to-month or week-to week.  See my recommended reading post for some ideas.  Even if you're just reading about it online, you can get a really good idea of what your baby is doing in there!  I know I had a special feeling when I realized something specific was happening to my during the time they were probably growing hair, or fingernails or what have you.  It just makes it easier to connect with the little person growing inside of you when you know what they're up to!


4. Communicate with your baby- it is believed that around 20 weeks or so baby's hearing develops. Talk to him or her (or them!) throughout the day.  I remember talking to my son as I was on my way to my prenatal appointments.  I would ramble on and on about what music was playing, where we were driving to, etc.  But anytime I was by myself I would just describe what was happening.  This continued on of course after he was born, and he would be in the sling, and I would just tell him everything that was going on- in the grocery store, at home, or wherever. 

5. Play games with Baby-  This is obviously easier once they start to move around a lot.  With both of mine, I would play with their feet...I would press wherever I would feel movement, and they would kick again somewhere else.  And I would keep pressing my belly according to where they kicked.  One time, with my daughter, I was holding a book and momentarily rested it on my (giant) belly.  Somehow, she sensed it was there, and kicked the book off my belly!  Then I would place various object on my belly, and she would kick them off.  Okay, so that may have been more amusing to me than her, but you get the idea. 

What other ways have you found to bond with your baby during pregnancy? 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Housekeeping Meme

I found this survey at A Stranger in this Land- I thought it was a cute idea.  Let me know if you do one too! 

Aprons – Y/N?
I have one, but I only wear it occasionally.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake?
I love baking chocolate chip cookies and brownies. These days, I don't do much baking, just because I've eliminated wheat from my diet, but sometimes I bake a chocolate cake made with oat flour.

Clothesline – Y/N?
Nope, we're apartment dwellers. We have a stackable washer and dryer.

Donuts – Ever made them?
Only at work...I used to work in a bakery...about ten years ago.

Everyday – One homemaking thing you do everyday?
Hmm....strategic planning! (Lol.) Emptying the trash can is one thing I do everyday. I've been getting much better about making sure the kitchen is clean at some point everyday.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freezer?

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?

Handbook – Y/N?
It's in progress. I will soon get into the habit of referring to it on a daily basis.

Ironing – Love it or hate it?
Hate it. My husband usually irons his own stuff (he doesn't mind). I try to avoid it if at all possible.

Junk Drawer – Where is it?
There's one in the kitchen, but it's not too bad. I don't have enough drawers in the kitchen to let one of them get "junky". Ha ha.

Kitchen – Design and decorating?
I'm not really into decorating too much. My rug and most of the kitchen towels are red. Our dishes are white and blue...everything else is as standard and utilitarian as possible. I'm just not all that "frilly" with stuff like that.

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?
I like the fact that I have such a huge opportunity for growth! Actually, I've come a long way with everything, as I used to be super disorganized...I guess having little ones tends to whip you into shape!

Mop – Y/N?
Yes. I've recently started mopping on a regular basis. I'm surprised that it really doesn't take that long!

Nylons – Wash them by hand or in the washer?
I don't wear them. Not even for my wedding(!) I hope nobody "falls out" over that, but I live in the desert, and got married in August, soo...well, I wore open-toe shoes...and...hey, speaking of heat...

Oven – Do you use the window or open it to check?
I open it. Mine doesn't have a window, but I'm sure if it did, I would still open it. That's just how I roll. :)

Pizza – What do you put on yours?
I haven't been able to eat pizza what with the restrictions in my diet right now (see here for more explanation), but I'm a veggie girl. Which is funny 'cause my husband is an all-meat kinda guy, we always order separate pizzas.

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?– 
Blog, and read other blogs. It kinda doesn't happen all that much these days, so I'm kind of at a loss when one does occur!

Recipe card box – Y/N?
No box. I put the cards I have into photo album pages in a binder. I print a bunch of recipes from the internet too.

Style of house-
We have a two bedroom, two bath (upstairs) apartment. White walls (actually we have quite the "crayon art gallery" going on right now...anyone know how to remove crayon from textured walls?), and most of our furniture is kind of a mixture of styles, as family and friends have blessed us with most everything we have. I know someday God will provide the means for us to update our decor and furnishings, but I'm in no huge hurry for that to happen. 

Tablecloths and napkins – Y/N?
No, but we have a table runner that's tucked away in the closet (good place for it, right?) and I've been toying with the idea of bringing it out for regular use. We have matching place mats too, but the table's not big enough for both.

Under the kitchen sink-
Not much to see there. I have a gallon of vinegar, and some dishwasher detergent. Oh and a ridiculously huge stack of Chipotle bags. 

Vacuum – How many times a week?
I should do it 3-4 times a week, but usually only remember once a week or so...when the baby starts to discover "floor-food" left behind by her brother (cheerios, etc). Gross, right?

Wash – How many loads do you do a week?
4-6 depending on how diligent I am that week!

X’es – Do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off?
I should. I used to be really great about list-making, but more recently I just do what I see needs to be done. I'm seriously going to get back into doing that!

Yard – Who does what?
We don't have a yard...yet.  

ZZZ’s – What is your last homemaking task for the day?
Usually cleaning up the kitchen. I love to wake up to a clean kitchen, it's the best!

Recording My Youth- Joining Mommy's Piggy Tales

A couple of days ago, I came across this site, and thought "what a cool idea!"  The purpose of Mommy's Piggy Tales is to invite women to "revisit" their youth and write a post a week based on the theme for that week (i.e. 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc.)  The idea is to record those memories to share with your children and (eventually) your grandchildren.  

As an added bonus, those who complete the entire 14 week challenge will be entered to win a prize!  Participation is free.  The next session starts on October 7th, and I think you need to sign up before then to participate.  It really looks like fun, and you also get a chance to connect with the other participants. 

Starting in two weeks, every Thursday, I will post my memories, and link up at Mommy's Piggy Tales.  I invite you to join me!  

I think it will be especially fun as I remember and record the road that led me here, and see God working through all of the events of my past.  

Are you interested in joining???  Take a moment to comment and let me know if you plan to participate too.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part Four: Divine Health in Pregnancy

This post is basically a continuation of the previous pregnancy post, "Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy", except that I will focus on the spiritual side of health. 

Some things you just can't find a solution for in the natural.  While we should always approach everything in faith, that doesn't always happen.  I'm reminded of the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment and received healing in Luke 8:43-48 "Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.  And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”  Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.  And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” 

She "had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any".  Once she went to Jesus in faith, she was restored. Amazing.

When my son was born three years ago, I suffered from a postpartum hemorrhage. The blood loss was so bad that I needed a transfusion the next day. That just added to other issues we faced after his birth.  Two years later, during my pregnancy with my daughter, at one of my later prenatal visits with my obstetrician, we discussed the fact that I had hemorrhaged during my last delivery.  I was a little shaken when my doctor told me that it was something I was likely to repeat with the birth of my daughter.  She added "this is something that women in third world countries die from all the time".  (Nice, right?)

With those words ringing in my head for the next several days, I went to the Bible to get God's perspective on childbirth.  What I found was interesting.  With the exception of a few situations, most of the births that I read about in the Bible went a little something like this: "_________ conceived and bore a son", "_________ conceived again and bore a daughter".  Nothing eventful.  Nothing traumatic.  The baby was born, and life went on.  That was in sharp contrast with the situation surrounding my son's birth.  I thought, "that's what I want.  I just want to have my daughter, leave the hospital, and get on with our lives.  I don't want to fear for my life when I go to give birth."  God showed me that it didn't have to be that serious.  So I prayed.  I asked God to make that happen for me in light what I had gone through previously. 

Additionally, a few weeks before my daughter was born, our church received communion (we usually do so on a monthly basis).  Our pastor always emphasizes how Jesus said “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)  His body is broken for me...for my daughter.  I was reminded of Isaiah 53:5 that says "by His stripes, we are healed".  As I received communion that evening, I remembered what Jesus had done for us.  In 1 Corinthians 11:28, Paul says in regards to receiving the Lord's Supper "let a man examine himself".  The way I was taught is that we must "examine" ourselves for anything that isn't right in our lives...either sin or physical infirmity.  We are to confess those things to God.  I lifted up the apparent infirmity in my womb and asked God to strengthen it to operate in the way He intended.  I believe at that moment it was done. 

A few weeks later, the manifestation of my healing came.  My daughter was born.  My doctor had what seemed like a team of hospital staff in the room in the event that I began hemorrhaging again, but they all soon filed out of the room with nothing to do or see.  She was born in the early morning, and we were released from the hospital the next evening.  We were only delayed by necessary paperwork and other hospital formalities.  It was uneventful just like I desired- aside from the celebration of her debut, of course! 

My daughter getting cleaned up after she was born.

My faith was built up by what happened at her birth, and now, I pass my testimony on to anyone who may be struggling with any kind of health problem (in your pregnancy or otherwise).  God cares about the situation you're in.  Just reach out to Him, look into His word and see what He has in store for you and your baby!  I know I used this Scripture in one of my previous posts, but it rings true in this instance as well: "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified

How has God moved on behalf of your health?  Is there any health issue you need prayer for?  I would love to stand in agreement with you! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Ahem...I interrupt this pregnancy series to bring you "Menu Plan Monday".  I've been meaning to do this, as I pretty much do a menu every week.  Here is what we're eating for dinner this week:

Sunday: Pasta Seashell Casserole- yes, I made dinner on a Sunday.  I usually don't, but this is so quick and easy.  I use a pound of ground turkey and brown it with half an onion, diced, and three cloves of garlic, minced.  I mix it with 8 oz of cooked sea shell pasta (I use rice pasta- which by the way is really good...I can't really tell much of a difference between it and regular pasta) and a jar of Newman's Own Sockarooni.  Yum.  

Monday: Red Beans and Rice- I just came across this recipe when I was menu-planning.  I hope this one is a keeper...I haven't quite been able to find a recipe I really like for this.  We ate this all the time growing up.  Apparently Red Beans and Rice is the official Monday supper in Louisiana.  I never knew that, but I saw it on two different websites the other day.  

Tuesday and Wednesday will be leftovers.

Thursday: Cajun chicken and collard greens- are you sensing a theme?  Yes, I am part Cajun.  A small part, but still.  I just take a whole chicken, cut up, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a good Cajun seasoning mix (I use "The Spice Hunter" brand) and bake it in the oven at 350 until it's done (maybe like 30 minutes or so).  The greens, I used to make with frozen collard greens, but they have been out at my local Wal-Mart for several weeks, so I ended up with fresh the last time, and I don't think I'll ever use frozen ones again.  My method is inspired by my husband's Auntie...that's the one dish that I've learned from his family- the funny thing is, I think I like them more than my husband's a taste I acquired when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Let me know if you want to try my recipe, I'll put it up this week (It's Auntie and mother-in-law approved :D). 

Friday: Tacos and Mexican Rice- here's a really good way to make tacos that I posted on my other blog.

SaturdayLentil, Kale and Bacon Soup- We had this last week, but it was so good, I thought we'd have it again.  Apparently nobody in my house cares that our highs are still in the triple digits.  Yummy food knows no season.  At least not in my house. :)  

The other thing I'm making on Monday is chicken stock.  I'm going to be busy!  This will be the third time I am making my own stock.  It is so good!  I'm using the recipe from Nourishing Traditions.  It's also listed in The Maker's Diet- that's where I got it.  I used to use Rachael Ray's chicken stock...homemade is way better!  

By the way, all of these meals are allergen-free and gluten free.  Enjoy!

If you want to get more menu-planning inspiration, click here!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part 3: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

A healthy pregnancy starts before conception.  For those of you (like me) who didn't exactly plan your pregnancy, that thought can be a little scary!  There is so much that could be addressed in this post.  I will just cover some of the things you can do (and not do) to achieve a healthier pregnancy, and ultimately a healthier little bundle of joy. 

Get Informed
Hosea 4:6 (the first part, anyway) says "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge".  I don't know if I'm in the minority, but if something happens to me, or I embark on some adventure (oh, bringing a child into the world) I want to know all I can about it.  I read, I Google, I join forums (okay, not for everything, but with certain things I want to talk to others going through the same thing!)  All of these things lead me to increase in knowledge.  Knowledge empowers us, and leads us to make right choices ahead of time about what we are about to be involved in.  I believe that getting information during your pregnancy is one of the first steps into parenthood.  You need to find out what's best for your child's health, and it starts long before your birth attendant says "it's a girl (or boy)!" 

Start Wherever You Are
So maybe you're just starting to think about ways you can become more healthy for the sake of your baby.  It is a process to learn healthier habits.  I know I've certainly come a long way.  I remember in high school (all those many moons ago!) my diet consisted of Twix bars, Dr Pepper, Taco Bell, and top ramen.  The changes were gradual.  And I certainly didn't start with the conscious thought of "I'm going to overhaul the way I live".  I learned little by little, bit by bit that those things were not the best things for me to eat on a regular basis. 

Try to avoid these, okay? ;-)

Baby Steps
You don't have to completely change everything right now.  It's about baby steps (no pun intended) and developing habits.  (Obviously, if you are smoking, drinking or taking recreational drugs, that's something that you will want to address immediately for the health of your baby.  See a doctor or other professional for help with those things, if they are an issue for you, as those are beyond my experience). 

Start small if you need to.  If you are eating a lot of fast food, for instance, start learning how to cook easy meals at home (I'm not talking about Hamburger Helper, either!)  If you prepare your food at home, it's almost certain you will be eating healthier automatically.  Here's a great site with some easy recipes  Add in more fresh fruits and vegetables.   It's important to include in your diet as much nutrient rich, unprocessed food as you can.  Be especially vigilant about preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.   And what about organic food?  Here are the 7 foods you must eat organic (according to  Stone fruit (such as peaches and nectarines), strawberries, rice, baby food, milk, bananas and green beans.  You can read their article to learn more here

Maybe you need to cut out a soda habit.  During my first pregnancy, I loved to drink club soda with lime.  It was so refreshing during those times I wanted something fizzy or just more interesting than plain water.  In today's world of energy drinks and coffee shops on every corner, caffeine is a common challenge.  Here's a good article about the risks of consuming too much caffeine. caffeine-during-pregnancy  Switch to decaf coffee or herbal teas...but you should do it gradually or you may end up with a headache, and then you'll be wondering what kind of pain relief options you have (which are limited)!  

It's also important to stay active.  If you need to get some exercise, start by taking short walks around your neighborhood.  If you are working, use part of your lunch break to walk around the building.  I'm afraid however, that I can't give you any tips about keeping your weight gain under control, as I was not very good about that during either of my pregnancies!  The good news is that, if you're breastfeeding, the excess weight tends to come off a little easier! 

All those "little things" add up to building a healthier baby, and keeping you feeling great throughout those nine months. 

Coming up, I will be posting a continuation of this article: Divine Health During Pregnancy! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pregnancy Series Part Two- My Favorite "Go To" Pregnancy Books

While I'm working on other upcoming posts for this series, I thought I would let you know about my favorite books to reference during pregnancy.  These are the ones that were always constantly within arm's reach for any question I had while I prepared for the births of my children.  I've also loaned these books to friends and family members during their pregnancies, and now, I recommend them to you!  So here they are:  

Christ Centered Childbirth by Kelly J. Townsend.  I love this book because of the way she artfully ties the entire process to our faith in Christ (as the title suggests).  I am especially fascinated by the link between the gestational period and the feasts in Israel.  The author also includes many prayers for the expectant mommy to pray on a regular basis.  There are several great birth testimonies from Christian perspectives included.

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition by Susan McCutcheon.  I read this book when I was pregnant with my second child.  It has so many great tips and tools you can utilize for having a natural, un-medicated birth.  It really breaks down what happens in a woman's body during pregnancy and childbirth in an easy to understand way (including some pretty graphic illustrations and photos- just so you're warned!).  It's a great resource for learning about the risks of interventions, and why many of them are unnecessary in most cases.  After reading it, I was even more prepared to face my second un-medicated birth.  (I wish I would've known about this book the first time around though!)

The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America's Baby Experts by William Sears and Martha Sears.  I don't know that I need to say anything else about this one, I think the title says it all! 

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) another great one by William Sears and Martha Sears.  I love how they outline all the birthing options so that it's easy for the expectant mother to make an informed decision.  I also appreciate their unique perspective as people in the medical profession who prefer home births (in most cases) to hospital births.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pregnancy Series: Guarding Your Heart During Pregnancy

You may be wondering why I'm doing a series on pregnancy. Well, I'm not pregnant, and I'm not  "trying", but I do have several friends that are expecting, and I have been inspired to put some of my thoughts together regarding pregnancy, and share them with you and anyone else that might happen upon my blog. Becoming pregnant four years ago was such a life-altering thing for me, that I can only imagine that other women have similar experiences. Some people seem to coast through pregnancy with nary a complaint or question, and if you're one of them, I think that's great! But for the others, this series will touch on some things that I found to be helpful, and other things that I discovered along the way during my combined total of a year and a half of being pregnant. (I know, small change for moms with several children...but hopefully my experience can be useful to somebody!)

This is me 8 months pregnant.  Don't laugh! My sister threw a lu'au-themed baby shower for me.  Gotta love the hula skirt. So humiliating! Lol. :)

First of all, whether you are newly pregnant or just weeks (or days!) away from becoming a mommy, congratulations! What a joyous time in your life. A baby is such a blessing, and if you are like me, you will be amazed at how your life will change in a multitude of wonderful ways once you become a mom! But pregnancy can also be a time of uncertainty, a time when perhaps you don't always feel so great. One thing is certain, those nine months or so usually don't happen exactly the way you expect! Rest assured, it's very normal to sometimes feel ambivalent about your "status". That being said, I want to start this series with something that doesn't only have to do with pregnancy: your thought life!

Cast Out Those Fears
It is so important to stay focused on the right things during pregnancy. Pregnancy is an exciting, wonderful time of expectation and hope, but it can also be a time of great fear. A new life is being created in your body (of all places) and you don't have a lot of control over what's happening. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." God has indeed given that soundness of mind to us, but we must cultivate it, and embrace those thoughts and feelings that make for positivity in our thought life, as well as in our hearts. Whether you're fearful about the upcoming birth of your child, or preoccupied with "what if's" about your baby's health, or overwhelmed by anxiety caused by those wild and wacky hormones, you have the power to direct your thoughts and have peace.

Guard Your Heart
I would like to point out that in Proverbs 4:23 the Bible says "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (NLT) Whenever I think of that Scripture, I immediately think about what we might let into our "airspace". What are you watching on TV? What are you reading about? Are you allowing well-meaning friends and family members to tell you all about their horrific pregnancy and childbirth experiences? It does seem like having a bulging belly just invites all kinds of random people to share their experiences with you. I remember getting home after my baby shower for my son...I was just weeks away from my due date, and my mother in law was helping us unload gifts from our vehicle. An older neighbor lady came up to us and (why, oh, why?) started to tell us (within my earshot) in detail how she lost her first baby shortly after birth. My wonderful mother in law immediately stopped her and said something like, "I'm very sorry for your loss, but we only want to share positive experiences right now". I can't tell whether she may have been offended by what my mother in law said, but I am thankful that she was there to intervene. Not everyone is going to be sensitive about your situation, so sometimes you just need to cover your ears and say "la la la la la!" (I know, super mature, right?) or have your husband or someone else step in and redirect the conversation. Of course, you can always politely change the subject yourself if you think it might be headed someplace you'd rather not go.

Think on these Things
What can you do if you are bombarded by negativity during your pregnancy? Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Martin Luther was credited with the saying "You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair". I love that quote! You have the power to keep things from taking root in your mind and heart. But it's important to replace negative thoughts with faith-filled thoughts. The internet is a great place to read positive and empowering birth stories. Here's one good site I know of. It's also a good idea to say a confession like this one here to keep your mind stayed on God's desire for you and your baby. Meditate on Scriptures that speak to your current situation. God will bring peace to you, and that will do so much for your daily and long term well-being.

A Few More Helpful Scriptures
"All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]." Proverbs 15:15 Amplified

"A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones." Proverbs 14:30 Amplified

"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified