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News & Book Review: Holy Labor

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Quite a bit has occurred since the last time I've written. I'm still unsure of where I'm wanting to redirect this blog, but that will come in time. We have been quite overwhelmed and underwhelmed at times and because of that, this site has taken a backseat. Which is totally ok! But I have missed it, I've been so quiet lately. So to get back into things, I'll start with some news and then a book review...

First, the news. Over Independence Day we announced that we are having another little blessing! And just the other week we found out it's another boy! We are halfway right now and due the end of January. I'm still figuring out insurance and provider things, but that will come in time, I'm not worried. I didn't feel peace about where we were with that beforehand which is why it is changing, and knowing that we didn't see the provider that delivered Taylor until  I was 34 weeks along (another few months from now).. well, I'm not worried. It's incredible the kind of peace you can find in situations that would drive others crazy when you find that true joy and assurance in Christ, above all. (I just have to remind myself of this often)



That's another thing. We have had a hard year, and last year, too. Remember we lost two babies? It's incredible to know that this little one has made it and is growing and on his way to us! It is a true blessing. I'm already getting looks and comments from some we know and complete strangers at the grocery store about "having my hands full" and "being too young" or "not knowing what I'm doing." How obnoxious, right? And downright disrespectful, among other things. Note to all reading: never disrespect a mother by telling her she is inadequate or overwhelmed or anything of that nature! Encourage her, instead! Children are a blessing and should be treated as such! We are so grateful to have this child to come, what a blessing and promise fulfilled after such a long, hard year of losses we've had. Never say those things to an expecting mother, because you never know what she has gone through to get to where she is today. It truly is insensitive. And if you knew what we went through, then I know you'd think twice about saying things like that. God chose this little man for our family at just this time for a purpose. We are so, so thankful. And Taylor is oh so excited for his "baby brudder!"


On to the book review. I am so excited about this book. I didn't even know about it until I received an email from the publisher, but oh, I was so blessed to receive it. I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I'll be doing today! So here it is:

Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman's Soul by Aubry G. Smith

 
 
Where do I begin? This book has been much needed.. and is probably the only one like it. Seeing childbirth from a Christian perspective, deep in theology, is life-altering. It truly is. Growing and birthing a child is not just a "medical event," "curse," or something to simply endure. It is a gift, and a window into God's own experience of birth and creation throughout all time. Childbirth is a deeply personal and spiritual experience, and the author shares that in many different ways throughout the book. After all, a little disciple and future world-changer for Christ is born at the end of it!
 
The author presents a beautiful theology of conception, pregnancy, birth, parenting and more. Even loss and birth trauma are handled with care and grace, which is something I really appreciated. It helps you to see the hand of God in knitting together your little one and the scriptural and doctrinal evidence for the sanctity of the growing life. One thesis is that childbirth is not fundamentally God's punishment on women but an area of redemption and growth---as it can teach us much about God and His grace. Birth is not necessarily a medical event and should not be feared. Birth is not an emergency, it is a happy day! One thing Smith touched upon greatly is submitting ourselves to God's design, becoming fearless in childbirth because He holds all things together. In this process of releasing control and trusting Him, we will not be disappointed if things in fact do not go our way. Birth trauma is real and lasting, yet so many just don't know the impact--- by placing our trust in God, we can have peace about birth no matter which way it happened or didn't happen. Like I said, handled with care and grace. What a saving perspective!


A beautiful excerpt:

Childbirth brings us to God in a very unique way: in wonder and awe, in fear and sometimes agony, in loss of control and anchoring ourselves to Him. It can be traumatic, transformative, pain, agonizing, anxious, beautiful, and messy. Childbirth is complex and unpredictable. And God uses it as grace in our lives to make us more like Him.
 
 
At the end of each chapter is a list of spiritual disciplines that coincide with the topic, as well as different ways to exercise them. I enjoyed how this book not only covered all aspects of all types of birth and the narrative of birth in the gospels and Christ yet also paired the teaching with disciplines to aid in learning and internalizing the truth.
 
For instance, Chapter 1 is about retraining our hearts and minds in the whole gospel, focusing on the fact that in Christ (with Christ in us), we become a dwelling place of God's presence; therefore we train ourselves to be attentive to His presence in this current age of media and distraction. Spiritual disciplines to right this narrative include solitude, meditation, and prayer: lose distractions and rest with God and His Word, imagine God knitting the child together in Your womb, pray for any concerns about childbirth and ask Him about the details, meditate on God's great love and mercy for you in the places you've seen him working.. Listen. Rest. Journal the Word. It's incredible, applicable, and practical---what a way to truly dwell in the miracle that is pregnancy and the impending childbirth!
 
I'll end this with the last chapter of the book, another except, because it is just so, so good. This book is for all types of mamas, no matter where you are in your journey:
 
Ultimately, as image-bearers of God, our identity is not in childbearing, but in Christ. Women who never become mothers--by choice or not--are not inferior, unfulfilled ,or lacking. Women who are mothers are not merely successful uteruses, solely defined by their children and their role as mother. We cannot fully understand God's providence over our wombs and our lives. But we can trust his goodness no matter what our circumstances may be or become, because we know that in all things, he longs to make us like himself, and he is working for our good. May our eyes be attentive to God's work in our lives and in this world as we await the birth of the new heaven and new earth and of our bodies that will grieve no more.

 

This is not your typical pregnancy and childbirth book. This book is a gospel-and-grace-laced reference for an eternally and spiritually minded mama who longs to rest with God, and experience Him in the transformative experience of birth and mama-hood. I am so grateful for a free copy to review and will definitely be recommending it to all the mamas I know!

*This is a sponsored post. I received a free book in exchange for honest review and promotion. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

5 Steps To Spring Cleaning Our Life

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Even though it's starting to look like summer, we are still enjoying the abundance of spring. And with spring comes spring cleaning! I have been on a big kick lately of cleaning out the garage, our little house, the trash left on our property when we moved in, and the products we use in our home. It's really a simple yet profound concept - back to the basics.


Here are some ways we've been spring cleaning different areas of our life:

*Decluttering. If that sounds intimidating, just pick 5-10 items each day that you don't use or like or want, and get rid of it. We are always adding to the pile in the garage for a yard sale... It consists of nearly 3/4 of the items in our garage! It feels so good to be getting rid of stuff, yet we still have more to go. We cleaned through our closets, and now need to go through knick knacks in the tiny house. (If you are still on the fence, watch the show Hoarding: Buried Alive, and try telling me afterward you want to keep everything in your house!)

*Buying wholesome. I've been looking more and more at the labels of items, rather than just the price. It makes a big difference. This includes dog and cat food, laundry detergent, body wash and shampoos, and even looking at where our clothes are made. In fact, I have something exciting to share about this soon!

*Slowing down. This basically means that we don't overplan our days and weeks. We hardly plan them at all. Specifically it means that we only have a handful of places to go and leave the rest to come. This creates less stress, more time comfortable at home, freeplay outside, etc. Just knowing there isn't anything planned is freeing because you aren't caught up in trying to keep it. So we read, play, fish, walk, paint, just simply enjoy our "free time"!

*Nutrition. This includes looking specifically at labels and ingredients in daily vitamins and buying whole foods, rather than microwaveable quick meals. Yet, this can also include buying smart: frozen veggies, fruit or meals from wholesome brands to steam, fresh produce on sale, etc. I stick to the necessities and try to get as much fresh as we can. This is where the frozen veggies & fruit come in handy for daily smoothies!

*Know Your Yes. To me, this little phrase means to know what (+why) you are saying yes or no to, and don't respond a certain way just to please or for the sake of. Make smart decisions about what activities you agree to or what place you agree to go to lunch during your break. Not just for the sake of it, but thoughtfully: does this take away time or resources from something more important? does this benefit my physical, emotional, spiritual wellbeing? does this contribute to x, y, and z as I'm told? will this build me up or tear me down?



There are many more ways to simplify different areas of your life into the kind that you are excited about... Don't get stuck in the day to day mundane. There is no reason to! If something isn't right, there is never a better time than now to change that. This list of mine is just a start. it is by no means extensive..... And I know in this learning of slow living there is more to come!


I wonder... what would you add to this list?
 

The Joy Of Complete Vision (+ A Coupon Code!)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Something happened a few weeks ago. We went to visit family near the gulf coast and did a lot of fun things. We went to the Houston rodeo expo fair, looked at some boats, and had a relaxing time with family. Taylor loved saying hi "kikiki" to the giant bunnies and "moo'ing" at the abundance of cows at the expo. We had some fair food (what we could find that wasn't fried... tacos) and perused the booths of things and lifestyles for sale. It is a huge ordeal, and quite a big deal. If you know anyone that lives in Houston, they have likely been to the rodeo before.... Sometimes just for the fair, sometimes just for the market, sometimes just for the livestock shows, sometimes just for the concerts.... There is loads to do. We had fun!

But back to the main story. Something happened. And it wasn't at the rodeo, it was near the boats. It was frivolous of me to do it, really, but I didn't think ahead. We were touring a boat that my parents were looking at. They actually just put their house on the market and are going to buy a boat to live on --- downsizing over 2,000 square feet and who know how much stuff in the process --- does that sound familiar? I may share more on that later. Anyway, back to the main story.

We were on a boat. I did something silly and leaned over the edge to see how far down it is to the water. And guess what happened? My glasses fell into the water, lost forever in the sea. It was a couple dozen feet down, and the gulf water is so dirty, there is no hope getting them. And those glasses, I loved those glasses. They were "all me." Purple tortoise, mix of round/square lens, UV coating for being outdoors, they fit me well. I got them a few years ago at the exchange on base at Camp Pendleton, and fell for them immediately. I wear my glasses all of the time - contacts give me headaches, plus I get dirt in them easily with baby hands around - so I had to find a pair that I was comfortable in, had large but not too big of lenses, and were cute - would go with any outfit.

So you can imagine how I felt when those glasses fell. I was also being a bit overdramatic, looking back on it... At the time it felt an adequate consolation for the literal hours I spent poring over frames trying to find just the right one.

It was a blessing when I arrived home and saw an email pop up from GlassesShop.com.



While I already bought new glasses from another company online, this one was giving me glasses in exchange for a review! Woohoo! That means I will now have two pairs. Two fun pairs.

So here is what I picked:

It is their Baton Wayfarer frame. It's kind of tortoise-like, with blue and pink blending together. I love that they are still colorful and somewhat subtle. It's not screaming as glasses with white in them to any degree would do (my other pair has white in them). I wanted something a little more subdued and "professional" yet still unique and fun. I'm really not sure how professional you'd call these, but they fit me well.

And the fit is perfect. The lens is large enough I'm not squinting or feel like I'm constantly looking around the frame for what else is right in front of me. They are very comfortable and the measurements I sent in from the optometrist are exact for what I need. Buying glasses online may be a nervous experience, but this was far from it.

I love how unique they are. Once I picked the purple pair a few years ago, I just can't bring myself back to picking a plain black or brown pair like I had in middle school, when I learned I needed glasses. There are so many fun options out there! You can get a few different pairs to better suit or complement various facets of your wardrobe! It's definitely worth it to have multiple pairs, too (backups if one gets lost!)

Why, you ask?

Because they are for a GREAT price. Plus, I have a 50% off coupon code for readers! Just imagine that! Simply type in GSHOT50 at checkout for a wonderful deal. This will give you 50% off for all eyeglasses and sunglasses with free lenses, with the exception of sales frames.


All you need to get started is a current prescription (and your eyes do change over time, so I'd suggest getting a new one every other year or so) and the coupon code. Simply search the website for the frames you like, enter your details, and checkout!

Glassesshop.com has eyeglasses, reading glasses, prescription sunglasses, clip-ons, in all sorts of styles: for women, men, and kids! Some of those are cat eyes, rounded, tortoise, and vintage-inspired--- if you are looking for something unique.

They fit any budget: From $6.95 to $45.95 for the frames, you can find exactly what you are looking for. (lenses are an additional cost, and that varies depending on the type)


It's simply wonderful to be able to see the world in full complete vision, if your eyes lack 20/20. We take our vision for granted many times... when you lose your glasses or your contacts tore and can't be worn, it's definitely a humbling experience. And, buying your eyewear online sure makes life a little simpler by skipping a trip to the optometrist!


*This is a sponsored post. I was given prescription glasses in exchange for review and promotion. All opinions expressed are my own.

 
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