Being a healthy mom and staying fit can often feel like two pieces of a puzzle that just don’t fit together. The last time I went to a gym, I had zero children. Now, I have three and I’m lucky if I can find my sneakers amongst the pile of kid’s shoes. But I’ve found a glimmer of hope amidst the chaos of life and this week, I'm sharing it with you! So without further ado- here's my four step exercise routine, perfect for busy moms and suitable for all fitness levels!
Step One: I start my day by making an easy breakfast: gluten free waffles or bagel, then share it with three scavenging sharks that have their own breakfasts, which they never finish, nevertheless, they insist on sampling and eating my food.
Of course, I could make a second waffle, but there simply isn't time, and I have to get to the grocery store anyway.
Step Two: Always pick the shopping cart with a bad wheel. You know, the one that got hit by a car a few times in the parking lot? Then load your kids into the cart and start pushing it. You’re sure to feel your abs engaged and your arms will be shaking by the time you finish shopping, and your sanity will be left in aisle five.
Step Three: Don't sleep, for years. Now, the science behind this is fuzzy, but in my opinion, being awake to feed a baby every few hours is a good way to lose pounds fast.
Step Four: Take your kids to do fun things. Then run around like a maniac making sure they don't run into parking lots or fall into ponds, all while you wonder why you bring them out to do 'fun' things in the first place.
You'll burn more calories that way.
Now the key to this routine is to stick to it. Persistence, or insanity, is key. Luckily for me, mommy-hood has me handcuffed and I feel fitter than ever J
Happy Hump Day!
Going to the dentist is a wonderful milestone in children's lives. When I was a kid, I'd look forward to picking out a reward from the treasure chest and being praised for holding my mouth wide open for so long. As an adult, I expected my children would have just as much fun and of course, never get a cavity. We brought my son to the dentist when he was two, and I had high hopes and expectations. We knew he had a chip on his front tooth, but we brushed his teeth regularly and didn’t let him eat junk, so we thought everything would be fine. When the dentist told us surgery was the only way to treat the extensive decay in his mouth, I was crushed and shocked.
No parent wants to see their child suffer and go through surgery, especially feeling like it’s their fault and this all could have been prevented. We thanked the dentist (my husband declared that God would heal his teeth) and we decided to get another professional opinion before looking at surgery. That day when we got home, I started looking at every possible resource. I came across nutritional advice that I decided to implement. We added vitamins, but I tried removing things from my two-year-old’s picky diet and it didn’t work. I felt helpless, all the while I was praying for God to heal his teeth, yet I was trying to do it on my own through any way I could. Brushing his teeth seemed to become painful and turned into a heartbreaking battle twice a day.
After one of these battles, I went into my bedroom frustratingly said, “God are you going to do something!?” The Holy Spirit convicted me right in that moment and said, “You’ve already lost because you’ve let your circumstances dictate how you see God.”
God is a healer, whether I see it at that moment or not. I had let the external circumstances and lack of immediate results move me from my solid identity in Jesus to a place of hopelessness.
I found this verse and wrote it down on a piece of paper and hung it in my bedroom:
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
That last part was hard for me to digest at first… “Hope does not disappoint…” I had been so afraid that we’d go into the next dentist's office and I’d be feeling confident of his healing, only to be crushed once again by more bad news. But right here, God was telling me that hope doesn’t disappoint. Our whole lives, we’re told “don’t get your hopes up…” But that’s exactly the opposite of what the Gospel tells us.
The night before his dentist appointment, I decided that I would be walking out of the dentist office in victory, whether it was the one I’d been praying for, or it involved praying for people at the office and breaking sickness off of them.
My son got settled in the dentist's chair, and opened wide.The dentist examined his teeth and told us that he didn’t see anything wrong, besides a chip in his front tooth.
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit… and love never fails, it always triumphs.
Be encouraged- and stand strong!
For some couples, trying to conceive feels like a war that stretches on for months and years.
Like all battles, it can leave us questioning God's plan and God's goodness and deceive us into forgetting God's unconditional love or that were made in the image of the Creator of the Universe.
Last week, I had the privilege of praying for a woman that had just received bad news from the doctor. The doctor coldly relayed that her uterus was filled with endometriosis and polyps, and conception wouldn't be likely.
Those piercing words can burden us and become shackles that bind our hope. The Bible records barrenness seven times, in Re:Birth, we cover the triumph of Abraham and Sarah. Though Sarah was well passed childbearing age, God chose her barren womb to plant the seed of a nation in. That seed would blossom into a lineage that would pave the way for our own healing and salvation. Jesus was born into the world and comes into our hearts to set things right. He makes the barren woman sing for joy (Ps. 113:9).
[By the way... the woman we prayed for had a follow up ultrasound this week, and her uterus was clear of polyps and fibroids... praise God!]
If you're struggling with bad news, disappointment, or weariness, remember:
Your body might be broken, but Jesus perfect flesh was pierced for yours.
Life might feel like an uphill battle, but Jesus came to bring life and life more abundantly.
Hope may be far, but God is still the author and the finisher of your story.
You might have made mistakes, but He still works all things together for His good.
Don't grow weary, and more importantly, don't let anything rock your identity in God. You're His child, in His image, created for His purpose and equipped to carry it out.
If you need prayer, send us your request. It's confidential and our great joy to stand in agreement with you!
Whether you’re a mom or not, being on this planet has most certainly exposed you to purchasing swim suites. Bathing suits can be fun, or a unique embodiment of hell.
Ten years ago, is rock out an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini (you're welcome for getting that catchy jingle stuck in your head). But my style has definitely changed. Yes, having babies changes your body. But it also changed my heart a great deal and I'm much more confident and thankful for my body than ten years ago.
Back in my yellow bikini days, I would find a way to nit pick and compare myself to airbrushed images, leading to discouragement and headache. These days, I'm thankful for a) be a mom, b) be alive and c) all the amazing things my body can do from giving birth to nursing and taking care of my kids on a daily basis.
I've also [more heartedly] embraced the concept of modesty. Once upon a time, it felt like a prison of rules and church regulations that I had to obey to appease others. It took quite a few years to realize that God values our hearts over our hem lines. I embraced a healthier form of modesty once I began valuing myself and true purpose from God instead of thriving off of others glances and approval.
This journey led me to look for some bathing suits that were more modest, without taking me back to the 1920s. Five years ago, I did some googling and came across Lime Ricki. I found some cute floral swim suits on clearance and figured I'd try them out on vacation.
I fell in love. Not just with the bathing suits, but with going to the beach, feeling cute, and not feeling exposed. It felt so freeing to not be worrying that I might reach down to pick up my toddler and show accidentally put on a show. I didn't even have to reach for a cover up to walk to the car. I felt so comfortable- think yoga wear for the beach.
One of my favorite things they offer is the bathing suit skirts because they keep you covered, but look super cute. And my absolute favorite piece is my blue top from the Parker Barker collection a few seasons back. I love the elegant shape and lines.
And bonus: I stretched one of them into my 6th month of pregnancy. I got a size larger and was able to rock it out while I was pregnant with Genevieve.
I like to think summer isn't over until it snows, so check out Lime Ricki and take advantage of their end of summer sales!
Have a great week!
I have a love/hate relationship with make-up. It's such a simple little thing that most of us use, collect, hoard, and never follow those dumb recommended 'expiration dates' for.
Favor is a wonderful thing. When we follow God and abide in Jesus, we’re cloaked in Jesus’s righteousness…that is some serious favor.
But, you all have probably been around long enough to know that life isn’t all butterflies and roses. Favor doesn’t always look the way we’d like. God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9), but He works everything together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Some seasons are filled with hurt, some seasons surrounded by loneliness; many seasons are broken into little tiny pieces. Where is God’s favor then? Did it depart?
That’s what the enemy of our souls would like us to think. Thoughts try to accuse and condemn us that somehow, in some way, we’re the reason life looks dim. If we were a better Christian or a better mom, it wouldn’t be so. Circumstances consume us, ridding us of optimism, perseverance, and worst of all, hope. Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov. 13:12), and sick hearts forget that their children of God.
The Bible illustrates this perfectly. Satan destroyed Job’s life, his wealth was stripped, his children killed, his wife tells him to just curse God and die. Job laments, “The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison…” (Job. 6:4). Now, I’d argue that the arrows poisoning job were not God’s, rather they were Satan’s because Satan was afflicting him (Job), nevertheless, the illustration of arrows poisoning the spirit is pragmatic.
Likewise, our spirits fill with poisonous arrows from life. Sometimes we know when they hit, and sometimes we only realize that they’ve been stuck inside of us for years after much searching. But these arrows can wreck our self-image, and even how we view God. In my opinion, Job made a mistake by thinking God afflicted him, but Job produces a powerful message that shouldn’t be missed.
Job did not let his circumstances rock his identity.
Sure, he lamented, and he wept and tried to process the chaos that surrounded him, BUT He held on to the belief that he was still righteous, even when it didn’t look like that at all.
During our bleakest moments, I feel that the most powerful way to manifest God’s favor comes from our attitude. We can play the “woe is me” card and feel sorrowful for the depravity of what surrounds us, or we can say, “not for long because of my God…” We can choose to believe that we’re loved, favored, and a child of the One True God, even if we feel lonely, abandoned, and discouraged.
If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot…”
And Job’s wish came true. Jesus stands in the gap between the God and man, mediating and interceding for us. Jesus knows the woes of humanity because He was fully human. He also knows the glory of Heaven because He’s been there long before the earth was even formed. When we cling tightly to the King of Kings, we abide in Him and become a part of His body. There, God’s favor will forever shine on us, not because we earned it, but because of who earned it for us.
So, the next time “life happens,” remember who came from Heaven and what that means for you!
Have a blessed week!
They say that time heals all wounds, but they’re wrong.
Time has not healed my stretch marks, and I waited 5 years!
I ended up with stretch marks during my first pregnancy, despite my daily application of bio-oil and shea butter. I managed to avoid any new marks in my second and third pregnancies, but the ravines in my skin seemed like a permanent new addition. Sure, the redness faded, but I kept searching for something… anything… that would help!
I tried professional creams, I tried homemade organic lotions, I tried cold-pressed lingonberry oil (did you know that was a thing?? I didn't!)
But nothing seemed to do the trick.
I stumbled upon a wonderful solution when I was in need of serious help post-sepsis. My joints were terrible inflamed, I had a hard time getting around, even succumbing to a wheelchair. I started taking pro-biotics, fish oil, and turmeric, but they didn’t help. Then I ordered collagen from Dr. Axe.
After my first smoothie with collagen powder, I instantly had more strength and within weeks my joint pain was gone! Now, my rapid results came from my tremendously depleted system, it seems that most people experience more gradual results. But, the unplanned bonus from the beautiful collagen powder was a huge improvement on my stretch marks.
Here’s what is it and why it was so effective:
“Collagen is a protein made up from amino acids, including the amino acids proline, glycine, and arginine. In fact, collagen is so important that it makes up approximately 30 percent of all the proteins in the body, and is found all over the body—in tendons, ligaments, bones and much more. You might say that collagen is the “glue” that holds us together because it truly is. Collagen is found only in animals, mostly in the flesh and connective tissue, and it’s the second most common substance in the body—second only to water. It’s well known for how it supports overall skin health.† Many people try to improve their skin with lotions and potions from the outside, but my collagen protein can help support healthy skin from the inside out.† How cool is that?”
I also grabbed a pumice stone to help exfoliate my skin and assist in the rejuvenating process, and I’m really thankful, and impressed with the results.
Sometimes the best answers come from where we’d least expect it!
Have a great week!
*please note, this opinion is my own and I was not compensated monetarily or with products for a review.
I was reading an article which encouraged women to try alternate methods like breathing and movement instead of pushing to decrease the rate of perennial tears. I was caught off guard by the notion because after my last birth, I was convinced pushing occurred so naturally and spontaneously that it couldn’t be provoked or stopped.
But, in my medicated births, I never experienced the “urge to push.” I relaxed in bed until the doctor decided it was time. Then, they watched my contractions on the monitor and instructed me when to push. All of my babies were out within 20 minutes of pushing and I experienced tearing twice, once with an epidural and once without an epidural, but each time it had to do with the size and position of the baby, not the pushing itself.
That’s not to say that there isn’t merit to what these midwives are suggesting. One of the best tips I received from a friend was to push and deliver the head, then pause and allow gravity to gracefully deliver the shoulders. The shoulders are the widest part of the baby, so it makes sense that pushing that part out with great force could result in more tearing. I practiced that, even through my “coached” pushing, and refrained from forcefully pushing the shoulders. Instead, a brief pause allowed momentum and gravity to assist in the delivery.
Another great tip I’ve received is to focus the strength of your pushing to the same muscles you use to do kegel exercise. When it is time to push, it’s easy to inadvertently tense up all sorts of areas, from the arms, to the face. But at the moment of delivery, focus your energy on the vaginal muscles, as they are moving the baby out into the world.
In my last birth, I became really nervous about pushing. I was afraid that the baby’s shoulder would get stuck. I told my midwife I was afraid to push, thinking that she’d give me some tips on how to move my body and what to do. Instead, she said, “let’s pray!” In that brief moment, we shifted fear to faith.
When the urge to push came, it overtook my whole body (in a good way), and I pushed with strength I didn’t know I had. It was the most natural, supernatural, experience. It was natural because the incredible rush of hormones made it feel like something women were intricately designed to do, and it was supernatural as I felt my spirit deeply rely on God to birth the baby. In many ways, it felt like an out of body experience, though I was present and active, my spirit was experiencing something divine. After the baby was born, it took me a few minutes to come back to reality. My first thoughts were, “What just happened? Did I just have a baby? The best part was, nothing hurt. Even though I tore during that delivery, I felt a tear, but no pain, complementary of the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the fetal ejection response.
And remember that fear that I mentioned? Well, my daughter actually was tangled in her umbilical cord, so much so that she wasn’t able to get into the proper birth position. One of her shoulders remained “untucked,” which caused nerve damage in her arm. Because of her shoulder remaining untucked, she could have easily gotten stuck. Yet, changing my fear to faith opened up the door for God to move in and protect both of us, a concept we dive into much more in Re:Birth. (Plus, God healed her arm and shoulder miraculously when she was four months old, but that’s another testimony :) !)
What are some of your tips on pushing?
Many women face childbirth with anxiety and fear. Usually that fear has developed over years and taken root based on birth stories, media depictions, and sometimes, just the fear of the unknown. Undoing that fear doesn’t happen overnight. But it can happen, and it did for me. The moment I found out I was expecting my first child, I was terrified to actually give birth. It wasn’t until friends blessed me with a copy of Supernatural Childbirth that I realized birth didn’t have to be bad and God would be right with me the entire time… which brings me to my first tip:
Replace Fear with Faith:
Fear is powerful. It can cause an undesired rush of adrenaline into the laboring mom’s blood stream which inhibits oxytocin and pumps the body filled with adrenaline, a response which can slow and even stall labor and delivery. But faith is exponentially more powerful.
Start building your faith before labor arrives. We have free pregnancy declarations based on scripture to encourage you in the journey. Fill yourself up with powerful, encouraging births stories, like the ones shared in Re:Birth, and start believing for more! You were MADE to be a Mom, and God MADE you to have babies! He has been a part of every birth in history, and can’t wait to be a part of yours!
Pick the Right Location:
Having a place to deliver the baby where you feel comfortable is crucial. For my first baby, I felt comfortable delivering in a hospital, I knew there would be assistance on hand if I needed it. For my third birth, I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home with my family around. Birth needs change, and desires will fluctuate, but make sure that you find a place that will help you feel secure and at peace.
You also may want to “set the mood” for birth. It’s often suggested that dim lighting is helpful during labor, pack some LED candles in your labor bag and find out if it’s ok to shut off the lights. Or if you’re at home, try out some fragrant lavender candles. Fill the atmosphere with little reminders that bring your strength and encouragement.
Choose whose word to believe:
During my second pregnancy, I filled myself with truths and was expecting the miraculous. My labor started out wonderfully, I was 7cm dilated and having some mild contractions, but I wasn’t in pain. A well-meaning nurse looked at me and said, “The only way you’re able to do this [meaning labor easily] is because your water hasn’t broken yet… once that happens, it gets a lot worse!”
I thought, “oh my goodness… what am I going to do!?!?” All the nice prep work I had done flew out of my brain in a panic, I didn’t even think back on my first birth experience which would have rendered her words untrue. Instead, believing the nurses words plummeted my birth into fear and pain.
Modern medicine can tell us one thing, but God’s got all the power. There might be a moment where you have to make a choice on whose word you’ll believe. Make that choice with a heart filled with peace, not fear!
Use Your Voice:
No, I’m not talking about yelling… although some women find making different sounds peaceful. I’m talking about being an advocate for you! This is YOUR moment, this is YOUR birth, don’t be afraid to say “no,” or to speak up! Those around you are there to assist you, if they’re not making the experience worse, say something! During my second birth, I felt very bullied by the nurse and that they were inconvenienced by my decision to have a natural birth. I had my husband go talk to the head nurse, and the dynamic changed.
I love this quote from Penny Simkin because she nails it on the head:
“Many women ‘suffer’ in childbirth, and it’s because they’re not respected, or kindly treated, they don’t have the tools to cope, or they feel unloved, or alone. If a woman crosses the line from ‘pain’ into ‘suffering’ in childbirth, we’ve failed her.”
Surround yourself with people who will uplift you, encourage you, and support you at each step of the journey!
What is your favorite piece of advice for keeping peace in labor?
 For more information, check out http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/myth-painful-birth-not-nearly-bad-women-believe/
The friendly stranger would look on with horror and nearby pedestrians would jump in and try to correct my terrified toddler. "Don't hit your mom!" They would scold, which would only exasperate the situation. I felt like a terrible mother, surely somewhere in his 18 months with me, I had broken this precious gift from God.
Months went on and the situation seemed to grow worse. I would avoid going out simply to bypass any chaos. Whenever my son would act out, a monolog ran through my mind of what onlookers must be thinking:
Que older woman voice, "If I did that to my mama, she would tan my hide!"
Or que the snooty, analytical voice, “They must hit that boy at home… that's where he learned the behavior!"
Unfortunately, my little angel didn't get the in-utero memo that we don't hit in our household.
Finally, I nearly broke down after my son hit me in front of the pediatrician. I explained that we don't hit in our house, and I don't know where he learned this, or what to do, nothing seemed to help! As I choked back tears from months of mom anguish, my pediatrician choked back a chuckle.
She explained that this behavior, though not good, was a very common in children. Sure, I had read that online before, but her words provided relief. Maybe others weren’t judging me as harshly as I judged myself?
Flash forward a few years, and our tribe has grown. I have three little ones, and the said toddler is now a happy five year old. Guess what? He stopped hitting. Instead of mommy freaking out, he needed some reassurance that I was with him and he was safe when strangers came around.
I do have another toddler though, and she has hit a few times. Then, she sat in time-out, and I moved along with my day because I have to. I have a baby to feed and meals to cook and laundry to do.
The moral of my story is that, oftentimes, moms are highly equipped to make mountains out of mole hills. We adore our children and think they're perfectly incredible. Sure, some kids may hit, but not my angel! When we hit a bump in the road, we’re thrown off completely and we google 800 different ways to handle the pothole because we’re afraid that just driving over will produce permanent damage and years of therapy. But the longer you parent, and the more families grow and change, the more you realize that the road is indeed bumpy. No one has a freshly paved road in front of them, and if it looks like Jenny from the playground does, then it's a façade [I read her e-mails].
Take a deep breath, fasten your seat belts, and keep driving. You'll make it through the ditch, I promise! Don't let potholes ruin the trip, and don’t let worrying about the potholes keep you from driving. The memories of this crazy road trip we call parenting will fuel us with joyful memories for decades to come, and at the end of our days, we’ll look back and relish in the laughter, the milestones, even the tears, because we were together… and we made it through.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day, you’ve earned it!