Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I am so blessed! This would be my longest blog post ever, if I wrote EVERYTHING that I am thankful for. I can only give God the glory for not giving up on me and for giving me the best things in life. I am so blessed and thankful for a God who loves me! Thank you dear father!

To everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you continue the spirit of thanksgiving into this next year. Don't let it stop with this month. Have a great holiday! I will see you on Monday! - Rejoicing in the Present.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Toys that Develop Creativity

When Shopping for those Christmas Presents, keep this in mind. It's a long read but I feel like it's pretty helpful. Taking Baby A's likes and this article I already know what I want to get him for Christmas - Rejoicing in the Present

Ps. You have to eat the fish and spit out the bones. There are few bones in here that I don't agree with.

Clever Toy Marketing Strategies

If children are to develop a healthy, wholesome value system and psyche and enhance creativity and intelligence, then the toys purchased need to be scrutinized by adults. Clever marketing campaigns convince consumers into spending thousands of dollars on toys and trinkets as the means to raise happy, healthy, spiritual children while subliminally promoting a pattern of long term behavior to constantly consume, crave more, bigger and better rather than nurturing the creative world of the child. An article in Forbes Magazine discussed the 'new' strategies for selling toys for four to seven-year-old children in order to create a new generation of lifetime consumers, turning the work of Joseph Chilton Pearce in his book Magical Child inside out. The clever strategies focus on developing products that target the deficiencies in our culture - spiritual, emotional, bonding, socialization, family relationships and community. The lines between these deficiencies and capitalism, between hero/heroine, saint and sinner/evil doer are blurred in advertising, programming, media, movies and toys. The delineation line requires advanced discrimination skills which children do not possess. 

Entertainment vs. Play

A major source of confusion among parents is the difference between entertainment (being the observer and acted upon) and play (being an active participant).Play is the source of richness of a child to mimic real world circumstances. It is the greatest source of learning. Habits developed during play become incorporated in adult daily life. However, real play contains no rules, no guidelines. It is unorganized and spontaneous. It enables the child the freedom of exploration. Obviously, this definition eliminates those toys sold in the marketplace with fixed and immutable rules. In the long run, entertaining children develops behavior patterns which keep the child in need of more stimulation from external sources and less reliant on their "inner voice," "intuition" and creativity.

Less Is More

The objects of play must be simple and safe, allow imagination to flourish, freedom of movement and range of complexity. The colors, materials, textures, size and shape of the play object are just as important. The more extreme from "nature" the toy, the less value it has in play. Simple, natural materials with earth tones and earthy materials are all characteristics that develop the brain, eye-hand coordination, heart, imagination and joy of expression. (These are the skills that are necessary when boredom, confusion or depression sets in.)

In All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things, author Robert Fulghum defines the need for simplicity in this complex world. In my opinion, the purpose of toys is to develop creative imagination and intuition, not to entertain. After all of the boxes have been opened on Christmas morning, the greatest joy for young children is playing in the empty boxes. This is because large empty boxes enable the child to explore the "child" world. Large empty boxes are the greatest source of joy for a child (next to using the couch pillows as forts and hiding places). In a box, one can be exploring a cave, flying a plane, driving a car or just finding a sense of peace and silence from our hectic world. Empty boxes are very, very important.

The best types of dolls are those that allow the child to "fill in the blanks." Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Schools, explains that dolls made of cloth, with thread for eyes, nose and mouth, allow a child more freedom and creativity of expression. Interchangeable clothing made of soft cotton (not synthetic materials) has a variety of benefits. This type of clothing allows children to learn to button, snap and tie and remove clothing that will later be translated into their own clothing. The textures of cloth enable the child to develop their sense of "feeling" textures, which is something that plastic does not promote. Dolls of an animal nature are preferable to human in the early years, because children, until the age of eight, relate to animals. Paper dolls for older children are excellent as well. Allowances for making personal accessories and clothing, paper and cloth dolls can open a world of joy, creativity and skills to play. Dolls like Barbie, Ken, and GI Joe are cold, hard plastic with plastic accessories and inappropriate body dimensions, and they subliminally represent a distorted value system that children replicate in play and then life.

The child's room must be a source of peace and comfort. If the room is filled with bright and/or psychedelic colors, TV's, computers and video games, there is little peace for the child's mind to integrate information, rest and assimilate, much less sleep. Frank Lloyd Wright recognized that peaceful earthy environments are more conducive to health, with emphasis on colors (pastels and earth tones), shapes (curved) and sizes (child sized) that enable a child to get in touch with the inner self. The harsh colors (psychedelic), bright lights (florescent), textures (computer generated) and cluttered spaces of today's world do not allow the eye, senses, brain and heart to develop fully. Rooms that have these harsh features overstimulate the retina and do not send proper signals to the brain. 

According to the latest research, and texts such as The Secret Life of the Unborn Child by Thomas Verny, M.D., pre-birth babies have greater awareness of their environment than adults ever conceived or considered previously, both of the internal world inside the mother as well as the external. After birth, babies recognize the faces of their parents and other loved ones within the first weeks of life, so a mobile in the child's crib with faces of loved ones reinforces a safe and secure environment as well as promotes hand-eye coordination. Record the voices of loved ones to play for the child along with soft music as the mobile spins to keep the environment calm.

Creative Intelligence

Hand-eye Coordination: Some hand-eye coordination toys are origami, knitting and crocheting, magnetic marbles (which teaches color sorting, classifying), drawing and painting, putting things together and taking them apart (like old watches or electrical appliances), tangrams and Cuisenaire rods. Put pencils, screwdrivers, little saws, hammers or paintbrushes in their hands as soon as they can hold them (with an atmosphere of encouragement from an adult), and children will use these tools throughout life. Allow them to move, climb, explore and stretch their bodies. The age for these discoveries is as early as one.

To develop focus of attention, lengthen attention span, patience, visual discrimination, hand-eye coordination and pre-math skills, wooden blocks in a variety of shapes and sizes, Lincoln Logs, Legos and Construx are the answer. Children learn about stacking, size, shape, classifying, categorizing and dimensional space through the use of building toys. Legos and Construx are good for older children after the age of about six, because the plastic configuration is more complicated than wood, which is best for younger children. These toys build much more than just structures.

Language Development: To promote language development, purchase toys that do not speak. Chatty Cathy, Teddy Ruskin, talking books and "learning talking toys" are novel, and manufacturers praise their capability as teaching tools. However, the quality of the voices in any mechanical toy hinders language development, because the sounds are distorted unlike human speech. Children get a distorted sense of language through these toys and often form inappropriate and false impressions, incorrect pronunciations and misinformation that is carried through to adult life. To stimulate language development, talk to the child, record your own voice, read to your child and speak to them at meals, while walking, riding or shopping. This builds language skills as well as auditory discrimination. (Bonding is another added benefit to talking with a child, one which is highly underrated). Contrary to media hype, the less mechanical the means, the better the child will be equipped for "real" life relationships in communication (which is the function of language).

The greatest form of language development and creative intelligence is through reading to your child from pre-birth. Language exposure from a loved one is statistically more influential on a child than from anyone else. Reading also allows the child to form pictures in their minds - the foundation for intuition and creativity - builds attention span and develops vocabulary. A young child can listen to stories many levels above his or her reading level and comprehend the essence of the story. Early reading aloud develops essential skills for later life like story comprehension, decoding skills and getting the main idea. Generally, the Caldecott and Newbury award-winning books are the best. You can find these award-winning titles anywhere.

Physical Coordination: In exploring the "air" space, children can be encouraged to move and explore, sing and dance, jump and run. The environment of play is nature. Climbing trees teaches a child coping skills, spatial relation, self-confidence, courage, persistence, patience, tolerance, tenacity, hand-eye coordination, balance, dimension and depth perception and a host of other skills, as well as being an invigorating, healthy exploration into the world of nature. Their own inner limits are tested and strengthened without fearful grown-up intervention or observation (an adult's fear is a child's fear). The rough bark heightens the sense of touch. The aromas of the pines and other vegetation stimulate the senses. Unlike its counterpart in the plastic concrete playground whose smooth, hard surfaces and toxic materials have no texture to stimulate (except overstimulation from bright colors), exploration of the animal and insect world, dirt, sand, leaves and grass, enables children a complex and realistic perspective on life from a variety of angles. John Holt's How Children Learn is an excellent source for the natural exploratory play learning.

The arts are very, very important for a child's exploration of the world. The arts enable children to get in touch with their passion, soul and inner core. Children need to be encouraged to draw at very early ages with soft pastel paints, light graphite pencils and pastel pencils. The 500 colors in a box of crayons are unnecessary, as are the psychedelic colors of markers. A child can learn to mix and blend colors and create various shades through trial and error, which builds self-esteem, courage, stamina, perseverance and other skills. Purchasing art books and paper is very important for children to get in touch with their souls. Coloring books, dot-to-dot and coloring in lines hampers creativity. Encourage the free drawing of lines; exploring the entire sheet of paper and doodling are very important skills that are dismissed in culture today, while children, missing this adventure, satisfy that urge by resorting to graffiti. Children need the freedom to explore space both on the paper and off in order to gain a sense of self.

Allowing them to bang on musical instruments like the piano, drums, guitar (no matter how awful it sounds) eventually turns into recognizable music. Children proficient in music are generally also exceptional in math. However, there are many mainstream children's songs that have deep messages that touch the child's soul as well. These include the genius works of Jim Henson and other songwriters. Music is like a mantra, as it is repeated over and over; it becomes part of the "belief system" just like any other subliminal repeated message. Choosing the best lyrics and music that touch the heart and soul will enhance the child's development.

Equilibrium and Toys for Balance: Balance is both an internal and external skill. Maintaining equilibrium while playing has an effect on coordinating a life of balancing all aspects of life. Along with nature, toys that swing, rock and move are important for building equilibrium in the brain of a child. Rocking horses, spinning around, holding a child in a rocker and wooden swings are excellent. Even a rope tied to the branch of a tree is a learning tool. Trampolines stimulate the immune system and help the body excrete toxins in addition to teaching the body alignment. These toys calibrate the inner child, inner ear and brain and can often be a source of centeredness and peace.

Child-Sized Toys: Marketing advertisements promote the notion that treating a child as an adult, dressing them as adults and having them behave like adults will entrain adult values and skills. The more appropriate strategy is to create a child's world in the home. Keep the tools as close to a child's level as possible. Buy a child-sized broom, dustpan and shovel in addition to keeping a child-sized table and chair in the kitchen. Place the pots and pans at the child's level. Allow them to pretend to cook, clean and follow along in the kitchen (more bonding experiences). Mimicking adult behavior is imperative, but at the level of the child. Children LOVE to clean and pretend to be adults. Allow them to spread their things all over the kitchen while you are cooking and play in the dish water. Modeling adult behavior from the child-size perspective will entrain behavior; this is a much better approach than attempting to arbitrarily teach them tidiness skills at some magical age. It takes time to teach a child these skills, and in our hurry-up world, we find little time to teach them and allow them to help. David Elkind's Hurried Child: Growing up Too Fast Too Soon speaks to the benefits of slowing the pace of children. Time spent teaching them self-help skills as a child, at a child's ability phase, will train healthy members of society.

Children do not know what is in their best interest. Television is a powerful tool that distorts the mind into believing subliminal messages which are repeated over and over, entraining the child to believe what is heard, which then becomes part of the belief system. Electronic toys, games, television, virtual reality and computers are detrimental to a child until age 12, when the child is able to think cognitively, has developed social skills, conscience and eye-hand-brain coordination! What these electronic devices do is override the limbic system of the brain so that children have a distorted sense of reality. After all, it is only 2D. Children who do not value life, who lack conscience and moral values, have been subliminally indoctrinated in the 2D world. These devices are also highly overstimulating to a child's mind and sense of being. It keeps them in need of constant gratification by being on the "edge," secreting pleasure hormones so that children are constantly seeking sources of pleasure.

Silence and Sleep: Sleep is imperative to a healthy life, because in the dream state, problems are worked out; information is stored and is filed away for future reference. Some children have difficulty falling asleep at bedtime when read to, because the imagination is activated and the working mind explores options. Others are confounded by the electromagnetic energy, computers and television in the room. Even the digital alarm clock or noises from outside can be disturbing to the sensitive child.

An essential key to creative intelligence is to be allowed to go to quiet places or quiet time and just BE or allow the mind to drift off, staring into space. When a child appears to have a blank stare or the gaze seems empty, the blank or "far off" look is the brain synapses getting in touch with creative intelligence, making important connections. It is connecting synapses and discordant thoughts into a whole, putting the puzzle pieces together.

An essential key to creative intelligence is something totally lacking in a child's world of today - silence. Allow time for a child's quiet space; this does not include nap time or rest. There needs to be a place in the home to allow a child space to be in silence. As a culture, meditation has become popular, because it reconnects the art of getting in touch with ourselves through silence. Children need to be allowed to go to quiet places and just BE.

When a child is calm, they become more sensitive to the finer qualities of life. All children learn and behave differently - kinesthetic (touch), auditory (hear), visual, olfactory (smell) and gustation (taste). Parents are the custodian of a child's sense of being in this world, self-knowledge of themselves and world knowledge. The purchase of toys, games and activities is a conscious responsibility to be seriously undertaken. A child's future depends on parental judgments and
choices. Create a safe, peaceful, creatively stimulating environment and a healthy child is the result.

Daria M. Brezinski, Ph.D., is a psychologist, TV (live streaming schedule found at and radio host (archived at and Executive Director of What Wize Women Want, a non-profit foundation where the upcoming TV Show listing can be found ( She can be reached at or 434-286-2989 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 434-286-2989 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Learn more:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bakery Boxed Cake

Did anyone ever wonder how to make boxed cake taste like it came from a bakery? Thanks to my facebook friends who gave me these tips....

Step 1: Look at the directions on the cake mix
Step 2: Add one more egg (or add 2 if you want it to be very rich
Step 3: Use melted butter instead of oil and double the amount...
Step 4: Instead of water, use milk.
Step 5: Mix well and bake for the time recommended on the box.

Yum Yum Good - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hi, Father!

Recently, I was on my way home, when a speaker on the radio caught my attention.  She said that she struggled with prayer.  BINGO! – That’s me.  So, she was doing a study on prayer and one chapter really hit home.  This is what she talked about…

 When we see our friends and family, we usually acknowledge them and say “hey” or “hi”.  When we see our neighbors we greet them with a smile and Hi. When we answer the phone we say Hello. We acknowledge people.  So why don’t we acknowledge God?

So for a whole month, she didn’t ask for anything, she just said Hi.  Whenever she thought about God throughout the day, she would say “Hi.”  She just simply acknowledged that He was present and there.

She went on to say that it brought an awareness and intimacy to her relationship that she never had before.

I know personally I run to God with my to-do list and want-list and I barely acknowledge Him.  It really spoke to my heart and I hope speaks to yours as well.  So think about it. When you know He’s there, just say “Hi!” --acknowledge Him today. - Rejoicing in Him

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are You Ready to Have Kids?

You're super excited, with your little one on the way, but are you really ready?!?

After my friend Bethany posted this, I HAD to blog it because it's a hilariously-exaggerated, sometimes-true picture of parenting. If you have kids, you will get a HUGE laugh out of this! Thanks to for this laugh to day - RITP

Colin penned this test for his 1992 novel ‘A beginners guide to fatherhood’.
For those of you who are already down the path of snot covered shirts and broken furniture I’m sure there will be quite a few of you nodding your heads as you go through this test.

Test 1: Preparation

Women: To prepare for pregnancy
  1. Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
  2. Leave it there.
  3. After 9 months remove 5% of the beans.
Men: To prepare for children
  1. Go to a local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself
  2. Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
  3. Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.

Test 2: Knowledge

Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behavior. Enjoy it. It will be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

Test 3: Nights

To discover how the nights will feel:
  1. Walk around the living room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 4 - 6kg, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
  2. At 10pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
  3. Get up at 11pm and walk the bag around the living room until 1am.
  4. Set the alarm for 3am.
  5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a cup of tea.
  6. Go to bed at 2.45am.
  7. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off.
  8. Sing songs in the dark until 4am.
  9. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up when it goes off.
  10. Make breakfast.
Keep this up for 5 years. LOOK CHEERFUL.

Test 4: Dressing Small Children

  1. Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
  2. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout.
Time Allowed: 5 minutes.

Test 5: Cars

  1. Forget the BMW. Buy a practical 5-door wagon.
  2. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
  3. Get a coin. Insert it into the CD player.
  4. Take a box of chocolate biscuits; mash them into the back seat.
  5. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Test 6: Going for a walk

  1. Wait.
  2. Go out the front door.
  3. Come back in again.
  4. Go out.
  5. Come back in again.
  6. Go out again.
  7. Walk down the front path.
  8. Walk back up it.
  9. Walk down it again.
  10. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes
  11. Stop, inspect minutely and ask at least 6 questions about every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.
  12. Retrace your steps.
  13. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbours come out and stare at you.
  14. Give up and go back into the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

Test 7: Conversations with children

Repeat everything you say at least 5 times.

Test 8: Grocery Shopping

  1. Go to the local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
  2. Buy your weekly groceries without letting the goat(s) out of your sight.
  3. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.
Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Test 9: Feeding a 1 year-old

  1. Hollow out a melon
  2. Make a small hole in the side
  3. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it side to side
  4. Now get a bowl of soggy cornflakes and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon while pretending to be an aeroplane.
  5. Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
  6. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor.

Test 10: TV

  1. Learn the names of every character from the Wiggles, Barney, Teletubbies and Disney.
  2. Watch nothing else on television for at least 5 years.

Test 11: Mess

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out:
  1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains
  2. Hide a fish behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
  3. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds and then rub them on clean walls. Cover the stains with crayon. How does that look?
  4. Empty every drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house onto the floor and proceed with step 5.
  5. Drag randomly items from one room to another room and leave them there.

Test 12: Long Trips with Toddlers

  1. Make a recording of someone shouting 'Mummy' repeatedly. Important Notes: No more than a 4 second delay between each Mummy. Include occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet.
  2. Play this tape in your car, everywhere you go for the next 4 years.
You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Test 13:Conversations

  1. Start talking to an adult of your choice.
  2. Have someone else continually tug on your shirt hem or shirt sleeve while playing the Mummy tape listed above.
You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Test 14: Getting ready for work

  1. Pick a day on which you have an important meeting.
  2. Put on your finest work attire.
  3. Take a cup of cream and put 1 cup of lemon juice in it
  4. Stir
  5. Dump half of it on your nice silk shirt
  6. Saturate a towel with the other half of the mixture
  7. Attempt to clean your shirt with the same saturated towel
  8. Do not change (you have no time).
  9. Go directly to work
You are now ready to have children. ENJOY!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When You've Had It...

This article was written for the Homeschool mom but I feel like it can be applied to all burnt-out moms. Thanks to servingjoyfully! - RITP

Laundry to do, dinner to cook, child teething, husband busy at work, appointments to meet, church to attend, devo's to do...what to do?...

Look to your creator

Sometimes this gets dismissed as a platitude. But the truth is, God created you, and He alone can sustain you through those tough times. His word says that He will bear the load for us if we will only let Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30
If you are feeling weary and burdened, let those words wash over you today. 

Look up to godly examples

I love to read real-life encouragement and challenges from someone who has been there, done that…and has done it well. I think of the home-educators who have gone before me. Those women who are Titus 2 women to the blogosphere (or in real life if you have them). Sometimes even fiction can serve up this inspiration. I will always remember reading  Robin Lee Hatcher’s Belonging. In the book, the main female character is a school teacher. Several times throughout the book we’re told about how she prays for her students, and she prays that God will help her be a good teacher to them. Even something as simple as a character in a book inspired and challenged me.
Whatever it is–a blog, a book, a fictional character, a real person–find something that challenges you and inspires you to be better at what you do.

Look to your schedule

When I am feeling especially burdened and weary, it’s usually a good sign that I’m not taking care of myself, that I’m overcommitting myself, that I’m not honoring God’s commandment to give my mind and body some rest. Sometimes, it means that I am too busy doing the wrong things. When I step outside God’s good and perfect will and take on things that He never intended for me to take on, that’s when I become weary and burdened by many things.
I love the words that Jesus spoke to Martha:
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
One thing is needed. Just one thing. And when we move beyond that one thing (Jesus, God’s will), we bring unnecessary stress and burdens on ourselves that we weren’t meant to bear.

Look to an organized event

During a similar time last year, I remember looking over the sessions for a homeschool conference I was planning to attend. Being the planner I am, I poured over it. The titles and descriptions alone were encouraging! And the conference itself was amazing–just being around all those like-minded families and learning alongside them and from them was such a blessing.  One of my favorite speakers from that conference, Mrs. Heidi St. John made me laugh, and cry, and want to be a better mom and homeschooler.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Health: Adrenal Fatigue

Before I found out that I was pregnant, I had a lot of adrenal fatigue symptoms. I took the this test and the results were negative. Of course my fatigue was a result of pregnancy; but if you are constantly tired, take this test and see if you might have this problems. Thanks to 20somethingallergies - RITPA Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!
Did you know that you can do a quick and easy test at home to see if you have adrenal fatigue?
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, this is one of the tools I use to test adrenal function.
A quick disclaimer before we start: In order to properly diagnose any condition, please see a qualified medical practitioner (preferably by a holistic practitioner familiar with adrenal fatigue).
This simple test can be done with a small flashlight that has a pinpoint focus or penlight, a mirror, darkened room, and your eyeballs.

A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!

How Does It Work?
When your adrenal glands are not functioning well, the eye muscles get fatigued and aren’t able to stay dilated. This is a common cause of night blindness and the need for sunglasses.
What If I Fail the Test?
This test is a good indicator to look into things further.
I will be writing a series on adrenal fatigue next month. If you would like to sign up for my newsletter in one of the pink boxes to the right or bottom of this post, I will send the posts right to your inbox!
Here’s a great book that I recommend for more information and DIY treatment options: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, PhD.
Instead of spending hours upon hours looking up (sometimes questionable) information on the Internet, it covers the syndrome from soup to nuts.
[Affiliate link provided to help support costs associated with the upkeep of this website. Read more here]
Pupilary Response Test for Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Stand in front of a mirror in a darkened room (best done at night) for at least 15 seconds.
  2. Look straight into the mirror without blinking.
  3. Using your penlight or small flashlight, hold the light at eye level and by the side of your head pointing at your ear (see chart). About 8 inches away to avoid damaging the eye.
  4. Slowly move the light around your head toward your nose, staying 8 inches away at all times.
  5. Stop once the light is at a 45 degree angle to your retina. The light should NOT be pointing directly into your eye but should come in at an angle. hint: you shouldn’t feel like a deer in headlights.
  6. Hold the light steady and count how long your pupil can hold the contraction, up to 20 seconds. Once it starts to ‘pulse’ or loses the contraction, the test is over.
  7. Repeat on other eye.
0-4 seconds | Adrenal Exhaustion |
5-10 seconds | Adrenal Fatigue |
11-19 seconds | Adrenal Dysfunction |
20+ seconds | Optimal Adrenal Function |
A Simple Way to Test for Adrenal Fatigue - At Home!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Matt Walsh - Abstinence is Unrealistic and Old Fashioned

WOW! This is what the world tells us. What is true "sexual freedom? Read this from Matt Walsh. It's a bit blunt but I think he is on target. This doesn't even include God's commands. It's just common sense - RITP

From my inbox, an email from a high school student named Jeremy:

“Dear Matt, first I want to say I really like your blog. One of my teachers actually mentioned it in class once after you wrote something (she didn’t mention it in a good way lol) and I went and looked you up so I’ve been following you ever since. I know you get so much email so I don’t expect you to see this but in case you do I wanted to get your opinion about something. You write a lot about relationships and everything so I’m wondering if you think abstinence should be encouraged in school?

Reason I’m asking is because we are doing our sex ed lessons in health class now and the topic has come up. Yesterday my health teacher was talking about safe sex and someone mentioned abstinence and she said it wasn’t realistic. She said it was an out dated way of thinking and the people who push for it are out of touch because they were probably kids a long time ago. She said sometimes sex can be more casual and isn’t always a part of something serious. Then she asked how many people in the class are sexually active because she said it was important for people not to be ashamed. Almost all the guys in class raised their hands but I didn’t. They were all talking about how sex doesn’t have to be something for marriage or long term relationships. I always wanted to wait for marriage and I hope it’s not weird for me to say that. They said in class that we should be more accepting of sexual expression that doesn’t conform to older ideas. But I still always wanted to wait for marriage. But at this point I feel like an outcast or something.

I read something you wrote about dating once and it seemed like you were saying that people should wait for marriage [to have sex]. What do you thinkabout what my teacher said? Am I weird for not really wanting to go out and hook up with girls and stuff and instead wait for marriage?”

Dear Jeremy,
Yes, it’s weird for you to want to wait until marriage. In spite of the hyper-sexualization of our culture; in spite of society’s decaying moral sensibility; in spite of all of the messages that bombard you every day through every available medium; in spite of the pressure from your classmates; in spite of the bullying from that fool of a “health teacher,” you STILL stand tall and resolve to save yourself for your future wife.

Man, that is weird. It’s also awesome, inspiring, courageous, and extraordinary. Not to mention, Jeremy, you’re doing the RIGHT thing. You’ve got more character than most adults in this country, and you should be commended for it.

Speaking of adults without character, please ignore everything your “health teacher” says on this subject. I have to put quotes around her title because it doesn’t sound like she’s doing much in the way of teaching, and whatever she’s blabbering about has very little to do with “health.” She seems to think there’s a “safe” way for emotionally immature juveniles to have casual sex. Maybe she’ll follow up this performance by advocating “safe drunk driving.”

Dude, I had to go outside and breathe a little before I even attempted to write back. There is so much I want to say about this woman and the nonsense she spews. In any other context, an adult would probably find themselves on a statewide registry if they went up to a bunch of kids and asked about their sex lives. But this was “educational,” so it’s cool. The most charitable possible interpretation I can muster is that she’s an overgrown gossipy teenager who thinks she’s at a slumber party. “OMG you guys! So who here has had sex??? Let’s play truth or dare!!!!” A less charitable translation of her actions would lead me to the conclusion that she was actively attempting to pressure and humiliate people like you. And not just you, Jeremy. You said every guy in the class raised their hands? Yeah, a lot of them were lying, because that’s just the sort of thing dudes lie about.
So, Mrs. Health Teacher has singlehandedly declared sexual morality dead, has she? With one scoff and wave of her wand she’s buried thousands of years of insight into the topic? Anyone who advocates such things must be “old” and “out dated”?

Hmmm. Well, this tattooed 27 year old former DJ happens to be on your side, man.
God forgive me, I’m not old fashioned at all. I don’t think you are, either. Truth only seems old fashioned nowadays because we’ve grown so accustomed to deceit and manipulation. But Truth is eternal, so it can never be old or new. It never ‘was’ or ‘will be.’ It just ‘is.’ It always ‘is.’ Truth never grows old, and if you believe in it and try to live by it, you will always be, in some ways — the only ways that matter — the youngest, freshest, most energetic rebel on the block.
So here’s the point, Jeremy:

Our culture tells a lot of lies about sex. Your teacher is one of the liars.

There’s plenty of ignorance on the subject. Plenty of confusion. But it’s the lies I hate. The lies that come from people who know better. The people who have made mistakes and now encourage others to make them, too.

You could ask any married person who slept with other people before meeting their spouse (I wouldn’t recommend actually asking this, I’m just trying to illustrate a point here): are you happy about it? Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally? If you could go back to those times, would you stop yourself?
Was it worth it?

Really, was it worth it?

Do you wish you could say that your spouse is the only person who has experienced these intimate, sacred moments with you? Are you proud that there are other men or women in the world who have seen this side of you? Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?
If they tell you they feel happy or neutral about the fact that they gave themselves to someone other than their spouse, you’re dealing with someone in a very dysfunctional marriage. Any honest person in a healthy relationship would tell you they’d erase those moments from their lives if they could. They can’t, of course. Nobody can. We can’t live in the past and harp on our mistakes, but this all leads to an important point: the myth of “casual sex” persists, even though many of us — millions and millions — have seen it for what it is. Marriage as an institution is in rough shape, but people still do get married in this country. That means millions have had to look at their spouse and say — probably silently in their own heads, deep in their subconscious — “I have nothing new to give to you.”

It’s a tragedy, really. It’s a shame. You deal with it and you move on, but “casual sex” has taken its chunk and you’ll never get it back.

Yet few will speak against the predators and perverts in media, Hollywood, and Academia who promote this “casual sex” deception. There should be armies of people opposing it, but instead there is only a small, fringe group of cultural insurgents; the ones we point and laugh at and accuse of having a “boring” and “outdated” view of sexuality.

This is another lie. Casual sex proponents are the ones who have turned sex into something trivial, banal, utilitarian, pointless, joyless, one-dimensional, lifeless, lonely, and disappointing. How could the ones who hold it as sacred also be the ones who make it “boring”? No, it’s mainstream culture that’s made sex boring. It’s mainstream culture that is, in fact, afraid of sex. That’s why we spend so much energy shielding ourselves from every natural aspect of it, other than the physical sensation itself.

And the ones who believe it to be so much more than that are the ones who make it “boring”? THEY are the ones who are afraid of it? They embrace all of it, every part of it, and they are the ones who “hate sex”?

Ridiculous. Casual sex is a lie. It’s a lie that rests on lies and breeds lies and turns people into liars.
We’re told that we are sexually “liberated” if we throw ourselves at strangers and give ourselves over to people who couldn’t possibly care less about us. This is yet another lie. If modern attitudes about sex have “liberated” us, what, precisely, have we been freed from? Security? Commitment? Trust? What, we’ve broken the Shackles of Purity and Love and run gleefully into the Meadows of Pornography and Herpes? Because that’s all that our sexual liberation has wrought. A lot of confusion, a lot of porn, a lot of disease, a lot of emotionally desperate, psychologically battered, spiritually broken people wandering around, searching for another stranger who’s willing to go in for a few more rounds of sterile, shallow, pointless sex.

Let freedom ring, right?

Libertas, madam Health Teacher!

It’s quite interesting, though. Casual sex has liberated us, yet casual sex produces so many regrets. The landscape is rife with people who have felt the sting of our “hook-up culture.” But where are the people who regret abstinence and monogamy? Sure, some people, while married, think they regret having not “played the field.” Then they play it. And then they learn what regret really feels like.
Even the term “casual sex” is insane. It’s an oxymoron. Denim is casual. Restaurants can be casual. Casual: without serious intention, careless or offhand, informal. A high-five is casual. Sex can only be viewed in this same vein once we have dehumanized ourselves enough to see human sexuality as something no more significant than a pair of jean shorts.

Describing sex as “casual” is like describing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as a “nice little doodle.” That’s what I can’t stand — the people who diminish and cheapen sex are the ones who get
to pass themselves off as “sexually enlightened.”

It doesn’t surprise me that your crackpot health teacher pulled out the “sexual expression” line. She teaches in our schools yet she doesn’t even understand the words she speaks. To “express” means to SAY something. It means you are indicating something of meaning. When you “express yourself” you are conveying a message about your thoughts, feelings, and character. So shouldn’t we, rather than encouraging sexual expression for the sake of it, encourage MEANINGFUL and POSITIVE sexual expression? In the context of commitment and loyalty, sex expresses something. It expresses: “I love you. I give myself to you.” But what does casual sex express? “Use me and I’ll use you.”
That’s an expression, alright. An awfully sad, pitiful expression. You’re right to have no interest in going down this road.

It sounds like you want to express a different message: self-respect and maturity; honesty and integrity; patience.

And, when the time comes, you’ll express love. Then, you’ll be able to say that you only ever expressed this sort of love to the one person who deserves it. And you’ll both be better for it.
So, in summation, your health teacher is full of it.

You’re on the right path. You’re a rebel. Keep going.

Thanks for writing,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Harvest Festival - Tarp Toss

Here is another game that we had at our Harvest Festival.  It's easy to make and fun for all.  I'm especially thankful for Amy Browning who ran this game ALL night long! - Rejoicing the Present

What you need...
  1. Duck Tape
  2. Tarp
  3. Scissors
  4. Cord
  5. Ball
What you do...
  1. Cut shapes out of your tarp
  2. Then duck-tape the shapes for reinforcement
  3. Finally make holes in the tarp to thread your string (or bungee cords) through

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest Blog: Family Night

Growing up, we had Family Night every Friday night and it was one of the highlights of my childhood. We played games mostly but also did other things like go to baseball games and so on.  It was always a blast.  So when I saw this blog post by Beauty Through Imperfection, I had to share.  She gives 6 of her favorite games and some fun facts.  If you don't have a family night, I would encourage you to make time and have one! - Rejoicing in the Present

One of my favorite memories from growing up, is of family game night. They weren’t necessarily a regular thing, but we always had lots of fun playing and competing against one another when whenever we did play.

Family Game night is definitely a tradition we plan on passing along to our kids as they get older. Right now, my husband and I enjoy playing two player board games, and I’ve even written a post sharing our favorites in case you want to try. We play at night after the kids are in bed, since our babies are too young to play a traditional board games quite yet.

I do have a list of a few of our favorite family/group games! I thought I would share a few of those with you today, along with this neat infographic with some facts about some popular games! Can you believe the size of that twister board? Crazy! Click the link to check out a really neat site with tons of family game night ideas! I spent some time on it earlier today, and really enjoyed it!

Graphic Citation

Here are six of our favorites:
Best Games For Family Game Night. Great Christmas Gift Ideas too!Taboo - This is still one of my favorite games. You need at least 4 players and you are split up into teams. You will have a stack of cards with a word at the top that you have to try to get your other team member to guess. BUT there is also a list of several words that you cannot say when trying to communicate the word to your teammate. It is such a challenge, and it can be pretty amusing listening to people try to describe something without using any of the obvious words that would normally be used to talk about it! This was my favorite as a kid, and I still enjoy it now.
Phase 10 Card Game - This was one of my family’s favorite games. It is a card game played with a special deck. You go through 10 phases, with different goals in each phase. If you don’t make your phase by the end of the round you will have to repeat that phase while every one else continues on to the next phase during the next round.
Apples to Apples  - This is one of my husband’s favorite party games. It’s better with lots of people! The more people the crazier it gets. Again, you have a special set of cards with various words on them, in the end you all secretly share one of your card that you feel would be the closest “match” to the word on the card that the dealer chose. The dealer then shuffles through and decides which comparison is the funniest, most serious, craziest etc. They can choose based on any criteria that they wish, which makes it all the more hilarious! The dealer won’t know which card belongs to which person, so he or she is able to choose whichever one makes the most sense in their opinion. The person who’s card is selected gets a point, and you go again!
Agricola - We started playing this one more recently, and we love it! It’s a great two player game, but seems like it would be awesome with multiple players as well. Think FarmVille but as a strategic board game instead of an online one!
Pandemic  This game is so unique because it is cooperative! Instead of playing against each other, you play as a team to beat the game. It’s actually quite a challenge, and it’s neat being able to work together instead of always competing. The goal is to save the world from various diseases that are infecting it. Each player takes on a different role, thinks like “medic” and “research specialist” or “scientist”. Then you take turns working together to cure or eradicate the diseases! Super fun!
The Settlers of Catan - This one was really popular for awhile, and for good reason! This is a great game that definitely keeps you on your toes. You are virtual settlers building roads and settlements and collecting points! We play this pretty frequently with a couple friends and it’s always a great time.
What is your favorite game for family game night?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Harvest Festival - Lollipop Tree

At church, we have a Harvest Festival every year and this year we almost doubled the amount of games we did.  So I had to come up with some new ones.  One of my favorite ones, was the Lollipop Pull.  It was fun to make and can be used at a variety of functions including showers, parties and in the classroom.  I am thankful for our church and the hard work they put into the Harvest Festival.

What you need...
  • Vase
  • Lollipops
  • Marker
  • Styrofoam ball

What you do...

  1. Fill your vase with rocks or something heavy so it doesn't tip over
  2. Then start working on your lollipops (pick the amount you want to use)
  3. First, you want to color the ends of your lollipops with a marker
  4. Then you want to start sticking the lollipops in the styrofoam ball (I worked in a circle)
  5. Completely cover the whole ball. 
  6. When its complete, set it on the vase. 
Voila! Your tree is complete

Monday, November 11, 2013

Learning to Be Content

November is the month that our Facebook "feed" blows up with "I am thankful for this and that".  Most of the posts have to do with faith, family and good times. Very rarely, do we hear a post of thanksgiving for trials in our life.  In fact, most of us struggle to keep our head above water and then thank God after it's over.

God doesn't want us to be thankful for just the good times, but to be content during the trials of our life as well.  In fact, He says in Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

Recently, I came out of the first trimester of my second pregnancy. During that time I was so miserable and unhappy, far from content.  I complained and threatened my husband that he would have to adopt if he wanted more.  Ok, yes, I know this was my hormones but it was also ME talking. It was selfish and an unthankful response for this trial in my life.

One night I was complaining to a friend about my sickness; she is still trying to get pregnant with her first.  I was telling her "just you wait, it's horrible" and she replied that she would probably not mind because she would finally have her baby.  "Wow, get over yourself," I told myself.  There are ladies who would go through so much more then you have been through just to have their own baby.

So, I want to say I am now choosing to be thankful for the nausea and the tiredness. I  am thankful for a bed to rest in while I am weary.  I am thankful for indoor plumbing to throw up in.  I am thankful for the illness and nasty taste in my mouth because that means that I am growing a baby in my tummy, a sibling for Baby A and a child to raise for the Lord.  I am thankful that God gave us another blessing to give back to Him.  I am thankful for family and a husband who have been supportive during this time.  I am thankful for books that helped me to rest.  I am thankful for my midwife and all her wisdom and for the internet and friends with great advice. I am thankful for this condition, because it means new life.

Friends, we need to be thankful for everything, not just our wonderful families, our caramel lattes and nights out with the "girls". We are supposed to content with our leaky plumbing, cracks in the walls and crayons on our refurbished chairs because it means we have a house over our head and a child running around in our home.

Let's not run away from our problems but run to the Savior and thank Him for the trials of our life. - Rejoicing in the Present

Picture from windowforwomen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WLW: When Your Home Doesn't Feel Like a Haven

Today I am thankful for the provisions that God has given our family. Our house especially was an obvious gift from God and we are blessed to have it. A house though is not always a home and we have to work on making it a home.
So what if your house doesn't feel like a home or a haven? - Read this from Courtney from Woman Living Well. - Rejoicing!
In 2010, after finishing our very first – “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Series – I wrote this post.
I wrote this post because I know…I know that there are many who lit candles, prayed, tried to plan game nights and prepared cozy dinners …but you are discouraged.  Your home STILL does not feel like a haven.
There is a self-talk that rattles around inside the brains of women – yes, even Christian women who long to live out God’s word in their homes.  I know because my brain does it too…and here’s what it says…
{From the archives}

I turn to Psalm 23…

1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (want. want. want. I want…)
2. He makes me lie down (lie down…if only I could lie down for just 20 minutes…if only if only if only) in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. (quiet. quiet. quiet…this home is so loud…television, ipods, cell phones, chatter, I can’t get a moment of quiet here).
3. He restores my soul (my soul. needs. restored. …it hurts). He guides me in paths of righteousness. (I am so alone…I have no one who understands…if only I had someone to get me out of this mess. mess. mess. Someone besides me please clean up this mess!).
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (what if. what if.what if. what if I’m not enough?) for you are with me (you are? why are you so silent God?); your rod and your staff they comfort me. (comfort. who needs comfort. I am strong. I will pick myself up and press on. I am not weak.)
5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (overflows. overflows. overflows. Dirty dishes overflow, closets overflow, my trash cans overflow, my laundry baskets overflow, my calender overflows…if everything is so full – why do I feel so empty?)
6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. (follow. follow.follow. I feel like difficulties, trials, disappointments, bad relationships and financial problems follow me… goodness? love? follow me?) and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (put on fake smile. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…BUT…I want. I want. I want. if only. if only. if only. my soul hurts. mess. mess. mess. I am weak. no. I am strong. empty. empty. empty.)
Do you hear the self talk? Do you hear what is happening between this woman’s two ears?
She is saying rotten things to herself about her life, about the people in her life, about her circumstances, and even about God. And then she wonders…why? don’t? I? have? peace?
The problem is not out there – it’s inside of her.
Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Do you want to see a change in your home? It starts in your mind.
Are you in a storm? Do you need help?
At the core – I am empty, ugly, self-seeking, insecure, questioning myself to death regularly – even to the point of tears over fears and failures. I hurt. I struggle. I wrestle. But then - I lift my eyes up to the maker of the heavens and the earth and this world pauses for just a moment and all my ugly thoughts and self talk are washed away by his love, grace and peace.
Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
The storms do not disappear but seeing a glimpse of the sunshine that awaits me, lifts me up when I am weak. He is strong. And so I rest. And he restores.
If you are discouraged – I encourage you to get alone with Psalm 23 for 5 minutes today.
The Lord is indeed your Shepherd and you shall not be in want. You must claim these truths. Let him lead you by still waters…are you thirsty? Sit still. Drink a tall glass of his living word! Let him restore your soul. He is with you. He loves you. You will one day dwell in His house- His Haven – forever.
Walk with the King!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Blog: Marriage Isn't For Me!

Today I am thankful for the gift of marriage. The picture that God gave us of Christ and the Church. I am thankful for a husband who portrays the picture very well. Here is an interesting article by Seth Adams. (I don't agree with a lot of what he has to say and especially his religious stance BUT I did love this article.) - rejoicing in the present

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.
SKwedding394To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.
And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.
Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

But a Sinner, Saved by Grace

I am thankful that my husband and I have the wonderful opportunity of being paid to live out our "passion, working in the ministry.  It can be super-exciting, as well as super-discouraging.  At the end of the day I am reminded that I am but a sinner saved by grace.  I am not to be held any higher because of my position, but I do beg prayer from all of you, because being a pastor's wife is a heavily-attacked position.  All in all, I am THANKFUL for this time that God has given us in the ministry 

Recently, I stumbled onto this blog post from satisfactionthroughchrist.  The author, too, is a PW who is reminding us that our children as well as ourselves, need Jesus just as much as everyone else.  We have FAR from "arrived", and especially if you know me and my child, :-) you know we are but sinners and need your prayer.  Please do not put us on a pedestal.  I am a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I think this says it all... - Rejoicing in the Present

Dear Church,

Our kids still need Jesus and so do we.

I'm afraid you might look at our family - the Pastor, his wife, and kids - and think that we've all arrived.  You expect us to be the picture of Jesus for you, but I want you to know that we'll fail you every time.

We're not perfect.  We haven't arrived.  We cling to Jesus daily.

Our kids are no different than yours.  They throw tantrums, tell us "no", make a scene in the grocery store (and at church), don't eat their dinner, and are desperately in need of a Savior.

You see, I fear that just because we're called to bring you the word that you might think that we don't need it ourselves.  As David Platt would say, "we need it for every breath we breathe" and you do, too.

I pray that the way we live our lives is honorable and pleasing to Him, but I know I'm not always holy and blameless.  I argue with my husband and get angry at my kids.  I need Jesus daily and so do you!

You see, I fear that because we've been called into a position of authority that you might think that we live perfect lives; that our sanctification is complete.  Jesus is the only perfect One, let Him be the one you look up to, not me!

When my kids act up in church or I look like I've been run ragged on Sunday morning, just know that we're human too.  Give me a hug and point my kids to Jesus because He's the source of strength we all need.

We teach our kids the scriptures, read them the bible, take them to church, and teach them right from wrong, but the one thing we can't give them is a new heart; only Jesus can do that.

When we stood before you and dedicated them to the Lord you promised to help lead them, too.  They might be PK's, but they need Jesus too!

So promise me that you won't ever look at my family and expect us to be the picture of perfection for you.  Promise me that you won't ever expect something from us that you wouldn't expect for yourself.

And promise that you'll always remember that pastors, their wives, and their kids need Jesus; just like you!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hold them close!

"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... I'll always be with you....If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever." - A. A. Milne
There is a dear lady in our church, who lost her husband recently.  It was one of those cases where cancer "swept in awares"; a few quick months later he had passed. He was a middle-aged man, as we would say, "to young to die".  His poor wife has lost her best friend and grieves daily for him.  When I read this quote above I immediately thought of her. 

I know that too many days go by where I don't say how grateful I am for my husband and that something could happen today that could take him away. (The Lord gives and the Lord takes) but today I am going to CHOOSE to be grateful for him. 

JT started out as one of my guy-friends.  He was serious about another girl and I had no interest in dating.  We were always close but never romantically interested in each other.  Over a 3-year period, we became very close and knew almost everything about each other.  God eventually closed the door to the JT's serious relationship.  We became best friends and God used that to change our relationship.  By the time JT asked me to date him, I was in "serious LIKE".  Only 3 months after we started dating, JT told me that he had peace about getting married and a month and half later he asked me to marry him.  Why did things move so fast?  Because we were already best friends.  We knew everything about each other. There was no trying to pretend he was something different or that I was.  We KNEW who we were and we loved that. 

NOW I definitely LOVE my husband, but even if the romance went away, I would forever have my best friend. 

Let me tell you about my best friend... JT is good looking. You know the type--tall, dark and handsome.  I know this sounds crazy, BUT to me, NO man is better looking. I  find him so attractive with his wide shoulders, smiling eyes and confident but humble personality.

He loves me.  Can I say anything better?!?  He is the romantic one.  As much as I tease him, he is the one with a kiss on his lips and arms always ready to hug me.  When I am sore he massages my back and neck.  He goes out of his way to do sweet things for me, like making ice cream runs.  In fact, one day, I was sick and so he went to Charming Charlies and bought me a few items to cheer me up.  The care he provides is not like any other.

Probably one my favorite things about JT is that he LOVES his son.  I had an amazing father, one who loved us, played with us, cared for us and talked with us.  I, however, have never in ALL my life seen a father who enjoyed and doted on, yet taught his son, the way that my husband does.  Baby A is a daddy's boy.  Since the day, he was born, A and his dad have always had a very close relationship.  The first smile he gave was to his daddy.  In fact, for most of his 1st year, his favorite person was his daddy (unless he was tired or hungry). When he sees his daddy, he goes flying over to him and wraps his arms around his legs.  JT has always been great with kids, but with his kid, he is EXCELLENT.

Probably the best characteristic is JT's love for God.  JT works full time in the ministry and  to him  it's not a job.  He loves God and lives it out.  Now, we have all heard about hypocrites.  Those who do and say things in one place and act differently at another.  Well, that's not JT.  He has convictions and he holds to those, at home, at work and abroad.  He is who he is everywhere and with everyone.  JT is the real deal!

So today, I want to thank my heavenly father for going ABOVE and BEYOND my expectations in bringing me the man that is perfect for me, my husband and best friend. Thank you for one more day with him. - Rejoicing in my present  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guest Blog: Breastfeeding while Pregnant

Today, I am super thankful for the internet and the ability to find information on a variety of topics. Lately I was struggling about whether or not it was safe and doable to breastfeed while pregnant. This article was my favorite. It is from Mama Say What. - Rejoicing in the Present
It’s no secret that breastfeeding is hard work. And even for a seasoned breastfeeding-pro mama, breastfeeding while pregnant is no walk in the park.
When my daughter was a newborn, she and I definitely went through our share of bumps in the road when it came to breastfeeding— an oversupply, an undersupply, a painful latch, using nipple shields, long nights and lots of tears. I was pretty determined to breastfeed my baby though, and my husband and I worked through all of it together.
When my daughter was almost 11 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I had gotten my period back only four months postpartum and we had just recently decided to start trying again for a new baby. While we certainly didn’t expect it to happen so quickly (first try!), we were thrilled about the prospect of a second pregnancy.
I had originally planned on breastfeeding for at least six months. Clearly we had reached that goal, and I wanted to continue until she was at least a year. C’s first birthday came and went, but neither us of were ready to stop nursing.
I did some research about continuing breastfeeding while pregnant. I didn’t know anyone in real life who was able to breastfeed while pregnant— most women’s milk dries up during pregnancy. I turned to some breastfeeding websites and blogs and read about how it will probably hurt quite a bit, but that if I’m able to continue nursing, it’s completely safe for both my little girl and my new baby.
As my pregnancy progressed, I considered myself extremely lucky to continue to have such a good milk supply and not feel any pain.

Out of nowhere, nursing my little girl started to hurt— and I mean, really, really hurt. Like, first week of breastfeeding type of pain. It felt like my nipples were being cut. I was at the start of my second trimester when this began.
Then that changed. Ouch.

I stopped pumping altogether— pumping was so much more stressful and painful than actually nursing my baby and to me, it wasn’t worth it. We continued to give C milk from my frozen stash for a while until we switched almost entirely to cow’s milk for her sippy cup during the day.
I learned that in pregnancy, there really isn’t any way to stop the pain since it’s caused by pregnancy hormones. I read a few stories of other women’s experiences of breastfeeding while pregnant and I was convinced that if I just pushed through the pain for a few weeks, it’d get better and eventually go away.
Well, I was wrong. It’s very true that every woman’s experience is different, apparently. I’m currently 32.5 weeks pregnant and let me be honest with you— I’ve given up on the idea that it might stop hurting. Some days are better than others, but overall, it hurts like hell! C is now 17 months old.
For a long while in the second trimester and also still now at times in the third, nursing also caused me to have Braxton Hicks contractions. Nursing through the contractions is uncomfortable, but do-able.
I’ve contemplated stopping altogether because of the pain. My husband, who has always been our number one breastfeeding supporter, has encouraged me to wean my daughter because of it.
The biggest problem, for me, is that I don’t feel my daughter is ready to wean. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not quite ready for her to wean yet either— but I know I could handle it.
Her tears and outstretched arms and little hands signing “milk” over and over when I say no wrench my heart and tell me she’s just not ready.

We’ve cut back on nursing here and there— for the most part, C only nurses before naps and bedtime. Although she really, really wants to nurse to sleep and in the middle of the night, I try not to give in and let her.
I decided that since I’ve made it this far, I could push through the last two months.

My milk has changed and C has definitely noticed it, but I don’t think she minds. Whereas she used to nurse for ten plus minutes on each side, she now nurses only for a couple minutes on each side and switches back and forth.
In part, I don’t think it’s as much about the milk for her as it is about the security and comfort of nursing, and that’s okay because she’s still so little.
I’m hoping that C will possibly self-wean before the new baby arrives— we currently practice “don’t offer, don’t refuse” at bedtime and naptimes, but she always asks to nurse. At the very least, I’m hoping we can cut back on nursing just a little bit more before the new baby comes.
I fully plan on tandem nursing when our new baby arrives, but I hope that C will understand that the new baby must nurse first. Because your body produces colostrum with nutritional value meant for the new baby, the older child must wait until the younger one has had his or her fill. For any mom who has breastfed, you know it’s not always easy for a new baby to become full.
I write this to share my story about breastfeeding while pregnant, because so few women do. I mean it to encourage breastfeeding and not to scare newly pregnant moms.
Breastfeeding has been such a wonderful experience for me, and I know I am so blessed to be able to continue to breastfeed through my pregnancy. Although it is difficult, it’s completely worth every ounce of effort when I get time to cuddle my little girl into my arms at night and together we get to feel the new baby’s kicks.