Postpartum Depression... and a new chapter with It Works! Global




Update: I've recently shared my UPDATED story on Jennifer's Hope blog HERE.  

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If you know me well, you might have witnessed my Postpartum Depression months after my daughter Elsie was born in July of 2011.  She was a doll and so precious, but my mind was so distant and my body was weak.  There were nights I would just cry, in both sadness and anger, not at Elsie, but at myself or at my circumstances... my pity party often went like this: "Why can't I just be by myself?  I hate this "job"!  This FEELS like a "job"... I hate it!  Why am I crying again?  I need a break, NOW!"... and on and on and on.  What started as the regular "baby blues" became a true problem.  I was able to put on a front that everything was fine.  I wore a mask at church, with friends and family.  As far as people knew, nothing was wrong.  But I knew it was a problem.  It was a problem because it was affecting my relationship with Joshua (only 2 at the time), my marriage with Joel, and my relationship with Jesus, my Creator.  I felt alone, despite being surrounded by a strong church community, a strong mommy community, and good friends.  I knew something was wrong.
Time went by... I learned to live with it.  A year passed.  

When I found out I was pregnant with Noah, my biggest fear was that I would lose my mind.  So I prayed.  I told people about my fears.  I KNEW that I would need stronger accountability, support, and encouragement after this baby #3 was born.  

And Noah came into the world.  I was determined to fight my depression.  I tried to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, but when I became sleep deprived (still am!) and fatigued from chasing 2 other young children, there were days I found myself losing my mind... AGAIN.  "Lord, help me!" was my prayer... often.  And He made Himself present!  But Postpartum Depression is real.  And I know there are clinical causes/reasons for those "baby blues".  I KNOW.  I'm a trained counselor, remember?  I've walked with people who's suffered from this condition.  I KNOW.  I've experienced it.  Since I've never taken any prescription medication for it, I was hesitant to try anything.  Call it PRIDE.

Until one day, I came across these health, whole foods supplements called Greens.  



One of my mom friends was a distributor with It Works and offered to give me a sample of the Greens.  At first there was nothing magical about it.  But let me tell you... overtime, week after week, month after month... I could NOW feel the difference in my physical and emotional health.  I had energy.  I had strength for each day (and sleepless nights).  I wasn't craving junk food or needing the caffeine I couldn't have.  I had my angry moments, but they wouldn't linger anymore... and not as often as I'd expect them to come.  I  don't think it's a coincidence.  It was a gift to me!

So, when the opportunity came for me to jump on this journey as an Independent Distributor with It Works! Global, I TOOK IT!  Not because I want to get rich.  Not because I want to take on another business.  But because I BELIEVE IN THE PRODUCT!  Are you kidding?  If this Greens thing is balancing my insides with all kinds of good stuff, I want to share it with everyone I can!

The other side of this journey came a week before my decision to join.  I was sitting at my dining table paying my monthly bills.  It came time to write that dreaded check to cover my student loans payment.  Argh... those student loans that NEVER go away!  It's been almost 13 years since I graduated from college, and almost 7 since I finished graduate school... I brought this debt into my marriage and I feel responsible to pay it.  It's not fair to Joel.  I decided it was time to do something about it.  


So It Works! came to mind.  I want to be debt free!  I want to pay my student loans!  I want to make at least enough every month to cover the student loans payment I've been making since I finished grad school... since I married Joel.  I want that loan balance to go down to ZERO!  THAT IS MY GOAL!

So, whether you can identify with me and you suffered from Postpartum Depression before.  Whether you're dealing with anxiety issues, migraines, back pain,... whether it's a physical or emotional issue.  I believe It Works! might have the supplements your body is needing!


There's something for everyone!


Or maybe you want to try "that crazy wrap thing"!  You can experience tightening, toning and firming in as little as 45 minutes!  


It's crazy!  I've been wrapped once and here are my results!

Maybe you've heard of these products.  Maybe you're thinking It Works is only about those "crazy wraps".  But I'm here to tell you that It Works has been MORE than that for me!  It's seriously given me the sanity I need to care for baby # 3... yes, the one who just turned 4 months and has yet to sleep through the night.  I feel healthy.  I experience joy.  It's not easy.  But I feel physically healthy and able!

If you're ready to take that step and try It Works, LET ME HELP YOU!

Visit my It Works! Global Website HERE.  

Become a Loyal Customer!  


I am actually looking for at least 4 Loyal Customer during my first 30 days!  Can I count on some of you?  Loyal Customers can get wholesale/distributor price on all products, get 10% in perk points (which can be used to get more products), free shipping after your 4th month, and the $50 membership fee waived!  

Please watch this video here to get more detailed information on the Loyal Customer Program!!!

OR, if you're ready to JOIN MY TEAM and become a Distributor yourself, LET'S DO IT!  I'm looking for 3 other friendly faces to JOIN ME in reaching my goal to pay off my student loans!  I need you!!!!



Again, visit my website at www.helengentz.myitworks.com!

I'm excited about this new chapter with It Works! 

Not afraid to say it...




Yup, I failed!
BIG TIME!
I started this month with the ambitious goal of blogging daily for the entire month of February.
Ha...
Day 21... haven't blogged since... Saturday, February 15?  
That was almost a week ago!
BUT, this whole 28-Day Writing Challenge just made me realize that I'm a person who truly needs to set more goals for my life.  Just in general.  I need to be a person who challenges myself.  Set goals.  Big goals.  Small goals.  Goals in general.
I've realized I need to take a closer look at my life, sit down, and come up with a few GOALS.
This will be my challenge for the next few days and weeks.
Beginning with this...
Blogging is not a chore.  Writing is hobby.  And enjoying a hobby should be my goal.
So, thank you for those who are still reading, those who hung in there with me.... and to those who will continue to stick with me despite my "failure".  
You'll hear from me, SOON.  
Don't worry!

Ohio bound...




Blogging from the road tonight... OH bound and excited to see some friends! Unfortunately I failed to bring the laptop and I can't seem to enjoy typing on the phone.... so, taking the evening off from my 28-day writing challenge...

See you soon!

Have a blessed weekend!

Daughter





Dear daughter Elsie,

On this Valentine's Day, I want to tell you how much you're LOVED and cherished!  
You bring so much joy to this mama's heart!  
There isn't a day that goes by on this earth that I don't thank God and pray for you.
Your smile makes me smile.
Your spirit warms my heart.
Your spunk for life, the dancing, singing, jumping for joy, and raising of your hands in excitement...
... and even the naughty, whinny, and defiant moments.  All of you... I praise God for your life in mine.
Your bright brown eyes, your fine brown hair, and your girly toes.
The way you sing and speak...
Your sharp memory for books and story lines...
The way you hold that microphone, spin, and sing your favorite songs!
Your half-turn somersaults, 
Your messy demeanor at the dining table,
Your "I do it myself!" attitude.
I LOVE YOU, daughter!


I pray that Christ would be your only valentine...
... the one you search, find, and fall in love with.
May you receive the gift from God that the world cannot offer you.
Grace.
May Jesus grant you joy and spare you of unnecessary hurts.
But if you find yourself crying, heartbroken or in mourning
May He turn those moments into dancing!

My dearest daughter...
My hope and wish for you, is that you become a young lady who loves the Lord, loves your family, and lives to serve your neighbors.  
May your heart and passions pursue the things of God.
And I pray that as you find joy in your pursuit, you would grow to be an AMAZING woman of God!

Be kind.
Always say thank you.
Love your brothers.
Respect your Daddy.
I LOVE YOU, daughter!
Happy Valentine's day!


From Joy's Hope blog
I love this sweet tune...  if you have a daughter, a sister, a mother... check this catchy little tune!  
Elsie... this is for you, daughter!
Mommy loves you!


#throwbackthursday







9.26.97
Dear daughter Helen

Happy birthday.  20 years ago you came to be a part of my and your mother's lives.  You brought much joy, surprises and hope.
Your life has been a blessing to us.  You grew, developed your personality and continue to grow to be that person that God has purposed since before your birth.
Your godly character, your faith and convictions are precious and I hope they can be developed in their plenitude from here on out, now being influenced by professors and new friends here on the SPU campus, where God allowed you to come and study.
Here at SPU you begin a new chapter in your life, now focusing on your professional formation.
Always look to develop your Christian life and character, being very near to our Lord Jesus, daily.  Look for good Christian friendships, with those who are really committed to the Lord.  May God give you wisdom in this and in your studies.  I am and will be praying for you, and will do whatever is possible for you to be able to study and succeed in all you do.
Remember that your dedication and sacrifice now will bring benefits for the rest of your life.  Therefore, together let's make this effort!  And when you finish your academic college formation, may we rejoice and praise the Lord for all that He will certainly provide, especially in the spiritual, academic and financial areas of your life.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"  Ephesians 3:20

Remember that we'll be praying for you, and will be with you in every moment.  Not only us, but above all, God will be with you in whatever moment of your life, especially during your moments of difficulty.
Psalm 46 and Psalm 121.  Proverbs 3:1-8

May you feel God's blessings daily, which are made new every morning.  May He give you physical health for all your daily activities.

God bless you richly.

With love.

your dad,
      Makoto Ono
9.26.97 @ SPU

"Someone I Miss" - Day 13 of 28-Day Writing Challenge

10 Ways To Win My Heart




Joshua's preschool class had a Valentine's party today.
It was so cute to see him get excited about getting simple little valentines, candy, pink pencils, and more candy!  I picked him up from school and he was quick to describe his most favorite valentine... a castle-shaped pink sucker.  Yup.  He said, "I want to show it to you, Mommy... but you have to close your eyes because it's gonna be a surprise!"  His excitement made me think and wonder, "Helen, what gets you THIS excited?"  
I know I've been posting a lot of different lists lately.  And honestly, it's one of the best ways I am able to express my likes/dislikes.  So today, you're in for another LIST.  These are not in any particular order.  And this is definitely not a "hint" for anyone out there trying to warm my heart with a cute little valentine.  

Ways to Win My Heart
1.  Write me a note.  Randomly.  For no reason or occasion.
2.  My children's smiles when they first wake up in the morning.
3.  Coffee.  Chai Lattes.  Tea (brewed just the right way...)
4.  Dark chocolate.
5.  Kindness.  Pure kindness.
6.  Pretty skirts.
7.  Blessing of friends who carry me through the daily routines, not just the special circumstances.
8.  Watching people worship... it warms my heart like no other.
9.  Create ways for quality time.
10.  Tell me what God's been doing in your life.


Something Unusual - A 5-Minute Moment




Confession time.
I am starting this post without having ANY idea what to write about.
The unusual thing about this is that I often have at least a vague idea on what I want to put on paper, well, on screen.  But today, I'm free-flowing and filling this grand blank space on my screen with random words.
We'll see what happens.
I'm totally "neglecting" the little voices behind me right now.  I got 3 of them, all in the same room, watching good ol' Curious George!  Ahh... those sounds make me happy.  Not the monkey, but the little voices.  Almost like they're talking to each other.  Believe me... they're not!
So, before baby #3 starts fussing, let me keep typing.
Have you ever found yourself deep in thought, all without realizing that time is flying?
No, do not delete that last sentence.  Even if it made no sense.
Tell me the last time you cheered really loudly.
Tell me the last time you cried.
Tell me the last time you prayed so hard for someone, that your knees got tired and your carpet soaked with tears... real tears.
Tell me the last time you felt truly confused.
All of those questions, I could be asking myself.
Nevermind...  baby's fussing.
Gotta go!
Truly unusual, indeed.

Winter




My writing challenge topic for today was "The Weather".
I can honestly go on and on about this Winter... how it's been one of the coldest, snowest (is that a word... it is now!), windiest, and freezing Winter I've experienced in my lifetime.  
Several feet of snow rest outside my doors.
We literally walk through the "opened Red Sea" of white snow on our way to the church next door.
There's been close to 10 snow days (and 2-hr delays) at Joshua's school since the New Year's.
Cancelled church services twice in January.
Cabin Fever is an official state at our household... for ALL of us!
... and on and on and on....  

But the weather means more than just the temperature on the thermometer gauge, or the appearance of rain, sunshine, snow, or wind in the atmosphere.  It's more than what separates the south, the coasts, or the plains of the midwest.  When I think of the weather, I'm reminded of how fleeting, passing, and transitory the moments in my life can be.  One day can be bright and sunny, others can be overcast and rainy.  Stormy days.  Warm days.  Stuffy days.  Wet days. Dry days.  Dark days.  Breezy days.  And even crazy days... when its an "all of the above" type of days.  

The beauty of the created Seasons can reflect the natural order of my life and yours.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God "has made everything beautiful in its time."  Beautiful.  Everything.  Beautiful.  In their own time, EVERYTHING created can own the beauty of their Creator.  Eccleasiastes 3 also states that "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."  Life, death, planting, harvesting, mourning, laughter, silence, speech, war and peace.  The Lord is in control.  Through it all.  In all.

I'm also reminded that Winter prepares us for Spring.  Did you know that a good Winter frost is exactly what farmers want for a good crop and harvest?  The snow prepares our fields for living fruit.  A good crop NEEDS a good frost.  I remember a couple of years ago when I learned about how farming is truly dependent on the perfect weather.  If it's too dry, too wet, too windy, or too of anything, "something" in the crop suffers.  But in all of this, God is in control.  He owns the land, does He not?

And the same goes for our spiritual state.  We all sin.  We live.  We die.  And on this side of heaven, that's all we really deserve.  We would be condemned to die if it's not for God's grace and Christ's unconditional love and sacrifice on the cross for you and me.  The only way to truly LIVE is through accepting this gift of salvation in Christ, and turning away from darkness.  And that's what Winter does to Spring!  One of my FAVORITE SONGS OF ALL TIME (yes... I'm NOT exaggerating here!) is "Every Season" by Nichole Nordeman.  I heard Nichole perform this song LIVE in Seattle... and I will never forget the lyrics of this beautiful song.  It goes like this:

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

I absolutely LOVE the idea that in EVERY SEASON, God is at work, even if undercover.  Every season has a purpose.  And "even in death", God opens doors for life to enter!  Through Christ's death on the cross, He opened doors for me (and YOU) to experience life and life abundant!  THAT is beautiful!  Winter opens doors for life to enter in the Spring!  THAT is beautiful!  I can never see Winter the same way again.  I look forward to Spring.  And Spring... Summer.  And Summer... Autumn.  

So, talk about the Weather?  Sure!  I can go on and on and on.  But finding meaning in the Seasons of my life is much more beautiful.  Seeing His hand at work during every moment... THAT is beautiful!

Can YOU find beauty in everything that surrounds you?  Can YOU find meaning for each season in your life?  There IS a time for every activity under the heavens.  And that includes this year's harsh Winter.  If that's what it takes for LIFE to enter in a few weeks...  I'll take it!  


My Favorite Thing To Do Right Now




Reading.
I look forward to it.
I shared about it before... but READING = BREATHING to me these days.
I need it.  It refreshes me.  I enjoy it.  
There's nothing like taking a deep breath after a stressful and busy day, sitting down on a comfy chair/bed/corner, picking up a book (or reader), and engaging my mind on a story line, wisdom sharing, or more importantly, on Scripture.
Reading.
I enjoy focusing on someone else's words.  Their train of thought.  Their wisdom.
I enjoy the turning of pages.
It brings me true satisfaction when I finish a chapter, a section, an entire book.
My dad once told me that when I was younger, I used to read all the signs on the street, on billboards, on store fronts, whenever I was riding in the car.
I still do that.
I read signs.  Billboards.  Store fronts.
Reading.

My current reading list:
1.  Jesus Calling - by Sarah Young.
2.  Unfailing Love - A Woman's Walk Through 1 John. - by Karol Ladd.
3.  Unglued - by Lysa Terkeurst.
4.  She Did What She Could - by Elisa Morgan. (on my queue)
5.  The Prayer of the Lord - by R.C. Sproul (on my queue)
6.  Bible - ESV (English Standard Version)

Lately for me, there's nothing like a quiet house, early morning (or late night), a cup of coffee or tea, and a book.  That's my favorite thing to do right now.  Unfortunately this above scenario is a rarity around here.  But I still make time at the end of my day to pick up my Bible and a good book.  

What are YOU reading right now?  


A Bucket List?




A simple list.


5 things from my Bucket List.
Well, it should be simple, right?  
But up until I sat down this evening, I honestly did not even have an official Bucket List.
However, there are a few things I KNOW I want to do in my life time.

1.  See my children come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
2.  Go to Israel.
3.  Travel to England and Thailand (is that one or two items?)
4.  Sew my own outfit (a dress, pants, shirt, or skirts)
5.  Own a fabric store.

Yup... a simple list!

What's on YOUR Bucket List?

Siblings




YES!

Day 7 of my 28-Day Writing Challenge is all about my SIBLINGS.
I get to introduce you to 3 of the most important people in my life.
We grew up together... moved together... shared laughs together... grieved... and embraced changes together.

My baby brother Lucas...
Oh... Lucas... I love this boy more than words on a screen can describe.
We've lived apart more than we've lived together.  I've moved out, you've moved away (multiple times), but I know you continue to pursue the path that God paved for you.  
Lucas is bright.  He's ambitious.  Talented.  Kindhearted.  
He's loyal to his friends, family, and God.
And by the way... the first in my family to ever meet Joel and "approve" of my crush :)
Lucas and his babies... Maya and Logan.
My brother Steven...
The talented brother who can sing and play a million instruments.  
The one I envy for still living in the Pacific Northwest.  
Married to the beautiful Lindsey!
Big heart for God and people.
I am SO proud to be called your big sister.  
Ah... Steven... the one who got lost at the beach... the one I pulled out of a pool (still breathing, thank God!)... the one I introduced to SPU as a freshmen and now calls Seattle his home (yup, still envious here)!
Steven on his wedding day, 2011
And my big sister Shirley.
Friend.  
The one I look up to.
The one I trust.
The one I miss... 
... and pray for daily.
Despite years of living apart, SHE. KNOWS. ME.
We shared experiences.  Memories.  Outfits.  
Shirley is level-headed.  Creative.  Demanding.  Loving.  A women who symbolizes INTEGRITY.
Married to Stephen... the caring, loving, and responsible man I prayed would be my sister's life partner.
Auntie Shirley with baby Noah, 2013
We might not share the same likes/dislikes, weather, distinct beliefs, tastes or zip code, but we're all one in spirit because we love and serve Jesus.  
I miss you all!  

An oldie, but goodie... circa 2004

Living Vicariously in Scotland




You guys are in for a TREAT today!
I want to introduce you to one of MY FAVORITE ladies...  
Meet Alison...

Alison is the soul and beauty behind one of the blogs I read religiously... 
the Chino House blog!  
Oh... My... Goodness...
There is so much life, love, character, spirit, beauty, yummyness, and adventure in her posts.
Oh... and did I mention she has one of the most BEAUTIFUL children in the world?

Ok... let me go back a few years (well, wouldn't say a few... it's more like... a decade and a few). 
I have to confess I don't remember all the details.  
I was living in Seattle when Alison and her husband Taido were serving at Chinese Baptist Church, where many of my close friends attended.  I'm not sure how it all happened, but one day I was asked to babysit their children, along with a dear friend, Jermaine.  Not sure why, but one of those odd things I remember is that they didn't have a dining table... they were too cool and had a picnic-like table in their dining area!  How cool is that!  The kids that night were a blast!  I remember watching a movie while laying on pillows on the floor, then watching the kids jump on their beds right before 'lights out'!  :)  They were young and probably don't even remember that night!

Fast forward a few more years...  I find myself in grad school at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where Taido had gotten his graduate degree as well.  I think he was one of the silent reasons why I even considered going to TEDS, and I don't regret his quiet influence in my decision to walk on that campus.  Thanks, Taido!

Alison's example of a loving wife, creative mom, faithful friend, beautiful spirit, and DEEP LOVE for Jesus are just some of the reasons why I admire this lady.  She might not even know she has a "fan" living in the country roads of Indiana, but she truly represents the organic version of someone I look up to.  

At the end of last year, Alison and her family moved to Scotland!  
Wow!  
Another one of those surreal events in someone's life.
To make a long story, short, Taido is getting another one of those crazy theology degrees at a prestigious Scottish school... Taido, you're my hero!  The journey that led them to Scotland is one of those book-worthy, sermon illustration-worthy, God's divine intervention and direction-type of counts.  Yup... AH-MAZING!  Truly, God's hand at work!  

Okay, but this post is about Alison, so, let me stick to why she's the one I'm choosing to write about today.
This past week, Alison blogged about her dark days of depression.  
Depression.
The word that I often try so hard to avoid.
The part of my past (and sometimes present) that I resent.  I don't like it.
It's dark.
It's sad,
It's angry.
It's demanding.
But Alison managed to call it for what it is... Walking In The Dark.
It disguises the light, hides the truth, and creates a false image of what we want to portray instead.
When I read the honest description of her reality, I was able to identify with her struggle, and realized how much more alike than different we really are.  Instead of looking up to this amazing woman, for the first time I saw myself IN her. 

I guess moving to a different country has a way of shaking the core of someone's existence.  
When I first heard that the Chino's were packing their bags to relocate to Scotland, I thought about my own family.  I was 15 when my dad was invited to attend seminary in the US.  Growing up in Brazil, going to America was only a reality to those who "could".  So, moving to the US was a dream come true for me... for my dad, for all of us.  So... just like Taido and Alison, my dad and mom took their 4 children and headed to Southern California (a post for another day!).  I LOVED the newness of everything!  The new sights, the food, the smells, the weather, the culture.  But I missed my friends, relatives, my church.  Can I even begin to imagine how the Chino children feel?  Maybe... but I can't wait to see, read, and hear about what God is and will continue to do in their lives.

So, have I convinced you to give Alison some of your love, yet?

If not... can I suggest you check out her recipes?  Granola, soups, muffins, salads, anything with chocolate, yummm!!  I could live and die happy if I had someone cook one of each one of her recipes for the rest of my days.  Ok... I'm totally exaggerating!  But, seriously!  So good!

And what about the fact that this lady inspired me to pursue my READING hobby more seriously?  I once asked her how she managed to read so many books... and her answer... she just does.  She makes time.  She looks forward to.  So that's why READING is now breathing to me.  I need it and love it!  Thank you, Alison!  For your example, joy, and spirit.

Go check out the Chino House and tell her I said hello.  

Introspection




Day 5 of my 28-Day Writing Challenge.
3 things I like about my personality...
Really?  That's an actual topic I need to write about?  Really?
Hmmm, how would I begin to describe my personality? 
That's one of those questions you ask someone else to write about you... 
But, here I am...
Introspection requires deeper thinking than I'm willing to do this afternoon.
Baby is sleeping (and can wake up at any moment!), so... MUST-WRITE-FAST!
So, here it is...
1.  Calm during the storms.
2.  Slow to judge.
3.  Inviting.
There!  
Whether or not this is accurate, YOU tell me!  
I'm gonna go out on the limb and ask YOU... how would YOU describe my personality?  And if you respond/comment, I might do the same and describe YOUR personality (if you want me to, of course!)

See you tomorrow!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law."  
Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Spirit Pink Shirt 


A prayer for Joel





Dear God,
Thank you for bringing this man into this world... some 30-some years ago.
Thank you for bringing him into my life.
Thank you for blessing him with the breath of life...
...and gifting him with the gift of Life.
For Your presence in his life...
... and his presence in mine.
Thank you for his love for You.
... and his love for me.
Thank you for blessing him with a love for people, Your church, this land, and even his machines :)
I'm thankful for this farm boy, preacher man named Joel.
May You continue to bless him with health, strength and joy.
May Joel's character and heart reflect You in him.
Increase more and more his love for 
Your Word,
Your people,
his children,
and me.
May he continue to faithfully serve You.
May he continue to faithfully love his family.
And may he continue to faithfully respond to his calling and purpose.
In Your name,
Amen.

Happy birthday, babe! :)

The Beauty in My Every Day





This morning I woke up and DECIDED it would be a b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l day!
My commute to the car shop (van's going in for a recall check/repair) was God's gift to me.
I saw what appeared to me the epitome of Winter Wonderland.
The trees were covered with snow.  
The snow extended and covered the fields for miles... miles!
And I praised God for the warm sunshine hitting my windshield.
The thermometer showed 1 degree outside!  Brrrr... that's cold!
But for some reason it was beautiful.  
It IS beautiful!

Why is it so hard to see the beauty in our every day lives?  
Are we THAT busy that we can't stop to "smell the roses"?  
I much more appreciate the smell of coffee... but that's not the point.  
The point is...
If I were to describe my day in detail, would I take the time to describe what's beautiful around me?  Or would I merely describe the routine, the negative, the chores, the sighs, the cold moments of my day?  
What about the sights?  The smells?  The breaths?  The beating of healthy heart?
The sunshine... melting snow... bright blue skies.
So today I DECIDED to focus on what's b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l!

How is YOUR day today?

Expecting Miracles Through Prayer




Day 2 of my 28-Day Writing Challenge...
Something I'm looking forward to in the next 12 months.

To be honest, an easy answer would be to go on vacation, read 60+ books, organize my attic and sewing/crafting room, potty train Elsie (wait, I really DO need to work on that!), or focus on building my Etsy shop.  
Despite my desire to see those things come true, what I'm REALLY and TRULY desiring to see happen this year is MIRACLES.  
I WANT to experience God's miracles in my life, today, tomorrow, and the next day.
I've committed this entire year to spending more time in prayer.  Daily prayer for my children.  Daily prayer for Joel.  More consistent prayer for my family, friends, and neighbors.  
This morning Joel preached about this exact same topic of intercessory prayer.  

"Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant."  Genesis 25:21

Isaac knew of God's promise to his father Abraham, and interceded for his wife Rebekah due to her barrenness.  And God answered his prayers...  Rebekah conceived an bore twins, Esau and Jacob.  Wow.  A MIRACLE.  Yes, God's provision and His faithfulness shown through an answered prayer.  

I WANT to know that God is answering my prayers.  
I WANT to experience those miracles.
So... if I don't ask, if I don't seek, and if I'm not willing to intercede and stand in the gap for those needing those miracles, how can I expect to see and experience miracles in my life today?

So, you must be asking yourself.  How is she spending more time in prayer?  How does she find time to pray daily for all of those people and things in her life?  NOT easy, I confess.  But it's been a conscious realization that my relationship with God is only alive when I talk to Him.  I invite Him into my day by acknowledging His presence.  I thank Him.  I ask Him for strength.  I ask Him for patience.  I share with Him my frustrations and my supplications.  Prayer isn't planned or scheduled.  It's not structured.  I don't get on my knees (even though I do that sometimes), or lock myself in the closet.  I. Just. Speak.  I cry out.  I'm aware of His presence and it makes the world of difference knowing that He's here with me during every waking moment of my day.  Wow!  But no, it's NOT easy.  

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming?  Or... what about those thoughts you have when you're doing the dishes, showering, cleaning, nursing the baby?  Those are the times I'm trying to keep my thoughts captive and consciously make time for prayer.  If I find myself thinking about my sister in England, I take that exact moment to pray for her.  When I find myself thinking about my son and wondering how he might be doing at school, I stop and pray about him and his teachers.  When I'm nursing my baby Noah, I try not to let my thoughts wander off to what I "could" be doing instead, but I intentionally intercede on his behalf, as he isn't able to do it for himself at such a young age.  Get it?  It's NOT easy.  But not impossible.  

Jesus said in Matthew 7:6-8: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  So... that is why I'm asking.  I'm asking and wanting to see miracles.  

And this... "You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive,because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  James 4:2b-3.  

So...  are you wanting to see God work in your life?  Are you wanting to experience change?  Do you want to see the miracles you're praying for in you and in those around you?  Are you asking God to move?  

Hmmm... just some thoughts.