Infertility – Letting Go Of The Shame

A trip to the mall.  A stop at the grocery store.  A dinner out.  Simple, every day tasks.

Unless you struggle with infertility.

Then these “simple” activities can turn into painful and challenging events.  And sometimes even make you feel shameful.

I’m not just saying this as someone who has heard a lot about infertility or has friends that have dealt with it.

photo credit: morefertile.com

photo credit: morefertile.com

I’ve been thereReally been there.  I’ve had to say no to invites from friends that were expecting because I just couldn’t be around them.  I’ve had to try to put a smile on my face while listening to someone talk about how they were upset that they found out they got pregnant again without trying.  I’ve had to excuse myself from conversations about how overjoyed someone is to be done having kids.

In addition to the hurt I’ve also felt the shame.  The shame of being different and feeling like I don’t fit in.  The shame of having a body that doesn’t work right.  The shame of not feeling like a true woman.

But there is one more aspect of my struggle with infertility that has made me feel the most shame.  The path I chose to deal with it.

In 2006 I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist.  It led me down a path of a variety of fertility drugs and treatments.  After various attempts and a diagnosis of both male and female factor infertility, my husband and I proceeded with in-vitro fertilization.

We were very blessed that I got pregnant on the first try.  And now I have a beautiful, smart, creative little girl who just turned 5.

But the journey was far from over.  In early 2010 I was first starting to learn about real food and natural health…while in the midst of trying for another child.  I had already been through two failed attempts via IVF.  And was in the middle of a third.

As I learned more and more about real food I became more and more hopeful.  Maybe I could heal my body and restore my fertility without all of the medications and procedures.  Maybe.

photo credit: powerhealths.com

photo credit: powerhealths.com

I went on to do 3 more IVF transfers.  And after a lot of heart-break and physical endurance I now have a wonderful son who is just about to turn 2.

I was overjoyed when I got to this point.  I was opening up and sharing my story in hopes of giving others hope.  But I didn’t expect what came from sharing my story…more shame.

In the world of real food and natural health, saying that you conceived via IVF is kind of like saying you feed your kids fast food and candy bars every day for lunch.  I got some nasty remarks and questions.  How could I promote a natural lifestyle and support “unnatural” fertility treatments at the same time?

I’ve thought and prayed about it a lot.  I’ve felt the shame…and I’ve let go of the shame.

Although I fully support natural means of improving fertility and health,  I also know that this was my path.  I started my journey with infertility before I even knew what real food was.  I’ve also learned that real food doesn’t always work.  It really can help most of the time.  But sometimes no matter how hard you try there are things that you can’t change.

No matter how many raw egg yolks and plates of liver I eat, no matter how much raw milk I drink, no matter how many detox baths I take, no matter how many supplements or vitamins or herbs I take, no matter how much yoga I do or how much sleep I get…my fertility status will not likely change.

I have a condition called polyfollicular ovaries.  And to this day I’ve never heard of any real food remedy for it.  I’ve never found any research that explains what causes this or how to treat it (aside from working around it with IVF).  I don’t know what hormones control it.  The only solution I know of is time…some day when my egg supply diminishes my body will hopefully work normally.  It could be tomorrow.  It could be when I’m 45.

But I still deserve to be a mother.  God created my children and gave them to me.  Not a doctor.  Not a pill.

I don’t know what is going on inside my body.  But I do know that I don’t have to be ashamed.  This is the way God made me.  I didn’t cause this.  I’m not eating the wrong food.  I’m not lacking in effort to give my body the nourishment it needs.  I am fully supportive of natural fertility, health and healing.  I strive each day to keep my own family healthy.

But I also know that sometimes things don’t go the way we would like.  And sometimes we have to let go of our ideal situation.

If you’ve struggled with infertility please don’t be ashamed.  You are still just as complete and worthy as any other woman.  No matter what road you’ve been down know that you are right where you need to be.  Be kind to yourself.  Accept yourself.  Let go of the shame.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Get informed.  Be aware.  Never be ashamed or make anyone else feel ashamed.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Cookies: More Than Just A Christmas Tradition

When I was little I loved to sit in the kitchen while my mom baked.  I could just watch for hours.  She always had something delicious coming out of the oven, and I loved to see the process.

As soon as I could I wanted to join in the fun and start baking myself.  Whether it was rolling pie dough, frosting a cake or adding chocolate chips to the cookies it made me feel like I was helping and connecting with my mother…sharing one of her passions.

This was especially true at Christmas time.  Every year we made traditional Christmas cut out cookies.  Usually mom would make the dough and the kids got to roll, cut and decorate the cookies.

Sometimes all four of us helped.  And sometimes it was just me.  I would take on the challenge of decorating all of the cookies by myself if nobody else wanted to help.  If there was any way I could participate in the baking I would.

Thanks to my mom to this day I have a passion for baking (and writing about food and nutrition).  I am happy to be passing that passion on to my own children.  I am a firm believer in getting your kids in the kitchen from a very young age.  And what easier way to start than by making cookies?

You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to have them help.  My daughter helped me with her first batch of Christmas cookies before she was one!  And she has loved our countless hours together in the kitchen ever since.

Now she is four and is a bit more help.  It is so fun to watch her progress every year in her decorating skills from haphazard sprinkling to careful placement of chocolate chips for eyes on a snowman.

Don’t let gender get in the way of your baking fun, either.  My one year old son already has a passion for baking.  He begs to bake every single day almost as soon as he gets out of bed.  Which is how we ended up making our first batch of Christmas cookies this year just a few days after Thanksgiving.

Making Christmas cookies is a tradition I had with my mom and one that I now have with my kids.  But it’s not just a tradition.  It’s a way for us to spend time together.  It’s a way for them to learn some basic baking skills.  It’s a way for them to feel helpful and needed.  And it’s a way for me to teach them about homemade, real food.

The look and taste of our cookies have changed over the years along with our view on health and nutrition.  No more bleached flour and margarine cookies.  We use real ingredients and make our own frosting.  We’re still working on replacing those lovely sprinkles.  But regardless of the ingredients our tradition stays the same.

Spend some time in the kitchen with your kids this Christmas.  Let them make a mess.  Let them have fun.  Let them be creative.

Maybe you’ll spark a passion in them for baking.  Maybe not.  But you’ll definitely make some lasting memories and have an opportunity to connect with your children.  Making Christmas cookies together is a great Christmas tradition…eating them is a fun one too.

Worried about creating unhealthy habits by baking treats?  Have no fear.  Feed your kids real, nourishing food from the start and they will develop a taste for healthy food.  My son was grain and sugar free until he turned one.  Now at 19 months I can’t even get him to taste a bite of anything we bake.

Even if your kids do enjoy the treats it’s a great opportunity to teach them about moderation and the importance of nourishing foods.

What Christmas traditions do you have?  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe for Christmas?  How do you get your kids in the kitchen and teach them about real food?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Facing the Holidays

Few of us can escape the holiday season without feeling a bit worried, anxious, or stressed. The demands to perform perfectly and deliver exceptionally can be overwhelming.

What’s interesting is that according to Dr. Stephen Ruppenthal, the top five stress triggers are finances, health, family, weather, and loneliness.  All of these experiences are snowballed into the next  two months as we approach Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.

Whether we realize it or not, stress not only complicates life, but it has a far greater effect on your health as well. Feeling stressed out instantly releases a cascade of hormones throughout the body. One of them being cortisol, which causes you to over eat and store excess energy as fat rather than expend it. Those same hormones also lower your immune response against disease.

For decades, stress management wasn’t part of most health practitioners toolkit because its effects were thought to be mostly psychological.  That’s beginning to change. Recent studies show that even negative emotions (like stress) are a precursor to cardiovascular dysfunction and disease. Are we writing our own prescription for poor health?

 

Stop Stress in its Tracks

When stress is at its peak, it can be difficult to stop and regroup. So what do you do? Lock the front doors and eat turkey in the dark?  Certainly not.

The best way to handle stressful situations is to prepare yourself in advance. There are plenty of resources that talk about ways to reduce stress but you can’t always say “no” to grandma and you can’t escape to meditate in the middle of a holiday dinner either. Perhaps the best way to manage holiday stress is to simply understand the temporary nature of it all.

Below are three practical ways you can pause and try to understand the circumstance – while keeping stress hormones in check.

1. Look Ahead into the Future

When you are overwhelmed  by the day look into the future. Three, six, nine months from now ask yourself will it really matter?

2. Take a Wider View

Are you seeing the entire picture? Try to not have a narrow mind when there is a room full of people with different backgrounds and stories. In a conversation that is polarizing try to understand each other rather than proving points.

3. Change Perspective

Walk into the next two months knowing the real meaning of the holidays. Be thankful for the small pleasures in life.  Celebrate generously by giving more of your time than your money. Appreciate the peace when you find it, even in the small moments.

 

Words of Wisdom

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” ― Thomas Merton

Tomas Merton said it perfectly. Lead with love this holiday season and try to see things from a larger, healthier perspective.

What ways have you found to manage the stressful season ahead? Feel free to share your success stories in keeping your health and relationships at their best this busy time of year by leaving a comment below.

Thankful At Every Age

We are all busy.  We all get stressed, anxious and worn out, especially around the holidays.  There are parties, kids, meals, work, errands, etc.

Add to an already crazy life the onset of colds and flu, homework and school schedules and attempting to keep your holiday festivities full of real, healthy food.  I’m guilty myself of trying to do too much and then feeling overwhelmed.  A negative attitude sets in and life gets even tougher.

This year I want to make our holidays different.  What if instead of trying to take on the world we simply stop and give thanks?

This is a great lesson to teach your children.  We can and should be thankful at every age.

I took a moment recently to sit down with my four-year old daughter to find out what she’s thankful for.  She made her own thankful list (as you can see).  Then I did the same.

It was a great exercise to do together.  And it made me smile to see that our lists were quite similar.  Right down to being thankful for ice cream.

Focusing on what we have instead of what we want or what is going wrong is wonderful at Thanksgiving.  But it shouldn’t stop there.

Try focusing on being thankful when you’re making your Christmas lists or buying presents.  Try focusing on being thankful when the little ones are sick and you’re not sure you can manage one more sleepless night.

photo courtesy of my daughter

Try focusing on being thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is a great habit that will impact your whole day and have a positive influence on your children and everyone around you.

It doesn’t cost money.  It doesn’t take much time.  It doesn’t involve a change in your diet.  It is not complicated.

But it can help you lead a happier and healthier life.

Take a moment today to think about, talk about or write about what you’re thankful for.  You may be surprised by how blessed you really are and how much joy there is in your life that you’ve been overlooking.

Start with some of the big things like family, friends, a good job.  Then every day start focusing on the little things like a healthy home cooked meal or a refrigerator stocked with farm fresh eggs or a hug and kiss from your spouse and kids.

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of each day.  This holiday season challenge yourself to truly be thankful.  Then teach your children to do the same.  It’s a healthy habit that can be done at any age.

What are some of the little things you’re thankful for?  How do you focus your family’s attention on being thankful instead of always wanting around the holidays and throughout the year?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Kids are Like Ice Cream

Ice Cream Sundae

photo credit: 9918311@N02

Sometimes being a stay at home mom is like eating ice cream that has a little frost bite on it. You really love the ice cream so you keep eating it, but those little pieces find their way onto your spoon every now and again. It doesn’t make you stop eating it, since you love it so, but it does put a sour taste in your mouth once in a while.

And if you don’t like ice cream (*gasp!*), let me explain.

As stay at home moms, we love our children. We would do anything for them. But there are days, weeks, even months, that can really beat us down. The kids aren’t sleeping well, they’re sick, you’re sick, they test you to see what you’ll let them get away with. Everyday. Leaving us drained of energy, our minds in a mental fog.

Like with any full-time job, there are days were you wish you could just quit. Not indefinitely of course, just for that one day. I definitely had my share of those while working a 9-5. A demanding boss, ungrateful customers, coworkers that were out to make your life miserable, and ledger books that weren’t balancing. And we would go through super busy periods that left me drained at the end of the night.

Not so different from being at home actually.

Who can be more demanding than a toddler, or more ungrateful than a child who doesn’t like what you’ve made for dinner. Some days, it does seem like it’s our children’s goal to drive us crazy! And then there are always the books (or budget) that don’t seem to want to balance. Especially now in this “tougher economic time”. Some days are so busy you seem to have no more energy left to give to your husband. Or yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly and passionately believe that God has called me to stay at home with my family. Taking care of my husband, my children, and my home. It’s important for me to support my husband by making sure he has what he needs to get through his day. Teaching and training my children is high on my priority list as well. Not only teaching basic household chores and actual academics, but also teaching them about the Lord we serve. It seems a large undertaking some days but, when all is said and done, I hope to look back on my life and consider this my greatest work.

So what happens when your stuck in a funk? Just going through the motions? You know the feeling. Things get done, dinner gets on the table, the children are clothed, but you’ve lost your passion. You’ve lost your ability to truly enjoy being at home. And while you know the reason you do what you do, you just feel like something is missing, something just isn’t right.

  • First and foremost, you need to know that this happens to all women. In every stage of life. I haven’t met a mom yet who hasn’t gone through a rough period. Even the best of moms can have times where they lose their focus! And it’s okay. We have not been called to be perfect.
  • Spend time with God every day. Just you and you alone. Preferably before your little ones wake up. And why before? There really is no better way to start the day than refreshed and renewed.
  • Get up before everyone else. I never understood why my mom always got up early when she didn’t have to. We were homeschooled and had no bus to catch, and rarely did we have to be somewhere at sunrise. But every morning, there she was, sipping her cocoa and enjoying the news. I completely understand it now. While I would much rather stay up late and get to sleep in, I get up with my husband at 6:00 every morning to see him off to work. Then I normally have about an hour or so to myself. (sometimes I’m lucky and get two!) This time is pivotal in me keeping my sanity. I’m able to do my devotions, drink a nice hot cup of cocoa or tea, and do something I enjoy. Just try waking up an hour before everyone else for a few weeks. Take a shower while the house is still quiet, spend time reading a book or doing something you love. When your kids wake up and the house is all a bustle, you’ll be ready for it.
  • You also need to treat your job like a job, because that is really what homemaking is. Set a schedule for yourself, organize your own life. I tend to focus on my toddlers schedule so much so that I forget about the little things that I need to do. Take a moment to plan out your week. Plan your meals so you never have that “what’s for dinner?” feeling at 4:00. If you really love organizing, plan out different laundry or cleaning days. Sometimes it may feel like over planning, and maybe it is, but a job outside the home has all sorts of schedules and deadlines, why shouldn’t your house? Get your little ones on a basic (not rigid) schedule, it’ll make their lives easier as well!
  • Make sure you are nourishing your body. In order to keep up with all of the physical, mental, and emotional toll of keeping a home, you need to be in tip-top condition. Your body will run ragged by the end of the day if all you’re doing is snacking on whatever is in the cupboards just to keep hunger at bay. This is especially important for pregnant and nursing moms! Your bodies are providing that same fuel to your babies, and they get the nutrients first, while you just get the leftovers. You need to be eating good wholesome foods, as nutrient dense as possible. Keep your diet low in sugar and low in refined flours. Both of these not only affect your blood sugar levels (which affect your energy levels) but they deplete your body of nutrients. It’s to hard to live your life when your body is tired and malnourished. There is even a strong connection between your diet and your mental state, as the chemicals in our brains are directly related to what we consume.
  • When daily life begins to really drag you down, try to get some alone time out of the house every once in a while. This is something that has taken me awhile to learn to ask for. But even grocery shopping without toddlers seems heavenly some days! Once in a while I’ll go out at night to do my shopping when my husband gets home, and sometimes a friend of mine (bless her heart!) will watch them while I go. Just being able to run errands by myself can be a huge re-energizer! You don’t even have to spend any money. Get together with a friend, go to the library, or just get out of the house for a nice long walk.
  • Ask for help. If you need that time away, or need some extra help around the house, ask. Call a friend, call family. Just ask. Swallow that pride and realize that you are not super woman. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have or how much homemaking you do, everyone needs a helping hand. So why is it that we have such a hard time asking for help? Is it that we think our friends and family won’t help us out? Do we really have such little faith in them? I know I would jump at the chance to help another mom doing what needs to be done to give her a break. I also know that I don’t ask for help either. So what’s stopping us? Pride, and only pride. We feel we should be able to do everything under the sun, and look great and be happy while we’re doing it. A sense of guilt creeps in that you aren’t enjoying your family like you should be.
  • And most of all pray, pray, pray! Nothing can be done without our Lord. Period.
So how do you keep your life sane in the midst of tantrums and children? How do you stay refreshed?

 

This revised post was originally published at Naturally Knocked Up on Jan. 27, 2009



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Father’s Day Ideas, part two

Father’s Day 2008

Ahh, the day of all days to honor the Dad’s in our lives. Despite the fact that my love language is giving gifts I almost always find myself stumped over what to do for my dad and husband on the big day. Neither golf. They don’t fish. Neither are big sports fans. I’ve only seen my hubby in a tie a handful of times and my dad only once (my wedding).

So, what to do?

In attempt to avoid having to come up with the ‘perfect gift’ altogether, I usually procrastinate and end up scrambling around Sunday morning, coming up with an idea and tossing a sheet of paper and some markers at the kids to make a card. Motivated by the idea of “more information = less fear” I decided to plan ahead this year and share what I’ve found with you!

Here are 10 ideas for giving to the guys in your life – –

1. Is he a runner? For the larger budget a jogging stroller or the Nike + SportWatch GPS may be something to consider. For those on a more modest budget, give him a gift certificate towards a new pair of shoes or an apparel item.

2. In the spirit of always being prepared, why not a hand crank weather radio/flashlight/cell phone charger?

3. I know my dad and hubby like sweets. A lot. And I’m sure your’s do too. Willow and I are planning on making these Stout Cupcakes for my dad. Cupcake. Beer. Pretzels. Chocolate. Oh Yeah.

4. Maybe some of Maple Bacon Cupcakes for the hubby. Cupcake. Bacon. . . . oh, ok, you get the idea. Cupcakes are a GOOD idea! If you’re not feeling super creative or are short on time put together a cake mix, slap on some frosting, and let the kids decorate little flags to put on toothpicks to use as toppers. Wha la!

5. I’ve heard a time or two that a special beer makes a guy feel, well, special. Try a local variety from your c0-op or natural market.

6. And while we’re at it, why not a steak? I don’t know a man. . . well, ok, I do know one. . . that doesn’t salivate at the mention o f steak. Truth be told this is most often my default gift each Father’s Day. I think I’m going to go all fancy this year and try it this way.

7. Taking the handmade route, you may want to give the kids some fabric paint and let them go all Pollack on a ready made apron for the man of the house.

8. When I was a girl I remember my mom filling a wheel barrow FULL of my dad’s favorite adult beverage. He was one happy man. This year I thought I’d take my own spin on that idea; buy a wheel barrow and fill it full of his favorites that he rarely gets because of the junk food police (me). I’ll stock him up on Lucky Charms, M&M’s, steak seasoning/sauces, a bag or two of salt and pepper chips and a few other things.

Do you sense a theme here? Food. That’s where it’s at.

9. In an antique market a couple weeks ago I came across an old wildlife survival guide and a Boy Scouts of America guide book. I picked them up knowing that my husband would have a blast reliving his scouting days with the kids.

10. If your husband or father are of the comic addict variety, I suggest a subscription to the comic of their choice or give them tickets to see one of the 1,000,000,000 superhero movies gracing the theaters this summer. One year for Christmas I filled my husbands stockings with Yoohoo’s, a few comic books from his favorite series, and gift card for more and he was as giddy as a 7 year old.

This last bonus idea is for my dad. Or your dad. Netflix. I’ll say it again. Netflix. I don’t know about your dad, but mine could stare down a bear without flinching but stares wide eyed like a deer, petrified of the computer. I’ve heard him talk about ‘trying this new netflix mail service’ for well over 4 years. I’m planning on hooking him up with 6 months at first to see if he actually likes it and uses it.

An older woman from church once told me that “all it takes to make men happy is sex, food, and respect”. To that I’ll add: just enjoy them. For that day, laugh at their jokes, deal with their remarks without retorting back, give grace. Write them a letter, tell them things you don’t often say, feed them sweets, give them the drink of their choice, grill ’em a steak, and show them how much you sincerely care for them and are grateful for them in your life.

What are your Father’s Day plans?

Father’s Day Ideas, part one

photo credit: the cocoacakery

As a Daughter, Granddaughter and Wife I feel like I have a big responsibility with Father’s Day right around the corner.  I just bought, signed and stamped 7 Father’s Day cards (I am trying to plan ahead this year).  Now I have to decide which special guy do I celebrate this year, my loving Husband, my wonderful Dad or my sweet old Grandpa.  I am so over the “go out to eat” gig, I want to do something special.  So I set out on a search for something that will make the special men in my life feel as important as they should.

Here are my ideas.

  • Golfing, every guy loves golf right?  Well my Husband does and he would LOVE for us all to go golfing together.
  • Letters for Grandpa, I think it would be awesome for each child and grandchild to write a letter to Grandpa and we can present them in a nice folder or binder.
  • Game night, since guys tend to be gamers, we could invite over all the special guys and do a night of poker, apples to apples, guitar hero, or whatever their favorites are.
  • Craig’s Cruisers, this is an idea from my 13-year-old Son, but it is a good one. My Husband loves to drive the go carts and play laser tag.
  • Baseball game, going to a game is a very manly thing to do, and something I personally would never want to do, so it shows I really love them if we go!
  • DIY gifts, all parents and grandparents love gifts made by hand, so have your crafty kids make a baseball paperweight, a cool key chain or a bedazzled tool belt!

 

A couple of things going on locally in the Grand Rapids area  on Father’s Day weekend are:

The Walker festival is a fun, family friendly event and very friendly to your wallet as well.   Walker Festival

Field of Green festival is a fun event at the Blandford nature center, one of my favorite places! Field of Green Festival

All day with the arts, for only $3 at the GRAM – A day with the arts

The West Michigan Chalk Art Festival looks like it will be loads of fun for all! Chalk Festival

Here is the baseball game I was talking about, go support the Whitecaps.  Whitecaps game

All Dads get in free to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, can’t beat free.  Childrens Museum

 

So make sure you treat your special guy to something a little different this year. What do you have planned so far?

Be Blessed and be a Blessing

Flower

photo credit: chitrasudar

 

“Be blessed and be a blessing”

I have this written on the cover of my prayer journal. It just sounds so easy. Living it out is a bit different that just saying it.

It was a Hallmark morning. I woke up to pancakes in bed, homemade gifts and cards, and was smothered in hugs and kisses to the point that I had to pretty much crawl into the kitchen. The kids were dressed to the nines. I wore pearls(and heels!) to church.  Hubby did the dishes and prepared lunch. We spent the afternoon napping, being treated to lattes, strolling around the park and preparing stuff for a family activity of making hula hoops.

I am blessed.  Blessed by any definition. But yet, daily I complain about my life.  Today, in fact, I complained about my life.  Today I did not cry for the blessing of children that I wish I could have . . . instead I grumbled when I got those blessings ready for bed. I had to remind myself of something our pastor once said, “when you begin to complain, begin counting your blessings”. So I did.

Today I did not have to travel over 5 miles on foot to get water for my family thinking about my kids, worried about their futures. Instead I walked through the park hand in hand with the man I love talking about our kids and our future vacations. Today I did not fear for the safety of my family because we choose to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.   Instead I stood next to my fellow brothers and sisters and joyfully worshiped, freely. Today I didn’t worry about the quality of the water my kids drank, instead I sipped my latte and handed them their  $15 a piece stainless steel water bottles.  Today I did not only get the joy of not having to cook thanks to my husband, but we didn’t have to worry where the provision for that meal was coming from.  And that just covers a few of the worries mother’s all over the world carried on their shoulders today.

I am so thankful for my life, for today, for the blessing of being a mother. Lately I’ve been reminded of many verses that talk about the overflowing of  blessing. I was strongly convicted and thought I’d share some ways we may share our time, resources, and financial blessings with others who may be without.

Here are just a few organizations for thought.

Heart Cry International. Check out their Woman to Woman sponsorship program. I personally know the creators of this organization and have been blessed by their passion to extend love to the unloved and help to the broken.

-Volunteer at or donate to a local pregnancy center or woman’s shelter.

www.watoto.com specifically the Living Hope program.

www.rainn.org Rape Abuse Incest National Network.

www.polarisproject.org A grassroots projects aimed to stop sex and labor trafficking.

And one for those women(and men) who so wish to have a child of their own and look to adoption. Many of these families are in need of financial help to bring their children home. Consider a gift to Show Hope, a charity that was started by Steven Curtiss Chapman and his family.

For a larger gathering of other options go to www.charitynavigator.org.

I hope you had a very wonderful and blessed Mother’s Day as well!

 

 

Weaned

It’s been only eighteen days, and yet it feels like those 2 years and 3 weeks never happened.

Time, slipped away.

Tears are shed that only a mother can understand, no pain or discomfort except that of my heart.

Who am I now…….. and what will I be to her if not her source of sustenance?

To give of myself so freely, knowing that one day it would be over. Her babyhood over.

Weaned, asking of me no more.

The days and weeks fly by so quickly I find myself forgetting to breathe, as if I held it in longer I could slow down time. Time to take in each wayward hair, sweet little smile, and wondrous laugh. Yet I need more time  to memorize her, to remember how she feels cuddled deep into my arms. To see that smile as she drank to her heart’s content.

After what may have been our last nursing session. *sob*

The Last Time ©Donielle

May you become amazingly independent my sweet little one, with our heart strings always attached.

 



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Soles

Abandoned Shoes

photo credit: tenspeedphotography

 

I was tossing a pair into a box next to the front closet when I heard, “What are you going to do with them?”. Looking up I saw Willow there; hands on hips and eyebrows raised. I stood up, “Not sure, probably take them to the basement and then to Goodwill. Why?”    In a chirpy tone she replied, “just wonderin'” and ran off.  I was surprised that my response wasn’t met with tears since my urge to purge often ends in a frustrated little one not ready to get rid of clothes too small (“but Grammie bought that for me!”) or toys not played with (“well, I was going to play with it right now!. . .”).

Later in the day I heard the bathroom door open and shut as I was taking a shower (in our family my shower time should be renamed ‘one-on-one conference hour’. It’s often the time that everyone sees as an opportunity to talk to mama alone). I peaked my head out of the curtain and saw Willow sitting on the toilet seat deep in thought. She turned her head to me and uttered words that I wasn’t expecting.

Mama, does everyone have lots of clothes and shoes? I know that there are people who don’t have food and toys, but do they don’t have shoes and dresses too?”

I explained that yes, there are many people in the world who don’t even have shoes. She remembered a time when she went without shoes and got a splinter in her foot and how much it hurt. I saw compassion in her eyes. She stood up and walked in front of me. “Can I give them my shoes? Like the ones that you took to the basement? I can ask my friends about their old shoes too.  Can I dig a hole and put up a sign that says ‘shoes for people who don’t have food or toys or shoes?'”

My heart was overwhelmed with admiration for her preschool-age ambitions and thankful that we are blessed to have her in our family.

After talking, we decided on using a box instead of digging a hole and working together to find an organization who serves people who don’t have shoes. We chose-Soles4Souls and began planning a shoe drive from April 1st to the 30th.  Amidst all the excitement, drawing of signs, gathering of boxes and such we received news that a close family member was nearing the end of her battle with cancer. We hit the pause button. Two weeks later our hearts have yet to fully recover. Our heads are still filled with a constant reel of memories and eyes often with tears. In all honesty I hadn’t given the shoe drive much thought until the other day an article brought the idea back to the forefront.

I sat praying about it. I currently feel  overwhelmed by the task of making supper for my family, how will I have the heart or energy for  gathering the shoes and  sending them out?

I thought about postponing it until I had my wits about me.

As these thoughts were swirling I realized that I was doing no justice mourning my Mother-in-Law in this way. She was a woman full of life and abundant love, someone who would give her shirt off of her back no matter what she had left. As always, I gained encouragement from these thoughts of her. If there is anything I want my children to know about her it was her unwavering compassion and ability to love unconditionally.

So,  here we sat on her birthday, a day before her memorial service, unfolding boxes and making up signs.  As I was fretting about where to put the boxes and if we should scale our efforts down a bit for the sake of my nerves, Willow looked up to me and asked, “What’s Papa going to do with Nana’s shoes?”  Once again my thoughts are redirected to a better plan, one that is guided by Him, living a life that honors His son and her impact on my life.  Putting my fear over what we will do if we gather too many shoes to comfortably pay the shipping of I said, “What do you think Nana would want to do with them?” With a smile she replied, “She’d probably put them in the box.

I expect that there will be lots of wonderful lessons in store for us during this time. If you or your family are interested in organizing a shoe drive here are a few resources:

How do you help your children give to others?

 

*this post is linked to: Finer Things Friday