Monday, September 15, 2014

Praising God When it is Difficult

If you have never heard the story behind the hymn It Is Well, it is one that will stick with you for a very long time.  The writer was a man named Horatio Spafford.  And he wrote the hymn at a time when it would have been difficult to speak words at all let alone to speak words of praise and endearment to the Father.

You see, Horatio was a well to do man, happily married, and blessed with five children - four daughters and a son.  At the height of their success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their son.  And very shortly thereafter lost most of their real estate investments to the Great Chicago Fire.  In an effort to get some respite, Horatio sent his wife and girls on a voyage to England with plans to meet them soon.  Horrifically, there was a shipwreck and only his wife survived.  On his trip to reunite with his beloved bride, he penned the words to It Is Well (Information obtained and/or clarified from ShareFaith.com).

Can you imagine the state of his soul?  Beaten, crushed, wilted beyond repair - yet he was still joyous, still praising God.  The words he penned hardly seem possible given his circumstance.  This is especially noted in the 3rd verse:

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well (It is well)
With my soul (With my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

David was a man known for praising God through his difficulties as well. 

Psalm 57:7-11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the [a]nations.
10 For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your [b]truth to the clouds.
11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Though I'm unsure of the particular circumstance here, David was constantly dealing with trials and difficulties we could never fathom.  It is clear in the preceding stanza, that this is the case in this Psalm:
My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
They have [a]prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it. 
So how is it that these men, men like Horatio and David, can be in the midst of devastating, overwhelming, difficult situations and still praise God?  How are they not crushed and hopeless?

First, I think it is important to note that David knew where the source of his joy was found.  Joy should not and does not depend on circumstance.  Joy is found in the Lord and in the Lord alone.  David shows this beautifully in this Psalm - he "was not only in a happy state of mind when he wrote this Psalm, but in what was called a state of triumph.  His confidence in God was unbounded" even though he was "encompassed by the most ferocious enemies, and having all things against him except God..." (Wesley).  You see, "An eye that has seen God sees little terror in the most terrible things" (Expositor's).

But, as you can see in verses 4-6, David took a little bit to get past his terror.  But he did.  And he found the joy that can only be found in the Lord.  How?  Through prayer.  In verse 7 you can see the change in David's demeanor - "How strangely is the tune altered here!  David's prayers and complaints, by the lively actings of faith, are here, all of a sudden, turned into praises and thanksgivings...This should make us in love with prayer, that, sooner or later, it will be swallowed up in praise" (Henry, emphasis added).  You see, I am a firm believer that prayer doesn't always change our circumstances.  But prayer will always, always change you.  It can change your attitude, your heart, your emotions, and so much more.  Prayer allows God to work on you, allows Him to intervene in your life - it is your only line of communication with Him!   

But in order for prayer to work at all, in order to find that joy that is only available in the Lord, your heart must be in the right place.  It is as simple as this: "The way to keep light articles fixed on deck amidst rolling seas & howling winds; is to lash them to something fixed; and the way to steady a heart is to bind it to God" (Expositor's).  Our heart must have an anchor in the Lord or prayer is pointless.  If our heart does not find its center in Him, then His joy is not accessible to us.  The question is not if storms will come.  They have.  They will.  The question is whether or not your heart is anchored in the right place.  If your heart is anchored well before the storm, then praising God through the storm will be much easier.  David starts this last stanza (7-11) with the words My heart is steadfast, O God.  What does he mean by that?  He means his heart is anchored in the Lord, "it is prepared for every event, being stayed upon God" (Henry).




Over and over again I am reminded of how important my heart is, how important your heart is.  Where is your heart anchored today?  

"But wherever his bed may be he is sure that he will rise from it; and however dark the night, he is sure that a morning will come" (Expositor's).  Do you have that assurance today?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bump Update: 35 Weeks

I can't deny that I have had an extremely easy pregnancy.  With the exception of bed rest for a week early one - I haven't had any weird or horrible symptoms.  And while I know every woman's experience is different, I absolutely love being pregnant and it is hard for me to understand why some women hate it so much.

However, the past couple of weeks have given me tiny glimpses into why some really despise pregnancy.  Our "little" Sprout is quickly running out of room.  Every day it is harder and harder to breath.  And when she decides she wants more space, it literally hurts me.  I can never get comfortable and my ribs have got to be black & blue on the inside.  And I swear somehow she has knives in there!  

But I still wouldn't trade it for the world and I have to keep reminding myself that it won't be much longer.  I still absolutely love being able to feel her movements (especially when they aren't against my ribs or esophagus).  And I want to treasure every moment because I know I'll miss it.  Overall, I still love being pregnant.  There are just some days and some moments where I find myself wishing it would end soon.  But not really because I'm just not ready yet.  ;)

 
Definitely Growing!


Seriously....


Mom is obsessed with my belly so she kept taking pics....but I had to share these pics with you - my belly really is HUGE!

This week, baby is the size of a: .Honeydew.

Next appointment: Monday!  Love having closer appointments now!


Total Weight Gain/Loss:  Not paying attention to the scales outside of the doctor's office.  No point.


Exercise:  Walking as much as I can...but that is becoming more and more limited.  Doing some of my Bradley exercises but there are a couple I need help from Hubby and we're so busy all the time that its very hard to squeeze in.  However, we're getting down to the wire, so him and I both need to make it a priority. 

Maternity Clothes: Fearing a weather change may mean I need to get more than one pair of jeans.  Which is annoying because I don't have all that much longer left.  And I've decided that if it gets really cold there is no way that I'm buying a winter jacket to fit this belly for just a couple of weeks.  I'll just wear layers and steal some of Hubby's winter stuff.  ;)

Sleep: Overall, pretty good.  I've mastered a good sleeping position (Bradley approved and encouraged) - it's just that if I wake up for even a brief second, my bladder forces me to get out of bed.  :P

Food Cravings/Aversions: Take a guess.  That's right.  None.

Movement:  As noted earlier, she is very active.  Usually uncomfortably so...but I still love it!

What I Miss: Going anywhere without having to locate the nearest bathroom at least once.


What I'm Loving: My family being such a help and so involved.  I especially think its funny when my dad touches my belly - he gets so excited if she moves.  lol.
        
What I'm Looking Forward To: A couple of days without plans to really get things done!  :)

Best Moment This Week: Our ultrasound tops the charts by far.  It is truly amazing to see her all squished in there.  She has the chubbiest little cheeks (you can see them from the back of her head) and a tiny little nose.  We saw her lungs exercising and her heart beating in among all those tiny ribs.  She had a fist and she kept chomping away with her chubby little lips.  SO neat!  Hubby also got to feel her punch/elbow me pretty hard the other night (we thought it was a kick, but the ultrasound proved us wrong).  He was poking around trying to figure out exactly what body part he was feeling and *wham* she decided she was done with that!  I let out an "ouch" and he started laughing so hard.  LOVE those moments!

Milestones: Working on brain function this week.  And she is head down!  Which was a major relief.  :)

Goals:  Didn't get my bag completely packed but we had a full two days of trying to get rid of fleas and then washing everything that was out when we bombed.  Still not caught up there...but almost.  Plan is to get my bag packed tomorrow.  And to get the nursery completely organized.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WAHM Review (+Giveaway): Little Stitches 4 Little Britches


When I orgiinally started the reviews for Work-at-Home-Moms I started my search for ladies that made cloth diapers.  Well, I stumbled across Donna's Etsy shop.  And while she only had a couple of diapers in her shop (she hasn't been making them much lately), I thought I'd contact her anyways.  Well, little did I know, she had two other Etsy shops!  And now, Baby Girl has an absolutely adorable costumer for Halloween...or maybe a newborn photo prop...or both.  I haven't quite decided.  ;)

But before I show off that wee little costume I would love to tell you more about Donna.  With 3 kiddos that she homeschools (ages 6, 10, and 12), Donna also enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, reading, and learning.  She loves to be busy which seems to be a trait her kids have picked up as well.  Due to health issues Donna had to quit going to school awhile back.  And that is when she picked up crocheting.  Now, thanks to some diet and lifestyle changes, she has her health back and found something that she absolutely loves to do!  As she states, "I feel so blessed to have found this gift, and get great satisfaction out of making things that other people really seem to enjoy."  And a fun little tid bit that I just love - she loves to help others - which is also a trait she has passed on to her children - love it!

Now for that adorable little outfit I was telling you about:

Cute right??

5 Stars

Isn't it just lovely?  The stitch work is magnificent.  I crochet myself.  And I know how hard it is to get your stitches to look so uniform.  Especially when it is any shape other than a square.  ;)  I have no doubt that this will last a long time.  The nice part is the head band and flower clip can be used as she grows and for any future girls we may have.  

Top

Bottom

Headband

Just the band,,,

Just the flower...



5 Stars

The yarn she uses is so soft - perfect for soft and sensitive newborn skin.  


5 Stars

Donna's customer service was great!  She wasn't always the quickest about getting back to me.  But since she was making a custom design she kept checking back in to make sure I liked the direction she was going.  She wanted to make sure the product was something I would love.  And she did awesome!  She was really good about answering any questions and made the whole process go by wonderfully!


5 Stars

Here are some other adorable items she has created:


A different take on the mermaid...

Minnie!!

Bunny Rabbit  :)


I would definitely, definitely recommend Little Stitches 4 Little Britches!  If you are looking for a Halloween costume she will definitely work with you!  I feel like the possibilities are endless!  If you are more of a DIY person, she sells her patterns at a different Etsy shop here as well.  I'm thinking I might try that out sometime...once I pick up my crochet needles again....  Overall, I think Donna has a great thing going!


5 Stars for sure!



Head over to Little Stitches 4 Little Britches and look around!  She has also given Learning to Be 31 reader's a discount code for 15% off: ThankYouSoMuch.  It can be used at either store.  



One will win a mermaid outfit of their very own!  To enter use the Giveaway Tool below.  Remember, the more entries, the greater you chance of winning!




Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bump Update: 34 Weeks

So fun fact - I was born at 34 weeks gestation!  6 weeks early.  I keep telling Hubby this and he keeps telling me we need to get the hospital bag packed.  :P

It is highly unlikely, but Baby Girl could be here any day now.  As our Bradley book states, "there isn't a baby who can read a calendar..." or something like that anyhow.

As much as I am anxiously awaiting my due date (Oct. 16), I'm not expecting her to come unless she is ready.  My guess is the 22nd of October...just because it's fun to guess.  haha.  I am praying they won't want or have to induce for any reason.  And if it's past my due date I'm going to try to make it last as long as I can.  I know 2 weeks is the max but if she isn't ready to come then she just needs a little more time to bake (so long as she is healthy).  ;)   But I'm hoping we never even have to cross that bridge. 

The mail lady (who is one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted people I know) saw me for the first time in a few days on Tuesday and she said, "Oh my, you have dropped.  You're getting a little shelf there."  hehe.  I definitely feel bigger - that's for sure.

I feel so huge...but I know I'm still pretty small for being so far along.

Yep...like I said, I feel huge.


Definitely grew since last week!
10 weeks ago.  So 24 weeks and 34 weeks.  Crazy right!?!


This week, baby is the size of a: Cantaloupe.

Next appointment: About a week and a half from now.  Two Mondays from now.


Total Weight Gain/Loss:  Gained somewhere between 2 & 3 pounds in the past 2 weeks.  Which is pretty normal I suppose.


Exercise: I can walk half as far and be twice as tired now.  lol.  Still doing my Bradley stuff...but not everything I should.  Gotta get on that....

Maternity Clothes: All the time.  Caved and bought another pair of shorts but scored a good deal so I am pleased.

Sleep: Depends on the night but definitely not as good as I used to - especially with the unending bathroom runs.  :P

Food Cravings/Aversions: Nothing.  Surprise right?


Movement:  So often.  So very often in my rib cage.  lol.  She is really trying to cram her way under there....

What I Miss: My energy and the ability to sleep an entire night without getting up at least once.


What I'm Loving:  The movement.  Even when it is uncomfortable, this is still one of the coolest things in the world. 
        
What I'm Looking Forward To: Ultrasound!!  We are measuring about 3 weeks behind which is worse than the last time so they told me I have to go check things out.  I'm not overly concerned.  Even the doctor thinks she is just laying oblong.  But since this is the 2nd appointment in a row, it is routine.  And I'm not complaining - we get to see our precious baby girl again before her arrival!  Yay!

Best Moment This Week: Our shopping trip.  It was nice having a girl's day with Mom and Gram.  We got almost all of the stuff we need and ended the day with pedicures and dinner.  It was wonderful.  Plus I got to go to IKEA!!  :)

Milestones: Working on those lungs and the nervous system!   And she is building up fat layers so she can be an adorable chunky little mess.  ;)



Goals:  Pack our hospital bag...really dragging my feet with this one.  And get the rest of the baby stuff put away...which means convincing Hubby to hang the shelf I got at IKEA.  hehe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WAHM Review (+Giveaway): Baby J Boutique


I am super excited to introduce you to Johnna and her family:


Precious little family right?!?!
Johnna has a delightful little shop on Etsy full of super cute items - most of them inspired by her little boy!  She gives so much credit to her husband for working so hard which allows her to stay home and spend quality time with her little man.  I love it when I see wives giving their husbands the credit they are due.  Without my Hubby working so hard, we would not be able to have our house and  I definitely wouldn't be able to stay home with Baby Girl.

She sent me a couple of items to review - one to keep and one to give away!  Picking between two products is always super difficult.  :P

But here they are:



An adorable Boppy cover...

And a super cute diaper clutch/changing pad.  Absolutely love this pattern and how the inside matches...but we'll get to that in a bit.


5 Stars

I chose to keep the Boppy cover because it was something I really needed.  So we'll start there.

Here is the bottom:


Delightfully soft minky!

While the minky side is definitely softer - I still don't have any qualms about putting either side up against Baby Girl.  It is so gentle!


5 Stars

And here is what it looks like stuffed:


Top

Bottom

It is a near perfect fit!  Which is so nice!  Extra material can mean a suffocation hazard and there is no need to worry about that here...

Johnna has the zipper run across the entire back seam and it zips nicely (don't you hate it when zippers are tough?).


Again, love the snug fit.

5 Stars

Now for that adorable diaper clutch!  I will slowly unfold the wonderfulness of this product:

Unclasp and *BAM* polka dots!

Unfold again and...two pockets - a spot for diapers & wipes...

Fold out the pockets and the "matchiness" is killing me!

As most of you know, I will be cloth diapering.  So I wondered if this would be practical for a cloth diapering mama or not.  I was able to fit a newborn AIO in one pocket and a few wipes & an extra insert in the other pocket.  I could not get a fully stuffed pocket diaper into a pocket but you could get a cover or an unstuffed pocket diaper into one pocket.  Then put an insert or two plus a couple of wipes in the other.  It would be great for those quick trips to the store or for a walk around the neighborhood. 

Again, just like the boppy cover, the quality of this product is phenomenal.  I have no doubt it will last quite awhile!

Here are some of the other items that Johnna features at Baby J Boutique:


Bumbo covers!!  Super classy!

Hooter Hiders in a variety of different patterns.

Tag Blankets - there are even shaped ones - super neat!

And isn't this personalized TMNT shirt the best!?!
Any items you don't see on her Etsy shop may be on her Baby J Boutique Pinterest Board.  She also does custom work so options are pretty much limitless!

I definitely would recommend Baby J Boutique!  It is such a cute shop!  And Johnna makes high quality items.  Plus, she has some really unique stuff!


5 Star Shopping at its best.  ;)


Head on over to the Etsy shop - if what you want isn't there make sure to send her a message and tell her what you are looking for.  I know she'll figure something out!




One reader will be the lucky winner of that adorable diaper clutch / changing pad.  To enter use the Giveaway Tool below.  






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WAHM Review (+Giveaway): My Sweet Pea Couture Boutique


Can I just say that working with WAHM's has been incredible?!?!  The personal touches and customer service are phenomenal.  You just don't get that with most major brands and companies.  It definitely makes me want to support more home-based and local businesses.  It is so nice knowing that someone's heart went into what you are buying, that it wasn't made overseas, and that it supports a great cause - family!  :)

Today, I'd like to tell you a little bit about Danielle.  She has been phenomenal to work with, just like the rest of the awesome mama's so far!  :)  Danielle's husband is a soldier in the United States Army.  While he was deployed, Danielle found that she had a little bit of extra time on those lonely nights once the kids were in bed.  And in those moments, "the creative juices would start to flow."  Mother to 3 kiddos ages 2-9, she loves crafting and creating things to dress them up all cute!  And she decided to share that via Etsy!  As she says, "I have always loved creating and designing.  I enjoy seeing others vision's come to life, so with that said, custom orders are always welcomed here.  I take pride in what I do."

My Sweet Pea carries a tremendous variety of products so I thought I'd pick a few of my favorites and share with you:


Rompers!  In SO many different colors.  This is JUST a peek!

Adorable  crowns for your prince or princess.

These bow ties make me desperately want a little boy!  ;)

Looking for a Halloween costume?  Because this is adorable!

I tried to stick with a fall motif here...but I couldn't pass this up!  She has SO many different sets like this!

And this is what she sent me:


Two Bloomers and a Halo!

Once we decided that I would be reviewing a halo and bloomer, she decided to do something custom.  Since I had no idea what to ask for, I told her that we were pretty earthy and anything earth toned would be great.  She did a phenomenal job with such minimal direction!  I love it! 


5 Stars!

The halo is so delicate and so adorable.  It is going to make a fabulous photo prop for Baby Girl's newborn pics! 


Simple yet gorgeous!  Love stuff like that!

And the detail!  She really took "earthy" to heart - which is perfect for us!

 Since she sent two bloomers, I decided to keep one and give one.  :)  It was tough choosing the keeper though!  They are both so adorable.  After much debate - I landed on the cream one:


I really liked the way it looked with the halo.

This is the front.

And the back!  Love those adorable little ruffles!

The quality of these items is phenomenal.  I have no doubt if I used this over and over and over that it would last.  The halo isn't meant for everyday use - but if I keep it somewhere safe, I could probably use it with my next baby if it is to be another girl.  ;)  I was very impressed with her craftsmanship.  You can tell she takes pride in this!


5 Stars
As far as price goes, I think Danielle's products are very reasonably priced.  Especially her bloomers!  She sells hers for $7.95 and the cheapest I could find with a quick Google search of retailers and boutiques was around $10 - most being closer to $20 for ruffles and cuteness.  ;)  Her bow ties were about the same as others but still on the cheaper end of the scale.  And her rompers were in the same situation - about the same as the cheap end of the scale but a far cry from the $22 that a lot of other boutiques were charging.  


Definitely 5 Stars

As noted at the beginning of this post, Danielle was a pleasure to work with.  Even though I got behind schedule - she never complained and was completely understanding.  She was super quick with answers to all of my questions too - which I love!


5 Stars

Overall, I definitely recommend shopping at My Sweet Pea!  There are SO many options ad if, somehow, she doesn't have something you like - she will most definitely work with you to figure it out!  It doesn't get better than that!


5 star shop for sure!




Head on over to the My Sweet Pea Etsy Shop.  There is something for everyone!





One reader will win the bloomer shown below!  To enter use the Giveaway Tool below.  You can enter once or multiple times.  More entries = More chances of winning.  ;)



Front - love the ruffles around the legs!

Back - lovely ruffles AND a bow!  :)