Category Archives: My Life

Solutions and Treatments for Vulvar Varicosities

treatment for vulvar varicosities

Solutions and Treatments for Vulvar Varicosities (During Pregnancy)

The Art of Losing Myself and the Painfully Pregnant Pause

Before I discuss the solutions for vulvar varicose veins, I wanted to briefly discuss my own personal struggle with this issue of pressure and pain.  If you just want the goods, feel free to skip down to the Solutions and Treatments section.

… Pregnancy has become a painful time for me. Now on my third, I’m pretty sure it will be my last just because I don’t want the bottom to fall out (specifically my bottom to fall out). It started at the end of my first with an inguinal hernia, what a surgeon told me was a sports hernia. Other docs told me that I had weak ligaments down there further weakened by multiple pregnancies and the role of pregnancy hormones. Then with this pregnancy came the wretched pressure and pain of what doctors call vulvar varicosities which are varicose veins in your lady parts. I don’t even look down there anymore. But the most unpleasant part isn’t the way it looks but the pain and pressure which increases as my baby and uterus increase in size. The only relief I have found is laying down. This has been sort of depressing to me since I love to be active and feel I will have to spend the next 3 months in a horizontal position.

During my prayer time this morning, I was just telling God how I feel about pregnancy. It wouldn’t be so awful if I didn’t have to completely lose myself. All that makes me – me. All that I love..(Okay that’s an exaggeration but a lot of things that make me, me, and a lot of things that I love.)  I mean I love to stay active, walk everywhere I possibly can, have fun challenging workouts every day, have sex with my husband, keep a clean house, make creative healthy meal plans, grocery shop, and make those creative healthy meals, take my girls to the playground, spend time at night with my husband after the kids go to bed, drink wine, eat sushi, have clear thoughts, take ADD medicine.  These are things that I love to do, that are usually a part of my daily life.  But during most of my pregnancy, this all has to be put on hold.

This may seem a little off topic, but it has to do with what God said to me.  So, my husband showed me this video last night:
Global Warming Debate – Ted Cruz

Okay, so it doesn’t have much to do with this debate (other than the global warming I’m experiencing within my own pregnant body!), but it is pretty funny…and God used something, one thing they had said.

God merely said, “pregnant pause”.  He was kind enough to say only this.  I’m sure that He saw in my thoughts all the scripture that was backing up the fact that I was declaring pregnancy a time of “losing myself” and based on scripture, how holy and wondrous a season it must be.  I think I would have stuck my tongue out at Him if He had said anything along those lines.  But He reminded me, it’s not for very long, it’s merely a “pause”.  He said, “Lauren, you are so often in fast forward or rewind.  Sometimes it is good to just pause, not even play, just pause.”

 

So from that healthy spiritual place that He brought me into like He does (for a moment, until I break down in tears and start complaining to Him again…thank God He is patient), I wanted to write a post for those that are struggling with pain and pressure of pregnancy that you may not want to talk about to anyone.

 

Solutions and Treatments for Vulvar Varicosities During Pregnancy

Here are some of the SOLUTIONS and TREATMENTS that I have found from scouring the internet for what worked for others.  Unfortunately it’s not much, but there may be something to help you. It seems from reading others’ experiences that you just have to keep trying solutions until you find the one that brings you relief.

Number One:  This V2 supporter belt.  This seems to be what very many women have said helped them.  Apparently it needs to be tight so order the size according to your weight despite reviews that would suggest otherwise. There are over 300 reviews on Amazon, and most of them very positive.  Also, across the interwebs In blog and article comments, this is the item that most women are talking about as a sort-of solution to VV. I am ordering this today right after I return “number two” on my list, and I will update with my results.

Number TwoBaby Belly Band Abdominal Belt and Compression Groin Bands I am returning this because the relief that it provided was not equal to or better than the discomfort or inconvenience of wearing the thing. Plus, I already feel like a fat cow and it is cumbersome and squeezes parts of my body into an even more unattractive figure.  The bands just simply do not apply enough pressure to the groin area to relieve very much of the pain and pressure of the veins and hernia.

 

Number ThreeSRC Pregnancy Shorts. I may result to this, but due to the cost I am going to try the V2 belt first.  But that said,  these have received reviews that claim that they are life-changing and relieve pain to the point that you can return back to exercise and normal activity (which is alluring to me)

Here are some of those reviews for the SRC shorts

Supplements for V.V.

Number 4:
This was recommended by a midwife. Most of the reviews on Amazon are talking about relief for sinus issues and congestion, but it’s so inexpensive, it may be worth a try.  Another is  homeopathic hamamelis virginiana 9C.  Here is an article that talks about many natural remedies for vv (like yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic) including homeopathic supplements.

 

Number FiveWitch Hazel Compress I have not found many reviews or comments that mention this as a solution that brought relief to pain.  But again, it’s cheap enough that it’s worth a shot.  And if it doesn’t bring you relief for vv, you could always just use them for your face.

 

Number Six:  Essential Oils for Varicose Veins You may need to talk to an essential oil consultant, nurse, or midwife on where it is and isn’t safe to rub essential oils, but here is a link that discusses which oils are good for treatment of varicose veins. The article suggest using these oils by adding it to water either warm or cool and alternating warm/cool compresses. Also, warm baths with oils added and massaging directly on affected area (see my previous comment on this).  The oils suggested for shrinking were Cypress and Juniper which may be good for the embarrassment factor, but I’m mostly interested in pain relief. Here are the oils that are listed for SOOTHING:

  1. Geranium: this is the brand that I use. Much cheaper and works just as well in my experience of the other oils.
  2.  Yarrow
  3.  Lemon
  4.  Rosemary

Number Seven: Vein Health Support This has the best reviews out of all the supplements that you take orally. All of the ingredients in it are the nutrients ,  plants, and herbs that I kept coming across in my research.  Also, this isn’t too expensive for a month’s supply.

 

Number Eight: Other treatments include…

Ice and Elevate:  Use a cool compress when you are able to bring relief.  And also when you lay down, lay on your left side (to take pressure off veins, left side works best), and prop a pillow under your hips to elevate them.

Other articles and blog sources on Vulvar Varicosities:

http://www.scarymommy.com/vulvar-varicosities/

http://www.phlebolymphology.org/treatment-of-vulvar-and-perineal-varicose-veins/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-blog/vulvar-varicosities/bgp-20055755

Here is a forum post with women discussing what worked for them and v.v. during labor

Some good news please?

The good news is that it seems these usually do not cause problems during delivery and go away right after birth.  If they don’t, there are some treatment options where doctors perform a tiny, short surgery and place coils within the veins.  Many women that commented about having this procedure done had great things to say, but there was the testimony of one woman where the coil came loose and became life-threatening. So…if you get to a point post partum where they are not going away, you may ask your doctor about options.

http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/abstract/1996/05000/treatment_of_vulvar_varicosities_by.28.aspx

 

Please, please feel free to comment on what helped you.  It may help the next woman reading this.  And thank you very much to the women writers of the blogs linked above for being open, honest, and vocal on this topic.

 

****Update: I am using two different braces.  One is the gabriella pregnancy belt and the other is a hernia belt I bought at a medical store.  I believe this hernia belt is pretty much equivalent. I also wear workout shorts like these UNDERNEATH all of the braces, over my underwear to prevent chafing (<–highly recommend doing this) The result?  Last week, in addition to working and general housework and baby/toddler-care, I was able to go for a one mile stroller walk to the playground with my girls twice. And yesterday, I went for a glorious 40 minute, 2 mile walk.  I felt somewhat like a stuffed sausage, BUT I had zero additional pain in the evening.  Hope this helps someone out there! It is great to be able to go walking again!!!***

BTW!!! I’ve started a workout program with BeachBody called PiYo and it feels incredible during this point in my pregnancy.  Here is a a link to an 8 week free printable Piyo Workout Calendar. I highly recommend this workout to anyone pregnant.

 

 

Generosity of God: Playing The Out-Giving Game

Generosity of God: Playing The Out-Giving Game

On our date night, I watched as my husband said he wanted to buy the dinner of the family of seven seated next to us. His generosity made my heart smile, but then all these questions arose in my heart.

I I had talked to him in the car on the way to the restaurant about a verse I had found amazingly profound yet simple:

“So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:41‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But this was an upscale restaurant, these people weren’t actually “poor”. And they were ordering drinks. Families that struggled financially weren’t out at upscale restaurants ordering drinks with their meal, were they?

See that’s the difference between my husband and I. I over-think, over-complicate, and over-rationalize. He hears the Holy Spirit and just does it. He leaves the thinking to God.

 

We have been in a season of generosity. Have you ever played the game where you try to out-give God? You should try it. It’s actually pretty comical. We give a hundred; God gives us back 1000. We give 600; Gid gives us 5000. Seriously.

 

That same night I decided to go to Hobby Lobby and buy materials to make my grandmother a wreath. I knew it would make her so happy every time she saw it on her door. And I could make it for fall/thanksgiving so that it could go with all the decorations she likes to put up. I had the same thought: my grandmother isn’t “the poor”. Should I be buying food for homeless or something?  But love for my grandmother and joy at the thought of her joy compelled me beyond the rationalizations. I couldn’t wait to go home that night and make her the cutest thanksgiving wreath. I even used scrabble letter tiles because grandmother loves scrabble. And I went ahead and made two other loved ones in my life their own beautiful wreath.

 

Saturday day I began the search for a box to mail it. While looking through the dollar general boxes, I found a stack of sudoku books that the store had thrown out. I grabbed one since grandmother loves that game. No boxes that would work though. I checked every place I could think of. Hmph.

 

So sunday, after church I headed to fed ex, probably the only place that would have the unique box I needed. The cheapest shipping the rep told me was 1-day, and it would ship out Monday. “Oh! That’s cool!” I said. “So, she’ll get it Tuesday?”

 

i I couldn’t wait to call my grandmother and tell her that she would be getting a present soon. “Is it for my birthday?” She asked.

“When’s your birthday?” I asked her.

“Tuesday,” she said.

“Well, I guess so!” I laughed. “You know God is so funny …and awesome: he knows I never remember anyone’s birthday. So, he remembers for me and even helps me to send a gift on time!”

 

“He really is awesome,” she said, “because I was just telling your grandad how I wish people would send me gifts. I hardly ever get them anymore and I LOVE to get presents.”

 

God arranged it all so that I would make and send her a gift that would arrive exactly on her birthday! That got me thinking about that family of seven. You know God was where you are before you ever got there. The store, the restaurant, the situation. He was there first, pre-arranging all the circumstances. Maybe that family wasn’t poor. Maybe they were well off. But maybe God had been prompting them to give a big offering to missions and their dinner being bought was confirmation. We just never know. But we do know God will use it ALL for his purposes and for good. And you will NEVER go wrong giving. Even if you totally did not hear the Holy Spirit. God just smiles and uses it somehow, even if it’s just to stretch or grow you in giving.

fall wreath

 

Plus the out-giving game is fun. I think God has a lot of fun with it. It’s such a blessing to touch others and show them the love of God. And God wants to show that love equally to the homeless stranger and your 71-year old grandmother. You will never go wrong shining the light of His generosity to everyone in the sphere of influence that God gave you.

 

So, whether it’s the mom struggling with a toddler behind you that you offer to hold and maybe even pay for her groceries. Or the homeless man at the light that you usually ignore. Or sending a random gift, gift card, and card to that family member that is lonely and in a dark place right now.  Or making dinner for that family that God put on your heart. Do it! Begin the giving game with God. Give him the delightful joy of out-giving you.

Fall Burlap Wreaths for Your Creative Inspiration

Fall Burlap Wreaths – For Your Creative Inspiration

 

I love looking at others’ Fall Burlap Wreaths for ideas on how to create my own. SO, I thought I would provide some of my own for your creative inspiration. I love burlap and yarn wreaths. They are pretty simple to make & look so beautiful hanging on someone’s front door. I have made so many just to give to friends & family to brighten their day (and doorway).  That way every time they walk in their door, they’ll feel considered and loved…hopefully.

 

You could always buy a fall burlap wreath new like this pretty holiday burlap wreath.  Or you could make your own (here’s a wreath wire frame for less than $3!)

Here are some of the fall burlap wreaths I’ve been making. I get bored when I can’t work out (pregnancy problems) and I happen to be a little bit crafty! So… I crafted some fall burlap wreaths. I thought I would post some of the pictures in case you were looking for a little creative inspiration. Feel free to comment with any questions. I’d be happy to help. And post links to your own so that I can get inspired too!  I can’t wait to start making some for Christmas.  Talk about JOY!

 

*For some reason the pictures of these fall burlap wreaths turn sideways in a phone browser.  Sorry about that. I’ve tried my best to fix it to no avail.

This was the first one that I made! It turned out so pretty that I was hooked.

fall burlap wreaths

This one I think is my favorite. I made it using the inspiration I found here on Etsy.
fall burlap wreaths

Funny story. This one actually fell and broke in three pieces before I could give it to the person I was making it for. I reused the flowers and made the pretty denim & pumpkin Welcome wreath below. fall burlap wreaths yarn wreath
This one I love and it’s hanging on my yellow door.
fall burlap wreath
And this is the one I talked about in my post about generosity, made for my grandmother for her birthday.
thanksgiving fall burlap wreaths

For my mom. She added a little reddish-orange bird that she found at dollar tree. It made it even cuter. fall burlap wreaths fall burlap wreaths

Induction Birth Story – Baby Kate

Induction Birth Story – Baby Kate

And keep my eyes above the waves…

(Baby Kate’s Birth Story)

 

Baby Kate’s labor began with induction. There are so many horrid induction stories.  Here is an induction birth story that may soothe some fears you may have…

During my labor my water was broken early. The doctor said based on my last labor that we could probably expect a baby by two or 4 PM.

It was 9 AM.

So the contractions, pitocin-induced, began. They grew in intensity and duration. I watched them on the monitor. They had placed in me a microchip that allowed them to monitor with complete accuracy the contractions as they came and went.

So I watched them: rising to a peak my tightness growing, discomfort and pain increasing slightly with each hour. I watch the monitor– those peaks and valleys, those electronic waves. I watched waiting for the crest that would tell me my pain would begin to diminish in a few seconds.

And the nurse checked me again and again hour after hour. The boredom turned anxiety as progress became slowed to a halt.

I asked her, “since you broke my waters what happens if I don’t dilate?”

She looked at me with the same concern that she had looked at me after my last two “checks”. “We’ll just wait and cross that bridge when we get there.”

Something in her eyes told me she thought we would get there.

A flood of self-doubt, guilt,  condemnation, and fear overtook me. Had I induced too soon? Should I have waited for her to come naturally? Was I less far along than I thought?

Did I tell them the wrong date of last cycle on purpose at the beginning? I couldn’t remember clearly now.

Was my selfishness with wanting pregnancy to be over going to harm my baby?

“Don’t rush the seasons.” … God had said to me only days before. Were the consequences of my impatience crashing in upon me? Had I “awakened love before it’s time”, before my time, Kate’s time had come?

My mind was a storm amidst this electric ocean. I watched praying that God would forgive me. Praying that he would save me. Praying that he would deliver me and my baby girl.

I played the song Oceans over and over. I tried to imagine the scene of Jesus on the water and me stepping off the boat, waves of contractions of pain and fear all around. I tried to keep my eyes on his mercy and love. Tried to keep my eyes on his faithfulness even when we are unfaithful. The lyrics washed over me.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.

And so I stayed in his presence. I asked for prayer from friends and family. I had my husband and mom my hands on me and pray.

Again I listened.

You call me out upon the waters were feet may fail.

I saw myself as in a vision, I was clothed in an almost translucent pale dress. The pieces of the skirt blown behind me by the winds all around. My hair was long and red, blowing behind also. My arm is outstretched as I took slow confident steps toward where I reached.

Forward. Forward. Onward. Losing sight of the storm all around with each step, and then my hand fell into His.

“His right hand embraced me (SOS 2:6)” and we began dancing on a sea of glass (Re 15:2) as I gazed into his eyes – steady, passionate fire.

And I thought to myself, even from this moment – hours before she’s born, motherhood is a storm of fear and uncertainty at times.

“Your sovereign hand will be my guide.”

Only gazing at his face. Only reaching for his grace turned the stormy waters into a sea of glass. The steps of mothering into a beautiful dance.

“You’ve never failed. And You won’t start now.”

A memory of how he had let me this Shepherd and overseer of my soul (1 Pet 2:25). I always think back to that moment in the jail cell where I would spend a year of my life. That moment on a gym mat in the tent made by a single scratchy blanket pulled over my head to shield all the onlookers from seeing my uncontrollable sobs.

He was there. He came into that makeshift tabernacle. He had never left. And he never would. From then to now, he has led me.

And now he has blessed me with the greatest gift. He has poured out his unmerited faith in me. His faith that I would lean. Faith that in all of the difficult moments of wilderness, I would come out leaning on my beloved.

And so I leaned as the waves of contractions grew in strength I called to this Faithful One. In a short time after i had recruited prayer, after I had begun to pray, worship, and meditate on Him, my body began to react swiftly.

Strong nausea overtook me suddenly. The pain grew to such strength that I felt like my Baby Kateeyes are going to burst. The nurse updated me with my quick progress moment by moment. Now six. Now 7 1/2. Now nine. And then the miracle of this crescendo happened at 8:04 PM with fewer than five pushes.

 

She was here! And it was okay because He was here too. The waves on the monitor had stopped, but the storm on the waters of life wouldn’t. The waves would rise and fall, pain and peace, heartache and joy.  But always, we must keep our eyes above the waves.

Though my sorrow be taken from me, yet will I sing, yet will I praise you. Though the joy taken from me.  Yet will I laugh.  Yet will I shout unto You. Though the light be hidden from me, yet will I walk, yet will I run after you. THough my heart be slain within me, yet will I trust, yet will I follow You. -Audra Lynn, Yet Will I Sing

I will call upon your name. Keep my eyes above the waves. My soul will rest in your embrace. I am yours and you are mine.

I am my beloved and he is mine.

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Daughters: How Daughters Bring Healing

raising daughters: how daughters bring healing

Raising Daughters How Daughters Bring Healing

Raising daughters how daughters bring healing to my heart…Every day she grows more beautiful. And I care less & less about my own beauty. She is my beauty. She has become my beauty. My love for her is my beauty.

I was terrified when I found out I was going to have a girl. “Why would God do this to me?” I thought. But now… She is my healing. She washes me daily. If I have all daughters, 5 of them, and no matter what they do or do to me, I would never wish it any other way. I thank God for His wisdom and sovereignty.

I’ve let go of a beauty fleeting and I’m grabbing hold of a beauty eternal. I feel it: a shift inside. Like when the winds change directions at the end of the season. It’s like I’m letting go of one rope I’ve been tugging on for years and laying hold of another that instead longs to pull me.

My daughters, my balm of Gilead. Like an ocean of healing wave after wave, day after day, my Lord and my God uses you to make me whole, perfect…beauty. And may he always. Come what may.

C.S. Lewis on Selfies – Perelandra

C.S. Lewis on Selfies – Perelandra

Selfie was named as the word of 2013 and it’s frequency of use has increased by 17,000%. Of course, I can’t think of selfies without thinking of C.S. Lewis and Perelandra.  c.s. lewis on selfiesThis is my second post on the book Perelandra, a science fiction work by C.S. Lewis.  If you missed the first one it was on Good Versus Best. 

The selfie has become very common in our society.  Everyone from the pope to the president.  And everywhere-from restaurants to funerals.  If we took a step back, we might realize how outrageous this practice really is, but it has become an accepted norm.  Self-gazing.

This gazing on self was the topic in part of Lewis’ book.  It struck a sensitive chord as I am also fond of selfies.  Well dang it! There’s never anyone around to photograph my most gorgeous moments!  Anyway, in this chapter the Enemy (also referred to as Un-man) is trying different strategies to cause the innocent “Lady” to fall.  It’s basically giving a glimpse into the second Eden where Satan is using strategies to deceive Eve into sin. At this point the Enemy has been filling her head with stories of heroines and also made her a coat of beautiful feathers (from birds he had cruelly slaughtered).  Ransom (whom the lady also refers to as Piebald) is the main character who is sent to try to deflect the enemy’s many schemes and to keep this Fall from occurring. This chapter escalates with a mirror as the enemy gives the Lady her first glimpse at her own appearance.

“But if you do not look you will never know how beautiful you are.”
It comes into my mind, Stranger,” she answered, “that a fruit does not eat itself, and a man cannt be together with himself.”
A fruit cannot do that because it is only a fruit,”said the Un-man.  “But we can do it.  We call this thing a mirror.  A man can love himself, and be together with himself.  That is what it means to be a man or a woman–to walk alongside oneself as if one were a second person and to delight in one’s own beauty.  Mirrors were made to teach this art.”
“Is it a good?” said the Lady.
“No,” said Ransom.
“If you try it and it is not good,”said Ransom, “how do you know whether you will be able to stop doing it?”
“I am walking alongside myself already,”said the Lady. “But I do not yet know what I look like. If I have become two I had better know what the other is.  As for you, Piebald, one look will show me this woman’s face and why should I look more than once?”
She took the mirror, timidly but firmly, from the Un-man and looked into it in silence for the better part of a minute.  Then she let it sink and stood holding it at her side…
(The Un-man speaking)I would give you this mirror to keep…But you have reminded me there can be no gifts, no keeping, no foresight while you live as you do–from day to day, like the beasts.”
But the Lady did not appear to be listening to him.  She stood like one almost dazed with the richness of a day-dream.  She did not look in the least like a woman who is thinking about a new dress.  The expression of her face was noble. It was a great deal too noble.  Greatness, tragedy, high sentiment–these were obviously what occupied her thoughts.  Ransom perceived that the affair of the robes and the mirror had been only superficially concerned with what is commonly called female vanity.  The image of her beautiful body had been offered to her only as a means to awake the far more perilous image of her great soul.  The external and, as it were, dramatic conception of the self was the enemy’s true aim.  He was making her mind a theatre in which that phantom self should hold the stage.  He had already written the play.  (Perelandra, Lewis, pp137-139)

We have fallen in love with ourselves, with our own image, our own beauty. And worse, we have become the center of everything.  Self is the center of the great saga of life.  But this is so untrue.  In fact, we are barely supporting characters.  Jesus is the lead actor in this play that has spanned thousands of years.  Our existence is only here to support his own glory.

And I believe as long as we are at center, our souls and lives will feel misaligned, maligned with an innate sense that something is “off”. Just as physically When something is out of balance, we feel sick; so there are symptoms of sickness of soul. This sickness ails us each individually and is obviously affecting our modern society. And the root of our disease is self-gazing, self-focus. Maybe we should remove our mirrors & cameras.

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him. Isaiah 53:2

imageHow little does outward beauty matter to God? How much could it matter if His own son, God in flesh had zero beauty.  Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. What if we took a selfie of our hearts, our inner person?  Would we want to send that out to the world?

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty…You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Pet 3:3-4

 

Too many selfies.  Too much time thinking about self. Guilty.  Since reading this chapter, I haven’t stopped taking selfies, but I definitely take less and stop to think every time. Am I the star of this story (and also my own paparazzi)?  How can I put Christ at the center instead? Take my eyes off the mirror (or rear-facing camera) and back on Christ who’s beauty is beyond description.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror. James 1:23

 

My Birthday Prayer Wish List

birthday prayer peace

My Birthday Prayer Wishlist

So many people showering me with love today. It blesses me that God has allowed me to have such amazing friends. I thought I would selfishly take advantage of this day. So here’s my birthday wish: take 10 seconds right now & pray one of these prayers for me for this next year. (Or take 30 seconds & pray 3!)

This year give Lauren:

Grace to pray in spirit more.
Boldness
Insight & wisdom
Power to forgive quickly
Revival in my own heart
Revival in my family
Revival in my town.
Revival in my church
Perseverance in trials
Peace that passes understanding
Discernment
Increase thankfulness/gratitude
Let love abound in my marriage
fascinationFascination
Wisdom in mothering
Grace & strength to mother two
Overflowing love for others
A pure heart
Discipline to fast
Discipline to pray
Discipline to obey
Hunger for the word
Increase the spirit of prophecy
Protection from plots of enemy
Vision
Grace to give generously
Financial blessings
Servants spirit
Humility
Anointing to carry the presence of The Lord
Self-control in eating
Grace to eat healthy
Strong friendships
Grace to put others before myself
Grace to love God first

 

Thank you all! I love you.

Death and Birthdays

We live across from a graveyard.  Today, as I was walking down our driveway pulling Sofiadeath birthdays runholy behind in her wagon, I overheard “Taps” being played at a funeral. Such a haunting melody.  It stirs in your heart. I felt the poetry of the moment. New life in my belly. A toddler just beginning.  A funeral…And it’s my birthday tomorrow.

Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you! Psalms71:6

death and birthdays runholyWith each year passing so quickly and watching how fast my daughter and nieces are growing, the brevity of life is more apparent. But this is a comfort to me. Even walking through the graveyard (which I often do) is comforting. This is just a short internship on this earth and then the real life begins. With each birthday, I’m closer to the real celebration day. One day closer to Him. One day closer to really being with him.

Oh… I’m with him now too.  This I know.  The times surrounding my birthday seem to often lead to reflection.  I’ve had such sweet moments with God. Some of them were my darkest moments, but in those moments Christ love shines so brightly.  I can see how He has cared for me and watched over me all the days of my life.  One meaning of my name, Lauren, is “guarded of God”.  Truly, He has protected me and blessed me with His undeserved love. Completely undeserved.  I am one who has been forgiven much and therefore loves much.

Many of my friends can look at my life from the outside and see the radical change that has taken place because of God’s love and guidance. He has transformed me and displayed my life as a trophy of His grace and mercy.

My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection. Psalms71:7

The other night, I was telling my husband, Paul, an observation about pregnancy and life. At the end of pregnancy, you are so uncomfortable that you are completely ready to move on to D-day (delivery).  Even though it is painful and scary, you can’t take one more day of that misery.  I feel like life sort of ends the same way.  Even if you aren’t sick, your body has begun to break down.  Maybe it’s the same as the end of pregnancy, where you are ready to face D-day (death), to move on to the next season.

And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.

Don’t abandon me when my strength is failingPsalms71:9

Another birthday, another year, another milestone, another season of life.  And one thing remains the same.  God is still with me.  Every moment.  He was with me in the womb and He’ll be with me in the final moments.  And beyond.  So thankful.

Now that I am old and gray,

do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Psalms71:18

 

a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

Pointing a Daughter to Christ

Pointing a Daughter to Christ

I put in my headphones. Hmm… choose Luke 9 in the bible app on my phone. pointing a daughter to Christ“Lord, let the word be implanted in me tonight. I open my heart to you as I sleep.”

You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.  Ps17:3

I wake up to the rustling and chirping of my little redheaded 15-month old. Sometimes she sleeps late. This morning… it was 7:30. Hmmph. It takes every ounce of energy in this pregnant body to rise from my cozy bed (what makes my bed so cozy, Leachco Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow, Ivory)  & into her room. But as soon as I see her sweet smiling face underneath a mop of auburn bangs, I’m fueled by love. Diaper changed, I let Connor the dog out & scoop her into my arms. I hold her sitting in the loveseat in her room & wait for her to say it…

My steps have stayed on your path;
    I have not wavered from following you. Ps17:5

“Booah. Booah!” I pick up her “bible” and flip through the pages, pausing to read & sometimes sing on certain pages.

“Time for breakfast!” I sing. I pour her cereal & place fresh banana pieces on top, then splash in the cold milk. I fix my bowl the same. I sit down and bow my head. This breakfast prayer has become a survival staple. Some mornings all I can think to pray is “help”. Some mornings it’s longer. Always, after I lift my eyes, I find Sofia looking at me curiously as she half-spoons, half-finger feeds herself cereal and banana bits.

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
    Bend down and listen as I pray. Ps17:6

 

image“It’s time to get an outfiiit oooon…” Another silly mom song. More books. Play time. Go see cows. Walk outside. Discovery. Learning. Tired. Nap.

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. Ps17:7

Her rest time for mom to get busy. I try to decide between laundry & treadmill. Laundry. By the time it’s done, put away, and I’ve restored some semblance of order to the house where a toddler lives, she’s up. And rested.

Diaper. More books. Time for lunch. I try to choose something healthy. Cut my healthy choices up small for her plate. Prayer. Curious looks.

Errands . Cleaning. Time in prayer while Sofia plays with toys. Talk to husband. “Love him so much.” Store. Buy stuff for dinner. Something he’ll like. But healthy. Hmm. Get home. Clean up from lunch. Start dinner. Clean, straighten. I want it to look in order. I hope it gives him a slice of peace at the end of a difficult day.

But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones… Ps17:14

Dinner. We bow our heads and put our hands together in front of her. She reaches out and briefly touches our clasped hands but then starts into her food. We pray.

“It’s Baaathtime,” I sing my made up song that has become the bath time theme song. (Funny how becoming a mom has also turned my life into a musical.) She happily begins matching down the hall toward the bathroom.

Diaper. Pajamas. Bible. “Where your bear?” White noise. Sleep.

Dinner clean up. Television. News. Talking. Reading. Facebook. Email. Shower. Pjs. Melatonin. Love.

Finally still, I feel Kate wiggling. I smile.

May their children have plenty,
    leaving an inheritance for their descendants Ps17:14b

Before I put my headphones in, I pray, “God I hope I’ve led her well today. Led her to you. Led her to health & holiness. I hope she’s seen love in my example, and felt love from my heart.”

It’s just a regular day, but it’s a stone in her foundation, a precept upon precept, a small deposit into what her life will be. And all these ordinary days will accumulate one day into greater glory for both her & me.

In the silly songs, may she see the joy of Christ. In the diapers, may she see the servant hood of Christ. In the prayer , may she see the trustworthiness of Christ. In the embrace, may she see the love & strength of Christ. May everything I do & everything I give her point to him for all things are by him, through him, and to him.

He said to go & make disciples. And she is mine. And Kate will be also . I’m doing the best I can, lord. Just help me figure it out along the way.

I put in my headphones. I choose John 1 on the audio bible app. And listen as He feeds & washes my soul.

Because I am righteous, I will see you.
    When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied. Ps17:15

Good Versus Best: Have You Chosen God’s Perfect Will for Your Life?

Good Versus Best: Have You Chosen God’s Perfect Will for Your Life?

Doctrine of Confusion, Fear, & Regret

good versus best

 

 

This tweet popped on my phone yesterday. It reminded me how much I cant stand this theology of good versus best! I hate at the end where she says “Pray for wisdom!”  Like… Good luck to you! Hope you make it! Choose wisely or else…

 

Reminds me of this…

God’s good and perfect will versus the will that we choose. Try as you may to make the right choice & follow God’s plan for your life, you’re left always wondering if another choice would have been His “best” for you. Aaaah! And in the midst of the choice it’s even more confusing: should I take this job? Date/marry this person? Choose this career path? Move to this city? Join this ministry? Go to this church? And always before us the possibility of good and best. So frustrating! We are left wondering & afraid of choosing wrongly. while all the while living in possible regret & condemnation for past choices where we didn’t “wait for God’s best”.

A long time ago, I heard this testimony by Jennifer Toledo constantly she was talking about God speaking to her saying, “You can pick this now, aaaand eh…it will be good (said in a maybe kind of way), but it won’t be my best.”  Over and over this was said to her by God of her different choices.   This testimony haunted me.  Was God saying this to me about my choices? How many had I already picked that were “eh..good”?  I was so afraid to choose God’s good and not wait for His best.  And was He dangling the “good” in front of me to see if I would trust Him and wait for His “best”?  Was I close enough to Him to even hear him when He pointed out best? Wait- was that the best that I thought was good but really would have been best?

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

image

Sofia and the Shell

God spoke to me today through a shell not like metaphorically but a literal shell-two shells actually.

my daughter and I were sitting outside on this windy Oklahoma fall day. She trotted off discovering things in our overgrown front garden area. She came back with a tiny shell. She examined it with joy feeling it’s texture with her fingertips and tasting it at times with her tongue. After turning it over many times in her own hand,  she handed it to me. We began the game of me closing and opening my hand around the shell. It was a delightful good versus bestgame and her joy in it brought me joy.

Then I looked and just beyond where she had found the little shell was a big conk shell, 4 times the size with spirals of dimension & probably containing the majestic sound of the ocean. If she had just walked a bit more, if she had passed up the little shell, what delight would she have found with the amazing shell just beyond. But it wasn’t about the shell or which choice she made. It was just up to her to choose & then experience it with me. Dance this dance of discovery with me. The dance would have maybe been different with the big shell but none the more delightful. Was outside my or God’s perfect will for her to choose the smaller shell? Was this a good choice versus the best choice?  Would I even want her battling between the two or just enjoying choosing one and experiencing it with me?  And isn’t God a much better parent than I?choosing gods perfect will

Perelandra: Great & Swift Waves

It also reminded me of a book I’ve just finished by CS Lewis called Perelandra. Let me quote a page or two from it to you,

“What you have made me see,” answered the lady, “is as plain as the sky but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before – that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished – if it were possible to wish – you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.”

“And this… is the glory and wonder you have made me see; that it is I, I myself, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not: which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good.”

“I don’t see the wonder and the glory of it,” said Ransom.

Her eyes flashed upon him such a child flight about his thoughts as would’ve been scorning earthly eyes; but in that world it was not scorn.

“I thought,” she said, “that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves left the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. I feel as if I were living in that roofless world of yours where men walk undefended beneath naked heaven. It is a delight with terror in it! One’s own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands. How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths – but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.”

“And have you no fear,” said Ransom, “that it will ever be hard to turn your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil (God) sends? “

“I see,” said the lady presently. “The way you plunge into maybe very swift and great. You may need all your forced to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that? “

“Yes – or like a wave so swift and great that all your force was too little.”

“It often happens that way in swimming,” said the lady. “Is not that part of the delight?”

(Perelandra, Lewis p. 69-70)

Indeed, sometimes the waves that he sends so swift & great, they overwhelm us & nearly destroy us? But isn’t it these times, these choices of ours, that lead us into the deepest intimacy & deepest dependence on Him? Maybe we have chosen to dive into these waves; maybe another choice would have been smoother waters, but isn’t this part of the dance with Him-a dance of delight & discovery?

I have to tell you-I am the result of such a dive. My mom plunged into the “wrong” wave & my brother, my other sibling in heaven, and myself are the result.  Maybe some of my choices I have chosen the “good” instead of the “best” if that is even possible in God’s sovereignty.  But I am in good company.

The Company of “God’s Good” Choosers

Think of it:

  • Samson– Had he not chosen to be with Delilah, a wrong choice, a swift wave, he wouldn’t have suffered utter humiliation and had his eyes painfully torn from his face.  But this brought about humility in him and a nearness to God that we can see as he is paraded through the temple.  And had he not made this choice, would he have achieved the greatest victory for God, greater than any victory he had had to this point in his life?
  • Abraham– Certainly if anyone did not “wait for the best” and “awakened love before it’s time”, it was Abraham and Sarai with Hagar. But seeing who Abraham was, he probably was not trying to purposely make a choice outside of God’s promise.  Most likely he thought maybe He was choosing God’s way after all.  God works in mysterious ways, far above our comprehension, and Abraham knew this. I believe the children of Ishmael will work into God’s end-times plan to bring about His redemption.  God allowed this to happen, and it was His perfect will.
  • Jacob – would Jacob have wrestled with God, had he not made the choices to deceive (obviously not God’s best for his life)?
  • Jesus – yes Jesus.  After all, his being incarnated, coming to Earth, and dying was the result of a “wrong” choice. And yet the Word says he was “slain before the foundations of the world”.  So was this God’s best or his good?  Maybe God shouldn’t have settled for the good?  Maybe He should have waited for the best.

Yes- this thought is ridiculous. So, how then do we apply this to our own lives? There is no need to be afraid of the choices you are considering if you are one who loves God and desires to please Him.  His sovereignty has seen your choices and shaped them into a beautiful life that causes you to fall more in love with him and be changed from glory to glory.

The Greatest Choice: Love

And maybe those big choices aren’t really such “big” choices.  Which is more important: who you marry?  Or how you walk out that relationship daily?  You can marry God’s “best” and not only will it have it’s own struggles, but if you are selfish and hateful, then what good is marrying the “best” anyway.  Same thing with where you work, live, etc.

If theology is causing you confusion or stealing your peace, throw that bath water out. Return to what is simple and true about God. We must come to Him as children.  It’s not so complicated.  Even He said,

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

I have struggled with this for so long, but I felt I need to address it.  Don’t overcomplicate life. Pray for wisdom-yes-but don’t worry if you get it “wrong” every now and then.  He planned for that.

Love God first…..

 

P

ut God first….

Pray… and don’t worry.

 

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