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Daughter of a Narcissist – A Sermon Post

Daughter of a Narcissist – A Sermon Post

On being the daughter of a Narcissist and a sermon post…This is a somewhat personal post about a close friend’s dad. Many who know her know that there are issues and brokenness there.  They have seen many of the struggles, growing up and into adulthood.  Friends from her younger years were always sympathetic that her dad was “weird” and an “a**h&%$”.  In later life, she just heard things like “messed up” and “not right” regarding the way her dad related and his behavior especially as a father of a grown daughter.  What they may not know and what she has now realized is that she is the child of a narcissist. It was during their last painful “break-up” that God led her to some truth on narcissistic personality disorder that brought a lot of freedom to her heart and to her life.  She also realized that there are a lot of adults who are in her situation.

Gaining some insight, perspective, and not feeling alone in this situation really helped.  I don’t know if it made her hopeful that they would ever have a normal relationship as most of the research and testimony on narcissistic personality disorder is not very hopeful, but it showed her how to pray and how to understand their different roles and approaches in relationship.

Also, the bible teaches that as we grow in knowledge and depth of insight that we also grow or ABOUND in love.  I love that word abound. I think about just spilling over, or busting at the seems (like a big can of biscuits my friend Bekah would say).  As she gains insight on her dad’s brokenness, she can meet him there and love him. They might not have a relationship, but she can hold him in love in her heart…meaning she can think loving thoughts when she thinks of him, speak of him, pray for him. She feels this is her duty to honor him because he is the father that Go chose for her. Also, there is only joy found in love and freedom from resentment or bitterness. It’s hard to be bitter when you enter into their brokenness through the eyes of the Father.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,   Philippians 1:9

This sermon was one of the first resources she found that led her on this journey of revelation and freedom. I wanted to share along with a couple other resources for anyone going through the same type of struggle. I’ve also included a lot of material on a narcissistic personality disorder parent.

Power of a Clear Conscience Sermon on Narcissism

Transcript excerpt below:

A year or two ago I told you this story, but I need to retell it because of its relevance to my sermon. There was a man who went to his pastor and said, “You know, my wife is trying to poison me.” The pastor said, “No, wait! I know your wife. She’s a nice woman. There’s no way she’d try to poison you.” He said, “Pastor, she’s trying to poison me. I can even see the poison next to my plate.” He said, “There’s a part of my wife that you don’t understand. I suggest you talk to her.” Well later on that afternoon the pastor came back and said to the man, “You know, I spent three and a half hours speaking with your wife this afternoon. I have a suggestion for you.” He said, “What is it?” The pastor said, “Just take the poison.” (laughter)

 

Now the reason I’m preaching this message today is so that you don’t have to take the poison. You know, of course, that the theme of this series of messages is found in 1 Timothy 1:5. I hope it’s a verse that you memorize. Paul says this: “The aim of our instruction is love that flows from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” And I’d like to suggest to you today that those three words are related – to be able to have a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith, because if you don’t have a good conscience, you have no confidence toward God.

 

Now today we’re going to talk about the conscience in a negative sense, that is to say that the Bible has much to say about people who have a hardened conscience, and we’re going to be talking about them. For example, the Scripture is very clear. It says in 1 Timothy 2 that there will be teachers who are liars, whose consciences are seared. The King James says: “as with a hot iron.” We’re talking about those whose consciences are cauterized. That’s the word that is used there. They are without feeling.

 

And then also the Bible says in the book of Timothy that there are those who have a defiled conscience. And there’s a whole list of sins that they commit because their conscience is defiled, and they no longer know the difference between right and wrong, and they are blind to their own huge need.

 

There’s another passage that doesn’t mention the word conscience but my, is it ever relevant to what I am speaking about today. This is 2 Timothy 3:1 and following. I’m going to read the first five verses. You’ll notice it says, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self (That’s what I’m going to speak on today – lovers of self. Notice that the Apostle Paul put it at the head of all of the other sins that he lists.), lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless and (Wow!) unappeasable.” You know, I don’t know how other translations have that word, but this week I was thinking of unappeasable. What a description of some people! And then you’ll notice it says, “slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” “From such people,” Paul says, “turn away. Avoid them if you can.”

 

Well, that’s quite a list of sins, and what we would like to do today is to take a tour of the human heart. It’s going to be a very painful tour because I’m going to speak to you about narcissism, which is self-love, which stands at the head of all of these other sins. One way to deal with this would be for me to go through and explain what every one of these words means. In a sense I’m going to be doing that but I’m going to be doing it from a different perspective.

 

So as we speak, I want you to know that to some extent, and I’ll define narcissism in a moment, all of us are narcissists. All of us love ourselves. But there are some people – about 10% of the population – who are actually diagnosed as narcissistic. And these people exist in churches. They are in Christian leadership oftentimes. They can be involved in every one of the vocations. Whether they are attorneys or doctors or factory workers, narcissism – love of self – can be at the bottom of it. One other word, and that is that I am often going to be speaking about he, but it could equally apply to she because whether or not it’s men or women, both can be very narcissistic, as we’ll explain in a moment.

 

Well this is a topical message actually. I mention that this morning because there are some guests present who are theologians, and so I want them to simply know that I know that this is a topical message. Next week I’m going to speak on the topic why Lady Macbeth didn’t have to commit suicide and why you don’t have to either, and at that point we’re going to be in the book of Hebrews. But today a topical message on self-love!

 

 

 

Narcissism comes to us from Greek mythology. Narcissus was the son of a god supposedly, and he was in love with himself, and he was greatly admired by people. And the story goes that he looked into a pool and saw his image and fell in love with himself so that he couldn’t even eat. He became almost anorexic because he was so enamored with how beautiful he looked, and so we have narcissism.

 

The other day as I was meditating, it dawned on me that when Satan said to Adam and Eve, “You shall be like God,” that, of course, was fulfilled in some sense that now man is his own god, and I asked myself this question: What is it that God does that the narcissist does? Well, first of all, whatever God does is right. The Bible says our God is in the heavens. He has done whatever He has pleased. By definition, whatever God does is right. The narcissist believes that he’s always right. You can’t teach him anything. He doesn’t learn anything. Because he has this air of superiority, he knows it all. He already has a better perspective than anyone else.

 

Another characteristic of God is that everything exists for Him. The Bible says in the book of Revelation that all things were created for God, and for His pleasure they were created. Now let me describe a narcissist. He is someone who processes all information through two important questions. How does this make me look? How does this make me feel? Feeling good about himself is incredibly important, and if you mention that someone else is successful he will become very, very envious and even angry that he is not recognized, because everyone else exists for what could be called narcissistic supply, namely to feed their ego. So they have a sense of entitlement. They really believe that the world owes them, and when the world doesn’t stand up and give them what they believe they deserve, what you’ll find is a great deal of anger, disappointment and depression because people aren’t just recognizing who they really are.

 

Continue reading, listening, watching this sermon here.

A Daughter’s Journey with a Narcissistic Dad

Honestly, Rachelle’s dad was not around very much.  He was in a specialized unit in the military that left him gone a lot. She sees now that even his decision to be in this unit put his needs before his children or family.  She has watched her brother make a different choice in his military career to put his children and family first.  This made her heart very proud and happy for him.  This specialized unit also served to fuel his ego, and this fuel is something that the narcissist seriously needs. So she is able to look back on that decision that seems hurtful and unloving to her or at least to set a low value on her importance to her dad and see that it had nothing to do with her or her value.

Later in life, she began to relate to my dad as an adult. At this point, he had divorced her mom after having multiple affairs. Even this, she is able to see that her mom held her dad on a high pedestal most of their marriage and needed him to a codependent, unhealthy level.  When he was no longer the center of her worship, he lost his need for her and began looking for admiration from other women.

It’s not until many years later that the life experiences of the child of the narcissist start to make a little more sense. Friends often catch glimpses of the kind of ‘crazy’ parenting these individuals received, so he or she starts to get a healthy reality check like this: “Your mom is insane,” or “Your Dad is seriously messed up.” -Psychology Today

Anyway, from the very beginning she was sent into this whirl wind of insanity.  As this pastor says in his sermon, narcissist have their version of reality and truth.  They sometimes present it very convincingly.  Especially if they have been your dad for so many years, the narcissist sort of sucks you in to this other reality, and those close to them start to feel a little…actually a lot… crazy.  When she didn’t go along with his reality or tried to break from it, her dad was quick to end the relationship altogether. His world, his future, and his needs were what mattered, and anything that she might do to interfere with his happiness or any of this was not worth the risk.  Never mind, this is your daughter.  Again, this was mind-boggling to everyone around her, and mostly the only explanation was that her dad was “messed up”.

It was at this point that he began using manipulation to cause family separation, confusion, and contention. Narcissism is straight from the devil who wants no part of a peaceful, happy, loving family. This has continued to this day…10 years later.  Her family is constantly splintered, partially reconciled, splintered again cycled around his deception and  manipulation.  The narcissist views family members, even his own mother or children as objects.  There is a disconnect where he cannot feel what normal people feel about their family.  Understanding this lack of this ability of empathy has helped her so much.

Recently, her dad attempted to sue her over something that he knows is untrue as he was the one that emailed them copies of all the check receipts involved.  But honestly even though he sent her the physical evidence, if he has convinced himself that the lie is reality then I’m not sure if evidence will matter. I’ve learned from researching NPD that this amazing fact is true…

If a narcissist tells himself the sky is purple long enough, then a purple sky becomes a very concrete reality in his mind.

It’s not something I can speak very openly about since it is ongoing…But the heartbreaking part of his maliciousness was that even though they have not spoken, he knows she is very pregnant. Not only is this inconsiderate of her welfare but of the welfare of his grand-daughter also.

runholy-child of narcissistA normal dad would want the best for his daughter and his grandchildren.  A normal dad would put her needs above his own. I cannot imagine pursuing something like this with my daughter in the future no matter what she had done or even if she actually owed me anything. But when these thoughts come to her, that’s when she has to remind herself that he is not a normal dad. He is sick…broken, and it does not reflect her value.

Hope for the child of a narcissist

I’m sad that most of what I have read online says that adult children of narcissist have only the option for an estranged relationship or one so limited by boundaries that it can hardly be considered a relationship. Even when they were on speaking terms in the middle of estrangements, the conversations were very superficial (mostly pleasantries) which I’ve also read is VERY common in children’s adult relationships with NPD parents. But I believe there is hope for a couple of reasons.

  1.  Remember that you have had and will always have a dad in heaven that loves you, who wants the best for you, and holds such a powerful love for you that he would die for you.
  2. This relationship with God, Father can become very intimate as it may the only true father relationship you know. God has been there for her when her biological father was not.  God has held her and comforted her when her biological father caused her pain. God has been a very real father figure in her life, and she’s blessed by this.
  3. With God, all things are possible. Through prayer, I believe the narcissist’s heart can be softened and mind transformed. Not that these people can’t pose a significant challenge for the LORD, but I believe he is up for the challenge.  So there is hope that through prayer her father and their relationship CAN be restored.
  4. God is your defense and shelter. David was attacked by his father-in-law. It’s hard when someone who is supposed to love you and seek your best, seeks to harm you.  But God is protective of his children even against your own family. He will guard you and bring justice. Run to him in the midst of attack.

Number 5:  This may not seem so…but it IS hopeful.  I wanted to give you another sermon link that you may need for the loved one or parent struggling with narcissism.  This is not advice that I give, receive , or apply lightly. The sermon is In Defense of Imprecatory Prayers.  I listed this sermon in my favorite sermons list not long ago because it is on a topic that is not discussed a lot, but chances are most Christians have had a question about these strange prayers of David that seem like curses. This sermon answers a lot of those questions.

My advice is that if God leads you, consider praying the imprecatory psalms over the life of your narcissistic loved one. Many times the npd person will not seek help until they have reached the “end of himself”. The imprecatory prayers are a last measure to remove the protection of God from their lives.  It may be the most merciful prayer you can pray for your parent although I’ll tell you right now these psalms are heartbreaking and you will probably weep as the words come out of your mouth.

“My heart was ripped apart the night I prayed the imprecatory psalm over my dad, but I felt deeply that it might be his only chance at freedom and felt God’s clear leadership in taking this step.” -Rachelle

“One thing I’ve learned is that the narcissist is not free. He is God’s son and God wants him to be free. But instead the enemy keeps him in bondage of fear, resentment, bitterness, paranoia, hate, isolation, disappointment, feeling worthless, perfectionism, … Narcissism is a prison. The worst narcissist of all longs to pull others into his same type of prison. But understand that whoever he is, the narcissist is a very beloved child of God. God wants connection with this son and for this son to walk in the freedom that Christ paid for.  This is the greatest hope that we can cling to.” -Rachelle, on her dad

Resources on Narcissism, NPD, and the Narcissistic Parent Relationship

The long material below was very helpful in understanding why Rachelle’s dad did a lot of the things that he did.  It’s a lot, but if you have struggled with this and continue to struggle as an adult, I would recommend taking it all in. Also…

child of a narcissist - RunHoly.com

Here is the source for the below content on narcissism.

The symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder include the following:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

Children of a Narcissist parent…When their children grow to become more independent, the narcissistic parent may feel jealous or envious of the child. Children of Narcissistic Parents must adhere to the agenda of the Narcissistic Parent for their lives to be stable. Asserting their feelings, their rights, or their thoughts can lead to much bigger problems.

Here are some terms that I found especially helpful in understanding many aspects of their relationship:

Triangulation: a tactic used by narcissistic parents to change the balance of power in a family system. For example, rather than allowing two siblings to work together, the Narcissistic Parent insists that he or she be the go-between. This controls the way the information flows, the way it is interpreted, and adds nuances to the conversation. It’s also a way to feed Narcissistic Supply.

Narcissistic Supply: is a term used to designate the manner in which narcissists require, feed on attention. The best sorts of attention are approval, adoration, and admiration, but other sources of attention – like fear – are acceptable to a Narcissist. Children, small children, of narcissists are used as an ongoing source of this attention.

Gaslighting: a way in which Narcissistic Parents (and other abusers) use lies – intentional or not – to make their child question his or her own reality. A child may end up feeling as though he or she is crazy. An example would be, insisting that the sky is actually green, until the child believes it. Gaslighting is one of the most insidious forms of emotional and psychological abuse.

Traits of Narcissistic Parents:

While these traits may not match all Narcissistic Parents, what follows are some common traits of Narcissistic Parents:

1) A Narcissistic Parent has difficulty understanding the emotions of empathy and how to create meaningful connections. As the personal needs of Narcissistic Parents dominate, these parents have little room for the needs of anyone else. It makes it almost impossible for these Narcissistic Parents to relate to the feelings and meet the physical and emotional needs of their children.

2) A Narcissistic Parent owns the successes of his or her children. In a Narcissistic Parents mind, he or she has been sacrificing everything for his or her child – the child must retaliate by performing at or above expectations. These childhood achievements are then owned by the Narcissistic Parent as their own, “he’s a great soccer player – it’s my genetics. I was always athletic, too.”

3) Narcissistic Parents must be in control. No matter what. A Narcissistic Parent controls his or her children by dictating how these children should feel, should act, and the decisions to be made. This can lead to adult children of Narcissistic Parents being unsure of what they, themselves, like and want out of life. These Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents never learn to be autonomous and make his or her own decisions.

4) Narcissistic Parents emotionally blackmail their children. A Narcissistic Parent often is indulgent, kind, and sweet if a child is behaving in the way their Narcissistic Parent wants. However, the moment a child is disobedient, a Narcissistic Parent becomes enraged and cruel. This show of “I love you, go away,” creates insecurity and dependency among children of Narcissistic Parents.

She had issues with her dad attempting to control her (and others in his family) in these ways:

 Guilt-Driven Control: “I’ve given my life for you. I’ve sacrificed it all.” This method of control creates a feeling of obligation in children; that they “owe” their Narcissistic Parents and must behave in a certain way to make their parents happy.

Love Withdrawal Control:You’re worthy of my love ONLY BECAUSE you behave the way I expect you to.” So long as their children are behaving properly, a Narcissistic Parent will be loving. That love disappears the moment a child doesn’t meet expectations.

There are other ways explained here.

How Do Narcissistic Parents Abuse Their Children?

Narcissistic Parents have many subtle – and some not-so-subtle- ways in which they abuse their children. I have struggled with many of these (if not all) with my dad.

  • Compulsively lying to children
  • Ignores and/or overwhelms the children
  • Neglects needs of the child
  • Makes child feel as though he/she does not matter
  • Puts parental needs far above those of the children
  • Distorts the concept of “love”
  • Manipulation for pleasure
  • Says one thing one day, something else the next
  • Untrustworthy
  • Uses the child’s vulnerabilities to exploit the child
  • Subtly and not-subtly insults children
  • Ignores personal boundaries
  • Treats others as objects, not people
  • Makes child feel as though he or she is insane

child of a narcissist - runholyWhat Happens To The Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents?

Growing up with all emotional needs unmet, becoming a “mini-adult,” being the product of so much emotional abuse takes a tremendous toll on a child of a Narcissistic Parent. If the Narcissistic Parent does not stop the abuse or the child does not receive adequate help, one of two scenarios happens to adult children of Narcissistic Parents.

1) The child grows to have narcissistic traits, and becomes a Narcissistic Parent to his/her own children. This perpetuates the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse.

2) The child becomes a “covert” or “inverted” narcissist who remains codependent and may actually seek out abusive relationships with other narcissists.

I’m The Adult Child of A Narcissistic Parent…What Now?

Healing from such a traumatic childhood is absolutely a daunting task. Having your own emotional needs unmet for so long may make the notion of recovery seemingly impossible. It’s not. Here are some guidelines for recovery for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents.

This article gives some great advice on the “what now” issue from a psychological standpoint.  I would definitely recommend reading these, but put them back in the framework of a godly Christian perspective.

Do I Stay In Contact With My Narcissistic Parent?

Separating yourself from the sort of codependency that’s common from Narcissistic Parents may seem daunting. Sure, they were emotionally (or physically)(or both) abusive, but your Narcissistic Parent is STILL your parent.

As an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent, you have two options:

1) Total Estrangement – no contact, nothing, with your Narcissistic Parent.

2) Measured Contact – contact, but limited interaction with Narcissistic Parent.

If you choose to keep measured contact with your Narcissistic Parent, be very sure to follow some strict, clear guidelines:

  • Create very clear boundaries. Don’t reward your parent for crossing them. Be clear, but firm. If they show up unannounced, explain nicely that you are too busy to visit with them.
  • Shield your own children from their Narcissistic Grandparent. They do not need to be exposed to their toxic behaviors.
  • Rather than explain that you do not want to hear their advice, echo and mirror whatever the Narcissistic Parent says. Do whatever you’d planned to do anyway.
  • Go through a third party as your Narcissistic Parent ages – do not allow them to rely upon you and you alone as they need care.
  • Provide information on a “need to know” basis only. Just because your Narcissistic Parent tells you everything doesn’t mean you must reciprocate.

More Resources on Narcissism

https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/being-a-child-of-narcissists-breaking-the-silence/

https://theinvisiblescar.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/surviving-the-narcissistic-parent-acons-adult-children-of-narcissists/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201303/the-narcissistic-father

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201405/narcissistic-parents-psychological-effect-their-children

 

 

Quitting Cookies. Two Week Plant Based Challenge, During Pregnancy

Plant based lunch - RunHoly.com

Quitting Cookies. Two Week Plant Based Challenge, During Pregnancy

“Let’s eat clean (he means plant based when he says this) until Thanksgiving!” Those are the words my husband dared to speak to my pregnancy-fatigued soul, amidst moving boxes and off-schedule toddlers.  I looked it up today “how many days until thanksgiving, Google?”  16 days.  Basically two weeks.  So, I decided to blog about our 2 week plant based challenge.

Now, I accepted this challenge because number one- I love my husband! But also,  I have gone crazy this pregnancy. Candy, cookies, sweets have been a staple in my diet.  Not only has it made me feel crappy and low-energy, but I know it’s not good for little unborn baby Haven. Plant-based makes me feel energetic and great! So, I’m hoping this two week plant based challenge will set me back on course to have a more plant based, nutritious diet.  This will also make it easier when I switch back to normal eating after pregnancy cravings have dwindled.  I’m just focusing on keeping the diet exactly that – plant BASED, meaning the foundation of every meal is plants.  I’m not stressing over keeping it vegan.  And I’m not stressing over portions.  If I want a whole head of kale, well I’ll just eat until I am satisfied and filled.

Day One of the Two Week Plant Based Challenge

This is day one. So tired. Moving all weekend was rough. And I’m determined to complete all my Piyo workouts on my 8-week schedule so that means 2 workouts today. I see the schedule taped to the wall. Ugh. But that’s later. Time to get the girls ready for daycare/work. I struggle with Sofia who is about as excited about getting up as her mama.

Kate actually slept through the night, and I’m so glad we didn’t have a repeat of the night before where I ended up sleeping with her after two hours of crying/consoling/crying/…. Shew that girl is stubborn!   Paul changes her diaper & I put her clothes on. Then Paul & Fia head to the city and Kate and I head to the office.

But not before I make a vegan chocolate shakeology shake. I throw a cup of strong coffee into the blender so that maybe that will help. It doesn’t really. I feel like the walking dead for a good hour and a half. Grandpa takes baby Kate with him to the bank, and I use a small reserved energy to accomplish office tasks.

On on my way home from lunch around 1 I swing by the store. The checker comments on how healthy my diet is. LOL. If only she knew I had chicken wings, riesens & twizzlersfor dinner last night.

When I got home,my mom was walking with Kate to the playground. Guess grandpa & grandmother had switched. It’s sort of nice having all your family so close. (I basically live in a commune now. Lol.) but it’s AMAZING when you’re 31 weeks pregnant & been moving for the last week.

I whipped per up this lunch. Eggplant parm patties and lemon tahini kale. The patties are adopted from this recipe, but I threw on a handful of shredded Parmesan before forming it into balls. Also I cook it on the stove as patties rather than oven meatballs.) Then I continuously flatten & flip in the sauté pan because I like it that way!

While led that was cooking, I poured this lemon tahini dressing (I use grated Parmesan instead of nutritional yeast; but I’ve had it both ways, and both are good) over a bowl of chopped kale. I mixed it in and then threw all of it in a sauté pan and cook covered, adding water as needed. I take it out when it’s soft but still bright green. the kale is sort of adapted from this recipe.

I really want a cookie when I finish lunch. I am terrible when it comes to sweets during pregnancy. I have a handful of frozen grapes instead, and start my Piyo workout.  Today I did Strength Intervals and half of Core.  The core workout is so great for pregnant ladies.  The majority of the moves are in prone/plank or standing.  There’s only about 5 minutes of it that I can’t do because it’s on my back.  And it provides so much strength work to keep those abdominals tight and strong (good for bouncing back to a somewhat flat tummy postpartum and for PUSHING during labor.  Here’s a few other reasons why PiYo is awesome for pregnancy.  Seriously love the way this workout makes me feel!


Pregnancy PiYo - RunHoly.com
We had a salad for dinner with onions, tomato, cheese, carrots, romaine, avocado, and a little too much dressing.  At night when I am craving something sweet, I have some shakeology (any chocolate protein mix would probably work) protein brownie mix that I made kind of like these only I never shaped them into brownies, just ate it like batter.  I went to bed satisfied and feeling very accomplished that I went 24 hours without a cookie.

Hi, my name’s Lauren and it’s been 1 day since my last cookie.   

Here is my meal plan for this first week.  I may not stick to it exactly, but it gives me a foundation to work with.  I find it makes meal planning and “clean eating” easier when I use repeat meals. When the meals are creative, colorful, flavorful, diverse, etc… it doesn’t feel monotonous to me at all.

RunHoly Plant-based Meal Plan week 1

 

If for some reason, you want to download this meal plan, you can do that by clicking here: RunHoly.com plant based meal plan – week 1

 

 

 

 

 

Fit, Fat, Fun Pregnancy – What’s Your Pregnancy Style?

Fit, Fat, Fun Pregnancy – What’s Your Pregnancy Style?

2 approaches to pregnancy weight gain

About 8 months pregnant

Fit, Fat, Fun Pregnancy – What’s Your Pregnancy Style?  As I near the end of this, most likely my last, pregnancy.  I’m just reflecting on all three pregnancies and the 2 approaches to pregnancy as far as fitness, nutrition, and mind set. I’m wondering if this reflection might help someone in the future.

So I’m currently in the basketball belly phase of pregnancy. You know that one right after “beer gut?” and right before “Oh My God!”. Ya I’m beyond that phase where people tell me I “don’t even look pregnant” (subscript… just look fat). I am definitely pregnant-looking with the belly right out in front on display. And right before the next phase where I madly rush into the shower, avoiding all brief glimpses of my reflection and the alien level of stretching that my body does right between the 9th and 10th month of pregnancy. No matter how many times I’m pregnant, it still freaks me out.

Fitness During 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pregnancy
First “fit” pregnancy I ran several miles a day including a half marathon at about 6 months pregnant. I switched over to walking towards the end but still maintained a couple miles a day. I definitely took the first approach to pregnancy during this time.

The “fat, fun” second pregnancy, I was doing strength and HIIT training at the beginning. When I couldn’t do that anymore because of sports hernia (probably due to all the running my 1st pregnancy), I half-way committed to something called Battle Rope Training which is actually awesome during pregnancy.

Third “fat, fun” Pregnancy: This pregnancy is a little (actually a lot) different. Pretty much the entire second trimester, I was unable to even walk more than 1/4th mile without terrible pain. I started to get really depressed after a couple months and started looking for solutions. By wearing 2 different support belts, I was able to take my girls for short (2 mile max) walks. And I found PiYo! I made a calendar for 8 weeks and decided I would commit, no matter what, to doing these fairly easy workouts. I’ve kept that commitment for 2 weeks now. It just feels so great to be back sort of active and have that sense of “me” and accomplishment, however small.

Nutrition During 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pregnancy
First pregnancy, I remember that I wouldn’t eat vanilla wafers because I was afraid of what processed foods would do to the baby. That’s funny now. After the brief nausea period, I returned to eating salads and fruits. I ate a ton of frozen yogurt  and fruit when I craved sweets or ice cream.

Second pregnancy, I had a longer period of nausea. Honestly, I have no idea what I ate. I had a very young toddler…so think Cheez-Its. I think I tried to make healthy choices, but I pretty much just gave into the junk and sweets. Third pregnancy. Wow. Once the nausea subsided it was like a candy bar massacre by my bed every night until my body gained 10 lbs in a month. Then the junk cravings ebbed. Now, one of my other commitments is to have a shake like shakeology at least once a day. And to eat one plant-based vegan meal. The rest of the day is filled with junk. And I mean JUNK!

2 Approaches to Pregnancy Weight Gain and Recovery

First approach Fit Women take to Pregnancy: Fight your instincts. Stay Fit at all costs (to your sanity).

I think there are 2 approaches fit women take to pregnancy weight gain and recovery.  And I’ve taken both of them. I’ve seen the differences and there are positives and negatives to both. There is the approach where you delve deep into your self-control throughout the entire 10 months.  You tell yourself no to nearly every craving and appetite surge.  You force yourself to go for a run when you feel like napping.  The result is that at your 6 week postpartum appointment, you will receive looks of utter contempt when you walk in with your flat tummy and pre-pregnancy jeans.  I’ve been that girl. It’s sort of nice, but I don’t know if it’s worth fighting against God and nature for 9 months.  I remember a text that my brother sent me between my salads and 7 mile walks/runs. Sometimes guys say the simplest things that are so profound!

“Lauren, you realize you’re SUPPOSED to get FAT, right?”

2 approaches to pregnancySure I was smiling telling everyone about the joys of a fit pregnancy. But…I was fighting it hard. And it actually felt very unnatural. And actually… it is.  In a healthy pregnancy, you are supposed to gain 8-10 lbs just in body fat probably so that when you breastfeed, your body has something to pull from.  Otherwise you end up looking like a concentration camp victim in those months after pregnancy. I believe God made the system.  When you study all the hormonal changes that happen so that you will have cravings and overeat, you will see that He put some thought and work into the pregnancy process of making you get faaaaaat.  It’s actually a beautiful thing.  I see women with their cherub like plumb faces and full hips and smile thinking about how God feels about this season of our lives. He is happy about the sacrifice where women are willing to give up who they are for a season and embrace the beauty of baby making.

The negative…

  • You have to hold on so tight to control.  Putting so much energy into fighting your instincts. It can be frustrating and feel in ways like self-control bondage. You will probably be in a bad mood…often. Because you are hungry, in a constant state of self-denial.
  • You may lose a tooth or two.  I actually lost a tooth right after this pregnancy.  There was no saving it. The baby had taken what it needed.  No matter how healthy and nutritious you eat, not enough calories is not enough calories and it can do bad things to your body.  Along those same lines… Your face and skin will age.  Ever seen Hollywood celebs or those moms that stay skinny during/right after pregnancy and how they look about 10 years older?  This happened to me also. It took many months (and chemical months) for me to get some elasticity back and not look “aged”.
  • You will have haters.  See my next point.
  • You will be full of yourself. I remember taking this pic and putting it up on social media of me holding my weeks-old newborn, of course in a side-profile pose, so that everyone on social media could see that I looked like I hadn’t even had a baby (except for the obvious fact that I was holding a newborn).  What was I trying to prove?  Well I had denied myself and stayed pissed and frustrated for 9 months!!!! I wanted to show off!!  But what is the point of this? To boost my poor self-worth and identity by making others feel jealous, resentful or bad.  I see other moms taking these pics and posting them. And now, having been one of them, I just kind of grimace thinking how they will feel when they make this realization later themselves.

The positive…

  •  You don’t have to spend so much energy in the months after pregnancy.  You don’t have to fight for a restoration in your self-control.  You can maintain all of your working out and nutrition habits picking up right where you left off.
  • Your clothes and wardrobe.  Bye-bye maternity (if you even ever had to switch over to maternity).  Hello pre-pregnancy clothes…like within weeks of giving birth.  And actually after a couple of months, when you begin to look like that concentration camp victim, you can buy some new clothes fit for a runway model (like Kate Moss).
  • You will have confidence.  You did something really hard and maintained self-control in fitness in nutrition throughout.  (see above point on being full of yourself)

The Second Approach Pregnancy: Give in for a season. Get fat. Have fun. Then fight later to get back to fit.

This is the one that most (even fit women) women choose I think. Let go. Give into the junk cravings and hibernation instinct. Enjoy how awesome ALL food tastes (seriously one time I announced in normal conversation that food tasted even better than when I used to smoke weed! I have no filter when I’m pregnant…ugh), and a season of freedom (most of the time) from guilt.  Enjoy resting your body and taking a reprieve from intense workouts (or workouts at all).  Step out from under the pressure of a fitness life style for a few months.

The negative…

  • You will gain more weight and probably lose some muscle.
  • You will look at those smiling “fit pregnancy” blog posters and feel guilty. Don’t read those.
  • You will probably find satisfaction and pleasure in the wrong things: sweets, junk, and the chemical brain release these drugs will give you.
  • You will have to strap down for a few months after pregnancy.  Two-a-day workouts and a very clean (restricted) diet.  Many fit women are able to bounce back to their normal fit bodies within 6 months.
  • But… for 6 months you will feel strange in your own skin.  For 6 months you will be limited in wardrobe not wanting to continue wearing maternity but not fitting yet into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
  • Possibly another negative is for the baby. But as long as you are taking pre-natals and enough calcium, the baby will get all she needs and be more likely to be healthy if you gain too much than all the risks to her if you gain too little.

The positive…

  • You will be on the same journey that most pregnant women are on after pregnancy.  You will find community, friendship, and smiles in the doctor’s office at your postpartum.
  • You will give your body and person a rest.  A season to just have fun and enjoy being a fat pregnant lady. Rest your body, take it easy.  And take a break from society’s pressures.
  • When you get back to it…You will enjoy the thrill of working out again and shaping your body back into the sculpted shape it once was in.  It’s amazing how wonderful working out feels once you are able to again with new endorphin-driven energy.  You have your natural energy back and the thrill of working out that you used to enjoy is all the sudden new to you again. You fall in love with fitness all over again.
  • And with nutrition.   You get the chance to delve back into nutritious eating in a deeper and more satisfying way. It takes a little extra oomph to get back to where you were, and this results in learning new nutrition (and fitness) strategies that might have been left undiscovered had you not been faced with the challenge. After my second pregnancy (where I took this 2nd approach), I became plant-based, vegan.  I loved it.  I could feel my internal systems cleaning and becoming new.
  • You will embrace pregnancy and being a mom.  When you let go, you are not resentful of pregnancy robbing you of your fit body.  You disconnect your worth and identity from what you look like. You realize that people in your life, especially the new life you created, love and cherish you for the beauty that you are not what you look like. This clean slate experience allows you to enter back into your fitness journey afresh.  No longer is there a harmful connection to your worth, but you are merely having fun doing what you love (and cherishing the body God gave you).

Conclusion

There are probably some in between ways to approach pregnancy too.  Heck. You could take a couple years off afterward and just focus on being a mom, giving little thought to your nutrition and fitness.  I’ve seen some friends do this. For some, it was a vanity-crusher (in a good way) for some it was a soul-crusher causing them to feel depressed.  Some just let go a little during pregnancy, and then have a little less work to do afterward.  It’s actually just as aggravating (for me anyway) to go this route. And if I just go ahead and give into a craving to eat 3 candy bars a night for two weeks, my hormones adjust my appetite and cravings for the weeks after (where I naturally crave and eat less).

The funny thing is.  I’m on track to gain about the same this pregnancy as I did my last.  And this weight gain is only different than the first, restrictive-approach pregnancy by about 7 lbs.  The result is that I ended up actually a lot fitter 9 months after my second pregnancy than I was 9 months after my first pregnancy.  I ended up more humble too, in a better place spiritually.

The fat, fun approach to pregnancy definitely has had more positives for me. But maybe for some, the fit approach would be healthier.  I think the approach you choose to take is yours.  We are all wired differently and have different hang-ups and issues. You will probably find your own unique approach to pregnancy. It’s between you and God. Only He knows what is best.  I just wanted to give some feedback on my experience with both ways.

***But please….whatever you do…don’t take that early, post-partum, side-profile body pose picture. Everyone knows why you are posting it. You won’t get as many of the “I can’t believe you just had a baby!” comments you were wanting. If you are posting one of these or have, I highly recommend taking the FAT pregnancy approach next time if there is a next time. It’s probably what your soul/spirit needs.***

 

Peace and wholeness,

 

Lauren

Peace in Pain: Resting in God’s Nature

peace in pain

Peace in Pain: Resting in God’s Nature

How to have peace and joy in the midst of storms

The last few months I have had peace in pain, and I wanted to share in case anyone reading this is going through something painful…Maybe this will encourage you and allow you the ability to have peace in your pain or storm also…

peace in pain

I have been going through something lately that brought about a startling realization. I don’t want to be specific, and I know that’s a little annoying… But let’s just say it’s a personal attack that should definitely be classified in the “turbulent storm” category.  It’s left me unscathed, un-rattled and actually feeling more love, faith, joy, thankfulness, and peace.  It makes no sense especially since I am 8 months pregnant. It’s like Jesus sleeping in the boat amidst a tsunami storm.  My first thought was actually if there was some way that I could secretly send a gift to my attackers.  My next thought was how God was going to bless me as a direct result of this attack.  I was actually excited about the attack because it gave God even more right to bless me and my family!

Part of the reason for this strange reaction I really think is due to this pastor…


Graham Cooke. This man has transformed my understanding of God over the past years.  I feel sometimes like I’m riding the coat tails of his intimacy with the Lord.  I love how he begins with the need for “marthas” and “marys”.  At IHOP, Mary was held in high esteem and we were basically taught that we should all be “marys” all the time, but Graham Cooke​ makes a very logical statement against this in the beginning.

I highly recommend listening to Cooke, often.  I have found myself many times recalling something he has said when I go through something rocky.  Here’s some of the things that have stuck with me through his teachings.

1.  No matter the situation, God is good. His nature is kind.  And even if the situation says otherwise, you can rest in perfect peace in the promises of God and in His nature.

2. If you are going through something difficult and it is because someone is attacking you, not only will God defend…but He will bless you in direct relation to the amount and type of attack.  So, look for the blessing.  And we can actually for this reason THANK God when attack comes because it is opening the door for blessing.

3. You fight and even punish the enemy with the fruits of the spirit.  When the enemy comes at you with an attack to cause fear and anxiety, your weapons are joy, faith, and peace.  We can actually cause the enemy grief and pain by thanking and praising God and maintaining perfect peace and joy.

 

Another sermon on Mary’s and Martha’s that was simple yet profound.

Weekly Meal Plan Chart – *FREE* Printable

blank weekly meal plan chart - RunHoly.com

Weekly Meal Plan Chart – *FREE* Printable

I created this blank weekly meal plan chart (printable version) for anyone needing something to get your meal planning organized for the week. Weekly Meal Plan – Printable meal plan chart

 

I’ve been getting a little out of control this pregnancy, so I had this lofty idea of meal planning for the week to sort of reign in my out-of-control eating patterns.  I’m going to be making it plant-based so that I can get back in those eating habits.  I still eat 1-2 meals a day that are plant-based, vegan (with the other meal being donuts, or a bag of Riesens, or Sonic breakfast burrito…I know, I know).   I’m hoping that with a little planning, my tendency to just eat whatever, whenever will be curtailed.

 

Half the reason for my lousy eating is cravings  & appetite (baby wants momma to get faaaaaat), but the other half I think is just laziness or being tired.  I’m too tired to think about what I’m going to eat, too tired to prepare it…. I’m thinking if I could weekly meal prep or weekly meal plan that I might be more likely to fuel my body in a more controlled and nutrient-rich way.

 

Maybe?  Like I said, this is a lofty goal.  But hey, at least I am trying.

Pregnancy Pain Relief: Hernia, Lower Ligament, & Vulvar Varicosities

pregnancy pain relief: piyo during pregnancy

Pregnancy Pain Relief: Hernia, Lower Ligament, & Vulvar Varicosities

 

Earlier I wrote a post about many solutions for vulvar varicosities. I wanted to write a post about two solutions that worked to give me the pregnancy pain relief I was looking for. I’ve found 2 solutions for pregnancy pain relief: hernia, lower ligament, and vulvar varicosities (varicose veins “down there”) pain specifically.  I feel like myself again…well almost.  But I am able to be active again for the first time.  I’ve worked out every day and taken my girls on lots of walks.  I actually just got back from walking to the library and the grocery store!  I had really begun to grow depressed because of the lack of pregnancy pain relief and how that pain paralyzed me.

My lifestyle is normally very active.  I love red wine and walking EVERYWHERE I can.  Maybe I’m European??  I also look forward to a challenging workout each day that leaves me feeling accomplished. These things became nearly impossible when hernia pain combined with lower ligament pain which then combined with vulvar varicosities (these are varicose veins near the vagina.)  The pressure and pain had grown to such a level that I would have to sit down every 5 minutes and take breaks from even normal daily chores.

The First Solution for Pregnancy Pain: Pregnancy Belts

By combining two different belts, I was able to stabilize my pelvic area sufficiently enough to walk more than 2 miles at a time.  While before this would have basically put me on bed rest that night and the next day, now there is no additional pain!

Here are the two belts I am using:

  1. Gabriella pregnancy belt
  2. Medical Hernia belt

I wear some short yoga shorts underneath to prevent chafing. First I put on the hernia belt.  Then I fasten the Gabriella pregnancy belt OVER the hernia belt which makes it very secure.  This combination has been a miracle for giving me the joys of walking again.  If you have pregnancy pain that is limiting you, I suggest you give this a try!

 

The Second Solution for Pregnancy Pain: PiYo!!!

This workout from Beachbody called PiYo has been a God send!! Basically it is a combination of pilates and yoga. Let me tell you, I feel amazing after each workout!  It is virtually ZERO impact yet leaves you sweaty and challenged. There is a modification for all of the moves so that the PiYo workout program could be followed throughout pregnancy. Also, it has a lot of stretching and strength-building.

Because of the amount of time you spend in the downward dog position, the weight of the baby is shifted off of your pubic area. Relief from this pressure is wonderful especially if you suffer from any of the issues like hernia, lower ligament pain, or vulvar varicosities. I made sure to ask my ObGyn about the downward dog since I read some scary stuff about doing it in the third trimester (like the baby turning breach). He said this was absolutely nothing to worry about.  He was very supportive and encouraging after I explained the PiYo workout.  They should rename this Pregnancy PiYo…lol…But seriously PiYo during pregnancy is something every pregnant woman should get into or at least women looking for pregnancy pain relief.

piyo during pregnancy

 

Pregnancy Joy not Pain

Well, I am very happy to have some mobility back in my life and especially to have pregnancy pain relief.  Pregnancy should be a joyous time not a time consumed with pain. Now I am free to enjoy my girls including the one in my womb!  I hope this helps other pregnant women dealing with pregnancy pain. Leave me a comment if you have any questions or feedback.

 

Here is an article on the benefits of prenatal yoga.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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