It’s Raining Cats, Dogs, and Birds!

The year 2019 is still young, but it’s been a significant one for the pets in my family. As you may know, my family is big on pets. We had eight when I posted about them last, but we reached the big 10 not long after that. We’re back down to nine now, since one of our mice, Hazel, passed away.

In mid-February, we said goodbye to our beloved Marley. He had congestive heart failure and periodontal disease, and his weight was dipping lower and lower. Although he still had good days, he also had days when he wouldn’t eat. I chose to euthanize him before his suffering increased. It was a terrible choice to have to make, but I believe I did right by him. He was fourteen years old, and spent thirteen of those years with me. I miss him very much, and I know I will never have a dog quite like him. He was smart, sweet, gentle, and very quirky. He was loved and is missed by many people.

So, that’s the sad news. But in our home, and hearts, there seems to always be room for more creatures to love.

We have added three pets to our home since the beginning of the year!

Roscoe is our five-month-old puppy. He’s small, estimated to be 25 lbs fully grown and currently weighs 18 lbs. We think he’s a Shiba Inu mixed with Shetland Sheepdog (AKA Sheltie), which makes him a Sheltie Inu. 😉

He’s very sweet, affectionate, and generally mellow. He isn’t as mischievous as Lila was as a puppy, but he also isn’t as well-behaved as Macy was. It’s been challenging to potty train him, and he’s not there yet, but he’s made great progress since we adopted him in January. He is a very pack-focused dog, and bonded to our other dogs much more quickly than he bonded to the humans in our family. He does not like to be separated from his pack sisters! He has come to love us humans as well. He’s pretty adorable, too.

Other than Roscoe, we also added two parakeets to our home. They are named Oliver and Oakley, and are both males (well, Oliver definitely is, and we think Oakley is too but time will tell for sure.) Oakley is an English Budgie, who we got from a local breeder. Oliver is an American Parakeet, who we bought from a pet store. They don’t like to be handled (yet), but they don’t bite and they can be coaxed/chased onto my finger with some patience. They are the best of friends, and love to be in their cage. (Really! When I take them out, they always climb back in within 20 minutes.)

As I already mentioned, our mouse Hazel recently passed away. We still have her sister, Harriet, and she seems to be healthy despite her age (mice have a very short lifespan of one to two years, and Harriet is now about 1 ½).

Macy is also fully grown now, and is our only “big” dog. She weighs 57 lbs. We recently realized she’s an American Staffordshire Terrier, rather than an American Pit Bull Terrier. And our precious pittie is now a Canine Good Citizen, a title awarded by the American Kennel Club. We worked hard training for the test, and I was very proud when Macy passed!

So, all of that means we now have four dogs, two cats, two birds, and one mouse. It may sound like a lot, but it’s really not to us! We are looking forward to adding more pets to our family in the future. 😊

Finally

In January 2016, Cory and I started praying and believing for a remote job for him. Cory wanted so badly to be able to work from home, and I wanted it too. On the few days when he was allowed to work remotely at the job he had then, it was like night and day. Even though he still spent eight hours working, away from me and the kids in the office, he was able to pop down for five minutes here and there, and have lunch with us. Just knowing he was there and I could get a quick breather if I needed it gave me the mental sense of peace that helped me feel so much more content during the day.

We spent over three years praying, hoping, and working towards this goal. Cory applied to hundreds of jobs, and had dozens of interviews. Several times he came extremely close to landing a job. But every time, there was at least one big problem that got in the way. Either the salary was way too low, or they offered almost no vacation time, or they required travel, or they simply decided to go a different way.

In February of this year, Cory finally received a verbal job offer after a thorough interview process. It was a fantastic job, and we were so excited. But a few days later, the company rescinded the offer. They had decided not to hire for a remote position after all.

We were upset, but it was just another drop in the bucket at that point. We’d been waiting for so long that we were past expectant, past frustrated, past tired, past thinking about giving up. We weren’t giving up, but we also weren’t sure that it was God’s will for Cory to have a remote job. We were in a place of surrender to God’s will, whatever it was, and for lack of a clear direction from Him that we should stop trying, Cory was still continuing to apply for jobs. It was almost like a thing he just did, without necessarily expecting anything to come from it.

But finally, last month, it happened. Our three year wait is OVER and Cory received a job offer which he accepted, and is now working from home!

It’s been only a week at his new job, but our lives are so different. We have about an extra hour of time each day, which combined with Cory starting his day a lot earlier, means he gets off of work much earlier every day now. We have so much time to spend as a family now, and it’s truly wonderful! We eat lunch together every day, and I get a small break in the middle of the day to meditate and write in my prayer journal, which refreshes me beyond belief.

The pay raise he received is already helping our financial situation, and getting us closer to paying off our debts. And being remote means that we are now free to live anywhere that we want—and we are super excited about the next big adventure we’re planning, moving to Tennessee in 2020!

God has taught us so much through this waiting period. We have a history of receiving things from God very quickly, so this lesson in patience was one we needed. We learned to not only trust him and believe him for things, but also submit to his will and learn contentment.

We are so thankful for God’s great blessings in our lives. It never ceases to amaze me when I think about how lucky I am, and how much God has done for me. God is good!

Book Review – “Wait, What?”

This is a review of the book Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions, by James E. Ryan.

Fun fact: I have only done two-(ish) book reviews (other than this one) in all of my time blogging, and that was four years ago. That is strange because I absolutely love to read, and I read a lot. Maybe I’ll start doing more. But anyway!

I read this book in two days, because I found it hard to put down. That’s always a good thing, but it has never happened to me before with a nonfiction book that wasn’t a memoir. Usually I reserve my book-devouring for really compelling fiction. This book was just so, so good that I HAD to write a review about it, even if nobody reads this post. 🙂

This book is about five essential questions that we should all be asking ourselves and others in life. The premise is that asking these questions regularly will help us to become the people we want to be, living satisfying and worthwhile lives. It seems a little “fluffy” at first glance, but this book was incredibly inspiring, encouraging, and touching. There were many times reading it that I actually teared up! It was that poignant.

The author, James E. Ryan, writes in a very easy to understand and entertaining way. It’s what kept me reading, wanting to see what funny comment, gem of wisdom, or moving story he was going to share next. He is the kind of writer I would aspire to be one day.

But back to the five essential questions. “Wait, what?” is a question that represents pausing to gather more information before jumping to conclusions. This question leads to understanding. If we only stop to ask clarifying questions before making judgments, we would be able to communicate more openly and positively.

“I wonder…?” is a question that allows us to consider possibilities, and follow our curiosity in meaningful ways. Being curious is the beginning of progress and great discoveries, both personally and for humanity in general.

“Couldn’t we at least…?” is a question of how we can find common ground with others, or how we can compromise, or how we can take first steps toward something that seems too big at first glance. This question is in some ways the opposite of despair. Instead of worrying about some problem being too big, or our differences being too big, we can see that there is still something we can do, or agree on.

“How can I help?” is a question concerning how we treat others. It involves humility, kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy, and ultimately, action. It teaches us to look outside of our own concerns and pour into others.

“What truly matters?” is a question about the most important things in life. It sorts out the temporary and insignificant from the truly valuable and lasting things. As a Christian, this question is a good reminder of keeping an eternal perspective, rather than focusing on the circumstances of my day-to-day. What is God’s purpose for my life, and how does he work that out through these seemingly mundane details? Questions like this put life into perspective, and help us to keep our priorities on what truly matters: things like loving God and people, being kind, valuing and caring for our family, serving others, appreciating and perhaps even creating beauty, finding happiness, and leaving a legacy.

These questions altogether build a picture of a human being who is understanding, curious, wise, kind, and purposeful. Something as simple as being intentional about the kinds of questions we are asking ourselves and others can create a mindset that changes our lives and our world for the better.

This book is definitely one I would recommend for everybody to read! It can make you laugh and cry, as it helps you to think deeply about life and grow as a person. It’s a relatively quick, and thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five stars!


Honey, What’s for Dinner?

For as long as I’ve been married, I’ve done some form of meal planning. For me, there was just no other way to handle groceries and dinners—which I suddenly became responsible for, once I was no longer living with my parents! I know there are people who like to wing it when it comes to what they’re going to eat each day. But for me, meal planning helps me save money, time, and energy, and it helps my family eat better.  

For the past few years, I’ve been planning all of my family’s dinners for the week, on a weekly basis. We tend to choose from a few different options for breakfasts and lunches each day, but dinner is the meal that I plan ahead for. I keep a grocery list on my phone, which I add to whenever we’re running low on staples. Before we go grocery shopping, I also add to the list all of the specific things that we need for our dinners that week. Shopping this way keeps our trips quick and efficient, and prevents us from buying things we don’t need.  

In 2019, I’ve decided to take meal planning a step further, and plan out four weeks at a time. So far, it’s worked really well! Here’s how I did it. 

  1. I made a list of our 16 favorite dinners. I chose only meals that we really enjoy, and look forward to eating. I also have a policy of making our dinners balanced—meaning every meal has protein, grains, and vegetables.  
  2. I organized a meal rotation plan with four meals from our top 16 per week. I made sure that each week only has one or two “involved” dinners, meaning meals that require a fair amount of hands-on prep and cooking time. The other two to three dinners are relatively quick and easy.  
  3. I planned for one freezer meal, one leftover night, and one night eating out (or ordering in) each week. That covers seven days of the week for dinners.  

Freezer meals are dinners that we’ve cooked or prepared in large batches and frozen for later use. Most of them are soups, and all of them are cooked by defrosting and/or cooking in the Instant Pot or on the stove. If I prepare one batch of a freezer meal on one weekend per month, I have more than enough to work for my plan.  

Leftover nights help us to use up our leftovers from the other meals that week. This way, we waste very little food! If we end up not having much leftover food to choose from, we have a “cheat night” and make something really simple (and not necessarily balanced), like mac n’ cheese, grilled cheese, or pizza. 

Using this plan, we have so much more variety than we used to have, when I only planned one week at a time. It’s also nearly effortless to plan our dinners now. All I do is look at my meal rotation plan, which I keep in a note on my phone, and copy over the dinners for that week onto my weekly planner. I use a printable weekly planner, which I fill out at the beginning of each week and hang on the fridge.  

This meal plan is also super flexible! Based on what plans I have for the evenings in any given week, I can arrange the meals in a way that works best. I plan to have the easier/faster dinners on busier days. I can also swap dinners from day to day, based on what we feel like having or any changes of plan that come up. On our week with a planned date night, we set that night as our “eating out” night and feed the kids a simple dinner before we go. On weeks when we’re cooking fresh meat or fish, we can make those dinners on the day or the day after we go grocery shopping, so nothing spoils.  

One of the best benefits to my four-week dinner plan is that I’ve noticed we are eating a lot more vegetables! Many of the meals I’ve chosen have vegetables we wouldn’t eat otherwise, like baby broccoli or cabbage. For meals with a side dish vegetable, I made strategic choices so that we will eat a variety of veggies, instead of eating just our few favorites. It feels good to see that now, a bigger portion of our grocery haul is produce. 

Another benefit is that we can now easily avoid buying things that we would end up wasting. Every so often, we may try something new if it looks good at the store, but for the most part, we only buy what we need for our meal plan. New dinners and recipes only make it in if they are really good!  

For me, meal planning is one of the simplest and most important things I can do to make my home run smoother. Like budgeting, it’s a basic necessity! It’s just another way I stay organized and keep my life simplified.  

Below is my monthly menu. I hope this gives you ideas and inspiration for a meal plan that works for you and your family. 

Week 1:

  • Ramen noodle soup (homemade, of course!) 
  • Pasta with marinara sauce and Italian sausage 
  • BBQ chicken breasts or drumsticks with baked beans and whole grain rolls 
  • Shrimp chow mein with edamame 

Week 2: 

  • Spaghetti and meatballs 
  • Chicken coconut curry with rice 
  • Baked breaded fish with quinoa and peas and corn 
  • Steak with baked potatoes and whole grain rolls 

Week 3: 

  • Hamburgers (with veggie toppings like lettuce, sautéed onions, avocado, etc.) 
  • Bratwurst on buns with fried potatoes 
  • Chicken and veggie pita wraps 
  • Chicken fettucine alfredo with salad 

Week 4: 

  • Coconut chicken adobo with rice 
  • Tacos 
  • Shrimp linguini with zucchini 
  • Pulled pork (or shredded BBQ chicken) sandwiches with green beans 

My Freezer Meal List: 

  • Chili 
  • Taco soup 
  • Chicken & rice soup 
  • Chicken noodle soup 
  • Chicken dumpling soup 
  • Cheesy potato soup 
  • Baked ziti 
  • Meatloaf 
  • Beef stew 

A Look Back at 2018

This year has been mostly “business as usual” for my family, but there have been some big changes in my family of origin. We’ve been mostly just enjoying our lives, raising our kids, and caring for our many pets. Here’s a look back at this year for my family: 

In February, Cory and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary as a couple. 

That month, my Grandpa passed away. Although his walk with God was not always outwardly obvious, I have been assured that he did believe in Jesus, and as such I have a great hope that he is with the Lord now. My Grandma misses him, but is doing well.  

In March, we redid our backyard, adding a garden as well as a climbing structure, swingset, and sandbox for the kids.  

In May, we had our first family camping trip with just the four of us. We rented an RV and went to a local campground, and had a lot of fun.  

In June, we adopted our kitten, Leo. We also moved to a new church, and have found the most awesome new church family we’ve ever been a part of!  

In July, I turned 26.  

Also in that month, my family of origin moved to a new house, and my Grandma moved in with them. She now lives closer to me than she’s lived for many years, and I’ve been able to enjoy spending more time with her. 

In August, my older brother got married to my wonderful sister-in-law. It was a beautiful day of celebration! Cory, Cody, Abigail, and I were also thrilled to be in the wedding. 

That month, we also celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary, and Cory turned 27.  

In September, Abigail turned 1. 

My older brother joined the US Air Force and completed his basic training.  

In the fall, we also began homeschool pre-K with Cody.  

In October, Cody turned 4.  

In November, we became a Safe Families Host Family, and completed our first hosting. This is a ministry working in collaboration with our church, which provides temporary care to children in crisis.  

In December, I decided to shift my view of my {other} blog, Family on Purpose, to a hobby instead of a business. I also decided to retire my hopes for a coaching career, and instead focus on more productive things for me and my family. Even my birth education business is something I now consider more of a hobby, because quite frankly I don’t make nearly enough to cover the expenses. But I still very much enjoy blogging and teaching childbirth classes, so those are things I will continue to do. I love being able to help others through my writing, and through empowering parents to have better births.     

To end the year, we enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with our families.  

This year we also got San Diego Zoo & Safari Park passes, and we’ve enjoyed many trips to both parks.  

In 2019, I’m looking forward to continuing doing what we’re doing! Some goals I have are to pay off our credit card debt, have my dog Macy certified as a Canine Good Citizen, plant another successful garden this year, and improve and establish more routines and habits to help my home run smoothly. I’d also really like to learn how to play an instrument—and I’m leaning towards the drums!   

I want to continue to grow spiritually. I want to continue to actively walk with God, and see the Fruit of the Spirit powerfully in my life. I want to be even more consistent with reading the Bible daily, and I want to start taking time to study the word and memorize verses.  

I’ve never chosen a “word of the year” before, but this year I feel strongly about focusing on the word “peaceful.” No matter what ups and downs I experience, I want to be a person who remains peaceful, solidly anchored and resting in God’s hands.  

I hope you and your loved ones have a beautiful year in 2019.  

Happy New Year!  

Baby Fever 3.0

At the end of my last pregnancy, I declared that I was done having babies. The pregnancy discomforts were fresh in my mind, and I knew that I did not want to deal with them again. After her birth, which was both wonderful and slightly traumatic, I confirmed once again to myself that I was DONE. I had survived, and I would like to keep it that way!

But in the year and several months since then, I’ve wavered back and forth quite a bit.

I do know for sure that I want another baby. The question is whether that baby should come through adoption, or through biology.

I’ve weighed the pros and cons of. Here is my list so far:

Pros of having a baby biologically:
1. We get to make the decisions and are more in control.
2. It is a simpler process than adopting.
3. We would get to be involved throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.
4. Birth is an amazing experience, and there is a big part of me that wants to experience it again.
5. It is much less expensive than adopting. (Adopting a newborn baby, that is).

Cons of having a baby biologically:
1. I am likely to feel nauseous for at least four months of my pregnancy.
2. I am likely to have heartburn for at least six months of my pregnancy.
3. I would have to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, again– childbirth.
4. I would further damage my body– stretch marks, abdominal separation, etc.
5. I might be risking my life. (Death in childbirth is extremely unlikely, but possible.)
6. I would have to face all of the medical stuff I hate so much (particularly things involving needles), as part of normal prenatal care.
7. We would be adding to over-population.
8. We would have to face the possibility of having a miscarriage.
9. I struggle to enjoy my children during pregnancy, because of how icky I feel.

If we chose to adopt, we would give up all of the benefits of having a baby biologically, but we would also avoid all of the drawbacks.

Even though the cons list is longer, the items aren’t all worth the same amount. I went as far as scoring each item with a number value, and it added up to -11, meaning the negatives outweighed the positives by 11 points.

Yes, I have put a lot of thought into this! And yet, it still doesn’t feel decided in my mind.

Yes, I have prayed about it, a lot. I am still praying about it. I’m hoping God just tells me what to do, because honestly, I don’t know what to decide!

This is on my mind even more lately because I have baby fever once again. As Cody and Abigail get bigger and bigger, I long more and more for another tiny baby to hold. I just love that early stage so much, and I miss it!

For now, our plan is to start pursuing adoption in 2019. As we begin the process, we will continually evaluate whether or not we should keep going. If at any point we realize we just can’t afford it, or it’s becoming too difficult emotionally or for some other reason, we reserve the right to change our minds and try to have another baby.

But my hope is that adoption works for us. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and this feels like the right time for us. I honestly prefer not to go through another pregnancy and birth.

We also plan to adopt older children through the foster system, in the next stage of growing our family, a few years down the road. But for right now, I still want one more baby. Truth be told, I would be happy with two more! But, Cory says just one more baby, so I can be happy with that. 😉

My Mental Health Journey

Back in 2016, I shared for the first time that I’ve struggled with depression. Today, I want to share more about my mental health journey and where I am now. I believe that breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness starts with breaking the silence.

My mental health journey is ongoing. I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness, and I’ve never been medicated for one, but I can still say I’ve struggled and continue to struggle with depression, anxiety, and anger-management issues.

My depression and anxiety began when I was a teenager. I struggled with insecurity, as many teenagers do. I often felt rejected by my peers. I constantly worried about what other people were thinking about me, and I often felt sad and hopeless about life. The normal demands of life and school felt like too much.

I developed a very close, but dysfunctional friendship with another girl my age. We became almost everything to each other. But, she struggled with her own insecurities, and she often took it out on me by tearing me down.

Then I met Cory, who is now my husband. He became my best friend. He was kind, caring, and fun to be around. We were just friends at first.

It was during that time when I started feeling more and more hopeless about life. I started thinking a lot about suicide. I never had an urge to hurt myself, but I did wish that I could go to sleep and not wake up. I just wanted life to be over.

I never made an attempt on my life, and thankfully, with the encouragement of my friends, I came out of that emotionally dark time.

Cory and I fell in love, and I started to see that I had a bright future to look forward to. At the time, I believed in Jesus, but he wasn’t the King of my life. In all honesty, Cory was my everything at that point. Looking back, I can see that God used him to give me hope and joy in my life when I desperately needed it. And after a time, I started to lean into God more and more. Eventually, I was able to lead Cory to Christ, and together we’ve continued to grow in our faiths since then. (Today, God has the rightful place as King in my life—and Cory’s).

In college, I struggled with anxiety more than depression. I would worry about the strangest things, like if I was walking weirdly, or if people thought I looked awkward. I had a very hard time sleeping at night because I became afraid of the dark and being alone. Cory would stay in my dorm room with me until I fell asleep, or I would sleep in his room, almost every night.

I began seeing a therapist for the first time. She helped me with my anxious thoughts, and I enjoyed talking to her. After I got married and then withdrew from the university, I had to stop seeing her, but I felt well enough by that time to be okay with that.

I struggled with depression and anxiety on and off in the years between getting married and having our first child. For me, depression isn’t debilitating, and it’s not all of the time. I have what could probably be described as “low-level” depression, and it comes in relatively short waves. I feel depressed for a few days, or a couple of weeks at most, and then I feel better for a few weeks. Sometimes, the depressed feelings are more frequent, like once a week. But overall, I feel good more often than I feel bad.

My anxiety is usually related to social situations, or occasionally related to fear. It’s not as “obvious” as my depression, which is why I wasn’t even able to label it clearly for myself until just this year.

With both depression and anxiety, I am able to hide it extremely well from others. I have a mask that I can put on, quickly, easily, and completely. Nobody would know unless I let them. And for most of my life, nobody has.

Anger is also very connected to my depression. I’ve struggled with anger management for most of my life, and when I’m feeling depressed, I have an even harder time with it.

After my first child was born, my anger and depression became things that I could no longer ignore. I began losing my temper with my baby. I never hurt him, but I hated that I would raise my voice and feel so frustrated with him. He was a high-need baby (both of my babies have been), and it was really hard.

My depression worsened when my baby was about 10 months old, and I suspected late-onset postpartum depression. I went to see a therapist, once again. I didn’t continue therapy for long, because it wasn’t affordable for us and I wasn’t sure it was helping. Since I was “functional,” I didn’t see it as a necessity.

This year, I finally started seeing a therapist again. Originally, I went in with the goal of evaluating my son for anxiety issues, because at the age of 3 ½ he was still unable to accept separation from us for any amount of time without completely falling apart. After the first couple of sessions, and some suggestions for ways to help him overcome his separation anxiety, I decided that I wanted to continue seeing her for my own struggles.

She was my favorite therapist thus far, and I really enjoyed seeing her. Unfortunately, it became too challenging to take the kids with me and be constantly interrupted by them, and her hours didn’t allow for me to go by myself.

Then I discovered a website called Better Help, which offers online therapy at a more affordable rate than a traditional in-person therapist. I began my message-based therapy with my new therapist, and immediately loved it. I was able to express myself in the best way I know how, through writing, and I could write to her any time I wanted. Her responses were always thoughtful and helpful. I really enjoyed therapy through Better Help.

At the end of November, I decided I was ready to stop therapy, and I cancelled my subscription (after talking to my therapist about it, of course). I’m in a place now where I feel like I understand my depression, anxiety, and anger better, and I have the tools I need to handle those challenges.

Of course, some days are better than others. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m starting a new “depressed” cycle, and remind myself that it’s only temporary. It always passes within a few days, or at most a couple of weeks. I remind myself that I can have some bad days in a really good life. I give myself some extra slack during those times, and wait it out.

My anger is still an active struggle. There are things I can do to help me feel balanced and happy, which enables me to manage my emotions better. Sometimes I do those things, and sometimes I don’t. Depression makes it harder to want to do those things, and that’s probably one reason they are so connected for me. But I can see progress, slowly but surely, in this area. I just have to keep moving forward.

My anxiety is a lot better now than it has been in the past. I’ve learned to embrace who I am. I don’t have to be the social butterfly, or the perfectly put-together mom, or anything else that I’m not. I can be the quiet one, who’s a good listener, and is kind, and helps others, and doesn’t bother putting on makeup. I can be the one who loses her temper a lot, but is always working on becoming better.

I can lean on God, knowing that He says I am enough, and that His Spirit is working in me to change me, slowly but surely, into someone more like Christ.

In the Bible, Paul wrote about a “thorn in the flesh” that he suffered from. We don’t know what it was, exactly, but this is what he said about it:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV)

My mental health struggles are my thorn—especially my anger. It’s a part of me that I have asked God to remove, and something I’ve tried to fix myself many times. This Bible verse has become one of my mantras. God’s grace is sufficient for me. His power is made perfect in my weakness.

I am not perfect, and that gives God room to work.

When It’s Time to Quit

In early 2014, almost 5 years ago now, I began a journey to become a life coach. I felt it was something I was called to do, and I was very excited about it! When my son was born, I decided to put that on hold. So it wasn’t until the middle of 2017 that I finally completed my training and graduated as a life coach. Then, I had to put it on pause yet again when my daughter was born.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard on launching my coaching business. I created a blog, and put a lot of time and effort into making it perfect. I did everything I was supposed to do to gain followers and eventually, clients. And yet… I’ve gotten nowhere with it.

Just like I when I tried to make this blog, I Do… Now What? into a real business a couple of years ago, it just hasn’t worked out. I didn’t gain a single follower last time, and it’s the same story this time.

For some reason, blogging as a business just isn’t working out for me!

It’s frustrating, for sure. I feel misled by all of the bloggers I’ve read about and followed who say that they make a full-time income blogging. I don’t know how they do it, but it seems that no matter what I do, I can’t make even the smallest progress towards any income from my blog. Like I said, frustrating.

But, I can accept it when it’s time to move on from something. For me, it’s time to move on from trying to make money as a blogger, and it’s time for me to move on from trying to be a life coach.

It’s a bit sad for me to say that, but it’s also freeing. Now I can focus my energies on other things!

My coaching blog, Family on Purpose, will stay alive on the internet. I’m not going to completely delete it or anything. I’m still proud of it, and I hope it can help people be intentional in their marriage, pregnancy and birth, and parenting. That was why I created it. If somebody finds it someday and it leads them to my coaching services, then I would still welcome the opportunity. But that’s not something I’ll be actively trying to achieve anymore.

As always, I Do… Now What? will still be here, a place for me to share my life, thoughts, and experiences with you, my readers. I’m not going anywhere!

Spiritual Lessons from My Journey into Motherhood

 

Being pregnant was such a special time in my life. Although I didn’t have the most comfortable pregnancies, I did really enjoy the process of bringing new lives into the world.

Currently, I am not planning on becoming pregnant again. Instead, my husband and I plan on adopting a baby. Reflecting on my journey into biological motherhood over the past few years, there are a few important lessons I have learned.

 

Childbirth Doesn’t Have to be Terrifying

Before we were married, I went through a phase of thinking that I would never want to have children. At first, this was mostly due to fears about the birth process, and how horrible and scary and painful it would be. The simple mechanics of it just seemed horrifying. I have a low pain-tolerance, and a phobia of needles and medical environments in general. I didn’t want to have to face any of that. I thought that instead, we should adopt—even knowing deep down that having biological children was part of God’s plan for me.

Counter-intuitive though it may seem, learning about natural childbirth was the thing that started to change my mind about birth. I learned that women’s bodies were made to do it. I learned that birth doesn’t have to be medicalized. I learned about midwifery, homebirth, and using hypnosis for childbirth. I learned about supernatural childbirth, and how my faith in God can be used powerfully to experience a better birth. These things gave me the confidence I needed to overcome my fear of childbirth, and welcome the opportunity to bring babies into the world with the miraculous gifts of pregnancy and birth.

 

The Risk Is Worth It

There’s a saying that becoming a parent is like choosing to have your heart walk around outside of your body. And it’s true! Being a parent is incredibly risky. You love this other person so much that it’s beyond words, and the idea of them ever getting hurt or making a bad decision is terrifying to you. You have everything invested in your children, and yet very little control over what happens to them. That idea scared the living daylights out of me, and it was one of the reasons I was afraid to become a parent.

It took a very painful experience for me to understand that the risk of losing a child, while terrifying, does not outweigh the worth of being a parent. Being a parent has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life, and I couldn’t imagine not having this privilege. I was meant to be a mother. It’s one of God’s callings on my life that I can’t deny, no matter what pain or risks I have to face.

But I had to learn this through the experience of pregnancy loss. My husband and I lost our first baby, Sam, only six weeks into our pregnancy. At first, I was in a place of anger, utter heartbreak, loss of trust, and loss of hope for the future. Other people’s words of comfort often felt like a slap in the face to me. They told me that I should hold on to God, but I was furious at him. They told me to keep trusting him because it was all in his plan, but I felt like my trust in him was broken. Most of all, I despised it when people told me that we could try again. The thought of trying again, of putting myself at risk for heartbreak again, was a terrible thought. I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk.

It was from this place of darkness that God showed us the light. Through the guidance of some godly people in our lives, God showed us the simple truth that he is good. We learned that our miscarriage was not God’s doing or his plan for us, but an attack from the enemy. We also learned that God is bigger and stronger than our enemy. We learned what living victoriously in Jesus really means.

Without those lessons, we wouldn’t have been able to handle the fear, as parents, of “what might happen.” Instead of living in fear, we trust and believe that God has his hand over our family. I don’t have to worry about what might happen to my kids because I know that God’s got them. They are in good hands.

 

The Big Picture

Sometimes, even with strong faith and trust in God, we can experience loss and trials in this world. It is a broken world, after all. We may not be of this world (as Christians), but we are still in it.

I try not to entertain thoughts of what might happen in scenarios of my greatest fears. I believe that we should discipline our thoughts and train ourselves to think about good things, not horrible ones. But I do have an understanding that my faith might not always protect me or my family in this world. Bad things could happen. Christians can lose their children tragically, just like anybody else.

But instead of fearing for this, I focus on the big picture. The big picture is my human approximation of what God sees. He sees things in light of eternity! This life seems so big to us. It seems like everything. But what we often forget to realize is that compared to eternity, this life is just a drop in the bucket. What we also often forget to realize is that compared to an eternity in paradise with God, this life is basically a poop parade.

Now, I know that sounds pretty negative. But it’s not, I promise! Realizing that this life, our bodies, the earthly things we have, and our comfort in this lifetime is all temporary… well, it’s actually so freeing. If we lose our earthly lives, we gain something better– eternal life. As long as you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior, that is!*

So if my faith is not always enough to save my kids or myself from suffering, or even death, then I can have peace and comfort and joy even, knowing that there is something unspeakably wonderful ahead.

As a parent, there is no greater comfort. I know that it’s going to be okay, literally NO. MATTER. WHAT. There might be suffering, but suffering is temporary. An eternity of JOY is ahead, and that is something to celebrate. This is why we praise God! Isn’t he awesome?

 

 

*Have you accepted Jesus as your savior yet? Do you want to? You can, right now!

Just pray this prayer:

God, I know that I am not perfect. I have sinned, and that means I am not worthy of you. But I believe you sent your son Jesus to Earth, and he lived a perfect life and he died on the cross, as a sacrifice for me. Jesus, I invite you into my heart right now. Please come in and forgive me of my sins. Make me right with God. Help me live my life in a way that pleases you.

In Jesus name,

Amen

If you prayed that prayer, then you are now a redeemed child of God! You just made the best decision you could ever make. Your eternity is secured! Go ahead and celebrate that. And please share it with someone. Leave me a comment or send me a message. Go find a church you can be a part of, and continue to grow in your faith.

8 Pets and Counting

I love animals. I always have, since I was a little girl. Having a lot of pets has brought me joy throughout my life, and I couldn’t imagine not having them around!

When I was a child, I had bunnies, a tortoise, turtles, parakeets, mice, a hamster, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs. My dad also had iguanas and a snake. And as a young adult, I had cockatiels. When it comes to pets, I like variety!

As a child, I wasn’t taught well about being responsible for my pets’ care. I wasn’t the best young pet owner, and I hate to think about the fact that my childhood pets did not have the lives they deserved. As an adult, one of the things that brings me joy through pet-ownership is knowing that I am giving my pets a great life. I have a high standard of care for my pets, and a high level of commitment. I now realize that adding a pet to the family is a big commitment, and shouldn’t be made lightly!

But anyway.

Currently, I have four dogs, two cats, and two mice. Let me introduce them!

Marley is our 13 ½ year old mutt. We think he has American Pit Bull Terrier, American Foxhound, and Labrador Retriever in him.

My family of origin adopted him from a shelter when I was 13 years old, and he was about one year old. He came to live with me when I got married.

He’s always been gentle and low-energy, and has become even more so with age. He’s struggled for most of his life with severe separation anxiety, and anxiety in general, but for the past year or so he has been doing great.

Sky is our eight year old American Eskimo Dog. (She’s considered to be “miniature” size, not standard). My husband and I adopted her from a rescue when she was about three years old, before we had our first child.

Sky is the friendliest, happiest dog I’ve ever had. She adores people, strangers and family members alike. She gets along with any dog or cat she comes across. She’s a total sweetie!

Lila is our almost-three-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua mix. We adopted her from a shelter when she was about two months old (and weighed about two pounds!).

Lila has been the most challenging dog we’ve owned. She absolutely refused to be potty trained as a puppy, and it took professional board-and-training to get through that difficult stage. Now that she’s grown, she’s a very sweet and saucy little dog. She is the most timid of our dogs, and doesn’t approach new people or dogs easily. She’s probably the smartest dog I’ve ever had, though.

Macy is our newest dog. She’s a one year old purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. We bought her from a local breeder when she was two months old, and just about the cutest thing in the world.

Macy has been the easiest-to-train dog I’ve ever had. I like to say that she’s my “soul-dog” (like soul-mates, but for owners and their dogs). Something about her just connects with my soul!

She is also a huge people-lover. When we go to the dog park, she’s on the bench with the humans. She’s very submissive to any new dogs she meets, often to her detriment because she’s too timid to play. But when there’s a scuffle, she’s quick to run over and referee!

Luna is our five year old Tuxedo (black and white) domestic shorthair cat. We adopted her from the shelter when she was about four years old (a year and a half ago). She’s very low-maintenance, quiet, keeps to herself, and lives primarily upstairs away from the dogs. She does love (and demand) attention when we go upstairs though!

Leo is our eight month old black kitten. We adopted him from the shelter when he was three months old (and barely two pounds). The best word to describe Leo is… dauntless. Even at two pounds, he had no problem running around with our four dogs. He is zero percent shy. He also does what he wants, one hundred percent of the time. Luna was less than thrilled when we added this wild creature to her peaceful life! But, she’s adjusted, and they only tumble around in a screeching ball of fur and whiskers once or twice a day now. ;D

Harriet and Hazel are our mice. They are sisters, and we bought them from the pet store when they were not quite fully grown, probably about two months old. We’ve had them for almost a year. Mice don’t have the longest lifespans, so we’ll likely only enjoy them for another year or so at most. (Then again, they can sometimes live up to three years, so we’ll see!) I think mice are so cute! There’s not much else to say about them, but they generally spend their days cuddling up together, sleeping, and eating. Mice are very easy to handle, and my kids are always delighted when I take Harriet and Hazel out so they can pet them.

That’s it for now! In our current location, we are limited to four dogs. In our current home, we do not have room to comfortably fit any more litter boxes, so that means no more cats either. In fact, we really don’t have a good space for any small pets either, because I’d want to keep them in a separate room to keep them safe from our cats and dogs.

However, when we do move to a bigger house (and/or a house with some land!) we do plan on adding more pets to our family. On my short list are parakeets, a lizard (Blue-Tongued Skink to be exact) for my son (which I will primarily care for), and either bunnies or guinea pigs or both.

In 2017 we lost our three guinea pigs (they were killed by our dogs), only three months after losing our fourth (who died of an illness). We were devasted, and still miss them terribly. But because I am quite allergic to guinea pigs, we might want to have bunnies in the future instead.

I am not certain I want any more cats, but we will see. Leo was adopted because I had a dream about him! Yes, seriously. He was in my dream, and the next day I went to the shelter and found him. True story. 🙂

But anyway, the point being, I didn’t necessarily want more than one cat until I suddenly did. So who knows! We may end up with more cats and possibly more dogs, on top of having other types of pets.

On my long wish list are other animals including donkeys, chickens, tortoise(s), pig(s), goat(s), ferrets (if they ever become legal in my state), maybe ducks, and perhaps a sugar glider. I wouldn’t mind having cockatiels again if we were able to safely house them in a separate area of the house from us, because they are very loud.

So that’s about it! Pets are definitely an addiction of mine, but I do care a great deal about being responsible with them. Animals add such joy to my life, and I love that my kids are able to grow up with animals in their lives.