As I previously posted, we started a HUGE addition on our home this summer. To say that it has been challenging would be an understatement. We have gone through so many emotions. Excited. Overwhelmed. Hopeful. Exhausted. Contemplative. Excited. And everything in between.
I think most seasons of life have these vast array of emotions. Not to say that these are necessarily a bad thing, but they can be daunting, nonetheless. However, I have learned as of late that these emotions can be good for you. Stretching. If you learn to “ARREST” them.
You see, I have often prided myself on not letting emotions dictate my reality. I have thought of this as a sort of strength. A “super-power”. But, When I sit back and look at all of the situations where I have allowed myself to push my emotions down, or disregard how I feel about something, inevitably, anger follows. At least eventually.
Perhaps it is all in how you look at it. I recently had a nice conversation with someone I love about the mind. How the mind has such a power over your heart. How when you focus on any one thing for too long, you become that thought. Although I fought that thought-process for a little while, I ultimately understood it. It’s true. What you think about, makes you who you are. How you feel. How you act.
I began to analyze where I was in my mind. I began to look at the thought processes that took hold of my thoughts and emotions. How I was letting my emotions (however pushed down I may place them in my heart), were actually dictating how I acted to everyone around me. How the lack of control on my mind was actually destroying my joy. Annihilating my ability to see the beauty in this season of my life. the beauty that God was TRYING to show me. I realized that I was too distracted with myself. That I had begun looking at all of MY “woes” and troubles, and it made me negative, frustrated and…stressed out. In the end, it brought me to a place of prayer, repentance, and ultimately…peace.
Peace. In the midst of chaos.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as in the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
The Word of God is so powerful. It so often hits home for me, and usually gets me out of the “rut” of self-doubt and personal struggles.
I believe when we “take every thought captive”, we can be liberated from our negative thinking and stress. We can take those thoughts of, “Everything is stressing me out”, or ” my kids are driving me nuts”, or “I can’t do one more day of dishes, laundry or cleaning”, and arrest it. We can literally say in our minds, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” and therefore…ARREST it.
You see, we can CHANGE our thinking. We can “arrest” those thoughts and send them packing!
Please don’t get me wrong…I struggle with this. I really do. I struggle every day to be obedient to Christ. My selfish side is strong, and I have to literally be constantly giving my mind over to God. My thoughts of frustration, anger, pride.
Being a housewife is no joke. Believe me, I could do anything I want with my life, but God has called me to be a stay-at-home mom. It is by far the hardest job I have had, or ever will have. But I tell you what…it requires a daily “pick up your cross” mentality. It requires constant service. Although I feel it is almost “un-natural” for me…I have decided in my mind (where it all starts), to do it to the best of my ability. To serve my husband and my kids with my best.
Do I fail often? Yes. Do I want to give up sometimes? Yes. Do I feel inadequate most of the time? Heck yes. But, with God on my side, and the ability to “cast my burdens on Christ”…I can, and I will do it!
So, with all that said, I pray that even one person can be encouraged to keep going. To continue to take every “stressed-out” thought or emotion and ARREST it. Send it packing through God’s strength. Because, it starts in our minds.
This cheesecake is divine! So refreshing and yummy, like a summer afternoon drink of lemonade! to be honest, I am not much of a lemon fan. I usually pass up lemony desserts. I actually made this for my husband because I had a bunch of extra lemons.
You see, I had done the Master Cleanse, and ended up stopping a day early. So needless to say, I had a ton of extra lemons to use up. I hate to waste food, so I ended up thinking, “I should make something for my husband!”. This is the recipe that came to mind!
I have to admit that I really didn’t think I would like it, but I tried it always. Boy am I glad I did! It seriously is one of the most refreshing desserts I have ever had!
It is delicious!!!
I am so glad that I tried it! I am learning that you always have to at least try things! You may have written foods off when you were younger, like I have, but you never know if your taste buds have changed! Mine have for sure!
Easy as Pie!
This recipe cannot get any easier! I made it in my Vitamix! I seriously cannot say enough about how easy it is to make things when you have a good blender!
I just added the whipping cream and whipped it up (seriously in a matter of 5 seconds!), and then added my cream cheese, sweetners and vanilla’s to it, and blended! It seriously only took a minute!
I say “vanilla’s” because I added in a “secret ingredient”, that in my opinion, made this amazing!
Any of ya’ll ever heard of the Vanilla Creme stevia drops? If you haven’t used this before, it will change your world! Such a creamy vanilla taste, with none of the aftertaste that I have come to hate about stevia! I even love to add a couple drops to my coffee in the mornings!
You can buy them here (click link above). If you click the link above, I will get a tiny commission. Thanks!
This is a little slice of heaven right here!
I originally wanted to make a pie, but it turned out so simple, creamy and delicious that I felt it would be wrong to try to make it anything but this yummy and refreshing cheesecake! Maybe one of these days I will make this cheesecake into a pie too! We’ll see. 😉
This was such an easy cheesecake to make! If you ever want a pretty and decadent dessert that makes you look like a genius dessert maker, but takes all of 20 minutes total to make…this here is your ticket!
You can even dress it up with some whipped cream, more lemon slices or just eat it plain! It’s so easy…why not?!?!?
Hope y’all enjoy it as much as my family and I did!
Z’s Lemon Cream Cheesecake
Sugar-Free, THM-S, Keto.
A super easy decadent dessert! Refreshing and delicious!
I have been in many “valleys” in my 11 years of marriage and motherhood. I have also been on an abundance of “mountain tops”.
The ebb and flow of marriage, being a stay-at-home mom, having babies, changing diapers, doing home school (or not), cooking, house chores and a myriad of other things, can literally cause you to lose yourself.
Don’t get me wrong…those are all admirable and honorable things! I think that our jobs as wives and moms is so incredibly important! We will never know, this side of heaven.
But, those mundane things, that often last almost 2 decades or more, cause you to lose yourself. Your true self. The things you used to love, and the things that you used to look forward to, often “drift away”. And eventually, you get to your 30’s (maybe earlier, maybe later) and realize that you don’t know who you are anymore! You realize that reality is so much more “suckier” than those amazing wife and mothers who seem have it all together. That’s just not the true reality. Reality sucks sometimes!
Here’s a question that I often ask friends of mine…If you were to have a week off, and had your children watched and taken care of for that whole week, and you could do anything you wanted to…what would you do? Truly. Have you ever thought about it? Some women that I have talked to about this just stare blankly at me. No answer.
So many women have this issue. I know I did. They don’t know who they are anymore. They wouldn’t even know that to do with themselves (with no responsibilities to have) for one day, let alone a week!
Why is this?
How Do I find Myself?
You may be reading this and nodding your head and saying, “omg! That’s so me!” Well, I am here to tell you that you are normal, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
—–Let me just share with you MY story—-
We got married in a fever (we dated for under a month when my husband asked me to marry him). We got pregnant a year after we got married. Of course, the first pregnancy (unfortunately) was a miscarriage (Check out the story of my miscarriage on my Healthy Mom page). Then I got pregnant maybe 6 months after that. I had my first baby, and then 6 months after I had him, I got pregnant again!
You can see how crazy my life was at that time. Not to mention so many other things happening as well. Two more babies followed, and in that same season, my husband and I struggled with our marriage as well. My Husband also decided to take on a completely different career path where he had to be gone for training for 6 whole months! I was pretty much a single mom for 6 months, and had two toddlers to take care of, as well as being pregnant yet again. I was struggling to survive at that point, and had completely and utterly lost myself.
There were some mornings in that season, where I literally did not want to get out of bed. I was just too exhausted. Too spent. I don’t tend to be a “depressed person”, so I didn’t really struggle with “depressed kinds of thinking”, but I was so over everything! I Just wanted to “check out”, and maybe skip that whole season of life.
Obviously, I knew I couldn’t do that, and of course, I trudged on. I got to such a low point of failure after failure and utter exhaustion that I asked myself, “How do I find myself, when I don’t even remember who I used to be?”
I really feel that God was holding me together. Barely together, but together. I think He allowed me to go through those hard times, and to see that I literally could not do anything on my own.
It wasn’t until I had that realization that I just couldn’t do it in my own power anymore, that God gave me His power.
I obviously made it out of that hard time, but I also learned a lot. I learned what not to do, and what worked. How to rely on His strength. How to trust that He had a plan. All glory to Him!
I know it sounds weird, but I really believe that when you “do something”, you begin to find yourself. When you do things for others especially (preferably things that you love to do), you can find out things about yourself that you never knew. At least I did.
I started helping people.
You see, I began really using my gifts in music, decorating, leading, managing, creating, etc, and that is when I began finding myself. I believe that when you take the focus off of YOU, and put it on others, that is when you really start living. That’s what Jesus did, if you think about it.
I started leading worship, decorating and coordinating weddings, painting with acrylics, working on my truck, planning future vacations and just overall, putting my energy and gifts into serving others and
Now, mind you, I definitely had to find a balance and get my priorities straight, but using my gifts for others became part of my life. I believe that your priorities should be your relationship with God FIRST, your relationship with your husband SECOND and then your relationship with your kids THIRD. After that…the sky is the limit!!!
Maybe I just have more energy than most, but I find it so much easier to serve others and do fun things for myself, after my “home in order”. It allows me the freedom to be who I am. I used to love working on my trucks, painting, adventuring and using my spiritual gifts (music, leadership etc) to bless others. My hobbies and loves are no different then they used to be, I just had to FIND THEM again!
I challenge you to sit down and write out the things that you used to love. Write down the things that you have always wanted to do. Get your priorities straight, and THEN…GO DO THAT STUFF!!!
It’s liberating and it’s wonderful!
I like to “take off” every now and again and just be alone. I get energy by being alone. Wether it is going to a coffee shop and reading or writing, exploring a new area or store, antiquing (I love that), Just driving to nowhere in particular or getting a pedicure every now and then. If you get your energy by being around people, maybe you can plan a day with one of your best girlfriends. The reason why I think it is so important for you to hang with a girlfriend and NOT your husband, is because sometimes you just need talk. Just need to vent. Your husband is great for that, and I highly encourage date nights on a regular basis, but there is just something so important about having accountability and a deep friendship with a female. God made it that way.
Also, if you are in the “busy mom season” too, maybe asking your husband or a friend to watch the kids for a couple of hours, and just go grocery shopping alone! Those times of being alone or going alone with a girlfriend are SO important! They truly are so beneficial to you as a women! Those times allow you to be YOU. With no distractions. No responsibilities (except maybe grocery shopping..but that’s not the point), and no one to take care of but YOU!
Here are some ways you can make time TO FIND YOURSELF…
Start every morning with Jesus and coffee (time in the Word is the most important way to Find yourself-don’t forget the coffee!).
Schedule a day alone (or with a girlfriend). Even if it is once every other month.
Find someone to watch the kids for a couple of hours a week to go grocery shopping or run errands alone. Trust me…there are lonely grandmas in your church or community that would LOVE to help you! Don’t be afraid to ask!
Go to a Women’s Retreat through your church.
Find a hobby that you love, and take a few hours a week to work on it.
Write down a list of the things you used to want to do (before you got married), and try implementing just one of those things a year.
Start using your spiritual gifts at your church (i.e. music, children, decorating, techy stuff Etc).
Start saving money for a trip by yourself or with a girlfriend.
Talk to your husband and tell him how important “finding yourself” is, and that you need his help. Most husbands just don’t know that you need that. Talk to them. They will understand.
Start Praying that God will show you how “fearfully and wonderfully made you are”. Ask Him for His Power, and His leading. He will show you!
Although I believe everything I just wrote about, with my whole heart, I do believe that you first have to find your IDENTITY in Christ. Without Him, I don’t know how you can have joy, peace or even function for that matter, without Him. When you give your life to Him, He truly does give you your identity…
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully andwonderfully made;[fn] Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalms 139:14
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, forwhose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” Phil. 3:8
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
So, Today, I just want to encourage you! I want to tell you that you are not alone! We all struggle in this season of life. We all have a story. But, all in all…God is good! And He has a wonderful plan for your life!
Be encouraged! You can find yourself! There is wonderful and amazing person in YOU!!!
After years of not writing about my miscarriage, I felt that it was time.
It has been 10 years since I went through that horrific experience, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Not only because it affected me physically, but especially because affected me spiritually.
I wish I could say that “I was strong”, or that, “it wasn’t that big of a deal”, but for anyone who has gone through a miscarriage (at any stage probably), knows that it is not the case. It is something that goes so much deeper than you can imagine. There is a hurt and a pain that goes to the root of your being. There is a small part of you that dies.
My first Pregnancy-The Stormy Season
My husband and I were only married for a year when I got pregnant. I was 22 years old. It was my very first pregnancy. I had no idea how to be pregnant, and to be honest, I was a little intimidated.
I had heard about all sorts of complications that could possibly happen while you were pregnant, but I think that I was finally so excited about having a baby, that those things never really crossed my mind. At least, I didn’t think that “anything could happen to me”. But, little did I know, the “storm” had already begun.
I was already showing and was 14 weeks along when the first sign that something “off” was happening.
My husband was a youth pastor at our church at the time, and I worked at a christian camp. I began having a little bit of spotting and cramping, but everyone I talked to said that was pretty normal and that I should just take it easy for a little while. Unfortunately, the spotting kept occurring. I went to the doctor and the baby was fine. There was still a heartbeat and everything looked normal, so the doctor said that I should just put my feet up more and try to relax.
The upcoming weekend we had a youth function down in San Diego and we decided to take a bunch of the youth and couple of our youth leaders down to a youth conference. I really didn’t feel very well, but I didn’t let on about how much the cramping and headaches were affecting me.
The next morning, while in San Diego, I woke and felt like I was “leaking”. It was clear like water, and I immediately was concerned. I told my husband and he decided to take me to the ER right away.
We went in to the ER and the doctor on call examined me and came in to the little bed area where my husband and I were waiting. I remember him very vividly because of how rude he was. He came right in and said, “you’re having a miscarriage for sure”. Just “threw it out there”, just like that! He told me that I had lost amniotic fluid. He went on to tell me what would happen soon, and that I should just expect to “pass the tissue”. I asked him if there was a heartbeat, and he said, “yes..but not for long”.
At that point, my husband and I were in shock. We didn’t really know what to do or think. And here we were, in a different city. We were not at home and comfortable, which made it feel all the more awful.
I guess at that point, I really wanted to believe that God could do a miracle. Just a few days before, my doctor had pulled out the little heartbeat monitor and let me listen to my baby’s heart. It was strong and steady.
And now, this rude doctor was telling me that there was still a heartbeat, but that my baby was going to die and I was going to miscarry. He sounded so definite. So hopeless.
The ER incident in San Diego was about 2 1/2 weeks after my very first cramping and spotting. When I lost amniotic fluid, my baby’s heart was still beating, so I still had hope. I still believed that God could give me more amniotic fluid for the baby. I still believed that He could change what was happening to me.
But that wasn’t His plan.
We left San Diego after that and didn’t get back home until late. That evening, I went to bed feeling horrible, both physically and mentally. I felt like my mind was exhausted. Spent. I couldn’t take any more “ups and downs”. I kept believing that God could “heal me”, but everything and everyone was telling me otherwise. I had heard so many, “just pray, God will come through for you,” or “God can do a miracle” speeches from people who just wanted to help me somehow. I wanted to believe them. I really did.
That night, approximately 1 am, I sat straight up in bed having the most painful cramping I had ever experienced. I knew that something terrible was happening. I knew that I was bleeding. I woke my husband up and almost screamed at him, in pain. The contractions were hard and close together. I went to the bathroom and tried to clean myself up, but at that point I was hemorrhaging. I didn’t know until the next day that I had “passed the tissue”, the “tissue” that horrible and rude doctor from the ER had talked about. My baby.
My husband rushed around to help me. He went out to the car and put the passenger seat all the way down, prepped the car, and then came in and carried me to the car. He drove as fast as he could to the closest hospital. It was 45 minutes away.
I remember very clearly, through the pain of the contractions, looking up at the stars through the passenger window and asking God, “why?”. Why was He doing this to me? Why was He allowing me to go through this? Why did it have to be so horrible? Why didn’t He save my baby?
We kept speeding to the hospital.
The past three weeks had been an “emotional rollercoaster”. It started with what we thought was a healthy pregnancy, to spotting and cramping, to losing amniotic fluid, to the current horror that I was living through. It was by far the most pain I had ever felt. In so many ways.
As we drove, and the night sky whirled past my window, I think that is when I lost all hope. I gave up. My faith was lost in that moment.
We arrived at the hospital and my husband brought me in to the ER and told the nurses what was happening. At that point, it was a blur. I just remember being in so much pain, and them asking me what I was feeling, if I had “passed any clots”, etc. Then they gave me morphine. I had never had any before and it made me so nauseous. I began vomiting. On top of the relentless contractions and hemorrhaging, it was all I could do to not pass out from the pain.
They ended up having to do a D & C surgery (dilation and curettage surgery).
I am pretty sure that the morphine didn’t “jive” well with my body, because I remember being in the surgery room, and them strapping my arms down on the table (probably right before I was put “under”), and thinking that I was William Wallace in Braveheart (the scene where they were torturing him, at the end).
I know it was just the pain and the drugs talking, but I was sure that I was going to die.
The Recovery of My Heart
“He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake…” Psalm 23:3
A small part of me did died that day. My baby.
The recovery, for me, was the worst part of that horrible season of my life. Yes, I eventually started healing physically, but my heart was far from healed.
I had become bitter and hardened.
I think I stayed home for almost a month after the miscarriage. I barely opened the curtains in my house at all in that month and I became very introverted. I didn’t want to go anywhere. Especially not to church. I was mad at God. At the world. At myself.
Miscarriage can affect your body, obviously, but I believe that it affects your heart the most.
I think a lot of people would say that I am not a very “sensitive”, “emotional” or “deep” person. I would probably agree most of the time. But, I would say that almost anyone who has gone through a miscarriage (especially one that was that traumatic), becomes introspective. You begin questioning yourself. You begin thinking, “if only I did less of this or that”, or “if I only had caught the symptoms earlier”. The “if only’s” become your negative thinking. Your thought process. Your life.
You go from blaming yourself to blaming God. At least I did.
When I finally did go back to church, it would be a long time before I could sing the songs, or be joyful, for that matter.
I remember one Sunday, my husband and I were at church and the worship team began singing Blessed be Your name.
There is a verse in that song that says, “You give and take away”. When I finally was able to actually LISTEN to the words, that’s when it hit me. I broke down crying. I knew God was speaking to me then. I knew that He wanted me to get to that point of surrender, to finally be able to see that “His ways were not my ways”, that He had a plan for this horrible and tragic story of mine.
He works everything in our lives together for good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I know that He uses our stories, whether good or bad, to show His glory.
I really wish that I had that perspective early on, after my miscarriage. I am a hard-headed person sometimes. But, I believe that the journey that I went through, both physically and spiritually, was for my good. It caused me see so many things in a new light.
That “epiphany” that I had after my experience, took a while. It wasn’t until almost 6 months after my miscarriage that I could see it for what it was.
I had become so “self-focused” that I missed other important things. All that time, my husband had been suffering too. Although he didn’t go through the physical pain that I did, a part of him died too. I was so busy “wallowing” in my self-pity and pain, that I didn’t see him. His heart. I wish I could change that part of my story, and am forever sorry to him for not paying attention to his heart. However, God did use that situation to bring us closer to each other.
I later found out, that my baby was a boy. My mother-in-law and my dear friend (who was living with us at the time) had done all of the “cleanup” for me after the actual miscarriage. They had found the “tissue” (as that horrible doctor in the ER had called it), and noted the little features of him. He was a little baby boy.
I later named him Jacob.
My little Jake is in heaven now, and it is a comfort to know he is the presence of Jesus. Even though he was only about 17 weeks along, he was a baby. He had a soul. I don’t care what anyone says…Babies are little tiny humans as soon as they are conceived! But, that’s another topic, for another time.
Fast forward to 10 years later.
I have 4 absolutely beautiful children! Three boys, and 1 girl. They are my little blessings. Each one a gift from God! When I think back to that time now, it is no longer a hopeless story full of pain and sorrow. It is a beautiful story of redemption and grace. My story is beautiful. Out of the ashes of tragedy, beautiful little flowers have bloomed. Beauty out of ashes.
It is amazing to look back at that tragedy and see God’s hand in it. He truly does work all things for good.
Although I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, He has used it in my life to show me so many things. To show me my abundant blessings, to help others who have gone through the same thing, and to bring Him all the glory.
God was there with me through it all. His love was and is relentless.
I would like to share a song with you that has been such a blessing to me as I have reflected on my experience. This song is my “hands held high in surrender” song. It is me, standing before an Almighty God with my hands open in surrender. Surrender of everything.
This song is my prayer…
If you have lost your baby, like me, then you have lived through it too. You know the feelings that go along with it. It is hard. It is emotional. It is real.
Please know that you are not alone! I pray that my story can be an encouragement and hope for you. To know that whatever you are going through or have gone through, that God is right there with you! He is your hope. He is your strength. Cling to him! Don’t push Him away like I did. He wants to be your Comforter. Allow Him to.
I would love to hear your stories! Please feel free to leave a comment below or personal message me.