I am Better Today Because …

My friends over at TwitterMom’s always have some fun contests and inspire all sort of different blog post ides. Today’s inspiration comes from one of their latest contests Celebrate the Things in Your Life that Are Better Than Ever. They teamed up with Dove gofresh and they are offering some great prizes to participants. You should also check out Dove’s photo contest on Facebook where you can submit a “before” photo and a “now” photo in one of the four categories (play, love, life and style) and tell them how your life is better than ever for your chance to win a spa weekend getaway, cash prizes and more!

As for me, today my life is better than ever because of my relationship with Christ Jesus! Growing up I had always attended church and participated in different activities with the church so Christ has always been in my life. But it wasn’t until I got married and moved to Maryland that I really started to have a relationship with Christ. Since then all aspects of my life have changed. I have been blessed beyond measure in my career, finances, family, health and marriage. God’s presences in my life truly makes a difference and I know I am a better person today because of it.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Dove® gofresh™ blogging program, making me eligible to get a $25 gift card and some product. For more information on how you can participate, click here.” (include this link to the discussion page: http://www.twittermoms.com/forum/topics/celebrate-the-things-in-your)

A Mother's Heritage: Handling Loss

After I had my son in September my sister-in-law gave me a gift. She gave me a journal titled A Mother’s Heritage, A Loving Keepsake For Your Children by Ellie Claire. This is different from your every day journal in that instead of an empty canvas for you to free write, it has the topics and questions laid out for you. I like it because it prompts you to share insight to who you are that you may have never shown otherwise. Most of these questions are dealing with topics that, unless my children actually asked, I don’t think I would have jumped up and shared. Instead of writing them in the book, I decided it would be easier to do a blog post for each.

God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NCV)

This week’s journal question was … When I lost someone close to me …

Thankfully I didn’t have endure much loss during my young years. In fact it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I lost my first close relative, my paternal grandfather. My brothers and I were blessed to have our grandparents live with us for most of our childhood. I was maybe four years old when they migrated from Jamaica to join the family in America. It was because of them that my parents were able to comfortably return to work and know that we were taken care of. So it was hard for my family when my grandfather past away. It was even harder when about seven years later my grandmother past away. I was just glad she was alive to watch me get married. And I know they are both looking down on their great grandson now and being very proud.

Mommy Time!

I have read several post by other mothers on how important it is to set aside some time each week alone. A time to rejuvenate your senses, relax and focus on our own needs for once. As mothers we are by nature and design consumed with the needs, desires and cares for our husbands and children. By God’s perfect design we are conditioned to be sensitive and open to the feelings of our family and become selfless toward them. While we may enjoy this role as wife and mother we were never meant to forget ourselves. We are still beautiful creatures, our value to the world and to God is immeasurable. If He thinks of us that way we really have to acknowledge our value and take care of ourselves likewise.

Over the past few months, since my family relocated and I began working full time again, I realized that I was becoming increasingly more tired, agitated and short with my family. I wasn’t enjoying caring for nurturing my family in the way that I knew I wanted to. I was becoming drained and felt very lost at times. My actions were becoming routine and I didn’t do much for myself and my own personal growth. I have many goals set for myself this year including writing an eBook and designing a planner/organizer for mothers both of which are not where I would like them to be. The year is pretty much half over and I haven’t made time to focus on those projects as much as I would have liked.

One day I woke up and realized that I can not continue to be a supportive helpmate for my husband or a strong leader and example for my son if I didn’t start taking time for myself regularly. I knew it didn’t have to be a long extensive time away, just enough to rejuvenate my senses and concentrate on my own personal agenda.

I wanted to do something that wouldn’t take me too far away in case of ’emergency’ but far enough to where I wasn’t being disturbed. The perfect solution for me … Starbucks. There is a nice quiet Starbucks that is in walking distance from my home, just under a quarter mile that opens at six a.m. I find that I am the most focused and productive early in the morning so I head out Saturday morning after my son wakes up for the morning and gets his early morning feeding. I gather all my material the night before and set it at the door so I can head out quietly and quickly. All I need is nice two hour stretch and I leave feeling so refreshed and accomplished.

A Mother's Heritage: Holding my Child

After I had my son in September my sister-in-law gave me a gift. She gave me a journal titled A Mother’s Heritage, A Loving Keepsake For Your Children by Ellie Claire. This is different from your every day journal in that instead of an empty canvas for you to free write, it has the topics and questions laid out for you. I like it because it prompts you to share insight to who you are that you may have never shown otherwise. Most of these questions are dealing with topics that, unless my children actually asked, I don’t think I would have jumped up and shared. Instead of writing them in the book, I decided it would be easier to do a blog post for each.

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. – Ephesians 1:16-17 (NLT)

This week’s journal questions is … Holding my child for the first time I felt … and The prayers I have for my children …

The first time I held my child was right after I gave birth. While still attached with the umbilical cord he was placed on my bare stomach and chest for about ten to fifteen minutes. Most of that time was a blur to me. Everyone was still all excited and in enjoying the moment that he entered the world. And me personally I was mostly in shock. I partially was still in denial about the whole situation of being pregnant and having a child so when I actually laid eyes on him and felt his skin I was in shock, excitement and slightly disbelief. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I held him and fed him again that it really settled in and became truth for me. That was when I first realized that I was capable of loving another person more than myself. I have loved and continue to love and honor my husband and put his needs and desires before mine … but the love for my son is totally different.

I have so many prayers for my son. I mentioned in a previous post about a great book The Power of A Praying Parent. That book has really helped me pray some focused and direct prayers for my son ranging from health, salvation, happiness, growth, relationships, education. I know he is only nine months old now but the is no harm in starting the prayers early.

Thankful Thursdays #11

Every other Thursday I will continue to post a blog entry listing 5 things I am thankful for that week. Why be thankful on Thursdays? We tend to just give thanks on Thanksgiving; why not share your blessings on a weekly basis. It is my goal to continue this for a total of 52 weeks.

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

Psalm 75:1 -We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.

Wow so it seem that I suck at keep up with my  Thankful Thursday posts, the last one I completed was on April 8. Almost two months have pasts so I have tons to be thankful for. Sorry if I go over my usual five.

  1. My husband recently received an amazing promotion at work. Not only did he receive more important responsibilities and a new office, but a pay increase to match. This comes at a great time as we are continuing to make good on the various debts that we owe.
  2. My son has finally conquered the very difficult and challenge task of learning how to crawl. He was seven and a half months old when he finally successfully crawled across the room. The scary part is he is already pulling himself up on furniture and walking across from one end of the table to other. He is starting to do that one knee one foot crawl like he is trying to stand up and walk. I am ready for crawling but not walking yet … slow down.
  3. With the help of the church staff and many volunteers my church was able to successfully pull of a three day United Pastor’s Networking conference for over 100 different pastors and leaders. This is the second year that our home church was blessed with the chance to host it and I am so grateful to have had a part in helping to make the conference happen.
  4. Our home and automobiles are functioning. Over the past few weeks we had experienced some technically difficulties with our cars and home. First my car starting giving some trouble and needed to be serviced. Then later that same week my husband’s car started to give out on us. At one point for a few weeks both of us were car less. Thankfully my sister in law was able to lend us one vehicle and my father in law was gracious enough to pick me and my son up each morning to carry us to work. But now both cars are in better working condition (not perfect, just better). Also as spring is in full swing and we are having some hot days we discovered that our AC was not pushing out cool air. Thankfully the owners had a warranty on the unit and it turned out to only be a blown fuse so we are all chill now.
  5. With much prayer and planning I have finally started my own personal sales consultant business with BeautiControl. I have really enjoyed their prodcuts since the at home spa I received and look forward to providing my friends and family members with the same treatment.
  6. I really enjoyed my first official mother’s day this year. My husband and son really blessed me and made me feel special.
  7. I have gotten further along with the eBook that I am writing. I truly feel it is going to be a help and blessing to many first time mothers out there.

My Satisfying Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss

I must admit that one of the concerns that was close to my heart during my pregnancy was how and when was I ever going to get my body back. I had heard and seen so many women before me that had their own unique experience with this concern. Some women bounced back like rubber bands, while others four, some even seven years later are still retaining some of their extra pounds.

It is not that I am vain, or overly concerned with my appearance, it is much more then that. I can not lie, I do enjoy a slimmer, leaner form, and personally I feel more sexy and physically involved with my husband when I am a smaller size, and these are important. However this time my motivation was different … it was all about my son.

I have always wanted to be that mom who ran around for hours on end with their children playing outside. Playing on the jungle gym and swimming laps around the pool. I experienced being ‘overweight’ (based on what my doctor said for my age and height) and I have to be honest and say that I truly did feel each of those extra pounds. I was less active and for more out of shape. I never want to go back there again.

So after my son was born and I felt physically able and ready I started to get active. I started out small, doing my normal chores around the house, walking to the end of the street and back. Then by the end of the first month I was back on my Wii Fit Plus working out and doing some safe in house strengthening and exercises (push ups, sit ups, etc.). By the third month I was walking at least two miles a day around my neighborhood. I was consistent with it and had a focused plan.

Total, throughout my pregnancy I had gained fourty seven pounds. Far more then I had planned (who does plan that … really). So I had quitea few pounds to lose afterwards. Well my efforts eventually paid off. Luckily for me twenty of that fourty seven pound weight gain was all water retention and that I was able to sweat out in the first two weeks. The remaining twenty seven pounds was all me. By the third month I had lost another ten pounds and had seventeen more to go. Once I started to walk even more (I was up to four miles a day by month four) I started to lose weight more rapidly and by month six I had not only returned to my pre-pregnancy weight, but lost an extra two pounds.

I realized through my journey that if I wanted to achieve my goal it had to start in my heart first. I had to have the right motivation and purpose. Then I had to go at it with a realistic and practical way. I knew a gym membership or weight loss program would not be right for method for me, I had to do something that I was comfortable with and could afford. Walking was perfect for me and my lifestyle at that time in my life. Then I needed the discipline. I needed something to keep me focused and set on my goals. My son! Seeing him each morning and looking into his eyes was all I needed. Just the daily thought that one day he is going to be walking, talking and learning from my example got me up and out of bed putting my walking shoes on.

It was the perfect experience for my post-partum journey. I used to watch how all those celebrity mommas would lose so much weight so fast and be jealous. Not any more … I ain’t mad at ya ladies. I can see how they do it though, lose so much weight so fast. If I would have pushed myself harder or had a trainer pushing me daily sure like they do, I could have reach my goal in three months or even less. But that was not what I needed for my life at the time. Now the next time with baby number two (whenever that may be) I may have a totally different experience. Life changes every year/month/week/day. I could be a different place with myself and have different goals to achieve them. At least I will be equipped with the knowledge and experience that I can achieve my goal whatever it may be when I set it.

Inspirational Parenting

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Throughout our marriage my husband and I have always looked for different ways that we could use our experiences to help encourage, lift up and inspire other couples. We look at our challenges, pitfalls and triumphs as another opportunity to share what we experienced with someone else.

We have approached parenting in the same way. We realized that just as we have reached out to our friends and family around us for advice and guidance during our pregnancy and labor, someday someone may be reaching out to us. That is one of the reasons why we have been so careful in our planning and parenting methods. We wanted to be sure we were doing not only what was best for our family, but also being a good example for those around us.

We were careful to not chose a particular approach to our birthing plan or parenting practices based on convenience or ease. We didn’t want to chose the easy way, we wanted the best way even if it meant working a little harder. That is why we chose to have a natural drug-free childbirth, to practice long-term breastfeeding, cloth diapering and many more natural parenting practices.

What I didn’t realize was just how soon our example would be noticed and considered inspirational.

Recently my sister-in-law and her husband, who are currently trying to conceive their first child, expressed to my husband and I that she really admires our efforts and plans. She feels inspired and hopeful that she will also be able to have a drug-free natural childbirthing experience as well as breastfeed her future child as long as possible.

It is a great feeling to know that what you do is respected and admired by others. I am also excited at the possibility of sharing this experience with my sister-in-law and having yet another common bond between the two of us. I am so thrilled that they are ready to start adding to their family and look forward to their natural parenting journey.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the end of the day May 11 with all the carnival links.)