Monday, January 31, 2011

In the mundane moments

"You shall teach [God's words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 11:19

So....basically all day, everyday, no matter what I'm doing I should be teaching Emery God's words? Yep. It can't get much clearer than that! I read this to Dustin the other day then laughed...when I'm sitting, walking, lying down, or rising up. Is there any other state to be in?! This verse really hit me hard when I first read it and made me realize exactly what I am called to do as a mother. As she is getting older and able to communicate more and more with us, it's crystal clear that we already do teach her so much without even realizing it, for good and for bad.

I'm reading a great book right now titled, "Treasuring God in Our Traditions" by Noel Piper, and in it she writes,

"God wants us to remember to see him in the most mundane parts of our lives. And what we see, he wants us to talk about with our children. When that level of significance is added to the ordinary repetitions of life, a tradition is created." 
"We'll do lots of good things, but only a couple times. One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is repetition -- not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether, but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits."

This definitely won't come easy, especially for me, but I want to create good habits that become traditions for my family, so that my children would be able to look back and remember those mundane parts of of their childhood and remember that we prayed together in them, we sang songs, danced and worshipped together, played and read books, and no matter what we gave God the glory in those moments. 

And just for fun, here are a couple recent pictures of our baby, ahem, toddler!

 Yogurt, one of her favorites. num, num, num...

 Bundled up and ready to go!

 Her "car" as she calls it as she pushes it while, "brrrrrrrrrrrrr-ing" along

 Loving rocking on her chair that grandma gave her and putting on her mittens, then off her mittens, then on, then off....

Oh it's so fun to splash!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One of my favorites

I found this a couple years ago in a devotional I was reading called, "Taste and See" by John Piper. It is one of my favorite things to read and makes me realize what an amazing God we serve.  It will really make you see the miracles in everyday things. Enjoy!

The Great Work of God: Rain

A Thanksgiving Meditation

 But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, And sends water on the fields. Job 5:8-10
If you said to someone: "My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number," and they responded, "Really? Like what?" would you say, "Rain"?
When I read these verses recently I felt like I did when I heard the lyrics to a Sonny and Cher song in 1969: "I'd live for you. I'd die for you. I'd even climb the mountain high for you." Even? I would die for you. I would even climb a high mountain for you? The song was good for a joke. Or a good illustration of bad poetry. Not much else.
But Job is not joking. "God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number." He gives rain on the earth." In Job's mind, rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (= meditation).
Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?
Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.
That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.
What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?
Well it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.
How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.
I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful - lots more thankful than I am.
Grateful to God for the wonder of rain,
Pastor John

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Compilation of Websites

Because I like to save money, clip coupons, and find good deals I'm always on the look-out out for the best places to find them. And since it's not always easy to find coupons for organic foods and natural products I end up bookmarking websites that I find or that someone told me about here and there. I know I love when someone tells me where to find the deals, find new recipes, and get good prices so I thought I'd compile a list of the websites that I really like and I also included some other ones that I just find fun and helpful for healthy living. Hope these can be useful for someone!

Love this site for the printable coupons on organic items:

Another organic coupon site. Also, great recipes and gluten free ideas:

Always great organic coupons and other good deals:

I love the pocket guides to healthy baby products/personal products/foods/plastics/etc. Very helpful:

Good info regarding what to look for and avoid in your personal care products:

Great site for recipes, how-to's, info on foods and their health benefits, etc. Makes me hungry every time I go to it!

A few of my favorite places to buy baby products and diapers:

This one gives you the daily deals on baby products:

If you know of other great similar websites let me know!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Emery's Birth Story

Caution: There may be details that aren't for those with a weak stomach. :) I wrote Emery's birth story only a couple days after she was born so that I wouldn't forget it. Since I was still full of adrenaline, it might sound frantic and a little raw, but I decided not to edit it.

Emery Esther Ranem was born on Wednesday, January 6 at 4:41 pm. She weighed 7lbs 4oz and is 20 inches long. She’s perfectly healthy, has light brown hair, and is absolutely gorgeous! She was born 9 days early.

Here is my birth story if you’d like to read it:

            On Tuesday, January 5th both Dustin and I were home sick with the flu. We had been unable to keep any kind of food down so we went to bed early. Beginning in the middle of the night and lasting through to Wednesday morning I was having back pains with light cramping. I kept waking up to these and started noticing that they were coming and going fairly consistently. By morning they were worse, but what I was feeling was 90% back pain, so I wasn’t sure if this was true labor. I started timing them around 8-9am and they were about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 30-40 seconds. In my mind I did not think this was labor yet because it felt basically like extreme back pain and the contractions seemed too close together already for early labor. I decided to take a bath to see if they’d go away or slow down at all. They didn’t.
            It was really a blessing that Dustin didn’t have to work until 1:30 that day so he got up and started rubbing my back and keeping track of the timing. We were both confused and started reading through our Bradley book, looking things up online, and both of us were thinking that this was false labor or early first stage. I kept forcing myself to drink water to see if the contractions would go away, but they kept coming. Around 11 am we decided to call the midwife at Woodwinds. She said not to come in unless the contractions lasted more than 45 second, if my water broke, or if I was bleeding a lot. We just kept timing contractions and Dustin would rub and put a hot pack on my back during each contraction. I barely felt any pressure/contractions in my uterus, so I still was not convinced this was the real thing.
            The contractions started lasting 45-55 seconds and would be anywhere from 2-4 minutes apart at this point. They were definitely painful and getting stronger. I really felt like a wimp because in between contractions all I wanted to do was keep my eyes closed and sleep or get into a comfortable position, but I had to force myself to get up and move. One of the worst contractions was when I tried lying down on the couch in between and close my eyes for a bit, but just lying on the couch made it so much more painful than I can describe…I couldn’t imagine someone lying on a hospital bed doing this! In between many of the contractions I would throw up because they were so painful and, of course, this only made me feel more miserable. At this point I just wanted to do this labor thing another day, like tomorrow, but not today! I hoped and prayed that the contractions would stop, but that obviously didn’t happen. In the meantime, Dustin was so great at multitasking. He was washing out the puke bucket, heating up the hot pack, rubbing my back, helping distract me, and timing the contractions perfectly.
            Contractions were getting much more painful so we called the midwife again at 2 pm and she said the same thing, but said to come in if I didn’t think I’d be comfortable at home or driving in at this point. Since this was our first baby, we (and she) felt that we’d have quite a while before the baby was born. We still felt comfortable at home, so we just decided to stay. I did not want to go in thinking I’d have hours, maybe days of this kind of laboring left. My dad came over to our house to adjust me around 2:30pm and we told him we’d probably go in soon. At about 3pm the contractions started getting really unbearable and I was walking back and forth through our kitchen, but would go limp into Dustin’s arms when I’d have another contraction. He was a great coach!           
After more of these contractions (that were lasting 1-1.5 minutes at this point) I suddenly started feeling a ton of pressure in my cervix and no longer had any back pain. I told Dustin I didn’t think I could do this at home any longer and I thought we should go into the hospital. I really wanted to cry, but Dustin walked me through the next contraction. He began running bags out to the car as I stood in the kitchen over the counter. During this time (at about 3:30pm) I told Dustin, “I’m pushing!!! I’m definitely pushing!!!” He helped me into the car and at about 3:45pm we left for Woodwinds. I was in the back seat on all fours with towels and chucks pads underneath me in case my water broke while on the way. Although Dustin took every turn very slowly and carefully, it was a very unpleasant car ride that seemed to last forever as I was pushing every couple minutes.
            When we FINALLY got there (a 10 minute drive) Dustin pulled up to the emergency entrance, walked me to the lobby and told the main receptionist I was in labor. He pushed me up in a wheel chair along with a nurse whom I talked to in the elevator and they put me in a room. Dustin was out of the room at the desk filling out some paperwork as I stood over the bed pushing through a contraction until a nurse came in and told me to go pee in a cup. There was no way I was going to pee in a cup at this point but Dustin helped me get to the bathroom anyways. I was on the toilet when I called Dustin in and said, “I think my water is coming out.” They rushed me to the bed and sure enough my water membrane was definitely protruding out. At that point the midwife came in and ruptured my membrane. I asked how far along/dilated I was (thinking maybe 5-8 cm). She said, “I can see your baby!!” I’m not sure why I asked this, though, since I’d been in 2nd stage labor pushing for some time now. I think I was still in shock that we were actually in labor and our baby was almost here! I found out later that my parents and siblings arrived at the hospital 5 minutes after we did, thinking they’d be there for a while. Nope.
            We had planned a water birth, but I heard the nurse yell out, “turn off the tub, we won’t have time!” I couldn’t believe I was having a baby!! After one contraction the midwife told me to feel the baby’s head…I couldn’t believe she was right there already!!! It took about 6-7 hard-core contractions on the bed, with one leg up on Dustin and the other on the midwife, and she was out at 4:41 pm!! We were only at the hospital for a total of 31 minutes; it was perfect! Dustin was able to announce that, “it’s a girl!!” and cut the cord (a little earlier than we’d hoped since it was very short and she only reached my belly). We were so thankful that we weren’t at the hospital any longer since the nurse that was working was not very friendly and did not get along with our midwife (who was spectacular, by the way).
            Our baby started crying immediately and she was perfectly pink and healthy, so they wiped her off and left us be with her for a couple hours before coming back to check her over. I held our baby girl up to my chest and was able to start nursing her right away. Dustin and I were definitely still in shock that she was in our arms, since we hadn’t even quite convinced ourselves that we were actually in labor!! Dustin even had to text his family that we were at the hospital in between pushes so they would know to come.
            Emery Esther Ranem was born without any medications or medical intervention. We labored at home all day and she was “caught” at the hospital. Although this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, I am so thankful that we learned how to deal with the worst labor possible, because it made this experience so doable and absolutely empowering!! After doing this all natural, I can’t even imagine doing it another way. I wouldn’t want anyone to take away that experience from Dustin and me.
            Emery is lying in my arms now as I rock her in the rocking chair in our living room. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!! 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Poem to My Daughter

It is Emery's first birthday today! I cannot believe how fast this first year went and that I no longer have a baby but a toddler. I wrote this poem/letter to Emery yesterday and I thought I'd share it with you on her birthday. I will update with pictures and some video from her birthday party later...and maybe even post her birth story for the few that may want to read it. :) 

When I first saw you, you were so small and perfect.
You had such a tiny nose and lips, and big grey eyes.
I was amazed that you had all ten fingers and ten toes, such smooth soft skin, round full cheeks.
I thought I had never seen something so beautiful in my entire life. God gave me you.
I didn’t feel like a mom right away, but it started to sink in slowly and I began to realize the weight of the gift I had been given.
You were the first one of your kind, there had never been anyone or anything like you before, and you were given to me. 
I was your mommy.

I was to hold you, nurse you, rock you, rock you, rock you.
I was to stay up late with you when you wouldn’t fall asleep.
I was to soothe you when you would cry and cuddle you close when you needed comfort.
I was to bathe you, change you, carry you while I made us dinner.
I was to stare at you for hours while you slept so soundly in my arms.
I was your mommy.

As you grew you changed. You didn’t always sleep in my arms, you wanted to move, to roll, to sit up, to play. You would laugh so hard; you made me laugh. I saw your daddy in you; I saw how beautiful God made you. 
I was your mommy.

You loved to be outside at all times, to play in the grass, pulling it out blade by blade. You hated your stroller and only wanted to be held, but I didn’t mind because I loved to hold you close. Two little teeth poked through and it made me cry. You were growing up and no longer were you satisfied with just milk. 
I was your mommy.

You started talking, you said “mama,” “dada.” You would scoot, roll and climb. You would bounce to music and even sing along in your own special way. We would celebrate each month that you grew with a new picture and we’d compare it to the ones from the months before. I started to see myself in you. 
I was your mommy.

There were hard times too. You would cry, I would cry. I would pray to be a better mommy, to have an easier job, to have a baby who would sleep better. But I would look at you and you would look at me and smile. You always made me smile. 
I was your mommy.

As the months past you started crawling, pulling yourself up, and talking more, so much more. You would say “puppy,” “baby,”  “ball,” “sock,” “nose,” “bath,” “hi,” and “all done.” You would clap your hands and blow bubbles. You knew where your nose, ears, eyes, mouth and belly button were. You knew how to rock your baby and feed her. You knew how to wave “bye bye” and give us a kiss. You were learning to be quiet when we prayed together and you loved to read books, even to read them to yourself. You started sleeping through the night and then I realized that you were not a little baby anymore. 
I was your mommy. 

 I am your mommy. 
I am so thankful that God gave you to me as a gift, if even for this short time on earth. I get to teach you how to sing, how to cook, how to ice skate and paint your first picture. I get to show you how to sew, to knit, to plant a garden, to dance and snap your fingers. I get to show you things for the first time, like animals at the zoo, snow, rides at the fair, a sunset, the feel of sand in your toes. I get to teach you about Jesus, about what He did for you and me. How did I get to deserve you? I didn’t. God gave me you. I still don’t always feel like a mom, but it’s starting to sink in slowly. I love you, Emery my baby. 
I will always be your mommy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's a new year

Yep, it's 2011! On New Year's Eve we had a yummy dinner of lasagna, salad, and lots of sweets! After Emery went to bed we played Bunko with a group of family and friends until midnight.

I think someone's played too many games of peek-a-boo! 
 Dustin's holding baby Lincoln
 BUNKO!!! I look a little too excited here. It might be because...
I only had one bunko all night and actually won a prize for the most losses. YES!!

So for this new year I've been trying to decide what I'd like to change, what resolutions to make, or what goals to accomplish. I can be an extremely motivated person, but I definitely fall short when it comes to sticking things out, especially when they are difficult. It seems I am a master of talking myself out of things and convincing myself of just about anything if it brings me to the conclusion I'm after. I've been this way for as long as I can remember and I'm ready for a change. Here are my goals for 2011.

1) Dustin and I decided to join @TimmyBrister to memorize Phillippians by Easter Sunday. This is going to be quite the challenge, but I am so glad that Dustin and I will be able to hold each other accountable and work together toward this goal. If you want to join in, check out Dustin's blog each week. He is putting the verses to song to make it easier to remember week to week!
2) Read and finish the books that have been on my reading list. Because I lose motivation quickly, I usually start a book then start another book, then start another book, and so on.
3) Learn how to knit a pair of socks. After numerous requests from Dustin asking for a pair of hand-knit wool socks and a sweater I've decided to try for the easier of the two. 
4) Stick to a weekly schedule all year long. Dustin and I wrote out a schedule for each night of the week to help us stick things out better, be more consistent, and have more time together and as a family. 
5) Finish illustrating the children's book that I started in 2010.

I'll keep you up-to-date on the progress of these goals. If anyone has any advice or ideas on completing any of these goals I'd love to hear from you!

Lord, please make this new year one that I might look back on and know that I served You well, that you were lifted high in all that I did, and through every accomplishment You were praised. Because without You I am unable to accomplish anything, but with You all things are possible.