Friday, December 21, 2012

Receiving My Test Results

Well, today I received "bad" good news.  I followed up with my GI doctor to find out the results of the EGD from a few weeks ago.  The good news is that I don't have cancer, Chrohn's disease, celiac disease, or H. Pylori.  The bad news is that we still don't know why I am frequently sick and hurting.

All of my symptoms seem to point to the broad category of "Irritable Bowel Syndrome," which basically means I have a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms and the medical community has no idea what is causing them.  


What's my plan of treatment?  A strict diet called FODMAP.  Since I have already been avoiding high fat, processed, and sugary foods, it's not a lot different from what I have been doing already.  However, my food options are narrower, and I will have to go gluten free again.  Apparently, it's the most successful plan of treatment for IBS available right now.

I know I should be thankful for what I do not have, but right now, I'm just discouraged to have spent thousands of dollars this past year on vague answers and an even vaguer solution.  

Changing my diet again just means more hassle and effort when I already struggle with chronic exhaustion and down days.  Living on a tight budget, going gluten free again is not going to be fun.  It's expensive!  Anyways, you get the point.  I'm feeling overwhelmed right now, and this isn't what I had hoped to hear.

However, I have two choices today as I spend the last few hours I have before the world ends (I kid!).  

I can choose to feel sorry for myself or I can acknowledge that I am discouraged and move on.  Life will continue.  It looks like my chronic illness is here to stay apart from miraculous healing (which I will still pray for), but nothing has really changed.  God is still in control.  I am still His daughter.  Our world is still broken, but this life is just a vapor.  I can choose to lay on the couch and comfort myself with forbidden foods, or I can pray for the grace to keep going and choose to live.

I choose to live.

Not in my strength... but in His.

Maybe, IBS is not really bad news as it would seem but a reminder each and every day that this world is not my home... that as this body fades away, my spirit is being strengthened and prepared for the fulness of what is to come.  I will not let IBS sow bitterness in my heart.  I will look to Jesus and walk beside Him on the good days when I can walk and let Him carry me on the bad days when I am down. I will not let an illness define who I am.  I am the daughter of a King, dearly loved and on a mission to tell of a loving Father who did not spare His most precious Son because He loved us so much.  A Son who became human and suffered just as we suffer and who lived and died to set us free from what binds us now.  This Christmas, I will choose to live because of this Son... my Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Nursery Lesson

Pax is a dare devil.  This kid started standing up on things at six months old.  Fast forward to the present, almost nine months of age, Paxman is a rock star.  He resourcefully tests anything that can move and turns it into a push along walker.  For example, if his sissy is dragging a huge basket of toys across our wooden floors, you can bet that Pax will track her down, grab on, jerk himself up, and walk behind her as if he has been doing this all of his life.  Our little guy is dying to be as "big" as Abby.

Learning to walk is his goal from the time he wakes up until the time he crashes these days.

This morning, Pax was actually using his walker to practice walking.  Novel idea, huh?  He was fast tracking back and forth in his bedroom until he tried to push it out the very uneven door opening between his bedroom and the hallway.  Crash!  Somehow, Paxman flipped upside down and landed with his back legs in the air half dangling over his upside down walk behind.

He screamed in anger and in pain.  I picked him up and sat him in my lap to assess the damage.  Any bleeding?  Nope.  Any bruises?  Not yet.  Before I could continue my assessment, Pax had squirmed out of my arms and was squealing in rage at his walker and crawling back towards it in determination to finish the job he had started.  He was going to push that thing through the doorway.


Failure was unacceptable.

By the time Pax reached his walk behind, he was no longer growling in frustration, he was squealing with delight.  What had started as a huge disappointment had become an even more fun toy.  With the walker flipped upside down, Pax now had better access to the wheels.  He stood proudly beside them and spinned them with his tiny fingers as fast as he could and giggled.

An instagram of Paxman soaring past me in our bedroom the other day

Failure was forgotten as it unearthed something new.  Something better than he would have thought of on his own without it.

As I'm watching my son in amusement, a light bulb went off in my head.  The same happens to us.  Sometimes, we're going head on with life pursuing our agenda, our goals, our dreams, and everything flips on us unexpectedly.  We end up wounded and frustrated.  We cry out in anger at God for messing up "our plans."  In His goodness and grace, our Father God picks us up, heals our wounds, and feeling comforted, we plunge back forward and begin going again.  As we face our failures in His light, the shame we once felt begins to fade away, and in the wake of our tragedy, we discover something new.  We discover that our failures were actually paving the way for a greater story, a better one than we could have planned ourselves.  We learn that, indeed, all things work out for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purposes.

1 Peter 5:10 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Go forth dear child of God.  Blaze the trail Jesus has placed you on.  Do not fear your failures.  God is bigger than they are.  Be afraid not to live.  Go forth.  Your Father is good.  He is watching and listening.  He will comfort you when you fall then He will set you back on His course again.  You are part of a great story, precious believer.  The greatest story of all time.  Your life may seem like a failure right now as you try to follow after Jesus, but at the end of time, we'll look back in confidence and say that His story was greater than anything we could have planned on our own.  So for now, do not fear.  


Go live for Him.

Micah 7:7-8 

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Journey with Chronic Pain

My tummy hurts.  A lot.  I'm over it.

I try not to complain.  I try not to have a bad attitude about it.

But, I'm really ready for relief.

My stomach has pretty much ached nonstop for over a year and a half now.

Nights are the worst.

I am tired.

Best I can remember, it started a few months before my pregnancy with Pax, and I told myself back then it would go away after Pax's birth.  Fast forward to three months post Pax's birth, I'm still hurting, so a surgeon removes my gallbladder.  Thankfully, it stopped the terrible attacks that I was having every night, but the ache never went away completely.  My little guy is 8 months old now.

Some days, I hurt a little, and the pain is nothing more than an annoying nag.  Other days, it lays me on my bathroom floor in a crumpled heap, and I cry in frustration because I hate being unable to take care of my family as well as I want to.  Chronic pain stinks.

I've been poked test after test about a billion times now (ok, maybe that's a little dramatic)... it's only been a million times.  I'm a bizarre health freak of a person when I eat.  I watch fat grams like an anorexic, and so far, no medicine has erased the discomfort.  Only a hard jog or a heating pad seem to bring any relief.   Weird.  I've lost so much weight that most of my pants sag in my seat, and most of my shirts hang some kind of crazy loose on my frame.  Not cool.

My conversations with doctors have gone like this.

Generic Doctor: What are your symptoms?

I name every GI symptom imaginable.

Generic Doctor: What causes your symptoms?


Generic Doctor: What makes it better?

Blank stare.

Generic Doctor:  Do you think it is just gas?

Are you serious?  I've had two babies!!!  I'm not a wimp.

Generic Doctor: I'll order some blood tests.  Let's do a scope.

So... great.  More tests.  More medical bills.  No answers yet.

But, tomorrow is the day.  I'm scheduled for an EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy).  Fun stuff.

I know.  I'm being sarcastic.  I'm borderline complaining about it all.  It's hard not to complain a little.  Being physically handicapped for almost two years is frustrating.

Maybe you're struggling with chronic pain or know someone else who is.   I want to share with you what I have learned.

Chronic pain does take its toll on you and those around you.  Pretending it's not difficult is just living in denial.  It is hard for everyone involved.  It's humbling and frustrating for the person experiencing it, and it is exhausting and annoying for those who love them and want to support them well.

I've learned that I must live life now.  I'm only guaranteed now.  Not tomorrow.  I've learned that life must continue, even when I don't feel amazing, and God's grace is enough to keep me going.  The tummy ache may stop one day, and it may continue until I die at the ripe old age of 98.  Who knows what the future will hold?  Only God.  Not me.

I've learned that I must, I mean absolutely must, spend time with Jesus every day.  I need His Spirit to help me to love others when all I want to do is think about me.  Reading His Word fills my soul with peace and fuels me to serve out of His overflow when I only feel empty.  On my bad days, God usually feels a thousand miles away, and I need Scripture to remind me of His truths like God's love never changes and that God's power is made perfect in weakness.

I've learned to invest in my family's lives and to invest in others out of obedience to Christ- how I feel is too fickle and fleeting.  I've learned that I can still be faithful to make disciples of others, even when I feel less than ideal.  Sometimes, the days when I feel the worst are the very days I have seen God use me to most effectively reflect His goodness and glory.  That's pretty incredible stuff.  God is so good to use us, even at our worst.  

I've learned to simplify my life, my schedules, and re-shift my priorities to get rid of the excess that I never really needed anyway.  God gives us the grace we need to live out each day, and if we are totally maxed out EVERY day before we go to bed, maybe we are living our lives outside of His grace and are doing more than He has asked us to do.

I've learned to be flexible and to rest when needed.  I'm a type A, check off my list, and never budge from my schedule kind of person, and my chronic illness isn't considerate of my plans.  Bad days come and go unexpectedly, and I've had to learn to allow life to ebb and flow around them.  I've also surrounded myself with flexible people that understand when I have to cancel or postpone dates last minute.  There's a saying I like to tell myself, "Those that matter don't mind and those that mind don't matter."  People who truly care about me know that I am responsible and care about them too but that being chronically ill sometimes comes at inconvenient times.  In a way, a chronic illness can help weed out shallow relationships.  Fair weather friends are really not great friends at all.

Tomorrow, I'd appreciate prayers. 

After almost two years of not being "normal" anymore, I am ready to have a diagnosis and a plan of treatment.  Pray that the EGD is helpful and that the anesthesia doesn't completely kick my tail.  Pray that the procedure goes well and that the medical team that will be performing it is skilled and kind.  I have a history of debilitating nausea and vomiting following any anesthesia at all, and I am pretty much dreading tomorrow in every way.  Please pray that the anesthesiologist is able to help me control the unpleasant post-op symptoms and that I can leave the recovery area at a reasonable time.  Pray that God would give grace to my family as they cope with me being out for the day.

Thank you.  I believe that God is powerful and a healer.  Prayer matters.  Thank you for joining in my journey.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When the Rubber Meets the Road...

Do people look at your life and know Jesus is real?  

It's a question I keep asking myself.  I think it is a question we all need to ask ourselves if we are Christians.

I was raised in a Christian home and have been in a myriad of churches all of my life, but this past year has taught me more about faith than any that have come before.  

Shortly before God called Bryan to plant Church@The Square, we went to an Acts29 bootcamp for church planters to find out the "inside scoop" on what church planting was really like from the inside.  We heard stories of victory and stories of despair.  I listened to wives in the women's track share about being tested and describe their personal stories to support their husband's in his calling.  So, when God made it clear to Bryan that he wanted him to start a church, I felt confident about where we were going and felt like I had an idea of what was to come.

I knew the basics.  It wasn't going to be easy.  We were doing something financially risky.  Our marriage would be tested.  Our children would be challenged.  In the end, we had to believe losing everything for the sake of the Gospel was really no loss at all, even if our church didn't succeed.  I knew that.

Fast forward over a year later, living it is a new story.  It's easy to have faith when you know how life should play out.  It's not easy when life derails and chaos becomes the norm.  Consistent schedules have long gone out the window with retirement plans and a nice emergency fund.  I have had to decide whether I really loved Jesus enough to be ok with life unpredictable and bank accounts not lining up neatly.  Do I love Jesus enough to sacrifice my comfort and settle for thrift store clothes over trips to the mall?  Do I love Jesus enough to forsake my pride and give up caring about what others' think to follow Him well?  Do I love Jesus enough to eat bean soup one more time this week because it stretches our grocery budget further?

By no means do I think we are martyrs, that's not my point.  By living in the United States alone, that places us in the category of the wealthiest people in the world.  Any sacrifices we make here are pathetic compared to what many global missionaries give up daily, but I'm not them.  I'm me.

Giving up anything that I value is uncomfortable and tests my allegiance.  

Christian brothers and sisters, we cannot serve God and money.  Jesus made that clear.  If you're not actively fighting to serve God instead of money, I can guarantee that you aren't serving Jesus.  Remember, Jesus said that the road to eternal life was narrow and those who find it are few.  Following Jesus isn't the way we naturally drift.

I really do like Christmas and Christmas trees... I'm just trying to help you see a bigger picture here!

Ok, so what's my point?  As Christmas approaches, it's easy to get caught up in consumerism and holiday frenzies.  I feel the pull.  It's fun, it's light hearted, but most of it is pointless.  

As Christians, if the way we celebrate Christmas looks exactly like the way an unbeliever celebrates Christmas, something is off.  

Something is very wrong.  If we truly believe that Christmas is about celebrating the greatest gift God has ever given mankind, Jesus, we need to reevaluate how we spend this season.  We don't need to rack up our credit cards buying things to impress people we don't even like.  We don't need to pump our kids so full of the Santa hype that they completely miss out on Jesus, the only one who can really satisfy their hearts.  We don't need to pack our schedules so slam full that we run ourselves empty and are unable to enjoy Jesus at all.

Here's what I am proposing:

Boycott EVERYTHING.  (Definitely Just Kidding!)

1) Recenter your Christmas around Jesus.  Be creative.  Use an advent calendar.  I don't care how you do it.  Just do it.

2) Don't get caught up in an American Christmas.  I'm not saying that you have to throw away every Santa and Frosty the Snow Man that you own.  I'm not.  We're not supposed to hide in dark holes to escape our culture.   Live in it, but don't let it own you. In our house, we don't play the Santa game.  We teach our kids about the real St. Nicholaus and how he was a courageous man who loved Jesus and was a giver.  We don't teach our kids that Santa is evil or that they needs to spill the beans to all of the other kids around them that Santa is a hoax.  We simply just don't make it a big deal.  We make Jesus, the God of the Universe, coming to the world as a baby a huge deal.  Why?  Because, He is.

3) Simplify your Christmas.  How much?  Simplify your schedules, your traditions, your giving, your life until Jesus is easily seen and celebrated.  That will look different for every family.

4) Give generously to someone in need.  Pray about it as a family.  Use it as an opportunity to worship God for giving us Jesus.  This may be to someone you know or someone you don't.  It has meant different things to us different years.  God will direct you to choose wisely.

The bottom line... I don't believe in legalism.  I don't think hiding from Christmas will teach your kids anything about it all.  I don't think you should only give your kids three gifts each to teach them how to be grateful.  I don't think you have to run every time you see a Santa in the mall.  I don't think you have to stroke out because you can't buy every person you know a Christmas gift.   I don't think you have to plug your ears every time a secular Christmas song plays in Walmart.  I don't think we need to burn Christmas trees.  I happen to like Christmas trees very much and plan on driving around with our kids to look at Christmas lights like we do every year.

I do believe people need to see Jesus in our lives.  I do believe how we celebrate Christmas can either show people that Jesus matters a lot to our family or that He really doesn't matter at all.

As we plug in the Christmas trees, eat our gingerbread men, and sip our egg nog lattes, let's live in such a way that people know Jesus is real... not just another Packaged Santa Claus.  Jesus has rocked our world and has turned it upside down.  

Luke 2

The Message (MSG)

The Birth of Jesus

1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant.
6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Free Christmas Preschool Ideas

I've been browsing the internet this morning for ideas on doing some Christmas preschool activities with my almost 4 year old kiddo.

Here's a blog offering a great freebie packet.

I also found some other fun ideas for family nights on the cheap.  Look at this idea!  I love the creativity.

What are your favorite resources for craft planning and preschool activities?  Are you hooked on Pinterest too?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

One of God's Greatest Blessings This Year Was...

I know, I know, I know.  I've promised to share my incredible flaxseed hair gel recipe on here.  I've promised to do a review on Once a Month Cooking.  I've promised to share my journey with Devacurl and so much more.  I will post about them.  I really will, but there are so many things that are so much bigger that have been stirring in my heart lately.  So, forgive me... again.  I will get around to those things one day.

But, wow, oh wow! It has almost been a year since our family began this journey diving in full time with the church plant.  You can read my post about that last year here.  We have had some serious ups and some serious nose dives down.  It has been a journey and a season like none other.  And God... He has just been so faithful, so intensely evident, and His grace has completely saturated this past year.

This past Sunday, Church@The Square was packed out.  Providentially, the setup team had tried a different setup arrangement, so we were able to fit everyone who came into the BSU building where we are meeting on Sundays.  It was one of those services where every technical glitch imaginable happened, but God's Spirit just kept moving and stirring us as we worshiped together.

As we closed the service singing and praising Jesus, I couldn't help but tear up thinking about how God has brought our church family together.  What began as an idea has taken on flesh and is thriving and living just as Bryan and I had hoped and prayed.  If you walk in our church doors, you'll notice that our setup is very bare bones, because we are channeling all of our resources into making the Gospel known near and far away.  You'll see that there is no cookie cutter norm of how anyone should look, because we have faithful white haired folks full of wisdom to younger thug looking guys with tattoos.  We are all praising Jesus.  God is weaving a beautiful tapestry of people together to proclaim His name all along the Gulf Coast and farther.  Wherever we go, wherever we live, wherever we work, that is our mission field.  We are learning to be intentionally on mission and to leverage our gifts, skills, mistakes, and resources to making much of Jesus and to making disciples.

Seeing the church grow and thrive, Bryan and I just sit back and rejoice at what God has done.  We know every misstep we have taken along the way.  We had so many plans on how to reach out, how to let people know who we were and what we wanted to do that never happened.  During one of the most crucial stages of launching the church, God completely sidelined us with my tough pregnancy with Pax.  Now, I believe He did it, so we would just watch in awe and worship now.  We can't take any credit for what has happened.  We just get to rejoice and raise our hands in adoration to the Savior who is still saving lives and redeeming brokenness in our world.  In a city where many people are considered unchurched and turned off by church, God is working powerfully.

Folks, the Gospel isn't just a story.  It's a breathing, powerful testament of how the God of this universe madly and jealously loves you so much to send His precious Son Jesus to die to save you from your sins and restore you to what God created you to be.  It's about Jesus defeating death by rising from the dead and about Jesus inviting us into His Story so that the entire world will know how good He is and how only He can makes us whole.  It's worth giving your life for.  The Gospel changes you from inside out.

This year, watching Jesus awaken dead hearts to life and making the lame walk again has been priceless.  Jesus is alive.  His Church has a reason to stand together and rejoice.  God is doing something incredible in Gautier.  Jesus is making Himself known.  I am so very thankful for all of the roads that led us to Church@The Square.  May God continue to use us for His glory dear church family.  May we be united in Jesus and love each other and those around us so well that people know Jesus is alive.  You are dearly loved by God and us.

Happy Thanksgiving Church@The Square!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Grace Kissed Life

Good things are coming!  When I started this blog, my intentions were to write to keep all of our friends and family who aren't near up to date on what was happening in our lives as Bryan became the pastor of a small church here on the Coast.  I linked a handful of emails to my blog then posted on facebook to let people know when I had written something.  I really didn't think many people were reading what I wrote.  I mainly just wrote for myself and God.  I call writing my "free therapy."  Writing out my journey helps me process what is happening, and it brings me closer to God.  It helps me appreciate what He is doing in the good and the bad.

Well, imagine my surprise when years later, I begin tinkering with my blog's layout and click the stats button.  I about fell out of my chair when I realized how many people from all over the world were reading my blog.  I internally freaked, panicked, then stared at the screen in awe.  It completely blew me away that my daily struggles and wins would attract that kind of attention.  It's a God thing.

Why He's given me this voice on the internet?  I have no clue, but I do know this.  I love to write.  I love to be creative.  I love to be artsy.  I love to share about Jesus and how my story is playing out His.

Happy at the sandbar with Boo and Bean... my favorite place in the world!

For those of you who have been following for a while, you'll notice I have been updating the blog's look and have renamed it to "The Grace Kissed Life."  Why rename it?  Mainly, I wanted to protect my family's privacy a little more with the wide spread of readers that I have inherited.  Also, making it more professional allows me to have more opportunities to share my posts and become funded by companies that want to take advantage of the number of readers that follow me.

Why the name?  Why "The Grace Kissed Life"?  Well, my first name is Anna, and in Hebrew, that means "graceful."  If I can say anything of my life, it has obviously been touched by God's unmerited favor (a.k.a. grace).  I think as you read along, you'll see that trend too.  God's grace covers me.

As for this blog, my hope is to share snippets of my life's journey with you so that you see how beautiful Jesus is and how well He takes care of His own.  

I'll be sharing tips and ideas of how we are able to live well on a small ministry salary.  I'll share my struggles as I figure out how to be a Godly wife and mom.  I'll review products and resources as opportunities present themselves.

Thank you for being a cheerleader.  Thank you for often praying for us, crying with us, and having a good laugh with us.  You're not a creeper (I think).  We want you to celebrate life with us.  Welcome to the Grace Kissed Life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Learning to Walk Again

This weekend signified a huge shift in our household.  Pax has begun the journey of becoming a walker.  Therefore, nothing... I mean nothing is safe anymore.  Our house has become one huge obstacle course, and our little guy has danced, side stepped, and stood to his heart's content.  We have heard thud after thud after thud as our Boo has practiced standing and stepping alongside anything that could hold up his weight (or not).  We have all cooed and smiled and urged our brave man along.  Not once have we scolded him for not doing a better job.  We've applauded and cheered as if he was breaking world records in babyhood.  His struggles and efforts are our joys as he conquers one developmental milestone at a time.  Watching Paxman grow is a joy.

Showing off his skills at church Sunday.

This past month I have been making traction in studying Biblical womanhood and applying those truths to my life.  It's been a hugely difficult transition from being a business oriented mom to a family oriented mom.  I have stumbled and fell more than once, and I have struggled with discouragement off and on because this shift has not been natural.  I LOVE my family, but it is so much easier to love ME.

I am convinced living life Biblically is impossible to do without the Spirit's help.  Jesus told us His path was straight and narrow and that few find it, but in our pseudo-Christian culture, it's easy to believe that Christianity is the norm.  It's not.  Being a Christ follower isn't a checklist of going to church, following a few moral guidelines, and giving a tithe.  It's hard.  It's messy.  It means losing everything for the sake of the Gospel, so that we can find Jesus is everything we really need.  Living Biblically will cost you.  That's why so many people listened to Jesus' teachings then walked away.  Remember the rich young ruler?

Since my last blog post, I've been challenged over and over again through unreal spiritual warfare about the decision I have made to live out the Gospel through loving my husband and children well.  And no, I don't throw around that term "spiritual warfare" loosely.  However, when we follow Jesus head on and leave this world behind, we are dangerous.  We are a threat to Satan's kingdom.  There is no one closer to rocking this world for the glory of Christ than the person who chooses to follow Jesus and abandon everything they used to worship instead.

The struggles are real.  Putting flesh on this decision has been uncomfortable, self-denying, and honestly at times quite terrifying.  I'm not in control anymore.  I like control.  I will say that God's grace has proven more faithful than I have ever known.  His Presence has been evident more powerfully than I have ever known.  His mission has burned in my heart more brightly and clearly than it has in years.  I am feeling in sync with His Spirit.  I have peace.  That is priceless.

What is this looking like in our daily life?  Our home life is shifting from a place of chaos and disorder into a place of peace and joy. I've been decluttering and simplifying our home and our routines.  I've discovered that excess takes up energy we don't have, and we want our lives to be about the Gospel- not stuff.   My relationship with Bryan is better than it has been in a long time.  We are actually spending quality time together when we put the kids to bed.  We've limited our tv time to one show a week, and we spend our evenings together actually connecting instead of just vegging out.  The changes with the kids have been remarkable.  I mean they are 3 years and 7 months.  I didn't expect one month to affect them much, but it has.  They are happier and more at peace together.  Because I am not investing my best energies into websites and graphic design, they are getting the attention they need to thrive and develop well.  Abby's attitude has improved hugely, and she is learning how to love her brother well and see him as a joy instead of a burden.  Maybe she's learning from my example?  Ouch.

We haven't arrived at perfection.  We won't.  It's about the journey.  It's about the effort of learning to walk as Jesus would have us walk.  It's about learning to carry our cross, so that others would see how great He is... not how amazing we are.  The cost of becoming a Biblical woman in an ungodly culture is high sweet sisters in Christ, but the cost of missing this is even higher.  Just like we applaud Pax right now for learning to take his first steps, I know God applauds us and cheers us on.  He isn't expecting perfection, but God does demand obedience.  I pray that this blog will encourage many of you to begin your journey in following Christ no matter the cost, even if Dave Ramsey wouldn't approve. :)

Here's a link to the study I just completed on Biblical Womanhood if you're curious and want more info.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Coming Home Again

I've taken a mini hiatus lately from blogging because I have been really working on reorganizing my life.  Long before Pax was born, our family fell into what I like to call "survival mode."  It was a season of not really thriving but just making the best of some back to back rocky seasons.  Praise God, a month ago, Little Boo was diagnosed with lactose intolerance, and a simple switch to soy formula has given us a new baby.  My sweet guy now sleeps, eats, and plays happily.  I feel like I am coming out of a fog.

Six months into being a family of four, I have become very aware that there are quite a few things out of order in our lives.  Our home has become quite chaotic as schedules aren't meshing, important things are being forgotten, and Bryan and I have only been together to discuss kids, church affairs, and website business.  Not ideal.

As I've been praying and working through a study on Biblical womanhood, I've been convicted that part of the reason for all of the disorder is me.  Ouch.  In many ways, I've forgotten my most important assignments... being a Godly wife and mom.  As a Biblical woman, being a Godly wife and mom are non-negotiable.  These are bed rock priorities.  Neglecting my role isn't just a bad idea, its fruit can make people think the Gospel is a joke.  That's serious stuff.

Sure, you say, coming to my defense.  You're a great wife.  You're a great mom.  You stay home with your kids but run a web design business from your home office.

Yeah, I do, but at a great cost.  My heart has begun to wander from home.

I've found myself more and more lately realizing that there aren't enough hours in the day to design logos, build websites, manage projects, cook supper, clean dishes, wash clothes, feed the kids, diaper Boo, and eliminate dust mites.  That's not even touching the additional responsibilities and challenges that come from being married to a church planter with an ever shifting schedule.  It just isn't possible. In the busyness of life's routine, I haven't been thriving.  I have been surviving.  I haven't been a great manager of our home.  I have taken on more than what I can handle.

In light of studying God's Word, I've realized that I have had role confusion.  Instead of thriving in my role as a nurturer and wife, I've been trying to shoulder Bryan's responsibility as being the provider of our family too.  I've neglected my role to the harm of everyone around me, because I underestimated its importance.  Am I saying that a woman can't work outside the home?  Absolutely not.  I just believe that Scripture teaches that in an ideal situation you shouldn't work outside the home if you aren't already managing your other responsibilities well.  I'm not.

On a side note, if you are capable of running your home well, loving your husband well, managing your kids well, and working out of the home well, you are awesome.  You are the Proverbs 31 woman.  I hope I can be you one day.  I'm just saying I'm not there yet.

Here's where I am.

I'm coming home.  I am backing down drastically on how many website projects I take on every month, because I want to invest in my family more.  I want to love my husband so well that I make him the greatest pastor he can be.  I want to be a worthy helpmate.  After all, that's why Eve was created (Sorry feminists... it's true).  I don't want to be so busy working on my career goals and finding self-fulfillment in doing something I love that I forget to help my husband accomplish God's calling in his life.  I think we can do more good for the Kingdom of God together than apart.  Hence, marriage.

With the kids, I want to be a Godly mother who isn't stressed out because they are wrecking my business task list.  I want to invest in these young years by loving my children and training them well, because this is the only time in their lives when I will be given the gift of being their primary influencer.  I want them to be primed to love Jesus and to make Biblical decisions.  I want to know their hearts, know their struggles, and be everything to them that God has called me to be.

In our home, I want it to be a place of order and rest.  I don't mean a sterile place where everything is perfect and nothing can be touched.  I want it to be a place that is organized and open to others.  I want it be managed so well that I don't stroke out when someone drops by unexpectedly.  I want our meals to be healthier than last minute fast food runs because "Mom worked too late again."  I want our home to give my family a glimpse of heaven so that they hunger for it even more.  You get the picture.

It's a tall order I know.  It's going to mean sacrifice to make it happen.  It means we'll be living on less again.  It means most people will think we are weird... I'm weird.  But, that's ok.  It's not about me.  It's about Jesus.  It's about trusting God and His idea of Biblical roles and learning to love my family and my home well.

Titus 2 

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled,sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  

If you're curious about learning more about Biblical womanhood, check out this link here:

I've been participating in the 30 Day True Woman Makeover and have found it encouraging, convicting, and helpful. If you're a woman, may God give you grace to be a Biblical woman who loves Him and others well!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taking the Plunge

Coloring my hair has always made me nervous... like sweaty palms, first date kind of nervous.  It's so permanent or at least I thought so until now.  But, that's what this whole blog is about.

I was contacted by Vocalpoint, a community I belong to, where I get to test out products and give feedback in exchange for perks, to see if I would be interested in blogging about a hair color product.  I emailed them back and let them know that I would consider it but that I was very picky about my hair.  I'm a die hard curly girl, and I don't just put anything in my hair.  Thinking I had nixed my chances of a callback, I was surprised when I was chosen to be a blogger for Clairol's Nice N Easy nonpermanent hair color product.

Seriously?  Don't they know I will absolutely slaughter them with my review if it fries my curls?  

Are you really sure you want me to review your product when I have already confessed to being a hair color Nazi?  I was shocked.  I was scared.  I kicked myself mentally for checking "Maybe" on the box that asked whether or not I would change my hair color.

When my voucher came in the mail to go get my free box of hair color, I waited a week to get it.  In fact, I went to the store to get it twice and walked out with something else.  I really was not too excited about coloring my hair.  So, I tried to find a good reason to skip this product trial.  I posted about it on facebook, asked questions to anyone I thought might have colored their hair, and I spent hours scouring the internet for information when I should have been sleeping (Sad but true).  I used Clairol's iphone app to test out different shades on a photo I had taken, and I just couldn't make a decision.  It was easy to use, but I was just so unsure of the whole thing.

Finally, my husband looked me and said, "Anna, you just need to do this."  Short for, "Anna, you're a chicken.  You're already in this.  Just do it."

So, like a lemming I jumped tiger I pounced for this opportunity, and I chose a color that was similar to my roots but different enough to be noticeable.  I decided that if I was going to color my hair that I was going to actually try to get out of my comfort zone and conquer my coloring fears.

Even though my hair looks dyed, it's just lightened from the sun.

Thanks to my hubby extraordinaire, we documented the whole process for you.  Laugh.  Go ahead.  My hair coloring anxiety is more than evident and captured just for your enjoyment.

The process was pretty easy, and the instructions couldn't have been clearer.  
I was seriously considering chickening out as I was shaking the chemicals up.  I did do a skin test and a strand test previously to make sure everything would be a "go."  I smeared vaseline along my hair line and on my ears to make sure I didn't stain my skin as a coloring newbie.
Here we go.
You can see the skin test on my elbow.  Lol!
My hair is really thick and long, so it took a while to work it all in.  Thankfully, I had two boxes on hand, because it took both to get my hair covered.
Done.  Now to wait 15 minutes.
Rinsing it out until the water runs clear.  I don't recommend doing it this way in a shower.  Either get in the shower completely or do this over your kitchen sink.  The color splattered everywhere and made a mess.  But hey, you knew that, right?
After everything was rinsed out, I added the last step- their awesome conditioner.  I usually avoid silicones like the plague, but for an adequate review, I went the whole way.  I was surprised by how hydrating this conditioner felt.  I really liked it!
2 minutes later I rinsed the conditioner out.  My curls felt good, but I was still nervous.  Every time I have colored my hair, my curls have wilted or frizzed.  I was still skeptical.
After drying, this is the end result.  The color was darker than I anticipated, but I loved the gloss and shine.  It was the shiniest my hair has EVER been, and my curls looked and felt great.  I was super impressed.

A couple of days later, it's lightened some, and my hair still looks great.  I haven't styled my hair since yesterday, and I am still happy with my curls.  In fact, my hair really does feel better now than it did before I took the color plunge.
In conclusion, I'm glad I tried this product.  Clairol Nice N' Easy nonpermanent hair color has good coverage and was easy to use.  The smell wasn't offensive, and I loved the included conditioner.  I like that the color is temporary, so my commitment level is low.  28 washes, and my lighter locks will be back.  I'm already thinking about what color I want to try next.  Change is fun.

My toddler princess thinks my hair rocks.  

She says I have "Snow White" hair now.

I think I look like "Wonder Woman" or "Xena."  But... maybe that's just me. ;)

What color would you try?

Update!  Please read my followup review here: 

I'm no longer a fan of this product.  Please read my newest blog before using to learn from my mistakes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Beauty of Discovering I Am Not God

This past year has pushed me to realize something very important that I should have figured out by now...

I'm not God.

Laugh.  Go ahead.  You think I'm kidding.  I'm not.

I'm completely serious.

In July of 2011, after months of trying, God allowed us to conceive Pax, and by August, I began to really struggle in the pregnancy.  The vomiting started.  I experienced a migraine that resembled a stroke that landed me in the ER and multiple doctor's offices.  Life went out of control very quickly, and since then, nothing has been the same.

Waiting at the pediatrician's office again this week. Both of the kids have become waiting pros.
Between Pax and me, I have spent countless hours in doctor's offices and in the hospital.  My body still isn't the same,  but after my cholecystectomy six weeks ago,  I am just now getting to a place where I think I will have a "new normal" again.  Five months old today, our little guy has had his share of misery with terrible reflux, and the medications he has been on to control it have only helped minimally.

Finally, It looks like we are having a breakthrough with his treatment in the past day.  I am ecstatic, relieved, hopeful... It couldn't have come at a better time.

This past week I hit a wall.  Burnout.  Ugh.

I had tried to pace myself carefully, but my best efforts weren't enough.  Being a caregiver to a baby who is often irritable and crying has drained me, and for the past week, depression has been visiting and threatening to stay.  If you've ever experienced depression before, you know the fear I feel.  I hate being down, but I think I needed this.  I needed to be slowed down, so I would listen.

Here's what I feel like God is teaching me.

You're not God.  I am.

You're not in control.  I am.

You can't do this by yourself.  You're not God.  I am.


You would think I would realize that by now.

Nothing about me looks strong anymore.

I am just now really beginning to get it.

I can't do life alone.  I can't shoulder the responsibility of raising my kids, being a good wife, or being a somewhat decent friend by myself.

I have to do it in the grace that God gives me, and sometimes, that's through others.

Sure, I know what it is like to have the support, love, and friendship from my family and my Christian community.  We have experienced the abundant kindness of others often, and the past few weeks, I have been intentionally rearranging my life to invite help in more often.  But, until this point, I thought that help was a luxury, and I was wrong.

Asking for help is a need for me... and them.

When I ask for help because I am struggling and life is too heavy for me to bear, I am being humble and admitting to those listening that I am not God.  I am opening myself up to the fact that I am not self sufficient and am indeed human.

Yes, I think we sometimes need to be reminded.  Isn't that what happened in the garden of Eden?  Eve listened to the Serpent (AKA. the Devil) because she wanted to be like God.  She ate the fruit, shared it with her husband, and life has went downhill since.  As humans, we've had a God complex since the beginning.

It's time to end it.

When I give others (referring to the Christian community) the opportunity to help meet my needs, they get the blessing of loving and serving me like Jesus loves and serves them.

Then, my vulnerability and neediness become a beautiful thing as the unbelieving world that is watching gets to see my suffering being eased, and the beauty of Christ is put on display as I get off my pedestal and He gets on it where He belongs. 

Trying to cheer up Little Man Sunday evening
with glider time.
At that moment, this isn't just a Christian friend helping me sweep my floors or someone bouncing a sick baby to give me a break.  This is the Christian Church functioning unselfishly in a raw and beautiful way that screams Jesus is alive.

I know what some of you are thinking.  I like being independent.  I feel safe when I am in control of what I need and how I get it.  If you look up the definition of a Type A control freak, my photo is in the margin.  I am not a good example of this yet.

Being vulnerable is awkward and risky.  

But, right now, I am realizing again (yes, I'm a slow learner) that it is not about me.  This life is about God and His glory.  If in my weakness, the world sees Christ more clearly and He becomes more desirable, it is worth it.  My life isn't about making sure everyone knows how strong or how "together" Anna Cirlot is.  It's about Him.  God's strength.  God's design.  God's sovereignty.  God's glory.

I'm not God.

He is.

This is war.  We have a real Enemy that is more than happy to take us out.  If we harden ourselves in pride, we'll either crumble under the pressure or become too puffed up from "making it" on our own to let Jesus get the spotlight He deserves.

Let's be real.  Let's be vulnerable.  Let's hold each other up.  Let's admit life is messy, and that we need each other.

Let's live in such a way dear friends that the world will know this isn't just another fairy tale.  Jesus is real.

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples, when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Learning to Dance...

What do you do when your idols are attacked?  (An idol is something we try to find our satisfaction or identity in apart from God) Do you repent and realize how much you depend on other things for happiness instead of Him?  Or, do you get angry at God for messing with "fill in the blank"?

This is a question I feel like I have been answering over and over again for the past 19 months.  That's how long my life has been hugely unsettled through many things... Bryan's job loss, our transition into church planting, a tough pregnancy, quite a few health problems amongst all of us, and recently my cholecystectomy.

This morning I woke up to find our living room floor was buckled and warped from a water leak.  We're still unsure of its source.  As Bryan scooted around on the floor with a flashlight trying to figure out what was going on, I felt the tears start to burn in my eyes and my heart sank.

You see... until this year, we had been debt free, except for our house, and we have had a reasonable emergency fund.  This past year when God asked us to plant Church@The Square, we stepped out in faith and took a huge financial risk.  God has been so good to provide in so many ways.  If you were on the outside looking in, you'd never know that we were walking a tight rope.  However, the past six months medical bills have come in faster than our incomes could provide, and it's been discouraging.

Thankfully, Bryan is now full-time with Church@The Square, and our hardest season financially is over.  It'll take a while to pay off what remains.

Here are my thoughts.

I have to make a choice right now. I can either keep praying that God will provide for our needs and work hard in a Biblical way to honor Him, or I can get angry at God for "letting" this happen.  I can either still believe that God is in control, or I can choose to believe the lie that God is indifferent and that it is up to me to fix everything.  If God has successfully provided so well to keep us debt free through many lean seasons until this point then He has a purpose in allowing us to accumulate debt in this season.

At least in part, I think He has allowed it to attack my personal idol... security.

If I have learned anything in the past year and half, I have learned that my security can only be in Christ.

When your husband suddenly finds Himself jobless, you lose part of your security.  You know you are insufficient to mend his heart wounds and to provide for your household.

When you start to plant a church, you are doing something "uncool" or "crazy."  Your security isn't in your identity as a church planter.  Most people just don't understand.

When you vomit 30 times a day and become too weak to take care of your family well because your pregnancy isn't going well, your security isn't in how good of a wife or homemaker you are.  You just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

When your new baby is cranky and cries days on end, your security isn't in how good of a mom you are.  You feel like a failure.

When you finally are able to have the surgery you've needed for over a year, your security isn't in being independent anymore.  You need help while you are down to keep life going for everyone else in your home.

So, snap back to this morning... I'm tearing up and breathing a prayer to God for provision again.  As I sit down in my chair wondering how bad the damage is and how we are going to be able to replace the flooring and fix everything when our time is already stretched too thin, my sweet toddler princess comes up and asks me to turn on the worship music.  As I turn it on, she begins to twirl and dance in joy across our warped living room floor, and I am overwhelmed by the realization that God is inviting me to do the same.  He is inviting me to dance with Him in this glorious, messy life and just trust Him to make it all right in the end.

I don't know how my story will play out, but I am not supposed to.  God is my heavenly Father, and He loves me and will provide for our needs.  I don't need security to be happy or at peace- I just need Him.  I need to rest in Jesus and dance.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You're Gonna Think I Am Crazy But...

So, you're going to think I am crazy, but I am really not.  I'm nuts adventurous. I added these babies to my styling routine today.  Yes, I'm for real.  I live life on the edge.

My long curly hair has been driving me up the wall this week.  I know I should be patient with it.  It's probably not its fault that it's been frizzy.  I did just have a baby.  I am a week postop.  I am breastfeeding a chunky monkey.  However, I do want my shiny hair back, so I have been looking at for tips on fighting summer humidity without harsh products or silicones.

I discovered that agave nectar acts as a humectant.  It grabs onto moisture and keeps it from evaporating.  Coconut oil is an excellent deep moisturizer.  Obviously, if you overuse either, your hair will become a slimy, sticky mess, but used correctly on wavy/curly hair, I am pretty impressed with the results.

Here's how much coconut oil I used.  

I really like the brand I used. It's called Tropical Traditions.  I was sent a bottle as a blogger freebie a while back, and though I bet the company thought I would use it to cook something delicious, it's going in my mane.  A tiny bit goes a very long way.  If you overuse this, it'll be an excellent moisturizing treatment, but it will make you look like you haven't cleaned your hair in weeks.  Yuck.  You'll have to start over (or wish you had the time to...*clearing my throat* speaking from personal experience).

I spooned out a tiny bit then rubbed it into liquid in my hands before smoothing it all over my dry second day hair.  I wanted to make sure I didn't add too much, but I wanted to make sure I got a nice shine.  When I was happy with the shine, I spritzed my hair with a water bottle until it was damp.  Next, I added the agave nectar.

Here's how much agave nectar I used.

Remember, I have long, thick hair that is VERY frizz prone.  You may need much less.  After squirting a little in my palm, I watered it down and made a serum I smoothed over slightly damp second day curly hair.  In fact, I ended up doing that much twice to make sure I had coated all of my hair efficiently.  At the end, I scrunched my hair and waited for it to dry.

Here's the end result.  Excuse my smirking face.  
(Taking a photo of yourself is just plain awkward.) 

I really like how well my kitchen chemistry turned out.  Agave nectar and coconut oil are much less expensive than the high end products I need for great second day hair, and they are actually good for my curls too.  They both smell heavenly, and it has lasted all day through baby spit up and Mississippi heat. And, did I mention, my hair isn't sticky or greasy at all?  It's just lovely.  Who would've guessed?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

I hate the awkward conversations that come up because I have chosen to stay at home with my kids.  I either get the question, "Well, what do you do during the day?" as if there really isn't anything to do.  Or, if I am really lucky, I get the remark from the other person, "I'd never be able to stay at home with my kids. I'd get bored."  Either remark draws a blank stare from me.  I'm just not sure how to respond.  All I can think is, "Seriously?  How do I sum up what I do? Bored.  I wish!"  So for all of you who have wanted to ask this question but are too wise to do it, let me just share my day with you as an example of what a stay at home mom does.

One word.


No, I'm not being dramatic.

My morning began with a cranky Pax crying at 3:20 a.m.  I squint at my cell phone clock and realize I am an hour and half late on one of the Reglan doses.  I guess I overslept the alarm.  I roll out of bed to watch my 3 month old bubble up baby acid like a geiser.  Nice.  I turn off his Angelcare monitor and pick him up to nurse him and give him his medicine.  Sleepy Pax nurses on one side for what seems like forever before falling back to sleep.  I gently tote him back to his bed on the other side of our room and turn on the angelcare monitor again.  Five minutes later, he rouses up and begins to cry.  I turn off the monitor again, and pick him up to nurse him again.  My head feels like it has been smashed by a train.  Pax falls asleep again and I transfer him to the bed. I pop an ibuprofen to help me deal with the cold that I caught from my sick toddler. I lay down, and Pax wakes up again.  It's 4:30 a.m. now, and I am miserable.  I tap Bryan on his shoulder and beg him to take a turn.  He shuffles out of bed and takes a shift.  He gets Pax to sleep and lays down.  Pax cries again.  We both sigh.  I get up this time and am awake enough to realize that I had forgotten to swaddle Pax as tightly as normal, so I change his diaper and rewrap him into a Pax burrito.  The kid is out in ten minutes and stays down.  I fall asleep sometime after 5.

A couple of hours later, Pax wakes up for good, and I nurse him in the bed with us.  I read my Bible reading plan and devotional on my iphone for a few minutes while burping Pax.  Abby bursts through our bedroom door chattering about Dora or one of her imaginary friends.  My quiet time is over.  I roll out of bed, and since I'm struggling with horrible vertigo (thanks Meneire's!) brought on by the nasty cold I am fighting,  Bryan takes a shift with the kids.  I shower and try to pull myself together for the day.  When I get dressed, Bryan informs me that he has managed to get Abby and Pax both fed and Pax is down for a catnap in his swing.  I take over with the kids, and he showers to begin his day.  I pour a bowl of cereal and eat it while holding a needy Abby in my lap.  We both know that Pax will wake up soon, and I'm trying to give her the one-on-one attention she craves before this opportunity passes.  

Silly Abby
Once Pax wakes up, he is happy for about 3 minutes then begins to fuss and want to nurse again.  I nurse him, and Bryan takes Abby with him to a meeting.  I spend the whole time they are gone trying to settle Pax down.  A couple of outfit changes later for both of us, Pax is still spitting up and crying.

I finally give up on comforting him and put him in his swing.  While he is crying, I try to tidy up the kitchen by unloading and reloading the dishwasher.  It's time for lunch, and I nuke leftover potato soup.  Abby and Bryan are eating while they are out, so it's just up to me to take care of Pax and myself.  I take the hysterical Pax out of the swing and try to calm him down.  I then attempt to feed him his oatmeal and bananas while I eat my soup.  No success.  Pax clamps his mouth shut and spits everything I push in out.  After a few minutes of seeing Pax's wailing and gnashing of teeth (that is the two bottom teeth that are coming in), I give up.  I put him back in his swing and let him cry it out while I finish cleaning up the kitchen.  I look out the window and realize I forgot to feed and water Lottie this morning.  Poor dog.  I feel guilty so I let her in the house.  She flips and flops with excitement and searches the house for dropped toddler snacks.  I'm sure she wasn't disappointed.

About that time, Abby and Bryan return from their meeting.  Bryan and I plan out the rest of the day so our schedules will be synced.  Bryan begins to work in the office.  Abby goes to her playroom for a little while.  Pax wakes up again after only a short catnap.  He's spitting up again and screaming.  I tote him into our bedroom and change his diaper again.  I settle him in his nap nanny with a toy, and he is content for about ten minutes.  I start a load of laundry and try to put finished laundry away.  I only get partially done before Pax is screaming again.  My phone alarm rings.  It's time for Pax's medicine again.  It doesn't seem to help any.  Frustrated, I pick Pax up and tote him with me into the office. I settle him into his bouncer, so I can file away the papers Bryan has finished sorting.  Lottie walks in, licks Pax in the face, and Pax is crying again.  I bounce him with my foot while I finish filing the papers.  Bryan leaves the house for the rest of the day.

Guilty Lottie... look at those guilty eyes.

My patience is gone.  Pax is still screaming, crying, and spitting up everywhere.  He wants to nurse again.  I nurse him, and I give up and put him in his baby carrier.  Yes, I am a human kangaroo.  Content finally.  Pax falls asleep on my chest in the carrier, and I sit down in the recliner exhausted.  I want to take a nap too.  After all, Abby is content.  Pax is content.  I've kicked Lottie outside.  Did I mention that I put Peeperz outside at some point in the midst of all of this too?  I pick up my journal to scribble out my frustrations and to try to focus on the positive.  I write out a quick prayer asking God for grace to finish the day well.

I look at my clock and realize I have to get Abby and Pax into the car if I am going to make it to fax some important paperwork in time.  I load up the kids into the car.  Pax is screaming and crying again because he is out of the baby carrier.  Abby is wearing a white fur trimmed red cape with a Dora backpack stuffed with My Little Ponies, fake food, and a toy lizard.  I look like I just rolled out of bed.  Quite honestly, I just don't care.  I think to myself, "Well, at least I showered."  We make it to fax the paperwork in time, and we pick up dog food at my parents' clinic.  I reload everyone into the car again and realize it is supper time.  We run through McD's to get something to eat since we still have to get a few groceries.  We pull into Walgreens parking lot to eat and I nurse Pax again at the same time to try to calm him down.  He has been screaming since we left Moss Point.  We finish eating then go into Walgreens to get more baby food.  They're out of what I need.  Of course.

I reload the kids in the car.  Pax starts his normal screaming/crying routine again.  I call Bryan to tell him we'll be home late.  No problem though, because he's going to be home late too.  We head to Walmart in Ocean Springs and get out again.  I put Pax in his baby carrier and he goes to sleep.  The poor kid smells like a mix of sweat and spit up from crying so much today.  Abby frolics and dances beside the buggy, and I do my best to keep her from spinning into anyone as I drop items into our basket.  At this point, my curls are sticking up in all directions, and I know I look like one of "those" stay at home moms.  I look sleep deprived and crazy.  Again, I really don't care.  We make it through Walmart, and I reload the kids into the car.   Abby spills the rest of her Happy Meal into the back seat of the car while getting her My Little Ponies to jump from her lap to the seat.  Great.  Pax wakes up but is surprisingly quiet.  Phew... close one.

I pull into the driveway, and Pax starts screaming and crying again.  I get out and get the kids inside.  I bring in the groceries while Pax is still screaming in his carseat.  I go back out and clean up the mess on the back seat.  Pax is still freaking.  I go in to get him out and sneeze and pee all over myself.  TMI I know... gotta love what pregnancy does to your body.  So... I settle Abby and tote the screaming Pax in his carseat into my bathroom so I can take a quick shower.  After showering, I get dressed and finally get Pax out to nurse him, give him his medicine, and feed him his bananas and oatmeal.  Bryan gets home, and I hand him Pax.

I put Abby in the bathtub, wash her hair, and Bryan lets Lottie inside again.  I take Pax back from Bryan, and he takes over bath time duty with Abby.  I make a bath for Pax in the sink and get him clean and swaddled for bed.  Pax begins to cry again, and I nurse him until he falls asleep.  I lay him down in his bed, and go to get Abby out of the tub.  

Pax angry about his bath

Somehow, Abby got Lottie into the tub and now she's wet too.  I go to grab my camera to snap a photo, and Lottie leaps out of the tub and slides down the hallway soaking the floor.  Bryan and I rally our wet puppy up, and dry her off the best we can.  
Lottie right before she charged out of the bathroom

Next, we get Abby out, and I get her dressed, dry her hair, and give her the medicine she needs.  Bryan brings Peeperz inside again.  At this point, I hand off Abby to Bryan, and he reads her a night time story and gets her to bed.  Peeperz in tow, I go and finish putting up the groceries and put up Pax's baby tub.  I pick up the living room and Bryan and I get ready to go to bed and start everything over again the next day. 

So there you go... that's what a day in my shoes looks like... minus the web and graphic design stuff that I usually do too.

I want a shirt that says, "I'm a mom.  What are your super powers?"

I think it'd sell.

Seriously.  Jesus is what gets me through each and every day.  Being a mom has taught me how much I really need Him in every way.

Because I need new mercies for tomorrow, I'm going to bed.

Good night.

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