My Overseas Birth Story Featured

Just after Isaiah was born!

My overseas birth story is featured over on Missionary Moms blog. She’s doing a series about people who have given birth while overseas – it’s really fun to read the different stories. I feel like I cheated – mine was so easy especially since English is an official language over here.

(One of 11 official languages! Actually I’ve heard rumors that at one of the hospitals in the same group as the one I went to, the nurses will only speak Zulu to you. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but my hospital was all in English.)

For some reason I didn’t include a pic when I sent my story over, so I put one up here. I was not one of those ladies who you say, “Oh she doesn’t even look like she just gave birth.”I look tired because I was! It was about 1 am when this pic was taken and my hair was in a rat’s nest. But I had the most beautiful little boy!

That was almost five months ago… here he is today – my little chunk of love!

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Things I’ve Learned So Far as a Parent: God’s Love

I think my favorite part of this series of posts is inserting a cute pic of my little one! I just can’t get enough of him!! I mean, I see him all day long but then at night I can very often be found perusing pictures of him in iphoto. What is wrong with me? Nothing. I’m a mother.

I think God looks down on us like this. He loves us so much, He can’t get enough of us. The Bible says in Zephaniah (3:17) that He takes great delight in us; rejoices over us with singing; He quiets us with His love. I love that God has given us the family to understand more of His love.

He loves us through all our spiritual growth and development. He lovingly calls to take steps out into the unknown while trusting Him – just like Jesus calling Peter to step out onto the water – and just like babies learning to walk. Have you ever noticed that babies walk better when they keep their eyes on mom and dad? When they look down, they fall.

He even uses the parent-child relationship to describe Jesus – His only son – so we could understand the intense sacrifice He gave for us. I’ve heard people say they understood more the depth of what God did for us by sending Jesus once they themselves had a son. It’s true. It’s unimaginable what God did for us so we could come back to relationship with Him. Thank you God!

What is God teaching you through parenthood or the children in your life?

I’m learning

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Many Uses for Aquaphor

At one of our well-baby visits, our doctor  casually mentioned that my little boy’s rosy cheeks had a touch of eczema on them. Since then, the eczema started spreading and I was searching online to find something to control this extremely dry skin. I found out that I could use Aquaphor Healing Ointment on it. I happened to have some, tried it and immediately saw a huge improvement!

Then I started thinking of all the uses for Aquaphor – I promise this is not a paid advertisement, I just really love this stuff! If you haven’t tried this stuff, it’s a water-based petroleum – think Vaseline without the stickiness. So incredible. Here are some of the uses we have for it:

1. Chapped lips soother

2. Controlling eczema on babies

3. Diaper rash

4. Dry nose –  you know, like when you have a serious cold and your nose is sensitive. Rub just a bit inside each nostril and squeeze your nose.

5. Dry anything on long-haul flights – airplane air really dries your skin. A tiny tube of this helps with those dry patches.

6. Protect scraps and small cuts

7. Neck rash on babies

8. Protect your face in extreme cold weather

9. Slide rings on or off swollen pregnant fingers

10. Any rash or irritated skin

I’m sure there are lots more! I really love all the uses I get for Aquaphor Healing Ointment except I don’t like that I run out too quickly. That’s a big problem since it’s not available to purchase here in South Africa so I have to import it myself from the States.

The new list of things to bring from the States that we can’t live without: Nestle chocolate chips, Tony’s cajun seasoning, and Aquaphor.

That’s what works for me!

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Recipe: Mini Pecan Pie Muffins

I found this recipe on a great blog called Bake@350. This woman does incredible things with icing and cookies – and tons of other great baking recipes – all with zero calories, of course. 🙂  She posted this recipe from a new book called Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms.

I love for it for two important reasons – I can easily get all the ingredients here in Africa AND there are only FIVE ingredients! Oh, and one more great reason to love them – they really do taste like pecan pies!! This really might become one of my “go-to” desserts.

One hint: be careful not to overbake – she mentions that in the recipe. I can really see how they could be ruined if they were overbaked! Enjoy!

Mini Pecan Pie Muffins
(recipe courtesy of Jane Doiron, Make-Ahead Meals)

1 c light brown sugar
1 c pecans, chopped
1/2 c flour
2/3 c butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten

Spray 20 mini muffin cups with nonstick spray; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups evenly.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. The edges will be crispy. Do not overbake. Remove the muffins and cool on a wire rack.

~Freeze~If you don’t eat them all!
When the muffins are completely cool, place them in a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months.

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Things I’ve Learned So Far as a Parent

So I have officially been a parent for 4 months! Crazy how fast it seems to be going! I thought I’d start a little blog series about what I’m learning along this journey.  For so long I’ve been working with children (and their parents) – 14 years professionally as a teacher and children’s pastor – but it’s totally different on this side. Back when I did my student teaching, my mentor teacher told me that she believed she became a better teacher after becoming a parent. I think she’s right. Not that people can’t be great teachers (and other things) without having children, I’m just learning that life with kids has a way of driving points home!

So my first lesson from parenthood is…

Phases are a natural part of life – just relax.

When Isaiah was itty-bitty he had terrible gas pains. We would have to hold him in the colic poses and walk him around until we finally heard him…um-hm…pass the gas. But that phase is gone and now he toots with the best of them!

We’re on to another phase…spitting up and drooling. I realize this won’t last long and just requires a bit more laundry than normal. And so what if I smell like milk for a few months from all the spit up – one day I’ll cuddle someone’s new baby and the spoiled milk smell will take me back. So I’m learning to relax and wait it out.

Life is just like that too. Whatever you are going through, just keep going – it will not last forever. My pastor says, “ You are either in transition, going into it or coming out of it.” Change is the only constant we have in life- changing seasons in nature and in our own life.  So enjoy the season while it’s here and make the most of it; it won’t be here for long.

And so what if it’s a little uncomfortable or inconvenient; I guarantee there are other people who have it worse than you. Living here in Africa has really changed my perspective. Whenever I find myself desiring items I think I need I just think about those who have even less than me. They are all around. We pass their little shanty homes on the way to the super mall in the suburbs. It’s surreal.

So I strive for contentment with little or with much. And pray that those who are struggling with little right now would find what they need- a job, food, health care – and I do what I can with the season I’m in cultivating contentment in my heart.

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Organizational Helps

I have a confession to make that won’t come as a shock to those close to me: I am not organized. It’s a fact that I accepted long ago but one that does not stop me from trying. My “Works for Me Wednesday” tips are some organization tools I’ve found recently that have been helping me organize my life a bit. While I’m not perfect in using them yet, I’m on my way.

Daily Docket from Simple Mom blog – This is a great blog packed full of helpful hints to simplify your life not just through organization but also to keep a simple first-things-first perspective on life.

InspiredtoAction.com – Another great blog that is full of inspiration and practical tips and forms to help moms get organized. I love her morning routine but I have to admit I’ve not started it yet – I’m inspired, now I just need the action!

Menu Planning Worksheet – Since the birth of our little boy, my husband has been doing the majority of the grocery shopping, so some good planning was needed. Here’s the Menu Planning Worksheet that I developed to help me think through meals. I specifically plan the dinner meals, but for breakfast and lunch I just list items that we like to eat for those meals and decide each day which ones to choose. For dessert, I usually make one or two a week.

Grocery Worksheet – Here’s the Grocery Worksheet I use to send my husband to the store. It’s divided into different segments that correspond to the areas of the grocery store we shop at most often.

So that’s what’s working for me with organization!

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Child (of God) Development

I’ve always been fascinated by children’s development – the timing and order skills are developed and how the skills they learn now will affect the rest of their life.  Now that I have my own, I am continually amazed how God created our bodies to develop. Things that baby’s instinctively do ultimately fulfill purposes in their development .

For instance, did you know that by sucking on a bottle or breast, babies are developing the muscles they will need later on for speech?  By bonding with their mothers (or primary caretaker) babies are learning to recognize strangers. By putting everything in their mouths, they are learning different textures and shapes, plus practicing the most important survival coordination skill – hand to mouth. How else are they going to learn to eat?

I started out my career with children by teaching special needs children – hearing impaired and multi-handicapped. I saw firsthand how skipping any of these developmental milestones can have devastating effects on a child. One child I taught was so sick his first year of life that he had to be fed through a tube. He had recovered, but was delayed developmentally because he missed sucking on a bottle, putting everything in his mouth and so many other things. He had the capacity to eat normally, but lunchtime was a nightmare because he hated it so much.

Right now, Isaiah is almost 4 months – 16 weeks –he’ll be 4 months this Friday.  And I’m having so much fun watching his development.  He gave me the biggest belly laugh last Tuesday, he’s smiling and cooing, grabbing at things and holding them. And attempting to sit up – with lots of help from mom and dad.

I think the same principles in child development can be applied to our spiritual development – child of God development. The things that we are going through right now might not seem to matter much, but navigating successfully through those trials and tribulations is going to help us in the future. Learning to trust God when things are not so bad can really pay off when we have to trust Him when things really are rough. I can remember being fearful at home in Memphis when Greg was away and God speaking to me – “How are you going to trust me when the danger is real when you can’t trust me when danger is not imminent?” It was a milestone of development for me.

There are many more – small things that don’t seem to really make much of an impact – but in fact they are milestones in our spiritual development. If we don’t learn them, we will not develop into the person God intends for us to be! I want to meet all my spiritual development milestones that God has for me.  Just like I play with Isaiah to stimulate his growth, God has opportunities all around me for growth. Opportunities to use patience, kindness, self-control…you get the idea! And for me, most of them are just around the house.

Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2-4

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