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A little over four weeks ago, I gave birth to our thirteenth child.

Whoa.  Did I really just type that?

As weird as it feels to type out that number, my life doesn’t really feel weird at all.  It “feels” awesome.  Like I’m in my dream and walking it out.

It also feels tough. Gut-level, heart-wrenching, and fear-fighting.  And this pregnancy and birth are no exception, though obviously, I should be a pro at this point! Right!!!?? As I’ve heard from many well-meaning people, “Oh, wow! I bet they just fall out by now, don’t they?” Grrrr.

So this thing about having babies.  It’s been a ride.  And to be truthful, if you knew me back in the day, you would know I couldn’t have cared less about a family gig.  I was the fiercely driven, insanely ambitious goal-making girl who planned on a life of traveling the world playing classical piano.  Or, maybe becoming a doctor.  Alone.

I tell you this background so you’ll know this wasn’t my great idea.  My amazing and beautiful crew came to me without my permission! And let me emphatically say, THANK YOU GOD. This was a God thing.  And I couldn’t be more grateful!!! 🙂

With the above information in mind, you’ll see what I’m saying when I lay out the way my pregnancies and births came to fruition.  All of the ambition and drive with which I attacked everything in my life “pre-family” turned into a blazing flame for the world-changing power of little humans whom I hoped with all my heart I could help love and nurture into phenomenal big people.  With God’s and my hubby’s help.

So, my attitude about these little ones getting here physically was extremely optimistic.  Which is the first thing of all first things I would love to throw out there for you as a female.  Yes, I’m talking about pregnancy and birth….but we are females.  We are nurturing, incubating, and emotional creatures.  We are the “wombed” man, as my hubby says.  We have never needed “liberating,” because we are the LIBERATORS – the ones who bring life to this planet.  No one gets here without us! WHOOHOO!

Hence, knowing the bigger picture (for me) has directly affected (again, in my opinion) how my physical body has followed through.  Meaning, I am “in my body” (we are a spirit, we have a soul and live in a body) and what “I” think and believe MOST DEFINITELY correlates with the way my physical body responds.

No, I’m not wanting to sound preachy, forgive me if I do, but to be fair about the topic at hand, I have to be honest. Building a human is not just a physical event.  It’s deeply spiritual and emotional and mental, among other things.

“So Jen, are you saying I can just pray a lot and talk a positive game and eat cheetos and  everything will be ok?” No.  I’m not saying that, haha! So let me set the record straight.  From the inside out…spirit, soul and body, here’s a basic protocol I strive to follow (it’s not perfect by any means) which touches on all those important areas.  Here we go!

Spiritual and emotional stuff….

  1.  WORDS.  I work really, REALLY hard at saying positive words. Truth be told, I talk to myself.  I tell my body “we can do this.”  I say how grateful I am for the new little one on the way. If people ask me about being pregnant (AGAIN, haha!) I will probably respond with something like, “I’m super thankful for this baby.” I might WANT to say I’m tired of having to pee 50 times per day but that’s NOT what I”m going to say. Know where I’m going with that? Yes, I may FEEL tired of that or any other number of complaints that are very real. But I know that how things feel physically will be improved by what I think, believe and say.  It doesn’t mean I’m not feeling tough things.  It just means I want to rise above them, and after all these years I know my words will help me find that place.
  2. MUSIC.  I listen to a lot of music. I take a shower each morning with my Pandora station playing in the background.  I use that time to sing and worship and get my brain and heart in sync to tackle the day.  I make that time a focal point to be thankful and grateful.  I also  am “practicing” being able to relax and focus ahead of time for the impending birth. The music is basically a “trigger” for my behavior.  One of my favorite soundtracks is from the movie “Spirit.” It’s a children’s movie but the music was written by Bryan Adams (my absolute FAVE!).  During Galilee’s birth I asked my oldest daughter to start playing this towards the really tough part.  When I heard that music, tears started rolling down my face.  It was an emotional step in my labor that was both relaxing and empowering.  Our little girl was born about an hour after that.  I know the music was significant.
  3. MEDITATION.  This relates directly to number 1. I have a little note card rolodex-type thing in which I write scriptures and meditations and sayings about birth, conquering things, overcoming pain, triumph, etc.  One of my favorites is “If I can grow this baby, I can push out this baby.” Also “Do not shrink back.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  “I am totally relaxed.”  You get the idea.  This takes a little work to write down and read through each day but it helps so much! I once heard a woman say  “Words are the way we program ourselves to believe.” In reminding myself of these statements over and over, I am working on training my mind much like an athlete or musician.  (And incidentally, no one thinks those people are weird to meditate on victory, to “see themselves” making baskets or if they talk to themselves about some intense upcoming contest…i.e., an Olympian or Pavarotti. So why is it weird to prepare for the marathon of birth?? No, it’s not! You don’t see these people on television saying “yea, well, I thought I’d never make it, and I think my defense is just awful, and I don’t every practice….blah, blah,  blah.”  NO. They don’t do that!)

There are other little things I could add here, like taking time to practice relaxing with something called hypnobirthing, along with being very diligent about what kind of entertainment I watch and listen to.  If something goes in my ears and eyes, it always has the potential to affect my emotional state and emotional health.

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Bringing a living soul into the world is an earth-shattering event and is worth all the time and attention you can give to it.  I can say that of all the quests I’ve been a part of in my lifetime (I’m 45), NOTHING has been as difficult, yet as deeply and intensely rewarding.

For my next blog I’ll cover the physical side of things, including midwifery care, physical movement, nutrition, supplements, essential oils, etc.  I hope and pray that something I’m sharing could help some momma (or supportive daddy) out there!

Please know this.  If you are building a little human, you are and will always be a rockstar! You’ve got this!!

Until next time,

Jen 🙂

There’s this thing about my mom life.  I was never meant to be one.  I mean, it wasn’t ever on my radar.  I had lots of pursuits going on and ran around like mad to pull them all off, but now, to be able to say I’m a momma of almost 13 precious people, well, it’s crazy.  Crazy awesome.  And I’m grateful.

Our family, bringing in our new son-in-love.

Fast forward. I’m 22 years in and just turned 45.  Whew! Now I’m a little bit crazier, along with my hubby: teaching our crew, running a little homestead, working our own business, doing God-Jesus-people stuff, making raw milk kefir, and using “all the oils.” Oh, and I’m a grandma now. Actually, “Bobba.” Love it!! 🙂

Our first sweet grandbaby.

With all that said, I have a heart to share. Sharing what’s happening with us and giving credit where it’s due (God) is top priority.  And to be more specific today, we’re talking winter warrior tips.  Just my two cents!

So the wellness thing is a BIG DEAL!!!!! EVERYONE I know is fighting something off, or they know someone who is.  We could get into all the “reasons” I *think* this is happening, when it’s happening, and how it’s happening, but I won’t.  I’m just going to focus on the “how to help it NOT happen, and what to do if it does! 🙂

Now again, keep in mind, #imjustamom and I’m not a doctor, etc. etc, etc.  But here’s some of my tried and true bullet points, and I pray they can help you and anyone you know!!!

  1.  Thieves.  Yes, all the Thieves (Young Living only!).  I’m an essential oil girl, now 8 years down the road, and I’d never go back.  You can see anything you’d like to on my website (MyYL.com/whole112) and I’ll refer to oils ALOT in this post.  And here’s why.  EO’s are no new thing.  They’re been around FOREVER, they’re all over the Bible, they’ve just been pushed to the back so we can buy and use things that make us feel “better” instantly, instead of really healing the root cause. So back to Thieves. It’s an all-around immune-boosting powerhouse.  I should use the line, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways!”  Gargle in warm water (1-2 drops), rub down your spine (with some coconut oil so it’s not too hot!) and rub on the bottom of your feet. LOTS. Many times every day.  Inhale a drop of two from your palms (don’t get in your eyes). Ingest in capsules, 4-5 times a day.  Put in a spoon of honey to calm down a upset throat.  Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse. Then of course you can spring for the mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and spray.  Literally, don’t leave home without it.  And my BIGGEST TIP ever: Mix a drop of Thieves with chapstick or Rose Ointment (YL) or even coconut oil in the palm of your hand.  Use a q-tip and put that mixture up inside your nose.  Sounds weird, I know. But it works!! EVERY TIME you go anywhere!!
  2. Breathing “Super Shot.”  Eucalyptus Globulus and Peppermint.  These two are my fave for respiratory support.  All over the chest throughout the day and before bed. Globules is one variety of Eucalyptus and my pick in this situation.  You can start to feel and smell it all the way to the back of your head!!! You can actually throw them in your nose swab mixture up above for the same exact effect! (By the way, the Rose Ointment or even Animal Scents Ointment are invaluable.  When you use EO’s, you apply them topically then “seal” them with one of these two salves.  Awesome.  No mineral oils or petroleum, just goodness.
  3. Detox bath.  What in the heck is that? Well, it’s a wellness idea I’ve used for many years, and it’s cheap and easy.  Pour 4 cups each of Epsom salt, baking soda and peroxide in a very warm tub.  If you want to add EO’s, add mild ones like Lavender, Cedarwood and Frankincense to the Epsom salt before dumping it in the water and they will incorporate in the bath without floating to the top.  Soak for a good 30-40 minutes.  After getting out, rub down head to toe with something like Frankincense or Cedarwood,  and drink tons of water.  That’s kind of a given for this topic, but especially after a detox bath. Why? Well, you’re mineralizing your body with the salt and soda (Epsom is magnesium sulfate and baking soda is sodium hydroxide, the peroxide helps purify your tap water).  Minerals help move the lymph and other toxins out faster, especially when you’re fighting something.  I use this down to my little ones and my whole crew knows the drill.  The lymph system is a VERY big deal, and most Americans don’t even know what it is.  But that is changing and wisdom from our grandparents is coming to the surface again (my grandma would have suggested an Epsom salt bath for several different reasons!). You can do this at least once per day.
  4. Bone broth.  Whoa, sounds REALLY weird! No, again, your Grandma is speaking here.  Just throw a whole, healthy chicken in a crockpot overnight and the next morning, you’ll have a nourishing mineral broth.  You can find tons of recipes on the net for specifics.  Why? Again, minerals. Minerals move stuff!Stuff that’s fermented.  Examples here are kefir (preferably from raw milk), sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, etc.  Fermentation helps heal the gut.  Check out Dr. Josh Axe or google this subject as well.  One of the biggest reasons our health can be compromised is because our gut is compromised first.  It’s our second brain and it steers our immune system.  Junky carbs, sugar and anything processed rips away at the lining of our gut.  Good fats and fermented foods soothe and heal and help restore this crucial system and help you prevent and fight off challenges when necessary.  Not to mention, digestion and elimination improves too, and that means guess what? Again, moving stuff!!! Yahoo:)Let me wrap up Part 1 by saying that there’s no perfect formula out there for staying well.  We do know that, of course, but it can be maddening at times trying to figure everything out.   I know as a mom that there’s an easy road to guilt at every turn and I’ve learned at this point in my life that this road is pretty fruitless.  I must take a step at a time, a baby step if necessary.  Pray, and go forward! Because things will happen. And we have to have some grit about us. Hence, my title mentioning “warrior.” In fact, we don’t even talk about sickness in our house. We might say we’re “pressing through” or “fighting something.” Weird? Well, our words our powerful.  And our bodies and our spirits pay attention to a fighting attitude.  There’s so much more to this journey than what we throw at our physical body.  If I move to heaven right now, my body won’t post this blog.  *I* will be in heaven living it up. So there’s so much more to mention that relates to our emotional and spiritual health.  We’ll go there in Part 2.

Sending prayers for health, healing and blessings,

Jen 🙂

 

 

 

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For the month of February I’m continuing the focus on love with husband and wife stuff . . .(#lovestuff)  Go here to read last week’s post about loving yourself:   When Your Wedding Gown and Teeny-Bopper Jeans Don’t Fit Anymore (The Struggle With Body Image and What To Do About It

My mom and dad just celebrated 47 years of marriage. 47 YEARS!!! WHOOHOO!! After visiting them the morning after their big day, I had a few moments of epiphany. . .

I’ve been married almost 22 years. Just a drop in the bucket, comparatively, but still. Something, for sure. As I drank my hot tea and watched my parents chatting together, I realized it really wasn’t a big deal. For me, maybe, but not for them. On their big day they had appointments in a nearby city, drove home promptly to check on the cows, and came home to a minimal dinner of apples and peanut butter. No, not a big deal at all.

So here, enter the following ‘light bulbs.’ If you’re just getting started on the marriage ride or if you’re standing in the middle of something messy, I hope these jewels will help your journey somehow. (Thanks, Mom and Dad. You never imagined I’d throw you in my blog for your anniversary, did you?) 🙂

Here we go:

  1. The big deal of an amazing, long-lasting marriage is more about macaroni and cheese than filet mignon. I think we tend to continually hope for perfection instead of just enjoying the ride. With a rock-solid covenant, riding the waves of ups and downs can become an adventure, just because. Because we’re together. Just us, far from perfect. The good, bad, ugly . . .all the ugly. Looking back, I know my parents endured more than they ever thought they could, but really. They made it look easy.
  2. All that glitters is not gold. The world is always throwing the next shiny something in our faces, whether it’s McDonald’s new sandwich or the latest fad from Gap. Let’s get real. Marriage isn’t about the latest tricks or treats and it’s definitely not what you see on a movie screen. When you have the real deal, you have to laugh at all the supposed glitz and glamour. Mom and Dad weren’t opting for a fancy hotel or shrimp for dinner, they just immensely enjoyed another day together (not that they don’t go there sometimes). Whew! The pressure is off.
  3. When you’re in for the long haul, you don’t remember the bad moments so much. Having a child’s selective memory, I only remember certain highs and lows of mom and dad’s journey, but looking at my own relationship, I’ve learned to shake off the “lows” and embrace them. There’s no “highs” without them!
  4. Every marriage and every family has their own ‘basket of troubles.’ We say it a lot, it’s cliche’, I know. But no one’s perfect. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. And that basket of troubles our marriages carry isn’t better or worse than the family across the street. Truly, our “basket” makes us better.
  5. The real honor of a long-lasting relationship is found in covering each other. Getting through each other’s mistakes involves having mercy and grace. Our spouses need us to be gentle and compassionate, with a knowledge that God knows our hearts. We truly can’t cast the first stone.
  6. They that fight hard should always make up hard. Our children have seen arguments. They’ve seen us mess it up. Though it used to make me horribly uncomfortable to know they observe us being big fat failures, I’ve gotten better at knowing it’s ok that we don’t fake perfection. If we mess up, we ‘fess up. Humility and asking forgiveness goes a very, very long way. And believe me, the kids have seen A LOT more indications of our makeup sessions than they have cared to!!!
  7. If both of you think you’re the luckiest person in the world, you’ll make it. Watching my mom and dad throughout the past forty years or so, I’ve gained much more than I can articulate. But this is probably one of their biggest secrets. . .They each think they’re the lucky one.

When I was younger, I liked to toss heavy questions around with my dad (and I still do). He’s not a big talker, so he can get straight to the point. Those conversations usually ended with a quip similar to my blog title.

And when dad wrapped up our deep problem-solving talks with this quote, he was right.

Because after 47 years, mom and dad probably look back over their shoulder, and they know.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Coming up next week: Children. . .it will be something about loving them, but not sure yet exactly what! Ha! Jen 🙂

When I was pregnant with our first son, about 20 years ago, my hubby gave me the sweet gift of a Y membership.  I was thrilled because a) I really wanted to MOVE and do something productive and b) the time that worked for us was right during the swim classes.  (If you didn’t know, being pregnant AND being in the water is an awesome thing: read…in the water equals no gravity, soooo, I felt amazingly light and non-beach ball-ish! Yahoo!)

I loved getting to participate in this swim class (well, it was a water-WALKING class, so I was definitely, uh-hum, the youngest one there). But no matter! I got my water fix and felt great and, unknowingly, was about to get the biggest lesson of my female life.

After class I began to meet some of the older ladies swimming with me.  They always commented on my pregnant belly and usually had sweet things to say from a “Grandma” point of view. I was such a new momma that I drank up the advice and all the “enjoy this, it will go fast” talks.

Two particular ladies stood out to me.  The first I’ll call “Helen.” She was stunning, really.  She was almost 80, looked about 50, and totally rocked a swimsuit. It was really inspiring to me to see how she took care of herself.  However, I also learned pretty quickly she wasn’t a “sunny side up” kind of girl.  I came to avoid her and knew ahead of time to prepare my heart to ignore her spouts of negativity. Interestingly enough, her peers avoided her, too.  I think most of these ladies knew they were in their sunset years and they didn’t have the time or energy to walk through life with a glass half full.

My other buddy filled the room with rainbows and sunshine. “June” exuded life. She constantly encouraged my journey as a young momma and blessed everyone in her path.  It was obvious that the rest of the girls were drawn to her and loved being around her.  Even though June lavished her love on others and constantly made an impact on them, she definitely walked around in a physical body that was a little worse for the wear.  She hadn’t spent her whole life working out and she had obviously placed other things higher on her priority list.  She definitely enjoyed the water workout but didn’t seem to place too much pressure on herself or anyone else to “look just right.” It was almost as if she knew her “tent” was carrying her on to her real home, and she planned on getting every last drop of use out of it until she left!

Of course, being in the middle of a pregnancy, it was easy for me to struggle with my body image.  Childbearing women (or not), raise your hand! It’s a beautiful time, almost otherworldly to feel a live human person inside your belly, but also a difficult shift in our perception of how we look.  Watching these two women gave me something so valuable that I really couldn’t place too much importance anymore (or at least try VERY hard not to) on my physical appearance.

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I have yet to meet any gal who doesn’t struggle with how she looks.  She may run a family, a corporation, and make apple pie with homemade crust, but ask her if she looks good….well, pretty much never will you get positive feedback for that question.  Why??? Of course, I’m not talking about ostentatious narcissism, just basic “okay, this body keeps me here and helps others get here, so I’m content with that” kind of outlook. Nope, it’s a vicious struggle and it’s across the board.

And what’s so funny is we’ll tell our best girlfriend how GREAT they look.  And we will complement someone’s cute hair, how their jeans fit, or how long their eyelashes are…but defend how WE look? No way!

Looking back, now in my 40’s, I am inching ever closer to the wisdom of my sweet June. The value of this earthly life is ever so much clearer.  I see more wrinkles, cellulite, and gray hair, yet I feel an easier transition to thankfulness above the struggle.  I do my best to move and eat well and feed my body, but after that, the real health and the real joy of my existence has to come from somewhere deeper, and I can sense that more keenly now than ever before.  I’m convinced of the real difference in health and “looks.” And I have to choose (constantly) that I will be more beautiful to others and (gasp) even myself  if I exude joy.  If I am loving.  Kind. Real.  Raw. Messy.  Just embracing this precious gift of life.

June never knew how much she impacted that brand-spankin’ new momma. Helen didn’t either, for that matter. My wedding dress is now boxed up for MY girls and those high school “girl” jeans have no place in my “grown-up woman’s” life.

And for now, I’m good with that.

Jen 🙂

 

 

 

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