Author: Jacquelyn

I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian with a passion for Christ and His Gospel. Also web developer, aspiring author, artist, frequent blogger, loving wife, and new mother to an adorable little boy.
His Encouragement: Isaiah 48:17

His Encouragement: Isaiah 48:17

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible passage and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Encouragement

“This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is good for you
    and leads you along the paths you should follow.

Isaiah 48:17, NLT

When you don’t know what to do or where to go, trust in the Lord to guide you. He knows what is best for us and will lead, if we ask Him to.

About five years ago, I wrote all about growing your faith while waiting on God. Wait on the Lord. Waiting is one of life’s most difficult challenges.

Perhaps you are waiting on the Lord to work in our life right now. It could be guidance with which college to attend, what degree to pursue, what career to enter, where to re-locate, or what man or woman to marry. It could be help with broken relationships, financial issues, or devastating health problems.

During the waiting time, we may struggle with a wide range of high and low feelings; confidence in the Lord and then discouragement when He seems to be quiet.

So what do we do? Do we give up? Give in? God forbid!

Waiting is never easy, but there is always a reason. Even though we cannot see it while we are in the present, the Lord knows exactly what we need and when. If we look back over those times in our lives where we thought the Lord was not answering our prayers — when the waiting seemed to be unbearable — we are able to see the Lord’s hand guiding us through. That alone should give us courage to push onward and endure any future that awaits.

In the here and now, though, we need to trust that the Lord, “who teaches you what is good for you”, will “lead you along the paths you should follow.”

Isaiah 48:17 overlaid on a forest.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

His Encouragement: 2 Thessalonians 3:16

His Encouragement: 2 Thessalonians 3:16

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible passage and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Encouragement

“Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:16, KJV

It is hard when you cry out to the Lord and it seems as if — at least for the moment — the Lord is slow in answering your plea. It can be discouraging and confusing, especially if you are in the midst of a turbulent trial.

Earlier this week, we received the official confirmation regarding my mom’s health crisis. It is, indeed, advanced Stage IV Breast Cancer that has metastasized to bones in her spine. The doctors were grim, implying without actually saying it, that really all they can do at this late stage is to make Mom as “comfortable” as possible.

My mom just turned 57 in March. Six months ago, she was living a vibrant, active life. She loves to go hiking with my dad, and not short little things but long hikes along the various desert trails within an hour’s drive of the Phoenix metropolitan area. She is also healthy and has been living a well-balanced plant-based diet since 2010. Two years ago, she completed certification to be a wellness coach and a very prestigious plant-based cooking course.

She is a godly woman and very active in her church: director of the Pathfinders Club, juniors Sabbath School teacher, playing the flute for a small ensemble, and singing in the choir. Over the years, she has given one-on-one Bible studies and she has lead out in powerful prayer sessions. She and my dad together are the spiritual rock of our family.

There is no history of cancer of any kind in our family. Heart problems… sure. Dementia… Yeah. Cancer? Nope. Not a trace. The last three weeks since Mom’s visit to the ER has been a whirlwind. We have prayed like we have never prayed before, and we trust the Lord completely.

But there is still the heart-wrenching question: “Why, God? Why?”

Sometimes we might find ourselves asking the same question the disciples asked Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Only, in our case, it goes more like: “Lord, who sinned that s/he has developed cancer?”

And I imagine the Lord Jesus looking at us with sad eyes and saying: “No one specifically sinned. Cancer is a symptom of a world contaminated with sin. This is not how it was intended to be.”

It is not fair. Cancer is never fair. It is not fair that a friend’s precious six-year-old is battling an aggressive form of a rare cancer. It is not fair that another friend’s dad has stage III cancer. It is not fair that my husband lost a childhood friend to this horrid disease in their mid-twenties. There is hardly a person today who has not known someone or knows someone who knows someone who has been touched by it.

If you are struggling with a devastating diagnosis, of yourself or a loved one, I know what it is like to cry your heart out to the Lord and feel that He is not answering or, even worse, His answer is “No, my precious one.”

We cannot see with the eyes of God. We do not know the end from the beginning. He is more than able to heal, but perhaps there is something much greater than us going on. A bigger picture that only God can see.

And it hurts. Yes. It is tears your heart up into pieces. You may say: “Lord, I just don’t understand.” And there will be things this side of heaven we will not understand.

But know that in the midst of your storm — even if the answer to your prayers is the dreaded “no” — the Lord offers a peace. This peace does not mean it does not hurt. This peace does not mean you won’t cry and grieve. This peace means that even so, Lord Jesus, I trust in You.

Beloved, may you have this peace. The Lord be with you.

May the Lord give you peace at all times and in all ways. 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

Survival Guide for Parents with a New Baby

Survival Guide for Parents with a New Baby

You just had a baby or adopted a newborn. Congratulations! This is a momentous occasion and a life-changing event. You may have anticipated the bonding experiences with your baby, those quiet moments of cuddling and cooing, singing and playing. The first time he or she smiles or laughs will warm your heart.

All babies are unique. Some are mellow little cherubs content to eat, sleep, and snuggle with very little fussing. Others may be more of a handful, perhaps due to a more sensitive nature or physical challenges like reflux. Still others can make the first month or so a nightmare, with unconsolable crying for hours on end, barely sleeping for longer than 45 minutes, or being awake for hours during the night.

The first two months, though filled with lovely and wonderful moments, can also be quite difficult for parents. Here is my practical guide for surviving these tough times. If you are new to motherhood or fatherhood, this survival guide will help! (Dads, there is a special note at the bottom just for you.)

1. Sleep!

I know, I know. Everyone tells you about the importance of sleep and to “sleep when baby sleeps”. You are probably thinking right now: “Sure, it is easy to say but I can’t sleep when baby sleeps or nothing would get done.”

Perhaps baby is nursing every hour or you have to pump on a rigid schedule. Maybe just when you close your eyes to rest, the baby starts fussing or your older children demand attention. Maybe baby has finally fallen asleep but it is almost time for dinner and all of your dishes are dirty in the sink. I know how you feel. I have been there. 

But let me also remind you of something you already know: sleep is vital to our physical and mental health. Two to three hours a night, broken up into ten minutes here and twenty minutes there, is not sufficient sleep. The days and weeks after childbirth are already challenging, but if you do not get enough rest, you may unintentionally contribute to postpartum depression.

I was there. I experienced this with my second child. We had an extremely fussy/needy newborn and an 18-month-old who was teething at the same time.

The sleep deprivation contributed to my own postpartum depression, which did not resolve itself until about five and a half weeks postpartum when baby was finally sleeping for two to four hours stretches so I could sleep, too. I was too prideful to admit that I had a sleep problem. I was determined to fix it on my own, but I needed to ask for help. My husband was a lifesaver. He would watch the kids while I napped or drop the toddler off at his parents for the afternoon.

To be able to function, you need to consistently get 5 or more hours of sleep within a twenty-four hour period of time. Have your spouse watch the baby while you take a nap. Ask family to come over to watch the baby. Do what you have to do to get some sleep.

2. Eat healthy and eat often.

With the craziness that a newborn brings, you might find yourself skipping a meal here and there or grabbing a less-than-nutritious snack instead. If it only happens on a rare occasion, you are probably fine, but this can cause problems if it becomes a common occurrence.

You just had a baby so your body is in recovery and you may be breastfeeding as well. Your body needs proper nutrition to fuel recovery and to make the milk your baby needs. If you skip too many meals, your daily caloric intake may drop too low too fast. This can negatively impact your milk production and might even contribute to health problems for you.

Make sure you eat well-balanced meals throughout the day.

You may find that you need to eat a little less but more frequently (like when you were pregnant). Even if you do not feel hungry, eat something healthy. (Oats are good for you and aid in milk production!) Or maybe you have discovered that you have a ravenous appetite and you are afraid you will either gain more weight or not lose the baby weight so you are trying to put yourself on a diet.

Firstly, it is too soon to go on a diet. Your body is already going through so many changes right now, don’t make it have to work even harder. Secondly, if you are breastfeeding, some women find that they have to have a little extra weight to maintain a healthy milk supply. (I am one of them.) Thirdly, it took nine months to gain the weight, allow yourself at least a year to lose it.

If you eat healthy, snack healthy, and do moderate exercise on a daily basis, you will gradually slim down.

3. Shower at least every other day, but everyday if possible.

You may find yourself hyper-focused on caring for the new baby’s needs that you neglect your own most basic needs. Showering not only keeps you clean, but it can help you relax and deal with stress. Find the time to take a shower.

Whether it is in the early morning before the baby wakes up, mid-morning when your mom or sister or best friend comes over to watch the baby, the middle of the afternoon when baby is napping, after your husband comes home from work in the evening, or late at night right before bed. The when does not matter. Just do it. You will be glad you did!

Perhaps you are alone. Maybe you are a single parent, your spouse works long hours or is away from home for days at a time, or you have no family nearby to help. Maybe baby is crying hysterically even though s/he has been fed, burped, and changed.

My advice is to put baby down in a safe place (crib, bassinet, rock ‘n play, etc.) and take a quick five or ten minute shower. Hard though it may be to listen to, it is okay for a baby to cry a little. It is better for baby to cry in a safe place for five to ten minutes while you take a much needed emotional break then for you to become overwhelmed and, perhaps, lose your temper.

4. Understand that some housework won’t get done for awhile.

Dishes may pile up in the sink, toilets may not get cleaned for a week or two, vacuuming may go undone, clothes might pile up in the basket. And it is okay!

If you gave birth, remember that you just gave birth to a human being! Not only do you now have this precious little bundle to care for, but you are also physically recovering from a very physically demanding and sometimes traumatizing event. In the immediate days and weeks after childbirth, your body will be flooded with various hormones as your body shifts from pregnancy-mode to post-pregnancy-mode.

You will be bonding with your newborn, experiencing your milk coming in, figuring out breastfeeding via nursing or pumping, possibly figuring out bottle-feeding, barely sleeping, and so much more. Your body is going through many changes (not all visible) and this can wreck havoc on your emotions.

If you have adopted a baby, you now have this precious little bundle to care for and many of the baby-related things I mention above also apply to you! Bonding with your newborn, figuring out feeding, barely sleeping, emotional rollercoasters, etc. It is okay if the house is not spotless.

5. Ask for help!

Bottom line, Mamas, you have a lot to cope with in the first two months. And if you have older children, it will be that much harder as you navigate caring for your baby and your old children, too. So give yourself grace. Focus on what is most important: your child(ren) are fed, clean, and loved and you also are fed, clean, and rested.

If the mess really bothers you and causes stress or anxiety or you cannot get enough sleep or you need a break, ask for help. From your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your neighbors. Do not allow your pride to cause you to suffer in silence. It is not good for you, not good for baby, and not good for your family.

Be specific in what you ask for: please watch the baby while I do dishes, can you make us a meal, would you be able to clean the bathrooms, can you babysit the older child(ren) for two hours, etc.

 

Remember, you are amazing! You gave birth or adopted this precious little one. The first two months can be heavenly if you have a more mellow child, very challenging if you have a fussy newborn, or anywhere in between.

Sometimes your newborn maybe quite contented and then, suddenly, s/he cries hysterically. Go through the checklist first: fed, burped, changed, held; and repeat if necessary. Most babies cry for a reason, but it might be hard to pinpoint the exact reason in the heat of the moment. It is okay to feel confused and overwhelmed.

You may or may not know that many babies become more fussy during growth spurts (physical and developmental). After all, baby’s main job during his or her first year is to grow, grow, grow! These growth spurts tend to happen between Weeks 1-3, Weeks 6-8, three months, six months, and nine months. (But all babies are different so yours might hit a growth spurt sooner or later.)

If you are still not sure what is going on with your baby or concerned about a symptom (perhaps excessive spit up, unconsolable crying for hours every day), ask your pediatrician.

As my mom always said, “Motherhood is hard enough on its own, don’t make it even harder on yourself.”

Some women experience a beautiful, storybook newborn stage, and that is wonderful. However, many of us will face challenges, often outside our control, and we have to navigate those challenges carefully.

Do not expect every newborn to be the same. Just because your first was an angel who slept through the night within a week and hardly ever cried, does not mean your second will be the same, and vice versa. Do not compare yourself with other moms or your baby with other babies. Take advice — from people, books, and the internet — with a grain of salt. Do what feels right to you, but always keep your baby’s health in mind.

And, above all, remember that God chose you to be this precious child’s mother. Trust your instincts. If something feels off with you or the baby, get help. You do not have to be superwoman. You do not have to do this alone.

And if you need help, do not think any less of yourself or think you are a failure if you cannot do things perfectly. The fact that you recognized your need and sought the right solution (whatever it may be) means that you are absolutely amazing.

Yes, you are AMAZING.

 

Side note to fathers:

Dads, your wife just had a baby. Were you present during her labor and delivery? If so then you realize just how physically demanding giving birth is, and the recovery time can be weeks or even months, depending on her unique situation. If not, just take my word for it.

If you are the kind of guy who normally helps out around the house, then you are already ahead of the game. I want to thank you on your wife’s behalf for being awesome. Keep doing what you are doing and know that you might have to do a little extra for awhile until your wife is feeling better.

If you are not used to helping and have always relied on your wife to maintain the house, then we need to have a little chat. Your wife just had a baby. (I know I already said that, but it needs to be said again.) Her body is recovering. She will be uncomfortable, exhausted, and might even experience pain. She might have difficulty doing things she normally can do. Her emotions might be on a rollercoaster of highs and lows, she is also severely sleep deprived, and if you have older children, she will probably be even more exhausted.

Now is the time for you to step up and be her hero.

Make a meal (it does not have to be fancy), tidy up the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, watch the crying baby for an hour or two while your wife naps, anything that you can do, now is the time to do it. Sure, you may have no clue what you are doing but you are smart, you can figure it out. And don’t do it for the recognition, do it because you love your wife and you want to help her recovery.

 

To recap: sleep, eat healthy, shower, don’t fret over housework, and ask for help when you need it. This is my survival guide for parents with a new baby. If you are a mom or dad, what tips helped you survive the first two months? Share your experiences in the comments below!

His Encouragement: Psalm 46:1

His Encouragement: Psalm 46:1

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible passage and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Encouragement

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.” — Psalm 46:1, ESV

Have you ever had those weeks where it seems everything happens all at once? Have you received bad news? Are you overwhelmed? No matter what you are facing right now, whatever your struggles are, remember two things:

  1. It is okay to cry. Even just a casual reading through the Psalms show that crying is a way our hearts and minds help process difficulties. In Psalm 639:3, David wrote: “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.”
  2. Turn to God for help. But in our sorrow, confusion, depression, pain, etc. we should to be crying out to the Lord. Psalm 46:1, today’s verse of encouragement, says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Throughout the Scriptures, we are encouraged to turn to the Lord in our times of need, and with His strength and might, we can do anything! (Philippians 4:13, Mark 10:27)

I have learned in my own experiences that the more I fixate on the problem, the more anxiety I feel until I become overwhelmed. However, if I “let go and let God” take over, everything falls into place. Perhaps not as quickly as I would like, perhaps not even in the way I would like, but the Lord always knows best. So even during my most difficult times, I am learning to trust in Him and His plan. And when I am not sure what His plan is, I praise the Lord for the blessings He provides in the midst of the storm.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

10 Favorite Baby and Toddler Products from Amazon

10 Favorite Baby and Toddler Products from Amazon

Disclosure: The links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases. Learn more. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

Our oldest son is just a few months shy of his second birthday and our youngest is now three months. Where does the time go? When you are in the midst of the newborn stage, it may seem like the days last forever, but once you reach the toddler age, it seems as if time is flying by. Peanut, our oldest, is now forming very basic sentences, holding conversations, able to answer questions, and follow simple instructions. Pickle, our youngest, is starting to smile, coo, and try to grab ahold of things like his blanket or bottle.

Over the last two years, we have made quite a few purchases specifically for our children that we absolutely love. To find quality products at affordable prices, we often turn to Amazon. We like that delivery is timely, and we have not had any items arrive damaged. When you are a parent with toddlers and/or babies, ordering from Amazon is often easier and more cost effective than trying pack up the kids to drive to brick-and-mortar stores.

So if you have little ones of your own or looking for gift ideas, I want to share with you ten of our favorite baby and toddler products that we either purchased from or are now available on Amazon.

Boppy Nursing Pillow
We added the Boppy Nursing Pillow to our baby registry at the recommendation of a friend who loved hers. Ours has been used for many, many things but, unfortunately, rarely breastfeeding! (Read Our Breastfeeding Journey and Breastfeeding Challenges, Round 2.) I must say that the boppy pillow was an arm saver during our second son’s extremely fussy newborn stage. I spread a large receiving blanket over the pillow and was able to lay him down on the pillow next to me when my arms got tired. I am so glad that we had this pillow!

 

SwaddleMe Slumber Buddies, Elephant Soother and Sound Machine
When it comes to a soother and sound machine, there are so many choices out there. We saw this adorable elephant soother that plays three different lullabies, the sound of running water, and a heartbeat in addition to projecting the stars and the moon on the ceiling. We have used the music/sounds with both boys to help them fall asleep, and now our oldest also loves staring up at the stars projected on the ceiling.

 

BabyBjorn
If you are looking for a baby carrier, I tried four different carriers and wraps with our first son before settling on the BabyBjorn Carrier Original. We live in the Arizona desert, and in the summer temperatures often reach 110-115 degrees for days (even weeks) at a time. Wraps with tons and tons of fabric was miserably hot for me and our baby. I came close to overheating once! The BabyBjorn also provides a sense of safety and security that the I did not have with the wraps. As for carriers, it is one of the more affordable, especially if you wait for a deal online or find one in good condition at a local secondhand store.

 

Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker
My parents actually purchased this for us, and we are so grateful! This chair was helpful with our first son and a lifesaver with our second! It rocks or locks in a reclined position, and has a nice vibration that helps lulls fussy babies to sleep. Even our toddler likes to climb into it (as long as his baby brother is not already there). I highly recommend the Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker, and it comes in multiple color choices and fabric patterns.

Mom’s Choice: If I had to narrow down my recommendation to just one item, it would be this vibrating rocker. It was tremendously helpful for both of our sons during their infant stage. It is also lightweight and relatively small. We have taken it with us many times while visiting family, especially if we plan to stay all day.

 

Baby Adjustable Head Shoulder Safety Pad
When our oldest started standing, we gave him the nickname “Mr. Wobbles” because he was so unsteady and often fell. After a few hard bonks on the head, we knew we had to find something! We searched and eventually decided to give this adorable head and shoulder pad a try. It worked like a charm! Our son continued to tumble while learning to stand and then walk, but this pad saved his little noggin!

 

 

Tommee Tipee Bibs
We tried many, many different types of bibs, but on the recommendation of our cousins, we gave Tommee Tippee waterproof silicone bibs a try. I absolutely love them! We ended up getting four so both set of grandparents could keep one at their respective houses and we have two at home. These bibs are waterproof, which makes them super easy to clean, and the large scoop shape at the end of the bib catches food and beverages. No kid is ever going to be super clean (Where is the fun in that?) but this does help contain the mess and makes clean up a breeze. Bonus: you don’t have to throw these bibs in the laundry!

Dad’s Choice: My husband absolutely loves the Tommee Tippee waterproof silicone bibs and highly recommends them. He does the laundry in our household and is also a stay-at-home dad, so he understands the value in a fast and easy clean up after meal time! I cannot believe we went 17 months without these amazing bibs.

 

NorthStates SuperYard
If you need some way to contain your crawling baby or walking toddler, I highly recommend NorthStates SuperYard. We initial bought ours after brainstorming what we might need when we were taking our oldest camping for the first time. You can use it indoors or outside! We even put our SuperYard with gate to good use dividing our living room area from the kitchen/dining room areas in order to allow our children a dog-free zone to play. (And to provide our poor old dog some much needed relief from the kids!)

 

 

Eric Carle Bear Backpack, Children’s Safety Harness
I am going to be honest. When my husband first suggested getting our oldest one of those backpacks with a leash, I bulked at the idea. But after our son slipped from my grasp twice and immediately ran towards the neighbor’s driveway and the street, I knew we needed someway to help him learn to “stay with Mama” or “stay with Dada” that would not put his life in danger. Especially when the new baby arrived! So we purchased this adorable backpack. We have used it a dozen times so far, and usually in places where we wanted to allow him the freedom to walk on his own but needed to ensure he stayed close to us for his own safety.

 

Dreambaby Blind Cord Wind Ups
The house we are renting uses old plastic blinds with long cords. Two blinds in particular — one in our boys’ room and one in the living room — pose potential safety risks as our oldest can now reach the dangling cords when standing on his bed or the couch. We knew we needed to get those cords up and out of his reach. Not sure what would work, we gave the Dreambaby Blind Cord Wind Ups a try. Because our cords are extra long, we have to use two of the wind ups per window, but it secures the cords high out of our son’s reach. We just have to remember to pull above the wind ups if we need to lift/open the blinds. Still, for a very affordable price, this safety tool is very useful.

Dream On Me Deluxe Toddler Day Bed
We knew we needed to transition our oldest son to his own big boy bed before the baby arrived, so we searched and searched for the perfect toddler bed at nice price. Eventually, we discovered the Dream On Me Deluxe Toddler Day Bed. Not only is it a good size that he can grow into, but it has a divided drawer underneath. In a house that has very limited storage, the drawer was a nice bonus. Peanut loves his bed, especially climbing in and out of it.

What is or was your favorite(s) baby or toddler purchase? Share in the comments!

His Encouragement: Psalm 30:4-5

His Encouragement: Psalm 30:4-5

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Encouragement

“Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” — Psalm 30:4-5, ESV

Have you ever had a week in which your entire world was turned upside down? Where the events of your days feel surreal, like a nightmare that you just want to wake up from? That is what my family is experiencing right now. Just this last Saturday, my mom was diagnosed with metastatic disease of the spine. It is most likely Stage IV Breast Cancer with metastasis to the spine, though we would need more thorough tests to confirm. It provided answers to some of the questions that we had, especially after my mom injured her back in December and the pain kept getting worse instead of better, but it was definitely not the answer we were praying for.

It is times like this that our trust in God is tested. We may not be able to understand the why, but we know our God is greater than cancer. He is the great Physician, the Almighty Creator. He is ABLE to heal! More than able. And that is our earnest prayer.

But sometimes in His wisdom and mercy the answer is “no”. So (like the three Hebrews said before Nebuchadnezzar) if not, we continue to trust Him and take solace in the blessed hope of Christ’s return. I chose today’s verse for my own broken heart. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I have done a lot of crying the last few days, but I know that no matter what happens, we WILL be rejoicing. “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.”

My family is doing all we can to raise the funds to provide my mom with an alternative, more holistic treatment option. You can learn more at Help Lynne fight cancer. We are asking all our family, friends, and connections to join us April 25-29 in giving just $10 one time to help us reach the goal we need so she can start the treatment.

Most importantly, we are asking for prayers. Prayers for healing. Prayers for pain management. Prayers for sleep. Prayers for comfort.

It is times like these that our faith is tested, because we often cannot see the why. However, no matter the outcome, we have to decided to trust in the Lord. We do not grieve as the world grieves, because we believe that Jesus died and rose again, conquering death and the grave, and He will return victorious. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) And that there will be a future with no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain. (Revelation 21:4) So if you, too, are processing world-shattering news, there is hope, a blessed hope. Cling to it, cling to the Lord, and He will help you overcome.

My mom, my sisters, my niece, and me at Thanksgiving last year.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

3 ways to make special songs for your children

3 ways to make special songs for your children

Some of my fondest childhood memories include music. My mom almost always had music of some kind playing, especially in the car. As I grew up, I would remember bits and pieces of the songs. Songs like Baby belugaThe ants go marching one by one, an early Sesame Street audio tape with songs like Rubber Ducky and Low, Medium, High, and (my personal favorites) Psalty: Kids Praise 1-6. Sometimes there would be classical music or Maranantha Singers albums playing, too.

Now with two little ones of my own, I want to fill our house with music. Pandora has made it much easier to find the good old classic songs and new songs that fit our musical tastes. We created a “toddler” station and have customized it to play the songs we like. We have also created a separate “Sabbath School” station with children’s praise songs to listen to on Friday nights and Sabbath afternoons.

However, what is even more fun is creating your own, specialized songs just for your children. You do not have to be extremely musical to do this. I began making our own special songs when Peanut was just a few days old! Tired of singing the same children’s songs over and over and over to your young children? Maybe you need to change it up a bit! Here are three ways I make special songs for our children, and you can too!

1. Personalize a song you already sing.

This is one of the simplest methods for turning a song you already sing to your child into a special song. Find little ways to personalize the words. This could be adding your child’s name. For example, the little diddy Patty Cake (or Pat-a-cake) can be personalized by switching out the letter “b” for the first letter in your child’s name and word “baby” with your child’s name.

Patty cake, patty cake, Baker’s man
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it. Pat it. Mark it with a “B“.
Put it in the oven for Baby and me!

2. Add more verses to a known song.

You can take it one step further and add a new verse or two to a song you sing regularly. When our son reached the age of fussing and wriggling during diaper changes, I began singing The wheels on the bus song because it could be as long or as short as I needed to keep his attention while I changed the messy diaper. He also loved making the various bus sounds. As the weeks turned into months, I began adding personalized verses with my son’s name, mama and dada and, now that he has a younger brother, baby, too!

The child’s name on the bus says:
Hip-hip hooray!
Hip-hip hooray!
Hip-hip hooray!
The child’s name on the bus says:
Hip-hip hooray!
All through the town.

The dada on the bus says:
Sit on down!
Sit on down!
Sit on down!
The dada on the bus says:
Sit on down!
All through the town.

The baby on the bus says:
Waa! Waa! Waa!
Waa! Waa! Waa!
The baby on the bus says:
Waa! Waa! Waa!
All through the town.

The mama on the bus says:
I love you!
I love you!
I love you!
The mama on the bus says:
I love you!
And dada loves you, too!

3. Put new words to a familiar tune.

If you are very bold (or perhaps tired of singing the same songs over and over for years), you can create your own special song using a familiar tune. As parents who sing a lot to your kids, you might have noticed that Alphabet Song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Baa Baa Black Sheep all use the same exact tune. Guess what? You can use it, too! You just need to make sure that the syllables in your words match up with the notes close enough for the song to flow.

There is a common nighttime prayer that has many different variations. When our first son was born, we received an adorable little praying teddy bear that recites a version that goes:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray my soul the Lord to keep
Your love be with me through the night
And wake me with the morning light.

The cadence matches the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star perfectly. It just needed two more lines, which I actually wrote before I had the idea to put the prayer to music. I created these additional lines late at night when trying to lull our firstborn to sleep during his first bout of teething. It is kind of an exhausted mother (or father)’s mini-prayer!

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray my soul the Lord to keep
Your love be with me through the night
And wake me with the morning light.
May I sleep the whole night through
And Mama and Dada sleep well, too.

Then, late at night while trying to soothe our son to sleep and after exhausting all of the other songs, I would sing the nighttime prayer to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle. Here is a recording:

 

Another familiar tune that makes a great melody to personalized songs is Jesus Loves Me. I sometimes sing the above nighttime prayer song to this tune as well!

 

One of our son’s favorite songs is what I call “Little Dino-saurus”. It is a fun action song that uses dinosaur imagery, because what little kid is not fascinated by dinosaurs? Best of all, it is sung to a modified version of “Little Bunny Foo Foo” (sometimes known as “Little Rabbit Foo Foo”).

Little Dino-saurus (lyrics)
Written by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Little dino-saurus
Running through the forest.
Rawr! Rawr! Dino-sawr!
Chasing you and me!

Run, run, run, run
Run from dino-saurus!
Run, run, run, run
Run from dino-saurus!

Little dino-saurus
Running through the forest.
Rawr! Rawr! Dino-sawr!
Chasing you and me!

You can easily customize the song by changing the “dino” to part of your child’s name. For example, a Benjamin could be “benji-saurus” or a Zachary could be “zack-a-sarus” or a Molly could be “molly-saurus” or a Sara could be a “sara-saurus”. It is actually quite fun! Here is a recording I made with two examples.

 

The best thing with these three simple ways of making special song(s) for your children is that you do not need to be overly musical to do so. It just takes time, creativity, and a bit of basic rhyming. You can play around with the words and rhymes each time you sing the song until it sounds right to you. I have spent the last twenty months perfecting the examples I shared above as well as a few other songs. Children love to hear their names in songs and as they get older, they will sing with you!

Have you personalized a song or created a new song for your children? Share in the comments!

His Encouragement: Psalm 27:14

His Encouragement: Psalm 27:14

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

Wait on the LordBe of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” — Psalm 27:14, NKJV

Waiting is hard!

Waiting is one of life’s most difficult challenges. Impatience is a common thread in the history of humanity, and in today’s fast-paced society addicted to instant gratification, waiting even just a little bit has become agonizing. Remember back in the 1990s when you had to wait for the Internet connection to dial up or for websites to take 3-ish minutes to load? Now we grow impatient if a website takes more than 30 seconds to load!

We often grow tired of waiting. It is much easier to either give up whatever it was we were waiting for or try to get the result we wanted ourselves. Then what happens when we have to wait an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or more for something?

Unfortunately, the expectation of instant gratification can weasel its way into our spiritual life as well. Impatience in spiritual matters can pose a threat to our faith and our trust in the Lord. The longer we wait, the greater the opportunity for our courage and conviction to waver. The human heart, after all, is a frail thing. Yet, throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded: “Wait on the Lord.”

But have you ever had to wait? Are you waiting now? Perhaps you are currently waiting for an answer to a fervent prayer regarding a big decision for your life and your family. Maybe you or a loved one are facing a health crisis and it seems your prayers for healing are going unnoticed. It could be that you are feeling alone, unheard, abandoned. Don’t be discouraged! Let’s read the second half of Psalm 27:14 together: “And He [the Lord] shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Even when it seems God is silent, He is never far away from us and He knows better than we do. We need to trust in Him and He will give us the strength to pull through the dreadful period of waiting. The answers will come, but in His time. Not ours.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

His Encouragement: Jeremiah 31:25

His Encouragement: Jeremiah 31:25

A cheery and warm welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible verse and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. We also welcome you to join the conversation by commenting with your thoughts. God bless!

Today’s Thursday Encouragement

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” — Jeremiah 31:25, ESV

I was exhausted. Our second child is now nine weeks old, but the first five weeks were challenging beyond my expectations. He was a fussy newborn, at times unconsolable, and he had his days and nights all mixed up. On top of that, a short time after he was born, his big brother began getting his molars. For almost a month, if one was not crying at night, the other one was. I had never been so sleep deprived. I barely was able to get 2-3 hours of sleep a night, and even that was interrupted sleep! (Five minutes here, ten minutes there, etc.)

My mom can relate. In December, she injured her back badly, and while on a walk around her neighborhood in January, she was bitten by a dog on her leg. Trying to relieve one injury and ease aching muscles caused the back pain to worsen. Since then, she has been in severe pain every day. Often unable to sit or lay down, she, too, gets less than three hours of sleep most nights.

Anyone who has experienced severe sleep deprivation over days and weeks (or even months!) understands firsthand that it is not good for our bodies or our minds. Not only are we physically wiped out, but our minds start… doing unusual things. We also start behaving like a completely different person, a stranger, whose emotions are hard to control. Some of us may even start thinking things we never would have thought if we were well rested or without pain.

It can be very hard when you yourself or someone you love is in severe pain over an extended period of time. Sometimes it might feel like you (or they) are going through this experience all alone. Perhaps you (or they) even begin to question their faith. We may not be able to see or understand why the Lord allowed our situation; however, we should not give up faith or hope. Even during these hard times, the Lord promises to always be with us. The Lord has promised: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Let us grab hold and claim that promise!

 

Jeremiah 31:25 super-imposed over a calming waterfall.

Now it is your turn! How does today’s verse encourage you? What verse or passage is blessing you today?

 

Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:

Are you a blogger? If you would like to join us every Thursday, please contact Trisha or Nicole.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design

This is the first in a series of interviews with featured bloggers, entrepreneurs, and independent ministries. Today I will be chatting with Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.

Welcome, Crystal, to A Heavenly Home. First of all, please tell us a little about yourself.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.
Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.

Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! I’m so happy to be here and talk about my life as a graphic designer.

I grew up in Upstate New York, in a town that has more cows than people. I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, so I was in Pathfinders and went to church-run summer camps.

After graduating in 2012 from public school, I wanted to know what it was like to have an Adventist education. So, I packed my bags and headed to Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. There I enrolled in their graphic design program. Before my senior year I married my childhood crush, Anthony Whitlow.

Since college, we have moved around a bit, but we are currently calling Kansas City, Kansas, our home. During the day I work for Champion, the collegiate clothing company, and at night I spend my hours building up my creative profile through my online blog, Etsy shop, and Spoonflower store.

That is pretty impressive! When did you discover your love of design?

I don’t know when I discovered my love of design because I believe I always had it. I love creating something myself whether it be crafts, paints or on the computer. In school, I did well in math and science but those topics didn’t interest me as much as my art classes.

Where would you say you find inspiration for your various graphics and fabric patterns?

How do I find my inspiration? That’s a great question! I am inspired by specific emotions triggered by activities. I really enjoy taking an activity, thinking about all the different parts of that activity, and expressing the moods through color theory.

For example, my Summer Cookout- Kansas City BBQ pattern. I created several items that make me think of a summer cookout. The colors reflect warm days and complementing that with light blues to keep things cool.

Kansas BBQ pattern by Crystal Whitlow of CW Design.
Summer Cookout- Kansas City BBQ pattern.

Your art encompasses a rather large variety; from branding to fabrics, from hand lettering to patterns, from elegant and beautiful to lively and fun. You are quite versatile! Do you have a favorite aspect of design?

I really think of Graphic Design to be my super power. I love that I can help businesses grow through branding and promotional materials, but I enjoy balancing my creativity with illustrations on surface pattern designs.

I really think of Graphic Design to be my super power. - Interview with @crystalwhitlow Click To Tweet

Super power! I like that! I have also enjoyed perusing your site and shops. Speaking about that, what inspired you to start your own online business?

I started my own business because I desire the freedom away from the 9-5 work day. Having my own business will open up more opportunities for me to grow in my creativity and expand my capabilities. I want flexible hours to be with family, have an organized home, help my husband and have time to workout.

Everyday I think of new ideas that I could design for fabrics, crafts and more, but it’s hard to work towards these ideas while working for a company.

Crystal Whitlow of CW Design
This gorgeous “Creativity is my business” T-Shirt is available at Crystal’sEtsy shop.

Naturally, I am very entrepreneurial minded. As a designer, I understand marketing so I know what I need to do to grow my brand and community. I see a load of potential in myself, and every day I’m itching to keep going and keep growing.

Truly anything is possible with persistence. -Interview with @crystalwhitlow Click To Tweet

Starting and running a business can be time consuming. How do you balance family, work, and your business?

That’s a great question. First off, I have an amazing husband! Anthony is really helpful and understanding. As a Pastor, he is also very busy, so when he is out doing visitations, meetings and other activities, it gives me time to continue working on my projects. Both of our families are in New York, so I don’t have unexpected visitors coming over while I’m hustling.

Finding balance is really difficult for me, so I’m still working on it. After a really long day at work, I’ll come home mentally drained. I often struggle with feeling like I’m not achieving enough, and I’m not making enough progress. However, I hope to transition to working on my business full time within the next few months.

Until then I do the best I can by focusing on my main goal — bring in another stream of stable income — and daily goals of what I can do each day to lead towards the main goal.

I like how you have a main goal and then set daily goals to reach it. It can be tough to put into practice, though. What advice would you give someone who wants to follow their passion but might be nervous to do so?

Just start. I am a strong supporter for entrepreneurs, especially women. God created each individual with talents and He will bless them when they put their talents to use.

There isn’t anything that someone can’t learn how to do. Even though things like accounting, taxes, and legal documents scare me because I’m worried I’ll do something horrible wrong. I can’t let that stop me though. If I don’t know something I’ll ask around or join a Facebook group and look for answers. Truly anything is possible with persistence.

You are absolutely right! Persistence is key. If you don’t mind my asking, how does being a Christian affect or influence your work?

Being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian I am blessed with hope. I do not fear death, the future or the unknown because I trust that God has a plan and is taking care of me. With that hope I have a happy dose of optimism. I try my best to translate that optimism in my branding and the core of how people can identify CW Design.

It has been great chatting with you, Crystal. Before we say farewell, is there a Bible verse or passage that encourages and motivates you that you would like to share?

The Bible verse that encourages me the most is Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse gives me so much confidence that I have a purpose. As an artist, God has a plan for me. As I begin my freelancing career, I can rest assure that God will provide me the clients and the sales to make a living doing what I love and glorify Him along the way. It’s reassuring that my art work and skill set has purpose.

Amen! Thank you, Crystal, for taking time to be with us today.

Dear friends, you can see more of what Crystal does at her website, stores, and social media channels.

CW Design: https://www.cwdesign.studio/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crystal_whitlow/
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CrystalWhitlowDesign
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CWDStudio/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crystalwhitlowdesign/
Spoonflower: https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/crystal_whitlow