Risk It for Eternity’s Sake

After hearing our pastor’s message at The Way Bible Church​ this morning, I have been mulling these verses over and over.

Colossians-3-2-web-608x405Colossians 3:1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

I feel like the Lord has been challenging me to risk things more. Not in the sense of life-threatening risks, though at times it may even be that, but the sense of risking what I have in life for eternity’s sake.

WHY? You might ask.

Well, because life is short and I’m going to lose it all at some point anyway, so why not risk big?

Why NOT love big?

Why NOT give what I have away to those who need it?

Why NOT pour myself and my talents out to invest in others lives?

Because I’m selfish and stingy and think I’m going to run out of “me”?!?

Pretty crazy when you think about it that way, huh?

I thought the same thing. So, as I read Jennie Allen’s “Anything”, I experienced a slight shift in my thinking that is causing me to question a lot of the “norm” in life.

Bring on the risk.

Life is short.

Eternity is long.

People are worth it.

Booklook Review: Anything by Jennie Allen

I knew when I saw the title that I had to choose this book. The last year of my life has been such a journey in “Anything“. The winding road involved submitting and surrendering to drastic changes in life that were not on my agenda, but God obviously had greater plans. I had the privilege of hearing Jennie Allen speak last year at MOMCon, and instantly knew that she was a kindred spirit. Jennie goes deep and speaks from the heart when she talks about her wrestling with the Lord and the course that she and her husband walked as they prayed “Anything.” The passion Jennie has for God and His word truly challenges you to consider praying this prayer for yourself…and then actually taking God up on His response!

Anything was intriguing for me, because I feel very caught between my desired “anything” and the “anything” God has thrown me into this year as a Mom with little ones. By reading through and processing this material, I was able to accept the challenge of seeing what God wanted from me right here, where I am, in the circumstances I live each and every day. Not how does God want to use my life on a grand scale, but what is my “anything” today? This book reads as if you are sitting having a late-night conversation with Jennie, and what better way to have a heart-to-heart talk about the Lord and His work in your life?!

I think Jennie and her team were right on to re-launch this book with study materials. The questions and challenges to action/application take the lessons from the page to living it out in real time. <–THAT’s where the gold is! ;-)

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any believer, and I was actually already telling my husband that he needed to read it within the first chapter. However, don’t read it if you aren’t ready to be challenged beyond your status quo. If you aren’t ready for deeper, higher, more intense adventure with the Lord, skip it. If you are ready, grab a friend and

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Introducing Morgan Rae Stanley

I haven’t been very active here on the blog this month, but wanted to introduce our sweet daughter.

Morgan Rae Stanley arrived on June 20th at 12:22am, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and was 19 inches long.

2015-06-24 23.31.19edit

Her name was chosen for my sister Morgan Elizabeth Ivey (1991) who was only with us for a few days. My sister’s life and passing was a significant experience for me that the Lord has used through the years to draw me to Himself. Rae means “grace”, and what a constant reminder it will be of the grace we have received and that we all so desperately need.

Welcome to our family, sweet girl!

#StuffMaddyDoes

Photo Credit: E.A. Creative Photography

Photo Credit: E.A. Creative Photography

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you may have seen some of my #StuffMaddydoes posts. I have so many that I cant post them all there, so I figured I would put a few here whenever I forget to post them right away. So, here are several for your reading pleasure. :)


 

Mason called to let me know he was on his way home from work, so I had a brief conversation with him and then hung up. Maddy was sitting on the couch in the living room, and as soon as I hung up, exclaimed, “Momma, you forgot to tewl him dat I cwied!”

Oh, the THREE-mones have arrived!


Maddy was sitting on the couch chewing something (also picking at her teeth), and I was trying to figure out what it could have been that she ate. I asked her what she was chewing and she said, “Uh doagcker.”

I attempted to confirm, “A cracker?” thinking she must have found a half-eaten cracker sitting under the couch or in the dining room. I stuck my hand in front of her face and told her, “Let me see, please!”

She tried to spit whatever it was into my hand, but nothing came out. She resumed digging in her teeth with her finger. I asked her again what it was and she articularly emphasized, “A BOOO-GER, Momma!”

Of course…you keep that. Nasty.


As we skyped with 이모 and Melmo, Maddy was sitting awkwardly on her feet. She wanted to move, but nearly fell over, saying, “My feets, day awwr fwozen!” I think that may have been her first experience with them falling asleep on her!


Conversation with Maddy:

Me: “I’m going to go exercise now.”

Maddy: “I’m coming too, Mommy!”

Me: “Are you going to exercise with me today?”

Maddy: “Yes!”

Me: “I love having an exercise buddy! I need my mat and my weights to exercise. What do you need?”

Maddy: “I need a snack! Can I have a banana?”

She has her priorities straight, of course!

Booklook Review: Brave Queen Esther

Growing up, I read the stories from the Bible quite a bit. Or, had them read to me. Such is the life of a ministry child. :) I also had my own “Adventure Bible“, and I always loved hearing about the women in the Scriptures, because each seemed to have a really unique struggle and story of how she overcame it. We snagged this book to review because we didn’t yet have the Esther Bible story in an easy-read book for Maddy.

Brave Queen Esther includes the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who is made queen. She is known for her bravery and beauty, and for her heroism on behalf of her people. The King chooses her to be his Queen, and then when the King’s right-hand man plots to wipe out all of the Jews in the kingdom, Esther has an opportunity to face fear and the danger to save her people from evil. This telling of Queen Esther’s story is written in the I Can Read level two standards. This means that there is age-appropriate vocabulary and ideas for young developing readers. The I Can Read Level Two is geared for those who are “Reading with help” and has “engaging stories, longer sentences, and language play for developing readers.”

I found the telling of Esther’s experience aligned with Scripture, and at an appropriate level for a young reader to understand the deeper concepts of what was happening at the time. There is solid vocabulary included, and the illustrations are also bright and engaging! There is also a pretty cool “People of the Bible” and “Did You Know?” section that provide more history and biographical details for older readers who are ready to grasp the surrounding pieces of the story. While this book may be designed at a level for older readers, I found that Maddy (now three years old) was engaged with the story and pictures, and enjoyed the roughly 30-page book.

I would recommend Brave Queen Esther to other parents or even teachers who are looking for a solid reader. I would particularly encourage those who are seeking Bible stories or Scripture-based readers to consider investing in this one or the others in the series of Zonderkidz “I Can Read” books!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Our Little Girl’s Arrival-Finale

*fair warning (again)-I share a few birth details in here that you may not want to read-this is a birth story after all.* ;-)

Roughly 5:30 pm?

We weren’t halfway to Sarah’s house (she only lived a ten min drive away) when I felt a “POP”. There truly is no better way to describe it, but immediately following that “pop”, and it was audible too, at least to me it was, I felt a gush. Thank God for those towels! :)

Here’s where it got really fun. Haha! No, really, it did. It felt like I was in a game trying to stay balanced in the van while Mom drove through rush hour traffic, all the while taking directions from Mason and I, and I was the only one who really knew exactly where we were going! I kept having to pop my head up to see where we were and the try to give instructions between contractions. It was pretty comical to me. We passed Sarah’s apartments and I laughingly had to redirect Mom to come back around. We zipped in and out of the entrance and Mason hopped up front, letting Sarah tend to me in the back. I have to give a huge shout out to Sarah for her support the remainder of the ride and into the hospital. Her hand on my contracting belly as well as her reassuring words and reminders to breathe kept me calm and focused, and we all had it in the back of our minds that, if we needed it, she had some level of emergency birth preparedness!

7-7:15 pm

I’m guessing at the time here, but I believe it was a few minutes after 7pm when we arrived at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. We purposefully avoided the ER entrance and opted for the main entrance where we could make our way up to the Maternity floor by ourselves. The last thing I wanted to do was to be in the midst of the craziness I had witnessed walking through the ER (during a previous visit)! Mom dropped us off and Sarah and Mason proceeded to help me inside. Mason tried to get me in a wheelchair, but there was no way I was sitting at this stage (keep in mind, we had no idea how far along I was, but I just knew I couldn’t sit). A sweet young Korean man tried to bring me a wheelchair also, which would make sense because I walked a few yards as quickly as I could before having to stop to breathe through a contraction. It was at this point that I realized Mason was limping, and I asked him what happened to his leg. Apparently he had injured himself playing softball that afternoon! It had to have taken us a solid 15 minutes just to get across the long lobby to the elevators, and sure enough I had a contraction several yards from the elevator doors, so we missed our first “ride” up.

7:30 pm

We arrived on the maternity floor and were instantly greeted, realizing the staff on call had no idea we were coming! Apparently the message didn’t make it from the second floor International Clinic up to L&D. That meant, my doctor wasn’t there, and the resident shot us a snide remark along the lines of, “This is why you call and tell us you’re coming!” No joy stolen here-we knew it was time to meet our girl. Sure enough, it wasn’t but a few minutes in the room, changing into my lovely Korean maternity L&D gown (they are actually pretty great-buttons up the front so you’re covered and have easy access for breastfeeding) that they had me get into bed so they could see how far I really was. Let me tell you, trying to hike your leg up onto a hospital bed when you are mid-contractions and can’t sit is pretty crazy. I really wouldn’t say that I had been in “pain” before this next phase, but when they had me lay on my back to check my progress, I was in PAIN! I went from uncomfortable, experiencing pressure and waves of contractions and tightening to OWWWWW!!! *lesson learned-laboring on your back is a BAD idea if you want to actually endure it pleasantly.* After the nurse had checked me, she looked right at me and I felt her press her hand to my perineum (holding Maddy’s head in). She looked me straight in the eye and said, “NO push!” and then yelled to the rest of the staff “DELIVERY!”

7:50 pm

I was immediately rolled in my labor bed to the delivery room, where I was instructed to transfer myself to the delivery table/bed. WHAT? I think I must have looked at them like they had three heads! During the several minutes it took me to hike myself over, the resident confirmed a few requests that were in my chart and then asked if I wanted an epidural. “NO!” Really? I want you to just let me have my baby…I can’t even sit up, and I specifically said that I didn’t want one, so why are you asking?! Wasn’t the nurse just holding her head in? Yeah let’s just get this over with already. The nurses were flying in high gear around me, but I was pretty alone in the room, and adamantly asked, “Where is my husband?!” No one had made it into the delivery room with me yet, but I was NOT going to intentionally push until he was at my side. Thankfully, Mom had been able to park and find her way up with the camera, and was hearing what all was going on inside and nudged Mason into the room.

7:57 pm

It wasn’t but two pushes from this point and Madeleine was born at 7:57 pm Korea time on May 23, 2012!

2012-05-23

Mom and Sarah had made it in the room too, and helped get some great pictures of Maddy’s first moments with us.

2012-05-23_daddy

 

And this picture explains why Mason hadn’t made it in the room sooner…he was busy following orders to put a gown, cap and mask on!

2012-05-23_grams

And, as you can see, Mom obliged their request to a certain extent, but got her hands on Maddy as soon as she could. :D I was so grateful that my Mom was able to be there for not just my first birth experience, but for her first grandchild’s birth!

2012-05-23_snuggles

Finally back in our room (I was in recovery for some time after all of that), resting and soaking up the best newborn snuggles of all time. Happy Birthday, Madeleine Caillat!

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2 continues here.

Part 3 is here!

Our Little Girl’s Arrival-Part 3

*fair warning-I share a few birth details in here that you may not want to read-this is a birth story after all.* ;-)

The next part is a bit of a blur.

Was it ten minutes? thirty?

I’m really not sure…

but I do remember trying to go to the living room to help call the hospital, insurance company, etc (these calls had to be made before we left the house) while we waited for Mason to get home. However, I could not get comfortable in any way, and was completely unable to focus, so I ended up back in my bedroom pretty quickly.

Somewhere in here Mason had arrived home, checked on me, and then took over trying to get through to the insurance and hospital-it all worked out one way or another, and he spoke with someone at the International Clinic to tell them we were on our way pronto!

After laying back down, I had felt like I needed to use the restroom, but also felt some small trickle of discharge. Sure enough, there was the mucus plug/bloody show, and instead of just having waves of contractions, I instantly felt my body taking over to push at the end of each contraction. I also felt instantly HOT. My mom came to check on me, and I remember telling her, “I feel like I need to push.?..” followed by turning my head away from her at the door, and gagging because I felt like I might lose my lunch (it had been tuna that day, and I definitely didn’t want to taste that again, so thankfully I held it in). :)

From the look in my mom’s eye (she probably said something too), and the flashback to the different stages of birth (it felt like I went from nothing to “transition” in a split second) I knew it was time to move. I had the sense to put one of my extra large pads in my underwear, and requested that one of the hand towels I had in my “go” bag be wet down for me. Oh, I was SO thankful for that towel in the next hour or so. I also had a moment of clarity to remind someone, anyone, to make sure we had a couple old towels in the van…you know…in case something happened…

There were some quick decisions made at this point:

-stick with the plan to go all the way to Seoul to our hospital? Yes.

-pick up Sarah (our friend and doula)? If she is available. She is? Then, yes!

-crank up the AC so that everyone else is FRIGID but the lady in labor is halfway comfortable? YES!

The last thing I remember at home was trying to get in the van, NOT being able to sit at all, and then getting on my knees on the floor. That and the looks on Meredith and Lauren’s faces as I was clearly well on my way to delivering Madeleine-it would just be a matter of time, and none of us were truly sure if we would make it to the hospital!

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2 continues here.

Our Little Girl’s Arrival-Part 2

I look back, and I’m so thankful for the smallest of needs realized…like a loaf of bread that led to perfect timing.


 

I remember sleeping through the night pretty well, and by this point you have to know that I was used to the contractions. I had been having these tightening sensations for months now, so to have them in my sleep wasn’t a big deal. Plus, the lower back discomfort had pretty much dissipated when I laid down to rest.

The morning of May 23rd I can’t really remember well. It’s kind of a fog. I think because it was like so many other mornings I had experienced for the month or so prior that I was “on bed-rest”, so there was not much unique to distinguish it. Mason left for work early, Mom came to check in on me, and at some point late morning or early mid-day I took a shower. I wish I could remember exactly when the shower was, because I do remember some more significant back pain then-definitely “back labor” now that I reflect on it!

I ate some lunch and rested on the couch for a bit, reading, watching a show, and trying not to overthink the contractions that were coming just a tad more frequently than before. Mason planned to stay after school that day to play softball with some of the staff and students, and we figured no rush so why not? There was still no pattern to the contractions, so when Mom and I chatted early in the afternoon we figured today was the day, but also decided it would be good to head to the hospital that evening after rush hour, say 7pm so that we could eat dinner at home and not be too rushed to get there for their official “check-in” by 4pm. <–no way we were going to make that because it was already a little late to start that trek. Mom left and was going to grab a couple ingredients from the store for dinner.

It couldn’t have been twenty minutes later that I had gotten up to use the restroom and saw a text message from my friend Lauren asking if we needed anything from the store. I told her that my Mom was going, and that we were planning to head to the hospital that evening, so I didn’t think we would. I sent the message, and then remembered we were nearly out of bread, so I asked Lo to grab a loaf for us. Thank God I did! I look back, and I’m so thankful for the smallest of needs realized…like a loaf of bread that led to perfect timing.

It wasn’t moments later that it felt like someone flipped a switch and I suddenly had to focus to stay calm through contractions, was struggling to find a comfortable position, and had to breathe through contractions. Lauren came into our apartment within a few minutes with that loaf of bread and quickly helped decide (because I honestly think my brain was already disengaged from any decision-making) that she needed to find my Mom so that we could head to the hospital earlier than planned…only Mason wasn’t home yet!

If you want to read the first part of this story, head here.

Our Little Girl’s Arrival-Part 1

I will start with just before Madeleine was born. Diagnosed with pre-term labor, I was sentenced to bed rest for several weeks (a few weeks earlier than I had planned to begin my maternity leave). Not only did this leave my co-workers in the lurch, but it left me laying at home, unable to finish the baby prep that needed to take place. I couldn’t cook or clean, but thankfully our community stepped in to care for us with meals and even rides to the hospital for check-ups! Thankfully my dear friend, co-worker, and neighbor Lauren came to help be my arms and legs, sorting through and setting up baby things so that we had what we needed prepared for Maddy’s arrival.

During this season, Mason and I were unsure of exactly when we would be leaving Korea due to the unknown of Maddy’s arrival. There were so many factors at play that we thought it best to wait to spend the $$$$ on our plane tickets. Also in this category of travel was the unknown of what we would be “doing” or where we would be going after she was born. Both of our job contracts were coming to an end, but we again were feeling blind.

I think it was Monday, May 14th that we “thought” I was in labor and had been advised to head to the hospital (contractions were coming closer together, every 5 min). Due to the complications we had experienced, we had decided to stick with a birth plan that included delivery at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea since they had superior care should something happen to Maddy or myself, along with the language help the International Clinic provided us (Mason had very little skill in Korean language comprehension so we wanted him to know what was going on). After about 24 hours in the hospital, we headed home to wait some more and my doctor headed to a conference for the next week.

Not too much happened in between other than my Mom arriving from the USA and the regular contractions continuing, but with no other progress.

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The evening of May 22nd I had some discomfort in my lower back and continued to have contractions (which were nothing new at this point…I had felt contractions for over a month). I wondered if our Little Girl would make her appearance on her due date (I was also a due-date baby). My mom, Lauren and I went for a walk that evening after dinner, and Lauren took a few pictures so that I could look back and see what I looked like full-term (picture above). I’m also pretty sure that dress was about the only clothing option I had that was comfortable and fit!

I went to bed that night taking the advice I had learned in our birthing classes, to rest as much as possible and not become overly anxious or excited for every little contraction. Time to wait…

Product Review: Beardsmen Spirit Beard Oil & Mustache Wax

2015-04-30 00.46.21We were pretty excited around here to have a chance to test out some cool “beard care” products when I found out that Beardsmen Spirit was launching a new line. Since my husband has kept a beard for most of our relationship, it’s part of our normal routine and toiletry shopping, but it can be hard to find grooming products that aren’t overly smelly or have a weird texture. We both prefer him to keep a beard and facial hair, but I am adamant that it has to be tamed and maintained well, which requires investing in some tools and products to help get the job done right.

I know that many of you have that preference as well, so here is our take on these products and how well they worked for us!

Beardsmen Spirit Beard Oil

Mason used the Beardsmen Spirit Beard Oil daily for ten consecutive days and was overall positive. He liked that it softened his beard, making it much less coarse than before. It also seemed to give it a shine, and made it easier to control the scraggly or wayward hairs when he combed and groomed it daily. Another positive was that it took away some of the itch from under the beard. As far as the smell, he said it wasn’t too overpowering, and was manly enough without smelling like automatic transmission fluid. I never even noticed a smell the entire time he was using these products!

The only element that he said wasn’t quite as positive was that he had to use a nickel-sized drop rather than the suggested dime-sized drop. However, he also really wanted his beard to shine and had a lot of hair to cover, so it wasn’t truly anything negative or something to complain about.

Beardsmen Spirit Mustache Wax

My husband has a pretty understated mustache, but while the full beard comes and goes, the mustache is always with us. :) He used the Beardsmen Spirit Mustache Wax daily for ten consecutive days as well. Here was his take on his experience using the mustache wax:

“It was simple to use, with simple instructions, but it took a while (longer than I expected) to break down the wax between my fingers before applying. But, I’ve never used mustache wax before…

However, it was worth the wait. I was able to get some of the hair connecting my mustache and beard to lay properly.”

His experience (and mine) was the same as the beard oil in that it was manly but understated. The good thing was, especially since the products are directly under your nose, you could smell them, but they were not overpowering and they didn’t linger throughout the day. So, no worrying about having the fragrances clash between cologne and these products!

As far as the texture for this one, it didn’t change the feel of his facial hair as significantly as the beard oil, but it did make it more manageable and controlled. It also didn’t cause the hairs to clump together!

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Recommendations

We would recommend both products, but the Beardsmen Spirit Mustache Wax particularly to those friends with a prominent mustache. The Beardsmen Spirit Beard Oil on the other hand, Mason recommends “to anyone man enough to actually maintain or care for their beard.”

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I received these products free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255<http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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